Saturday, July 31, 2010

Congratulations

They are in order for Pistollete, who stuck with the NaBloPoMo contest and got at least one blog post up per day for a month.

And they're real posts, too, not pansy redirect links like this one that fill the pages of my blog day in and day out.

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Making Groceries

As Winn-Dixie prepares to close their store in Marrerro, Louisiana, Trader Joes's announces that they are opening a store in Oconee County, Georgia.

There has been much rejoicing from my friends in the Classic City. (Oconee County is the part of Athens run by exurb developers.)

This is still a head scratcher for me, though. I haven't done any actual studies, but it always appears to me that New Orleans, with a population nearing 400,000 souls and a metro of over 1 million, has less grocery stores than Athens, Georgia - a college town with 150,000 people if you don't count Sanford Stadium on game day.

One day I'm going to have to make an official count.

In another head scratching comparison between these two cities, Athens even had their own chemical spill earlier this month.

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Ground Zero Gingrich (con't)

And while we're talking about Americans who hate other Americans based on religion, don't think for one minute I'm going to forget the lunatic controversey over the Cordoba Mosque.

That people who wrap themselves in the flag and then try to undercut America's founding principles (all to make money and gain press exposure) have the temerity to call other Americans two-faced and anti-American is far beyond disgusting.

Funny time is over.

HT: Cynthia Tucker.

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Against You

Now, why in the world would anyone think the Tea Party is about hate and ignorance?

Maybe if they stopped trying to gin up hatred based on ignorance.

You want to phrase things in stark terms, Tea Party? Very well. I could deal with you when you were challenging government priorities and spending, because those are talks we need to have. But you didn't stay there. Instead, you wanted to play revolution, and a revolution needs enemies. It is not enough to get people fired up talking about tax law minutia, you needed more.

Now that you have gone all-in with the civilizational war talk, the "with-us-or-against-us" stuff, the threatening and the bullying and the bearing of false witness to spread fear and ignorance, I cannot abide it. Funny time is over.

You may consider me in the "against you" category.

(HT: Daily Dish.)

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Say it with me: RATE OF CHANGE IS NOT CHANGE

Sometimes I'm wrong and this is one of those times. I thought that complaints over the drop in rate of change in the GDP may have been put out there to dog Bush for the faltering economy right before an election. I was wrong. It was not. We have this great news that we're still not in a recession. The GDP is up 2.4%! How do we report this? If you're the AP, you complain that there wasn't as much growth as last quarter. Either the 3.6% was a surge or this 2.4% is a dip (or maybe a little of both). We're not really sure which. But what we can be sure of is that even if growth were to increase forever (which is possible given an ever-increasing population), the rate of growth simple will not increase forever. Let's take our good news, see what we can do to further improve the situation without panicking, and be happy with the growth we did accomplish.

2.4%, baby! Onward and upward.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ground Zero Gingrich

I used to be a fan of Newt. Even though I disagreed with him on many, many issues, I respected him. I bought several of historical fiction books on the Civil War and WWII. He's a fantastic writer when it comes to fiction. Maybe he should have kept that job.

Maybe he did.

Now that he has decided to play to the worst elements of American sectionalism and xenophobia in his attempt to win a slot on the Palin/Nagin ticket in 2012, I no longer hold such views. He is now speaking fiction and selling it as real policy, because that's how they do things in Saudi Arabia (our partner in the Global War on Terror and Future Ally in the Coming Holy Alliance Against Iran).

Hopefully, our nation will not fall for his lunatic verbal acrobatics. (Be sure to read all the way to comment 14 for the most effect.)

HT: The Daily Dish.

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Partisans Printing Money

Right wingers must be jubilant today as the news spreads - a Federal judge has blocked parts of Arizona's Jan Crow laws.

Both the judge's opinions and the reaction of illegal immigration supporters couldn't have been worded any better to feed continued right-wing paranoia and narrative. And we all know that means the Breitbarts, Limbaughs, Becks, and Hannities of the world will be printing money on the air for the rest of this week as they sell further indignant outrage.

Especially because this issue will be the only news this week, what with media reports that the BP Oil Catastrophe is "vanishing", and everyone, just everyone is asking where's the oil.

This week, no one will question the effectiveness of and political motivations behind Gov. Jindal's jetties. No one will challenge the attempted whitewashing of the Bush era Minerals Management Service and history. And no one will worry about the beaches or the plankton that may be affected. The kids are back at school, after all, and we're grillin' steaks, not shrimp.

