Friday, November 30, 2007

Only One Pie in California


Do you recall the initiative by some California Republicans to change the electoral process by splitting up the state's presidential delegates proportionally by congressional districts? The initiative has been withdrawn and will not be on the ballot next year. (Scroll down when you get to 1250. (07-0016. Amdt. #1NS) This is good news for Democrats, who are likely to win California in the general election. (H/T to Tom Crawford)

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Kudos to Some New Macon Council Members

Macon's new city council, including some certified newbies, will be sworn in on December 11th. Long before the swearing in-and well before the inevitable swearing at-a number of the newly elected members have made it their business to attend committee meetings, council work sessions and regular council meetings. Lauren Benedict, Larry Schlesinger, Virgil Watkins and Tom Ellington have attended often, and Lonnie Miley has attended occasionally. Of course, Miley has been on council before. Two work session-orientation session have been held, one Nov. 29th and one on Nov. 15th. Benedict, Schlesinger, Watkins and Ellington all attended both sessions. Outgoing council member Cole Thomason even came to the first orientation session to offer helpful advice. I hear that Erick Erickson may have missed these work sessions, and I find that surprising, though I know it does take a lot of time to be, what was it, the 69th most influential conservative...

While there's no requirement that newly elected members of council start attending meeting prior to taking office, it certainly seems like it would make the transition easier for the city and for the new members. So, big props to those who have chosen to begin serving even before they are "official." I think this bodes well for the council's future work.

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A Suggestion from a Soldier

A soldier friend had a great suggestion: phone cards are the very best holiday card for our thousands of soldiers deployed. A phone card can help a soldier connect with his or her family back in the states, and that's priceless.

What if we in the progressive blogosphere collected phone cards for soldiers this holiday season and then sent them to some of our brave men and women deployed in Iraq?

What do you think?

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tell Emily to Take a Hike: A Verse for Bill Shipp

A Verse for Bill Shipp
Don't call 911
Just yet.
And tell Emily
To take a hike.
I assure you there's
A Great
Deal happening, not
All of it polite!

Holy cow. Based on Bill Shipp's last two columns, I'm shocked that I found neither paramedics nor Emily Post on hand when I arrived at the DPG headquarters on the Saturday after Thanksgiving for a Platform Committee meeting. Shocked, that despite the holiday weekend and Georgia/Georgia Tech game that afternoon, the majority of the committee managed to join the meeting either on the phone or in person. Stunned that on that Saturday, there were canvassers in the DPG office, part of the new Grassroots Georgia effort that has already garnered nearly fifty grand for the Party from critical low-dollar donors-a source we have rarely tapped. Flabbergasted that when I returned to on Tuesday at 5 p.m. there were people with clipboards, scripts and maps headed out to metro neighborhoods. They were probably just going out to give lessons on manners. It's not possible that they were actually going out to update our brand new voter file system or invite people to volunteer and give to the Party. And, then, surely the AJC was mistaken when they reported that, yesterday, fifty-five of our seventy-three democratic lawmakers bothered to attend a work session on the Speaker's hugely unpopular tax plan. They were even accused of doling out "rough treatment." Georgia democrats, the original alley fighters of politics, could not possibly be preparing to kick some GOP behind, could we?

After all, on Sunday, Shipp said the Party appears "about to flatline," and yesterday he declared us "perpetually polite losers." And, Dr. Green had some questions, and since she asked so nicely, I thought I'd take a crack at the quiz. Just remember, I'm answering for myself here, not on behalf of the Party.

1. Who constitutes Georgia's slate of Democratic leaders?

There are too many to list, but I'd start with folks like President Jimmy Carter, Gov. Roy Barnes, Sen. Sam Nunn and the list of Statesmen and women could go on, and move to some of our currently elected like Commissioner Mike Thurmond, General Thurbert Baker, Rep. DuBose Porter, Rep. Kathy Ashe, Sen. Valenica Seay, Sen. Robert Brown, Sen. David Adleman, Rep. Nikki Randall and the list goes on and on.

And then there are locally elected democrats like our school board president in Bibb County, Lynn Farmer, our newly elected Mayor Robert Reichert, our newly elected Macon City Councilwomen, Lauren Benedict, and, let me not forget to add incumbent City Councilman Mike Cranford-who actually switched back to the democratic party in the last election. Yes, some of them are actually switching back to us...

And folks like Sheriff John Cary Bittick and Sheriff Jerry Modena. Did you know that the majority of Georgia sheriffs are democrats? They are.

And, then there are the people whose names you may not know, volunteers like Steve Leeds, who works tirelessly to help the Party and democratic causes in general, Sally Rosser, who has sweated blood working to birth brand new county parties and support congressional district chairs, Jason Carter, who help launch Democrats Work, a national initiative, Melita Easters, who co-founded Georgia's WIN List, Shyam Reddy, who ran for SOS and helped found Red Clay Democrats, Kyle Bailey, who is active with Stonewall Dems and seemingly everything else, and I should not leave out Jane Kidd, our chair who has already burned a set of tires traveling the state, speaking to groups-like the Georgia Chamber-where democrats have feared to tread. I could go on and on and on. You can access a list of the "official party leadership" here.

And don't forget to add yourself, Dr. Green. The DPG is a "we" not a "they." If you're a Georgia democrat, then it's your party, too, and you are part of the leadership.

Surfice to say, I'd stand our leaders up beside Glenn Richardson, Sonny Perdue and crew any day of the week.

2. What are they doing except saying 'DONATE'?

There's actually a whole lot going on, but even I know that all political strategy does not belong on a blog. But, here are a few examples: the Grassroots Georgia Program (the canvassers I mentioned above) is but one example of a new initiative. You can learn some more on the brand new website. We have been busy planning for he JJ Dinner and have invited all of the presidential candidates to joins us on Jan. 30th, right before our primary. You should come; it will be a blast and it's a deal until Dec. 1. Speaking of leaders, we'll also be honoring Sen. Max Cleland and Sen. John Lewis at this special event.

Committees are meeting, planning is taking place, candidates are being recruited, money is being raised, county parties are forming, formed and functioning-though we need more. The Party has taken a very active roll in the two special elections that happened this year in Georgia, most recently helping Bonnie Byrd Gardner with her race. I'm talking substantive help with mail, canvassing etc. And, while she did not win, if we are going to gain ground in Georgia those are precisely the kinds of races we need to invest in. Jane Kidd went herself to knock on doors with Bonnie, along with teams of canvassers from the Party. YD's helped, too, as did the unions.

And, I could go on, but again, the Party is not a "they," it's a "we." So, if you're a Georgia democrat, it's your party. I challenge you to get involved, if you're not, and help make a difference.

3. Why is there seemingly nobody with credibility opposing Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-GA?

There's no question that this race is a problem for us. I posted about it earlier this week. It's not easy to convince someone to run against a sitting senator. Political races are expensive both in terms of cash and personal time commitment. So, if you know someone who is credible, has great name id, could partially self-fund and can take the next year off to run-please send them over. Perhaps you?


4. Why do we hear nothing from the Democratic Party of Georgia on the rubber-stamp Republican government we have?

I personally support the shift to positive messaging for Georgia Democrats. We cannot win elections-and should not win elections-unless we make a compelling argument for why we should be allowed to lead. That means telling folks what we will do, not just why they're bad. I think people get tired of just hearing us beat on the r's.

5. Why was there no uproar among Democrats when SR 3033 (2005) was passed by the General Assembly to urge Georgia lawmakers to support blindly all Bush nominees?

Here's where you find out that I'm honest-I don't know what this is, but I promise I will find out. But, I do think "blind" and "Bush" should always be in the same sentance.


6. Why is there seemingly no statewide Democratic organization even though Democrats have a good chance to elect the new president?

There are actually at least two statewide democratic organizations-the DPG with our affiliate county parties and congressional district organizations and the Georgia Association of Democratic County Party Chairs. Expanding and strengthening this network is part of the 159 County Strategy. We are working to grow where there are no local groups and deepen our roots where there are such groups. The DNC helps fund grassroots development through the 50 State Strategy, and that means meeting measurable goals.

Even though I'm ever the optimist, unless hell freezes over, the outcome of the presidential election will not hinge on Georgia, but we have critical down-ballot races that it will impact and that we must work hard to win. We need your help.


