Monday, August 31, 2009

More Media Drifting

Long time Atlanta reporter Maria Saporta Lyle V. Harris has an interesting insider view of some of the goings-on in old and new media around Atlanta.

I was tangentially involved in a few of these shin digs (in case you couldn't tell from some of my rants over the past year) but I'll save more preachin' on that subject for another day.

He also kindly gives me a nice plug. Which means I need to get off my lazy butt and write something more than this "color by numbers hey follow this cool link" piece.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Kafka Would Cry

Wendy Whitaker is the poster child for Georgia's byzantine Sex Offender laws.While Genarlow Wilson's very public case fixed one flaw in the system, Whitaker, recently featured in the a Economist article, is still lost in a legal maze only a legislature guided by goodness but not wisdom could design.

Whitaker is a registered sex offender due to her untimely fellating of a classmate during a break at school. At the time, she was 17 and the "victim" was 15. A Creative Loafing story in 2006 detailed the hardships resulting from the scarlet letter.

Now, she's been arrested again.

No, she has not returned to her fellating ways. She failed to notify her local Sheriff's office of a change of address - a change mandated by recent additions severely limiting where registered sex offenders can alight.

Creative Loafing's Scott Henry has the details.
In Whitaker’s case, because it was her husband’s name, not hers, on their home mortgage, she was allowed to return to her house — after living with relatives in a rural trailer park — only due to a temporary court injunction....But this past Monday, police in Columbia County arrested Whitaker at her mother’s house, charging her with failing to register a new address. If convicted, she faces a 10- to 30-year prison sentence under Georgia law. Last year, a bill to reduce the penalty for failure to register passed the state Senate, but Keen was able to kill it in the House...At this writing, Whitaker remains in jail, unable to make her $10,000 bail.
Regular readers know it takes an exceptional circumstance for this site to take a position of advocacy. This is one.

If someone sets up a defense fund for Wendy Whitaker, I'll pass along the details. Hell, I'll likely contribute.

A Possible Solution

A quick thought.

John Oxendine's loopy idea to re-ignite the intown Interstate fight awakened a long dormant idea.

What we need are two limited access highways, one connecting Forsyth (the town not the county) to Cartersville on the west side and to Commerce on the east side. These arteries would divert shipping traffic from both the ports of Savannah and Brunswick.

It's simple. We need to get the tractor-trailers off the perimeter.

Kicking An Ant Hill

John Oxendine has a solution to Atlanta's traffic problem.

The nicest thing I can say is at least it isn't the loopy double-decker, 27 mile tunnel Connector idea.

He wants to build a second connector on the east side of Atlanta.
If you look here at the map, you can actually see we could build a connector — a parallel connector — running from the 400/85 corridors, going through [East Atlanta]…
Been there, done that, got the tree hugging chains to prove it.

The problem with Commissioner Oxendine's idea is that it was tried in the 70's when Georgia 400 was originally planned to connect to what is now I-675. It then reared its ugly head again with the Carter Parkway fight. Both times, the intown neighborhoods rose in a furor and defeated some of the most powerful political forces in the state. (History of Ga-400 on Wikipedia)

Do you really think it would be any different this time? I can almost hear the rattle of chains as grannies begin picking out trees in the paths of bulldozers.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Finally The Mayor's Race Heats Up

For a race which many political junkies thought would be a stew of racial politics and possibly the last gasp of the "machine", the 2009 Atlanta Mayoral race to this point has been mostly blah.

Until today.

A group labeled "The Black Leadership Forum" sent out a scathing email encouraging Atlanta's black leaders to line up behind candidate Lisa Borders.
At the end of the day, “when the morning comes,” a black agenda would better enable us to have our interests respected by and our influence realized in any administration.
Galloway had the scoop.

But Henry gets the gold star for the best headline (The Mayoral Machine Goes Haywire)

We're finally rolling up the first hill of the ride. Hands in the air and hang on.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Blessed Are The Rumor Mongers

Rumor and innuendo have always been tools of the trade in the muck trenches of politics, but few use them as wickedly as Erick Erickson. If you fall on the wrong side of the witch burner's line, beware - fact, fiction and simple decency will matter little. And if you happen to be a member of his party, prepare for the flames to lick your toes as the kindling is lit.

