NOTE: The opinions expressed by our individual bloggers are their own, and not necessarily those of Young Democrats of Atlanta.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

YDG election hullabaloo
Today's bloggerI'm feeling feisty, so I think I will broach the very hush-hush and completely taboo topic.

What's with all this madness surrounding the Young Dems of Georgia (YDG) elections?

First there was the whole brouhaha over the VP of Programs position. Drama galore, followed by a blog and many incendiary comments, and then one less candidate.

Now the YDG President post has become the topic du jour, and everyone is buzzing about it. I can't keep up with who's running, who's not, who has dropped out, who has joined the race again, who's pissed at whom, who tattled on whom, who is siding with whom. I have to admit, it actually adds some excitement and intrigue, but I don't exactly understand it.

Now, I don't have a dog in this hunt. I don't know the candidates well, I don't know which one is more qualified, I don't have any personal allegiance to anyone, and I'm not going to convention, so I won't even be casting a vote.

But I have to wonder: why doesn't everyone just stay in the darn race, and it'll all get figured out the old-fashioned way? Actually, I guess the old-fashioned way would be a duel, you know, a la Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Now that would really be exciting. We could clear out the North Room at Manuel's Tavern and have it there!

But short of that, methinks the candidates should stay in the election, then everyone will vote, someone will win, and peace and tranquility will be restored to the YDG kingdom. Is that crazy?
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posted by Kate at 3/30/2006 03:15:00 PM 2 comments

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Perdona, no se habla bird flu aquí
Today's bloggerNot to take a running jump into the giant bucket of "xenophobia" paint that's being broadly brushed about in this season of shady Arab port deals and crackdowns on illegal immigrants, but growing up in Miami, I became indoctrinated in the general whitey resentment of the de facto (and later legal) requirement that damn near everything be written in Spanish as well as English. What can I say, I was raised by Republicans and when you hear the party line so many times, you, too, start to lament the increased burden on the state to print everything twice for people who are probably just going to fill out that form to ask you for something. Don't worry, I'm working on shaking that.

However, when it comes to important information that can be used to keep us all safe from a deadly catastrophe, I'm all for multilingualism. Take the back panel off of any major electronic device, and you'll probably see it for yourself: Danger! Cuidado! Avertissement! Achtüng! Whoever you are, don't go stickin' that screwdriver in here, capisce? It's even more important that everyone be informed when the consequences of ignoring instructions could mean them hurting me, you know, like, say, iff'n they caught the bird flu!

To make sure the public knows what to do in the event of a bird flu pandemic, The Department of Health and Human Services has put up a website at birdflu.gov or avianflu.gov. (Caution: make sure you type .gov; birdflu.com looks a little tinfoil hat, and birdflu.xxx is downright nasty.) You can go to this HHS website and learn all about what to do in the event of the killer birds; the information is broken into sections targeting specific audiences, e.g., for Individuals and Families, for Businesses, for Schools, and yes, for Faith-Based Organizations.
On January 12, 2006, Secretary Leavitt released a planning checklist for faith-based and community organizations at Pandemic Planning Summits in Vermont and West Virginia with state officials and community leaders.

The new checklist identifies specific steps faith-based and community organizations can take now to prepare for a pandemic. Developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the checklist suggests these actions:

Please note that documents in PDF format require Adobe's Acrobat Reader

The checklist suggests downloading Adobe Acrobat? Huh? Oh, right, got it. Download first, then read, then take action.

Anyway, I first found out about this yesterday in class, hearing a presentation on the bird flu and what can be done. Upon mention of the website, one of the professors sardonically asked, "How many languages do you think those recommendations are available in?" Sitting in a wireless classroom, I quickly found out: one and a half, or less. That is, on the bulk of the website, you are greeted with the following excuse: Pronto pondremos a su disposición esta información en español. So if you're a recently emigrated Hispanic head of household trying to protect your family, you'd better Babelfish it (conoces el Babelfish?) While the bulk of the website is en construcción, two of the seven particular interest groups, at least, can download their information in Spanish.

You already got the first one for free; wanna guess the second one?

Yep, the two of seven interest groups whose pages were completed first: Businesses and Faith-Based Organizations.


For the record, the Georgia Dept of Public Health's website is even more devoid of el español; the only fact sheet offered in two languages there is on the dangers of eating our coastal seafood. YAY MERCURY!

The fact that "Faith-Based" comes before "Community" is a topic for another blogger. I'm just talkin' national security here, folks.
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posted by Aerodad at 3/29/2006 12:37:00 PM 0 comments

Renewed focus on missing American
If you ever find yourself wondering what you might get out of being a Young Democrat, think of our friend Anna Weisfeiler in the Young Dems of Massachusetts, whose history of political volunteerism and network of connections brought 27 US Senators and Representatives to sign on to her cause (not to mention bringing a bunch of blogs like this one to write about it). Anna and her mother are currently in Santiago, Chile, to press the new administration on the twenty year disappearance of her uncle, Boris, under the Pinochet regime.
Santiago, Chile - A bi-partisan group of 27 U.S. Senators and Representatives wrote a formal letter of inquiry to the President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet regarding the fate and possible whereabouts of long-time missing Penn State professor Boris Weisfeiler, the American citizen who disappeared in Chile in 1985. The letter was crafted by U.S. Rep. John E. Peterson, R-PA. The letter was delivered personally this afternoon to the Chilean president by Boris's family. The Weisfeiler family hopes to meet with President Bachelet later this week.

The letter represents the first piece of direct, formal correspondence between members of the U.S. Congress and newly inaugurated Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.

For her part, President Bachelet has heard of the Weisfeiler case before, briefed in 2002 as minister of defense under former President Ricardo Lagos, and most recently by Secretary Rice upon urging from Congress earlier this month. Weisfeiler was a Pennsylvania State University professor at the time of his visit to Chile. His disappearance has never been fully explained, though there is evidence suggesting the involvement of members of Colonia Dignidad, a secretive, right-wing community led by a former German Nazi, who was recently arrested.

The letter was organized by Representative John Peterson (R-PA), who represents Boris Weisfeiler's district, and was also signed by Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA); John Kerry (D-MA); Arlen Specter (R-PA); Rick Santorum (R-PA); Robert Menendez (D-NJ); Barney Frank (D-MA); Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA); Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), who is the senior Democrat on the House International Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere; Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV), who is also a member of the International Relations Committee; Rep. James Moran (D-VA); and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL). Rep. Howard Berman (CA-D), Rep. Robert I. Wexler (FL-D), Rep. Cynthia McKinney (GA-D), Rep. Abercrombie (HI-D), Rep. Dennis Moore (KS-D), Rep. Steven F. Lynch (MA-D), Rep. James McGovern (MA-D), Rep. Richard Neal (MA-D), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD-D), Rep. John Conyers (MI-D), Rep. Maurice Hinchey (NY-D), Rep. Sherrod Brown (OH-D), Rep. Mike Doyle (PA-D), Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-R), and Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz (PA-D).

Yes, even Rick Santorum. That's a lot of knocking on doors and calling in favors, but Young Democrats are a tenacious breed; are you?

You can take a gander at the letter here, and get more information about the case, if you're interested, at findboris.com.
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posted by Aerodad at 3/29/2006 12:19:00 PM 0 comments

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Stand your ground
Today's bloggerPicture this: It's Saturday morning and I'm getting ready for this credential meeting in Macon and about to go pick Will Curry up so we can ride together for this lovely meeting of ours. I'm sitting at the Starbucks on 14th drinking my Vanilla Latte and eating a little something when lo and behold I open the AJC and what did my eyes see, but the Senate passing SB 396. I think to myself, there has to be some mistake. Surely, those people can't be that stupid, but I assure you they really are just that dumb. For those who don't know what SB 396 is and what it does it's the "Stand Your Ground" bill. That means people like myself if they feel threatened they can shoot the other person and not get penalized for it. It's the act first ask questions later bill. I think it's crazy. My friend Nikema always tells me that I'm frazzled; I would have to disagree with her most of the time, but there moments where like most of you I get frazzled from time to time. That means people like myself who get frazzled could be carrying guns and shooting people because they feel threatened. This makes me scared. SB 396 is one gun law we can do without. This is a scene that keeps running through my head. There will be some woman walking down the street late night and some homeless person will approach her to ask for food or money. She will feel "threatened" shoot the homeless person and no one will care because its a homeless person who dies. What if I mistakenly threaten someone and then they shoot me? The NRA seems to think this bill stands on the side of victims and not the criminals. Huh! How does it stand for the victims? If you shoot your would-be attacker then you aren't victim are you. I just don't get it! I have no problem with anyone defending themselves. Heck! I would hope that if I ever found myself in that situation I would defend myself, but it seems to me that this particular law gives way to much latitude to the term "threatened". Its just another bill that the Republicans passed so they can appeal to their gun right voters in an election year. How many more days do we have until this legislative session is over and how many months to do we have until we take back both houses and the Governor's House? I'm not sure how much more I can stomach. Shoot first and ask questions later is exactly what this state needs. Oh brother! Until next week!

