Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Peanut Politics will return May 3

Yep, because of other outside interest that has come before me, I'll be putting Peanut Politics on hiatus for the month of April, but will return in time for the redistricting battle that will begin around that time.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Barrow Introduces Bi-Partisan Bill to fix Healthcare Flaw

Congressmen John Barrow (D-GA) and Mike Rogers (R-MI) today introduced a bipartisan bill that would amend the new health care law to preserve consumer access to licensed insurance agents and brokers.

“Insurance agents and brokers serve as the voice of health insurance for millions of families and small businesses in rural communities,” said Congressman Barrow. “These folks can help explain to consumers the many changes taking place in the healthcare world over the next few years, and so it’s important that our insurance agents are not hampered by provisions in the new healthcare law. This is another critical improvement that needs to be made to the healthcare law, and I’m hopeful that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will work with Mike and me to see that this important improvement is implemented.”

“The nation’s 500,000 insurance agents and brokers help consumers find the right health care, advocate on their behalf, identify cost-savings opportunities and inform them of new products and changes in the industry,” said Congressman Rogers. “A mandate in the new health care law severely restricts their ability to perform such services, meaning small businesses are losing jobs or shutting down completely and consumers are finding it harder to access their services.”

State consumer protection and tax laws require that insurance agents and brokers be paid through commissions included as part of consumers’ regular insurance premiums. The new healthcare law now classifies commissions as an “administration expense.” By itself, this reclassification would not pose a problem, except that a new regulation in the law – called The Medical Loss Ratio – mandates that insurers may only spend 20 percent of insurance premiums on administrative expenses. The result has been insurers dramatically cutting commissions to agents and brokers in order to comply with the Medical Loss Ratio mandate, which is causing job losses in the industry and restricting the ability of rural consumers from accessing healthcare advice from qualified, licensed healthcare professionals.

Earlier this month, Congressman Barrow voted to repeal the 1099 reporting requirements for small businesses included in the Affordable Care Act. The 1099 provision requires businesses to send the IRS a form detailing every business entity they pay $600 or more for goods or merchandise in every year. This requirement greatly increases the cost and complexity of complying with the tax code for small businesses and does nothing to improve the healthcare people receive.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Part 1:12 Hottest Democratic Women of Georgia

Shannon Marietta

Ex-Campaign Manager at Ken Hodges for Attorney General

Teresa Tomlinson

Mayor of Columbus (elected 2010)

Executive Director at MidTown, Inc

Amber N English

President at Young Democrats of Atlanta
Legislative Coordinator at Planned Parenthood Action Fund of Georgia
Jonae Wartel
Deputy Director at Georgia House Democratic Caucus
Campaign Manager at Stacey Evans for Ga House District 40

Nikema Williams
Vice-Chairman of the Georgia Democratic Party

Public Policy Manager at Planned Parenthood of Georgia

Dar'shun Kendrick

State Representative, District 94 at Georgia General Assembly
Owner/Attorney at Law at Kendrick Law Practice

Lean Ryals
President of Darton College Young Democrats

Maricel Dizon
Native of the Phillipines, Moved to Georgia in 1998.
(Former Classmate of Mine)
Graduate of Georgia State University
Liberal Activist

Maryline Blackburn
Former Miss Alaska & former Candidate for the Georgia Legislature HD 34

Fenika Miller
Former Chair of Houston County Democratic Party, Candidate for HD 145 (2010)
Democratic Activist
Member of the Georgia Federation of Democratic Women & Middle Georgia Democratic Women

Nicole Denise Marchand
Chief Assistant D.A. for Dekalb County, 2010 candidate for State Court Judge

Carry Smith
Member of the Chatham (County) Democrats, Former candidate for SD 1 (2010), Local Activist

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What's Next????

I'm a little worn out about talking about what democrats need to do in order to be successful once again here in Georgia. Since 2009 I've been writing about the ills of the Georgia Democratic Party & their shortcomings & what they need to do to change the trend. I don't if any of this stuff is being paid attention to, or being taken seriously by the progressives who dominate the party right now! I really don't know!

There are different strokes for different folks & one size does not fit all! All I'm saying is & I don't know why this is so hard for democrats to the left of me to understand, but you have got to run certain types of democrats in certain areas of this state.

Whether its a Christian Conservative Democrat in Southeast Georgia, or a moderate populist democrat in West Central Georgia, or a true blue liberal in the Urban Areas of the state, or just a plain 'ol conservative democrat in North Georgia.

(SIGH!!!!!!!) I don't know!

Until they level the playing field for elections in Georgia, dems are always going to be on the back bench."

Changing demographics will once again give the potential for democrats to change the trend that has been going overwhelmingly republican for the last 6-7 years. But, in order to take advantage of changing demographics there have to be credible candidates running for office at the local level who can rise up the ranks and become the legislators and statewide candidates of the future. The bench is awfully thin for Georgia Democrats. It’s strong candidates all over the state and local leadership that will build a strong party for the future, not the “big timers”, "the big daddys", "the big wigs" that do things the way they have always been done and are running it slam into the ground.

The last line of defense for democrats here is at the local level & its the one place state republicans have not been able to grab a hold on, but that's all about to change. Its one of the reasons why I ran for congressional party chair because to maintain democratic hold at the local level & help candidates running for the state legislature in the future. Too bad some of the committee members in the second district didn't see it that way.

And let me reiterate one thing: Dems must not write off small town Georgia to the GOP. When you forfeit rural Georgia, that means your sights tend to drift too far left & sadly that's what has happened here by those who say small town Georgia is a lost cause. Well I have run out of things to say about this. 2 years is enough!!! Hopefully this is the last post I write about democrats & what they need to do to win again in this state, but I doubt it!!!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

It's no secret: Rural Georgia is Dying!

From the swamps of the Okefenokee to the Onion fields of Vidalia to the Appalachian Mountains of Blue Ridge to the peanut fields of Southwest Georgia , the rural areas of Georgia has been losing people for decades, a slow demographic collapse. Without even the level of farmers and merchants that used to give these areas their pulse, many counties are also losing their very reason to exist, falling behind the rest of the state in nearly every category as they desperately try to reinvent themselves.

Two forces common to rural Georgia have transformed Superior. One is the collapse of the family farm and the subsequent rise of agribusiness. 60-70 years ago, more than 50 percent of Georgia workers earned their income from a farm. The big farms are getting richer, fattened by federal subsidies, and the small farms are disappearing.

