Dear Georgia Chamber:
It might be worth a phone call to Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle this morning, to see if he’s absorbed your objections to S.B. 129, the religious liberty bill that state Sen. Josh McKoon intends to take up again when lawmakers convene in January. Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blog
Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blog
You see, Cagle has apparently begun organizing his 2018 campaign for governor. Around saving religion and college football. At the same time.
Here’s the headline of the fundraising letter that’s hitting mail boxes in his name: “Don’t Let Atheists Ban Georgia’s Football Chaplains.” The text includes these paragraphs (emphasis in the original):
An out-of-state group, “The Freedom from Religion Foundation,” has sent threatening letters to several Georgia universities demanding the schools dismiss their football team chaplains.
This is the same group who proudly offers DeBaptismal Certificates as a way to persuade folks into denouncing their faith!
They will never be happy until they’ve conformed our state to their out-of-touch ideology.
This is why I’ve announced my campaign to stand up for our conservative values and take “Freedom from Religion Foundation” head on, but I need your help…
The Obama administration and liberals across the nation are gaining major victories that threaten every aspect of our principles. Abortions. Same-sex marriage. Prayer in schools. You name it.
But not in Georgia.
We are lucky to have been blessed with conservative leadership that has taken the stand against the Obama Administration and his liberal cronies who try to obstruct our way of life.
There is some slight justification for Cagle’s new campaign. From an August report by the AJC:
The Freedom from Religion Foundation called for the ouster of football chaplains at about 20 public schools, including the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech. A cherished part of Southern football culture, the chaplains are seen as spiritual mentors, popular with many school officials, boosters and players.
But the foundation asserted they allow “football coaches to impose their personal religion on players.”
UGA, which defends its practice as legal, was targeted as a major offender by the foundation, which also accused football coach Mark Richt of using his “public office” to raise money for the group that provides team chaplain Kevin “Chappy” Hynes.
But the truth is, Georgia’s universities have ignored the demand. (Although, given that the lieutenant governor has shown them how to monetize the issue, certain athletic foundations may rethink that strategy.)
This isn't an isolated direct mail solicitation on Cagle's part. There's a website, too.
What many Republicans are really wondering is whether Cagle intends his save-the-chaplains campaign as a kind of inoculation against angry religious conservatives who might see S.B. 129 languish again next year. Or is it a signal that the lieutenant governor is about to take their side?
See the flyer here:
The Macon Telegraph explains why Donald Trump's visit on Monday is a bit curious. From the story:
For those who follow politics, Macon would seem to be a contrary destination for a Republican presidential hopeful.
Nearly 60 percent of Bibb County's registered voters cast ballots for Barack Obama in the 2012 election. Mitt Romney drew just under 40 percent. Statewide, voters gave Romney more than 53 percent of the vote, to about 45 percent for Obama.
In Houston County, meanwhile, Romney drew nearly 60 percent of the ballots, and GOP tallies were even better in Monroe County, with about 68 percent for Romney, and in Jones County, where about 64 percent of men and women voted for Romney.
The Telegraph also records U.S. Sen. David Perdue's pledge on a visit to Robins Air Force Base that air power will not be the only way to stop the Islamic State. Perdue is eyeing a ground war:
He said defeating ISIS will probably take "boots on the ground," and he said that should be a coalition of forces led by the U.S. He called on European nations to spend more on defense.
In a typically mundane, periodic list released by U.S. Rep. John Lewis' office of federal government grants going to Atlanta, one popped out this week: $225,000 to Welcoming America, Inc., a Decatur nonprofit that helps welcome refugees across the country.
Lewis was one of only two Georgians to vote against a bill to stop the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees until the government puts background checks in place and certifies they are not a threat.
The New York Times has a great yarn on Donald Trump's golf course in Northern Virginia, at which Trump placed a marker designating a crossing of the Potomac River as "The River of Blood" for the Civil War soldiers who died there. You might imagine where this is going:
But no one died in that crossing, historians said, or in any other notable Civil War engagement on the spot.
“How would they know that?” Mr. Trump asked when told that local historians had called his plaque a fiction. “Were they there?”
Mr. Trump repeatedly said that “numerous historians” had told him that the golf club site was known as the River of Blood. But he said he did not remember their names.
And then there's this Georgia-tied kicker quote:
One member, a former history professor and a co-author of four Civil War novels, called the monument merely “strange.”
Much more important, he said, were the much-needed renovations Mr. Trump made to the golf courses.
“I am not going to lead a demonstration over this,” said the member, Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker. “It’s a country club with a golf course, for Pete’s sake.”