Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Congrats Local Blogs

The Loafies are out and as Dave at inDecatur points out, Decatur in general won big.

Dave's competitor/cohort in covering the Decatur happenings DecaturMetro won the coveted Local Blog of the Year. To my brother in semi-anonymity, I say, well done, sir, but now with great power comes great responsibility.

Also around town, friend of the Grift, Drive A Faster Car won reader's choice for Best Local Blog/Blogger as well as Best Georgia Based Music Blog .

And foodie Jennifer Zyman won Best Local Blogger for The Blissful Glutton.

There's so much quality out there, I imagine it's getting hard to pick.

I'm happy and proud for my friends. But this time of year always reminds me that I've been a slack-ass. Lately, a burst of activity in my professional and my personal life has led to even greater slackedness. I'm not going to promise this will change, but I don't doubt things will start popping again soon. After all, it's only 3 months until the scoundrels in the Gold Dome once again appear.

But while I'm being lazy, make sure you check out these folks and those over to your right. Good people all.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Welcome To The Flood My Friends

All flood, all the time.

This is reminding me too much of Alberto.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Deets On The Eagle Raid Rally Tomorrow

They be a rallyin' at city hall tomorrow. Here's the details:

Saturday, September 19, 2009
12:00pm - 3:00pm
City Hall Downtown
68 Mitchell Street
Atlanta, GA

Our intent is to show the City of Atlanta and the APD the vast number of community members who are concerned about what happened & that we want answers to valid questions:

-Is typical protocol for these type of charges normally a citation and not arrest?
-Was this high number of APD officers the best use to address such minimal charges with Atlanta crime concerns skyrocketing?
-Why was intervention by City Council candidates necessary for the release of the staff after 19 hours in jail on no bond?
-Why does APD have an LGBT liaison if that position is not utilized?
-Who is to be held accountable for the formal filed complaints of mistreatment?
-Where has Mayor Franklin been and why hasn't she made a statement?

APD LGBT liaison Officer Dani Harris will be present Saturday and will be speaking to the community. Please keep in mind, she cannot address any specifics regarding the case as it is an on-going investigation. Her position IS to serve as a bridge directly between the LGBT community and the APD.

I'll be there. Lookin' for a story.

My Morning Wooten

We're going to have some fun today. The plate is full.
No, it’s true that President Obama is not “ignoring calls for tort reform and changes in medical malpractice laws.” Trial lawyers are a key constituency of the Democratic Party, which largely explains why party leaders have chosen to ignore this potential cost savings.
Free market conservatives are for the free market except when they're not. Free market conservatives are against regulation except when they're not. Bottom line is tort reform is regulation. Free market pretenders are a key constituency of right wing pundits, which largely explains why Jim has chosen to ignore this cognitive dissonance
Anybody seen ACORN? The organization may be off to Afghanistan, where the main headline reports “Karzai’s vote lead clouded.” A smaller headline explains: “Fraud suspected in more than a quarter of all Afghan votes.”
ACORN has never been convicted of voter fraud. The accusations were limited to voter registration fraud. There used to be a time when facts mattered - even in an opinion column. It would seem like a good issue for the Public Editor, but why bother. And just to prove my point...
This is a group that helped elect Barack Obama, is widely accused of voter-registration fraud, and would have grown richer and more powerful off public money in this administration. It would have had a prominent role in the 2010 census before exposes caused the feds to sever the relationship.
There it is. At least he got it right this time. Here is how myths are made - take a grain of truth, cover it with manure then claim it was a boulder all along.
Maybe it’s just for a single day, but rejoice that the Standard Language of the South is back! This was the headline over a story about an advocacy group’s push to impose a tax of one-cent per ounce on what the wire service reporter referred to as “sodas and other sweetened beverages”: “Group pushes tax on soft drinks.” Yes!
Copy Editor Jim returns. I bet I know one group who is happy he no longers roams the newsroom.
In Houston County, the District Attorney is filing charges against parents from other counties who enroll their children in Houston schools. Don’t put me on this jury. The money should follow the child and parents should be able to enroll their children in schools near where they work, near a caregiver or near any other more convenient place.
A supposed "law and order" conservative argues for jury nullification. This is "common sense conservatism".
You’re old Atlanta if you remember when the city’s mayoral race was the talk of metro Atlanta and even of Georgia. Now Dunwoody’s suburban neighbor prepares to pick a successor to Mayor Shirley Franklin and the candidates are almost as anonymous as those who vie to run the cities on the perimeter.
Jim lives somewhere in middle Georgia now, right? Apparently the AJC's decision to cut back on delivery to certain areas has unintended consequences. Their poor former Associate Editor doesn't realize the Mayor's race has been this town's top political story for the past two weeks.
The Joe Wilson flap, taken nuclear by former President Jimmy Carter and others on the left, is a reminder that liberals really do believe that they and their policy positions are morally superior. By demonizing opponents as racists, they claim quite sanctimoniously that those who oppose them have no legitimate basis for their arguments...The race card is the liberals’ Saturday night special – a cheap weapon to pop off into a crowd they don’t like.
And we end with this. I would like to explain how words are being twisted. I would like to explain how the statements of the few are being twisted to cast shadow on the many. I'd like to go on a long rant about the Republican's perfecting the process of myth-making.

