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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.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Don't do it Clinton, Obama & Edwards; don't sign the Four State Pledge Letter 2008. (UPDATED SATURDAY & AGAIN SUNDAY)

Regardless of the merits, regardless of who is right or wrong, don't make a mistake and sign the Four State Pledge Letter 2008 as Richardson has done and Biden has indicated he would do. I predict there will be no upside, and much downside, to doing so.

From TIME:

Having failed thus far to corral Florida and Michigan behind the Feb. 5 "window," Democratic officials from Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina are putting new pressure on the candidates themselves to bring "this uncertainty (and potential chaos) to an end" by refusing to campaign in those states.


TIME reports that John Edwards on Saturday joined Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson and Joe Biden in saying he plans to skip states that break party rules by holding early primaries, that is, a primary before February 5.

I think this mess is something that the party and maybe the courts are going to have to work out, and it is not fair to expect and pressure the candidates to participate in resolving. This is an easier decision for candidates who lack the resources to campaign in the bigger states.

For Edwards the timing is unfortunate. He was just beginning to get more traction and favorable media coverage. As I noted yesterday, I don't see the upside and there is at least the possibility of much downside from voters in Florida and Michigan.


According to The Washington Post, Clinton and Obama joined Edwards in signing the pledge on Saturday.

Va. Sen. John Warner says he won’t run for reelection; I think former Va. Gov. Mark Warner will be the top potential Democratic candidate.

In a March 21, 2005 post I wrote about the Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner and reviewed the remarks by Gov. Warner who was the keynote speaker. He delivered one powerful message. The part of the post on his remarks follows:

Gov. Warner noted that when he ran for governor of Virginia in 2001, Virginia had not voted Democratic since 1964, and had not had a Democrat governor elected in 10 years.

Warner said the reasons he ran, in addition to cleaning up the mess the Republicans had made in Richmond just as they have made a mess in Atlanta, were to:

• Show it is OK to like country music and be a Democrat;

• Show it is OK to own a gun and be a Democrat; and

• Show it is OK to be a NASCAR fan and be a Democrat.

Warner stressed that we must reject the approach of writing off the South. To return to power, Democrats must be competitive in every state.

Gov. Warner said he believes strongly that to capture the White House:

(1) Democrats must appeal to moderate Republicans and rural America; and

(2) Democrats must be fiscally responsible, and become the party known for being fiscally conservative. For him, being fiscally conservative means someone who pays his bills and meets his commitments.

In connection with being fiscally conservative, Gov. Warner noted that ours is going to be the first generation ever to leave our children worse off than we were, and this is just wrong.

He says that the Republican administration under Bush has told America that it can wage war and cut taxes for the affluent at the same time.

To retake the White House, Warner says Democrats must reach out to folks who have not voted Democratic in years.

He noted that moderate Republicans are an endangered species.

Moderate Republicans don't like:

• The debt that Bush has given us in lieu of the surplus former President Clinton left;

• The mean streak that the GOP is identified with in persons such as Ralph Reed and Rep. Tom DeLay; and

• A party commited to winning at any cost, as typified by Senator Chambliss's attack against former Sen. Max Cleland.

Gov. Warner noted that in days gone by, folks who are now moderate Republicans would have been conservative Democrats. Our challenge is to get these moderate Republicans to vote Democratic.

And we must win back rural America.

The Governor noted that Democrats have been misrepresented on:

• Accepting values and personal responsibilities;

• Having respect for the Second Amendment; and

• Having a litmus test for abortion and guns.

As a party we must do more than just be against things. We must be for things! Things we must be for include:

• A party that is for a strong military and presence in the world.

• A party that is for an aggressive and engaged foreign policy and enlists the cooperation of our allies. (On this point, the Governor noted that in the last presidential we lost a great opportunity in not asking Americans to be willing to be willing to experience some personal sacrifice versus willing to go into debt and still reduce taxes.)

• A party that honors and rewards work.

• A party that is an advocate for innovation.

• A party that is recognized for racial reconciliation across the United States with black, Hispanics and other minorities.

• A party that is for reforming things.

• A party that wants to balance the budget and meet its responsibilities.

• A party that continues to remember the role that faith and religion and values play in our lives.

Gov. Warner concluded by saying he was encouraged at the present, not discouraged. If it can and did happen in Virginia, we can do it in Georgia and other southern states.And more than anything, he noted in closing, the challenge we face is the challenge to once again lead; stand up and lead.

Needless to say, the crowd in unison stood up, and as one who was there and did that, I can tell you, we are ready, ready to stand up and lead. Bring 2006 on Bubba Perdue; bring it on Ralph Reed; bring it on Philistines; bring it on. We are ready, willing and able -- and cannot wait -- to once again lead.

Police Release Audio Of Senator Craig's Arrest

The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Police has released an audio and transcript of the eight-minute interview, which was conducted immediately after Craig's arrest on June 11. The story is in The Washington Post, and the tape is at the following link:

The Sen. Craig tape.

The arrest report involving Sen. Craig can be found at the following link:

The Sen. Craig arrest report.

Sen. Craig's plea petition can be found at the following link:

Sen. Craig's plea petition.

And finally, so everything is in one post, the "I'm not gay" press conference:

Sen. Craig's press conference.

According to Newsweek:

Rumors about the sexuality of Sen. Larry Craig date back many years, and at least one blog claimed months ago that the senator had sex with other men in public restrooms. But mainstream media didn’t touch the story until Craig was arrested during a police sting operation targeting public sex.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Edwards On Track in Iowa

From TIME:

A new TIME poll of likely Iowa caucus goers . . . gives Edwards 29% of the vote, five points ahead of Hillary Clinton and seven ahead of Barack Obama.

With the field limited to the top four candidates, Edwards's lead over Clinton widens, to 32% to 24%. Obama was at 22%, with Bill Richardson at 13%.

For Edwards, the poll has some less welcome news as well. So far, at least, his attempts to portray himself as the real change agent in the race — the one who wants to slam the door on lobbyists and other "Washington insiders" — isn't paying off. . . . Iowa Democrats seem to like Edwards more for who he is than for what he says; they call him the "most likable" and the one who best understands their concerns, but his toss-out-the-insiders message hasn't stuck.

A 7-17-07 post entitled "Populist John Edwards needs to recall Bill Clinton's emphasis on 'the forgotten middle class'" reads:

[After the 1992 campaign when] Bill Clinton directed much of his attention to what he termed "the forgotten middle class," the party has largely avoided making explicit political appeals to the poor.

Middle-class voters may care about poverty, but they list education, health care and the economy as their most important priorities.

And in 7-3-07 post I wrote:

My present concern with Edwards is that he is running too much as a populist. Although whatever he is doing seems to be working in Iowa (as noted in the preceding post of today), I don't think this strategy will end up carrying the day.

Also, maybe it is part of the role of running as a populist, but I do not get motivated seeing Edwards working himself into a lather at the most recent presidential debates, whether it is expressing outrage at the current Administration or those in his own party (although this did appeal to many in the audience at the YearlyKos debate).

Time will tell whether Edwards's 2004 positive message approach or his 2007 anger approach will carry the day. I do recall that the former approach and not running as a populist did serve him well in the 2004 elections when he almost won in Iowa.

A Polarizing Bush Despite a New Cast

From The New York Times:

Mr. Bush, by temperament, governing style and political design, is a polarizing president like no other, pollsters say. And no reshuffling of administration staff members or an incremental wave of good news is likely to change that.

Experts have noted that American politics has in general grown far more partisan recently, a trend bound to be reflected in attitudes toward a president.

But it is hard to ignore the effect of Mr. Bush’s political and policy decisions, which have often seemed tailored for his conservative base and, by definition, for galvanizing Democratic opposition.

Mr. Bush heads into a month expected to be dominated by debate over a war unpopular with independents and Democrats, a debate that could harden attitudes and partisan divisions on his presidency. Even with the departure of Mr. Gonzales, Mr. Rove and, before them, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, a fresh start seems very hard.

Crackdown on Illegal Immigrants to Begin Tuesday

From The Washington Post:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO this week separately assailed a new White House-backed crackdown on illegal immigration, warning of massive disruptions to the economy and headaches for U.S. citizens if the proposal goes ahead as planned in the coming days.

The Bush administration intends to begin writing to 140,000 employers on Tuesday regarding suspect Social Security numbers used by an estimated 8.7 million workers, as a way of pressuring them to fire illegal immigrants. President Bush disclosed the plan three weeks ago as part of a repackaged, 26-point enforcement program after Congress failed to overhaul U.S. immigration laws this summer.