In May, following Florida Governor Charlie Crist's announcement that he would run for Florida's U.S. Senate seat, Erick issued his writ - Charlie was a liberal in disguise and Rubio was the man. But, Erick did not hold back his witches hammer. Why only point out the ideological divide when you can also tarnish the man's reputation with accusations of non-existent scandals.
Will we go with tanned, telegenic tax hikers with dubious personal issues, or young, telegenic conservative reformers who are not afraid to speak up for freedom?
Charlie is many things, but scandal ridden is not one of them. I asked Erick a simple question - 'what personal issues?' He did not reply. Why stick around to clarify, when you can watch the results of your myth grenade from a safe distance?

Now, he has taken aim at Georgia's Lt. Governor Casey Cagle.
If nothing else, there is clearly an undercurrent of desire for people to get him gone on the grounds that whatever was bad enough to stop him from running for Governor was bad enough to keep him from running for Lt. Governor.
Last I checked, the reason Cagle got out of the race was he needed to undergo potentially paralyzing back surgery.

Of course, like Charlie, rumors have always swirled around Cagle. It is often the case with people in power. But also like Charlie, they have remained nothing but rumors. This fact does not matter to the witch burners. In the fevered eyes of the zealot, guilt, innocence, justice, truth matter far less than the need for purification. After all, they have to be guilty of something, right?

Monday, August 24, 2009

It Begins

If you didn't follow one of the links in my previous post, I encourage you to follow this one to the absurd essay at SWGA Politics comparing the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans to the effects of Hurricane Iniki on the set of Jurassic Park.
These people were either so delusional or so beaten down by their own government that they thought it was the government’s job to save them! Rather than taking action on their own to get themselves OUT of the situation they found themselves in, they sat there and waited to be “rescued” by the government!
Usually, SWGA Politics has fine content - particularly when reporting about Albany local politics. However, it is not immune from occasional forays into true madness. This is one of those times.

The channel dredging begins.

The Preachin' Will Continue

How do you reach the brink?

You get into arguments with loons. You try to wrap your head around the fact that one of the best writers in town thinks it is valuable to link to one of the biggest hacks in town. You forget certain venues have only a veneer of honesty, not honesty itself.

How do you step back?

You remember the reasoned conservatism of a Jason Pye. You remember the reasoned liberalism of a Johnathan McGinty. You find a laugh at the weird journeys of Doug Richards. You remember there are places such as Like The Dew where the long form is still valued. You remember this town has a nest of quality writers (if they survive the gasping rattles of Rosebud clutching meglamaniacs). You remember there are places that care only about their community and the rest of the nonsense be damned.

Now, I'm going to preach a bit. And it will be pompous. If that ain't your cup of tea, feel free to exit the chapel now.

When I started this thing three years ago, it was a place to regenerate my long dormant need to write. Still is. But somewhere along the way (probably during Genarlow Wilson thing) it growed up into something else. It became consumed with the idea that this new medium could be something more - that we could elevate the conversation.

Last Friday, I was ready to call that grand experiment a failure. I became convinced the snot noses who insisted it was nothing more than a child's toy, painted with lead, covered with sharp edges and parts harmful if swallowed, were right.

But agreeing with people I know are wrong is just not in my nature. Moments on the internet sometimes seem an eternity and the aged internet warrior understands, when faced with these singularities of certainty, the best strategy is to retreat to the sheltering woods of reality before seeking the light once again.

Friday, I believed I was wrong and was prepared to shutter my windows. Today, I emerge from the woods still believing I was wrong, but only because I was answering the wrong question.

The correct answer to the correct question is "we must do better".

We will never rid this world of the hyperpartisans, the shrill screechers, the mythmakers, the peddlers of perfidy, but we should strive to contain them. Those of us who believe this world can be something more must continue to dredge channels around their lands. We must dream of a place where they are isolated, left to their lonely howls on islands of madness.

Until that day comes, the experiment will continue because the conclusion has yet to be rendered.

Friday, August 21, 2009

I Don't Know

Most of my writing process is internal. I outline and edit and re-edit over and over in my mind. The process allows me to jackhammer the keys and spew forth a thousand words in minutes.

I've been processing something for the past two days and still have not "published". Doug once told me that when you have a block it is because you are fighting with yourself about something. Wise words from a seasoned writer to a slightly less seasoned writer.

And the thing that I am fighting against is the conclusion of this embryonic piece.

I cannot avoid the fact that I was wrong.

I will leave the madness behind and retreat to the place where simplicity usually provides clarity.

