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Cracker Squire


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

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

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The ingrats: Prime Minister Casting U.S. Withdrawal as Iraq Victory

From The New York Times:

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has taken to calling the withdrawal of American combat troops from Iraq’s cities by next Tuesday a “great victory,” a repulsion of foreign occupiers he compares to the rebellion against British troops in 1920.

More than 150 American bases or outposts have been closed in Iraqi cities this year — 85 percent of the total, an Iraqi official said — including some that commanders considered crucial.

The Americans asked to keep open an outpost in Sadr City, the Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad that once served as the base of Shiite militias, only to be rebuffed.

“This is one we wanted,” Brig. Gen. John M. Murray said. “The Iraqi government said ‘no,’ so now we are leaving.”

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Cracker Squire: The Fair and Balanced Blog, or put another way, sometimes one comes along that, despite blog etiquette, you just can't resist sharing.

In all fairness to Governor Sanford's staff, "I'm getting some Argentinean tail" sounds a lot like "I'm getting on the Appalachian Trail."

Thursday, June 25, 2009

She ought to have run for president herself then: Michelle Wants to Be Part of Events with Purpose & a Message & That Parallel the President's Agenda

From The Washington Post:

For weeks, Michelle Obama had been telling her staff and closest confidantes that she wasn't having the impact she wanted. She is a woman of substance, with a background in law, public policy and management, who found herself relegated to role model in chief. The West Wing of the White House -- the fulcrum of power and policy -- had not fully integrated her into its agenda. She wanted more.

So, earlier this month, she changed her chief of staff, and now she's changing her role.

Her new chief of staff, Susan Sher, 61, is a close friend and former boss who the first lady thinks will be more forceful about getting her and her team on the West Wing's radar screen. The first thing Sher said she told senior adviser David Axelrod, whom she has known for years: When I call, "you need to get back to me right away."

Senate Democrats Address Immigration -- Rejecting the euphemism "undocumented workers," he said: "Illegal immigration is wrong -- plain and simple."

From The Washington Post:

Senate Democrats outlined plans yesterday to overhaul the nation's immigration laws, including a requirement that all U.S. workers verify their identity through fingerprints or an eye scan.

Speaking on the eve of a White House summit with congressional leaders on immigration, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) said a national system to verify work documents is necessary because Congress has failed to crack down on unscrupulous employers and illegal immigrants with fake documents.

"I'm sure the civil libertarians will object to some kind of biometric card -- although . . . there'll be all kinds of protections -- but we're going to have to do it. It's the only way," Schumer said. "The American people will never accept immigration reform unless they truly believe their government is committed to ending future illegal immigration."

By announcing his plans, Schumer, who chairs the Senate's main immigration subcommittee, ushered in what President Obama has signaled will be his next major legislative campaign, after the economic stimulus plan, health care and energy.

Schumer said legislation should secure control of the nation's borders within a year and require that an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants register with the government and "submit to a rigorous process to convert to legal status" or face immediate deportation. Rejecting the euphemism "undocumented workers," he said: "Illegal immigration is wrong -- plain and simple."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Galloway: ‘Take a hike’ doesn’t mean what it did yesterday. Then again, maybe it does. + So who knew the Appalachian Trail stretched that far south?

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford takes the oath of office for a second term with his wife, Jenny, and four sons, standing by, on Jan. 10, 2007.

From The Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Sanford said he was immediately stepping down as chairman of the Republican Governors Association to concentrate on repairing his relationships with his wife, four sons and constituents. Minutes later, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a former party chairman, was named the new head of the organization.

Katon Dawson, former South Carolina GOP chairman, said the governor's disappearance and accompanying explanations for it were "the damnedest thing I'd ever seen" and added to the trouble facing the Republican Party.

The caption of this post are from the one and only Jim Galloway of the ajc's Political Insider at this link and this link.

Voting Rights Act survives a constitutional challenge in the Supreme Court

The Washington Post and The New York Times report that a key part of the landmark Voting Rights Act survived a constitutional challenge this week in the Supreme Court, but justices made it clear that a law forged in the darkest days of the nation's civil rights struggles may no longer be appropriate in a new era of American racial politics.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Friedman: There is only one precedent for an oil-funded autocrat in the Middle East being toppled by a people’s revolution, not by a military coup.

Tom Friedman writes in The New York Times:

The popular uprising unfolding in Iran right now really is remarkable. It is the rarest of rare things — more rare than snow in Saudi Arabia, more unlikely than finding a ham sandwich at the Wailing Wall, more unusual than water-skiing in the Sahara. It is a popular uprising in a Middle Eastern oil state.

Why is this so unusual? Because in most Middle East states, power grows out of the barrel of a gun and out of a barrel of oil — and that combination is very hard to overthrow.

Oil is a key reason that democracy has had such a hard time emerging in the Middle East, except in one of the few states with no oil: Lebanon. Because once kings and dictators seize power, they can entrench themselves, not only by imprisoning their foes and killing their enemies, but by buying off their people and using oil wealth to build huge internal security apparatuses.

There is only one precedent for an oil-funded autocrat in the Middle East being toppled by a people’s revolution, not by a military coup, and that was in ... Iran.

Recall that in 1979, when the Iranian people rose up against the shah of Iran in an Islamic Revolution spearheaded by Ayatollah Khomeini, the shah controlled the army, the Savak secret police and a vast network of oil-funded patronage. But at some point, enough people taking to the streets and defying his authority, and taking bullets as well, broke the shah’s spell. All the shah’s horses and all the shah’s men, couldn’t put his regime back together again.

The Islamic Revolution has learned from the shah. It has used its oil wealth — Iran is the world’s fifth-largest oil producer, exporting about 2.1 million barrels a day at around $70 a barrel — to buy off huge swaths of the population with cheap housing, government jobs and subsidized food and gasoline. It’s also used its crude to erect a vast military force — namely the Revolutionary Guard and the Basij militia — to keep itself in power.

Therefore, the big question in Iran today is: Can the green revolution led by Mir Hussein Moussavi, and backed by masses of street protestors, do to the Islamic regime what Ayatollah Khomeini and the Iranian people did to the shah’s regime — break its spell so all its barrels and bullets become meaningless?

Iran’s ruling mullahs were always ruthless. But they disguised it a bit with faux elections. I say faux elections because while the regime may have counted the votes accurately, it tightly controlled who could run. The choices were dark black and light black.

What happened this time is that the anger at the regime had reached such a level — because of near-20 percent unemployment and a rising youth population tired of seeing their life’s options limited by theocrats — that given a choice between a dark black regime candidate and a light black regime candidate, millions of Iranians turned out for light black: Mr. Moussavi. The Iranian people turned the regime man into their own candidate, and he seems to have been transformed by them. That is why the regime panicked and stole the election.

