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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.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Dick Yarbrough comments on the race for Democratic nominee for governor.

Strategists running the Democratic gubernatorial campaign of current Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, aka “The Big Guy,” are branding his chief rival, Secretary of State Cathy Cox, as a “liberal.” Yet, Taylor is a strong pro-abortion advocate and word is that our Ambassador to Outer Space Cynthia McKinney is quietly backing Taylor’s candidacy. This all seems a little strange to me.

(In the first place, “quiet” and “McKinney” don’t belong in the same sentence. Second, Taylor calling someone “liberal” is like a frog claiming to be an expert on ugly.)

(The (Bainbridge) Post-Searchlight.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Clinton Angers Left With Call for Unity. Senator Accused of Siding With Centrists.

The Washington Post reports:Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's call for an ideological cease-fire in the Democratic Party drew an angry reaction yesterday from liberal bloggers and others on the left, who accused her of siding with the centrist Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) in a long-running dispute over the future of the party.

Long a revered figure by many in the party's liberal wing, Clinton (D-N.Y.) unexpectedly found herself under attack after calling Monday for a cease-fire among the party's quarreling factions and for agreeing to assume the leadership of a DLC-sponsored initiative aimed at developing a more positive policy agenda for the party.

The reaction highlighted the dilemma Democratic politicians face trying to satisfy energized activists on the left -- many of whom are hungering for party leaders to advance a more full-throated agenda and more aggressively confront President Bush -- while also cultivating the moderate Democrats and independents whose support is crucial to winning elections. The challenge has become more acute because of the power and importance grass-roots activists, symbolized by groups such as MoveOn.org and liberal bloggers, have assumed since the 2004 election.

The most pointed critique of Clinton came in one of the most influential blogs on the left, Daily Kos out of Berkeley, Calif., which called Clinton's speech "truly disappointing" and said she should not provide cover for an organization that often has instigated conflict within the party.

"If she wanted to give a speech to a centrist organization truly interested in bringing the various factions of the party together, she could've worked with NDN," the blog said in a reference to the New Democrat Network, with which Daily Kos's Markos Moulitsas is associated. "Instead, she plans on working with the DLC to come up with some common party message yadda yadda yadda. Well, that effort is dead on arrival. The DLC is not a credible vehicle for such an effort. Period."

Keep it up Senator, your trip to the middle. It is crucial for our Party winning in 2008! And like your husband, you might find you like it here.

Republicans See Opportunity in Labor Rift. - Battles between the two will divert cash, energy and resources away from politics.

The Washington Post reports:

The political consequences of the split within the AFL-CIO began to reverberate nationwide Tuesday, with Democrats fretting that it will dilute the importance of labor endorsements while Republicans looked for opportunities to make inroads.

Democratic strategists and union operatives noted that the split will change the dynamics of presidential and state elections. Presidential candidates will now seek endorsements from two separate and competing labor groups, the AFL-CIO and the newly formed Change to Win Coalition, they noted.

"It's going to be like figuring out who to stay friends with after a divorce," one Democratic presidential operative said. In addition, he and others noted, there will be strong incentives for the two wings of labor to pick different candidates as each tries to outdo the other.

Republican operatives are watching the splintering of the AFL-CIO carefully to see if the divisions offer opportunities to gain a beachhead in labor. "This cuts the legs out from one of their main GOTV [get-out-the-vote] groups," a Republican Party official said with undisguised pleasure.

While the GOP is eagerly watching the internal labor battles, conservative groups are announcing plans to step in to try to further weaken the union movement. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation announced plans to raise $2 million for "free legal assistance" to workers seeking to end their union membership and to stop paying dues.

In addition, the bitterness that has already begun to surface in the wake of the Teamster-SEIU defection is, according to many on both sides of the fight, almost sure to escalate into open warfare when such unions as the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and SEIU compete to organize such prime union targets as home health-care workers without the AFL-CIO as a referee.

"It's not going to be pleasant to watch," said Gerald W. McEntee, president of AFSCME, noting that such battles will divert cash, energy and resources away from politics.

The 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law severely limits the amount unions can give to national political parties and federal candidates. Organized labor does, however, remain a key source of cash and manpower at the state and local level, especially in areas where contribution limits are high or absent altogether.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Sen. Clinton Calls for Party Truce, United Front.

The Washington Post reports:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) called Monday for a cease-fire among warring factions of the Democratic Party, arguing that a united front is needed to reverse the party's recent electoral defeats and halt the advance of conservative Republican ideology.

Clinton was the marquee attraction among a procession of prospective 2008 Democratic presidential candidates who spoke at the annual summer meeting of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) -- a group that was a springboard for Bill Clinton's first White House bid 13 years ago. She announced that she had taken a new position with the group aimed at winning back heartland voters.

All the prospective candidates emphasized that opposition to President Bush's policies alone will not put the Democrats back in the White House, but it was Clinton who forcefully argued that the Democrats no longer can afford internal strife and must bridge long-standing divisions to regain power.

"We Democrats have not yet succeeded in isolating and defeating the far right, in part because we have allowed ourselves to be split between left, right and center," she said. Noting that the DLC had often been in the forefront of those intraparty battles, she said all Democrats should agree to a truce and unite around shared values, "values violated every day in Washington by the ideologues of the Republican right."

Bill Clinton used his chairmanship of the DLC in the early 1990s to engage in some of those intraparty fights, urging a break from traditional liberalism and emphasizing "New Democrat" themes that foreshadowed his 1992 campaign. But in taking on a central role with the DLC, the New York senator suggested she would use her position less to create intellectual friction in the party than to serve as a voice around whom all Democrats can rally. "It is vital that we bring everyone's positive Democratic progressive ideas to the table," she said.

Although the next presidential campaign is three years away, Monday's session had clear overtones of that coming race. Three other Democrats actively considering running in 2008 -- Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, the newly named DLC chairman; Sen. Evan Bayh (Ind.), the outgoing DLC chairman; and Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner, who just concluded a year as chairman of the National Governors Association -- competed with Clinton for attention.

Attendees gave all four prospective candidates good reviews, but the mob scene that surrounded Clinton afterward showed she retains a special position within the party, one that for now seems to transcend the party's ideological camps.

In her speech, Clinton accused Republicans of reversing the course established by Democrats in the 1990s. "They turned our bridge to the 21st century into a tunnel back to the 19th century," she said. Then, with a time-machine metaphor, she offered an idealized vision of America in 2020 after other, presumably Democratic, policies had been put in place.

That America included a more protected homeland, a better-equipped and trained military, and diplomatic reengagement abroad as well as refocused attention on domestic problems such as health care, the budget deficit and strains on families.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Democratic Booster ACT Cuts Liberal Spending.

The Washington Post reports:

America Coming Together, the liberal 527 that spent lavishly during the 2004 campaign, is sharply scaling back its operations and laying off employees in the face of lackluster fundraising. "It's been very difficult to raise the amount of money we had hoped to raise," Harold Ickes, one of the group's directors, told Roll Call.

So what has happened to all the liberal money? Ask Howard Dean.

The Democratic National Committee reported that Democrats' fundraising during the first half of this year jumped by more than 50 percent compared with the same period in 2003, the last non-election year. The Democratic National Committee, the party's Senate and House campaign committees along with its constellation of state and local parties reported taking in more than $86 million, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Their Republican counterparts posted a more modest 2 percent increase over the same period in 2003. But the GOP still significantly outfundraised the Democrats, receiving more than $142 million.

The DNC recorded a 66 percent increase, from $19 million in 2003 to $31 million this year. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee's fundraising more than doubled to nearly $23 million. The Republican National Committee said it raised $62 million, up 11 percent from 2003. The National Republican Senatorial Committee said fundraising increased by more than 40 percent to $21 million.

Today's Political Insider says certain high-placed Republicans have concluded that Cox represents a substantial demographic threat to Perdue.

Today's Political Insider reports that some GOP strategists believe Gov. Sonny Perdue's re-election could easily hang on support from the fickle suburban women of metro Atlanta — the state's most important pocket of swing voters.

Because Cathy Cox, like Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, polls extremely well in the suburbs, these high-placed Republicans have begun to consider Cox, the current secretary of state, to be the Democrats' likely nominee for governor next year.

