Friday, February 29, 2008

Music for the moment

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Odd primary challenges

Are few things more laughable than Markel Hutchins's challenge against Rep. John Lewis? Not only is he running against one of the most revered and respected men in the state of Georgia, but he's trying to do so by claiming Lewis is part of the 'establishment' who receives tons of special interest money. That makes no sense on a variety of levels.

Yesterday, he criticized Lewis for switching his support from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama, claiming it was done out of opportunism (though Hutchins had been arguing that Lewis was ignoring the wishes of his constituents in not supporting Obama) which, of course, is a pretty dumb line of attack.

So who is Hutchins?

His Wikipedia entry claims that folks refer to him as the next Martin Luther King Jr., though it offers zero references to back that claim up. Even more amusing is his campaign declaration speech which, aside from the numerous typos, includes a quote from rapper Bonecrusher.

Happy Birthday to me

Toward the end of my grantwriting class on Tuesday, I looked at the woman sitting next to me and said that come next week I would have to check an entirely different age demographic list.

And that's because today I turn 30 years old (and, I'm not making this up, but I legitimately forgot that today was my birthday when I woke up). Of course, it doesn't promise to be that exciting see how I'm behind on some work projects and my daughter is home for the third straight day with an ear infection (her fourth in two months meaning we're probably on our way to getting some ear tubes).

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

That's true

I don't much about Paul Haver, and we may not agree on anything else, but he's dead on regarding NABF ...

NBAF needs to be where the plant and animal experts are, and that's the University of Georgia and its College of Veterinary Medicine. It can and will be a safe facility, and it would be good for the local economy. I hope our elected leaders remember that 200 noisy activists don't necessarily represent the 200,000 people living around here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Peering at hope

As readers of my blog know, I'm about as emotionally invested in the prospect of a Barack Obama presidency as anyone in this community. I've contributed more money to his campaign than to any other campaign in my lifetime. I've knocked on doors on his behalf. I've defended him on this blog. I've talked about his vision for the country with complete strangers. And, as we near the firewall states of Ohio and Texas for Hillary Clinton, with the nomination in sight, I'm as optimistic about the state of our discourse as I've been in quite a while.

And it's not just because Obama, like me, sheds ideology in lieu of pragmatic solutions to our challenges, but that we've also been given a Republican opponent in John McCain who I disagree with, but respect because he, too, sometimes says that the way campaigns have been waged in the past are wrong.

Not only do they represent completely different worldviews that deserve to be debated and discussed on the national level, but they also are two honest individuals who were our best chances in this election to hold such a debate.

This campaign will get ugly. If the nominee, Obama's going to be attacked for all sorts of foolish things, and McCain will face off-base scrutiny as well. They are, however, the only two candidates who can help raise the level of conversation in this country.

And that's a good thing.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

And then you've got this guy

Speaking of self-serving egos, Ralph Nader's back. I'd like for him to go ahead and admit that he draws a check from the Republican National Committee because that's the only that makes sense anymore.

Someone wants attention

Granted we've been having a rather civil discussion regarding OneAthens over here, but then again you've got folks like Donald Chapman who pretend like there isn't a problem at all.

Chapman, who has launched a new 'think tank' called Sensible Athens, has put on his tin foil hat and claims that poverty isn't that big of a deal in our neck of the woods because the statistics are inflated (apparently for some nefarious reason too). Through some odd rationale, he claims that because a portion of our labor force lives in Madison County and Oconee County, we must include them in our poverty survey.

Two absolute problems with his findings ...

First, a 21.8 percent poverty rate is still dramatically higher than the state average.

Second, he concedes that close to 1/3 of the population in Athens-Clarke Counthy lives below the federal poverty threshold, but apparently because poverty rates are lower in the neighboring counties we shouldn't bother.

Now, who is Donald Chapman? Well, that's a damn fine question. I've asked around to several folks from both sides of the political aisle, those affiliated with the Univesity of Georgia and those who work in the public sector, those who favor expanded public services to the poor and those who favor market-based solutions ... and no one knows this guy.

The only Donald Chapman I can find is a guy who lives in Lawrenceville and works for UGA in an unspecified capacity, so I can't verify if he's the guy or not. Regardless, Chapman for some reason wants to sabotage the very fact that we're talking about poverty in our community. Why he wants to do this, who knows?

But I do this - his organization is a sham that exists to satisfy his own ego and it's not better than the falsehoods peddled by the non-defunct Sunshine Project.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ah, yes ... my leadership

It's getting old

Granted most of Hillary Clinton's campaign has been puzzling to me, but I don't see how throwing a temper tantrum is going to do anything.

For starters, Clinton has long blasted Barack Obama for only being for words and not actions or issues. So, when Obama sends out campaign literature that contrasts his position with hers on health care and NAFTA, Clinton gets all up in arms and says he's misrepresenting her. Well, for one thing, all campaigns misrepresent each other since they're trying to win elections. Also, Clinton did support NAFTA in the 1990s and now, all of a sudden, she's against it (oddly enough as she's striving for votes in Ohio and Texas), plus she's on record saying she'd forcibly take wages from low-income workers to cover her health care plan so acting as if you never said that is silly.

Second, it's a more than a bit disingenuous to sit on the stage in Austin, Texas, and shake Obama's hand and say it's an honor to be running against him and then, just a day and a half later, get all huffy and say 'shame on you Barack Obama' ... over campaign literature which has been circulating for three months.

Third, after you've been misrepresenting Obama's health care plan for more than four months now, it's pathetic to come out and, when he pushes back with criticism of your plan, say that he's attacking the concept of universal health care with 'Republican tactics.' Well, not really brainiac. He's disagreeing with your plan and relying on language you've used in the past to do so.

Though Obama has repeatedly explained his health care plan at each debate since January, Clinton refuses to acknowledge the fact that their end goal is the same, but they're opting for different means to reach it (and I think Obama's plan is fairer and offers a more realistic and pragmatic plan to achieve universal coverage). Instead Clinton keeps saying his plan isn't universal health care and that any criticism of her plan is off-limits.

The sad thing about this little charade - and that's all this is, a calculated stunt to garner votes - is that it will probably work for some swing voters. Since her emotional appeal at the end of the Texas debate was viewed as more of a concession than a plea, she decided to go nasty. Whatever.

Every time I sit there and think that I could get excited about a Clinton candidacy, something ridiculous like this happens. More stunts like this, and I'll be writing in Obama if she's the nominee.

Can we drop this please?

Ray MacNair is back on the editorial page, this time refuting Archie Carroll's column against the living wage. It's the same one-trick pony from MacNair, though at least he put some thought into this one.

While I do agree that higher wages can lead to additional revenue flowing into the economy, again, it's only a temporary fix. Why? Because it hasn't done anything to increase the skill sets of those workers receiving those higher wages, thus meaning they stay in the same position which, when the economy corrects itself, puts us right back where we started.

Of course, I thought Carroll's column went too far as well because, as a rational individual, I happen to believe there must be a middle ground that ensures workers are compensated in a way that doesn't perpetuate their poverty, but also leaves ample room for increased pay with increased work performance. And it seems to me that most businesses outside of the service industry understand this concept.

Not a good idea

Friday, February 22, 2008

The discussion continues

Well, damn.

Blake does some high quality work regarding NABF, and elicts a lengthy comment from Athens-Clarke County District 10 Commissioner Elton Dodson that's also worth reading.

That post, and Dodson's comment, help reaffirm something that I've been wondering for quite some time now ... and that's whether or not the existing progressive power structure in town is splintering. It's quite clear some division is going on right now, and that's worth keeping an eye on. There were some disagreements over the Comprehensive Land Use Plan and the role of the citizen committee, and this NABF thing has blown the lid off the whole thing.

