The Jolt: Jimmy Carter repeats himself, nearly 50 years later

June 9, 2019 Plains: President Jimmy Carter, 94, the 39th U.S. president and Plains native, opens his Bible to begin the lesson as he returns to Maranatha Baptist Church to teach Sunday School less than a month after falling and breaking his hip on Sunday, June 9, 2019, in Plains. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Late Wednesday, his namesake center in Atlanta posted a statement from former President Jimmy Carter on its website that included these lines:

"As a white male of the South, I know all too well the impact of segregation and injustice to African Americans. As a politician, I felt a responsibility to bring equity to my state and our country. In my 1971 inaugural address as Georgia's governor, I said: 'The time for racial discrimination is over.' With great sorrow and disappointment, I repeat those words today, nearly five decades later…

"People of power, privilege, and moral conscience must stand up and say "no more" to a racially discriminatory police and justice system, immoral economic disparities between whites and blacks, and government actions that undermine our unified democracy. We are responsible for creating a world of peace and equality for ourselves and future generations.

"We need a government as good as its people, and we are better than this."

The statement echoed not just Carter’s 1971 inauguration as governor, but his 1976 campaign for president as well. “A government as good as its people” was the phrase Carter used to tap the post-Watergate dismay of voters.

If you wonder about the timing of Carter's statement, former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama issued similar condemnations of racial injustice on Monday. On Wednesday, Obama also held a virtual town hall session on the topic. Carter's statement allowed the Washington Post to report this:

Four U.S. presidents spoke this week about systemic racism and injustice. They used their platforms to illuminate the humanity in all Americans and to decry the dehumanization of some. And they summoned the nation to confront its failures, make change and come together.

A fifth U.S. president spoke instead this week about using military force to dominate Americans who are protesting racial injustice. He declared winners and losers among state and city officials trying to safeguard their streets. And, with his reelection campaign in mind, he sought to apply a partisan political lens to the national reckoning over racial inequities.

The outlier was President Trump.

***

The Libertarian Party of Georgia reports what could be a significant victory over a state ballot requirement for thousands of petition signatures in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic. From the press release:

In a ruling issued on June 3, the [11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals] required a Georgia district court to consider whether candidates of the Libertarian Party of Georgia had been unconstitutionally excluded by the state's ballot access requirements.

Independent and third-party candidates must collect thousands of signatures and petition the (partisan) Secretary of State before running. These costly restrictions do not apply to Democrats or Republicans. Even when a "major party" fails to run a candidate, no third party or independent can act as challenger. Sixty percent of Georgia Assembly incumbents ran unopposed in 2018.

The Libertarian Party of Georgia filed a separate request for injunctive relief in March, when the CDC's social distancing guidelines made collecting the required signatures door-to-door and in public both illegal and immoral.

***

Jon Ossoff has a commanding lead in the Democratic primary to challenge U.S. Sen. David Perdue, though he's still short of the majority support he needs to avoid an Aug. 11 runoff, a WSB-TV poll released Wednesday shows:

The poll pegs Ossoff, an investigative journalist, at 42% of the vote with less than a week before the Tuesday election. Former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson netted 14% and Sarah Riggs Amico, the party's 2018 lieutenant gubernatorial nominee, was at 9%.

***

A New York Times assessment of Tuesday primaries across the nation focused on the impact of voting-by-mail:

Iowa, which mailed absentee ballot request forms to every registered voter, had the largest turnout for a June primary in the state's history, according to Paul Pate, the secretary of state. In Montana, which mailed ballots to all registered voters, total turnout was up 35 percent compared with the state's 2016 primary. Turnout was up 14 percent in New Mexico and 12 percent in South Dakota, despite few competitive races there.

The primary results in New Mexico reflected a significant shift. In the Democratic contest for a House seat representing the northern part of the state, Teresa Leger Fernandez, a progressive with deep roots in New Mexico, easily defeated Valerie Plame, the former C.I.A. agent.

