Friday, October 31, 2008

The Election - Flotsam and Jetsam

PSC District 4 - I have been asked why I have not made an endorsement in the PSC. Easy answer. I honestly didn't know if Jim Powell would even remain on the ballor. Now that the mess is finally cleaned up...

In the only PSC race that matters (just vote libertarian in the other opposed one), you get to choose between a man who has lived a greased palmed career of politics and a political neophyte who has lived a career studying energy policy.

Easy choice.

VOTE Jim Powell

Court of Appeals - Clown car alert! There are 6? 7? 8? God I don't know how many people running for this office? We're going to have a runoff, so we'll get more detailed at that time. For the moment, just pick a horse to get to the next race.

VOTE Michael Meyer von Bremen or Chris McFadden. MvB is my personal choice.

Dekalb Referendum to Limit the powers of the CEO - And the final stinkbomb of the Vernon Jones era explodes. The CEO is a benevolent dictator but despite the eccenticities of some of the maniacs holding the office, it's always worked. Now, they want to rein in that power. The concessions asked for are reasonable and even incoming CEO Burrell Ellis agrees with the measure. And I'm tired of trying to make the "trains run on time" argument.

VOTE Yes to limit the Dekalb CEO's power

There are hundreds of other ballot thingies out there. Use this weekend to research your own local issues. And if you stumble across some arcane fever dream that only a politician could birth, your default position should always be NO.

Write In Rusty!

If you live in Cobb County, vote Rusty Tanton for Tax Commissioner!

Psssssst. You'll have to write him in.

Democratic Town Hall

I attended a town hall yesterday where Democratic candidates Jim Martin and Jim Powell spoke.

Instead of doing some fancy write up, I turn you over to the videos of Shelby.

To my libertarian brothers and sisters, pay close attention to the passion with which Martin answers the final question.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Powell On The Ballot

Once again the Ginger Flash is too quick for your humble scribe.

The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled Democrat Jim Powell will be on the ballot as a candidate for Public Service Commission.

Not surprisigly as my legal sources had predicted, the ruling is based on "error of law". A little surprisingly, it was a unanimous ruling.

Can't wait to read the opinion.

UPDATE: Having now read the decision, I can honestly say it's a good one. They threaded the needle. I'll let the legal people get into the down and dirty analysis.

UPDATE II: You can read the decision for yourself here.

The Election - The President

On paper, I should have voted for Hillary Clinton.

But I didn't.

On paper, I should vote for Bob Barr or even John McCain.

But I won't.

We stand at one of those moments which will live forever - a point of divergence. It is an instant where the usual fodder of elections - tax policy, spending policy, big vs. small government - must be put aside in order to view life in a greater perspective.

We are at a time where America's standing in the world has a chance to be restored. We can begin to undo the damage of eight years of disastrous foreign policy. We can reinforce the entire planet's belief that America is a place where although we tend to show our flaws right out in the open, we eventually do the right thing.

Also, there is a political party in our system which must be forced to endure the soul searching it so desperately needs. It must reflect on what it once was, what it has become and what it may become. Our system works best when both parties display strength tempered by reason and one party faces the abyss of obscurity if it is not reminded of this balance.

It is time for a fundamental realignment.

It is simply time.

VOTE Barack Obama

The Election - The Senate

One man will try to invade your pocketbook and your bedroom.

One man will try to invade your pocketbook but not your bedroom.

One man will do his damnedest to do neither.

Now, more than any time in your life, is the moment to make a stand. Send a message about the things that really matter.

VOTE Allen Buckley.

When the runoff gets here, we'll talk again.

Next: The President

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Election - 8th Congressional District

(Editor's Note: I will only write about the 8th. If you believe any of the other races are close, feel free to post in the comments, where I'll probably laugh at you)

It would be tempting to use the mule rule here, but Democrat Jim Marshall has been involved in enough high profile issues over the last two years to merit a closer look.

Marshall drives progressives absolutely wild. He voted against the children's healthcare program Peachcare. He supported the Iraq war and the surge. Hell, he touts a cozy relationship with right wing talk shows in his radio ads.

Progressives will tell you he needs to challenged to push him to be more Democrat-like. Realists will tell you in order for any Democrat to win the 8th district, a candidate has to be Republican-lite.

Despite all the weirdness of Marshall's stances, none of them are the white elephant. None of them should be the determining factor.

The true outlier is the bailout.

It was one of those votes where if your re-election is fairly safe you can vote for the thing and weather the consequences or if you are in trouble, it is an opportunity to spout populist rhetoric to stir up the passions of the anti-Washington/Wall Street crowd. Very few voted simply in a way which they believed was right.

It takes a brave man to run as a Democrat in a district so ardently Republican. It takes a braver man to cast a critical vote which may destroy his political career.

I do not know if the bailout is wisdom or folly. Only time will tell if it was a necessary evil or a tremendous boondoggle. However, I do know that it provided Jim Marshall with yet another opportunity to display a willingness to do the difficult instead of the convenient.

That particular trait is a rare commodity in politics these days. Agree or disagree with the particulars of the politics, but we should all agree the 8th and Georgia is fortunate to possess a representative with this type of resolve.

VOTE Jim Marshall.

What Is Goin' On: Pye On The Election

Whoooooooooo! This is a fun one. Wilson and Jason light up the airwaves with some frank talk about wages, taxes and their views of what's fair.

