Archive for July, 2009

Judge’s skeptics are wrong

Many Americans like Judge Sonia Sotomayor because she represents the quintessential American success story.

By dint of hard work, determination and sacrifice, she overcame poverty and personal tragedy to rise to the top of the legal profession.

If she is confirmed, as seems likely, she would become the first Latino and the first woman of color to serve on that storied bench. And, for many of us, her ancestry makes her rise all the more appealing.

Her parents left Puerto Rico during World War II; her mother, then Celina Baez, enlisted at 17 in the Women’s Army Corps. She raised her children alone after her husband died of heart ailments at the age of 42.

Her daughter’s accomplishments — as well as those of her son, Juan, a physician — reinforce our favorite national myth: in this country, anyone can succeed.

But that poignant tale hasn’t won over everyone. Though Sotomayor will likely win some Republican votes, there remain many conservatives who believe she represents the …

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Calls to fix traffic are familiar

The Atlanta region doesn’t often come in near the top of national rankings, but traffic congestion is something we do right. It’s no surprise that a recent survey ranked metro Atlanta gridlock as the third worst in the country. We’ve been among the top five for years.

The annual survey, conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute, was, as usual, followed by another annual ritual: the pledge from metro Atlanta business leaders to conquer traffic congestion.

“The CEOs are saying this has got to be fixed. We’ve got to have action and leadership,” Sam Williams, president of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, told AJC business columnist Henry Unger.

Haven’t we heard this before? Many times?

Williams is farsighted, thoughtful and well-meaning, but neither he nor the business leaders he represents have summoned the political power to get the Georgia General Assembly moving in the right direction.

In 2008, the chamber tried to win support for legislation that would have allowed metro …

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Obama’s next stop: Main St.

For the first time, President Obama’s overseas travel, with his photogenic family in tow, seemed jarring and discordant — out of touch with the everyday woes of constituents back home. As photographers flashed pictures of the first family abroad, analysts were poring over the depressing economic news of continuing job losses. Somehow, photos of the Obamas in resplendent, gold-bedecked palaces smacked of Marie Antoinette.

It’s not the president’s fault that the gathering of the G-8, the world’s biggest economies, was held overseas just as second-quarter economic reports revealed that unemployment in the U.S. had jumped to 9.5 percent. But, now that’s he’s back, it will be Obama’s failure if he doesn’t grab the microphone immediately to remind the nation that he has a plan to revive the economy and produce jobs.

As Republicans complain that the stimulus was never a good idea and nervous Democrats scramble for a response, it will take Obama’s soothing rhetoric to shore up jittery …

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Gov. Palin, welcome to the club

Not much was clear after Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s rambling and petulant press conference, least of all whether she was bidding farewell to politics. But this much was obvious: She’s angry that so many — TV comedians, feuding political consultants, unnamed media “sources” — have taken aim at her and her family. How dare they?

How, indeed? Where was the governor when conservatives spent eight years ripping Hillary Clinton to shreds, even making foul jokes about her young daughter? Where was she when the right-wing attack machine went after Michelle Obama, blasting her as angry, unpatriotic and anti-white? Indeed, didn’t Palin notice that the first woman to be named to a spot on a major party’s presidential ticket — Geraldine Ferraro — wasn’t exactly celebrated in a national lovefest?

Are women more likely to endure harsh personal attacks than men? You betcha. Are families immune? No way.

Surely, Alaska is close enough to the lower 48 that the governor has heard that the …

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No reason to fear detainees

Apparently, Congress has scribbled some footnotes to Emma Lazarus’ famous poem, engraved inside the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” But don’t bother sending anyone released from detention at Guantanamo Bay.

“Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

You’re sadly mistaken if you believe the United States has any responsibility for innocent men we unfairly rounded up and imprisoned, without trial, for years. We’re not taking them!

President Obama has learned he’s going to have a difficult time carrying out his campaign promise to close the detention facility, even though its ugly reputation has made U.S. efforts to fight terrorism more difficult. It needs to be shut down — pronto.

But Democrats in Congress have been cowed by Republicans, who have used the planned closing of the prison to paint the other party as — …

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