Archive for May, 2009

A huge Barnes lead in an IA poll

InsiderAdvantage just posted, behind its screen, a poll in the Democratic race for governor done in partnership with WSB-TV, showing former incumbent Roy Barnes with a 38 percent lead, and all the announced candidates — Thurbert Baker, DuBose Porter, and David Poythress — scratching at 3 percent or less.

Undecides were more than 50 percent, so this is far from the last word. Details: 404 voters surveyed on Thursday night, 5%±MOE.

A previous IA poll, conducted in April, showed roughly the same numbers — except that Baker was at 11 percent. No explanation was offerred, but this comment from IA’s Matt Towery was later added:

“It is clear if Roy Barnes runs he is the prohibitive favorite. That said, in the crosstabs he is taking virtually all of the decided African-American vote because most African-Americans who said they would be voting don’t know who Thurbert Baker is. Once they come to know , it’s presumable he might take a portion of that away.

“On the other side, Barnes is …

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A GOP exposed by its Southern flank

An excellent, slightly wonkish piece on the cost of Republican addiction to the South, by Ron Brownstein in today’s National Journal:

Republican strength in the South has both compensated for and masked the extent of the GOP’s decline elsewhere. By several key measures, the party is now weaker outside the South than at any time since the Depression; in some ways, it is weaker than ever before.

Today the GOP holds a smaller share of non-Southern seats in the House and Senate than at any other point in its history except the apex of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s popularity during the early days of the New Deal. What is perhaps even more dramatic is that Republicans in the past five presidential elections have won a smaller share of the Electoral College votes available outside of the South than in any other five-election sequence since the party’s formation in 1854.

Likewise, since 1992, Republican presidential nominees have won a smaller share of the cumulative popular vote …

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Your morning jolt: Saxby Chambliss searches for a fight over Gitmo, but can’t find one

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss is trying — trying — to jump with both feet into the fight over Gitmo.

Earlier this week, Chambliss introduced legislation to prohibit the Obama administration from bringing Guantanamo detainees into the United States.

(Unless the naval base on the tip of Cuba is already considered the U.S., in which case he’s too late.)

On Thursday, Chambliss held up the Republican end on MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews” in a discussion of the issue.

You could hardly call it a debate. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, the Senate Democrat paired with Chambliss, agreed in almost every way. As did Matthews — which shows you that President Obama has much persuading ahead of him.

Here’s a small taste of the exchange:

Matthews: What do you think of—do you think our prisons, our maximum security prisons are not adequate to hold them? And we‘ve got some — you know, we‘ve got a lot of killers in our prisons. We‘ve got murderers. We‘ve got people that murdered again and again …

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Max Cleland to receive a White House appointment

Updated at 9:32 p.m.: The White House has now confirmed the appointment of former U.S. senator Max Cleland as secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission.

A Washington voice tells us that former Georgia senator Max Cleland is about to be named by President Barack Obama as secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission.

Cleland, 66, would be the first Georgian with a full-time appointment from the president.

Former Georgia senator Max Cleland at the 2004 National Democratic Convention/Associated Press

Former Georgia senator Max Cleland at the 2004 National Democratic Convention/Associated Press

According to a history posted on the agency’s web site, the battle monuments commission “administers, operates and maintains on foreign soil 24 permanent American burial grounds, and 25 separate memorials, monuments and markers, including three memorials in the United States.”

The appointment would mark a return to federal service for Cleland, a wounded Vietnam veteran who currently lives in Atlanta. He served as head of the Veterans Administration during the …

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America and terror: Whose world do you live in?

President Barack Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney today gave back-to-back speeches on terrorism, national security and the fate of the Guantanamo detention facility.

You can read Obama’s speech here, and Cheney’s here. But below is a section from each. And I’m wondering: which of these two worlds do you live in?

From Obama:

And we will be ill-served by some of the fear-mongering that emerges whenever we discuss this issue. Listening to the recent debate, I’ve heard words that, frankly, are calculated to scare people rather than educate them; words that have more to do with politics than protecting our country.

Whose world do you live in?

