Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gerald R. Ford (1913-2006)

America's 38th president, Gerald R. Ford (R) has passed away at age 93. The sad news comes Tuesday night. Given his age and considerable health problems of the last few years, it shouldn't come as a shock. But the passing of a president always calls for a moment to reflect and to show some respect.
In the wake of bribery and tax evasion charges, President Nixon's first vice president was forced to resign. He tapped Ford to step in largely because of his reputation for decency. And of course, when President Nixon resigned over the Watergate scandal in 1974, it fell to then appointed-President Ford to clean up the mess. Throw in the after affects of the Vietnam War, and he had quite a job on his hands.
In one of the more extraordinary post-presidential friendships, President Ford had a great working relationship with the man that defeated him for the presidency in 1976, Jimmy Carter. The two served on boards and commissions together. And they each participated in numerous studies and talks presented by the presidential libraries of both men.
As the first line of President Carter's ignaugural address said, thank you, President Ford, "for all you have done to heal our land."

Friday, December 15, 2006

Bush Suspends Executions in Florida After Botched Injection

The AJC's Ron Word has a horrifying account of the botched execution by lethal injection of Angel Nieves Diaz in the state of Florida and the resulting suspension by Gov. Jeb Bush.

When the procedure is done correctly, it normally takes about 15 minutes with the condemned unconscious at least by the 3 to 5 minute mark. But according to Word's article, this execution took 34 minutes. Witnesses said that Diaz was moving, blinking, licking his lips, and looked to be trying to say something at the 24 minute mark. He also had burn marks in his arms where the needles were inserted.

This is terrible. And this should never happen in the greatest nation in the world. Gov. Bush did the right thing in supsending executions until further notice. This will definitely be another black mark on our country's record of executing people.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Hoop Dawgs vs. Gonzaga @ Gwinnett Center Saturday

North metro Dawgs and Gwinnettians in particular should check out the 2006-2007 version of the University of Georgia mens basketball team this Saturday as they take on nationally ranked Gonzaga University at the Gwinnett Center.

ATHENS, Ga. --- Remaining tickets for the Georgia vs. #16 Gonzaga basketball game this Saturday in Duluth at The Arena at Gwinnett Center can be purchased online here and by calling Ticketmaster at (404)-249-6400. The Arena at Gwinnett Center Box Office is open between 9:00am-5:00pm on Thursday and Friday and beginning at Noon on the day of the game.

Reserved seat tickets are $15 each and group rates are also available by calling 770-813-7681. GA Student tickets are $5 each and will be on sale beginning at Noon on the day of the game at The Arena at Gwinnett Center Box Office. UGA Students must present their UGA ID when buying their tickets. UGA Students may purchase one student ticket per ID and may carry up to four ID cards.

The Arena at Gwinnett Center doors will open at 4:00pm with tip-off set for 5:00pm.

UGA has added more quality depth to the roster and its showing on the court. The exciting freshman Takais Brown (pictured upper right) is a lot of fun to watch. And he should shore up a big hole in the post that has been troubling the Dawgs for the last several years. He's definitely a big part of the reason why this will be Coach Felton's best team yet.
Go Dawgs!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Sierra Club of GA Hosts Atlanta Screening of "An Inconvenient Truth"

From the website:

An Inconvenient Truth and "Convenient Solutions" - Dec 13

Dec 1, 2006 --

What: FREE screening of An Inconvenient Truth
When: Wednesday, Dec 13, 2006 6:30-9pm.
Where: The Temple, 1589 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta. Please come to the FREE Sierra Club screening of An Inconvenient Truth on Wednesday, Dec 13, 6:30-9pm, at the Temple in Atlanta.

This critically acclaimed movie offers bracing facts and sobering predictions on global warming as well as practical solutions for ourselves and our elected officials.

The Sierra Club is hosting a free screening of this film in Atlanta at the Temple with a "Convenient Solutions" panel afterwards for attendees to ask questions and find out more about local efforts. We are trying to pack the house for the event (The Temple holds over 500 people) and are encouraging folks to bring with them a friend who might haves doubts or questions about global warming.

Too often our organization is just preaching to the choir—there are plenty of our friends and neighbors out there who don't have all the facts straight, invite them to come hear the facts and ask tough questions of our diverse panel.

Healthy, hearty refreshments and information booths before the film; Q-and-A with diverse, expert panelists after the film.

RSVP to or call 404-607-1262 x229.

If you haven't seen it already, make plans to see it and take part in the discussion following the movie. I consider this to be a great contribution to the world from Al Gore.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

MARTA to Gwinnett?

In this morning's paper, the AJC's Paul Donsky and Ben Smith are taking another look at Marta rail for Gwinnett County. They report that Bruce Le'Vell, Gwinnett's rep. on the MARTA board, has asked MARTA to commission a study to explore expanding MARTA rail lines into Gwinnett. Gwinnett Village CID has agreed to help pay the costs for the study.

This comes 16 years after Gwinnett voters soundly rejected the idea via referendum. But as the writers point out, Gwinnett's population has doubled since then. The demographics are changing. It's needs are changing. And frankly I-85 through Gwinnett during peak traffic periods is a nightmare.

When discussing rail transit, one of the main arguments against is always that metro area drivers will never give up the convenience of their automobiles. But, more and more, Gwinnettians are finding that working their way into downtown in the mornings and back in the afternoons is anything but "convenient." In fact, I pass by the park-n-rides at Discover Mills Mall and on Buford Hwy at I-985 all the time and those lots are always full. So quite a few Gwinnettians have already divorced themselves from their personal vehicles. Give them more reasons to do so and I suspect more will do the same.

Transportation is another critical issue affecting Georgians from north to south that was virtually ignored in the general election this year. Our "leaders" failed to lead us into any meaningful discussion. But it's also an issue that has a trickle down effect with an impact on our environmental situation and the very quality of our lives.

Lets hope that if this ever comes to a vote, the people of Gwinnett won't make the same mistake twice. Had there been a little more vision and foresight from leaders who stood against the referendum in 1990, perhaps some of our current problems could have been alleviated.

Well done, Bruce.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Remember to Vote Today

Remember to cast your runoff ballot today. I can almost promise you that you won't face any lines today. With such a low voter turnout, that means that almost anything can happen in the races that you're interested in. So make sure that you make one more effort to support the candidates of your choice.

For me, it was David Burgess (D) for Public Service Commissioner.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Sen. Thompson and Wife Sascha Makes National News

The odd story of the federal government trying to deport the wife of Georgia State Senator Curt Thompson (D - Norcross) made the Sunday's New York Times. Sascha Herrera, originally from Columbia, missed an immigration hearing back in 2005 because the notice and other case related documents were sent to an incorrect address. She married Sen. Thompson, a strong proponent of the rights of immigrants, earlier this year.

Because Sascha married a U.S. citizen, she should be allowed to stay here. But because the missed hearing occurred before the marriage, the government is taking the inflexible stance that she should be deported. If she is deported, it might be ten years before she could re-enter the United States.

Observers of this case and other immigration cases call the system "byzantine" and difficult to deal with. Perhaps fellow State Senator Sam Zamarripa said it best:

“It’s a very, very onerous system,” said State Senator Sam Zamarripa, a Democrat who was the first Hispanic elected to the Georgia Senate. “If the wife of a state senator can’t handle it, how can we expect people who are working in our labor force to handle the bureaucracy?”

“This is going to take a U.S. congressman or a senator to step in,” Mr. Zamarripa said. “To say, let’s wait a minute. Let’s think about this. This is a good person who deserves to be in this country.”

Sen. Thompson also says that his wife is a victim of a "notorio" that claimed he could do more for her than he actually could. He charged her $1300.00 for his "services."

In the state of Georgia, notaries public are little more than a glorified witness to signatures. There is little else they can do. Contrast this with other states, such as Florida, where notaries can actually perform marriage services.

Sen. Thompson has been a wonderful, truly progressive force in the state senate. He has a bright future in Georgia politics if he wants it. I can't say that I know his wife, Sascha. But Curt has a reputation for associating himself only with good people. Of all the things for INS to be worried about, I feel sure that Sascha Herrera is the very least among them.

It would be highly appropriate for officials, both Democrat and Republican, to step in and help the Thompsons. Hopefully there will a quick, reasonable resolution to this matter shortly.

60 Years Ago this Week: The Winecoff Hotel Fire

All Americans remember the date December 7th as a "day of infamy" because of the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor, HI in 1941 that brought the United States into WWII. But in Georgia, December 7th is a day of tragedy for an additional reason.

This week, the AJC looks back at America's deadliest hotel fire, the Winecoff Hotel fire of December 7, 1946, beginning with this article by Cynthia Daniels. The Atlanta, Georgia hotel, built in 1913, was advertised as "fireproof."

