Archive for October, 2010

Flap Over Juan Williams is an Unfortunate Distraction from all of the Good that Public Broadcasting Does

October 30, 2010

If you are among those watching the political debates on Georgia Public Television Sunday evening, you might want to reflect on just how important a service that GPTV is providing viewers in Georgia.  And you might want to reflect on how important it is not to let the controversy over the dismissal of political analyst Juan Williams by National Public Radio affect your support of PBS, NPR, GPTV, and GPR. It certainly hasn’t affected mine. Just because a PBS executive makes a decision that I consider ill-advised, doesn’t mean I am going to throw out the baby with the bath water.  

Libertarian Chuck Donovan and Democrat Michael Thurmond on GPTV debate, Sunday, Oct. 24 (Courtesy: Georgia Public Television)

During last weekend’s debate featuring the candidates for U.S. Senate, Republican incumbant Johnny Isakson, Democratic challenger Mike Thurmond, and Libertarian challenger Chuck Donovan, were asked if federal tax dollars should no longer be given to PBS, as has been called for by conservatives who claim PBS leans liberal.

Donovan said the tax-dollar funding of PBS should stop, but he made no mention of the Williams controversy, or the claim that PBS leans liberal. It’s just a matter of Libertarian principal with him. He likes public broadcasting, saying, “I happen to enjoy public broadcasting, but it is inappropriate particularly for a government that is broke to be involved.” 

Thurmond thinks taxpayer funding should continue.  He said he grew up in a rural community and GPTV made a big difference in his life. He said, “City folks may have other resources, but when you live in rural Georgia you need a resource like Georgia Public Broadcasting to educate our children and inform our population. It is a good expenditure. It’s not even an expenditure. It’s an investment in the future of this state and the future of this nation and I will continue to support it.” He also made no mention of the Williams controversy.

Isakson sidestepped the question by not even addressing whether taxpayer funding should stop or whether PBS leans to the left.    He used the question to plug a budget reform bill he is sponsoring in the Senate. He said, “The Isakson biannual budget requires oversight and justification every  even-numbered year, then things that we should appropriate that we can afford we would and those we could do without we would not.”

Tactically, I thought the dismissal problematic.  It played right into the hands of some conservatives who want stop taxpayer dollars for PBS.  However, it wouldn’t bother me for PBS to not have to depend on tax dollars.  I would even be willing to increase my annual modest donation.  I think PBS provides a marvelous service, something you can’t get anywhere else, and I don’t want it being controlled by partisan politicians.   Though, I do think it’s fine for the government to pay for the classroom educational programs. They are especially useful, as Thurmond says, in rural areas.

I have no problem with it being liberal, if the definition of liberal is a person with an open mind who is willing to listen and weigh both side of an issue.  I think it is liberal in that sense. You do hear both sides of arguments on PBS. I know some professed liberals who think PBS is way too conservative. Well, I have no problem with it being conservative, if the definition of a conservative is a person who wants to conserve the freedoms guaranteed by the United States Constitution.  I think it is conservative in that sense.  When the extremists on both sides claim you favor the other side, you know you are doing something right: you are being fair and balanced.

Oh, about those Sunday evening debates.  There will be one at 6 p.m. for those running for Commissioner of Agriculture, one at 6:30 for the candidates for Lt. Governor, and one at 7:00 for governor.  I have set my DVR to record all three.

Buying the House isn’t Cheap

October 29, 2010


“We have the best Congress money can buy.”

– Will Rogers

 Newsweek reports that as of October 25th,  U.S. House candidates had raised $733,647,242.31.  Just think of the things you could buy with that kind of money.

The Politically Invisble Man

October 27, 2010

Frank Saunders, Democratic Party candidate for Georgia's 3rd U.S. Congressional District attended the Barnes rally at Columbus Tech

3rd District Congressman Lynn Westmoreland has opposition, which is probably news to most 3rd District voters.  There is a good chance that they don’t know that Frank Saunders, a special education teacher, wrestling coach, and assistant varsity football coach at Chattahoochee County High School, is the Democratic Party candidate opposing Westmoreland.

