Monday, December 31, 2007

Top Ten Blog Stories Of 2007: 5 through 1

And the countdown continues. These were the big'uns.

5. 10th District Election - New media overload hit Northeast Georgia in the spring and summer of 2007. The sudden passing of Congressman Charlie Norwood set up a perfect political storm in a district far away from the usual white, hot center of the Georga political universe. An open election with no primary brought out the usual and the odd with a Republican establishment candidate, a Democrat grass roots candidate, a firebrand anti-immigration candidate and a dentist from Athens who never raised much of a fuss. With no competing political stories on the landscape every virtual eye turned east. Many videos were created. Many a blog entry was written. The 1oth became a petri dish for evaluating the impact of new media on a political campaign. In the end none of it mattered as soft spoken Paul Broun not only snuck into the runoff against Jim Whitehead but pulled off the monumental upset win. Most agree Broun's shocker had nothing to do with new and had a lot to do with old - namely shoe leather meeting the street. Or as Rusty succintly stated - don't mess with Athens.

4. Grady In Crisis - A major public institution awash in debt and mismanagement and Republicans as potential saviors? Stranger things may have happened but it might take some cogitating to think of one. The "Grady problem" simmered for years mostly occupying the minds of the hapless Dekalb and Fulton home owners who footed the bill year after year. 2007 brought the issue to a head as the venerable old hospital reached a fiscal crisis so grave closing the doors became a serious option. Enter Republican Senator and blogger David Shafer. Shafer filed open records requests, pored through pages of boring audits and began asking pointed questions of the powers that be. In other words, he acted just like any good blogger. In the political arena, Shafer tempered the firebrand rhetoric of his own party's leadership, countered the myths of "privatization" by opponents and even found time for every politician's favorite sport - gigging the AJC. Through the twists and drama of the the unfolding story the goal remained the same - keep Grady open, find some state funding but demand accountability. 2008 will reveal if Shafer and others can continue to navigate the minefields.

3. Drought - Oh Lord, will it ever end. Prayers, finger pointing and pouting. Not daycare at the local church but the hue and wail of the drought to end all droughts. By late summer everyone was talking water. Some blamed shellfish, some blamed the gubmint, both local and federal, some advocated a second secession, some advocated scorched earth. In the end, all were thirsty. With Lake Lanier at a 50 year low and no rainfall in sight, the drought dominated late summer and fall. Every rain drop brought a new blog entry and a recycling of the same old recrimnations. Things became so weird that even free market zealot Phil Kent began talking about building moratoriums. The drought was such a new media rock star it even inspired the creation of its own blog. Now the year ends, the rains have come and all wonder if like many internet storms if this one was just a flash in the pan or will it sustan into 2008.

2. GREAT - Get Rid of Every Ad-Valorem Tax or something like that. Speaker Glenn Richardson had an interesting year. He was re-elected as Speaker of the House, survived an ethics charge, fought like a cat cornered by dogs and once all the dust settled decided to kick up a little more by proposing the most far-reaching tax reform in Georgia history. The Speaker's plan to eliminate all Ad-Valorem taxes and replace with consumption taxes on everything from hair-do to teeth pullings created more odd partnerships than gay pride taking place the same weekend as the Southern Baptists Convention. The Georgia Municipal Association hated it. The Chamber of Commerce hated it. The unions hated it. Republican dominated Peach Pundit scoffed. Democrat laced Tondees Tavern eviscerated it. Hell, even the other Republican leaders Sonny Perdue and Casey Cagle hated it! And the funny thing was even though everybody was talking nobody actually knew what the thing was. The Speaker in his usual "man on the mountain" manner slowly dribbled out details. The trial ballons would float up and blow up under a hail of bullets from every gun in the blogosphere. And although we now sit less than three weeks from the opening of the legislature, still nobody knows exactly what the damned thing truly is. Political scientists may ponder for decades if Richardson was sly like a fox or the biggest goof in Georgia history.

1. Genarlow Wilson - Okay. So I may be a little biased. But how can anyone deny a story which brought the attention of national blogs such as The Volokh Conspiracy and Reason was not the story of the year? From Republican Matt Towery to Democrat Emmanuel Jones, the tragic injustice of the Wilson case touched practically every part of the Georgia political spectrum. Penultimately, the Georgia blogosphere did exactly the opposite of the claims of chicken little Kazinski. It was bloggers who exposed the lies and myths in the politician's spin. It was bloggers who quashed the urban legends surrounding that fateful New Year's Eve. It was bloggers who researched state and federal statutes to question the actions of Douglas County D.A. David McDade. And although some would deny it, bloggers played no small part in the eventual release of the young man. And ultimately, the freeing of Genarlow Wilson is all that matters.

And that's all for 2007. What do we have to look forward to in 2008? More drought, more Grady, more GREAT and god knows what else the yahoos spew forth. And Georgia media, new and old, will be there to cover it. Stay tuned.

Top Ten Blog Stories Of 2007: 10 through 6

It's end of the year and that means it's list time!

Here are what I considered the top ten stories in the Georgia political blogosphere. There might have been bigger stories but these are the ones which I believe either majorly impacted our community or demonstrated the community could have a major impact. So let's go...

10. Shelbinator Goes Carson Daly - It was a big year for Georgia video bloggers. SpaceyG and Shelby plied there trade from the front page of HuffPo to the South Carolina Presidential debate to the Florida debate's "Buckwheat got shot" moment. It all culminated in December with the Shelbinator being named MTV's sole citizen correspondent for the state of Georgia. All anxiously await to see if this gives him access to Hanna Montana tickets.

