By Charlie

Trump’s Constitution: 100% Inalienable, 60% Of The Time?

Donald Trump is the only candidate that tells the truth. Straight talk. None of that spin from consultants. His followers will tell you this with a straight face. Many of them inexplicably believe it, despite all available evidence to the contrary.  Evidence?  Let’s use Trump’s call for an unconstitutional religious test yesterday as an easy example.  And let’s use Trump’s Georgia Co-Chair’s statement distributed by his (and The Donald’s former Georgia) consultant to demonstrate use of consultants, spin, and something quite less than straight talk.  Ready? Let’s go!

From Senator Michael Williams press release:

“December 8, 2015 – “Donald Trump’s call for a temporary moratorium of Muslim immigration into the U.S. has caused international stir within the media.”

A few problems here already.  “See guys! It’s no problem!  It’s just temporary!” So that freedom of speech you like?  What if the government just took that away from you until all “the problems” are cleared up?  Like, I don’t know, maybe just shutting down the internet?  Maybe we’ll just confiscate your guns until the threat is over. Don’t worry. It’s just temporary.

When anyone from the government says something is temporary, just remind them of the temporary telephone tax of 1812.  It only ran for 108 years.  So when Trump and those that support him try to walk this back, think of whatever constitutional rights you hold most dear.  Understand that Trump and his supporters will tell you it’s OK for them to take them away from you in the short run.  Then remember that in the long run we are all dead.

“Many of the reports paint a false narrative and ignore the problem this proposal attempts to remedy.”

The “false narrative” is a constant claim of the Trump Klan clan.  Trump and others (as you’ll see throughout this release) are now claiming that this proposal only applies to foreign nationals, and that media types are overreaching to portray Trump as supporting something he isn’t.  So how did the lib’rul media and GOP establishment types come up with the idea that Trump meant “all” Muslims, including American citizens?  Well, both from Trump’s original statement, AND a follow up to his official spokesperson seeking clarification on this very point:

Trump, in a formal statement from his campaign, urged a “total and complete shutdown” of all federal processes allowing followers of Islam into the country until elected leaders can “figure out what is going on.”

Asked by The Hill whether that would include American Muslims currently abroad, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks replied over email: “Mr. Trump says, ‘everyone.’ ”

Let’s repeat this point again as it’s essential to Trump and his supporters’ claims of victimhood.  Trump sent this out as a written statement.  This isn’t something he said off the cuff.  It’s not something that was misinterpreted.  It was a pre-planned, written statement, that was then officially clarified by his campaign to specifically include American citizens. Read more

Religious Freedom For Me, Not For Thee

Today, Donald Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States.  Let’s briefly set aside that this would appear to violate both Article VI of the Constitution and the First Amendment.  It’s a clear religious test.  It would allow the federal government to discriminate against someone solely on the grounds of their religion. This is beyond unacceptable, and a precedent we should never allow to be set.

Tonight is the second night of Hanukkah.  Yet if you’re like me, you can still look through your timeline (or perhaps on the front lawn of the Harris County Jail) and find folks that believe the best way to spread the love of Jesus Christ is to recoil at and belittle anyone that has the temerity to wish you “happy holidays”.

There are religions in this country other than mine. Some people don’t even have one. This is not only expressly allowed, but protected under our constitution. The constitution exists not only to facilitate the will of the majority, but to secure the rights of the minority in that process.  It is a balance.  As far as religion goes, this balance must extend to us all.  Even with the religions which we disagree.

I would like to reject Donald Trump as a clown, but his utter disregard for religious protections combined with his rhetoric makes him a very dangerous clown. I continue to trust both Republicans and especially American voters will put an end to this show at the appropriate time.  The sooner, the better.

But we should not allow this moment to pass without committing once and for all that religious freedom is something that is for all of us, or it ultimately will be for none of us.  For that, I’m going to repost below something I wrote just over six years ago.  The circumstances are a bit different and at times I’ve even wondered if I was headed in the right direction here.  But when faced with the ugliness that Donald Trump wishes to appeal to within ourselves and our fellow countrymen, I’m more convinced today that it represents how I feel, and what we must protect for the America that I love to be worth anything.

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays to you and yours.

__________________________________ Read more

Lynn Westmoreland Running For Re-election

While this may not sound like breaking news, many “well informed” sources of rumors have said otherwise.  Consider it some wanting Westmoreland to show his had for his ’18 plans, or others who are seeking “their turn”, there are some that have an interest in an open seat for Georgia’s 3rd district.  For any that are considering that as their next career move, they’re going to have to go through Lynn.

His statement is as follows:

“It has been an honor serving the Third District and I am forever grateful for the opportunity,” stated Westmoreland. “Joan and I are blessed to have had your support over the years, and we have made friends throughout the community that will last a lifetime. With that said, I would like to announce that I will be running for reelection in 2016 to continue being your conservative voice in Washington, D.C.

