Thursday, September 30, 2010

Scared Money

During the Donnan years, I hated the non-conference scheduling practices of the University of Georgia. Each year, it seemed, the Dawgs might feast on some I-AA team and then get played close by the UAB's and UCF's of the world. Each year, the Dawgs seemed to play down to thier weaker opponents. These games were always noon kickoffs and bunched towards the start of the season. When Georgia played these games, I always enjoyed the game but I longed to watch a contest with more meaning.

Despite the recent downturn in the Wins and Losses column, I still feel that way.

I remember the Boise State game, and how big of a deal that was. I remember that Damon Evans booked Colorado and Louisville when those programs looked like they were on the upswing. Scheduling home and aways with Arizona State and Oregon made me proud of the Athletic Department's fearlessness. The Clemson games were some of the best gameday atmospheres I've ever experienced.

Now it feels like we're back to playing with scared money. Charleston Southern? Georgia Southern? Why not just go for the whole hog, drop the Florida pretenses and move to the Boise State model: I'm sure UGA would own the Sun Belt conference, and I hear the Big East may be looking for new members, these days.

The "everybody else is doing it, so why don't we?" excuse is just that. I am never happy to see a I-AA opponent on Georgia's schedule. Not that anybody asked me, but, really?

Why allow 12 regular season games at all, if you aren't even going to play in your division? And let's not even entertain an Appalachian State at Michigan/James Madison at Virginia Tech doomsday scenario, and what that would do to the already fragile psyche of the current Georgia fanbase. Hell, half of those people already want to throw tradition to the wind and move the Georgia-Florida game out of Jacksonville. Actually losing to the Eagles from Statesboro may cause them to shut down the whole damn football program out of spite.

I will admit, a huge trip out west every single year may be a bit much, but those of use who desired a more robust schedule didn't require marquee opponents every single week or obnoxious travel conditions.

Georgia has real opponents nearby, who would maintain the national exposure, affect recruiting and keep the travel costs low. Clemson comes immediately to mind, and Florida State isn't that far from Valdosta.

Hell, I hear Chick-fil-a is even setting up big, out-of-conference tilts to start the college football year in primetime in Atlanta.

You know Atlanta, Georgia?

This isn't the Gatorization of the University of Georgia football program, it is the rebirth of Donnanism.


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Last Ditch Effort

Charlie Melancon goes where everyone thought he would in the home stretch: David Vitter's lurid history.

Three things:

1. I can only imagine the butt of talk radio jokes that would be made if Vitter was a member of the Democratic Party. These ads are tame in comparison.

2. Considering Vitter's defense against this sort of attack, I wonder how "Dollar Bill" Jefferson feels about not apologizing to God for his own "serious sins." I mean, if God grants you forgiveness, shouldn't the voters?

3. Credibility, credibility, credibility.

I don't really care what Vitter does in his bedroom, but scandal levels-up when someone campagins as the Family/Traditional American Values candidate. It matters when someone acts in these ways and continues to cast stones.

And if he lied to his own wife, wouldn't he lie to voters? This is the same guy who rubber stamped all the spending excesses and civil liberties rollbacks of the Bush White House. He's one of the guys who got us to where we are today. And now, he's about some fiscal responsibility?

Tell me another one.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Turning Back the Clock

Matt Taibbi pens the opposition's guide to the Tea Party, and it is one hell of an article. It follows Rand Paul's descent from outsider libertarian icon to insider Republican in both terms of support and platform.

But its main point is an examination of the Tea Party mindset. Now, I know my conservative friends don't want to hear this, but what is written describes with stunning accuracy the things I hear from many of the folks on talk radio, Facebook or at social gatherings when they see my skin color, baseball cap and collared shirt and think I'm part of their club. What he describes are not real conservative thought processes, though they are marketed as such politically.

By doing so, he inadvertently enunciates my main problem with the Tea Party specifically, and the overall GOP narratives since at least 2000, on page 2:

Everyone who disagrees with them is a radical leftist who hates America.

It would be inaccurate to say the Tea Partiers are racists. What they are, in truth, are narcissists. They're completely blind to how offensive the very nature of their rhetoric is to the rest of the country. I'm an ordinary middle-aged guy who pays taxes and lives in the suburbs with his wife and dog — and I'm a radical communist? I don't love my country? I'm a redcoat? Fuck you! These are the kinds of thoughts that go through your head as you listen to Tea Partiers expound at awesome length upon their cultural victimhood, surrounded as they are by America-haters like you and me or, in the case of foreign-born president Barack Obama, people who are literally not Americans in the way they are.

It's not like the Tea Partiers hate black people. It's just that they're shockingly willing to believe the appalling horseshit fantasy about how white people in the age of Obama are some kind of oppressed minority. That may not be racism, but it is incredibly, earth-shatteringly stupid.


And you can try to say this is some sort of fringe or "gotcha" journalism where Taibbi goes after the most ludicrous quotes just to make the story, but the GOP has established their mainstream bonafides of this way of thinking. You can view this hyperbolic part of the Republican mission statement here, if you're having trouble believing me.

There is only one place this administration leads us to a socialist, fascist America. It is the same place this nation has come to where we are today from some idyllic past where everyone was free and prosperous and life was simpler for everyone. That place is the Land of Make Believe.


(HT's: Jeffrey's Facebook, and The Daily Dish)

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One of the Best Ideas

There aren't a lot of ideas in this world that go on to become absolute success stories, acheiving everything they hoped to accomplish and more; becoming vital parts of their local communities and enriching the culture of an entire city. Fewer ideas can do this when their main focuses are on local music and health care for musicians. Fewer still are demonstrations of positivity grown out of heartbreak.

But in the last 10 years, Nuci's Space in Athens, Georgia has done all of these things.

Well done, ladies and gentlemen. Here's to the last ten years, and to the next ten.

Thank you.

Athens Music Junkie pens another Happy Birthday post to Nuci's.

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How Does Government Expand

Without Accountability?

One way this happens is when government agencies do whatever the hell they want, whenever the hell they want, and the governing organization is worrying about other stuff.

Maybe that's too harsh. But with no actual documentation demonstrating the temporary nature of "temporary" buildings, who can really say?

We'll leave alone the blank check issued by FEMA for this, while other projects like schools and hospitals and infrastructure projects get nickel and dimed for years. I have only so much rage for one day, after all.

And how is this allowable in the first place? I know folks who can't repair leaky roofs without visiting 12 city offices to acquire the appropriate raft of paperwork that allows them to modify their own property. There's got to be some paperwork somewhere with someone's signature authorizing this construction.

In comparison Athens-Clarke County voters will decide the fate of their jail by referendum. Though the 1 cent on the dollar sales tax hike would bring their sales tax to a whopping 7% compared to New Orleans already astronomical 10%, and the sales tax would automatically end after nine years. They even know how much money this is expected to generate, and where the money will go if raised.

And their project is in response to jail overcrowding without inhumane conditions, as they appear to pay nearby locations to house their overflow, while keeping actual records of the transfers.

But let me stop before I get to deep into the merits of a still-flawed but decidedly First World criminal justice facility. And I don't even want to delve into return on investment per tax dollar spent.

My intention was only to compare their level of citizen control to the level of control exhibited here.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

More Imagineering

Sponsored by Sprint, Newsweek has an interactive module that examines the future designs of three American cities if cost, history, aesthetic and culture were no object. New York, Los Angeles and, you guessed it: New Orleans!

There are a few good ideas in there, but the monorail thing just won't go away.

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I'm Done With Mark Richt(and no this isn't reactionary)

Anyone who has been around me in the last couple of days knows I was singing this song way before we lost to the perennial dormat of the SEC(also one of the worst teams in the nation BTW). While Cousin Pat has some stats on the coach that are impressive, I have a list of complaints that I feel are pretty damn legit, and anyone who has played NCAA Football on Playstation can understand. And you know what? I have all the confidence that Mr. Armstrong from Louisiana will actually agree with all my arguements here.

1.No clock Management- How many times can a coach burn through all his timeouts before switching fields for the second or fourth quarter. I'm not talking play-saving, wrong personnel for the situation timeouts. I'm just asking if we really need to hash it out on 4th and17 on our own 30. Should we punt, or shouldn't we? Let's talk it out and make sure we do the right thing. Never mind how many times we call it on the PAT to prevent a delay of game. Right there we're ill prepared for what to do, and in that situation, I'm just as confident in our kicker making a 22 yarder as a 17 yarder.

2.Atrocious Special Teams- I'm not talking kickers. They are always solid. I'm talking return teams. Did anyone else besides me catch on that our Elite 11 QB Logan Grey's only job for 2 years was to go out on punt returns and call a fair catch? The other side was actually scarier if we don't just kick the ball at the end zone and force a touchback. Who knew if we were going to allow a touchdown or commit a personal foul.

