Author: Edward Lindsey

Rest in Peace Mike Egan

Growing up in the leafy Brookwood Hills neighborhood in Atlanta, all of us knew Mike Egan. He was our state representative and one of the few Republicans in the Georgia State House in the 1960’s. Everyone respected his integrity. He was one of the few legislators of either party to vote against the move to oust Julian Bond from the General Assembly over his anti-Vietnam War views and consistently called for more open and transparent government.

Although a strong pioneering Republican leader, Mike was appointed in 1977 by President Carter to be associate attorney general under Griffin Bell. He returned to the General Assembly in 1989 as a state senator serving until his retirement in 2000. He was rightly regarded during his tenure as the “Conscious of the Senate.”

Given his distinguished career, I was understandably nervous when I called upon him in 2004 to ask for his endorsement when I first ran for the State House. It was a tough political grilling and his subsequent endorsement is easily the one I am most proud of having ever received. In the end, Mike simply asked that I take care of his community, his political party, and his state. He also told me that the key to political success was to keep my opponents temporary and friends permanent.   A lot of folks would do well to follow that advice today.

Mike took great pride in his family. He and his wife Donna raised six children – Moira, Michael III, Donna, Donald, William, and John, as well a lot of grandchildren.

Today, Mike’s family lost a beloved patriarch. My party lost a trail blazer. Our state lost a great leader. May the Peace of the Lord be with his family and all who mourn on this sad day.

As a Republican, an American, and as a Christian, Donald Trump Does Not Speak for Me

This week, Donald Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”  I will not presume how this kind of rhetoric sounds to others but it does not fit with how I have always viewed my political party, my vision for my country, or my religious beliefs.

The National Republican Party 2012 platform states:

The Republican Party includes Americans from every faith and tradition, and our policies and positions respect the right of every American to follow his or her beliefs and underscore our reverence for the religious freedom envisioned by the Founding Fathers of our nation and of our party.

The U.S. Constitution states:

Article IV, Paragraph 3

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

First Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The Bible states:

Leviticus 19:33-34

When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong.  You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

Mark 12:28-31

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all? Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

(emphasis to each added)

We live in dangerous times which require strong action by the United States to respond to the foreign and domestic threats to our country, but we should not abandon our political party’s principles, our nation’s laws, and our sacred beliefs in the process. Therefore, as a Republican, as an American, and as a Christian, Donald Trump does not speak for me.

 

Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s explanation of the release and retrieval of voter’s private personal information

The release of private information of Georgia voters maintained by the Secretary of State’s office and its steps to retrieve the released information has raised serious and reasonable questions, concerns and fears.   The following is the Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s statement and explanation regarding his office’s handling of the matter and how voters who have further questions may contact his office:

 

KEMP: ALL VOTER INFORMATION SECURED

Secretary of State Brian Kemp today announced his office has secured all 12 discs sent from his office that contained personally identifiable voter information.

“As of 11 a.m [November 19, 2015], all 12 discs containing sensitive voter information have been retrieved or destroyed,” Kemp said. “My staff has verified with the media outlets and political parties that received these discs that they have not copied or otherwise disseminated confidential voter data to outside sources. I am confident that our voters’ personal information has not been compromised.”

“I take full responsibility for this mistake and have taken immediate action to resolve it. The employee at fault has been fired, and I have put in place additional safeguards effective immediately to ensure this situation does not happen again.” 

“Moving forward, the secure site for voter data downloads will be locked to prevent changes by any employee other than the Chief Information Officer acting at my direction. Further, a three-part check will be required before a disc containing the statewide voter file can be released to the public. It is my top priority to protect the personal information of all Georgians.”

For additional information or assistance, voters can contact the Secretary of State Office’s dedicated hotline for this issue: 404-654-6045.