Dodson, even in his comment, hinted that he only had 10 months left in office, which makes me wonder whether or not he might seek re-election.

So much for that

Folks were talking about Hillary Clinton's closing statement, as well as her 'Xerox' line from last night's debate. The funny thing is that, well, she's guilty of the same silly thing she's accusing Barack Obama of ...

Hillary Clinton (last night): You know, the hits I’ve taken in life are nothing compared to what goes on every single day in the lives of people across our country.

Bill Clinton (1992): The hits that I took in this election are nothing compared to the hits the people of this state and this country have been taking for a long time.

The non-profit world

Since Nicki and I are having an interesting discussion over non-profits and OneAthens, I figured I'd offer a response to her latest comment. I think these types of discussions are good for us to have as we evaluate the role of OneAthens and the concerns I have regarding how non-profit agencies will be impacted as it gets rolling.

Long before Athens-Clarke County decided to address poverty - or the United States government decided to as well - folks from different faith backgrounds were active in alleviating the suffering and despair that gripped too many people in this world. Likewise, concerned and compassionate individuals from religious and non-religious backgrounds got their hands dirty by feeding the hungry, sheltering the poor and taking care of the sick.

Again, while I don't think anyone would dispute that a more concerted and coordinated effort to address poverty is a laudable and appropriate thing to do, to suggest such coordinator isn't going on isn't accurate. The Homeless Coalition is a band of area non-profits that work together to complement each other and share ideas. The new ARCH group features five area non-profits that will partner together to provide comprehensive services to low-income citizens. The folks with HED regularly share resources and referrals to a variety of non-profits across our community. And new non-profits, like The Stable Foundation, plan to offer expanded services to existing agencies in an attempt to better serve their clients.

If we want to support, expand and enhance our existing agencies who have been engaged in this fight for quite some time, that's one thing. However, if we want to set up a completely different entity that is competing with the very folks who have been addressing this issue for years, then I'll have a hard time supporting that notion.

Please don't misunderstand me. I believe OneAthens has tremendous potential ... if it's deployed in the proper way - working to enact policy, improving coordination and communication, serving as a community-wide voice for the less fortunate, opening the eyes of folks who, for too long, cast a blind eye to the plight of the poor, etc. and etc. Again, don't get me wrong, I'm clearly more pro-OneAthens than anti-OneAthens, but I think it's reasonable to express some legitimate concerns about its impact on the existing infrastructure we have in place.

A lot of folks have pointed out to me that because we have a high poverty rate, our non-profits must be inefficient and not serving everyone. Well, yes and no. We clearly do have a good number of inefficient non-profits in our town that exist only to better their staff and funders rather than truly help people in need, while others just suffer from poor management and a lack of funding.

But there are great success stories in town. I believe IHN of Athens is one of them, and so is AIDS Athens and the Athens Area Homeless Shelter and The Mercy Clinic and Community Connection and Samaritan Counseling and so on. These, and others, are agencies which operate on tight budgets with small staffs and minimal resources, but, proportionally, provide a considerable amount of benefit in our community. I would much rather view their successes as models for how we should go about attacking poverty and look to find ways to support them and build on their framework.

Is some of this 'turf war' discussion, where non-profits don't wish to cede their territory to others? Well, for some, I'm quite sure it is. And, speaking as the board president of one of these agencies, I'd be lying if I didn't suggest that some of my first reactions revolve around 'how is this going to impact us?' That's human nature, and I don't think it's necessarily wrong. But again, my larger concern is alleviating poverty, and if that means IHN of Athens shuts its doors because the mission is being accomplished, then that's something I celebrate.

The larger concern, based on what I've heard from some folks, isn't turf war though, but rather a legitimate concern that some of these tried-and-true models for helping folks might either get cast by the wayside or be shut down because what few funds still exist start getting shuttled over to OneAthens or other agencies. Fighting for donations and grants is difficult, as I can attest from my professional work and my charitable work, and that's worth keeping in mind.

Listen, again, I'm not down on OneAthens. It's a remarkable community-wide effort to address poverty in Athens-Clarke County, and it deserves our support. But it also deserves some well-intentioned scrutiny to make sure that the best solutions are being put forward.

Music for the moment

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Debate recap

Arguably, this was Barack Obama's best debate. He had nuanced answers to all of the questions posed to him, shied away from engaging in personal or negative attacks and was very cordial to Hillary Clinton both in his debate style and his responses.

Of course, he did smack her down quite well too ...

CLINTON: I have to confess, I was somewhat amused the other night when on one of the TV shows, one of Senator Obama’s supporters was asked to name one accomplishment of Senator Obama. And he couldn’t. So I know that there are comparisons and contrasts to be drawn between us. And it’s important that voters get that information. So yes, I do think that words are important, and words matter. But actions speak louder than words.

OBAMA: Well I think actions do speak louder than words, which is why, over the 20 years of my public service, I have acted a lot to provide health care to people who didn’t have it, to provide tax breaks to families that needed it. To reform a criminal justice system that had resulted in wrongful convictions, to open up our government and to pass the toughest ethics reform legislation since Watergate, to make sure that we create transparency in our government so that we know where federal spending is going.

You know, I think if you talk those wounded warriors at Walter Reed, who prior to me getting to the Senate were having to pay for their meals, and have to pay for their phone calls after their family while they’re recovering from amputations, I think they’d say that I’ve engaged not just in talk but in action.

My mind works this way

I'm taking a grantwriting class for the next few weeks, and we were going over some 'dos and don'ts' for writing in my most recent one. One of the things to avoid, our instructor told us, was the use of rhetorical questions.

I laughed out loud and, for no real reason, said 'Hey, who's the medieval barber here?'

Only the teacher and, oddly enough, the 24-year-old in my class got the reference.

Spiraling downward

This is an interesting commentary on the campaign struggles of Hillary Clinton, which echo the concerns I've had for quite some time ...

In her speech tonight, Clinton launched her broadside against Obama by saying that "while words matter, the best words in the world aren't enough unless you match them with action." The problem for her is that Obama has matched his words with actions, fulfilled his promises with votes. It's her campaign that rests on an increasingly precarious foundation of words and that needs to demonstrate results to match its rhetoric.

Glad you asked

I'm here to help Scott Anderson ...

If you focus on the high-tech, speciality jobs that NABF will be bringing in then, yes, that will have a minimal impact directly on poverty. However, NABF will need a variety of other jobs done that include entry-level work, service work, etc., and many of those jobs come with training opportunities that can be of great benefit for low-income citizens. Talking with a friend of mine from church who works in the animal sciences field, he noted that for each scientist employed, you probably have a staff of 10 or so folks who support him, and most of those are folks with less developed skill sets.

Plus, NABF has the very real potential to bring in additional jobs not only related to the biosciences field, but also areas of employment that support the individuals who work there. It has the chance to be an engine, which is something we need.

Complete coverage

OK, here is something with wonderful intentions from OneAthens, but I'm unsure about its role in our fight against poverty.

For starters, again I say ... non-profits have been doing this for quite some time. Mercy Health Clinic is a free medical clinic for low-income citizens, while AIDS Athens offers similar services. The proposal for the ARCH group that is getting a portion of the pie from the Navy School moving has plans for large-scale free medical clinic to further expand services.

I'm not arguing that we don't need to find ways to expand our coverage in town, but if we're only offering basic coverage and not more complete insurance, then I'm puzzled how this does anything. I'd rather see a concerted effort to develop an uninsured/small business insurance pool, drawing from exisiting providers who are supportive of the group's efforts, that could cover a broad area throughout Northeast Georgia where grant money could assist with costs for low-income citizens, while small business owners would be able to pay premiums that help as well.

