Biden, mandates, socialists and GA Dems

As we near the Supreme Court’s ruling on “ObamaCare” it seems only fitting to include some crucial words from Joe Biden. The topic? Healthcare mandates of course.

Observe the following link: http://www.buzzfeed.com/andrewkaczynski/joe-biden-was-no-fan-of-the-individual-mandate

In 2008, during his legendary second campaign for President (by legendary, I mean that it went nowhere), then-Senator Joe Biden revealed that he was not too keen on the idea of an individual healthcare mandate. By video accounts of him actually speaking on the matter, he equated it to being framed as a “socialistic system”.

Now, I’m not going to get into the usage of the word “socialist” as it pertains to big government takeovers, record spending and three years of failed policies. Whatever. They’ve still failed, and I’ll stick with calling them failures.

In the case of the mandate, of course, I find it to be unconstitutional. Good to know Joe Biden once held similar sentiments.

Naturally, I’m sure he feels a bit differently on the topic now. However, as we all fall off the edge of our seats awaiting the SCOTUS’s ruling, it seems appropriate to receive some reassurance that at least the Vice President used to oppose a mandate.

Time for other news:

Nothing too out of the ordinary or unexpected, but never boring: bashing the Democratic Party of Georgia.

I already documented the fact that Mike Berlon, Chairman of the illustrious group, has proclaimed that they are “taking the fight to Republicans in ways they never expected”. By that, we can now accurately deduce the further absurdity of such a statement.

As documented last week, the party currently has $86,000 in the bank and slightly over $20,000 in debt. But the dire straits get worse:

May finance reports show the group notched $139,931 in total donations for the month, but that figure was deceptively inflated by a huge injection of federal receipts and the inclusion of qualifying fees from the state’s slate of Democratic Congressional hopefuls.

Reps. John Barrow, John Lewis, David Scott, Hank Johnson and Sanford Bishop as well as challengers Lesli Messinger, Daniel Grant, Lincoln Nunnally, Joseph Cooley, Courtney Dillard, Michael Johnson, Robert Monitgel, Steve Reilly, and Nathan Russo all ponied up $5,220 for ballot qualifying fees that were included in the party’s total reported haul.

Those receipts alone accounted for nearly 40 percent of the entire month’s take. The party merely serves as a conduit through which those federal fees pass, banking just half that that qualifying note.

The Georgia GOP currently has near a million on hand.

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Alabama Dems set new standard for taxpayer respect

Never underestimate the capacity of officeholders to talk out one side of their mouth and walk the other.

The Montgomery Advertiser brings fresh word of the high standards to which Alabama Democrats valued taxpayer dollars during their waning time in control of Alabama’s State Legislature.

And what did they use the dollars of a cash-strapped state towards?

Let’s see. The stuff that good government is made of: iPhones, a laptop that costs more than my rent, a shredder and a refrigerator.

Naturally, the stewards of good government decided to wait until their stranglehold on power had been broken to make their “midnight purchases”. (If you get the pun I’m making here, pat yourself on the back and call it a high-five from me.)

Of course, that’s not the end of the story. No, expecting the lawmakers to actually pay off these purchases, be it with taxpayer dollars or on their own (as it should be) is far too much to ask:

… the new administration in the Senate president pro tem’s office is still receiving past due bills that were not paid during the previous administration, including cellphone bills, and has received bills for insurance for some employees, for equipment and supplies, and for a variety of other costs that went unpaid.

Oh, yeah, several of those pesky iPhone(s) are missing in action. Clearly being used for the good of the people of Alabama, in all likelihood.

Disregarding the fact that he was always a center-right Democrat, no wonder Artur Davis, once dubbed by some as “Alabama’s Barack Obama” has switched parties.

Geez.

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Of Blue Dogs and John “Barra”

Late last week, for those of likeminded observance in leading thrilling Friday night lives, Roll Call brought us a bit about 4 endangered Democrats and their chances of survival come Election Day.

