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

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The fight card is set
Today's blogger

The annual circus known as "qualifying" in Georgia has finally ended. Let's look at some of the highlights...

  • Cobb County's very own Bill Bolton inexplicably decided to qualify to run for governor. I can think of many better uses for the qualifying fee...

  • The rumor mill has it that Steen Miles could shake up the lieutenant governor's race. I've heard conflicting reports about whether she's going to steal more votes from Jim or Greg; we may be looking at a runoff.

  • Ten total candidates for secretary of state. Kill me now.

  • Yeah, we got a candidate for Phil Gingrey. I admire the cajones, but it's very much a case of taking one for the team. Every other congressional seat is opposed, except for John Lewis' seat. Not bad recruitment wise.

  • We have the distinct joy of running Eric Ponder Lite (so I understand) in House 81. Be still my beating heart.

  • Neil Garvin appeared from nowhere to bear our banner in House 34. With a background in education, he's a guy I wish had shown up three months ago...

  • We qualified 109 state house candidates. Taking back the House will have to wait until 2008 (barring miracles), but hopefully we can at least gain some seats.

  • "Thunder" Tumlin can breathe a little easier with no opponent, and may be sipping on one of those mint juleps I'm sure a southern boy like Thunder can appreciate.

  • House 45 is like the jackpot us - not only is Matt Dollar a bad incumbent, he's got a primary opponent who redefines crazy. As evidence I submit this little bit of poetry by Craig Harfoot.

  • The cool thing about the qualifying list is that you get to see such horrible attempts at web sites. Take, for example, Jan Hackney's opponent in House 48: Elect Harry! Not only is it from 2004, my response to that "Thank you" in 64,000 point font is "Thanks for being a crappy state rep, and having a crappy website!" (Oh, and I love, love, love Jan's listed occupation: "Volunteer" - YAY JAN!!)

  • Hilarious website number two...

  • Die, Nancy Schaefer, die!

  • Sheila Jones has two primary opponents in House 44. Dang it people, leave our good state reps alone, all right? At least they're website challenged too... In all fairness, I guess there are plenty of great Democrats (Karla Drenner, Kathy Ashe) who have primary opposition, so rock on I suppose...

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posted by Ataru Atlanta at 4/29/2006 11:54:00 PM 4 comments

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Stars are Going Out and the Stripes are Getting Bent
Today's bloggerThere is a reason I am supposed to blog on Mondays. Now it’s Thursday and I am depressed.

I already have a sense of impending doom. And I don’t mean in the next five to ten years when our environment finally bites back and the world as we know it descends into a chaotic pit of hell. When Manhattan has slipped into the ocean, the coral reefs are all dead, and the heartland resembles the Sahara. That sucks too. But I am specifically dreading this May 24, exactly 28 days from now, when An Inconvenient Truth opens in select theaters. Oh, sure, I will learn a lot. But I know I will also be melting into my seat in the dark theater, uncontrollable tears sliding down my cheeks, my chin, into the creases on my neck under my ears. I will want to crawl under that theater seat at the end and get into the fetal position, my cheek pressed against the cold concrete floor, and my hair sticking to the old soft drinks. If I stay there, perhaps reality won’t be so real. At some point, perhaps after a good stiff drink, my anguish will inevitably turn to fury. And I will eventually ride that roller coaster back down into frustration and disillusionment. Oh yes, I have a sense of impending doom.

(For the love of god, people, can’t you make her blog on Mondays?)

How are we idealists to survive it? How can we bear this knowledge and yet carry on? Is there any possibility of light or laughter in this doomed and bitter world?

Last night my husband and I went to see Ani DiFranco at Variety. She’s been off the road for a while resting her carpal tunnel and at first the absence showed. But damn, did she ever get warmed up. If you don’t know Ani, do yourself a favor and go get one of her nearly 20 studio albums. Oh, start with….Living in Clip (hmm, if you’re really mad at someone, go straight to Dilate). There are another handful of ‘Official Bootlegs’ (oxymoron?). And if you have the chance to go see this tiny, explosive woman, don’t miss it. She packs more poetry and power and politics and pain into a set than you can possibly imagine. The title of my blog is taken from her song Decree. Here are a few more of the lyrics:

and cancer, the great teacher
has been opening schools
downstream from every factory
still, everywhere fools are
squinting into microscopes
researching cells
trying to figure out a way
that we can all live in hell

well, step back, look up
you'll see i'm dimming the sun
but you won't, will you?
oh, that's a good little one

'cause daddy knows best
yes, this is the news
in 90 second segments officially produced
and aired again and again and again
by the little black and white pawns
of the network yes men
while the stars are going out
and the stripes are getting bent

You can’t imagine the way her voice drips alternately with honey when she sings about the America we all love and with poison when she sings about the forces that are trying to ruin our country, our beautiful, radical community of equals.

And yet…as my husband said as we were leaving last night…she’s giggly. Giggly? GIGGLY! Just like all of us, she often wants to get under the theater seat, but she somehow taps into joy and an unswerving patriotism that compels her to keep singing. I guess it’s optimism. Maybe it’s FIRE. In another amazing song called Fuel, she sings,

am i headed for the same brick wall
is there anything i can do about
anything at all?
except go back to that corner in manhattan
and dig deeper, dig deeper this time
down beneath the impossible pain of our history
beneath unknown bones
beneath the bedrock of the mystery
beneath the sewage systems and the path train
beneath the cobblestones and the water mains
beneath the traffic of friendships and street deals
beneath the screeching of kamikaze cab wheels
beneath everything i can think of to think about
beneath it all, beneath all get out
beneath the good and the kind and the stupid and the cruel
there's a fire just waiting for fuel

there's a fire just waiting for fuel

I hope after the movie I can find my fire and use the difficult emotions for my fuel.

I will go back to that corner in Manhattan (or Sandy Springs) and dig deeper, dig deeper this time.
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posted by Emily at 4/27/2006 11:06:00 AM 3 comments

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Donkey fur flying today
Well, the moment we've been dreading has arrived: Cathy and Mark have gotten dirty. Really dirty.

Every move, every snide remark from Rick Dent, and every stupid Wikipedia edit by Morton Brilliant (irony anyone?) is finding its way into the hands of partisan bloggers and AJC reporters everywhere. Concerns from some Cathy supporters about whether the Cox campaign could stand up to the Taylor campaign's attack tactics have, in stark terms, been laid to rest, leaving us face-to-face with the certainty that our nominee will look like Mike Tyson's personal punching bag by August.

We've got Cathy calling Mark a liar over a parliamentary technicality on HOPE. We've got Mark (in Rick Dent's voice) calling Cathy "just another politician" as though he'd somehow achieved Zen as a policitican who, well, isn't one. The only time these people can agree is when it comes time to turn on Kristin Oblander. And the Democratic blogosphere looks like downtown Baghdad, for crying out loud.

Are we supposed to be happy about this?
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posted by Ataru Atlanta at 4/26/2006 07:04:00 PM 4 comments

It's scary
Today's bloggerSo leads the headline of an April 2006 article in National Geographic magazine. It's scary. It's expensive. It could save the earth. And they're right. So today, on the twentieth anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident, I've been contemplating that ugly green glowing genie of nuclear power.

A good way to start warming up to nuclear energy (aside from standing near a fuel rod) is to listen to our boy, Al Gore. Remember him, the guy who should be president? He's bringing us a fun summer movie, An Inconvenient Truth; go watch the trailer, and then you might realize why as scary as nuclear accidents and waste may be, I'm more afraid of waking up in the world described therein. I'm more afraid of my kids or grandkids waking up under the ocean. And as an engineer, my gut just tells me that we'll be technologically more capable of containing the nuclear genie than of rolling back a century of carbon emissions once we've crossed some invisible line.

One thing that might help would be successful demonstration of Generation IV reactor technology, like the gas cooled fast reactor. These new reactor systems would use a fuel composition and core design that would be virtually catastrophe-proof; they do not have a meltdown failure mode because of the way the fuel is cooled and neutrons are moderated. It's like a Ron Popeil "set it and forget it" rotisserie grill, only not as tasty. The South Africans are pulling far ahead of us on the technology as we speak, because while the White House thinks promoting healthy marriages is worth $250 million for FY07 alone, developing safe, meltdown-proof nuclear power generation so we can keep the ice caps icy is so ridiculously important it warrants a whopping $32 million in the budget request. Subsidies for lazy-ass utility companies who won't invest a nickel of capital in new generation without being begged and bribed, on the other hand: $54 million for Nuclear Power 2010.