I know I've seen quite down on OneAthens as of late, and be sure to know that I'm not saying this isn't a good idea from OneAthens - most, if not all, of their ideas are very strong - but my concern is that, on the whole, the more recommendations I see coming from them, the more I see that services like those already exist in town. And rather than work to supplement and expand them, the group often acts like they were never here to begin with.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Yeah, that figures

And in the incredibly awesome because it's insanely stupid department, we're gearing up to take Tennessee by force.

Why pursue smart growth and a sound water conservation plan when you can just steal water from a neighboring state based on a map from the early 1800s?

Are the gloves off now?

Folks bristled when I said John McCain's speech was intellectually shallow, and though I don't feel like I should point out that I was referring to his speech which was boring and, yes, intellectually shallow, and not necessarily the man himself.

Because the only one who says John McCain doesn't get it is, well, John McCain.

Forget the fact that Barack Obama has, you know, sponsored close to 900 bills in his eight years of holding public office including the Coburn-Obama Government Transparency Act of 2006, the Lugar-Obama Nuclear Non-proliferation and Conventional Weapons Threat Reduction Act, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (with McCain), the 2007 Government Ethics Bill, etc. and etc.

But don't let facts get in the way of your meme. It's cute and fun in its own right.

Probably a lot like that lobbyist.

Not sure about this

At Tondee's Tavern, sndeak was all up in arms over, well, something ... and I really can't figure out what.

While I've liked his support of Barack Obama, I don't go along with his rant against the Democratic Party of Georgia.

For starters, I've actually witnessed the DPG put together a rather coherent and consistent opposition to the Glenn Tax through talking points, press release and appropriate surrogates speaking to the public. In fact, they've had their act together for quite some time, while many elected officials have only recently started to come around. To say they've done nothing boggles my mind.

And, seriously, opposition to the Human Life Amendment? Speaking from a purely political standpoint, with a sensitive issue like this, going out publically and bashing this would only galvanize support for it. If sndeak doesn't want to see it come to pass, then the best thing to do is keep your mouth shut and let Republicans - the ones who are supposed to actually be pro-life - continue to refuse to vote on it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Barack Obama wins Wisconsin, apparently by a comfortable margin, and one has to wonder just what Hillary Clinton can do now ... particularly since he's narrowed the gap in Ohio and tied her in Texas.

Aside from that, I was struck with how intellectually shallow and bankrupt John McCain's speech was. Of course, since he's 147, I wasn't expecting much, so there's that.

Some more

OK, mea cupla on the gender of Pat Priest. I actually knew it was 'she' and for no good reason whatsoever, apparently kept on writing 'he' ... my bad. And, while I'm critical of what I think is a rather weak argument put forth by her, I am appreciative of the general activities she's done for local progressives over the past few years.

But to address some comments in the original post ...

You don't think it's because they're just freaked out about a facility studying animal diseases? If it's because they hate growth, why didn't they organize sooner and protest, say, the Eastside Lowe's?

Yes and no. Though it may be shocking to some, we've actually been studying animal diseases in Athens-Clarke County for quite some time ... some pretty serious ones actually. And it's been done safely and responsibly, and NABF would be no different.

Is much of this outcry based on the fact that NABF will be researching animal diseases? Definitely. But it's also important to note that not only was there some opposition to, say, the Eastside Lowe's, but that many of the folks who work with FAQ have voiced opposition in the past to other areas of economic development, economic development and growth in our community (often, it must be noted, for legitimate reasons).

I agree w/Nicki, it's a leap to assume that because someone opposes this project he or she opposes all growth. Opposition to one project doesn't mean anti-everything, lol, but nice try.

True, but what was once a more quiet opposition to some elements of growth - even smart growth - has transformed into something more vocal (and more angry) since it was given a face in NABF.

This isn't rocket science ... so many proposed developments we have are scrutinized by some in our community to a degree that often staggers me. On one hand, it makes me proud because we have an engaged and informed citizenry, but on the other hand it has to be acknowledged that this does place some inhibitors on our growth potential (or just leave us with crappy growth the sprawls out Atlanta Highway or bleeds across the county line into the Clarke-Oconee corridor).

Lord help me that I agree with him, but Reggie actually made a good point in noting that if the impression is that we don't land NABF because of our opposition, then we've just shot ourselves in the foot for any type of bioscience development.

UPDATE: OK, all is right in the world because I disagree with Reggie on this ...

But if you think there were no long-range consequences for how that thing unfolded in public--consequences that have a lot to do with a lot of things beyond Five Points (God, look up "provincial" in the dictionary and you get a picture of Athens) then you need to talk to some different people. People who actually know things about economic development.

But our service industry hasn't been deterred though. We've landed Walgreens and Lowe's and Southern Foods and so on and so on. What has changed has been the political leadership in Atlanta, and it's one that is more resistant to working with us now. Granted, we need to work with them, but to think that Eckerd's not setting up shop in Five Points was the nail in the coffin for our economic development opportunities is silly.


Want more proof that the arguments by FAQ are less and less credible?

Consider this letter by Pat Priest which flatly states that because he simply didn't believe the answer given by the scientific expert on how officials will close down the Plum Creek facility, this whole thing is moot. Mind you, Priest offered not one shred of evidence that would contradict the statement offered by said expert, but rather that he just didn't believe it.

This project has the support of liberals and conservatives, UGA officials and local business leaders, the local government and the state government ... for a handful of few to concoct false arguments against it is more than disappointing, it's irresponsible.

And I don't think they're 'rotten human beings' ... but I do think they're deliberately misleading the public on this issue simply because they don't want any type of growth to come to Athens-Clarke County.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Um ...


Wow. As much fun as it is to watch the GOP eat its own, this is fundamentally stupid. The amount of time it took to draw up this piece of legislation could have been spent focused on another issue that's, you know, actually important.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

No credibility

I got a couple of emails from folks saying it was irresponsible of Blake to include the statement by Kelly Girtz regarding vegetarianism in his article on the NABF forum this past week, and, I'll be honest, initially I was tempted to side with those folks.

However, as I've gotten more information about what happened, it's clear that Blake wasn't to blame for this thing, but rather the moderator of the forum, who cherrypicked passages from Girtz's letter to deliberately distort his view and make them appear more friendly to FAQ's cause.

Girtz's letter, which includes excerpts posted here, goes through a detailed and quite considerate analysis of the pros and cons of the issue at hand. The moderator and the FAQ crowd would have none of that, with several attendees in the crowd that night confirming to me that he was dismissive of Girtz's work, choosing instead to characterize it as 'long and rambling' and focus on

This isn't Blake's fault. For starters, he was under deadline, so there's that. Second, if a commissioner had made such bizarre statements that equated an increase in vegetarianism to a decrease in terrorism, then, well, that should get dropped into the story. The fault lies with the FAQ crowd and this moron of a moderator who apparently doesn't enjoy having grown-up conversations.

Listen, there are perfectly logical questions and concerns to have over NABF - water usage, impact on the environment, transparency in the process - but it's important to talk about this issues in a rational and analytical manner. What doesn't do any good is to completely just make up stuff and then attribute these fictional tales to NABF.

We kinda already knew the FAQ folks didn't want to have a logical discussion about NABF, but it turns out that now they don't mind flat-out lying to get their way either. Their arguments are pathetic, and, more to the point, their character is questionable.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Tough questions

Since we're talking about some poverty-related issues, here's something that's been on my mind ... increasingly so in recent weeks. I fear it's going to come across as a criticism of OneAthens, which isn't my intent, so I'll try to formulate this the best I can.

My concern is that with OneAthens hiring staff and seeking to raise $5 million (which, personally, seems a bit outlandish), what does that do to our existing social service providers in town? Particularly with the great potential to develop the Athens Resource Center for the Homeless and offer real, proven solutions to combat homelessness and poverty in our community?