7. Why was there no Democratic outcry regarding Sonny Perdue's land deals?

This was all over all the papers, in ads, on the radio, messaged every thirty seconds, practically, during the 2006 election cycle. I thought if I heard the word Oakey Woods once more I would scream. We were swimming in ink on this. You're right, what he did and is doing is horrible. We all but served warrants. But I don't know how you missed the messaging on this one.


"I could not find a dazzling e-mail address for the Georgia Democratic Party, so I am sending this to others who may know how to get through.
"The Democrats of Georgia have tucked their heads for too long. Those of us who care can do very little without a very strong state party.
"People are waiting. People are tired of DONATE, DONATE! There's nothing happening. - E. Ruth Green, Ph.D."

Here's the link for the email addresses and other contact information for the Party. Perhaps not dazzling, but functional, all the same.

There are a whole lot of us who are not "tucking our heads," but instead are doing all we can do to make our Party stronger. Is it perfect? Far, far from it. Is it frustrating? Often. We have a huge task in front of us, and need every single shoulder at the wheel, including yours. We are making progress, building a foundation for growth and success in elections. So, Bill, don't call 911 just yet, and tell Emily to take a hike. I assure you, there's a great deal happening, not all of it polite.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Buzz!

Buzz Brockway made the YouTube cut.

And he wants the republicans to pledge to stay in Iraq for the long term.

Forever?

This is why I am a democrat.

Let's see what they say. Thompson didn't give it to him. (We're going to win) Paul didn't give it to him. McCain says we never lost a battle in Vietnam. I'm not sure whether McCain did or didn't. Tancredo says we are threatened by radical Islam. I don't think he answered either.

Sorry, Buzz, I'm not sure you got a taker.

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Mike Huckabee is So Going to Win Iowa

I'm a watching the republican YouTube debate. (Yes, I do hate myself.) What I want to say is:

Mike Huckabee is SO going to win Iowa, and probably the whole shootin' match.

We need to focus on who on our team has the capacity to stand up to Mr. "I started at age 14 working and worked my way though college. Because I was able to get an education, I am standing on this stage, otherwise I might be picking lettuce..."

Somehow, Hillary Clinton's name does not jump to mind.

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GOP Candidates Mum on Moms

..and anything else that has to do specifically with women. Joanne Bamberger points out in this piece at Huffington Post that while Democratic candidates like John Edwards and Joe Biden and other have clear platform statements about women's issues-none-read that none of the r's do. Oh, they have things about the "sanctity of life" and such but nothing, I said nothing, about women's issues. Sort of lets you know where you stand with them, doesn't it? Here's an except from Joanne's piece:

And I have to say, I was shocked. At least from what they've got on their sites, it seems like the Republicans aren't very interested in women. Granted, all issues are, in one way or another, women's issues. But I'm looking for something specific about the ones we tend to deal with a lot more than our husbands, partners and significant others.
As for the Democrats, they all have places on their websites to address the so-called "women's issues." John Edwards has his Promise for American Women. Chris Dodd wrote the Family and Medical Leave Act. Hillary Clinton is calling herself a "Champion for Women." Joe Biden has a whole section on his website called "Empowering Women to Take Charge."
So I assumed that the GOP candidates would have similar topics on their sites.
I'm still looking.

Well, what I'd say about that is that if they don't care about us, then we don't vote for them. I suppose their platform on women's issues is that they will, in the most paternalistic way possible, "protect us." Oh, joy.

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Pretty Pointed

According to NBC, John Edwards has launched a pledge drive today, asking voters to sign a pledge refusing to support any candidate for president who “accepts campaign contributions from Washington lobbyists and special interest PACs.” The campaign hopes to sign up 1 million “voices” by Feb. 5, 2008, the day the primary process hits critical mass as more than 20 states hold their primaries. At first blush, this would seem to impact Clinton but not Obama.

You can sign the pledge here at America Belongs to Us 2008.

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Will CNN Have the Guts to Ask This One?

Robert Parham, executive director of The Baptist Center for Ethics has submitted this question for the Republican YouTube Debate tonight. I hope they have the guts to ask the candidates this one!

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New Poll: Clinton Trails All Five Republicans in General Election

A new Zogby poll has some sobering news for democrats. In a general election match-up, Sen. Hillary Clinton trails all five likely republican candidates-Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee, and McCain- while both Edwards and Obama lead all five. Read more here.

This is not the first poll that has pointed to Clinton's general election problems. Her negatives have always been high. She has had consistent problems with making the "electability" argument. We have three supreme court justices on the line, folks. Don't we need to nominate the candidate who has the best shot at actually defeating the republican nominee? Looks to me as if either Edwards or Obama would stand a better shot than Clinton.

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What Are We Going to Do About Saxby? (Updated)

Over the holiday, I read Bill Shipp's piece encouraging, tongue in cheek, Dale Cardwell to run for senate as a republican. At the moment, I don't see a candidate in the race who-based on current performance and past experience-can beat Saxby. It's not that Saxby is such a great candidate-he's not. A well-positioned, well-funded candidate might've had a shot at him. He's definitely made some mistakes. But, let's be honest. Right now, can any of our guys win? I don't think so.

I know nothing about Josh Lanier other than what I have read on his website and on Tondees. My question is, "how if the money rolling in?" And, I'd like to know a little more about him. He lacks name ID, and that's expensive to create.

Regarding Dale Cardwell, I think that democrats may look back on that race as a missed opportunity. I have my issues with him, as I wrote earlier this month. But, to unseat an incumbent, you need a candidate who is not a typical politician. I like Dale's "fighting for the little guy" thing, and I like some of his positions, but as I have told him, I just get completely derailed when his answer to "what is your top issue" continues to be "to secure our borders." He says that he has polling that shows that's a top issue for Georgia voters. I have my doubts about his numbers. First, I don't know whether he is referring to a poll he commissioned or a public poll of some sort. I suspect it's the latter, and I suspect that the numbers are skewed. When we polled issues for a legislative race in Middle Georgia, illegal immigration was no where near the top issue for general election voters. It wasn't even in the top three. So, this may be a burning issue somewhere in Georgia, but not in my town. So, what about Cardwell now? He needs to raise a whole lot of money fast and refine his message or he is probably not going to be viable, even to win the primary.

And, then there's Vernon Jones. Look, without getting deep into it, let me just say that despite the theme music from "Rocky" that opens his site, given his history, Saxby would have to seriously do a Foley for Jones to have any chance of beating him. I just don't see it happening.
But he's the most likely candidate to win the primary.

Maggie Martinez has also thrown her hat into the ring but seems to have an even bigger hill to climb in terms of name recognition. Again, I know little about this candidate, and I'm in the "tuned in" category of voters. And, then there are the issues with her website. But it would be fun to watch her and Cardwell debate immigration policy.

So, what do we do? I think democrats are waiting for a savior, and I see none in site. Frankly, based on this field, I think that we have members of the state legislature who would make more viable candidates.

Update: Yesterday, I left Rand Knight off this post, unintentionally. Here's a link to his site. Again, I need to know more about him. Anyone else I missed?

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Georgia Democrats Set to Lead

Georgia democrats have a unique opportunity to lead this legislative session. Georgia is facing a severe drought-that threatens business. Georgia is facing a tax scheme-that threatens business. As Porter points out today in the AJC, Georgia democrats are in a unique position to be the voice of reason in an atmosphere of political extremism.

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Eggs at Issue

The traditional "Eggs and Issues" breakfast at the beginning of the legislative session may take on a whole new meaning this year with the "Human Life Amendment" on the table for this session. I posted about this yesterday, and Catherine Morgan over at Political Voices of Women picked it up today with this comment:

My Opinion: This is the kind of thing that really infuriates me. With issues like the war, our broken healthcare system, education, the economy, and so on and so on…Tricking the voting public with wedge issues like this makes me sick. The only thing worse than using a wedge issue to manipulate the voting public, is a wedge issue that will take take away personal rights of women…This is an infuriating story.

This is a national issue for the next election cycle as republicans seek to put this on the ballot in critical states. It's wedge issue politics, and I agree with Catherine: the only thing worse than a wedge is a wedge that tramples on women's most basic rights.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Get Your Hands Off My Eggs

Why would two of our male democratic legislators in Georgia buy into a republican strategy to put a wedge issue on the November 2008 ballot-an issue that is sure to energize the republican base and make it harder for all Georgia democratic candidates to get elected? Oh, and did I mention that this a part of a national GOP strategy, right out the Rove playbook? That's right, the GOP is seeking to put this amendment on the ballot is several states, not just Georgia. So, why help them?

