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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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

McCain-Clinton proposal is a reminder that the biggest energy crisis we have in our country is the energy to be serious. Obama resists pandering.

Thomas Friedman writes in The New York Times:

It is great to see that we finally have some national unity on energy policy. Unfortunately, the unifying idea is so ridiculous, so unworthy of the people aspiring to lead our nation, it takes your breath away. Hillary Clinton has decided to line up with John McCain in pushing to suspend the federal excise tax on gasoline, 18.4 cents a gallon, for this summer’s travel season. This is not an energy policy. This is money laundering: we borrow money from China and ship it to Saudi Arabia and take a little cut for ourselves as it goes through our gas tanks. What a way to build our country.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Clinton Refuses to Concede North Carolina, an Obama Stronghold

From The Wall Street Journal:

Sen. Hillary Clinton is widely expected to lose North Carolina's Democratic presidential primary on May 6, but that isn't stopping her campaign from spending millions of dollars on advertising and holding rallies in dozens of communities throughout the state.

Sen. Clinton wants to avoid the kind of blowout loss to Sen. Barack Obama she suffered in South Carolina in January. She is trying to demonstrate the breadth of her support to Democratic elected officials and other superdelegates who will sway the decision on the party's nomination.

Damaged goods? (1) Bookman writes: DOT chief's stumble compromises her credibility; (2) Shipp recalls that "Dirt shows up more on a white hat."

Jay Bookman of the AJC writes that:

Gena Abraham was lucky to hold onto her job as head of the state Department of Transportation.

Undeservedly lucky, perhaps.

Today, she remains DOT commissioner not because she acted ethically or appropriately —- she did not —- but because for the moment, the governor and other powerful people in state government have too much invested in her to allow her to fail.

Furthermore, while the official line is that the state Board of Transportation has resolved this scandal with its 8-3 vote to reprimand Abraham, that's wishful thinking. Abraham was brought in to reform the DOT, a job that would challenge almost anyone. And while her hiring was controversial, Gov. Sonny Perdue and others argued correctly that only a person with a strong reputation and impeccable leadership credentials would be able to demand change on the scale required to bring the DOT into the 21st century.

For Abraham, that stature has now been greatly, if not fatally, compromised, with repercussions that have yet to play out.

Thanks to some artful stage-managing, the initial announcement

[T]hat Abraham and Evans had played by the rules, with Evans stepping down voluntarily as soon as the two realized where their relationship was headed —- has not held up over time. It is now pretty clear that the relationship had become romantic and serious well before it became public, and that Evans and Abraham disclosed it only when events forced them to do so.

In a memo sent to DOT employees just a few weeks earlier -- when her relationship with Evans had already gone beyond the professional -- Abraham had stressed "the importance of establishing and maintaining the highest possible standard of professional behavior and ethics in our workplace."

Those who failed to meet those standards, she warned, would be subject to "the full extent of the department's disciplinary actions, including termination. ..."

It's pretty clear that under the tough line Abraham drew for her employees, the price of engaging in an undisclosed romantic relationship with your boss or subordinate would be dismissal. The fact that she herself has survived that kind of mistake will make it considerably harder to demand change in others.

Bill Shipp writes:

As former state Attorney General Mike Bowers used to say, "Dirt shows up more on a white hat."

Gov. Sonny Perdue and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle came out guns blazing in defense of Abraham, both offering a vote of confidence in her ability to lead the troubled department. Perdue noted that Abraham has upset various DOT constituencies, including legislators and local elected officials, since taking office last year. The governor essentially blamed political enemies of Abraham (and himself) for the predicament in which Abraham finds herself.

That ought to be the end of it, except that Abraham decided to lay down the law to her subordinates - in writing - just before news of her own possible indiscretion broke. She warned that sexual dalliances could lead to serious punishment, even firing. An accusatory memorandum on March 31 stresses that Commissioner Abraham will not abide violations of employee conduct rules. She has even pledged to remove politics - I can't wait - from the transportation department, though she and Evans were recently seen together at a Republican event.

The fact that Perdue has made Abraham the embodiment of his claim that he is attempting to clean up DOT, and her no-tolerance line for misconduct, may mean trouble for Ms. Gena. Those actions amount to an engraved invitation to view her own personal conduct under a public microscope. For her sake (and the governor's), the timeline she and Evans are claiming about their relationship had better be the ironclad truth.

Nothing gets a press corps moving faster than the chance to show hypocrisy by people who hold themselves out as entitled to judge the morality of others.

As Bowers found out a decade ago when he mounted a campaign for governor, it is difficult for someone who publicly polices the conduct of others to survive getting caught engaging in misconduct. Bowers built a sterling reputation as a reform-minded attorney general and champion of morality. He even gained national fame for pushing tough enforcement of Georgia's sexual morality laws. His chance to become governor blew up when he had to admit a long-running extramarital affair.

The Bowers tale should serve as a warning to Abraham and Perdue. If she gets caught having misled the public about her relationship with Evans, she's through, and Sonny takes a big hit.

And even The New York Times has a story on the topic:

Ms. Abraham had said on Friday that she would resign. But she backed away from that position after Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle raced to the department’s offices and called her into a meeting in a stairwell there, with a guard posted outside the door.

The revelations about Ms. Abraham and Mr. Evans surfaced just three weeks after she sent a memorandum to all department employees saying she would not tolerate misconduct or violations of department policy.

“The sheer number of offenses that we are discovering is staggering and embarrassing to the department,” she wrote in the memorandum, which was dated March 31, and she added that she would not hesitate to fire employees for unethical or unlawful behavior.

Ms. Abraham later admitted that when she sent the memorandum she was already romantically involved with Mr. Evans.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Obama says 'no' to another possible pile on and staging point for one attack after another as was the case with the ABC News debate.

While I don't agree completely with David Brooks' statement that a "journalist’s job is to make politicians uncomfortable, to explore evasions, contradictions and vulnerabilities," I do think that the questions Obama got in the ABC News debate were absolutely predictable, and for the life of me I don't know why he seemed so unprepared for them.

That notwithstanding, his poor performance is behind him, and regardless of what happens today in Pennsylvania, he does not need to go there again. Let me rephrase that. Obama is going to get the nomination, and the party does not need to go there again.

(Nor does the party need such as Clinton invoking an image of Osama bin Laden in a television advertisement that she ran yesterday questioning Barack's ability to lead in a crisis. See The New York Times.)

According to The Washington Post:

It looks like Katie Couric is being shut out on the presidential debate front.

Hillary Clinton had accepted a CBS offer to debate in North Carolina this Sunday, after "60 Minutes," but Barack Obama has turned down the offer and the session was officially called off today.

In political terms, Obama had little incentive for another face-off. He's comfortably ahead in the Tarheel State, and after drawing most of the tough questions in last week's ABC debate in Pennsylvania, he undoubtedly wasn't looking forward to a sequel.

The Clinton camp was quick to respond. Ace Smith, her North Carolina director, said in a statement: "It is unfortunate that Senator Obama has chosen to brush off the people of North Carolina by flatly refusing to debate. But we are willing to move forward with another time and location for the debate so that he has no excuse for not participating."

To which Obama spokesman Dan Leistikow replied, in a statement: "It's unfortunate that the Clinton campaign decided to play politics with this -- especially considering that Senator Obama agreed to a North Carolina debate long before Senator Clinton did, and their campaign took three weeks to consider and ultimately reject that proposal. Their attacks indicate they are really not looking for a debate but any forum to continue their negative, throw-the-kitchen sink campaign."

The Cracker Squire is in mourning today: The Wall Street Journal's Managing Editor Expected to Resign.

According to Time and The Wall Street Journal, the carnage at The Wall Street Journal continues.

Marcus Brauchli was named to the paper's top job almost exactly a year ago, replacing Paul Steiger, who had held the job since 1991. Brauchli received a standing ovation in the newsroom when his appointment was announced and was viewed as someone who would safeguard the paper's credibility in the face of Rupert Murdoch's ultimately successful attempt to purchase Dow Jones.

Brauchli reportedly tried to find a middle path between the paper's traditionalists and Murdoch's new vision for the paper.

The Journal's publisher, Robert Thomson, a native of Australia, is expected to become interim managing editor of the paper.

After acquiring Dow Jones, Mr. Murdoch moved swiftly to overhaul the business side of the company. Most key Dow Jones executives relinquished their posts, including the chief executive, chief financial officer, Journal publisher, general counsel, and others.

Monday, April 21, 2008

List of McCain Fund-Raisers Includes Prominent Lobbyists

From The New York Times:

Senator John McCain has staked his campaign for the presidency in large part on his reputation as a reformer intent on curbing the influence of money in politics.

But an examination by The New York Times of a list of 106 elite fund-raisers who have brought in more than $100,000 each for Mr. McCain found that about a sixth of them were lobbyists. The list of “bundlers” was released on Friday by the McCain campaign.

Mr. McCain, of Arizona, has drawn scrutiny for the fact that many of his top advisers hail from K Street lobbying firms, including Rick Davis, his campaign manager, and Charles Black, a senior adviser who only recently stepped down as chairman of his lobbying firm to avoid accusations of conflict of interest.

