Friday, June 29, 2007

A new kind of flagger?

This Marietta flag thing is absolutely insane.

Here's a recap ...

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran a story which said the City of Marietta was banning the Veterans of Foreign Wars from distributing flags at the city's annual Fourth of July parade. Erick from Peach Pundit decided post something where he compared the folks in Marietta to Nazis and then send out the first-ever Peach Pundit blast email to everyone who has registered to comment on that blog.

When an individual didn't appreciate this, Erick decided to publically chastize him/her ... someone who disagreed not with the issue at hand, but rather merely didn't appreciate the email.

The mayor of Marietta is kind enough to offer his explanation, and all appears to be OK.

Then, today, it all reverts back to the nonsensical. The Marietta Daily Journal says there's some spinning going on here, so there must be a vast conspiracy at work here. Then, Erick calls for us to call the Marietta City Council to complain about said spin and the rule.

I can't comprehend why this is a big deal. The rule prohibits only where the flags can be passed out, not what they are or if they can (then, yes, we'd have a problem). I think it makes perfect sense for there to be safety concerns - which, by the by, aren't because kids would use them as weapons, but rather I would assume they don't want children potentially running out into the street or anything - and I think there are logical compromises.

It makes sense to me to get the flags out to the crowd before the parade starts. Why not have designated stations set up where the VFW can pass out flags to people? Why must we stick to this notion that it's more appropriate (patriotic?) if they pass them out during the parade?

I mean, hey, I love America, and The Wife and I like to display the flag on holidays like this, but this seems to be an issue that focuses on solely logistics, not any stifling of free speech or disrespect to the veterans. It isn't about the flag at all, but about finding the most appropriate way to let the VFW pass out flags. It isn't about Marietta adhering to bureaucratic procedures, but rather about following an ordinance that was crafted with the best interests in mind.

If it hasn't been enforced in previous years, then ... so what? If it's on the books and they think it will provide for a smooth, well-run and safe event, then go with it. If not, then they'll use discretion in determining whether or not to strictly enforce it.

I say all this because I've enjoyed good debate and dialogue with a lot of the folks over at Peach Pundit. Erick has always been a good and fair guy when we interact, and this whole thing is so incredibly beneath them it's not even funny. I've engaged in a good bit of responsible discussion over there, and, again, Erick in particular has been good to me over there. I'm not out to start any beef with them, but I guess I just question why this issue? Over ones that they've been equally, if not more, passionate about (like illegal immigration or Generalow Wilson)?

And why the email blast? I didn't mind it - and I surely wouldn't go as far as the anonymous responder did in asking to be taken off the list - but why not use the pulpit afforded you by the blog?

Podcasts are back

OK, so we've got two months until kickoff ... that doesn't mean we can't record a new podcast.

Couple of things

- For you wonky types, here's a link to Sam Nunn giving a speech on preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

- I don't disagree with Claude Miller, and wasn't Ed Page's letter focusing overwhelmingly on the fiscal reasons why alcohol sales would be a good thing? I don't remember too much morality talk in there (not that that's a problem either seeing how he can voice his opinion on whatever he wants to).

- This appears to not really be a charter school and something quite different actually. Something which focuses on developing the workforce and expanding vocational education seems, to me, to be a good idea.

- The more John Edwards participates in Democratic debates, the more folks get turned off by him. It's rare that I've seen someone slip in the polls after a debate, but he's done that consistently over the last month. And I'll say he was awful during the CNN one about a month or so ago. Tondee's Tavern has a brief wrapup on last night's forum moderated by Tavis Smiley.

- I'll be honest, I'm not sure what to make of the Supreme Court's ruling on diversity standards yesterday. I'm not a fan of using racial quotas to achieve racial diversity, but then again it seems the Roberts Court went kinda far and proceeded to overturn decades of judicial precedent in order to make sure that a suburban white mother wouldn't have to drive a little ways for her son's education. The ruling seems to be somewhat designed for her convenience rather than, you know, constitutional obligations.

- Well, Al Horford and Acie Law is about as good as a draft as the Hawks have had in a while. It actually appeared there was some thought put into this one, unlike previous drafts.

- Absolutely wow.

Old Man River

I had chills throughout.

Music for the moment

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Proceed with caution

Remember that weird Marietta-flag-thing?

This kinda confirms that a lot of people got upset over a whole lot of nothing.

Listen, I'm guilty of jumping the gun too from time-to-time, but isn't this a good lesson in understanding why we try to clearly understand everything from the get-go?

Try logic for once

Couple of things

- A while back, I talked about this ... which is why I think Cindy Fetch's free market for water usage theory has flaws. While her theory has the potential to have some success, it also has the very real potential to allow wealthier citizens the right to draw larger amounts of water, thus worsening a crisis during a time when there is no relief in sight. Also, her point about this taxing the police is misguided as 1) police respond to emergency calls first and 2) there is a whole set of ordinance enforcement officials which handle instances like this.

- Seriously, I was expecting 'your momma' insults to start flying in the Paul Broun-Jim Whitehead smackdown on 1340-AM. The dumbest line of discussion? Broun saying Whitehead doesn't deserve the NRA endorsement because the latter 'doesn't own a gun.' And then Whitehead affirming later, with an NRA sticker on his truck, that he's a lifetime member. No need to talk about pressing issues gentlemen ... I'm glad to see you're focused on what's important.

- Erick from Peach Pundit sent out a blast email to discuss the City of Marietta prohibiting the Veterans of Foreign Wars from distributing American flags at the Fourth of July parade. Marietta, of course, changed its mind and is now letting them pass out flags from the sidewalks. Of course, if you read a bit deeper, you realize the whole thing was way overblown as the city actually allowed them to pass out flags prior to the parade's start and doesn't permit any organization to distribute materials from the parade route once the parade has begun. It ain't as if Marietta hates America and getting all worked up over one type of the flag distribution seemed a bit silly. But that's just me.

- I'm with GriftDrfit on this one ... I'm kinda flattered, but not really.

- Francis Assaf's letter is absurd. Though I may disagree with Ed Page on this issue, why should he be prohibited from voicing his opinion? Simply because he's a deacon at his church? People of faith shouldn't be permitted the right to speak their mind? Seriously, if you want to discuss free speech forget that flag issue and focus on this one ... it's ridiculous.

- Here's an interesting take on the Athens CVB branding process.

- I argue for trading the farm to land Greg Oden, but, as this indicates, the Hawks will probably do something vastly stupid.

- Ann Coulter. Blah blah. Elizabeth Edwards. Blah blah. I blogged a little, but I honestly don't care about this spat.

Some branding talk

As has been discussed earlier, some folks weren't terribly thrilled with the new logo and brand rolled out by the Athens CVB. One of the original ideas during this process, which began three years ago, was this one pitched by Snowden Tatarski. I think it was a pretty strong proposal, but it was passed over and a firm from outside of Athens-Clarke County was chosen to craft the new branding process.

Snowden Tatarski puts together a newsletter, and there most recent offering included their thoughts on the entire process. Here's an interesting excerpt ...

The concept and drive behind 'Only in Athens' was to develop a brand that could be used to attract both visitors and relocatees of an individual and organizational nature. We marketed the idea that our seemingly paradoxical existences indicate our unique spirit that is desirable to businesses and individuals alike. For example, in an ad we showed two restaurants on our main drag in downtown. To the first restaurant pointed an arrow which said “Chateau D’ Pomerol, $198 a bottle” to the second restaurant pointed an arrow which said “Chateau D’ Milwaukee, $3.50 a pitcher. The ad then went on to explain that Athens’ biggest selling point is great diversity peacefully existing in one area. Diversity of geography, business, entertainment and lifestyle make Athens what it is. This approach is in opposition to the too often bullet point laden junk that so typifies destination marketing. We told the relocating businesses that our unique offerings were something that they needed and that they could only find in Athens. Similarly, we told the prospective visitors that unique cultural and enriching experiences also exist to make Athens a fine destination.

Walking out of the meeting, I knew we nailed it. You could see the glimmer in the attendee’s eyes as they imagined all the other seemingly paradoxical relationships that exist in Athens. We had struck a cord and were awaiting a flood of new and even better ideas to emerge from within the strategy. It took only days to get the e-mail.

