Archive for January, 2011

In Egypt, protestors unlikely to force regime change — this time

Here’s a bird’s eye view:

And here’s a similar scene, but up close and personal:

From what I can tell, this isn’t likely to end in the overthrow of the Mubarak regime. Egypt is not Tunisia. But the protests and violence clearly have th Arab leadership very worried because, well, Egypt is not Tunisia. Egypt is the biggest nation in the Arab world. Al Jazeera isn’t very popular among Americans, but it is probably even less popular among Arab leaders who fear its reports coming out of Egypt. King Hamad, the leader of Bahrain, for example, has called Mubarak seeking an emergency Arab summit.

As the Gulf Daily News (NOT an independent news source, by the way), blandly reported the development:

His Majesty King Hamad made the call as he held a telephone conversation with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

He stressed the need to co-ordinate the meeting to map out a strategy spearheading the progress of the Arab nations.

He also highlighted the importance of such a blueprint to …

Continue reading In Egypt, protestors unlikely to force regime change — this time »

When plans and hopes collide with reality, Georgia style

These were the headlines at the top of today’s AJC Metro section cover.

I thought it captured our predicament quite nicely. A little piece of accidental wisdom, so to speak.

hedline2

– Jay Bookman

Continue reading When plans and hopes collide with reality, Georgia style »

Baptist leader withdraws in face of anti-Muslim bigotry

From the Associated Press:

“NASHVILLE — A leader of the Southern Baptist Convention has withdrawn from a coalition that supports the rights of Muslims to build mosques in their communities.

Richard Land, the head of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said he heard from many Southern Baptists who felt the work of the Interfaith Coalition on Mosques crossed the line from defending religious freedom to promoting Islam.

“I don’t agree with that perception but it’s widespread and I have to respect it,” he told The Associated Press.

The Coalition was formed last year as an initiative of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish group that fights discrimination. Its first action was to file a friend of the court brief opposing a lawsuit that sought to stop a planned mosque in Murfreesboro, about 30 miles southeast of Nashville.”

In his resignation letter to the ADL, Land wrote that “while many Southern Baptists share my deep commitment to religious freedom and the …

Continue reading Baptist leader withdraws in face of anti-Muslim bigotry »

Obama missed chance to embrace Social Security reform

In his low-risk, low-gain State of the Union address, President Obama made sure to pay homage to the work done by the bipartisan deficit-reduction commission that he created, while also ensuring that he kept its specific recommendations safely at arm’s length.

That includes the panel’s recommendations on Social Security reform, which is too bad, because for the most part I think those suggestions were fair and effective.

The most important decision made by commission members regarding Social Security was to honor the integrity of the Social Security trust fund. They gave the program full credit for the hundreds of billions of dollars that have been divreted from the fund over the last quarter century to run the rest of government. In effect, we’ve been using a Social Security surtax on the working and middle class to finance tax cuts for the wealthy, and the time has come for that arrangement to end. The commission implicitly accepts that reality.

In fact, every time you hear …

Continue reading Obama missed chance to embrace Social Security reform »

The State of the Union, as told by President Obama

He will call for, it seems, “a new era of cooperation.”

Well, we’ll see.

– Jay Bookman

Continue reading The State of the Union, as told by President Obama »

In Congress, anti-Muslim bigotry gaining a strong foothold

According to U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-NY, more than 80 percent of the mosques in this country are headed by imams who espouse radical Islamic jihad.

Eighty percent. King has offered that estimate in the past, and did so again this week in a radio interview:

King did not claim to have a list of those subversive enemies of American freedom in his suit pocket, as Sen. Joe McCarthy did 60 years ago. But like McCarthy, King does have the chairmanship of a prominent congressional committee, in his case the House Homeland Security Committee. And next month, King’s committee is scheduled to hold public hearings into the alleged disloyalty of the Muslim-American community.

That ought to go so very well, don’t you think?

