Archive for July, 2009

Two days after Senate kills the F-22, a Pentagon report surfaces: The replacement F-35 is two years behind

This just posted by Congressional Quarterly:

An internal Pentagon oversight board has found that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is two years behind the publicly announced schedule, say multiple congressional aides familiar with the findings, sparking a sharp response from those invested in the debate over the F-22.

As Congress has debated the future of the F-22 fighter program, lawmakers have used the promise of the F-35 plane’s completion as a key plank in their argument that the F-22 line could be ended without a significant risk to national security.

Now, senators and aides are lamenting that the Pentagon oversight panel’s more pessimistic view on the F-35 program was not publicly released during the F-22 debate and are calling for more open disclosure of the problems with the development of the F-35.

Late Thursday, U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss issued this statement:

“It’s disturbing that this was known inside the Pentagon as the debate over the F-22 was occurring, and …

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A hiccup in the plan to furlough Georgia teachers

The state Board of Education has scheduled a special meeting for next Tuesday to erase a potential glitch in Gov. Sonny Perdue’s plan to reduce state spending by giving more than 100,000 teachers a three-day furlough.

The act of giving teachers a forced vacation (without pay) must be done through the 181 individual school systems with whom these educators have contracts.

The governor will cut allocations each school system in amounts commensurate with those furloughs. Teacher contracts are for 190 days — 180 in the classroom. Perdue is recommending that non-instruction days be sacrificed.

Again, technically, the final choice is up to the school system. However, to dip below those 190 days, each school system needs a waiver, special dispensation, from the state Board of Education.

That’s what the Tuesday meeting will address. Possibly in the form of a blanket waiver for all school systems, according to Dana Tofig, spokesman for state School Superintendent Kathy Cox. Here’s the …

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Perdue picks Georgia Power CEO to lead state water fight

About 130 lawmakers, city and county officials, lawyers, lobbyists, developers and corporate heavyweights gathered in the basement ballroom of Gov. Sonny Perdue’s house this morning for a private briefing on where Georgia takes its fight for water from here.

Gov. Sonny Perdue after water meeting.

Gov. Sonny Perdue after water meeting.

A federal judge last week stunned the state’s political and business community with his decision that the U.S. Corps of Engineers had lacked authorization for releasing more and more water from Lake Lanier for the support of metro Atlanta and its growth.

Asked why the “stakeholders” meeting had been closed, Perdue spokesman Bert Brantley said the purpose of the gathering was “open, candid conversation. We also went through legal strategy that we won’t get into publicly. The legal strategy is the most important. We don’t want to tell Alabama and Florida.”

In other words, lawyer-client privilege was extended to a roomful of metro Atlanta’s most powerful and well-connected. “These are …

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Oxendine says he wouldn’t have ordered teacher furloughs

Remember how we said those eager to replace Sonny Perdue might consider the governor’s decision to give teachers a three-day furlough to be something of a gamble?

Here’s something from this morning’s Athens Banner-Herald:

The leading Republican candidate for governor Wednesday criticized money-saving teacher furloughs and the way Gov. Sonny Perdue handled tri-state water negotiations.

Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, campaigning in Athens, said Perdue should have exempted teachers from the three-day furloughs he announced Tuesday.

Oxendine did not say specifically what he would cut to save the $300 million the state will save by not paying 100,000 teachers for three planning days, but he said he would have looked elsewhere in the budget for savings.

“When we are lagging the country in test scores and dropout rates, cutting education is probably not the best of ideas,” he said.

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Your morning jolt: Obama says ‘Cambridge police acted stupidly’ in arrest of Harvard scholar

With the economy still coughing, with one war bubbling and another merely seeting, with an administration’s major health care initiative stalled, it can be easy to forget the immediate and essential change that comes when an African-American is president of the United States.

This from the Washington Post:

Obama was asked at the end of his [Wednesday night] news conference about the arrest last week of Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. outside his home. The incident has sparked a national discussion about race relations.

