The most compelling statement about illegal immigration to come out of the statewide weekend debates belonged to Allen Buckley, libertarian candidate for lieutenant governor. A no-hoper, running at 7 percent in the latest Strategic Vision poll to Sen. Casey Cagle's 47 and Jim Martin's 39, Buckley doesn't have to worry about offending voters.
When the Atlanta Press Club moderator told Buckley he could ask a question of either of his opponents, the Libertarian turned to Republican Cagle, the frontrunner in the race.
"Illegal immigration is a real problem," said Buckley, a tax attorney from Smyrna whose regular-guy delivery is reminiscent of the fellow at work who solves the world's problems in between turns at the belt-sander.
"We all know the solution is to go after the employers, let's face it," Buckley said. "But Georgia can't go after just its employers because then Georgia employers will be disadvantaged relative to South Carolina, Alabama and Florida employers. It really takes a federal press to go after all of the employers simultaneously or virtually simultaneously."
He then asked Cagle directly, "If elected, will you commit to do everything reasonable within your power to press the federal government to aggressively pursue and penalize employers that hire illegal immigrants?"
A new season of our least popular American sport officially began last
month when Gov. Sonny Perdue appeared at the Division of Motor Vehicles
office with an entourage of government agents. It was then, in that
low-flung building above I-85, that Perdue announced a statewide crackdown
on undocumented workers who he said are illegally attempting to obtain
Georgia driver's licenses.
It was a general-election equivalent to the opening tip, the kickoff, the
leadoff hitter taking his first cut at a fastball, the strong-man contestant
hurling the hammer of Thor.
"Until Congress steps up," the governor said, "it looks like we're going
to be left to fight this battle."
Perdue said illegals are using fraudulent IDs to obtain jobs and drive on
Georgia's roads. And if that weren't contemptuous enough, the illegals have
taken the galling next few steps... of annihilating America.
"It is simply unacceptable," said the governor, "for people to sneak into
the country on Saturday, obtain a driver's license on Sunday, head to the
welfare office on Monday, and vote on Tuesday."
He said he would be asking the Legislature to designate funds ($900,000
to $1 million) to place Department of Driver Services (DDS) investigators in
the 10 highest-need driver-services facilities in the state to issue
warrants and arrest criminals who are trying to commit fraud.
Already riding the passage of a law-enforcement act to combat illegal
immigrants, the governor was again inflating the immigration issue in an
election year. Georgia's the No. 1 undocumented-worker destination in
the country, just as coincidentally immigration is the No. 1 issue for
Georgia voters, according to almost all of the polls, or at least according
to those who tell us about the polls.
State Rep. Tyrone Brooks, the Rev. James Orange and other African-American leaders are "Getting Out the Vote" this weekend, Oct. 27-29, as part of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials (GABEO) Annual Fall Conference in the Southeast town of Waycross.
"We're trying to get the intensity level up as we get closer to Election Day," says Brooks, president of GABEO. "We're going wherever we see people: churches, shopping centers, car washes, shoe-shine stalls. I just ask a simple question, 'Are you satisfied with the way things are going?'"
Health-care access and voting access are at stake in this election, Brooks says.
"As long as we have people in office who are more concerned about corporate entities than people we will continue with the status quo," the veteran civil rights activist says.
Speakers at this weekend's GABEO conference include the Rev. Joe Lowery, Dick Gregory, Charles Steele Jr., Helen Butler and clergy from around the state.
-- Max Pizarro
Welcome to the November Movie Porn-Title Challenge. From this list of movies opening in November in Atlanta, see how many porn titles you can construct.
The classic example of a "real" movie title inspiring a porn title is:
Saving Private Ryan = Shaving Ryan's Privates
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
A Good Year
Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing
Stranger Than Fiction
Come Early Morning
Fast Food Nation
This Film is Not Yet Rated
Let's Go to Prison
Deck the Halls
For Your Consideration
Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny
Wrestling with Angels
CL's endorsement issue gives sumo wrestlers a bad name. Check it out.
Other political stories in this week's paper may interest you:
(Our story on Hayes was published yesterday; the AJC followed today.)
And John Sugg's column: Blocking ballots: Forget Republicans' spin -- they don't want you to vote
The message is still the same.
But as he gets older, the Rev. Jesse Jackson's poetry may be getting better, more resonant with metaphor, more equal to the task of an ongoing American tragedy.
"There has been an awesome, stale, foul air," the reverend told the crowd of Mark Taylor supporters in the Loft on West Peachtree Tuesday night, his description of the country under Republican leadership.
Jackson took the stage after Taylor to boost the Democrats, who although hard charging around the country, seem stalled in Georgia. Jackson said the Dems have to focus on the issues that matter and not get bogged down in distractions.
For one, people need better-paying jobs.
"Sixty percent of all Georgia males make less than $20,000 per year," Jackson said. "There are one-and-a-half million people with no health insurance. If they get sick, they can't get treatment." Beyond the glamour of much of Atlanta, the gateway to the South, the people in Brunswick earn an average annual salary of $7,000, Jackson said.
It's a speech he's been giving for years, since before "Keep Hope Alive" in the 1980s. The stark American images come to the reverend as words in an old dirge, with no less pathos than before.
