Archive for February, 2012

2012 Tuesday: Michigan is the show-me state for Santorum

Our unscientific poll last week found that, by about a 3-to-2 margin, readers believe Newt Gingrich would be hurt more by losing next week’s Georgia primary than Mitt Romney would by losing today’s primary in his native Michigan. Today, I’m going to suggest the person with the most riding on one of these states is neither Gingrich nor Romney, but Rick Santorum.

If one believes the “Mitt Romney vs. the Not-Romneys” narrative of this GOP primary, it follows that Santorum must buck the trend of all the other short-term front-runners if he wants to be a serious threat to topple Romney in the end. There is little reason to believe Santorum has risen to his current No. 1 spot by mere force of personality or policies: His personality and policies didn’t keep him out of fifth and even sixth place for much of the race, and they haven’t changed during the past two months when he became a top-tier candidate (or survivor, depending on how you view him). So, we need to see if he can buck …

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Gallup: Dems say Obamacare’s unconstitutional, want to keep it anyway

Interesting results from a recent Gallup poll, as reported by Politico:

Gallup found that 47 percent of Americans want a GOP president to repeal the law, while 44 percent oppose that.

However, 72 percent of Americans believe the individual mandate in the health care reform package is unconstitutional, while 20 percent believe it is constitutional.

Along party lines, a majority of Democrats — 56 percent — believe the health care mandate is unconstitutional and 37 percent defend it as constitutional. Among Republicans, 94 percent view that part of the law as unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, a USA Today/Gallup poll of swing states shows that a majority of crucial swing state voters oppose the law. In fact, 53 percent of swing state voters see the health care reforms as a “bad thing,” while 38 percent see it as a “good thing.”

The two key takeaways for me: 1) a clear majority of self-identified Democrats say Obamacare is unconstitutional, and 2) the health reform is unpopular in swing …

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Forget ‘distracted driving.’ How do we address crappy driving?

A couple of months ago, there was a hubbub about a federal agency’s proposal to ban all use of cell phones by motorists, even the use of hands-free devices. Although the chances that such a ban would be enacted appear to be low, I’ve thought about that story every time I saw people driving recklessly near me since then. The conclusion I’ve reached — based on my admittedly limited and anecdotal evidence — is that the danger of distracted driving pales in comparison to the danger of plain-old bad driving.

Two such incidents from just this morning:

  • A man ran a red light right in front of me at maybe 35 mph on Peachtree near the intersection with Piedmont. The light had been red — not just yellow, but full-on red — for at least five seconds, long enough for the car in front of me to have already made a right turn into his path. If I hadn’t noticed him coming — if, say, I’d been looking to my right to make sure there were no pedestrians crossing or cars stopped in the lane into …

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If social issues favor the left, why the deceit about the right’s stances?

For a group so certain of public support for their social-issue stances, Democrats sure are resorting to some trickeration to paint the right as extremist.

Yasmin Neal, a freshman state legislator from Jonesboro, got a lot of laughs last week for proposing to limit vasectomies to cases where a man could face death or “impairment of a major bodily function.” Neal’s legislation is a parody of an anti-abortion bill, HB 954, moving through the House. And hers would be laughable indeed, if it didn’t reflect such a serious distortion of what animates abortion opponents.

In a press release, Neal explained herself thus:

Thousands of children are deprived of birth in this state every year because of the lack of state regulation over vasectomies. It is patently unfair that men can avoid unwanted fatherhood by presuming that their judgment over such matters is more valid than the judgment of the General Assembly, while women’s ability to decide is constantly up for debate …

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Poll Position: Who would be hurt worse, Romney losing Michigan or Gingrich losing Georgia?

After a couple of weeks of relatively low activity, the GOP primary process returns to hit full speed on the next two Tuesdays. Twelve states will hold primaries or caucuses on Tuesday, Feb. 28, or the Super Tuesday date, March 6. Add the Washington state caucuses in between, and we’re talking about one-quarter of all states in an eight-day span.

Two of the more prominent primaries will be Michigan’s next week and ours right here in Georgia on Super Tuesday. They’re prominent not just because of the delegates awarded — although Georgia, with 76 delegates, will be the biggest prize during this stretch — but because two of the candidates have such strong ties to them.

Who would be hurt worse by losing his “home” state primary?

  • Gingrich losing GA (114 Votes)
  • Romney losing MI (78 Votes)

Total Voters: 192

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Michigan is where Mitt Romney was born and raised while his father was a Detroit auto executive and then the state’s governor. Georgia, of course, is where …

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Thoughts on (maybe) (possibly) (perhaps) the last GOP debate

I haven’t written recaps of each GOP presidential debate this cycle, but I do have a few thoughts about last night’s, which may have been the last one with these four candidates.

