Thursday, May 31, 2007

I'm A Little Teapot...

Welcome to all the new visitors from places like here and here!

I won't give you the whole nickel tour but if you look over to your right, you will see a list of Georgia blogs and their latest entries. After the top five (see I got a top five too!) they are in alphabetical order. Well, except one.

Ain't I a stinker?

N.R.A. Endorses Whitehead

Jeff Emanuel of Peach Pundit reports the N.R.A. has endorsed Jim Whitehead for the 10th District.
you have earned an “A+” rating from the NRA-PVF. We urge our members and other gun owners and sportsmen to vote for you for Congress on June 19th.

Well, after the N.R.A.'s shenanigans this past April when they sent their personal thug down to the General Assembly to threaten legislators with an "F" grade if they didn't vote properly on the insane "bring your gun to work" bill, I think we all know just how honest and open those grades are.

Here's one gun owner and sportsman who thinks about as much of an N.R.A. endorsement as what I just left in my toilet.

Feel The Snark!

Last night, Rusty, Amber and Grayson met with the evil empire.

Listen to the post-event discussion HERE.

Rusty: I'm not trying to defend the WSB guy, but I think in his case he thought he was being cute and funny.

Amber: Well, too bad that he wasn't.

I'm with you, Rusty. When it comes to the evil empire? Eff em.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Creative Loafing devotes a cover story to local bloggers.

Know your media. Know the difference.

UPDATE: And Dave of Earthling has jumped into the fray. Come on over Dave! The pool's warm from all the pee!

My Morning Wooten

Another day, another screed from Jim on global warming. In Jim's doddering world view, it's nothing but an endless parade of chicken littles.
The same thing, I suppose, when we’re bombarded by what in modern times has become a steady stream of dire warnings on everything from the new millennium disaster that was to befall our computers to the revelation that cul-de-sacs and the suburban lifestyle cause obesity.

Well, Jim, let me take a moment to edumacate you. The reason the millenium bug didn't wreak world-wide havoc was the blood, sweat and tears of thousands of software engineers scanning and updating billions of lines of code. In other words, Jim, disaster was avoided because we recognized the problem and took corrective action.

Makes sense to me. Why should we listen to these so-called scientists when it was the liberal eggheads who sold us a bill of goods on Y2K? I mean shouldn't we instead trust pundits to see 50 years into future since they so clearly remember the facts of just 8 years ago?

Mike King Smacks Jim Wooten

The AJC's Mike King questions the veracity of a quarter horse alledgedly enrolled in the PeachCare program. Even if supporters of the horse tale such as the AJC's Jim Wooten and House Speaker Glenn Richardson could produce this phantom equine, it does not alleviate one irrefutable fact.
The nag has better health insurance than thousands of Georgia children whose parents work and still can't make enough money to buy insurance for their kids.

Snap! Mike, have you been peeking over my shoulder in home room? Even though I've been an advocate for restraint on PeachCare, I certainly can recognize a good turn of the pen. Democrats? Are you paying attention?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Leaving

At the thought of them his eyes teared up, making his last
look at Lonesome Dove watery. The dusty street wavered
in his vision as if under a heavy rain.
~"Lonesome Dove" by Larry McMurtry

I was a fan from the days of Monroe Drive.

God knows, anyone who could keep the attention of a young man in his twenties must have had something going on. And for someone writing about, of all things, traffic and commuting, it was a minor miracle. But it was the writing man, by good God, it was the writing.

When I started this little joint, I had fews notions of where it would lead. Then, one day I stumbled upon Peachtree Screed. I was always reticent to contact well known writers, too afraid of the appearance of self-promotion, but for some reason Doug felt like an old companion. His reply to my few lines in an email were quick, effusive and full of exclamation. Doug Monroe was already reading me. And griftdrift's heart grew three sizes that day.

It was the simple knowledge that someone of Doug's talent read my ponderings which caused me to reach further. To be better. Both spoken and unspoken, he became a mentor. In time, he also became my friend.

Now, Doug is leaving us for better pastures in the north. I know the parting will not be permanent, but I will still miss him.

Vaya con dios, my friend. I promise I won't burn the saloon down before you return.

Geek Moment: Google Street View

Google is starting to roll out the new feature Street View on Google Maps.

Instead of me telling you about it, go play with it yourself. Explore Miami, Denver, Las Vegas, San Francisco or New York.

Jim Wooten Has Lost His Mind

Nothing new for these parts, eh? Well, looney is as looney does.
Next year gridlock gets worse. The I-75/85 Downtown Connector gets repaved. That strip should be double-decked. Or tunneled. It is absolutely essential to develop a way to move traffic through Atlanta. It’s a nightmare bottleneck for north-south traffic.

Double decker highways? Tunneling? Can anyone, especially you so called conservatives, explain to me how anyone with a lick of sense can say these are reasonable solutions to moving traffic through Atlanta? Feel free to use cost or safety as one of your assuredly salient points.

Immigration Redux

This morning, my friend Wilson Smith challenged me to do some research on immigration. We had just concluded a spirited discussion on the subject on his radio show. To my never ending amusement, when the podcast of my recording is placed on his web site, it likely will be directly beneath D.A. King's.

Immigration has already become a flash point in the 10 district race. It will be the issue in the 2008 Senate race. And as I told Wilson, it is a murky area where disagreement reigns even amongst the most ardent of party faithfuls. For these reasons, you are assured to see a great deal of future coverage on the issue in these parts.

The latest furor also reminds me of something I wrote last November.
President Bush and the Democrats agree on the basics of immigration reform. As with welfare reform they simply need to smooth out the edges. Find places to compromise. Show the American people that they indeed can work together...It's a unique opportunity for everyone to win. The Democrats pass important bi-partisan legislation demonstrating they can work with the President. President Bush has something besides Iraq on which to hang his legacy hat.

Sound familiar?

Breaking News: Fred Thompson Will Announce?

Just seen on CNN, is reporting Fred Thompson will shortly announce he will form a Presidential exploratory committee on June 4th with the aim of announcing his candidacy on July 4th.