Melissa Thompson
Membership Chair
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posted by Melissa at 3/28/2006 11:11:00 AM 5 comments

Monday, March 27, 2006

Mayday! Mayday!
Today's bloggerDid you all see the Creative Loafing feature on the uncertain future of our own 1690 - Air ATLANTA?? Please go take a look: http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A39651. I can't think of a sadder piece of news from the perspective of political strategy than Air Atlanta leaving the local am dial. Well, maybe Ralph Reed dropping out of the race. But seriously. The voices of Sam Seder, Al Franken, Rachel Maddow, et al, however faint, are vitally important to our political efforts here in Georgia. Not only do they offer an alternative to Rush and Neal (important) but they give local progressives - maybe even YDAtl one day - a chance to produce media. A viable local station also gives local advertisers a chance to reach out directly to progressive listeners, and gives all of us a chance to patronize those companies that advertise on the station. Not to despair yet - the CL feature ends with a call to action for all of us: "GET INVOLVED: To help Air America find a potential new home in Atlanta, write letters to and call local radio stations to ask them to consider Air America programming."

Semi-awkward segue: in the vein of "patronize the blue merchants" we should all make reservations for our next nice dinner at Sotto Sotto. I constantly hear them as key supporters of WABE. Cool. But get this: the owner closed both Fritti and Sotto Sotto on Friday in support of their Hispanic workers who were observing the Day of Dignity one-day work stoppage. The article I read said the restaurants stood to lose about $20,000 by closing down. But it was the principle of the thing. Bravo! Bravissimo!
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posted by Emily at 3/27/2006 07:32:00 PM 1 comments

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Putting all our eggs in the governor's race
Today's blogger

I was talking with a friend today, and I casually asked, “Do you think Guy Drexinger can beat John Oxendine?” The answer I got was “I think our state candidates will live and die by the governor's race.”

That answer is worth thinking about. If, indeed, our downballot candidates will need the winner of the Mark Taylor/Cathy Cox battle to pull out their own elections, they will have to navigate treacherous strategic waters. A key question will be whether to endorse Mark, Cathy, or neither: the wrong answer could cost them support among the Democratic base and from the gubernatorial nominee. Downballot candidates will have to find a balance between working to secure the critical victory of the gubernatorial nominee and fending off the Republican challengers in their own races. Many of our state candidates may find riding on coattails difficult – most of them do not have recent service under the Gold Dome to link them to Mark and Cathy.

The short answer, then, is that if my friend were right, our state campaigns would be an uphill battle. But I don't believe Democrats must necessarily lose the downballot state races if Sonny Perdue prevails. Obviously, if Ralph Reed is the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, our chances will be good regardless of how Mark and Cathy fare. But I don't believe we must beat Perdue before we can beat Casey Cagle. Both Greg Hecht and Jim Martin can position themselves favorably on many issues. For example, Cagle's own education “plan” makes only token reference to the HOPE scholarship program – an obvious weakness in his record and therefore in his campaign. Cagle has his strengths, of course, but there is nothing to prevent Jim and Greg from capitalizing on his failures and using them to promote the Democratic agenda of a real focus on education.

I believe Cagle is representative of the Republican candidates as a whole – that is, critically vulnerable, alone or in collusion with Perdue. Obviously, defeating Sonny Perdue must be the top Democratic priority in 2006. But I reject the idea that we are powerless if he wins – throwing up our hands in the face of an impending Perdue victory would be tantamount to giving up, and I hope that Georgia Democrats are not ready to give up without fighting for every seat.
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posted by Ataru Atlanta at 3/25/2006 07:25:00 PM 0 comments

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A good Georgia Democrat knows his nukes
Today's bloggerNo, not me, former Senator Sam Nunn, co-kicker-offer of the Nunn-Lugar program to secure loose WMD in the former Soviet Union and now co-chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative. Still reeling from the aftershocks of the scuttling of the Dubai ports deal, the Bush administration now faces another potential Congressional challenge (damn those pesky elected representatives), as Nunn urges Congress to do its oversight job again -- this time with respect to Bush's nuclear gift to India.
Undersecretary of State R. Nicholas Burns warned lawmakers last week that congressionally mandated conditions could cause the agreement to unravel. He and other administration officials say the agreement is a groundbreaking achievement that will bring India, which has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, into the nonproliferation mainstream, while bolstering U.S.-India ties and adding jobs to the U.S. economy.

But Nunn, who was briefed on the deal by State Department officials last week, said he is concerned it would lead to the spread of weapons-grade nuclear material, unleash a regional arms race with China and Pakistan, and make it more difficult for the United States to win support for sanctions against nuclear renegades such as Iran and North Korea.
"India was a lot better negotiator than we were," Nunn asserted. While the administration has said it has no intention of aiding India's nuclear weapons program, "the reality could be the opposite," he said. "The administration has a high burden to explain this."

Nunn added that suggestions by some former and current administration officials that it might be in the United States' interest to allow India to build up its strategic capabilities is "totally counterproductive and dangerous reasoning."

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is one place this terrible deal could get the scrutiny it needs, and its Chairman, Richard Lugar, is one of those Republicans that doesn't raise my blood pressure on the Sunday morning talk shows. If you felt like writing a note to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the FRC to strongly urge them to investigate the strategic security risks inherent in this deal and implement reasonable restrictions on cooperation with India to prevent global nonproliferation efforts from unraveling, that'd be swell.

Sen. Richard Lugar
306 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-1401
Sen. Joe Biden
201 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dick Lugar's a good guy, but it can't hurt to tell our boy Joe to ride the majority till they do their job and look out for our security.

UPDATE: Courtesy of ACW, the Arms Control Association speaks out:
One of the most notable and troublesome features of the U.S. proposal is the weak and very ambiguous the language in section 2, which is ostensibly meant to outline what India must do in order to qualify for transfers of NSG* trigger list items. In addition, section 4 would allow individual NSG member states to decide whether India is meeting these weak standards before they sell nuclear technology and materials (possibly including technologies the U.S. would be willing to sell) to India. Section 4 says in part:

Participating Governments may transfer trigger list items and/or related technology to the safeguarded civil nuclear facilities in India (a State not party, and never having been a party, to the NPT) as long as the participating Government intending to make the transfer is satisfied that India continues to fully meet all of the aforementioned nonproliferation and safeguards commitments, and all other requirements of the NSG Guidelines.

In essence, the administration is suggesting that we put the Russias and the Frances and the Indias of the world in charge of U.S. nonprolfieration policy. On the whole, arrangement would further erode rules-based efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons related technology.

– Daryl Kimball, executive director, Arms Control Association

*NSG = Nuclear Suppliers Group, a coalition of nuclear "haves" nations who have agreed to strict controls on what kind of technology may be transferred to the nuclear "have nots" in order to prevent proliferation. Russia and France have been habitually bad at playing fast and loose with nonproliferation guidelines, so giving them the prerogative to decide if they're satisfied with the intended use of the "trigger list" (might be handy for weapons) technology is like a bartender asking a drunk if they're sure they can handle one more drink before driving home.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE 3/27/06: Want to take action, but too lazy to write the Senators? Click here to sign the Federation of American Scientists' petition on HR 4974:
The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) believes that a nuclear technology trade agreement with India is contrary to the long-term security of the United States, India and the world. The Bush administration has submitted a bill to Congress, HR 4974, which revokes Congressional review and evaluation of any future nuclear trade deal with India. ... Normally, any agreement would be subject to Congressional review. But H. R. 4974 makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for Congress to object to whatever the deal turns out to be. In essence, the Congress is being asked to approve a nuclear trade agreement with India months in advance, sight unseen. Even those who support some, but not all, types of possible nuclear agreements with India should oppose this bill that will eviscerate Congressional oversight powers.
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posted by Aerodad at 3/23/2006 01:33:00 PM 0 comments

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Help Me Please!
Today's bloggerOK so today is my day to blog and I have thought long hard about the topic I would want to blog and there is only thing that comes to mind: this Saturday I'm going to go to Macon, GA to Credential our chapter for Convention (March 31st - April 2nd in Athens). This is my one last plea to those of you out there who still have not paid their dues to do so this week. You may use our friendly easy PayPal service online in order to take care of this.

I know that I should be blogging about political issues that bother me and the rest of us, but all I think about these days is our current membership list and how we need everyone to pay their dues before Saturday. You see everyone I go to bed thinking about thinking about ways I get a 100 new members through the door and I wake up thinking about those same brand spanking new 100 members that I would love to have. But before I throw myself and my committee into getting those 100 new members I really want to have the old members all paid up so that we can report big numbers at Convention. There is still time to pay your membership dues and I would love to take your money! Regular membership is only 25 dollars, student membership is 12.50 -- of course if you'd like to pay more, Justi will be more than happy to accept that contribution as well.

Look everyone, help me out so that I can rest easy at night knowing that the dream of old members all paid up can became a reality, so that I can start dreaming of all those new people walking through Manuel's Tavern's door on the first Wednesday every month. I know I'm starting to obess a little, but hey I'm just a very dedicated person who works hard for our organization. Please pay your dues before Saturday. If you have any questions regarding your membership please feel free to email me and I will be more than happy to go over my records with you.

Melissa Thompson
Membership Chair
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posted by Melissa at 3/21/2006 03:45:00 PM 0 comments

Blood shooting out eyes
Oh. My. Sweet. Jesus.