Under the new rules, set to take effect on Sept. 14, employers that receive "no-match" letters have 90 days to resolve discrepancies. If they do not, the DHS may conclude that employers knowingly violated the law by employing illegal workers, opening the door to fines and even criminal arrests.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

GOP Sen. Larry Craig (Idaho): "Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive!” -- Part II

From TIME by Ana Marie Cox:

Personally, I think there's little doubt as to what Craig was doing in that public restroom. And my own emotional reaction to closeted gay Republicans is primarily that of pity. They've chosen to align themselves with a party largely made up of those who refuse to fully acknowledge their humanity and dignity. Hell, they refuse to acknowledge it themselves. What's more, living a lie tends to suffocate and pervert one's notions of right and wrong --- leading to the kind of behavior that is the story's true scandal: Craig's attempt to use his position to weasel out of any charges at all. Homosexuality isn't a crime -- and some have said that cruising restrooms shouldn't be either -- but using elected office as a get-out-of-jail free card is, in fact, "disgusting."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Democratic 10th District contender Bobby Saxon announces his candidacy. Not bad. Then again, neither were Marlow's opening shots.

The title to this post comes from a post by James at Drifting Through The Grift. It conveys my feelings exactly.

I am mightily in need of getting my batteries recharged with respect to the 10th Congressional District, as I recall James Marlow getting 11,010 votes to Rep. Broun's 11,208, and then Broun going on to win.

Saxon's announcement is at this link.

The resignation of Gonzales leaves the Bush administration with only one figure – Cheney – more polarizing than Bush himself.

From The Wall Street Journal Online in an article entitled "One Less Lightning Rod For Bush Administration:"

And then there was Cheney. The resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales leaves the Bush administration with only one figure -- Vice President Dick Cheney -- more polarizing than President Bush himself, and suggests his last 17 months could be the rockiest yet.

White House and Justice officials tell the New York Times it was Mr. Gonzales's initiative, but other Republicans close to the administration say he was eased out.

GOP Sen. Larry Craig (Idaho): "Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive!”

From The Washington Post:

Sen. Larry E. Craig pleaded guilty earlier this month to misdemeanor disorderly-conduct charges stemming from his June arrest by an undercover police officer in a men's restroom at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport . . . .

In 2006, a gay activist said he had spoken with men who had sexual encounters with Craig, including in the restrooms at Union Station. Craig's office told the Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Wash., that the allegations were "completely ridiculous."

The activist, Mike Rogers, who runs the Web site BlogActive.com, has complained about Craig's opposition to gay rights. The conservative senator has supported an amendment to the Constitution banning same-sex marriage and voted for the Defense of Marriage Act in the 1990s. Craig, who served in the National Guard, has also spoken out against homosexuals serving in the military.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bill Shipp: Vernon Jones damages the Democratic Party's electoral prospects.

Bill Shipp writes:

DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones . . . has turned himself into a prime example of the type of Democratic politician Georgia voters can't stand, and who damages the party's electoral prospects with each successive exposé of his activities. His personal life makes [House Speaker Glenn] Richardson's look almost monastic by comparison, with sensational allegations of rape having been levied at Jones by a woman he tried to lure into a group sex encounter. Jones has used taxpayer dollars to surround himself with an extravagant security detail more fitting for Bush or Cheney and is reportedly funding his Senate campaign by blatantly twisting the arms of financial interests with business before his county government.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Clinton's Democratic Rivals Denounce Terrorism Remark

From The Washington Post:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton drew outrage from her opponents for the Democratic presidential nomination on Friday after saying that a terrorist attack in the United States would give Republicans an edge in the 2008 race.

At a small gathering in New Hampshire on Thursday, Clinton raised the possibility of another terrorist strike, saying she would be the best Democrat to confront the Republicans in the wake of such an event. Her comments drew fire from not only her rivals but also the liberal blogosphere, with her detractors accusing her of seeking to use terrorism as a political weapon, just as Republicans have in earlier elections.

Clinton said, "It's a horrible prospect to ask yourself, 'What if? What if?' "

"But if certain things happen between now and the election, particularly with respect to terrorism, that will automatically give the Republicans an advantage again, no matter how badly they have mishandled it, no matter how much more dangerous they have made the world," she said. "So I think I'm the best of the Democrats to deal with that, as well."

Yet Clinton appeared to open herself to charges of hypocrisy over how to talk about terrorism in political campaigns. She herself had warned in the past about Republican attempts to use the threat of terrorism as a cudgel against Democrats. . . . Several Democratic contenders -- ever-vigilant in responding to Clinton -- leveled the same charge at her Friday after hearing her comments.

Click this link if you want to listen to her comments.

Rep. Jim Marshall responds to Rick Goddard's irresponsible statement.

Rep. Jim Marshall has responded to Rick Goddard's statement -- the subject of an 8-24-07 post -- saying: "Our current congressman was not there. He was overseas during the debate, and I think that’s wrong." As noted in the post, Marshall was in Afghanistan embedded with American special forces.

Rep. Marshall's response was in the form of an e-mail that is found in Travis Fain's Lucid Idiocy. It reads:

It's amazing what some people will say or do to get elected. In his political attack, General Goddard said I was absent for "the debate" on the Farm Bill because I was traveling "overseas" and failing to do my "duty."

First of all, the General obviously doesn't know how things get done in Congress. Before I left for my long scheduled "overseas," trip the Farm Bill debate was over in the Ag Committee - the bill was drafted and noses counted. And I knew I'd be back in time to help move the Farm Bill through the full House.

But the General's "overseas" and "duty" references are arguably unbecoming. He knows I was embedded with a Special Forces A team in a remote base along the Pakistan border. But he just calls that being "overseas." And if he doesn't think that's my "duty" as a Member of the Armed Services Committee, the General's not ready to represent Georgia in Congress. This isn't San Francisco.

I wrote a five-part series about my trip to Afghanistan. And I hope the Moultrie Observer will print it. That will let people know why it was my "duty" to make that "overseas" trip.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Global warming doesn't exist, at least in Georgia, according to Georgia Republican legislators like Rep. Jeff Lewis (R-Cartersville).

From an e-mail sent to me on 8-22-07:

"If you're a farmer in South Georgia, and you're watching your crops shrivel up before your eyes and your watering ponds evaporate, I don't think you've got a lot of nice things to say about Georgia Republican 'science,'" said Rep. DuBose Porter (D-Dublin). "There's no question about 'fact or fiction,' this is the reality for Georgia, even if Jeff Lewis and the other Georgia Republicans on this committee refuse to admit it."

See also AJC article.

Sen. Isakson: (1) We have an immigration problem bec. the country looked the other way for 21 years on the issue; & (2) 5 things need to do now.

From the Douglas County Sentinel:

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) said Thursday [at a Douglas County Chamber of Commerce meeting that] we have an immigration problem because “the country looked the other way for 21 years on the immigration issue.”

He said $16 billion needs to be spent to secure the Mexican border, using five key components, including:

• an additional 5,000 trained border guards, to bring the total up to 20,000;

• 30,000 detention cells to hold illegal immigrants to stop the “catch and release” system;

• four armored aerial vehicles;

• 721 miles of double walls in highly-concentrated population centers;

• and a secure ID system that prevents forgery.

“Once these things are done, we can modernize the immigration system,” Isakson said. “You can never do it if your policy is to look the other way.”

Goddard, just at the starting line of a campaign, is already getting close to losing his credibility.

In an 8-13-07 post entitled "Let's not get carried away General Goddard" I did some light humor concerning the credibility of Rick Goddard, noting:

Retired Major General Rick Goddard's campaign to oust Democrat Jim Marshall in the 8th Congressional District has barely begun and the man has already lost his credibility.

This past Saturday in Perry Goddard introduced Sonny Perdue as “the greatest governor Georgia’s ever had.” (InsiderAdvantage Georgia)

But I now have a real problem with the candidate's credibility. Hopefully Goddard will soon learn that once you lose your credibility in the public arena, it is very difficult to regain. He will lose his credibility with such irresponsible statements as revealed in the following post from Lucid Idiocy by Travis Fain of the Macon Telegraph:

Goddard comes out swining

This is from yesterday's Moultrie Observer.

Rick Goddard, the retired Air Force general looking to take out U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall in the 8th District, gave his opinions on a variety of issues for the article. But the top of the article focuses on the farm bill and on Marshall being absent for a recent debate on a key domestic bill coming before Congress when they go back into session.

The relevant quote:

“What’s important is we ought to have people in Congress on duty during the discussion making sure that that farm bill represents the interests of Middle Georgia. Our current congressman (Marshall) was not there. He was overseas during the debate, and I think that’s wrong."