Among those in the group, incumbent Democrat, alleged “Blue Dog” and experienced globetrotter John “Barra”. “Barra”, of course, meaning “Barrow”, per the faux accent that emerges for rural Georgia television ads every two years.

Anyways, the facts of the case:

  • Pre-redistricting, Barrow’s last district gave 54% to President Obama in 2008, while Barrow himself was re-elected with 57% in 2010. However, the new district only gave 44% to Obama in 2008.
  • Four Republican hopefuls are currently duking it out for a shot at Barrow this fall. Though there will likely be a runoff, the NRCC has wasted no time in pouring money into television ads already, targeting Barrow during Masters week in Augusta with attempts at tying him to President Obama’s famed golf game.

For the purposes of this post, and your attention span, I won’t go rambling off into the details of the new district. We’ll just say it’s substantially different, more rural and, as mentioned, required Barrow moving for a third time, in less than a decade, to stay in the district he alleges to represent.

Moving on. There are many who would like to assume that Barrow is a dead duck sitting in the water, and no matter who the Republican nominee is, all that’s left is to pick up a the remnants of a political career while walking into a new office in the Rayburn building.

Make no mistake, there is blood in the water. No doubt in this writer’s mind.

But I’m not one to discount Barrow that easily. Continue reading

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Lighting a stogie for this one

…and enjoying every ironic second of it.

The AJC’s Jim Galloway brings us the following news:

U.S. Reps. Jack Kingston, R-Savannah; Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta; Sanford Bishop, D-Albany; Tom Graves, R-Ranger; Lynn Westmoreland, R-Coweta County; Austin Scott, R-Tifton; and John Barrow, D-Augusta, are all sponsors of H.R. 1639, also known as the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2011.

What exactly is the “Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2011”?

Besides the obvious, being that it’s the point of this post, it’s a measure that would end federal regulations on cigars “wrapped in leaf tobacco…no filter and…” weighing “at least six pounds per 1,000 units”. The bill currently retains 203 cosponsors, several Democrats amongst the ranks, including embattled Georgia Democrat John Barrow.

Now, the issue? The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a Washington D.C.-centric group, has taken a serious issue with the measure. Why? They allege that, under such exemption guidelines, Swisher Sweets and Phillies, gas station cigars that cost less than a pack of Double Bubble, would somehow be more open to minors for tobacco consumption.

Their press release further notes that these are “the most popular cigar brands among youth ages 12-17”.

Now, let’s clear the air on something: I’m not, and I know these Congressmen aren’t, advocating smoking tobacco, of any form, at that age.

But, I hate to break to it to groups such as these: exempting large and premium cigars from FDA regulations is not going to impact teen smoking one bit. That problem is found elsewhere, and found locally, not in the walls of headquarters in Washington D.C.

A long post for a simple, concise point? You should either be impressed, alarmed or agitated right now. Oh, and I hope the bill passes.

On the matter of Swisher Sweets, Phillies and flavored gas station “cigars”, the question posed by Atlanta’s Political Insider:

Who, aside from SpongeBob SquarePants, would want to be seen smoking a grape-flavored cigar?

With that, I return to the stogie lit in honor of this post.

More on John Barrow in the not-too distant future.

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“Is our children learning?”…on that age old question of education in Georgia

It’s rare that this site will ever be used to heap praise on anyone. I would say “on anyone other than me”, but…well, nevermind.

At any rate, in a speech late last week to the Vinings Bank, state School Superintendent John Barge took on Georgia’s conventional reputation as a spit tune of a state for public education, and outlined coming changes to high school structure, part of his plan to reduce Georgia’s traditionally high dropout rate.

Georgia is frequently derided as being the 48th worst state for public education in the nation, just a step above college football rivals who shall not be named. The basis? Numbers based solely off SAT scores that serve as easy-throwing bombs for talking heads who never walked through the door of a public school in Georgia.

Of course, here is where I, naturally, mention that 80 percent of Georgia’s students take the SAT test. This number runs in contrast to the “Top 10 states’, where the maximum sits at a whopping 9 percent.