When I return, hopefully, the piece will write itself and a decision will be made.

Until then, I don't know.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Prolific Pete, Peach Pundit and Pandering

Prolific Pete is back at Peach Pundit and not much has changed.

Pete notes that the "tipline" (i.e. Peach Pundit's "cover" to publish any wild ramblings of anonymous emailers) reported a new website aimed at drafting Democratic Party of Georgia Chair Jane Kidd for the 2010 U.S. Senate race.
...the tipline brings news of a website to draft Jane Vandiver Kidd, Chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia, to run in the upcoming U.S. Senate race against fellow liberal Johnny Isakson.
Of course it's Peach Pundit, so it must be noteworthy. AJC top political gun Jim Galloway picks up the story and adds this gem.
Take this seriously. As was the case in 2006, Democrats are extremely worried that a less-than-stellar candidate will jump in and win the top spot on the party’s ticket.
And if anyone had taken five minutes to call Kidd, as Athens Banner Herald's Blake Aued did, they would have discovered the entire story was pure fantasyland.

For years, I've argued blogs could be more than rumor and innuendo mills.

Maybe I was wrong.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

This Is Libertarianism?

The only violence at town halls is caused by union thugs and the idiot Glenn Beck deserves defense?


And of course, liberals are the only people who want to censor.

You know, I remember a time when I had to explain to a die-hard Republican that because I was a libertarian, I was not a liberal Democrat.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Barnes On Water

Jim Galloway has some very interesting reporting on remarks made by former Governor Roy Barnes at some real estate agent hootenanny.
The first thing we have to do is to locate every place that can store water north of Atlanta that does not have to be permitted by the Corps of Engineers.
He also has some interesting ideas on transportation.
I think that what we have to do is to elevate light rail over the interstate highways where we already have the right-of-ways. And every so many bridges, you retrofit the bridges to be stations above.
Barnes first administration was chocked full of ideas, some good, some bad. His opponents might have disagreed with him on the details but they could never accuse him of not thinking up ways to solve a fix. The fact is Sonny's election was less about competing ideas and more about portraying Barnes as a power-mad king.

Barnes entered the race by extending the velvet glove of humility, but he has not left behind his right hook of innovative thinking.

The Nut Vote

Southern Political Report's Tom Baxter rattles his political ouija board and summons forth the ghost of Sen. Herman Talmadge.

Eulogizing the late US Sen. Herman Talmadge at his funeral in 2002, former US Sen. Sam Nunn recalled a meeting with his state’s senator not long after he came to Washington. Nunn recalled that when he mentioned casually that he answered most of his mail, but ignored “nuts” like those who believed in flying saucers, Talmadge spit vigorously into the spittoon by his desk and gave him a solemn warning: “If you don’t get the nut vote, you can’t carry a county in Georgia,” the state’s senior senator said.

Tom carries the lesson to the modern strangeness of current Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson's uncomfortable position of opposing the Obama administration on healthcare reform but also decrying flame breathing rhetoric from members of his own party.

Wise words from Ol' Hummon. However, there comes a times when even though in your heart you know you are right, your brain may be telling you to look around and take note that there's nothing left but nuts.

(Editor's note: I was going to use this opportunity to opine my own position on the healthcare debate but I've decided to continue keep you guessing. Maybe later.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My Morning Wooten and My Afternoon Jay

A rare occasion where the boys are writing on the same topic - the Hank Johnson Health Care Town Hall.

And it's pretty obvious who was there.
On the rare occasions when things started to get out of hand, it was usually because Johnson — ignoring his own event rules — began to respond directly to things shouted from the audience rather than to questions by citizens who took the time to wait in line and ask questions. In fact, those who booed most loudly and responded most vocally in the audience generally didn’t take the opportunity to stand and ask questions directly to the congressman. And once the respectful tone of the meeting was set early, more than a few of the more vocal opponents simply left.
And who wasn't.
Meanwhile, constituents in Congressman Hank Johnson’s district all get smiley faces for good behavior. They have behaved as police authorities and the politician’s organizers desired. An organizer who runs his constituents through metal detectors at a public policy debate is afraid of the people he serves. That is not America.
Jim, as a southern gentleman, you should know better than most that an invitation in my home does not provide you the privilege to drop trou and pee on my carpet. The rules for Hank Johnson's Town Hall were fairly straightforward and fair - no signs, no demonstrations from the audience, questions would be answered during the designated time period and if you were disruptive you would be booted. Despite these apparent draconian rules, both supporters lustily cheered and booed many times (and occasionally cat-called) without dire intervention by the authorities.

