Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Couple of things

Since I'm kinda busy today ...

- Obviously, I'm disappointed that Barack Obama won't be attending the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner tomorrow night, but I not surprised. Obama holds a lead in most polling in the state and, with so many contests ahead of all the candidates on Super Tuesday, it makes more sense to campaign elsewhere. I believe Obama will win, but it's going to depend on a field operation similar to what we saw in South Carolina.

- Frankly, I'm surprised that Hillary Clinton is still coming. One would think it would be imperative to stem the momentum Obama picked up from his South Carolina win and her being here means he's got some other state all to himself for a day or so.

- Still, even though my guy won't be there, it's a great opportunity for the state party and a great stage for them as well. And it's pretty cheap now as it costs $25 to go hear the speeches by Clinton and John Edwards.

- Both Ray MacNair and David H. Hunter are off on this higher wages thing, though the latter more so than the former. While I agree and wholeheartedly support increasing wages to provide for basic living standards and to keep up with inflation, doing so is nothing more than a temporary fix because the economy always catches up. What makes a difference is education, job training and a diverse economy that offers increased opportunities across the board.

- Just when you thought it was safe to sip a Coke on Sunday afternoon ... Sunday Sales is heading back to a General Assembly near you.

Monday, January 28, 2008

For Hillary

An announcement

Though I'm sure a lot of you good folks will ask 'already?' when I tell you this, it's still worthwhile to point out. Starting today, I am a self-employed man.

I know, I know ... I was at my most current job for only a few months, but this decision has been a long time coming and isn't reflective of any one factor. Long story short, for the past couple of years I've felt a desire to test the entrepreneurial waters in Athens-Clarke County and to do so in a way that can not only utilize my skills and talents, but also enable me to do the work that means the most to me.

So, I am launching my own consulting business that will work to assist non-profits, advocacy groups and the occasional small business (or two or three or 48) with marketing, communications, strategic planning and fundraising. There's a lot of work ahead of me - and, of course, a lot of uncertainty too - but I'm as excited and optimistic as I've been in quite some time.

I've got a supportive set of parents, helpful and loyal friends, the greatest wife ever and, of course, the best baby girl in the whole world. With assets like these, I feel confident in what the future holds.

(Though if you're interested in some help, I am looking for some clients).

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The new Camelot?

There's definitely some notable symbolic elements to the endorsement of Barack Obama by Sen. Ted Kennedy and the poignant essay in his favor by Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy, but the larger point is what this brings to the Obama campaign with regard to delegates.

Ted Kennedy is arguably the statesman of the Democratic Party, and he brings considerable influence to the table. His endorsement means he's going to work his colleagues and political networks to get the superdelegates to support Obama ... because that's the real battle now. Obama has the potential to close the gap, if not win, in California, win big in the South and his home state of Illinois, and play it close enough to split delegates in the remaining states. With Kennedy on his side, as well as a coalition of red state officials, he can make a serious run at the nomination now.

In fact, with the exception of President Bill Clinton and Al Gore, there are few Democratic officials with enough internal clout as Kennedy. So, yes, symbolically this is significant, but as far as inside baseball, this is huge.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Chuck's back!

Everyone's favorite right-wing blog baiter Chuck Jones sues the Athens-Clarke County Commission over ... the noise ordinance. Apparently two students from the University of Georgia are complaining that it's not fair to be able to party loudly all night, so they've enlisted Jones's help in striking down an ordinance that is, well, accepted and employed in communities throughout the country.

So, what's the word on legality of noise ordinances? Well, a quick glance reveals that many courts say they're perfectly legal.

In New York, a challenge against its constitutionality was rejected. We find the same thing in Columbus Ohio and also in Cleveland. In the first and final instances, the courts ruled the ordinances were 'content neutral' in that they didn't discriminate against a particular type of noise.

Now, based on the article, it appears that Jones is building his argument around the level of enforcement in certain areas - a louder downtown compared to a quieter neighborhood. This appears to be the only aspect of his lawsuit where there appears to be some element of a decent argument (i.e. downtown is louder and it is louder later), but the latter part where the lawsuit claims this is a restriction on free speech seems to be a reach to me.

No one is denying someone the right to free speech, just how loud it can be. I mean, Person X can offer an opinion on topic all they want, but they can't do it in a way that is detrimental to the community at large.

I can't comprehend the rationale that the ordinance is unfair because it makes something subject to punishment that doesn't have to be reported to the authorities. Aren't all of our rules and regulations put in place so we don't have to complain about certain things? I mean, if someone punches me in the face, then they've assaulted me and I can contact the police. If I choose not to, then so be it, but it's still against the law and should be subject to a penalty. And, if I want to press charges, I don't have to approach the appropriate law enforcement officials and go above and beyond to prove that it happened. I can go say 'that dude punched me, here's my statement and my black eye' and they'll say 'that's assault' ... not 'well, thanks for that, but I don't know how to classify this thing.'

Friday, January 25, 2008

Well, yeah

As noted by some quite reputable folks in the comments in this post, there's more to the story than just a debate over language regarding the land use plan.

This, of course, makes a considerable more amount of sense.

The bestest and greatest

Granted I'm a person who values the power of words, but this seems like a rather silly waste of time, doesn't it?

I'm more concerned that we have the appropriate guidelines for growth and development in our comprehensive land use plan rather than whether or not we're 'great' or 'the best.' I hope there's more to this discussion than merely wondering how we're going to phrase a generic description of Athens-Clarke County because it doesn't make much sense to roll back the vote on this in order to sort out semantics which are pretty much unrelated to the plan itself.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The wanderer

Uh, wow.

Brian Van Gorder really enjoys moving his family all over the state of Georgia (and occasionally Florida). I used to really long for the days of his defensive schemes, but not any more.

I'll take Willie any day of the week now.

(In) Four More Years!

Though I'm definitely not ready to concede the 2008 election yet since I think Barack Obama still possesses a very plausible chance to secure the Democratic nomination (he'll need to win a plurality of states on Super Tuesday and either finish a close second in California or win it), Ross Douthat's take on the chances of an Obama run in 2012 or 2016 is most interesting.

And while his take on it is pretty good, the readers' comments are also full of those 'what-if' scenarios us political junkies love to ponder. For instance ...

- Hillary Clinton will feel considerable pressure to make Obama the vice presidential running mate, largely because of the fact that he'll be bringing an absurd number of delegates to the convention and has the type of cross-party appeal that she lacks. Of course, seeing how they don't exactly like each other that much, it would be pretty fun to watch.

- Obama, if he loses, will become the de facto top Democrat. If Clinton wins the nomination, than Obama is the go-to Congressional spokesperson. If she loses, he's automatically the front-runner in 2012.

- In fact, an Obama loss in 2008 - coupled with a Clinton loss - might the best case scenario for him a la Ronald Reagan 1976-to-1980. Reagan ran as the outsider in 1976, almost knocked off the establishment candidate, and then used the next four years to build his base of supporters and launch his successful campaign.

- But what of an independent run by Obama this year? While I strongly doubt this would actually happen, it's one that you have to ponder. Obviously, he's got cross-party appeal and has energized voters who haven't been involved in the process before. The Clinton campaign has turned off large portions of the Democratic base, many of whom will support her in the general election but do so unhappily. Based on existing polls, it's more than plausible to think that he'd be able to receive more than 70 percent of the African-American vote and more than two-thirds of the younger vote. If he did run - again, not likely at all - he'd have to be considered as the most viable independent candidate ever. He could feasibly pick up anywhere from 30 to 45 percent of the vote if he runs the right campaign.

Couple of things

- These arguments don't really serve much good, do they? That is, they're not really telling us anything we don't already know. Of course, we should evaluate this decision from all angles and of course we should get the community involved. But, from what I can gather, we are already doing that. There was a forum sponsored by an anti-NABF group just a few nights ago, and it was one in which community citizens - including experts in the field - gave compelling arguments on why it should be located in Athens-Clarke County. So kudos to our local officials for offering some sanity on this issue because this is nothing more than sensational hyperbole designed to scare people off ... largely because they don't like President Bush.

- Furthermore, citing the British company, Merial, as your shining example of 'what can go wrong' is terribly off-base. Not only is that an extreme and once-in-a-lifetime case, it's also comparing a private pharmaceutical company with a federal agency, the latter which will be under layers of additional security and subject to extensive public oversight.

- Ben Harbin goes shameless for Augusta and, apparently, never read the actual Tripp Umbrach Report which implicitly called for an expansion in Augusta. Speaking of scare tactics, all folks like Harbin are doing are spread false information designed to stir up his constituents.

