Three Sides To Every Coin, Rep. Loudermilk Edition

As President Trump tries to distract the media kittens with a laser pointer aimed the leaks from the intelligence community, it’s important to keep a couple of facts in mind, and bring perspective on the debate. It’s not a question of the “leaks” story vs. the “Flynn” story -they’re both important stories, each deserving of their own public airing. Let’s look at the “leaks” story first. 

The deep state in Washington, DC, right now.

We all agree that government has to have some secrets -some things that are not publicly known, kept under wraps in order to keep the nation and its people safe.  Georgia’s Congressman Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville) supports this, and as a former Air Force intelligence officer, he has more than a little expertise in this regard. 

Rep. Loudermilk told the AJC “…that the more burning question was the fact that American intelligence officials were leaking information to the media.

The second-term lawmaker, who worked in intelligence for a portion of his eight-year stint in the Air Force, said the leakers should be “hunted down, fully investigated and sent to jail for a very, very long time.”

“This is very potentially a treasonous act within our intelligence community,” Loudermilk said in an interview Wednesday. “… These are the types of things that happen in Third World countries, in banana republics.”

As statements go, that’s pretty nuance-free, and I don’t think Rep. Loudermilk would be selected to serve as a juror should any of the leakers every face trial.  But 

Continue reading “Three Sides To Every Coin, Rep. Loudermilk Edition”

Disabled Americans Have 2nd Amendment Rights, Too

Georgia’s Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue have both voted to repeal a rule change from the Obama era requiring the Social Security Administration to search its records “…and report people receiving disability benefits or supplemental income payments and who had someone else managing their finances, deeming them a “mental defective…

In a statement, Sen. Isakson said, “I have long criticized the Department of Veterans Affairs for having a similar process that fails to respect veterans’ due-process rights, and I urge my colleagues to overturn this blanket restriction that effectively bans persons receiving disability benefits from purchasing firearms for no good reason.”

Before the week is out, you will hear a lot of melting down from the anti-gun left, essentially accusing the GOP of wanting crazy people to have guns. As that shriek-fest unfolds, we will miss out on a chance for genuine public debate on how to best restrict the rights of the mentally ill. But before we all agree that crazy people shouldn’t have guns, (and we do) we need to agree on what it is that makes someone crazy.

Seriously, this is NOT what anyone wants.

And before the accusations that this is something only the gun-nut fringe cares about, here’s what the ACLU had to say:  Continue reading “Disabled Americans Have 2nd Amendment Rights, Too”

Can Ceasar Mitchell Regain Trust?

If you had only one cent in your pocket but could double your money every day, you’d be a multimillionaire in a month, because little things add up to big things if you keep doing them.

The same principle applies to local politics, as Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell is proving. Fox5 Atlanta’s Dale Russell reports the State Ethics Commission has opened a case against Mitchell alleging he failed to report nearly $300,000 in campaign funds –roughly $250,000(ish) in expenses and some $34,000 in contributions. Continue reading “Can Ceasar Mitchell Regain Trust?”

Update on the free-for-all in GA-6

UPDATE #2: Comes word now that the first to officially qualify for CD6 is now former State Senator Judson Hill, who walked the fine line between confidence and humility with the following statement: “We have a short period of time to enact the changes needed to put our country back on the right course. As we work to repeal and replace Obamacare as soon as possible, I’m the conservative legislator in this race who has written and passed patient-centered healthcare reforms in Georgia to expand access and lower costs. No one can replace Secretary Price, but I’m prepared to pick up his mantle and continue work on this pressing issue that affects all Georgia families.”  Hill has also been endorsed by former Georgian Newt Gingrich and the Family Research Council. 

UPDATE #1:: Former State Senator Dan Moody says he’s in the race, running on the “acta non verba” platform. “This is an historic opportunity to deliver on tax cuts, job creation, repealing Obamacare and shrinking the massive size of the federal government. The time for talking is over and the time for doing has arrived,” Moody said in a statement. 