And we were crestfallen. The head of the Conventions and Visitors Bureau dispatched an e-mail to the mayor calling for the group that had convened to reconvene for a more expansive study of which he would happily be in charge of. He powder puffed our efforts and vacuumed all the momentum we had created in pursuit of his ambitions.


In the three years it took the CVB to craft a brand for the city there was enough tomfoolery to upstage the Benny Hill show. The first firm considered promised to do a full review of operational effectiveness of the CVB and other brand entities. That firm was promptly dismissed because this effort was about the CVB trying to make itself relevant, not to let everyone see how the sausage is made.

The second firm was ousted for giving several communities the same brand. All of the smoke and mirrors that the CVB director had used to persuade the stakeholders towards and out-of-town firm ended up being just smoke and mirrors. The dismissal of the second firm was kept quite as to not wake those asleep at the wheel. The third and final effort used a professor from a college a state away, the bountiful resource of about ten thousand dollars and came up with something profound. Athens: Life Unleashed!

The effort landed with such a resounding thud that even some of the stakeholders would not sign their name to it. The newspaper called foul and conducted an online poll where two thirds of the respondents said they hated the concept. The CVB staff ran around like a battalion of keystone cops trying to cover their actions. When I attended their board meeting soon after the supposed launch they cowered from the subject and barely mentioned their three years in the making masterpiece.

I was asked my opinion because we had been summarily dismissed from the CVB because they could not gain political power from our continued efforts; the Economic Development Foundation loved our materials. So did the ADDY judges. The material was named “Best in Show” by the local ADDYs. A major market research company who studied the branding efforts of the State of Georgia said the work was “The best municipal marketing materials I have ever seen.” So what was my opinion?

My critique is simple. That’s not a brand.

It’s a campy slogan. It’s a poorly designed logo. It’s a group of ads that continue to perpetuate the undesirable concept that Athens is a place of excesses. Honestly, when was the last time anyone typified anything positive as being “unleashed?”

I blame the CVB for putting their own attainment of power and influence above the needs of the town but I don’t fully blame them for the brand screw up. It is a common problem to equate the idea of a brand with so much that it is not.

The Coulter-Edwards thing

Alright, it's not worth wasting a lot of space on, but there just a few things worth noting about this.

First off, I'm glad Elizabeth Edwards called in to MSNBC defend her husband. Not only did it make Ann Coulter look like an even more petty and callous individual than she already is, but it also revealed how weak she is as she resorted to merely shouting over a presidential candidate's wife on national TV. Anyone with any morsel of class would have just taken it, politely rebutted what she felt was necessary and be done with it.

Second, while I am glad Edwards had the gumption to stand up to the bully, it's also rewarding Coulter for her absurd comments. However popular she might be among some segments of the GOP base, it's also clear she's someone that no candidate should take seriously. All this does is keep her and her antics circulating a bit longer in the media, sell a few more books for her and give her attention she neither deserves or warrants.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Couple of things

- Wow. This is the endorsement of all endorsements. Namely, vote for Paul Broun because he's not Jim Whitehead, he's from our neck of the woods and he'll probably only be there for a year anyway. Not that I disagree with any of these things, though I'd suggest in a race of two GOP extremes that Whitehead, sadly, is closer to the mainstream than Broun. I don't plan to vote for either, so there's that.

- The watering ban here in town just got tougher.

- Related to the drought, it's worth noting we're 17 inches below our expected rainfall level dating to last year. And nothing short of some well-timed tropical storms will relieve that, which is weird to wish for in its own right.

- Well now, isn't this just perfect? So, it's going to cost twice as much to close the Naval Supply School than we thought ... which means we might not save any money at all ... which means Congress may rethinking this thing ... which means we may not get a medical school in Athens-Clarke County ... which means we wouldn't get a welcome payment for local non-profits to start expanding and/or supplying much needed services to those in need in our community. I'm glad to see that the boys at BRAC thought everything through back in 2005.

- Strategic Vision has a poll that surveys the political landscape in Georgia, and the good news is that Barack Obama is neck-and-neck with Hillary Clinton in the state poll of Democratic presidential candidates. The Republicans are all about some Fred Thompson because they're wearing their 'I heart Ronald Reagan' T-shirts.

- Isn't this a dumb story? I mean, of course Tiger Woods is taking some time off to be with his newborn child. Anyone who would dare criticize him would be an idiot (as if there's anything to criticize anyway).

- Speaking of athletics, why don't you go vote for former Georgia swimmer Kara Lynn Joyce for ESPN's Female Athlete of the Year?

- Billy thinks he's found the 'Worst Band in the Universe' ... which is a bold statement.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A-C watering ban gets tougher

The watering ban just got a bit tighter, meaning my grass will be toast in a matter of days.

This is from the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government ...

Athens-Clarke County Increases Restrictions on Outdoor Water Use to Level Three

Due to the ongoing drought conditions, Athens-Clarke County has increased the outdoor water use restrictions to a Level 3 Drought Response. The new restrictions ban outdoor water use during weekdays, allowing outdoor water use on weekends only between 12:00 midnight and 10:00 a.m. in compliance with the odd/even address plan.

The restrictions are effective immediately and are as follows:

- All outdoor water use is prohibited 24 hours a day, Monday through Friday.

- Outdoor water use for odd numbered addresses is allowed on Sundays between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 10:00 a.m.

- Outdoor water use for even numbered addresses is allowed on Saturdays between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 10:00 a.m.

The restrictions are for all residential, commercial, governmental, and institutional outdoor water use.

These restrictions do not include commercial and industrial use of water critical to the conduct of business such as commercial car washes, tree farms, and garden supply nurseries.

Variance Permit applications for new lawns and/or landscaping are still being accepted and reviewed during the Level 3 Drought Response.

The rainfall deficit in the Athens area for the period January 1 through June 25, 2007, is approximately 9.5 inches, with little precipitation relief predicted in the near future. In addition to the current drought conditions, the Athens area had a precipitation deficit of 8.65 inches for 2006. The Athens-Clarke County Public Utilities Department urges citizens to follow the outdoor water restrictions and conserve water whenever possible to prevent additional restrictions to water use.

Some (other) thoughts on the 10th

Since the runoff between Jim Whitehead and Paul Broun is between a pair of Republicans, I think it's safe to do a little analysis of the special election for the 10th Congressional District now. And I've asked a couple of folks to submit their thoughts, and I'd like to include some of those for you here ...

It's still all about the ground game. Three yards and a pile of dust is not the most exciting offense but when executed properly it allows a mid-80s Oklahoma to run up the score. Whitehead essentially inherited Charlie Norwood's "machine". I suspect Dr. Broun's surprise second place finish would not be so surprising at all if you figure in all the people who knew his "diddy". The Democrats on the other hand struggled, as they have in recent statewide elections, forming their own "machine". In Georgia, as in most elections, people vote for who they know. And now with yet another election where democrats can't even must 40%, in this case not even 30%, it may be becoming clear how little anyone knows the Democratic Party of Georgia.
- GriftDrift, Drifting Through The Grift


I think it tells us that despite protestations early on, the 10th is a solidly Republican district and the General Assembly successfully marginalized Clarke County. I also think it raises questions about the present effectiveness of the Georgia Democratic Party.

As for what this sheds light on overall, I suspect that had 2006 not been such a repudiation of the GOP nationwide, both (John) Barrow and (Jim) Marshall will need to start getting nervous, Barrow more so that Marshall. We're in for a ride of GOP leadership for a while. However, I do find it interesting that the allegedly grassroots GOP candidates have performed craptacularly against the allegedly establishment GOP candidates. Perhaps the base is not as far to the right as some would suggest. See e.g. Whitehead's victory in the 10th and Jackson's in the State Senate District 24 race.
- Erick Erickson, Peach Pundit


Now that the dust has settled from the first round of the 10th Congressional District election, with Democrat James Marlow conceding Monday that Republican Paul Broun earned the votes to challenge leading vote-getter Republican Jim Whitehead in a July 17 runoff, it’s time for a bit of a review.

First, among the biggest losers in this race, through no fault of his own, is Doc Eldridge. Eldridge, former Athens-Clarke mayor and now president of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce, was among the early names to surface in connection with the special election to fill the 10th District seat upon the death of Congressman Charlie Norwood. Eldridge reportedly got an early call from U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, a former Athens resident now serving the Savannah area in Congress, telling him that he (Eldridge) had been mentioned as a strong potential candidate in the race.