It's a good one!

Listen here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Crist Goes Off The Reservation

Florida Governor Charlie Crist extends voting hours. Republicans are not happy.
"He just blew Florida for John McCain," one plugged in Florida Republican just told me.
The opening salvos of the coming Republican civil war are being fired.

The Election - House 81

Someone recently said, "nothing turns off an independent faster than negative campaigning". That's gospel.

If the campaign for House District 81 were about Republican Jill Chambers record as a reformer of MARTA, advocate of a woman's right to choose or her obstinate battle to throw cold water on the rush to create the city of Dunwoody, this bit of political writing would quickly conclude with the simple "Vote Chambers".

Unfortunately for the voters of north Dekalb, Georgia and the state of politics in general, instead the battle for the 81st is about mailers.

Jill Chambers has never shied from rough politicking. As Rusty put it, she plays with her "cleats up".

But her initial mailer implying that Democratic challenger Chris Huttman was involved in "hard core pornography" was absurd. More troubling, Chambers response to Creative Loafing was a lame non-denial denial followed by the politician's karmic band-aid of "that's politics".

In 2000, John McCain begged George Bush to stop the push polling implying McCain had fathered an interracial child. Bush responded, "That's politics, John. Senator, it's just politics."

At this point, the final line changes to "Vote Huttman".

Then they had to bring mamas into it.

Huttman has never been known to take jabs lightly. He recently responded with his own mailer accusing Chambers of trying to cover up medical lobby influence on her CON vote by telling a "sob story" about her mother's battle with cancer.

Now, much as certain writers frame their product through the perspective of life experience, legislators certainly use life experience to weight support for policy. It is true sometimes particular life experiences may result from a close relationship with cold hard cash, but if you're going to allege the graft is being obfuscated by an ill mama, you better be sure.

Now the final line shifts back to "Vote Chambers".

Rep. Chambers responded with an email decrying Huttman's use of her now deceased mother. And if she'd stopped right there, she might have been back on the side of the Lord.

Instead, Chambers went on to use the tragedy of her mother's death to attempt to justify her politics. That's not framing politics through life experience. That's playing politics with things that should remain most personal.

The only thing worse than taking a shot at an ill mama is using a dead mama as a political prop.

I also lost my mother to cancer. I rarely talk about it - even to my closest friends. I try to stay grounded in cold reality when talking politics and I understand that politicians will say damn near anything to get elected, but I just can't get my head around this one. There is no scenario where I can conceive of using the story of my mother pain for personal gain. It just ain't right.

I wish the 81st race was about the issues. Rep. Chambers has been an effective legislator. I believe Chris Huttman has the potential to be an effective legislator. They could have had a soaring debate on what really matters to the citizens of north Dekalb.

Instead we are left with choosing the one we consider the least dirty.

I really wish I could tell you to just skip past this one and if you do, you will find no criticism here. But one of them has to be elected.

The final line is "Vote Huttman".

CORRECTION: A reader pointed out my inaccuracy in the quote from 2000 and points to this article which implies McCain's outrage was directed at scurrilous accusations from a fringe veteran's group. I'm not sure it is clear which smear McCain was actually referencing but the general point of the moment remains. Any version of that's politics is not a response I ever want to hear.

Next: 8th Congressional District

The Election - House 80

(Editor's note - I will only be writing about two legislature races. If you are interested in others the comment section is all yours)

A race with an actual independent! How exciting!

Not really.

Last spring, a vibrant, young knight whooshed into Georgia offering oodles of money for the battle against the traitorous, line jumper Mike Jacobs (R-80). Unfortunately, for Democrats in north Dekalb, young squire Keith Gross had a problem hidden beneath his paper mache' armor. He wasn't qualified to run in the 80th district.

Not unqualified in a let's-dive-into-the-legal-minutae Jim Powell kind of way - full bore unqualified.

Gross quietly slinked away and Democrats pulled their collective heads out of their asses quickly enough to run aforementioned posteriors around the district collecting signatures for a write-in candidate.

Michelle Conlon's (I-InNameOnlyLand) only campaign issue seems to be she's not Mike Jacobs.

Meanwhile, Mike Jacobs, he who roiled the waters by jumping to the elephants last year, spent most of the last session acting like the new playtoy for the fat cats running the joint. He voted for Glenn Richardson's (R-Parts Unknown) crazy ass tax plan. He voted for a particularly vile anti-abortion amendment that nearly scuttled the vital Grady plan.

It is to be expected that one newly minted into a political party spend some time playing punching bag on the harsher things in political life, but with those two votes, Jacobs pushed the line and possibly hurt his moderate cred for future races.

Mike you get a pass this time. But have care. Folks will watch your next actions with a new level of scrutiny.

VOTE Mike Jacobs

Next: House District 81

My Morning Wooten

McGuire best pick for Court of Appeals


Even true north Republican Erick Erickson isn't so sure.
I shouldn’t say this, but I will. At what point does Perry McGuire become a perennial candidate? How many times lately has he run for a statewide office?
I'm just wondering. What is the going price at the AJC for rewording a press release?

I'm available.

