Saturday, March 31, 2007

New Poll: Edwards Leads Both McCain and Romney


A brand new Rasmussen Poll is good news for John Edwards. The survey of 800 likely voters, conducted March 26-27, showed:

Survey of 800 Likely Voters
March 26-27, 2007

John Edwards (D) vs. John McCain (R)
John Edwards (D) 47%
John McCain (R) 38%

John Edwards (D) vs. Mitt Romney (R)
John Edwards (D) 55%
Mitt Romney (R) 29%

In addition, among those surveyed, Edwards enjoys high favorability. Rasmussen says:

Senator Edwards is now viewed favorably by 57% of voters, including 53% of men, 61% of women. Thirty-five percent (35%) have an unfavorable opinion.

That's also the best showing for Edwards so far. Like other top-tier Democratic candidates, the Senator's unfavorable rating had lately been almost as high as his favorable rating. In mid-March he averaged 47% favorable, 45% unfavorable in our surveys (with the same ten-point discrepancy between men and women).

Last week, Edwards also had a strong showing in a Georgia Insider Advantage Poll. He and Hillary Clinton were the top two choices of those surveyed, with Edwards only four points behind Clinton, and within the margin of error for the poll.


This is cross-posted at Georgia Votes Edwards.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Cathy Cox to be Honored in Macon


Former Secretary of State Cathy Cox, who has recently accepted the position of President of Young Harris College, will be in Macon on April 12th to receive the first Napier Pioneer Award. With this award, Georgia's WIN List recognizes Ms. Cox's significant contributions in the areas of politics and government. Georgia's WIN List will give the award at the Second Annual Viola Ross Napier Celebration. Viola Ross Napier, who was from Macon, was indeed a pioneer as the first women to serve in the Georgia legislature.

The Napier Celebration will be held on Thursday, April 12th at 6:30 pm at 315 College Street in Macon, Georgia. The commitment for event hosts is $250.00 and for attendees, the cost is $35.00. To join the host committee for this event or purchase tickets, please click here or contact Amy Morton at (478) 741-1138 or amymorton@aol.com.

WIN List is a political action committee that assists qualified Democratic women who are seeking state-level office. Your financial support of this event will help make it possible for more women to follow in the footsteps of leaders like Viola Ross Napier and Cathy Cox and serve the people of Georgia in public office.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Roverian Dirty Trick in the 10th?

Did Jim Whitehead deliberately send an email that advertised an incorrect special election date to Democratic voters? Was I just being naive yesterday with my assumption that Jim Whitehead errantly sent an email announcement about his campaign to a lifelong Democrat? Mrs. Righteous Jackass thinks so, and she goes on to point out that the date of the election is incorrect, listed as June 17th not June 19th ,in the email. Here's her take on the Whitehead email:

Mrs. Righteous Jackass said...
Amy, I'm sure he sent that out knowingly to Georgia Democrats in an attempt to confuse them. The primary is June 19th, not 17th. This sounds like the rightwing talk radio asshats who were telling people in 2004 that the Dems voted on one day and the Reps voted on the actual election day.Republicans couldn't tell the truth if their very lives depended on it!
12:18 PM


Having seen Roverian tricks up close and personal, I have no doubt that the GOP machine is capable of deliberate deception, but is that what happened here? Here's the excerpt in question:

And I hope that I can count on your vote and support in the special election on June 17th. With your support, I will go to our nation’s capital and protect the things that matter most to the people of the 10th Congressional District.

Sincerely,

Jim Whitehead

I have no doubt that Whitehead 'regrets the error.'

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Guess Who Will Be in Macon on April 14?


Sen. John Edwards is scheduled to be in Macon for a fundraiser on April 14th. To the best of my knowledge, Sen. Edwards will become the first of the Democratic candidates for President to visit Middle Georgia. Details will follow shortly.
This is cross-posted at Georgia Votes Edwards.

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Credit Where It's Due


After my morning rant, it is important to give credit where credit is due. Rep. Nikki Randall has been a tireless advocate for Georgia's children during this session. It was Randall who first offered a bill to allow the state to provide stop-gap funding for PeachCare. It was Randall who took to the well virtually every day with passionate pleas to her colleagues to support PeachCare. Yesterday, she and other House members took to the well to present the minority report on HB 340. Rep. DuBose Porter, Rep. Carolyn Hugley, Rep. Calvin Smyre, Rep. Pat Gardner, Rep. Randall were among the heroes who stood up for Georgia children. They, and all the Democrats in the House who voted against HB 340 deserve our thanks. Let's give them a round of applause!

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SR 363 is still alive and well...

Senate Resolution 363, "Creating the Mental Health Service Delivery Commission; and for other purposes" passed the senate and now goes to the House. A pat on the back and a "thank you" is owed to Sen. Johnny Grant of Milledgeville (and co-sponsors).

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10th: What Whitehead Said

Today, a very Democratic friend got an email, addressed to "Fellow Republican" from Jim Whitehead announcing his candidacy for the 10th Congressional District. Let's see. This person does not live in the district and has never voted in a Republican primary. Perhaps Whitehead needs to have a conversation with his email vendor. The text of the announcement is below, and raises some interesting issues.

First of all, Whitehead begins with a football analogy and talks about protecting the quarterback. Presumably, that would be President Bush. Yet, Whitehead talks about Reagan and never mentions President Bush. Is Bush polling that poorly in Georgia? Whitehead says that he is running to "protect and continue Charlie's legacy of conservative leadership." That's not quite the same thing as representing the people of Georgia, is it? And, I think that it is important to remember that while everyone thinks Norwood was a nice person, part of that "legacy" is his opposition to the renewal of the Voting Rights Act. Here's the text of Whitehead's email:

When I played football at the University of Georgia, my coach told me I had one job – protect the quarterback. It was an awesome responsibility. The team needed a big, strong leader to put aside the glory and the spotlight and protect what mattered most. That experience stuck with me the rest of my life.

When I got married 42 years ago, I made a very solemn vow to protect my wife and my family. When I ran for County Commission in 1994, I ran to protect the great quality of life in my hometown for my friends and neighbors. When I ran for the State Senate a few years ago, I promised to protect every family in this state and the values that we hold so dear.

Now, unfortunately, I am running to be our next US Congressman. I say “unfortunately” because we had to lose a great leader, and I had to lose a great friend, to be here asking for your vote.

I cannot be Charlie Norwood. But I can be Jim Whitehead. And I am running to protect and continue Charlie’s legacy of conservative leadership.

I believe in President Ronald Reagan’s wisdom that government’s most important responsibility is to protect its citizens. As our next Congressman, I will work everyday to protect our people from the threat of terrorism, to protect our children’s future, and to protect our hard earned tax dollars. And sometimes, our citizens may even need a little protection from their government – and I’ll be there for you every single time.

Today we launch our new campaign website, www.whiteheadforcongress.com. Please check it out to learn more about who I am, what I believe, and how you can get involved.

And I hope that I can count on your vote and support in the special election on June 17th. With your support, I will go to our nation’s capital and protect the things that matter most to the people of the 10th Congressional District.

Sincerely,


Jim Whitehead

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Georgia Democrats Who Failed Our Children

I will, at come point, move on, but today is not that day. Today, I am shocked and saddened by the Democrats in the Georgia House who failed to stand up for Georgia's children. What issue goes more to the core of what Democrats stand for than making sure that children in Georgia's working families have access to healthcare?

Democrats gave Georgia children PeachCare. Republicans like Speaker Richardson have never been thrilled with it, and have expressed glee at the opportunity to 'give it a new look.' If HB 340 passes the senate, and it will, that 'new look' will include a lot more uninsured Georgia children. I get that Richardson is fine with that, but what about the Democrats who voted for the bill? Did their finger slip? Were they possessed by a demon at the time of the vote? Worse than those who voted for the bill-there are a number of Democrats who could not be bothered to vote at all. In my view, that's worse. Check on what your representative did by clicking here.

Jacobs and Black were the only two Democrats in the House who voted 'yes' on 340. Black is a former school board president. I cannot imagine what in his experience led him to this decision. And Jacobs? What can I say? This is not the first disappointment from him. But legislators like Mangham, Sailor, and Parham could not be bothered to vote at all. Some might say, "at least they didn't vote 'yes.'" Give me a break. How hard is it to justify a vote for Georgia's children? What campaign mail are they dreading? "Mangham dares to vote for children's healthcare?" Please.

This is going to pass the senate, but I hope that not a single senate Democrat will join in this effort.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

This is Unconfirmed But...

A friend who is up at the Capitol tells me that the only two Democrats who voted with the Speaker on HB 340 were Mike Jacobs and Ellis Black. Extremely disappointing, if accurate. What were they thinking? Who knows?

