Archive for December, 2010

Time to assess the 111th Congress

The lame-duck congressional session proved anything but lame.

When it finally came to a vote, the supposedly controversial New START arms treaty with Russia drew 71 supporters in the Senate, including Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia. The repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” drew 65 Senate votes, with only 31 opposed, a margin of better than two to one that left John McCain, the Angry Old Man of the Senate, stewing in his own resentment.

Liberals who condemned President Obama for his tax-cut negotiations with Republicans should acknowledge that the deal swung the door open to other important accomplishments. Until that issue was taken off the table, nothing else was going to pass.

Ron Brownstein, writing in National Journal, concludes that the list of Democratic accomplishments in this two-year session of Congress is longer than that of any party since the days of LBJ.

“Health care and financial-services reform top that list. The 2009 economic-stimulus package contained, by some …

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Have yourself a jingle bell rockin’ Christmas

Last week I pulled your leg a little bit about a Bookman holiday tradition, but this one’s a little more serious.

Well, as serious as you can be when talking about Pee Wee Herman.

Since its first broadcast in 1988, Pee Wee’s Christmas special has been an essential part of the holidays in the Bookman household. We know — and quote — every line in the show. With both of our daughters home for Christmas, we broke out the DVD again last night, and everyone had a grand time watching it again.

Grace Jones does a rockin’ “Little Drummer Boy” in the show, but the best musical number features kd lang singing “Jingle Bell Rock” in uniquely kd style.

“This used to make me so confused when I was a little kid, I couldn’t figure out what this person was,” the younger daughter laughed last night. I guess I hadn’t seen it through the eyes of a five-year-old before, but I see her point. At that age you’re busy trying to put things in their proper categories — “three of these things belong …

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How I spent my Christmas vacation: Not blogging (much)

It’s Dec. 20, and so far the amount of Christmas shopping I have accomplished is … zero.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that I have taken this week off as vacation, so I can get some things done.

Which, in turn, means I won’t be posting here on the blog very often. I’ll pop on to post if something important occurs, or if something occurs to me worth tossing out there. And I’ll have something for Friday afternoon, Christmas Eve. But for the most part I’ll be doing what people do on vacation, which is not work.

I’ll try to keep commenting open, but if things get too wild and hairy here and people start complaining to the AJC, they’ll shut it down, so keep that in mind. Thanks for caring enough to come here and post here, and Merry Christmas everyone.

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A little holiday travelin’ dance number

A lot of families have their own holiday traditions, the little “inside jokes” that family members enjoy but that outsiders aren’t likely to comprehend. Unless you share family memories and relationships, you just can’t appreciate why it’s significant.

For example, one of the annual highlights of the Bookman family holiday reunion involves slipping good ol’ Uncle Nat a little too much eggnog (his favorite), to the point that he finally agrees to perform his famous Bookman Bounce.

It kills the room, every time. So I’d thought I’d share:

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In Afghanistan, there’s no path to victory

Despite the success of U.S. troops on the ground — a success repeated in battle after battle — we lost the Vietnam War. Military historians and counterinsurgency experts cite two major reasons for that defeat:

1.) Our opponents had a sanctuary in North Vietnam that we could never effectively close down for fear of starting an even larger war in the region. We bombed its factories and mined its harbors; we tried to shut down its supply lines to the South. But North Vietnam remained a constant source of new manpower and new resources for our enemies.

2.) The South Vietnamese government was corrupt and ineffective, incapable of and actually not all that interested in winning the allegiance of its own people. That’s fatal. The U.S. military’s field manual on how to conduct a counterinsurgency (COIN) — a document drafted under the leadership of Gen. David Petraeus, and which led to his appointment as U.S. commander in Iraq — highlights its importance: “The primary objective of any …

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Gov. Perdue pursues an intriguing new business idea

In eight years as governor, Sonny Perdue couldn’t resolve Georgia’s bitter water war with Alabama and Florida.

But in the end, he may have found a way to profit from it.

