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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, September 30, 2007

And so who wears the pants in the Giuliani family? -- Giuliani: Excuse Me While I Take This Call

Giuliani taking a cell phone call from his wife right in the middle of a speech to the National Rifle Association conference in Washington earlier this month (article in The New York Times).

He did the same thing back in June while campaigning in Hialeah, Florida (see YouTube).

Friday, September 28, 2007

We need to insure more children and to do that we’re going to raise broad-based taxes slightly.

David Brooks writes in The New York Times:

Politicians in Washington like to talk in the abstract about shared sacrifice. They could go to the American people and say: We need to insure more children and to do that we’re going to raise broad-based taxes slightly.

But that’s honest and direct, and therefore impermissible. Instead, [the S-chip expansion plan in Congress] is funded by raising taxes on smokers, who generally are much poorer than average Americans and much less educated. High school dropouts smoke at roughly three times the rates of college graduates.

The S-chip bill takes money from these relatively poor, politically immobilized people and shifts it to those making up to $62,000 a year. Nobody is raising a tax on wine consumption or gasoline consumption to pay for this benefit. Instead, Congress is taxing the weakest possible group in order to shift benefits to others, some of whom are middle class.

Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson seek extension for SCHIP but vote against bill as it presently is (but the Senate passes).

From the AJC:

Georgia's senators called Wednesday for an 18-month extension of the federal health insurance system for low-income children to make sure there is no loss of coverage if President Bush follows through on his threat to veto legislation to expand the program.

Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss said Georgia's PeachCare has been "one of the model programs" under the system where the federal government provides about two-thirds of the funding but states set up and operate their own insurance plans within limits set by Congress.

PeachCare has worked "extremely well" and should not be interrupted by a political fight in Washington, Chambliss said.

According to The Washington Post, last night the Senate, with an overwhelming bipartisan vote yesterday, passed the $35 billion expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program passed by the House earlier this week.

The veto-proof vote of 67 to 29 included "yes" votes from 18 of the 49 Republicans, including some of the president's most stalwart allies.

However, Sen. Johnny Isakson and Sen. Saxby Chambliss were not among these voting yes. Both voted nay (The Macon Telegraph).

Thursday, September 27, 2007

151 Republicans (and 8 Democrats in the Entire U.S. House of Representatives, Including Rep. Jim Marshall) Following Bush Over a Cliff

David Broder writes in The Washington Post:

The spectacle Tuesday of 151 House Republicans voting in lock step with the White House against expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) was one of the more remarkable sights of the year. Rarely do you see so many politicians putting their careers in jeopardy.

The bill they opposed, at the urging of President Bush, commands healthy majorities in both the House and Senate but is headed for a veto because Bush objects to expanding this form of safety net for the children of the working poor. He has staked out that ground on his own, ignoring or rejecting the pleas of conservative senators such as Chuck Grassley and Orrin Hatch, who helped shape the compromise that the House approved and that the Senate endorsed.

SCHIP has been one of the most successful health-care measures created in the past decade. It was started in 1997 with support from both parties, in order to insure children in families with incomes too high to receive Medicaid but who could not afford private insurance.

The $40 billion spent on SCHIP in the past 10 years financed insurance for roughly 6.6 million youngsters a year. The money was distributed through the states, which were given considerable flexibility in designing their programs. The insurance came from private companies, at rates negotiated by the states.

Governors of both parties -- 43 of them, again including conservatives such as Sonny Perdue of Georgia -- have praised the program. And they endorsed the congressional decision to expand the coverage to an additional 4 million youngsters, at the cost of an additional $35 billion over the next five years. The bill would be financed by a 61-cents-a-pack increase in cigarette taxes. If ever there was a crowd-pleaser of a bill, this is it. Hundreds of organizations -- grass-roots groups ranging from AARP to United Way of America and the national YMCA -- have called on Bush to sign the bill. America's Health Insurance Plans, the largest insurance lobbying group, endorsed the bill on Monday.

But Bush insists that SCHIP is "an incremental step toward the goal of government-run health care for every American" -- an eventuality he is determined to prevent.

Bush's adamant stand may be peculiar to him, but the willingness of Republican legislators to line up with him is more significant. Bush does not have to face the voters again, but these men and women will be on the ballot in just over a year -- and their Democratic opponents will undoubtedly remind them of their votes.

Two of their smartest colleagues -- Heather Wilson of New Mexico and Ray LaHood of Illinois -- tried to steer House Republicans away from this political self-immolation, but they had minimal success. The combined influence of White House and congressional leadership -- and what I would have to call herd instinct -- prevailed.

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) argued that "rather than taking the opportunity to cover the children that cannot obtain coverage through Medicaid or the private marketplace, this bill uses these children as pawns in their cynical attempt to make millions of Americans completely reliant upon the government for their health-care needs."

In his new book, former Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan wrote that his fellow Republicans deserved to lose their congressional majority in 2006 because they let spending run out of control and turned a blind eye toward misbehavior by their own members. Now, those Republicans have given voters a fresh reason to question their priorities -- or their common sense.

Saying no to immigration reform and measures to shorten the war in Iraq may be politically defensible, because there are substantial constituencies who question the wisdom of those bills -- and who favor alternative policies. But the Bush administration's arguments against SCHIP -- the cost of the program and the financing -- sound hollow at a time when billions more are being spent in Iraq with no end in sight. Bush's alternative -- a change in the tax treatment of employer-financed health insurance -- has some real appeal, but it is an idea he let languish for months after offering it last winter. And, in the judgment of his fellow Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee, Bush's plan is too complex and controversial to be tied to the renewal of SCHIP.

This promised veto is a real poison pill for the GOP.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Dean is not just whistling Dixie -- Their cause will be this: Georgia does not want to pay for an adequate defense of a penniless black defendant.

Bill Shipp writes:

The Brian Nichols defense team is trying to intimidate Judge Hilton Fuller's court and walk away with a sack of gold for defending an open-and-shut murder case.

One could make a case that the wily defense lawyers hope to use their expense vouchers and time sheets to force a gone-broke state to cry uncle, forgo a trial and let Nichols off with a life sentence for a series of mind-boggling slayings.

The public defenders say they already have spent $1.8 million and are running out of funds. They say they will need at least $2.4 million to provide Nichols an adequate defense.

As one would expect, Fulton DA Paul Howard has said he will ask for the death penalty.

If we must have a death-penalty law in this state, the Nichols indictment fits the bill for lethal injection. Lives have been destroyed, families shattered and justice insulted in an apparently premeditated wanton rampage.

So here we are nearly 30 months after the tragedy, facing $2 million in legal fees and another extended trial delay.

The state's legal-defense kitty has run dry. The lawyers say they can't afford to keep compiling defense evidence for free; they must have multibucks to go on with a complete defense.

A precedent could be set. Future indigent murder defendants might one day thwart the executioner simply by breaking the state's indigent-defense bank and then copping a plea before a destitute court.