Only twice did the police step in.

Once wasn't seen by most. It happened as the assembly was concluding. Four young people who obviously supported health care reform, sporting packing tape over their mouths, stood in front of the army of television cameras. An officer quietly asked them to go outside and they complied.

The more widely reported ejection happened during the question and answer session. While constitutents patiently queued at the two microphones, a young man began shouting questions from the audience. When it became apparent he refused to shut up, officers did tap him on the shoulder and ask him to leave. That's it. That's all. Except later, outside, when he and his friends stood around chortling about how they disrupted the event and were going to be on the news.

No one wants to see a public gathering devolve into a riot and people with whom I spoke, on both sides of the issue, seemed pleased the structure resulted in a conversation instead of chaos.

Something Jim would have known if he had got off his semi-retired butt and provided his readers with some context instead of simply regurgitating the out of context partisan canards of the day.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Gonzo Townhall

It is a tradition at Drifting Through The Grift that when your humble scribe stumbles out into the real world to report a story, he publishes an unfiltered version of his notes. Hopefully, this will give you a better idea of how the "crafted" story was formed. As well as possibly some amusements.

My notes from Hank Johnson's Healthcare Townhall are extensive, so this time we'll just have to pull the tastiest morsels.

*Yellow truck with sign "Bush-Obama Economic Dumbasses"

*Police informing no signs, no cameras, no backpacks

*Oxendine campaign handing out flyers

* Free Speech Zone sign blows over

*Sign - "The Govt Could Not Run A Used Car Sale How Are They Going To Know When To Take Out My Gall Bladder"

*Cynthia McKinney hat wearing guy yelling at sign toters

*The number of flyers is incredible

*Two groups screaming yes and no at each other

*Woman screams "Thank you Hank Johnson"

*First cheering and booing. Pretty mild though

*Restlessness in the crowd. Rumbling of approval on certain points

*Someone yells "We're already doomed"

*Johnson calms the crowd again

*This is kind of boring

*Dr. Kellerman - "One procedure that should never be performed in an E.R. is a wallet biopsy"

*Most of the panelists are presenting a moderate message. Hank Johnson defused the thing by presenting a moderate message.

*An honest to god conservative!

*The liberals are hissing. It's getting a little ugly.

*Question time!

*Said not pay any money. People go a little crazy. Shouting

*Got to point to the baby. Man uses baby as prop

*Deficit neutral brings laughs. A few catcalls but pretty polite

*Johnson won't guarantee another town hall before the vote brings the strongest reaction. People shushing each other

*Crowd gets really rowdy. Hank just keeps going

*Guy screams from the audience. Police move in. Asks about article "general welfare". Couple escorted out. Third guy escorted out.

*"You're not Cynthia McKinney which is way cool".

*Girls with tape over their mouth. Cops not doing anything. Cops moving them on.

*Bill Greene

Town Hall Twist And Shout

We rarely boo at baseball games. Our calls to talk radio, although at times tinged with anger, are generally polite. To outsiders, it must appear difficult to stir Atlantans into a froth.

However, given the recent history of the so-called health care town halls across the land, there was some trepidation as people filed into the Cole Auditorium at Georgia Perimeter College's Central Campus on Monday night. 4th District Congressman Hank Johnson was hosting his first town hall and many showed up to see the fireworks.

Perhaps it was the heavy police presence. Perhaps it was the constant attention of the volunteers. Perhaps it was the very structured nature (including a reading of the rules and the Pledge of Allegiance) of the event. Perhaps it was all of these which calmed the divided crowd.

Or perhaps it was a slick politician with a speaking tone the equivalent of vocal valium.

Dekalb Commissioner Larry Johnson moderated and both he and Congressman Johnson asked the crowd to show the rest of the country that the south and Dekalb County was known for its ability to be polite in disagreement. For the most part, they succeeded, although as the rhetoric heated up, there were a few flareups and three people were escorted out for shouting from the audience. Commissioner Johnson joked about the first day of school and how the crowd had "failed the first test" bringing subdued chuckles from both sides of the aisle.