Due to a couple of family emergencies, Eldridge balked, and the money started lining up behind Whitehead. In the world of woulda, coulda, shoulda, if Eldridge coulda run, he shoulda, because he woulda made a great candidate. Stand the gregarious, glad-handing Eldridge up against the over-handled, under-performing Whitehead, and Eldridge’s viability as a candidate becomes clear.

Second, and a bit surprising to boot, is the fact that June 17 balloting showed a Democrat could make a strong showing in a heavily conservative district like the 10th. If the Democrats had gotten around to employing the discipline needed to get behind a single candidate, we’d be looking at a Whitehead-Marlow runoff later this month. That’s supposing, of course, that the votes that went to the two other Democrats in the race, Evita Paschall and Denise Freeman, had gone to Marlow – a not unreasonable assumption.

Third, both parties should start – right now – to find other candidates for next year’s race for a full term in the 10th District seat. Neither the front-running Republican nor the front-running Democrat for the special were particularly inspiring candidates – even for the sort of motivated voters that cast ballots in special elections. Both parties have some recruiting to do if they want to capture the more ‘casual’ voters who account for a large part of the ballots cast in a general election.
- Jim Thompson, Editorial Page Editor, Athens Banner-Herald


Unfortunately, I think the immediate political future of Democrats and Republicans in the 10th is very similar to the recent past. The 10th will most likely have a representative who votes very similar to the late Norwood, and Democrats will go back to rebuilding the local party apparatus.
- FlackAttack, Tondee's Tavern

Couple of things

- This story is a perfect example of why Doc Eldridge is the perfect man to head the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce. Not only are Bob Carson's comments dead-on, but Eldridge encouraging the Chamber's members to attend the meetings just to be involved in the community is exactly the type of leadership that organization needs. I can't say enough how pleased I am with the hire and with the job he's done in just a few short months.

- We all need to keep the North Oconee High School community in our thoughts and prayers.

- There's a story in the Athens Banner-Herald on it today, but there will be a debate tomorrow between Jim Whitehead and Paul Broun. I'm not sure where we'll hear actual differences since they are both mighty conservative.

- Also noted was the fact that the endorsement by the Oconee County GOP for Whitehead has been revoked. And, again, I called that something was gonna go down after Jay Hanley's chest-thumping statements.

- Here's my problem with Christine Todd Whitman's testimony ... she's splitting hairs. Her agency wasn't specific in the aftermath of 9/11, or at least as specific as she claims now. It's as if she expected everyone to ultimately know what she meant. So she may not be lying, but she ain't being truthful and her getting all defensive shows how pathetic her line of argument really is.

- Grift summarized some of his earlier thoughts on the immigration debate.

- If I can make a plug here, everyone should go buy the current issue of Vanity Fair which focuses solely on Africa. I've worked my way through a couple of articles and, of course, picked up this particular cover.

- What is with all the Paris Hilton letters?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Runoff debate info

There's going to be an Athens-area debate for the 10th Congressional District runoff ... sort of.

Both Paul Broun and Jim Whitehead have agreed to a debate moderated by Tim Bryant on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. to be broadcast live on WGAU 1340-FM. As of now, I've heard from a few folks that it will be just Bryant and the candidates in the studio.

It's an interesting, and rather intimate, setting for a debate. Broun, as of late, has lobbied some pretty strong language at Whitehead, while the latter has dismissed many of the former's charges.

I've also heard from a few folks that Team Whitehead wouldn't agree to holding the debate, especially in Athens-Clarke County, in front of a live audience.

On a related note, Blake says the Oconee County GOP is asking for a do-over on its endorsement of Whitehead, and that Jay Hanley was 'overzealous' ... which was absurdly obvious based on Hanley's quotes in his story. Hanley's been over at Peach Pundit preaching the good word on Whitehead for weeks now and apparently spilled too many beans to the press.

That rankings thing

Flack defends my integrity at Tondee's Tavern, which is much appreciated. I will say that I think his rating on the BlogNet rankings was kinda low, but I'm quite happy with mine.

It's still hard for me to process that this many people care about what I have to say ... or, shall I say, that this many people feel the occasional need to say 'Whoa Jmac, that ain't right.'

Still it's always pretty humbling to have some readers, of which I'm most appreciative of, and it's good that BlogNet News is trying to keep tabs on things.

Nice catch

Everyone applaud my niece Avery, who at the age of six, snagged her first big catch while fishing with her father this past weekend.

Right after this, she witnessed her younger brother break her younger sister's porcelain kangaroo. Seriously.

Couple of things

- It's partially insulting this column was even printed. Not only does it fall back on a faulty line of arguing - 'this one year wasn't really the hottest so all of your global warming data is wrong' - but it also uses a former TV meteorologist as its source of information.

- There's a good bit of irony involved in Clayton Kirk's letter, only he doesn't even know it.

- Here's my AthFest wrapup.

- This is absurd. Listen, Paul Broun is going to lose, and lose badly, to Jim Whitehead in July 17th's runoff. But Whitehead ain't gonna do anything in Oconee County where Broun rolled up 50 percent of the vote on the last go-around. So it's kinda ridiculous to say something like 'we just wanted to show it's not as pro-Broun as you think it is' ... if anything, you're using the organized party structure to openly challenge the GOP base voters in Oconee County. I also think Jay Hanley is gonna get a good talking-to by the rest of the folks out there for not only his odd statement against Broun, but also for outing the positions of Mike Maxey.

-I didn't even know folks ranked this kind of thing, but that's pretty cool. Appears that I'm tops in the Athens area, so thanks loyal readers.

Well, whaddya know ...


I'm No. 17! I'm No. 17!

This has led to The Wife and I developing the new Safe As Houses slogan ...

'Safe As Houses. Seventeenth in political influence in Georgia, but first in your heart.'

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Weekend wrapup

Another year, another successful and entertaining AthFest weekend.

- No surprise, but Tin Cup Prophette was absolutely awesome. Easily my favorite local artist, and one of her first songs was Speak or Spill Down, which meant I knew it would be a good evening.

- In fact, all of Friday's shows at Little King's Club were excellent. I had never seen Venice Is Sinking, but they gave one of the best performances of the entire weekend as they performed right after Amanda and crew. I've seen Modern Skirts a few times, and they put on a pretty good show. Plus, you really can't go wrong with the venue either ... plenty of room on the patio, right next to the main stage and cold PBR for $1.50.

- Met up with Tim and Carrie to catch the tail end of The Whigs on Saturday, before embarking to see bits and pieces of Count and Bobby Yang and his Unrivaled Players (the former of whom was pretty good).

- Kudos to the entire volunteer staff which put on this whole thing. I've been coming the past couple of years, but this was the first time I ventured out both days and the amount of work that goes into this event is astonishing. If you know someone who was involved with it, be sure to pat them on the back for a job well done.

- Got to say that, looking back on it, Friday night was really the most fun I've had in a long time. Not only was the music great, but it involved Ed, I got to hang out with Carissa (where we teamed up to win a few rounds of cornhole), catch up with Amos (an old buddy from college who I hadn't seen in about five years) and see plenty of random folks that I never get the chance to regularly spend time with. I won't lie ... I was a little bummed on Saturday morning that it was over.

- I wasn't able to see Caroline Monroe, but she is playing at Little King's Club on July 13, so perhaps I can catch her then.

- And, with all this going on, I still managed to find time to drive to Augusta on Saturday during the day to help my dad drywall the expansion of my parents' master bathroom and then put together a Swing 'N Bounce on Sunday morning.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Couple of things

- It's good to see some folks changing their mind on this, and I'm proud of both Kelly Girtz and George Maxwell. Giving the folks the freem to speak without prior registration is a good way to keep the dialogue going freely, though it has the potential to lead to longer meetings. I think Kathy Hoard has the most common-sense suggestion to limit the length of meetings by adjusting how some things are structured behind-the-rail, procedural-wise, rather than deter citizen input.

- I also don't agree with Doug Lowry's assessment on the former (From the ABH: 'The proper time for the public to state an opinion is well before the voting meeting to give commissioners time to think, follow up and verify information, Lowry said.'). The public has the right to state its opinion anytime it wants to do so. Elected officials work for the public, and if 17 folks want to chime in about something at the last minute, they should be afforded the opportunity to do so.

