Posted by: The Last Liberal Gwinnettian | November 6, 2010

Hope for Georgia Democrats

Nathan Deal and Casey Cagle have already done their best to ensure that Georgia Democrats maintain hope for the future: They have already screwed up.

Listen up, folks: We have just four years in which to ensure that Nathan Deal, Casey Cagle, and their crooked cronies leave the Georgia capitol and go back to the rocks they climbed out from. Starting…NOW.

Even Georgia’s Senate Republicans have gotten sick of Casey Cagle’s overly friendly relationship with lobbyists. The Republican caucus in the Senate has voted to strip Cagle of pretty much any real power he might hold. He will no longer be able to appoint chairs to various committees, nor will he be able to determine the make-up of said committees. His only real power will be the ability to direct pieces of legislation to committees.

As this Galloway AJC post points out, Georgia politics (well, all politics, really) is all about the “ask”. The person who gets asked for favors is the person with the power. For the past few years, that person has been Casey Cagle. The Senators apparently got sick of no longer wielding any substantial power, and have decided to take the power back.

On the one hand, this is an extreme statement about Cagle’s relationship with lobbyists. When even your own party members are sick of you pandering to lobbyists, you have a BIG problem. Although several caucus members maintained that this move was not meant as a slight against Cagle, I find it pretty tough to believe that this was just a “routine refinement” of Senate rules — this has “personal” written all over it.

On the other hand, this is also a power play on the part of the Republican Senators. They aren’t just sick of Cagle’s crookedness — they also miss being able to be crooked themselves. This means that we have an even greater obligation to keep an eye on our state Senators for the next couple of years, because they have purposely set themselves up in positions of power.

And now for Nathan Deal.

As we’ve already mentioned in an earlier post, Nathan Deal has appointed Chris Riley — his former House chief of staff, campaign manager, and pilot — as his new chief of staff. Riley “rarely allows Deal to go anywhere without him, unless it is a family matter.”  Riley was also involved in nearly every ethics scandal that plagued Deal throughout the campaign — from using his position to persuade state officials to protect his “contract” with the state to using his position to persuade local officials to rezone land and roads. The fact that Nathan Deal seems blithely unconcerned about the potential message this sends to voters — “I don’t care what you think about ethics” — is, to say the least, upsetting. This is a slap in the face to the many voters who offered Deal their grudging support — many voters who voted for Deal did so despite concerns about his ethics in the hope that the Republican governor would truly act in the best interests of their party.

Not only did Deal maintain his allegiance to his cohort, he also made several other questionable appointments. His transition team is made up of: Roger Wade (chairman of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank), Pete Robinson (a veteran lobbyist who will supposedly suspend his lobbying practices while serving — yeah, sure he will), John Watson (Purdue’s former chief of staff and founder of a major Atlanta lobbying firm), Philip Wilheit (one of Deal’s business partners), Jay Morgan (another political insider and long-time lobbyist), and Tricia Pridemore (a founder of the 912 Project, Glenn Beck’s incredibly conservative political group).

Let’s count: Of the 6 members, half are lobbyists. One is Deal’s business partner. All are highly conservative (so much for even attempting to appear non-partisan). There is only 1 woman and no minorities (because obviously there aren’t any minorities in Georgia).

Of those lobbyists, one — John Watson — is currently raising money for the legal defense of a Georgia lobbyist indicted on federal corruption charges in Alabama.

Good lord. Nathan Deal has only been Governor-elect for less than a week and he has already displayed an obvious willingness to hop into bed with special interests, support corruption, and ignore pretty much anyone who didn’t vote for him.

Someone needs to tell Nathan Deal that when you are elected for state-wide office, you are obligated to represent EVERYONE, not just the people who voted for you.

In the meantime, Nathan Deal is already on the path to becoming one of Georgia’s most despicable Governors (and in the state that elected Lester Maddox, that’s really saying something).

No Deal, Georgia.

