Thursday, January 31, 2008

Lookin At The Panhandle

Some interesting post-Florida analysis from the St. Pete Times Buzz.
Hillary Clinton thumped her Democratic rivals Florida. But looking at north Florida primary results the conclusion seems inescapable: Clinton is ominously weak in the Panhandle...Obama also handily won Escambia.

For those of you not from around those parts Escambia County is Pensacola. It's the home of Eglin Air Force Base, heavily veteran and heavily Republican. Now, the primary is closed and I am certainly not implying Republicans voted for Obama. But I find it very interesting.

The Griftdrift Endorsement

In 2004, I voted for a Democrat for President for the first time since 1988. After 16 years in the wilderness of the Libertarian Party, even though Georgia was a stone cold lock for George W. Bush, my conscience overrode my heart.

2008 is no different.

Although I believe Sen. Clinton and one Republican who I cannot name are capable of bringing this great nation back to the path of sanity, I believe there is only one candidate who can not only regenerate the respect Bush and company so cavalierly destroyed but has the possibility of literally changing the world.

Next Tuesday, I will vote for Sen. Barack Obama.

Senate Candidate Interviews

Rusty caught up with three of the Democratic Senate candidates at last night's Jefferson-Jackson dinner.

Take a listen here.

And by the way, I think that's the first time we've heard on record (other than his gonzo confrontation in Saxby Chambliss' office) Vernon Jones ACTUALLY stating he's running for Senate.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Another Grady Headscratcher

Last week, when a Senate resolution banning those with conflicts of interest from the Grady board was introduced, a lot of people wondered how the hell it didn't already exist.

Well, we've got a new one.

Apparently, Grady Hospital does not require or even provide incentives for its own employees to use the health system as a provider.

You might want to read that last sentence again.

However, reliable sources tell the Drift that legislation will come this week to address this problem. The more you peel this onion, the more headscratchers you find.

UPDATE: Just saw Sen. David Shafer on "Lawmakers" introducing the bill. Sen. Shafer promises a link to the text once it's available.

UPDATE II: You can read the text of the resolution here.

My Morning Wooten

Least shocking statement of the year.
Since I don’t expect to vote in the Democratic primary on Super Tuesday


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Saturday Stupids

No snow so let's go.

Josh Lanier Is Running

So sayeth the Insider.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Where Is The Line?

I'm certainly not shy about criticism. In these parts there is a whole section dedicated to criticism (and to be fair sometimes promotion) of local media.

Andisheh Nouraee's Creative Loafing article on the tactics of Steve Gower and the Midtown Neighborhood Association's towards prostitutes in the midtown area created quite a firestorm of conversation across Atlanta blogs.

In particular, it has placed myself and my friends Amber Rhea and Rusty Tanton on opposite sides. Despite some of the heat which has been let loose I think something interesting can emerge.

What is bias? What is promotion of a certain point of view? Should writers be limited in using certain descriptors? Where is the line?

Instead of putting your thoughts here, come on over to Amber's place and join the discussion.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Look South

We are days away from the Florida primaries and on the Republican side the soothsayers are mumbling their prognostications. The latest St. Pete Times poll has Guiliani in a distant 3rd behind McCain and Romney. From non-stop ads to bus tours from Tallahassee to Tarpon Springs, Mayor Rudy wants to make Florida his Alamo. But just like those hopelessly outnumbered Texicans, the bones portend doom for the candidate.

Another thing to remember, Florida is the first — THE FIRST — state where only Republicans can vote for these candidates. Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan, South Carolina, and even Nevada allowed independents to vote in the Republican primaries and caucuses. These independent voters have helped propel McCain to where he is now. McCain can’t count on that support.

So reports The State of Sunshine - a Tampa area blog which usually has a good feel for Florida politics. In fact the SOS boys are predicting a two way race between Guiliani and Romney.

The strange visions of political junkies? Maybe. But remember just how right the big boys and girls were about New Hampshire.

A Couple of Programming Notes

In addition to some little primary thing on February 5th, there are a couple of events the first week of the second month which might interest you, my gentle readers.

