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Cracker Squire


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

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

Thursday, February 28, 2008

All hell could break loose for the Speaker on this one -- On dealing with dissident groups: First, remove the cash from their wallets

From the AJC's Political Insider:

Earlier this week, the state Capitol was flooded by men and women — many of them elected officials — representing the state’s school boards, city governments and county commissions.

All were protesting passage of House Speaker Glenn Richardson’s plan to shift the state from school property taxes to an expanded sales tax.

The Georgia Municipal Association, the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, the Georgia School Boards Association and the Georgia School Superintendents Association all carry a great deal of weight.

H.B. 854 [provides in part]: “No public funds shall be disbursed, either through contract or grant, to any organization which engages in lobbying.”

The influential organizations we named above are largely funded with dues paid by cities, counties and school boards across Georgia.

Sounds like someone’s trying to clear the halls in the Capitol.

With Bloomberg saying he won't run for president, a similar announcement by Nunn is sure to follow. Some great advice to Obama from Hamilton Jordan.

A 12-05-07 post quoted Sam Nunn expressing his frustration over Iraq:

"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."

The previous post noted that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is not going to run for president.

I take it as a given that we can rest assured that the possibility of Nunn running -- which he always emphasized was "a possibility, not a probability" -- has gone from a possibility to a definitely not.

This frees him up to be a part of the Obama administration, something that would be great for America.

Hamilton Jordan has recent article in Newsweek that mentions Nunn becoming Secretary of State for Obama. Of course we remember Jordan was a top adviser to President Jimmy Carter during the 1976 campaign and later served as Carter's White House Chief of Staff. Jordan writes:

What if Obama, in the next 30 to 60 days:

* Says he will name Independent Mike Bloomberg as his "domestic czar," given broad authority and charged with reconciling our country's fiscal mess with our domestic needs and opportunities. Bloomberg is a highly talented leader and visionary who has been tremendously successful in business and in politics. Bloomberg deserves a much larger stage to perform on. He might or might not want the portfolio of Secretary of Treasury, but having a person of his experience on the Obama team would reassure Wall Street and reinforce Obama's message of bringing all Americans together, regardless of party affiliation, to bring about change.

* Says he will name mainstream Democrat Sam Nunn, highly respected former senator and expert on defense issues and foreign policy (who has traveled the world for the past decade trying to contain the spread of nuclear weapons) to be his choice for Secretary of State. Here is a man who can go toe to toe with John McCain on any defense or foreign policy issue and enjoys the respect and admiration of foreign leaders around the world.

* Says he will name retiring Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel, from Nebraska, war hero, successful businessman and thoughtful critic of the Iraq War, to be his Secretary of Defense to rebuild our nation's military power.

Sooner rather than later Sen. Obama must challenge McCain's view of U.S. interests in the world and convince general election voters that he has the means and the talent to implement his coherent vision and strategy. And he must buttress himself from attacks that will inevitably challenge his foreign policy bona fides. Who better to do it than an A-team of extremely experienced, competent, and tested professionals?

Suddenly the dynamics would change. It would no longer be the war hero versus the young community organizer and attorney. It would be John McCain and an old view of the world versus Team Obama—the best minds and combined experiences in U.S. politics—advocating Obama's new vision of U.S. political, military and economic interests in the world.

Listen up Obama. You are close to winning the nomination, and your primary campaign operation has been truly brillant. But the above is some of the best advice that you might ever receive about how to assure that we win the general election in November.

Bloomberg: "I am not — and will not be — a candidate for president."

New York Mayor Bloomberg writes in The New York Times:

In the weeks and months ahead, I will continue to work to steer the national conversation away from partisanship and toward unity; away from ideology and toward common sense; away from sound bites and toward substance. . . . If a candidate takes an independent, nonpartisan approach — and embraces practical solutions that challenge party orthodoxy — I’ll join others in helping that candidate win the White House.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

U.S. Steps Up Deportation Of Immigrant Criminals

From The Washington Post:

Immigration officials are increasingly scouring jails and courts nationwide and reviewing years-old criminal records to identify deportable immigrants, efforts that have contributed to a steep rise in deportations and strained the immigration court system.

Long accused of failing to do enough to deport illegal immigrants convicted of crimes, federal authorities have recently strengthened partnerships with local corrections systems and taken other steps to monitor immigrants facing charges, officials said.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I like Howard Fineman. He writes: "Hillary's last stand -- Tonight's MSNBC debate is make or break for a candidacy on the brink"

Howard Fineman of Newsweek writes on MSNBC:

In many ways, tonight is Sen. Hillary Clinton’s last stand.

There is a gathering sense in the media that Obama has gotten something of a free ride.

But, fair or not, it is still up to the Clinton campaign to slow that train’s momentum before it is too late, which it almost is.

This is the time and place for the former first lady to pull out all the stops.

How can Hillary stop Obama?

Comparing his lack of foreign policy experience and knowledge to that of a certain Texas governor named George W. Bush probably won't work for Clinton.

That's because she voted to authorize his war in 2002.

Calling herself the working girl’s friend in Ohio also might might not work for Clinton.

That's because she was, at best, silent about the job-destroying trade agreements her husband championed while he occupied the White House.

Clinton also faces three additional tactical problems.

Among likely Ohio Democratic voters, she is regarded very favorably in recent polls.

But among the rest of the electorate, in this state and elsewhere, Clinton remains, as they say, a polarizing figure. A recent USA TODAY/Gallup poll puts her "unfavorable" rating at 48 percent.

And it is a general rule of politics that attacks by unpopular candidates do not work.

They also generally don't work in the last days of a campaign, because they are too easily dismissed as an act of desperation.

And last, Obama has built a truly multi-racial, multi-generational coalition of supporters. Obama can easily turn an attack on him into an attack on THEM. He's done it before.

Clinton faces bitter ironies wherever she goes these days.

And tonight is no exception. Her last confrontation with Obama could very well be in Ohio. It was there, in 1991, her husband took his first real steps toward the presidency. And it's where Clinton's quest may end.

Some 15 years ago, Bill Clinton began his rise to the top as a pro-business centrist. In Cleveland, he assumed the chairmanship of an organization called the Democratic Leadership Council.

The DLC was pro-free trade, not opposed to tax cuts, and pledged to ignore the ethnic, regional and union politics that they believed had hampered the Democratic Party in the 1980s.

To prove a point in Cleveland, the DLC refused to allow the Rev. Jesse Jackson to speak at its proceedings, relegating him to a church basement in a poor neighborhood.

The DLC was derided by some, including Jackson, as the “white guy caucus.”

Seventeen years later, Clinton is making her last stand, in Ohio, by positioning herself as the champion of the forgotten working family...and she's running as fast as she can from the free-trade agreements that were the hallmark of her husband and the DLC.

Even more ironic than that, an African-American candidate, supported by Jackson and, now, most other black leaders, is poised to lock up the Democratic nomination.

And he's doing it by attacking Clinton from BOTH the left and the right simultaneously.

Obama is criticizing Bill Clinton's trade agreements as giveaways to corporate America, and at the same time argues that his wife's health care plan smacks of draconian "Big Government."

In December, I wrote that Clinton’s campaign was teetering on the brink. It was...and it is.

But, even despite a somewhat poorly run campaign, her predicament, in many ways, is not her fault.

The world has changed in too many ways for her to deal with.

In 1991, Bill Clinton had it all figured out: run as a moderate Democrat against the tide of Reagan conservatism.

But she's never had a similarly clear theory, other than it was her turn and that she was “in it to win it.”

For the first Clinton, Cleveland was the right place at the right time.

Will it be for the second Clinton?

Hard to know, but hard to imagine.

The evidence is overwhelming that since Super Tuesday, the minute that Clinton steps foot in a state, her numbers start to plummet.

Richard Cohen writes in The Washington Post:

Big-money Democrats have been on the phone of late, and their conversations have been on how to get Clinton out of the race. Some of these Democrats were tepid Clinton backers to begin with, wishing to go with the presumed winner or responding to the soft extortion of Bill Clinton and his allies. But others were sincerely committed and now fear that the Clintons, she and he, will not know how to lose -- and will take the Democratic Party down with them.

My cards are already on the table. I don't think that Clinton can win the nomination, but even if she does, I don't think she will win the general election. That would become apparent as she starts to campaign in states that have yet to see her. The harder she works, the worse she does.

Democratic Governors See McCain As Formidable -- They Cite His Life Story, His Appeal to Independents

From The Washington Post:

Democratic governors from states likely to help decide the 2008 presidential election see Republican Sen. John McCain as a potentially formidable opponent whose life story and reputation for political independence make him a threat in November, despite conditions that they say now favor their nominee.

Obama’s Support Grows Broader, New Polls Find

From The New York Times:

In the past two months, Senator Barack Obama has built a commanding coalition among Democratic voters, with especially strong support among men, and is now viewed by most Democrats as the candidate best able to beat Senator John McCain in the general election, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.

For the first time in a Times/CBS poll, [Mr. Obama] moved ahead of Mrs. Clinton nationally, with 54 percent of Democratic primary voters saying they wanted to see him nominated, while 38 percent preferred Mrs. Clinton. A USA Today/Gallup Poll released Monday showed a similar result, 51 percent for Mr. Obama to 39 percent for Mrs. Clinton.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hillary is trying to assume the populist mantle of Edwards, whom she described in December as "screaming" in his critiques of special interests.