And now a broad swath of the state's central & southern section seems to have lost something else, as well: its optimism. There's a quiet crisis in confidence, the one thing that had seemed a part of rural Georgia DNA. More than ever, people feel powerless to control their lives and pessimistic about the future, especially with many of our seats in the State Legislature about to be relocated in or around the metro Atlanta Area.

The middle class is dwindling, leaving pockets of hard poverty amid large agribusinesses supported by taxpayers. Some counties & towns here in rural Georgia taxed themselves to create an economic development fund. They put in a fiber-optic network for telecommunications. They shored up their high school. They zoned 30 acres at the edge of town for industrial use, graded it and put in utilities. At the center of the proposed industrial park sits the empty shell of a brand new building, built with the help of $145,000 in state money.

Industry could come here to the more isolated regions of rural Georgia and produce their products pretty cheap. And with all the things going on with agriculture, we think we're pretty well positioned.''

The stores that do survive sell basics: gas, quick-pickup groceries, coffee. Or they find a niche, selling local crafts.

With the current trends showing no sign of reversing, we will eventually be left with a lot of places without schools, stores or even government. 'We will depopulate much of the rural Areas of the state and it won't stop there. One of the biggest complaints of Rural Georgia that it is boring. That's true! There isn't that much to do in these areas unless you have transportation & drive to nearby Macon, Columbus, Albany, Savannah.

With the dying of rural Georgia, the days of rural Georgia being the power center of state politics is long gone.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Here they Come! The New Guard of Black Georgia Democrats

The ones that will have the ability to run statewide one day if he/she chooses to do so.

The old guard liberal black democrats like State Rep Tyrone Brooks, State Senator Robert Brown, State Senator Vincent Fort & others are likely, but slowly to be replaced with the likes of moderate/conservative black democrats like Quentin Howell (D-Milledgeville), Carl Camon (D-Ray City) both who ran for office back in 2010 (Howell for State Rep, Camon for governor).

And others like RJ Hadley (D-Conyers), who I view more as a moderate progressive, who is now Vice-Chairman of County Parties at the Georgia Democratic Party, was a candidate for the US Senate in 2010 was dissed by the Old Guard when he was starting his political career. Fenika Miller (D-Warner Robins), despite having a progressive streak is also a young moderate who ran for office as well in 2010.

Others like Shawn James, a conservative democrat from Clayton County, Freddy Grimsley, a centrist democrat from Albany, Kimberly Alexander, a centrist democrat from Douglas County, State Senator Hardie Davis (D-Augusta) is a prime example of a centrist oriented Black Democrat, are all part of the new guard that will in some shape or form will represent the new African-American Democrat in Georgia who will be more moderate or conservative on some key issues that will enable them to appeal to a more cross section of the population instead of just one group of people.

If the Old Guard is afraid to reach back and mentor the next generation that wants to be in this realm of electoral politics ... that younger generation is going to elbow them in the face, and they're going to find themselves on the sideline as the next generation takes their seats away.

Look at Quentin Howell (D-Milledgeville) for example: A conservative democrat, he is a entrepreneur, he is a successful Small Business Owner (Howell’s Medical Equipment & Supply) , did some time in the US Navy & who also hosts the largest radio talk show in Middle Georgia & is a Christian Conservative, someone who I think will win if he chooses to run again in 2012, preferably for the State Senate. (This just me talking, lol!!!). You see, this is the new face of Georgia Politics, the new guard of Black Democrats in this state.

The Old Guard, many of them grew during the MLK Generation. But too many of them, in my opinion have stopped reaching back to mentor the next generation. And their successors are desperately needed as role models for black youth who drop out of school and commit crimes at rates far above their proportion of the population.

It's time for new blood. Dems need fresh energy and fresh ideas. The day has come when black Democrats can win over white voters based on what they stand for and what they can accomplish. Be on the lookout for these up & coming democrats in Georgia Politics

Gerrymandering Hurts Potential Black Candidates with Aspirations for Higher Office Here in Georgia.


The idea of creating majority-minority districts came from the thought that blacks (or other minorities) would have a better chance of being elected and thus be better represented in a district where the majority of the voters in the district are black. The 4th District is a prime example where more than 60% of the voters are African American. In SW Georgia, Sanford Bishop district has changed numerous times. Bishop first won the 2nd when it was a majority white district. In the other two districts, the 4th & 13th, those districts have over 50% African American Population. So does that prove the system works?

Yes and no. Yes, Rep. John Lewis, Hank Johnson & David Scott will get re-elected in 2012 and every year after and chances are when they retire a black Democrat will succeed them. Sanford Bishop's 2nd District has a great shot of being represented by a white democrat once he retires from office more so than the other more liberal districts in the state. But, could a Scott, Johnson, Lewis ever win statewide? No. They are simply too liberal. They are fine for their liberal, cut out district which they need to be, but that would not fly in the state as a whole. Before I thought Bishop had best chance of all of the black Georgia Democrats to win statewide because he represented a rural district in which he got a substantial number of white votes, but all that went out the window with his support for the unpopular Heathcare Bill & his close ties to President Obama. Each with the exception of Bishop can win re-election without a single white vote

The problem with them (xcept Bishop) is that their districts are not representative of the state as a whole because of the deliberate elimination of all those who are not traditional liberal, democratic voters. The same point could be made for most districts in the state House and state Senate. If African-Americans from the state legislature want to win a statewide election, they are simply going to have to moderate their positions on a host of issues. Of course, they risk losing the black vote when doing so, but that's a risk they are going to have to take.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Georgia Democrats: Time to be Born Again!

Georgia Democrats, well Democrats in General have “lost the ability to connect with people’s value systems, and they’re going to have to work to get that back. The party needed to get comfortable expressing religion in a meaningful way & Democrats have failed to speak to their faith and to relate to people that they share their faith..

Unless Democrats change the way they relate to religious & value voters, value learning to meaningfully address religious issues and candidates’ personal faith no way the cannot hope to recapture the religious vote from the Republicans.

There's a legitimate concern that evangelicals have no interest in being taken advantage of by any party. Its really hard to tell because a republican can walk into a room, start rambling off talking points & each evangelical voter would go to the polls & pull the lever for that candidate because he says I'm pro-life or believe in the sanctity of marriage. When a democrat does that, they are not met with the same benefit of a doubt like a republican. It's really just a matter of Democrats showing some respect. They don't need to go into meetings thinking they're going to change minds. They need to be willing to say, "We're here to just listen to what's on your mind we're all operating from a position of good faith." That's all!

