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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.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Dean wins backing of state Dem. chairs, putting him in a strong position to win the chairmanship of DNC. - Anybody got any extra salt & pepper?

Howard Dean won the backing of state Democratic Party leaders Monday, putting him in a strong position to win the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee.

"If all of our members vote for him, that will be half of what he needs to win the chairman's job," said Mark Brewer, chairman of the Association of State Democratic Chairs.

The party's presidential front-runner in 2003 won 56 votes from the state chairs and Democratic activist Donnie Fowler won 21 during a national conference call. The state chairs ignored a recommendation made Sunday by the executive committee to back Fowler. Other candidates' support Monday was in single digits.

"We're asking all of our state chairs and vice chairs to follow our endorsements," Brewer said, noting that would bring 112 votes. "And we think they will."

The former Vermont governor will bring changes the state parties have asked for, said Brewer. Dean revolutionized Democratic politics in the 2004 presidential campaign with his use of the Internet, organizing strategy and his ability to energize new voters.

"Strengthening the state parties is a central part of our plan to make the Democratic Party competitive in every race, in every district, in every state and territory," said Dean, who said his campaign to win the post continues. "If elected DNC Chair, we will make this vision a reality."

Dean already had about 50 endorsements of DNC members, including five chairs. He needs a majority of the 447 members to win the post. The election is scheduled Feb. 12.

Some in the party have worried aloud about Dean, saying he may be too outspoken and too blunt on occasion to provide effective leadership. But as Dean's campaign gained ground, Democratic resistance has seemed to fade.

Last week, longtime activist Harold Ickes said he would back Dean, saying he concluded that Dean had more of the attributes needed to run the party than any of the other candidates.

Organized labor is considering whether to back a candidate and could revitalize the race by choosing one of Dean's opponents. But Democrats watching that situation have said it's unclear whether the AFL-CIO will endorse a single candidate. Former Texas Rep. Martin Frost has been counting heavily on labor support to gain strength against Dean.

Dean's fast-moving campaign appeared to be detoured Sunday when the chairs' executive committee backed Fowler. But the chairs on their national conference call disregarded that recommendation.

Fowler, 37, has worked on campaigns in more than a dozen states and is the son of former Democratic National Committee chairman Donald Fowler of South Carolina.

Dean, a former Vermont governor, had already gotten the backing of state party chairs in Vermont, Washington state, Florida, Oklahoma and Mississippi. He also has the backing of dozens of other DNC members.

Frost got five votes from the state chairs, Rosenberg got three, Roemer got three and Webb got three.

(01-31-05, The Washington Post.)

UPDATE & ERRATA: Kudos to someone who has served the State of Georgia with honor & distinction. - Reapportionment Office Director Linda Meggers.

Yesterday I did a post praising one Linda Meggers. I erred in assuming this great public servant had retired. I assumed as much, something not safe with the Czar and his Hawks running the Capitol. Forget our Bubba Governor. The Czar may fire him before this thing is over.

The 01-31-05 PI reports the following:

Another one bites the dust: Woman in charge of drawing lines told to clean out her desk

"The elimination of Democratic institutional memory at the state Capitol continues.

"Linda Meggers, who has been in charge of the state's reapportionment office, was handed her walking papers Friday."

"One of her assistants in the reapportionment office will step in as temporary director.

"Meggers' ouster and the resulting turmoil won't make it impossible to take up congressional redistricting this session

"But it will make it harder."

I didn't report as much, but Senate Resolution 55 commending Linda Meggers is in the "Senate Hopper." This might be as far as it gets.

Although they might otherwise be inclined to let it come to a Senate vote, if Sen. Eric Johnson, President Pro Tempore or Sen.Bill Stephens, Majority Leader, allow this, House Speaker Glenn Richardson might take them to the woodshed.

More details on: Democratic Group Backs Fowler Over Dean to Lead DNC.

The 01-31-05 Washington Post provides more details from our post of last night:

An influential group of state Democratic Party officials has voted to endorse former Al Gore aide Donnie Fowler to become national chairman.

In a conference call yesterday, the Association of State Democratic Chairs' executive committee voted to endorse Fowler. The executive committee will recommend in another conference call today that full ASDC endorse Fowler.

The endorsement of the ASDC has been seen as crucial for those hoping to challenge the front-runner Dean. Fowler narrowly edged Dean in the final vote by the ASDC's executive committee. According to a person familiar with the decision, former representative Martin Frost did not receive any votes, while former Clinton aide Simon B. Rosenberg trailed Dean and Fowler.

[Will this Dean alternative "Fowler coalition" hold? It does not appear to be joined at the hip.]

The 01-31-05 New York Times says it now a three-way race between Dean, Fowler and Frost.

The executive committee recommendation is not binding, and some Democrats held open the possibility that the association would reject it. Mr. Fowler drew eight votes, to six for Dr. Dean.

Several Democrats familiar with the balloting on Sunday said that in the first vote, Dr. Dean drew six, compared with five for Mr. Fowler and three for Mr. Frost. The shift in the final ballot suggested a coalescing of an anti-Dean vote, and the risks he faces should his opponents coalesce around another candidate.

The recommendation will be voted on by the entire association today.

One of his associates said Dean would rather face Fowler than Frost, who Democrats said emerged this weekend as the third of the top three candidates. They said they viewed Mr. Frost, given his stature and experience, as a stronger challenger for the job than Fowler.

I predict the race staying open until the full DNC meets in Washington in two weeks. Then the committee will keep voting until a candidate gets more than 50 percent, eliminating one candidate with each ballot. The final one-on-one contest by the end of the balloting -- Dean vs. Frost is my call.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

The first setback for Dean came on Sunday afternoon. - DNC Executive Committee endorses Fowler.

Time magazine is reporting:

A dent was knocked into the aura of inevitability surrounding Howard Dean's run to be the next Democratic Party chair Sunday afternoon when the executive committee of state party chairs voted to endorse Donnie Fowler rather than Dean. Just last week the former Vermont governor had touted endorsements from some state party leaders. But it was Fowler — bespectacled, Southern, and, at 37, the youngster of the field — who prevailed in Sunday's vote.

Fowler, a South Carolinian who lives in California and is the son of former Democratic National Committee Chairman Don Fowler, headed Al Gore's field operation in the 2000 presidential election. Last year he ran the field operation in Michigan for John Kerry, who won that state by three percentage points.

Former Texas Rep. Martin Frost had been considered the front-runner among the Anybody-But-Dean crowd, which includes a large number of Democratic elected officials. But Dean has been the odds-on favorite, in part because the 478 delegates of the Democratic National Committee who will vote next month on the replacement for current chairman Terry McAuliffe are more liberal than many of the party's most prominent faces.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California and her counterpart in the Senate, Nevada's Harry Reid, are among those working behind the scenes to drum up anti-Dean sentiment, but other party stalwarts like Harold Ickes are backing the former presidential contender whose candidacy dissolved with a misplayed yowl in Iowa. Now Fowler thinks he has the inside shot to unseat Dean in much the same way that Kerry eclipsed the front-runner in 2004. "Inevitability is dead, just like it died in 2004," said Fowler in an interview.

The race now moves to the house of labor, where a committee of the AFL-CIO could vote to endorse one of the candidates on Tuesday. If there is no endorsement, the individual member unions of the AFL will likely make their own picks.

Prior to posting this, I wanted confirmation. Not that I have to go by such rules, but it is such a big thing. I looked in vain on the major newspapers online. Although I could not find anything about it on cnn.com, I just found it on foxnews.com, and thus am posting.

Based on the coverage of this important matter, I feel compelled to update my reporting. I missed the following developments earlier in the week:

Dean, whose appeal with minorities was questioned during his presidential race, won support Tuesday from several black Democratic National Committee members for his bid to be DNC chairman -- Yvonne Atkinson Gates, chair of the DNC's black caucus, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois and Minyon Moore, a longtime DNC member and former aide to President Clinton.

Last Tuesday Dean also announced the backing of Bob Farmer, former finance chair for John Kerry's presidential campaign, and Joe Cari, a former finance chair for the DNC. Dean also is getting the backing of former national party chairs David Wilhelm and Steve Grossman, who was a key supporter in his presidential race.

(The Washington Post, 01-25-05.)

N.Y. Times covers DNC in New York, but nothing really new. - I will say it now, that altho Dean has the momentum, if he prevails, the Party loses.

The 01-30-05 New York Times' coverage is not nearly as good as that of The Washington Post. It notes the following:

-- The prize is to be leader of a party that is arguably in the worst shape it has been since before Bill Clinton's election in 1992.

-- [The seven candidates are] clawing for the job as if it were the presidential nomination itself. . . Mr. [Al] Sharpton, holding court outside the forum, said: "This is probably as much as I've seen, and I ran in the primary. People are getting advance teams, people are getting consultants, people are throwing cocktail parties."

-- For two hours, the seven men talked at length about what needs to be done to fix the party - in short, learn how to fight like Republicans - as they bemoaned the state of their party.

-- Dr. Dean, signaling again that he might not be a go-along, get-along party chairman if elected . . . .

-- This is not the first time that the competition to run a party has been intense, particularly on the Republican side. The job can be a stepping-stone to money . . . or political stature . . . .

-- The fractiousness of this race reflects the state of the party in what is the first real competitive contest for party chairman since 1988, as well as a vacuum in personality and power that is allowing some arguably obscure figures in the party get some attention for a few weeks.