Oh, and all that hoo-hah you hear about driving hydrogen cars someday? A generous $114 million -- and that includes some of the more ridiculous methods for generating hydrogen, like squeezing it out of coal. (The coal industry is so psyched up about the amount of money it might trick out of the taxpayer that they're running these TV ads with cute little kids telling us to go to the coal industry website to learn how clean it is these days. Beware anything that requires cute kids to sell it -- you know what that third box of Samoas or Tagalongs did to you. Clean coal is a joke, just not the funny kind.) $114 million a year to bring you that hydrogen car. $114 million will also buy you eight hours of the Iraq War, so we can secure the oil to drive your non-hydrogen car.

And $32 million a year (2.3 hours of Iraq War) for safe, proliferation-resistant nuclear energy -- the waste of which will be an order of magnitude less radioactive, due to the way it converts the heavy actinide elements. Oh, we'll still have to bury the crap in the ground, don't get me wrong; just instead of guarding the hole in the ground for millenia, we'll only have to watch it for a few centuries, and engineers can think in terms of centuries. I'm not saying nuclear power (not fission, anyway) is the end game of power generation for this country and this planet, but for now, it's the best thing we've got over coal and oil, and I think we need to start living with the idea for the next century until we figure out something better.

It is an inconvenient truth, indeed.
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posted by Aerodad at 4/26/2006 03:59:00 PM 1 comments

Monday, April 24, 2006

Practicing Joy
Today's bloggerI took a break from blogging last week in honor of the Easter holiday. But Easter is still on my mind these days. The Christian holiday is what I am most knowledgeable about, but I find it fascinating that at least Jews and Pagans are also celebrating liberation, rebirth and renewal during this time of year. I don’t know what other world religions are doing right now, but, at least in Atlanta, it’s hard to imagine not celebrating the return of spring and new life in some way or another.

I like this yearly exhortation by the planet and by my faith to put on my best clothes and celebrate the triumph of life over death, freedom over slavery, or however you want to describe it. One of the aspects of faith that I have found most helpful is the yearly cycle of religious observance. Through Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter and Pentecost I get in touch with the gamut of emotions we human beings can have in response to our existence. Anticipation, hope, pain, anxiety, loss and joy all have their place.

Some people find this calendar of proscribed states of mind to be rigid and confining. Personally, I think of them more as guidelines. Some years I have felt like I was in a permanent state of Lent. Another year, I got half way through with Lent and decided I’d had enough introspective sadness and I declared my own personal Easter. It’s good to be flexible. But the point is to make sure you have a little of them all.

For many Democrats, 2002 and 2004 had more than their share of Lent. I think especially of the 2004 post election blame and reproach both from our own people and from outsiders. We hadn’t done enough grassroots organizing, we hadn’t countered the attacks on Kerry fast enough, we hadn’t reached out to “values voters”, and the list goes on and on. I own a “Sorry World” t-shirt and commemorative book so that I can advertise the collective guilt and repentance of the Democratic Party. Since then, I and so many other Democrats have read about, discussed and studied our foibles. We’ve had focus groups and workshops and brainstorming sessions. It’s been a long Lent.

Enough guilt, enough analysis. A year and a half later I believe it’s time to claim our Easter. The primary activity of Easter, as far as I can tell, is to be joyful. Many people might balk at the idea of being joyful before we have actually won much of anything, much less done much of anything. Also, I think a lot of us good hearted Democrats have a hard time with joy because it seems wrong to celebrate when there is so much to mourn – global warming, the war in Iraq, the state of our economy, etc. Shouldn’t we hold off on the joy until the victory celebration in November?

Absolutely not. The reason I celebrate Easter year after year is that I need to practice being joyful. That may sound odd but I think it’s true. To be joyful without forgetting the misery and brokenness of our world takes practice. But really it only means acting out what we believe is true – that a better world – a more just and compassionate world - is possible and that the actions we take can help make it better. That’s enough reason to be joyful – that we don’t have to accept this poor excuse for government, that we won’t let our fellow human beings languish in miserable poverty, and that we will find ways to preserve and heal our sick and poisoned planet. We have to know and feel all this down deep in our core before we do the work we need to do. If we don’t believe in this better world then what the hell are we doing? Just keeping ourselves busy until we’re bombed, polluted or starved to death?

In the Christian calendar, Pentecost, the season of work and everyday struggle comes immediately following Easter. Joy comes before the real work begins. Before we head out to do the work of canvassing, phone banking and registering voters that will consume us this summer and fall, let’s take some time to practice joy. I hate to give advice that I won’t follow, but I think a great idea for practicing joy would be to participate in the Inman Park Festival Parade this coming Saturday (unfortunately, I have to be out of town, but I want to see lots of pictures!). There will be all kinds of people being their own wildly different selves, and there will be kids and artists and music and good food and lots and lots of potential Young Democrats. What better place to get in touch with our joyful vision of a better world?

If we mentally prepare ourselves to be a victory kind of people, then, when we are fighting hard this summer and fall we will be able to draw upon that core belief - that the change we bring will result in a better world.
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posted by Justice at 4/24/2006 06:15:00 PM 1 comments

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Meeting After the Meeting
I know that today is not my day to blog, but I got together last night after Happy Hour with a few friends and we began talking about we are doing as Democrats to turn our Party and Country around. To me it was interesting enough and important enough for me to cut into someone's else day to blog about it. We talked mainly about our goals about we are trying to achieve through our political activism. What is that end game that drives us and movitates us each and every single that we get up and do it all over again. We had 12 very different people sitting at the table last night, but they all had something to say. All of our goals seem to be different,but the same ultimately. First I really would like to thank them for their imput and for putting up with my questions and concerns about where we are headed as a Party. It helps knowing that I'm not alone with my worries, fears, doubts about if we are doing enough to help Take Back what is rightfuly ours. It also helps knowing we have awesome people getting it done simply because they care enough to do it. Here is what everyone had to say from our discussion last night and if I miss quote you I'm very sorry and please post the correct goal.

Kevin: Make the everyday average person responsible for their actions across the board.

Benson: To smash the crazy Republicans

Will: Hammer the Revolution home and to bring the meek out so they are not afraid to speak out and join us in our fight.

Page: To reform the Democratic Party from within.

Big Sexy: Full equality for the LBGT

Jason: Want to be the infection for moderate Republicans to vote Democratic or to be the cure.

Aaron and I as it turns out have the same goal: We both want to reclaim our Democratic values and ideas back from theose Republican thieves.

Daniel: To empower, to engage, to educate young people to show them that they do make a difference in the political process and its up to all of us to care enough to keep united in the good fight.

Emily: Knowing that everyday is working toward that Take Back The State with District 48.

Tim: He wants to be the Devolution of the Democratic Party that was started in 1968 and install populism as the major driving component of the Democratic Party.

Betsy: She actually conferenced called in because she had to save the environment at Sweet Water 420 Fest and couldn't actually join us. She wants clean water and air for everyone.

We talked a lot last night about a lot things, but the quote of the night belongs to Emily when we are talking about Religion in the Democratic Party and to me she hit the nail on the head. Emily I hope I do not miss quote to badly here, " Some of us would say more if we weren't such good Chirstians". My charge to all of you out there reading this blog is this what is your goal in your political activism? What is it that you hope to achieve? How are you going to help get us to where you want us to be? Write them down and own them. You could post them here for all of us to see that mean you might actually have to do something about it if you make it public knowledge?

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posted by Melissa at 4/21/2006 09:14:00 AM 0 comments

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Virus going around
Today's bloggerI've presented or co-presented three workshops in the last several months on internet technology and communications, and the only thing more disheartening than the number of progressives who aren't leveraging technology effectively (if at all) is the number of them that are Young Democrats. I went easy on the audience when I was talking to grown-ups, but c'mon, kids, this is your twenty-first century; catch up!

"Back when I was growing up," as the geezer diatribe often begins, "we didn't have no stinkin' internets. We had to walk uphill through six feet of snow to get porn." I wasn't quite hip (or unhip, depending on your perspective) enough in the 80's to get on the BBS bandwagon, but by the time Prodigy (not the techno-industrial band) rolled around, I was amazed at the amount of people my computer could put me in touch with. I wonder whatever happened to my bass guitarist pen-pal in Oregon, anyway.... When I got to college, I discovered that even something as simple as e-mail was still the exclusive domain of engineering and computer science majors. The Mac- and PC-populated computer labs were where liberal arts and business students typed up and printed out papers, and that's about it; you had to invade the heavily air-conditioned, Unix-based SunSPARC computer clusters in the engineering building to find anyone seriously exploring the fledgling world wide web. Even then, however, we had to hunt quite haphazardly through text-based interfaces like Gopher to get to the Simpsons sound files and low-grade 256-color porn.