And we have this Arizona thing to worry about - the wierd debate that focuses only on symptoms (and people's resulting feelings about the symptoms) and not on the actual problems. While we will go the extra mile to crack down on the folks who come here illegally, we like to ignore the folks who hire them illegally. While we worry about how "racist" illegal immigration opponents are, we like to ignore the fact that most illegals in this country are subject to brutal working and living conditions, with wages far below what they should be, creating a type of modern slavery that should be abhorrent to anyone with a clear perspective.

So we'll argue about a law that pisses off some people, and then we'll argue about the people getting pissed off that other people are pissed off. We'll be no closer to solving the problem, but a bunch of pundits and organizations on either side of this "issue" will have made millions more in contributions and advertising dollars.

Because there is no money to be made by actually addressing the real problems with illegal immigration.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Yellow Brick Road

Yes, I am still seething about the Shirley Sherrod hit, now being doubled down upon by the right-wing and the media. Even though the entire right-wing narrative apparatus has been found fraudulent on this issue, their position has been so strong and unchallenged for so many years that they are still painting "surrender, Dorothy" smoke signals in the sky.

When did the political and media establishments in this country become such cowardly lions; so weak-kneed that they just bow and scrape to right-wing political narrative? Are they so scared to be called the "liberal media" that they will do anything to appear balanced?

Because funny time is over. If perception is reality, then shit may really end up smelling like roses, at this rate, because Andrew "Behind the Curtain" Brietbart told you so.

Let me get this straight,

Breitbart took a speech about racial unity and, through video editing, turned it into a speech about hate. He misrepresented it in such a way to sell his product, a narrative that President Barack Obama and members of his administration are racists.

He's a good enough salesman that not only did the usual suspects buy his ruby slippers, but so did members of the Obama Administration.

Once exposed as a bold-faced fraud, Breitbart then tried to lie his way out of it, by suggesting that the video was really about other kids, and phantom audience reactions were something other than what they are.

And yet, according to the right wing (hell, even a lot of regular conservatives whose opinions I respect on so many other issues), it is Shirley Sherrod, the NAACP and the Obama administration doing the race baiting and lying. Any individual with the temerity to point out that Brietbart got caught lying to sell his snake oil, any individual with the stones to point out that Fox News and the right-wing sphere of influence swallowed this horsesh-t and asked for more - those individuals are the race-baiting liars.

(Though it is acceptable behavior to criticize the Obama administration and the NAACP for jumping the gun and not actually investigating what was going on. Though the "liberals" won't do this. Mainly because some people refuse to acknowledge when "liberals" criticize the "Chosen One," because that strains the "truth" behind a completely seperate right-wing narrative. See how that works?)

That's such reality-resistant marketing that for his efforts, he recieved not the disgrace and disdain he deserved, but accolades. The Republican Party wants to trot out this individual to raise money. Because that's what is important to Republicans, these days. Not policy, not governing, not even tax cuts - it is all about marketing, because that's all they have.

But my biggest problem is the lack of calling shenanigans on shenanigans. Breitbart got caught lying to sell his product. His odious falsehood got someone fired for doing their job. I mean, if all "racists" were able to save the family farm of the people they were discriminating against, no one would complain about racism again, ever.

For all intents and purposes, Breitbart's career should be spectacularly over at this point, and anyone who has used him as a source in the past should be re-checking what they've written or said to make sure it isn't really about Lollipop Land. A lot of credibility should be suspect, here. Lord knows, if this had been a member of the "liberal" media, the disgrace would be piled high.

However, for some reason, this situation is nebulous. We're back to the dangers of reality-bending narrative and the power of people to delude themselves. We're back to the dangers of "balance," when "balance" too often has been used to refute reality.

Tom Scocca blogs about the confusion of the Washington Post. But there is also a larger point to be made:

Some people believe that an Ivy-educated establishment striver who put Wall Street loyalists like Tim Geithner and Larry Summers in charge of the economy is really a Muslim Communist demagogue and a sleeper agent who used time-travel powers to forge his own birth announcement. Other people believe that those people's passion might be grounded in something other than the president's performance and policy agenda.


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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hard Choices

Eleven unpaid furlough days for City of New Orleans workers. New NOPD restructuring and overtime controls. A 10% pay cut for the mayor and his staff.

Sound familiar? Just like so many cities and states, and even the nation itself, New Orleans' government was spending too much money with too little result, but the bills still come due.

