Archive for January, 2010

Newt Gingrich: ‘I was wrong, tea party faction was right’

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich on Saturday conceded that he was wrong to endorse Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava in last November’s special congressional election in New York’s 23rd District.

And the GOP’s tea party faction was right.

Gingrich’s remarks came during an interview with WNTK radio in New Hampshire that will be broadcast Monday. The political blog New Hampshire Watchdog posted this sound clip on YouTube:

Said Gingrich:

“They were right. At the time, as a party builder and someone who has always been trying to help build the party, it struck me that she was the local nominee. She turned out to be a huge disappointment. And she turned out not to be frankly a loyal Republican.”

“And I think that those folks have the better of that argument.

“It’s very important, though, not to get into a business where if you’re not exactly perfect, I can’t be for you. Scott Brown has been an enormously important victory, but the fact is Scott Brown, on many …

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The people behind Jimmy Carter’s letter on Israel

Last month, while much of the world was distracted by the holidays, former President Jimmy Carter issued what he called “an open letter to the Jewish community.”

In four paragraphs, Carter expressed his hopes for the state of Israel. He ended the letter with a fifth paragraph that the world quickly came to call an apology.

“We must not permit criticisms for improvement to stigmatize Israel,” the former president said. “I offer an Al Het for any words or deeds of mine that may have done so.”

The statement might be better termed a confession. Al Het refers to the Yom Kippur prayer recited by a supplicant who begs God to forgive a sin.

In the weeks since, the abrupt nature of the Carter statement has led many to speculate about its purpose and the former president’s motives.

What very few know is that this first step toward reconciliation was the private initiative of several influential members of Atlanta’s Jewish community, whose ties to Carter date three decades and more. …

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Tom Price and Barack Obama go at it over health care

U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-Roswell) was a large part of the extraordinary exchange between President Barack Obama and House Republican leaders this afternoon, captured by C-SPAN.

It’s a bit fuzzy, but here’s a YouTube clip that InsiderAdvantage’s Tom Baxter pointed us to:

The White House has the entire exchange on its Web site. Click here to see it.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Oxendine: Give state ethics commission its independence

State Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, a Republican candidate for governor, this afternoon is pushing out his approach to ethics reform at the state Capitol.

It’s short, so we offer his press release in its entirety:

“It is unconscionable for our Georgia Ethics Commission to have to beg for money from the very people that they are trying to watch over,” said John Oxendine. “I have some ideas that I hope the legislature will thoughtfully consider.”

“First, the Ethics Commission should be established as an independent body with a funding mechanism which is free from political interference. This minimum funding can be accomplished in part by an appropriate lobbyist registration fee assessed to for-profit lobbyists.

Also, any candidate for state office should pay at qualifying a dedicated fee which will be used to fund the operation of the Ethics Commission. An exemption to this fee should be made available for individuals and entities who can demonstrate …

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Welcome to Georkansas: Suddenly, we have a rail gap

Did you go to work this morning feeling, well, slightly different? As if you lived in Arkansas?

There’s a reason. This is the day that Georgia became something less than it’s been – a place where flocks and flocks of chickens have come home to roost. Like that playground scene from Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” only not so funny.

This was on the front page of the AJC this morning:

North Carolina has spent more than $300 million since 1992 to bolster its passenger rail service. On Thursday, it saw a return on that investment: a $545 million slice of President Barack Obama’s $8 billion high-speed rail stimulus.

Florida got an even bigger piece of that pie — $1.25 billion. The Sunshine State may have helped its case by boosting funding for mass transit after U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warned that it needed to get its act together to compete for high-speed rail funds.

Georgia got a similar warning but didn’t jump to action. It got a $750,000 sliver.

Welcome to …

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A Hank Johnson poll: Survey shows him far ahead in a four-way Democratic primary

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson has just released a poll that shows the two-term congressman miles ahead in a four-contender Democratic primary that includes former DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones and county commissioners Connie Stokes and Lee May.

As always, take surveys like this with a grain of salt: Campaigns use them to attract contributions, and to undercut competitors.