And then we’ve got U.S. Rep. Allen West, a newly elected Republican from Florida. In a recent interview with a cable TV program called “The Shalom Show,” West was asked a rather odd question about U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat and a Muslim, and he …

Continue reading In Congress, anti-Muslim bigotry gaining a strong foothold »

Government never created a single solitary job … except

Government can’t create jobs. Government never created a single job.

Never did, never can, never will.

Isn’t it odd, though, that you don’t hear that mantra when the subject is, say, building a publicly financed football stadium, or a highly subsidized nuclear power plant or auto plant. All of a sudden we’re swamped with data about the thousands of jobs that would be created if government would just commit taxpayers’ money to the project.

But still, government doesn’t create jobs.

And even though that’s true, and even though Georgia politicians have pledged their total devotion to that concept, they’re also pleading with the Obama administration to ante up hundreds of millions of dollars to dredge the Savannah River to make it accessible to deep-draft cargo ships.

Because that would, you know, create a lot of jobs.

Of course, it’s not like there is any history of that kind of thing around here. It’s not as if Atlanta wouldn’t exist in the first place if the Georgia …

Continue reading Government never created a single solitary job … except »

Georgia’s ethics laws working quite well for Speaker Ralston

House Speaker David Ralston has been fending off calls for tighter ethics laws by counseling patience. Before rushing to pass any new rash of laws, he says, let’s wait to see the effect of changes passed last year.

(Note: This includes material posted originally on Saturday. It is posted here as the electronic version of today’s AJC column.)

Well, the early returns are in. Last fall, Georgia’s weak ethics laws allowed the speaker to accept a $17,000, week-long European vacation at a lobbyist’s expense for himself, his wife and his children, as well as for a staffer and the staffer’s spouse.

For Ralston, in other words, the laws are working quite well. No need to change a thing.
According to the speaker, the junket was a working trip, allowing him to study Europe’s high-speed rail system. (The Washington, D.C., firm that paid his way, Commonwealth Research Associates, is involved in efforts to build a high-speed line between Atlanta and Chattanooga.) And he took his …

Continue reading Georgia’s ethics laws working quite well for Speaker Ralston »

Economic recovery, while slow, begins to look sustainable

From USA Today:

“Economists are more optimistic about the recovery than they were just a few months ago, significantly upgrading their forecasts for 2011 as consumers open their wallets.

When asked to predict, nine of 10 economists said they’re more optimistic than three months ago, according to a USA TODAY survey of 46 economists conducted Jan. 13-19.

They expect the economy to grow at an annual rate of 3.2% to 3.4% each quarter this year. That’s up from quarterly median forecasts of 2.5% to 3.3% in an October survey.

“This growth is now becoming self-reinforcing,” says Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics. “Businesses are going to take their stronger sales and begin to hire more aggressively, generate more income, and we’re off and running.”

Zandi expects the economy to grow 4.4% this year. That’s better than last year’s estimated 3% growth, but well short of the 5% to 7% expansion that followed previous severe recessions.

The economists say the more robust …

Continue reading Economic recovery, while slow, begins to look sustainable »

Gingrich won’t win nomination; he won’t even win in Georgia

In little more than a year — Feb. 7, 2012, to be exact — Republican voters in Georgia will go to the polls to cast ballots in a GOP presidential primary.

As Jim Galloway confirmed last week, the name of Newt Gingrich will probably be on the ballot. The former speaker is reportedly telling Georgia Republican leaders that he intends to mount a national campaign out of Atlanta, presumably to try to shed himself of the taint of Washington.

“My offices are here. My grandchildren are here. I’m here regularly,” Gingrich said in a press conference Thursday in Atlanta. “I helped create the modern Republican Party in Georgia starting in 1960. I have a certain fondness for being back in Atlanta.”

Gingrich did make his name here, but he then moved on to pastures that he perceived to be greener, as the man is wont to do. And while he might see himself as a co-founder of the modern Georgia Republican Party, that’s not the story you hear from Republicans themselves, many of whom saw …

Continue reading Gingrich won’t win nomination; he won’t even win in Georgia »