“Our nation is combating growing threats across the globe. Our national security is at the forefront of many American’s minds. We must do whatever it takes to protect our homeland and those who bravely defend it abroad.

“Serving as Chairman of the Subcommittee on NSA and Cybersecurity in the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has given me a unique insight into what we are truly facing. I am proud of all we have accomplished in the intelligence community so far, but there is still work to be done. I would like to continue the momentum we have begun and make our nation a safer place for my grandchildren.

“The President’s liberal policies are not working. Healthcare premiums are rising because of ObamaCare, our foreign policy is a total failure, and we are giving in to the demands of countries like Iran.

“But a new chapter has begun in the House of Representatives. We are making meaningful reforms, and Speaker Ryan has allowed more amendments in the last few months than we have had in years. Your conservative voice is being heard. I will keep fighting to protect family values, keep our homeland safe and our military prepared. Together, we can put America back on a path to prosperity and create an opportunity economy for all.”

In addition to his Subcommittee Chairmanship on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Representative Westmoreland serves on the House Select Committee on Benghazi and the House Financial Services Committee.

Credit Developing Workforce For New Jobs

This week’s Courier Herald column:

Georgia has long been a rapidly growing state. We’ve been a “low cost” alternative for incoming businesses and citizens alike. Atlanta has grown based on our logistics industry with a world-class airport as its crown jewel. The “Capital of the South” made Atlanta the region’s banking center. Various regional headquarters and early fiber optic networks made us a telecom center. And the growth from all of this activity turned growth itself into a major industry.

Then, the financial collapse happened. While many of the big banks had already moved their headquarters, Georgia lost one quarter of our banks. Fuel prices crippled the airlines and many other shipping concerns. The growth stopped, and with it our real estate and construction-based industries were sent reeling. And for the first time in decades, Georgia saw real structural unemployment that lingered above the national average.

Governor Deal began his first term just as Georgia was discovering the magnitude of the financial collapse. During his tenure we’ve seen a Georgia emerge that is a bit different than the one we were going into the crash. We haven’t tried to get things back the way they were, as we can’t go back to the year 2000 if we wanted. We instead have reimagined Georgia’s workforce for the jobs we have, and those we want.

I had the privilege of hosting Governor Deal for a breakfast briefing last week while wearing my other hat as Executive Director of PolicyBEST. During the Governor’s remarks he addressed his approach on job creation. He began by starting out what jobs Georgia had but couldn’t fill. Even at the height of the recession with unemployment rates in some areas hitting 12%, some jobs went unfilled due to a lack of skilled workers. Read more

Happy Hanukkah

With sundown this evening begins the celebration of Hanukkah.  A word from on the background:

More than twenty-one centuries ago, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who sought to forcefully Hellenizethe people of Israel. Against all odds, a small band of faithful Jews defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to theservice of G-d.

When they sought to light the Temple‘s menorah (the seven branched candelabrum), they found only a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks; miraculously, the one-day supply burned for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity.

To commemorate and publicize these miracles, the sages instituted the festival of Chanukah. At the heart of the festival is the nightly menorah (candelabrum) lighting: a single flame on the first night, two on the second evening, and so on till the eighth night of Chanukah, when all eight lights are kindled.

On Chanukah we also add the Hallel and Al HaNissim in our daily prayers to offer praise and thanksgiving to G-d for “delivering the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few… the wicked into the hands of the righteous.”

May you and yours spend some time this week in the spirit of the holiday.

Happy Birthday Ed Lindsey

It’s Ed Lindsey’s birthday.  Somehow I let that slip up on me.

You may know Ed as one of our contributors. Many know him as a distinguished former Representative and Majority Leader of the State House. Others know him as a recent candidate for Congress.  These are in addition to his more permanent titles of attorney, husband, and father.

Ed has given up his elected titles (at least for now). But he hasn’t given up.  When I noticed him continuing to write Op-Eds post-campaign on the major issues of the day, I asked (and was quite happy that he accepted) if he would join us here at Peach Pundit.  The overlap of issues that we were both working on has led him to also be one of my bosses in my day job, as he’s now also a board member at PolicyBEST.

No matter which hat Ed wears, he’s been willing to tackle tough subjects and bring a level of seriousness and wisdom that sorely needed in the areas we consider around these pages. I remain honored that he chooses to share his thoughts with us, and I enjoy his public and private counsel.

Wish him well as he celebrates another year in the books.  I look forward to working together with him on many more.

Happy Birthday Ed.