I'd encourage you to read the whole article, because it will give you a feel for Goddard's basic positions. But I don't think Marshall's camp is too happy with the inference that he was AWOL while important business was being discussed.

Particularly since Marshall was in Afghanistan embedded with American special forces at the time.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

“If he reaches out, we’re not going to slap his hand back. I hope we’ll all be mature in the process and do what’s best for Georgia.”

A 7-26-07 post was entitled "This is a hell of a way to conduct the State of Georgia's business -- Funding feud squeezes agencies."

Today we learn from InsiderAdvantage Georgia:

It’s hardly Camp David and it’s probably too early to suggest that it will produce a peace accord, but the governor has asked the Legislature’s budget negotiators to a meeting in his office this afternoon that key lawmakers say they are hopeful will produce an improved working arrangement for next year.

Gov. Sonny Perdue called the meeting, and most - if not all - of the six-member legislative conference committee will be present in person or, in the case of House Majority Leader Jerry Keen, by telephone.

“I hope it’s the governor reaching out,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Ben Harbin, R-Evans. “If he reaches out, we’re not going to slap his hand back. I hope we’ll all be mature in the process and do what’s best for Georgia.”

Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson, R-Savannah, called it “a good sign.”

He explained: “We’re going to have a good deal of quality time with the governor and his staff to discuss the status of redirects and what his thinking is now - not to spend much time looking backward but to see how we can work together better and avoid miscommunications and unnecessary squabbling.”

Do I detect a trend? Wouldn't it be great says an entire, baffled generation . . .

An 8-8-07 AJC Political Insider post noted:

Last night, Julius Stroud of Monroe County, a military retiree, spoke for an entire, baffled generation.

He asked his county commission — think Forsyth, Ga., down I-75 way — for a prohibition on young men who can’t keep their pants pulled up. Stroud wants an amendment to the county’s indecent exposure law, according to today’s Macon Telegraph.

“When I see these young men with their pants down on their hips or lower with their boxer shorts showing, or sometimes the tops of their butts, I tell them to pull them up,” he said. “Most of them do. I’ve done it enough, they see me coming, they pull them up. But some don’t. They just look at you.”

Stroud didn’t say anything about punishment, but I’m thinking suspendered sentences.

Today the AJC under an article with the headline "Proposal would ban underwear-exposing pants" reports:

Exposed boxer shorts and thongs would be illegal in any public place in Atlanta if the City Council approves a proposed amendment to the city's indecency laws.

The proposed ordinance states that "the indecent exposure of his or her undergarments" would be unlawful in a public place.

Debbie Seagraves, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, . . . said any legislation that creates a dress code would not survive a court challenge. She said there's no way the law could be enforced in a nondiscriminatory way. She said it targets a cultural phenomenon that came out of the black youth culture.

"This is a racial profiling bill that promotes and establishes a framework for an additional type of racial profiling," Seagraves said.

Several cities have considered banning saggy pants but only one is known to have adopted a measure, Seagraves said. Delcambre, La., is the only city she knows of that passed such an ordinance. It carries a fine of up to $500 or six months in jail for exposing underwear in public, according to a description of it in Martin's proposed ordinance.

Rule to Expand Mountaintop Coal Mining

From The New York Times:

The Bush administration is set to issue a regulation on Friday that would enshrine the coal mining practice of mountaintop removal. The technique involves blasting off the tops of mountains and dumping the rubble into valleys and streams.

“This is a parting gift to the coal industry from this administration,” said Joe Lovett, executive director of the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment in Lewisburg, W.Va. “What is at stake is the future of Appalachia. This is an attempt to make legal what has long been illegal.”

The rule, which would apply to waste from both types of mines, is known as the stream buffer zone rule. First adopted in 1983, it forbids virtually all mining within 100 feet of a river or stream.

The Clinton administration began moving in 1998 to tighten enforcement of the stream rule, but the clock ran out before it could enact new regulations. The Bush administration has been much friendlier to mining interests, which have been reliable contributors to the Republican Party, and has worked on the new rule change since 2001.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pres. of local NAACP questions credibility of Vick's co-defendants & says plea not an admission of guilt but cutting losses -- My goodness no. 2 . . .

An 8-03-07 post was entitled: "First the Atlanta branch of the NAACP held a rally; now the SCLC is making plans to honor Vick -- My goodness . . ."

Today the AJC reports that the President of the Atlanta branch of the NAACP questions the credibility of Vick's co-defendants and said an admission of guilt may be more about cutting losses than the truth.

"At this point, you're not looking at guilt or innocence," NAACP Chapter President R.L. White said, referring to the possible harsher sentence Vick could have received had he taken his case to trial and been found guilty.

White says he regrets that the plea deal will mean all of the facts of the case may never be known. And of by the way, Vick should be allowed to return to football after he serves his sentence for his role in a dogfighting operation, preferably with the Atlanta Falcons.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Rep. Marshall: We need to insist that our representatives quit moving farther & farther towards the political fringes & come back towards the center.

I visited Blog for Democracy today and I saw that my friend Rep. Jim Marshall is getting kicked around a bit. I thought it would be a good time to revisit a 6-5-05 post from the Cracker Squire Archives:

Speaking to the Rotary Club Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall said that domestic issues like Medicaid and the deficit should be top priority for Congress, not partisan politics.Marshall, a decorated Vietnam veteran, law professor and former mayor of Macon, will take the place of longtime Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop in representing Tifton if new redistricting maps are approved.

In no uncertain terms, Marshall expressed his “pessimism” towards the prospect of Congress doing anything productive about vital domestic programs and mounting deficits and trade imbalances, and said that congressional politicians need to quit politicizing judicial nominees.

“Enough is enough,” Marshall said. “Americans need to come out and insist that their representatives quit moving farther and farther towards the political fringes and come back towards the center to get these vital domestic issues solved.”

Marshall said that over the last 20 years the political landscape of the country has moved from one with the majority of the country living in areas where a Republican or Democrat could be elected to a growing population of stubborn voters who vote for one party consistently every term.

A conservative Democrat, Marshall criticized the Bush Administration for “playing politics” with judicial nominees, saying that they shouldn’t cringe at negative results from Congress if they are intent on choosing such “controversial” candidates for the job.

Marshall also said that he had voted down three Republican budgets and three Democratic budgets while searching for one that achieved a “truly fiscal conservative” position. He says he doesn’t advocate raising taxes, but does stress smart spending by government.

When asked about the growing illegal immigrant problem in the country, Marshall spoke bluntly about his role in the issue.“Frankly, I can tell you that this congressman isn’t going to do anything about the immigration issue,” Marshall said. “Right now there are committees on the hill that are looking at that and focusing on that very issue. I’m just not going to get involved with it.”

Eunice Mixon, a longtime local Democrat, historian and educator, praised Marshall as one of the “old line” of Georgia Democrats.“He’s of the Sam Nunn and George Busbee variety,” Mixon said. “He’s a good conservative Democrat.”

Marshall graduated from high school in 1966 and headed to Princeton University where he went two years before dropping out to enlist in the Army. A decorated Army Ranger, Marshall was wounded in Vietnam before returning to the U.S. to get his law degree at Boston University.

Marshall eventually settled in Macon, where he taught law at Mercer University and was later elected mayor of the city. He is currently in his third term as the Congressional representative of the 3rd district.

(6-2-05, The Tifton Gazette.)

Macon Telegraph reporter Travis Fain continues his extended reporting on Lucid Idiocy -- Georgia's Motor Fuel Tax.

Earlier this week Travis Fain had a post on Lucid Idiocy entitled "Gas taxes and falling bridges" that provided in part:

I find that The Rome News-Tribune has some strong editorial writing. This one, advocating an increase in gasoline taxes to help upgrade decaying bridge infrastructure in light of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis, is no exception.

This paragraph struck me:

GEORGIA HAS stuck with its 7.5-cent a gallon tax so long it’s now the lowest in the nation, while its “escalator clause” on gas — the sales tax — doesn’t go to highways but rather to whatever sandcastles the legislators want to build. And, all the while, the Georgia Department of Transportation can do little other than announce that billions of dollars in improvements or new work has been delayed or even cancelled for lack of funds.

It's a little more complicated than just comparing the 7.5-cents-a-gallon tax to other states, as seen here, as well as here.

But it's obvious that we're low. The question is: "Why?" And I don't know the answer.

I wrote a comment to Travis's post which he made into the following post on Lucid Idiocy entitled "From one with more context than I:"

This is from the comments section on the gas tax post below. It comes from Sid Cottingham, aka Cracker Squire, who describes himself as a "traditional southern Democrat."

