Friday, January 30, 2009

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 9

A daily recap of the Georgia Public Broadcasting show "Lawmakers". The show airs weekdays at 7:00pm with a replay at 5:30am the following weekday.

Day 9

* Gold Dome. Good. Anchors. Good.

* The GPB Radio segment tonight is from the Macon bureau. Atlanta residents forced to listen to Sousa marches.

* Casey Time!

* The Lite Guv wants to keep the Property Tax Relief Grant. This puts him in opposition to the Governor. He wants to double the Homestead Exemption in case they can't fund the grant in the future. Isn't tax talk fun! He also wants to cap the ability of locals to reassess property forcing them to adjust millage rates. The Mayor's Council or whatever it's called is not going to like that.

* Rep. Jerry Keen (R-St. Simons) also wants to deal with the problem by capping assessments. With both houses heading towards the same target it's likely we're going to see some version of this thing.

* Minoo!

*My lord, we went straight from the property tax to the stripper tax. There has to be a joke in there somewhere. There are three bills here: add a fee to strip club cover charges, expand the requirement for reporting child exploitation from parents and caregivers to anyone and increase the age requirement for strippers from 18 to 21. Things got a little odd here. Minoo says that the funds raised through the stripper tax would go to aid the "victims". Rep. Renee Untermann says it will go to "help these girls". I'd heard these funds would go towards child exploitation victims (which is bad enough since except in the hobgoblin fantasies of the narrow minded there's zero connection) but if this thing is going towards some half-assed stripper reclamation project - well good lord, I just don't know what to say. Here's hoping it was just a couple of poorly worded phrases.

* Poison peanuts again. Sen. John Bulloch (R-My Neck of the Woods) wants food companies to actually tell us all when they are slopping the salmonella in our sustenance. What an idea! He also has a jar of Peter Pan peanut butter on the well which is both weird and funny.

* Casey Time! He wants to get to the bottom of the poison peanuts. Imagine that.

* Super speeders again. Valerie Edwards is up this time and I can tell by the background they are still using the same live shot. I have to get down there and witness the circus of the juggling mics. Oh yeah - super speeders. If you think you've heard these stories before, you have. The byzantine nature of law passing is more than just School House Rock simplicity so we will hear the same hot button issues over and over again until they wind their way to passage or doom.

* Sen. Jim Cole (R-Forsyth, the town not the county) introduced the super speeder bill. How delicious. If you've ever had the chance to pass through Monroe County on I-75, you know why this is funny. Gonza PSA - if you are headed southbound on 75, be sure to slow to the speed limit as you take the big sweeping left curve right after the Johnstonville Rd exit.

* The fancy traffic video now has sound effects. Sirens.

* Zero Based Budgeting unanimously passed the Senate. Another win for Lite Guv candidate David Shafer.

* The House passed its first bill today. Told you it's a slow process. And what did it entail? Renaming committees. Not kidding.

* Speaker Richardson is giving the new kids the "voting cards lecture". You ain't supposed to vote with someone else's machine. Monogamous machine manipulation is a good thing.

* Here's Britanny Evans. Same live shot.

* We have another protest. Seniors protesting budget cuts. I just can't make fun of this. I may be headed toward hell already, but there's no reason to grease the slide.

* No poll results today. I'm guessing they decided to let the polls roll for more than one day. Given time they might hit triple digit vote totals.

* Here comes the "Leadership Series" and first up is newly announced Guv candidate and House Minority Leader Dubose Porter. Let's see if we get the preacher or the pastor.

* And they are already talking taxes. Gonna be hard to preach on that. Oh, he hit the ponds in Perry thing again and the Milledgeville Veterans hospital cuts. We are going to hear about that VA for the next 18 months. Advocates having shovel ready projects to receive the manna from D.C.

* Whoops! "Let's make Georgia part of the partnership that shares in coming out of this economic depression or recession. Whatever you want to call it". Whatevah!

* GPB Radio time. WABE listeners cover your ears. Josephine Bennett of Macon talked to some school nurses about the prospect of being cut. Bibb County has 15 nurses for 25,000 students. Good gracious!

* Jekyll Island. I swear I've seen this committee footage before. I remember seeing that Rep scratch his head. Hmmmmm. This is probably important stuff but it involves bonds and debt and that makes my eyes glaze over.

* Back to SB-31 which would allow Georgia Power to bill for plants not yet built. On his show today, WSB's Clark Howard called this thing a dud. Good enough for me! (Also Jason Pye has an excellent write-up peeling this particular onion).

* Sen. Kasim Reed (D - Not Yet Declared Candidate for Atlanta Mayor) wants to allow Atlanta citizens to vote on a resolution to increase property taxes to fund more police. "It is our hope candidly that the mayor and council, because they can act faster than we can, we'd love it...if the mayor and council said we don't need the help of the Senate...we'll go ahead an assess a millage increase". Yes children, I'm pretty sure that was aimed at his potential future opponent Mary Norwood. Snap!

* No bands. No choirs. There was just too much news to cover. But get well Rep. Brooks Coleman! That's a wrap!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

My Morning Wooten

Keeping it simple today. The Post Office.
Kill Saturday delivery. Fine. But isn’t it time to open up the first-class monopoly to private sector competition?

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 8

A daily recap of the Georgia Public Broadcasting show "Lawmakers". The show airs weekdays at 7:00pm with a replay at 5:30am the following weekday.

Day 8

* Secret Squirrel says, I was pretty close on my analysis of the live shots. Technical difficulties (does the First Amendment prevent them from holding an exorcism?) have limited the good folks to a single live location. Hopefully in the future, they will have more locations and will not have to resort to frantic mic tossing and on the fly lighting adjustments. Considering they are damned near down to Dixie Cups and string, it's nearly a miracle they haven't missed a throw back to the studio.

* Now on with the show. There's the Gold Dome. There's Zelski in a jacket. Rock on!

* GPB Radio's Augusta bureau chief will be on for tonight's "Budget Crunch". Will there ever be an Atlanta segment or will they just force us to listen to five minutes of Vivaldi?

* T-SPLOST again. Our first live shots. It's more exciting and fraught with danger now, isn't it? Mullis is back. When he isn't acting the fool about our mutual ancestors or picking on the libruhls he actually makes a lot of sense.

* Whoa! Fancy effects of fast moving traffic on the connector!

* On to the hearings. Gena Evans in the house! And looking pensive. It's a crowded room. Other than the budget, transportation is the big 'un. Sen. David Shafer (R-Running for Lite Guv) has a piece of this action. Sen. Eric Johnson (R-Also Running for Lite Guv) is going to get jealous. Of course when we get to the Education, I bet we see quite a bit of the Savannah firebrand. Lot of meat in that report. It was a good 'un.

* Sen. George Hooks(D-Americus) is bringing up ethics legislation. Feel free to giggle now. Of course it has to do with Blagojevich. Did you really think we would make an entire session without hearing that name? The Senators look simultaneously bored and worried. Candidates have to report a campaign contribution within two days. Of course, we recently learned it's not all that clear what a contribution is is.

* Here comes another piece of poison. All us homeowners may have to write another check soon.

* Second live shot and it's Minoo!