And what was that money being spent on?

“The city of New Orleans has been living beyond her means, and the city has not even made good on delivering the services that it was budgeted to deliver,”


Years ago, I said that every major problem we face as a United States is a problem both present and exaggerated in New Orleans. I don't think I can make a clearer case than that statement right there. We pay taxes, the government spends more tax dollars than are available for exactly zero return on investment.

On the local level, this means New Orleans' roads are full of potholes, we have the highest murder rate in the nation and our schools are falling apart. On the national level this means we build crappy levees, have no regulation of the oil industry or Wall Street, and have been engaged in armed conflict with two fourth-rate powers for years without winning (Afganistan 2002, Iraq 1991).

The Mayor continued:

“We are living in tough times, and we are living in tough times because other folks made bad decisions and we have to correct all of those things.”


How many times will we have to hear these words? Because those "other folks" were fairly elected officials, too. And by elected, I mean that a majority of the voting population put them there in the course of free and fair elections.

That is the one overwhelming similarity between the local, state and national governments over the past decade that now have us looking at our ledgers now with despair - We the People elected them all.

I will say this until I die: Voting is the absolute least you can do to change things. If you don't like the way things are, get involved and stay involved. The governments that affect your life the most are your local and state governments, where your earnestly participating voice is the loudest; where you can affect the most change.

I also guarantee that if you are a Yellow Dog Democrat or a Dyed-In-The-Wool Republican, and you get involved with your local party or candidates, you will realize that the other side is not the problem you think it is.

You don't have to wait on a President or a Party to deliver Hope and Change to you when you can go out and make it for yourself. And as much fun as it is to pretend you are part of some Republic-saving revolution, it is the more mature course of action to attend boring civic meetings*.


* - They don't have to be boring if you bring friends and start changing civic culture for the better.

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Remove I-10 Over Claiborne

Just a little additional research on how freeways destroy neighborhoods and strangle a city's vitality.

Sound like any neighborhoods in any cities you know? As someone who rides his bike from a vibrant neighborhood in Mid-City to both the Quarter/Mariny/Bywater and Uptown, I can tell you that the worst part of my commute in either direction occurs within blocks of when I cross the interstate/freeway.

People get upset when talking about taking down the I-10 over North Claiborne. They say this will mean less people from Slidell coming to the CBD to spend their money. I thought those folks spent their money in Slidell.

Then they say it will cause too much traffic on the surface streets. But with no one coming to New Orleans from Slidell, I don't know how that happens.

They also say this will cut off parts of New Orleans to the East. But we can keep the interstate terminus on Elysian Fields to move traffic into that side of town.

And then there is the very conservative position: it will cost more money to maintain the elevated interstate over North Claiborne than to tear it down.

(Link HT: to the Daily Dish.


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Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Emotion of Impending Doom

Watch therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour.
-Matthew 25:13


I may not be from New Orleans, but I absolutely understand the "I keep waiting for it to be taken away from me" feeling Pistolette describes in her must-read post.

One of the earliest memories I haven't been able to drink away comes from when I was 3 or 4 years old, and having to go into the basement of my parents' house in Birmingham, Alabama because a tornado was nearby. I asked what would happen if it hit, and my parents told me it would destroy our brick house and everything in it. I still have nightmares about the feeling of the carpet on the stairway while my face leaned against the cool wall underneath the rail.

A year or so later we moved to an island off the coast of Georgia. When hurricanes came up, we'd evacuate to the mainland and hunker down in the Federal facility where my father worked. You could watch some waves wash over the seawall and pour salt water down the street to the front of my elementary school. When Hugo came, and everyone had to leave, my mom drove me and my brother around the island with tears in her eyes, just looking at all the things she may never see again.

Hugo turned north, and shredded a future friend's community in South Carolina. I got to hear about it in college when we met.

The first time I drove cut nails, hung insulation, replaced moldy drywall and painted the new was in 2004, after the remnants of Ivan flooded my best friends' house - in Athens, Georgia. And I was just there a few weekends, they had to deal with it for months.

I got to New Orleans in 2006. The most strongly shared cultural trait I had with those who lived here was the "it can all be taken away from me" feeling, in some form of past, present or future tense.

Because it doesn't matter where you live or what can take it away. The only question is how much fantasy do you wrap yourself in to convince yourself you are secure? How much trouble do you make for yourself mitigating risks you have little control over?

