Archive for October, 2011

Here’s what’s most damaging to Herman Cain

Things we have learned today about Herman Cain’s candidacy for president:

– It is quite plausible that Herman Cain harassed no one; clearly, not everyone accused of sexual harassment is guilty of that charge, and in the presumed absence of a smoking gun, we will never know for certain what transpired roughly 15 years ago. Even settlement payments don’t establish evidence of guilt.

– However, it is much less plausible that five-figure financial payments were made to each of the two women involved, as Politico reports, and that Cain, as CEO of the National Restaurant Association, knew nothing about such settlements, as he claims. That discrepancy could come back to haunt Cain, given that Politico claims to have seen documentation of the payments.

– This is not a case of character assassination or unfair treatment by liberal media. Any candidate for national office with such allegations in his or her past should expect them to become public at some point and should be ready to …

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Cain reportedly faced sexual harassment complaints

The big political news of the moment involves allegations that as president of the National Restaurant Association, Herman Cain was the subject of complaints of inappropriate sexual behavior by two separate female employees, both of whom received cash settlements and left employment from the association.

The story was broken by Politico, which reports:

In a series of comments over the past 10 days, Cain and his campaign repeatedly declined to respond directly about whether he ever faced allegations of sexual harassment at the restaurant association. They have also declined to address questions about specific reporting confirming that there were financial settlements in two cases in which women leveled complaints.

POLITICO has confirmed the identities of the two female restaurant association employees who complained about Cain but, for privacy concerns, is not publishing their names.

Cain spokesman J.D. Gordon told POLITICO the candidate indicated to campaign officials that he …

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100 years ago this week, an American legend was born

This week — Wednesday to be specific — would have been the 100th birthday of the great Mahalia Jackson, whom I would rate as one of the top five American performers of the 20th century. Her voice, presence and passion are startling, putting in the shade even such remarkable artists as Aretha Franklin, to whom she is often compared.

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “A voice like hers comes along once in a millennium.” Personally, I can’t listen to performances this one without the hairs on my arms rising. It’s been a hundred years since Mahalia showed up on this planet, and I don’t imagine we’ll see her equal in a hundred more.

Enjoy.

– Jay Bookman

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Romney is what happens when a party outFoxes itself

This is a portion of George Will’s column to be published Sunday, and I confess I find it pretty damn funny, if unintentionally so:

“Romney, supposedly the Republican most electable next November, is a recidivist reviser of his principles who is not only becoming less electable, he might damage GOP chances of capturing the Senate: Republican successes down the ticket will depend on the energies of the tea party and other conservatives, who will be deflated by a nominee whose blurry profile in caution communicates only calculated trimming. Republicans may have found their Michael Dukakis, a technocratic Massachusetts governor who takes his bearings from ‘data’ … Has conservatism come so far, surmounting so many obstacles, to settle, at a moment of economic crisis, for THIS?”

Yes, George, it has. Because, well … who else ya got?

Herman Cain? Rick Perry? Michele Bachmann? Newt Gingrich? Really? Would you be comfortable sticking the title “President” in front of any of …

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Casino gambling a bad bet for Georgia

Three casinos, including one in metro Atlanta, could produce a billion dollars a year for state government, predicts a study commissioned by the Georgia Lottery Corporation.

Now, a billion dollars is a lot of money these days. It could pay a lot of teachers and build a lot of schools, although Georgia legislators would no doubt prefer to use the money to reduce or eliminate state taxes on business.

But is legalized gambling likely to happen? The early line from oddsmakers says no, given the power of religious conservatives in the state. And while I tend to agree with that, money in amounts beginning in “B” has a way of changing minds. For example, while those same religious conservatives have a lot of sway in neighboring Alabama, the casino industry has made serious inroads there in recent years. How? Well, a federal corruption prosecution is now underway in our neighboring state, focusing on charges that legislators were bribed to cast pro-gambling votes.

In the study …

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Why a 2.5 percent growth rate might be better than you think

As we noted this morning, the nation’s gross domestic product grew by 2.5 percent in the 3rd quarter, which isn’t great by any means. It’s better than the 1.3 percent in the 2nd quarter, or the 0.9 percent in the first quarter. But we have to do better. Overall, the projections I’ve seen predict 2.0 percent growth next quarter and on into 2012, although those numbers may now rise a bit.