4 Major Unions Plan to Withdraw from A.F.L.-C.I.O.

The New York Times reports:

Leaders of four of the country's largest labor unions announced on Sunday that they would boycott this week's A.F.L.-C.I.O. convention, and officials from two of those unions, the service employees and the Teamsters, said the action was a prelude to their full withdrawal from the federation on Monday.

A rift could hurt the labor movement badly by redirecting its focus and energies to internal battles instead of bedrock issues like fighting for wage increases and extending health care to more workers. Democrats, a traditional ally of organized labor, are especially worried that a schism might hurt their party's chances by making labor a less potent political force.

[T]he percentage of private-sector workers in unions has sunk to less than 8 percent from 35 percent a half-century ago.

The four unions boycotting the convention represent about one-third of the A.F.L.-C.I.O.'s 13 million members. The A.F.L.-C.I.O. is the nation's main labor federation, a grouping of 56 unions that coordinates union activities in politics and often serves as the voice of American workers on job safety, raising the minimum wage and other issues.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Gov. Howard Dean on Meet the Press last Dec.: "I have long believed that we ought to make a home for pro-life Democrats."

The evening news last night reported that in his address to the Young Democrats of America, Chairman Dean urged our party to be big enough to accomodate pro-life voters. This reminded me of something I had read a couple of days ago written by one of my favorite columnists, Richard Cohen of the Washington Post.

Writing about Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, Richard Cohen wrote:

Roberts alone is not enough to reverse Roe v. Wade , and, anyway, a pro-choice nominee is just not in the cards. Most Americans support abortion rights. Still, I doubt that abortion is seen as the single most important issue in their lives -- insufficient reason for a scorched-earth response to the nomination. Abortion lacks the historical resonance of civil rights or, for that matter, a similar consensus.

Shortly after Sandra Day O'Connor tendered her resignation, I spoke to an important Democratic senator who confided that Bush was in a trap. I tried really hard to follow his logic, but it eluded me. It seems to me that it is the Democratic Party that has a problem. It can either come to terms with reality or appear, to much of the country, both petulant and in the grip of special interests, particularly the pro-choice lobby. In effect, the fate of this nominee was settled back in the year 2000 when Florida, for better or for worse, squinted hard and pronounced George W. Bush its winner. The chads have spoken.

What Dean actually said is reported by the Washington Post as follows:

Democrats need to reach out to voters who oppose abortion rights and promote candidates who share that view, and our party has to change its approach in the debate over abortion.

"I think we need to talk about this issue differently," said Dean. "The Republicans have painted us as a pro-abortion party. I don't know anybody in America who is pro-abortion."

Dean's approach echoed similar arguments advanced in recent months by former President Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.

"We do have to have a big tent. I do think we need to welcome pro-life Democrats into this party," said Dean.

I think it is imperative that we follow Dean's advice if we are to return to our former status as the big tent party. I used to find it inappropriate -- given all of the issues out there -- that being pro-life was a litmus test for the GOP. But now we are close to pro-choice being a litmus test for our party.

As I have written on the blog before, I am pro-choice not because I am a Democrat, but because I think it should be a woman's choice, and definitely not mine unless it happened to be my wife or daughter.

But what if someone has religious convictions different from me; do we not have room in the party for such person?

As we reach out to fellow religious voters, we should quit arguing the legality of abortion, and rather shift the theme to abortion should be "safe, legal and rare."

And just as we want to see fewer abortions, we want our children to learn good values -- at home, in school, at Sunday school and at church with their parents.

Good values, health care, jobs and sex education can reduce the number of abortion procedures, and who can be opposed to that.

Shipp: Georgia is a tough place to cast a ballot. HB 244 might as well been called "Bring the Flaggers Back to the Polls Act."

This week Bill Shipp writes:

The nation marks the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 on Aug. 6. Georgia officials ought to do something special on that day.

How about unveiling another commemorative bronze plaque on the Capitol lawn? It could be appropriately inscribed: "Welcome to Georgia. The toughest place in America for eligible, registered voters to cast their ballots. - Georgia League of Women Voters."

Four decades after enactment of the nation's most important guarantee of minority voting rights, Georgia still stands as a national disgrace on ballot-box access. In this important anniversary year, our state government has renewed efforts to make it difficult for poor people and rural blacks to vote.

In recent months, Georgia has become a high-profile national symbol of voting-rights retrogression. We already have one of the lowest voter turnouts in the country. The 2005 General Assembly passed a law to make certain that turnout dips even further.

The usually sedate Georgia League of Women Voters is among two dozen groups assailing Georgia government for trying to chill minority voting. They have asked the feds to intervene before it is too late.

And the Justice Department is investigating.

Secretary of State Cathy Cox, the state's chief election officer, is appalled at the state government's drift into a 1950s attitude on suffrage.

The New York Times ridiculed and denounced Georgia last week for "putting up obstacles for black and poor voters." [For New York Times editorial, see 7-20-05 post entitled "Georgia's voter ID legislation makes New York Times editorial page.] The world is watching and shaking its head.

What's the cause of the uproar?

The legislature has passed a law prohibiting from voting at a polling place any person who does not have a driver's license, state-issued photo ID, U.S. passport or federal picture ID. Other forms of identification (Social Security card or birth certificate, for instance) will no longer be accepted. If the law stands, an estimated 150,000 Georgians will be disenfranchised. Gov. Sonny Perdue and his cohorts declared the measure was needed to combat "voter fraud" at the polling place.

Voter fraud? What voter fraud? Almost no instances of voter fraud involving IDs have been reported in Georgia.

However, the secretary of state's office has received reams of voter fraud complaints regarding the state's absentee ballot procedures that require no IDs - only a signature from a faceless mail-in respondent. Confronted with an abundance of evidence of voter fraud by mail, the Georgia legislature moved as we have come to expect it to act. The legislators voted to relax and liberalize absentee-ballot regulations and make snail-mail voting easier. By the way, primary-election records show that most absentee ballots are cast by white Republicans. The legislature is controlled by white Republicans.

Meanwhile, our lawmakers were determined to prevent old people, poor people and people of color from trying to trick poll workers with phony birth certificates - even if such an act has rarely, if ever, occurred. These presumably deceitful folks vote overwhelmingly Democratic.

House Bill 244, passed in the closing hours of the last legislative session, accomplished much more than simply repressing black and elderly turnout. Its outcome is designed to incense and anger certain white people. The bill might have been nicknamed the "Bring the Flaggers Back to the Polls Act."

The Justice Department is currently reviewing HB 244 to determine whether it violates the Voting Rights Act. A ruling is expected early next month.

If DOJ tosses out the bill, demagogues will immediately rail against the feds for meddling in state affairs.

If the Justice Department lets the bill stand, the Georgia ID act is certain to become part of the coming congressional debate for extending the Voting Rights Act and keeping Georgia on the list of "special states" not trusted to protect all citizens' liberties.

That, in turn, will fire up again the Washington-hating "Fergit, hell" crowd and create new obstacles for Democratic candidates.

Small wonder Gov. Sonny Perdue smiled so broadly when he signed this voting rights chiller into law.

On another election front, 4th District Rep. Cynthia McKinney has called for an investigation of Georgia electronic voting equipment, claiming numerous instances of equipment failure in 2002. Best known for her off-the-wall ethnic slurs and all-out opposition to defense appropriations, the DeKalb County lawmaker's sudden interest in computer voting is seen as a shot of criticism at Secretary of State Cox's Democratic primary candidacy for governor. Cox received national recognition in 2002 for introducing electronic voting in Georgia with few problems. (Cox's Democratic Party was soundly drubbed in the state's first fully computerized election.)

Congresswoman McKinney is reportedly siding with Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor in his bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. McKinney and her father, former state Rep. Billy McKinney, were once regarded as pivotal behind-the-scenes leaders in attracting black voters in DeKalb County.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The real work is done away from the cameras & down in the trenches, whether working on the Hill or as a catalyst mobilizing voters back home.

Excerpts from:

Democrats Are on the Wrong Battlefield
By Colbert I. King
The Washington Post

If John Roberts is confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, as now seems likely -- barring a shocker in his record or his past -- the reasons he made it won't be solely his résumé or the support of President Bush. The groundwork for Roberts's elevation to the high court -- and the likelihood of success for future Bush Supreme Court nominees -- was laid nearly three years ago in Georgia, Minnesota and Missouri, and last November in North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana and South Dakota, when Republicans captured eight Democratic Senate seats.