Friday, October 24, 2008

On The Road Again

No Wooten. No more electioning. I'm off to south Georgia for the FSU-Va Tech game. We'll get back in the nastiness next week.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Moultrie Observer Goes Large

I usually reserve my linkings to my hometown paper for such funsies as a dude riding a lawn mower down main street, but honestly this is a disservice to a fine news organization. It's small but the Observer is one of the best main street papers we have in this state.

With the Senate race suddenly taking on national prominence, the Observer is drawing attention from other parts.

Uber-blogger Matt Yglesias linked to an Observer story on Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

That's awesome. But I can't help but envision some poor servers in South Georgia melting through the floor.

h/t: Jmac

The Election - Amendment III

"Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to authorize the General Assembly to provide by general law for the creation and comprehensive regulation of infrastructure development districts for the provision of infrastructure as authorized by local governments"

Infrastructure development districts are private cities. There is no way to get around this fact.

In brief, an IDD gives a private developer access to such government tools as tax free bonds to build infrastructure such as sewers, water treatment, roads and even fire stations. The developer recoups the bond payments by charging a fee, similar to an association fee, to the individual home owners.

The IDD must still be approved by the local governing body such as a county commission, it still must comply with zoning and regulation and the home owners must still pay property tax.

So why would anyone want to do this?

Small municipalities have difficulty, even through SPLOST, raising enough capital for massive infrastructure expansion. The IDD removes this burden and places it on the developer.

Developers get a break in financing by having the ability to access tools usually available only to cities and counties.

Residents pay a little more than they would in a regular community but have the privelege of living conveniently near an Applebees, Kroger and multi-island gas station. You'd be surprised how compelling these amenities are to someone who has to drive miles to get a decent, going out on the town meal.

So what's the problem?

If you listen to the Sierra Club, it's a potential sprawl nightmare. If you listen to the risk adverse, it's a potential financial boondoggle which could wipe a local governments right off the map.

In these days of dark sheltering after the orgy of sprawl, offering new development willy nilly should certainly be a concern, but tell that to someone who has to drive thirty miles to get to a Kroger. It's also a version of sprawl rarely seen in Georgia.

I've visited "The Villages" near Oxford, Florida. It is true within the compound (it's hard to describe it any other way), you will see houses jammed so close together neighbors can pass a cup of sugar from one kitchen window to another and the oasis's of retail are pockets of pavement and box stores. But if you travel just a few miles up U.S. 301, you are immediately back in the rolling pastures of central Florida. The sprawl is contained like a virus.

Also, remember, local and state environmental regulations will still be in effect. This is not a free pass to developers and frankly, the Sierra Club's vague reaction here feels like a hammer-on-the-knee kick at the "evil builders".

The possibility of a developer defaulting is much more of a concern. It has happened in states such as Florida, although not very often, and it is always a mess. In this scenario the debt falls back on the local municipality and remember they are the ones who couldn't afford it when it wasn't under water. If the locals can't pay or can't find the scoundrel who skipped town, it defaults back to the state. But guess what happens right now if a local municipality defaults and crashes - it falls back on the state. This is the reason the legislature has to approve such things as the city of Johns Creek setting up a Parks Department. If Johns Creek goes belly up, the state is on the line for the payments.

So, the defaulting process is not that much different than it is now but the default itself could be much deeper than normal and that should be a concern.

But before we decide, let's get back to our basic tests.

First, the issue is extending government powers to private entities and there is no doubt that is a constititutional level question.

Second, it undoubtedly makes the Constitution more complicated (although less than other amendments) so the amendment must show the benefit is greater than the sin.

To answer that question, you must weigh the benefits rural communities would receive against the potential risk of developer malfeasance.

Having seen these "private cities" work in Florida and I mean work for everyone (developers make oodles of money, homeowners live with convenience, governments get more tax money), it is my belief the potential benefits far outweigh the potentials sins.

VOTE YES on Amendment III.

UPDATE: For another view here is an article by Chuck Bonner of Hiking with Chuck.

Next: House Race 80 and 81

To view amendments in their entirety please go here

What Is Goin' On: Griftdrift On The Election

Wilson and I talk about the big one, Colin Powell, the Senate race and Jim Marshall.

Take a listen here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My Afternoon Jay

A new feature!

How do you like the title?

Jay Bookman has finally been dragged into the sloppy little world of blogging and all I can say is thank God! I've alway thought Bookman's style was perfectly suited for a blog and was sorely disappointed when I heard he was reluctant.

I will admit that there probably won't be as much Bookman as there is Wooten because even though he is slightly left of me, I agree with him most of the time. Also, he's far less strident than his counterpart.

That does not mean I will not task him when it is deserved.
Does “real America” drop 75 grand at Neiman Marcus? Does “small-town America” shop at Saks Fifth Avenue?
Now, Ms. Palin did set herself up for this punchline with all the latest, greatest right-wing us against them populist rhetoric. But first, there's the real world fact that until we get past certain social silos and practicalities in fashion spurred by those mores, women will face the insidious double standard of being required to spend more money and time to appear "appropriate".

More importantly, the entire thing is just another stupid distraction along the lines of such tangential issues as associations with Ayers and Wright.

Can we take a moment to stop talking about the shiney things and instead focus on things that really matter.

I was torn about even posting on this story, in part because it’s only natural that Palin and her family would need a wardrobe upgrade to play the parts they’ve been handed on the national stage. Washington ain’t Wasilla.
Is that a tinge of regret? Well, Jay, at least I can say this is something you rarely see in my morning giggings.

