Wednesday, June 20, 2007

On the Young Democrats' Own Benedict Arnold: Mike Jacobs

Fellow Young Democrats-

This morning, the Young Democrats of Georgia were betrayed by one of its own. State Representative Mike Jacobs of House District 80 announced on his blog ( that he is becoming a Republican. He now claims that his fiscal conservatism and desire to eliminate property taxes in their entirety make him a better fit as a "moderate Republican" in the mold of Jill Chambers, Fran Millar, and Ed Lindsey.

Indulge me while I examine the types of people Mike Jacobs has now embraced and remind everyone why this is a betrayal that the Young Democrats of Georgia will not take lightly and have every intention of seeking vengeance at the ballot box.

Jill Chambers - what a lovely woman. She may have been the sole Republican to vote against the gay marriage amendment, but her record is hardly moderate.
  1. She has engaged in dirty and deceitful campaign tactics every time she has run for elected office.
  2. Jill Chambers has taken thousands of dollars from Big Oil and Big Drug companies to spend on her negative campaigns. (see
  3. Jill Chambers has voted against the separation of church and state. This bill allows the Attorney General of the State of Georgia to defend counties who display the 10 commandments, meaning you, the taxpayer, are footing the legal fees. (
  4. Jill Chambers has voted with the majority to cut funding for state schools, a total loss of $89 million to Dekalb County Schools.
  5. Jill Chambers voted to increase your natural gas bills by allowing the gas companies to pass on infrastructure improvements to you, the consumer. (
  6. Jill Chambers voted to protect predatory lenders and payday loan-sharks that prey upon our military families and soldiers. (
  7. Jill Chambers voted against legislation that would have stopped the out-sourcing of our jobs to overseas corporations. (
  8. Jill Chambers voted with right-wing extremists in denying voters the right to chose their representatives (
  9. Jill Chambers voted with the GOP (AND Mike Jacobs) in cutting funds for Children's Healthcare. (

Ed Lindsey and Fran Millar are more of the same.

To say that Mike Jacobs’ actions are a disappointment is a gross understatement. He has proven himself to be a selfish opportunist concerned only with his personal power. He first came on the scene as a law student at UGA where he was a driving force behind the website Burns Watch. After he graduated, he moved to
DeKalbCounty with his wife, Evan. He immediately joined the DeKalb Democratic Party as a post seat holder. When the courts invalidated the 2002 redistricting maps, the seat that Mike lived in opened up.

With our encouragement, he decided to make a run at this seat, now House District 80. The seat had long been held by a Republican who had recently died, and Mike's opponent in the general election was the namesake son of that representative. Mike's campaign was COMPLETELY staffed and run by Young Democrats. All of us who worked on that campaign spent countless hours making phone calls, helping with town hall meetings, flyering the district, and going door to door. The district had a Democratic performance of 52%, which made it a swing district. We faced an uphill fight, and the state party gave us no chance of winning. We were truly on our own.

But we had a good candidate (or so we thought). Someone whose progressive ideas were genuine but who was charismatic enough to win crossover votes. He personally said to me that there were principles he could never compromise on, and gay rights was one of them. He said he would rather be defeated than to vote against the gay community. Somehow, I now wonder when it comes time to vote on things like gay adoption, Mike will heed the demands of his beloved Speaker Richardson and vote to legally destroy gay families all over this state. Mike Jacobs has no morals and no core values other than his personal aggrandizement and self-interest. I have no reason to believe that his support of the gay community will continue.

Mike won that election by a very close margin in 2004, just as we lost control of the House to complete the GOP takeover of
Georgia. It was that shift in power, and Mike's response to it that told of troubles ahead.

Mike has continually supported cuts to
Georgia's Peachcare for Kids program, which helps provide health insurance coverage to children of working families. His vote for HB 340 would have allowed thousands of children to be denied health insurance coverage arbitrarily by an unaccountable bureaucrat, and to have their dental and vision coverage removed altogether. Hopefully Mike's newborn child will never need the Peachcare that he wishes to gut.

