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Cracker Squire


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Location: Douglas, Coffee Co., The Other Georgia, United States

Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

More so than his acceptance speech, we know it has come down to this 1st debate for Kerry -- A couple of other Presidential debates that made history.

Like so many, I remember the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon Presidential Debates as if they were yesterday. There were four televised "Great Debates" between Senator Kennedy of Massachusetts and Vice President Nixon.

The first ever was held in late September, and 70 millions viewers tuned in, an incredible number, to watch in black and white.

These Great Debates marked television's grand entrance into presidential politics. They afforded the first real opportunity for voters to see their candidates in competition, and the visual contrast was dramatic.

In August, Nixon had seriously injured his knee and spent two weeks in the hospital. By the time of the first debate he was still twenty pounds underweight, his pallor still poor. He arrived at the debate in an ill-fitting shirt, and refused make-up to improve his color and lighten his perpetual "5:00 o'clock shadow."

Kennedy, by contrast, had spent early September campaigning in California. He was tan and confident and well-rested. "I had never seen him looking so fit," Nixon later wrote. (Nixon would later refuse to debate in the 1968 and 1972 presidential campaigns. As a result, there was not one presidential debate during Vietnam.)

In substance, the candidates were much more evenly matched. Indeed, those who heard the first debate on the radio pronounced Nixon the winner. But the 70 million who watched television saw a candidate still sickly and obviously discomforted by Kennedy's smooth delivery and charisma.

Those television viewers focused on what they saw, not what they heard. Studies of the audience indicated that, among television viewers, Kennedy was perceived the winner of the first debate by a very large margin.

Commentators broadly agree that the first debate accelerated Democratic support for Kennedy (for you younger readers, there was much discussion about Kennedy being Catholic both before and after the convention).

In hindsight, however, it seems the debates were not, as once thought, the turning-point in the election. Rather than encouraging viewers to change their vote, the debates appear to have simply solidified prior allegiances. In short, many would argue that Kennedy would have won the election with or without the Great Debates.

Next let's run the clock forward 20 years. The Reagan-Carter debate could be said to stand for the proposition that debates can change the direction of presidential races.

In 1980Ronald Reagan used his only debate with President Jimmy Carter to overcome questions about his capacity to be president, and in doing so turned a close race into an electoral landslide.

Did you see the Prime Minister on TV last night? -- How Tony Blair Handled It.

The British prime minister showed respect for his constituents by not glossing over the war in Iraq and by not scorning those who consider it a terrible mistake.

From a 9-30-04 N.Y. Times editorial:

Watching Tony Blair is always instructive for Americans, and sometimes the source of envy. He faces much the same political conundrum as President Bush - a war gone wrong in a charged political season - with the added fillip that he followed Mr. Bush's lead into Iraq. But Prime Minister Blair has acknowledged the validity of the criticism he faces, and he is also not pretending that things in Iraq are humming along on schedule. "I entirely understand why many disagree," he said at the annual meeting of his Labor Party on Tuesday.

With Bush Advancing, Missouri May Be a Battleground All but Conquered.

A 9-30-04 N.Y. Times article reports that things don't look too good for Kerry in Missouri. Excerpts:

[Missouri's] 11 electoral votes are certainly a prize worth winning, and Missouri was listed as a battleground state by both parties as the campaign began. It has symbolic significance as well. In every presidential election over the last century, with the single exception of 1956, Missouri has gone with the winner, usually by a margin closely approximating the national figure.

Neither wholly Southern nor wholly Northern, fully Eastern nor fully Western, it is America writ small. Most of its demographic characteristics - its residents' age, marital status, income and educational levels - mirror the nation's.

John R. Petrocik, chairman of the political science department at the University of Missouri, a national authority on voting, said that "the election is pretty much resolved here."

"So far Bush has told a better story," Professor Petrocik said. "And John Kerry hasn't explained his vision for the country, what he would do differently.

"I still think Iraq could elect Kerry and defeat Bush. It's Kerry's magic bullet, but he hasn't really fired it yet. He did a good job in his speech in New York a week or so ago, but he didn't keep at it. He should have made the same speech again and again, five times in the next week. You don't win the presidency with a laundry list."

Missouri is a little more conservative than the country as a whole, so as the country shifted toward Mr. Bush in the days after the Republican convention, Missouri seemingly shifted a little more.

Social conservatism in rural areas, reinforced by intense patriotism that tends to favor Mr. Bush, plus social and economic conservatism in the outer suburbs of the big cities, could add up to a majority for the president.

I'm with the GOP Election Board member on this one -- Voting twice in Fulton results in recommendation of felony charges by "C" Cox.

The 9-30-04 ajc notes that Secretary of State Cathy Cox's office recommended last week that the Fulton County District Attorney consider pursuing felony charges of voting twice in the same election against Fulton County resident Craig Kidd.

According to the story, Kidd voted in the five-day period preceding the election known as advance voting.

Then on election day, Kidd -- a poll worker and also a worker in a local state senatorial campaign -- went to his precinct to make sure he had been recorded as having cast a ballot. Kidd said a poll worker told him he was not listed as having voted early, and advised him to vote again to be sure his vote was counted.

In criminal law there is something is known as mens rea, Latin for criminal intent.

I note this since Kidd contacted the ajc later on the same day after having voted twice to alert reporters that he was concerned some people were being allowed to vote twice, since it appeared that Fulton County was not keeping track of who had voted early. (The article does not reveal whether Kidd specifically revealed his personal situation. Maybe the article intended to imply he did.)

After learning of Kidd's actions, Cathy Cox's office recommended the felony prosecution noted above.

Fulton County election officials say they investigated and found no other advance voters had voted again on the day of the election.

Cox, who has championed advance voting, said her office has subsequently alerted local elections officials of the importance of making sure voter rolls on Nov. 2 reflect people who already have cast a ballot.

Fulton County election officials acknowledge their mistake in not having such information at the precinct when Kidd voted, and report that Kidd's advance vote was tossed out after it was discovered.

Early votes are marked with a numbered identification in case they are later challenged, according to Fulton County election officials.

Randy Evans, the Republican representative on the state Election Board chaired by Cox, was outraged by Cox's decision to pursue the matter against Kidd, saying Cox is pursuing criminal charges because Kidd is a Republican.

Evans also accused Cox of overlooking more serious cases of voter fraud, and produced documentation of a vote-buying case by a Democratic candidate in South Georgia's Coffee County [a/k/a God's country] that resulted in fines levied by an administrative law judge but no criminal prosecution.

Cox denied acting on politics and said she had a duty to report what she felt was a serious violation of election laws.

Too bad the voter is a Republican. Otherwise he could support Rep. Rep. Bob Holmes and Rep. Tyrone Brooks in their attempt to restore voting rights to felons, just in the highly unlikely event Kidd is adjudged a felon.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Do as I say, not as I do -- The Nov. 2 same-sex amendment and minding someone else's business.

We all know the adage about not discussing religion and politics in polite company.

Forget that for this post. I will sin for yet a third time and get into someone else's business.

And my readers know that I value and try to live by the words of the Master and Greatest Teacher of all times who taught in Matthew 7:1 "Judge not, that ye not be judged."

For this post, forget that also.

The PI for 9-30-04 reports that "late in the day [Wednesday] came the news that a lawsuit aimed at blocking Georgia's Nov. 2 referendum had failed, at least in Round 1 [Round one meaning Judge Russell of course, as we thought based on the Judge's earlier comments, and subsequent rounds being around the corner for certain]."

This PI column reports that the powers-that-be have declared Georgia the longest of shots among states with respect to defeating the same-sex marriage at the ballot box.

Consequently, money — or the lack thereof — will and require a low-key campaign in Georgia. Low-key was noted to include door-to-door campaigning, followed by a personal phone call.

Why not a plug on a blog fellas. This is cheaper than it comes.

My opinion on this matter is of record, and thus all this post will do is pass along a somewhat wicked sort of thought that what occurred to me as I read the PI column.

First, I understand from this PI column that Georgians Against Discrimination (which I hereby and henceforth will refer to by the acronym "Gad" for the reason hereinafter noted) will be the main organization working for nay votes.

Theprior principal organization Georgia Equality is backing off and will go to work on related issues expected to surface during the next legislative session (such as bills to ban adoptions by gays and to bar their service as foster parents).

From reading this PI, the following occurred to me:

Gad is closer to God than the Christian Coalition is to Christianity (pick your variations, such as Gad has more in common/more to do with God than the Christian Coalition does with Christianity, etc.).

I know, I know (or at least I hope), I am better with politics than religion (at least politics that do not involve getting votes for myself as a candidate).

A picture is worth a thousand words. One Shipp column is worth a thousand of Sid's posts -- Minority voters need mainstream white support to succeed.

While growing up -- specifically from the years 1959 to 1964 or so -- there was one 30 minute show I rarely missed. During this show producer Rod Serling would take us on a journey one evening each week.

The journey would take us "on a through route to the land of the different, the bizarre, the unexplainable. Go as far as you like on this road. That's the signpost up ahead - your next stop, the Twilight Zone!"

Had my friend Bill Shipp been writing the show's scrip in the context of the subject of one of his columns for this week, he might have changed the foregoing a bit to say that the signpost up ahead -- rather than telling us our next stop was the Twilight Zone -- may have just read: "Warning, Disaster Ahead."

Mr. Shipp's column is titled "Symbolic issues undermine minority power." To leave any of it out of this post would be a disservice to the author and readers of this post, akin to the disservice being rendered by the topic of his column. The column:

Even as their voter registration increases significantly, Georgia's black Democrats are losing their grips on the power levers of state government, if not political reality.

Much of their slippage is the fault of their own leadership.

That is tragic. Many Georgians, black and white, have worked for decades to make certain that blacks and other minorities can become full participants in government.

As the election approaches - and more citizens are thinking in political terms - some black legislative leaders have become embroiled in largely symbolic issues that accomplish little more than incense the overwhelming majority of voters.