Mr. McCain has steadfastly insisted that he does not give preferential treatment to those lobbying him, even if they happen to be close friends. Although Senator Barack Obama, who could become Mr. McCain’s general election opponent, has made a point of refusing to accept money from federally registered lobbyists, Mr. McCain has continued to collect cash from them and allow them to bundle campaign contributions.

[T]he McCain campaign, which struggled over much of the past year in raising money, is now seeking to emulate the record-setting money machine that powered George W. Bush to victories in 2000 and 2004, bestowing special titles upon bundlers who exceed certain financial targets.

And from The Washington Post:

With Sen. John McCain facing the prospect of being dramatically outspent in the race for the White House, a collection of major Republican donors and party leaders that includes former Bush strategist Karl Rove is scrambling to catch up with the efforts of liberal groups aiming to influence the outcome in November.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Obama speaks the truth; Hillary has no regard for truth and honesty -- Clinton childes Obama over McCain-Bush comment

The newswires are reporting that Obama told an audience that “either Democrat would be better than John McCain. . . . And all three of us would be better than George Bush.”

Sensing an opening, Clinton pounced on those words and began criticizing Obama for uttering the obvious.

“We need a nominee who will take on John McCain, not cheer on John McCain,” she said.

Hillary, I am sick and tired of you.

Mrs. Clinton is transmitting, but people aren't receiving. She has been branded, tagged. She's been absorbed, understood and categorized.

Peggy Noonan writes in The Wall Street Journal:

Mrs. Clinton is transmitting, but people aren't receiving. She has been branded, tagged. She's been absorbed, understood and categorized. People have decided what they think, and it's not good.

It took George W. Bush five years to get to that point. It took her five intense months. Political historians will say her campaign sank with the mad Bosnia lie, but Bosnia broke through only because it expressed, crystallized, what people had already begun to think: too much mendacity there, too much manipulation.

A "majority of voters now view her as dishonest," [the Washington Post recently] said, bluntly. Six in 10 said she was "not honest or trustworthy." Which itself doesn't tell us, really, anything new, but concretizes, like the Bosnia story, what is already known.

This is what I think will happen. At some future point Mrs. Clinton will leave, and at a more distant one she will try to come back. But more than one cycle will have to pass before she does. She'll need more than four years to shake off the impression she made in 2008. And this is how you'll know she's making another bid for the presidency. She will wear skirts. Gone will be the pantsuits that made her look like a small blond man with breasts. It's the new me, I wear skirts!

McCain: A Question of Temperament

From The Washington Post:

Since the beginning of McCain's public life, the many witnesses to his temper have had strikingly different reactions to it. Some depict McCain, now the presumptive Republican nominee for president, as an erratic hothead incapable of staying cool in the face of what he views as either disloyalty to him or irrational opposition to his ideas. Others praise a firebrand who is resolute against the forces of greed and gutlessness.

Former senator Bob Smith, a New Hampshire Republican, expresses worries about McCain: "His temper would place this country at risk in international affairs, and the world perhaps in danger. In my mind, it should disqualify him."

Ethics law passed in response to scandals involving the lobbyist Jack Abramoff isn’t without its loopholes.

From The New York Times:

The optimistically named Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 was supposed to prevent lobbyists from securing undue influence by taking members of Congress to intimate dinners at fancy restaurants.

But former Senator John B. Breaux, Democrat of Louisiana, said lobbyists had already come up with a way around the new law. They can make a political contribution to a member of Congress, and then have the member pay for the meal.

“If we call it a campaign contribution, that makes it legal,” Mr. Breaux said. “I can’t buy a $20 breakfast for a senator whom I’ve known for years, but I can give him a $1,000 campaign contribution.”

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Democrats, led by Pelosi, are way wrong in opposing the free-trade agreement with Colombia. Maybe she yet will allow it to come to a vote & pass.

From The Washington Post:

There are two important countries at the north of South America. One, Colombia, has a democratic government that, with strong support from the Clinton and Bush administrations, has bravely sought to defeat brutal militias of the left and right and to safeguard human rights. The other, Venezuela, has a repressive government that has undermined media freedoms, forcibly nationalized industries, rallied opposition to the United States and, recent evidence suggests, supported terrorist groups inside Colombia. That U.S. unions, human rights groups and now Democrats would focus their criticism and advocacy on the former, to the benefit of the latter, shows how far they have departed from their own declared principles.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Amen on everything Sam Nunn says. Amen; double amen!!

The AJC's Political Insider shares former Sen. Nunn's comments about Obama:

Based on my conversations with Senator Obama, reading his book and his speeches and seeing the kind of campaign he has run, I believe that he is our best choice to lead our nation. Senator Obama, as evidenced by his words and his deeds, recognizes that:

— We have developed a habit of avoiding the tough decisions and seemingly lost our ability to build consensus to tackle head-on our biggest challenges.

— Demonizing the opposition, oversimplifying the issues, and dumbing down the political debate prevent our country from coming together to make tough decisions and tackle our biggest challenges.

— Solving America’s problems will require difficult choices and sacrifices and leaders capable of considering new ideas from both political parties.

— On foreign policy and security policy, we must recognize that we are not limited to a choice between belligerency and isolation and that we must listen to lead successfully on the key issues facing America and the world.

— Our next president must also recognize that the battle against violent terrorists, while requiring a prudent use of military power, is also a long-term contest of psychology and ideas.

Illegal Immigration Likely to Increase: Mexicans Get Less Aid From Migrants -- Downturn in U.S. Increases Poverty, Desire to Go North

From The Washington Post:

The effects of the subprime mortgage crisis and the downturn in the U.S. economy have cascaded into Mexico, causing a sudden, precipitous drop in the flow of money sent home by Mexican immigrants and highlighting this country's dependence on its wealthier northern neighbor.

In January, the cash transfers, known as remittances, sagged almost 7 percent compared with a year earlier, the steepest monthly dip in at least 13 years, according to Mexican government statistics. Economists here believe the decline in remittances is already pushing thousands into extreme poverty and could lead to a significant increase in migration as desperate Mexicans, deprived of support from abroad, flee to an ever more difficult U.S. job market.

"It is a vicious, perverse circle," Juan Manuel Padilla, a demographer in the economics school at the University of Zacatecas, said in an interview. "Work opportunities here are nonexistent, so this is going to cause more migration to the United States, even though it is getting harder to find work over there."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Let's watch closely to see what happens next: 300 arrested Wedn. in immigration & identity theft raids at Pilgrim's Pride poultry plants in 5 states.

From Newsweek:

Nearly 300 people were arrested Wednesday in immigration and identity theft raids at Pilgrim's Pride poultry plants in five states.

More than 100 people were arrested on immigration violations in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Moorefield, W.Va., with 45 arrests in Mount Pleasant, Texas, on charges of false use of Social Security numbers.

More than 25 people face administrative charges of immigration violations in Live Oak, Fla. They will also face identity theft or document fraud charges. More than 20 were arrested in Batesville, Ark., on federal warrants for alleged document fraud or identity theft.

Bush Concedes World is Not Flat; Changes Course on Global Warming

From The Wall Street Journal:

In a significant shift on global warming, President Bush will propose stopping growth in U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions by 2025 and signal that he is open to lawmakers reining in pollution from power companies.

The stance, set to be unveiled Wednesday at a White House speech, indicates Mr. Bush's willingness to grapple with the growing legislative debate over global warming. It marks an acknowledgment by the Bush administration that the U.S. likely will adopt some sort of broad new legal system to curb greenhouse-gas emissions in coming years. Mr. Bush has opposed comprehensive legislation to curb emissions.

But like an increasing number of utilities and manufacturers, he is aiming to join the discussions in hopes of shaping the debate and creating a system that won't be too costly to industry or consumers.

54 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of Sen. Clinton, up from 40 percent a few days after she won the New Hampshire primary.

From The Washington Post:

[According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, today] more Americans have an unfavorable view of [Sen. Hillary Clinton] than at any time since The Post and ABC began asking the question, in 1992.

In the new poll, 54 percent said they have an unfavorable view of Sen. Clinton, up from 40 percent a few days after she won the New Hampshire primary in early January.

Overall, 51 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said they would prefer to see Obama win the nomination and face Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, in the November general election; 41 percent would rather have Clinton atop the Democratic ticket. Post-ABC polling just before Clinton won the Ohio primary and the popular vote in the Texas primary on March 4 showed nearly the same results.

In hypothetical general-election matchups, Obama holds a slim, five-point lead over McCain, while McCain is three points ahead of Clinton, which is within poll's margin of error. But in the past six weeks, McCain has gained ground on each of his potential rivals.

No shame: Big Tax Breaks for Businesses in Foreclosure Prevention Act

From The New York Times:

The Senate proclaimed a fierce bipartisan resolve two weeks ago to help American homeowners in danger of foreclosure. But while a bill that senators approved last week would take modest steps toward that goal, it would also provide billions of dollars in tax breaks — for automakers, airlines, alternative energy producers and other struggling industries, as well as home builders.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Correct answer from Obama: “A lot of folks are not with me because I’m black — but I’m trying to make my case and bring as many around as I can.”

Bob Herbert writes in The New York Times:

Maybe Barack Obama felt he couldn’t afford to give the correct answer.

He was asked at a fund-raiser in San Francisco about his campaign’s experiences in the run-up to next week’s Democratic primary in Pennsylvania. One of the main problems, of course, is that he hasn’t generated as much support as he’d like among white working-class voters.