Mixed in with the water fight and the tax fight, during the next legislative session, Georgia women are going to be literally fighting for control of our eggs. Georgia republicans-with the help of two democratic co-sponsors-will try to pass legislation to put "The Personhood Amendment" or "Human Life Amendment" on the ballot in Georgia in November of 2008.

"The Human Life Amendment," is a constitutional amendment defining life as beginning at the moment of fertilization and offering constitutional protections to the fetus. This bill was introduced in March by a a bipartisan group of legislators that included democrats Hardie Davis and Rick Crawford. This bill, if passed, will not only impact a women's right to choose whether or not to have an abortion, but could also limit access to certain types of birth control, including the "morning after pill" and some types of IUD's. As a proposed constitutional amendment, this is clearly a wedge issue that Republicans are seeking to place on the 2008 ballot. It is the top legislative priority for Georgia Right to Life.

Some Georgia democrats are anti-choice, and some are pro-choice. There is room in our party for people who hold both positions. But this legislation is particularly horrid and would have uncertain legal implications for women if it were passed. Most of all, I can't understand why elected democrats would buy into a republican scheme to put this wedge issue on the ballot in 2008. This just doesn't make any sense.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Paging All Georgia Democrats: What Do You Believe?

I'm headed up to Atlanta today for an initial meeting of the Platform Committee of the Democratic Party of Georgia. Without boring you with the details, this committee has a unique opportunity to formulate a platform of values and principles that reflects not just who Georgia Democrats are but also who we aspire to be. We have an opportunity to help make "the argument" for why, in Georgia, Democrats should again be given the opportunity to lead.

One of our first tasks is to gather the ideas of Georgia Democrats-to ask what is it we believe? What do we stand for. A month or so ago, I posted on this and got some excellent responses. Focusing on values and principles, rather than positions or programs, I want to again invite your ideas.

Why are you a Democrat? What are the fundamental values and principles that make us who we are?

This is cross-posted at Tondee's Tavern.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Message From Rosalynn Carter

With just a few clicks of your mouse, you can do something powerful this Thanksgiving-help get a new MRI machine for Sumter Regional Hospital. I urge you to read Mrs. Carter's message below, go vote, and forward this to all your friends. Come on folks, this one's easy. Happy Thanksgiving! (You may need to cut and paste the links in your browser because I'm posting from my phone.)


Dear Amy,
As you may know, on March 1st, a tornado ripped through Americus, which is just down the road from Plains, where Jimmy and I live. The destruction was massive, but the community has rallied and rebuilding is ongoing.
Sumter Regional Hospital <http://www.gha.org/directory/directory/Sumter1.JPG> The hospital that serves our area - Sumter Regional Hospital - was totally destroyed that day. Insurance money won't begin to cover all that it will take to rebuild our hospital. The good news is that we all have a chance to pitch in to help with just a few clicks of a mouse.
Siemens is holding a contest to give away a new MRI machine to a hospital in America that needs it. A new MRI machine costs almost $1 million, and I can tell you that Sumter Regional Hospital has a great need for it. It would mean a lot to me and our community if you would go to www.winanmri.com <http://www.winanmri.com/> , watch the powerful two-minute video called "Blown Away - Sumter Regional Hospital," and vote for our hometown Hospital.
Right now, we are in first place, but the second place hospital is just outside of Buffalo, an area with a much larger population than southwest Georgia! You will see that many hospitals, including other great hospitals in Georgia, have posted videos. Many of them are deserving, but I hope you will take the two minutes to hear our story and help us.
You can vote once a day, every day. Please vote often and forward this message to your family and friends asking them to do the same. The last day to vote is December 31st.
Our grandson, Jason, started Democrats Work because of a deep belief that Democrats can and should do more to help improve their communities in tangible ways every single day. I know you've been involved with Democrats Work because you feel the same way. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to help a community in need, and I am grateful for your support.
On behalf of my whole family, I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving.
Sincerely,
Rosalynn Carter
----------------

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

For These Four Things

There are lots of things to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. One little table in the corner of my living room tells the story of four things I am very grateful for. The table holds a carnival glass dish, a lamp and a pottery pitcher holding a ceramic yellow daffodil, and reminds me of the values of charity, thriftiness, patience and perseverance I am grateful for learning from my family as I grew up.


The carnival glass dish was my Granny Watson's. When she started housekeeping, she didn't have a lot and the Great Depression was at full force. The dish was one of her few nice things, but when a neighbor who had even less came by and admired it, she gave it to her. Many years later, my mother was surprised to see it at an estate sale after that neighbor's death, and she bought it. When my mother died, the dish became mine. When I see it, I am always reminded of her example of charity and that it really is better to give than receive.


The simple lamp was a wedding gift to my parents, and when I was a little girl, it stopped working. I remember watching while my father fixed the lamp. A few years later, it stopped working again. And he fixed it again. It still works today, and every time I see it, I am reminded of my parent's tear-the-paper-towels-in-half brand of thriftiness.


My mother took up pottery later in life, and the daffodil in the pitcher is one that she made. It reminds me of the ones she planted in a line in our backyard-on either side of my basketball goal. Needless to say, every year, the flowers began to bloom at about the same time the weather was getting warm enough to make shooting baskets in the back yard inviting. And, every year, the flowers got crushed by the basketball, or at least most of them did. I remember many a pained looked on my mother's face when she saw the crushed flowers, but don't recall many harsh words. She never made me stop playing basketball. She seemed to know what was really important in that mix, so when I see the daffodil, I am reminded of both her patience and the perseverance of those flowers that kept coming back year after year despite being crushed.


We don't always know what we're teaching our children, but in every case, it is what they see us do, more than what they hear us say that teaches the important lessons, and I am grateful for having examples of these four: charity, thriftiness, perseverance and patience. I'm still working of all of these-especially the patience!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Oprah Gifts Macon

By now, unless you've been under a rock, you know that Oprah came to Macon for her annual "Favorite Things" show. The show aired today, and below is a list of the items show guests received. Not too shabby! Manufacturers fight to get their products on the list. The 300 samples they provide for the show is a small price to pay for the positive PR.

And, since you asked, HARPO is paying the tax on the gifts for the 300 guests, and recipients simply will have to pay tax on the tax paid on their behalf. Got that Glenn? Also, Oprah loved Macon so much that there will be another show about Macon next week. No more gifts, but she will be highlighting some of the places she visited while she was here. You can't buy that kind of PR, and all for nearly half of us Maconites tuning in to Oprah every day.

Here's the list of gifts Oprah gave:


Samsung Progressive HD Camcorder SC-HMX10C
Approximate value: $799.99
800-SAMSUNG; www.samsung.com
Available at major retailers including Amazon.com,
Circuit City, Sears, CompUSA

UGG® Australia Classic Crochet Tall Boot
Approximate value: $120
888-432-8530; www.uggaustralia.com and Nordstrom
stores: www.nordstrom.com

TOYWATCH Crystal and Colored Crystal Watch
Approximate value: $150-$1500
877-998-8600; www.toywatchusa.com
Also available at Bloomingdales stores nationwide
www.bloomingdales.com

Perfect Endings Cupcakes from Williams-Sonoma
Approximate value: $59 (Set of 9)
800-541-2233; www.williams-sonoma.com

Melamine Bowls, Measuring Cups and Spoons
from Williams-Sonoma
Approximate value: Bowls $32 (Set of 3); Measuring
Cups and Spoons $18 Set (Cups $14, Spoons $8)
800-541-2233; www.williams-sonoma.com

The Artisan® Stand Mixer from KitchenAid Home
Appliances
Approximate value: $349.99
For each pink Stand Mixer purchased and registered,
KitchenAid will donate $50 to Susan G. Komen for the
Cure.
800-541-6390; www.shopKitchenAid.com

The Discovery Channel's Planet Earth DVD Set
Approximate value: $59.95
800-725-4586; www.discoverystore.com

Kai Body Butter and Body Buffer
Approximate value: Body Butter $55; Body Buffer $28
www.kaifragrance.com
Also available at Embrace in Hinsdale, IL: 877-361-7223,
www.embraceyourstyle.com and www.eluxury.com ,
877-890-7171