3.Play calling- OH MY FREAKING GOD!! Especially on third down. This is where I lose my mind. Between calling for Joe Tereshinski III draw plays on third and long all day against Florida, to the play-action pass on EVERY third and 8-or-more this year! This is a career-long habit. Down by 14 points against anybody in the fourth quarter, he just can't help but call for play-action, even when everybody in the world knows we're throwing. How about just calling a straight up pass so our 5-10 QB can actually look at the field before one of our overrated OL lets one in for an auto-sack. It worked once against UT with David Green at the helm, and he apparently just can't help himself anymore. I'm going to stop here, before I recap our entire season so far, and throw my computer out the window like so many remote controllers.

4.Lack of Discipline-You can say what you want about his high-end Christian values, but all you gotta do is take a look at our penalties on the field and the police blotter off it to see how tight a ship he runs.

5.Florida-This is an auto loss. No matter how good we are and how bad they are we lose every year. Our last win came to straight up shenanigans by charging the endzone. Any Dawgfan can agree on the amount of dread we all feel approaching that game.

6.Defense-In my opinion, our best coach in the last 15-20 years was Brian Van Gorder. He was the only one to show any consistent results. Considering we hired Richt for his offensive genius(ha,ha), Van Gorder produced defenses every year that could stop anybody, yet even paired with Richt's genius all we do is underachieve against all the teams around us.

These arguements are things most of us agreed on years ago when we liked Mark Richt. The hiring of Mike Bobo was directly to solve the problems of clock management and play calling(that's working out real well). All of our defensive successes are atributed to Van Gorder(not disputed). If it wasn't for having waaay above-average kickers(Billy Bennett, Blair Walsh, etc.) our special teams as a whole would be terrible. Zero discipline. Why is he here? What does he bring to the table? I used to think he was a good delegater. Between Martinez and Bobo that ain't it. He's got to go.

While yes I agree with Cousin Pat that we have seen some nice double digit win totals, they can't necessarily be attributed to quality UGA football. They all came with UT on a down cycle, and USC, Auburn and Tech all having relatively mediocre years. All these arguements tell me that we have seen the absolute best Mark Richt has to offer. After ten years as coach, he's been around long enough so we can now fire him and not look like a reactionary program on a down year, and we can get a head start on the hiring process before it's too late and start losing to the likes of Mississippi State(Ooops!! Too late!).

Why the GOP Is Going to Win in November

Because this is apparently the Democratic electoral strategy.

Color me stunned.

You get elected with a mandate for change, and then proceed to make minor, incremental changes that your political opponents use to cast you as a communist, fascist, Kenyan anti-colonial Muslim. Clinton had a more progressive record. Hell, Eisenhower probably had a more progressive record.

You withdraw, expecting blind support from your own side while leaving the debate to your political opponents, because you think if you are nice to them, they will stop acting like lunatics. You think that the American people will turn in disgust from their lunacy without you having to do anything, even though that flies in the face of every historical indication of American culture.

You allow revisions of the last 10 years of history to go unchallenged. Your administration embarasses itself by firing an official because some right-wing yahoo cuts and pastes video clips of her "racist" speech about overcoming racism. Then you allow the Democrats to throw Freedom of Religion under the bus because they are scared to stand for what is right against the onslaught of Republican demagougery. And that's just the politics.

On policy, you step back while the Pelosi/Reid situation in Congress gives us a politically disasterous, confusing and meekly submitted stimulus; a confusing health care plan that removes the majority of real progressive reform; Gitmo remains open, and the plan to actually bring the terrorists to trial has faltered; we double down in Afganistan without really doing what needs to be done to win that conflict; we leave 50,000 troops and a host of defense contractors in Iraq; some of the worst excesses of the drug war and the war on terror continue unabated. Don't Ask, Don't Tell, despite broad support for repeal, remains - even politically gamed to a defense spending bill.

Let me be clear - if I have to defend the Health Care Bill because it was originally a "conservative" idea, there's a reason your supporters aren't up for this go-round in November. Not a single one of your opponents voted for the bill, and yet it was their think tanks that proposed most of it. One of their Presidential candidates from the last go-round made something like this happen in Massachusetts with the help of their new Senator from Massachusetts. That was basically their bill, without disbanding Medicare and Medicaid to pay for it.

That means THEY got THEIR legislation passed while THEY were in the MINORITY and NOT A ONE OF THEM VOTED FOR IT.

Almost every time THEY have complained, this adminstration, with a majority in the House and the Senate, has backtracked. And you wonder why your own voters aren't motivated?

But at least we aren't torturing people for information anymore. Or so we hope. Not that anyone responsible for that repugnant behavior will ever be held accountable, we just chalk that up as another dark episode in America's history of dark episodes. Such is the price we pay for being the diminishing envy of the world.

On taxes, there is no urgency to revise the Bush Tax Plan to some reality-recognizing structure that may stop the government subsidization of the uberwealthy.

Our nation is facing fundamental challenges. Our economy has been unsustainable for nearly a generation now, and you're doing all you can to tinker with those changes so no one gets upset. That kind of consensus building might work when everyone is ready to accept reality and work towards real goals, but it absolutely fails when roughly half the electorate is foaming at the mouth to deny reality - and you entertain their concerns as legitimate while acting like your own supporters are the problem.

And on the Supreme Court you give us Elena Kagan. I sure hope you're right about that one, because I'm still scratching my head.

I'm not even ready to discuss the government reaction to the BP Oil Spill in any rational manner. My only solace in the administration's behavior regarding that situation comes from the deep faith that McCain/Palin would have made decisions far more destructive.

So, congratulations on being the least worst.

Did you actually believe that "Dear Leader/Obama is the Messiah" narrative that right-wing talk radio said about your supporters? Did you think we'd be happy just because you're you and your policies are a little better than Bush?

How does it feel that the majority of the electorate, in 2010, is going to go to the polls to vote directly against the "change" the vast majority voted for in 2008? How does it feel knowing the majority of your supporters will stay home and let the lunatics win the day? Maybe you'll think about that the next time you chose to leave your own supporters with their asses in the wind because you'd rather play ball with a GOP that wants nothing more than your destruction.

And you need to talk to those idiot Democrats in the House and Senate that can't understand the term "majority."

Don't get me wrong. I still support your administration. I knew you would deliver pragmatic reforms that would leave both extremes wanting. I recognize those changes you have made, and they are the Change I Still Believe In. I remain disappointed at the changes you have not made, especially the ones that should have been walks in the park. You've gotten an awful lot done in two years, but a lot of it isn't enough.

Thanks for the credit card thing, too.

You have to learn that there are political consequences to taking votes for granted. Don't worry, this has been a problem with Democrats for as long as I can remember.

You have to learn that there are political consequences to letting the other side control the debate, especially when their talking points have more to do with the Land of Make Believe and Playing Revolution than acknowledging reality. It only works when there are two competing narratives. Lunacy is only exposed when placed next to reality. You won this public debate resoundingly in 2008, so I know you know how.

And never, ever underestimate the majority eroding consequence of running ethically suspect Democrats for Congress.

But ignoring these political consequences by scolding your own supporters after the last two years, and telling us to "quit whining," is as tone-deaf and reality-denying as your most rabid opponents' wet dreams. Maybe when you wake up on that November morning to find your pragmatic, centrist agenda in ashes will you realize that ralling your own side isn't just something to do five weeks before an election.



(Update: Saturday, October 2. Welcome, Levees Not War readers. If I feel this way as a pragmatic, just-left-of-true-center Democratic voter, I can't imagine how y'all liberal Democrats feel.

Though maybe you're feeling better after Obama's Gen44 speech on Thursday night.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Same As It Ever Was

So, the GOP's "Pledge to America" will turn the clock back to the heady years of the slightly earlier 2000's, let's keep in mind the kind of folks who are going to get elected in this landslide come November.

Here's what your new represenative from North Carolina has to say about her campaign.

So, the GOP wants to return to the pre-Obama America that landed us in our current situation, while at the same time fanning the flames of culture war and hiding behind the fear-injection of xenophobia? Yes, the last time we went through all that worked out so well, let's wallow in it for a bit longer, shall we? I love being called a family hating, baby-killing, terrorist-sympathizing, government-handout-seeking, illegitimately voting, anti-American socio-communo-fascist peacenik.

(Wait a minute, that never actually stopped happening...)

And y'all wonder why I can't see as credible the words of a political party clamoring to turn back the clock (and calling me a family-hating, baby-killing, terrorist-sympathizing...well, you get the idea)?

