Friday, September 29, 2006

Memories of Ole Miss and Gov. Barnes

As the 4-0 Bulldogs travel to Oxford for a meeting with Ole Miss, a memory from 5 years ago stirs........

So what does Ole Miss and Gov. Barnes have in common? Well when I think of both, I think of flags. Ole Miss has spent much of the last 20 years locked in a battle with both internal and external forces over its use of the nickname "Rebels" and the use of the Confederate battle flag by its fans.

And, of course, Gov. Barnes was the man bold enough to coax, prod, preach, and even arm twist members of the Georgia legislature to change the state flag. As everyone remembers, under Barnes, we went from the 1956 flag with the Confederate "stars and bars" prominently displayed to a flag that was born out of good intentions, but ugly as homemade sin.

It was early Nov. of 2001 and I had attended a conference in Savannah. The sessions ended Friday morning. So I left a little early (if you stay at the Hyatt Regency you'd better leave early) and made the long drive from Savannah to Memphis. I was going to the UGA/Ole Miss game with two other friends who decided to fly rather than make the long drive.

The trick to this trip was that (then) State Rep. Hugh Broome had invited my tax commissioner and I for a private meeting with Gov. Barnes in his office the following Monday morning. The meeting was really about a property tax matter that the commissioner was helping Rep. Broome to get passed and had nothing to do with me or my job. But hey, I'd never been invited to the Gov.'s office before, so I accepted. All of this meant, though, another long drive on Sunday and an overnight stay in Atlanta.

I had never visited Memphis or the Ole Miss campus in Oxford, Mississippi, which was only about an hour's drive from the TN state line. So this trip was something I had been looking forward to. I wasn't disappointed. Memphis was somewhat reminiscent of New Orleans but not as flashy. Although Beale St. is pretty flashy.

The next day we headed down to Oxford. We wanted to see a little of the local charm that attracted Faulkner, Hemmingway, and Grisham to the area. It was easy to see what they loved about the town, and why they found it inspirational. Many SEC schools are in "small towns." But Ole Miss really sneaks up on you in Oxford. It was as lovely and different as I had always been told.

Tailgaters mingled in "the Grove" with their tents, table cloths, and even some candlelabras. The people were friendly to visitors, offering us some fried chicken, "tater" salad, beer, etc. It was really a sight to behold as they seemed to have their own way of doing things. Which is part of what makes visiting different college towns so interesting.

We didn't see many Confederate flags around. And what we did see was basically the same thing that we see at other SEC and ACC towns in terms of old south symbols and imagery. I've been from Baton Rouge to Knoxville and from Gainesville, FL to Clemson, SC and all of those places (including Athens) feature a certain segment of their fan base that likes to display such things. Georgia Tech isn't excluded either. Just check out the parking lot at Alexander Memorial Coliseum on their campus during a home game. Yet, because of their nickname, "Rebels," Ole Miss seems to bear the brunt of the criticism on the subject.

On a beautiful afternoon, Georgia won the game, 35-15. I crossed another locale off my list of places to visit. The next day, I dropped my friends off at the airport and made the long drive across northern MS and AL to Atlanta for the next morning's meeting.

I love visiting the Georgia state capitol. We are so fortunate to have such a beautiful symbol of our state government. This might sound corny or cliche, but when I go there, I always the exact feeling of reverence that I did the very first time I went there.

I ran accross the street to purchase some population maps in preparation for some local reapportionment and stopped by the Sec. of State's office to pick up some supplies. And then I met the others for our meeting. Rep. Broome, an interesting character himself, regaled us with stories of his playing days at UGA under legendary Coach Wally Butts as we waited.

By the looks of the waiting area of the inner sanctum of the Gov's office, Barnes was having a busy Monday morning. Which made it all the nicer when we were ushered in and sat down for a 30 minute talk. He and Rep. Broome sat in the two rocking chairs sitting in front of the couch area, and we discussed the property tax bill that Rep. Broome would be introducing during the next legislative session.

But before we left, Gov. Barnes, as he sat there tugging on an unlit pipe, was very gracious in asking us about things in our home county. You know, "how's so and so doing?" "Tell his mamma I asked about her." "And is there anything that we can do to help you solve this problem?"

I complimented him on his bold gambit in changing the state flag and thanked him for showing the courage to do so. And I added that history will look upon him kindly for his efforts. Coming from a south Georgian, he seemed genuinely pleased to hear that. Indeed, after he left office, the JFK Library would honor Gov. Barnes with a Profiles in Courage Award for standing against even members of his own party to change the Georgia state flag.

Part of a politician's skill is her/his ability to meet people one-on-one or in large groups. Most of them are better at one than they are the other. Roy was no exception. He was a lot better one- on-one, at least on that morning anyway. Today, he acts like he's found his niche. Which can be hard to do when you're a beaten incumbent. It makes you re-think everything you've ever done. Looks like he's happy just being a lawyer. Given his work opposing the voter ID bill alone, we should all be thankful.

Zell was very good at both. One of the biggest thrills I've ever had listening to a speech was that night at the 1992 Demoratic convention when Zell set Madison Square Garden on fire. The Georgia contingent yelled over and over, "Give 'em hell Zell!" Before the speech was done, the entire room was joining us. It's hard to believe that Zell supported President Bush's re-election bid, joining people that made careers out of trying to tear Zell himself apart.

In fairness to Sonny, meeting him was very pleasant. Though he wasn't nearly as charming the first time I met him back in 1999 when I wasn't one of his constituents. Perhaps that's something he's worked on since then.

But one of my all time favorites was former Lt. Gov. and fellow Georgia Conservency member, Pierre Howard. As far as I'm concerned, he was a rare gentleman at that level of politics. I didn't rush to embrace Roy Barnes in 1998. It was Pierre that I wanted to support all along.

So as I reflect back on flags, football, and governors past, I am reminded of the fact that people are so different and so imperfect. We have different ideas, strengths, cultures, styles and motivations. But if there are two things that can really bring people, even the most unusual bed fellows, together in the south, it's football and politics.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Benefit Run for Canine Companions for Independence

Sept. 30th is the date for the Athens Run for the Dogs. The event is a 5K race or a 1K run/walk with your dog. This is a fun event that benefits the nonprofit organization, Canine Companions for Independence. CCI provides trained assistance dogs for people with disabilities.

I had a great time participating in this in 2003 and 2004. It's a great chance to do some good for people with disabililities and have fun with your dogs.

Directions to Sandy Creek Park in Athens, GA.

Event Schedule

8:00am - Check-in and registration/Silent Auction Opens
9:00am - Race starts
9:45am - Doggie Dancing Performance10:00am - 1 Mile Fun Walk
10:20am - T-Shirt Contest
10:30am - Pet/Owner Look Alike Contest
10:45am - Second Doggie Dancing Performance/Silent Auction Closes
11:00am - Silent Auction and Raffle Winners Announced

For registration info. visit

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

From the Macabre: Serial Killers

NOTE: Please forgive me in advance if this subject seems inappropriate for this blog. I promise not to make this a habit. But I was struck by the topic and the randomness of the people it affects, even a first lady.

