Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 26, 2014

On June 26, 1918, the Georgia General Assembly ratified the Eighteenth Amendment, which outlawed the production, sale, and transportation of alcohol. Governor Hugh Dorsey did not sign it for nearly a week, but the United States Secretary of State considers an Amendment ratified when the state legislature has voted on final passage.

On June 26, 1945, the United Nations Charter was signed in San Francisco.

The Berlin Airlift began on June 26, 1948 after the Soviet Union had blockaded West Berlin, which was occupied by the United States, Great Britain, and France.

Gone with the Wind was re-released on June 26, 1998.

Today’s Marietta Daily Journal has a piece about the commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain.

As much or more as any other event in local history, Sherman’s invasion and the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain during the Civil War put this part of northwest Georgia “on the map” of the nation’s consciousness. The long-anticipated 150th anniversary of that battle arrives this weekend, and with it hordes of visitors and a staggering array of activities at what’s now Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park.
They’ll be greeted with opening and closing ceremonies, ‘round-the-clock cannon and musket firing, lectures, music, a Civil War fashion show and “real-time” battlefield tours.

Events kick off this evening with a 7:30 p.m. opening ceremony at the Visitor Center with author Richard McMurry as keynote speaker, followed at about 9 with an outdoor Jumbotron showing of the park’s “Kennesaw: One Last Mountain” movie that opened last fall. It also will be shown continuously throughout the weekend in a large tent on the lawn.
Friday will begin with a 9 a.m. “real-time tour” of Sherman’s attack route against Cheatham Hill, where the bloodiest fighting of the day took place.
“I imagine we’ll be busing people to the site as early as 7:30 a.m., and I can see us having 3,000-4,000 people taking part,” Walther said.

Dinesh D’Souza’s America in Atlanta tomorrow: free tickets available


The film “America: Imagine the World Without Her,” based on the book by conservative writer Dinesh D’Souza, opens in Atlanta for one day on Friday, June 27, before its nationwide release on July 2d. Click here for times and to buy tickets online to the first day’s showings.

We have two sets of tickets, one each for the first readers to email me with the name of the college Dinesh D’Souza graduated from, or the title of one of his other books.

Jim Galloway interviews David Perdue

In the Political Insider blog at the AJC, Jim Galloway has an interview with David Perdue about the Republican Primary Runoff for United States Senate.

Kingston has piled up endorsement after endorsement from GOP regulars, each of whom warns that the Fortune 500 executive and first-time candidate could be a chaos-loaded Trojan horse. Their evidence: Perdue has never stuffed a campaign envelope or pounded a campaign sign into the ground, and has been a scofflaw when it comes to paying his GOP dues.

Reliable polling is scarce, but it’s safe to say that the last month has seen Perdue shift from frontrunner to underdog. Perdue himself admits as much.

Take the issue of endorsements. “We knew we would not get the establishment to get excited about us,” Perdue said in an interview this week.

He’s got radio talk show host Herman Cain on his side, and some state lawmakers. But the candidate said he doesn’t expect an army of veteran surrogates to flock to his cause in the next three weeks.

The Outsider is also giving fresh emphasis to the need for term limits. The same Washington-based political action committees that keep members of Congress in office are the ones sabotaging any attempt to address a $17 trillion federal debt, Perdue argued.

And that, the candidate said, can be linked to criticism that he hasn’t paid his Republican dues. That he hasn’t licked enough envelopes.

“The current model is full of people that are doing that, and I admire that,” Perdue said. “But look at the results. The current model’s broken. I’ve spent 42 years licking envelopes and doing a lot of other things in the business world. I’m not going to apologize for that.

“Frankly, with only about 10 people in the U.S. Senate that have that background, I believe that’s one of the things that we need up there.

“The argument about non-participation in the process – it’s an empty comment, because [critics] don’t understand the bigger issue. The biggest issue is not moving through the machinations of a political structure within a party, so that you can be tapped one day to run for Congress. That’s what’s got us in this mess,” Perdue said.

It makes me wonder why David Perdue wants to be a Republican if he thinks the party is filled with people who don’t understand issues.