There is no mystery here. Except for people who have been hiding in caves or living in denial, it’s pretty widely understood that a substantial number of those voters — in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and elsewhere — will not vote for a black candidate for president.

This toxic issue is at the core of the Clinton camp’s relentless effort to persuade superdelegates that Senator Obama “can’t win” the White House. It’s the only weapon left in the Clintons’ depleted armory.

Senator Obama has spent his campaign trying to dodge the race issue, which in America is like trying to dodge the wind. So when he fielded the question in San Francisco, he didn’t say: “A lot of folks are not with me because I’m black — but I’m trying to make my case and bring as many around as I can.”

Instead, he fell back on a tortured response that was demonstrably incorrect. Referring to the long-term economic distress of many working-class voters, Mr. Obama said: “It’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or antitrade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

He danced all around the truth. Unless you’re Fred Astaire, if your dance steps get too intricate you’re bound to make a misstep. This was a big one.

But there is something perverse in the effort to portray Senator Obama — who has tried hard to promote a message of unity and healing — as some kind of divisive figure. He has spoken with great insight and empathy, most notably in his race speech in Philadelphia, about the anxiety and frustration of middle- and working-class Americans.

In his San Francisco comments, Senator Obama fouled up when he linked frustration and bitterness over economic hard times with America’s romance with guns and embrace of religion. But, please, let’s get a grip. What we ought to be worked up about is the racism that still prevents some people from giving a candidate a fair chance because of his skin color.

Are working people bitter? There’s no doubt that many are extremely bitter over the economic hand they’ve been dealt. Those who believed that America’s industrial heartland was secure and everlasting have been forced to adjust over the past several years to an extremely bitter reality. Jobs and pensions have vanished. The value of the family home is sinking. Health care is increasingly unaffordable. For many, the cost of college is out of reach.

But “bitter” has a connotation that is generally not helpful in a political campaign. Bitter suggests powerlessness and a smallness of spirit. Most people would prefer to be characterized as “angry” — a term that suggests empowerment — rather than “bitter,” with its undertone of defeat.

So this was not a good episode for Senator Obama, however you look at it.

If I were advising him, I would tell him to confront the matter head-on, meeting as often as possible with skeptical, and even hostile, working people in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. Let the questions rip, and answer them honestly.

No one has an obligation to vote for Mr. Obama, and it’s certainly not racist to vote against him. But the senator can make it clear that it is wrong to dismiss a candidacy out of hand solely because of the race or ethnicity or gender of the candidate.

One of Mr. Obama’s strongest points early in this campaign was his capacity to make people feel good about their country again. If I were him, I’d try to re-ignite that flame.

During his victory speech after the Iowa caucuses, he told a tumultuously cheering crowd: “They said this country was too divided, too disillusioned to ever come together around a common purpose.”

Mr. Obama needs to get back on that message of unity and hope, appealing to the better angels of the working classes, while at the same time fashioning an economic message more compelling than what we’ve heard to date.

The various groups, ethnic and otherwise, are not interested in being characterized. They’re interested in being led.

These trade deals have become symbolic bogies for union activists.

David Brooks has a column entitled "A Speech About Nothing" in The New York Times:

We’re in the middle of a series of historic economic transformations.

A string of technological revolutions have made American workers much more productive. Over the past 30 years, steel producers have reduced the number of hours it takes to produce a ton of steel by up to 90 percent.

A social revolution has radically increased the number of women in the work force and pushed down the wages of men.

A medical revolution has led to enhanced diagnosis and treatment but also rapid health care inflation that burdens American employers and eats into workers’ weekly paychecks.

An information revolution has increased the economic rewards of education and punished those who lack it.

A pedagogical revolution has led to ferocious competition to get into the top universities but a decline in quality at the primary and secondary levels. For the first time in the nation’s history, workers retiring from the labor force are better educated than the ones coming in.

All of these huge social forces have had profound effects on how Americans work and live. All of them have combined to create a mass upper class, but also a struggling working class. They have all contributed to rising living standards — and also to the feelings of anxiety that show up in poll after poll.

You would think that if you were a thoughtful presidential candidate, addressing voters in an economically complicated state like Pennsylvania, you would want to describe how these pervasive forces are shaping the lives of voters and how government should respond. But, then again, you are not trapped in a campaign bubble. You have not outsourced your brain to political tacticians.

Barack Obama delivered a speech in Pittsburgh on Monday on the economic stresses facing American workers. In the speech, he devoted one clause in one sentence to the single biggest factor affecting the workplace: technological change. He then devoted 45 sentences to one of the least important: trade deals.

Economists differ over how much outsourcing will change the American job market in the future, but there is little evidence that trade has been a major cause of job loss or even wage stagnation so far. As Robert Z. Lawrence of the Peterson Institute for International Economics wrote in a recent study: “The recent increase in U.S. inequality ... has little to do with global forces that might especially affect unskilled workers — namely, immigration and expanded trade with developing countries.”

And yet all Democratic domestic policy discussions have to start with trade and, in 99.9 percent of the cases, end with trade.

And we have not even begun to plumb the insignificance of Obama’s emphasis on Monday. He wasn’t even talking about trade in general. He was talking about the Nafta- and Cafta-style trade agreements whose negative effects on the American economy are barely measurable. And, to make matters even more inconsequential, he wasn’t even taking a clear stand on such deals themselves.

Obama stuffed his speech with the textbook clichés that Democratic consultants tell their candidates to use when talking about trade — warnings about Chinese perfidy and lead paint in toys. But instead of following those clichés into the realm of economic populism, he hedged.

He wound up in the no-man’s land between Lou Dobbs-style populism and Bill Clinton-style free trade. He made a series of on-the-one-hand/on-the-other-hand distinctions about which sort of trade deals he’d support and which he wouldn’t. It added up to a vague, watered-down version of economic light beer. In the end, he suggested a few minor tweaks in the U.S. tax code that would have a microscopic effect on outsourcing, and a few health and safety provisions which might have teenie-weenie effects on investment decisions. The ideas he sketched out in the speech aren’t dangerous. They’re just trivial.

We all know why Obama spoke the way he did on Monday. The forces transforming the American economy are big and hard to control. If you think your listeners aren’t sophisticated enough to grasp them, it’s much easier to blame those perfidious foreigners for all economic woes. It’s much more heroic to pretend that, by opposing Nafta, you can improve the lives of middle-class voters. Furthermore, these trade deals have become symbolic bogies for union activists. Instead of concerning themselves with the tidal waves washing overhead, they’ve decided to insist on bended-knee submission in the holy war against Colombia.

What I don’t understand is why the political consultants prefer this kind of rhetoric. Aren’t there windows in the vans they use to drive around the state? Don’t they see that most middle-class voters are service workers in suburban office parks, not 1930s-style proletarians in the steel mills?

American voters aren’t so stupid as to think their problems are caused by foreigners and malevolent lobbyists. When Obama speaks down to his audiences, it makes me so bitter I want to cling to my laptop and my college degree.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Obama: "What we want to do is helping people avoid making this difficult choice. That nobody is pro-abortion -- abortions are never a good thing."

From The Washington Post:

As strong and consistent abortion foes, Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. and former congressman Timothy J. Roemer are anomalies in a Democratic Party that has overwhelmingly advocated abortion rights. Yet both are backing Sen. Barack Obama . . . .

As firmly as Casey (Pa.) and Roemer (Ind.) have adhered to their opposition, Obama has never supported a single measure that would curtail access to abortion -- even under controversial circumstances. But Casey and Roemer have chosen to ignore Obama's legislative record, and are promoting the Democratic presidential candidate to their antiabortion allies as someone who could achieve a new consensus on the issue. "He has the unique skills to try to lower the temperature and foster a sense of common ground, and try to figure out ways that people can agree," Casey said, although the freshman senator added, "On this issue, it's particularly hard."

The endorsements send a powerful signal in two critical battlegrounds: Pennsylvania, which will hold its primary on April 22, and Indiana, which will vote on May 6. Both states have sizable segments of socially conservative Democrats who reject the party's orthodoxy on an issue they have long viewed as troubling and complex.

[L]ast week in Indiana, he said that both sides of the abortion debate are guilty of hyperbole.

"The mistake pro-choice forces have sometimes made in the past, and this is a generalization . . . has been to not acknowledge the wrenching moral issues involved," he said. "And so the debate got so polarized that both sides tended to exaggerate the other side's positions. Most Americans, I think, recognize that what we want to do is avoid, or help people avoid, making this difficult choice. That nobody is pro-abortion -- abortions are never a good thing."

Asked last night at a nationally televised forum on religious and moral values if there can be "common ground" on abortion, Obama said that "people of good will can exist on both sides." With Casey watching from the audience at Messiah College outside Harrisburg, Pa., he added that while there will always be irreconcilable differences between opponents and supporters of abortion rights, "we can take some of the edge off the debate."

Obama is trying hard to make inroads into Clinton's support among women, and in at least one primary -- in New Hampshire -- her campaign successfully made an issue of his commitment to abortion.

A flier mailed out just before the primary targeted "present" votes Obama had cast in the Illinois legislature. Although he was acting at the behest of local abortion rights advocates, his advisers think that female voters backed off their candidate as a result, probably contributing to his narrow and surprising loss.