Last fall, while attending a funeral for a friend who had lost his fight with cancer, rain soaked a nearby city and flooded hundreds of homes. Two uncontrollable forces, taking. For the next six months, I got to read Facebook updates from friends about their FEMA check, their insurance company, their lost things, their building supplies, their remediation efforts, and finally the finished products.

That city was Atlanta, over 300 feet above sea level.

It can all be taken away, any time any place. We know not the day nor the hour.

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Crud



Tropical Depression 3. Not good news.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

End of an Era

Since time moves much faster on the internet, it feels like I've been reading David Hale's online coverage of the University of Georgia Bulldawgs for decades. That era ends today. I wish him well as he travels to the north.

But he left us a great quote from the finale:

The path of the righteous Dawg is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil Gators. Blessed is he, who in the name of Todd Grantham and Warren Belin, shepherds defensive linemen through the line of scrimmage, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of scrambling quarterbacks. And Houston will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy his secondary. And you will know he's an All-American when he lays his vengeance upon thee.


Hale aslo gave a parting gift by letting me know that Hey, Jenny Slater! is back in business. Outstanding.

Though, now that he's gone, who's gonna show Ben any blog love now? Guess I'll have to add that'n to the blogroll, Creswell solidarity and all that.

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Refudiate This

Jay Bookman is right on the money to compare the right-wing hit against Shirley Sherrod (and I don't care what Brietbart says now, this was all about Shirley Sherrod) with the "Ground Zero Mosque" bullshit.

Because this is nothing BUT bullshit. Like bad gangsta rap, the Ground Zero narrative is a manufactured controversey designed only to rile up the most hyper-defensive and willfully ignorant of our fellow citizens. It has nothing at all to do with reality, and everything to do with filling the coffers of right wing extremists with stupid people's money. Fear. Sells.

Irrational fear sells better.

If you don't think so, talk to the Monkey God.

The Tea Party needs exactly zero condemnations from the NAACP about racism when one of their big names keeps sounding like one.

Where are the real conservatives to "refudiate" this nonsense?

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The Full Sherrod Video

Just in case there are those of you who missed the link Alli brought us on the last post about this.

There have been greater misrepresentations, I'm sure. But I'm at a loss to think of any at this current time. Shirley Sherrod was demonized by the right-wing media of blogs, radio and Fox News; and then abandoned by the NAACP (when it mattered) and the Obama administration.

All for a speech about history, personal tragedy, overcoming prejudice and racial unity.

Because why would we need to hear about any of those difficult subjects in our progress-resistant culture today? We're much happier screaming at one another about fantasies. Let us rid ourselves of anyone who dares speak one moment of uncomfortable truth.

If the stink of shame, shame does not choke us on this one we may be beyond help. Disgust does not begin to describe my mood.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Responding to Ongoing Disasters

Christopher Beam at Slate extrapolates how a Republican president might have handled the response to BP's Oil Gusher. The short answer? Not much differently. Can't argue with that.

Many people will mistake this as "liberals defending" Obama's response efforts, and Beam drifts close to doing so. This should not the case.

This should be less "they do it, too" and more "y'all both suck." But I'll tell ya, I'm bout damn sick and tired of Republicans crowing about Obama screwing this up as if their political aspirations in Washington are more important than the United States Gulf Coast. I won't even discuss the lowness of esteem I have for the clowns on right-wing radio after all this.

It is truly frightening that with all the power that has collected at the hands of the imperial presidency, the executive branch has proven unable to marshal resources effectively to respond to multiple catastrophes. Party affiliation or ideology has zero to do with it.

That being said, it could be worse. We could be in these shoes.

And that's not a defense of our current progress-resistant society's supposed superiority. That's just a warning of where we're going if we don't get our shit together.

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State of the City

Its been a few days, but I've been out of town.

Pistolette wraps up Mayor Landrieu's first State of the City address. She hits pretty much all the important parts, from the actual problems outlined, to the self-depreciating and unhelpful cliches this city sells itself as, to the fact that none of the local TV stations covered the speech live.

the reason Mitch did this speech so early in his term was because he was doing a bit of CYA (cover your ass). He needed to let people know up front how bad things were, because HE didn’t know how bad they were, and therefore had to change the scale of his goals. And the voters needed to adjust their expectations. This speech was a necessary (albeit painful) start.


You'd think that, with the current state of things, station directors might take the local government's behaviors more seriously. I know that's difficult after the last 8 years.