Posted by: The Last Liberal Gwinnettian | November 3, 2010

We’ll Be Back

While I would have been disappointed by the election of nearly any Republican governor, I am devastated by the election of Nathan Deal. My upset is not because the Republicans maintained power of the state but that these particular Republicans gained power: Nathan Deal and Casey Cagle — together forever. I hope that you can all understand that we need a bit of a break after the disappointment of Nathan Deal’s victory.

But we’ll be back.

The fact is that Nathan Deal hasn’t even been elected for 24 hours yet and he’s already done something somewhat shady: He announced that Chris Riley will be his chief of staff. As a reminder, Chris Riley was Deal’s chief of staff in the House. He was involved in every instance of Deal abusing public office for personal gain. Moreover, Riley was involved in another ethics scandal in which Deal’s office paid Riley and his wife $245K for airfare to and from Georgia — Riley did not properly disclose this income, and he attempted to cover up his involvement in the company.

I wonder what kind of shenanigans these two will get into in the Governor’s mansion?

Listen up, folks: We have four years to ensure that our next Governor is, at the very least, capable and honest.

Posted by: Perimeter Progressive | November 2, 2010

I Kinda Want to Cry

The AJC seems to have already called all statewide races for the GOP. Which means that, if the AJC is correct and nothing extraordinary happens in the final counts, Nathan Deal will be our next Governor — a man who seeks to profit from rape victims, steals taxpayer dollars, lies and refuses to reveal the truth, and can’t even keep his own personal finances in the black.

I’m not sure whether I want to cry or move.

Posted by: The Last Liberal Gwinnettian | November 2, 2010

Georgian Women Say NO DEAL

Women of Georgia, lend me your ears!

Nathan Deal has a history of voting against women. He introduced a bill in the state senate in 1991 which would have severely harmed our rape shield laws, allowing defense attorneys to question a rape victim about her sexual past and mode of dress. He voted against equal pay for equal work.

Even Karen Handel can’t bring herself to openly support Nathan Deal.

25,000+ women have already said No to Nathan Deal via Facebook.

But what’s more important is that we say No to Nathan Deal at the polls.

You don’t have to take our word for it:

Posted by: The Last Liberal Gwinnettian | November 2, 2010

No Deal, Georgia

It’s election day and each and every poll thus far has shown just how important it is for all registered Georgians to vote. With Nathan Deal leading Roy Barnes b47 to 41 percent in early voting, it’s fairly clear that we are likely to wind up with a run off in the governor’s race — but that’s no reason to remain silent today.

While the AJC has posted 25 of the most interesting political ads from this election, it is important for voters to remember that campaign ads — regardless of the party affiliation — are not to be trusted. By their very nature, such ads are intended to provoke strong emotional responses — from women, as in the case of Roy Barnes’s ad about Nathan Deal’s highly controversial bill that would have gutted the rape shield law, to conservatives, as in Nathan Deal’s numerous ads attempting to make Roy Barnes synonymous with the “evil socialist” Obama.

At the same time, blogs, such as this one, also tend to offer rather biased information. In case the blog name didn’t tip you off, allow me to be open and up-front (I do, after all, believe in full disclosure): I support Roy Barnes for Governor. No, I am not a volunteer for the Barnes campaign, nor am I a Barnes staffer, nor am I in any way officially affiliated with any party. And, in the spirit of full disclosure, I will tell you that I voted for the Democrat in the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Senate race this year. In all other races, I voted Libertarian whenever possible because I long for greater political competition and I hope to see the Libertarian party gain traction in this state. I didn’t vote in races in which the incumbent went unopposed.

That said, I will use this post to offer you as many arguments — which as much support — as possible for why no one in this state should vote for Nathan Deal. I did a post early in the race that outlined some of Deal’s more egregious offenses, but more has come out and been clarified since then.

