Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:
● Forty-seven House Democrats — including three vulnerable Georgians — broke ranks with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama to support extension of all the Bush-era tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of this year. The three Georgians — U.S. Reps. Jim Marshall of Macon, Sanford Bishop of Albany and John Barrow of Savannah — say they support extension for all, even for those who pay taxes on more than $250,000 per year. Yet when it came time to vote on whether to extend the cuts before adjourning last week or to push the vote off until after the election, only Marshall voted to keep the House in session. Had Barrow and Bishop voted the other way, the House would have remained in session to extend the tax cuts. The vote was 210-209 to adjourn without action.
● Announcement. There’ll be a called meeting of all men older than 60 at the McDonald’s on South Cobb Drive to discuss behaviors that make us all look foolish. Senior U.S. District Court Judge Jack T. Camp Jr., 67, will be the invited speaker.
● Democrats running statewide, including gubernatorial candidate Roy Barnes, are having trouble gaining traction. The reality is that Obama, Pelosi and Reid have nationalized all partisan races this year, including those for state legislatures. It matters who’s in key offices, as we saw here in March when Attorney General Thurbert Baker and state Senate Democrats as a bloc refused to join 19 other states in resisting Obamacare’s reach and mandates. Two months later Gov. Sonny Perdue bypassed them and assembled a special attorney general and deputies to join the challenge. Checking an over-reaching Congress and this administration are far more important than other concerns about government this year. This show could have six years to run.
● Georgia’s weatherization program had a $7 million annual budget — and suddenly under the pork-laden stimulus, the state gets $124.5 million, all to be spent by March 2012. If there was ever a program that calls for a performance audit, it’s this one. Government simply cannot shovel money out the door this rapidly and spend it efficiently and effectively.
● While federal money looks for a place to go, buying and demolishing homes in the Peachtree and Nancy creeks flood zone, as Atlanta intends to do, makes far more sense than the previous proposal of a couple of decades ago. That was to raise the flood-zone homes at public expense, putting some on stilts. Fortunately, not all dumb ideas are funded. Owners get 85 percent of pre-flood value — a great deal, considering the recent drop in real estate values.
● Former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel in farewell remarks praised the president as “the toughest leader any country could ask for in the toughest times any president has faced.” Lincoln and FDR included. These folks take words, strip them of meaning, and array them as the rhetorical version of a Potemkin village. They say things they wish were true — or wish you believed were true.
● The federal sting in Alabama that resulted in the arrest of 11 people, including four state senators — two Democrats, two Republicans — and three lobbyists, including Georgian Jay Walker, an aide to former House Speaker Glenn Richardson, is one of the reasons not to open that casino gambling/horse-racing can of worms in the Legislature. The 11 are accused of crimes related to efforts to pass gambling laws.
● One other warning, too, to young Republicans who are attempting to build quick-profit careers from brief associations with those in positions of power: Get careless or greedy and you’re going to jail. It happened when black people first came to power in Georgia and it will for Republicans, too.