Today, with Republicans holding 55 seats and having a good chance of landing the votes of some Democrats, the White House enters the Supreme Court fights in excellent shape. That thought alone has some in Washington seized with myocardial infarctions. But they have only themselves to blame.

Self-designated as a government in exile, Democratic Party activists have spent recent election cycles working their fannies off for that glorious day in January when they, as victors, could show the door to a vanquished Republican administration. For members of Washington's Democratic administration-in-waiting, winning the White House has been the only game in town. The presidency, in their view, is the instrument to make the way straight and easy for all who wage war against the heathen right.

Winning judicial nomination fights in Washington over the next three years will require scoring victories far beyond the Beltway. Good places to start? Next year's U.S. Senate races in Arizona, Indiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming.

Unlike churning out news releases and holding grip-and-grin sessions around Washington, that takes real work.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Representatives Royal and Channell of the Rural Caucus. - The optimist sees the doughnut; the pessimist sees the hole.

This week Bill Shipp wrote:

Slippage goes on: Two leading House Democrats, Rep. Richard Royal of Camilla and Rep. Mickey Channell of Greensboro, have delivered campaign contributions to the legislature's Republican leadership. The cash tributes are seen as a sure sign the declining Democrats are about to lose another pair of lawmakers.

This prediction came despite statements from each of these Democrats that the contributions don't indicate their future plans.

As noted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution article first reporting these contributions, Royal and Channell are founding members of the Rural Caucus, a mostly Democratic group formed last fall by lawmakers hoping to push for small-town issues in the wake of gains made by suburban Republicans.

Rep. Jeanette Jamieson (D-Toccoa), chairwoman of the group, doesn't believe rural Democrats will abandon the party.

Rather than calling these fellow Democrats scalawags and traitors at this point, wouldn't it make more sense to contact them and encourage them to stick with us for a variety of reasons, including that 2006 is going to be our year.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Shipp: Governor's appointment to Georgia Supreme Court upsetting some lawyers and others. - Just so you will know.

This week Bill Shipp writes:

Gov. Sonny Perdue might have appointed a boat rocker to the Georgia Supreme Court.

Upon taking his oath as an associate justice, Harold G. Melton, 38, former Perdue legal aide, broke with tradition on a couple of fronts:

• He wrote a separate dissent in a 5-2 decision to deny a stay of execution for convicted dismemberment murderer Robert Dale Conklin. Freshman justices never write separate opinions in their first week on the job. It is just not done. Conklin was put to death over the objections of both Melton and Chief Justice Leah Sears, considered the high court's most liberal member.

• When veteran Supreme Court Justice George H. Carley offered to show Melton around and brief him on the court's routine, Melton brushed him off, saying he would take care of it himself. He gave the same cold shoulder to longtime court staffers who offered a similar guided tour.

• Through no fault of his own, Melton stands as a signal snub of Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, both of whom strongly recommended that Perdue appoint former state bar president Jimmy Franklin of Statesboro to the high court. In addition to solid legal credentials, Franklin has been a leader in the Georgia Republican Party. Gov. Perdue chose Melton instead. "If Franklin has so much support, let him run for governor," Perdue snapped, apparently irked at the amount of pressure brought to appoint the South Georgia lawyer.

Some mainstream bar members are said to be seething and actively looking for a challenger to Melton in the next election. Trial lawyers are irked at what they see as a big-business appointment. Conservatives are outraged at his first dissent, an attempt to spare the life of a brutal murderer.

Georgia's voter ID legislation makes New York Times editorial page.

Today's New York Times has the following editorial:

Georgia has passed a disturbing new law that bars people from voting without government-issued photo identification and seems primarily focused on putting up obstacles for black and poor voters. The Justice Department is now weighing whether the law violates the Voting Rights Act. Clearly it does, and it should be blocked from taking effect.

The new law's supporters claim that it is an attempt to reduce voter fraud, but Secretary of State Cathy Cox has said she cannot recall a single case during her tenure when anyone impersonated a voter.

In the same period, she says, there have been numerous allegations of fraud involving absentee ballots. But the Georgia Legislature has passed a law that focuses on voter identification while actually making absentee ballots more prone to misuse.

The new law will make it harder for elderly Georgians to vote as well. It has been estimated that more than 150,000 older Georgians who voted in the 2004 presidential election do not have driver's licenses, and are unlikely to have other acceptable forms of identification. According to census data, black Georgians are far less likely to have access to a car than white Georgians, so they are at a distinct disadvantage when driver's licenses have an important role in proving people's eligibility to vote.

Under the Voting Rights Act, Georgia's law must be cleared by the Justice Department before it can take effect. There can be little doubt that the law would have "the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race," and it therefore must be rejected. But in the current Justice Department, there is a real danger that this decision will be based on politics rather than law.

Georgia's new identification requirement is part of a nationwide drive to erect barriers at the polls. Indiana also recently passed a new photo-identification requirement, and several other states, including Ohio, are considering the addition of such requirements.

There are many steps states can take to reduce election fraud. But laws that condition voting on having a particular piece of identification that many eligible voters do not possess have no place in a democracy.

Women Closest to Bush Are Pro-Choice.

The Washington Post reports:

The women closest to the president support abortion rights. His mother, his wife and one of his most trusted advisors, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, all have stated that they believe Roe v. Wade should not be overturned.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

My Yankee friend says: GOP leaders know that soon the white vote alone won't be enough to win national elections.

Can GOP 'unplay' the race card?

By Joan Vennochi
The Boston Globe

Lee Atwater would understand.

In the throes of a fatal brain tumor, Atwater, the onetime chairman of the Republican National Committee and campaign manager for George H.W. Bush, offered a deathbed apology, saying he was sorry he used race to savage Michael S. Dukakis in the 1988 presidential contest.

In a speech this month before the NAACP, Ken Mehlman, the current RNC chairman, said, ''Some Republicans gave up on winning the African-American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization. I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong."

Atwater was preparing to meet his maker, or at the very least charm the obituary writers. Mehlman has a more down-to-earth, but equally pragmatic goal. He is trying to grow the GOP -- how and where shows how much the political landscape changed from the last time a Massachusetts Democrat challenged a Bush for the presidency.

In an interview published before his death in April 1991, Atwater apologized for disparaging remarks he made about Dukakis and for saying he would make ''Willie Horton his running mate." That was a reference to a campaign ad about William R. Horton Jr., a convicted felon who was released while serving a life sentence for murder, compliments of a Massachusetts weekend furlough program. Horton was later captured in Maryland, after assaulting a man and raping his fiancee. The infamous ''Willie Horton" ad portrayed Dukakis as soft on crime. The mugshot of Horton, who is African-American, also provided a menacing subtext that the ad's creator described as ''every suburban mother's greatest fear."

Playing the race card -- pitting whites against blacks and maintaining the South as a Republican stronghold -- helped the first Bush win. With race no longer the key issue, the South held for his son. But the GOP knows it needs a different hand. Today, the party is reaching out to Latino and African-American voters, following a basic business maxim: grow or die.

The country is increasingly diverse; GOP leaders know that soon the white vote alone won't be enough to win national elections. If the party fails to make inroads into those constituencies, ''We could be toast in a decade," predicts one national Republican strategist, who did not want his name used.

Within the next six to 10 years, there will be more Latino or Hispanic voters than African-American voters nationally. This fast-growing voter population explains why President Bush and Senator John McCain are promoting immigration reform, despite pushback from the GOP's conservative base and from some white Democratic swing voters.

When it comes to African-American voters, the GOP is likely opting for more of a psychological victory than harboring any real hope of carving away the Democratic Party's longtime base. In the 2004 presidential campaign, Bush won 44 percent of all votes cast by Latinos -- but only 11 percent of votes cast by African-Americans. Still, ''Every African-American vote we get costs the Democrats -- the one they lose and the one we get. If we can ever get that vote in play, take say, a regular 35 percent, we will really hurt them," said the GOP strategist.

The GOP is banking on compatibility with black and Latino voters when it comes to some social issues, such as same-sex marriage. It also cultivates positive imagery with Bush Cabinet appointees such as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and her predecessor, Colin Powell.

Now comes Mehlman's apology. Can it help the cause?