Rep. Bob Holmes and Rep. Tyrone Brooks, two of Atlanta's most prominent African-American lawmakers, have announced they will introduce legislation to restore voting rights to felons.

They contend black male voter participation is diluted because so many black men are convicted felons. Under Georgia law, those convicts lose their voting rights, at least until their prison sentences have been served and their probation or paroles successfully completed.

What is the obvious solution to this seemingly suddenly pressing problem?

If you answered, "If they want to vote, let them obey the law," you'd be dead wrong in the eyes of Reps. Brooks and Holmes.

They and some of their colleagues say the answer is restoring voting rights to felons on probation or parole.

Let everyone who agrees with that idea raise his hand. See, not many hands go up. Most folks believe felons - people who have committed serious crimes - should earn the restoration of their rights by proving they can obey society's rules.

Holmes and Brooks say one out of seven black males in Atlanta can't vote because they are felon probationers or parolees. "You shouldn't lose your right to vote until you die and go to heaven," Brooks says.

Even so, hardly anyone seriously believes the voter rolls would be significantly increased if felons were allowed to vote. The average convict, just out of jail, is not likely to dwell on his ballot-box franchise.
Besides, black voter registration is climbing sharply, even without the benefit of parolees in the voting booth.

From Sept. 1, 2002, to Sept. 1, 2004, net voter registration among blacks increased by more than 111,000 - 44,000 males (up 13 percent), 67,000 females (up 12 percent). During the same period, net registration among whites rose only slightly, just 4 percent among both males and females. Still, white voters maintain an overwhelming advantage on Election Day. (Those figures come from Secretary of State Cathy Cox's office.)

So why the sudden push to get convicted drug dealers, stickup men, burglars and other wrongdoers on the voter rolls?

It's hard to say, except it fits a disappointing pattern of leadership.
Just a week ago, some minority leaders turned out to support a move to provide driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. Talk about a non-starter among mainstream Georgia voters.

Then there's the court battle over the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages. Polls indicate the gay lifestyle is least acceptable in the black community. But some black leaders see the issue in terms of civil liberties. They may be right on ethical grounds, yet their politics are dead wrong, just before the election.

When Roy Barnes was elected governor, he promised to minimize the presence of the Confederate emblem on the state flag - in his second term. For black leaders, that promise was not good enough. They insisted upon immediate action - and they received it. Barnes went down in defeat. That symbolic flag decision destroyed the black-white Democratic coalition that had controlled state government for 40 years and empowered blacks to reach new heights in elective office.

Two years later, some black leaders still don't understand. Minority voters need mainstream white support to succeed. Campaigning for rights for lawbreakers on the eve of an election is not an effective way to mend the old alliance.

On the other hand, Reps. Holmes and Brooks and their chaplain, the Rev. Joseph Lowery, may enjoy standing on the outside and looking in while they whip up support for issues guaranteed to galvanize their adversaries.

No need to apologize. We're used to hearing such trash talk from V.P. on U.S. Senate Floor -- S.C. U.S. Senate Race & DeMint worker regrets insult.

The Augusta Chronicle reports:

The director of operations for Jim DeMint's U.S. Senate campaign from South Carolina apologized Tuesday for using derogatory and offensive language to describe the chairwoman of a gay and lesbian rights group.

"I am truly sorry for causing you any harm," Ms. Allen wrote in an e-mail to Lisa Hall, who heads the CSRA Rainbow Alliance. "I stand corrected on all points and will be more polite and considerate in the future."

The flap started Monday, when Ms. Hall e-mailed Ms. Allen and asked if Mr. DeMint planned to attend a Rainbow Alliance meeting in October.
Ms. Allen, who apparently thought she was forwarding the message to a colleague, instead sent it back to Ms. Hall, with "come on, farg, give this dike (sic) a reply" written at the top.

Mr. DeMint, who is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, also wrote an e-mail apologizing to Ms. Hall.

"Mrs. Allen's remarks do not reflect my beliefs or the character of the campaign that I have conducted," Mr. DeMint wrote. "But because I am the candidate whose name this campaign bears, I feel it is my responsibility to apologize."

Political professionals said that while the comment was clearly disrespectful, it would probably have little effect on Mr. DeMint's race against his Democratic opponent, state Education Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum.

"Given the culture of the area in which we live, there is a lot of intolerance toward gays," said Dr. Bob Botsch, a political science professor at the University of South Carolina Aiken. "I wouldn't be surprised if it gained him some votes.

"That's a sad commentary."

The incident also highlights a modern-day political lesson that Dr. Botsch teaches all his students.

"Never put anything in an e-mail that you wouldn't want your mother to read," he said. "Somebody should have taught her that rule."

Carter: Reagan a warmonger; LBJ: Goldwater means nuclear war (daisy girl ad); Bush & Kerry: Politics of fear -- 2004: Strategy of Stressing Dangers.

Must reading for today:

The Politics of Fear
Kerry Adopts Bush Strategy of Stressing Dangers

By Jim VandeHei and Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writers
September 29, 2004

With voters expressing anxiety about Iraq, nuclear attacks and the threat of terrorism in the first presidential election since Sept. 11, 2001, John F. Kerry and his supporters are adopting President Bush's strategy of playing on the public's security fears and sometimes using incendiary charges to stoke them.

Kerry, the Democratic National Committee and party officials have warned voters in recent weeks, sometimes without evidence, that a second Bush term could lead to greater casualties and another Vietnam in Iraq, a military draft, a secret call-up of reservists and even a nuclear attack on U.S. soil. They are also suggesting Osama bin Laden could remain a haunting and elusive threat unless the Democratic presidential nominee takes charge.

In a dramatic strategic shift that two of his top advisers called "high-risk," Kerry and his campaign are using a string of speeches, statements and television ads to argue that the United States will be more susceptible to higher casualties in Iraq and future terrorism threats at home if Bush is reelected.

At the same time, Kerry's friends, surrogates and financial supporters are using ominous language to warn of catastrophes, including the potential of a "mushroom cloud," if Bush wins. "It's definitely riskier, because Kerry is making people think about what we see in polls people are reluctant to think about," Democratic consultant Bill Carrick said. "Nobody wants to think about beheadings, casualties or fatalities."

Some Democrats worry that Kerry could inadvertently help Bush by spooking voters about dangers ahead, because polls have consistently shown the president with a clear edge on whom voters consider the strongest leader and the one most able to deal with terrorism. Recent public polls suggest Kerry's strategy so far has not changed the dynamics of the race.

A senior Kerry adviser said the only way Bush can be defeated is if Democrats win, or neutralize, the debate on Iraq by playing up chaos and casualties there and convince voters the war undermined the hunt for bin Laden and other terrorists. The adviser said Kerry will make the argument the central theme of tomorrow's debate, when millions of Americans get their first look at the two candidates side by side.

The Democratic offensive comes as Bush and Republicans are increasingly suggesting the election of Kerry would better the chances of another Sept. 11, or worse.

With both campaigns embracing what often amounts to the politics of fear, voters are getting a heavier-than-ever dose of speeches and television ads from Bush, Kerry and political groups designed to convince them the other ticket would make the world more dangerous and increase the likelihood of casualties or catastrophe. Historians say this tactic is more pervasive than in past presidential campaigns, including Jimmy Carter's portrayal of Ronald Reagan as a warmonger in 1980 and Lyndon B. Johnson's famous "daisy girl" ad that warned of nuclear war if Barry M. Goldwater was elected in 1964.

To be sure, Bush has spent more time and money trying to convince voters his opponent cannot be trusted to keep the country safe in troubled times, sometimes slicing and dicing the Democratic nominee's words to create a false impression of Kerry's positions, analysts say. For instance, Brooks Jackson of the nonpartisan FactCheck.org said a recent Bush ad was "egregious" in splicing together footage of Kerry remarks to make his "reasonably consistent stand on Iraq sound like he was all over the lot." In the past, the Bush campaign has cited Jackson's organization as a reliable, independent source about ads.

Bush again pounded Kerry as weak on terrorism with a new ad that began running yesterday in several states, including on one of the few radio stations with clear reception in Spring Green, Wis., where Kerry is preparing for tomorrow's debate. "Weakness invites those who would do us harm," the ad states.

"It's not surprising that both campaigns are looking for the leverage point: scaring the hell out of the American public about what would happen if the other guy wins," said Tobe Berkovitz, associate dean of Boston University's College of Communication. "The surprise is: Why did Kerry wait so long to start slugging at Bush?"

The answer is that Kerry's team had gambled on building up the Massachusetts senator's image in the belief that voters were familiar with Bush's weaknesses and the turmoil in Iraq. "We don't have to join their game," Kerry adviser Tad Devine said in July after Bush ads repeatedly depicted Kerry as indecisive and weak on defense. At the time, Kerry calculated -- aides now say miscalculated -- that his Vietnam and Senate résumé would be enough to satisfy voters of his ability to serve as commander in chief and allow him to focus more heavily on health care, education and the economy.

But starting two weeks ago, Kerry scrapped plans to focus on domestic issues when public and private polling showed Bush pulling away in several key areas, including whom voters trust most to win in Iraq, defeat terrorism and keep the United States safe.

Kerry launched his new offensive on Sept. 15 with a quick strike on Bush's handling of Iraq, saying the president is creating a "fantasy world" by denying casualties, indiscriminate killings and chaos throughout the country. Soon after, Kerry charged that Bush had a secret plan to call up reservists and National Guard members if he is reelected, though Kerry's campaign has not offered any evidence to support the allegation. A few days later, Kerry said it is possible the draft would be reinstated under Bush, which the White House vehemently denied.

Virtually every day, Kerry has warned that if Bush is reelected, the situation in Iraq will worsen and continue to divert attention from nuclear threats and terrorism.

