Archive for October, 2010

Anita Hill, Mrs. Thomas wants to chat … not really

Well isn’t this special?

From the Wall Street Journal:

Nearly 20 years after sexual harassment allegations almost derailed Clarence Thomas’s Supreme Court nomination, the justice’s wife telephoned Anita Hill, his principal accuser, to seek an apology.

Virginia Thomas

Virginia Thomas

“I did place a call to Ms. Hill at her office extending an olive branch to her after all these years, in hopes that we could ultimately get past what happened so long ago,” Virginia Thomas said through a spokesman. Mrs. Thomas, a longtime conservative activist, has lately taken a more visible role by founding a tea-party group called Liberty Central.

Ms. Hill, now a professor at Brandeis University, said she didn’t take Mrs. Thomas’s Oct. 9 voicemail as conciliatory.

“I certainly thought the call was inappropriate,” Ms. Hill said through a Brandeis spokesman. “I have no intention of apologizing because I testified truthfully about my experience and I stand by that testimony.”

Ms. Hill said she initially assumed …

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If you want to blame Obama for job loss, take a look

I continue to argue that presidents get too much blame for a bad economy and too much credit for a good one, especially in the short term. A $14 trillion economy moves in its own cycles, at its own pace, particularly when it’s so intricately connected to a global economy with its own cycles and pace.

But of course, that’s not how most people see it. If the economy falters, government is supposed to rush in and fix it for us. Even conservatives, who generally like to claim that government has no business meddling in the economy, are still quick to blame government when the economy falters or when it doesn’t recover fast enough. (Or at least, they do when a Democrat is in the White House.)

So for those who insist on pressing that argument, take a look at the chart below, compiled by Steve Benen at Washington Monthly. It charts monthly job losses or gains in private enterprise from January 2008 through September 2010. The red months cover the Bush presidency; the blue months …

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State leaders quietly undermine public education

UPDATE: Gwinnett County schools have won the 2010 Broad Prize, the highest honor awarded to an urban district.

“Gwinnett County has demonstrated that an unwavering focus across a school system – by every member of the district and the community – can lead to steady student improvement and achievement,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in announcing the award. “Districts across the country should look to Gwinnett County as an example of what is possible when adults put their interests aside and focus on students.”

More than half of Gwinnett’s students are African-American or Hispanic, and half are eligible for subsidized lunches.

For the second year in a row, the Gwinnett County school system has been honored as one of the five best urban districts in the country by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.

If Gwinnett goes on to win the top prize, which will be announced today in New York, Gwinnett seniors will share$1 million in college scholarships. That would be an …

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Deal, top staff member skirted House payment rules

Is there some point at which enough is enough in the Ga. governor’s race?

If such a point exists, surely we have now reached it. If such a point does not exist, well, Georgia voters can’t say they weren’t warned.

From Roll Call:

Ex-Rep. Nathan Deal’s congressional office paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to a Georgia company owned by his top staffer’s wife to fly to and from his congressional district, but the staffer did not report the income on his financial disclosure forms because he claims the couple made no profit.

House rules prohibit Members from purchasing services from a staff member but appear to be silent on purchasing from a staff member’s spouse.

According to House spending records, which detail the finances of each lawmaker’s office, Deal’s office paid Gainesville, Ga.-based Chattahoochee Logistics LLC at least $245,000 from 2002 to 2008.

Former House aide Chris Riley, who now serves as Deal’s campaign manager in the Georgia gubernatorial race, founded that …

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Special interests get a death grip on American government

One of the recurring themes of the Tea Party movement is the recognition that special interests exert far more influence over government than do individual voters and citizens. Yet that same movement seems oblivious to the fact that unlimited, undisclosed political expenditures by corporations will compound the power of special interests at the expense of the average citizen. The next time a major industry wants a bailout a la the hated TARP, for example, its ability to win friends and allies in Congress will be limited only by its willingness to spend money in the right places.

From AP:

A Montana judge says the state’s century-old ban on corporate political spending is unconstitutional.

District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock of Helena on Monday tossed out the 1912 Corrupt Practices Act that prohibits corporations from making independent political expenditures.

Sherlock ruled in favor of conservative think-tank Western Tradition Partnership.

