Monday, December 31, 2007

New Iowa Poll, Surprising Results

John Edwards has spent far less money in Iowa than Clinton or Obama. He's even been out-spent by Bill Richardson, but, still, Edwards hangs tough. A new InsiderAdvantage poll shows a tight race in Iowa with Hillary Clinton at 30%, Edwards at 29% and Obama at 22%, but Edwards' strength among "second choice" voters may give him the edge on caucus night. When second choice voters are reallocated, look what happens:

Critically, Edwards was the second choice of 62% of those who supported other candidates that did not receive the required 15% of the vote. Clinton was the second choice of 21% and Obama of 17%.Using the reallocation methodology InsiderAdvantage used in 2004 – which correctly indicated a fairly comfortable win for John Kerry – our new poll reveals that, if the caucuses were held today, the reallocated final outcome would be:

Edwards: 41%

Clinton: 34%

Obama: 25%

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John Edwards Hits the Right Note

John Edwards isn't just surging in Iowa, he's on fire and connecting with the most important jury he has every faced: Iowa voters. His perfect-pitch message resonates with his growing, enthusiastic crowds. Edwards grew up in a small town like the ones so many Iowans call home, so his "closing argument" isn't textbook, it's authentic. So, while Clinton delivers her question-free "monologues" and Obama focuses on attacks, Edwards is moving crowds with the simple but powerful message: "It will fight for you."

In contrast with Obama who misjudged Iowa voters by thinking they would be swayed by mega-star Oprah Winfrey, Edwards will cap his 36 hour "fight to the finish" tour of the state with a concert by longtime friend and supporter John Mellencamp. Mellencamp's is not just another celebrity endorsement. He has taken risks by standing up for peace and addressing poverty. Mellencamp is an avid supporter of America's farmers. (There are a couple of farmers in Iowa, in case you didn't know.) His message connects well with Edwards' themes, and more importantly, with the concerns of Iowa voters. The free concert in Des Moines on Wednesday night is not at a glitzy location, and the tickets are being distributed at the local Steelworkers Union hall. Even these details of the Mellencamp event telegraph to Iowa voters that Edwards "gets them."

Outspent and without the media spotlight, if Edwards is able to win in Iowa, it will be nothing short of a miracle. Yet, as he continues to gain momentum, the Clinton campaign, that once thought of skipping Iowa, is telling all who will listen that she actually wants Edwards to win the state. In fact, a win for him is a win for her. Despite that twisted logic, she better be careful what she wishes for-she just might get it. Edwards has found his message and his voice, and, with the echo chamber that would be created by an Iowa win, "I will fight for you" will resonate in the rest of the country just as it has in Iowa.

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Standards Needed for Eyewitness ID

Rep. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield has done an outstanding job chairing the bi-partisan study committee on eyewitness identification and is hopeful that the General Assembly will pass legislation setting standards for eyewitness identifications. This is not about being soft on crime-it's about being tough on those who are actually guilty. The committee heard from experts and from three former Georgia inmates, all convicted based on eyewitness testimony, and all ultimately exonerated. Locking up innocent people keeps no one safer. In fact, it makes us all less safe. Not only does the person actually responsible for the crime go free, but scarce resources are expended confining people who pose no threat. Benfield correctly predicts that even "law and order" Georgians will demand that standards for eyewitness testimony be adopted. Let's hope that the General Assembly will follow the committee's recommendation.

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Edwards Says No to Corporate Lobbyists

This is one of the reasons I'm headed to Iowa to help John Edwards. From day one of this campaign, he has had the courage to lead on critical issues like health care and the war in Iraq. It's easy to claim that once you're elected, you will be ready to lead, but from the first day of this campaign, John Edwards has led on issue after issue. While others played it safe, allowing him to test the waters, Edwards has stood up for the working people of this country.

Today, again, while others either parse words, play it safe, or simply follow the money, Edwards dares to lead-dares to eschew corporate power and fight for working people. Today, Edwards announced that he would not, as President, employee corporate lobbyists or lobbyists for foreign governments in the White House. No other candidate has joined him in this pledge.

It's about time for the power to shift from K Street to Main Street! Edwards is the candidate who can take us there.

Here's the release:

Dec 29, 2007 3:17 PM Edwards will end the corruption in Washington by holding his administration to a higher standard by banning corporate lobbyists from serving in an Edwards White House Washington, Iowa – Today, Senator John Edwards said that he will ban anyone who has worked as a corporate lobbyist or has lobbied for a foreign government from working in an Edwards Administration. Edwards is proud to be the only presidential candidate who has never taken a dime from any Political Action Committee or Washington lobbyist, because he's determined to be a voice for regular families like the ones he grew up with. "I want to make an announcement today," Edwards said at an event in Washington, Iowa. "No corporate lobbyists or anyone who has lobbied for a foreign government will work in my White House. We will not replace corporate Republicans with corporate Democrats. I hear people argue that the way that you can get things done is to sit at a table with drug companies, insurance companies, oil companies, and negotiate with them and somehow they will voluntarily give away their power. I think this is a complete fantasy. "I am proud of the fact that I have never taken money from a Washington lobbyist or a special interest PAC my whole time in public life," Edwards continued. "I don't think you can bring about change by taking their money or sitting down at a table and trying to make a deal with them. I think if that worked, we would have universal health care, we would be attacking global warming, we'd have a trade policy that makes sense, and we'd have a tax policy that makes sense. I don't think these people will give up anything without a fight – they've been there too long and they have billions of dollars at stake." In August, Edwards challenged Senator Clinton and the other presidential candidates to join him in demanding the Democratic Party lead the way to real reform by refusing, as a party, to take campaign contributions from Washington lobbyists. And in October, Edwards unveiled his "One Democracy Initiative" to return the power in Washington to regular people and end the unique power of lobbyists. Edwards called for prohibiting all candidates and federal office holders from accepting contributions from lobbyists and prohibiting federal lobbyists from acting as bundlers for federal candidates. As president, he will limit the ability of lobbyists to secure lucrative earmarks by enacting a Constitutional version of the line-item veto, where the president can require an up or down vote on special-interest spending. He also proposed curbing lobbyists' influence by increasing disclosure requirements for lobbyist activity and by prohibiting government executives from accepting gifts and travel from lobbyists and their employers. Edwards "One Democracy Initiative" also called for closing the revolving door between Capitol Hill and K Street by reinstating the five-year ban on lobbying by former top government officials. Edwards' new proposal today builds on this by banning any former corporate or foreign government lobbyist from serving in an Edwards Administration. Over the past few administrations, influencing our government has grown into a big business that employs a mass of lobbyists and lawyers. Lobbying expenditures totaled $5.1 billion during the last Congress. The number of Washington lobbyists has tripled in the past 10 years to almost 36,000—more than 60 for every member of Congress. Edwards believes it's time to end this permanent government and go back to a Jeffersonian model of public service. He believes there are plenty of skilled, honest and talented people from across our nation who will come to Washington to serve their country for four or eight years.