One Kerry ad appears to hold the president accountable -- and paint him as out of touch -- for "over 1,000 U.S. soldiers dead, kidnappings, even beheadings of Americans." It continues: "Still, Bush has no plan what to do in Iraq. How can you solve a problem when you can't see it?" Another spot blames Bush for "the Iraq quagmire" and points out that "the Pentagon admits terrorists are pouring into Iraq" -- suggesting that the war has actually made Americans less safe.

Democrats and outside groups are striking a more ominous tone. "A mushroom cloud over any American city is the ultimate nightmare, and the risk is all too real," Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.) said Monday. "The war in Iraq has made the mushroom cloud more likely -- not less likely -- and it should never have happened."

The DNC this week aired a commercial mocking Bush for not fulfilling his vow to capture bin Laden "dead or alive," and a new ad yesterday cited the 1,000 U.S. combat deaths and said of Bush: "But no one can tell him he's wrong."

Kerry's allies are also trying to personalize the war. Cindy Sheehan, a California Democrat whose son was killed in Iraq, will appear in a tearful ad being released today by the liberal group Real Voices. "I thought the president was rushing us into this war," she said in an interview yesterday. "I just felt betrayed."

George Soros, one of the Democrats' biggest financial backers, has begun a speaking tour to issue his warning of the long-term international consequences of reelecting Bush. Wesley K. Clark, who is advising Kerry, said Soros is "sounding the alarm for the American people."

Three strikes and you're out. I am probably going to strike out, but here goes. Kerry needs to ask us: "Are you safer than you were four years ago."

When you're batting average isn't worth a flip anyway, why not keep swinging away. I am 0 for 2 in my suggestions on "bite" and "bumper sticker" type items for the Kerry campaign.

Strike one: In an 8-8-04 I started referring to John F. Kerry as JFK. This wasn't because he was running against a W. It was because of much positive assocition with JFK, some that Kerry could stand with the soccer moms who have turned into security moms. Such moms remember hearing their moms talking about Camelot, etc.

I remember having JFK bumper stickers on my notebooks in the 7th grade, but can't recall if the campaign ever got into JFK for the USA. I clearly recall this happening four years later when it was LBJ for the USA.

Oh well, strike one. At least he has quit beting photographed with Sen. Ted Kennedy (and I did not say the other Kennedy guy -- Robert Kennedy was a great American), although he took up in lieu of this posing in bunny outfits and in his wind surfing attire.

Strike two. In my 9-2-04 post entitled "All right JFK, the battle lines are drawn. W has thrown down the gauntlet. W's battle cry: It's terrorism stupid. What are you going to do?", I told Kerry to quit talking about Vietnam and engage "the" issue as set by the incumbent, and in the process, beat him at what he says is his game -- "It's terrorism stupid."

On September 24, after his poll numbers had plummeted to a level that only a homerun tomorrow night can reverse, he picked up the message.

I noted this in my post of 9-25-05 entitled "I couldn't have said it any better myself -- Slowly but surely, Kerry is getting his message organized and to the point: 'It's terrorism stupid.'" In this post I noted:

"Less than a week before the first presidential debate, Mr. Kerry took aim at what has long been considered Mr. Bush's greatest political strength since 9/11 - the perception that he would do a better job keeping the country safe from future attacks."

Being that this was almost a month, I hereby give myself another strike, making strike two.

Strike three ??: We have grown accustomed to being asked "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"

Kerry's question needs to pin the tail on the donkey. His question:

"Are you safer than you were four years ago?"

After all is said and done, the reason the answer to this is no -- regardless of the arrogance of the administration is refusing to even acknowledge the possibility that its mistakes make the answer a clear no -- provides the reason many folks not sold on Kerry should vote for him anyway, disregarding Bush's domestic screwups.

Rexall sale. Two for the price of one -- The "I am a Georgia Democrat" Creed, by the Honorable Speaker of the House Terry Coleman.

Besides the prior post on unicorns, Bill Shipp in his latest column also reports that Speaker Terry Coleman has published a profile of a typical Democratic House member:

"I believe in a balanced budget.

"I believe in a strong public education system and affordable health care.

"I support the right to bear arms.

"I believe the government should help create jobs through economic development and infrastructure improvements.

"I support Georgia's abortion law.

"I believe in God.

"I am a Georgia Democrat."

Sounds good to me.

The votes are in. Bill Shipp hands down winner of both "Zinger of the Week" award and "Paragraph of the Week" award.

From his latest column, the Dean addresses charges by some GOP state legislators trying to depict Democratic House Speaker Terry Coleman and company as "left-wing liberals just like John Kerry:"

"Liberals" are like unicorns among rural Democrats in the Legislature. They don't exist. No white, rural Georgia Democrat in memory, except Sen. Zell Miller, has ever publicly uttered a kind word for Kerry or even approached being liberal. Just about everybody knows that.

Now tell me this (or answer me this some like to say). Has the Dean ever missed the opportunity to zing one when zinging one was appropriate? Not to my knowledge.

Regardless of one's political persuasion, this is not good news -- Growing Pessimism on Iraq, Doubts Increase Within U.S. Security Agencies.

A very disturbing article is in 9-29-04 Washington Post paints a very grim picture indeed about Iraq:

A growing number of career professionals within national security agencies believe that the situation in Iraq is much worse, and the path to success much more tenuous, than is being expressed in public by top Bush administration officials, according to former and current government officials and assessments over the past year by intelligence officials at the CIA and the departments of State and Defense.

While President Bush, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and others have delivered optimistic public appraisals, officials who fight the Iraqi insurgency and study it at the CIA and the State Department and within the Army officer corps believe the rebellion is deeper and more widespread than is being publicly acknowledged, officials say.

This weekend, in a rare departure from the positive talking points used by administration spokesmen, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell acknowledged that the insurgency is strengthening and that anti-Americanism in the Middle East is increasing.

As for a war between the CIA and White House, said one intelligence expert with contacts at the CIA, the State Department and the Pentagon, "There's a real war going on here that's not just" the CIA against the administration on Iraq "but the State Department and the military" as well.

Just when things may start going right, give 'em a Willie Horton issue. First the pledge of allegiance vote, now another -- More on voting by felons.

A 9-24-04 post is titled "Say what? In neighborhoods with high % of criminals who can't vote, the political voice of the entire community is diluted, & Ga. law is the culprit."

The post was about Reps. Tyrone Brooks and Bob Holmes, both Atlanta Democrats, announcement that they would introduce legislation they knew would not pass aimed at restoring the voting rights of convicted felons who, though out of prison, have yet to complete probation or parole.

The post noted that the Rev. Joseph Lowery and others spoke joined Brooks and Holmes at last week's news conference at the Capitol held to mark the release of a study indicating that the voting strength in entire Atlanta neighborhoods is diluted because so many black males are in the correctional system and thus can't vote.

The post suggested:

'Rather than making a futile legislative statement that does not discourage crime, why not introduce some legislation encouraging people not to commit felonies which do and should cause one to lose his or her right to vote until one's citizenship rights are restored upon completion of one's sentence.

"Such legislation could encourage adults to get into mentoring, shadowing, tutoring, being role models, or something similar that addresses the problem rather than minimizing the consequences of violating laws prohibiting behavior serious enough to constitute a felony."

"[F]aulting diluted voting power on reasonable and known consequences of serious violations of laws designed that protect all of us is a crock of baloney."

As a result of the post I received a "Dear Jim Bob" letter from someone on Sen. Ted Kennedy's staff who believes that society and not the felons are responsible for the crimes committed against society.

Such thinking was not isolated. On this week's Georgia Gang Alexis Scott predictably said amen Brother Lowery and company, amen. Bring it on baby.

(I say predictably, although based on what we noted in a 9-12-04 post, we had hoped she was trying to work on her credibility.

In that post we selected The Georgia Gang viewers as the winner of the week for being able to witness for the first time that I can remember Alexis Scott bragging and carrying on about a candidate because of the candidate's sex rather than race.)

Bill Shipp's take on the legislation as expressed following Ms. Scott's comments. Stupid or absurd. The Tyrone Brooks of the state are trying to run off the "few remaining whites in the Democratic Party," or words fairly close to this. (I thought to myself, thanks Dean, that was sort of what I was thinking, but did not put as bluntly.)

Well, today the PI that some other Democrats have come to my rescue other than just my buddy. The PI notes:

Speaker Terry Coleman called reporters to his office to express his personal opposition: "This is not an issue that the Democratic caucus agrees with these two legislators on. I don't think it has any chance of passing. [Felons] have to prove their worth and prove they're worthy."

State Rep. Calvin Smyre of Columbus, the highest-ranking African-American in the House, likewise put out the word. "Georgia Democrats are opposed to any such effort. The opinions of two Democratic members of the House by no means represent the opinion of the caucus," Smyre said. David Lucas of Macon, another African-American, was of the same opinion.

I asked in a 9-27-04 post titled " Okay class, let's take a vote on how we say it today: "I pledge allegiance . . . One Nation under [God/Allah/Buddha] -- Pledge Protection Act:"

Am I getting out on a limb to speculate that we might be hearing from Sen. Miller about some of these votes? (That post gave a link showing how Georgia's congressman voted, and I refrained from urge to list names).

Despite the statements by Coleman and Smyre -- or as the PI reports it, as a result of what follows -- Republican Sen. Eric Johnson, president pro tem of the Senate, said in an email to Republicans rallying them to action: "This is not something you laugh off. This is why Zell Miller thinks his Democratic party is dead."

You owe to yourself to read the PI's article on how the "felony issue" was handled by the leadership of the Democratic Party.

Dylan is in the news this week with his biography. Dylan said "The times, they are a-changin'." The PI's take: The times have already changed.

Footnote to post: The author of the comment to the post on felons discussed above apparently thinks that just because our Vice President thinks it is okay to use the four letter f word on the U.S. Senate floor, such is fine for this blog.