Something else is going on here too. Suppose Judge Fuller finally says, "Enough is enough. Proceed with the trial."

Look out, Atlanta and the rest of the South. I can see the placards now: "No Justice for Brian," "Crackers Deny Justice for Crusader" and "Send Dollars to Save Nichols."

Protest marchers will descend from everywhere. The broadcast and cable networks will go nuts. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson will appear. O.J. may even show up.

The recent demonstrations in Jena, La., will seem little more than a tiny warm-up for a raucous "we are victims" rally in a major Southern city. The nation and the world will be watching.

Racial tensions already are in the air. A new generation of activists looks longingly back at the 1960s and probes for new causes. In our own backyard, some observers were shocked at the numbers of prominent people and organizations that sprung to the defense of serial dog-killer Michael Vick. At one point, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference wanted to "honor" the disgraced Falcons quarterback. An NAACP chapter came charging to his defense. Saner voices finally prevailed. Vick was not a sympathetic victim, especially to dog owners.

The Nichols case may have just the ingredients that the Foot Soldiers for Justice (2007 Edition) are seeking for another prolonged upheaval. Their cause, simply stated, will be this: The state of Georgia does not want to pay for an adequate defense of a penniless black murder defendant.

(1) U.S. House votes to expand SCHIP, but not by a veto proof margin; (2) How Georgians voted.

From the AJC:

To overturn a presidential veto, both chambers of Congress must produce two-thirds majorities. The 265 yes votes in the House are two dozen fewer than Democrats would need to override Bush's veto, and House leaders expect few members to switch positions.

The Senate appears poised to pass the SCHIP expansion by a large margin later this week, but a Senate bid to override a veto would be pointless if the House override effort falls short.


For expanding program: Democratic Reps. John Barrow, Sanford Bishop, Hank Johnson, John Lewis, Jim Marshall [wrong: see below UPDATE] and David Scott

Against: Republican Reps. Paul Broun, Nathan Deal, Phil Gingrey, Jack Kingston, John Linder, Tom Price and Lynn Westmoreland

UPDATE: The above list of names from the AJC article is incorrect. Rep. Jim Marshall voted against the SCHIP legislation.

According to the House Roll Call:

Voting yes were 220 Democrats and 45 Republicans.

Voting no were 8 Democrats and 151 Republicans.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Here's to hoping Gov. Perdue will follow through on his comments on transportation.

Dick Pettys of InsiderAdvantage Georgia reports that in Governor Perdue's comments with reporters after addressing the joint House-Senate committee on transportation funding on Monday:

[Governor Perdue said he] hasn’t ruled anything in or out as far as providing new sources of revenue for transportation and, if and when the time comes, he will provide leadership in partnership with the Legislature.

The center holds -- Many Democratic politicians privately detest the netroots’ self-righteousness and bullying.

David Brooks writes in The New York Times writes about the bloggers, billionaires and activists on the left who make up the “netroots”:

[T]he netroots emerged in part in rebellion against Clintonian politics. They wanted bold colors and slashing attacks. They didn’t want their politicians catering to what Markos Moulitsas Zúniga of the Daily Kos calls “the mythical middle.”

[W]hile Republicans can win by appealing only to conservatives, Democrats must appeal to centrists as well as liberals.

The fact is, many Democratic politicians privately detest the netroots’ self-righteousness and bullying. They also know their party has a historic opportunity to pick up disaffected Republicans and moderates, so long as they don’t blow it by drifting into cuckoo land. They also know that a Democratic president is going to face challenges from Iran and elsewhere that are going to require hard-line, hawkish responses.

Finally, these Democrats understand their victory formula is not brain surgery. You have to be moderate on social issues, activist but not statist on domestic issues and hawkish on foreign policy. This time they’re not going to self-destructively deviate from that.

Both liberals and Republicans have an interest in exaggerating the netroots’ influence, but in reality that influence is surprisingly marginal, even among candidates for whom you’d think it would be strong.

U.S. Sues Illinois to Let Employers Use Immigrant Databases

From The New York Times:

The Bush administration sued the State of Illinois yesterday, hoping to block a new state law that bars employers from using a federal database to verify that immigrant job applicants are in the United States legally and are authorized to work.

With the suit, officials said, the administration is going on the offensive in the courts in response to cases intended to stall a crackdown on illegal immigration that the federal authorities announced last month.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Indiana's Evan Bayh to Endorse Clinton

From The Washington Post:

Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, a one-time Democratic presidential hopeful, will endorse Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) tomorrow in Washington, according to several sources briefed on the decision.

Bayh becomes the second ex-2008 candidate to offer an endorsement of one of the remaining Democrats. Former Gov. Tom Vilsack (Iowa) bowed out of the race earlier this year and is officially backing Clinton.

From the Cracker Squire Archives -- The Dean writes about Speaker Murphy, a legend in his own time.

Today Rhonda Cook has a great write-up in the AJC on the present condition of former House Speaker Tom Murphy and how the once-powerful politician is coping with life after a stroke. The article is entitled "House's former voice of power now can barely speak."

Rhonda's article brought to me a 12-8-04 post that was another Bill Shipp classic, a real keeper, about Speaker Murphy, a legend in his own time:

In the autumn of 2002, a slightly bent, bespectacled and balding old man went from door to door in his West Georgia community asking people to vote for him for state representative.

"They didn’t know who I was. They just wanted to know if I was Republican or Democrat,” he later said. “When I said Democrat, they slammed the door.” On Election Day, a Republican defeated him in a newly configured House district populated by strangers who had never heard of Tom Murphy.

So ended the political career of House Speaker Thomas Bailey Murphy, easily one of the most important figures of 20th century Georgia.

Last week, Murphy was back in the news briefly. The Bremen lawyer was admitted to Emory Hospital, apparently suffering further complications from a debilitating stroke some months earlier.

The news item about 80-year-old Murphy brought back a thousand memories, a few of them funny. Throughout much of Murphy’s long career in the House, your humble commentator thought the Haralson County legislator was — well, there’s no other way to put this — just awful.

Murphy wore a Stetson-style hat with a brim as big as a tabletop and a pair of worn-out zip-up cowboy boots that must have predated Buffalo Bill. Murphy kept in his mouth an unlit fat cigar. He spoke in the manner of a perpetually angry backwoods lawyer. A lifelong Democrat, he despised most Republicans with a passion that most of us reserve for venomous snakes and football rivals. To many of us, Murphy was a caricature of a Southern yellow-dog political boss.

Murphy served as Gov. Lester Maddox’s irascible House floor leader and spoke for Maddox on several nutty propositions.

Later, Murphy was in a constant state of conflict with Jimmy Carter or Zell Miller over everything from gasoline taxes to governmental reorganization. Murphy fought nonstop with much of the then-aggressive political press.

When he saw he was losing a public relations battle with the newspapers, the speaker would take the well of the House to orate sorrowfully on how he was misunderstood and mistreated. Before his speech ended, he would often burst into tears.

