Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Whimpers of Dinosaurs

What does a wild eyed writer of politics from Georgia and a biologist from North Carolina have in common?

We both have a strange fascination with a particular species of journalist noted for its ceaseless caterwauling about the damned dirty bloggers.

From Coturnix:
Some guy named Mulshine, who is apparently an ancient journalist (remember: generation is mindset, not age), penned one of those idiotic pieces for Wall Street Journal, willingly exposing his out-datedness and blindness to the world - read it yourself and chuckle: All I Wanted for Christmas Was a Newspaper.
An example of Mulshine's keen insight:
Anyone can duplicate a long and tedious report. And anyone can highlight one passage from that report and either praise or denounce it. But it takes both talent and willpower to analyze the report in its entirety and put it in a context comprehensible to the casual reader.
Really? It makes one wonder if reporters are bathed in magical waters when they first enter the great shrines of soothsaying such as the East Greater Bumpkinville Daily Register Picayune Observer. How is it possible we the unwashed can't see the obvious truth that we do not have the special talents required to keep subjects and predicates straight, much less string many of them together to form something comprehensible!

Frank Wilson nails the black of the target Mulshine doesn't even know exists.
Actually, the people in a given school district are likely to be very interested in and willing to sit through such meetings and read such reports very carefully, since they are interested parties, more interested, apparently, than a cub reporter trying to keep himself awake during the proceedings "by employing trance-inducing techniques"
What makes Mulshine's argument more comical is his world is surely divesting itself of the local coverage he holds so holy while those he castigates are not only taking up the slack but doing it well.

In nature, niches are filled. Species adapt or die. It's tooth and claw time. The peddlers of the written word can either wail in the wallow of the tar pits with the Mulshines or keep moving towards the next horizon.

My Morning Wooten

Well, I'll be hogtied - we've finally got one where Jim and I completely agree.
While listening five years ago to legislators debate how to keep HOPE solvent long-term, Atlanta attorney Les Schneider concluded that something more was needed for students trying to afford college...The result four years later is a law sponsored by state Sens. Bill Hamrick (R-Carrollton) and Seth Harp (R-Midland), among others, creating a series of three low-interest loan programs. Rates start at 1 percent.
The loan system will be results based with rates set by the achievment of certain goals and post-graduation employment choices.

Frankly, I can't find any flaw except the current lack of funding. Given the state of the budget this may be a large hurdle but this is one idea where a way should be found. It makes a hell of a lot more sense than boat ramps.

And it came from Republicans. A fact that surely indicates why Wooten is so effusive and why Democrats should worry. At this point in the game, they can hardly afford to be outflanked on a core issue like education.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Swift Links

I don't dilly dally with the national blogs very much these days, but they are all over to your right if you ever feel the need to sample from the buffet.

One you should definitely try is Jon Swift. It is some of the best satire on the web.

Mr. Swift did the kindness of linking to me in his year end best of post.

Return the favor by visiting the others on his extensive list.


Something new in media land! Actually I should clarify. Something I just noticed in media land. It could have been there for a while and I just sped right past.

Wooten and Bookman have blogrolls. Sort of.

They both have something called "Favorite Sites"

Here's Bookman's:

Talking Points Memo
Abu Muqawama
Peach Pundit
Over The Monster

And here's Wooten's:


Edifying. Kudos to Bookman for throwing a line to a local.

My Morning Wooten

It is the time of the year where inspiration for the clever tends to run dry. Some do lists. Some wax poetic. Some just fall back on the same regurgitations.
When fair-minded historians examine the Bush legacy, he’ll be fine. It may not be “pretty soon,” as Rice believes, but the day will come when generations will “thank this president for what he’s done.”
Let's play word association.

Unnecessary war.

Detention of citizens with no due process.

Warrantless wire tapping.


Who do think of first when these terms are tossed about? Don't bother. No doubt, the leftist hippie historians have already filled your wee little brain with false preconceptions.