Lt. Governor Cagle Announces New Chief Of Staff

From a press release:

Longtime congressional staffer George (“Bo”) W. Butler, Jr. has been selected to serve as Lt. Governor Casey Cagle’s new Chief of Staff. Butler replaces Ben Fry, who departed the team in late November to assume a new position within the private sector. In this role, Butler will oversee office operations, as well as serve as the Lt. Governor’s top advisor and spokesperson.

“I am proud and excited to welcome Bo as our new Chief of Staff. He has a strong knowledge of Georgia’s most important policy issues, as well as a wealth of experience in strategic communications and community outreach. He will be a great addition to the team as we continue our work to maintain Georgia’s status as a top state for business development, job creation and educational opportunity,” said Lt. Governor Cagle.

Butler most recently served as Legislative Director to U.S. Rep. Tom Graves in Washington, D.C. In this role, Butler managed the day-to-day legislative operations of the office and counseled Rep. Graves on key constituent issues in the state. Prior to his work with Rep. Graves, Butler worked in the Washington D.C. office of U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss as a legislative advisor and analyst. He is a native of Barnesville, Georgia and graduated from the University of Mississippi, where he earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Managerial Finance.

Butler will begin his new role on January 4, 2016.

WGST Peach Pundit Radio – 12-4-15

Wait, What?  That date says it’s December already.

After taking last week off, I’m even more tired than usual.  That means it’s been a busy week.  Too busy to put something together for radio that might sound pre-planned or that we made an attempt for coherency.

Thus, today we’ll feature the words and wisdom of Mike Hassinger, Stefan Turkheimer, and Jon Richards Apparently and Jon got a better offer.

Topics?  I’m wearing a UGA polo.  The other three can hopefully continue to talk me through my self-help attempts at therapy.  Gonna miss Mark, gonna still be a Bulldog.  Did you know I was “this close” to being a Hurricane though…?

Other business:  The Dems lost a “safe seat” in DeKalb County on Tuesday.  I once lost a safe GOP seat as campaign manager in Clayton County.  Is this the start of a GOP future there?  We’ll ask Stefan.

Brian Kemp is still in the news.  Seems there’s always one more string to pull on the SOS sweater of data privacy.

I hosted a policy breakfast briefing for my day job at PolicyBEST on Wednesday. The Governor and the Speaker made a little news. We’ll let Mike and Jon assess.

Marco Rubio was in town this week.  Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson are here soon.  I guess we can always talk about those that would be President and re-handicap the race as we head into the Christmas season.

Don’t like that, call in between noon and 1pm.  If you have a screen name we recognize we may put you on air. 404-367-9478.

That’s WGST, 640AM, noon to 1PM today.  Or, listen live via the magic of the internets right here.

No, Mark Richt Is Not Running For Governor Of Georgia

Mark Richt is the hot news story of the week.  And in politics, like in coaching positions, rumors – no matter how ridiculous or baseless – can be “fact” to fill a vacuum until real facts can later replace them.

Then, occasionally, we have the glorious times when sports rumors meet political rumors.  If ever there was a time for everyone to be an expert, (or at least, interested and vaguely understand the topic at hand) it is when these subjects are allowed to publicly merge.  This evening, they have merged with a report that Mark Richt may run for Governor of Georgia in 2018!  THAT’S ONLY 2 YEARS AND 11 MONTHS AWAY!

People that make money off of these things understand this.  And in politics, perception is reality.  And you only need the perception of reality to make money as a political consultant. Wait? What was that?  This may be a consultant’s craven attempt at a (very large) paycheck, and not an earnest desire of Richt to move from gridiron to Gold Dome?  Let’s unwrap that. Read more

Sandy Springs May Be The Next Ogdenville?

Sandy Springs isn’t content to be the home of Georgia’s busiest intersection nor several stops on Marta’s Red Line.  Growing Congestion has some in the city thinking about adding a few miles of monorail to tie it all together.  Doug Richards of 11Alive reports:

There is little question that Sandy Springs has transportation challenges. MARTA has a rail stop here but its roads are getting more clogged – it seems – by the day. “There seems to be thousands of more people on the road and I don’t know where they come from,” said Susan Hoffman, a Sandy Springs resident who has lived here since the 1960s.

Hoffman says she would like to see a larger public transit presence in Sandy Springs. The city has taken that idea and refined it.

“What was suggested was four or five miles of monorail,” said Assistant City Manager Jim Tolbert, who says it originated as a remark made during a planning commission meeting. Tolbert says it’s only an idea at this point — one that could connect some of Sandy Springs transportation flashpoints in a modest monorail system.

We took a look at a monorail proposal that was more extensive as a ring around the city similar to I-285.  Commenters noted that the relative slow speed of a monorail (about 30mph top speed) wouldn’t make it a practical application for long distance transit.  But for a 3-5 mile circulator between transit stations and major retail/employment centers?  Maybe.

