Category: News

Servicemen Who Died And Were Wounded In Chattanooga To Get Purple Heart

5 months ago yesterday, four Marines and one sailor died in an attack on military sites in Chattanooga.  Yesterday evening also yielded an official determination on the attack by the FBI: a “homegrown violent extremist.”  Meanwhile, the Navy announced that it would award the Purple Heart to the men who died as well as the hero who was wounded that day.  From The Chattanoogan:

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said, “Following an extensive investigation, the FBI and NCIS have determined that this attack was inspired by a foreign terrorist group, the final criteria required for the awarding of the Purple Heart to this sailor and these Marines.

“This determination allows the Department of the Navy to move forward immediately with the award of the Purple Heart to the families of the five heroes who were victims of this terrorist attack, as well as to the surviving hero.”

Life has gotten back to normal, but there are displays throughout the city that mark the memory of that tragic day.  We may have returned to our daily routines, but I don’t believe we will ever forget.


Obviously, the world is in shock over the attacks in Paris that, at last report, took at least 153 lives, according to CNN.

Georgia political leaders are responding:

Tonight’s attacks should remind everyone that the world continues to be a dangerous place. No matter what your political affiliation, tonight everyone should be #Praying4Paris.

Hutcheson Medical Center Ordered To Close

Hutcheson Medical Center in Fort Oglethorpe (Source: Hutcheson Medical Center)

The debt-laden Hutcheson Medical Center in Fort Oglethorpe, GA has finally been ordered to be shut down by Judge Paul Bonapfel.  His ruling came yesterday after the continued troubles of the hospital to make ends meet.  Chattanooga NBC affiliate WRCB talks about a report filed by court-appointed ombudsman Susan Goodman who looked into the skeleton crew operations at Hutcheson:

The report cites two abrupt layoffs since the end of August, resulting in the loss of 75 jobs and closures of the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU), operating and outpatient services, lung clinic and Chickamauga Family Practice.

Goodman’s report points out the hospital’s “inability to immediately pay” the workers it laid off, and notes the fact that no jobs at the senior leadership level were impacted.

According to The Chattanoogan, the closure of Hutcheson Medical Center will not affect the sale of its adjacent nursing home.  The assets of the hospital will be sold on December 3rd with a hearing following the sale on December 14th.

Congressman Tom Graves Co-Sponsors Legislation To Award Purple Heart To Victims of Chattanooga Terror Attack

Congressman Tom Graves (R-GA-14) issued this statement regarding his co-sponsorship of House Resolution 383 to award the 5 servicemen who were killed in the Chattanooga attack in July the Purple Heart:

“Any member of the Armed Forces who is killed or wounded serving our country deserves to be honored for their selfless service and sacrifice. The victims of the domestic terrorist attack in Chattanooga are no different. In that attack, five service members paid the ultimate price in defense of our country, and several others were wounded. These soldiers have earned the Purple Heart, and should be recognized accordingly.”

HR 383, initially sponsored by Congressman Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN-03) of Chattanooga, has picked up a number of bi-partisan co-sponsors.

Oxendine Opines On Pending Big Health Insurance Mergers

Former Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine isn’t a big fan of pending mergers in the health insurance sector.  Aetna announced plans to acquire Humana and Anthem said that it would be buying Cigna which would consolidate most healthcare coverage business into three major players: UnitedHealthcare, the new Aetna, and the new Anthem.

In an interview with Georgia Health News, Oxendine commented that the mergers would limit competition which, in the end, doesn’t benefit the consumer.

“Three is not competitive,’’ Oxendine told GHN last week in an interview. “My personal opinion is that it would be very bad for consumers.”

Oxendine says he believes commissioners in every state “should be extremely concerned”  about the two mergers. They should look at both deals in tandem, not separately, he added.

“Prices are already going up’’ under the Affordable Care Act, he said.