- Well, I'm about done defending Jim Marshall. I mean, you might as well have a Republican in that seat if he's going to continually vote against the majority of Democratic legislation.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Calm down

I'm all for community activism and for casting a careful eye on projects like the proposed NABF, but something about AthensFAQ seems a little too disingenuous for me.

For starters, the ad is terribly misleading and, by using stock photos of random masked law enforcement officials, is only seeking to terrify the community enough to say 'no' to what is a project that deserves serious consideration.

And I'm glad to see serious people working to make sure a rationale and informed debate is held over this, rather than borderline hysterical conspiracy theories (which is why I've been bothered by Edward Hammond throughout this whole thing ... to have the audacity to directly dispute what will and will not be studied at this proposed facility, without having any inkling of factual evidence to back up his claims, is beyond irresponsible ... so kudos to Dr. Corrie Brown).

Furthermore, it seems as if Hammond is more interested in creating a fictitious environment for him to operate in. If NABF was openly stating that it was going to be investing in weaponizing, say, the Ebola virus, than arguably that would be something we should not want to come here (or practice as a country). But that isn't the case, and what Hammond is doing is trying to advance this not-backed-up-by-reality notion that type of activity could go on here ... just because he says so.

The fact that so many folks in town have somewhat bought into this is disheartening.

Listen, if you don't want to see NABF here, then that's fine. But it would seem to me that you need a better argument against it than the one that AthensFAQ and Hammond are pushing out there.

For what it's worth, much of the evidence out there seems to suggest that NABF would, on the whole, be a positive thing for Athens-Clarke County ... from a research angle and an economic angle, all the while posing minimal to no threat to the surrounding environment.


One of the observations that I feel isn't being made enough with regard to the 2008 presidential campaign on the Democratic side of things is that the recent trend of 'swing liberals' toward Hillary Clinton rather than Barack Obama, whom they firmly backed in Iowa, is that this is one of the weirder political movements I've seen in a while.

You can argue that the false narrative of Obama loving on Ronald Reagan is driving this, but it still baffles me these voters are moving to the Clinton camp. It's rather easy to argue that, based on her voting record and the triangulation efforts of her husband's presidency, that she is the least progressive candidate in the race.

Why these folks aren't flocking to the John Edwards campaign, arguably the most liberal candidate in the field, is a head-scratcher. I can only assume that this is because the Clinton brand has permeated Democratic politics so much that the average primary voter simply believes - falsely, I might add - that she is the more progressive choice.

Shamelessly lying about her opponents' comments and records probably doesn't help anything out either.

Heads up

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Worth noting

Safe to say, last night's debate was interesting, but I was glad to see Barack Obama throw an elbow or two and be able to take a few himself. Of course, I ultimately thought John Edwards came out looking the best on this whole thing, so there's that.

Still, it's nice to see some debunking of the claims from the Clinton campaign and, like Andrew Sullivan, I'm still baffled that many Democratic voters aren't comprehending the potential of an Obama presidency.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Good show

John Edwards has now confirmed to appear at The 2008 Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, joining Hillary Clinton and meaning that, to date, two of the top three candidates in the race will be appearing in Georgia just a few days before the primary. Hopefully, Barack Obama will commit in the next day or so, and I expect he will.

This is good not only because it means we're getting top Democratic candidates speaking to Georgia voters, but it's important that we don't downplay the fact that the leadership at the State Democratic Party of Georgia worked hard to make this happen. This is a big get because, rather than write off this state prior to Super Tuesday, we've recruited them to come here and make their cases in person.

It's safe to say that regardless of who the candidate is in the general election, they probably won't swing back by because, well, this is still a pretty red state. However, the DPG worked hard to get them here for the J-J Dinner, and that's quite impressive.

Nanny-nanny-boo-boo politics

Isn't this a rather dumb line of counterargument? I mean, there's absolutely no way to back it up, and it's tantamount to a type of 'I know you are, what am I' style of campaigning.

I think it's been rather well documented that the Clinton campaign has been cherrypicking quotes from Barack Obama and regularly distorting his record (which, to be fair, is what most modern-day political campaigns do). However, Obama has hit back by pointing out that the Clintons are doing just that ... and the response to that is to say 'that's a right-wing talking point.'

Uh, how? If Bill Clinton is distorting Obama's record and statements - which, again, it's rather clear that he's doing just that - than how the hell is that a talking point from any ideological persuasion? It would seem to me to be more of, well, a factual observation.

A little clarity

One of the unintentional frustrations that has emerged from the development of the New Baptist Covenant is that this is some sort of politically liberal response to the move rightward by the Southern Baptist Convention, a narrative further advanced in this Atlanta Journal-Constitution article. To buy into that line of thinking is to misunderstand the vast complexities of the rift between the SBC and the coalition of other Baptist organizations.

While it's true that you're considerably more likely to find progressive individuals in these moderate Baptist churches (case in point, yours truly), you're just as likely to find a good number of Republicans in them as well. To say that SBC values personal piety over social justice is misguided as well as most SBC churches are some of the most active in charitable efforts (though they're more likely to do so independently rather than participate in collective and interfaith efforts).

A primary reason for the split is over structure and adherence to traditional Baptist principles (priesthood of the believer, independence of local churches, historical values of separation of church and state, wariness of creeds, etc.) in that the 'moderate' Baptist churches, truth be told, resemble more of the traditional model of the Baptist church.

Or, to put it more succinctly, when I joined First Baptist Church of Athens, I asked my former pastor why they left the SBC, expecting the political answer. His response was quite simply 'well, if we had members who wanted to go to Walt Disney World, I didn't want to tell them they couldn't.'


'Where Do We Go From Here?' - Annual Report Delivered at the 11th Convention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, August 16, 1967 in Atlanta, Ga. ...

I want to say to you as I move to my conclusion, as we talk about "Where do we go from here?" that we must honestly face the fact that the movement must address itself to the question of restructuring the whole of American society. There are forty million poor people here, and one day we must ask the question, "Why are there forty million poor people in America?" And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising a question about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I'm simply saying that more and more, we've got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life's marketplace. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be raised. And you see, my friends, when you deal with this you begin to ask the question, "Who owns the oil?" You begin to ask the question, "Who owns the iron ore?" You begin to ask the question, "Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that's two-thirds water?" These are words that must be said.

Now, don't think you have me in a bind today. I'm not talking about communism. What I'm talking about is far beyond communism. My inspiration didn't come from Karl Marx; my inspiration didn't come from Engels; my inspiration didn't come from Trotsky; my inspiration didn't come from Lenin. Yes, I read Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital a long time ago, and I saw that maybe Marx didn't follow Hegel enough. He took his dialectics, but he left out his idealism and his spiritualism. And he went over to a German philosopher by the name of Feuerbach, and took his materialism and made it into a system that he called "dialectical materialism." I have to reject that.

What I'm saying to you this morning is communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social. And the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism, but in a higher synthesis. It is found in a higher synthesis that combines the truths of both. Now, when I say questioning the whole society, it means ultimately coming to see that the problem of racism, the problem of economic exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together. These are the triple evils that are interrelated.

And if you will let me be a preacher just a little bit. One day, one night, a juror came to Jesus and he wanted to know what he could do to be saved. Jesus didn't get bogged down on the kind of isolated approach of what you shouldn't do. Jesus didn't say, "Now Nicodemus, you must stop lying." He didn't say, "Nicodemus, now you must not commit adultery." He didn't say, "Now Nicodemus, you must stop cheating if you are doing that." He didn't say, "Nicodemus, you must stop drinking liquor if you are doing that excessively." He said something altogether different, because Jesus realized something basic: that if a man will lie, he will steal. And if a man will steal, he will kill. So instead of just getting bogged down on one thing, Jesus looked at him and said, "Nicodemus, you must be born again."

In other words, "Your whole structure must be changed." A nation that will keep people in slavery for 244 years will "thingify" them and make them things. And therefore, they will exploit them and poor people generally economically. And a nation that will exploit economically will have to have foreign investments and everything else, and it will have to use its military might to protect them. All of these problems are tied together.

What I'm saying today is that we must go from this convention and say, "America, you must be born again!"

And so, I conclude by saying today that we have a task, and let us go out with a divine dissatisfaction.

Let us be dissatisfied until America will no longer have a high blood pressure of creeds and an anemia of deeds.

Let us be dissatisfied until the tragic walls that separate the outer city of wealth and comfort from the inner city of poverty and despair shall be crushed by the battering rams of the forces of justice.

