In the Ga. Legislature, it’s the same as it ever was

The comprehensive ethics reform promised by legislative leaders back in January — reform that would weaken the seductive grip of special-interest lobbyists on our elected leaders — never materialized.

You are no doubt surprised by that fact.

Oh, legislators did pass a bill last week that they labeled “ethics reform.” House Speaker David Ralston, whose staff wrote the bill behind closed doors, would have you believe that the measure accomplishes all it was intended to accomplish. Sadly, that may be true.

“We had to respond to some problems we had in a very forceful way. This bill does that,” Ralston said last week while urging his colleagues to support the bill. “We had to change some of the ways we did business in this House, and we’ve done that. This bill gets it right.”

In reality, the bill changes little in the way the House does business. For example, it places no limit on how much lobbyists can spend courting their friends in elective office. Three-hundred-dollar meals, $200 golf rounds, free tickets to the Masters and other sporting events — it’s all still legal.

The bill also places no restrictions on the revolving door that allows legislators and legislative staff to transition from public employment to lobbying on behalf of special interests.

That’s not to say the bill is useless. Once signed into law by Gov. Sonny Perdue, the bill will increase the number of disclosure reports that lobbyists must file and also increases financial penalties for those who file late or don’t file at all.

It also requires well-funded candidates for municipal and county offices to disclose contributions and expenses electronically to the state Ethics Commission, which is grandly renamed “The Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.”

After harsh criticism, legislators agreed to drop language from an earlier version of the bill that would have let lobbyists pay for meals, lodging and transportation for officials at resort meetings and conventions without disclosing those benefits to voters. According to Ralston, the provision was withdrawn because it was never meant to harm transparency.

That would be easier to buy if House leaders hadn’t replaced that provision with a more subtle loophole that accomplishes much the same thing. Under the bill as passed, legislators and other state officials can be ferried on corporate jets or commercial flights without it being reported as long as the trip is neither arranged by nor includes a lobbyist.

To drive the point home, the bill states explicitly that the “transparency commission” has no power to require additional disclosures.

In an apparent swat at the pesky “do-gooder” contingent at the Capitol, the bill also requires lobbyists for charitable and non-profit organizations to pay the same $300 registration fee as lobbyists for corporations, a step that will surely reduce the number of those advocating for charitable causes.

The bill does set up a process for handling sexual harassment cases within the Legislature. But even there, the bill says the House and Senate ethics committees “may” — not “shall” but “may” — “report suspected violations of law to the appropriate law enforcement authority.”

Had the bill been handled through the normal committee process, such provisions would have invited questions that legislative leaders would not want to answer. That’s why a bill supposedly devoted to transparency was written in secret and passed hastily, without much opportunity for public input.

That in itself is evidence that the larger problem remains.

151 comments Add your comment

USinUK

April 27th, 2010
7:56 am

““We had to respond to some problems we had in a very forceful way. This bill does that,” Ralston said last week while urging his colleagues to support the bill. “We had to change some of the ways we did business in this House, and we’ve done that. This bill gets it right.””

whoa! whoa! WHOA!!! waaayyyy too many specifics, there, Mr. Speaker!! slow the heck down!!!

USinUK

April 27th, 2010
7:56 am

wow … first … I’d like to thank all the little people who made it possible …

stands for decibels

April 27th, 2010
7:58 am

the bill also requires lobbyists for charitable and non-profit organizations to pay the same $300 registration fee as lobbyists for corporations, a step that will surely reduce the number of those advocating for charitable causes.

Remember, it’s not a tax increase when conservatives do it.

TaxPayer

April 27th, 2010
7:59 am

Doggone/GA

April 27th, 2010
8:00 am

I heard a report about this – not as extensively detailed – and a quote from a legislator touting the fact that they passed “ethics reform.” It seemed to pass him by, completely, that having to DO that is a serious indictment of how business is conducted in the legislature. He didn’t seem to “get it” that they “passed it” because they were being UNETHICAL.

Redneck Convert (R--and proud of it)

April 27th, 2010
8:02 am

Well, 200 bucks would pay for about a dozen rounds of golf up here at Countryland Golf Club. I don’t know why our reps are so dead set on playing at fancy places. They must be afraid of getting a little clay on their shoes.

Anyhow, I give up on the legislature a long time ago. It’s a place where some good old boy starts his first term without a extra nickle to keep the other one company. In about 10 years, he’s got a mansion, about 3,000 acres of land, a country club membership, three bank board seats, and a blonde bombshell on his arm—all on a salary of about $30,000 a year. And nobody even bothers to ask about it.

