Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Quote For The Day

I don't do much national politics any more but this one is too good to pass up.
"Let's start with a premise that I don't think a lot of Americans are aware of. We have five percent of the world's population; we have 25 percent of the world's known prison population. There are only two possibilities here: either we have the most evil people on earth living in the United States; or we are doing something dramatically wrong in terms of how we approach the issue of criminal justice," - Jim Webb
Chew on that a minute. I bet you can guess my solution.

Meet The New Boss

Same as the old boss.
At Friday's pow-wow, there was much hand-wringing about the new face of journalists and the emergence of citizen journalism. While some accused bloggers and citizen journalists of being posers, peddling an agenda-driven and unaccountable brand of journalism, others argued it helped take the news out of the hands of a few "gatekeepers."
Make sure you click through to the pictures to see what Mr. Karkaria calls an "eclectic mix". At least Amani was there. I'm sure he represented. (I wonder how they heard about him. Hmmmm. I suppose it could have been Len Witt. Or maybe his name being dropped at a certain meeting?)

Once again, they never accepted us and they never will.

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 38

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 38

* We're in the last lap. The high is wearing off and the road is becoming a blur.

* I can no longer look at the Corey smoke stack without thinking of Dale Cardwell. And Andisheh Nouraee's ass.

* Straight to the live feed of the Senate still in session.

* Budget clears the Senate Appropriations Committee. And it appears Dave is flying solo. Where's Nwandi?

* There's Nwandi!

* Valerie's at Hogwarts talking about the transportation mess. Blur. All a blur.

* Tonight's taffic b-roll appears to be GA-400 with the North Springs MARTA station being built in the backgroud. Since that sucker was built years ago, I can only assume the production assistants are now playing videotape roulette.

* Whoa. The graphics just had a Law & Order THUNK sound effect. Maybe I'm not really watching. Maybe this is all some THC-induced singularity peek into an alternate universe.

* I think a frantically cell phone chatting Earnest Dan Weber just walked behind Valerie. We've reached unreality.

* A slew of amendments for sunday alcohol sales. Bottom line is it still it ain't happening. Which means I still owe Decaturguy.

* HB 280 (give math and science teachers more money) finally passed. At least something happened today.

* Earnest Dan Weber sans cell phone. Tiana called him Don. Adelman questioning. It's like a geek-off in the Senate!

* Brittany's in studio. She's been on a lot of field trips lately. More Dan Weber! It's Earnest day at the Captiol. Actually they are dealing with a lot of education issues which is his specialty.

* Mike Jacobs! YDG storms the castle!

* The clips are flying furiously now. I can't keep up. Now Emily's at Hogwarts talking about property appraisals. Only quaaludes can bring sense to this whirlwind of political spew.

* Chip Rogers hair is getting taller. Everything is stretching. The singularity is warping everything out of shape.

* The House killed the Senate bill allowing the selling of liquor near public housing.

* We approved a ban on the sanctuary cities that don't exist.

* The Drivers License test is still 20 questions? Only 20 questions and you can drive two tons of steel at high speed?! And our only concern is making sure it's printed in English?

* Get ready for Uncle Bobby's Crazy Town! Franklin required every house resolution read, only so he could point out how they are all unconstitutional. He points out that's treason! Oh, if only he had pulled pistols and gone Yosemite Sam.

* Where did the time go? The shows over? I'm going to start chugging Ny-Quil before viewing. No show tomorrow. Plenty of time to stock up. That's a wrap.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Songs In My Head

Friday, March 27, 2009

My Morning Wooten

It's been a long time but some things shall not pass.
It’s our fault. Global warming. 9/11. Drug wars in Mexico. Our “insatiable” appetite for illegal drugs and the drug cartels’ access to our guns make us “co-responsible” for Mexico’s problem, says Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Soon we must organize the Apologize for America World Tour for the Obama administration
Or we could legalize pot.

Speaking of small government conservatives and sin.
Speak kindly of the dead. So, taking my cue from a Sunday headline that says “Gambling is latest hope for a revival” of Underground Atlanta, I offer my condolences. If gambling’s the cure, the undertaker’s carriage awaits.
So, a private company wants to take over portions of a poorly run, government subsidized entertainment district and Jim objects. Yep, that's good ol' fashioned small government conservatism.
Georgia House Democrats could easily have fashioned a resolution praising President Barack Obama and making him an honorary member of the Legislative Black Caucus. But, of course, they had to include language that praised themselves and invited Republicans to endorse his “unimpeachable reputation for integrity [and] vision” and to declare that “no one could be more worthy of special honor and recognition by members of this body.” I wouldn’t sign on to that. Nor would those who offered it if the object of praise was George W. Bush. It’s an unserious partisan game in a serious time.
Since the next to last sentence is categorically untrue, maybe it's time to fire off another email to AJC public editor Matt Kempner. But I have ask myself once again, why waste the time?


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 37

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 37

* The daily double continues!

* Oh thank god! This is the recap show so it'll be brief.

* Dave needs a shave. But so do I, so we'll let it pass.

* Earnest Dan Weber. This time with prodigious arms casually draped across desk.

* Now Earnest Dan Weber's in the well. How exciting! Unfortunately it's the rather popular bill to give a pay boost to science and math teachers so I doubt we'll see him wildly swinging his arms out of the frame.

* Wait a second. This bill allows DHR to cross reference Revenue records on someone applying for Medicaid or PeachCare. How in the name of all that's holy do we not already do this?

* Brian Thomas, the Democratic Rep that appears too young to text while drivinng a car, is back. They're talking some technical stuff about streams but really I just wanted to point out Thomas sure has received a lot of face time this session.

* Valarie reports that the Senate and House can't agree on transportation funding. Again. Degenerate gamblers are taking book on if they fail to get anything passed. Again.

* Snellville has a crematory in a 1400 sq ft house with the furnace in the garage. Everybody's Somebody in Snellville!

* Minoo!

* The child abuse exploitation reporting law. Minoo apparently gets the bills that we hear about every other day.

* We can buy food and drink at Marta stations! YAY!

* The bill to prevent businesses from having anything to do with Sudan. And the graphic is a peach on a map of Sudan. I promise you I have not gobbled any pharmaceuticals tonight. I swear it's there.

* I've completely lost focus. The peach over Darfur may have done me in.

* Tom Crawford time. I'm going to try to pull myself together during this intermission. But Tom's not wearing his glasses. It's a strange night, bubba. Strange indeed.

* God help us, Sine Die may not happen next week. This thing will never end.

* Oh Jesus Gawd! The latest stock committee footage has some legislator rubbing his shoeless foot!

* Earnest Dan Weber explains some education bill thingie. It allows students to transfer to any school which has room.

* Recess tomorrow! Thank goodness. Until next week, that's a wrap.

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 36

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 36

* I seem to be sputtering towards the end. For the first time, I've fallen a day behind. This is a "what the hell have I got myself into" moment. But I am determined to make it to Sine Die so let's proceed.

* With both the Senate and the House clawing through the respective bills, the pace has become frantic. So once again, I'm going to try to sample the tastiest morsels. If you want to get full coverage of what's going on, please turn your attention to Aued, Fain, Gold Dome Live and Georgia Legislative Watch.

* The intro reveals a third person at the desk and the magic of the DVR let's me pause to see it's Valerie. I bet she talks about transportation.

* She is going to talk about transportation and the super speeder bill. One has an increase in Driver's License fees?! Where the hell did that come from?

* There's a dude in a hawaiian shirt standing behind Jerry Keen. I guarantee that's a camera jockey.

* The House shoots down doubling the Homestead Exemption. Again.

* Chip Rogers and a bunch of business breaks. Instead of Earnest Dan Weber we get two shots of Pensieve Nan Orrock. She then takes the well to argue the loss of revenue outweighs the jobs gained. I just noticed Chip Rogers might have a career in radio voice over if he leaves politics. He has a great set of pipes.

* Life without parole modification. Instead of commenting, I give you the option of analysis from a crazy man or from one who actually works in the system.

* 19 bills passed the Senate. Unless there's a clip of someone removing their clothes and dancing like a headless chicken, I'm moving on.

* A bill about government purchasing somehow morphed into a debate about genetically modified food. That can only mean one thing! Hang on kids! It's time to take the train to Crazy Town with Bobby Franklin! He doesn't want foods which have had their DNA mixed about served in the schools. Rep. Jay Roberts (I bet he's a farmer) points out that if you take out everything that's genetically modified (meaning also hybrids) the only thing left for the children to eat will be some tasty air.

* Minoo!

* It's the bill that allows high school students to attend college while still in 11th and 12th grade. Thank god this thing finally passed! I should do a chart of percentage of coverage bills get. I swear it seems like this thing was talked about every other day.

* Emily Banks is in studio and does just fine on her intro to some more trauma things.

* Text while you can, young'uns! The bill to keep you from triple tapping while driving passed a Senate committee.

