Archive for November, 2011

Your morning jolt: If a deal’s at stake, consider bigger tax hikes, says Saxby Chambliss

Signs of pessimism in Washington, over Congress’ inability to reach a deficit reduction agreement in the next seven days, includes this from Politico.com:

Supercommittee co-chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), speaking bluntly to a closed House Republican meeting Tuesday said any deal that the panel produces will either be an “abject [failure] or a ‘kiss your sister agreement.’”

One assumes that [failure] is something unprintable. On the other hand, green sprigs of hope include the decision by U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., to release a 37-page report this week critical of government subsidies for wealthy Americans.

He called it “Subsidies of the Rich and Famous.” From the Associated Press:

The report found that in an average year, those earning $1 million or more each year benefit from tax breaks and federal grant programs totaling $30 billion. His report noted that in tax year 2009, nearly 1,500 millionaires paid no federal income tax.

Among the government …

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A House Democrat to sponsor personhood amendment

Today is the first day that bills can be pre-filed for next year’s session of the General Assembly.

We’re told that two lawmakers intend to submit “personhood” resolutions – proposed constitutional amendments that would declare that life begins at fertilization, as would legal protection. All abortions would be banned; in vitro fertilization would be restricted.

Mississippi defeated a similar measure last week by 58 percent.

In the Senate, the sponsor will be Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville – no surprise, given his pro-life reputation. In the House, the sponsor will be Rick Crawford of Cedartown.

Here’s the thing: Crawford is a Democrat.

“I’m from rural Georgia,” he said. “I have to be well in step, and people have to trust me to represent their interests. It’s not a surprise to anyone that I’m pro-life. This is a discussion that is appropriate for us to have.”

Crawford is currently teaching political science at Shorter College – the school that now …

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Obama cabinet member says Port of Savannah deepening ‘has to happen’

From Russ Bynum and the Associated Press:

SAVANNAH, Ga.— Georgia’s 15-year push to deepen the river channel to the booming Port of Savannah got a big endorsement Tuesday from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet who finished a port tour by throwing his support behind the $600 million project and saying: “It has to happen.”

The secretary’s hosts, Gov. Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, sat grinning — and perhaps a little surprised — as LaHood promised to convene a meeting of stakeholders in Washington next month to help find funding for the port expansion, which has had a tough time securing money from a Congress focused on trimming the budget deficit.

“We’ll figure out how to get the federal dollars to make this project happen,” LaHood told Georgia officials and reporters near the dock as giant cranes lifted cargo containers in the background. “It has to happen.”

Savannah, the nation’s fourth largest container port, and …

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Your morning jolt: Company behind Atlanta study pulls plug on stem cell research

The California-based company behind a pioneering experiment at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta – studying whether human embryonic stem cells can be used to repair spinal injuries — announced Monday it would halt the research and focus on developing two cancer drugs.

Geron was the first company ever permitted to conduct embryonic stem cell tests on humans. From McClatchy-Tribune News Service:

Although the company has sufficient finances to cover its cancer-drug costs over the next 20 months without having to raise more money, it noted in a news release, “this would not be possible if we continue to fund the stem cell programs at the current levels.”

…Besides the spinal research, Geron had been studying human embryonic stem cells as possible treatments for such ailments as diabetes, heart disease and cartilage repair. The company said it would attempt to seek “partners” to continue the research and “will retain a core group of employees from its stem cell operations” through …

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Herman Cain struggles with an answer on Libya

In Wisconsin today for a tailgate fundraiser leading up to the Packers game, Herman Cain spent a half-hour with reporters and editors of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Things did not go all that well.

There was a headline, of course:

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain said Monday that he believes public employees should be allowed to bargain collectively on wages and other benefits as long as it does not create an undue burden on taxpayers.

But the session also produced a five-minute video in which Cain struggles with his nemesis – foreign policy. Asked whether he agreed with President Barack Obama’s approach to toppling Moammar Gadhafi in Libya, Cain stalled. “I’ve got all this stuff twirling around in my head,” he said. Nearly painful two minutes elapsed before Cain could formulate an answer:

“I would have done a better job of determining who the opposition is. And I’m sure that our intelligence people had some of that information….”

It may not …

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Fight for Senate control reaches into northeast Georgia

When the Legislature returns in January, much of Gov. Nathan Deal’s agenda will depend on whether the state Senate has resolved the leadership dispute between Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Senate President pro tem Tommie Williams of Lyons.

