Archive for July, 2010

ADL abandons its principles, surrenders its cause

The Anti-Defamation League calls itself “the nation’s premier civil rights/human relations agency,” proclaiming in its mission statement that “its ultimate purpose is to secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike and to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens.”

A group deserving of such a description could never have put out a statement like this:

We regard freedom of religion as a cornerstone of the American democracy, and that freedom must include the right of all Americans – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and other faiths – to build community centers and houses of worship.

We categorically reject appeals to bigotry on the basis of religion, and condemn those whose opposition to this proposed Islamic Center is a manifestation of such bigotry.

However, there are understandably strong passions and keen sensitivities surrounding the World Trade Center site. We are ever mindful of the tragedy which …

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On tonight’s Travelin’ Music, the only Beck worth a listen

Rolling Stone magazine lists Jeff Beck as No. 14 on its list of Top 100 “guitar gods” (Top Five: Jimi Hendrix, Duane Allman, B.B. King, the unknown guy playing with Beck on this song and of course Robert Johnson). And I don’t think that placement is really worth debating — being included at all on a list like that ought to be enough.

One of the prerequisites for inclusion into the guitar pantheon is the development of a signature sound that immediately identifies you. This song, “‘Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers,” displays the plaintive Beck sound very well. I love the way he lets you hear both sides of the final conversation, without a word being said.

Enjoy the weekend folks.

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We are tinkering with our planet’s basic life support systems

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I fully understand that by posting this, I will again provoke all of those who are emotionally and politically invested in denying global warming to assume the position.

We all know what the position is: Eyes squeezed shut, forefingers inserted firmly into ears, loudly chanting the slogans they’ve been taught to chant so that no portion of actual scientific knowledge is allowed to penetrate.

But let’s take a look anyway, because it’s our planet, and it’s important, and I have children, and I’m not going to give up hope that we may yet summon the decency, courage and wisdom to at least try to mitigate the worst impacts of what we are doing to ourselves.

The above chart comes from “The State of the Climate: 2009,” a report compiled by more than 300 scientists worldwide under the auspices of our own National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. As the report notes, it is the product not of computer models but of observed data.

As the chart demonstrates, global climate has …

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Judge seems startled at lack of progress in water-war talks

On July 17, 2009, U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson gave Georgia three years to reach agreement with its neighbors or lose access to Lake Lanier as a source of drinking water.

It is now more than a year later — less than two years from the deadline — and no progress of any sort is discernible. Sure, Gov. Sonny Perdue continues to talk a good game in public, expressing optimism that he can still cut a deal before the end of the year, when he and his counterparts in Alabama and Florida leave office.

But the days fly by, and nothing happens.

In fact, you have to wonder whether Magnuson himself is getting nervous. He may have been right in 2009 about the law: Congress probably never did explicitly approve the use of Lake Lanier, a federal project, as a water supply for metro Atlanta. But when he issued his deadline, I don’t think Magnuson ever imagined that state and federal officials might stand by and actually force him to carry it out.

Of course, that’s not going to happen. As …

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When gov’t and business align, both become more powerful at the citizens’ expense

The full implications of the Citizens United ruling that corporations and unions are people, and thus have a free-speech right to spend as much of their enormous resources as they wish to influence elections, are only gradually coming into focus.

But here’s a good place to start:

Roger Nicholson, senior vice president and general counsel at International Coal Group, recently sent a letter around to other major coal companies proposing that they create a new campaign-finance entity that would allow them to spend millions of dollars defeating candidates they don’t like. Even better, thanks to the successful filibuster against the so-called DISCLOSE Act, their expenditures wouldn’t have to be publicly disclosed until they file their tax returns next year, long after the election is over.

The Lexington Herald Leader has obtained a copy of Nicholson’s letter.

“With the recent Supreme Court ruling, we are in a position to be able to take corporate positions that were not …

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Obama administration overreaches in demand for personal data

This effort ought to be stopped dead in its tracks. The answer should be “NO,” “hell no,” or “No, and don’t you dare ask for it again”:

From The Washington Post:

The Obama administration is seeking to make it easier for the FBI to compel companies to turn over records of an individual’s Internet activity without a court order if agents deem the information relevant to a terrorism or intelligence investigation.

