Archive for January, 2012

The chain-reaction collisions on the I-75 corridor

I have rolled up and down I-75 for most of my adult life. From Kennesaw to Atlanta and back, 60 miles each day. I’ve lost tires to shrapnel tossed by big rigs, spun 360s on patches of ice, and navigated past the occasional Friday night drunk.

But what frightens the hard-core commuter more than anything else is the sudden tableau of red brake lights, smoking tires, and the raised rear-end of a car chassis rushing toward him. One panicked stop leads to another and another and another.

Airbags explode, and everything grinds to a halt.

A slow-motion version of that chain reaction, as disturbing as any that ever shut down my northwest passage, is unfolding in the state Capitol.

Last month, Gov. Nathan Deal abruptly cancelled a $1 billion, public-private venture to install reversible toll lanes alongside I-75 and I-575 – the first major overhaul to promise relief for myself and an estimated 199,999 other daily commuters.

In exchange for the private funding, under terms negotiated …

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Newt Gingrich vows to stay in race until GOP convention

From the Associated Press:

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — On the weekend before the pivotal Florida primary, Newt Gingrich vowed Saturday to stay in the race for the Republican presidential nomination until the national convention this summer even if he loses Tuesday’s vote. Front-runner Mitt Romney poured on the criticism of his rival in television ads airing across the state.

Gingrich’s pledge, in a race defined by unpredictability, raised the prospect of an extended struggle inside the party as Republicans work to defeat President Barack Obama in the fall. “You just had two national polls that show me ahead,” he said. “Why don’t you ask Gov. Romney what he will do if he loses” in Florida.

The former Massachusetts governor countered a few hours later while in Panama City. “I think we are going to win here, I sure hope so,” he said.

As the two rivals made their appeals to Hispanic, Jewish and tea party voters, veterans of the armed forces and others, all known indicators pointed to a …

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Latest Newt Gingrich ad: Mitt Romney would ‘mislead, distort and deceive’

With the Florida debates over, and Mitt Romney pulling away in statewide polls, GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has gone nuclear:

The script:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, from a 2007 campaign ad: “If a man’s dishonest to obtain a job, he’ll be dishonest on the job.”

Male narrator: What kind of man would mislead, distort, and deceive just to win an election? This man would. Mitt Romney. Romney said he has always voted Republican when he had the opportunity. But in the 1992 Massachusetts primary, Romney had the chance to vote for George H.W. Bush or Pat Buchanan, but he voted for a liberal Democrat instead.

“Romney said his investments in Fannie and Freddie were in a blind trust. But as reported in the National Journal, Romney earned tens of thousands of dollars from investments NOT in a blind trust.

“Romney denied seeing a false ad his campaign used to attack Newt Gingrich. But Romney’s own campaign paid for the ad and Romney’s own voice is on the ad …

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‘Personal growth’ in exchange for food stamps

So I’m reading SB 312, the bill sponsored by state Sens. William Ligon, R-Brunswick; John Albers, R-Roswell; Buddy Carter, R-Pooler; and President pro tem Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, to require that food stamp recipients do something in exchange for the assistance they receive.

The first passage that strikes the eye is this:

(a) In order to be eligible for food stamps, an applicant shall engage in personal growth activities, which may include, but not be limited to, working toward a general educational development (GED) diploma, if not a high school graduate; pursuing technical education; attending self-development classes; and enrolling in an adult literacy class.

“Personal growth activities” is an intriguing phrase, open to broad interpretation. Likewise “self-development classes.”

Attention, Zumba and yoga instructors: The Legislature may be about to unlock a new market for you.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me …

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Your morning jolt: Debate leaves Newt Gingrich moonstruck

Yes, the big hit that Mitt Romney leveled at Newt Gingrich in last night’s GOP presidential debate was about immigration.

But the ridicule of Gingrich’s dreams of establishing a permanent colony on the moon may have been a greater shock to the former U.S. House speaker’s image as a man of grandiose ideas:

From Romney, ridiculing Gingrich’s plan to privatize a lunar settlement: “I spent 25 years in business. If I had a business executive come to me and say they wanted to spend a few hundred billion dollars to put a colony on the moon, I’d say, ‘You’re fired.’”

The problem is that Gingrich points to John F. Kennedy’s vow in 1961 to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade as a mark of American optimism and its instinct for exploration.

But in truth, the race to the moon was a Cold War competition. We spent billions of dollars to beat the space-minded Soviets. That was the source of our political will — though we may now prefer to believe otherwise. The question that …

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Newt Gingrich on bringing a hose to a mud fight

Don’t look for a subdued Newt Gingrich in tonight’s debate on CNN.