But perhaps Johnson's cleverest tactic was his panel. Instead of a town hall where a politician stood upon a holy rock and preached, the Congressman presented a panel of seven medical professionals with positions as diverse as the CEO of Grady advocating national health care to Dr. Troy Williamson of the Medical Association of Georgia flat out stating any public option was unacceptable. The ricocheting opinions had portions of the crowd switching from boos to cheers with whiplash speed. When one panelist advocated "personal responsibility", the applause was near universal.

The lack of radicalness proved a foil to the expected craziness and the only incident which drew attention from the stage was during the audience participation portion when a young man shouted a question from his seat. Outside the town hall, Sean Mangieri of Atlanta, the first person escorted out, said he expected to be thrown out for breaking the rules but felt it was necessary because it was "not a legitimate debate". Mangierie was quick to point out he was not there representing anyone but himself.

Perhaps the relatively subdued mood of the town hall was summarized best by former 10th District Republican candidate Bill Greene who attended because he felt it would be interesting. Greene said although he disagreed with Congressman Johnson's positions, he was "impressed by the diversity of the panel" and noted this is not the first time Johnson has reached out to unexpected allies. In 2009, the liberal Democrat Johnson co-sponsored libertarian Republican Ron Paul's bill to audit the U.S. government.

Georgia Sex Offender Laws In The Economist

The Economist has an article about U.S. sex offender laws and the lead paragraph tells the infamous story of the teenage girl listed as a registered sex offender for performing oral sex on another teenager.
One day in 1996 the lights went off in a classroom in Georgia so that the students could watch a video. Wendy Whitaker, a 17-year-old pupil at the time, was sitting near the back. The boy next to her suggested that, since it was dark, she could perform oral sex on him without anyone noticing. She obliged. And that single teenage fumble wrecked her life.
One area where I believe we all agree is the true predators should be punished and punished harshly. However, as the Genarlow Wilson case exemplified, our sex offender laws must be carefully crafted. We brand for life far too many people who are just stupid but hardly dangerous.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Final Note On ConstableGate

The first piece I wrote about Kyle Constable/John Oxendine was pretty much straight up news. The second piece was more my first person journalism style. This final note will be pure opinion.

Having spoken both on and off the record to the Oxendine campaign and to Kyle, here is my bottom line take on the situation: The campaign acted very stupidly by engaging with a minor, but unlike some have recently said, I believe their intentions were innocent.

The reason I tied my piece to the ethics of blogging was not to pick on a 15 year old who may or may not have the knowledge and experience to understand the consequences of his actions. However, his actions are another episode in the never ending fight about how journalists, campaigns and bloggers interact and how closely do bloggers follow traditional reporting rules and that's a subject I feel compelled to note.

There are some out there who talk both ways about what on the record means and what verification means and they are not minors (at least one of these adults I believe had an influence on Kyle and his subsequent actions). However, since they were only tangentially related to this story, I felt the focus had to be Kyle and his actions.

But take it from someone who recognizes that these types of murky ethics will lead to another cycle of recriminations from traditional media, we know who you are, so does the public and it doesn't matter how many page views or hits you rack up, your reputation is in your hands.

And in this business that's all that really matters.

Dealing With The Devil

Jon Flack once said, "I'm not sure how to deal with these journalistic bloggers". Two years later, the struggle to define this murky relationship has moved to the campaign trail.

"We need to ask questions to bloggers to determine if they are writing as an activist or whether they are acting as a journalist so we can deal with them accordingly. We want to treat journalistic bloggers the exact same way we treat reporters" stated Republican candidate for Governor John Oxendine's Campaign Manager Tim Echols.

Echols was responding to last week's incident where teenage Lee County blogger Kyle Constable accused Oxendine campaign staff of "bullying" him.

On Friday, Constable published on his blog the details of a private conversation involving Oxendine consultants Gabe Winslow and Jeff Breedlove. Although he admits the conversation was off the record, Constable says the staffers were "rude" and "disrespectful" and he felt justified in breaking the veil of off the record because "it was something that needed to be published and knew that the people of Georgia were going to know the truth about what the Oxendine campaign does."

What followed was a blog storm which raged from the mountains to the coastal plains.

The easy story was a major gubenatorial campaign picking on a kid. The deeper rumbling was an onion peel of ethics in blogging and campaigning.

Blogs in the state of Georgia range from the openly partisan activists at Blog For Democracy to the more opaque Peach Pundit to fiercely non-partisan Drifting Through The Grift. Throw in professional journalist blogs like Fresh Loaf and Political Insider and you have a mish mash of purposes and standards possibly leaving readers confused about purposes and truths.