Mike also supported this year's ghoulish and predatory payday lending legislation. He voted this year, by supporting HB 163, to allow payday lenders to charge up to 395 percent interest rates and to provide de facto amnesty for those loan sharks that broke the law for the better part of the last century by offering these loans despite the fact that they were clearly illegal under
Georgia law.

Mike has also supported several measures in the Judiciary Committee that would limit the applicability of the Open Records Act and make public documents more difficult to obtain. Even more disturbing was his support for requiring open records requests to be made in writing. He supported this despite uncontested testimony in committee that the bill would have allowed government to require a citizen to identify themselves and state the reason they wanted certain records in writing before having their request for public information processed. Public documents belong to the public, and should be made available without requiring a citizen to be subjected to aggravation or even political retribution for requesting them. Mike's hilarious statement of support "open government" while he seeks to undermine it through his work in the legislature, is one of the oldest and worst parlor tricks in politics. Such duplicity creates fertile ground for the cynicism that makes good public service more difficult.

Further eroding any credentials he claims as an advocate for open government and individual liberty has been his fawning and unabashed support for Glenn Richardson as Speaker.
Richardson has, each and every year that he has been Speaker, sought to limit public debate in the House by gutting the ability of legislators to offer amendments to bills both on the floor and in committee. Richardson has also sought to limit the Open Records Act to allow secret government negotiations affecting millions in taxpayer dollars with private business.

The Speaker has also used his power, won with the aid and support of legislators like Mike Jacobs, to pursue new limits on women's reproductive freedom each year and repeatedly stifled ethics legislation that would eliminate or at least reduce the lavishing of expensive gifts on legislators by registered lobbyists. All this in exchange for committee appointments that serve nothing but to protect his seat.

Mike's rapturous support for Mr. Richardson as Speaker has also enabled the blockage of any meaningful legislation dealing with transportation and traffic congestion. His constituents will have plenty of time to contemplate the many faces of Mike Jacobs as they continue to sit in ever worsening traffic without any meaningful plan for relief. Although it wouldn't surprise me if Mike isn't "rewarded" for his disloyalty to friends and ideals with a seat on the Transportation Committee.

Mike's blog post also suggests support for
Richardson’s tax plan, which depending on which version you support would increase current sales taxes by more than 25% and levy billions in new sales taxes on needed everyday goods and services such as groceries and doctors visits. His statement of a belief in fiscal restraint, when combined with his willingness to support a plan to tax everything that moves, raises additional questions about Mike's basic credibility and honesty as a human being.

It reminds me (and many others) of a time last summer in the days before the primary election when Mike sought to switch his support from Cathy Cox to Mark Taylor only because it was obvious that Mark was going to win. That incident was very telling, and espouses Mike Jacobs as a person whose ONLY core value is expediency and whose thoughts are only of the very next political calculation that may advance his self-interest.

Mike's ultimate reason for abandoning the Democratic Party and stabbing all of his friends in the back lies in self-interest and a selfish pettiness. It is no secret that Mike never got along with House Democratic leadership. Whatever personality conflicts may have been behind that (and, to be fair, not all Reps who voted for Richardson as Speaker qualified for the vilification Mike received), the point remains that Mike has betrayed every principle he allegedly held dear when he ran in 2004. Every principle except protecting his own personal "power" as a State Representative. He never attempted to reach out to friends or intermediaries to work out problems with caucus leadership. Mike petulantly declared he must do his "thing" for his district, and that was the end of the discussion. The fact remains that the GOP has NO credibility when it comes to fiscal responsibility. Mike's move today is of a man who cares only for himself and his personal aggrandizement. This is exactly the kind of person who destroys faith in government. It makes me sad to think how far he has fallen from the man we helped elect in 2004.