-- The forum yesterday - the fourth and final one, intended to give members of the Democratic National Committee a chance to view the candidates - was nearly overshadowed by the extravagance of campaigns that had been on display for weeks, and verged on an over-the-top peak in New York.

The seven candidates have hired campaign managers and press advisers, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, set up Web sites and printed campaign buttons and business cards.

I have always counseled that perception is important, even more important than the facts sometimes.

The perception if Howard Dean is elected chairman of the DNC is not going to be good. Truthfully, I cannot conceive of a worst message to send out at the present and for the foreseeable future. And for all of you loyal supporters of Dean, many of whom are my friends, note that I did not say anything negative about Dr. Dean himself.

But the perception is not going to be good.

As noted in my 01-28-05 post, Dean could not have done anything better for himself than have an almost official welcome to New York City in his rolling out of the significant endorsement by Harold Ickes, a longtime Democratic activist who is a face of the establishment Democratic Party and is close to the Clintons.

For the life of me I cannot understand Mr. Ickes doing this. Not because I think that is not good for the party, but just because I cannot understand it. I want to slap myself on the wrist for even thinking it, but does the guy, not having been interested in chairman himself, want to go to work for the DNC if Dean wins. Probably not, but I just cannot understand why he would get involved for a lot of reasons, including the Clintons.

My reaction: It ain't over till the fat lady sings, and I do not believe she has sung yet, even as it appears as of today that she has.

Al Gore thought she had sung when he endorsed Dean during the primary. Al Gore was wrong.

Regardless of the facts and whether what he said was true, as a Democrat wanting my party to retake the White House in 2008, I cringed when Sen. Ted Kennedy, just three days before the Iraqi people were to go to the polls to elect a new government, delivered his foreign policy speech last week.

Many Democrats were equally appalled; to date none has gone public in saying so. They might if the Iraqi elections are successful as they appear to be (success has a thousand fathers we know). Regardless, the timing for this important Democrat to speak out was flawed. The fat lady had not sung (in this case, the public will be thinking the elections, not the initial invasion, and the perception from Kennedy's remarks are going to make the party look bad).

And now Harold Ickes. Like Al Gore, history may show that this important Democrat spoke out too early, ahead of the fat lady signing.

Howard Dean has some great ideas for what our party needs to do in 2006 and 2008, and we saw his campaign do some of these in the primary.

Howard Dean could have a future in the Democratic party, but given the results of 2000 and 2004 and the way the prior DNC leadership ignored the South and much of the country, surely Dean in his heart knows that his being a Yankee and perceived as a bleeding heart liberal is not what our party needs at the present.

Does that matter to him? Nope, the man has something to prove to himself and the party process where he faltered last year. Damn the party.

Here's to hoping the fat lady has not sung . . .

Dr. Dobson is back in the "news" a bit, but this time on a different subject & from another viewpoint. - Please, let parents do their job as parents.

I did a 01-05-05 post entitled "Dr. James C. Dobson can go to hell, the . . . . I'm with the president of the liberal group People for the American Way on this one."

That post was very critical of Dr. Dobson for his recent activities that represent a new level of direct partisan engagement on his part.

He was threatening to put six potentially vulnerable Democratic senators -- all up for re-election in 2006 -- "in the 'bull's-eye' " if they exercise their right to vote their conscience in the U.S. Senate, in this case, vote to block conservative appointments to the Supreme Court.

Today Dr. Dobson -- to some extent -- is in part the subject of an article by a member of a the editorial page staff of The Washington Post, which, like The New York Times, are known for a having a liberal slant.

Ready to Throw In The Sponge?

By Ruth Marcus
The Washington Post
January 30, 2005

The folks who got all wiggy over Tinky Winky -- remember him, the purple, purse-toting, purportedly gay Teletubby? -- are now up in arms over another imaginary children's character: SpongeBob SquarePants. And who could resist the temptation to make fun of the alarm-sounders? Not I, certainly -- how else to respond to people who work themselves into a lather over an animated talking sponge? Yet, in an odd way, I also find myself understanding some of what's bothering them.

The precise problem for groups such as Focus on the Family and the American Family Association isn't SpongeBob himself, though the irrepressibly sweet sponge does live in a town called Bikini Bottom and is often seen holding hands with his best friend, a pudgy pink starfish named Patrick. The issue, rather, according to Focus on the Family's James Dobson, is that SpongeBob has been drafted (well, if he is gay he couldn't be drafted, actually) for a "pro-homosexual video." The video -- a remix of the disco hit "We Are Family," sung by SpongeBob and other co-opted cartoon characters -- is to be sent to 61,000 elementary schools in March "to speak the message of diversity and tolerance to elementary school children nationwide."

That's exactly the issue for the Dobsons of the world, who manage to find a homosexual in every closet. The American Family Association sounded the alarm on its magazine cover this month in what you might have mistaken for a parody of the genre: "Children's TV unites to launch pro-gay campaign; SpongeBob, Pooh, Bob the Builder, Little Mermaid, many others enlisted in stealth effort." How stealthy? The video itself contains not a word -- not even a code word -- about homosexuality. But the Web site of the group that produced it -- the We Are Family Foundation -- does contain a link to this problematic pledge: "I pledge to have respect for people whose abilities, beliefs, culture, race, sexual identity or other characteristics are different from my own." This, as Dobson sees it, "crosses a moral line," because it "trumps the authority of mothers and fathers and leaves it in the hands of strangers."

And as simultaneously laughable and scary as I find the uproar over an imaginary invertebrate, I also find myself identifying in part with such Dobsonian angst. For if you peel away his repulsive prejudice against gays and his overheated paranoia, Dobson's stated problems with the video echo the worries of many ordinary parents, even liberal ones, that they are the losers in the culture wars and that they have been supplanted in their role by outside forces.

This phenomenon was brought home to me recently when my elementary school-age children's private school put up a photography exhibit on families with gay members. That wasn't in itself such a big deal; our kids, from kindergarten on, see a video about different kinds of families that features same-sex parents, among others. What discomfited some of us -- many of us, in fact -- was the explicitness of the accompanying text describing families with bisexual and transgender parents and families with a history of incest.

This was a PC bridge too far. One day that week, I was driving the kids home and asked the innocuous question of what they had done in school. "We went up to see the exhibit and learned about transgender families," my 9-year-old answered brightly. "Will was a little confused about how the woman had the baby if she is a man." I held my breath, waiting for the 7-year-old to follow up.

Transgender readers, please understand. If you moved in next door, I'd bring over a casserole and happily explain the whole deal to the kids, without judgment and without hesitation. But is it really necessary, absent such a predicate, to go through all this in elementary school? And whether my reaction is right or wrong, shouldn't this be a decision for me and my husband to make -- not something sprung on us by our school?

This is the way in which I find myself unexpectedly, and somewhat unsettlingly, aligned with the Focusers on the Family. It's not just about how -- and when and from whom -- our children learn about sex. It's also the general coarseness of the culture and the difficulty of shielding our children from the worst of it. Absent the extreme measures of canceling the cable, unplugging the Internet and starting to home-school the kids, even the most vigilant parents can't put up an impenetrable defense against material they'd prefer to keep from their children -- and spotty vigilance is about all I, for one, can muster.

Like many parents, we have staked out a mushy middle ground in the culture wars; like most middle grounds, it is hard to sustain. We disallowed teen-rated video games but made an exception for "The Sims" -- which, it turns out, leads straight down the virtual slippery slope to "The Sims: Hot Date." We ban MTV but permit certain radio stations. Or we did, until, settling in at the computer to write this column, I found my 9-year-old's printout of Eminem lyrics. The sputtering over SpongeBob is silly and worse, but it also touches on our loss of control -- the difficulty, in the real world, of providing parental guidance.

The writer is a member of the editorial page staff of The Washington Post.

If state party chairmen, who meet Sunday & Monday, do not endorse another candidate, even Dean's challengers say the race will essentially be over.

Dean's Past as Prologue to DNC Future

By Dana Milbank
The Washington Post
January 30, 2005

As Howard Dean campaigns here for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee, his supporters feel an eerie echo of his campaign a year ago for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Once again, he is the prohibitive favorite to win with just two weeks to go before the voting. Once again, the other candidates in the field, trailing badly, are hoping to position themselves as the most viable alternative to Dean. Once again, Dean is making a red-meat appeal to the liberal base of the party.

"We cannot be Republican-light if you want to win elections," he says to cheers here at the DNC's Eastern Regional meeting Saturday, the last gathering before party members vote on Feb. 12 for a successor to Terence R. McAuliffe. While other candidates counsel a move to the right and a drastic change for an enfeebled party, a sanguine Dean says, Democrats "cannot change our convictions."

Last year, of course, Dean's front-running candidacy collapsed in the Iowa caucus and the former Vermont governor's subsequent outburst. But if Dean cannot win this race, in which he faces a group of six little-known party workers and former office holders, that would really be reason to scream.

"There are some parallels," Jimmy Dean, the candidate's brother, says of the comparison to Dean's 2004 campaign. "It has crossed people's minds."

But there are reasons for Dean to be hopeful that history will not repeat itself. So far, party insiders see little sign that the anti-Dean forces are uniting behind an alternative candidate; indeed, Harold Ickes, who was the favorite of former president Bill Clinton to have the DNC job but declined, threw his support on Friday to Dean. Another sweetener for the anti-Dean crowd: He has said he will not run for president in 2008 if he gets the DNC job.