In the press gallery, and a couple of reporters, including this one, would nearly fall down laughing at what we saw as an Irish ham’s overacting. Seated with us in the press box, columnist Celestine Sibley would immediately leap to Murphy’s defense, scolding us “ignorant, arrogant a----” for ridiculing the put-upon speaker. That was years ago.

As Murphy’s reign as speaker and lawmaker neared an end, most of us came to realize that, even with all his hardscrabble idiosyncrasies and intolerances, Murphy was a powerful force for advancement.

He also has been a steadfast believer that government was meant to protect those who cannot fend for themselves.

Space is too limited to review in depth Murphy’s 28 years as speaker. Just leave it at this: Because of Murphy, Georgia thrived. Georgia’s higher education system flourished because Murphy wanted it to. Economic development and jobs creation blossomed as never before, partly because Murphy helped create a go-go business climate. Atlanta received untold state aid because Murphy believed helping the capital enhanced the entire state.

At the same time, he served as a brake and monitor on six governors. He was a restraining influence on the worst instincts of many of his fellow legislators. Murphy never quite broke the bad Southern white male habit of speaking condescendingly to women and black lawmakers. Yet he protected and broadened the rights of both groups. In fact, he may have been the stoutest defender of women’s rights ever to hold a position of power in Georgia.

“Everybody knows that I am a fiscal conservative,” he said repeatedly. “But when it comes to old folks, little children and the mentally ill, I am a bleeding-heart liberal, and I don’t care who knows it. There are still folks we have to look after, and I have always tried to do that.”

In today’s new political order, fiscal conservatism is a joke. State and federal budgets are drowning in pork-barrel projects and profligate waste, even as the leadership calls for belt tightening on government aid for impoverished children and the aged sick.

To say Murphy never engaged in pork-barrel politics would be untrue. Still, he was a piker compared to today’s big-spending self-described “conservatives.”

As a new generation of legislative leaders takes its place, some of these neophyte commanders might profit from a detailed review of Murphy’s era. Sure, at times, his tenure was loaded with wrongheaded partisanship. More often, however, Murphy’s policies and positions helped elevate Georgia into a pacesetting Southern state.

When The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer’s Richard Hyatt wrote his 1999 biography, “Mr. Speaker,” Murphy told him, “I just want to be remembered as a man who didn’t steal and told the truth.”

Murphy ought to be remembered for much more than that. Dedicated Democrat though he was, he serves as an example for all those, regardless of party, who aspire to succeed him. Before his final exit, he should be recognized for his valuable contributions. The Capitol lawn is dotted with imposing statues of much lesser men.

Democrats Seriously Court Evangelicals

From Newsweek:

For 25 years, evangelicals have voted Republican. But the Democrats are courting, and their efforts may have a prayer.

No one expects miracles, of course. Conservative Christians started shifting to the Republicans as the "party of values" in 1979, when Jerry Falwell founded the Moral Majority. They were the most important bloc of voters in George W. Bush's victories in 2000 and 2004. But the movement is not as cohesive as it once was.

The Democrats see an opening—not to conquer the movement but to harness some of its energy for themselves.

New York Times Says It Violated Policies Over MoveOn Ad

From The Washington Post:

After two weeks of denials, the New York Times acknowledged that it should not have given a discount to MoveOn.org for a full-page advertisement assailing Gen. David H. Petraeus.

The Times also violated its own advertising policy, which bars "attacks of a personal nature," Hoyt reported. He wrote that the episode "gave fresh ammunition to a cottage industry that loves to bash The Times as a bastion of the 'liberal media.' "

Many Republicans have seemed to prefer talking about MoveOn's ad rather than the war itself.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

When I next have to stay overnight in a hotel in Atlanta, it will be at what I will always call the Winecoff.

From the A.P.:

The site of the deadliest hotel fire in U.S. history - a tragedy that led to nationwide fire safety reforms - will open to guests next month as a new boutique hotel after a $28 million makeover.

The Ellis Hotel is expected to open Oct. 1, said Susan Griffin, owner and partner of Kelco/FB Winecoff LLC, a New York-based real estate group that renovated the 15-floor hotel. In 1946, when the once-luxurious building was called the Winecoff Hotel, 119 people died in a fire that helped forever change fire codes across the country.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for Oct. 17, while a tour of the new hotel is planned for fire survivors in December, on the 61st anniversary of the blaze.

Hillary weathers grilling from 5 Sunday political talk show hosts -- Says her health plan will not mandate or include coverage for illegal immigrants.

From RealClearPolicitics.com:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton beamed her way through a barrage of questions from five political talk show hosts Sunday morning, appearances that offered some details of her plans on health care and the war in Iraq, but left her basically unscathed politically after the toughest grilling Washington has to offer.

Her exchanges with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, CBS's Bob Schieffer, CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Fox's Chris Wallace were taped between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. at her home in Chappaqua, an aide said. She appeared live on NBC's “Meet the Press” with Tim Russert.

The series of interviews — Clinton's first appearance for more than two years on the Sunday shows hallowed inside the Beltway — seemed aimed at solidifying her front-runner status and positioning her as a candidate in the general election, a result she anticipated throughout the interviews.

“I look forward to debating health care with my Republican opponent, whoever that might be, starting in the spring,” she told Russert.

The only real piece of news in the interviews came on ABC, where Clinton said for the first time that her health plan will not mandate or include coverage for illegal immigrants, who already receive emergency coverage under federal programs for children and the poor.

It was yet another sign that her plan is designed, most of all, for passage, aimed as it is to assuage the concerns of those who opposed her 1993 effort most fiercely: small businesses, and people who are satisfied with their current health care.

Clinton also seemed to preview the centrality of health care in the general election, stressing the unity among Democrats on the issue. “I think it is important that the Democrats are all on the same page. We all want to have a system that covers everybody. The Republicans don't. And that is a great divide,” she told Biltzer.

In the interviews' other major theme, Clinton refused to commit to a full withdrawal of American troops from Iraq if she becomes president. In response to repeated questions, she left the scale of continued American troop presence there deliberately vague.

And asked on CBS about Bill Clinton's role, she said that “we've been talking for 36 years” and that the conversation would continue. However, she said, he would not mirror her own role in the Clinton White House, in which she had a policy post.

“That's one of the lessons I learned,” she told Schieffer.

GOP Congressman From Illinois Won't Run in 2008

From The Washington Post:

Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Ill.), facing questions about his ethics, announced Friday that he will not seek an eighth term.

Weller is among 13 congressmen who were recently served subpoenas to testify for the defense in a case against a contractor accused of bribing imprisoned former congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.).

Seven other House Republicans have announced that they will step down at the end of this Congress's term.

Florida Democrats Set to Stick to Jan. 29 Vote

From The Washington Post:

The Florida Democratic Party will stick with a Jan. 29 presidential primary even if it means losing all its nominating convention delegates, a party source said Saturday.