9. Bloggers Break The Fourth Wall - It all started with Peach Pundit's Erick Erickson running for Macon City Council. Suddenly bloggers everywhere were stepping away from the keyboards and entering the fray. contributor Josh Patterson narrowly lost election to the Hampton City Council. Savannah blogger Bull Moose ran for Savannah city council. Now of all things Tondee's Tavern owner Jon Flack is considering wading into strange politics of Forsyth County. And lest we forget, there is always the shadow councilman for the non-existent city of South Fulton.

8. U.S. Senate Race - It's still a little early for this one but everyone is watching the race for incumbent Sen. Saxby Chambliss seat. The PPers generally fall on the side of giggling over the not-so-subtle efforts of Dekalb CEO Vernon "Snuggles" Jones. Tondee's Tavern is an outpost for explorin' Josh Lanier. Meanwhile, Rand Knight, whose acolytes must constantly refresh Technorati, and former investigative reporter Dale Cardwell get little blog love at all. Stay tuned as this entry should be much higher next year.

7. Media Shuffle - It's hard being a word pimp. 2007 was harder than most for media in Georgia. The AJC reshuffled its deck simultaneously dumping about 300 years of combined institutional knowledge and crowing how they would rule the new media world. Podcamp Atlanta brought the first serious meeting between the old and new worlds. May brought a second meeting between old and new with some rather snarky results. June saw an insurgency into the Atlanta Press Club with the expected outcome. To the chagrin of all, the one person who seemed destined to bridge the old and new, Doug Monroe, left for happier trails. Then the axe fell at Creative Loafing. The circle was complete with a silly editorial by UGA journalism professor David Hazinski which led to quite a row between the bloggers and Athens Banner Herald reporter Blake Aued. Was progress made? An optimist would say yes if only incrementally. A pessimist would say, they still hate us and we still hate them.

6. Doraville Elections - New Year's Resolution - no more clever puns using lyrics from the ARS song. Late summer and late heat brought strange things to the small town of Doraville. The feuding city council suddenly and secretly fired police chief John King. The story may have ended in those wee hours of arcane local political voodoo if not for video recorded by contributors at Dora-Blog. Those meddling kids caught the outrageous affair on tape exposing the potential illegality of the act and the absolute political stupidity of certain council members. Every media station in Atlanta cribbed the tape, King was rehired and a couple of months later two of the three council members were thrown out of office. Not bad work for one little hyperlocal new media outlet.

Coming up, 5 through 1.

Georgia Gang Howler Of The Week

Non-verbal edition.

Today's winner is Dick Williams phone. I giggle every week in anticipation that a cell phone will buzz during the Gang's half-hour. Today, we had a full blown ringer. I don't know what was funnier - Dick Williams face as he pulled the traitorous device from his shirt pocket or the fact that in a moment of obliviousness he continued to let it ring as he peered to see who was calling.

I'm not even sure what happened after the rude interruptions as I passed out from paroxysms of laughter.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Saturday Stupids

Friday, December 21, 2007

Georgia Blog Carnival

The carnival's in town.

Hmmmmm. Marketing Through The Clutter. Drifting Through The Grift. It almost sounds like parallel universes.

When Journalists Get Huffy

Apparently Buzz and my responses to the rather hysterical article by UGA professor David Hazinski on "citizen journalism" have ruffled a few feathers.

Athens World provides a rather reasoned response.

Hazinski could rewrite his piece in a way less damning of amateur journalists but making the same point, that mainstream media outlets should promote journalism training and prefer the contributions from trained people. This point is not very interesting because mainstream outlets can do whatever they please as long as the advertisers and stockholders are happy.
Then there's the Athens Banner's professional journalist Blake Aued.

When y’all start doing your own reporting, rather than rely on rumors, press releases and the dreaded MSM, then you can call yourselves journalists.
A couple of things here Blake.

If you actually read my blog you would know I have never called myself a journalist and its rare that I rely on rumors and press releases. Yes, I do rely on the MSM pretty frequently. Next time y'all have an edition which doesn't contain a contribution from the Associated Press let me know.

As far as doing our own reporting? Having attended the recent Senate debates in Forsyth County, even though I'm an unwashed blogger, I can confidently say the only "journalist" there was a staff writer from the Forsyth daily. Despite four candidates for our next statewide election and a Democratic challenger for the 10th district, you know, the one that includes Athens, nary a Banner Herald scribe in sight.

Here's a funny coincidence. I was just remarking to a colleague the other day that with the entry of journalists such as Blake Aued and Macon's Travis Fain into our little world maybe the Georgia blogosphere is about to enter a new era.

I may have to rethink that position. At least about what comes out of enlightened Athens.

