Archive for October, 2010

Election results will spell trouble for GOP

I’m going to go on the record early with this prediction, and should time prove me wrong, feel free to remind me of my mistake:

Election Night 2010 will prove to be a disaster for the Republican Party as we now know it.

I know, conventional wisdom holds that Republicans will win a lot of seats and will almost certainly retake the House of Representatives, perhaps by a comfortable margin. In the Senate, experts predict that Democrats will cling to a majority by a handful of votes, with a decent chance that Republicans could win control of that chamber as well.

I believe that conventional wisdom is correct. Come Election Night, I have little doubt that Republicans across the country will be happily, giddily celebrating what they perceive as a public rejection of Barack Obama and vindication of their conservative principles. They will, so to speak, get their country back.

And then what?

A party pushed into power by blind anger and outrage will then try to govern in anger and …

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Nathan Deal the congressman aiding Nathan Deal the constituent

In the classic example of “chutzpah,” a man kills his mother and father, then begs the judge for mercy on the grounds that he’s an orphan.

Nathan Deal, the Republican candidate for governor, is showing some world-class chutzpah of his own. Confronted with fresh evidence that as a congressman, he used federal staff and resources for his own private gain, Deal has come up with a pretty novel defense:

His staff was performing constituent service, and the constituents just happened to be Deal and his business partner.

According to documents reported first by Dale Russell of WAGA-TV, Deal used his congressional chief of staff to try to convince Hall County officials to take over maintenance of a private road serving a business co-owned by Deal. Chris Riley, who was paid more than $163,000 a year by U.S. taxpayers, also contacted county officials and state regulators on Deal’s behalf in an effort to rezone a nearby parcel of property as a landfill.

Riley’s involvement went well …

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Economy becoming less and less resilient

I’ve been arguing for a while now that the political wrangling over who’s to blame for the economic mess is overblown. In fact, the bitterness of that debate is probably disguising the fact that something more profound and important is going on in the economy, something that neither stimulus spending nor tax cuts is likely to fix.

Here’s more evidence for that thesis, compiled by researchers at the Atlanta Federal Reserve. The chart documents the impact of the last five recessions on jobs in the Fed’s Southeastern region, or Sixth District, comprising Alabama, Florida, Georgia and parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

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What’s interesting — and worrisome — is the pattern over time, as the job market becomes less and less resilient. The quickest job recovery on the chart occurred in the wake of the oldest recession, in 1975. The second fastest occurred after the second oldest recession, in 1982. In fact, in every recession over the past 35 years, jobs have recovered …

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In worst of times, best of times for Wall Street

A few weeks ago, an executive with a $7.4 billion hedge fund complained publicly to President Obama that he and his Wall Street colleagues were being treated like a pinata.

Poor baby.

Here we are, suffering through the deepest recession in 80 years, a recession caused in large part by the excesses, incompetence, greed and tunnel vision of Wall Street. Millions of Americans are without jobs, homes, health care and in many cases a future.

Yet according to the Wall Street Journal, bonuses and other compensation that Wall Street executives pay themselves this year will be the highest in history, breaking the record that was set just last year. In other words, the two worst years in the American economy in three generations are going to be the two best years in history for the Masters of the Universe who helped create this mess.

According to the WSJ survey of 35 top publicly traded financial firms, executive compensation at those companies will total $144 billion this year. And …

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Atlanta at center of stem-cell progress, debate

Atlanta’s Shepherd Center made international news Monday with the announcement that it was hosting the world’s first human spinal-injury patient injected with cells derived from human embryonic stem cells.

According to Geron, the company that developed the cells, previous research using injured animals has produced noticeable improvement in functionality. Paralyzed animals injected with stem cells “had improved hind limb locomotor control. Paw placement, stride length and paw rotation all significantly improved compared to controls,” the company reports. If treatment produces similar benefits in human subjects, a lot of lives could be significantly improved.

However, the main purpose of the limited trial underway at Shepherd and later at other spinal centers around the country is to ensure that the experimental treatment doesn’t harm human patients in any way. Once the safety of the approach is established, the plan is to enroll additional patients and begin to test the …

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Barnes, unlike Deal, would take active lead

Roy Barnes ruled Georgia for four years, and the results were disastrous,” the announcer intones in a Republican TV ad.

