Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Friday Night Lights

My beloved Colquitt County Packers will play the Grayson Rams this Friday night in Loganville. While checking the ticket situation, I noticed the following on the Grayson website:
We need a volunteer to work the TDC parking lot beginning at 4pm. I have had numerous  emails and calls about parking, so I think that they will be bringing a large following.  I  believe that last year we had some issues with them getting here early and parking in that  lot.
Yes. We travel.

And yes. We tailgate.

Welcome to high school football - South Georgia style.

Tweet Of The Day

In response to Poltico's Mike Allen tweeting that Warren Buffet buying his hometown newspaper is a "great day for publishing", the AJC's Kyle Wingfield tweets:
I'm sure it would also be a "great day for publishing" if a Koch bought a paper.
In the rapidly closing circular world of "Republican thought", Warren Buffet = George Soros.

All because he uttered the heresy that we may be on the left side of the Laffer Curve.

Job Seeking Is A Part Time Task?

Sen. John Albers wants those receiving Unemployment Insurance Benefits to volunteer 24 hours a week or lose their "handout". He would amend current unemployment law to add the following:
The individual has performed at least 24 hours of service per week, either paid or unpaid, for a nonprofit charitable organization.
His justification?
“At the heart of welfare is the notion that government is responsible for the prosperity and success of our lives,” Albers said in a statement. “It is not. Government is responsible for providing the environment and helping people when needed with a 'hand up' and not a 'hand out.'”
I suppose we should give Sen. Albers a break since he's only been in office a little over a year and actually understanding the laws, portions of which have existed for decades, before commencing to tinker would be a terrible burden.

Unemployment Insurance is no hand out. It is exactly what it is named - insurance. Employers pay a relatively modest premium, in the form of a payroll tax, in reality no different than the subsidy they pay on most other forms of insurance (health, disability, etc.), and if the employee is separated through no fault of their own, that employee receives a weekly payment (once again, think of disability plans) for a period of their unemployment.

In exchange, employers benefit from a more stable workforce and through the various human resources functions of the Department of Labor, easy access to that workforce.

In order for the recipient to receive the benefit, they must not only be available for employment but actively seek employment. Actively seeking employment means using the majority of the work week mailing resumes, interviewing and networking.

Now, along comes the seasoned Senator Albers with the notion that actually using the majority of your week to search for work is counterproductive to searching for work. Those lazy lucky ducks would be much better served by squeezing 24 hours of picking up trash in between actually trying to find a job.

I would think the "conservative" approach would be to actually understand the system instead of immediately implementing radical change. And I bet Sen. Albers could accomplish this herculean task of educating himself in less than 24 hours a week.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Quote Of The Day II

Breaking the current "conservative" orthodoxy.
Government is not the sole solution in any of the above issues. But the limited government we have should be functional, competent, and dedicated to the overall policies that create an environment that lets individuals prosper.
Slowly but surely, Republicans are waking from their talk radio fever dreams to remember conservative philosophy does not divorce governance and competence.

Quote Of The Day

Political scientist Jonathan Bernstein rips into Drew Westen for accusing Obama of not being more FDR-like.
You know what can FDR kicked down the road for political reasons, to be dealt with after an election? A little something called WORLD WAR II.
Read the whole delicious teardown.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

More From The Bill Heath Files

Yesterday, I mentioned how Republican Senator Bill Heath is not satisfied with having "In God We Trust" as an optional sticker on our license plates. Instead, it should be required! And those heathens that don't like it will have to pay extra for a modesty sticker to shamefully cover up the declaration of worship!

Not surprisingly, this ain't Heath's first rodeo in wielding the power of government for righteousness and the preservation of modesty lest the bedrock of our country crumble!

In 2004, he tried to outlaw genital piercing. But for women only.

Amendment sponsor Rep. Bill Heath, R-Bremen, was slack-jawed when told after the vote that some adults seek the piercings...."What? I've never seen such a thing," Heath said. "I, uh, I wouldn't approve of anyone doing it. I don't think that's an appropriate thing to be doing."
The original bill outlawed female genital mutilation; a particularly heinous ritualistic practice usually performed on young girls. Heath  tacked on an amendment outlawing genital piercing even if it was a voluntary action of adult women on their own bodies.