Supreme Court ruling favors privacy

A new ruling by the United States Supreme Court is being touted as favoring privacy against police searches. From the New York Times editors:

Modern cellphones are not just another technological convenience,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote for a unanimous court. “With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans ‘the privacies of life.’ ”

The issue arose in two separate cases involving police officers who searched the phone of an arrested suspect without a warrant. In one case, United States v. Wurie, a check of the phone’s call log led police officers to an apartment where they found evidence of drug crimes. In the other case, Riley v. California, which began as a traffic stop, photos and videos on a seized phone revealed gang activity and resulted in a dramatically increased sentence for the defendant.

In both cases, the governmentargued that the searches were permissible under a long-established exception to the Fourth Amendment, which generally requires the police to get a warrant before searching “persons, houses, papers, and effects.” After a lawful arrest, however, the police may search a person’s body and immediate surroundings without a warrant, both for their own protection and to prevent the destruction of evidence.

Cellphones have upset that balance, as the court rightly recognized. First, nearly everyone has one and uses it daily. They have become so prevalent so fast that, as Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy.” More important, they contain “vast quantities of personal information,” from financial and medical records to archives over many years of private correspondence and records of places the owner has been. They are “minicomputers,” the court said, that contain more information than entire houses once did.

In short, the expectation of privacy in a phone’s contents outweighs the immediate needs of law enforcement.

But the Washington Post sees a dark side to the ruling.

But read Riley vs. California more closely and it’s just a little scary — particularly for those who pay little attention to what’s on their smartphones. If you don’t think your phone exposes your life-all of it-take it from the nation’s highest court.

Your phone, says the court, is your life. Cracking it open is even more revealing than rummaging through your home, which the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches was designed to protect.

Your cellphone may show an “internet search and browsing history” that could “reveal an individual’s private interests or concerns — perhaps a search for certain symptoms of disease, coupled with frequent visits to WebMD.”

Your cellphone can allow someone to “reconstruct” your “specific movements down to the minute, not only around town but also within a particular building. … ‘a wealth of detail about’” your “‘familial, political, professional, religious, and sexual associations.’”

And this the court did not say: Search warrants are not that hard for police to get. They go to a judge or magistrate and argue that they have probable cause to believe there may be criminal activity involving you. They don’t have to prove you’ve done anything. You are not consulted.

In fact, Georgians have a very fresh reminder of how much your computer can say about you.

Justin Ross Harris is accused of leaving 22-month-old Cooper Harris alone in the car while he went to work at the Home Depot corporate office for roughly seven hours. Harris is charged with Felony Murder and Cruelty to Child in the second degree.

Police also said their investigation has uncovered information that suggests the death is a homicide, meaning a death caused by another person.FOX 5 I-Team reporter Randy Travis reports that investigators seized Ross Harris’ work computer from Home Depot after his arrest last week. In the search history on that computer, a law enforcement source tells the FOX 5 I-Team someone searched for information on how long it takes for an animal to die in a hot car.
The FOX 5 I-Team has not been able to confirm when that Internet search was conducted.

The bigger lesson from Mississippi, Texas, and Colorado

Yesterday, I fielded a media inquiry about what the Mississippi primary runoff victory by incumbent U.S. Senator Thad Cochran means for the narrative about a fight between the GOP Establishment and the Tea Party. My response in full was this:

There is a human need to see different events in the context of an understandable narrative that illustrates one or more larger points, but reality is messier than that.

We want to take each new event, the stunning Cantor loss or Cochran’s “back from the dead” runoff win and make it say something about the party, but in fact what they’re saying is that just as there is no single “Tea Party,” but rather a collection of sometime-allies who happen to use the same name, there is not a monolithic Republican Party, nor is there a monolithic Republican electorate – there are at least fifty different state Republican Parties and each has its own struggles, some internal, some visible to the world.

I don’t think that the Cantor loss or the Cochran win necessarily allow us to say “the establishment is winning” or “the Tea Party is winning.” Each takes some wins and some losses, and they argue about credit afterwards. It’s hard to see such a dramatic expansion of the playing field as appears to have happened in Mississippi being recreated in Georgia or elsewhere.