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Fred Thompson is a Bigot

Apparently, for Fred Thompson, the most important criteria for President is whether the candidate has a penis. I would argue that a brain is more important and that since Thompson has neither, he should get out of the race now before his fast-fading campaign becomes even more of an embarrassment to his Party.

Yesterday, in the context of his remarks about Bhutto's brutal assassination, no less, Thompson observed that no women in America is up to the job of being President. No, no, this was not a slip of the tongue: he has repeated this stunningly sexist opinion twice this week, and that indicates that he is tossing out red meat for his Party faithful. Earlier this month, when Thompson was asked to name his "favorite possession," he glibly replied, "trophy wife." And yet, he continues to poll in double digits among Republicans. Amazing, really.

I can promise you this: a Democratic candidate for President who thought that it was all in good fun to refer to his wife as a "possession" or a "trophy" or who announced that women are unqualified for the nation's highest office, would have zero chance of getting elected dog catcher much less getting the Party's nomination for President. Yet, I haven't heard any Republicans-even the women-banging on podiums to disavow Thompson's remarks, have you? And there in lies the problem for the Republican Party.

There are a long list of reasons I support John Edwards in the Democratic primary, but Hillary Clinton's gender is not one of them. She, along with a long list of other women in this country, are infinitely more qualified to be President than a backwoods bigot from Tennessee who is so out of touch with mainstream America that he doesn't realize-or doesn't care-that he just royally pissed off more than half of the electorate. Fred needs to have his limo driver take him around back so he can jump in his faux-red pickup truck and drive himself back to Tennessee. Perhaps he can pick up his good friend Scooter Libby along the way.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Sad, Sad News

Just prior to her return to Pakistan, I remember watching a CNN interview with Benazir Bhutto. Then, in November, she wrote a foreboding commentary for CNN. I was struck by her intelligence, courage and resolve. She discussed her plans to return to Pakistan to challenge Musharraf and spoke candidly about the possibility that she could be assassinated or imprisoned. Now, this morning, this brave women has been assassinated, and twenty of her supporters were also killed when the shooter blew himself up. To her supporters, who stood outside the hospital chanting "Musharraf, dog, Musharraf, dog," there seems to be no doubt who is responsible. She did not have to return to Pakistan. She did not have to challenge the corrupt Musharraf. She did not have to take the risk, but she did. If politicians in the U.S. faced this sort of threat, I wonder how many would have the courage to continue?

This is so, so very sad.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Eve-Mail

An email suggesting that Vernon Jones might switch from the senate race to a congressional race against Hank Johnson dropped in my box on Christmas Eve. Perhaps if Jones does this, then Jim Martin will see it as a sign that the time has come to jump in the race. Come on, Jim, we need you!

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

I Wouldn't Do This for Just Anybody

Six degrees. No, not "Six Degrees of John Edwards." Just plain old six degrees. That's the project low in Des Moines on January 1st. From January 1st through caucus day on the 3rd, the low each day is expected to be in the single digits (a toasty 4 degrees on caucus day). Did I mention that I really, really don't like cold weather, that despite growing up in the mountains, I am fully acclimated to the occasional 75 degree December day in Georgia? And, yet, a week from today, Daryl and I will be in Des Moines, joining an army of Edwards supporters from all over the country. In Iowa, where Edwards, Clinton and Obama are locked in a tight three-way race, boots on the ground make a difference. We wouldn't do this for just anybody, but we're doing it for John and Elizabeth Edwards-two of the finest people we know.

The highest temperature we expect to see is a balmy 22 degrees, on New Years Day. Yet, a couple hundred thousand or so Iowans will brave the cold and come out to one of the 1784 precincts to caucus. I have enormous respect for them, and we're going to Iowa to do whatever we can to help Edwards' supporters caucus. Look for reports from the field here, and video.(Santa left a brand new video camera under the tree.)

On the democratic side, caucusing bears little resemblance to primary voting. There's no "early caucusing" or "absentee caucusing." You have to actually show up, at a particular place, at a particular time. And, forget the privacy voting booths: it's more like neighbors getting together for coffee, discussing political issues and, incidentally, picking a presidential candidate. Iowans, after a sometimes lengthy discussion of issues and candidates, literally walk to the corner of the room, or in some cases the room of the house, designated for the candidate of their choice. For the tally, forget touch screens, punch cards or optical scans: they simply count noses. There are no hanging chads in Iowa, mind you. Finally, if your candidate of choice doesn't meet the viability threshold of 15% of those present at a particular precinct, then you'd better have a second choice in mind or be ready to go home. (Edwards is the first choice of most "second choicers, and this could prove pivotal on caucus night.) I suspect that there are very few "casual caucusers," and, again, this benefits Edwards. More of his supporters tend to be people who have actually caucused before, while both Clinton and Obama are relying heavily on first time caucus goers.

Determining the "winner" on the democratic side can require a calculator and a crystal ball. Caucus goers actually select delegates to a county convention who select delegates to a state convention who select the delegates to the national convention. For more detail on how the process works, check here.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

John Edwards Wins Straw Poll

At a recent meeting, the Muscogee County Democratic Party took an informal straw poll in the presidential race, and the winner was John Edwards. Why does that matter? According to the AJC, Muscogee County Democrats have an uncanny ability to pick winners. Here's what Frank Myers had to say about his support for Sen. Edwards:

Frank Myers, a Columbus attorney, said he's backing Edwards for a simple reason."Of the top-tier candidates, he has the best chance to win the general election," said Myers, 47. "Who is the Republicans' best candidate? It's Hillary Clinton." Those sentiments — the need to pick a candidate who can defeat the Republican nominee and that Clinton is too polarizing — were common at the social. "Hillary has great credentials," said Ross Marshall, 61, an advertising sales executive with Davis Broadcasting. "[But] she will energize the opposition like no one could." Marshall, too, is supporting Edwards.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Our House is Always Open...

On Christmas Eve, our house is always open. We enjoy the family and friends who drop by during the day. There's always a lot of laughter, a lot of people and a lot of food. We just finished making a very large dish of tiramisu', the dressing for the tomatoes and mozzarella and whatever else we could do in advance. It's a lot of fun, and since Christmas began with a young mother-to-be for whom there was no room in the inn, it seems like the right day of the year to open the door to our home. We're grateful that we can.