Can you imagine? It's a miracle we ever came out of the caves.

Then one day, this new program got installed on all our machines, NCSA Mosaic, some "browser" that interpreted some crap called "hypertext markup language," and before we knew what hit us, every geek had some kind of online presence and more porn than they knew what to do with. It was less than two years later that I was receiving flame email from some snot-nosed 10 year old kid in middle school telling me what a crappy website I had, and that I could learn a thing or two from his. "Ten year olds have websites now," I asked? He took great offense at that, indignantly asserting he had just as much right to put up a website as some budding rocket scientist in South Bend; I said I only meant that I already felt like a dinosaur, 'cause the computer I had when I was ten didn't even connect to the telephone, let alone the "internet." Whatever happened to playing "guns" and riding bikes, kid?

Apparently that 10 year old was unique among his classmates, 'cause now that they're twenty-somethings, they are far from universally web-savvy. Yes, I'm talking about some of you. There's certainly just enough knowledge out there to be dangerous, creating audiovisual disasters of a "pimped-out" MySpace profile, but when it comes to doing something useful, we've got a long way to go. I hope the Young Republicans aren't any better at it than we are, because we sorely need some kind of advantage.

Why? Because according to this AJC article that Christine sent me the other day, the Georgia GOP has TEN TIMES as much money in the bank as our Democratic Party. Four million bucks to our four hundred thousand. Expect to start seeing the effects on the TV come August. They're going to hammer us.

So what can we do? Two words: viral video.
Democrats and Republicans are sharply increasing their use of e-mail, interactive Websites, candidate and party blogs, and text-messaging to raise money, organize get-out-the-vote efforts and assemble crowds for a rallies. The Internet, they said, appears to be far more efficient, and less costly, than the traditional tools of politics, notably door knocking and telephone banks.

Analysts say the campaign television advertisement, already diminishing in influence with the proliferation of cable stations, faces new challenges as campaigns experiment with technology that allows direct messaging to more specific audiences, and through unconventional means.

Those include Podcasts featuring a daily downloaded message from a candidate and so-called viral attack videos, designed to trigger peer-to-peer distribution by e-mail chains, without being associated with any candidate or campaign.

President Bush's media consultant, Mark McKinnon, said television advertising, while still critical to campaigns, had become markedly less influential in persuading voters than it was even two years ago.

"I feel like a woolly mammoth," McKinnon said.

That doesn't mean we don't still need you to come door knocking and phone banking with us, but it's another weapon in our arsenal (if anyone can figure out how it works, of course). Our Democrat for Insurance Commissioner, Guy Drexinger, is already on the ball. While they ain't the funniest things I've ever seen, both his live-action and flash animated ads have mades the rounds on the 'net to supplement their limited TV run and give him a real bang for the buck. And remember those college kids that did the drive-55-on-285 mockumentary? Within a few days of their film hitting Google Video, they were featured on just about every local news outlet. Even blatant political ads can get free airtime if they suddenly become "news;" remember those Swiftboat jackholes? Think about it: how many times did you see the ad on its own, and how many times did you see it re-played on CNN and the Sunday circuit?

A few of us have been bouncing around ideas at Manuel's and the happy hours about our own quick-and-dirty ad campaigns, but we haven't quite got the mad Flash skills to execute them. In our defense, we're thirty-something, so step off. It's up to you yout's to get out your virtual crayons and pencils and help us put Homestar Runner to shame. If you've got what it takes to animate or take decent video, won't you let us know?
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posted by Aerodad at 4/20/2006 04:15:00 PM 2 comments

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

What I Stand For Is Not A Question
Today's blogger I just finished the book Take It Back by James Carville and Paul Begala. They would like for us as Democrats to stop being wimpy and stand up for what we believe as Democrats. Well alright James and Paul I will stand up and shout out loud for the Democratic values that we hold dear. I think though Gretchen Wilson says it best in her new song right now that she sings with the great Merle Haggard. The side note here is that I'm a big country music fan, but still I'm a Democratic go figure that. Its called Political Uncorrect and it goes like this.
"I'm for the low man on the totem pole and I'm for the underdog God Bless his soul and I'm for the guys still pulling third shift and the single mom raisin her kids. I'm for the preachers who stay on their knees and I'm for the sinner who finally believes and the farmer with dirt on their hands and the soliders who fight for this land...chorus and I'm for the Bible and I'm for the flag and the for the working man."
This is the song that I play everytime I head off to one our meetings or head off to some political function of some sort because to me James, Paul and Gretchen have it right. We need to make a stand. Why have the Republicans taken our core values away from us? Why have we let them? Why have we been to scared of the issues that belong to us in the first place. Well enough is enough I say. We need to be shouting from the roof tops that we aren't going to take it anymore. They claim they are the party of Christian moral values. Huh! Are they kidding me? Have they fallen down hitten their heads on something. We are, I hate to tell them. We are the party of tolerance, exceptance and not being judgemetal of those who are different then us. We are more in line with what the Bible teaches then they are. We believe in helping the poor through charity and tax relief. We are the party that wants to perserve what God gave us. We are the party that want to protect the environment so that there will be plenty of green space, clean water and air for future generations. We are the party that really wants to help God's people by providing health care and those social services that a lot of people are in desperate need of. Because let me tell you folks health care is a right and not a privilege like some people would want you to believe. The more right wing crap I hear the more fired up I become. Could someone please tell me why I can't stand behind our military and still be against the war in Iraq? Just because I'm not for the war does not mean I do not stand with our troops who are doing a job that they have been asked to do. Why has the Republican party taken National Sercurity and have made it their own and why does this country seem to think the Republican Party is the party that is going to save us from another terriorist attack? We have to call them on every value they taken away from us and say to them I don't think so.
Let the Sadie Fields, the Pat Robertson, the Senator Santorum's and the whoever else they had better watch out because a Revolution is a coming. The new day will dawn on November 7th when we go to the polls when we Take Back The State and Make The New South the Blue South. Maybe we won't be able to get all done on this election cycle, but we can put them on notice. Because I'm for one aren't going to stand around anymore with my tongue held between my teeth. Everytime I engage in a conversation with a Republican whether it be my brother Hal or my sister Carrie or my Uncle Mike or even my mom's best friend Lois I will tell them exactly where the Democratic Party stands. I'm going to take Paul and James's advice and I'm going to take the fight to them. I'm no longer going to be accused of being a wimp or being afraid of issues that we have a better stance on because we are in the minority. The line in the sand has been drawn and war has been declared on Our Democratic Values and I for one are taking them back. We have to win this fight. Because as Alisha Thomas Morgan said the people who need us they us now. I had saying once when my mom was going through chemotherpy and holds true for this as well Failure is Not a Option.

Melissa Thompson
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posted by Melissa at 4/18/2006 09:01:00 AM 2 comments

Monday, April 17, 2006

Ready to Run
Today's bloggerHey, are you interested in running for office at some point in your life?

Unless your answer was “oh HELL no,” then the time to get ready is now – even if you see a run as something in a distant, misty future. Nothing is predictable and the chance to run will come up when you least expect it. People retire, districts get redrawn, districts change character. If you aren’t ready to pull the trigger, then your golden opportunity may leave you behind – and thereby leave the rest of us without your leadership. For every single one of us, here are five action items I propose for those of us who one day aspire to make a run:

1) Figure out which offices you would like to hold

Would you be willing to serve in City Council? School Board? State House? State Senate? (Have you ever WATCHED a City Council Meeting? Not for the faint of heart.) Good Democrats are doing good work at every level of government. Identify a range of options you would be willing to pursue.

2) Get to know your district(s)

Once you have identified which offices you would be willing to hold, identify your district. How much do you know about your district? Do you know all the neighborhoods? What is the nature and character of those neighborhoods? Have you driven to each end – north, south, east, and west? Do you know where there are schools, hospitals, nursing homes, churches?

3) Make decisions that will increase your visibility across your district

No need to change your life just yet, but if you can kill two birds with one stone, then do it. For instance, if you are a regular volunteer at any organization outside your district, is it possible to do the same type of service inside your district? Can you become a regular patron at business inside your district, rather than outside? If you feel you have more time to give, think about associations and committees you can join within your district.

4) Make a list (physical or mental) of the first ten calls you would need to make

For nearly any race in the metro area, you will definitely need a paid campaign consultant. Start asking around about who does what kinds of campaigns, and who has a good reputation. Again, doesn’t have to be a major project, just keep your radar on for the types of folks who are offering this service. Also, think about which of your friends and associates could potentially write you checks, or offer some other type of key service, like serving as a campaign committee chair, or offer a key endorsement. It never hurts to do a few favors for people – mostly because it’s nice to do, but it helps to have a few to call in, too.