[W]hoever wins the nomination, Democrats are likely to try to defuse the issue in the general election.

An Iraqi View of the War

From The Washington Post:

Iraq's ambassador to the United States, Sameer Shaker Sumaidaie, [said that when] "the Americans breezed in" five years ago, they found a country where Saddam Hussein's "security apparatus [had] represented more than 50 percent of employment" and years of sanctions had caused the collapse of government institutions and services.

In the wake of the U.S. occupation, he said, there was "a revolution of the underclass and the diminution of power by the middle class." He said the Shiite underclass, now led by followers of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and other movements, is "a huge section of the Iraqi population which was deprived for decades [under Saddam Hussein]. It lacked services, it lacked education. It was used as cannon fodder in the wars of Saddam. It was disenfranchised and had very little power."

At the same time, he said, the Iraqi middle class, mostly Sunni, was weakened -- before the war by United Nations economic sanctions and afterward "by certain decisions taken in the first year or two of American rule in Iraq." By that he meant the anti-Baathist regulations and dissolution of the Iraqi army under Coalition Provisional Authority chief L. Paul Bremer III.

"The underclass came to the fore with considerable influence on it by the clergy," Sumaidaie said. The resulting violence, he said, came from the underclass of the two Islamic sects. "On the Sunni side, they were the foot soldiers of al-Qaeda. On the Shia side, they were and are the foot soldiers of [Sadr's] Mahdi Army."

The extremism of both, he said, "was driven by leaders who wanted to exploit it and fed by external influences for obviously geopolitical purposes."

Sumaidaie warned about elections. He said the first set in 2005 "created a lot of problems," primarily because voters were given a list of parties and not individuals. The upcoming provincial elections will be different, he said, because voters will know candidates' names. He added that "there is a realization at the political level that this is important." Therefore, he predicted, there could be more "flare-ups" like the one last month in Basra.

"Can I guarantee that these elections will be on the first of October? No, I cannot guarantee that they will," he said. "But, I can tell you that there is a serious intention of having them done on time."

Answering his own rhetorical question about the future between the United States and Iraq, Sumaidaie said, "There is not going to be a magic transformation. . . . The Americans got themselves into this and they bear a lot of responsibility for what has happened."

In the end, however, the ambassador acknowledged, "We want them [U.S. forces] to leave. Let's be very clear. Ultimately, Iraq has to be independent -- totally independent, stand on its own feet, and have a long-term relationship with the United States built on mutual interest."

Clinton seemed frustrated when a reporter asked when she had last attended church or fired a gun. "That is not a relevant question for this debate."

I love it.

From The Washington Post:

Obama has suggested that he phrased his comments clumsily, and earlier Sunday, it was clear that he had heard enough from Clinton. [H]e said he expected such an attack from Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the presumptive Republican nominee, but not from a fellow Democrat.

"Shame on her. She knows better," Obama said of Clinton. He mocked his rival for recalling her childhood hunting experiences on the campaign trail earlier in the day. "She is running around talking about how this is an insult to sportsman, how she values the Second Amendment. She's talking like she's Annie Oakley," Obama said, invoking the famed Wild West sharpshooter.

"Hillary Clinton is out there like she's on the duck blind every Sunday," he continued, laughing. "She's packing a six-shooter. Come on, she knows better. That's some politics being played by Hillary Clinton."

Earlier in the day, Clinton seemed frustrated when a reporter asked when she had last attended church or fired a gun.

"That is not a relevant question for this debate," Clinton said. "We can answer that some other time. I went to church on Easter, so . . . but that is not what this is about."

Clinton declined repeatedly to describe her personal faith and how it informs specific decisions, citing "the way I was raised" and implying that she keeps such matters to herself. Asked why there is suffering, if there is a God, she said, "I can't wait to ask Him. I have just pondered it endlessly." [Watch it Hillary; such responses will result in your becoming the object of focus.]

Earlier in the article it is noted:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) asserted Sunday night that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), through his recent description of sentiments in small-town America, reinforced a stereotype of "out-of-touch" Democrats that doomed the party's past two presidential nominees.

"We had two very good men, and men of faith, run for president in 2000 and 2004. But large segments of the electorate concluded that they did not really understand or relate to or frankly respect their ways of life," Clinton said at Messiah College, referring to former vice president Al Gore and Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.). She repeated her view that Obama had been "elitist . . . and, frankly, patronizing."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

They don't call him the Dean for nothing: Big business, having gotten a legislature it bought & paid for & deserved, better heed the Dean's counsel.

Bill Shipp, the Dean of Georgia Politics and Journalism, writes:

Since the recent crashing finish of the 2008 session of the General Assembly, the media have been full of various state leaders lamenting the lack of productivity and the egotistical rancor of various Gold Dome politicians. Prominent among those quoted have been the business leaders of metro Atlanta, decrying the lost opportunity to deal with pressing issues like traffic, health care and water.

Before you feel too sorry for those corporate titans weeping while staring out the windows of their 50th-floor conference rooms, remember this - those same people gave us the state government we have today. Over the last several years, the metro Atlanta business community has gone all in with the state GOP, funding them at such a massive level that Republican bank accounts have been insurance against Georgia's beleaguered Democrats ever regaining power.

In 2001 our business friends knew they had a problem with Georgia's state flag: It prominently featured the Confederate battle emblem, a 1956 design inspired by Dixiecrat resistance to the budding civil rights movement. That issue was causing worsening heartburn for business leaders afraid their companies would be subject to an economic boycott similar to what was happening in South Carolina at the time.

That fear led the corporate boardroom boys down to the Gold Dome to convince Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes and his Democrats in charge of the General Assembly to change the flag. The business crowd promised heavy support for Barnes and the legislative Democrats who walked the plank. Not surprisingly, the promises were empty. The rage among white voters was worse than expected and Barnes and the General Assembly's Democratic majority were gone.

The business boys couldn't have been happier. They got their flag change (something only the Democrats would have done), but the crowd they really wanted in charge took over. The Republicans promptly set about the business of pleasing their big business pals. They repealed Barnes' law cracking down on predatory lending and restricted the right to sue. Gov. Sonny Perdue even did the boardrooms' bidding when it came to his 2002 promise to let Georgians vote whether to put the Confederate emblem back on the state flag. He held the referendum, but he left out the chance to vote for the 1956 version featuring the relevant insignia.

The honeymoon, however, was quickly over. While Georgia companies have been dutifully pouring corporate cash into GOP coffers and starving the Democrats, the Republican masters of the Gold Dome have not returned the favor.

Take the crisis at Grady Hospital. The business community is rightly concerned that a Grady collapse would put health care in jeopardy across the metro region. Not only does Grady have an indispensable trauma center and burn unit, but its closure would also flood hospitals across Georgia with the indigent patients Grady now handles. A shuttered Grady is an unmitigated disaster.

The business community has essentially taken over Grady through its new nonprofit board, wresting control from the governments of Fulton and DeKalb counties. The new board is stacked with Republican business loyalists.

Even with a new board, the General Assembly thumbed its nose at its obligation to provide state support to keep Grady afloat.

On issue after issue, the business community came up short. Their plan to allow regional referendums on sales taxes to fund traffic relief projects was rejected. They failed to get trauma care funding to ensure an adequate statewide network of emergency rooms. Nothing that passed will seriously address the state's water supply crisis. And the GOP majority again shorted the funding formula for our schools and universities, further damaging an education system that once was Georgia's greatest asset in attracting new employers.

Sen. David Adelman, D-Decatur, was quoted a few months ago saying the problem at the Capitol is that the state is "being governed through the prism of a Republican primary." He's right. Jockeying by ambitious pols to win Republican primary votes is the main event under the Gold Dome. That makes for ugly politics and worse policy.

Here's hoping that enough people are aware of this unworkable mess to start supporting two-party government again.

This story has legs: Small-town voters “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them” as a way to explain their frustrations

Yesterday I did a post criticizing Hillary for painting Obama as an elitist because of his remarks at a private fundraiser in San Francisco about small-town voters in economically distressed areas of Pennsylvania being "bitter."

I am going to eat some crow. I don't fault Hillary (and later it will be the GOP) for jumping on this horse for a long ride.

The comment was a gaffe, and a big one at that (I hope it was only a gaffe, and that Obama does not really think people are not serious about their religious beliefs, right to bear arms, and disgust with the federal government for having dropped the ball on illegal immigration).

The remarks about religion and guns especially risk running off Reagan Democrats, whose economic condition would seem to make them likely Democratic voters but, because their social values align with a more conservative agenda, have in recent elections ended up voting -- utterly against their own interests -- for Republican candidates.

For the record, I remain firmly in the Obama camp, but I hope he can clean up this gaffe, and while doing so, put an American flag in his lapel and end his speeeches with "God Bless America," buy Rev. Wright a one-way ticket to Hiroshima, and tell Michelle to get proud and show it.

From The New York Times:

Senator Barack Obama fought back Saturday against accusations from his rivals that he had displayed a profound misunderstanding of small-town values, in a flare-up that left him on the defensive before a series of primaries that could test his ability to win over white voters in economically distressed communities.

For a second day, Mr. Obama sought to explain his remarks at a recent San Francisco fund-raiser that small-town Pennsylvania voters, bitter over their economic circumstances, “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them” as a way to explain their frustrations.