On February 7th, Shelby, myself and old media hipsters Southern Report's Tom Baxter and's John Helton will be participating in a panel discussion for the Atlanta Press Club. The topic is How Electronic Media Is Affecting Political Campaigns. Should be a lively discussion.


When: Thursday, February 7 6:30- networking7 - 8:30PM
Where: The Commerce Club 34 Broad St.Atlanta, GA 30303

The very next day you can attend one of the premier social media events in the southeast.

SoCon '08

"Network and learn — and maybe even partner — with independent content producers, new media pros, academics and people from across the spectrum of marketing, public relations, legal, human resources and executive ranks."

It's gonna be a helluva week. See you there!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Grady Bills

I was going to write something on the Grady bills today but in a strange twist of fate, I'm very ill. So, instead I will direct you to the blog of the primary sponsor Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth) for details.

Just a few comments from me.

Senate Resolution 722 creates a Grady Oversight Committee. First proposed in 1999 by then Senator David Scott, legislative oversight has been persistently opposed by those who run Grady.
The language of this resolution is drawn directly from MARTOC, the legislative oversight committee for MARTA. The entities are very analagous. Both MARTA and Grady are huge metropolitan institutions which receive no funding from the state - although that may change for Grady.

MARTOC still generates discomfort among some since MARTA remains the only major public transportation system in the country without any state funding. However, even critics have to acknowledge having the white hot light of higher scrutiny on the struggling system resulted in improvement including a revenue surplus in 2006.

The second resolution involves conflicts of interest.

Senate Bill 353 the Public Hospital Integrity Act, prevents those with a financial tie to either Grady or a major vendor of Grady from serving in a governing capacity for the hospital. This bill will help make sure that Grady’s board gives its loyalty to Grady as an institution and not to those who do business with Grady. Senator David Adelman, Vicent Fort and Kasim Reed are among the Democrats who cosponsored the bill.
The most frequent reaction to this bill is "it isn't already there?" No, unbelievably it isn't. But also note the co-sponsors include vociferous "privatization" critic Sen. Vincent Fort. The coalition is beginning to come together.

Finally, this week Sen. Shafer will sponsor resolutions regarding the sustainability of Grady. Although appropriations originate in the House, no doubt these will in some way address the $55 million Governor Perdue wants dedicated to a state-wide trauma network.

Sen. Shafer communicates to the Drift that this legislation should alleviate the concerns of those suspicious of oversight without funding as well as create a plan for Grady to become self-sustaining.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Georgia Politics Podcast Episode 15

New Georgia Politics Podcast is up.

Joe, Catherine, JosephG and me, grift to the d, poke fun at candidate Dale Cardwell, how Georgia is back in play for the Presidential primaries and the craziness known as Sembler.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Georgia Gang Howler Of The Week

Who else? Phil Kent in his winners and losers segment.
I'm sorry. I know the holiday is right on us but the Martin Luther King Center running the fountain...that's a real loser. They're supposed to be stopping using the water.

Jeff Dickerson then pointed out they are recycling the same water. Kent's response? "I don't care."

Always the master of timing and taste is our Phil.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Saturday Stupids

Let it snow, let it snow.

Friday, January 18, 2008

My Morning Wooten

I've been lazy the last few days. I'll be honest, I'm still not feeling the mojo. But there is one item this morning which I can't let pass.
State Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-Atlanta) would allow communities to hold referendums and become limited-authority townships. They wouldn’t have power to condemn property, but could control construction, land use and liquor and contract for services. It’s a concept that should have been embraced long ago. Communities need to be able to control their own space. And residents should be able to get a real person — real and responsive — on the telephone. Atlanta is too big for individuals to matter.
Damn right it should have been embraced a long time ago. Like maybe last year when Democrat David Adelman's township bill was squashed by a Republican controlled Senate.

Funny how now that it is pushed by newly minted Republican Mike Jacobs it's the idea of the century.

Do you really have to wonder why occasionally I just get sick and tired of this crap?