So if you’re waiting for all this transparency to happen in the GA House and Senate, just keep your eye out for the Easter Bunny. He’ll be with you soon.

Have a good day everybody.

stands for decibels

April 27th, 2010
8:08 am

Later, kids. Try not to bribe anyone while I’m away.

Gale

April 27th, 2010
8:10 am

I wonder, if an honest person did manage to run for office, would he/she get the contributions to run a campaign and get elected? People don’t tend to vote for honesty, they seem to like being lied to; to hear what they want to believe. If said honest person did get elected, how long would he/she stay honest in that corrupt environment?

Brad Steel

April 27th, 2010
8:11 am

Will there be any limitations on lobbyists’ sluttiness or the value of lobbyist’s personal services?

A Master’s ticket may be nice but as a society how can we expect local officials to run the government if a gas company lobbyist can’t help them “pump some gas” every now and then? (wink!)

Peadawg

April 27th, 2010
8:12 am

“Oh, legislators did pass a bill last week that they labeled “ethics reform.””

Like that bill that was passed labeled “jobs bill”? But atleast they are trying!

Doggone/GA

April 27th, 2010
8:14 am

“But atleast they are trying!”

Sure…and you seem to have missed the point also. If they were BEING ethical, they wouldn’t NEED an “ethics bill”, now would they?

Peadawg

April 27th, 2010
8:17 am

“If they were BEING ethical”

They are politicians. Asking a politician to be ethical is like asking a hooker to keep her legs closed. Good luck with that!

USinUK

April 27th, 2010
8:17 am

Peadawg – HEY! shouldn’t you be studying??

oops – shouldn’t you be opining / perusing / excogitating?? :-) did you get a lot done over the weekend??

USinUK

April 27th, 2010
8:18 am

“If they were BEING ethical, they wouldn’t NEED an “ethics bill”, now would they?”

meh – you gotta DRAW a line if only to know when you’ve crossed it.

Doggone/GA

April 27th, 2010
8:18 am

“Good luck with that!”

Then they aren’t really “trying” are they? They’re just white-washing the issue and hoping no one will notice.

Doggone/GA

April 27th, 2010
8:20 am

“meh – you gotta DRAW a line if only to know when you’ve crossed it”

But they aren’t “drawing a line” – they already KNOW they’ve crossed it, so they pass an “ethics bill” with no real changes, and no real punishments and hope no one will notice it doesn’t change ANYthing.

TaxPayer

April 27th, 2010
8:21 am

“The Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.”

These people could really use my services with the creation of names and acronyms for what they do. I was thinking “Go F* Yourself, I Got Mine” are the appropriate words to associate with this legislation. So, “GFYIGM”. Where did they come up with this stuff!

I work cheap. Just not for processed peanuts, sugar-coated or otherwise. I just don’t have the legs for babe alley. Except maybe for this Ralston guy. I’ve seen they way he makes goo-goo eyes at Sonny. Which begs the question, “Will Sonny be back after his term is over, working babe alley?”

SOUTHERN ATL

April 27th, 2010
8:21 am

That in itself is evidence that the larger problem remains…..

Yes it does, therefore we will see how the next administration handles or revises the “Ethics Bill”.

Free Donald Siegelman!!!

TaxPayer

April 27th, 2010
8:24 am

you gotta DRAW a line if only to know when you’ve crossed it.

Sort of a moot point when they’d have to go in the opposite direction in order to get to the point where they should have drawn the line to begin with. I suppose they could claim that they’ll take care of that just as soon as we perfect time travel.

USinUK

April 27th, 2010
8:24 am

Doggone – there are some things that do need lines – like when is a gift a gift? is buying someone a coke a gift? is buying an office a crate of cokes a gift? what if you treat the office to BBQ after your legislation passes – it’s not a bribe because it’s after the fact, but it’s still a significant amount of $$ …

Doggone/GA

April 27th, 2010
8:26 am

“like when is a gift a gift?”

If they really wanted “ethics” in the legislature they could use the rule my company uses: we can’t take ANYTHING from a vendor, client, or customer. Not even a pen or pencil, even if it DOESN’T have any sort of logo on it. NOTHING.