Acknowledging Saturday that “I didn’t say it as well as I should have,” he explained his remarks by focusing on his characterization of those voters’ economic woes. He meant, he said, that voters in places that had been losing jobs for years expressed their anxiety at the polls by focusing on cultural and social issues like gun laws and immigration.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton activated her entire campaign apparatus to portray Mr. Obama’s remarks as reflective of an elitist view of faith and community. His comments, she said, were “not reflective of the values and beliefs of Americans.”

Mrs. Clinton suggested that Mr. Obama saw religious commitment, hunting and concern about immigration as emotional responses to economic strain rather than as deeply embedded values.

“I grew up in a church-going family, a family that believed in the importance of living out and expressing our faith,” she said at a rally in Indianapolis. “The people of faith I know don’t ‘cling to’ religion because they’re bitter. People embrace faith not because they are materially poor, but because they are spiritually rich.”

Later in the day, in Valparaiso, Ind., she reminisced about her father teaching her how to shoot when she was a young girl.

Although she has been a strong supporter of gun control in the past, urging Congress to “buck the gun lobby” as first lady, Mrs. Clinton said, “Americans who believe in the Second Amendment believe it’s a constitutional right; Americans who believe in God believe it’s a matter of personal faith.”

Mr. Obama, of Illinois, had already been under pressure to show that he was capable of connecting with voters in industrial states who have been hit hard by years of economic upheaval and now feel especially vulnerable in the new downturn.

As a result, his remarks in San Francisco provided an opportunity not just for Mrs. Clinton, but for Senator John McCain of Arizona, the presumptive Republican nominee. Republicans are seeking to win over Reagan Democrats, whose economic condition would seem to make them likely Democratic voters but whose social values align with a more conservative agenda.

It was not clear whether Mr. Obama’s remarks were resonating with voters. But they came at a critical time, as he heads toward a debate on Wednesday with Mrs. Clinton and the primary on April 22 in Pennsylvania. Mrs. Clinton, of New York, is hoping a strong victory there will keep aloft her prospects of winning the Democratic nomination. The two candidates are also both appearing Sunday night in Harrisburg, Pa., at a forum on values and faith.

While Mr. Obama cast his remarks as an expression of populist sympathy for a displaced working class, Mrs. Clinton and her surrogates suggested that they went to the heart of his political vulnerability: while his message of hope has energized young and affluent voters, he has yet to dispel concern about whether a young, African-American candidate can persuade white, working class Democrats that he represents their interests.

The comments presented the Clinton campaign with the kind of opportunity it had been hoping for, in which Mr. Obama would show a vulnerability that could be exploited.

Mr. Obama made the remarks at a closed-door fund-raiser in San Francisco last Sunday — before a very different crowd from those he has been courting in Pennsylvania and Indiana — after he was asked why he was not doing better in Pennsylvania. Polls there show him narrowing the gap with Mrs. Clinton but still lagging behind.

“You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them,” Mr. Obama responded, according to a transcript of the fund-raiser published on Friday on The Huffington Post Web site.

“And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not,” Mr. Obama went on. “And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or antitrade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

By Saturday morning, Mr. Obama was trying to contain the political damage after a series of late-night and early-morning strategy calls in which advisers decided he had to acknowledge that he made a mistake.

His aides made a flurry of calls to superdelegates to explain his remarks and to reassure them about his electability. And Mr. Obama told audiences Saturday that what he had said about people’s economic circumstances was true, if inartfully expressed, but that he was not trying to play down the importance of religion or gun rights.

Gov. Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania, who is Mrs. Clinton’s most prominent supporter in that state, said Mr. Obama should not have implied that rural voters were clinging to their guns as a way of dealing with their frustrations.

“People in rural Pennsylvania don’t turn to guns and religion as an escape,” Mr. Rendell said. “Hunting and sportsmanship are long-established traditions here, and people of faith founded the commonwealth and continue to live here. What the senator has done is essentially misread what is actually happening in Pennsylvania.”

Ed Mitchell, a Democratic consultant in Wilkes-Barre who supports Mr. Obama, said that while he did not agree with the comments, he still favored him. “I think he’s right that voters are frustrated, but I don’t think they seek refuge in anything so much as they want leadership and change,” Mr. Mitchell said. “That’s why I support him. I think he offers that best.”

David Saunders, a Democratic strategist and rural advocate, advised John Edwards’s presidential campaign but is now neutral. He said he believed that Mr. Obama’s comments would offend rural voters.

“It could mean he’s rendered himself unelectable,” Mr. Saunders said. “This is a perfect example of why Democrats lose elections.”

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Perdue should veto bill allowing citizens with gun permits to be armed in restaurants, public transportation vehicles, & state parks without apology.

I did a 04-09-08 post entitled "(1) Will he or won't he veto it? & (2) 'Note to waiters and waitresses: Smile when you hand out the menus, and no arguing over 5 percent tips.'"

Today The Brunswick News has an editorial urging Gov. Perdue to veto the recent legislation allowing guns in restaurants. It notes in part:

Businesses in Georgia are understandably upset at legislation pushed through the state General Assembly that knocks the Peach State back into the old days of the wild, wild west – when everyone walked around with a six-gun on their hip. With a that-a-boy high five from the National Rifle Association, the House and Senate weakened existing state law to allow citizens with gun permits to be armed in restaurants, public transportation vehicles and state parks.

Businesses voiced opposition to the legislation during the early weeks of the General Assembly, but somehow, between all the rushing and chaos during the final day of the 2008 session, the measure softening the law got through.

Now, restaurants and others across the state are urging Gov. Sonny Perdue to veto the legislation. They don't want it because they don't want anybody and everybody possessing a concealed weapons permit bringing guns to the table when they sit down to order food or alcohol.

The Georgia Restaurant Association says it is more concerned about potential violence than it is about someone having the right to carry a weapon into an upscale or fast-food eatery. The association has allies, including the likes of the Georgia Hotel and Lodging Association. It, too, thinks the governor should deep six the legislation.

Those cheering on gun laws say people have the right to protect themselves. No argument there. They do. But not at the risk of the safety and lives of innocent bystanders.

This is bad legislation that was pushed by people who receive and accept campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association. Period.

Gov. Perdue should veto it without apology.

Sniper fire dodging Hillary has no pride as revealed in her attempt to paint Obama as an elitist because of his 'bitter' remark. Go get her Omaba.

Hillary is intent on taking the Democratic Party and its chances for winning the White House in November down with her.

The woman has stoomped to a new low in her attempt to paint Obama as an elitist because of his remark at a private fundraiser in San Francisco that small-town voters in economically distressed areas of Pennsylvania are "bitter."

From The Washington Post:

"Well, that's not my experience," Clinton told a crowd of several hundred at Drexel University. "As I travel around Pennsylvania, I meet people who are resilient, who are optimistic, who are positive. . . . They're working hard every day for a better future for themselves and their children. Pennsylvanians don't need a president who looks down on them. They need a president who stands up for them, who fights for them."

In remarks first reported on the Huffington Post Web site, Obama said, "You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them.

"And they fell through the Clinton administration and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are going to regenerate and they have not," he went on. "And it's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

Obama's comments came at the end of a lengthy answer in which he rejected the notion that voters were passing him over simply for racial reasons, saying instead that his campaign of hope and change was having difficulty in "places where people feel most cynical about government."

"Everybody just ascribes it to 'white working-class . . . don't want to vote for the black guy,' " Obama said at the fundraiser.

"Here's how it is: In a lot of these communities in big industrial states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, people have been beaten down so long. They feel so betrayed by government that when they hear a pitch that is premised on not being cynical about government, then a part of them just doesn't buy it. And when it's delivered by -- it's true that when it's delivered by a 46-year-old black man named Barack Obama, then that adds another layer of skepticism."

The controversy erupted just as Obama has appeared to gain ground on Clinton in Pennsylvania, which holds its primary April 22. Since losing the Ohio primary on March 4, he has fought to counter questions about whether he can successfully appeal to white working-class voters, with Pennsylvania seen as a critical test.

Obama advisers quickly sent out the full comments from the fundraiser in an effort to show that Obama, far from looking down at people, was entirely sympathetic to their situation and to their distrust of politicians.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Good moves Mr. President: Bush Dispatches Envoys to Arab Capitals as Part of Iraq Plan

From The New York Times:

President Bush directed Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, and Ryan C. Crocker, the American ambassador to Baghdad, to stop in Saudi Arabia on their way back to Iraq from Washington to encourage the Saudis to increase their overall support for Iraq, Mr. Bush said Thursday.

The president also said he had ordered senior American diplomats to the Middle East to meet leaders of Kuwait, Jordan, Qatar, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates and urge them to reopen their embassies in Baghdad, as Bahrain did recently. Mr. Bush said that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would attend a conference later this month in Kuwait for neighboring states and another in Stockholm for nations helping Iraq rebuild its economy.

Please Dem. candidates: Let's leave welfare as a 2nd chance and not go back to where it was a way of life -- One of Clinton's signature achievements.

President Bill Clinton signed legislation in 1996 overhauling the welfare system.

From The New York Times:

In the summer of 1996, President Bill Clinton delivered on his pledge to “end welfare as we know it.” Despite howls of protest from some liberals, he signed into law a bill forcing recipients to work and imposing a five-year limit on cash assistance.