Pre-emptive historical revision. Now, there's a term for the new century.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Top Ten Blog Stories 2008: The Recap

The top ten:

1. The Senate Race
2. The Presidential Campaign
3. #atlgas
4. Powell vs Handel
5. The Rise of the Hyperlocal
6. Ethics In Blogging
7. House District 80
8. Troy Davis
9. The Banana Republics
10. The Firing of Ken Edelstein

If you make lists, you will leave something out. And I left out a big one.

As Rusty pointed out, the tornado was one of the biggest new media stories of the year. There were real time reports on twitter, location photos on flickr and video from Shelby, Spacey and the ever present Amani. The storm was a tragedy to be sure, but it was also the biggest mashup of networking, new media, citizen journalism or whatever you want to call it in 2008. And I shouldn't have left that out.

But I like the top ten I compiled and don't think any deserve to get bump. So just slide it in where ever you think it's appropriate. Next year, I'll try to jog my memory a little harder. Although I will be another year and about a thousand beers older. So, no guarantees.

Thanks to everyone for reading, commenting and participating in this year's top ten. We've got a helluva community. And it's only going to get better.

Blog Stories 2008: #1 - The Senate Race

Climbing smokestacks replaced kissing babies and the roller coaster of the 2008 Senate race bucked, jostled, threatened to pitch an incumbent to the turf but finally came to rest exactly where expected.

The Democrats rolled out the usual clown car with the usual menagerie of pretenders. Former newsman Dale Cardwell sounded like a Republican and performed throwback stunts from the era of flagpole sitting. Young Rand Knight seemed to model his leap into politics after Ron Paul with fanatics frantically frisking the internet for any mention of their man. Josh Lanier drove around in his jeep collecting tip jars and channeling Kinky Friedman. Former Dekalb CEO Vernon Jones played footsie with everyone by putting up non-descript "Vernon for Georgia" billboards which overnight morphed into "Vernon for Senate" placards. And no one knew what to make of Maggie Martinez who didn't seem to understand Puerto Rico is not a state.

All that was lacking was an establishment candidate.

Enter Jim Martin.

Martin was the top vote getting non-winner (in some circles known as first loser) for the Democrats in 2006. He gathered a staggering 42% of the vote in his bid for Lieutenant Governor and in an era where the top of the ticket was receiving 38%, some saw an oasis of hope. Most saw a shimmering reflection of the sky better known as a mirage.

It was inevitable that Martin would weed out the pretenders and just as predicted by the big wigs in the state party, he began to draw money.

With the Obama wave building, the possibility of a 60 member Democratic Senate and incumbent Saxby Chambliss riling the blood of the deficit hawks, Martin suddenly mattered.

Money poured into Georgia from the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and when polls showed Chambliss in real danger of being booted, the Republican counterpart responded in kind.

Commercials flowed like rivers. Sunday football games were no longer safe havens from the madness. Car lots in south Georgia could not hawk their latest deal of the century. The political money had sucked the tv teat dry.

TV and the madness stirred by the frenetic Libertarian Allen Buckley proved just enough to push Martin and Chambliss into a runoff.

Georgia, wracked by electoral convulsions for over a year, endured one more month of whispers and whip lash. The political junkies, the jones never fully satisfied, predicted Obama visits (didn't happen) and Palin visits (did happen) all the while casting eyes towards a trial in Alaska and a circus in Minnesota. As reality and the possibility of the DTs set in, the possibility of a grand finale faded.

Martin could never climb the final hill and Chambliss' people finally came home. The incumbent Republican won in a whitewash.

The longest election year in memory finally ended. Democrats were left to ruminate on what was gained and what could have been gained. Republicans wiped their brows with relief that the breakwater they worked so hard to build held back the wave that wiped many of their brothers and sisters out to sea.

Quiet now covers Georgia as the players, the poseurs and pushers leave the political earth fallow. But after the hangovers fade and the wheels once again beg for grease, the furrows will be turned again. After all, 2010 is just around the corner.

Photo courtesy of Joeff Davis and Creative Loafing

Friday, December 19, 2008

Blog Stories 2008: #2 - The Presidential Campaign

We're not used to waiting.