USinUK

April 27th, 2010
8:26 am

in the meantime … nothing like the threat of a stick to get people to do what hey ought:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/7636637/Goldman-boss-Lloyd-Blankfein-admits-bank-should-listen-to-public-opinion.html

“In Goldman’s first public admission that the bank needs to take public opinion into account when making business decisions, he will tell senior US politicians on Tuesday: “We have to do a better job of striking the balance between what an informed client believes is important to his or her investing goals and what the public believes is overly complex and risky.”

The senior banker, chairman and chief executive of the embattled investment bank, will stop short of ceding ground on allegations of conflicts of interest between various parts of its business model, but will admit that if the bank’s clients “believe that we don’t deserve their trust” Goldman cannot survive.”

USinUK

April 27th, 2010
8:28 am

Doggone – there you go … your company drew the line. however, if they didn’t and one of your vendors gave you a t-shirt, would you think that was unethical?? it’s only a t-shirt, after all …

Doggone/GA

April 27th, 2010
8:30 am

“your company drew the line. however, if they didn’t and one of your vendors gave you a t-shirt, would you think that was unethical??”

That’s not the point. The point is they don’t have to “reform” our ethics. A fuzzy line is the same as no line at all. If they truly want to “reform” the ethics, then DRAW the line…don’t just dot it in.

As I said before, this is nothing but white-wash. It’s not ethics, and it’s not reform…and it’s NOT “trying” either.

Peadawg

April 27th, 2010
8:34 am

USinUK, I’m at work. I work a 8-4:30 job m-f.

USinUK

April 27th, 2010
8:35 am

Doggone – “That’s not the point.”

it may not be the entire point, but it is a significant one. if you know and are friends with a lobbyist (which many of these guys are) and you go to Manuels for wings and beer, there’s nothing inherently unethical about it unless someone makes it so.

Matilda

April 27th, 2010
8:37 am

Same as it ever was!!!!! Great song!

I wish the people of Georgia would actually pay attention to this stuff. I rarely meet anyone outside of a political activity or discussion who can actually name his or her representatives under the Gold Dome. They truly have no idea. Beyond sad, it’s just plain stupid.

USinUK

April 27th, 2010
8:37 am

Peadawg – 8:34 – you mean they won’t give you time off to study for a test so that you can get a higher degree and leave their a$$??? ;-)

seriously, my fingers are crossed for you -

Doggone/GA

April 27th, 2010
8:39 am

“you go to Manuels for wings and beer, there’s nothing inherently unethical about it unless someone makes it so.”

It isn’t where you go, or who with, it’s who PAYS for it. I can go to lunch with any vendor, client or customer…but *I* have to pay for the meal. My company will reimburse me if it’s a business lunch. But even if it’s not, *I* have to pay upfront…even if it’s on my own time, and is just a “friends” lunch.

USinUK

April 27th, 2010
8:41 am

Doggone – and that’s the line that your company drew. If the state leg says that the lobbyist can pay $20, then that’s the line the state leg drew.

Union

April 27th, 2010
8:42 am

idiots.. and even bigger idiots if people vote these morons back in..

USinUK

April 27th, 2010
8:43 am

holy crap … who wouldn’t like to see THIS on the state house floor … (click through all 4 pics)

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article7109260.ece

TaxPayer

April 27th, 2010
8:46 am

I offer to pay for the meal every time I eat out and I usually do end up paying. Sometimes my wife picks up the tab though.

Doggone/GA

April 27th, 2010
8:46 am

“If the state leg says that the lobbyist can pay $20, then that’s the line the state leg drew.”

And if they subsequently have to “update” with a new “ethics” bill, then they are admitting they are being unethical.

TaxPayer

April 27th, 2010
8:47 am

USinUK at 8:43,

Maybe that’s what we need.

Zeb

April 27th, 2010
8:49 am

David Ralston has proved himself to be a just another cunning, self-serving lawyer/legislator. Instead of working for change and more open government, he has cynically done the opposite; thinking that the voters are too dumb to notice or protest.
All this smoke and mirrors game has bought Georgia is a ticket to further decline.
We are now operating like a banana republic; or more correctly: a kleptocracy. People and corporations with money and connections get the government that they pay for–by lining the pockets of our elected officials, dumping millions into their campaigns and PAC slush funds . The rest of us get shafted. Our state government is now completely tainted with influence peddling and legalized bribery. No wonder our infrastructure and government functioning have deteriorated to third world levels.

Paul

April 27th, 2010
9:01 am

At least it’s on the radar screen now, Jay. Don’t let’em off the hook.