My Morning Wooten

Oh such fertile ground today.
Nevermind my recent assertion that you’ll never be rich if the job requires your actual presence to make money. Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees, having walked out of a 10-year $252 million contract signed originally with the Texas Rangers, signs a new deal for $275 million over 10 years. It’ll pay him $32 million in 2009 and 2010. That’s rich.
Criticism of the rich by Free Market Jim? Let's go to the numbers first. 3-time MVP. Holder of 12 Major League records. 8 seasons of 40+ home runs. 11 seasons of 100+ RBIs. Career batting avg. of .306. Some might say with those numbers he's simply earning what the market will bear.
And as far as being present to earn your pay, Rodriguez has rarely missed and game and he did not walk out on Texas. They traded him. Perhaps your fact checker walked out on you, Jim?
Shocking, yes, the news that almost one in four — 24 percent — of the out-of-state college students improperly classified as in-state for tuition purposes are also collecting HOPE. A state audit sampled students enrolled from out of state and found that 28 percent had been reclassified as residents between the spring of 2004 and spring of 2006. Each improperly classified student cost taxpayers about $7,300 per year
Is it hate on education day or hate on lottery day? We may have to look further to clarify...
A Princeton student who claimed to have been beaten by two men because he’s a conservative admits he made it up. His injuries were self-inflicted. So common are “hate” hoaxes, especially those involving graffiti, that the first question to ask is whether “victims” have agendas.
Hate hoaxes are common? Maybe this one should be taken with a grain of salt considering Jim's current accuracy batting average.
Quote on ethanol from an executive with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association: “We think there will be a day when people ask ‘Why in the world did we do this?’” Congress has just passed an energy bill mandating production of 36 billion gallons of ethanol by 2022, up from 6 billion now. The technology doesn’t exist to get cellulosic ethanol from switch grass and wood chips, though Congress is counting on 21 billion gallons of it after 2015. Meanwhile, corn in the tank is pushing up food prices, by $47 per person in a year, according to one study. Why in the world did we do this?
Actually the technology to produce cellulosic ethanol in substantial amounts has existed since 2004 and a Canadian company just announced the opening of a plant which will in its first year produce 10 million gallons. Well above what is considered "commercial". Jim's batting average may have just slipped below the Mendoza line.
Thinking Right connects the dots, so you don’t have to. Headline Sunday: “Cocaine terms may be reduced” for 700 Georgians in federal prison for crack cocaine offenses. The first wave hitting the streets starting March 3. Headline Monday: “Freed offenders repeat crimes.”
No, Jim, I think I will connect the dots myself. As of 2003 55% of all Federal prisoners were incarcerated as a result of drug offenses. According to the U.S. Department of Justice the average sentence for a violent offender is 63 months. For a drug offender the average sentence is 75.6 months. This disparity is most likely due to mandatory sentencing laws resulting from the get tough on drugs movement. The ulitimate result of the difference is violent offenders are usually let loose early so we can keep the crackheads locked up. How about those dots?
Headline: “Vouchers popular, limited.” OK. Expand them. The next headline should be: “Vouchers popular, sufficient.”
Ah Jim the copy editor returns. If we could only find Jim the fact checker.
Headline on “77 Fulton teachers overpaid.” Just 77? I’d say all being paid for advanced degrees unrelated to their teaching field are being overpaid.
Yep. It's definitely hate education day. Yeah, as anyone who has ever completed an advanced degree will tell you, there is no learning in that exercise beyond the narrow scope of your field. For those of you without advanced degrees or who happen to be AJC editorial writers, the previous would be sarcasm.
New Jersey’s in the process of ending capital punishment. If you agree, see the movie “No Country for Old Men.” Or read the trial transcripts of those on death row.
Yes. Let's read those trial transcripts. Let the first 150+ read be these.

Whew! That's enough to fill Santa's sleigh twice over!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Media Bias

As I continue my virtual stumble around the country I continue to trip over the most fascinating discoveries.

Any regular reader knows that I frequently comment on the media and usually my tactics resemble a poo-flinging monkey.

Well, I've found one of the best non-poo-flinging pieces about the media ever. It comes from Anthony Palmer, teacher and journalism student, in South Carolina.

Media Bias: Part I
Media Bias: Part II

It's long but worth it. Read both parts. NOW.

My Morning Wooten

Compensation, compensation, compensation:
The Board of Directors did not vote on his pay or the additional $1.6 million payment, which were decided by a compensation committee. The executive, Mark O’Connell, was paid $250,000 in 1999, compensation that rose to $446,729 this year...The revelation will most assuredly affect the willingness of individuals to contribute through United Way. It’s a bit difficult for workers making $30,000 per year to pay a middleman sums they’d consider outrageous for processing their financial gifts to the needy.

So, Jim, any who criticize the obscene compensation packages of failed CEOs are hippie-communist-Americahaters who do not want Americans to succeed but if one criticizes the compensation of the CEO of one of the nation's largest charities, compensation roughly equivalent to the salary of your average lawyer, you are looking out for the hard earned cash of the little guy?

Just one question. Do you enjoy being hypocritical or do you just hate charity?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


About this little press release...

Insider Advantage recruiting bloggers

It wasn't going to be a secret very long as pretty soon I would get around to contacting Georgia bloggers. I've been assisting IA with this project by contacting bloggers across the country. Three things to say about this.

It will not affect the Drift. But now you now know and can judge anything I write that touches the same niche of IA with that disclosure in mind.

Most importantly, I wouldn't have done it if I didn't believe they were sincere in trying to create something that marries traditional media to new media.

Finally, I'll be in touch. But if you are curious right this minute, you know how to get in touch with me or as the press release says, email Grayson.

That's all for now.

A Legend Passes

Monday, December 17, 2007

Fraidy Cats

And here we go again, again.

Oh the terrible fear which grips the hearts of the keepers of the ivory towers. They throw buckets of holy water from their high windows in a vain effort to frighten away the boogers in the shadows.

It's not the first time we've heard it and at this point I'm pretty sure it will not be the last time.

