Archive for May, 2012

Catholic groups sue to overturn Obama’s contraception mandate

If you thought the Catholic Church and universities affiliated with it would quietly accept the Obama administration’s “compromise” for the contraception mandate, well, think again. From Fox News:

Some of the most influential Catholic institutions in the country filed suit in federal district court Monday against the so-called contraception mandate, in one of the biggest coordinated legal challenges to the rule to date.

Claiming their “fundamental rights hang in the balance,” a total of 43 plaintiffs filed a dozen separate lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the requirement. Among the organizations filing were the University of Notre Dame, the Archdiocese of New York and The Catholic University of America.

The groups are objecting to the requirement from the federal health care overhaul that employers provide access to contraceptive care. The Obama administration several months back softened its position on the mandate, but some religious organizations complained the …

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About the ‘liberal’ plot to get those ‘good people’ at the Gold Dome

Following up on last week’s post about the state GOP’s chance to put ethics reform on the July primary ballot: Georgia Republicans did just that at their annual convention in Columbus, as well as approving a resolution calling on lawmakers to address the issue of lobbyist gifts in the next legislative session. It was a strong message from the party’s grassroots membership to the elected officials who wear the GOP label, and primary voters now have a chance to reinforce that message with a “yes” vote in July.

Speaker David Ralston was critical of this message, however, when he made his own remarks in Columbus:

In times of great majorities like we enjoy now, we must remember that there are those around us who seek nothing less than to divide us. There are those who would sow the seeds of dissension and discord in order to advance a self-absorbed agenda that’s not consistent with the best interests of our party.

Let me be very clear. Regardless of the course that others may take, …

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What’s Plan B if T-SPLOST fails here, passes elsewhere?

The claim by proponents of the T-SPLOST that there is “no Plan B” — no alternative to the proposed 1 percent increase in the sales tax and the $6.1 billion in regional transportation projects it would build — has always struck me as silly.

Is there another plan already prepared and waiting in the wings should voters reject the tax in July? Probably not. In that sense, the “no Plan B” talk rings true. But surely no one believes local and state officials would just quit trying to speed up the construction of new roads and mass transit. A second option would emerge, probably sooner than later.

That said, there is one real nightmare scenario for those who would have to create a Plan B: The tax fails in metro Atlanta, but passes elsewhere.

We in metro Atlanta tend not to think about the tax referendum outside our 10-county region. But the rest of the state is divided into 11 other T-SPLOST regions, and the tax might very well pass in some of them.

Legislators discussed the reverse …

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Poll Position: Is Facebook stock worth the asking price?

Facebook goes public today, listing shares on Nasdaq at $38 apiece; if you want to buy, trading of stock listed as “FB” commences at 11 a.m.

So, do you? Do you want to buy Facebook stock at that price?

On one hand, there is precedent for highly anticipated tech listings that soared and have not (to date) flamed out. Google of course comes to mind: The search-engine company went public in August 2004 at $85, more than doubled in price by year’s end, and has been trading lately in the $600s — more than seven times its IPO price.

Of course, Google has a way to make money, and lots of it. Facebook? Well, the numbers would indicate it’s at least as good a moneymaker as Google was circa 2004. But there was ominous news this week, when GM said it was pulling its paid advertisements on Facebook because it didn’t think they were effective.

At $38 a share, for a market cap of $100 billion-plus, would you buy Facebook stock?

  • No (43 Votes)
  • Yes (15 Votes)
  • I’ll leave this to the …

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Oh, Fulton County: A jail with locks that don’t work (Updated)

Stories like this one from today’s AJC are infuriating to me:

For all the tens of millions of dollars that taxpayers pour into the Fulton County jail every year, the lockup can’t perform the basic function of keeping inmates locked up in cells.

The 23-year-old jail has such shoddy door locks that inmates can jam them with soap, toilet paper, shards of cloth or other trash and leave their cells at will. Motor-operated sliding doors on the maximum security levels can be jimmied open with pieces of cardboard.

This year’s Fulton County budget includes $68.1 million for the jail. Since a 2006 federal court order to improve security at the overcrowded jail, the county has spent more than $50 million to house inmates elsewhere and an estimated $86 million more, including interest, to renovate the facility.

And yet, the locks on the $@^*@&! cells don’t even work properly.