- Sweet. A story on Kyshona Armstrong. Scott told me an entertaining story where she said that she'll bring her guitar and if she needs to pick up some cash to pitch in for parking somewhere or grab a bite to eat, she'll play a few songs on the street corner rather than go to the ATM. She and Rachel Cole are pretty darn good, so go check them out at AthFest tomorrow and then at the ole musee on Wednesday at 5 p.m.

- Podcast anyone? It may not be The Cover Two, but the Athens-Clarke County is doing 'Trash Talk' to discuss the recycling program here in town.

- Today's editorial pages at the Athens Banner-Herald? Four letters on the Paris Hilton spoof video shot at the Oconee County Jail and two letters defending the 'FairTax' which are, ultimately, the exact same things its supporters have sent in over the past three years (i.e. folks hollering 'Read the book! Read the book!' ... dude, I have ... and I still feel it's a terrible idea).

- This is an interesting post at Peach Pundit, with a pretty good discussion to follow.

- I don't think Oconee County Commission Chairman Melvin Davis has any conflict-of-issue problems here. It would be one thing if Davis would benefit, but a guy he knows has the potential to benefit in a weird, roundabout way? Not so much.

Music for the moment

Look at me being hip

Everyone be sure to try and get away some this weekend to catch part of AthFest. It'll be a busy weekend for me as I'm hoping to catch Tin Cup Prophette tonight, go help my dad in Augusta with some remodeling during the day tomorrow and then come back to see Adam Klein, Caroline Monroe and William Tonks on Saturday night.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Behind the numbers

After posting my 'Holley Hypothesis', I took a look at some numbers and it's safe to say the speculation can cease there.

The larger problem for James Marlow - aside from Denise Freeman snagging 400-plus votes in Athens-Clarke County and Paul Broun running much stronger than folks anticipated - was that Democratic voters didn't make it to the polls in the Augusta area.

During last year's general election between Charlie Norwood and Terry Holley, the former captured Augusta-Richmond County by a 12,608-to-7,212 count and Columbia County by a 24,689-to-6,643 tally. Republicans in the CSRA were more than willing to head back to the polls and cast their ballots overwhelmingly for another hometown boy done good in Jim Whitehead.

In Augusta-Richmond County, 4,689 voters cast ballots for Republican candidates (37 percent of those who voted in the general election), while only 1,444 voters turned out to support the Democratic ones (just 20 percent returning to the polls).

In Columbia County it was ever more astonishing as 47 percent of Republicans returned (11,396 voters) compared to just 28 percent for Democrats (1,903 voters). The GOTV effort of the Augusta area Republicans trumped that of the Athens-Clarke County Democrats who sent 4,511 voters to the polls (33 percent of the 13,486 who backed Holley last year).

McDuffie County, Holley's home base, reported strong numbers for return voters with 41 percent of Democrats returning, though that was still bested by 45 percent of repeat Republican voters.

Couple of things

- Gasp! The liberal media! Seriously though, I don't mind journalists giving to either political party ... partially because I trust their ability to do their job to the best of their ability and partially because I believe they've got as much interest, and right, in backing an individual for public office as you or me.

- Well, OK ... The Athens Banner-Herald says James Marlow is waiting until all the votes are in, which is a bit different than what Marlow said at his campaign blog. But, then again, only a bit since he said he already called Jim Whitehead and Paul Broun to congratulate them, but also wanted to wait until the votes were in.

- Speaking of that, I talk about my dilemma in picking a candidate in the runoff, as well as ask an open-ended question about Terry Holley and the Augusta area votes.

- Lost in the special election down here was the fact that Michael Bloomberg left the Republican Party, which is interesting. Coming on the heels of his cover appearance for Time, this is more than likely a move which indicates his interest in running for president as a third-party candidate. I kinda like Bloomberg. Not more than Barack Obama, mind you, but if he does jump in the race it'll be interesting to see how it pans out since he actually has political experience, unlike Ross Perot.

- Larry! No!

- This is a pretty weird reason to not vote for someone Michael Covington. I mean, Louise McBee called my house four or five times on Marlow's behalf, but I just let the machine get it and still cast my vote for the man.

- I've mentioned it in the past, but I really don't like John Stossel.

- DuVall ... that's two out of three.

- Let's do a teaser for 'Music for the moment' with some Hank Jr.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Who to back?

It's official now, as James Marlow has conceded.

Now what?

Obviously, I can't get behind a Jim Whitehead candidacy, but I also can't back Paul Broun who is even more to the right than the GOP's establishment candidate.

Nicki says she'll back Broun in the runoff, largely - if not solely - based on his ties to Athens-Clarke County. That's fair enough, but I can't rationalize going from backing Marlow to someone as conservative as Paul Broun.

No disrespect to Nicki - or to Broun for that matter - but speaking as someone who's a moderate-to-progressive fella, his views are pretty far away from mine.

As an aside, Blake talks about the race, conceding - like the rest of us - that we were all wrong.

He says, however, that the Democratic Party is in shambles. I just don't think so. I think it's far behind the curve with regard to a couple of things, but I think you've got to look closer at the numbers (and, you know, realize this is a very conservative district). In doing so, you'll see that Marlow ran fairly respectable in places like Towns County and Lincoln County.

There's a lot of work to be for sure. This is a red state, and, right now, we're kinda searching for some good, young candidates with strong local ties to emerge and help take the party to the next step.

I do agree, however, that the party base didn't necessarily gel around Marlow as they did in Athens-Clarke County. A question I'd like to throw out there involves the numbers for Evita Paschall in the Augusta area ... sure, she had some ties, but would Terry Holley have any impact on this? He was awfully critical of the other county parties backing Marlow, and, as the chair of McDuffie County Democratic Party, one has to wonder if he wasn't as inclined to work to get out the vote for Marlow.


Well, yeah

I kinda agree with Hillary on this, which is something I noted before.

Namely that ...

1. I'm as satisfied as I can be with the outcome of the sale of the Boys & Girls Club property on Oconee Street and Billy Ramsbottom's proposal;

2. Ultimately, I think it was Ramsbottom who kinda provoked this thing. Again, he put forth a decent initial proposal and then acted stunned when the commission requested he compromise to adhere to the land-use plan;

3. It isn't as if Ramsbottom returned with 3,000 square feet of commercial space (which, quite frankly, is a small percentage of the actual proposed development) that he desired opening up to retail ... the vision of his development team was to turn this into 'live-work' space, rather than commercial space.

Couple of things

- We're about ready to move into Phase II of the special election for the 10th Congressional District (though the possibility of a recount for second place between James Marlow and Paul Broun is still very real). Here are my thoughts, along with Blake's coverage as well as some quick thoughts from Flack at Tondee's Tavern.

- Bill Greene, proving yet again his lack of rational thought and his undying eagerness to be loved, endorsed Jim Whitehead. Why? Because of the non-negative campaign the latter ran (though he claims Paul Broun was negative toward him ... which makes me ask 'huh?'). Greene has done nothing but assail Whitehead's positions and character, but now is all to eager to cozy up to the probable winner of this race.

- Oh yeah ... Greene finished with three percent of the vote.

- I'm not entirely sure why this warrented a story. I mean, I'm surely somewhat biased seeing how I'm a big Tony Taylor fan, but on the other hand ... he was speeding (albeit really speeding). He wasn't busted for drugs or real estate fraud or dog fighting, but reckless driving. Plus, he doesn't even play for Georgia anymore.

- That's a nice idea, but not so much.

A marathon, not a sprint

Let me say one other thing about this.

Republicans are, understandably, touting the successes of Jim Whitehead and Paul Broun, while Democrats are somewhat befuddled by the struggles of James Marlow. It's important to remember, however, that Marlow - while a very, very good candidate in my opinion - also faced an incredibly steep challenge if he had made the runoff.

This is a Republican district in a Republican state. Democrats are going to face long odds anywhere they go not named 'Athens-Clarke County.' It's important to accept that and still keep plugging away. Republicans were the minority party for quite a long time, but they worked hard to build local and county infrastructure and a good base of candidates to draw from.

That hard work helped pay off for them.

Democrats need to remember that, and I think the state party understands that is working to build a foundation that will ultimately pay off in the long-term.

Wrapping up the 10th District

Well, I'm still not entirely sure what to make of the results of the 10th Congressional District's special election. Paul Broun's showing was, quite frankly, nothing less of stunning and something that both Democrats and Republicans never considered.

