A Presidents’ Day Discussion — How do you rank them?

Forget the Oscars, just in time for Presidents’ Day, C-SPAN has issued its “2017 Survey of Presidential Leadership.” Click here, take a look, and being a blog of history buffs (others might call us geeks but what do they know), let’s discuss how we would rank our leaders.

Here are my thoughts:

1. Hard to argue with the top 4: Lincoln, Washington, F. Roosevelt, and T. Roosevelt.
2. John Adams at 19? Way too low. He cooled firebrands in his own party who desired a war with France that the young nation was ill prepared to fight. More importantly, he established the precedent of peacefully transferring power to an opposing party after a bitter political fight in 1800.
3. Thomas Jefferson at 7? Too high. Sure he purchased the Louisiana Purchase but it is hard to put someone in the top ten when he did not even want to list being president on his tombstone. Take Jefferson and Adams’ ratings, add them together, and divide by two to come up with the place for for both of them.
4. Andrew Jackson at 18? Way too low. Yes, his actions toward the Cherokee Tribe was deplorable but he was a transformational figure who ushered in a more egalitarian democratic American society. Move him into the 10.
5. James Buchanan dead last? Yep. Weak in the face of crisis. He accelerated the country’s slide into the Civil War. Well deserved at the bottom of the list. But for those who focus on political resumes in deciding who is the best candidate consider this – Buchanan had been a Congressman, Senator, Secretary of State, Minister to Russia, and Ambassador to the Court of St. James.
6. Chester Arthur at 35. Never heard of him? He was a corrupt stooge of New York political bosses who became president after a reform minded President Garfield was assassinated. As president, however, he defied expectations and pushed through major civil service reforms. A belief in the power of redemption should take him up a few places.
7. Woodrow Wilson at 11. Too high. Yes, he was reform minded but he was also a rigid segregationist and an opponent of the first amendment. His refusal to work with Congress on the Treaty of Versailles led to its rejection and hastened a period of American isolationism. Take him down a few notches.
8. Harry Truman at 6 and Dwight Eisenhower at 5. About right. Truman stabilized Europe after World War II, stood up to Communism in Korea, and affirmed civilian control of the military in firing the popular General MacArthur. Eisenhower, the Allied Supreme Commander, continued building alliances to block communism but also understood the limits of military power when he refused to intervene in Vietnam’s civil war and warned about the dangers of the military industrial complex in his farewell address.
Continue reading “A Presidents’ Day Discussion — How do you rank them?”

Bills Aimed At Georgia’s Digital Divide

This week’s Courier Herald column:

If you’re reading this column in metro Atlanta, there’s a high likelihood that you’re reading it online. If you’re reading it in South Georgia, there’s a much greater chance that you’re reading it in a print newspaper. That’s partly because the newspapers that syndicate this column are closer to I-16 than they are to I-285, but it’s still emblematic of how those of us in the Metro Atlanta area now get our news.

I subscribe to several newspapers and magazines. I read them almost exclusively online, whether I’m sent a print edition or not. I also have super-fast, reliable broadband that can download not only periodicals, but video at nearly instant speeds. Many of my fellow Georgians in rural areas would consider this an elusive luxury.

This digital divide between urban/suburban areas and rural parts of the state is no longer about luxury however. As the internet has become a backbone of how news, commerce, education, and even medicine is conducted, the lack of readily available, reliable high speed broadband service is all about economic development. Continue reading “Bills Aimed At Georgia’s Digital Divide”

Taking All Bets, Prediction Markets Abuzz Assessing Georgia’s Future

Time to collect all the 3rd floor gossip under the Gold Dome, because prediction markets—more commonly and less accurately referred to as political gambling sites—are open for the 6th congressional districts upcoming special election and Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue’s Secretary of Agriculture confirmation process. Prediction markets have been shown, by some research, to be an accurate tool for aggregating public information about an event, and frequently correctly predict everything from Oscar winners to Supreme Court decisions.

PredictIt is a prediction market site, which is legal in Georgia and 47 other states, and was set up for academic research by Victorian University in New Zealand. It’s used by over 50 universities in the United States, including Yale University and Georgetown University, to research a variety of topics, including microeconomics, political behavior, computer science, and game theory. Continue reading “Taking All Bets, Prediction Markets Abuzz Assessing Georgia’s Future”

Scam PAC + HuffPo = Fake News

This post is about political targets of opportunity. Many people outside the system believe the left and right oppose each other all the time. Politics, unfortunately, runs by a self-serving principle (and principal) too often. As such, elements from polar opposites of the political divide can unite when they see the potential to advance their agenda and/or see profit potential.

This weekend The Huffington Post ran a piece headlined “GOP Congressional Candidate Will ‘End Muslim Immigration,’ Fundraising Email Says“. The first line of the story continues “A fundraising email on behalf of Karen Handel, a Republican running for office in Georgia, promises that she will end Muslim immigration if elected.”