CLARISONIC Skin Care System
Approximate value: $195/system
888-5-CLARISonic (888-525-2747);
www.clarisonic.com

Claus Porto Soaps from Lafco New York
Approximate value: $42 (Set of 3)
800-362-3677; www.lafcony.com

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Approximate value: $24.95
Available wherever books are sold or online at
www.penguin.com

Breville Ikon Panini Press from Williams-Sonoma
Approximate value: $99.95
800-541-2233; www.williams-sonoma.com

HDTV Refrigerator with Weather and Info Center from
LG Electronics Model LSC27991
Approximate value: $3,799
www.LGUSA.com

Ciao Bella Blood Orange Sorbetto
Approximate value: $4.99/pint at select grocery stores
800-3-GELATO (1-800-343-5286);
www.ciaobellagelato.com

Rachel Pally Swing Turtleneck and Sailor Pants
Approximate value: Swing Turtleneck $141;
Sailor Pants $194
www.rachelpally.com ; Nordstroms stores
www.nordstroms.com and www.shopbop.com

Scrabble Premier Edition from Hasbro
Approximate value: $70
888-836-7025; www.scrabble.com

United Artists 90th Anniversary Prestige Collection
Approximate value: $869.98
www.unitedartists90.com
Available in stores December 11. Pre-order at
www.Amazon.com , www.BestBuy.com and
www.Borders.com

Shaklee Get Clean™ Starter Kit
Approximate value: $89.60
800-670-6251; www.shaklee.com

O’s Guide to Life
Approximate value: $29.95
Available wherever books are sold or online at
www.oxmoorhouse.com

Josh Groban's Noel CD
Available wherever music is sold and online at
www.joshgroban.com

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Richardson Shows His Hand

It's no accident that Glenn Richardson has been long on rhetoric and short on details of his "GREAT" tax plan. This man may be a lot of things, but dumb is not on the list. When it comes to triangulation, he's about to make Bill Clinton looks like an amateur. I've thought for a long time that his sweeping tax proposal was a red herring. Now, Richardson is beginning to show his hand. Here's what I think Glenn Richardson is really up to.

  • By waiting to finalize the plan, he is giving the opposition less time to organize an effective response. Smart.
  • His "shotgun" approach-targeting every service industry and every local taxing authority-has created a lot of enemies and a whole lot of people who will be perfectly happy to trade silence for the opportunity to protect their own interest.
  • In Macon last week, faced with increasing opposition from municipalities and county governments, Richardson began to show his hand.
  • Now, Richardson says that he may just focus on taken tax authority away from school boards.
  • That's both brilliant and evil. Brilliant because he's likely to win that battle. Evil because if he wins, public schools are DOA.
  • That's fine with him. Richardson has repeatedly expressed his dislike for local boards of education, even questioning the value of their existence.
  • By letting city and county governments off the hook, Richardson is betting they will stay out the his fight with school boards-and he's probably making a good bet. The "public schools lobby" will fight alone.
  • Richardson and his cohorts have repeatedly spanked the "public schools lobby." We've lost battle after battle with the republican-led General Assembly. Think about it: we lost the 65% "solution" battle, the Charter Schools/Charter Systems battle, the SB 10 battle. Yep, they've pretty much beaten us at every turn.
  • By focusing on school boards, he tosses red meat to republicans-Cagle and Perdue will have a hard time opposing this scaled-back plan. Why?
  • Because the only way to implement a true state-wide voucher system is for all the education funding to be centralized in Atlanta.
  • The goal is not to just disempower school boards, but to dismantle public schools.

This is going to be an expensive battle for public school advocates, one that we will not win unless we fight differently than we have in the past. An organized, well-funded plan is needed to defeat this legislation and keep the Glenntax off the 2008 ballot.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Bush Limited Edition Holiday Calendar

Micro-targeting is not all it's cracked up to be, otherwise, I (member of the DPG executive committee, WIN List officer, 2004 chair of Georgia Women for Kerry/Edwards who has never ever voted in a Republican primary voter etc.) would never ever have gotten this email today:

Dear Amy,
As a strong supporter of our President and our Party, I wanted to make sure you had the first opportunity to have an official 2008 RNC calendar featuring President Bush.
The images in the calendar span the entire seven years of George's Presidency. I hope they will remind you of what's great about our country and how high the stakes are for America in the upcoming elections.
To receive your limited edition 2008 RNC calendar, please make an
online gift of $25 or more to the RNC today.
Amy, grassroots leaders like you are the backbone of the Republican Party. Your continuing commitment to the RNC is critical to keeping the White House in Republican hands and regaining our majorities in the U.S. House and Senate in the 2008 elections.
So please take a moment to
make a secure online contribution of $25 or more today and you will receive your calendar from the RNC in a few days. Thank you for your ongoing support of our President and our cause.

Best wishes,

Laura Bush



Right. It's is a little insulting, isn't it, that they assume that because of where I live, where I shop and what kind of car I drive, that I must be a "strong supporter of the President and our Party?"

Amazing, isn't it, that anyone would enjoy reflecting on these seven long years? I was going to break down and buy the calendar for some of my friends as a yearlong reminder to vote for a Democrat in November of 2008, but then I realized that the RNC didn't exactly choose the pictures I had in mind. Plus, why buy theirs when I can make my own?

Here's my version of the George W. Bush 2008 Commemorative Calendar:


video

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Who Should Be President of Macon City Council?

Who should be the next President of Macon City Council? Of the fifteen members of Macon City Council, the five who are elected city-wide are eligible to become the next President of Council. Voters don't choose the President-the Council members do-but, here's your chance to have your say. Vote here, and feel free to post your reasons in the comments:

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What Women Want

What do women want? It's not diamonds or pearls, but instead, shorter work days, more free time, a vacation. A chance to see their doctor when they're ill would be good, too.

We may have a female Speaker of the House and a viable female candidate for President, but the typical women in the workforce badly needs some time off. Even when women work, they still tend to shoulder a greater share of the household, childcare and eldercare responsibilities than men do. Even when we're not working, we're working, and even when we have "leisure time," we worry about what we ought to be doing. No wonder more women than men suffer from chronic illnesses like diabetes and depression. And how sad that, despite all this working, a substantial percentage of women cannot afford to go to the doctor or get prescriptions filled.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, only one in five women take a vacation once every six years. Plus, researchers from Ohio State University have found that even when women do get a break from work, they have trouble relaxing and tend to combine leisure activities with other tasks and responsibilities. The co-author of the study, Liana Sayer, said, "The meanings of free time for men's and women's lives are quite different. Especially for wives and mothers, it appears free time is still combined with other activities or responsibilities."Interestingly, married women with children were twice as likely to feel rushed than single women without children. But men who are married with children do not feel any more rushed than single men without children." That will come as a surprise to no women I know.

And, women are worse for the wear. The Kaiser Family Foundation's report, Women and Health Care: A National Profile nearly four in ten women (38%) have a chronic condition such as diabetes, asthma or hypertension that requires ongoing medical attention, compared to 30% of men. One in four women (23%) reported they have been diagnosed with depression or anxiety, over twice the rate for men (11%). When it comes to quality of care, over one-third (37%) of women in fair or poor health say that they delayed or went without medical care in the past year due to costs, and one-third (34%) did not fill a prescription because they couldn't afford it. Nearly 12% of women not only care for children, but also for their sick and aging relatives. Among those, a whopping 46% have a chronic illness of their own and 29% provide more than 40 hours per week of care. And 20% of these caregivers have no health insurance.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Elizabeth Edwards in Macon Tonight

Here are a few pictures from the Elizabeth Edwards event in Macon tonight. She was her usual articulate, friendly, down to earth self. My favorite line of the night: "If we applied the language of No Child Left Behind to the war in Iraq-it's never made AYP." More tomorrow, but for now, see if you recognize some faces:



Welcome Sign Created By Groover Children

Elizabeth Edwards and Duke Groover

Elizabeth Edwards and Lauren Benedict


Carol Porter, Elizabeth Edwards, DuBose Porter

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Only Edwards and Dodd Repond to Political Courage Test

H/T to Travis Fain for blogging about the results of Project Vote Smart's "Political Courage Test." Of the Democratic contenders, only Edwards and Dodd answered the questions. Both Obama and Clinton declined to respond. Think this will come up tonight at the debate?

