By Coley Ward
Oh Ralphie, what are they saying about you now? First they claimed that you were using money from one Indian casino to try and shut down another Indian casino. But that wasn't fair! You didn't know where that money came from. How could you?
Now they're saying that seven years ago you worked to defeat legislation that would have kept Chinese women from being forced into prostitution.
The Washington Post story says that in August 1999, your firm sent out a mailer to Alabama conservative Christians asking them to call then-Rep. Bob Riley (R-Ala.) and tell him to vote against legislation that would have made the U.S. commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands subject to federal wage and worker safety laws.
The Northern Mariana Islands are located in the North Pacific Ocean, about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines. Chinese women go there to find jobs in textile factories. According to the IRS, garment production is by far the commonwealth's most important industry with the employment of 17,500 mostly Chinese workers, many of whom are paid wages lower than U.S. minimum wage.
A year before you sent out your mailer, a Department of the Interior report found that many of the Chinese women in the Northern Mariana Islands were "subject to forced abortions and that women and children were subject to forced prostitution in the local sex-tourism industry."
But you didn't know about that Department of the Interior Report! You didn't know about prostitution! You just knew that those Chinese women weren't learning to love the Lord. Just look at how the Post describes the mailer you sent to the Alabama Conservative Christians:
The Chinese workers, it added, "are exposed to the teachings of Jesus Christ" while on the islands, and many "are converted to the Christian faith and return to China with Bibles in hand."
See! "Bibles in hand"! You were just looking out for them. You were just doing the Lord's work. You didn't know anything about prostitution or abortions or anything like that. Just like you didn't know where the money you used to shut down that casino came from.
After all, you can't know everything.
By Coley Ward
The state Supreme Court has granted expedited review of the case to determine the constitutionality of the state's gay marriage ban.
The order reads as follows:
"The Motion to expedite this appeal is granted. The appellant is directed to file his briefs no later than 4:30 p.m., June 9, 2006. The appellees' briefs are to be filed no later than 4:30 p.m., June 19, 2006. It is further ordered that oral argument in this case be advanced to the calendar for June 27th, to be heard at 10 a.m. All the Justices concur except Hunstein, P.J., and Hines, J., who dissent. Melton, J., not participating."
By Coley Ward
Are you a conservative who loves rock and roll but despairs that all the great rock songs are liberal-leaning? Well take solace in this list of the 50 Greatest Conservative Rock Songs, compiled by National Review Online.
The list includes The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" at No. 1, along with the Beatles classic, "Taxman" and the Beach Boys' "Wouldn't It Be Nice", whose lyrics practically scream family values: "And then we'd be married / And then we'd be happy."
By Coley Ward
Gay rights group Georgia Equality is promising to fight the state's sequel to the gay marriage amendment. And they're playing dirty: they're going to educate us.
Georgia Equality Executive Director Chuck Bowen says his group -- which is behind the "we are your neighbors" billboards that have sprung up all over the city -- is prepared to spend whatever it takes to show Georgians that gay people are worthy of the same basic rights as straight people.
"We're going to inform the greater public about our everyday lives," Bowen says. "Our lives have been defined by the extremist right. People tend to think that we are these three-headed monsters. We are going to use this opportunity to let people know that we are really more alike than we are different."
Bowen says his group, which has an annual budget of $25,000 and claims more than 15,000 members, has already formed 17 teams of volunteers who are doing messaging, marketing and strategy.
To get involved with Georgia Equality, call 404-327-9898 or go to www.georgiaequality.org.
So I chatted with Steen Miles yesterday, who informed me that she's not only getting a better website, but she also just got an office on DeKalb Industrial Parkway. Looks like the big lady is a serious candidate -- and perhaps more of one than some of her primary opponents these days.
Thursday morning, she trekked down to St. Simons Island to speak at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce forum with Casey Cagle and Ralph Reed, the two Republican primary candidates for lieutenant governor. She says Greg Hecht confirmed and then cancelled last minute and the other candidates didn't bother. Then again, who would want to talk to a bunch of big box business suits?
