Archive for May, 2012

John Edwards, not guilty and also not innocent

John Edwards is guilty of many things — stupidity, venality, arrogance and a callous cruelty among others — but a jury of his peers has found him not guilty of Count Three in the six-count federal indictment against him.

The jury deadlocked on the remaining five charges, and the judge in the case has declared a mistrial on those counts.

For the time being, at least, the verdict means that Edwards has won his gamble not to admit guilt and to fight the charges against him, which focus on alleged abuse of campaign finance laws. I can’t claim to have followed the case closely enough to have an opinion on the legal outcome, in part because as indicated above, I had already reached a conclusion about the man himself, and it wasn’t good. It was enough to know that the country had dodged a bullet in not elevating him to the vice presidency or higher, and that his reputation was forever ruined.

As Roy Barnes, a former Edwards supporter, put it recently, “There are some people who ought …

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Appeals court overturns federal gay-marriage law

A federal appeals court in Boston has ruled unanimously that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, in effect reaching the same conclusion as the Obama Justice Department.

The case is almost certainly destined to be decided by the Supreme Court, a fact the appeals court noted in delaying implementation of its ruling until the Supreme Court gets a shot at it.

The ruling is certainly founded in logic and reason. The court ruled that the federal government cannot confer benefits on those who were married under Georgia law or Kansas law and then deny benefits to those married under Massachusetts law, which allows gay couples to marry.

In one example, federal law allows the spouses of military veterans to be buried alongside them in military cemeteries. But DOMA would deny that right to gay spouses of veterans. The court found that violates both the right of gay Americans to equal protection under the law and violates the authority of states to regulate marriage.

– Jay …

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The race for the White House: What the numbers say

On this last day of May, let’s take a look at where we stand in the presidential race, shall we?

In short, it looks like a tight one.

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Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are tied in both the Gallup (46/46) and Rasmussen (45/45) tracking polls, with Obama holding a narrow two-point lead in the RealClearPolitics average of national polls. (The most recent Fox poll — taken mid-month — put Obama up by seven.)

RCP’s state-by-state results favor Obama so far, with the incumbent holding 230 of the 270 electoral votes needed for re-election and Romney holding 170, with 131 too close to call.

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But as Stu Rothenberg points out at Roll Call, the stars may even be aligning for a repeat of the 2000 debacle in which Al Gore got 540,000 more votes than George W. Bush but lost in the electoral college:

“Most of the same states are in play as were in 2000, and any close popular vote outcome raises the possibility of a split decision, especially because Obama is likely to “waste” large numbers of …

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Fox News lets the mask slip once again

This is not a Romney campaign ad. Not technically anyway.

It is a video produced by the Fox News Channel as a news product, a “fair and balanced” review of the Obama presidency to date. It was broadcast on the channel this morning.

Twice.

Since then, it has become such an embarrassment that Fox has made it vanish from its website.

UPDATE: The Fox PR folks emailed, asking that the following response be posted:

“The package that aired on FOX & Friends was created by an associate producer and was not authorized at the senior executive level of the network. This has been addressed with the show’s producers.”
–Bill Shine, Executive Vice President of Programming, FOX News Channel

– Jay Bookman

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Is this gov’t by the people, for the people?

In his historic Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln spoke somberly of the horrific sacrifice that had been made by so many so “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

I do not believe that this is the government of the people, by the people and for the people that Lincoln described, and that our Founding Fathers had earlier fought so hard to create:

From Politico:

Republican superPACs and other outside groups shaped by a loose network of prominent conservatives – including Karl Rove, the Koch brothers and Tom Donohue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – plan to spend roughly $1 billion on November’s elections for the White House and control of Congress, according to officials familiar with the groups’ internal operations.

That total includes previously undisclosed plans for newly aggressive spending by the Koch brothers, who are steering funding to build sophisticated, county-by-county operations in key states. …

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A bit more on conservatives, liberals and civil rights

I see where Kevin Williamson of National Review has responded to my critique of his thesis that the Republican Party is “the party of civil rights”.

According to Williamson, my “not very smart take” is that “Sure, Republicans were good on civil rights for a long time, but those were liberal Republicans, so you can’t claim them, since they’d be Democrats now.”

While that statement has some truth in it, it was not my argument at all. As I wrote, asking which party is the party of civil rights is simply the wrong question; the battle lines back then were much more clearly drawn between liberal and conservative than between Democrat and Republican. And as history demonstrates, conservatives taking credit for the civil rights revolution is like Mitt Romney swooping in to take credit for rescuing the U.S. auto industry.

But if you’re interested, go read Williamson and draw your own conclusions.

– Jay Bookman

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Why the July T-splost may be in trouble

Take two dogs and toss them each a fresh bone. What happens next?

If the dogs get along well, they’ll sit there contentedly, gnawing away. But in other cases the dogs will eye each other warily, each one suspicious that the other one got the better, meatier bone. That often ends in trouble.

And it’s not just true of dogs. That example of canine dynamics also helps to illustrate why the transportation sales-tax referendum scheduled for July 31 may be in trouble. Too many constituencies have their own unique if contradictory reasons for opposing it. Black, white, Republican, Democratic, suburban, urban, liberal, conservative — arguments are available for each group to justify saying no.

Some complain that the project list is too heavy on transit, others that transit is given short shrift. People in the suburbs complain that Fulton and DeKalb counties get too much of the investment, while Fulton and DeKalb residents complain that they aren’t given full credit for the one-penny …

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‘… debt-ceiling standoff is an act of economic sabotage’

With congressional Republicans promising to create yet another standoff on the debt ceiling, Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, professors at the highly regarded Wharton School of Business, write in Bloomberg about the economic consequences of the first crisis last summer.

They note, for example:

“Growth in nonfarm payrolls decelerated to an average 88,000 a month during the three months of the debt-ceiling impasse, compared with an average of 176,000 in the first five months of 2011. Payroll growth subsequently recovered and has averaged 187,000 jobs a month since. Despite the rebound in job growth, employment is likely still below where it would otherwise have been.”

And consumer confidence — critical in this recovery — took an even greater and more spectacular tumble, as these numbers from Gallup demonstrate:

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They conclude:

“All told, the data tell us that a debt-ceiling standoff is an act of economic sabotage. The only way to avoid this conclusion is to argue that …

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Why does GOP continue to tolerate Trump?

To ease us back into the political world after a great holiday weekend, a semi-playful little question:

What is it with the Republicans and Donald Trump?

The guy’s a Class A jerk who’s still out there peddling the toxic nonsense that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. He’s also publicly lobbying for a prime speaking spot at the GOP convention in Tampa, and for all we know, he may actually get one.

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I mean, Mike Huckabee has seriously suggested Trump as a replacement for Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and Mitt Romney continues to play along with the fool as well, both seeking and touting Trump’s endorsement. Romney has even agreed to appear at a major fundraiser hosted by Trump tonight in Las Vegas. (Newt Gingrich is expected to attend as well, creating a concentration of egomania that may very well skew the Earth’s gravitational field.)

And how does Romney respond to the question that he lends credibility to Trump and his birther nonsense by publicly appearing by his …

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In Fallujah, Iwo Jima, Chickamauga and … in Flanders fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

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