Really, this year, we have a whole lot to be thankful for. This time last year, my sister was recovering from very serious brain surgery. She was home from the hospital but doesn't remember us being there for Christmas last year. This year is different. She played the organ for her church this morning, and her son-in-law accompanied her on the violin. This year, no one in our family is in the hospital, and several scary diagnoses have in the end turned out well. Everyone has a job. Everyone has a place to live. Everyone is either doing what they love to do or has the opportunity to improve their situation. No one is mad or estranged from the family. And, I'm so aware that none of these things are something we've earned or somehow deserve-we're lucky, and keenly aware that this time next year, I could be writing a very different post, or none at all.

So, if you're in Macon tomorrow, our door is open. And, if not, we wish you a very, merry, Christmas!

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Visits to These Candidates' Websites Surge in November

Both Huckabee and Edwards experienced a huge growth in visits to their websites during the month of November, according to the NPR News Blog. Candidate Facetime Data reveals that visits to Huckabee's site increased 194% in November, while visits to Edwards' site spiked 181%.

This increased website traffic appears to parallel each of these candidates rise in the polls. Recently, for example, Sen. Edwards pulled within nine points of first place in South Carolina, and the polls continue to show a tight, three-way race in Iowa.

On a completely unrelated note, I see some remarkable similarities in the design of the Huckabee and Edwards sites, especially the sidebars.

There is an ongoing debate about the impact of the net on politics, so it will be interesting to see if these numbers reflect these candidates actual performance in the upcoming caucuses and primary.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

An Inside Look at the Edwards' Marriage

When I first read the horrid, vicious, lies about John Edwards, my reaction-even before I talked to the campaign-was have they ever met Elizabeth Edwards? Apparently, not.

Here's a great piece from Slate, with a look inside the Edwards' marriage, and an interesting perspective on "the house."

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

He Won't Back Down

They've taken their best shots, and John Edwards is still standing. Clinton has spent nearly nearly $15 million. She's brought in democratic heavy hitters like Madeleine Albright and, of course, Bill Clinton. Obama, too, has spent millions more than Edwards and brought none other than Oprah Winfrey to the fight. Yesterday, the InsiderAdvantage poll put Edwards back on top, and within hours, the smears and lies began. But, they haven't been able to make Edwards go away. It must be terribly frustrating.

John Edwards has done the one thing that voters most admire: he has simply stayed the course. He has remained strong and consistent, and that makes it easy for voters to believe him when he tells them that he will fight for them. He has an extraordinary field team in Iowa, and now, the Clinton campaign is saying that their internal numbers are showing an Edwards surge. One has to ask why the Clinton campaign would put out a release like this one in the Washington Post, "Clinton Advisers Point to Edwards Threat." They point to it because they know that John Edwards is poised to surprise everyone but himself (and perhaps Elizabeth) on January 3rd.

And that leads to this question:

Has Hillary Clinton conceded Iowa? For the last three weeks, her campaign has vacillated between attacking Obama and Edwards and predicting her loss in Iowa. Even Bill Clinton said it would be a miracle if she wins Iowa. Fifteen million. Bill Clinton. Madeleine Albright. Tom Harkin. Miracle. Wow. The thing is, Register endorsement not withstanding (they have endorsed the winner of the Iowa caucus exactly never), she's been in a free fall that shows no sign of relenting. And, if you're really fighting for your life in Iowa and New Hampshire, why do you send your #1 surrogate-Bill Clinton-to Georgia and North Carolina to raise money no less? Isn't that, like, the thing she needs the least? It looks like she's conceding Iowa and now trying to build a firewall with the 2/5 states, and that may be not just her best, but her only viable strategy.

Here's her problem: Lots of undecideds will make their ultimate decision not on policy but on the person-on who they'd rather have over for dinner. It's hard to imagine that visceral vote going to Hillary Clinton. Either Edwards or Obama are much more likely to get those dinner invitations. And, she knows it.

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Guest Post: Murphy "a Great Friend to Georgia Women"

Melita Easters writes about Speaker Tom Murphy...

While I often did not always agree with him politically, I had great respect for Speaker Tom Murphy as a person, political master and someone who treated others with dignity and respect. He always protected choice for women. He allowed the ERA to have a fair hearing at a time when it was hugely unpopular in Georgia. He stood up for Atlanta when it counted. He gave African Americans respect when they joined a legislature not yet ready to welcome them. He could be condescending at times to women, but he allowed them to be heard when their numbers in the legislature were small. He gave women a voice, though he never forgot to remind them when he chose that it was at his pleasure. He reminded men of the same thing. He appointed women to chair committees – not the most powerful committees and they were never in the smoke filled rooms of the important appropriations debates or the conference committees on important legislation, but he opened a door.

He had the great most loyalty to Wiley, who ran the house post office and God only knew the fury of anyone who ever criticized Wiley. I think his long-time driver Butch would have walked thru hell for “The Speaker.” And, Butch was a mirror of “The Speaker’s” own civility – treating all with respect as stood somewhere close to the office door, not hovering, but always close enough if needed.

The rest of his loyal staff loved him dearly and I think one can always judge a person by how well respected they are by those who see them in moments both public and private. I remember being in the chamber when they had the memorial service for his wife and how he teared up at a hymn. I think few had seen him cry in public before -- though it was in his later years a debate tactic he used to his best advantage. I also remember some sort of high school rule change which would have adversely affected his daughter’s champion debate team – you would have thought it was the beginning of a new world war. He won by the way.

One of my most cherished photos of my daughter Christina was when she was just over a year old and I was an associate producer for the lawmakers on GPB. We had her at the Capitol for about three hours and he allowed the obligatory photo – she was just a wee bit bigger than his gavel. He had a great capacity to wield the gavel and Roberts Rules with gruff authority and then walk over to the waiting line of legislators and pose sweetly with every page who served, with the hometown legislator as bookend for the photo which would then be published in the hometown paper. His photo with young people must be in more homes than anyone in modern Georgia history.

The thing that Jim Galloway’s masterfully written obit for the AJC forgot is that Bill Heath did defeat “The Speaker” in his “own” district, but only because in reapportionment he had allowed “his” district to include a whole bunch of new subdivisions and people who did not know him. In some ways his generosity contributed to that defeat.

He was a legend and a great friend to Georgia women although his gruff exterior might sometimes have seemed otherwise. Never forget that after all, he was the father of three daughters.

Happy holidays,

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Breaking: Edwards Grabs Iowa Lead

From Insider Advantage, a new poll shows that John Edwards has grabbed the lead in Iowa. Though the race remains very close, Edwards also has a significant lead among second choice voters-including significantly leading Hillary Clinton among female second choice voters.

Edward is peaking at the right time. Read more from Tom Baxter and Southern Political Report.

