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Friday, July 28, 2006

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Stupidest Georgia Politician

There are many who would point out the redundancy in that header, and they wouldn't be wrong. This is most definitely a contest that will field a large group.

It would be easy to start with Zell, if he weren't just one in a long line going back farther than I can remember - maybe even to Button Gwinnett (look it up). But what do you expect from a state that's public education system is always in the bottom three?

Here are a few from just yesterday, in no particular order, when Georgia held its gubenatorial and congressional primaries.

1) Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D) 4th District
Although her scuffle with the Capitol Police over the winter garnered a lot of attention, back here that was only another "Oh, that Cynthia" moment in the life of this outspoken suburban Atlanta Democrat. She is very popular in her district, probably the most liberal and ethnically diverse in Georgia. Most people admire her "straight talkin' " attitude, and believe she is one of the few people who actually speaks the truth in Congress.

Cindy Sheehan and other Gold Star Mothers were at her post-primary election party last night to lend their support, and if you consider yourself a good liberal, like I do, it is very hard not to stand with her. She's been outspoken about the war in Iraq, and was the first in Congress to raise questions about the Administration's prior knowledge regarding 9/11. She also brings a lot to her community. So while many in Washington consider her boisterous and ineffective, not to mention a loose cannon, most at home admire her.

Because she enjoys a certain popularity, she did little to campaign except a few yard signs. She skipped debates with her other Democratic challengers in the lead up to the primary. She said she had commitments in the community, and in one debate in particular, she was just a no-show.

Only she and the media were surprised by yesterday's vote. After not getting the required majority (50% + 1 vote), she is now in a run-off for the Democratic nomination for her congressional seat against Hank Johnson, a county politician making his first bid for national office. They finished only a couple of points apart.

So why, in particular, was this stupid? Well, her speech to her supporters when it became apparent she was not going to win outright, was angry and venemous. She attacked her colleagues in Congress, in the Democratic Party, and, of course, the media for her failure. She didn't acknowledge her own mistakes during the campaign itself. No one expects her to apologize for her actions in Washington. She doesn't have to. She's Cynthia. But maybe she should have admitted to having made mistakes during the campaign and take some responsibility. Stop blaming others for your bad judgement, Cynthia. Stupid thing to do in a close race.

2) Ralph Reed (R) yes, that one
Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition and state Republican Campaign Chairman, got endorsements from Rudy Giuliani and Sean Hannity in his bid for the Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia. With all his name recognition, he lost, early and significantly, in a race that was not nearly as close as people thought it would be, to Casey Cagle, a member of the state house from the Atlanta suburbs. Despite his huge war chest, he could not deliver votes for himself.

In a very negative campaign, he ignored accusations about endorsing child labor in the Third World, and responded to criticism of his connection to the Abramoff/DeLay scandal with "I was mislead" about the money and blamed the media of associating him with wrongdoing. Like many modern politicians, he believed what people were telling him about his chances and the mood of the electorate in trying to win in a statewide vote. Again, for not owning his own shortcomings, for wasting more than a million dollars on an unwinnable campaign, he is now yesterday's news. Good riddance.

3) Rep. Phil Gingrey (R) 11th District
Finally, the oddest comment of them all. Even if you take into account any unspoken context, this is the dumbest thing I have heard that a politician said in a long time. After Republicans in Congress wasted time drafting and debating a constitutional ammendment against gay marriage, Gingrey deflected criticism from many quarters that pointed out that given the Senate already defeated a similar measure, and with all the problems in Iraq, skyrocketing gas prices, Iran, North Korea and the Israel-Hezbollah War in the Middle East, this was a pointless excercise.

He said that constitutionally defining marriage as between a man and a woman "is perhaps the best message we can give to the Middle East and all the trouble they're having over there right now."

Wow. Er...interesting perspective. And stupid.

-PBG

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Red, White and Bullshit

There comes a time in the life of a country when it has to assess its deviation from its founding principles. (see previous post)

There is no more United States of America. Though star spangled banners still wave over land within our borders and bloodied sands a half-a-world away, we are a country united only by governance, states only by convenience, and America only by arrogance.

Once a nation of people pursuing dreams, we have tossed and turned ourselves into a dark nightmare of glorified symbols - flag, family and office - that throw ghostly shadows of torture, rape, murder and mayhem. An oath to protect and defend our Constitution has degraded into just another empty campaign promise. Bound by chains of fear disguised as security, our constricted constitutional artery robs us of liberty and stunts the growth of our country. Compromised in this way, out of our control, our symbols are in need of re-statement of purpose. To grow a stronger, more tolerant, forward-looking country, we must take back not just our government, but the symbols that represent her as well.

The Flag and the Lady

Does the Statue of Liberty represent our past, our present or our future? For those who came in the Golden Age of US immigration, she was a symbol of freedom and opportunity. By their labor and love for this country, we grew, and grew strong. And while we cannot speak of toiling for the benefit of our nation without acknowledging those who came here as slaves, the sweat of immigrants, both slaves and free people, charts the course of the history of our country. Whether it's the Chinese who built the railroads or the Irish or the Germans or the Jews or the Koreans, they eagerly came to our shores for a better life. All of those groups continue to contribute to our economic and cultural growth.

New growth comes from commitment to a better life, and no one demonstrates that more than the immigrant. That's why it's not enough to say, as GWB has so often lately, "We are a nation of immigrants." He may as well say "We are a nation of racists," or ,"We are a nation of over-eaters." While a stroke of the cultural brush touches all those groups, that's not who we are, and it is too easy for many to disown. If you are an American, there is one fact you must take ownership of with pride: we are not only a nation of immigrants, we are a nation built by immigrants.

Latin Americans, who incidentally have been Americans longer than just about anyone else, likewise will continue to contribute their ethic for hard work and a better life. To criminalize them or penalize them for wanting to have more is the same as punishing our country and will suffocate our growth. Without immigrants who truly care about their future, we will soon become a country without a future.

A country is defined by two important things: the constitution of its government and its people. When one or both become downgraded to mere symbols that we love/hate/encourage/abhor, then we stand for nothing, and a proud history of a country that squandered its potential becomes just another tragic fiction.

-PBG

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Happy Fourth of July

Behold the arrogance of King George:

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only. He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offencesFor abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands. He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:
Column 1Georgia: Button Gwinnett Lyman Hall George Walton
Column 2North Carolina: William Hooper Joseph Hewes John PennSouth Carolina: Edward Rutledge Thomas Heyward, Jr. Thomas Lynch, Jr. Arthur Middleton
Column 3Massachusetts:John HancockMaryland:Samuel ChaseWilliam PacaThomas StoneCharles Carroll of CarrolltonVirginia:George WytheRichard Henry LeeThomas JeffersonBenjamin HarrisonThomas Nelson, Jr.Francis Lightfoot LeeCarter Braxton
Column 4Pennsylvania: Robert Morris Benjamin Rush Benjamin Franklin John Morton George Clymer James Smith George Taylor James Wilson George RossDelaware: Caesar Rodney George Read Thomas McKean
Column 5New York: William Floyd Philip Livingston Francis Lewis Lewis MorrisNew Jersey: Richard Stockton John Witherspoon Francis Hopkinson John Hart Abraham Clark
Column 6New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett William WhippleMassachusetts: Samuel Adams John Adams Robert Treat Paine Elbridge GerryRhode Island: Stephen Hopkins William ElleryConnecticut: Roger Sherman Samuel Huntington William Williams Oliver WolcottNew Hampshire: Matthew Thornton