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Georgia House Passes Restrictions to PeachCare

That's what Speaker Richardson said in defense of HB 340: "What did the children (hear scarcasm) do from the time Jesus was born until 1996? I'll bet their all dead." HB 340 passed 101 to 66.* Thousands more Georgia children will go without health insurance.

*Correction, 101 to 63.

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Porter Argues to Protect PeachCare

The payday lending bill has failed, and Rep. Porter is in the well right now offering a passionate defense of PeachCare. Rep. Gardner follows him. You, too, can watch here.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Will Some Democrats Bail on PeachCare?

Will some Democrats vote with the Speaker on HB 340? I hope not. Look guys and gals, payday lending, ultrasound bills and voting for Richardson instead of your own minority leader for speaker-all that is bad, but can all of you at least find it in yourselves to vote against a bill that will literally make fewer children eligible for PeachCare? Children's healthcare. Can we at least find unity on that?

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What's Really Important

Tomorrow is the day when we find out what's really important to Georgia's Republican leadership. Tomorrow is crossover day, and any legislation that has not cleared at least one of the two chambers is dead for the session. Today, we learned from Tom Crawford and the folks at Capitol Impact that the Sunday alcohol sales bill will not see the light of day in the senate, so it's dead for this year. Trust me, based on what the House plans to vote on, we will all want to drink.

Will the Workplace Violence is Cool bill get to a vote? Maybe, even though some key GOP members like John Douglas have pulled their support. The Take Advantage of the Working Poor bill (payday lending)that failed in the House last week will be presented again for another vote, and that will have to happen on Tuesday. Republicans are shying away from the legislation because of the gut-punch served up by various media outlets. The AJC, for example, pointed out that this legislation is so important that not a single Georgian showed up to testify in favor of its passage. That's impressive. I think Republicans are holding on this, so the question is, will the Payday lending industry manage to secure enough Democratic support to get the bill through? Maybe. How embarrassing.

How about the Governor's two favored constitutional amendments, his infamous 'Hope Chest' amendment and the other poorly disguised effort to open the door wide for school vouchers? I doubt it, but maybe.

One thing that I know will happen tomorrow is that HB 340, Glenn Richardson's effort to whittle away at PeachCare will make it to a vote in the House. This bill reminds me of our invasion of Iraq. It's something that Richardson's always wanted to do, and now he is manufacturing an excuse to do it. Long term, the impact of his legislation could be just about as devastating to working families in Georgia. As many as 20,000 children who are currently on the PeachCare rolls would not have been eligible under the standards Richardson proposes. This is a bad bill and an unnecessary bill that seeks to solve a problem that does not exist. (See, I told you it reminded me of Iraq.) Watch tomorrow while Republicans show us exactly what's important to them. Hint: it's not Georgia families.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Ouch!

Okay, so let's all pull against Florida.

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Gutting Community Mental Health

In Georgia, Community Mental Health Centers are in trouble. The Director of Mental Health Services for the Georgia Department of Human Resources has proclaimed that we are no longer going to "throw money" at mental health care. Funny, I hadn't noticed them throwing money that direction.

The Telegraph did a good job today reporting on what all sides refer to as a crisis. Here's the bottom line. In an effort to privatize Medicaid dollars, Georgia has added a layer of administrative oversight (and cost). Community mental health centers will not longer get block grants but instead will have to bill the state on a fee for service basis. As a provider, I can tell you that this means increased administrative costs on both ends- and even less money for direct care for patients.

Critical programs like the detox program in Bibb County and the methadone clinic at River Edge have already closed. Those who are guilty of crimes but mentally ill are no longer living in halfway houses in the community. They are living in apartments scattered across the community, and the overworked staff of River Edge "checks" on them. How can that be safe?

While we have watched mental health dollars diminish, our jail is overflowing with inmates in need of mental health care and medication. There was a dark time in our history when in ignorance we just locked up the mentally ill. It appears that we have again adopted that approach, but this time ignorance is no excuse. Effective treatment is available and costs far less than incarceration.

Consider these numbers as reported by Travis Fain in the Telegraph.

Mental illness in Bibb County's jail

In 2006:

* Bibb County spent $334,700 for River Edge Behavioral Health Center to provide services to mentally ill and drug addicted inmates.
* The county spent an additional $238,189 on psychotropic medications to treat inmates.
* 2,465 inmates were seen by the jail's in-house therapist.

SOURCE: Bibb County jail and River Edge Behavioral Health Center

Who suffers from a serious mental illness?
* 6.7 percent of Georgians (estimated)
* 25 percent to 35 percent of the homeless population
* 56 percent of state prisoners
* 45 percent of federal prisoners
* 64 percent of local jail inmates
SOURCE: National Alliance on Mental Illness

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Georgia Leaders Endorse Edwards

Tune in to 60 Minutes tonight to see John and Elizabeth Edwards' first interview since announcing her diagnosis. They want you to know that the show may be delayed because of the UNC game, and that they will be watching, cheering on the Tar Heels, as always. Tune into CBS at (about) 7 PM.

Over the weekend, I saw a CNN story about Edwards challenging the other candidates on healthcare, and a story about Hillary Clinton having a fundraiser where she expected to snag a cool two million. That's quite a juxtaposition. Edwards is increasingly viewed as the candidate with a detailed, workable platform on issues that the average American cares about. No wonder Georgia leaders, like Gov. Roy Barnes and Shi Shailendra have already announced their support for Edwards.
This is cross posted at Georgia Votes Edwards.

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Georgia's Political Paparazzi


What are the editors of the Savannah Morning News thinking? Speaker Richardson had no choice but to act to protect his members from Georgia's Political Paparazzi. With the press clogging the aisles of the House, hiding under member's desks and asking irritating questions, legislators like Larry O'Neal are having a tough time reaching around them to scratch each other's backs, let alone lend Governor Perdue a helping hand. After all, what's a few hundred grand between friends? The press are simply in the way.

Never mind that the press is the eyes and ears of the people of Georgia. Never mind that the culture of secrecy and corruption that has plagued Republicans in Congress has established a firm foothold in Georgia. Never mind that this administration has gutted funding for the Ethics Commission and acted only to weaken Georgia's Open Records/Open Meetings laws.

Let's get our priorities straight. I, for one, appreciate the Speaker sheltering his members and the public from too much exposure to the truth. Richardson is well equipped to decide what the public needs to know. Isn't that why we elected him?

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Sorry, Jon

Really. I was pulling for your guys.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Shirely Franklin Keeping it Real with Bill Maher Tonight

If you get HBO, you can catch Atlanta's own Mayor Shirley Franklin tonight on Real Time with Bill Maher.


This Friday, Bill welcomes John Legend, Myr. Shirley Franklin, and David Frum. Plus, via satellite, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Tune-in Friday night at 11pm ET/PT and stay around after the show for Overtime our exclusive live web program.Plus, missed last week's show? Catch the re-airs throughout the week, check the HBO Schedule for details. And, get all the highlights of the last episode in the episode guide.

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Washington Post on Edwards

The editorial, Choosing to Live, in the Washington Post, captures Eugene Robinson's reaction to the yesterday's announcement. It is an inspiring read, and well worth the fact that you will need to set up a (free) account in order to fully access the online content for the newspaper. Here's a sample, just to tempt you:

Having shared so many triumphs and defeats, having endured innumerable rubber-chicken fundraisers, having shaken hands and kissed babies and done all the endless things a candidate and his spouse are required to do, Elizabeth and John Edwards had to make a decision. They don't know how her health will progress over the next months and years. They could spend that time nesting with their family. Or they could spend it amid the exhilarating chaos of a presidential campaign, grabbing for the brass ring they've long had in sight.
Do they really have a choice?


Run, John and Elizabeth, run. Enjoy the campaign, every thrilling minute. Enjoy it together.
eugenerobinson@washpost.com

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Vote 'em Off the Island

Jason Pye over at PeachPundit is reporting that Vernon Jones has filed is paperwork with the FEC to seek the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Saxby Chambliss. This is no surprise, but, I agree with Pye- there is no chance that Jones can win that election. What scares me is the prospect that he might win a primary.

The question is, are we, Georgia Democrats, going to do this again-nominate a candidate who cannot win? Saxby is beatable folks, but not by Jones. Given the demographics of this state, the candidate will need to be a conservative Democrat who can raise boatloads of money quickly- and who lacks serious personal baggage. We cannot afford a contentious primary, and we must get behind THE candidate who is in the best position to WIN.