As first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton supported her husband’s decision, drawing the wrath of old friends from her days as an advocate for poor children. Some accused the Clintons of throwing vulnerable families to the winds in pursuit of centrist votes as Mr. Clinton headed into the final stages of his re-election campaign.

Despite the criticism and anxiety from the left, the legislation came to be viewed as one of Mr. Clinton’s signature achievements. It won broad bipartisan praise, with some Democrats relieved that it took a politically difficult issue off the table for them, and many liberals came to accept if not embrace it.

Mrs. Clinton’s opponent in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Senator Barack Obama, said in an interview that the welfare overhaul had been greatly beneficial in eliminating a divisive force in American politics.

But now the issue is back, pulled to the fore by an economy turning down more sharply than at any other time since the welfare changes were imposed.

During the presidential campaign, [Mrs. Clinton] has faced little challenge on the issue, in large part because Mr. Obama has supported the 1996 law. “Before welfare reform, you had, in the minds of most Americans, a stark separation between the deserving working poor and the undeserving welfare poor,” Mr. Obama said in an interview. “What welfare reform did was desegregate those two groups. Now, everybody was poor, and everybody had to work.”

On the campaign trail, Mrs. Clinton is largely focused on the middle class. Since the departure from the Democratic race of John Edwards, who had made poverty a centerpiece of his campaign, there has been little debate about social welfare policy. But in promising on Friday to establish a cabinet-rank poverty-fighting position if she is elected, Mrs. Clinton reintroduced the topic and the question of her record.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

McCain, in Reversal, Asks Government To Step Up in Housing Crisis

From The Wall Street Journal:

John McCain called for an aggressive federal government role aimed at stabilizing the housing market, reversing a largely hands-off approach outlined two weeks ago.

Illegal Immigration: Visa Violators Swept Up In Widening Dragnet

From The Wall Street Journal:

Mexicans and other Latin Americans, who often sneak into the U.S. on foot, are the face of today's rancorous debate over illegal immigration. But increasingly, other groups of undocumented immigrants -- known as "OTMs," or "other than Mexicans" within the Department of Homeland Security -- are being swept up, too.

Most came to the U.S. on planes, with valid visas and passports from Ireland, India, Poland or elsewhere. They stayed in the country after those visas expired, and eluded detection by immigration authorities as they went about their lives, often laying down roots in their new communities. The Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research group, estimates that up to 45% of the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. are visa overstayers. Europeans account for 400,000 of them.

In recent years, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has implemented a new strategy to identify people who are here illegally: Get local police to nab them on an unrelated offense, such as a traffic infraction.

Historically, immigration enforcement has been the purview of federal agents posted primarily at ports of entry and border areas. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the federal government began expanding the role of local police in immigration enforcement. Initially, the goal was to help find potential terrorists. As the program has expanded, more immigrants are being turned in.

State and local law-enforcement officers can in many instances determine with a quick computer search or phone call whether a person stopped for a traffic violation or arrested for a crime has violated immigration law. If a match is confirmed, ICE instructs the police officer to detain the person until an agent can take custody.

Supporters of the latest crackdown say it is long overdue. They say many illegal immigrants, including visa overstayers, have been given a free pass by the government, thanks to lax enforcement. "If in the normal course of duty, police come across somebody they have reason to believe is in the country illegally, they ought to cooperate with immigration authorities," says Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a national group that calls for curbing all illegal immigration. "They might not be a child molester, but they are here illegally."

ICE says it lacks the manpower to go after the hundreds of thousands of people who are here illegally, so it prioritizes going after people with criminal records and employers who hire undocumented workers. Even when it has the address of someone who has evaded deportation . . . it says it doesn't necessarily make an arrest. The intensified coordination between federal agents and local police thus has helped fill a gap.

Critics say the federal government is diverting local police from basic priorities, like community safety, to arrest immigrants who usually don't pose a security threat. The strategy can also lead to ethnic profiling, they say, because police officers might be more likely to run checks on people who have accents or who they think look foreign.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

(1) Will he or won't he veto it? & (2) "Note to waiters and waitresses: Smile when you hand out the menus, and no arguing over 5 percent tips."

Well, it is up to the governor whether House Bill 89 becomes law.

This legislation was the parking lot guns bill which sparked the big fight between the NRA and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce that was pending from the 2007 legislative session. A compromise version passed both houses on the last day. It includes a watered-down version of the parking lot provision, plus extended carry rights for those licensed to carry pistols, and allows motorists to carry a pistol anywhere in their automobiles (before a gun had to be in a glove box or console).

The part of the bill on carrying pistols allows for concealed weapons to be carried into restaurants that serve less than 50 percent alcohol, state parks, and on public transportation. A ban on concealed weapons still would exist in other public gathering places, including sporting events, bars, and churches.

The part about restaurants reminds me of a 01-03-05 post I did entitled:

I love the Political Insider's captions. Such as: "Note to waiters & waitresses: Smile when you hand out the menus, & no arguing over 5 percent tips."

The 01-03-05 post provided:

The 01-03-05 AJC's Political Insider informs us that lobbyists for the National Rifle Association are quietly buttonholing the state's GOP leaders, pinning down support for legislation that would allow concealed weapons to be carried into many Georgia restaurants and food-serving bars — though not nightclubs.

Gun advocates refer to it as "Luby's Law," named after the 1991 incident in which an unemployed merchant seaman drove his pickup truck into a Luby's cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, leaped out and opened fire. He killed 23 people and wounded more than 20 before killing himself.

At least one restaurant customer had a handgun in a car, and a carrying permit. But Texas law barred concealed weapons in restaurants and other places that serve alcohol.

According to Baxter & Galloway, as contemplated in Georgia, the ban on weaponry at public gatherings, such as political rallies, would continue (I was getting a tad nervous there).

Could such become law? Sure. The Political Insider also reports that Katie Grove, chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Bill Stephens, left her job last week. She's been hired as a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. She'll handle gun issues in Georgia and several other states.

One thing for sure. I bet Gov. Perdue sure is proud of Ms. Grove. He loves to see friends and family do well, especially in government related positions where he has influence.

When the dust settles on this Luby's Law thing, it could end up being another urban vs. rural divide issue. For you see, we in the Other Georgia pack heat wherever we go, church, Friday night football games, soda fountains, you name it, everywhere but to school (on the latter, we are God-fearing and law abiding people, you know).

And of course they're in our vehicles. You remember (October 2003):

''I want to be the candidate for the guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks. We can't beat George Bush unless we appeal to a broad cross-section of Democrats.''

And the speaker was just being gracious in not adding guns in the same breathe with Confederate flags. We don't hide 'em. We display 'em on the rear window. They are part of our Southern heritage.

Georgia Power: If you're going to do anything about carbon and greenhouse gases, nuclear has to be a part of that solution.

Today my hat is off to Georgia Power.

From the AJC:

Georgia Power said Tuesday it has reached an engineering and construction deal with Westinghouse Electric Co. for two 1,100-megawatt nuclear reactors at the utility's Vogtle plant south of Augusta.

If approved, the plants promise customers higher power bills when they come online in 2016. The deal marks the first agreement between a power company and a nuclear-reactor vendor in the United States since the 1970s, said Oscar Harper, Georgia Power's vice president of resource planning.

Nuclear power is making a comeback in the United States as the nation tries to lessen its dependence on natural gas and foreign oil as well as cut back on carbon emissions and other pollutants.

[N]uclear plants are actually cheaper in the long run. There are two main messages: The fuel is not as prone to wild price swings like natural gas. Secondly, it also does not produce carbon emissions and will not be subject to a future carbon tax, which will plague coal-fired and natural gas plants.

"A nuclear plant is more expensive upfront, but it's cheaper to run," Harper said. "And if you're going to do anything about carbon and greenhouse gases, nuclear has to be a part of that solution."

Georgia Power is acting on behalf of Vogtle's other co-owners: Oglethorpe Power, Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and Dalton Utilities.

My hometown Douglas is a proud member of the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia.

My goodness: NAACP says authorities should investigate the South Georgia (Ware County) teacher who was target of alleged murder plot.

From The Georgia Times-Union:

NAACP leaders are calling for an expanded investigation that they believe may reveal the real reason nine Ware County third grade pupils are accused of plotting to harm their teacher.

They denied the children, three of whom have been charged with felonies, were plotting murder, as claimed by investigators.

Editorial in The Washington Post: "An early or unconditional withdrawal would invite disaster 'with devastating consequences . . . .'"

An editorial from today's The Washington Post:

What . . . neither party wants to hear [is that w]hile "progress is real," as Mr. Crocker put it, it is also "fragile" and "reversible," as Gen. Petraeus said. That's why Gen. Petraeus is recommending -- correctly, in our view -- that troop withdrawals be suspended after the five surge brigades are withdrawn and that further reductions be based on conditions in Iraq.

Contrary to Mr. McCain's suggestion [that "success is within reach" and that American goals can be achieved "perhaps sooner than many imagine,"], success will require a prolonged commitment, and even then it will not be guaranteed. But [Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker] both argued that such a commitment is justified. Even with all the travails of the past five years, "Iraqis, Americans and the world ultimately will judge us far more on the basis of what will happen than what has happened," said Mr. Crocker. And an early or unconditional withdrawal would, as he noted, invite disaster "with devastating consequences for the region and the world."