I listened to an interview with author and researcher on serial killers, Philip Carlo this morning. I'm not really big on true crime books or topics. Frankly, stuff like this gives me the creeps.

Carlo mentioned the well known fact that Rosalynn Carter once innocently and unknowingly had her picture taken with serial killer (who sometimes dressed as a clown) John Wayne Gacy, a local political acivist in Iowa in the 1970's. Gacy was caught not long after the infamous photo was taken. And he was eventually executed for killing dozens of young boys.

Something similar happened once again to Mrs. Carter when she met with former Methodist minister, turned cult leader, Jim Jones. Jones would go on to lead his flock to Guyana and eventually order the execution of a California congressman and the largest mass suicide in recorded history.

I've heard Mrs. Carter speak on meeting both men and the horror that she felt when she found out later what they had been up to even during the time she met them. She said that in public life you come into contact with so many people and you have no idea what they may be doing when no one else is looking. She went on to add that both incidents spooked her, and she went through a period where she would shake a stranger's hand and wonder if there was something about them she should know.

Carlo went on to describe his interviews and subsequent books about such infamous people as Richard "The Nightstalker" Ramirez" and the mafia hit man, Richard "Ice Man" Kuklinski. He also spoke about Ted Bundy which hits close to home with me since I grew up in the shadows of the Florida State University campus. Bundy, of course, left a trail of blood from Washington state to Tallahassee in the late 70's and into the 80's.

Carlo said that estimates that there may be as many as 500 to 1,000 serial killers wandering around this country might be a bit low. He added that they often blend in nicely in our society. They are usually loners. But they tend to hold jobs, some are married with kids, and many take on a very friendly personna that makes people feel safe with them.

Carlo once asked Ramirez what he could put in a book that would help women (they are the most frequent victims) avoid killers like him. Ramirez's icy response was "nothing." But Carlo added that women should always use some common sense and caution when meeting people that they don't know.

Obviously, this isn't a political issue. But it's interesting to note that Gacy was a Democratic volunteer and local official. And Bundy was a staunch Republican who was involved in a Washington gubernatorial campaign.

Yikes! I hope I can sleep tonight!

Apparently this just whizzes right over Casey Cagle's head

According to a Jacksonville Times-Union article by Brandon Larrabee, a planned fundraiser for Casey Cagle's campaign for Lt. Gov. being hosted by "developers, bankers, and other corporate execs" (including some who are employees of regulated companies like Bellsouth and Blue Cross Blue Shield) has come under fire from the Jim Martin campaign. Martin campaign spokesman, Will Martin, calls the fundraiser a "Ball for Sprawl and Special Favors." Cagle, who got into the banking industry after serving on the state senate banking committee, takes exception to this insisting in a letter to Martin that this is a cheap shot.

Cagle was also criticized by the Martin campaign for his record on environmental issues. That seems to go hand-in-hand with the idea that one gets when reading about this fundraiser.

I don't know that Cagle is doing anything technically wrong. But what's with these politicians that just can't grasp the concept of avoiding even the appearance of impropriety?

From the Times-Union:

Cagle fund raiser sparks sharp words

Will Martin takes a dig at the Democrat's planned gala and its list of chairmen and hosts.

By BRANDON LARRABEE, The Times-UnionATLANTA - The campaign of former Human Resources Commissioner Jim Martin, who is seeking to keep the lieutenant governor's seat in Democratic hands, blasted an upcoming fund raiser by Republican opponent Sen. Casey Cagle that features developers, bankers and other corporate executives.

The questions sparked one of the first sharp exchanges in what has been a relatively low-key race for the state's second-highest office, with Cagle writing Martin saying the remarks of a campaign spokesman were "deeply disappointing."

The gala features high-ranking officials from companies including BellSouth, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and The Home Depot. Some of the sponsors are employed by companies regulated by the state.

"It's a 'Ball for Sprawl and Special Favors,' " said Will Martin, a spokesman for the Jim Martin campaign.

Will Martin said the number of developers who are listed as "chairmen" [the highest level of giving] or "hosts" [the next highest level] highlights the different environmental records of Cagle, an Oakwood Republican, and Jim Martin, an Atlanta Democrat.

"It's not surprising, given that Senator Cagle has one of the worst conservation records of anyone in the [General Assembly]," Will Martin said.

Cagle responded late Monday in a letter to Jim Martin provided to the Times-Union.

"The clear intent of your attack is to argue that I - and the civic leaders who support our campaign - are engaged in a quid pro quo transaction where legislative actions are traded for campaign contributions," Cagle wrote. "As you know, such behavior would be both unethical and illegal, and the fact that you would stoop so low as to make such an allegation is deeply disappointing."

In the latter, Cagle also labels Martin "one of the most liberal members of the General Assembly" and points out the employment contributions of the companies involved in the fund raiser., (404) 681-1701

I just love these politicians that use a noble word like "liberal" to play on the fears of moderate and conservative voters. When you closely inspect Martin's "liberal" record, you can find a lot of benefit to average, every day Georgians. His contributions to reform in areas like healthcare, education, and family law have been good for Georgia. And he'll take his experience and the respect that he garners from both sides of the aisle to Atlanta with him to do even more good.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Bill Clinton vs. Chris Wallace

I busied myself with a few different things over the weekend and didn't do a good job of keeping up with the news. So I totally missed the discussion and details on the Clinton/Wallace battle on Fox. Fortunately, Think Progress has a nitty gritty video clip that features a lot of the sparring. Te see it, press here.

I haven't seen this side of Bill in quite a while. But he sure asked some very good questions himself and made some good observations. Also, it's just plain refreshing to hear someone admit his mistakes and express his regrets. I wish that our present administration operated under such honest and realistic terms when it comes to this "war on terror."

Action Alert on Alternative Fuels and the State Energy Plan

A month ago, I blogged about the EPD not backing a plan for a fund to develope alternative fuels as part of Georgia's evolving energy plan. In that post, I pointed out a website for the state energy plan that welcomes comments from the general public.

Well now, Greg Bluestein's AP article on Sunday tells us that there will be public meetings across the state this week showcasing the state's energy plan. We have yet another chance to voice our concerns about our state's lack of initiative on alternative fuels. If possible, please consider taking the time to either submit a comment via the state's website, or attend one of the public hearings in your area.

From Bluestein's article that appeared in yesterday's Macon Telegraph:

Some conservationists, though, have raised concerns over what's missing in the 160-page draft. And they're planning to use the Energy Policy Council's tour to air those complaints. The first meeting will be Monday in Tifton, followed by stops in Savannah, Atlanta and Augusta, before the last on Oct. 3 in Rome.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, a regional advocacy group, is urging that the policy encourage the development of alternative fuels in Georgia.

"What needs to happen is the governor and the Legislature need to say this is an industry we want to seize the leadership in, just like the folks in the Midwest have done with corn" and ethanol, said Stephen Smith, executive director of the Knoxville, Tenn.-based alliance.