Let’s just call it Georgia’s 6th Congressional donnybrook for the time being. First out of the gate is Bob Gray, who skipped over the chance to make a “50 Shades of Bob Gray” pun in his opening ad, and opted for a slick compilation of stock video built around traditional American themes of greatness, swamp-draining, and the Statue of Liberty.

There’s this troubling sentence, most likely the victim of a vague pronoun reference: “I believe we need to send citizens to DC, not attorneys and not politicians who will be there for a short period of time and solve problems and then go home.” (At :13-:20)  Let’s make grammar great again. According to the campaign, The ad begins today and will air district-wide “…as the first installment of a six-figure cable buy.”

At the other end of the decisiveness spectrum is State Rep. Betty ‘Hamlet’ Price, who has been threatening to announce that she would make up her mind about a decision on whether or not she’d consider thinking about running for her husband’s former seat in Congress for the past several weeks. As of Saturday, however, she has given herself a 72-hour deadline to make a decision, so we might know something by tomorrow.

We will keep you posted as the donnybrook unfolds.

And It’s Off To The Race…

The upcoming special election to fill Tom Price’s now vacated 6th Congressional seat can now begin in earnest. The free-for-all has been scheduled. Governor Deal has issued the call for an election, and qualifying will be Monday, Feb. 13  through Wednesday, Feb. 15. The Special Election will be Tuesday, April 18, with the runoff scheduled for Tuesday, June 20.

The timing of the election and the sheer number of candidates make this campaign akin to a jungle primary, where the election is held only to winnow the field down to two. It’s highly likely that the ultimate winner won’t be decided until the runoff. Continue reading “And It’s Off To The Race…”

City of Atlanta, Rampant Speculation Edition

There’s a 1.3 million-page document dump scheduled today at Atlanta City Hall, and a second contractor has been charged with paying city officials to win city contracts, aka, bribery.

Charles P. Richards Jr., the owner of a Lithonia construction company, was led into federal court in handcuffs and leg irons to be arraigned in the widening federal probe of corruption in Atlanta’s government.  From 2010 to August 2015, Richards allegedly paid at least $185,000 in bribes to an unnamed person, believing some of the money would be given to city officials with influence over contract awards, prosecutors alleged.”

That money is connected to the nearly a million dollars in bribes E.R. Mitchell has already admitted he paid to unnamed city officials.

This is a federal investigation and as such, about as transparent a process as the selection of Popes. But generally, the bigger prizes in public corruption investigations are the public officials. So far we’ve seen charges filed only against businessmen, but people are starting to wonder how far this scandal is going to go. Lots of folks are walking on eggshells -but the conventional wisdom is that no elected officials are going to be caught up.

But you (and the Atlanta media) will soon have a million pages on which to base any speculation you’d like to offer up. Feel free to share it in the comments section below.

 

The Case for Tom Price, MD

Being the head of a federal agency is a different thing than having experience in what that agency is supposed to regulate or manage. It’s not a requirement, but it’s usually a good thing, and one reason why Rep. Tom Price (currently my congressman) should be confirmed as secretary of Health and Human Services -and hopefully without the drama and gamesmanship some of the other nominations have seen. An op-ed in the Washington Examiner points out that

It may come as surprise to most, but — if confirmed — Price would be only the third physician in the history of the United States government to serve in this distinguished role. The last doctor to oversee HHS was Dr. Louis Wade Sullivan, who served in the George H.W. Bush Administration.” 

It’s worth reading the whole thing, which makes the case for Price as very well qualified for secretary of HHS, not only as a physician, but also as chair of the Budget Committee in the House and a member of Ways and Means. His nomination has been held up and taken longer than the confirmation of President Obama’s two two nominations to that post combined. And there’s this:

Too often in Washington, it seems as if the individuals calling the shots on critical issues that have sweeping impact for Americans across the country are career politicians rather than experienced professionals or dedicated public servants. With Price, America gets both.

Pretty sure we know what the author meant to say, and pretty sure that it didn’t come out quite right.