David Hazinski, Associate Professor of Telecommunications at UGA's Grady School of Journalism, has discovered a looming terror which threatens to unravel the very fabric of our great nation.

Supporters of "citizen journalism" argue it provides independent, accurate, reliable information that the traditional media don't provide. While it has its place, the reality is it really isn't journalism at all, and it opens up information flow to the strong probability of fraud and abuse. The news industry should find some way to monitor and regulate this new trend.
The thought of tearing Prof. Hazinski's article apart clause by scary clause makes my brain hurt. Instead, let me take a few moments to clarify a couple of mythical points which I hear ad nauseum.

Bloggers are not held accountable - Really? I even hear this one from people I respect. It usually follows the line of reasoning that bloggers are not concerned about libel and slander because they don't have deep enough pockets to make a lawsuit worth the trouble.

Firstly, ye learned scribes should return to the back rooms to consult your style guides and many suited lawyers on what constitutes libel. Just because I call someone an asshole does not mean I've committed libel. Especially if it's true.

Secondly, you are going to tell me it logically follows that a libelled party would willingly spend the bags of money required in lawyer fees to go through a multi-year libel case against a big-daddy-corporate-behemoth like the Atlanta Journal Constitution instead of firing off a Cease and Desist letter to my hosting company which would have my blog wiped out of existence almost the minute the thing hit the system administrator's inbox? Really?

Legitimate news organizations have a responsibility to monitor for accuracy - No you don't. And yes you do.

No, you don't because I already have someone monitoring me for accuracy. They are called my readers. And believe me I would get called out a hell of a lot faster than someone writing a letter to the editor which has to wend its way through the seven levels of hell called corporate media before seeing the light of day. Also, my corrections happen right on the front page? Where do yours appear?

And yes you do. Of course you should call us out for inaccuracy. As we will call you out for inaccurate reporting. As everyone should call everyone out. It is the role of the media both traditional and new to be guardians of the truth. However, this does not mean you get to be the final arbiters of truth. Yes, you do have special training in your craft and that should count for something. But do not make the mistake thinking it counts for everything.

Finally. Accreditation? Certification? You've got to be kidding me. How about this? How about we let the market sort things out (as it has been doing for over five years while you lay sleeping)? Despite the continued caterwauling of myth-makers, many who if you ask them directly have never read a blog, new media outlets are not sewage pipes directly connected to Snopes.

Anyone who regularly reads blogs, watches videos or listens to podcasts can tell you instantly which ones are worth the time and which ones are utter crap. They can tell you which ones are credibile and which ones are rumor mongers. They can tell you which ones continue to grow and which ones wither on the vine. Those who have standards and follow them attract an audience. Those that do not become isolated islands of madness with the inhabitant wailing in a lonely wind.

And maybe those would be guardians such as Prof. Hazinski would realize these facts if he would take the time to come down out of his tower and have a conversation with what looms beyond the edge of the forest instead of pretending somehow he can stop the creeping of new growth into the cracks of his foundation.

A Question To Ask

Here we go again.

I really wanted to attend the most recent hearings at the State Capitol on Global Warming. Unfortunately, I could not but if I had been present there is one question I would like to have posed.

Dr. Harold Brown, professor emeritus from the University of Georgia, urged caution, saying that the human impact on climate is difficult to ascertain. He also pointed out that climate experts were predicting a new Ice Age as late as the 1970s and demanding government action to “warm up” the planet.
And my question.

Dr Brown, isn't it true, sir, that the prediction of global cooling actually was reported in a Newsweek article, not a scientific journal, which was based on a paper tracking a minor cooling trend in the 40s and 50s and isn't it also true that after seeing the rather alarmist nature of the mainstream article, the authors of the original paper were quick to clarify they were in no way predicting a new ice age? Also, sir, do you not do a disservice to your fellow scientists by continuing to promote the myth portraying them as chicken little alarmists who hysterically warn of catastrophe based on error riddled theories?
Now wouldn't that have been fun?


Pictures by Rusty from a visit to Lake Lanier

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Georgia Gang Howler Of The Week

Yawn. No howler this week. It's getting difficult to be clever when all the crazy is just regurgitated talking points.

I will give them credit though for a pretty good discussion on the whole GOT mess.

Are Spacey and I the only people who watch this show?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Maggie Martinez On Discipline and God

Forsyth County Democratic Debate - "We've taken discipline out of the classrooms."

For a candidate in a federal election to emphasize such a local nuts and bolts issue seemed odd. But perhaps not so unusual considering relative unknown Maggie Martinez is an educator. Perhaps it made a certain strange populist sense.

Throughout the debate, Martinez clutched to her experience in education while explaining her stances on ethics, charity and religion.

Many may not have been prepared for her answer to a question regarding the Democratic Party's perceived loss of Christians.

Ms. Martinez related a story about the mandatory moment of silence at the beginning of the school day. She explained she always crosses herself before using the time to pray. When confronted by a student she explained her actions. She said she felt it was imperative "to teach children God is important".

She later emphasized her commitment by relating how she got in some hot water by posting a nativity display containing Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus on her classroom bulletin board.

In a day and age where the religious beliefs of politicians draw intense curiousity, one thing is certain - candidate Martinez' position on the divine will never be in question.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Rand Knight On Passing The Torch

Forsyth County Democratic Debate - Perhaps it was subtle jab at the man down the table whose every answer emphasized his extensive service to country, government and industry or perhaps it was Senate Democratic candidate Rand Knight's continued emphasis on his self-designation as heir to previous generations of Democrats.