You know how sometimes you feel like watching FockSnooze occasionally, just to see what's happening on the other side of the fence? Sometimes you just bite off more than you can chew and you find yourself banging your head against the wall or maybe scrubbing yourself with brillo pads under a steaming hot shower.

I just watched Republican Lie Monger (a.k.a. "strategist") Michelle Laxalt just spew the most ridiculous horsepucky I have heard since the last time I needed GOP-inspired PTSD counseling. Calling the leaked Reid strategy memo the most cynical document she has seen in a long time, she had the audacity to claim that she couldn't imagine any instance ever where a Republican would "use our troops as fodder," suggest that the American people be afraid, or campaign in front of troops as props.

Your head a'splode.

Justi, this is the part that's missing from your metaphor: where we can see the Duke fans on TV actively worshipping Satan, complete with animal sacrifice at center court.
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posted by Aerodad at 3/21/2006 09:28:00 AM 0 comments

Monday, March 20, 2006

Vegas, baby!! Or not.
Today's bloggerWe Democrats are surely not short on passion. We are also not short on intelligence. Nor are we are short on work ethic. All of these are critical elements to a social movement.

However, in my (albeit short) experience in party politics, particularly in the Young Democrats, I have noticed that generally, we’re a bit short on basic management skills. In my latest installment on the blog about political strategy, I urge: get thee to a project management class!

There is no lack of logical explanations for why we Democrats might not have core organizational and managerial skills. And no real need to get into them. The fact remains – our ability to impact political outcomes is going to be limited by our ability to identify and communicate appropriate goals, disaggregate goals into discrete tasks, document tasks, assignments, and responsibilities in a project plan, delegate and oversee work, and so on. These types of skills may not sound glamorous, but they are critical to our success.

Think about the most important items on your to-do list right now - is there a practical skill you need in order to carry out the Democratic mission? Project management? Communication? Teambuilding? Delegation?

I have debated with people in my own chapter about whether training for officers and others in key committee positions is a responsible use of our funds. I have repeatedly stated my position that skills training is one of the best investments our organizations can make. Here’s why this is smart:

One: more know-how equals more done. Plain and simple. Businesses invest billions in training their workforce each year not because it’s fun, but because it pays off. There is a quantifiable return on investment that accrues to the bottom line. We, also, can expect a payoff in terms of better results in projects we undertake.

Two: investments in training will pay dividends beyond the individual who originally participates. Members who serve with officers who are well-equipped to provide competent leadership will learn by example.

Three: last (and maybe least but not unimportantly), training *will* benefit the individual and help her in her career and other future endeavors. But being an effective officer or key committee member in a political organization is hard work. It takes time and requires trade-offs and sacrifice. What’s so wrong with being able to provide our talented people with some return on their own investment? We want to attract talented people to serve in leadership positions. This is a great way to kill two birds with one stone.

If I have even piqued your interest, check out these open-enrollment offerings at Emory’s Center for Lifelong Learning:


I challenge the next YDG leadership, and all of us, to reconsider spending our scarce resources on sending a handful of 20-somethings to Las Vegas to flirt and drink. Wouldn’t our organization – wouldn’t our cause – benefit more by learning how to achieve our mission – task by task and plan by plan?
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posted by Emily at 3/20/2006 10:59:00 PM 5 comments

We are the champions!
Today's bloggerIndulge me for just a minute while I make a short digression. I’m not in the best of moods today. This time of year is either incredibly sweet or a disappointing letdown. Yesterday, it was the letdown. I grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina where, for those of you not in the know, basketball is religion. Our creed is simple: Love UNC, hate Duke. All great rivalries make perfect sense to their adherents and strike outsiders as utter madness so I won’t bother to explain this one too much. Simply put, as the country’s oldest public university, UNC stands for all that is good about community and the common welfare. Duke is the private university that symbolizes privilege, wealth, and class superiority. This weekend, UNC was upset by the now-loathsome George Mason. Duke will advance to the Sweet 16.

It’s fun hating Duke but it can be hard work. They seem to win all the time. Seriously, when do they get an off year? As I sat drinking my beer watching the sad faces of the UNC players I wondered what it was like to be a Duke fan. It must be something to dominate consistently, to crush the opposition game after game. Of course there’s the downside of having to worship the devil and devour your own young, but all those victories must instill a person with confidence and optimism.

As I drift deeper and deeper into self pity I think about how similar being a UNC fan is to being a Democrat except that UNC wins more and has better players. Garrison Keillor had an idea similar to my team switching plan. Why not just become a Republican? Think how easy it would make life. Instead of all this fretting about the environment, gentrification or immigration I could be celebrating the wonders of market forces and the march of freedom across the globe. I could drive guilt-free by the public schools or homeless shelters shouting “sucks to be you!” out my window. I could also rest easy as my president’s poll numbers sink to abysmal levels knowing that he has already completed a massive transfer of wealth from the poor and middle class to the rich, stacked the Supreme Court, and launched an open ended war against an abstract concept that will keep the military-industrial complex fat and happy for the foreseeable future. All this and he has three more years left. Besides, the Democrats will find a way to fuck up the midterm elections somehow. Republicans have nothing to worry about. It’s good to be a winner!

Being a Democrat is even harder than being a UNC fan. It means that I care about the political process and it means that I have to spend time trying to engage people’s attention so that they care about it too. Sometimes that’s successful. Other times I encounter this kind of awkward discomfort like I’m trying to sell knock-off watches or trying to wheedle them into going to church with me instead of attempting to have a candid discussion about our representative government. “I vote the person not the party,” these types tell me.

One woman sitting next to me at a work dinner told me she couldn’t vote for Kerry because Teresa was so awful. “I mean, did you see the way she treated the Edwards children when they were campaigning?” I thanked her for this new perspective. Now when I wring my hands about W I can comfort myself by thinking how gentle and polite Laura is. She’s just so unobjectionable.

Voting the person, not the party will never get us national health care or a coherent foreign policy, but it will ensure that we don’t have to put up with anyone dreadfully dull like Al Gore or John Kerry. As we poison ourselves and rob the next generation’s wealth we can at least enjoy a president who is a good dancer or a snappy dresser.

And now I realize it. While being a member of an irrelevant, perennially losing political party like the Democrats is a bummer, it’s probably nowhere near as bad as being a Democratic politician who actually has to lead the irrelevant, perennially losing political party. Poor schmucks. I wonder how they get up and go to work every day. They actually have to represent people who make decisions about their jobs based on whims and try and defend against ever kookier schemes from the right. The media becomes evermore disdainful and some new book is coming out every month with a new idea for Democrat’s salvation. I can just see these guys getting ready for another day of despair and derision: “Stay strong on defense; talk about Jesus; act like someone you’d want to have a beer with; and don’t think of an elephant.”

I actually have a point somewhere in this jeremiad of a blog entry. I guess it’s that I would like to vote the person too. I want Barak Obama and Howard Dean to sweep in and save us all from pathetic loserdom. As long as we’re fantasizing – Jed Bartlett and Bono would be just fine too.

But I don’t think it’s going to happen. Don’t get me wrong – it might (well not the Jed Barlett part). We need good, charismatic leaders and hoping for them won’t hurt. But I don’t know that it helps. I really don’t know why Hillary decided it was a good idea to come out against abortion and for capital punishment. Or why the Dems chose the weird guy with the eyebrows to give our response after the State of the Union address. I’m sure some consultant or focus group or think tank keeps telling our poor, tired leaders that it’s a good idea to act the way they act. But the bottom line is that this is who we’re stuck with.

I vote the party because I don’t actually know these people. The chances of us hanging out at a bar together are extraordinarily slim. I do know that I want good schools for all kids and clean water and a safety net so that people who fall on hard times don’t go hungry. And that’s what the Democratic Party is about. We’re not perfect and we’re very tired right now, but no one else is going to do it.

I don’t know when they’re going to do it. And I can’t really do that much to give them an extra doses of courage or integrity. It’s like basketball. None of my drinking, shouting, praying or swearing has any effect on the UNC players’ ability to play well. It’s very frustrating. But, as any Tarheel would tell you, being a fan is not just about winning it all and celebrating at the victory party – though that is sweet. It’s about something beautiful and exciting that brings out the best in these young players and I get to watch it and be a part of it.

Being a Democrat is not about winning it all – though that is sweet. It’s about a way of life oriented towards the well being of the community. Let’s take a tip from Ghandi and begin to be the change we want to see in the world. Our leaders may seem to be out of ideas but we can still strive to make our neighborhoods, cities and state a place that welcomes all people – a place that provides good schools, clean water and a livable wage.

We can also do our best to build up our leaders – give them cookies, hugs and thank you notes when they defy expectation and do something wonderful and courageous. Come to think of it, cookies and hugs all around and also a tequila shot to wash down the cookies. It can be tough to care and to lose and to see no end in sight. But no one is going to save us. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We have to start acting like champions.
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posted by Justice at 3/20/2006 07:10:00 PM 5 comments

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Personal issue or government decision?
Today's bloggerJoe Conason wrote this in the New York Observer.

For anyone who really believes that from the moment of conception every fetus becomes a human being, with the same inalienable rights as any other person, there can be no moral distinction in cases of rape or incest. When pregnancy results from a brutal crime, the perpetrator is not the fetus but the rapist. Yet many supposedly pro-life politicians still insist on that exception, despite its rejection by the Catholic hierarchy and Protestant fundamentalist theologians.