Arguably all of these organizations need money and arguably they're all engaged in good work, but there are only so many avenues of funding and only so many donors willing to write a check.

Case in point, ARCH agencies will receive funding to handle the purchase of land and development of buildings, but will have to raise all other revenue to fund these operations which, for many, are expansions of existing services. So, for instance, IHN of Athens is slated in the agreement to provide child care services, which will require anywhere from $100,000 to $250,000 in additional funds to staff and maintain this facility. So will the other organizations in ARCH (though by varying numbers), and this is in addition to existing services they provide.

With more and more folks seeking funding, and less and less funding coming from the state and federal level, this means the competition for private funds and grant opportunities will only go up. And, if OneAthens is trying raise $5 million to cover its costs, how will this impact those providers who have been on the ground working to combat poverty since the beginning?

The advocate

Want to known what all of our low-income citizens are thinking? Why just ask Ray MacNair because apparently he speaks for them ... all 30,000 to 40,000 of them in our community.

Just to be clear on this, someone who advocates for higher wages and, presumably, a competitive economy is saying something which has great potential to bring that to our community is something not worth pursuing.

It's cool though ... he's talked to all of the poor in our town.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Easy cupcake, it wasn't even that funny

Though he'd like you believe otherwise, Erick's obviously huffy because he's getting called on a joke he made.

Now, speaking as someone who considers themselves a pro-life Democrat, it isn't as if I'm Captain Gung-Ho for abortion, far from it actually. But the joke itself is completely ridiculous because it equates a group of individuals supporting the right to something to them actually having actually used said right personally.

Of course, the joke makes no sense anyway (wouldn't the children actually be in school if they weren't aborted?), but whatever.

So, to recap, I don't necessarily think it's insulting. I think it just makes him look like a mouth-breathing moron who would rather make insanely misleading jokes about abortion rather than actually address the issue at hand.

But such is life for conservative pundits these days.

Reality on electibility

Josh has a comment in this post that I think is misguided. He predicts that Barack Obama will ulimately be defeated, handily, by John McCain because the country will realize how liberal the former is.

While I think Obama is more pragmatic that purely ideological, such a comment reveals submersion in Deep South politics and fails to understand the political mood in the nation right now. Just as the United States trended conservative throughout the latter part of the 1970s and the 1980s, we're seeing a trend toward more progressive politics currently.

Proof of this comes from examining the Electoral College map from 2004 and comparing it with existing polling between Obama and McCain in targeted states. In it, President Bush won Ohio, Missouri, Iowa, Florida and Colorado. Early polling shows that Obama is tied with McCain in Ohio and Florida, while holding comfortable leads in Missouri, Iowa and Colorado. Logic would suggest that Obama would hold the Democratic base states (California, New York, etc.) and McCain would lock down the South, meaning if you flip just those three states Obama currently leads in he'd swipe 27 electoral votes away.

The caveat is that Pennsylvania is also tied, presumably because McCain plays better in a blue-collar state than most conservatives would right now. Ultimately, I think whoever the Democratic nominee is would fair better there in the long-term.

Another caveat is that the most recent Virginia poll is from mid-January and showed McCain with roughly a 10-point lead. I think that comes down, particularly with Obama's recent momentum and the fact that there's a good chance Jim Webb would be the vice presidential nominee. Regardless, having Tim Kaine and Webb on his side, plus an Obama endorser in Mark Warner, on the ballot, makes this much more favorable for Obama than that early poll would indicate.

The Girtz letter on NABF

A lot has been made of this letter written by Athens Clarke-County District Nine Commissioner Kelly Girtz, and he was kind enough to forward it to me. The whole thing will be up to read at Flagpole shortly. Girtz is a supporter of NABF and is one of the few folks attempting to have a civil and rational discussion about the issue.

I just want to offer some additional background on his vegetarian comments which have gotten an illogical amount of focus. It's clear that Girtz, who is a vegetarian and has been one for 18 years, was being tongue-in-cheek in his statement. The commissioner said he practiced such a dietary lifestyle partially because of his concern over big agriculture interests who pursue unsustainable practices with regard to their farms and livestock, and that his comment was a humorous attempt to say 'if you eat like me, it would be better!' ...

If only y’all would only join me, maybe there would not be such a need for protection of our animal population. However, it is clear that a shift in dietary habits through minimizing industrial agriculture is a long way off. I only need to hang out with the high school students in my classes through a few fried-travesty meals to recognize this.

Again, tongue-in-cheek and not an official policy position.

What was interesting about the letter was his portion addressing the concerns regarding on whether or not Athenians would benefit job-wise from this or if outside folks would. Girtz does an excellent job framing this as one piece in a long-term economic development strategy ...

It has been noted that the current twenty-year economic impact projection of NBAF of $1.5B is not any greater than a big-box retailer over the same time period. While this may be true in rough terms, the devil is in the details here. A big retailer pays its employees a minimal wage, and provides minimal benefits, so the impact does not reverberate broadly in the local community. Instead, the profits flow to a CEO in Arkansas, shareholders in Los Angeles and manufacturing interests in China. In the case of a federal research facility, much of the impact is tied-up in salaries and the spending those salaries precipitate in the local economy. In addition, the workers at NBAF, whether federal employees (my overwhelming preference) or private contractors, would not likely be a burden on the economy in the way that a poorly paid employee lacking health insurance would be.

The other economic development issue related to NBAF that has generated discussion has been the issue of local jobs vs. imported workers. “How many of these jobs would be drawn from the current population of Athens?” is the question that I have heard. In many ways, the thinking about any economic development opportunity must be similar to the thinking behind a new construction project – they must both involve consideration long term impacts. When considering requests for new structures, I think about what Athens will need in twenty and fifty years. We know that the Plum Island facility has been in place for many decades, and all expect the new NBAF facility to have the same lifespan, wherever it is based. It is in this multi-decade context that I consider the economic development impact of the project.

Because the facility is expected to be up and running in just a few years, it is likely that many of the initial employees will not be from Athens. However, because there will be a continual need for replacement personnel, Athens Tech and the Clarke County School District have developed a longitudinal plan for a feeder system of lab technician training to create a steady stream of future employees. This is the right way to approach any burgeoning industry.

Couple of things

- Officially, Rep. John Lewis will switch from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama, which brings a total of five superdelegates who flipped just yesterday, all in the wake of Obama's recent wins and the Clinton campaign's stark admission that they'd ignore the will of the voters and seek out party insiders to propel her to the nomination. Rumor is that there are more to come, particularly with someone as prominent as Lewis providing political cover.

- Seeing how the Clarke County Board of Education isn't going to bring Tommy Craft back, what good was this? Again, if you don't like the BOE, then find some folks to challenge them in the election.

- While I've liked this idea all along, it is good to have a point of reference. And Greenville, S.C., has one of the revitalized and energized downtowns for a mid-size city in the South, so using them as a model is far from a poor idea.

- On this, I agree 100 percent. Why try to actually, you know, invest in our existing schools when we can just take more money from them and use it in a way that may or may not actually provide them with access to a different school? Of course, some folks have proposed a way to properly fund our public education, so there's that.

Music for the moment

Thursday, February 14, 2008

That's a different conclusion

While I definitely don't expect Georgia to go blue in 2008, I think this Insider Advantage poll and subsequent commentary is off-base. It proceeds to suggest that the South is relevant in the Electoral College, which I think is not terribly true since the GOP has consolidated it while the remainder of the country is watching as red states turn purple (Colorado, Montana, Virginia, etc.). Republicans pick up their approximate one-third of the vote and then have to go uphill from there, particularly in a hostile environment for the GOP.

Aside from that, I think we're drawing the wrong conclusion over John McCain's 48-40 lead over Barack Obama.