About 50 of the 447 DNC voting members have already announced support for Dean, far more than for any other candidate. (Endorsements, though, are a tricky business: The online publication Hotline found that the seven candidates have claimed the endorsements of 75 state Democratic chairmen, far exceeding the number of states and territories.) If the state party chairmen, who meet Sunday and Monday, do not endorse another candidate, even Dean's challengers say the race will essentially be over.

This year's contest particularly suits Dean. In the past, party leaders were tapped by sitting presidents, or ran discreet campaigns among party elders. This time, the seven candidates are vying for votes on a nationwide dog-and-pony show, a series of public debates climaxing in Saturday's session in New York. It has showcased the ideological rifts in the party and opened the way for the type of retail politics in which Dean specializes.

In their speeches and answers to questions at the meeting here, the other candidates try to position themselves as Dean alternatives.

"We need a chair who doesn't only represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party," former representative Tim Roemer (Ind.) told a quiet crowd, referring to one of Dean's lines from last year. Another candidate, party tactician Donnie Fowler, tries to debunk the Dean inevitability, saying, "This is your decision, DNC voters, it's not the pundits'." Ex-Denver mayor Wellington Webb challenges Dean on geography, calling for a candidate who has an appeal "not only in the northeastern part of the United States."

The zeitgeist is much the same in the hotel hospitality suites where the candidates privately woo delegates. Dean greets dozens of supporters under a huge chandelier in a large room on the hotel's main floor. Others have modest rooms on the second floor.

Webb has all of four people in his suite. The fruit and pastries are largely untouched. "I think Howard has always been the favorite," he admits, saying he would need some last-minute dealmaking to win. "If Dean doesn't win on the first ballot, we'll have an Abraham Lincoln-type situation with people forming alliances," he said.

A couple of doors down, former representative Martin Frost (Tex.), often cited as the leading alternative to Dean, is faring little better than Webb. He has eight people in the room and an equally pristine buffet. A spokesman, Tom Eisenhower, says his man is still the leading anti-Dean.

Judging by hospitality-suite attendance, the leading Dean alternative is Fowler, son of a former Democratic national chairman. But that may also be because Fowler has the best giveaways, including New York's famous H&H bagels, South Carolina wafers, grits and barbecue sauce. Fowler, who asserts that he has spent 81 hours on his cell phone this month, frames the race this way: "It's gonna come down to me, Frost and Dean."

Perhaps the main distinction between Dean and his rivals for the chairmanship is Dean's relatively cheerful view about the party's prospects despite its current powerlessness. Dean's prescription for the party -- that its problem is mechanical, not ideological -- may or may not be true, but it is certainly the message the party faithful in New York want to hear. When Roemer suggests that the party should not be dominated by abortion-rights groups, he is met with hisses. When Frost urges Democrats to embrace faith, a heckler shouts: "So atheists need not apply?"

Other candidates sound alarms about the party's dire condition.

Fowler: "We're running out of voters!"

Rosenberg: "We've lost our nerve!"

Roemer: "We've evacuated the South!"

Then there is Dean, his snarly insurgent of 2004 replaced by the benign party man of 2005. He says Democrats can "change the way we talk" about issues, but they should not be changing their views. "We need to dance with the people who brought us," he tells the crowd. "We've got to feed our core constituencies."

The problem and the solutions are structural, he says. Put more state officials on the DNC payroll. Target more state offices. Mobilize the young. "I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for, but I admire the discipline in their organization," he says, later adding, "The way to win elections is to have a good system."

He rambled long past his time limit, but in the two-hour session, not a scream was heard from Dean. He barely even raised his voice.

Senate Bills will (1) allow sheriffs to be elected nonpartisan if county so choses & (2) change probate judges to nonpartisan statewide.

In a 12-10-04 post entitled "Taking nonpartisan elections a step further beyond judges. School board members doable now. Sheriffs? Maybe in the future," I wrote:

I would like to see Georgia law changed so that counties could, through local legislation, have the offices of county commissioners, clerk of the superior court, judge of the probate court, sheriff, probate judge, tax commissioner (some counties have a different office here), coroner, surveyor and whatever else I am overlooking, be added to the offices of judges and school board members that can be elected on a nonpartisan basis.

Do I think, given the GOP's takeover of state government on Nov. 2, that such legislation would have a chance in the upcoming legislative session?

A couple of years ago an attempt was made to get this change through with respect to sheriffs. It had some momentum, but got killed.

Despite have been told flat out by a state legislator this week that this would never happen given the Republican takeover on Nov. 2, don't bet against it. I expect to see legislation introduced and passed that will allow sheriffs to run on a nonpartisan basis.

If this passes, and your county opts for this procedure, as soon as the next election, sheriffs, just as are our State Court, Superior Court, Court of Appeals Judges and Supreme Court Justices (and other judges such as magistrates if this has been done through local legislation), would run on a nonpartisan basis on the primary date.

If this legislations is introduced and becomes law, perhaps it will help provide impetus for allowing other county offices to be on a nonpartisan basis.

Die-hard party members in general seem not to particularly like the idea of anything not be partisan, and I understand such thinking.

I am a strong Party person, but in the local setting, nonpartisan transcends one's party. We are talking about what is best for our whole county -- Democrats, Republicans and Independents. And this is true regardless of the adage that all politics is local.

Stay tuned with respect to the legislation, if any, on sheriffs.

Senate Bill 80, introduced in the state Senate on January 28, 2005, does what is discussed above with regard to sheriffs. Thus a county, through local legislation, can have its sheriff elected on a nonpartisan basis.

I sure wish the legislature would go ahead and add the other local offices discussed above to this legislation, but it probably won't happen this year.

Senate Bill 32 was introduced on January 24 and goes even further than I proposed above, and in a way that I very much approve. It provides that all probate judges are to be elected on a nonpartisan basis (period; no local leglislation so that some counties could do it this way and others not). I hope this bill becomes law.

Kudos to someone who has served the State of Georgia with honor & distinction. - Reapportionment Office Director Linda Meggers.

This post is about someone most of you have never heard of unless you have enjoyed the privilege of being a public servant and office holder in Georgia on the local, state or national level.

In Saturday's hard copy of the ajc I learned that Sen. Tim Golden, of Valdosta and chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, and Sen. Robert Brown of Macon and Senate minority leader, along with Democratic Sens. Terrell Starr, Sam Zamarripa, David Adelman and Doug Stoner, have introduced Senate Resolution 55 honoring the work of the Legislative Reapportionment Services Office director Linda Meggers, who is retiring.

The resolution describes the Reapportionment Office as being charged with:

"the arduous and monumental task of providing, often on an around the clock basis, the technical and creative assistance necessary for the preparation of the legislative and congressional reapportionment bills and local bills reapportioning county commissioners, school boards, and municipal governing authorities."

In addition to the adjectives "arduous" and "monumental," I will add difficult.

The Reapportionment Office is a non-partisan service contracted through the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government. As noted in the Senate resolution, it provides assistance for congressional, state legislative, county commission, local school board, and city council redistricting.

The Senate resolution commends retiring director Linda Meggers for "her remarkable patience and diplomacy," and notes that

"she is a person of magnanimous strengths with an unimpeachable reputation for integrity, intelligence, fairness, and kindness; [and] her loyalty, competency, reliability, and enthusiasm have distinguished her superlative service to this state . . ."

This and so much more could be said about this remarkable public servant.

Linda Meggers has always gone the extra mile in her service as director of this indispensable service provided to our state and local governments.

She and her staff had the expertise and the control over things we had to have to have to redistrict; but rather than having a haughty and I will get to you when I get to you attitude, she always let us know she was there to serve.

She has kept Georgia at the forefront in the latest technology and software necessary to generate and then revise, and then regenerate and revise again, over and over and over again, often late into the night and even into the wee hours of the morning, congressional and state and local district lines when reapportionment is undertaken.

And in addition to being most professional and diligent in the pursuit of any request thrown at her, she has another important characteristic that the resolution notes. She is one patient person. I often would joke with her that her middle name had to be Job.

I have never heard any person, Democrat or Republican, say anything but complimentary things about Linda and her tireless efforts in attacking the challenge at hand.

And in addition the politicians involved in redistricting and those such as myself who have worked with Linda as counsel to local governments, there is another group that has always had high praise for her work ethic, competency and diplomacy -- the judges before whom she has been a witness.

Linda, we are going to miss you, and for all the help and hand-holding you provided us over the years, a heartfelt word of thanks.

And also thanks so much to the named Democratic Senators for this deserved recognition.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Comments to & from those attending the DNC regional caucus meeting in Manhattan on Saturday.

Dean received loud applause Saturday from his fiery words denouncing the Republican Party and from his conviction to promoting grass roots work. These were familiar themes from his unsuccessful presidential race, and he made clear that if elected chairman, he won't temper that message.

"We cannot be Republican-light if we want to win elections," Dean said during his five-minute address to the 90 DNC members. "We need to be people of conviction."

Dean said Democrats should focus on winning local political races, such as county clerks, state assemblies, and secretaries of state, because "we are not going to win the presidency unless we can win local offices."

Dean's speech was enough to convince Michael Steed, a delegate from Maryland.

"His conviction, his ability to take hold of the Republicans by the throat and defeat them really came forward," Steed said after the forum, held at the Roosevelt Hotel in midtown Manhattan. It was the fifth and final regional meeting before the DNC holds its election on Feb. 12 in Washington, D.C.

While many candidates mentioned buzzwords like "grass roots," "message" and "Rush Limbaugh," the stage was far from a chorus of parroted views.

