Boehner will have his hands full with his newest “Crackpot Caucus”

Has the Speaker gone from herding cats to stopping stampeding elephants in the new Congress?

By Gary Cox

NYTimesThere is an old adage that says, “Be careful what you ask for; you may get it.” This may be the case with a solid control in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, especially for House Speaker John Boehner. While the likes of Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) will be exiting Congress, some of the members entering Congress may make her extremist views look rather mild mannered.

Here are some incoming members of Congress who will surely make the national news in the months ahead. They will be joining “The Crackpot Caucus,” a name coined by New York Times columnist Timothy Egan. The list includes three of Georgia’s own! The names to watch for in the news for outlandish policy positions with accompanying commentary are Rick Allen (R-GA), David Brat (Libertarian-VA), Ken Buck (R-CO), Barbara Comstock (R-VA), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Glenn Gothram (R-WI), Jody Hice (R-GA), French Hill (Libertarian-AR), Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), Alex Mooney (R-WV), Mark Walker (R-NC), and Ryan Zinke (R-MT).

While we can’t list all the crazy comments made by this “Gang of Twelve” in the last election cycle, here are just a few of the most notable quips and positions.  Retired former Navy Seal Ryan Zinke asserted that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the “anti-Christ.” Consultant Barbara Comstock lists as one of her major clients the Koch brothers. Ken Buck (one of our favorites) called homosexuality a “lifestyle choice” and wants to privatize the Veterans Administration hospital system and the Social Security Administrations (his mantra is “the private sector does it better.) Choral Pastor Mark Walker believes that the government should force women to give birth to the child of the rapist. Professor David Brat wants to slash Social Security payments to retired Americans by two-thirds and says, “ nations have nothing to fear from climate change.” Evidently he hasn’t vacationed in south Florida where tidal flooding of streets in Miami Beach is becoming common place.

Now to Georgia’s own – State Representative Barry Loudermilk in 2013 wanted to repeal Georgia’s state-run Medicaid program. He said we need to let non-profit hospitals provide indigent care. (Who pays the bill? Yes, you!) Businessman Rick Allen wants to privatize Social Security, gut the Environmental Protection Agency and decrease federal oversight of education. Then, there is radio talk show host Jody Hice, who was voted by as the “craziest new member of Congress.” Congressman-elect Hice has stated that Muslim Americans have no constitutional First Amendment protections because Islam is “not a real religion.”  Hice also said that women should not be involved in politics without the consent of their husbands. In a recent post-election radio broadcast, Hice said that Congress should pass a law that allows people to discriminate against gay people if homosexuality offends their religious beliefs. Michelle Bachmann has nothing on Rev. Jody Hice.

It will be interesting to see if Speaker Boehner is better at stopping stampeding elephants than herding cats in the new Congress. Boehner is going to have a very hard time appeasing his right flank in the new Congress.

To verify the ascribed comments please check these sources:



ELECTION DAY: Today Georgia Democrats can be decision makers

gavoterToday is Election Day, so let’s recap the political landscape. There will be tons of post election recaps however Blogging While Blue would like to get in front of the election chatter. Democrats, the Party, Independents and everyday folks have made a huge dent in the perception that Georgians are somehow satisfied with things under the Gold Dome, in Congress or in their personal lives.

National media has latched onto the implications of race in Georgia politics but I think one key storyline has been nearly ignored. A significant number of Georgia voters are worried about their jobs, how much they earn to support their families, their children’s current and future education goals, healthcare options and their immigration status.

For the first time in a long time Georgians are considering the prospect that their votes might actually count. The overwhelming turnout during the 18 days of early voting give hope in a sense of renewed political engagement across the state.

What exactly has been going on in Georgia this election cycle?

Georgia Democrats have offered superior candidates for office in Michele Nunn, Jason, Carter, Valerie Wilson, Greg Hecht, Connie Stokes and others. Each one brings relevant experience and a network of people who know them and their work, they appeal across party lines, communicate effectively and address contemporary issues by using facts rather than fiction.

