Archive for October, 2011

Herman Cain – live! — explaining latest 9-9-9 version

Here’s a live stream of Herman Cain in Detroit explaining the new improved version of his 9-9-9 plan.

Watch live streaming video from cainforpresident at livestream.com

– Jay Bookman

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Georgia’s elected leaders, looking out for your interests — or not

As predicted here earlier, from the AJC’s Kristi Swartz:

Georgia will consider cutting back weekly unemployment checks by $30 next year to help pay off a federal loan the state assumed to maintain benefits for hundreds of thousands of jobless workers.

But the move is being criticized by advocates of out-of-work Georgians, who say Labor Commissioner Mark Butler is favoring businesses over workers

In a meeting with some of the legislature’s House and Senate leadership Thursday, Butler proposed cutting weekly jobless benefits for top earners to $300 from $330. Any changes would have to be approved by state lawmakers and Gov. Nathan Deal. If a benefits cut is approved, it would not impact workers now drawing checks but those who make new claims.

Advocates for workers would rather the state ask businesses to pay more into the state’s unemployment insurance fund…

The news came on the same day the state labor department released September unemployment figures. The number of jobless …

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Letting Libyans lead their own revolution proves successful

NOTE: This contains elements of an earlier post on the death of Moammar Gadhafi. It is posted here as the electronic version of today’s AJC column:

The death of dictator Moammar Gadhafi at the hands of Libyan rebels constitutes a major victory for the Libyan people and its new government. But as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted on her celebratory visit to Libya’s capital this week, what comes next is the hard part and in many ways the more important part.

No one can say with any certainty where Libya will go from here. A democracy of sorts could emerge; a new dictator could seize power; Islamic radicals could take control. All of those must be acknowledged as possibilities. In Libya, as in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and elsewhere, the transition from an Arab world dominated by cruelly repressive regimes to an Arab world with a more normalized relationship between government and the governed is not going to occur quickly, and it’s not going to occur without …

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Can anybody translate this from the original Hermanese?

Here’s a transcript, from an appearance on John Stossel’s show back in July:

Cain: I’m pro-life from conception, yes

Stossel: Any cases where it should be legal?

Cain: I don’t think government should make that decision. I don’t believe that government should make that decision.

Stossel: People should be free to abort a baby …

Cain: I support life from conception. No, people shouldn’t be just free to abort because if we don’t protect the sanctity of life from conception we will also start to play God relative to life at the end of life.

Stossel: I’m confused on what your position is. If a …

Cain: My position is I’m pro-life, period.

Stossel: … woman is raped she should not be allowed to end the pregnancy?

Cain: That’s her choice. That is not government’s choice. I support life from conception.

Stossel: So abortion should be legal.

Cain: No abortion should not be legal. I believe in the sanctity of life.

Stossel: I’m not getting it. I’m not understanding. If it’s her choice, …

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Gadhafi dead or captured? In any case, his brutal regime is over

No mo' Moammar?

No-a-more Gadhafi

UPDATE 11:15: Mulitiple news outlets and the Libyan government are reporting that Gadhafi has been killed. The Associated Press has moved grisly photos of a dead body that appears to be that of the Libyan leader.

———————

Just days after a celebratory visit to Libya by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former dictator Moammar Gadhafi has reportedly been captured or even killed. The news, if confirmed, would constitute a pretty big win for the NATO policy of supporting anti-Gadhafi rebels without putting Western troops on the ground. Even if Gadhafi remains at large for the time being, his regime is finished.

True, nobody knows with any certainty where Libya will go from here. A democracy of sorts could emerge; a new dictator could seize power; Islamic radicals could take control. The transition from an Arab world dominated by cruelly repressive regimes to an Arab world with a more normalized relationship between the government and the governed is not …

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Citigroup agrees to $285 million civil fraud penalty

From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — Citigroup has agreed to pay $285 million to settle a civil fraud complaint that it misled investors in a $1 billion derivatives deal tied to the United States housing market, then bet against the investors as the housing market began to show signs of distress, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Wednesday.

