Archive for November, 2011

Newt rising, Cain stalling as bumpy GOP ride takes latest turn

OK, everyone who, back in May, had Herman Cain clinging to a lead in the polls and Newt Gingrich surging into a three-man GOP primary race in mid-November, raise your hands.

Looking … looking … looking … yeah, that’s what I thought. Join the club.

So far, the most reliable quality to the contest to become the Republican opponent for President Barack Obama next year has been its unpredictability.

Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee and Mitch Daniels did not run. Rick Santorum, last seen losing his bid for re-election to the Senate, and Jon Huntsman, who worked for Obama before seeking to replace him, did.

Yet both of them, along with Gary Johnson and Buddy Roemer, made it onto Georgia’s presidential primary ballot — while Tim Pawlenty, at one point endorsed by former Gov. Sonny Perdue, did not.

To say it’s been a volatile race is to say Atlanta gets warm in the summertime.

Since Cain entered it May 21, 10 days after Gingrich officially declared, six different candidates have …

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Threats against Penn State coach make a sordid story even more shameful

The list of shameful and even horrific actions is long at Penn State University, where former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky faces numerous child-sex charges, and the apparent cover-up of his actions have led to the firings of the university president and legendary head football coach Joe Paterno. But we have to add a new entry for the Penn State fans who made threats against the assistant coach who reported one instance of abuse in 2002.

Mike McQueary, a former Nittany Lions quarterback who was a graduate assistant in 2002 and is now the wide receivers coach, originally was set to coach in tomorrow’s game against Nebraska. But the university released a brief statement last night saying that, due to threats against McQueary, it would be “in the best interest of all” if he stayed home.

Those threats reportedly were not made by fans upset that McQueary didn’t do more nine years ago to stop Sandusky or make sure he was brought to justice before now — although many …

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On Veterans Day, we remember freedom isn’t free (video)

Presented without comment, only gratitude for my father, father-in-law, cousins, friends and all other veterans of the United States armed services.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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Poll Position: Who should pay to deepen Savannah’s port?

Throw a rock, and you just might hit a Georgia politician or business leader who says Savannah’s port needs to be deepened.

With the Panama Canal set to accommodate larger cargo ships within three years, once its expansion is complete, the port at Savannah could reap huge benefits. So, too, could the rest of the state, given that Georgia is already a hub for freight. But to do so, the Savannah River has to be dredged so that the port can handle the larger ships.

Who should pay for the deepening of Savannah’s port?

  • The port itself (82 Votes)
  • The state — it’s not the feds’ responsibility (56 Votes)
  • The state — if the feds don’t deliver (29 Votes)
  • The feds (17 Votes)
  • No one, it shouldn’t be deepened (15 Votes)

Total Voters: 199

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Yesterday, the port got a huge win: South Carolina’s environmental agency, which has a say in the matter because it shares authority with Georgia over the Savannah River, reversed an earlier decision to block the deepening. …

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Georgia’s jobs focus may shift away from broad tax reform

Boosting jobs and the economy remains atop the to-do list of nearly every elected official you meet. In Georgia, many state officials have pitched tax reform as the best policy to do just that.

But their approach may be changing. At least, that’s the impression I got from Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle during an interview Monday at the Capitol.

Instead, expect Gov. Nathan Deal’s “competitiveness initiative” to take precedence. A group of agency heads and business leaders are due to make recommendations — in such subjects as infrastructure, innovation, education, business climate and government efficiency — before the 2012 legislative session begins in January.

Part of the focus, Cagle said, is diversifying our economy so that it’s no longer so reliant on construction. Industries such as aerospace and bioscience, along with manufacturing more generally, are among what he called Georgia’s strategic industries.

“I expect that we will have some very strong recommendations …

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Rick Perry’s pitiful, sympathy-inducing, human moment (which probably finished off his campaign)

His presidential campaign surely hasn’t gone the way Rick Perry thought it would go when he made a late entry into the GOP nominating contest. It surely hasn’t gone the way his supporters, who donated some $17 million to his campaign in just seven weeks, thought it would go. The Texas governor almost immediately surged to the top of the polls, but a series of poor debate performances sent him on what has been a steady and unending slide.