Roemer, a member of the 9/11 Commission, is the most conservative candidate and an opponent of abortion. He acknowledged he was a longshot and that appeared evident when the crowd hissed him as he discussed his abortion views.

Roemer tried to position himself as the anti-Dean, saying, "We need a chairman that doesn't just represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, but the East, the West, the North, the South."

Frost, who lost re-election in 2004 after his Texas district lines were redrawn, said his experience fund-raising and fighting in red states makes him the best candidate.

"Grassroots politics has been my entire life," Frost said. If elected, he vowed, "In no election will they turn out people better than we do."

• Webb, the only black person in the race, said he has the necessary management experience from his years as mayor of Denver.

• Rosenberg called himself "the total package" because of his success raising money with the centrist New Democrat Network and his ability to counter the Republican's political machine.

• Fowler said he would reclaim the party from "the aristocracy of consultants in D.C." and appeal to a new electorate, while staying loyal to the base.

• Leland said he would empower the state parties and focus on local races.

And to practice what we preach about civility (Sid, must this also include the cursed "hawks"?), a word about the Gov. - Pretty clever there Gov.

As background for a little weekend levity, this past Monday Gov. reacted to the talk that has been floating around that several cell phone companies are looking to build a nationwide "Wireless 411 Directory."

The governor's solution to help Georgia cell phone users keep their names of our cell phone directories is to force cell phone companies that wish to list numbers in a directory to get Georgia customers' written permission first.

While reading from prepared remarks at a news conference called by the governor to announce that such legislation had been introduced, a half-dozen reporters' phones began to ring or buzz, causing several of them embarrassment as they snatched phones from their pockets and turned them off.

Turns out the callers were Perdue staffers, adding a bit of show biz to the event.

(The Macon Telegraph, 01-29-05.)

I think we are going to have to make these Dick Yarbrough doozies part of a "Only in Georgia" series.

Dear Dick:

I am a successful gymnastics coach at a large state university located in Northeast Georgia. My boss is the athletic director. The athletic director’s boss is the president of the university. The president’s boss is the State Board of Regents. The most powerful regent on the board is my fiancé, who is married to another woman. Will I ever find happiness?

Suddenly Sullen Susan

Dear Suddenly:

I have some good news for you. You are already a lot happier than the athletic director, the president and the regent’s wife.

Dear Dick:

I am a flagger looking for some information. There is a guy in the Georgia Legislature named Glenn Richardson. I believe he is from Paulding County. We flaggers don’t like him and have made sure that he knows. One of our Web site postings even says that he “may not be strong enough mentally for the job.” Can you tell me what ever happened to him?

Homer from Homerville

Dear Homer:

My sources tell me that Rep. Richardson is now Speaker of the House and has a management style that makes Tom Murphy look like SpongeBob SquarePants. I understand also that he has a long memory. As soon as the House passes a bill calling for a referendum on the old state flag, be sure and let me know.

Dear Dick:

The Cobb County School Board wants to place stickers on science textbooks saying that evolution is just a theory. What are your thoughts?

Rev. Elmo Gantree.

Dear Rev:

That’s a toughie, so I ran your question by God, just to be on the safe side. God told me to tell you that if we would worry more about loving our neighbors, forgiving each other’s faults and spend more time sitting in our houses of worship instead of sitting in judgment of others, stickers would be irrelevant. He says everybody is going to find out who is in charge one of these days anyway—stickers or not. By the way, God asked me also to pass along that He personally has no problem with women preachers and for the rest of you to get over it.

Dear Dick:

Now that Cynthia McKinney has won back her seat in Congress, will you continue to write about her?

Rappa Dappa Doo.

Dear Doo:

Only if the sun rises in the East. However, our Ambassador to Outer Space is going to have some stiff competition this year. Vernon Jones, the CEO of DeKalb County is coming on strong. He had a rape charge filed against him recently, but says he isn’t worried because he is going to follow the example of former President Bill Clinton. You’ve got to love a guy who thinks like that. And then there is the new sheriff in Clayton County. He fired his deputies his first day on the job and then posted snipers on the roof as they left unarmed. With so many nutty politicians running around unsupervised, it is a great time to be a columnist.

If you don't go to church this weekend, this can be the sermon you missed. - Let's strive to have civility & tolerance become part of our daily lives.

Excerpts from:

Bridging the Great Divide

By Colbert I. King
The Washington Post
January 29, 2005

[Recently] at a Washington think-tank roundtable [a] group of about 20 men and women drawn from the worlds of journalism, business, government, religion and nonprofits gathered late in the day to talk about the increasing incivility and polarization in the country.

There was broad agreement that two consecutive contentious presidential elections have left the country with pronounced partisan and ideological schisms. Most agreed . . . that the present crisis of division comes at a time when the country faces serious long-term challenges: the global war on terrorism; conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and the turbulent Middle East; a growing national deficit; looming problems with Social Security and Medicare; a breakdown in public education; rising anti-Americanism abroad. Without the presence of civility in the national debate -- not the "bite-your-tongue-to-keep-the peace" variety but civility based on mutual respect, careful listening and honest dialogue -- a polarized country won't be able to tackle those problems.

Tolerance, as in having respect for the views of others, is in short supply these days, the group agreed. So, unfortunately is the ability to listen.

There was also a consensus that:

• American politics can do with less absolutism (it closes off dialogue).

• Wedge issues so beloved by campaign strategists contribute to incivility and division.

• Owning up to political mistakes can be a valuable lesson in humility.

Compromise and collaboration for the common good should outweigh political and personal differences.

[W]orry about open hostility and the loss of a middle ground in our politics occupies the minds of more than the roundtable's participants. Since the forum, more than 70 leaders in public policy, academia, religion and politics have come together to create a National Committee to Unite a Divided America. The aim is to bridge political differences and foster greater civility and inclusiveness in government.

[D]ozens of . . . prominent Americans of different political stripes have signed up with the committee because they believe the lack of national unity in the face of tough international and domestic challenges could have tragic consequences. They are going to press the president, Congress and political leaders around the country to set a new tone for the nation and to unite Americans in the spirit of civility and shared sacrifice that was demonstrated after Sept. 11, 2001.

Doable? A house as divided as the nation is today deserves no less of an effort [than to make the] Washington pastime of eviscerating political opponents [a thing of the past].

Abortion bill health claims are sure to be disputed.

A bill introduced Friday in the Georgia Legislature would require doctors to tell women seeking an abortion that the procedure increases the risk of acne, athlete's foot and psoriasis — claims heretofore unheard of.

Dr. Vanessa Cullins, vice president for medical affairs of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said some information in the Georgia bill . . . is wrong.

"It is unethical to convey information . . . that is medically inaccurate," she said. "I'm very concerned that some of the state-mandated materials given to women contain ideologically charged misinformation."

The bill's sponsors, which include Rep. Sue Burmeister (R-Augusta), have folded in a requirement that the dermatologist and podiatrist of any person seeking to end a pregnancy be notified before the procedure is performed. Initially that requirement was going to be a separate bill.

David Willey, editor-in-chief of Runner's World, said late Friday his publication in considing opposing the inclusion of athlete's foot in any prescribed warning.

(01-29-05, ajc.)

Friday, January 28, 2005

Ex-Clinton aide Harold Ickes -- & presently the head of Hillary's PAC -- announced today that he is backing Howard Dean for chairman of the DNC.

Harold Ickes, a leading Democratic activist and former aide to President Clinton, said Friday he is backing Howard Dean to be chairman of the Democratic National Committee — giving a powerful boost to the front-runner.

"I think all the candidates who are running have strong attributes, but Dean has more of the attributes than the others," said Ickes, who considered running for chairman himself before dropping out in early January. "Many people say Howard Dean is a northeastern liberal, he is progressive, but his tenure as governor of Vermont was that of a real moderate."

Ickes, who heads the political action committee of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., said the endorsement was his alone and "does not reflect Sen. Clinton's opinion."

While Ickes would not comment on the Clintons' preferences, he is a close ally and would not be endorsing Dean against their strong objections. No one was immediately available in Sen. Clinton's office to comment.

Ickes said Dean "has a real ability to communicate with people in leadership, but also to grass-roots and average Americans. He understands the need for party building."

Ickes' endorsement comes at a critical time in the chairman's race and gives Dean almost 50 of the more than 215 votes he would need to win the post.

The field could be narrowed in the next few days, as state party chairs and organized labor offer their views on the race.

With Democrats out of power in the White House, Senate and House, the Democratic Party's leadership role is especially important.

The candidates are invited to New York City this weekend for the last regional candidate forum. On Sunday and Monday, state party leaders will discuss whom they want to endorse.

Early next week, the AFL-CIO could decide whether to endorse one of the candidates.

(AP, 01-28-05.)

A 01-14-05 post announcing "Ex-Democratic party chair Bob Strauss endorses Martin Frost for DNC chairman" also had part of the title of the post: "This is big news."

This development concerning Harold Ickes is potentially big news. How big? Only time will tell, namely, the time it takes for former President Clinton to comment on this development.

The Red Clay Democrats outdo themselves . . . again. What a great group. What dedication to the blue cause.

On a Saturday morning in mid-September last year on the 28th floor of the offices of Kilpatrick Stockton, LLP, at 1100 Peachtree Street in Atlanta, the Red Clay Democrats of Cobb County were hard at work getting our party ready for 2006. (see 08-19-04 post.)

