Archive for April, 2012

Would Romney have gotten bin Laden? Well, maybe


In 2007, then-candidate Barack Obama made it clear what he would do as president if he learned that Osama bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan and that U.S. forces had a chance to take him out:

“If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and (Pakistani) President Musharraf won’t act, we will.”

His then-opponent, Hillary Clinton, took a similar stance:

“If we had actionable intelligence that Osama bin Laden or other high-value targets were in Pakistan I would ensure that they were targeted and killed or captured.”

However, another presidential candidate took issue with such statements, as Reuters reported at the time:

“I do not concur in the words of Barack Obama in a plan to enter an ally of ours… I don’t think those kinds of comments help in this effort to draw more friends to our effort,” (Mitt) Romney told reporters on the campaign trail….

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who is one of the Republican front-runners, said U.S. troops …

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Victor Davis Hanson and the non-existent ‘investors’ strike’

Victor Davis Hanson, writing in National Review, repeats a claim that has become all too familiar. According to Hansen, investors are so afraid of and offended by the Obama administration that they have refused to invest, in effect conducting a “sit-down strike … that has paralyzed the country and has been largely ignored by the media.”

Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson

Well, let’s ignore it no longer. However, before we try to assess the validity of Hanson’s argument, we should test the assertion on which it is based. Has there in fact been a sit-down strike by capital “that has paralyzed the country and has been largely ignored by the media?”

Oddly, Hansen offers not a shred of evidence or data to support that contention. He simply assumes that it is true and assumes that his readers will assume that it’s true.

It is not true. In fact, it is demonstrably false.

This is not a new meme, of course. Conservatives have been making this identical claim from the very beginning of the Obama …

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Your morning chuckle, courtesy of Obama and Kimmel

Politico has posted its lists of the 15 best jokes told by Barack Obama at the White House Correspondents Dinner, and the 18 best jokes told by host Jimmy Kimmel.

Personally, I think Obama had the better writers, but you can judge for yourself. Here’s my choice for the best five by each of them, in no particular order:

First, Obama:

– “Now, some have said I blame too many problems on my predecessor, but let’s not forget that’s a practice that was initiated by George W. Bush.”

– “Jimmy got his start years ago on ‘The Man Show.’ In Washington, that’s what we call a congressional hearing on contraception.”

– “Recently, [Romney's] campaign criticized me for slow-jamming the news with Jimmy Fallon. In fact, I understand Governor Romney was so incensed he asked his staff if he could get some equal time on ‘The Merv Griffin Show.’”

– “Look at this party. We’ve got men in tuxes, women in gowns, fine wine, first-class entertainment. I was just relieved to learn this was not a …

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‘The core of the problem lies with the Republican Party’

Thomas E. Mann of the Brookings Institution and Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, two of the most respected non-partisan political analysts in Washington, go ahead and say it:

“We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.”

Yup. That sums it up nicely, I’m afraid.

And as they …

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Travelin’ to a place I haven’t been (yet)

They’re kicking off the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival today, and once again, for reasons that are unknown to me, I am not in attendance.

Some day — and I mean someday soon — that injustice must be rectified.

In the meantime, I must console myself with cuts like this, from the great Kermit Ruffins. You gotta love those horns and that bad bad piano player. And that ain’t no maybe baby.

Have a good weekend y’all. If you happen to be at the Inman Park Festival and see someone who looks like me, say hello.

It’ll probably be my younger brother. :>)

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Paul Ryan erases Ayn Rand from the picture

With his new-found high profile, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan is now on the “oft-mentioned list” of potential vice presidential candidates. Not coincidentally, he also finds himself trying to defend brutal cuts in services to the poor and others in need that he has proposed in his “Path to Prosperity” budget.

So, in an interview published Thursday in National Review, Ryan made it a point to dismiss as “urban myth” the notion that he draws inspiration and guidance from Ayn Rand, the libertarian philosopher-queen who celebrates the self over all else and who dismisses the very notion of a social contract.

Ryan was pretty explicit:

“I reject her philosophy. It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas. Don’t give me Ayn Rand.”

I find urban myths a fascinating phenomenon. For …

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Politics, not policy, will drive transportation money

Georgia has a long, unfortunate history of making transportation decisions based on the needs and whims of politicians rather than the data-driven advice of transportation professionals.

With his appointment of Toby Carr as the state’s transportation planning director, the most important transportation job in the state, Gov. Nathan Deal has made it pretty clear that tradition isn’t going to change anytime soon.

Carr may be a fine person. However, he has no training in transportation engineering or planning. His professional background and area of expertise is in politics instead.

According to a short bio provided by the governor’s office, Carr has served as executive director of the state Republican Party. He was also executive director of Deal’s transition team.

In 2008, he was campaign coordinator for the House Republican caucus, and he also worked as a political consultant. He has bachelor degrees in finance and agricultural engineering. His only apparent background in …

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Karl Rove takes on President Cool

Yesterday I posted video of President Obama’s appearance with Jimmy Fallon, suggesting that in a contest for the youth vote, Mitt Romney might find it hard to compete.

So here’s the video response from Karl Rove’s American Crossroads:

As subtle as a 2-by-4.

Of course, Rove knows cool.

– Jay Bookman

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The real student-loan scandal

Charlie Harper, writing at Peach Pundit, notes the worrisome parallels between the college-loan situation and the housing-loan bubble just before it burst a few years ago:

“Virtually anyone that applied got a loan. There was no consideration given to how the loan would be repaid. No calculations for repayment ability were required. Most borrowers overestimated the value of their purchase and underestimated the income that would be available in the future to retire the debt. The government subsidized an unlimited amount of borrowing, and then the problem was so large that when an alarm was sounded, too many people were invested in the status quo that the system could not be changed until it was too late.”

There’s a lot of truth to that. Outstanding student loan debt hit an estimated $1 trillion this week. And according to the most recent numbers available, more and more students are defaulting on those loans. The annual default rate has risen from 6.7 percent in 2007 to …

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Romney, Obama fighting for the young vote

One of the battlegrounds of the 2012 presidential campaign will be younger voters, as the Associated Press reports:

WASHINGTON — Once thought to be solidly behind President Barack Obama, younger voters burdened by a bleak employment picture, high gas prices and student loan debt are being aggressively wooed by the Democrat and his likely Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.

In 2008, Obama had a 34-point advantage over Republican Sen. John McCain among voters under age 30. He won about two-thirds of the vote in that age group.

But a new Harvard poll suggests the president may face a harder sales job with younger voters this time around. Obama led Romney by 12 points among those ages 18-24, according to the survey. Among those in the 25-29 age group, Obama held a 23-point advantage.

To keep that advantage among young voters, Obama is campaigning to keep interest rates on student loans at their current level. Unless Congress takes action by July, those rates are scheduled to …

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