Michele Nunn and Jason Carter have superior statewide and national name recognition that reflects their families’ political traditions and reputation, integrity and a clear understanding of contemporary issues.

Their campaigns have been exceptional. Michele Nunn and Jason Carter are exceptional leaders. 

The Democratic Party of Georgia has unified under the proficient leadership of Dubose Porter these last few years. Porter, a long time legislator from Dublin, Georgia has rejuvenated the Democratic Party with his business acumen and savvy political skills. He’s brought most Democratic leaders together and worked hard to be inclusive. Even when there was public debate about whether the party had any chance of winning statewide offices, Porter kept his cool and did the hard work of building the party base county by county.

Georgia Victory 2014/ the Coordinated Campaign Get Out The Vote (GOTV) plan was enhanced by independent voter registration, voter education and grassroots outreach across the state.  The Georgia Victory 2014 is a coordinated field campaign enhanced by an extensive network of independent robust targeted initiatives including the New Georgia Project, Souls to the Polls, Georgia Equality, GALEO the Latino Vote organization, the People’s Agenda, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, college NAACP chapters and numerous other organizations from Sparta to Athens to Vidalia to Augusta, Savannah and Atlanta. Each has had success and together these initiatives have ignited excitement among voters across the state.

The top ticket campaigns have combined the experience of national and local political consultants with thousands of committed volunteers joining in. The combined value of the local, national and grassroots political efforts is greater than the sum of the parts. Very few recent top Georgia races have had the foresight and courage to manage campaigns this way.

Whether the midterm elections will be an upset or not will be for the voters to decide on Tuesday. Some are already predicting runoffs in the top ticket races. Some are reporting calculations of how much they have accomplished or contributed. Others have claimed victory already.

Wednesday morning the election results will be known and for Georgians who are tired of the gridlock in Congress and are concerned about jobs, healthcare and their children who are in a state that is stuck at the bottom for employment, educational investment, transportation and environment, we remain convinced our coordinated efforts will prevail because many Georgians are worried about gridlock in the nation’s capital in Congress and partisanship that closed downed government in and stifles innovative policy making and decision making on immigration, on tax reform, on tax reform and minimum wage, on national security and environmental policy and are concerned about their jobs, their health and their children in a state stuck at the bottom for employment and investment in smart transportation, sustainable environment and top quality public education.

Doing the same thing over and over doesn’t change the results!

It is time to change the state’s leadership.

NunnCarterAs Election Day, November 4 nears the pressure is on Georgians to distinguish fact from fiction. My intuition tells me even with Politifact Georgia and media exposure too many Georgians might miss a few of the important facts surrounding this year’s elections.

Georgia’s economic recovery lags the nation in almost every measure. Even the most recent federal reports confirm what thousands of Georgia families know…. our unemployment rate is awful. Georgia has the HIGHEST unemployment rate in the US. That means 49 governors are doing a better job than our governor in creating jobs, retaining jobs and employing its residents. On Governor Deal’s watch, his economic recovery plan of corporate tax cuts, refusing to expand Medicaid and balancing the state budget at the expense of education hasn’t worked! It is time for a change. Jason Carter has the guts to advocate for refocusing Georgia on investing in education. This is the surest method to improve Georgia’s growth in business opportunities and economic expansion. It will insure Georgia’s long-term economic health.  The days of starving education and expecting economic growth are over. In the 21st century a first-rate innovative education plan from cradle through college including technical school are essential to meet the educational needs of Georgia’s children. We all benefit when our neighbors are working too. Those who are unemployed need more than the Governor’s quarrels with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Lip service that “statistics don’t matter” is a disservice to unemployed Georgians. They need job training and access to education.