More Smoke From South Georgia

Another picture from South Georgia.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Smoke In South Georgia

Yes, we've had a few days of smoke in Atlanta but the above is a picture a friend sent from Valdosta. The smoke and ash in the area is so prevalent school children have not been able to leave buildings for days at a time. Just a little perspective next time you smell smoke in the air.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Georgia Politics Podcast Episode 12

Check it out.

Violence, drunkeness, affairs, griftdrift making predictions on the 10th district! What more could you ask for?

...And A Time To Stupid

Try a little of both and have a safe Memorial Day.

A Time To Reflect...

Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Summer Of Smoke

A horrible side effect to another day of wildfire smoke covering Atlanta.

I can't get the wretched 70's song "Smoke From A Distant Fire" out of my head.

The horror. The horror.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Nancy Grace Is Insane

Yeah, I know. Stating the obvious.

But check out this clip of her getting snotty with her director.


Lazy Saturday

No stupiding today. Other business takes priority.

Instead you ought to listen to some music.

Or check out the Georgia Blog Carnival.

Or check out Rusty who is in yur MSM, pissin on yer futbal heroz.

Oh hell, just get off your ass and go outside. It's a beautiful day!

Georgia Blog Carnival

It's time for another carnival.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Politics and Humor

Yesterday we discussed music and politics. Today let's discuss humor. Since humor is so subjective, I think it may be even more difficult. So let's look at three examples and I'll give my opinion of each.

1. Rusty's Whitehead Ad, as seen above and also here.

griftdrift verdict: Arguably funny. If Munson actually had Alzheimer's it would not be funny. Since he doesn't, the dissonance between reality and the accusation brings the funny. Kind of like when someone says something so stupid you inquire if they were Amish and grew up without a television, a telephone or any modern connection to the outside world.

griftdrift verdict: Arguably funny. The physical nature here is rather subtle and the underlying message that Rosie is an ogre fits the political purpose.

"When my band of right-wingers take over, women who weigh more than Rosie O’Donnell will not be allowed to wear miniskirts outside the bedroom. Some things should not be seen in public."

griftdrift verdict: Not funny. Simply calling a large woman fat is not funny. It's just mean. This is the opposite of the Munson ad.

In summary, humor is a difficult thing. In politics in particular it ventures dangerously close to the mean with alarming frequency. All are guilty at some point. In my unscientific opinion, most of the time, one side usually gets the funny and one side usually doesn't.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Not Another Whitehead Video

No really. It's not.
The press officer for Republican congressional candidate Bill Greene may face criminal charges after allegedly punching a pickup driven by the supporter of another candidate outside a Greene fundraiser Tuesday night, police said.

That's right. He punched a truck. I fear Georgia blogging may just dry up once the 10th district election passes.

Baton Bob: Atlanta Treasure

As you can see from the picture, I once had the pleasure of having a sit down with Baton Bob. Bob is one of the most open, honest people I have ever met. On this day, he sipped a glass of wine and told us his story. Instead of me repeating it here, head over to Fresh Loaf and view the mini-documentary of his life.

Bob is one of the things I miss from my days working in Midtown. I really hope he once again ventures over to the Highlands area. If you're out there Bob, the Blackout Researcher's miss ya!

The Music Of Politics

Watching the above video (shamelessly nicked from Tondee's Tavern) reminded me of a question I have long pondered.

Do people gloss over the extreme leftist politics of a group like Rage Against The Machine because the music is such high quality whereas you can't ignore the politics of any extreme rightist rock bands because they are all such utter crap?

It's a wonder I can actually fall asleep at night.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Al Gore On Torture

A brief departure from Georgia politics.

Andrew Sullivan notes a particular section in Al Gore's new book "The Assault On Reason".

For the first time in American history, the Executive Branch of our government has not only condoned but actively promoted the treatment of captives in wartime that clearly involves torture, thus overturning a prohibition established by General George Washington during the Revolutionary War...It is too easy — and too partisan — to simply place the blame on the policies of President George W. Bush. We are all responsible for the decisions our country makes. We have a Congress. We have an independent judiciary. We have checks and balances. We are a nation of laws. We have free speech. We have a free press. Have they all failed us? Why has America's public discourse become less focused and clear, less reasoned?
I did not vote for Gore in 2000 although if I had a do-over, I probably would. However, I agree with Andrew that Gore freed of the merciless grind of electoral politics has become a much more powerful voice.

Some hope he runs in 2008. I certainly understand the seductive reasoning, but I am reaching the conclusion that I hope he does not.

Live Blogging: Monica Goodling Testimony

No, not me. Although I am watching it.

Shelby is giving the local take on the ongoing sturm und drang.

Taking Shipp A Bit Further...

Bill Shipp has a grand idea. With the rumors of Clark Howard running for Mayor of Atlanta, why not aim a little higher?

So, Clark, forget mayor. Being governor is a much better job. You can help many more folks who really need help. And you'll have your own state air force. You won't have to go to Birmingham anymore to find cheap flights.

My first thought is what a faboo idea! Then the cold, hard political reality splashes me in the face. The mayor's race is non-partisan. The governor's race is not. This means in order to shoot for the moon, Howard would have to either sell his soul to one of the evil twins we call Ds and Rs or garner enough signatures of registered voters to run as an independent.

But wait a minute. Is there any person in Georgia more likely to gather the requisite John Hancocks?

Heck, we have our first Republican governor in like forever and we see how well that works. Why not an independent?

So yes, I am all prepared to plant some Clark For Georgia yard signs, but Clark? Do it the way you have always done it. Do it your way. No strings attached.

Will Hinton On What Is Going On

I have never been a fan of the Christian Coalition and frankly, having grown up in their world, have a hard time throwing off deep suspicions of anything evangelical.

But Will Hinton of Good Will Hinton provides some interesting and fresh perspectives on the role of evangelicals in politics.

Give a listen to the interview here and see if it doesn't at least make you ponder some of your notions.

