Archive for November, 2012

Travelin’ music from just down the street

I posted these guys — the Carolina Chocolate Drops, from Durham, N.C. — a while back, but since they’re appearing tonight down the street at the Variety Playhouse in Little Five Points, and since I’ve already got our tickets in hand, I thought I’d give ‘em another shout-out.

We’ve been blessed with a wide variety of ways to tap into music, from satellite radio to iTunes to standard radio to downloads to Pandora to Youtube videos, but there’s nothing better for musicians and audience alike than experiencing music played live. No matter how good the sound recording or how data-rich the video, it can’t communicate the energy and emotion that flows in live performance.

– Jay Bookman

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Support for legalized pot hits all-time ‘high’

Is it still too late to save the Twinkie?

Earlier this month, voters in both Washington and Colorado approved referendums legalizing the use of marijuana, a decision that puts both states in conflict with federal law. The vote wasn’t close in either state, with the measures passing by a 10-point margin.

According to a new CBS News poll, the people in Washington and Colorado have a lot of company. For the first time since 1979, when CBS began asking the question, support for legalization equals opposition, and the trend line is clear, particularly when you look at the demographic breakdowns.



So far, President Obama has avoided taking a stance on the issue, which puts the federal government in conflict with an increasing number of states (18 have passed medical marijuana laws). Under U.S. law, marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, in the same category as heroin, morphine and LSD. But at some point in Obama’s second term, congressional action to address that conflict is …

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Will GOP live up to its charter-school promises?

Georgia Republicans are a little giddy — and understandably so — about how easily the controversial charter-school amendment to the state constitution passed last month. Their 17-point margin of victory suggests to them that they now have an education mandate that extends well beyond state-created publicly funded charter schools.

For example, the vote is already being cited as a reason to double an existing program that today diverts as much as $50 million in state tax money into private schools. The transfer occurs through a convoluted process that gives the state no ability to regulate those schools or to hold them accountable in any way. “There is a real taste for anything that promotes school choice in Georgia,” state Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, told the AJC. “Obviously voters said that loud and clear. I think the timing is right.”

Republicans are also pleased and a bit startled by the degree of support that charter schools found among black voters in …

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For Republicans, some daunting numbers

You can lead an elephant to water but ...

You can lead an elephant to water but …

Some numbers:

– Thirty-three U.S. Senate seats were up for grabs in the 2012 election. Democrats won 25 of those 33 seats.

– Mitt Romney is going to the White House today to have lunch, not to check out his new crib. And the main reason he will have to dine and dash is because American women rejected both his candidacy and his party, voting for Barack Obama by a margin of 55-44 percent. The gender differential in most down-ticket races was even larger.

– The Republican-run U.S. House has 19 major committees. Next year, it appears that all 19 will be chaired by white males.

– The current Republican House caucus includes 24 women. Next year, that number will drop to 19.

– In the last three presidential election cycles, Americans under 30 voted Democratic by an average of 60 percent. And lest Republicans try to comfort themselves with the argument that it’s nothing new, that young voters always vote Democratic, it simply is not true. In …

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Money can’t buy happiness … right?


Down in Tampa, prosecutors today gave their opening arguments in the trial of DeeDee Moore, accused of murdering Abraham Shakespeare. Her alleged motive?

Shakespeare, a barely literate man with a long record of petty crime, “got lucky” and won $17 million in the Florida lottery. According to police, Moore then finagled her way into Shakespeare’s life, got him to sign away what was left of his winnings, killed him and then buried him in her backyard beneath a concrete slab.

So … have you bought your Powerball tickets yet? I’m told the jackpot is now up to $550 million.

Somebody, somewhere, is likely to have a life-altering experience tonight at 10:59 EST. A lot of their troubles — problems at work, a boss they hate, worries about paying the bills — will disappear, only to be replaced by a whole ‘nother set of problems that in most cases they are much less equipped to handle.

Friendships will be broken. Families may be rent asunder. Simple lives will become much, much more …

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GOP gambled on a fiscal crisis, and are losing that gamble

Republicans in Washington took a gamble — a wise gamble, they thought at the time. Believing that Barack Obama was vulnerable and that control of the Senate was well within their grasp, they put off tough negotiations on tax and budget issues until after the 2012 elections, believing that they would then have the momentum, the votes and the power to remake the federal government as they saw fit.