Democrats need to shift their language. For example, you say that Democrats need to emphasize abortion reduction. There's still a sense that one cannot win a Democratic primary by backing away from Democratic orthodoxy on abortion. They could try to reach common ground on ways to reduce abortion rates, but no democrat has talked about this in any primary I've followed. It leaves them open to questions in the general election.

I know there are really genuine disagreements between people of good faith, not whether we should care for the poor, but who should do that, the government or the private sector. It's been clear to me that the scope of what we face is too large for individuals to tackle on their own. As a good Baptist, I was taught that we are all flawed because we are human. Humans are inherently sinful and if you leave it up to individuals to give their money to others, in many cases, they will not. What concerns me, as a person of faith, is to see the term evangelical treated as a political label. It's a theological label. Certainly, the book was meant as an explanation of how we got to this point, where people conflated evangelicalism with political conservatism. I stopped thinking of myself as an evangelical because, well, I'm not a political conservative, so therefore I must not be an evangelical.

I was shy as a child still somewhat to this day), but what I have learned is, I need to go into Democratic circles, call myself an evangelical, and put up with the questions that come with it to get beyond the caricature of evangelicals and explain who we really are.

But I really do believe that Georgia Democrats can woo religious voters. To do so, they will need to modulate their rhetoric about hot-button social issues, have their candidates come across as religious not secular, and be able to identify religious leaders.

Dems cannot be afraid to express themselves when it comes to religion. They must be tolerant of those democrats in the party who are religious & who openly talk about it in front of the more secular members of the party.

Georgians Voting in their Best Interest or Against it?

Ahhhh........The South! What can I say here about my region of the United States? I love my home. The Southern state of Georgia, the Peach State, the Empire State of the South. As I mentioned before, something just continue to baffle me : Why & I really mean this, but Why despite our conservative tendencies do many of my rural low-income residents continue to give the republicans the benefit of the doubt when election season rolls around every two, four, six years?

The Republican Party has been promoting a series of policies that hurt residents of rural Georgians very badly. While voters are more likely to vote Republican now than they did ten years ago, in farm communities and small towns, the Republican Party has been supporting a whole series of actions and policies that go against the interests of these voters.

The push by Deal & the Republicans to cut Hope drastically, which will no doubt affect rural students, shift Georgia's Tax burden on Low income & middle class families while at the same time continue to give deep tax cuts to Corporations & their special interest cronies. Hey, they got to pay for those tax cuts & the way to do it is to make low-income, middle class families pay more than they should. But somehow they manage to get away with it because of...........well.....not substance, but because they are masters of marketing & packaging what they are selling to the general public. The present this big 'ol gift ,which looks so attractive to the average Georgia voter that eventually they will buy into. By the time the average Georgia Voter realize that they were played, fooled, conned that its too late for anyone to do anything about it until the next election season rolls around.

Poverty here in Rural Georgia is very real. . The vast majority of rural Georgians are poor and middle class people. Republican policies are biased against the rural folk. It is time for rural Georgians to start voting for candidates who will support policies that benefit rural Georgia instead of hurting rural Georgia.

Despite what I hear, I don't know that rural Georgians are really upset by 'reckless spending.' The Blue Dogs like Jim Marshall who lost his bid for re-election were convinced that this is the case, but the most popular Republicans here in Georgia are known for their ability to bring home the bacon like Jack Kingston, who haven't done squat to improve the 1st Congressional District, but his ability to bring home the pork has kept him in office this long despite the district's high poverty & lack of jobs. On the other hand, maybe saturation exposure to Fox News and talk radio is turning Southern states like Georgia into a place that not only hates the federal government but their money, too.

I do think it's true that rural Georgians are convinced that the Atlanta/Urban elites don't respect their social values and culture. And, the more urban the Democratic Party becomes, the stronger the sense of estrangement can become.

I am more interested in how rural, conservative Georgia Democrats can win by genuinely differing from the national party. And I don't mean on social issues, because they are doing that already and it either isn't working or it is insufficient. I think it would be nice if a Georgia Democrat could say, "Hey, I'm nothing like the National Democrats who's values are not in line of that with of Georgia Values.

Like Democratic Strategist David "Mudcat" Saunders said: If urban areas tend to go Democrat and suburban/exurban areas go Republican, “The swing vote is what’s left, and it lives in rural areas,” Saunders says. “These people have been voting Republican, but they’re not really Republicans, and we need to show ‘em why.”

It’s unbelievable that Democrats can’t figure out that what rural folks are really worried about is financial security, healthcare and jobs, that Daddy’s got to get a second job and how they're getting Hank Jr to the dentist. Now what democrats need to do in order to flip working class voters back to the Georgia Democratic Party is they must be convinced that the Democrats’ economic policies are better for them personally than the Republican policies.

You see some republicans have defined the democratic party as the party for blacks only. The Republicans set up, and used very well, (portraying blacks as lazy, ignorant people, who hate work, only want to live off government handouts. The Republicans knew that white Southerns would flock to them in droves using this sorry bogus strategy.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Part 1: Can Progressive Roots Grow in Georgia Red Clay?

How they should address conservative leaning Georgians about Progressive Issues

This is about how people who hold progressive ideas about government, economics, or the world at large can talk to folks who don’t already share these ideas. If I have any competence to write about this, it probably comes from this: I grew up in a fairly conservative family in a small town where everyone (as far as I knew) held pretty much the same opinions, and the only diversity of opinion was between the Baptist and the Methodists.

As a deacon of a small-town, relatively conservative church in Macon Co, during this time, my own political and social convictions have moved more to the (moderately) right but I have continued to love, trust, and work with people who hold far more progressive ideas.

So here's my take on how progressives could present their case to those who are no way have anything in common with them

I find many of my progressive friends becoming increasingly frustrated as they try to talk to people who disagree (like myself) for instance. It is even more difficult for progressives if people don’t even want to think about an issue, but trust elected officials to do the right thing about the issues of the state. Other progressives don’t even try to talk to people outside of their movement for social change, because they are so convinced that everyone outside their group holds opposing viewpoints. The problem, of course, is that this isolates progressives from many of the people who they need as supporters, and who might very well become supporters if they were helped to understand the issues. Most people are not likely to have their minds changed by mass demonstrations or protests unless they can understand the reasons for the actions. This is not to discount the importance of direct actions such as vigils, protests, street theater, marches, etc.