Let us be dissatisfied until those who live on the outskirts of hope are brought into the metropolis of daily security.

Let us be dissatisfied until slums are cast into the junk heaps of history, and every family will live in a decent, sanitary home.

Let us be dissatisfied until the dark yesterdays of segregated schools will be transformed into bright tomorrows of quality integrated education.

Let us be dissatisfied until integration is not seen as a problem but as an opportunity to participate in the beauty of diversity.

Let us be dissatisfied until men and women, however black they may be, will be judged on the basis of the content of their character, not on the basis of the color of their skin. Let us be dissatisfied.

Let us be dissatisfied until every state capitol will be housed by a governor who will do justly, who will love mercy, and who will walk humbly with his God.

Let us be dissatisfied until from every city hall, justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Let us be dissatisfied until that day when the lion and the lamb shall lie down together, and every man will sit under his own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid.

Let us be dissatisfied, and men will recognize that out of one blood God made all men to dwell upon the face of the earth.

Let us be dissatisfied until that day when nobody will shout, "White Power!" when nobody will shout, "Black Power!" but everybody will talk about God's power and human power.

And I must confess, my friends, that the road ahead will not always be smooth. There will still be rocky places of frustration and meandering points of bewilderment. There will be inevitable setbacks here and there. And there will be those moments when the buoyancy of hope will be transformed into the fatigue of despair. Our dreams will sometimes be shattered and our ethereal hopes blasted. We may again, with tear-drenched eyes, have to stand before the bier of some courageous civil rights worker whose life will be snuffed out by the dastardly acts of bloodthirsty mobs. But difficult and painful as it is , we must walk on in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future.

Couple of things

- Damned if you, damned if you don't, eh Darrell Fichtl? While I would argue that local and state officials are looking at long-term solutions to our water situation, a price-tiered system for water is a very appropriate way to approach water management on a daily basis. This would, under non-severe drought situations, permit users to water their yards (or just run their shower for hours on end), just for a higher rate if they exceed a certain level of usage. It seems like a pretty sound approach to me.

- Someone take the keys from Ben Harbin because his comments regarding museum funding are off base because, as I can attest from having actually worked at one, the bulk of the money that funds their operations come from the private sector. Most state funds handle building expansions/renovations and basic administrative costs. All other funds are raised in the private sector. Of course, aside from that, allocating a very small amount of the actual budget toward preservation of history and culture isn't a bad idea.

- Not that I really cared either way, but Brett Favre played awful and, well, just looked old out there.

- Ultimately, I agree with Josh Marshall on this, and I'm glad to see that Obama is hitting back. It arguably is troubling for an ex-president, who is considered the statesman of the party, to aggressively attack another party member - particularly over false premises and distorted statements - solely with the goal of electing his wife. It seems more petty than political, and I think that though it may get Hillary Clinton the nomination, it could do some verifiable damage to the party in the long term.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Obama speech in Atlanta


Each time I think he's delivered his best speech, he goes out and proves me wrong.

The stories that give me such hope don't happen in the spotlight. They don't happen on the presidential stage. They happen in the quiet corners of our lives. They happen in the moments we least expect. Let me give you an example of one of those stories.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organizes for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She's been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and the other day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that's when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

So Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they're supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who's been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he's there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, "I am here because of Ashley."

By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we begin. It is why the walls in that room began to crack and shake.

And if they can shake in that room, they can shake in Atlanta.

And if they can shake in Atlanta, they can shake in Georgia.

And if they can shake in Georgia, they can shake all across America. And if enough of our voices join together; we can bring those walls tumbling down. The walls of Jericho can finally come tumbling down. That is our hope - but only if we pray together, and work together, and march together.

A little more on this

Expanding a little bit on this Athens-Augusta thing that continues to cloud the MCG discussion, though the bulk of it is coming from a handful of Augusta-area legislators, it's fair to say that Rep. Ed Tarver's criticism is way off base.

For instance, Tarver told The Augusta Chronicle ...

"The Umbach Report may have been fatally flawed from its inception," Georgia Sen. Ed Tarver, D-Augusta, wrote in an e-mail. Instead of looking at whether expansion to Athens was necessary, he wrote, Mr. Umbach accepts "without question that expansion to Athens is the only solution that would address Georgia's physician shortage. The report does not address whether or not Georgia could address the anticipated (2,500) physician shortage faster and at a lower cost to taxpayers by expanding MCG's existing facilities in Augusta and by utilizing abundant currently untapped resources."

But, in fact, the Tripp Umbrach report did just that. It's that Tarver merely refuses to accept it. The report clearly notes that Georgia will need to have, at minimum, 1,200 medical students in 2020. It also notes, and no one in the Augusta delegation disputes this, that even by utilizing all of the existing hospitals in the area, MCG could only handle 900 students which is short.

As a result, with the cheaper cost of educating students in Athens-Clarke County - roughly $100,000 per student cheaper - coupled with the ability to expand not only immediately with a temporary facility, but also effectively for the long term at the Navy Supply School, this community is simply the more logical choice.

It's not a slight against Augusta, it's just an acknowledgment of the reality of the situation.

MCG Roundup

The Augusta Chronicle - absurd editorials aside - offered a nice collection of articles on the Tripp Umbrich report on the Medical College of Georgia, including a piece that Blake wrote. Of course, there's some blatant homerism in some of the pieces and Rep. Ed Tarver still seems somewhat disconnected from reality, but it's a good roundup for those interested.

'What Lies Ahead For Our MCG?'
'Regional Divide Seen In Views Of Lawmakers'
'Report Offer Bigger Plans For School At Navy Site'

Apples and oranges

There's a lot of discussion going on about the redevelopment of Jekyll Island, and I've received a couple of emails in the past few weeks, presumably because the legislative session is gearing up. Safe to say, I ultimately agree with the folks who are sending me the emails in that the proposed development by Linger Longer Properties is something which will be contrary to not only the wishes of the people of Jekyll Island, but also the stated mission of the Jekyll Island Master Plan.

The island was set aside by the state in the middle of the 20th century in an attempt to not only preserve the environment, but also provide affordable vacation options for all citizens of Georgia. The development by Linger Longer partially meets the first goal and figures to fail the second.

And, truth be told, the actual proposed development by Linger Longer isn't necessarily that bad. The problem is that it's wrong for Jekyll Island based on the master plan.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A win actually


Hillary Clinton wins the popular vote in Nevada, but Barack Obama figures to emerge as the actual winner due to a lead in the delegate count.

UPDATE: The Associated Press verifies the delegate win and, in most troubling news if it turns out to be true, allegations of voter suppression are cropping up.

On the water plan

It's not shocking that the Georgia General Assembly moved quickly to adopt a water plan, but it is somewhat discouraging they were all to eager to adopt a plan which was in dire need of revision. The selection of the Water Planning Councils, for instance, is still a terrible idea, particularly since they're structured with more of a nod toward political boundaries rather than actual river basins. Having the Governor, Lt. Governor and Speaker of the House determine who sits on those councils makes it more troubling, since it one could logically assume that those will ultimately boil to being purely political choices (as is the case with other state committees appointed by elected officials).

I was most pleased to see all three legislators with ties to Athens-Clarke County - Sen. Bill Cowsert, Rep. Doug McKillip and Rep. Keith Heard - oppose the bill, and I was most pleased to see McKillip speak out about working to 'right the ship.'

Friday, January 18, 2008

That's good to hear

In the good news category, we've reached full pool at Bear Creek Reservoir according to a release from the local government (largely due to conservation and the ability to draw water from the Middle Oconee River). We still have a precipitation deficit of 17.03 inches dating back to last year at this time, though.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

There's that

Safe to say, Hillary is right on this. Namely, it was stupid of Mark Taylor to advocate abolishing the state property tax a few years back, and it's stupid of Sonny Perdue to advocate abolishing it now.

It's a marginal amount of monetary savings ($15 to $20 for most homeowners in a year), but removes a key source of revenue from the state at a time when we already have numerous underfunded agencies, namely education (again, note Hillary's comment on the teacher gift card fiasco).

On her way

Word is that Hillary Clinton has officially confirmed to speak at the 2008 Jefferson-Jackson Dinner on Jan. 30 at the Georgia World Congress Center.

The State Democratic Party of Georgia invited all of the Democratic candidates to attend, and with Clinton's participation, and the race in Georgia so close right now between her and Barack Obama, it would seem likely that the other candidates would commit to appearing.

Here! Here!

