Archive for April, 2010

Arizona’s harsh immigration law will hurt the state

Like the other border states, Arizona has a crushing problem with illegal immigration that the interior states don’t have. I can understand why so many of its citizens want something done about illegal workers.

But the odious law signed last week by Ariz. Gov. Jan Brewer does absolutely nothing to control the flow of immigrants. Instead, the law is an invitation to racial profiling. This helps explain why:

In a nearby neighborhood, Ron White, 52, said he felt a sense of relief that something was finally being done about “the illegals” — whom he blames for ills like congregating on the streets, breaking into homes in his neighborhood, draining tax dollars and taking jobs from Americans.

“I sure hope it does have an effect,” Mr. White said of the new law as he packed his car with groceries. “I wouldn’t want to show proof of citizenship, but I also don’t feel it is racial profiling. You are going to look different if you are an alien, and cops know.”

You don’t …

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Wall Street regulations are utterly necessary

WASHINGTON — A few common human characteristics were shared by the Wall Street masters of the universe who packaged exotic financial instruments and the Main Street homeowners who purchased more house than they could afford: the insatiable lust for more, the need to impress, the desire for newer, shinier, bigger and ostensibly better. The consequences of allowing those common traits to metastasize across the economic landscape are in evidence in the current economy, edging back from the brink of collapse but still enfeebled by the housing bubble.

The homeowners who allowed their oversized dreams to swallow up their common sense are already paying for their mistakes with sullied credit and/or massive debt, anxiety and humiliation. From East Point to Alpharetta, from three-bedroom bungalows to six-bedroom mini-mansions, houses are in foreclosure and neighborhoods are gloomy with abandonment.

Last year, Georgia was among the ten states with the highest foreclosure rates, …

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Pentagon was right to withdraw Franklin Graham’s invitation to speak

I had the pleasure of sitting next to Billy Graham at a small luncheon once, years ago, and I genuinely enjoyed our table chit-chat. By then, I had come to admire and respect the man who did nothing to sully the term “tele-vangelist.”

His theological views represent a more traditional/conservative set of beliefs than I’m comfortable with; nevertheless, he gets the heart of real Christianity. He opposed segregation back in the 1960s. And he’s never been one to attack the religious beliefs of others.

His son, Franklin, unfortunately, is a different sort. His vehement attacks on Islam are the result of both ignorance and prejudice, betraying a narrowmindedness that only inflame tensions between Muslims and Christians.

As just one example, he has said:

We’re not attacking Islam but Islam has attacked us. The God of Islam is not the same God. He’s not the son of God of the Christian or Judeo-Christian faith. It’s a different God, and I believe it [Islam] is a very evil and …

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Banks complained about regulations in 1933, too

An excerpt from Obama’s speech to Wall Street today:

I read a report recently that I think fairly illustrates this point. It’s from Time Magazine. And I quote: “Through the great banking houses of Manhattan last week ran wild-eyed alarm. Big bankers stared at one another in anger and astonishment. A bill just passed … would rivet upon their institutions what they considered a monstrous system… Such a system, they felt, would not only rob them of their pride of profession but would reduce all U.S. banking to its lowest level.”

It was an effective rhetorical device because the quote comes from a Time magazine piece that ran in 1933. It was about the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which, if you keep much money in your savings account, you know insures your deposits, currently up to $200,000 for joint accounts. That way you can get your money, even if the bank fails.
Very few people today think of the FDIC as evil government-overreaching. But business executives always …

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GOP fringe: First they worried about microchips. Now they want birth certificates for presidential candidates

Just when I thought ultra-conservative Republicans couldn’t do more to consign themselves to the incredible fringe, a Georgia Republican has introduced a bill to force President Obama to “prove his citizenship” in order to get on Georgia’s ballot in 2012, according to my colleague Jim Galloway.

State Rep. Mark Hatfield (R-Waycross) has just introduced legislation that would require Barack Obama – should he run for re-election – to provide proof of his citizenship before being granted a spot on the 2012 Georgia presidential primary ballot.
The state of Hawaii, of course, has already declared the matter of Obama’s birth proven — and closed.

