Archive for January, 2012

GOP giving Mitt a reluctant, grudging yes

Fired up by Tea Party fervor and still unhappy with John McCain’s 2008 campaign, a lot of Republicans came into this primary season determined that Mitt Romney would not be their party’s nominee.

Mitt Romney will be their party’s nominee.

According to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, Romney (36 percent) is outpolling his rivals Newt Gingrich (16 percent), Ron Paul (16 percent) and Rick Santorum (13 percent) by at least a 2-1 margin nationally among Republican voters.

For Romney, that represents an improvement of only five percentage points since July, suggesting the stubbornness of Republicans still unhappy at the prospect that he will carry the party’s banner against Barack Obama. However, the fact that he’s still in front despite that reluctance demonstrates the inability of party conservatives to present a credible alternative.

I mean, if the best options you can produce are Gingrich, who continues to demonstrate his characteristic lack of emotional maturity, and …

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How much of what we spend goes to China?

Two researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank in San Francisco asked themselves a question: How much of the money spent by U.S. consumers each year goes for items that are produced in China?

What would your guess be? 10 percent?

20 percent?

As high as 40 percent?

Those researchers, Galina Hale and Bart Hobijn, decided to find out. Their answer may surprise you:

“Although globalization is widely recognized these days, the U.S. economy actually remains relatively closed. The vast majority of goods and services sold in the United States is produced here. In 2010, imports were about 16% of U.S. GDP. Imports from China amounted to 2.5% of GDP…. A total of 88.5% of U.S. consumer spending is on items made in the United States.”

Part of the reason for the surprisingly high percentage of consumer spending on U.S.-produced goods and services is that services comprise two-thirds of personal expenditures, and services are much more likely to be produced in the place where they are …

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A prophetic voice still echoes

mlk

“A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King was a naive man. But time and again, through that naivete, he wielded great power.

Thomas Jefferson, for example, wrote in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.” King — a black man from Georgia whose family was …

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‘Gloom, despair and agony on me ….’

Do you suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia?

And no, it does not mean the fear of friggatriskaidekas. It means the fear of Friday the 13th, the proverbial day of bad luck, as in today, Jan. 13.

How has the day gone for you so far? Personally, I am aware of no calamity that has befallen me, although the day has a few hours yet to run. I figure if I keep knocking on wood and tossing salt over my shoulder every few minutes, I’ll make it through OK, although it does get complicated trying to do all that with my fingers crossed.

For some people, though, there’s no hope at all. As Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan (who died too young in a ‘copter crash) remind us, when you’re born under a bad sign, you got no luck at all.

Unless it’s b–aaaaadddd.

Oh, and just because it’s such a classic song:

And for a complete change of pace:

– Jay Bookman

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How congressional Republicans subvert the Constitution

U.S. Rep. Diane Black, a Republican from Tennessee, has announced she will sponsor a House resolution condemning President Obama for using “recess appointments” to fill vacant slots at the National Labor Relations Board and at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Here’s how she put it in her press release Tuesday:

“It’s astounding to me that the president is claiming these are recess appointments and within his authority, when Congress was not in fact in recess,” said Black.  “These appointments are an affront to the Constitution.  No matter how you look at this, it doesn’t pass the smell test.  I hope the House considers my resolution as soon as we return to Washington so we can send a message to President Obama.”

Let’s look at that last sentence once again, shall we?

“I hope the House considers my resolution as soon as we return to Washington so we can send a message to President Obama.”

Return to Washington from where? From the recess that they’re not having?

And …

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In Georgia, time to halt unlimited gifts from lobbyists

NOTE: A few weeks ago, my conservative colleague Kyle Wingfield and I were discussing the need to strengthen Georgia’s ethics laws, which put no limit on the value of gifts from lobbyists to legislators and make it difficult to hold state officials to modern standards of conduct.