But here's the best part: Three nights ago, Miles and some other candidates attended a "Meet the Candidates" forum in Dawsonville. Jim Martin sent his wife, Joan, in his place. When it was her turn to speak about her husband's campaign, she forgot what she was going to say and instead told the audience why she decided to marry him.
We'll try to find out what she said. In the meantime, Jimmy better start showing up at events.
Lieutenant governor candidate Ralph Reed just released a statement showing Sen. Casey Cagle (Reed's primary opponent) failed to vote for tort reform during the 2004 legislative session. Yet Cagle has campaigned that he's a supporter of tort reform.
So Ralph went digging.
He referenced some Senate votes in 2004 and a Cagle campaign e-mail to prove Cagle tried to kill tort reform by burying it in committees and leaving the floor during the vote. And according to a 2005 campaign disclosure report, Cagle accepted $10,000 in campaign cash from the past president of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association.
"Casey Cagle says one thing and does another," the statement says.
That doesn't sound familiar, Ralphie?
I'm sure Cagle's crew will throw something back pretty soon. Stay tuned É
By Coley Ward
This election season, CL is getting all high-tech with its political coverage. Usually, we hand out endorsements in print right before the primary and general elections. And weÕll do that again this year. But weÕre also going to feature podcasts of political debates and interviews on this blog.
Here we have an interview with Stacey Abrams (right), who is running for state representative in district 84. Ms. Abrams is a former Atlanta deputy city attorney and is now consulting for the Atlanta Development Authority. Check it out.
By Coley Ward
Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak has posted on his blog about what the Democrats need to do to make up ground in the upcoming congressional elections. According to Sajak, Dems should simply keep their mouths shut:
"I know a lot of people are advising you to go public with a coherent plan for the future because, they say, you have to run for something and not just against it. WRONG! By reminding voters of where you stand on national security, taxes and social issues, you'll blow it again. The trick is to lay low and let them slug it out and snipe at each other and sow their own seeds of doubt. Do not -- I repeat -- do not remind voters of the alternative."
See, this is the kind of sage political advice that you'll never hear out of Alex Trebek (because, you know, he's Canadian).
By Coley Ward
The Parents Court is now in session.
On Friday, May 12, the first group of parents went before Judge R. Joy Walker to plead to the charge of educational neglect, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and up to 30 days in jail.
The special court is just one part of a new approach Dekalb County is taking to hold parents accountable when their children cut school. Prior to their hearings, accused parents sat down with DeKalb Solicitor General Shawn Ellen LaGrua and told their side of the story. Some parents didn't have a reason why their kids weren't in school. Others said they just didn't have the time or resources to properly monitor their children.
Andrea Clark, a single mother with three school-age children and one toddler, says she has had trouble caring for her children since General Motors transferred her from Detroit to Atlanta to work in the company's Doraville plant one year ago. Shortly after the transfer, Clark got sick. Over the last year, Clark says she has been collecting disability while making three trips to the doctor every week for 2 1Ú2 hour rounds of radiation treatments.
Clark, whose children are 14, 12, 9 and 2 years old, says she doesn't have any family or friends in the area who she can turn to for help. "I have to rotate my oldest children to watch over the youngest one," Clark says.
LaGrua told Clark that wasn't going to cut it. The judge told Clark she needed to make arrangements for her children to attend school. Clark left the courtroom crying, wanting to care for her children and unsure how to do it.
Whew, boy! Getting caught up on a few Air Loaf podcasts -- working backwards.
A great show last weekend (ain't they all great shows?) featuring lieutenant governor candidate Jim Martin, Nickel and Dimed author Barbara Ehrenreich and David Zeiger, the former Atlantan who wrote and directed that great new documentary on soldiers who protested the Vietnam War (Sir! No Sir!).
I thought Martin was great: knowledgeable of state government -- even his political adversaries can't be considered enemies, he's such a thoroughly decent man. But I thought Greg Hecht, who's running against Martin in the Democratic primary, was good too, and we'll try to get another candidate, state Sen. Steen Miles, on the show later. What do you think?
It was interesting to me that the phone started ringing off the hook when we were talking economic populism with Barbara Ehrenreich. Politicians seem to shy away from this issue, but the people are hopping mad about it.
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