The DPG will undoubtedly seek to narrow that candidate field in that race, and any candidate who refuses to participate in that process will be off my list for support. Period. Vote 'em off the island.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Speaking of John Edwards...Don't Miss This Exclusive Offer


Edwards is our speaker for the JJ Dinner in May, and through April 2, you can get a special deal on the tickets. The JJ Dinner is one of the key fundraising opportunities for the Democratic Party of Georgia. Here's the info:


Dear Friends,
It's time to get ready for the 2007 Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, sponsored by the Democratic Party of Georgia! We're honored to announce that Presidential candidate Senator John Edwards will be our keynote speaker at this year's dinner.

We've made a lot of changes to this year's dinner, designed to make it more fun and exciting for attendees. This year's JJ will feature live music, an emcee, and remarks by Senator Edwards. We'll also be honoring our Democratic Congressional Delegation.

Perhaps the best change we've made is that now, it's easier than ever to go to the JJ Dinner. From today until April 2nd, you can purchase a ticket for only $175.00, a $25.00 savings! For the first time, we're also offering a payment plan for tickets; you can sign up or learn more by contacting the DPG finance office at 404-870-8201 or by emailing our finance director at brandon@democraticpartyofgeorgia.org.

Finally, I want to tell you about a new website, designed to keep you up to date on the latest news about the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. We've launched
DPGJJ.com, where you can learn more about the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, sign up for email updates, and purchase tickets.

I hope you'll make plans to attend this year's Jefferson-Jackson dinner. It's a great opportunity to meet Democrats from across the state and hear Senator Edwards speak. I look forward to seeing you there.

For a strong and unified party,

Jane V. Kidd
Chair, the Democratic Party of Georgia


Paid for by the Democratic Party of Georgia. Jane V. Kidd, Chair; Michael Thurmond, Vice-Chair; Rex Templeton, Treasurer. 1100 Spring Street NW, Suite 408, Atlanta, GA 30309. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

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Edwards: "No Intention of Cowering in the Corner"


Like most of the rest of my 'political friends', I expected John Edwards to announce that he was suspending his presidential campaign because Elizabeth's cancer has returned, and I would have fully understood that decision. Instead, they stood side by side and reaffirmed their commitment to the fight to change America.





He said, "You can go cower in the corner and hide or you can go out there and stand up for what you believe in. We have no intentions of cowering in the corner."
Elizabeth Edwards played a key role in convincing her husband to continue his campaign, a source close to both John and Elizabeth Edwards told CNN's Candy Crowley.


I don't doubt that Elizabeth insisted that he continue, and neither do I doubt that John was ready to suspend the campaign if that was what he needed to do for his wife. Last summer, I read Elizabeth Edwards' book, Saving Graces. In the book, she reflects on the death of their son, her breast cancer and the 2004 campaign. When Elizabeth found the lump, just a week or so before the November 2004 election, she handled all the initial examinations without telling John what was going on. When she got the first indication that the news was not good, she was in North Carolina where she had gone to see the doctor, and John, who was traveling separately, was there as well. She called him, and he came home to meet her and offered to pull out of the campaign right then and there. But she did not want that. She said no. What they were fighting for was too important. So, I am not surprised that CNN reports that Elizabeth Edwards was a huge factor in persuading John to remain in this race today.


For all the things we fought for in 2004, for all the fears we had about what would happen if Kerry/Edwards did not win the election, I don't think I ever imagined that it would be as bad as it actually is. They must see that too, along with the possibilities for a better, brighter future for our country. It is that courage, leadership and vision that will make John Edwards a great President. My prayers are with the family.

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Please Let This Be Good News, Not Bad

CNN is reporting that Sen. John Edwards cut short a campaign trip to Iowa in order to accompany his wife, Elizabeth, to a doctor's visit. The visit followed a routine test preformed earlier. Elizabeth Edwards, a breast cancer survivor, has been in good health for some time. John and Elizabeth Edwards will hold a news conference Thursday to discuss her health. Our prayer tonight is that this is good news, not bad news.

Cross-posted at Georgia Votes Edwards.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Moving Georgia in the Wrong Direction

Here's what the non-partisan, Georgia Budget and Policy Institute has to say about the Speaker's bill (HB 340) to scale back PeachCare:

“Georgia has the 6th highest number of uninsured children and among the lowest children’s health status of the 50 states,” Essig noted. “The focus of health policy in Georgia should be to reduce the number of uninsured children and thereby improve Georgia’s children’s health. HB 340 moves Georgia in the wrong direction.”

Read the whole report here.

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Payday Lending Bill Fails to Pass Georgia House

Expect arms to be sore from twisting over the weekend. With a vote of 84/84, HB 163, the bill to repeal the payday lending prohibition in Georgia, failed to pass the Georgia House today. The bill will be offered for reconsideration when the General Assembly re-convenes on Tuesday. This is good news for Georgia consumers. Groups like AARP fought hard to defeat this legislation. From what I understand, the chances of the bill making it through on Tuesday are dim. Some Democratic members who were not present today are expected to be on hand for Tuesday's vote.

But, the vote on this bill did not exactly split along party lines. To my disappointment, but not to my surprise, Rep. Al Williams, Rep. Tyrone Brooks and Rep. Able Mable Thomas took the well in support of the bill, and Rep. Sheila Jones voted for the bill as well. Some Republicans, including Rep. Burkhalter, voted against the bill. What a twist.

It is important to keep those calls and letter going to reps. We will need one more vote to put this one to bed... for this session.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Welcome New Georgia Political Blogger

Welcome to Rural Dem, Georgia's newest political blogger. He describes himself as a "moderate to conservative" Democrat. If you visit Rural Democrat, you will have the opportunity to vote in his polls for both the Democratic and Republican nominee for President.

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Macon History

Lynn Farmer, Bibb School Board president, called me this afternoon to say that this is an historic day in Bibb County. A federal judge declared the Bibb County Public Schools unitary and released the district from the 43 year old deseg order. Judge Owens, in fact, said that the system has been unitary for thirty years. The ruling reflected an agreement by the parties and provides for a two year transitional period.Read more here

Farmer said that two cases are pending before the U.S. Supreme Court on the issue of whether or not race can be used as a factor in school assignment/redistricting etc. The outcome of those cases could impact the redistricting process in Bibb County.

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Urgent: We Cannot Let This Stand

More bad news on PeachCare from Family Connection Partnership:


URGENT:

HHS Committee Passes HB 340, which cuts PeachCare eligibility from 235 percent of the FPL to 200 percent
House Health and Human Services (HHS) committee favorably passed HB 340 (Speaker Richardson), which cuts PeachCare eligibility from 235 percent to 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). This bill will go up for a vote in the House as early as tomorrow (Day 29), but no later than Tues., March 27 (Day 30). Proponents for the bill state that this will save the PeachCare program money in the future. Opponents believe the bill will negatively impact children.

What does the bill do?

All children who are currently enrolled (prior to March 11) can maintain coverage. Eligibility for children who enroll after the bill’s effective date must be below 200 percent of the FPL.
Changes the benefit package to mirror the state health benefit plan, which is not designed for children. PeachCare program benefits were designed with children in mind.
Vision and dental coverage would be optional and available with an additional premium.

What do we know?
Cutting PeachCare eligibility from 235 percent to 200 percent of the FPL would prevent 3,000 – 5,000 children per year from getting coverage.
Dental and vision coverage are standard SCHIP (PeachCare) benefits throughout the nation.
35 of the 36 separate SCHIP programs throughout the United States cover eye-glasses for SCHIP kids.
35 of the 36 separate SCHIP programs cover preventive vision services, and 35 of the 36 cover dental treatment services.
All programs that are Medicaid expansion programs cover full dental and vision care.
Georgia has the sixth highest number of uninsured children in the United States (300,000).
Georgia has the highest rate of children without health insurance (12.5 percent).

Family Connection Partnership and Family Connection work to improve the conditions of children and families throughout Georgia. We track and measure outcomes for children—particularly regarding the health and well-being of children.

If this is important to you, and the children and families in your community, please share this information with your collaborative and key partners. If your community would like to express concerns to your representatives, for contact information visit http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2007_08/house/07alpha.html.



Other bills related to PeachCare:
HB 620 and HB 625 (Reps. Ron Stephens, Pat Gardner, Judy Manning, and others) would allow Georgia to use Medicaid funds to protect PeachCare coverage for children and would not cut eligibility or services. Both bills are assigned to House Insurance.

BUDGET UPDATE
House Appropriations Subcommittees have been hard at work during the interim and have completed their recommendations for the amended FY07 budget. Highlights from Subcommittee recommendations:
· $1 million in the Department of Community Health budget for “new start” Community Health Centers to be administered by the Georgia Association for Primary Care in Bacon, Bibb, Gwinnett, and Lanier counties
· $1 million in the Department of Human Resources (DHR) budget for additional funding for the Babies Born Healthy program
· $250,000 in the DHR budget to Children’s Advocacy Centers of Georgia for a Web-based case tracking system
House Appropriations will vote on the amended FY07 budget on March19. House Appropriations Subcommittees are meeting this week to finalize their recommendations for the FY08 budget.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Rep. Nikki Randall: GOP Slight of Hand

We better hold off bestowing the "Knights in Shining Armor Award" to Georgia Republicans for "saving" PeachCare. Even as Georgia newspapers blazed with headlines about Republicans acting to "rescue PeachCare," the Republican leadership acted in committee today to significantly rollback the benefits that are now available to working families under that critical program.