In an almost Titanic-like scenerio, the supposedly "fireproof" building didn't have a sprinkler system or even fire escapes. Like the doomed ocean liner, the Winecoff tragedy would bring about sweeping changes in building safety codes.

Unfortunately, on the night of the fire, the Winecoff was filled to capacity. At least 116 people were known to have lost their lives because of the fire. From 1946 to 1971, the Winecoff Hotel fire was actually known as the world's deadliest hotel fire. The origin of the fire is still a debated topic today.

Amongst the victims were members of state high school Y Clubs. In fact, my high school has a memorial plaque on campus for several victims from my hometown. I'm sure there are similar markers in other schools around the state.

The event, the ensuing investigations, and changes in safety codes that followed inspired the book, "The Winecoff Fire: The Untold Story of America's Deadliest Hotel Fire," by Sam Heys and Allen B. Goodwin. A documentary, "Peachtree Burning," was also made.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Carter "hasn't given up" on Gore

No, I'm not ready to endorse anyone for President in 2008 yet. But it's not too early to start sizing up the potential candidates. As I've said before, I'm "wide open" and willing to consider almost all of the major Democratic names being mentioned.
There's lots of talk about Barrack Obama, John Kerry, Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, General Wesley Clark, N.C. Senator John Edwards, Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, of course, Hillary, and our own Tina's favorite, Delaware Senator Joe Biden. There are others as well. But I think the eventual nominee will likely come from this group. Each of these potential candidates already have a lot of name recognition and support from admirers.
Meanwhile, according to, former President Jimmy Carter wants Al Gore to run for president again in 2008. Retreads usually aren't very popular, nor are they very successful. But there are many still in this country who feel that Gore was wronged in 2000. That doesn't automatically equal up to some huge advantage for him. But we do know that Gore captured the popular vote in the infamous year of 2000. That should probably mean something looking at the viability of candidates.
President Carter's public wishes reminds me of the fact that both Carters are closer to the Gores than they ever were to the Clintons. If you'll remember, the Clintons sometimes snubbed the Carters, whom they wished to distance themselves from, following the 1992 election. This lead to an awkward period between the two men and Carter's declined invitation to attend the 1996 Democratic National Convention.
The ruffled feathers seem to have subsided, especially after Clinton awarded both Carters the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2000. But I wouldn't look for an endorsement of Hillary for the Democratic nomination from the Carters, including Rosalynn, who openly has stated she wants to see a female president elected during her lifetime.
This should make for an interesting process as it unfolds over the next year and a half.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Day the Roses Died

Thomasville, the lovely "Rose City," was somewhat defamed as our illustrious Vice President Cheney made a visit. Reportedly, he stayed at a nearby hunting lodge. Hope no one was shot this time.........

A real man of the people, customers were asked to leave as Mr. Cheney needed to do some shopping at Kevin's of Thomasville. Of my many visits to this picturesque little town in southwest Georgia, I don't remember Kevin's.

I do remember the quaint historic downtown area with brick streets, a great barbeque restaurant called Fallon's, all the beautiful, but pricey antique shops, and the Pool Room, home of the best chilli dogs in the world.

Adorning a wall in this old hangout is a newspaper article about a man who once rode his bicycle all the way from Alabama just to eat a Pool Room hotdog. On any afternoon, you can still see older women lining up at the curb side window outside ordering their dogs. You see, a few decades ago, it wasn't "ladylike" for a woman to enter an establishment such as the Pool Room. So women ordered from the outside window. My mother, who is in her 70's, still observes tradition and doesn't dare set foot inside the place. She says if she did, she would feel a thousand disapproving looks from past generations of women who just wouldn't find that proper.

Celebrities like Thomasville native, Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman frequently make trips to Thomasville, especially during the spring time Rose Festival. Jacqueline Kennedy used to vacation in seclusion at a nearby plantation.

Such a lovely history for a lovely town. But just knowing that Dick Cheney has spent the night there makes me think the city council will need to spend a little money fumigating and cleaning up whatever residue that slug left behind.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Baptist Preacher Says Homosexuality Is Determined at Birth

Yesterday morning, as I was making my rounds, I let the scan button find WSB to listen to Boortz. This is something that isn't always a healthy exercise for me and my "bleeding heart" ways. But sometimes he can appeal to the pint-sized Libertarian inside of me.

But I'll tell you this. I was thankful that he called our attention to a USA Today article by Oliver "Buzz" Thomas, a Baptist minister. Thomas is the author of a yet to be released book titled, "10 Things Your Minister Wants to Tell You: But He Needs the Job."

One of his top 10 things he wants to tell us is this:

"Despite what you might have read, heard or been taught throughout your churchgoing life, homosexuality is, in fact, determined at birth and is not to be condemned by God's followers."

The minister then backs his argument up for Christian fundamentalists with their own medicine: The Bible. WWJD: What would Jesus do indeed?

Thank you, Buzz. I'd love to hear what else you have to say on this topic and others. I have a feeling that I'll be giving your book to a few of my fellow Baptists as gifts. I love the title of the book. Because it sounds like a little comeupance for some sanctimonious folks that richly deserve it.

Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, Happy Easter.........all rolled into one. ;-)

I wish GA Senator Curt Thompson was my senator

The Dekalb Young Democrats and Atlanta Public Affairs both have noticed Georgia State Senator Curt Thompson's great piece in the AJC yesterday about why Democrats continue to lose the biggest statewide races. It all boils down to the fact that we're not offering voters an "investment" in the betterment of their lives.

I let Curt recruit me to phone bank (I HATE phone banking) this summer for the Cathy Cox campaign. This is a testament to both his persuasiveness and the respect that I have for him and his record. The man also has to be the most "plugged in" guy I've ever personally observed. His simultaneous use of his laptop, blackberry, and his cell phone left me startled. Check out his "virtual office" here.

If you haven't done so already, give his editorial a read as well as the excellent commentary I've linked for you.

Gwinnett Loses Wine South, Religious Fundamentalists Suspected

For the last 3 years, one of my favorite things to do in Gwinnett County has been to attend the Wine South wine festival at the Gwinnett Center. For the last 5 years, the event has attracted hundreds of vendors from all over the world, thousands of wine enthusiasts and novices, and brought in a cool million per year for the local economy.

So with much chagrin, I read Bill Osinski's AJC article this morning saying the the wine festival will be moving to downtown Atlanta. The fact that it will be downtown isn't such a big deal. But for a county that is amongst the nation's fastest growing, and for one that is supposed to offer such a great quality of life for suburbanites, this is disappointing news to say the least. Especially when you hear the suspected reasons that founder and fellow Gwinnettian, Dan Thompson, offered:

For example, he said, the permit fees for the 40 or so area restaurants that operated sampling booths have more than doubled in the past three years, from $55 per restaurant to $120.

Also, the county imposed burdensome requirements for portable hand-washing stations for food handlers, then backed down one year, only to reimpose them the next, he said. The banquet halls used for the event already had more adequate restrooms for hand-washing, he said.

And people who submitted winning bids on bottles of wine offered in a charity fund-raiser silent auction were not allowed to take their wine with them when they left the hall, he said. Instead, they were required to make arrangements to pick up the wine some time after the festival and somewhere other than the civic center.

"Jumping through all the hoops was just a nightmare," Thompson said. "We were treated like street vendors selling funnel cakes — maybe even worse."

Thompson said the wine-centered nature of the event might have conflicted with some religious or anti-alcohol sentiments of some people in Gwinnett.

It's not as if Wine South was some gigantic drunken frat party. It was a civilized gathering where vendors could showcase their inventory to grown adults who enjoy wine. If what Thompson says is true, I can't believe they were treated that way.

Along similar lines, Rocky from Rambles by Rock commented on reading in the Atlanta Business Chronicle that a group of business people were going to lobby the state legislature to legalize beer and wine sales on Sundays. The notion is already being opposed by some Republicans who continue to tip toe around their alliances with both the business community and right-wing religious zealots who are offended by what day of the week people buy their alcohol.

I'm guessing that the fundamentalists think they've earned a good mark in St. Peter's book by bringing down Wine South and protecting Georgia's archaic blue laws. I doubt it. Me thinks all they're doing is embarassing themselves and bringing down the rest of us with them.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Royksopp's "Remind Me"

Since I'm in a reflective mood................

I can't post the commerical via youtube at the moment because of the Blogger Beta situation, but I did find a copy of this Geico commercial with the great song that keeps running in my head. If you're like me and love it, you can click on this link to listen to the actual song, "Remind Me" by Royksopp. Scroll down to Melody A.M. to find it. Great song and great video too.

