Archive for October, 2011

Why Cain’s lack of knowledge, interest doesn’t matter

UPDATE: 2:18 p.m.

Here’s a sadly hilarious report from Rasmussen:

“Whether Herman Cain’s surge in the polls is temporary or has staying power, he’s enjoying a big enough bounce to take a very slight lead over President Obama in a hypothetical 2012 matchup. At the moment, the Georgia businessman is the only Republican with a lead of any kind over Obama, although former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has held a similar advantage several times and is currently trailing the president by just two points.”

Rasmussen polling puts it at Cain 43, Obama 41.

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Under President George W. Bush, the neoconservative movement enjoyed moments of great influence, helping to drive the nation into an ill-fated, ill-planned invasion and occupation of Iraq.

So what does it mean that in 2011, a leading candidate for the GOP nomination doesn’t even know what “neoconservative” means?

In discussing foreign policy on “Meet the Press” Sunday, David Gregory asked Herman Cain whether he …

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No, it’s not your imagination: Weather is really getting freaky

If you’re like me, you have this vague sense that the weather in recent years has become more and more weird, more extreme. Climate experts have been predicting such a trend since the early ’80s as a consequence of global warming, and at least anecdotally, it seems to have come true.

On the other hand, maybe it’s just the fact that we have so much more media covering the weather these days. With an entire cable channel dedicated to covering weather stories around the globe, with tornado chasers and hurricane chasers becoming pop-culture figures … maybe things haven’t changed much at all.

But then there’s this:

catastrophes

The number of geophysical events is more or less even. But the number of storms (in light green), such as the tornadoes that ravaged Alabama and north Georgia this spring, has risen substantially. The number of floods (dark green) is up significantly, as is the number of droughts (orange) such as those that have inflicted Texas and south Georgia.

The chart has been put …

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A great weekend for some outdoor music ahead

It looks to be a beautiful autumn weekend, with clear sunny skies, low humidity and highs around 80.  With winter coming on, we probably don’t have too many of those left, so I plan to be out and about as much as possible.

It’s great weather for the Decatur Beer Fest, but alas, tickets are sold out and I moved too slowly.  Fortunately, right down the street from me, the Candler Park Fall Fest will be in full swing, sponsored by Sweetwater Brewing and Barefoot Wines. Bands will be playing all day Saturday and Sunday, artists booths will be selling their wares, and thousands of people will wandering through, checking out the offerings as well as each other.

There must be something very basic about such gatherings, because they occur in every culture, in every time frame of human existence. People just hanging out, enjoying the scene. To get you in the mood, here’s a young man by the name of Jackie Greene, playing an old Grateful Dead tune called New Speedway Boogie and …

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Obama deploys 100 combat troops to Africa

The deployment is said to be temporary, with U.S. troops empowered to fight only in self-defense. Here’s the letter from President Obama to leaders of the House and Senate, informing Congress of the action and explaining the mission and its goals:

October 14, 2011

For more than two decades, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has murdered, raped, and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women, and children in central Africa. The LRA continues to commit atrocities across the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan that have a disproportionate impact on regional security.

Since 2008, the United States has supported regional military efforts to pursue the LRA and protect local communities. Even with some limited U.S. assistance, however, regional military efforts have thus far been unsuccessful in removing LRA leader Joseph Kony or his top commanders from the battlefield. In the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery …

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Cain’s plan will hike your taxes – unless you’re rich

Herman Cain indicating which direction your taxes are headed under his "9-9-9" plan.

Herman Cain indicating which direction your taxes are headed under his "9-9-9" plan.

A few days ago, I ran a back-of-the envelope assessment of Herman Cain’s “9-9-9″ plan, concluding that it would raise taxes on the poor and middle class — the ones already struggling in this economy — and give the wealthy a hefty tax cut.

As The Washington Post reports, economists across the political spectrum are now coming to the same conclusion:

“Right now, we have a strongly progressive income tax. High-income people are paying a higher share of income in taxes than lower-income people,” said Alan D. Viard, a former Federal Reserve Bank economist and a resident scholar at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute. “That is a pattern that would be disrupted by adoption of the Cain plan.”

…. Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, is working on an analysis of Cain’s signature policy proposal. Although the plan’s details remain sketchy, …

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Regional leaders coalesce behind lure of $6.1 billion

Ordinarily, a roomful of politicians standing up and applauding each other’s courage and wisdom is a less than inspiring sight. But in the case of the Atlanta Transportation Roundtable, they probably deserved it.

For months, county commissioners and mayors from the 10-county metro region have been wrangling over how to spend an estimated $6.1 billion in transportation money over the next decade. If metro area voters give their approval next year, the money would be raised through a regionwide one-penny sales tax.

At several points in the process, it seemed as if the obstacles to agreement might become too large to overcome. It was only natural that every jurisdiction would demand its share and maybe a little more, and equally natural that egos and reputations would come into play. Roundtable members also had to balance the expectations and fears of constituents back in their home counties and cities against the reality that compromise was required in the name of the region. …

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A sane person’s guide to ‘Fast and Furious’

One Republican congressman has suggested that Attorney General Eric Holder ought to be arrested and face criminal charges of being an accessory to murder, and that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and even President Obama might be implicated.

Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association calls it “the biggest cover-up since Watergate” and describes Operation Fast and Furious as “just one part of Barack Obama’s agenda to attack gun owners and our Second Amendment rights.” Conservative bloggers are even arguing that the “Fast and Furious” case constitutes grounds for impeachment, with claims that it’s “the Reichstag fire of the Second Amendment.”

An excitable little bunch, aren’t they?

For those not deeply entrenched in far-right conspiracy theories, let’s begin with the basics. “Fast and Furious” was an undercover operation launched out of Phoenix in 2009 by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The investigation …

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Warren Buffett has a lot of company

Warren Buffett has a lot more company than I woud have imagined, it appears.

From Bloomberg:

“About 25 percent of millionaires in the U.S. pay federal taxes at lower effective rates than a significant portion of middle-income taxpayers, according to a legislative analysis.

Preferential treatment of investment income and the reduced impact of payroll taxes on high earners lets about 94,500 millionaires pay taxes at a lower rate than 10.4 million “moderate-income taxpayers,” representing about 10 percent of those making less than $100,000 a year, according to the report by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service dated Oct. 7.”

– Jay Bookman

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Solving a problem on the backs of the jobless

Back when times were good, Georgia businesses lobbied state government to slash the amount of money that they were required by law to set aside to pay future unemployment benefits. You know, just to have in case things turned sour.

It should not surprise you to learn that the request was granted.

Contributions to the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund were cut well below recommended levels, so that by the time the recession hit, the amount of money in the fund wasn’t close to sufficient. What we should have set aside in times of abundance wasn’t there when times turned hard.

As a result, the state has been forced to borrow more than $700 million from the federal government to pay unemployment benefits and now has to pay that money back, with interest. So where’s that money going to come from?

Probably not from business. Mark Butler, head of the Georgia Department of Labor, has commissioned a task force to study the problem. The report is in, but Butler has said he won’t …

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The GOP’s slow, reluctant embrace of Mitt Romney

The Republican Party does not want to nominate Mitt Romney as its champion against Barack Obama.

But it looks as though Romney will be its nominee nonetheless. The party has left itself no real choice.

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Selecting anyone else who shared the stage with Romney Tuesday night in New Hampshire would do such violence to logic, the party’s future and the national interest as to be almost unthinkable. And I include that word “almost” solely because in the wake of their 2008 defeat, so many conservative Republicans told themselves that they would never again make the mistake of nominating a moderate who merely masqueraded as a conservative. It became a point of pride: Next time, they would put up the real thing.

Well, Romney is not the real thing, and they know it, and that knowledge gnaws at many Republicans. But they have run out a series of proposed alternatives, from Donald Trump to Michele Bachmann to Rick Perry, pumped them up in the polls and then found them sorely lacking.

Last …

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