So how do I feel about this?

Well, I agree. Using rape and incest to sway voters is unfair to what the actual question is. The question is when is a fetus a human being. We have chosen not to deal with this issue and instead politicize a private issue because certain people do not feel that women can make an intelligent decision about their own bodies.

I think the decision to have an abortion is a philosophical decision and not a governmental decision. Sense when did we allow the government to tell us what to feel. Our thoughts and our life-styles are supposed to be protected under the bill of rights. You may not agree with a woman having an abortion or a woman choosing to give their child up for adoption or even leaving that child in an orphanage, but does that give you the right to regulate what that woman has decided to do?

My answer would be no. How can we believe that a government should tell us what to do with this fetus in our bodies? The government- which is comprised of bureaucrats and politicians pandering for votes, compromising away their beliefs for money, and bills that they need passed- should not be the deciding factor in our personal decisions.

Whether or not you agree with the idea of abortion should no longer be the issue. Now, the debate is when does human life begin and that my friends is a personal choice. You can not regulate each individual’s personal values and morals.
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posted by Carly at 3/19/2006 06:21:00 PM 1 comments

Saturday, March 18, 2006

In union lies strength for Democrats
Today's bloggerDemocrats in Georgia need more unity. It's a concept that has done wonders for Republicans, and a lesson we could do with relearning.

I'm not the only one who sees the problem. Too many times, Democrats at odds with leadership have opted to set up breakaway groups that directly compete with the established party structure for fundraising dollars and membership involvement. Such factionalism gums up our campaign machinery – every splinter group weakens the authority of our leadership and makes the task of devising a unified message for Georgia that much more difficult.

Don't misunderstand me. I'm not asking you to like or agree with Bobby Kahn or your county party's chairperson. The point is that if your county party is broken, your duty is to fix it, by working with its leadership and its members to use the resources at its disposal to further the ultimate, common goal of electing Democrats. When you break away, you rob your county party of critical resources – not least of which is you, a dedicated and motivated member – at the exact moment when it most needs those resources to revitalize itself.

I am by no means impugning the stellar contributions to the cause made by some of those breakaway groups. Consider, for example, the North Fulton Democrats. For years now they have set themselves apart as vigorous, hard-working campaigners who have made major incursions into enemy territory in Roswell and Sandy Springs. However, their estrangement from the Fulton County Democratic Party has deprived the FCDP of much-needed energy and leadership by example. As a result, the victories in North Fulton have been offset by the struggle to capitalize fully on favorable demographics inside the perimeter.

I am reminded strongly of the fable about the old man who showed his sons that a bundle of sticks is stronger than each stick singly. As one party, we are strong. Let us not do the work of Republicans and divide ourselves.
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posted by Ataru Atlanta at 3/18/2006 09:11:00 AM 2 comments

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Political Poetry, Part I - Sonny Perdue
Sonny, Sonny, Sonny Perdue,
What'd Atlanta do to you?
We've been pickin' people up when they fall,
But you said a livin' wage wasn't for all
the folks in the state,
'specially not those immigrants you hate -
you 'n Chip Rodgers and the rest of your slate -
those folks buildin' your houses and washin' your plates
while you were frettin' about your tax rates.

Whatcha been standin' for, Sonny?
Ain't standin' for me if I ain't got the money
to buy your fundraisin' honey
and watch you grinnin' like it's funny.
You been standin' around, proppin' up walls
watchin' every tree that falls,
waitin' for Dubya t' call,
stealin' textbooks from the halls -
now that takes balls,
talkin' budget shortfalls
and takin' kids out of school
while you were burnin' that fuel
sellin' your politics -
that's some bag of tricks.

Yeah, you been standin' your ground
for the friends that you found -
Glen Richardson's hawks and hounds,
Chip Pearson makin' his own laws,
Sue Burmeister and her claws,
Bobby Franklin flappin' his jaws,
Matt Dollar and his frat-boy collar,
All your flag buddies and their holler,
Earl Ehrhart, makin' the rules
to stuff his own schools,
Rich Golick playin' us for fools.
Yeah, they're your pals around town -
It's time for y'all to sit down!
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posted by Ataru Atlanta at 3/16/2006 05:45:00 PM 0 comments

The answer is to make more babies
Today's bloggerLast night I came across a most disturbing story called "The liberal baby bust." Take a gander at it here.

The gist is that we liberals aren't procreating much, and meanwhile the conservatives are churning out babies like mad. Obvious result: they already outnumber us, and it's just going to get worse. Or as the article puts it:
It's a pattern found throughout the world, and it augers a far more conservative future - one in which patriarchy and other traditional values make a comeback, if only by default. Childlessness and small families are increasingly the norm today among progressive secularists. As a consequence, an increasing share of all children born into the world are descended from a share of the population whose conservative values have led them to raise large families.
Needless to say, YIKES!

There's only one way to fight this: we liberals need to start breeding like rabbits. We'll have progressive babies here, there, everywhere, flooding the communities in droves. It'll be like that 17-year locust infestation, except it'll be hoards of infants toting donkey stuffed animals instead. We'll stock up on fertility drugs so we can have six or eight babies at once, like those wacky McCaughey sextuplets in Iowa or wherever, because hell, it's a lot more efficient to have a litter than to have them one at a time. We'll send them to liberal schools, summer camps, and after-school programs to make sure they get indoctrinated early, and that none of them defect to the Other Side. When they get a little older, we'll make sure they drink lattes, drive European cars and subscribe to The New Yorker --just to solidify those liberal stereotypes and piss off the conservatives. Okay, that last part might be unnecessary, but it would be fun nonetheless.

We've got a long way to go if we're going to catch up in the offspring competition, especially because those people in Utah and Wyoming are fierce competitors (particularly those evangelical home-schoolers, who tend to have like sixteen kids; how can we compete with that?). But you know what they say about eating an elephant sandwich: you do it one bite at a time.

I, for one, am doing my part. I'm thirteen weeks pregnant, and am due in September. Yes, I'm serious. (Some of you may have noticed that I have been sadly lacking an alcoholic beverage at recent YDA events.) So for anyone who is keeping track, in six months, we'll have one more liberal in our camp. Sure, it'll be eighteen years before he or she can vote, but hey, it's a start.

There is one other benefit to this "flood the country with liberal babies" plan. As I become fatter and fatter, and my ankles start to swell, and I get leg spasms and backaches, I'll have more liberal friends with buns in the oven to commiserate with. Talk about killing two birds with one stone!
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posted by Kate at 3/16/2006 01:27:00 PM 5 comments

Trust issues lead to miscommunication
Today's bloggerThat may sound like Dr. Phil's relationship advice, but it applies equally well to international intelligence failures regarding the containment of weapons of mass destruction. According to a recent report, Saddam Hussein thought he'd be coy with the international community, and obviously, it didn't play out well. There was just too much suspicion on our part to assume anything but the worst about Saddam, and now we've inherited the next best thing. Or next worst thing. Whatever.

From the latest Foreign Affairs,
According to Chemical Ali, Saddam was asked about the weapons during a meeting with members of the Revolutionary Command Council. He replied that Iraq did not have WMD but flatly rejected a suggestion that the regime remove all doubts to the contrary, going on to explain that such a declaration might encourage the Israelis to attack.

Oh, you little tease, you. Playing hard to get is a delicate game, because you can only bluff so long before the target of your flirtation wanders off with someone easy. Or, you know, in this awkward metaphor, invades your country and puts you in prison.
Saddam was insistent that Iraq would give full access to UN inspectors "in order not to give President Bush any excuses to start a war." But after years of purposeful obfuscation, it was difficult to convince anyone that Iraq was not once again being economical with the truth.
Ironically, it now appears that some of the actions resulting from Saddam's new policy of cooperation actually helped solidify the coalition's case for war. ... In 2002, therefore, when the United States intercepted a message between two Iraqi Republican Guard Corps commanders discussing the removal of the words "nerve agents" from "the wireless instructions," or learned of instructions to "search the area surrounding the headquarters camp and [the unit] for any chemical agents, make sure the area is free of chemical containers, and write a report on it," U.S. analysts viewed this information through the prism of a decade of prior deceit. They had no way of knowing that this time the information reflected the regime's attempt to ensure it was in compliance with UN resolutions.

What was meant to prevent suspicion thus ended up heightening it.

Given the history of deceit, one could understand the misinterpretation of those vague, emotionless communications intercepts we heard Colin Powell present at the UN in 2002. Hell, I myself can't get through an extended AIM convo without taking something the wrong way thanks to insufficient use of emoticons, so can I really expect more from seasoned professionals at the CIA?
SaddaManiac: d00d you have to 86 all the wmd
ColonelKilla: LOL
SaddaManiac: no im serious, we're going to comply with UNSCOM :-ColonelKilla: ROFLMAO!
SaddaManiac: WTF man will you obey orders or must I kill your family?
ColonelKilla: :-( POS?
SaddaManiac: worse, GWB
ColonelKilla: OMG not again
SaddaManiac: ur tellin me
ColonelKilla: so when u say 86... ;-)
SaddaManiac: i mean gets rid for real!
ColonelKilla: for real or like 4 rlz?
SaddaManiac: seriously im killing your children
ColonelKilla: OMFG take a joke. CID wmd gone.
SaddaManiac: kthxbye.
ColonelKilla: RUOK?
SaddaManiac: :-\ idk. just all these mf sanctions...
ColonelKilla: OIC...
SaddaManiac: O R they?
ColonelKilla: LOL! i love Rushmore
SaddaManiac: :-)) lmfao
ColonelKilla: k well take a concubine and get some sleep. i'll get rid of these nerve agents.
SaddaManiac: TTFK
ColonelKilla: l8r

Oops. Sorry. Our bad. Looks like we really screwed up your whole country over nothing, and we apologize.