Answering a question regarding a committment to future political contests Knight responded that although he "would be older than Richard Russell and Sam Nunn when they entered office", he still had plenty of years left to dedicate to the party.

Later, Knight emphasized despite his youth, he had 20 years experience in this arena and would be open to a potential run against Johnny Isakson in 2010. He pondered that it might be time to "pass the torch to the next generation".

Then again. Maybe it wasn't so subtle.

Dale Cardwell On Immigration

Forsyth County Democratic Debate - Hearing a Democrat at a Democratic Party function quote conservative columnist Jim Wooten might seem the oddest of birds until you understand it is Dale Cardwell.

Cardwell's past tactics have included an apparent run to the right of incumbent Republican Saxby Chambliss - particularly on immigration.

The former television journalist staked an early hold on the right flank of one of the hottest of hot buttons and he continued his entrenchment Thursday night in Forsyth County.

Cardwell accused Chambliss of not being "concerned about the southern border", stated the influx of illegal immigrants depresses the American job market and called for enforcement of employer verification of validity of social security numbers.

All were familiar stances for anyone who has followed the Cardwell campaign. It was after the debate where things got interesting.

Answering followup questions, the candidate stated absolutely he would take the same tough stance on immigration if he were speaking to the Chamber of Commerce in Chambliss' hometown of Moultrie, Ga. "It is time for someone to speak the truth", Cardwell responded.

Then came the Wooten.

Cardwell continued to discuss immigration and referenced a column by Jim Wooten where the AJC's right wing scribe pondered the strange alliance between the AFL-CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. According to the candidate the cooperative effort between the two organizations is only natural as they are "both really PACs".

He went on to state he believed organized labor intentionally recruits illegal immigrants to bolster membership rolls. When asked if he fears potential blowback from openly attacking what is considered a traditional Democratic stronghold, Cardwell responded, "not at all because the [rank and file] union members don't like it".

Josh Lanier On Torture

Forsyth County Democratic Debate - When the candidates were asked very directly about torture, Josh Lanier was quick to rise.

He related how in 1971, he was a member of a special operations unit in Vietnam. This unit would remove their uniforms, put on civilian clothing and walk into the deadly world of southeast Asia with the appearance of just any other westerner in the country. As part of this assignment, he was required to sign a statement that by undertaking this mission, he was forfeiting any right to protection under the Geneva convention.

Lanier said he suddenly felt a dreadful fear. Capture would mean the possibility of facing torture with no recourse or rescue. It was not a moment of theory. It was a moment of harsh reality. A moment which cemented why for the safety of our own military, we must never succumb to the seduction of torture.

Lanier finished by categorically condemning torture and admitted he wouldn't mind getting in the face of any "chicken-hawk yahoo" who advocated such disgraceful action.

Back From Cumming

Don't think we have a traffic problem in Metro Atlanta? Try getting to Forsyth County at 5:00pm. It boggles the mind that people actually do this every single day.

Travelling to Forsyth County for the first time in 20 years, I can only come to one conclusion. There's now a God-awful-lot of people in Forsyth County.

Now some random thoughts from the trip...

My trip north was to witness a debate between Democratic candidates for Senate in 2008. To my knowledge, this was the first gathering of four of the five candidates in one place. Present were Josh Lanier, Dale Cardwell, Rand Knight and Maggie Martinez. Vernon Jones could not appear due to a scheduling conflict.

The Forsyth Democrats should be complimented on running a smooth event. The questions were good. The candidates were engaged. I have nearly half a notebook full of notes and quotes. It was one of the most substantive local debates I've witnessed. Small room, small crowd but big ideas and big enthusiasm.

People sometimes ask me why I go to these things. I'm not a Democrat. I'm not a journalist. I really don't have much of a reason other than seeking a good story to write. The reason I go is on the off chance I will witness a "Jimmy Carter UGA Law Day" moment. So did I this night? I will say a qualified maybe. More on that later.

First, what follows is a series of what I considered each candidates most interesting moment. Notice I did not say best. I think you will see not everything was slick, planned and boilerplate.

God Help Me I'm Going To Cumming

It's not snowing up there is it?

What: Four of the five US Senate Hopefuls for the Democratic Party will be squaring-off in a town hall meeting in Cumming, GA.

When: Thursday, December 13, 2007

Time: 6:15pm

Where: The meeting will take place at the McDonald Dining Hall behind the McDonald Funeral Home 150 Sawnee Dr, Cumming GA 30028

This would be a good time to make a crack about a Democratic debate being held in such close proximity to a funeral home, but I'm going to save the good stuff for later.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

McKinney In Iowa

It's been a long time since...

Former 4th district Congresswoman and pure blog gold generator Cynthia McKinney recently stopped by an Iowa City meeting of the Greens. Local blogger John Deeth has an excellent write-up of the weird event.

Why Iowa, now, in the middle of caucus season? "Why not now?" McKinney responds. She starts chatting with the local Greens and I get asked, for reasons that seem unclear, to stop the audio recorder, though I'm the only press here. She recalls her first trip to Iowa, for Paul Simon in the `88 caucuses.
It seems Cyn is still not a fan of the press. Still not holding my breath for that exclusive interview.

Songs In My Head

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dunking In Johns Creek

The low grade war between adult toy store owner John Cornetta and Johns Creek continues.