But I can't.

Because last night I was told that my previous statement - "I know the Republican party isn't racist" - doesn't make any sense.

So, on this one, Jim may be more right that I care to admit.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Buzzman Calls Me Out

Peach Pundit's Buzz Brockway called me out. Let the second round of the spin war begin.

I've been trying to put my finger on something for a while now. My gut has been telling me there is something different about what is happening with Obama and what happened with George Bush in his later years.

Then I read this yesterday and the mist began to clear.
"The heaviest hitters in the Republican party, and in the conservative media have loudly and proudly called for Obama's failure. Liberals who even softly criticized Bush were roundly shamed and called terrorist-loving-America-haters"
The entire piece is a little heavy handed but it is worth the read.

But why is it different? Is it because we are led by a black man? I am willing to admit I am not sure. Certainly not as sure as President Carter (although his statement is being conflated to ridiculous levels). And certainly not so sure that I would make asinine statements as my own Congressman has (also note who in the Atlanta press called him on it). But what I am sure of is there is a wave of irrationality. As to how large that wave is, I do not think we know.

And here is where I think I finally start putting my finger on the issue.

Even though we don't know how pervasive the irrational fear is, leaders (and there is little denying some of the people I am about to name have been embraced as leaders) on the right have trumpeted it as a "movement" and "patriotic" and as "mainstream". We've reached the existential moment where fear of the unknown or ignorance of the known is not only seen as rational political thought but a reason to proudly thump one's chest and declare patriotism.

The difference is even though the left has loons (if you want to know what I think about these people ask me some time about "cause junkies"), they don't usually prop them up as the "mainstream" as much of the right does with Malkin, Limbaugh, Hannity and Levin. There are certainly exceptions, such as Dreher's spot on description of what Limbaugh is doing as "wicked", and they should be celebrated. There should be more.

The difference is here in Georgia the main Democratic blog, Blog For Democracy, certainly has its share of nutty commenters but they don't promote them to front page posting priviledges. Peach Pundit, the main Republican blog, on the other hand, promotes a person whose sole purpose in life appears to be calling any black Georgia politician who dares open their mouth a "race pimp".

I know the Republican party is not racist. I also know that those whining now that just because they disagree they are being called racist are disingenous. I also know that we are seeing things in the early days of the first black President that I'm not sure we've ever seen before. But, I'll save race for another time. Despite the desire of people to boil it down to a placard argument, it is complex and deserves unwavering attention. Also, I'm still not sure I've put my finger on it.