Do you remember President Bill Clinton saying a couple of months ago he was against the invasion of Iraq, and everyone thinking, he was . . ., he never told anyone.

This weekend we learn that Hillary was opposed to NAFTA. She was? Says who? Oh, President Clinton says she was.

From The Washington Post:

Blasting "companies shamelessly turning their backs on Americans" by shipping jobs overseas . . . , Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton increasingly sounds like one of her old Democratic rivals, former senator John Edwards of North Carolina.

Obama continued to emphasize over the weekend that Clinton was part of the White House that pushed the North American Free Trade Agreement through Congress and highlighted remarks Clinton made in support of the deal.

On Saturday, Clinton charged Obama with sending out a mailer that unfairly quoted her as saying that NAFTA had been a "boon" for America, a word that Obama acknowledged Clinton had not used. But the senator from Illinois kept up his attack on Sunday while speaking to dozens of workers at a gypsum plant in Lorain, Ohio.

"Yesterday, Senator Clinton also said I'm wrong to point out that she once supported NAFTA. But the fact is, she was saying great things about NAFTA until she started running for president. A couple years after it passed, she said NAFTA was a 'free and fair trade agreement' and that it was 'proving its worth.' And in 2004, she said, 'I think, on balance, NAFTA has been good for New York state and America.' "

The senator from New York has tried to distance herself from NAFTA, which is unpopular among workers in manufacturing who believe the deal has contributed to the movement of jobs overseas. In Ohio on Saturday, Clinton argued that while NAFTA "passed" during husband Bill Clinton's administration in 1993, President George H.W. Bush actually "negotiated" the deal. Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D), a Clinton backer, told Bloomberg News this weekend that Bill Clinton told him Hillary Clinton had opposed NAFTA in 1993.

In Lorain, Obama blamed NAFTA for the loss of 1 million jobs since 1994, including 50,000 in the Buckeye State, and ridiculed Clinton's efforts to distance herself from the trade deal. "It was her own husband who got NAFTA passed," Obama said. "In her own book, Senator Clinton called NAFTA one of 'Bill's successes' and 'legislative victories.' "

European countries do not give citizenship to anyone born on its soil of illegal immigrants.

From The New York Times:

The United States is the rare country that gives immediate citizenship to the children born inside its borders, whether their immigrant parents are legal residents or not. A 2007 bill to end the practice, which stems from the 14th Amendment, drew nearly 100 Congressional co-sponsors, though legal scholars have traditionally argued that a change would require a constitutional amendment.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A newspaper from the Other Georgia speaks out: Richardson needs to bow out

From The Valdosta Daily Times:

[Various] columnists, newspapers, organizations, and individuals chastise Richardson for his conduct and proposals, but they all fall short.

Let us be the first to suggest what will hopefully become the next trend in regards to Richardson.

Glenn Richardson should step down.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Uh-oh. The McCain story may be getting legs; McCain Disputed On 1999 Meeting

Last Wednesday McCain held a press conference and described lobbyist Vicki Iseman as his "friend." Doesn't McCain recall what President Truman said about friends in Washington? Truman said: "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog." Based on the following article, the Iseman story may be getting some legs.

From The Washington Post:

Broadcaster Lowell "Bud" Paxson yesterday contradicted statements from Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign that the senator did not meet with Paxson or his lobbyist before sending two controversial letters to the Federal Communications Commission on Paxson's behalf.

Paxson said he talked with McCain in his Washington office several weeks before the Arizona Republican wrote the letters in 1999 to the FCC urging a rapid decision on Paxson's quest to acquire a Pittsburgh television station.

Paxson also recalled that his lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, likely attended the meeting in McCain's office and that Iseman helped arrange the meeting. "Was Vicki there? Probably," Paxson said in an interview with The Washington Post yesterday. "The woman was a professional. She was good. She could get us meetings."

The recollection of the now-retired Paxson conflicted with the account provided by the McCain campaign about the two letters at the center of a controversy about the senator's ties to Iseman, a partner at the lobbying firm of Alcalde & Fay.

New Tactics to Control Immigration Are Unveiled

The government unveiled its "virtual fence" along the Mexican border but said it doesn't plan to expand the 28-mile Boeing project. See The New York Times:

Next week, civil fines for employers who hire illegal immigrants will increase by 25 percent, the officials said. Current fines are $2,200 for a first offense and up to $10,000 for repeat offenses.

The Justice Department plans more aggressive prosecution of illegal immigrants and employers who hire them, adding about 50 federal prosecutors in border states. . . .

The administration is pushing ahead to extend fencing at the 2,000-mile Mexican border despite skepticism from many sides. Opponents of illegal immigration argue that the virtual fence technology is flawed and ineffective, while many officials and residents in border states say that real fences are expensive and block access to land and water for ranchers and farmers, but do little to stop illegal border crossers.

After a year of trial and error, Mr. Chertoff said, border authorities have approved and are ready to use a suite of surveillance equipment that has been called P-28, because it was tested along 28 miles of border near Tucson. The technology, manufactured on a $20 million contract by Boeing, includes ground sensors and cameras mounted on 90-foot-high towers that relay images directly to Border Patrol command centers and vehicles.

[For an article discussing flaws in the virtual fence, see The Wall Street Journal.]

As part of a $2 billion investment in border enforcement projects over the next two years, the administration will also use up to 40 mobile ground radars and six unmanned aerial surveillance drones, Mr. Chertoff said.

In a few high-traffic border areas, federal prosecutors have started to bring charges — misdemeanors, in most cases — against all immigrants caught entering illegally, holding most in jail. Previously, illegal crossers who agreed to leave the country voluntarily were not prosecuted.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Unlike Michelle Obama, most of us weren’t born into the privileged, but we love and are proud of our country anyway, every day.

Peggy Noonan writes in The Wall Street Journal:

[In Michelle Obama's speech] she said that for the first time in her adult life she is proud of her country, because Obama is winning. She later repeated it, then tried to explain it, saying of course she loves her country. But damage was done. Why? Because her statement focused attention on what I suspect are some basic and elementary questions that were starting to bubble out there anyway.

Here are a few of them.

Are the Obamas, at bottom, snobs? Do they understand America? Are they of it? Did anyone at their Ivy League universities school them in why one should love America? Do they confuse patriotism with nationalism, or nativism? Are they more inspired by abstractions like "international justice" than by old visions of America as the city on a hill, which is how John Winthrop saw it, and Ronald Reagan and JFK spoke of it?

Have they been, throughout their adulthood, so pampered and praised--so raised in the liberal cocoon--that they are essentially unaware of what and how normal Americans think? And are they, in this, like those cosseted yuppies, the Clintons?

Why is all this actually not a distraction but a real issue? Because Americans have common sense and are bottom line. They think like this. If the president and his first lady are not loyal first to America and its interests, who will be? The president of France? But it's his job to love France, and protect its interests. If America's leaders don't love America tenderly, who will?

And there is a context. So many Americans right now fear they are losing their country, that the old America is slipping away and being replaced by something worse, something formless and hollowed out. They can see we are giving up our sovereignty, that our leaders will not control our borders, that we don't teach the young the old-fashioned love of America, that the government has taken to itself such power, and made things so complex, and at the end of the day when they count up sales tax, property tax, state tax, federal tax they are paying a lot of money to lose the place they loved.

And if you feel you're losing America, you really don't want a couple in the White House whose rope of affection to the country seems lightly held, casual, provisional. America is backing Barack at the moment, so America is good. When it becomes angry with President Barack, will that mean America is bad?

Michelle Obama seems keenly aware of her struggles, of what it took to rise so high as a black woman in a white country. Fair enough. But I have wondered if it is hard for young African-Americans of her generation, having been drilled in America's sad racial history, having been told about it every day of their lives, to fully apprehend the struggles of others. I wonder if she knows that some people look at her and think "Man, she got it all." Intelligent, strong, tall, beautiful, Princeton, Harvard, black at a time when America was trying to make up for its sins and be helpful, and from a working-class family with two functioning parents who made sure she got to school.

That's the great divide in modern America, whether or not you had a functioning family, and she apparently came from the privileged part of that divide. A lot of white working-class Americans didn't come up with those things. Some of them were raised by a TV and a microwave and love our country anyway, every day.

Does Mrs. Obama know this? I don't know. If she does, love and gratitude for the place that tries to give everyone an equal shot would seem to be in order.

Anti-lobbyist McCain -- 2000 is a long time ago, but if this story gets legs, McCain's credibility (because of lobbying factor) will suffer immensely

David Brooks comments in The New York Times on John McCain’s relationship with female lobbyist Vicki Iseman:

At his press conference Thursday, McCain went all-in. He didn’t just say he didn’t remember a meeting about Iseman. He said there was no meeting. If it turns out that there is evidence of an affair and a meeting, then his presidential hopes will be over. If no evidence surfaces, his campaign will go on . . . .

And The Washington Post has this story entitled "The Anti-Lobbyist, Advised by Lobbyists" in today's paper:

For years, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has railed against lobbyists and the influence of "special interests" in Washington, touting on his campaign Web site his fight against "the 'revolving door' by which lawmakers and other influential officials leave their posts and become lobbyists for the special interests they have aided."