In the U.S. Senate race to replace Saxby Chambliss, too many attack TV ads make it seem as if President Obama is running to be Georgia’s next senator. He isn’t. In fact, Michele Nunn’s career has been far from partisan. She is on a first name basis with four former presidents, George H. Bush, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter as well as President Obama. She is a bridge-builder who has worked to break down barriers that keep us from working together. In 2009, she worked with Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) to pass the Serve America Act, which gives small grants to volunteers for service projects in their communities.  From her Hands on Atlanta experience to CEO of President’s Bush’s Points of Light Foundation, Michelle has worked to seek full civic engagement of everyday folks that empowers neighborhoods to help themselves. Nunn’s experience and record reflects her ability to work with Republicans and Democrats, which is why her donors also include both Republicans and Democrats. Her top priority is to create jobs and economic opportunity in Georgia – and not outsourcing Georgia jobs to China.

It is time for change in Georgia – it is time to vote for Jason Carter for Governor and Michelle Nunn for the U.S. Senate!


Georgia’s Unemployment Rate is Too High–Period.

georg45This campaign season has highlighted a lot of reasons to get to the polls but none is more significant than the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report that lists Georgia as once again with the highest unemployment rate in the country. Georgia’s unemployment rate of 7.9 percent is a full two points higher than the national average, and Georgia lost more than 15,000 private sector jobs in September. This is not a partisan or political issue; it is a grave economic reality for Georgians.

“This is absolutely unacceptable,” said Sen. Jason Carter. “Gov. Deal has driven Georgia to the very bottom. By his own words, he’s rejecting facts instead of accepting responsibility for this crisis. If he can’t even see the problem, why should we trust him to fix it?”

Since Governor Deal was elected unemployment in Georgia has been high so whatever he has been doing it is not working. It is well past the time for us to get our heads out of the sand.

Gov. Deal has been reported as having said, “I believe that somebody who has a job is better than somebody who doesn’t have a job.” I would argue that is especially false for the job of Governor of Georgia.


Why President Obama and Georgia Need the LBGTQ Community in November. Will your vote count?

Shirley FranklinIn a tongue-in-cheek, but pointed article, Newsweek Magazine nicknamed President Obama as “the first gay President.” This was an editorial comment on President Obama’s firm support of same-sex marriage, employment non-discrimination, HIV/AIDS funding and tthe Departments of Justice and Defense efforts to grant LBGTQ citizens, servicemen and servicewoman “full citizenship” in their interactions with the Federal Government. Many are not aware that President Obama is also the first President to invite transgendered children to the annual White House Easter Egg Roll. The invitation did not cause a “flap” in the press and was a non-issue because it is a well-known fact the President practices the “politics of inclusion”.

Here in Georgia, the campaign for inclusion has yet to be realized for minority communities. This includes Hispanics, Asians, Africa Americans and the LBGTQ community. Georgia ranks dead last with the highest unemployment rate in the nation with some 380,000 plus Georgians out of work. The majority of Georgia’s unemployed are minorities. In education we rank 35th in per student spending. We have cut teachers’ pay and have 6,500 fewer teachers in Georgia’s classrooms. We have refused to expand Medicaid to grant healthcare to the working poor, which has an adverse impact on Grady Memorial Hospital as well as our rural health system – resulting in hospital closings in some rural communities. And to add insult to injury Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp is stonewalling efforts to register more than 600,000 minority voters. He is holding up approximately 51,000 registration applications under the pretense of “voter fraud”. The Republican effort to suppress minority voters and the Democratic vote in Georgia is reminiscent of literacy tests that were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. As Atlantans celebrated Pride this past weekend, LBGTQ residents in Georgia LBGTQ cannot marry, cannot file joint state taxes, are unprotected in the workplace against employment discrimination and generally confess to not feeling “safe” outside major urban areas. Here in Georgia, there is still work to be done before President Obama’s vision of an “Equal America” is realized.