Edwards takes lead in InsiderAdvantage Iowa poll

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Time: What Edwards Has Going for Him in Iowa

In Time, Mark Halperin offers a compelling list of seventeen things John Edwards has going for him in Iowa (and he doesn't even mention the Georgia delegation that will be heading out there to do whatever we can to help Edwards win-not just the Iowa caucus, but ultimately the White House-that would be 18). As Halperin correctly notes, increasingly the numbers tell us that Edwards is the best general election bet for democrats. Here's the whole list, Halperin dubs "The Millworker's Dozen."

1. The endorsement of the First Lady of Iowa.
2. The support (some secret) of people close to Governor Culver.
3. Big Labor help being quietly marshaled by one of Iowa’s top Democratic operatives and by Edwards’ 2004 campaign manager.
4. A consistently confident, upbeat demeanor.
5. A re-tooled stump speech that has audiences rising up, and that is filled with
specifics of his agenda.
6. Caucus rules that work to the advantage of those with strong support in rural and blue collar areas.
7. Dedicated supporters who will likely turn out even if the weather is cold and
8. National trial lawyers who are going to do something (read: “everything”) to get their guy elected.
9. A popular, visible spouse.
10. More than enough money to be competitive.
11. Fearlessness.
12. A stronger work ethic than anyone in the race.
13. Perfect pitch in handling Clinton-Obama conflict.
14. A strong Des Moines Register debate perf.
15. New polling showing him as a strong general election candidate and some new boffo national media clips.
16. High favorables and strong second choice support.
17. Trained precinct captains in almost every precinct – a true, old-fashioned organization.

Imagine that. A truly grassroots campaign fueled by a simple, populist message that is resonating with voters and packing his events: "I will fight for you."

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Iowa's First Lady Will Endorse...

Today at a rally in Des Moines, Iowa's First Lady, Mari Culver, who had originally planned to stay quite in the presidential race, will endorse John Edwards and begin joining him for events throughout Iowa-a state where the Culver family has deep roots. The is great news for Edwards. In 2004, Culver's predecessor, Christie Vilsack, endorsed John Kerry just weeks before he won the Iowa caucuses.

In making her endorsement, Culver has this to say about Edwards:

"I think John is a winner. He's electable," she said. "He's been tested.
He's been on the national ticket before. The national polls show him beating all
Republicans in the general elections. He inspires me. I think he inspires other
Iowans, and I think he can really rally Americans in the fall."

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Huckabee Tapes

What is it with Republicans and tapes? What ever it is, Mike Huckbee seems to have mastered the art of losing or erasing what he doesn't want the public to see.

Huckabee, who is now ahead in Iowa, is an ordained Southern Baptist minister who pastored churches in Arkansas for twelve years. In 1989, at age 34, he became the youngest person to ever serve as President of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention-despite having dropped out of Southwestern Seminary after just one year. It seems that this seminary-the same one that wanted my husband to sign in order for me to enter the M.Div. program in 1985-was becoming a bastion of liberalism. Right.

Yet, despite his fame and success as a minister, according to Mother Jones, neither the churches where he served nor his campaign can manage to provide tapes of his sermons. Imagine that.

From what we do know of Huckabee's public statements during this period, it is clear that the content of his sermons might prove tough for a presidential candidate to defend-especially when it comes to the role of religion in government and rights of women.

You see, the twelve years period when Huckabee pastored coincided with the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention, and beginning in 1984, the Convention passed a series of resolutions designed to exclude women from ordained ministry. Ultimately, in 1998, the SBC passed the "Family Amendment" advising women to "graciously submit" to their husbands. Personally, I'd like to know whether Huckabee was a messenger to any of the conventions where these resolutions were presented, and, if so, how did he vote? Did any of the churches he served ordain women to the ministry or as deacons? I think it's a fair question.

A 1998 article in Arkansas Online describes then Gov. Huckabee's startling statements to fellow Baptist ministers who were gathered for a meeting in, where else, Salt Lake City. I find this article compelling because it was written ten years ago before Huckabee planned a run for President. Here are a couple of truly scary quotes:

Huckabee also explained why he left pastoring for politics."I didn't get into politics because I thought government had a better answer. I got into politics because I knew government didn't have the real answers, that the real answers lie in accepting Jesus Christ into our lives."He compared his entry into politics to "getting inside the dragon's belly," adding,"There's not one thing we can do in those marbled halls and domed capitols that can equal what's done when Jesus touches the lives of a sinner."

The nation has descended gradually into crisis, Huckabee said, and repairing the damage needs to be gradual, too. He said the solution is simple: faith in Christ.

Strangly foreshadowing Huckabee's race with Romney, those who attended this 1998 meeting left with copies of Mormonism Unmasked by R. Philip Roberts. Let's just say it's not a flattering portrayal of Mormonism.

No wonder self-described Jesus-first conservatives are supporting Mike Huckabee. I'm with Elizabeth Edwards. This guy scares me.

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Jamming for Kids

Per Vic Jones...
So, how often do you have a chance to enjoy some great music, share some holiday cheer and support a great organization-all at the same time? If you're in Macon this Friday, you can do just that! But, get your tickets asap-they're flying out the door! H/T to John Griffin of Flat Broke Productions for putting all this together!
Macon Holiday Jam
A Benefit Concert for
Mentors Project of Bibb County
Cox Capitol Theatre

Friday Evening - December 21st
Tickets $15 In Advance
$20 At The Door

Chris Hicks
Paul Hornsby
Randall Bramblett
Shane Bridges
Scott Baston & News Architects
Matt Moncrief
Will Robinson
Nick Malloy
Kodac Harrison
Special Guests

Doors open at 6:30 Show starts at 7:00 pm
This will sell-out .... Get your tickets early!

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Friday, December 14, 2007

The Macon-Clinton Connection

Okay, by now you all know that Edwards has my support, but did you know that a Maconite is playing a key role in the Clinton campaign? Jay Carson, who has worked for Tom Daschle and Bill Clinton and is now press secretary to Hillary Clinton, is originally from Macon. Over at The Atlantic, Marc Ambinder has a caption contest that involves Jay. Check it out here.

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Take it Back

Wealthy special interests think they can decide who our next president will be, but together, we can take our government back. Today, the FEC ruled that the donations made by millions of Americans through ActBlue will not qualify for federal matching funds. Through the online clearing house, ActBlue, everyday Americans, like you and me, contributed nearly 4.5 million dollars to John Edwards-usually $10, $20 or $50 at a time. Now, big government Washington insiders are stepping on grassroots donors by refusing to qualify those contributions for federal match. There is no question that these contributions should be matched, but the FEC has said "no" to millions of Americans. But, you can say "yes."

Together, we can stand up to the special interests that control our government. Together, we can take it cack. Click here to accept the challenge.