Without money and scant coverage by news media, a candidate is just about politically invisible.  Westmoreland, a Republican running in a Republican district, an incumbant with an impressive campaign war chest, and a lot of media coverage – not all of it positive, if you take his appearance on the Colbert Report  into consideration – has all of the advantages in the race.

Money has always played a key role in politics, however, the candidate with the most money does not always win.  Governor Perdue had less money than Roy Barnes and won. He had less money, but he had enough money to get his message across, and he had name recognition. Without enough money to compete, a candidate’s chances of winning are zilch.

Saunders has virtually no money. I say “virtually” because he has received a few small donations, not enough to advertise on TV. Even with the Internet in play, today’s stump remains TV.  TV makes a fortune on elections, but, in my view,  gives scant news coverage before the election.  Have you ever seen Frank Saunders on television?  

Want to know more about him? He does have a website.  You can click on this link to read more about him, things like who he is and why he is running. 

Now, with the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that corporations can contribute to candidates, money rules more than ever before, and record amounts are being spent on this Midterm election.

Barnes Rally in Columbus is Upbeat Despite Polls

October 27, 2010

Retired Columbus state Rep. Tom Buck III greets Gov. Barnes at Columbus Tech rally as Columbus attorney Ken Henson looks on.


  I was impressed with former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes appearance at Columbus Tech this afternoon.  Given the polls that show him losing to Nathan Deal by up to ten percent (the most recent poll, one taken for WSB-TV, shows the Deal lead down to 6 percent now)  and rigors of a statewide campaign at  his age, I expected him to look haggard. He looked, to me, better than when he first started running.  That’s good for him because he just might have to continue campaigning after Tuesday. There is a distinct chance that he and Nathan Deal will end up in a runoff,  thanks to Libertarian candidate John Monds.

During his Columbus rally he again presented his plans for creating  jobs, doing the things it takes to attract more industry to Georgia by improving

Columbus state Rep. Calvin Smyre introduces Gov. Barnes at Columbus Tech rally

education, transportation, and water problems, and his ideas sounded sound and plausible to me. But it appears those issues may not determine the outcome of the election.  According the Emory University Political Science professor Merle Black  his problem lies with the fact that white Georgia voters don’t like President Obama.  Polls show that only 24 percent of white Georgia voters approve of President Obama, and that the white approval rate for Barnes is 25 percent. Black says a statewide race cannot be won without a better showing than that among white voters.  Who knows, maybe he’ll win over some of those white voters by next Tuesday.   

Democratic Party candidate for governor Roy Barnes addresses supporters at Columbus Tech rally


Republican Heavy-Hitters Hit Town

October 25, 2010

Sen. Isakson finishes his talk and welcomes Republican gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal to the podium at Lakebottom Park in Columbus

Just about all of Georgia’s Republican heavy-hitter candidates rolled into Columbus on a campaign bus this afternoon for a rally in the band shell at Lakebottom Park.  From there they went to a fund-raising reception at the Convention and Trade Center.

Nathan DealU.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, 3rd District Congressman Lynn Westmoreland,  gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal, and 2nd Congressional District candidate Mike Keown all took their turn at the microphone, but the message was pretty much the same: the big issue is jobs and they want the chance to help provide more. How? Same way that Republicans have been espousing all along,  low taxes and fewer regulations, though Sen. Isakson did allow that regulations were all right to “level the playing field,” but not to “determine the outcome of the game.”  

3rd U.S. District Rep. Lynn Westmorland

Will lower, or at least no new taxes, and fewer regulations provide more jobs?  They want to continue the Bush tax cuts, not just for the middle class but for the upper class, too.  Well, the Bush tax cuts were still in place when the jobless rate zoomed upward toward the end of the Bush administration. 

Last quarter saw big profits for America’s big corporations.  That did not translate into a lot of new jobs.   Fewer employees lead to higher profits.  So what makes Republicans think more jobs will be provided by lower taxes? Lower taxes on the middle class make some sense since the middle class drives consumerism, which is what our economy depends upon.  You don’t sell millions of hamburgers and cars to the wealthy. There just aren’t that many of them.   


