Number of posts: 212
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By Monica Smith:
snake oil salesmen
HSA stands for Health Savings Account, which is what Congress wants to substitute for the ACA to get them off the hook doing what they don’t want to do anyway — provide for the general welfare. The “general welfare” is such a plebeian assignment and never done! Privatization, here we come!
The problem is that bankers …
show me your papers
The first time I was evacuated was in early 1942, at the age of nine months. The allies bombing the German City of Aachen every night had become too traumatic, so my mother took her babe and fled to the Austrian Alps.
So, I spent the next three years in this rustic farm building: two rooms and a veranda and outhouse on the second floor; wood storage, bake oven and chicken coop on the first; no electricity; no running water.
That’s a question I asked in connection with our utility’s plan to make $41 million in capital improvements in the next five years. The consultant who put together the list and the necessary funding strategies for the JWSC claimed that was a question he’d never considered.
In trying to find an answer to how many jobs are produced by a million dollar investment, I discover that it’s a question that is being asked all around the globe, but no firm answers are forthcoming. Everything’s relative and depends on local conditions. Duh!
protecting our coast
Imagine going into the barbershop for a trim and coming out with a shaved head and a couple of missing ears. That’s about what happened to the storied Marshes of Glynn along the Jekyll Island Causeway. The barber of Jekyll Island, with an assist from the Georgia Department of Do Not Respect, has taken his shears to the Causeway to “trim” the place up.
A letter from one Karl Burgess, in the Coastal Resources Division, acknowledged the trimming plan, but apparently failed to mention that the assistants he was going to provide were novices at their jobs.
Seven is a lucky number, but three’s a charm.
I’ve been told that the brain can’t keep track of more than seven things at a time. I’ve tried and it is really difficult to view seven fish at one time in the pond. I ended up counting them by size and then adding the groups to account for my dozen. There are now fewer fish. I don’t see all the birds that come for a meal.
Anyway, I remain convinced that the brain has to be exposed to any new information at least three times before it sinks in. That may well be a default to prevent attention overload.
police killing of caroline small
It was well covered in the news, the local reporter says. And, indeed, the Atlanta Journal Constitution has been on the story for a long time. After all, the shooting of Caroline Small, by two Glynn County, Georgia, cops, occurred over five years ago, well before cops shooting citizens became a topic of national disgust.
About a month ago, some strangers with a camera showed up at the Glynn County Commission meeting, but nobody knew why they were there. The only thing that happened that night, which the visitors might have noted, but probably didn’t, was that the Commission passed an imprudent resolution…
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources explanation for their most recent initiative to gin up support for their activities in the populace (“develop an environmental ethic,” in Spud Woodward, the Director’s words) reads as follows:
The Coastal Georgia Ecosystem Report Card is an important tool for planning restoration activities and conservation. It provides a transparent, timely, and geographically detailed assessment of health in coastal Georgia…
it wasn't me
About a quarter century ago, when Hercules Specialty Resins was still spewing its sulfurous emissions across the marshes of Glynn to be dissipated by mingling with the off-shore breezes, local wags dubbed the odiferous environment “the smell of money.” They may have been more right than they thought. For, within a decade, all profits had apparently gone up the chimney, even as every rain storm deposited more toxins to poison the marsh…
mostly white history
It is often said, “history is written by the victors.” I’ve found that not to be quite true in my research – at least not in the American South. Since the invention of the printing press, history has been based mostly on what the people who got themselves noticed by newspapers and had both the inclination and time to preserve their clippings in the archives historians are wont to peruse. In other words, historians ending up with a biased perspective is not entirely their fault. They work with what they’ve got.
walking, gates & police
Car culture seems to be waning in the U.S. Which is not to say that people are giving up automobiles, but that the cars are no longer determining how people live and express themselves. Cars are becoming more utilitarian, judged on their useful and practical attributes, whose appearance is not so much an expression of the driver’s psyche as a matter of taste. There is evidence that car culture is waning. A new study finds that urban sprawl, characterized by dead end streets and cul de sacs in neighborhoods has been decreasing since 1994.
national flood insurance
It has been hard to get timely, accurate information. In the early years of the 21st century, some group was tracking the transfer of dollars from the federal treasury to the states, which generally showed that the majority payments were in the form of various types of insurance subsidies: mortgage insurance, housing insurance, health insurance, flood insurance, crop insurance and higher education loans.