For all the Young Democrats who gave of their blood, sweat, and tears to elect Mike Jacobs, there is nothing that can return those hours to us for use in a REAL Democrat's campaign. If you gave Mike money, I urge you to ask it back. And understand that when a credible challenger is found to Mike Jacobs, the Young Democrats of Georgia will be there to work day and night to be certain that the lying snake is returned to his hole in North DeKalb. We will not forgive, and we will not forget. When Mike Jacobs' political come-uppance happens (and it will), the Young Democrats of Georgia will have its collective fingerprints all over it.

In Democratic Solidarity,

Jason Cecil, YDG President

P.S. I would be remiss if I did not thank Rep. Rob Teilhet (D-Smyrna and a Young Democrat for whom we can be VERY proud) for much of the language about Mike’s behavior in recent sessions.

Friday, June 08, 2007

A Good Example of Why I am an Episcopalian

That’s How the Light Gets In

A sermon preached by The Right Reverend Leopold Frade, Bishop of Southeast Florida, at his Annual Visitation for Confirmation on Trinity Sunday, June 3, 2007, at Trinity Cathedral, Miami

“Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.”

Those words come from a poem by the Canadian poet and composer Leonard Cohen. I thought that they were an appropriate way for your Bishop to be able to make you aware of the different cracks that exist at present in your church.

I don’t know if you know that one of the hurricanes the year before last caused considerable damage to the roof of our Cathedral.
Unfortunately, now we have a major crack in our roof where we can see not only the light, but even the stars and the moon.

But also you need to be aware of other cracks that at present exist in this Cathedral. That’s why it is important for you to be reminded of this poem:

“Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.”

I am sure you know how imperative it is to take care of this unfortunate crack in the roof of our Cathedral. It must be fixed soon, and I know that your dean is working very hard to accomplish it, but he needs your help and your money to achieve it.

I know that we have an excellent dean--we chose right--but even if some of you tend to believe it, you have to be aware that he doesn’t walk on water. Yes, trust me on this--he really doesn’t walk on the water of Biscayne Bay to get to work and back home. The dean actually drives back and forth in his car across the bridge like the rest of us mortals. He needs your help and your money to fix that hole in the roof.

Now the crack in the roof we need to fix--patch it, cover it and block the light. But there are other cracks that exist in our church of which we must be aware. We must fix the crack in our roof, but let’s be careful to leave those other necessary cracks alone, so that through them light may get in and shine to banish the darkness of our world.

I am not only talking about this Cathedral, but also about the many cracks that the Episcopal Church seems to have--or as some may perceive it, the imperfections of our Episcopal Church.

Yes, we are a Church that has many cracks. We are an imperfect church, and there are many things that someone from the outside looking in may perceive to be flaws that need to be fixed.
I am sure that some may even think that we must be the craziest bunch of believers in all of Christendom.

But that is precisely why I became an Episcopalian. That is why I left a calm, cozy, culturally friendly Protestant denomination to belong to a church where priests were being put in jail, and where bishops dared to question many things that were considered as untouchable and not for discussion.

I must have been crazy, but I have no regrets. Many people can’t understand us. I just heard a comedian saying that Episcopalians are a kind of Cliff Notes of religion, or for the youngsters here the of religion.

Some people, when they look at us from the outside, think that we are just “Catholic Light” and that instead of asking our penitents to say a couple of “Hail Marys,” we suggest that they should have a couple of Bloody Marys. I wish it were that easy to be an Episcopalian! So if you think that by being confirmed or received in our church this morning you have it made, I’ve got news for you. It is not that easy to be one of us.

So I say to all of the candidates for confirmation and reception and to all of you that will witness the vows that are going to be made:

“Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.”

The current struggles that we are going through in our Anglican Communion are just an example of what I mean. We are being asked by our brothers and sisters of our Communion to patch the cracks that we have made. I won’t pretend that our actions have not affected the Communion as the British accented prelates stated: “The recent actions of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America have damaged the bonds of affection of the Anglican Communion.” There is no question about it, and for that we can be sorry and apologize. But the fact that we apologize doesn’t mean that we are about to fix that crack. You see, that’s how the light gets in.