But when McCain huddled with his closest advisers at his rustic Arizona cabin last weekend to map out his presidential campaign, virtually every one was part of the Washington lobbying culture he has long decried. His campaign manager, Rick Davis, co-founded a lobbying firm whose clients have included Verizon and SBC Telecommunications. His chief political adviser, Charles R. Black Jr., is chairman of one of Washington's lobbying powerhouses, BKSH and Associates, which has represented AT&T, Alcoa, JPMorgan and U.S. Airways.

Senior advisers Steve Schmidt and Mark McKinnon work for firms that have lobbied for Land O' Lakes, UST Public Affairs, Dell and Fannie Mae.

McCain's relationship with lobbyists became an issue this week after it was reported that his aides asked Vicki Iseman, a telecom lobbyist, to distance herself from his 2000 presidential campaign because it would threaten McCain's reputation for independence. An angry and defiant McCain denounced the stories yesterday, declaring: "At no time have I ever done anything that would betray the public trust."

"He has a closer relationship with lobbyists than he lets on," said Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "The problem for McCain being so closely associated with lobbyists is that he's the candidate most closely associated with attacking lobbyists."

McCain's reliance on lobbyists for key jobs -- both in the Senate and in his presidential campaign -- extends beyond his inner circle. McCain recently hired Mark Buse to be his Senate chief of staff. Buse led the Commerce Committee staff in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and was until last fall a lobbyist for ML Strategies, representing eBay, Goldman Sachs Group, Cablevision, Tenneco and Novartis Pharmaceuticals.

McCain's top fundraising official is former congressman Tom Loeffler (R-Tex.), who heads a lobbying law firm called the Loeffler Group. He has counseled the Saudis as well as Southwest Airlines, AT&T, Toyota and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

Public Citizen, a group that monitors campaign fundraising, has found that McCain has more bundlers -- people who gather checks from networks of friends and associates -- from the lobbying community than any other presidential candidate from either party.

"The potential harm is that should Senator McCain become elected, those people will have a very close relationship with the McCain White House," Sloan said. "[That] would be very helpful for their clients, and that would give them a leg up on everybody else."

McCain has long sought to defend his associations with lobbyists, stressing that friendships with them do not influence his independent judgment when it comes to legislative action.

Last night's debate in Texas and Hillary's closing comment: It struke me as a concession moment and comment.

“You know, no matter what happens in this contest, I am honored to be here with Barack Obama. I am absolutely honored. You know, whatever happens, we’re going to be fine.”

A little history: Only two sitting senators were ever elected president.

From Political Junkie by Ken Rudin:

When was the last time two incumbent senators squared off for the presidency?

A: Never before. As it is, only two sitting senators were ever elected president: Warren Harding (R-OH) in 1920 and John Kennedy (D-MA) in 1960.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Months of regular debates between the Democratic rivals have registered only tiny blips in the opinion polls. But some have made a big difference.

From The Wall Street Journal.

Who is calling the shots in the Clinton camp, President Clinton or Hillary? If she suffers a loss on March 4 and continues, we might find out.

Yesterday former President Bill Clinton told an audience in Texas:

"If she wins Texas and Ohio [on March 4], I think she will be the nominee. If you don't deliver for her, I don't think she can be."

Karl Rove on Obama's "New Vulnerability." -- I wonder if Hillary will use any of this tonight in the Texas debate.

From The Wall Street Journal:

In campaigns, there are sometimes moments when candidates shift ground, causing the race to change dramatically. Tuesday night was one of those moments.

Perhaps in response to criticisms that have been building in recent days, Mr. Obama pivoted Tuesday from his usual incantations. He dropped the pretense of being a candidate of inspiring but undescribed "post-partisan" change. Until now, Mr. Obama has been making appeals to the center, saying, for example, that we are not red or blue states, but the United States. But in his Houston speech, he used the opportunity of 45 (long) minutes on national TV to advocate a distinctly non-centrist, even proudly left-wing, agenda.

Mr. McCain can now question Mr. Obama's promise to change Washington by working across party lines. Mr. Obama hasn't worked across party lines since coming to town. Was he a member of the "Gang of 14" that tried to find common ground between the parties on judicial nominations? Was Mr. Obama part of the bipartisan leadership that tackled other thorny issues like energy, immigration or terrorist surveillance legislation? No. Mr. Obama has been one of the most dependably partisan votes in the Senate.

Mrs. Clinton can do much more to draw attention to Mr. Obama's lack of achievements. She can agree with Mr. Obama's statement Tuesday night that change is difficult to achieve on health care, energy, poverty, schools and immigration -- and then question his failure to provide any leadership on these or other major issues since his arrival in the Senate. His failure to act, advocate or lead on what he now claims are his priorities may be her last chance to make a winning argument.

Mr. McCain gets a chance to question Mr. Obama's declaration he won't be beholden to lobbyists and special interests. After Mr. Obama's laundry list of agenda items on Tuesday night, Mr. McCain can ask why, if Mr. Obama rejects the influence of lobbyists, has he not broken with any lobbyists from the left fringe of the Democratic Party? Why is he doing their bidding on a range of issues? Perhaps because he occupies the same liberal territory as they do.

The truth is that Mr. Obama is unwilling to challenge special interests if they represent the financial and political muscle of the Democratic left. He says yes to the lobbyists of the AFL-CIO when they demand card-check legislation to take away the right of workers to have a secret ballot in unionization efforts, or when they oppose trade deals. He won't break with trial lawyers, even when they demand the ability to sue telecom companies that make it possible for intelligence agencies to intercept communications between terrorists abroad. And he is now going out of his way to proclaim fidelity to the educational unions. This is a disappointment since he'd earlier indicated an openness to education reform. Mr. Obama backs their agenda down the line, even calling for an end to testing, which is the only way parents can know with confidence whether their children are learning and their schools working.

These stands represent not just policy vulnerabilities, but also a real danger to Mr. Obama's credibility and authenticity. He cannot proclaim his goal is the end of influence for lobbies if the only influences he seeks to end are lobbies of the center and the right.

Unlike Bill Clinton in 1992, Mr. Obama is completely unwilling to confront the left wing of the Democratic Party, no matter how outrageous its demands, no matter how out of touch it might be with the American people. And Tuesday night, in a key moment in this race, he dropped the pretense that his was a centrist agenda. His agenda is the agenda of the Democratic left.

The road to the presidency just got steeper for Barack Obama, and all because he pivoted on Tuesday night.

After her ninth and 10th defeats in a row on Tuesday in Wisconsin and Hawaii, Hillary is running out of time.

From The New York Times:

Mrs. Clinton woke up Wednesday to the realization that she had lost nearly every advantage she once could claim over Mr. Obama: money, momentum, a lead in national polls and an edge in delegates. Polls suggest that Democrats now view Mr. Obama as more electable than Mrs. Clinton.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

For McCain, Self-Confidence on Ethics Poses Its Own Risk

From The New York Times:

John McCain’s relationship with a female lobbyist underscores a paradox: Even as he embraces high ethical standards, his confidence in his own integrity sometimes seems to blind him to potential conflicts of interest.

More on the Michelle Obama comment: Food for thought from someone I never agree with (& don't on all he says, especially the last paragraph).

Last night when I learned about Michelle Obama's "for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country" comment, I did a post urging her to "apologize to her country or otherwise clarify what in the world she could have meant and get it behind her."

Today the AJC's Political Insider shares the following comments from Ralph Reed, the former Georgia GOP chairman:

“The reason why I think this isn’t going to go away, unless she apologizes quickly, is because it plays into a stereotype about the left wing of the Democratic Party, that it blames America first, that they don’t see the greatness of America, and it really makes me wonder if somebody who is roughly about Barack and Michelle’s age, what country she grew up in.

“I mean, I was proud of America when we won the Cold War and the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union disintegrated. I was proud when we expelled Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. I was proud when we liberated 50 million people from the Taliban of Saddam Hussein. I was proud when we provided humanitarian aid to the victims of an earthquake in Iran and to a tsunami in Asia.

“I think the other thing it does is it plays into this weakness that’s developing that the Obama candidacy is sort of a modern political equivalent of Beatle mania rather than a legitimate aspiration to be commander-in-chief.”

The likely nexus between comments of Obama and Gov. Deval Patrick.

Dana Milbank writes in The Washington Post about the likely nexus in the nearly word for word and without attribution comments of Obama and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and, to a lesser extent, Obama and John Edwards:

The likely nexus: top Obama adviser [and strategist] David Axelrod, who played a similar role for Patrick in 2006 and for Edwards in 2004 . . . authored many of the phrases the candidate borrowed from Edwards and Patrick . . . .

Michelle Obama standing by her man.

From The Chicago Sun-Times on Michelle Obama's " for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country" comment:

Words matter.

They always have.

Hillary Clinton learned that the hard way back in 1992.

At 44, Michelle Obama would seem to be the poster child for opportunity in America. A daughter of the South Side possessing immense talent and discipline, she went from Princeton to Harvard to a silk-stocking Chicago law firm to public service and on to a six-figure job at one of Chicago's premier hospitals.

Along the way, was there honestly nothing that made her heart swell with pride about this country?

I can't believe that.

Then again, would-be first ladies, even those who graduated at the top of their class, can flunk a test or two.

Hillary Clinton did 16 years ago, when she stuck a foot in her feminist mouth.

