Archive for November, 2011

Cain still leads the GOP field in Iowa (Updated)

UPDATED at 2:25 p.m.: Until a few minutes ago, Herman Cain could keep up his lead because of the lack of details about his alleged actions. All that may have ended with the press conference a new accuser, Sharon Bialek just gave. Now there’s a name and face to a woman who’s been willing to make her accusation very publicly, and very specifically. I have a feeling Cain’s poll numbers are about to take a serious hit.

ORIGINAL POST: So far, the reports of sexual harassment allegations against Herman Cain have not cost him his lead in Iowa, which will kick off the GOP nomination process with its caucuses on Jan. 3.

Keep in mind as we go through these polls that the first story about Cain and the harassment allegations was published on the evening of Oct. 30.

Insider Advantage found Cain held a 15-point lead over Mitt Romney (30 percent to 15 percent). The poll was taken Nov. 3, four days after the story broke, and it shows that Cain almost doubled his lead from mid-October. …

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A possible basis for ’super committee’ deficit compromise

The clock is winding down on the congressional “super committee” charged with finding $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions for the coming decade. By most accounts, the committee, formed as part of the debt-ceiling deal this summer, needs to propose legislation by the end of this week if Congress is to act on it by its Thanksgiving deadline.

There are lots of reports out of Washington about the committee’s deliberations. You could write the headlines: Republicans are trying to avoid tax increases; Democrats are trying to avoid meaningful reform for entitlements, the big cost drivers for the federal government. In today’s Wall Street Journal, Stephen Moore lays out more specifics than anyone else I’ve seen lately. First, on taxes:

One positive development on taxes taking shape is a deal that could include limiting tax deductions, perhaps by capping write-offs on charities, state and local taxes, and mortgage interest payments as a percentage of each tax filer’s gross income. … In …

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Post-Clinton, it appears the ‘Puritans’ are still winning after all

It was the summer of 1999, and I’d just arrived in Geneva. In a store window, I saw a poster with a Swiss artist’s interpretation of some months-old news from home: Bill Clinton, on a cross, wearing nothing but star-spangled boxer shorts, arrows piercing his heart. The depiction jibed with what conservatives were constantly told by the president’s defenders: Grow up; sophisticated Europeans are laughing at our puritanical country for caring about a great man’s affair.

Around that time, a future presidential candidate faced allegations he’d sexually harassed female workers. Twelve years later, Herman Cain sees that the “Puritans” won.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Boys (and girls) will be dolts, and Clinton’s example was never going to turn every politician into a saint. But a presidential deposition, followed by impeachment proceedings, created such a spectacle that, we were told, our attitudes toward our leaders would loosen up.

Early in the Clinton …

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What the Cain story tells us about the cost of litigiousness

With details about Herman Cain’s alleged harassment of female employees still only trickling out, much of the speculation has focused on the amounts of money Cain’s organization, the National Restaurant Association, paid to the women in settlements.

One woman reportedly got $35,000 to settle her complaint, another woman $45,000. In each case, that amount represented a severance approaching one year’s salary. People wonder: What do those (reported) facts tell us about the seriousness of the allegations?

That kind of speculation, at this point, is bound to be inconclusive. What has struck me, on the other hand, is what these facts certainly tell us about the cost of our society’s litigiousness.

At the Power Line blog, John Hinderaker passes along some analysis from a reader he does not name, but whom he describes as “one of the country’s leading experts in this area of the law”:

In my opinion, the reported settlement sums — $35,000 and $45,000 — do not exceed “nuisance value.” …

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Poll Position: Do you plan to vote for Sunday sales?

One of the biggest battles at the Legislature this year was the on-again, off-again, back-on-again tussle over Sunday alcohol sales. When the session opened, it appeared certain that legislators would vote to end Georgia’s status as one of the very few states that bans retail sales of beer, wine and liquor on Sunday. Then, the Christian Coalition defied reports of its demise to put the fear of, ahem, primary opposition into enough GOP senators to apparently sink it. Then, just as suddenly, the bill was back on the table and quickly passed both chambers.

If it’s on the ballot where you live, will you vote for Sunday sales?

  • Yes (1,085 Votes)
  • No (64 Votes)
  • Not sure (4 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,153

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The bill only allowed for local governments, if they wished, to hold a referendum on Sunday sales. Since it became law, 97 cities and counties have put such a measure on next week’s ballot. (There are 159 counties and more than 500 cities in Georgia, so this …

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Why Obama’s chances of re-election are . . .