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Where Are the Women's Voices?

Why is it that male voices dominate the political blogs? That's the question Catherine Morgan of Informed Voter is asking, and now, after cataloging more than 200 political blogs by women, she has launched The Political Voices of Women a site "dedicated to giving women political bloggers a voice." Today, she's linked Girl With Pen who asks why only three of the twenty "bloggingheads" debating politics at the New York Times online are women and why, at http://bloggingheads.tv/, exactly zero of the blogger on the homepage are women.

There are a few female political bloggers in Georgia-me, the women over at Blog for Democracy, Spacey Gracey, who else?

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Clinton Slides in Iowa: New Poll

Today, Rasmussen is reporting results showing that Hillary Clinton's poll numbers in Iowa have dropped seven points in recent weeks, mirroring her six point drop in New Hampshire. Currently, 29% of respondents support Clinton, 25% support Edwards and 21% support Obama, making the race a statistical dead heat. Not surprisingly, Bill Richardson now finds himself in the double digits drawing support from 10% of those polled. Among those who say they are certain to caucus, the top three are tied, 26%, 26% and 26%. Fully half of those polled say they might change their mind before January, so the race is truly anyone's. Second choice support, important in caucuses, is also evenly split between the top three. Among the top three, Edwards is the best liked by caucus goers, with 84% reporting a favorable opinion of him, compared to 81% for Obama and 79% for Clinton. I bet congress wishes for those numbers!

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Bibb Substitute Teacher Strips In Front of Fourth Graders

Yikes. This never happened when I was in fourth grade. The Telegraph is reporting that at a local elementary school, Bruce, a substitute teacher began to take her clothes off in front of a classroom full of fourth graders. She stripped from the waist down. The article indicates that she may have been on medication at the time, and after the children went across the hall for help, the teacher was found unresponsive. So, maybe a medical condition is to blame. The district has removed her from the substitute list.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Edwards Within Striking Distance: Mike Miller

Things are heating up in Iowa! Guest post from Mike Miller:

Go, John, go!!! In the past two weeks, two highly respected polls (Zogby last week and now CBS/NY Times) have reported that Clinton's support is declining in Iowa and Edwards is steadily improving his numbers. According to the highly respected CBS/New York Times Iowa poll released yesterday, Clinton's lead in Iowa has all but evaporated in the past couple of weeks and John Edwards is in striking distance of the lead!

In fact, he may already be in the lead - Clinton's lead over Edwards is now well-within the statistical margin of error!

Here are the numbers:
Clinton 25%
Edwards 23%
Obama 22%

And a whopping 33% of her supporters reported that they "liked her with reservations."

Edwards's "favorables" with his supporters were also stronger than Clinton's were with hers. 71% of Edwards supporters reported that they "strongly favor" him. Only 66% of Clinton supporters reported that they "strongly favor" her.

Experience clearly divides the candidates: 8 in 10 say Clinton is "prepared for being president," 68% said Edwards is prepared for the job, but just over half think that Obama has not. However, Clinton is viewed by many likely caucus-goers as pandering and dishonest: 47% think Clinton says what she believes, but 48% think she only says what she thinks people want to hear. The CBS/NY Times poll notes that "Of the top three candidates, only Edwards is viewed as both being prepared for the job of President and as someone who says what he believes."

Overall, Edwards tops all candidates with the highest "favorable rating," with 73% of likely caucus-goers reporting that they view Edwards favorably. Also, the Clinton complaint that she's being unfairly attacked has gotten little traction, as 25% say she is not being attacked and 34% say that she is being attacked fairly.

I have previously reported on the importance of "second-choice" votes on caucus night. You will recall that candidates need at least 15% in a local caucus to be eligible for delegates. Supporters of candidates who do not receive 15% will then have the opportunity to support one of the remaining candidates. According to this poll, only Edwards, Clinton and Obama meet the 15% threshold. As I have oft stated, the "second choice" votes are critical to victory. Edwards is the winner there. Among likely caucus-goers who identify themselves as either Richardson, Bidden, Dodd, Kucinich or Gravel supporters, 30% chose Edwards as their second choice, 27% chose Obama as their second choice, and only 14% chose Clinton as their second choice.

Stay tuned. And don't miss the CNN debate tomorrow night - it's getting hot in Iowa.

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Elizabeth Edwards in Macon This Friday

With a pivotal debate scheduled for Thursday, and polls tightening in critical early states, Elizabeth Edwards is headed for Macon this Friday for a fundraiser. Join us!



“When I think of strength and grace, I think of Elizabeth’s undefeatable spirit. She is simply one of the most honest, most deeply inspiring people I have ever met.”
—Sheryl Crow

Please join us for a reception with
Elizabeth Edwards
at the residence of

Duke Groover & Catherine Bomberger

2417 Clayton StreetMacon, Georgia
Friday, November 16th, 20075:00 PM


Event Chair: $2,300 (Private Reception)Host: $1,000Friend: $250*Maximum contribution per individual is $4,600,$2,300 for the primary and $2,300 for the general


Marie & Roy Barnes, Lauren Benedict, Manley Brown, Robert Brown, Melanie & Chuck Byrd, Franklin Henson, Lisa & Wendell Horne, Beverly & Alvin Leaphart, Kathy McArthur & Waldo Floyd, Steve Leeds, Debbie & Michael Moore, Amy & Daryl Morton, Carol & DuBose Porter, Kim & Carl Reynolds, Kim & Terrell Sandefur, Valencia Seay, Sacha & Mark Taylor, Deeann & Rex Templeton, David Thompson, Scott Thompson


For more information or to RSVP, please contact Liz Pavle at 919-636-3211 or LPavle@johnedwards.com

John Edwards for President

410 Market Street

Suite 400

Chapel Hill, NC 27516

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The Worst Sort of Push Poll

Someone is push polling on the issue of Elizabeth Edwards' health. Ick. Ick. Ick. From Politico.

Two bloggers today reported receiving calls last night from a pollster testing whether John Edwards’ failure to drop out to take care of his ailing wife could damage his campaign.

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Fox News Was Here This Morning

This morning, a reporter from Fox News-big Fox, not local Fox-dropped by my office to ask my opinion on the implementation of SB10, the voucher bill for exceptional children. They are putting together a package on the voucher issue from a national perspective for air in a few days. There were several items on the blog about that bill last year, our local school board passed a resolution opposing the measure, and I continue to have concerns about the new law. I told them what I have always said on this issue-no one opposes innovation when it comes to education, but if tax dollars are going to flow into the private sector, then accountability should follow.

The vouchers for special needs children in Georgia are controversial, and were just implemented in July. At this point, there is really no track record to judge. The state is essentially experimenting with our most vulnerable students. Plus, there is a concern about whether the local school system will continue to be responsible for the results with these students, even if they do not have control over the quality of instruction.

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I'm Just Not Sure Hillary's Going to Want This Endorsement

Over at Ethics Daily, Bob Allen reports that Rev. Wiley Drake, a former Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention is calling on Pat Robertson to repent for endorsing Rudy Giuliani for President and is calling on Christians to boycott the Christian Broadcasting Network and the 700 Club until he does. These tactics are familiar to Drake who is best known for initiating the SBC boycott of Disney.

Drake goes on to say, if forced to choose, Hillary Clinton is a better alternative than Giuliani. Why? Well, Clinton, he says, is pro-choice, not pro-abortion like Giuliani, and while she is "tolerant" of homosexuality, "she does not like homosexuals but wants them to have their freedom." Giuliani, Drake says, "is not only tolerant, he is active. Giuliani "has even gone so far to be a cross-dresser," Drake said, and marched in a gay-pride parade. "I cannot imagine Hillary, for example, dressing up like a man and marching in a gay-pride parade." Okay, then.

Note to Hillary: Do not send this guy out to surrogate for you.

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It Always Makes Me Feel Good About Macon

Promising. Optimistic. Full of potential. That's how people seem to be feeling about Macon's future, and I think the positive attitude is justified. We do have the promise new leadership in government, and there are so many people in the community who are ready and able to step up to lead. Again this year, I had the opportunity to help with interviews for next year's Leadership Macon class. Every time I do this, I feel more optimistic about the future of our community because I meet wonderful, talented engaged people who are ready to invest their time and energy in making Macon a better place to live. It really is a privilege.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Oh, Good. That's Just Peachy.