I informed the author of the comment that allowing comments to be posted on a blog such as this presumes those posting comments will appreciate the rights of others -- including myself -- to be able to read comments without being subjected to lewd language and inappropriate comments.

Differing views -- such as those reflected in the -- properly expressed are of course welcome and encouraged.

The message -- clean up your comments so I don't have to delete 'em and deprive our readers of differing views.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Cathy with a "C" Cox comes through again -- Still time to register, but only if you intend to vote Democratic.

As part of the set of recently issued emergency orders pertaining to the upcoming November elections, Secretary of State Cathy Cox has announced that the deadline to vote in November is Monday, October 4.

In order to still be able to register, however, one must swear or affirm, under oath, that he or she intends to vote Democratic on Nov. 2.

About 300,000 new Georgia voters have registered so far this year -- a 50% increase over the last presidential election. Of course since we don't register by political party, who knows which side benefits from the surge in eligible voters.

(UPATED SOURCES: on 300,000 part -- ajc; on Monday -- Sect. of State)

Embolden the enemy my foot. Bush senses something has gone awry in Iraq but that if Kerry is silenced, we won't notice. Bush "doth protest too much."

Another week, another classic column:

More Prudence, Less 'Projection'

By Richard Cohen
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
The Washington Post

In the faraway past, I was a psych major in college [I knew I liked this guy], and it was then that I discovered the useful word "projection." It was, as I recall, the tendency to assign to others the attributes or faults you had within yourself. I have in the intervening years moved on to journalism, but I still know projection when I see it. George Bush projects all over the place.

He does so most prominently when he accuses John Kerry of endangering Americans at home and, most important, troops overseas by engaging, as a presidential candidate should, in criticism of the current administration. Recently Bush set the tone for his administration and the more opportunistic members of the GOP by saying that Kerry's criticisms of the war in Iraq "can embolden the enemy." It goes without saying that emboldening the enemy is dangerous to our troops. It is very close to treason.

Something similar has been said for some time by Vice President Cheney, who warned three weeks ago that a Kerry victory would make the United States more susceptible to a terrorist attack and then, in the manner of a shyster lawyer who knows he will be overruled, took it back. He misspoke -- and he has since done so repeatedly. Also misspeaking is Sen. Orrin Hatch, who told Fox News that "Democrats are consistently saying things that I think undermine our young men and women who are serving over there." This, too, would be tantamount to treason on the part of the Democrats -- or maybe it's just stupidity on Hatch's part. Please ponder the matter.

All this solicitude for the welfare of the troops is both touching and a bit late in coming. It would have been the better part of prudence not to have gone to war in the first place. Barring that, it would have been prudent to wait until our traditional allies were as convinced as we were that Iraq was bristling with weapons of mass destruction. Even if no weapons of mass destruction were ever found, the United States still might have convinced some other important nations (besides Britain) that Saddam Hussein's repeated violations of U.N. resolutions had to be addressed. Sooner or later the world really does have to put up or shut up.

Still more solicitude for the troops might have been shown if the Bush administration had worried over its war plan a bit more. The compulsion to fight the war on the cheap meant too few troops and, once Baghdad was taken, too much chaos. The unforgivably arrogant conviction that Iraqis would embrace U.S. troops as liberators and would somehow break out in song also cost the United States lives. I doubt if any after-action report listed a single cause of death as being attributable to "criticism from home." Karl Rove may want to do something about that.

Even now there are not enough troops to do the job, an assertion made not by me but by some smart people at the Pentagon. Too few troops means that the situation in Iraq is more dangerous than it needs to be. That needs to be pointed out, not muffled. After all, lives are truly at stake.

The invocation of "the troops" to smother criticism is beyond contempt. It dehumanizes them, turning them into a political device to advance the campaign and to secure, if possible, another little slice of the electorate. It does not show, as Bush must think, a special solicitude for them but just the opposite. They are grist for his reelection.

Could it be that Bush's low blows -- and the cheap shots of others -- are uttered in total sincerity? It's possible. Bush has acknowledged almost no mistakes in the way he took the nation to war, pronounced an early victory -- and made a total mess of it. The president is not known for introspection or, for that matter, for much thought, and it could be that he actually thinks that by debating the war, Kerry is trifling with perfection. If that is the case, then he is agog in an Oz of his own.

It's more likely -- at least more rational -- that Bush senses that something has gone terribly wrong in Iraq but that if Kerry is silenced, no one will much notice. The president must, in some nagging way like a mild itch, recognize that it is his mistakes -- not Kerry's language -- that have cost American lives. In Bush's case, projection is both understandable and Shakespearean. In the words of Hamlet's guilt-ridden mother, he "doth protest too much."

Read about N.H.; substitute the word Demo. for Rep.; and you would think you were reading about Ga. -- Once bedrock GOP, N.H. now in play.

In our 9-14-04 post titled "The Electoral College 101 (with a little bit of 201 thrown in for good measure)," we noted:

"The Electoral College was designed by the Founding Fathers to place a buffer between popular sentiment and the selection of a chief executive. It awards each state the number of electoral votes that corresponds to its number of seats in the House of Representatives plus two more, the latter an effort to augment the power of small states the way the composition of the U.S. Senate does."

Well, it's not just the small states. It can be the equivalent -- low-population states.

A N.Y. Times article one of the small states, New Hampshire, and how to its surprise, it has found itself a battleground, joining West Virginia and New Mexico on the short list of low-population states so closely contested that both Republicans and Democrats believe they have no choice but to battle for a narrow advantage.

The article discusses how New Hampshire over a period of years has gone from once being bedrock Republican to now leaning Democratic, the reverse of Georgia (although I think in Georgia I am safe leaving the word "leaning" off).

One longtime Republican party leader there said the "micro-targeting" of independent voters -- the key to the election -- by professionally manned phone banks "is the most sophisticated I've ever seen."

"They can tell you the 15 people in your precinct who get Golf Digest and probably send them a letter endorsing Bush from Arnold Palmer." Page two.

This article also shows the 18 states that had the closest races in 2000. Needless to say, the presidential campaigns are focused on these states.

We are so sorry and extend our deepest regrets. Where do we send flowers? -- Stay in Alabama Judge Moore; it's a better fit for you than Georgia.

Low ticket sales kept former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore from making a Ten Commandments sojourn to Athens last night.

Paltry ticket sales for the event - by last Friday only about 300 of the 2,000 $5 admission tickets had been sold - meant that the local chapter of Ten Commandments-Georgia Inc., sponsor of the event, wouldn't be able to pay Moore's speaking fee.

(Athens Banner-Herald)

Monday, September 27, 2004

Cox says I'll run this show, thank you very much -- Faster election results on election night are on the way! Thanks, Georgia needed that.

The primary runoff of course was held on August 10. In an 8-11-04 post titled "Truth in Reporting -- And a handy source in the computer age," I picked on a news service's headline the morning of August 11 saying "Majette holds off late charge by Oxford."

The post stated:

"I understand that with a baseball game still going on, one cannot report the final score when a press deadline must be met.

"But when the above results appeared on Cathy Cox's returns, the Secretary of State's website also showed two significant counties had not reported: Fulton and Clarke. In light of this, I can't understand the late charge by Oxford aspect of the headline. The only late charge was 54 rising to 60 and 46 falling to 40."

A 9-28-04 PI explains why Ms. Cox's great reporting service was so late in putting up the numbers for Fulton and Clarke, something I could not understand. And thanks to her, why we won't have to go through the individual counties reporting in the future to see if what seems to be happening is in truth really happening results wise.

The PI reports:

Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox has issued a set of emergency orders aimed at the November elections.

Cox now will require that county registrars transmit vote totals to her office when one-third of the precinct counts are tabulated, when two-thirds of the precinct counts are tabulated and when the whole batch is finished. It is an Election Night issue. It seems that some counties have reputations for savoring the drama and wanting their numbers to have a big splash — by sending in their results only after all the other 158 counties have submitted theirs.

Are you listening, Fulton?

Cox also orders that candidates will no longer be allowed to stalk early voters.

In the same set set of emergency orders she declares advance polling spots off-limits to campaigns and candidates. During the primary, it was discovered that a loophole left early voters subject to button-holing by campaigners, even candidates, when they came to cast their ballots. DeKalb County generated the most complaints during the primary. Campaigns now must keep 150 feet away from spots where early voters do their stuff, beginning Monday, Oct. 25, through Friday, Oct. 29. The same distance rules apply to regular polling stations on Nov. 2.

Thanks Cathy, Georgia needed that.

All handlers aboard for Kerry for the 1st Debate except Charles Dickens -- What to expect pre- and post-debate.

Remember the collective sense of euphoria when Kerry made it through his acceptance speech? We didn't know if he could do it. Disregarding the emphasis on substance backfiring -- emphasizing Vietnam -- the Senator came through on delivery.

Apparently, his handlers -- and of course he has more pro's now than Carter has liver pills -- want to continue this scenario a little longer, as in right into the debate Thursday night.

Charles Dickens would not be welcome. This time the handlers want us -- I say us; by now we all realize it is those who will decide the election, the undecided and swing voters -- to watch the debate with low expectations.

Well, while it might be better if we didn't know ahead of time how we are supposed to think and react, hey, this the day of Al Gore's internet, and word does get around.

Today The Hill gives us the insight on the thinking of the Kerry team.

The Kerry campaign has enlisted congressional Democrats to play down expectations of the challenger’s performance in the first presidential debate this Thursday, and then flood the airwaves with jubilant analysis that he has won it.

The Democratic lawmakers will seek to influence media analysis by drumming campaign talking points into the press’s “echo chamber” before and after the Florida showdown.

Democrats want to avoid the mistakes they say 2000 nominee Al Gore made by ceding both pre-debate expectations and the post-debate conversation to Republicans, allowing aggressive GOP lawmakers and sympathetic pundits to set the tone for the debate analysis.

