Archive for January, 2011

High time for criminal justice reform

Georgia faces a billion-dollar budget deficit. In response, the General Assembly must come up with measures to alleviate the burden placed on Peach State taxpayers. One of the areas ripe for reform – at least if we take seriously recent hints by Gov. Nathan Deal and House Speaker David Ralston – is the state’s criminal justice system. 

In discussing this problem recently with Walter Jones of the Morris News Service, Ralston stated that Georgians are “spending a huge amount of money locking people up that have drug problems.” He added, “At some point the people of Georgia have a right to ask if that’s an appropriate way to spend their tax dollars.” 

A few days later, the new Governor told legislators Georgia would not tolerate violent offenders, but that opportunities should be afforded to those “who want to change their lives.” He explained that emphasis should be placed on rehabilitation rather than incarceration, noting that addiction is a severe drain …

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Government database for cold remedies nearer

Plans to spy on Georgia consumers who purchase cold remedies containing pseudoephedrine and prescription drugs, are closer to becoming a reality. Legislation is expected to be filed shortly to set up a searchable database accessible to law enforcement agencies throughout the state. 

Rep. Tom Weldon of Ringgold who plans on filing the legislation in the Georgia House of Representatives, recently complained to a Dalton newspapers that, “[w]e don’t have a searchable database that sheriffs and law enforcement can go in and see who has been buying meth products and who has been buying an excessive amount of pills.” 

Weldon claims the legislature will be mindful of the privacy of law-abiding citizens, though he offers no details as to how this will be accomplished. Compiling a large database that essentially treats all users of prescription drugs and cold remedies as if they were criminals, is itself not a project respectful of the privacy of law-abiding citizens. …

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Another State-of-the-Union Yawn

A little bit of something for everybody; but a really big something for government.  This was the essential thrust of this 44th President’s second — and longest, state-of-the-union speech last night.  While Barack Obama did not include quite as lengthy a shopping list in his state of the union speech as did his Democratic predecessor, Bill Clinton, his list was long nonetheless.

Even though Obama paid lip service to regulatory reform, community-based education, tax reform, and reform of last year’s health care reform (among many other tid-bits), in virtually every instance, the ultimate solution to which he kept returning was more government spending and increased government prioritization.

If  ”clean energy technology” is the wave of the future, it’s because government will dictate it is so.

High-speed rail as a transportation mode of the future? — government will make it so.

Eliminate the billions in government monies now given to “oil companies?” — sure, but turn …

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Budget cutting with a British accent

As things settle into a routine for the new 112th Congress, with the House now under Republican control, the elephant in the room is whether the GOP will have the backbone to break with history, and begin to cut federal spending systemically.  Will the Republicans follow the modern US model – in which “cuts” are little more than decreases in increases – or the new model being implemented by David Cameron in the United Kingdom – across-the-board cuts.  Unfortunately for many of the tea partiers who had high hopes going into this new congressional season, the early signs point to the American model, not the British. 

When Nancy Pelosi assumed the post of Speaker of the House in 2007, she promised Americans there would be “no new deficit spending.” The next four years under her leadership, however, witnessed a spending spree of historic proportions.  The nation’s debt grew by an astonishing $5 trillion, and now stands at an astronomical $14 trillion – a …

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Presidential Mis-Quotes – Deliberate or Mistaken?

Is it any wonder many Americans do not know and are not learning of America’s history and civics, when the President of the United States, in a public address, demonstrates that he does not himself know what the official motto of the United States is?

It’s actually quite simple.  The motto of the United States is, “In God We Trust.”  It’s printed on our currency and appears on many of our coins.  Even if this fact had slipped the President’s mind as he was speaking last November to a crowd at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta, all he would have had to have done to refresh his memory would have been to pull out a dollar bill.  Of course, with the huge White House staff — including a multi-person research and speech-writing team — at his beck and call, one would expect that his staff would have noted the correct motto for his speech in the first place.