We're not going to get out of this mess going backwards and appealing to the lowest common denominator through demagougery and fear. I'm willing to entertain plenty of economic solutions to our current situation unless they are attempts to solve the current crisis by retreading the ideas of the immediately preceeding crisis...

...while wrapping those ideas in the old shroud of lunacy and bigotry that has constantly plauged our nation's progress. I don't care for the whitewashing of history, either. These politics are the same as they ever were, playing off the same fears they always have, for the same purpose of installing power without substance.

Let’s stop reacting with disbelief, as if someone pulled the multiculturalist rug out from beneath our feet, only for us to land on our surprised asses in an America we’d never seen before.


No, this is the usual state of America. This rabid, fearful talk of armed overthrow and xenophobic rage-stoking. Our nation's progress actually arrives as the aberrations to our history, followed by a convenient amnesia that things were ever bad. The longing for the "good ole days" without historical context is imagineering a Disneyfied history at worst and revising the facts at best.

And don't think I'm giving one side a pass at the expense of the other, that line of thinking was consigned to the dustbin when Reid - himself a member of a minority religion viewed with suspicion by segments of the national population - threw under the bus a different minority religion viewed with suspicion by higher percentages of the national population. Way to keep America's political traditions alive in a bi-partisan way!

But don't get caught in the false-equivalency trap here: there is only one political party that has bought all-in to xenophobic demagougery as a campaign and fund-raising with a side of economic amnesia. Here's a hint: it is the political party still claiming a mantle of conservatism that is woefully undeserved. The ones most likely to win elections in November.

(HT: Daily Dish)

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I Get Around

Redirecting your attention to this examination of transit measuring figures.

That's an important read, as mass transit will become more important as the actual costs of oil production continue to be realized and more Americans - and our economy - will have to depend on such infrastructure.

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School Choice Fail

One of the constant narratives from the right is that "liberals" want to stop "school choice" reform because they want to keep students dumb (and voting "liberal") AND because making schools better somehow hurts teacher's unions.

Because, you know, no one who belongs to a union wants to work in an effective environment. < / rolled eyes >

But I digress. One of the selling points for "school choice" is that schools will be forced to "compete" for the best students. Right. That doesn't sound like a system that can be gamed, at all.

Here is your example of this "competition" in practice. Please note that this is also one of the biggest complaints about "school choice" from folks on the left - fear that non-white students will face discrimination in both intentional and unintentional ways. You can try to gloss over this nation's ugly history with public school and race all you want, and you can act like all those generations that came before haven't left us a legacy to deal with these days, but don't dismiss the seriousness that the same things might still be going on.

Not only that, but the fact that parents who complain about their childrens' treatment at the hands of the choice-based schools run the risk of creating more problems for their children. If your "choice" is your kid going to the "good" school, or making waves and risking your kid having to go to the "bad" school, you're going to keep your mouth shut and your head down.

Hell of a system, that. Especially with our Texas dominated textbook industry moving back to pre-Darwinian science and Inquisition-worthy surveys of religious history.

More on this from Leigh.

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Perspective

If this country put as much effort into the streets as we put into our sports, maybe we wouldn't have to read about days like today.

Especially when it comes this close to folks I know.

And, yeah, I know that's like comparing apples to something completely different, but that doesn't change the fact that I've heard far more outrage this year about the job status of UGA's football coach than I've heard outrage about the status of public schools in Georgia or crime in Atlanta. In New Orleans this week, I'm sure we'll hear much more about Garrett Hartley this week than about Jeremy Dalmon.

Now, don't confuse this for a guilt trip. I love sports.

I. Love. Sports.

But let us never forget that our teams control their destinies on the field of play, but WE control our own destinies with our votes and our voices once Sportscenter is turned off at night. All over this nation, there are people far more invested in their local sports franchise than in their own communities and their own government. All over this nation, people feel they have more power over the coaches calling plays than their own elected representatives.

Sports are a tremendous part of our national identity and culture, and rightly so. I hate when people try and scold us into turning away from the positive aspects of sports and friendly competition.

But we can't let our pasttimes become the bread and circuses we are warned about. There is plenty of teamwork still available once the clock zeroes out in the 4th quarter, there is much work still to be done off the field.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

"Bi-Partisan and Cross-Ideological Myopia"

Just wow. I don't have too many comments to add to Conor Friedersdorf's examination of civil liberties in the USA, but I agree with a whole lot of what is in there.

And as far as his examples are concerned, he never even touches on events of post-Katrina/Federal Flood New Orleans or the information shutdown that continues to plauge the recovery, remediation and investigaction of the BP Oil Spill.

(HT: The Daily Dish.)

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Best Punter in the Country?

I thought Butler was the best punter in the country. Turns out it's not him. It's Harry Reid. He pinky swears he'll get around to extending the Bush tax cuts after you re-elect him. Like, fo'real.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Back in the Laboratory

Long ago, I said that every problem the United States is currently facing can be found in acute abundance in New Orleans. Solutions to the issues that plauge this city will be replicated in other cities around the country, or so the theory goes. This means New Orleans is called a "laboratory" in many aspects of civic culture: the local schools, entreprenuership, green housing and health care.

(If anyone remembers, we talked about this specific issue with the Health Care panel at Rising Tide 4.)

One of the things ballooning health care costs nationwide is that uninsured or indigent patients use Emergency Rooms as their primary care outlets. This is very expensive and time consuming - and full emergency rooms just exacerbate the process - but for many individuals this is the only choice. One huge area of government health care spending is covering hospitals who treat patients who cannot pay.

This was a big deal in New Orleans, where Charity Hospital was the big, public hospital where anyone could go to see a doctor. I think Atlanta has something similar with Grady, as this model was replicated across the country.

With increasing health care costs, this model becomes unsustainable and has been for some time. Charity Hospital (or any big public facility) wasn't the problem, it was the way its Emergency Room was being used as a primary care facility, which is not the purpose of an ER. Without a serious change to the local health care systems and culture, this will be a problem with any new LSU Teaching Hospital that gets built.

The solution (or at least the most current viable solution) is to increase the number and support of community primary care clinics. When folks have a doctor they can go see and develop a professional medical relationship with, and when their records are clearly kept, they will not go to the ER for primary treatment, and health care costs will contract. Also, with access to primary care, patients are more likely to recieve preventative care, also working to contract health care costs.

We desperately need this kind of reform in New Orleans, and all over the South. I am glad it seems to be recieving bi-partisan support, and I'm very glad that administration officials approved the changes.

This is a part of health care reform that you don't hear about on the squawk box.

Meanwhile, in the DC laboratory to reform public schools, Michelle Rhee's controversial and autocratic reign has come to an end. Being one of the smartest kids in the room, she will of course land softly before getting a high paying job at a think tank or news organization, but we need to look carefully at what went wrong. Leadership is about more than book smarts and pet theories - you have to play well with others, abandon assumptions and empathize with your opponents if you want to enact long lasting, deep reforms that end up working in the long run.

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Another Candidate, Another Mosque Commercial

Like I said, when ignorant politicians stop fanning the flames of religious hatred and xenophobia, I'll stop pointing out how much bullshit it is for Americans of any political stripe to let this continue. And yet, this candidate is endorsed by the prohibitive GOP Presidential frontrunner, Queen Sarah herself.

You know what. I'm wrong. I'll never stop talking about this. This crosses such a line that it will never, ever get old. Hatred, demogougery, xenophobia, intentional misrepresentations, historical inaccuracies - all for the selfish purpose of individual political gain.


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Confidence in Coach

Of course new Georgia Athletic Director McGarity expresses continued confidence in Coach Mark Richt. It isn't difficult to continue on a course that has continually delivered positive results.

Let's look at it in the simplest possible terms by football seasons, shall we?

2001 - Rebuilding year.
2002 - Breakout Year. SEC Champions.
2003 - Elite Year. SEC Championship Contender.
2004 - Elite Year.
2005 - Overacheiving Rebuilding Year. SEC Champions.

2006 - Rebuilding Year.
2007 - Breakout Year. Final National #2 Ranking
2008 - Underacheiving Elite Year. 10 Wins & New Year's Day Bowl considered Disappointing.

2009 - Underacheiving Transition Year. Restructures Defensive Coaching.
2010 - Rebuilding Year (TBD).

Emphasis on seasons of 10+ wins.

That is 1 season from 2001 to 2009 that can be considered a "bad" season (not a losing season), and that's 2009. That was last year. That was also a season that would have been an "average" season in terms of wins and losses under the two previous coaches.

The second "worst" season we've had at UGA since Mark Richt became coach, emotionally speaking, was the 2008 season, where the team went 10 - 3, including a bowl game on New Year's Day. So CMR's second "worst" season generated a win total equal to that of the two best seasons of his immediate predecessors.