The data collection stopped, perhaps because of objections from the insurance industries at having their transfer function exposed. Or maybe all of my computer crashes and software switches are the reason I no longer can find the information.
It’s a phrase that just popped into my head out of the ether the other day. And, sure enough, Google has a handy reference in a book by a Scottish minister, David Gilkison Watt, who died in London in 1897, after having visited both India and St. Petersburg, Florida. Watt was a missionary, so it’s perhaps not surprising that in his writing he promoted the wisdom he found in the Book of Ezekiel — i.e. long before his time. I don’t know if his “Homiletic Commentary on the Book of Ezekiel” was timely when he wrote it, but it sure seems timely now.
Occupy lives from coast to coast. It’s just no longer news. In Oakland, the images of martyred young men are “planted” along with real flowers and trees to start a garden of hope. That’s the Oakland Spring.
Three years ago.
At least not in Glynn County, Georgia. Nor, I suspect, many other places where duplicitous Republicans reign. In some instances, “protection” is a euphemism for extorting money that you shouldn’t have to pay out, if our public servants were doing their job. The Mafia and home insurance come to mind. Which is why, when the term is used by those whom we’ve hired to “serve and protect,” we are relieved to think that, at last, somebody’s doing their job. Think again.
The reports of a settlement on Sea Island, Georgia, are disturbing on many counts, not the least of which is that the Sea Island Company no longer exists. Not only have many of the assets of the bankrupt, family-owned firm been acquired by an artificial body that called itself “Sea Island Acquisitions,” as if acquisition were an honorable enterprise, but that Limited Liability (little responsibility) Corporation has now morphed into an alphabet string that’s not even a pronounceable acronym, SIA PROPCO II, LLC…
Once upon a time it took thirty pieces of silver to sell out a man. Now, in the electronic age, when all precious metals have been replaced by paper or electric currencies, millions of people, some not yet born, can be sold out for next to nothing. That’s progress. Some people work to conserve the environment and to prevent further pollution and degradation of the organisms that make up the basic web of life. Others are content to simply exclude their fellow man. Still others promote financial interests by making some lands inaccessible…
poisoning our wetlands
Dear Alex Atwood,
The problem with the Cons (conservative, contrary, confused, conflicted, concerned, convoluted; take your pick) is that they are negative — against not just change, but most everything else. So, since the world is in a state of constant change, they are “out of step,” so to speak and that makes them both ineffective and angry. It is a mistake to think the Cons we install in public office will accomplish anything positive…
why it matters
Community Forum on Marsh Buffers & Clean Waters, March 4 at 7:00 pm, Ballard Community Center, Brunswick, GA.
And, because such events need to be sponsored and the environment can never have too many friends, we’re organizing a new group, the Sidney Lanier Environmental Advocacy Team or S.L.E.A.T.– sporting the unofficial slogan “Making sure our environment is good to eat.”
glynn county, ga
BMPs, short for Best Management Practices, the playbook upon which environmentalists rely to guide developers and other soil disturbers to do the right thing, are failing. The question is why. I don’t think the spouse, who observes that, in his youth, BMPs referred to “bowel movements with pee,” is on the right track, even though the venue, the southland, is apt. I really don’t think the blatant disregard for best management practices, especially on the part of public agencies, ranging from the Georgia Department of Transportation to the Glynn County Department of Public Works can be blamed on linguistic disconnects.
anything to win
James Holland writes: Glynn County public works is at it again. I thought my eyes were lying to me when I observed the images in my photos. Tide coming in and you can see how high it is and it is still coming. Glynn County simply has to be the most unscrupulous county in the entire state. Why is it that they continue to do this when all the science is out there about what buffers do to protect our marshes and waters? If anyone knows the name of the single individual that gave the order to do this would you please enlighten me so I will know who is the dumbest person in this county….