The AJC points out today that the tax proposal everyone loves to hate may benefit at least one group: lobbyists. And, they're right. Everybody and their brother will be hiring lobbyists to try to make sure that their niche is protected. The problem is, the poor and middle class Georgians the Speaker wishes to shift the tax burden to-they don't have lobbyists. Yet another reason they can expect to get the shaft in this debate. The only people paid to be there to protect their interests will be legislators. Like I said....

Seriously, though, could this horrid tax plan be a red herring? I've thought for some time that there was such fierce opposition to this tax plan that it surely had no chance of success. Even the Governor and the Lt. Governor have signaled their opposition. And, the experts say the numbers just don't work. But, here's what the proposal could do. It could keep the focus of the legislative session on Richardson, something he might want if he's going to run for governor. Also, with all the lobbyists busy fighting the good fight on this issue, any number of peculiarly heinous pieces of legislation could slip by without the scrutiny they deserve. After all, there are only so many issues you can fight at once. And, if the proposal fails to get the votes needed to be on the ballot next November, then Glenn gets to campaign on "they wouldn't even let you vote on it...they didn't trust voters to decide." Just peachy.

Oh, by the way, who are the lobbyists going to hire to keep lobbyist services from being taxable? And, all those perks they give legislators, will they be able to keep the tickets and trips off the tax books?

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Monday, November 12, 2007

So, Dale was in Macon Today


Flack, in his usual subtle manner, has already weighed in on Cardwell's message of the day. I went to Cardwell's press conference in Macon today. See the photographic evidence above. Here's the critique. I like his "fighting for the little guy" populist stance. I like the fact that he is only taking money from individual donors. I do not like that "fixing out broken border" is his #1 issue. It's just not what folks are talking about at the lunch counter in Macon. I do appreciate the fact that he was out working the state today, trying to get himself into the news cycle. It's tough when you're not the sitting senator and have little money. So, he gets points for being creative. But, no offense to Cardwell, we are in deep, deep trouble in this senate race. There has been no coalescing of Democratic dollars behind a candidate, and until that happens, we have no chance in this race. It is as if we are all just waiting for the right person to step up, and time is running out.

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Salute to a Young Sailor

Every Veteran's Day, I think about my father. When he finished high school, World War II was heating up. He worked on the railroad for a bit, and then enlisted in the Navy. He served in Japanese theater through the end of the war. His ship, the Sims, a high speed transport, was involved in Battle of Okinawa and was present in Tokyo Bay on the day the surrender documents were signed. I heard the stories as I grew up, and remember, once, on a vacation, we went to visit one of his shipmates. He was serving on a ship in the Pacific in the middle of a war with kamikaze planes crashing so close that his boat was lifted clear out of the water. And, like so many of those now serving in Iraq-he was so young-younger than either of my sons. Look at the photographs below-the size of his uniform, that small ship (the one on the right) and the boy in the picture. Like so many of his peers, he simply did what duty called him to do. Salute, to him and to all who have served and continue to serve.


A.D. Hamrick in Uniform, WW II

The Sims, High Speed Transport (right)

Dad's Uniform

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This is Really, Really Funny


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Today in Macon: Cardwell Turns the Spotlight on Chambliss

Dale Cardwell, candidate for U.S. Senate, is having a press conference in Macon today (Nov. 12th) at 1:00 pm outside the Bibb County Courthouse. Cardwell, an investigative reporter by profession, is announcing a series of "investigation reports" about Sen. Chambliss. This press conference is open to the public.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Special Guest Post from Michael Miller

Since I'm in a New York frame of mind....
Volunteering on a presidential campaign has it's perks, and one of the best is getting to meet great, committed people from all over the country. I met Michael Miller, an attorney from New York City, and his lovely daughter Danielle when a group of us traveled to Iowa for John Edwards in August. It turns out that Michael is quite a good writer and often sends updates on the campaign from his NYC perspective. He's agreed to allow me to repost his reflections here. Here's today's post, followed by a brief, but impressive bio of Miller:

SPEAKING OF SWEET - WHAT A SWEET ENDORSEMENT by Michael Miller


Sen. John Edwards speaking to supporters after getting the endorsement of Caucus for Priorities, Friday, Nov. 9, 2007, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) (Charlie Neibergall - AP)


Probably the sweetest endorsement yet, on Friday November 9, 2007 in Des Moines, Iowa, John Edwards received the endorsement of Caucus for Priorities, a 10,000-member strong grassroots organization of Iowa caucus-goers launched by Ben & Jerry's co-founder Ben Cohen. The group praised Edwards for his plans to root out wasteful Pentagon spending while investing in priorities like universal health care and education. Executive Director Peggy Huppert explained why the group chose Edwards over Senator Clinton: "She didn't answer any questions 'yes' or 'no,'" said Huppert. "She has a refusal to commit to anything."

Cohen, chairman of the Iowa organization and founder of the national Priorities Action Fund, joined Edwards at a news conference to announce his endorsement.
Cohen said nearly all of the Democratic candidates had courted support from the group. Members of the organization have become a fixture at campaign events, where they hand out brightly colored pens, frosted cookies and stickers, all featuring a pie chart that details Washington spending.

Peggy Huppert, Caucus for Priorities director, said that over the past two years the group's staff and volunteers attended 550 campaign events and asked more than 250 questions of the candidates.

"Now we plan to turn our persuasion and education efforts toward making caucus night a victory for John Edwards," she said. "10,000 caucus-goers can tip the scales in a tight contest."
Feel the love!

Brief Bio:

Michael Miller is a leading figure in the New York legal community, with a New York City law practice. Among his many activities, Mr. Miller has served as president of the New York County Lawyers’ Association, was a member of the American Bar Association (ABA)’s House of Delegates, and, is currently a member of the Executive Committee of the New York State Bar Association. Mr. Miller’s professional life is committed to public service and pro bono work, which includes diverse activities both locally and in the international arena. He has developed award-winning pro bono programs to assist children and families in distress in New York. He has served in very challenging circumstances as an Election Supervisor in war-torn Bosnia shortly after the Dayton Accords. Under the auspices of the Central and Eastern Europe Legal Initiative, Mr. Miller interviewed Kosovar refugees for evidence of war crimes, evidence which assisted the work of the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague.
Mr. Miller was also a leading figure in the legal relief effort in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. He personally interviewed, counseled and consoled numerous victims’ grieving family members and assisted with their legal needs – which included securing death certificates and entitlements to which issuance of a death certificate was an essential prerequisite. He supervised other volunteers, coordinated daily de-briefings with mental health professionals and helped refine the program to better serve the victims’ families.

Mr. Miller also developed an Adopt-A-Family Program to assist the families of firefighters, police officers and other uniformed service personnel who perished on September 11.

Among his many awards for this work, Mr. Miller received the ABA’s 2002 Pro Bono Award, a 2001 Pro Bono Award from the National Law Journal, and a 2002 Hero of the Profession Award from the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

The NYC-Macon Connection

So, do you think that Macon could be an interesting subject for a documentary film? Several weeks ago, Randy Stulberg called me. She said that she and her brother, Jeremy, independent filmmakers from New York City, had been reading about Macon-the community, the politics-and had come across this blog. She said they were researching ideas for their next documentary film, and were thinking of visiting Macon. We talked for a while, and, frankly, I didn't think I would hear from them again. But, I was wrong. Several days later, Randy called to say they'd booked their tickets and would be here for several days beginning on Nov. 4th. They came, stayed for several days and are headed back to NYC tomorrow.

So, since last Sunday, Randy and Jeremy have been hanging out in Macon, meeting people, talking, filming and doing a little research. They're headed back to NYC tomorrow, in time to see their last film begin showing at the Museum of Modern Art. Both Randy and Jeremy are NYU graduates, and they have already impressed critics with their first documentary, Off the Grid:Life on the Mesa. Off the Grid is one of five independent films nominated for a prestigious Gotham Award in the category of "Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You." The awards will be presented on Tuesday, Nov. 27th, and I'm pulling for Randy and Jeremy. Will they end up making a film about Macon? Who knows, but they are absolutely charming, talented and genuinely interested in our unique community. It's been a pleasure to have them in town. If you'd like to catch a glimpse of their work, click below to view the trailer for Off the Grid.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Oxendine and Estrada Dining Fine in Macon



So. Tonight Daryl and I went to our favorite Macon restaurant, Natalia's, and guess who else was there? John Oxendine and Erick Estrada, who I think are in town for a public event. They were very gracious to other guests, taking photographs, and chatting. But, I did find it humorous, as they were leaving, Estrada got into a car with some other folks, but not with Oxendine. As the car drove away, I couldn't help but notice the bumper sticker: "I Miss Bill." I wonder if Oxendine misses him, too?

