Tag Archives: Nathan Deal

Ah, Hell – My State’s Run by Nutjobs

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OK, so this possibly falls into the category of “what else is new,” but Georgia has some real nutjobs occupying corner offices up around the Capitol.

Gov. Nathan Deal, while still a corrupt congressman before becoming a disquietingly astute governor, tested the “birther” bandwagon, suggesting in interviews and speeches that President Barak Obama – who birth certificates and recollections of impartial people who were there at the time indicates was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, one of the United States of America – might not be American by virtue of not having been born in Honolulu, Hawaii, despite all evidence to the contrary. Several Georgia legislators last session introduced the Presidential Eligibility Assurance Act to the General Assembly last year, which – graciously – didn’t go far, and ultimately sent supporters scurrying from its nutter-ness like rats from a sinking barge of dog food.

And now, Deputy Chief Judge Michael Malihi, a state administrative law judge, has had the audacity to order the President of the United States to appear before him, at the behest of Georgia birther nutjob Orly Taitz (a suitably nutty name, no?), to prove he’s American enough to be on Georgia’s Democratic primary ballot in March. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, rather than snuffing out the nuttyness, instead got on his knees and stoked the nutjobs’ flame by sending the president’s lawyers a letter that said the president – the nation’s chief executive, commander-in-chief of the strongest military Earth has ever known and leader of the free world – would fail to appear before Judge Malihi “at your own peril.”

Brian Kemp

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp loves him some birther nutters.

To borrow an abbreviation, WTF?

Is that where we are now as a state? We’ve devolved to the point of ordering the president to come on down here to Atlanta and appear before a deputy chief administrative law judge who’s evidently siding with a crazed dentist over the White House?

Suffice to say, President Obama did not attend last week’s hearing. Neither did his attorneys, nor anyone from the state’s Democratic Party. The hearing was boycotted, and a bench, taped with sheets of printer paper reading “RESERVED FOR DEFENDANT” sat vacant.

Ultimately, Secretary Kemp will have to decide whether or not President Obama, who has served as president these past four years and is seeking reelection to serve four more, and who, according to every official document anyone can find, was born in Hawaii, will appear on Georgia’s primary ballot. A moot point, given that the president is evidently running unopposed in Georgia, and even if he wasn’t, no one of note seems inclined to run against him for the state’s Democratic nomination.

I hope the good secretary will decide not to humiliate himself – and us – any further with this nuttery. And I also hope that, next time we start electing statewide office holders such as himself, we’ll remember the embarrassment he brought upon us.

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It Pains Me, But Don’t Blame Nathan Deal for Troy Davis’ Death

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Look, I’ll be the last guy who takes up for Gov. Nathan Deal. Really, it’s leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

But, I’ve got to do this. I’m just going to lay back, and think of England.

This morning, I saw a retweeted tweet scroll across my Twitter feed from Alec Baldwin: “Nathan Deal has disgraced Georgia, the justice system, the country.”

That may be. But not because of Troy Davis.

History lesson ahead. You’ve been warned.

Once upon a time, there was a state. We’ll call it Georgia, but that’s what most everyone else calls it. And once upon a time in the state of Georgia, there was only one real political party.

That party didn’t care for black people.

So, to make sure that black people didn’t have the opportunity to have a voice in the affairs of the state, the Democrats conceived of the “white primary,” in which only white people could vote. This was OK, the United States Supreme Court said (though about nine years later, they changed their minds).

Also, this one party – the Democrats – decided that it would be unwise to have one big political boss with too much power. Though the Democrats were members of one party, they still hardly saw eye-to-eye on many topics. (Really, the one-party system was an excuse to have a white primary; the divisions within the party were nonetheless very deep.)

Eugene Talmadge

Former Georgia Gov. Eugene Talmadge, who was partial to the white primaries. When he died before taking office for a fourth term, his son, Herman, assumed office. Because that's how we do things down here in Georgia.