Ms. Leger Fernandez is widely expected to prevail in November in her staunchly Democratic district. Her victory would mean New Mexico could have a House delegation that entirely comprises Hispanic and Native American women.

***

The campaign trail is starting to roar back to life. Already, many Republican congressional candidates have returned to in-person events. And a few Democratic contenders have posted videos of socially-distanced gatherings.

This morning, the Rev. Raphael Warnock plans to join a protest near Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he is pastor, in honor of George Floyd, whose death has sparked widespread demonstrations for racial justice across the nation.

***

After U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, Tweeted out his support for designating Antifa a terrorist organization, the Senate candidate engaged in a long Twitter dispute with former New York prosecutor Preet Bharara.

“Brave stand,” wrote Bharara. “Now, as a lawyer and lawmaker, can you explain to voters what that means, under the law?”

Collins responded that he’s “quite comfortable debating the legality of Antifa destroying every major American city. If y’all let Joe Biden out of his basement, I’d love to hear his legal opinion.”

To which Bharara shot back: "You literally cannot answer the legal question about 'designating.' Got it. I have some experience with combatting terrorism, as I mentioned in my open letter to you in January."

***

The General Assembly will resume work on June 15, its leaders announced Wednesday.

Although the main priority is passing a state budget, the economic outlook in Georgia is much different after massive layoffs and businesses shuttered for weeks during the coronavirus pandemic.

Lawmakers have not determined how they will maintain social distancing and implement other safety precautions during the reconvened session.

***

Republicans in Georgia are ramping up efforts to be included in any effort to move the Republican National Convention out of Charlotte. On Wednesday, every Republican member of the U.S. House and Senate signed a letter to President Donald Trump extolling the virtues of the Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta's busy airport, and the city's experience hosting other high-profile events.

***

The Macon Telegraph reports that a Bibb County commissioner has apologized for writing that law enforcement should "shoot to kill" George Floyd protesters if "they continue to destroy."

Joe Allen wrote the comment on a Facebook live stream from a television outlet reporting on damage near the intersection Dr. Martin Luther King Drive and Center Street in Milwaukee.

“It’s now time to SHOOT to KILL them if they continue to destroy,” Allen posted about three minutes into Fox 6 Milwaukee’s live stream. The comment has been deleted.

***

Late Wednesday, we received a text from our friend Scott Johnson, a former chairman of the Cobb County GOP and a member of the state Board of Education. "New goal for my funeral is to be eulogized at a BBQ joint," he had tapped out.

Johnson had just attended a memorial service in Ellijay for Oscar Poole, a longtime GOP activist who died Sunday at age 90. The public good-bye, bagpiper and all, was held outside his well-known restaurant.

Poole was famous for injecting humor into his barbecue business and his hobby of politics. He would often show up at Republican events in a trademark Uncle Sam top hat and banana-yellow suit.

Outside his BBQ restaurant was a "cemetery" for the pigs that had given their lives for his tables, complete with porcine, cardboard "headstones." However, we are assured that Poole himself was buried, following a private family ceremony, at the East Ellijay Baptist Church Cemetery.

Below is a pair of photos sent by Johnson:

***

If you need  evidence that American political disputes are still being targeted by foreign Internet forces, allow us to point you this piece on state Rep. Vernon Jones, D-Lithonia, allegedly by a journalist named "Donna Miller" at a website named Gruntstuff. One suspects the composer wasn't a native English speaker:

A Georgia Democratic state lawmaker introduced Wednesday that he is not going to full his present time period, per week after he obtained blowback for endorsing President Trump, and mentioned he's "leaving the plantation," an expression popularized by black conservatives and independents.

"I'm sick and bored with me and my household being attacked and harassed by the Democrat Occasion for placing my nation earlier than my occasion," state Rep. Vernon Jones, who's black, mentioned.

Note to the author: English can be a strange language. One can receive blowback, one can be subjected to blowback, but one seldom goes out of one’s way to obtain it. Likewise, some parties are indeed occasions, but the reverse isn’t necessarily so.

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