Red State, Blue City – the sky is falling!

This week’s Creative Loafing has a cover story focusing on the “Blue Island in a Red Sea,” apparently meaning Atlanta, as the island, and Georgia as the sea. Though it is a little unclear, I hope that CL is also including Decatur in it’s “blue island,” Decatur being a center of state Democratic politics for a very long time. I’ve never much liked the “blue vs. red” distinction. Mainly because it seeks to divide (really, you can’t go complaining simultaneously about redneck red-staters or hippy blue-staters and then also wonder why the country is divided), but also because it just doesn’t ring as a very useful separation to me. And let’s not pretend like when the Democrats were the majority party in Georgia that the state was a bastion of liberal ideas. Southern Democrats such as Zell Miller (when he was Governor) were always wildly popular – and not because they were ultra-liberal. Besides, if we make this distinction, then pretty much any major city in the nation could be called a “blue island in a sea of red.”

Scattered throughout the feature section there are boxes of quick “facts” that inform us about the difference between the blue island and the red sea.

  • “Biggest Embarrassment – BI: Bill Campbell; RS: Zell Miller” apparently it didn’t occur to CL that while Bill Campbell is seen as an embarassment by the BI, the RS appreciates and still loves Sen. Miller. Also it didn’t occur to them that there may be a difference between a criminal ex-mayor and an out-spoken Senator
  • “Official Musician – BI: Lil John; RS: Diana DeGarmo” seriously, Lil John? At least pick Outkast or Usher…
  • “Official Bumper Decoration – BI – ‘Darwin’ fish with feet; RS – ‘Support our troops’ ribbon Anyway, you get the idea of the level of cleverness CL strained to reach here

The first set of articles are by Scott Henry on two separate legislators: Vincent Fort (D-39) and Earl Ehrhart (R-28) – essentially, here’s CL take on it – Vincent Fort, crusader for Atlanta, isn’t going to keep quiet because he’s in the minority. Earl Ehrhart, Atlanta hater, is going to use his legislative muscle to destroy the city and make it subordinate to the whims of the Republicans. Now, I’m not fan of Rep. Ehrhart (see this post for one reason why), but Scott Henry doesn’t really give him his fair chance. Especially when you compare it with the article on Fort. Though “many folks are concerned that the General Assembly’s best known Atlanta-basher will use his authority to stick it to the city,” Henry provides us with no examples of these people or even anonymous quotes from them. In fact, none of the quotes that Henry provides us from Ehrhart give us any reason to believe that Atlanta is being unfairly “targeted” at all. “I don’t think I’m a basher.” “I’m not going to give the other side a free shot to say I’m behaving irresponsibly.” I’ve got a fairly decent working relationship with Mayor Franklin. She’s everything Campbell was not. She’s open, honest, up front and reasonably.” Yes, those are all the quotes in the article from Ehrhart. I don’t see anything to suggest that Ehrhart is unfairly targeting our fine city.

In a separate article about Culture Wars, Scott Henry writes again.

There’s an irony here. While Atlanta pols typically lead the fight against so-called “family values” legislation, rural folk often stand to be most negatively affected.
Let’s use as an example the “Women’s Right-to-Know” bill, which would require a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking the procedure.
The idea is to throw up another barrier to legal abortion by requiring a return trip to the clinic. The bill is most popular among rural conservatives. But the obstacle would be felt mostly below the Gnat Line, where women must travel 100 miles or more to get an abortion.
While Atlanta liberals, led by Rep. Nan Orrock, will try to block abortion rights rollbacks, it’s places like Cuthbert and Jesup that would bear the brunt of the resulting rise in unwanted births.

Wow, well, with something like that, you’d expect to see some statistics about how distance from abortion places causes more unwanted pregnancies. Or at least some states showing that requiring a return trip to the clinic decreases the likelihood of an abortion. Or at least, in some issue of journalistic fairness, there would be some mention of the fact that a decrease in the number of abortions could be exactly what the “rural folk” actually want. Later in the same article we get this wonderful argument

A Ten Commandments bill could come in two varieties: a new law allowing, or even mandating, the document to be hung in county courthouses; or a directive to the state attorney general to defend judges who choose to thumb their nose at the division of church and state.
Either option could be costly and Perdue hasn’t had particularly good luck so far in getting Democratic Attorney General Thurbert Baker to do his bidding.

Umm… not really. A law allowing, but not mandating, the Ten Commandments being hung in county courthouses would not actually be costy. Imagine a bill where it stipulated that the cost of placing the Ten Commandments (if so desired by the judge) in the courthouse is to be covered by the judge. There, the only cost of this bill would be the cost of printing the bill and the cost of defending (and probably ultimately losing) the constitutionality of it (both on freedom of religion grounds and I’m not sure that such demands could be made of the AG).

Add in that Georgia’s public image has already taken a beating in the past year because of state School Superintendent Kathy Cox’s aversion to modern biology. Look up Alabama’s standard of living to see what such Bible-thumping does for rural economic development.

Yeah, because that’s why Alabama’s economic development isn’t so great. It has nothing to do with not having a top-tier airport or the central commercial hub of the southeast in it.

I like Creative Loafing, but if this sort of Chicken Little drivel is going to be what it is putting forth politically now that we have a GOP controlled state house, then it is going to be going downhill. At every step, CL is trying to make us believe that the entire state is going back to the stone ages, but it provides no real quotes from the supposed demons now in our state house or facts to back up the claims that they are making are going to happen. In fact, the large majority of the quotes that are given actually discount their arguments!

C’mon – give us more than this, I know you can!

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