In 2004, President Bush tallied 57 percent of the vote in Georgia to John Kerry's 41 percent, while he performed equally as well against Al Gore in 2000. What you have here is McCain, an established and well-known Republican candidate, polling at less than 50 percent with 12 percent of the electorate decided. As a result, it's possible that he's reached his ceiling (particularly since he's only up 47-40 over Hillary Clinton, who is clearly an unpopular figure in Georgia Republican circles), while Obama has greater potential for growth.

If the nominee was Obama, with his lower name recognition, enthusiasm from new voters and the ramped up turnout for African-American voters, I have a hard time believing he doesn't get above 45 percent in Georgia and make it a little more competitive.

Again, I don't think he wins, but I think he polls much better than other Democrats in recent elections.

The campaign rolls on

After Hillary Clinton put up a rather silly and, of course, patently false ad accusing Barack Obama of being afraid to debate her, he responded with one of the most effective counter ads I've seen in a while.

And, in other good news, he's picked up the endorsement of the the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, is expected to land the endorsement of the Service Employees International Union and, in really interesting news, African-American superdelegates who originally backed Clinton, are now either switching to or leaning toward Obama ... including Rep. John Lewis.

Couple of things

- I wonder how long before Roger Clemens faces perjury charges, particularly since his former trainer and two ex-teammates confirmed him using HGH, his answers were inconsistent and it seems mighty weird that his wife would use HGH but not him. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy ... or a more overrated pitcher.

- Traffic is awful along Hawthorne Avenue Bob Bowen, and I intend to cover that topic in an upcoming post, but the reality is that particular stretch of the road is too narrow to safely accomodate four lanes. It's fine past the intersection with Oglethorpe Avenue, but between Atlanta Highway and there it's a mighty tight fit.

- Hillary Clinton says she doesn't care about what the actual voters want, but instead what roughly 800 superdelegates think. That and her top campaign advisor says all of Barack Obama's victories come in states that don't matter.

- How did I miss this? Yeah, I don't like the portable sign ban either, though Mark Bell is clearly overreacting.

- This was an interesting issue back when I served on the Clarke County Multicultural Task Force a few years back, but it extended from merely an intimidating presence by some law enforcement officials to a general non-hospitable attitude from some staff. Parents who spoke with us, as well as those who served on the board, said they simply felt as if they were an inconvenience when they would come by (that or they were flatly ignored).

- From a Republican-led Georgia General Assembly, there are two ideas I like! First, bumping up the tobacco tax and using the revenues to pay for health care (though I think some Democrats have been saying this for years), and then there's an effort to coordinate our transit systems to provide better service for rural areas which is something I've been saying for a while now.

- Personally, related to an above item, I still believe that Clinton is going to end up the nominee, and her admission that she plans to ignore the fact that Obama is leading states won, the popular vote and pledged delegates and pursue stealing the nomination via superdelegates does nothing to change my mind. Again, if she's the nominee, I'll back her, but I definitely don't want to.

Silliness continues

Well there was another NABF forum last night, and Blake's lede is priceless since, yes, it's the animals that have everyone concerned Zandra Roper.

It's that type of shifting argument that makes the opposition to NABF so weird. That and the fact that you have a Classics professor claiming he knows more about bioscience facilities that, you know, actual scientists.

Let's just make sure this debate is clearly defined for everyone ... on one side you have scientific experts and trusted local leaders from across the political spectrum, while on the other side you have folks who lack expertise in this field and, instead, turned to a now-defunct sham of a non-profit who decided to parrot completely made up arguments about this project.

Yeah, this makes perfect sense.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Either way, it ain't good

Well, this is disturbing. John McCain has hired Bo Harmon, who worked on Saxby Chambliss's campaign against Max Cleland, to serve as his national political director.

Now this is interesting for two reasons.

First, McCain abhorred the type of campaign Chambliss ran against Cleland, particularly the infamous ad that merged Osama bin Ladin's face with Cleland's (in fact, as the post notes, McCain called it 'worse than disgraceful.') If he's aligning himself with someone who put forth such a despicable act, one he at one time denounced, that speaks volumes about his character.

Second, if Harmon had nothing to do with the ad, as Tom Perdue indicates, then no problem, right? Well ...

"The heaviest thing he [Harmon] had to do was buy the peppermint candy to fill the bowl at the front of the office," Perdue told the paper.

So apparently McCain has hired a baffoon to run his ship and that speaks volumes about his judgement.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The big mo'

Indeed, another good night for Barack Obama and encouraging news from NBC, which projects that Hillary Clinton must get 63 percent of the vote in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania in order to reclaim the pledged delegates. This, of course, is based on the assumption that Obama wins Wisconsin and Hawaii. I think he will the latter and, after seeing some recent numbers, I'm more optimistic about the former (plus Clinton appears to have conceded the state and set up camp in Texas).

FAQ didn't pay enough


The completely-lie-about-your-proposed-bioscience-project-for-hire gig run by Edward Hammond has closed its doors.

Good reads

Adrian and Nicki have been doing some good work over at Athens World ...

- Nicki discusses Melanie Daniel's column regarding addressing the teen pregnancy rates and, safe to say, I'm definitely more on Nicki's side. I've felt Daniel's columns have been rather shallow, though this one at least attempted to make a coherent argument. One thing Nicki didn't take on directly was the notion that putting teens in same-sex schools actually, based on my research, has the opposite effect regarding their sexual activity. In fact, I had a conversation with a friend who works in this field just a few days before this column came out who was noting this exact thing ... that it actually has the opposite result.

- Adrian tackles the proposed development along West Broad Street and offers some solid commentary on it. I might disagree slightly regarding whether or not this was a negotiating tactic by the developers - I actually think they wanted to build something that tall and thought it wasn't a big deal - though I do concur that typically those types of negotiation don't really work. Ultimately, I do think this type of development (the non-six-story ones of course) are the types of things we want to bring to downtown and its surroundings, so I'm optimistic the final product will be one beneficial to all.

- Nicki offers a quality rebuttal to a handful of letters regarding poverty, and I echo her statements. I'm quite frustrated with this notion that we attract poor people. Speaking as someone who, well, actually has some experience in this realm, that isn't the case at all. Most of the poor in this community are working poor who not only live and work here, but also have extensive histories in our community. This concept that we're some 'mecca for the poor' is misguided.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Rolling my eyes (part two)

Listen, the last time I called Paul Krugman a hack I had some fellow Democrats calling me and emailing me, all the while encouraging me to reconsider. Well, after this pathetic attempt at journalistic commentary, I stand by my original assertion.

I mean, Good Lord, isn't it appropriate to admit when you're getting paid by a particular campaign? I've never seen anything like the apparent divorce from reality Krugman's done in order to embrace the Clintons. Despite rising to prominence due to his opposition to the war, he's hitched his wagon to the candidate which endorsed the war and refuses to acknowledge its failed prosecution.

And, in unnecessarily attacking Obama supporters, Krugman had to force himself to ignore the Clinton supporters who have unleashed their own 'venom.' Not a word over Bill Clinton's weirdly personal attacks - attacks so patently false and over the line that several Democratic leaders called the campaign to urge him to tone down the rhetoric - but column after column berating Obama and his supporters?

I just find it hard to consider someone relevant when that person is so brazeningly ignorant of the actual situation.

UPDATE: Jason Linkins at Huffington Post has a nice response.

Great minds

Proof that an Obama presidency can bring folks together?

I agree with Kos regarding Barack Obama's general election strategy (which ultimately served as a rebuttal to a silly argument posed by Jerome Armstrong.

Worth noting

Though it's been mentioned in the comments, this came from a reader regarding the silly arguments made by Ed Wilde against NABF ...

Economic impact analysis was initially done without any details about the proposed project - so they were complete assumptions. Once the details of the project were clarified the economic analysis was recalibrated taking into account the new information and were appropriately adjusted down.