October 25, 2010
With only a few days before the 2010 election, the candidates are moving around the state now. 

Nathan Deal’s bus comes into town this afternoon. The Republican candidate for governor will rally at 3:30 at the band shell in Lakebottom Park.  After that, there will be  a reception at 4:30 at the Convention and Trade Center.

Mrs. Barnes, former governor Roy Barnes, Columbus Mayor Jim Wetherington, April 29, Columbus Airport

  Democratic Party candidate for governor Roy Barnes comes to Columbus tomorrow for a  rally at 5:30 p.m. at the new Health Sciences building–the Wright Building–on the Columbus Tech campus. To get to this building, use the entrance on River Road just north of Manchester Expressway.

“Democrat” is Not a Bad Word in Muscogee County

October 24, 2010

Election 2010 is upon us, about a week away.  If the polls are right, Republicans will be in control in Washington and Georgia, but not necessarily in Muscogee County.  Since Republicans maintain a high-profile  in the county, you might think they are the majority. Look at recent election results and you’ll see they are not.  Muscogee County regularly goes for the Democratic nominee for president.  And locally, the last sheriff and district attorney races make the point. 

I was reading a letter to the Ledger-Enquirer that made a big deal about the writer’s candidate for mayor being a “conservative” and accusing others of being “Obama Democrats.”   That person just doesn’t understand the reality of Muscogee County politics.  Being a Democrat is a plus in county-wide races, not a liability.  Besides, some Democrats are also conservatives, especially when it comes to matters fiscal.

Yes, Republicans may gain control of the Congress and retain control of the Georgia legislature.  The end result, though,  probably will not be all that bad for Democrats.  If Republicans are in control and things don’t get a lot better than they are right now, they probably won’t stay in control for very long.  But, then, in Georgia,  just look at the shape the state is in after 8 years of Republican control, with water, transportation and education problems worse not better, and despite that, they are poised to remain in control.  Surely, over time, Georgia voters will wake up if things continue on the down slope.  Surely. Surely?

Ah, but in Washington, they’ll be able to blame lack of progress on President Obama vetoes, some will say. That tactic didn’t work with President Clinton. He got reelected.  There is a very good chance it won’t work with President Obama, either.  

Meanwhile, don’t let all of the partisan rancor upset you.  Just have a good meal at the Taste of Lemon. Never heard of the Taste of Lemon?  Well, stay tuned.

Congratulations to the Rotary Club of Columbus, GA

October 21, 2010

Rotary District Governor Casey Farmer presents 100 Percent Paul Harris Fellow Club banner to Rotary Club of Columbus President Betsy Covington. On the left is Rotary Foundation Director George Flowers, and on the right is Past President Bob Jones. (Photo by Jim Cawthorne, Camera1)

The Rotary Club of Columbus reached an impressive landmark Wednesday.(Full disclosure: I am a member.) It became the largest service club in Georgia to be designated as a 100% Paul Harris Fellow Club. That means that each member is now a Paul Harris Fellow, which means each gave $1,000 to the Rotary International Foundation, which, among other accomplishments, has just about eradicated polio in the world.  Since the club has more than 300 members that means it has given more than $300,000 to the Foundation.  It’s not called a service club for nothing.

Paul Harris was the founder of the Rotary Club.  The first club was organized in Chicago in 1905; now it is all over the world, including places like the United Kingdom, France, China, and Russia.

Some of my Best Friends are Republicans

October 17, 2010

MCDP Jefferson-Jackson Gala at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center

One of the most interesting aspects of the Muscogee County Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson Gala is the diversity of the attendees.  You’d expect a lot of African-Americans, whites, Hispanics, and Asian Americans to be there.  The Democratic Party prides itself on its big tent. But, there were also some very prominent Republicans in the audience.