To their credit, the Georgia Democratic House Caucus issued a statement today opposing HB340, a bill designed to rollback the PeachCare eligibility level to 200% of poverty rather than 235% of poverty as it is now. (For a family of four, 235% of poverty is $47,000 per year.) We knew that passage of this bill was a high priority for Republicans who returned to session today after a two week hiatus.

According to Rep. Nikki Randall, HB 340 passed out of full committee this morning by committee substitute. The substitute not only lowers the eligibility rate to 200% but it also removes the dental and vision components of the program. The substitute bill allows the department the option of offering both the dental and vision components, but at a cost above the existing premium.

In committee today, Rep. Randall, who was the first to offer a bill, HB 236, to allow the state to fund the shortfall, offered three amendments to no avail. The meeting was very restricted. Committee members were limited to only one question and testimony was limited to one minute. Calling it a "fast train," Randall finally offered a motion to postpone action on the bill because she felt that the bill was not given an adequate hearing because of the new restrictions. The bill also gives the department the power to raise or lower the premium rate in response to the amount at which the program is renewed, reason being that, of course, the General Assembly will not be in session when Congress makes that determination. That gives an awful lot of power to a non-elected body. Randall said, "if we can come into special session to pass a gas tax surely we can come back to make that crucial decision." No kidding.

The Telegraph noted that the Governor's beloved "Go Fish" program was 'slashed' from thirteen million to just five million to help pay for the PeachCare 'fix.' (That's because campaign mail that said Republicans told Georgia families to "Go Fish" for health insurance would have been just too devastating. Can't you visualize that commercial or mail piece?)

We need to remember the big budget surplus that Sonny touted during the campaign and that the majority of the money Georgia is fronting for this temporary shortfall will be reimbursed by the Federal Government when the SCHIP program is reauthorized this summer. Plus, don't we need to ask what sort of priorities allow us to spend even five million on "Go Fish" if we are further restricting access to children's health insurance?

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Bibb Commissioner Joe Allen Responds to Criticism


In my email bag, there is an interesting letter from Bibb Commissioner Joe Allen responding to criticism for accompanying a personal friend of his, Richard Orr, as he was sentenced in federal court on drug charges. I personally don't have an issue with Allen accompanying his friend to his sentencing. While I do not approve of Orr's activities, he was pleading guilty to his crime and accepting his sentence. As far as Allen is concerned, sometimes being a human being is more important than being a politician.




To: The Citizens of Bibb County
And surrounding Counties
From: Bibb Co.Commissioner Joe Allen
4980 Dixon Road
Lizella, Ga. 31052
Date: March 18, 2007
“ The Mile “
Lat week “Rick Knight” was sentenced for his part in illegal drug activity at his home in S. Bibb County. As his friend for many years in Public Service, I appeared at the Federal Courthouse in Macon, along with others, to give him much needed support. For my action, I have been very unduly criticized, via e-mails, phone calls and letters. Some of which stated, I should not have appeared in Public to give support for anyone involved in Criminal Activity. Under “The Constitutional Right of Freedom of Speech”, all of you are allowed this privilege, as well as I. You voiced your opinion and I voiced mine. Many of the negative comments made to me, could have hurt my feelings, but they did not. However, my feelings are crushed and hurt by those that do not realize, “Addiction” is a disease, and these people need all of our help, and not our criticism .I do not condone any illegal actions by any unfortunate Addict, but I do sympathize, and have a great deal of empathy for him, and his Family, as I have “Walked that long mile”, over and over again, when Drug Addiction destroyed my own Family in 1988, and eventually ended, in the unfortunate demise of my ex wife, my Children’s Mother.

My response to the statement that I should be removed from Public Office is
“No” !! I certainly should not. Should I be criticized for trying to help a man, who has realized his mistakes, and trying to straighten out his life, my answer is “No” I should not. Should I continue to pray and offer my support to this man, “Yes” I should ! Should I hope and pray you feel the same way I do, “Yes”,I should. Should you join me and others, begging the Govt. to increase and restore the funding for Addiction Treatment, “Yes” you should ! Should you agree practically every family in Georgia, in some way, has been adversely affected by Alcohol and Drugs, legally prescribed or illegally obtained, in some way. “Yes”, you should. Should you continue to voice your opinions as you see fit, “Yes”, you should. Should you rethink your “Critical comments”, “Yes”, you should. Should we all hope and pray this man, continues to receive help while he ‘pays for his crime”, and tries diligently to start his life over,” ‘Yes” we should. The “Miles of Addiction” are on an endless road of self destruction that leads to nowhere”. We could all at sometime be in the same sinking boat. I do hope to continue to support any citizen in need of help and hope you will find it in your heart to help too.

Sincerely,
Joe Allen

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Can We Trust our Federal Police?

Max Wood, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, took exception to a headline for a recent Telegraph editorial, "We Can't Trust our Federal Police." Below is Wood's letter to the editor on the subject, published last Thursday. Keep scrolling, and you will find my husband's response, published today in the Telegraph.


Irresponsible headline
I was deeply disappointed at the irresponsible headline on the editorial page of March 13 Telegraph. The editorial, entitled "We can't trust our federal police" referred to a story in a national newspaper pointing out mistakes made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in its interpretation of the Patriot Act.
Not only was the headline an insult to hundreds of thousands of federal law enforcement agents, it was also a misleading interpretation of the facts of the report.
The USA Patriot Act, which The Telegraph regularly criticizes, contains numerous oversight and cross checking responsibilities to insure abuses don't occur. The discovery of improperly issued "National Security Letters" was the result of internal Inspector General investigations, in other words, a self-inspection required by the Patriot Act. Agencies that can't be trusted typically don't engage in rigorous self-inspection.
All across America federal law enforcement agents put their lives on the line to protect the United States and its citizens. Painting the whole profession with such a broad brush as was done by your editorial headline both demoralizes the profession and is disturbing to the community and our nation.


Maxwell Wood, United States Attorney

Shoe on other foot
I have to admit that I read with some amusement our U.S. attorney's outrage over a recent editorial in The Telegraph that he asserts "demoralizes" all federal law enforcement agents.
Given that we have endured over six years of the Bush administration that has manipulated intelligence to get us into a hopeless war, has sent our young men and women into that war without adequate support or plan, has authorized and condoned human rights abuses including those at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, has been caught several times conducting unauthorized and illegal surveillance of innocent citizens, and has fired U.S. Attorneys for not doing the administration's bidding, please forgive us if we have concerns that our federal law enforcement may not obey the law in the course of doing its job.
I certainly agree that it would be unfair to blanketly condemn any group of people for the sins of a few. However, those who have dared to criticize the Bush administration have been repeatedly labeled as unpatriotic and as encouraging the terrorists. It is ironic to hear complaints from the other side of the aisle when the shoe is on the other foot.


Daryl J. Morton, Macon

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Whew!


The final score does not seem close, but Michigan State played UNC very tough until about the 4 minute mark. But, Hansbrough without the mask? He rules!!

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Friday, March 16, 2007

BREAKING: URGENT PeachCare Alert

Georgia Republicans are wasting no time moving forward with their plan to rollback eligibility for PeachCare. In fact, the very first item on their agenda when the session reconvenes on Monday is a vote to do just that. They know that it is the weekend, and they are doing this now so that there will be limited opportunity for public comment. We must act today and through the weekend if we hope to stop this ill-conceived plan.

Thanks to Planned Parenthood for this information:

Urgent PeachCare Alert

Bill to cut PeachCare eligibility is set for a vote at 9:30 a.m. Monday --Please call committee members today and ask them to vote against HB 340!

HB 340 is set for a vote in the House Health and Human Services Committee Monday morning, March 19, at 9:30 a.m., Room 506 in the Legislative Office Building. The bill would cut income eligibility limits from 235% of the federal poverty level to 200%. Children in a family of three with income over $34,340 would not be able to get PeachCare.

We understand there may also be an effort to use this bill to cut dental and vision services and charge families more for them.

Please call committee members TODAY! Ask them to vote NO on HB 340.
Please let them know you want:
* PeachCare coverage for more children, not fewer
* An end to the freeze on PeachCare enrollment
* No cuts in services or cost increases
Children without health care coverage are far less likely to get the services they need and are less likely to do well in school and become productive members of society. Cutting coverage will send children back into emergency rooms and cost more down the road. Ask the committee to make children our state priority.
Thank you!