Again, not great.

It started me wondering, though: How does 2.5 percent growth or 2 percent growth compare to the economic growth rate back when we had an MBA president in the White House, rather than this business-hating Marxist?

For example, what was the average annual real GDP growth in President Bush’s second term, from 2005-2008? Anybody care to guess?

Here, I’ll give you some choices:

A. 1.85 percent
B. 2.65 percent
C. 3.2 percent
D. 4.1 percent

The answer is A., 1.85 percent.

Now, maybe it’s unfair to focus on Bush’s last four years. Maybe we should look at his presidency as a whole: …

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The volatile nexus of politics and college athletics

Apparently, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has a strange understanding of “limited government.”

As sports fans know, the nation’s college athletic programs are playing a high-stakes game of musical chairs at the moment, forcing universities to scramble to make sure they have a conference to play in. West Virginia University, for example, this week thought it had nailed down membership in the powerful Big 12 conference, with a media announcement scheduled for today.

That announcement has been canceled, thanks to McConnell. The Kentucky senator reportedly made a phone call or two, and before you knew it the Big 12 started thinking that inviting West Virginia to join their conference would be a big mistake. Instead, the conference may now extend that offer to the University of Louisville.

McConnell (University of Louisville, class of ‘64) isn’t talking. But Sen. Joe Manchin (West Virginia University, class of ‘70) is making up for it.

“If these outrageous reports have …

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GDP growth doubles over 2nd quarter, signs encouraging

From the Bureau of Economic Analysis:

Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in the third quarter of 2011 (that is, from the second quarter to the third quarter) according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the second quarter, real GDP increased 1.3 percent….

That’s a pretty good report. Not great, but decent. The details of the report are even more encouraging, because they suggest the growth was driven by more business investment and more consumer spending, the two most important factors in a recovery.

Durable-goods purchasing was up 4.1 percent, in contrast to a second-quarter decrease of 5.3 percent. Real nonresidential fixed investment increased 16.3 percent in the third quarter, compared with an increase of 10.3 percent in the second.

And inventory growth was down — “private businesses increased …

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A nation turns its lonely eyes to … Newt?

Mitt Romney continues to pull the same 25 to 30 percent of the GOP base that he’s had all along. The remainder of his party, reluctant to settle for the man from Massachusetts, continues to look around for a champion who can rescue them from his clutches.

For the moment, that champion happens to be Herman Cain, but it’s impossible to believe that can last. Critical as I’ve been of them, I still have more faith in the GOP electorate than to believe they’re serious about making Cain their nominee. But having run through Bachmann and Perry, where else can they turn?

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'Say, um, are you free tonight?'

Well, there’s that portly gentleman with the gray hair over there, the one tugging on his ear and, frankly, trying to look disinterested. The name is Newt Gingrich, I believe.

Listening to Newt these days, it’s pretty clear that he thinks the race may finally be turning in his direction. He looks at Romney and sees a man with a “Nelson Rockefeller problem,” as Gingrich calls it, …

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Sorting out the impact of GOP tax-reform plans

In recent weeks we’ve been confronted by a slew of tax proposals from GOP presidential candidates, ranging from Herman Cain’s “9-9-9″ plan to Rick Perry’s “Cut, Balance and Grow Plan.” For many voters, the details of those various proposals can no doubt get a little hazy and confusing.

To address that problem, I’ve been wanting to put together a comprehensive post addressing all of the plans at once. Thanks to the release of Rick Perry’s plan and a new report on household incomes released Tuesday by the Congressional Budget Office, I finally have the analytical data I needed to pull it all together.

Before we go further, let’s review the CBO findings:

1.) The overall federal tax system became less progressive between 1979 and 2007, thanks largely to the greater relative impact of payroll taxes.

2.) The share of federal transfer payments going to poor Americans also fell sharply, from more than 50 percent to 35 percent. According to CBO, “that shift reflects the growth in …

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