If President Obama is going to continue his efforts to level the playing field of minority participation, Democrats need to maintain control of the U.S. Senate. A vote for Michelle Nunn, who is endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign, a national LBGTQ lobby, is a vote to maintain Democratic control of the U.S. Senate. Control of the House and the Senate are important to the President; it is the difference between success and failure. The Democratic-controlled Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in as a bipartisan measure. However, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced immediately after the Senate vote that ENDA was “dead on arrival” in the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives. It is no secret the Republicans have tried consistently to derail the President’s federal non-discrimination agenda. In November, it is important to send a strong message that Georgia isn’t the presumptive “Red State” that Republicans thought it was … your vote can make a difference in all the state-wide contests from the U.S. Senate, the Governor’s Office and the State School Superintendent’s race.

In Georgia, if we want to improve and reform our educational system, if we want to expand Medicaid and strengthen our healthcare system, if we want to fairly register all voters, if we are tired of being dead last in healthcare, education and employment, if we want to pass State Representative Karla Drenner’s Fair Employment Practices Act in the Georgia General Assembly to protect LBGTQ state employees, and if we want a better quality of life for our husbands, our wives, our friends and our families, we need Jason Carter as Governor. It will take strong leadership to change Georgia’s direction. President Obama needs a Governor who will work with him. The President does not need a Governor who jousts at windmills and accuses the President’s Administration of “manipulating” Georgia’s unemployment rate to change the outcome of an election.

President Obama needs LBGTQ Georgians to register, to vote and to be a part of the statewide coalition to retain control of the U.S. Senate and to right the ship of the state of Georgia. President Obama needs Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter.

AG continues to fiddle while Rome burns!



Georgia’s continued defense of same-sex marriage ban a colossal waste of taxpayer money. 

BY: Gary S. Cox

Earlier in the year, U. S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a speech in Minneapolis told an audience to watch the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is comprised of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. If the 6th circuit ruled to uphold the state constitutional bans against same-sex marriage, then there would be some urgency for the court to hear the issue on appeal. She noted if the 6th Circuit Court strikes down the bans, then there would be no sense of urgency for the court to enter the fray. The 6th Circuit Court decision is still pending.

The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to decline hearing the petitions of 5 states where the appellate courts struck down their constitutional bans against same sex marriage in effect legalizes same-sex marriage in 30 states. Even a lay person can read the proverbial hand writing on the wall and know, as Ginsburg predicted, the High Court will only enter the fray if there are conflicting appellate court rulings. It is readily apparent how the Supreme Court is leaning on the issue. Remember, it takes 4 Justices to say “Yes” to have a case heard before the court. The votes to reverse the appellate court decisions to strike down state constitutional marriage bans are most likely not there. The same 5-4 split in the “Defense Against Marriage Act” ruling is the most probable outcome predicted by seasoned court watchers, if the court does take up the issue of same-sex marriage.

Now comes the state of Georgia, in a recent article in The Atlanta-Journal Constitution the Attorney General’s office announced the state of Georgia will proceed with its court fight to save the state constitution’s ban on same-sex marriage, the AG’s spokesperson noted. Marriages will begin taking place in the 30 states impacted by the High Court’s decision not to hear any same-sex marriage cases. It is unlikely the High Court will knowingly allow such marriages to take place, then annul those marriages at some future date. Even our Southern neighbors – Virginia, West Virginia, South and North Carolina now have same sex marriage as a direct result of the Supreme Court’s decision. In North Carolina, Governor Pat McCrory grudgingly noted the “acceptance of the inevitability” of same-sex marriage becoming legal in his state. The fight to ban same-sex marriage is over. Yet Georgia’s AG continues to waste taxpayer money in a battle he is predictably to lose. Even Utah’s Governor Gary Herbert, who adamantly opposed same-sex marriage, stated in response to the High Court decision, ” “. . . ultimately we are a nation of laws, and we here in Utah will uphold the law.” The state AG’s office should drop it’s case, as did the AG of North Carolina, and accept the consensus of the American people.