The playwright Tom Stoppard once observed that democracy is not the voting, “it’s the counting.” Iran’s mullahs were always ready to allow voting, as long as the counting didn’t matter, because a regime man was always going to win. But what happened this time was that in the little crack of space that the regime had to allow for even a faux election, some kind of counter-revolution was born.

Yes, its leader, Mr. Moussavi, surely is less liberal than most of his followers. But just his lighter shade of black attracted and unleashed so much pent-up frustration and hope for change among many Iranians that he became an independent candidate and, thus, his votes simply could not be counted — because they were not just a vote for him, but were a referendum against the entire regime.

But now, having voted with their ballots, Iranians who want a change will have to vote again with their bodies. A regime like Iran’s can only be brought down or changed if enough Iranians vote as they did in 1979 — in the street. That is what the regime fears most, because then it either has to shoot its own people or cede power. That is why it was no accident that the “supreme leader,” Ayatollah Khamenei, warned protestors in his Friday speech that “street challenge is not acceptable.” That’s a man who knows how he got his job.

And so the gauntlet is now thrown down. If the reformers want change, they are going to have to form a leadership, lay out their vision for Iran and keep voting in the streets — over and over and over. Only if they keep showing up with their bodies, and by so doing saying to their regime “we cannot be bought and we will not be cowed,” will their ballots be made to count.

I am rooting for them and fearing for them. Any real moderation of Iran’s leadership would have a hugely positive effect on the Middle East. But we and the reformers must have no illusions about the bullets and barrels they are up against.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

God Bless America! -- Times Reporter Held Hostage by Taliban Escapes

From The Wall Street Journal:

A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist from the New York Times who was abducted by Taliban fighters has escaped after more than seven months of captivity, according to a Times spokeswoman.

Here is The New York Times story in Sunday's paper.

Things change: Attack on Britain was playing to popular resentment of Britain & perhaps avoiding confronting USA's renewed appeal among many Iranians.

From The New York Times:

When Ayatollah Ali Khamenei used his speech at Friday Prayer in Tehran to denounce Britain as “the most evil” of Iran’s enemies, he was striking a chord with a deep resonance in the psyche of Iranians, the legacy of a long history of British imperial intrusions into their country’s affairs.

Singling out Britain, and not the “great Satan” of the United States, so often the bugaboo for Iran’s leadership since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, might seem an odd choice for Iran’s supreme leader, when the government he leads faces its greatest crisis in 30 years.

But British scholars on Iran said Ayatollah Khamenei’s attack on Britain was characteristic of a Tehran leadership that resorts under pressure to a mix of crude stereotypes that play well at home. They said it might also reflect a concern not to slam the door opened by President Obama, who is offering a new dialogue in his search for a diplomatic solution to the impasse over Iran’s nuclear program.

If that were the calculation, Ayatollah Khamenei may have correctly concluded that going after Britain would cost Iran little, judging by the carefully hedged response to the Tehran speech by Britain’s prime minister, Gordon Brown.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Most Trusted Man in America; "And that's the way it is . . ."; President Johnson: "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America."

Legendary CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite, 92, long known as the "Most Trusted Man in America," is gravely ill, according to multiple CBS News sources and published reports.

Following Cronkite's editorial report during the Tet Offensive that the Vietnam War was unwinnable, President Lyndon Johnson is reported to have said, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Latest setback for GOP that has suffered losses of at least 13 Senate seats in the past 2 elections & saw Sen. Specter defect to Democrats in April.

From The Washington Post:

Sen. John Ensign (Nev.), considered a rising star in the Republican Party, yesterday acknowledged an extramarital affair with a former campaign staffer who is married to one of the lawmaker's former legislative aides.

The news was the latest setback for a party that suffered losses of at least 13 Senate seats in the past two elections and saw Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) defect to the Democrats in April. Any further instability in their ranks is unwelcome news for Republicans, who viewed Ensign as a telegenic communicator who could deliver the conservative message on political talk shows in a congenial matter.

He does not face reelection until 2012 and had taken preliminary steps to explore a run for the White House that year, making a trip three weeks ago to Iowa, the first testing ground on the presidential primary calendar.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bernanke warns that the government can't keep piling up debt at current rates without creating severe financial problems.

From The Wall Street Journal:

Financial markets once again are awash in government cash.

The growing liquidity also is creating serious policy challenges. Senior economists, including Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in congressional testimony on June 3, have begun warning that the government can't keep piling up debt at current rates without creating severe financial problems.

In coming years, officials will need to raise taxes, cut spending, or both to mop up the ocean of liquidity they have created. That process could weigh on growth and stifle the market boom.

Past liquidity-driven booms haven't ended well. In 1998, the Federal Reserve injected cash into the economy to rescue teetering bond markets. The unintended outcome: Technology stocks soared and then cratered. After the government turned on the spigot in 2001 to stave off deflation, residential real estate surged and then collapsed.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Stakes For Obama This Fall

David Broder writes in The Washington Post:

It was probably inevitable that the elections for governor taking place in November in New Jersey and Virginia would be seen by many people outside those states as a referendum on Barack Obama's performance as president.

Those will be the first statewide contests since he entered the White House, and they are taking place in states he won last year. But forces of history and economics add to the presidential stakes in the outcomes.

History: In 1993, a year after the previous Democratic president, Bill Clinton, was elected, Republicans captured Virginia's governorship with George Allen and New Jersey's with Christine Todd Whitman. Their victories set the stage for the GOP takeover of Congress in 1994 that in turn prepared the way for George W. Bush's presidency.

After losing Congress in 2006 and the White House last year, Republicans are desperate for some good news -- and they look to be competitive in both these states.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Attorney who led the legal challenge to Chrysler-Fiat plan thinks courts let us down during perceived crisis. -- The passing of an American icon.

As I have been writing, I don't see this ending good for America.

And I am not opposed to using Chapter 11 to shed unprofitable dealerships and the UAW contract, the latter being something that didn't really happen and with the UAW VEBA now owning 55% of the company. The UAW contract was renegotiated prior to the filing. And the result is that the stock ownership of the VEBA compared to the lenders who financed Chrysler (and but for this roughshod treatment here and with GM) probably won't in the future is crazy.

Chrysler's restructuring calls for the company to form an alliance with Fiat, the Italian auto maker. A UAW retiree health-care trust fund, the VEBA, will hold 55% of the new Chrysler's equity, and the U.S. and Canadian governments would hold small stakes. Fiat can build its initial stake to 35% through the introduction into the U.S. market of certain technologies, including a 40-miles-per-gallon engine by 2012.