As a severe drought taught us a few years ago, metro Atlanta’s water supply is barely adequate. Legal setbacks since then have made the situation even more precarious. The region had long assumed it could tap the bounties of Lake Lanier to serve its water needs, but a ruling by a federal judge in 2009 called that into doubt. Unless Georgia settles with Alabama and Florida by July 2012, it could lose almost all access to Lanier as a water source.

In response to that ruling, Perdue and other state officials have advocated construction and expansion of reservoirs in North Georgia to “drought-proof” metro Atlanta. Gov.-elect Nathan Deal reiterated the reservoir-building policy in a speech this week to legislators in Athens, suggesting that the state might float bonds to finance reservoir construction.

The biggest …

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Huckabee says no he didn’t, but yes indeedy he did

According to Mike Huckabee, he has never supported a cap-and-trade approach to limiting carbon emissions. As he puts it point-blank on his website:

“In a recent internet post, a contributor makes the claim that I supported cap-and-trade in late 2007 while running for President.

To put it simply, that’s just not true.

If companies chose to participate voluntarily as part of their corporate policy, then fine. But I was clear that we could not force U.S. businesses to do what their Chinese counterparts refused to – and doing so would have been a serious job killer.

I understand this issue well, and I realize the potential damage that would occur if it passes because I was the chair of the 37 state-member Oil and Gas Compact Commission for 2 years. In fact, I led the state or Arkansas through the process of developing the Fayetteville Shale play of natural gas.

This kind of mandatory energy policy would have a horrible impact on this nation’s job market. I never did support and …

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When the Tea Party wave crashes into D.C. wall

When last we checked in with the Tea Party movement, it had claimed victories throughout the nation in the midterm elections and served notice on Republicans and Democrats alike that things in Washington were going to change. No more earmarks. No more secret negotiations. No more deficit spending. No more lobbyists running Congress.

So where are we now?

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post reports on the education of Tea Party darling Kristi Noem:

“When the good people of South Dakota voted last month to send Republican Kristi Noem to Congress, they probably believed that she would give no quarter to the lobbyists and special interest groups who enjoyed, as she put it, “throwing money at the feet of a member of Congress.”

But since she defeated Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (in part by making an issue of Herseth Sandlin’s marriage to a lobbyist), Noem has hired as her new chief of staff . . . a lobbyist! And on Tuesday afternoon, she was the guest of honor at a …

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House votes to repeal DADT; Senate has the votes as well

The House of Representatives has voted 250-175 to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

In the Senate, Republican Olympia Snowe has joined her Maine colleague, Susan Collins, in support of repeal. An earlier repeal effort, tied to a defense spending bill, failed by three votes to reach the magic number of 60. Snowe makes 58.

I’m seeing reports that Republicans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Scott Brown of Massachusetts will also vote for the stand-alone measure, which puts the total at 60. By some counts, Richard Lugar of Indiana and George Voinovich of Ohio are also votes for repeal.

If all that’s true, we now have enough votes to end this policy. The remaining trick is finding time on the Senate calendar to get those votes cast.

Harry Reid, the nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

– Jay Bookman

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A modest proposal to transform HOPE

The deficit facing Gov.-elect Nathan Deal and the state Legislature is approaching $2 billion, and Deal is already warning that education budgets will once again be slashed. More teacher furloughs, more layoffs, more crowded classrooms, shorter school years … the list of impacts is lengthy and troublesome.

In the meantime, Deal is also insisting that the state corporate income tax — which generates $600 million a year — be eliminated to make the state more “business-friendly.” Yeah, that would require still more cuts in education, but hey, it’s all about jobs, you know.

In addition, the state tax-reform commission is expected to propose lowering the income tax and increasing the state’s reliance on sales-tax revenue, a move designed to shift still more of the tax burden onto the working and middle class and away from the wealthy. True, we’re already a low-tax state, but we ought to do anything we can do to help out the real producers.

But you know what I’m thinking? I’m …

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