The Hog Wallow

Oh God! Not him! ~Roxanne Pulitzer upon spotting Hunter S. Thompson at her divorce trial.

When I started this little venture, I promised myself three things: I would only write when I felt the need, I would be beholden to no one and although I would never spare the snark, I would not be unnecessarily cruel.

Fortunately, the need comes daily. Writing is a cruel mistress who will tease you for an instant, lash you for the moment and abandon when you just need a taste.

Not being an issue pimp is much easier. You state your philosophy and promise yourself to not give a good damn who you piss off. Hell, if you don't enjoying pricking the beast, why get in the game?

It's avoiding the cruel where the soul is tested.

Politics is a rough game. As some put it, it ain't for sissies. And it shouldn't be. It is the meanest, lowest, nastiest sport on the planet. It is the place where meglomaniacs are dragged weeping to prison, flithy money is wafted like opium beneath the nose of the weak-minded, ethics are fluid and legal depends on the number of votes in your pocket. It is a dark place. An easy place, where if you sink deep enough, you no longer notice your nostrils are filled with feces.

Sunday, I waded into the dark, muddy waters. In a moment of pure hubris, I started walking off the edge of the breakwater, not realizing my peril until the sewage had reached the tip of my nose. So, I backed off. Some will see retreat as weak. Some will forever see the skin of slime left by the misadventure. Perhaps both are right. Perhaps both are wrong. My only choice is to either allow my mistake to remove myself from the game or go back to not giving a good damn.

I choose to once again find the snark while avoiding the cruel.

This is no pledge which can be thrown back in my face. I am human and I will at times teeter on the edge of the deep sea of shit.

But the claws will not be sheathed. The opium eaters, pimps, whores, money changers and heretics will continue to feel their touch. Only the truly innocent will be spared. If possible.

Enough wallowing. It's time to get back in the game.

The Rocky Road

Two days of cleaning. One night of exceptional card playing. It's all about the journey, Bubba, and I've found the road again.

Let's get back to this blogging business.

Monday, May 21, 2007

A Pause

What do I do when life turns weird? I clean.

It happens when I meet a new girl I like. It happens when I feel like I need to sort some things out. It happens when the soul gets a little too cluttered. When the direction is no longer there.

So today?

I clean.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

And Another Whitehead Video...

Everybody else is doing it, so why not me? Definitely TRS-80 quality. I'll try harder next time.

UPDATE: I've pulled the clip. It was a very near thing whether I was going to put it up at all. In the end, it just didn't pass my personal "feel test". It just didn't feel right.

Let me be very clear about one thing. I in no way disagreed with the content. Jim Whitehead is one arrogant S.O.B. and his refusal to even discuss his views on this war in my humble opinion does far more to dishonor those he would send into harms way than one small time blogger's video.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Still Fishin

Still too many fish to catch and too much grass to cut. Heck, politics is overrated. I may never come back. Too many Dems and Repubs in the city this week anyway.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Batteries Needs Charging

Nothing a couple of days of fishing can't solve.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Walking The Walk

To enjoy the benefits of this great republic you have to be willing to serve.

I have jury duty in the morning. My instincts are telling me I'm going to be empaneled.

Lord knows when you will see me again. Check Georgia Voices on your right for the latest news while I am in land of no tubes.

UPDATE: Twice in 15 years I have made it past the auto-call informing me I must show up to the Dekalb Courthouse the following morn. Twice I have spent most of the day quietly reading in the jury pool room never seeing the inside of a court room. I admit to feeling vaguely disappointed.

The day wasn't a total loss. I managed to re-read about a quarter of Shelby Foote's massive Fredricksburg to Meridian. I made it to as far as the near forgotten Abel Streight raid which almost reached Rome, Ga. before being cut-off by Nathan Bedford Forrest.

But the high point of the day came as I sat on the steps of the court house, soaking in the sun. In the midst of the mob of jurors, plaintiffs and defendants marching in and out came two couples. Both clutching freshly minted marriage certificates.

One couple was surrounded by family including a father who proudly, with a conspiratorial wink towards me, lit up a massive cigar. The small group ambled over to one of the manicured lawns and began taking pictures.

The second pair I didn't notice until a flash of white caught the corner of my eye. I turned towards the top of the steps and spied a young couple, no more than 25 years old, clutching each other as if their lives depended on the embrace. He was dressed in a natty dark green suit with no tie. She was dressed in a lacy, white cocktail dress. Her face was buried in his chest, quietly crying and his arms wrapped her completely.

Soon, they parted, kissed, then clasped hands to walk out into the bright world. Minds addled from their new glory, they briefly walked the wrong way, then laughing at the silliness, wheeled and disappeared towards the Marta station.

A day wasted? I think not.

Whitehead Endorsed By Constitution Burners

Jim Whitehead, the putative front runner in the Georgia 10th congressional district open election and also someone who has no problem bringing the crazy, has been endorsed by The Concerned Women For America.

For those not familiar with this particular organization a portion of their mission statement is the belief that the bible is the " inerrant Word of God and the final authority on faith and practice".

Founder Beverly LaHaye crystallized this particular core belief in a 1987 interview in Ms. Magazine.
Yes, religion and politics do mix. America is a nation based on biblical principles. Christian values dominate our government. The test of those values is the Bible. Politicians who do not use the bible to guide their public and private lives do not belong in office.

Article Six, section III of the U.S. Constitution states:
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.

So, Mr. Whitehead I have a question for you. Will you repudiate the endorsesment of LaHaye and her merry band of constitution burners or if elected will you simply cross your fingers while taking the oath?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Weird Stuff

I was going to take a break from blogging today but I saw something which forces me to tap the keys.

For the second day in a row, I just witnessed a group of birds acting just plain weird. Flittering around, attacking each other.

I have this uneasy feeling they know something we don't.

Strange times, bubba. Strange times indeed.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Saturday Stupids

Let's go stupiding.