Heath's zealotry to make sure the government appropriately enforced his version of sanctity for all things hoo-hah derailed the entire bill.

Ultimately, with some girl power from both sides of the Capitol and both sides of the aisle, the bill passed. History does not record if on this second try, Heath was unable to lift himself from the fainting couch to save the Republic once again.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

January Can't Come Fast Enough

In case you're wondering why I revved the engine up again, look no further than two pre-filed bills.

Exhibit A - Sen. Bill Heath is not satisfied with optional IN GOD WE TRUST stickers for license plates. He wants those magical words required. Those who don't want idolatry/graven images on our government required identification will have to pony up a dollar for generic county modesty stickers.

Exhibit B - After the hippie/communist/dirtbags who infest that leftist hive known as Mississippi (with that many consonants, they must all be descended from Russians!) destroyed righteousness by defeating the personhood amendment, Rep. Rick Crawford takes up the noble cause of protecting us from the sins of in vitro and birth control. Bonus....he's a Democrat. Oh, what fun we'll have dissecting that one.

Seriously. Who could stay away with the yahoos making it this easy?

Quote Of The Day

What do you get when you mix the state's leading Republican blog with a newspaper run by middle Georgia Democrats? A sometimes jarring dose of common sense.
At the heart of the issue is the Federal Government’s inability to process enough work visas or to process those that they are able to complete quickly enough. This, combined with the low chance of being caught without a visa and minimal consequences for those who are, has led to employers opting for illegal workers and for an unending stream of those who would take the jobs.
Of course, Charlie Harper glides by, barely touching the political crux of the problem - any straightening of this labyrinthine mess to ease access to a willing labor pool will  immediately elicit cries of "amnesty" for "law breakers" by those who wish to steer his party.

Friday, November 11, 2011

This Side Of The River

A pet political philosophy of mine is "this side of the river"; no matter how right you feel, sometimes you have to look around at who's with you on this side of the river.

In an interview with the Atlantic's Conor Freidersdorf, Minutemen founder Jim Gilchrist explains his "side of the river" moment.

In the mid-2000's Gilchrist made headlines for leading people down to the Mexican border to "assist" the Border Patrol in guarding against illegal immigrants. Then some really "interesting" people started showing up.

In 2007, a similar group created a "parody" video portraying a Minutemen killing an an illegal alien and burying him the desert. Gilchrist rightly condemned the horrid thing and that's where, for him, things went sideways.
I got down there on the border and started to lecture them. And they literally threw me off their mountaintop and declared me an enemy of America. At that point I realized it was becoming not about racism, but about outright fascism. You goosestep with me and my ideas or we're going to trash you just like we're going to trash the illegal aliens. And that's when I realized -- that was about 2007 -- that's when I realized that I had opened up a can of worms, somewhat. Part of this issue had opened up a can of worms and brought forth some of the ugliest people you can ever imagine.
Subsequent events even caused him to praise former adversaries the ACLU and soften his stance towards the Southern Poverty and Law Center,

He still holds to fairly hard line views on immigration, but he deserves credit for looking around and realizing, this ain't the place I'm supposed to be.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Quote Of The Day

Context  of the quote is the events of the last few days, Cain's weird press dealings, Ohio stomping Kasich's agenda flat and Mississippi strangely saying a pro-life amendment went too far. The entire piece is worth the read but to me, this is the kernel.
A party that gives a motivational speaker ten times the support of a two-term governor of Utah, re-elected with 84 percent of the vote, with strong bipartisan credentials and an even stronger tax reform plan ... well, it's a party in free-fall that also doesn't understand that it is.
The quote struck me, not only because it wraps some reality around our current fun show mirror political world, but it also reminded me of a recent conversaiton.

I try to avoid predictions because I'm not very good at them. But when a night fueled with alcohol caused two of the most reasonable men in Georgia  to turn red-faced, sputtering and abandon reason, I looked the Republican in the eye and said, "you don't see it yet, but he's going to roll you".