Under an agreement with Chrysler, Fiat could have pulled out of the deal next Monday if it hadn't cleared the courts, though just as I wrote in prior posts that Fiat wasn't about to walk away from something being given to it, the Italian auto maker said Tuesday that it had no intention of abandoning the arrangement. Why should it -- Fiat is getting a 20% stake in an American icon without putting up any cash.

Sometimes the cure is worst than the disease.

But for the Fiat's involvement and the American courts ignoring established law, I would wish Chrysler well. But as noted in past posts, I don't feel good about this whole thing.

I don't feel the same way as after Lee Iacocca famously told us after the 1979 bailout: "If you can find a better car, buy it."

From The Wall Street Journal:

Thomas Lauria, a White & Case lawyer who led the legal challenge [to Chrysler's plan in Chapter 11], said his experiences in the past month "cause me to...directly raise the question as to whether our judiciary is today able to fulfill its constitutional mission, that is, to ensure that the rule of law prevails -- particularly in the face of perceived crisis."

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

David Brooks weighs in: Sonia Sotomayor’s record shows that she is a hard-working, careful-though-unspectacular jurist whose commitment is to the law.

David Brooks writes in The New York Times:

Sonia Sotomayor had bad timing. If she’d entered college in the late-1950s or early-1960s, she would have been surrounded by an ethos that encouraged smart young ethnic kids to assimilate. If she’d entered Princeton and Yale in the 1980s, her ethnicity and gender would have been mildly interesting traits among the many she might possibly possess.

But she happened to attend Princeton and then Yale Law School in the 1970s. These were the days when what we now call multiculturalism was just coming into its own. These were the days when the whole race, class and gender academic-industrial complex seemed fresh, exciting and just.

There was no way she was going to get out of that unscarred. And, in fact, in the years since she has given a series of speeches that have made her a poster child for identity politics. In these speeches, race and gender take center stage. It’s not only the one comment about a wise Latina making better decisions than a white male; it’s the whole litany. If you just read these speeches you might come away with the impression that she was a racial activist who is just using the judicial system as a vehicle for her social crusade.

And yet her history and conversations with her colleagues suggest this is not the main story. If you look at the whole record, you come away with the impression that Sotomayor is a hard-working, careful-though-unspectacular jurist whose primary commitment is to the law.

When Sotomayor left Yale, she didn’t take the route designed to reinforce her ideological dispositions. She became a prosecutor with District Attorney Robert Morgenthau in Manhattan. She told The Times in 1983 that in making this decision, she faced “a tremendous amount of pressure from my community, from the third-world community at Yale. They could not understand why I was taking this job.”

In the years since, she has not followed the easy course. More than any current member of the Supreme Court, she worked her way up through the furnace levels of the American legal system. And when she reached a position of authority, she did not turn herself into an Al Sharpton in robes.

She is quite liberal. But there’s little evidence that she is motivated by racialist thinking or an activist attitude.

Tom Goldstein of Scotusblog conducted a much-cited study of the 96 race-related cases that have come before her. Like almost all judges, she has rejected a vast majority of the claims of racial discrimination that came to her. She dissented from her colleagues in only four of those cases. And in only one of them did she find racial discrimination where they did not. Even with what she calls her “Latina soul,” she saw almost every case pretty much as they did.

When you read her opinions, race and gender are invisible. I’m obviously not qualified to judge the legal quality of her opinions. But when you read the documents merely as examples of persuasive writing, you find that they are almost entirely impersonal and deracinated.

My Times colleague Adam Liptak has reported that Sotomayor’s opinions reflect “diligence, depth and unflashy competence.” They are, as he noted, technical, incremental and exhaustive.

To my eye, they are the products of a clear and honest if unimaginative mind. She sticks close to precedent and the details of a case. There’s no personal flavor (in the boring parts one wishes there were). There’s no evidence of a grand ideological style or even much intellectual ambition. If you had to pick a word to describe them, it would be “restraint.”

Looked at in her totality, Sotomayor seems to be a smart, careful, hard-working judicial professional, who along the way picked up a patina of 1970s race-, class- and gender-consciousness.

It’s interesting to compare Sotomayor’s thinking with Barack Obama’s. On the grand matters of race in America, they are quite different. Sotomayor has given a series of speeches arguing that it is not possible or even desirable to transcend our racial or gender sympathies and prejudices. During the presidential campaign, Obama gave a speech in Philadelphia arguing for precisely that, calling on America to move beyond the old categories and arguments.

Sotomayor sometimes draws a straight line between ethnicity, gender and behavior. Obama emphasizes our multiple identities and the complex blend of influences on an individual life.

Yet in practice, they do have a lot in common. In practice, Sotomayor is a liberal incrementalist. Her careful opinions embody the sort of judicial minimalism that Obama and his aide Cass Sunstein admire most.

In short, Sotomayor’s career surpasses the crude categories she sometimes articulates. Despite the ideas she picked up while young, she has, over many years, chosen to submit herself to the discipline of the law, and she has not abused its institutions. I hope she’s confirmed.

You can take 'em to the trough, but you can't make 'em drink: Boston Globe Union Rejects Wage and Benefits Cuts (amazing!)

I can't believe this key union did this. It narrowly voted down a pay package that was designed to save the newspaper. Management immediately responded by imposing cutbacks nearly three times as large.

From The New York Times:

After weeks of labor tension and 12 hours of suspenseful voting, members of the Newspaper Guild at The Boston Globe narrowly rejected a proposed package of wage and compensation cuts. As a result, the newspaper’s owner, The New York Times Company, said it would proceed with its threat to unilaterally impose a 23 percent salary cut.

Monday, June 08, 2009

I do believe in the "system:" High Court Delays Quick Sale of Chrysler

A 6-06-09 post was entitled "Unlikely, but the appeal by a small group of lenders could prevail. I hope it does. Fiat will not walk, & 1st lien positions were trampled upon here."

A post from early this a.m. was entitled "And he drew near to the Philistine -- I am pulling against Chrysler and Fiat today."

I have been out of town today, and just saw the headlines from the wsj that things have been slowed down at least a day, and maybe more.

The issue is the U.S.-brokered sale of Chrysler that by forced senior secured lenders to write down their loans to the auto maker broke with longstanding tradition concerning rights in a bankruptcy: Senior secured lenders usually are paid in full before lower-priority creditors receive anything. This time, a United Auto Workers retiree health-care trust got a 55% equity stake and $4.5 billion note for its about $10.5 billion unsecured claim while Fiat stands to get an initial 20% stake.