Culturally, compare that to the 24 hours of mostly useless opinion-as-news you can get on any of our eleventeen cable news channels. Bread and circuses, yelling at one another while everything goes to hell, and focus on our national telenovela in Washington. I can't imagine the sea change all over America if people stopped worrying about ACORN and gay marriage and started investigating the budgets of their local school boards.

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Of Farms & Racism

I wonder what my little brother will say when faced with real lying sacks...

Contrast this bullshit from Fox News, including Hannity and Gingrich with the story from the actual folks down in Georgia.

But Spooner, who considers Sherrod a "friend for life," said the federal official worked tirelessly to help the Iron City couple hold onto their land as they faced bankruptcy back in 1986.


Apparently, you have to actually watch the video clip entirely and talk to the people involved to find out that Sherrod was telling the story as a lesson on growing beyond racism. The craziest part? She ended up saving the white man's farm.

Thank goodness more people are picking up on this. Shame on the Obama administration for getting rid of this official without all the facts being known. Shame on the NAACP for trying to appear "balanced" to make up for their ludicrous Tea Party nonsense last week. And shame on the knee-jerk, spintastic journalism of Fox News and right-wing radio and blogs.

Apparently, the "Obama hires racist black people" meme is more important than actually saving family farms.

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Fun With Charts

Team Speed Kills examines offensive and defensive production from SEC and some of the big national college football brands from last year - in graphic form.


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Monday, July 19, 2010

You Lying Sack...

Sept. 9, 2009

July 16, 2010

When the linchpin of your legal argument is that the government has the power to lay and collect taxes, you probably shouldn't spend so much time claiming something isn't a tax.

Friday, July 16, 2010

BP Claims the Leak Has Stopped

Well, BP is claiming the oil well leak has stopped. I'll believe it when an independent source verifies it. But just in case it is true:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

New Media & Local Politics

These days, a lot of people complain about politics and the excesses of government and business reaching into their daily lives. I am no exception.

When friends talk to me with complaints about politics or policy, and the conversation ends up with an exasperated hands-thrown-in-the-air statement about how bad things are and how they will never change, I remind them that their voice is loudest at the local and state levels. I remind them that those places control most of the decisions affecting their lives, and where their involvement and activism will bring about the most change. I also tell them that, despite their political investments in certain parties or ideologies, their involvement at a local level will open their eyes to the warts that afflict all levels of our politics, even those of their own side.

That last is always the most difficult for most of them to hear.

One prime example is how citizen involvement is actively changing New Orleans, a place with traditional and deeply entrenched interests who are often resistant to change. Here are just a few examples of how individuals and the new media have affected local policy. These stories get picked up by local, state and in some cases, nationa, media. They have been able to keep the heat on local politicians, and have affected decisions as high up as the US Department of Justice. (HT: Karen Gadbois)

You don't have to wait on a President or a Party to deliver Hope and Change to you when you can go out and make it for yourself.

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Thursday, July 08, 2010

Ticking Time Bomb

Jeffery appraises how dangerous drilling the Gulf can be, especially when all market and government regulations fail.

And I'm still not seeing any positive policy alternatives from the right.

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Shooting Irons

DADvocate points us to a DailyKos examination of why liberals should embrace the 2nd Amendment.

I completely agree. And if you'd like to argue the historical pedigree of firearms ownership as a vital civil right, I will dare you to deconstruct a political consensus acheivable by both Clarence Thomas and Malcolm X. Let me give you a clue, it involves how the 2nd Amendment works with the 14th.

Though I find much of the liberal sentiment against the 2nd Amendment to be both assumed and dated. A lot of liberals and Democrats gave up the nationwide push to unreasonably restrict firearms some time ago, if they ever really held such views in the first place.

I think most of the political hay that is made over gun ownership is branding and narrative and fund-raising over actual policy. And even that has become mostly one sided.

From what I can tell, most of our national policy disagreements hinge on the minutia of firearms regulation and red tape. I have zero problem with many gun-ownership "restrictions": felons and mentally infirm individuals should have limited access, and I have no problem whatsoever with background checks. Hell, I can't do volunteer work without a background check!

Furthermore, I have zero problem on assault-weapons and machine-gun bans, or restricting ownership of the same to certified collectors and properly trained individuals. Speaking of certifications, I would have no problem with a licensing structure for firearms ownership. If I have to get a driver's license before I can drive, I would be OK with a gun-owner's license to own a gun.