There are just 20 days left until the Iowa caucuses, and momentum is shifting to John Edwards. His positive message of change is resonating with people in the critical early states of Iowa and New Hampshire. You can help deliver that positive message by clicking here to accept the challenge. As Joe Trippi said, "let's send a clear message to the FEC we're a new generation of grassroots activists -- and our commitment to the politics of change will not be denied." Click here to accept the challenge.

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While Clinton/Obama Spar, Edwards Shines

After the Des Moines Register debate today, the CNN focus group of undecided caucus goers voted John Edwards the clear winner of the debate, and, when asked which candidate they would now caucus for, Edwards topped the list. Even as advisers for Clinton and Obama continued to spar over who started throwing mud-mud that has today caused Clinton's national co-chair to resign-John Edwards is on message and on task, making a clear and convincing argument that he is the candidate who will fight for everyday working people. While the media yearns for a two-way race, John Edwards will not back down. In the coming days, as Clinton and Obama engage in a tug of war over kindergarten statements and teenage indiscretions, look for Edwards to stay positive. Here are just a few of the post-debate comments:

CNN Focus Group Declared Edwards the Winner. A CNN focus group of 23 undecided registered Democrats in Iowa who watched the debate declared John Edwards the winner of the debate. CNN’s Mary Snow: “Twenty-three registered Democrats came in here undecided. We asked them who they felt performed the best in this debate and they concluded they felt that John Edwards performed the best, with Senator Clinton right behind him. Now of course, this is unscientific, but also the other question posed to them. If the election were held today, who would you vote for? And in that question, John Edwards came in first, Senator Barack Obama second, and Senator Clinton came in third.” Those participating in the CNN dial group said they would vote for Edwards. “If you were going to vote today, for whom would you vote?”: Edwards 39%, Obama 26%, Clinton 22%. [CNN, 12/13/07]

CNN: Edwards’ Answer on Education Was One of Debate’s Strongest Moments. CNN’s Mary Snow: “Also when the candidates were talking about education, that really resonated with the people here in this room, 23 registered democrats who are undecided. Take a look at how they responded when John Edwards was talking about his education plans.” Video of Edwards: “We need to radically change No Child Left Behind. And if that doesn’t work, we should get rid of it.” Snow: “Those were two of the strongest moments.” [CNN, 12/13/07]

NBC's Chuck Todd: “Edwards Seemed To Do a Good Job of Talking to Iowans Specifically.” “Edwards seemed to do a good job of talking to Iowans specifically; he strikes me as being the John Edwards of late 2003; Could he be on a similar comeback trail that he experienced in '03 in Iowa? Time will tell.”

TIME’s Mark Halperin: Edwards “displayed with mechanized efficiency the same confidence and warm populism that he has nearly perfected on the campaign trail. Grade: A-”

CBS’ Vaughn Ververs: “If There Was a Winner, It May Have Been Edwards.” “If there was a winner, it may have been Edwards. His answers to almost every question hewed to his populist themes of sticking up for the disadvantaged and sticking it to corporate America. That should play well among Democrats in Iowa.”

Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza: “One of the Most Gifted (if Not the Most Gifted) Debater on Any Stage.”
“John Edwards (First 45 minutes): Edwards is, without question, one of the most gifted (if not the most gifted) debater on any stage. And, for the first 45 minutes of the debate his populist ‘us versus them’ message really hit home. ‘Corporate power and greed have literally taken over the government,’ he said at one point; ‘You have to be willing to fight....I have been fighting these people and winning my entire life,’ he said at another.”

Bleeding Heartland Blog: “Edwards Did Indeed Win the Debate.” Chris Woods wrote, “I'm going to argue that John Edwards did indeed win the debate. He articulated a coherent message that blamed corruption, greed, and entrenched interests for the problems America faces. He also clearly told viewers that the only way to enact the policies and proposals that the candidates have promised is to elect a president that will unite America to stand up and fight back against these people. His criticisms were constant, his answers honest, and his leadership potential was clear. He told us how he is fighting for the middle class, and how he's the candidate to truly enact change.”

Focus Group of Iowa Voters Declares Edwards the Winner.

Frank Luntz: “I want you to raise your hands if you walked in here with John Edwards as your first choice. One, two of you. How many of you thought John Edwards won the debate? [Majority of crowd raises hand.] What was it about John Edwards – you didn’t pick him – but what was it about John Edwards you thought stood out?”
“Very believable…He came in there with answers”: Democratic voter #1: “I had John Edwards coming in number three, and he was very believable, he didn’t beat around the bush, he talked about the strong interest groups that he’s been fighting for all the time, and he has a plan. He came in there with answers.”
“Refreshingly authentic…I was very moved”: Democratic voter #2: “I thought he was refreshingly authentic. I didn’t expect it and I was very moved by many of his words.”
“I was really moved”: Frank Luntz: “Susan, you weren’t an Edwards person when you walked in…” Democratic voter, Susan: “Edwards was my third choice when I walked in.” Luntz: “And yet you thought he won.” “He was concise, he got to the point, he answered the questions without beating around the bush, and I was really moved when he talked about how he has worked all his life like David v. Goliath. That impressed me.”
“He was my third choice, now he is my first”: Democratic voter #4: “That was my line exactly. Authenticity, number one. I think he would go after the corporations that are causing much of the trouble in the world today. He was my third choice, now he is my first.” [Fox News, 12/13/07]

Iowa Focus Group Gave Edwards’ Answers Two of Their Best Scores. Frank Luntz said about a focus group of Iowa voters watching the debate: “Well, the Democrats, and this has been consistent from when we started, the Democrats are happier with their candidates today than the Republicans were with their candidates yesterday, and so it's very tough to choose the top dial scores - John Edwards had two of them.”

Edwards’ Answer on Education Was a “Homerun, But It Goes Even Higher When He Gets Specific.” Luntz: “Remember that our yellow lines, our gold lines, those are [liberals], the blue lines are moderates – the higher the lines go the more favorable the reaction. Edwards had begun this clip talking about education and it was a homerun, but it goes even higher when he gets specific, let's take a look. [JRE answer] He is off the charts.”

“When He Is Talking About Health Care, Middle-Class Tax Cuts. ..These Lines, at Certain Points, They Can't Get Higher Than That.” Luntz: “When he is talking about health care, middle-class tax cuts. ..these lines, at certain points, they can't get higher than that. John Edwards also did a clip on education; let's roll that second clip. Again, it was not just the generalities and the principles. When Edwards talked about exactly what he was going to do, it scored as well as anything we have tested in the debates. [JRE answer] Once again, he’s off the charts. The Edwards language was very effective today on all these issues, because he had passion, he had focus, and as our participants said, he had a beginning, middle and an end. Very impressive.” [Fox News, 12/13/07]

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Bibb Dems Ready for Dancing With the Stars

Steve Allen and crew did a great job planning the Party's holiday party. The crowd was good, the food was good, and who knew that Bibb dems are headed for a gig on Dancing With the Stars? If the dance is the Electric Slide, that is....Yes, that is Bibb Clerk of Court, Dianne Brannen showing off her moves...