The Democratic National Committee voted last month to strip Florida of its 210 delegates if the state party held a primary before Feb. 5, but it gave state officials until next Saturday to come up with an alternative delegate selection plan, such as caucuses or a vote-by-mail primary, to stay within DNC rules.

Fed's tell N.Y. that chemotherapy, which had been covered for illegal immigrants under Medicaid, does not qualify for coverage.

From The New York Times:

The federal government has told New York State health officials that chemotherapy, which had been covered for illegal immigrants under a government-financed program for emergency medical care, does not qualify for coverage. The decision sets the stage for a battle between the state and federal governments over how medical emergencies are defined.

Under a limited provision of Medicaid, the national health program for the poor, the federal government permits emergency coverage for illegal immigrants and other noncitizens.

The federal statute that defines an emergency under Medicaid makes it clear that routine care for illegal immigrants and nonresidents, including foreign students and visitors, is not covered. But the only procedures it specifically excludes from reimbursement are organ transplants, leaving to the states the task of further defining an emergency. States and courts have grappled with the question for years, yielding no clear definition.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Is Gov. Perdue sending a message to Mac Collins?

Travis Fain reports in The Macon Telegraph that Gov. Sonny Perdue will attend a fundraiser for Rick Goddard, the retired Air Force General who is running against Rep. Jim Marshall in the 8th Congressional District.

Should we take this as a message to former Congressman Mac Collins -- who said he's considering another run against Marshall -- that Goddard does not need any opposition in the primary?

Battle not over on conflicting instructions to State officials on whether to follow Gov.’s spending dictates or Legislature’s financial blueprint.

The Albany Herald Editorial Board observes:

The unresolved issue of whether Perdue exceeded his constitutional authority in directing how state officials should implement the fiscal year 2008 budget is likely to take the forefront of the 2008 General Assembly, which may make the ’07 session look like the model of civility and cooperation by comparison.

Monday, September 17, 2007

How Bush's AG Pick Irritates the Right

From TIME:

If the Administration was trying to avoid a fight with the left over the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales' replacement as Attorney General, they may have succeeded with the nomination of former New York district judge Michael Mukasey. The question now is whether they'll have a fight with the right. Both in Mukasey himself, and in the process by which he picked him, Bush has gone against the right, spurning their favored choice, engaging with — and conceding to — Democrats, and naming a New Yorker who is an unknown quantity on many of the social issues about which they care most deeply.

Veto Risk Seen in Compromise on SCHIP

From The New York Times:

Senate and House negotiators said Sunday that they had agreed on a framework for a compromise bill that would provide health insurance to four million uninsured children while relaxing some of the limits on eligibility imposed by the Bush administration.

The compromise, which resembles a bill passed by the Senate with bipartisan support, sets the stage for a battle with President Bush . . . .

Republicans will come under political pressure to support the compromise. But if the president vetoes it, he will probably have enough votes in the House to sustain his veto, Republicans say.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

There's Plain Old Politics and Then There's DOT-Type Politics

Today Dick Pettys writes in InsiderAdvantage Georgia:

DOT politics aren’t like the kind we see every day at the Capitol. They’re meaner, rougher and bloodier, and we’ve got some going on right now [in the battle to replace retiring Transportation Commissioner] Harold Linnenkohl.

Last year Dick Pettys was named editor of InsiderAdvantage Georgia after a distinguished 36-year career with the Associated Press. During that time Mr. Pettys -- one of this State's most knowledgeable writers and resources on Georgia history and politics -- covered Georgia government and politics.

When you you read one of his stories it is most obvious that he not only knows the subject matter and background, but he knows the players as well.

Yesterday I did a post in which I referenced a story Mr. Pettys wrote that was entitled "Williams No Longer Seeking Post But There's Still A Battle Brewing Between Governor, Speaker Over DOT Commissioner's Job."

Today he authors another story reviewing battles in the past involving who would head the Department of Transportation. As noted above, a battle is presently in the making, and you will better understand what is going on and why things are not always as they seem if you understand the past.

Go read his article now. I promise you will be glad you did.

They might have different political philosophies, but the Dean observes something that Sen. Hillary Clinton and Newt Gingrich have in common.

Bill Shipp notes:

Newt's a little like Hillary. Nobody likes him.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Wesley Clark Endorses Hillary

From TIME:

Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton was endorsed Saturday by retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who sought the party's nomination in 2004 and whose sterling military credentials could bolster her bid to be the first female commander in chief.

I wish Elizabeth Edwards was running for President.

I first read about this in a post by my friend Mel at Blog for Democracy noting that Elizabeth Edwards expressed similar sentiments as I did in an earlier post today.

The following is from the Des Moines Register:

MoveOn.org should not have labeled Gen. David Petraeus "General Betray Us" in a controversial newspaper ad, Elizabeth Edwards said in Des Moines on Friday.

"Someone who's spent their life in the military doesn't deserve 'General Betray Us,'" said Edwards, wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards.

Elizabeth Edwards noted that her father was a career naval officer, and she said she respects military service.

Yes -- Ex-Official Returns to Key Post at the C.I.A.

From The New York Times:

Michael J. Sulick, a longtime operations officer of the Central Intelligence Agency who angrily retired in 2004, is returning to lead the agency’s clandestine service, the agency announced on Friday.

Mr. Sulick, 59, has had a storied career at the agency, working in Japan, Peru, Poland and Russia over more than 20 years. In 2004, he rose to the second-highest position in the clandestine service, but chose to retire three months into the job after repeated clashes with the staff of the director at the time, Porter J. Goss.

Mr. Sulick’s return is another prominent move by the current director, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, to fill the top ranks with officials who left under Mr. Goss.

In his new position, Mr. Sulick will have a role that extends beyond the agency to include broad oversight of human intelligence operations in other agencies, including the military and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

His direct responsibility is to head the agency directorate that includes most of its covert officers and foreign posts. The directorate’s primary challenge in recent years has been to disrupt suspected terrorist operations.

I think MoveOn.org is getting too big for its britches.

From The Washington Post:

“I think Democrats understand that when we can join forces and work together, it’s very powerful,” said Eli Pariser, executive director of MoveOn Political Action. “And then when we can’t, it’s not fun.”

This month, MoveOn sent an e-mail message to members asking whether it should start organizing potential primary challenges against Democrats who were not tough enough on the war, a move that upset Democratic leaders. The group plans to announce the results of its survey on Monday.

Democratic leaders in Congress and presidential campaigns said they winced when they saw the MoveOn advertisement [attacking the credibility of Gen. David H. Petraeus]. While they may have agreed with its overall point, that the troop buildup has not worked, several Democratic officials said privately that the advertisement had been counterproductive.

They said MoveOn had handed Republicans a fresh talking point to criticize Democrats and turn the focus from Iraq in a critical week in the war debate.

Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, said on MSNBC that the advertisement was “simply over the top, and I think it’s inappropriate, period.”

Ms. Pelosi said on “Good Morning America” on ABC that she “would have preferred that they not do such an ad.”

Alan Greenspan Attacks Bush on Fiscal Role and Praises Bill Clinton.

From The New York Times:

Alan Greenspan, who was chairman of the Federal Reserve for nearly two decades, in a long-awaited memoir, is harshly critical of President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and the Republican-controlled Congress, as abandoning their party’s principles on spending and deficits.

Mr. Bush, he writes, was never willing to contain spending or veto bills that drove the country into deeper and deeper deficits, as Congress abandoned rules that required that the cost of tax cuts be offset by savings elsewhere. “The Republicans in Congress lost their way,” writes Mr. Greenspan, a self-described “libertarian Republican.”

“They swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither. They deserved to lose” in the 2006 election, when they lost control of the House and Senate.

Of the presidents he worked with, Mr. Greenspan reserves his highest praise for Bill Clinton, whom he described in his book as a sponge for economic data who maintained “a consistent, disciplined focus on long-term economic growth.”

By contrast, Mr. Greenspan paints a picture of Mr. Bush as a man driven more by ideology and the desire to fulfill campaign promises made in 2000, incurious about the effects of his economic policy, and an administration incapable of executing policy.

Mr. Greenspan described his own emotional journey in dealing with Mr. Bush, from an initial elation about the return of his old friends from the Ford White House — including Mr. Cheney and Donald H. Rumsfeld, secretary of defense — to astonishment and then disappointment at how much they had changed.

Though Mr. Greenspan does not admit he made a mistake, he shows remorse about how Republicans jumped on his endorsement of the 2001 tax cuts to push through unconditional cuts without any safeguards against surprises. He recounts how Mr. Rubin and Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota, begged him to hold off on an endorsement because of how it would be perceived.

“It turned out that Conrad and Rubin were right,” he acknowledges glumly. He says Republican leaders in Congress made a grievous error in spending whatever it took to ensure a permanent Republican majority.

Also see The Washington Post for other favorable comments from the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve about former President Bill Clinton.

Friday, September 14, 2007

On not being Transportation Commissioner -- It's OK if it hurts just a little bit Senate Majority Leader Tommie Williams

Transportation Commissioner Harold Linnenkohl is retiring, and a race is going on for his position. Dick Pettys writes in InsiderAdvantage Georgia:

"One legislative leader said this bears all the markings of turning into a major power fight between the governor and the Legislature. 'This is one board that the governor doesn't control -- the Legislature does,' he said."

Dick of course is right, but that is the subject of another post. The topic of this post is about Senate Majority Leader Tommie Williams who had been quietly seeking the post, but now, according to Pettys, says that while he's interested in the job, he is not seeking it.

According to Pettys, Williams said he had discussed the job with the governor "in times past, and I'm sure he considered me for the job. But he's chosen someone else [State Properties Officer Gena L. Abraham], and I'm perfectly satisfied."

Sen. William may say he is satisfied, but I am sure it hurts just a little bit. Why? Since day one Sen. Williams has been tight, real tight, with Gov. Perdue, having been on his gubernatorial campaign team from day one.

Given Perdue's narrow margin of victory over Roy Barnes, I do not think Perdue would have been elected in Nov. 2002 without the active and energetic support he had from Williams. Although the doubters were many, the Senator was not among them. Wherever you saw Perdue, Williams was there by his side.

And as a legislator he took an active role in transportation, serving as Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee until becoming Senate Majority Leader.

Although I do not recall Williams ever publicly advocating an increase in the motor fuel tax, one of the lowest fuel levies in the country, in 2005 he floated the idea of a statewide sales tax for transportation that could raise $5 billion over five years to fund transportation projects.

Williams also supported legislation that would exempt interstate and developmental highways, the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority and MARTA from congressional balancing as well as changing the balance formula.

(You might also recall that Sen. Williams considered a run for lieutenant governor until Ralph Reed jumped into the fray.)

New Georgia laws affecting driving habits of illegal immigrants.

From the AJC:

[A Georgia law] went into effect on July 1 requiring a Georgia driver's license or ID card to get a car tag.

In Georgia, a new law calls for verification of the status of applicants for public jobs and public benefits and to those thrown in jail for a felony or DUI.

Many people interviewed say fewer illegal immigrants are driving because of fear.

Cobb County has gone further than other municipalities in Georgia in cracking down on illegal immigration. The county sheriff has an agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that allows specially trained local jail officers to initiate deportation proceedings for illegal immigrants who are arrested.

Some illegal immigrants are afraid to drive for fear of being stopped for offenses such as reckless driving and DUI and eventually end up deported.

Some drive back and forth to work, but are afraid to drive to the store.

(1) Painting the Suburbs Blue & (2) Mark Warner: Voters "sick to death of the bickering" and he promises "a bipartisan approach of change."

In an 8-31-07 post I reviwed the remarks by former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner at the 2005 Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner that reflects his political views. Today E.J. Dionne, Jr. in The Washington Post discusses him in the context of America's shifting political landscape:

As Virginia goes, so goes the Senate -- and the nation?

The decision of former Virginia governor Mark Warner to run for the seat of retiring Republican Sen. John Warner is more than just bad news for the GOP. It reflects fundamental shifts in the balance of political power in the country, the growing force and volatility of suburban voters, and the fact that the old red-state-blue-state maps are becoming obsolete.

The Republicans are in danger of being pushed into a Southern redoubt. Their increasingly narrow regional and demographic base bears a remarkable resemblance to the old areas of Democratic strength during the Republican heyday after the Civil War.

Outside the Deep South, Democrats are on the verge of becoming the dominant party in the suburbs and are pushing into the exurbs.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, who headed the Democrats' 2006 effort in the House elections, regularly reminds his colleagues that 16 of the 31 Democratic pickups were in suburban or exurban areas. He has been talking about a new "suburban populism" or "metropolitan populism" that he characterizes as "a revolt of the center." The suburbs are changing demographically as more nonwhites move in, and many suburban voters are turned off by the ideological politics of the right, particularly the Christian right.

Mark Warner, who combines popularity in the suburbs with strength in rural areas that's unusual for a Democrat, clearly had his own version of Emanuel's "revolt of the center" in mind when he announced his candidacy in a Web broadcast yesterday. He spoke of voters who were "sick to death of the bickering" in Washington and promised a "practical problem-solving approach" and "a bipartisan approach of change."

Safe, soothing and very suburban: These could be the characteristics of the new American majority. For now, Democrats have the better understanding of its rhythms.

Newt Gingrich: I have watched Sen. Hillary Clinton now for a year be gradually pulled to the left. Her husband was too clever to do that.