  1. Campaign Financing: Nathan Deal accepted hundreds of thousands in illegal donations. This wasn’t hearsay — I know this not only because the information was drawn from public records but also because Deal has since returned $130K worth of illegal donations which were cited in an ethics complaint filed by the Democrats. Yet, even after returning this vast sum — which was most certainly the right thing to do but is also an admission that the donations were accepted to begin with — “Other contributions cited in the complaint did not appear to have been returned.” Given that Deal has returned the bulk of his ill-gotten booty, this really wouldn’t be a huge deal, except for the fact that Nathan Deal has been so untrustworthy on so many other issues.
  2. Nathan Deal’s North Georgia Business: Not only was Nathan Deal placed under investigation for ethics violations related to his Gainesville salvage yard while still in Congress, not only did he leave Congress before the investigation could be completed in a clear attempt to avoid the inevitable outcome (which happened anyway after he left Congress), not only did he repeatedly lie about his business’s relationship with the State of Georgia, not only did he use his public office to protect a lucrative agreement with the State, not only did his business charge more for its services than any other salvage yard in the state (while paying the state less in commission), not only did he use his public office to force officials to rezone land for use as an illegal solid waste dump, not only did he use his public office to attempt to force the taxpayers to pay for upkeep on the business’s private road…he also lied about ALL of it. For more on these various allegations, please look at some of these links: From Atlanta Unflitered on Nathan Deal’s “contract” with the state; from us (with plenty of links supporting allegations) on Nathan Deal’s agreement with the state, and on Nathan Deal pressuring officials to rezone land and pay for his private road.
  3. The Good Ole Boys Club: Nathan Deal has a history of helping out his buddies. In nearly every ethics scandal that has arisen thus far, Deal’s former chief of staff/campaign manager/pilot, Chris Riley’s name has come up. Other names that seem to routinely come up when discussing Nathan Deal include his business partner (who would have benefited from all those backroom dealings protecting their shared salvage yard) and our dear Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. I’m sick and tired of defending my state against attacks alleging that we are a bunch of backwards rednecks and having a governor so willing to involve himself in crooked good ole boys politics won’t help. For example, Nathan Deal seems to have used public funds to support Chris Riley’s business.
  4. Georgia’s economy needs sound financial decision making: Nathan Deal has made a series of very bad business decisions — setting aside some of the more morally questionable decisions (such as alternately claiming full involvement in his daughter’s failed business and claiming to merely be a silent investor), the fact remains that this man owes more money in bad loans than the average Georgia worker could make in a century. It wasn’t as if Deal took out a business loan and the business failed. Deal took out one loan, then another and another, all while the business was stumbling about. There comes a time when you simply have to cut your losses — and that time comes long before you owe more than you actually have. Nathan Deal simply doesn’t know when to quit.
  5. Nathan Deal’s personal finances aren’t only sad, they’re also shady: This man has changed his financial disclosure forms more often than his underwear. He has inflated his personal net worth in a pathetic attempt to falsely render himself financially solvent. He released his tax returns, but refused to release any supporting documents and failed to adequately explain how he managed to pay a mere 1-3% of his rather significant income for two years running.

These reasons ought to be sufficient to convince any voter, regardless of political affiliation, not to vote for Nathan Deal. We at Perimeter Progressive urge you to vote — for ANYONE but Deal.

No Deal, Georgia.

Posted by: Perimeter Progressive | November 1, 2010

A Word to Georgia Voters

Tomorrow is election day, and while many registered voters tend to stay home for the midterm elections, we urge all Georgia voters to head to the polls. Though many state races, such as the senate race, are all but decided, there is much hope for the governor’s race. This race will determine our state’s prosperity and progress for at least the next four years – don’t stay silent!

As you already know, we have aligned ourselves with Roy Barnes. He may not be a dream come true, but he is certainly preferable to the nightmare that would likely follow the election of Nathan Deal.

Of the many people that we have spoken to regarding this election, we have noticed some fairly clear trends. Our observations and comments:

1. Democrats/liberals: Most of the more liberal people we have spoken to seem dedicated to protecting our state from the harm that Nathan Deal would likely inflict. Many are concerned that Barnes is too conservative and will continue many of the policies that are counter to the desires of the liberal base. However, it is a political reality in Georgia that any successful Democratic candidate for a state-wide race has to toe the line of moderation. When compared to our alternative, Roy Barnes comes out smelling like roses.