However, that’s not the picture that the Barnes campaign likes to paint. In its own ads, the Barnes camp draws a stark contrast between the prosperous, growing Georgia of 10 years ago and the struggling Georgia of today, implying that the main difference is Barnes.

“Roy Barnes created 235,000 jobs,” one ad brags, referring to his previous stint as governor. “He can do it again.”

Not to shock you, but neither version is close to the truth. In fact, it’s hard to say which claim is more ridiculous.

Hardly a disaster, Barnes was a hands-on governor who came into office with an ambitious agenda and got a substantial portion of it accomplished. He governed as a conservative Democrat (many forget that in the 1990 Democratic primary for governor, Barnes ran unsuccessfully as the conservative alternative to Zell Miller.) In 2002, the libertarian Cato Institute praised …

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What book would YOU throw at President Obama?

We don’t have — and may never have — the identity of the person who threw a book at President Obama Sunday. But according to the Secret Service, we do have a motive.

“The book was thrown by an over-exuberant person,” Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told Politico. “It wasn’t a threatening thing — the person wanted to give the president the book.”

At the moment, we still don’t know what the book was, although its cover is clear enough in photos that I suspect we’ll find out eventually. (The book-tosser was apparently its author). So here’s the kick-around question for the night crew:

What book would YOU throw at the president in hopes he would read it? This one? This one (available cheap!)? Or this one?

Or this or this?

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Good enough for the Nobel, but not for Richard Shelby

Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama has been blocking the nomination of Peter Diamond as a member of the Federal Reserve Board, explaining that he doesn’t think the 70-year-old economist is prepared for the job.

“Professor Diamond is a skilled economist and certainly an expert on tax policy and on the Social Security system,” Shelby said back in July. “However, I do not believe he’s ready to be a member of the Federal Reserve Board. I do not believe that the current environment of uncertainty would benefit from monetary policy decisions made by board members who are learning on the job.”

Diamond is an MIT professor in economics who taught Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. Today, Diamond was announced as the co-winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize in economics.

His area of expertise? As the Nobel Committee explained:

“Why are so many people unemployed at the same time that there are a large number of job openings? How can economic policy affect unemployment? This year’s Laureates have …

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For Obama in Philly, streaker with a message

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A man later identified as Juan James Rodriguez is led away by police at an Obama rally Sunday near Philadelphia. For most, it was not a pleasant sight. (AP)

It was a strange day in Philadelphia for President Obama.

Someone literally “threw the book” at the president as he stood on stood on stage after speaking at an outdoor political rally. The paperback book of unknown title flew harmlessly behind Obama’s head, and there was no indication the president even saw it.

In his speech to some 18,000 supporters, Obama criticized his Republican opponents for wanting to return to the same agenda that created the current economic mess. “The basic idea is that if we put our blind faith in the market and we let corporations do whatever they want and we leave everybody else to fend for themselves, then America somehow automatically is going to grow and prosper,” he told the crowd, charging that the approach had been tried for eight years under President Bush and ended up costing millions …

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Nazi hobbyist as congressional candidate? And it’s OK?

Rich Iott is the Republican candidate to represent Ohio’s Ninth Congressional District, a seat now held by Democrat Marcy Kaptur. But as Josh Green of the Atlantic points out, Iott has had a rather unusual hobby for someone with ambitions of serving his country in Congress.

He likes to dress up in the uniform of the Waffen SS.

GOP congressional candidate Rich Iott, second from right, in the uniform of a Waffen SS officer.

GOP congressional candidate Rich Iott, second from right, in the uniform of a Waffen SS officer.

For several years, in fact, Iott was a member of a group calling itself the Wikings, created to honor those who fought in World War II in the 5th SS Panzer Division. The division comprised volunteers to the Nazi cause drawn from outside Germany. As the Wiking site explains:

Nazi Germany had no problem in recruiting the multitudes of volunteers willing to lay down their lives to ensure a “New and Free Europe”, free of the threat of Communism. National Socialism was seen by many in Holland, Denmark, Norway, Finland, and other eastern European and Balkan …

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