* They're discussing Bingo again. It's suprisingly complicated.

* Angela Davis! Now there's a blast from the past. She spoke at Ebenezer about about women in prison. She was the keynote for Spark which I don't really know much about but I bet my good friend Catherine stops by to explain.

* That's a wrap for day 36. Jesus God, I've still got to do day 37. So unwrap and proceed.

A Proud Day At Peach Pundit

I don't normally pick on commentors. In fact, I chastised Athen Banner Herald Editor Jim Thompson for this very behavior. But sometimes something sticks out so badly that it must be noted

This morning Erick screeched against Sen. Johnny Isakson's support of the "Serve America Act". Apparently he and other right wing luminaries such as Mark Levin believe this dastardly piece of legislation (co-sponsored by that damned liberal Orrin Hatch) would force the chilluns into mandatory government service. (Can someone find me in the act where it's compulsory because I can find it no where).

Of course, this type of paranoid lunacy is exactly the type of bone on which the neo-confederates and wackos gnaw to the marrow.

Samples of the deep thought generated by this type of crazy.

"Seems like the Hitler youth. Will they be pledging allegiance to Obama every morning, before their forced (labor) charity?"

""Serve America Act,” Apply it only to minorities and life long agricultural work, and I might support it"

"This stuff is so creepy; all of you who have children better guard them well"

Democrats are giggling by the pool-side while those who call themselves Republicans dive straight into the deep end of crazy and hold their breath until the world is right again.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

They're Here

And another former journalist's site pops up.

Atlanta Unsheltered

The former journos seem to be into this Un thing.

While pondering Jim Walls new place this morning I came up with an answer to the eternal questiton that is always snarled in our face - "What are you going to link to when newspapers are gone?"

We'll link to each other and the content will grow. And the them is rapidly becoming us. And that's a good thing.

Atlanta Unfiltered

Another journalist stumbles into our little world.

Atlanta Unfiltered is former AJC Editor Jim Walls baby. He's going to focus on investigate stories with a bent towards public records. And he's already uncovered 13 legislators with delinquent taxes.

Good stuff. But Jim, a word of advice - feeds. If you don't get a feed going, many will forget you the minute they click away. No one wants that.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 35

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.

* The end approaches. The stadium is in sight but the finish line is not yet reached.

* Dave has a new hair do. That reminds me. I need a haircut. I'm starting to get a little too David Cassidy.

* Transportation. Senate is taking up the House bill but of course they want to change the funding mechanism to their version. We have new traffic b-roll! God bless 'em, they sent some poor schmoh with a camera to sit in a car in bumper to bumper traffic.

* Sen. Steve Thompson (still a Democrat) wanted to tack Homestead Exemption on this bill but it was ruled not germane. There's your word for the day. Thompson went back to the well to unleash a little fury and he vaguely looks like Robert Duval in "The Apostle". Heeee's gonna take it to the peeples! Testify!

* Restructuring the Dept. of Human Resources to split it into more manageable segments. Pretty much everyone agrees its a good thing.

* SB200. This is the transportation big 'un is still in House Committee. That also means we get to see Valerie and she's in studio! And it's all about money and who will get to spend it. It's always about money.

* Ahhh a little light banter between Nwandi and Valerie. For a second there is was like a real newscast with its fake goo.

* Capping property tax assessments. Millage rates blah blah blah Constitution blah blah blah lawsuits blah blah blah. I know it's important but come on!

* Oh lord, one of those Fulton County tax payers associations is suing someone. I bet I end up blaming this on Phil Kent. Or that Buckhead secessionist - what's his name. It's about Kasim Reed's (D-Now With Billboards!) plan to allow Atlantans to vote for a one cent sales tax to fund police and fireman. Question - how can they sue over a law that hasn't passed much less been enacted?

* They named Glenn Richardson as one of the defendents! This is going to be a hoot. He asks the same question I asked and then giggled a little. I'd giggle too.

* Governor Perdue wants to get the Voting Rights Act out of our reapportionment. Hmmm. I'm going to save my thoughts on this until later.

* Leadership Series....they're going to talk transportation. Bathroom break.

* WHOOPS! I almost missed the HIV-AIDS testing bill. I still haven't had my question answered. What is done with the results? Doesn't matter since their still is no funding.

* Here we go with the Obama resolution. Rep. Rashad Taylor is using the stimulating that as he put it "was spent before we got it" to twist the knife. "You can't spell earmark without R". SNAP!

* Now here's Robert Brown. It's his latest famous speech. This time he's using the resolution honoring China Day to compare and contrast the Obama resolution. The knife twists further. Will the Republicans ever find its way out of this painted-in corner.

* Stacheless Phil Gingrey visited the House. He confuses attainder with remainder. He's talking about the AIG bonus tax thing. You know why we have to hear these ramblings in the House? Because the Senate uses the word for the day. (Psssst, go back to the top if you need a reminder)

* Another day done. Thank all that's holy. 5 to go. That's a wrap.

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 34

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 34

* Oh Lawmakers! I have not forsaken you. End of the week means mostly rehashing. So except for the stupid Obama resolution and the always advocating local control Republicans attempting to pirate the airport, I doubt we'll hear much on this one. So we're going to have a short Gonzo. Just the tastiest bits.

* No Obama resolution. Instead, restitution for some poor bastard who was incorrectly incarcerated. Lawmaker's beast tape machine eats another story! They bravely try again. The beast will not be quelled! This could be a long show.

* Into the face of the beast again! It seems calmer now. I hope the control room isn't too bloody.

* Earnest Dan Weber. Hands clasped on prodigious knee this time.

* Dave had a little camera whiplash there. Open the pod bay doors, HAL. I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.

* By the way there's a bunch of stuff happening in the Senate while I am mesmerized by cannibal tape machines and frenetic cameras. Tax credits, S-Corps, blah blah blah.

* Sen John Wiles wants to outlaw "novelty" IDs. The GBI requested this because when the flea market peddlers aren't using acetone to make meth, they are using it to erase the "novelty" off the dastardly little passports to pleasure. I feel so much safer.

* Leadership Interview - Sen. Tommie Williams, President Pro Tem. I suppose I should pay attention since he's Wilson's BFF. Of course, they're talking about the budget. Let's see. It's bad. Moving on.

* Legislative score card. Time for the slide show with vaguely Phillip Glass style music. Thank god it's 2:00am and I'm...well...you know. Suddenly, I'm nostalgic for Jan Cox and the New Intelligence.

* Tom Crawford Time!

* Finally, the Obama resolution. Dubose Porter's speaking about it and you can hear a pin drop. If the stump jumping, peckerwood, neo-Confederate response tickles your curiousity travel over to the House of Mirrors. Have your acetone-laced "novelty" IDs and meth-perfurmed hankies close by. Handi-wipes will be available upon egress.

* And we're done. That's a wrap.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 33

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 33

* We're in fast forward mode with our first virtually live Gonzo.

* Budget passed! YEEHAW! 18.6 billion. 2.6 billion trimmed. Education gets the lion share and they saved the school nurses. The stimulating also prevented medicaid cuts. Bad news is The Guv says next year we're going to have a shortfall again.

* Democrats don't like the budget and Dubose Porter (D-Running For Guv) claims that the cuts are just passed to the locals resulting in huge property tax increases. Speaker Richardson takes the well and calls it "hogwash". Praise all that's holy, I think we're close to getting the old Speaker back! He also says the economy may require a special session.

* Funding for the Music and Sports Halls of Fame didn't make the cut.

* Casey time!

* He repeats that medicaid will be underfunded in this budget. He also brings up the specter of a special session. We've still got a $2 billion hole in the budget and who knows what the hell the revenue figures for March will be. They are just full of sunshine and rainbows today.

* Super speeder passed a House Committee. Valerie's at Hogwarts and I must say she's lit better. It doesn't look quite as gloomy on the balcony. Usual shot of the Connector - blurred this time for effect. There's the b-roll of Grady and I swear I know one of those doctors.

* Student Health And Physical Fitness Act. Which some how susses out to S.H.A.P.E. Do they have a special clerk whose job is to generate acronyms? This requires schools to do with physical assessments. This little monstrosity comes from Sen. Don Thomas (R - Yes I'm A Republican But I've Never Seen A Bill That Interferes With Your Life That I Don't Like). He gets opposition from members of his own party who say perhaps this ain't the role of government. No kidding. The idiotic thing passed anyway. Even though we don't know how the hell we're going to pay for it. So about those Sunday liquor sales...

* Oh goody. They had time to haze some freshman. Ho ho. Oh my good lord! The first one is being hazed about a bill regarding the trapping of beavers and I swear I'm not making this up, the first question is "What is beaver activity?" The poor fellow blushed furiously and yielded the well. I swear they must have access to better drugs than a pharmacist.