What is interesting, however, is that the President might have deliberately mis-cited the motto in order to …

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“Atlas Shrugged” comes to the movies

After decades in limbo, Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand’s magnum opus about an increasingly collectivist society and corrupt government that punishes the successful business person and industrialist, and thereby causing the world’s producers to go on strike – is finally headed to the Silver Screen. 

Rand’s work, published originally in 1957, and which has enjoyed steady sales ever since, has received increased attention in recent years due in large part to massive government bailouts, mounting government debt, and debates over increased taxes – all issues identified more than half a century ago by Rand as factors in the demise of America’s historic free enterprise system and the progress that accompanied it.  Signs with the phrase “Who is John Galt?” – a question appearing throughout Rand’s novel – has become a common theme at tea party rallies across the country as concerned Americans protested Big Government, as exemplified by last year’s federal health …

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Knee-Jerk gun control reaches new low

What is as predictable as a threatened snowstorm bringing Atlanta to a standstill?  Answer – gun control advocates taking advantage of every shooting incident as an excuse to further restrict Americans’ Second Amendment rights.  The recent shooting incident in Tucson, Arizona — involving a clearly deranged individual who shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a federal judge and several other innocent people – is no exception. 

Doctors had barely announced that Rep. Giffords had survived the shooting, than gun-control legislators in the nation’s capitol began trotting out their latest anti-gun schemes. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, Democrat of New York, was in the forefront of this effort.  Close behind Ms. McCarthy was her Empire State colleague, Republican Peter King.  While most anti-firearms proposals emanating from the Congress are simply ineffective or unworkable; King’s most recent proposal is utterly idiotic. 

In response to the Tucson shooting — in which the …

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Health care repeal vote postponed

Earlier this week, in an odd reaction to the shooting in Tucson last weekend, Speaker John Boehner cancelled all votes scheduled for the entire week.  That action postponed the healthcare repeal vote that had been scheduled this week.  In so doing, the Republicans deferred action on a key element of the platform on which many had been elected or reelected two months ago.  Presumably, the vote will be scheduled in the near future after the Republicans feel comfortable once again working.  

Taking the vote on whether to repeal the healthcare legislation passed last Spring and signed by President Barack Obama – often referred to as “ObamaCare” —  is fine; and it sends an important signal that the GOP majority in the House have not yet forgotten their campaign promises.  However, it will be a symbolic vote, insofar as the Republicans clearly lack a veto-override majority in the House, and do not yet enjoy sufficient numbers in the Senate to bring the matter to a …

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Taxes to go up for Georgians?

Within days of his inauguration in 2003, Gov. Sonny Perdue proposed a hefty tax hike on Georgians instead of pushing the legislature to make tough choices on spending. Unfortunately, his legacy could be yet another tax hike if the legislature passes recommendations proposed by the so-called “Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness for Georgians.” 

We all know the story, legislators are facing another budget shortfall – estimated to be just south of $2 billion. Unlike the previous two years, appropriators this year are not going to be able to rely on stimulus funds to soften the blow of declining tax revenues. And because of excessive spending during good years, budget cuts have been more difficult than they should have been. The long hangover spawned by free-wheeling spending during Georgia’s boom years continues to strengthen its hold on the Peach State. 

The proposal released last Friday by the “tax council” calls for eliminating many sales tax exemptions …

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Cyber-Retaliation a new government threat

For years, the federal government has been telling us it needs broad, new powers in order to protect us from cybersecurity threats.  Recent events, however, including the government’s response to the WikiLeaks challenge, suggest that among the serious cybersecurity threats we face may be retaliatory actions against private industry by the government itself. 

In this new era of cyber warfare, sophisticated tools developed by governments to attack and disable adversaries’ nuclear and other military programs, can just as easily be turned against civilian, non-military business or economic targets within its own borders or elsewhere.  And it is not clear whether the new, GOP-controlled Congress, loath to be blamed for placing limits on the government’s power to thwart what it sees as potential military threats, will step in and investigate this new phenomenon of cyber-retaliation. 

In the national security arena, development of aggressive, cyber-security tools has led to …

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