Friday, May 11, 2007

My Morning Wooten: Common Edition

If you want to read the whole damned thing, go here. Because today, on the eve of one of the most special weekends in the hearts of all who call the south home, I only want to talk about one.
When my band of right-wingers take over, women who weigh more than Rosie O’Donnell will not be allowed to wear miniskirts outside the bedroom. Some things should not be seen in public.
Jim, you and I frequently talk about the same things. Biscuits, grits, pigs, chickens, the fog rising off a pond when you throw out the first line. Most often we approach things from a different perspective but always through the eyes of a couple of southern boys. So today, I want to talk about the one thing I am sure we both hold dear.

Today, I want to talk about mamas.

We all have mothers. But it is only in the deep, in the special place of our heart, where we cleave to our mama.

My mama raised four kids on her own. By the time I came along the rest had figured out most things and the things they hadn't figured out, they at least figured out how to get away with.

It had to be hard for a working woman to come home to one more grinning, dirty faced child. She patched my jeans, wiped my face with a washcloth, cooked supper and if there wasn't much left to do at the end of the day, sat in her chair with a sip of whiskey and watched over her youngest as he puzzled over the latest magazine her employer would have thrown away if she hadn't squirreled it away in her handbag.

She grew up the hard way. Born on the cusp of the depression, she spent her childhood days barefoot, in overalls, chasing chickens across a dirt yard. Daddy selling a hog for shoes was not just another line in a country song, it was most every fall. The farmers market was not an excursion to find the latest exotic ingredient but a trip made to get just a few dollars more.

She was married in the front room of her grandfather's house; in her best dress with veiled hat cocked just so, because like most country people she had a saucy side.

She always carried a handkerchief in her purse because mama could solve most problems with a quick wipe. Sometimes it smelled faintly of peppermint. Because after the handkerchief, the next best solution was to pop a piece of candy in a young boy's never quiet mouth.

Sometimes she stretched the paychecks a bit too thin and we would come home to cut off lights. She would then shoo me away, hand the lineman a check she swore was good and apologize for causing him so much trouble.

Because through all the struggles, even in the times when pride had to be swallowed for necessity, she always had one unfailing lesson for her children. Don't be common.

Common didn't mean poor, because the good Lord knew, we had seen plenty. Common didn't mean working class. It didn't mean plain. It didn't mean not good enough. You could be the poorest person in the county but when you passed by, people should be able to say, they ain't common.

Common was the false pride. It was when you elevated yourself through the putting down of others.

I'm just a tiny voice. I hope if I am ever graced with the power to use the printed word to communicate daily with thousands of people, I will remember the lessons of mama. I hope I will be able to avoid the temptation of being common.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bill Richardson Gets The Funny

I'm really warming up to Bill Richardson. I know he still has no chance but I can't remember the last time I voted for someone who actually won, so...

h/t: Spacey

A Conservative On "Darwinism"

Let me clear up a few things for you, Jonah.

Goldberg: "I have problems with the uses and abuses of Darwinism, which is merely one theory of evolution."

There is no "Darwinism". "Darwinism" is a made up term used by creationists to portray the science as some sort of philosophical view. And what are these other theories of evolution? There are certainly different theories of the mechanics of evolution but the core theory of the change of allele frequencies over time has no competition. Once again, another creationist tactic to present a view that this particular science is a buffet where you may pick and choose as you please.

Goldberg: "One of the most fascinating things about the debate over evolution is the obsession with biology, and there are reasons for it."

Yes, there is a one very good reason for it; evolution is completely about biology. It has nothing to do with the creation of the Universe, the creation of the Earth or even the creation of life on Earth. Evolution deals with what happens to life after its already here. Nothing more.

Jonah, you state categorically in the beginning that you do not believe in creationism or intelligent design. Then, why do you so easily fall back into these creationist canards? Because it is the easy thing to do? To simply fall back on sycophantic political platitudes?

I believe Jonah Goldberg when he says he believes in evolution. I also believe his making such a hash of evolution in this interview shows how far we have fallen behind in our science education. A result which can be directly attributed to the continued attack on science by the people Goldberg routinely defends.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

More On The PD Cuts

Looks like part of the cuts to the Public Defender system includes the entire juvenile division!

Audacity sums it up.
Brilliant move GPDSC. Let’s eliminate the juvenile division instead of just merely cutting salaries or pork elsewhere. You screw over young clients and they just come back as adult clients.

Statesmen see 25 years into the future. Jackasses just eat everything you put in front of them. Guess what we got in our General Assembly?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Innocence Lost, Part III

To read Part I, Click Here.

To read Part II, Click Here.

Willie Harris and the immortal Jackie Robinson were both born in the same small town of Cairo, Ga. At the moment, Willie also has another commonality with Jackie. As Jackie was when he crossed the color barrier in 1947, Willie is the only African American player on his team, the Atlanta Braves.

Times are different but the similarity of the surface situations cause many to ask why.

Gone are the golden years of Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson and Bob Gibson. Following the pioneering times of Don Newcombe, Lou Campinella, Larry Doby and of course Jackie Robinson, African Americans not only excelled in baseball, they dominated. The success caused many to wonder the what ifs of Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell and Josh Gibson.

Then something happened. A mere 60 years after Jackie sacrificed for an entire people, they began leaving the game he loved so much.

Bethune-Cookman, a historically black college in Daytona Beach, Fla., has only two African American baseball players. The rest are hispanic or white. On a recent HBO Sports documentary, the head coach discussed attending summer camps and struggling to find African Americans to recruit. It is a struggle echoed by all baseball programs at HBCs.

Hall of Fame player Dave Winfield believes he has found the problem. He calls it the 3 Cs. Cost, continuity and competition.

"It didn't cost anything to play," he says. "Whether it was Little League or park and rec ball, you could play until you were drafted without having to pay. Now you might be able to play through Little League, but if you want to get better, you start paying to play. Then the continuity of being able to play for nothing every year stopped. The connection and the continuity of playing all the time and the ability to reach new heights stopped. And now the external competition has risen where 40 years ago you didn't have as many other sports competing. They thought the Super Bowl would fail and look at it now. How about basketball, soccer, extreme sports? Everybody has grabbed a piece of the sports and entertainment pie now."
In the 60's and 70's, baseball was the glamour sport for black America. Basketball was riddled with drugs and hardly ever shown on television. Football was the purview of white America, the lines so divisive a player in the following decade would describe it as a "plantation system". But in baseball, giant men named Mays, Aaron, Morgan and Flood walked the earth.