* Sen. Robert Brown wants to make changes to SB 31. Ummmmm, isn't that horse out of the barn? Oh, he's introducing a bill to make Georgia Power put a line item on your electric bill stating how much is going to the Nuke plants. Clever. Of course it's after crossover so the horse was out of the barn and Georgia Power says they were going to do this anyway, so really the horse is already over the horizon.

* Tiana's back in studio! Let's hope things go a little smoother tonight. She's talking about the bill to shield domestic abuse victims address in the voter registration file. Looks like the only hiccup is the length of the shield - 4 years. It passed the committee and Tiana did just fine.

* Heh. We move on to a different bill but the opening shot of the committee is the same as the last one. I don't blame them. They're all starting to look alike to me too.

* There's Mike Jacobs! It's a boring technical bill but I like to say Mike Jacobs as much as I can because any Young Democrat using the Google will be drawn to me like moths to a flame!

* David Poythress visited the Capitol. You know, he's being called Gen. David Poythress a lot more these days. I'm not trying to be disrespectful, but back when he was Labor Commissioner he was a General and I don't remember it being used once. Ain't it funny how things change when someone declares themself a candidate.

* Oh lord. Sen. Don Thomas again. Talking about his pickup truck seatbelt law - again. I wonder if people use his daily testimonial for their daily constitutional.

* The House failed to pass a resolution making President Obama an honorary member of the Legislative Black Caucus. This is surprisingly more controversial and weirdly more technical than you might imagine. Rep. Austin Scott (R-I'm Running For Governor Even Though Nobody Knows) objected yesterday and objected again today. There's a couple of members of the Caucus standing near him and I swear they look ready to lay an ass whuppin'. I generally like Rep. Scott but this is just plain stupid.

* Tommie Williams will finally be interviewed tomorrow.

* I wish I could do this "virtually live" all the time. But now we must move on to "This Old House". That's a wrap.

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 32

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 32

* I'm running behind! But we are going to take a great leap forward. This entry is from last night's program. Tonight's program will be a virtual live Gonzo. Now that should be fun.

* Looks like everyone's in place.

* Top Story - poison peanuts. We get the background of all the nastiness down in Blakely. Rep. Tom McCall, who looks eerily like Ag Commish Tommy Irvin which makes this very weird, explains in the future it will be a felony if a plant doesn't reveal its has contaminated food. I think we can all agree this is a good thing.

* Senate passed the House bill to save HOPE by making the funding triggers more flexible. Steve Thompson certainly is getting a lot of face time this session. Doug Stoner's gonna get jealous. They passed a couple of more House bills. I'm sure they were important but not very interesting.

* Jerry Keen is urging the passage off resolution to let Congress know we're agin certain things they haven't actually done. It's like Back To The Future without the Delorean! Seriously though, this is dealing with abortion issues and that can only mean one thing - Welcome To Uncle Bobby's Ride To Crazy Town! Franklin of course opposes his own party's resolution because it's not harsh enough. He wants to throw members of Congress in jail if they pass something he deems unconstitutional. WHEEEEEE! He then with a straight face starts a question "are we going to embarass this House..." WHEEEEE!

* Uh-oh, the Guv's transportation bill might be in trouble. Time to swing over to Hogwarts to have Valerie fill us in. The main item is SB 200 relegates the current DOT to maintenance only so the question of the day is what the hell do they do with the current DOT Board? And here's the sticking point - the scoundrels have finally figured out they would no longer have a say in who sits on the new board. Took them long enough. Lord God, they've already tacked on six amendments! This thing is doomed.

* Now the bill that will not die - seatbelts in pickup trucks. The thing is stuck in committee in the House and will not see the light of day. That's got the normally "low-key" Sen. Don Thomas "fired up".

* Budget talks and they are talking about furloughing teachers. Talk about your canary in a coal mine. I can't remember teachers ever being furloughed. Now this is interesting, PAGE is agin it but the GAE thinks it's an acceptable compromise. We live in strange times, bubba.

* Oh the House is always good for funky props. Rep. Alisha Morgan used popsicle sticks with illnesses printed on them by students to demonstrate the need for school nurses. One of them said "hit on the head with a jump rope".

* Minoo!

* It's the bill which I thought already existed - allows 11th and 12th graders to attend college or vo tech and high school at the same time. I doubt this will get much opposition. The only question is does this affect HOPE and apparently it doesn't since the young'uns are technically still in high school.

* Leadership interview series - Don Balfour - he's the Senate Rules Committee Chair. I thought we were getting Tommie Williams. He's talking about how they decided what gets through crossover day. Meanwhile a clerk or a janitor is rolling something behind him and it sounds like a Marta train is passing. Oh goody! Dave is asking him about SB 31 - Pay Now Nuke Later. I bet we've heard this answer before. Yep. Same answer we heard 30 days ago.

* Tiana's in the studio! She's going to talk about testing prisoners for HIV-AIDS. I hope they clear up what exactly happens with the info. A little confusion about whether they were going to the tape or if she was going to continue. No biggie. Funding is the issue with this bill (ain't it with all of em?) so it's headed to sub-committee.

* John Douglas wants to get a resolution against President Obama's plan to require veterans to use private insurance. Obama's already backed off on this so let's move on.

* But wait! There's more! Rep. Brian Thomas, he who looks young enough to be a paperboy, took issue with what happened after Rep. Melvin Everson's fiery speech on the issue yesterday. It got a standing ovation which is apparently against the House rules. Frankly, his analogy with Walter Reed didn't make a lick of sense but he ultimately gets out that apparently there's two sets of rules for behavior in the House. This draws applause (from Democrats no doubt) and boos (from Republicans no doubt) which leads Speaker Richardson to say "would you like for me to gavel that down? I didn't think so". Speaker Richardson then scribbles something. I think Rep. Thomas just went on the naughty list! And writers everywhere rejoice at the brief glimmer of the return of Mr. Speaker Good Copy.

* Millilou was honored by the General Assembly.

* I really need to find a clip of that Brian Thomas / Speaker throwdown because it was 10 kinds of awesome. But for now, that's a wrap.

Excerpts, Endings and Beginnings

I appreciate ATLMalcontent's stepping back.

But I want to add my own denouement. Isn't it just like a blogger to want the last word?

I want to explain why I am so bothered by this.

If you really think bloggers can do just as good a job as, for instance, the AJC, then there’s nothing to discuss. It’s a pretty arrogant — and insulting — conclusion to reach.
What I've said in the past.

Some Media Stuff 2-9-09:

I don't know if papers will survive. I know the news will survive and I know writing will survive. And although it's going to be tough and it's going to hurt at times, someone's going to find a way to make this work...Someone always does.

The Whimpers Of Dinosaurs 12-30-08:

I believe there is a place for people trained in the craft. They do have a skill set which provides value, particularly as you say in investigative journalism. When I talk about this to people I usually use the term parallel track. Both can
exists and both can add value.
A Blogger Answers A Few Questions 6-8-07:

A blogger's editor is the blog's community and the larger blogosphere. If you get something wrong, you will hear the screams of indignation immediately. It's a self correcting system. The days of someone presenting utter lies and fabrication are mostly in the past. In plain language, if we screw up, there are hundreds of other predators in the internet sea who will gleefully rend at our flesh.
Is citizen journalism possible?...Yes. But like most anything, it is easy to do but very difficult to do well. Journalism is a craft and those trained in the craft must do it well every single time. Bloggers, excluding journalist bloggers of course, are not usually trained in that craft. But that does not mean they cannot report compelling content and report it well.
Now. By God, it is time to move on. There's too much work to be done in the new world.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 31

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 31

* It's the day after the big day.

* Looks like we're in for a lot of recap today.

* Transportation. We go straight to Hogwarts for Valerie and a live shot. Recapping SB200 and the differing TSPLOST. I've covered both in depth but if you want to review go here.

* Property Tax Relief. The grant was saved and the Senate doubled the homestead exemption but the House voted that part down.

* Super speeders. Valerie is reporting again but according to the chyron we are either listening to or seeing "Harry", no last name. Back to the speed demons. Ahhhhhh, here's "Harry". It's Rep. Harry Geisinger. He's concerned that there won't be enough revenue generated to support a real trauma system.

* Well, I believe the chyron operator got into my stash. Now someone from Children's Healthcare something something is talking trauma but my tv says she's "Teachers". Who wants to bet the next story is about education?

* Nwandi clears up the chyron confusion and guess what? The next story is about education.

* Recap of all the education bills that passed the House.

* Georgia virtual schools! Something new! Oh no. It's some lobbyists, ahem excuse me, I meant to say advocates begging for money. Okay, I may have been a bit harsh. This program allows students with difficulty actually sitting in a classroom (ADHD, Bi-polar) to have access to a certified teacher.

* Ron Stephens cigarette tax is dead. Now Dave and Nwandi are doing a little improv on all the bills that died. I have a feeling this is the result of the chyron suffering a similar fate. You gotta love live TV. They may soon resort to hand puppets.

* Tableau exeunt. Back to Dave reporting with graphics. I have in my head this image of someone beating a machine with a hammer.