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Is Race the Third Rail?

Race is just hard for us to talk about; at least it is in my community. Social security may be the "third rail" in national politics, but in Macon, the "third rail" is race. Touch it, and you might die. We live in a wonderfully diverse community. Folks here have continually tried to talk about race, in both formal and informal ways, but it remains the third rail, the thing that we're afraid to touch-perhaps for good reasons.

Our school system is facing a vote on a controversial redistricting plan. Race is an issue in that plan, and we can't talk about it openly. But we must.

Yesterday, Phil Dodson wrote a column for the Telegraph suggesting that the next City Council President be an African American, and today he's drawn fire. He makes the not-so-subtle suggestion that unless Council elects Miriam Paris then they are "just a bunch of politicians out to improve their lot." I like Miriam, but I think that Dodson's conclusion is a stretch. Also, in the article, when he says that Lauren Benedict has actively sought the President's spot, he's just dead wrong.

And, over the last two weeks, I've watched as two wonderful women, Dr. Catherine Meeks and City Councilwomen Nancy White, touched the third rail, and there were plenty of people waiting to point and chatter. I know these women. They are both good people. They are often part of the solution. Neither deserved the filleting they got.

Today, Joni Woolf, a women who seems to grow more wise every day, who has been part of this community for a long time, wrote the following letter to the editor of the Telegraph. She says what I want to say, far more eloquently than I can:


Denying history no way to press forward


During the past several weeks I have read with interest the columns and letters related to the torturous and unresolved status of race relations in our community and in our culture. They bring to mind a quote from the legendary Mississippi writer, William Faulkner, who said, "The past is never dead. It's not even past."
As a culture accustomed to living "in the moment," we simply cannot accept that reality. Everything begins anew, right now, today. We love that expression, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life." Well that may be, but we all have histories, and for blacks in this community and throughout the South (and some of the North), modern black history did not begin the day school integration became the law of the land. And to say that blacks have had equal opportunity ever since Brown v. Board of Education is to deny all of the history that went before that decision, and much that has transpired since.
We are all the sum total, not only of our own experiences, but of the experiences of our parents and grandparents - experiences that were repeated over and over and became family lore; experiences that short-changed generations of parents and grandparents and great-grandparents who were not allowed to learn to read and write and study at our schools and universities, based simply on the color of their skin. These are realities. Passing a new law that says we all go to school together does not automatically give us all equal footing at the starting gate.
Race is an uncomfortable topic for most of us. We would rather believe that everything is fine (and if it's not, it's their fault); that we are comfortable with things the way they are, and just forget the centuries of violence and injustice that destroyed the hopes and dreams of generations of black Americans before today's "equal playing ground" arrived. We may not like to talk about it. And we may keep denying our own culpability in the patterns of racism that still permeate much of our culture. Our denials don't change the reality: The past is never dead. It's not even past. It's time we looked it in the face. Then, perhaps, we can move on.


Joni Woolf is a Macon resident.

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Elizabeth Edwards is Coming to Macon

Next week, on the day after the presidential primary debate in Nevada, Elizabeth Edwards will be in Macon for a fundraiser. Her timing could not be better.


John Edwards has had a great two weeks. On the heels of a stellar debate performance last week, he went up on air in Iowa and today received a key Iowa endorsement from Iowans for Sensible Priorities, a 10,000 member group. Saying that their choice to endorse Edwards over Obama came down to a choice for "courage over caution", group members are expected to caucus in mass for their endorsed candidate, John Edwards. It's important to note that while Clinton filled out the paperwork for the endorsement, the group's choice was between Obama and Edwards.

The invitation to the Macon reception for Elizabeth Edwards is below. If you would like to come, and I hope you will, you can make reservations on line on this secure site. Remember, because Sen. Edwards is accepting federal matching funds, your contribution of $250.00 will actually result in $500.00 to the campaign.


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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Where Do Presidential Candidates Stand on Poverty?

If you live in Georgia, where 91 of our 159 counties are in "a state of persistent poverty", then you care about where the presidential candidates (of both parties) stand on this key issue. The Annie Casey Foundation has an interactive web page up that allows you to compare and contrast the candidates positions on this key issue. It's pretty neat, so give it a whirl.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A Message From Cathy Cox

Click the picture to hear a special message from Cathy Cox!

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Monday, November 05, 2007

A Note From Tom Crawford

One of Georgia's truly fine journalist, Tom Crawford, dropped by my mailbox this morning to comment on the photographs I posted of the river in Towns County. Tom says,

"...it's not that unusual for the lake levels to be down that far. Lake Chatuge was built by the TVA back in the 1930s for the generation of electricity, not as a source of drinking water, so the lake levels go up and down all the time with the region's power needs. There have been numerous dry summers over the past 20 years where a lot of water was released to run the hydroelectric generators and the lake levels dropped to something similar to what you saw last weekend. Not that I'm trying to minimize the negative impact of the current drought, of course."

Thanks for the background information, Tom. I guess sometimes a picture doesn't actually tell the whole story.

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This is Important: Action Needed Now

With a 67% increase in the foreclosure rate from 2005 to 2006, Georgia has certainly felt the weight of the crash of the sub-prime lending market. As creditors aggressively marketed sub-prime loans, especially in minority communities, for many, the American Dream was transformed into the American Nightmare.


Now, Georgia's congressional delegation has an opportunity to do something to help protect consumers. HR 3915, The Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act of 2007 is currently in committee, but word is, a vote could be just around the corner. Surely, we can count on our elected leaders to support this important legislation. Certainly, none of our Democratic members-not Barrow, Marshall or Bishop-would carry an amendment for the lending industry to gut key, common-sense, consumer protections in the bill-like the requirement that creditors be required to determine, based on verified, documented information, that a consumer has a reasonable ability to repay the loan. Surely not.

But, stranger things have happened. After all, Marshall managed to be the lone Democrat opposing even the revised version of SCHIP. So, please drop your congressman an email, TONIGHT, and tell him to vote "yes" on HR 3915 and to leave the key consumer protections in place. This is critical and time-sensitive. The Center for Responsible Lending makes acting easy.

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

If David Corr Wins, Will Motley Crew Play the Inaugural?

I leave town for two days, and look what happens. Today, the Telegraph endorsed libertarian, David Corr. Corr is running a write-in campaign against James Timley, who currently holds the citywide seat on Council. The election is Tuesday. Tell me if I'm wrong, but I think Corr made history today just by getting the paper's endorsement. In the twenty-two years I've lived in Macon, I think this is the first time the Telegraph has endorsed either a libertarian or a write-in candidate. On Tuesday, will Macon voters hand Corr another first? Will he become the first write-in candidate to be elected to Council? And, if he wins, will Motley Crew play the inaugural? Stranger things have happened.


If James Timley doesn't win this race, he will have no one but himself to blame. Unless he's done it over the last week, he has failed to do the two most basic things in politics: tell his supporters they need to go to the polls and vote for him. There nothing on the ballot to drive voters to the polls, so those who do go will be "motivated voters." It takes a motivated voter to go to the polls, click on "write-in" and type in a name. But, with the Road Warriors in his corner, who knows? Trust me, they define motivated. Reichert is a shoe-in for Mayor, and all other council seats are unopposed. And, in a strange twist that will benefit Corr, Timley will appear, on the ballot, to be unopposed. Lot's of folks don't bother to "vote" for candidates in races where they are "unopposed." There appears to be no need.

Personally, I'm not endorsing him in this race, but I like David. We're often on opposite sides of issues-like when I co-chaired the last ELOST campaign, and he was the voice of the opposition. But, he's always been nice, and we've always been civil. Besides, it's not divergent opinion that bothers me-it's people not giving a damn. He definitely does give a damn.