What I have put my finger on is the belief that although there are some Democrats speaking stupidly, there are far fewer Republicans speaking reasonably. Both should do better.

APD Releases Complaints Filed In Eagle Raid

The APD has released the complaints filed against officers involved in the Eagle raid. Southern Voice has excerpts.

Here's the one that jumped out at me.
An employee who lives in an apartment over the Eagle, who said he was not working that night, said someone started pounding on his door. He opened the door to two cops who asked if anyone was having sex there. They asked why there was a bed and he said it was because he lives there. He was made to come downstairs and was arrested with the other employees.
There seems to be many details missing here (apartment attached to a nightclub?), but if true, how will you answer the next time the cops knock on your door and ask if anyone is having sex and why do you have a bed?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

City Council Meeting Brings More Questions

Creative Loafing's Thomas Wheatley attended yesterday's City Council meeting and as expected, supporters of The Eagle were present.

The meeting may have answered some questions but may have raised more.

If the sole source for the raid were two anonymous complaints and undercover work which alleged illegal public sexual activity (and nothing more), why did the APD commit such a large force (reports of three "paddy wagons" and 21 officers) ?

APD Deputy Chief Carlos Blando stated The Eagle was not singled out and pointed to six other bars and clubs which had received similar "raids. Which leads to the questions, did those raids involve a similar level of resources and was the amount of "evidence" of infraction similar to that which spurred the Eagle Raid? An additional question, exactly what was the evidence which caused these other "raids"?

At this point, the APD's policy of "raiding" businesses seems either random or based on the flimsiest premises. The only way to quell these assumptions is transparency.

Finally, the question which remains unanswered and may cause the most tension - why was Atlanta LGBT Liason Officer Danni Lynn Harris not notified and consulted prior to the raid? Whispers of "window dressing" are already emerging.

The APD, the City Council, Chief Pennington and Mayor Franklin are sitting on a burbling volcano of frustration. Blanket apologies and generic responses are no longer working. Actual answers are needed.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Creative Loafing Asks Questions About The Eagle

Creative Loafing attended the Atlanta Police Department's presser on the Eagle raid and left unfulfilled. He has additional questions and they are good ones.

I would add one that was posed by someone else.

If this was about public sex and not drugs (of which none were found), then why was the Red Dog Squad involved?

I've been wrong on many of political predictions but on this one I have confidence I am right. This incident, blowing up in the middle of a hotly contested Mayoral race, will not go away.

One of the reasons it will linger is Kyle Keyser.

As noted before, his is an issues candidacy. His own staff admits he cannot win, but here is a gay man, an activist, a crusader who has spent the past nine months campaigning for better law enforcement resources and better management of those resources, who shockingly raised the qualifying fee in two days after posting his intents on facebook and just a few days after that stunning achievement, the police foolishly waste resources raiding a gay bar. Fate is an interesting mistress.

He's also the odd duck in a field of mealy-mouthed politicians and this makes him the darling of both the traditional media and the new media word jockeys like myself.

No. I don't believe this incident will fade. I believe there's one man who won't let it.

My Morning Wooten

Just a brief note today.

Jim actually argues his own profession shouldn't do its job.
The conflicting interpretations about whether illegals could gain coverage and about whether federal funds would be spent to cover abortions, are examples of why news organizations and supposedly non-partisan public interest groups should avoid the temptation to declare political assetions to be “fact or fiction.”
Once upon a time, they were considered the truth-tellers.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Why The Eagle Raid Matters

It should matter because our Founders graced us with the Fourth Amendment.

It should matter because it exemplifies the ongoing struggle in Midtown between neighborhoods and businesses they deem unacceptable.

It should matter because the public perceives crime as out of control, yet, 8 people sat in jail for what amounted to dancing in their drawers.

But it really matters because it is yet another case of Atlanta picking at its own scab of uncertainty and disillusionment in troubled times.