As a matter of fact, I'd be more comfortable with that, because verification would be easier when dealing with authorities. I can guarantee you that right now, if I were to be stopped for a speeding ticket by any Southern State Patrol, and I had a gun in my car, I'm getting arrested. It wouldn't matter that I'm the "liberal" and the arresting officer would likely be the "conservative," I don't look like I'm going hunting for deer, so I would end up in cuffs until one of my lawyers made some calls.

God help me if I'm wearing a red bandana at the time of the stop.

And that leads us to the "whys" behind the Washington and Chicago handgun "bans." Bad policy knows no party, and are kept in continuance by both due to convenience. Just like test scoring in current education policy and the criminalization of marijuana in drug policy, the criminalization of handguns in DC and Chicago is a way for elected officials to appear to be doing something while the situation they are responsible for remains a disaster. Arguments over handgun policy keep the electorate from wondering why their neighborhoods remain crime ridden centers for the concentration of poverty. Police have a reason to arrest anyone with the temerity to defend themselves from assailants on the streets, and that reason can easily be enforced selectively.

Finally, I look at the direct line between Clarence Thomas' concurring opinion and the fact that DC and Chicago have large minority populations under the jurisdiction of handgun bans. In the strange land of doublespeak, these so-called "liberal" policies have ended up making at-risk populations less able to defend themselves, their families and their property.

The 2nd Amendment is true policy based in the traditions of liberalism and the enlightenment. On the other hand, legal weakening of at-risk populations is a continuation of disenfranchisement more consistent with the worst elements of an oppresive and feudal past.

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Rock Bottom?

UGA is looking for a new Athletic Director, and Michael Adams is the President of this university. Adam's decision-making over the past years have often given me reason to despair for the state of my alma mater, but he seemed to take the makeup of the selection committee seriously.

I am reminded, however, that there are two reasons yet to hope:

after the sordid saga set forth in lurid detail in the police incident report describing the events of one week ago, it is hard to imagine matters getting much worse without a meteor shower obliterating Athens, so we’re either about to start moving in the right direction or we’re about to be destroyed en masse.
Emphasis mine.

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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Oil Spill Fatigue

If the more Americans hear about something, the more tired they get of it, why would the powers that be want the press to stop taking pictures?

Of course, the "ethanol is better for the oceans" fantasy wasn't ready for rollout yet. We'll see how much changes now that "pesticide & fertilizer, baby" is primed to replace "drill, baby, drill."

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Tailgate Prep

Florida style.

because after six or seven beers the soul cries for nothing more than the holy union of batter and chicken united by hot oil


No wonder Spencer Hall always waxes eloquent about college football in Baton Rouge. No wonder we don't play Georgia-Florida games in Athens or Gainseville.

Football season can't get here fast enough.

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When School Systems Stopped Doing Their Jobs

Good articles at Slate today.

When Did It Get So Hard to Fire Teachers? today's Explainer asks. They give the long-form answer. The short-form answer is the title of this post.

I'll continue with my cultural explanation:

Back in the "good ole days" that Libertairans and Republicans like to mythologize, the reality of our nation was blatantly feudalistic and racist. Teachers had to unionize and fight, and fight hard, for the right to be fired for cause.

Because before then, they could be fired because for any reason, from not doing their jobs to not doing the principal when he demanded it.

When laws forced school system administrators to actually state reasons for terminating employment, it kinda sucked to be a school system administrator. There is, after all, no fun in actually educating children when compared to handing out political favors and yelling "off with their heads."

Since then, every problem with schools has been blamed on the teachers, because somehow, requiring a legitimate reason to fire a teacher eliminated all system administrator ability to "improve schools."

So, instead of working with teachers to create better teacher training, support them in the classroom, and reward good teachers (who show results) with tenure, the politicians and administrators decided an adversarial relationship with teachers was more appropriate.

With a robust adversarial relationship developed, teachers' unions concerned themselves mainly with opposing school system administrators and vice versa. Each political side had a stake and a narrative. And we all know how institutionally effective our systems work when politics and narrative are at stake.

You'll notice that actually improving schools and education becomes a secondary or tertiary concern, if it is a concern at all.

This is why test scores are so important from a policymaking standpoint these days - they are the only "legitimate reason" most incompetent school system administrators can employ to fire teachers. Otherwise, they might have to prove their own competency by actually evaluating the employees and systems they are responsible for.

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Feminist Blogs Follow Right-Wing Marketing Formula?