Scott Freeman at Creative Loafing pointed out the following comments Newt Gingrich made about Sen. Hillary Clinton in the National Journal:

She is actually much more centrist than MoveOn.org. She is much tougher on military affairs than [her party's] Left. She is more rational, and I have very great respect for her as a hardworking professional. No Republican should think she is going to be easy to beat. But I have watched her now for a year be gradually pulled to the left. Her husband was too clever to do that.

Wilson Smith asks: “Which of the Following Does George W. Bush Need the Most?”

Last night after having suffered through the rambling by someone who appears to have lost touch with reality -- or more likely one who has decided he is not going to worry about what happens between now and when his mess has to be cleaned up by the next administration (or both) -- I did a post expressing my frustration from not having followed through with my initial resolve of not listening to the President.

This morning I enjoyed reading the thoughts of my friend Wilson Smith at What Is Goin' On? in a post entitled "Which of the Following Does George W. Bush Need the Most?" It reads in part:

After having listened to George Bush make statements which suggest he has no clue what is actually going on In Iraq, I am at a loss to deal with his idiocy by any effective means. Thus, I offer the following multiple choice question to alleviate my frustration and attempt to maintain my sanity.

Which of the following does George W. Bush need the most?

1. A milk enema.
2. A psychiatric examination.
3. A kick in the ass.
4. A one-way ticket to Baghdad with full desert gear.
5. An impeachment resolution.
6. All the above.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Coulda, shoulda, woulda. I said I wouldn't because I just couldn't. I wish I hadn't (watched the President).

About 8:30 p.m. I told my wife Sally to pick which room she wanted to be in at 9:00, and I would be in another one, and proceeded to explain that although I always try to watch the President as I would any president addressing the nation, I just could not bear to watch what I knew I would have to hear and witness.

Although I had intended to hit the mute button at 9:00 as I continued to browse on the computer, I did not.

It was a mistake on my part. From the President's first utterance on, I started ranking and raving like a madman, wondering if he really thinks we are all so ignorant and uninformed, and more importantly, wondering what he really perceives our mission is now in Iraq.

This is indeed one sad time and sorry state of affairs for our nation with regard to national and world leadership and credibility, and this observation is valid regardless of one's party affiliation.

Yes -- Former Va. Gov. Mark Warner Set to Seek Senate Seat

From The Washington Post:

Former Virginia governor Mark R. Warner will announce today that he is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican John W. Warner, setting the stage for one of the most competitive races in the country next year, according to sources familiar with his decision.

Warner, 52, a self-described moderate Democrat, will make his announcement in an e-mail to supporters Thursday but won't formally begin his campaign until after the state legislative races in November, according to the sources, who spoke directly with Warner.

Compromise on Oil Law in Iraq Seems to Be Collapsing

From The New York Times:

A carefully constructed compromise on a draft law governing Iraq’s rich oil fields, agreed to in February after months of arduous talks among Iraqi political groups, appears to have collapsed. The apparent breakdown comes just as Congress and the White House are struggling to find evidence that there is progress toward reconciliation and a functioning government here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I love it: Bill Shipp says if Richardson succeeds with his tax proposal, he will go from being "Romeo of the Rotunda" to "Houdini of the House."

Bill Shipp, in writing about House Speaker Glenn Richardson's proposal to abolish property taxes, increase statewide sales taxes and let the legislature decide on appropriations for many local government functions (which would result in county commissioners, school board members and mayors and city commissioners losing much of their powers of taxing and spending), notes:

If Richardson succeeds with this proposal against a horde of local government lobbyists, we will change immediately his honorary title from "Romeo of the Rotunda" to "Houdini of the House."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

This is supposed to be a make-or-break week in the conduct of the Iraq War. But politically, it's looking a lot like 2006 all over again.

Howard Fineman writes in Newsweek:

This was supposed to be a make-or-break week in the politics of the war. It is nothing of the kind.

Americans will go to the polls on Nov. 4, 2008 with basically the same Iraq policy in place as we have now. All of the rest is the sound and fury of political positioning. If the American people want to end this war faster, they will have to vote to do so—again, since that is what most of them thought they were doing in 2006.

President Bush can defend his policy by hiding out in his Constitutional cave. Were Congress to pass legislation cutting off funding for the war—the only real way to stop the conflict—Bush surely would veto the bill. It takes 67 votes in the Senate to override such a veto—way too high a figure for the 50 Democrats (don’t count Sen. Joe Lieberman) and their small band of Republican allies to overcome. Even getting a vote on such a measure would require ending a certain GOP Senate filibuster. That requires 60 votes—again, no way.

Bush and his strategists began their calculations with these numbers. Their intent never has been to win over—or win back—the country as a whole, but to use the “surge” and the credibility of Gen. David Petraeus to prevent defections from Republican ranks, in the Congress and at the grassroots.

A few months ago, it appeared crystal clear that the GOP was on the road to ruin because of Iraq. The Democrats, however, have been unable to capitalize on the GOP’s predicament. There simply is no way for them to accomplish in Congress what the average Democratic voter wants – and end to the war. That, in turn, has drained away what little credibility the Democratic Congress had with its constituents.

Bush, cold-blooded as usual, is moving to back the Democrats into a corner of their own good conscience. Having launched a war that has killed tens of thousands and left Iraq in ruins, he demands that Democrats not abandon the poor Iraqis to the “killing fields.” Having given Iran an opening in Mesopotamia, he insists that Democrats not abandon the region to the same Mullahs he managed to empower.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

In announcing his retirement, Mr. Hagel will fulfill a promise made when he first ran for the Senate in 1996 that he would serve only two terms.

From The New York Times:

Senator Chuck Hagel, the Nebraska Republican and outspoken critic of the Iraq war who had been mulling a run for president, will retire at the end of his term in early 2009 and will not run for the White House, aides said on Saturday.

In announcing his retirement, Mr. Hagel will fulfill a promise he made to voters when he first ran for the Senate in 1996 that he would serve only two terms. But his decision presents yet another challenge for the Republican Party in its effort to stop Democrats from extending their majority in Congress next year.

Former Senator Bob Kerrey, a Nebraska Democrat who has been president of the New School university in New York City since leaving office in 2001, has said that he might return to Nebraska to run for office again. Mr. Kerrey is also a former governor of Nebraska.

Friday, September 07, 2007

(1) U.S. House and Senate set to do battle on earmarks & (2) Say what Sen. Reid?

From The Hill:

The House and Senate are heading for a clash over earmarks this fall because House lawmakers have nearly halved the number of their pet projects while the Senate has done little to reduce earmarks in spending bills.

As a result, the Senate has proposed spending more than twice as much as the House on earmarks, creating the biggest disparity between the two chambers on parochial project spending in years.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the concern over the total money spent on earmarks is misplaced.

“I don’t think we should be worried about the number of earmarks,” he said. “If they’re good earmarks, fine; if they’re not good, get rid of them.”

Bush appears ready to continue the surge for another six months or so, and the Democrats lack the votes to check him.