The task at hand -- conducting the inaugural training session of the Georgia Democratic Candidate Training Project ("DCTP") -- was designed to show prospective Democratic candidates "What some campaigns do wrong, and how you can do it right."

At the conclusion of that day of much learning and camaraderie, it was promised that the first class of tomorrow's Democratic candidates would convene sometime during the 2005 legislative session to get an inside look at how things operate during the session.

This was done this past Monday, January 24, in the Legislative Office Building.

Those providing invaluable insight and advice to the DCTP's first class included Secretary of State Cathy Cox, House Minority Leader DuBose Porter, and Reps. Mike Jacobs, Alisha Porter and Rob Teilhet (Rob now rivals Cathy Cox in being able to claim media fame with his recent ajc coverage on romance at the Capitol).

Following a full and informative afternoon, the group headed for Underground Atlanta and the Red Clay Democrats' Third Annual Legislative Reception, and what a grand success this event was!!

Lt. Governor Mark Taylor, Secretary of State Cathy Cox, Senate Minority Leader Robert Brown, House Minority Leader DuBose Porter and many, many House and Senate members attended this annual Legislative Reception.

Also in attendance were several party officials; a couple of 2006 candidates making some early rounds; one large contingency of Red Clay Democrats; and many, many other guests, all good Democrats of course.

The only thing better than the food and drink was the fine company.

What a great night; what a great event; what a great organization the Red Clay Democrats is.

A signature on an e-mail I received from the Red Clay Democrats reads as follows:

Red Clay Democrats
Founded to Energize and Organize Active Participation In Georgia's Democratic Future

With respect to the first class of the DCTP and the Monday night Legislative Reception: Mission Accomplished.

Our hats are off to this great group of Democrats doing a great job. Thanks. We love you.

Query: Will the U.S. pull out of Iraq if requested by the new government? Bush: "Absolutely. This is a sovereign government. They're on their feet."

The 01-28-05 New York Times reports that Bush said something yesterday in an interview with the newspaper that I am having a had time believing he said:

President Bush said in an interview on Thursday that he would withdraw American forces from Iraq if the new government that is elected on Sunday asked him to do so, but that he expected Iraq's first democratically elected leaders would want the troops to remain as helpers, not as occupiers.

I predict these words that Mr. Bush uttered in the Oval Office will come back to haunt him; at a minimum he will have to eat some words.

Will our troops be asked to leave? Probably not. Could they be? Yes. Will we then leave? Of course not.

Since some members of the administration had made similar pledges, although never Mr. Bush, I could be putting to much significance in his statement. But I don't think so.

I was as surprised to read that Bush had said this as when I read that Kerry, responding to Bush's challenge to him for a yes-or-no answer, had said 'yes,' that he still would have voted to authorize the war in Iraq even if he had known then that U.S. and allied forces would not find weapons of mass destruction.

For me, this demonstration of stupidity and a lack of common sense by Kerry in making his ill-fated decision to take Bush's bait and fall for his trap marked the beginning of the downfall of this mediocre candidate who beat himself rather than allowing the campaign to focus on his opponent's disastrous four years in office.

I wish there was such a serious consequence to Bush's comments.

But rather there being such, all that we will see is his being overruled by Karl Rove, Inc. as he was following his recent Washington Post interview (when he said he would not push for a constitutional amendment forbidding same-sex marriages), or something similar to when his handlers clarified that he didn't mean what he said in his lofty Inauguration speech.

Patience, Part II. - Bush "is discovering the fine line between having a mandate and being a lame duck."

My 01-24-05 post is entitled "Patience & Fortitude. At this time we need the former. - Some See Risks For the G.O.P. in New Strength."

Today we get Patience, Part II.

In a 01-25-05 post entitled "Let's work to bring back those who used to vote Democratic, but are now living poor & voting rich. - Let's not pass up an opportunity of a decade," I wrote:

"Our challenge is to be patient, avoid falling into the Karl Rove trap, and to let the various members and wings of the GOP both on the national and state level fight things out among ourselves, while we safely enjoy observing things from a distance."

With the above background, the following from the 01-28-05 Washington Post sure should sound like music to our ears:

Bush Faces New Skepticism From Republicans on Hill

When President Bush flies to this Allegheny mountain resort Friday to meet congressional Republicans, he will encounter a party far less malleable and willing to follow his lead than it has been for the past four years.

Bush is accustomed to getting his way with Congress and finished his first term without suffering a major defeat. But mid-level and rank-and-file Republicans have begun to assert themselves on issues including intelligence reform, immigration and a major restructuring of Social Security, the centerpiece of his second-term agenda.

[N]ow that Bush has run his last campaign, he is being bolder in calling for legislative action than many lawmakers who must run every two years are willing to be.

That leaves the success of his second-term agenda very much in doubt.

In hallway conversations, over glasses of wine and even in front of television cameras, Republican lawmakers are expressing trepidation about some of Bush's plans, putting him in the undesirable position of having to sell himself to his own party when he could be focusing on Democrats and independents.

Many House Republicans are hesitant to do anything that might jeopardize their chances in the midterm elections in 2006, while in the Senate at least half a dozen members have begun jockeying for the White House.

It's the 'no interest like self-interest' rule, and it's every man for himself," said an aide to a Senate Republican committee chairman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to maintain good relations with the White House. "He's discovering the fine line between having a mandate and being a lame duck."

Just because you saw it in a newspaper or on the Internet does not make it true. - Where is it written that Perdue will be the '06 GOP nominee?

In yesterday's ajc, Jim Tharpe, one of the best political reporters around -- while no doubt rushing to make the press deadline -- wrote:

"[Secretary of State Cathy Cox] will face Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor in the Democratic primary, and the winner of that battle will face Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue in the general election."

(ajc, 01-27-05.)

While Gov. Perdue certainly hopes that's the case, many in his own party are far from ready to sign off on this script.

Earlier this month Baxter & Galloway in the 01-10-05 PI wrote:

Uneasy lies the Republican crown: The pollster wanted to know what we thought of Mac Collins as governor

It was last Wednesday night when the young man from the polling agency called. From the questions, it was clear that the focus was on the '06 race for governor.

The surprise was that it concerned the Republican side.

The first matchup proposed by the man on the phone: Sonny Perdue, Mac Collins, Bill [Byrne, the former Cobb County chairman,] and Mike Bowers.

There was a question of who handled the situation with the state flag better: Sonny Perdue or Roy Barnes.

But the most important set of inquiries concerned a possible November '06 matchup between Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, the Democrat, and Collins, the former Republican congressman and candidate for U.S. Senate.

We weren't able to reach Mac Collins for his thoughts. But it's clear that someone wants to know whether Perdue is vulnerable to a challenge from within his own party. And whether Collins is the man to do it.

At the same time the PI was writing this, Bill Shipp wrote (see 01-12-05 post):

In Georgia . . . the [Democratic] party's key issue is based on ridding the governor's office of Sonny Perdue and what many Democrats see as growing evidence of incompetence and misfeasance.

Two Democrats, Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor and Secretary of State Cathy Cox, already are staking out their anti-Perdue positions for a 2006 gubernatorial election.

Putting most of their eggs in an anti-Perdue basket could turn out to be dead-end strategy. Suppose former Congressman Mac Collins or former Cobb Commission Chairman Bill Byrne or even ex-Attorney General Mike Bowers unhorses Perdue in a GOP primary. Overnight, Taylor's and Cox's plans would become little more than shredder feed. Their stock as potential winners would plummet.

A 10-24-04 post entitled in part "Where is it written that Perdue will be the '06 GOP nominee?," referred back to a 09-07-04 post.

This earlier post first discussed some potential GOP candidates for Lt. Gov.; then encouraged Democrats not to waste time in coming forward if they wished to run for Lt. Gov. in '06; and then concluded as follows:

"And here's to wishing the Democratic party more motivation and better luck [in coming up with Lt. Gov. candidates] than it had in coming up with candidates for the U.S. Senate race.

"And as an aside, just because I did not mention the top of the ticket for the GOP does not mean Sonny Perdue is a slam dunk. Talk about his replacement began some time back, and it may gain momentum or fizzle out as time goes on.

"If it gains momentum, a strong possibility for his replacement -- Rep. Jack Kingston."

I gave some of the background for my 09-07-04 post comment on Rep. Jack Kingston in my 10-24-04 post by noting:

"The [statement in my 09-07-04 post] about a strong possibility for [Perdue's] replacement being Rep. Jack Kingston [is based on what I think is going on in Kingston's mind with regard to wanting to do something other than remain a congressman]. Kingston wanted to run for the U.S. Senate this time so badly he could hardly stand it. He was wise in not running. This is my basis for saying he might want to try Atlanta for awhile."

I confess that my saying Kingston's wanting "to run for the U.S. Senate" was "my basis for saying he might want to try Atlanta for awhile" is a pretty weak basis for such speculation. In truth it was intentionally evasive and cryptic.

Now the straight talk. It is no secret among his friends that Kingston would love to be governor of the state of Georgia. But Kingston has traveled and campaigned for and with Sonny Perdue in various campaigns, and for this reason would be reluctant to initiate a challenge against him in '06.

But, if we add a couple of factors to the situtation, I think things change considerably. Such as? Such as Mac Collins challenging Perdue. Then the whole picture changes. Kingston did not initiate the challenge to a sitting Republican governor. Someone else did, and if it is Collins or someone with Collins' stature, there is going to be the perception that the seat is open, and if you're interested, qualify.

Stay tuned. '06 has all of the potential to be a most interesting year, and not just from the Democratic side.