CORRECTION: A senate insider emailed to remind me that Adelman's bill did pass the Senate 41-10 with most of the nays being Democrats. The bill actually died in the house. Also Adelman was part of Lt. Gov. Cagle's reach across the aisle plan and even though he is in the minority was given a committee chair.

God help Hazinski's probably going to use this in a future lecture.


Songs In My Head

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Georgia Gang Howler Of The Week

Yeah I'm a little late this week. I wasn't even going to bother but there were two things which could not pass.

On the recent Supreme Court hearing on Indiana's voter id law, Phil Kent (of course it's Phil Kent) claimed that particular law was virtually identical to Georgia's law. Jeff Dickerson correctly noted Georgia's law was amended to provide for a free ID and Indiana did not have that provision. Kent popped back the Indiana AG argued anyone could just walk down the street and get one.

Even for a dweeb like me this is not hard. The only hard fast mention of voting in the U.S. Constitution is the 24th Amendment which prevents poll taxes. Simply put, you cannot charge a person to vote. In Georgia, the main id is the driver's license which the state charges a fee - arguably creating a fee to vote. Georgia quickly avoided a constitutional fight by providing free ids to those who lacked. As far as I know Indiana has not.

It may seem a minor point but it is a critical one. If the plaintiffs can convince the court the only way certain voters can exercise their right is to pay a fee the law is patently unconstitutional. So they are not "virtually the same".

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't Phil Kent a lawyer?

Finally, Dick Williams couldn't resist taking a stab at Hillary Clinton by rolling out that old canard about Sen. Clintion claiming to be named after recently deceased moutaineer Sir Edmund Hillary. Too bad what Dick claimed is not exactly true.

You know, that little fairy tale has almost reached the level of "Al Gore invented the internet" as a tactic for certain pundits to give whatever constituency they have left the loin shivers.

Lets Get It Started

Okay, they are back in town and I'm back in town. Time to get down to bidness.

On Wilson's show yesterday I mentioned a place where you can watch the General Assembly online but couldn't remember the address. Well it's on GPB's website. You can watch today's State of the State at 2:00pm at

Also you may notice over on the right Georgia Legislative Watch has been moved back to the top of the Georgia Voices. The boys at the GLW are the best to keep up with the large, the small and the everything in between.

Let's start porkin!

What Is Goin' On: Griftdrift On Primaries and Porkers

Even though I was hungover from bad run of cards, I woke up early yesterday morning to chat with Wilson about the crazy presidential primaries and the potential crazy upcoming legislature.

Take a listen here.

...By The Riverside

Although I've railed against his hippie socialist ass on many occasions, I remember the day I first emailed John Sugg. This was back in those primordial days when even email was new and fresh. Yes, children it hasn't always been around.

It went something like this.

"Good stuff".

I was surprised the response came in less than five minutes. The reply?


Oh, screw getting maudlin. He's only half-ass retiring.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tunica: Day Four - Bleh

Event 14

Entry: $1000

Entrants: 140

Finish: Somewhere in the middle

Let's just not talk about it. Let's just leave it at it was one of those days where you get the feeling nothing is going to go right and then doesn't.

But I did get to play with this guy which was pretty cool.

Enough poker. Time to go home. After all the legislature awaits.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Tunica: Day Four - The Big One

Today is the first $1000 entry. This is the one I've wanted to play since I got here. But given my poor runs of the past few days it's time to pull out the big mojo. Despite the 30 degree weather, it's time for the PBR t-shirt.

Tunica: Day Three - Stax

I'll admit as I stood in Studio A listening to the session tapes of Dock Of The Bay and gazing at photos of the late Otis Redding, I choked up a little.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Tunica: Day Two - Not Deep Enough

Event 12

Buy-in: $700

Entrants: 380

Finish: 70

It was a long day but not long enough.

For the first three hours, I was stuck in neutral. I was never higher than my starting chip stack but never low enough to be in true danger. Somewhere in this malaise I reached a new level of poker enlightment.

Almost exactly one year ago, in my first live multi-table tournament, I discovered the level of tired - the point where you are doing something continuously and the untrained mind begins to wander. In that larval stage, my thoughts turned to how comforting it would be to not be playing poker - to be back in my hotel room.