[[Had the bill been handled through the normal committee process, such provisions would have invited questions that legislative leaders would not want to answer. That’s why a bill supposedly devoted to transparency was written in secret and passed hastily, without much opportunity for public input.

That in itself is evidence that the larger problem remains.]]

Kinda sounds like what some said about the health care reform and financial reform bills. Was listening to a panel discussion the other day – an NPR reporter said none of the Democrats questioned could get very specific about the financial bill. Not a good sign -

Old but not Senile

April 27th, 2010
9:02 am

Having the legislators write an ethics bill is like letting the fox guard the hen house!

AmVet

April 27th, 2010
9:04 am

“you go to Manuels for wings and beer,…”

Yes indeed, that sounds like a good idea!

Let’s face it, when you get to a certain status (and often times it does not even require that) in this country, ethics is just not very popular.

Not in state houses, Washington DC, K Street, Main Street and *especially* Wall Street.

They just don’t pay.

And to these men the almighty buck is more important than integrity or courage or sacrifice or honor or…

TaxPayer

April 27th, 2010
9:10 am

an NPR reporter said none of the Democrats questioned could get very specific about the financial bill. Not a good sign -

For the sake of at least trying to appear to be as unbiased as you like to remind us from time to time, what did they say about the Republicans.

Peadawg

April 27th, 2010
9:11 am

“Peadawg – 8:34 – you mean they won’t give you time off to study for a test so that you can get a higher degree and leave their a$$??? ”

Nope, but they are paying for the classes since I work at uga full-time.

Paul

April 27th, 2010
9:12 am

TaxPayer

That the two sides weren’t that far off and much of what we’re seeing is political grandstanding. The thought was that once the $50 bil liquidation fund was dropped things should move rather quickly.

Paul

April 27th, 2010
9:14 am

Oh, and Taxpayer

[[For the sake of at least trying to appear to be as unbiased as you like to remind us from time to time,]]

I don’t believe I’ve said I’m unbiased; in fact, I’ve referenced my biases. It’s others who make that case in reference to me.

Doggone/GA

April 27th, 2010
9:15 am

“The thought was that once the $50 bil liquidation fund was dropped things should move rather quickly.”

Uh huh. A Democrat voted with the Republicans to NOT override the filibuster, because he wants a provision changed in order to benefit Warren Buffet. Fact, as reported on NPR this morning.

TaxPayer

April 27th, 2010
9:21 am

I don’t believe I’ve said I’m unbiased; in fact, I’ve referenced my biases. It’s others who make that case in reference to me.

How long you been in politics.

TaxPayer

April 27th, 2010
9:23 am

Nope, but they are paying for the classes since I work at uga full-time

Where’d you say you go to school? Ga Tech?

Paul

April 27th, 2010
9:25 am

Doggone/GA

I understood the Democrat was Sen Reid and he voted with Reps in order to call another cloture vote this morning.

TaxPayer

No need to get nasty –

:-)

Doggone/GA

April 27th, 2010
9:27 am

“I understood the Democrat was Sen Reid and he voted with Reps in order to call another cloture vote this morning”

I can’t remember the Senator’s name…but he’s Senator from the state Warren Buffet lives in.

Soothsayer

April 27th, 2010
9:29 am

Let’s run through the fundamental reasons the recovery is bogus, not nascent.

1. Propaganda and “confidence-building” are constantly substituted for reality. The problem, we are repeatedly told, is a “lack of confidence.” Consumers’ and corporations’ accounts are bulging with idle trillions awaiting “renewed confidence” to gush back into the economy, creating millions of new jobs and trillions in new wealth.

2. Tax/borrow and spend is alive and well. States and local governments gorged on the housing/stock bubbles in the last decade, adding billions to their annual tax revenues and spending in just a few years. California went from collecting $76 billion in 2001 to $96 billion in 2008–a 26% increase of $20 billion.

3. The demographic time bomb is still ticking. The aging of the 78 million-strong Baby Boom means that the number of citizens sucking up Medicare expenses (roughly $400 – 500,000 each under many projections based on current costs) will rise by 50% to 67 million in a few years.

4. U.S. GDP and personal income has been propped up by unprecedented Federal borrowing. The private-sector GDP plummeted by $1.5 trillion, so the Federal government borrows $1.5 trillion to backfill the decline. And for good measure, it also socialized the entire U.S. mortgage market, buying or guaranteeing 99% of all the mortgages issued in the past year.