I don't know who Dan Kervick is, but his comment in this post by Matthew Yglesias (which was a response to this ill-informed diatribe by Matt Stoller) is absolutely spot-on ...

Matt Stoller has been miffed at Obama from early on because the Obama campaign did not "reach out" sufficiently to bloggers. Matt represents the 2004 vision of the left political blogosphere leading a new progressive movement rooted in blogospheric activism and fund-raising promoted with an edgier, more sharply partisan political rhetoric.

Obama partly subverted that model by hitting on an entirely new approach: packaging progressive policy inside an optimistic unity-based national appeal, while intentionally standing off a bit from personal engagement blogospheric ranting and rancor, while still making use of its fund-raising and message-spreading abilities. Obama imbues progressive themes with an uplifting rhetoric which is helping to produce a renaissance of the progressive spirit by reminding people of the most ennobling, universal and traditionally American aspects of that spirit. The approach has been remarkably successful, as Obama's consistent out-polling of Edwards has shown. This success is, I suspect, an affront to Matt Stoller personally, because it tends to diminish somewhat the role he envisioned for himself and his own version of the progressive movement.

Perlstein doesn't really get it about Reagan. Of course it is true that Reagan's movement represented at its core a crew of of hard core, selfish, anti-government, anti-worker, pro-corporate conservatives. And it's right that that was the policy substance of the Reagan revolution. But the point is, how did Reagan sell this to the public? And in that case, there is no question that Reagan imbued this substance with a sunny and optimistic patriotic message. He created a whole class of (mainly white middle class) voters now called "Reagan Democrats" who were motivated by economic self-interest to reject the welfare state, but were also turned off by what they perceived as the cultural left's anti-Americanism, by what Agnew had called the "nattering nabobs of negativism". Probably the most memorable line from Reagan's 1980 campaign was his "there he goes again" jab at Carter which summed up the spirit of the campaign perfectly. Reagan was the original "Teflon president" because the hard-ass substance was dressed up in a sunny and bouyant optimism that made it hard for Reagan's critics to win the battle of personal charm.

If Obama can create a new coalition of "Obama Republicans", turned off by the Republican degeneration into a fractious and radicalized coalition of rabid anti-government nuts, religious fanatics preaching a gospel of ignorance and anti-American rejection of the Constitution, and out of control spendthrift war mongers, then I say great for Obama. Bring on the Obama Revolution.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Moving forward, not standing still

I talked about it some this morning, but let me say again that I'm most pleased with the aggressiveness of Georgia Democrats, particularly from the DPG and the House Caucus, when it comes to not only advancing an agenda, but also in responding to the State of the State address (which is a good idea, regardless of what party is in the Governor's Mansion).

I've been behind the curve, but Flack and Ed at Tondee's Tavern are all over it. Flack's got a nice piece up that I agree with, Ed has some post-response reaction and they've got Rep. Kathy Ashe's speech text.

While you're at it, don't forget to lend Flack a hand in his bid for the Forsyth County Commission.

That's no good


Prepare to lose all semblance of local radio.

Zero Waste

Building off of yesterday's article on the approval of the expansion of the landfill by the Oglethorpe County Commission, I have to say again that this issue really bothers me.

Again, even though the law states that governments do not have to adhere to agreements made by previous officers, the fact that both communities are so willing to ignore that agreement and forcibly seize the land held by the Steiner family is most troubling to me. But, aside from that, it also doesn't do anything to help put us on a path toward reducing our waste production and, instead, has the very real potential to simply pass the buck on to those 30 years down the road.

The Athens-Clarke County Commission is slated to talk about ramping up waste reduction efforts at its work session meeting on Feb. 12, which is a good thing. Personally, I'd like to see us work toward a goal of Zero Waste, though I do agree with Blake who said, in comparison with other communities striving toward this, it doesn't appear feasible to reach these goals in an accelerated time table (though the comparable communities are considerably larger than Athens-Clarke County, thus meaning they produce more waste than we currently do).

Moving toward Zero Waste, of course, will require not only increased individual diligence (though our response to the water crisis has been most heartening), but also increased investment in staff and resources, as well as an expansion of services.

Couple of things

- Like Flack, I think this is a good idea, and the types of ones that I want to see coming from our state Democrats, whether it's the House Caucus or a local party. It takes a surplus from the lottery and designates it toward a need which falls neatly within the general parameters of what lottery funds should benefit. Plus, it's us on the offense, which is nice.

- Likewise, a response to the State of the State speech is another step in the right direction.

- Unrelated to politics in general, how does a movie like Meet The Spartans get the green light? Jokes about The Apprentice? A gag where a Sylvester Stallone look-a-like remarks 'Say hello to my little friend' and a little person jumps out and shoots a machine gun while laughing (to say nothing about the fact that particular was uttered in Scarface and not any of the Rambo movies)?

- A price-tiered water plan is on the table, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I've never been crazy about strict market solutions to this particular problem, but I am definitely open to higher rates for water when you get past a certain, pre-determined consumption level. The latter provides for fair access of water to all citizens, while keeping in place a mechanism to deter high levels of usage (in addition to ongoing conservation efforts).

- I don't know if this is talking about a personnel decision, but Chester Sosebee denies the claims made by Tommy Craft. The former Cedar Shoals principal alleged that he wasn't kept on because he refused to appoint a relative of a school board member to a position at the high school. I found Craft's claim ludicrous as well and stand by my assertion there was probably a list of grievances that built up over time which ultimately led to his dismissal.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

On the MCG report

To some extent, Rep. Ed Tarver was right. Tripp Umbrach's Report on the Expansion of the Medical College of Georgia doesn't contain anything terribly earth-shattering, but it does feature a few things worth noting.

- One thing that frequently gets glossed over is that is rightly emphasized in the report is the collective leverage that MCG and the University of Georgia would have in securing grants and additional funding. The report estimates an increase in 15 percent, but one would have to think that their is a higher ceiling, particularly in the years following the initial investment.

- I do have some questions regarding where exactly the expansion in Augusta would occur to develop the new dental-medical joint program. All I can think of is some minimal space in an existing building on Reynolds Street near Walton Way, but any significant expansion there would remove parking space. I can't find any indication of where the growth would occur.

- The proposed 'downtown medical opportunity district' for Augusta is an interesting idea, and something obviously promoted to alleviate concerns coming from that community related to potential lost revenue.

- "In fact, Tripp Umbach concludes that due to synergies between MCG and the University of Georgia and available facilities, the cost to educate medical students at the Athens campus will be the lowest in the nation, approximately half the average per student cost for all U.S. medical schools." One would think that this, coupled with the minimal space available in Augusta, makes expansion in Athens-Clarke County the most desirable. The firm projects the operating budget per student at the UGA campus to be $100,000 to $150,000 per student, compared with $240,000 per student at the average medical school.

Growth here and everywhere

The Medical College of Georgia is recommended to expand in Athens-Clarke County, along with other places and, it should come as no shock to observers of this issue, that Augusta-area officials aren't happy.

Consider Rep. Ed Tarver ...

"I have some serious concerns about the credibility of the report," Tarver said. "It doesn't examine the credibility and validity of MCG's initial proposal (to expand in Athens). It merely adopts the almost exact verbiage and then tells us we need to appropriate a bunch of taxpayer dollars to fund it. We paid them a bunch of money to tell us what we already know."

Of course, his logic makes no sense. If he's suggesting the report 'tell(s) us what we already know' then, well, common sense would tell you that expansion in places across the state is the most viable and sound course of action.

If he's questioning the credibility of the report because, well, it simply says that it's best to expand MCG in places other than just Augusta, then he's doing nothing but shilling for the home crowd. The report, of which I'm going to try and sift through tonight, makes it pretty clear that the most viable place for expansion - keeping all factors from all sites in mind - is in Athens-Clarke County.

And, though some have tried to argue this in recent weeks, the report directly points to the fact that Georgia is facing a crunch on physicians that will only worsen over time if we don't take steps to increase our medical educational opportunities.

This shouldn't be shocking to folks since, well, it's a widely accepted fact and has been in various reports and media accounts, including the Atlanta Business Chronicle back in July 2007.

Saying one thing

Granted, I don't really have an opinion one way or another regarding the dismissal of Cedar Shoals principal Tommy Craft, but I do have some disagreement with my friend and former boss, Jason Winders, though he appears to be doing a good job of disagreeing with himself.

Of course, let's leave aside the notion that criticizing a local board of education for adhering to state law is rather odd to say the least since it would make sense to criticize the law and not the local officials, but no matter.