Mired in mediocrity, yesterday I reached this point after only a few hours. Frustrated, I mentally committed to just getting the hell out. Then the wheel turned and the old surrender turned into a new fight. I remembered and old poker maxim - in order to live, you must be willing to die. One year ago, I wanted to die, but on this day, I wanted to live.

I immediately became more aggressive, eliminated two players and by the time I was moved to a new table had built my stack up to 25,000.

The new table had several short stacks and only one really dangerous big stack. It would be the sight of my greatest triumph and my greatest failure.

I played with one of the players at this table the night before and felt I had a good read on him. I knew he liked to gamble. Not crazy gamble but I knew he would raise in late position with less than premium hands.

With me in the small blind and this player in the cutoff, he popped for three times the big blind. I looked down at a pair of eights. There's a couple of ways to play this but more about that later. I immediately knew exactly how I would play this hand all the way through. It's a clarity that some players refer to as the zone. Also Sara was standing just behind me and our recent intense discussion on playing pocket pairs may have influenced my play.

I re-raised. He called. The flop was A-8-x. Now for the twist. I had decided to bet out no matter what the flop contained and I stuck with the plan. Most would check here hoping he would push but I wanted to make like I was trying to steal. I bet out 9000. He immediately pushed all in and I immediately called. He never caught and suddenly I was up to nearly 60,000.

Later, Sara told me that I would have been in trouble if the 8 hadn't hit on the flop. I told her I would have played it the same way. She seemed shocked but I explained that I felt I knew him and if the flop was a bad one (which it was not) I would have easily pushed him off. But if it was a good one for him (which it was) I still would have put him to a test. Sometimes you just have to test another player - risk dying to live.

Not long after this critical hand came another pair. This time I had pocket tens in early position. I popped the pot wanting to take it down right there but not averse to some action. I got one caller. The flop came K-J-8. Not a good flop for me and my brain froze. I checked.

First mistake. Never give up the inititiative. The caller had about 17k left and immediately pushed. Since I gave up the initiative I should have taken my lumps and surrendered right there. Instead what followed was a horror of hubris and ignorance.

I felt I had a read on him. I felt he caught the 8 and not the face cards. For the first half hour I sat at this new table he had been a stone cold silent gargoyle. Now suddenly he was talking. Laughing. Taunting me. This didn't seem right so I called. He casually flipped over a K-Q. I didn't improve and was suddenly back down to around 30,000.

Over dinner break, three things about this hand haunted me.

After the hand for the next hour, the silent gargoyle turned into a jolly joke-making round ball of Russian. What I saw during the hand was not a tell. It was his real personality. If the hand had happened even 10 minutes later I might have made the correct read. Instead, my arrogance led me to believe I knew what I did not.

Worse, I did not pay attention to my presence in the tournament and tournament management is one of my strengths. If I had taken the time to glance at one of the tournament monitors I would have seen I was easily above the tournament average in chips with only 80 players left and the money in sight. These factors would have certainly mitigated my risk.

And worsest, I destroyed my table image. After the 8's play, I was a strong player willing to make strong plays with a large stack - the kind of player everyone steps around carefully. After the foolish 10's call, I was just another cowboy willing to risk too much on too little. To everyone else I wasn't quite an idiot but I was close.

Then things only got worse. Immediately after dinner break I was moved to a table which had several monster stacks. I was a mouse in the company of elephants.

Now with only 22k and the blinds increased again, I had to find a place to get all my chips in and double up. On about the fourth hand with the big stack in the big blind, I looked down at J-J. I pushed. He called with pocket 4's. Perfect. Then the board made a straight and we chopped the pot. On a hand which should have pushed me up to 40k, I had made exactly half the blinds and antes.

Just a few minutes later the same guy took me out. Same situation but he had just been in a hand which cost him half his stack. When I pushed he really agonized. He easily had me covered but I could tell it was weighing on his mind that two hits in a row would hurt. He finally called and flipped over 10-J. I flipped over A-9. There was a jack right in the window and no ace in sight.