On a collateral issue, is Rep. Kingston concerned about reapportionment as Rep. John Barrow no doubt is or very much should be?

Despite Rep. Gingrey telling Baxter & Gallowy that he is happy with his 11th District that sprawls from Chattooga County in the north to Muscogee County in the south, he does not care for his district, and who can blame him. (see 01-24-05 PI).

As reported in the 01-23-05 PI, both U.S. Reps. Phil Gingrey and Lynn Westmoreland have floated maps with revised congressional districts, and would like to see some changes.

But with Kingston, I do not feel that this is much of a concern. If it is, he has not said much about it.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Sid calls on Richard Cohen to help him explain the situation, dilemma, or whatever you choose to call it. - Democrats & abortion.

Having tried to lay the groundwork in my advocating a little tolerance of divergent views on the sensitive issue of abortion in several of my posts over the past month or so, today I call upon one of my favorite columnists to show why this is more than just being politically smart. It is the right thing to do.

I saved this column from mid-December until laying such groundwork. Here's to hoping we can get away from what the GOP started -- an inflexible litmus test for party identity.

Excerpts from:

Democrats, Abortion and 'Alfie'

By Richard Cohen
The Washington Post
December 14, 2004

Dickens wrote "A Tale of Two Cities." Cohen will write "A Tale of Two Movies." The first is "Alfie," the 1966 film starring Michael Caine, and the second, as it happens, is also "Alfie," this year's remake of the original, with Jude Law in the title role. In the first "Alfie" a woman of his acquaintance gets an abortion. In the second she does not. Therein lies my tale.

The second "Alfie" was obviously made before folks such as me decided that moral values were what made George Bush the winner of this year's presidential contest. Still, very little about making films is an accident -- movies cost too much -- so I can posit that someone had sensed that the zeitgeist had shifted: Abortion is no longer seen as central to sexual liberation but rather as much more troubling and problematic. Over the years, the so-called right-to-life movement has changed some minds.

Mine among them, I am quick to say. This is especially the case with late-term abortion, which in some cases has been not too unfairly packaged for propaganda reasons as "partial-birth abortion." Whatever it is called, a description of it turns the stomach and makes you wonder whether the procedure should be authorized only under certain circumstances. For the record, I stated my qualms a long time ago.

But the Democratic Party still marches to the tune of "Alfie" ("What's it all about, Alfie?") as if nothing has changed in almost 40 years. Abortion remains a core party principle -- up there with civil rights and, more recently, gay rights. Gay rights is one thing. It is nothing more than an extension of the party's traditional -- and politically costly -- embrace of civil rights. But abortion is a different matter entirely. It is no longer what it was -- simply about women's rights and sexual freedom. It is, as its opponents say, about life -- arguably about the taking of it.

Yet the party insists otherwise. It entertains no doubts and counters reasonable questions and qualms with slogans -- a woman's right to choose, for instance. The party is downright inhospitable to abortion opponents.

As it is now, being pro-choice is a litmus test for all Democrats, especially their presidential candidates. It is almost inconceivable that a Democratic candidate could voice qualms about abortion. It's almost inconceivable, though, that the candidates don't have them.

Over the decades my views on abortion have evolved. I'm still pro-choice, but I no longer see the issue as solely about women's rights or sexual freedom. It is more complex -- freighted always with the phrase "it depends" and tinged with regret: Something has gone wrong and something difficult has to be done about it. An abortion is not a mere exercise of a right like voting. It is more complicated than that.

The next Democratic chairman ought to recognize that. Let the GOP become the bastion of know-it-alls and zealots. Let it take its opposition to abortion into the corner where it is finding itself -- against even stem cell research and hospitable to extremists who would, if they could, execute physicians who perform abortions. "I favor the death penalty for abortionists," the newly elected Republican senator for Oklahoma, Tom Coburn, said during the recent campaign.

Fine. Let the GOP defend that statement when, say, the abortion was performed on a 12-year-old rape victim or a woman whose health was in danger. Let the GOP become the party that cares more about ideology than about people and their concerns -- unwanted pregnancies, possible cures for hideous diseases or the irrational treatment of homosexuals.

It's been almost 40 years from one "Alfie" to the other, and much has changed. Contraception devices, once forbidden, are now advertised on TV. One era's simplicities have become another's complexities, and sentient people know it. Only in the political realm do life's most vexing questions become either/or questions with answers that only a guppy could accept.

T. Friedman: "Let me put this as bluntly as I can: Mr. Bush is more widely and deeply disliked in Europe than any U.S. president in history."

Excerpts from:

Read My Ears

By T. Friedman
The New York Times
January 27, 2005

Having spent the last 10 days traveling to Britain, France, Germany and Switzerland, I have one small suggestion for President Bush. I suggest that when he comes to Europe to mend fences next month he give only one speech. It should be at his first stop in Brussels and it should consist of basically three words: "Read my ears."

Let me put this as bluntly as I can: There is nothing that the Europeans want to hear from George Bush, there is nothing that they will listen to from George Bush that will change their minds about him or the Iraq war or U.S. foreign policy. Mr. Bush is more widely and deeply disliked in Europe than any U.S. president in history. Some people here must have a good thing to say about him, but I haven't met them yet.

In such an environment, the only thing that Mr. Bush could do to change people's minds about him would be to travel across Europe and not say a single word - but just listen. If he did that, Mr. Bush would bowl the Europeans over.

Listening is also a sign of respect. It is a sign that you actually value what the other person might have to say. If you just listen to someone first, it is amazing how much they will listen to you back.

What would Mr. Bush hear? Some of it is classic Eurowhining, easily dismissible. But some of it is very heartfelt, even touching. And more and more I think it explains why many Europeans dislike Mr. Bush so intensely. It's this: Europeans love to make fun of naïve American optimism, but deep down, they envy it and they want America to be that open, foreigner-embracing, carefree, goofily enthusiastic place that cynical old Europe can never be. Many young Europeans blame Mr. Bush for making America, since 9/11, into a strange new land that exports fear more than hope, and has become dark and brooding - a place whose greeting to visitors has gone from "Give me your tired, your poor" to "Give me your fingerprints." They look at Mr. Bush as someone who stole something precious from them.

Tim Kreutzfeldt, the bar owner, said to me: "Bush took away our America. I mean we love America. We are very sad about America. We believe in America and American values, but not in Bush. And it makes us angry that he distorted our image of the country which is so important to us. It is not what America stands for - and this makes us angry and it should make every American angry, because America lost so much in its reputation worldwide." The Bush team, he added, is giving everyone in the world the impression that "somebody is coming to kill you."

You say yes, I say no. - A South Ga. editor warns that "folks will soon be hunting down the Georgia GOP with dogs." More on SB 5 and the Dean.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution article in the caption describes me as "a moderate-to-conservative Democrat."

My readers know I post Bill Shipp's work a lot, and I agree with just about everything my mentor has to say. Does that make him moderate-to-conservative?

Just ask the people of Georgia.

Down my way his views are considered -- as reflected in the below editorial -- as being liberal. This summer I ran across folks whose feelings about him ran the gamut from praise to contempt, and who considered his views as ranging from being communist to being way too moderate.

More about Mr. Shipp below. Now to this editorial from a newspaper in Secretary of State Cathy Cox's hometown of Bainbridge. The topic, SB 5, the bill that is the subject of the preceding post featuring Mr. Shipp's column.

That proverbial truth

By Sam Griffin, Jr., Editor and Publisher
The Post-Searchlight (of Bainbridge)
January 25, 2005

The editor of this newspaper is usually at such political odds with his friend and esteemed columnist Bill Shipp—whose column regularly appears on this page as the liberal contributor—that when the editor discovers himself in agreement with the Prestigious Pundit from Peachtree, the first thing he does is reassess his own position. Having done that with Mr. Shipp’s column that appears at right, the editor is compelled to declare that the Rt. Rev. Mr. Shipp has hit the nail right on the thumb [dismissing only the columnist’s obligatory need to bash conservatives in general and Republicans in particular—all the way back to Abe Lincoln’s time]. Even the busted hog, as Willie Highgrass says, roots up an acorn twice a day. This is that day.

The idea embodied in SB 5, touted by Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson, R-Savannah, to allow state and local governments to use the power of eminent domain to seize private property and turn it over to private developers for private commercial purposes is the most outrageously repugnant piece of legislative claptrap since the Yazoo Land Fraud. It is neither a conservative principle nor consistent with the president’s concept of an “ownership generation”—and if Gov. Perdue and responsible Republican leadership do not immediately repudiate, quash and bury forever this travesty, folks will soon be hunting down the Georgia GOP with dogs.

An unnecessary reminder of my own feelings about Bill Shipp, the Dean of Politics and Journalism in Georgia, are contained in my 10-24-04 post in which I wrote:

"The readers of this blog know I have my opinion on matters, and do not mind sharing them. And while I enjoy reading and appreciate the insight and inside knowledge that many of you have shared with me by e-mail since I started this blog in August, there is one voice I respect above all others. You got it, the Dean.

"If he says it, I take it to the bank. With all due respect to all of the great commentators and writers about Georgia politics, this individual is in a class all by himself. He has forgotten more than the rest know.

"I have said it once and will say it many more times. They don't call him the Dean for nothing."

"[C]an't you appreciate, to change the words from Bye Bye Birdie a bit, why I can't help but feel:

"We love you Dean
Oh yes we do
We love Dean
If you say it, we know its true
When you're not writing
We're blue
Oh, Dean, we love you."