As dark fell on February 5th, the polls closed and the waiting began. Most of the bones readers knew how things would throw down. Obama and Huckabee would win Georgia. But this was not the usual election - the grass was blue and the sky was green.

For six years, Georgia had been an ardent red state. As sure as the sun coming up, Republicans win and the winner is pre-ordained. We had become so boring, the national press hardly bothered to notice. On primary night, they started to come back.

Obama did win but it was how he won. As the numbers rolled in even the hardest of political warriors were staggered. 66% of the total vote. An astonishing 90% of the African-American vote. For the first time in years, more Georgians pulled Donkey than Elephant tickets.

And this time it was the Republicans, those starch shirted, never get into a nasty fight Republicans, who had to wait. Deep in the night, Mike Huckabee won Georgia but a resurgent John McCain placed second and placed the final nail in the coffin of Mitt Romney.

The next day the whirlwind left Georgia. There were bus trips to the convention. The occasional rally. But after our brief, shining moment, Georgia became more swing-through than swing state.

All that remained was November but even as it approached, inevitability set in. Not even the Obama wave could crack the red state. All that was really left was the party.

Music boomed from the basement to the suites in the Hyatt Regency as Democrats danced to the sounds of history. Georgia's part had been small but no one cared. It was the moment. And the moment was so grand that even a noted cynical independent leaped into the arms of another man and they danced round and round.

But after the lights faded and the music quieted, Georgia awoke to the realization there was one chapter left unfinished.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Blog Stories 2008: #3 - #atlgas

When does a widget grow up?

Who made the first emergency call on a cell phone? When did a blog first get quoted by major publication? Who was the first person to get married after meeting love on an online dating site?

The answer to those questions and millions of other web lore may be lost to time but people of Atlanta will always remember the time when Twitter suddenly mattered.

In September, Hurricane Ike whammied the gulf coast, severly impacting the oil refineries that sprawl around Houston, TX. Atlanta, eternally hampered by a lack of storage facilities, saw its pipeline to the go-juice dwindle to near nothing.

Gas stations began running out of gas. Lines began forming. Atlanta drivers began stalking tanker trucks like desperate, feral dogs. A station with a single open pump became a honey pot for swarms of thirsty cars.

There would be no succor for days but salve came in the form of one young woman's idea.

Tessa Horhled rarely used a car. A chance favor for her mother led her to the QuikTrip on Sidney Marcus and into the swirl of chaos. Not one to sit as a story formed, Horhled used her cell phone to send an update to the social media site Twitter.

By adding the hashtag #atlgas, she created an easily searchable method for others to report on gas status. Her idea played on Atlantan's obsessive nature to stew over the latest "disaster". From Alpharetta to Forest Park, hundreds of drivers began reporting on the availability of gas at individual stations.

Little blogstorms normally burn bright then fade away, rarely noticed by those in the larger world. But the beast Tessa unleashed would not be stopped. The Atlanta Journal Constitution linked directly to the #atlgas search and told its readers it was "real time" information. The news of the innovation reached as far away as Fayetteville, NC.

Soon, gas began flowing again, the lines disappeared and #atlgas began to fade away. Only the future knows if the idea of collective consciousness attacking a problem will become as ubiquitous as cell phones, blogs and online dating, but for one sliver of time, one bright mind and one little widget showed us possibilities we hardly imagined.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Blog Stories 2008: #4 - Powell vs. Handel

The smallest sparks can create the largest fires.

Residency challenges occur every election. They are small, quiet battles involving much inside baseball and arcane code sections. Rarely do they burble up to the top of tickets, for anyone running for high profile office surely knows where they live.

When Democrat Jim Powell signed up to run for the Public Service Commission primary, few realized he started a chain of events that would roll and buckle Georgia political blogs for months.

For motivations still unrevealed, fellow Democrat Jim Indech challenged Powell's residency based on the anomaly of a homestead exemption outside the contested district. Although Powell lived, played and voted in Towns County, he maintained homestead in Cobb County.