The article states that he has not talked to current Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens.  Oxendine has also been active in the healthcare arena since he has left office.  Recently, according to the article, he has filed suit against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia citing that the insurer has fraudulently been charging higher premiums while simultaneously cutting out-of-network benefit payments to medical providers.

H/T: Northwest Georgia News

US Senator Johnny Isakson Pays Tribute To Slain Georgia Marine

Senior US Senator Johnny Isakson paid tribute to Cobb County-native Lance Corporal Skip Wells, who was killed on July 16th during the attack of military sites in Chattanooga, by eulogizing the fallen Marine on the floor of the US Senate today:

Lance Corporal Wells was laid to rest today at the Georgia National Cemetery in Canton. May he rest in eternal peace.

The full text of Senator Isakson’s eulogy can be read below the fold:
Read more

New Fox poll: Trump No. 1, trouble for Hillary?

Donald Trump comes in first in a just-released Fox News poll, with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker a close second.

But the poll’s real story may be a sign of trouble for Hillary Clinton.

Clinton easily leads all Democratic contenders for the nomination, 59 percent compared to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders 19 percent. But 70 percent of voters overall said a candidate who is sometimes less than honest is a “deal breaker” for them; plus, 58 percent said Clinton’s natural instincts lean more toward “hiding the truth” and “telling the truth” (33 percent).

Democratic voters say her natural instincts lean toward “telling the truth” at 61 percent, but even among those voters, 29 say Clinton is more prone to “hiding the truth.”

You can download the entire poll here.

Here’s a look at how GOP candidates fared:

  • Donald Trump — 18 percent
  • Scott Walker — 15 percent
  • Jeb Bush — 14 percent

None of the other candidates reached double digits.

Here’s the exact question that was asked about Hillary Clinton in the poll. Tell us what you think.

Tragedy Strikes Chattanooga

IMG_0606-PANOToday has been a tough day for those of us who live in and around Chattanooga.  This morning, a gunman went to an Armed Forces recruitment center and opened fire and left the scene to do a similar deed at another military site a few miles away.  The search for the man ended in the early afternoon, and the reports of the aftermath started coming in.  When the dust settled, four Marines lost their lives and the gunman was killed.  One Marine and one Chattanooga Police officer were wounded and taken to a local hospital.

It’s one of those surreal times when you’re watching social media talk about events unfolding just a couple of miles down the road from you.  I know we’ve always talked about being more vigilant after attacks hitting the United States, but, admittedly, in the back of our minds we never would have thought an act of terrorism would have hit the Scenic City.

We have received words of sympathy and encouragement have been coming in all across our nation.  Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), who was Chattanooga’s mayor in the early 2000s, delivered remarks on the floor of the United States Senate about the tragic events that happened.  President Barack Obama offered condolences to the families of the Marines who had fallen in the line of duty and promised a thorough investigation.

Georgia’s congressional delegation also offered words of condolence.  Congressman Tom Graves (R-GA-14), whose district borders Chattanooga, offered this statement:

“My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the Marines who were killed in the horrific attack in Chattanooga today. These Marines perished while serving our country and I know that our community in Northwest Georgia is forever grateful for their sacrifice.”

Congressman Barry Loudermilk (R-GA-11) offered words of support:

“I am deeply saddened and enraged by the attacks on our U.S. servicemen in Chattanooga. My family and I are praying for the families of these brave Marines who lost their lives serving our nation. Initial intelligence reports indicate that ISIS may have been involved in this attack, and the Administration must act swiftly and decisively to protect our citizens and enact justice against those involved in carrying out this cowardly act of evil. An attack on any American is an attack on all of us, and we must remain vigilant in our fight to end this violence.”

Over the next weeks or months, we will learn more about the gunman, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, and we will learn if ISIS was behind this attack, but today and over the next few days, we will mourn and honor the four Marines who sacrificed themselves for their nation.