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Buzz: Which Candidates Win the "Likability" Battle?

When it comes down to brass tacks, people vote for the candidate they like.

Based on data gathered by Wonkosphere from political bloggers, both conservative and progressive bloggers find John Edwards to be the most likable democrat in the race for president. Among the republicans, the prize goes to Mike Huckabee who, like Edwards, topped the charts not just with conservative bloggers but with progressives as well.

It will come as a shock to many who spend time surfing the political blogsphere, but most Americans are just not tuned in to the presidential race and won't be until the bitter end. When they do tune in, about 80% of the time, they will make their choice with their gut, or so says Dr. Drew Westen, author of The Political Brain. What Westen refers to as "curb appeal" is hugely important, especially when it comes to attracting undecided and swing voters. You would think that democrats learned that lesson in 2004 when Bush won the presidency, not because he was the smarter candidate, not because he was a stronger leader, but because more people picked him as the guy they would rather have a beer with.

Here's what Kevin Dooley of Wonkosphere had to say about their research:

Amongst the leading Democratic candidates, John Edwards scored highest in
likability amongst liberal bloggers (96), followed closely by Barack Obama (88)
and Chris Dodd (88). Following Obama were Bill Richardson (73), Hillary Clinton
(58), Dennis Kucinich (31), Joe Biden (22), and Mike Gravel (8).
"There were also some interesting results concerning the cross-over buzz," said
Wonkosphere's Steve Corman. "Huckabee was the most-liked Republican to liberal bloggers (82), while they really have it in for Giuliani (14). Conversely, John
Edwards was the most liked Democrat to conservative bloggers, with likability
almost twice as high as all of the other Democrats."

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Macon City Councilwomen Lauren Benedict

Lots of folks who read this blog supported Lauren Benedict in her house race in 2006. You may not know that she was elected to Macon City Council this year, and those who supported her in the house race helped make it possible. She was sworn in Tuesday night. Congratulations, Lauren!

Here's photographic evidence:

Erick Erickson, Nancy White, Lauren Benedict

12/11/2007, Macon City Council

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

And Pro Tem is...

James Timley

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Here We Go!

The swearing is done and the voting is about to start.

Laurn Benedict just moved that the vote be taken role call fashion. There is a second. It passed.

Timley nominated Paris. No others.

The new president of Macon City Council is Miriam Paris.

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Blogging New Hope for Macon

I am at Macon City Hall where the new members of City Council will be sworn in at 6 PM. For the first time in a long time, hope abounds in Macon.

After the new members are sworn in the council will elect a president and president pro tem. Word is Paris and Timley, respectively, are a lock for for these posts. We shall see. Stay tuned.

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Wanna Win?

New polling today again shows that John Edwards is the Democrat who stands the best chance of actually winning the presidency in 2008. Even as Huckabee slipped into the lead in Georgia, John Edwards bests him nationally by 25 points, a bigger margin than either of the other front runners. CNN summarizes one of my key reasons for supporting Edwards:

"Edwards is the only Democrat who beats all four Republicans, and McCain is the only Republican who beats any of the three Democrats," Holland said. "Some might argue this shows that they are the most electable candidates in their respective parties."

No kidding. Democrats need to be asking a serious question: do we want to win the presidency in 2008, or would we rather be crying in a ballroom like we were in 2004-our hopes pinned on Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan? I don't know about you, but I don't care to repeat that experience. We have three supreme court justices on the line, plus Iraq, Iran, health care and the list goes on. We need choose the candidate who has the best chance of actually WINNING, and that's John Edwards-the candidate Republicans fear the most. Watch this clip:

This is why I have been working for Edwards. It's why I'm packing my suitcase and heading to Iowa for the caucus. This is why-I want to WIN next November.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

I Wish Jim Martin Would Run for Senate

I haven't talked to him, and I have no idea whether he is interested in the race, but I wish Jim Martin would run against Saxby. Why? These qualities could make Jim a formidable senate candidate:

  • statewide name recognition

  • a proven ability to raise money

  • military service

  • 18 years legislative experience

  • experience heading a state agency under both democratic and republican governors

  • married for 36 years, an elder in his church, virtually unimpeachable character

  • out-polled every non-incumbent democrat who ran statewide in 2006

He is the only person I can think of who has all of those attributes, so as I've thought about who might have a real shot at Saxby, Jim Martin is the name that keeps coming to mind.

When Jim ran for Lt. Governor in 2006, he was well-known in the metro-Atlanta area, but not as well-known statewide. He had a tough race, in a tough year, but in the process, he developed substantial positive name ID and garnered more votes than any other non-incumbent democrat who ran state-wide. He is well-loved by Georgia democrats. Wouldn't you love to see a debate on SCHIP between Jim and Saxby? Jim would be able to credibly challenge Saxby on health care, corruption and national security. And, if Jim ran, he would lift every other democrat on the ticket.

So, that's my Christmas wish-that Jim Martin would run for senate.

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Are They Really Pro-Life?

It's easy to puff about labeling a newly fertilized egg a "person," but if Georgia legislators are really serious about wanting babies have a chance at life, then they ought to be advocating for women's health care instead of trying to create loopholes for insurance companies. Why? Healthy women are less likely to have premature babies-babies who are at increased risk of early death and who come with a 26 billion dollar a year national price tag for services like prenatal care.

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, in the U.S., one in every eight babies is born prematurely and is at increased risk for many developmental disorders and health problems. In Georgia, more than 12% of babies are born too soon, earning the state a ranking of 32nd in the nation-nothing to brag about.

Healthy mothers-including mental health-are less likely to deliver before 37 weeks. Babies are more likely to be born healthy if we improve access to quality health care for women, especially for those at higher risk for preterm birth.

We hear so much about the "paramount right to life" from Georgia republicans (and a couple of democrats), but when it comes to making sure mothers have access to health care, their silence is deafening. It's easy to engage in political rhetoric and drive wedge issues onto the ballot. It's a whole lot harder to actually do something to help babies arrive healthy and remain healthy. It seems to me that these legislators are on board as long as we're just talking about sperm and eggs, fine as long as the baby lives inside the mother, but when they can look the person in the eye, their commitment to life diminishes. Are they really pro-life, or just pro-birth, no matter how early?