Few thought the case would go far, particularly when an Administrative Law Judge found for Powell in late June, but on the Friday before the election, Secretary of State Karen Handel overruled the ALJ and removed Powell from the ballot.

Chaos reigned. Signs were hastily posted at polling places, requests for injunction were filed and outrage boiled over on Democratic activist blogs.

Powell received the requested injunction and remained on the ballot for the primary. In that contest, he stomped Indech by 70 points, but the battle was far from over. Although the electorate spoke, the court had not. The real threat of Powell being removed from the ballot post facto thus invalidating the votes of thousands of Georgians remained.

What followed were a series of legal challenges which travelled all the way to the Supreme Court of Georgia. Such unprecedented publicity of a residency challenge gave opportunity for Georgia's political blogs to delve deeply into both the politics and the law.

In November Powell won the case with a terse court ruling in his favor 9-0, but lost the race against Republican Lauren McDonald 56-44.

It may be debated for some time whether the strange twists of Powell vs. Handel ultimately helped or harmed the Powell candidacy, but one surety emerged - no one will take a residency challenge lightly again.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Blog Stories 2008: #5 - The Rise Of The Hyperlocal

Long have the internet cognoscenti predicted that blogs would turn inward. The theory held that as traditional media scaled back on local coverage, blogs would fill the niche.

At their most honest, blogs are reflections of an authors immediate surroundings. For this reason, local blogs have been around since blogs have been around. In Georgia, the venerable (in internet terms) Cable and Tweed and Drive A Faster Car cover music, Atlanta Metblog covers a wide range of happenings across the city and the ur-hyperlocal Dora-blog covers the strange turns in that tiny hamlet. But it was the emergence in 2008 of two hyperlocal blogs, ironically in the same place, which may have fulfilled the visionaries early predictions.

DecaturMetro and inDecatur cover the hip little city like no other.

At a time when the AJC was removing resources from local burgs, Decatur was emerging from a haze to once again blossom as a community. The MARTA station was finally finished. The square, once a lonely place except for now-ancient Eddie's Attic, buzzed with activity. Residents roamed, street characters did their thing, beer flowed and bands played. The only thing missing was a place to research all these wonderful and strange goings-on.

On September 9-26-07, it all began with "Welcome To Blogging Decatur!". The first post questioned whether Decatur High School should go charter and provided the time and place where locals could attend hearings. Later, the site would switch its label to DecaturMetro and expanded its coverage to everything from crime reports to local restaurant discounts. But it was all Decatur all the time.

Around the same time that DecaturMetro began its meanderings around the square, inDecatur also emerged. Although sometimes the two overlapped and inDecatur would occasionally range into commentary beyond the borders of the town, if it wasn't noted by these two it probably didn't happen.

In November 2008, DecaturMetro and inDecatur shared Atlanta Magazine's Best of Atlanta award for Best Neighborhood News.

The ground broken by the two Decatur hyperlocals and their predecessors continues to be turned. Dekalb Officers takes a cynical look at the shenanigans in the Dekalb PD. Dekalb County School Watch focuses on the education system in the county. Heneghan's Dunwoody Blog (originally a hyperlocal in the vein of the two Decatur blogs) documents the trials, tribulations and triumphs of a nascent city.

The revolution might be televised, but it damn sure will be local.

CORRECTION: Small correction. ACE the owner of inDecatur pointed out that technically his spot launched on 8-6-07 or almost two months before neighbor DecaturMetro. The story was published based on the fact that his front page listed archives only going back to March 2008. I should have dug a little deeper. Twice as many corrections in the past two days as the entire year! I need to beat my research assistant. Wait a minute...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Blog Stories 2008: #6 - Ethics In Blogging

We took a hit this year.

Only one of us sinned but we all took the hit.

On July 1st, Georgia Politics Unfiltered's Andre Walker reported officials from the Democratic Party of Georgia pressured powerful political ally the Georgia Association of Educators to remove their endorsement of Senate candidate Rand Knight. The story contained only anonymous sources with no additional corroboration. Two nights later, the story vanished into the vapors.