Maybe I'm just used to the more delusional members of our fanbase, since I've heard griping about CMR since the 2004 season was considered a "disappointment" by some folks for losing the SECCG invitational tiebreaker to Tennessee.

And, yes, I consider a year "Elite" when the team's win total exceeds double-digits, ties for 1st in your conference division, plays on New Year's Day or ends the season in the top 5. And does so with some sort of credibility-building regularity.

I'm glad our new Athletic Director is wise enough to see that.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pledge to America

I still have absolutely no idea what exactly the Tea Party stands for but the Republican Party has just released a document outlining what it stands for these days. I'm reading it now. I hope you all do, too. And of course, feel free to discuss in the comments section.

The Day the Heavy Metal Music Died

I'm just wondering, but do the new ordinances Jefferson Parish just dropped on Fat City constitute "gentrification" or "Disneyfication?" Discuss.

Bonus Item 1: Midnight on weeknights and 1am on weekends? It takes a lot for any district to make Georgia's alcohol-serving regulations look progressive, but there you go. At least Fat City can still stay open on Sunday.

Bonus Item 2: If the bars and adult entertainment establishments pull up stakes and move, where in Greater New Orleans do they land?

Bonus Item 3: Does the Fat City heavy metal scene survive this by adapting to new surroundings, or do they find another place to play?

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Judicial Inactivism

Which is the bigger problem, judges "legislating from the bench" or judges' confirmation/election processes? When we hear about the judicial system, outside of Hollywood celebrity trials, the wonky reporting and op-eds usually fall into one of these two categories.

In related news, we also hear a lot about the failures of the criminal and civil court systems and our litigation-happy society. In seemingly non-related news we hear about too much government spending, government waste, and government inefficiencies.

These are all Very Important Issues to consider, sometimes blown up into manufactured controversies, to be sure. But I was drifting through the deep pages of the "Crime" section in the local daily, and I think we may need to take a step back.

I don't know how many other jurisdictions this is the case for, but in Orleans Parish, around 50% of continuances are caused by a combination of Not Enough Space and Judicial No Shows.

For a city and state dealing with budget issues, and a citizenry where getting caught up in the system can be a time-consuming nightmare, the fact that 13% of continuances occur because of Judicial No Shows at scheduled times is incredibly problematic. I can only imagine how much money it costs to open court for the day, book the courtroom, pay for lawyers, subpoena the witnesses, pull police off duty to testify, organize a jury, get everyone to the courthouse, bump other court proceedings (the continuances regarding space), and then the judge just doesn't show up for work. Or shows up late and delays proceedings.

That is a huge wasted-resource multiplier for the already outrageous 13%. I can only imagine the real costs to this city and her citizenry are.

This is more troubling when you consider that many judges in Orleans Parish are elected offices, and many citizen groups focus on non-judicial elections.

The watchdog groups cited in this article shouldn't wait for a response before naming names, they should name names and then the judge can take time out of their busy schedule to respond. As a matter of fact, with the internet, the watchdog groups could set up a live, streaming feed - not unlike airline arrivals and departures - that keep real-time track of when which judges are actually at work at a particular time.

The "lack of courtroom space" issue is bad enough for a judiciary in a city with plenty of empty office space around town. I can see that renting a few floors of some downtown high-rise might be troublesome based on overcharged rents, procurement and setting up location security. But even the space issue pertains to the Judicial No Show problem: because how can you ever plan for how much space you need?

This is a kind of issue that deserves some front-page love, in every city or municipality where it is a problem. Kudos to the TP for printing it, though I don't like how far into the web pages it is. People. Need. To. Know. This. Stuff. It isn't sexy, it isn't guaranteed to generate page-views, but it is a problem and informing the citizens is an important step in fixing the problem.

Because the larger issue is the widespread but misdirected discontent in our nation's population. You can get angry at national figures and policies until you're dressing up as George Washington and playing Revolution or waiting on a pragmatic President to hand-deliver Hope and Change to your door; but there are things you can do, in your own hometown, where your voice is the loudest, that will affect the lives of you and your neighbors the most. And you can do these things RTFN.

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Inventory

T. Kyle King at Dawg Sports takes it. The title of that post really says most of the things that need to be said.

On the other hand, one must keep in mind that the loudest, most outrageous voices will always get the most attention, because narrative always beats truth in today's America. The people howling about Georgia's coach are no exception.

One of the most interesting links between sports and politics is the tendency of overreaction to carry the day, and the tendency of individuals to believe propaganda. (Or, "hype," as it is called in sports.)

Brains can be cultivated to recieve certain information and believe it, while completely disregarding the existence of contrary evidence.

(While results can be murkier in politics, it is difficult to argue with the "contrary evidence" of a final score on a scoreboard. Not that such contrary evidence has ever stopped sports fans on the losing side from arguing how thier team should have won such and such game...)

It doesn't matter than Ben Dukes writes one of the most accessible explanation of football statistics I've ever read, there is a small but very loud section of the Bulldawg fanbase that want nothing more than to see Mark Richt shown the door.

These folks are convinced that the only way to restore Georgia's winning tradition is to get rid of the coach who has won a higher percentage of games for Georgia than any former coach, at this point in his career.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Raze, Hell

Why spend all the effort to rewrite history when you can just erase it? I'm glad libertarians and Civil Rights activists are joining forces in Montgomery, Alabama.

Y'all remember Montgomery, right? A few important things happened there 40-50 years ago that led to the eventual dismantling of legalized race-based discrimination.

We've come an awful long way in 40 to 50 years as a society, haven't we? Today, in Montgomery, they're just dismantling homes. Predominantly, those homes belonging to low-income African-Americans, usually close to the historically significant civil rights trail.

...

Now, I understand the need for many American cities to remove blight. I also understand that, in the South, the neighborhoods with the most blighted properties that recieve attention from municipalities will likely be low-income urban neighborhoods.*

Furthermore, these neighborhoods and properties are more likely be inhabited or owned by low-income African-Americans.

This is the result of specific demographic settlement patterns, mandated by the de jure and later replicated by the de facto versions of segregation and Jim Crow. We must also consider the very real legacy of generations of government focusing spending, property development and infrastructure improvement towards the suburban areas based on both the races of the populations being served and the geographical realities of settlement pattern changes (partly a response to desegregation).

All those paved asphalt streets and water lines you find in the suburban cul-de-sacs didn't just grow up from the clay.

Consider also the long term neglect required to truly destroy neighborhoods and communities by keeping blighted properties run down. Blight keeps property values down, stifles economic dynamism in a neighborhood, and can encourage more robust development of the criminal or rodent element in an area. Is it any wonder that municipal code enforcement was lethargic to address this issue in traditionally black neighborhoods? Do you think the local quality of life officers would let properties deteriorate so badly in more affluent parts of town? Perhaps those parts of town with the "proper" demographics?

Therefore, the resulting current-day blight removal programs in Southern urban areas are likely to disproportionately affect low-income African-Americans. That's not a difficult reality to grasp.

But let us take a step back: anytime the government takes property from anyone, there should be a clearly followed process of documentation and notification. I'm all about blight remediation (if possible) or removal (if necessary), but you cannot just tear down homes and send someone a bill because you've decided just recently to start enforcing code.

Especially if the pattern of removal appears racially motivated. As I outlined, any government agency responsible for this should be able to understand that they may easily appear so. If they choose to ignore this, they deserve every ounce of legitimate criticism they get. Not all of the individuals they expect to step aside may lack the resources or the will to challenge the authority or legitimacy of the government's claims.

A city or government must maintain their credibility during the process, and it is up to the people to demand that credibility. Tearing down viable homes while more derelict properties stand unattended is simply unacceptable. Sending letters to deceased individuals and considering that "notification" is unacceptable.

This isn't going to be an easy process. It will take work on the parts of governments and citizens. Honest mistakes will be made. But let us not kid ourselves about suspect motives. Actions speak. There is a way not to address blight, and way to start moving forward. One involves identifiable shenanigans. The second involves talking to the people in the neighborhoods first.


* - As what was once marginal land for economically and socially discriminated populations is now the urban core - making it possibly more geographically desirable or valuable than land occupied on the geographic margins.

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

In Summary

I was going to write a few things about the Arkansas vs. UGA game today, but Quinton at Georgia Sports Blog pretty much hits all the major points.

The only things I'd add:

1. Mike Bobo should not be allowed to call play action on 3rd and long as if the other team doesn't know the Dawgs are going to pass the ball. The other team is not fooled by the team with a suspect running game. The shotgun formation was invented for a reason.

2. Are the Dawgs afraid to attempt a real screen pass to Carlton Thomas? I'd bet he'd make someone miss in the open field.