From my limited dealings with him, I'd call him a south Georgia gentleman.

If anyone has a rational counter point from the other side (be they traditional southern Republicans or otherwise) I'll be happy to promote that from the comments section, too. Thanks, Sid. [Thank you Travis.]

No one can give you a rational explanation about why our state’s motor fuel tax has long been on the untouchable list.

In the nineties then-Gov. Zell Miller began a move toward tax relief by persuading the legislature to remove the sales tax on groceries. The legislation exempting the sale of groceries from sales taxes was phased in over several years, and was complete in 1998.

Thereafter Gov. Roy Barnes came along in 1999, and in the same spirit of tax relief for the masses, lowered property taxes and made it more difficult for local governments and school districts to raise them.

Throughout these and earlier administrations, even though we have needed to improve and go forward with ambitious transportation improvement plans, an increase in our state’s motor fuel tax -- one of the lowest motor fuel taxes in the nation and much of any increase which would be borne by non-Georgians -- has been on the untouchable list.

But even though Barnes lowered property taxes during his first and only term, I have reason to believe that this logical tax increase would have become a reality had Gov. Barnes been elected to a second term. Maybe not real early in his term with the economy down and gas prices on the rise, but during his term nonetheless.

But we know that he did not get reelected, and thus this logical tax increase did not come about.

With Democrat Gov. Miller having lowered sales taxes by exempting groceries, Democrat Gov. Barnes having lowered property taxes, what in the world would Republican Perdue do in the way of proposing his own tax reductions.

As we remember, rather than continuing to please the masses, Gov. Perdue temporarily suffered amnesia and forgot them that brung him to the Gold Dome. Rather than cutting, his first major proposal involved raising taxes. And it wasn’t just going to be to get King Roy back by raising the property taxes that Barnes had cut.

The new governor also wanted to increase revenue for the state by reducing the consumption of taxable evil products. (Say what Gov.? Easy, says he; I propose increasing taxes on cigarettes and liquor as a way to help balance the state budget and, at the same time, dissuade Georgians from buying alcohol and tobacco.)

We recall that a compromise in Perdue’s proposed tax increase ultimately did prevail.

But with Barnes not having been reelected and since then not having someone in the governor's mansion that would bite the bullet and get down what needed to be done, the chance of getting an increase in our state’s motor fuel tax has indeed been put off until another day.

As noted above, thank you for the kind words Travis. And for those of you who are not following Travis's blog Lucid Idiocy, you are missing much.

Let's hear it for the Marine Corps Logistics Base (MCLB) in Albany, Georgia.

From The Albany Herald:

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss visited the military base nearest his Moultrie home Monday, seeing first-hand the Albany maintenance center where Marine Corps protective vehicles are made and upgraded.

Chambliss remarked that during five visits to Iraq, he has been continually approached by Marines who convey their appreciation for the equipment made in Albany that protects them from improvised explosive devices.

“I don’t go into theater without some Marine coming up to me and letting me know that when I get to Georgia, to be sure and tell the folks at MCLB how much they appreciate them and how many lives they’ve saved,” he said.

MCA [Maintenance Center Albany] makes and installs the mine roller devices that roll in front of MTVRs [Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacements] to detonate IEDs before the armored Marine Corps vehicles drive over them.

Fiddling while Rome burns, planning bass fishing tournaments while Grady is turning into salt . . .

James Salzer writes in the AJC:

On a sunny afternoon in early July, Gov. Sonny Perdue's staff was preparing for a news conference scheduled for the next morning. The governor's topic: a proposed bass fishing tournament on Lake Lanier.

At the same time, one floor above Perdue's Capitol office, House Speaker Glenn Richardson was meeting with reporters to discuss the brewing crisis at Grady Hospital. Richardson declared that the state needed to step in to keep the public hospital open, becoming the first high-ranking state official to get publicly involved in Grady's problems.

The contrast between a governor whose big proposal during the 2007 legislative session was a fishing tourism program called "Go Fish" and a speaker vowing to save a vital public hospital was not lost on some lawmakers who have complained about a lack of leadership from Perdue's office.

Rep. Jeanette Jamieson (D-Toccoa), who served as a floor leader for Gov. Zell Miller during the 1990s, said it's unusual for a speaker to take the lead on so many issues.

"This speaker is well-intended, but as any other speaker would tell you, the first thing you do is look after the House and the second thing is limit the number of issues you're associated with," she said. "He can't cure the entire world.

"The question becomes, what's wrong on the second floor?" she said, referring to the governor's office. "My question would be, since he [Perdue] won his second term, what is his administrative package for his second term?"

Matt Towery, a former Republican lawmaker who runs the Internet media and polling firm InsiderAdvantage, said . . . :

"Generally, the governor sets the agenda, and that didn't happen this session," he said. "[Richardson] is trying to fill a vacuum."

Don't hold your breath: Supporters of deported illegal immigrant advocate for families to seek Congressional bill authorizing her return.

From The New York Times:

Elvira Arellano, 32, had defied a federal deportation order by spending much of the past year in a Chicago church seeking to raise awareness of how deportations can separate families.

On Sunday, after she spoke at Our Lady Queen of Angels, a Roman Catholic church in downtown Los Angeles, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents stopped her car a few blocks away and arrested her.

Jim Hayes, the immigration agency’s Los Angeles field office director, said Ms. Arellano’s arrest was not a “message to the sanctuary movement as much as it is a message to criminal illegal aliens who are fugitives, that we are going to continue to target them.”

Mr. Hayes said Ms. Arellano had been deported once before, after entering the country illegally in 1997. She re-entered and was convicted in 2002 of a felony, using a false Social Security card, which she used to acquire a job cleaning airplanes at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.

A federal judge ordered Mr. Arellano deported last August and, instead of surrendering to immigration agents, she sought safe harbor at Adalberto United Methodist Church in Chicago, where she denounced immigration raids that separate families with both citizens and illegal immigrants as members.

[I]mmigration agents generally do not make arrests on religious property.

[Her supporters said they would seek] a Congressional bill authorizing her return.

New Rules May Limit Health Care Program Aiding Children

From The New York Times:

The Bush administration, continuing its fight to stop states from expanding the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program, has adopted new standards that would make it much more difficult for New York, California and others to extend coverage to children in middle-income families.

Administration officials outlined the new standards in a letter sent to state health officials on Friday evening, in the middle of a monthlong Congressional recess. In interviews, they said the changes were intended to return the Children’s Health Insurance Program to its original focus on low-income children and to make sure the program did not become a substitute for private health coverage.

The poverty level for a family of four is set by the federal government at $20,650 in annual income. Many states have received federal permission to cover children with family incomes exceeding twice the poverty level — $41,300 for a family of four. In New York, which covers children up to 250 percent of the poverty level, the Legislature has passed a bill that would raise the limit to 400 percent— $82,600 for a family of four — but the change is subject to federal approval.

See also The Washington Post.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

GOP strategist Karl Rove won't let up in his attacks on Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton, but the intriguing question is why.

From TIME:

Master GOP strategist Karl Rove won't let up in his attacks on Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton, but the intriguing question is why.

Is it a sign that Rove, who masterminded Bush's two presidential victories, is worried about Clinton? Or a calculation that the GOP attacks will get Democrats to rally to her side because the GOP would prefer not to take on Democrats John Edwards or Barack Obama?

Asked why he was helping Clinton by saying she would headline the ticket, Rove said: "Didn't know that I was. Don't think that I am."

Then he harshly criticized Clinton, saying more people have an unfavorable than favorable opinion of the New York senator and former first lady.

"She enters the general election campaign with the highest negatives of any candidate in the history of the Gallup poll," Rove said.

Rove might be revisiting his 2004 play book. Bush's re-election team aimed its harshest comments at Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the eventual nominee, because it wanted Bush to take on Kerry rather than Edwards, then a senator from North Carolina.

At a Democratic debate in Iowa on Sunday, Clinton responded to Rove's criticism.

"I don't think Karl Rove is going to endorse me, but I find it interesting that he's obsessed with me," she said.

With Fulton Co. in favor of Grady restructuring & Vernon Jones opposed, I assume it is fair to ask that DeKalb Co. guarantee the $100 million loan.

From the AJC:

The head of the Grady hospital board on Saturday said she will propose a $125 million plan to stabilize the financially teetering hospital, which would include obtaining $100 million in loans to stave off closing the facility.

Pam Stephenson said she will submit the plan to the 10-member Grady board at its meeting Tuesday, and that she expects the board will approve it.

