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May 14, 2008

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By Chris Bridges

Going against the grain for November vote
With news of the 2008 presidential election continuing to break on a daily basis, I have decided on my vote for November.
It appears the “major” players are set. The Republicans are going with John McCain (despite the protests of right-wing yackers Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and the like) and the Democrats are all but certain to line up with Barack Obama (yes, Hillary is still fighting, but it seems the battle was actually lost some time back).
I can actually tell you positive things about both McCain and Obama. First, McCain is a true American hero. There can be no debating that one. As I have said before, I would shake his hand and say, “Thank you” if given the opportunity. Anyone who has gone through what he has deserves as much. Without a doubt, he would be an improvement over the president we’ve had for the past two terms (who quite frankly may be judged by historians as the worst we’ve ever had.)
Obama would be a historic president for obvious reasons. It would be great for our country to take the step to elect an African-American president. It would say a great deal about us as a nation. Obama has been able to capture the hearts of millions of voters and has literally pulled off one of the greatest political upsets by winning the Democratic nomination over Hillary Clinton. (He had no realistic chance of doing so when this whole process began.)
However, despite what both have to offer I feel I must go in a different direction if certain things line up. Georgia’s own Bob Barr is currently seeking the nomination of the Libertarian Party. There was a time when I could have never seen myself voting for Barr. However, that’s how much our current president has changed the political landscape.
Our current president, for several years now, has launched an all-out assault on civil liberties. His main weapon in this war has been the disgraceful Patriot Act. In addition, the president has suspended Habeas Corpus, which means you and I can be arrested and held indefinitely without ever being charged or granted a court hearing, all rights guaranteed by the Constitution. You see, when you become a dictator as our current president has, then civil liberties must go. That’s why people like Barr decided enough was enough. For years Barr was as loyal a Republican as you would find. However, Barr believed that Republicans should stick with limited government, not an ever-expanding one where citizens’ civil liberties are taken away one by one.
Eventually, reaching his breaking point, Barr said, “Enough is enough.” He officially left the Republican Party and joined the Libertarian Party, which has always stood tall for civil liberties. Barr can also continue to fight for issues he’s always stood for like lower taxes, rights for law abiding citizens to not have their second amendment rights violated and for the role of government to be smaller, not larger.
The countdown continues to the day our current dictator — I mean president — leaves the Oval Office. For Americans who value freedom, it won’t be a day too soon. It’s been said the Libertarian philosophy is a mixture of the Republican and Democratic mindset. With Barr seeking the party’s presidential nomination, it says that it’s not just liberals who value freedom, but conservatives as well.
If Barr can bring people from both sides of the aisle together maybe a needed third party revolution can finally begin. It’s something our country desperately needs. We can’t continue to give away our civil liberties at this rate.
Chris Bridges is a reporter for The Banks County News. Contact him at 706-367-2745 or e-mail comments to

By Angela Gary

Blame the media
It’s easy to blame the media for all that is wrong with the world.
Test scores are down. Let’s blame the media for reporting the scores.
Taxes going up. It must be the media’s fault for reporting it.
I’ve heard time and time again that “negative press” is the problem. I don’t know how many times I have responded, “We just report what happens. We don’t make the news.”
The decline in the real estate market is just another example of the media being blamed for something we have no control over. Yes, we have published stories on the increase in the number of foreclosures and the overall drop in home sales. We would not be doing our job if we didn’t report those important facts. The number of public notices we’ve published on foreclosures has increased dramatically. Readers can’t help but notice that information. We have to report on it if we are doing our job.
I was at a recent meeting where one of the amazing forecasters from the Norton Agency spoke. Matt McCord began his comments by asking if anyone from the media was present. When I raised my hand, he said having someone from the media would change his remarks.
“Just the facts then, today… no opinions,” he said. “Glad I asked. That happened to me once and you’ll never forget it.”
McCord then began to outline his opinion that the real estate market is not as bad as it may appear. He said the 40 percent decrease in real estate sales in 2007 was due, in part, to 2006 having had two huge projects which inflated the overall figure. He said 2007 was the best year for Jackson County, other than 2006.
McCord also commented on the foreclosure situation. He said people who are being foreclosed on had their homes up for sale anyway. He also said foreclosed homes really didn’t change the housing market.
I don’t follow that logic. If the people had been able to afford their homes in the first place, they would not have them up for sale or would not have been foreclosed on. Perhaps it is the fault of the greed in the financial system that created easy 100 percent mortgages and that pushed people into buying homes they couldn’t afford?
Nah, it couldn’t be that. Must just be the media.
At the end of last week’s meeting, several people questioned who is benefiting from all of the “negative press,” hinting that it must just be hype by newspapers to sell more papers.
But we are not benefiting from the housing crisis or the overall economic slump.
We, too, feel the effects of the economy.
At the end of the day, we’re just doing our job in reporting on the economic situation. The media didn’t create this crisis and efforts by some to spin bad information into good won’t help resolve it.
People may disagree with what this crisis means for the county and the nation, but please, don’t put on blinders and blame bad press for problems that run much deeper.
Angela Gary is editor of The Banks County News. She can be reached at


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