Archive for July, 2010

Trent Lott on Tea Party candidates: ‘As soon as they get here, we need to co-opt them’

The money quote from a Washington Post piece on the Tea Party and Washington’s GOP establishment:

Former Senate majority leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), now a D.C. lobbyist, warned that a robust bloc of rabble-rousers spells further Senate dysfunction. “We don’t need a lot of Jim DeMint disciples,” Lott said in an interview. “As soon as they get here, we need to co-opt them.”

But Lott said he’s not expecting a tea-party sweep. “I still have faith in the visceral judgment of the American people,” he said.

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Even warmest six months on record can’t puncture denialists’ fantasy

Like a mirage that disappears upon closer inspection, the so-called “ClimateGate” scandal has vanished. Every investigation, both here in the United States and in the United Kingdom, has cleared researchers of supposed scientific wrongdoing. And while the nihilists and denialists float bogus claims that we have experienced global cooling in recent years, here’s what the actual data show:

Last month’s combined global land and ocean surface temperature made it the warmest June on record and the warmest on record averaged for any April-June and January-June periods, according to NOAA. Worldwide average land surface temperature was the warmest on record for June and the April-June period, and the second warmest on record for the year-to-date (January-June) period, behind 2007…

The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for June 2010 was the warmest on record at 61.1°F (16.2°C), which is 1.22°F (0.68°C) above the 20th century average of 59.9°F (15.5°C).

The …

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Tea Party’s national spokesman proves NAACP correct after all

Earlier this week I wrote a post critical of the NAACP for a proposed resolution condemning the Tea Party movement as racially motivated and accusing it of wanting “to push our country back to the pre-civil rights era.”

As it turns out, NAACP leadership had similar qualms. Before putting it to a vote of their members, they moderated the resolution to state that “we take no issue with the Tea Party movement,” while urging it to “make clear there is no place for racism and anti-Semitism, homophobia and other forms of bigotry in their movement.”

Tea Party officials and supporters strongly condemned the resolution nonetheless.

“No, the Tea Party Movement is a beautiful movement, full of diverse people, diverse backgrounds,” Sarah Palin said on Fox News. “Folks of all walks of life who, for the most part, happen to oppose President Obama’s policies. Not the color of his skin. They don’t care that he’s half white or half black.”

Mark Williams, a national spokesman for the Tea Party …

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Travelin’ tunes to mark a musical anniversary

Many of you living in Georgia back in the early ’80s were no doubt onto this before the rest of us. But for me, living out in the Northwest at the time, R.E.M.’s album “Fables of the Reconstruction” became my introduction to what became one of the most influential and enduring rock groups of the past quarter century.

In fact, “Fables” was released 25 years ago this week, back in 1985, when the world was a different place and we were different people. This is probably my favorite cut from that album, dedicated to the late Howard Finster.

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With Gulf oil flow halted, a grim damage assessment begins

BP has announced — with appropriate if overdue cautions — that at 2:25 p.m. Thursday, it finally succeeded in halting the flow of oil from its Deepwater Horizon drill site. The leak had begun in April.

It’s still too early to proclaim the closure permanent. But for now, at least, attention can turn to dealing with the consequences of the millions of gallons of oil that have already been dumped into a fragile ecosystem. The tragedy is that’s exactly what we’ll have to do — deal with, rather than prevent, the consequences. Once that amount of oil has been introduced into a marine environment, the ability of mortal man to correct it is minimal.

Consider, for example, the plan by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to build sand berms to prevent the flow of oil into his state’s marshes. The sentiment that drove his plan — “in the face of crisis, let’s at least do SOMETHING!” — was honorable and human. But from the beginning, coastal scientists warned that the approach wouldn’t work and …

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The surreal debate in Ga.’s race for governor

In his second bid for a second term as governor, Roy Barnes says he will stop teacher furloughs, shrink class size and raise teacher pay.

No, he won’t.

And in the case of teacher pay, no, he shouldn’t.