The stink did not so easily disappear. Before the removal, the story was repeated on two of the state's most prominent political blogs. The furor and subsequent removal led these blogs to either remove the story completely or issue a correction. It also led a suddenly silent Andre to issue his own retraction and apology.

The passive "mistakes were made" nature of this retraction did not pass unnoticed.

Less than one month later, Andre once again made blogosphere news when local gadfly publication Atlanta Progressive News broke the news he published positive stories on Democratic congressman David Scott without disclosing he was receiving payment from Scott's campaign.

Walker's initial response was the public record of FEC reports were his disclosure. When pressed, Walker finally issued a statement listing not only Scott's payment but a virtual resume of gloat showing his "support" for Democrats over the previous two years.

The arrogance of the disclosure statement did not pass unnoticed.

As predicted by some, the two sins made very real the specter portrayed by the traditional media chicken littles - the blogosphere has no rules, no ethics and it cannot be trusted. The sudden tangible nature of these previously esoteric ideas led to a raucous, free-wheeling discussion which crissed and crossed from blog to blog.

The fires eventually cooled and if some understanding was not reached, all agreed the conversation must continue.

That the original sinner did not participate in these conversations and instead allowed others to defend a community stained by his actions did not pass unnoticed.

Time will tell if the actions of one blogger will be used as a cautionary tale in future judgments of the community, but as we will shortly see, the power of the medium cannot be contained and retrograde movements can be followed by massive leaps forward.

Proceed to #5

Friday, December 12, 2008

Blog Stories 2008: #7 - House District 80

We are used to politicians lying while in office. We are used to politicians lying during an election. We are not used to a politician lying before he qualifies.

When Rep. Mike Jacobs switched parties in 2007, the screams of betrayed Democrats echoed from Dunwoody to Toco Hills. Given Jacobs began his career in the trenches with Young Democrat organizations and those most passionate of supporters wore out their Buster Browns getting him elected, the first opportunity to oust the turncoat created political bloodlust.

Lust is wonderful in the short term. Cling to lust, however, and it will eventually lead you into the darkness of stupidity.

So blinded were the Democrats of the 80th, they ignored their own and fell sway to a young unknown named Keith Gross.

On paper, Gross was just fabulous. He claimed to be a successful business owner. He claimed to have a war chest full of money. And in a district where gays and lesbians are a potent demographic, the opportunity to elect Georgia's first an openly gay representative didn't hurt.

Then it all began to fall apart.

One would think such a successful businessman would be proud to roll out the resume. Strangely, Gross refused. The Southern Voice did verify the existence of one of the businesses Gross claimed to have owned but it was in Maryland. The only connection to Georgia was a website registration with a Georgia address but with a Florida telephone number.

Then the condo which didn't exist was discovered. On his qualification paperwork, Gross listed a complex which does in fact exist but a unit number which did not exist. The Gross campaign's response was Gross was concerned for his safety and didn't want people just knocking on his door.

A final twist of the tale was when snoops found not only a Keith Gross Florida drivers license but a snazzy Porsche with Florida plates.

High noon was an adminstrative hearing in July where Gross mumbled his way through questions concerning his activities and ultimately was thrown off the ballot.

Shell shocked Democrats pulled their act together quickly enough to put write-in "independent" candidate Michelle Conlon on the ballot. Hampered by lack of name recognition, little money and even less time, the earnest Conlon was trounced by Jacobs.

When all the dust settled, Gross once again disappeared and local Democrats were left to wipe the stains of snake oil from their faces.

CORRECTION: A reader reminds me that Karla Drenner was the first openly gay representative.

P.S. Honorable mention goes to the nasty slugfest in House District 81 but Top Ten only had room for one crazy ass local race this year.