However, such actions serve to create discussion and to demonstrate to the power-holders, the size and commitment of the people who want change. Such actions will never change the opinions of the average person on the street unless progressives can follow up the action with good discussions of the ideas and convictions that led them to the action.

Remember, most people get their news from the mass media, especially television. They will always see only the most extreme parts of any direct action, and never hear any explanation of why people are protesting. This is pretty simple: TV stations and networks and newspapers are owned by the same people and companies who own other businesses like (News Corp, GE for example). The mass media are not likely ever to be the progressives ally in telling of the need for social change or explaining any issue from a progressive viewpoint. Forget it! You progressives must be prepared to talk to people who are not part of the movement; the media are not going to do it for you.

Whom Are You Trying to Change, and Why?

Most of the progressives will be talking to their neighbors, co-workers, family members, and the occasional person who asks he/she a question during some kind of direct action. It probably is not helpful to begin to try to change the attitudes and ideas of people he/she don’t know. They can sometimes reach a larger audience through letters to the editor of our local newspapers, but that serves mainly to awaken public discussion. It is through talking to people and groups of which they are a part that they can probably change the most people. However, almost everyone who holds progressive ideas can find someone who holds different ideas. Focus on the people and groups around you. Just because people aren’t willing to walk a picket line with you, don’t assume that they don’t agree. It may be that they have very good reasons for not taking a particular action and are expressing themselves in ways that you don’t know.

Get to Know the People You are Talking To

In focusing on the people around you, the first thing to do is to listen to them, care about them, and learn about and share their concerns. If you don’t care enough about them to hear their concerns, why should they waste their time listening to yours? Almost everyone, no matter how uneducated or politically conservative, can spot a phony. If your care for them and their concerns is not genuine, they will recognize it immediately and probably reject your ideas in the process. Most people change their political and social ideas only very slowly, and only in the context of shared experiences with people whom they trust and care about. They are not going to trust and care about people who don’t trust and care about them.

Every community has its own set of special events and local groups that are an important part of that community’s life. It is often important to be a part of community center fund-raisers, church suppers, high-school athletic events, and other events. These are the events by which small town communities identify themselves. If progressives expect people to care about their special events for progressive causes, then they need to show some interest in many other such events that have no consequences for social change whatsoever. Participating in such events helps to prevent those who hold progressive ideas from being seen as too “different” or as not a participating member of the community. This is an important part of establishing trust.

Progressives also need to confront their own class-based attitudes toward those who hold more conservative ideas or are not so politically active. Those who were raised in progressive or highly educated homes need to be especially careful about the things which separate them from the people with whom they need to talk. Too often progressives assume that people who do not share their concerns, passions, and political ideas are either uneducated or ignorant. Now a progressive would probably say, if they (conservatives) were only smart enough to see things from our point of view, they would agree with it. It doesn't work that way! . They need to be careful of their class and educational biases. If they are talking to people who have less education and more limited experiences, they should not expect them to share their worldview.

The end of Part 1. Part 2 coming monday

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Confederate Flag: Love it or Hate it!

When I was working and traveling around Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee & the rural areas of these states, I would encounter the confederate flag in many ways. On bumper stickers, hanging on some one's house, a confederate flag bikini, T shirts. I never asked anyone about why they wear/have this flag, but I'm wondering is there a way for it not to be seen as racist. I'm sure some people have the idea it's a way to show a sense of southern pride, is where one is from.

Growing up, I never really cared about what the confederate flag meant or what it stood for. I always used to look up at it & kept on going.

The Confederate Flag is by far the most divisive symbol that divides black, white, conservative, liberal, North, South, etc

To some African Americans, the flag is seen as a sign of racism, oppression and believes that anyone who flies it still supports racism. To whites the flag is seen as showing southern pride, tradition. Many had ancestors who fought in the Civil War, & so that's why many of them wave, fly & support the confederate flag.

Now let me tell you, there are a lot of African Americans who support the flag. These supporters in the eyes of other African Americans are called House N****r or a sell out to his or her race.

A little bit of history for you: As many as 90,000 blacks, slave and free, were employed in some capacity by the Confederate army. The majority of these men fall into two categories, as military laborers or body servants. The fact that some Southern blacks might have played an important role for the South is a very controversial issue. Many have avoided the difficult task of linking any blacks to the Southern war effort.

During the course of the Civil War, this flag represented Southern rebellion and defiance to the United States Constitution. According to the anti-defamation league, although some Southerners see the flag simply as a symbol of Southern pride, it is often used by racists to represent white domination of blacks and Jews. The flag remains a subject of controversy because some Southern states still fly the flag from public buildings or incorporate it into their state flag’s design. Racists also use the flag as an alternative to the American flag.

The confederate flag is still a very powerful symbol. In 2002, then Gov Roy Barnes led a successful effort to change Georgia's state flag, which then prominently featured the Confederate battle cross.

And for that, he paid a heavy price.

In their first chance to vent their anger, white voters in rural areas turned out in record numbers to vote out Mr. Barnes in one of the most stunning upsets that year. The governor had been considered one of the brightest lights in the Democratic Party, a gifted speaker, moderate, strong on education and a possible contender for vice president or even president. A lot of white voters felt Barnes was not on their side when he pushed to change it. Back in 1993, Zell Miller tried to do what Barnes successfully did & it almost cost him re-election for a second term as governor.

Over in Mississippi where they held a referendum to determine the flag's fate, the flag won overwhelmingly, with six majority Black counties, Blacks voted by the barest of margins to dump the old flag. But in three Mississippi Delta counties, with a heavy Black majority, the vote was to retain the flag.

I had someone emailed me (which is why I writing this post) saying the Confederate flag should be seen as a symbol of both the black and white heritage of the Southern States. The repression of the blacks is part of this heritage along with whites.

All I know is this: There are staunch supporters of the confederate flag, while they are those who are hell-bent on removing the controversial flag from the Fabric American forever. There are blacks who are supporters of the rebel flag, but they are very few. Whites, especially here in the south with any linkage to the Civil War will always continue to support & advocate that the flag is not really meant to be a symbol of racism, oppression & bigotry.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Part 3: Do Georgia Democrats have what it takes to Play Ball Again here in the Rural Red?

Regaining the Working-Class Vote

Why Georgia Democrats are losing the blue-collar support and how they can win it back.