3. There are some fairly talented offensive players not named AJ Green. Especially recievers. The Dawgs ain't going to have him next year, so they'd better figure out how to play without him around.

4. The Bench yearns for Washaun Ealey's ass. Until he learns how to protect his quarterback, he should not see a snap. I am sure Munzenmier or Thomas will happily run the ball or pass-block; whichever the play requires.

5. Live by the blitz, die by the blitz: I'd rather the Dawgs have a new defense get burned while actively trying to get to the QB than an experienced defense that gets burned by rushing 4 and dropping everyone else into a loose zone coverage. All of Georgia's starters were recruited to run the latter and are now being taught to run the former. Tackling was better this week, so it ain't like these defensive players aren't learning quickly.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

It's a renters market

Why aren't people buying houses? I was listening to a little news radio this morning(I know, it's a departure from my usual dose of Colin Cowherd, but I digress), and there was some so-called economics "expert" that was going on and on about the housing crisis and how he thought it was definately over, but just could not understand how there were almost 100,000 foreclosures on houses last month. He also just couldn't figure out why people weren't out buying houses when the interest rate is at as low as it has ever been(4.4%). Now I'll point out that the housing market is the capital reason for our economy tanking(and it hasn't hit bottom yet I don't care what the hairdo behind the desk on the news says), but I'll save that for a later date. For now, sadly, I'll point out some reasons why I shouldn't buy a house in this market.

Depending where you live in the U.S., the average house ranges from $150,000-$250,000. So using a mean of $200,000 and 5% loan, that brings out your mortgage to just under $1,100 a month. Add in required insurances another $150 a month. Add in taxes roughly $100 a month(lowballing). Add in maintenence costs and upkeep(A/C breaks down, its ALL you) MINIMUM another $250. Just using those base figures in hand(I'm not even counting ESCROW, closing costs, lawyers, or my personal favorite, HOAs,etc.), that brings your tally up to $1,600 a month on a basic 30 year plan. For those of you keeping score at home, and all expenses are fixed(which we all know will only go up), I'm paying $576,000 on a $200,000 house with $376,000 that has zero equity. Am I truly getting your money's worth?

Now if I take that same house/condo and just rent, I eliminate ALL those costs save rent, which replaces my mortgage to even say $800 a month in comparable rent for roughly the same space. It brings my thrown away money after 30 years to $288,000. That, and I have no headaches. Now aside from the theoretical appreciation a home gives that was the one single clear sound investment that everyone before us did to ensure a stable future, is there another reason to take such a risk?

Now of coarse, I'm using some VERY general figures, but when I did my budget for buying a house, this is what I came up with. I'm also basing these generalizations on an economy that has changed so drastically in the last fifteen years that we have amazingly de-valued every peice of property from the Atlantic to Pacific coasts in less than two decades. I just don't think people, or the banks, have accepted or admitted to it yet. Never mind, despite what these contradictory economists say, we haven't seen the bottom yet.

Sports & Stuff

The fooball blogs I read are really kicking up their analysis and writing, now that the season is in full swing.

One of my favorite things to read are the Q&A sessions between teams playing on Saturday. This week, T. Kyle King at Dawgsports interviews Arkansas Expats and the Expats return the favor.

Senator Blutarsky continues tracking some Georgia team trends.

The Georgia Sports Blog cools off and wraps up the UGA - South Carolina game. Two points made in the post and the comments section resonate with me: the tendency Georgia has to lack intensity at the start of a game (which has been a problem in multiple years) and the Georgia offesnive line's play when it comes to the passing game (tremendous) and the running game (inconsistent).

Finally, because I'm now watching Notre Dame games on Saturdays as well, the Rakes of Mallow puts the cap on another last second Irish loss to Michigan. Like we've been saying in Bulldawg Nation all week, a team is never as good as its best win or as bad as its worst loss.

Keep in mind, Domers, y'all have a Shiny New Coach who lost an early season competitive game in the last minutes to a player (not a team) who was having an all-world day. For most of that game, your own big talent was blind and sitting on a bench.

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The Gnashing of Oil Industry Teeth

Oh, I can hear the tales of woe already! There are 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells in the Gulf of Mexico, and the US government wants the oil industry to shut down the ones that haven't been used in over five years.

Over five years.

This means around 3500 wells will have to be capped and 650 abandoned platforms will be removed. Oil industry types are already predicting doom for their diminishing industry:

The Wall St. Journal cited one expert as saying the cost could total $1.4 billion to $3.5 billion. Mark Kaiser, R&D director at Louisiana State University's Center for Energy Studies, also estimated that companies, mostly smaller producers, would be giving up $6 billion to $18 billion in lost revenue from future production.


The oil industry is so overburdened by being asked to pick up after itself! Is anyone surprised that this is the same industry that tore up the Louisiana coast with canals and pipelines? They've dug these since the 50's, and then abandoned them when they were done with them, never cleaning up after themselves. This behavior is a direct cause of the salt water intrusion which has accellerated the erosion and disappearance of the coast by orders of magnitude. Why would we expect their treatment of drilling infrastructure be any different?

Because have no doubt, these abandoned wells and platforms are a clear and present danger to the human and natural environment of the Gulf South. Contrary to the right-wing "drill, baby, drill" narrative that "not one drop" of oil spilled during the hurricane season of 2005, the real numbers are inching closer to Exxon Valdez levels. And that's just what you haven't heard about.

Some additional thoughts:

1. Does this move by the government represent change I believe in? Maybe. Let's see if they actually make the oil industry clean up their own messes instead of passing it on to the taxpayers.

2. I know what you "free market" folks are going to say: "Cousin Pat, if we make the oil industry clean up after itself, they'll just pass the cost along to the consumer."

You know what?

I'm fine with that. No, not just fine. Good. This sounds like a plan I am down with. We pay either way: through taxes, at the pump, or when Louisiana suffers another catastrophe. So here's what we do: stop subsidizing the oil industry's misbehavior and let Americans pay at the pump. Look at how energized Americans are at the mere hint of a tax increase, let's see how they respond to the real cost of gasoline. Now, that is a market-based solution I am down with.

3. Regarding the mindset of the right-wing as expressed by Sarah Palin's tweet: "Extreme Greenies:see now why we push'drill,baby,drill'of known reserves&promising finds in safe onshore places like ANWR? Now do you get it?":

3A. If any accidents happen while contractors attempt to cap the 3500 abandoned wells and 600+ abandoned platforms, expect to hear how those accidents are the fault of government regulation. Because you always blame the folks trying to fix the problem, not the ones who caused it in the first place; and

3B. 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells. TWENTY-SEVEN THOUSAND. Representing, as "experts" say, possibly $18 BILLION in production revenues. If we've got that many wells that can produce that much revenue and THEY ARE SITTING AROUND ABANDONED, why the fuck are we even discussing drilling in Alaska? Do we need to create more abandoned wells around this country?

4. Rush Limbaugh famously said "oil is natural as ocean water" and echoed an "expert" estimate that 5000 barrells a day naturally seeped into the Gulf of Mexico. With 27,000 man-made, abandoned oil and gas wells, does it make more sense that the "seepage" of so much oil is a natural occurence, or could the culprit be something else?

5. 18 BILLION DOLLARS in possible revenue sounds like an awful lot of money in this economy. Especially for cash strapped Louisiana. Especially for a Louisiana that has lost an awful lot of coast because of oil extraction. Especially for a Louisiana that needs money to adequately defend her southeastern population from flooding. A cool 18 billion will go a long way to address those issues. I'm just sayin'.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I guess this Tea Party business is for real, but what exactly is it?

The Tea Party seems to be having some success unseating incumbents in the primaries. It's not earth shattering, but it's certainly respectable. I'm not entirely sure what I think about it. When I saw Santelli's rant about dumping derivatives in the Chicago River, I thought, "Oh, hell yes!" I rewatched it several times. But now there's a lot more baggage involved. Sarah Palin is out there anointing candidates. What the hell does she know about the derivatives market? I ask 10 different people what the Tea Party is now and get 11 different answers. I have the sneaking suspicion that this is the Right's version of Unspecified Hope and Change.

I have no problem with RINOs getting drummed out of office and since it's happening in the primaries there's a chance of real conservatives picking up the seats so that's nice, too. Even if these Tea Party candidates lose in the general election or win and just become slimeballs replacing slimeballs, conservatives aren't out much. But at the same, I get a little nervous about this type of campaigning. All this everyone-to-everything stuff and all of this talk of "outsiders" just makes me shake my head. John Ashcroft campaigned heavily as an outsider (and legitimately was one at the time). How long did that remain true?