In hindsight, James Marlow should have focused his fire on wearing down Broun rather than criticize Whitehead who merely needed voters in Columbia County to show up and give him the necessary cushion to take first place. But, of course, hindsight is always 20/20, and just Monday no one thought Broun was going to be a factor at all.

Still, he picked up decisive wins in Oglethorpe, Morgan, Jackson and Oconee counties which, outside of the victory in the latter, were pretty surprising (though even the size and strength of his win there caught me off-guard). And he also ran strong in Augusta-Richmond County, probably due to the medical establishment in that community and his ties to it.

Of course, when you've been campaigning long before your potential predecessor even passed away, you can probably build up a good network of support.

Marlow, however, was hurt primarily by two factors ...

- The consolidation of support behind Broun. Many folks, myself included, felt Broun, Bill Greene and Nate Pulliam would split the remainder of the conservative vote and Marlow would be able to snag 25 percent and make the runoff.

- The unexpectedly strong showing from not only Evita Paschall, who tallied close to 1,500 votes in McDuffie, Richmond and Columbia counties, but also Denise Freeman who picked up 400-plus votes in Athens-Clarke County. If Marlow gets half of those votes, particularly in District One which gave good support to Freeman, then he wins by a 100 or so votes, rather than by on the short end of 115.

So, barring a turnaround in a possible recount, we have Whitehead - an establishment candidate with tons of money in his coffers who is also fairly light on ideas and know-how - vs. Broun - a well-meaning fella who is so unabashedly conservative, his ideology is rather arcane.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Hey! Hey!

It's Election Night, and I'm doing some blogging.

You don't see that there is a rerun of an Athens-Clarke County Commission meeting on TV ... I'm wonky, what of it?

Go to Tondee's Tavern for updates.

UPDATE (9:57 p.m.): Who knew that Paul Broun had such staying power? Republican and Democratic bloggers and columnists alike thought he'd be lucky to get 12-15 percent after the snafu of running for the seat before Charlie Norwood had passed away. Still, while Broun's strength is surprising - he's a mere 32 votes behind James Marlow with seven precincts in conservative Habersham County still not reporting - what's more surprising is Evita Paschall.

She picked up close to 1,500 votes in Richmond, Columbia and McDuffie counties and has damn near done a good job of Ralph Nader-ing James Marlow here (even after a near 17 percent turnout in Athens-Clarke County and close to 4,000 votes for Marlow). It's not looking good for Marlow, and that's largely due to Paschall's surprising - and unfortunate in my opinion - strength.

UPDATE (10:08 p.m.): Considerable measure of joy from Bill Greene currently sitting in sixth with fewer votes than both Paschall and Denise Freeman.

UPDATE (10:47 p.m.): Jon Flack has Habersham County rolling in, putting Broun up by 115 votes with three total precincts left out. We'll have a recount for sure, and word is still out on some absentees in Athens-Clarke County. It'll be tough for Marlow to pull through though.

Turnout looking good

After voting at 2 p.m. at the Oglethorpe Avenue Firehouse, I asked how many voters had streamed through. They told me 110, including me ... which is 11 percent midway through the day. They were expecting between 50 and 75 additional voters to come through, which would put Precinct 6D at close to a 20 percent turnout.

The district is projecting a 10 percent turnout for the day.

We like our politics in Athens-Clarke County.

Couple of things

- I'm all for economic development in our community, but I too am relieved Target is scrapping plans to build on the eastside. I feared the proposed development would be too large, too intrusive on the nearby neighborhoods and create way too much traffic.

- It's good to see a guy with a innovative and entrepreneurial spirit, but this doesn't appear to be too feasible. Laudable, sure. But running a 24-hour cable television network out of Bogart would appear to be an uphill climb.

- Hey, it's (Special) Election Day! Get out and vote today kids.

- Vote for who? Well, let's just say I adhere to Pete McCommons's advice and will opt for the level head over the bobblehead.

- At the risk of reigniting a previous discussion (as well as disagreeing with Texas), I agree with Lee Adams.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Still Superman

I mentioned it earlier today, but let me say again - particularly in light of this most ridiculous column by Art Spander (not Vandelay) - Tiger Woods is still the world's most dominant golfer.

No questions. No debate. No discussion necessary.

In the last four majors, Woods has finished first-first-second-second. He's won four majors in the past three years, including consecutive British Open titles. He's finished in the Top Four of every major since 2005 save last year's U.S. Open.

And it's Woods making mistakes or missing putts which are resulting in him not running the table over the last 10 majors, not any other golfer 'rising to the challenge.' Angel Cabera put together a very nice round under harsh conditions, but he almost gave it away himself with back-to-back bogies in the final round at No. 15 and No. 16. Jim Furyk missed out on playoff by watching his par putt at No. 17 lip out.

Woods, at the very least, saved par after par down the stretch to give himself a chance to win while the rest of the field hung on for dear life.

Outside of golfers named 'Nicklaus' or 'Hogan' I'm hard pressed to think of another who has performed at such a high level, yet been met with such scrutiny.

Couple of things

- I could very well be wrong and Charles Baugh might very well be right, but saying that Watkinsville has only brought in $310 since January with regard to its new pour-by-the-drink ordinance doesn't make much sense to me. Then again, I can only think of three restaurants which do serve alcohol in Watkinsville, so Baugh's example may be somewhat accurate, but awfully misleading.

- I agree. A turnout of just 10 percent is pathetic. So ... get out and vote tomorrow.

- J.T.'s column on the blogosphere got folks talking, and I attempted to clarify some thoughts of mine and put up somewhat of a defense of him.

- I have mixed emotions after watching Tiger Woods finish second in consecutive majors. On one hand, I think it's pretty funny that folks have to invent ways to make him seem normal. For example, they kept talking about how he was 0-for-28 in coming from behind during the final round of a major, conveniently ignoring the fact that was he's a perfect 12-0 when either tied for or holding the lead after 54 holes. On the other hand, however, he has looked remarkably human during the final rounds of both The Masters and the U.S. Open. On Sunday, he made some careless approaches to the green and missed more birdie putts than I could count over the final 32 holes. Everyone in front of him did everything they possibly could do to give him a chance, and he couldn't cash in.

- Let me say I'm all on board with this, particularly the workforce development school and the creation of a more interconnected regional economy. I'm just going to pitch my biofuel refinery idea again. Makes sense doesn't it? Agricultural communities surround us, and we have the existing infrastructure to support a refinery to service Northeast Georgia.

- Billy Ramsbottom flip-flops on the Athens-Clarke County Comprehensive Land Use Plan. He was against it long before he was for it!

- As an aside, there's some coming and going among my high school buddies. Russ is headed back home to the A-T-H in three days, while Xon is moving back to Kentucky to teach. Neither one have updated their blog in a while, so there's that.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A (psuedo-)defense of J.T.

As expected, J.T.'s column on the blogosphere - in particular, to SevenHillsDem's comment in a discussion over the Athens Banner-Herald's endorsement of Nate Pulliam - has generated quite a buzz here in blog world.

Erick and the gang at Peach Pundit find fault with it, while GriftDrift also is on the topic at hand.

While I respect and like both bloggers, I don't necessarily agree with their takes on the matter. Erick's position is somewhat difficult for me to fully grasp as he criticizes the mainstream media, and the Banner-Herald in particular, for not interacting with and understanding the blogosphere. However, when one of its editors does just that, his argument appears to shift slightly and his criticism becomes that they are still 'out of touch' because they bash an individual commenter and not the actual blog or its regular posters ... despite the fact they are actually doing what he wanted them to do.

GriftDrift focuses on the fact that Thompson took exception to the fact that many bloggers and commenters rely on usernames or handles to identify themselves, in lieu of using real names. I see both sides here and am a little more sympathetic to the former's position, but I think there's an important element of this discussion missing here.

I think part of the problem stems from a disconnect between the actual bloggers who compose the posts (like Erick or GriftDrift) and those who leave comments (like SevenHillsDem). Understandably, if you're putting the effort into running and maintaining a blog, you're exercising some measure of accountability and responsibility, even if you are just using a username or handle. You have an archived collection of your thoughts and musings. You sometimes post photographs of yourself and your friends. You compile weekly lists of songs you're listening to. You post pictures from your tailgate even after Georgia lost to Vanderbilt.