A little more on this

I had a discussion involving the Ira Edwards situation with a good friend a few days back and, while he didn't necessarily disagree with me, he did differ somewhat on the judgement against the sheriff. His take was that if he had been in Edwards's position, he probably would have done the same thing.

I respect that and, it must be noted, I don't really fault Edwards for doing the same thing. The problem, of course, is that Edwards, as sheriff, has to strip those personal feelings away. His brother-in-law was evading the Houston County authorities and, upon being caught, those same authorities requested that he be extradited. As Jason Winders notes, Edwards deliberately ignored the latter, doing so under the guise of it being to save the taxpayers some money

This offends me ... greatly. While I think the jury is still out on whether or not we actually need this new jail (perhaps a tweaking of our jail policies might bring some benefit or if we started up a 'holding tank' for kids arrested downtown for underage drinking), it's insulting to couch the release of one's brother-in-law behind the sad excuse that it's designed to benefit the common good.

I've given Edwards the benefit of the doubt on a lot, and I mean a lot, the past few years, but this one issue really disturbs me. And it means I might have to give Kenny Brown's challenge a serious look.

Couple of things

- Ed Wilde wants us to give credit where credit is due, but I say that FAQ isn't due any credit. They've deliberately distorted what should be an honest debate regarding a research facility that could have, potentially, a transformative effect on our economy. And they've done so by bringing in paid shills to flat-out lie and literally make up stuff about NABF, all the while throwing the local leaders they've know for many, many years under the bus. It's pathetic.

- While I would love for this to be true, I don't think it is. I think some of those votes cast in last week's primary were probably some cross-over voting from Republicans who simply don't want Hillary Clinton to win, while it's also important to note that Democrats have higher primary turnouts. Ultimately this is still quite a red state, and that's just the reality of the matter. Not to rain on anyone's parade because I think the DPG is doing a rather fine job of mobilizing the county parties and finding strong candidates. Still, as I've argued all along, this is going to be a 15- to 20-year process in order to build a bench of talented candidates and win over hearts and minds.

- It was a clean sweep over the weekend for Barack Obama, including shockingly large wins in Washington and Maine (the latter being I state I honestly thought Clinton would win).

- But, more than that, his speech on Saturday night at the Virginia Jefferson-Jackson Dinner was awesome. Not only did it contain his usual prose, but he also offered clear contrasts between him and Clinton and tossed in those specifics his critics have beat him over the head about. And, still, that's not what was completely awesome about it ... because what was awesome was the five minute-plus, on-the-spot defense of what hope really is (starts at 23:51).

Saturday, February 09, 2008

At least try to spin properly

So Barack Obama is cruising to massive, double-digit wins in Washington, Louisiana and Nebraska, which is all the more impressive since those three states really don't have much in common. This is good for the big mo' ... particularly since I think Hillary Clinton has an edge in Maine tomorrow, though Obama should bounce back with strong showings in the Potomoc Primary.

Of course, looking for damage control, Clinton has touted that she's raised $10 million since Super Tuesday. That's not all that impressive for three reasons ...

- Obama raised $8 million in 24 hours.

- It's Hillary Clinton. This shouldn't be shocking at all since she has a strong network and great name recognition.

- Of course, Republicans scared of Obama are now actively fundraising for Clinton (something which could probably account for her influx of 'new' donors).

I like to poke fun

Because, well, I just want to poke fun at Andre right now, here's some interesting things to note ...

- Despite posting spin on polling numbers, bragging about Georgia's involvement in town hall meeting, touting rising momentum for Clinton in Georgia and talking up her time at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, Andre goes on to say 'geez guys, it ain't like we actually tried here.'

- Let's concoct a false scenario and say Barack Obama doesn't like to debate, despite the fact that he's debated Clinton 18 times since 2007 and has repeatedly said he's open to a few more debates, just not one a week - including one on Fox News even though all the Democratic candidates pledged to not debate on that network. At this point in the campaign, I'd much rather see the candidates go interact with the voters than hold more debates where they both spout off 30-second talking points we've all already heard.

Rolling my eyes

In a tantrum that's typical of many self-indulgent liberal bloggers, Chris Bowers at Open Left says he'll leave the Democratic Party if the superdelegates determine the nominee. While I get his point - it's not a good premise to have roughly 800 Democratic officials determine the nominee rather than the popular vote - he's more than overreacting to this thing for a variety of reasons ...

- One problem with his rationale is what determines the popular vote? Is it a total of all the folks who voted across the country, which may favor Hillary Clinton? Is it a total of states won, which may favor Barack Obama? Is it the number of pledged delegates, which may favor either candidate?

- And, if it's pledged delegates, than how is that 'fair' according to Bowers's logic? Thanks to proportional awarding of delegates, you've got Clinton and Obama almost splitting delegates at every turn with one or other sometimes winning delegate counts but not popular votes.

- Up until the 1960s, Democratic party bosses did nominate the president and, you know what, they ultimately gave us some damn good candidates (Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy). Since going to this popular vote thing, we've been stuck with some rather lackluster folks running for the nation's top office.

- Is this worth leaving the party over? Regardless, this thing is going down to the wire and both candidates are going to be within a hair of each other, and I think that's quite good. It's a pair of strong, viable candidates who are turning out voters in record numbers, and, while I strongly favor Obama, I'm quite content with either candidate in the general election.


One of the frustrations - many frustrations - with the Bush administration is that its actions absolutely defy logic. Take the 2009 budget which was proposed earlier this week. It still manages to increase spending while cutting numerous programs which have vital local benefits (and, one could argue, trim the spending of the very programs Republicans like the president would seem to favor).

Case in point, more cuts to Community Development Block Grants, which are bundles of funding awarded to different communities for their citizens to determine how best to use. Based on the proposed budget, Georgia would see $15 million cut from its CDBG funding for 2009, which is absolutely maddening. Already, Athens-Clarke County routinely sees funding requests for the social service portion of our CDBG in excess of more than $500,000 for what little money exists (which has been steadily falling from $250,000 a few years back to just a shade above $200,000).

Out of any program we currently have at the federal not named 'Social Security' this is one that should be getting more support from the federal level, and not less (and some additional flexibility in allocating funds would be nice, but beggars can't be choosers right now). This is a program which provides federal support with local control, and it's something I'd like to see more of, not less.

Edwards's challenger

Folks have posted and emailed inquiring if anyone is challenging Ira Edwards for sheriff in 2008, and one person is. Kenny Brown announced his intentions last year, and he appears to be a strong candidate.

Brown grew up in the Rocksprings public housing project and is a veteran officer in the community. He has the potential to be a strong challenger to Edwards.

His web site, which could use a little work, is here.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Poor judgement

One of the things that bugs me about this whole Ira Edwards thing is somewhat touched on in this well argued editorial by the Athens Banner-Herald, and that's this is a troubling judgement call on the sheriff's part.

Understandably, Edwards feels a need to trust and assist a fellow family member, and I don't fault him for that at all. The problem, however, is that as one of the community's top law enforcement officials, he's supposed to separate those personal feelings from his official duties. It's apparent that he failed to do just that (particularly in light of the fact that Houston County specifically requested that he be extradited and not released).

Again, equally as troubling is the fact that he's using the excuse that he needs a new jail as justification for the release. Rather than be an individual who exercised bad judgement, he's trying to frame this as something where he's the victim.

Music for the moment

An alternative

While we all know about the Glenn Richardson's plan to eliminate the property tax and replace it with, well, taxes on everything (stamping out local control in the process), it's refreshing to see Democrats in the Georgia General Assembly put forward an alternative plan that not only alleviates property taxes but also funds education.

HB 1057, which was proposed last week, will provide funds to all counties pulled from the state's $1.6 billion reserve fund. The funding received will be dedicated to the Quality Basic Education formula that funds public education, but hasn't been fully funded in years.