  • I live in Dick “No Middle Ground” Cheney’s world
  • I live in Barack “No Fear-Mongering” Obama’s world

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So I want to take this opportunity to lay out what we are doing, and how we intend to resolve these outstanding issues. I will explain how each action that we are taking will help build …

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Fact-checking on Karen Handel’s ox-with-nose-ring video, with a timely rebuttal

Updated at 4:40 p.m.:

While the rest of us were agog at the image of a grunting, muddy ox in that Karen Handel video unveiled at the state Republican convention last week, Tom Crawford concentrated on some of the actual facts asserted in the three-minute spot.

Here’s a bit of what Crawford has posted at the Georgia Report, a subscription site:

As the video displays a photo of former Fulton County sheriff Jackie Barrett, the narrator intones: “When conventional wisdom said the corrupt sheriff of Fulton County couldn’t be touched, Karen Handel said ‘Bring it on’ and the sheriff was removed from office.”

While those words imply that Handel was responsible for removing Barrett from office, in fact she had nothing to do with the sheriff’s fate. Barrett was already under investigation for her handling of sheriff’s department funds when Handel took office as Fulton County commission chair in December 2003.

Although Handel was an outspoken critic of the controversial sheriff, she had …

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From the U.S. Senate floor: Johnny Isakson on Bill Shipp

By retiring this week, 75-year-old political columnist Bill Shipp has created an impish, Tom Sawyeresque moment.

Very few people get to hear what’s likely to be said at their own funeral. On the floor of the U.S. Senate, Johnny Isakson just got finished with a tribute.

Here’s a large piece of it:

”It’s said that all of us are replaceable. I’m not really sure Bill Shipp is replaceable. He began his writing in Georgia as a political columnist for the Atlanta Constitution.

“Starting in the ‘50s, he covered the late Ivan Allen and the late Dr. Martin Luther King and the governor and politicians of that era from George Wallace to Lester Maddox to Jimmy Carter to Carl Sanders. He wrote about the transition of the Old South to the New South. And in Washington he covered the Civil Rights Act in the middle and late ‘70s.

“He was a writer whose perception was keen, whose wit was sharp, and whose pen was even sharper. Now, for 32 of his 50 years, I was in elected office in Georgia. And …

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Austin Scott on secession, and Mike Evans says Nancy Pelosi should go before he gets there

A pair of Republican doings this morning:

— State Rep. Austin Scott of Tifton, an underfunded candidate for governor, made news in Thomasville by drilling home on the secession issue.

This from today’s Thomasville Times Enterprise:

“As a young Republican — I’ll be 40 shortly — it bothers me that our party is talking about leaving the union,” [Scott said Wednesday.] “As Republicans, we can’t let the fact that we lost one election force us to abandon this country. It’s not going to happen under our administration.

“We are not going to be blackmailed by the federal government, but at the same time a Scott administration is not going to talk about taking the Georgia star off the United States flag.”

— This morning, former state DOT chairman Mike Evans, a candidate to replace U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, has decided to join Newt Gingrich in his declaration of war on U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“It’s unbelievable that a leader trusted with so much power would attack the integrity of …

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Mark Sanford takes S.C. legislature to court over federal stimulus cash

This from The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C.:

Gov. Mark Sanford is taking the General Assembly to court after lawmakers required him to accept $350 million in disputed federal money by overriding his budget vetoes.

Sanford quickly announced the federal suit after the Senate voted 34-11 on a state budget that forces him to accept the money.

“We know a suit will be filed against us on this issue, and as such we’ve filed a suit tonight in response,” Sanford said in a prepared statement. “We believe the Legislature’s end-around move won’t pass constitutional muster.”

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Your morning jolt: Isakson and the Financial Crisis Commission

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson went to the White House late Wednesday afternoon to watch President Barack Obama sign his legislation creating an independent “meltdown commission” into law.

The measure creates the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which will conduct a subpoena-empowered investigation into the causes of the ’08 Crash.

By December 2010, you’ll know the entire cast of characters responsible for the disappearance for your 401(k).

The immediate political impact of the legislation is to remove the causes of the meltdown — and the fixes, too — from the hothouse of next year’s campaign season. This was intentional, say Isakson and Kent Conrad, the North Dakota Democrat that Isakson paired with.

But back home, the measure could also validate the make-a-deal approach that Isakson has used in his first term, and which will require voter approval in 2010.

In the U.S. House, Republicans from Georgia — who hail from secure GOP districts — are leaders in the hell-no club, and …

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