Read more

Once again, we are tragically reminded of what we are fighting against.

france in mourning
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

 

Paris.  London.  Madrid.  New York.  Boston.  Mumbai.  Benghazi.  Syria.  Iraq.  Afghanistan. Israel.  Pakistan.  Tunisia. Nigeria. Egypt. Yemen. Istanbul. Amman.  Nairobi. This list is incomplete today and will surely lengthen tomorrow.  Each such attack is but another battlefield in an asymmetrical worldwide conflict — a Third World War as described today by Pope Francis.

The aggressors are not any certain country although certain countries are fueling their fight.   They claim to fight for Islam but their victims are mostly Muslims. Their targets are not simply one country or another but civilization itself.  This is not a war of choice for us but a struggle of necessity.   Their goal is total victory.  We must continue the fight for their total defeat.

Let Freedom Ring

Stone Mountain Park

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “I Have A Dream,” August 28, 1963 (emphasis added)

Count me as a supporter of the recommendation to put a monument on top of Stone Mountain recognizing the struggle for civil rights and Martin Luther King’s galvanizing “I Have a Dream” speech.

Like many Georgians, I have family roots in the Confederacy.  My mother’s grandfather as a young teenager ran off from the family farm in Wilcox County to join up with General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. As a young scout he was captured and spent the end of the war in a horrible Union prison camp in Point Lookout, Maryland. My father’s great grandfather fared better as a Confederate Colonel in the Calvary in northern Florida but saw action in the Battle of Olustee and the Battle of Natural Bridge.

They fought bravely and sacrificed greatly and it would be wrong to have this heritage erased but there is more to the South and my native Georgia than the 19th century Lost Cause. There are the Southerners of different races and different political parties who stood up in the 20th century in the South to end segregation — Democrats like Ivan Allen who was the only southern mayor to testify in favor of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Charles Weltner who gave up his seat in Congress rather than support a segregationist in his party for Governor, Georgia Republicans like Mike Egan and Kil Townsend who voted to seat Julian Bond in the General Assembly when members of his own party tried to oust him, and people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Sr., John Lewis, Coretta Scott King, Ralph David Abernathy, Andrew Young, and others who made Atlanta the center of the civil rights struggle.

Stone Mountain was never intended to be solely a Confederate Memorial. It is also designated as a public recreational park with  hiking trails, water activities, rope courses, golf courses, and train rides. The idea that it does not have room to also recognize and honor Georgia’s great leap forward on civil rights is patently absurd.

Dr. King chose to call out Stone Mountain specifically in his speech because the mountain top has its own dark history in the struggle for civil rights in our country. It was on this mountain top in 1915 that a fiery cross was burned to mark the revival of the Ku Klux Klan. It is, therefore, all the more appropriate that we erect this proposed monument honoring our march toward a more just society “where one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down at the table of brotherhood.”

I pray my proud ancestors will understand but am confident my children will.  Let Freedom Ring.

Georgia’s Congressional Delegation 3rd Quarter FEC Filings – – Part 2: Being a Cheerful Giver — Contributing & Donating Campaign Money

In addition to the use of campaign funds for pollsters, consultants, campaign staff, t-shirts, buttons, and the like for their own campaigns, Congressmen and Senators are often expected to contribute or donate to their respective party House or Senate campaign committees, other national political organizations, state and local political organizations, other political candidates, and charitable organizations.

Whether and how much these office holders contribute or donate out of their campaign accounts can tell a great deal about the officeholder’s focus. Below is a itemization of our Georgia delegation’s giving broken down in the following categories: Respective Party House of Senate Campaign Committee Contributions; Other National Political Organization Contributions; State and Local Political Party Organization Contributions; Direct Candidate Contributions; and Charitable Donations.

See Breakdown below. Read more

Georgia’s Congressional Delegation 3rd Quarter FEC Filings – – Part 1: Raising, Spending, and Holding on to Campaign Money

The third quarter FEC filings are all filed and you can find a summary of the information on the presidential candidates here.