This man’s motivation may have been hatred towards us, but this will not hurt our resolve.  We refuse to let the evil act of this man, regardless if he was a “lone wolf” or acting on behalf of ISIS, cause us to fear a faceless entity.

Thank you for the thoughts and prayers for our community and for the families of these fallen Marines.  A deep, heartfelt appreciation and thank you goes to the Chattanooga Police Department and our United States Armed Services…..especially the United States Marine Corps.

It’s UGA vs. Tech in Brookhaven

Former Tech QB Taylor Bennett will meet Republican J. Max Davis — a former offensive lineman at UGA — in a runoff for House District 80.

The Brookhaven Post is reporting that the two will meet in an August 11th runoff for the seat vacated by Republican Mike Jacobs, now a DeKalb state court judge.

Republicans Catherine Bernard and Loren Collins came in third and fourth, respectively, in Tuesday’s special election. 


Bennett — whose campaign visibility throughout the district was dwarfed by Davis and Bernard — was surprisingly the top vote-getter on Tuesday, with 36 percent. Davis came in second, with 33 percent.

Bennett’s campaign seemingly came on strong in the final days before the election, as the Democrat received endorsements from such organizations as the Sierra Club, Georgia Association of Educators, Planned Parenthood and even former state senator Jason Carter.

Davis, Brookhaven’s first-ever mayor and arguably the highest profile candidate in the election, also had a hefty list of endorsements, most notably from the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and local political heavyweights such as state Sen. Fran Millar, Rep. Tom Taylor and three of the four members of the Brookhaven City Council.

Any contest fielding four candidates is most likely bound for a runoff, but Bennett’s first-place showing has to be considered somewhat of a political shock, given the district’s strong GOP leanings, along with some of its neighboring communities.

Another factor contributing to Davis’ second-place showing could be residual damage resulting from some unflattering charges made against him during the campaign, dating back to his tenure while mayor of Brookhaven.

In any event, if Bennett defeats Davis on August 11, it could signal a dramatic, political changing of the guard in an important metro Atlanta house district.

Fayette Commissioner Pota Coston Has Died

Word tonight from Fayette County Commissioner Steve Brown that Pota Coston, the first Democrat to be elected to that county’s Board of Commissioners, passed away following a bout with cancer. According to the Fayette Citizen, she had been moved to hospice on Wednesday.

Erick and I wrote about Commissioner David Barlow’s less than enthusiastic welcome to the commission following her November, 2014 election.

Prayers for the family. May she rest in peace.

Of Course, You Know This Means War!

You invade Fort Oglethorpe, we'll invade Chattanooga.
You invade Fort Oglethorpe, we’ll invade Chattanooga.  Tit-for-tat, right?

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam must feel awfully powerful being Chairman of the Republican Governors Association.  The Chattanooga Times-Free Press has an article about Governor Haslam’s seemingly quiet invasion of his fellow Republican Governor Nathan Deal’s state of Georgia:

On a listing of Tennessee historic sites, an icon located just below Chattanooga describes the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park’s headquarters as “Fort Oglethorpe, Tenn.

Maybe the move to annex Fort Oglethorpe represents a tit-for-tat effort on Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s part, an effort to punish uppity Georgia officials who have long disputed the two states’ border, especially as thirsty Atlanta and parts of North Georgia seek access to the Tennessee River.

To quote both Groucho Marx and Bugs Bunny: “Of course, you know this means war!”

It’s a “glitch” that apparently has been fixed with the State of Tennessee’s roll-out of their redesigned website.  Of course, this may only be a preemptive strike to hamper our efforts on getting our water back.  Either way, Tennessee should know that Georgia won’t go down without a fight.  Everyday, Georgia sends thousands of people to invade Tennessee…..of course, they come back home to Georgia only to return the following day, but it could be the next #Occupy movement.  Or something.  After all, Chattanooga, Georgia does have a nice ring to it.

Reporting from the Occupied Territory, over and out.

