Senate Chicken Caucus Pecks Away at Restrictive Trade Practices

Not the mascot of the Chicken Caucus, mut modeled after Senator Claghorn, a Southern gentlemen.

Not the mascot of the Chicken Caucus, but modeled after Senator Claghorn, a Southern gentleman.

The U.S. Senate Chicken Caucus scored an eggciting victory this week as its co-chairman successfully sponsored an amendment to l’egg-islation passed by the Senate Finance Committee that will put pressure on South Africa to loosen its limits on American poultry imports. The underlying bill is the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which is a trade agreement between the United States and countries in Sub-Saharan African countries.

Members of the caucus cried fowl after South Africa began to impose anti-dumping duties on poultry products from the U.S., effectively banning American chicken imports. The amendment authorizes President Obama to put pressure on South Africa to remove the limits on poultry imports.

Senate Chicken Caucus co-chair Johnny Isakson clucked his approval of the legislation:

I am also glad this legislation contains provisions that would allow the U.S. Trade Representative to be responsive and flexible in its approach to addressing areas of concern by conducting out-of-cycle reviews and when necessary, having the authority to suspend, limit or withdraw benefits for any beneficiary country not in eligibility compliance. I believe passionately in AGOA’s value and support its long-term renewal, but I believe it unfair and inappropriate that the country that benefits from the law the most – South Africa – continues to maintain unreasonable tariffs on American poultry.

You didn’t know there was a Senate Chicken Caucus, much less that Senator Isakson was co-chair? Isakson and Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons founded the caucus in 2013. It has a mission to “educate other senators and staff about the history, contributions, challenges and opportunities facing the U.S. chicken industry.” There is also a Congressional Chicken Caucus, which was founded in 2012 by Georgia Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop and Republican Rep. Rick Crawford of Arkansas.

Poultry is an important industry in Georgia. According to a presentation from the University of Georgia, we produce more than $18 billion in poultry products annually, making poultry the largest segment of the Peach State’s agriculture industry. Some 100,000 people owe their employment to the poultry industry, and Georgia is the top producer of broilers in the United States.

via Peach Pundit – Georgia Politics.

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Posted in Congress, Economy, Federal Spending, Jobs/Employment, Politics, Republican Party | Leave a comment

Dear Jeb: Are You Taking Notes?

Despite one of the worst campaign rollouts in American political history, and the breathless optimism from conservative pundits about young, groundbreaking candidacies, one likely fact remains:

Next year’s presidential nominations are Hillary Clinton’s and Jeb Bush’s to lose.

Sure, there will be some excitement along the way. A dark horse like a Rand Paul will pull an upset somewhere no one saw coming, and there’ll be plenty of speculation on Fox News about 40-something Republican candidates who will draw Millennials to the polls.

But populist idealism aside, big-money candidates always win in the end. Politicians are packaged and sold just like any other consumer item, and the candidates who can bring in the bucks are the ones who make it to the finish line.

While Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have been making recent headlines, the Bush campaign has been awfully quiet. But a year from now, those campaigns will likely be running on fumes, while Bush continues building and fortifying a massive campaign war chest and an unmatched network of heavyweights built from his family’s political lineage.

There’s only one problem: All of the negative press being aimed at Mrs. Clinton right now is headed Bush’s way, and the former Florida governor had best be taking notes on how to handle — and how not to handle — the coming storm.

Peter Schweizer, author of “Clinton Cash,” is reportedly set to go after Bush next. Reports are that Schweizer’s book is set to publish this summer, and while the author has been going around saying that he’s found “some interesting things” in Bush’s financial history, no specifics have been mentioned.

To be sure, Mrs. Clinton is in a lot of trouble right now. Her campaign rollout has been ridiculed by a suddenly skeptical media as phony and contrived, not to mention not tipping the staff at Chipolte. Now comes a gusher of bad press about Schweizer’s book that practically accuses the former Secretary of State of treason by showing favoritism to foreign governments in exchange for contributions to the Clinton Foundation.