As Prices Rise, Farmers Spurn Conservation

From The New York Times:

Thousands of farmers are taking their fields out of the government’s biggest conservation program, which pays them not to cultivate. They are spurning guaranteed annual payments for a chance to cash in on the boom in wheat, soybeans, corn and other crops.

For years, the problem with cropland was that there was too much of it, which kept food prices low to the benefit of consumers and the detriment of farmers.

Now, because of a growing global middle class as well as federal mandates to turn large amounts of corn into ethanol-based fuel, food prices are beginning to jump. Cropland is suddenly in heavy demand . . . .

[T]he Conservation Reserve was conceived as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. Participants bid to put their land in the program during special sign-ups, with the government selecting the acres most at risk environmentally. Average annual payments are $51 an acre. Contracts run for at least a decade and are nearly impossible to break — not that anyone wanted to until recently.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

New Financials Problems At DOT: "People will be on their hands and knees thanking God Almighty it (the proposed T-SPLOST) wasn’t on the ballot.”

I confess to not being very disappointed about the T-SPLOST vote on the last day of the legislative session. I say this as a major booster of transportation, and one who recognizes how much our transportation needs are now.

As urgent as our transportation needs are, we need to get a handle on where we are with respect to where things are now. DOT Commissioner Gena Abraham is working on this, but it is going to take longer.

I think that when we do get a handle on things -- which is going to include some bad news with respect to projects in the Other Georgia not going forward for lack of finances -- we can come up with a plan that most everyone can buy into.

Today Dick Pettys has a column in InsiderAdvantage Georgia today entitled "Look For Revelations Of New Financial Management Problems At DOT." He reports:

[Sen. Eric] Johnson said it may be a good thing the Legislature couldn’t agree on a local option sales tax for transportation, which failed by three votes in the Senate on the session’s final night last Friday.

“I think there’s more bad news to come out of DOT. People will be on their hands and knees thanking God Almighty it (the proposed T-SPLOST) wasn’t on the ballot,” he said. He did not elaborate.

The Errors Haunting Clinton

E.J. Dionne, Jr. writes in The Washington Post:

The failure in Iowa, which allowed Obama's candidacy to take off, was Clinton's original strategic sin. Clinton's advisers were ambivalent about competing in the state. They worried that her vote to authorize the war in Iraq would make it hard for her to win in a place whose caucus-going Democrats are, on the whole, staunchly antiwar.

According to a leaked internal memo, Clinton advisers considered skipping Iowa altogether. Instead, her lieutenants were sluggish in organizing in the state and then, realizing the dangers of losing it to Obama, poured in resources -- thus depleting her coffers for the fights to come. Her campaign seemed to have only two speeds: overconfidence and panic.

And Penn committed another sin that, in truth, affected the entire Clinton apparatus: believing that Obama would be trumped by Hillary Clinton's "inevitability" and that media messaging could overpower organization. This meant that the Clinton campaign was, to be charitable, underorganized.

The Race Issue, Still

Richard Cohen writes in The Washington Post:

From time to time, Obama is likened to John F. Kennedy -- both charismatic and inexperienced politicians when they launched their presidential campaigns. But Obama could be like Kennedy in another way as well. Kennedy was a Roman Catholic, and no Roman Catholic had ever been elected president. In the 1960 Wisconsin primary, he . . . won the state but did poorly in Protestant areas. A month later, he won in overwhelmingly (95 percent) Protestant West Virginia and did so because he bought a half-hour of TV time and confronted the religion issue head on. It was a landslide.

Maybe Obama's Philadelphia speech on race served the same purpose. The results from the upcoming primaries, particularly Pennsylvania, will tell. My guess is that he still has not put the race issue to rest -- maybe because he failed to do what Kennedy did in West Virginia. In that speech, Kennedy told Protestant West Virginians that when presidents took the oath of office, they were swearing to the separation of church and state. A president who breaks that oath is not only committing an impeachable offense, he said, "but he is committing a sin against God." In other words, he told West Virginians that their major fear was baseless.

Obama in his Philadelphia speech said nothing as dramatic. On the contrary, when it came to the perceived threat posed by young black men (one out of every nine is in criminal custody), Obama built a fence around the issue by citing his grandmother's "fear of black men who passed her by on the street" -- suggesting it was comparable to what his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, had said. He did not confront white fears. Instead, he implied that they were illegitimate.

[I]f the upcoming Pennsylvania primary simply echoes earlier racial divisions, Obama has to give yet another speech -- this one directed not at the pundits he so enthralls but at the very people who have so far rejected him on account of race. Will it matter? John Kennedy proved a long time ago that it might.

Mark Penn & Dick Morris were responsible for "triangulation," where Pres. Clinton took the center against both conservative GOP & liberal Democrats.

From The Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Penn, 53 years old, has long been considered a voice for centrist Democratic politics, which made him suspect among party liberals from the start.

Along with former Bill Clinton consultant Dick Morris, Mr. Penn helped engineer the former president's comeback strategy after Republicans took control of Congress in 1994, in what was seen as a repudiation of Mr. Clinton. Known as "triangulation," the strategy had Mr. Clinton taking the center against both conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats in Congress. The strategy didn't endear Mr. Clinton -- or Mr. Penn -- to many Democrats, but it did help restore Mr. Clinton's popularity and win his reelection. That accounts, Democrats say, for the Clintons' loyalty to Mr. Penn of late.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Mark Penn: (1) The Postman Always Knocks Twice; & (2) The Pigs Get Fat, and the Hogs Get Slaughtered.

From The Wall Street Journal:

While the Obama campaign so far hasn't publicly exploited Mr. Penn's controversy, and a spokesman again declined to comment last night, the strategist's actions pose a double-barreled threat the Clinton campaign had to address. First, free trade is a controversial issue in the struggling manufacturing state among working-class Pennsylvania Democrats, as it was in Ohio's primary last month.

Moreover, the disclosure that Sen. Clinton's chief strategist is advocating privately for a trade pact she opposes publicly raises questions of the candidate's credibility, a trait where polls already show her weak. Sen. Clinton won last month's Ohio contest by a big margin, in part due to her attacks on Sen. Obama's sincerity in his criticism of free-trade pacts. The Clinton criticisms of her rival were based on reports that his economic adviser had met with Canadian officials and reassured them that Sen. Obama's campaign rhetoric was harsher than his real beliefs about the North American Free Trade Agreement.

From the start of the Clinton campaign 15 months ago, other advisers have complained that Mr. Penn kept the Burson-Marsteller job. It not only held distractions from the campaign, they said, but had the potential for conflicts of interest between the firm's clients and Sen. Clinton's political stands. Previous reports have noted the firm's work for subprime-mortgage lender Countrywide Financial Corp., and for security firm Blackwater, the focus of congressional investigations into private contractors' responsibility for civilian deaths in Iraq. As a candidate, Sen. Clinton has been an outspoken critic of both companies.

For months before the Colombia controversy, many Clinton campaign operatives had sought Mr. Penn's demotion or ouster. He and senior adviser Harold Ickes barely speak, aides say, and Mr. Penn has clashed also with media strategist Mandy Grunwald.

Campaign insiders, as well as many Clinton supporters and donors, had privately hoped for Mr. Penn's departure.

In Ohio, Sen. Clinton had mocked Sen. Obama for what she called his "wink-wink" approach to Nafta, the 14-year-old trade agreement with Canada and Mexico -- criticizing it on the campaign trail, even as his economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee, had agreed to meet with a Canadian official concerned about future U.S. adherence to the pact. While Bill Clinton cites Nafta as a top achievement of his presidency, both Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama have said they would seek changes to toughen labor and environmental protections.

Reflecting her sense that the media treats Sen. Obama more kindly than it treats her, Sen. Clinton at one point during the Ohio campaign challenged a large group of reporters in regard to the Goolsbee matter, "I would ask you to look at this story and substitute my name for Sen. Obama's name and see what you would do with this story... Just ask yourself [what you would do] if some of my advisers had been having private meetings with foreign governments."

Time: It is impossible to overstate how fundamental a change Penn's exit represents in Clinton's campaign

Mark Halperin writes in Time:

Penn has been a controversial figure throughout the campaign, alienating colleagues with his brusque manner and pursuing a strategy emphasizing Clinton's toughness, experience, and electability, at a time when most analysts in both parties see an electorate demanding change.

Although the campaign's statement announcing Penn's departure as chief strategist suggested he would continue to give advice to her effort, it is impossible to overstate how fundamental a change this represents in Clinton's campaign. Penn has had almost full autonomy to make major decisions involving what the candidate says, where she goes, and what gets conveyed in her advertisements. Even as many in the campaign had turned sour on Penn, he reportedly enjoyed the confidence of both Hillary and Bill Clinton.

Don't be in denial. The following is true: Obama May Not Have Fully Contained Damage From Ex-Pastor

Joe Klein recently wrote a column in Time entitled "The Patriotism Problem."

Patriotism is, sadly, a crucial challenge for Obama now. His aides believe that the Wright controversy was more about anti-Americanism than it was about race. Michelle Obama's unfortunate comment that the success of the campaign had made her proud of America "for the first time" in her adult life and the Senator's own decision to stow his American-flag lapel pin — plus his Islamic-sounding name — have fed a scurrilous undercurrent of doubt about whether he is "American" enough.