The idea is for Democrat lawmakers to create an “echo chamber” where the sounding of pro-Kerry spin would create its own reality.

Specifically, the Kerry campaign asked lawmakers to focus on the substance of the debate and not the individual styles of either President Bush or Kerry.

The perception of a Kerry victory would be easier to achieve if post-debate analysis did not devolve into discussion on Bush’s syntax or Kerry’s demeanor, the spin doctors say.

Democrats believe that Bush has successfully lowered expectations before previous debates, making a mediocre performance look impressive.

The Democratic group America Coming Together (ACT) reminded reporters in an e-mail of Bush’s “thrashing” of Gore in the three 2000 debates.

“Going into the first of three presidential debates with Vice President Al Gore, on Oct. 3, 2000, George Bush trailed Gore by eight points — 49 to 41,” ACT spokeswoman Sarah Leonard said.

“Seventeen days later, after thrashing Gore in the three debates, Bush had built an 11 point lead — 51 to 40. That is a swing of 19 points.”

Live and learn. I learned something today from the ACT email.

I watched all three debates in 2000, and the only trashing I remember seeing was what Gore did to himself. True he thrashed himself less after his initial fiasco mannerisms and actions -- gait, in your face manure eating grin when he walked up to Bush, etc. -- ut by then, the damage was done.

This isn't right; white robe crime without jail time -- First criminal indictment against Catholic priest won't go forward.

In a 9-17-04 post titled "Say what? Vote pro-choice, you'll go to hell; molest kids, hey, we won't tell -- Catholics told to let abortion guide vote over all other issues," I vented about an Archbishop telling Catholics how to vote, instructing them that "[y]ou have an erroneous conscience if you think there is some case in which you can vote for a pro-abortion candidate," and that while they may debate issues such as war or capital punishment, abortion must outweigh every other issue for Catholic voters.

I noted that we are still so close to all of the revelations about the coverup and secrecy of actions by priests in a number of American Archdioceses and Dioceses, that it sort of struck me as ironic to read that Atlanta's archbishop has the gall to be disseminating such counsel.

Well, we are closer than I realized. Today I read there was an indictment unsealed last week charging yet another priest with molesting two boys in the 1970s, this becoming the first Roman Catholic prelate to face criminal charges in the sex abuse scandal that has rocked the American church.

The article discusses a diocese having reached a $7 million settlement with 46 people who say they were abused by priests, and another where the archdiocese paid a $450,000 settlement to a man who said a priest sexually assaulted him.

(Is such behavior included in drive to limit judgments? I don't know. Just asking.)

In the indictment noted, after the indictment was returned, the district attorney in the jurisdiction said that he would not prosecute the Roman Catholic Bishop on child rape charges because the statute of limitations has expired in the case.

I am an attorney, but not a criminal attorney. But generally I would think that any statute of limitations would be tolled (that is, not run) while the assaultee (if you will) was a minor. Another topic, but hopefully no more such news will be forthcoming.

Again I note that discussing religion, more specifically someone else's religion, is something I have always felt was off limits for me, and to the extent apologies to any are in order, consider them duly and sincerely made.

(story in 24-Hour News.)

Market lifts amid rumor that bin Laden's no. 2 has been captured . . . Israeli radio cited.

Like Dan Rather, I have done no independent confirmation. But the market has risen on the story, true or not.

Senator Kerry, don't do a Howard Dean and say this is not good, real good. This would not be smart.

UPDATE: Damn, I thought the headline said bin Laden. But I'll take a triple rather than a grand slam any day.

Sir Tom Baxter goes to rescue of Damsel in Distress -- (1) Update on S.C. U.S. Senate Race & (2) Geographically, S.C. isn't far from Ga.; Politically?

In a 9-20-04 post titled "Read 'em and weep. And we're not talking about a poker hand here, but polls on the U.S. Senate race in South Carolina ," we reviewed the plight of South Carolina's superintendent of education Inez Tenenbaum who is the Democratic nominee to succeed retiring Sen. Fritz Hollings.

In the post we noted:

"This summer I thought we had a great shot at winning the U.S. Senate seats in four of our sister states, Louisana, Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina. I was estatic when Kerry chose Edwards, knowing this had to help in the Carolinas.

"Like the rest of America, South Carolina Democrats had hoped Kerry would relentlessly slam Bush on classic Democratic pocketbook and kitchen table issues -- unemployment, health care, education and Social Security. Not only has then expectation not played out, but Bush is besting Kerry on traditional Democratic issues such as the economy and education.

"If there is relief on the national level, hopefully any resulting rising tide will lift our boat in South Carolina.

"Some S.C. polls are discussed in a 9-20 article in the Augusta Chronicle."

Fortunately, today ajc's Tom Baxter gives us some positive news, reporting that the candidate (as has Kerry) has gone on the attack. In a 9-27-04 ajc article Mr. Baxter reports:

Inez Tenenbaum's U.S. Senate campaign has been a bumpy ride.

Trailing in the polls, [she] has replaced her campaign manager and advertising consultant [again, sounds like Kerry here]. She's struggled to distance herself from John Kerry's presidential campaign [yeah, even this sounds like Kerry until about a week or so ago] while relying on the help of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic National Committee to outspend her Republican opponent, Rep. Jim DeMint, more than 2-to-1.

But in the past month, Tenenbaum has put DeMint on the defensive and attracted the attention of Democrats nationally. She has locked in on the Greenville congressman's endorsement of a 23 percent national sales tax, as proposed in the Fair Tax legislation authored by Rep. John Linder of Georgia.

"She seems to have found some traction. I think she's found an issue," said Wolfgang Elfe, a retired University of South Carolina professor and volunteer for Tenenbaum. He said this as he waited at a rally Wednesday in Columbia for Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards.

The South Carolina race is the first time the Fair Tax idea has been held up to scrutiny in a major statewide contest.

[U]ntil Tenenbaum pounced on the sales tax, most observers thought DeMint's free trade position, in a state which has been rapidly losing textile jobs, would be his toughest issue. DeMint has supported the administration's trade policies and defended outsourcing jobs as a necessary part of the shift to a new economy.

Linder, who has agreed to help DeMint in his campaign, said Friday he didn't think the Republican candidate had been "very adept at responding" to Tenenbaum's attacks.

Tenenbaum's main weakness may be that she's a Democratic candidate in a largely Republican state where most voters have little use for John Kerry. Edwards' appearances at a rally and fund-raiser Wednesday marked the first time either he or Kerry has been in South Carolina since the Democratic National Convention — and that has suited Tenenbaum fine.

The careful distance she has kept between herself and the national ticket in this Republican-trending state was illustrated at Wednesday's rally. Tenenbaum sat off the mainstage with several local Democratic officials, while her opponent in this year's Democratic Senate primary, Columbia Mayor Bob Coble, introduced Edwards.

Okay class, let's take a vote on how we say it today: "I pledge allegiance . . . One Nation under [God/Allah/Buddha] -- Pledge Protection Act.

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives voted on a bill sponsored by the GOP -- although not endorsed by President Bush -- that everyone (I did not say most) recognizes has no chance of becoming law prior to the election. In fact, all recognize that it was introduced because we have an election in November. Thus the bill will die in the U.S. Senate or grits aren't groceries.

The bill outlaws Motherhood and apple pie.

Results of the House vote, 247 in favor to 173 opposed.

According to interviews conducted of those opposing, some favored Motherhood but not apple pie, some apple pie but not Motherhood, some Motherhood and apple but not pie, and some just pie but not Motherhood or apple. But none of the 173 were in favor of both Motherhood and apple pie.

Am I getting out on a limb to speculate that we might be hearing from Sen. Miller about some of these votes?

Attorney General Thurbert Baker's mama didn't raise no fool. -- Baker invites Sonny Boy to join in defending gay bashing constitutional amendment.

In my Saturday 9-25-04 post titled in part "Judge Russell does not mess around. Effort to halt referendum falters," I noted that in my 9-24-04 post I had shared my thinking about why I had thought the Attorney General Thurbert Baker might not oppose the GOP legislators becoming parties because of the perception factor.

This perception factor was that with the legislators' defense team being present, no one could say that the case for the proposed constitutional amendment being legally OK would not be thoroughly defended.

The 9-24-04 also noted:

"I think this ruling could have gone either way because of various political considerations.

"Prior to the ruling being announced, I had thought that the Attorney General might not oppose the legislators becoming parties -- and may even have gone so far to to inform the Court that it welcomed the additional defendants.

. . . .

"Thurbert Baker is a class act, and ethics is high on his list of characteristics."

In the 9-27-04 PI Galloway and company report that:

"Before the hearing, we understand that Attorney General Thurbert Baker, another Democrat, invited Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue to formally join the lawsuit as a defendant.

"He declined."

Not only is our Attorney General a class act, a damn good and an ethical lawyer, he is also politically astute.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Suggest to your state legislator that the General Assembly require itself to first review rules' impact on small business.

Rhode Island has become the latest state to require state agencies to consider how regulations would affect small businesses before issuing new rules.

Six other states have enacted similar laws in the past year, and the legislation is pending in 11 states.

The bills are based on model legislation proposed by the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy. This office makes sure federal agencies take small business concerns into account before issuing regulations.

Tom Sullivan, SBA's chief counsel for advocacy, says giving small businesses a seat at the table when rules are made not only is fair, but also results in "better decisions."

"That means more jobs and growth," he says.

(Atlanta Business Chronicle and bizjournals.)

Let's suggest to our legislators that they get on board. Why, because I am part of a small business with four attorneys who are part of an eleven person staff? No, because small businesses are the backbone of America.

Along the same line, wouldn't it be nice for Congress to have the General Accounting Office inform states about how much legislation being consider for passage in Washington will cost the states. Sometimes it's unfunded mandates; other times it's Congress cutting taxes on the national level that will result in them going up -- or the states doing without -- on the state level (as in the removal of the credit for state death taxes that will be noted in "the" post coming in a few days).