Then, basketball cleaned up its drug problem and found a man named Magic. Football cut loose its fetters, opening riches and the most coveted position of power, the quarterback, to men named Moon, Cunningham and Williams. Money and fame came quick and easy. In the age of MTV and video games, instant gratification ruled. Why slog through years in the minor leagues when you could sign for millions of dollars draft day?

In the cities and even the small towns, the patches of dirt became abandoned. Young men moved to the asphalt courts where you only needed a leather ball and the ability to impress. A travelling team meant crossing over to the next series of courts to play in a different summer rec league.

But not all agree with this perspective.

Joe Beasley, Southern Regional Director of the Rainbow/PUSH coalition, believes there is no "diminished enthusiasm for African-Americans playing baseball". To him and his organization, the problem is major league organizations do not recruit enough African Americans. A statement that flies in the face of the fact that a Major League team does not recruit anybody. They sign players from lower levels. Lower levels like Bethune-Cookman where even though its student popluation is 90% African American, its baseball team is less than 10% African American.

When I first began this piece, I was angry. The passionate line of attacking my team for no apparent reason had been crossed. I also had witnessed the demagoguery of Jesse Jackson's organization in the past. I again began to wonder if these gulfs could ever be spanned when we continue to drive ourselves apart with meaningless passion plays as the things in life for which we truly care die.

Then, I remembered Travis and Dexter. How they both shaped a young boy from south Georgia and showed him that even in the awful hurts of our differences there was still hope. Their memories reminded me that hope does not come from a blind corporate behemoth of a major league franchise. Nor does it come from the demagogues clinging to relevance by latching on to high profile targets. Hope always comes from the smallest changes. The ones rarely noticed.

Hope will come from a baseball field. When, a child turns a double play. It will come from a classroom. When a child who has never had the opportunity to visit a museum opens an art book for the first time. Hope will come when we remember what we learned as children. Despite our difficulties and differences, innocence does not have to be lost.

Innocence Lost, Part II

To read part I, please CLICK HERE.

Baseball has been part of my life since I can remember. It was in third grade, some time after Travis and I finally finished that map of London when baseball became serious.

The small dirt patch behind the elementary school was our field, as poor as it was. We had a pillow for one base and a chunk of concrete for another. Sliding into second was a trepidous affair for fear of mother later looking at torn jeans or heads being cracked open if you were brave enough to go head first in the style of Pete Rose.

We had progressed from merely a wild herd of children running like mobs towards any ball to an organized gang who picked sides much to the chagrin of those always picked last. It is where I heard my first profanity uttered by a friend. A quick, "hot damn" when I accidently slung my bat into the catcher's face. It was where I first felt that the strangeness of girls was not so strange after all.

She was the preachers kid, full of straight black hair and a tiny mole on her cheek. She came to watch the games with her small friends because they too were figuring out that boys were not so strange after all. One day, she caught a line drive off her forearm. Screams burst forth and of course we did what boys do in moments of panic involving girls - stood stock still in panic. Fortunately for everyone, a nearby teacher came over and ushered her back to the school building. As she walked in the door, bravely choking back tears and clutching her arm, I muttered, "there goes my girl". Nearby, another boy overheard and the taunts began, leaving my mind reeling with the questions of what had I done and what would happen when she inevitably heard what I said?

A few days later, we were back on the patch of dirt playing baseball and shockingly the girls came back as well. The preachers daughter was there, now with a cast on her arm. And just once, she favored me with a smile.

On the field, baseball and I soon parted ways. Natural ability is a harsh evolutionary governor. But it never strayed far from my mind.

Lack of ability on the field morphed into passion of the mind and the mind's easy focus was the Atlanta Braves. Those miserable Braves of the late 70's. It didn't matter to me how horrible they were on the field; the roster was filled with such exotic names as Lum, Pocoroba and Naharodny. They also had a lanky Mormon kid at catcher with a tendency to throw the ball into center field. I had cousins who were Mormons and I had a tendency to throw ball wildly, so at ten years old, I figured I could relate.

A frequent debate in sports circle is which is your favorite sport. Baseball or Football? I once described the difference as marriage versus a one night stand. Football is hot, sweaty, full of action. It happens once a week for a few hours and you leave sated. Baseball goes on for nine months, day after day, only changing incrementally, and at the end, you just hope for a little extra love in the playoffs. But there is always the comfort of knowing spring training is just a few months away.

Not that there isn't passion in baseball. Much like marriage, it is passionate but most times it is a slow burn. Ask any Cubs, Red Sox, Yankees or Dodgers fan about their team and you will receive a mixture of grief, fondness, madness and frivolity. Sometimes anger, if you cross a line.

Ask me and you will hear tales of wonder at Phil Niekro signing a baseball, Dale Murphy hitting another homer, Dale Murphy striking out on another slider, the brief glory of the early eighties and the sustained ecstasy of the 90s.

Ask a young friend of mine about his team and he will imitate Chipper Jones swing, note that John Smoltz is pitching this week and Kelly Johnson is making us all forget the beloved Marcus Giles.

He will also tell you about Willie Harris.

Concluded in Part III.

Innocence Lost, Part I

Joe Beasley, Southern Regional Director Rainbow/PUSH Coalition:

I think it was a lack of diligence on the part of the Braves to recruit African-American players. There's not diminished enthusiasm for African-Americans playing baseball. It's simply the opportunity hasn't presented itself.

griftdrift in May 2006:

Bill Clinton didn't lose Jesse Jackson. He was lost every time someone witnessed his vampiric tendency to show up at a tragedy. He was lost every time someone witnessed his need to place pride before principle. For me, he was lost one hot day in Albany, Ga.