No doubt some were there because a friend of their’s was being honored. I had one tell me that he and his wife were there because retired Columbus attorney and state legislator Milton Jones was one of the Democrats honored for his service to his communty, state, and country.  I am on a friendly basis with every Republican I saw there.   

This was a Democratic Party event, but it was also a community event. More than three hundred  people paid $50-a-plate to attend.  The party did raise some money, but not as much as you might think. The Columbus Convention and  Trade Center ain’t cheap.

Rep. John Lewis, (D) GA 5th Congressional District

While those Republicans in attendance stood with everyone else to applaud keynote speaker and civil rights icon U.S. 5th Congressional District Rep. John Lewis,  they did also have to endure some partisan talks, the best of which was made by my cousin Carol Porter who is running for Lt. Governor.  She is a very articulate and forceful speaker.

Carol Porter, Democratic candidate for Georgia Lt. Gov.

The problem for her is that she was only speaking to three-hundred people, people – with the possible exception of some of the Republicans there – who are going to support her anyway.  To get elected, she needs for hundreds of thousands of people to hear her message.  Roy Barnes is getting to those hundreds of thousands because he has raised the money to do it.  And some of that money came, no doubt, from some Republicans.

I think it’s generally agreed that CEOs of most businesses are Republicans, but it is a well-known fact that some give to both sides.  They want whoever wins to pick up the phone when they call.  There is a very good chance that Roy Barnes will win.

One definition of power is that it is the ability to do favors.  I suppose the corollary to that would be the ability to do harm. Governors can do both.

And so can Lieutenant Governors.  Maybe Carol Porter will benefit from those who hedge their bets by giving to both sides.  With very little media coverage, she is  running close to Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle in the polls.  If she can get her message across to enough voters, she can win.

The point is that some Republicans do support some Democrats and visa versa.  And the point is that a lot of folks in Columbus, including me, are friends with a lot of people who identify with different parties.  They also come together to get important things done for the community.  It would be great if our representatives in Washington and Atlanta would follow the Columbus example.  The meanness of spirit and polarization that is permeating our Capitols and our country is not good for America.

Yes, it is time for the country to return to civility and sanity. It is time for political leaders to put their country first instead of their party.  It is hard to do when some powerful media personalities use hatred and fear to line their pockets with millions of dollars. But, it has to be done, or this great nation stands to lose its greatness.

World War II Street Comes Alive Oct. 16th and 17th

October 16, 2010

World War II Fort Benning barracks, World War II Street, National Infantry Museum, Columbus, Georgia

The World War II Street at the National Infantry Museum comes to life with reenactment groups showing us what it was like for a soldier to start his Army life during the World War II.  On October 16 and 17 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  you can see volunteer reenactors drilling, doing calisthenics, eating in a mess hall and doing all of the things they did in the 1940’s.

As I checked out the Street as a member of a tour, I, along with other vets with a lot of years on them, had to reflect on when we slept in those wooden barracks and did all of the things that basic trainees do. 

Ah, the memories of SOS and KP that this mess hall brings. (No, this SOS is not Morse code. Anybody not know what it means?)

I wasn’t in the Army until 1954, 9 years after World War II ended, but  being eleven-years-old when the U.S. got into the war,  I remember vividly what Columbus and Fort Benning were like then.  Soldiers were everywhere in Columbus and Phenix City, filling the sidewalks, restaurants, movie theaters, and U.S.O. facilities. Wikipedia says the post had billeting space for more than 90,000 troops during WW II.  That meant the population of the post was larger than that of Columbus. 

A lot of famous soldiers served at Fort Benning, including General George S. Patton, whose sleeping quarters and headquarters building are part of World War II Street.


The only building on the street that you could call beautiful is the chapel.  It shows what can be done aesthetically with simple wooden construction.

M1 rifles in WW II barracks

Yes, it did bring back memories, with the most powerful being how glad I was to move out of that environment and be stationed in Munich, Germany, where I had a private room in a former SS barracks building and where German civilians replaced military KPs.  Solders gladly chipped in a few bucks a month to pay the KPs.  Germany was still recovering from World War II and civilains were glad to get the jobs.