Deval Patrick, a Democrat who served as assistant attorney general during the Clinton administration and is now running for governor in Massachusetts, said, ''The Republicans have a lot to answer for . . . An apology is never too late, but it's not enough if it's just words." Added Patrick, who is African-American: ''In some ways, the Southern Strategy of yesterday is the suburban strategy of today, to follow that old temptation, what divides us, instead of what unites us."

In other words, racial division may no longer be key to electoral success. But that is not the end of the GOP's divide and conquer strategy. In last year's presidential campaign, the party used issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, and patriotism to divide voters.

That makes the new politics a lot like the old: Do what it takes to win.

Atwater would understand.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Political Insider reports that that Mark Taylor has shaken up his campaign staff.

Today's Political Insider reports the following:

Though Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor has been absolutely mum about it, he's already shaken up his campaign for governor.

We're told it happened in January or February. Certainly it happened before June 28. That's when Doug Heyl, the man who had been in charge of Taylor's ambitions, sent $1,000 to Secretary of State Cathy Cox, Taylor's Democratic rival.

Heyl ran the Big Guy's 2002 re-election campaign for lieutenant governor. No coherent word yet on why Heyl was dumped. Taylor's new team hasn't been formally announced.

We hear it will be led by Jim Andrews, a Chicago-based consultant who ran Zell Miller's 1994 Georgia gubernatorial re-election campaign. Andrews also worked in Georgia last year, first as a strategist for Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, then for U.S. Senate candidate Denise Majette.

Cox says she's got a 20-point lead, and also is ahead of Taylor among black voters.

The Political Insider today reports the following:

Boosted by a good showing in the fund-raising department, Cathy Cox's people last week let slip a June poll of Democratic voters that focused on next year's gubernatorial primary. The survey showed the secretary of state leading Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor by 56 to 36 percent. More important, the poll had her leading in the major demographics, among rural voters, urban voters, women and men.

Taylor's advocates have spent many months arguing that their man has a lock on the African-American vote, now the crucial ingredient for a Democratic primary victory. But Cox says she's ahead there, too: 49 percent to 42 percent among all black voters and 54 percent to 37 percent among African-American women.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Max Cleland for lieutenant governor?

This week Bill Shipp writes:

Is Ralph Reed's bad dream about to come true? Have Democrats found a candidate to run against him, one with perhaps as much charisma, fund-raising power and political moxie? Is Max Cleland about to ride back into the Georgia political arena, this time as an aspirant for lieutenant governor?

Several Democrats are encouraging former Sen. Cleland to go for the office in next year's election.

If Max says yes, the Georgia contest for lieutenant governor could turn into one of the nation's most closely watched second-tier elections.

Reed's bid for lieutenant governor has already morphed into a magnet for national Republican campaign funds. Cleland could be expected to attract big sums from national Democrats, some of whom had written off the Georgia party - before they heard about overtures to Max.

Cleland's candidacy would change Reed's strategy. Abramoff and Cagle would become secondary concerns. Cleland, a compelling motivational speaker, would quickly become the man - and the issue - to overcome.

The seasoned Democrat can match or exceed many of Reed's assets.

A Cleland candidacy would force Reed to focus on his own political survival. The Republican strategist would have little time to dabble in other contests.

A Cleland presence also shakes up the state Democratic Party's plans.

Former state Sen. Greg Hecht would likely abandon his intention to run for lieutenant governor and announce instead for state school superintendent. Also, former state Rep. Jim Martin, a liberal Democrat, would lose traction in the lieutenant governor's matchup. Martin is seen as the Democrat whom Reed would most like to run against.

There's just one problem: Cleland hasn't decided whether he's ready to dive back into the political pool. Without a lot of tugging from party regulars, he is not likely to make such a move. Strangely, some Democratic leaders are becoming much like old-time, complacent Republicans. Trying to win elections is too much hassle, especially if one has to actively recruit viable candidates.

I do agree with Bill Shipp that the most important thing our Democratic leaders can be doing now is to be recruiting viable candidates to take on Republicans in 2006. 2002 and 2004 are behind us. Let's put these dates out of our minds and focus on 2006 and 2008.

Bill Shipp has done a great job writing about former Sen. Cleland in this article, and the above is only a part of such article. I encourage you to read it all.

Even more important, I encourage you to contact anyone you know who might have some influence in encouraging former Sen. Cleland to make this sacrifice for the party. If that person is you, please contact former Sen. Cleland Monday.

His running truly would shake things up and be about the next best thing since sliced bread.

And Mr. Shipp, thanks for giving us this encouragement to contact former Sen. Cleland.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Sen. Clinton Raises $6M in Past 3 Months.

The Washington Post reports:

In a Senate race that could have implications for the 2008 presidential contest, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton raised more than $6 million between April and June.

Clinton's first campaign for Senate in 2000 smashed fundraising records, as she and her Republican opponent, then-congressman Rick Lazio, together spending about $80 million.

A strong showing in next year's Senate race could give added momentum to Clinton's early frontrunner status among possible Democratic candidates in the 2008 presidential race. A bruising contest could slow her down.

Lowndes County Democratic Party annual barbeque event. A glimpse of things to come.

Last night I attended the Lowndes County Democratic Party Annual Barbeque in Valdosta pursuant to an invitation from my friend County Chair Dennis Marks.

This was my second meeting with the Lowndes County Democratic Party, and it is one impressive group. If the majority of our County Committees were only a third as organized and functioning as Dennis has his Committee, 2006 would be a walk in the park.

Excitement was in the air, as was talk of taking back the governor's mansion next year and completing the task of getting both the House and Senate back by 2008, this being after making some inroads in the state House and Senate next year.

If Georgia went red in 2004, don't bother to tell this to the folks in Valdosta. Lowndes went largely blue in 2004 except with respect to Bush and Kerry, and with help from Brooks County, assured that it has an all-blue local legislative delegation.

Additionally, many local officials on the Democratic ticket were elected, and these officials were in attendance last evening to show their appreciation and enthusiasm.

Senator Tim Golden and Representatives Ellis Black, Ron Borders and Jay Shaw -- this area's solid blue legislative delegation -- were also in attendance. This group works together as a partnership for their constitutents, and the results are apparent.

Valdosta and Lowndes County provide a great example of the results that can be achieved when there is close collaboration between the county party and the elected Democratic officials.

Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irwin was the keynote speaker, and the large meeting room was filled to capacity to hear his rallying pep talk.

The primary purpose of this post -- and the meaning of its title with respect to a glimpse of things to come -- concerns the governor's race. Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor and Secretary of State Cathy Cox had prior engagements elsewhere, but each sent a representative.

For Taylor it was his wife Sacha, and for Cox her sister Glennie Bench.

The Chair graciously allowed each to have a few words, and both Sacha and Glennie did great jobs speaking for their respective candidates.

While having our primary candidates at party functions is certainly nothing new, this year -- given the expected intensity of the Democratic primary battle and the situation of having a Republican incumbent as being the almost certain GOP nominee -- sure does seem to make this time seem different.

It is going to be an interesting political season to say the least.

Today my hat is off to the current Chairman of the GOP - GOP official renounces race tactics.

The chairman of the Republican Party on Thursday renounced the GOP's racially polarizing "Southern strategy" of the late 1960s, under which Richard Nixon used such issues as desegregation and forced busing of schoolchildren to woo white voters and win the presidency.

Republican National Committee chief Ken Mehlman made the comments in Milwaukee to the annual convention of the NAACP . . . said that Republicans had been wrong to try to make use of racially divisive issues.

"Some Republicans gave up on winning the African-American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization," Mehlman said, according to his prepared remarks. "I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong."

(The Atlanta Journal-Constitution carrying an Los Angeles Times story.)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Feingold takes on K Street. - Wow! But will it ever happen? It did on overhauling campaign finance laws.

The Hill reports:

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) will introduce a bill today that would radically overhaul the ways in which lobbyists and lawmakers interact with one another.

Feingold's bill would require more disclosure of meetings between lawmakers and lobbyists, curb privately funded travel, slow the revolving door between government service and lobbying, and raise the cost of traveling on private jets . . . .

Perhaps the most substantial change to current lobbying laws is a prohibition on former senators-turned-lobbyists from using the Senate gym or visiting current members on the Senate floor.

Specifics of Feingold's bill include,

* Requiring disclosure in the quarterly lobbying reports of grassroots lobbying, coalition lobbying and phone calls or in-person meetings with lawmakers, including the substance of those meetings.