And that’s just today’s headlines. We’re sure to hear more about Benghazi and emails.

The only good news for Clinton’s campaign right now is that most voters are more interested in Bruce Jenner’s sex change than who’s running for president in an election more than a year away.

And that’s what the Clinton campaign is counting on. Better to get all of the bad stuff out of the way, early in a campaign, when no one is watching.

But depending on the timing of Schweizer’s next book, that may not be the case for Jeb Bush.

via Peach Pundit – Georgia Politics.

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About that sign

The Georgia Republican Party Convention is approaching like a freight train. Republicans statewide will gather in Athens to choose our leaders for the 2016 presidential election. We’ve been afforded two choices: John Padgett and Alex Johnson. A sign urging Republicans to vote for new leadership was recently erected in Athens to be seen by thousands. In case you’re curious, Advance the GOP is Alex Johnson’s campaign.

The sign from Improve the Georgia GOP H/T Political Insider


Chairman Padgett is tested. He navigated Georgia’s Republican Party through the midterm election. He oversaw the creation of several new county parties. Granted, Republicans have some serious complaints about his staff and his leadership style, but these issues will not jeopardize the GAGOP’s electoral success. On the other hand, we have Alex Johnson. He promises new leadership that will hold elected officials accountable for their votes. He has zero experience, no clear fundraising strategy, and lacks respect from seasoned activists.

Alex Johnson reignited a debate within Republican circles over the GOP’s job in “punishing” elected officials for voting against the party platform. Here’s the cold, hard truth: The Georgia GOP’s priority is to elect Republicans, not destroy them. The voters choose their favorite “flavor” during the primary. Alex Johnson represents a faction of the Republican Party that seeks to purify. Republicans who do not perfectly fit their libertarian-leaning–or “conservative” as they call it–values are simply not Republicans anymore. Instead of running candidates they deem acceptable, they are attempting to use the party structure to crush anyone they oppose. I should clarify that not every Johnson supporter shares the aforementioned mentality, but it’s the mentality I expect him to bring if elected.

What I hope to see in May besides detailed fundraising and 2016 strategies is what each candidate did to promote Republican candidates in 2014. What did Alex Johnson do to beat Nunn and Carter? Did he canvass? Did he make phone calls? Did he donate money? Did he place yard signs? Did he encourage grassroots to rally behind Perdue?

These are the questions delegates in Athens should ask Johnson before they cast their votes for Chairman

via Peach Pundit – Georgia Politics.

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Iran: ‘The Enemy’ Has Conceded to Our Nuclear Redlines

April 13, 2015 5:00 am

A senior Iranian military leader is claiming that the United States has conceded ground on a range of Iran’s so-called nuclear redlines just weeks after agreement between the two sides sparked debates and disagreements in Washington, D.C., and Tehran.

General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), referred to the United States as “the enemy” and said major ground has been given up by the Obama administration as negotiations continue through June.

“Some solutions have been found and it seems the Islamic Republic’s principles and red lines in technical aspects have been accepted on the side of the enemy,” Jafari was quoted as saying by the Iranian state-controlled Press TV.

Major disagreements remain between the two sides and could kill negotiations before a final deal is reached, he said.

“However, there are still ambiguities regarding the manner of sanctions removal, which should be clarified,” Jafari said, noting that this sticking point “could lead to disagreement too.”

The IRGC commander’s comments continue a war of words between the United States and Iran over what exactly was agreed to during the most recent round of negotiations in Lausanne, Switzerland.

While both sides initially hailed a framework agreement as a historic step toward a final deal, the pact broke down just hours after being signed.

Iran maintains that the United States has agreed to allow all nuclear sites to remain operational and that no military sites would be subject to inspections upon the signing of a final deal. The Islamic Republic also claims that economic sanctions on Tehran will be immediately lifted if a deal is struck.