And he drew near to the Philistine -- I am pulling against Chrysler and Fiat today.

“Then he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in his shepherd’s bag, in his wallet; his sling was in his hand, and he drew near to the Philistine.” 1 Samuel 17:40

Here is today's New York Times entitled "Opponents of Chrysler Sale to Fiat Make Appeal to Supreme Court."

Good news comes in pairs: (1) U.S. Weighs Intercepting North Korean Shipments; & (2) U.S.-Backed Alliance Appears to Win in Lebanon

(1) The New York Times reports that the Obama administration signaled that it was seeking a way to interdict North Korean shipments suspected of carrying weapons or nuclear technology.

(2) This paper also reports that the unofficial results in the contest for control of the Lebanese Parliament were a significant and unexpected defeat for Hezbollah and its allies, Iran and Syria.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Galloway knocks it out of the park: A kinder, gentler, non-arrogant Roy Barnes says “The law, as well as the Gospel, allows a place for repentance.”

Jim Galloway in today ajc's Political Insider has penned a vintage Galloway keeper. Doing a Reader's Digest version would not be fair to either Mr. Galloway or my readers. He it is, word for word:

Eight minutes into his chatty encounter with reporters last week, but before he announced his attempt at a comeback, former Gov. Roy Barnes apologized to the voters who removed him from office in 2002.

“I realized that I was impatient, and that I had an aggressive agenda,” Georgia’s last Democratic governor said. “I didn’t take time to explain why I thought certain issues were important.”

To teachers in particular, the former governor said his mistakes had been of the head and not the heart.

To the rest of us, the Marietta attorney and Methodist church-goer noted, “The law, as well as the Gospel, allows a place for repentance.”

But voters are a tribunal with their own rules, and can be more unforgiving than the Old Testament or any hanging judge. Neither you, me, nor Roy Barnes knows what their verdict will be.

To see a defeated governor of Georgia make a comeback is rare enough. Gene Talmadge, the namesake of Roy Eugene Barnes, did it in 1946.

When a Georgia governor ousted by voters begins his comeback campaign with an act of contrition, we have truly entered uncharted territory.

Apologies have become commonplace elsewhere in American politics — so common that we catalog them by degree.

Newt Gingrich has offered up mea culpas time and again, the latest only last week — when the former U.S. House speaker confessed he probably shouldn’t have Twittered that U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor was a “racist.”

We have taken to calling such moves “step-backs,” implying that the retreat is more about strategy than sincerity.

In 1979, George Wallace showed up unannounced at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., a church once pastored by Martin Luther King Jr., to express full-bodied regret for the pain his segregationist policies had caused African-Americans.

He was elected governor of Alabama for a final time in 1982.

But at the bottom of Wallace’s apology — we all hope — was a change of heart. Barnes’ statement of regret last Wednesday was for the style of his four years as governor, from 1999 to 2003. Not the substance.

It was regret for the arms that were twisted and the heedless pushing through of decisions. “I didn’t slow down and explain,” Barnes said.

But not for the decisions themselves.

It is a fine but important line. For, more than anything else, Barnes will be pitting himself against what he sees as eight years of Republican stagnation in the state Capitol — particularly when it comes to education and transportation.

Barnes will offer a return to action, but this time with less arrogance.

Significantly, Barnes said his close friend and former chief of staff, Bobby Kahn, who famously kept track of lawmakers’ loyalty on a computer program, would have no formal leadership role in the campaign.

“[Barnes] still has his core principles and core values and his core method of being decisive and making the trains run on time — in effect running the state like it ought to be run,” said another close friend, former congressman Buddy Darden of Marietta. “You’re selling competence. At the same time, you’re saying this is a kinder, gentler Roy Barnes, I suppose.

“The world loves a reformed sinner. Too many people don’t admit their mistakes,” Darden said.

A humbler Roy Barnes is also a financial necessity. In 2002, his campaign used the clout of incumbency to wring $20 million from supporters.

In a brutal economic downturn, money for a 2010 race will be hard to come by. Barnes estimated he’ll need between $10 million and $12 million — which will have to be raised through charm, not intimidation.

An apology, anthropologists and theologians tell us, is the required first step in the restoration of a relationship that has been bruised or broken.

Usually, a single display is not enough. Nine centuries ago, Henry IV spent three days, barefoot in the snow in front of a pope’s castle, begging for his excommunication to be lifted.

Barnes’ penance will last slightly longer, but he will be allowed shoes and the heat of a Georgia summer.

A campaign contact said that, over the next few weeks, the former governor will continue to meet privately with small groups of voters across the state, introducing the new and improved Roy Barnes.

But the man who offers an apology has no guarantee that it will be accepted. This is the risk that Barnes has taken.

“Uncertainty and the possibility of rejection — those were the factors that really entered into Roy’s decision. That’s why the decision was so difficult,” Darden said. “Roy Barnes knows this is going to be a difficult campaign and it’s going to take every ounce of his energy. At the same time, he knows he could lose.”

When the Thrill of Blogging Is Gone ... -- “There’s a joke within the blogging community that most blogs have an audience of one.”

From The New York Times:

According to a 2008 survey by Technorati, which runs a search engine for blogs, only 7.4 million out of the 133 million blogs the company tracks had been updated in the past 120 days. That translates to 95 percent of blogs being essentially abandoned, left to lie fallow on the Web, where they become public remnants of a dream — or at least an ambition — unfulfilled.

Richard Jalichandra, chief executive of Technorati, said that at any given time there are 7 million to 10 million active blogs on the Internet, but “it’s probably between 50,000 and 100,000 blogs that are generating most of the page views.” He added, “There’s a joke within the blogging community that most blogs have an audience of one.”

Saturday, June 06, 2009

The Great U-Turn -- Global Migration Flows Reverse for the First Time Since the Depression as Work in the Rich World Dries Up

From The Wall Street Journal:

The developed world, which for decades has offered a difficult but promising path to upward mobility, appears to be losing its allure. Unemployment is rising, and backlashes against foreign workers are mounting.

The result is potentially the biggest turnaround in migration flows since the Great Depression, economists say.

Full migration numbers for most countries are only available after a long lag, and so don't yet capture all the effects of today's economic crisis. But anecdotal reports and data from government ministries and outside organizations indicate that the flow of immigrants from poor to wealthier countries is slowing significantly for the first time in decades while more people are returning home. Among the returnees: road builders from Bangladesh, domestic servants from the Philippines, factory workers from Indonesia and Vietnam, construction workers from Mexico, as well as bankers, lawyers and real-estate professionals from around the world who were working in Singapore and Dubai.

