Archive for May, 2011

Herman Cain about to make it official

Later today, Atlanta’s own Herman Cain is scheduled to formally announce his candidacy for president in a rally at Centennial Olympic Park. I’ll be headed out shortly to watch the event in person.
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UPDATE: The rally went as planned, a nice event drawing a lot of nice people honestly concerned about their country. I’d estimate the turnout at around 1,200, which is certainly respectable for a political rally on a beautiful Saturday in May.

In his remarks, however, Cain estimated the turnout at 15,000 — I’m sorry, that isn’t even in the realm of possibility. In fact, I saw several people around me crane their necks, smile and shake their heads after Cain made that estimate. I guess it was a number thrown out to impress the TV audience, because nobody who was actually there in person would believe it.

Maybe it was the outdoor setting, or maybe Cain just got a bit overwhelmed by the occasion — after all, it’s not every day a man announces a run for president of the United …

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A little Travelin’ Music to get our final journey started

Well, it’s certainly been nice, and I want to say that I have very much appreciated the opportunity to serve as your host here. And to see us off on our final journeys, a little exit music from the boys down the road apiece ….

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Israel, Palestine each a victim of its own false dream

The first thing to remember is that, sadly, none of this probably matters anymore.

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Israel cannot be dissuaded from the course that it has quietly, at times even subconsciously pursued for 40 years. While it talked peace and at times honestly pursued peace, it has also continued to build settlements with the ultimate goal of swallowing all of the West Bank into its borders regardless of the consequences. Although millions of Israelis understand that those consequences might very well include the loss of Israel itself, there is no sign that the Israelis as a people can bring themselves to alter course.

The consensus necessary for peace is also missing among the Palestinians. For decades, they have clung to their own false dream of Israel’s abolition, and to the idea that such a feat could be accomplished through violence. It was blind, romantic foolishness, and they have reaped a bitter harvest for it. Today, after years of confrontation with a far superior military, many …

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Immigration bill does less than backers, foes claim

“We’re looking for every tool we can to address this problem,” state Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, said this week in an interview. “And we know that the number-one tool is cutting off access to jobs” that draw illegal immigrants to Georgia.

Ramsey was the chief sponsor of HB 87, the controversial new immigration law signed last week by Gov. Nathan Deal. The bill has been described by Ramsey and other advocates as an effort to crack down both on employers who hire illegal workers and on the workers themselves. Its critics, on the other hand, compare it to a highly controversial law in Arizona, which among other things allows law-enforcement officers to detain and check the immigration status of anyone subject to a “lawful stop.”

Both claims are overblown.

Although federal courts may come to a different conclusion, the new Georgia law strikes me as considerably less dangerous to civil liberties than the law in Arizona, parts of which have been suspended by federal courts. …

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Cornel West yanks Obama’s credentials as a black man

I just finished reading Princeton academic Cornel West’s diatribe against Barack Obama, in which West complains that “my dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear of free black men” and calls Obama “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats.”

West frames his disenchantment in terms of class struggle, and argues that Obama has chosen the wrong side, selling out less fortunate Americans in return for the favor of the powerful.

“The escalation of the class war against the poor and the working class is intense,” West writes. “More and more working people are beaten down. They are world-weary. They are into self-medication. They are turning on each other. They are scapegoating the most vulnerable rather than confronting the most powerful.”

“When you look at a society you look at it through the lens of the least of these, the weak and the vulnerable; you are committed to loving them first, not exclusively, but first, and therefore …

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Game of Thrones: The Fight for King Ronald’s Crown

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Thus is the story told:

Before there was Herman Cain, the totally fab non-hirer of Muslims and Defender of the Holy Realm against Sharia, there was the Donald, a man whose own star flashed oh so briefly but brightly across the GOP firmament until, alas, he crashed under the weight of his ego into the Slough of Birtherdom, never to be seen again except on Sunday nights at 9, 8 Central (check your local listings).