However - and this isn't always the case - those who leave comments can often do so with the protection of anonymity, and that can be something which frustrates both bloggers and members of the MSM (and several of the former won't permit anonymous comments).

If I find any fault with Thompson's comments, it would be his lack of acknowledging the difference. And it's because of this reason why I believe he didn't reference the actual post by Erick and instead focused on the commenter's criticism ... because it's those kind of comments which can often be so maddening. It's why I don't frequent blogs like, say, Daily Kos as often, because it's the litany of irrational voices that confound me the most rather than the actual individuals posting them.

Perhaps this is part of the reason Erick is baffled by Thompson's take on the whole matter ... because he is focusing on one particular comment rather than the original post which triggered the lengthy discussion and critique of the ABH endorsement. And I can respect and understand that.

I do think the actual criticism of the commenters at Peach Pundit, and SevenHillsDem, was kind of odd because I've always found the overwhelming majority of the members of that online community to be among the most charitable out there, even if I don't always agree with them. In fact, looking back at that comment, I'm still not entirely sure why it upset Thompson so much that he felt the need to respond to it in a print column, but he did.

And, agree with his points or not, at least he's reading the blogs and engaging its writers. If you think he's wrong about something or that he's misreading the blogosphere, then do what you're doing and point out why he's wrong.

The folks at Peach Pundit are doing that, as well as others in the blogosphere, and this isn't this what we want?

Isn't that convenient

As we see here, Billy Ramsbottom finally decided to adhere to the community's suggestion that his development along Oconee Street follow the Comprehensive Land Use Plan.

So, good.

It is a tad ridiculous, I must confess. While assembling what was a very promising proposal that needed a little bit of tweaking and a little bit of compromise, Ramsbottom and his associates argued that including commerical space on the lower level of his proposed development wasn't feasible, wasn't viable and wouldn't make any money. Ultimately, after refusing to budge on any of the requests from the Athens-Clarke County Commission, his original plan was voted down and he has, apparently, found a new developer and gone back to the drawing board.

This new plan does feature a full slate of commercial space along the lower level. So why is it OK now, but not OK then when the commission was striving to find a workable compromise with Ramsbottom? Why is it all of a sudden a 'happy ending' when just a few short months ago, it was something which couldn't even be considered?

Who knows. Still, it will be quite a large development, but is the next piece in the puzzle for the redevelopment of areas like Oconee Street, which is ultimately good.

Of course, the condos will probably cost $245,000, so there's that.

Someone buy him a beer

J.T. is good people, and he was kind enough to show Hillary and I some love in his most recent column. Many thanks good sir.

I still don't agree with you endorsing Nate Pulliam, but I always appreciate good words and free publicity.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Couple of things

- I tend to side with David Lynn on this issue. I don't think we're going to see commercial 737s rolling down at Ben Epps Airport for a variety of reasons (the fact that we are located an hour from two good airports in Atlanta and Greenville-Spartanburg being the primary one). From my few times at that facility, there just doesn't appear to be a large demand of folks who wish to fly out of Ben Epps or a substantial amount of people who come in to our community via air travel. It's important we work to maintain an element of service there for the exact reasons Doug Lowry laid out - our desire to build a regional economy - so it's good to see the commission and the authority working on a compromise.

- I laughed out loud when I read the lede to this story. Excellent use of the phrase 'gin joints' ...

- Couple of shout-outs if you don't mind. First, I had the good fortune of meeting Cousin Pat From Georgia yesterday. He was in Athens-Clarke County for a mere day, but came by to say hi to me and was kind enough to bring me some coffee from Cafe du Monde in New Orleans, where he resides these days. Second, if you're downtown and want to get a drink on a Thursday or Friday evening, stop by at 283 Bar and ask for Rachel behind the bar. She's good people and is always good enough to buy the first round for me, of which I'm most appreciative.

- Regular commenter and new local blogger James Garland writes about the bond issue and the Clarke County School District. I have to meekly say I'm not terribly up-to-speed on this, so I really can't comment to0 much on it.

- And another shout-out ... if you're downtown tonight, go to Little King's around 10 p.m. for a free concert by Molasses Skye, which is Kyshona Armstrong's new project. It's worth heading down there, as is heading over to the ole musee on June 27 to hear her again at 5 p.m.

Music for the moment

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A blind eye?

In yesterday's Couple of Things I linked to Adrian's take on bus drivers being 'harassed by UGA police. I saw his point, but offered a different view ...

Adrian's got something on bus drivers getting 'harassed' by UGA police. I don't think they're being harassed at all. While it's arguably an inconvenience, if the driver is doing something which does indeed violate the law, then the officer is well within his or her jurisdiction to cite them for that. Throwing out the phrase 'proverbial bad apples' is too loaded for me since, again, we're talking about an actual violation which has an inconvenient result.

Adrian responded with the following comment ...

JMac, the false citation in 2004 for failure to yield was sheer harassment. Blocking traffic and interrupting an entire bus route to write a warning for high beams in the broad daylight is entirely unnecessary. With your kind of callous disregard for the practicalities and blind worship of rules for rules' sake, I hope that you get stopped for having a tag light out, for violating stop line markings, and for going 60 in a 55 because, buddy, we all make technical violations, and most police officers exercise the sound judgment to focus on dangerous violations.

Kudos hoss for acting like a child here. I offer a contrasting viewpoint on the subject, and you respond with the uber-mature 'Oh yeah!? Well I wish every known minor traffic technicality on you here.'

I'm surprised you didn't curse the land I live on.

Seriously buddy, this gets you worked up? With all of the passion you put behind this, I can only assume you were somehow directly affected by this inconvenience, thus making you late to a law school class.

If you notice, I disagreed with you over whether or not this was harassment, primarily because that's a bold claim and would mean that either one or more UGA police officers were deliberately making life difficult for the UGA bus drivers. I have to concede that could very well be going on, but I think it's incredibly unlikely.

I also disagreed with you calling the cops who did pull over the buses 'bad apples.' Why? Because they were acting well within their jurisdiction to do so. Now, whether or not this is practical is a whole other matter, one which I avoided discussing.

Of course it's not 'practical' to pull over every bus - or vehicle for that matter - for the most mundane of traffic violations. It's not an efficient use of resources and, as you noted, it does slow down transportation avenues and bus routes. However, it's the individual officer's decision to do so, and as long as they are acting within the parameters of the law, they possess the right to act accordingly.

Furthermore, consider what you're advocating here. You, as an individual studying law, are ultimately arguing for officers, at times, to ignore the law.

Couple of things

- This is pretty interesting and, judging by the interaction and response from the county officals, appears to be ultimately resolved in the proper way. I talked a while back about endorsing Blake's idea that the Athens-Clarke County Commissioners be given more control when it comes to rolling out new ideas and proposing new policies. Right now the commission largely responds to the the non-elected staff and is working in a reactive manner rather than a proactive one.

- Related to that ... we're just now getting around to emailing out background information on different proposals and policy? That could, seriously, cut back on a lot of costs. I know several businesses which switched to 'paperless' offices and saw significant savings.

- It could have been so much more entertaining, but Bill Greene meekly produces a forum where the best he can do is compare Jim Whitehead to John Kerry (which is ridiculous for a variety of reasons). He does tell you that he loves being a Minuteman ... and that we have to stay the course in Iraq and put 40,000 U.S. troops on the Mexican border. That'll be kinda hard to do, won't it? I mean, according to Greene, we need to have our troops in Iraq to fight the terrorists there so we don't fight them here ... but we also need to have some home to apparently fight the illegal aliens here. But who's on first?

- Speaking of Greene, Tondee's Tavern has an entertaining summary of his stances on the issues.

- Beautifully done.

- I ask about recruiting a biofuel refinery to the area.

- Does anyone else see the fallacy in Rev. Rick Standard's argument against alcohol sales? He dismisses a poll of Oconee County residents - saying 'the fix is in' - and says, instead, the commission needs to adhere to the public. Uh, isn't that what the poll is? And if they need to adhere to the public, than 60 percent said they're for alcohol sales. Perhaps by 'listen to the public' Standard means 'wait until I can bring in a ton of folks who agree with me.'

- Paul Chambers says what I said a few days ago.

- Damn. That was a pretty good comeback.

- I never saw an episode, but Josh put together an entertaining summary of the final episode. I'm quite sure it's full of spoiler-like material, so don't read it if you haven't seen it.