We agreed that it’s an issue in which ideology should play no role and that offers common ground across the political spectrum. So we decided to adopt passage of a tougher ethics law as a joint project for this legislative session. We kick off that effort this week with columns in the Sunday AJC. (Kyle’s has been posted on his blog here.) As my column below explains, the key to success is voters getting involved and demanding to be heard.

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According to an AJC poll released a week ago, 72 percent of registered voters in Georgia believe there ought to be a legal limit on the value of gifts that lobbyists can give those whom we elect to represent us in the General Assembly.

house

Many state legislators …

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Romney career now personifies debate

Above is the full 28-minute piece of anti-Romney propaganda — focused on Bain Capital — that was purchased and released by the Gingrich Super PAC. Personally, I think it relies too little on actual facts and data and too heavily on innuendo and ominous music. I’m also sure that over the next few weeks we’ll get a much fuller and more accurate picture of what Bain actually did with Romney at its helm.

A couple of other points to consider while you watch:

Source: Pew Research Center

Source: Pew Research Center

A new survey by the Pew Research Center reports a 19-point jump since 2009 in the number of Americans who see strong or very strong conflict between the rich and poor in this country. Two-thirds of Americans now perceive such a conflict.

If you look a little deeper, you find that most of that increase has come among white Americans. Two years ago, 43 percent of white Americans perceived such a conflict. Now it’s 65 percent. It is also strongest among the middle class. According to Pew, 71 percent …

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In Iran, nuclear science is a dangerous profession

Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, in the red circle behind Iranian Prime Minister Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the Natanz nuclear facility, was assassinated Wednesday in Tehran by unknown assailants.

Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, in the red circle behind Iranian Prime Minister Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the Natanz nuclear facility, was assassinated Wednesday in Tehran by unknown assailants.

The assassination of a 32-year-old nuclear scientist in Iran this week has removed any remaining doubt that a highly sophisticated campaign is underway targeting those involved in Iran’s nuclear-weapons research. He was the fifth such target to die since 2007; a sixth man survived.

Who’s running it? Nobody knows for sure. A U.S. State Department spokesman has said that “The United States had absolutely nothing to do with this,” and the assumption has been that it’s Israel, which has both the motivation and the means to launch such a campaign. Israeli officials neither confirm nor deny involvement.

As Amir Oren writes in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz:

“… in practice it doesn’t matter if this suspicion is correct, half correct or even less than that. It doesn’t matter whether the assassinations are …

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Elizabeth Warren easily outraises Scott Brown

Elizabeth Warren, a first-time candidate, raised $5.7 million in the final quarter of 2011 for her U.S. Senate race against Scott Brown in Massachusetts. That’s impressive. Brown, the incumbent with a great deal of support from Wall Street, had earlier announced that he raised $3.2 million in that same quarter, with his staff bragging at the time that they were “confident this will be one of the strongest fundraising quarters of any Senate candidate.”

(Overall, Brown has accumulated a total of $12.8 million since his 2010 election, more than twice Warren’s warchest at this point.)

But here’s the number that startled me: According to her campaign, Warren raised that $5.7 million through an average donation of just $64. Think about that. It says a lot about her candidacy, her message and the people who are supporting her.

Again, change is afoot in the land.

– Jay Bookman

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Occupy the GOP

“You can’t blindly salute every possible behavior by every businessman in the country and say, ‘gosh, if you’re critical of somebody, you’re anti-capitalist.”

– Newt Gingrich

“You have to ask the question: Is capitalism really about the ability of a handful of rich people to manipulate the lives of thousands of people and walk off with the money, or is that in fact a little bit of a flawed system?”

– Newt Gingrich

“We have allowed these greedy people on Wall Street to take advantage of small companies that may be going through some tough times. And instead of trying to work with them to find a way to keep the jobs and get them back on their feet it’s all about how much money can we make, how quick can we make it and then get out of town and find the next carcass to feed upon.”

– Rick Perry

Ladies and gentlemen, I think the ground may be shifting beneath our feet in ways that are hard to appreciate. If you’re hearing rhetoric like that, from people like that, running in a …

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