Author Archives: Joel Mendelson

About Joel Mendelson

An occasional professional political hack, I've worked in Democratic and progressive politics in Georgia and Florida over the last seven years. I'm a rabid baseball fan, beer snob, and music lover. I'm a graduate of Kennesaw State University and the University of Florida.

Brewers ‘settle’ beer issue in GA


Notice anything odd about Georgia’s beer laws compared to its neighbors? 

Settling is in quotes for a reason. After getting royally screwed by a confusing and rather silly piece of legislation last year, craft brewers in Georgia were screwed far worse when the state Department of Revenue issued new guidelines late last year that effectively rendered the new law moot.

The issue at hand? Whether breweries can directly sell beer to customers, eschewing the ironclad three-tier system that’s run Georgia since the repeal of prohibition in the 1930s. Rather than direct sales to customers, allowed in 46 other states, the legislation passed last year required brewers to sell tours at varying prices. “Tours” would include a small amount of beer to drink on premises and up to 72 ounces to take home. However, the Dept. of Revenue put the kibosh on that when they issued new rules last year, telling brewers they couldn’t have variable prices for tours. One set price. Anything else was against the law.

Brewers were rightfully outraged and this year, the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild threatened to file new legislation that could upend Georgia’s three-tier system and possibly allow direct sales to customers. Distributors were furious, legislators were likely nervous they would lose hefty campaign contributions from distributors if they supported such legislation, and therefore a compromise was worked out. Brewers could once again go back to the strange tour system set up in last year’s SB 63.

Hardly a victory.

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Filed under Georgia News, Georgia Politics, News, Policy, Politics, State Policy, Uncategorized

Skipping debate will not cost Trump


This is the face of a man who knows exactly what he’s doing. Or not. Who knows?

Sure, it seems insane for any candidate–even a frontrunner–to consider skipping the final debate before the Iowa Caucus, but Donald Trump is not your typical candidate. If Jeb! Bush or Marco Rubio led Iowa with a week to go and decided to skip the final debate, it might be considered a fatal mistake, costing the candidate not only Iowa, but other early states as well. However, Trump continues to prove his impervious to the usual traps that ensnarl campaigns and cost candidates elections. No, Trump continues to win and his defiance may be the reason why.

Trump’s entrance into the race last summer (has it really been that long?) defied logic. His campaign kickoff speech, filled with grotesque words about Latinos and undocumented workers was equally baffling. Surely, no one serious about winning the presidency would say these things and think they’ll win, right? But Trump’s poll numbers shot through the roof. Nothing he’s said or done since that fateful day have affected Trump’s numbers. The only thing that’s truly changed is the candidate nipping at his heels, and who stands to his left and right during debates. Trump, however, has remained front and center at every debate, and through every gaffe, ramble, and scoff, Trump reigns supreme.

So why skip the final debate before real votes are cast?

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Filed under Elections, National Elections, News, Opinion, Politics, Uncategorized, US News, US Politics

The problem goes beyond #oscarsowhite


This scene from the 2014 Oscars is a rarity in the film industry, but the problems go well beyond #oscarsowhite

Controversy followed the recent Oscar nominations, as an almost all white slate of nominees were announced, once again providing a glaring problem in the Academy’s membership. The Academy quickly moved to ameliorate the problem, promising to select far more female and minority members by 2020, and slowly but surely phasing out the predominately white male membership that’s dominated the Academy since its foundation. However, fixing the Academy doesn’t fix a bigger problem: people of color still do not have the opportunities to star or make some of the biggest films every year.

Let’s look at the top-10 highest grossing films of all time. Only Furious 7 was directed by a non-white male. The other nine were directed by white men. Two of the bigger pictures of the year–albeit not in the top-10–were directed by African-Americans. F. Gary Gray directed Straight Outta Compton, both critically-acclaimed and a box office hit and Ryan Coogler directed Creed, which helped pump fresh blood into the sagging Rocky franchise. Coogler’s success with Creed landed him the job directing Marvel’s Black Panther movie, due out in 2018.

However, when you scroll through some of the bigger films of the year, you realize that Gray and Coogler are joined by few other directors of color. If the Oscars have a color problem, Hollywood does even more so. Yes, the Oscars need to be more inclusive and must broaden its membership to ensure that the entire spectrum of film each year is considered for awards, but the film industry itself must do a better job to ensure minorities have opportunities to direct big, prestige films, you know, the ones that tend to be nominated for Oscars.

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Proposed fireworks regs in GA a bit much


During the 2015 session of the Georgia General Assembly, lawmakers finally legalized fireworks. Not sparklers, which had long been allowed in Georgia, but legitimate fireworks. Bottle rockets, mortars, and other fun explosives would finally be sold and taxed in Georgia, ending necessary pilgrimages into neighboring states to buy fireworks. What thrilled many Georgians who enjoy risking their fingers, faces, and other body parts to lit fireworks on Independence Day and New Years upset Georgians across the state, who didn’t welcome the new law with open ears or eyes.