Emigration from Mexico to the U.S. dropped 13% in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year, with more Mexicans leaving the U.S. than coming in. Indonesian authorities expect 60,000 or more citizens to be sent home from Malaysia, South Korea and other wealthy neighbors this year, as immigrant workers lose their jobs. Tens of thousands of Indians are washing their hands of Dubai as jobs there dry up and work permits expire. And in the U.K., the number of registered workers coming from new European Union member nations like Poland and the Czech Republic dropped 55% in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the same quarter a year earlier.

In the U.S., long a lure for Latin American immigrants, the number of undocumented workers from the region appears to have peaked, and may now be falling, according to a recent study by the Pew Hispanic Center. The population of South Americans, for example, has declined by as much as 400,000 from a peak of about three million in 2006, says Pew demographer Jeffrey Passel. Much of the declines are among high-skilled workers from Colombia, where the security situation has improved, and Brazil, whose economy has seen huge growth in recent years.

"What we're seeing is the normal outflow" of migrants leaving the U.S. to go back home, and "a huge drop-off in the inflow" coming into the U.S., says Mr. Passel.

In the case of Mexico, Latin America's largest supplier of new immigrants to the U.S., data released this week by the Mexican government shows emigration to the U.S. dropped 13% in the first quarter of 2009. In the same period, more people returned to Mexico than left Mexico for the U.S., about 139,000 and 137,000, respectively.

The new GM may "succeed" at getting to profitability, but only as much as taxpayers have absorbed tens of billions of losses in upfront equity.

From The Wall Street Journal:

It won't be very hard for a revamped GM to succeed at making a buck. Its debts will be cut from about $73 billion to about $17 billion. Its labor costs will be reduced by as much as $2 billion a year.

On Wednesday, GM got even more help. GMAC, which funds dealers and car buyers [for both GM and Chrysler], began issuing $3.5 billion in three-year debt backed by the federal government. This should cost GMAC about 2.2% annually. Ford Motor Credit just priced a five-year bond. It's paying 8%.

"New GM" will thus have a far easier road to turning a profit over the next 12 to 18 months. And you can bet that first profitable dollar will be cause for celebration in Washington and Detroit.

But let's break the magician's credo and show how the trick works. Beneath the magician's table is a black box. It happens to be stuffed with about $65 billion in cash.

That's taxpayer money. Some $20 billion of it was given to GM over the past few months, and another $30 billion is being used for the company's reorganization. About $15 billion of it goes to support GMAC, which the Obama administration says is essential to keeping GM alive.

Like any lender, the government would be expected to demand this money be repaid. But that's not really happening here. Save for $8 billion in debt and another $2.1 billion in preferred stock, the money is being converted into an illiquid 60% stake in GM.

Why didn't the government take more debt and less equity in GM? It worried that GM couldn't bear the interest expense. Explained another way: The new GM may "succeed" at getting to profitability, but only as much as taxpayers have absorbed tens of billions of losses in upfront equity.

Measuring it as an investment, it appears nearly impossible that taxpayers will get their $65 billion in equity back.

The government's 60% stake backs into an implied GM market capitalization of about $70 billion. It will support another $26 billion in debt and preferred stock owed to the U.S. Treasury and the UAW.

GM's best market cap was $60 billion in 1999, when it was cranking out high-margin SUVs. Even with huge amounts of debt and other liabilities, GM produced record annual revenue of $176 billion. Also, its pretax, preinterest profit margins were a stellar 12.6%.

With the bankruptcy plan, GM will have shed four brands, its majority-ownership stake in GMAC and most of its European operations. Roughly speaking, this might put its annual revenue at about $100 billion. Assuming GM can return to Ebitda margins of 10% (they're currently negative) would mean GM's earnings power will have been cut by over half compared with a decade ago.

What is that revenue stream worth? Through most of this decade, one of the world's best car companies, Toyota Motor, has been valued at about eight times its cash flow to enterprise value. Say an outside investor is willing to value GM's cash flows at six times. Roughly speaking, that makes GM's equity worth $33 billion, meaning taxpayers' stake would be worth only $20 billion, less than half their original $42 billion equity investment. And that doesn't include the uncertain fate of the $15 billion given to GMAC.

Still, one day in 2010 or 2011, GM will declare itself profitable. The government's bailout plan will be hailed. But it will be an illusion created by taxpayers' black box of billions.

I don't think this Fiat thing will have a good ending: U.S. Pushed Fiat Deal on Chrysler

My uncomfortable feeling on this Fiat thing has nothing to do with my not being a member of the Bob Nardelli (chairman and CEO of Chrysler) fan club to put it mildly; actually don't even like the guy as shown from my past posts. I hate it for America, but I just don't like this thing is going to work out as planned.

Although I suspect that in a couple of years -- for the reasons noted in the post that follows -- we will be served with a bag of horse manure about how great the GM thing is working out, I don't believe the Chrysler bailout will have as good an ending.

Putting no skin in the game, Fiat will initially own 20% of the new Chrysler, and have the option of increasing its stake to as much as 51%. The UAW would initially get a 55% stake, while the U.S. and Canada, which are lending Chrysler $4.9 billion during the bankruptcy, would own 8% and 2%, respectively.

Read the emails from this article in The Wall Street Journal and draw your own conclusions.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Obama’s Address in Cairo -- Interactive video and transcript of President Obama’s speech to the Muslim world.

The video and transcript are found here from The New York Times.

The New York Times article on this historic speech is here.

The Wall Street Journal article on the speech is here.

And The Washington Post article on the speech is here.

(1) Whatever is behind Larry Walker's early exit from DOT board, I support. I have absolute confidence in him; & (2) From the Cracker Squire Archives

The ajc's Political Insider reports:

Larry Walker, vice chairman of the state transportation board, announced Thursday he would resign early, at the end of June, because of “the probability of other opportunities that are incompatible with my being on the Board.”

Walker, a former House majority leader, has served about two and a half years of his five-year term. Though he served in the Legislature as a Democrat, he has close ties to Gov. Sonny Perdue, a Republican.

In an interview with my AJC colleague Ariel Hart, Walker would not say what those opportunities were, but gave his “sacred word of honor” that his departure had nothing to do with the turmoil DOT has endured over the last couple years.

“Service at DOT in the last 18 months has not been real pleasant,” Walker said. But “if this possible opportunity had not arisen I would have served it out because I don’t run from problems.”

He said his “incompatible” activity would not be elective office, another full-time job or transportation consulting.