About That Story on the City of Atlanta’s Personnel Policies

Shirley Franklin’s response to the recent WSB-TV story by Richard Belcher

“I just returned to Atlanta from a business trip. I have no inclination to be engaged in a public debate about my service as mayor. My record of integrity and honesty is well documented. I am not aware of any instances that mirror the actions that have been described in the current coverage of employee payouts. If there is any question about the legality of any of my actions or decisions during nearly twenty one years in public office, then the responsible authorities should investigate and take the appropriate action.”

Shirley Franklin

Every Vote Counts!

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“I would prefer more educated voters than a greater increase in the number of voters.”

- Georgia State Senator Fran Millar (R)

In Political Science 101 you quickly learn that power is taken and not freely given. The recent outrageous statements of State Senator Fran Millar (R-DeKalb) complaining about the innovative idea of voting on Sunday as a “loop hole in the law” that needs closing is just blatantly ridiculous. The battle to register and empower Atlanta’s minority communities has a lengthy history that we must remember.

In the 1970’s Maynard Jackson campaigned for Mayor on a platform pledge to open the doors to City Hall for neighborhood leaders to join business leaders whose influence was a mainstay of local politics. The creation of the Neighborhood Planning Unit, a citywide grassroots community engagement municipal program, deliberately tied policy to the opinions and counsel of city residents and business owners. This dramatically shifted the expectation of everyday folks and empowered their opinions on city governance.

By the mid 1970’s new political coalitions were forming led by young people at the center of the political action. As a young visionary leader Jackson symbolized change. Maynard Jackson was joined by other young leaders like Arthur Langford, Jr. who was elected to the Atlanta City Council at the age of 23. As a councilman, he worked tirelessly to end gun violence and lessen the drug trade in low income communities. Similarly, Mayor Maynard Jackson was the first elected official in the state of Georgia to anticipate the rise of the LBGTQ community as a growing political influence. Jackson was the first to appoint a liaison at the Mayoral level at City Hall.

In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, the LBGTQ community was just beginning to coalesce around their common political interests as a result of the impact of the A.I.D.S epidemic. Though many in the Democratically controlled state leadership held voter registration drives in the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s, the LBGTQ community through L.E.G.A.L (Legislate Equality for Gays and Lesbians) also held voter registration drives in the 1st, 5th and 6th City Council Districts almost every weekend. In fact, a friend, Gary Cox, won an award in 1989 from the Fulton County Voter Registrar’s Office for registering more voters than anyone else in the county. The LGBTQ community set up at Ansley Mall, Grant Park, Piedmont Park, (at the annual Gay Pride Festival) and outside Backstreet (within the legal distance of a drinking establishment) to specifically target their community. L.E.G.A.L. actually received criticism for “targeting” gay people because it was considered “partisan and limited” to target a specific social minority.

In much the same way, the New Georgia Project, whose specific goal is to register the estimated 600,000 plus voting age African Americans in the state, is now being criticized and targeted by the Office of the Secretary of State. If the new Georgia Project were successful in just registering 40% or more of unregistered African American voters, 260,000 new voters would forever change the dynamic of Georgia elections, according to Benjamin Jealous, formerly of the NAACP.

The New Georgia Project is courageously attempting to change Georgia’s voting dynamics through its efforts. Likewise, the LBGTQ voter registration drives were started to change the voting dynamics and empower the gay community in City Council Districts 6, 5 and 1. Those efforts, along with the 1991 redistricting process led to the election of Cathy Woolard as the City’s first openly gay city council member.

The 1990 census documented the 6th City Council District was comprised with the most male same-sex households than anywhere in the entire state. The 5th City Council District at that time, had more same-sex female households than anywhere in the state. In the city redistricting of 1991, which was based on the 1990 census, Cathy Woolard, Richard Jones, Gary Cox and others worked to connect Midtown to Little Five Points, Inman Park and Candler Park. They were successful in their efforts to reconfigure the 6th City Council District.

The map they drew, was used as the basis for city redistricting in 1991. For the first time in LBGTQ history in Atlanta the tool of redistricting was used to empower the gay community. The LBGTQ leadership of the early 1990’s was surely taking notes from the African American civil rights struggle and applying those lessons to what they had learned to impact the political process for their community.