* The Senate actually did pass some House bills today. One deals with the poverty level of "enterprise zones".

* The House only passed one bill today. It's something to do with blind people not being able to hear hybrid cars. I never would have thought of that. It passed without opposition.

* PSC gave Georgia Power the go ahead to build those Nucular Plants. This of course brings a review of the controversial SB 31.

* The PSC finally speaks. Commissioner Stan Wise lurvs SB 31. He believes it will save money and the legislature correctly exercised its power. Would have been nice to hear from a dissenting commissioner. Were there any?

* Tom Crawford time. Tom is mentioning the big budget which will probably include more furloughs and possibly more medicaid cuts. A little mouse told me the big budget passed today so we'll have to wait to see if Tom read the bones correctly.

* Minoo went to what appears to be a church to attend a meeting of juvenille justice advocates. It's good to see the kids are getting a few field trips.

* Rev. er excuse me Rep. Melvin Emerson used his morning order to lay into the Obama administration's apparent plan to have Veterans use their private insurance before using VA benefits. Now Rep. Scott (R-Yes I Am Really Running for Govenor!) is talking about not being able to buy ammo to shoot pigs. Ahhhhhhhh, south Georgia - I do miss you so. Apparently this also means Obama is "destroying our way of life".

* Wake up Wilson. Sen. Tommie Williams is going to be interviewed on tomorrow's broadcast.

* I'm considering strong drink prior to tomorrow's broadcast. But for now that's a wrap.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Podcasts! We Got Podcasts!

A couple of political podcasts for your listening pleasures.

I swear only Wilson Smith can somehow corner me into defending Republicans. For the record, I got my tongue twisted on one part - if I were a Senator I would NOT have voted for SB 169. We also talk about other crossover day happenings and what not.

Listen here.

Also, the regular gang of the Georgia Politics Podcast got together last Saturday. Unfortunately, do to a scheduling conflict, I was unable to attend. But JosephG, Catherine, Grayson, Jason and Decaturguy had it covered.

They discussed:

The Grocery Tax
Georgia Power Bill - Bloggers vs. Lobbyists
Proposed Change in the Ad Valorum Tax
New Department of Transportation (Georgia Transportation Authority) - Gina Evans / more power to Sonny Perdue
Prospects for Casey Cagle in Gov. Race
Senate Bill 169 - restricts stem cell research.
Video Lottery / Casinos in Atlanta
2010 Races for Governor, Lt Gov, Sec of State, etc.
Atlanta Crime and the Social Media Response

Listen here.

My Morning Atlmalcontent

It saddens me a bit. Over the past three years, it became apparent to me that Atlmalcontent and I agree on a lot of things. We have a similar political outlook, a similar sense of humor and admiration for a certain writer from the mountains of Colorado.

But, we've found a place where we not only disagree, but disagree so violently that it is doubtful we will ever agree that we ever agreed on anything.

Whether it's passive-aggression or an intentional tactic, in his criticism of non-traditional media, Atlmalcontent behaves in the very manner he and others in the traditional media decry as the sins of the blogworld. He quote mines, he ignores any characteristics which do not support his caricature and he ascribes false positions to his opponents.

Yesterday, he asked for an example of a non-journalist breaking a major local story. I responded with what I thought might be an answer. What followed was a heated exchange which soon ventured far astray from the original question.

And here is how is how Atlmalcontent summarizes this morning.
Let’s first take a moment to applaud GriftDrift for that brief post he wrote over a year ago about layoffs at CL. Apparently that was a major local story – particularly among the gravedancing crowd.
Now, here is what I wrote in response to his original question.
Well, maybe it’s not “major” but how about this one?
I certainly recognized that my example may not match his criteria, but more about that in a minute.

I've had an opportunity to re-read that brief story several times in the last 24 hours and like most writers, I've agonized a bit over how I could have written it better.

I should have been more clear that "unconfirmed reports" was actually an anonymous source with whom I had enough experience to determine the credibility was at a level where I could publish without full confirmation. There's less than a half dozen people who fit that type by the way.

I wish I had mentioned that I spoke to Ken Edelstein and since he was publishing on his blog in mere minutes, even though I had the story nailed, I would wait until he posted and use that link as confirmation. (The link was confirmation - not the origin of the story, despite what Atlmalcontent curiously continues to argue)

I could have done a better job, no doubt. But despite Atlmalcontent's repeated assertion that I did not address his points, that story was based on a credible source, I had a primary source on the record (although admittedly I did not indicate that in the piece) and the other side was given an opportunity to respond (which they eventually did, once again on the record and it was reported in an update).

Atlmalcontent also states:
If you really think bloggers can do just as good a job as, for instance, the AJC, then there’s nothing to discuss. It’s a pretty arrogant — and insulting — conclusion to reach. Maybe you’ll get the opportunity to prove it one day.
I challenge anyone to find an example where I have said this. Despite Atlmalcontent's claim that blogger's have "no established track record", there is a two year record of my position on media scattered in writings on my blog, Blake's blog, Travis' blog and half a dozen other sites. I have certainly been critical of media and I have certainly advocated that a non-professional can cover a story, but I have also said many times (including in the link Atlmalcontent uses) that it would be very difficult for someone without the resources of major media to cover a beat and even more difficult to develop an extensive investigative piece.

Now back to that "five inches" of a story I wrote over a year ago. Was it major? I don't know. In the grand scheme of things, probably not. But it was the first story of layoffs at a venerable Atlanta publication - one that now faces the possibility of disappearing forever. I'll let you judge.

And there is one thing Atlmalcontent ignores completely.

The story was 100% correct.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Buy The Ticket

Take the ride.

Atlmalcontent and I are having an interesting "conversation" at his place about "future of journalism blah blah blah". Does some of it seem familiar? Nah. Not at all.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

My Morning Wooten - An Addendum

Yesterday, Jim wrote:
Billionaire Warren Buffett advises Congress to stop using the economic downturn as an excuse to push through other policy changes. The nation’s engaged in economic war, he said. “What is required is a commander in chief that’s looked at like a commander in chief in a time of war.” But where would we find one?

I responded:
I'm going to take a stab in the dark here and guess this is taken completely out of context. Considering Warren Buffet is an Obama fan and approves of his tactics for economic recovery, I imagine he, like Obama, was criticizing congress for using the crisis to push through pet projects. But we'll never know since Jim doesn't provide anything but the punchline. Now, I'll go back to my blogs with their worthless links which allow readers to see the original work and judge the context for themselves.

Lo and behold, here's the full quote by Mr. Buffet:

What is required is a commander in chief that is looked at as being the commander in chief in a time of war and the support that generally he needs and other things that have to be given up.
Bold added by me. Maybe I should write the AJC's Public Editor. Again. Nah. Why waste the time.

I'll also add the worthless link so you can peruse the entire response for yourself.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Media Stuff Of The Day

In the ongoing journalism wars, I have praised newspaper people and I have damned newspaper people, but I've never seen anything like this.
Do the math. If you buy the Creative Loafing chain, which owns the Reader, you get Rolodexes, a bunch of dated computers, dated software, and a name. Essentially you’re buying a logo, a URL, some archived content, and a giant f*cking IOU...So, sayeth this smart person: it’s much cheaper to let them die and hire the people, who have the knowledge and the contacts and who actually represent the name.
I can't find anything to disagree with in this article. And it is chock full of wisdom. For us all.

Read it. Read it now.

My Morning Wooten

Don' worry. I haven't forsaken, Jim. The AJC moved Thinking Right and didn't tell anyone. Eli!

But the frequency of My Morning Wooten will likely decrease in the future. Frankly, there's only so much lather, rinse, repeat I can take.

Here we go.
Billionaire Warren Buffett advises Congress to stop using the economic downturn as an excuse to push through other policy changes. The nation’s engaged in economic war, he said. “What is required is a commander in chief that’s looked at like a commander in chief in a time of war.” But where would we find one?
I'm going to take a stab in the dark here and guess this is taken completely out of context. Considering Warren Buffet is an Obama fan and approves of his tactics for economic recovery, I imagine he, like Obama, was criticizing congress for using the crisis to push through pet projects. But we'll never know since Jim doesn't provide anything but the punchline. Now, I'll go back to my blogs with their worthless links which allow readers to see the original work and judge the context for themselves.
President Obama is the front man radicals have long needed. In putting the nation on the slippery slope, where life is created for the purpose of destroying it, he declares that reversing the existing constraints on the use of taxpayer money for embryonic stem cell research is essential. “It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda — and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology.” Unless, of course, it’s the ideology of global warming.
In Jim's version of conservativism: The promise of stem cells and global warming = junk; a 6000 year old earth and exorcism = worthy of consideration. What was I thinking? So called conservatives aren't anti-science at all.