* Damn the Senate Majority leader gets a nice chair!

* Chip Rogers (R-Big Mojo) says the Property Tax Relief Grant is a very convoluted way to administer tax relief. Let's all remember this moment when some of the local guys and gals start mewling over letting some of the "convoluted" federal tax cuts expire. There is going to be some serious squirming over this one.

* Rep. Winfred Dukes (D-Albany) introduced a constitutional amendment referendum to make homestead exemption permanent. This seems similar to the thing Sen. Steve Thompson introduced in the Senate yesterday. Which means I'm going to get emails tomorrow explaining all the arcane ways that make them not similar at all.

* Here's the radio spot. This might be the only opportunity for Atlanta people to hear this.

* They're talking about the property relief grant again. The counties want nothing to do with this thing. It's become an albatross. Not a drop to drink, baby. Not a drop to drink.

* The Poison Peanut Plant is coming home to roost. Jesus God! The FDA had to use terroism law to find out that salmonella sanctuary had discovered the tainted legumes but had not reported it! For God knows what reason, we don't have a law requiring food producers let us know if they are planning on spewing forth taint. Ag Commish Tommy Irvin (sporting a goatee! My man!) thinks we should change this situation. I predict quick passage.

* We're back to the weird Perdue hospital tax. This thing is so byzantine I'm afraid it will get lost in the wash.

* Sen. Dan Weber (R - Lifeline of Hope) always looks so earnest.

* I cannot believe the HBCU merger thing is still floating around. Someone find me how much money this will save. If it's more than Go Fish, I'll buy you a beer.

* Steve Davis (R - The Hudson Bridge Road Abomination) is actually talking about something other than transportation.

* Online poll results! This is new! Do you favor Stephen's tobacco tax, you know, the one he's talked about every day of the session? Results - 73% Yes, 27% No. But wait! There's a catch! Only 11 people voted. By my QBE educated calculations that's 8-3. For God's sake people, throw them a bone. Head over to Lawmakers and vote in the next poll.

* Technology Association of Georgia. I smell lobbyists. You would think their visuals would be better than Power Point bar graphs. They have a recommendation on how to improve our technology sector - I'll give you a hint - it's green, rectangular and has numbers in the corners.

* You need a prescription to get a flu shot. I didn't know that. The things you learn.

* The Jekyll Island hearing appears to have fewer attendees than the technology geek's hearing. That's a little sad.

* Rep. Doug Collins, just back from Iraq, has photos of his service. Pretty cool. They should limit the morning resolutions to stuff like this.

* Speaking of. The Senate honored Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson and ACC Player of the Year Jonatha Dwyer. Requisite boos and hisses from the resident puppies.

* Dubose tomorrow. Should be some good ol' fashioned politics. For now, that's a wrap!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dine Out

Tonight is Dine Out - an event to raise money for the reward to nab John Henderson's murderers. Participating restaurants will donate 20% of profits to Crimestoppers.

Yours truly will be cohosting trivia at Moes & Joes. Stop by and have a PBR for a good cause.

My Morning Wooten

The harder Jim fights against the stimulus package, the harder I find it to disagree with him.
Republicans are, of course, going to lose the battle to reshape, or to materially influence in any way at all, the $825 billion spending bill that’s being dressed up as “economic stimulus.” That’s $825 billion now. Stay tuned for new totals to come.
Ignoring for a moment that Republicans are just as guilty of "dressing up" government spending (faith based initiatives anyone?), my gut tells me Jim is right about main street feeling leery of new "stimulus".

It wasn't that long ago the so-called experts told us all that if we didn't give the banks oodles of money, we would experience a storm of sewage not seen since the locusts and frogs hit Egypt. Yet, months later, the financial institutions still refuse to let money flow.

We are getting a little tired of the government saying the only solution is to throw our money at the problem.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 7

A daily recap of the Georgia Public Broadcasting show "Lawmakers". The show airs weekdays at 7:00pm with a replay at 5:30am the following weekday.

Day 7

* No shockingly jacketless David Zelski today so we're off to a good start.

* Democrats have come up with their own transportation and no shock here - it comes from Sen. Steve Thompson. He wants to have a vote on a statewide sales tax where the funds wouldn't be limited to roads. He also wants to include a permanent homestead tax exemption. He ain't shy to take a big bite.

* There's a House Children and Youth Committee. Who knew! The Georgia juvenile code hasn't been revised since 1971! Lawyers and advocates want reform - things like a ban on holding children in adult facilities. It's a lot more than that and it's going to require more work for DHR.

* Here we go. The effort to redo the Public Defender system has started. More poison fruit from the Brian Nichols tree. Essentially, Republican Preston Smith wants the current council to be reduced to an advisory position. The PD system is under the Executive Branch? As Democrat Wyc Orr points out that's damned odd. They want to sue to get moved under the Judicial branch. I think we have a new front runner for issue coming from nowhere that causes the most bloodshed.

* Stephens is back with his cigarette tax. Isn't there a limit on how many times you can rise to speak on your pet project? Should be.

* Minoo!

* Joint meeting on economic development. Which means listening to lobbyist. Get out your buzzword bingo cards. "Sustainability" gets hit in the first 30 seconds.

* I just realized all the reporters at the Capitol are doing live shots. I now wonder if they are all queued up, furtively waiting for the one stationary camera. Maybe secret squirrel will provide an answer.

* GPB radio is starting a series called "The Money Crunch". Will those of us caught in the vortex of audio morphine known as WABE ever hear them? Only Lois knows.

* Someone wants to close the President Carter Visitor Center in Plains. Fortunately or unfortunately depending on your particular stripe, a wily legislator has found an ancient law that if any Georgian is elected POTUS we have to provide a visitor's center. And what savings would the closure generate? $186,000.

* Super Speeder is back. Funds to go trauma network.

* Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta) on Peachcare. And the liberals go wild! Really, she's railing against Governor Perdues weird tax on hospitals. The sky was yellow and the sun was blue. Ahh here comes the liberal part. We need more money from Washington so we can expand Peachcare. All is right with the world again.

* Georgia Nurses Association. More lobbyists. Karen Handel sighting! I think that's the first of the Sec. of State/Governor candidate. It's an interesting place for her to show up since this bunch doesn't want school nurses cut and that's a Democrat pet issue.

* Coal plants. Dude, this show is packed today! How will they make it all fit? Georgians For Smart Energy on one side. I'm going to start a lobbyist group call Georgians for Dumb Laziness. On the other side, Power 4 Georgians, more lobbyists not a boy band as you may have thought, says the black rock is the most economical form of energy. I'm betting the Nukes 4 Georgia boy band disagrees. Back to the "Smart" people. "The cheapest energy we have is the energy we don't spend". I swear she said that. It makes a weird sort of sense but it sounds like it comes from a fortune cookie.

* It was tourism day! Oh my dear lord there's some poor man wearing a See Rock City barn as a hat! This is better than that time Dan Weber started talking about Star Trek!

* T-SPLOST hits committee tomorrow.

* Whew! That was a ram jam episode! More tomorrow. That's a wrap.

ATAC Rally Video

ATAC Rally #1 - Little Five Points, Atlanta, GA. 1-26-09 from Grayson Daughters on Vimeo.