Jason Winders, Jan. 15, 2008 ...

Such was the case with the de facto firing of Cedar Shoals High School Principal Tommy Craft.

Last week, board members voted not to renew Craft’s contract at their regular January meeting. No board member would comment about why they decided not to retain Craft after the school year ends, citing a state law that prohibits public discussion of personnel contracts. Of course, no board member ever comments on personnel decision. That’s why controversy circulates around them constantly.

Since the decision (and continuing this morning) questions have been raging over why the board refused to renew the popular principal’s contract. Even the principal himself admits the firing was “a shock.” A chunk from this morning’s edition: I got a glowing report Dec. 12, and (Interim Superintendent James Simms) said he'd heard no negative comments about me or the direction of Cedar Shoals. Three weeks later, to hear this was quite a blow - a shock."

Listen, Tommy, you’ve been here long enough to know that nothing should shock you when it comes to this school board. And as for questions about this latest gaff, well, I gotta admit I have them as well.

Jason Winders, Dec. 4, 2004 ...

And as the hired leader of that school, it remains (Craft's) job to oversee the education of our kids on the basics and send them out into the world prepared. I think I speak for most when I say if we want to spark discussion of the changing political and religious scenes, we'll do it at home.

Got us there, Tommy?

You're not a good warrior for the Lord here. You're a principal who made a bad call.

But where's the outcry from school district officials? I mean, at what point is enough enough in this school system? See, we make the teachers of this district jump through any number of benchmarks and accountability standards, but this is allowed to fly.

... And trust me, this stuff will continue until someone stands up and demands some accountability. So don't look for it to end any time soon.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Yeah, but ...

I don't necessarily disagree with Flack regarding Override-palooza, but at the same time ... if the House Republicans want to get a petty argument about who's tougher with the Senate Republicans (and Gov. Sonny Perdue), then I really don't care.

It would be cool to see Democrats roll out a bunch of legislation that addresses the state's existing problems and keep bringing up how silly this whole episode was today, but merely because they went along for overriding a veto on, say, land annexation in Auburn doesn't terribly alarm me.

Rolling over when something like the Glenn Tax comes along, however, would be most troubling.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Worth watching

Just a moment to say that I found Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles absolutely awesome, and only marginally because it has Summer Glau of Serenity fame in it.

That is all.

It's getting stupidier

Good Lord. Robert Johnson is a moron.

First off, if you're taking a personal shot at Barack Obama's admission of drug use in high school and college, then that's amazingly absurd. If anything, Obama's frank admission of drug use - and how it was a morally stupid thing to do and how he realized it was a destructive lifestyle that only dehumanizes individuals - is refreshing, particularly in light of some folks who like to parse words and say that they 'didn't inhale.'

Second, how is it an insult to note that Obama spent more than a decade working for little to no pay as a community organizer and civil rights attorney? If anything, doesn't this bolster the argument for Obama and nullify the one that Johnson is supposedly making about Hillary Clinton? I mean, in the case of Obama, you have someone who was on the front lines actually fighting for people, while Clinton's claim of experience largely comes from the fact that, well, she was married to Bill.

A response

Barack Obama uses logic and reason to hit back at Hillary Clinton, and Dick Durbin lays the smack down on the Clintons' conduct as well.

The more I think about it, the more it makes sense that so many Democratic officials from across the ideological spectrum (Ben Nelson to Ned Lamont?) are lining up behind Obama.


To say the conduct of the Clinton campaign was disappointing would be as gross of an understatement that's been uttered in a long, long time.

Surely, the suit filed by the teacher's union against the Nevada Democratic Party is puzzling enough (particularly since this is something that increases voter participation and was overwhelmingly approved by all interested parties more than a year ago, but is only an issue now as the Culinary Union, who endorsed Obama within the past week, will benefit from the at-large caucus sites), but the weird and counterproductive racial overtones the Clinton campaign have been parroting are almost inexcusable.

Aside from the fact that it's an example of politics at its worst, it's also creating unnecessary division and strife in a community which should be embracing such a strong field of Democratic candidates.

(Rep. James) Clyburn, in an interview in The New York Times, had expressed disappointment in the Clinton campaign over what she had said as well as former President Clinton's remark in New Hampshire about Obama telling a "fairy tale" in his opposition to the Iraq war.

"I regret the way that this matter has been used," Clinton told reporters. "The comments about it are baseless and divisive. I was personally offended at the approach taken that was not only misleading but unnecessarily hurtful."

She suggested reporters consider the sources of the criticism, much of which has come from the black community.

"I think it clearly came from Senator Obama's campaign and I don't think it's the kind of debate we should be having in our campaign," she said.

Well, pardon me, but if that's not the type of debate we should be having, then don't make it. Over the past two weeks, the Clintons have run one of the most condescending campaigns toward the African-American community I've even seen.

- They've managed to downplay the accomplishments of Martin Luther King Jr., accusing Obama of stirring up 'false hopes' and then making a comparison of his actions to King and Clinton to Lyndon Johnson.

- Andrew Cuomo, one of Clinton's campaign co-chairs in New Hampshire, used racially loaded language to describe Obama's policy positions.

- Bill Clinton called Obama's a candidacy a 'fairy tale.'

- A Clinton advisor was quoted as saying "If you have a social need, you're with Hillary. If you want Obama to be your imaginary hip black friend and you're young and you have no social needs, then he's cool."

When an Obama spokesperson wisely notes that these aren't isolated incidents, but rather represent a rather depressing pattern, the Clinton campaign has the audacity to say it's Obama playing the race card? It's a disconnect from reality and an eagerness to win no matter what it takes.

It'll be interesting to see what type of effect these slash-and-burn politics will play in the general election because the more supporters of John Edwards and Obama that I speak with, the less certain they'll be willing to actively support a Clinton candidacy. This is worth considering. In Michigan, it's just Clinton's name on the ballot, and she's only polling at 56 percent. She's had overwhelming majorities of Democrats vote against her candidacy in both New Hampshire and Iowa, and the past week has revealed a steady stream of high-profile endorsements for Obama.

A bright future

Folks who have followed my blog know that I was, to put it mildly, pretty rough on Rep. Doug McKillip during the 2006 election. Hindsight, however, is 20-20, and it's safe to say there's been few elected officials over the past year or so who have so effectively proven me wrong.

McKillip has proven to be a solid legislator, albeit one going through the understandable learning curve all first-term politicians endure, and has consistently pushed not only a progressive agenda, but one which is supportive and reflective of the constituency he represents. Granted, it's been difficult to get success since it's a partisan environment controlled by Republicans, but McKillip has been diligently stubborn in advocating for a state Earned Income Tax Credit. He's emerged as an advocate for cautious development and renovation on Jekyll Island. He's one of the most responsive politicians I've encountered (and, in full fairness, so has been State Sen. Bill Cowsert).

McKillip has all the tools to become one of the state's top Democratic legislators, and I think he's faced with a rare opportunity to assert himself as a leader. His Earned Income Tax Credit plan has the real potential to become a central piece in a possible alternative tax reform plan. He has the chance to become a real voice against the Glenn Tax, particularly in a time when too few Democrats in the Georgia General Assembly aren't speaking out forcefully enough against such a wildly unpopular proposal (the exception, of course, being Virgil Flood).

In a time when we're searching for new voices, McKillip has the chance to take the lead. I'm hopeful he does.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

One in the same?

I don't really disagree with Vickie Hirsch-White regarding police pay, but she seems to go out of her way to decry any increased compensation for the mayoral position and, one would assume, the 10 elected commissioners. These are two unrelated arguments, aren't they?

I mean, it seems very plausible one could support an immediate increase in the salary of our law enforcement officials - which pays $32,00-plus - and get behind some sort of raise for the mayor. I mean, as noted here, it seems fairly obvious that the salary for mayor in this community is rather low compared to others in the state (the outlyer being Albany and its ridiculously low $8,600).

On the other hand

The more I think about it, the more this editorial bothers me.

From all indications, this appears to be an honest mistake, albeit one that arguably deserves necessary scrutiny because of the obligation of elected officials to provide open government. Still, to say this ...

He can apologize and take all the responsibility he wants, but that doesn't change the fact Oconee County Commission Chairman Melvin Davis was almost certainly trying to sneak something by the citizens whose interests he is supposed to represent in connection with a Dec. 7 meeting held in neighboring Morgan County.