Whatever Larry Walker thinks is best for him, I support. This guy is a class act. My admiration is reflected in the following 1-24-05 post from the Cracker Squire archives entitled "It just won't be the same without you Larry." - Larry Walker, private citizen, great Georgian & great Democrat":

When the General Assembly convened in January it was missing someone, someone who had become a fixture in the Capitol since first arriving there 32 years before, almost half of which time he spent honorably serving his party as its majority leader.

But even more than being a fixture during his 32 years of service to his district and state, Larry Walker became an icon, an icon of the Democratic Party of Georgia.

As stated in an editorial in The Macon Telegraph earlier this month:

"In his 32 years in the Georgia Legislature, Perry native Larry Walker did his home district proud. . . .

"He did the state proud, too, in the way he handled his fall from grace in 2002 after his unsuccessful bid for the speaker of the house position."

The following are excerpts from a 12-31-04 article in The Macon Telegraph by Gary Tanner:

Leaders of more than 20 Georgia organizations will soon find out they were on the Christmas list of retiring state Rep. Larry Walker, D-Perry.

Walker announced Thursday he has donated $102,000 in leftover campaign contributions to local charities, churches and other causes.

"The checks went out yesterday," Walker said Thursday morning while sitting in a rocking chair in his law office. "Unless they've got it already in the mail today, they don't know. I didn't tell them I was going to do it."

Walker made 24 donations ranging from $1,000 to $25,000 from a campaign warchest built over 16 terms in the state House of Representatives.

Walker has in the past supported Democrats with contributions from his own campaign accounts, but chose to give at the end of his career to local groups doing good works, he said.

After 32 years in the Georgia General Assembly, the 2005 session will be absent its longtime majority leader and a man renowned for bringing bacon back to his district.

"Pork is what you got that somebody else wanted," Walker said. "In Macon, the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter is considered pork. In Perry, the Georgia Music and Sports halls of fame is pork."

Walker said he has no apologies to make about bringing state money from Atlanta for projects in and around Perry.

"I always saw my job as producing for the district more than its fair share," he said. Nowhere is that more evident than off Larry Walker Parkway in Perry, which runs beside the 1,100-acre fairgrounds which host the annual Georgia National Fair and other events throughout the year.

Walker was first elected to the General Assembly in 1972, serving 15 years as majority leader, and lost a bid to succeed longtime House Speaker Tom Murphy, who was defeated in 2002.

"This is the first time in 32 years I haven't been rushing to finish things here and get ready for the session," Walker said. "I am totally, 100 percent content with my decision not to run again."

The Democratic Party icon . . . said he plans to work at his law practice four days a week. He also plans to try his hand at fly fishing.

University of Georgia officials have asked Walker for his official papers and he has agreed to donate them.

Like many powerful politicians who retire or are defeated, Walker has been asked about becoming a lobbyist.

"I'm not going to lobby," he said. "I might not ever go back to the Capitol."

Walker has been asked to speak to new lawmakers about the potential pitfalls of service in the General Assembly.

"I guess I'll tell them how not to lose their business, their family and not get indicted," he said.

Walker would not rule out running for public office again, but called the possibility "extremely remote."

And while his grandfather and father were both involved in politics, Walker said he hopes his children and grandchildren are "smart enough" not to follow that example.

"I will not forbid it, but I will not encourage it either," Walker said. "Politics is a mean business."

We all recall the tense battle between Rep. Terry Coleman and Rep. Walker to succeed Tom Murphy as House speaker after Murphy was defeated in Nov. 2002.

From personal knowledge, I know that many legislators agonized and fretted over this decision of whom to support for speaker of the House. For many, close bonds and years of friendship were something they shared with each candidate.

I feel certain that many legislators told each candidate he or she was steadfastly in his corner.

I recall one legislator, when asked in a public meeting who he would support, give an answer that reminded me of what Gov. Marvin Griffin once said: "Some of my friends are Democrats; some of my friends are Republicans. I like my friends."

In this epic battle for speaker of the House, the top Democratic brass, including Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor and Secretary of State Cathy Cox, pulled out the stops to help Coleman.

As alluded to above, and being the gentleman that he is, Larry Walker was graceful in his defeat. The man is a class act.

I think it got lost in the shuffle later on during the 2003 legislative session, but it was Larry Walker who first came forward with the bill that finally put to rest the divisive flag issue. Walker's bill proposed repealing the ''Barnes'' flag, then installing immediately thereafter a new flag similar to the one we have now, and then holding a nonbinding up-or-down referendum on the newly adopted flag in March 2004.

It was a stroke of genius.

But it would take until the 40th and final day of the marathon legislative session dominated by the flag issue to finally put to rest Gov. Perdue's desire to have -- or at least his desire to appear that he wanted to have -- the referendum giving Georgia voters the option of going back to the 1956 flag, the one with the St. Andrew’s cross that served as the Confederate battle flag.

[I share my feelings and a little bit of history on the St. Andrew's cross and our present flag in the second part of my 11-25-04 post.]

And it would take white rural Georgians -- who had the most to lose politically -- to come together to fill Gov. Perdue's leadership vacuum and end the quarrel, and say hey, it's time for Georgia to put this divisive issue behind us and move on. And of course among those brave souls stepping forward and taking such a stand and voting his conscience for what was best for Georgia if not himself politically -- Rep. Larry Walker.

In the Macon Telegraph article Walker indicates that the possibility of his seeking office again are remote. While I knew this was his position in 2003 and 2004, I was among those who wanted him to at least consider running for the U.S. Senate last year when no known, viable and electable Democrat would step forward.

We got to discuss this and old times at the Commerce Club in early May last year the week after I qualified. Over lunch I said, "Damn Larry, you're the one who ought to be doing this rather than me." He just laughed.

Our host for the meal was Joe Sports, veteran Democratic operative, former Chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia, now publisher of Georgia Beat (gabeat.com), and one experienced political consultant who has been there and done that.

Joe, another great Democrat and Georgian, commented -- such comment sort of summarizing it all of Georgia -- "It just won't be the same without you Larry."

Thanks Rep. Walker. Thanks for all you did for Georgia during your many, many years of service.

You did indeed do your state proud, and I am proud to be able to call you a friend. We need more like you.

And if you get tired of fly fishing . . . .

You gotta be kidding. Tom Crawford shares whatever he's been smoking with Vernon -- V. Jones lets it be known that he’s might run for governor.