One year ago, Fulton County attempted to prevent the opening of Cornetta's latest outlet of prurience but ultimately failed - leaving the matter in the lap of the newly formed city of Johns Creek. Since that time, the conflict has lain dormant as the case winds its way through the federal appeals process.

Could there be another avenue for resolution to the conflict? Perhaps, involving jello?

Cornetta, angry at the city of Johns Creek for refusing a charitable donation in the wake of a tragic family fire, challenged Mayor Mike Bodker to a classic dunking booth contest with the "loser" personally donating $1000 to charity. Bodker apparently refused but Cornetta will proceed with a Bodker "look-a-like" and due to the drought situation will use jello instead of water.

The event will take place on Saturday, Dec. 15 from noon – 4 pm in the parking lot of the Love Shack in Johns Creek at 10950 State Bridge Road...“We’ve had a couple of changes, but the end goal still remains the same, to raise money for the City of Johns Creek to protect all citizens, even the ones the Mayor doesn’t like,” said Cornetta, owner of the 10,000 square foot Love Shack in Johns Creek...“When this challenge was issued months ago to Mayor Mike Bodker we planned on doing this contest in a dunk tank in the cold of December. With the recent ongoing drought we’ve decided to change it from a water dunk contest to a Jell-O dunk contest.”...Fans and non-fans of Cornetta and Mayor Bodker will have the opportunity to purchase three softballs for $20 to throw at either of the two. All money generated will be donated to the Cornetta Charitable Foundation and earmarked to be donated to the City of Johns Creek to assist in the development of civil services...The chairman of the Board of Advisers for the CCF, Pastor Michael Cole of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit at Chapel Hill, will have final say so over where the money goes if the city of Johns Creek should once again reject the money...Mike South will be coming out dressed in his finest suit to play the part of Bodker. Additionally, he will be bringing out a bevy of his beautiful starlets to entertain the crowd...Whoever has the most softballs thrown at them will also make a personal donation of $1,000 to the City of Johns Creek. Since Mayor Bodker has declined the offer to participate, Cornetta will be making the $1,000 donation whether he is dunked the most or his stand-in competitor.
The Drift will of course be there to cover the event.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Layoffs At Creative Loafing?

On Friday, the Chicago Tribune reported the Chicago Reader, recently acquired by Atlanta based Creative Loafing, layed off four staff members including 20 year veteran reporter John Conroy.

On the heels of these layoffs as well as more layoffs at another recent Loaf acquisition, Washington's City Paper, unconfirmed reports have the flagship publication Atlanta Creative Loafing laying off seven staff members last friday.

Editors at Creative Loafing Atlanta, Charlotte and Tampa Bay as well as CL corporate human resources were contacted for this report but at this time have not responded.

UPDATE: Editors David Warner and Carlton Hargro at CL Tampa Bay and CL Charlotte respectively have confirmed there were no layoffs at their publications.

CL Atlanta's Ken Edelstein in a post on the paper's blog Fresh Loaf confirms earlier reports that seven staffers, non editorial, were cut:
In Atlanta, we laid off four sales people, a marketing assistant, a sales assistant and our wonderful assistant distribution manager — seven employees total. No Edit staff member was among those cuts, but that’s partly because we have a couple of open positions right now.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Saturday Stupids

Tis the season to get stupid

Friday, December 07, 2007

24th Georgia Blog Carnival

Welcome to the Carnival! Grab a funnel cake and stroll down a midway filled with all that sparkles and rattles in the Georgia Blogosphere!

Many thanks to Elementary History Teacher for letting me host and also organizing the submissions.

The carnival moves to the next town, Marketing Through The Clutter, on December 21st.

But for now I'm wearing the barker's hat. Tickets please!

Pearl Harbor

*A brief detour before we hit the main carnival. I'm very fortunate to host the Carnival on a day of reflection and remembrance. So before you devour the cotton candy and play the games, take some time to check the great December 7th links provided by Elementary History Teacher.


*Shelby gives a recap of the recent Republican YouTube debate and calls CNN to task for not using the technology to further the national conversation.

*Speaking of the YouTubes, local blogger Buzz Brockway got his question on the big show.

*Oh that Sen. John Douglas is a wacky one. Jace nails the legislator on his sponsorship of a bill to prevent law enforcement agencies requiring officers to learn any language but English.

*aTypical Joe explains why he believes the T belongs in LGBT.

*Andre of Georgia Politics Unfiltered notes the College Park city council banned a particular individual from speaking at meetings. Methinks they might have a wee problem with something called the First Amendment.

*Just a reminder. Atlanta is not the only city suffering in the drought.

*Decaturguy takes another stab at Speaker Richardson's not-so-GREAT tax plan.

*Amy ain't too happy about it either.

*Are officials looking to the sky as they walk off a cliff? Atlanta Water Shortage thinks so.

*Just in case you thought only Democrats are dysfunctional.

*Audacity gives a defenders perspective of the difference between drug offenders and alcohol offenders.

Booster Club Refreshment Stands

*inDecatur calls for the public to participate in hearings on the Glenlake Park.

*Decaturite of Decatur Metro laments the eternally sorry state of funding for the arts in the metro area.

*They're lighting the Christmas lights in Doraville!

Hall of Mirrors

*Everything Finance dives into the voodoo of escrow and wants some advice.