5) Let them know you’re on the bench

Is the current incumbent a solid, hard-working Dem? Then let them know you’re interested in serving one day. Emphasize you don’t want to challenge them for their seat, just that you would like to consider being his or her successor. Even if you don’t think you’re ready, it can’t hurt to let them know that someone talented is ready to take the baton when they are ready to hand off. Planting the seed could also encourage your current officeholder to reach out to you with learning and networking opportunities. Who knows, they might even dissuade challengers when the time comes by endorsing your candidacy.

We are never going to achieve our political goals unless good people serve as elected officials. Go ahead…put a toe in the water.
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posted by Emily at 4/17/2006 09:37:00 PM 5 comments

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Liberal Democrat - what's wrong with that?
Today's blogger

I'm disturbed by a comment left by a recent visitor to Georgia Politics Unfiltered. This visitor claimed that Allen Thornell is at least as liberal as Nan Orrock (whose vacant seat in the 58th House district he is running to fill), and that this was somehow inimical to the interests of the state party.

Now, don't get me wrong – I'm all in favor of strategic positioning and messaging from our statewide candidates, and from our local candidates who have to win in moderate districts. But the 58th district is one of the most liberal districts in the entire state, and I see no reason whatsoever not to stand up and cheer for Allen, who promises to be an outspoken, much-needed voice for progressives under the Gold Dome. Why should we not be happy that the GLBT community will be represented by one of their own, not only a gay man but one who understands firsthand the challenges HIV presents to Georgia?

I see this same fear of outspoken liberalism in the whole Cynthia McKinney debacle. Cynthia has certainly damaged the Democratic cause with her recent dramatics, but there is no justification for attacking her outspokenness. Who else among Democrats stood up in those early Iraq months and took the attack to Bush for his administration's bungling of the war? Denise Majette may be less dramatic, but she will have a hard time equaling Cynthia's strength of conviction.

Why are some Democrats afraid to bring in heavy hitters from districts that can elect them? Without these strong voices speaking truth to power, our party is nothing more than Republican Lite, Sonny Perdue without the egregious fashion misstatements. Who will carry our banner when our enemies under the Gold Dome dredge legislation like the voter ID bill from the filth they wallow in? Let us be proud of our strongest warriors rather than sacrificing their ideals on the altar of centrism.
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posted by Ataru Atlanta at 4/16/2006 04:48:00 PM 4 comments

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Extra gross
There's something extra disgusting about watching Fox News on Easter weekend (yes, I do this from time to time just to remind me why I still fight the fight). Watching all these psychotically money-hungry jackholes in suits screaming about those dirty illegals "taking from us" and "getting a free ride on the services we're paying for with our hard-earned money" (yes, real hard-earned sitting there on TV in your nice suit and air conditioned studio), I honestly can't believe this comes from the news station favored by so-called Christians. Even more heartening was when one xenophobe pointed out that "most of the financial drain comes through their children," getting that education and quality emergency room health care.

God forbid we actually help out our neighbors, when these same heartless fascists are more than happy to parade all of the "progress" being made in Iraq through the schools and hospitals we're building over there with my tax dollars! Stupid Iraqi childrens, always looking for a handout.

Maybe we should just carpet Mexico with precision guided munitions so the right-wing "Christians" will finally be interested in giving them a job, a textbook, and an antibiotic or something.

Happy Easter, everyone.
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posted by Aerodad at 4/15/2006 12:01:00 PM 0 comments

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Cynthia + Denise = *shrug*
If the most "explosive" news of the day is Denise Majette trading a suicide run for a longshot run, I call that a slow news day. I'll come out and say I'm glad Denise has left Carlotta Harrell to run a doomed but honest campaign against Bad Kathy - I just hope she doesn't beat Cynthia McKinney, as much because I'm afraid of what a beaten Cynthia might unleash on us as anything else. Neither Denise nor Cynthia has been particularly endearing to me of late, though, so I really can't say I envy you 4th district people. Have fun!
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posted by Ataru Atlanta at 4/13/2006 05:35:00 PM 3 comments

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

My Friends and My Place Among Them
Here it is another Tuesday which tells me it is my turn to blog. Its funny really that nothing political is really nipping at me and there is a lot going on right now that really should be. The perfect example of this is the immigration issue the U.S. is facing and I should be all fired up about it today especially after the big march that took place yesterday, but for some reason I have another thought that has been nipping at me ever since I got back from Australia. I'm not exactly sure if this is the place or vehicle to express such a thought, but I figured what the heck its my day to blog and I can do what I want.
When I got back from AU I came home to the very sad news about Adam Stevens passing away. Its not news that you like to come home to. Now I only meet him twice and unfortunately I will never really get to know him. My thinking, here is this 24 year old who has his whole life ahead of him and he had the world waiting to see what he will bring to it and sadly we will never know because he passed away much to young. His passing has caused me to be reflective about if he knew what he meant to his family, friends and to this organization that he obviously cared very deeply for and with that it has made me consider the possibility that my friends and this organization may not know how I feel about them. Before another day goes by I want my friends and the Young Democrats of Atlanta to know what you mean to me.
I have a core group of friends in the Young Democrats of Atlanta. These are the people that I look to for advice, for support, for help and just plain look up to. In no particular order so as not to hurt anyone feelings Nikema, Betsy, Page, Benson, Jason, Tim, Big Sexy,Will, Daniel, TJ and Billy. On Saturday night we had gathered at Betsy's house to celebrate her birthday and while we were standing there in her living room talking about how we are going to turn this state blue again and about how we are going to win in TJ's House District race it became clear to me that I had to tell them how much this group of people mean to me. It was a moment taken from a movie when all the sudden I couldn't hear the music playing or the conversations that were taking place all I had was a feeling of friendship wash over and I knew right there and then there wasn't anything I wouldn't do for any of them. I would go to the mattressess for any one of them if they asked me to because I know they would do the same for me. These people are what one them call"good people". I believe that is correct, but these people are also some of the smartest and most dedicated people I have ever met. Each one of them brings something unique to my life that I have been blessed with. I have often thought I need to channel Nikema, Betsy and Page when I'm not feeling my strongest. If I could do that more than 50% of the time watch out it would be a sight to see. Benson is like one of those one name famous people like Sting, Prince, Clinton and Obama that is all you have to say and that is enough. I once had someone ask me what does Benson do and I said that I didn't know he was just Benson that seemed to be enough. If I had a ounce of courage like TJ I might consider running for something other then Membership Chair, but I think for now I will live that up to him. No matter if he wins or loses he has shown me what bravery is all about by himself out there to run for public office. Daniel and Jason I can always count on for understanding sympathy for the other point of view on things. These two people are exetremely patient with me even when I'm not patient with myself. Big Sexy is the person who I can always count on to make me laugh and blush at the same time. Just when I think I have heard it all from Big Sexy he comes at me with something totaly off the wall that makes me turn redder then the time before. Tim, is the guy who is always free with a hug and he will be the guy I turn to at the bar if someone is bothering me and I say I'm with him. He knows that he can do the same with me if a guy is bothering him he can turn to me and I say I'm with her. Will, well I think he thinks I'm his driver because I seem to be the one he turns to when he needs to pick up at his corner or be driven to the "Bat Cave". I feel special because very few people have ever been to the "Bat Cave" and had live to tell the tale. Will is a neat guy with loads of perspective on life. Billy' s knowledge on Georgia politics makes me glad that he is on our side. If I could have one fifth of his knowledge on Georgia politics I would be in good shape. If you have never listen to him at Manuel's explaining the differences in each House District then you are missing something. It makes you wonder if Billy has any room in his brain for anything other then politics. Even when we hurt each other or disagree with one another I know at the end of the day we still have each other's back. There is not one of them that I could not call upon for anything. This core group of people mean a lot to me. These people are the ones that help make the fight worthwhile. My group of friends help me to keep going when I think that giving up would be easier. These people are the people that I would hate to late down in a million years because I know they would never let me down. When I do not have the energy to keep moviated I think about this group of people and I get back up and keep going. This core group of people mean a lot to me. I wanted to tell them before another goes by. Now, these core group of friends that I have make up just a part of the bigger picture and that picture is the Young Democrats of Atlanta.
I was talking with Daniel last week about where I fit in this organization. I may be the Membership Chair, but I feel like I have yet to find my role really YD ATL. I told him that I still have so much to learn from those who have been around longer then me that I can't seem to get a handle on my place in this organization. Daniel, being wise beyond his 23 years told me that is alright because we are still young, learning and growing. Most of us are still trying to find the same thing you are, but the important part is you found the YD ATL. Daniel is right about that. Maybe I have yet to find my voice in YD ATL, but here I can be myself. I can express my views on politics and social issues and not get strange looks from people. In the YD ATL I can fight for the causes that I hold dear and get a cheer instead of a HUH! I can vent my frustration and angrey of over Purdue or over the Bush adminstration and get a sympathic pat on the back or you are preaching to the choir instead of I think Bush is doing fine job. The point I'm trying to make here I may never have the leadership qualities or the smarts that Emily posses, I may never be as witty and or as clever as Shelby, Justi or Kate. I may never have Carly's spirit or Benson's attention to detail, but I'm dedicated, commited to our goals and loyal to this organization to my friends in it. We all have our place in YD ATL and we each play a role in it. This organization is what you want to make of it. I know what YD ATL means to me. It means extended family and friends working toward a common purpose. Do you know what YD ATL means to you?