The Democratic Party has had 3 months to digest the gut-wrenching statewide election in the state's history. Its like this: the party must win back middle-class, working whites to regain political control of the state from the Republican Party. It doesn't need anymore progressives, it needs no more liberals. It needs more Bluecollar, middle class, working class whites in order to be a player again in the near future.

There is a significant challenge for the Georgia Democratic Party. The party needs to “reframe” its message and become “better communicators,” but its principles will remain the same — protection of those less fortunate, protection of the rights of the middle class, ethics in government and “family values.” Yes "FAMILY VALUES", which isn't synonymous with the democrats nowadays.

The Georgia Republican Party's strong suit is “packaging and marketing,” while “substance” is the Democratic Party's strong suit. You can package something and make people believe it is the best thing that ever happened, but when they open the carton, they are going to be surprised. The party need to spend the bulk of its time and energy expended to attract white working-class families and regain their trust. No dems should not ignore the issues of minorities, which they need to remain viable, but that to win elections, they're going to have to reclaim white voters, particularly in central & southern Georgia, as well increase their margins up in the North Georgia Mountains.

The most powerful piece of the Democratic Party lies in 159 counties before, the most important piece appeared to lie in Atlanta with the leadership, I don't believe that. They need to going back to the grass roots philosophy that was the strength of the party during its hey day. Now I don't believe the party won't run away from President Barack Obama in 2012 and will work to get him as many votes as possible, but the reality is that Georgia is one of the “reddest” states in the country.

Democrats have been trying to woo blue-collar workers back into the fold ever since 2002 when they began to leave the Georgia Democratic Party in droves due to the unpopular decision by then Gov Barnes to remove the confederate flag among other things. I would read how former candidates like Jimmy Carter, Lester Maddox, Zell Miller mobilized white working-class “hard hats” during their runs for governor. But for modern day Georgia Democrats their attempts have been largely trumped by Republican strategists like Derrick Dickey, Nick Ayers, etc who understood better than their Democratic counterparts how to tap into working-class values—particularly distrust of government.

Part of the problem as I see it & I'm only 28 years old, is that many democrats on the left side of the political spectrum still view the white working class in terms of stereotypes left over from the ’60s, you know, the popular image of all workers as deeply reactionary "Archie Bunkers," of All in the Family, (which is one of my favorite shows) as I put it. In fact, workers today are neither as intolerant nor as angry as their classic profile would indicate. Still, there are certain perspectives that bind workers together and inform their political philosophy: work, community, and country.

Perhaps the central theme for a Democratic candidate for governor, senator, etc is figuring out how to attract some of the 30-40%% of blue collar workers who might vote for the republican candidate. Remember how Howard Dean got in trouble when he awkwardly addressed the issue when he referred to the need to attract guys with "Confederate flag bumper stickers." Dean used the wrong metaphor, but he was correct in identifying a key election challenge for the Democrats.

It's probably almost certain if the Democrats can make significant inroads in this split-down-the-middle white male blue-collar vote, the Democratic candidate would win the next election. How does a Democratic candidate stand up for universal rights , including for women and minorities and for a secular society, and still be able to access at least some percentage of that blue-collar, white male vote that's already leaning republican because of insecurities about those very issues?

Well ,I think that the Democrats can appeal to the blue-collar man or the (I won't call him a Nascar Dad), but the blue-collar voter, male voter by saying: You've been exposed to a giant hoax, and here's what the hoax is. It is offering you a make-believe candied apple with one hand and picking your pocket with the other hand. And take your own feelings back. They're yours. And put them behind a vote for someone who's going to really solve your problems. Set about seriously setting up a domestic agenda that makes a difference to you. Now that is something I would say.

And you wonder how Republicans have dominated statewide contests for almost a decade. Contests in recent years whether its for State Rep or Secretary of State is that probably one-quarter of all working-class white males voters have left the Georgia Democratic Party in the last decade, and who knows how many middle-class white male voters left during the same period. White voters often feel crowded out of the Party because of the Democrats’ emphasis on affirmative action & issues facing minorities.

With the right candidates, though, Democrats can demonstrated that they can attract this disgruntled, yet still powerful, constituency. Working class whites, are the Democratic swing vote. They are the Democrats’ equivalent of outer suburbanites for the Republican party (who were the reason so many Republicans were terrified of a Oxendine candidacy). A candidate who is being rejected in a primary 3-1 by a swing segment of the primary electorate may well have real problems in the general election holding on to them.

So in 2012 & 2014 & beyond, democrats here in Georgia have to find candidates who can appeal to this powerful voting bloc. Carol Porter, DuBose Porter, JB Powell, Carl Camon are just a few can talk the talk & walk the walk when it comes to appealing to Bluecollar voters.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Jason Carter: The Future can't come fast enough

Having been in the State Senate for just over a year, Jason Carter (right, along with his grandfather Jimmy Carter) has filled the leadership vacuum that haven't been seen or felt in the Georgia State Senate since Robert Brown was elected minority leader in 2005.

The grandson of former president James E. (Jimmy) Carter, the younger Carter have shown what he might be capable of down the road in Georgia Politics if he should seek higher office

Carter's Hope Scholarship alternate to the Georgia GOP'S includes awarding a full tuition scholarship to high-achieving students whose families earn up to $140,000 a year.

The plan also expands the proposed Zell Miller Scholarship so that it would cover tuition, books and fees for students who graduate in the top 3 percent of their high schools.

His plan also includes a county-by-county look at what effects Hope have in each of Georgia's 159 counties.

My hat's off to Senator Carter for offering a alternate to the disastrous proposal offered by the republicans that will no doubt affect students who live in Rural Georgia, as well as those living in the poverty stricken Urban areas of the state

Its nice to see a ray of sunshine from the democratic party & its from a man who I think should consider running for minority leader of the State Senate in 2012. This is a example of what leadership is supposed to be, do you hear me Robert Brown?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Interlude: Do Georgia Democrats have what it takes to Play Ball Again here in the Rural Red?

The fact is this: BLUECOLLAR, WHITE WORKING CLASS VOTERS is the key for the Democratic Party here in Georgia.

And to get a chunk of those voters, democrats have got to find candidates can that talk that can relate to them, someone who talk the working man's rep.

We should think about this. The blue-collar vote is huge. Skilled and semi-skilled manual jobs are on the decline, of course, but if we count as blue-collar those workers without a college degree then blue-collar voters represent the majority of voters in this state. They are the real swing vote in Georgia. "Their loyalties tend to shift from election to election and in so doing determine the winners in any political race, but here in Georgia, that have has not been the case in a couple of years

Among blue-collar voters, more men than women favor republicans, so we can ask what's going on with the men. It might seem that their pocketbooks say one thing, their votes another, but could it be that, by some good fortune, blue-collar men are actually better off than we imagine? Right now in this current economic climate, No, that can't be it!