Emily Gould examines how Jezebel and others generate page views by selling outrage and insecurity.

In other news, water still wet; sun predicted to set to west later this evening.

Same. As. It. Ever. Was.



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Sunday, July 04, 2010

Morals of the Story

Reports from North Georgia are telling us that UGA President Michael Adams has asked for and recieved UGA Athletic Director Damon Evans' resignation.

That's what a very public DUI will do for you, especially when you are the face of UGA's anti-drink and drive public service announcements. Multiply that by trying to get out of the arrest by using your locally prestigious title. Triple that by having a 28 year old woman who is not your wife in your car at midnight on a weeknight, and double your ending score by having her red panties on your lap when the Georgia State Trooper walks up to your window.

There is a reason Evans was weeping openly by the time he realized arrest was imminent. Prior to his decisions on that fateful night, he was living a near locked-in lifetime appointment of employment and prestige at what can only be considered a dream job. I'll let John Lee tell yabout what happens next.

Bulldawg Nation now must hope against hope that Il Duce Michael Adams will replace Evans, who, despite the recent meltdown, has done a splendid job as Athletic Director for the last six years. We have to hope he'll go against his baser nature of appointing political cronies, yes men or assorted members of his entourage and choose someone who knows something about athletics.

Especially since we have two fine candidates right off the bat.

You can put me on Team Carla. But I'm all about seamless transitions, continuity and not fixing what ain't broke.

But Option McGarity doesn't seem a bad choice, either.

If we could get either of those two, I would be quite happy with the choice.

More reasoned and insightful commentary can be found at DawgSports, to whose editors and contributing writers I must tip my hat for most of these links and ideas.

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All that being said, let me just add that I'm shocked to discover a staggering number of individuals across the Southland who have taken delight in Evans' fall from grace.

I had no idea there were so many good folks who are such vehicular teetotalers or stalwarts of family values that they do not even associate with folks who have DUI's or cheated on their spouse. One might think they'd be prouder of their lifestyles than their anonymous AJC.com comments might indicate.

More vexing is seeing that type of attitude from certain folks in the UGA community, especially considering the rather colorful and flagrant personal life of at least one sitting member of our Board of Regents.

I'm sure I will have to serve up more than one tall, frosty mug of STFU to certain individuals during my upcoming Island City vactation.

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Saturday, July 03, 2010

Maybe if Anderson Cooper Says It

People might start paying attention to the restrictions on members of the press to document the oil catastrophe.

Hopefully, this will teach members of the press that they have cultivated cozy relationships with politicians who will restrict their access to a story regardless.

Because, the only thing the government agencies and big business should fear more than allowing the press to photograph and investigate should be not allowing the press to photograph and investigate.

Right now, government and big business fear neither. That needs to change.


HT DADvocate

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Friday, July 02, 2010

Unenthusiastic Whale

Is unenthusiastic.

Call me crazy, but I just can't understand the wierd, complacent quotes and media hit against new oil-skimming technology in this article.

Let's say you had a huge problem on your hands, like maybe the greatest environmental catastrophe in United States history. Oil is destroying fragile wetlands in Louisiana and beaches from Mississippi to Florida. It is killing all sorts of wildlife in horrible ways. It's bad, and your efforts to clean it up aren't getting the job done quickly enough. Things are so bad, you've ordered extra machines designed by Kevin Costner, because you want to use every working method at your disposal.

Then somebody shows up with a supertanker designed to suck up 500,000 gallons of oily water a day and seperate the oil from the water. It may not work, that's the risk of something new, but if it does...500,000 gallons a day.

And you're like, "Oh, well, park it over there with the rest of the stuff we aren't using. We'll get back to you." After that, you tell the media "we don't think this will have a big impact at all, we're still just screwed so we might as well accept that fact and move on."

Then the media does a front page article full of disappointing quotes and investigates the vessel owners' risk/reward motives?

What?

I can understand if no one wants to kiss this company's ass (if only they were an oil company, right?) before we know if the tech will work, but what is up with the hit before we've even seen it in action?

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A New Level of Meta

A friend of a friend has a blog called InfoVegan, and it has nothing to do with your diet-diet.

It does have a lot to do with your "information diet," however, and it appears the author thinks you've had waay to many information trans-fats. I know I have.

In one post, he deconstructs "transparency".


Data makes watchdogging possible, sure, but more data makes watchdogging harder. Plus, for the transparency solution to work, people have to actually care enough to watchdog.