 

Why We Never Seem To Get Anywhere On Education

With the howls from the Betsy DeVos confirmation still ringing, it’s worth wondering why education seems to be such a powerful, but intractable issue. Last year’s Opportunity School District was a well-intentioned reform aimed at fixing chronically failing schools that was defeated soundly after the educracy characterized it as a “state takeover.” School choice advocates have to avoid using the word “vouchers,” lest they be accused of “stealing” public money from teachers and students. We hear over and over again that Georgia’s public school systems are “chronically underfunded” even though education spending is roughly half of the state budget. When it comes to discussing education as public policy, we can’t even seem to agree on facts, let alone methodologies.

Kyle Wingfield’s column in the AJC takes note of a recent study by Ben Scafidi, a professor in economics at Kennesaw State who’s also a senior fellow at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. The study claims that Georgia is under-reporting the amount we spend per-pupil on public education, and that when adjusted for inflation, taxes spent on education

“…grew by 56 percent between 1988 and 2014 (the earliest and latest years for which he could find comparable data). And that’s largely after a sharp uptick in the 1980s, when the Quality Basic Education Act was passed.

Essentially we spend $11,031 per student -which is $2,011 more than the $9,020 we say we spend. The extra money has not gone to teacher salaries, however. “Adjusted for inflation, the average Georgia teacher in 2014 made $26 less per year than in 1988.

We can argue over the study (read the whole thing for yourself at this link) but can we agree on one thing? If it’s true that Georgia teachers are earning less today than they were when Ronald Reagan was President, can we all say that is a damnable shame for which we must hang our collective heads?  Continue reading “Why We Never Seem To Get Anywhere On Education”

DeVos Confirmed – Isakson Statement

There is much rending of the garments and gnashing of the teeth by liberals, teachers’ unions and educrats everywhere, as Betsy DeVos was confirmed by a vote of 51-50 to be the new Secretary of the Department of Education.

Senator Johnny Isakson was one of the 51, and issued the following:

“Last year, Congress worked hard to return control of education to parents and local school boards, and Mrs. DeVos has demonstrated her strong commitment to follow the intent of Congress as implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act continues,” said Isakson, a member of the Senate committee that oversees education. “I appreciate her commitment to parents’ roles in education and school choice, as well as her statement of strong support for ensuring that kids with special needs get a personalized education plan. I also pledge to work with Mrs. DeVos in her new position to ensure the rights of all students are looked after moving forward.”

 DeVos’ critics accused her of not having sufficient exposure to public schools, and being therefore “unqualified” to lead the DOE. But education blogger Amelia Hamilton took a different tack: 

If you think Betsy DeVos is going to destroy education in America, then we agree that the Department of Education has too much power.

 

A New Day In (and for) DeKalb County

DeKalb’s new District Attorney Sherry Boston isn’t going to prosecute former CEO Burrell Ellis for a third time, and this is a good thing. Mark Niesse has a pretty good summary in the AJC:

“A jury had found Ellis guilty in July 2015 of trying to shake down a contractor for campaign contributions, but the state’s highest court found he had been denied a fair trial. The charges of attempted extortion and perjury remained pending until Superior Court Judge Courtney Johnson on Monday granted Boston’s request to drop them.”

I believe it’s important to add a fact that I haven’t seen included in most media coverage of this story, and that is that Burrell Ellis was never accused of putting a single dime in his own pocket. He went after campaign donations aggressively, and probably left a few quid pro quo impressions hanging in the air. But there were also contractors who didn’t donate, but who still kept their contracts.

Boston (on whose campaign I worked) believed that Ellis had been overcharged and over-prosecuted, and said on the campaign trail that the expense of a third prosecution wouldn’t be justified. Her election, by a margin of 62%-38,% reflected a public mood that was pretty sick of scandal and wanted that chapter of our book closed.

Boston’s part of a vanguard of newly elected officials in DeKalb -new CEO Mike Thurmond, new Commissioners Steve Bradshaw and Gregory Adams, and new Solicitor-General Donna Coleman-Stribling. Shoot, there’s even a new probate court judge.

If personnel is policy, maybe we taxpayers in DeKalb county can start to expect some good things from our government. Fingers crossed.