The additional funds - $300 million this year and $300 million next year - will take some funding burden off of communities and incentivize them to reduce property taxes. Accounting for future growth, including spending spurred by property tax reduction, this will only affect 15 percent of the existing reserve fund.

To me, this makes perfect sense. It's the state fulfilling its obligation to QBE, while letting local governments reduce property taxes as they see fit. Rarely do you have win-win, but this is one of the better proposals I've seen in a long, long time.

And this is good to see. I'm not a huge fan of merely opposing something without offering a counterproposal, and it's nice to see Georgia Democrats offering a clear alternative.

Friday laughs

I particularly enjoy the 'Plane Crash' segment beginning at 1:11.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

There's this

As an aside, we've located my office in our dining room (since, like most dining rooms, it's rarely used). The problem is we have no blinds in that room and the sun sets on the front side of our house ... so I'm blind and it's 100 degrees in here.

The past week I've been forced to insert a siesta into my work day from, say, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and return to work after that. Safe to say, blinds are on the 'to-do' list for the weekend.


The next three weeks are shaping up to be quite promising for me music-wise. On Feb. 12, Little Big Town plays The Classic Center, then on Feb. 15 Adam Hood visits Dixie Tavern in Atlanta and it's rounded out by Brantley Gilbert at Georgia Theater on March 1.

I'm too old to try and go to all of them, so I need to pick at least one.

Couple of things

- The Governor is letting us ease up on water restrictions, though I don't anticipate any changes happening here. Not that I disagree with that either. One of the problems with our society is a short attention span, one which has been fueled by the media too (where have those 'Drought Updates' gone on places like WSB?), and this is a perfect example of that. A couple of weeks of average rainfall and a full reservoir in Athens-Clarke County and folks start clamoring to water their yard. Well, the rivers are still running low and the lakes are still substantially below level. We're still in a drought and, with a dry spring and summer in the forecast, conservation now becomes even more imperative.

- Not that it's going to do much good, but backers of Tommy Craft are going to protest his firing at the Clarke County Board of Education meeting tonight. From what I've heard over the past few months from a variety of sources is that Craft's dismissal was less connected to Sidney Anne Waters, but more connected to the resignation of coach Scott Wilkins.

- Apparently one way to keep our jail from being overcrowded is to simply let relatives fleeing from the law go free. Seriously, while it may not be illegal, it's definitely wrong. If Danny Thomas was wanted for theft by taking, but was not reporting to court to face the charges in Houston County, then why in the world should we believe he'll report to authorities now? Maybe he will, maybe he won't ... but, also, tying your political pet wishes to the release of your brother-in-law is a reach, isn't it?

- The cynic in me could say that some Georgia Republicans have always enjoyed longing for the past, but the realist points out that, well, the Athens Banner-Herald is right and this is dumb.

- Hillary Clinton loaned herself $5 million to keep fighting on, while Barack Obama raised more than $6 million from small donors since Feb. 5. People powered baby!

- At Peach Pundit, Spacey bashes the DPG for no real reason, particularly since a consultant who isn't affiliated with the DPG is quoted in this article. I don't disagree with her rationale - that Obama drove the folks to the polls - but I also think it's stupid to throw a potshot at the DPG.

- And, yes, after last night's loss, I stick to my 'Fire Felton' mantra.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Way to stand firm

Well, so much for Erick standing up against Glenn Richardson. Apparently all it took was one phone call from Celia Davis, Richardson's spokesperson and, according to the State Capitol interns and staff, the most beautiful person in Georgia government for that little crusade to come to a grinding halt.

It isn't like she said anything aside from 'that's not true' but, nonetheless, he's recanted. Pity.

A little basketball

Not that I'm saying anything here that I haven't before, but I agree with PWD on this. It's come time for a change with Georgia's basketball program for exactly the same reasons, and I propose that we don't stop with just Dennis Felton but also Andy Landers.

While I know the latter is heresy to some in UGA circles, Landers's time has come and gone. He's squandered a good bit of talent the past 10 years, and we've watched as Georgia has fallen from the ranks of the elite teams in women's basketball to a middle-of-the-pack team in the SEC.

There's no enthusiasm for either program and no hope of either one improving based on their current course.


Earlier I said that Missouri was the only surprise on the board for me, and now it looks as if Obama might just rally and take that too. And, though it's already been called for Clinton, the urban centers of California are still out and they have larger African-American populations which could help trim the deficit. He needs to finish within 12 percent to swipe a good share of delegates.

As of right now, he's in a good position to win 14 of 22 states, and none of them are traditional Democratic states, yet all featured higher turnouts than their Republican counterparts. So, though Paul Begala may want to say this is a 'win' for Clinton, I see otherwise.

Plus, he's got more money and a favorable slate of upcoming primaries.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Tuesday bonanza

7:00 p.m. - We're starting early because they've already called Georgia for Barack Obama. Shoot, Matt and Tim aren't even here yet.

7:14 p.m. - Always good to see some Campbell Brown. Been a fan of hers for some time now.

7:15 p.m. - After 2004, I've grown increasingly wary of exit polls but ... the numbers look very, very good for Obama. Must dampen expectations ... long haul ... want delegates only.

7:21 p.m. - According to the exit polls, 88 percent of African-Americans voted for Obama and 77 percent of the youth vote went for him as well. Plus, they said the youth vote (18-29 year-olds) was up 40 percent and almost all trended toward Obama.

7:31 p.m. - Obama up 64 to 36 in Georgia according to, well, one percent reporting.

7:41 p.m. - CNN recognizes that the South is not barefoot and backward ... though Tim offers the caveat that racism might still be more vocal in the South while it's more compartmentalized in the North. I don't necessarily disagree, but I'd also argue that sexism might be more prevelant these days than racism.

7:53 p.m. - Because Tim and I have a morbid interest in the macabre, we watched a bit of Fox News ... who have already called Alabama for Obama, despite the fact that the polls aren't closed yet. And they have less than one percent reporting somehow.

8:09 p.m. - Only six percent reporting for Georgia after an hour of tabulations? Good Lord ... still, looking at the Athens-Clarke County numbers, Obama rolled in predominantly African-American District 2A 668 to 136.

8:17 p.m. - Tim notes that they could have prepped Wolf Blitzer a little better on the color swatches for the candidates. 'Is that Warm Gingerbread' for Ron Paul?'

8:40 p.m. - In Athens-Clarke County, 5,061 votes for Obama and 1,972 for Clinton. And Obama with a huge early lead in Alabama, but Clinton showing strong in Missouri after, of course, one percent.

9:01 p.m. - The exit polls appear to be a bit off as Clinton's prospects are looking better. Obama is running well where we thought he would and Clinton is running well where we thought she would too.

9:05 p.m. - CNN calls Delaware for Obama, which is a pleasant surprise. And he figures to roll in Alabama. The Missouri numbers are disappointing to me, but aside from that I'm quite satisfied with the results so far.

9:08 p.m. - By contrast, MSNBC has called Massachusetts for Clinton. It's a rough loss, but consistent with polling prior to primary day.

9:28 p.m. - Finally, Alabama is called for Obama. Missouri, though, looks awful for him. Again, that's the only one that surprises me.

9:34 p.m. - Tim notes that something is really off in Fox News's coverage as they have John McCain with 12 votes. Also, we concur that their graphics package makes them look like The 700 Club.

9:37 p.m. - Watching Fox News is nothing short of a train wreck. Tim comments that it appears that Brit Hume's forehead is collapsing into his eyes, though he calls Kansas for Obama.

9:56 p.m. - What's up with this 'Endless Enchilada' thing at On The Border? I mean, exactly how many enchiladas can one person eat?

