Archive for May, 2011

Words of wisdom from Allen West on gays in the military

In an appearance today at the Heritage Foundation, U.S. Rep. Allen West, a conservative Republican freshman from Florida and a former Army officer, was asked about the impact of “social experimentation” on our military, an apparent reference to the abolition of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

West responded (see the 30-minute mark in the video below):

“Let me put it very simple, the United States’ military exists to win the nation’s wars. When you join the military, it takes individual behavior and conforms it the military. Now, if we start to have a perspective and belief in this nation that the military conforms to individual behavior, then we have lost the understanding of what it means to be in the United States military. The rules are very clear in the United States military. If you don’t want to abide by the rules of the United States military, then don’t join.

But the U.S. military is not there as a social experiment and for those who will sit up there and say, …

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New business not creating jobs, and hasn’t for a long time

Is the current economic situation just another in a long cycle of booms and busts, growth periods and slowdowns, and thus something that will correct itself in time? Or does it reflect something more long-term, something more fundamental gone wrong in the economy?

Personally, I think that’s the most important economic question of our times. And these new numbers out of the Bureau of Labor Statistics don’t encourage me much. They suggest that new business establishment, long considered the main driver of job creation, is no longer capable of playing that role. They also demonstrate that the phenomenon is not a product of our current economic struggles, but instead can be traced back more than a decade.

As the BLS commentary notes, “the number of jobs created by establishments less than 1 year old has decreased from 4.1 million in 1994, when this series began, to 2.5 million in 2010. This trend combined with that of fewer new establishments overall indicates that the number of …

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Hall a cause, not victim, of cheating scandal

Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall did not sit in a locked room, eraser in hand, changing wrong answers to right answers on standardized tests. Absent a blockbuster revelation in a state report expected to be released soon, Hall also did not preside over staff meetings in which she directed or encouraged others to do so.

But let’s be blunt, because Hall will not: The responsibility is hers. The failure of moral and ethical leadership is hers. The evasion of accountability is hers. She set the tone, she created the high-stakes system of rewards and penalties driven by test scores, she chose to ignore the warning signs, and when given repeated chances to address the problems that she and her staff created, she refused the opportunity.

As a result, people may be going to jail. Others may lose their careers and professional reputations. The credibility of the school system that Hall led for a dozen years is in tatters and its operations paralyzed. Its capacity to …

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A day to honor and remember

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marines

For those now at peace, and those still in strife

Above, the Vietnam Memorial; left, the Marine Corps War Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery; below, a Marine in Helmand Province, Afghanistan
Afghanistan US

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Travelin’ Music from the Delta, by way of England

There are music stars, and then there are musicians. Eric Clapton, I think, fits comfortably in both categories, but it’s in his unplugged, mode that his musician side comes through most clearly.

I love his ability to strip something down to its basics and then play with it, adding and subtracting, multiplying and dividing. And there’s an underlying theme of melancholy in all his work that really glistens when he goes acoustic.

Like this:

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‘American Jews aren’t as pro-Israel as they should be’

U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill.

U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill.

This rant from U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, Republican from Illinois, cracks me up in a sad, melancholy kind of way:

” … where is the outrage from the American Jewish community? Don’t they understand that the president is not pro-Israel? Aren’t they troubled by his history of pro-Palestinian writings, speeches, and actions? The short answer is that most American Jews are liberal, and most American liberals side with the Palestinians and vague notions of “peace” instead of with Israel’s well-being and security. Like the president, the U.N., and most of Europe, too many American Jews aren’t as pro-Israel as they should be…”

It’s just delicious: A Catholic politician from Illinois, berating and lecturing Jews because they aren’t as pro-Israel as he thinks they ought to be, being Jews and all. And of course, he gets to define what being “pro-Israel” means.

It’s similar in subtext to conservatives who lecture black Americans about “staying on the Democratic …

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GOP’s Chris Christie: Climate change real; man contributes

I guess it’s true; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie really isn’t running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012:

“In the past I’ve always said that climate change is real and it’s impacting our state,” he said in a press conference yesterday (video below). “There’s undeniable data that CO2 levels and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere are increasing. Decade average temperatures have been rising and temperature changes are affecting weather patterns and our climate.”

OK, so climate change is occurring. But is mankind to blame? To get an answer to that crucial question, Christie says, he has been meeting with experts and scientists for the last few months to discuss the issue in depth, and has also done considerable reading and study on his own.

His conclusion:

“When you have over 90 percent of the world’s scientists who have studied this stating that climate change is occurring and humans play a contributing role, it’s time to defer to the experts…. we know …

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Transportation tax will require delicate balance

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed found himself playing the skunk at a dinner party Wednesday, raising an unwelcome stink in an otherwise congenial, cooperative meeting of the Atlanta region’s transportation roundtable.

But the stink was necessary.

The roundtable’s mission is to compile a list of needed transportation projects in the 10-county region, then build public support for funding those projects with a 10-year, one-penny sales tax estimated to raise $8 billion. (The vote is scheduled for 2012).

In hard times such as these, with tax dollars hard to come by, everyone understands that it’s going to be tough to get 50 percent plus one of the region’s voters to support such a tax. But as Reed and other members of the roundtable executive committee made clear Wednesday, success is crucial to metro Atlanta’s quality of life and its economy. Without a major surge of transportation investment, the region’s future will dim.

Earl Bender, part of the team hired with private dollars to …

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‘Freedom-loving’ NRA dictates what doctors can say to patients

We’ve heard a lot of rhetoric the last couple of years about the importance of keeping government out of the sacred, private relationship between doctors and their patients.

It was all a bunch of bull-oney.

For instance, the Florida Legislature has now passed a bill that makes it illegal for doctors to ask patients whether they have guns in their home and whether those guns are stored correctly to keep them out of the hands of children. It’s a question that many pediatricians ask as part of their standard spiel, along with ensuring that poisons and medicines are kept out of children’s reach and that swimming pools are monitored.

As Dr. Paul Robinson, a specialist in adolescent medicine, testified in vain to a Florida Senate committee:

“What if I have an adolescent who’s been bullied, who’s not suicidal? I don’t think, under the current bill, I’m entitled to ask him if there’s a gun in the home, or if he’s carried a gun to school, or if he’s thinking of harming someone else …

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Court decision in Arizona case critical to Georgia law

In a 5-3 decision, the Supreme Court has upheld a controversial illegal immigration bill enacted in Arizona. It’s an important decision, and as a matter of law if not policy, I actually agree with it. However, it’s important to note what the decision does and does not do.

First, this is not a decision on Arizona’s most recent and controversial immigration bill, which has also been challenged in the courts. That case will be decided on grounds of civil liberties, due process, the Tenth Amendment and similar provisions, and will almost certainly be overturned in the end. It goes way too far.

Today’s decision deals instead with a bill that was signed into law back in 2007 by then-Gov. Janet Napolitano, now the secretary of Homeland Security, and was decided on the wording of existing federal law.

It deals with a very limited issue: Do the states have the power to deny licenses to businesses that do not use E-Verify to check the legal status of new workers? In a decision authored …

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