Back to Mayberry

Well, it's Thanksgiving week. For me, that means it's time for a trip to my hometown to see the home folks. Today, it has provided me with some selfish time to reflect. I think most all of us that grow up and move away feel some sort of conflict when they go home. For a while, it created a sense of dread for me. But I've pretty much gotten over that.

You see, on my way out of town I was "outed." In a small town, that never makes for the best of goodbyes. In fact, some people simply skipped the "goodbye" part altogether. But the experience did have a silver lining. It has shown me who has been a true friend and who probably never was. These days when I go home, I just act like nothing ever happened, which works about 99.9% of the time.

Still, memories of my time there are mostly good ones. Even when something bad happens, you can't forget all of the good. Especially the good people that, in some way, had an affect on you. And there are plenty of memories that are neither good nor bad. But sometimes they provide little clues as to why things turned out the way they did.

When I go home, I'm always faced with the question of whether or not to go to church on Sunday morning with my mother. It would make her happy. But it's definitely not a place that I feel 100% comfy at these days. For instance, if I did walk through those doors, I'd have to worry about whether or not the steeple would fall down and kills someone. Thankfully, my mother doesn't mention it to me. So I don't feel an absolute need to go with her.

Her church is the same church where in the mid 80's, Brother Arnett was giving us a sermon on the sins of sex. It was the usual garden variety sermon that reminds us of how awful sex outside of marriage is. And yes, it included a couple of gratuitious mentions of homosexuality. That was one of his favorite targets, of course.

But I'll never forget that on this particular day, Brother Arnett's target was Tina Turner. I had just used up my allowance money by going down to Kmart and buying "Private Dancer." So I guess that's what made my ears perk up and pay attention. He railed against Tina's own "immoral acts" and her hit song's supposed encouragment of sex outside of marriage.

He bellowed and hollered. His face turned blood red. He wiped himself as he worked up a good lather. And as if to exclamate each individual word, he slammed his fist down on the pulpit repeatedly screaming, "It's got everything to do with it, Mrs. Turner!"

When we got home, my mother confiscated my new "Private Dancer" cassette. I suppose that it ended up in the same place that my Fleetwood Mac tapes had already ended up when my mother heard that Stevie Nicks was a witch - in the garbage can. Today, when I tease my mother about doing this, she claims that she doesn't remember anything of the sort. My mom and Tipper Gore would get along just fine.

Speaking of music, I notice that some bloggers like to tell you what song is currently in their head, like here and here. I like that you guys do that because it sometimes reminds me of songs I haven't heard in forever. In fact, I'd do it myself except that I would feel like a copycat.

People say that I have a very good memory. I don't know if that's true or not. I suspect it depends on the subject. But music is a way that I can remember things. Most any song that's ever made an impression on me as it came out, I can tell you what year it's from. Just because I associate a lot of memories with music.

For some reason the other day, I thought about the songs I was listening to when I had my two car accidents. An odd thought, huh? Especially when you're driving down the road. Karma, don't fail me now!

Anyway, my first wreck was when I was 17. It was Halloween eve in 1989. The girl I was seeing at the time, Kim, and I were driving back from a neighoring town where we were shopping. I had just bought Young MC's "Bust a Move." How appropriate!

As we were jamming down Hwy 84, I busted a move of my own. A dog run outs in front of the car on the 4 lane highway. I swerved to my left and hit the island on the driver's side. The car goes up on 2 wheels before spinning and out and coming to a rest with us facing the wrong direction.

Fortunately, no one else was on the road. I moved my car to the side and got out to survey the damage. But I already had that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I had not one, but two flat tires, both on the drivers side from the impact of hitting the island. But the best was yet to come!

Backing away from the car, I noticed something odd about my car. But I couldn't quite put my finger on the problem. I judged the car safe enough to drive to a pay phone to call the folks. Remember having to make a call like this?

Kim, who was previously shaking, was now given to fits of giggles. Since it wasn't her car and she wasn't driving, she was already able to see this as one of those incidents where we'll laugh about this later. I hadn't reached that point yet. It would take a few weeks for that.

Waiting for my dad to come, I inspected the underside of the car and found the inspriration for that knawing feeling I had. The impact with the island had done more than bust out two tires. It had also bent the frame of the car, which was not an easy fix. It was safe to assume that there would be consequences and reprecussions to come. And of course, that came true.

My second wreck was the same year. I skipped school that morning because my class was taking the ASVAB test. I had already taken it and scored about high as could be scored on it. So why take it again? Well, that was my explanation to my parents anyway.

As I was toodling casually down a residential street listening to the radio, I was thinking about what fast food joint to hit for lunch before going to school. Suddenly, I heard this loud screech and saw this car turn directly into my lane and hit me head on.

It seems that a certain legal secretary was late for work that morning. And since there wasn't much traffic on this side street, she made a rolling stop (to be kind) at the stop sign and lost control of her car as she turned.

It's true. You don't have to be going very fast to damage a car or someone. My head hit the steering wheel, cracking the wheel. My hand slipped upward from the wheel and hit the windshield so hard that I cracked it and put some tiny glass slivers in my fingers and knuckles. And my car was totalled. So was her's.

Instead of a song being on the radio, I heard something else as I slumped to my right. The local radio station's self ad jingle rang out, "W-J-A-Deeeeeeeee."

I didn't lose consciousness but I was leaning over stunned with my head level to the radio. To add insult to injury, my cigarette lighter pops out and hits me in my face. I don't know how this happened as I hadn't depressed the lighter to begin with.

But my musical memories aren't limited to car wrecks. Whenever I hear Nine Inch Nails' "Head Like a Hole," I am forced to remember being a junior in high school and thinking I had hit the big time when I was invited to hang out at a frat house in Valdosta.

I don't remember a lot from that paticular weekend. But I do remember the music blaring. And I was holding my beer, probably my 3rd or so (not much of a drinker) by this time, and pretending to smoke (wasn't a smoker) as I sat on the railing of a 2nd story balcony trying to act as if I belonged (I didn't). Some overgrown offensive lineman that could've swallowed me whole for a snack walked over to tell me and told me that I was "cool" and high five'd me. Sounds great, right? Wrong.

He accidentally high five'd me with such force (not that it would've taken a lot) that I flipped over backwards and landed on my back in the yard below. As Trent Reznor was telling me, "you're going to get what you deserve," I heard the door slamming as people ran out of the house and over my supine body to see if I was okay. Fotunately, it only knocked the breath out of me. Really cool, huh? Yeah right..........

At any rate, it's not all bad going home. So I'm not going to dread it when I head out on Wed. I'm just going to remember that all that happened there was just real life - the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Friday, November 17, 2006

PSC David Burgess Needs Your Help Dec. 5th

As much as I would like to simply put this year's elections behind me, a good friend of Georgia's, Public Service Commissioner David Burgess, needs our help.

This is from an email that he sent out to Democratic volunteers and supporters:

"And your work got me the most votes in the Public Service Commission race—even more than my well-funded Republican opponent. But the presence of a third candidate has forced a runoff election for December 5, 2006. So now I need you once more.

I am the lone Democrat on the Public Service Commission. Georgians have felt the pain of spiked natural gas and electric prices, and without the voice of Democrats, we will hand over the Public Service Commission to big natural gas and the power industry. If we learned anything from last year’s record natural gas prices, it’s that we must fight for every seat on the Public Service Commission. We owe it to our fellow Georgians."

David needs our vote and any other support that we can offer. Please consider doing so today. And please remember to cast your vote in the runoff election on Dec. 5th.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

So you wonder what its like in the Maricopa County Jail?

Sometimes its interesting just to hit the "next" button to see what random blog comes up to view. I did that today. And I found a blog written by a British citizen that is/was confined to the prison in Maricopa Co., Arizona.

You might remember Maricopa Co. and its hardline, old west sheriff, Joe Arpaio, "America's toughest sheriff." The sheriff likes to cut back on amenities at his jail and make prison as bad as it can be on its residents. He admitted as such; hell, he campaigned on it.

On the inmate's blog, I saw a link to an article that appeared in 2004 in The Guardian. The article contained portions of the inmate's diary account of his stay at the Maricopa Co. jail.

Here's an except:

April Fool's day

My cellmate Mark is stuck at the "unable-to-eat-the-jail-food" stage. Approximately three months ago, Mark suffered his first ever arrest, and he has shed 30lbs while in the hoosegow [jail]. His main source of sustenance is the inmate canteen order form, from which he mostly orders Cheez-its, chips (assorted), Granola bars and mixed nuts. Slimmed-down-Mark no longer resembles his booking photo, because he barely touches the jail offerings.