9:59 p.m. - Based on the photo CNN is using, I'm conviced Mitt Romney has been sent from the future to kill the future leader of mankind.

10:10 p.m. - Mike Huckabee: 'It's time to make sure we tell folks that parents raise children better than government does.' ... Awesome. I completely forgot that former Augusta mayor Charles DeVaney actually raised me and not Don and Suzanne.

10:17 p.m. - OK, let's try to update some wins ... Obama has won Illinois, Alabama, Georgia, Delaware, Kansas and North Dakota, and he holds confident leads in Connecticut, Idaho and Minnesota. Clinton has won New York, Arkansas, Tennessee, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Oklahoma, and she holds a confident lead in Missouri.

10:20 p.m. - And they call Connecticut for Obama.

10:30 p.m. - CNN calls Minnesota for Obama. This is big, and I hope folks pick up on this. He's closed to 10 percent in Missouri and is down just eight in New Jersey, but he's picked up wins in Connecticut, Delaware and Minnesota where he trailed in the final polls. It's still shaping up to be a pretty good night for him.

10:44 p.m. - For the local angle, Athens-Clarke County went overwhelmingly for Obama by a count of 9,413 to 3,651. Obama's win total is updated to include Idaho and Utah now, meaning he should figure to win a majority of states.

11:01 p.m. - In Mitt Romney's speech, he noted that he's won all the states he's lived in ... just 46 more places to move to Mitt!

11:20 p.m. - California is gonna be crazy close. The exit polls show white voters backing Obama 49-43 and blacks going for him 81-16. The Latino vote is 66-33 for Clinton and the Asian vote (eight percent) is 71-16 for her.

11:38 p.m. - McCain's mom? Was she 11 when she gave birth to him?

12:01 p.m. - 'We are the ones we've been waiting for.' I mean, damn ... chills just went through my entire body.

One mind at a time

Having just returned from taking my daughter to the doctor for not only another chest cold, but also an ear infection to boot, I happened to engage in a little political discussion with one of the peditricians there who asked me if she could pose some questions about Barack Obama to me (since I was proudly wearing my Obama '08 sticker). She asked if it bothered me that Obama was raised in my an atheist mother and Muslim father and had only recently come to discover Christianity.

While the latter point is patently false, I could have easily allowed my frustration to get the better of me, but I didn't. I explained that ...

- I was voting for a president and not a pastor. That if Person X shared a vision of how to run the country that was similar to mine, I didn't care if they were of a different faith than me.

- That, relating to his actual Christian beliefs, it wasn't my place to judge either his sincerity or when he converted to Christianity. If he pledged his Christianity yesterday or 50 years ago, it shouldn't affect how I judge him.

Just an interesting Election Day caveat.

Steady she goes

Voting was pretty good at my polling place today. Nothing too crowded, but definitely a steady stream of folks coming in. And, if the street and the Oglethorpe Fire House are any indication, than Barack Obama should roll to a victory in Georgia. Seriously, I think everyone on my street cast a ballot for him today.

Good riddance

In light of his recent temper tantrums and tax voodoo, Erick at Peach Pundit says folks are working to dethrone Glenn Richardson. While keeping such a polarizing, unlikeable figure as a prominent face for Georgia Republicans is a good thing for Democrats in state, I would have to say that I wholeheartedly support any attempts to strip that man of his power.

Go vote

For a programming update, I'm planning on live blogging the results with a few guests, as will Flack.

UPDATE: Also good is this.

Shaking the head

In the wake of a second bout of pre-primary tears, Andrew Sullivan nails it on Hillary Clinton.

Yesterday I had a conversation with a friend of mine who is a Clinton supporter and, understandably, attributed much of said support to her own personal feminist views. I said I respected that and even said that Clinton had impressed me greatly the past week on the campaign. But, crying again is rather pathetic.

As someone who supported and defended the Clintons for many years and holds a great deal of respect for Hillary Clinton, their whole campaign has been one of the most disappointing spectacles I've witnessed in quite some time.

Monday, February 04, 2008

It's the stupidity stupid

I'm with Flack here ... this story is a pathetic piece of reporting by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and reveals a level of voter ignorance in the South that is staggering (and not really representative of the reality of the situation).

How absurd is it that Tony Hutson won't vote for Mitt Romney because he's a Morman? Or that the Aldridges are relying on lies about Barack Obama to base a decision on him (well that and blatant sexism)?


Erick at Peach Pundit has finally realized that Glenn Richardson is all about consolidating power for his own political purposes and, as a result, come out against the Glenn Tax.

While stripping folks of committee positions is actually somewhat routine in the world of politics, it's also incredibly petty and a perfect example of what should not be going on with our elected officials. These committee members should be able to freely make opinions based upon their own individual judgement and not because they're being strongarmed and blackmailed by someone like Richardson.

The fact that he's hiding behind the statement that 'House leadership says this is OK' is also a rather damning statement about the ethics of that group too.

Endorsements of sort

I thought it would be interesting to check out who some of our local leaders were supporting in the presidential election this year and, not suprisingly, a lot of them haven't made up their minds yet.

Athens-Clarke County Commissioners Alice Kinman and Kelly Girtz both back Barack Obama though Girtz, like many local Democrats, originally supported John Edwards. However, a lot of them still can't decided between Obama or Hillary Clinton and will make up their mind tomorrow (though they all wanted me to know they're quite pleased with this choice).

On the Republican side, State Sen. Bill Cowsert said he had originally supported Fred Thompson, but was disappointed by his campaign and, with Thompson dropping out, he hasn't settled on a pick yet.

So loyal readers, who will you be casting your vote for tomorrow?

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Not really

See, here's an argument against a college football playoff system.

Granted, the Giants played a great game against the Patriots, but are we really to believe that New York is the best team in pro football? Or a Patriots team which broke every record in NFL history which happened to play its worst game out of 20 this season (and beat the Giants just a month ago)?

The Patriots weren't the better team against the Rams a few years back. Syracuse wasn't the best college men's basketball team a little while ago when Carmelo Anthony led the Orangemen through the tournament. Boise State didn't prove anything in beating Oklahoma last season in the Fiesta Bowl (except that they love running gimmick plays).

And the Giants aren't the best team in football this season ... the Patriots are.

Rooting for the underdog may be fun, but when they win all it does is cheapen the whole season.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Couple of things

- Apologies loyal readers as I've been away setting up Front Porch Consulting which has proven to occupy almost all of my time. Got two clients and three possible others, which is very, very good since Daddy needs to get paid. Hopefully I can get the web site up in the next week.

- I'm glad to see that Buddy Allen will remain as the chair of the LRA since his quiet work as that authority's head is one of the unsung success stories of the community. He's been able to turn a positive - the move of the Navy School - to a positive by securing land for UGA to expand and guarantee some reserved space for private development. All the while he and the rest of the LRA stubbornly stuck the premise that this move serve those residents most in need, and the result was a deal to pay five area non-profits to build expanded services for low-income citizens.

- While I'm all for a limited playoff too, does anyone think this will do much good?

- You know, Charles Platter kinda makes sense ... and I hope people heed his word. The Clarke County Board of Education is comprised of entrenched, albeit dedicated, individuals. The chance for someone to actually challenge them in a race would inject new ideas into our local discussion on education. The money's terrible, of course, and the hours are long, but it's arguably a noble cause.

- This state-by-state look for the Democrats on Super Tuesday is interesting, and it shows real movement for Barack Obama. Granted, I still think it's a long shot he can pull this thing out (though I'm still optimistic), but if he can make it close and survive afterward the primary calendar sets up nicely for him. And the longer he hangs in, the better for his campaign. As an aside, whoever thought the Democrats would be the ones headed toward the brokered convention? Also, the GOP glance is here, and it looks like John McCain is going to coast.