I guess when it comes down to it, I like some of the actual candidates I'm seeing come out of this Tea Party business, but I'm not so sure what to think about the movement at this point.

Food Cart Clusters

Portland does this. Athens is looking it over.

New Orleans already has a community of food & taco trucks roaming the city, but could it support the "flea-market" like atmosphere of food cart clusters? The success of vendors throughout the year, (and especially during festival season) tells me this is viable. Even more so when you consider the variety of public spaces scattered about the city that could be used for such a purpose.

[C]ould temporary businesses like food carts occupy peripheral parking lots, increasing pedestrian traffic in the short term while the areas develop? The hope would be that new, permanent businesses would eventually follow and redevelop the properties more fully.
...
Narrow parking lots seem like good candidates, where new construction might be cost-prohibitive for spot infill with so many larger and more flexible lots available.


But as with all things New Orleans, the permitting process here could stifle this type of innovation; while in Athens it comes down to ambivalence of the city's zoning.

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Government, Working

Isn't it amazing, the results you can get when a political figure actually starts opening the books to find out what's been going on? And then doing something about it?

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Unvanished Oil

Where's the oil? Buried in the Outdoors Section of the local paper.

That's where.

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Doing Anti-Colonial Stuff

The new Doing Muslim Stuff?

Points for Maitri:

Next, remember the Town Hall meeting before the last presidential election in which McCain placated an audience member with, “Obama is not an Arab.” Wait up. Being an Arab is bad? Listen to what comes out of their mouths: Being anti-colonial is bad? Conversely, colonialism is good? Armed with this realization, liberals now challenge conservatives like Gingrich and D’Souza on whether they agree with this notion.


What's really going to bake your noodle: a bunch of people criticizing the President as "anti-colonial" while standing around waving Gadsden flags and dressing up like patriots of the American Revolution...against colonialism. The congnitive dissonance deafens.

If any of you are wondering, you may count me against the unsustainable and destructive international practices of colonialism. I apologize for thinking the general consensus of history had moved beyond that particular argument, much like the issues of slavery and geocentrism.

Colonialism failed as a system. The world is still dealing with the progress-resistant legacy of colonialism today. The United States became a nation through engaging in a violent rebellion against our colonial masters. These are unchallengeable historical facts.

But we're still arguing about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the US Senate election in Kentucky, so I guess I shouldn't take anything for granted.


On with the meta:

Luckily, Weigel dismantles D'Souza's drivel over at Slate, but brings up an interesting point. Every new lunatic, reality-bending theory someone on the right-wing brings up, Democrats and liberals bring more attention to it when they try to debunk it.

When it comes to narrative, especially those based only on fear and emotion, Democrats and liberals are at a loss. First of all, the nature of the reality-based community is to address reality-based issues in some way. There is no adequate defense for problems that exist in the land of make believe.

If we attempt to debunk these revisionist tendencies about the past, the fantasy-land interpretations of the present or the breathless and unprovable theories of future doom on the part of the right-wing, we only add fuel to the fire. Those who believe the nonsense aren't going to change their minds based on salient facts because those people don't recognize facts as facts. They see facts as part of the conspiracy against America.

On the other hand, ignoring these lunatic memes only allows the always-percolating rightwingosphere to propagandize unchallenged. This gives right-wingers an always morphing whisper campaign through email chains, untranscripted talk radio and anonymous comments on news sites.

Finally, the worst part isn't the folks who refuse to recognize that this happens. There are a lot of otherwise reasonable voices on the conservative side of the aisle who are willing to let all of this nonsense go because A) they acheive some real political gain from it, or the lay folks who B) enjoy the catharsis of driving liberals crazy.

Update AJC: While D'Souza has to reach deeply into the recesses of Never-Never Land to discover TEH KENYA ANTI-AMERICAND-COLONIALISMZ motivations behind President Obama's political behaviors, David Frum doesn't have to go far to figure out why Newt Gingrich is so boldly follwing that line of thinking down the rabbit hole.

HT: Cynthia Tucker, who wonders which bigot is worse, the true believer or the one who's just doing it for the votes. Meanwhile, Jay Bookman wonders why conservatives like Frum have been driven from the movement to be replaced by the crazy.

I wonder myslef how my real conservative friends can defend this behavior from the GOP's national leadership and the idea generators on the right. I know y'all don't like Obama and all, but how can you still listen to this crap with a straight face? It is one thing to win elections based on real policy differences, and the voters making a choice between two governing philosophies - but this is attempting to win elections based on the Big Lies. What can possibly be acheived by giving the keys of this nation to legislators rewarded only by engaging in this kind of sinister, overemotional reactionism?

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Your Oil Subsidy (Continued)

That's right. Stuff like this happens because there is no oxygen in the water.

It has nothing to do with the hydrocarbons or the chemical dispersants used for months earlier this year that the press and the government conspired to not let you see. Maybe this is what happens when TEH EARL, IT BE VANISHINGZ!! Or maybe this is a side effect of the magical oil spill remediating microbes as they nom nom nom the magically vanishing oil? We have our top people working on this, and I'd bet they won't let those meddling kids from UGA or USF anywhere near this site.

Nothing to see here, please move along.

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"Thankfully, Not Insane"

What happens when a real libertarian travels to one of these faux-conservative Tea Party events in the South? Since few of my conservative friends ever actually make it to one of these events, I'll let Pistolette tell ya.

I mean I could say all that, but I'm just another biased, kool-aid drinking member of teh Kenyan anti-colonialist brigade. Or something.

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Furry Friends

Do you want to wear fur? Do you like saving the environment? Do you like thumbing your nose at PETA? Would you like to help the Louisiana economy in a way other than buying cheap gasoline?

Now, you can do all of these things at once: Wear. Nutria.

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Friday, September 10, 2010

And I Thought it was Just a Fun Commercial...

The Green Police are coming for you. Apparently municipalities are starting to monitor how much you're recycling and hand out rewards/penalties accordingly. I'm not really sure what I think about this one so i'm going to advocate both sides here.

Against Monitoring GO:
What in the hell, dude? Are you really going through my trash to see what I recycle? I'll be bluntly honest. I don't recycle anything that's energy negative (takes more energy to recycle than to create new). But at the same time, I reuse a hell of a lot of stuff from beer bottles to plastic containers of various shapes and sizes. Are you counting that in your little calculations? Didn't think so. Besides, you don't know what a resident should recycle unless you know what they buy. Information is going to be incomplete at best.

For Monitoring GO:
It looks to me like this information is ultimately being used to determine how much each residency is costing for garbage pickup. Yeah, it's screwed up that the government is backing any and all recycling (even of the energy negative variety), but the trash pickup is just playing the game as defined by rules they don't make. They do have the right to go through our garbage so if they really want to, I guess they can.

Like I said, I really don't know where I line up on this one but I guess ultimately I don't like that I have to line on one side at all here. And at least in the near future, I don't.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Essential Freedoms for Temporary Security

Two wildly different links to a singular topic.

Maitri recounts an attempt to reenter the United States.

The Daily Dish examines the self-perpetuation and excesses of the security state.

So what will we get, when we have a marginally effective, non-accountable security apparatus with bi-partisan support that spends too much of its time and resources going after phantom security threats?

For one, that leaves us about as safe as we were on the evening of September 10, 2001, as the majority of resources will always be tasked somewhere other than where we are most vulnerable. And those resources are very, very expensive to a nation that can ill afford government inefficiencies at this time. Meaning that, even in a system with many resources, there will never be enough. After all, some other phantom security threat may need looking into. Real security threats are expensive to investigate, after all, and if you get something wrong regarding a Real Security Threat, you might be held responsible if it All Goes Wrong.

Meanwhile, Phantom security threats give you all the resources, and none of the liabilities. One wonders why we make fun of bureaucratic inefficiencies.

Two, phantom security threats ensure the Orwellian nightmare that anyone can be a target at any time for any reason. Third, even if you are completely innocent, yet end up considered a phantom security threat, there's little you can do to explain your way out of it. Facts are easily seen as lies if you're playing outside reality to begin with.

And, Four: now they can torture you. Now they can torture your friends. Now they can torture your spouse or parents. Now they can torture your kids.

And you can't do anything about it.

Luckily, America has always been a nation of loosely directed chaos, so the whole of society may move on to something completely different one day without even dropping off a memo to the old guard. That doesn't mean we won't have to deal with excesses and failures and blunders in the meantime.

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Thursday afternoon football

With the impending issue of a religious idiot practicing his first amendment rights, and seeing how Cousin Pat and Co. has delved into the issue fully, I thought I'd take another opportunity to break up the week with a little more college football talk. And given the seriousness of what's going on in my backyard in Florida, I figured I'd take a stab at addressing, in part at least, the sanctions the NCAA recently delivered to one of football's marquee programs, USC.