The next step

My talk last night went pretty well. We had some minor technical difficulties in the beginning, but it all turned out OK. There were roughly 40 or so folks there, and they were split pretty evenly regarding their political affiliations. But it was well received I felt, and I worked to focus on the science and the commonalities rather than anything divisive which, honestly, doesn't accomplish anything anyway.

Lots of folks were interested in the new biofuels development going on in the state, and I said that this state was teetering on the edge of becoming a leader in the renewable fuels market. We have the research facilities thanks to the University System of Georgia. We have plenty of farm land that can be used. We just need a concerted plan to help encourage the development of that industry.

So, I ask this ... is it feasible to work to bring a biofuel refinery to Athens-Clarke County? We see that Alterra Bioenergy set up shop in Plains, and it seems to me that we have an ideal location.

If there's any community that would be receptive to such a venture, it would be this one. It would bring about well-paying, contemporary manufacturing jobs. It would put us on the cutting edge of an emerging technology.

I'm optimistic about bringing biomedical research facilities here and developing this area into a corridor similar to Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill. But I also like the notion that we work with our surrounding areas to become a leader in the renewable fuels industry.

Developing both of those industries and luring those types of businesses to this community would bring a welcome boom of new job growth to this community.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Couple of things

- Say what you want about Mark Myers, the man knows how to promote his web site.

- Jim Whitehead skips out on another debate, though Atlanta blogger Shelby posed as a chicken in his place. Also, for what it's worth, I don't agree with Nate Pulliam's assessment that a phased withdrawal of U.S. forces in Iraq will hurt troop morale. I think the seemingly endless fighting away from their loved ones is doing a good job of that.

- Walking, eh?

- I'm doing my talking on Global Warming and Christian Stewardship tonight at First Baptist Church of Athens. It's the summer Wednesday Night Supper series, so we'll see how that goes. I'll probably speak at 6 p.m. or so.

- Adrian's got something on bus drivers getting 'harassed' by UGA police. I don't think they're being harassed at all. While it's arguably an inconvenience, if the driver is doing something which does indeed violate the law, then the officer is well within his or her jurisdiction to cite them for that. Throwing out the phrase 'proverbial bad apples' is too loaded for me since, again, we're talking about an actual violation which has an inconvenient result.

- It's rare that I've ever seen a community that wants to not just disparage its schools, but openly humiliate them. It's more than merely depressing, it's damn near infuriating. And the clincher in the criticism of the Clarke County School District is that it stems from folks who don't send their children there. The number of times I see a letter from someone who lives in Oconee County or Madison County poormouthing Clarke County's schools or hear from someone who has sent their child to private school their entire lives how 'awful' the school are here is too many to count. It's one thing to have experienced a school in some capacity and hold a position on its viability, but it's another to be removed from the situation and possess such an open animosity.

- Flack over at Tondee's Tavern has a way to donate to James Marlow's campaign for those who are interested. And he also had some kind words for me, of which I am most appreciative. Check out his blog too ... if you like progressive-like politics in Georgia.

- As an aside, I officially said that I backed Marlow.

- For some reason, Ed, Matt and I watched Game Three of the NBA Finals last night and got irrationally involved in it. That said ... Lebron was totally fouled on his final shot attempt. That said ... as absurdly talented as he is, until Cleveland gets him someone who can bail him out when he's double- (or triple-)covered, the Cavs aren't going anywhere.

It's Marlow or bust

It isn't like it isn't expected, but it is important to officially note that I am backing James Marlow in the special election for the 10th Congressional District. Not so much because I think he's the most electable candidate, but because I do sincerely like the guy and his stance on the issues.

Though the Republican candidates have worked to paint him as a 'extremist liberal' that's more of an indictment of their lack of vision and the sad state of politics today where an outrageous sound bite gets you more attention than a substantive policy proposal.

However, when compared with the crop of candidates that pepper the GOP side of the race, anyone who isn't marching lockstep behind the notion of erecting a massive fence along our border or scrapping the IRS and replacing it with a regressive national sales tax might appear to across the ideological divide.

This race has been interesting, and mercifully we're heading into the final week of it (well, until the almost-certain runoff that is).

The front runner, Jim Whitehead, has made it rather clearly that he openly dislikes Athens-Clarke County for petty, political reasons which, aside from the obvious ideological disagreements I have with the man, make it pretty darn clear he's not fit to serve in Congress. Paul Broun pulled what Ralph Hudgens was shamed for and raised money before the late Charlie Norwood had even died ... and is way too far to the right for me.

Bill Greene is, well, Bill Greene. Minutemen, believing global warming is a socialist conspiracy and punching trucks aside, you get endorsed by Alan Keyes and you lose relevance.

Mark Myers loves to tell you he was endorsed by Ronald Reagan (well, kinda), though his gospel singing career never really took off.

Nate Pulliam is a sharp fella who means well and debates with the best of 'em ... but such things do not necessarily make for a good representative. It's the issues which matter, and Pulliam is considerably to the right.

The unfortunate aspect of this district for Democrats is that it is more than 60 percent conservative-leaning folks, but that also means it is 40 percent progressive-leaning folks. And when I say 'unfortunate' I mean that it's unfortunate that the best the GOP can offer is a group of individuals who are so far to the right they arguably have nothing in common with the voting minority, but probably differ on several things from the majority of that 60 percent who probably backs them.

Marlow is, for lack of a better term, a good, old-fashioned centrist. For someone who considers himself a moderate like myself, I kinda like that. Make no mistake, he's got a progressive vision, but he's the right kind of candidate for this district, and it's my hope the voters of all ideological stripes consider the candidate rather than simply be turned away by the letter stuck next to their name.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Worth considering

Grift asks a good question regarding the Genarlow Wilson case.

Couple of things

- Being an alum of the Athens Banner-Herald's sports staff, kudos to the current crop for picking up 11 awards from the Georgia Sports Writers Association. Somewhere, buried underneath the mountains of things we've removed from the nursery-to-be, I've got my certificates. But they held the ceremony at Brookwood High School? Back in my day, we used to do this at Brasstown Bald Golf Resort or somewhere along the coast. Are people not paying their dues anymore?

- In other sports kudos, our boy Texas is the new sports editor over there. I remember hiring the guy ... and now he's all grown up. I also remember traveling with him to Rome to cover a high school basketball tournament where he insisted on quoting the various Police Academy movies.

- In the ridiculous argument department, I present Teresa Hayes who relies on the tried and true 'who really watches GPTV anyway.'

- Woo-hoo! I've made it! Or something like that.

- Is Journey hard up for money or something? Steve Perry and the gang seem irrationally happy about having one of their songs licensed for use. Would have been better if the song had been Any Way You Want It.

- And a kudos to the Clarke County School District which is making progress on its elementary and middle school test scores.

- For contrasting views on GOP legislators considering a special session look at Peach Pundit and then Tondee's Tavern.

- There's a lot of stuff going on with this Genarlow Wilson case that, quite honestly, I don't know much about. The folks at Peach Pundit are on it, but I'm not up to speed.

- Randomly, I searched YouTube for a clip from Police Academy to accompany the entry about Texas and this video came back. Hey kids ... it's random 1980s music day!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Good show

I had a mild disagreement with him over the Clarke Central school rankings, but my old boss nailed this one right here in his defense of their endorsement of Nate Pulliam. Again, I don't agree with said endorsement, but I understand and respect the editorial board's decision for the exact reasons he spells out here.

But, even better, is the inter-Morris News Service battle as he pokes fun at The Augusta Chronicle's endorsement of Jim Whitehead. Having grown up in that town and still having family down there, I read it a good bit, and I have to say this particular editorial page editor they have in Michael Ryan is a gentleman who does a disservice to people with rational thought everywhere. It's as if he simply gets press releases from the Republican National Committee and merely sticks them up as editorials with his primary deciding factor for a topic being that of if it will get middle-class and wealthy white men really angry (by using half-truths and talking points, of course).

From Winders' blog ...

On a related note, I’m not sure if our sister newspaper in Augusta endorsed Jim Whitehead or Jesus Christ. A chunk from its endorsement: “There is no other candidate with Jim Whitehead’s experience and stature. No one in the race better reflects this God-fearing, flag-respecting, self-reliant region than Jim Whitehead. No one else could hit the ground running in Washington like he could. And we don’t believe anyone’s motives for running are any more virtuous: When Mr. Whitehead goes to Washington, it won't be either an ego trip or a power trip; finally, when you hear someone say ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help,’ you’ll be able to believe it.”