Being birthed and raised in a small town in the deepest part of a southern state, the question of race has always been unavoidable.

I was born in an era when blacks still lived on their side of town. Where busing caused panic in white families. Where a sister would sob through the night from fear of going to the new black high school. Fear that she would be raped by the black boys or beat up by the black girls.

Up until the first grade, my only interaction with black people were the handy man who came around to help fix a fence or a maid when visiting a wealthier friend's house. Then I met Travis.

Travis was my first black friend. I was the next generation of desegregation. Entering first grade a full decade following the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Attitudes had changed little but the gulf of racial understanding had begun to be spanned by the smallest of hands.

We both liked to draw. Every second grader likes to draw but it filled Travis and myself with a passion. While studying London, for God knows what reason, Travis and I were chosen to draw a map of the city on a huge piece of butcher paper stretched taut across the whole bulletin board. We threw ourselves at the project as only small boys do. We worked every free moment, forgetting recess, baseball, bugs and all the other passions of 7-year old males.

In between staring at pictures in our textbook and gripping our "sharpies", Travis and I talked. We talked about our homes and what we liked to eat. He liked grits and I, already feeling the seeds of rebellion, did not. My mother worked for the government and his worked at a restaurant. I was raised on a farm and he was raised in "the quarters". He was bussed clear across town to attend a "white school". I was a 5 minute ride away from pastures filled with cows.

The moment a child considers asking permission to have a friend over for the night is a momentous one. It is the first tentative step in forming one's own community away from the family unit. Of course, I didn't realize this at the time - I simply wanted to ask Travis to come over and spend the night.

Then, I began to think odd thoughts. I looked at Travis with his mid-70s fro and considered my own bowl cut. My new clothes and his hand me downs. I considered my split level house in the country and what I knew was Travis' shotgun shack in the poorest section of town. I gripped my magic marker and silently went back to drawing. The gulf was still there. The differences were far too great for a child to cross.

I lost track of Travis, but I think of him now as I remember another young man I met many years later.

In summers of the past, small towns meant baseball. For a 16-year old boy on summer vacation it also meant a summer job.

I was lucky. I didn't have to work 'baccer or some other hideously gruesome job. I worked for the city recreation department. In the morning, I assisted with the 6-8 year olds in day camp. They played kickball, tag and red rover while I generally stood around making sure they didn't kill themselves. In the evening, I umpired farm league baseball.

Farm league was for the kids 8-10 year olds who were not yet ready for the rigors of true little league. I had been a farm leaguer myself, usually positioned in right field at the end of a game, silently praying a fly ball wasn't hit my way. It was fairly obvious most of the boys didn't have the talent to progress beyond this level. A caught fly ball was a miracle. A pitcher who didn't walk the bases loaded was coveted. A catcher who could throw the ball on the fly to second on a steal was an MVP.

Every now and then, as I stood between the pitcher's mound and second, dodging another errant throw by a spaghetti armed catcher, I would spot a particular kid. One that I knew would make the progression to little league, then pony league and maybe beyond.

I spotted him early in one summer. He was shy, never smiled and wouldn't look you in the eye. But even at eight, he had the look of a baseball player. The confident lope of athleticism which set him apart from the other gangly messes of stumbling arms and legs. He could throw. He could catch. And lordy, could the child hit. The coach wisely placed him at shortstop in the vain hope the team might get some occasional outs at second and a few fly balls drifting into short center. His name was Dexter.

It happened off the bat of a monstrous catcher. One of those children whose glands had run wild causing a minor panic among the local uniform supplier. With a man on first, he smacked a grounder hard past me. I swiveled expecting the ball to scoot into center field but understanding I needed to make sure the runner tagged second. Then, Dexter did something wonderful.

He scooped the ball in his oversized glove, ran to second, tagged the base and gunned it to first. The second minor miracle occured when the tiny first baseman held onto the ball. Everything was silence. All was frozen, including myself. Mouth open, I slowly pointed at second and raised my fist then turned to first, pointed my finger and raised my fist. The crowd erupted. For many, it was probably the first true double play they had ever seen on this particular field.

Dexter trotted past me on his way to the dugout.

"Nice turn, Dexter", I said.

"Thanks", he replied, then turned to me, looked me in the eye and smiled.

I graduated a few years later. A decade later so did Dexter. I heard he received a baseball scholarship to Clemson and then toiled in the minor leagues. After that, as with Travis, I lost track of him. But I will never forget one evening as the sun set, a double play and the innocent smile of a child.

To read Part II, please CLICK HERE.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Screw You Poor Defendants!

Amendment VI; U.S. Constitution:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

In 2003, Georgia created a state-wide public defender system because the old county run system was so horrid it repeatedly lost constitutional challenges. Now in 2008, our esteemed legislators choose to slash the already paltry $35.4 million public defense budget by $2 million.

We increase our overall budget by $1.5 billion yet continue to shortchange the criminal justice system. A decision which could once again lead us down the road to ongoing cost from more overturned verdicts.

The federal constitution is quite clear on this issue. Criminal trials are matters for the states and the states are required to provide an adequate defense to those requiring the assistance. No ifs, ands or buts. When will the idiots get it through their heads that an ounce of prevention now will prevent monstrous cost headaches later?

Erick Erickson On What Is Going On

Yeah, I know it looks like I'm sucking up to the Repubs. Maybe if the Dems weren't so durn quiet, I could link to some of their content.

Listen to his latest interview with Wilson Smith of What Is Going On.

And good god if you don't think the heat is starting to get to us down here, he defends Sally Bethea and says the Democrat he is most impressed with is Hillary Clinton.

Mable, drag out the fainting couch!

The Ugly Side of Tax Reform

Everybody's talking about taxes.

Glenn Richardson wants to abolish practically every tax in the state and replace them with a 5.75% flat income tax and a 5.75% value added tax. I am not as upset about this as most. In the past I have advocated both flat taxes and VATs. However, everyone is missing the point.