However, the Obama administration disagrees with this description. It claims that Iran would stop most of its most contested nuclear work and that sanctions will only be lifted in a gradual manner.

Much of the disagreement revolves around a fact sheet issued by the White House immediately after the framework agreement was reached. Iran has described this document as a “lie” and said it in no way agreed to any of the conditions outlined.

Secretary of State John Kerry admitted that each side has put its own “spin” on the agreement during an interview Sunday on Face the Nation.

“I would remind you, we had this same dueling narratives, discrepancy, spin, whatever you want to call it with respect to the interim agreement,” Kerry said.

Kerry went on to claim that the Islamic Republic would uphold any deal that is struck.

“Iran has proven that it will join into an agreement and then live by the agreement, and so that is important as we come into the final two and a half months of negotiation,” he said.

Kerry, who will brief members of Congress about the deal on Monday and Tuesday, said critics of the Obama administration’s diplomacy with Iran should remain silent.

“I think people need to hold their fire, let us negotiate without interference, and be able to complete the job over the course of the next two and a half months,” he said.

Meanwhile, one of Iran’s top negotiators on Sunday urged the United States to show “goodwill” and to stop fighting against Iranian demands.

“The solutions have been specified in the Lausanne negotiations and we hope that the other side will not throw the wrench during the future negotiations, and rather pave the ground for reaching a comprehensive agreement by showing good will,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister and senior negotiator Majid Takht Ravanchi was quoted as saying by the Fars New Agency.

Critics of the framework deal said the ongoing debate over what was agreed upon shows the Iranians cannot be trusted to live up to any guarantees made in a final deal.

“It’s entirely possible that both sides are lying about what the Iranians were willing to concede, but that’s not the point,” said one senior official with a Jewish organization that is familiar with the negotiations and concerns on Capitol Hill. “If the Obama administration is actually truthful, then it means the Iranians are already backsliding on what they’ve agreed.”

“That’s not new, and in fact it’s how they always negotiate. They take what they can get and walk away,” the source added. “But that’s exactly why you don’t make deals with these guys. Instead we’re talking about letting them have billions of dollars in sanctions relief, which they’ll use to supercharge their terror and military campaigns, and waiting until they decide to walk away again.”

via Iran: ‘The Enemy’ Has Conceded to Our Nuclear Redlines | Washington Free Beacon.

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Posted in Agenda 21, Did you know?, Ethics/Values, Government Scandal, Islam, Office of the President, Politics, World View | Leave a comment

Keep Pickens Beautiful – April is Tire Amnesty Month

April 2015 will be a month to clean up and get rid of old tires in Pickens County, GA.

During the recent Board of Commissioner’s meeting a tire clean up program called Tire Amnesty was approved for Pickens County for the month of April. If you bring your old tires to the recycling center the county will take up to 4 tires per family at no charge. Chairman Jones estimated the cost to accept the tires at no charge during the month of April would be approximately three thousand dollars. The Pickens County recycling center is located at 3141 Camp Road, Jasper, Georgia 30143 Phone: 706-253-8871 or visit online Pickens County Recycling

While getting rid of old tires certainly helps the landscape appearance it also helps prevent possible problems. Disease carrying pests such rodents can inhabit tire piles. Mosquitoes can also breed in the stagnant water that collects inside tires. Several varieties of mosquitoes can carry deadly diseases, including encephalitis and dengue fever.

Tire fires also release thick black smoke and air pollutants, and ground and surface water pollution that can be harmful to human health and the environment. So if you have old tires you want to get rid of take advantage of the tire amnesty this month!

via Keep Pickens Beautiful – April is Tire Amnesty Month –

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Because They Are Delicious, and Proof That God Loves Us



“Why do so many people crave fried chicken and hot buttered biscuits for breakfast?”

That’s the question posed by the British in the most recent issue of The Economist (remember, it’s a newspaper).