Proceed to #6

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Blog Stories 2008: #8 - Troy Davis

It is terrifying to me to think that my state might kill an innocent man in error based upon legal technicalities. If it is terrifying to you too, there is not much that we can do to stop it. Except maybe to pray. ~Sara of Going Through The Motions

Outstanding ~Rogue109 of Peach Pundit on the Supreme Court's decision to allow Troy Davis execution to proceed

Capital Punishment inhabits the rare place where passion's flames consume reason. However, it takes an unusual case to spread those flames beyond the borders of the political. It takes the impending death of a possibly innocent man.

According to a Savannah jury, nearly 20 years ago, Troy Anthony Davis brutally murdered a police officer. Seventeen years after his conviction, 7 of the 9 witnesses whose testimony led directly to the verdict say they may not have been completely truthful.

The questions in the case have led such divergent voices as a former FBI director and the Bishop of Rome to beg for pause.

In Georgia, the usual political warriors either pled for mercy or demanded blood. It also touched places that normally discuss recipes, UGA football and teenage vampires.

Finality now approaches. Davis' probable last hearing occured yesterday.

One day lives will continue and routines will return, but there is little doubt that those who inhabit the raging land and those who only briefly touched its scorching earth will forget the strange, possibly tragic path of Troy Anthony Davis.

Proceed to #7

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Blog Stories 2008: #9 - The Banana Republics

If one does something which hasn't been done in 40 years, either Guiness should be called or the bodies should be hidden as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately for the children of Clayton County, the local school board had neither the competence to locate a phone book nor the basic Machiavellian instincts to cover their posteriors.

On August 28th, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools pulled the accreditation of the entire Clayton County school system. The last time the organization took such action was 1969.

With the stroke of a pen, young men and women's college applications were relegated to limbo, the usual recriminations were fired, the board chose to make things worse by potentially violating open meetings law and finally it got so hooptie, the Governor had to step in and run four sitting members the hell out of Dodge.

Incompentence with a generous slathering of schadenfreude is like ambrosia to bloggers. The Clayton County shenanigans seemed to spew so much sweetness that all should have been sated.

Then along came Lithonia.

In just one city council meeting, the Mayor fired the police chief, the council re-hired the police chief and locked the Mayor out of the building. The Mayor managed to unlock City Hall only to have the council boot her out again and call a locksmith toot sweet.

It took Clayton County years to embrace the crazy. In a single instant, Lithonia ran into its arms seeking a big bear hug.

On November 4th, the citizens of Lithonia exercised the ultimate lock by booting their Mayor out of office. On December 3, former Mayor McKibben was arrested after a confrontation at a city housing project. She claims they are still out to get her.

Doraville must be jealous. They made the top ten last year and all they did was fire their Iraqi war veteran Chief Of Police.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

My Morning Wooten

Decaturguy handles it today.

Check it out.

Blog Stories 2008: #10-The Firing of Ken Edelstein

The subhead here should be Crazy Cracks The Creative Loafing.

The story began last December with the first round of layoffs at the venerable alt-weekly and ended this November with the firing of long time editor Ken Edelstein.

The departure was noted by all, for whether you considered him a friend, an enemy or a frenemy, everyone in the community understood Ken was one of the straws that stirred the drink.

He, via his publication, was one of the first in traditional media to build bridges between the old and new world.

When the AJC turned up its nose at SoCon and Podcamp, he sent reporters to participate. When AJC Editor Julia Wallace was proclaiming her publication was going to show us how it's done, Ken was, in his own combative and frankly irritating manner, talking to us about what it all means and how he could make his own world better. And God help us all, he did the one thing so many in his field fear - he started a blog and let the fertile minds of Wheatley, Freeman, Shalhoup, Henry and Nouaree run wild.

If you like him, you worry about the future of Creative Loafing and its relationship with the community. If you loathe him, well, you won't have Edelstien to kick around anymore. At least for now. After all, New Years bring new beginnings.

Top Ten Georgia Blog Stories 2008

Tis' the weird season, Bubba.

Erick is simultaneously having a baby and penning intellectually dishonest screeds about religion. His minions at Peach Pundit are trying to rationlize shutting down HBCUs and discussing the latest Communist tactic of trash collection. Their flouride hating grandaddies would be so proud. Meanwhile, the Democrats are playing their favorite post-election game of hate and hair pulling.