* Lawmakers will have to sign a statement indicating that lobbyists are not paying for privately funded travel and pay the cost of charter airfare rather than just first class airfare when flying aboard private jets.

* A total gift ban and a $50,000 fine for violating the ban.

* Executive branch officials, lawmakers, and staff must wait two years instead of one year to lobby. And, they will be prohibited from contacting former colleagues in this time frame, as well as supervising a lobbying shop.

* Former lawmakers and staffers will be banned from contacting the entire Congress rather than just the former office in which they worked and, in their disclosure forms, they will have to indicate all former executive or legislative branch employment rather than just where they've worked in the past two years.

Zell Miller takes the high road.

I assume we are all aware that Zell Miller announced Wednesday that he plans to send a check for $112,956 plus interest to the state of Georgia to resolve any question concerning his having taken certain funds from the state treasury when he was governor when his second term expired.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that House Democratic Minority Leader DuBose Porter had the following comments concerning Miller:

"He went crazy when he endorsed Ralph Reed, but I do not think Zell Miller ever has done anything inappropriate with any state funds."

These are my feelings exactly. I have known the man a longtime, and it would be my thoughts that had there been any question on an issue in the Miller's mind, he would have resolved it against himself.

Also I have read Miller's full response, and this confirms my feelings. In his response, he notes at the beginning:

"A generation ago, in 1969, Georgia’s attorney general was Arthur K. Bolton of Griffin. A World War II hero, he was known for his integrity, bluntness and political independence.

"That year he issued a ruling about the 'annual appropriation for the Executive Mansion,' which had been established four years earlier in 1965 and needed to be clarified. As usual, his words were clear and unambiguous. He opined that expenses 'are part of such official’s gross income.' He went on to point that to the extent they were not used for official business, they were 'taxable.'

"We strictly lived by that ruling. We lived by it because it was the law. None of the four governors before me (Maddox, Carter, Busbee, Harris) left a single penny for the governor after them. Only Barnes did that in 2002."

As attorneys, when we get an Attorney General's opinion with which we do not agree, we always say that's just another man's opinion. But I admit to having always paid a lot of deference to such an opinion when it was signed by Arthur Bolton.

That being said, and the matter having come up, it needs to be clarified by legislation or otherwise.

In the meanwhile, and regardless of whether we agree with Miller's politics as of late, he has taken the high road, and undone something that it appears he clearly had the right to do.

Clinton and Other Democratic Leaders Urge Youth to Get Involved.

The Washington Post reports:

Some of the biggest names in Democratic politics convened yesterday to focus on what they believe is the long-term remedy to their party's woes: cultivating a new generation of activists.

Former president Bill Clinton and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) were the headliners among a host of operatives, writers and artists who gathered at the Washington Convention Center for a day-long series of speeches and panel discussions designed to energize about 600 visiting students.

"You don't have to wait until your party is in power to have an impact on life at home and around the world," Clinton told a hushed crowd, urging them to embrace grass-roots organizing. "This ain't supposed to be easy, and you have to work at it. I promise you our adversaries work at it."

The suspicion that the right is working harder at it, in fact, is what led the liberal Center for American Progress to organize the event. David Halperin, a former speechwriter in the Clinton White House and the conference's coordinator, estimated that conservative groups spend more than $35 million a year on such efforts. By contrast, he said, the left has invested comparatively little effort or money in cultivating the next generation of activists and would-be leaders.

In general, colleges have long been liberal bastions, with Democratic presidential candidates routinely winning the student vote and with polls indicating that professors are on average further to the left in their views than most voters. Last year, exit polls showed that Democratic nominee John F. Kerry defeated President Bush among voters between ages 18 and 29 by more than 10 percentage points -- the only age group the Massachusetts senator won.

But this traditional advantage has not been supplemented by long-term efforts to promote an ideological movement.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Shipp: Inaction seems to be an effective strategy for the governor.

In a 12-29-05 post I posted Bill Shipp's wish list for 2005, the last one being:

"Gov. Sonny Perdue will prove his critics wrong. He will do something."

That post followed a 11-11-05 post entitled "More "Them thar's are fighting words." -- Shipp accused of having an open invitation for breakfast at the Governor's Mansion" that quoted a Political Insider column saying:

"[Bill] Shipp is the governor's least favorite political writer."

With that background, today Bill Shipp writes as follows:

The first campaign-disclosure report suggests every non-crank candidate will have enough funds for a campaign.

Besides, the lesson of former Gov. Roy Barnes' campaign lingers. Barnes spent nearly $20 million on his failed re-election campaign in 2002. Winner Perdue expended less than $3 million.

Perdue didn't have to campaign much. He let Barnes do it for him. With sweeping initiatives, Barnes engaged every major issue facing Georgians.

In doing so, he created hordes of enemies. Perdue has avoided the Barnes mistake.

When editorial writers refer to Perdue as the "do-nothing governor," our chief executive privately smiles - and yawns.

You won't catch Sonny proposing a Northern Arc to relieve traffic. Or trying to weed out incompetent teachers from the education system. Or demanding more spending on prison overcrowding. Or calling for tougher standards for law-enforcement officers.

As Barnes found out, seemingly little things translate into a lot of opposition.

That doesn't mean Sonny has not taken care of business - big business. Even there, he was careful not to step on too many toes. He let legislators do the heavy lifting on pushing through the last General Assembly session the complete agenda of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the giant insurance lobby. Perdue mostly spoke in generalities.

When the governor appeared on the verge of showing leadership on several items and heard hostile fire, he ducked out of sight. He abandoned his own tax program, his first choice as House speaker, his anointed candidate for election to the Supreme Court, a University System in disarray, a prison system in serious trouble and a series of urban crises too complex to describe here.

He let education reform slide, sidestepped tough environmental issues and failed to follow through on important (but sticky) economic development projects.

Do not misinterpret the above as knocks on Perdue. Our compliments to the shrewd candidate. He practices safe politics. How will his opponents run against an incumbent who has done so little to run against?
He has created few targets to attack.

(The Athens Banner-Herald.)

Monday, July 11, 2005

Sunny days ahead for GOP as population shifts south.

The Washington Times reports:

Migration from liberal bastions in the Northeast and Midwest to the Sun Belt states will boost Republican electoral strength in the coming decade, making it tougher than ever for Democrats to win the presidency without carrying states in the South or Southwest.

Heavily Democratic states such as New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Michigan will go on losing congressional seats and thus electoral strength in presidential elections, political analysts say. At the same time, they say, Republican states such as Florida, Texas, Arizona, Georgia and Nevada likely will gain congressional and electoral clout.

"The net beneficiary of this will continue to be the Republican Party because the population shift is moving into an environment that is heavily dominated by the Republicans," says Merle Black, a professor of politics and government at Emory University and author of books on political shifts in the South.

"In the 2002 and 2004 exit polls, we saw for the first time a majority of Southern white voters identifying themselves as Republicans and Democratic identification falling to a low 20 [percent] to 25 percent," Mr. Black says.

This doesn't mean that Democrats cannot win, but population shifts give the GOP "a long-term structural advantage," he says, "and assuming they nominate credible candidates, they start with a strong base."

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Vernon Jones: Frequent critic Dick Williams: "He's the most fascinating politician around." - "There's something to being a little controversial."

Last summer I often ran into DeKalb CEO Vernon Jones. If you didn't instantly take a liking to the guy, it was something wrong with your personality rather than his outgoing and vibrant one.

Scott Henry has an excellent, balanced cover story on CEO Jones entitled "Tyrannosaurus Jones, Magnetic leader or monster: Will the real Vernon please stand up?" in Creative Loafing.

I remain a Jones' fan.

Funding race for governor in full swing.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:

Perdue on Friday reported having raised $7.6 million for next year's re-election campaign, with $6.6 million left in his bank account a year out from the primaries.

Cox reported taking in $2.1 million and having $1.9 million in the bank, good numbers considering that she didn't truly crank up her fund-raising machine until after the legislative session that ended in March.

Taylor raised $1.48 million since the beginning of the year. He has taken in $3.3 million since the middle of last year, and reported having almost $3 million on hand on June 30.

Cox was helped by polls showing her neck and neck with Perdue and well ahead of Taylor, who has spent the past year building support among black voters and the Democratic Party establishment.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Wow! Hold the Ladder Steady. Cathy Cox raises $2.1 million in about 14 weeks.