5. The funamentals of housing are dismal for decades to come. The family house, long viewed as the foundation of middle-class wealth, is now a moneypit, a black hole which sucks up wealth.

So let’s add this up. America’s personal income is in a freefall and spending is only flat because the Federal government is borrowing and distributing fully 10.7% of the nation’s GDP every year.

USinUK

April 27th, 2010
9:30 am

Doggone –

Warren Buffett is known as the Oracle of Omaha –

the 2 senators from Nebraska are Chuck Hagel and Ben Nelson

getalife

April 27th, 2010
9:35 am

Ben Nelson just wants more bribes along with his gop friends.

I like Ukrainian politics.

Their cons sell out to Russia and they throw eggs at each other.

Doggone/GA

April 27th, 2010
9:36 am

Thanks USinUK…I don’t remember which one it was, but the report actually said he voted against ending the filibuster because he wanted to change the bill to help Warren Buffet. If I remember correctly, it had to do with those who already own derivetives having to have a greater amount of cash on hand just in case their derivetives go bad.

AmVet

April 27th, 2010
9:40 am

Chuck Hagel got sick to his stomach of the chickenhawks in his own party – the GOP.

He resigned his seat as US Senator in 2009 and was replaced by Mike Johanns…

USinUK

April 27th, 2010
9:42 am

Soothsayer – just out of curiosity – do your links actually drive traffic to your blog?

otherwise … confidence is a leading indicator of consumer spending, whether you agree with it or not. if the consumer is confident about their job / the economy, they are more willing to spend (the less confident they are, the less likely they are to make a major purchase like a car or house) … and, consumer spending, as you are probably aware, makes up nearly 70% of US GDP.

secondly, while I agree with your point about the aging population, that doesn’t have an impact on the current recovery

thirdly, the housing market was way over-inflated, which led to WAY the hell too much inventory – this correction was LONG overdue. that homeowners used their house as an ATM rather than the foundation of middle-class wealth – again, hopefully this has been corrected, as well.

lastly, America’s personal income has been in freefall for the last decade – this isn’t news – it has nothing to do with federal / state debt, but wage stagnation and the increasing cost of benefits such as employer-provided healthcare.

@@

April 27th, 2010
9:48 am

cowboy:

Funny…I don’t remember me telling all the people on here they needed to say something about the 11 missing workers…hmmm.

Never said they needed to, just pointed to the fact that they didn’t. If that offended you…which it obviously did, maybe you should ask yourself why. It wasn’t addressed to any ONE, in particular, yet many of the leftists acted as though it was.

The explosion occurred April 20th. Not until the leak occurred, did anyone think to mention the loss of life. AmVet’s acknowledgment is duly noted SIX days AFTER the explosion, but only as a “spillover”.

Now do you want to continue this? I don’t. I’ve made my point, and quite successfully based on the leftists’ responses.

LD:

The little organisms would be placed near a manufacturing plant so that they could capture the CO2. The octane could then be used to generate operation of the plant. The way I read it, the main objective is to capture. The production of octane is a secondary benefit, limited though it may be.

This morning’s topic sounds very much like the shenanigans offered up by the Obama administration. The American people have been calling on the Democrats to slow down…to think these bills thru so that unintended consequences don’t rule the future. They’re not listening. Why? Because they’re on a short leash, and they know it. They’ve CLAIMED their mandate even though it wasn’t the one Americans were looking for.

USinUK

April 27th, 2010
9:48 am

AmVet – 9:40 – Thanks! :-)

Soothsayer

April 27th, 2010
9:49 am

US in UK: The link is not to my blog. I don’t have a blog. I am not Charles Hugh Smith, although I wish I were. He is one of the few who actually tell it like it is.

Outhouse GoKart

April 27th, 2010
9:51 am

What happened to Obama and all his govt transparency? LOL…just more fodder scarfed up by the naive masses…LMAO!!

AmVet

April 27th, 2010
9:53 am

USinUK, read a good article about how Americans so over-extended themselves in the past 10 years or so. (Written by an ostracized Republican.)

Yes, some was due to mismanagement and greed.

But much of it was do the simple fact that Americans could no longer pay for their insurance premiums or kid’s college educations or getting their roof replaced as needed or getting grandma relocated or…

In other words the basic necessities.

And the banksters were bending over backwards to lend them money at absurd rates.