Tis' the season indeed.

I'm going to do my best to ignore the politics for the next ten days. Sometimes the swirl of stupid becomes too dark and deep for even the most experienced cave divers.

Instead, it is time for reflection. It's time for the top ten Georgia blog stories of 2008.

Last year, the top ten spanned two entries. This year, I'll do things a bit different. The top ten will be published as individual entries over the next ten days. So let the guessing begin!

I, your humble scribe, will do my best to keep the distractions of idiots away and my eye on the ball.

Continue to #10.

The Tanton Menace

There's only one conclusion. Cobb County hates Jesus.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Radicalization Will Be Blogged: The Two Way Street

The man who said
The larger issue here is not about Palin, but about the mercenary political operatives who have no loyalty to the cause nor to the candidate, only the money. These people must be rooted out, exposed, opposed, and made lepers.
now has his holier than thou appendage out of joint because some have called for the ouster of CTIA's Steve Largent due to his wife's constributions to pro-Prop 8 groups.
In this country, we’ve gone from a Red Scare to a red, white, and blue scare. People with traditional American values are to be hunted down, fired from their jobs, and destroyed.
Plank. Splinter. Eye.

Friday, December 05, 2008

My Morning Wooten

Perhaps it's the holiday spirit, but Jim and I have rarely jousted lately. Today, peace on earth once again takes a back seat. Let's have some fun!
Clark Howard’s not running for mayor of Atlanta. Smart guy, Howard. The time to pinch pennies was when they were accumulating a mountain of debt. They’re now into juggling. The radio personality they need is get-out-of-debt guru Dave Ramsey.
It's a clever turn of phrase. I have to admit admiration for the skills of the scribe. But it is also evidence Jim worships the trinity of WGST's Beck, Limbaugh and Ramsey. If he ever roamed up the dial, he would discover home town hero Clark Howard has a pretty good handle on debt as well.
Disagree if you will on policy, but there can be no disputing that President Bush will be remembered, as he wishes to be, “as a person who, first and foremost, did not sell his soul in order to accommodate the political process. … I came to Washington with a set of values, and I’m leaving with the same set of values.” A decade from now, maybe sooner, the man’s worth as a leader will be measured alongside Harry Truman as a wartime president. A modern politician who can ignore polls to do what’s right for the country is a jewel.
A needless war. Taking America's legitmacy in the world from a pinnacle to an absolute abyss. Imprisonment without due process. Torture. I'll take book on whether history views Bush as Jim does and as I do. What wants to place a bet?
Two state senators who left the legislative arena to seek judgeships, both of whom were probably more temperamentally suited to the judicial branch, lost. Michael S. Meyer von Bremen, an Albany Democrat, lost on Nov. 4 in a crowded field for a seat on the Georgia Court of Appeals. This week, Joseph I. Carter, a Tifton Republican, lost a runoff for a Superior Court seat. Good guys, both. Thoughtful and calm.
Can't disagree here.
Get out the sniffing salts, Betsy. A Cobb County law firm, Gardner Groff Greenwald & Villanueva, announces that it’ll cut its flat-fee rates up to 12 percent below 2008 and won’t increase hourly rates.
A private firm adjusting its business model due to market pressure? Isn't that a fine example of conservative philosophy? But this is lawyers - one of the usual right wing pinatas - therefore instead of platitudes, we get snark.
The outcome of Tuesday’s U.S. Senate runoff does not bode well for Georgia Democrats in 2010. Barack Obama was a phenomenon. Nobody currently on the scene is capable of matching his appeal to Democrats and independents in Georgia. DeKalb CEO Vernon Jones is right, I believe, when he asserts: “The Democratic Party has to stop putting up these liberal candidates who tend to win in the primary but not in the general.” But I’ve read enough post-election advice from liberals to Republicans that they become Democrat-lite that I’ll avoid the condescension of suggesting that state Democrats become Republican-lite. They should fix it as Mr. CEO and others think necessary to win statewide.
Jim Wooten choose your own adventure! (Insert Democrat name here) is an idiot/corrupt con-artist/the most evil creature walking the earth except when he switches parties/is criticized by Daily Kos/agrees with me.
Honoring the president-elect in the only way government knows how — by giving public employees another paid holiday — officials of Perry County, Ala., declare the second Tuesday in November to be a Barack Obama Day holiday from work. Perry County, in central Alabama, is one of the poorest in the state.
Yes, what they did is stupid. But what is stupider and far more insidious is certain members of the right wing, usually limited to whacko right wing radio but more frequently on the pages of the paper that covers Dixie like the dew, insistence on finding every turtle on a fencepost then attempting to convince us all that the not yet arrived Obama presidency will cause us all to smother beneath a crush of turtles.