Even if poor blue-collar men were pro-republican in general, we might at least assume that they would oppose the Georgia GOP's massive program of tax cuts to corporations & the well-to-so if they thought it favored the rich? If we did, then we'd be wrong again. So, what's going on? Should we throw out the old classic Clinton-era explanation for how we all vote: "It's the economy, stupid"? Not right away. Maybe the blue-collar man who favors that tax cut is thinking "the economy stupid" but only in the short term. He badly needs even the small amounts of money he'll get from a tax cut to repair his car or contribute to the rent. But then many working-class men labor decade after decade at difficult jobs to secure a future for their children. So if they think long term as a way of life, why are they thinking short-term when it comes to their vote?

Part 2: Do Georgia Democrats have what it takes to Play Ball Again here in the Rural Red?

There seems to be a growing sentiment, that Democrats need to win elections in the rural areas of the state to control the political future of the state of Georgia. That is true! But there is little political wisdom in going about how to do just that.

The fact is, just looking at the numbers for house seats, Senate seats or votes for governor, that Democrats can't control Georgia state politics without victories down in the isolated regions of the state, including the black belt rural areas. However, the rural region is an important bloc of votes and is winnable for Democrats. There is little reason not to compete for rural voters.

Republicans are strong rural Georgia. Despite that, the suburbs of North Atlanta are the base for Republicans here in the state. It is the one region of the state where Republican representation in the House and Senate seems solid. The other, formerly a traditional Democratic region, now controlled by Republicans in central & southern portion of the state were & can become competitive for Democrats once again

Many Democratic activist & pundits seem inclined to write-off rural Georgia to eternal Republican control. That's not a way to become competitive in Georgia if dems start to take that kind of mindset A Howard Dean type inspired DNC 50 State Strategy is a much better approach. (159 county approach). It will take more time and resources to show impressive results. It should be given more time and a much higher political priority

In many Georgia rural counties, the Democratic Party lacks the infrastructure needed to win campaigns. Areas that have strong democratic parties across rural Georgia should partner with a struggling rural Democratic Party to help them raise money, develop public relations operations, candidate recruitment programs and GOTV machinery. Small contribution of resources in those areas should show dramatic results in future elections. The Georgia Republican base was largely developed in a very similar fashion. The fat cats of the Republican Right poured tens, hundreds of thousands of dollars into local Republican Parties, while local Democratic Parties lacked outside help from State Democrats

Depending how redistricting goes, Democrats need to help local Democratic Parties take on Republican incumbents like Tony McBrayer (R) Tifton, Greg Morris (R) Vidalia, Mark Hatfield (R-Waycross), Johnny Grant (R-Milledgeville), etc In 2008, the unexpected strong showing of Barack Obama here in Georgia could would have helped democrats possibly take back some of those seats, but recruitment was lackluster.

A Democratic political message that highlights economic bread and butter issues in a populist form can help Democrats win all across Georgia. Democrats need to aggressively publicize Republican hypocrisy on moral issues. Democrats need to crusade against legal and illegal corruption in government. It is important for Democrats to respond to Republican lies on issues like guns, religious freedom and taxes. Georgia Democrats need to define themselves instead of letting Republicans define them.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Interlude before moving to Part 2 of: Do Georgia Democrats have what it takes to Play Ball Again here in the Rural Red?

The Republican Party here in Georgia, all will agree, is at an all-time high, while the Democratic Party, most will agree, is at an all-time low. Some have even gone as far to say (like myself) that the Democratic Party is collapsing, falling apart, or imploding. Is this an accurate assessment or just the wishful thinking of partisan activists?

Democrats typically were the majority in the state government, the very time Georgia rose from the ashes of the civil war to the south's major superpower, the leading progressive state in the south

Look, Democrats have to begin with a bottom-line admission to themselves: They LOST the 2002, 2006 & 2010 elections, therefore, there is something wrong with them that needs changing. The Republicans do not have to change their strategy because they are winning--at the state level, in the statehouses, at congress, and everywhere else that the parties contend.

Democrats have lost 3 straight statewide elections for governor. And the only reason Perdue won in 2002 was the public was punishing Barnes and the Democrats for 1) Changing the confederate flag & 2) Teachers were mad as hell--so it was not so much a win for them (GOP) as a loss for them (Dems). (So I thought). This means that THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH DEMOCRATS. It is not the Republicans who are broken. Dems are the ones who have to change. Our state does not accept our vision and our values, which they mistake as those of the National Democratic Party. So Dems (who are dominated by the progressives) have to redefine what it means to be a progressive in a state in which liberalism was never a popular option (if it ever was). To give you the short answer up-front, what this means is that the Democratic Party needs to become a populist party again rather than a liberal party. I've said in the past & most recently that it needs to stop shunning consevrative democrats 7 begain to embrace them regardless of their views & positions.

Some Georgia Democrats nowadays want to start a race for governor, senator or any other statewide race by conceding huge parts of the state to the Republicans. Of the 159 counties, probably 60% of them are so red that Democrats do not even bother to field a campaign there, they concede them without a fight. There are probably 40-45 counties that I wou;d consider a potential swing county, where by definition dems have to fight the Republicans. In other words, Democrats have to fight Republicans for votes even in the blue-counties, while the Republicans can take more than half the state for granted without having to defend their voting base. This puts the Democrats in the position of a football team who must play the entire game only in their half of the field--such a team cannot win many games in the long run. If Democrats are going to be born again as a majority party, they have to speak to the whole state again. . . . When Democrats choose not to compete on three-quarters of the Georgia Red Clay soil, they have no margin for error in statewide elections--and they're almost sure to be a permanent minority in the state legislature. Meanwhile, Republicans squeeze them on the turf they still hold. A majority party must be a state party, not a regional one.