2. Moderates/independents/third party members: Many of the voters in this category are likely to vote for Libertarian John Monds. While we are sympathetic to the goals of the libertarian party and while we respect the clean campaign that Monds has run, it must be said that a vote for Monds is, in essence, a vote for a run-off. All we ask is that those who vote for Monds in the general election return to the polls on Nov. 30 to ensure that Nathan Deal does not succeed in his bid for governor. Regardless of party affiliation, the middle-of-the-road voters that we are acquainted with seem united in their severe disapproval of Nathan Deal’s past behavior: bad business decisions, lies and secrets, using political positions to protect personal interests at the expense of the taxpayers, accepting illegal campaign donations, and taking part in the corrupt good-ole-boy politics of days long gone. By all means, show your support for John Monds on Tuesday — but please return to the polls to vote No Deal on November 30!

3. Conservatives/Republicans: Many of our conservative and/or Republican pals have expressed disappointment and disgust over Nathan Deal’s utter lack of both common sense and ethics. However, those who seem opposed to Deal have also expressed a strong unwillingness to do what is necessary to ensure that Deal is defeated. We beg those who fall into this category to reconsider. Whether you vote for John Monds or write-in Karen Handel, please return to the polls on November 30 to vote No Deal. While you likely disagree with many of Roy Barnes’s political stances, he has at least proven himself capable of taking the helm of this state without causing turmoil, embarrassing us in the national arena, or bankrupting the state. Nathan Deal, on the other hand, has proven himself incapable of making sound financial decisions, reluctant to admit to mistakes, tenacious in covering up his own misdeeds, and more than willing to abuse elected office in order to protect the personal interests of himself and his friends — often at the expense of the Georgia taxpayers. Those conservatives who choose to stay home as a display of disapproval of Nathan Deal will simply be one less voice speaking out against political corruption and the “good-ole-boy” politics of the south. While it may gall you to vote for the Democrat — and we can understand that, neither Barnes nor the Democrats are perfect — please don’t allow your silence to benefit Nathan Deal at the expense of all Georgians.

Regardless, get out there and vote — even if you vote for Nathan Deal (though we sincerely hope that our readers will vote NO to corruption and stupidity).

No Deal, Georgia!

Posted by: The Last Liberal Gwinnettian | October 26, 2010

A Compendium of Disgusting News Stories

From Rand Paul’s supporters beating a member to Nathan Deal spitting lies again to homeowners unfairly shoved from their homes to Tea Partyists “policing” the polls, today has been a vomit-inducing news cycle.

There are at least two newspapers which I peruse daily, The Atlanta Journal Constitution and the New York Times (yes, yes, liberal media bias, etc., etc.). From these sites I generally wind up on other news sites where I come across even more news stories. And, of course, numerous of my friends send me interesting links and stories. On a normal day, this is an enjoyable way to pass the time while still remaining relatively well-informed.

Today it was an exercise in controlling my gag reflex.

First up, the Huffington Post story about the member who was shoved to the ground and stomped on at the Kentucky Senate debate between Rand Paul and “the other guy”. The woman had dressed in a blonde wig and was carrying a sign that read “RepubliCorp Employee of the Month.” She was attempting to get a photograph with her holding the sign next to Rand Paul – obviously a political statement about her (and others) belief that many Republicans are in bed with corporate America. I can’t even begin to do the scenario justice with mere words – please click here and go watch the actual video. Regardless of your politics, I think that we can all agree that this was uncalled for. Short of trying to assassinate Rand Paul, there is nothing this poor woman could have done to deserve such treatment.

Next on the list of disgusting stories: Nathan Deal has apparently had his final word (though I have a feeling he’ll have more to say before Nov. 2). In reading the transcript of this ad, I think the only truth to it is the phrase “I’m a husband, father, and grandfather.” Everything else is, at best, a half-truth. To hear Nathan Deal claim that he is honest grates on my nerves.