Nope, not Sarah Palin

Nope, not Sarah Palin

And lest we forget, before that, oh so many forgotten months ago, there was the sainted Sarah Palin, the crusading Wasilla wrong-righter, whom many once fervently believed would lead the people in a campaign to evict the usurper Barack Obama and his consort, the dessert-banning Michelle, from their illicit crib deep in the nation’s Capitol.

Alas, Sarah too hath fallen, led astray from her true destiny by the lure of lucre, hotel caviar and plush furs from animals that she didn’t even have to kill and skin herself, doncha know?

Sarah’s descent …

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When economics clash with ideology — right and left

Economist Daniel B. Klein and Zogby researcher Zeljka Buturovic have been polling hundreds of Americans to try to test their basic economic literacy. Among other things, they’ve found that college education doesn’t appreciably increase performance on the 17 questions that comprise their test.

Not surprisingly, they also found that liberals tend to answer incorrectly on questions that challenge liberal positions, while conservatives tend to answer incorrectly on questions that challenge conservative positions.

(The 17 questions are reprinted below, with the “right” answers following. I’m not sure I buy all of the Klein/Buturovic definitions of “correct.” For example, does free trade increase unemployment? The “correct” answer is no, but the answer might change if you live in a town with a shuttered textile mill.)

I want to focus on Question 9 in the survey, because it strikes right at the heart of a long-running debate here about how to fairly distribute the tax burden. Here’s …

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Gingrich increasingly a comic figure … and that’s OK

By this point, the Gingrich for President campaign has lost whatever political relevance it might have had and has entered the realm of comic entertainment.

Which is fine with me.

Everybody knew this day would come; the only surprise is that it came so swiftly. As Rich Galen, a former Gingrich aide, told Politico:

“The problem for Newt is, this is exactly what everybody who has ever worked for or around him said was his basic problem. Sooner or later, I suspect, unfortunately, the campaign will collapse from the top because people are going to say, ‘I love him and he’s really smart, but he can’t be president.’”

Or, as Rich Lowry of National Review wrote:

“He can’t help himself. Gin­grich prefers extravagant lambasting when a mere distancing would do, and the over-arching theoretical construct to a mundane pander. He is drawn irresistibly to operatic overstatement — sometimes brilliant, always interesting, and occasionally downright absurd.”

And then there …

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As ‘Gang of Six’ collapses, trench warfare over deficit looms

I never invested much real hope in the so-called “Gang of Six,” the group of Republican and Democratic senators trying to find some solution to the deficit stalemate, but it’s been the only forum in which bipartisan negotiation was at least taking place, and people seemed to be making an effort.

Now, with the withdrawal of U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, that too seems to have broken down.

“The debt is still $14 trillion. It’s got to be solved in a bipartisan way,” Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), another member of the group, said Tuesday. “I hope that we’ll eventually, as a Gang of Six, be able to come together on some long-term resolution of the issue. But it looks like that’s not going to happen in the short term.”

Even if such an agreement were reached, the six senators would still have had to find another 45 fellows senators to sign onto the deal — 54 if the process got filibustered somehow. And the likelihood of that happening approaches zero. …

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GOP downplays debt ceiling; president begs to differ

As of Monday, the United States had hit its legally allowed debt ceiling. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has begun borrowing from the pension funds of federal employees — money that by law will have to be replaced — in order to keep things afloat, but he warns that he will run out of such options around the beginning of August.

“Even a short-term default could cause irrevocable damage to the American economy,” Geithner says, warning that it could lead to a double-dip recession or worse.

However, some Republicans, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, are trying to downplay the significance of that date. As Bloomberg reports:

“Cantor said he wasn’t concerned about a negative reaction by the bond market if talks between congressional leaders and President Barack Obama continue closer to the date Treasury says it can no longer borrow money to pay U.S. obligations.

“As long as we are being focused and smart about the proposals we’re focusing on, I believe the …

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