Those days of "the land of cotton, Old times there are not forgotten," Part II. - SB 5, etc. reminds the Dean of days of carpetbaggers & scalawags.

A 01-16-05 post is entitled "Let's go back to those days of "the land of cotton, Old times there are not forgotten." - GOP's hawks remind the Dean of orders from Big Brother."

This post becomes Part II. Unfortunately for the people of Georgia, based on Mr. Shipp's observation that "the leadership of the Georgia General Assembly [has] already adopted rules to silence debate, quash dissent, eliminate amendments, operate in secrecy and grease the tracks for their desired legislation," future parts appear to be a given.

This week Bill Shipp writes:

GOP rule seems headed back to Reconstruction days

Why was the GOP unable to regain control of Georgia government for 134 years?

Part of the answer: It took more than a century for Georgians to forget what Republicans did the last time they were in charge. Public corruption was rampant in the Capitol halls. Crooked carpetbaggers and ruthless scalawags, all driven by greed, ran amok, converting public property to private treasure troves and obligating the state government to long-term debts that it could never satisfy.

Generations of Georgians related to their children the horror stories of Republican-wrought Reconstruction. As older Georgians died out and new residents moved in, the bad old days of Reconstruction were finally forgotten. Hardly anyone recalls why the state wallowed in poverty and on the edge of financial ruin for so long after the Civil War. Today, wearing a Republican badge is an honor for some. Many of our forebears would have thrown up.

Alas, let's be fair. The currently ruling GOP tells us that we are in a new era. This is not the Republican Party of Abe Lincoln and Thaddeus Stephens; it is the one of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan - so they say.

Republicans want us to know that they ended their century-plus hiatus in Georgia in order to restore faith in representative democracy, to give the people more voice in government.

Really? Check this out, and you may wonder whether Georgia is on the cusp of Reconstruction II:

• The current Republican administration convened a special "New Georgia Commission" with the stated mission of "returning public trust in government [to] ensure that in all business matters, strict codes of conduct and ethics are enforced." Sounds great, right? However, the New Georgia Commission met in secret and out of compliance with the state's open meetings and open records statutes. That may have been a tip-off to coming events.

• Among the ideas growing out of the New Georgia Commission: wider use of eminent domain (the state's authority to seize private property for the perceived public good). The New Georgia's eminent domain dream came to life in a prefiled legislative measure, Senate Bill 5, which allows the state to seize private property and turn it over to private developers. A similar concept used by a few other states is now being tested in the U.S. Supreme Court. Under provisions of SB 5, state or local governments could grab your house or business; transfer it to a private developer and, Voila! It would become an office tower or parking garage leased back to the state of Georgia. Or Senate Bill 5 could be used to turn a public highway (Georgia Highway 400, for instance) over to private interests for conversion into a for-profit tollway.

• Pushed by state Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson, R-Savannah, an architect turned developer, SB 5 does more than allow the state to become the real estate agent for private corporations. The measure would allow the state, or any Georgia county or city, to lease to private companies its public school buildings, airports, water and sewer systems, roads, etc. It would exclude negotiations for all such deals from the Open Records Act. It would abolish requirements for public bidding. The "lowest bidder wins" concept also goes out the window.

• It gets worse. This bill, under consideration in Sen. Jeff Mullis' (R-Chickamauga) Economic Development Committee, provides few restrictions for state leases or long-term debt involving private parties. Leases, now generally granted on a one-year basis, would become open-ended and bind governments for long periods of time. No referenda are required to ratify any deal.

The Savannah Morning News concluded: "This bill is so far removed from responsible, conservative government that it makes one wonder if a project is already in the works but needs eminent domain to succeed. It's odd to see Mr. Johnson take the lead on a measure that would allow such government intrusion. . . . Trumping private property rights with the plans of private developers is a terrible idea." (Sen. Johnson responded: "The New Georgia Infrastructure Act (SB 5) proposes a sensible way to meet the needs of the citizens of Georgia in coming years without having to implement tax increases at the state and local levels. It would encourage the use of future anticipated fees and revenue to leverage construction costs by private companies today.")

After reviewing Senate Bill 5, a noted authority on eminent domain gave us this unbiased and scholarly analysis:

"This is the worst piece of legislation I have ever seen in my life - 50-year leases with financing deals using state property - all shielded from public scrutiny. Huey Long in his heyday would not have gone this far."

In another time, we would have dismissed the absurdity of SB 5 with a mild rebuke for wasting the legislature's time. Not now. This measure springs from the leadership of the Georgia General Assembly - leaders who have already adopted rules to silence debate, quash dissent, eliminate amendments, operate in secrecy and grease the tracks for their desired legislation.

At his inauguration last week, President Bush promised to battle tyranny wherever it reared its ugly head. He wasn't very specific. But he could have been talking about the administration of New Georgia right in his own backyard.

The article Mr. Shipp quotes from is an scathing editorial in the Savannah Morning News editorial, 01-19-05 against SB 5 sporsored by Senate Majority Leader Eric Johnson of Savannah and Republican Sens. Dan Moody of Alpharetta, Bill Stephens of Canton, Don Balfour of Snellville and Mitch Seabaugh of Sharpsburg.

Another editorial also addresses SB 5, but it is such a classic, it deserves its own post.

The latest on DNC chairman, Part II. -- More of Anybody but Dean.

Excerpts from Newsweek:

Now Playing: 'Anybody But Dean, Part 2'
While the GOP danced, the Dems once again found themselves looking for a leader who's not from Vermont.

Within hours of George Bush's Inauguration, [i]n Georgetown that same evening, hordes of insiders partied at the stately home of Mark Penn, the Clinton family pollster, where they gripped and grinned with Bill and Hill, cheered each other up—and fretted about Dean's assault on party headquarters. "There was a ton of positive energy at the house," a guest said later, "except for the fear and loathing of Dean."

Ever since the early days of the 2004 presidential campaign, the country doctor from the State of Ben & Jerry has been the agitating principal of a confused, fratricidal and essentially leaderless party. Then, as now, Dean inspired an outside-the-Beltway, Net-based crusade whose shock troops adored his social progressivism and his fearless opposition to war in Iraq. Then, as now, a party establishment—based in Congress, governors' mansions and Georgetown salons—viewed him as a loudmouthed lefty whose visibility would ruin the Democratic brand in Red States. Back then, insiders coalesced around Sen. John Kerry, who was stodgy but, Washington wise guys thought, a safe alternative. They trapped Dean in a crossfire in Iowa; his caucus-night Scream sealed his fate.

But the 477 DNC members who choose the party chair haven't settled on a leader of the 2005 version of the Anybody But Dean movement. For now, the front-running alternative is former congressman Martin Frost of Texas, a pro-labor moderate with a lifetime of traditional organizing who survived 13 terms in Dallas before the GOP redistricted him into oblivion. He's followed by Simon Rosenberg, a young Washington-based fund-raiser and strategist who claims to be as digitized and Net-friendly as Dean—and yet more popular than Dean among the bloggers, who are emerging as new grass-roots powers in the party. Pro-lifer Tim Roemer is also running.

In the meantime, with the DNC meeting approaching on Feb. 12, party insiders have been conducting an urgent, so far fruitless, search for a consensus Dean-stopper. The Clintons don't like Dean on substance or style, seeing him as too left and too loose-lipped. But they're being careful. Hillary, already eying a presidential run in 2008, doesn't want to alienate the possible winner; she's leaving DNC maneuvers to Bill, whose answer last month was to sound out current chairman Terry McAuliffe about remaining in the job. (He declined.) The Clintons are said to have encouraged a good friend, veteran organizer Harold Ickes, to enter the chairman's race, but he begged off, too. Party leaders approached former senator Bob Kerrey, but he told them he would rather keep his job as president of the New School University.

Last week the search for a surefire Dean-stopper (if there is one) reached new levels, NEWSWEEK has learned, with several governors—among them Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and Bill Richardson of New Mexico—trying to gin up a last-ditch plan: let Dean be chairman, but confine his role to pure nuts-and-bolts duties by layering him with a new "general chairman" spokesman for the party. They abandoned the idea after realizing that they didn't have the votes to change the rules—and because the person they wanted to take the new role, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, told them she had no interest.

That left the anti-Dean forces with only one clear strategy: recycling the long list of his provocative statements. Among them: that we shouldn't judge Osama bin Laden until he has a jury trial; that America won't always have the strongest military; that "if Bill Clinton could be the first black president, I can be the first gay president." The ABD forces were also pointing reporters to an off-the-record Harvard seminar in November, at which Dean is rumored to have facetiously suggested that Democrats leave Wyoming rather than put up with anti-gay attitudes there. (A Dean spokeswoman says the governor remembers discussing the Matthew Shepherd case, but not the specific remarks about Wyoming. "In any case, his view is that the Democrats need to compete everywhere, including there.")

As for Dean, he is playing it cool and trying to soothe fears within the citadel he may soon occupy. He has vowed not to run for president in '08 if elected chair—a kind of backhanded bribe that may induce many DNC members to vote for him. The incendiary quotes are old news, his advisers insist; besides, Dean will concentrate on organization, not provocation. He and Bill Clinton have talked—at length, sources say—and Dean has hired shrewd Washington hands to help him, including Jim Jordan, Kerry's first presidential handler. Leaner and less mean than in the old days, Dean is wooing DNC members in one-on-ones. "He is giving a lot of 'warm fuzzies' to people," a Democrat says. A warm and fuzzy Howard Dean? It sounds improbable, but it may be the winning story line of the next Democratic movie.

