Archive for August, 2011

An emergency session of Travelin’ Music, to cool things down

Well, I was saving this for tomorrow’s Travelin’ Music, but when disaster looms and it’s time to rush in emergency relief, who am I to hold back? Eric Cantor?

Cool out and enjoy Sister Ella.

– Jay Bookman

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With major hurricane looming, is federal aid in doubt?


Hurricane Irene, now a Category 3 storm, is headed up the Eastern Seaboard, threatening considerable damage and loss of life.

As the Weather Channel puts it, “this is a particularly threatening situation … computer models are currently trending toward a forecast solution of rare potency for portions of the Northeast. … Irene has the potential to be a serious and multi-hazard threat for the major metropolitan areas of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. This includes Norfolk, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Hartford, and Boston.”

At this stage, Irene is predicted to still be a Category 2 storm, with winds of 100 mph, by the time it hits the Washington, D.C. area sometime Sunday morning. A storm that big, hitting a handful of the nation’s densest urban areas almost simultaneously in a region not conditioned to hurricanes, has the potential to be a major disaster, requiring a full-out response by local, state and federal officials.

Or, maybe not.

House Majority Leader …

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Moammar Gadhafi and his unrequited love

Libyan rebels pawing through the Tripoli compound of Moammar Gadhafi have stumbled on some odd things, as might be expected. One guy made off with Gadhafi’s famous hat and scepter.

They also seemed to enjoy rubbing the bottom of their shoes on Gadhafi’s face.


AP photo/Sergey Ponomarev

But the most disconcerting discovery may be the extensive photo album found in Gadhafi’s quarters featuring picture after picture of former Secretary of State Condi Rice.


AP photo/Sergey Ponomarev

The apparent fixation with our former secretary of state isn’t breaking news. As The Guardian noted in reporting about Rice’s 2008 visit to Libya:

“In an interview with al-Jazeera television last year, Gadafy spoke of Rice in unusual terms, calling her “Leezza”. “I support my darling black African woman,” he said. “I admire and am very proud of the way she leans back and gives orders to the Arab leaders … Leezza, Leezza, Leezza. … I love her very much. I admire her and I’m proud of her because she’s a …

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PSC newcomer yet to master subtle art of back-scratching

There’s the right way to do these things. And then there’s Tim Echols’ way.

Echols is a member of the state Public Service Commission, charged with regulating the state’s energy utilities, telecom companies and trucking and limousine services. As Kristi Swartz reports in today’s AJC, Echols wrote a letter back in March to Augusta National Golf Club, using official PSC stationery, requesting two tickets to a practice round of the Masters.

“As a statewide elected official, I would welcome the opportunity to visit with constituents and guests in our state,” Echols wrote.

Getting no response to his first letter, Echols stepped up the heat. He wrote another letter, demanding access to the grounds to allow him to inspect limousines being used to service members, players and guests at the tournament, so that he could ensure that they were properly licensed by the PSC.

He still didn’t get in.

If you’re wondering how Echols came up with such a cockamamie approach, I may be able to …

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Rick Perry, the GOP’s new BMOC; Mitt Romney, not so much

Mitt Romney is playing the long game in his bid for the GOP presidential nomination, which is pretty smart for a couple of reasons:

1.) His top two challengers, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, both have high probability of doing and saying stupid things that would cause their self-destruction.

2.) He really has no other choice. He knows he’s not the hot date that Republican primary voters dream about as their escort to the big dance. He just hopes to be the steady, nerdish, boring guy — the one who shows up driving his mother’s Audi — that they’ll settle for once other options are no longer available.

Two new polls demonstrate the wisdom and necessity of that approach. Gallup, for example, reports that 29 percent of Republicans now favor Perry as their party’s nominee. Romney, who drew 27 percent as recently as June, has fallen back to 17 percent. Ron Paul, at 13 percent, and Bachmann, at 10 percent, are the only other two in double digits. (Herman Cain, a previous flavor of …

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Teen pregnancy, taxes and climate change: Evidence matters

It is one of the great under-reported success stories of our time.

Twenty years ago, roughly 62 out of every 1,000 teen-age American girls were giving birth. Here in Georgia, the numbers were much, much worse. At the time, we had the highest teen-age birth rate in the country, at 126 births per 1,000 teen-age girls, twice as high as the national average.