Grayson had camera rolling. I was there as well and may share some thoughts later.

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 6

A daily recap of the Georgia Public Broadcasting show "Lawmakers". The show airs weekdays at 7:00pm with a replay at 5:30am the following weekday.

Annnnnnd we're back. Recess over. Time for everyone to get to work.

* Ummmm. I thought my DVR was broken but apparently not. There's a frozen shot of a jacketless David Zelski while the promos play. While the PBS people are away the gremlins will play.

* Budget briefings. This should be exciting. Cuts. Cuts. Cuts. First metaphor alert - "we're getting down to the bone"

* DHR has eliminated 45 real positions. Take that Wooten!

* Chancellor Davis of the University System says "we are not a cost to the state".

* Minoo!

* Transportation. The T-SPLOST is coming! The T-SPLOST is coming! More Eggs and Issues basement tapes.

* Interviewing the Appropriations Chairs. Ben Harbin is wearinng a polka dot bowtie. Not a good choice. I'm sure Dick Williams would disagree. He also needs more pancake. I wonder if the budget cuts have affected the makeup department.

* Sen. Jack Hill won't call the elimination of the Property Relief Grant a tax increase. He calls it a "sensitive tax issue". heh

* Note to Rep. Harbin. You are always on camera! For a moment he looked either distracted or possibly violently ill.

* Despite budget crunch, trauma funding is a priority. According to Sen. Hill the Chinese symbol for crisis is the symbol for opportunity. That sounds like a wives tale. Gonna have to look that up.

* Teachers already got their pay raise while other state employees have not. That brings back fond memories 1992. A truism - teachers always get their raise.

* Hard to write a budget with the hopes of Congress sending us some pork, um sorry, I mean bailout money.

* Zero based budgeting got out of committee. Another Shafer win. It basically requires periodic reviews of the entire budget. I bet you thought they did that anyway. If you knew all what they don't do, you'd probably gather the neighbors and march on the Capitol.

* There are 119 departments in state government! Suddenly I'm feeling very libertarian.

* There's something in QBE (Quality Basic Education) called Class Cards that cost $11 million. What the hell's a class card? Superintedent Cox is explaining. It's a fancy way to say classroom supplies. Are they like credit cards?

* DOT Commissioner Gena Evans is talking transportation deficits. It's nothing but doom and gloom in that department.

* The anniversary of the Dixie Crystal Plant explosion is being used to push a trauma network.

* Sen. Harp wants to restrict how lawyers advertise. Really? Really? A Republican just used the term "regulate". The lack of money is making people slap crazy.

* Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) just said "ideer" just like Wilson does. It must be a coastal Georgia thing.

* Casey time! I was a little worried we would have no mention of the lite guv.

* That's a wrap!

Monday, January 26, 2009

My Morning Wooten

Well, well, well. Jim seems intent on giving me whiplash before he toddles off into retirement.

My vote, without reservation, is that the conservative minority in Congress and the Republican majority in the Georgia General Assembly, define what they’re trying to do with government — that is, to make it an instrument to cultivate personal responsibility and self-reliance — and coalesce around those agendas...The Democrats who control Washington are, without doubt, using programs like the State Children’s Health Insurance Program to move the nation to universal government-financed health care. Their intent was clear when President Bush vetoed earlier versions that moved the nation to that goal at a slightly slower pace.
Note that Jim doesn't fall into the easy myth that S-CHIP is "welfare". That's good. Those who benefit from S-CHIP are working class people who need a little help obtaining health insurance for their children. They pay premiums. There are limitations. Ignoring ideology for the moment, there is a lot of good in the program.

But Jim is right. Democrats intend to use the success of S-CHIP to push the universal healthcare camel-nose under the tent flap.

And that is where honest disagreement can occur.

It might surprise some that two years ago during the heated Peachcare debate, I was on the "wrong side" from some of the usual Democrat suspects. And here's the punchline - I used the same argument Jim used above.

Democrats (with notable exceptions such as Jim Marshall) view the Constitution's "general welfare" clause as a broad landscape where the brush of good can cover large swaths. Republicans (when they aren't advocating letting lunatics like Rush Limbaugh lead the party) see a narrow road where government provides rest stops as infrequently as possible.

In the case of healthcare, both sides have opportunity to make compelling cases without dipping into the crazy pool. It's as good a time as any to talk to us like adults. Believe it or not, we'll appreciate it.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Upcoming Week

Now the real work begins.

After using last week for mind numbing briefings, the General Assembly reconvenes this week and gets down to bidness.

Walter Jones of Morris News Service has a quick, dirty rundown of items already in the hopper and just over the horizon.

The words on every lip is $2 billion. It's the budget shortfall and the indigestion it causes is already burbling from the twin irritants of taxes and cuts.

On the cut front, Governor Perdue wants to save $30 million by eliminating school nurses and Democrats are not happy about it. As with most hacking at the budget there are both practical and political considerations.

In this age of zero tolerance on our campuses, exactly how will a child get their medicine with no medical professional on site? But there it is again, $2 billion. Every time either Donkey or Elephants cries about some essential service, the budget will whisper, if not here then where?

There is also little doubt the hue and cry of the Democrats is also filtered through politics. Expect every Republican attempt to save personal pet projects to be met with derisive calls of "they'll pay for the East Fall Line Doodad but not for your sick child!"

It's also difficult to not hear the echoes of Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle's recent defense of the infamous Go Fish program as a small part of a large shortfall. He may see that Banquo's ghost at his dinner table throughout the session.

How bad is the shortfall? Republicans are talking about raising taxes.

Of course, they are saying it's not a tax hike - it's no longer funding a relief grant. But if a pig is rooting in your vegetables, it doesn't matter if your neighbor calls it a dog. When homeowners who've already paid their annual property tax open the checkbook to lay out an additional $200-$3o0, what do you think they will call it?

Also lurking in the shallow waters is transportation. On the heels of DOT Commissioner Gena Evans disturbing report that she simply ain't got no money, Cagle, Perdue and Richardson met to address our ever coagulating arteries. What may emerge is a fundamental restructuring of how we spend the transportation dollar.

There will still be the lunatic sideshows like stripper taxes, but the sausage grinder is about to rev to high gear. Better put your apron on.

Friday, January 23, 2009

My Morning Wooten

All over the place today. There's things where we agree, things we've covered ad nauseum and things that are just plain weird. So let's pick on fallacious gem.
From Thursday’s AJC business section: “Eaton … cutting 5,200 jobs.” “Disney offers 600 voluntary buyouts.” “Intel plans to cut 5,000 to 6,000 jobs.” “Van Heusen closing 175 stores.” Now find an equivalent story in the public sector.
Ooooooo! Oooooo! Ooooooo! Pick me! Pick me!

What distant tome did I retrieve to bring forth such arcane knowledge ? The Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Evans replied that staff cuts were back on the table, though DOT had already made severe cuts in other areas. “To be frank I think my clock is pretty well cleaned at this point,” she said.
Another aspect of new Jim I won't miss. Myth making.



Star Wars: Retold (by someone who hasn't seen it) from Joe Nicolosi on Vimeo.