Not having grown up American, I find that I am often ignorant of American culture. On the other hand, when it is pointed out to me, I see it as an outsider and, I sometimes think, more clearly. That was the case with the car culture “discovered” by my spouse in the American cinema. We agreed that the ancillary side-effects of Americans’ love affair with their cars — urban sprawl, social disruption, environmental degradation, individual isolation — are all deplorable…
culture of obedience
The saga of Don Siegelman, the former popular democratic Governor of Alabama, who was convicted and imprisoned on largely trumped up bribery charges and whose prosecution has been, so far unsuccessfully, appealed continues to befuddle his supporters. That’s because, I would argue, Siegelman having supporters, who believe in his innocence, does not carry the weight with the judicial system they might think. Rather, it’s because he has supporters, who are likely to be impressed and depressed by the effort to break him and grind him down, that his persecution seems worth while. It’s not senseless at all.
What kind of idiots shell out, or commit themselves to borrow, two hundred thousand dollars for a row house and then sign on to a “warranty” that warrants nothing other than their responsibilities as buyers and owners? Rubes from the hinterlands of Georgia, mostly, but also a bloke in New South Wales. Imagine!
I have written earlier about the mortgage notes that condition a loan on the buyers of property ceding their civil rights to the financier — e.g. on a standard Georgia form the borrower…
Your dollar or your word? Which would you rather give or receive to satisfy an obligation? A dollar isn’t just tangible and guaranteed, it’s definite and final in the sense that there’s no reconsidering, waffling or fudging down the line. When you hand over a dollar, the deed is as good as done. The national currency introduces an element of certainty into relationships that might otherwise be fraught with ambiguity. Dollars let people, who don’t know each other very well, get along.
So, what happens when dollars are scarce?
get money moving
Money, the life-blood of the nation
Corrupts and stagnates in the veins
Unless a proper circulation
Its motion and its heat maintains.
– Jonathan Swift
For the first time since 2009, the rate at which the dollar moves through the economy on its way to becoming part of the Gross National Product has increased. The Federal Reserve data collectors had to extend the number out three digits to get there. But, from a low of 1.381, we’re now up to 1.386.
In Glynn County, Georgia, I recently discovered, the county planning staff has been passing off amendments to the master plan, drawn up by developers, as their own. At least, we still have an elected County Commission involved. In East Texas, it turns out, developers set up new taxing districts that then sell bonds to finance their projects by holding elections in which a single vote is cast by someone who’s been moved onto the land just to satisfy a legal requirement. The Dallas Morning News has been covering the scam. No wonder voting has become a big issue in Texas.
down the drain
The ethical man keeps his hands to himself and does not destroy what he admires and loves. The ethical man does not subscribe to the excuse that “you always hurt the one you love. The ethical hurts no-one at all. Most of the electorate is probably too young to remember the perverse responses Jimmy Carter’s admission of having lusted in his heart occasioned among Republicans. In retrospect, it seems rather obvious that people, who live and die by the euphemism, were ready to believe that Carter had uttered a prevarication…
insults to nature
How does that happen? Mostly, it’s the result of a mixture of hubris and inadvertence. Humans, stuck on themselves, think they know it all. Others are convinced “all it takes is the idea” (the ExxonMobil slogan) and, as it was in the beginning, man says the word and nature is obedient.
Fortunately, the age of electronics has made it possible to virtually eliminate inadvertence. We can look ahead and simulate what will happen, if we repeat the mistakes of the past. That’s what James Holland is doing…
the natural world
My spouse of fifty years has a quirky brain. It looks for things that aren’t there. Which is probably why one of his favorite poems is Antigonish or “The man who wasn’t there,” by Hughes Mearns.
Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today,
I wish, I wish he’d go away…
Let it not be said that our far Northwest state, Alaska, has a monopoly on Nowhere. While their “Bridge to Nowhere” garnered much national attention on the political and comedy circuit, here in Southeast Georgia, we’ve got a whole lot of nowhere. Not only have we got the state Department of Transportation doing a major expansion of a road to nowhere from two lanes to four, we’ve got a peninsula on our island (bet you didn’t know that it was possible to have a peninsula on an insula), sporting more than fifteen mapped roads that aren’t to be found on the ground.
sea pines, ga
What’s a dynamic dune? It’s a reference that was changed to just “dunes” in the law, perhaps because it left too many people confused. Or perhaps the idea that dunes change and move was upsetting to people who want their environment to stay the same.