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Looks Like a Rough Landing

This weekend, I'm in the Georgia mountains. It's perfectly beautiful here, but, even though I knew about the drought, somehow seeing the empty river and lakes was shocking. The pictures below are of the Hiawassee River in Towns County. You can see the dry docks, the highway bridge over mud and the "water" slide to nowhere. Shocking is really the only word that fits. I wanted you to see this:










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Michelman Says Clinton is Playing Victim

John Edwards has been asking some tough questions, and they happen to be directed to a women-a women who wants to be president. In response, Sen. Clinton claimed to be the victim of political "piling on," a sexually-loaded term. Here's what Kate Michelman of NARAL fame, a women who is battle-tested, has to say about Clinton's effort to avoid tough questions from the men in the race:

http://openleft.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=2199 We've Come a Long Way, by Kate Michelman Remember the commercial: We've come a long way baby. Well, have we? That's the question American women need to ask themselves. We earn 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. We are 48% more likely to live in poverty than men. 17 million adult women lack health insurance. Millions of us struggle to balance jobs and the needs of our families. A long way? Not nearly long enough. But now that we have the first viable female candidate for President of the United States, things will get better for women, right? Her candidacy will positively affect public perception regarding women in politics and business - and that change will benefit all women - even the women struggling in dead end jobs, scrapping by on minimum wage, raising their families on their own? Not so fast. As women take a second look at the candidates, now that attention is focusing more on the issues and how each of the candidates would lead, how they would make decisions; now that making a choice is becoming real, less about celebrity, more about being president, legitimate questions are being raised about Senator Clinton. And we're all learning something. When unchallenged, in a comfortable, controlled situation, Senator Clinton embraces her political elevation into the "boys club." She is quick to assure listeners she is plenty tough enough, that she's battled tested, ready to play be the same rules as the boys. But when she's challenged, when legitimate questions are asked, questions she should be prepared to answer and discuss, she is just as quick to raise the white flag and look for a change in the rules. She then calls questioning, 'attacking;' she calls debate among her peers, 'piling on.' It's a political strategy, no doubt focus grouped and poll tested: make it look unseemly that this group of men would question her and hold her accountable for her record. It's trying to have it both ways; walk the fence, something Senator Clinton's good at. At one minute the strong woman ready to lead, the next, she's the woman under attack, disingenuously playing the victim card as a means of trying to avoid giving honest, direct answers to legitimate questions. As a woman who's been in the public eye and experienced scrutiny, as a woman who knows how hard it can be for women to earn their seat at the leadership table, how hard women have to work just to get the same opportunities, this distresses me. It is not presidential. Any serious candidate for president should have to answer tough questions and defend their record. Any serious candidate for president should make their views clear and let the American people know where they stand on issues. And any serious candidate for president should be held to the same standard - whether man or woman. Have we have come a long way? Well, far enough to know better than to use our gender as a shield when the questions get too hot.

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Not-So-Well Care

WellCare, the managed care company in which Georgia Medicaid recipients are automatically enrolled, got about 4 billion from taxpayers, but that, apparently, may not have been enough. If you want to know why taking on insurance and managed care companies is part of what must happen if we hope to make progress on health care,, read the following about the raids on Wellpoint's Florida HQ. Greed knows no bounds.

WellCare Faces Lawsuits, Calls To End Enrollment


By CAROL GENTRY, The Tampa Tribune

Published: October 31, 2007

Previous Coverage:
10/30/07: State Halts Expansion Of Troubled WellCare
<http://www.tbo.com/news/metro/MGBFD6P5F8F.html>
10/27/07: Investors Continue WellCare Exodus
<http://www.tbo.com/news/money/MGBIFBSF98F.html>
10/26/07: WellCare Stock Plunges In Wake Of Raid
<http://www2.tbo.com/content/2007/oct/26/na-wellcare-stock-plunges-in-wa
ke-of-raid/>
10/25/07: FBI Agents Raid WellCare
<http://www.tbo.com/news/nationworld/MGBRPJ6R68F.html>

TAMPA - As its share price continued to slide, WellCare Health Plans
dealt Tuesday with a flurry of other problems, led by a halt to its expansion plans in Florida.

It was the sixth day since a coordinated raid by federal and state agents on the Tampa headquarters of the insurer, which has 2.3 million
members in its drug and HMO-style plans - all of them Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.

None of the agencies involved in the investigation has said what they
were looking for that day, or why. Neither has the company. But that
doesn't halt speculation, or the rush to the courthouse.

On Tuesday, a New Jersey investor filed suit in Tampa - at least the
fourth federal case so far - that accuses the officers and directors of
falsely inflating financial results to promote a run-up in the stock
price, and then cashing in on their stock options to become
millionaires.

The suit, Rosky v. Farha, names every current member of the board except
former Sen. Bob Graham. He has been on the board only a short time and was not at last week's quarterly meeting, which was interrupted by 200 agents from the FBI, state Medicaid fraud unit and Medicare inspector
>general's office. Todd Farha is WellCare's chairman and chief executive
officer.

WellCare filed a form with the Securities and Exchange Commission on
Tuesday afternoon saying that the investor who sued lacks standing to
pursue the case. The statement did not address the accusations of
financial misstatements or unjust enrichment.

A more immediate problem for WellCare cropped up Monday night when the
Agency for Health Care Administration said it was placing a hold on the
company's request for expansion in the state, pending the outcome of the
investigation. AHCA provided details on the expansion plans Tuesday, releasing letters that outlined the company's requests.

WellCare had asked to begin enrolling Medicaid beneficiaries in an additional 11 counties in Florida.

Already the largest Medicaid contractor in Florida, WellCare
subsidiaries Staywell and Healthease had planned to begin enrolling low-income people in Citrus, Lake and Hendry counties on Dec. 1 and in Hernando and Sumter counties Jan. 1. Healthease planned to move into
five counties in North Florida and Indian River County on the Atlantic
coast in coming months.

Currently WellCare has Medicaid permission to operate in 34 counties in
Florida.

WellCare also sought permission to expand its enrollment in Duval
County, where the state is conducting a Medicaid Reform project, from a maximum of 3,500 to 6,000 people. That action, too, is on hold.

In announcing the moratorium on WellCare's expansion Monday night, AHCA
Secretary Andrew Agwunobi said in a release that he was taking 'precautionary measures.' He asked that beneficiaries and health care
providers call 1-888-419-3456 if they had concerns about any Medicaid
managed-care plan.

The release also said the agency's inspector general and Medicaid director would review the state's managed-care contracting policies to
see whether they needed strengthening. AHCA spokesman Doc Kokol said
Tuesday that this, too, was merely a precaution, that there was no reason to assume that the questions about WellCare had anything to do with its contract.

Meanwhile, about 2,000 miles north of the company's base, the leader of a consumer group called on federal Medicare officials to stop
automatically assigning low-income beneficiaries into WellCare drug and
HMO plans across the country until the unspecified allegations of financial impropriety are resolved.

'This is something that's pressing for both beneficiaries and
taxpayers,' said Judith Stein of Willimantic, Conn., executive director of the non-profit Washington-based group Center for Medicare Advocacy. WellCare received more than $4 billion from taxpayers last year.

The people about whom Stein is concerned are low-income Medicare beneficiaries who are assigned to a drug plan when they don't select one
on their own. Of the 1.1 million WellCare members from Medicare, about 452,000 arrived at the company through auto-enrollment, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. CMS calls the process 'auto-facilitation.'

About 38,000 of the auto-enrolled Medicare beneficiaries live in Florida, according to CMS data. Florida's Medicaid program also uses auto-enrollment for many in the state program for low-income families.

Stein says it doesn't make sense for CMS to add more money to the hundreds of millions of dollars it sends the company each month while
Its own inspector general and others are investigating how the money is used.

CMS had no immediate response to Stein's request.
R
Both Florida and Georgia Medicaid programs - WellCare's two largest
customers - also auto-enroll. A Florida consumer group, Community Health
Action Information Network, said Medicaid should halt auto-assignment pending the outcome of the investigation, but spokesmen for both state Medicaid plans said they have no plans to do so.

On Tuesday, the company's stock continued its slide, falling $6.58, or
23 percent, to $22.04. The shares had reached above $120 last week but
plummeted after the Oct. 24 raid by federal and state officials.

Reporter Carol Gentry can be reached at cgentry@tampatrib.com or (813)
>259-7624.
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