We've had a lot of hard tussles here lately. So let's take a break.

I can't stop crying. Press play and find out why.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My Morning Wooten

techniques that could be considered mean-spirited or at least insensitive ~Jim Wooten, 1-22-09

This is the Jim I will not miss.

The difference between the Bush Administration’s approach to the events of 9/11 and his critics’ is that Bush saw the attack on the homeland as an act of war. Most of those who opposed him on the war that followed saw it as a criminal justice matter, something akin to gangland killings on a larger scale.

Pardon me, but, bullshit.

Following 9/11, all America, with the exception of a thin sliver of pacifists and anti-war kooks, answered President Bush's call to take the battle to the terrorists' homeland with a resounding yes. 46 nations followed us into Afghanistan in an effort to stamp out al-Qaeda and their ruthless supporters the Taliban.

Then we invaded Iraq and it all began to fall apart.

What followed was a death spiral of US prestige in the world. What followed was a government wiretapping its own citizens, detaining its own citizens and yes, torture. What followed was a cascading failure taking our country from its highest pinnacle to one of its lowest depths.

Jim rolls out the usual litany of revisionism and fallacy claiming there was no torture, only "mean-spirited" and "insensitive" activities. He claims a renunciation of torture will tell the world the U.S. now plays by "recess rules".

He also claims that if the remaining detainees are brought from Guantanamo to the U.S., they will be treated like "pick-pockets" and "shop-lifters". How easily these supposed ardent defenders of our great nation slap in the face a judicial system which has served us well for 220 years.

What Jim fails to note is that by threading the loophole of detaining combatants on non-U.S. soil, the Bush administration gambled it could avoid constitutional protections that lace the bedrock of our principle. But what it did not appear to concieve is one day the detention camps must be closed and the remnants must be cleaned in a manner which not only continued to insure our security but also saw justice served.

Even Republican presidential candidate John McCain correctly noted Guantanamo is a stain on the honor of America. It is a stain which is deep and difficult, but it will be removed. Fortunately for us all, President Obama recognizes the need for prudence and deliberation to prevent damage to the fabric beneath.

But it will be closed. Thank God for us all, it will be closed.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

That Damned Liberal Media!

This was the front page of the AJC today yesterday. They did do a special section on the inauguration of President Obama, but...

My Morning Wooten

Complicated. On a day where the caterwauling of inanity comes from familiar corners, Jim shows that "common sense conservatism" is not completely out the door.
Conservatives in defeat can’t stop everything they find objectionable — such is the consequence of losing elections. But they can, as House Republicans are doing on the proposed $825 billion “stimulus” proposal, begin to use alternatives to define again what conservatives stand for in government.
No assinine interpretation of Rev. Lowery's benediction. No praise for Rush Limbaugh's call for President Obama's failure.

A statement of conservatism that excludes the insanity of demonization and instead exudes the core priniciple of a desire for smaller government - Jim set a pretty good baseline for Republican recovery. Now, it is up to the individual whether that baseline will be used as a platform for higher purpose or whether it is more enjoyable to continue living beneath the floor in the wallow with the Hannitys, Limbaughs and Becks.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I rarely call out another Georgia blog directly. For the most part, even when we disagree, we are supportive.

But this is one of the most idiotic things I've seen so far.

For anyone to see divisiveness or bigotry in Rev. Lowery's words is either woefully or even willfully ignorant of the history of the civil rights movement.

As Decaturguy says,
True Southerners who know their history heard what Lowery said and had a good laugh.
Do not let woeful and willful ignorance rule. Do not let the modern know-nothings have any room except for their ever-shrinking world.

Georgia Politics Podcast Episode 20

The latest Georgia Politics Podcast is up and you can listen here.

Jen Brock and Catherine Smith of Blog For Democracy, Grayson of Mostly Media, JosephG of Dorablog and myself talk a little inside baseball on the legislature, ponder a potential Democrat slate for 2010 and get pretty passionate about crime and the potential for a regional solutions.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Remembering Georgia Men

When I first saw the above picture, I smiled. Though separated by a generation of life and the icon engraving passage of time, I felt a kinship. No matter how the world painted Otis, he loved his cows.

Also separated by a generation, Dr. King long ago passed into legend. Yet, it is still the pictures of his smile immersed family life, his proclivity to tell a joke which move me today.

Today we will all dip into reflection. Much will be said of great deeds and great legacy but it should also be remembered that it was in the quieter love that the men from Georgia carried their messages beyond the bounds of their home. Love of farm. Love of family. Love of life. For it is in love, where the dream lives on.

My Morning Wooten

One day, I will tell you all my thoughts on Jim Wooten. Like many things in the south, they are filled with darkness and loathing but will probably be proceeded by the phrase "bless his heart". ~griftdrift, 7-5-06

Many years ago, I sat in the Alliance Theater's small studio space attending a performance of a strange little play about incest, molestation and learning to drive. Before the house lights dimmed, I noticed a distinguished looking man sitting in the row just ahead. It was not an event where one would expect to see the conservative voice of the Atlanta Journal.

Bless his heart, Jim Wooten is a complicated man. Complicated is a southern term used when we can't decide if a fellow is the smartest man in the room or the craziest.

In the days before the afternoon Journal was absorbed by its liberal morning counterpart, Jim along with his mentor Durwood McAlister, held the conservative line. Their articles were not only counterpoints to the Cynthia Tuckers and Maureen Downeys but also to the rapidly rising shrill voices of talk radio. Common sense conservative born decades earlier was carried on in those pages.

Despite the desire of conservatism, time moves on and even the staid changes. McAlister retired, the afternoon daily disappeared and Jim moved across the hall.

Whether it was the emergence of the Rovian philosophy of the winner rules absolutely or a need to distinguish completely from the voices of the left or a final unfettering of real personality, Jim also changed.

Although the title remained "Common Sense Conservatism", the content slowly morphed to mirror the screed merchants of the day. Rumor, innuendo and talking points replaced subtlety and serious thought.

Whispers of the old Jim sometimes emerged - usually when speaking of monetary things or the inevitable passage of old friends.

Now he has one foot out the door, but the weekly column will continue and I will continue to give him a poke - mostly because he deserves it but partly because I believe somewhere beneath that shock of white hair still lays the mind that once upon a time laughed appropriately and winced appropriately at actors on a stage speaking of things most dark and twisted.

Perhaps, one day when I am also longer in the tooth, Jim and I can sit on the porch, drink lemonade and natter on about the things two old farm boys natter on about. We might even talk about being complicated.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 5

A daily recap of the Georgia Public Broadcasting show "Lawmakers". The show airs weekdays at 7:00pm with a replay at 5:30am the following weekday.


*A brief note. Sources tell me the herd of gremlins plaguing the show are due to changes in studio locations. Essentially, they are doing simulcasts from the Capitol and the 14th Street studios and all without a live truck. Those of you in the "bidness" will understand the difficulty of that challenge. Now on with the show!

* Audio - check. David and Nwandi - check. But everyone's wearing black. Some sort of ritualistic dress to ward off the evil spirits?