In the wake of growing rumors about her husband's philandering, Hillary Clinton dismissed it all by declaring she was no shrinking violet, no "stand by your man Tammy Wynette" type of woman. And she also defended her professional life as a lawyer by saying she wasn't the kind to stay at home, bake cookies and give teas.

It wasn't pretty. And even though her words resonated with those who felt women had been too long treated like second-class citizens in this country, there were many more who thought what she said was nothing short of a slam at stay-at-home-moms and basic American family values, the tone-deaf diss of a privileged person.

Michelle Obama now faces the same challenge and the same criticism.

While there are most certainly Americans who will hear her words as a simple expression of pride that Barack Obama's political trajectory is breaking once-unbreakable barriers, there will be plenty of others who consider it a dismissive slap at a country that has provided wide horizons for many of its citizens, including her.

In 1992, UPI's legendary White House reporter Helen Thomas observed, "Wives of candidates who express their opinions are more interesting than those who think they should be seen and not heard. But there are pitfalls to those who speak out."

Today we know, thanks to Bill Clinton's lack of restraint in South Carolina, that this now also applies to husbands and former presidents.

McCain's wife, Cindy, earlier in the day offered her own not-so-oblique criticism of Michelle Obama when she spoke of her own long-standing pride in America. And John McCain followed up last night, pointedly telling supporters how "proud, proud of the privilege" he felt as a citizen of this country. "I owe America," he said, "more than it will ever owe me."

This will be a long, hard, gloves-off battle for the White House, and don't be surprised to see Michelle Obama's words landing in a campaign commercial somewhere along the line.

The danger in these campaigns is that the roar of the crowd and a sense of righteous mission can trip up even the smartest candidates or their spouses.

Words matter -- and lurk like land mines the closer we get to November.

Can he do it? Yes he can! -- In a state in which nearly 9 in 10 Democratic voters are white, Obama won more than 6 in 10 of the votes of white men.

From The Washington Post:

After the Super Tuesday primaries two weeks ago, Sen. Barack Obama faced continuing questions about the support he could draw from lower-income white voters and those with less education, who had to that point proved to be the bedrock of support for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

But yesterday the senator from Illinois broke deep into Clinton's base in Wisconsin. He solidified gains he made in last week's Potomac Primary, proving competitive among some key Wisconsin voting blocs that had been backing the senator from New York and overtaking her among others.

In a state in which nearly 9 in 10 Democratic voters are white, Obama won more than 6 in 10 of the votes of white men, while Clinton held only a narrow edge among white women. And he defeated her by double-digit margins among those voters with family incomes less than $50,000 and among those without college degrees, exit polling shows.

McCain's rise may upset Democrats' western strategy -- McCain during debates would say "illegal immigrants are all 'children of God.'"

From The Washington Post:

For Democrats, 2008 was supposed to be the year of the Mountain West, when three years of relentless Republican attacks on undocumented immigrants would fuel a backlash among Hispanics that would change the playing field in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, and perhaps alter the landscape of presidential politics for a generation.

But the emergence of Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) as the likely standard-bearer for the GOP may have scrambled the equation, cooling a potential political revolt among Hispanics and sending Democrats in search of a new playbook.

In consecutive presidential elections, the Democrats have fallen just short of the electoral college votes needed to take the White House. Ohio or Florida could have put them over the top, but this year, Democrats are looking west for those gains. The Democratic National Committee chose Denver as the site of its August nominating convention, and the party moved the Nevada caucuses to the front of the election calendar.

The Hispanic electorate has nearly doubled since President Bush's first election, from 7.5 million in 2000 to an estimated 14 million this year . . . .

McCain, whose name sits beside that of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's on comprehensive immigration reform legislation, has consistently won a majority of Latinos in his home state. And he countered the more heated rhetoric of his competitors for the GOP nomination with a declaration that illegal immigrants are all "children of God."

What McCain is saying has changed. Whereas once he firmly said that no immigration legislation could work unless it twinned tougher border enforcement with a guest-worker program and a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, he now maintains that sealing the border must come first.

In a closed-door meeting with House Republicans last week, he again assured conservatives that he had gotten the message. He had been beaten up badly on the immigration issue, participants said he told them, and understands that the nation's borders must be sealed and independently certified as under control before the next president even considers any further steps.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Michelle Obama: Get a script and stick to it or zip it. This was not your best day, and for the record, you owe your country an apology.

Michelle Obama to a Milwaukee audience yesterday while stumping for Obama said: "And let me tell you something -- for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country."

We will be exposed to this statement by Michelle Obama as much as we were to Kerry's "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it."

I have been hoping Obama would not screw up; I never thought it would be his wife who would make a big mistake.

Will it rise to the level of Kerry's statement at the Grand Canyon where, in this one appearance, he uttered words that may have cost him the presidency? Here you recall Kerry said that, in hindsight, he still would have voted to authorize the war in Iraq, even if he had known then that the U.S. and allied forces would not find weapons of mass destruction.

I don't think so, but it was a major mistake, and she needs to apologize to her country or otherwise clarify what in the world she could have meant and get it behind her.

White Men Hold Key for Democrats --Contest May Hinge on Blue-Collar Vote; Opening for McCain?

From The Wall Street Journal:

In a Democratic presidential nomination race that pits a black man against a woman, the victor may well be determined by white men.

The working-class white men who toil in the steel mills and auto plants here are part of a volatile cohort that has long helped steer the nation's political course. Once, blue-collar males were the bedrock of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal coalition. They became "Reagan Democrats," helping to propel Ronald Reagan into office in the 1980s. Bill Clinton won many of them back to the Democratic Party in 1992. Two years later they were "angry white males," resentful of affirmative action and the women's movement, who helped Republicans capture Congress.

Now this group of voters is set to help determine the Democratic nominee, and the next occupant of the White House. Working-class white men make up nearly one-quarter of the electorate, outnumbering African-American and Hispanic voters combined. As the Democratic primary race intensifies, some of these white men are finding it hard to identify with the remaining two candidates, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama.

"It seems like someone else should be there," says Dan Leihgeber, a smelter in a steel plant here, who is supporting Sen. Clinton. "It's like there's someone missing."

As the Democratic race moves toward primaries in blue-collar strongholds -- today in Wisconsin, Ohio on March 4 and Pennsylvania on April 22 -- the allegiance of blue-collar men is up for grabs. While Sen. Clinton runs strongly among working-class women, she and Sen. Obama are perceived equally favorably among working-class men, according to a January Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. The two candidates have seesawed among blue-collar men in the primaries: Sen. Clinton won them in Georgia, Missouri and New York, while Sen. Obama captured the working-class male vote in New Hampshire, California, Maryland and Virginia.

Blue-collar men could also emerge as an important swing constituency in November -- either backing the Democrats' eventual nominee, or shifting to some degree toward Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, whose war record and straight-talking approach could make him appealing to many working-class men.

Hillary & Obama need to avoid taking positions that will give them problems in the general election or expose them to a severe business backlash.

From The New York Times:

Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama intensified their populist appeals on Monday, responding to widespread economic anxiety and pushing the Democratic Party further from the business-friendly posture once championed by Bill Clinton.

The two candidates’ tone was driven in part by the prospect of a recession, which has in recent weeks shifted the focus of the presidential contest from war and terrorism to concerns much closer to home: jobs, foreclosures, energy and health care costs.

It also reflected the dynamics and calendar of the Democratic race over the next two weeks. Ohio looms particularly large for both Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton because it is experiencing many of the troubles afflicting the economy over all.

Ever since Mr. Clinton’s election as president in 1992, the Democratic Party has been divided over how to balance economic policy between initiatives intended to promote economic growth and those intended to help workers. Mr. Clinton entered the White House as a supporter of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council’s stance that the party could not be antibusiness, and his signature economic policies were deficit reduction, trade expansion, tax credits to promote work and tighter restrictions on welfare.

Monday, February 18, 2008

It all depends; are we talking about America or Texas?

It seems that one's view of the the proper role of superdelegates may depend on geography -- put another way, exactly where are we talking about, the country as a whole of the State of Texas.

If we are talking about the USofA, then according to remarks this past Saturday by one of the top strategists in the Clinton camp Harold Ickes in countering the recent claims of some prominent Democrats that party elders would be wrong to override the will of their constituents in their choice for the Democratic presidential nominee, superdelegates who could decide the party’s White House nominee were as much or “potentially more in touch” with the issues important to voters than the delegates amassed by the candidates through state primaries and caucuses. (See The Hill.)

On the other hand, if we are talking about Texas, that is a different story. The Washington Post notes the following:

Supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton are worried that . . . "[Hillary] could win the popular vote [in Texas] and still lose the race for delegates. This system does not necessarily represent the opinions of the population, and that is a serious problem," said one of Hillary's Texas supporters.

In Texas Clinton's base in the Democratic Party is broader than in any other state.

From The Washington Post:

"My guess is, in Texas [Clinton's] base in the Democratic Party is broader than in any other state that I can think of," said Henry G. Cisneros, who . . . served as housing secretary in her husband's administration. Referring to a former Texas governor, he said: "They have good ties to the Ann Richards liberals. They have good ties to labor in Houston. Good ties to some of the Democratic money in Dallas. Good ties traditionally to the African American community -- though it won't be as helpful -- and good ties to the Latino community."