Not long ago, during an interview with Gingrich, Neal Boortz on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB noted that he was “a bit flat” in Monday’s debate with Mitt Romney and the other GOP presidential candidates in Tampa. The former U.S. House speaker didn’t disagree.

Listen to the exchange, which also covered Fannie Mae and Ronald Reagan, by clicking here.

Said Gingrich:

”I think it was flat, in the sense that I was trying to stay very controlled, and [Romney] had a brand new debate coach …who had taught him that if you say five things in a row that are untrue, and get all of them in in 60 seconds, he probably won’t be able to answer them. And I was trying to think through how to cut through all that stuff. I think you’ll see me be my normal self tonight.

“But .. I don’t want to get down into a fight where you’re so much in the mud that the whole country is turned off. I’m trying to find a way to – in a sense – …

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FYI for tonight’s 19th GOP debate: Steel doesn’t sharpen steel

AJC file

AJC file

Tonight, from Florida, CNN will air the 19th debate of the Republican presidential candidates. Somebody, as they always do, will mutter a defense of the protracted contest.

“Steel sharpens steel,” they will say. But here’s the thing: It sounds good, but steel doesn’t sharpen steel — as any candidate chasing the blue-collar vote ought to know.

Jim Dillon is an cabinet-maker and writer who teaches the occasional class on tool-sharpening at Highland Hardware in Atlanta. He knows his stuff, and – at my request — sent this note last night:

When [Rick] Santorum, [Sarah] Palin et al. talk about “steel sharpening steel,” they seem to be referring to Proverbs 27:17: “Iron sharpeneth iron: so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”

The implication is that the longer the remaining Republican candidates butt heads or countenances in the primaries, the “sharper” the eventual nominee will become, possibly even to the point of becoming hatchet-faced.

I’m not an expert on …

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Brian Kemp to Barack Obama’s attorney: Skip ballot hearing ‘at your own peril’

Below is the full text of the letter from President Barack Obama’s attorney, Michael Jablonski of Atlanta, declaring that he will no longer participate in administrative court hearings on a challenge to Obama’s spot on Georgia’s presidential primary ballot.

In essence, Jablonski is putting the onus on Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican, to intervene and bring a halt to the circus. Jablonski includes a copy of Obama’s live birth certificate.

Click here to read Kemp’s reply to Jablonksi, which was also released this morning.It includes this line: “If you and your client choose to suspend your participation in the …proceedings, please understand that you do so at your own peril.”

Jablonski’s letter:

January 25, 2012

Hon. Brian P. Kemp

Georgia Secretary of State

214 State Capitol

Atlanta, Georgia 30334

Re: Georgia Presidential Preference Primary Hearings

Dear Secretary Kemp:

This is to advise you of serious problems that have developed in the conduct of the hearings …

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Barack Obama’s tarmac confrontation with Arizona’s governor

President Barack Obama’s tarmac confrontation with Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer,on hand to welcome him to her state, was one of those overlooked bits of news on Wednesday. From the Associated Press:

The two leaders could be seen engaged in an intense conversation at the base of Air Force One’s steps. Both could be seen smiling, but speaking at the same time.

Asked moments later what the conversation was about, Brewer, a Republican, said, “He was a little disturbed about my book.”

Brewer recently published a book, “Scorpions for Breakfast,” something of a memoir of her years growing up, and defends her signing of Arizona’s controversial law cracking down on illegal immigrants, which Obama opposes.

Obama was objecting to Brewer’s description of a meeting he and Brewer had at the White House, where she described Obama as lecturing her. In an interview in November Brewer described two tense meetings. The first took place before his commencement address at Arizona State University. “He …

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The $5 million check that saved Newt Gingrich

Call it the check that has already changed the course of a presidential campaign.

Three weeks ago, Newt Gingrich was in the midst of yet another near-death experience in his quest for the White House.

The former Georgia congressman had just received a drubbing in the Iowa caucuses. He was headed for another beat-down in the New Hampshire primary. The future looked bleak.

But in fact, Gingrich’s ticket to resurrection – and a victory in South Carolina — had already been punched, courtesy of a single, $5 million contribution from by Sheldon Adelson, a longtime underwriter of Gingrich’s causes and a Las Vegas casino mogul.

Adelson’s cash went to Winning Our Future, a “super” political action committee that has no formal connection to the presidential candidate. Except that a senior adviser to Winning Our Future is Gingrich’s longtime spokesman, Rick Tyler.

The super PAC spent $3.8 million prior to last Saturday’s vote in South Carolina, most of it on TV attacks aimed at GOP …

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