Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

Opinion: ‘Alexa, call BS for me’


Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, writing in the AJC’s op-ed section, offers his rationale for the decision to withdraw a long-proposed $40 million tax cut for Delta Air Lines.

You can read Cagle’s entire argument here, but I’d like to take issue with him on several specific points. For example, he writes:

“Everyone should understand that no punitive action was taken against Delta for its decision.”

I’m not sure which is more remarkable: the fact that Cagle would make such an absurd statement, or the expectation that someone might believe it.  

Prior to Delta’s decision to end a discount for members of the National Rifle Association, Cagle and other Republican leaders, including Gov. Nathan Deal, had been strong defenders of the tax break in question; it was expected to pass into law easily. There is no question whatsoever -- none -- that the decision to strip that provision from a larger tax law was an act of punishment and retaliation against Delta. Cagle’s transparent denial of that fact is an insult to the intelligence of his fellow Georgians.

I mean, really:


Cagle also writes:

“Being a conservative in America today means being ridiculed and belittled by many elements of the news media, Hollywood, and – increasingly – corporations who feel the need to take positions on social issues.”

Cry me a river, snowflake. 

Conservatives control every lever of government power in Georgia and in Washington, D.C. Conservative media revels in anything that might anger liberals, and many conservative voters choose their elected leaders based on how shamelessly they’re willing to troll the opposition, which in part explains the current occupant of the White House. 

Corporate America finances that political control, showering conservative politicians with hundreds of millions of dollars in donations and “dark money” contributions, as Cagle’s own campaign-finance filings will document. To the degree that corporate America takes a more progressive stance on social issues, it does so largely out of its own self-interest and concern for profitability and market share. 

I remember the time when “conservatives” used to think that sacrosanct.

(It’s worth noting that the National Rifle Association -- the delicate little flower that Cagle has boldly stepped forward to defend -- is probably the most powerful lobbying organization in Georgia and in Washington, and has been brutally effective in wielding that power. The notion that it can’t withstand a little heat in return is interesting.)

Our lieutenant governor then resumes his lecture:

“ ... part of being a conservative is understanding that our constitutional freedoms matter the most when they are being exercised in ways we find objectionable. However, when that attitude crosses into overtly singling out and penalizing people because of what they believe, it’s a different story.”

It’s remarkable how easily Cagle glides from one sentence to the other in this excerpt, never acknowledging the profound, absolute contradiction between them. “... our constitutional freedoms matter the most when they are being exercised in ways we find objectionable,” he says, saluting the red, white and blue, but in this case Delta was criticizing the NRA, a conservative icon, and THAT is something we cannot tolerate.

Again, Cagle’s howler of a denial not withstanding, it is the state of Georgia that is “overtly singling out and penalizing” Delta for what it believes. 

“In the context of this larger debate, I believe the Georgia General Assembly has responded appropriately to the company’s decision. We cannot continue to allow large companies to treat conservatives differently than other customers, employees and partners.” 

Until now, I did not know it was the proper role of government to “allow” or “disallow” such things. I thought that under these much-ballyhooed “conservative values,” government was supposed to keep its nose out of purely business decisions such as discount programs.1

However, if government is going to take on this new responsibility of guaranteeing that large companies treat all ideologies alike, then we’re going to need some new rules enacted. For starters, every dollar that a corporation gives to a Republican such as Cagle must be matched with a dollar given to Democratic gubernatorial candidates such as Stacey Evans and Stacey Abrams. That’s only fair.

I know, I know: Government can’t do that. It can’t try to force individuals or corporations to back causes against its will. 

Except in Georgia, with the NRA, and Delta.

Here is Cagle’s conclusion:

“Businesses have every legal right to make their own decisions, but the Republican majority in our state legislature also has every right to govern guided by our principles. None of this detracts from the fact that Delta continues to be a beloved bedrock of our economy – our state’s political leadership will continue to have an open door to all our economic partners.”

Again, I call bull-oney. “Businesses have every legal right to make their own decisions, but ... ” we will punish them and attempt to intimidate them if we disagree. And while Cagle promises that “our state’s political leadership will continue to have an open door to all our economic partners,” I’m not so sure that door looks all that welcoming at the moment.

I have one more question: “Alexa, who should we blame if Amazon spurns Georgia?”

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1According to Delta, a grand total of 13 NRA members had used the discount before it was canceled.


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About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.