In any event, it’s hard to deny that the purveyors of entertainment on Sea Island, Georgia, are bound and determined to “fix” their venue, even though it means breaking the law to do so. Pictures don’t lie.
handmaiden of segregation
Why do we care what happens in Ferguson, Missouri? Because on some level we recognize that if any one group or community can be officially deprived of their human and civil rights without restraint, then it can happen to any other group or neighborhood. Sea Island, Georgia is proof. Sea Island, Georgia has been turned into an exclusive neighborhood. Random visitors are turned away at a guarded gate and even residents driving off the island must pause and wait for the barricade to rise and let their vehicle pass unscratched.
not a spectator sport
That’s how the attendees at the Glynn County Democrats’ Annual Dinner want everyone to think about our state. Georgia is a democratic state. Republican rule is just a blip, the result of Democrats being too generous and thinking the other side ought to have a chance to win.
That, in a nutshell, was the message from the five candidates and two surrogates who showed up for the Glynn County Democrats’ Fish Fry last evening. They obviously weren’t expecting 240 people and the catering service took some time catching up. But they did and everyone was satisfied. There wasn’t room for the key lime pie, anyway.
unfit to eat or drink
Too little too late? Georgia is one of those states where there is much bruiting about “local control” and how the people who live there know better what’s good for them. This editorial from the Brunswick News lays it out nicely: “In this country there are laws against stealing land, but that doesn’t stop the federal government and its oversized bureaucracies from doing it. They accomplish such thievery simply by changing the rules whenever they get a hankering to do so.”
Who knew? We’ve got some snotty residents on St. Simons Island who collect their mail at the Sea Island Post Office so they can pretend they live where they don’t. Now they’ve been discombobulated by the armed guards at the gates and collecting their mail has proved an inconvenience. Not to worry. The Sea Island Acquisitions people will just move the P. O. out of their exclusive enclave and give it a new home on St. Simons while they continue to pretend that the Sea Island Road is as exclusive as that cesspool on the dunes known as Sea Island.
grass is always greener
You get a hint of the problem. Of course, the article I’m referencing was published way back in 2001. But, the mindset is telling. The author, who was employed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, dismisses one kind of grass as a bank stabilizer because: “Fescue tends to clump in our climate and wither in droughts. It fades in hot, dry weather, which lets weeds, brush and other noxious vegetation grow. Fescue is simply not a turf type grass.”
do it yourself
So, the Supreme Court has ruled that there is no Constitutional basis for agents of government requiring employers to provide particular kinds of health insurance coverage to their employees. But, I’d go further and argue that, if health services are part of the general welfare responsibilities of government, delegating those to employers is both irresponsible and inefficient. Adding a layer of middlemen in the form of insurance companies is bad enough. Expecting employers to pay the bill is adding insult to injury.
It’s almost pathetic, the Sea Island Beach Club setting up a playground in the dunes along the lines of “if we build it, they will come.”
Then along comes James Holland on one of his morning inspection flights, takes pictures and circles what he judges to be clearly illicit intrusions and impositions on the dynamic dunes.
And Holland’s got the statutes to prove his point:
Is it possible for citizens to be bribed for their votes by a muffin and/or a couple of slices of pizza? I sure hope not. In my case, I was really put off by Comcast and “Ready for Hillary” getting access to New Hampshire Democrats at their state convention via an infusion of callories for breakfast and lunch. It’s hard to know what the party staff were thinking when they invited Comcast to make a fifteen minute presentation and the Hillary people comcast a full hour to flog her book. “Hard Choices” is a phrase no Democrat should use, since it inevitably means that someone other than the chooser is in for a tough time.