Now we have three options; three approaches for democrats to turning this all around:

1) They can insist they were right all along and stay the course, confident that the voters will come to their senses in the next election cycle

2) They can wait and hope for the Ga Republicans to self-destruct due to their supposed extremism or overreach that, they like to assume, puts them out-of-touch with average Georgians

3) They can change something about themselves that will make Democrats more attractive to at least some of those red-county voters who are presently voting against them

First about the supposed extremism of the Republicans and their potential to self-destruct. Some of us made this exact same argument starting in 2005 when republicans took total control of the state legislature. We were SURE that Georgians would not tolerate the right-wing policies of the GOP. Well, we were totally full of crap. Perdue defeated democrat Mark Taylor overwhelmingly in 2006 and went on to lead a "Georgia" conservative revolution that is still steam-rolling along with the 2010 knockout of Georgia Dems. So if you are waiting for the Republicans to self-destruct, don't hold your breath..........FOR NOW!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Part 1: Do Georgia Democrats have what it takes to Play Ball Again here in the Rural Red?

Now, what does this have to do with the future of the Georgia Democratic Party? Well, my point is simple: if the Democratic Party is to have a future, it must find it in the unifying, post-identity group politics and values of populist rural Georgia. They need to champion conservative social values; wrap themselves without embarrassment in the American flag; slather on a healthy dose of religion; and leaven it all with the traditional liberal concerns about economic justice. In other words, if the Democratic Party wants to flourish in the near-term, it had better seek out the lost Populists among it former coalition partners and invite them back into the big-tent. Otherwise, Republicans will continue to dominate our state politics.

The inability to pick up seats on the local level for state senator & rep going back to 2006 is due to not paying attention to rural white working class voters concerns down state in part to not addressing social and cultural concerns. We ignore those concerns at our peril. At the same time, though, there has been a view that we can override those concerns (up to a point) by appealing to the white working class on the economy. That alone will not enable democrats to begin picking up more support among this reliable voting bloc.

Consequently, it's important to develop an economic agenda that appeals strongly enough to the white working class to be able to pull some of its members into our column. DEMS DON'T HAVE TO WIN THEM ALL, JUST SOME WILL MAKE THE DIFFERENCE IN A ELECTION. In developing this agenda, I would argue, dems have to swallow hard and acknowledge a couple of daunting obstacles that stand before them.

For one, policy agenda of economic liberalism -- modest increases in the minimum wage, labor law reform, improvements in education and in job training, financial aid for college students, universal health care is necessary to the economic security of non-college households in general, be they white or minority. But the forms of help that it offers to the white working class aren't large enough and wouldn't flow into their hands quickly enough to persuade them to dems us as an obvious slam-dunk alternative to the Republicans.

For the other: For all the talk about economic populism, Democrats no longer have the ability to make a truly effectively economically populist appeal to the white working class. I'm talking about the ability to do it, not the desire to do it. There are certainly Democrats who lack the desire. But even those who have the desire nevertheless lack the ability.

In order for an appeal to economic populism to win over its audience, it must do more than attack the big guys. Rather, it must address three assertions to its audience. The first: You are the backbone of the state's economy. The second: The big guys are making it hard for you to make a living because they are thwarting your ability to act as the backbone of the economy. The third: In your struggle with the big guys, we're (Democrats) are on YOUR side -- and here's how we're going to help...

But even economic liberals here in the state can no longer make such an appeal. They can't do it because they won't make the first assertion, and thus won't utter the last 12 words of the second assertion. They could say these things in the past. In the agrarian days, they could go before a crowd of farmers and tell them: It is the sweat of your brow that feeds and clothes our nation. In the industrial age, they could say to factory workers: It is your muscle that drive the wheels of our mines and mills. They could echo the words of "Solidarity Forever. "It is you who plow the prairies, build the cities, dig the mines... -- without your brain and muscle, not a single wheel can turn. Today, though, if Democrats stand before the white working class, they can't even make a proper beginning: YOU are the backbone.

Democrats can't say it because they don't believe it. What they do believe is something quite different: We now live in the age of human capital. Non-college workers, be they white or people of color, be they union members or otherwise, lack the crucial human capital of a four-year degree. (After all, the gap between college earnings and non-college earnings is much larger than it used to be.) The economy is now a knowledge economy, and higher education is a crucial source of knowledge, and so how can non-college Georgia workers be its backbone?

To go beyond their base and into the white working class, Democrats also have to be willing to go beyond a couple of their assumptions about what belongs in the liberal economic agenda. The first step for Democrats is to acknowledge that there is a problem.

One point on which all Democrats need to agree is that the party needs a red-state strategy, Georgia version of the DLC (Democratic Leadership Council).

Dems have to find candidates that are able to talk to, not at working class voters of this state. The last election, Roy Barnes did try to talk to working class folks, but with the anti-"D" fever so strong & the fact the RGA spent millions in attacking Barnes thwarted any attempt he had in appealing to this bloc of voters.

The time for excuses are no more. Where the Democrats are failing to connect, the tea party is succeeding. That rising conservative movement has been extraordinarily good at tapping into the fury of families not only here in Georgia, but across the nation, who are neither rich nor poor.

Democrats have failed to relate to white working-class voters. Black working-class voters never abandoned the party, but the percentage of working-class whites who identified as Democrats fell over a 10 year span in this state.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Obama's Citizenship Status makes it way to the Georgia Legislature

Time to tell it like it is.............

Once again, the President’s citizenship are up for debate, this time by State Rep Mark Hatfield (R-Waycross) who filed a bill yesterday to require the president & vice -president to show proof of their US Citizenship before being placed on the ballot here in Georgia in 2012. And what makes it so sad is that 94 Georgia State GOP Reps signed onto this non-sense! This so-called issue has really worn out its welcome, yet it persists, a tumor that continues to eat away at the President’s legitimacy in the eyes of his detractors. One thing I don’t think anyone would call it is an example of people having a right to their own opinion.

It has been said, many times, that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion but not his or her own facts. The President’s citizenship AND his religious beliefs are what they are. There is no debate here, you may have a right to your own opinion, but to cling to a mistaken notion is to willingly believe something that is not true. In spite of this simple concept, House Speaker David Ralston, said he would not stop committee-level debate of a bill to require President Barack Obama to provide proof of his American birth in order to get on the ballot next year. I should hope that an honest republican elected public official would do his best to set the record straight.

I consider telling the truth and the ability to educate the public to be valuable assets in a public official.

Again, this is not an objectionable claim (though one could debate whether Republicans have effectively listened to their constituents over the years). But when many loud, obnoxious public figures and angry citizens falsely accuse the President of being a secret Muslim outsider who illegally obtained his position and plans to transform the country into some socialist utopia, one has to wonder when politicians on the right will finally stand up and keep the discourse sensible.