Still, few moments during his decline could have felt as painful as the 45 seconds or so in which he drew a blank while trying to name the third federal agency he would abolish if elected president:

I’ve speculated before that the thought of watching the oft-tongue-tied Perry try to debate President Obama must give Republican big-wigs the heebie jeebies. And one might read into his forgetful moment a lack of seriousness about his very own plan, or some such. (It doesn’t help that the agency he forgot was Energy, and that he’s spent the past …

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As debates resume, Gingrich prepares for a shot at the top

The latest meme in the GOP presidential primary is: “Newt is back!” They are not making the point I made after the last debate: namely, that Newt Gingrich was poised to be next in line should the current leading-Republican-not-named-Mitt-Romney, Herman Cain, stumble. They are making the case that Gingrich is earning his shot as the challenger to Romney’s aura of inevitability:

Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal:

Newt Gingrich’s rise in the polls — from near zero to the third slot in several polls — should come as no surprise to people who have been watching the Republican debates, now drawing television viewers as never before. The former speaker has stood out at these forums, the debater whose audiences seem to hang on his words and on a flow of thought rich in substance, a world apart from the usual that the political season brings.

Byron York of the Washington Examiner, reporting from Iowa recently on Gingrich’s “wonkish, unconventional” presidential bid:

[T]he …

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Election roundup: SPLOSTs and Sunday sales pass all over; ‘personhood’ loses in Miss. (Updated)

A smorgasbord of election-related items:

  • The extension of the SPLOST in Atlanta makes one wonder if any of these special sales taxes will ever go away. Here was a city whose schools were wracked by a massive cheating scandal by adults (and while the superintendent and many other administrators may have changed, eight of the nine board members who didn’t cheat, but also didn’t catch it, remain in place). Its mayor didn’t exactly campaign against it, but he did voice his opinion that the levy should expire to make way next year for a 1 percent sales tax for transportation. Notwithstanding some yard signs here and there, pro-tax supporters were also largely invisible. Yet the measure passed, 64 percent to 36 percent. No wonder politicians like this method of letting citizens tax themselves: The politicians still get to spend the dough, while washing their hands of the responsibility for raising taxes. Prediction: At least one of the jurisdictions where the SPLOST was extended …

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2012 Tuesday: For one night, at least, a return to the most urgent topic at hand

When Republican candidates take the debate stage tomorrow night after their longest hiatus since August — and, my, how fast three weeks can go by — it may come as a surprise to see anyone other than Herman Cain standing there. Stories about sexual-harassment allegations against Cain have been taking up most of the oxygen in the campaign since the first report appeared Oct. 30, and the other candidates have taken advantage of their competitor’s troubles to stay mostly out of the spotlight.

Let’s hope they’ve used the time to prepare for the debate, because the topic is paramount for the election: “jobs, taxes, the deficit and the health of our national economy,” according to CNBC, which will become the fifth network in two months to broadcast a GOP debate. (Erin McPike reports that high ratings have driven the frequency of debates, which I suppose is a good sign of an engaged electorate.)

While Cain has drawn the public’s attention, other contenders have been picking their …

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This week, the action is overseas

This week is a good time for a brief reminder that the most important decisions in the world aren’t always made in Washington, D.C.

As I write this, the governments of the two countries (currently) at the center of Europe’s fiscal-financial-political-currency crisis appear to be up for grabs. Greek politicians are still negotiating the appointment of a new prime minister and formation of a new cabinet. Only after they do so will European leaders decide whether to fork over billions more in bailout funds — which in turn will help determine whether, or maybe just how quickly, markets around the world jump back on the roller coaster.

And if Greece is a stone plopped into the world economy, with ripple effects far beyond itself, Italy is a relative boulder set to make an even bigger splash. Silvio Berlusconi, the man who Italians, in their wisdom, have given political life after political life during the past two decades, is trying to hang onto power. My friend Alberto Mingardi

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