From TIME:

It is a measure of how vaporous the ground truths in Iraq have become that George W. Bush had to sneak into the country he conquered. Extra security was needed to proclaim that Iraq was more secure, the surge was working and the country was worth more American blood and treasure.

Bush made the trip in part to pressure a reluctant Congress to permit his 30,000-troop surge, announced in January, to continue a while longer. And yet it was Bush who, during his brief visit to Anbar, hinted openly that troop withdrawals might begin soon.

Americans sense intuitively that Iraq has a way of reducing what was once solid and certain into sand. Lawmakers from both parties expected September to be a month of reckoning for the President's Iraq policy — a stop-or-go moment when the U.S. would decide whether to continue the surge or begin an inevitable pullback. But even before Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker utter a word to Congress, that debate looks almost moot. Bush appears ready to continue the surge for another six months or so, and the Democrats lack the votes to check him. So what will unfold instead in Washington this month is not a debate about the surge but the beginning of a debate about what comes after: How long will the U.S. be in Iraq? (Probably a decade, possibly more.) How many troops will be needed? (Probably 130,000 to start, hopefully less.) What will the mission be after the surge? (Get in line — it's anyone's guess.) Will the Iraqis get their act together? (Not soon, as things stand now.)

The U.S. marched blindly into Iraq, dreaming of Arab democracy, only to create a sinkhole of regional instability. In a pair of epic fiascos, Donald Rumsfeld, Defense Secretary at the time, okayed an invasion force that was probably too small by half — and then agreed with U.S. envoy L. Paul Bremer to cashier the entire Iraqi army two months later.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Is Miss Teen South Carolina the Perfect GOP Presidential Candidate?

From AlterNet:

By now you've probably seen the enormously popular footage of the 17-year-old Lauren Kaitlin Upton, a.k.a. Miss Teen South Carolina, horribly botching a response to a question about how to better improve American kids' geography skills. But Bill Maher does a great little bit here by juxtaposing her answer with Bush's slightly less infamous response to a question about the Native American tribal sovereignty. Maher argues that by GOP standards Miss Upton would make a terrific 2008 candidate for president.

Click to play video (the Bush video follows the S.C. video you have seen, although there is now a transcript).

Republican Woes Run Far Deeper Than Iraq and Bush

Albert R. Hunt writes in Bloomberg:

American Republicans are in bad shape beyond next year's election for basic reasons, aside from the war in Iraq or the unpopularity of the incumbent; almost every important indicator is negative for them.
Among key constituencies, the most worrisome are young voters, the fastest-growing slice of the U.S. electorate and one where lifetime habits are ingrained early. These voters -- 18 to 29 year olds -- are deserting the Republicans.

"If current trends continue, Republicans are in desperate shape with these critical young voters,'' says Frank Fahrenkopf, the party's national chairman during Ronald Reagan's presidency.

The always important enthusiasm quotient -- crowds, volunteers, polls, fund raising -- is all with the Democrats.

Monday, September 03, 2007

In the long term the end of the reign of family values may be a blessing in disguise for the GOP.

From Newsweek:

The woes of Craig and Vitter won't hurt the GOP nationally in 2008. To cause widespread political harm, a scandal must occur within 90 days or so of an election, as Rep. Mark Foley's lewd e-mail messages to underage male staffers did last year.

In the long term, though, the end of the reign of family values may be a blessing in disguise for the GOP. It has tied its fortunes too closely to evangelical Christians, who make up less than one fifth of the American electorate. To expand the party in the new century, Republicans will eventually have to lift their suffocating veil of sanctimony. "First and foremost" for politicians of every stripe are vision, competence and commitment to a particular set of social and economic ideas, not some claim of moral superiority every bit as noxious as garden-variety hypocrisy.

America would be better off if W had followed all of Rove's advice. Rove advised Bush that it was a bad idea to name Cheney as his running mate.

From The Washington Post:

Karl Rove told George W. Bush before the 2000 election that it was a bad idea to name Richard B. Cheney as his running mate, and Rove later raised objections to the nomination of Harriet E. Miers to the Supreme Court, according to a new book on the Bush presidency ["Dead Certain: The Presidency of George Bush" by Robert Draper].

Condoleezza Rice has been transformed by Bush from a foreign policy "realist" to a supporter of Bush's belief in the power of freedom and democracy.

From The Washington Post:

In a private meeting at Camp David on the morning of Friday, Nov. 6, [2004,] the president made his pitch: Colin Powell was out as secretary of state -- though Bush hadn't told him yet -- and the president wanted Rice to take the job.

During Bush's second term, Rice has struggled to guide U.S. foreign policy in a time of turmoil and war. As national security adviser [during Bush's first term], Rice was directly involved in the invasion of Iraq, missed opportunities with Iran and North Korea's nuclear breakout. Now she must loosen the Gordian knots she helped tie.

In this effort, . . . Rice has been transformed by the president she so devotedly serves -- from a hardheaded foreign policy "realist" to a wholehearted supporter of Bush's belief in the power of freedom and democracy.

Rice had a long history as a foreign policy "realist" -- believing that a balance of power among leading states would help ensure stability. As a young academic, she had even disapproved of President Ronald Reagan's moralistic approach to the Soviet Union. In the administration of Bush's father, when Rice was a midlevel staffer for national security adviser Brent Scowcroft, working on German reunification issues, she consistently appeared pragmatic and non-ideological.

A traditional realist would not seek to bring democracy to autocratic allies, instead dealing with regimes as they are. But in the current administration, few officials have appeared to be more fervent believers in the president's message of spreading democracy in the Middle East than Rice, who echoes that message in public and in private.

In May 2005, as Rice departed Baghdad after her first trip to Iraq as secretary, she reflected on all she had seen in Iraq: great rivers, fertile fields, monuments with their sense of history. The nation had oil, water, an educated public. On an impulse, she called Bush.

"Mr. President, this is going to be a great country," she told him.

Longtime Middle East experts in the State Department thought that blind faith in the power of democracy and elections was foolish, and that the only winners would be Islamic extremists.

When Rice met with Saudi journalists in 2005, after delivering a speech in Cairo promoting Middle East democracy, she expressed hope that extremist parties wouldn't do well because voters would care less about jihad than about the practical aspects of governing.

Her prediction proved wrong. In the two most liberal societies in the Middle East -- the Palestinian territories and Lebanon -- militia groups were voted into power: Hamas in the Palestinian territories, and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Rice had shrugged off Israeli warnings about letting Hamas compete in elections without giving up its arms, and she had struggled to contain last summer's devastating war in Lebanon between Israel and Hezbollah. These results, diplomats said, would shape the perception of the United States in the region during Rice's tenure: on the defensive, its influence waning.

"These are scary times we live in," a senior Rice aide said last year. "Nothing's working. We can blame Iran, we can blame North Korea, and we can blame Hezbollah. You can blame them all because they are all terrible people. But at some point you have to ask yourself, are you going about this right?"