Of course, there is a very real political motive at work here, as such false notions eat away at the President’s clout and motivate an angry hive of potential Republican voters eager to oust the so-called "Manchurian candidate" in 2012. By allowing this false information to persist, Republicans implicitly suggest that the President is lying. The 94 Republican politicians are allowing themselves to go on record as not being part of the insanity of the so-called “birther” movement while still acting as if it is a legitimate alternative viewpoint.

Ignorance should be confronted, and the truth should come first. Only then can meaningful debate occur. But if the goal is to win cheap political victories and to keep real issues out of the spotlight, then the logical thing to do is encourage and advance this ignorance.

Now despite my disapproval with the president on some things he has done as president, President Obama made a big deal out of trying to be post-partisan and uniting the country. Rather than demonize him by using the very same partisan tricks that he made every effort to rise above, perhaps the 94 Republicans that signed on to this bill can try being responsible for once and not even consider such a vote. Keep such miniscule, non-issues out of the public discourse.

By allowing these rumors and misconceptions to thrive, Georgia Republicans are not contributing to a stronger, more united country that stands with its President and can have mature discussions about the issues that really matter. These emotional, instinctive and unsupported arguments distract and divide in a time when the country, as well as the state desperately needs to move forward

This is not the kind of leadership that Hatfield & the 94 republican co-sponsors should be displaying when so many citizens have decided to give his party a chance to turn things around.

Hatfield calls himself a "CONSTITUTIONALIST", NOT A Birther. Mr Hatfield by filing such ridiculous piece of legislation such as requiring proof of citizenship by the president & vice-president (let's keep it real here, this is all about the president & nothing else), you officially make yourself a BIRTHER! Plain & Simple. Bobby Franklin, you are in the same boat.

This man has been president for 3 years 7 we are still talking about whether or not he is a citizen of the US. Obama was born in 1962 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Hawaii became a state (59th) in 1959. So case closed! But for some reason those on the lunatic fringe of the right continue to say that he was born in Kenya, hell some have said that he was born in Indonesia. Enough Already! And you can well expect Hatfield to appear on a few national shows such as Fox News, PBS, CNN, etc.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Albany Mayor Wilie Adams will not seek re-election in 2011

Yesterday Albany Mayor Willie Adams announced he will not seek a another term as mayor of Albany.

In Monday’s press conference Adams said he was proud to serve as Albany’s mayor - but believed it was time to serve his own family. "My wife, Connie, my children and my grandchildren, have often suffered because the people of Albany have come first," he said.

Adams became the first ever African American mayor in the city's history.

No candidate has announced intentions to run for the mayoral's post. Possibilities include City Commissioner John Howard, State Rep Winfred Dukes, Commission Chair Jeff Sinyard, ex-State Senator Michael Meyer von Bremen just to name a few.

The Audacity of Republican Hypocrisy

In his book "What's the Matter With Kansas?", which is a must read, historian Thomas Frank described how conservatives use social issues such as gay marriage to divert attention from other issues and drum up popular support for conservative causes. The outcome of the recent midterm provides another chapter in the book. Even before President Barack Obama took office, several prominent and highly paid conservative talk show hosts said that they hoped he would be a "failure." Since that time, they and others have served up an unending frenzy of distortions and fear-mongering aimed at furthering their personal, financial or political interests.

Republicans are attacking Obama for the very positions and policies their party recently embraced

The nation has been told that Mr. Obama is a "socialist" and a would-be dictator, largely on the basis of the so-called "individual mandate" in the health care bill. That ignores the fact that the individual mandate was first proposed by Republicans and the conservative Heritage Foundation as a more market-oriented alternative to a government-run, single-payer system. Back in 1993, 20 Republican senators introduced the Health Equity and Access Reform Act, which the respected, nonpartisan Kaiser Foundation, a health care study group, has shown in a side-by-side comparison to have striking similarities to the health care bill passed last year. Both have an individual mandate. Both ban exclusions for pre-existing conditions, call for insurance exchanges and offer subsidies for those who cannot afford to buy policies.

Even more on point is the insurance mandate program put in place in Massachusetts by then-Republican Gov. Mitt Romney. That many polls have Mr. Romney as the front-runner for the Republican Party nomination for 2012 at the very time that the Obama program was being opposed by every single Republican member of Congress is testimony to the intellectual dishonesty created by partisan politics. The four Republican co-sponsors of the 1993 individual mandate who are still in the Senate, and even Mr. Romney (who the libertarian Cato Institute cited as having created the "prototype" for the Obama program) now rail against the same principle they had proposed and that Mr. Romney signed into law. And most recently, the language in the Republicans' Pledge to America used to describe an alternative agenda to the president's could easily have been given in any Obama speech during last year's debate.

The nation has been told that Mr. Obama is a reckless spender and he is slammed for the TARP program, the auto company bailouts and the stimulus. That the TARP program was created by President George W. Bush, and that work on the auto industry bailout and a stimulus program began in the closing days of the Bush administration, has been lost in the din of battle. Most of the same members of the opposition who denounce the cost of the Obama program voted for the Bush prescription drug benefit that is now projected to cost more than $1 trillion. The Obama program is also now projected to cost $1 trillion, but the Congressional Budget Office "projects" that, unlike Mr. Bush's drug program, Mr. Obama's plan should decrease the federal budget deficit over 10 years. We'll see about that

Remember, too, that the same opposition that warns against the cost of Mr. Obama's health care program approved, almost without any debate, funds for the ill-conceived invasion of Iraq, which is now projected to cost at least $2 trillion to $3 trillion when all costs are taken into account. These same budget deficit hawks became the first in American history to cut taxes in a time of war, funding the wars on borrowed money. They are the same people who inherited a large budget surplus and produced eight successive years of large budget deficits and a collapsed economy, which they handed off to Mr. Obama

Like any government official, President Obama should be subject to criticism. Bringing health care up during the middle of an extreme financial crisis was certainly bad politics, for which principle he and the Democrats are paying a very, very heavy price for. Whether the health care program or the financial regulation overhaul will work are open questions (although the verdicts on TARP and the auto bailout seem favorable). Whether unemployment would be much higher or whether the economy would have collapsed without the stimulus are also open questions.

The political system is, in fact, dysfunctional and in need of massive change, as many of the voices of frustration and outrage rightly declaim. However, if that change is to take the form of a hypocritical opposition that says or does anything to regain a majority, and if public discourse is to be led by those who use half-truths, ad hominem attacks and hysteria, then heaven help us
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