This is one of those nutty ideas — like banning the forcible implantation of
microchips
— that is making the rounds in rightwing political seminars. The Arizona House has already passed a similar bill, despite warnings against it from the Republican Secretary of State:

Ignoring warnings of illegality from their own secretary of …

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SEC’s suit against Goldman Sachs makes GOP hesitant to back Wall Street

A little more than a week ago, Mitch McConnell had whipped his caucus firmly into line, and all 41 Republican senators had signed a letter criticizing the Democrats’ financial reform proposal — indicating the GOP was likely to filibuster on the measure. McConnell said Democrats should start from scratch on Wall Street reform, the same tactic the GOP has used with health care reform.

But it 
now looks like the GOP is changing tactics. Bob Corker and Richard Shelby have told reporters that they are busy negotiating with Democrats to pass Wall Street reform. Could it be that the SEC’s lawsuit against Goldman Sachs, which is dominating the headlines and reminding Americans of Wall Street follies, has made the GOP skeptical about opposing Wall Street reform?

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee who’s been in financial reform talks with chairman Chris Dodd, tells TPMDC’s Brian Beutler that an agreement is close at hand.

“We’re very close …

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Obama’s poll numbers will go up when unemployment goes down

WASHINGTON — If the headlines and magazine covers are any indication, President Obama hit his stride with the recently-concluded nuclear summit, attended by 46 other world leaders. Coming on the heels of his historic health care reform legislation, the summit showcased a president growing comfortable with his bully pulpit, confident on the world stage and at ease with his peers — whether Germany’s Angela Merkel or China’s Hu Jintao.

Furthermore, according to a BBC World Service poll, Obama’s presidency has helped to improve attitudes toward the United States around the world. Forty percent of those polled viewed the U.S. favorably, up from a low of 28 percent in 2007.

But for all the accolades from foreign policy analysts over the summit — and despite the huge sighs of relief among Democrats over health care reform — Obama’s poll numbers are still sagging. According to a new Quinnipiac Poll, his approval rating has dropped to 44 percent, the lowest number since …

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Americans are misinformed about federal government spending

Next week, President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform will hold its first meeting:

The panel is supposed to make recommendations by Dec. 1 on ways to cut the annual deficit to 3 percent of Gross Domestic Product by 2015.
The deficit this year is expected to reach $1.5 trillion, or 10.3 percent of GDP, according to the CBO.
It’s expected to decrease slightly to $1.3 trillion next year, or 8.9 percent of GDP, and to 4 percent of GDP by 2014. But the CBO says it will start rising again after that under Obama’s proposed budget.

It has one of the nation’s most difficult political tasks. Most Americans support the concept of reining in government spending, but very few Americans support cuts in the programs that actually spend a lot of money. On top of that Americans are misinformed about government spending, according to a new Rasmussen poll:

Budget documents provided by the Obama administration show that in Fiscal Year 2009 50% of all federal …

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15 years after Timothy McVeigh’s bomb, Bill Clinton warns against demonizing the government

Today is the fifteenth anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, and former President Bill Clinton has an excellent essay in The NYT reminding Americans of the dangers that can ensue when political activists denounce the government and encourage (implicitly or explicitly) violence. The entire piece is well worth a read, especially in light of the growing tendency of some conservative activists to suggest violence against the government:

Finally, we should never forget what drove the bombers, and how they justified their actions to themselves. They took to the ultimate extreme an idea advocated in the months and years before the bombing by an increasingly vocal minority: the belief that the greatest threat to American freedom is our government, and that public servants do not protect our freedoms, but abuse them. On that April 19, the second anniversary of the assault of the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, deeply alienated and disconnected Americans decided murder was a …

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Will Nancy Pelosi have a brief tenure as “most powerful woman”?

Just last month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was in the midst of an extended victory lap — taking congratulations for the passage of health care legislation, getting credit for giving President Obama the courage to proceed with plans for a comprehensive bill and being called “the most powerful woman in American history,” (which probably accounts for some of the hysterical anti-Pelosi rhetoric.) Even before the bill passed, the Economist gave her that title:

Mrs Pelosi is arguably the most powerful woman in American history. There have been female governors, secretaries of state and Supreme Court justices, but only one female speaker. When she won the gavel, after the Democratic landslide of 2006, many saw it as a sign that the “marble ceiling” in American politics was cracking. Mrs Pelosi called it “a pivotal moment for all women”. But others saw it as depressing evidence of the lingering power of political dynasties. Mrs Pelosi’s family are not quite Democratic …

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