Mississippi is also different from other states for two major reasons – Haley Barbour and Trent Lott. Most states don’t have two Washington lobbying/establishment titans who have kept their fingers on the pulse of home state politics. The Barbour family remains a major force in both Washington and Mississippi, and without connections to the state, it’s hard for a bunch of consultant types in DC to come up with a winning strategy that is unique to Mississippi.

It’s also worth saying that it’s not always correct to equate money spent by independent third parties with money spent by a campaign. By it’s nature, independent expenditures cannot be coordinated, and they may end up duplicating efforts, or even become counterproductive.

The article by that writer discussed the split among activists over Cochran’s tactics to actively seek votes from African-Americans and who can claim victory in which races.

A crucial reason for Cochran’s 50.9 percent showing was apparently turnout by non-Republicans, notably African-Americans, who traditionally vote Democratic.

This party line-crossing isn’t unusual in states with open primaries. But to the conservatives who’ve become increasingly influential in the Republican Party, it’s a particularly chilling development on the eve of the 2016 presidential nominating season.

“Conservatives all over this country will wonder why the GOP should be supported,” added Brent Bozell, the chairman of the conservative group ForAmerica. “They will point to Mississippi and say, ‘There is no difference between the parties.’ ”

But tea party activists worry that other states have similar power brokers who are willing to use any ploy to derail the grass-roots movement.

“This experience only brings into focus that our fight is with an elitist ruling class that will do anything to hold on to power,” said Jenny Beth Martin, the chairman of the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund.

Tea party leaders cite David Brat’s June 10 upset of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and point to big numbers voting against incumbents. Graham won his primary with 56 percent. McConnell got 60 percent, and Simpson won with 61 percent.

The establishment counters that those incumbents won easily, and discontent among primary voters is standard fare. In races with no incumbents, establishment figures crushed tea party favorites in Oklahoma, Iowa, North Carolina and elsewhere.

And last night, we discussed what Mississippi means in this context, as well as an Oklahoma Primary won by James Lankford and a Colorado Senate Primary won by Bob Beauprez. Both of those races are considered “Establishment” wins.

Researching those two races for the “On the Story” segment, I came across this in a story on

Rep. James Lankford won the Oklahoma Senate GOP nomination outright on Tuesday over primary opponent T.W. Shannon, despite polls for most of the race showing the two locked in a tight race and headed to an expected August runoff.

Shannon’s failure to push the race to a runoff is a blow to prominent conservative groups, who invested $1.7 million into the race but mostly focused on the Mississippi Senate runoff in the closing weeks.

Besides Cruz and Palin, several other conservative outside groups had endorsed Shannon, including Senate Conservative Fund and Now or Never PAC. Lankford, meanwhile, was largely stranded by both the establishment and tea party groups in Washington.

Shannon was also hurt by the timing of the primary, which fell on the same day as the Mississippi GOP Senate runoff. Most of the conservative groups who endorsed him went all in on Chris McDaniel in the final weeks, assuming the Oklahoma race would head to a runoff.

The parts of that story about conservative groups pulling out of the Shannon v. Lankford contest, along with the spin by both sides as to who can claim victory leads to a greater lesson about politics in the age of unlimited spending by moneyed national groups.

Pawns are sacrificed in the service of kings and queens.

Large national organizations pouring money and manpower into state and local races have no emotional investment in the outcome. They’re playing chess on the national stage, and each race is a pawn to be used to reach a goal. And the goal is not just political victory in Washington, but continued fundraising to fuel to next rounds of independent expenditures and enrich the DC-based consultants who are happy to do someone else’s bidding.

Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball has a take on the Mississippi race as well.

Let’s be blunt: It is awfully hard to draw cosmic conclusions about the Mississippi Senate race when the six-term incumbent lost by a little in the first primary and won by a little in the second primary. Yes, politics — like some other sports we could name — is a game of inches, and Cochran gained a half a yard in three weeks. It’s enough to almost certainly make him a seven-term senator, though he must be shocked that he only squeaked back into his seat after serving 36 years in the Senate and providing more pork for Mississippi than exists on all the hog farms in Iowa combined.