Melissa Thompson
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posted by Melissa at 4/11/2006 11:40:00 AM 6 comments

D is for Dignidad
Today's bloggerI marched yesterday with an estimated crowd of over 40,000 people to assert the basic dignity of our latino brothers and sisters who have come to America seeking a better life.

The experience was so full that it has taken me a day to put my thoughts in some order. There are so many things I want to say. So many things we need to do.

I have heard that the debate over immigration is splitting both parties. I have heard that the policy issue is “complex” and “challenging.” I have largely bought into this conventional wisdom – you hear people say over and over again that “there’s no easy answer” and that’s what you start to say yourself. Ummm…..immigration…..well, there’s no easy answer.

But look, here’s the deal. There is NO good reason that this debate should split our party. We are letting each other off the hook on this. As for me, I’m done with politely listening to other points of view. The line between right and wrong is starting to burn very brightly. Time to get on the right side. And when we do – when we stand up for human dignity, fair treatment, security and opportunity, then we can lay rightful claim to an enormous group of voters who are our natural allies. The Republicans, measuring value as they do in dollars, do not care about the lives of these people. We measure value in families, in neighbors, and in communities. We care about these people. We want these people. We ARE these people.

So no more crazy waffling talk:

This issue is complex? Show me the national policy issue that is cut and dried. National security? Hmmm. No, that one’s pretty complex, too. Energy policy? Hmm. Yeah, a little tricky. Tax policy? That one’s hard. Post-Katrina recovery? Mmmm. Right. Folks, these issues ARE hard. The immigration issue is not unique in its inherent complexity. I am not buying that anymore as an excuse not to take a stand.

What about this one – it’s a simple law and order issue. These people have broken the law and they shouldn’t be rewarded for that. Right. Fine. No, they shouldn’t. Couple things, though. First, the companies that hire these workers broke the law, too. And no one is talking about sending them to jail. At one point our state legislation was talking about taking away their tax incentive. Disgusting. Second, when’s the last time you broke the law? Me? This morning. And I didn’t even have a noble excuse like, oh, feeding my family. I just wanted to get to work faster. Third, some laws outlive their usefulness and/or connection with reality. For instance, it is illegal in California to drive more than 2000 sheep down Hollywood Boulevard at any one time. Ooooookay. When your laws are so clearly broken that they aren’t building appropriate structures in which we can live together and do business together, then they need to be examined and modified. Hence our current effort at legislation!! Duh, of course they’re breaking the law. That’s why it’s even an issue. If no one was breaking the law and everything was hunky-dory, no one would be talking about it. What we need is a new, better, more useful set of laws that helps us in our current situation. And we don’t need to get caught up in ridiculous notions of sending people back to Mexico just for coming across our border to wash dishes. “Let the punishment fit the crime,” is a concept at the very foundation of our law and ethics. Forever separating parents from their children sounds like something Jack Bauer would threaten a terrorist, not what you need to do to your roofer. Law and order people, just get on down off that high horse and start helping to think of a solution.

I love this one – they don’t pay taxes – they just take and take and aren’t giving anything back. This thinking goes (perhaps logical enough on the face of it) I don’t want to provide incentive for these people to come here and break the law and get a free ride. Here’s my deal with this argument. It sounds awfully similar to any other argument against social safety nets. When do Republicans ever think “they” deserve any taxpayer support? Isn’t everyone supposed to use those bootstraps? This argument would hold more water for me if those people were all about helping the legal immigrants and other working poor in our communities. They’re not. Besides, immigrants, even illegal immigrants, DO PAY TAXES. Here is factual information from a recent report by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute:

• Using tax contribution calculations and estimates of average family income, we estimate that an average undocumented family in Georgia contributes between $2,340 and $2,470 in state and local sales, income, and property taxes combined. An undocumented family that does not pay income taxes would have a sales and property tax contribution of between $1,800 and $1,860.
• With an estimated population of between 228,000 and 250,000 and an income tax compliance rate of 50%, the aggregate sales, income, and property tax contribution could total between $215.6 million and $252.5 million for Georgia’s state and local coffers.

Their report goes on to cite a ten-year old study that found

“the net present value of immigrants’ estimated future tax payments exceeded the cost of services they were expected to use by $80,000 for the average immigrant and his or her descendants.”

Moreover, the report points out that undocumented immigrants are prohibited by FEDERAL LAW from receiving the vast majority of social services. Here is what you cannot receive if you are undocumented in our country:

• Food stamps
• Social Security
• Supplemental Security Income
• Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
• Full-Scope Medicaid
• Medicare “Premium Free” Part A (hospitalization)
• PeachCare (Georgia’s children’s health insurance)
• HUD Public Housing and Section 8 programs

Read the whole report (then send a donation to the GBPI).

So – they do pay taxes, they aren’t sucking us dry. But those corporations and top 1% sure are sucking us dry. Maybe if we hadn’t implemented all those TAX CUTS (in a time of war no less) we wouldn’t be struggling to provide the most basic services (elementary education and emergency room care) to those people who are currently making our posh houses affordable and cleaning them for us while we’re out…golfing…or whatever.

So what about those insecure borders? Yeah, that’s part of the problem we need to fix. Sure enough. Meanwhile, though, let’s remember to be up in arms about the Canadian border, which is where we’ve actually caught terrorists coming in. Look at a MAP – that one’s a LOT LONGER. And what about those pesky ports? What’s the last number of cargo containers that are inspected? I know it’s in the low single digits. So while we’re planning to build an enormous fence between ourselves and the SOUTH let’s weigh the opportunity cost and the projected value against security expenditures in these other important areas. Have we found our way to the xenophobia yet?

Well let’s get right at it then. Property values. I heard some b*%$@ on national news yesterday – a counter-protestor in Washington DC, I guess, say that she’s just sick and tired of “them coming here and driving down property values living so many in a house.” (Justi, you know what word I am thinking of here.) Where are your precious Christian values now, lady? Those “people” aren’t tacky lawn fixtures or vinyl siding. They are your NEIGHBORS. I seem to remember something about neighbors in the Bible. Let’s see, WWJD? I don’t think he would call code enforcement. Do you think they’re living many to a house because a) they can’t afford anything else while they work for $5 an hour and send most of it back to their families in another country so they can eat, b) because they haven’t been utterly spoiled by a standard of living (which requires thousands of square feet per home occupant) not seen in human history, or c) because they’re dirty people who don’t care about the neighborhood? Stop whining and take those people a CASSEROLE!

So, what SHOULD we be talking about in this debate? We should be talking about basic protections for all workers in our economy. We shouldn’t be talking about a permanent underclass not entitled to what we have defined as a minimum wage or minimum workplace safety. We shouldn’t be exposing parents in America to work hours that we put an end to 100 years ago. We should be figuring out how to make a real place for immigrants in our economy and what the heck to do about the flight of good jobs from our economy generally – for all of us. Even if we keep these people out, we are still in desperate need of creativity and leadership as we navigate the next global economic upheaval that is no longer dawning but is fully HERE. “Creativity and leadership.” There’s two words you don’t hear in the same sentence with “The Bush Administration.”

So – there it is. The immigration issue is a basic test of our values. Remember this?

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

People, that is our goal. That is what we believe in. That is why we salute the flag and sing the national anthem. That is what we value. Sure it’s hard, but are we Americans or not? Don’t we have a model of inclusion and ingenuity? Aren’t we the great experiment? Aren’t we AMERICA? We can DO this.