“They Wish They Were in Dixie” runs the gamut from chicken biscuits, low (or no) property taxes, the Georgia Recovery School District plan, the influence of air conditioning, and God, to Georgia’s tax incentives for a certain European auto manufacturer.

It’s a good read, and – like so many conversations about the New South – finishes with Atlanta:

Atlanta exemplifies both the virtues and the failings of the South. Its 5.5m residents live near the world’s busiest airport. Several local firms are world-class: Delta Air Lines, Coca-Cola, UPS. The city also has more black businesses and millionaires than any other in America. Rap stars such as Ludacris and Drake have made its nightlife famous.

On the minus side, it is still racially divided. Traditionally black neighbourhoods, such as the Old Fourth Ward (where Martin Luther King once lived) are slowly growing more mixed, as yuppies move in. But parts of Atlanta are almost 100% African-American, and Buckhead, a wealthy area, is 79% white.

Atlanta is also America’s most unequal city, according to the Brookings Institution, a think-tank. Households at the 95th percentile make 19 times as much money as those at the 20th. This gap correlates with race: black families in Atlanta are almost three times as likely to be poor as white ones. And Atlantans are not very socially mobile. Those born into the poorest quintile have only a 4.5% chance of making it to the top quintile. By comparison, those born at the bottom in San Jose, California have a 12.9% chance of working all the way up, much like babies born into similar circumstances in Canada or Denmark.

Poor public transport makes it harder for Atlanta’s citizens to find new jobs. Commuting by car is a pain: citizens spend, on average, 50 hours a year sitting in traffic jams. And between 2000 and 2012 the number of jobs within an easy commuting distance of home dropped by 14.8% according to Brookings, compared with 7% across the nation.

A teacher at a black high school near Atlanta’s airport says her pupils never treat her differently for being white. Her youth has attracted more attention: one cheeky pupil once called her “a stupid-ass little girl”. Some of her pupils lack motivation, she frets. Yet the only way to overcome the racism they will encounter in the outside world, she argues, is “to stop fulfilling stereotypes and get an education.”

via Because They Are Delicious, and Proof That God Loves Us – Peach Pundit — Peach Pundit.

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At Emory Univ., Undocumented Students Become Eligible for Financial Aid-YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK!

Decatur’s Emory University will begin offering financial aid to some undocumented immigrants who qualify for President Obama’ Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, according to a story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Although the size and scope of the measure is still unknown, it marks a milestone for the young adults known as “Dreamers,” who were brought to the United States as children by their parents.

Supporters of Emory’s decision say Georgia’s efforts to restrict access to its state universities are self-defeating. They point out that state taxpayers have invested in students such as [Uruguay native and Berkmar High School graduate Valentina] Garcia by giving them a public school education. They also say such students could contribute more to Georgia’s economy if they were able to attend colleges here.

Shawn Hanley, the vice chairman of Georgia’s Immigration Enforcement Review Board, said he doesn’t agree with Emory’s decision and wants to learn more about what it intends to do. Noting Emory is a private institution, Hanley said he is particularly concerned about granting immigrants without legal status access to taxpayer-supported universities.…

“This gives us hope,” said Garcia, who joined a coalition of Emory students and others in pushing for the change at the university. “This is an amazing win for the undocumented student movement.”

The issue is a sensitive one for the almost 20,000 Georgia residents eligible for the DACA program. The Board of Regents does not allow them to pay in-state tuition, nor does it allow undocumented students to attend a state university where demand for enrollment by residents exceeds the supply of slots available. That policy applies to the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgia State, and two other universities.

A lawsuit filed last year in Fulton County Superior Court sought to allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition The 39 students who filed the suit lost in the Superior and Appeals courts because the Board of Regents was held to have sovereign immunity against suits of this type. The issue is now before the Georgia Supreme Court.

Meanwhile a legislative fix to the problem in the form of Senate Bill 44, sponsored by Democrat Nan Orrock, got a hearing by the Senate Higher Education Committee. The bill would extend in-state tuition to immigrants qualifying for the DACA program. Chairman Fran Millar refused to allow a vote on the measure, however, because of the pending litigation.

