Archive for January, 2011

Newt Gingrich as ‘Professor Cornpone’

If you’re a presumptive Republican candidate for president, tearing across crucial states such as Iowa and Ohio, you don’t want to lose a news cycle to a biting editorial generated by the Wall Street Journal.

Alas, this is what has happened to Newt Gingrich, dubbed “Professor Cornpone” in an unsigned piece published today. A few tastes:

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich waits to speak at the Renewable Fuels Association summit in Iowa last week. Associated Press

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich waits to speak at the Renewable Fuels Association summit in Iowa last week. Associated Press

The former Speaker blew through Des Moines last Tuesday for the Renewable Fuels Association summit, and his keynote speech to the ethanol lobby was as pious a tribute to the fuel made from corn and tax dollars as we’ve ever heard. Mr. Gingrich explained that “the big-city attacks” on ethanol subsidies are really attempts to deny prosperity to rural America, adding that “Obviously big urban newspapers want to kill it because it’s working, and you wonder, ‘What are their values?’”

One senses a generational gulf in this …

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Do you have a firearm in the house? Docs, their questions and Georgia’s next gun fight

In Florida, Republicans in that state’s legislature are pushing a bill to prohibit physicians from asking patients whether they own a gun.

We’re told a similar firearms privacy measure is being prepared for Georgia, and will hit within the next few weeks.

A preview from the Florida Times-Union:

Over the past three decades, Jeff Goldhagen has counseled countless parents on how to keep their kids safe around guns. The Jacksonville pediatrician usually begins the conversations with a question: Do you own any firearms?

That kind of inquiry could land him in jail for up to five years or cost him a $5 million fine under a measure making its way through the Florida Legislature, despite stiff resistance from medical groups. The bill would make it a felony for a physician or any medical worker to ask a patient or the patient’s family whether they own a gun.

Gun rights advocates say the bill offers critical privacy protection for firearm owners. But Goldhagen and others in the …

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Bobby Franklin: Let’s do away with driver’s licenses

The Lone Ranger rides again.

State Rep. Bobby Franklin, R-Marietta, has discovered a way to end the fractious debate over whether illegal immigrants should be able to have driver’s licenses.

Or 12-year-olds, for that matter. Just do away with the troublesome documents.

loneranger

State Rep. Bobby Franklin, R-Marietta, in a 2008 photo mocking his colleagues’ observation that he’s often the “Lone Ranger” on issues championed by his bills. Elissa Eubanks, eeubanks@ajc.com

Sandra Parrish with AM750 and now 95.5FM News/Talk WSB talked to Franklin about his bill this morning. Listen to the conversation here.

Likewise, CBS Atlanta today gave some noon air time to the – let’s admit – unusual legislation. Video is now online, but here’s what’s posted about Franklin’s “Right to Travel Act:”

CBS Atlanta’s Rebekka Schramm asked Franklin, “How are we going to keep up with who’s who and who’s on the roads and who’s not supposed to be on the roads?”

“That’s a great question,” Franklin said. “And I …

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Your morning jolt: Georgia prepared to go it alone with Savannah dredging?

Savannah and the rest of Georgia will spend the next two weeks praying that President Barack Obama will include $551 million in his budget for the dredging of the Port of Savannah.

But Larry Peterson of the Savannah Morning News thinks a Plan B may be in the works that no one wants to talk about. From this weekend:

[Gov. Nathan Deal] asked for only $563 million in bonds for capital projects such as deepening – down from the nearly $1 billion Perdue sought last year.

Deal says he did so to preserve the state’s AAA bond rating. But it also leaves room for the state to pick up the slack if the feds don’t come through.

For obvious reasons, he doesn’t want to talk about it.

“I don’t want to give the federal government any reason not to be a full partner,” he said….

But the day before, he told a group in Buckhead, “Quite honestly, I hope we don’t have to carry the whole load.”

Which, of course, was an indirect way of acknowledging that the state might do just that.

A bigger bond …

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Chick-fil-A locked in a Pennsylvania fight over gay marriage

Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A has found itself drawn into a fight over gay rights in Pennsylvania.

From my AJC colleague Jeremiah McWilliams:

A variety of complaints against the Atlanta-based company coalesced this month. There was the decision by a Chick-fil-A operator in Pennsylvania to supply food to an event sponsored by the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which has worked to defeat gay marriage initiates and has become a lightning rod for gay rights groups. There was a blogger’s contention that Chick-fil-A’s WinShape Foundation does not admit gay couples to marriage counseling.

From the New York Times:

Nicknamed “Jesus chicken” by jaded secular fans and embraced by Evangelical Christians, Chick-fil-A is among only a handful of large American companies with conservative religion built into its corporate ethos.