They lost that bet, and they’re now having to come to grips with the consequences. The fiscal crisis that they sought has now arrived, and they find themselves at a significant political disadvantage. The results of a new ABC News/Washington Post poll demonstrate why:


By overwhelming margins, Americans support the Democratic position of raising taxes on those making $250,000 and more. (And let’s remember, the proposed increase is hardly draconian. For a couple with $350,000 in taxable income, it would represent a tax increase of $4,600, or 1.3 percent of their income.)

By even larger …

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I come to note ‘Taxby,’ not to praise him

NOTE: This includes material published here earlier in blog posts and comments. It is posted here as the electronic version of today’s AJC column.

The last thing Saxby Chambliss needs right now is praise from some liberal. Not with his fellow conservatives already deriding him as “Taxby.” Not with a 2014 primary challenge looking more and more threatening.

So with that in mind, I’m going to resist the temptation to laud Georgia’s senior senator for saying that maybe, just maybe, the nation’s best interests will be served by a budget deal that both raises tax revenue and curtails projected spending.

Nor will I publicly applaud Chambliss for saying that when the time comes to cut a deal, he won’t feel bound by a pledge that he signed some 20 years ago to never raise taxes. Twenty years ago, a lot of things were different. Chipper Jones had yet to play a game in an Atlanta Braves uniform, “Wayne’s World” was the hot new Hollywood comedy, Bill Clinton was the …

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No, Speaker Boehner. Some things have no pricetag


From Politico:


“President Barack Obama made a demand of House Speaker John Boehner near the end of their first White House meeting on the fiscal cliff: Raise the debt limit before year’s end.

Boehner responded: ‘There is a price for everything.’”


There is a price for everything. How lovely.

I’ll tell you what the price OUGHT to be: $223,500. That’s how much Boehner is paid each year by the taxpayers of this country to do his job. And as Boehner knows as well as anyone, a basic part of that job is ensuring that the government does not default on its debt.

Let’s be clear: Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize so much as a penny more in spending. It merely allows the Treasury to borrow the money to pay the bills that previous Congresses and presidents have already incurred. If Boehner can’t or won’t handle that basic responsibility, he needs to resign.

This is really amazing if you think about it. In the 18 times that the debt ceiling had to be raised under …

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The Benghazi narrative spun by Fox now in ruins

For at least a few conservatives, Election Night opened eyes about the danger of confining yourself to the right-wing information echo chamber. Because out here in the real world, as opposed to ConservaWorld, it turned out that the polls weren’t skewed, Mitt Romney wasn’t surging and a majority of the American people really did want to re-elect Barack Obama as their president.

Those who had relied on Fox “News” for their information were prepared for none of that.

To my mind, though, the utter collapse of the Fox narrative regarding the attacks on our consulate in Benghazi should be at least as instructive for those who are willing to see things as they are, rather than how they wish them to be. For more than two months, the network and those in Washington who follow its lead tried to create a firestorm of controversy regarding Benghazi, but time and again, as facts came to light, each right-wing claim about Benghazi was exposed as false and inflammatory.

Let’s review the …

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Fox News exposed on its own turf

What happens on Fox “News” if you challenge one of their most-cherished narratives?

If you’re Tom Ricks, author, Pulitzer Prize winner and former military affairs reporter for The Washington Post, the interview ends abruptly and you’re sent quickly packing, probably ensuring that you will never see Fox air again.

Nicely done, Mr. Ricks. (Transcript below).

It got me to thinking, though. Back in the day, David Allan Coe had a country hit titled “You Never Even Called Me by My Name,” which he claimed was damn near the perfect country song. All it lacked was a mention of “momma, or trains, or trucks, or prison or gettin’ drunk.” So Steve Goodman, who had co-written the song with John Prine, sat down to write Coe a new closing verse. It went like this:

“Well, I was drunk the day my momma got out of prison,
And I went to pick her up in the rain.
But before I could get to the station in the pick-up truck,
She got runned over by a damned old train.”

So … what would be the perfect …

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