Sharon Cooper, Chair, Marietta R-41 404-656-5069 Ed Rynders, Vice-Chair, Albany R-152 404-656-7855 Buddy Carter, Secretary, Pooler R-159 404-656-0213 Charlice Byrd, Woodstock R-20 404-656-0126 Mike Cheokas, Americus D-134 404-656-0325 Doug Collins, Gainesville R-27 404-656-0188 Katie Dempsey, Rome R-13 404-656-0126 Karla Drenner, Avondale Estates D-86 404-656-0202 Tom Graves, Ranger R-12 404-656-7146 Bill Hembree, Winston R-67 404-656-5146 Michele Henson, Stone Mountain D-87 404-656-0116 Sistie Hudson, Sparta D-124 404-656-7859Lester Jackson, Savannah D-161 404-656-6372Sean Jurgeson, Canton R-22 404-656-0287 Sheila Jones, Atlanta D-44 404-656-0323Margaret Kaiser, Atlanta D—59 404-656-0265 Mike Keown, Coolidge R-173 404.656.0177 Jimmy Lord, Sandersville D-142 404.656.7859 Barry Loudermilk, Cassville R-14 404-656-0152 John Lunsford, McDonough R-110 404-656-7146 Gene Maddox, Cairo R-172 404-656-0152 Fran Millar, Dunwoody R-79 404-656-5064 Billy Mitchell, Stone Mountain D-88 404-656-0116 Howard Mosby, Atlanta D-90 404-656-0287 Don Parsons, Marietta R-42 404-463-2247 Allen Peake, Macon R-137 404-656-0188 Nikki Randall, Macon D-138 404-656-0109 Carl Rogers, Gainesville R-26 404-463-2247 Tony Sellier, Fort Valley R-136 404-656-0265 Robbin Shipp, Atlanta D-58 404-656-6372 Barbara Sims, Augusta R-119 404-656-0109 Pam Stephenson, Atlanta D-92 404-656-0126 Mable Thomas, Atlanta D-55 404-656-0314 Stan Watson, Decatur D-91 404-656-0220 Joe Wilkinson, Sandy Springs R-52 404-463-8143

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Is Your Baby a Bigot? What if You Could Know? What if You Could Do Something About it?

Albert Mohler, the President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY is catching it from all sides after his comments about the potential for dictating a baby's sexual preference. His article, titled, Is Your Baby Gay? What if You Could Know? What if You Could do Something About it? stirred up the radical religious right because of the warning that we may have to accept that homosexuality is biologically based and not a "choice," undercutting a linchpin in the argument that homosexuality is evil, sinful etc.


Not to worry, choice or not, Mohler assures us that it is in fact sin-whether or not God made you that way is an inconvenient detail. He is, however, tickled pink by the prospect that perhaps in-womb interventions will open the door to both knowing a child's orientation prior to birth and changing it. That's the bit that got him into trouble with the rest of us. It has me wondering whether there is, perhaps an in-the-womb fix for bigotry and wishing that there had been when Mohler came along.

A quick scan of Mohler's website and blog make it clear that he is preoccupied with homosexuality. Fascinated, I would say. Not only are there a number of articles on the subject, but, do me a favor: put your Freudian hat on and look at his picture on the left side of this page.
Besides the obvious reasons for outrage, this is personal for me. I was a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1981-1985. Both of my children were born in Louisville during those years. I'm betting that Mohler was a contemporary of mine, though that is about all we would have in common.

The mid-1980's was about the time when the infidels were engaged in their hostile takeover of one of the richest denominations in the world, the SBC, and were poised to use it as the evangelical spearhead of the political movement that gave us George Bush, Tom DeLay, Karl Rove, Ted Haggard et. al.


I know that it is hard to believe, but when I was a student there, Southern was widely respected as the most scholarly and liberal of all the Southern Baptist seminaries, though at that time all of the SBC seminaries were protective of academic freedom, a cornerstone of Baptist history. (I know, it's hard to believe, but it is true. Baptist's colleges were the first in the New World to embrace academic freedom. Those who are persecuted often end up thinking that freedom is a good thing.) I loved what that school once was, a place where scholarship mattered and hard questions were confronted without the expectation that there would be an easy, politically correct answer. All that is left now are the buildings.

In 1984, I remember sitting in Paul Simmons' Christian Ethics class at Southern and hearing him argue that the Bible did not, in fact, support the notion that homosexuality is sin. Of course, he was one of the professors they were out to get. You see, part of the plot to take over the SBC hinged on taking over the boards of the seminaries, and that was accomplished largely by engaging in a McCarthy-style witch hunt aimed at 'exposing' "heretical" faculty. Men in cars with cash sent students into classes to tape lectures of the targeted professors. As a result, great minds like Simmons, Frank Tupper, Andrew Lester and others moved on to teach and serve in other places. Now, seeing someone like Mohler at the helm of what was once a great institution is a bit like seeing George Bush in the White House. In fact, it is just like that.

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I Have An Issue With Rep. Kevin Levitas

I'm trying to figure out why Rep. Kevin Levitas (D) helped HB 185 make it through committee. HB 185 was introduced by Barry Fleming and sought to reduce the number of jurors required to impose the death penalty to 12 to 9. Whether or not the bill would make it through committee was questionable, but Levitas offered an amendment to change the number of jurors required to 11 of 12 rather than 9 of 12. That change cleared the path for the bill to make it out of committee and most likely to the floor of the Georgia House.

Levitas is a former prosecutor. Maybe that's why he did this. But then, nothing scores more points in politics than being "tough on crime". Democrats have to work especially hard to avoid the "squishy liberal" label. Maybe that why Levitas did it. Maybe he really believes this is the "right" thing. Maybe.

I have to wonder whether Fleming ever thought the bill would pass with the 9 of 12 provision. Sometimes going to an absolutely ridiculous extreme when proposing something controversial is simply a strategy to get the opposition to agree to a "compromise" that was really the goal in the first place. If your opposition carries the "compromise," then all the better.

I disagree with Fleming and with Levitas (and the other eight committee members who voted for this bill). If we want to impose the ultimate punishment, at the very least, ALL the jurors should agree. Most who face the death penalty in Georgia are poor, black and depend on an indigent defense system currently facing a funding crisis. DNA evidence is teaching us that wrongful convictions are, indeed, a real problem. Is this really the time to impose the 100% punishment with less than 100% agreement?

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

One and Done

This is becoming a habit for Duke. First in the ACC Tournament, they lost their first game to N.C. State and tonight:

Virginia Commonwealth: 79
Duke: 77

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"Maritally Challenged" Candidates


In his Washington Monthly article, High Infidelity, Steve Benen, poses the question, "What if three admitted adulterers run for president and no one cares?" The Republicans face a huge problem because their top drawer candidates are, indeed, maritally challenged.
Here's what Benen had to say:

"Lurking just over the horizon are liabilities for three Republicans who have topped several national, independent polls for the GOP's favorite 2008 nominee: Sen. John McCain (affair, divorce), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (affair, divorce, affair, divorce), and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (divorce, affair, nasty divorce). Together, they form the most maritally challenged crop of presidential hopefuls in American political history."

I think that people do care about a person's character. I know that I do. How is the GOP's evangelical base going to deal with this?

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Colbert Picks Kansas & I Pick The Daily Show




Okay, Flack, how did you get Stephen Colbert to pick Kansas to win the NCAA Tournament?? It is curious that his reason for choosing your team is that they have the letters NSA right there in their name, making it easier for them to eavesdrop on their opponent's strategy sessions.

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Our Children are STILL Locked Out


To read Georgia newspapers today, you'd think that the Georgia GOP was the savior of Georgia's PeachCare program and that they reached into their own pockets and found the money to 'loan' the federal government. Don't be fooled. It's time for a little truth check:


1) PeachCare is not fixed. The GOP plan for stop-gap funding does not rescind the freeze on new enrollments until Congress reauthorizes the SCHIP program. This could also impact families who miss premium payments.


2) Georgia Republicans still intend to rollback qualification standards. See this quote from the Telegraph:


Democrats on Tuesday quickly turned their attention to fighting cuts to PeachCare being pushed by top state Republicans. Perdue has said he supports a proposal by Richardson that would lower the income eligibility threshold for PeachCare from 235 percent of poverty to 200 percent. Those already in the program in that income range would be grandfathered in, Perdue said.


