Archive for May, 2010

Memorial Day: A time to honor and remember

On the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, 32-year-old John Finn lay in bed with his wife, Alice, not far from the Kaneohe Bay Naval Air Station near Pearl Harbor, where he served as chief ordnance man. He saw a plane flash by his bedroom window, then another one. And then he heard machine guns, and knew something was very wrong. He jumped out of bed and hurried to dress.

“Those goddamn Japs. I should have hated ‘em. The bastards screwed up my nooky on a Sunday morning,” Finn told an interviewer years later.

Finn rushed to the air station, arriving as a squadron of Japanese Zeros were strafing the flight line. With no antiaircraft guns deployed at the base, sailors were forced to try to defend themselves and the station with machine guns on the runway.

“As he stood out on the runway firing his .30 caliber, Finn was peppered by pieces of shrapnel as the diving planes strafed the concrete runways with 20 m cannon.

“I actually counted. I got shot in the left arm and shot in the left foot, …

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‘Top kill’ fails: BP abandons effort

I don’t know what to say about this. So I’ll let the Washington Post do it:

BP’s three-day effort to throttle the leaking gulf oil well with multiple blasts of heavy mud has failed. The attempted top kill of the well was abandoned late Saturday afternoon, leaving the huge Macondo field deep beneath the sea floor once again free to pump more than half a million gallons of crude a day into the gulf.

“I can say we tried. But what I can also say is this scares everybody, the fact that we can’t make this well stop flowing or haven’t succeeded in that so far,” BP chief operating officer Doug Suttles said in a late-day press conference.

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A jazzy Travelin’ Music kickoff to a holiday weekend

So I was thinking that it’s been a while since we kicked off  Friday’s Travelin’ Music segment with a jazz cut, and that it’d be nice to promote this weekend’s Atlanta Jazz Festival at Piedmont Park.  But weather looks like it might dampen things, so to speak, with scattered thunderstorms predicted.

So jazz, storms … you see where I’m headed here, right? What I love about this duet between the great guitarist Joe Pass and Miss Ella is the sense of rhythm that they share — it’s like you can hear the two of them dancing together, finding that swing beat and meshing on it beautifully.

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‘Let’s get fiscal, fiscal — let me hear your lobby talk’



Democrats and Republicans agree that we have to address the nation’s long-term fiscal stability. Beyond that point, though, there’s little common ground.

So let’s try to keep this discussion grounded in political reality. Does anybody SERIOUSLY believe that a problem this large can be addressed solely through spending cuts? Raise your hands out there if you believe that …

I do see a few hands raised out there. In fact, looking over to the right, I see quite a few. Well, you’re not taking the problem seriously then. You may claim to believe that this issue threatens the nation’s future, but your actions say otherwise. Forced to choose between fiscal insolvency and tax hikes, you are choosing fiscal insolvency, and to hell with the country.

In the real political world in which votes have to be cast and deals have to be made, you cannot do it solely through spending cuts. The numbers involved are much too large. You would have to go to where the money really …

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State lacks leaders with vision of ‘the next Georgia’

Once-backward Vietnam, a land of rice paddies and thatched huts, is building a 1,000-mile high-speed rail line from Hanoi south to Ho Chi Minh City.

Meanwhile, Georgia can’t muster the will to build an ordinary, 26-mile passenger line from Atlanta to Lovejoy, even though $87 million in federal money was set aside last century to build the project.

That’s because, for most of that decade, Georgia has been drifting aimlessly, without direction or leadership. And even with a wholesale change in statewide elections scheduled for this fall, that doesn’t seem likely to change. Our political leaders seem far more intent on ganging up on some immigrant college kid than in getting this state out of its doldrums.

That’s too bad. Every Georgian is a beneficiary of dreamers and doers who have dared to seize the initiative. Many of those leaders, from Robert Woodruff through Ted Turner and Billy Payne, have been entrepreneurs and leaders from the private sector. But leaders of …

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How Rand Paul’s libertarian streak ran afoul of history

Some of you may remember the famous Jesse Helms ad of 1990 in his race against Democrat Harvey Gantt, a black man. It featured a pair of white hands angrily crumpling up a letter, while the announcer explained that the man had just been informed that he didn’t get a job because a less qualified minority did. (The ad was written and produced by Alex Castellanos, now a regular on CNN).