Obama noted that “Skip Gates is a friend, so I may be a little biased here,” and he referred to the professor’s account of arriving home to find a jammed door, forcing it open and then being confronted by a white police officer looking for proof that Gates lived in the home. According to Gates’s account, he showed the officer his ID and became angry when the officer would not identify himself.

We’ll let the New York Times pick it up:

Mr. Obama, asked …

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Marshall: Fox News analyst crossed line by suggesting Taliban should kill U.S. soldier

U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Macon), a former Army ranger, has signed onto a bipartisan letter from members of Congress condemning Fox News for an analyst’s suggestion that a captured U.S. soldier should be killed by his Afghan captors.

Read the letter here.

This week, the Pentagon disclosed that Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl of Idaho had been captured, and that a video of the 23-year-old private was posted online by the Taliban.

On Fox News, Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, a military analyst for the network said the following:

Nobody that I’ve heard in the military is defending this guy. He is an apparent deserter. Reports are indeed that he abandoned his buddies, abandoned his post, and walked off. We’ll see what the ultimate truth of it is.

But if he did, if he’s a deserter at war time, well, as o of my old platoon sergeants used to say, he’s in beaucoup deep kinshee…

We know this private is a liar. We’re not sure that he is a deserter. But the media needs to hit the pause button, and not portray …

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Grassley: Health care passage needs a super-duper majority

Seems as if Al Franken’s election wasn’t that important after all.

This just posted on The Hill, a Capitol newspaper:

The final health care reform bill to make its way out of the Senate should have as many as 80 members voting for passage, one of the lead Republican negotiators of the health package said Wednesday.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, said it’s his preference to see the vast majority of his colleagues on board with a final health care bill.

“It ought to be from 80 people in the center of the Senate, I would think,” Grassley said during a news conference with Iowa reporters.

That type of support would far exceed the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome a filibuster of the bill.

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Lindsey Graham will support Sonia Sotomayor

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is putting out the word that he’ll support the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Graham is confident enough in that decision that he’s posted his questioning of her, during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, on his official web site.

This does raise the question of where U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss come down on the issue. There is less haste, since neither sits on Judiciary.

And remember, Isakson would like to get through 2010 with no Republican rival and only token Democratic opposition. And the two senators usually vote as one.

A hint may have been Tuesday’s decision by Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida, who’s now running for the U.S. Senate. Crist declare that he would — if he could — vote against Sotomayor:

“Judge Sotomayor is worthy of respect for her many accomplishments and her remarkable story of success. However, I have strong concerns that Judge Sotomayor would not strictly and objectively …

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Your morning jolt: Phone problems mar water ’summit’

When speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Gov. Sonny Perdue said the federal judge who ruled against Georgia in the tri-state waters war decision had made it clear that the ball was now in Congress’ court.

Perdue said he would explain that, if necessary, when the Georgia delegation met in Washington that afternoon. The governor and his lawyers were to participate via telephone.

In the end, Perdue didn’t get the chance. Five called votes on the U.S. House side cut the bipartisan meeting — a statewide call to arms, or at least buckets — to less than 10 minutes.

Then there was the phone issue, according to my AJC colleague Bob Keefe, who was waiting outside.

Nobody in the conference room at the Canon office building on Capitol Hill could make the speakerphone work.

Ultimately, the Georgia’s two U.S. Senators and most of its 13 congressmen — along with dozens of congressional staffers — crowded around a handheld Blackberry cell phone to make the call back to Atlanta.

The first thing …

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If only a plumber’s union could pony up the cash

Sorry. My age is showing. This from McClatchy Newspapers:

The Watergate Hotel, the iconic property synonymous with the downfall of President Richard Nixon, failed to attract any bids when it was auctioned Tuesday.

Joseph Cooper, who wielded the gavel, seemed surprised when there was silence after the auction opened at $25 million.

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