The good news is that by 2009, the most recent year for which statistics are available, the national teen birth rate had fallen to 39.1 births per 1,000 females, a 37 percent decrease and the lowest rate ever recorded in this country. (It’s still among the highest in the Western world.) Here in Georgia, the decline was even more dramatic. By 2009, the rate of teenage births here had fallen to 47.7 per 1,000, still above the national average but a startling reduction of 62 percent.

That’s a lot of individual lives that have been saved and changed. It’s a lot of money saved for the taxpayer as well. Those improvements have …

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Georgia Republicans believe themselves invulnerable

In politics as in sports, it’s dangerous to get cocky.

And Georgia Republicans have gotten cocky. They have come to feel invulnerable and complacent, convinced that their constituents’ intense dislike of Democratic policies at the national level has given them a free hand to do as they wish here in Georgia, without consequence or backlash.

Ethical missteps, bad judgment, failure to govern — they believe that none of it matters as long as those magic words “Barack Obama” retain the power to distract and anger Georgia voters.

Want proof? Let’s review events just from the first eight months of 2011.

The year kicked off with the revelation that House Speaker David Ralston had taken his family and staff on a $17,000, all-expense paid holiday trip to Europe, courtesy of lobbyists for a high-speed rail company. In our much-reviled Congress, such behavior would result in severe censure or even removal from office, but here in Georgia it barely raised an eyebrow. In fact, Ralston …

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With Gadhafi’s ouster, a world of possibilities for Libya and its people

Moammar Gadhafi, a longtime dictator and sponsor of the Lockerbie bombing and other acts of international terrorism, has finally lost his grip on power. Libyan rebels have taken the capitol city of Tripoli and are trying to capture Gadhafi, whose whereabouts are unknown. He chose to fight until the end and will now reap the consequences of that decision. Personally, I’d be surprised if he survives at the hands of those with a long, long list of grievances against him, many of a quite personal nature.

For that same reason, Bashar Assad must be shaking in his Syrian slippers. As the Guardian reports:

“The germs of Syria congratulate the rats of Libya,” read many a Tweet, referring to the terms used by each of the countries’ leaders for those fomenting unrest against the autocrats’ rule.

Others activists used the network to urge Assad to watch the news and realize he was next. The situation in Syria is less certain as the regime continues to crack down against almost exclusively …

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Perry the GOP frontrunner in Ga., and nationally as well

Via Jim Galloway, a poll of Georgia Republicans by Channel Two Action News and InsiderAdvantage:

Rick Perry: 24 percent;

Herman Cain: 15 percent;

Newt Gingrich: 9 percent;

Michele Bachmann: 8 percent;

Mitt Romney: 6 percent;

Ron Paul: 5 percent;

Jon Huntsman: 1 percent;

Undecided, 20 percent.

It’s no surprise that Perry’s doing well in Georgia, but the size of his lead is a little startling so soon after his entry into the race. The fact that Romney, the longtime frontrunner who has been in the race for months, draws just 6 percent here in the Peach State is a stark reminder of his problems with the party’s conservative base.

In a similar poll taken in Florida earlier this month, before Perry’s official entry, Romney pulled 25 percent, with Perry drawing support from 16 percent and Bachmann getting 10 percent. I doubt those numbers would be duplicated today, with Perry now an official candidate.

The most recent numbers out of South Carolina, another important primary state, …

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Vacation ramblin’, ramblin’ thoughts and ramblin’ music


Ah, vacation.

The family wedding and reunion went off beautifully. My brother, sister and I, along with marital units, took in a game at Fenway Park Wednesday (the BoSox, alas, lost 4-0). On Thursday, we went fishing for bluefish and bass off Nantucket and caught probably 40 fish in a few hours. It was crazy. My wife was the day’s top fisher(wo)man, nailing a 36-inch striped bass. Fresh fish for dinner last night.

One of the benefits of having grown up all over the country as a military brat, and working in every corner of the country as an adult, is feeling a connection to all the places I’ve lived over the years. You’re a native nowhere, but a stranger nowhere as well.

As the great Allman Brothers put it …

– Jay Bookman

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