Sunday, February 17, 2008

What a great column on annexation in Macon; and the message applies to so many cities: Are you in or out?

Charles Richardson pens another classic in The Macon Telegraph:

Oh woe, Mayor Robert Reichert has unveiled a plan to annex a 26-square mile area of Bibb County where 13,300 people live comfortably ensconced.

Some folks are going bonkers, and I'm surprised they're surprised. Mayor Reichert is doing exactly what he said he'd do during his campaign. Imagine that, a politician who actually tries to do what he said he'd do?

One quote in Friday's paper really puzzled me. State Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, said he had heard from a "lot of people" and they were "overwhelmingly against" annexation. Peake said, "a lot are saying, 'we moved to the county to get out of the city.'"

If I had been Peake, I would have probed a bit deeper. I would have asked, "How can you get away from the city by moving to the county?" I wonder where those "lots of people" work, inside or outside city limits? I would have asked those lots of folks if they could survive without Macon's infrastructure? What roads would they drive on and where would they shop? And here's the biggie. How would the county attract business development without the city being here?

There are plenty of questions to ask, such as do they favor streamlined, efficient governments, ones that don't send trash trucks down one side of the street on one day and the other side of the street the next? I would have also asked: "What did they think of Warner Robins' growth? And did they realize annexation was the prime tool Mayor Donald Walker used to grow that city's tax base and in the process, lower taxes?

Some people who would be affected by annexation are now touting the values of consolidation/unification. Yes, consolidation/unification is what needs to happen, but residents have never been on that bandwagon. Until annexation talk fired up, consolidation was a nasty word hardly repeated in polite company.

A little consolidation history. There were two study groups in the 1920s, starting in 1923. Three study groups in the '30s, two each in the '40s, '50 and '60s, three in the 1970s, five in the '80s and three in the 1990s, the last being in 1998. Votes were taken in 1933, 1947, 1960, 1972 and 1976. They all failed.

State Sen. Robert Brown and former Bibb Chairman Larry Justice proposed consolidation measures to the Legislature. In 1997, then state Rep. Reichert, tried and failed. Though former mayor C. Jack Ellis mostly paid lip service to consolidation/unification, he finally got 'round to it and appointed Reichert co-chair of another failed 2004 attempt.

What's the definition of insanity? Why, oh why would Reichert want to face that buzz-saw again?

Enter annexation. If you can't eat the whole elephant, try to gobble little bits of the pachyderm.

The mayor has also drawn criticism for suggesting the state Legislature has the power to change the city's boundaries. It does. The Legislature has the power to exercise its will on every municipality in the state. The only time lawmakers feign powerlessness and proclaim "the people must vote" is when a hot potato issue lands in their laps, like annexation. They make other less controversial, but no less important, decisions every day, all in the name of the people they were elected to represent.

We've asked our new mayor to come into office and fix things. We all know the city needs to grow, and it needs to grow now. Reichert's motto, "Together we can," is not just a nice saying.

People in the county always complain about not having a real say in city politics. I understand, I'm one who feels disenfranchised. My mail comes to a Macon street address. I work in Macon and use its services. I don't tell people I live in Bibb County - "Where is that, they would ask." The only time I'm not considered a Macon resident is when it comes time to vote in city elections.

I don't care that city limits sign are a couple of miles away from my home. The fact is, if Macon were not there, I wouldn't be here.

In Texas Hillary leaves off the 10-point plans & rather talks about jalapeños; at a rally in Texas one placard read: HILLARY FIRST LATINA PRESIDENT.

In San Antonio Clinton skips discussing her many 10-point plans and rather mentions her fondness for hot peppers (preferably jalapeños). And at a rally in Texas one placard read: HILLARY FIRST LATINA PRESIDENT.

Clinton's chances at salvaging her campaign may come down to Latino support in the Lone Star State.

Who would ever have thunk it?

(See Newsweek.)

Some interesting history for those of us who are not from Virginia

Frank Rich writes in The New York Times:

In 1970, Linwood Holton, the state’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction and a Richard Nixon supporter, responded to court-ordered busing by voluntarily placing his own children in largely black Richmond public schools. For this symbolic gesture, he was marginalized by his own party, which was hellbent on pursuing the emergent Strom Thurmond-patented Southern strategy of exploiting white racism for political gain. After Mr. Holton, Virginia restored to office the previous governor, Mills Godwin, a champion of the state’s “massive resistance” to desegregation.

Today Anne Holton, the young daughter sent by her father to a black school in Richmond, is the first lady of Virginia, the wife of the Democratic governor, Tim Kaine. Mr. Kaine’s early endorsement of Mr. Obama was a potent factor in his remarkable 28-point landslide on Tuesday.

The issue of superdelegates needs to be revisited after this election season (and discussion can begin at the convention).

From The New York Times:

Mrs. Clinton [provided an internal list of her superdelegate supporters to The New York Times that] listed as superdelegates an array of past and current Democratic National Committee leaders, evidence of the extent to which she was, at least at one time, seen as the candidate of the party’s establishment. Those include Robert M. Strauss, Joe Andrew, Steve Grossman and Ken Curtis. (The chairman of her campaign, Terry McAuliffe, is also a superdelegate by virtue of being a former party chairman.)

Mrs. Clinton’s superdelegates include some lions of the Democratic Party, including Walter Mondale, the former vice president, and two former House majority leaders, Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri and Jim Wright of Texas. Her superdelegates also reflect her effort to recruit labor support, including Randi Weingarten, who is expected to become the new president of the American Federation of Teachers, and Gerald W. McEntee, the head of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Gov. Bill Richardson, the New Mexico Democrat who had sought, until he dropped out last month, to become the nation’s first Hispanic president . . ., in an interview, would not say whom he would vote for, but he clearly sided with Mr. Obama in the philosophical debate over how superdelegates should decide how to vote.

“It should reflect the vote of my state, it should represent the vote of my constituency,” he said. “It shouldn’t be because you’re a fund-raiser or a big-shot delegate. Superdelegates should reflect their state or constituency. If superdelegates decide this nomination, it’s going to look like big-shot politicians and fat-cats decided who should be president.”

Being essentially political creatures, these superdelegates are more prone to factor political considerations into their deliberations than the voters these two campaigns have encountered since the start of the year.

That has been something of a problem for Mrs. Clinton. As Mr. Obama has swept to victory in primaries and caucuses over the past week, and as polls suggest that he is becoming an increasingly strong candidate, it has sapped the clout of the Clinton campaign as it has sought to nail down commitments.

Hillary, Hillary . . . -- "I could do that big rhetorical stuff if I wanted to, and if I thought it were best for our country. But I'm too earnest."

In Virginia last Sunday, two days before the Potomac primary, Hillary said:

"People say to me all the time, 'You're so specific. . . . Why don't you just come and, you know, really just give us one of those great rhetorical flourishes and then, you know, get everybody all whooped up.'"

So why doesn't she. According to Hillary:

"I could do that big rhetorical stuff if I wanted to, and if I thought it were best for our country. But I'm too earnest to do that, too sincere, and in fact too knowledgeable. That's why I deal in specifics. Because I know them."

From Peggy Noonan's column in The Wall Street Journal.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Update on status of 700 miles of fencing required by Secure Fence Act of 2006 on Mexican border

From The Washington Post:

Under the Secure Fence Act of 2006, the department was instructed to secure about one-third of the 2,000-mile Mexican border with 700 miles of double-layered fencing. However, department officials have since whittled that down to a plan for about 370 miles of pedestrian fencing and 300 miles of vehicle barriers to be finished by the end of 2008.

Last year, the department completed the first 123 miles of vehicle barriers and 165 miles of fencing, much of it on federally owned land in Arizona, California and New Mexico. This year, a substantial portion of the remaining miles of fencing probably will be installed in Texas, where much border land is held privately -- and where ties to Mexico remain strong.

According to preliminary maps, large stretches of the proposed fence would be located more than a mile inland from the [Rio Grande], cutting off substantial swaths of land.

Some senior Dems plan to remain neutral for now in the presidential race in part to keep open the option to broker a peaceful resolution.

From The New York Times:

Former Vice President Al Gore and a number of other senior Democrats plan to remain neutral for now in the presidential race in part to keep open the option to broker a peaceful resolution to what they fear could be a bitterly divided convention, party officials and aides said Friday.

A number of senior Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi and three candidates who have dropped out of the 2008 race, former Senator John Edwards and Senators Christopher J. Dodd and Joseph R. Biden Jr., have spoken with Mr. Gore in recent days. None have endorsed a candidate, although Ms. Pelosi made comments on Friday that were widely seen as supportive of Mr. Obama when it came to the process the party should use to make its choice of candidate.

“It would be a problem for the party if the verdict would be something different than the public has decided,” Ms. Pelosi said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. Ms. Pelosi said she intended to remain neutral, though some of her closest friends and allies in the House are publicly supporting Mr. Obama.

Edwards won't quit: "The oil & drug companies have had 7 years of a pres. who stands up for them. It's time we had a pres. who stands up for you."

"The oil companies, the drug companies, have had seven years of a president who stands up for them. . . . It's time we had a president who stands up for all of you."

Sorry 'bout that. It wasn't John Edwards after all. It was Hillary in a TV spot in Wisconsin she began airing yesterday.