Maybe we should start calling it Sandy Springfield.

Lewis Grizzard Is Dead And I Don’t Feel So Good Myself

This week’s Courier Herald column:

At the beginning of the 1993 football season, Lewis Grizzard penned a column headlined “Us versus Them, gridiron style”. In it he used a tale of his and a friends attendance at the 1981 Sugar Bowl to explain the importance of college football to southern fans.

His friend’s wife, concerned how worked up he was getting, tried to tell him it was just a football game. The friend quickly exclaimed, “It’s not just a football game. It’s our way of life against theirs.” Grizzard – the patron saint of Georgia football and barbecue – included that he once checked out of a London hospital with a heart infection and flew home for Georgia’s 1985 season opener with Alabama because he “wasn’t about to stay in no foreign country during college football season.”

In looking at the upcoming season, he wrote “Us could win them all in ’93, by the way, or Us could lose a few. But, right or wrong, win or lose, always Us.” That would end up being Grizzard’s last season of UGA football. And to paraphrase him, Lewis Grizzard is dead and I don’t feel so good myself. Read more

Clean Old Fashioned Hate

Today isn’t about politics.

It’s about visceral, to the bone, hatred.

Those of you that have been around Peach Pundit for more than a few years will understand the following:


Go Dawgs.

Open Thread For any and all of your college football comments.

Happy Birthday Jon Richards

Today’s Black Friday special is a happy birthday wish to Jon Richards.

Jon is our Front Page Editor, with loosely defined duties including keeping content on the site fresh, managing the interns when we have them, and somewhere in there we may have made him the unofficial photographer.  He’s the contributor you’ve most likely met, as he attends damn near every political function within a reasonable traveling distance from his home in Gwinnett.  Somewhere in there between events he finds time to not only write them up but to wonk out with an extended analysis.

Jon is one of the folks I’ve had the privilege to meet through Peach Pundit, and he’s become a trusted and reliable friend.  Y’all take a break from shopping or consuming mass quantities of leftovers and wish him a Happy Birthday.

Chatham County Sheriff Al St Lawrence Has Died

Chatham County Sheriff Al St Lawrence lost his battle with cancer Tuesday night, as reported by the Savannah Morning News:

St Lawrence was elected sheriff in 1992. He had said this would be his last term.

The sheriff’s office released a statement around 8:30 a.m. today expressing its “profound sadness that the family and this Office announce the passing of our beloved Sheriff, Al St Lawrence to cancer on November 24, 2015.”

St Lawrence, a five-year veteran of the United States Air Force, was stationed at Hunter Army Airfield and decided to make Savannah his home. He began a career in law enforcement in 1959 with the Chatham County Police Department. In 1971, he was appoint chief, a position he held for 21 years unit his retirement in April 1992 to pursue the office of sheriff, according to the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office.

During his career in law enforcement, St Lawrence was appointed twice to the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training Council (1985 and 1989). St Lawrence is the only law enforcement officer in the State of Georgia to be named both Georgia Chiefs of Police Association Outstanding Chief of the Year (1990) and twice named Georgia Sheriffs Association Sheriff of the Year (1995 and 2015).

Congressman Buddy Carter said the following this morning regarding St Lawrence:

“Al was a model public servant, having served the people of Chatham County with distinction for 56 years and serving his country in the Air Force before that. His 23 years as Sheriff transformed the Department into a modern crime fighting force. Through it all he maintained a servant’s heart, giving back to our community and to those across our state through the Georgia Sheriff’s Youth Homes which he supported vigorously. Amy and I send our thoughts and prayers to Pat and the entire St Lawrence family as well as the Chatham County Sheriff’s Department as we all mourn this loss.”

We extend condolences and prayers to the family and friends of Sheriff St Lawrence, as well as the law enforcement community of Chatham County.

More School Money Recommended

This week’s Courier Herald column:

Two weeks ago this column outlined the various steps to reforming Georgia’s education system that have occurred over the past decade. This includes the adoption of a tougher K-12 curriculum and statewide performance standards for students. We have expanded school choice via local charter schools, state charter schools, and limited vouchers from of Student Scholarship Organizations. Unprecedented flexibility has also been given to boards of education to maximize local control.

Along the way, virtually all money from the state’s tax coffers not used to cover population growth and inflation in existing programs has been allocated to K-12 education to replace the cuts made during the recent economic collapse. With the Governor’s appointed Education Reform Commission finishing its work and making recommendations, the state is preparing to add additional money into the public school system.

The recommendations on funding will replace the state’s “Quality Basic Education” formula with a system that is based on student needs, not on programs offered by each local system. QBE was implemented in 1986 but was never fully funded. It certainly doesn’t take into account changes in Georgia’s population nor technology that has changed over the last three decades. An update is overdue. Read more