For those that don't know, USC had been handed a fairly aggressive punishment for Reggie Bush's semi-amatuer status during his tenure as a Trojan.

First, they had to vacate 14 wins from the '04-'05 seasons. Second, they lose 10 scholarships a year for the next 3 years. Lastly, they have a 2 year postseason ban from all bowls including the national championship.

While it seems like pretty rigid penalties were justly handed down to evil-doers doing evil things, the thing that bothers me is that a whole lot of folks are getting punished that had nothing to do with the crime at hand.

If you look at the college football "student-athlete" landscape, there are roughly 200 players that leave early/graduate towards jobs in the NFL. That averages to less than 2 players per Division 1 team. While of coarse elite programs routinely send 7-10 former students to success in the pros, that leaves about 50 players on the active roster that are assured virtually NO chance of advancing to the next level. This vast majority of football players are actually receiving the intended benefits given to these "student athletes" of the universities they attend and are given a chance at a better life not had any other way. Hence, by restricting the available scholarships a program can use, there is WAY more punishment doled out to the individual poor athlete than the possible boost that athlete can provide his program.

As far as the bowls go, that is actually a punishment on the sport itself. The infractions on this USC team had nothing to do with any athlete currently associated with the team. Bush was gone before the current seniors even graduated high school, nevermind the underclassmen. Football is a grueling, tough sport that requires hard work and discipline from every player, wither you are at Alcorn State or Alabama, and the fact that these guys on USC are being punished for something that happened before they even committed to the school seems like the wrong direction to me.

I say, if you look at the crime in hand, it's obviouly about money.(no $h#!) Who benefitted ultimately from this fiasco? Three parties come to mind.

First, the name at the top of the NCAA report Reggie Bush. As blatently as he flaunted his ill-gotten gains(Christ, he was driving Hummers and he was wearing diamond earings you could see in the dark with), you can't really blame a teenager who basically lived in a tree from trying to give his family a better life. He even TOTALLY screwed the agents(They benefits he received came from a management firm that he didn't sign with and they want thier money back. That was what got the snowball rolling in the first place), I'll throw him a bone. I've got no ideas on this one. Dude was dirt poor. What would you do? What he did is obviously wrong, but I've got nothing(solutions welcome).

Second, the USC program. They received endless dollars from merchandising and the brass ring, the bowl purses. For this, I have an elegant solution. Instead of non-participation, I say no money. They've already received millions upon millions, so I say they pay their own expenses, and get NO money from any bowl they, or any Pac-10 representative, plays in. And I'm talking long term. 10 years, no dinero. This way the folks in Southern California who saw dude with his Hummer and friggin flashlight in his ear are the ones that eat the bullet, not the kids currently attending and paying the price for a crime they weren't even present for.

Third, Pete Carroll. I know it's speculation on my part, but that was some special timing on his part to cut and run juuuuussst before the hammer came down. This guy was offered plum pro jobs on an annual basis, then right before the place he works for gets crushed, he hauls ass to the Seattle Seahawks? Shenanigans. He had to know bad things were coming to make such a timely move as that. He was there the whole time, and he is reaping all the benefits and paying no price. It's a story we all know as too familiar. This is where USC fans should be screaming for satisfaction. NCAA coaches apparently are bulletproof. They can prison-screw a program, and as long as they leave before lightening hits, all they get is a pay raise. Bull. There just has to be a way to cut these fakers down, because as long as they keep getting raises, who the hell could blame them?

Like i said before, cheating will always be present in college football, but maybe if we actually rooted out the truly guilty, there would be more of an incentive on coaches and universities alike to keep it at a as low a level as possible, as well as not punishing the innocent.

A New Calendar

It is often said that there are four seasons in New Orleans and that those seasons are Carnival, Festival, Hurricane, and Football. Isn't it only fitting, then, that this newest holiday on the NOLA calendar sits almost exactly on the emotional cusp of two of those seasons? This line of demarcation between segments of the year also marks the end and beginning of yet another year since the disaster. Falling as near as it does to Rosh Hashana, it's tempting to think of 8/29 as the NOLA New Year. This fifth New Year, not surprisingly, has a certain fin de siecle aspect to it as well. I won't go into the numerous personal reasons I have for saying this. You can cite your own, I'm sure.


Well, I was looking forward to Jeffrey's Rising Tide 5 wrap-up and expecting something completely different. As you can see from that monster of a quote, there is a lot more going on.

There were a lot of Rising Tide 5 wrap-up posts. There were a lot of New Orleans, Five Years Later articles. Many of them are worth reading. But this one is essential.


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Thinking about it, Jeffrey's post reminded me of this masterpiece from EDSBS in more ways than one. Which means two of the finest articles I've read on the internet, ever, showed up exactly a week apart.

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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Reef Balls

Of course a bunch of folks from Athens, Georgia - up in that red clay piedmont - would figure out a way to remediate coral reefs. They found a way to start non-profit foundations around the idea while involving coastal communities and schools in deploying these projects.

Including the phrase: "The students learned to write grants, and many of them got corporate sponsors to help buy the molds."

Reef balls: also good for rebuilding mangrove swamps, slowing beach erosion, teaching high school students to write grants and recieve corporate sponsorship and burying the dead.

And they live about 300 feet above sea level.

That being said, Louisiana is facing the greatest coastal loss of almost any place in the world, and this state collects old Christmas trees to try and stop the process.

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When "They" Burn the Flag

I was going to say something about this Quaran burning ceremony held by a group of batshit-crazy Christian fundamentalists, but William Saletan at Slate beat me to it.

You know that feeling you get when you see folks in the streets, burning American flags in other countries? Yeah. I hope you're getting whatever catharsis you need with the bullshit going on in this country right now.

Because once everyone's done giving everyone else the finger, and all the yo' mama jokes have been said, the real problems we face will still exist.

Thanks.

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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Your Oil Subsidy

It is not a realistic expectation for our nation to give up oil overnight. We'll have it for a long, long time. Drilling will be necessary.

But let us not hide the true costs, which are likely to increase at the gas pump to levels our current economy and infrastructure are unable to sustain. In addition, the price of oil will go up in other ways.

As conservatives like to parrot the fatalistic expectation: the price will always fall on the consumer.

Which means we can A) charge Big Oil directly to remediate the damage they are doing to the Louisiana coast (and "pay at the pump"); B) remediate the coast with Big Government Programs (requiring taxpayer dollars), or; C) Do Nothing (what got us here in the first place).

The salient fact is that continuing to take Option C will sacrifice trillions of dollars in existing infrastructure, population redistribution, real estate loss, and economic loss of 40% of this nation's seafood - all of what will happen as Southeast Louisiana disappears into the sea over the course of our lifetimes. And if it can happen to Louisiana, it can happen to any state.

And all that is just what we lose to erosion and salt-water intrusion. I don't even have to bring up the land-loss modifier that is Global Warming and Sea Level Rise. Just like the cost of oil will continue to go up even as we zero out any taxes on it; so the coast will continue to vanish at an alarming rate even if you don't believe Sea Level Rise is the culprit.

So, with your choices laid before you, how would you like to pay for your $2.60 (and rising) per gallon gasoline?

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The Danger of a Coverup

Why is the news of a coverup almost always an outrage modifier when it comes to crime? Because the statute of limitations can be problematic. Not to mention how evidence can grow cold after several years.

Remember, certain media outlets had to force these issues in New Orleans, and any idictments at all are a testament to (mainly Federal) investigators working against almost all odds to uncover the truth.

In the macro sense, this is especially true regarding beatings, arson and other elements of intimidation and terrorism. Systematic coverup allowed terrorist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan to run unchecked across this nation for decades, and required intrusive Federal enforcement when local communities and state agencies refused to cooperate (through either tacit agreement with the terrorists, civic ambivalence or out of fear of reprisal).

That history will always remind me to respect the intentions behind Civil Rights laws and hate crimes legislation. But I wonder if there could just be a way to extend the statute of limitations for conspiracy or collusion to cover up a crime?

I'll let the resident attorney answer that one.

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Monday, September 06, 2010

Human Error, Baby, Human Error

Just in case anyone out there was still operatiing under the illusion that the ongoing BP Oil Spill disaster was in any way a "natural" disaster, some sort of "shit, happening" or that there is some available diffusion of liability:

The rig's malfunctioning blowout preventer ultimately failed, but it was needed only because of human errors.


That $20 Billion from BP (that we may not actually see) wasn't a shakedown, it was literally the least that can be done. Giant plumes of oil still drift below the surface of our ocean, layers of the stuff can be found underneath the sand on our beaches, and we still have politicians worried about hurting the feelings of a corporation that turns a profit of $6B a quarter. Pardon me if I'm not so worried about them.