* Transportation. This is the second big egg after the Budget. Chair Vance Smith is talking about a statewide SPLOST (that's fancy talk for sales tax) for transportation. The disbursement would then be based on population in the 30 largest cities. I'd like to see the numbers on this. Some of the smaller burgs might only be able to hire an extra crossing guard.

* Sonny wants to tax hospitals to make up for a Medicade shortfall. It seems odd to tax the very institutions involved in the shortfall. Sounds a little like voodoo. Richard Sepulvado (also wearing black, I hope somebody didn't die!) is trying to explain this stuff and its making my head spin. Something to do with the Feds and reimbursements. Apparently if we don't raise this bit we could lose a larger amount from the Feds. Only in government.

* Rep. Ron Stephens is back on his tobacco tax. According to him its a cure-all for many a budget woe. I need to research how many times they've raised this particular tax. I seem to recall its happened before. Or maybe that was the Feds. Oh hell, where's Sepulvado. My head's spinning again.

* Rep. Roger Bruce wants to guarantee parents can take one day off work a year for school functions without losing their jobs. Yeah, that has a chance in Hades of passing. And if Rep. Bruce sounds familiar, he's the guy who also wants casino gambling. And yes, the combination is as odd as it sounds.

* Week In Review time! We're finally getting to see the Lost Tapes of The Eggs and Issues Breakfast! I'll take this time to reflect on the first week of "Gonzo Lawmakers". Okay. Done.

* They're already taking a recess?! What's next? Cookies and juice followed by a nap? Actually next week is the budget briefings. You can watch that meat grinder online and when it starts I'll provide a link.

* Resolution to apologize for slavery. A similar one failed in 2007. We need to start a checklist before each session starts. Bobby Franklin's HB 1, tobacco tax, apologize for slavery...

* More Eggs and Issues Basement Tapes! How long until we see Casey? Sonny's up first and we have good b-roll of the Chamber's fine china. These guys really don't know what to do with their hands with a clear podium. Makes you wonder what goes on when its not a clear podium.

* Casey Time!

* Back to Sonny and the State of the State.

* Minoo!

* The Southeastern Diesel Collaborative gave some award to Coke. What the hell does diesel have to do with Coke? And why is something that sounds like a trucker convention giving out awards? Apparently Coke has done something to reduce emissions. That joke just writes itself, doesn't it.

* Sen. Emmanuel Jones is asking that a portion of the auto bailout go to minority auto dealers. State invading the Federal playground - Democrat style.

* A choir from Florida is singing. They're here for King Weekend so hold the snark.

* Rep. Doug Collins was sworn in today. He couldn't participate Monday because he was serving in Iraq. Welcome back Rep. Collins and thank you for your service. Dude, also passed the bar while he was overseas! My lord, sir. The General Assembly's going to seem like a picnic!

* That's a wrap. Lawmakers will take a break over the next week and so will Gonzo Lawmakers. Back to the usual nonsense for now.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 4


*Not a lot happened today so maybe we'll have a lot of bands playings, pages being photographed and funky resolutions.

*David and Nwandi both on the set. Audio working. Best start so far. And I take back what I just said since the technical difficulties from yesterday probably means we're going to have a lot of Eggs and Issues Breakfast filler.

* Revenue estimates. This session is all budget all the time. Sen. Jack Hill, appropriations chair, has charts, cool! Uh oh, all the squiggly lines seem to be going down. Not cool.

* Rep. Roger Bruce (D-Atlanta) is talking about all the people boarding busses for jaunts to Victoryland. We need some homegrown gambling! His bill would allow the citizens to vote on the measure

* It's Dr. King's birthday and Governor Perdue is issuing a proclamation. Second mention of Nemehiah this session. Old Testament prophets are in vogue this year.

* Minoo!

* Education time. Kathy with a K Cox, State Superintendent and game show whiz, supports merit pay for Math and Science teachers. Why am I thinking this is the issue none of us saw coming but will boil over?

* More rules. Told you they were going to have to stretch to find interesting stories. Sen. Steve Thompson (D-Marietta, he's still a Democrat?) is talking about cross-over day being changed. Sausage making at its finest. There's one blogger I know that this kind of stuff probably titillates.

* Trauma Care. The special commission to study this says we need more trauma centers, especially south of Macon, durh.

* Casey time! And it's the same thing he said about trauma centers three days ago.

* Tort Reform. Our first Eggs and Issues clip. There was actually a very reasonable discussion on this issue at Peach Pundit. Get thee there and read. Bottom line this seems a loser to Democrats, some Republicans and the Libertarians. Judge those bones on your own. Wagering may be taken later.

* There are three bills regarding using cell phones while driving! Maybe I should take wagers on which one of these crosses the finish line first. It appears they got b-roll from a nearby AT&T store.

* Oh lord! Bobby Franklin. Get ready for a ride on the crazy train. Franklin submits his abortion bill every year and vows to continue to do so. HB1 was defeated last year 152-2. Will likely get the same result this year. That is all.

* Digital TV is coming! Apparently the legislators are the only people in the country who didn't know thus requiring a special meeting to explain how the new fangled technology works.

* And the MLK tribute continues and it is good. And with business done I will enjoy it without further comment. Back again tomorrow. For now that's a wrap.

My Morning Wooten

Keeping it simple today.

Jim's right.

The "Clunker" program is window dressing. The market is already adjusting towards fuel effecient/alternative fuel cars and as usual the government is behind the curve. Unfortunately, the window dressing this time is constructed from your tax dollars. Not good.

Another East Side Shooting

Another attempted robbery near an eastside drinking establishment. This time the intended victim was able to take action.
In the Wednesday incident, a man and woman had just left the Graveyard Tavern and returned to their car in the Ace Hardware parking lot across the street. They were sitting inside their car waiting for the vehicle to warm up when a man approached with a gun and demanded money, Atlanta police Sgt. Lisa Keyes said...“At that time, the male inside the vehicle pulled his own weapon and shot[the suspect five or six times,” Keyes said. The unidentified suspect died at the scene.

Gonzo Lawmakers

Day 3 - State Of The State

* Oh God. Public television doesn't have commercials

* They are doing the entire speech. You can watch here. I'll be back in 30 minutes.

* Now the Democratic Response. Which I was invited too (ahem Republicans, pick up the slack on the invites) but could not attend.

* Presumptive candidate Dubose Porter - "Parents and teachers are calling for help for our schools but instead, we built boat ramps" BOOYAH!

* Whoa. Now talking about horse parks in Houston County (home of Governor Sonny). The Dems are coming out swinging.

* "In Perry, we're building a fish pond". Damn, DuBose has the come-to-Jesus face on. It's about damned time.

* Now we come to the plan. This is usually where the Dems lose it. But he's already mentioned Education and Transportation so maybe this time the Dems have come to play.

* We're into begging for Obama dollars. Not good.

* We must work with Washington is not something a politician in Georgia should ever say.

* Numbers. Numbers. Numbers. Democrats need to stop pushing numbers and be more righteous.

* Now we're into the guns and butter. I'm pretty sure we've heard all this before.

* I'd like a little preachin' here. It ain't happenin'

* Just saw a lobbyist in the background shot. They're like kudzu.

* Minoo!