In Georgia, we are 6 months from candidate qualifying and a little over 8 months from our state’s party primaries. Below is a listing of how our Georgia Congressmen and Senators are doing as we approach the 2016 election year ranked from the highest to the lowest Cash On Hand (“COH”) as of September 30, 2015. Also included are their Receipts and Disbursements and the percentage of federal PAC money each of them received this year out of their total year to date contributions.

See breakdown below.  Read more

Wanted from Washington: Less Profile and More Courage

The Washington soap opera continues — intra party political brawling, back and forth taunts up and down Pennsylvania Avenue, and screams for ideological purity from special interest groups are the order of the day. Tragedies, crises, and dangers — abroad and at home — are not problems to be solved but weapons to be used to bludgeon political opponents. Caught in the middle are the American people who are viewed by too many inside the Washington Beltway not as citizens to be served but as mere pawns to be manipulated in attempts to hold or gain influence and power.

In response, is it any wonder that in this political season many Americans are being drawn to questionable prophets on the left and right, who in the past would have been laughed off the presidential stage if they had had the audacity to claim the mantle of national political leadership?

A look back to how we got here may be instructive. The respected Pew Research Center has tracked public trust and confidence in our federal government since 1958. Public trust in Washington peaked in 1964 at 77%. Even through the tumultuous 1960’s and early 70’s with the upheavals caused by the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights struggle public confidence stayed above 50%.  It was not until the combined impact of the Watergate era, the economic turmoil of the mid and late 1970’s, and the taking of American hostages in Iran that a sharp sustained slide in public trust occurred, bottoming out at 25% in the spring of 1980.

Interestingly but not surprisingly, public trust rose during two periods of divided government — in the 1980’s under President Reagan and a Democratic controlled House, and in the second half of the 1990’s with President Clinton and a Republican Congress.  Both periods saw more than just steady economic growth. During the Reagan years the two political parties managed to come together to fix social security, strengthen our nation’s defenses, and helped put the final nail in the coffin of the Soviet Union. During the last six years of the Clinton Administration, bi-partisan efforts resulted in a balanced budget and welfare reform.

After a brief spike following 9/11, public trust, however, has steadily declined settling into an abysmal level between the low 20’s and high teens over the past four years – and there is little wonder why.

Read more

Religious Freedom & Civil Rights — The Devil is in the Details

Now that Labor Day Weekend and its cookouts, family time, and football are behind us, let’s have a relaxing conversation about politics and religion.

The national and local debate continues over religious liberty and civil rights in a pluralistic society. For many months, the focus has centered on whether business owners such as bakeries, florists, and photographers should be required to provide goods or services for same sex marriage ceremonies if it conflicts with their religious beliefs. Now, we have a Kentucky Court Clerk being locked up for contempt of court for refusing to issue a marriage license to a same sex couple. In Tennessee, a trial judge refused to grant a divorce to a straight couple because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Same Sex Marriage. (Yeah, you read it right. Go figure.) In Alabama, a state Supreme Court justice has bluntly declared that the U.S. Supreme Court has made it easier for Christians to be persecuted.

Meanwhile in Georgia, there is an objection to a Villa Rica football coach being baptized with some of his players before practice, and in Laurens County, a high school marching band is in hot water for playing Amazing Grace.   Over at UGA, there is an objection to the Bulldogs football team having an unpaid chaplain. (Personally, I will take all the help we can get to get past South Carolina, Auburn, and Alabama.)