In days gone by when the Democratic Party was known as the tax and spend party, it might have been thought Congress would have resisted such legislation.

But with the GOP having won all honors as the borrow and spend party, the Democrats might want such legislation to at least let the states know upfront what it generally takes them several years to find out.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

POST UPDATED: And we have a winner. Not just any candidate, but a great one -- Rex Templeton steps up to the plate for Sen. District 1 seat (Kemp)

The Coastal Democrats come through again, as its chairman steps up to the plate for the Party to fill in for Sen. Kemp.

Rex Templeton, Jr., chairman of the Chatham County Democratic Committee, has announced his candidacy for the District 1 seat in the Georgia Senate.

The seat is currently held by Sen. Eric Johnson (R-Savannah), who had been drawn into the district with Sen. Rene Kemp (D-Hinesville).

Earlier this week Kemp announced his withdrawal from the race for personal health reasons. The veteran legislator has been battling prostate cancer.

Templeton is currently the Chairman of the Chatham County Democratic Committee, one of the best organized and most effective Democratic Committees in the state.

He has served on the Executive Committee of the Democratic Party of Georgia and is a Charter Member of one of my favorite groups, the Georgia delegation of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC).

He is a past delegate to theDemocratic National Convention.

Rex and his wife Dee Ann live in Savannah with their three young children.
Let's all help Rex make up for lost time.


Mae. If you don't know her, then you can't say you've met the best. Mae is the best in the west, north, east and of course the south. When Mae speaks, Sid listens (actually, I say "Yes ma'am").

Rex is on a short fuse. Send your contributions to:

Templeton for Senate
5 Dodell Lane
Savannah, GA 31411

Look South, brother. That is where you may find peace, prosperity and happiness. -- Georgia's seaports are long-running good news.

A 9-24-04 Atlanta Business Chronicle article reports that the Port of Savannah anticipates 150% growth in less than 15 years, said Doug J. Marchand, executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) at it recent annual State of the Port event.

"We can and will be able to accommodate this growth by completing new facilities and infrastructure improvements," Marchand said.

During the State of the Port event, Marchand asked Savannah's business and maritime leaders to help him mobilize local, state and national leaders to fully understand the Port of Savannah's strategic importance to global trade and prepare for future growth.

He encouraged leaders to join with him in an effort to make the "last mile" improvements necessary between GPA's terminals and the interstate system and other necessary road, rail and infrastructure improvements.

Marchand also reviewed the Port of Savannah's 15-year history of growth with business and maritime leaders. In fiscal 2004, the Port of Savannah's total tonnage reached 14,085,849 -- a 124 percent increase over tonnage in 1990. In 2004, Port of Savannah's total containers reached 1,572,734 -- a 289 percent increase over 1990.

Georgia's deepwater ports support 275,968 jobs throughout the state each year and contribute $10.8 billion in income, $35.4 billion in revenue and some $1.4 billion in state and local taxes to Georgia's economy.

This news confirms the good news Bill Shipp reported in a May 16, 2004 column that discussed Georgia ports.

In his column Mr. Shipp reported that:

"Georgia's seaports are prospering. The ports contribute more than $35 billion a year to Georgia's economy and account for one out of every fourteen jobs in the state, according to a study released this year by the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia.

"In fact, Georgia's two deep-water ports, Savannah and Brunswick, are becoming among the busiest in the nation. Savannah even welcomes mammoth amounts of Asian shipping that previously used West Coast ports. And foreign automobiles travel by the millions into the country through Brunswick.

"Coastal Georgia is bustling as never before. The next General Assembly will consider plans for major ports' expansion, which will add hundreds of new jobs and expand the facilities' economic impact."

As requested by the executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority, let's do our share to help mobilize state and national leaders to fully understand the Port of Savannah's strategic importance to global trade and prepare for future growth.

Mention it to your congressman and state legislators.

It is not just Savannah and Brunswick and surrounding areas that will benefit.

As noted by Mr. Shipp, our seaports account for one out of fourteen jobs in our state, and as the GPA's executive director tells us, continued growth in our seaports will mean tens of thousands of new workers who will help shape Georgia's future.

(Title taken from Mr. Shipp's column.)

I couldn't have said it any better myself -- Slowly but surely, Kerry is getting his message organized and to the point: "It's terrorism stupid."

Less than a week before the first presidential debate, Mr. Kerry took aim at what has long been considered Mr. Bush's greatest political strength since 9/11 - the perception that he would do a better job keeping the country safe from future attacks.

"Let me be as blunt and direct with the American people as I can be,'' the Democratic challenger said at Temple University. [Leave this part off next time Kerry. It adds nothing. Who would expect you to be anything other than blunt and to the point? Well, actually America would until lately. Don't emphasize this by reminding us.]

"The invasion of Iraq was a profound diversion from the battle against our greatest enemy - Al Qaeda - which killed more than 3,000 people on 9/11 and which still plots our destruction today. And there's just no question about it: the president's misjudgment, miscalculation and mismanagement of the war in Iraq all make the war on terror harder to win.

"Iraq is now what it was not before the war - a haven for terrorists. George Bush made Saddam Hussein the priority. I would have made Osama bin Laden the priority. As president, I will finish the job in Iraq and refocus our energies on the real war on terror.''

Yes! Yes! Yes! You're getting there buddy. Keep it up.

More in a 9-25-04 N.Y. Times article entitled "Kerry Promises to Refocus U.S. on Terror War."

(For that part of the title to this post on "It's terrorism stupid," see my 9-2-04 post entitled "All right JFK, the battle lines are drawn. W has thrown down the gauntlet. W's battle cry: It's terrorism stupid. What are you going to do?" where I told Kerry to quit talking about Vietnam and engage "the" issue as set by the incumbent, and in the process, beat him at what he says is his game -- "It's terrorism stupid.")

Judge Russell does not mess around. Effort to halt referendum falters -- Nov. 2 referendum and judicial activism, Post II

I should have put "Post 2" in the 9-24-04 post in a separate post in that it dealt with the Nov. 2 referendum.

In that post about Judge Russell's ruling that the state’s interests were already thoroughly represented in the lawsuit by Attorney General Thurbert Baker, I shared my thinking about why I had thought the AG might not oppose the GOP legislators becoming parties because of the perception factor.

This factor was that with the legislators' defense team being present, no one could say that the case for the proposed constitutional amendment being legally OK would not be thoroughly defended.

Boy am I a day late and a dollar short again. I am discussing the case being thoroughly defended, and we learn today in the 9-25-04 ajc that it might be over before it even gets started good.

Before discussing the case, let me remind us of what I also said yesterday in "Post 2" of my post:

"But one thing is for sure. I have a lot of confidence in Judge Russell. She knows her business and will call 'em as she sees 'em, regardless of who the parties are." Page two.

Apparently the Judge looked at some isssues that neither party had considered. I confess I had not considered what the Judge brought up, but it seems to present the correct rule and I think what she brought up will end the case, subject to appeal.

The parties came to the hearing Friday prepared to discuss the law on whether the wording on the ballot would sufficiently inform us voters of what we were voting on.

For the what it's worth department, I agree with those challenging the ballot language (with the caveat that I have done and don't intend to research the matter; this is just my opinion as an attorney without having studied the matter).

Why? Because I am a Democrat? Because I know this is a social issue that is none of my business? Because I consider it gay-bashing?

From a layman's perspective, all of the foregoing.

From an attorney's perspective, we are not informed that we are voting on two things. It appears we are only voting on same-sex marriage, but there is an important second part also.

But for the moment, and I want to emphasize only for the moment (the moment in this case being several months), this is irrelevant if Judge Russell rules the way I think she will.

Why? Because the Judge indicated that there seems to be determinative Georgia legal precedent that until a constitutional amendment has been voted on by the electorate, it is the equivalent of a bill that has not yet passed the General Assembly. "The judicial power will not be exerted . . . to stay the course of legislation while it is in process of enactment," the Georgia Supreme Court wrote in a 1920 case.

Let me help us here a bit, and I am at my house after my long Saturday morning run, and have not read the 1920 case which I might or might not when I go to the office shortly. Thus I do not know what I am going to share with you is what the 1920 case says.

But as a general proposition, courts do not issue what are known as advisory opinions. Thus you can't you file a lawsuit asking a court to rule that if such and such was done, would it be OK, that sort of thing (there is something called a declaratory judgment, but we don't need to get into that for this discussion).

By the same logic, a court is not going to come in ahead of time and tell a legislature that it cannot pass a bill because it is legally defective, such as being unconstitutional or deficient in some other respect.

The legislature passes the law, and if someone wants to challenge it to do, fine. At this time the court considers the issue justiciable. It is not just playing a "what if" game. After being passed, the proposed law became a law, and at this time it is proper to determine whether it is OK or not OK.

Laymen may regard the foregoing as inefficient. We attorneys regard it as being judicious. Why waste the court's time on something you may decide not to do (on the advisory opinion matter), or something that may be introduced in the legislature yet not become law because it does not get enough votes. In either of the foregoing situations we wasted the court's time on a what if.

And you can see where this is going with the Nov. 2 referendum. If the voters turn it down (let's be objective here, it is theoretically possible), then it was a waste of the court's time to consider whether it is constitutional. It never got "ripe" for adjudication (the justiciable word I used early).

And if it passes, and no one wants to challenge it, OK, it's law until it is successfully challenged.

But what will happen, of course, and this is why I threw in my two bits about the wording on the ballot possibly being legally defective, is that if it does pass, we all know it will be immediately challenged.

And it is at this point that the court system will say, now I will hear your arguments. This is about something that did happen, not might or might not have happened.

Inefficient you think? Well, it depends on one's perspective I assume. You've got the legislative and judicial and executive branches.