And welcome to the community.

My Morning Wooten

Freeman's head is going to explode.
Without doubt, we are seeing the end of public financing in presidential campaigns. When this election rolls around, the money raised and spent by the Obama campaign will have rolled it into the morgue with Prohibition.
True dat.

The rest is the usual blather about Ayers, buying elections and other Republican mad libs.

But I guess Jim and I agree on one thing this morning. Let the market rule, eh Jim?

Not The Best Response

From Dick Pettys report on the PSC debate at the Atlanta Press Club, Libertarian Brandon Givens asked a question of Democrat Jim Powell which he apparently meant for Republican Lauren McDonald. When moderator John Pruitt gently corrected the situation by redirecting the question to McDonald, he responded.
I didn’t listen to the question because it wasn’t addressed to me.
He wasn't paying attention. It's lines like that make the lives of campaign managers shorter than most.

The Election - Amendment II

"Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to authorize community redevelopment and authorize counties, municipalities, and local boards of education to use tax funds for redevelopment purposes and programs?"

This is a tough one.

Welcome to TAD land.

TADs are Tax Allocation Districts. The concept is local school districts allow funds raised through property tax, usually dedicated to education, to be used for infrastructure development. The theory is with these improvements overall property value will rise offsetting or even exceeding the original investment.

In Georgia, the Legislature passed law to allow TADs in 1985. Unfortunately, our good representatives on the hill were a little sloppy with the wording and when Atlanta's "Beltline TAD" was challenged in court last year, the Supremes gave it a 9-0 unconstitutional smackdown.

As the "Beltline" was not only the largest TAD ever proposed in the state of Georgia and theorized as the engine which could simultaneously make use of hundreds of acres of unused rail right of ways, spur development in needy areas and alleviate the city's choking transportation problem, the sudden stripping away of this common funding tool bordered on disastrous.

Amendment II is an effort to correct this constitutional mess.

Given the standards we set in the discussion of Amendment I, this may seem an easy call. TADS certainly seem to complicate the tax system.

The problem is TADs work.

The best example is Atlantic Station. At the time the largest reclamation of "brown space" in the nation, this TAD turned a toxic industrial site into a multi-use mixed development of bowling alleys, restaurants, condos and corporate offices. According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the increase in property value in just 8 years was an astonishing 7,213%. Money flowed not only back into the always strapped Fulton County School system, but dramatic increase in sales tax revenue helped every municipality involved.

There are many more success stories on a much smaller scale. TADs have been an overwhelming success for over 20 years primarily because local school boards have been good stewards of money spent for your children. Just last year, the Dekalb County School District opted to not fund the potentially disastrous Sembler/Druid Hills redevelopment project.

Ultimately, Amendment II is where the rubber meets the road between principle and realism. So, you're going to get a little wiggle room on this one.

If you believe a stand has to be made for simplification in the tax code and the Constitution, Vote NO.

If you believe this is not an addition to a cluttered Constitution but a minor correction to preserve something that is a proven success, VOTE YES.

Next: Amendment III

To view amendments in their entirety please go here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Election - Amendment I

"Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to provide that the General Assembly by general law shall encourage the preservation, conservation, and protection of the state's forests through the special assessment and taxation of certain forest lands and assistance grants to local government"

Ahhh taxes. If there is anything more gooped up than the Constitution, it is the tax code. Soon, every individual will have their own personalized tax exception. When you also consider no meaningful tax change can occur without changing the Constitution, we have goop piled on top of goop.

First, let's look at the positives. This amendment certainly would encourage large timber growers to continue planting loblollies instead of selling off bits and pieces for a quick capital infusion. Also, there are some indications that Georgia is less competitive due to surrounding states offering similar breaks.

I certainly have sympathy here. Not only has my family participated in the conversion of farmland to pines but my property taxes recently doubled due to letting an agricultural covenant lapse. Amendment I is an extension of this type of covenant to large timber growers.

Covenants freeze property values for a number of years, at least ten, as long as the owner makes no substantial change in the purpose of the land. In this case, the timber growers would be required to continue to harvest trees for a long time instead of suddenly building hundreds of McMansions on the same property.

Here's the problem.

Not included in what you will see on your voting screen is the following clause "The General Assembly is directed to appropriate funds to local government to partially offset any loss of local revenue".

Does anyone think any local government won't scream "help us we're poor"? What we have here is a taxpayer shell game.

Conservation is a good thing and the timber industry is a bright spot in the state of Georgia. The goal here is good but the method is not. We should be able to help them without making the code more byzantine.

Vote no on Amendment 1.

Next: Amendment II

To view amendments in their entirety please go here.

The Election - The Amendments

We're going to start down in the sewers.

Almost every election in Georgia contains some opportunity to muck around with the Constitution. We have one of the most complicated, convoluted, top down Constitutions in these United States. A local municipality can barely break wind without the entire state voting on the issue.

Therefore, the analysis of this serving of amendments will be conducted with the prism of "does it goop up the document worse and is there a better way to accomplish the goal".

The burden of proof is on the amendment itself to cross those barriers.

Jim Wooten has already touched on this a bit. Better get the smelling salts ready Freeman. You know what usually happens when Jim and I both start talking about taxes and such.