Since every single Georgian obeyed the previous ban on fireworks and never once launched a bottle rocket, lit a firecracker, or watched a mortar light up the night sky, many were shocked, outraged, and very upset by the noise caused by fireworks on July 4th–along with the days immediately before and after America’s birthday. Calls were launched to strongly regulate–or ban–fireworks, because dogs, children, and the sensitive ears of adults were hurt by this new, foreign sound.

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Filed under Georgia News, Georgia Politics, Metro-Atlanta Politics, News, Opinion, Policy, Politics, State Policy, Uncategorized

Time’s hyperbolic statement on Class of 2015 is sad and demeaning

Scrolling through Twitter this morning, I came across a rather hyperbolic statement by Time Magazine. The tweet simply read “Here is proof the class of 2015 is the most spoiled ever,” with a link to a short article regarding how much money the class of 2015 received in gifts. Gifts–mostly in the form of cash–rose from $4.7 billion in 2014 to $4.8 billion in 2015, thus necessitating Time’s declaration that the class of 2015 is spoiled rotten.

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Sadly, Time fails to acknowledge the number of students who will take out tens of thousands of dollars in student loans to pay for a higher education. College is the way to a prosperous future–or so we were told–and those that can’t afford to attend college quickly turn to student loans. As of November 2014, the average student loan debt hit $30,000, but that number isn’t all that shocking. According to a 2012 study by the Institute for College Access & Success,  66 percent of graduates from public colleges had student loan debt. That number rises to 75 percent for those graduating from private nonprofit colleges and universities and hits a staggering 88 percent for graduates of for-profit colleges.

When you consider all student loan debt in the United States, the level reaches something almost unfathomable by the average person: $1.2 trillion dollars. Yes, trillion with a “T.” When Time Magazine calls the class of 2015 the most spoiled class of graduates ever, perhaps they should consider the rising cost of college tuition and how students are now forced to pay for their education.

According to, the average cost of in-state tuition and fees during the 2014-15 academic year was $23,410, while tuition and fees at an average private college hit $46,272. For those keeping score, that’s $93,640 for 4 years at a public school and an astounding $185,088 for 4 years at a private school. Spoil the class of 2015 all you want, but for an average high school graduate to pony up that kind of money is nearly unbelievable.

Sure, plenty of parents bestow their spoiled children with the funds to receive a college education, and bless the children fortunate enough to have parents that can afford that kind of financial cost, but for most, that’s simply not the case. Millennials like to joke about the Boomers who like to say that they worked a summer job to afford their college tuition; I’d like to see the same Boomers attempt to do that now. Unless you’re trading stocks, or already have a job paying you enough money to avoid having to go to college in the first place, a summer job will not cover college tuition. Perhaps it’ll cover a few books, but it won’t make a dent in the nearly $12,000 you’ll need to pony up just for fall tuition.

There are plenty of reasons why college tuition is skyrocketing, unabated, but that’s not a conversation for this post. The words here are for those who feel entitled enough to once again trash talk to the current generation of Americans. Yes, many of us may be entitled brats, but it’s the Boomers who raised us. For those who are not entitled, the struggle to pay back one’s loans is enormous. While interest mounts, many students struggle to find decent entry-level positions following college, and in some cases must take unpaid internship after unpaid internship with the hope that it will one day become a full time, salaried job.

So yes, the class of 2015 may be living large before the enter college classrooms across the country, but once the loans start piling up, so does reality. If the class of 2015 wants to get ahead in life, they’re not the most spoiled class in history, they’re just another class in a series of classes that might be the most unfortunate generation in recent history.

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Michelle Nunn, Jason Carter hope to rechart the course of Georgia politics. – The Washington Post

Michelle Nunn, Jason Carter hope to rechart the course of Georgia politics. – The Washington Post.

Awesome piece in today’s Washington Post focusing on Michelle Nunn,  Jason Carter, and the future of Democratic politics in Georgia. A must-read this morning.

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Filed under Elections, Georgia Politics, Politics, State Elections

Is Georgia soon-to-be blue? | MSNBC

Is Georgia soon-to-be blue? | MSNBC.

Great clip from last night’s “All In with Chris Hayes”.

Georgia’s turning blue faster than anyone thinks, despite rhetoric to the contrary. Georgians of all stripes are sick and tired of getting left behind. If you’re interested in learning about Georgia’s new Moral Monday, feel free to check out their Facebook page for more info.

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Filed under Elections, Georgia News, Georgia Politics, News, Policy, Politics, State Elections, State Policy