Cagle lost one of his top supporters,, state Sen. Jim Butterworth, R-Cornelia, when the governor named Butterworth as the state’s new adjutant general.

Two northeast Georgia candidates survived last week’s special election to replace him. State Rep. Rick Austin won 43 percent of the vote, out of more than 15,000 cast. John Wilkinson, a former candidate for state agriculture commissioner, came in second with 39 percent. A third candidate, David Strickland, has endorsed Wilkinson. The runoff election is Dec. 6.

Austin won the first phase of the fund-raising battle with $39,095 to Wilkinson’s $32,621.

Austin is being backed by GOP senators intent on keeping the power to name chairmanships, determine committee memberships, and guide …

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Your morning jolt: Herman Cain and the manliness of more pizza toppings

If he makes it to the White House, don’t expect GOP contender Herman Cain to continue first lady Michelle Obama’s healthy eating campaign.

GQ magazine’s December edition includes a pizza-eating session between Cain and reporters that produced these quips from the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza:

”The more toppings a man has on his pizza, I believe the more manly he is.”

And why would that be?

”Because the more manly man is not afraid of abundance.”

Be still, Grasshopper, and let the wisdom congeal like extra cheese on a thick crust.

***
This morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and its first African-American leader, had a poor assessment of Herman Cain’s performance at the CBS/National Journal foreign policy debate on Saturday. From Steele:

A lot of people had this expectation that there’s just a lot of hype about his inability to perform, particularly on this subject. So here you are, …

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Gloria Cain defends her husband against sexual allegations

Update at 9:30 a.m. Monday to add video: My AJC colleague Daniel Malloy has been in contact with Fox News people, who said that Greta Van Susteren has taped a session with GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain and his wife Gloria.

In this May 21, 2011 photo, Gloria Cain, left, accompanies her husband Herman Cain as he announces his run for Republican candidate for president in Atlanta. AP/David Goldman

In this May 21, 2011 photo, Gloria Cain, left, accompanies her husband Herman Cain as he announces his run for Republican candidate for president in Atlanta. AP/David Goldman

The interview is to air at 10 p.m. Monday.

Two quotes were released from Gloria Cain, both having to do with allegations of sexual harassment involving her husband. The first, presumably about the accusations from Sharon Bialek, who accused Herman Cain of groping her when she sought his influence for a job:

“[Y]ou hear the graphic allegations and we know that would have been something that’s totally disrespectful of her as a woman. And I know the type of person he is. He totally respects women.”

And this:

“I’m thinking he would have to have a split personality to do the …

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The lessons of Arizona, Mississippi for Georgia Republicans

On Tuesday, state lawmakers will begin submitting bills for their colleagues’ consideration in January, when the Legislature returns to Atlanta.

We are entering an election year, which means more than a few of the measures will be intended to stir the blood and drive GOP voters to the polls in November.

But stir the blood too much and the patient revolts. Votes in Arizona and Mississippi last week may have set boundaries for Republicans in Georgia when it comes to two hot topics: Abortion and illegal immigration.

Let’s address the more subtle of the pair first: Last Tuesday, voters ousted Republican Russell Pearce, president of the Arizona state senate and architect of that state’s illegal immigration law — which became a model for Georgia’s HB 87, passed earlier this year.

Opponents of state attempts to enforce federal immigration laws called Pearce’s defeat a victory. But Pearce was replaced by another Republican who also supports Arizona’s approach. Reports …

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Breeders’ Cup official dangles carrot in front of state lawmakers

Horses make their way through turn one during the Classic race at the Breeders' Cup horse races at Churchill Downs last Saturday in Louisville, Ky. AP/Matt Slocum

Horses make their way through turn one during the Classic race at the Breeders' Cup horse races at Churchill Downs last Saturday in Louisville, Ky. AP/Matt Slocum

A large carrot is dangling in front of next year’s Legislature – but only if state lawmakers agree to a statewide referendum to permit horse racing.

A member of the board of directors of the Breeders’ Cup says the annual event would consider coming to Atlanta – permanently or otherwise – should Georgia make pari-mutuel betting legal.

Each year, the Breeders’ Cup marks the end of the thoroughbred horse-racing season in the United States. It has no home, but migrates from track to track – Los Angeles, Kentucky, sometimes New York. But pass H.R. 186, sponsored by state Rep. Harry Geisinger, R-Roswell, and Breeders’ Cup board member Bill Farish Jr. told Denis O’Hayer of WABE (90.1FM) that Atlanta could find itself in the mix:

”I’ve felt that way for a long time, actually. Atlanta as a city has so …

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