The key part of the plan is obtaining a $100 million line of credit. Stephenson said that within the last 10 days, two lending institutions have said they would lend the hospital the money — with a condition. Those institutions want either Fulton or DeKalb to stand behind those loans, she said.

Nunn: (1) On White House bid: "It's a possibility, not a probability;" (2) The only certainty is that he won't be anybody's candidate for V.P.

Jim Galloway writes in the AJC:

[Since] Sam Nunn left the U.S. Senate more than 10 years ago, [he] . . . has watched what's happened to the country, and he's more than a bit ticked — at the "fiasco" in Iraq, a federal budget spinning out of control, the lack of an honest energy policy, and a presidential contest that, he says, seems designed to thwart serious discussion of the looming crises.

"My own thinking is, it may be a time for the country to say, 'Timeout. The two-party system has served us well, historically, but it's not serving us now.'"

Nunn said he's not likely to make up his mind [about a White House bid] until next year, probably after the early rush of presidential primaries have produced de facto nominees for both parties. He said the decision will depend largely on what he hears from the current candidates.

Political debate has been captured by the extreme wings of both parties, he said, ignoring solutions that can only be found in the middle.

"I do not see tough calls willing to be made by the body politic," he said.

Nunn singled out the debate over energy and global warming. Those most concerned with global warming won't consider nuclear energy as an alternative, he said. Those who advocate energy independence ignore the fact that there is "no analysis whatsoever that could lead you to believe we're going to be independent in this country on energy," Nunn said. "We'll have interdependence and security in energy, but people aren't talking about that."

But if Nunn does decide to enter the race, Iraq, terrorism and the increasingly strained state of the U.S. military will also have their place as major motivations.

Though he has said little publicly, his frustration over Iraq . . . can barely be contained. "A fiasco, which we've basically mishandled in all directions. We'll get over it, because we're a strong country, and we're indispensable in the sense that we're the [world] leader. But right now, it's going to take at least 10 years to rebuild U.S. credibility."

Nor has the Bush administration been able to create the necessary climate to make it easy for the world's Muslim population to isolate jihadist terrorists, Nunn said.

"We're in a race between cooperation and catastrophe. And to get cooperation you have to have a vision, and you have to listen. And we're not perceived as having a vision in this country, and we're not perceived as listening."

The question is whether the American center — or what's left of it — shares his frustration.

From the Rome News-Tribune:

THIS NEWSPAPER hereby endorses Sam Nunn for president of the United States, thus probably becoming the first daily in the nation to commit to anybody.

NOTED FOR HIS bipartisan approach, as well has his expertise in military/defense matters, he has constantly been speculated upon as a secretary of defense, secretary of state, vice presidential candidate and even presidential contender.

[I]t is apparently his irritation at the current Washington atmosphere of partisanship, rather than cooperative efforts to make the nation better, that have fueled his new, tentative interest.

That is an irritation this newspaper shares. Partisan government, no matter which party governs, has become noted for being all talk and no action — or claimed action with no results or follow-through.

Realistically, while Nunn would annihilate any opponent in a formal debate what is still more likely to catch the public eye in a presidential bid is a Ross Perot with pointer and quips. A candidate like Nunn would be a PBS-style personality in a Fox News era, a Shakespearean actor trying to gain applause from an audience of Paris Hiltons.

Obama: Enough with the Debates! -- Obama has already attended seven Democratic debates, along with 19 candidate forums.

From TIME:

In a posting on the campaign's website, Obama's campaign manager David Plouffe said that the eight additional debates to which his candidate has already agreed are sufficient, and that Obama wants to spend time talking to voters, rather than preparing for and participating in debates. "Unfortunately, we simply cannot run the kind of campaign we want and need to, engaging with voters in the early states and February 5, if our schedule is dictated by dozens of forums and debates," Plouffe said in his statement.

Like all the leading campaigns, Obama's team has felt some frustration at having their schedules tied up by the debates and forums already held. They have had to share the stage in those events with six or seven other candidates, allowing the candidates only a limited period to make an impression.

Of the remaining 2007 debates in which Obama will participate, five are so-called sanctioned events, endorsed by the Democratic National Committee on behalf of the candidates, in an attempt to limit the total number.

The situation for the Republican candidates is much different. They have fewer interest groups who demand that their candidates attend their debates, compared to the environmental, seniors, and African-American groups that Democrats risk alienating by turning them down. The Republican National Committee is not playing the sanctioning role that the DNC has taken on. And there are fewer mutually agreed-to debates for the remainder of the 2007 calendar.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

After Loss of Majority, Several Republicans Head for Exits -- “Democrats will win the White House, hold their majority in the House & in the Senate."

From The New York Times:

A rash of retirements among House Republicans is adding to the party’s electoral challenges and raising questions about a rush for the exits.

Four House Republicans — Representatives J. Dennis Hastert and Ray LaHood, both of Illinois; Deborah Pryce of Ohio; and Charles W. Pickering Jr. of Mississippi — have all announced in recent days that they will not seek re-election next year, worrying Republican leaders anxious to hold back a potential wave of retirements after the loss of their majority in 2006. Mr. Hastert, the former speaker, Mr. LaHood and Ms. Pryce were all well-liked leaders within their party.

“I think our party’s chances for winning the majority back next time are pretty bleak at the moment,” Mr. LaHood said in an interview, “and I will admit to you that being in the minority is less fun.”

“People are going to continue to have heartburn over the war,” he said. “Democrats will win the White House, hold their majority in the House and in the Senate in 2008, and then in 2010 we will have an extraordinary opportunity in the off-year of a Democratic presidency and Congressional majorities to possibly win it back. But it is not going to happen the next time,” in 2008.

White House to Offer Iraq Plan of Gradual Cuts

From The New York Times:

The White House plans to use a report next month assessing progress in Iraq to outline a plan for gradual troop reductions beginning next year that would fall far short of the drawdown demanded by Congressional opponents of the war, according to administration and military officials.

One administration official made it clear that the goal of the planned announcement was to counter public pressure for a more rapid reduction and to try to win support for a plan that could keep American involvement in Iraq on “a sustainable footing” at least through the end of the Bush presidency.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Richardson’s operation expands in Edwards’s vacuum

From The Hill:

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson’s (D) presidential campaign announced that it is expanding its Nevada campaign operation the same day reports came out that former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) is moving some of his staff from there to other early-voting states.

Edwards’s move prompted a warning from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that candidates who ignore the Western state’s caucus “do so at their own peril.”

The End of Local Government

Tom Crawford writes:

[Georgia House Speaker Glenn Richardson]’s proposed constitutional amendment would terminate the property tax in every county and . . . [a]state sales tax of four percent and a state income tax of four percent would generate revenues to replace the funds formerly raised through property taxes. The Legislature would decide when it adopts the state budget how much of that money would be sent to each county and city, with local governments promised at least the amount of revenues they raised during 2006 from property taxes.

Richardson’s proposal would shift all the power to make taxing and spending decisions to the Capitol - more specifically, to the five or six leaders of the Legislature’s majority party who really decide what goes into the budget. Today, that group is made up of conservative white Republicans. Ten years from now, it could be liberal black Democrats. But that handful of lawmakers will decide how much money local governments receive.

It’s no surprise that Richardson’s idea does not sit well with the organizations that represent local governments, the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) and the Association of County Commissioners (ACCG). “The very idea of the legislature deciding local needs and sending money back is ludicrous,” said Jerry Griffin of ACCG. “To think that all the wisdom lies in Atlanta is a fallacy. At the end of the day, six people are going to decide who gets what.”

Richardson and his buddies complain about how burdensome property taxes are, but the legislature has cut about $1.5 billion in state funding for public education from the past four state budgets - which has forced school boards around the state to raise property taxes to make up for the lost funds. The speaker is like the arsonist who sets a building on fire, then complains when the fire department doesn’t show up on time to put it out.

Richardson’s proposal also contradicts a favorite talking point of conservatives, who for years have told us that governments should be as small and as close to the people as possible. And yet, the speaker wants to create a big pot of money in Atlanta controlled by five or six political insiders who wouldn’t be accountable to the voters in most of the communities that would depend on that money. That’s about as far from the people as you could get.

In the end, Georgians will have to decide if they want their own county commissioner or city councilman to decide how much their local government will spend and what for, or if they prefer that a small group of power brokers in Atlanta who are not accountable to them make those decisions.

And Mr. Crawford could have added their own local member of the board of education to county commissioner and city councilman with respect to deciding how much and for what tax dollars are spent.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The King

Elvis and other recruits wait to be processed at an induction station in Memphis. (From TIME)

Richardson's Fine Line on Immigration

From TIME:

In a midwestern state where immigration is hot-button issue, Richardson is walking a fine line, trying to attract support from the state's small but growing Hispanic population while convincing Iowans leery of illegal aliens that he will not throw open U.S. borders to Mexico.