Next: Amendment I

Early Voting in Cobb County

Amani and Mario roll the cameras for HDNet News

Monday, October 20, 2008

Impressions From The Powell Case

I rarely rely on single, anonymous sources, however I did receive something from one that I consider impeccable. Also, the information is opinion and not fact. However, you as the reader should consider these factors.

According to the source, an observer (one learned in the law) at the Powell hearing indicated the Justices seemed inclined towards the Handel arguments.

The manner in which Justices question attorneys is usually an indicator of their thoughts, but not always. This may mean nothing or it may mean everything. We will have to wait and see.

UPDATE: The AJC has a good report on the hearing.

“We’ve had absentee and early voting and it’s been going on for three weeks,” said Justice Robert Benham. “Why is this not moot?”

That's a very good question. Here's the way it may go down. The Court hates to muck around in elections but also hates leaving statutory powers in limbo, so it may come down to which they hate more. If they decide since the election is already under way the matter is moot, Powell wins. If they decide to actually issue a ruling clarifying the law, Handel wins.

Either way, here's a tip for future candidates - for Gods sake, change your homestead before you qualify.

My Morning Wonky

No Wooten this morning. As I expected, today's screed is a lame defense of the paper tiger known as "Joe The Plumber". Oh woe is me! People are saying harsh things about a man enjoying his fifteen minutes of fame. Thank goodness we have the paragon of social grace called Jim Wooten to keep us from falling in an abyss of crass. Jim would never resort to meaness.
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.

Enough of that. On to better things.

We're about to get wonky. Over the next week or so, we're going to cover the upcoming election with me providing the jumping off point. We're going to discuss the amendments, the Court of Appeals, House districts 81 and 82, the 8th Congressional district, the Senate race and of course the big one.

My point of view on all will be filtered through my personal political philosophy. Feel free to share your own.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Wrestling The Eel

I've been wrestling with this Senate race for a week now. Despite him being my hometown boy, I can't endorse Senator Chambliss. But I've never been a Martin fan either. My default position should be Libertarian Allen Buckley but his deer in the headlights performance in Perry caused pause.

Fellow Georgia writer Jason Pye attempts to clear some of the fog for me. Although he encourages voting for his man Buckley, he is also a realist.
I have no illusions about Jim Martin. He isn’t what I would call a fiscal conservative, but he seems to be there on issues relating to privacy, Iraq and reigning executive power. Saxby Chambliss has proven himself incapable of voting for less spending or legislation that would steer us in a small government direction.
I'm going to wrestle this eel a bit more, but this type of level headed reasoning certainly eases the struggle.

Songs In My Head

Friday, October 17, 2008

My Morning Wooten

Calm and reasonable Jim makes a rare re-appearance today. Well, mostly.
Exposing American troops to Iraqi justice when they are accused of crimes unrelated to war, as proposed in a draft agreement, is a tolerable compromise. Never should troops under U.S. military command be subjected to prosecution by international courts or by other countries. But if you rape the barmaid at a downtown hangout or murder a shopkeeper in a dispute over the tab, it’s a crime unrelated to military service. Fair enough.
Tolerable compromise? Be still my beating middle of the road heart. Prepare to roll out the fainting couch, cause later, we might all get the vapors. But not yet...
John McCain did make a good point when he said to Barack Obama in Wednesday’s debate: “I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago.” Obama is a Monday morning quarterback, an expert on what the team should have done yesterday.
Jim, you tell me which is more relevant to this election - the last eight years or the 60s?
The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute is a group dedicated to more spending on social programs. It’s concerned that, although Georgia has spent $90 million on anti-smoking programs since 2001, it’s less than the CDC-recommended amount of $116.5 million annually. Georgia, as is its option, chooses to spend the bulk of the $1.5 billion tobacco settlement riches on cancer-related research and treatment, as well as other health-care programs, and on OneGeorgia grants.
Agreed. Pull out the fainting couch - it's about to get worse.
No surprise that children’s health improves as income rises, as discovered by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Solutions identified by one expert: better access to prenatal care, stopping smoking during pregnancy, requiring physical education in schools and providing “appropriate” school lunch programs.
Yes, yes, yes, yes. But wait a minute...
One other suggestion: Encourage marriage.
Jim, let's stick to the things where we agree - things like good nutrition and physical fitness instead of muddying the waters with the right's version of social engineering.

We now pause for intermission in today's lengthy entry. I am against the death penalty but probably not for the reasons you would guess. If someone ever convinced me my reasons were wrong I would probably switch to a support of the death penalty. And that's all I've got to say about that.

Now back to the show.
A third of recent Atlanta Police Academy graduates have been arrested or cited for a crime. More than a third had been rejected by other law enforcement agencies. And half admitted using marijuana. Holy Toledo! What a commentary on the state of the city’s recruiting efforts.
Admittedly the city's vetting of recruits is sketchy. It's difficult to not make a snide comment about how the "war effort" has so badly wrecked the armed forces, they've also been forced to lower their recruiting standards. Instead, let's talk about pot. Wherever you are, stand up, look around. There is at least one person in the room with you right now that has smoked the weed. More likely at least a half dozen people you are looking at have burned one. If you work at Fellini's it's 100%.