On our state legislative front, a Georgia State Senator is accusing “far left, liberal” business leaders in our state of blocking a Georgia version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”) from passage. (After watching the video of his speech I half expected to learn that Georgia CEOs were all joining Bernie Sanders finance committee.) A prominent Atlanta radio commentator in colorful language earlier this year accused Georgia’s  legislative leadership of kowtowing to the Georgia Chamber of Commerce on the same issue. (Check it out. The analogy includes a monkey and a banana colored G-string.) Meanwhile, opponents of a Georgia RFRA bill claim that it is nothing more than a thinly veiled attack on the LGBT community while a conservative Atlanta newspaper columnist spent his column this past weekend informing readers that a Georgia RFRA really won’t do what many proponents want or opponents fear. Read more

The Brookhaven Innovation Academy Receives its State Charter

Brookhaven Innovation Academy logo

The Georgia State Charter School Commission today unanimously approved the state charter application of the Brookhaven Innovation Academy (“BIA”) charter school. This initially K-6 state charter school will open its doors to an expected 420 students in the metro Atlanta region in the 2016-17 school year and grow by one grade per year over the next two years until it reaches full enrollment of 540 students in grades K-8. As a member of the BIA Board I wanted to share our good news and provide some details about our new school.

Student enrollment will be based on a lottery system and Bates Mattison, our BIA Board Chair, explained the expected student body makeup of the school and our community outreach efforts: “Because we will have a state-wide attendance zone, we expect our student body will mirror the demographics of existing public schools in Brookhaven, Atlanta, Sandy Springs, Doraville, Chamblee, and DeKalb County. For instance, the traditional public schools in our area serve a significant number of Hispanic students. Through our collaboration with the Latin American Association and other direct service organizations, we will have a strong outreach program to Hispanic families, as well as all other populations in our area. All interested families will be encouraged to take a close look at what we can do for their students.”

The BIA program will be facilitated by teachers with the flexibility to both individualize and personalize a student’s learning and has these design principles at the core of the program:

Read more

Taming the Tax Hog: Cap Property Tax Reassessments

property-assessment-picture-ConvertImage

They’re Back! Like a horror film sequel, Georgia property owners this year are seeing a return of spiraling property tax reassessments leading to staggering back door tax increases by local governments. It is time to put an end to this practice once and for all by limiting annual increases to no more than 3% or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.

We attempted to pass this reasonable limitation in the General Assembly in 2009 but fell short of the required 2/3 majority needed for a constitutional amendment to put it into place permanently. The legislature then enacted a temporary freeze to protect property owners in the depths of the recession but that temporary protection has now expired.

Often, proponents of the use of property taxes to fund local governments describe this form of taxation as a “good tax” because it is a “predictable” source of revenue for government. If true, this predictability should be a two way street. This proposed constitutional amendment will allow Georgia property owners to plan and budget their future tax obligations without the threat of rapidly increasing reassessments literally taxing their property out from underneath them. Read more

Thoughts on Heritage and Flags this 4th of July Weekend

This 4th of July finds our nation awash in debates over flags and heritage. Like many of us in this region, my roots run deep in the south on both sides of my family. My mother’s grandfather ran off in his early teens from his middle Georgia family farm to join the Army of Northern Virginia. He became a scout, was captured, and spent the end of the war in a horrible Union prison camp in Point Lookout, Maryland. My father’s great grandfather fared better as a Confederate Colonel in the Calvary in northern Florida but saw action in the Battle of Olustee and in subsequent actions near Jacksonville. In March 1865, he and his men played a prominent role in the Battle of Natural Bridge.

independence day flagThere has been a lot of talk as to what led political leaders into succession and rebellion. As for my family members, the only written accounts that we have for their reasons for fighting focused on their homes and loved ones. After the war, neither man wallowed in the past but returned home and worked to rebuild their families and communities. J.J. Dennard returned to Wilcox County and his farm, had 16 children (my maternal grandfather being one of his youngest), and served in the Georgia General Assembly. Colonel George Washington Scott settled down first in Savannah and then Atlanta, became a successful businessman, and provided the money for a women’s college in Decatur which was named for his mother, Agnes Scott.

I am proud of the legacy and heritage that these men left my family and respect the tragedy and horrors they faced in war. I do not want our nation to ever forget the lessons and scars that the Civil War — or any war — left us. But the Battle Flag for the Army of Northern Virginia is not my flag. My flag is the one that still earlier relatives fought under to create this nation. My flag is the one that later family members and close friends fought under in Europe, the Pacific, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. My flag is the one that stands as a beacon for hope, liberty, and freedom in a troubled world.