Indeed patriotism is a challenge for Obama, and it would not hurt him to end a few more speeches with "God Bless America." For despite many in our party being in denial, Obama's "A More Perfect Union" speech has not contained the damage from a name I wish I had never heard, Jeremiah Wright.

Today The Wall Street Journal reports:

Sen. Barack Obama's Philadelphia speech on race relations last month seemed to put the controversial remarks of his former pastor behind him. But three weeks later, there is evidence of lingering damage.

"It has not been defused," says David Parker, a North Carolina Democratic Party official and unpledged superdelegate. He says his worries about Republicans questioning Sen. Obama's patriotism prompted him to raise the issue of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.'s remarks in conversations with both the Obama and Clinton campaigns.

"I'm concerned about seeing Willie Horton ads during the general election," Mr. Parker says, referring to campaign ads that Republicans widely credited for helping defeat Michael Dukakis in 1988. Mr. Parker said the Wright controversy didn't hurt his opinion of Mr. Obama.

No Democrat has won the presidency with a majority of white voters since 1964, and no president from either party has been elected without winning two of the three swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida since 1960. In those three states, some 23% of white Democrats would defect to Sen. McCain in a matchup with Sen. Obama, compared with 11% who would abandon Sen. Clinton, according to the Quinnipiac polls.

"It's a reasonable assumption that ... part of that drop-off among white voters would result from his pastor's notoriety," says Quinnipiac pollster Peter Brown.

While Republicans initially believed that Sen. Clinton would be an easier opponent, strategists say they worry less about facing Sen. Obama now.

Among older, white voters, with whom Sen. Obama has struggled, the Wright controversy could make his climb steeper.

Pork Barrel Remains Hidden in U.S. Budget

From The New York Times:

Sometimes on Capitol Hill, lawmakers find that it pays to ask nicely instead of just ordering the bureaucrats around.

With great fanfare, Congress adopted strict ethics rules last year requiring members to disclose when they steered federal money to pet projects. But it turns out lawmakers can still secretly direct billions of dollars to favored organizations by making vague requests rather than issuing explicit instructions to government agencies in committee reports and spending bills. That seeming courtesy is the difference between “soft earmarks” and the more insistent “hard earmarks.”

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Coming the full circle: (1) White guys are back; and (2) Where do I fit in? Where's the white guys' caucus?

Today I read a column in The New York Times that begins:

It was probably inevitable. The historic contest between a woman and an African-American for the presidential nomination is now all about white men.

Not that the white male voters asked for this. They’ve been uncommitted, supporting Hillary in one contest and Barack in the next. But all that hemming and hawing has turned them into the deciding factor in the big upcoming primary in Pennsylvania.

The Times column was captioned "White Guys Are Back," and it reminded me of post that I did shortly after the November 2, 2004 election that reflected my feelings about how our party should try to emphasize what we have in common rather than things with which all members do not agree.

I reposted part of the earlier post in a 11-26-06 post.

I will readily admit that I never thought in either 2004 or 2006 that we would have a woman and an African-American vying for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.

For starters, I never thought that Hillary, with all of the negative sentiment about her, would ever get as far as she has; and while I knew Obama had a promising future in our party, it did not occur to me that he would progress so rapidly. Without question his campaign will go down in campaign history for its organization, strategy, and fund-raising tactics.

But I did know we had a true challenge to get the male white voter back into the fold, something that the mere mention of irks some of the so-called progressives on the left.

Part of the 11-26-06 post provides:

It seems that in the past anytime Democrats met, the first order of business was to divide us into our party's various caucuses as we identified ourselves. There was the black caucus, the Hispanic caucus, the lesbian and gay caucus, etc.

But what happens in the future when I try to bring one of my high school buddies back into our party's fold? He will not be accustomed to going to Democratic meetings and having to be identified as being in one of several of our party's constituencies?

In such a situation you know what this white male voter is going to immediately wonder -- where do I fit in? Where's the white guys' caucus?

For these and other reasons, we are into a very different mode now. We are now in the process of rebuilding, and as such we are far less interested in black caucuses and white caucuses and Hispanic caucuses. We want Democratic caucuses.

And in this process of rebuilding, we are far less interested in liberal caucuses and conservative caucuses. Again, we want Democratic caucuses.

And along the same line, I will tell you that my buddy shares something in common with millions of farmers, factory workers, waitresses and just plain ole regular good people in Georgia and across our country. He ended up voting -- utterly against his own interest -- for Republican candidates. We are going to address and take care of this between now and 2006.

And since ours is the party of hope and dreams, the party of the people, the party of inclusion, we think there is room in our party for beliefs that we share with most Americans, those who hold middle-of-the-road positions on abortion, guns, taxes and other issues.

We are beyond letting the forces of evil continue to outmaneuver us. We are reflecting back on how we operated when we were the big tent party, and how we can tolerate opinions and positions divergent from perhaps a majority of the party.

It is not our intent in our post Nov. 2, 2004 mode to be put on the defensive. We recognize that Karl Rove, Inc. wants to force us to defend taxes and lawyers, gay rights and unfettered access to abortion.

We're not going there. We're going to the Governor's mansion and the White House, and will remember and look after those who help get us there, just as President Clinton did when he was elected in 1992.

And we do appreciate the majority of our party, the party faithful. It is our base, and we know that in order to win future elections, we must we expand our base and appeal to other voters without alienating our base, the party faithful.

If we are to remain a relevant party, we must come together and stay together. As I stated in my 12-13-04 post:

"'A house divided against itself cannot stand,' said Abraham Lincoln, paraphrasing the Master's words found in Matthew 12:25. 'And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, 'Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.'

"Words of wisdom for all ages, and especially appropriate for us to remember in the challenging days as we recognize and accept that we no longer are a majority party; that our base is now only 42% or less; and that we must expand on the base while being sure to keep our base."

Just as the 2007 session ended on a sour, bickering note among top Republicans, so, too, did this one.

The previous post quoted Dick Pettys in noting that "just as the 2007 session ended on a sour, bickering note among top Republicans, so, too, did this one."

Witness three corners of this boxing ring circus:

From the House's corner, Speaker Glenn Richardson:

“I hope Georgians by the 9 million will thank him tomorrow and flood him with e-mails and tell him we're sick of Casey Cagle. It's time to get a new lieutenant governor.”

And from the Senate's corner, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle:

"It is unfortunate that those who were in the position to join us in providing tax relief were blinded by ego and unwilling to come to an agreement."

And from the Office of the Governor's corner, Gov. Sonny Perdue sounds off from afar so as to leave no doubt whose side he is on in this fight:

“The Lieutenant Governor and the Senate recognize the importance of fiscal responsibility, and while they worked for a tax cut, they weren’t willing to sacrifice our state’s fiscal health. For the second year in a row, the Speaker’s tirades blame everyone but himself.”

(Quotes taken from Dick Pettys' article entitled "A Ragged Ending For A Session That Promised Much And Didn't Deliver" in InsiderAdvantage Georgia .)

Thomas Jefferson: If the game sometimes runs against us, we must have patience till luck turns, for this is a game where principles are at stake.

A 11-09-04 post provided in part:

From the Father of Our Party

A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt. If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake.

Thomas Jefferson, 1798 (upon the passage of the Sedition Act)

With the 2008 Georgia legislative session ending on what Dick Pettys describes as "a sour, bickering note among top Republicans" just as did the 2007 session, and with things looking up on the national level, I think it is safe to say that Lady Luck may be smiling upon us.

We have been patient; we have kept the faith. We are ready to rise and fight again.

As noted in a 11-10-04 post"

It will take more than a little patience, but keep the faith.

In times such as this I recall one of my Scottish favorites, Sir Andrew Barton, for comfort and patience to keep the faith. Barton was in a crucial battle with King Henry VIII, and while injured, encouraged his troops to fight on, saying:

"I am hurt, but I am not slain;
I'll lay me down and bleed a while,
And then I'll rise and fight again."

Rep. Mike Jacobs' comment: “You might as well have written my opponent a check.” -- Meet the opponent.

The previous post was entitled "Rep. Mike Jacobs to fellow legislator on her contribution in defeating the abortion bill: “You might as well have written my opponent a check.”

A commenter noted: "WOW! Great idea. It took some looking up - but I found him. www.keithgross.com.

The opponent's name is Keith Gross (pictured above), and my friend Amy Morton of Georgia Women Vote! also commented: "I've heard we may have another democrat in that contest."

Friday, April 04, 2008

Rep. Mike Jacobs to fellow legislator on her contribution in defeating the abortion bill: “You might as well have written my opponent a check.”

The AJC's Political Insider recounts:

As the seconds ticked by, state Rep. Jill Chambers (R-Atlanta), held her thumb downward as a signal to others. “I’m tired of men in the Capitol playing vaginal politics,” she said later.

[Rep. Mike Jacobs of Atlanta] switched to the Republican party only last spring. Minutes after H.B. 1299 was sent down the tubes, [Rep. Sharon Cooper of Cobb County] said that Jacobs walked up to her desk, tossed her a brochure from his Democratic opponent and said, “You might as well have written him a check.”

The foregoing raises an important issue. Where do we send our checks.