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Where Dragons Be

There are normally two impulses which cause a poltician to light on a particular perch.

The most common urge is politics. It is a safe place to land because it is the familiar and it is also about winning. Winning at politics means advancing a cause for some sort of gain and the gain all desire is re-election.

Less common is the ideological urge. Ideology is a precarious roost for politicians for it requires standing on principle. It can lead a particular species of ideologue called the "spending hawk" to vote against that needless contract even though it will cost the home folks the latest, greatest government doo-dad. When the home folks don't get their doo-dads, they sometimes opt to hire a new doo-dad getter.

But there is a third, very rare synaptic firing which may guide politicians into lands where dragons be. Insanity.

Sen. Seth Harp (R-Midland) wants to address the current budget crisis by merging Historically Black Colleges & Universities.

Merging Historically Black Colleges such as Savannah State University and Albany State College with nearby white-majority schools, Armstrong Atlantic State University and Darton College, will save our taxpayers and the state a significant amount of money.
So on which branch did this particular hawk alight?

Given the recent history of African Americans voting somewhere north of 80% for Democrats, it is hard to imagine a move to eliminate the legacy of their schools as a ploy to gain votes. So it ain't political.

Republicans claim to be the party of accountability. In fact, they frequently argue we should move beyond race and make judgments solely on merit. Yet, nowhere in Harp's proposal is there the idea of viewing all schools and then eliminating based on performance. So it ain't about principle.

Sen. Harp's only get one landing place left.

Perhaps, on waking in the morning, cleared of fever dreams, he will reverse course and seek one of the branches of the political tree he so eagerly swooped past.

(P.S. Sen. Harp, as some of your colleagues can attest, I'm always open to someone explaining to me why I'm the one perched in the crazy tree. Feel free to drop me a line)

My Morning Wooten

Jim writes about the automaker bailout.
Congress should not intervene.


That one was easy.

The War Moves South

With the sudden announcement by Florida Republican Senator Mel Martinez that he will not seek re-election, all eyes shift to 2010 in the state of sunshine.

Former Governor Jeb Bush indicates interest in the open seat while the Hamlet of Tallahassee, current Governor Charlie Crist demures. Since Crist won his office by eschewing events with the Florida Family Policy Council and ignoring a nasty whisper campaign about his sexuality, his candidacy in opposition to 43's little brother would land Florida squarely on the front line of the Republican Civil War.

Meanwhile, in Georgia, culture warrior Erick Erickson says of Martinez departure, "good riddance".

Martinez crime? He dared criticize St. Sarah Palin.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

What Is Goin' On: Another Election Hangover

Wilson and I discuss life now that the infernal, eternal election is finally over.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Quick And Dirty Voter Guide

Runoff today.

SENATE - Vote Martin. At least he's for individual privacy.

PSC - Vote Powell. Despite certain obnoxious football ravings of his progeny (almost cost him my vote), he's reasonable on energy policy and does not have a long history of canoodling with certain companies containing the initials GP.

COURT OF APPEALS - Vote Doyle. She all but told the Georgia Christian Alliance (all theocracy! all the time!) to stick their questionnaire where the sun don't shine. That tickles me a bit.