With just more than one year to the presidential election, two respected political prognosticators have gone out on a limb and said President Obama’s chances of re-election are…

…50/50.

Well, that settles it, huh? Here are the details:

Ray Fair of Yale University has updated his forecasting model as follows (G, P and Z are related to growth of gross domestic product; VP is the incumbent president’s predicted share of the vote; VC is his party’s predicted share of the House of Representatives vote nationwide — that’s votes, not seats):

Predictions: The current and past predictions of VP and VC using the economic forecasts from the US model are:

Date                              G            P        Z      VP          VC

November 11, 2010   3.69      1.42      6      55.9      49.9

January 29, 2011      1.93      1.77      4      52.5 …

Continue reading Why Obama’s chances of re-election are . . . »

Georgia can return to leading role in giving students choices

There was a time when Georgia was considered a national leader in education reform that empowered students and parents. That time, alas, is gone with the wind — the wind of politicians who talk a good game on school choice while sitting idly and watching other states blow past us.

Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee, Indiana, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania — these states are moving forward while we stand still.

“If Georgia does not have a fierce sense of urgency today, this I think will be Georgia’s defining moment,” said Leslie Hiner, vice president of state relations at the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. “Either this is that time when Georgia goes big and bold and accepts no excuses for excellence for your kids, or not.”

Less than a decade ago, it was just the opposite. Hiner was a top legislative aide in Indiana when Mitch Daniels was first elected governor in 2004. That same year, Georgia Republicans took full control of our statehouse and put …

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Atlantans: Not as broke as you might think

The good news: Atlanta isn’t among the “30 brokest cities in America” — or even among the four worst in Georgia! Woo-hoo!

The bad news: Four Georgia cities are in the top, er, bottom 25. That includes numero uno, Columbus. The shouts of “We’re Number One! We’re Number One!” will commence any moment now, I’m sure. (Or maybe not.)

The Daily Beast compiled the list based on three factors given equal weight: a city’s unemployment rate, median household income and average personal debt. Both Atlanta’s unemployment rate of 10.3 percent and its average personal debt of $25,063 would qualify for the list, so it must have been bailed out by median household income (that’s the only stat of the three, as listed by the Daily Beast, that I haven’t confirmed).

The other Georgia cities on the list, besides No. 1 Columbus: No. 10 Augusta, No. 14 Macon and No. 25 Savannah.

Many of the cities are mid-size, but there are several on the list in Atlanta’s league: Tampa (No. 8), Detroit (18), Miami …

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‘Mission Accomplished’ banner premature for scandal-plagued APS (Updated)

I hate to rain on Atlanta Public Schools’ parade, but yesterday’s restoration of the system’s full accreditation is premature.

It’s premature, that is, if you think the real problem in APS is the system’s pervasive cheating scandal. Interim Superintendent Errol Davis appears to be making significant progress at cleaning house. But the professional reviews of teachers and principals implicated in the scandal — not to mention the criminal investigations of some of them — are not yet complete. There’s still work to be done in figuring out which students were affected and how much remedial help they need to close the gap between what they learned and what the cheaters made it appear they’d learned. And, the AJC reported a couple of weeks ago, the scandal may have reached into Atlanta high schools as well.

The removal of APS from probation by its accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, only makes sense if you agree with SACS that the big problem in …

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T-SPLOST’s fate on the line next week in Fulton and DeKalb

Next Tuesday, Fulton and DeKalb voters may decide the fate of next year’s T-SPLOST referendum.

They’ll do so by voting to keep or eliminate a 1 percent sales tax for education. If they pass it, the counties expected to provide the bulk of “yes” votes next year for the transportation sales tax might not provide quite as many of them. Cherokee, Gwinnett and Henry are also considering other SPLOSTs, or special-purpose local-option sales taxes, and Cobb voters narrowly approved an extension of their tax earlier this year. But Fulton and DeKalb are more crucial to T-SPLOST supporters’ hopes.

Drop the penny for education, and adding a penny back for transportation may have a fighting chance. Keep it — and the penny for sewer infrastructure in Atlanta, to be reconsidered in March — and the sales tax rate will reach 9 percent in Atlanta and 8 percent in Fulton and DeKalb outside the capital city.

That prospect might explain why elected officials chose to lard up the T-SPLOST project …

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