How safe do you think it is to start drilling again? A shallow water well blew up and caught fire this week, and the same folks politically demanding an end to the moratorium, as well as their political shills in the halls of power and media got other salient facts very wrong.

Probably in the name of expediency, as they'd rather not explain to you how complicated matters really are. They just want you to buy into the narrative that everything is really OK. TEH EARL BE VANISHINGZ! LOLZ! We have microbes for that.

Look. I know we have to drill for oil to keep our economy afloat. An oil-free society is simply not a realistic choice at this time. But let us not gloss over the true costs, risks and dangers inherent in this business. Let us not pretend things will always be as they are today. Oil production is getting more difficult, not less. Gasoline prices will continue to rise over both the short term and the long term, and we're going to have to come to grips with that fact. Even if we zeroed out all taxes associated with oil production and gasoline, these prices will still go up to levels our economy is unable to sustain.

Funny time is over. We can look to solutions now, or we can look to solutions when things are very, very problematic down the road. But we should all be very wary of political figures bearing oversimplified chants as policy solutions.

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Unsportsmanlike

I noticed something during the Purdue - Notre Dame game on Saturday that is still bothersome. From the Journal & Courier:

Marve dove into the end zone to celebrate his score but was immediately flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.


I don't even remember seeing a flag during the broadcast, but there apparently was one. The xtra point was good, I reckon.

But I was incensed because the NCAA had changed the rules back in April to eliminate messages on players' eye black (like Tim Tebow's Gospel verses or Georgia tailbacks' "I Run/This State"); wedge blocks on kickoffs; and live ball fouls for excessive celebration.

That means when you dive into the end zone when no one is around you, it is considered taunting and may end up negating the score, at the official's discretion. This is, of course, another one of those terrible instances where one group of officials may call back a TD while another group might let something slide with a 15 yard penalty. I hate rules written so subjectively.

I thought Marve's touchdown was an example of that. And it would have been, if the year was 2011. That makes me feel better, but I wonder if that means this should be the somersault year of over-the-top touchdown celebrations. One last hurrah before the shoutin' begins.

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Saturday, September 04, 2010

Top 26 cont'd

Seeing how it's Saturday, I can't wait to see how wrong I am tomorrow. Anyways, here's the completed Top 26

14.Oregon-Oregon to me is the best team in the Pac-10 and its all due to coaching. They won the Pac-10 outright last year in Chip Kelly's debut season, and with basically thier entire squad returning, they will repeat as west coast champs despite a harsh schedule.
15.Oklahoma-15? Really? I know you shouldn't use history on anybody, but when have they NOT disappointed everyone in Norman? They were 8-5 last year, and this year they're starting as many sophs and frosh as juniors and seniors. They'll improve from last year, win thier division, then get stomped in the Championship game to Nebraska. It's what they do.
16.Penn St.-Joe Pa will not go away. halfway through the decade there were whispers of firing the Great-Great-Grandfather of college football. Since then, he's made trips to the Alamo, Outback, Capital One, Orange, and Rose bowls winning 4 out of five. OSU has the Lions on O but Joe Pa will bring an equal if not better D. With probably the hardest schedule in the country, they will struggle to hit ten wins this year despite a very talented team.
17.South Carolina-This is the best team Spurrier has had in Colombia. The Cocks are a TRUE threat to win the East if they can scrape at least one win at Florida or at home against the Dawgs. Garcia is the real deal at QB, and we're going to see some flashes of the ole Fun and Gun that made us hate Spurrier in the first place.
18.Wisconsin-O-Line. Clay was thier soph 1500 yard rusher last year because the Badgers had a line that could get ME 1000 yards. With just one departure on the entire offense they will improve on those numbers and with just a couple of lucky plays on D, they are the dark horse contenders for the Big-10
19.USC-If Pete Carroll were back, the Trojans would be in the Top 12 if not better. This program is in serious dissarray. The hammer still hasn't hit from the NCAA, and I'm not sold on Kiffin. With a wide open Pac-10 this year, I don't see them getting past Oregon, but they could swing from #2 to #7 and it wouldn't be that surprising.
20.West Virginia-The Mountaineers are just the most consistent team in the Big East(and my only one on the list). With continued disappointing play from Pitt, and Brian Kelly leaving Cincinatti for Notre Dame, the door is wide open for another title for WVU.
21.Notre Dame-Most places have the Irish higher than this. While yes they had a bunch of close losses last year, that's what they've done since Tyrone Willingham was coach. Brian Kelly is an improvement over Weis but he's playing with all of Weis's players. Hawaii bowl here we come!
22.Florida St.-Probably the best offense in the ACC but they have GOT to improve on a terrible defense from last year. The Seminoles will win the Atlantic division then lose to whoever wins the Atlantic.
23.Oregon St.-Classic middle of the road Pac-10 team. Even though I have the Beavers in the Top 26, it wouldn't surprise me if they didn't win SIX games. With thier schedule, I don't see how they win the conference but if they manage second place, then they will probably deserve and at-large BCS bowl bid.
24.Arizona-Solid on both sides of the ball. No stars, but no crippling weaknesses here either. Inexperienced on defense with mostly juniors with few starts among them, the Wildcats will be favorites in the Pac-10 next year if they don't lose too many players to the NFL draft.
25.LSU-Les Miles is in the hot seat. It doesn't seem at all reasonable until you see his conference record. (8-9 in the last 17 SEC games) With only ten returning starters, and I  believe that Les Miles's luck has GOT to run out on fourth down, I see LSU as being a distant seventh best in the SEC.
26.California,Stanford,UCLA,Washington-WIDE OPEN Pac-10. I know its kinda cheating putting four teams here, but this is exactly why I did 26 and not 25 slots. As stated before, I say that Oregon is the distinct favorite on the West Coast, but it wouldn't surprise me if USC, Oregon St., Arizona, and company finished second or eighth. Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

Honorable mention-Georgia Tech, Houston, Utah, Michigan St.,Missouri

That's it, folks. Again this is MY preseason Top 26. It is by no means a predicter of things to come. I guess we'll have to see in 5 months how off I was. Cheers guys, it's game time.

Friday, September 03, 2010

2nd Amendment in Action

Not to speak ill of the dead, but it sounds like someone in Atlanta picked the wrong home to invade.

Pay attention, folks, this is how the 2nd Amendment remains quite relevant 200+ years after it was written.

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Narrative, Winning

Well, I thought the controversy surrounding the renovation of the Holy Burlington Coat Factory of Lower Manhattan was about to simmer down. I thought, now that apple-pie and flag-waving "Americans" in the heartland had started engaging in acts of terrorism against innocent American Muslims, that the folks perpetuating the religious bigotry and xenophobia would realize the very real danger to lives and property caused by their words. I thought they would stop it. This stuff had gone too far some weeks ago, and now things were getting far out of control. Funny time was over.

Nope. Winning elections is just too important to stop fanning the smouldering flames of religious hatred across this land. If there are funds to be raised, votes to be pandered, or political points to be scored, it doesn't matter if what you say is a lie that may get innocent people killed.

And if you're standing on the sidelines here, finding some sort of moral equivalency with what is going on, I just can't understand your values. I can't understand how individuals like Lazio and statements like his can be defended. What does our society gain by such oversimplifications, bigotries and misrepresentations?

Yes, he (and Palin, Gingrich, Reid, and all these demagouges) have the right to say stupid, hateful things. Especially when those stupid, hateful opinions are so nakedly based in the pursuit of political power. They are absolutely entitled to and can express their "opinions," even those they hold only in front of the cameras. But I do wonder why there are so many people letting them get away with this.

So don't blame those of us in opposition for "keeping this thing going." Stupid, hateful opinions must be challenged, publicly and often, if we are ever to expect better. Expect those challenges to keep coming as long as those perpetuating this narrative keep trying to demagouge their way to power.

And don't blame the people who are calling religious bigotry and xenophobia out what it is. It is what it is, a retread of some of our worst episodes in American history.

Support of religious freedom in America may not be the most popular position right now, but I know who is on the right side of it.

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Thursday, September 02, 2010

For Love of the ATL

Living in New Orleans, there's a lot of smack talked about the lack of culture in Atlanta. But there is one type of culture that the ATL does better than any other city - college football culture.

Because Atlanta is the capitol of Georgia*, which is the greatest college football state in the land.

And if you don't think college football is a culture, I don't know why you'd be reading this site.

Spencer Hall expresses the sentiments thusly:

As a drug it would have no rival, and as an aphrodesiac would have no equal.


True.

(* - Originally spelled "Georiga." Error caught by Alli.)

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