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posted by Aerodad at 3/16/2006 01:18:00 PM 0 comments

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

But I'm a Democrat!
Today's bloggerO.K. we are suppose to introduce ourselves first so here is my life in a nutshell. My name is Melissa Thompson and I'm your Membership Chair. I'm 31 years old and I just had a birthday on March 3rd. I' hail from Anderson SC where I graduated from T.L. Hanna High. I then moved on to the University of South Carolina where I graduated with an Art History degree. I then moved to Atlanta shortly after that, but had to move back to Anderson due to my Mom's cancer. I then side tracked myself a little more with my mom's death, a marriage and divorce all within a span of three years. Anyway, shortly after my divorce I moved to Atlanta for two reasons. One to get out of Anderson finally and two to move closer to my older sister Carrie. I also have a younger brother named Hal and a little dog named Star. Shortly after the 2004 and election I realized something about myself -- I realized I talk a good game, but I did not have anything to back it up. So on the advice of my best friend I went searching on the web and found the Young Democrats of Atlanta. I went to my first meeting in January 2005 and a year and two months later I'm your Membership Chair. That my friends is basically my life in nutshell.

I just got back from Australia so if my blog seems a little wonkie that is the reason. I was talking to Benson Monday night at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner and I told him that I was a little nervous about me posting a blog every week. He said to me there is nothing to worry about; all I have to do is pick a topic that pisses me off and write about that each week. As I was thinking about that I realized that a lot things tick me off. There is a whole range of topics from a woman's right to choose to why our State Government went after the NASCAR Hall Fame so hard when everyone and their great grandmother knew it was going to go Charlotte, but anyway I digress.

What I wanted to blog about this morning was incident that took place when I was in Sydney waiting for the bus. There I was standing on the corner waiting for the bus to take me down to Manley beach when I approach by a woman who was trying to get signatures for a petition. That petition was having to do with the war in Iraq. I just happen to be wearing my YDAtl T-shirt. (Which I'm sure Justi still has plenty.) This particular woman asked me to sign her petition. I told her that I was an American and I'm not sure how much good my signature will do her, but then she told me if there ever was a person who needed to sign it was me because it was our fault her son was over there in first place. I then told her, but I'm a Democrat! I'm not for the war and President Bush is not really my President, he is the other party's President. You see I don't really claim him. That did not really matter her. The only thing that mattered to her was that I sign her petition to get her son home. I'm not sure what the numbers are for Australian troops, but I guess to that mother numbers do not matter. It only matters that her son is over in Iraq. She didn't get it that I'm Democrat and that I wasn't for the war. To her I was an American and its our President's fault that the Iraq was started in the first place.

She wanted to know what a Democrat was and what the difference was between President Bush and a Democrat. I said ma'am how long do you have? I took the next 30 minutes or so explaining the major differences between being a Democrat and being a Republican. She told me was I on the correct side of politics. Then she asked me what I was doing to stop the Republicans from ruining everything. I told her about the Young Democrats of Atlanta and all the work we do. I said everyday I get up go to work hoping this will be the day that the Democratic Pary turns the corner in the fight to take our State and our Country back. I told her that my friends and I work so hard because we can't give up, we don't know how to give up. I told her that we have an uphill battle ahead of us because we Democrats right now are in the minority, but we Young Democrats are working hard to change that. She then wished me all the best and she promised me that she won't give up on her work there in Australia as long as I did not give up my work here in the US. I also suggested that she and her group keep the pressue on their Prime Minister John Howard. I promised her my Mom did not raise a quitter. Plus I can't, I'm a Democrat, failure is not in our vocabulary.

Needless to say I missed my bus a few times while talking to Matlida, but I think the take away from that conversation is I may be a Democrat, but to people outside of this country that doesn't mean a whole heck of a lot. I'm American first to them and what America is doing in regards to Iraq isn't good. We have not only hurt our allies in leadership positions, but we also have hurt relations with their people as well. How do you explain to a mother in a foreign country that the reason her son is over in Iraq is because our President just doesn't get it? We Democrats also have to keep in mind that we are Americans first and what the Republicans do reflects on us. I'm not sure about the rest of you, but I hate looking bad in front of people I do not know. We have to keep chipping away at the Republican majority in this country because if we don't it won't matter if we take the White House back because by then it could be to late to try to mend the fences that the Bush Administration has severed.

Unitl next week!
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posted by Melissa at 3/15/2006 09:37:00 AM 0 comments

Monday, March 13, 2006

Blocking and tackling
Today's bloggerUmmm, so I am supposed to blog about strategy, right? Well, here's a strategy: don't mess up your blog by trying to spell check on a browser with popup blocker turned on. Cause you'll lose everything you wrote. Which maybe was a sign anyway.

So let me start over! I had blogged into the wee hours last night about the Evan Bayh article in the paper yesterday. Yawn. No wonder the blog gods took it away. Instead let's talk more about the trial by fire that was 2004. That year, I guess it was mid to late November when I emerged from underneath the bed, I wrote some friends about my determination to work "smarter, not harder." I summed it up in a four-pronged strategy: PRIORITIZE, NETWORK, CELEBRATE, LEAPFROG.

PRIORITIZE: become crisply educated on a few key issues and make investments of your time and money wisely.
NETWORK: stand up for what you believe in and find each other - all progressives separated by no more than three degrees.
CELEBRATE: recognize and honor achievements.
LEAPFROG: don't fight their battle, don't use their weapons - reframe all the questions.

So - my thinking on political strategy typically falls into this framework. I'll blog more about each of the prongs in months to come, but today what's on my mind is "network."

In the course of my work at the Capitol this session, a group of legislators will often be sitting in a meeting racking their brains about how to find the time and resources to accomplish some basic political blocking and tackling. They needed help on tasks such as: finding constituents in a specific house district to make phone calls to a committee chair, or getting help in all the major Georgia media markets on planning and executing a series of public hearings. It is my observation that the legislators often feel overwhelmed and undermanned. But it is also my observation that the Young Democrats and the county parties seem sometimes under-utilized. FEC rules notwithstanding, there are certainly many instances where the existing networks aren't engaging each other. To me, the obvious action item when faced with the question, "who the heck do we know in Representative so-and-so's district who can call him to request a vote on the bill in his committee" is "call the Young Democrats from that county." Or "call that county party." We would LOVE to help out, would love to feel that our actions are truly helpful.

So, what can we do to bring about this networked nirvana? Sounds good, but what do we DO? I see clear action items for Young Dems chapter presidents and membership chairs:

1) Get to know Democrats in your county delegation. If you don't have any, get to know the closest one you got. Send them a card. Invite them to all of your events. Bake them cookies. Go to see them. Tell them in every way you can think of that you exist and that you want to help them in any way you can.

2) Keep columns in your membership rosters for district - federal, state, and local offices. Ask members to look it up themselves when they join, or look it up for them if you want. Then you'll be ready when someone calls and needs help - you'll know exactly which people to engage. You need to know who can call Senator so-and-so who will have the authority of being a constituent.

These are easy things we can do to move the ball. Neither one would take very much effort at all and would be a fantastic project for that new person who wants to take on more and needs an important task delegated to them. Got someone in mind??

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posted by Emily at 3/13/2006 11:10:00 PM 0 comments

Why we fight
Today's bloggerWelcome to my day to blog – Sunday. Ah, lazy Sunday, the last day of the weekend… Pay no attention to your calendar or to the fact that you’re at work and your colleagues are acting like it’s Monday morning. It’s just a bad dream.

Not buying it? Okay, so I’ve had some issues getting my post up by Sunday. Just consider me the late, late edition.

I’m Justice and I’m the Finance Chair of Young Dems. Unlike many of my young dem colleagues, I have no interest in a career in politics. I’m not doing this to improve my resume or to network with politicians. Nor am I suffering from a shocking lack of meetings so that I seek to fill the void with a weekly pilgrimage to Manuel’s in search of agendas and action items. Canvassing and phone banking actually rank very low on my list of preferred activities.

So, why do I keep investing my time, talent and money into this organization? I suppose I don’t know what else to do. Our president has a foreign policy with the sophistication of a country music song and he seems to have a personal vendetta against the planet. I hear true blue liberals like New York Times columnist Paul Krugman look back to the days of Nixon and Reagan with something bordering on nostalgia and I know times are bad. Accuse me of being melodramatic if you like, but in the last year we’ve watched an American city wash away while the president caught up on his rest; we’ve been drawn into battles over evolution, abortion, and civil rights that I thought were part of the permanent historical landscape; and we’ve watched him put his stamp on the supreme court that will ensure that his legacy is haunting us for a generation. Bush’s Bible thumping friends are turning our democracy into a theocracy and his big business friends are buying themselves an oligarchy. Now I’m hyperventilating.