Some may say that this newest crack is much worse than those that occurred in the past, but I am convinced that they are just trying to justify their prejudice. At the same time there are others that while they vilified this new group demanding their rights, they are jealous to protect their own rights and will scream holy hell if someone would treat them the same way that they treat others.

Let me give you a little background of why I say this: I became an Episcopalian almost 40 years ago because I saw in this church a group of Christians that were willing to defend justice and the rights of those being abused. For me it truly reflected what I was reading that Jesus Christ was saying in the Gospels.

I had just been asked to leave a Methodist-affiliated college in the south because of my big mouth. After the forced integration of my college, I just couldn’t understand how people who seemed to be truly devoted and committed Christians were able to insult, discriminate and even persecute Americans who happened to be black. There were black persons from other countries in that college and I never heard a complaint about them, but when the first African-American student showed up all hell broke loose.

As a foreign student, I had been raised in a different culture and I lacked those chips of selective racial prejudice in my brain. So I decided that it was OK to challenge Southern white persons from Kentucky on issues of race. Big mistake!!

That’s how I ended up in New York, and it was there at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine that I became enamored by the beautiful liturgy of our church.

It was love at first sight and there I discovered a church that didn’t ask you to leave your brain at the door, but allowed you to come in with your brain in order for you to think and reason with it; a church that besides having a firm belief in the Scriptures and a willingness to be guided by tradition, also believed that reason is a gift of God for us to use.

You see, reason is what would not allow us over 400 years ago to accept the theory of “Limbo” that Rome so assiduously taught up to a few weeks ago. Also it didn’t allow us to insist that the sun rotated around planet earth and that our planet was the center of the universe. Now, reason was also a factor that prevented us from saying dumb things like that the Teletubbie Tinky Winky was gay because of his triangular antenna, his color purple and his handbag.

Reason has helped us to recognize that Blacks and Hispanics are not inferior, that men are not superior to women and that women can and are called by God--and ordained by the church--to be deacons, priests and bishops.

What is exciting is that the Spirit of God has been active during these days and is helping us to comprehend that human beings don’t end up being gay or lesbian because they are possessed by demons or have simply chosen an “unnatural” way of life.

It was that 3-legged stool of Anglican thought, Scriptures, Tradition and Reason, that moves the members of our church to be involved in bringing justice and peace and “to respect the dignity of every human being.”

Today as we look at the photographs of marches and demonstrations during the days of the Civil Rights movement in our country, you are bound to recognize in the crowd an Episcopal priest dressed in black with a round collar around his neck. When you go through the list of people jailed, attacked and even martyred, you will find many Episcopalians, including a seminarian named Jonathan Myrick Daniels who was killed in Alabama while saving the life of a young African- American woman.

It was through the cracks that were made with blood and sweat during those days that the light of justice and racial equality got through in America.

Now we are not totally perfect ourselves, and we need to sadly accept our own sins and remember with shame that even in this Cathedral black persons were not fully welcomed until a few decades ago. But there were those among us who were willing to create cracks and made it possible for the light to get in, and the changes began to happen-- and they will continue to happen.

Some talk about the decrease in membership in our church as a symptom of our discussion on sexuality. But they forget to mention that the main exodus from our denomination was not because of Prayer Book changes or the ordination of women or the acceptance of gays and lesbians, but it was mainly due to the departure of white persons who refused to worship next to a black person who had dared to enter into their beloved homogeneous, culturally friendly environment through cracks that were being made by our clergy and laity to end segregation and discrimination.

There were other cracks in our church that were made, and through them other groups of persons that were being kept away were able to get in. It took a long time but I was there to witness it: It was in 1976--a year when I was so handsome and slim and with lots of hair-- at General Convention in Minneapolis when we voted to allow the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate. Another crack was made, but you see that’s how the light gets in.

Then 27 years later I came back to Minneapolis, and by 2003 I was overweight and with very little hair. But at that General Convention another crack was made. That year the bishops and deputies consented to the election of 10 bishops, something that is a routine for us.
However, one of those bishops was the Bishop of New Hampshire, who happens to be a gay man in a committed relationship. And that’s how the light of justice got in.