When you peel back the layers, there is one place for Democrats to be – with the immigrants. And come election day, there is one place for the immigrants to be. With the Democrats. Go forth and learn Spanish. Go forth and register voters. Go forth and explain that D is for Democrat, and for Dignidad.
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posted by Emily at 4/11/2006 10:56:00 AM 5 comments

YDAtl Podcast #6: Working Families - Documented or Otherwise
Today's episode brings you to the Georgia Capitol Building for the March 28th Working Families Day. A number of progressive groups, working families, Young Democrats, and a boatload of union members congregated on the Capitol steps for a rally in support of the issues that real Georgia families care about -- and often got shafted on by the Georgia General Assembly. Jobs are leaving Georgia like a hurricane hit us, school teachers are paying for supplies out of pocket, and people can barely afford to heat their homes. We hear from a number of average, everyday Georgians who tell us about how they struggle to make ends meet.

We also get a check-in by phone from President Emily Schunior and her fellow Young Dems who were marching for Fair Immigration Reform yesterday as part of the nationwide demonstrations. Hooray, VOIP!

Download here with a right-click Save-As, please. (34 minutes, 25MB)

Subscribe to the podcast with iTunes or your own favorite client.
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posted by Aerodad at 4/11/2006 10:06:00 AM 2 comments

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Values Thing
Today's bloggerI unfortunately missed the march for women’s lives this Sunday. I heard it was a great event and that YDAtl was well represented. I wish I could have been there. I enjoyed Benson’s post and Shelby’s highlights. Today, I wanted to focus some attention to Shelby’s final comment about his own reservations about this painful issue.

I agree that too often liberals assume that their opponents on abortion are simply misogynist assholes. I’m not saying that we need to be sensitive to the feelings of abortion clinic bombers and I know it’s hard to be polite when someone is waving a picture of a bloody fetus in your face. However, many thoughtful and loving individuals are pro-life and it might not hurt us to treat them with some respect. If you believe that a woman is carrying a life during a pregnancy you might be justified in your concern for how that life is treated. Saying “if you’re against abortion then don’t have one” is like saying to me “if you’re against child abuse, don’t abuse your child.” Not really an effective argument.

I have trouble with a lot of these moral/values issues – they always feel like red herrings to me – Republicans bring up divisive social issues to distract us from the fact that our democracy has been sold to a corporation. It’s not that I don’t think abortion, gay rights, and teaching evolution in classrooms are really, really important topics. It’s just that one’s opinions on these issues are so personal and so strongly held. I know other people have more patience than me with this kind of thing, but I just have no interest in arguing with a stone wall – which is how I feel when I talk to someone who is staunchly anti-choice or vehemently anti-gay rights.

Some of these people seem to be decent and intelligent and then we start the values argument and some chip gets activated in their brains and all real discussion ends. I actually think that’s how some people have thought of me, especially during the 2004 election year.

I have this feeling when I’ve been baited into a values debate that I’m being duped. I might be doing just fine and then all of a sudden I’m aflame with passionate anger. It’s easy to get the liberal riled about something. I must be the butt of some joke. I wonder how people think they’re going to legislate this stuff. How can you legislate something like abortion when the majority of people don’t even think it’s a sin? What is the plan for all those unplanned pregnancies? How morally satisfying will it be to punish young women? What about gay rights? What law would be effective? The one keeping them out of the military? What about one preventing them from living in committed partnerships with each other? No, this plan to create a fundamentalist, police state just doesn’t sound feasible. Have these guys been to Midtown Atlanta?

Sadly, it’s not a joke. And, even if it’s a diversion away from vital economic issues it’s a diversion with serious consequences that I can’t just blow off. But I think I would prefer to change the flavor of the debate – a debate with more compassion and consideration. The crazies – the Rick Santorum’s of the world – must be fought and exposed for the frauds they are. Many others however, should be treated with the respect and dignity due to any human being. We are always going to stand up for equal rights and for a women’s right to make her medical decisions. But we are also going to stand up for everyone’s right to voice their own opinion and for tolerance and respect.
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posted by Justice at 4/10/2006 07:24:00 PM 4 comments

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Hell hath no fury like pro-choice women scorned
Today's blogger

I hope I saw you today at the state capitol. Georgia's pro-choice community showed its strength again at the annual Walk for Women's Lives. Everyone who was there made a difference.

Rumors had been swirling about a large enemy turnout, but our marchers met with only token resistance. It was a pathetic showing for the anti-choicers, who managed to dredge only a handful of counterprotestors from their cesspools to pelt our people with pictures of fetuses and the usual "abortion kills children" patriarchist rhetoric. It remains amazing to me that the bloviating of men in suits continues to seduce women away from our ideal of self-empowerment.

I think our own turnout was somewhat better than last year. In any case it was a splendid day, and the steps of the capitol were a more inviting venue than the Methodist church was last year. Better planning let us march on the street this time, bringing our voice and presence to many passers-by.

I was highly disappointed that neither Mark nor Cathy could see fit to attend or even to send their people in today. For two people locked in mortal combat for the right to face Sonny Perdue in November, the disdain they showed to a large contingent of primary voters was profoundly sad. Apparently they have either decided to forego working from their base, or that pro-choice voters are not their base. It's cowardice that doesn't befit anyone with a D next to their name.

It's worth noting that not all our state candidates behaved so ignobly. Both Jim Martin and Greg Hecht strode fearlessly onto the battlefield today, and I am delighted that our nominee will be willing to ram Ralph Reed's Christian Taliban screeds down his throat. The danger presented by Ralph Reed can hardly be overestimated, but he is mistaken if he thinks he can turn Georgia into South Dakota.

Down the ballot, Representatives Steve Henson, Alisha Thomas Morgan, Nan Orrock, Sheila Jones, “Able” Mable Thomas, and others showed that the banner of choice has not been abandoned under the Gold Dome. The voice of choice is loud in Georgia. Can you hear us, Sadie Fields?
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posted by Ataru Atlanta at 4/09/2006 05:39:00 PM 6 comments

Friday, April 07, 2006

Or Am I Just Old Fashioned?
Today's bloggerI know that I have been absent for awhile; please forgive me. Last Friday was the beginning of convention; so I figured my fellow Democrats would forgive me.

I am having trouble and I am hoping my bloging companions can help me. I am upset by blogging in general. First of all, what the shit does blog mean??? Secondly, is this really the way we hear what people have to say now?

What happened to person to person contact? (I have spent most of this evening defending WHAT a Democrat believes and I think I did a great job. They felt the power from my voice and the reality of my words. I feel as though we try to promote our agenda through the internet. What is a personal conversation anymore? It feels as though we have surrendered our lives and our party to the internet and given it celebrity (or parental) power. However, can you hear or feel soul, it's just words on a screen.

My only question is how isolated do we want to become? Isn't writing a blog like writing a letter to your parents. . . meaning, you write to them as to why you shouldn't be grounded and that what you did was justifiable, therefore they should not punish you. You explain to them your side of the story without them being able to interrupt you. Are you more understood by exposing yourself in a safe forum or a political debate?

Democrats are for the people, their plight, their wealth, their differences, and their opinion, however what do you get from typed words on a screen or the written word. . . Does the average citizen really read a blog?

Does blogging really send the message that we will help the poor, the environment, the small businesses, the scientist, the religious, or anything else that we promote. My thought is no.

We need to have public sight and amazing speakers that make your blood boil. When they speak, you will want to scream out in joy for good fortune and anguish for the souls which are troubled (or vote).

In an age of technology, is it bad to say I would rather hear the person speak and be empowered by their energy?
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posted by Carly at 4/07/2006 05:55:00 PM 4 comments

Americans for Abstinence
You kids want some free schwag? Well, we got an email yesterday from an enterprising fellow in Texas who's having a giveaway.
I've been following the story of Denise Grier, who was issued a $100 "lewd decal" citation for her "I'm tired of all this BUSHIT!" bumper sticker. Fortunately, a DeKalb county judge threw out the case on Tuesday -- though it took her a month to get around on it. To commemorate the occasion, my site is giving away a free (mildly) raunchy anti-Bush bumper sticker to the first 100 people who email us from a Georgia zipcode -- just in case there are any more over eager sheriff's deputies who haven't gotten the word.

Details and rules for the giveaway are posted at http://www.bumperactive.com/archives/000688.jsp

So, want to sport this snappy design on your car?

Get to clickin'!
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posted by Aerodad at 4/07/2006 10:50:00 AM 0 comments

Thursday, April 06, 2006

An embarrassment to Democrats everywhere
Today's bloggerI got an email from a friend that says:
"You are a Georigan, can't you do something about this woman? She is a complete embarrassment to Democrats everywhere!"
He's talking about Cynthia McKinney, of course. And after everything I've seen and read over the last few days, I must concur that she's a lunatic and a fool. Must we share a party with her?