Long read, but very worthwhile.

Another one, Dealing With Information Overload describes the problem but also includes what you can do to prevent it.


For instance: if you find yourself agreeing or disagreeing with the information you’re consuming, you’re diet is probably unhealthy. You’re consuming too much opinion and not enough fact.


This is some good stuff.

Update Saturday: Maitri has a similar post about information digestion.

Julie Starr of Evolving Newsroom makes a compelling case for consumers going to the news and actively filtering it instead of waiting for repetitive and useless bits of it to wash over us.



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Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Jones Act

Is one of the things the right wing is attempting to use in criticism of the Obama administration's response to the BP Macondo Oil Gusher.

Fail.

Talk about an "aside used to push an agenda"! Maybe if the memebers of the political class would spend more time criticizing real problems instead of digging around in the pile of laws they would already like to see repealed, they may have a little more credibility. Hell, if they did that, we may even get a little good policy out of this on the downslope.

But no, I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for them to do so.

Arguing about this irrelevant law does zero to alleviate the catastrophe on the coast, but it scores political points with the base and blames the excesses of industry on union thuggery! Win-win for the Right. Lose-Lose for the rest of us.

Please note, this does not excuse the Administration's kneejerk defenders, who are pointing out the paltry amount of international aid currently put to use in the Gulf as if it is something to crow about. Fifteen ships and 4 miles of boom deployed in useless fashion will get this spill cleaned up in roughly 4,000 years.

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Taking Down the Tent

I guess I really did hit a nerve calling the Georgia "Dome" the world's largest tent.

But seriously, I have never understood why there is a deeply entrenched faction of Atlanta folks who want to tear down their perfectly reasonable football stadium and replace it with something different. I've seen games in the Georgia "Dome," and it is a pleasant game watching experience.

But I guess having three major College Football events dominate your NFL Stadium is one of those things that causes friction.

Here's one idea for a stadium replacement. I read it, and this new design is a perfectly reasonable stadium concept.

But Atlanta already has a nice stadium. The Georgia "Dome" is booked solid during football season - are the owners losing money on it? If so, somebody better check the books. They should be making their operating costs back from hosting the SEC Championship Game alone - one of the most prestigious events in any American football year.

But sometimes that just isn't enough. Reading through the proposals, some things did strike me as interesting:

A. Making the stadium seating capacity smaller. More club seats = mo' money. That's the rationale behind any discussion of building a new stadium, and we shouldn't pretend otherwise.

B. The artificial creation of fanatic fan zones. The "Falcon's Nest" with a terrace tailgating tie-in. As a College Football devotee and Saints fan, I have to say that if you have to deliniate where and when your fans go crazy for your team, you just don't have the fanbase you need to support such things. Just go ahead and rename your franchise the "Tampa Baja Norte Falcones" and let the old folks watch the games, too.

Related, as a Georgia fan, I have to say I am quite tired of "fake juice." Black jerseys, special stadium sections for fanatic followers and coffee are for closers.

C. More than one refrence to the Saints. Yes, I am including the comments section, because this is a post about architecture. You know a team has gotten into an opponent's head when you personally name their quarterback as the victim of the theoretical noise created by your proposed "fanatic" fan zone.

Listen, y'all. Drew Brees' home stadium is the SUPERDOME, which is the loudest stadium without a tie-in to an institution of higher learning or a fan base carrying vuvuzelas. He deals with louder, more distracting fans while doing warm ups for home games than your fake juice will put in his head when playing anywhere else.

Hell, he deals with louder, more distracting fans while mowing his lawn.

D. The biggest critics of a new stadium in Atlanta, and the folks I most agree with, come from adherents to college football. Please see Dawgsports (and +1 for the S.H.E.I.L.D. refrence) and Mr. College Football, who remind Falcons owner Arthur Blank that Atlanta is first and foremost a college football town.

True Dat.

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Louisiana Brown Pelicans Released in Georgia

And not just anywhere in Georgia, but the place where I grew up.

Now if we can only amend Glynn County ordinances to allow street music and go-cups - hell, Savannah already has a streetcar. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all.

While y'all are droppin' off them pelicans, could you pick up some road paving equipement for the return trip?

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Tune In

Today, at 10am Central, members of the To Be Continued Brass Band will be live on WWOZ talking about their music and the enforcement of New Orleans' 8pm music curfew in the French Quarter.

Catch it online if you aren't in the broadcast area. There's even an App for that for your mobile device.

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