That's it. I can't take any more. Feel free to follow my worthless link at the top and judge the rest for yourself. Honestly, the remainder isn't nearly as crazy as those first two but your mileage may vary.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 30

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 30 - Crossover Day

* It's the big day. Crossover day. For those who haven't been here before, on this day a bill must pass one chamber or it is dead dead dead. This reality usually leads to a long day with a fair measure of rancor. Unfortunately for Lawmakers, their show ends at 7:30 but if there's something that changed status after they went off the air (SB169 I'm looking at you), I'll update the best I can. But I'm sure it will also air tomorrow.

* We go straight to a live shot of the House but it doesn't look like the usual kicked over ant hill because they are on dinner break.

* And with all the hoo-hah going on the top story is...the legislators talking about the economy. You'd think this show was sponsored, ahem excuse me, "underwritten" by the Chamber of Commerce or something.

* Valerie is at Hogwarts to talk about the "handful" of bills dealing with the economy. And the first one passed unanimously. Must have been a thriller. They actually found a lobbyist who opposed it. Now that's someone who had a bad day. More tax break bills. Nah. Chamber of Commerce. Nah.

* I have a brother in the car business and I'm not even sure I understand this title tax business. Then again, I buy a car about every 7 years. Based on that behavior I'm pretty sure I'm going to suffer under this thing. There's an awful lot of debate about it but it's all about whether or not it generates or loses revenue and where the hell the money goes. It passed pretty easily. That should probably scare all of us.

* A bill to create a special tax district in Atlanta to raise revenue for cops and firemen. Otherwise known as the "Hi I'm Kasim Reed And I'm Running For Mayor Bill". Oh goodie! John Douglas has a question! The question is - how many times will you tout this bill in your campaign. I kid! It was "what's wrong with what's in place now?"

* Excellent. The final act of SB 169 happened just before air time and the kids got their act together quick enough to talk about it. Brittany is in studio with the details. Wait. The studio is on 14th street. How did she get there that fast? Did she use the ATDC teleporter?

* I watched this debate today and we're going to see an abbreviated version - but I have to say I've seen Sen. Dan Weber give many a speech, including a defense of Genarlow Wilson, but I've never seen him give one like this. It was passionate and filled with emotion. The conflict for Republicans in the Senate was a portion believed it could still be used to prevent certain in-vitro procedures. Then things got really strange. But let's proceed with Lawmakers and see how they cover it.

* Brittany is doing a video version of "fisking".

* Okay. They skipped a key point here. The bill was tabled - meaning no vote but still alive. Later Sen Preston Smith brough it "off the table" and put forth an amendment. Another item missed here is the Republicans apparently caucused during the interim to figure out how they could satisfy their wayward members. The amendment states embryos can only be used for IVF or preservation for future IVF. This left the Democrats with just the "anti-science" argument. The bill finally passed 34-22 which means the Republicans came home. It still has to get through the House but my feeling is that will be an easier task.

* A little who's on camera ping pong there. Not unexpected after the fly by the seat of your pants SB 169 report.

* Adopt an embryo bill in the House. I think this allows parents who have leftover embryos from IVF to basically give them to other people. Yeah. The whole thing is pretty weird.

* Bobby Franklin's got something to say! Get ready for a ride into crazy town! He's agin it because allowing "trafficking" of these "human beings" would "dehumanize life". I think I broke my quote key. Mike Jacobs is clearing things up. This thing gives the receiving parents "parental rights" instead of a mere contract. This isn't crazy town - it's full bore Mescaline Metropolis.

* We're only halfway through the show and I'm wore out.

* John Sepulvado (normally a radio guy) is at Hogwarts to talk about the ethics bill. He was also tweeting all day and it was very informative. They got Sen. Johnson's tax thing through. It was bi-partisan and even Robert Brown supported it. Isn't it amazing what happens when you tone down the politics and actually try to write good law? The rest is just fines and such.

* They're going to train lobbyists. Write your own joke here.

* The Senators want to swear in committee testimony. Sen. Seth Harp says it's a shame they even have to pass such a thing. I suppose it's also a shame that even if it gets enacted (doubtful), those who are shocked (shocked I say!) people lie to them are exempt.

* Poll time! Would you support creating Milton County? A little closer than expected. 53-47 for.

* The Senate wants us to be able to go straight to arbitration over property assessments. Hear! Hear!

* A Republican is not happy with PAGE. Now I'm shocked. Shocked I say! Why does everything I write suddenly seem to be lifted from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? This thing got a little more excitable than I expected. It's about teacher pay but Brooks Coleman says it's not about the Math and Science teachers bill and its not about master teachers. It's about a bonus for those who get certified by March 1st to get a bonus. Democrats are against it but I'm not sure why other than it came from Governor Sonny. Perhaps one of Dubose minions will stop by to clear away my haze.

* Minoo!

* And she's got the teen texting bill. They want to keep the young'uns from texting while driving. There's our old friend - the Downtown Connector. And there's our other old friend - Memorial Drive. They excluded navigational devices which is funny since my experience is those things are frighteningly more dangerous to operate while driving. Hell, they even have a warning that they shouldn't be operated while driving. Hells Bells! I've even been in a car that had a kill switch which shut the thing off if the car was in gear!

* They also excluded ham radios and CBs. Whew! The Rubber Duck was about to 10-100 in his pants at the thought of Smokey Bear taking away his squawk box.

* Rep. Kevin Levitas bill to prevent people from putting tracking devices on other people passed. He's my rep. I'm so proud. Actually there wasn't any prohibition on this type of creepy behavior, so it actually is a good privacy measure.

* The Stripper Tax is dead! Table dances for everyone!

* And the school kids get Veterans Day off! Suddenly it's like Christmas in here!

* And the General Assembly is in recess tomorrow and Monday! YEEHAW! We're all outta here!

Watch Crossover Day Live - Sort Of

Georgia Legislative Watch is live blogging cross over day.

Head over and watch.

As a bonus, you can pick on Republicans!

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 29

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 29

* Let's do the time warp again! This is actually the recap from Tuesday's show but it's now Thursday but there was no show today because there was a recess so I think I'm caught up. But I'm not sure. Having said that, tomorrow is crossover day which is when all hell breaks loose so (now imagine Annie Savoy saying this part) in a cosmic sort of manner maybe none of this even matters. Let's play ball.

* Gold Dome - check. Anchors - check. And away we go!

* We go straight to a live shot of the Senate Chamber where legislating is still happening! The boys and gals must have worked late tuesday. How exciting! Take that Doug Richards!

* Amended budget once again passed something. Conference committee this time. Time for Senators to pat themselves on the back.

* Fair Lending Act. Cue Senator Fort. Wait. There's a Republican sponsor? I must be confused. Oh there's Fort. He's upset that people who get loans they shouldn't have got in the first place can't sue if the loan they shouldn't have got gets sold to a third party who probably shouldn't have got it either. Or something like that. It's called assignee liability. Google it.

* First live shot and we've moved to a different section of Hogwarts. And the first live bobblehead is not one of the usual gaggle - it's Evan Seitz. He promptly fumbles the open to the point of gurgling with his tongue out. He's talking about some food safety bill but honestly right now I can't get past the fact we may be witnessing an Albert Brooks on "Broadcast News" moment.

* In all seriousness, I heard about this one during my recent journeys. In a sense it deputizes local health department officials as food inspectors. If they find what they think is a violation, they can summon in the real deal. Pretty innovative thinking for the legislature.

* Okay, Evan survived. No word if he required a massive dose of pancake during the cutaway.

* Some Republicans wanted to tack sales tax back on food. And Speaker Pro Tem Burkhalter actually had the stones to defend the move. You seriously have to wonder about their sanity. Or Democratic moles. Bottom line - it ain't even gonna make it out of committee. Today's Monty Python moment has been brought to you by the letter L, the letter S and the letter D.

* Here's are annual english only bill. This year's version - driver's license exams. I swear if D.A. King appears on my screen, I'm going to throw something.

* Minoo!

* Sen. Nan Orrock (D-I've Seen Her Bowl) is agin it. Can't say I'm shocked. Her reasoning is fascinating. Apparently we make accomodations for the illiterate (which ironically is a hard word to spell), so why would we not provide for the literate in a different language. I must say, that's a new one. A point of personal priveledge from your humble scribe - presenting the griftdrift argument - how will these hoopleheads feel if in 30 years Spanish becomes the majority language and legislatures start requiring every sign/test/lobbyists check be presented in Spanish only?

* There's a thing about one of those fees on your phone bill. It's the one that in the 70s was used to get phone lines out to the country folk. Some of the rural reps - wait a minute, one of these "rural" reps is Ron Stephens from Savannah. Savannah? Anyway, they don't want it removed because it apparently creates a safety net for whatever local yokel phone companies are left.

* Bad copy abounds. Now Dave is stumbling over his lines.

* We're in the rapid fire segment. Today's fun is with criminal law. Looks like a bunch of technical clean up.