Prison inmates who get transferred to the jail joke about how luxurious prison food is vis-a-vis jail meals. (Jail is where unsentenced prisoners are housed and prison is where you go when you are sentenced.) In jail, chow is served twice each day. Breakfast arrives at 8.30am and consists of six slices of stale white bread (the probability of colourful mould growing on a slice is 33%), raw breakfast meat (the probability of it being bologna is 50%, green bologna is 25%), grapefruits or oranges collected during neighbourhood refuse clean-up campaigns (the probability of them being rotten is 50%), one packet of stale and bright orange-coloured, bordering on luminous, cheese crackers, and a beverage, which is a half-pint of fat-free milk.

The evening's below-lukewarm culinary delights consist of unsalted boiled potatoes (the probability of receiving a mound of potato peel encrusted with dirt is 25%; of human hair being discovered in the spuds is 25%), mystery meat slop (the probability of a dead rat in the stew is minimal, though I did see a rat's head served in 2002), a vegetable (the probability of leathery eggplant is 25%), a small, undressed salad, more stale bread and a cup of brightly coloured juice, which, if spilled, makes a permanent stain on the table. As I am a yoga-practising vegetarian, I receive peanut butter and veggie burgers as substitutes for the meat.

Now I know that he's an inmate. And I know he's not the most objective person to tell this story. But considering that Sheriff Arpaio has admitted to giving near rotten fruits and veggies to his inmates, I find the inmate's stories to be credible. And it's an example of some much needed prison reform.

This is the United States of America. How we treat our inmates and our prisoners of war does matter. Criminals must be punished. But they deserve all basic necessities including a clean, temperate place to stay and food that is reasonably fresh and nutritious.

Prisoners also deserve to be kept safe in prison, at least as safe as possible. And they should be entitled to social services such as medical, counseling and other rehabilitation techniques. Especially for those that will one day re-enter society.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Green, not brown!!

The proposed new coal plant in Early County in southwest Georgia has moved into the regulatory stage. This is the last chance to stop the state from building its first coal plant in 25 years. Environmental groups, including Environment Georgia, haven't given up the fight to block the plant.

In this Greg Bleustein AP article, proponents say that Georgia needs this plant in order to meet its growing energy needs. They also say that its cheaper to do it this way until green energy becomes more affordable.

Jobs are another angle they are taking. Early County has a high rate of poverty and the 100 new jobs created will help the local economy.

But what about the effects on the local citizenry as a whole? What about the effects on the environment? And what does this say about our commitment to make green energy more widespread as efficiently as possible, as soon as possible?

Bluestein points out the ugly side of the proposed Early County coal plant:

"But it also threatens an annual release of more than 10 tons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas linked to global warming, along with 6,400 pounds of smog-causing sulfur dioxide and 220 pounds of mercury."

Sounds lovely, doesn't it?

LS Power, the New Jersey based company that wants to build the coal plant, calls this a "bridge to the future." More likely, its a bridge from our wallet to their bank account. They will build the plant and then they're gone. They don't have to directly live with the consequences of having a coal plant in their backyard. It won't be their blue skies threatened with brown and black smack, dust, and waste. It won't be their lungs that will be filled with it. And it won't be their vital rivers and lakes that will see their mercury levels rise.

Unfortunately, it is true that its cheaper to build a coal plant than it is to build a solar energy station. But when you factor in other potential costs, such as health related costs, a coal plant doesn't seem like a good option either. Then there are the opportunity costs to help further a cause that will benefit future generations, and not just add on to the environmental nightmare that we're preparing for them.

"Ajeet Rohatgi, director of a Georgia Tech center that researches photovoltaics, said solar power production is expected to be as cheap as fossil fuel generation by 2050. He said it's up to state leaders to back incentives now to nurture the industry."

There are some who say that we're so far away from green energry and alternative fuels being dominant sources of energy. But as Rohatgi points out, we have to "nurture" transition. It won't happen over night. The longer we wait on things like this, the longer that "bridge" has to be.

Hopefully this plant will be stopped dead in its tracks along with the 150 or so other coal plants being built around the country. Otherwise, we're digging our graves and the graves of future generations that much deeper.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Back into the swing of things

It's been more than ten years since I've been involved with a tennis league or any kind of tennis competition. But I've joined a local group, and I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of things.
No one in my family played tennis until I came along. Then I watched the 1982 US Open final where Hana Mandlikova (pictured left), lost to Chris Evert. For some reason this south Georgia boy grew to love the Czech Mandlikova. Through the years I followed her ups and downs as a devoted fan. Hana would eventually win the US Open in 1985. She defeated both Evert and Martina Navratilova on successive days to win the crown jewel of her tennis accomplishments.
Hana was the female McEnroe in more than one sense. Like Mac, she was wildly talented and a brilliant shotmaker. She was also graceful and silky smooth. She and Mac both made the game look so easy. But also like Mac, Hana was prone to occasional temper tantrums. Sometimes it was because she struggled with English language. And sometimes it was simply because she hadn't learned the art of losing gracefully. Both maddening and thrilling, it was all a part of her charm.
Another similar player was the Frenchman, Henri Leconte (pictured above). He too was flashy and erratic. But like Hana, when he was good, he was very good. Each of these players made me want to learn how to play just by watching them. And I did.
I pounded he wall behind the house until my mom put a stop to it. But she and my dad decided to sign me up for lessons. From the age of 10 all the way through high school, I played in junior tournaments and was also a member of my junior high and high school tennis teams.
So now I'm back to practicing my serve, sharpening my volleys, and grooving my groundstrokes. Maybe the time away from tennis has dulled my competitive fire for the game. All I know is that right now, it feels so good just to hit the ball once again. But before long I'll be excited about matching strategic wits with an opponent.
In the last week, I have found that the old saying is true. Your footwork leaves you, but your hands never forget. So for the time being I'm going to stick with doubles and pump up my footwork. Besides, I love working toward a common goal with another human being.

Have you ever wanted to write a novel?

I'm just not good with reading or writing fiction. Probably 90% of what I read is nonfiction as in biographies, current events, as well as pyschological and political theory. Sounds kind of dull and serious right?

Well, I'd like to read more fiction. But I have a hard time getting into most. And I fancy myself as a good oral story teller. Yet somehow or another that just doesn't translate into writing anything artistic. It's not that I want it to be that way. It's just the way things are.

But NPR's website has a series of articles going on about authors of fiction and how they do what they do. It makes for good reading. So if you're someone who thinks she/he has a story inside just waiting to be told, check it out.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Due to Technical Difficulties

Hey folks, I just switched over to Blogger Beta. Not impressed. I'm glad that I at least waited until after the election to change over in case I ran into problems. So if you operate a blog via Blogger, may want to hold off a while longer.

My posts aren't going through to Lefty Blogs. I found a thread on their site with many trapped Blogger users reporting that they're lost in limbo. From the looks of things, they have been since early September.

So as I discover more glitches, I'll deal with them. If you run into anything, let me know.



A Bit of History Sails Through Atlanta

No, I'm not intentionally making a metaphor for the elections in Georgia held last Tuesday..................

But we are priviledged to have an exhibition on the R.M.S. Titanic visit Atlanta. It opens today and is being held at the Atlanta Civic Center. As someone who was excited to see lumps of coal recovered from the engine room of the ship, I'm definitely going to be viewing this exhibit.

According to this AJC article by Jim Auchmutey, there were a few Georgians or those with Georgia connections on that fateful voyage in 1912. Patricia Futrelle of Marietta shares some info. about a distant relative of her's that was on the ship.

I didn't realize that Isadore Strauss, the Macey's tycoon, actually grew up near Columbus. In one of the most moving stories involved with the Titanic, Mr. Strauss and his wife Ida perished aboard the ship. Ida could have claimed a spot in a lifeboat. But she refused to leave her husband's side. Instead, she chose to share her husband's fate.

The article is a good read. And this exhibition is sure to be a must see.

Reporters Without Borders' "13 Biggest Enemies of the Internet"

I haven't blogged on this topic yet. But it's something for all of us to be concerned about. In fact, this TomPaine.commonsense article at least partially credits the national Democrats' big wins to bloggers and their ability to share info. and express their opinions and interpretations of events.

Reporters Without Borders has listed their 13 biggest enemies of the internet. You'll see most of the usual suspects when it comes to censorship listed: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, China, etc. Lets stay vigilant so that the United States isn't added to this list any time soon.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

If 2006 were a fish, I'd throw it back

Well, I'm finally dry. But I'm still cold. In fact, I think I've come down with a cold. It was a long day and an end to an interesting year, if not altogether enjoyable. I liked being around campaigns again and feeling the urgency to help try to get a message out. But the results weren't what I'd hoped for.

I feel like Georgia Democrats shot themselves in the foot way too often all year long. We used to have an actual margin for error just a few short years ago. That's all gone now. We can't afford to help the Republicans. They're in complete control now.