Consider stories like this one as you read about Georgia Republicans’ plans to shrink Fulton County’s impact on …

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Georgia GOP can send lawmakers a loud message about the need for ethics reform (Updated)

UPDATE at 3:42 p.m., Friday, May 18: The Georgia GOP’s executive committee voted to put a question about ethics reform on the July 31 primary ballot. No exact wording available yet, but the references to “unlimited spending” and a $100 cap sound promising.


A year ago, Georgia Republicans convening in Macon flashed an independent streak: They re-elected a grassroots favorite as state party chairman over the hand-picked candidate of new Gov. Nathan Deal. The message was that the party faithful would maintain a bit of separation between themselves and the man they worked to elect.

Tomorrow, party leaders have a chance to make a similar declaration of independence from the legislators they send to Atlanta in droves, over the matter of ethics reform.

Ethics reform went nowhere in this year’s legislative session, but it wasn’t for lack of effort by grassroots conservatives. Tea partyers allied with such groups as Common Cause to draft an ethics bill, recruited …

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GOP’s ‘war on women’ continues in Nebraska

State Sen. Deb Fischer came out of nowhere yesterday to become Nebraska Republicans’ nominee for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Ben Nelson. By my count, she’s the first woman to be nominated for Senate or governor by either major party this year — although several female incumbents will almost certainly be renominated when the time comes, such as Democrats Kristen Gillibrand of New York and Maria Cantwell of Washington, and several female challengers are strong possibilities to capture nominations, including Republicans Linda Lingle of Hawaii and Heather Wilson of New Mexico.

If we add each party’s nominations for Senate and governor from 2010, we get 11 Republican women and 14 Democratic women — 10 Republicans and eight Democrats if we don’t include incumbents. (These figures don’t include Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, who lost the 2010 GOP Senate primary but won the general election as a write-in Republican.) Which can only mean one thing if follow liberal logic:

In the …

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Beware of Greeks who can’t bear to govern themselves

The hazards of having a parliamentary system in a bitterly divided country (from Reuters):

Greece abandoned a nine-day hunt for a government on Tuesday and called a new election that may hand victory to leftists who might cut the nation’s financial lifeline, pushing it closer to bankruptcy and out of the euro zone.

After six rounds of fruitless wrangling, party leaders emerged from a final session at the presidential mansion to gloomily declare that deep divisions over a 130-billion-euro foreign bailout package had killed any hope of a coalition deal.

“We shouldn’t have reached this point,” said Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos, who personally negotiated the rescue package from the European Union and IMF which the hard left says has imposed too harsh an austerity regime. “For God’s sake, let’s move towards something better and not something worse.”

The last elections were held just nine days ago.

In case you’re wondering what’s the difference between the “leftists” …

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2012 Tuesday: Seeking trendlines for Obama and Romney

Opinion polls have value — and limits. The value in the new CBS News/New York Times poll isn’t the headline result showing Mitt Romney leading Barack Obama 46-43. The top-line, national result in a poll conducted almost six months before Election Day is pretty worthless.

But there is value in some of the underlying data, and what they tell us about the direction the election may be taking. There’s some good and bad for each candidate.

First, a quick note about why these data mean anything. Because this poll is taken regularly, with consistency in the wording of questions over time, we can get a decent idea of trend lines. Even better, the people surveyed last Friday to Sunday (May 11-13) are the very same people surveyed last month, giving us an idea of how particular people’s opinions are shifting. However, not all of the people from the April poll chose to participate in May; again, there are limits.

Now to the data. We’ll start with the good for Obama because, frankly, it …

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Will Smith: I’d pay more taxes. Wait, how much more?! (video)

Perhaps Warren Buffett and the other members of his Billionaires for Higher Taxes club should go on French television, where they might actually be asked about the kind of high tax rates some people on the left think the U.S. should implement.

Perhaps they’d have the same kind of reaction Will Smith did (Smith’s interview follows a clip of French President-elect Francois Hollande, and the actor is asked about the tax rate after his first answer):

C’est vrai!

(H/t: Ezra Klein, who links Smith’s reaction to Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin’s recent renunciation of his U.S. citizenship ahead of the company’s forthcoming IPO, after which he will go from being very rich to ultra-rich.)

– By Kyle Wingfield

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Continue reading Will Smith: I’d pay more taxes. Wait, how much more?! (video) »