Like an amoeba, Rayonier is splitting, but not in the interest of promoting organic existence. Rather, the real transformative and productive endeavors, which informed the operations of the original corporation to convert trees into paper and other useful products, is being left behind, as the new moniker, Rayonier Advanced Materials, Inc., is clearly designed to disguise, in the interest of promoting speculation in Real Estate development. I suppose we could say it’s a matter of separating the doers from the seers.
pluff mud slinging
If it’s hard, their solution is to just not do it. Maybe it’s only Republicans in Georgia that react that way. Jack Kingston, who’s now seeking a seat in the United States Senate, the gentleman’s club, complained bitterly when the Democractic Speaker of the House decreed that that body would be in session five days a week. More recently, Kingston has been joined by Judson Turner, the Director of the state’s Environmental Protection Division, who determined that protecting the marshes from pollution and sediment intrusion was just too hard and just wrote the whole thing off.
Never mind that in the U.S. it has been become all the rage, since the supposed cradle of central planning, the U.S.S.R., crumbled. That raises suspicion about the sincerity of the opponents to begin with, but might be explained as a simple case of rivalry rearing its head. More worrisome is the realization that, in terms of man’s well being, failure may be what planning ultimately aims for.
In other words, planning on a grand scale looks to be designed to destroy the population for whom it claims to provide…
That’s what the spouse said when I wrote him how surprised and disappointed I was to discover that Michelle Nunn has gratuitously endorsed the XL pipeline from Canada, because buying oil from “neighbors” is better than from overseas, as well as to read a report that Nunn wants changes to Obamacare to allow cheaper policies for the young.
guns and domestic violence
I’ve argued for some time that, if we are serious about preventing serious crime, then we address behavior at an early stage — i.e. when it’s just abusive and not the cause of serious injury. Now the Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, has agreed that a proved abuser of another’s rights can be properly deprived of the right to own a tool, whose sole purpose is to perpetrate an assault from a distance. Mr. Castleman of Tennessee is prohibited from owning a gun because over a decade ago he was convicted of having abused a spouse.
from pompey’s head
From 1954 to 1956 we lived down the street from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Two years was about par for course for living anywhere, but I did get to spend my high school years in the vicinity of 161st Street, albeit in three different apartments. By that time, relocating every two years had become one of my maternal parents fixed habits.
It is said that seven moves are equivalent to a house going up in flames.
The University of Georgia media collection features a handful of town films. The one about Athens, Georgia is the most complete in the sense of presenting the whole community, on the ground and from the air. The description accompanying the offering on the web page is somewhat inaccurate:
Because of its business and housing content, we believe this 16mm color amateur film of scenes in and around Athens was made by Joel A. Weir who was, at that time, Executive Director of the Athens Housing Authority as well as Director of the Athens Chamber of Commerce (1931-1949). This short clip (14 mins.) is excerpted from the full film (approx. 45 mins.) and is silent.
Instead of naming their new subdivisions the Dune Cottages, the Ocean Forest Cottages and the Riverside Cottages and then running their Dune Avenue down the Sea Island Spit, where the Loggerhead Turtles nest and 144 species of birds come to rest, making reference to the sea of effluent on which their cottages sit would be more honest, but it wouldn’t attract many new buyers for Sea Island Coastal Properties’ million dollar lots, would it?
the power to corrupt
James Holland has dug into his archives from his days as the Altamaha River Keeper (ARK) to remind us that it’s not just North Carolina that’s got a coal waste problem.
The Duke Energy coal ash spill in North Carolina has been in the news a lot, as of late. This tragedy on the Dan River in North Carolina started me to thinking about how one of Georgia’s main rivers and lakes may be quite vulnerable to a coal ash spill at Milledgeville, Georgia. The lake is Lake Sinclair and the river that is dammed to create Lake Sinclair is the Oconee River in the Altamaha River watershed.
The Taxed Enough Already people were/are deceived, but they can’t see it. Why? It’s not the fault, as some people would have it, of the corporate (Koch) effort to take these disgusted citizens over. And it’s not that the corporate claim to being sympathetic and understanding of the plight of being taxed too much, which the corporations surely aren’t. No, the deception lies elsewhere and whether citizens and corporations are taxed too little or too much or just enough is actually entirely beside the point. Because the deception lies in the simple perversion of the truth…
What is it with Republican governors and traffic jams? Up in New Jersey, we’ve got Chris Christie’s staff ordering up some “traffic problems” for Fort Lee, perhaps as a prank, and in Atlanta, Georgia, we’ve got Nathan Deal and the Mayor of Atlanta hosting each other at lunch while the traffic all around the city flops around in slush.