The end is always so sudden. One second you are alive and the next you are dead. I knew I had been a wraith for a while so I had little hope but it still hurt. I had been on the cusp of going very deep and had no one but myself to blame. But with poker, re-incarnation is only the next entry fee away.

Today, I'm taking a mini-break. I'm going to watch Sara in the ladies event, then head to Memphis to visit the Stax Studio museum. Then I'll re-incarnate at the $200 buy-in later this evening.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Tunica: Day One - Crapshoot

Event 11

Buy-in: $300

Entrants: 1000

Finish: Somewhere in the middle

As we entered the registration area an hour before the starting time, the line snaked through the roped queue. When we returned 55 minutes later, it was five times longer. As the event started, players were still registering. Welcome to the perfect storm of a WSOP event with a low buy-in on a friday afternoon. When all was done, there were exactly 1000 players. Including myself and sarawara.

The experienced players hoped the new structure with a starting count of 10,000 chips would balance out some of the chaos but a few hours in even the hard core were wondering about the upside of wading through such a large field for such a potential small payday. The tourney would pay down to 72 and the bottom of the money would only pay a little over 500 bucks. Was it really worth it to play for 14 hours then have to come back the next day for such a small margin?

My day started well. I took down a couple of good sized pots and worked my way up to 15,000. I continued my usual small ball and was close to 20 grand when I was moved to a new table. Very few hands in, I picked up A-K offsuit in the small blind. The table had been playing together for a while and had the relaxed feel of a home game. Everyone knew the habits of all the others except for one. The new guy. Me.

There were a couple of callers making the pot just rich enough for me to make a move. I raised from the small blind. The big blind called and the rest folded. The flop was A-K-x. Wanting to fake weakness I led out with what appeared to be a scared bet. The big blind called immediately. The turn was another king. Now I had him. But this time I checked. Big blind checked also. The river was a total rag and it was time to try to make some money. I made a value bet of about 40% of the pot and that got the big blind to talking. He said he didn't think I had anything and that's when I knew I had him. He called, I turned over the Kings full of Aces and raked the pot. Unfortunately, you usually only get one good play like that at a table. Now everyone knew my game.

The end came as it always does - with horrible injustice. I bounced around from 17,000 to 22,000 for the next hour. With the blinds still relatively low and about to slow down even further, I was in pretty good position to make a move and go much deeper.

I picked up KK in the big blind. It folded around to the button, a charming young woman I had already pegged as a gambler, who called. So did the small blind. The pot was now big enough that taking it down would be a tidy profit but I wanted more. I raised an enticing amount hoping for action. The button obliged but the small blind got out of the way.

The flop was A-K-7 (two diamonds). A more beautiful flop was never seen. I put the button on some sort of Ace and this was the opportunity to double up. I bet out, she raised enough to put me all in, I immediately called. She suddenly said, "I know you've got me but I want to gamble". As I flipped over my set of cowboys a cold knot formed in my stomach because I knew she didn't have an Ace. She turned over Q-J of diamonds. The fifth diamond came on the river completing her flush and knocking me out.

It certainly didn't seem fair but when does it? I went from a sure double up to zero in the time it took the dealer to turn oer some raggedy old diamond. Then again, as I walked out of the room I looked at the mass that remained and realized the crapshoot had only begun and the snake eyes could have come many exhausting hours later.

Later that night, on a full stomach of New York strip, I wandered back into the poker room to play in a $100 turbo and spotted the girl who took me out. She caught my eye, laughed and said if she won the whole thing she'd find me to give me a little something. I laughed and gave her a thumbs up. Three hours later she was still somewhere in the dwindling mass of people and I finished 7th out of a field of 76 to almost make back all the money I had lost for the day.

And the beat goes on. Day two brings a $700 entry event. Of course I'm playing.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Tunica: Day One

Today. $300 buy-in.