How not to get immigration legislation passed: Mexican President Assails U.S. Recent Crackdown On Illegal Immigrants

From The New York Times:

President Felipe Calderón harshly criticized the United States government on Sunday for the recent crackdown on illegal immigrants, saying it has led to the persecution of immigrant workers without visas.

The Bush administration has stepped up raids on factories and farms suspected of hiring illegal workers, imposing heavy fines and deporting a record number of illegal immigrants in 2006.

Criticizing the United States for its treatment of illegal Mexican immigrants has become routine for most Mexican politicians, including Mr. Calderón. Because the immigrants send home about $20 billion a year and because the yearly migration of more than 400,000 people relieves Mexico of masses of the poor, the government here has little incentive either to stem the migration northward or to support stricter measures making it harder for Mexicans to cross the border.

As the United States has stepped up enforcement efforts over the last two years, it has sent more and more Mexican immigrants home, where they have little or no work. Last year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents deported 183,431 people after raids nationwide.

The border patrol, meanwhile, has reported steep declines in apprehensions along the border over the last year, suggesting that fewer people are trying to enter illegally in light of beefed-up patrols and new physical barriers.

Mr. Calderón . . . suggested that the deportation of undocumented immigrants bordered on a violation of human rights, and he vowed to help illegal migrants.

“I have said that Mexico does not stop at its border, that wherever there is a Mexican, there is Mexico,” he said. “And, for this reason, the government action on behalf of our countrymen is guided by principles, for the defense and protection of their rights.”

Last week, Mr. Calderón . . . met with Elvira Arellano, 32, a Mexican who entered the United states illegally and became famous among advocates for Mexican immigrants for defying deportation orders and claiming sanctuary in a Chicago church for a year. In a meeting in his Los Pinos residence, he promised to help Ms. Arellano obtain a visa for the United States.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Democrats to Avoid Florida and Michigan -- Four Early-Primary States Get Candidates to Sign Pledge.

According to The Washington Post:

The Democratic candidates have signed a pledge that would forbid them from campaigning in states such as Michigan and Florida that have sought to move their presidential primaries into January 2008.

Democratic leaders in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, the four states that had been designated by the Democratic National Committee to hold early primaries, demanded in letters Friday that the candidates not participate in the early primaries of other states. The candidates either had to sign the pledge or risk annoying officials in those key states.

Sens. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.) and Christopher J. Dodd (Conn.), along with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, signed the pledge within hours on Friday. By yesterday, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.), and former senator John Edwards of North Carolina, had joined them.

On Aug. 25, the DNC told Florida that its primary would have to be held on or after Feb. 5, or it would lose its delegates to the party's convention in Denver next year. The Republican National Committee has issued similar warnings.

The Democratic candidates signed the pledge after getting caught in the middle of a dispute involving states such as Michigan that have long been frustrated by Iowa and New Hampshire's influence in the primaries.

I did a post entitled "Don't do it Clinton, Obama & Edwards; don't sign the Four State Pledge Letter 2008" on this topic on 8-31-07 that I updated on Saturday and this morning.

Rising pressure from G.O.P. led Sen. Craig to resign. Many Republicans felt they had lost their political margin for error.

From The New York Times:

Although Mr. Craig had pleaded guilty only to disorderly conduct in an airport restroom, . . . it involved allegations of homosexuality and put Mr. Craig’s party in an awkward position, given the rhetoric that Republican strategists often employ on an issue that agitates their party’s base voters.

With the corruption issue having weighed down some of their Congressional candidates in the disastrous 2006 elections, Senate Republicans saw Mr. Craig as inviting even heavier damage, especially on the heels of ethics cases involving two other Republican senators, David Vitter of Louisiana, who was the client of a dubious escort service, and Ted Stevens of Alaska, who faces a widening inquiry into whether he traded official favors.

One Republican senator did privately voice reservations about the rush to force Mr. Craig out, compared to the lack of any public reprimand of Mr. Vitter. This senator and others said the different approach made it appear the party was simply less tolerant of homosexual conduct.

But that was almost certainly a minority view.

President Bush’s weakened political status on Iraq, combined with the reality that 22 Republicans face re-election in 2008 (compared with only 12 Democrats) made the Republican caucus extremely reluctant to weather a protracted ethics investigation into Mr. Craig’s misconduct, which some senators viewed as far more shocking and distasteful than any of the other problems staining their party.

If the Republicans seemed draconian, it was because many of them felt they had lost their political margin for error.

Part of W's Iraq legacy: Taliban have driven government forces out of half of a strategic area in Afghanistan that we declared a success last fall.

From The New York Times:

Over the past six weeks, the Taliban have driven government forces out of roughly half of a strategic area in southern Afghanistan that American and NATO officials declared a success story last fall in their campaign to clear out insurgents and make way for development programs, Afghan officials say.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Former Arkansas GOP Gov. Mike Huckabee and Keith Richards (and President Bill Clinton).

You will enjoy this article in The Washington Post about Mike Huckabee who was named by TIME as one of the nation's five best governors in 2005. He raised his national profile by losing over 100 pounds through diet and exercise, and has been in the news lately by coming in second in the Iowa Straw Poll on August 11.

You will enjoy even more this video on his pardoning Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. Click on this link.

Former Gov. Huckabee having become hip and being swarmed by the media as an affable, compassionate, good guy and rock-and-roll evangelical who plays guitar and wants to hang with the Rolling Stones reminds me of another former Arkansas governor and something that happened in 1992 on the Arsenio Hall show. Do you remember? Do you want to relive it? Click on this link. [UPDATE: This YouTube footage of Clinton playing his saxophone has been removed.]

Immigrant Crackdown Halted -- Judge Delays DHS Plan to Check Social Security Numbers

From The Washington Post:

A federal judge yesterday barred the Bush administration from launching a crackdown Tuesday on U.S. employers who hire illegal immigrants while she considers a lawsuit by the AFL-CIO that charges that the plan will harm citizens and other legal workers.

The order was a victory for the labor federation and the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed suit alleging that DHS is overstepping its authority to enforce immigration laws and is misusing a Social Security Administration database.

[The judge] granted the request for a temporary restraining order against the government, saying the court needs "breathing room" before issuing a decision on the DHS plan. She set a hearing for Oct. 1.

The ruling dealt at least a temporary political setback to President Bush, who announced the workplace initiative Aug. 9 as the centerpiece of a renewed enforcement push.

The scandal surrounding Sen. Craig's expected resignation adds to the difficulties the GOP faces in trying win back control of the Senate in 2008.

From The Washington Post:

Craig's resignation would not affect the makeup of the Senate, because Idaho's governor is expected to appoint another Republican to the seat. But the scandal adds to the difficulties that the GOP faces in trying win back control of the Senate in next year's elections, in which they will have to defend 22 seats, including that of Sen. John W. Warner of Virginia, who announced yesterday that he will retire when his term ends in 2009.