3) Bridging the funding gap is not what the GOP wanted. It is an idea that was birthed early in the session by caucus Vice Chair, Nikki Randall. See her quote here:


State Rep. Nikki Randall, D-Macon, said she was "pleased" at the step. She'd been pushing a similar fix for weeks by asking colleagues to pass House Bill 236, which would have allowed the state to put its own money into PeachCare once the federal reimbursements ran out.
"I wish I'd thought of it myself," Randall said of Perdue's solution. "But I did think of it myself."


We cannot sit by quietly while the Georgia GOP now moves forward to fund boat ramps and who knows what else while they reduce critical services for our children. It is all about priorities.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Chicken is for Fundraisers

Chicken is not a game that should be played with healthcare for Georgia's children. Yet, this is exactly what the Georgia GOP did- they opted to play a game of chicken with the federal government to see who would come up with the funds to fill the gap for PeachCare.

Today, they finally did what Rep. Jim Marshall and Rep. Nikki Randall proposed long ago- they borrowed the money to fill the gap from the Medicaid program. I guess when a Democrat proposes something, partisan politics trumps child welfare and the idea is dismissed by the Republican leadership. It is too bad that this crisis was allowed to bloom, and too bad that families were stressed not knowing whether or not they would be able to continue coverage.

The Republican spin on this issue has been that Congress left them holding the bag and that Congress must act to 'fix' PeachCare. The truth is that Congress did precisely what they had promised, but Georgia's high enrollment (a good thing) exceeded projections. Congress, due to reauthorize spending for the S-CHIP program this year, will ultimately reimburse the state for the money that is now being used to bridge the gap. The 'fix' that was needed, and proposed early on by Randall, was that Georgia law did not provide for the state to step in a provide funding for the program in a crisis like the one that exists now-even if those funds would later be reimbursed. And, remember, due the the surplus Sonny talked about during the campaign, we had PLENTY of money to get this done. It was never a question of 'could' we do it- it was a question of priorities and 'would' we do it.

Now, the Republican leadership, who refused to even give her bill a hearing, have essentially adopted the language of that legislation and made it their own. Fine. At least our children are finally protected, but never forget that this is not the solution the GOP leadership wanted in Georgia. They wanted to shave children from the PeachCare rolls. That was their solution. I suspect that they polled the issue and discovered that most Georgians disagreed with this ill-conceived plan. Whatever gets it done.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Civil War in the Georgia GOP?

For the Georgia GOP to fracture over the vote on Sunday sales of alcohol is poetic. On this issue they find themselves caught between the Religious Right and the Pro-Business factions of their party, groups that together helped the GOP grab the reigns of power in Georgia and nationally. Plus, overall public opinion supports Sunday sales. Georgia is one of only three states in the nation that prohibits the sale of alcohol on Sunday. So, will Republicans allow the Religious Right to trump both business and public opinion? We'll see. It's good to know that there's something they are willing to fight for-our children would not make that list. Given the amount of alcohol that typically lubricates the legislative session, this fight is ironic indeed.

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Halliburton moving to Dubai

Halliburton's moving to Dubai surely does raise a lot of interesting questions about values and "patriotism." I hope they don't get any more contracts from the US government.
Too bad they didn't take Cheney with them.

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Flack Attack


With this post, Jon Flack of Peach Pulpit has crossed the line. Call me out about politics all you want, but, basketball- that's a step too far. Apparently, Mr. Flack is a Jayhawks fan and takes exception to my support of the Tar Heels. I know that in Georgia, Democrats often favor the underdog, but, really, Jon, you have gone too far.


To hear Jon tell it, Kansas has yet to recover from Roy Williams, uhm, leaving Kansas to become head coach of UNC several years ago. Okay, I can understand that UNC winning the NCAA tournament that same year was a bit of a kick in the pants, but what can I say? We were due, and have not had a team as talented since. Until this year.


It is true that Kansas has deep basketball roots and a fine team, but consider this: UNC has twice as many NCAA Tournament victories as Kansas (4 to 2), and UNC is second only to Kentucky in number NCAA appearances and wins in tournament games. UNC is tied with UCLA for the most trips to the Final Four (16). We have the experience, the will and, yes, Jon, the coach. Hope to see your birds in the finals, Jon.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Atlanta, You Don't Know Jack

Ellis that is. It is amazing how different someone can look from eighty miles up the road. This morning I when read "Macon Mayor is the Talk of the Town" in my news digest, I initially assumed the story was in the Telegraph and began to read the story aloud to my husband who remarked, "that's an incredibly soft story." Turns out the story by Bill Torpy is in the AJC. Those of us who have lived the pain of the Ellis years might not've been as kind.

How do you write an entire profile about Jack Ellis and never mention the city's issues with financial mismanagement so severe it impacted our bond rating? How do you ignore the superior court grand jury investigation, the federal investigation, or the recent fifteen million dollar "error" in the city audit?

One of the most glaring examples of the under-reporting in this article is the discussion of Jack's passion for revitalizing the inner city and public housing in particular. Torpy says,

"One of Ellis' widely viewed successes has been his drive to revitalize Macon's inner city. Public housing has been torn down and federal grants have transformed block after block of the historic neighborhood near Mercer University..." (AJC)

What??? Did Torpy not know or did he ignore the sheer hell Ellis has given one of Macon's true public servants, Housing Authority Director, John Hiscox? How about the issues with the match for our HOPE VI funds? And so, so much more. There's a good bit in the article about Ellis' conversion to Islam, but to us down here, it's just a "there he goes again" sort of thing, Our real concern has been about the management or mismanagement of City government.

As I noted last week, my sources tell me that after his term, Ellis plans to move to DeKalb County, where he owns a home, and run for the 4th Congressional District seat. I hear that he has already formed a committee to explore this option and is discussing it openly. In fact, at the end of the Torpy article, he references this possibility:

Some sort of trade job might be in the works, Ellis said. Or there could be another run at politics. He mentions he still owns a home in DeKalb County and playfully points out that 4th District Congressman Hank Johnston is a Buddhist, so what's wrong with a Muslim challenger? (AJC)

Atlanta has always been good to Jack, and he likes doing business there. He has looked to the big city for his campaign cash, and as recently as last year, Tom Houck, Andrew Young and others threw a party to help Jack raise money for his legal defense fund. Just a suggestion: ya'll might want to check into why he needed cash for his legal defense before you send him to Congress.

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How About Those Heels!!

I could try to make this post about politics by pointing out that John Edwards and his family are also huge Tar Heel fans, but that would be a stretch. Today, UNC defeated NC State to win their first ACC Conference Tournament since 1998. The Duke "Boo Devils" lost in the first round to that same NC State team. Will we get a one seed? I'm thinking, yes.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Edwards Leads-Again

John Edwards is making leading on tough issues a habit. He was the first presidential candidate to call for universal health care and to put forward a comprehensive plan to make it a reality. He was the first to apologize for his vote to authorize the war in Iraq, and the first to say that we need to get out troops out of Iraq. Now, today, after months of political "if I had known then what I know now" double-speak, Hilliary Clinton is also calling for a March 2008 time line for withdrawal.

And on Thursday, Edwards was the first candidate to pull out of the Nevada presidential debate because it was sponsored, in part, by Fox News. His principled stand on this and other issues could've come with a big price tag- he could've been the only candidate to miss the debate in this key early primary state of Nevada. But sometimes when you do the right thing, others ultimately follow, and on Friday, the Nevada Democratic Party pulled the plug on the debate, pointing to the participation by Fox.

Edwards has the strength of character, the courage and the vision to lead on all of these issues. I want a leader to be President, not a politico who checks a poll and then decides what he believes.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Shoes

I am sitting in the Atlanta airport waiting to pick up my son's friend from Texas, and I just want to say that it never ceases to amaze me what some women put on their feet when they know full well they have bags to carry and a ways to walk in an airport. Spike heels for an airport?!!

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The Religious Right Now

From the prosperity gospel that provides the underpinning for poverty-fueling economic policies, to timely confessions from conservative stalwarts like Newt Gingrich and Ted Haggard, the GOP is increasingly dependent on their unholy matrimony with the Religious Right Now, a marriage that may ultimately be the death of neo-conservatism.
These are not simply conservative Christians who value the Bible as Word of God; the Religious Right Now are political power-brokers who embrace a guilt-free gospel of immediate entitlement. Wealth is good, and forgiveness is treated as a political commodity, available not in humility at the foot of the cross, but instead in carefully orchestrated reality television dramas with cameras rolling, talking points memorized and spin-masters ready to become the talking heads on the news programs to follow. And none of it happens, of course, until the issue is polled to measure how potential voters are likely to react. The goal is not saving a soul, but instead saving a political career, and the broker's access to power.
The problem for the GOP is that this "Right Now" gospel carries a scent of hypocrisy that taints people like Gingrich, Haggard, and ultimately the Party that has embraced them. There's the sense that they have more in common with the money changers in the temple than with Jesus of Nazareth. Perhaps they will now share their fate.