Constable found himself waste deep in the muck. He admits he was a "grassroots volunteer" for Oxendine but also expressed a desire to pursue journalism in the future. The conflict between these two very different trades erupted when he felt compelled to comment on his perception that a campaign tactic used by Oxendine was nothing more than a bait and switch effort to acquire email addresses. It was this posting which led to the now infamous conversation with Breedlove and Winslow.

Although the details of that conversation are lost to time and as is usually the case, both sides claim wildly differing perspectives, the result is not in dispute. Constable detailed the conversation and the Oxendine campaign found itself suddenly having to respond to stories that it was bullying teenagers. Not an activity any campaign desires.

Reporting an off the record conversation is the nuclear option for any journalist or any aspiring journalist. Every story is a deal with the devil. The journalist or the journalistic blogger is trying to get a story and every campaign is trying to get their story out. Both sides are being used, but both sides understand they are being used. There are rules to this game and as long as both sides stick to those rules, everyone's goals can be accomplished with fairness and at least a degree of honesty readers find acceptable.

Off the record conversations are critical tools in the deal and have the most defined rule set. Their primary purpose is to give a writer context around an event. Simply put, they are the check on whether a story is true or not. Although a campaign staffer will provide a gin-upped pablum of platitudes on the record, it is off the record where they will tell you if you're even on the right trail. Many a reporter has been saved by someone saying "I can't tell you officially, but you're getting this one wrong".

Although the professional standards may vary slightly, the rule regarding off the record conversations is simple - you don't report them. Most don't even hint about them. They are proximity bombs and the closer you get, the more likely they are to go off in your face. Professional journalists understand playing fast and loose in this arena can cost a career. For the non-professional bloggers, doors pried open a mere crack may slam shut relegating a voice to a lonely island of despair surrounded by an ocean of distrust.

Though his actions might be excused due to youth and inexperience, Constable is already tasting the consequences. Following a strong public rebuke from the Georgia Teen Republicans (Constable is Treasurer of the organization), today, he shut his blog down and although he will not admit to being pressured into this action, he does state, "
I know that by shutting down my blog not only can I continue to make a difference to the people around me where I'm planted, I may be able to re-unify the [Georgia Teen Republican] Executive Board so that we, as a whole, can really start to make a difference in the state."

Time will tell, if this episode will linger around the Oxendine campaign or their young former supporter, but all should note the eternal lesson - if you yank on the devil's tail too hard, you will get burned.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Saturday Stupids

Life goes by pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a could miss it ~Ferris Bueller

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Candidate And The Kid

Only those who work deep in the trenches of the hideous world of politics likely care, but there was a small flareup today when 15 year old Lee County blogger Kyle Constable claimed he was "bullied" by officials from the John Oxendine campaign after writing a piece questioning the legitimacy of the Oxendine ancillary website

Constable fueled the fire further by publishing details from what he admits was an "off the record" conversation with the campaign.

Prior to today's events Constable was a supporter of Oxendine and used his website to praise the candidate.

John Oxendine Campaign Manager Tim Echols believes this episode resulted from a misunderstanding between Constable and his staff and stated to Drifting Through The Grift, "We value the involvement of teenagers in this campaign. It is important that we work with them and their parents to determine the best role for them to play."

In the dog days of August, political campaigns tend to stall and all those who travel that strange road will search for any rest stop to quench the thirst for political spirits. Merely the idea of a gubernatorial campaign fueding with a teenager stirred the Georgia political blogosphere into a frenzy. However, once the dust settles, the conversation of the role of bloggers in politics and the ethical dilemmas encountered will likely continue.

Look for an extensive follow up to this story on Drifting Through The Grift on Monday.

My Morning Wooten

Short version Wooten.
"I wish I had been a headline writer, but what I really want to talk about is how the two parent home solves all ills just like tunnels and toll roads would solve all our transportation problems".
He's phoning it in, so am I.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Hank Johnson Town Hall

It's been a while since I've wandered out into the field to cover the crazy. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Griftdriftland) is hosting one of those very popular Health Care Town Halls.