Not to make the talking heads (not named me) look bad or anything, but there’s also that little nugget where, when Georgias top 5 percent of test takers are compared with the number one state in the nation, where only 5 percent of students take the standardized barometer, the average score is 195 points higher.

But we can’t defy traditional logic, right?

Barge mentioned all of this in his speech. But where did he begin? Oh, yeah. That’s right. With other studies that examine a much wider range of parameters for determining the quality of a state’s public education system, not just standardized test scores.

“Education Week” is a publication that uses a blistering 129 areas to determine the true quality of public education for a given state. Under such study, Georgia’s public education system ranks 7th, a whole 41 spots better than many would have you to believe.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am by no means saying that there couldn’t be improvement, and neither was Barge. But I, like anyone with a shred of common-sense (yes, I’m bestowing that title upon myself; it is my blog), appreciate an officeholder willing to tred beyond talking points and into the serious wonkiness of education policy.

Like I said, there could always be improvement. Superintendent Barge said the same thing himself. For my two cents, I can’t refrain from being of the mindset that the better end of the statistics are probably skewed towards metro-Atlanta, and away from the rural side of things. Continue reading

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GA Dems usher in “silly season” with an irrelevant bang

Screw bipartisanship; I’m here for the party (pun intended).

Now, before anyone goes and does the obvious, pointing out the inherent irrationality of bashing Democrats, in Georgia no less, while having your entire background set to Georgia Democratic lion Gene Talmadge, don’t. Instead, read what I have to say and agree with it.

The so-called “silly season” of American politics is, traditionally, defined as occuring under the heated (literally and figuratively) summer months before the boom is further lowered on campaign scrutiny in the fall. That’s about the only thing that Mike Berlon, Chairman of the Georgia Democratic Party, got right in a recent press release.

Don’t misunderestimate me, I get that political parties have to talk themselves up, and feign enthusiasm when the chips may still be down, but this is reaches new heights of absurdity. Take for instance, this blurb from Berlon’s “heavy-hearted work of staggering genius”:

Our Republican friends are taking the “silly season” to the next level this year. The attacks against our Party have been vicious and unfounded. Why?

Because they know that Georgia Democrats are undergoing a transformation. We are resurging in areas that they never anticipated, and frankly, they’re worried.

Berlon further states that Georgia Dems have “taken the fight to Georgia Republicans in a way that they never expected”.  Sentences earlier, he rambles about national prospects of a Georgia pickup in November:

On a national scale, President Obama has visited Georgia multiple times this year, including a future visit on June 19. His campaign organization, Obama for America, is opening a new headquarters in Atlanta this Saturday.

Taking the fight to Georgia Republicans in ways “never expected”, eh? So, what does that actually mean?

Is it the fact that, just this week, the Obama campaign announced that it would not be targeting Georgia with any level of intensity?

Or, wait, could it be that fewer Democrats qualified in Georgia than at any point since Reconstruction?

Not it. Actually, it has to be the continual hemorrhaging of rural Democrats, conservatives who have thrown aside centuries of tradition because Democrats have lost their way in Georgia, the South and all of America. Right?

Of course, all of these battles, clearly won by Democrats in Georgia, pay no heed to the fact that the party itself is mired with in-fighting and fundraising woes that would make me appear to be a credible candidate if I ran for office.

Hmm…killing us softly, Berlon. Keep going, you’ve clearly got us all on the ropes.

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Beating the drum

Much has changed in full-fledged year since I last posted the opinionated rantings of a budding politico. I hope you won’t hold the delay against yours truly, but absence does make the heart grow fonder, or so I’m told at least.

For what it’s worth, I’m going to make a conscience effort to, at least once, daily post my thoughts, observations and probably salty ramblings about political news: Georgia, regional, un-regional and national alike. All opinions are my own and they should be yours, too.

Fins up.

As a sidenote, if you haven’t checked out www.georgiatipsheet.com, you should.

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