Monday, November 07, 2011

Crashing The Blame Game

When the entire global economy comes within inches of collapse, you can be sure there will be plenty of finger pointing. The direction of the pointed finger generally depended on your preconceived political point of view.

Listen to the Limbaugh/Hannity/Axis every day? Then you probably think it was the government forcing banks to loan to irresponsible people. Read Daily Kos on a regular basis? Then, it's all about unregulated greed with Wall Street running wild. If you're the Tea Party.....well, it's probably a weird mix of both, but really, you're just pissed about government money heading in six different directions and none of them yours.

I will admit that I've struggle to make sense of it all, but there's one thing that never seemed to jibe with reality.. Sure there were irresponsible loans and irresponsible borrowers and I'm sure Fannie Mae had its part to play, but how does Dudley Downbeat down the street taking a second mortgage to buy a boat result in global economic armageddon?

Based on one emailer to Andrew Sullivan, Dudley Downbeat had his role in the play but he was a walk-on showing up briefly while other larger players convinced the audience the show must go on.
Wall Street firms were regularly leveraged 30:1...the scale of the bubble to be increased by orders of magnitude - the equivalent of having 50 homes in a fire-prone neighborhood, but with 100 insurance policies on each and a lively market of bets on which will burn down first.  If this were just a sub-prime housing crash, it would have hurt (think dot-com crash), but it wouldn't have brought the global financial system to its knees.  That required Wall Street and AIG, with the ratings agencies helping along the way (by convincing institutional investors that all was safe).
The burning house analogy is the best one I've heard yet.

The analysis of what happened isn't finished (few have yet written about the hidden bank run that annihilated things like mutual funds) and will probably go on for the next decade. But it's clear there's plenty of blame to spread around, but it ain't going to spread like peanut butter. Some deserve some chunks.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Playing Mad Max On N. Highland

Creative Loafing's Gwynedd Stuart gets many things right in her article about daily conflict between drivers and pedestrians in Virginia Highland.

Atlanta is not a pedestrian friendly city. Sidewalks are sparse and multi-lane thoroughfares, even in the city core are numerous. Also, even on the never ending autobahns we call interstates, we text, apply makeup, read and stuff our faces with pounds of fast food flesh.

In a pedestrian dense neighborhood like Virginia Highland, it is down right frightening.


There are also some special factors about Virginia Highland which should be considered.

Between Ponce and Los Angeles, there are no fewer than 10 pedestrian crossings with a significant number placed mid-block. It would be interesting to research the genesis of this high frequency. I imagine it has something to do with it being an "entertainment district".

The result of this overcompensation is drivers start, stop, repeat process for the full 1.5 miles. It can be frustrating for the most patient driver.

But this is a mild annoyance compared to the far more dangerous game of Frogger played by the pedestrians.

I will not go so far to claim the previous point is causation for this one, but despite being blessed with abundance of crossings, Virginia Highland pedestrians have a peculiar laissez faire attitude about where to cross the street.

 It doesn't matter the conditions; light, dark, sunshine, raining., hail of frogs, it is inevitable that a drive down Highland will result in a sudden stop due to a pedestrian darting between cars to dash across the street.

Sunday, returning from my farm in south Georgia, I witnessed near tragedy. A car was inching its way out of Yeah Burger, attempting to turn left onto southbound Highland. Of course, the driver was looking to his right to avoid being boned like a T. At the same time, a gentlemen who was drunk/texting/generally oblivious began walking at a diagonal from the Taco Mac towards the other side of the street.

The car saw an all clear and gunned it. I do not exaggerate in saying that a life was spared by two humans suddenly becoming aware of a vast world outside their tiny existence, a quick swerve of the car and hilarious pirouette by the walker.

It is law that cars stop for pedestrians and any suggestion otherwise should be castigated. However, it is also law that pedestrians use the crosswalks and in this particular neighborhood it's almost impossible to avoid them.

But most important of all, if you are a couple hundred pounds of soft flesh, can we expect a smidgen of common sense instead of proudly strutting arrogance when you cross paths with 2000 pounds of twisted steel? As Gwynedd also notes, the law won't matter one smidge if you a smudge on the pavement.