... is, quite frankly, a leap of logic that I can't figure out. This directly implies that Davis deliberately mislead the people of Oconee County over a planning retreat. There was no voting going on, but just a discussion of possible future issues. In fact, nothing from the obtained emails nor the apologies offered by Davis suggest that he was trying to 'sneak something' past the people of Oconee County.

Sometimes, a mistake is just that.

Good, I think

In the 'maybe it's good news department' ... John Kerry just endorsed Barack Obama.

Yay. I guess?

UPDATE: Of course, this means little outside of Massachusetts, which packs little punch when it comes to delegates. I'd argue that the endorsement of Obama by Sen. Tim Johnson from North Dakota, a popular moderate Democrat in a red state, is more valuable and suggests that Johnson, as well as others, feel Obama would have a more positive impact on the overall Democratic ticket than Hillary Clinton (something I don't disagree with). Still, the only endorsement that truly matters would be that of Al Gore, and I think he'll probably sit out out of respect to the Clintons. Common sense, though, would dictate that he'd line up more with Obama, but I wouldn't be stunned to see him back John Edwards and make this thing really crazy.

But the standards!

This is rather interesting in light of David Hazinski's second column on bloggers and journalism standards. The Athens Banner-Herald followed up on a story broke by Lee Becker in which a work retreat for the Oconee County Commission didn't go through the proper procedure to make it public notice.

Becker, ironically enough, is a professor at the Grady College of the University of Georgia where Hazinski teaches at.

Anyway, this is interesting for a couple of reasons. On one hand, it means that Jim Thompson's editorial is, well, spot-on. Becker's blog post took research, time and effort on his part, and the result is a newsworthy find.

Second, while arguably newsworthy, I don't think it's some nefarious plot by the Oconee County Commission or Melvin Davis to shirk from public scrutiny, and I think today's editorial is a little too quick to cast judgment. Granted it should have been made public, but I do think an inadvertent mistake on Davis's part, one which is taking responsibility for, is the only thing at work here.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Couple of things

- I've gotten a couple of emails regarding this post on Hillary Clinton, and I'll agree that I was rather blunt and perhaps a tad bit harsh in it. But please note that I didn't say I wouldn't vote for Clinton if she was up against any of the existing Republican candidates in the general election, but rather that I don't really care to. Again, I think she may very well win the general election later this year, but I think she damages the Democratic Party's chances to build a governing majority, just as her husband's presidency did in the 1990s.

- On the Obama Watch front (since we actually have a race now), he picked up the endorsement of the Culinary Union, which should bode well for his chances in Nevada. Also, Shirley Franklin endorsed him today, which is rather interesting. One has to think that her reference of Martin Luther King Jr. is in direct response to the Clinton campaign's comments about the civil rights icon a few days back.

- Well, 200-plus new taxes later, The Glenn Tax is taking some shots.

- I also said Clinton's tears weren't authentic, which I still believe. And that isn't to say they don't stem from a legitimate place, but the outrage over possibly criticizing them is absolutely insane. I've seen a number of Obama supporters, particularly female supporters, indicate that they're considering Clinton now based on her crying and Jesse Jackson Jr.'s criticism. While I can understand why this is something that shouldn't be pushed as strongly as Jackson Jr. did, it's insanity to vote for Clinton over this. If you think she's the best candidate based on her vision, policy proposals, etc., then by all means back her. But to support her because you feel bad that she cried is an insult to the process.

Glenn Tax 327.0

It's ever evolving, and not in a terribly positive way.

Glenn Richardson is holding open forums on his proposal to replace property taxes with a statewide sales tax, and even after some tinkering, it's a jumbled mess that still has the same problems as the first proposal (unstable source of revenue, lack of local control, etc.).

Worthing noting, everything would be taxed under the latest version. Your ATM fees to your membership at The Omni. Those golf lessons for my daughter in a few years? Yep, they're gonna be taxed.

Listen, until you let local communities keep control of how they raise revenue and how they spend it, then this thing is a non-starter.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The real problem

Listen, I don't dislike Hillary Clinton the politician. The reality is that I have a lot more in common with her policy-wise than any of the Republican candidates. I'd pick her in a heartbeat over any of those guys.

The thing is ... I don't want to.

I do personally believe that a Barack Obama presidency would be a historic and transformative one that would have a fundamentally positive impact on our country, but let's leave that out of the picture for a moment.

I also personally believe that another Clinton presidency would ultimately embolden the Republican Party at a time in which Democrats have a rare opportunity to build a new, progressive movement to govern the country, but, again, let's leave that out of the picture too.

My problem is with, well, how she does her business.

Her campaign the past three days, without pulling any punches, has been rather despicable. It's typical of the Clinton political machine which is more about self-preservation and self-interest than considering what might be the best course of action for either the party or the nation.

I personally believe those now infamous tears shed yesterday morning, ultimately lifting her to victory, were not authentic. Perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps I'm callous. However, knowing that everything about her campaign and career is among the most calculated in the history of American politics, it's not beyond the realm of possibility that she deliberately showed such emotion because she needed something to prove to those who felt she lacked passion.

Her denigration of Martin Luther King Jr. yesterday was beyond awful for me. Her dismissal of false hope is a pathetic line of argument. Her husband complaining to the media about a couple of days of coverage of an 'Obama bounce' reeked of sour grapes.

But, most bothersome to me, is this blatantly insulting attempt to be all things to all people. She's experience ... and then she's change. She's against giving false hope ... and then she's ready to lift our spirits and unite America.

Listen to her victory speech ... it's full of lifted phrases and cliches drawn from both Obama and Edwards, inserted into her comments because they polled well for the others. And what floors me is, quite frankly, people buy into this.

I know this is harsh, and I'm aware that I could very well be accused of harboring sour grapes as well in the wake of Obama's second-place finish, but it's essential that I point out that it isn't like these are things that I just dreamed up tonight. I've been rather annoyed by her entire campaign, but I've been most disappointed with her conduct the past few days.

New Hampshire

8:42 p.m. - Safe to say that even though it's very early (just 52 of 301 precincts reporting), that Hillary Clinton has a surprising lead. It's somewhat staggering to me that anyone in the party could vote for her, but she's got roughly 2,000 more votes right now.

8:45 p.m. - A reader at Talking Points Memo notes that it's possible some Democrats switched to backing Clinton to reject a media narrative that Democrats were rejecting the Clintons. If that's a reason some have, I'd argue that's a rather stupid reason to back a particular candidate. For me, aside from the obvious appeal that Obama has an agent of change, part of my vote is a rejection of the Clintons' influence in the party.

8:55 p.m. - I have to note, and this will upset some John Edwards backers, but it seems apparent that having two candidates offering a similar message, representing the 'change' element of the election season, is detrimental to the overall 'change' cause. Granted, I do like Edwards, but it seems evident that his path to the nomination is not necessarily impossible, but a long-shot at best. Based on his defense of Obama during Saturday's debate, one would have to think that eventually he'll come to the conclusion that backing another candidate of change rather than dividing the support is more beneficial to the overall cause.

9:02 p.m. - I'm even more puzzled in light of these exit poll numbers.

9:24 p.m. - Apparently, the Clinton strongholds are in, while Obama's are mostly out. He's pulled within two percent (less than 2,000 votes).

9:27 p.m. - Hanover is still out, where Dartmouth is, and they had 6,000 votes cast, which is 2,000 more than the Clinton campaign expected. Also, the Culinary Union is expected to endorse Obama, which is a boost in Nevada.

9:41 p.m. - It'll be crass, but I think it's fairly obvious that Clinton crying yesterday morning, and the resulting criticism of it by the media and Edwards, ultimately swung a large number of women back into her camp. It's fairly ridiculous to base a vote on that, but I think it's true.

9:54 p.m. - In addition to the more progressive northern end of the state, Hanover and Durham, two communities which saw higher than expected turnout, have not turned in any votes yet. Both are Obama strongholds. Related to that, the returns to date are in line with the final University of New Hampshire poll.

10:14 p.m. - Good Lord. Leading off with a mill worker reference Elizabeth Edwards? Kudos for enabling the Clinton Machine to live one more day.

10:15 p.m. - Or, as Tim puts it, 'Edwards is to mills what Rudy is to 9/11.'

10:21 p.m. - Jerome at MYDD calls it for Clinton, which I don't disagree with. Winning Nevada and South Carolina are imperative now and still very probable because she just got a new life heading into Super Tuesday.

10:26 p.m. - Yeah, looking at this, even with the Obama strongholds not reporting, I find it hard to believe he can make up what is now a 5,000-vote deficit (and the Associated Press is calling it for her). Needless to say, this is rather disappointing. Still, it's important to understand that this is a marathon in the grand scheme of things. He's got a strong lead in South Carolina and figures to win in Nevada, but it's back to being an uphill road.