Amid a sluggish timber market, some hope that Georgia will invest in efforts to convert pine trees into ethanol, a move that could boost rural Georgia's economy while decreasing the state's dependency on foreign oil.

"The technology we think is here. We know the resource is here," said tree farmer Earl Barrs of Cochran. "We're excited about the opportunity to participate and improve our environment in the process."

Monday, September 25 - TiftonMoultrie Technical College, Tifton Campus from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Tuesday, September 26 - SavannahCoastal Georgia Center from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Wednesday, September 27 - Metro AtlantaClayton State University from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Thursday, September 28 - AugustaAugusta Technical College from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Tuesday, October 3 - RomeCoosa Valley Technical College from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Friday, September 22, 2006

New Poll Figures for Martin/Where Were the GT Dems?

So I guess Jim Martin's internal poll showing him running within the margin of error of Casey Cagle was pretty spot on. The two men are battling to become Georgia's next Lt. Governor. James Salzer of the AJC reports that an Insider Advantage poll shows it to be even closer between the two.

"InsiderAdvantage also polled on the lieutenant governor's race, and found a near dead heat between Republican state Sen. Casey Cagle (R-Gainesville) and Democratic former state Rep. Jim Martin of Atlanta.

The poll put Cagle at 37 perent, Martin at 36 percent, Libertarian Allen Buckley at 6 percent and 21 percent undecided."

I heard two explanations from Republicans over the last few days as to why Martin is running so well 6 weeks before the election: 1) this is Martin's internal poll; and 2) Cagle hasn't gone on TV yet.

Both, of course, were true. But were they really accurate explanations? The Insider Advantage shows Cagle's lead to be even smaller than Jim's poll. And Jim hasn't been on TV yet either. Both candidates have been going around the state doing local appearances and trying to drum up support for their respective parties.

In the process, Jim is reinforcing what Georgians found out about him this summer. He's the guy that you can really believe when he speaks. And he has an excellent record of service to his state and country. Not to mention that he's shown a very good working relationship with people of all political persuasions while maintaining his core Democratic values.

Amy from Georgia Women Vote had some nice commentary on the latest poll.

Side note: Not sure who is dropping the ball. But I heard from some Georgia Tech friends that the Georgia Tech Republicans passed out thousands of "Jackets for Sonny" stickers at the game last night with most people accepting them and wearing them. Supposedly there was no presence at all for Mark Taylor.

I bring this up because despite the fact that the Taylor campaign has all of my info. and a check from me, I've yet to be contacted by them for anything. Not even an email which costs nothing. Apparently they don't have anything going with the Georgia Tech Dems either.

It's time to get in the game folks..................

Ralphie Leads the Colorado Buffaloes to Athens

Ralphie, the University of Colorado's famous buffalo mascot, was invited by Uga VI and the University of Georgia to attend the football game between the two schools this Saturday in Sanford Stadium. These two are amongst the most famous and visible mascots in all of sport. So it made sense for UGA to invite Ralphie to make her first run in an opponent's home stadium ever. Ralphie has made bowl trips before. But this will be her first away game in Ralphie's 30 year tradition.

She was scheduled to be trucked in and arrive in Athens yesterday. And she will make a practice run at Sanford Stadium today. Despite a bad start to their year, Colorado sold its entire allotment of tickets and will have some 4,000 fans attending at UGA's 92, 746 seat stadium. As usual, the game is sold out. UGA will make a return trip to Boulder, Colorado in 2009. And yes, CU has already invited Uga VI to make the trip to Folsom Field.

When this game was scheduled 2 years ago, it was a made for TV type of game. CU was only 2 years removed from winning the Big XII conference, smashing both Texas and national runnerup Nebraska along the way. Since then they've played for the Big XII title twice more, including last year. But in the midst of some off the field problems and a coaching change, the Buffaloes are not performing up to their usual standard. In fact, when they lost their second game to Colorado St. for an 0-2 start, CBS released their hotel rooms in Athens sending the signal that this would be a regional broadcast only.

Still, that shouldn't spoil the fun. The mascot traditions of the two programs will be a sight to see. I hope that Ralphie and all Buffalo fans enjoy their trip to Georgia and make it back home safely.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Gov. Jim McGreevey's "The Confession"

I suppose most people remember the revelation of former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey in 2004. McGreevey, who was a married father of two, broke the news at a press conference with his wife and his parents standing behind him. At the time, he was allegedly being blackmailed by an Israeli acquaintance that he was having an affair with. McGreevey decided to out himself instead of allowing it continue on. He left his office in shame and unsure of what his future life would be like.

I haven't heard much about McGreevey in the last couple of years. But today he appeared on Oprah to talk about that experience and to plug his new book, "The Confession."

McGreevey spoke about the situation and how it changed his life and the life of his soon to be ex-wife. He described his wife as currently being "in transition." It's always tough for a woman in that situation. One day she's the first lady of New Jersey. The next she's questioning a life that she's built with another human being.

Oprah asked him the dreaded question of the caught married man. If you're gay, then why get married?

McGreevey answered that he was in denial about who he was, despite the fact that he knew he was "different" by age 6 or 7. He expounded on his answer later in the interview by saying it was a mixture of "arrogance and denial" that made him think that he could be Gov. of New Jersey, a married father of two, be a closeted gay man, and pull it all off.

Similar to many in the LGBT community, religion played a role in why he kept his life a secret. Getting into politics was another reason. But he also spoke about something that many of us can identify with. He said that he had been called a "fag" in they Boy Scouts. He didn't want to be one of those. So he "added a layer" to hide himself. Those issues arose again in high school. So he added another layer. And so on, and so on. Pretty soon he was fooling even himself. Making himself think that he could keep it all inside and manage everything to his satisfaction.

He went on to read an excerpt from his book about the day that his wife was in the hospital having a difficult c-section. He was at home with his Israeli friend, who he says he was in love with, and willing to "give it all up for."

The former governor said that his previous sexual experiences with men had been limited to highway rest stops, dark allies, and bookstores. He sought out people like himself, those that couldn't be open about who they were for whatever reason. Once he got into politics, he felt that he couldn't meet someone in a bar for fear of being recognized.

To his credit, he talked about a lot of things that leave him in a less than flattering light. Lying to his wife, having an affair, and promising to help his friend with a job in his administration. He takes responsibility for his actions. And he calls his book a "moral inventory."

Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I applaud him for this. He's now with an Austrialian man and still living in New Jersey. The couple appeared to be happy with one another. And McGreevey appeared to be happy with being true to himself. Being the former governor of a state should provide him with some interesting opportunities to make something good out of this. You know me. I love a good redemption story.

Oprah did invite his ex-wife to attend. But she wasn't ready. In time, you have to hope that she'll be able to get on with her own life. What McGreevey did to her, there is no quick fix for.

I don't blog about my personal life very often, or about the people in it. But I suppose that one reason why I would give McGreevey the benefit of the doubt is that I can relate in some small way to his story.