China Becomes Top Japanese Trading Partner.

Some day, the size of China's economy may surpass that of the U.S., currently the world's largest by a wide margin. Though that day is still far away, China has already replaced the U.S. as the top trading partner with Japan, the world's No. 2 economy.


The latest on DNC chairman. Not looking good for Roemer. Labor down on Dean. Labor to endorse: Undetermined. We're down to Frost & Rosenberg.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney has summoned four of the seven candidates to be the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee, dangling the prospect of an important endorsement and discussing their visions for how to rebuild the party.

The private, often lengthy meetings occurred independently of Tuesday’s cattle call of all seven DNC candidates before some 50 AFL-CIO political directors, providing a clearer indication of which candidates labor sees as viable.

The four -- Dean, Fowler, Frost and Rosenberg. This action signaled the likely endorsement of one of them by big labor, which claims to have roughly 100 members sprinkled among the 447 delegates who will decide the race Feb. 12.

But it was still unclear if the AFL-CIO would be able to reach the necessary consensus to make a unified endorsement.

Sweeney’s meetings with those four candidates do not bode well for the other three DNC aspirants.

Several campaigns said that a potential endorsement from the unions would be the most crucial in the race, especially after the Democratic Governors’ Association (DGA) decided late Thursday night not to endorse.

In addition, early support for Dean from some members of the Association of State Democratic Chairs has sapped that group’s ability to leverage its endorsement in the middle days of February.

Some of the campaigns said their reluctance to believe that an endorsement was forthcoming sprung from the widespread shock that the DGA declined to endorse a candidate after it conducted its own interviews last week.

Before Thursday’s DGA announcement, several prominent red-state governors had spent the past six weeks insisting that the DGA play a greater role in the process.

The prospects of an endorsement may hinge on the AFL-CIO’s ability to reach a consensus position on a single candidate, said two political directors who wanted to remain anonymous. Absent a clear choice, the individual unions are likely to announce their own favorites, which would carry much less impact and be diluted by competing endorsements.

Union sources said that Frost appeared to have the upper hand on Dean but that if Dean appears too strong to stop, the labor movement would be unlikely to expend capital to defeat him and would not want to back a candidate, such as Frost, in the process.

(The Hill, 01-26-05).

If Roemer is gradually slipping into not being perceived as a viable candidate, then I believe the race is down to Frost and Rosenberg.

I think for now Roemer is out as a serious contender, but not eliminated completely. Why? If the powers that be can't decide between Frost and Rosenberg, they may take a second look at Roemer. (This is purely Sid's thinking. Roemer may be dead as a doorknob, but I don't think he can be ruled out until a clear frontrunner emerges.)

It does seem apparent that the Dean endorsement by the Florida delegation has not gained any traction or much effect other than to rally the anti-Dean forces into action. Despite such rallying, the dearth of home run candidates holds back the emergence of a front-runner.

But what is most interesting is that that despite both Big Labor and the Democratic Governors' Association wanting to have an impact and be perceived as having an important voice in party affairs, neither can reach a consensus on a clear choice.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

2 Republicans win DOT seats, but I am proud of the Democrats in the 1st Congressional District and my friend Harry Dixon.

A couple of days ago I learned that Harry Dixon's DOT seat was in jeopardy.

Baxter & Galloway reported in the 01-24-05 PI as follows:

Turns out there's a second race for the state transportation board in addition to the one we reported on last week. This one also shapes up as a party showdown.

Tommie Williams, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said he will nominate Roy Herrington, a seed-and-feed dealer from Baxley who has been a Republican county chairman, to replace incumbent DOT board member Harry Dixon of Waycross.

"I don't think party has much to do with it," Williams said.

Dixon, a former Democratic legislator, doesn't see it that way. He says Williams and Perdue have been waging a "scorched earth campaign" to get legislators from the 1st Congressional district, who will decide the matter in a caucus election this week, to swing to his Republican rival.

I sure hated to see this article, and especially the part where Mr. Dixon said Sen. Williams and Gov. Perdue were working hard to get this seat to a Republican.

Harry Dixon has a lot of friends in Atlanta and in the Legislature. Prior to joining the DOT, he served his state and my area of the state both honorably and well in Atlanta for many years.

And he has done our area of the state a good job since being elected to the DOT.

Mr. Dixon's son Donnie was the District Attorney in my judicial circuit prior to be appointed as U.S. Attorney by Pres. Clinton. Donnie is now practicing in Savannah, and has a knack for taking on the tough and difficult cases, including, as you would expect, those in federal court.

Bottom line, maybe I shouldn't have been, but I was very surprised to learn that Donnie's father would have opposition.

Harry Dixon, we appreciate everything you did for this area and the state.

And the Governor, he sure is making a lot of unnecessary enemies down this way.

In today's ajc Tom Baxter reports (excerpts):

2 Republicans win DOT seats

In a victory for Gov. Sonny Perdue, Republicans on Tuesday won two contested seats on the powerful state Department of Transportation board.

Legislators from Georgia's 1st Congressional District chose Roy Herrington, a Baxley seed-and-feed dealer and a former Republican county chairman, over incumbent board member Harry Dixon of Waycross.

Raybon Anderson, a Statesboro farmer and a Republican voter, won the contest for the open 12th District seat, defeating former Democratic Rep. Ben Allen of Augusta.

"DOT board elections are like a knife fight. There are no rules," said Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson (R-Savannah), who chaired both elections. Johnson's Senate district overlaps both the 1st and the 12th districts.

The DOT board seats are the only state board positions elected by legislators, which indicates the enormous power the board holds in allocating transportation projects to different parts of the state.

The board is officially nonpartisan, but the addition of two avowed Republicans enhances Perdue's and the GOP's influence.

In Tuesday's elections, legislators followed a 15-plus-year tradition and voted in secret. Lawmakers argue the secret ballot protects them from political retaliation if they vote the "wrong" way. Critics note that constituents have no idea for whom their legislator has voted.

After the 1st District vote, both Johnson and Rep. Terry Coleman (D-Eastman) said the vote had been 22-12. That's also the split between Republicans and Democrats in the caucus.

Rep. Tom Bordeaux (D-Savannah) failed in a motion to make the 12th District election an open, public vote. But the 12th District legislators did release their vote total: 18-10 for the Republican candidate, in a caucus where Democrats hold a 16-12 majority.

The governor's office has played down its involvement in the DOT board elections, but Dan McLagan, Perdue's spokesman, acknowledged afterward that it backed the Republican candidates.

"We were supportive of Mr. Herrington and Mr. Anderson. They're going to be great board members and we look forward to working with them," McLagan said.

Dixon, who has served on the DOT board for four years, blamed Perdue for his defeat. "He had everything to do with it," Dixon said.

The optimist sees the doughnut. The pessimist sees the hole. - Republican introduces legislation to outlaw abortions. Go tell it on the mountain.

Saturday night I was went to a party wear you were supposed to have something that related to the 60s or 70s. I wore my JFK/LBJ button.

In my youth Pres. Kennedy's administration was our country's Camelot. And I saw and enjoyed the play Camelot that was on Broadway during his time in office.

You know the story. At the end, lovers Guenevere and Lancelot have fled to France, facing charges of treason. King Arthur sets off after them, knowing that he must declare war on France if the Round Table is to retain its integrity.

Prior to the battle, he meets them both. Aware that he has lost the love of Guenevere, Arthur forgives them and prepares for battle. Whether or not he is killed, he knows that the Order of the Round Table as he envisioned it will probably die. In a final gesture of hope, he dispatches a young boy back to England to spread the word and help keep alive the dream that was his Camelot.

And then King Arthur (Richard Burton) sings (and taking a bit of liberty here in mixing up the verses):

"Ask ev'ry person if he's heard the story,
And tell it strong and clear if he has not,
Don't let it be forgot
That once there was a spot
For one brief shining moment that was known
As Camelot."

Yesterday state Rep. Bobby Franklin (R. Marietta) introduced a bill -- co-sponsored by four other House Republicans -- that would outlaw almost every abortion in Georgia. Outlaw? Yes, and get this; no exceptions on abortion for women who are raped or victims of incest.

The bill introduced by a Republican would make it a felony for anyone to perform an abortion in Georgia, except in cases where the mother's life is in danger.

The bill has about as much chance of becoming law (including becoming law and not being declared unconstitutional) as I do of walking on the moon. It contradicts the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, Roe v. Wade.

GOP leaders said the ban is not part of the party's agenda.

But, as we have discussed, the GOP leadership has announced its support for one abortion bill, the "Woman's Right to Know Act." That legislation, expected be introduced in February, requires physicians to give women information on the risks associated with abortions and requires a woman to wait 24 hours before she has an abortion.

"That bill will get a vote," [Michelle Hitt, spokeswoman for House Speaker Glenn Richardson], said, implying that this one probably won't.

So what should we do with this. Be down and pessimistic about such legislation? Hardly. This does no good.

Rather get yourself into the King Arthur mode, and ask every woman if she's heard that this week the Republicans introduced a bill that would make abortion illegal in Georgia, ranking it up there with murder and rape as something so serious as to constitute being a felony to perform one.

We have known there would be some overreaching forthcoming, but this?

What overreaching!! What powerful propaganda: GOP seeks to outlaw abortions in Georgia.

(ajc, 01-26-05; Morris News Service, 01-26-05.)