Fulton County Commission backs change for the financially strapped Grady.

From the AJC:

The Fulton County Commission on Wednesday threw its support behind a plan to switch management of the financially strapped Grady Health System to a private nonprofit corporation.

By a 4-2 vote, the commission supported a resolution introduced by Commissioner Robb Pitts that supports a recommendation by a task force of the Metropolitan Atlanta Chamber of Commerce that the hospital system's day-to-day operations be turned over to a private, nonprofit corporation.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Mel and Jenna make my day with a post entitled "Cheney warns of quagmire in Iraq, circa 1994"

Today Mel and Jenna at the Blog for Democracy share something with us that I knew had to be out there somewhere and would surface in time. It is an interview with private citizen Dick Cheney after the Gulf War in which he explains why Bush I did not go on to Baghdad and take Suddam out after American troops and U.S. led forces liberated Kuwait. I predict we will see more of such.

You don't want to miss this. Click on YouTube now.

It is very similar to a lecture I heard Mr. Cheney make that is the subject the following 10-4-04 post:

I have tried unsuccessfully to get what I am fixing to relate to Sen. Edwards' campaign prior to tonight's Vice Presidential debate. It concerns something Dick Cheney said while he was a private citizen on the lecture circuit about halfway between his service to Bush I as Secretary of Defense and becoming part of the Bush II team as Vice President.

What I heard I feel certain was said over and over as Mr. Cheney was on the lecture circuit across the country. Some of the same thoughts are in Bush I's book, but dern if you hear anything about it from the Kerry camp.

The lecture was at the Florida Theater in Jacksonville, Florida, as part of something called the Florida Forum Series. This series seeks to bring some of the world's most widely known public figures to Jacksonville, Florida, with the series benefiting Wolfson Children's Hospital.

The last lecture I attended there was in September 2002, and the lecturer was Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a fascinating evening program and presentation wise.

Anyway, when Cheney was in Jacksonville in the mid-90's, he had no reason to fabricate, exaggerate, etc. Bush I had been retired, and Bush II was still just a cowboy.

After a fascinating lecture, a person in the audience asked the following question: Mr. Secretary, after American troops and U.S. led forces liberated Kuwait, why did we stop at Iraq's southern border; why didn't we go on to Baghdad and take Suddam out.

I remember the respond as if it were this morning, someone having asked a question about which so many Americans such as myself had wondered.

Two reasons citizen Cheney said: First, the history of this region of the world and our own intelligence convinced us that as bad as Suddam was, his not being there would probably be worse. Without question the whole area could be rendered less stable, and just as surely civil war between the Shiites, Sunni and the Kurds would erupt, with more fighting and bloodshed than the liberation of Kuwait had involved.

And second and equally important reason he stated, was that the coalition was not with us; it strongly opposed and would not support going on to Baghdad. And just as was the case with the decision to retake Kuwait, having the coalition was deemed imperative.

But shift the clock forward several years, and Bob Woodward in his book Plan of Attack tells us that Cheney, unlike Powell, could not wait to get back to Iraq.

Thus if I were asking the questions tonight, I would ask the Veep how were things different in 1992 and 2002. If there were not WMD's and a link with bin Laden, had history changed; was having the coalition no longer important?

In a 9-23-04 post I provided another theory of mine as to why we went in, something I don't really think is true for reasons other than I just don't want it to be true (and even though I still feel I and the rest of America have blood on our hands). That post provided:

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

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

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

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

Chambliss on citizenship by birthright

Sen. Saxby Chambliss' comments as reported by The Moultrie Observer:

As far as stemming the tide of citizenship by birthright, there isn’t much hope for momentum even now, he said, because some lawmakers believe they can gain politically from the current legal interpretation of the 14th Amendment.

“They line up in Arizona. Right on the border, there are ambulances sitting over there ready to run pregnant mothers across the border to have their children. That part of the system is very much abused. We tried to pass that in the House when I was over there years ago, and we never could get two-thirds of the House to for it,” he said.

No other country in the world allows such, he said. Where there had been such an ease of gaining citizenship, the laws eventually changed, he said, noting that in Hall County now, half the births in that county are to undocumented parents.

“There’s a feeling that we’re a country founded by immigrants, and it’s one thing that has made up strong. Which is true. My point always is that’s right, but these folks came in here illegally,” he said.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Clinton unveils the first television ad of her presidential campaign

TIME reports that Sen. Clinton has unveiled the first television ad of her presidential campaign. According to TIME, the ad is aimed at softening Clinton's image. While polls have shown her running strongly, her negatives remain high and the spot is designed to introduce her to voters.

I think the 60-second spot is effective and well done.

(1) Ouch and (2) a response begets a response: Edwards' campaign blasts Giuliani for ‘exploiting’ 9/11

From The Hill:

The campaign of Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards accused former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) of taking “every opportunity to exploit the memory of 9/11 for political gain.”

The Giuliani campaign reacted with an equally strong statement.

“For John Edwards to lecture Rudy Giuliani about September 11th is laughable at best," said Katie Levinson, Communications Director for the Rudy Giuliani Presidential Committee. “This is, after all, the same guy who thinks the War on Terror is simply a ‘bumper sticker.’”

Let's not get carried away General Goddard.

Retired Major General Rick Goddard's campaign to oust Democrat Jim Marshall in the 8th Congressional District has barely begun and the man has already lost his credibility.

This past Saturday in Perry Goddard introduced Sonny Perdue as “the greatest governor Georgia’s ever had.” (InsiderAdvantage Georgia)

"This is about green -- not black or white. It's about money."

Topic: A plan by business leaders to save the financially imperiled Grady Memorial Hospital by shifting management away from its current board, a plan that has been endorsed by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, several state leaders and officials of Emory and Morehouse medical schools —- which furnish the hospital system's physicians. (AJC)

Jesse Jackson's sidekick Joe Beasley: "It's about race. If we don't know it and don't deal with it, we're just whistling Dixie." (AJC)

Task force co-chairman and chairman emeritus of Georgia-Pacific A.D. "Pete" Correll: "This is about green — not black or white. It's about money." "We simply have got to quit talking about political power and talk about how we're going to pay for care for people of this community. I don't give a damn who's in charge." (AJC)

Bill Shipp: Alas, poor Pete is out of touch. He also is wrong. The Grady Hospital fiasco is about "black and white" and then it is about money.

In Atlanta and most of Georgia (except the mountains), "black and white" is a recurring issue on nearly every public project, ranging from posting a stop sign to rescuing a vital health care facility.

What Joe might have added is this: "Dealing with race means making sure that blacks continue to run Grady, regardless of whether the hospital is bailed out."

[In days gone by racial] problems only occasionally surfaced in the Peach State, and Georgia and its capital thrived.

That was a long time ago. Racial discord now is more prevalent than ever, except now it's blacks who bristle at the idea of giving an inch of hard-earned turf back to whites - even if their opposition means venerable Grady will shortly shut down.

The Grady standoff is . . . the latest example of race standing in the way of progress -- or even maintaining the status quo.

It has become an article of faith among party leaders that it was sheer strategic stupidity to cede the values debate to Republicans for so long

From TIME:

A president has to be a preacher of sorts, instructing, consoling, summoning citizens to sacrifice for some common good. But candidates are competitors, which means they seldom manage to talk about faith in a way that doesn't disturb people, doesn't divide them, doesn't nail campaign posters on the gates of heaven. Republicans have been charged with exploiting religious voters, Democrats with ignoring them: Hillary Clinton's voice gets tight as she recalls the mocking response she received when she first spoke in spiritual terms about the longing that people felt to invest in causes larger than self-interest. "I talked about my faith years ago and was pilloried for it," she says, and it is hard to tell if she is more impatient with the conservatives who presumed they held the patent on piety or with the liberals whose worship of diversity all but excluded the devout.

But maybe, she suggests, candidates have learned something from the holy wars of recent years. "Maybe we're getting back to where people can be who they are," she says. "If faith is an element of who you legitimately, authentically are, great. But don't make it up, don't use it, don't beat people over the head with it."

There was a certain purity to John Kerry's failure in 2004: when it came to religious voters, as the saying goes, he never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

If someone asks, you will know: The 2004 GPA change to Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally (for every C, you need an A to balance it out)

The Macon Telegraph:

[Since the inception of the HOPE Scholarship in 1993,] the number of students receiving HOPE grew steadily each year, and state budget cuts caused increases in tuition. Neighboring states started lotteries of their own, causing concern that the new lotteries would draw people away from the Georgia Lottery.