A New York Times article published on Sunday (I just saw it today, so I’m counting it on today’s news) discusses the foreclosure issue. The article gives a brief history of the major lenders halting and then restarting the foreclosure process, but focuses primarily on the practice of lenders denying short sales in favor of foreclosing. Rather than allowing homeowners to sell the house for less than the mortgage owed – in which case, the bank would get a fair bit of money rather than being stuck with an undervalued and unsellable house, and the homeowner would avoid the credit disaster and stress of a foreclosure – many banks, in particular Bank of America, are apparently denying short sales in favor of foreclosing. This despite the fact that, in several cases, the bank makes less money through foreclosure than through short sale. At this point, the banks have given up any pretense of working with people and have begun simply giving everyone a giant middle finger. (And on a side note, guess who won’t be using BoA for her mortgage when she purchases a house?)

And finally, another New York Times story, this one about the Tea Party vow to “police” polling sites in order to prevent voter fraud. Geez, guys, you’d think we live in the times of Tammany Hall. Boss Tweed is dead – we don’t need you to stand outside polling locations scaring off black, Hispanic, and poor voters. The vow to prevent voter fraud came as a result of the 2006 conservative claim that voter fraud is what made the Republicans lose their congressional majority. Although these claims have been proven largely false, facts don’t really matter to Tea Partyers and they are made as hell – as usual. The difference is that this time they aren’t merely standing around shouting impotently about socialists and Muslims, they are actually planning to man the polling stations: “organizing volunteer “surveillance squads” to photograph and videotape suspected irregularities, and in some cases to follow buses that take voters to the polls.” This sounds a lot more like stalking than political activism.

Someone out there, please, do something worthwhile. I would really like to read the news with a smile instead of a grimace tomorrow.

Posted by: The Last Liberal Gwinnettian | October 24, 2010

AJC Offers Comprehensive Overview of Gubernatorial Candidates

The AJC, as part of its ongoing election coverage, posted several comprehensive reviews of the three candidates for governor: Democrat Roy Barnes, Republican Nathan Deal, and Libertarian John Monds.

None of these articles contains much new information, but they were still quite edifying given that they provided such an overall view of the candidates — not simply the scandals that have made the papers in recent months, but also the candidates’ former actions while in past positions.

We’ll start with Deal: “Deal’s steady tone seen as strong suit

  • Evidently, by “steady tone” they meant “lack of any significant contributions.” The article lists a few areas in which Nathan Deal has been influential (more on those in a moment), but for the most part, the article seems to underscore the absolute lack of any real accomplishments while in office: “But for most of political life, Deal, 68, has been reserved and unremarkable…In his last partial session in Congress, Deal voted with other Republicans 93 percent of the time. He sponsored 10 bills and co-sponsored 98, none of which became law. Even when Republicans controlled Congress and he was at the height of his own political power in the mid-1990s, he seldom introduced legislation on his own and rarely got anything passed.” In other words, it seems that Deal spent most of his time in Congress voting along party lines and sponsoring bills that never passed. Gee, what a record to run on.
  • Some of the accomplishments that Deal actually does have are pretty pathetic. It seems that he is best known for his accessibility to his constituents — which, don’t get me wrong, is a good thing. But only when you are actually attempting to help everyone, not just a handful of the people who vote for you and fund your campaigns. For example, one of the constituents interviewed for the article discussed how wonderful it was to have such access to a man who could actually help out — “Tom Oliver, chairman of the Hall County Commission, has known Deal for years and is a big supporter. Part of the reason, Oliver said, is because of Deal’s attention to the needs of Hall County and to the needs of Oliver’s business, poultry.” We’ve already seen how tenacious Deal can be when acting on behalf of a constituent — just look at how hard he worked to help out that “constituent” who needed a landfill rezoned and a private road taken care of with tax dollars! Oh wait…yeah, that “constituent” was himself…whoops.
  • Among Deal’s other accomplishments: He cut Medicaid costs by requiring people to prove their legal status (okay, I can get behind that) and by reducing the cost of such drugs as Viagra (wait…really?); and he “beat back Democratic attempts to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program” (SCHIP, for the record, insures millions of children in the state of Georgia through a program known as Peachcare, and when this was “beat back” it placed a huge burden on the states to find funding for these vital programs) while pushing for subsidies for prescriptions for seniors (which would seem more gracious if his biggest campaign funders didn’t include pharmaceutical companies). All in all, not a very impressive list of accomplishments after decades in office.
  • A minor and outdated issue to be sure, but something that caught my eye: “In 1995, Deal would switch parties, formally marking his transition to a more conservative lawmaker. Not only did it fit his own values better, he said, it fit the values of his district…’I think it really reflects the constituents I was elected to represent,’ Deal said in a recent interview. ‘They too have become more conservative over a period of time.'” This despite the fact that Nathan Deal said before his 1994 election that he didn’t think it would be “honest” to “run with one party label and then, after the election, change parties.” I am still bothered by this (pardon the term) “flip-flop” because I honestly agree with Deal’s original idea — that elected official who switch parties while in office should have to run again under the new party to ensure that the constituents are okay with the switch.