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

I Cannot Believe John Barrow Said This

John Barrow has been nipping on a little too much of the Blue Dog Kool-Aid. The latest issue of La Voz Latina is carrying a story about him with this headline: U.S. Congressman Wants to Ban Immigrant Children From Public Schools. In the article, John Newton reports that recently, when Barrow was speaking in Savannah, the congressman made it clear that he is opposed to any form of federal aid for undocumented workers-including emergency medical care and public school education for their children. In response to a question about whether he would support legislation to that end, Barrow reportedly said:

"Yes, sir," he replied. We already have legislation that denies Medicare and Medicaid benefits to people who have no right to be here. I believe it already is the policy of this federal government to require that a condition for getting
federal aid and education is that you have to be legally entitled to be here in the first place. That's the policy that I support."


"It is fair to point out that people who are here illegally have left an economy
where they had no medical benefits to begin with."

Even Mike Huckabee knows better than this. Even Huckabee successfully argued that you don't punish children for the sins of their parents.

Forget what's "right" here. From a purely practical perspective, doesn't Barrow understand that failure to provide basic medical care for children-regardless of how they came to be here-creates a public health problem for all of us? When children are not immunized or have communicable diseases that go untreated, we are all at greater risk.

And, does he not understand that failure to educate children-regardless of how they came to be here-creates a public safety problem for all of us? It is not as if we can pretend that these children are not here, so if they're not in school, what does Barrow think they'll be doing with their time? If they grow up unhealthy and illiterate, what impact does he think that will have on the quality of life in our communities?

Given that children who do not complete high school are incarcerated at a higher rate than others, unless Barrow also proposes that we withhold from the children of undocumented workers the privilege of appearing in juvenile court and becoming residents of the nearest jail, all he's doing is asking taxpayers to spend the most money possible in the least effective manner. That makes zero sense. Children should never become the front line in the battle to stop illegal immigration.

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Friday, December 07, 2007

Iowa Paper Endorses, Compares Edwards to JFK

Today, John Edwards scored. He got the endorsement of the Valley News Today. This is the first non-student newspaper endorsement of this cycle in Iowa. In making the endorsement, the editors said,

John Edwards is a family man who, if elected, will be the first president since John F. Kennedy to bring young children with him to the White House. And we think that’s a good thing. Each morning when he rises, he will have his children, Jack and Emma, to remind him how important each decision he makes really is to our future generations. Edwards isn’t afraid to speak out against the political machine that has corrupted our system for years and has pledged as a candidate to refuse contributions from Washington lobbyists – a personal decision that is an important first step towards true campaign finance reform. In an unusually strong field of contenders, Edwards is by far the least polarizing of the other top tier candidates and will clearly provide Democrats the best chance of defeating the Republicans next November.

I agree with all of that, in spades. This paper just articulated my top reasons for supporting Sen. Edwards. You can read the endorsement here.

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Oh, Good Lord

I hear things. Yesterday I heard that Mayor Ellis is having a luncheon at the City Club on Monday-his last day as Mayor. Some of the leaders in the local business community are invited, including folks from New Town, the Chamber and others. The purpose? To make sure his initiatives continue after he leaves office.

Speaking of his initiatives, how much is it going to cost to take his name off all the city limits signs?

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Come Party With Bibb County Democrats!

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The DPG Will Have Some Competition on JJ Night

While Georgia Democrats are welcoming our presidential candidates to the annual JJ Dinner, an estimated 20,000 Baptists will also descend on the World Congress Center for the opening session of the New Baptist Covenant Celebration. (Southern Baptists are not part of this group.) According to Robert Parham, at Ethics Daily, President Jimmy Carter is on the program-not for the DPG, but instead for the Baptists. I noticed on their website that there's an "Al Gore" luncheon the next day. Does that mean Gore will be in town, too? And here's the kicker, Mike Huckabee was initially also confirmed for the evening of the 3oth, but withdrew after Carter said that Bush would go down as one of the worst presidents in history. Now, Parham is advocating re-inviting Huckabee. Wouldn't that be a kick? 20,000 Baptists, a whole bunch of democrats, Carter, Huckabee, most of the democratic presidential candidates, Cleland and Lewis-all at the World Congress Center on Jan. 30th.

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No Surprise

Part of the Speaker's tax plan will first be introduced in the senate. By targeting schools, Richardson has created and ally in Eric Johnson. We have our work cut out for us, but since this is a constitutional amendment, if senate democrats will hang together Richardson will not be able to get the numbers he needs to pass the bill. It's up to us.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Clinton Jumps the Curb

Somebody call Homeland Security. The Body Snatchers have invaded Hillary Clinton's crack political staff. The real folks would've never let her to do what she did today. Apparently, in Clinton-land, John Edwards' questions about her vote on the Iran resolution are "outlandish political charges" but Obama's kindergarten ambition to become President is fair game. Is there someone who didn't want to be President in kindergarten? Is that really the most substantive thing she has to say about Obama?

Here's what she had to say about Edwards' comments on her Iran vote:

I understand politics, and I understand making outlandish political charges, but this really goes way too far," she said. "In fact, having designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, we've actually seen some changes in their behavior.

This statement, on the day after the NIE report was released telling us that Iran is not, in fact developing nuclear weapons, and has not been for years, is eerily similar to what President Bush had to say in his news conference. But, if her opponents, bring up her controversial vote, that's "outlandish."

It seems like Sen. Clinton has two sets of rules: rules for her, and then the rules for everybody else. These tactics are not going to help her in Iowa where democratic voters care very much about whether we end up at war with Iran, and care very little about what the candidates said in kindergarten. Here's an example of the backlash:

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Tossing Out Tiny Tim

Since we're in the holiday spirit around here... Congressman Jim Marshall has the opportunity to do something that will substantially help families in his district. Given, it's not quite as dramatic as flying over to Iraq for Thanksgiving, but about fourteen hundred families in the district who are facing foreclosure would be awfully grateful. All Marshall has to do is support HR 3609 (which you can find out about here). This bill would improve the 2005 Bankruptcy Bill by simply giving regular homeowners some of the same protections now reserved for the super-rich. That's only fair, right?

According to the Kos, the financial industry, that has dumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaign coffers of a few "Blue Dog" democrats, knew just who to call to lead the opposition to this legislation. Twenty Blue Dog Democrats, including Marshall, signed a letter in 2005 demanding the passage of the original Bankruptcy Bill. In Conservative or Just Plain Corrupt, David Seriota says:

Apparently, the Blue Dogs would have us believe conservative, working-class constituents are insisting their congressional representatives not only support bank foreclosures, but also help Wall Street barons rob the federal treasury.
Nonetheless, over the long term, those like the Blue Dogs will have an increasingly difficult time succeeding - both legislatively and electorally. The more they attach their "conservative" label to such obscene corruption, the more that label will be indelibly tarnished. Aiding loan sharks and tax cheats may elicit campaign donations and smiles in Washington, but it is no way to win hearts and minds in the rest of America.