To make sure no one person gained too much power, the Democrats devised a way of structuring government that meant that, while the governor was the head of state and technically the chief executive, the power of government was shared among the members of his cabinet, which were elected independently of the governor.

So – while on a federal level, the president gets to nominate his attorney general, secretary of state, secretary of agriculture, etc. – in Georgia, all those people are elected. We elect a commissioner of agriculture, a labor commissioner, a state schools superintendent, an attorney general and a secretary of state, among others.

Also, the power of the governor was further limited by splitting traditionally executive power among a number of politically appointed boards. The governor doesn’t decide which roads get paved; that’s decided by the board of the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The governor’s authority over the state’s judiciary is similarly limited. In some states, the governor can commute the sentence of death row inmates wholesale; the governor of Indiana did that just a few years ago. In Georgia, however, the governor simply doesn’t have that kind of power.

Now, over the years, the power of the Democrats has waned and the Republican Party – Gov. Deal’s party – has become resurgent. The last governor, Sonny Perdue, was the first Republican elected to the governor’s mansion since Reconstruction. The Republicans also control both houses of the General Assembly, though friction there runs deep nonetheless. Republicans have tried to replace their own Speaker of the House and have clipped the power of the Lieutenant Governor, who presides over the Senate just as the vice president does at the federal level, taking away his influence over legislation and committee assignments.

Nathan Deal

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, who doesn't have the power to grant clemency to death row inmates.

So, we’re right back where we began with a one party system. And, for all intents and purposes, because that one party is the Republican Party, we’re also faced with what are essentially white primaries.

So it goes.

Last night, it came down to only three entities that could stop Troy Davis’ execution. The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroled – stacked with political appointees who are sympathetic toward law enforcement and prosecutors but not so much felons – heard Davis’ appeal Monday. Worth noting, perhaps, is the fact that they cut off Davis’ defense team, and allotted the prosecution more time to present their case. They denied clemency for Davis and unceremoniously said they would not reconsider their decision.

There was then the Georgia Supreme Court, but they bowed out pretty early and denied his appeals.

Last was the United States Supreme Court. The appeal was handed to Justice Clarence Thomas – a black man from Georgia who hates to be reminded of either – and he led the discussion at the court. A temporary stay was granted while the Court deliberated.

Troy Davis

The late Troy Davis. If the phone on the wall next to the gurney rang and it was the governor on the line, he probably had a wrong number.

Ultimately, the Court denied the appeal and, by 11:08 p.m., Troy Davis was dead.

We all kept praying that the phone on the wall near the gurney would ring. But if it did, and it was the governor on the line, he probably just dialed a wrong number.

There. I stood up for Nathan Deal.

Don’t look at me. And please, just leave the money on the dresser.

I’m going to take a shower.

Tagged and Bagged; or, Georgia License Plate Choices Are the Pits

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If you don’t know by now, you don’t care, but you’ve got a voice in what your future license plates will look like. Sort of.

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Like what you see here? Yes? Then you must be one holy-rollin' peach fiend!

Hope you like God and peaches.

The Georgia Department of Revenue is holding an online contest, allowing visitors to its site to select their favorite from a series of designs for the state’s new license plates.

All of the tags up for vote prominently feature the state’s signature low-hanging fruit when it comes to graphic design. I’m OK with that (though I think I much prefer peanuts, personally, even if Georgia has tried to shake its image as “The Goober State”), and more endeavor to depict the state’s rustic charm than they do Georgia’s more urban graces. (Surely, with more than 500 submissions though, the Department of Revenue could’ve given us at least one peanut plate to vote on.)

What has drawn the most controversy is that three of the eight choices for the “standard issue” plate substitute the ubiquitous county registration for the legend “In God We Trust.”