Today, the FBI released crime statistics which seem to support Police Chief Richard Pennington's stance that crime is down in the city. Yet, these facts do not allay the fears of people living East Atlanta, Downtown and Southwest. Jim Walls continued investigation on the crime numbers lends credence to that worry. Although, crime may be down citywide, pockets of violence and burglary are on the rise and the stunning murder of The Standard's John Henderson, an assault on a Ormewood Park man cutting his grass and the string of shootings and robberies around the campuses of Clark-Atlanta University and Georgia Tech leave Atlantans shaking their head at the cold numbers the powers-that-be wave at the cameras.

If Atlanta is in trouble, like so many things with this transitional city, it is difficult to grasp exactly why. Unlike a Detroit, we do not have a housing market which reflects the third world and an inner core which rots before our very eyes.

Instead we have a myriad of problems which combine to make the greater less tenable.

Our police force is undersized and underfunded. Our guardian of truth, the flagship newspaper, is struggling to survive and its cracks caused by cuts are starting to show (note how many times a crime story appears with the same byline). Our public transit routinely begs to any public agency who will listen. Our public hospital, once again, had to walk hat in hand to the Fulton County Commission to plead for a few more months survival.

In times where the citizens are scared and no longer trust their government to provide protection, the last thing our beleagured police force needs is tasks such as rousting a few gay men for flaunting their tighty whiteys behind closed doors.

The Eagle raid matters because it is as highly ideal as the U.S. Constitution and it is as personal as the people who suffered from imprisonment, but it's also about the character of this city - so famous for rising from its ashes. We are the city too busy too hate, the door to the world, welcome to all and embracing of all. Except last Thursday night when we were not. And it is these missteps which cannot, must not, happen again. For each one takes us back, closer to the ashes and the foul taste they will leave in every mouth.

Atlanta Libertarians Condemn Eagle Raid

The Atlanta chapter of the Libertarian Party has issued a press release regarding the raid on The Eagle.
The Libertarian Party of Atlanta is deeply disturbed by the actions of the Atlanta Police Department (APD) when they raided popular Atlanta gay bar, The Eagle on September 10th. . In June 2009 according to statistics published by the APD, 331 crimes against persons were committed and there were 3,379 crimes against a property reported. The APD should be using their officers to protect the citizens of Atlanta, not raiding a private club containing a group of consenting adults.
A+ for consistency.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Simple Question

To my so-called conservative friends, does this not bother you? Even a little bit?

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Eagle Raid

I have a feeling, if accurate, this is going to be the little issue that won't go away.
At approximately 11:30pm on Thursday, September 10, 2009, a gay bar in Atlanta, the Atlanta Eagle, was raided by the Atlanta Police Department (APD).
My editor (i.e. the inner voice) tells me Friday is a terrible time to attempt an in-depth on any story, so look for more next week.

UPDATE: AJC has the story.

(Editor's note: Not only do I advise my outer voice on how to publish for maximum views but also advise my readers that this story is originating in Atlanta Progressive News and other than a mention on Creative Loafing has not been verified by other news outlets. Caveat emptor. (Additional note - see update))

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Sound of Moderates Fleeing

Joe Gandelman of The Moderate Voice says,
The reaction to Obama on the part of some of his partisan foes is now making Bush derangement syndrome look like a hot and heavy Dawson’s Creek romance
Our own Erick "The Witches Hammer" Erickson calls Joe Wilson, he who screamed "you lie" during the President's speech, a great American hero.

As I told someone recently, even if I agree with you on an ideological point, it's hard being on your side when you act like an utter jackass.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Georgia Gang Howler Of The Week

Hell, it should be the whopper of the week this time. Who else? Phil Kent claiming he opposed the PATRIOT Act.
You forget what a lot of us conservatives have said. We actually agreed with you
that freedoms were being eroded under George Bush.
Somebody pull the tape! I'm willing to bet a large sum that somewhere there's footage of Phil Kent defending warrantless wiretapping.