The Wall Street Journal notes:

As the Democratic presidential contest moves to the distressed industrial Midwest, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have ratcheted up their antitrade, anticorporate rhetoric.

The candidates have made broad attacks on corporate wealth and tax cuts they say tilt toward the rich, along with more specific attacks against health insurers and oil companies, among other industries.

Both candidates increasingly sound like former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards as they pursue his endorsement and the voters -- particularly union members -- who were drawn to the populist candidate before he dropped out last month. Illinois Sen. Obama got a boost toward that goal Friday with the backing of the Service Employees International Union, one of the most politically powerful labor organizations.

Illinois Sen. Obama got a boost toward that goal Friday with the backing of the Service Employees International Union, one of the most politically powerful labor organizations.

One factor in the endorsement is the North American Free Trade Agreement, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993 and blamed by many unions for sending jobs to Mexico. Sen. Obama has increasingly hit Mrs. Clinton on Nafta.

Business groups are dismissive of the Democratic attacks. "They should be talking about ways to grow the economy such as deregulation and lessening burdens on employers, rather than criticizing them with simplistic politically driven rhetoric," said Randel Johnson, a vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

SEIU's backing came on the heels of an Obama endorsement Thursday by the United Food and Commercial Workers, which has 1.3 million members. Overall, though, the labor movement remains divided between the two candidates. Mrs. Clinton has far deeper support from unions representing government workers, teachers and machinists, among others.

McCain-Obama Race Could Redraw Electoral Map and Put South in Play

[NOTE: Gray, not black, represents Close Contest above]

From The Wall Street Journal:

In recent presidential elections, the electoral map largely has been fixed, with certain regions predictably loyal to one party or another and the competition narrowed to fewer than 20 battleground states.

But Barack Obama's success in rallying African-Americans and John McCain's difficulty with conservative evangelicals raise an intriguing question: Would a general election between the two put additional states -- particularly in the South -- into play?

If Mr. Obama wins the nomination, it is far from certain that he could claim even a single Southern state. But even making the race there competitive would be a victory of sorts by forcing Mr. McCain to spend time and money defending states that other Republicans, including President Bush, were able to take for granted.

"It's certainly likely some of these Southern states are going to be much more competitive than before," said Merle Black, an expert on Southern politics at Emory University.

The last Democratic presidential candidate to make inroads in the South was Bill Clinton. Together with Al Gore, he picked up their home states of Arkansas and Tennessee, plus Kentucky, Louisiana and, in 1992 only, Georgia. But Mr. Gore running in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004 were shut out.

This year, political strategists say Virginia, which already is trending Democratic, could be pushed across the line. Other possibilities include North Carolina, Tennessee and Mississippi.

Mr. McCain, the senator from Arizona, has an uphill climb with evangelical Christians and other conservatives who make up much of the base of his party.

On the other hand, Mr. McCain might enter a race versus Mr. Obama with an advantage among Hispanic voters. During the primaries so far, Mr. McCain has done well with Hispanics, while Mr. Obama has not.

Analyst Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report was more skeptical of the idea that Mr. Obama could contend in the South, especially in states such as Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee. "White voters in Mississippi don't vote Democratic. They just don't," said Mr. Cook. He also believes that the greater the black turnout, the more anti-Democratic white voters become. Possible exceptions include Florida and Virginia.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Major Union Moves to Endorse Obama.

From Time:

Sen. Barack Obama is expected to be endorsed Friday by the Service Employees International Union, one of the nation's most powerful, union officials have told The Associated Press.

The sought-after endorsement would be Obama's largest from organized labor, and give him a powerful boost against rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the March 4 presidential primaries in Ohio and Texas.

The 1.8 million-member union is likely to endorse Obama on Friday, the union officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

SEIU backing is one of the most important labor endorsements available. The organization has donated more than $25 million, mostly to Democratic candidates, since 1989. In addition, the union has a powerful get-out-the-vote structure and has been courted by all the Democratic candidates since the beginning of the race.

Separately Thursday, Obama also won the backing of the United Food and Commercial Workers, a politically active union with significant membership in the upcoming Democratic battlegrounds.

The 1.3-million member UFCW has 69,000 members in Ohio and another 26,000 in Texas. The food workers also have 19,000 members in Wisconsin, which holds a primary Tuesday.

The union is made up of supermarket workers and meatpackers, with 40 percent of the membership under 30 years old. Obama has been doing especially well among young voters.

With an SEIU endorsement and the United Food and Commercial Workers' backing, Obama would only need to pick up one more union endorsement to be eligible to collect the Change to Win labor federation's support. There are seven unions in the federation, and it would take endorsements from at least four of them to make the federation consider a joint endorsement.

Obama was endorsed in January by UNITE HERE, which along with SEIU and the United Food and Commercial Workers, would give him three of the seven member unions. The Teamsters, the Laborers' International Union of North America, and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America have yet to endorse a candidate.

The seventh union, the United Farm Workers, endorsed Clinton in January.

Obama also was endorsed earlier this month by the Transport Workers Union and the National Weather Service Employees Organization.

New (polling done on February 14) InsiderAdvantage/Majority Opinion Survey on Texas Democratic Primary

From the Southern Political Report:

Clinton: 48%
Obama: 41%
Undecided: 11%

Hillary Clinton bets that Ohio and Texas will be the firewall that salvages her presidential hopes from immolation.

From The Wall Street Journal:

The Buckeye and Lone Star states favor Sen. Clinton. Notably, Texas Democrats include many Hispanics, while working-class voters dominate in Ohio -- the two groups that have been among the most supportive of Sen. Clinton in recent contests.

Yet each state offers opportunities for her rival, and both primaries are open to independent voters and even Republicans, who have supported Sen. Obama elsewhere. He arrives with momentum from his string of wins, all by wide margins, and more money for the airwave wars that began this week. In nearly every state that has voted to date, Sen. Clinton has led by double digits weeks before, only to see her leads melt by primary or caucus day.

If Sen. Clinton doesn't win both states, she will be widely perceived to have lost, no matter that neither candidate yet has the needed 2,025 delegates.

Sen. Clinton was in Ohio yesterday with two big assets: popular Democratic governor Ted Strickland and former senator and pioneer astronaut John Glenn. Two polls yesterday showed her leading Sen. Obama here by double-digit margins, but even Clinton supporters say they expect the race to tighten.

Clinton Camp May Regret Largely Turning Its Back on Caucus States

From The Washington Post:

Among the costliest decisions Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign has made this year was to largely cede caucus states to Barack Obama. It is one that, in retrospect, baffles Democratic strategists and, even more so, the operatives on Obama's team.

Like Obama, Clinton threw everything possible into the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, spending $20 million to $25 million on what turned out to be a losing effort. The experience seemed to sour the Clinton campaign on caucuses -- she has repeatedly disparaged the caucus process in public remarks -- and ever since, her team has largely ignored them in favor of states with primaries. If the Democratic race is all about delegates, as the Clinton campaign declared shortly after the Jan. 8 New Hampshire contest, the decision has given Obama an unexpected gift.

Here is a simple way to understand the consequences of that choice. Take two states that held Super Tuesday contests on Feb. 5: big New Jersey, with 107 pledged delegates at stake, and tiny Idaho, with 18 delegates up for grabs. Clinton won New Jersey's primary and made headlines for doing so early on that night, while Obama won Idaho's caucuses long after many of those watching had gone to bed. But because of the rules of proportionality, Clinton netted just 11 more delegates than Obama from her New Jersey victory, while he gained 12 more than her by winning Idaho.

That pattern held through other states on Feb. 5 and Feb. 9, as Obama rolled up substantial margins and, as a result, harvested delegates in numbers that belied the relatively small size of some of the states.

There are two important features of the Democrats' sometimes incomprehensible system. The first is that, because of proportionality, it is difficult for any candidate in a close race to gain much of an advantage. Winning states can still mean splitting delegates almost 50-50. But the flip side is that once someone gains even a relatively small lead, it becomes more and more difficult for the other candidate to catch up.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Black lawmakers rethink Clinton support.

From Newsweek:

In a fresh sign of trouble for Hillary Rodham Clinton, one of the former first lady's congressional black supporters intends to vote for Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention, and a second, more prominent lawmaker is openly discussing a possible switch.

Rep. David Scott's defection and Rep. John Lewis' remarks highlight one of the challenges confronting Clinton in a campaign that pits a black man against a woman for a nomination that historically has been the exclusive property of white men.

UPDATE on Rep. Lewis: See The New York Times.

The man has a point with respect to changed circumstances & the Governor's control over the Bd. of Regents.

The AJC's Political Insider reports that Rep. Bob Smith (R-Watkinsville) has introduced a bill to remake the Board of Regents, and that his bill shouldn’t be viewed as a power grab by the Legislature.

Currently, the governor appoints members of the board, which oversees the state university system, to seven-year terms.

Under H.B. 1156, the majority of appointments would go to the Legislature.

Smith says this would remove the governor from dominating the picture, as was intended six decades ago.

In 1941, the Board of Regents was established. Their lengthy, seven-year terms would prevent any governor — who was limited to a single four-year term — from dominating the board.

But in the 1970s, the state constitution was changed to permit governors to serve two consecutive terms — a total of eight years.

“This legislation brings us back to square one,” Smith said.

No surprise on views of Clinton v. Obama with respect to what superdelegates should do.