And now for Roy Barnes: “Barnes grabs issues by the horns

  • All in all, I think this is a fairly positive article. As a younger voter, I have difficulty remembering the details of Barnes’s first term in office — I was in high school at the time and paid little attention to local politics. This has placed me at a disadvantage when I debate with elder conservatives about this year’s election since I sometimes have trouble defending Barnes due to a lack of knowledge about his political past. Though I have made an effort to research his former term, I have found that most newspaper articles from that time cover minute issues and it has been somewhat difficult to get a comprehensive view of Barnes’s time as governor. This article does a fairly good job of that.
  • My take from the summary of Barnes’s first term is that he recognized Georgia’s problems and moved to solve them without taking the time to consult others. While that isn’t how I would like for the state to be run, it is certainly preferable to a lot of dilly-dallying and butt-scratching. Barnes has since apologized for his heavy-handed ways and vowed to be more open and considerate should he be awarded a second term. I think it may difficult for this particular zebra to change its stripes — but to be honest, I think that a little heavy-handed governing might not be remiss in the current political and economic climate. Georgia has some real problems right now, and time is certainly of the essence — I don’t think it would be the worst thing in the world for us to have a governor who is more keen on quick action than on building a consensus at this moment in time.
  • Barnes’s former education policies aligned very closely with Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act. This is something I already knew, and I have always been confused as to why so many Georgians were upset by this. After all, Georgia went for Bush twice, and I heard few complaints from non-teacher Georgians regarding his educational policies. I can certainly understand why teachers were displeased with Barnes’s education policies, but I fail to see why Republicans in general seem so upset. I am willing to give Barnes a pass on his former education policies for a number of reasons: 1) at the time when he enacted his reforms, NCLB had yet to even be thought of and so the national debate which revealed many of its flaws had not yet taken place; 2) educational reform is a difficult task because no one really knows WHAT works — even charter schools, the oft heralded savior of the education system, don’t actually work (on average, charter schools routinely fail to outperform their public school counterparts) — and so the fact that Barnes took a chance on a reform which many experts at the time believed in isn’t such a bad thing; and 3) he tried and I do give credit for effort — trying to solve a problem is certainly better than ignoring it and hoping it will go away, or setting up a million stupid commissions to study the subject in hopes that it won’t come up again until after you leave office.
  • The article drives home the point that Barnes acted as a governor who wouldn’t seek a second term. I like that about him — he didn’t give a crap about what the political establishment thought, he drove ahead and did what he believed was right. I think that — in moderation, of course — this is a strength, not a weakness.
  • The issue that really killed Barnes was the flag. This is a moot issue at this point — I don’t know of a single person who actively longs for the old Georgia flag. Let’s be honest: yes, there is a strong argument for recognizing our history with the Confederacy, but that is not the reason we had the Confederate flag as our state flag. The state flag was changed to the Confederate flag during the 1950s when racism was at its height and the KKK held meetings on top of Stone Mountain. It was not put in place to encourage people to remember the history of our state, it was put in place to advertise the fact that blacks were not welcome in white Georgia. Moreover, in the 21st century, the Confederate symbol is not a warm and fuzzy emblem for our state. It is off-putting to new businesses and new residents and adds to Georgia’s image as a national laughingstock. I applaud Barnes’s removal of the Confederate flag, and while I think that our new flag is hideously ugly it is at least not a cause for embarrassment or an advertisement for blatant racism.
  • The other major criticism of Roy Barnes was that he played a large role in the redistricting that was intended to give a Democratic advantage. Big freaking whoop — name me a governor who doesn’t try to give his party an advantage at any possible turn. That doesn’t make it right, but it’s not fair to apply a double standard to Barnes. If it was Purdue in office at the time, he would have done the same thing for the Republicans and I guarantee you wouldn’t hear people complaining about it ten years later. The Republicans have plenty of control in this state, so clearly Barnes’s actions didn’t hurt them all that much. Wipe your tears and move on.
  • I’m not a fan of Barnes’s games with campaign finance law. He supposedly changed campaign finance regulations to enable him to raise more money for his reelection campaign. This really surprised me because I’ve followed the money fairly closely on both sides of this election and I’ve yet to see anything that concerned me in Barnes’s campaign financing. Perhaps he’s turned over a new leaf, but this information concerns me and I will watch closely on the campaign finance issue should Barnes manage a win in November.
  • All in all, I have gown to like Barnes for Barnes and not simply as an alternative to Deal. This article hasn’t changed that, though it has been illuminating. There is no perfect candidate in this race, and I truly believe that Barnes is the best option for this state.