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Zell Miller: "I am Religious, and we are Right."


Speaking to a crowd at the Sav-a-Life Banquet in Macon last night, Zell Miller said that he didn't mind being called a part of the religious right because, "I am religious, and we are right." At least he is honest about his arrogance. His other "facts" had an air of "truthiness" about them.


For example, did you know that we are producing too few people in the United States? Never mind escalating poverty, if only there were no abortions, we would have plenty of troops to fight the terrorists over there, so that we don't have to fight them over here. Following his logic, we should outlaw abortion so that more young men and women can become causalities of war. Zell's remarks were over the top, even for Zell. Galloway and Baxter have the story here, and you can watch the video here.


It is important to remember that while Miller is capable of climbing out on a limb all alone, he did not do that on this occasion. Here, he simply regurgitated the talking points of radical extremists. Don't believe me? Check the text of Georgia HB 1, a bill filed this year to make abortion illegal. The bill makes similar ridiculous claims.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Gore for President?

It would not surprise me if Gore ended up running for the Democratic nomination.
Democratic contenders have sometimes been called "a circular firing squad." Maybe Gore will wait until the others have expended a lot of their vigor on infighting and the Republs have tossed out their usual array of poison darts. Then he could step into the race and take them all by surprise.

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Dems in the 10th?

Andre is reporting three democrats running for Charlie Norwood's seat. Anybody else hear anything?

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They've Locked Out Our Children

While the Georgia Legislature is on vacation, children are now officially locked out of PeachCare. Here are the details:

* Any new applications received or postmarked after March 11, 2007 will not be processed for PeachCare eligibility.

* Members whose participation in the program is suspended for failure to timely pay premiums or for failure to provide required income verification will also be affected by this change and will be precluded from re-enrollment. These members will receive additional notice by direct mail as required by governing regulations.

* Members enrolled and/or determined eligible prior to March 11, 2007 will not be impacted by this particular proposed change.

Mark Trail, Director of Medical Assistance Plans, Department of Community Health, reported there were 278,000 members enrolled as of yesterday.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Hart to Resign Bibb Commission Seat

The Macon Telegraph is now reporting a rumor I heard yesterday. Commissioner Sam Hart will resign his Bibb Commission seat because he has purchased a home out of the district. I applaud Hart for this choice-he could argue to remain in the seat because of his existing homestead exemption in the district. This is the right thing to do, especially if he wants to run for chair.

The rumors about who will run for the seat have already started and include Terry Tripp, Rick Hutto and Herbert Dennard.

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Democrats Work in Georgia

Thanks to Thomas Bates with Democrats Work for this:

There is another opportunity this Saturday, March 10th to participate in a Democrats Work event. Volunteers will be involved in trail clean up at the Sweetwater Creek State Park near Lithia Springs. This is a great opportunity to get outside in what is likely to be beautiful weather and join with fellow dems to make the community a better place to live. And that's what it's all about, isn't it? Well, if not that, then it is about the tee shirts. The park will provide free tee shirts for volunteers PLUS the first ten to RSVP will receive a FREE Democrats Work tee shirt- soon to be the fashion statement of the political season! You will find the details here.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Just a Rumor

Put this tidbit in the rumor category. I heard that Mayor Ellis has purchased a home in DeKalb County, and after his term ends, intends to move to there and run for the 4th Congressional District seat now held by Hank Johnson. And you thought that Cynthia McKinney was a controversial member of congress. All I can say is that this is not the strangest rumor I have ever heard about the Mayor. Somebody go search property records in DeKalb.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Coulter Did NOT Make a Mistake

Say whatever you like about the inappropriateness of Ann Coulter's comments about John Edwards on Friday, but don't be naive. Ann Coulter is a seasoned political operative, and, on Friday, she did NOT make a mistake. She said exactly what she was supposed to say-exactly what she had planned to say. Not only were her remarks precise, but I wager that she and other Republican operatives weighed the impact and the likely fallout. They decided that having the idea that John Edwards is a (word I won't use here) floating in the news cycle and on the blogs was worth it. Her role is to say what the GOP wants in the media- they rely on her and others like her to say what the candidates can't. Being a tasteless bigot is part of her act. It's expected, and when it happens, the Mitts and Rudys can stand back and act appalled, while the rest of us beat on Ann- which is exactly what she wants. She is well-paid for her work.

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The Candidates Are Coming. The Candidates Are Coming!

OBAMA is on his way to Georgia!

Thanks to Jenna for the following:

Here's the information for the Obama event:



You are cordially invited to an
ATLANTA AREA KICK-OFF

For
SENATOR BARACK OBAMA


For a reception benefiting
Obama for America
Monday, March 26, 2007 Location TBD
5:30 p.m. VIP Reception Atlanta, GA 6:30 p.m. Kick-Off
VIP Reception: $2,300 per ticket
Kick-Off Reception: $500 per ticket
For more information please contact
Jenny Cizner at 202-277-9583 or jcizner@barackobama.com
Obama for America does not accept contributions from currently registered federal lobbyists, registered foreign agents, political action committees, or minors under the age of 16.Contributions or gifts to Obama for America are not tax deductible for federal income tax purposes.Federal law prohibits the acceptance of corporate contributions.
Paid for by Obama For America
Obama for America
***Please include this page with your contribution ***
I am happy to serve as a Co-Chair and raise $50,000 before March 31st (includes 5 tickets to VIP Reception and tickets to reception )
I am happy to serve as a Host and raise $10,000 before March 31st (includes 1 ticket to VIP-Reception and tickets to event )
I am happy to serve as a Sponsor and write $2,300 check (includes 1 ticket to VIP Reception and 1 ticket to the general reception.)
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The Rat is Out of the Hat

My son's roommate was hit by a car a couple of weeks ago. He is, thankfully and remarkably, alive but suffered extensive injuries that will require ongoing surgeries and therapy costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Together, the coverage available on his insurance and that of the driver won't touch that cost, yet, to recover what benefits are available, he will probably need an attorney. Sen. Mitch Seabaugh thinks that if he has to hire an attorney, he also needs to pay the State of Georgia 6.5% of whatever the attorney charges him, whether or not this fee is an hourly rate or portion of the settlement. Does that make sense to you? No? Then you may have a question or two for Sen. Seabaugh.

As the Rome News-Tribune accurately reports, when it comes to tax 'reform,' Georgia Republicans have finally let the rat out of the hat. With Sen. Seabaugh leading the charge, they want to shift Georgia's tax system to "Georgia One Tax," a move that would tax what is spent, not what is earned. This would mean 6.5% tax on goods and services. In addition to the fundamental problem of shifting a greater proportion of the tax burden to poor and middle class Georgians while providing a tax haven for high income earners, who already pay a lower portion of their income in taxes than other earners in Georgia, the concept of taxing services opens a Pandora's Box of problems. Consider these questions:

1) If a doctor charges $100.00 for an appointment, but the negotiated rate with the insurance company is $60.00, and the patient has a $15.00 co-pay, what would be taxed? The full amount? The co-pay? The negotiated rate? And, when would the sales tax be paid? At the time of the appointment or at the time of payment? It should come as a surprise to no one that people do not always enter a doctor's office prepared to pay their bill. If they are not able to pay the sales tax at the time of the appointment, what is the doctor supposed to do? Refuse care? That would be unethical.

2) What about attorneys who represent those who are trying to negotiate the maze of getting their Social Security Disability claims approved? In these cases, the fee is set by federal law to one fourth of back benefits or $5300.00, whichever is less. Bear in mind that to get back benefits, a judge or a court must have found that the Social Security Administration was wrong to turn down the application in the first place. Bear in mind that some individuals have been waiting not months, but years for a hearing. (The Atlanta Office of Hearings and Appeals, where the average person must wait over 800 days from the time of the request for the hearing, has the worst track record in the nation.) So, should this person, who has been unable to work and wrongly denied benefits, pay the State of Georgia 6.5% of the fee his attorney has earned? And, just how should the lawyer collect that fee? Attorney fees in these cases are paid directly to the lawyer by the Social Security Administration. Does he bill the claimant for the sales tax? What if they don't pay it? Would the federal government even allow the lawyer to collect the tax over and above the fee they have already limited?

3) Just the above two examples show that this proposal would create an undue burden for small businesses, especially professional practices. It is conceivable that a small business would have to hire an additional employee just to deal with this sales tax issue. Who do you think will end up covering that cost?

What Sen. Seabaugh and the Georgia GOP really want is for small business and entrepreneurs to become the tax collectors for the State of Georgia. What he really wants is to protect the wealthy by passing a greater share of the tax burden to the middle class. Sen. Seabaugh may be fine with that, but are you?