I’m not offended offhand by the motto “In God We Trust.” For one, I actually do trust in God. I even accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior (cue gasp from everyone who considers me utterly without faith). But I do believe that my faith is just that – mine – and I don’t adhere to the convention that I need to discuss it with everyone or foist it upon nonbelievers. If you want to know what I think about God and religion, ask me. (I consider continued readership of this blog an implicit ask, by the way.) But don’t expect me to approach you in public or knock on your front door to talk to you about it. One’s faith is a personal thing, and that we each can have a unique and individual relationship to God is something that I find to be one of the most glorious things about the Almighty.

It doesn’t bother me that it’s on currency and other official federal papers and logos. It’s not an endorsement of any particular God (or goddess, bird-headed mystic, multi-boobed embodiment of fertility, pederast cult leader, etc.), but simply a nod to a higher power, whatever that higher power might be. Remember, we are entitled to “certain inalienable rights” not by God, but simply by our “Creator.”

What does bother me, however, is that it has become a battle cry for those who would seek to shove God into other public institutions. It’s a rallying point for people who would prefer prayer in schools and prominent displays of the Ten Commandments in local courthouses. It’s apparent that its inclusion on the state’s proposed license plate designs are less about continuing a nationally-recognized symbol and more of an attempt to brand each of us as fervent Bible-huggers – regardless of whether we happen to believe in God or not.

Also, I learned when I regularly commuted to Atlanta that having the counties on the tag had certain benefits – particularly in a state that has more counties than any other state but Texas. For instance, if I saw someone on Courtland Street doing something stupid in traffic and they had, say, a Habersham tag, I knew that they most likely were lost, confused and didn’t know any better. I’ve been there, and would brake to yield to their intent. On the other hand, if that car hat a Fulton tag, I knew that odds are they weren’t lost; they were just an asshole who knew damned well that what they were endeavoring to do was an asshole thing to do.

Replacing useful information, like the county, with something as superfluous as “In God We Trust” is surrendering otherwise useful tag real estate. If we’re going to go so far as to strike the county from the tag, let’s find something useful to put there. Selling advertising, for instance? “This license plate brought to you by Quick Trip.” I could go for that. I love Quick Trip. I’d put that on my car. Or, “Back Off, Mayhem – I’m with Allstate.” That’s pretty clever. No harm there. Or, can I have a blank space that I can use to write-in whatever I like? “In Me I Trust – Henry David Thoreau” maybe?

But “In God We Trust?” Why? Is the state just trying to goad the ACLU into filing a First Amendment suit that will cost all of us taxpayers more money to defend license plates we don’t like anyway? I’m already pissed that I’m paying good money to pursue litigation against federal health insurance reform that I supported.

Of course, I assume that the number of black people driving with “Heart of Dixie” on their tags out of Alabama probably outmatches the number of atheist and agnostic Georgians who would disavow “In God We Trust,” and that hasn’t stopped Alabama. It is, however, one thing to encourage people to purchase plates that have such messages of their own choosing – as is the case with the popular wildflower tags, historic preservation tags, Sons of Confederate Veterans tags and (inexplicably) the University of Florida tags – and another to mandate that citizens will have this verbiage on their vehicles whether they like it or not.

It isn’t a matter of personal preference, but one of principle. The inscription is not inflammatory; what’s inflammatory is the motive behind it.

The actual process for picking these tags is a little foggy, anyway. Some finalists will be chosen, and then the “winner” will be announced by the governor on July 15. It does not say that the winner will be selected by majority vote; it merely kind of implies it.

You have until July 8 to go to https://etax.dor.ga.gov/TagContest.aspx

and make your “voice” heard. It’s worth it just to see Revenue Commissioner Doug MacGinnitie’s awkward, stumbling, first-take video afterward, which was evidently filmed in an abandoned law office somewhere. (If that’s really his workspace, we got to get him something for those shelves – though, in my mind, I imagine they were previously populated by a collection of wind-up walking penises that the PR staff made him shove in a drawer before they started filming.)

Vote  early and vote often, friends!