From The New York Times:

Mrs. Clinton’s aides said the [party leaders and elected officials] should make their decision based on who they thought would be the stronger candidate and president. Mr. Obama argues that they should follow the will of the Democratic Party as expressed in the primary and caucuses — meaning the candidate with the most delegates from the voting.

Lawmakers Put Out New Call for Earmarks

From The New York Times:

The window for Congressional earmarks is open once again. Lawmakers from both parties are inviting constituents and lobbyists to recommend pet projects that could be financed by the federal government as the 2008 earmark season gets under way.

Undeterred by criticism from President Bush and Senator John McCain, the likely Republican presidential nominee, lawmakers have told outside groups to file all requests for earmarks within two weeks, so lawmakers can submit their proposals to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees by mid-March.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hold the ladder steady! Bill Clinton's campaign chair will endorse for Obama.

BillShippOnline.com in a post entitled "When the rats start to run" reports that:

David Wilhelm, Bill Clinton’s 1992 Campaign Manager, plans to endorse Obama later today. Wilhelm was also Chairman of the Democratic National Committee during Clinton’s first term.


Clinton made Wilhelm Chairman of the DNC after his successful election.

And it gets worse: Mr. Wilhelm lives and works in the upcoming battleground of Ohio.

Caucus System Muddies Assessment of Democrats

From The Wall Street Journal:

When Iowans caucused four years ago, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry's share of the turnout should have earned him 21 of the state's 45 delegates to the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards should have received 17, and former Vermont Gov. John Dean should have taken seven.

But when the Iowa delegates showed up at the convention in Boston six months later, 39 delegates were committed to Mr. Kerry, four to Mr. Edwards and two to Mr. Dean.

The caucus system -- which elects delegates only to local conventions, not the national convention -- makes it nearly impossible to calculate who is ahead in the race for the Democratic nomination. That is why estimates by news organizations and campaign-related Web sites vary so widely.

In states that hold primaries, delegate selection is fairly straightforward. Three-quarters of a state's delegates to the national convention are awarded to the candidates based on how well they did in each congressional district. The other 25% is awarded based on how well they did in the state at large. Of Georgia's 76 elected delegates, for example, 57 are awarded at the district level and 19 at the state level.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Dr. Charles S. Bullock notes the Super Tuesday vote did not signal an immediacy to a leftward shift in Georgia.

Dr. Charles S. Bullock writes in InsiderAdvantage Georgia:

Commentators are giving Democrats hope that the GOP tide has finally crested by noting that on Super Tuesday more Georgians picked Democratic than Republican ballots.

These interpretations are overly optimistic. Greater primary turnout among Democrats than Republicans is nothing new.

The distinctive aspect of Super Tuesday participation is the unprecedented number of voters. Turnout exceeded any previous figure by 45 percent and more than doubled the vote two years ago. Participation in each party’s presidential primary equaled or exceeded the total primary turnout in four recent years.

The pendulum that has swung strongly Republican will ultimately arc back leftward. But the Super Tuesday vote did not signal an immediacy to that shift. Whether Democrats nominate Barak Obama or Hillary Clinton, Georgia will almost certainly be in the GOP column this November. If it is not, then the Democratic nominee will be on the way to a win of massive proportions like that of Lyndon Johnson in 1964 or Franklin Roosevelt 28 years earlier.

Although there’s been no Democratic divide between center and left during this campaign, it could come following a Democratic victory in November.

President Bush's legacy probably will be that he left this country in the biggest mess imaginable in the Middle East, our respect and clout among nations at an all-time low, things worse rather than better off from the national security viewpoint, and our country saddled with debt and deficit figures that are beyond comprehension.

The foregoing notwithstanding, just as Rome was not built in a day, it is going to take our next president a long time to unwind and remedy the damage America has suffered during the Bush years, and during this time there will be no free lunch.

As I have written before on this blog, we never should have invaded Iraq, but we did, and the next president will have to play with the cards that he or she has been dealt. Getting out quickly -- without damage to American interests and allies -- will not be nearly as quickly and easily as we would like.

Likewise, the Bush "cut taxes and spend and expect no financial sacrifice from Americans" philosophy will restrict the domestic agenda of the next president.

Like it or not, much of what is contained in the following column by David Brooks in The New York Times will prove to just what we can expect in the future:

There’s a big difference between the Republican and Democratic campaigns: The Republicans have split on policy grounds; the Democrats haven’t. There’s been a Republican divide between center and right, yet no Democratic divide between center and left.
But when you think about it, the Democratic policy unity is a mirage. If the Democrats actually win the White House, the tensions would resurface with a vengeance.

The first big rift would involve Iraq. Both Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have seductively hinted that they would withdraw almost all U.S. troops within 12 to 16 months. But if either of them actually did that, he or she would instantly make Iraq the consuming partisan fight of their presidency.

There would be private but powerful opposition from Arab leaders, who would fear a return to 2006 chaos. There would be irate opposition from important sections of the military, who would feel that the U.S. was squandering the gains of the previous year. A Democratic president with few military credentials would confront outraged and highly photogenic colonels screaming betrayal.

There would be important criticism from nonpartisan military experts. In his latest report, the much-cited Anthony Cordesman describes an improving Iraqi security situation that still requires “strategic patience” and another five years to become self-sustaining.

There would be furious opposition from Republicans and many independents. They would argue that you can’t evacuate troops just as Iraqis are about to hold national elections and tensions are at their highest. They would point out that it’s insanity to end local reconstruction and Iraqi training efforts just when they are producing results. They would accuse the new administration of reverse-Rumsfeldism, of ignoring postsurge realities and of imposing an ideological solution on a complex situation.

All dreams of changing the tone in Washington would be gone. All of Obama’s unity hopes would evaporate. And if the situation did deteriorate after a quick withdrawal, as the National Intelligence Estimate warns, the bloodshed would be on the new president’s head.

Therefore, when a new Democratic administration considered all these possibilities, its members would part ways. A certain number of centrists would conclude that rapid withdrawal is a mistake. They would say that the situation had changed and would call for a strategic review. They’d recommend a long, slow conditions-based withdrawal — constant, small troop reductions, and a lot of regional diplomacy, while maintaining tens of thousands of troops in Iraq for the remainder of the term.

The left wing of the party would go into immediate uproar. They’d scream: This was a central issue of the campaign! All the troops must get out now!

The president would have to make a terrible decision.

Which brings us to second looming Democratic divide: domestic spending. Both campaigns now promise fiscal discipline, as well as ambitious new programs. These kinds of have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too vows were merely laughable last year when the federal deficit was running at a manageable $163 billion a year. But the economic slowdown, the hangover from the Bush years and the growing bite of entitlements mean that the federal deficit will almost certainly top $400 billion by 2009. The accumulated national debt will be in shouting distance of the $10 trillion mark. With that much red ink, the primary-season spending plans are simply ridiculous.

It’d be 1993 all over again. The new Democratic president would be faced with Bill Clinton’s Robert Rubin vs. Robert Reich choice: either scale back priorities for the sake of fiscal discipline or blow through all known deficit records for the sake of bigger programs. Choose the former, and the new president would further outrage the left. Choose the latter and lose the financial establishment and the political center.

This is the debate that Democrats have been quietly rearguing during the entire Bush presidency. The left wing of the party is absolutely committed to winning it this time. It will likely demand the clean energy subsidies and the education spending, the expensive health care coverage and subsides to address middle-class anxiety. But no Democratic president can afford to offend independent voters with runaway spending. No president can easily ignore the think tank establishment, which is rightfully exercised about the nation’s long-term fiscal health.

It would be another brutal choice.

As William J. Stuntz of Harvard Law School wrote in The Weekly Standard, the Democrats have conducted their race amid unconstrained “Yes We Can!” unreality. Because the Democratic candidates appear to agree on so much, they’ve never tested each other’s policy proposals or exposed each other’s assumptions. But governing means choosing, and reality will be unkind. The artificial unity between the Democratic center and the Democratic left would be smashed by the harsh choices of 2009. My guess? The centrists would win.

Say What? -- Rules Eased to Expedite Green Card Applications

From The New York Times:

Searching for ways to reduce a huge backlog of visa applications, immigration authorities have eased requirements for background checks by the F.B.I. of immigrants seeking to become permanent United States residents, federal officials said Monday.

If an immigrant’s application for a residence visa has been in the system for more than six months and the only missing piece is a name check by the F.B.I., immigration officers will now be allowed to approve the application, according to a memorandum posted Monday on the Web site of the federal Citizenship and Immigration Services agency.

Virginia could be a bellwether for other primaries & for how some usually GOP-leaning moderate states could be opportunities for the Dems this fall.

From The Wall Street Journal:

South of the Potomac River, in the shadow of Washington, D.C., Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton scrap for an advantage in a state that could be a bellwether for other primaries -- and for how some usually Republican-leaning moderate states could be opportunities for the Democrats this fall.

With the exception of Lyndon B. Johnson's landslide victory in 1964, Virginia has voted for the Republican in every presidential election since 1952.

But since re-electing President Bush in 2004, Virginia has elected its second consecutive Democratic governor, voted out an incumbent Republican senator, ended the GOP's control of the state Senate and this year is widely predicted to fill the seat of retiring Republican Sen. John Warner with the Democrat who started the trend in 2001 -- former Gov. Mark Warner (no relation).