And now this American church is being told by a number of persons from other cultures and nations, as well as from a small group of our own members, that we must patch the crack that occurred due to our actions. That is very easy for them to say, but if we do that, how will the light of justice get in?

I know that by refusing to patch that crack our “bonds of affection”
with some of our brothers and sisters are being strained or even broken. I know that there may even be other drastic consequences.

But every time I falter and begin to think that maybe we should compromise, I remember Jonathan Myrick Daniels.

He could have compromised and not bothered to try to register African- American voters in Alabama. He could have stayed home up north, but instead he chose to make a crack in the name of Christ at the boulders of injustice that blatantly existed in the South at that time.

Every time I falter I think of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who could have minded his own business and not bothered to challenge the boulder of apartheid in South Africa.

I am convinced that we must be willing to permit these cracks that have occurred in our church so that the light of justice can continue dwelling among us.

If we are not hypocrites and hold double standards, we must say that injustice is injustice in any way, shape or form that it may appear.
As a Hispanic I say that if I want justice and equality for those like me, then I have no business whatsoever being part of anything that seeks to deny justice and equality for others, even if those others are gays and lesbians. You should not talk about equality on issues of race and culture if you at the same time--using selected verses from the Bible--refuse justice and the full participation in the life of our church to others with a lifestyle different from yours.

You see my dear candidates, it is not that easy to be an Episcopalian. My God, even our first American bishop was refused ordination by the British because he was not going to pledge allegiance to crazy king George that Americans had just defeated in our Independence War!

God bless those Scottish Jacobites who in Aberdeen, Scotland, dared to make a crack in the Anglican Communion and consecrated our first bishop, Samuel Seabury, against the will of the powers to be at the time. That’s how the light got in and we were able to have our first American bishop.

It didn’t take long for the Brits to realize that we were here to stay, and that we were not anymore the Church of England but the Episcopal Church of these United States of America.

Now, I know that you want to be confirmed and received by me this morning, but I want to make sure you know that we really mean for you to keep the promises that you are about to make.

We really mean it when we ask you to reaffirm your renunciation of evil and to commit to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Yes, my beloved candidates and all of you present this morning in this Cathedral, you need to be aware that we really mean it when we ask all of you if you are willing to persevere in resisting evil and also if you are willing to love your neighbor as yourself.

Not some neighbors but all neighbors. Not just those who talk like you, or cook like you, or vote like you, or pray like you, or those whose affections God has wired different from yours. We really mean all.

I also want to be sure that you know the consequences of responding to the last question of the Baptismal Covenant with, “I will, with God’s help.” It’s important, because with the condition of the world we live in today, it could really make a difference for good.

That final question is going to be this:

Will you strive for justice and peace among all people? Will you?

Will you respect the dignity of every human being? Will you really do that?
Do you realize how many cracks we will have to make to be able to achieve this?

I have to admit that if I say that I believe that we must strive for peace, then I must chisel hard and make a crack at that boulder of war brought to our nation through lies and deceit. A boulder of war that brushes aside the death of over 3,000 American youngsters and now insists on a surge that will only increase the number of those killed.

If I am to declare that I must strive for justice, then I must be willing to say stop the embargo against the people of Cuba. It has failed and it only punishes the poor and the weak and not those in power in that island.

If I believe in resisting evil, then I must do something to stop the exploitation of farmworkers taking place today in Immokalee, Florida.

I must also be willing to look at immigration issues with the eyes of the one who insisted in proclaiming that we must love our neighbors as ourselves.

There are other churches in our country where blacks and Hispanics are kept away. There are quite a few other churches out there where gays and lesbians are bashed and considered evil, where war is praised and encouraged, where women are kept in their place, churches where cracks are not allowed to happen. This Cathedral is not one of them.

Now if you really insist on becoming an Episcopalian, then welcome to this church and help us to make sure that we keep some of our cracks. It’s important--you see, that’s how the light gets in.