The administration wants to add just four words — “electronic communication transactional records” — to a list of items that the law says the FBI may demand without a judge’s approval. Government lawyers say this category of information includes the addresses to which an Internet user sends e-mail; the times and dates e-mail was sent and received; and possibly a user’s browser history. It does not include, the lawyers hasten to point out, the “content” of e-mail or other Internet communication.

But what officials portray as a technical clarification designed to remedy a …

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Judge blocks key portions of Arizona’s controversial immigration law

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton has halted enforcement of critical portions of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, ruling that “the United States is likely to succeed on the merits” of its claim that federal law pre-empts those provisions.

As CNN reports, Bolton’s ruling bars enforcement of a provision that “requires police to ‘make a reasonable attempt to determine the immigration status of a person stopped, detained or arrested’ if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person is in the United States illegally….She also blocked provisions of the law making it a crime to fail to apply for or carry alien registration papers or ‘for an unauthorized alien to solicit, apply for, or perform work,’ and a provision ‘authorizing the warrantless arrest of a person’ if there is reason to believe that person might be subject to deportation.”

After reading Bolton’s opinion, I’d say she makes a strong argument. Driven by populist appeals to public anger, Arizona …

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Newt Gingrich has become, frankly, a hate-mongering bigot

Newt Gingrich went on Fox last night to peddle more of his hateful, vile garbage regarding the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque,” which is not at ground zero and is not a major mosque, but an Islamic community center.

“The idea of a 13-story building set up by a group many of whom, frankly, are very hostile to our civilization — and I’m talking now about the people who organized this, many of whom are apologists for sharia, which is a form of law that I think we cannot allow in this country, period,” Gingrich said.

Once again, my longstanding Gingrich Rule proves valid. Whenever the man utters the word “frankly,” what follows is almost always the opposite of frank speech. It is instead absolute baloney. In this case, he alleges that many of the people involved in the proposal to build the Islamic center “frankly, are very hostile to our civilization.”

That’s a serious charge, and neither Gingrich nor anyone else has provided any evidence whatsoever that it is true. With …

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Reality therapy can be harsh for those with repressed memory

I know I’m not supposed to do this.

Modern economic history is now said to begin on Jan. 20, 2009, the day that Barack Obama took the oath of office as president, and nothing that occurred prior to that date is supposed to be mentioned in polite company. In fact, anybody who dares to look back more than 18 months is deemed guilty of “dredging up the past,” which has become a thought crime of the highest order.

Well, to hell with that.

From The Washington Post, Jan. 2, 2010:

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“There has been zero net job creation since December 1999. No previous decade going back to the 1940s had job growth of less than 20 percent. Economic output rose at its slowest rate of any decade since the 1930s as well.

Middle-income households made less in 2008, when adjusted for inflation, than they did in 1999 — and the number is sure to have declined further during a difficult 2009. The Aughts were the first decade of falling median incomes since figures were first compiled in the 1960s.

And the net …

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In NH, Palin’s endorsement a boon in primary, a risk in the general

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Kelly Ayotte, former NH attorney general and now candidate for the U.S. Senate

Like Karen Handel here in Georgia, Republican Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire has been endorsed as a “Mama Grizzly” by Sarah Palin in Ayotte’s campaign for the GOP Senate nomination.

That endorsement is likely to help Ayotte considerably in the primary, according to a new poll by Public Policy Polling. In their survey conducted July 23-25, 48 percent of New Hampshire conservatives said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by Palin, while 18 percent said a Palin endorsement would be a turnoff.

Last week, I questioned how much credit Palin should be given for pushing Handel to her first-place finish in the Republican gubernatorial primary here in Georgia (Handel still faces an Aug. 10 runoff with Nathan Deal.) The polling results out of New Hampshire suggest that I might have been mistaken — Palin may indeed have been a difference maker.

However, if you dig a little deeper into the …

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