Let’s get the denial out of the way before getting into the problems with the construction of both the article, and the email that it is based upon. From Karen Handel:

“Neither I nor my campaign have any connection to the organization or the people associated with the organization that sent this email. I support aggressive, legal and constitutional means to protect our country and secure our borders. I do not, however, support the use of a religious litmus test in determining an individual’s immigration status.”

It’s been interesting as with most fake news to watch Handel’s opponents, mostly from the left, take this story and run with it on social media as if it’s a direct quote from Handel and/or is representative of her views. While Huffpo can lawyerly claim there’s enough wiggle room in their headline to attribute the quote to the PAC involved, the line “on behalf of Karen Handel” is a bit more troublesome if parsing for truth here.

So let’s first take up the issue of this PAC, and its using Karen Handel and claims of its own making to fundraise…for itself. Continue reading “Scam PAC + HuffPo = Fake News”

Morning Reads — Feb 20

Good morning and happy Monday! It’s the beginning of a great week.




Two politicos help disabled vet settle HOA dispute

Back in December, I wrote about disabled war veteran Daniel Lister who was amid a battle with his Homeowners Association over yard appearance and covenants violations. The HOA had placed a lien on his home, one funded through a Purple Heart program, and fines were piling up – sparking an outrage by readers.

Retired Army Staff Sgt. Daniel Lister served four tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was injured after he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) in 2009. He nearly died. He has since had 30 surgeries, including amputations, over a seven year period. He battled overseas and faced a petty battle here at home upon return.

Continue reading “Two politicos help disabled vet settle HOA dispute”

One FCC Commissioner Urging Caution On Federally Funded Broadband Expansion

PC Gamer ran an article on Republican FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly’s comments in a recent blog post over at the FCC’s site concerning expanding broadband access.  The PC Gamer post takes a stance that the FCC is trying to stifle public access to faster broadband.  How awful is it that an FCC commissioner wants to keep the Interwebs out of the hands of people?  Right?  Are ultra-high broadband speeds (1+ gigabits per second) just novelties, or should all Americans have easy access to huge data pipes?

Well, it’s not so simple.  First, “universal service” works (good, bad, or indifferent) when there is a regulated monopoly in place.  The telephone system was monopolized by the old AT&T with the Bell System.  They owned most of the local operating companies, the long distance lines, the manufacturing arm, and had a powerful research and development arm in Bell Laboratories.  The Bell System was a regulated utility until it agreed to be broken up in the early 1980s.  Universal service as codified in the Communications Act of 1934 (and then in the Telecommunications Act of 1996) continued even as competition ramped up mainly because the infrastructure was already in place (yes, I am probably oversimplifying it).

Continue reading “One FCC Commissioner Urging Caution On Federally Funded Broadband Expansion”

Special Election Set by Governor Deal for Senate District 32

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal issued an executive order this morning setting Tuesday, April 18, 2017 as the date for the special election in Senate District 32. This is the same date as the special election for GA-6.

The Executive Order states:

Senate District 32 in the Georgia State Senate has become vacant due to the resignation of the Honorable Judson Hill, effective February 13, 2017.

Therefore, pursuant to Article V, Section II, Paragraph V of the Constitution of the State of Georgia and Section 21-2-544 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, a Writ of Election is hereby issued to the Secretary of State for a special election to be held on Tuesday, April 18, 2017, to fill the vacancy in District 32 of the Georgia State Senate.

This 17th day of February, 2017.

May the speculation henceforth abound as the candidates line up to replace Sen. Judson Hill.

Three Sides To Every Coin, Rep. Loudermilk Edition

As President Trump tries to distract the media kittens with a laser pointer aimed the leaks from the intelligence community, it’s important to keep a couple of facts in mind, and bring perspective on the debate. It’s not a question of the “leaks” story vs. the “Flynn” story -they’re both important stories, each deserving of their own public airing. Let’s look at the “leaks” story first. 

The deep state in Washington, DC, right now.

We all agree that government has to have some secrets -some things that are not publicly known, kept under wraps in order to keep the nation and its people safe.  Georgia’s Congressman Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville) supports this, and as a former Air Force intelligence officer, he has more than a little expertise in this regard. 

Rep. Loudermilk told the AJC “…that the more burning question was the fact that American intelligence officials were leaking information to the media.

The second-term lawmaker, who worked in intelligence for a portion of his eight-year stint in the Air Force, said the leakers should be “hunted down, fully investigated and sent to jail for a very, very long time.”

“This is very potentially a treasonous act within our intelligence community,” Loudermilk said in an interview Wednesday. “… These are the types of things that happen in Third World countries, in banana republics.”

As statements go, that’s pretty nuance-free, and I don’t think Rep. Loudermilk would be selected to serve as a juror should any of the leakers every face trial.  But 

Continue reading “Three Sides To Every Coin, Rep. Loudermilk Edition”

Morning Reads for Friday, February 17, 2017