As in an earlier case involving Goldman Sachs, Citigroup handpicked the assets that the derivatives would be based upon. It sold those derivatives to its own trusting clients, earning a handsome reward for the service, then turned around “shorted” its own securities, in effect placing bets that they would fail.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, one Citi trader bragged in an email at the time that the portfolio was “possibly the best short ever.” When that bet proved correct, the company netted yet another handsome profit.

As the Times reports:

The derivative securities lost value remarkably fast. After the deal closed on Feb. …

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Step right up, get your Cain tax cuts here! Or not.

The Tax Policy Center has conducted a more in-depth analysis on how Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan would redistribute the federal tax burden. It found that 83.8 percent of all taxpayers would experience a tax increase, and in some cases that increase would be substantial.

For example, those making less than $10,000 a year would see their after-tax income fall by 20 percent. Those making $40,000 to $50,000 a year would see their after-tax income fall by 11.1 percent.

Conversely, those making between $500,000 and $1 million would see their after-tax income rise by 11.1 percent. Those making more than $1 million would see their after-tax income rise by 22.4 percent.

But remember, as conservative economist Christine Ries of Georgia Tech reminds us, this is a good thing. “If you’re going to put a good tax reform proposal together, it’s going to be regressive. People are going to have to accept that.”

Here’s a chart, based on the TPC analysis, documenting how much more or less each income …

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‘Occupy’ movement giving voice to legitimate fears

Instead of using police officers to oust protesters from Woodruff Park, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has wisely decided to wait and see, hoping that the passage of time and the threat of sub-freezing temperatures will clear the park for him.

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Maybe it will, but I’m doubtful. Critics of the Occupy movement claim that those involved are not representative of the American mainstream, and they’re right. People who camp for weeks on end as a form of political protest, and who risk or even force their own arrest by acts of civil disobedience, are by definition not mainstream. They are more extreme than the rest of us.

However, that doesn’t mean that they are divorced from mainstream thoughts or concerns. To the contrary, they’re a lot closer to tapping into what’s really happening in America than are the targets of their protests on Wall Street.

On a visit to the scene Tuesday afternoon, I saw a lot of signs quoting well-known outrageous radicals such as Sam Adams, Abraham Lincoln and …

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Gallup: Majority of Americans back pot legalization

This is, I think, one of the more dramatic reversals of public opinion of the past 30 years.

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As Gallup notes, this is the first year in which a majority of Americans polled say they support legalization of marijuana, and the clear trend line suggests that majority is likely to grow. The realities of life offer further reason to think that trend will continue. Support for legalization is lowest among those 65 and older, and highest among those ages 18-29.

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Not surprisingly, Southern Republican conservatives older than 65 are least likely to support legalization. But even among that subgroup, it looks as though roughly a third or more think marijuana should be legal. That’s roughly the same level of support that existed in the nation as a whole just a decade ago.

I’m at a loss to explain that sudden shift in sentiment, because I have no idea what outside force might be driving it. It is, you might say, a homegrown movement.

– Jay Bookman

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Iraq War winding down, but hard lessons linger

Ten years ago this month, in October 2001, secret discussions were already under way in Washington about using the 9/11 terror attacks as a pivot point to launch an invasion of Iraq. In fact, U.S. officials had already begun to leak allegations that Iraq was the leading suspect in the then-recent anthrax attacks, and that Mohammad Atta, the terrorist ringleader, had met in Prague with Iraqi intelligence agents.

Today, however, that chapter of U.S. history is apparently about to come to a close. One of the prime goals of the invasion had been the permanent installation of U.S. military bases in Iraq, to serve as a military counterweight to neighboring Iran. Despite billions of dollars poured into those facilities, that is not to be. While some 40,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq, agreements signed by the U.S. and Iraqi officials back in the Bush administration require that all American forces must be withdrawn by the end of the year. Efforts to renegotiate that deal have failed, …

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