Until this week, when I ran across the political flyer to the right from the 1964 campaign, I didn’t fully appreciate the rich political heritage behind the Helms ad, or why it drew such a strong reaction. In ‘64, in the wake of the signing of the Civil Rights Act by President Johnson, Barry Goldwater and his advisers had decided that their best chance was to play to white Southern resentment by pitting white against black on economic terms. (To be fair, it was an age-old tactic that southern Democrats had been using at the state and local levels for decades to keep themselves in power.)

The text …

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‘Top kill’ has halted flow of Gulf spill, USCG says

It’s still too early to celebrate, or even breathe a sigh of relief. But the attempted “top kill” of the Gulf oil spill may be working.

Reports the Los Angeles Times:

“Engineers have stopped the flow of oil and gas into the Gulf of Mexico from a gushing BP well, the federal government’s top oil spill commander, U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, said Thursday morning.

The “top kill” effort, launched Wednesday afternoon by industry and government engineers, has pumped enough drilling fluid to block all oil and gas from the well, Allen said. The pressure from the well is very low, but persists, he said.

[For the record ... an earlier version of this story termed the effort "successful." Officials clarified that neither government nor BP officials had declared the effort a success yet. They caution that only after the cementing is complete and the well is sealed can the top kill be called successful.]

If the flow of oil is indeed halted, hallelujah. But all that means is that a …

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Joe Sestak lets loose GOP impeachment fantasies

U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, the underdog who beat Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senate primary, says he turned down a nice job offer by the Obama administration that would have kept him from challenging Specter.

That news has Washington Republicans all up in arms, outraged at such blatantly criminal and unethical behavior at the highest levels of American government.

Well. Kinda sorta. They are at least going through the motions of pretending to believe it’s an outrage, including calling for appointment of a special prosecutor and uttering that magic word they do love so well: “Impeachable.”

It just sounds so juicy and full of promise, doesn’t it? “Impeachable.” Certain mouths begin to water at the prospect.

But it’s laughable, and Republicans in Washington know it. You can see it in their body language and hear it in their voices, even as they profess to be appalled. These are people who can look the camera in the eye and tell you with a straight face that the sun …

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Dow closes below 10,000 thanks to Euro crisis

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 9974.45, the first time since February that it’s been lower than 10,000. As the Wall Street Journal described it, the decline occurred as “investors’ worries about global growth resurfaced, overshadowing strong U.S. data”:

Traders said the market’s late slide was fueled in part by the euro’s decline as investors continue to wait for some sign that policy makers will take steps instead to reign in a potential spread of the euro zone’s debt crisis. The euro tumbled to $1.2193, compared to $1.2334 late Tuesday, in volatile trading dominated by market speculation about the additional fallout from the crisis….

The day’s reversal marked the third day in a row that the market has had a late-day move erasing the performance it had posted through most of the session. Traders say that even during rallies, buyers haven’t necessarily been motivated by strongly held conviction that the global economic rebound will last. As a result, they’ve been …

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CBO says stimulus a bigger success than expected

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reports that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, better known as the stimulus bill, has created millions of jobs and in fact has had an even bigger economic impact than expected.

According to the report:

“CBO estimates that in the first quarter of calendar year 2010, ARRA’s policies:

  • Raised the level of real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) by between 1.7 percent and 4.2 percent,
  • Lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.7 percentage points and 1.5 percentage points.
  • – Increased the number of people employed by between 1.2 million and 2.8 million, and
  • – Increased the number of full-time-equivalent jobs by 1.8 million to 4.1 million compared with what those amounts would have been otherwise.
  • In March 2009, the CBO predicted that as a result of the stimulus, employment today might be as much as 2.3 million than it would have been without the law. The updated report puts that number as high as 2.8 …

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