And finally, a nod to the Libertarian candidate John Monds: “Monds forms ‘frugal, efficient campaign“:

  • Let me first share a bit about my relationship with the Libertarian party. I am and always have been a self-proclaimed liberal Democrat. However, I agree with the Libertarians on many issues and I hope to see the party become a true player in the political arena in years to come. My first encounter with a Libertarian occurred while I was on my high school debate team. While the team rode the bus to various debate tournaments throughout the South, we routinely engaged in political debates. These were rather one-sided however because of the 30ish people on the bus, all but 2 were generally Republicans. The exceptions were myself — a Democrat — and our assistant coach — a Libertarian. Of necessity, we often banded together to form a coalition to fend off Republican attacks. Thus, I have always had a bit of a soft spot for true Libertarians (I say “true” because many of the Libertarians I have encountered since label themselves such simply because they support the legalization of marijuana, and that isn’t exactly the definition of the party…).
  • To be honest, if I thought Monds had any shot at all of winning against Deal, I would probably be supporting him in this election. Of the three candidates, he remains the only one to stand above the fray. He has run a very clean campaign, and I admire him for that.
  • Especially after reading this article, I would like to see Monds eventually take some position of political clout. I think that Monds would be a wonderful addition to our state government, but sadly I also recognize that Monds will not be our next governor. Perhaps, however, this election might win the party enough votes to help further establish them in our state and I think that is the best to be hoped for in this election cycle.

All in all, I applaud the AJC’s efforts to create a more informed electorate. Sadly, those efforts are probably in vain.

I remain a Barnes supporter, I give props to Monds, and once again…

No Deal, Georgia.

Posted by: The Last Liberal Gwinnettian | October 22, 2010

AJC Rules on Truth Behind Barnes’s Rape Shield Ad

Politifact has ruled that the claims made in Roy Barnes’s ad alleging that Nathan Deal proposed a bill which would have weakened Georgia’s rape shield laws is “half-true,” saying that Barnes’s claims are essentially correct but that he should have offered more context:

Barnes’ claim is correct, but it leaves out important details….

A more balanced way to put it is this: Deal started by leading a fight to overhaul the state’s rules of evidence. This included making changes to the rape shield that gave the defense leeway that didn’t exist in state law or federal rules.

Legislators, prosecutors and victims advocates gave Deal fair warning that they would wage war if he didn’t back off.

Still, Deal pursued the change until public protest reached a fevered pitch.  And while he didn’t fight to help rapists or hurt victims, he invested his political capital as second-in-command in the state Senate on behalf of a law that weakened the rape shield act.

Statements that are accurate but leave out important details or take things out of context meet the Truth-O-Meter’s definition of Half True. That’s what we rule.