If you haven't seen this video clip, you need to watch it IINS (immediately if not sooner). It's Soledad O'Brien interviewing McKinney, or at least trying to interview her. Oh, it's painful.

How did this woman get elected to Congress? And why is she incapable of saying, "I made a mistake, and I regret my behavior." The whole flap would have disappeared from the news in a day and a half, and instead, she's digging in her heels, denying any wrongdoing, and now she's going to be charged with criminal behavior. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face!

When asked about the incident, she launches into a diatribe about racial profiling and "improper touching." She yammers on about how the Capitol police should be trained to recognize all 535 members of Congress, even when they're not wearing the identification pins that they're supposed to wear. She throws around her "much ado about a hairdo" tagline that some lawyer dreamt up for her.

Does she have any idea how crazy she sounds?

She's also drawing attention away from what should be the real story du jour, the juicy Tom DeLay scoop.

Let's hope the rumors are true, and that Georgia State Senator Sam Zamarrippa runs for McKinney's seat. Because that lady is plum loco.
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posted by Kate at 4/06/2006 10:52:00 AM 4 comments

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Walk for Women's Heads
Today's blogger[Ed. Note: Anyone with Sarcasm Deficiency Disorder, turn away now.] This Sunday, April 9th, the Georgia Walk for Women's Lives kicks off at the Georgia Capitol building in downtown Atlanta at 2pm. Hooray for large gatherings of liberal women!

Coincidentally enough, this Sunday, April 9th, is also Iraqi Liberation Day, or V-I Day as they like to call it on some aircraft carrier decks. You would know that, you anti-freedom hippies, if you spent enough time trolling right-wing blogs. So I figure, what better way to celebrate V-I Day than by going down to the Walk for Women's Lives thingamabob this Sunday and capping a few non-virgins in the back of the head for some good old fashioned Iraqi honor killings! You know they'll all be dressed like whores, anyway, calves and elbows and hair showing all over the damn place.

But seriously, folks, let's hear from the Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq:
The US-UK occupation has pushed Iraqi society back into a medieval world in which "honour killings" beheadings, forced veiling and seclusion and sexual servitude are now a part of everyday life.

Now the reactionary, tribalist and sectarian government the US has installed in Iraq wants to go further by institutionalizing the oppression of Iraqi women. The outcome of a war and occupation which was sold to the world as bringing "liberation" and "democracy" has been a hand-picked group of political hacks and tribal elder imposed on Iraqi society through a pseudo-parliament and a constitution that makes women second class citizens.

Well done, indeed. Mission accomplished in my book!

Things are going to get confusing in a couple years, though, when we try to celebrate two V-I Days. At least Europe and Japan had the decency to have names with different initials...or maybe it's that at least the Germans and the Japanese had the decency to start wars in two different places...whatever. Our problem is that Iraq and Iran are spelled just so dang similarly that it's hard enough to tell 'em apart, let alone know what to call our Liberation Days.

I say "when" rather than "if" because apparently the decision has been made. According to arms control guru Joseph Cirincione (by way of ThinkProgress.org),
For months, I have told interviewers that no senior political or military official was seriously considering a military attack on Iran. In the last few weeks, I have changed my view. In part, this shift was triggered by colleagues with close ties to the Pentagon and the executive branch who have convinced me that some senior officials have already made up their minds: They want to hit Iran.

Isn't that fun? But wait, here's the part that really makes you want to stab yourself in the face repeatedly with a dirty fork; it comes from the Council on Foreign Relations by way of my predictably favorite blog ArmsControlWonk:
Flynt L. Leverett, who served in senior posts at the National Security Agency, the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency, says that the United States has gotten itself into a diplomatic dilemma with Iran "because we essentially don’t have a strategy" for dealing with the Iranian nuclear issue. Asserting that the Bush administration rejected an invitation made by Iran in 2003 to open a strategic dialogue, Leverett says that Bush “is, on this issue, very, very resistant to the idea of doing a deal, even a deal that would solve the nuclear problem.”

CFR: In an op-ed piece you wrote for the New York Times in January you referred to an offer made by the Iranian government—of course then headed by the reformist President Mohammed Khatami—to begin a sweeping diplomatic dialogue. Could you talk about that?

Leverett: This was shortly before I left government, in the spring of 2003. ... [W]e received through this Swiss channel a one-page document, which basically laid out an agenda for a diplomatic process that was intended to resolve on a comprehensive basis all of the bilateral differences between the United States and Iran.
This wasn’t a new interest on the part of the Iranians; there was the whole experience after 9/11 of Iranian cooperation with us over Afghanistan, which I think at least some Iranian officials were hoping could get leveraged into a broader strategic dialogue, but that channel was effectively foreclosed when President Bush in his 2002 State of the Union address labeled Iran as part of the “axis of evil.” But in a sense I think the Iranians were trying again to see if there was some possibility for a broader strategic conversation with us and here they were actually in a way putting their cards on the table: “this is what we want, we want a broad strategic conversation with you.”

So theUnited States had to make a decision on what it wanted to do. Was there a big debate about this?

... What I do know happened is that the formal response of the administration to this was to complain to the Swiss foreign ministry that the Swiss ambassador in Tehran was exceeding his brief by talking with Iranians about a paper like this and passing it on.
[I]t’s not just the neo-cons who wanted regime change and nothing else. Ultimately the president is, on this issue, very, very resistant to the idea of doing a deal, even a deal that would solve the nuclear problem. You don’t do a deal that would effectively legitimate this regime that he considers fundamentally illegitimate.
[I]n the president’s view you have this unelected set of clerical authorities, epitomized by the supreme leader, who are thwarting the clearly expressed will of the Iranian people for a more open, participatory political system, for more political, social, intellectual, and cultural freedom—all this kind of thing. And so it’s a system that in Bush’s mind is fundamentally illegitimate. It’s a system that needs to change, and he is not going to do a deal that lets this regime off the hook, even if that deal would solve our problem with them over the nuclear issue.

We're on the brink, and we really didn't have to be. Remember that, all of you, when George Bush gets another 2,500 young Americans killed.
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posted by Aerodad at 4/05/2006 04:16:00 PM 1 comments

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

How Bad Do You Want It?
Today's bloggerI have had this title rolling around in my head for some time now and it now seems like the perfect opportunity to use it. The election year is upon us and candidates are coming out of the wood work to come to talk with us about their campaigns about turning this state blue again etc. The thing is though how many of us are really willing to work toward that goal? This makes me think about our membership a lot and I have noticed since joining the Young Democrats of Atlanta it seems to be the same people over and over again that sign up to do events that will achieve the goal that we all dream about which is Making the New South the Blue South. Why is that really? Why is it that not everyone in our membership is really working toward this goal? I have thought in the last few days what we could accomplish if we could just get those 102 credentialed members all working for the Future Being Blue we would be Unstoppable, but unfortunately that is not the case. You should ask yourself if you are one of those people who come to our meetings and Happy Hours and call yourself a member when you haven't even paid dues (insert eye roll here). It's not enough to pay lip service to our cause, you must willing to sacrifice for it because the people who we are fighting for need us now and not next week, not next month or next year, but NOW! Representative Alisha Thomas Morgan reminded me of that on Saturday night at the Louise McBee dinner.

We must as Young Democrats get more involved than just coming to meetings and Happy Hours. We must be willing to give up a few evenings a week to work on a campaign or be willing to give up a few Saturday mornings to canvas and get out the vote so we can say we took back the state. You can even put in a few hours over Pride weekend at our beverage booth to help raise money. Just imgaine 102 paid members working together -- we would have Republicans quake in their Brooks Brothers suits and Kennth Cole loafers. You must ask yourself in the upcoming months, how bad do you really want Georgia to turn blue again? What are you willing to do to get it? Now don't get me wrong: if you still want to sit at Manuel's and do nothing more than that then hey one of the best things about this organization is you can be as politicaly active as you want to be, but please do not necessarily call yourself a member when you haven't paid your dues.