I suppose I should be happy about our national success. But, at this very moment, it isn't comforting to me right now. I'll feel differently about it later. I think I"m just flat out tired.

On the major state races, congratulations to Justice Hunstein for not only fighting back, but for finishing the drill. She proved that she's still a fighter, something she's had to be her entire life. Also congratulations to "tough as nails" Thurbert Baker, Michael Thurmond, and Tommy Irvin. I regret not blogging more about Michael. He was a real team player for us this fall.

And I believe that congratulations are in order for Jim Martin. He stood his ground and ran as an actual, honest to God, Democrat. Jim might have gone down tonight. But at least he went down with his boots on. There's no shame in that.

Speaking of which, here's something I need to get off my chest:

This blog was born out of frustration from having one of our own calling people like me "too liberal for Georgia." So I need to move somewhere else? No, I don't think so. This is my state too.

I have went along to get along for the sake of "pragmatism" so many times in the belief that it would help good Democratic candidates advance our state. But in helping some of those candidates who don't truly represent me, some of my goals and dreams get left behind.

Compromise, rooted in reality, will always be necessary. It's politics after all. But, in the future, I'm going to be tougher on Democrats that take people like me for granted. My vote should be earned just like anyone else's. Future candidates, you have been warned.

Looks like there's nothing left to do tonight, but to do as I was taught to do as a boy. When you lose, you offer sincere congratulations to the other side and you wish them well. After all, we'll all be counting on them in the next 4 years.

I'm sure we'll have plenty of disagreements along the way. I just hope that my fears and suspicions about having a Republican Gov, Lt. Gov, Sec. of State, house, and senate are wrong. We'll see................

Monday, November 06, 2006

Casey Cagle Owes 11 Republicans an Apology

In the Lt. Governor debate taped on Friday and aired on WSB Sunday morning, Casey Cagle responded to questions about his suspect environmental record with an attack on the Sierra Club of Georgia. I guess Casey's mad because the Sierra Club found his record so deplorable that they put him at the top of their "Dirty Baker's Dozen" list.

In his attack on the club, to which I am a member of, he called them a "liberal" (surprise, surprise) organization designed to help Democrats. The problem with Casey's statement is that there are ELEVEN Republicans on the Sierra Club of Georgia's endorsement list for the 2006 general election. That's because the Sierra Club is not a partisan organization. It's only aim is to call public awareness to environmental issues facing all of us. But perhaps Casey thinks those 11 Republicans aren't really Republicans at all? How dare they make the environment a priority in their campaign?!!!

Also take into account the fact that the Sierra Club does not rubber stamp Democrats. For instance, this year, the committee elected not to make an endorsement for any candidate in the gubernatorial race.

I am not a spokesperson for either the endorsements committee (to which I do not belong) or the club itself. But I feel comfortable in saying that it doesn't play political games. And it caters to no party nor any candidate. An endorsement is earned based on the record of a candidate or the priority in which they place on our issues, not by their party affiliation.

So while Casey may not like the fact that the Sierra Club of Georgia exercised its right and its responsibility to its members to inform voters of his poor record, that doesn't mean that its claims about Casey's record aren't valid. Something tells me that the environment and those who care about it were not important enough to Casey to even seek the club's endorsement, nor the endorsement of any other environment group.

So what's the use of complaining? Because in doing so, he's also trying to invalidate the club's endorsement of 11 of his fellow Republicans.

Jim Martin and Casey Cagle Offer Different Futures

Bring up Jim's name to people and you'll almost always get a good response. Those that know his record and reputation always have good things to say about him. Even Republicans find it hard to say anything negative about him. That's because Jim Martin represents the kind of people that we want in public service. He's a dying breed that we just can't afford to lose. He graces us with his decency and integrity. And in a world where even the least cynical of us will doubt what our politicians say, you can take what Jim has to say to the bank.

Lately though, it seems that Casey Cagle and his supporters have had to come up with something bad to say about him. So they resort to using the "liberal" tag. C'mon Casey, that's almost too easy. Surely you can do better than that. When the best reason that you can use to tell the voters of Georgia not to vote for your opponent is "he's too liberal," what that really says is that you don't have any good reasons at all.

It's not about "liberal" or "conservative." It's about putting everyday, average Georgians first. It's about helping those in need. Not just with handouts and temporary solutions, but with effective policies that give everyone the same opportunities for permanent changes in order to enjoy a good quality of life. You know, do for everyone what Casey does for his friends in banking and big business.

And Jim has shown us during this election season how Georgia Democrats should campaign. Instead of playing to polls, he's showing Georgians how our values and our beliefs are in their best interests. It's all about starting with what we have in common and working our way down. The same Jim Martin that ran in the primary, is still the same Jim Martin that's running in the general election. That's an honest way of doing things that builds trust.

I don't hate Casey Cagle. But I don't think we should reward him with a step up. Upon his election as Georgia's next Lt. Governor, I can guarantee you one thing. You WILL see the Republican majority in the legislature restore powers previously held by past Lt. Governors. It will become a powerful position again that's used to further partisan domination. And unless you like what power-hungry Republican leadership has done to this state and nation, I don't think that's something you'll want to see.

Jim's message of better access to healthcare for everyone via solid ideas like purchasing pools for small businesses, an education system with an improved curriculum and better classroom conditions for both students and teachers, and aggressive plans to ensure solid relationships with strong businesses that will provide good jobs for Georgians, should be music to our ears.

Sometimes I hear people say "well what does this race matter anyway?" Or "what can the Lt. Gov. actually do?" In answer to those questions, I say look at Jim's ability to work with all people - Republican and Democrat. As an administrator, he served under both Roy Barnes and Sonny Perdue. He's the consumate politician than can work with anyone. That's the kind of guy that actually gets things done. And that's the kind of guy we need.

On Tuesday, the choice is clear: continued partisan domination by a party that has shown, especially during this election year, a willingness to put their special interests over the very people who pay their salaries. Or, a strong advocate that will provide a balance of power that will force the other side to work with everyone.

Friday, November 03, 2006

A Gubernatorial Runoff Just Might Change Some Thinking

In the Perdue/Taylor battle, Democrats have been wondering why Sonny's land deals and tax breaks haven't been hurting him more in the polls. Jon Flack of Peach Pulpit tells us why.

"The one thing I have worried about with Taylor's focus on the land deals is that it's an abstract concept that most average Georgians can't really relate to. It doesn't effect them in any overt or daily sense, and just feeds the cynicism that most people associate with all politicians. Yeah, he is a little crooked, but aren't they all?"

A Democratic leader in Forsyth County, that Jon is a brave guy. I live just across the river from him. And as red as Gwinnett seems, Forsyth is ruby red.

But Jon's a smart and insightful guy too. And I think his hunter analogy is a good way to illustrate the very good point that he makes.

The Disneygate ads have been running now for weeks. So, in this line of thinking, I hope over the last few days that we see more ads about Peach Kids than Disneygate.

Sonny's probably going to outpoll Mark by somewhere between 7 and 9 points next Tuesday. But the ole land mogul might not get the 50% + 1 majority that he's hoping for to avoid a runoff.

Due to recent changes in Georgia election law, Georgians aren't used to seeing an incumbent governor forced into a runoff. If this does go to a runoff, enough people may start to change their way of thinking. Maybe they'll step up to that machine and start to seriously think to themselves about why this incumbent finds himself in a runoff.

It's the only realistic hope there is to unseat Perdue.

Reality Check Analysis Sets the Record Straight on Huntstein/Wiggins Ads

Using an Albany Law Review study, Daily Report's analysis of facts alleged in the respective ads, and affadavits and court records, the AJC's Reality Check series clears the picture on charges made by both the Hunstein and Wiggins campaigns about each candidate.

Amongst the highlights of the article, the results of an analysis of Justice Carol Hunstein's record drastically conflicts with the charges of the Wiggins campaign and the Safety and Prosperity Coalition that Hunstein is "soft on crime" and "legislates from the bench." The article cites an Albany Law Review study that reveals that Hunstein "voted in favor of the prosectution in 24 of 31 (death penalty) cases studied."

The article says that the study goes as far as to say that Hunstein has "one of the most conservative voting records on the Court."

Meanwhile, on Hunstein's claims that Wiggins has never tried a case, the AJC requested a list of cases in which Wiggins has tried. The campaign failed to provide them with such a list.

Wiggins has always answered this charge with his record as an attorney. The paper confirmed that they found "several cases" in which his name appears as counsel, including one case that went before the Georgia Court of Appeals. But as the article points out, "appellate work is different from trial work."

In short, I'm left with the impression that Wiggins, the Republican Party, the Safety and Prosperity Coalition, and the American Justice Partnership have spent millions of dollars on advertising that distorts Justice Hunstein's record.