The article gives a very comprehensive overview of the exact effects that Deal’s proposed bill would have had, noting that the proposed bill did bar the victim’s sexual past from being brought up in court but that it also included four new exceptions to that rule. Among those exceptions was a rule which would have allowed defense attorneys to enter evidence about the victim’s sexual past if the prosecution submitted physical evidence including semen, injury, pregnancy, disease, “or other physical evidence.”

I find this interesting because of the time that this bill was proposed. In 1991, DNA evidence was a bit of a novelty — it had only been in use in the courts since the mid- to late-1980s. Today, it is common practice to collect any semen of bodily fluids when a rape is reported because this evidence could be used to identify the attacker through DNA profiling; in 1991, the DNA movement was just beginning. It is reasonable to suppose that a man with a legal background, a former attorney in fact, would have foreseen the effects of DNA technology on the rules of evidence in criminal cases. To me, proposing a law which specifically allows a rape victim’s sexual past to be fodder for questioning if physical evidence — evidence ripe for DNA testing — is introduced. This seems to create a scenario in which a prosecutor must weigh the wisdom of presenting the most solid evidence possible with the possibility of opening the victim up to mistreatment.

Also worth noting:

  • Many of Deal’s supporters have rightly pointed out that Roy Barnes was, at the time this bill was proposed, a sitting member of the State Bar committee which would have had to pass the new rules of evidence before they would enter into debate in the State Senate, thereby implying that Barnes must have supported (or at least been noncommittal about) the proposal. However, the AJC article says that they attempted to determine the truth of this matter, but that a) the bar doesn’t keep records of votes (and since when do lawyers choose not to generate extra paperwork?), b) Barnes does not recall attending any of the committee meetings, and c) even Nathan Deal’s campaign (and Nathan Deal was also on that same committee with Barnes) could not prove that Barnes voted on the measure.
  • When Nathan Deal brought this bill forward, he was warned ahead of time by prosecutors and victims’ and women’s advocacy groups that they would not allow this bill to pass. He ignored the warning, went on his merry way, and wound up with egg on his face. The bill’s opponents were so dedicated to defeating this bill that Deal was left with no choice but to drop the changes to the rape shield law. Evidently, he underestimated the power of pissed off women. More importantly, this strikes me as a really stupid move — and given Deal’s history of stupid moves, it doesn’t exactly engender confidence in his leadership abilities.

So, did Nathan Deal fight to protect rapists? No, but then any sane person already knew that. But did he propose and defend a bill which would have weakened the rape shield law? Yup.

Then, when this bone-headed political move came back to bite him in the butt, he tried to use a rape victim as a tool to garner donations.

No Deal, Georgia.

Posted by: The Last Liberal Gwinnettian | October 22, 2010

Nathan Deal Uses Rape to Seek Donations

As I mentioned in an earlier post, even I found Roy Barnes’s ad regarding Nathan Deal’s 1991 bill which, according to many would have weakened Georgia’s rape shield laws, to be somewhat heavy handed and melodramatic — not that I disagree with the message. Nathan Deal and his campaign have accused Barnes of hitting a new low with the ad.

But, in yet another example of astounding hypocrisy, Nathan Deal has sunk far lower. In a recent Facebook update, Nathan Deal used rape as a tool to seek donations. SWGA has a great article on this. Read it in full here — it’s definitely worth a read.

Over the past couple of days, a rape victim whose rapist Nathan Deal did his job as a prosecutor 30 years ago and put in jail has come forward and defended him.

And how does Nathan Deal return the favor?

He tries to profit from her story…

The Facebook post in question, which is a link share for Nathan Deal’s website, contains the status update “Rape victim: Deal defended my honor” above a prominent red thumbnail with a singe image — the word “Donate.” As of the time of this post, 20 people have “liked” this post. Of the four comments, one is a comment supporting Deal, one is a comment discussing why women should not be questioned about their sexual past during a trial for rape, and 2 posts supporting the idea of questioning the victim. This quite literally makes me want to gag.

Classy, Deal. Really classy.

No Deal, Georgia.

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