CORRECTION: A small slice of crow. Phil Kent said in 2003:
"We must balance at all times the fact that national security is important, but freedom is essential," said Phil Kent, president of the conservative Southeastern Legal Foundation, which has taken issue with expanded federal surveillance powers granted under the law.
I still find it difficult to believe that in the subsequent years on the Georgia Gang that there weren't occasions where Phil talked about "tools to fight terrorism" or the other nonsense that was bandied about, but lacking evidence of those utterances, I have to say Phil was right. I was wrong.

Congressional Payola

The AJC has an interesting piece on private entities paying for Congressional trips. Private entities are allowed to pay for junkets but the rules are admittedly strict. The entire list is worth perusal but this item stuck out.
Atlanta Democratic U.S. Rep. John Lewis and a staff member spent two days in June in Chicago so Lewis could speak at a high school graduation ceremony. The John Marshall Metropolitan High School Alumni Association spent $1,500 for meals, airfare and hotel rooms for that trip. Lewis was the only Democrat from Georgia to file public disclosures for sponsor-funded travel, according to LegiStorm.

Lewis' expenses were the lowest on the list (to be fair Congressman Kingston's were very close to Lewis and he gets bonus points for paying his son's travel expenses).

It reminded me of an article in the AJC several years ago documenting Lewis' rather spartan existence in Washington. It makes one wonder from where this streak of "conservatism" arises in the liberal lion?

We anxiously await comment from Peach Pundit resident expert on race and ineptitude - Pete Randall.

Flat Out Stupid

The President's going to talk to some school kids today.

Some people think he's going to use his magic mind powers to turn them into socialist drones who will eat their parents. A woman in Tampa this past week said she didn't want her precious to hear Obama because he would know what they did in the privacy of their home. My first thought is what they did is probably manufacture meth and probably someone should check it out.

We (the royal we - feeling a little pretentiated today) are going to do something which would normally make our teeth chatter like a WWI era biplane machine gun - quote Thomas Friedman.

"What we need is people to stand up and say it's flat out stupid. That's is flat out stupid."

Can't wait to see what the red-baiters, scaremongers and paranoid freaks gin up next.

Break's Over

If Andrew Sullivan can do it, so can I. Now, it's time to get back on the horse. Some of you have been acting very crazy in my absence...

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Atlanta Mayor's Race - The Morning Line

The Mayor's race is hottin' up, so it's time to update The Morning Line. Remember - gambling is strictly prohibited and this is for entertainment purposes only.

Lisa Borders - 2 to1

Outlook: Lost in the the fury of the "Black Mayor Memo" was the fact that Borders caught Norwood in the some of the polling. Then, this week, she received an endorsement from the group that is on every Atlantan's mind - The Po-Po. Borders is starting to put the traditional dominoes together that lead to victory.

Mary Norwood - 8 to 1

Outlook: Borders has caught the early front runner in certain polls. Surely a sign Borders is cutting into her previous broad base support. Norwood needs something dramatic and that usually means going negative.

Kasim Reed - 15 to 1

Outlook: How do you tell a campaign is fading? It puts out a poll bragging about how it is catching the second place candidate.

Jesse Spikes - 50 to 1

Outlook: Everybody's favorite dark horse is holding steady at 2%

Kyle Keyser - 200 to 1

Outlook: A new horse has entered the race! Kyle is a great guy and deserves kudos for raising awareness about crime in the city, but this is nothing but an advocacy candidacy. It would be great to see him run for City Council next time around.

Mayoral Candidates On Transportation

Lest you ever think I've cornered the market on full bore snark blasts, check out Joeventures recap of last night's Atlanta Mayoral candidate forum.
Each of the candidates is, in each their own way, uniquely unqualified to be Atlanta’s next mayor. However, I have to congratulate them for running. Thanks to poor governance from the State, truncated city limits and — to put it diplomatically — “constituent issues,” Atlanta is extraordinarily difficult to govern. So my hats off to anyone who wants a job that no sane person should ever want.
That makes me want to quiver in a ball and cry! And I've been accused of being a ruthless s-o-b so many times I've lost count!