* We're going to vote on a new fee. $10 on your car tag to fund a trauma network. I thought that's what Super Speeder was for. Wow! That segment went fast. Suddenly everything is flying by. Maybe a fist fight is happening on the live Senate feed and they are desperately trying to spool it up.

* Tiana Fernandez live from Hogwarts. We're going to test all prisoners for HIV when they are released. Okay. What exactly are we going to do with that information? This question is never answered.

* Earnest Dan Weber sighting. Flipping pages this time. Earnestly.

* Now I'm starting to think the teleprompter is on fire. Nwandi is also stumbling. Maybe the transmission is slipping causing the thing to wildly gyrate at various speeds.

* I had to listen to this twice. Something about deterring metal theft. I thought he said mental theft at first. But now I've got it figured out - I think. It's about crackheads stealing copper, right?

* Truth in Music Advertising Act. Do what? Even Dave is cracking up. Oh good lord, it's just another excuse for their lame ass hazing of a freshman Senator. In this case it's Senator John Crosby who's about 100 years old. I'd give him a crisp five dollar bill if he pulled his belt off and threatened to pull this chamber to the side of the road. The bill requires anyone impersonating a singer, living or dead, to inform an audience they are not the real thing. I seriously cannot make this stuff up.

* Vote in the poll!

* Leadership series - David Adelman. I've been looking forward to this one. They're going to take about the stimulating. They've got the "smartest man in the Senate" at their beck and call and we have to hear about this old news? Let's get to stem cells! No stem cells. Disappointing. Sen. Adelman? Give griftdrift a call. I've got some additional questions.

* DHR restructuring. We talked about this earlier. It makes a lot of sense. Thus it passed overwhelmingly.

* There's a bill about when pharmacists can use generics instead of brand name drugs. This brought the apparent army of pharmacists legislators to the well. The bill would require the pharma to honor a doctor's request for "brand only". The pill pushers win and it goes down to defeat.

* Dave informs me there will be no Lawmakers tomorrow. Which actually was yesterday because now is today which is crossover day which means we're back tomorrow. I'm so confused. I need some of whatever Burkhalter was drinking.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Gonzo Lawmakers - An Interlude

I'm back in the ATL and catching up. Gonzo Lawmakers will return tonight.

In the meantime, check out professional newsman Doug Richards analysis of Dave, Nwandi and the gang.
“Lawmakers” is a dry and curiously stubborn mix of inside baseball and quaint old-school television, rooted squarely in the 1960s or 70s. It is tightly jammed with information. And it all but challenges the viewer to summon the dexterity to absorb it all.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 28

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 28

A programming note. Due to lack of internet access, Gonzo Lawmakers will be absent for the next two days. Worry not, gentle readers, it will return some time early Thursday morning.

* It was a busy day down on the hill. Carpal tunnel here I come!

* Super Speeders - otherwise known as the Monroe County Revenue Generator. This one is so hot they immediately go to a live shot with Valerie. And we have a new position! But it's still on the balcony and still looks vaguely like Hogwarts. So the moniker sticks.

* The $200 fee is added on to local fees. Did not know that. That would more than sting. Shot of the downtown connector. They should have shown Ga-400 instead. That highway alone could probably generate a couple of million a year. Once you get north of Holcomb Bridge it turns into the Autobahn.

* The opponents don't like the funding route. It goes to the general fund instead of a dedicated appropriation such as trauma care. Part of the opposition is from Republicans. Governor Sonny ain't gonna like that! It passed and is now headed to the Senate.

* The Amended budget is headed to conference committee. No big surprise.

* Oh lord. The tax thing still ain't dead. Sen. Brown is complimenting Lt. Gov. Cagle on his leadership with the issue. Looks like everyone's back to playing nicey nicey. Steve Thompson (D-Yes He's Still A Democrat) took the moment to point out some tv station (not GPB!) said he was deliquent but he is not. And there's the devil that stirred this dust, Sen. Eric Johnson, sitting in the chamber grinning like a cheshire cat. Sen. Tommie Williams (R-Wilson's BFF) pleads for a little decorum in the future.

* Embryonic stem cells. This is area I fear to tread. A bill passed a Senate committee this morning which would prohibit the creation of those types of stem cells for research. Sen. David Adelman (D-Really Smart) wanted to table the bill for further study but that didn't work. Adelman has been involved in stem cell jousting in past sessions. The real fireworks will happen when this thing reaches the floor.

* Points of personal priveledge time. Sen. Chip Rogers defends school vouchers. The thing is still in committee so for now we'll move on.

* Time to talk about the half-ass casino in Underground. But why? The Lottery Commission already has the power to create this abomination. Oh, some Republican wants to ban gambling all together. Should have known. I take that back. He really wants the Legislature to approve or deny Atlanta's ability to put in the half-ass machines. Which means I wasn't really wrong in my first description.

* The Senate passed 16 bills. Here comes the rapid fire segment. Let's hope we get some hazing. Some technical thing about prisoners that passed 50-1. Earnest Dan Weber wants better education planning which has something to do with creating academies for something. I don't know what he's talking about. Thank god this segment is over.

* Minoo!

* Lots of education stuff today. Somebody left the vote bell ringing while poor Fran Millar talks up his pet education bill. The House chamber always looks like a kicked over ant hill.

* The House approved cost of living increases for state retirees. I have several friends who will be happy to hear this news. But anyone hired after July won't get any. Poor young 'uns.

* They are down to talking about adjustments to retirement funds. I know it's important! But lord knows it's boring.

* Land owner protection act. That means as long as I got it posted, if you come on my farm to hunt or fish and get yourself kilt, my liability is limited. Can I get a hell yeah! (They call it agri-tourism which always makes me giggle)

* Steve Davis wants to charge criminals some new fees but it appears the beast video player has eaten another tape. Oh well. I'm sure it was riveting footage.

* Rep. Len Walker is using a defendent removing his ankle bracelet in the parking lot of a Big Lots to encourage wider use of the monitoring devices. At least he was thrifty. Housing inmates costs $45 per day but the bracelets only cost $8 per day. Perhaps we can cut a deal with Big Lots and get it even lower!

* Alzheimer's Day. Nope. Not going there. But where's Alan Freedman and his sporty ties?

* More lottery news. No bonuses for the CEO unless certain marks are met. The lottery is getting little love today.

* Here's Alan Freedman! And he's got a real bill! They aren't making him eat peanut butter today! It's another one of the child abuse bills which have been winding there way through since Day 1. I'd like to take this opportunity to once again point out that if we really want to be at the forefront of child protection perhaps the House Children & Youth Committee shouldn't be relegated to a room which resembles the living room of a double-wide.

* Sen. John Douglas. He's been so boring lately. Wait a minute! He's picking on MARTA for alledgedly confiscating a gun which should have been permitted under the new concealed weapons law. And he's threatening to unleash open records requests on the dastardly agency! He's still not completely back, but at least he's warming up.

* Miss Georgia sang God Bless America for the House. Not much to say here but that's one helluva tiara.

* A reminder that Lawmakers will continue tomorrow but I will not. I'll be back on Thursday. Until then, that's a wrap.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Confessions Of A Taxman

Why does a libertarian become a tax collector? Because even libertarians need a paycheck. How does a libertarian act as a tax collector? With the belief that tax enforcement is not about punishment but correcting mistakes.

In the days when I still referred to myself as a libertarian instead of an independent, for two years I was employed by the Georgia Department of Labor as a Field Representative (officially an Unemployment Insurance Tax Auditor). I did not miss the irony.

One duty was the collection of the Unemployment Insurance tax. Unlike other taxmen with whom you may be familiar, I did not go after individuals - I went after employers. Employers paid the tax quarterly with the amount based on their total payroll. When they became delinquent, a file came to my desk and I devised the best strategy to obtain the money.

To the frustration of my supervisor, I demurred in the use of the most devastating tools in my arsenal. Restraint and diplomacy became my style. Others who had worked the trade for years shook their heads in disbelief.

I have many war stories from these years, some funny, some sad, but the two I always remember were the strip club and the daycare center.

My assigned territory was a mottled blob of strangeness. It stretched from the strip joints and lingerie modeling establishments on Cheshire Bridge through the financial heart of Buckhead all the way to the doctor's offices around Northside Hospital. It was not unusual for a single trip to take me from a liquor store to a stockbroker's office.

Despite what one might think, the adult establishments were hardly a problem. Other than the Gold Club (the Federales got them before I ever got close), for months I never saw a file on the myriad houses of nudity. Then, one appeared. It was a small bill. They only missed one filing but curiousity (and perhaps more puerile interest) drove me to investigate.

There are few things weirder than a strip club at 2:00 in the afternoon on a weekday. The parking lot was full of trucks and sedans. I was entering the world of the landscapers and salesmen - men who forsake the heat of the day for a dark place covered in booze and skin.

A cocktail waitress approached me and asked if I needed anything. A manager I replied. The man in charge appeared quickly and I showed him the bill. He ushered me to his office and relayed a familiar story.