The poor. They work every day. They catch the early bus. They raise other people's children. They flip your bed when you're sick. And when they get sick, well, they simply can't afford to get sick.
Jackson made it real simple. Jobs and health care. Health care and jobs. The Republicans, Jackson said, have made an industry out of first-class jails and second-class schools. The Democrats have to speak out and act on jobs and health care or nothing.
In town with his Rainbow Coalition, Jackson also said Democrats have to come up with better ways to counteract voter fraud. "If they can't win," he said of the GOP, "they steal. In Georgia, the Republicans have been contemptuous of a court order against voter ID. It's going to be a dogfight, but we have to win some of these dogfights."
-- Max Pizarro
Guy Drexinger accepts that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution didn't endorse him last week instead of current Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine.
He's going to have to live with it, of course.
What really disturbs Drexinger, though, is the so-called paper of record's failure to print a single article about him or the insurance commissioner's race since he announced his candidacy two years ago. The paper merely dismissed him with a couple of quick strokes on the editorial page.
It's a fact that the Cobb County accountant/attorney made a mistake in 1995. He protected a client of his who was attempting to apply for a small-business loan while illegally concealing a side agreement for another loan.
It's not good.
But it's also a fact that Drexinger fessed up to wrongdoing.
He apologized at the time, and after a brief suspension Judge Steve Shuster appointed him as one of two assistant county guardians in Cobb County. In addition to running his own practice, he is charged with collecting the income of bipolar vets and the mentally disabled and paying their expenses. He also handles money for minors whose parents are deceased.
He's been doing that work for the past eight years.
"Those who know me best in Cobb County continue to trust me," Drexinger said this week. "I've learned from my mistakes. I made a couple of bad errors in judgment, and nothing like that has happened since."
This week Drexinger reluctantly admitted that he was not focused on the law at the time he failed to disclose the information about his client's loan. He was going through a rough time, watching his father die of Lou Gehrig's disease.
"I was not concentrating on being a lawyer," he says.
But he again takes full responsibility for the mistake, just as he did two years ago when he announced his intentions to run for insurance commissioner.
That's more than can be said of John Oxendine.
I remember talking to an old World War II working stiff from Missouri, the kind of guy whose proudest possession alongside the Bronze Star he won in Europe was a battered old photograph of Give 'Em Hell Harry.
This old guy loved Truman.
But if you really wanted to get him to talk passionately about the great statesmen of the 20th century, all you had to do was mention Adlai Stevenson, the two-time loser in his bid for the American presidency in the 1950s.
"I remember listening to Adlai make a speech once and I couldn't believe what I was hearing," this old Democrat told me. "I looked over at another member of the audience standing next to me." He caught the other man's eye, trusting he would see the same wonderment reflected back at the high level of American political rhetoric Stevenson was delivering. Instead the old timer saw the other man shaking his head in discouragement.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
The other man drew the palm of his hand across his head and said something to the effect that everything Stevenson was saying was going straight over the top.
The old guy I knew was still burned up over the exchange.
"I told this fellow, 'If this is going over your head, you must be dumb!'"
The last time Sherman lost a scrap was in Cobb County, when he tried to hit the Confederates at Kennesaw. This was tough country for Sherman, or more precisely for his men, 3,000 of whom died trying to lay siege to the Southern stronghold.
Cobb is also decidedly tough country for Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond, particularly on the east side of the county -- Newt Gingrich territory -- where the Republican incumbents in the statewide races figure to mop up.
Nonetheless, Thurmond was upbeat a week and a half ago as he went in to rally a small band of fellow Democrats whom the turned tide of national politics had already somewhat enlivened. This was right after the Foley nightmare and as old party-faithful types pumped coffee urns and scraped grits, the talk was all about the GOP disaster. A lot of rolled eyes. A lot of shaking heads. But under it all some satisfaction. After six years of hearing the nasal whine of Bush-speak rising over the country like a kazoo, the Dems at the Cobb County Democratic Breakfast embodied that strange political admixture of moral indignation and glee.
And the party's best speaker was in the house.
It's tough to run as a conservative Republican against a Democrat who radiates battle-hardened conservatism better than a bronze statue of the RoughRiders.
Mac Collins has tried in television ads, and yes, his campaign supporters took a raise-the-roof mentality to Thursday night's debate in Perry. But U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall is an old pro who knows that the best way to beat a southpaw is to keep moving to the right and throwing right hands.
And when it comes to Marshall, almost everyone else seems like a southpaw -- even Collins.
There were some signs in Spanish scattered throughout the audience on Thursday night. But they turned out to be the evening's only reference to Marshall's house vote to allow bilingual ballots in voting districts where there are large numbers of Latinos.
Marshall's a Middle Georgia Democrat -- which in and of itself makes him arguably one of the more conservative congressmen in Washington, in either party. His stance on blocking illegal immigration, including an "aye" vote on construction of a 700-mile fence along the Mexican border to block the flow of undocumented workers -- is Macon-tough. Still, Collins insists on draping Marshall in the trappings of Nancy Pelosi liberalism -- in large part based on that one vote in favor of bilingual ballots. For the congressman's efforts on behalf of Spanish speakers, a Collins campaign ad snidely thanks Marshall in a Speedy Gonzalez Spanish accent.
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