Kemp: SEC primary means road to White House runs through South

The so-called SEC primary now has six states holding their presidential primaries on March 1, 2016. is reporting that Arkansas is the latest state to join Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s effort to give the South a larger voice in choosing the Republican and Democratic White House candidates.

Arkansas joins Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Other Southern states holding primaries around the same time next year are Louisiana (March 5); Mississippi (likely March 8); Florida and Missouri (March 15); South Carolina (Feb. 20); and Kentucky (possibly May 17).

“It is now clear that the road to the White House runs through the South,” Kemp said in a statement.

The SEC primary has also spawned a website,, reportedly the work of young Alabama Republican Jordan Doufexis, and a companion Twitter feed, @SECPrimary, with almost 300 followers.

Travis Roberts lives again… Cancer Kicks formally launched

cancerkicksA year and a half ago I had the honor of introducing the Peach Pundit family to a man named Travis Lee Roberts. Since that time #travsarmy helped make the final months of Travis’ life and the months after his passing something incredibly special for Travis, his family, and his friends.

The outpouring of support to get Travis on GameDay in Athens was a campaign lead by Travis’ brother-in-law, Joe Pettit. What Joe accomplished with the help of #travsarmy was nothing short of heroic and showed the selflessness that we should all strive for. Now Joe has taken up another campaign for Travis, and he needs your help once again to help other individuals and their families in their fight against cancer.

“Travis founded Cancer Kicks to help thousands of families, who are not only fighting for the lives, but are struggling to pay their medical bills as well as to raise funds to assist world-class cancer research centers who are dedicated to providing research to finding a cure for Cholangiocarcinoma and other rare cancers that are currently underfunded,” said Joe Pettit, President of Cancer Kicks and Travis’ brother-in-Law.

While I am sure Joe would rather be taking his orders directly from Travis as to how Cancer Kicks should be run, I know that Joe will build the organization into something that makes Travis proud. Take some time today and visit the website and read about Travis’ story from those who know him best. While Travis’ body might not be among us, his legacy of hope and determination lives.

How you can help:

Website: CancerKicks
Twitter: @CancerKicks


HB 1 Signed Into Law: Cannabis Oil Now Legal For Medical Purposes In Georgia

Governor Nathan Deal signed HB 1, Haleigh’s Hope Act, into law this morning. The law is effective immediately. The legislative hurdle has been cleared, so now comes the challenge of setting up the framework for patients and doctors to apply for a permit to use the now-legal cannabis oil for treating eight disorders stipulated in the law. From the AJC:

It allows both children and adults as being eligible for treatment and requires that the oil contain no more than 5 percent THC, the high-inducing chemical associated with recreational marijuana use. It also legalizes clinical trials sought by some senators to further study how the drug works.

The state must now build a system from the ground up that allows patients and their doctors to apply for a permit to legally use the drug. And officials must navigate prickly legal questions in allowing the use of a federally banned drug, even as some families indicate they are more than willing to take that risk.

Georgia is staking out uncharted territory with the federal ban on cannabis still in effect. I understand that there are some medical professionals who express concerns over the long-term effects of cannabis oil in children. Hopefully, clinical trials will shed some light on the side effects of the oil now that the law is in-force and, if needed, adjustments to the treatment to avoid adverse effects of the treatment.

MRs: Sine Die coming, No RFRA hearing this morning, 2016 underway


Who is the ideal GOP candidate?
O’Malley rips Bush, Clinton
Fiorina expects to announce next month or May
Schumer gunning for Reid’s job
Boehner: White House response to Netanyahu “reprehensible”


What’s ahead before Sine Die?
House Judiciary committee won’t reconsider RFRA
Long-time CBS46 anchor may be out
Lawmakers thwart so-called “sneak attack” on annexation
Savannah schools fight governor’s bill
Who says 2016 hasn’t already started?
Former UGA player arrested in Alabama on domestic violence charges