How to cope with this panic attack that is the current American experience? I try and return to what I know to be true. First, take deep breaths, and then turn to my teachers, the ones that have gone before me. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Howard Zinn, Vaclev Havel, John Lewis. Those are the top people on my list. I’m sure you have your own. They tell me that change isn’t going to happen in one dramatic moment. Real and lasting change, the kind that liberates us and makes our communities better places to live in happens as the result of slow, patient and persistent work. Some of the work is glamorous, but most of it is not. It involves hitting the streets, going door to door, standing on street corners, writing letters, making phone calls, sitting in meetings. Rosa Parks didn’t just decide one day that she wasn’t going to give up her seat. She had been preparing for that act of civil disobedience through training workshops for months. She was part of a larger community that was building a movement. She certainly didn’t know that it would be her action that set off the civil rights movement.

I find inspiration in that unpredictability of history. None of those great people knew when, how or if big change was going to happen. They just plodded along, never letting those in power take away their voice.

So, I carry on with my meetings (My finance committee meets this Wednesday, 7 pm at JavaVino). I try to figure out a way to take off time from work to go to the next lobby day. I know I’ll even be talked into phone banking again this fall during the 2006 election. Along the way I continue to be inspired. Not just by famous people from the past, but by my fellow Young Dems. They pat me on the back and pass me a beer when I start to panic. Then they pass me a sign up sheet. I take a deep breath, take a gulp, and sign my name. This is a group that continues to show me how to have patience, faith, courage and even fun as we set the stage for what I hope will be a better future.
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posted by Justice at 3/13/2006 12:22:00 PM 3 comments

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Saying goodbye
I know today's my regular blog day, but humor me one more time, guys. Tonight will be a time of remembrance for Adam Stevens, and a time to bid a final farewell to someone who was the class of the Young Democrats of Georgia, and a well-loved friend to so many of us personally. It's been a very sad week for us - I know I'm not the only one who's struggled to maintain some semblance of composure and productivity at work. Adam had many friends who remember him for his sweet heart and his untiring work for all the causes we hold dear, and saying goodbye is so hard...

Adam lived in Gwinnett, but that never stopped him from helping out anywhere he was needed. I walked part of SD 40 with Adam for Rick Garnitz in 2004, as well as part of Pat Dooley's House 38 district, and he worked so hard for so many people in that terrible year for us. Heck, he even bailed out the Atlanta Young Dems when I was trying to get some people to walk in the March of Dimes awareness event that year! I don't think I ever repaid that favor to him, and I would give a lot to go back and help the Gwinnett YD's phone bank for the county party a few weeks ago.

That's what one thing that makes Adam a real hero and role model for me - not only did he not seek credit for anything he did, he genuinely didn't want any. He was passionate about what he did for Democrats, but it was never, ever, ever about him, always the cause and the ideals. He was totally fearless and unflappable - defeat never got to him, and he could take rejection and abuse from Republicans without feeling hurt.

I don't know that I could ever really do justice to what Adam meant to me, and everyone, on such a personal level, in some stupid little blog post, and anyway I'd like to at least start off composed tonight. But I would ask you all, whoever and wherever you are, to keep Adam and his family in your thoughts and prayers, and dedicate yourself completely this election year to helping Democrats win - that's what Adam would want, more than our tears and our belated words of praise.

Good ride, cowboy. Happy trails...............
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posted by Ataru Atlanta at 3/11/2006 04:42:00 PM 1 comments

Friday, March 10, 2006

Buffer zones
Today's bloggerOk, so I am Carly your Policy Chair. I should have started this endeavor last week but alas I was asleep on my couch by 6:00 pm. Don't ask why.

I probably should give you a clue as to who I am. Who am I. . . huh? Well, that would depend on whom you were asking. I suppose for the purposes of this blog and this organization, I am someone who cares deeply about the issues facing Georgia and our nation. I will most likely focus on the environment, basically because I was a biology major. My emphasis was in water ecology and fish biology. Now I am a laboratory analyst for a water department. I adore water and streams. I would like to focus only on our most important resource but other environmental issues are important too. However, luckily, today I can comment on my favorite issue.

I am going to discus life versus dead people. Senate Bill 510 passed Wednesday. This bill basically allows the depletion of our stream buffers. Here is how the Georgia Environmental Action Network characterized the bill.
"Senate Bill 510, sponsored by Sen. Chip Pearson, currently focuses on the state’s 150 foot buffer, which applies to waterways upstream of a drinking water reservoir or public drinking water intake. These buffers are larger than others in the state in order to give our drinking water supplies the highest level of protection. . .
Senate Bill 510 would rollback protections in three ways:
1) it would allow landowners to destroy the buffers if they get a variance;
2) it would allow local governments to adopt a storm water ordinance instead of the 150 foot buffer; and
3) it would allow single family homes and associated structures to be built in the buffer without the need for a variance.
These changes represent significant problems. The variance procedure established is not adequate to protect small water supply watersheds. It is difficult, if not impossible, to develop a storm water ordinance that is as protective as a natural buffer, as EPD Director Dr. Carol Couch has confirmed. Regarding the single family exemption, there are no limitations on the size of the house or the number or type of additional structures that can be built in the buffer. One could build a 6000 sq. ft. house with a six car garage, a tennis court, and a swimming pool, all inside the buffer.
The Senate Natural Resources Committee has approved Senate Bill 510, after its leaders were informed about the importance of stream buffers to water quality by scientists from the University of Georgia. Leaders of the Senate Natural Resources Committee called this unchallenged scientific evidence “mere theory,” and “speculation.” The Committee’s chairman stated that he was “uncomfortable” accepting the evidence. "

Essentially, building in our 150 ft. stream buffer areas will now be permitted. You may wonder why this is important. Well, the buffer zone helps to deplete the amount of pollution that actually enters our streams. All of the oil, gas, pesticides, fertilizers, cleaning products, and other such contaminants are absorbed by the ground and plants throughout the entire buffer area. Shrinking this area will mean that these contaminants will end up in your drinking water table. Not only will this make our drinking water unsafe but will also cause harm to all the aquatic life in the area. Further more, you always live downstream from someone or some developer and now our protection is being striped from us. Say hello to killing fish, beavers, insects (cute ones too), otters, crawfish and possibly affecting our health too.

Now, on that note, yesterday the senate passed bill 606 creating buffer zones for funerals. In an article from the Atlanta Journal Constitution,
“The bill would make it illegal to engage in disorderly or disruptive behavior at funerals and would prohibit any type of assemble or demonstration within 500 feet of a funeral one hour before, after, and during the service”

500 feet!!!!! First of all, wait . . . lets just read that again 500 feet!!! We are shrinking our stream buffers from 150 feet to what ever a local government deems appropriate. That’s right, you're correct, our water supply and our living endemic species and humans now have less than 150 feet of protection from harmful contaminants but dead people get 500 feet.

Secondly, now let me preface this by saying I am very respectful and mindful of people mourning and the dead. Although it is tasteless and tactless to demonstrate at a funeral, I believe that is a far worse crime to force all Georgians to drink polluted water.

Thirdly, we are not even sure if this law is constitutional. . . the First Amendment ?!

In a nutshell, in the span of a week, we made it harder for humans and animals alike to survive in an already polluted world while protecting a dead person from hearing people protest about what that dead person believed.
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posted by Carly at 3/10/2006 08:43:00 PM 1 comments

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Just when you thought the Georgia Legislature wasn't doing anything worthwhile...it still isn't.
Today's bloggerThe death penalty is one of those uber-polarizing issues, right up there with abortion and gun control. Once you've made up your mind about it, ain't nobody gonna change it.

It's always been one of my favorite issues because it's just so darn difficult. There are compelling arguments on both sides of the issue, but I come down against the death penalty for a few simple reasons:
  1. It's applied unfairly, particularly if you're poor and / or black.
  2. We know innocent people are being put to death; 122 people nationwide have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence.
  3. It's more expensive to put a criminal to death than to give him life in prison.
  4. Studies show that it's not a deterrent to violent crime.
  5. The whole "eye for an eye" mentality is, well, sort of uncivilized. Hence the reason we're one of the only (if not *the* only) first world country that still has it as a policy.
For these reasons and a host of others, states have begun to implement death penalty moratoriums so they can study the procedures, and implement needed reforms.

There are 38 states that allow the death penalty, and four of them -- Illinois, Kansas, New York and New Jersey -- have temporarily halted executions.

Moratorium legislation has been introduced in many other states, too. It was even introduced in the conservative Georgia State Legislature. Last month, State Senator Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) submitted legislation calling for a moratorium, and the appointment of a commission to study flaws in the system. This came after a panel of Georgia lawyers and politicians issued a report, sponsored by the American Bar Association, calling for the same thing.

The thing is, even if you're in favor of the death penalty, you surely still want it to be applied appropriately, right? You want to make sure that innocent people aren't sent to death row. And that poor people or certain races aren't unfairly targeted. I mean, that hardly seems controversial.

What's my point? Well, in light of all this talk of moratoriums and a need for reforms, you can imagine my surprise when I saw this article in the paper today: "Bill makes death setences easier."

