Archive for June, 2009

Big Brother’s reach in Iran, with Western help

If you’ve been monitoring the protests in Iran via Twitter (#iranelection), you already know that this Wall Street Journal story is the topic of conversation today:

The Iranian regime has developed, with the assistance of European telecommunications companies, one of the world’s most sophisticated mechanisms for controlling and censoring the Internet, allowing it to examine the content of individual online communications on a massive scale.

Interviews with technology experts in Iran and outside the country say Iranian efforts at monitoring Internet information go well beyond blocking access to Web sites or severing Internet connections.

Instead, in confronting the political turmoil that has consumed the country this past week, the Iranian government appears to be engaging in a practice often called deep packet inspection, which enables authorities to not only block communication but to monitor it to gather information about individuals, as well as alter it for disinformation …

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Rasmussen: Barnes ‘far and away the leader’ in Democratic race for governor

A new poll by Rasmussen Reports issued today identifies former Gov. Roy Barnes as “far and away the leader” in the Democratic race for governor.

Barnes captured 48 percent of Democratic primary voters, according to the July 17 telephone survey of 247 voters. (MOE ±6 percent)

Attorney General Thurbert Baker was at a distant 8 percent, and DuBose Porter followed at 5 percent.

Compare the above with the survey from last week by Strategic Vision, which had Barnes at 49 percent, and Porter and David Poythress in single digits. But SV had Baker at 30 percent. Somebody is very, very wrong.

The Rasmussen web site said John Oxendine still holds a commanding lead on the Republican side of the race.

Survey questions and toplines to the Rasmussen poll can be found here. Cross tabs are available via paid subscription only.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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The difference between a shopping mall and the town square

The Atlanta Tea Party says it has been forced to cancel its July 4th gathering in Gwinnett County.

The anti-tax group had planned to hold the event in the old Macy’s building at Gwinnett Place mall, but was forced to cancel it after the mall owner objected.

“[Simon Property Group, Inc.] does not want political events on it’s property. They were also concerned about the fact we were using the term ‘protest,’” said Julianne Thompson, one of the organizers.

As a fallback position, the group is joining with Cobb County activists for a “tea party” on July 3 at Jim Miller Park.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Supreme Court: Voting Rights Act on thin ice

The U.S. Supreme Court this morning upheld the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, but it indicated that the measure may be on thin ice.

Read the decision here.

Specifically at issue was the provision which requires Justice Department approval of changes to any voting law by Georgia and several other states with a history of discrimination.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion. Justice Clarence Thomas, the only African-American on the bench, was the only dissenting voice.

Thomas argued “the lack of current evidence of intentional discrimination with respect to voting renders [Section 5] unconstitutional.”

Wrote Roberts:

[The] constitutional question has attracted ardent briefs from dozens of interested parties, but the importance of the question does not justify our rushing to decide it.

Quite the contrary: Our usual practice is to avoid the unnecessary resolution of constitutional questions. We agree that the district is eligible …

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Your morning jolt: Nunn explains Obama’s Iranian reserve

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” former Georgia senator Sam Nunn on Sunday served as a defender of President Barack Obama’s cautious approach to the chaos in Iran.

Republicans, including U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who holds Nunn’s old seat, have questioned Obama’s restrained reaction to the Iranian government’s violent efforts to quell the street protests.

Said Nunn:

Certainly, I don’t think there’s any mistake whatsoever in the Middle East or anywhere else that President Obama is basically supporting the right of the people to vote and to make their influence known and not to be repressed.

You know, Winston Churchill said a long time ago that no matter how beautiful the strategy, occasionally you have to look at the result.

The result here is that we are not the story. We have been the great Satan over there for the last 30 years. We’re not the story. Freedom, liberty is the story, the repression of the regime is the story. So I think we’re positioned about …

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Some stirrings in Congress on the F-22

This from McClatchy Newspapers:

Defense Secretary Robert Gates Thursday said he was having “a big problem” with Congressional efforts to restore funding for the F-22, indicating that a showdown is looming between the Pentagon and Capitol Hill over the future of the one of the Air Force’s most advanced fighter jets.

Gates had proposed ending production of the F-22 Raptor and replacing it with the F-35 or Joint Strike Fighter, an unpopular decision among airmen who favor the aircraft and members of Congress from 46 states, whose districts benefit from aircraft construction.

He spoke after the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday approved $369 million for “advanced procurement” of 12 F-22s in the fiscal year starting in September.

Even some top Air Force commanders are backing the drive on Capitol Hill for hundreds more F-22s than Gates is seeking. In a June 9 letter to Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., Gen. John Corley, the commander of the Air Force’s Air Combat Command, wrote: …

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No morning jolt.

I’ll be taking the next couple days off. We’ll catch up on Monday or so.

Continue reading No morning jolt. »

A sit-down between Saxby Chambliss and Sonia Sotomayor

Just got off the phone with U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who had a one-hour sit-down today with U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

The Republican expressed some specific qualms about the nominee, but was surprisingly positive in his assessment — though “cordial” is probably the better word.

Sotomayor meets with U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson tomorrow.

Chambliss also expressed some concern about President Barack Obama’s subdued response to the post-election protests in Iran. All is below in a quick Q&A:

Insider: So what did you think of her?

Chambliss: In preparation for sitting down with her, I sat down and read a lot of her opinions, and read some of her speeches, and talked to some lawyers that had dealt with her.

There are some issues out there. We talked about some concerns I had regarding the Second Amendment, regarding some concerns I had on where she might come down on social issues — not abortion.

But frankly, what I had heard from people, from what I had …

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Vance Smith recommended to head a re-formed DOT

A search committee on Wednesday recommended that board governing the state Department of Transportation choose Rep. Vance Smith (R-Pine Mountain) to be DOT commissioner. The full board will vote Thursday.

Smith would have to give up his seat in the House, where he chairs the transportation committee.

After the committee announcement Wednesday Smith cautioned that the deal wasn’t done. “They’re just making a recommendation to move forward,” Smith told my AJC colleague Ariel Hart. “You know, anything can happen in 24 hours in politics.”

All the same, his election seemed a foregone conclusion, in stark contrast to the last time he was a candidate. In a bitterly contested 2007 vote, the board chose his opponent, Gena Abraham (later Evans), by a one-vote margin.

The board was caught in a vise between Gov. Sonny Perdue, who supported Evans, and House Speaker Glenn Richardson, who supported Smith. After a year and a half of turbulence, the board fired her in …

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A John Linder attempt to de-fund the Voting Rights Act

We’ve been passed word that U.S. Rep. John Linder (R-Duluth) intends to offer an amendment to a budget bill this afternoon that would eliminate funding for that section of the U.S. Justice Department that enforces the Voting Rights Act.

Download a copy of the one-page amendment here.

The measure isn’t likely to pass, but is likely to stoke the building confrontation over the issue, which includes a U.S. Supreme Court case that has already been argued. And debate could gum up passage of the appropriations bill.

Updated: U.S. Rep. John Lewis posted the following response below, but it’s worth bringing up for all to see:

Georgia is a living testimony to the continuing need for the Voting Rights Act, especially in light of recent Department of Justice findings that said Georgia’s voter verification process was “inaccurate” and disenfranchised thousands of eligible voters, mainly minorities.

The Voting Rights Act, especially Section 5, is still necessary to stop unfair …

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