Also, if you are going to complain about how this state is going to hell in a handbasket and all you did was come to Manuel's and our Happy Hours how much of a right do you have to complain when the rest carried the work load for you? When Emily or the rest of the officers ask for volunteers or when Billy Joyner shows up and asks us to help YDG out, will you put your name down or will you sit back and let someone else do the work for you? Don't you think it's about time to step up to the challenge? What do you really have to lose, but a few hours of your time? Just think of the gains that can be made if you come canvassing with the rest of us or working on any number of campaigns going on right now. We could actually Make The New South The Blue South and wouldn't that be cool!
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posted by Melissa at 4/04/2006 02:25:00 PM 0 comments

Monday, April 03, 2006

Retail as Strategy?
Today's bloggerRemember my four step plan? Prioritize, Network, Celebrate, Leapfrog. I haven't really expanded on any element except "Network," but it's "Network" that catches my attention again this week. Part of this concept is that we progressives are awfully shy when we're out in public about identifying ourselves. I have this idea that if we can identify ourselves publicly (not obnoxiously) we will accomplish many things. First is that we will appear more numerous - that's simple and useful. We know we're half the country (and most of Atlanta) but because we're often reluctant to claim our progressive identity in public, people don't know the place is teeming with us. Not only do THEY not know, but WE don't know! Which leads me to a second great benefit - we can find each other and trade information, support, smiles, whatever.

This is on my mind this week because of something that happened in Athens at the convention. Justi, Shelby, and I went out for a drink on Saturday and I told the bartender we wanted "something blue" because we were Democrats and were celebrating our statewide convention. Shelby had a reasonably common reaction, along the lines of "ooh, you shouldn't have said that - now he will spit in your drink..." Well, I guess that's the risk. More likely a really partisan Republican might have made a snide remark. But I am polite, friendly, and a good tipper - why shouldn't I identify myself as a Democrat?? As it turns out, our good barkeep was himself a Democrat - so distressed with the current state of affairs in the country that he is going into the Peace Corps next year to do his part for humanity and try to repair the American image overseas. Bless him. So we stayed and tipped well all night long. We felt good, he had his own worldview validated, and maybe we all will feel a little louder and a little prouder next time around.

So, folks - claim your beliefs!!! What can you do to balance the karma of the "W" sticker? Log on to Cafe Press NOW and get a coffee mug for your desk at work. Get a sticker for your car. Carry around a copy of Mother Jones or Take it Back. Better yet, get a fantastic Young Democrats of Atlanta t-shirt at the next business meeting day after tomorrow.

Here are three great items I like to proclaim your worldview:

Sorry Everybody Tank Top (very cute for spring)

I'm not sold on Hilary in 2008, but you gotta like this Slogan on Your Coffee Mug

or Plain and Simple

So, go forth and recruit! Market Brand D! Look twice - we Democrats are EVERYWHERE.
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posted by Emily at 4/03/2006 07:27:00 PM 2 comments

My polling place or yours

After spending a lot of time this weekend banging my head against the perennial problem of keeping Young Democrats motivated and involved, I couldn't help but guffaw out loud this morning when I read this recap of last night's rather ham-handed West Wing on Television Without Pity:
Campaigns would probably get more volunteers if they mentioned that getting laid is a virtual certainty on election day.

You think we can work that into our flyers somehow?
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posted by Aerodad at 4/03/2006 03:59:00 PM 2 comments

Bridge building
Today's bloggerI’ve just returned from the Young Democrats Convention. There was plenty of drama and intrigue to go around. I sometimes felt frustrated and annoyed, but mostly I was excited to get a glimpse of the Democratic Party’s plans for 2006 and beyond and to begin strategizing to make those plans a reality.

After all the hope and all the planning over the weekend, it was irritating to drive back to Atlanta on 316. Just as I was beginning to have a picture of Georgia as a progressive, populist state, billboards every mile or so quoting God shoved another picture of Geogia: “Don’t make me come down there. – God” and “You think it’s hot now, just keep taking my name in vain. – God” are just two examples of the religious fervor that bombards the hapless driver. Who knew God was such a smart ass?

This use of religion can only make its adherents feel smug and self-satisfied and the rest of us angry. Surely no one thinks that these signs actually produce converts. Great. Another example of religion widening the divide between red and blue in America. Just what we need.

Such divisiveness is particularly troubling to me. I live in two worlds – the world of Democratic Party politics and progressive activism and the world of Christian ministry. For the past couple of years I have spent significant time in the political world. This fall, my attention will shift somewhat when I start attending seminary full time and I concentrate my efforts on my ministry. To me, though, these worlds are integrated and political activism will continue to be a part of my life. One world would not exist without the other. I see no conflict.

However, I am used to both my political friends and my religious friends having a hard time understanding why I see it this way. Therefore, it was refreshing to read this article on Alternet written by a pastor at a Presbyterian church in Austin, Texas. He and his congregation have recently allowed an atheist to become a member. As a result, this pastor has received angry mail from Christians who conclude that liberals will stop at nothing and have no convictions. At the same time the atheist member has been criticized by his community for joining a superstitious, morally bankrupt organization. But, the pastor explains, “neither the church nor Jensen views his membership as surrendering anything, but instead as an attempt to build connections. Such efforts are crucial in a world where there seems not to be a lot of wood to build the bridges we need. And the shame is, while we fight among ourselves, the world is burning.”

Personally, it’s very difficult for me to talk about publicly about religion. I’m so embarrassed by the religious right and the historical examples of intolerance, persecution and complicity in crimes against humanity. I’d rather not be associated with the likes of George Bush, John Ashcroft and Pat Robertson. But I’m inspired by the movements of the past that have been motivated by religion – the civil rights movement, India’s fight for independence, and abolition. I’m also encouraged by the work of religious leaders like Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners magazine, and Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of the Left Hand of God. These are religious progressives who are brave enough to start the conversation about the left’s need to build relationships with religious people. I hope that I can be an advocate for cooperation between spirituality and politics in my ministry.

The world is suffering. It needs healing. Who will help us in our cause? How can we include them in our plans? Can we be inclusive enough so that believers and non-believers can work together to save this world? After this weekend’s convention, can we even be inclusive enough to work with different chapters and with members who have different levels of experience and maturity? Can we be inclusive enough to work with people who have different priorities than whatever our pet cause may be? It’s hard for me to believe it’s possible. Those highway 316 billboards are so hateful and I know how frustrated I get working with people who have a different perspective from me. It’s easier just to go home and seek out my own kind.

I guess in order to build bridges and make connections we have to start slowly. Maybe open ourselves a little by trying to listen to others instead of planning our response while they’re still talking – actually try and get inside their head for a while and understand where they’re coming from. That’s something I could certainly practice.

Thinking about Cathy Cox’s speech on Saturday gives me another idea as well. I was so impressed by her vision for a state of Georgia we would actually be proud to live in. Listening to her made it easy for me to forget bickering and infighting. I think we have to fall in love with a vision of where we’re going to the point where we forget our grievances and reach out to anyone who might help us get there. We have to trust that we won’t lose ourselves in the process of sharing that vision with those who are different.
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posted by Justice at 4/03/2006 01:56:00 PM 13 comments

YDG Convention post-game
I feel somewhat compelled to offer up a YDG Convention post-game analysis, but it's kind of hard to choose between the various paths of optimism, cynicism, hope, apathy, and sarcasm. At the very least, I can say that the Young Dems of UGA put on a pretty well-run show, and Athens, as always, is a great place for young people to have a good time on $20 a day. I hope Tim Cairl and I managed to inspire a handful of chapters to kick their web presence up a notch; YDs were also able to take advantage of grassroots organizing training from Wellstone Action, Political Career Development and a briefing on the local political scene from DPG, among the possible meeting selections.

Young Democrats of Georgia delegates also got to hear from a few state-level candidates: Mark Taylor and Cathy Cox for Governor, and Greg Hecht for Lt. Governor (whose posters had a hard time sticking to the wall during his speech), while a YDG'er and staff member spoke on behalf of Jim Martin. I've got to say, while the role of YDG in state politics and our appropriateness as an audience for the candidates is obvious, the hostage nature of said audience really ought not be abused in future even-year conventions. You understand, though, I'm speaking for Priscilla the dog, not myself.

All in all, it was a pretty productive trip, although a good portion of that has to be attributed, as always, to the extracurricular activities that don't appear on any program. It might be hard to describe on a website and may even appear unprofessional to some stick-in-the-mud types, but I always find some of the best action planning and strategizing taking place after hours at these events. Perhaps it's just that the rapid-fire information overload during the day takes a couple hours to crystallize over dinner and isn't fully unleashed until that second patriotically-colored cocktail kicks in. I for one, though, feel like the stage that was set by a day of political drudgery, hobnobbery, and a dash of conspiracy, really came alive over sushi and burritos (not at the same venue, obviously), and I really think you guys will find a YDAtl Exec even more ready to kick ass and take names in the coming months thanks to our weekend in Athens. Hopefully our YDG officers will be there to back us up.

Oh, but, for the record, the ham sandwich lost.
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posted by Aerodad at 4/03/2006 12:47:00 AM 5 comments


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