The club had changed accountants and in the confusion the quarterly filing was misssed. I responded, "It happens all the time. I figured it was something like that since you guys are never a problem".

He agreed, opened the big business checkbook and snapped out the full amount.

As he handed me the check, he said, "It'll never happen again."

I replied, "I bet".

Not too far from the strip joint, a young couple opened a daycare center.

They left high paying engineering jobs because they wanted something for themselves and they loved children.

When their file crossed my desk, my supervisor pointed out that it appeared to be classic case of what he called a "mercy killing". He believed some people did not have what it takes to run a business and the best action we could take was to end the misery. He had a point. They were a new business and those always faced the most danger. They were also horribly behind and experience told me the chances of payment were slim.

It was within my power to begin the process which would result in their closure, but I looked at my supervisor and said, "let me go check them out".

The daycare was in an old building next to an even older apartment complex, but it had a fresh coat of bright yellow paint and flower decals on the door. The owners were not much older than me and it was apparent they were over their heads. When they first opened, they knew a lot about kids but not much about running a business. Of course they were aware of the outstanding taxes - they had dutifully filed every quarter, they just didn't pay. The wife told of the dread they both felt about the day the taxman came and now he was here.

We sat and I heard the familiar story of the sacrifices made, the hard lessons learned and the tiny successes. Some tears were shed but their eyes glinted with the belief they had turned the corner and could still realize their dream. But they had no idea how they would deal with this awful piece of paper I was holding in my hand.

I looked around - noted the clean but obviously second hand furnishings, the gaggle of children playing in the next room and the mother arriving to take her daughter home. I then reached into my bag and pulled out a repayment agreement. We discussed how much they could pay without crippling the business, how long it would take and how I would personally come each month to pick up the check. I warned them that my supervisor's approval was required but I believed I could convince him.

The next day, he rolled his eyes and signed the agreement.

Every month, for one year, I stopped by the daycare and picked up a check. On the last day, they met me at the doors with smiles on their faces, check in hand. They demanded I follow them to the office to see the photocopy they made of their final payment.

In two years as a taxman, I only put one business out of operation and filed less than two dozen liens, yet I was in the top three collectors every quarter.

The strip club and the daycare center and countless others taught me there is a reason tax matters are dealt with in a civil rather than a criminal manner. Most people who get into trouble with the taxman do so through carelessness, biting off more than they can chew or just flat out Murphy's Law. It is the rare bird who intentionally tries to get away with being a cheat.

In this season of much thunder about taxes, who pays them, who doesn't and what should be done about it, saying so and so is a bad person and should be punished is an easy story to sell to a cynical public. But as politicians proudly thump their chests and demand a reckoning, we should remember that behind their simplistic descriptions of ne'er-do-wells may be a daycare center or even a strip club or maybe your neighbor or maybe even you.

The bloodlust and call for scalps are seductive, but we all face the taxman eventually and all should hope their own story is seen for what it is and not just a politician's punchline.

Georgia Gang Howler Of The Week

Return of the howler.

The Gang took up the issue of Eric Johnson's deliquent tax ethics bill which failed this past week. As usual, the surface was touched but the depths were not plumbed. It also gave Dick Williams a chance to take a few shot at Democratic Senator Robert Brown who was repeatedly called a deadbeat. Towards the close of the segment, Dick let loose this stinker.
Unless you're in a coma, you can call your accountant...
Robert Brown was in a coma for a portion of the time in question.


Saturday, March 07, 2009

Saturday Stupids

The word traveled swiftly, up and down the coast, and by nightfall the downtown streets were crowded with people who had come from as far away as South Point and the Waipio Valley to see for themselves if the rumor was really true - that Lono had, in fact, returned in the form of a huge drunken maniac who dragged fish out of the sea with his bare hands and then beat them to death on the dock with a short-handled Samoan war club. ~The Curse of Lono

Friday, March 06, 2009

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 27

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 27

* There is much meanness in the air. Some of it touched GPB two days ago, but that is a story for another time. The ichor of mean oozed all over the floor of the Senate yesterday. That's a story for now.

* The amended budget passed the Senate. Once again, this was the easy one. The stimulating covered most of the short fall. With Governor Perdue downgrading revenue expectations almost daily, it's the big budget which will be the beast.

* Republican Jack Hill didn't say it directly, perhaps the deep part of his elephant brain refused to allow the tongue to twitch, but he just admitted that without the stimulating, the property tax relief would not have survived.

* Valerie's in studio! It's an end of the week tradition. Sharp suit. She's going to tell us about the transportation overhaul. This thing is shooting through the assembly like it had a drunk night at Taco Bell.

* Once again, Tommie Williams doesn't want to blame the good people of the DOT - just the system. We have a new transportation montage including a lonely, inert front-end loader. It makes me sad.

* GPB is now on twitter which allowed me to follow some of this debate. Sen. Steve Thompson apparently tried to pull a Mr. Smith. I hope we got film. But sadly no. Based on the twitter updates there was something about a tip jar and homilies of such duration, the print jockeys started doing crosswords.

* A bill to inform marriage applicants if they have sickle cell led to an amendment to allow constitutional officers to conduct marriages which led to someone asking Speaker Richardson if they have to call him reverend. And I'm the one accused of being on drugs.

* Some technical stuff that is so weird instead of showing the floor debate, Lawmakers rolls tape from the committee meeting. I don't think anyone understands it which frightens me.

* Here comes the meanness and Brittany is live at Hogwarts to explain.

* Quick summary. Sen. Eric Johnson (R-It Was Rape In My Mind) wants failure to pay taxes to become an ethics violation. Sen. Robert Brown, he's on the list of delinquent taxpayers, then delivered a speech that was filled with weird meanness not usually seen in that august chamber. You can listen to Sen. Brown's full speech here. Check back here on Monday to read the thoughts of a former tax agent on this whole ugly affair.

* WHOOPS! The gremlins are back. Classic frozen tape moment. Some poor Republican looked like the proverbial deer in the headlights.

* A bill to allow a judges to revoke probation if someone commits a crime in another state. Once again, we don't have this already?

* Still no tape. There is much mumbling in the background. I suspect they've resorted to voodoo rites again.

* Minoo!

* The freaking strip club tax passed out committee. We won't let you buy a six pack on Sunday and we're going to tax the hell out of people attending entertainment we don't like. Republicans - this is your Georgia GOP. Oh my word, the bill's sponsor Sen Jack Murphy just said there is a direct correlation between strip clubs and child prostitution. These disingenous scoundrels deserve to be tossed in a lake full of cottonmouths.

* We had something to do with the arrest of the President of Sudan? What? Apparently one of the usually useless resolutions the scoundrels hand out like candy at Halloween was quoted in the international indictment. How very weird.

* Emily is live at Hogwarts. Something about revoking a supplement to high performing teachers. The education stuff this year is very convoluted. The bottom line is they're scraping to find money to do anything.

* Poll time! It's about Senate Bill 31 - the Pay Now Nuke Later bill. And 100% of respondents say Georgia Power shouldn't get the money up front!

* End of the week which means Tom Crawford time.

* The scoundrels are leaving town on April 3. It's like a birthday present to me!

* The freaking Octomom bill - a limit on the number of embryos implanted during fertility treatment. It's of course sponsored by a Republican. I'm going to ask a question and I'm going to keep asking it - please raise your hand if you still claim Republicans in this state want to keep government out of our lives.

* A bill to require those testifying before committees to swear an oath. This thing dies every year. It got a do pass from the sub-committee but it now has to pass the rules committee.

* Alan Freedman is in studio and have mercy, he's wearing a blue and pink tie. I think the high-def just burned my retinas.

* The new schedule means back to the five day week, so we'll all be back Monday evening. Until then, that's a wrap.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

My Morning Wooten

That act of child cruelty has drawn the attention of Georgia State Sen. Ralph Hudgins (R-Hull), who has introduced legislation to limit the number of embryos that fertility clinics can implant. The limit would be three for women over 40 and two for younger women. It should be passed into law.
Once again, a conservative who routinely calls for government restraint in our lives except if the lives happen to be a woman and her doctor. Then, it's katie-bar-the-door.

Much will be said about the practicalities of this nonsense - particularly the expense and danger of requiring multiple treatments - but I want to talk about the bigger picture.

I understand that my ability to buy beer on Sunday and a woman's health are on astronomically different levels, but given the "liquor on sunday bill" failed once again yesterday and is now followed up by this weird, mean piece of legislation, I want anyone who still thinks the Republicans in this state believe government should stay out of our lives to raise their hands.

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 26

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 26

* Thank God it's back on TV. We're going deep into the night and we will probably talk about Jesus and liquor.

* Top story. Math and science teachers get a raise. I will attempt to not include booze and idiocy in every segment and lord knows teachers gettin' some is a good thing, but really? This is the top story? This is why crap ass back room shenanigans happen year after year after year. No one knows how deep the sludge grows because these "gatekeepers of Democracy" never talk about it. Pissing in the wind is too gentle a description.