I have been saying all eyes are on June 30 with regard to being able to see if Cathy Cox could raise the big bucks. This is a big number.

Without the presence of civility in the national debate, our polarized country won't be able to tackle its current problems.

Below is a 1-29-05 post entitled "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."

In corresponding with the author of the Washington Post, he reported he got more feedback and compliments on the column than he had had in a long while. But things have only gotten worse with regard to the subject of the post.

The reason I am reposting the column is because of the article by Tom Baxter that appeared in yesterday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution about this topic that names Howard Dean as contributing to the problem.

The earlier post:

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].

Ill will on the hill. Civility stretched thin in Congress. Rep. Scott points to Howard Dean for making inflammatory remarks.

The title of this post is from an article that Tom Baxter authored in the Thursday issue of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. To give you a feel for the article, it begins: "The atmosphere in Washington has been poisonous for a long time, but this year the trash-talking seems to have reached a new peak."

The article notes that Rep. David Scott is a member of a recently formed Center Aisle Caucus that consists of more than 40 Republican and Democratic House members who want to bring a more positive tone to a Congress grown testy with the lingering memory of the last election's attack ads and the echoes of partisan chatter on cable TV and talk radio.

The article also notes

Scott singled out White House adviser Karl Rove, Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean and Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) for adding to a rhetorical flame war he says has grown "off the charts."

Rove slammed liberals in a recent speech to a conservative group, saying they only want "to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers." Dean has described Republicans as "evil" and "brain-dead."

Durbin in the Senate compared U.S. treatment of detainees at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Cuba, to the Nazis and Pol Pot, though unlike Rove or Dean, he later retracted and apologized for his comments.

The Center Aisle Caucus also has a pragmatic aim: to distance it members from a feared public backlash against the negativity on the Potomac.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce woos Congressional Black Caucus.

The Hill reports:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has quietly begun a campaign to court members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), an all-Democratic and largely liberal group that in the past has found little common ground with business interests.

The move comes at a time when many major legislative initiatives pass by the slimmest of margins, if at all. Under such conditions, even a few votes gleaned from the ranks of the CBC could deliver a victory for the Chamber’s pro-business agenda.

The Chamber’s effort follows closely on the heels of Wal-Mart’s enterprising courtship of the CBC, in which the retail giant has been seeking to drive a wedge between labor unions and their longtime allies in Congress. Wal-Mart has highlighted its role as the largest employer of African-Americans.

It was unclear whether the Chamber’s efforts would extend as far as donating to CBC members’ campaigns, as Wal-Mart has done.

Study finds increase in Georgians born to immigrants.

The Associated Press reports:

Nearly a fifth of all babies born in Georgia are the children of immigrant mothers, according to a study by a group that supports stronger immigration control.

And of those births, 43 percent of the mothers were illegal immigrants, meaning 8 percent of the state's births are to illegal immigrants, the study, which was released Thursday, said.

Gwinnett County had one of the largest increases - going from 9.3 percent in 1990 to 41 percent in 2002.

And the number of births by illegal immigrants makes enforcement of immigration laws harder . . . . Since those children are automatically U.S. citizens, they can stay permanently and could be a factor in keeping their parents from being deported.

Hispanic and immigrant advocates criticized the study as a partisan attack on immigrants and a veiled criticism of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees birthright citizenship.

Nationally, the study found that in 2002, 23 percent of all American births were to immigrant mothers, both legal and illegal. Of those children, 45 percent were born to Mexican mothers.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The 24th Annual Public Service Award Dinner sponsored by GADCC is coming up. Have you got your tickets? A good time will be had by one and all.

Last year I attended my first Georgia Association of Democratic County Chairs (GADCC) Dinner. It will not be my last.

I look forward to this year's on August 20 in Macon, and if you and your County Committee have not ordered tickets and ads that help support the GADCC's crucial missions, take a minute and do it now.

This year's Richard B. Russell Public Service Award recipient is Attorney General Thurbert Baker. How appropriate and timely.

If you missed last year's gala affair, you missed the following one-liners from the evening:

Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond (attired in a white dinner jacket): "It's been a thrill getting to see so many of my friends and acquaintances tonight. And it's been fun meeting some of you I haven't met before, including that guy who looked me right in the eye and said 'Hey waiter, how about bringing me another drink.'"

State Chairman Bobby Kahn was quick to pick up on Commissioner Thurmond's waiter remark and have some good fun with the good Commissioner by saying: "Commissioner, if you need to leave early tonight, we'll understand. We know you've got to get that rented tux back to Wal-Mart."

And Secretary of State Cathy Cox, the recipient of the 2004 Richard B. Russell Award -- in addition to rallying the troops with a powerful stump speech -- noted that Michael Thurmond had endeared himself to her a couple of years ago when he said, "I'm talking about 'the' Cathy Cox, you know, the pretty one."

This annual GADCC fund-raiser provides for the organization's various missions, one of which is assisting active Democratic County Committee reach out and organize those in other counties with inactive or weak committees.

I know about this particular part of GADCC's mission because GADCC is presently assisting Coffee County help some of our neighboring counties reorganize in preparation for 2006 and 2008. What we are attempting to do is assist these other counties who either do not have an county committee or need help to strengthen one.

This is in keeping with GADCC's purpose of building a grassroot network of county parties.

There will be a State Committee meeting earlier in the day, and a reception at 5:00 and dinner at 6:00.

I understand that last year there were some 600 in attendance, and just think how great it would be to have this one be the best ever as was the case with the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in March. The room holds 900.

I look forward to seeing you on August 20 in Macon.

Sen. Chambliss Says WTO Case Won't End U.S. Cotton Aid.

The New York Times reports:

The United States will not abandon aid for its cotton farmers, despite the outlawing of an export subsidy by the World Trade Organization, [Sen. Saxby Chambliss] the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee said on Wednesday.

The WTO agreed with Brazil this year that U.S. subsidies violated trade rules. To comply with the ruling, the Bush administration this week proposed termination of the so-called Step 2 subsidy and long-term export credit guarantees. [Step 2 gives exporters and millers an incentive to buy higher-priced U.S. cotton.]

Senate Agriculture Chairman Saxby Chambliss said in a statement, ``the issue was with how -- never that we could not -- provide support for our farmers.''

Thanks Saxby. Our farmers need all the help we can give them.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

High stakes poker. - CAFTA Reflects Democrats' Shift From Trade Bills.

The Washington Post reports:

Twelve years ago, amid heated rhetoric over job losses and heavy union pressure, the House passed the North American Free Trade Agreement with 102 Democratic votes. This month, as President Bush pushes the far less economically significant Central American Free Trade Agreement, he will be lucky to get more than 10.

A long, slow erosion of Democratic support for trade legislation in the House is turning into a rout, as Democrats who have never voted against trade deals vow to turn their backs on CAFTA.

A trade deal that passed the Senate last Thursday, 54 to 45, with 10 Democratic votes, could very well fail in the House this month.

But the Democrats' near-unanimous stand against CAFTA carries long-term risks for a party leadership struggling to regain the appearance of a moderate governing force, some Democrats acknowledge. A swing toward isolationism could reinforce voters' suspicions that the party is beholden to organized labor and is anti-business, while jeopardizing campaign contributions, especially from Wall Street.

During the 1990s, party leaders used pro-trade positions to show moderate voters and business interests they are willing to stand up to their labor union backers and govern from the center . . . .

Perdue to report more than $7 million for campaign.

Dick Pettys of the Associated Press reports:

Last time he ran for governor, Sonny Perdue was considered a long shot and was outspent 6-1 but still managed to knock off a sitting governor.

He achieved the feat on a shoestring campaign and despite a barrage of television ads for his opponent fueled by Barnes' huge war chest. Final figures showed Barnes spent about $20 million on the campaign to Perdue's $3.6 million.

Now the incumbent, he won't have the same money problems when he seeks re-election next year.

His political team will disclose on Friday that it has raised just over $7 million for the 2006 race, with 16 months left before the general election to raise more.

Pinning 'Liberal' On The Donkey. - The Dean shares his early assessment of where things stand on the governor's race.

Pinning 'liberal' on candidate can spell political doom

By Bill Shipp
Athens Banner-Herald

The liberal always loses. That is a firm rule of Georgia politics. A couple of rare exceptions exist from long ago. In today's political climate, however, labeling an adversary a liberal and making it stick offer a surefire formula for statewide victory.