Monday, August 10 from 7 to 9 p.m.
Georgia Perimeter College Clarkston Campus
Cole Auditorium/FineArtsCenter
555 North Indian Creek Drive
Clarkston, GA 30021

That's too much fun to pass up. Best crazy sign that I'm allowed to photograph gets a lollipop.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

My Afternoon Jay

He don't like "cash for clunkers".
The “Clunkers for Cash” program never made sense in the first place, at least as it was enacted. The alleged environmental “benefits” were largely bogus, the taxpayer subsidy was much too generous and its benefits were too narrowly targeted to the automaking industry and to those Americans in a financial position to think about buying a new car or, given the program design, a new truck or SUV.
Hey CB? How's the Jay-hatin' these days?

Here is a perfect example of why I don't write very often about Jay. Most of the time I agree with him (like this time) and it's awfully hard to find creative ways to say "yep, he's right". And, unlike my morning constitution known as Wooten, Jay, dare I say, frequently goes full bore contrarian against type. And that tickles me a bit.

Awfully tough to peg him with the liberal tag when he calls environmental benefits bogus and a tax subsidy too large. What next? Saying unions overreach their purpose?

The Taxman Returneth

Last session, the Georgia General Assembly passed a new law requiring the Department of Revenue to report any legislator with delinquent taxes to their respective ethics committees. A 30 day grace period was allowed and it has now passed.

The AJC is reporting two legislators have been reported with a third being investigated further.

It reminded me of something I wrote back in March.

The Taxman Cometh

Worth a read again as the howls of the political mythmakers begin to sound through the political murk.

Not Quite

Erick's latest headline:

In Which Griftdrift and I Agree

Well. Not quite.

But before we get into that, note the classic campaign spin - we've been at odds lately but look! I've found something we agree on so we're really not that far apart! Then the fait accompli - shut off comments so your drafted ally can't disagree. It is classic political disinformation perfected by the Rovian "win at all cost" drones over the last 10 years.

The fact is Erick and I have agreed on nothing since the election. From his attempt to bring the witches hammer to Georgia to his rumor mongering about Florida Governor Charlie Crist to his vile slander against a sitting Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Erick has crossed the dividing line on my political map from the territory of grudging respect to the land of egomanical weasels who will say anything for more fame and money. It's not hard to guess who else inhabits this land.

But back to the birthers.

Where I agree with Erick is the entire episode is ridiculous, but it is important to note the parts that he carefully, in full blown weaselness, leaves out.

Never does Erick say people like Josep Farah and Orly Taitz are ridiculous. Never does Erick say that statements such as G. Gordon Liddy's that President Obama is an "illegal alien" are ridiculous. Even as these so-called birthers become squirrelier than an oak tree full of acorns, Erick Erickson does not call these people out as the loons they absolutely are.

Erick Erickson will only go as far as describing the situation as "ridiculous" and a "waste of time". In other words, it doesn't further the agenda or have a chance at success, therefore it must be put aside. It is a subtlety which would make Bill Clinton blush.

One day, Erick and I may agree again - probably on some local issue where the brain of the man temporarily ousts the limbic silliness of the weasel - but for now, the best we can do is "not quite".

Video found on Left On Lanier

Monday, August 03, 2009

What I Miss

While some of us were cutting grass in the hot south Georgia sun, strange tales of politics still swirled in Georgia

-Andre was kicked off the front page of Peach Pundit...again. His sin this time was the use of profanity. His potty mouthed tirade consisted of one naughty word contained in a quote by Peach Pundit publisher Erick Erickson - a quote Erick won't retract and proclaims pride in having said. Failing to disclose payment for praising articles will get you temporarily banned, reporting false stories will not get you banned at all, but quoting the foul slander of your publisher will get you banned toot sweet. These are the editorial standards of Peach Pundit.

-Speaking of Erick and his merry men, RedState endorsed Karen Handel for Governor of Georgia. Three things: 1. So much for the "moderate" Republican. This may hurt her with independents. It will certainly hurt her with a certain constituency of one. 2. Given RedState has also endorsed the soon to be trounced Marco Rubio in Florida, this may not be a blessing. 3. We can finally put to rest questions about Erick Erickson being a shill for campaigns (since sarcasm doesn't always translate to the internet, just imagine it dripping here).

-Nathan Deal is a birther...sort of. While the candidate doesn't flat out state he believes President Obama was born in Kenya, his mush mouth response to the question is akin to responding "we should look at all possibilities" when asked about creationism. It's funny how the party of strength and courage and morals skitters and jumps at the appearance of a shadow from the nearest loon.

-Democrats are not happy with John Barrow being....John Barrow.

What else happened?