You cannot have tax reform without spending reform. We have already seen this battle played out in Washington. Democrats are "tax and spend". Maybe true, but then Republicans are "debt and spend".

The key to every political equation is spend, spend, spend. It is an unavoidable fact that government is expensive and will only grow more expensive. Georgia's budget will increase by over 1.5 billion in 2008. To be fair, a large portion of that is the normal increase in spending to cover inflationary costs however it cannot be avoided it will rise and continue to rise.

Under Georgia's constitution, we are required to have a balanced budget. So what happens if the revenue isn't there? Either we start cutting or we start adding other revenue streams. If we cut, it would be deep. Schools, roads, healthcare. Cuts so deep that no matter the ideology, everyone will feel the pain.

The other option is fees.

Many advocates of tax reform refer to Florida as an example of a state which gets along fine and dandy without an income tax (note Bookman cites the currents tax reform fight in Tallahassee). Two things they never cite are Disney World and impact fees.

Florida's state sales tax is 6%. South of the border, they have the one thing Georgia can never match; 75 to 100 million visitors a year. Visitors who pays gobs of sales tax as well as other fees such as rental car surcharges. In 2005, sales tax alone generated over $3.5 billion. Sound like a big number? That's still only 15% of the Georgia budget. And we don't have Disney World.

Then there are the fees. I had an interesting conversation with my brother last week. He resides near Ocala in central Florida. Last year he began construction on a new house. Before breaking ground he spent over $12,000 in impact fees. Now, for estate purposes, he is attempting to sell some commercial real estate. Only one problem. Current impact fees are preventing even large corporations such as McDonald's from purchasing real estate as the initial investment is too costly

Commercial real estate impact fees in the state of Florida? Over $220,000.

The point is tax reform can be a good and noble effort. But it cannot be haphazard. It cannot be slash and burn. It cannot be a bit of salve here and there to make us all feel better. It must be comprehensive and full of hard choices. And it absolutely must include a discussion of spending and how it can be controlled.

So yes, the Speaker's plan is a little nuts. But in a grand scheme might not be such a bad idea. The problem is the devil is in the details and we have a hard time facing the devil.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Saturday Stupids

We're a little light on members today, but the roll must be called.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Embrace The Crazy!

"Thank god, I lost!"

h/t: PaulaG

My Morning Wooten: WHA?

As I read Wooten, I keep a mental tally of issues where we agree, those where we disagree and those where I just don't know from where the hell he is coming. Maybe it's early. Maybe I stayed up too late. But this morning's column is so full of weirdness, my conscious mind is leaking oil.
The U.S. Supreme Court may have OK’d the practice of ramming the vehicles of fleeing suspects to end high-speed chases, but the next General Assembly should spell out in law specific circumstances under which such tactics can be used. Police shouldn’t be ramming speeders, for example, as was the case when a former Coweta deputy rammed a fleeing Cadillac on a two-lane, rain-slicked road.

Wait a minute. Wooten is accusatory towards a police officer? Tacitly defending a criminal? And disagreeing with the conservative led Supreme Court? World done gone upside down!
Headline: “I-75/575 price tag hits $4 billion.” Act. There’s no time to waste. In 20 years, it’ll seem cheap. Fix congestion.

Ahhhhh, there's my Jim. I do love how self-described "fiscal conservatives" roll over like newborn kittens when the DOT comes strokin'. No amount of spending is too shocking.
I’m not convinced that a governor who rides down the highway at 90 miles per hour without a seat belt — Jon Corzine of New Jersey — has the judgment to be governor. It is, I suppose, evidence that liberals feel secure in government’s arm no matter the driver or speed.

Conveniently omitted: Corzine admitted he was stupid. Expressed contrition. Took responsibility for his idiocy by paying all the hospital bills out of his own pocket. The ability to somehow tie this liberal ideaology reminds me of certain cognitive dissonances that make a person scratch his head when his foot itches. Or people who attack one country when the enemy is in another.
Wonder how many protesters gathered last Sunday to demand an end to violence in Darfur could find Sudan on a map? All, surely.

Can you, Jim?
Too much concrete, asphalt and rooftops in Metro Atlanta? Require bigger lots, thereby preserving trees and soil surface or, as in South Fulton, density tied to green space. There, in the 2,000-acre Friendship Village project, almost 1,300 acres is preserved as green space. The General Assembly should make green space preservation top priority in local consideration of high-density zoning.

Oh my! Weird Jim is back! Stricter government regulation? Abridging private property rights? The General Assembly stepping in on local zoning? Weirdness abounds!
Holy Toledo! I’m agreeing with state Sen. Vincent Fort, a most liberal Atlanta Democrat. Said he of the $150,000 inserted into the state budget to hire a “jobs advocate” in Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s office to promote economic development and to act as a “liaison” to corporations: “I’m not convinced this jobs advocate will bring anything new and dynamic to the mix except to let the lieutenant governor keep a campaign promise.” Too mild, Vince. It’s a pointless expenditure. An unnecessary duplication of executive branch functions.

Okay, that's it. Wooten is agreeing with Vincent Fort. Game. Set. Match. There are other more traditional Wooten-like utterances this morning, but this one has caused my soul to bleed and I cannot continue. Forgive me, bubba, I just don't have the constitution. Thank God, it's the weekend!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Random Thoughts

I seem to have a lot on my mind lately but little focus to my writing. At least it's not a complete block. So here are some random firings of the synapses.

- Four years ago, there were plenty of good people who stood up and said, "this is stupid and will result in tragedy". We were called un-American. We were called un-patriotic. We were called traitors. We were right. You were wrong. Get used to hearing it.

- Once there was a civilization who believed the highest form of honor was to drive a stake in the ground, attach a strap of leather to the ankle and remain unmoved in the face of an enemy. Never taking an opportunity to attempt alternatives. This civilization is rightly remembered as brave and noble. They were also nearly wiped from the face of the Earth.