Rick Santorum had a tough night. He appeared aware that he would be attacked, but his answers didn’t always impress. While he deemed his support of the No Child Left Behind law as a mistake he made under pressure from his party because “politics is a team sport” — a sentiment seemingly at odds with his earlier one-word description for himself, “courage” — he gave a lengthy defense of congressional earmarks. There is a case to be made for earmarks: It holds that they allow Congress to preserve more power of the purse rather than yielding more decisions to the executive branch. Even Ron Paul makes this defense. But defending earmarks is a bad spot for anyone in the tea party era, and it’s especially bad for Santroum because it also serves as a reminder that he was in Congress at a time when Republicans …

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Claims of a painless HOPE fix with income caps don’t hold up

One way to gauge a government program’s popularity is by how far politicians are willing to stretch the truth to argue they are that program’s strongest defenders. By that measure, the HOPE scholarship must be the most beloved program in all of Georgia.

A year after a broad reform of HOPE — one that accepted lottery revenues had plateaued while tuition levels soared — the scholarship suddenly is being hotly debated again. The apparent impetus is a state agency’s report forecasting falling HOPE award levels during the next several years.

Given that such forecasts accompanied last year’s reform, however, one can’t help but sense political opportunism. And some truth-stretching.

Democrats in the state Senate are agitating to re-revamp HOPE. (House Democrats have little leg to stand on here, because they were very public participants in crafting last year’s legislation.) Their pitch is that the “old” HOPE — covering 100 percent of tuition costs — could be restored, …

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Where the top of the 1 percent lives (hint: not mostly NYC)

“Based on Where the Top 1 Percent Lives, the Occupy Crowd Should Be Protesting Against Big Government.”

So says Cato’s Dan Mitchell, who takes an MSN Money report on the 15 U.S. counties (the highest one-half of 1 percent) with the highest per capita income and creates this map:

rich-bureaucrats-and-lobbyists from Dan Mitchell

Map of wealthy counties near D.C. (source: International Liberty blog by Dan Mitchell)

The stars, as you may have guessed, represent counties in the top 15. You’ll notice there are 10 such stars — meaning two-thirds of America’s very richest counties are suburbs of the nation’s capital. That includes the three highest-earning counties and four of the top five. By comparison, suburbs of New York City account for only four of the top 15. (The 15th is just south of Denver.)

Here’s a sampling of what the MSN report had to say about some of these counties:

15. Charles County, Md.: “The first of five Maryland counties to make our list, Charles’ population grew 21.6 percent in the first decade of the 21st …

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2012 Tuesday: When Obama attacks, which Republican can answer him?

This quote from an Associated Press story about President Obama’s “modest American Dream” summarizes the whole general election in my view:

“He can’t run on change because he’s the incumbent, and he can’t paint too rosy a scenario because things aren’t that rosy,” said John Geer, professor of political science at Vanderbilt University. “He’s got to come up with a theme that appeals to voters, especially middle-class voters, alleviates their fears and gives them reason to believe the future will be better.”

That’s the whole game this fall. If you can’t run on change anymore, you have to run on staying the course. But do most Americans believe we’re on the right course when things, as Greer noted with understatement, are not that rosy?

The Obama strategy appears two-fold: Spend tax money to convince Americans he can be considered one of them, and brand his Republican opponents as people who can’t.

To the latter end, Obama supporters paint Mitt Romney as an out-of-touch …

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Gas prices add to case for delaying T-SPLOST vote

Take the news today about gasoline prices locally (from AJC.com) …

The average price for a gallon of unleaded regular stood at $3.55 Monday, up 3 cents from a week ago and 45 cents from this time a year ago, according to AAA.

The price has risen 15 cents a gallon in the past month.

Georgia’s average price is just slightly below the national average of $3.56, which is the highest price ever for this time of year, the Associated Press reported. Since January, a gallon of gas has risen 25 cents per gallon.

… add this prediction nationally from a Friday story in the San Jose Mercury News (note the part I’ve bolded) …

Some oil analysts predict $4.50 a gallon or more by Memorial Day on the West Coast and major cities across the United States such as Chicago, New York and Atlanta.

… and tell me how this news improves the T-SPLOST’s chances of being approved by voters in a referendum scheduled for July.

On one hand, I suppose a project list with half the spending dedicated to mass …

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