* GAE lobbyist. I'll take gimmees f0r $400, Alex

* Watching the background in these interview shots is like watching DragonCon in an alternate universe.

* I just saw another person I know. You would think I would have more scoops by now. I might be getting lazy.

* AARP Lobbyist. We must be in Double Jeopardy where the scores can really change.

* Sen. Nan Orrock speaking for trauma care. It's going to happen this year. We just have to see what form it takes. Which reminds me. Where's Sen. David Shafer? He's gotta make a splash soon.

* Looks like Doug Stoner is the camera face for the Dems today. Second time he's been on. Conscious choice or just a nose for the bright lights?

* IA in the house! Chuck Clay gets the closing interview.

* "Education is the critical buzzword". Can someone tell me when it wasn't the buzzword?

* They're going to talk about Digital Television and child prostitutes tommorow. Can't wait. That's a wrap.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My Morning Wooten

Second verse, same as the first.
Surely the Legislature will not allow itself to be sidetracked on questions like Sunday beer, wine and liquor sales — the pet legislative agenda item of convenience store operators — or video gambling in Underground or elsewhere.
No Sunday alcohol sales. No casino gambling. Why? Because Jim believes the state should "draw the line somewhere on the exploitation of its vulnerable".

So called "conservativism" - government shouldn't tell you how to spend your money or live your life, until we decide it should.

Silly Before Business

I've given up trying to figure Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) out. Last year, I called him a peckerwood. Yesterday, I marvelled at his admission that transportation in this state should involve more than asphalt. Now, we find that he's sponsored a resolution pleading with the Internal Revenue Service to revoke the tax-exempt status of ACORN.
"An organization that chooses to undermine the integrity of our nation’s election process should not be entitled to tax exemption benefits,” Mullis said."
Let's ignore for a second that the only evidence of ACORN tearing at the fabric of the Republic is in the fever dreams of right wing radio. Let's also ignore the group's tax status is not a state issue.

Instead, can we ask Sen. Mullis to leave the silly behind and focus instead on the business of Georgia?

UPDATE: It appears ACORN doesn't even have tax exemp status. It's gone beyond laugher now.

AND ANOTHER UPDATE: "Jesus, this never ends", so sayeth the Ginger Flash. Welcome to the rabbit hole, Thomas. So a division of ACORN does have tax exempt status? Maybe? Who knows? Who the hell cares? Get on with the business of the state and leave the stirring of mud to others.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Gonzo Lawmakers


* Audio's working today. That's good.

* And the glitch-free live broadcast didn't last long. Nwandi Lawson is not on the set.

* Eggs and Issues breakfast called a "tasty event". Oh my.

* The breakfast has a clear podium which looks a little bizarre. Hope everyone's socks match. Governor Perdue doesn't look comfortable with that much exposure.

* Protestors at the Capitol. Seems early for the picketing to start. They don't want Georgia Power to get money for power plants before they are finished.

* Ahhh the protestors purpose becomes clear. They're anti-nuke and the two new plants are nuke. They are holding large pink cardboard cooling towers that vaguely look like pigs with lipstick. Points for the clever.

* One protestor claims they're worried about the cancer. Republican Don Balfour disagrees and seems a little incredulous at the reasoning. Maybe later in the session we'll get anti-cell phone protestors.

* Senate Democrat Robert Brown - "This is not the time to whine". He's talking about the lack of committee chairs from the minority party. We're hearing a lot of "unity" talk this session.

* Rep. Cecil Staton (shout out to crazy Macon!) re-affirms the need for trauma centers. Despite the budget crunch there seems to be a lot of push behind some programs that are going to cost big bucks.

* More Casey! Speaker Richardson's gonna have harsh words for GPB if this continues. Once again, no gun brouhahas to muddy the waters.

* Oh lord. Lawmakers is one hour tomorrow. I'm going to get carpal tunnel.

* Reporters are so bored they've already started talking to lobbyists. Those guys and gals will talk to anyone. I even had one talk to me last year. Once he got past his skepticism, he gave me quite an earful.

* Back to the breakfast. The editing on this is giving me whiplash. More Casey! Is the equal time clause still in effect or did that go the way of the Fairness Doctrine dodo? I may have to start a running clock on Casey time.


* More lobbyists! Lord help us, it's D.A. King! We're already down to talking to the firebrands (I'm trying to be kind here)? We have 38 more days of this mess?

* South Cobb band playing. They're going to the inauguration, you know.

* The Casey time is explained. They are having technical issues showing the tape of the other speakers at the breakfast. Solution? More Casey!

* Load up the whole interview and let it roll! Seven minutes with the Lt. Gov. Now that's how you stretch during a glitch. And with the end of our daily Casey Time, that's a wrap.

Gonzo Lawmakers

Georgia Public Broadcasting's Lawmakers is an excellent resource to keep up with the goings-on under the Dome. It broadcasts nightly at 7:00pm (rebroadcast at 5:30am for you early birds) on your local PBS station.

You can also get a wild and wooly recap of the show here as I'll watch the show with my ID in high gear and spew forth whatever comes to mind.


*Audio is dead for the first two minutes. Not a good start.

*Newly elected Senate President Pro Tem has seen this meme.

*Rules, rules and more rules. This is the glue that holds it together but it's not very interesting.

*Now the already heavily reported capitulation of House Dems to the election of Glenn Richardson as Speaker. Although some might say they invoked Sun Tzu's maxim about not fighting battles you can't win.

*The "hawks" are back. Hawks allow the majority party to add extra members to attend committee votes. Republicans then talk about "engrossment". This is sausage making at its finest.

*Republican Jeff Mullis just invoked a future with high speed rail, light rail and passenger rail! Blow Joshua Blow! Walls be coming down!

*Lt. Gov Casey Cagle talks trauma. He points out $60 million went to trauma care last year but "not one new trauma center was opened". Wait a minute. Trauma centers are that cheap to open? Then why don't we have one in every metro area? Cagle also says we need to make sure "money allocated will really take care of our citizens". Interestingly, last week in an interview with Wilson Smith, Lt. Governor Cagle when asked about the the Governor's Go Fish program ($19 million) pshawed talking about programs that cost millions when we are talking about a budget of billions. Now, a program also involving mere millions that provides a critical service needs heavy scrutiny? Boat ramps vs. trauma care. One hardly bothers the larger picture while the other needs accountability. Figure that one out.

*Raise taxes on cigarettes and strippers. It could be a rough time in sin city but these things aren't going anywhere but they should fun to watch.

*It's the Casey Cagle show. He's up to four spots in the current episode. Handel and Ox need to court some GPB producers.

*TSPLOST is coming back. I doubt the House is going to be able to hold it up this time.

*And now everybody's singing Happy Birthday which means that's a wrap

Monday, January 12, 2009

What Is Goin' On: Jason Pye On The Session

Jason was on this morning.

His solution for prison budget short falls? Pardon non-violent drug offenders. I wish I'd thought to say that when I was on Wilson's show the other day.

Keeping The Lights On

How bad is the budget crunch?

One Atlanta councilman wants to shut off the lights on the interstates.
Since it’s a federal highway controlled by the state, “they should pay for it,” said Maddox, who’s been on the council since 1976. “That’s one million to offset the cutbacks.”
We seem to be getting closer to Mad Max land every day.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

In The News

Twas the night before the gavel and all the legislators were tucked safely in bed.