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

A Fly in the Ointment?

Last week, I posted about the forward thinking effort of the DPG to identify one (1) candidate for the 10th Congressional District. The day of the Big Meeting has come and gone, and there has been no announcement regarding who was anointed. Perhaps the process is ongoing, and we will hear something soon. I hope so. Lots of us would like to support that candidate.

What I fear is that one or more candidates have allowed an ego much greater than their chances in this race to spoil this attempt at Democratic Sanity. Participation in this exercise would've had to be more or less voluntary. Folks had to willingly come to meet with the group and willingly agree to support the candidate deemed to have the best shot in the race. Could it be that one or more candidates decided not to play ball?

If that's what happened, lots of us would like to know whose gigantic ego spoiled this rather brilliant plan.

Let's hope that I'm just being impatient.

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Some Things are More Important Than Politics


UNC is playing Duke this afternoon. Let me just say....


GO HEELS!

Update: And go they did, the final is UNC- 86 and Duke - 72

But, it is unfortunate that the game ended as it did, with the flagrant foul against Tyler Hansbrough.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Hate Sells

Ann Coulter is a purveyor of hate. She uses hate-speech to call attention to herself and make money. On Friday, she pointed her guns at John Edwards. So far, so good. I'm for free speech and all that, but when the major candidates for the Republican nomination are in the audience along with the Vice President, then those who would be leaders have a responsibility to stand up and say that she was wrong. They have a responsibility to ban her appearance at future fundraisers. I hope that America is paying attention. These men who would be President have chosen her for their spokesperson. This is the callous hatred that is part and parcel of the extreme right wing. See the clip and learn what you can do here.

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Richardson Relishes "Opportunity" to Cut Kids' Benefits

Georgia Republicans have decided that they prefer a vacation to staying on task and finding a solution for PeachCare that does not involve cutting children from the rolls. While the legislature is on this two week break, the date, March 11th, past which no more children will be enrolled will come and go. What a lame, cowardly attempt to avoid accountability for getting what you really want: reduced services for the neediest Georgians so that the Governor can keep his promise to cut the taxes of a strong voting block: wealthier seniors. The truth is, Georgia Republicans are vacationing because they relish the opportunity to cut access to PeachCare.

If Republicans are crying about PeachCare, those are crocodile tears. Democrats gave Georgia children PeachCare, and ever since Republicans have been trying to find a way to curtail the program. They won't tell you that, at least, not usually, but today, Speaker Richardson let his slip show with this remark, as reported by AP reporter Shannon McCaffrey in the Telegraph:

House Speaker Glenn Richardson said the funding fight "has given us a good clean opportunity to give the program a fresh look."

At least the Speaker is owning up to the real agenda here.

The bottom line is that limiting the access of children to PeachCare is bad fiscal and public policy. Those children who do not get adequate early medical care have higher health costs in the long run, and most often those costs are picked up by the taxpayer. Children who do not get good basic healthcare are less likely to come to school "ready to learn."

Given the consequences, it is outrageous to support programs like "Go Fish" and tax cuts for higher income seniors while our children's access to healthcare is in jeopardy. It would be one thing to discuss cuts if austerity was the rule of the day in other areas of the budget, but that is not the case. This is a debate about priorities. As Rep. Randall has said, these are our children. We have the money to fill the gap, and we should do just that. And, as Randall suggested once from the well, Richardson and those of his ilk should fall on their knees and repent.

Just what does he not get about "as you do to the least of these, you do unto me?"

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Councilwomen Mullis in Burn Center

WMAZ is reporting that Macon City Councilwomen, Filomena Mullis is in fair condition at the Augusta Burn Center following a Thursday night accident. They had no details on the accident. We all wish her well and speed in healing.

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Georgia GOP: Big Oil Trumps Your Property Rights

Denmark Groover would not be happy. In 1995, he fought for, and passed, legislation to protect property owners from oil companies who might want to take their land. Now, thanks to another Middle Georgia legislator, Rep. Ross Tolleson (R), that legislation may be rolled back, giving oil companies greater ability to condemn (your) land for pipeline. Between this bill and Staton's bill to allow utility companies the right to directly contribute to political campaigns, it's easy to see whose side these guys are on. It ain't ours.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

I Wish I Could Make This Sexy

The tax code. Just the mention of it makes me want to fall asleep, and that's just exactly what Georgia Republicans hope those of us in the Middle Class will do as they devise ways to shift more of the tax burden to us. It's not sexy. It does not evoke the same emotion as ultrasound bills or pleas to let us buy alcohol on Sunday, but trust me, unless you are among the richest 1% in this state, you better wake up and pay attention. This is not going to happen this year, instead they are planning to save the fun for an election year when they coffers will be filled to over-flowing with contributions from the wealthy they seek to protect.

Consider these little known facts, courtesy of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute:

  • Georgia's tax code was developed between 1937 and 1951 and has rarely been updated.
  • Although Georgia's per capita income is 34th in the nation, Georgia ranks 43rd in state taxes as a percentage of personal income.
  • Georgia's corporate tax collection declined 62% between 1989 and 2003, based on % of GSP, due to loopholes that place a greater tax burden on small business and individuals.
  • Georgia's per capita health spending is 50th in the nation
  • Georgia's current tax system takes more from those who have the least. It is a regressive system.
  • When revenue from sales, property and income tax are combined, the lowest 20% of income earners in Georgia, pay a higher share of family income in taxes than any other group. Those who are in the top 1% of earners pay the lowest share of income in taxes than any other group.
The motivation for this is no real mystery. Money, and those who have it, control the political process. That's why I am so pleased to see Presidential candidates like John Edwards calling for public funding of elections. If you don't believe me, all you have to do is glance at the legislation that is moving through the General Assembly. Who's benefiting? Utility companies, developers, seniors who make up to $150,000 a year, payday lenders and other "haves." Who's taking it in the teeth? School children, the disabled, indigent defendants, those without access to healthcare and other "have nots." Even as our child poverty rate increases, never in the history of this State has money talked so loudly.

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Nobody's Left Out in the Cold

God forbid that the DPG would do something logical and strategic like trying to unite party leadership behind one candidate in the 10th congressional district. We wouldn't want to hurt anyone's feelings, now would we? It's about time that the DPG became much more deliberate and "less nice" about winning elections.

To this point, I have avoided much commentary on the meeting held yesterday with party leaders, electeds and those Democrats interested in running for the 10th Congressional district. It seemed to me that this was a strategic move and not something I wanted to advertise on this blog. But, now that this has been reported in the mainstream media, and now that Republicans are discussing our strategy on their blogs, it seems time for comment. (I know, Erick, Peach Pundit is bipartisan, just like Politics and Lunch.)

According to a post on Peach Pundit, Terry Holley was "left out in the cold" by the process and has been "running since November 8th." I can find no where in any news account where Holley has used the phrase, "left out in the cold." He did say that he has been running since Nov. 8th. Perhaps this is a case of a Republican trying to start a fight among Democrats. Of course, that would never happen. Personally, I think that Republicans are just jealous, and perhaps a little bit worried. Democrats are acting different-like winners. I bet they'd rather have one strong Republican candidate than a field of, what is it now, nine?

My understanding is that participating in this meeting at the Party was voluntary, but that those who came agreed that they would support the eventual recommendation of the group. I don't know whether or not Holley participated, but I do know this: as the minority party in this state, we must find a way to avoid nasty, expensive primaries, and this seems to be as good a method as any. If we want to win, we have to be willing to make tough, strategic decisions and worry less about whose feelings we hurt. Not that long ago, it would've been Republicans engaging in a much-less-transparent process, weeding out their field to ensure that the resources they had would be directed to the candidate who had the best chance of winning. This is part of the reason they are in power in Georgia now. Now, the shoe is one the other foot.

I see this as a test run for Democrats in Georgia- a way of checking out a new approach to candidate selection. In the past, the party has remained officially 'neutral' in primaries. (Frankly, if you believe that, then I have some swampland in Florida I'd like to discuss with you.) The difference is that this was an open, transparent and deliberate process. The appropriate role of the Party in primaries is something that should be a matter of lively debate. No doubt there will be divergent opinions. But, as far as I am concerned, if you want to run for Congress and you can't convince the officers of the DPG, representatives of the district and elected officials that you're the "guy" or "gal", you are probably also going to have a tough time convincing the voters.

By the way, I have nothing personal against Holley and respect most anyone willing to offer themselves for service, BUT, he lost badly to Norwood and there is no evidence that he can raise the cash to run a credible race. (His 12/31 disclosure showed that he had total receipts of $28, 453 against disbursements of $31,821 and debt of $10,000. That's not the picture of fiscal health I'm looking for in a candidate.)

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