The gist is that some nit-wit State Representative, Barry Fleming, is sponsoring House Bill 1552, which would
"remove a long-standing requirement that death sentences be imposed by a unanimous jury. If a simply majority of jurors felt a defendant should get death, the judge could impose a capital sentence."
I did a double-take when I read this. I mean, does that sound like a brilliant idea or what? Other states are halting the death penalty, and Georgia, in its surpreme wisdom, wants to MAKE IT EASIER.

Nevermind that innocent people are being convicted. Nevermind that the death penalty is the most serious, not to mention irreversible, punishment that can be applied, and we damn well better get it right. Nevermind that the American Bar Association is recommending that Georgia's policies be studied. Nevermind that Georgia's application of the death penalty has been questioned for its lack of fairness. Nevermind that a less-than-unanimous jury is likely to *increase* the number of innocent people who end up on death row.

None of this matters because Rep Fleming knows it's an election year, and he wants to look "tough on crime." The worst part about it is that this ridiculous tactic will resonate with people, and this jerk will get re-elected.

Does anyone else think that this is insane?
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posted by Kate at 3/09/2006 09:26:00 AM 2 comments

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

They must be on 'shrooms
Today's bloggerIf the smoking gun is a mushroom cloud, then please point them both at my head, because Bush's foreign policy is nuking my brain. (How's that for a heavy handed use of bad metaphors?) If you've looked at a single television or newspaper in the last week, you'll know that Pres. Bush has signed a deal with India regarding nuclear power, and you might even know that some people are in a tizzy about that, and maybe not much else. Well, your national security blogboy is here to tizzify in more detail for you. But first, let me tell you a little story....
Once upon a time, the federal government decided, "Okay, we're going to legalize medicinal marijuana. If you are sick and want to use marijuana, you can grow a certain amount in your home for medicinal purposes only. We'll even provide assistance -- give you seeds, teach you about hydroponics, provide access to some bitchin' UV bulbs -- as long as you promise to let the cops in anytime they want to look at your plants. If you don't agree to this, you can't have seeds, fertilizer, or UV light bulbs." It was a risky move, but many many patients were happy.

One girl - we'll call her Colombia - decided not to sign onto that agreement. She put bars on the windows and didn't answer the door for no cops. She led a very secluded life for several years while she grew pounds and pounds and pounds of pot, to the point that was way beyond medicinal. She and her friends were downright stoners; the federal government, had they known, would have considered her a Menace to Society™.

Then one day, her hydroponics equipment just wasn't enough to keep up with demand. She went down to the local Marijuana Regulatory Office and asked for some federal assistance in the form of better lamps and fertilizer. "Are you sick?" "No, not really; it's just that my friends and I are smoking way more pot than I can grow and I need---" "Wait, you mean, you're like...a total drug dealer? That's not cool, man. Do the cops know about this?" "No, I never signed up for that stupid program. But now I like totally need some help. C'mon, gimme some of them bitchin' UV lightbulbs y'all got."

"I'm sorry, but, you'd have to have signed up for the Medicinal Marijuana Compact to get assistance...but since you've already blatantly violated the spirit of the Compact, there's no way you could actually join it now. Perhaps if you let us come in and get rid of all your surplus pot and opened your whole house to the cops to---" "No way, man, my basement stash is mine, I just need a little federal assistance for uh...my grandmother. Yeah, that's it. My grandmother has glaucoma. Can I get some help now?"

"But you said your basement---" "Pleeeeeease? Pretty please?" "Oh, alright. Step right this way." And Colombia lived happily ever after, still a Menace to Society™, but now taking full advantage of federal marijuana assistance. The End.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty went into effect in 1970, and it basically attempted to pull a "no-tag-backs" on the non-nuclear weapons states at the time. Five global powers had managed to go nuclear (US, USSR, UK, China, France) and then called the game off while they were still ahead ("Yay I win!"). In exchange for the rest of the developing world promising to sit on their hands as far as The Bomb was concerned, the nuclear weapons states (NWS) promised to help the non-NWS with "peaceful" civilian nuclear technology, under strict (and permanent) supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). None of the NWS were supposed to pass nuclear weapon technology to the non-NWS, and the non-NWS weren't even supposed to think about buying or developing such nasty things. A surprising majority of nations jumped on board this treaty (wow, the Irish saved civilization a second time), and while enforcement wasn't perfect (there are now 9 NWS instead of 5), the world has far fewer NWS than many of the gloomy pundits of the 1960's predicted. South Africa even gave up the nukes it had developed in order to join the treaty, and when the Ukraine gained independence from the former Soviet Union, it packed the nukes on its territory neatly into "Return to Sender" boxes and signed on, too. Among the non-signatories, Israel continues to maintain a don't-ask-don't-bomb policy about the 200 warhead it is assumed to have (guess whose help they had in that); India and Pakistan, more interested in pissing each other off than maintaining a low profile, conducted nuclear test explosions in 1998 in a spectacular observance of Coming Out of the Nuclear Closet Day, and had they signed the ill-acronymed NPT, would have been in abject violation of it. (India had already flexed some atomic muscle in 1974, when it conducted a test of the awesomely named "Peaceful Nuclear Explosion," which are handy for the civilian purposes of digging really big holes.)

Since the PNE and even moreso since the nuclear weapons tests of 1998, the US and the rest of the Nuclear Suppliers Group have kept a pretty tight lid on any nuclear or dual-use technology that might further India's weapons program. But now, in this day and age when we sell port operations management to former harbors and abettors to terrorists, the Bush administration has decided to end its nuclear tech trade restrictions on India, in exchange for...uh.... I don't know. A promise to eternally answer our computer tech support phone calls, perhaps.

The reason some of us are jumping up and down screaming about this is that it basically rolls the NPT up into a giant spliff and stones the world into an international obligations stupor. The purpose of the NPT was to say, "You can have nuclear technology and assistance from the rest of the world, or you can try to make nuclear weapons on your own, but you can't have both, and we'll be pissed about #2." For the last year, India has demanded -- and has now been given -- both. They are not going to sign the NPT, because frankly that ship sailed when they came out of the nuclear closet, but they want the guarantees of a "right" to civilian nuclear technology promised to the non-NWS even though they are now a NWS. The Bush administration has wholeheartedly embraced this dichotomy, advertising with flashing neon lights and bells and whistles and sirens to the rest of the world that perhaps there are no real actual consequences to violating the NPT. "If you pursue the path of nuclear weapons, you will be shunned by the rest of the world on civilian nuclear technology! For like, a few years. Then, when you have all our jobs, we'll give you whatever you want. So, no biggie." India gets to have nuclear weapons, keep several nuclear sites as secret military installations (opening about 2/3 of their facilities to IAEA safeguards), and enjoy all the benefits of nuclear trade and technology. It is now a de facto member of the acknowledged NWS club without signing the treaty.

You ready for the real I-just-ate-a-whole-bag-of-shrooms moment? The White House's justification for this cognitive dissonance is outstanding:
CRITICS: Doesn't this initiative effectively recognize India as a nuclear weapons state?

COUNTERPOINT: No, the United States has not recognized India as a nuclear weapons state. The 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) defines a nuclear weapons state as "one which has manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device prior to January 1, 1967." (The United States, UK, France, Russia, and China exploded nuclear devices prior to that date.) India does not meet this definition, and we do not seek to amend the Treaty.

Um. Okay. Having nuclear weapons doesn't mean you're a NWS, because this piece of paper here doesn't say you are. Meanwhile, Indian nuclear scientists are quite pleased:
There is nothing in the agreement, he felt, which would tie India's hands and prevent it from pursuing its strategic weapons programme.

Now we have to somehow ignore this elephant in the room while we're still fighting to convince Iran, a signatory to the NPT, to stop availing itself of certain dual-use technologies promised to it as a non-NWS. The Administration's counter-argument to that is, Well, the Iranians never wanted to deal with us, anyway, so let's not pretend the India deal is a real excuse. It's nice to see that the Bush White House holds international treaties in the same high regard as Tehran.

I actually heard a conservative pundit say -- and I can't google my way to finding out whether Bush himself said this -- that giving India more nuclear energy is a good thing because it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That's a pretty good one, because we all know Bush doesn't actually believe greenhouse gases are a bad thing. Sorry, try again. They say that our good friends in India need our uranium and light water reactor technology to keep up their rapid development. Wait, they need our uranium? India's actually quite ahead of the curve on nuclear fuel, pursuing breeder reactor technology to turn its vast, otherwise useless thorium deposits into uranium-233 (instead of the weaponizable U235), and believe they'll be a perfectly happy thorium-based state in five to seven years! What do they need with our uranium? Nothing. But we had to promise them an endless supply of nuclear fuel for them to agree to the (NPT-required) endless IAEA safeguards, a promise we are not willing to make to Iran.

I have no idea what we get out of this deal: it's bad for proliferation in Asia (China's not going to be so thrilled about it's dodgy neighbor now being able to quadruple its arsenal); it's bad for international law (some said the NPT was comatose, but even a Bill Frist diagnosis can't save it now); and it's certainly bad for nuclear containment in Iran and North Korea.