Things are hottin' up so here's some reading to help you prepare.

Jason has been doing yeoman's work so he's about to get a lot of link love.

Georgia Legislative Watch has a comprehensive preview with a bit of a libertarian skew.

Keeping score is easy with this handy dandy lineup of the leaders of both parties. Then there's the guys and gals who do the real work - the Committee Chairs.

The budget is going to be item number one and that means cuts. One area under scrutiny may be the myriad Halls Of Fame and museums. I'd personally hate to see the Agrirama go as it's been around for like forever and their general store has the best jawbreakers in the state.

We can't have a session without politics getting in the way. GLW has the break down of the all important cash raised. Also, this morning Dick Williams scooped everyone by announcing SOS Karen Handel is entering the Governor's race. This afternoon Handel confirmed her entry to anyone who would listen.

Away from the pork trough of the Gold Dome, the story of John Henderson's murder continues.

It's a dirty little secret that sometimes the police peddle in disinformation but the level of inaccuracy in the initial report to the media is startling. It appears now that Henderson was not killed "execution style". Instead, the killers shot randomly through a closed door. Why does this matter? As the Brian Nichols trial showed us, getting a death penalty sentence in Fulton County is never a sure thing. Showing aggravating circumstances, a primary requirement for the most serious charges, just got a little harder.

Meanwhile, the citizens of Atlanta are taking action. Atlantan's Together had their first meeting in Little Five Points today. They had a lot of people show up and they got plenty of press. Pretty impressive for something that just came together last week.

That's the two big stories this week. Break's over. Time to start paying attention again.

Friday, January 09, 2009

In Today's Issue of WTF

Today, a channel 46 crew was in the lobby of City Hall East filming for an ongoing series about billing problems in the Water Dept. For reasons that are unclear, one of Atlanta's finest decides what the good publicity deprived department needs is for him to start cuffing the press.

Live Apartment Fire reports the APD admitted its error and Mayor Franklin issued an apology.

You can view the raw video here. It's a slice of Warholian weirdness.

More Preseason Prep

Georgia Legislative Watch has cranked back up.

We face a critical session this year. GLW is one of the best places to keep track of the madness.

You can also follow on Twitter.

My Morning Wooten

I'm feeling righteous.
New 320-place setting White House china selected by the Bushes cost almost $500,000. So what? It was paid for by a privately-funded trust. Let the man go.
Bush's china is the 14th official service. The official count is 7-5 Republican to Democrat with 2 belonging to parties we barely remember.

And every service since Johnson has been purchased by private funds. By the way, he was a Democrat.

You let it go.
Best suggestion for Gaza and the Palestinian Authority comes from former U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton, writing in the Washington Post. Argues Bolton: “We should look to a ‘three-state’ approach, where Gaza is returned to Egyptian control and the West Bank in some configuration reverts to Jordanian sovereignty.”
Only one problem. Gaza goes to Egypt. West Bank goes to Jordan. I assume the third state is Israel. Because in a three state solution, we have to have three states. Jordan. That's one. Egypt. That's two. Israel. That's three. Wait a second. What about that Palestinian Authority thingie?

Jim. I'm just a simple boy from South Georgia. Can you help me? Please tell me the last time a nation voted itself out of existence?
MARTA’s projected deficit of $57 million may prompt higher fares (up 25 cents to $2), higher parking fees or service reductions. One other proposed “solution” is more tax. My suggestion would be to consolidate MARTA as a mass transit-only agency. Spin off the buses into the private sector and let them provide service where and how the market dictates.
Sounds like a good solution. Let's implement it right after you tell me when a paved road ever showed a profit.

We're going to take the next one in pieces.
Interesting dilemma for President-elect Barack Obama, who vowed to shut the Guantanamo military detention center.
So did John McCain. Oh wait. He lost. So we should probably blame him. If only he had run on that winning Republican playbook from 2006.
Turns out no nation wants the bad guys
Who does? Do you want bad guys? I'm pretty sure I don't want bad guys. But the UK (you know, the guys and gals who stood by us through the storm) accepted some of these bad guys as recently as 2004.
Take ’em, pleas U.N. torture investigator Manfred Nowak. Many, he says, are harmless. Maybe. But many aren’t.

This is the standard the supposed guardians of our forefathers believe in. Maybe.
Griffin Bell was one of the truly great men that Georgia, or any state, produces. He’s monument material.
Jim's absolutely right. But I can't help but think what Thinking Right would have said if it existed 30 years ago when Bell served as Attorney General under the eternal right wing boogeyman known as Carter.
Calling Atlanta’s neighbors to the north “northern suburbs” requires a definite perspective. For those of us who live there, Atlanta is our suburb. Wonder why you never see it described as Cobb’s southern suburb.
Stop attending Hawks game. Stop attending Falcons games. Stop flying out of Hartsfield. Stop getting airlifted to Grady. Stop talking through every damned show at Chastain.

Start paying for the MARTA that takes you from free parking at Doraville all the way to exotic downtown (including not only certain sports venues but also the ivory towers of the Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Start driving to the reknowned international point of departure known as Birmingham.

Oh. And when your teenager wraps that brand new car around a telephone pole? Make sure the medivac takes them to Athens General.

But most importantly build a concert venue where everyone acts like they are sitting in their living room watching American Idol.

All of us chickens down in the suburb called "Atlanta" will just stare up in wonder.


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Atlantans Together Against Crime & Cutbacks

I don't get into advocacy too much but I'm going to give this one a chance.

Atlantans Together Against Crime & Cutbacks is an embryonic advocacy group born in response to the tragic death of John Henderson.

Grayson has video here with organizers Tessa Horelhed and Kyle Keyser.

Photos From The Vigil

Joeff Davis of Creative Loafing took the above photo. You can see the rest of Joeff's photos here.

Also, John Spink and Vino Wong of the AJC were there and you can see their photos here.

What Is Goin' On: The Preseason

Wilson and I tackle the upcoming legislative session which means we tried to wrassle with the budget and just how he hell we get out of this mess.

Economics is not a lot of fun to talk about but it's what we are all dealing with. Maybe next time will talk about guns, liquor and strip clubs.

Listen here.

Among The Candles

No notebook. No quotes. To interrupt the near silence with questions which had been answered or were unanswerable seemed inappropriate. Even the pros, the photogs, the camera jockeys, the tv faces moved quietly, respectfully, through the crowd which gathered in the pre-dawn chill at The Standard.

They walked from their houses, drove from nearby neighborhoods , even braved the cold by catching a ride in the bed of a pickup truck to honor the memory of John Henderson.

The previous morning, while closing the restaurant, Henderson was brutally murdered.

Tired, red eyes glistened with fresh tears. A young woman volunteered she was late because she was up most the night comforting friends. Some of the eyes glinted with anger.

Originally, there were ideas of protest. Questions about public safety in an era of shrinking budgets and police furloughs remained unanswered, but the owners of The Standard asked that now no be the time. Anger was present, but for the moment it remained internalized, pushed aside by the horror of having this young man's life ripped away.