It's time to admit as a society that marijuana is no more damaging than alcohol and unless someone is actually fried on the job, it shouldn't matter what natural medication they use in their private life.
The Atlanta Regional Commission is weighing whether to recommend to Congress that it end the federal gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon, perhaps replacing it with a tax on miles driven. Next suggestion, please? The better recommendation is to give that taxing capacity back to the states so that gas-tax revenues can be used to add capacity and reduce traffic gridlock in places like Metro Atlanta.
Yep. Not only do I need my couch but perhaps my Turkish water pipe as well.
Look, I can spot a tax increase disguised as something else a mile away. And I assure you Alpharetta’s policy requiring reimbursement from cops who use their patrol cars on off-duty jobs is not, as one officer alleges in a complaint, a tax on public safety employees. Nobody anywhere should have a license to use public property for private gain.
Yep. We may be breaking records today.

The last blurb is a voting rights issue that's far too complex for a simple counterpunch, so I'll leave that one for another day.

But one final comment. Jim and I agreed on a lot today. I'm not so filled with hubris to believe either of us in our little silos represent bigger pictures, but I think it is enlightening that when people stop the demonization of those with whom we disagree and start talking about how government can be made more effecient, generally better, we start to meet on common ground.

It's an idea John McCain used to understand.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Powell Case In A Nutshell

The Ginger Flash has uncovered a succint summary of the arguments in Powell v. Handel.

I still believe Handel's arguments are more compelling, however, after speaking to several attorneys, I believe an argument can be made to support Powell. Ultimately, this case may be a precedent setting moment in determining the limits of an executive officer's statutory authority. That may sound dry, hell that is dry, but it is a fundamental of how government works and that is very important.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog For Food

Watch the live stream from the Atlanta Food Bank here.

My Morning Wooten

World upside down.

Jim does debate prep for his candidate without mentioning ACORN, Bill Ayers, Rev. Wright or any other recent right wing boogers.

Instead we get this.
It’s a good time to remind voters of — or more precisely, introduce them to — Herbert Hoover, a Republican who occupied the White House during the 1929 stock market crash, which ushered in the Depression. “The last president to raise taxes and restrict trade in a bad economy as Sen. Obama proposes was Herbert Hoover,”
Astonishing. A decent, honest argument. How refreshing this campaign could have been if the national conversation had been elevated instead of anchored by the sewage peddlers.

Welcome to the side of the Lord, Jim.

Songs In My Head

We should all miss Lowell George

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My Morning

Kill him ~McCain/Palin supporter

Outstanding ~Front page of Peach Pundit on the news that Troy Davis will die

Just as certain as the dog days of August or the arrival of September’s harvest moon, the staple of every election cycle arrives at our doorstep. It’s called: Scare the ignorant. ~Atlanta Journal Consitituion Assistant Editorial Page Editor Jim Wooten's view of the tactics of Democrats

There are days when ghosts seem to swirl in the air.

Do we see clearly or do we see what we desire to see? Does watching a documentary on the newest section of Arlington National Cemetary cause ruminations of death? Does a coincidental viewing of a fictional parent's death stir something deeper? Is there something not yet in the realm of science which binds together existential experience?

I wish I could write the piece I feel the need to write. It's in there somewhere but I don't know if it refuses to emerge due to my need to not share too deeply or simply because I can't find the words. One day I will write about death and fear. Because writing is what I do.

For now, I will simply say this - fear is not proprietary to one side or the other, nor should it be peddled like a wormy apple and death should never be treated lightly.

Songs In My Head

Monday, October 13, 2008

Powell Goes To Court

Creative Loafing is reporting the Supremes will hear the Powell Case next monday.

Been a while since I've been down to those esteemed chambers. Might be time for another visit.

Words From The Past

Much has been made this week of echoes from the past. Let's take a moment to reflect on the words of William Hartsfield - Atlanta Mayor at the time of the Temple Bombing.

"Whether they like it or not, every political rabble-rouser is the godfather of these cross burners and dynamiters who sneak about in the dark and give a bad name to the South," he said. "It is high time the decent people of the South rise and take charge."

h/t: The Debate Link (And I'm a little embarasssed I didn't think of this first)

My Morning Wooten

Jim doesn't have a lot to say today so I will also be brief.
His newly aggressive efforts to highlight Barack Obama’s association with Wiliam Ayers, the 60s radical is useful, but some Republicans are questioning whether such efforts turn off the Independents and moderate women who are needed to close the gap.
I can only speak for the independent sitting at this keyboard, but I'm more turned off than a grandpa who misplaced his viagra.

A month ago, I began to swing back to McCain. Despite his canoodling with the creationists, despite his lovefest with the Falwells, the old John seemed to emerge - the level headed voice of true conservatism seen in the tragic 2000 election.

Then came Sarah Palin. Nothing will turn off an independent quicker than a brazenly craven political stunt. Witnessing a stunt of filling the second chair of the Presidency was flooring.

Possibly the vague mass of the swingers could have been mollified. Perhaps if Palin had done a tour de force showing her wit, candor and grasp of the issues, all would have been well. Instead, we were treated to a Rovian roll of the craps dice to shelter the new candidate and if anyone dared question the motive, simply gin up the "press hates Republicans" canard. The office of the Vice Presidency was reduced to the basest of politcal strategy.

Jim asks his readers to provide the McCain camp with advice. The answer is there is none. The time for advice has long past.

And it makes me sad. Very sad.