10:48 p.m. - It's Clinton. I still contend 'The Tears' got her the women vote, which she lost to Obama in Iowa, and that, coupled with a strong showing in Manchester, propelled her to a win. Next to that, again, I point to Edwards opting to stay in the race. It's 34,000-plus votes that, one has to figure, would break for Obama in overwhelming numbers and give him a comfortable win.

Worth noting

So, Gov. Sonny Perdue, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Rep. Glenn Richardson are going to hold a 'fly-around' where they visit several cities in Georgia in a day-long blitz to preview citizens about the upcoming Georgia General Assembly.

Guess where they're not coming? Could it be a certain college town with a Democratic bent? Perhaps the first one that complied with the governor's water reduction mandate?

Shocking, I know.

Look both ways

Adrian's got an interesting post that deals with some conversations with some UGA Police Officers involving increased enforcement along Sanford and Baldwin. The officers are working to target pedestrians who jaywalk or, more accurately I suppose, walk out into the road when the light is green rather than red.

Adrian notes, and I agree, that this intersection, which is easily one of the most traversed on campus and is frequently overflowing with students who spill out into the street regardless of the signal, is in dire need of a light that doesn't require one to push a button to get a walk signal.

What would be ideal would be the type of signal that exists through downtown Athens-Clarke County where the pedestrian is given a running clock of how long they have before their signal ends. Of course, this type of timed signal is what we should start employing at all of our major intersections, and I think installing those along the Prince Avenue corridor, particularly near The Bottleworks and Go Bar, would dramatically improve the perception and reality of pedestrian safety.

Two feet on the ground

Apparently, Dale Cardwell has spread the good news because, after only a week, he's decided to come down.

Arguably the dumbest political stunt not named 'The Glenn Tax' in a good, long while and, in the world of Georgia politics, that's saying something.

Monday, January 07, 2008

What's wrong with dreaming?

Our church has been going through a rather significant change the past few months. Bill Ross, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Athens, moved on to a new calling in Marietta back in August and since then we've had a litany of guest pastors take the pulpit on Sunday morning, holding the place until we name an interim pastor and then, finally, a new head pastor.

Largely because of the birth of our daughter, The Wife and I haven't attended many 11 a.m. services like we traditionally do, but another reason is because we haven't felt particularly inspired to go because we were so closely attached to Ross, who was the pastor who helped convince us to find a home at First Baptist. But, eager to shake those cobwebs and get back in the habit of going to church, we got the kid dressed and ready and actually got in the pew on time.

And what a treat it was. This past Sunday, we were fortunate enough to hear from Dock Hollingsworth who spoke about the creation story in Genesis (a rather odd topic seeing how it was Epiphany Sunday, but no matter). The sermon was solid and interesting, and I enjoyed it. But something stood out to me from his message.

Hollingsworth read the first three chapters of Genesis in their entirety, noting the different elements of God's creating came into being via Him speaking ... that the world we know is here because of words. Coming the night after debates in New Hampshire, a politically progressive Christian like myself can't help but recognize the obvious.

Now, don't misunderstand me. I'm not trying to draw some false parallel here, nor am I suggesting that Barack Obama is the second coming, but I do want to stress that this particular detail from this sermon - whether taken literally or as an analogy - gives weight to the belief that there are power in words.

Obama noted this in an interview this morning as he said that change and empowerment begins with articulating what your hopes and dreams are.

I don't read The Huffington Post a whole lot, but I found her take on this pretty dead-on ...

... Clinton is actually trying to convince voters that Obama is too positive, too optimistic, too inspirational. In a speech she called him "an untested man who offers false hope," and in Saturday's debate she said, "We don't need to be raising the false hopes of our country about what can be delivered."

Oh, yeah, that's the last thing we need, someone who actually seeks to inspire Americans to allow their reach to exceed their grasp. That's the problem with leaders like Lincoln, Kennedy, and Martin Luther King -- they just weren't realistic enough. King shouldn't have said, "I have a dream!," he should have said, "I have a realistic view of what we should settle for! We probably won't be able to pass the Civil Rights Act, but we might be able to pass a bill condemning segregated water fountains. You probably won't be able to sit at the front of the bus, but I might be able to get you to the middle."

This is who Hillary Clinton is, through and through. "I have always tried to strike a balance," she said in 2004. "I think you have to view the world as it is, not as you would wish it to be." That's a long, dispiriting way from Bobby Kennedy's "Some men see things as they are and ask, 'Why?' I dream of things that never were and ask, 'Why not?'"

Words inspire. Words motivate. Words matter.

If they didn't, Clinton wouldn't be so concerned.

Odd comparisons for all!


We're just throwing everything against the wall and seeing what'll stick, aren't we?

Hillary Clinton says she's Lyndon Johnson to Barack Obama's Martin Luther King Jr.

Yep. I still know which figure I'd pick.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Couple of things

- The New Hampshire debates were interesting last night, though I must add it's hard to not believe there isn't some underlying narrative existing in the national political media that desires a Hillary Clinton nomination rather than a Barack Obama one. Why? Because all of the wire headlines, and resulting headlines on sites like MSNBC, read something to the effect of 'Clinton accuses Obama of flip-flop.' It makes you even wonder if these reporters actually watched the debate seeing how the accusation was made early, lasted less than five minutes and was immediately rebuffed by Obama (and John Edwards to some extent, though he would come to Obama's defense on a more substantial note later in the debate).

- In fact Obama's response to her accusation centered on health care, and to some extent over funding the War in Iraq (though she's been considerably more inconsistent in her positions on the war, but that's another matter), but his health care answered absolutely leveled her. He stressed they had a philosophical disagreement, which is acceptable, but that what she was attempting to do was play politics and misrepresent his position (she accused him of being against mandates, but supporting them now because his plan calls for mandated coverage for children ... something which has been an element of his plan since the beginning). Of course, I would have said she was flat-out lying, but he handled it with considerable more grace and poise (also, either he or Edwards should level her on the experience argument, particularly since she looks silly touting her experience of 35 years sitting next to Bill Richardson).

- I actually thought Edwards performed the best out of all the candidates, and I only heard him mention his father twice (easily the most famous mill worker in the history of America). He went to bat for Obama and was able to serve as the latter's attack dog against Hillary, which helped keep the former above the fray.

- His best part of the night, actually, came in response to Charles Gibson's question regarding if anyone really could bring change. Obama used this moment to point out that Clinton's ticking off of things she had accomplished was good, but that discounting the power of rhetoric was silly.

- The GOP debate was more contentious I thought, ranging from the shouting match over Ron Paul daring to disagree with the party line on Iraq to Fred Thompson cracking one-liners under his breath throughout the night.

- Of course, I particularly loved Mitt Romney being hammered by all of them and then having the audacity to request, repeatedly, that everyone stay positive.

- OK, here's the problem with this ... this woman from Phoenix is basing her opinions on our community via a blog post and column that were, in my opinion, somewhat sensationalizing a handful of unfortunate events. This isn't to say we don't have serious challenges facing us, but it's also misleading to paint this picture of Athens-Clarke County as a crime-ridden magnet of the downtrodden.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Obama's speech

Again, arguably one of his best ...

Years from now, you’ll look back and say that this was the moment – this was the place – where America remembered what it means to hope.

For many months, we’ve been teased and even derided for talking about hope.

But we always knew that hope is not blind optimism. It’s not ignoring the enormity of the task ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. It’s not sitting on the sidelines or shrinking from a fight. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, and work for it, and fight for it.

On the air

I'll make a brief appearance on 'The Tim Bryant Show' today at 9:50 a.m., though there will be no Tim Bryant this morning. Conservative columnist and blogger Jeff Emanuel is hosting in his place, and I'll talk a bit about the Iowa caucuses.

UPDATE: Note move to the 9:50 a.m. slot.

Voting for Darius

From the mailbag ...

Voting in the Volvo For Life Contest ends on January 7. If Darius makes it to the next level, $25,000 goes to research for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Please vote as often as you can between now and the deadline. And tell everyone you know to do the same.

You can vote as often as once a minute, you don't have to register, and there are no pop-up windows. Here's the link:


Click on the "Quality" category, then scroll down, and he's the last one in the right-hand column.

With your help, we can win this!!!


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Obama wins!

That's what I'm talking about.

So, what does this mean? It means it's a good first step, and the second step is promising.