By 2004, legislators concerned about the vitality of the scholarship authorized a HOPE commission to study the issue and ways to preserve HOPE.

The GPA calculation change was one of the results. In addition, two other cost-saving measures were immediately put into place: putting a cap on the amount of fees the scholarship would cover and adding another checkpoint to verify a student's eligibility.

The [GPA calculation] went into effect this past May 1 and made grade calculations for HOPE standardized across the state.

Under the old method, students were allowed to score an 80 on a 100-point scale to be awarded a B. Now, students must score a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, making it more difficult to obtain a B average.

For example, using the old method, a student could earn an 84 in one class and a 78 in another for an 81 average, which would qualify for HOPE. Under the new method, however, that student's grades would be converted to a 3.0 and 2.0 for a 2.5 average, which would knock the student out of HOPE contention.

Also, some schools weight gifted and honors classes, and the new method only allows Advanced Placement courses to be weighted. The legislation also made all grades count for HOPE. Previously, a failing grade did not count toward a student's HOPE average.

Students also can find out if they're eligible for HOPE by logging onto the state's college Web site, www.gacollege411.org . . . .

Friday, August 10, 2007

Will House Minority Leader DuBose Porter run for Governor in 2010? Maybe, maybe not. But he says that 2010 may be the Democrats' year.

From InsiderAdvantage Georgia:

There’s been some speculation in recent weeks about a possible gubernatorial bid in 2010 by state Rep. DuBose Porter, D-Dublin, the House minority leader, and when we talked to him late yesterday he said he isn’t ruling it in - or out.

“It’s early,” he said. “I’ve got to get through another election. But after the time I’ve been here and seeing what’s happening in the state, it’s certainly something I’ll be looking at. I’ve still got another election and three sessions. It’s still early.”

He summed it up with this: “I’ve been here 25 years and timing is everything in something like this, and this very well could be our time.”

State workers and teachers' health insurance premiums to rise

James Salzer reports in the AJC that about 350,000 state and school employees and retirees will be hit with about a 10 percent increase in their health insurance premiums on Jan. 1.

The increase comes after a year of no premium rate hikes. In 2006, when Gov. Sonny Perdue and the General Assembly faced re-election, they put extra money in the budget for fiscal 2007 so state employees and teachers wouldn't have to pay higher premiums for health care.

Sen. Chambliss says his “no” vote on SCHIP bill should not be taken as an indication that he is against funding programs such as PeachCare.

From The Valdosta Daily Times:

Sen. Saxby Chambliss said his recent “no” vote on the SCHIP health care bill should not be taken as an indication that he is against funding programs such as Georgia’s PeachCare.

PeachCare is funded through a federal block grant program along with similar programs in other states. The program is set to expire at the end of September, and Chambliss explained that he voted against the recent bill due to its exorbitant funding increases.

“Fourteen states had applied for a waiver so they could cover uninsured adults, not just children,” he said. “That’s not what the program was designed to do. It is supposed to cover children, not adults.”

The senator elaborated on his reasons for opposing the SCHIP bill, saying the Senate wants to increase spending by $35 billion and not only include adults under the health care initiative, but raise the income level dramatically.

“Georgia taxpayers don’t want to pay for a family of four in New York making $80,000 a year. This was meant to cover those with families who are struggling.”

Chambliss said he is hopeful a compromise bill will be negotiated between the House and Senate committees, adding that he is sure President George Bush will veto the bill if it’s passed in its current form.

Another House Republican wants his name to be kicked around by the Georgia press, non-House legislators and the Governor.

State Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs), Chairman of the all-powerful House Rules Committee, writes that the time has come to eliminate all property taxes in Georgia. (Marietta Daily Journal)

Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson sure seems to have some kind of control over his top lieutenants. Maybe the Speaker got weary being the Lone Ranger in taking the flood of criticism over his proposal.

If you missed out in having your legacy having been with 'em, switch to making it having been agin 'em -- Bush Plans Immigration Crackdown

From The New York Times:

The Bush administration plans to announce numerous steps on Friday to secure the border with Mexico, speed the expulsion of illegal immigrants and step up enforcement of immigration laws, administration officials say.

The effort stems, in part, from White House frustration with the failure of Congress to approve President Bush’s proposals to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws and grant legal status to most of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants. In debate on that legislation, many Republicans said Mr. Bush should first enforce existing laws more aggressively.

Under the most significant change, disclosed earlier this week, many employers could be required to fire employees who used false Social Security numbers. At the same time, federal officials would crack down on companies employing substantial numbers of illegal immigrants.

Administration officials told members of Congress on Thursday night that they would speed up construction of fences along the Mexican border, hire more Border Patrol agents and detain more of the immigrants caught illegally crossing the border.

Moreover, administration officials said they would try to match up records of the arrival and departure of noncitizens entering and leaving the United States. Members of Congress say this exit-control system, required under a 1996 law, is essential to securing the nation’s borders, but many lawmakers say the administration has been slow in carrying out the law.

In addition, administration officials said they would train more state and local law enforcement officers to help enforce federal immigration laws. Since 2002, the federal government has trained more than 300 police and correctional officers. But members of Congress say the administration could do much more.

Administration officials said they were also planning to step up efforts to arrest and deport illegal immigrants who were members of street gangs. And they said federal agents would fan out across the country to hunt down “alien fugitives” who had been ordered to leave the United States but failed to comply.

Under a 1986 law, employers must ask job applicants for documents to verify that they are United States citizens or immigrants authorized to work here. Administration officials said they wanted to simplify this process for employers by limiting the documents that could be used.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Go figure: Bush gives us one of the largest deficits ever in our history, and now says he is considering a fresh round of corporate tax cuts.

Tuesday of this week Sen. Saxby Chambliss was here in Douglas and noted that we have “one of the largest deficits that we’ve ever seen in the history of our country.” (The Albany Herald)

The next day President Bush -- who inherited a surplus that turned into a deficit and who never vetoed a spending bill during the six years that Republicans controlled Capitol Hill -- said that he is considering a fresh plan to cut tax rates for U.S. corporations. (The Washington Post)

Hispanic people increasingly attracted to job opportunities and lower costs outside major metropolitan areas.

From The New York Times:

In a new study for the Population Reference Bureau, Mark Mather and Kelvin Pollard found that Hispanic people were increasingly attracted to job opportunities and lower costs outside major metropolitan areas.

“Between 2000 and 2006, the total population in small towns and rural areas increased by 3 percent, but the Hispanic population in these counties grew from 2.6 million to 3.2 million, a 22 percent increase,” the authors of the study wrote.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Government Set for a Crackdown on Illegal Hiring

A 7-3-07 post noted that the Department of Homeland Security was expected to make public soon new rules for employers notified when a worker's name or Social Security number is flagged by the Social Security Administration. The New York Times says to expect an announcement this week. It notes:

In a new effort to crack down on illegal immigrants, federal authorities are expected to announce tough rules this week that would require employers to fire workers who use false Social Security numbers.

Officials said the rules would be backed up by stepped-up raids on workplaces across the country that employ illegal immigrants.

Experts said the new rules represented a major tightening of the immigration enforcement system, in which employers for decades have paid little attention to notices, known as no-match letters, from the Social Security Administration advising that workers’ names and numbers did not match the agency’s records.

Illegal workers often provide employers with false Social Security numbers to qualify for a job.

Employers, especially in agriculture and low-wage industries, said they were deeply worried about the new rules, which could force them to lay off thousands of immigrant workers. More than 70 percent of farmworkers in the fields of the United States are illegal immigrants, according to estimates by growers’ associations.

The expected regulations would give employers a fixed period, perhaps up to 90 days, to resolve any discrepancies between identity information provided by their workers and the records of the Social Security Administration. If workers’ documents cannot be verified, employers would be required to fire them or risk up to $10,000 in fines for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. [My earlier 7-3-07 post said it would be 60 days.]

Social Security issues letters only to employers who have more than 10 workers whose numbers do not match, when those workers represent at least one-half of 1 percent of the company’s workforce . . . .

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Broun's victory wasn't the only miracle in recent Georgia politics.

In a column that was the subject of a 7-5-07 post, Bill Shipp wrote:

Despite his likely short tenure in Washington, Broun's 2007 upset will remain the "shot heard round the world," or at least around Georgia, for years to come.