I have not studied the bill to see if the language that was to be put on the ballot was included therein. If it was, the culprit is the legislative branch (if it ultimately is found deficient).

If it was not included, then maybe the culprit was the executive branch, or Legislative Counsel, which in the latter case would be the legislative branch.

But one thing for sure: the judicial branch had no role in deciding the language to appear on the ballot.

The practical: who says the devil is not in the details. He is always in the details, and sometimes it benefits one side, and sometimes the other.

But this was a defect that was so easy to correct, and I understand could have been corrected when there was time (but I am not at all sure about anything in this paragraph). Page three.

In my post yesterday and quote above I noted that Judge Russell "knows her business and will call 'em as she sees 'em, regardless of who the parties are."

One thing you can take to the bank that I was not saying by this compliment is that she is not an activist judge (pardon the multiple negatives Mr. Shipp and authors of constitutional amendments).

The following is taken from my website.

JUDICIAL ACTIVISM -- My friend Bill Shipp recently wrote that "[http://senatorsidcottingham.com/by Gov. Sonny Perdue that the governor could not legally assume duties of the attorney general. She also once ruled in favor of a lesbian in a domestic relations case, and she voted with the majority of the court in striking down the state's sodomy law. Such activities obviously cast her as a judicial activist, according to Gov. Perdue and his allies in the anti-gay Christian Coalition."

And what does all of this have to do with the price of groceries you ask.

Well, state Sen. Mike Crotts (R-Conyers) is the person who introduced Senate Resolution 595, which authorized the gay marriage referendum, during the 2004 session of the General Assembly. As you recall, after months of debate, the resolution passed with the necessary two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate to earn a place on the Election Day ballot.

According to the ajc article linked above, Sen. Crotts was at the hearing before Judge Russell yesterday, and he left the courtroom encouraged by Judge Russell's comments.

"Here's a judge being fair, not trying to be an activist judge who is trying to circumvent the voice of the people," Crotts said.

Spare us Senator, spare us. You need to wash out your mouth with soap.

Had Judge Russell not brought up the 1920 Supreme Court case, and ultimately ruled against SR 595, not only would you have called her an "activist judge," but this would have been the nicest thing you and Jim Wooten and other gay bashers would have had to say about her.

I'm with Bill Shipp on this one. "As nearly as we can tell, a 'judicially activist' jurist is one who rules against your wishes."

And for measure, here's to hoping that if the good Judge rules that the Nov. 2 referendum can go forward, and after it is approved and thereafter challenged, if the case gets assigned to the good Judge, that she will then quality for your description of her.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Say what? In neighborhoods with high % of criminals who can't vote, the political voice of the entire community is diluted, & Ga. law is the culprit.

A day late, two posts short.

Damn, I miss reading my hard copy of the ajc for one day, and I miss a biggie that I didn't see from the ajc online. I found it early this morning looking at yesterday's paper, today's fishwrapper.

The 9-23-04 ajc has an article reporting that Rep. Bob Holmes and Rep. Tyrone Brooks said they will sponsor legislation during the next General Assembly session aimed at removing the voting ban for felons on probation or parole.

Brooks, Holmes, the Rev. Joseph Lowery and others spoke at a news conference Wednesday at the Capitol to mark the release of a study indicating that the voting strength in entire Atlanta neighborhoods is diluted because so many black males are in the correctional system and thus can't vote.

And so we are going to correct this by giving the criminals the right to vote.

What gives here?

Don't these people know what probation and parole is. But for being on probation or on parole, these convicted felons would be in jail.

But they are not talking about legislation letting inmates vote, just convicted felons while they are out of prison either on parole or probation, both of the foregoing sometimes being because we have more prisoners than prison beds (although this is not always or even the case most of the time, increasingly it will be as the number of prisoners increases faster than we have prison beds for them).

Rather than making a futile legislative statement that does not discourage crime, why not introduce some legislation encouraging people not to commit felonies which do and should cause one to lose his or her right to vote until one's citizenship rights are restored upon completion of one's sentence.

Such legislation could encourage adults to get into mentoring, shadowing, tutoring, being role models, or something similar that addresses the problem rather than minimizing the consequences of violating laws prohibiting behavior serious enough to constitute a felony.

Rev. Lowery, I heard your "sermon" at the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials (GABEO of which Rep. Brooks is president) this year. You did good, and I bought into much although not all of what you told your audience.

But this type talk where you are faulting diluted voting power on reasonable and known consequences of serious violations of laws designed that protect all of us is a crock of baloney.


I said a day late, two posts short. I also missed what is an interesting development under the headline "Legislators can't join suit on gay union, judge says" (p. C4 in the ajc's Metro section that I can't now find online).

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Russell denied the request of several Georgia legislators to be included as defendants in the lawsuit challenging the Nov. 2 ballot measure that would ban gay marriage in the state constitution.

Judge Constance Russell ruled that the state’s interests were already thoroughly represented in the lawsuit, such representation being by Attorney General Thurbert Baker.

I think this ruling could have gone either way because of various political considerations.

Prior to the ruling being announced, I had thought that the Attorney General might not oppose the legislators becoming parties -- and may even have gone so far to to inform the Court that it welcomed the additional defendants.

To understand this thinking, realize that the named defendant in the case is Secretary of State Cathy with a "C" Cox, in her capacity as the state's electons supervisor.

As a constitutional officer being sued, she is being defended by my friend Attorney General Thurbert Baker. Both Cox and Baker are, of course, Democrats.

The legislation being challenged, although supported by rural white Democrat legislators and some urban black Democratic legislators in the state house, is legislation the GOP likes to lay claim to as part of its family values platform.

So why would our Attorney General not oppose the legislators becoming defendants?

Such legislators are Republicans, and it is assumed that the Christian Coalition and other important wings of the GOP would assist in the legal costs of such defense.

With the legislators' defense team being present, no one could say that the case for the proposed constitutional amendment being legally OK would not be thoroughly defended.

But with Democrat Baker's defense team handling the defense alone, if the defense was unsuccessful regardless of their best efforts and the amendment's wording was determined to be legally defective, some could question whether the defense team really wanted to prevail.

This is law stuff versus public perception stuff. As an attorney, if you cannot adequately and fully represent your client, we have an ethical obligation to so inform the Court. Thurbert Baker is a class act, and ethics is high on his list of characteristics.

Thus my thinking he might not oppose intervention by the legislators had more to do with perception than reality.

But one thing is for sure. I have a lot of confidence in Judge Russell. She knows her business and will call 'em as she sees 'em, regardless of who the parties are.

Judge Russell we remember is the judge who was involved in the previous high profile skirmish between the Attorney General and the Governor, a round in which the Attorney General had the Governor for lunch.

This is going to be interesting.

Whoopedee-do! Youth prison educational system earns accreditation. Thanks feds. Have you ever heard of something called States' Rights?

The AP reports that the educational system for Georgia's youth jails and prisons has earned accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools for the first time, reflecting a marked improvement in the programs since federal officials ordered reform six years ago.

The educational system had been in such bad shape that the U.S. Department of Justice ordered improvements six years ago.

Isn't this great news?

The average Georgia Joe doesn't realize it, but even the best jails have the Department of Justice constantly harassing your local sheriff. I know this from my law practice working with local governments.

The DOJ gets one complaint from a rapist, and here they come. Time that could be spent looking for drugs is spent with bureaucrats and paperwork.

In the old days our grand juries took care of this. They still can come and check things out as they do with schools, and they, unlike the feds, are generally welcome.

Despite the mindset of the bureaucrats in the DOJ to try to mind the states' business rather than that of the federal government, given who is in the White House, I seriously doubt a recent development we discussed in an 8-23-04 post will result in DOJ trips to investigate Georgia prison jails.

Rather, I can only imagine how the bureaucrats in Bush's administration must have begun salivating when they read about Georgia's latest initiatives involving Georgia's new prison chief Commissioner James Donald.

In that post we noted how, inspired by President Bush's call for more faith-based involvement in the work of government, Commissioner Donald has been setting up special dormitories for selected prisoners that would allow such prisoners to work on their own faith and character while developing skills to help them turn their lives around and make it in the outside world.

This 8-23-04 post was entitled "I am reluctant to ask Mr. Warden, but it might be a factor you understand -- Is the dorm air conditioned? -- Faith-based prison dormitories in Georgia."

Hopefully NIMBY-- Budget restraits to hit State Parks in Georgia

Don't forget about "the" post coming your way. I first mentioned it in my 9-22-04 post entitled "Be on the lookout for "the" post -- Corporate tax collections on the decline in Georgia."

This post noted that "I have been wanting to do a post about the topic of taxes for a month or so, and plan on getting to it soon. So that we will be on the same page, when I note that this post has some relevance or significance to the upcoming "the" post, you will know about what I speak."

This post also has relevance to the upcoming "the" post.

As we have been reading as of late, some of Georgia's 63 state parks, historic sites and golf courses are in danger of being closed because of state budget cuts.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources, which operates the parks, has said it may have to close some of them if the agency has to cut any more from its budget.

The state Legislature ultimately decides how much money state agencies get, but the governor sets the guidelines for what state agencies should expect.

For next fiscal year, Perdue has warned agencies that they may have to cut another three percent, after at least three years of belt-tightening.

The director of the agency's division of parks, recreation and historic sites, Becky Kelley, said, "We can't achieve that amount without closing parks."


Thursday, September 23, 2004

2, 4, 6, 8, who do we appreciate? Not Congress, not today; not the GOP; not Demo's -- Bush to get 4th tax cut in 4 years. Sorry kids and grandkids.

The headline of a 4-23-04 N.Y. Times article tells the sad story: "Deal in Congress to Keep Tax Cuts, Widening Deficit."

Putting aside efforts to control the federal deficit before the elections, Republican and Democratic leaders agreed Wednesday to extend $145 billion worth of tax cuts sought by President without trying to pay for them, representing the fourth tax cut in as many years.