- Principles and ideaology are easy in the abstract. Perhaps you are against then death penalty but then a family member is horribly murdered. Perhaps you are for the legalization of drugs but then the horror of meth ravages your family like a plague of locusts. You might be surprised that real-life situations instead of causing principles to waver actually cause them to strengthen. It still doesn't make sleeping any easier.

- Poker is a journey. You can play for hours and then one slip of the mental transmission and it is all over. There are those who are good at playing the big stack. Those who are good at playing the small stack. There are grinders. There are loose cannons. No matter how the game is played or the occasional slip of the transmission, it must be played without fear and the belief that all has purpose. But do not confuse purpose with all encompassing necessity of success. Success is judged by how you proceed in the journey. Not journey's end.

- It's over 80 degrees and the air is full of smog and pollen. I still prefer it to snow.

That's all for now. Maybe more later.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Erick Erickson At Good Will Hinton

Always good to hear the Republican perspective.

Listen to Peach Pundit's Erick Erickson on Good Will Hinton's podcast.

Erick, although we disagree on the "non-scandal" portion of the U.S. attorney firings, we can at least agree that incompetence is a significant portion of the issue. And competence should always be the cornerstone of any administration, right? snark.

The Swirl of Stupid

Less than 24 hours after the AJC lifts my heart, it jumps right back in the disappointment pool.

I suppose all is right in the warped world again. I'm pretty much beyond words at this point so go read Sara.

She says everything that needs to be said.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Death To Writers Redux

With the small blogstorm today caused by Miss Mary, I suddenly recalled a screed I penned six years ago in response to another blowhard. Please pardon the profanity. The internets were a much wilder place back then.

From 5-21-01

* * *
You put somebody in front of a keyboard and they think they are a writer. Every two-bit hooker in every rat sewer in every hapless burg in this nation can buy a godd*mn 10 cent thesaurus, stroll down to the local library, tip the pruned up matron and peck away to form their GREAT AND FOUL WORK! It's suddenly like a cheap whorehouse in here!

Soon, everyone will be a writer. Soon, everyone will bleed at their gums as they read their grand missives in the great green capitalist coffee houses. But you won't get me, you bastards. Never will you get me. I will pull at my eyes like that wretch Oedipus and pluck at my own liver like some self-flagellating Prometheus before you get me.

Death to the writers! Their time has come and gone! They laze about like flatulent dinosaurs as the comet aims for their beady eyes, never noticing the nascent mammals rending their flesh. They should have the grace to fall into a pile of great quivering sh*t but instead they writhe and clutch at their fleeting talents like men stranded in the desert drinking their own piss.

There is no honor in that profession any more. Wordsmiths they call themselves! Word pimps I call them! They jabber in the night keeping us all awake with their foul mutterings. We must put them all out of their misery. It's the only decent thing to do!

* * *

And you think I'm nasty these days? And apologies to the late, great HST.

A Good Story

I give the AJC a lot of crap. So, the cosmic karmic equation demands when they do something worthy, I also take note.

So there was no money and no kin to bury him. He'd likely be cremated, he said, and like a lot of churchgoing mountain folk, he believed that would doom him to an eternity in hell. A pine box and a dirt plot were all that could redeem him.
Go read the whole thing. Y'all, will have to forgive me. I'm suddenly overcome with the need to head south and visit the old home place.

Photo: Brant Sandelin/AJC

Move On!

It's a blessing and a curse
Watch out, Eugene, you don't make things worse
Wild dreams come true, what to do then?
Confusion and glory ~Patterson Hood

My old partner in crime Hollywood and I once had an idea. It was one of those many ideas we cogitate after a long afternoon of drinking in the hot sun. The day before, we noticed the local news gaggle rushing to film a bunch of protestors at the state capitol. I cannot tell you what they were protesting, but to two moderately aged redneck hippies in a slight alcohol haze, the sight of cameras stampeding to capture the latest passion play was a source of great amusement.

We thought, if those yahoos can get on television, certainly we can. We were no uglier and on a good day, from the perspective of our warped little world view, we were a damned bit more interesting. As is our way, the plan germinated was quite simple. We would make some signs and head on down to the capitol. Once there, we, just the two of us, it was very key to only be two of us, would march back and forth, holding our signs and scream "LEGALIZE PROSTITUTION NOW!"

We didn't really care whether prostitution was legal or not. Although, we did fully support the concept. The goal was to see if we could lure some unsuspecting bobble head over to talk to us. And of course, get on T.V.

Little did we know we were pioneers.

Actually, pioneers might be a bit of an exaggeration. Our country has a long history of those who have been willing to make asses of themselves for a few minutes of notoriety. The difference between days of yore and the last five minutes is the near unfettered access to further the transmission of an individual's asshattery.

You can paint a sign and protest. You can Twitter your friends so they all come down to see. You can blog about it. You can Flickr the pictures. You can YouTube the video. You can Podcast the audio. If you are really lucky, your story will be picked up by some outlet of the old media.

This past weekend, Mary Grabar of Dekalb County witnessed some alleged asshattery at the Inman Park Festival Parade. Somehow, her disturbed moment led to a self-penned article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution's opinion page, wittingly or unwittingly, propelling Ms. Grabar into the swirl of stupid.

The dreadful moment? Somebody carrying a sign stating "Impeach Bush". Ms. Grabar claimed her liberal friend was as equally disgusted by the ugly horror. Although she does not claim to be a liberal herself, perhaps it was the typical liberal feeling of self-guilt that kept Ms. Grabar and her friend from also commenting on the people holding "YE MUST BE BORN AGAIN" signs. It is always easiest to pick on your own kind.

Instead, of rolling her eyes, snickering at the blow up doll on the hood of a sports car and moving on to buy smoothies and funnel cakes, Ms. Grabar felt compelled to write to the local news rag. Somehow, her action metastasized into a full blown article complete with snazzy head shot. And once again the circle of life in the new social media world was complete.

Yes, I know. Railing against asshattery and self-indulgence on a tiny blog written by a single man may seem hypocritical. Some might even find it ironic.

Don't like it? I advise you to take the same action Ms. Grabar should have.

Move on.