They've changed the structure radically to favor a more strategic brand of poker. This should favor my game. We'll see. Also a similar event on Monday had over 700 people.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Arrival Tunica

Normally 6.5 hours. Today it took 8.5 hours. The wonderful weather you are now experiencing is what I drove through today. A tornado touched down only ten miles from me at one point. If I had stayed on the highway I would have driven right into it. Fortunately I found a little country cafe in Eldridge, Al and some very nice people let me hole up for an hour.

Now I'm finally in Tunica and forgive me but I need a drink. Or six.

Departure Atlanta

With the legislature rolling into town next week, I feel the need to prep by going to a place where people are cautious with money and completely honest. I'm going to a casino.

See you in a little while.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Ouchie! They'se Hurtin' Me!

UGA journalism professor David Hazinski has responded to Athens Banner Herald editor Jim Thompson's commentary on trust and citizen journalism.

Instead of responding to this retread of his previous strawman, i.e. citizen surgeons, laced column, let us focus on one telling passage.

My question turned into an Atlanta Journal-Constitution op-ed column, which turned into what Athens Banner-Herald Editorial Page Editor Jim Thompson called a "minor firestorm in the blogosphere." He's right about that. Since writing that column, I've been called everything you can think of and many things that can be published only on the Internet.
Really? Well, since I read practically every Georgia blog daily, I was shocked, shocked I say, to realize I missed this venting of the spleens. As the great Steve Earle once said, "maybe I was off somewhere or just too high".

So let's look back at some of descriptions of Hazinski.

On this very blog he and his article were described as "hysterical" and "chicken little".

At JMacs he was accused of going "overboard".

Now I will admit there was one blog outside our little state pond who called Hazinski a "fascist".

But one has to wonder how Hazinski can sleep at night with his eyes so filled with tears from such deep, deep hurts.

But he wasn't asleep was he? He was too busy figuring a new way to spin his myopic view of the online world. Instead of continuing the conversation he started, instead of addressing the points Georgia bloggers raised, Hazinski chose to fall back on the old canard of bloggers are just a bunch of potty mouth monkeys flinging crap at the walls.

Hazinski doesn't consider me a journalist? Fine. I didn't consider him one either. He chose myth and exaggeration instead of the facts. Journalism? Guess we can add spewing fairy tales to the definition of that much debated word.

Friday, January 04, 2008

For Your Listening Pleasure

I'm on the road again until Monday.

In the meantime, Doug checks in from New York. Give a listen to him and Wilson.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Hazinski Wars

The dust up is far from over.

While most of us were on vacation, Athens Banner Herald Editorial Page Editor Jim Thompson wrote a wonderful response to Hazinski's fear screed.
In the end, then, whatever the media platform, what it means to be a journalist today is what it always has meant...It's not a matter of training...It's a matter of trust.
Can we all give a hearty Amen?

Read the whole thing. Thompson gets it. I mean he really gets it. I tend to vacillate between believing old media (particularly print for some reason) is the devil to sympathetically thinking it's a wayward soul needing guidance back to the path of righteousness.

Hazinski makes me smell sulfur. Thompson makes me search for the light.

And the beat goes on. Hazinski has submitted a response to Thompson's piece which will be printed in the ABH sometime over the next few days. Can't wait.

My Morning Wooten

My God. Jim and I agree 100%.
The correct answer is Romney and Clinton. Iowa’s about organization and Romney and Clinton are most effectively organized there to turn out their supporters.

One caveat though. Obama may pull it out due to the weird survivor-style caucus rules of the Democrats.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Where Amazing Happens

My goodness. I just couldn't resist promoting this from the comments. 2008 - barely out of the gate.

For the record my Democratic friends. I ain't done it. But it does make me giggle.

Groundhog Dale

Only one day into 2008 and we have a candidate for most ridiculous story of the year. Senate hopefull Dale Cardwell is sitting on top of a smokestack vowing to remain until we all "hear his message".

Right now, he’s huddling beneath a tarp in a sleeping bag — and not on his web cam...“I’m going to try to wait for it to warm up a bit before I emerge,” he said. Cardwell suspects that will be about noon, when the sun gets to his side of the tower — which he found wobbles a bit in the wind.
If he sees his shadow will it mean six more years of winter for the Democrats?