I know people that like Mike Wiggins and claim that he's a nice guy. I hope that's all true. But based on a comparison of records and on false advertising by and for Wiggins, Justice Hunstein deserves to win this race.

Case closed.

To read the article by Jill Young Miller and Bill Rankin, click here.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Polls, Polls, Polls and My Personal Ramblings

AJC's Political Insider has the latest rundown on multiple polls concerning Georgia's gubernatorial race between Perdue and Taylor. All show Perdue with a sizeable lead still. But two polls, Zogby and Insider Advantage, show at Perdue just under 50% - which if that result bears true on Tuesday would mean a runoff.

In the different poli sci, critical thinking, and upper level math classes that I took, I was always fascinated by polling theory and methods. Maybe I should have gotten into that line of work?

Not that there's any drastic differences in the poll results, but in these last few critical days of the general election, it's hard to know which poll to put more stock in. Although most of my life, I think I've always been told to trust Mason-Dixon.

Click the link to Political Insider for the various results, including Strategic Vision's results for down ballot races.

Also, I early voted in Lawrenceville yesterday and spoke briefly with Lynn Ledford, Gwinnett's Election Super. She said that voting at her office and the two satellite offices in Snellville and Norcross has been extremely brisk. Early voting is still somewhat new. But each time it seems that a lot of people enjoy taking advantage of it.

As a former election super. myself, I've voted at my home precinct, by absentee, and now by early voting since moving here. I tend to notice things and critique them to myself. Lynn and her staff are doing a great job in what's surely one of the more difficult and complex counties to manage on election day.

Although she was quick to tell me that I had gotten out just in time, I think the changes in elections are great despite the hardships of adjusting to so much change. The strain and the pressures of having to learn and then train so many others can take its toll.

These are exciting times to be working in elections. And I do miss it. With that said, I am enjoying the new found freedom that I have in expressing my views and supporting the candidates of my choice - something that I hadn't really had the chance to do since Dec. of 1992.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Georgia Weekly on the General Election/Hunstein Wins Chilly Debate

Georgia Public Television's Georgia Weekly was very interesting this week. The show featured former Republican Party chair, Chuck Clay and former Democratic U.S. Rep. Buddy Darden. They provided some good commentary on the general election races including for Governor, Lt. Governor, and Georgia Supreme Court amongst others.

You can see the program via the GPB website here. It's approximately 30 minutes long.

GPB also aired the debate taped Monday night between Justice Hustein and her challenger, Mike Wiggins in their continuing battle for the Georgia Supreme Court. The debate was just as described, very chilly and highly contentious. But, in my opinion, Justice Hunstein was the better and more confident of the two. Mr. Wiggins, a D.C. attorney, came off as evasive and at times not completely comfortable with what he himself was saying.

Judge for yourself by watching here.

The two sparred over their respective ads. Mr. Wiggins' ads have portrayed Justice Hunstein as soft on crime. Hunstein responded with the endorsement of over 20 prosecutors throughout the state of Georgia.

Hunstein was asked about her hard-hitting attack ad on Mr. Wiggins' family history. She defended it by saying that it "reveals his character." Mr. Wiggins continues to address certain parts of the ad, while ignoring others. And he dismisses it as petty personal politics.

Wiggins sought to single out this Supreme Court race from other Supreme Court races and all other judicial races in Georgia by saying that Justice Hunstein's support from the state bar is "a conflict of interest." All I can say is that if you look at the campaign contribution disclosures for any judicial race, you'll see attorneys are the main donors. Why? Probably because they are the only ones interested in those low key, nonpartisan races.

That is, until now..........

In a departure from elections past, Mr. Wiggins and his backers have introduced untold amounts of money into this race. And it's all from big business who also have a stake in many of the cases that come before the Georgia Supreme Court. Groups don't usually donate millions of dollars without expecting something in return. So, I wonder why Mr. Wiggins doesn't feel that this is "a conflict of interest?"

Throw in the fact that the Republican Party has joined its business allies in this nonpartisan race. Together, they've spent millions of mostly out-of-state, anyonymous dollars to attack and distort Justice Hunstein's record. Which is a shame because I feel very comfortable in saying that Justice Hunstein is widely respected because of her well-rounded and bipartisan private and business support including:

Dan Amos of AFLAC
Jim Blanchard of Synovus
Former Governor Roy Barnes, Democrat
Former Attorney General Mike Bowers, Republican
Zell Miller
Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin
23 District Attorneys of both parties, including Republicans Pat Head of Cobb County, Danny Porter of Gwinnett, Danny Craig of Augusta, and Democrats Ken Hodges of Albany and Paul Howard of Atlanta.
The Georgia Association of Educators
Georgia AFL-CIO
Wendell Willard, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Republican
Oscar Persons, former general counsel of the Georgia Republican Party
Congressman John Lewis, Democrat
State Representative Ed Lindsey, Republican

I have nothing personal against Mr. Wiggins or his supporters. But I don't like how they've conducted their race. And I don't think the ramifications of what they're trying to do is good for Georgia or judicial races in the future.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

From the Blogroll: AJC Endorses Martin and Corporations vs. Hunstein

I haven't had time to look at a paper this morning. But I made sure to make a few stops on the blogroll concerning election news. A couple of things caught my eye:

Mel from Blog for Democracy proudly posted the AJC's endorsement of Jim Martin for Lt. Governor. Newspaper endorsements don't always translate into votes from its readers. But I always say it's better to have it than not have it. In this case, the AJC's endorsement of Jim was well deserved.

From the AJC:

"Martin's 18-year legislative record reflects an unflinching dedication to public service, particularly on behalf of children and families. For example, he has authored many bills strengthening laws on child abuse and domestic violence. He advocates a regional transit system, and favors forming insurance pools to encourage more private employers to provide health insurance for their workers. He also backs an expansion of PeachCare, the state's health insurance for children of working Georgians who make too little money to afford insurance on their own.

Martin's commitment to children led him to give up his legislative career as well as a lucrative law practice and accept one of the most thankless jobs in state government, commissioner of the troubled Department of Human Resources. Appointed to the post by then-Gov. Roy Barnes, Martin was asked to remain in the post for a year under Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue. To his credit, Martin insisted on transparency in DHR, even when it meant exposing the fact that tragic mistakes by county-level caseworkers led to the deaths of two toddlers in families that had been investigated for abuse."

On the Georgia Supreme Court front, both Mel and DecaturGuy from Atlanta Public Affairs had something to say about corporate involvement in the Hunstein vs. Wiggins race. Interestingly enough, a national group called American Justice Partnership donated $1.3 million to the much mentioned Safety and Prosperity Coalition to produce and air attack ads against Justice Hunstein. As Mel points out, this makes a "mockery" of Georgia's campaign finance laws. You have to wonder why $1.3 million in mostly out-of-state and anonymous donations are being pumped into a Georgia court race.

Add this bit of news to the fact that the Republican Party is also spending money on behalf of Mike Wiggins in this nonpartisan race. Since the RPG won't say, we'll have to wait until the end of the year disclosure reports to find out just how much they are giving. It will be interesting to see.

Monday, October 30, 2006

More on Hunstein vs. Wiggins from Daily Report

Daily Report, a magazine for those in legal and business professions, has been keeping tabs on the highly contentious Georgia Supreme Court race between Hunstein and Wiggins. They have two excellent articles dealing with the races' latest events, including Hunstein's attack ad and the Wiggins' subsequent cease and desist letter to Georgia television stations airing it.

In the first article, Hunstein says she is "fighting for the whole court" in trying to keep special interest groups and political parties from buying judicial races.

And in the second article, experts like UGA political scientist, Charles Bullock, disagree with me about the risks for Hunstein in running her ad alleging problems in different Wiggins' family matters. Bullock thinks the ad is likely to help her even though she's an incumbent. Interestingly enough, our own Erick Erickson of the Peach Pundit disagrees with me as well and gives some thoughts from the other side of the fence. It's a good read.

By the way, I forgot to mention this earlier. But since the Wiggins campaign is concerned that Hunstein may have violated FCC violations, I wonder how they feel about Georgia Tech's campus being plastered with his campaign signs this weekend? Not just in front of frat houses, but less than 20 feet from the very walls of Bobby Dodd Stadium itself. If anyone got a snapshot of it, I'd love to post it.

There must have been 25 or 30 signs alone on the east side of the stadium along Techwood Dr. on both sides of the street - all on public property. Just in time for 55,000 people to assemble around those signs for Tech's big game with Miami.

Since Tech is a public institution, I'm pretty sure the signage was illegal. Shouldn't a candidate for the Georgia Supreme Court and his supporters know that?