No, I was never governor of a state. I was just a good little Baptist boy, and unfortunately in a situation where I couldn't be honest about who I was because of my job. Although truthfully, I wasn't ready to be honest with myself during that time anyway. But that was changing. And after 11 years on the job, I was ready for even more changes.

Just a few days before my resignation was to take effect, I was sitting in my office making sure that I was leaving everything in good shape for my successor. The phone rang and it was a friend of mine. This was someone whom I met through my work, and whom I had done a lot to help. I was used to taking phone calls from her. But this time her voice sounded a little different. She told me that she had attended her regular church service the day before and that my name "came up." From behind his pulpit, this minister of the gospel had outed me to his congregation.

Basically what she said was that he told the audience that "we need to do a better job of picking our leaders." Based upon things he had heard, he told them that I (he used my name) was gay and not someone of a high moral standard. Not because I didn't do a good job, and not because of any act that I had committed. But because of who I was as a person and who I chose to love.

Ever been outed in a small town? It's not fun. Everyone hears about it. Things of which are no one else's business are opened for public examination. People give into the really ugly side of themselves that casts aside all that they've witnessed and let their imaginations run wild. And unfortunately, you're not the only one that gets hurt. Those that care about you get hurt too.

So before judging Jim McGreevey too harshly, just remember everyone's circumstances aren't the same. We still live in a judgemental society that makes it hard for everyone to live so openly and carefree. Ultimately we have to decide our own paths. And unfortunately, sometimes others force you down a path for which you aren't ready.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Jim Martin's internal poll is great news for GA Dems!

I spent part of my Saturday at the Suwanee Days festival passing out literature for the Jim Martin for Lt. Gov. campaign. It was a beautiful day and a great time as this festival keeps growing. It was a great opportunity to talk about Jim and his vision for Georgia.

Even in conservative northern Gwinnett, Jim Martin's common sense Democratic ideas went over well. His folksy charm and presence made him a hit during the primary season. I think he appeals to a broad spectrum of people. And this can only help other Dems in Nov.

The Jim Martin campaign (as well as the Allan Burns US 7 Congressional campaign) will have a presence in this area again during the Gwinnett County fair this week, as well as at the Duluth Fall Festival in a couple of weeks.

On the heels of a good outing this weekend, it was great to get this email from Jim's campaign. It's an internal poll. But it gives us a lot of motivation to take this race right to Cagle in his own backyard as well as across Georgia............

I want to share some very exciting news with you today, with just seven weeks remaining before Election Day on November 7.

In a
new statewide poll that we are releasing to the news media today, Jim is in a dead heat with Casey Cagle, his Republican opponent! According to the poll, which was conducted by the top Democratic polling firm in the country, Cagle draws support from 38 percent of likely general election voters to Jim's 34 percent, while the Libertarian candidate receives 5 percent and 23 percent of voters are presently undecided. The 4 percent margin that separates Jim and Cagle is well within the poll's margin of error.

What is even more significant is this: Casey Cagle enjoys greater name recognition - 53 percent to Jim's 39 percent - after his high-profile primary battle with Ralph Reed. But Jim is more highly regarded among voters who recognize him than is Cagle among voters who recognize him. Among voters who recognize both candidates, Jim leads Cagle by a 44 percent to 39 percent margin!

This new poll proves that Jim has a tremendous opportunity to win in November. Voters respond very favorably to Jim's story when they learn about who he is and why he is running. The bottom line is this: If we can tell enough voters about Jim, we will win!

To do that, we need your help now more than ever. Please take a few minutes to
contribute online today. Your contribution of $500, $250, $100, $50, or whatever you can afford will help make a difference. There are only 50 days left and we need your help today!
Thanks so much for your continuing support,

Matt Weyandt
Finance Director and Deputy Campaign Manager

As noted in the email, the Libertarian candidate, Allen Buckley is running well with 5 percent of the vote. With the changes in Georgia's general election laws, Mr. Buckley's position in this race is very important, as each candidate is vying for 50% of the vote plus one vote.

Aging Hipster, Steve is backing Buckley in this race. As the election nears, check his blog for his thoughts on the Buckley campaign as well as others that he's endorsed.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Debate set between Allan Burns and John Linder

After much discussion, Congressman Linder has agreed to debate Allan Burns. The debate will take place at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville on Thursday, September 28th from 7pm until 8:30pm. It will be sponsored by the United Ebony Society. Hopefully there will be more closer to election day.

If you're a US Congress District 7 voter, make sure to come out and support Allan. He's very impressive up close and personal.

Allan and his team will also be making appearances around the Gwinnett County Fair starting tommorow (Saturday).

For more info. on the Burns campaign, visit

"Miss Juanelle"

Yesterday, many of us noted the passing of one of our most famous female leaders, former Texas Gov. Ann Richards. Sadly, today, we need to honor someone who worked mostly outside of the limelight. Nonetheless, she was an important figure in Georgia politics.

Juanelle Edwards of Marietta was a tireless worker for the Democratic party and for many, many Democrat candidates in this state and nationally. Truly a Georgia treasure, "Miss Juanelle" was one of those people that you didn't always hear about. But her presence was well known. All of these events that have to happen in order to promote candidates and raise money for them (the life's blood of campaigns) are largely put on by people like her.

While she enjoyed some notoriaty during the Carter adminstration, Miss Juanelle wasn't someone who needed attention. All she needed was a good cause or a good candidate, and that was enough for her to lay it all out there for her beliefs.

However, more than just Democrats are lovingly recalling Miss Januelle's life and friendship today. Republican US Senator Johnny Isackson is also singing her praises.

From Jon Gillooly's Marietta Daily Journal article:

Carter sent his condolences Thursday afternoon.

"Rosalynn and I send our condolences to the Edwards family," Carter said. "A great supporter and long-time friend, Juanelle was instrumental in my political campaigns and a wonderful advisor when I was in office."

Roy Barnes, who appointed Mrs. Edwards to serve on the advisory board of the Little White House, said he was saddened to learn of her death.

"You know, there are some people who are what I call 'natural resources,'" Barnes said. "We think of natural resources as being mountains and oil and coal, but there are some people who are natural resources - they've lived such a deep life and affected so many people that they are living natural resources, and Juanelle Edwards is one of those.I know of no person who could call among her friends on a first-name basis presidents of the United States and governors, but had a wit that made us all remember what a wonderful person she was, and I deeply regret her passing."

Former U.S. Rep. Buddy Darden (D-Marietta) who served from 1983 to 1994 said Mrs. Edwards was the chief reason he decided to run for the office."She was a dear, dear friend and probably more than anyone else responsible for my decision to run for Congress in 1983," Darden said. "She was the lynchpin of the Democratic Party in Cobb for years, and probably the most well-known Democrat in Cobb County. She was one of a kind, and we're all going to miss her."