* Tax exemptions for Delta. WHOOPEE! How startling that both Republicans and Democrats rose to thump their chests and talk about the good works accomplished today.

* First live shot. We still have the Hogwarts background. It's about a Senate committee meeting. Surely it is about liquor and Jesus? No. It's about a little window dressing to cover up those bad 'uns who didn't pay their taxes. Matthew 22:21

* Sen. Johnson took time out of his busy day (perhaps he had some left over time after skipping out of certain committee meetings) to lecture Sen. Robert Brown about paying taxes. Matthew 7:1

* A technical bill about when judges can allow a motion which leads to a discussion on how we can impeach some more judges. Something we haven't done in decades Now that's what I'm talking about. That's some hard core legislatin'.

* A bill to allow kids to ride their bikes on the sidewalk! Who knew it was against the law to ride your bike on the sidewalk? Let them roam in the streets I say! Let the weak be weeded out by the fast moving evolutionary forces of Atlanta traffic! No, no, we can't have that because we are definitely doing God's work now. Mark 10:13-16

* Minoo. But frankly I cannot get excited at this point. My heart is too filled with the despair of Job.

* Doubling the homestead exemption failed in the House. Perhaps they were distracted by the plight of children on bicycles.

* And right when we should move into the weirdness of Revelation, John Douglas once again submits a bill that makes sense. Then, I swear by all that is holy, they passed a bill to approve a website. They passed 11 bills on the floor of the Senate today yet we have not heard one peep about the political hot potato that could not claw its way out of committee. But we do have b-roll of Earnest Dan Weber listening to some bill about forclosure fees including who cuts the ever loving yard.

* Emily Banks live shot. The House passed an almost identical bill to the Senate bill requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote. Luke 14:12-14

* On the road again. Senate Democrats took to the road to talk to people about the stimulating. Which means they went to the local library to talk to some poor soul who can't find a job. Then they held a town hall. And there's Robert Brown again. Perhaps the dude who was using the library computer can show him how easy it is to file a tax form online.

* Leadership Interview. Mark Burkhalter. He's seriously going to talk about breaking Milton County out of Fulton County. To learn why this is funny, read why Milton was originally absorbed into Fulton.

* Not one question about how they would opt out of Fulton's obligation to Grady. Not one question about how they would opt out of MARTA. The next time some idiot whines about GPB being biased, I'm going to take one of the softballs served tonight and jam it as far up that idiot's nostril as physics will allow.

* More testimony about English only drivers license tests. The sponsor just pointed out that driver's need to be able to read if cow's are crossing the road. Lawmakers - sponsored by Monty Python.

* It was PB&J Day. And the President of the Georgia Farm Bureau is now talking. And his name is Zippy. I give up.

* One of the dangers of familiarity is the seeping inability to bring the harsh when it is needed. Over the past 26 days, Dave, Nwandi, Valerie, Brittany, Minoo and Secret Squirrel have become nightly companions and in a weird way, friends, but even friends fail and tonight Lawmakers fell flat on its face.

Today, for the third year in a row, the people of Georgia were denied the opportunity to choose whether they would like to purchase a six-pack or a bottle of wine on Sunday. I doubt you heard about it on the 6:00 news. I doubt it'll rate much mention in the AJC tomorrow. However, one would think the one vehicle which is allowed the opportunity to educate the public about how lawmakers use byzantine parliamentary procedure to quietly euthanize policy would at least find a moment to make mention.

Instead, they talked about the various recipes for peanuts.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Sunday Liquor Bill Withdrawn


Once again, Decaturguy wins our annual bet.

Gonzo Lawmakers - Day 25

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 25

* This show hasn't even started and we already have weirdness. I have no recording of the 7:00pm broadcast. No problem. There's the 5:30 rebroadcast. But there isn't. It's not on the schedule. Did they get pre-empted by some Barney/Ken Burns/Antiques Roadshow emergency? Was it an internet only broadcast? We will find out shortly as I strain my aged eyes to see the internet version.

* "Live from Atlanta" - ahem, I think not!

* Perdue announced the 2010 budget (2010! It's like we're living in the future!) will have a 1.6 billion cut. That's a lot. The stimulating will cover about 1.1 billion. Whew.

* First live shot and they've moved again! They're still on the balcony but the background is different and with the lits dimmed it looks a bit like Hogwarts.

* The House passed their version of the transportation bill - it has the statewide TSPLOST. It also has a list of projects. I bet four-laning Ga-133 is on it. Steve Davis (R-Just Loves The Hudson Bride Exit) opposes Dubose Porter's amendment to shift some of the gas tax to this project. It passed anyway. By a huge margin. Everyone got their ducks in a row on this one.

* Pat Gardner wants to give MARTA some flexibility on how it uses its budget. Currently it rigidly requires 50% for operations and 50% for capital improvements. That does seem a bit odd. There's a dude from Sandy Springs actually making sense about the transit system! M-O-O-N, that spells crazy, laws yes. He wants to charge by the distance traveled (which is what DC does) and that makes a helluva lot of sense.

* Senate bill to require proof of citizenship to register to vote. I predict we will get a Democrat talking about a solution in search of a problem. This is voter id all over again. Steve Thompson brings up the it's about "the poor, the old, the infirm" thing. Wouldn't old people have already registered? (shot of earnest Dan Weber with his hand over his mouth). It passed 34-20. Sounds like a party line vote.

* Sen. John Douglas! Please bring the crazy so I won't have to write an open letter like Travis Fain did to the Speaker. Lord help! Not only was he not crazy but he was making sense too! I better start writing.

* House defeats the seat belt in pickup truck bill. In other news, water still wet. But this is interesting. Parliamentary nerds take note - apprently instead of killing the nasty little thing in committee, they mucked around with it to the point even the sponsor said it's unrecognizable. Smooth.

* Next live shot and Brittany's going to talk about Legislators who've been vewwy, vewwy bad about not paying taxes. Sen. Eric Johnson wants to take them to the woodshed. He wants to make it an ethics violation. Now Sen. Robert Brown, who we found out today is one of the delinquents, is theorizing tough economic times may be to blame. I'm betting he gave this interview before that news tidbit broke. You spin me right round, baby, right round. Brittany says none of the names have been released. Not true Brittany!

* The supplemental budget passed the Senate committee.

* Tuition's going up at the colleges. The University System Chancellor also said furloughs are possible. If'n you remember wayyyyyy back to the first week of the session, he originally vowed this would never happen. The ever tightening belt is squeezing harder.

* The Hall of Fames are about to plead to stay open. The scream you heard from the direction of Newton County was probably Jason Pye. We get a report from the Macon radio affiliate. WABE listeners cover your ears and quietly hum Chopin. Requisite shot of the Music Hall of Fame - complete with a B-52s dress. The legistlature is discussing making Macon fund the museum. Macon's mayor is shockingly against this plan.

* Ron Stephens Cigarette Tax is stalled in committee - which of course brings some advocacy group up to 'Lanter to whine. It was the Christians this time. Something called the Faith United Against Tobacco. Not kidding. One of them is quoting Corinthians. Not kidding. It's the "body is a temple" part. Next they could transition to Faith United Against Twinkies and not even change the acronym.

* More advocates. This time it's the animal lovers. It's about the taste of anti-freeze. Really. I think someone at the Capitol has been huffing the anti-freeze. Rep Tommy Benton (R-Loves Animals) wants to mandate anti-freeze not taste so sweet thus avoid tempting kitties and puppies into licking themselves to death. Someone also want to protect pets from being collateral damage in domestic violence. My goodness but this was a weird day.

* Georgia Rides To The Capitol. Lots of people with bikes. Pleas for bike paths. At least it wasn't one of those god-awful Critical Mass things. I try to curb my enthusiasm for violence but those things cause my heart to fill with lust for billy clubs and tear gas.

* That's a wrap for the first internet only Gonzo Lawmakers. Please GOD get it back on my TV tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Decatur Blogs Speak

Nick of DecaturMetro and Dave of inDecatur (featured as my #5 Blog Story of 2008) talk to Georgia Podcast Network about their origins, methods and the future - including thoughts on why Dekalb has become an ersatz incubator for local blogs. Fascinating stuff.

80s soundtrack courtesy of Java Monkey

Georgia Men

If you can railroad a bad man to prison, you can railroad a good man.

At that moment, an older mountain man with a long beard sitting at the back of the jury box whispered just loud enough for the other jurors to hear: “Why, I would have killed the son of a bitch.
According the powers that be, Bobby Lee is a lion. We've always known he was as bobcat.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Please, Mr. Speaker

Check out Travis' love letter to Glenn Richardson
It's hard for me to write this. I know we haven't been together long, but we were so good together. I mean, you said so many awesome ridiculous things, and the press always printed them and people always read it.
Well written humor contains a grain of truth. This one has plenty of both. Make sure you read it.