August 18, 2011 Issue


America is facing challenges, but we aren’t dismantling

Dear Editor:

I agree that the recent debt debate that our government (on both sides) has created a mess in not only Washington, but for the whole nation. But to say it’s being dismantled is not so. Whoever says that is someone who doesn’t believe in America bouncing back to its true greatness. America has gone through some hard times in the past and it will go through some hard times in the future. But we always bounce back. True we are in deep crap right now, but to say we are dismantling, is more deep bull.

In the last 31 months, I’ve heard one of the most powerful politicians in Washington say: “Our party’s most important objective is to see that this president is a one-term president.” He didn’t say that helping America was the most important objective for his party, or helping create jobs for Americans. It saddens me to say this, but there are those in America, (in and outside) of our government who want to control whom and what’s going on in Washington so as to keep their pockets full and the burden of taxes paid by the middle and lower working class.



But if you want to know what’s really dismantling, (signing a pledge to never raise taxes before you are sworn in), now that’s what I call methodically dismantling. All elected tea party members, and republican politicians are asked to sign this pledge, dismantling them from the very start. Anyone in his right mind knows if you don’t have anything coming in, you cannot keep spending. Another sad fact that the right believes is that America can sustain itself off the backs of the middle and lower income earners in America.

The other night I watched what I thought would be a healthy debate between a bunch of wanna-bes and a flake. All I saw and heard was Obama this and Obama that. They went after each other’s records, but didn’t go after the front runner. I thought that was really strange. You would think if you were wanted to break away from the pack, you would go after who you thought would be the front runner. What I saw was a joke. This much I can say for the flake, she believes that she can really whip them ole boys. She may not be smart, but she believes in herself, and it’s my opinion, that’s as smart as she’s gonna get.

This past Saturday, in of all the places (South Carolina), the governor of Texas threw his hat in the ring, (woo-hoo). Now there’s a real cowboy. Born and raised in Texas. I got plenty of facts about this ole boy that’s gonna break a lot of hearts on the right. And please don’t anyone write back with that mess about him creating jobs, because the jobs that were created in this state, that weren’t funded by the stimulus money, were oil-related jobs.

He can say that he created them and that, my friends, is a lie, too. Look it up for yourselves. Remember some months ago when the states were trying to get their share of the stimulus to help with their state budgets. Well that good ole boy from Texas said, like all the other red state governors, he and they didn’t want or wouldn’t take any of those funds. They lied, including this ole boy from Texas named Rick Perry.

That’s how they created jobs. Now that the stimulus is drying up, they (the republican governors) are telling you how they’re saving and cutting taxes. They’re not saving you anything, but what they are doing is cutting back on education, which means teachers’ jobs, cutting back on what each state would be sending each city for police and firemen jobs.

I got a list of things that I think you, as citizens, already know about. But stop for a moment and just focus on what’s going on in the state of Georgia. Ask yourselves about these people that you vote for time and time again. They tell you they don’t want the children of the future to be burdened with taxes, but what they don’t tell you is they’re voting to cut education money for those same kids that you patted on the back for graduating just this past May and June. College will cost more, there will be less student loans, and the future of America’s children being educated and keeping up with the educated children of the world looks very grim.

Finally, there are states in America, (right now, today) that have no city police departments, or have cut back so much that they cannot do their jobs, and it’s trickling down to our fire departments all across America, as well. We are coming apart, but we will never “dismantle.”

Clyde D’Antignac
Future Wadley Resident

GOP going out of its way to prove it’s not the other guys

Dear Editor:

By Walter C. Jones
Morris News Service

Republican legislators are going to great lengths to demonstrate they’re not like Democrats when it comes to redistricting.

The House and Senate issued press releases Friday afternoon that clearly had the same author who seeks to justify the revised legislative districts. And the chairwoman of the state party also issued a statement moments later praising them.

The legislative releases point out that fewer minority-party lawmakers were drawn into the same districts than 10 years ago when the democrats revised the maps to reflect census figures. And both new maps split fewer counties than both the democrats’ maps and the one drawn by a federal court to replace the democratic maps it invalidated.

Republicans also released their proposed maps before the special session convenes on Monday, noting that democrats only released theirs moments before legislative committees voted on them.

Ten years ago, the Democratic Party realized that trends were going against it. To try to prolong the GOP takeover, party operatives attempted to stretch the bounds of legal restrictions to produce maps where they could hold onto power. Federal courts ruled their stretching went too far.

And voters agreed, adding the gerrymandering to a growing list of indictments that eventually swamped Roy Barnes’ hopes for re-election as governor in 2002, an election that also ousted other powerful democrats, including Speaker Tom Murphy of Bremen and Senate Majority Leader Charles Walker of Augusta.

“We have learned the lessons of 2001 and created a plan that fairly represents the people, not one designed solely to achieve a political outcome,” said current Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock.

It’s easier to heed that lesson when trends favor your party, notes Rep. Roger Lane, chairman of the House Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Committee.

“It would be kind of foolish not to be magnanimous because the demographics are there,” said Lane, R-Darien. “The courts drew the maps we have now, and republicans have won.”

Today’s democrats say the GOP goal may not be holding onto power but rather taking more. They accuse republicans of manipulating the boundaries to gain the super majority needed to pass constitutional amendments without democrats’ votes.

House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams, who happens to be black, said republicans created more districts in which blacks are the majority to grab two-thirds of the seats.

“The artificial increase in majority-minority districts fails to help minority voters if they are shut out of power in a republican super-majority,” she said.

She knows as well as the republicans that blacks reliably vote overwhelmingly for democrats. So squeezing more into a district to make it majority black leaves the district they were in leaning more toward the GOP.

Republicans say they had no choice under the federal Voting Rights Act which prohibits “retrogression,” the reduction in the number of “majority-minority” districts.

At least one expert agrees.

Charles Bullock, a University of Georgia political science professor who was called to federal court as an expert witness by lawyers defending the democrats’ maps 10 years ago, says Abrams is misreading the law.

Courts look at the number of majority-minority districts from the most recent census to calculate retrogression in minority districts, not compared to the previous set of maps as Abrams contends.

Some creative gerrymandering might have prevented democrats from having to face each other in the same districts, Bullock notes, but it comes with the territory.

“If you’re the minority party, you can’t expect the majority party to go to these extremes to save your members,” he said.

Besides the democrats paired in the same districts, many more may have been left in areas that tilt toward GOP voters. Abrams can’t predict how many because she hadn’t had time to digest the district demographics and voting history that republicans surely used in deciding where the lines went.

The group Common Cause blasted the proposed maps for splitting up counties, they say, for partisan advantage. Rockdale County, the second smallest geographically in the state, sent representatives pleading to be kept wholly in one district at the public hearings held by the legislative committees.

It wound up sliced six ways in the map released Friday.

“The democrats are taking a harsh stance in an attempt to protect their party’s interests while the republicans drew maps to strengthen their interests,” said William Perry, Common Cause’s executive director. “Lost in all of this is the importance of the people that live in these districts and the importance of community to them.”

It’s probably unreasonable to expect partisan politicians to behave in a non-partisan way. Common Cause wants to remedy the situation with a citizens committee to run redistricting as was proposed by then-Gov. Sonny Perdue -- an idea that promptly died in the General Assembly.

What we have instead is bipartisan committees in the House and Senate. They’ll begin this week holding hearings on the proposed maps.

They may get so much static that they’ll wish they had kept the maps under wraps until the vote, like the democrats did.

Walter Jones is the bureau chief for the Morris News Service and has been covering state politics since 1998. He can be reached at walter.jones@morris.com, (404) 589-8424 or on Twitter @MorrisNews.


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