Lt. Governor Debate Comes Down to Issues

In contrast to so many of the debates that we saw during the primary and into the general election season, the 3 men vying for Lt. Gov. of Georgia, Jim Martin, Casey Cagle, and Alan Buckley, kept the debate focused on actual issues. That's almost a news item in itself............

The debate might be a little boring for those who are looking for one-liners and personal insults. But I appreciate the fact that all 3 men more or less laid their positions out, talked about their records, and put it to the voters in a way that they could decide how they want to vote.

I like it - man-up and lets see what ya got!

I guess it's no surprise that I found myself siding mostly with Martin in his positions. I like the fact that he referred to stem cell research as a matter of science vs. Cagle's opinion that it's an issue of morality. And as a Sierra Club member, I do believe that Cagle's record on the environment shows more of a respect for business than for our natural resources themselves.

Alan Buckley's line about the Lt. Gov. essentially being reduced to the role of backup QB for the Gov. was dead on. But the real story on that is the politics that have played a role in the re-shaping of the Lt. Governor's powers in recent years. There's just no place for such pettiness in doing the work of the people.

And both Buckley and Martin made mention of Cagle's and the Republicans' support for a voter ID law, potentially disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of the state's voters.

For a report on the debate, check out Doug Gross' AP article.

Interesting Ploy by the Wiggins Campaign

Georgia Political Digest has a letter from the Wiggins campaign on its front page. They are citing an FCC regulation on "false and misleading advertising" in an effort to get television stations to stop airing Justice Hunstein's attack ad.

Personally, I didn't think Hunstein needed to air such an ad, whether true, partially true, or false. I think she should promote Wiggins' invitation to put her record before the public and let the chips fall where they may. Despite Wiggins' cherrypicking on hot button issues, I think Georgia voters would see that Hunstein isn't the "activist judge" that they have tried to make her out to be. Rather she is quite an independent presence on the Georgia Supreme Court, as opposed to his flagrant partisanship in a nonpartisan race.

I don't believe that this ploy by the Wiggins campaign will work in stopping the ads. But maybe it isn't designed to do that?

Probably 90% of all political ads that we see and hear are either false or misleadingly extreme stretches in some way or another. But it will likely force television news programs to address the Wiggins letter on the air. And it will probably preface a likely lawsuit that will get some ink in the newspapers and more TV air time.

In other words, its free publicity.

"The Hunstein campaign advertisement is false, misleading and
deceptive. We demand that you refuse to continue to air this advertisement.
If this advertisement continues to air, we may pursue any and all legal
avenues available to us. "

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Another one, Sonny?

It's bad enough that Sonny Perdue is Georgia's first sitting governor to be found in violation of an ethics complaint. As troubling as it was to hear of his "Disneygate" land deal, it was even more so to find out that Sonny's reasoning for investing in land in Florida was a lie. He said that it was so that there wouldn't be a potential conflict of interest. Now we see that Sonny does dabble in Georgia real estate. And after campaigning on transparency in government in 2002, reportedly, Sonny didn't even disclose his purchase of land in Houston County.

Considering his "potential conflict of interest" excuse, we know that he is well aware of that possibility and about the looks of impropriety. Yet that didn't stop him from buying his land in Florida from a political appointee of his.

I'm not against Georgia governors making money. I'm not against them investing in property and securing their future. But Sonny Perdue shows us that there should be a law in Georgia requiring a governor to put his assets in a blind trust. Because he told us that ethics was important to him. And then he lied about his personal business dealings as governor.

We traded a decent man like Roy Barnes for this? Even Republicans should be disappointed.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Atlanta Press Club Debates Schedule

For those interested, we'll be seeing and hearing a fair amount of debate coverage for Georgia's general election races from here on out. The debates crank up in earnest beginning this Sunday. Click here for the schedule.

Previous debates involving general election races are archived at the Atlanta Press Club website and can be viewed. I found the debate for Attorney General between Thurbert Baker and Perry McGuire to be very interesting. Looks like being "Mr. Chik-fil-A" and "the hand of God" doesn't necessrily qualify one to be Georgia's AG.

Who knew?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

At Least Georgia Tech Tried

Georgia, with viable wind resources in the north as well as offshore, could help the country reach that goal, according to Walt Musial, leader of offshore wind energy activities at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. "Georgia has a role to play, should it choose to play," Musial said.

Georgia Tech, in partnership with Southern Co., was attempting to build the nation's first offshore wind farm. But the Savannah Morning News reports that the project is not likely to happen.

The article sites various reasons like a moratorium on such projects by the regulating committee, as well as the spike in manufacturing costs. The giant turbines can "stand taller than the length of a football field."

It's too bad because further use of wind energy should and will be in our future. In fact, the Georgia coastal winds will help our state be a part of that. For their part, Georgia Tech has done some outstanding research on wind energy and other forms of renewable energy.

The article also mentions the Georgia Wind Working Group. They have a nifty website with info. on wind energy projects and what's happening here in Georgia.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

AJC's View of the Georgia Safety and Prosperity Coalition and Wiggins

The AJC's editors have decided to strongly endorse Justice Carol Hunstein's re-election bid to the Georgia Supreme Court. Just add them to the looooooooong and varied list of endorsees for Hunstein. For quick reference, Mel from Blog for Democracy posts a letter from Paula Gaber of Georgia for Democracy that highlights a list of statewide and bipartisan Hunstein endorsees.

Here's what the AJC had to say about Justice Hunstein:

Based strictly on qualifications — years practicing law, arguing cases in state courts, presiding over trials and listening to appeals — the contested race for the Georgia Supreme Court on the November ballot really shouldn't be close.

Justice Carol Hunstein, who has served on the high court since 1992 and been elected by Georgians twice, is clearly a better choice than her challenger, Mike Wiggins, a former Bush administration lawyer who has not argued a case before the State Court of Appeals or Supreme Court in his career.

Besides her experience as a trial court judge — she was a DeKalb Superior Court jurist before joining the high court — Hunstein's personal story is inspiring. She overcame cancer at a young age but lost a leg in the battle.

Politically, she is a no-nonsense judge who has the backing of conservative Democrats, such as former Gov. Zell Miller, who appointed her to the high court, and Republicans such as former state Attorney General Mike Bowers. She has a well earned reputation as a tough, but fair, justice who has walked the fine line between safeguarding defendant rights while at the same time seeing to it that those who break the law are appropriately punished.

But in the AJC editorial, they didn't stop at singing Justice Hunstein's praises. They took dead aim at Mike Wiggins and his benefactor, The Georgia Safety and Prosperity Coalition:

Hunstein's opposition is coming from a well-financed coalition of business and professional groups who are, simply put, out to buy a seat on the state's highest court. The coalition, which boasts a heavily Republican presence, is backing Wiggins by attacking Hunstein, although Wiggins is trying to keep an arm's length distance between himself and those raising huge sums of money to defeat the incumbent.

The group goes by the lofty name of the Georgia Safety and Prosperity Coalition. As an independent political group — not tied to a particular party or candidate — there is no limit on how much individuals or businesses can contribute to it or how much it can spend. Early on in the campaign the group got $100,000 from the political action committee of the Medical Association of Georgia, $50,000 each from DaimlerChrysler and the Georgia Hospital Association, $25,000 each from the American Insurance Association and the Coca-Cola Bottlers Association. The group has already booked $200,000 worth of commercials and is likely to spend much more. Hunstein expects she'll have to raise and spend $1 million in her own campaign to defend her record.

Even though the race is supposed to be nonpartisan, Wiggins and his supporters have touted his Republican connections and have declared Hunstein to be "the Democrat in the race." They like Wiggins because they believe he will uphold their interests on a range of issues from limiting what juries can award in liability cases to slamming the door shut on the public's access to government decisions on tax breaks and other inducements to promote economic development. In effect, they want him to be just the kind of "activist" judge they claim to abhor, as long as he is active for their causes.

Similar, well-financed campaigns are being mounted around the country by business and special-interest groups in hopes of influencing who is elected to state appeals courts.

While there were other Georgia Supreme Court justices up for re-election this year — all three of them men — the coalition decided Wiggins should run against Hunstein because, as a woman and a DeKalb County resident, they thought she could be portrayed as a liberal Democrat. (Interestingly the same tactic was used two years ago when some of the same groups now backing Wiggins went after Justice Leah Sears and lost.)

In what has to be the most embarrassing memo in the campaign, Liz Young, treasurer of the Safety and Prosperity Coalition, advised Wiggins in an e-mail how to answer why he was running against Hunstein, suggesting the "answer cannot be that she is a one-legged, Jewish female from DeKalb County." Besides the ugliness of that sentiment, the advice is factually incorrect — Hunstein is Christian.