The political calculations behind Barnes’ promises are obvious. During his first term, he so alienated Georgia teachers that he lost their support in the 2002 elections, and with it re-election. So one of his prime goals in this campaign is to try to repair that relationship.

However, state tax revenues continue to fall, the federal government is about to turn off the money spigot to state governments and Georgia is still leaking jobs. Under these conditions, the promises that Barnes is making to teachers will be impossible to keep for at least two budget cycles and probably a lot longer.

In fact, you have to wonder about the reaction of Georgians who are sitting at home, worried about their jobs and mortgages, watching Barnes on TV promising to use their tax money to give …

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Flush with $1.8 trillion, corporate America sits on the sidelines

From the Washington Post:

Corporate America is hoarding a massive pile of cash. It just doesn’t want to spend it hiring anyone.

Nonfinancial companies are sitting on $1.8 trillion in cash, roughly one-quarter more than at the beginning of the recession. And as several major firms report impressive earnings this week, the money continues to flow into firms’ coffers.

Yet all the good news from big business hasn’t translated into much promise for jobless Americans, leading many to wonder: If corporations are sitting on so much money, why aren’t they hiring more workers?

The answer to that question has become a political flash point between the White House and big business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which held a jobs summit Wednesday and accused the Obama administration of dumping onerous regulations on businesses. That has created an environment of “uncertainty,” which is causing firms to hold back on hiring as the unemployment rate has hovered near 10 percent, …

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Handel: From Log Cabin Republican to a ban on gay adoption

Doug Richards of Channel 11 interviewed GOP gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel on the issue of outlawing gay adoption. Here’s how it went:

Q: Frequently, folks in the Legislature kind of threaten to — there are always rumblings in the legislature that they may outlaw gay adoptions. You’re against gay adoption.

A: I am against gay adoption. But remember — I mean, if there is legislation on that, certainly I will follow that and look at it. But in the end, ultimately courts are going to be the ones to have to make the decision on that and it’s always in the best interests of the child. Do I think that gay parents is in the best interest of the child? No. But we do have our court system that deals with many and most of those issues.

Q: Would you favor outlawing gay adoptions?

A: Yeah, I would consider that, absolutely.

Q: Do you know any gay couples with children?

A: Not that I’m aware of.

Set aside — at least for a moment — the needless cruelty and even hate that would drive …

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Jobless benefits likely to feature in Ga.’s U.S. Senate race

From Henry Unger’s Biz Beat blog at the AJC:

“Georgia’s job market is showing signs of renewed deterioration,” state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said in a statement. “A sharp increase in the number of discouraged workers, rising long-term unemployment, increased new layoffs, and anemic job growth suggests that the fledgling economic recovery may be losing steam.”

The decline in the unemployment rate from 10.1 percent in May occurred largely because Georgia’s labor force shrunk by 17,953 in June, as long-term unemployed workers lost hope for finding new jobs, the labor department said. This is the largest monthly decline since May 2001.

In June, there were 230,000 long-term unemployed Georgians — those who have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer. This represents an increase of 117 percent from a year ago. The long-term unemployed now account for 49 percent of the 469,022 jobless workers in Georgia, the labor department said.

Meanwhile, Johnny Isakson and Saxby …

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No help for the jobless, but $3.4 trillion for tax cuts

Congressional Republicans continue to claim that extending unemployment benefits to jobless Americans will add too much to the deficit, and thus must be “paid for,” while simultaneously claiming that extending the Bush tax cuts will somehow NOT add to the deficit.

U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona made that argument on Fox News Sunday, and other Republican leaders are confirming it.

But the problem is, they know better.

Earlier this year, though, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the top budget wonk among House Republicans, asked the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to project what would happen to the deficit if we extended the Bush tax cuts that are otherwise due to expire in 2010 and also adjusted the Alternative Minimum Tax for inflation.

Contrary to Kyl, McConnell and others, the CBO reported that such steps would slash federal revenue and increase the debt by a cumulative $3.4 trillion between now and 2020.

Three point four trillion dollars.

To put that into perspective, the $35 …

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