With the L-rule in mind, let's take a look at the just-cranking-up Democratic primary for governor. Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, who has been holding the donkey fort against the GOP for the past three years, will now turn his guns on his Democratic adversary, Secretary of State Cathy Cox.

For the first time in his political career, Taylor might even get help from Republicans. Both the GOP and Taylor's Democrats will try their darnedest to pin "liberal" on Cox.

Whether she can avoid the moniker (some might say "epithet") is yet to be determined. In this baseline assessment of the 2006 Democratic contest, Cox seems to have momentum. Taylor must slow her down to win his party's nomination.

Canny Republicans see her as potentially their most dangerous adversary. They'd like to polish her off in the Democratic primary. A couple of high-ranking Republicans even attempted to recruit her as a GOP candidate for lieutenant governor. That courtship occurred before the celebrated Ralph Reed made known his ambition for lieutenant governor.

Cox is expected to lay claim to a hefty war chest in the first major campaign-reporting period. As expected, the Bainbridge-based candidate has made inroads into Taylor's South Georgia voter base. Astonishingly, she also is cutting into Gov. Sonny Perdue's money horde.

Some typically major Republican backers are already hedging their bets with contributions to Cox. Some diehard conservatives are irate at Perdue's appointment to the state Supreme Court of a relatively inexperienced black attorney with a Democratic voting record. They have quietly switched to Cox and brought along their checkbooks.

To be sure, Cox's first financial disclosure report, expected to be released this week, also will show contributions from women's rights organizations as well as gay and lesbian groups. Reports have surfaced that EMILY's List, a national network of pro-choice Democratic women, will have major say-so in Cox's campaign. Cox's campaign crew vehemently denies such influence.

In this first measurable test of money strength for the 2006 elections, Cox's strategists are determined to prove their candidate can equal or even out-do the always well-heeled Taylor organization.

At this long-distance view of next year's election, Cox appears a good fit as Georgia's first woman governor - if she can avoid the dreaded L-sticker.

While most of the early attention may be focused on Cox, don't count out Taylor. He has repeatedly fought the liberal label and prevailed. He also has strong support in the black community - the most vital component of victory in any statewide Democratic primary.

He has paid his dues among blacks and other Democrats as well. He tried to help Gov. Zell Miller change the state flag in the mid-1990s. He has fought efforts to weaken funding for education and health care for the indigent.

Taylor has withstood the humiliation of being stripped of his powers by Republicans and fought back.

He has become an effective Democratic attack dog, snarling publicly at the Republican leadership at every opportunity.

Because of his advocacy of education improvement and better health care, an outside observer is tempted to suggest Taylor is likely to trip over the L-word - except that in Georgia, our second-rate school system and lagging health-care network are mainstream, bread-and-butter topics. With one possible exception, every governor since the 1960s has run on a strong education-improvement platform.

Ironically, the classic symptoms of fiscal liberalism - adopting record-high budgets and breathtaking public indebtedness, constructing more layers of government and proposing additional taxes - have infected the first Republican-controlled state government.

An aura of governmental secrecy and a no-dissent-allowed legislative leadership haven't exactly burnished the elephants' image.

President Bush's Peach State popularity is slipping, and renegade Zell Miller's "decency" rage against fellow Democrats is beginning to wear thin.

Still, Republicans may continue to hold the winning hand. They appear to have a long-term lock on the majority white vote, especially in the densely populated suburbs and growing exurbs where conservative church leaders generate voter enthusiasm for even mediocre candidates who promise to make war against all liberals.

Straw poll results from Georgia's mayors and city commissoners.

The Atlanta Jounal-Constitution's Political Insider had shared some unofficial polling data from last week's GMA meeting. According to yesterday's column:

The Georgia Municipal Association met in Savannah last week. Before they gathered, Georgia's 1,330 mayors and city council members were asked to participate in a straw poll. About 250 did so.

When asked to predict the winner of the 2006 governor's race, participants broke down as follows: Sonny Perdue, 40 percent; Cathy Cox, 37 percent; Mark Taylor, 15 percent; don't know, 8 percent.

Asked the same question about the race for lieutenant governor, they said: Don't know, 55 percent; Casey Cagle, 21 percent; Ralph Reed, 14 percent; Jim Martin, 5 percent; Gregg Hecht, 3 percent; other, 2 percent.

OK, OK, I will repost the "I'm a lawyer too. I'm with the firm of Carter, Kahn & Cooter" joke once again.

Last night's posting of the phrase Carter, Kahn & Cooter caused one of my faithful readers to implore me to once again post my joke about Carter, Kahn & Cooter. It didn't take much imploring (I love the joke).

I posted my joke in a 9-20-04 post entitled "I'm a lawyer too. I'm with the firm of Carter, Kahn & Cooter -- Zell's at it again (as in, a response always begets a response)."

It reads in part:

So this guy walks into a bar and sees this comely, smartly dressed woman perched on a bar stool. Naturally, he approaches her and says, "Hey there gorgeous, how are you."

Already having a couple of power drinks under her belt she turns around, looks him right in the eye and says, "Look Mac, I'll screw anybody, any time, any where, my place, your place, front door, back door, it doesn't matter. I've been doing it since I got out of college. I just flat out love it."

Eyes now wide with interest he says "No kidding! I'm a lawyer too. What firm are you with?"

This is a political blog, not one to circulate such as "So this guy walks into a bar." But when I wake up at 6:00 in the morning and read about Zell's "Board of Deacons for Democratic Disaster," well, I just couldn't help it.

Rather than getting all upset and ranting and raving, all I could do when I thought about a law firm being named Carter, Kahn & Cooter was laugh so hard that it made my belly ache.

Carter, Kahn & Cooter. I love it. I assume soon it will be opening branch offices in Un-Holywood and Taxachusetts.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

With June 30 reports due soon, I can't help but think about Shirley Franklin and our governor's race.

With June 30 reports on campaign contributions due out soon, all eyes will be on the receipts of Cathy Cox. Can she or can she not raise the big money. An early indication that she could came with the announcement that she has Anne Cox Chambers in her corner. This was big, real big.

Such talk leads me to wonder what is on the minds of a lot of other folks who have nothing better to do than sit around wondering such. What will Shirley Franklin do and when will she do it. She is going to be a big player in the Democratic race for governor.

And thinking about Mayor Franklin made me think that maybe repeating part of any earlier post might be helpful so we can keep all of the actors straight. The earlier post was a 12-09-05 post entitled "Earlier we read about the firm 'Carter, Kahn & Cooter.' Today we highlight "Taylor, Kahn & DiSantis" that helps one figure out various relationships.

The part of such earlier post follows:

While new as a State Committee Member, I am not new to the state Party organization and its players. For those who are, just as I got a kick out of reading about the law firm Zell named "Carter, Kahn & Cooter" (O.K., really Zell called it "a Board of Deacons for Democratic Disaster if ever I've seen one"), I enjoyed reading in ajc's PI today what I think could have been titled:

"Everything you always wanted to know about the intricacies of the relationships in the firm Taylor, Kahn & DiSantis, but were afraid to ask."

Thanks Baxter & Galloway, we needed that.

The PI article:

Now you know what people at political conventions do: They marry each other

Bear with us here. World-wide conspiracies are always a bit complicated.

Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor on Wednesday announced the hiring of a new chief of staff to replace the departing Chris Carpenter.

Taylor's new No. 2 is Natalie DiSantis, a local attorney and campaign veteran. Her husband is Jeff DiSantis, the executive director of the state Democratic party. His mother is Linda DiSantis, top legal advisor to Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin.

Ah, you say. Through a single family, the Big Guy has successfully tied together all the Democratic elements he needs to secure the '06 nomination for governor.

But wait. The DiSantis tentacles are much broader than any mere gubernatorial race. Linda DiSantis' sister is married to the older brother of Chris Riggall, spokesman and strategist for Secretary of State Cathy Cox — Taylor's chief rival for the nomination. Another family member with DiSantis connections runs Cox's branch office in Tifton.

Suddenly, the Da Vinci Code looks like small potatoes.

Panhandling isn't about race; it's about the right to be left alone. - R. Giuliani did it in N.Y.; now Atlanta must if its downtown is to prosper.