That group challenged the law this year …

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Can gov’t install GPS device on your car without a warrant?

I don’t understand the mental gymnastics required to believe that this kind of thing is OK:

From NPR:

Yasir Afifi, a 20-year-old computer salesman and community college student, took his car in for an oil change earlier this month and his mechanic spotted an odd wire hanging from the undercarriage.

The wire was attached to a strange magnetic device that puzzled Afifi and the mechanic. They freed it from the car and posted images of it online, asking for help in identifying it.

Two days later, FBI agents arrived at Afifi’s Santa Clara apartment and demanded the return of their property — a global positioning system tracking device now at the center of a raging legal debate over privacy rights.

The FBI claims that it has the unrestricted power to attach the GPS tracker to any vehicle it chooses — yours, mine, Afifi’s — without a judicial warrant or other check on its power. The Obama administration agrees, as does the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco. In a …

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Pragmatism not a popular virtue in today’s GOP

A lot of mainstream Republicans have to be uneasy with the direction their party has taken in recent months. Sure, they’re willing to ride the Tea Party tsunami into the midterms, even with all the wacky candidates it has drawn into its wake, because it gives them a means to seize power from the hated Nancy Pelosi and maybe even Harry Reid. But looking beyond November, they also recognize the danger of letting that same passion and emotion dictate, say, a Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich or Mike Huckabee as their presidential nominee come 2012.

A nominee such as Mitt Romney would be more to their liking, but the man has way too much baggage to stuff in the overhead compartment. He authored the Massachusetts health-care plan that served as the model for ObamaCare; he can’t talk the conservative talk without coming off like an actor who lacks the chops to sound sincere; and his Mormon faith, unfortunately, remains a serious drawback in the South, where the GOP nomination is likely to …

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Democrats wrong to push bonus to seniors

From The Washington Post:

For the second year in a row, the nearly 54 million retirees and other Americans who receive Social Security benefits will not get any cost-of-living increase in 2011 in their monthly checks, government officials announced Friday, renewing debate over whether the system offers enough help in a weak economy.

The absence of any growth in Social Security checks for consecutive years is unprecedented in the 31/2 decades that payments have been adjusted automatically based on the nation’s inflation rate….

In the White House and on Capitol Hill, Democrats immediately responded with fresh calls to give extra money to older Americans, a potent voting bloc, and other people who depend on Social Security. Republicans disparaged the idea, contending that it would deepen the deficit and skirt a more fundamental need to put the retirement system on solid financial footing for the long term.

The Republicans are absolutely right about that. There is no legitimate …

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Some travelin’ music on the road to Splitsville

It has been barely two months since a federal judge in California overturned that state’s ban on same-sex marriage, a ruling that inspired dark warnings about the impact it was going to have on traditional marriage.

And sure enough:

christina-jordan-split

Christina Aguilera and Jordan Bratman … splitsville

Ben Harper and Laura Dern ... splitsville

Ben Harper and Laura Dern … splitsville

Cox_Arquette_Separation.JPE

David Arquette and Courtney Cox … splitsville.

It’s all the fault of teh gays. It has to be, right? I mean, what else could possibly account for it?

Unless of course it was the “lying, cheating, cold-deadbeating, two-timing, double-dealing, mean-mistreating” kind of thing that people sing all the songs about.

(Happy Friday, everyone!)

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Streetcar money breaks Atlanta transit losing streak

Source: City of Atlanta

Source: City of Atlanta

After repeated setbacks, metro Atlanta has finally managed to win federal support and funding for a transit project. According to U.S. Rep. John Lewis, federal officials have agreed to commit $47 million to help build a east-west streetcar line connecting the Georgia World Congress Center, the Georgia Aquarium, Centennial Olympic Park, Georgia State University and the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic District.

The announcement is an important coup for the city and its mayor, Kasim Reed. However, it also represents an obligation to the larger metro region. Federal officials will be watching closely to see whether the city follows through on its part of the deal. City officials have already identified $16 million in funds for capital construction, leaving the project still $9 million short.

Failure to come through with that funding would bode poorly for the far larger transit requests that the metro region will be making to the federal government in years …

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