With that vital caution in mind, here are eight takeaways from this down-and-dirty contest that V.O. Key would almost certainly recognize as a Magnolia State original.

(2) The establishment may get down but it is never out. Cochran’s victory, as slim as it was, was an impressive feat for the national and state party leadership. Former Gov. Haley Barbour and his family, such as nephew Henry Barbour, never let up, and they dragged the candidate over the finish line.

With Cochran’s win, we are moving Mississippi back to Safe Republican for the November general election.


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for June 26, 2014

Miley Prisoner

The first Miley is a young female Boxer who is in real jail, not just doggie jail. She’s part of Canine Cellmates, a program at the Fulton County Jail that brings dogs into the jail from government shelters, and uses them to help the prisoners learn training and grooming skills that can help them find jobs once they’re released and reduce recidivism.

The incidence of violent outburst in prison and jail facilities where these program are in place has shown a dramatic decrease, sometimes as much as 50%. Recidivism rates have also shown marked improvements. The Atlanta metro area has one of the highest recidivism (or re-offend) rates in the country, around 70% within the first 2 years after release. In Gwinnett County, over 300 inmates have gone through this program to date, and only 6 or 7 of them have since re-offended, which is roughly 2.3%.

Miley is a happy young dog, sweet and affectionate and available for adoption. Contact Canine CellMates at Fulton County Jail in Atlanta, GA for more information or email [email protected]

Miley Prisoner 2

Miley Albany

This Miley is a young female who looks like a quintessential South Georgia dog – part Hound and part Retriever. She is available for adoption from Albany Humane Society in Albany, GA.

Miley Albany2


Bill is an adult, medium-size Terrier mix who is available for adoption from Habersham County Animal Shelter in Clarkesville, GA.

Last night, I was at Georgia Public Broadcasting for the political roundtable at “On the Story,” when I saw someone walking through the lobby with a small dog on a leash. I asked, and it turns out that GPB is a dog-friendly workplace. From a blog on GPB’s website:

At GPB, everyday is Take Your Dog to Work Day. Four legged pals routinely trot down the halls or sit in on meetings with their pet parents. Look closely and you’ll spot our president and CEO Teya Ryan, walking her pet Havenese Miley out front.

Dallas, Cleveland finalists for ‘16 GOP convention; Kansas City, Denver out | Washington Watch | McClatchy DC

Dallas and Cleveland are the finalists to host the 2016 Republican National Convention.

Kansas City and Denver are out.

“After extensive review the site selection committee has chosen Cleveland and Dallas as finalists for the 2016 convention. Cleveland and Dallas demonstrated their ability to host a phenomenal convention in 2016,” said Site Selection Committee Chairman Enid Mickelsen.

“These world class cities know how to roll out the welcome mat, and more importantly they have the ability to provide our next presidential nominee a launching pad that will put a Republican in the White House in 2016,” she said.

via Dallas, Cleveland finalists for ‘16 GOP convention; Kansas City, Denver out | Washington Watch | McClatchy DC.

Nevada could lure Tesla with discounted electricity |

Much like apartments that advertise free utilities, development officials are holding out discounted electricity in hopes of landing the highly touted Tesla Motors Inc. battery factory that has five states competing.

Nevada recently passed a state law that could discount electricity 30 percent for the project. Meanwhile, the San Antonio utility has a rarely used “economic development” rate that discounts power as much as 50 percent, which has helped that region land Toyota Motor Corp.

Arizona electric companies can discount electricity to attract new development, but the new Nevada law offers a more streamlined process, giving their governor the ability to cut deals on electricity directly with companies looking to build in the state. As competition for the Tesla plant heats up, Nevada’s new law gives that state a powerful tool in its negotiations with the electric car maker.

Palo Alto, California-based Tesla said in February it is shopping in Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas for a site to build a factory the size of about 100 Walmart stores that would employ 6,500 people.

The announcement touched off a high-stakes bidding war among Southwestern states for what could be one of the largest manufacturing projects in the nation in recent memory. Tesla later said it would take a second look at its home state of California as well.