Wow. I wonder if they interviewed the same guy we did.

Viva Athens!

Over at Peach Pundit, they're talking about the ABH's endorsement of Nate Pulliam. In doing so, they manage to take the usual potshots at our community and criticize the editorial staff.

I just figured I'd post my response here ...

Just so I'm clear here, you're criticizing the Athens Banner-Herald for being too liberal ... when it endorses a Republican candidate.

Who cares if they quibble over a few minor details and are a bit careless with their language (which I think they probably were), they ultimately backed a conservative candidate. That editorial went above and beyond to laud praise on Pulliam and say how he's the best equipped to serve.

Why they mentioned those two particular instances, I have no idea. But I also know - from having worked as a reporter and editor at the ABH for six years in the late-1990s and early 2000s as well as knowing and having worked for the people who make up their editorial board - this isn't a question they probably put out there. As chrisishardcore noted, it's something which was probably offered to them through the course of their interviews by the candidate himself, which made such a random item stick in their heads.

And it's because it was so trivial the ABH decided to overlook it and endorse him anyway.

As far as the actual trivial detail we're bickering over, Erick I have to say that falling back on the historical timeline is a faulty way of setting up your argument. Primarily because we live in a considerably more pluralistic society with regard to religion than we did in the 1950s (let alone the 1860s). More than that, we live in a more pluralistic society with regard to religion that has the substantially more freedom and opportunity to speak out than we did in the 1950s (as is the case with most minority groups in this country).

To merely say that 60 percent of the country likes it and it was cool in the 1950s to do this is setting up a strawman because the circumstances are different. To defend 'In God We Trust' needs to come from a more substantive place methinks (and, for the record, I think we should keep it on our currrency).

Couple of things

- Wow. Nate Pulliam? I felt they'd go with James Marlow, so this is quite shocking. It's sorta like them endorsing Joe Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination. You have to wonder how this affects the race, and by that I mean if any moderate Republicans that Marlow and Jim Whitehead were fighting over would take a new look at Pulliam. Or, knowing that Athens-Clarke County is going to turn out strong for Marlow, perhaps it's an intentional effort to steer those moderate-to-conservative voters away from Whitehead. Hence this fabulous final paragraph ...

There's really not much substance in the Whitehead platform, which relies on tired bromides like the convenient shorthand that this country should fight the war on terror in Iraq so that we don't have to fight it over here. He seems over-handled, under-prepared and generally empty of solid ideas for our future.

- Also, the Athens Banner-Herald has put up a handy audio and video guide to the 10th Congressional District Candidates. Looks like it's pretty useful, but let me quibble with one minor thing ... the two presumed frontrunners, Whitehead and Marlow, appear to be the only ones with negative statements in their written summaries while the remaining candidates (including Bill Greene who could probably have several witty remarks in his if they're playing this game across the board) don't. Now, seeing how it's for a Republican and Democrat one can't say it's partisan, but it does seem to be a little unfair in my opinion.

UPDATE: Through looking at the actual bios and some conversations with folks in the know, the summaries only show the criticism by their opponents, which would explain why three candidates feature 'negative' comments as those three - Whitehead, Marlow and Paul Broun - are the presumed frontrunners. It wasn't an intentional act or form of commentary, which makes sense. I still contend it would be better to avoid the 'negative' criticism all across the board, but there is a dramatic difference between intentionally inserting this and merely restating existing opponent criticism.

- This story is ridiculous and is a small example of everything wrong with the pro-life movement, and I say this as someone who considers himself pro-life. First off, can I say how stupid it is to shout at cars whizzing by you on Highway 441? Second, it's offensive to show those images to small children (note those quoted in the story who sympathize with Kevin Whitman's beliefs, but are appalled by his tactics). Third, I don't think it's a rather effective way of ministering to folks. Fourth, way to go out a limb and go to such 'hostile' environments like Commerce, Jefferson or Hendersonville, N.C. ... is it just me, or would you bet that he's doing more harm than good since the majority of the folks in those communities probably share his beliefs and are now outraged with his actions?

- I'll have to go into this a bit later, but it's actually quite simple ... more competition equals more choices and more options for the consumer, while local governments still have the ability to negotiate and secure their public access channels. These providers understand that offering these channels are important, and I think that will be realized once this gets going. Furthermore, I don't see how this harms customer service standards. Rather than rely on the government for a fine (who does this by the way ... I always called Charter directly), the consumer now has increased options and the ability to move to a different provider (you'd be surprised how fast Charter would address my problem when I dropped the line 'well, I'm thinking about switching to the Dish ...').

- Since I'm Capt. Contrarian today, let me also say that I think Jason Winders' column on the Clarke Central school ranking raised some interesting issues, but missed the larger point of the Newsweek rankings ... which is that this particular school, which gets criticized by so many, actually does offer a strong, well-rounded academic foundation for all of its students. The problem isn't with the school's academic offerings, but with a variety of other factors which are probably more societal in their roots.

Leadership, Linder-style

Let's leave out, for a moment, the half-truths and distortions in this letter about imposing a national sales tax. Instead, I want to ask why Rep. John Linder has decided to put forward a bill proposing its implementation now when there is absolutely no chance of it passing seeing how Democrats control both chambers of Congress.

Linder had 12 years of Republican rule, including six years of his party running both the executive and legislative branches of government, in which one would assume such a vote would be greeted to a more receptive audience ... yet he puts it up for a vote now?

Yes, this surely is bold leadership.

Fruits of labor

Per a request from The Wife, here are some pictures from our work on the nursery over the weekend. Let me tell you ... hanging crown molding that has to be cut at such a sharp angle, as well as getting these columns exactly straight and exactly the same size, isn't terribly easy.

In other Mini-McGinty news, we had our first childbirth education class last night and were forced to watch 'the video.' I was ready for the actual birth aspect, but they don't really prepare you for that whole 'delivery of the placenta' thing. That kinda sneaks up on you.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Couple of things

- I think it's good that Georgia Square Mall is getting a facelift, but I think there are several other factors at work here which have kept its profits and success down. One is the fact that the newer, larger malls in Gwinnett County offer more options and better products. Another is the recent rise of stand-alone shopping centers (such as the renovations at Alps) which are taking the place of enclosed malls. Another is location as more people move closer in-town. Another is the fact that the stores in the Georgia Square Mall, quite frankly, are below average. Even the more popular ones feature smaller inventories and less selection than their Gwinnett County counterparts. So a facelift is good, but unless the actual product can offer more, I think it will continue to struggle.

- Kudos to Lewis Holloway, but that whole abrubtly leaving after the vote and refusing to speak to anyone is kinda odd. Makes you wonder how everything transpired.

- We're kinda beating a dead horse here, but I agree that it's poor of Jim Whitehead to not attend this debate either. It does make you question his abilities in some regard, particularly since his TV and online ads are fluff pieces devoid of substance and his radio campaign features an audience-insulting one featuring Larry Munson. One has to wonder how he would fair when he's confronted from the left by a strong debater like James Marlow or questioned from the right by any of the other candidates, particularly Nate Pulliam.

- As I updated in my blog links, I added the new blog by longtime reader James Garland called The Other Athens. Those who come here know that James is a strong conservative/libertarian, but he's thoughtful, sharp and kind even if I disagree with him and his ideology. But, hey, that's what makes the world great, right? I also added a couple of other links over there, including finally adding Blake.

- The Democratic challengers are lining up to take on Saxby Chambliss as we now have three in notoriously ineffective DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones, former investigative reporter Dale Cardwell and, joining this shindig yesterday, Rand Knight. As I try to resist banging my head on the table, I suppose I'll give them time to get their legs before I take a closer look.

- A plague on your houses Shannon Stewart! Still, Tim sent me a text message saying he jinxed Curt Schilling ... I'll continue to assess the situation and see who to blame for him losing his no-hitter on the final out.

- I agree with Bull Moose at Peach Pundit regarding the immigration bill.

- Through, oddly enough, a book sample that was sent to my office, I came across some works from Relevant Books, which is a progressive Christian book publisher. In particular, I was drawn to a collection of photo essays called Hope In The Dark which focuses on poverty and the AIDS epidemic in Africa. It also features a list of resources to help you get involved.