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Buy Georgia for the Holidays

I'd been thinking about doing a "buy Georgia" post for the holidays, and tonight, twice, I heard this television commercial advertising "California Milk." No offense to the West Coasters in the room, but that seems a little far away to get your milk. I'd just as soon buy Georgia. When I was a child, milk came from Aunt Ellie's, and we stopped there and picked it up on the way home from school. It came from her cows-not California cows-and was packed in mason jars, pasteurized but not homogenized, and tasted nothing at all like that stuff you buy at the grocery these days, and I'd bet it was better for me. California milk-pshaw!

So, it seems like the right day for a Buy Georgia post.

Buying close to home is a win-win. We get to help Georgia's economy and enjoy great products. We have some great Georgia companies that offer good options for the holidays. The ones I'm about to list are some of my personal favorites, and they don't know I'm listing them. (As in, there are no advertising dollars involved here.)

Check these out, and send information about your favorite Georgia options for the holidays.

1. Sweetgrass Dairy: Fine, award winning, handcrafted cheeses from Thomasville, Georgia. You must try the Georgia Gouda. Gift boxes available.

2. River Street Sweets: Southern gourmet candy based in Savannah, Georgia. Those bear claws are wonderful! Gift boxes are available.

3. We're Nuts: Ellis Nuts in Vienna, Georgia is open 365 days a year. This is the place to get your pecans, peanuts and just about every other kind of nut!

4. White Oak Pastures: All natural, grass fed Georgia beef from Bluffton, Georgia. You can't order this, but you can buy it at Whole Foods and some Publix markets. Taste it one time, and you will not go back.

5. Crane Creek Vineyards: Excellent wines, from Young Harris, Georgia.

Those are just a few of my Georgia favorites. What about you?

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

If You Wondered What Saxby's Smokin'...

After looking at the FEC letter to Chambliss about possible excess contributions, and noticing the timely tobacco contribution in September, I wondered how much he takes from Big Tobacco. According to , from 1997 through August 7, 2007, $80,500.00, and that would not have included the $5,000 September contribution from Swisher. That's WAY more than anyone else in the Georgia delegation, about three times more than Johnny Isakson. In fact, it's one of the biggest hauls in the entire U.S. Senate. View the statistics, here.

GA (Georgia)
Chambliss, Saxby (R )

Isakson, Johnny (R )


Kingston, Jack (R )

Bishop, Sanford (D)

Westmoreland, Lynn (R )

Johnson, Henry (D)

Lewis, John (D)

Price, Tom (R)

Linder, John (R)

Marshall, Jim (D)

Deal, Nathan (R)

Broun, Paul (R )

Gingrey, Phil (R)

Barrow, John (D)

Scott, David (D)

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Saxby's Tobacco Money

No wonder Saxby voted "no" on SCHIP. He's deep in the pocket of the tobacco industry- perhaps a little too deep-and the FEC has asked for an explanation.

According the an FEC review of Chambliss' own filings, the Georgia Senator appears to have received a total of $9,500 from Swisher PAC, a tobacco product political action committee, including a contribution of $5,000 on September 13, 2007-squarely in the middle of the SCHIP fight. Coincidental, I'm sure. You will recall that the funding mechanism for the SCHIP bill was a tax on tobacco products.

(H.R. 976: Chambliss voted 'no' as the Senate passed the bill on August 2, 2007 and on September 27, 2007, he also voted 'no' twice more on related motions in the run up to the House attempt to override the President's veto. Click here for the full history of the bill.)

Chambliss has until December 17th to respond. His campaign denies receiving excess contributions.

According to Tom Crawford of Capitol Impact's Georgia Report, the excess contribution by Swisher is just one of eighteen contributions flagged by the FEC in Chambliss's 9/30/2007 disclosure report. The Chambliss campaign denies wrong doing, and told the Telegraph:

The Chambliss campaign says that's not the case, that it's a
routine matter of different people with the same names giving donations, and
donations needing to be "reattributed" to the general or primary election.

I'd like to know how may different people are named Swisher PAC, Pork PAC, and Employees of Northrop Grumman PAC. From Crawford, here's a summary of some of alleged excess contributions:

Gingrey for Congress: $4,000
Sen. Orrin Hatch election committee: $4,000
State Sen. Ross Tolleson: $3,000
Northrop Grumman PAC: $9,000
National Pork Producers Council, Pork PAC: $5,500
Swisher PAC (tobacco products company): $9,500
Paul Amos, AFLAC insurance executive: $4,600

You can read the FEC full letter to Sen. Chambliss' treasurer here. (PDF alert: click on the link, and then click "continue" on the page that appears. The seven page letter will load.)

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Hide Your Children and Your Silver: Richardson is at it Again

Glenn Richardson is perfectly happy to make your child into a lab rat. If the experiment doesn't work out so well, not to worry, he promises not to make your city and county follow suit. He won't be able to fix things for your child, but it's all for a good cause-shifting more of the tax burden to the middle class and giving Atlanta politicians control of funding for our neighborhood schools while creating a statewide voucher system for private schools. It's really a cool idea. Rich kids in private schools will get vouchers, and middle class families will pay for it.

Almost exactly as predicted, Glenn Richardson has narrowed his tax plan to target public funding of education, letting municipalities and counties off the hook-for now. He is also leaving medical services off the list of newly taxable items, thus possibly gutting well-funded opposition to the Glenntax. He is still imposing a sales tax on food and other services. Including private school tuition, Glenn?

Here's my favorite line from Galloway's article in today's AJC: "If there's not enough money we won't go on to the next level." Uhm, Glenn, how will you fix the mess you're about to create for schools? This is a constitutional amendment, actually, two constitutional amendments. You can't just twitter your little rat nose and change it back to the way it was.

This republican-led legislature has zero credibility on school funding. Why should we in Macon, for example, send our school tax money up the road to Atlanta and trust them to send it back? Where is the cost savings in that formula? I thought republicans were supposed to be all about local control, yet they now want to centralize education funding for all of Georgia in Atlanta. I don't know about you, but personally, I like the idea that the people who set the school budget live in my community and their children attend the public schools. There's a different kind of accountability that comes along with running into your constituents at the grocery or at the Little League game. I like the fact that they have to deal with all of us directly. They have to look us in the eye. Atlanta politicians, not so much.

I'm hearing that the cities and the counties are not yet abandoning the schools systems, but that the Georgia Chamber has gone quiet. This is going to be an expensive, difficult, high stakes fight, and I question whether the education lobby is up to the challenge. The agenda is to centralize education funding in Atlanta, so that a statewide voucher system is possible, and simultaneously reduce the tax burden for the richest Georgians.

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