*Paw Paw Bill remembers the chaos of the fateful day November 22, 1963. Bill also has one helluva story to tell about his mother and shares thoughts on another great Georgia lady, Flannery O'Connor.

*Savannah Red takes on controversial Atheist scientist Richard Dawkins and his weird view of extra-marital affairs.

*EHT is already mailing out Christmas cards! Me? I usually do all my shopping on Christmas Eve. She is also learning new stories from her students - demonstrating the education is never-ending. Finally, using a way cool map and a verse from Acts, EHT explains how we should keep trying to open doors that may seem hopelessly shut.

*Tiffany reflects on appreciating life even when life is difficult.

*Better be careful with those anonymous comments. They may cost you your job!

*Blanche thinks the Facebook is out of control. (FYI, I received another widget request from Blanche today. heh.)

Arts & Crafts Pavillion

*Grasping For The Wind interviews author Stephen R. Lawhead abou his latest novel. A new take on the tale of Robin Hood.

*Fluffy Flowers takes us on a virtual tour of Macon's Museum of Arts & Science "Along The Ocmulgee" exhibit. Fluffy also takes the time to show us all how to make a dandy Christmas banner and a sweater stocking.

*Duane is counting down the top 31 records of 2007. #26 is Hillary Duff. Hmmmmm. Think I'll stick to Gram Parsons, but Duane gave me something to think about.

*Grabbingsand is also counting down.

*Cable & Tweed has umpteen kinds of awesome.

*Paul Williams? Will Smith? Hmmmmmmmm.

Games Of Chance

*Be careful blogging shortly after your team suffers a defeat. Rusty rants on UT's loss in the SEC championship but ultimately realizes Phil Fulmer isn't such a bad guy. (Rusty and I will have to disagree on the last part)

*Oconee Democrat thanks recently departed OCHS football coach Coach Nick Saltaformaggio.

*JMac also notes the OCHS mess.

*Urban Baboon gives a great photo tour of the current area where beloved Ponce De Leon Park once existed.

*Don't miss Sara's trip into big time poker.

And in the spirit of P.T. Barnum, right this way to see the incredible egress...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Georgia Gang Howler Of The Week

Yeah, I know. It's a little late.

A shockingly reasonable Georgia Gang this week. What happened? Was it because I was out of town? The solution is obvious. More gambling for griftdrift means more sanity on local television.

The gang opened with a discussion of Grady and it was actually laced with realistic positions. I do want to comment on this briefly even though it's not a howler.

Jeff Dickerson, who is working behind the scenes to attempt to solve the mess, had it absolutely right. Despite some of the rhetoric of the recent Grady board resolution, all sides remain engaged and we are slowly working towards a solution. You are going to hear a lot of rhetoric over the next few months, so here are a few things to keep in mind: everyone is still posturing, eventually the board will go non-profit and eventually the state will pony up money as part of a new state-wide trauma center. Everything else is just theater.

Now on to he howler.

Phil Kent speaking on Andrew Young's nomination of Matt Towery and Sen. Emmanuel Jones for the JFK Profile in Courage award:
I'm not sure what part Jones really played, Towery at least did speak out very vehemently on the intent of the legislation.

The part Jones played was drafting the legislation which would have retroactively applied the "Romeo and Juliet" provision of the new law to Genarlow Wilson. A reasonable bill which with the exception of Sen. Dan Weber was driven to doom by the Republicans in the Senate.

You would think a "political expert" would have this knowledge.

Georgia Blog Carnival Reminder

Just a reminder. The carnival is coming to these parts on Friday. Submissions are due this Thursday at 6:00pm.

Email me or use the submission for at

Funnel cake for everyone!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Departure New Orleans

Time to leave. I wish I could write more about New Orleans the city but my week has been limited to hotel - casino - Bourbon Street. Saying anything beyond I had a good time would be dishonest. It's one of the downsides of being a travelling poker player. You visit great cities but you never see them.

Now it's back to the real world. A quick stop in Moultrie to take care of some farm business and then back to Atlanta. See you tomorrow.

New Orleans: Day 4 - The First Rule

Easy day today. I accomplished everything I came to do except qualify for the main event, but the thought of another eight hour day of poker had no appeal.

So instead I played one single table with a small thought of winning my way into a bigger satellite but mostly just to have fun. I was richly rewarded with a table full of guys who were good players but also wanted to have a good time.
We cut up, splashed around in the pot and just about drove the dealer crazy since we were playing such junk. Every hand looked like a mongrel. The poor dealer could never tell right away who was the winner since every hand was such junk. But she was a good sport and laughed right along.

I punched out in fifth. But it was so much fun I hung around and kept ribbing the remaining players for taking too long to knock each other out. They were taking things "much too serious".

I later explained to one of my poker cohorts about the difference in players. Players who don't really get it take everything far too serious. They will wear their shades and stew over a hard call and bitch and moan even when they are playing a $65 single table. What they don't understand is it is supposed to be fun and everything has its place.

Those who have passed through the veil of poker enlightenment play with grace, play with respect and do play with a certain seriousness. But they also play because it is fun. And most of all the know there is always room for a good laugh.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

New Orleans: Day 3 - No Regrets

Event 8
Buy-in: $1000
Entrants: 260
Finished - 11th

The day began with low expectations and ended with no regrets.

As I made my way into the poker room yesterday morning I was shaky, tired and my brain was foggy. Knowing I would be playing in the toughest event I had ever faced, I planned to go to bed early the previous night. Instead I was out long past midnight watching idiots ride some mechanical bull. I was actually looking forward to punching out so I could return to the hotel for a nap.