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-east Cobb) said Mrs. Edwards crossed party lines to become a good friend of his."Juanelle Edwards was one of the most energetic people I ever knew," Isakson said, noting they served together in such organizations as the Salvation Army and the Boys and Girls Club.Isakson said he even filled in for her a few times to teach her famous Sunday school class.

"She will be remembered for her humor, her red hair, her compassion and her wit," Isakson said, confirming rumors that he was the first Republican Mrs. Edwards ever voted for."That's what she told me and I never knew Juanelle to lie," Isakson said.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Pres. Carter says Dick Cheney is "careless with the truth"

Never one to mince words, President Carter was on CNN's Larry King Live last night expressing some thoughts on important subjects. While he reiterated his disagreements with Bush's Middle East policies, he kept his comments limited to policy.

However, the former president let it be known what he thinks of Vice President Dick Cheney and his posturing on Iraq and those that disagree with the administration.

Here's an excerpt from the transcript of last night's show:

KING: We're back with President Jimmy Carter. Your reaction to Vice President Cheney's assertion that the criticism of Iraq, the Iraq war, emboldens United States enemies and makes allies doubt American resolve.

CARTER: Well, the vice president unfortunately has been consistently very careless with the truth. He still maintains some preposterous comments and attitudes toward the origins of the Iraqi war, the circumstances in Iraq now and he's had a policy in my opinion of deliberately trying to mislead the American people by making untrue statements and there's no reason to give any credence to his ridiculous claims that you've just described.

KING: But why -- so you're questioning his motives? Do you think he doesn't really agree with what we're doing?

CARTER: I really don't know what his real policies or beliefs are but I do know that he's been most consistent since the very origin of the Iraqi war in deliberately misleading the American people by making false statements, statements that I'm sure he knew were not true.And this is a very serious thing for a highly placed official in America to do and even now he still will not admit, for instance, that Saddam Hussein was not at least partially possible for the 9/11 attacks, when the president himself has said that's a false statement.And to constantly say that anybody that criticizes any aspect of our misguided policies in Iraq are unpatriotic and imply our condoning of terrorist attacks is completely ridiculous and ought to be refuted forcefully by everybody.
And it was very pleasing to my ears to hear the former president weigh on America's dependence on foreign oil, and the need to be proactive in dealing with our energy problems.

KING: Doesn't America's need for foreign oil impact all of our decision making in this?

CARTER: Yes, it does. I think we are now quite reluctant to take a bold stand for democratization or for peace in the Middle East and so forth if it would alienate major oil suppliers and that includes many of the Gulf States. Obviously it includes Saudi Arabia. It even includes countries in Africa like Nigeria. It even affects our relationship with countries in Latin America that provide oil, including Venezuela.But there's no doubt that our over dependence on foreign oil is a very major problem.

When I became president, Larry, we were importing about eight million barrels of oil a day. We spent four years putting into law some major conservation measures. And within five years after we passed those bills we had dropped down to about five million barrels of imported oil per year.We are now back up to 12 million barrels of oil imported and a lot of that has been caused by an abandonment of the requirement for efficiency of American motor vehicles. That's a major unresolved tapping of reducing our dependence on foreign oil.And now with the Hummers and other deliberately gas guzzlers that the American government has endorsed it makes it almost a farce to say that we have a good energy policy.

We also ought in other ways do things that would save energy by producing more from solar power.

But I would say the major unaddressed opportunity is to reduce the -- increase the gas mileage of the gas guzzlers that America is producing. This has not only hurt us in energy levels but it's made very serious inroads into the capabilities and the status of say General Motors and Ford Motor Company that have adopted American policies and are still producing gas guzzlers and now their bonds are junk bonds, they're laying off thousands of people whereas people who are producing more efficient automobiles are taking over a lot of the market. So, we've just had a very catastrophic, I think, policy in America of continuing to endorse gas guzzlers as a symbol of -- and a production priority of America.

Texas Legend and Hero, Gov. Ann Richards Passes

I was 16 years old during the 1988 Democratic Convention in Atlanta. And there are exactly two speakers at that convention who stood out in such a way that I never forget them nor their speeches. One of those two was JFK, Jr. And the other was Texas' legendary trailblazer, Gov. Ann Richards.

In her witty and charming way, she reminded us in a keynote speech that George H.W. Bush didn't have a silver spoon in his mouth, but a "silver foot."

Her time as Texas governor was important. Perhaps only a tough, motorcycle ridin' momma like Gov. Richards could stand up to the gun lobby in a state like Texas and lead the fight to make that state a safer place by banning certain types of weapons and "cop-killer bullets."

Married to a civil rights lawyer, minorities and women made progress during her time. She spoke like the average, every day Texan. And she remains a popular figure in Texas, earning praise from both major parties.

She died of cancer. But I feel sure cancer took a few licks from her too.

Here's an article on her death by AP's Kelley Shannon via Yahoo News.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Rome News-Tribune: Georgia is "plainly heading in the wrong direction" on poverty

A few weeks ago, the census bureau released some interesting statistics concerning poverty, employement rates, and healthcare. I blogged about these, see "What Have Republicans Done For Georgia Lately?"

Well the editorial staff of the Rome News-Tribune has sounded off on the subject. They agree that the trends are what's disturbing about Georgia's number. Since George W. Bush took office in 2001 and Sonny Perdue followed in 2003, Georgia's "heading in the wrong direction."

The editors state that "government doesn't cause poverty." That's certainly true, at least in part. But it's hard not to notice that Georgia's downward trends start with the changes in our national and state government. Whereas, previously, Georgia was heading in a different direction under different leadership. Just something to think about.............

The wrong direction

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IN THIS POCKET of comparative prosperity, sight can easily be lost that the State of Georgia’s economic picture can look pretty glum depending on where one is. Maybe this is not Buckhead, but it’s sure not South Georgia either.
Come to think of it, one’s geographic point of view may well determine if one believes the latest Census Bureau figures about the state’s poverty and medically uninsured levels.

Both, it appears, are increasing faster than in most other states.

For example, the number of those without medical insurance in Georgia climbed from 1.5 million in 2004 to 1.7 million in 2005. That’s 200,000, or double the population of Floyd County. Georgia is now tied for eighth among the states for having the most uninsured as percentage of population — 18.1 percent.

As for poverty in Georgia, it’s up to 14.4 percent after the third straight year of increases after it had fallen to 11.2 percent in 2002. The national average is currently 12.6 percent. Georgia now ranks among the top four states is having the fastest rate of increase in poverty.

NUMBERS LIKE these, along with typically miserable rankings in levels of educational attainment, explain much about why Georgia’s economic salesmen have an increasingly more difficult time attracting prospects. These trends certainly do little to back up the claims of “the New South” being the new land of milk and honey. It’s usually fairly hard to make money in places where more and more people have less and less of it to spend.

Still, it is equally disturbing to note that these official definitions of “poverty” and “no medical coverage” are hurled about without ever being put in perspective. There probably needs to be some sort of “misery index” to replace them — and misery is very much relative.