Friday, October 10, 2008

My Morning.....Er Nevermind


I can't make sense of most of this dreck.

Exhibit A.
A golden retriever from Atlanta that shows up months later 425 miles south in St. Petersburg is like the turtle resting on the top of a fence post.
Is this some ancient newspaper canard which has lost all meaning in the modern world?

Anyone who wants to take the time to do the usual Wooten business, have at it.

Debate Round Up

Other voices on the Perry debates:

From the left, Blog For Democracy's Bernita Smith's live blog.

From the right leaning libertarian corner, Jason Pye's live blog.

Jim Tharpe in the AJC

Lucid Idiocy/Macon Telegraph's Travis Fain

And the ubiquitous AP filing from Shannon McCaffrey

Gonzo Perry

A night at the debate and scribbles straight from the notebook:

*Republicans on the left. Democrats on the right. Like a primitive church

*Mention of Harry Reid. Not good.

*One crazy guy right in the middle screaming at Saxby

*Buckley "are you deceiving the public or incompetent?"

*Democrats need captains corralling the cheers and heckles

*Buckley thinks it's possible he can be elected

*Moderator dancing to KC & the Sunshine Band

*Wow this is boring

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Clouds And Clods In Perry

Dark skies roiled around the Georgia National Fairgrounds as the candidates for U.S. Senate and the 8th Congressional district gathered at the stage of the Reaves Arena in Perry, Ga. Perhaps, Mr. Henry asked a favor of his new landlord, for the heavens indeed opened, threatening to drown out the lows of the manure slingers who temporarily infested the hallowed home the legendary cattleman built for his beloved livestock.

Despite the exhortations of the spare but raucous audience, the blather on the stage never matched the fury of the rain lashing the roof. It seemed every time a politician opened his mouth the whipping of water on the ceiling crescendoed, causing the occasional nervous eye to stare heavenward - possibly wondering where all would run if the thing peeled off like a potato skin.

As with most debates, there were no game changers. No particularly harsh gaffes. No soul stirring moments of inspiration. No pol succumbing to the pressure, stripping off every stitch of clothing and prancing around like a chicken. Not much fun at all.

Instead, with a weird format which limited answers to a couple of minutes and 30 second rebuttals at the discretion of the moderator, the entire affair was mostly limited to sound bite pablum found in commericials.

In the big daddy event of the Senate race, Democrat Jim Martin was more confident and forceful than expected - except when he lapsed into wonkish professor mode, droning on about billions and trillions.

Incumbent Senator Saxby Chambliss talked about winning wars, cutting taxes and saving us all from the liberal menace - except when he stumbled around on the immigration question and was met with an uncomfortable silence from his previously rabid supporters.

Libertarian Allen Buckley referred to his website about 243 times and appeared genuinely rattled any time the restless audience began burbling with either approval or disapproval. At certain points, if someone had whispered "boo", he might have just darted for the wings.

The congressional candidates were mercifully spared a full hour of the nonsense and spent a mere 30 minutes warbling mostly about "the vote".

Incumbent Democrat Jim Marshall mentioned a letter he received from the AARP, one of the debate sponsors, about half a dozen times in the hope that the powerful blue hair lobby would provide the karmic bailout bandaid he so desperately needed.

Republican challenger Rick Goddard spewed about better handling of the taxpayers money and his knowledge that 90% of Georgia opposed the bailout. Of course he had this handy fact because before making a public statement on the hot potato of the day, he had polled extensively - including inadvertently quizzing Jim Marshall's campaign office.

Somewhere in the middle, Goddard said "this is a strong market" and Marshall said he "hadn't paid much attention to either (Presidential) candidate's plans for Iraq". Despite the strength of these two gaffes, no blood ran because after 90 minutes of beating rain and bleating politicians, few still cared.

Afterward, when the hands were shook and signs were stowed, all waited in the lobby for the rain to cease lashing the fairground. There would be no quick aboslution for these political desperadoes who had invaded this innocent land of funnel cakes and candy apples.

Eventually the storm waned and a bright moon emerged from the clouds. Mr. Henry must have decided to once again rest easy - for tomorrow, the cleaner parade of cows and pigs would return to his arena.

My Morning Wooten

I try not to blog when I'm drunk.
So our homework assignment for the next class is to find the missing blogname on Thinking Right. Could it be that one of our liberal contributors was so frustrated by the strengths of arguments offered by intelligent and well-prepared conservatives here that he was driven to dirty tricks directed against our beloved Sarah? Who’s not here today and possibly dressed in orange and banned from participating, not by the genial host, but by order of the

I'm not implying Jim was in some altered state when he wrote his most recent entry.


He did say his blog is "often attacked by liberal hackers polishing their hurtful invective on the well-informed, kind and intelligent conservatives". So either he is confused about the difference between hackers and commenters or the AJC cyberdefense squad is the busiest in the metro area.

He then expresses his suspicions that recently indicted David Kernell, arrested for hacking Sarah Palin's yahoo email account, is a regular contributor to Thinking Right. So, either Kernell is the most bored or most well read freshman in University of Tennessee history. These would be the only reasonable explanations for a college student to obsess over a conservative blog published by a local paper in an entirely different state.

Then, just to top the crazy sundae with the looney cherry, Jim cheerfully sets his army of right wingers, the same ones he once gleefully proclaimed would banish fat women, on a witch hunt against all who have the temerity to express a differing opinion in the hallowed halls of Thinking Right. They might be hackers! Burn them!