This maelstrom of idiocy led to one of the stupidest incidents ever. I looked down at QQ and raised the standard. One older gentleman followed me into the pot. The flop came 10-10-10. About as good a flop as I could expect. I bet out anyway and the gentleman called. Uh-oh. I had already doped out he was a caller by habit so this could mean he had Ace high or he could have the case 10. The turn was a Q making my boat even better. I bet out again and he called again. At this point I knew I had him. I knew he had AK and was chasing broadway. The river was a J and then it happened.

He bet at me. Exactly as I knew he should but the the brain froze. I looked down at my chips and realized I would have very few left if I just called. So I moved all in. He instantly called and flipped over AK. As the dealer began pushing my full house cards forward, I was gathering my things together. That's when the players at the table all started saying, "no no no". I had become so fixated on him making the straight, I completely forgot I had him crushed.

Later I apologized to him telling him it was not intentional. He just laughed and said, "it happens to everyone".

The mistake woke me up. He doubled me to twice the starting stack. Over the next 5 hours I would work my stack up to twice the average stack and stayed there.

The most fun was the table just before the dinner break. One end of the table was like a library. I was not at that end of the table. At my end were two high limit Omaha players, a local and a gentleman from Mt. Hermon, La. named Travis. Travis was a dead ringer for a friend of mine back home even down to both working in the cattle industry. Travis is about as nice a fellow as you could meet and kept us in stitches the whole afternoon.

Unfortunately for us all, following the dinner break Travis and I clashed.

We were two of the larger stacks at the table. Travis had position on me and smooth called the blinds. I looked down once again at pocket Queens. I put in a substantial raise. Everyone but Travis folded. He immediately came over the top of me for another raise. A jolly gentleman who check raises is a great danger. I said, "If we tangle, it could get really ugly". Travis said, "I know" and was uncharacteristically quiet. With this change in manner I immediately knew he had either AA or KK. But I could not lay down my ladies. Even though a call in this situation is not the best play, I had enough chips to not hurt if I had to get away after the flop.

The flop came Q-9-3. Travis immediately moved all in. I immediately called. He flipped over the pocket Aces. I flipped over the pocket Queens. Travis muttered, "I knew it". My fourth Queen came on the turn dealing Travis the death blow. He actually had me covered so he wasn't eliminated until the next hand. But he left with grace and told me if he saw me later we'd have to have a beer. A man of his word, later that night as I was still playing, I felt a tap on my shoulder, turned around and Travis was standing there, a grin on his face. He said "I just want to see how you are handling my money" and laughed.

The grind down to the money was taxing. I had enough chips to survive so I was not worried but this was easily the toughest field I ever faced. Most of the players were local or nearby ring game specialists with a few travelling pros mixed in. But at about midnight the bubble burst and everyone relaxed.

After two of the most stress filled hours I've ever played, what followed was two of the most fun hours I've ever played. Everyone was a good player and tactical play was rewarded. But unfortunately for me, the cards went dead. I limped along, grinding out a few pots here and there but the blinds and antes were slowly chewing my stack.

It happened just before 2:00am CST. We were down to 11. In New Orleans the final table is 10 so the next person out would miss.

I was the second short stack in the tournament. The big stack was to my left. I had played with him earlier and knew him to be aggressive and any move I made would probably result in a push.

I don't know if was frustration at not seeing cards for an hour or just a tired brain, but on the button with A-5, I raised to 10k (about one third of my stack). Big stack, who was from Tallahassee, immediately moved all in. I went into the tank. I looked over at man from Texas who was the short stack. If I folded we would have about the same. I knew I was behind but had the vague hope that the big stack would call with anything. Maybe he had K-J and it would be a race with me slightly ahead. Pulling everything together, despite my desire to make the final table, I realized my only play was to call and gamble.

Big stack turned over A-Q.

I was crushed. Completely dominated. Only a Five or two pair on the board would save me. Hope sprang as the flop came out with a pair of rags. But it was all dashed with two more unpaired rags on the turn and the river. He shook my hand and everyone else let out a huge sigh of relief. The last man had gone down.

Many who do not understand poker might not understand why I did what I did. All I can say to those people is poker is a test. Always a test. I faced my test on that last hand and instead of meekly walking away from the adversity, I looked it right in the face. This time the test was the better of me. Next time, it may be different.

New Orleans: Day 3 - Sniffin' It

Event 8. Finished 11th. One off the final table. Final play was pretty stupid but no regrets. More tomorrow.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

New Orleans: Day 2 - Satellite Success

Playing single table satellites is a good way to blow off steam. They are super-aggressive, generally friendly and over in under an hour. The complete opposite of playing in a big event which may last 13 hours.

My first single table was completely ridiculous and barely merits a mention. Let's just leave it at I got crippled in the first five minutes and eliminated in the next five minutes.

The second was a hoot. Sat next to what I call a gregarious guy. He's the type of guy who gets on many a person's nerve and that's probably his game. But I've been next to far worse so he didn't bother me at all. I think he recognized this fact and we settled down and had a grand old time. We laughed. We poked fun. And most importantly for a couple of gamblers, we won. When we were down to four, I knocked out two with one hand, then me a my new friend chopped the winnings.

So today I enter Event 8 at half price. I'm not sure what's going to happen as I am still recovering from a late night on Bourbon Street.