For example, federal poverty numbers are based on income and governmental benefits are not counted — not food stamps, not welfare, not subsidized housing and so forth. Similarly, “uninsured” does not mean uncared for as the ballooning size of Medicaid and indigent-care costs clearly attest.

This is not to say that being of very low income, or jobless, is comfortable or that having no medical coverage isn’t a nerve-wracking time of the heavy, heavy hangs over your head variety. It is only meant to point out that in the United States, the richest nation on the globe, misery is very much relative and more uncomfortable than truly agonizing.

THERE’S CONSIDERABLE truth to the old anti-welfare adage that the poor in America are better off than the rich in many Third World countries. They are.
You can be poor in Georgia and have a telephone, a TV set and even a car. You can be uninsured yet have a personal physician who knows you by name, even if it is at a public clinic.

Poverty and medical access are being defined in terms of what the majority, “the rest of us,” have and not so much by what is absolutely unavailable.

When’s the last time you read about someone having starved to death in this country? That’s only possible if they don’t know about the food banks and soup kitchens. When’s the last time the news reported someone bleeding to death on the sidewalk as hundreds of passersby stepped over him because if they called for help nobody would come?

Without dismissing the very real emotional and psychological upset that’s involved in finding one’s self in those distressing poverty/uninsured percentages, what’s most troubling about the latest Georgia numbers is the trend.

The state is plainly heading in the wrong direction. Unless corrected, that will wind up being bad for everybody. That’s why such numbers deserve attention, and should be seen as a call to action.

AND NO, not simply action by the politicians although the public should wish they weren’t so consistently trying to look for silver linings in dark clouds.

Government doesn’t cause poverty. It doesn’t remove medical insurance. Yet it is somehow expected to “fix” such things even though all of us hold some responsibility for them, including often considerable personal responsibility for winding up as part of the bad statistics.

Nonetheless, these numbers are regularly tossed out and receive the usual tut-tutting and little else. That’s not going to repair a thing.

Poverty and lack of medical insurance are a burden borne by all, as the bottom line on tax bills should make plain.

Even more troubling, although certainly nothing new, is the way the poverty figures break down racially. While 14.4 percent of all Georgians live in poverty, the number for whites alone is 8.8 percent. For Hispanics it is 20 percent; for blacks, 24.9 percent.

In America, the land of opportunity, things should only get better and better and such numbers never reflect they’re getting worse and worse. If that doesn’t deeply trouble you, it should.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

President's Address: Just More Excuse Making

You know, when the country is engaged in situations as we are in Iraq and trying to fend off terrorists, you want to rally behind your president and our armed forces. It's a natural instinct ingrained in anyone with a sense of patriotism. The troops have my appreciation and support. But this is not a man that I can rally behind. It's been too long, and too bumpy a ride with George W. Bush.

While he won Georgia quite easily in 2000, he squeaked out a highly suspect and controversial presidential victory nationally. I'm tempted to say that it all went downhill from there. But that's not exactly true. His one shining moment where the country really seemed to believe in him was in the emotional days following 9/11. Most of us with misgivings about Bush put it aside because our nation was in trouble. For that, we've been repaid with a needless war in Iraq, further instability in the Middle East, and a severe lack of diplomacy in dealing with nations like North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela. This president loves to rattle his tiny saber.

When Bush took the focus off of his so called "war on terror" by putting Afghanistan on the backburner, and putting the full weight of our military on Iraq, it should've sounded some alarm bells. There were no connections between Iraq and 9/11. So why have we spent 4 years, billions of dollars, and wasted thousands of US, allied, and Iraqi lives?

Maybe a better question is, why did we re-elect him in 2004?

Last night, Bush defended his administration's actions post-911. He said that we invaded Iraq because Saddam Hussein was a threat. Well, Saddam didn't kill 3,000 Americans. And as evil and despotic as his reign surely was, we still have no proof that the US was under any direct imminent threat from him. We invaded in the name of "pre-emptive strike." This president apparently reads minds.

Bush says we're safer today. I don't buy it. I have no scientific gage to offer as proof. But I think it's safe to say that there are more people in this world today that hate America enough to want to give their lives to the cause of destroying us than there were on January 20, 2001, the day that he was sworn in as president. I don't expect him to be an appeaser. And I don't expect him to not put America first. However, I do expect him to not impose his own personal "pre-emptive" will on others while using the resources of this country to do it.

Foreign policy isn't a popularity contest. But this administration has been marked with a severe lack of diplomacy, and has caused even our own allies to move away from us. We, as Americans, believe that this country stands for something great. While he certainly isn't the first American president to tarnish this image, George W. Bush has damaged it in a way that's unprecedented.

Oh by the way, since the president's speech, the American Embassy in Damascus was attacked last night.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Senate Candidate Jack Carter Hospitalized and Jimmy Saves the Day

US Senate candidate from Nevada, Jack Carter was hospitalized for complications with colitis. But never fear, President and Mrs. Carter stepped in and continued campaigning for him as he recovers. Swing State Project blogs on this story.

Jack Carter, a former Georgia resident, is responding to medication and looks to recover according to media reports.

Meanwhile, President Carter, and grandson, Jason (thought to be a possible future candidate for office) campaigned mostly in Spanish to a Fiestas Patrias crowd in Las Vegas.

Jack is running against the Republican incumbent, John Ensign. He easily won his Democratic primary. And after trailing badly in both the polls and cash early on, Jack's made some serious gains in this race. His parents have played a big part in his success. But Jack himself has been winning over Nevadans who previously viewed him as a carpetbagger.

The Georgia Carters have been active in their son's campaign. Earlier this summer, they were reunited with former Vice President Walter Mondale at a Jack Carter fundraiser at the home of Michigan's superstar Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

I wish Jack a speedy recovery and good luck against Ensign.

Always Remember 9/11

Five years ago today, I remember noticing how beautiful the morning was. It was perfect with not a cloud in the sky. A hint of autumn was in the air as the temperatures had moderated from a hot summer. And the gloaming of the day had already started to make the days look like fall.

It was a day that was just like the day in which my father had died 4 years earlier. As sometimes happens when you notice a small reminder, I thought of my dad and how our lives had changed. But then I put it out of my mind. I needed to get into the office and prepare for a SPLOST election that was to happen in one week from that day.

I had already been at work for a couple of hours when my clerk comes into the office with her usual big, bright smile and a hearty "good morning." She talked about what a beautiful morning it was and how it was one of those days when she looked forward to going to work and seeing everyone.

Shortly after 9 a.m., she comes into my office and says that her mother had called and said that we were under attack in New York City. I dropped what I was doing and raced home to get a small tv set that I used for tailgating.

All along the way, I was listening to the radio. My mind was racing about what was going on. I thought of the one time that I actually layed my own eyes on the WTC. Why couldn't I remember more?

I was 29 years old. I gave a thought to my nephews approaching the age of 18. Selfishly, I thought about where I might be in 5 years. Was this such an event that it would change all of our lives forever? And if so, just how drastically? Where would any of us be? And what would we be doing in relation to the events unfolding in those very moments. This was big. This was something I had never witnessed in our own country before. I imagined this might have been what my dad felt like when he first hear of the attacks on Pearl Harbor.