No questions. No answers. Not today. Later questions will be asked and answers will be given. A reckoning will come - for the story of John Henderson is not finished.

To donate to the John Henderson Memorial Fund, go to and follow the link to make a donation via credit card or mail donations by check or money order to: Grant Park Neighborhood Association, P. O. Box 89235, Atlanta, GA 30312. Please designate “John Henderson Memorial Fund” on the donation

Skin In The Game

It's no secret I'm an advocate of first person journalism. My greatest influence would say in order to execute this form of writing you have to have some skin in the game.

So, I'm going to The Standard this morning. And a little later, we'll see if I can write the story. Or if it's too close.

Back in a while.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

When Crime Hits Home

Not a lot to say right now. Although not a regular at The Standard, I certainly go there enough to be shaken by the news of the murder of one of their employees.

With difficult times, thieves and predators get more desperate and more violent. Also, cities strapped for cash make hard choices. Last week, the City of Atlanta announced all officers would take an extra day off every two weeks.

These are troubling time. It's a time where no matter on which side of the bar you stand, we all stand together.

UPDATE: There is a vigil tomorrow morning at The Standard. And that's not a typo. It's 7:00am.

Atlanta, GA, January 8, 2009 – Due to the January 7 Robbery and Murder at Grant Park bar, Standard Food and Spirits, residents of Zone 6 have united to protest cuts in police protection and public safety. January 8, 2009, concerned citizens should meet at 7:00am at The Standard to remember the victims of crimes city-wide and to voice our concerns. Participants are encouraged to bring candles to light as well as large signs and placards to help convey their message.

UPDATE II: The owners of The Standard have asked that tomorrow's event be a vigil and not a protest. Please do not bring placards and what not.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Jeb Bush Won't Run

Despite the desperate panting of some "conservatives", former Florida governor Jeb Bush will not run for the Senate.
After thoughtful consideration, I’ve decided not to run for the United States Senate in 2010. While the opportunity to serve my state and country during these turbulent and dynamic times is compelling, now is not the right time to return to elected office.
Now is not the time. Hmmmmmm.

Monday, January 05, 2009

This Means War!

I can't stop looking and laughing. That map is a hoot.

I don't give WMCC enough play. It's some of the best satire in the state and brings forth an underexposed truth - Macon is a very weird place.

The border "war" between Bibb and Monroe counties is quite serious. Well, at least as serious as our impending War of the Waters with Tennessee. You see, the big ol' Bass Pro Shops with its oodles of tax money sits in the disputed area.

Fishing. Guns. Outboards. Money. It's difficult to imagine a seriouser combination.

Count on WMCC to be there when the northern aggressors cross the Bolingbroke line.

Guns, Guns Everywhere

Things are ramping up fast. Lt. Governor Cagle held his first press conference an the Galloway was there. Budget was on the tongues but so was guns.
The lieutenant governor was emphatic about one issue in particular. A bill to expand the public areas in which a permitted, concealed weapon can be carried will be going nowhere.
Did I just hear the sounds of jets firing up in DC? Will we sound hear the clickety-clack of lizard skins in the halls of the Capitol?


Just days away from fanciful feastings on eggs and wild hog, all in the legislature for the moment agree - it's all about the budget.

Other issues will fascinate and early wagers are on the perpetual sundays sales and the latest gun bills, but despite agency heads startlingly returning money to the till, revenue is down and the economy seems to continue sliding down a boat ramp. The budget will be front and center with the only question being whether the Republicans can hold the horses together to make the process as painless as possible or if we will see a third straight year of internecine warfare.

It seems a good time to take stock and prepare.

Dick Petty's has a good wrap up on the pre-files including the eternal submission by Bobby Franklin of HB-1.

Travis Fain focuses on the economy and how the upcoming hog wallow will affect Middle Georgia. No word on if higher powers will have to step into the looming Monroe-Bibb border war.

And despite all the sausage making, there's always room for politics. Sen. David Shafer and Eric Johnson are already throwing punches. They are both wily campaigners not afraid to get in licks. If the Democrats can pull in a big name, like maybe a certain pol from down around Lake Seminole way, the lite guv race could be the one to watch.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

My Morning Wooten

A rare saturday edition.

I normally let Jim off the hook on the weekends but I just can't let this one pass.

First, we set the table with a certain type of argument which seems all too common in this era. Can you say strawman? Good. I knew you could.
A straw man argument is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position. To "set up a straw man," one describes a position that superficially resembles an opponent's actual view, yet is easier to refute. Then, one attributes that position to the opponent. For example, someone might deliberately overstate the opponent's position. While a straw man argument may work as a rhetorical technique—and succeed in persuading people—it carries little or no real evidential weight, since the opponent's actual argument has not been refuted.
Shorter version - say something absolutely ridiculous to make your equally ridiculous argument seem reasonable.

Now, can you spot the strawman here?
It’s not role models we need. It’s leaders willing to confront Hollywood and the rest of the entertainment industry for their depiction of what’s “normal” in marriage and families. The industry would burn film before it would allow a modern Katharine Hepburn to light a cigarette on screen, as she did in “Woman of the Year” in 1942, with Spencer Tracy, because of the bad example it would set. But in today’s Hollywood, the long-running affair between the two actors would have been on-screen and public. That’s important because children, especially those without a married mother and father in their lives, turn to the media for their role models.
Good I thought you could. Now, your homework for the weekend is to research the history of the MPAA.

Enough of this. Go Falcons.

Friday, January 02, 2009

More From The ABH

The seeming schizophrenia at the Athens Banner-Herald can be maddening.

Last June, Editor Jim Thompson picked on a commentor and rolled out the credibility canard, but less than six months later, he's defending "citizen journalists" from the cuckoo for cocoa puffs rantings of UGA Journalism professor David Hazinski.

Blake Aued and I have wrestled numerous times, but it usually turns out to be more about bowing up since at the core we actually agree. Also, he correctly points out the ABH has shown forward thinking by adding blogs and podcasts.

Now, new publisher Scot Morrissey (not confirmed but probably not related to the dour but earnest pop star) steps into the fray.
For years, we've been like doctors in the way we present news: 'Take it. It's important, you should take it, so just take it,' " Morrissey said. "People have choices now that they didn't have before. And we are still saying in essence,
'Take it.'
There's hope in those words. I wish Mr. Morrissey all the luck in the world. And maybe some mood stabilizing pharmaceuticals for the editorial staff.

New Blog Alert

Dovetailing nicely with our recent racous discussion of the Mulshine Beast, I discovered Ink Drained Kvetch.

No need for me to add superlatives, I'll let Wendy introduce herself.
My name is Wendy Parker, and after 25 years in the newspaper business, I have left it to pursue new opportunities in journalism. As of Sept. 1, 2008, I have accepted a buyout from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where I worked for nearly 19 years, mainly as a sportswriter. For the last four years, I was a producer and editor on the AJC’s website (, where I got a chance to reinvent my career...Now, I seek to recreate my career once again. I surprised myself by how easily and enthusiastically I came to embrace digital media. This blog is my attempt to persuade fellow journalists with a primarily print background to understand that if I can do this, so can you.
Now that's what I'm talking about.