leave nothing but footprints
One of our coastal Georgia environmentalists has got a bug about Sea Island Equestrians letting their mounts leave turds in the marsh and on trails through the dunes. Which, of course, is not how the new owners, Sea Island Acquisitions, or the contracted equestrian service provider would describe the “experience.”
anti-families with children
What do Johnny and Saxby and Lindsey have in common with the ladies from New Hampshire and Maine, Kelly and Susan? The U.S. Senators, Isakson, Chambliss and Graham, along with a handful of others, couldn’t wait to gum up the longterm unemployment compensation legislation, so they attached themselves to number one amender, Senator Ayotte.
our general welfare
President Kennedy famously advised, “ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country” in his inaugural address. That was a cop-out. After all, the rebellious colonists organized a government to provide for the general welfare. So, for the hireling-in-chief to task his employers, instead of focusing on the duties and obligations he had committed himself to assume, was, to say the least presumptuous. And, since Kennedy was a Democrat, it just goes to show that the role of servant was not foremost in the minds of any of our public officials back in 1960.
ebenezer would be proud
Jack Kingston, the Republican representative from Georgia’s first district and esteemed member of the Republican theme team, has apparently decided that, if he wants to be a viable candidate for the United States Senate, he’s got to get himself some press coverage. Since he’s not a novice, we have to assume that targeting the children’s lunches is not an accident. According to Daniel Molloy, writing for the Atlanta Journal Constitution Kingston said: “On the Agriculture Committee we have jurisdiction over the school lunch…
Nothing is as it seems in the land of the Cons. We’ve got to remember that. Sometimes it seems that, regardless of the issue, con men have to deceive, even if it means cutting off their own noses or, if they happen to be politicians, the noses of the constituents they expect to vote for them. If that makes no sense, it is still a fact in the twenty states where Governors, no doubt on the advice of their Representatives in Congress, are rejecting the extra dollars that would extend health care to people not earning enough to afford even subsidized insurance policies.
the sublime cannibal
“Where is the Love?” Kristof asks in his Thanksgiving column for the New York Times. Thanksgiving is a euphemistic feast. I still haven’t found just the right term to describe cannibals bloodlessly and indirectly destroying and consuming their own kind. Some call it “sacrifice,” but that too is a euphemism. “Symbolic predation” doesn’t work because the injury and destruction are all too real.
stoop to their level
Is being obnoxious catching? My email in-box is currently featuring messages with the following headings:
“Beat the snot out of them.“
“I’m here to kick some Tea Party ass.“
Extortion is a Congressional staple. It’s what members have been using for decades to insure incumbency. What’s new is that the tactic is being exposed to public view because the executive is not going along and because the recently arrived Tea Party are novice players.
it’s the name
Years ago, when some friends were to spend a sabatical overseas, they entrusted their Caprice to me for safe-keeping. That turned into a peculiar experience. Strangers kept asking me if I would be interested in selling them the car. It reminded me of being propositioned for a “good time” in certain neighborhoods of New York City and Washington, D.C. What attracted attention to the Caprice was a puzzlement, but in the years since, it’s been stolen from the same owners any number of times, apparently for joy rides, and then abandoned when it ran out of gas. Maybe it’s the name that triggers the theft.
down the drain
Half dozen of the other. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.
Creatures of habit have an advantage. When they repeat what’s failed in the past, it comes as a surprise. Add to that the cliché and the euphemism as instruments of deception and you’ve got the essential ingredients of clandestine enterprise. John McCain has been running his own foreign policy shop at the International Republican Institute (set up by Congress in 1983) for so long that it has probably become a cliché.
the insurance racket
Protection is a racket and insurance is the handle. The insurance commissioners in every state are why a single payer health care system for all Americans was infeasible. So, here we’ve got Ralph Hudgens, a graduate of the University of Florida, explaining how obstructing the free market and milking the populace works.
We visited the rocky coast of Maine the other day and stopped in at the Kittery Trading Post.. Lo and behold, I discovered a cast iron griddle made by a company in Tennessee to replace the one that disappeared from my cook top. Although it would probably work better on a stove with perpendicular burners, the first batch of pancakes turned out pretty tasty.