Like everyone else, we spent the day watching what was happening. Up until lunch time, people might straggle in who didn't even know what was going on. They were too busy dropping their kids off at school, or working for their living to have known. But they stopped dead in their tracks, just as surely as we had.

I gave a thought to my brother's best friend who is a marketing director with Estee Lauder, and whose office was in Manhatten, near Central Park. What about my friend Kathy who was a US Air flight attendant? She flew out of Jacksonville, Charlotte, and Pittsburgh. Was she on a flight that was to be hijacked? I also thought of a niece who was attending the University of Maryland, not far from Washington, D.C. Who was flying today?

You think of all these things and you're not sure where to start. Later in the day, I would find out that all of my loved ones were safe. And as affected as we all were, I couldn't even put myself in the shoes of those who were actually there. Nor those who were waiting by phones anxiously awaiting word from their loved ones who worked in the World Trade Center, or the Pentagon, or who were flying that day.

And later, we would hear the agonizing phone calls to airline and police authorities. And the oh so personal phone calls to loved ones from people trapped in the WTC. To this day, I still hesitate to listen to those, feeling it's just too personal to know what they were saying.

Our world was changed forever. But what we didn't realize fully is that it had changed a long time ago. This didn't happen overnight. We had the 1993 WTC bombing. We had the bombing of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. We had the bombing of the USS Cole. We had heard of plots to blow planes up over the Pacific. Events were happening. And yet we were talking about work, football, and Monica Lewinsky.

Hindsight is 20/20. But we no longer have the excuse of "not knowing." Life must go on. And morbidly reflecting back on 9/11/01 each day isn't healthy. But we must be aware of what's going on. And we must demand that the people we elect and those that they appoint are doing everything they can to make sure this never happens again.

Always remember those who lost their lives 5 years ago today. Always seek to understand why the terrible events of 9/11/01 happened. Let us remember that 9/11 is not a partisan issue. Richard Clarke said it best. We failed, Democrats and Republicans. I supported our efforts in Afghanistan. But I continue to be baffled by the war in Iraq. There's not much we can do about past events. But we need to be better focused on present events and their consequences.

We must finish the job of punishing those responsible. And we must always remain committed to preventing this from ever happening again.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Bush in Atlanta: "Unrelenting pressure on Al Qaeda?"

So George W. Bush beebops into Cobb Co., Georgia today and gives us a "progress report" on his war on terror. Sounds like the beginning of a joke right? Well, unfortunately, it's a complete and total joke. Mike Morris and Bill Montgomery of the AJC have a report on the President's Georgia visit.

He says that we are safer today because of actions taken by his administration since 9/11. Me thinks he needs to take another look around, starting with Afghanistan. You know, that country whose leaders aided the people actually responsible for the 9/11 attacks?

There is no doubt in my mind that for all of the Al Qaeda operatives captured or killed in his "war", there are now MORE people on this planet who hate the United States of America. Because of our actions in Iraq alone, there are many who have decided to dedicate their lives (and their death) to destroying us.

The Middle East is even more unstable now than when Dubya found it. Undaunted by what's happening in Iraq, Iran looms as an even more powerful threat. Muslim fundamentalists in places like Lebanon, Egypt, the Phillipines, etc. are even more radicalized in the wake of Dubya's lack of diplomacy and willful acts of war against a nation with no direct connections to the 9/11 attacks.

Follow my link to GriftDrift's blog. Because as he accurately points out, we have lost our focus on punishing those that killed 3,000 innocent people in the greatest terrorist attack on American soil, now almost 5 years ago. "Unrelenting pressure on al Qaeda," Mr. President?!! Then why have we forgotten Afghanistan? Why is the Taliban actually gaining strength there?

Well said, GriftDrift.

Check Out Bill Clinton's New Wheels

I bet this will make even Al smile.............


Clinton to get custom hybrid SUV
Specially outfitted Mercury Mariner Hybrid on its way to former president.

NEW YORK ( -- Former president Bill Clinton will take delivery of a specially outfitted "Presidential Edition" Mercury Mariner Hybrid SUV later this month.

The vehicle's customized interior includes unique LED lighting and a 110-volt outlet. The Mariner's rear bench seats were replaced by a pair of bucket seats and a center console that houses a fold-out writing desk. There are also writing desks that fold down from the backs of the front seats.

A Ford spokesman refused to discuss any alterations that may have been made for security reasons. The Mariner will be driven by Secret Service agents.

"The Clinton Climate Initiative is working with some of the world's largest cities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Clinton said in an announcement. "I'm happy to have a fuel efficient vehicle to do my part and I'd like to thank the Ford Motor Company for this."

The Mariner Hybrid, a slightly more luxurious version of the small Ford Escape Hybrid, gets an EPA-estimated 32 miles to the gallon in the city and 29 on the highway. (Unlike other cars, hybrid vehicles are often rated higher for city driving than highway.) It runs on a four-cylinder engine combined with an electric motor.

The Mariner Hybrid is the first hybrid vehicle and the first Mercury vehicle outfitted for presidential use, an honor normally associated with Ford's more expensive Lincoln brand and General Motors' Cadillac.

The vehicle will be formally accepted by Clinton during the Clinton Global Initiative conference set for Sept. 20-22 in New York City.

Details and photos: Standard Mercury Mariner Hybrid
Fortune: Making a difference, Clinton-style

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

My Belated College Football Roundup

Well this past weekend, everyone got into the swing of things in this new season. Nationally, I think that people who were writing USC off might be rethinking things. They killed Arkansas again. John David Booty might not be Matt Leinart. But he and others will do nicely in keeping the current streak of great seasons intact. In fact, I think they'll go undefeated and play the winner of the Texas/Ohio St. game in the BCS title game.

Speaking of the Horns and Buckeyes, they each did what they had to do. I'm sure both teams were thinking more of their contest this coming weekend in Austin than their opponents last weekend. Last year's game between these two was the best intersectional matchup (along with USC/Notre Dame). Both teams have had to replace quite a bit from last year. But each of these programs are very strong and are probably amongst the best 3 or 4 teams in the country.

In the ACC, Miami and FSU played their annual grudge game last night. Last year, FSU won but I thought Miami was the better team. It looked as if that might be the case again this year. But I don't think so. Both teams have strong defenses. And neither team has a reliable offense. Both teams combined for a ridiculously low rushing total. But the difference was FSU's offense was able to make a couple of clutch 3rd down conversions in the 2nd half. Miami left its best efforts on the field before halftime, and didn't take advantage of an interception deep in FSU territory. I don't believe either team will be a factor in the national championship race. But it was only the first game of the year. Things could come together offensively for the Noles.

Duke lost to Div 1-AA opponent, Richmond, 13-0 at home. I've never seen a Div 1-A opponent get shut out by a AA team. I've seen both them and Wake Forest lost to AA opponents like Appalachian St. many times through the years. But this has got to be a new low.