When you have several hundred lunatics eagerly waiting each day for your written word, it is easy to become addicted to hubris. I do not imply Jim was drunk when he wrote today's babble - at least not on physical spirits.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

An Idea

Let me tell you about my friend Tessa.

We met in a very modern way. Either she linked to me or I linked to her. It was so long ago in internet terms, I do not remember.

But soon we were commenting on blogs of common interest, meeting each other at geeky social networking happy hours and following each other on twitter.

I resisted twitter at first. Being a very private person, the idea of people following my every move seemed repulisive. Hell, half the time I don't tell my family where I am.

But I did eventually sign up and reluctantly began giving vague updates on my whereabouts. The moment of enlightenment came on the day I saw several friends say "hey we're all meeting at such and such for a beer". Sold!

But back to Tessa. As I was discovering the possibilities of impromptu drinking binges, Tessa was expandng her network of followers at a frightening speed. Like someone creating a patchwork quilt of people, she collected up aging hipsters, indie music slingers, nerds, engineers, entrepeneuers and even a degenerate writer or two.

As can happen with the growing fog of age, I didn't see the potential of the technology. It certainly was cool for meeting new people but that was about it, right? (Sidenote: I also said the same thing about text messaging when I was actually in the text messaging industry. I know.)

Perhaps it was because she is younger or because of her skills as a High Priestess of SEO, but Tessa saw much more. What she needed was a moment and then along came the great gas crisis of 2008.

Ironically, Tessa doesn't own a car. A favor to get gas for her mother's car carried her to the Lindbergh Quik Trip in the middle of the panic. Habit led her to report the craziness on twitter and then instinct led her to do just a bit more.

She created a hashtag. By simply adding the tag #atlgas to all of her updates, she was able to create a quickly searchable database of gas station updates. Then she lit up her network. She implored people to add the tag to their updates. When people forgot, she gently chided them.

Then something wonderful happened. Her network lit up their networks. Then those networks lit up their networks. Within days, thousands of Atlantans were reporting the status of dozens of gas stations. The reporting was so speedy and effecient, it was linked to by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and then WSB. Tessa's network now reached the entire metro area.

Her accomplishment was a startling display of the power of social networks and the idea of the individual who recognizes that power. The feat did not go unnoticed and she is featured in this week's Creative Loafing.

In the brief piece, she said she was "disappointed that neither city nor state officials have harnessed Twitter to either gather or spread information about gas availability to the community" and that intrigued me.

Today, I had my moment and finally realized the potential Tessa sees clearly.

As I sat watching some horrible movie on television, the screen suddenly went dark and that horrible familiar buzzing filled the room. Some poor child in Burke County had been kidnapped and the powers that be fired off an Amber alert triggering the Emergency Response System to interrupt every television channel with details of the snatch.

Think about it for a second. How many people are like me, sitting at home in the middle of the day and how many people are chained to a cubicle in some corporate drone farm surreptitiously refreshing twitter every couple of minutes?

Why aren't Amber alerts on twitter? Why aren't water contamination warnings on twitter? Why isn't every emergency alert conceivable on twitter?

It's as simple as creating an account and giving some intern the task of updating the stream any time something comes across the desk. Cost? Practically nil. Benefit? Well, Tessa's experiment showed the potential for the system to inform the public in a rapid and effective manner - possibly faster than traditional means.

And she's even said she'd provide tutorials for those interested.

So. Anyone interested in a practically cost free system to keep the public informed of emergencies?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Where I Be

Down in the sewers.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

My Morning Wooten

Have you heard the news? Everybody's out to get poor Sarah Palin.
While the Left is watching Sarah waiting for something they can put on YouTube, the Right will be watching Gwen Ifill, the moderator. She’s writing a book, “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama” scheduled for publication on the day he is inaugurated as President of the United States. When chosen to moderate tonight’s panel, she neglected to mention her certainty that this is the “Age of Obama” and that her publisher’s preparing to release it on Jan. 20, 2009.
BUZZZZZZZZZ. Wrong again, Jim. Would you like to go for double jeopardy where the scores can really change?

FACT: The debate commission knew about Ifill's book when they asked her to moderate the Vice Presidential debates. Does this mean they are also part of the lefty hit squad?

FACT: Although it's unclear if the McCain camp knew about the book, they have since stated it's "no big deal".

FACT: The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz wrote about Ifill's book a month ago.

Time to play the Occam's Razor game, gentle readers. Which explanation makes sense - all these conservative political experts just discovered Ifill's book or they've known about it all along and only ginned up a story the day before the debate because it puts the debate commission in a no win situation (They can't replace Ifill and any question perceived as hard can be spun as biased).

Of course, you can hear the righteous indignation of the shocked, I say shocked, experts in such high places as the Sean Hannity Show and the Hugh Hewitt Show. I suppose you can also satisfy for your craving for fairy tales on the pages of the AJC.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Love Shack Closes

The site of my first venture into "real reporting" closes.

I'm oddly sad.

Cynthia's Back!

Cynthia McKinney (G nee D - Territory of Wacko) on the alledged coverup of 5000 government sanctioned murders in the wake of Katrina.

Tourney Time!

Who do you have in the final four?

Click to enlarge.