Fast-forward to the present, now comes Governor Nathan Deal endorsing the idea of banning Sunday voting. Additionally, the Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp has issued subpoenas to “investigate” the New Georgia Project. It is extremely clear to Georgia Democrats that when it comes to voting rights we have not reached Dr. King’s “promised land”. The basic and fundamental right to vote is one of the most defining issues in the 2014 November election.

In the 1970’s and ‘80’s the tag line “If you don’t vote, you don’t count” was commonly used to rally voter registration. Georgia, according to the web site “Census Viewer,” has 4,960,073 qualified registered voters. Of this number, 54.53% are women and 45.46% are men, and some 200 individuals did not list their gender. Some of these four million plus voters are straight, others are gay. Some are African American and others are White, Asian or Latino. The category doesn’t matter. Each registered voter counts equally when voting.

If we are to reach the promised land, it requires honest leadership who cares about all Georgians not just the privileged few … isn’t it time we reach the promised land of 1 person = one vote?

Gov. Nathan Deal doesn’t want you to vote on Sundays

1374168461-gov_nathan_deal_183Think, for a moment, of all the things that are now normal to do on Sundays.

We can shop for groceries. Buy lottery tickets. Even order a glass of wine or beer.

But some politicians, including Gov. Deal, don’t want you to vote on Sunday.

In a historical move for this state, three Georgia counties will allow voters to cast their ballots on Sunday.

DeKalb, Fulton and Lowndes have announced Sunday voting days to increase access for voters who can’t get to the polls during a busy work week or during a Saturday shift on the job.

Gov. Deal thinks this is wrong.

He blasted the move as a “departure from the norm” and said he wants “uniformity.”

And he even said that he will fight to block Sunday voting if he’s re-elected.

“I feel sure this is an issue that the General Assembly will probably be looking at very seriously come January,” Deal told a reporter yesterday.

The governor’s vow to limit voter access comes just a day after the shocking comments by state Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody) on DeKalb County’s voting plan:

“Now we are to have Sunday voting at South DeKalb Mall just prior to the election. Per Jim Galloway of the AJC, this location is dominated by African American shoppers and it is near several large African American mega churches such as New Birth Missionary Baptist. Galloway also points out the Democratic Party thinks this is a wonderful idea – what a surprise. I’m sure Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter are delighted with this blatantly partisan move in DeKalb.”

He added, “…We will try to eliminate this election law loophole in January.”

Then Millar’s statements took an even more shameful turn when he wrote on Facebook, “I would prefer more educated voters than a greater increase in the number of voters.”  

Both Gov. Deal and Sen. Millar were involved in Georgia’s blatantly partisan redistricting process three years ago, which virtually guaranteed GOP supermajorities in both legislative chambers. Millar voted for the redistricting plans and Deal signed them.

The fact that Millar and Deal have meddled in elections for partisan purposes and now condemn expanding voting access is disturbing enough.

But even more disturbing is the idea that voting on Sunday is somehow inappropriate.

Sen. Millar voted for the bill to allow Sunday alcohol sales, and Gov. Deal signed it into law.

That is the law on Sundays now.

But the sacred right to vote is not?

P.S If you want to take action now, call your county officials and ask them to join DeKalb, Fulton and Lowndes Counties. Everyone in Georgia should be able to vote on a Sunday if they choose.

The subtle yet glaring distinction of being different





President Barack Obama wore a tan suit and social media started a national dialogue on why, what it meant, was it appropriate and how he was just so different from previous presidents. I think it has been documented that he wasn’t the first president to ever wear a tan suit. I saw a recent link on the Atlanta Journal Constitution site that caught my eye because it said “Atlanta, meet your mayors”. One glance at the photos and I immediately saw the difference. I would assume the photos of the men in business attire were actual photos of them as mayors, mine however was clearly years before I ran for office and not a photo of me as mayor. Sometimes the subtly of being different isn’t that subtle.