Virginia was crushed by Pitt. It's going to be a long season for the Cavs I'm afraid. But Clemson did what they were supposed to. And their season may ultimately be decided in the next two weeks vs. Boston College (who struggled to beat Central Michigan) and FSU. I can't wait to see what Virginia Tech has. Overall, I think the ACC will look like it did last year. No real heavyweights at the top. But some quality depth in the middle.

Georgia Tech put up a valiant effort against Notre Dame. The defense played its heart out. But Notre Dame's defense was just as impressive. Tech still isn't getting the ball to Calvin Johnson enough. He had a great first half. But they let the ND double team discourage them from going to him in the second half. He's taller than any guy trying to cover him. At some point, you would think the Tech braintrust would just say "damn it all" and throw towards him anyway. Tech would be a serious contender in the ACC if they had a better QB. But they don't. Still, they'll be tough to handle. If they avoid losing to Duke or NC State, they may end up with 8 or 9 wins.

Besides the game, once again both student sections in the end zones are right on top of the field. And they've been prone through the years to throw trash at referees and the other team's band and players. I'm not sure what the Tech AD is waiting on. They need to move those students to another place or start kicking people out. If not, someone's going to get hurt.

In the SEC, Tennessee came up with the big win over an overated Cal team. Not many are giving the Vols much of a chance to contend this year. But their problems haven't been in terms of talent. They've been between the ears. Ole Fulmer's shenanigans finally caught up with him. But he's taking a different approach this year. And bringing back Cutcliffe as OC is probably the best thing he could've done. Ainge had a rotten year last year. But we saw during his freshman year that he can play. Look out for the Vols. They are playing for pride. And they may be the best team available to take advantage of Florida's ridiculously hard schedule.

Speaking of the Gators, they handled Southern Miss after a sloppy start. SEC teams have run afoul of the Golden Eagles before. But Florida took care of business. They can't afford any slipups with teams like this. Much more difficult games loom mid season.

Auburn and LSU did as they were supposed to do. Auburn's the popular pick to win the SEC. Good pick. The pressure is squarely on them. And I think they represent the SEC's best hope to play in the BCS title game. I think they'll finish 3rd or 4th nationally and will have to settle for the Sugar Bowl.

Alabama overcame Hawaii and their Haka dance in Tuscaloosa. But it was a struggle. UK got killed by Louisville. It wasn't unexpected. But watch the Cards this year. I think they'll beat Miami and I think they get West Virginia at home. They are definitely in the running for the Big East title and a BCS bowl.

Also, Vandy gave Michigan a tussle. The game was only 13-7 late in the 3rd quarter gefore UM pulled away. And Ole Miss won their underated rivalry game with Memphis. But it was close, as that game usually is.

I don't know what to make of South Carolina's win over MSU. Neither team looked great. But like FSU, the Cocks used a couple of big defensive plays in the 4th quarter to get them going. They always bring their A game for Georgia. Even though the Dawgs have more than doubled the Cocks in wins at Williams Brice Stadium, most of the games are extremely close. I don't see any reason to expect anything different this year. Many people will pick this as the upset of the week. But they always do so with this game. I think that helps to motivate Georgia and works against the Cocks. Though their fans don't really see it that way.

A future UGA opponent, Colorado, also lost to a Div 1-AA opponent. No doubt UGA haters will use this against them. But CU 's not that far removed from stomping a national runner up Nebraska team and playing for the Big XII title. No one would've seen this coming. Oh well, at least they're bringing their mascot Ralphie. It will be the Buffalo mascot's first ever trip to a road game. It's quite fitting since CU and UGA have the two best mascots in all of college sports.

The hometown Dawgs did what they were supposed to do. Mikey Henderson had one punt return for a td and should've had two. All 3 QB's that played did some nice things. But you can tell the fans want Stafford, who directed the team well late in the game. I think Joe T is the smart choice for the South Carolina game. The Dawgs rarely win that game with a flashy offense. They win it with defense and a sound running game. Georgia has both going for it. However, if the Cocks can burn the Dawgs with a couple of big plays, they can win this game.

This year is the year to get Georgia. So I would suggest that South Carolina and Tennessee take advantage of it. But nothing is a sure bet.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Tofu Kew at Little Bangkok

So I'm having Tofu Kew Sunday night, with my friends Beth and Helen, at Little Bangkok on Cheshire Bridge, and I'm laughing and having a good time talking about Helen's husband's fear of getting a massage by a pretty little masseuse, and his belief that he might suddenly "rise to the occasion." Unwittingly, I scoop up a light green object on my fork. Next thing I know, in goes a pepper!

The pepper is crunchy and slightly sweet; and then it explodes inside my mouth. Life takes a slightly unexpected detour over the next few minutes. At first, my mouth just loses feeling. But about 10 seconds after the numbness sets in, the pepper brings the heat!

I cough a little, and sip a little diet coke. Then it happens. An attack of uncontrollable hiccups sets in like I've never had before. Tears well up in my eyes. I can actually see the atomic aftermath eminating from my cheeks. Small, short, loud bursts coming far more rapidly than I ever remember for a case of the hiccups.

In a panic, I envision my proper, southwest Georgia mother staring at me with a glazed and fiery disapproving look. My table mates at first look horrified, and then little smirks creep up on their faces. The person at the table straight ahead looks up in dismay. I've distracted his conversation. Suddenly, it feels as if the whole room is starring at me.

My lovely and kind waitress comes over and pats my back asking, "You okay, you okay?"

Horrified of having hiccups in public, I take my water and step into the small, empty waiting area, slightly out of public view. The tiny lady behind the cash register has nothing else to look at but me in my most indelicate state. An odd thought comes to my head. "Is this what Tourette's feels like?"

To my surprise, the hiccups pass rather quickly. I go back to my table with a few too many sets of eyeballs watching my re-emergence into the dining area. But I say with a smile, "What the hell? Ain't y'all ever had the hiccups before?"

Well, instead of Helen's husband, we now had something else to laugh about. Maybe karma was getting me back for earlier making rude gestures and suggestions as I pondered the poor man's potential massage dilemma.

Instead of treating me like I have a disease, a diner or two passes by and asks if I'm okay, or comforts me with a hand on my shoulder and a smile. Guess there was no need for embarrassment after all, huh?

We pay our check and stand around outside my car as Helen smokes her prized after dinner cigarette. Then I notice a rather, tall, odd looking figure out of the corner of my eye. My head turns to the left and I see a person peering into the darkness of a parked car at the corner of the building, about 50 feet away from us.

I notice the man has a mask on his face. Not a Jason or Michael Meyers mask. But a pig snout over his nose with some sort of bushy wig on top of his head. The figure notices me looking at him and he starts to adjust his nose, making obscene gestures as he does. Then he stumbles across the street (no easy thing to do on this part of Cheshire Bridge Rd).

Such was a night at Little Bangkok. Oh, and the Tofu Kew was delicious, pepper withstanding.