The simple fact that the liberal Republicans will never acknowledge is that middle class American’s pay has not kept up. In adjusted inflation dollars 80% of American workers are making LESS than they did in 1973! Though their productivity has doubled.

They were in essence forced to borrow more than what was prudent.

But that’s OK, because the big boys were rewarded and they’ll ensure it all trickles down, right?

Morrus

April 27th, 2010
9:54 am

Vote out the incumbents and start over

AmVet

April 27th, 2010
9:54 am

Dang, and here I thought @@ considered me a centrist rather than being given the dreaded leftist label!

(Like I give a …)

Outhouse GoKart

April 27th, 2010
9:57 am

“They were in essence forced to borrow more than what was prudent.”

Forced? Basic necessities? Who were these Americans as I know none of them. The ones I do know seem to have their financial acts together. Save a little here and there for the rainy day or that much anticipated Ohio Players Reunion Album.

Normal

April 27th, 2010
9:57 am

AmVet,
Anything left of hard right is a leftist to @@… :)

USinUK

April 27th, 2010
10:00 am

Sooth – 9:49 – ah – didn’t know if that was your blog or what, so was just wondering.

AmVet – “But much of it was do the simple fact that Americans could no longer pay for their insurance premiums or kid’s college educations or getting their roof replaced as needed or getting grandma relocated or…

In other words the basic necessities.”

I gotta disagree with you, there – Americans have been living WELL-beyond their means for decades, with historically low-to-negative savings rates since the late 1990s

http://www.maxgladwell.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/personal_savings_rate_1.jpg

while I’m sure some of it is to deal with necessities, I think we can all agree that there is a LOT of “keeping up with the joneses” that is done in the middle-upper-middle class – cars, TVs, blu-rays, expensive vacations, etc, that were paid for not by setting aside money, but by credit cards and refinincing.

NowReally

April 27th, 2010
10:01 am

Unaccepted Ethical Behavior is the “NORM” and until the people decide that enough is enough, it will stay the same. At this time, the majority in this state are okay with the ethics in Georgia.

Up Next —-> Goldman Sachs and Fabulous Fab. This shoud be a very interesting hearing.

Normal

April 27th, 2010
10:02 am

USinUk,
I’m not familiar enought with UK politics, so I’ll ask this question. How many political parties are there over there?

USinUK

April 27th, 2010
10:02 am

OGK – “Ohio Players Reunion Album.” – snort.

Normal – 9:57 – seriously.

BugintheirEar

April 27th, 2010
10:02 am

We need to understand where ALL of the lobbyist spend their monies and on who, and this should be posted online. Now let’s go one step further, on every product you buy there should be a breakdown of how much of the cost of that product is taxes.

TaxPayer

April 27th, 2010
10:04 am

Soothsayer,

Perhaps you have been confused with the infamous Swami.

Southern Comfort

April 27th, 2010
10:06 am

Swami Sooth…. hehehehehehe

Matilda

April 27th, 2010
10:06 am

Let me see if I have this straight:

If you were saddened and horrified by the extensive loss of life in American workplaces recently, but you did not come onto this particular blog and say, “Pray for the families of those poor men who lost their lives at work!”, then you are um… a lefty lib who does not care about the lives of your fellow Americans, and only mentions their deaths after the fact to gain favor with “real” Americans? Is that the lesson I’m learning from the (alleged) teacher here? :eye roll:

Southern Comfort

April 27th, 2010
10:08 am

G’morning all

We have a better chance of having a blizzard on the 4th of July than having a meaningful ethics bill. As long as it’s written by those who have to abide by it, it will do much of nothing. Bills that pertain to the conduct of the Assembly should be written and voted on by people with no dog in the fight.

TnGelding

April 27th, 2010
10:08 am

Politics and ethics just don’t mix well. But to think a $300 fee will reduce lobbyists for charities is naive. These folks are raising and wasting millions already. I received solicitations from two I’d never heard of last week. Good old boys will always be good old boys, until the average hard-working citizens that are currently dismissed as nonserious candidates can actually get elected.

USinUK

April 27th, 2010
10:08 am

Normal – I feel like the character in “Tin Men” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094155/) how many parties would you like there to be?

There are 3 Tier 1 players – Tories, Labour and Liberal Democrats (which, despite their name, is actually between Tory and Labour on the liberal – conservative continuum)

There are a few Tier 2 players – Green, UKIP (UK Independence Party), and SNP (Scottish National Party)

Then there are a plethora of Tier 3 players – BNP (British National Party – pretty much skinheads in suits), Respect Coalition (George Galloway’s party), and any number of silly parties at the local level – and, yes, I do mean silly. With the exception of the BNP, no one really takes these minor parties seriously – the BNP is seen as a bunch of hitler youths.

