Political Notes – Isakson backing away from vote for strike on Syria?

Sen. Johnny Isakson, considered to be one of the senators who might vote to authorize a military strike on Syria, doesn’t seem like such a sure thing anymore.

During a visit to Fort Gordon Thursday, Isakson told the Augusta Chronicle that the budget cuts prompted by sequestration and a possible government shutdown have created some “reservations” about voting to authorize President Obama’s use of military force in Syria:

“You cannot, on the one hand, as a congressional policy-maker talk about shutting down the government or not funding a continuing resolution, and on the same token talk about authorizing a strike that could cost $300 million in a matter of days . . . Our military has to have the capability of being funded to carry out the missions that they are given, and Congress cannot have it both ways.”

Isakson may also be seeing the poll numbers that show a growing number of Americans are not very supportive about the idea of an attack on Syria for using chemical weapons.

A poll conducted this for the Washington Post-ABC indicated that 59 percent were opposed to a launch of missile strikes against Syria while only 36 percent supported the idea.

The poll also showed that 70 percent opposed the idea of the U.S. supplying weapons to the Syrian rebels fighting against the Assad government.

Isakson’s senate colleague, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, resorted to an old Republican joke about the teleprompters used by politicians when they give speeches.

In an interview on Fox, Chambliss remarked that a “red line” comment made last year by Obama was caused by the president speaking without a teleprompter:

“Well, what it says to me is that the president gets lost when he doesn’t have a teleprompter in front of him, which he obviously didn’t last year.”

Georgia’s Republican House members are lining up against Obama on the issue.

“While I look forward to continuing this debate in the House, I cannot support the president’s request for authorization based on what we heard today,” said Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) after sitting in on a hearing where Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel testified about Syria.

“I agree that the reports out of Syria of the staggering death toll and the reported use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime are troubling,” Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Sharpsburg) said. “But that does not mean that the United States should intervene.”

Being a state legislator rather than a congressman, Rep. Scott Holcomb (D-Atlanta) won’t have a vote on the resolution to authorize a Syrian attack.

But Holcomb, who served as an Army captain in Iraq and Afghanistan, expressed some doubts in a CNN interview about whether the use of military force would accomplish anything useful:

“It’s incredibly difficult to actually match power to targets . . . One of the legacies of the Iraq war is a very healthy skepticism about that intelligence [about military targets].”

Pondering a return to politics

Former legislator Dan Ponder will try to make a return to political office on Nov. 5. He has qualified to run against Twynette Reynolds for mayor of Donalsonville.

Ponder, a businessman who is the publisher of the Donalsonville News, was a member of the Georgia House for six years in the late 1990s before deciding not to run again in 2000.

Shortly before the end of the 2000 legislative session, as the House was debating a controversial hate crimes bill, Ponder made a quietly emotional speech that urged his colleagues to set aside their feelings and animosities about race and vote for the measure.

“I believe that we must send a message to people that are filled with hate in this world, that Georgia has no room for hatred within its borders,” Ponder said. “It is a message that we can send to the people of this state, but it is also a message that you have to send to yourself. I ask you to look within yourself and do what you think is right.”

The bill, which had been in danger of not passing, was adopted by the House. Ponder’s powerful speech was considered to be a key factor in persuading some lawmakers to vote for the bill.

The speech gained national attention for Ponder, who was later given a Profile in Courage Award by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.

Olens says no to funding for anti-abortion group

Attorney General Sam Olens has told two members of the Public Service Commission to back off from their proposal to divert money collected by the regulatory agency to an anti-abortion organization.

PSC members Doug Everett and Tim Echols proposed that the telecom firm Peerless Network contribute $10,000 that it would have been fined for late filing of required reports to an anti-abortion group called Care Net, where Everett’s wife has done volunteer work.

But Dan Walsh, the assistant attorney general assigned to the PSC, and Olens both said such use of public funds would be improper and unconstitutional.

That opposition appears to have killed the idea.

© 2013 by The Georgia Report


Tags: anti-abortion , Doug Collins , Doug Everett , Johnny Isakson , Lynn Westmoreland , Sam Olens , Saxby Chambliss , Scott Holcomb , Syria , Tim Echols