Joe is an unabashed transportation progressive (he and I have clashed on the issue in the past), but has a keen sense of smell when it comes to politicians attempting to manure the flowers. And he has no problem flinging it right back from whence it came.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The More Things Change...

I tried to stay out of the devilish details of the "Black Mayor Memo".

It's a tribute to my lack of prognostication skills that when I received the same tip on the source of the memo at about the same time as Galloway and others, I wrote it off as weird and so bizarre, it wouldn't have legs.

Of course, it was the talk of the town in a matter of hours. And then it became the talk of the town in such far away places as New York with her Old Grey Lady. And now it's hitting the national blogs.

So. Here we go again.

I could write a couple of thousand words about how Atlanta politics baffles outsiders or how this is a perfect piece of politics that let's people say what others think while allowing the oh-so public candidates to poo-poo such naughty utterances. I could probably write those pieces and a dozen more. And maybe I will.

But not today.

Instead, I take you back to 2007.
A chairman's race that could throw us back to the dark ages of fire hoses and police dogs? There is a proud history of leadership in this city, this county, this region. Somehow that leadership has lost its way in the past ten years. The current leaders better find that way again or someone will come along and show them the way out the door.
When all was old was new was old then new again.

More Noodling

More media noodling.

A friend informed me sometime ago that her "local paper" The Ann Arbor News was going tango uniform. Sort of.

The News converted to an online format.
While the print daily died, a new Web site, Ann rose with a mission of some original reporting, along with much social networking and community involvement.
I encourage you to read the entire article I linked. There have been many hybrid attempts and at times I have been guilty of being overly enthusiastic, but this one is fascinating. Especially how they meld the blogger content with the professional content.
The bloggers get technological assistance and coaching on the blog style, which Vielmetti says isn’t news or feature writing, but something unique. A copy editor reviews their posts after the fact and fixes typos or style and grammar errors. If one of the community bloggers writes something that really should be a news story, the post will be pulled until it can be substantiated, Vielmetti says. A reporter may be assigned to flesh out the idea — so in that sense, the community bloggers become a herd of highly invested tipsters.
I'm going to share a terrible secret - I secretly want an editor. I've always sought advice from the professional journalists - at times hounding them until they probably are ready to swat me on my puppy nose. The thought of a process which satisfies this need for mentoring is enticing. And I bet I'm not alone in those feelings.

And then this.
The unpaid community bloggers are described as “contributors” under their bylines on the site, in contrast to the employees who have “staff” beneath theirs.
It may seem small and it may seem stupid but this is important. Yes, it is differentiated, one of the myths we've battled over the years is the idea that we want to replace journalists, but the words "contributor" and "byline" is a monumental leap forward. It shows that the Ann Arbor News recognizes the differences in its content generators but puts aside the gross generalization that bloggers do not contribute anything new.

Sometimes, labels matter.

It's early still. But I have a feeling this one is worth watching.

Picking At Bones

Wendy turned me onto this interesting article by Michael Hickins. In the ongoing discussions of "the internet killed the newspaper star", he takes a contrary and brutal position.
But something has surely changed, otherwise the print media industry wouldn’t be in as much trouble. And that something is reporter salaries, which have become disproportionately high since the advent of the Internet.
That's a line sure to open a few eyes.

I've got my own theories (Craig's List as Napster, bubble economies) and some do not jibe with Hickins thesis.

But instead of more personal pontification, I thought I'd open this up to the crowd. I know there are many journalists and former journalists who read here and you cover the spectrum of salary, age and experience. You are the ones who actually know if Hickins is full of horse apples or not. What say you, ink stained wretches?