The Augusta Chronicle had a good editorial in today's paper entitled "Getting a handle on it":

In New York, aggressive panhandling by the "squeegee men" in the 1980s and '90s led to a crackdown - and to fewer visitors being accosted.

In Atlanta in 2005, such a crackdown on panhandling is being assailed as racist - even though it's been touted by a black mayor and council member.

Cynthia Tucker, an African-American columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, says that's nonsense. And she writes of a recent run-in with a panhandler - a white one.

This isn't about race; it's about one of America's most cherished, and most endangered, rights: the right to be left alone. Panhandlers have no constitutional right, as we see it, to put the arm on downtown pedestrians or motorists. Even so, some cities have designated panhandling zones to allow it.

Regardless of how, big-city downtowns, especially those in the warm South and those that rely heavily on tourism, need to get a handle on panhandlers. Panhandlers disrupt business, discourage tourists and drag down a city's quality of life. Like Tucker - and like Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin - we simply see no problem with restricting or even outlawing panhandling on downtown streets.

Moreover, those who want panhandlers left alone are doing them no favor whatsoever. Anyone experienced in homeless issues can tell you that enabling people to live on the streets does them more harm than good.

Better to get the homeless into shelters, drug rehabilitation programs, mental health centers and, in the best of cases, jobs. Cracking down on homeless panhandlers helps everyone - no one more than the homeless.

Indeed, Atlanta is getting set to open the 24/7 Gateway Center, a homeless service center south of the downtown business district.

It can, and will, be done humanely. But it has to be done.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

As if fire ants and kudzu weren't bad enough, now we have a new pest.

One biologist compares the persistent green weed to ''The Blob,'' the title character in the 1950s sci-fi classic flick that grows and grows and consumes everything in its path. Other scientists describe the plant as looking like little heads of lettuce or squished green grapes. Then they use terms like noxious, invasive and just plain scary. Even the species name sounds sinister: salvinia molesta.

No one has anything good to say about what's more commonly known as giant salvinia, a Brazilian tropical floating fern that's found a home in slow-moving streams and freshwater ponds and lakes from the Carolinas to California, and even in Hawaii.

A federal survey shows infestations in several states with mild winters, including Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida, plus along the lower Colorado River on the California-Arizona state line.

The plant can double in size in eight to 10 days, and grow into feet-thick mats of floating vegetation, blotting out all light beneath it and effectively killing anything trying to live there. It also can clog irrigation and electric generation intakes.

Each leaf is about the size of a quarter, and the plant trails a long brown root that looks like silk from an ear of corn.

(The New York Times.)

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Bush is safe in saying Tuesday this is one war, against one enemy, making Iraq simply a continuation of the hunt for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.

At the beginning of his speech Tuesday night Bush said:

“The troops here and across the world are fighting a global war on terror,” he said. “The war reached our shores on September the 11th, 2001.”

An article in the current issue of Newsweek puts the foregoing into this context:

In other words: forget about the Downing Street memos and Colin Powell’s now discredited speech at the United Nations. This is one war, against one enemy, making Iraq simply a continuation of the hunt for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. Or, as Bush put it, “Iraq is the latest battlefield in this war.” He might as well have stood in front of a picture of the Twin Towers.

It’s easy to see why this approach is so attractive to the White House. The president’s response to 9/11 remains a potent memory in public opinion. So potent that it still drives the only positive numbers in the president’s performance ratings. Bush has disapproval ratings of more than 50 percent on the economy, energy and health care, according to the latest Gallup poll. On Iraq, 58 percent disapprove of his handling of the war. But on terrorism, the president has maintained the support of the people: 55 percent approve of his performance.

Georgia's high court reverses invalidation of McIntosh vote.

This is an election challenge you probably did not even know was going on, but one you will join me in rejoicing in the ultimate outcome.

The Georgia Supreme Court has reversed a lower court that had invalidated McIntosh County Sheriff Charles "Chunk" Jones' 36-vote election win over challenger Stephen Jessup.

Sheriff Jones is black, and this victory in the courts represents an important win for the Democrats in McIntosh County.

First Congressional District Chair Danita Knowles has been in constant contact with Sheriff Jones, and had assured him we would do anything in the world we could, including bringing in help from the remainder of the 1st Congressional District, to help him prevail yet a second time in the event a new election had been ordered by the Georgia Supreme Court.

Congratulations are in order to Sheriff Jones and his Savannah counsel Bart Turner.

(The Times-Union.)

The good news continues for Middle and South Georgia with respect to BRAC. -- Moody in Valdosta.

The Valdosta Daily Times reports:

The Base Realignment and Closure Commission’s recommendations concerning Moody Air Force Base leave open the possibility the base might play host to the Navy.

What is unclear is whether Moody would become a joint Air Force-Navy base or whether it would be strictly Navy . . . .

What works in Moody’s favor — and puts it in the list of possibilities as a Navy facility — is that it’s considered a great base internally . . . . . It has no encroachment issues, and it’s close to the Navy’s deployment and training areas near the coast.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Skidaway Island Democrats Alive and Well.

Tom Oxnard is Chairman of the Skidaway Island Democrats. Tom and I communicate from time to time, and I am on his e-mail list for group meetings. From time to time Tom has invited me to join his group for one of its meetings, but our schedules never seemed to coincide.

When I got notice of a meeting his group was having this past Wednesday, conflicts did not matter. I could not resist a trip to Skidaway Island.

As a program Tom had a distinguished panel of three prominent area attorneys to discuss the current state of the federal judiciary, congressional action in this regard, and related issues.

The panel consisted first of longtime trial attorney and Savannah civic leader Walter Hartdridge of the firm Bouhan, Williams & Levy; Armstrong State Professor Becky da Cruz who teaches law and criminal justice; and one many party regulars no doubt know, practicing Savannah attorney Joe Steffen (Joe is a Vice Chairman of the Chatham County Democratic Committee, also teaches a couple of law courses at Armstrong State) .

If you didn't know it before, we learned that "liberal activist judges" are judges with whom the Republicans do not agree, and that much of Rep. DeLay's complaining and manipulations involving the judiciary is not about partisan politics; it is about control of judges.

This, thrown in with a little of Karl Rove, Inc.'s attempts to control the role of judges, is causing America to face the prospect of what Thomas Jefferson warned against, the "tyranny of the majority."

The topics were obviously timely, and the presentations truly professional and fantastic. And if the panel thought it was through when the last speaker finished, it was mistaken. The group asked questions until Tom had to cut them off because it was getting late.

What a show! What an evening! I didn't pull in into my driveway until 12:00 or so, but I would not have passed up the evening with such a good group of Democrats for anything.

And I also appreciate 1st Congressional District Chair Danita Knowles accompanying me to Skidaway and back. Danita is always good company.

Our justification for staying in Iraq now is that we went there to begin with.

Excerpts from:

Message to GOP
Bush's speech signaled the party faithful that he's not wavering on Iraq--and that congressional Republicans must come to terms with his plans before next year's elections.

By Howard Fineman

The American people have concluded that we were sold a bill of goods on the original rationale for the war: The weapons of mass destruction Saddam Hussein was about to loose on the world. Turns out, he didn’t have any. Now we need to “complete the mission” there because Iraq will be a failed state if we don’t.

On the surface, this is an easy argument to make fun of. If Iraq risks becoming a failed state, critics say, it’s because we blew it to smithereens in the process of removing Saddam & Co. Our justification for staying now is that we went there to begin with.

But, as I read the polls, voters are willing to accept the notion that we have no choice but to plow ahead—that, indeed, we can’t afford to fail in Iraq.

And what alternative are the Democrats really proposing? What would they have us do? Even the Germans don’t want us to leave Iraq, though they won’t pay much to help us stay. Does anyone think that announcing a timetable for withdrawal really is a good idea?

So grim may sell. But the president needs to be careful. In a war fought for and in the name of freedom, he doesn’t want to mimic, however inadvertently and superficially, the theatrical style of the tyrant we went to war to dethrone.

As he rallied his own corps, he seemed to imply that anyone who questioned the course he had set was exhibiting traitorous weakness.

We have to remake the Middle East, not turn into it.

Roll Call sort of summarizes what was said by President Bush Tuesday night.

Roll Calls summarizes it as follows:

President Bush should have just said it on Tuesday night: “American troops will be in Iraq for years to come. We will draw down as Iraqi forces build up, but we cannot leave until Iraq is secure, and that day is still far away.”