The ajc's Political Insider reports:

Jones thinks the Democratic field for governor, even with Roy Barnes, isn’t quite what it should be yet.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Yes! This is good news, very good news. -- Rio Tinto Scuttles Its Deal With Chinalco

From The Wall Street Journal:

Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto walked away from a proposed $19.5 billion deal with Aluminum Corp. of China, dealing a blow to China's ambitions to buy access to raw materials crucial for its economic growth.

The proposed deal would have given state-owned Aluminium Corp., known as Chinalco, an 18% stake in Rio Tinto, the world's third-largest miner and owner of rich iron-ore and copper mines in Australia and elsewhere. It also would have given the Chinese company direct stakes in some mining assets.

What is Tom Crawford smoking even thinking such, much less writing it down: "The rural white voters who abandoned Barnes in 2002 are gone for good."

Tom Crawford of Capitol Impact yesterday wrote:

The rural white voters who abandoned Barnes in 2002 are gone for good. I don't see how he could do anything to win them back.

My friend Tom, editor of Capitol Impact, needs to venture out of the capital city to down here in South Georgia. He will find many, many elated with Governor Barnes's willingness to put aside his successful law practice and endure the sacrifices in his personal life that will follow from his commitment to spend much of the next year and a half campaigning on a full-time basis.

Do I think he can carry South Georgia? Yes.

Do I think he will carry South Georgia? Yes, just as surely as grits are groceries.

History will record Roy Barnes's decision to jump into the 2010 race as a momentous and historically significant event.

Thanks for signing up Roy. We are ready, willing and able to do our part in this part of the Other Georgia to make you Georgia's next governor.

Unlikely, but the appeal by a small group of lenders could prevail. I hope it does. Fiat will not walk, & 1st lien positions were trampled upon here.

After the rulings in the Chrysler Chapter 11 case, I suspect companies with financial difficulties are going to have a difficult time borrowing money, even if they have good collateral to put up. Why? Based on this case, first lien positions might be ignored.

From The Washington Post:

A decision this week by a federal appeals court to take up the objections of a small but tenacious group of Chrysler's senior lenders likely means the automaker will have to delay plans to sell itself to Italian carmaker Fiat, experts said Wednesday.

Whether the delay becomes detrimental to Chrysler's plans -- and by extension, to General Motors -- remains to be seen. But several legal analysts who have closely followed the case said a likely outcome is a delay of several days that would still allow the sale to proceed before a critical June 15 deadline.

Under the terms of the government-orchestrated sale of most of Chrysler's assets to a new entity owned by Fiat, the United Auto Workers, and U.S. and Canadian governments, the senior or first-lien lenders would recover 29 cents on the dollar. The Indiana funds contend that their property rights were violated because they are receiving less than junior lenders. The funds also say the government did not have the authority to use federal money from the Troubled Assets Relief Program to rescue automakers.

Gonzalez, the bankruptcy judge, disagreed, saying late Sunday that the sale represented "fair value" and that "not one penny" would be going to anyone other than first-lien lenders.

Bernanke has a firm grasp on the obvious: Bernanke Presses For Fiscal Restraint -- Prolonged Deficits Threaten Economy, Fed Chief Warns

From The Wall Street Journal:

The nation needs to begin planning now to eventually bring taxes and spending in line, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said yesterday, arguing that large budget deficits, if sustained, could deepen the financial crisis and choke off the economy.

Bernanke's testimony to Congress reflected growing concern among economists and investors that the nation's long-term fiscal imbalances could stand in the way of economic recovery by driving up the interest rates that the government, businesses and consumers pay to borrow money. The rate the government pays has already risen in recent weeks.

The Fed chairman argued that even as the government spends massive amounts of money to contain the financial crisis, it must be prepared to move toward fiscal balance.

The financial crisis is driving the country deeply into the red, with the national debt projected to double from about 41 percent of the economy last year to more than 82 percent by the end of the next decade. Thereafter, things will only get worse, budget analysts say, as the baby boom generation lays claim to benefits from Social Security and costly federal health programs. So far, President Obama has offered no plan to rein in those costs, though he has stressed the importance of reducing the deficit generally.

The U.S. Treasury must now pay 3.5 percent to borrow money for 10 years -- low by historical standards, but up from about 3.1 percent a month ago and 2.9 percent three months ago. The increase has come even as the Fed has launched a program to buy up to $300 billion in Treasury bonds -- purchases designed to push down rates and did, when the program was rolled out in March.

Some analysts worry that the Fed will succumb to political pressure in the future to effectively print money to fund government borrowing -- a process known as monetizing the debt. Two congressmen raised that possibility explicitly in yesterday's hearing.

"This can be a dangerous policy mix. The Treasury is issuing debt. And the central bank is buying it," said Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.). "It gives the alarming impression that the U.S. one day might begin to meet its financial obligations by simply printing money. And we all know what happens to a country that chooses to monetize its debt. It gets runaway inflation, a gradual erosion of workers' paychecks and family savings."

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Matt Towery comments on Georgia's next governor: "I’d hate to be a Republican & have to run against that guy."

Dick Pettys announced his retirement a General Assembly session or so ago, but loves and just can't quit writing about Georgia politics, something he is very skilled at doing. He is one of the best of the best, and someone I have often described on this blog as being one knowledgeable guy on Georgia history and politics.

But even if he had retired, today was one of those days where someone in Dick Pettys's league - let's say I am thinking of Georgia's Dean of Journalism and Politics - must have found it mighty tempting to hit the keyboard and send something somewhere for publication or circulation, even if such destination was, God forbid, the ajc, Bill Shipp's former employer where he wasn't made editor of the Atlanta Constitution after several years during which his column was the main editorial page attraction (Mr. Pettys was with the Associated Press for years before Matt Towery wisely persuaded him to join the staff at InsiderAdvantage Georgia and later tapped him as editor).

Note in Mr. Pettys's artice how one sentence says volumes in his reporting of some very exciting news today involving Georgia's next governor.

From InsideAdvantage Georgia:

The Roy Barnes model of 2010 is a little different from the Model of 2002, the one that lost a re-election bid and gave Republicans their first governor since Reconstruction.

[T]he Barnes model of 2010 - for now at least - has a little less chrome, attempting to project a somewhat humbler image, designed to blunt the lingering memories of those who criticized what they called his strongarm tactics while in office.

“I’ve listened and I realized that when I was governor before I didn’t do enough listening. I realize that I was impatient and that I had an aggressive agenda. I didn’t take time to explain why I thought certain issues were important or so time-sensitive and critical ... Now let me tell you, my mama said I was the hard-headedest kid that God ever put on the face of the earth. And my mama was always right. But I did learn from those experiences and I learned from my mistakes ...”