At the moment, the Board of Regents indicates it won’t change its policies based on Emory’s decision. Down the road, however, could the Emory move, a resolution of the Dreamers’ lawsuit, or more cases like this lead to a change in the way the state deals with undocumented students?

via Peach Pundit – Georgia Politics.

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Posted in Amnesty, Budget/Finances, Class Warfare, Education, Federal Spending, Government Scandal, Immigration, Politics, State & Local Issues, Taxes | Leave a comment

Health Legislation Winners & Losers

Here is a list of the winners and losers from the 2015 Georgia Legislative Session per Georgia Health News.


Children’s health

Primary care doctors and ob/gyns

The hospital industry

Child safety

Older Georgians


People with chronic health conditions


Cancer Treatment Centers of America

School bus drivers, school cafeteria workers and school systems

Uninsured Georgians

Tobacco opponents

Health insurers

Personally, I believe that the medical cannabis was a huge win. Seeing those families at the Capitol and hearing their stories was absolutely heart breaking. I was really glad to see them finally get a win.

As far as the losers, I don’t know much about the CTCA situation, but never want to hear of anyone being turned away for cancer treatment. We will see what the 2016 Session holds.

via Peach Pundit – Georgia Politics.

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Involuntary Servitude

My liberal friends, all three of them, are up in arms over the Indiana RFRA controversy. As usual, their views on the issue are driven by emotion, not reason. That is because liberalism is not really a political philosophy. It is a stage of arrested emotional development. Since the Indiana RFRA controversy revolves around their core religion, which is the so-called gay rights movement, their emotionally laden “political” observations are not likely to subside in the near future.

Until then, it helps to understand what the current crisis in Indiana is really all about. Hint: It’s the same thing we were arguing about in the War Between the States. It’s also the very thing we were debating in the 1960s civil rights movement. It’s a thing called involuntary servitude.

If you are unsure of where you stand on the RFRA controversy, please allow me to share a story that will help clarify the issue. At the end of the story, I’m going to ask you a very simple question. If your answer to that question is “yes” then you are opposed to the Indiana RFRA law. If your answer to that question is “no,” then you support it.

A few years ago, I declined a wedding invitation from a friend. His wife is an alcoholic and he joked about how she would probably stumble her way down the aisle adding that he hoped she wouldn’t fall on the way to the front of the church. I decided I didn’t want to be a part of a ceremony that would mock the institution of marriage. Now imagine I were still playing guitar at weddings for a living – as I once did before I took a pay cut and became a professor. Would anyone seriously assert that I should be forced to play at the wedding I would not even want to attend?

Once again, if your answer to that question is “yes” then you are opposed to the Indiana RFRA law. If your answer to that question is “no,” then you support it.

Some may argue that the thought experiment isn’t relevant because homosexuals and stumbling drunks aren’t the same thing – only the former are part of a protected class. Newsflash: homosexuality is not the same thing as blackness. You can’t work your way into a legitimate protected class through self-destructive behavior. Next thing you know stumbling drunks will be arguing the same thing – and citing the genetic predisposition to alcoholism to bolster their claim!

All of this nonsense about protected classes is utterly beside the point. One would never argue that a black baker should have to serve food at a Klan rally. Learning that a few of the Klansmen were not ordinary whites – but also homosexuals – would not change the equation one iota. The issue is still involuntary servitude.

Some have expressed a concern that the new Indiana law and others like it might be used to justify blatant forms of discrimination. Perhaps a truly homophobic restaurant owner would refuse to serve gays – just like racist restaurant owners used to refuse service to blacks.

I really wish that were the case. Truly homophobic restaurant owners should be able to refuse to serve gays. Just like racist restaurant owners should be able to refuse service to blacks. Should such problems arise, the solution would not be laws to prosecute the bigots. It would be a free press to run them out of business. (Isn’t it ironic that today’s press falsely reports about RFRA and then cheers on bigots who attempt to run people out of business?)