But for those very reasons, the memo composed by Lake Research Partners will be required reading in DeKalb. See the entire thing here. But this is the gist:

On the full four-way ballot, Johnson has more support than all of his opponents combined, and he is already only 3 points away from the simple majority necessary to avoid a runoff. Johnson begins the primary season with 47% of the vote, followed by Vernon Jones with 19%, Connie Stokes with 12% and Lee May with 5%. Fifteen percent of voters remain undecided.

In head-to-head match-ups, Johnson easily defeats his two closest challengers. Against Vernon Jones, …

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Nothing wrong with anti-abortion ad during Super Bowl, says Tebow

My AJC colleague Orlando Ledbetter has posted this from Mobile, Ala.:

Florida quarterback Tim Tebow doesn’t understand the controversy surrounding a Super Bowl ad scheduled to air on CBS on Feb. 7.

The ad was purchased by Focus on the Family, a conservative group that stresses marriage and parenthood.

The ad’s theme will be “Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life,” according to the Associated Press. Tebow’s mother, Pam Tebow, shares the story of her difficult 1987 pregnancy. Instead of getting an abortion she decided to give birth to Tebow.

“I don’t think it’s anything that’s negative or anything like that,” Tebow said Wednesday after the South team’s practice at the Senior Bowl.

Some contend that the Super Bowl should not be used for political agendas.

“It’s a good time and place,” Tebow said. “There are a lot of people watching. It’s a great opportunity to share a very happy and special story about my mom fighting for me. There are a lot of great things in that.”

For instant …

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Scott Brown to GOP: ‘Sometimes I won’t be with you’

This just in from the Associated Press:

Boston — Scott Brown says he has already told Senate Republican leaders they won’t always be able to count on his vote.

The man who staged an upset in last week’s Massachusetts Senate special election, in part by pledging to be the 41st GOP vote against President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday that he staked his claim in early conversations with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip Jon Kyl.

”I already told them, you know, `I got here with the help of a close group of friends and very little help from anyone down there, so there’ll be issues when I’ll be with you and there are issues when I won’t be with you,”’ Brown said Thursday during the half-hour interview. ”So, I just need to look at each vote and then make a proper analysis and then decide.”

Asked how McConnell and Kyl responded, Brown said, ”They understood. They said, `You can probably do whatever you …

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Kasim Reed to Legislature: ‘It’s time for a cease-fire’

Last year witnessed several loud, knock-down-drag-out fights between the Legislature and elements associated with the city of Atlanta. Usually, the city lost.

But in an effective appearance before the state House this morning, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed essentially promised that – while the situation may be even more dire this year – there won’t be a repeat.

“It’s time for us to have a cease-fire. We can deal with the stuff between us later. But right now, Georgia’s dominance as the capital of the South is threatened,” the mayor said.

Note that Reed identified Georgia as the capital of the South. Not Atlanta.

Reed’s invitation to speak was recognition that the House had served as the starting point for his political career – though Reed actually spent more years in the Senate. So the mayor understands that his former colleagues can be a prickly bunch. If Reed used the word “humble” once, he used it five times — before House members and in interviews afterwards.

His …

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Your morning jolt: Kasim Reed to make a Capitol appearance, with Ralph Long at his side

One day after a return to the state Senate, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed will walk across the street again this morning for a visit to the state House – with considerably more pomp.

Reed, who served in both chambers during 12 years in the Legislature, will be escorted by a formal House committee of escort that might as well be waving olive branches. That’s how loaded down with symbolism they’ll be.

House Speaker David Ralston has asked that state Rep. Calvin Smyre (D-Columbus), who ran against him in the formal House vote for speaker, accompany the mayor.

And Reed has asked that the escort party include state Rep. Ralph Long, a Democrat who last year had the honor of being the only elected official to support Mary Norwood in the Atlanta mayoral contest.

After his address to the House, Reed goes to the Atlanta Press Club, where he’ll outline the basics of his administration.

Not enough has been made of House Speaker David Ralston’s appearance in the Senate on Wednesday – the …

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