AmVet

April 27th, 2010
10:10 am

“…with historically low-to-negative savings rates since the late 1990s…”

Like I wrote earlier “…about how Americans so over-extended themselves in the past 10 years or so.”

USinUK, save with the banksters and lose even more money to inflation?

For years the interest rates on savings have been infinitesimal.

Having a reasonably sized nest egg is simply not much of an option for those with ever escalating costs and stagnant or dropping effective income.

Throw in an unexpected very serious illness (not remotely covered by insurance) or some other calamity and voila! The perfect storm…

@@

April 27th, 2010
10:12 am

AmVet:

You didn’t set out to defend your delay, which, in my opinion, gives you “C” cred.

You’re just slow is all.

Much to my dismay, today is absent job responsibility so I’m gonna go find find some. First up…a delayed morning run before it rains.

USinUK

April 27th, 2010
10:12 am

Matilda – 10:06 – got it in one. :roll:

USinUK

April 27th, 2010
10:17 am

AmVet – “savings rate” is a misnomer – it refers to people’s income vs. their spending, not just the amount they put into a blue-ribbon account – in other words, their spending has been through the roof, to the point of negative savings – for the last 20-ish years.

“Having a reasonably sized nest egg is simply not much of an option for those with ever escalating costs and stagnant or dropping effective income.”

… especially when people are racing to get the biggest house they can get, drive the newest cars they can drive, buy the latest and greatest computers, etc. There has been a significant shift from living within one’s means to extending ones means to accommodate “aspirational living”.

Bosch

April 27th, 2010
10:17 am

Peadawg lives in Athens? He’s too damn conservative to live in that town!

Southern Comfort

April 27th, 2010
10:18 am

@@

Going by Normal’s decription, I’m a lefty, and I did acknowledge the lives of those lost in the gulf on this blog:

http://blogs.ajc.com/jay-bookman-blog/2010/04/23/eleven-believed-dead-and-oil-sheen-spreading-in-gulf/

The sixth comment on that thread. However, I don’t see myself as a lefty or hard-left anyway, so that comment doesn’t count, right?

Normal

April 27th, 2010
10:20 am

USinUK,
Thanks. I had no idea…no wonder UK politics is so “colourful”! :)

I asked the question because, in some weird reasoning process, I wish that the Tea Drinkers would field their own candidates and win some seats in Congress. This might be a wake up call to the “other” two.

It would make for an interesting November however, I’m a thinkin’…

Soothsayer

April 27th, 2010
10:21 am

I invite everyone to read every day:

Charles Hugh Smith (Of Two Minds)

Michael Panzner (Financial Armageddon)

Mike Shedlock (Mish)

and The Economic Populist

By doing so you will actually know the truth rather than main stream media propaganda.

AmVet

April 27th, 2010
10:22 am

Bosch, ever heard of the UGA Young Republicans?

They are one of the biggest gathering of chickenhawks and neo-cons in Georgia outside of Cobb county…

TaxPayer

April 27th, 2010
10:23 am

written and voted on by people with no dog in the fight

What about folks with eight dogs in the fight?

HDB

April 27th, 2010
10:24 am

Jay…please release me from moderation….the censor got me talking about the Ga-Fla game in the “figurative” context this time….

Thanks….

Normal

April 27th, 2010
10:24 am

People who truly mourned the mine and oil rig deaths did so privately and not for public consumption. Prayer is alway a personal and private endeavor.

USinUK

April 27th, 2010
10:25 am

Bosch – my beloved brother-in-law, an Athenian for the last 40+ years, makes Peadawg look like a dirty effing hippy.

meanwhile, I’m dying for Kam to get here – have a GREAT article to share with you guys …

Paul

April 27th, 2010
10:25 am

OutHouse 9:51

[[What happened to Obama and all his govt transparency? ]]

I think it’s called ‘reality.’

Obama Administration – Defense and Justice – ignore subpoenas

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126119933&ft=1&f=1014

Just another example of “Bush Administration does it, they’re a threat to democracy. Obama Administration does it, there are good reasons.”