Today in the Athens Banner-Herald Tim Echols, treasurer and district spokesman for Rep. Paul Broun, writes about four other Georgia upsets:

• For Republican Paul Coverdell's victory over Democrat Wyche Fowler in the 1992 U.S. Senate race, Coverdell campaign manager Tom Perdue (no relation to Gov. Sonny Perdue) produced a homespun TV ad that many credit with turning the race. It featured a little ol' lady singing a corny jingle, but, hey, it worked. Coverdell's surprise coalition included the Christian Coalition and Libertarians.

• When the GOP's Mack Mattingly brought down legendary Democratic Sen. Herman Talmadge in 1980, Democrat Zell Miller's near upset of Talmadge in the runoff did enough damage for Mattingly to defeat the legendary U.S. senator. Talmadge's wife testified against him before the Senate Ethics Committee, and the campaign began to unravel. To say the GOP was a minority in Georgia then is an understatement. But Mattingly took full advantage of the situation and became a one-term senator.

• Who can forget Casey Cagle's defeat of Ralph Reed in the GOP battle for lieutenant governor in 2006? Cagle should have hired Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Jim Galloway as his press secretary for the relentless pressure he applied in dozens of columns criticizing Reed prior to the primary. As the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal unfolded, Reed was perceived as being too close to Abramoff. Reed's donor report was a "who's who" of movers and shakers across the country, but no amount of money could overcome the negative publicity.

• Sonny Perdue's defeat of Democrat Roy Barnes in the 2002 governor's race was also stunning. Georgia's powerful teachers' unions were upset at Barnes, and the "flaggers" were on the warpath because of Barnes' change of the Georgia flag. Interestingly, Ralph Reed then headed the Georgia Republican Party and designed the get-out-the-vote strategy that resulted in the win by then-little-known Perdue. Also, Perdue owned an airplane and was able to get around the state in record time, taking the travel difficulty factor out of play.

Edwards Makes Courting Labor a Key Strategy in Bid for Nomination -- Backing Meant Little for 2004 Candidates

From The Washington Post:

The value of labor endorsements is in question, especially given the 2004 Democratic primaries. Four years ago, then-Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.) won the support of about two dozen unions but finished fourth in the Iowa caucuses and was quickly out of the race. Former Vermont governor Howard Dean had the endorsement of three prominent unions and collapsed despite their support. The eventual nominee, Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), was backed by just one.

As of 2006, 12 percent of U.S. workers were union members, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a sharp decline from more than 20 percent in 1983. About 15.4 million Americans were in a union last year.

But for Edwards, who will be at a significant financial disadvantage against both Clinton and Obama, the support of unions could give him organizational resources that he would not otherwise have at his disposal.

Edwards has made the courtship of organized labor one of the central strategies of his presidential campaign.

Edwards has also tailored his platform to cater to unions.

Tougher Rules Change Game for Lobbyists

From The New York Times:

[Last week Congress passed far-reaching ethics and lobbying rules] lobbyists are calling the new “temptation rules.” Not only do they bar lawmakers and aides from accepting any gifts, meals or trips from lobbyists, they also impose penalties up to $200,000 and five years in prison on any lobbyist who provides such freebies.

The new law has quickly sent a ripple of fear through K Street. It comes amid signs that federal prosecutors are taking a newly aggressive approach to corruption cases — including treating campaign contributions as potential bribes.

President Bush has not said whether he would sign the bill . . . .

A Georgia Democrat & Proud of It

Saturday was a good day for Georgia Democrats. It also was personally rewarding to pull into a parking place at the DPG State Committee meeting in Macon and see one of the Coffee County Democrats bumper stickers on the vehicle parked next to me.

Wouldn't it be great to start seeing these everywhere is Georgia. 2008 is around the corner, and it is not too early to start getting ready.

If you want one of these bumper stickers, contact our local party Chair Danita Knowles at danitaknowles52@charter.net ($2 a piece; 3 for $5; and 50 for $75; also, the bumper stickers have a union label). Danita's telephone numbers and our party's fax number can be found at CoffeeCountyDemocrats.com.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Saturday my hat was off to DPG Parliamentarian Chuck Byrd and Counsel Michael Jablonski.

In Macon on Saturday the party had to address and navigate through a couple of sensitive issues. As usual, we were fortunate to have the guidance and excellent counsel of Parliamentarian Chuck Byrd and Counsel Michael Jablonski. Thanks fellas.

(Chuck informed the State Committee Members that the role of the Rules Committee is to serve as a "procedural gatekeeper," and with respect to a matter at hand, to "review each proposed resolution to see if runs afoul of disqualifying factors." Well said, Chuck, very well said. I love it.)

(Chuck also had the occasion to quote one of the best of the best, former Rep. Denmark Groover, Jr.: "I think you are wrong, but let me help you figure out what your position is.")

Newt Gingrich: (1) ‘Odds are significant' the Democrats win the White House; & (2) Does not believe Nunn will run for office as an Independent.

From the AJC's Political Insider:

If you’re a betting man, you have to like Democrats’ chances of taking over the White House next year, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said early this morning.

“The odds are fairly significant that that the left will win next year. My personal bet is that it’ll be a Clinton-Obama ticket. I think they have a very high likelihood of winning,” Gingrich told business leaders at a gathering of the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce.

As more Republicans are doing, Gingrich pinned much of the blame on the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

“The problem you have right now is that the party and movement that best understands reality have not delivered on fundamental change. And the election of 2006 was in essence a punishment to Republicans — it was a performance election, not a values election,” the former Georgia congressman said.

And about these whispers of a third-party ticket that pairs New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg with former U.S. senator Sam Nunn of Georgia: Gingrich said he saw no way for it to succeed.

“It’s a little hard for me to imagine Nunn doing something as radical as running on a third-party ticket,” Gingrich said.

Next flash point on immigration (this time in the context of legal immigrants) will be in the reconcilation of competing House & Senate SCHIP bills.

We are likely to hear more than just dollars discussed as the Senate and House work to resolve the differences in their State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) bills. (The House voted to invest $50 billion more over five years, while the Senate approved $35 billion over five years. President Bush, who says the legislation is “Congress’ attempt to federalize medicine,” is holding out for an increase of only $5 billion.)

According to Stateline.org:

Legal immigrants would fare better under the House version, because it would let states’ SCHIP programs begin covering immigrants who’ve lived in the United States for fewer than five years. The Senate proposal goes the opposite direction, by requiring SCHIP applicants to prove their citizenship with specific documents. Congress already has enacted a similar requirement, which took effect last summer, for Medicaid recipients.

Surge in Immigration Laws Around U.S.

From The New York Times:

State legislatures, grappling with the failure of the federal government to overhaul the immigration laws, considered 1,404 immigration measures this year and enacted 170 of them, an unprecedented surge in state-level lawmaking on the issue, according to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Spurred by rising resentment in the country over illegal immigration and by the collapse of a broad immigration bill in the Senate in June, state legislators nationwide adopted measures to curb employment of unauthorized immigrants and to make it more difficult for them to obtain state identification documents like driver’s licenses.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Bill Shipp: Broun victory "a reflection of the mindset of the electorate rather than a result of skill by the winner or mistakes by the loser."

Bill Shipp writes about Paul Broun's upset over former State Sen. Jim Whitehead in the July runoff to fill the unexpired term of the late Charlie Norwood:

After covering politics for more than a half-century, I can tell you that like most races, this one was a reflection of the mindset of the electorate rather than a result of skill by the winner or mistakes by the loser. We can learn much from this race.

Last year, as the rest of the nation moved in the direction of change, Georgia voters lagged, due in part to their generally conservative Republican outlook and to the continued strong economic growth in the state. In a year when much of the nation was yelling for change, Georgia stayed the course. It is telling that on Nov. 7, 2006, as many Americans engaged in "throwing the bums out," not a single incumbent Georgia officeholder at the federal or state level was defeated.

Whitehead was at least as much of a favorite against Broun as almost any incumbent seeking re-election. But Broun, the man who had finished far from victory in all of his other tries for office, was able to bolt together a coalition of disaffected Republicans, Athens Democrats and a multitude of others who are fed up with corruption in Washington and inaction on critical issues facing the nation, from the Iraq war to health care to illegal immigration.

While the campaign in the heavily Republican district was between two members of the GOP, it was clear to everyone who cast a ballot that Whitehead was the chosen, logical successor to Norwood (he even touted the endorsement of Norwood's widow in broadcast advertisements), and that Broun was the outsider who was rejected by Georgia's powers-that-be. Whitehead's defeat should send chills down the spine of every Georgia officeholder who will be on the ballot in 2008, especially U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, a representative of Georgia's GOP establishment if there ever was one. Chambliss is running his first race for re-election to the Senate next year, and he will face a difficult challenge if he is opposed by a candidate who can claim the mantles of outsider and reformer.