This 4th of July and every other day of the year, the only flag I want to honor is the one young American men and women around the world wear on their uniforms today and keep silent vigil to protect us all.  My heritage and my flag has stars and stripes.

I hope everyone has a great 4th of July.

Losing Sucks

It is important on this political blog to take a moment and speak to those candidates – Republican and Democrat – who came up short in the special elections this past Tuesday. That gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach today is valid — Losing Sucks. I could try and be more eloquent but sometimes being blunt fits best.

For those of you who have never been a candidate, it takes guts to put your name on a ballot.  In doing so you expose yourself to a Greek Chorus of naysayers – some for profit and others for sport — who will ridicule your every campaign move and cynically question the motives behind even your most sincerely held beliefs.

Despite this, I think I can speak for most of us here on Peach Pundit and encourage those of you who came up short this time to keep trying.  Even the most successful citizens who enter the political arena usually face the sting of defeat from time to time – Adams, Jefferson, Lincoln, both Roosevelts, Reagan, Clinton, Bush I and II, and Obama to name a few.

While politics has its share of narcissists and charlatans, it is important to remember that public service is a high calling and most who step forward do so because they are not satisfied with merely cursing society’s problems in the darkness but, instead, want to shine a light on solutions.

As for eloquent, I leave you with these famous words:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

–Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt (Defeated candidate for Mayor of New York (1886) and President (1912))

A Memorial Day Remembrance

His name was Carl Harris Turner and he was my grandmother’s youngest brother. Uncle Carl was born in 1912 in Fort Valley, Georgia, and was fascinated with planes his entire life. When World War II broke out he joined the Army Air Corp and after training was shipped out to the European Theatre.arlington cemetary

On August 22, 1944, Uncle Carl was a sergeant and flight engineer on a B-24 Liberator and was nearing his 50th combat mission when his plane took off for a bombing run over Blechhammer, Germany. According to reports from other plane crews that day, after completing their bombing run, Uncle Carl’s plane and crew came under intense anti-aircraft fire and one burst struck the plane’s left wing disabling an engine. Several crew members managed to parachute out of the plane but Uncle Carl was not one of them. Uncle Carl was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Air Medal with Three Oak Leaf Clusters.  

Others have simply but eloquently stated that we did not go into battle in World War II to conquer but to liberate, and the only pieces of land we asked for in the end was enough to bury our dead heroes. Uncle Carl is buried in Belgium, a long way from his middle Georgia home. He died without a wife or children and has no legacy – except for the freedom that you and I enjoy because of his ultimate sacrifice.

uncle carlI remember my grandmother’s eyes welling up with tears when she spoke of her beloved baby brother. Today, my mother is probably the last living person on this Earth who has a personal remembrance of Uncle Carl when he was alive, and the deep loss her family felt by his death. By reading this, however, you now join the human chain that extends this memory and the knowledge of his life.

I hope you and your family have a thoughtful Memorial Day weekend and while we remember all of the “Uncle Carls” who have gone before, let us also keep in our hearts all of our family members and fellow Americans around the world who still today stand ready to defend our freedom.

 

Congratulations Jon Richards!

Peach Pundit’s very own Jon Richards was recognized by the GOP State Convention on Saturday as the Georgia Republican Party’s Volunteer of the Year.

Members of any 0rganization can usually jon richards volunteer awardbe split into three categories:  Coffee Sippers who stand around and talk big but do little else; Whiners who complain about how the organization is run but do even less; and Workers who make up 10% of the group but do 90% of the heavy lifting.  Everyone who knows Jon knows what category he is in.  He is the first to arrive and the last to leave and is always there to do a little more if needed.

Well done and well deserved, Jon.  You are a class act and our party is lucky to have you!

Please join in on congrats to Jon.