The coalition's portrayal of Hunstein as soft on crime plays equally loose with facts. At least two independent studies of court rulings while Hunstein has been on the bench showed that she has consistently sided with government prosecutors more often than the court as a whole. So if it isn't about being soft on crime, why challenge her? Wiggins, in a fund-raising letter early in the campaign, got closer to what's really at stake.

He noted that conservatives — although what he probably meant was Republicans — have succeeded in Georgia at taking control of the legislative and executive branches, leaving only the state's judiciary as "the last frontier."

The Republicans definitely aren't hiding the fact that Wiggins is their man. In today's mail I received a mailer from the Republican Party of Georgia listing their preferred statewide candidates as well as candidates from my area. Right there in between Stan Wise and Renee S. Unterman was Mike Wiggins - Supreme Court, the ONLY nonpartisan candidate to make their list.

Sorry, but as the AJC went on to point out, Georgians have already decided that their state judiciary isn't going to be partisan. That means that Mr. Wiggins and his partisan ilk aren't welcome on the bench of the Georgia Supreme Court.

Voters need to make that point to Wiggins and The Georgia Safety and Prosperity Coalition crystal clear on November 7th.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Want to Help Jim Martin?

Jane at Martin headquarters has some tips on how you can do just that:

There are only 14 DAYS left until the election, and we've still got lots to do. You can make a difference by volunteering just a few hours of your time.

Below are four easy ways for you to help Jim. Please email or call me and tell me how you'd like to contribute to Jim's success on Election Day.

1. Call registered voters and encourage them to vote for Jim. Making calls just one night in the next 14 days will make a difference (I will give you a script, a list of voters to call, and Jim's bio). We call Sunday through Thursday nights from 6 to 9 p.m.

2. Knock on doors in your area on Saturday, October 28 from 9 a.m. until noon. I will give you a script, a targeted list of doors to knock, and information on Jim.

3. Knock on doors in your area on Saturday, November 4 from 9 a.m. until noon. Again, I will give you a script, a targeted list of doors to knock, and information on Jim.

4. Wave signs at high-visibility intersections in your area on Election Day, Tuesday, November 7th. Remind voters to go to the polls during morning and evening rush hours.

Please call or email me with questions and to sign up to volunteer.

Thank you!!!!
Jane :)
Jane Bradshaw
Outreach Director
Jim Martin for Lt. Governor
404-493-5496 (c)

Rosalynn Carter and Rep. John Lewis Headline Jim Martin Benefit

Tina @ Georgia Democratic Womens Grapevine has all the details for the Oct. 30th event at The Biltmore on West Peachtree St. Come out and join Mrs. Carter and Rep. Lewis as we gather together in support of Jim Martin's bid to become Georgia's next Lt. Governor!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Jim Martin fundraiser, Oct. 30, Atlanta...
[submitted by Arvilla Jennings]

Next Monday, October 30th, is Jim's final event of the campaign at The Biltmore, located at 817 West Peachtree Street in Atlanta, at 6:30 p.m.Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and Congressman John Lewis are the honorary co-chairs of the event.

In the race for Lieutenant Governor, only Jim Martin has the experience we need to bring down healthcare costs, bring good-paying jobs to Georgia, and improve student achievement. Jim served for 18 years in the state House, where he was an active member of the Democratic leadership and passed more than 60 laws that improve the lives of Georgians every day. He also led the Department of Human Resources under two governors.Jim is respected statewide as an advocate for children, senior citizens, and families. No candidate in the race for Lieutenant Governor has a comparable record of accomplishment or shares our values more than Jim Martin.That is why Jim has been endorsed by Mayor Shirley Franklin, the Georgia Association of Educators, and leaders from across the state.

On the 30th, there is a smaller reception at 5:30 p.m. for those who are able to contribute $250 or more for the final stretch. For the main reception, the campaign is asking for a contribution of $75 per person.If you would like to attend, please let me know and I will make sure there is a ticket at the door for you. Even better, you can reserve your ticket by contributing online at

If you cannot attend, please consider sending me a check for whatever you can, and I will forward it to Jim right away.When you contribute you will know this – there is no one in public service whom you will be prouder to support than Jim Martin. Thank you for your consideration.


Arvilla Jennings

Monday, October 23, 2006

A Spartan for Martin

For the next few days I won't have much time for blogging. What free time I'll have will mostly be taken up with canvassing and phone banking efforts on behalf of the Jim Martin campaign.

So sort through the blogroll, and I promise that I will catch up on my blog reading later in the week.

For now, check out Doug Monroe's fine interview with Jim over on Peachtree Screed. It will provide you with yet another example of how Jim is positive and upbeat about Georgia's future, despite our problems. That's because Jim leads with a plan of action, not just rhetoric and empty promises.

Jim Martin doesn't have to rely on personal attacks, attempts to fool the people of our state about himself or his opponents, or other tactics related to the dark side of today's politics. That's because Jim's in complete control of his campaign. And he has a healthy amount of confidence and competence to get things done.

Liberal, progressive, conservative.............those words are all just labels. Perhaps the best phrase that I can use to describe Jim Martin is "common sense." Take a moment to read over Jim's plan and you'll see what I mean.

Please join me in helping to elect Jim Martin as Georgia's next Lt. Governor.

P.S. Josh Latta's cartoon illustration of Jim Martin as "Decentman" is a must see! Great job guys!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Republicans vs. Gay Republicans

The Foley scandal has created a big problem for the Republicans. Polls around the country are showing big time troubles for their congressional candidates. I think how their leadership handles this will tell a lot about how far gays have truly made it in the Republican party.

Last night, Larry King asked the question about whether or not a "pink purge" of gay Republicans is happening or will happen in Washington. His panel included two gay Republicans, the noted blogger Andrew Sullivan, and Patrick Sammon, executive veep of the Log Cabin Republicans.

Joining them were two evangelicals, John MacArthur, an academian and pastor. And then there was the more malevolent Louis P. Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition and author of, "The Agenda: the Homosexual Plan to Change America." Right away, Sheldon reminded me of some "Christians" I was raised around. The guy's a real winner. (eyes rolling)

Sullivan and Sammon both denied that there is a gay purge going on. Both made the sensible argument that gays can be Republicans because of their conservative fiscal and national security values. I believe this to be true, because I have known quite a few gay Republicans, some closeted and some not. Most stats that I see estimate that about 25% of gay people vote Republican.

For me, I never had a conflict about who I most identified with politically. It was with the Democrats. For gay Republicans I suppose its not so easy. They have to overlook accepted GOP positions on gay issues to work for the other conservative ideals that they possess. As hard as it can be sometimes to be a southern Democrat, I don't envy the LCR's.

Last night's show reinforced the notion that gay Republicans are still very much a minority within their own party. Here are a few comments:

JOHN MACARTHUR, PASTOR, GRACE COMMUNITY CHURCH: Well, I think Jesus put it simply when he said, "My kingdom is not of this world." And I think what happens in the Republican party or the Democratic party or the United States Congress, the United States government is really irrelevant to the advancement of the Kingdom of God. The message of Jesus is to go unto under all the world to make disciples, not make Republicans. and I think our message is a message that Jesus died and rose again to save us from our sins and death Hell. And that is the message. And evangelicals have convoluted message, sublimated that message to a political agenda, they have missed the point. And in many ways we have turned the mission field into the enemy. Homosexuals are not our enemy. They are our mission field, like any other or all other sinners are.

KING: Reverend Sheldon, I gather you differ?

SHELDON: Now, that -- so when Washington gave his Farewell Address in 1796, he clearly stated, of all the dispositions and habits that lead to political prosperity, there's two indispensable supports for political prosperity. He said religion and morality. And it's clearly what even John Adams said.

KING: That's their opinion as individuals, right?

SHELDON: No. It was more than their opinion. That was the consensus in the founding of America.

KING: Are you saying that gay is immoral?

MACARTHUR: Well, there's no question that you can't enter the Kingdom of God, as my dear friend here just said, you can't enter the Kingdom of God if you have -- if you're practicing homosexuality. Now, remember, homosexuality is not genetic. God didn't give it to you. It was caused by something else.

KING: But you don't know what caused it, do you?

SHELDON: Well we do know this?

KING: You do?

SHELDON: That molestation is a major contribution.

If you're interested, you can use the link that I provided to read for yourself (scroll down towards the end of the show). I think that Sullivan did a good job of answering, particularly Rev. Sheldon's, comments.

I do know there are those that believe the LCR's and people like Andrew Sullivan bring a moderating presence and a growing feeling of inclusiveness in a segment of society that sometimes publicly and hatefully rejects us or uses our issues as wedge issues with fundamentalist Christian voters.

I hope those people are right. But right now seems like a very good time for more moderate Republicans (and not just the gay ones) to step forward and show that there are more tolerant and educated opinions in the GOP than the ones that Rev. Sheldon, and even Rev. MacArthur, espouse.