Approval of the tax cut package is a significant victory for Mr. Bush, who champions the extension of the cuts at every campaign stop but whose wishes had been thwarted by Democrats and a handful of Republican moderates in the Senate.

As recently as July, the Republican moderates demanded that such tax cuts be paid for either with budget cuts or with higher taxes in other areas.

By teaming up with Democrats, the Republican moderates prevented their own party leaders and the Bush administration from getting their way.

Do you recall a 9-15-04 post about the caucus known as the Republican Study Committee, or the RSC, made up of more than 90 conservative House Republicans, who were working about curbing federal spending that has soared under Republican control of Congress and the White House?

This is the group that I identified as being the ones I described on my website as "trying to convince the President’s advisors that you can’t spend yourself out of debt."

But with the election nearing, Congressional Democrats said they would not let themselves be branded as supporters of tax increases, which would occur if the expiring provisions were not renewed.

With Democrats capitulating to the Republican majorities in both the House and Senate, the handful of Republican holdouts quietly surrendered as well.

The Republican rebels, including, Sen. John McCain, who had infuriated Mr. Bush and many Republican leaders, saw their ability to block action evaporate without the votes of Democrats.

This whole thing sort of reminds me of something that happened in 1991 when the Vice President was Secretary of Defense, and is a pet theory of mine of providing at least part of the answer as to why Cheney was so bound and determined to invade Iraq and get Hussein, with or without supporting evidence, and with or without the coalition we had when we went in Kuwait.

After American troops and U.S. led forces liberated Kuwait and then stopped at Iraq's southern border, Bush I encouraged Kurds in northern Iraq and Shiite Muslims in the south to take matters into their own hands and get rid of Suddam.

Such groups, and especially the Kurds, did just that, rising in revolt against Suddam. But no help was forthcoming from America, as Bush I withheld American military support when their uprisings drew savage retribution from Baghdad.

It is something that I wish I could forget but cannot. I have never blamed Bush I for this per se; rather it is something I regard as America as a country getting blood on its hands.

For abandoning the Republican moderates, I say thanks a lot for nothing Sen. Kerry, including passing up a chance to show a little leadership.

And thank you Sen. Tom Daschle, the Senate Democratic leader, for announcing earlier this week that he would support a five-year extension of the cuts even if they were not paid for.

If Driver's Licenses, why not Voter's Licenses --Immigration-related posts, Part II

What is that line about wherever Batman is, Robin is close behind (maybe in his shadow)?

Well, in the previous post Bill Shipp notes that California recently approved driver’s license privileges for that state’s million-plus illegal residents.

(Since Mr. Shipp published his most recent column earlier this week, late yesterday Gov. Schwarzenegger followed through on his earlier promise to veto the bill that passed in August that would allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. The issue in a hot one in the California legislature, and the battle will continue.)

Mr. Shipp could have added that California often is a trendsetter for the nation. And in parts of California, something more than just debates about driver's licenses is going on. Something bigger, much bigger.

Something that would lead Mr. Shipp to say rather than just representing "a world gone haywire," something in America at least represents "a world imploding."

The debate is over whether noncitizens should have the right to vote.

This past July San Francisco's board of supervisors voted nine-to-two to put an amendment on the November ballot that would allow any parent with a child in public school to vote in school-board elections.

Part of the background for this is that more than half of the 60,000 students in San Francisco's public schools are either of Chinese or Hispanic descent. At least one out of three children in the city's school district has a parent who is an immigrant, either legal or illegal.

Those opposing voting by noncitizens in San Franscisco say being allowed to vote would cheapen the value of U.S. citizenship. They add that parents wanting to be heard can be engaged in other ways, such as attending P.T.A. meetings and volunteering at their children's schools.

Noncitizen immigrant parents say that's not enough -- there are larger issues, such as bilingual education and busing, in which they want their voices heard. At present, San Francisco school board policy requires many children to commute to schools that are far from their homes in order to achieve socio-economic diversity in the school system.

Even if the San Francisco proposal passes, it could still require an amendment to the California state constitution. That's likely to be difficult under Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

According to a 9-14-04 wsj article:

[I]mmigrant communities are split over whether to extend voting rights to non-citizens. John Zhao, a Chinese immigrant who became a U.S. citizen 15 years ago, is an outspoken critic of San Francisco schools. But he believes giving noncitizens the right to vote in school-board elections is undermining a privilege. "You have to work hard to be a citizen," says Mr. Zhao, whose daughter Lona commutes two hours to school each day.

The education initiative spotlights an intensifying debate over immigrant rights at a time when the U.S. is absorbing foreigners in record numbers.
"The story of California is the story of what will happen in other states," says Marcelo Suarez-Orozco, an immigration studies professor at New York University. California receives more immigrants than any other state and is the only one where non-Hispanic whites are outnumbered by all other races and ethnic groups combined.

Despite San Francisco's liberal bent, the education proposal has drawn strong opposition. Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a former mayor of the city, said it dilutes the promise of citizenship.

"It's political correctness gone mad -- even by San Francisco standards," says Wade Randlett, president of SF SOS, a nonpartisan group campaigning against the initiative. "Citizenship really only means one remaining thing: You have the right to vote."

Driver's licences for Illegal Immigrants? What do you think this is, a world gone haywire? Yes says Bill Shipp -- Immigration-related posts, Part I

Bill Shipp, never known as one to mince words, leaves no doubt about how he feels about an upcoming vote during the next General Assembly.

In a current column captitioned "A World Gone Haywire -- In another time, no one would have taken seriously a demand for legal driving privileges for foreign lawbreakers. That time has passed."

Has our world turned upside down? Have our elected representatives abandoned us? Is there no outrage left?

One wonders.

The Legislature will shortly approve extending to illegal immigrants, many of whom can’t speak or read English, the privilege of holding Georgia driver’s licenses.

You can take the above prediction to the bank. California recently approved driver’s license privileges for that state’s million-plus illegal residents.

The first tentative moves have been made to do likewise in Georgia. Bills have been introduced. About 150 demonstrators showed up at the state Capitol last week to demand legal drivers’ licenses for illegals. That is just the beginning.

Hardly any ranking Georgia official raised a voice against the idea. Or if he or she did, it was articulated so softly as to be inaudible.

In fact, state Rep. Curt Thompson, D-Norcross, said he thought it was high time that illegal immigrants received legal driving privileges. “I think the other states have looked at this issue and decided it’s better for safe driving conditions, better for insurance issues and better for national security,” he was quoted.

Hey, pal, driving would be safer, insurance rates lower and our nation more secure if our government enforced immigration laws. The Twin Towers in New York would still be standing, 3,000 people in this country and 1,000 GIs in Iraq might still be alive and our airline and tourism industries might still thrive, if our government had enforced immigration laws.

In another time, no one would have taken seriously a demand for legal driving privileges for foreign lawbreakers. It would have been akin to asking gun toters to register their firearms or proposing an end to Confederate Memorial Day.

That time has passed. Illegal immigrants are now as much a part of the Georgia culture as grits. Georgia needs illegals. Several industries in our state depend on their low-paid labors.

Lobbyists on the national and state levels are working behind the scenes to make certain that illegals get the documents they need most to continue working here. Thus, the demand for drivers' licenses.

Government sources estimate that 228,000 illegal immigrants reside in Georgia. The true number may be as high as 1 million. No one knows for sure.

However, tax-paying citizens throughout the state know this for sure: Non-English speakers have swamped several school systems, reducing the quality of education measurably. Uninsured and illegal Mexican immigrants routinely overcrowd emergency clinics, seeking treatment for every imaginable ailment, minor and great. Local law enforcement in a dozen jurisdictions is stretched to the breaking point.

Still they come by the thousands, these illegal workers seeking a better life and a piece of American prosperity.

One might believe the illegal-immigration problem is a ready-made political issue that would stir up angry taxpayers. One would think formerly xenophobic Republicans or once-racist Democrats would go haywire over the subject. Sorry, such is not going to happen.

The issue is barely mentioned in mainstream political circles. President George W. Bush has proposed granting amnesty to illegals. Sen. John Kerry’s wife, Teresa, contributes huge sums through her charities for legal support of undocumented immigrants.

Both political parties patronize the illegals, hoping for more voter support from the Latino community.

Those who advocate enforcement of immigration and naturalization statutes are eyed suspiciously and treated as if they were out-of-touch cranks.

Make no mistake. The driver’s license issue is not just about safe motoring and better insurance coverage. A legal driver’s license, more than any other document, is an unquestioned key to American society and to services of all kinds.

Ask any state official how he or she intends to address this most serious matter of public policy. You may be lectured on the need to prevent the scourge of gay marriage or receive a detailed description of the horrors of a rarely performed abortion procedure. But don’t expect to receive an adequate response when you broach the tidal wave of unlawful immigration that is engulfing our state. The subject is nearly as touchy as the out-of-control killing in Iraq.

Let’s face it, taxpayers, we have been betrayed.

P.S.: Before you click the "send" key on that email, know this: The lady who has put up with me for more than four decades is an immigrant who dutifully reported her green-card status for years before she became a naturalized citizen the old-fashioned way. She learned the language, passed the tests on civics and history and swore her allegiance to the United States. Why can’t the current swarm of immigrants follow that example instead of demanding privileges even as they break our laws?

Dean, I could say you need not worry about getting an email of the nature you hint or any other nature from me. But you know that would be a fib on the latter part.

I have already sent you one yesterday that read "Tough Dean, tough. And all God's people said Amen brother, Amen."

This summer I caught flap at an NAACP forum when I was one of only two candidates in a field of eight Democrats would not commit to working to allow all immigrants from Haiti to enter the United States, the logic being because practically this is the situation with Mexico.

I noted that two wrongs would not make a right, and that with Haiti as with other countries, we have political asylum laws in effect.

This was not the politically correct answer the forum wanted to hear.