In Iowa, Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton head-to-head when it came to the issues, particularly on health care which is very promising since New Hampshire voters are very open to his opposition to mandated coverage. It's also promising that he garnered 41 percent of the independent vote, which made up 20 percent of the total Democratic vote. In New Hampshire, that number figures to be between 40 and 50 percent.

The next thing is to build on this momentum and wrap up the support of Joe Biden and Bill Richardson, the latter of whom (maybe) made a deal to release his supporters to Obama. What John Edwards does next is most interesting as he's out of money and is a solid third in both South Carolina and New Hampshire, but if he swung his support behind Obama this train could really start rolling.

And, from the folks I've talked to, most Edwards backers I know list Obama as their second choice.

UPDATE: Wow. Edwards's is staying in and seemed content in turning his concession speech into a Hallmark card, albeit an angry, populist one. Clinton's speech was one of the more puzzling as she recognized that voters want change, but tried to spin it as an affirmation of her candidacy. Of course, if folks want change, then it's hard to run as the experienced candidate who is the wife of a president just removed from office by eight years. Of course she also lost by nine points to Obama and had her candidacy rejected by 71 percent of Iowa caucus-goers, so there's that.

UPDATE TWO: Both Christopher Dodd and Joe Biden are out.

UPDATE THREE: It's safe to say that Obama's victory speech is nothing short of incredible, and that it begins to crystalize that he's not merely running a campaign, but is working to build a movement that transcends politics and ideology. It makes even the most cynical believe.

Iowa Caucuses

7:52 p.m. - And the madness is beginning (and by 'madness' I mean watching a panel featuring Pat Buchanan and Eugene Robinson that's moderated by Chris Matthews ... hence why I'll probably watch CNN for coverage).

7:58 p.m. - The Wife justs asks me if I can stand watching the four hours of coverage, to which I say 'it's like Christmas for me' ... and there's a bowl game on too!

8:05 p.m. - And the caucuses are underway. Democratic activists are about to shuffle around!

8:07 p.m. - The 'entrance polls' by CNN have Obama and Clinton in a tight race, which isn't terribly shocking.

8:09 p.m. - Kudos to CNN so we can see inside a caucus. It's odd - very odd - but somewhat fascinating. It's not an awful way to choose a president, but it's definitely flawed when in comparison with the rest of the states which host primaries.

8:14 p.m. - Thinking about this some more, even though it may ultimately benefit Obama, how ridiculous is it that Democrats get to put down a second choice? I mean, that's the equivalent of granting a second vote, which doesn't seem very fair to me. If nothing else, it seems to present an odd ethical situation, does it not?

8:16 p.m. - Brilliant reporting on CNN ... 'Republicans can caucus with Democrats!' Uh, they can also vote for them in the primaries.

8:20 p.m. - On the Republican side, CNN says that most of their caucus-goers have illegal immigration as their top issue. Am I the only one who isn't shocked by this, but then again ... shouldn't we be? I mean, Iowa is 94.9 percent white. It isn't like illegal immigrants from Latin American countries are having a direct impact on them.

8:23 p.m. - Two percent are in! Edwards up with 42 percent ... or, in real numbers, 19 people.

8:25 p.m. - Most entertaining - and true - post I've come across so far is, oddly enough, by Kos on the media and Clinton.

8:34 p.m. - Donna Brazile sounds an awful lot like Charles Barkley. 'This poll, that's turr-ible.'

8:39 p.m. - The Iowa Democratic Party web site has, with 237 of 1,781 precincts reporting, Edwards at 34 percent, Clinton at 32 percent and Obama at 31 percent.

8:46 p.m. - with 367 of 1,781 precincts reporting, it's a three-way tie ...Edwards at 33 percent and Obama and Clinton both at 32 percent.

8:52 p.m. - With 503 of 1,781 precincts reporting, Edwards, Obama and Clinton are knotted at 32 percent.

8:53 p.m. - Kansas is beating Virginia Tech 7-0 and playing very well. Quite stunning, particularly since I've got a whopping $5 on the Hokies covering the spread.

8:55 p.m. - Well, that's early CNN ... they call Iowa for Huckabee.

8:58 p.m. - Proving their petty as well as blatant liars, the Romney campaign has a source call Huckabee's win as meaningless as Pat Robertson's back in the 1980s.

9:00 p.m. - With 687 of 1,781 precincts reporting, Obama has a slim lead ... 33 percent to dueling 31 percents for Edwards and Clinton. Roll on Barack!

9:05 p.m. - With 835 of 1,781 precincts reporting, Obama has moved to 34 percent, while Edwards is at 32 percent and Clinton stays at 31 percent. Buried in the ABC live blog is that the projected turnout is 207,000, which is high and favors Obama they say.

9:10 p.m. - Mike Duncan, Republican National Committee Chairman = Most Delusional Man in America

9:12 p.m. - With 1,000 of 1,781 precincts reporting, Obama is at 35 percent, Edwards at 32 percent and Clinton at 31 percent.

9:16 p.m. - With 1,108 of 1,781 precincts reporting, Obama stays at 35 percent with both Edwards and Clinton at 31 percent.

9:21 p.m. - Ron Paul coming in with 10 percent right now with 40 percent reporting on the Republican side, which is rather impressive for an anti-war Republican who is conservative in a vein that today's Republicans aren't. And, can the networks do anything more to declare this a win for John McCain?

9:26 p.m. - Woo-hoo! Obama projected by CNN!

Best of luck

Lots of well wishes to a good friend of Safe As Houses as fellow blogger Jon Flack decides to run for county commissioner in Forsyth County.

Flack's good people, and let's wish him well. He'd probably appreciate a check too if you're interested.

Also ... they have county-wide voting for the commissioners, which seems kinda silly to me.

Couple of things

- Being the political animal that I am, it's not shocking that I'm very much obsessed with the Iowa caucuses today, even more so given my strong support for Barack Obama. It's a three-way tie in Iowa, with second-tier support figuring to help break the stalemate. Dennis Kucinich instructed his supporters to be released to Obama where needed, while rumors indicated that both Joe Biden and Bill Richardson might be telling their backers to do the same thing, which would be a big coup for the Illinois senator. The question is what the John Edwards supporters do since, obviously, he wants to knock out Obama in an attempt to consolidate the 'Not-Hillary' vote. So, even though he shares more in common with him, it's likely his folks will back Hillary Clinton. Should be interesting.

- Safe to say, I'll be doing some blogging tonight.

- Also, let me know who you like in those early primaries.

- The landfill's gonna get bigger, and let me tip my hat to both Elton Dodson and Kelly Girzt who opposed the expansion, favoring instead to work with the residents and expand the recycling program. I've noted my unease with this expansion, and I would have voted against expansion for a variety of reasons (one being that it seems rather silly of us to vote to enter into an agreement with a neighboring county to dump our trash in their community without them having officially voted to do so). I recognize that there are few, if any, alternatives, but this just doesn't feel right to me.

- Oconee County is about to hop aboard the 'let us keep our water' train, that Athens-Clarke County is already riding on. Again, another power grab by the Georgia General Assembly and another attempt to tear local control away from community, and this would have a negative impact on downstream communities by granting the state the ability to transfer water from river basins to other areas in the state (i.e. Atlanta). Why would should attempt to reward Atlanta for unwise and reckless growth and mismanagement of resources is beyond me, but it's even more stunning that we want to strip more control away from our local communities.

- Expectations are high, which may not be a good thing based on the 2008 schedule. If we could have this team in place for 2009, I'd already book my hotel room for the title game. But it's hard to envision Georgia getting through that tough slate unblemished.

- Though a ton of folks have poked fun at him already, let me join in the chorus of insults against Dale Cardwell, who has climbed atop a pole in Atlanta and promises to stay there until we all hear his voice. Of course, it's ridiculous, but then again so is Cardwell. He's got a webcam here and Creative Loafing is keeping tabs on the stunt.

Caucus time

The 2008 presidential race really gets going tonight with the incredibly confusing and weird tradition of the Iowa caucuses. Y'all got some thoughts on the top three on each side?



1. John Edwards
2. Barack Obama
3. Hillary Clinton

New Hampshire
1. Barack Obama
2. Hillary Clinton
3. John Edwards

South Carolina
1. Barack Obama
2. Hillary Clinton
3. John Edwards



1. Mike Huckabee
2. Mitt Romney
3. John McCain

New Hampshire
1. John McCain
2. Mitt Romney
3. Mike Huckabee

South Carolina
1. Mike Huckabee
2. John McCain
3. Mitt Romney