Polls support the once radical prospect that the capital of the Confederacy could anoint a woman, or a black man, as its choice for president. A survey taken in October, long before the Democratic race gained momentum, showed that Virginia voters preferred the next president to be a Democrat by an 11% margin, with only 4% undecided.

For the primary tomorrow, Virginia absentee voters requested nearly twice as many Democratic ballots as Republican ballots, according to the state elections board. Mr. Obama, with 52% support, held a 15-percentage-point lead over Mrs. Clinton in an InsiderAdvantage poll of Virginia voters on Thursday, with 10% undecided.

Cost of Business Tax Cuts Underestimated

From The Wall Street Journal:

A round of business tax cuts in Congress's economic-stimulus package passed Thursday will cost nearly triple the official government estimate, tax experts said.

The tax breaks in the package will cost more than $22 billion over the next 11 years, or roughly $15 billion more than the government's long-term estimate of $7.5 billion.

Michelle Obama -- The role of spouses in presidential politics is evolving, from one of smiling wife to equal and visible partner.

From The Wall Street Journal:

On a conference call to prepare for a recent debate, Barack Obama brainstormed with his top advisers on the fine points of his positions. Michelle Obama had dialed in to listen, but finally couldn't stay silent any longer.

"Barack," she interjected, "Feel -- don't think!" Telling her husband his "over-thinking" during past debates had tripped him up with rival Hillary Clinton, she said: "Don't get caught in the weeds. Be visceral. Use your heart -- and your head."

The campaign veterans shut up. They knew that Mrs. Obama's opinion and advice mattered more to their candidate than anything they could say.

With the Democratic presidential race wide open, Mrs. Obama, a 44-year-old Princeton- and Harvard Law-educated hospital executive, is assuming the same dominant role in Sen. Obama's public life that she has in his private life. At home, she expects a lot of every family member, from having her 6- and 9-year-old daughters set their own alarm clocks to insisting her husband pick up his dirty socks. Her most recent directive to him: Stop smoking.

The role of spouses in presidential politics is evolving, from one of smiling wife to equal and visible partner -- complete with appearance schedule, entourage and opinions. With this, though, comes greater potential to be either an asset or a liability.

In the Democratic race, Bill Clinton has come across at times as empathetic, seasoned onetime leader of the free world -- but at other times as red-faced, argumentative attack-dog-in-chief. Mrs. Obama carefully avoids discussing policy and strategy, but jumps right in to dish about issues that affect her personally, such as being a working mom and overcoming obstacles, which plays well with key voting groups like working women and minorities.

The Obamas present themselves as equals. "We're two well-versed lawyers who know each other really well," Mrs. Obama says in an interview. "We each think we're right about everything, and can argue each other into a corner." Friends and campaign aides describe them as a high-powered team built on contrasts: She's the heart to his head, the enforcer to his lapses, regimented to his laid-back, critic to his ego, details to his broad strokes, sarcasm to his sincerity, toughness to his cool vibe.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Doonesbury: Obama is the first black Kennedy.

Ever since April 1, 2007, when the print version of the AJC began being delivered to 66 Georgia counties whereas before it had been delivered to 145 of Georgia's 159 counties, including Coffee County, I have had to search elsewhere for things I had always taken for granted and relied on the AJC for.

One of these was Doonesbury, which now I get online daily at this Web site.

I have been a bit behind lately in my daily reading, and missed the above from last week.

Peggy Noonan on Hillary and Obama -- Hillary Clinton does not know how to lose.

Peggy Noonan writes in The Wall Street Journal:

If Hillary Clinton loses, does she know how to lose? What will that be, if she loses? Will she just say, "I concede" and go on vacation at a friend's house on an island, and then go back to the Senate and wait?

Is it possible she could be so normal? Politicians lose battles, it's part of what they do, win and lose. But she does not know how to lose. Can she lose with grace? But she does grace the way George W. Bush does nuance.

She often talks about how tough she is. She has fought "the Republican attack machine" that has tried to "stop" her, "end" her, and she knows "how to fight them." She is preoccupied to an unusual degree with toughness. A man so preoccupied would seem weak. But a woman obsessed with how tough she is just may be lethal.

We know she is smart. Is she wise? If it comes to it, down the road, can she give a nice speech, thank her supporters, wish Barack Obama well, and vow to campaign for him?

I ruminate in this way because something is happening. Mrs. Clinton is losing this thing. [This column was in Saturday's Wall Street, ahead this past weekend's results.]

Mrs. Clinton is stoking the idea that Mr. Obama is too soft to withstand the dread Republican attack machine. . . . But Mr. Obama will not be easy for Republicans to attack. He will be hard to get at, hard to address. There are many reasons, but a primary one is that the fact of his race will freeze them. No one, no candidate, no party, no heavy-breathing consultant, will want to cross any line--lines that have never been drawn, that are sure to be shifting and not always visible--in approaching the first major-party African-American nominee for president of the United States.

He is the brilliant young black man as American dream. No consultant, no matter how opportunistic and hungry, will think it easy--or professionally desirable--to take him down in a low manner. If anything, they've learned from the Clintons in South Carolina what that gets you.

With Mr. Obama the campaign will be about issues. "He'll raise your taxes." He will, and I suspect Americans may vote for him anyway. But the race won't go low.

Mrs. Clinton would be easier for Republicans. With her cavalcade of scandals, they'd be delighted to go at her. They'd get medals for it. Consultants would get rich on it.

The Democrats have it exactly wrong. Hillary is the easier candidate, Mr. Obama the tougher. Hillary brings negative; it's fair to hit her back with negative. Mr. Obama brings hope, and speaks of a better way. He's not Bambi, he's bulletproof.

The biggest problem for the Republicans will be that no matter what they say that is not issue oriented--"He's too young, he's never run anything, he's not fully baked"--the mainstream media will tag them as dealing in racial overtones, or undertones. You can bet on this. Go to the bank on it.

The Democrats continue not to recognize what they have in this guy. Believe me, Republican professionals know. They can tell.

A Georgia Democrat & Proud of It

A couple of years ago I designed this bumper sticker, our county party ordered some, and we would love to see one on your vehicle.

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.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

TIME Poll: Clinton More Beatable than Obama

From Time Magazine:

Though the real election is nine months away, Sen. Barack Obama would fare slightly better than Sen. Hillary Clinton in a head to head match-up with Sen. John McCain if the general election were held today, a new TIME poll reveals.

Obama captured 48% of the vote in the theoretical match-up against McCain's 41%, the TIME poll reported, while Clinton and McCain would deadlock at 46% of the vote each. Put another way, McCain looks at the moment to have a narrowly better chance of beating the New York Senator than he does the relative newcomer from Illinois.

The difference, says Mark Schulman, CEO of Abt SRBI, which conducted the poll for TIME, is that "independents tilt toward McCain when he is matched up against Clinton But they tilt toward Obama when he is matched up against the Illinois Senator." Independents, added Schulman, "are a key battleground."

For much of the year, Democrats have enjoyed a wide margin over any Republican rival in theoretical match-ups. Those margins have begun to shrink in recent weeks.

According to the new poll, Democratic voters favor Clinton over Obama for the Democratic nomination by a margin of 48% to 42%.

On The Georgia Gang Today Alexis Scott Scores Big Once Again, Making It Two Strikes.

This morning on The Georgia Gang Alexis Scott could not contain herself.

She had neither the wisdom nor the discretion to let one of the other members of the panel -- a white member for example -- lead the discussion on about what a truly significant event it was for Sen. Obama not only to win in Georgia on Super Tuesday, but to win so overwhelmingly.

Come on Ms. Scott. If you want to help Obama and other candidates who just happen to be black, tone it down several notches. By my count, this makes your second strike, and three and you're out.

Your first came shortly after Denise Majette was declared the victor of the Democratic primary runoff election for the U.S. Senate in 2004, and was the subject of a 8-15-04 post entitled "That high-pitched whine is the sound of Martin Luther King, Jr. twirling in his grave" that provided in part as follows:

"I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood."

"I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

"[L]et freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! . . . When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

It's been almost 41 years to the day since Dr. King delivered his "I Have A Dream" speech on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial.

In little more than 41 hours after Denise Majette was declared the victor of the Democratic Primary runoff election for the U.S. Senate, and not too far from Stone Mountain, Alexis Scott of The Georgia Gang this week declared with glee: "The Democratic Party is the party of the blacks."

I don't think this was included in Dr. King's dream. Further, I even suspect Dr. King may have rolled over in his grave when he heard this pronouncement that sounded a bit like a victory speech.

I recognize that in my saying this, some will say that I must be an ostrich with his head in the sand; or that I am a white Democrat in a state of denial.

I respond to this by saying that I consider myself a Democrat, not a white Democrat. That ours is the party of the people, the party of inclusion.

That if we are to be labeled as a racially identifiable party, let it by someone among us who still considers us to be the party of inclusion.

In law we often say bad facts make bad law. I am not going to address the specifics behind Ms. Scott's statement other than observe that many factors were involved in Majette becoming our Party's nominee for the U.S. Senate.

And regardless, I do not believe the great majority of Democrats -- white and black -- believe the candidate herself merited Ms. Scott's conclusion. To paraphrase Secretary of Treasury Lloyd Bentsen, "Congresswoman, you're no Barack Obama."