While ripping the Republicans for the direction state government has taken since he left office, Barnes didn’t let the rhetoric rise to extraordinary levels. “We can do better,” he declared, saying the people of Georgia he’s talked to over the last 60 days seem to be in a funk about their future and are turned off by those running state government.

“People are tired of the special interests running the state Capitol. They have come to believe - and I agree with them - if you can hire a lobbyist with tassled loafers and eel skin briefcases you can get anything done, but if you can’t hire a lobbyist your concern is never even considered... The people of Georgia that I have heard say that they are outraged that the public interest is being subverted ...”

“I’d hate to be a Republican and have to run against that guy,” said political analyst Matt Towery, who is chairman and CEO of InsiderAdvantage. “By that, I’m not implying that he’s a shoo-in to win. It’s just that he possesses virtually every skill that you need to be a very formidable candidate.”

Not surprisingly, Barnes cited the Republicans' austerity cuts to education and inability to solve transportation problems as key items he hopes to address. Transportation and education had been two of his principle issues while he was in office.

He also said he thinks he's patched things up with many teachers, who saw in his aggressive education reforms an effort to scapegoat them. In recent private meetings, he said, many have told him they remember having been mad at him but now can't remember why. His reforms pre-dated the No Child Left Behind requirements many now are having to meet, he said.

All in all, it was a middle-of-the-road speech that wasn't overly heavy on partisan politics and sought to reach out to suburban Republican commuters who are stuck in traffic jams every day.

The announcement ends months of speculation, and turns the Democratic battle on its head.

It also impacts the Republican calculus, putting a name with star power into the mix in what some had rated as a pushover field for whoever captured the Republican nomination. Barnes knows the state and in the past showed himself to be a prolific fundraiser . . . .

Barnes’ loss has been blamed variously on his alienation of teachers with a far-reaching school reform plan, anxiety among suburban voters over the proposed Northern Arc and his swift and successful push to remove the Confederate battle emblem from Georgia’s flag. Too, Perdue successfully exploited the Democrat’s 2001 effort to use redistricting to retard Republican gains.

(1) Barnes to join race for governor; (2) Update on food for thought for announced Democratic candidates for governor given this welcomed development.

Jim Galloway of the ajc's Political Insider reports today's big news in a report prepared in the wee hours of the morning.

In the post Mr. Galloway notes:

Barnes’ entry into the race is also likely to help fill out down-ballot contests. No Democrat has yet to enter the race for lieutenant governor. State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond, a Barnes ally, has been mentioned as a possibility.

A 4-19-09 post entitled "Food for thought for announced Democratic candidates for governor if Barnes does announce" notes in part:

Given the possibility that Barnes might announce, Rep. DuBose Porter and Attorney General Thurbert Baker now need to be thinking whether they want to jump to the second spot from aspiring for the top spot in the event of such an announcement. Doing so immediately following a Barnes's announcement would be better than waiting for the polls and pundits, etc.

David Poythress probably won't consider this, but he won't be a player in 2010 anyway.

Things have changed since such posting. Michael Thurmond's name has increasingly been mentioned as an candidate for the second spot.

Thurmond, Thurbert Baker and DuBose Porter need to meet somewhere or confer on the phone and work this out, and time is of the essence.

If Michael has an interest in running for lieutenant governor and is willing to commit among these three Democrats, he will be perceived as Roy's choice to have a unified slate of Democratic candidates on the ballot. For this an other reasons, including being a great campaigner, he will have the best shot at getting the nomination.

In such case Thurbert needs to announce he has work yet to be done as Attorney General that can be achieved under a Democratic administration.

And DuBose would need to make a similar statement with regard to his desire to continue in his leadership role in the House.

If Michael wants to stay at Labor, and this is very possible, Thurbert and DuBose can run against each other for the second spot. For if Michael does not run for lieutenant governor, we sure need a good candidate, and both qualify just as each would make a great governor. But running against Roy will prove divisive for the party (never, hopefully, as divisive as the race between Mark Taylor and Cathy Cox), and the wasting of good candidates since neither Thurbert nor DuBose can win against Roy who will quickly emerge as the front-runner (which of course everyone knows he was in 2002).

With these adjustments, Roy's welcomed entry will not result in the demise of two other good Democrats whom we need as we rebuild.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Minnesota Justices Are Skeptical in Senate Case

The New York Times reports:

A lawyer for Norm Coleman, the Republican who is fighting a recount battle with Al Franken, a Democrat, for a Senate seat, faced sharply skeptical questioning on Monday from justices of the Minnesota Supreme Court in a crucial hearing on the case.

A keeper from Monday's Wall Street Journal: Once, General Motors was Microsoft and Apple and Toyota all rolled into one.

The below is the link to an article you might want to read and save, sort of like keeping the story on the day the music died, etc. A sad day indeed.

From The Wall Street Journal:

Once, General Motors was Microsoft and Apple and Toyota all rolled into one.

GM set the standard of how a company should be run, how utilitarian products could be made cool and how they should be sold. It helped win a World War, drive American prosperity and reinvigorate business-school curricula.

"Nobody else could cover the whole range of the marketplace like GM, not Ford, not Chrysler," said Gerald Meyers, a former chief executive of American Motors Corp. and now a professor of business management at the University of Michigan.

In the end, though, GM was a victim of its own success -- its path to bankruptcy paved with the very management, marketing and labor practices that made it the world's largest and most profitable company for much of the 20th century. Strategies that had once been deemed innovative "became a millstone on the whole company," said Mr. Meyers.

God Bless America!

A 1-18-09 post was entitled "God Bless America! -- CNN video of US Airways Flight 1549 landing in the Hudson River."

America will be involved in the search for the Air France Airbus that went missing over the Atlantic Ocean with 228 people aboard because, among other reasons, GE made the engines.

Just as the Hudson River landing renewed our confidence and respect for the greatest country in the world, wouldn't it be great if America located the plane. Day by day, event by event, the damage done by cowboy diplomacy over the past 8 years is being undone.

Rome wasn't built in a day. Our standing in the world won't be restored overnight. But such events as our participating in the search sure help.

God Bless America!

Monday, June 01, 2009

G.M.’s Road From Prosperity to Crisis

A timeline from The New York Times provides a look at the troubles that led General Motors from dominance to bankruptcy (with great photographs).

Isn't this a great time to be a Democrat!

(Several years ago I designed this bumper sticker and our county party ordered some. If you would like to get one, contact danitaknowles52@charter.net ($2 each; 3 for $5; and 50 for $75; and yes, the bumper stickers have a union label)).

A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. The first step is the hardest.

Lest we forget, Gov. Roy Barnes made this possible.