You right-wingers still think Bush is keeping you safe? Well shoot man, gimme a hit of what you're smoking.
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posted by Aerodad at 3/08/2006 03:00:00 PM 4 comments

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

YDAtl Podcast 5 - GA Sec of State Forum
Better late than never, right? On February 8, the Atlanta Area Democrats hosted a GA Secretary of State Forum for the Democratic candidates - Daryl Hicks, Scott Holcomb, Angela Moore, and Shyam Reddy. Hostess Linda Edmonds and the candidates graciously allowed us to record the remarks, so if you've got an hour and want to get to know your candidates (hint: they're all for a paper trail on electronic ballots), then right-click download that title above if you haven't already gotten this through iTunes. (30MB)
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posted by Aerodad at 3/07/2006 01:20:00 AM 0 comments

Monday, March 06, 2006

Monday's Child
I cheated a bit and got a jump start on my entry for today before we knew the sad news about Adam. So let me just preface this by wishing safe travels to those of you traveling tomorrow for Adam's funeral in South Carolina. You take all of our thoughts and prayers with you. -E


Today's bloggerWelcome to Monday, my day on the blog.

Would you believe I like Mondays? Mondays are a chance to start again. The beginning of a fresh unit of productive life. Nothing has yet been left undone; the opportunity to complete plans and achieve goals stretches out on five clean, equally sized pearls of possibility. Fridays are good, too. But they are good for tequila. I have inevitably failed in many small ways by Friday, and really that’s OK. I can spend the weekend resting and visiting with friends. But when Monday comes back around, it’s the rebirth of confidence in accomplishment and progress.

So it’s fitting that on my blog day, Monday, I will write about strategy and messaging.

My introduction to the Young Democrats was during the 2004 election. I met amazing people in the year leading up to the election. People that I hope to count among my friends for years to come. There were also friends and family that I came to know much better during the weeks and months of hard slog leading up to November. I and my friends new and old poured everything we had into races from Kerry on down. I registered voters, I canvassed, I signed every petition MoveOn could dream up. I angrily read Salon.com. I flew to New York to protest at the RNC, I wrote checks, I even went to Florida to chase absentee ballots and GOTV the week before the election. But ultimately, our efforts were not enough. Not a single candidate I worked for all that long hard year won their election.

FUCK. Can I say that on the blog?

This is such a cliché, but I swear to god I looked into moving to New Zealand. Because – at the end of the day, I knew that I had no more to give. There was no way that I could repeat the experience of that year, much less every election, cycle after cycle. I could not even repeat the LOSING effort, much less give MORE!! I “left it all on the court” as they say, and as my grief and shock subsided, I realized that in fact, I could not work any harder.

So what’s the answer? I realized that if I can’t work harder, I’ve got to work smarter. Again, I know, cliché, but they say these things over and over again for a reason.

So, I will write about how we can work smarter. Lots of people are writing about that – there is no shortage of ideas from which to draw. I am so excited and encouraged by the intelligence AND the integrity of the work that’s been done since the election. I look forward to sharing it with you and reflecting on how we can use these new ideas to shape our tactics here in Georgia and the South. I am as determined as ever to help build back the sort of community I am proud to call my home.

This Monday, I can truly imagine a Georgia where children can get a world class education in every county of the state, no matter how much money their parents have. I can imagine a Georgia where every family has access to affordable, quality health care; where seniors are respected and cared for. I can imagine a thriving business community in service to Georgia families, not the other way around, which provides good jobs for every willing worker. I can imagine a Georgia where people can fall in love and start a family, no matter whether God made them gay or straight. I can imagine a Georgia with clean, healthy air and sparkling streams for all of us to enjoy. I can imagine honest people serving in government with integrity and decency. I can imagine the place I want to leave my children.

All this is possible. After all, it’s Monday.
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posted by Emily at 3/06/2006 11:14:00 PM 4 comments

Friday, March 03, 2006

Adam Stevens, friend and Democrat
(Sunday update: Billy sent out some updated information yesterday, which I've added.)

I sincerely hope that everyone who knew Adam has heard this news from somewhere else, but he passed away earlier this week, much too early for someone so brimming with idealism and energy. I'm pasting YDG President Billy Joyner's announcement to the e-mail list at the bottom of this post, but humor me a bit first...

Most of us knew Adam as a staunch Democrat, who could flat out-work just about anyone out there - and though there are people who work as hard, no one does it as selflessly as Adam did. It's really sad for me to think that only now is he getting the credit he always deserved for stepping to the plate time and time again. I guess we - I - took him for granted, accepting his dedication with less than full measures of gratitude. If you're out there, Adam, thanks for all you did.

More than being a Democrat, though, Adam was just a good guy to know. I went to school with him, and we slogged through the same morass that is the computing department at Tech. We Tech people finally convinced him to try some sushi at Rusan's one time, but I don't think he ever really took a shine to the wasabi. I remember how he always used to drink cheap bottled bear no matter how many times I ragged him to drink something good for a change. I remember talking politics with him and Alan back in January at the Vortex. Most of all though, I remember all those things that made him uniquely Adam, too many to go into detail, and it's just awful to know that those things are gone forever now.

*sigh* Adam, you're already missed, and it's been such a short time... Rest in peace......

Remembering and continuing

Adam's memorial service will be on Tuesday in Greer, South Carolina.The graveside service will start in the afternoon at Memorial Woods in Duncan, SC. and will be followed by a service at Memorial United Methodist Church in Greer. If you are interested in going let me know and I will send you the details as I recieve them.

Several people have inquired to where they can send cards and flowers. If you would like Adam's mother's address please send me an e-mail or call me and I will provide that for you.

We will have our own service to celebrate Adam's life at Manuel's Tavern on Saturday, March 11th, starting at 7pm. We have not decided on a format yet, but people will certainly be allowed to speak as they wish. The purpose is to give us all a chance to remember Adam and be with eachother while we go through this time. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend. If you plan to do so, please send an e-mail to Page Gleason (alupkg@yahoo.com)

Earlier that day we have scheduled our Executive Committee meeting to start at 11am and our Consitution Covention to start at 12:30. The Executive Committee meeting will be postponed until March 25th where it will be held in Macon Ga. Instead, we will try to get a jump start on the discussions for Constitution to ensure being done before we gather at Manuel's. If you plan on attending the Constituion Convention please let Richard Campbell know (Richard.Campbell@yahoo.com)

As a reminder, we are still having the Murphy Reception on Thurseday, March 9th at Park Tavern. Tickets for Young Democrats are $25, $50 for friends. We will be honoring Senator David Adelman with the "Friend of the Young Democrats Award." Please plan to come. For more information, please contact Justice Schunior (JSchunior@sjha.org)

Obviously, this has been a trying and stressful time for us all. Our busiest time of year has also become our saddest. Adam deserves to be memorialized in every way, and it is difficult to consider continuing with such things as revising the constitution and raising money with this grief hanging over us. Yet, I know that Adam would have it no other way and so pressing on the best we can is what we must do. If you would like more information about anything or just want to talk, please feel free to call me on my cell phone, 404-314-7472.

Billy Joyner


Young Democrats of Georgia

A tragic loss

It is with great sadness that I inform you that Adam Stevens passed away earlier this week. While the cause of death has not yet been determined, we believe he passed due to existing medical problems. Adam was 24.

There are few people in this organization who Adam had not touched. He was one of our most experienced leaders, starting his involvement in the Young Democrats of Georgia when he founded the Georgia Tech Young Democrats after the 2000 election. On the state level, Adam held many positions within the Young Democrats of Georgia including Communications Director, Vice President of Programs, President of the College Democrats of Georgia, and Vice President of Membership. On the chapter level, Adam served as President of the Georgia Tech Young Democrats, Communication Chair of the Young Democrats of Fulton County, as well as founder and President of the Gwinnett Young Democrats. Adam was a State Committee member of the Democratic Party of Georgia and was actively involved in the Gwinnett County Democratic Party.

No one was more dedicated Adam. He campaigned wherever he was needed, be it in Chickamauga, Georgia or New Orleans, Louisiana. He worked hard to elect some of our greatest leaders in this state, including Shirley Franklin and Max Cleland. Moreover, he left his mark on the Young Democrats of Georgia by creating several of our most popular programs, The Platform Convention and our Internship Program.

More than all of that, though, Adam was a great friend. He was as dedicated to his friends as he was to the Democratic Party. He spoke his mind and fought for what he believed was right. Many people were lucky enough to count Adam as a friend and all our lives are now left with a void that can never be filled.

I spoke with Adam's mother yesterday. She told me how much all the work Adam did for us meant to him. She knows that Adam called Georgia home, however she is going to bring him home to his family. The funeral will be held in South Carolina. Arrangements have not yet been made, but I will let everyone know as soon as they have.

I know that many people will not be able to make it to South Carolina for a service there, so we will have a memorial service of our own in Atlanta.

More of a celebration of Adam's life than anything else, we will gather at Manuel's Tavern at 7pm on March 11 (a week from Saturday) after the Constitution Convention. I will announce more details in the next few days.

I sincerely apologize to many of you who are hearing this sad news for the first time. We made a diligent effort to speak to as many of Adam's friends as we could yesterday, but we surely missed some of you.

Adam was one of those truly wonderful people who made this world a brighter place. He will be greatly missed.

With sadness,

Billy Joyner
Young Democrats of Georgia
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posted by Ataru Atlanta at 3/03/2006 11:58:00 PM 0 comments


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