Government imposed tolerance merely masks true bigotry. Sunlight, in the form of freedom of speech, is the only effective disinfectant. One hundred years ago, true progressives like Louis Brandeis understood that. Now, most people who call themselves “progressive” would be more aptly named regressive.

But the Democrat Party has never really been a progressive party. In the final analysis, little has changed in the last 200 years. Republicans are simply trying to end slavery while Democrats are tying to impose it.

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GOP Split Over Religious Freedom Debate Could Be Factor in GA Next Year

For a second year in a row, efforts to pass a Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Georgia failed, in part due to related events going on in other states. In 2014, Josh McKoon’s Senate Bill 377 failed to make it past the Senate Rules Committee after Arizona governor Jan Brewer vetoed a bill that would have extended that state’s RFRA to allow businesses the ability to deny service to LGBT customers because of the owners’ religious faith. This year, the spotlight was on Indiana and Arkansas, where threats of boycotts following the passage of their state RFRAs led them to include language prohibiting discrimination. Meanwhile, Georgia’s Senate Bill 129 failed to advance from the House Judiciary Committee because members couldn’t agree on anti-discriminatory language.

Senator McKoon, along with the bill’s sponsor in the House, Rep. Sam Teasley, have vowed to bring the measure back when the legislature reconvenes in January, 2016. The question is whether it will be met with the same levels of support and resistance than as it was this year and last.

The effort to pass religious freedom bills has opened up a divide between the Republican Party’s social conservative wing and its more business oriented wing. A front page analysis in last Thursday’s New York Times shows the concerns of each side:

The tug of war between social and business-minded conservatives has been long simmering, and surfaced even when President Bush sought to privatize Social Security and some social conservatives feared the move would drive women into the work force.

“There has always been this tension,” said Michael D. Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, a conservative think tank, “both in terms of tactics, because the economic conservatives wanted to talk about taxes and the economy, and on the electoral strategy,” because those social issues often alienated suburban moderates and cost Republicans elections, he said.

“There is no doubt that the continued opposition of gay rights is an electoral loser,” he added. “Younger Republicans are as pro-life as older Republicans, but gay rights is a huge generational shift and Republicans are going to have to find a way to deal with that issue.”

The Wall Street Journal approaches the same issue, with a story headlined, “Evangelicals Incensed by Business Push Against ‘Religious-Freedom’ Bills.” The story quotes Timothy Head of the Faith & Freedom Coalition as saying, “If the Republican Party and its candidates expect evangelicals, faithful Catholics, and other people of faith to turn out to the polls in large numbers in 2016, they better show more political courage, skill, and moral clarity on one of the most important issues of our time.” Both the Times and the WSJ stories describe the challenge candidates for the 2016 presidential race will have walking the tightrope between the two sides.

A March Wall Street Journal poll showed 59% of Americans support gay marriage, up from 52% in a Pew Research poll taken last September. However, levels of support vary by region and political ideology. In the Pew poll, only 29% of conservatives and 44% of southerners are in favor of same-sex unions. In addition, 38% of Georgians identify as evangelical protestants, according to Pew Research, much higher than the national average of 26%.

As Jim Galloway points out in his column from last Thursday, the political influence of evangelicals, especially Southern Baptists, is strong in Georgia. He also points out three important dates: Georgia’s GOP State Convention on May 15th and 16th, where as many as 5,000 people could hear pitches from presidential candidates, the last week in June, when the Supreme Court could make same sex marriage legal throughout the country, and March 1st 2016, the Peach State’s presidential primary date, and a time when the 2016 session of the Georgia legislature will be in full swing.

What happens at those three events, plus newfound interest by Governor Deal’s office in guiding the debate could determine whether the third time is the charm for McKoon and Teasley.

via Peach Pundit – Georgia Politics.

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