Chris Broe

April 27th, 2010
10:25 am

Great piece by Jay! This is Chris (Bob Hope) Broe saying how about our state legislature! The great thing about the lobbyists’ gifts: No assembly required……just kidding, I don’t even think the batteries are included just kidding they have the sexual mores of the energizer bunny just kidding they’re all family men just kidding they’re eunuchs just kidding they have enormous schvanztookers just kidding they pad their BVDs just kidding they pad their bank accounts just kidding…..

just kidding……

Paul

April 27th, 2010
10:26 am

off topic

Hi Bosch

Seen “Release the Kraken” Clash of the Titans yet?

USinUK

April 27th, 2010
10:27 am

Sooth – I think I was confusing you with Swami, so I’m glad we cleared that up.

but, as for “By doing so you will actually know the truth rather than main stream media propaganda” … no, you’ll know their opinions … the best source for “truth” is straight data.

Union

April 27th, 2010
10:27 am

Yawn.. OK.. boring next?

stands for decibels

April 27th, 2010
10:29 am

Back for a bit…of off-topic interest to me–

while I’m sure some of it is to deal with necessities, I think we can all agree that there is a LOT of “keeping up with the joneses” that is done in the middle-upper-middle class

That really needs to be conditioned quite a bit before I’m willing to sign on to that.

I really believe a lot of what drives our p!ss poor savings rate, particularly since the late 1990s, isn’t some hideous consumerist society — sure, there is that at play here to a certain extent, and our dreadful history of shortchanging public broadcasting and hyping commercial TV/radio hasn’t helped — but I’ve seen nothing to suggest that Americans are any more enamored of the latest wireless doodads than their Euro brethren.

No, what drives a lot of Americans to overextend themselves, beyond the crap deal we get on any number of services we pay for that others have consolidated into their taxes like healthcare, internet access, and transit, is real estate a school district. Which by your own admission has been “way overinflated”.

If affordable housing were typically available in great school districts, you’d see people living more within their means. However, in a country where so much of public schools are financed through property tax revenue, parents (and would be parents) gravitate toward as much neighborhood as they can afford. It’s not so much “keeping up with the Joneses”, as keeping up with their kids.

I feel I must point this out because IMHO there is nothing especially selfish or undesirable about this urge, and it kinda ticks me off to hear this factor just ignored altogether in these discussions.

USinUK

April 27th, 2010
10:29 am

Paul – I’m neither a lawyer nor do I play one on teevee, but CAN they release the files if the files are going to be used in a trial?? one wouldn’t think so …

(anyone???)

USinUK

April 27th, 2010
10:31 am

dB – the school district issue is an excellent point -

Matilda

April 27th, 2010
10:32 am

Normal,

I also wish the Pekoe Packers would claim their own candidates. This business of purporting to be a grass-roots cross-section of citizens who are fed up with both parties and affiliated with neither is a bit hard to swallow when I see [photos and videos of] my Republican Congressman leading cheers at their rallies on a weekly basis. Force them to choose! It’s all fun and games as long as there’s no accountability. I’m thinking they’ve just about exhausted playtime and they should put up or shut up.

mm

April 27th, 2010
10:32 am

“idiots.. and even bigger idiots if people vote these morons back in..”

In GA, as long as they are white and republican, they’ll get voted back in. Most GA voters don’t vote with their brains, they vote for race or religion.

Paul

April 27th, 2010
10:35 am

USinUK

I believe the committee took that into account and said they would not make the information public. But with the history of Congress and the Executive leaking even information that can cause grave damage to the US for partisan advantage, I can sympathize with the Administration. Having said that, I can also understand the Administration’s reluctance after their “Hasan’s a lone wolf, absolutely no ties to al Qaeda” initial stance.

Normal

April 27th, 2010
10:36 am

Most GA voters don’t vote with their brains, they vote for race or religion.

That statement explains so much, and will end up being the ruin of Georgia.

Bosch

April 27th, 2010
10:39 am

USinUK,

Conservatives in Athens? Outrageous I say! Outrageous – except the redneck frat boys of the KA. There should be permits or something – you have to pass some kind of liberal test before you can pass through the city limits.

~~~~~~~

Paul,

No, I haven’t. I haven’t been to the movies since Alice in Wonderland – which was quite entertaining. I would like to see it, but alas, my teenagers have demanded my attention and required either my car to take dates out with, or my chauffeur skills to drive to various destinations deemed acceptable by teenagers — so me actually having time to do thing I want to do is out of the question, ya’ know? Like, duh, why do I need time to enjoy anything?