The states all have a variety of tax benefits and other incentives, including cash grants, to land major economic developments like the battery plant. But the price of the electricity Tesla will need to power its monstrous new facility promises to be a key factor in the company’s site selection.

via Nevada could lure Tesla with discounted electricity.

Tesla is now most important automaker in world, Morgan Stanley says - Los Angeles Times

Could Tesla Motors be the world’s most important car company?

Morgan Stanley Research analyst Adam Jonas makes that argument in a new report to investors.

“Not even two years after the delivery of the first Model S, Tesla Motors has transformed from fledgling start-up to arguably the most important car company in the world. We are not joking,” Jonas wrote. “Tesla is also emerging as an emblematic force in America’s effort to foster high tech manufacturing job growth.”

Rival automakers derided now-failed start-ups such as Fisker and Coda, but they see Tesla as a true competitor.

General Motors has a “Team Tesla” devoted to the development of long-range electric vehicles like Tesla’s Model S sedan, Jonas said.

“A BMW engineer recently explained to us how Tesla’s presence has helped reinvigorate the spirit of automobile innovation that was beginning to run stale, further testifying that BMW will be a stronger company longer term because Tesla is around,” he said.

via Tesla is now most important automaker in world, Morgan Stanley says - Los Angeles Times.

Effingham school board holds line on taxes |

The Effingham Board of Education absorbed a $400,000 hit to its projected revenue for the next year but still is holding to the roll-back millage rate and not raising taxes.

“We’re not going to collect as much as we anticipated,” said Superintendent Randy Shearouse. The digest fell by $20 million from earlier estimates and that decreased revenue to the school district by $400,000.

“That did decrease our income from what we previously thought,” he said.

via Effingham school board holds line on taxes |

Georgia’s New Pro-Gun Law Triggers Confusion For Some Residents : NPR

Starting on July 1, when the Safe Carry Protection Act goes into effect, Georgians with gun permits will have many more places to take their weapons. The law is considered the most sweeping pro-gun measure passed in the U.S. this year. Opponents call it the “Guns Everywhere” bill.

Outside of Georgia, the bill has already been fodder for comedians like Stephen Colbert. But inside the state, the law’s no joke — it’s creating confusion for many Georgia residents, who are trying to figure out what it will mean for them.

For one, the law says that licensed gun owners can carry their weapons into bars and churches — if the bar owner or church council allows them in. And school personnel can have weapons — if the school board approves.

Then — and this is the source of the most confusion — the law says gun owners can carry a weapon into “unsecured government buildings,” such as libraries or city halls, without approval.

A Librarian’s Guide To Gun Owners

To figure out what the new law will mean, a group of 60 librarians from around Atlanta recently met with their director, Alison Weissinger, who explained that librarians won’t be allowed to check to see if a gun owner has a permit.

via Georgia’s New Pro-Gun Law Triggers Confusion For Some Residents : NPR.

City properties gain ‘phenomenal’ value in DeKalb County |

Properties in DeKalb County’s cities are gaining far more value than those in unincorporated areas, according to the county’s mid-year budget.

The taxable value of city properties is expected to increase 13.1 percent this year, while the taxable value of unincorporated properties is up only 0.6 percent. Countywide, taxable property values are growing 5.9 percent this year.

“This growth is phenomenal and an indicator that when the newest cities were developed, the best properties were included,” wrote Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May in a letter to county commissioners Thursday.

via City properties gain ‘phenomenal’ value in DeKalb County |

Georgia’s new boater education law takes effect July 1 |

Beginning July 1, state law will require those born on or after Jan. 1, 1998, to complete a boating safety course to lawfully operate a motorized vessel, including personal watercraft, on any Georgia waters.

The course must be approved by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Law enforcement will enforce the law by checking for possession of the state’s official boater education card, issued to those who complete the course.

Under the law, youth ages 12-15 are allowed to operate a vessel less than 16 feet in length, including a personal watercraft, after passing the course or if they’re accompanied by a competent adult.

Exempt are only those operating on a private lake or pond, licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard as a master of a vessel or non-residents with proof of completion of a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators-approved boater education course, according to the DNR.

via Georgia’s new boater education law takes effect July 1 |

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