But recently its ethos has run smack into the gay rights movement. A Pennsylvania outlet’s sponsorship of a February marriage seminar by one of that state’s most …

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The unfinished fight over a warm bucket of spit

“Cactus Jack” Garner is the only man in American history to have served both as speaker of the U.S. House and — in his capacity as one of Franklin Roosevelt’s vice presidents — presiding officer of the Senate.

The Texan was in a unique position to compare the two positions. And Garner declared that in his judgment the job of vice president wasn’t worth a warm bucket of spit. Except he didn’t say spit.

No one enters politics to become a warm bucket of anything. Politicians become politicians because they want the clout to bend the world to their way of thinking.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, left, and Senate President pro tem Tommie Williams, R-Lyons. Chris Quinn, cquinn@ajc.com

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, left, and Senate President pro tem Tommie Williams, R-Lyons. Chris Quinn, cquinn@ajc.com

The problem is that power is often a zero-sum game. For one person to gain, another must lose.

This is the situation in our state Capitol. Last November, a mere three days after he was re-elected, the Senate Republican caucus stripped Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle — a fellow member of the GOP — of most of his authority …

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Roy Barnes on ‘Citizens United’ decision: ‘What a crock’

The State Bar held a series of seminars Friday on the implications of the Citizens United on campaign financing – the famous U.S. Supreme Court decision is now just over a year old.

One of the participants was state Rep. Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Williard made a bit of news when he said it was likely that a) the Legislature would soon consider a measure to restore the rule-making authority of the body once known as the State Ethics Commission; and b) he favored more reliable financing of the agency.

Former Gov. Roy Barnes at a Thursday news conference, defending Cobb EMC's chief on theft and racketeering charges. Vino Wong, vwong@ajc.com

Former Gov. Roy Barnes at a Thursday news conference, defending Cobb EMC’s chief on theft and racketeering charges. Vino Wong, vwong@ajc.com

Stacey Kalberman, executive secretary of the awkwardly renamed Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, was in the audience. And seemed pleased.

Another participant was former Gov. Roy Barnes, who made light of his November defeat – and said he was done with …

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After telling Sarah Palin to ‘butt out’ — the rest of the tale

The St. Paul Pioneer Press has a piece today about the dangers encountered by Republicans who dare to criticize Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachman, whose tea party following served as a platform for her own personal response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

The article includes two paragraphs that tell what happened to a particular Georgia congressman last August, in the hours after the Republican runoff for governor, after he agreed that Sarah Palin should “butt out” of local races:

Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga. — who has a long conservative voting record — said he learned the power of Palin’s following the hard way after suggesting she stay out of Georgia’s Republican gubernatorial primary on a radio show.

“There was a firestorm in the office for about 24 hours,” he said, with people “questioning my Republican conservative credentials” in phone calls. “To Sarah Palin’s credit, you have a national network of very energized fans.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political …

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Nathan Deal: Climate isn’t right for tax rewrite

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, right, and aide Tom Willis exits the third floor of the state Capitol – legislative territory – on Thursday. AP/David Goldman

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, right, and aide Tom Willis exits the third floor of the state Capitol – legislative territory – on Thursday. AP/David Goldman

On the fourth floor of the state Capitol this morning, those behind a proposal to rewrite Georgia’s tax code will be trying to persuade anti-tax guru Grover Norquist to drop his condemnation of it.

But they might want to invite the fellow on the second floor, too. In an interview with Larry Peterson of the Savannah Morning News, Gov. Nathan Deal said he has no taste for two of the tax reform panel’s recommendations: A cigarette tax hike, and a return to a state sales tax on groceries. To wit:

[Deal] took big-ticket revenue-raising ideas off the table and signaled that hopes for major tax overhaul will simmer for another year.

Those include his proposals for lower and simpler state income and corporate taxes.

“We’re not going to sign anything that is a tax increase … in this climate, no matter how intentioned it is,” Deal …

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Farmers get half their way in illegal immigration bills

You’ll remember that last month, delegates to the Georgia Farm Bureau’s annual convention entered the coming debate in the Legislature over illegal immigration.

The farmers approved a resolution to oppose any measure that “discriminates against the farm worker” and puts farmers at a competitive disadvantage.

The resolution may already have had an impact. D.A. King, who is often at the state Capitol urging tougher approaches, pointed out this paragraph from a press release by state Sen. Jack Murphy, R-Cumming, previewing his legislation on the topic:

”Georgia’s agricultural industry, which relies on legal foreign workers for seasonal jobs, already must verify the legal status of workers, per federal regulation. My bill, therefore, excludes agricultural businesses from the E-Verify provision.”

King takes polite issue with the above. “The Ag industry is under no more mandates to verify the eligibility of the workers they hire than is Joe’s Bait Shop in Anywhereville, north …

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