Archive for June, 2012

Scalia plays politician; Romney plays possum

In another sign of just how screwy things have gotten, Mitt Romney, the GOP nominee for president, steadfastly refuses to get involved in the political debate about immigration. He refuses to offer his own ideas about a national immigration strategy*, and he won’t voice an opinion on President Obama’s controversial decision not to deport illegal aliens who were brought here as young children.

But worry not: A supposedly nonpolitical Supreme Court justice, Antonin Scalia, is eager to jump into the political fray where Romney is too meek to tread. In his radical dissent to today’s ruling on the Arizona immigration law, Scalia argues that Arizona and the other 49 states have the right to exercise “what most would consider the defining characteristic of sovereignty: the power to exclude from the sovereign’s territory people who have no right to be there.”

“Even in its international relations, the federal government must live with the inconvenient fact that it is a Union of …

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Supremes overturn much of Arizona immigration law

Reading the Supreme Court’s decision largely overturning the Arizona immigration law, which served as the model for much of Georgia’s immigration law as well….

Court notes that “Removal is a civil matter, and one of its principal features is the broad discretion exercised by immigration officials, who must decide whether to pursue removal at all.” That suggests President Obama was well within his constitutional powers with his mini-DREAM act order last week.

The majority opinion states:

“It is fundamental that foreign countries concerned about the status, safety, and security of their nationals in the United States must be able to confer and communicate on this subject with one national sovereign, not the 50 sepa­rate States….

Discretion in the enforcement of immigration law em­braces immediate human concerns. Unauthorized work­ers trying to support their families, for example, likely pose less danger than alien smugglers or aliens who com­mit a serious crime. The …

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An alarming snapshot of long-term economic trends

Companion charts, drawn with data compiled by the St. Louis Federal Reserve and put together by Henry Blodget of Business Insider:

First, after-tax corporate profits as a share of gross domestic product:

corporate-profits-as-percent-of-gdp-1

Second, employee wages and salaries as a share of gross domestic product:

wages-to-gdp-1

You can draw a variety of lessons and conclusions from such charts. But I’ll start with three:

1.) The notion that corporations are overtaxed and overregulated and can’t turn a profit is simply absurd. The whines of victimization from our titans of business have no basis in reality.

2.) The Great Recession, as tough as it is, does not account for the trends, which have occurred over several decades.

3.) You could argue that if the share of GDP devoted to wages and salaries has fallen to a record low, it’s because American workers have grown lazy and stupid. Given that the two charts change right around the time of Ronald Reagan’s inauguration, you could also argue that it is somehow being driven by …

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A musical soundtrack to a spiritual journey

Maybe the best part of Friday night’s Travelin’ Music segment — even better than the music itself — is the insight it has offered into nonpolitical aspects of many of those who post here regularly. It has served as a necessary reminder that humanity transcends politics, no matter how fervently that political opinion might be expressed.

Take, for example, tonight’s guest posting from that lover of all things platinum and black, our provocateur du droit and skeptic by way of Harvey Mudd, Le Bruno:

“Part of being human means experiencing hunger. Every day, we hunger for food, which we can easily alleviate with a nice meal. Spiritual hunger is a little more complex and not so easily satisfied. Though many seem to find spiritual comfort in traditional organized religions, that has never been the case for me. While most promote faith, I advocate skepticism. While others seek certainty, I embrace uncertainty.

The closest I come to spiritual peace is while listening to music. …

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T-SPLOST ballot language misleading

Passage of the proposed one-penny regional sales tax in late July is critically important to the economic well-being of metro Atlanta and Georgia. However, even those high stakes don’t justify the unfair description that voters will see printed on the July ballot, which claims that the proposal “provides for local transportation projects to create jobs and reduce traffic congestion with citizen oversight.”

Opponents of the transportation tax, including the tea-party movement, have criticized that wording as “marketing language” that “improperly promotes a ballot question.” And they’re absolutely right. That’s exactly what it does.

Unfortunately, under longstanding Georgia law and court rulings, state officials are given a great deal of discretion in how ballot questions and proposed constitutional amendments can be worded.

In a 1974 case, Sears v. State, the Supreme Court of Georgia tried to warn the Legislature against the temptation “to interject its own value judgments …

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The other side of Romney’s success at Bain

Mitt Romney has made his success in the business world a central theme of his presidential campaign, suggesting that it demonstrates a level of economic understanding that President Obama cannot match.

But as the Washington Post documents, Romney and his company, Bain Capital, achieved that success in part by taking jobs once held by American workers and moving them overseas to places such as China and India, where those jobs could be performed more cheaply:

During the nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain, a private equity firm that he founded, it owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

While economists debate whether the massive outsourcing of American jobs over the last generation was inevitable, Romney in recent months has lamented the toll it’s taken on the U.S. …

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Romney dawdles and ducks on immigration

Mitt Romney spoke today to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, where he was expected to finally take a position on President Obama’s recent decision not to deport illegal immigrants who were brought here as children and are now seeking an education or serving in the military.

The remarks were much-anticipated. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, for example, has been saying this week that he didn’t want to take a position on Obama’s move until Romney had done so, explaining that Romney “is the leader of our party from now until November.”

However, Romney’s speech did nothing to clarify his position, as you can see for yourself:

“For two years, this president had huge majorities in the House and Senate – he was free to pursue any policy he pleased. But he did nothing to advance a permanent fix for our broken immigration system. Instead, he failed to act until facing a tough re-election and trying to secure your vote.

Last week, the …

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A lot of baloney flying fast and furious

As previously noted, the “Fast and Furious” program run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. attorney in Arizona was a badly conceived operation made worse by incompetent leadership. It began as an effort to track the illegal flow of guns from U.S. gun shops across the border to Mexican drug cartels, with the hope of using the information to break up those cartels, and in the end it may have contributed to scores of deaths, including the death of a U.S. Border Patrol officer.

Nobody — with the exception of some who were directly involved — disputes that it was a bad idea gone wrong. And as a result, most of those in the ATF and the U.S. attorney’s office in Arizona who planned and led the effort have been fired or reassigned.

So what’s the controversy in Washington all about? Republicans have two working theories about Fast and Furious, and through the House Government Oversight Committee are attempting to find evidence to support those pet …

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Bill Kristol offers solution: Yep, you guessed it

War.

Whatever the problem, the ever-eager Bill Kristol believes that other people dying can solve it. The ardent cheerleader of our invasion of Iraq, where more than 4,400 U.S. soldiers died for a cause yet to reveal itself, now champions that same “solution” for Iran, a much more difficult problem. And in a piece in the Weekly Standard, complete with requisite Churchill quote, he and co-author Jamie Fly argue that if President Obama doesn’t do it, Congress should intervene:

Bill Kristol

Bill Kristol

“President Obama says a nuclear Iran is unacceptable. The real and credible threat of force is probably the last hope of persuading the Iranian regime to back down. So: Isn’t it time for the president to ask Congress for an Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iran’s nuclear program?

Instead of running away from it, administration officials could be putting the military option front and center and ensuring it is seen as viable. And if the administration flinches, Congress could …

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Tonight, travelin’ music from a true professional

Ladies and gentlemen, this evening’s guest host for Travelin’ Music is certainly well-qualified for the task, given the tens of thousands of miles he travels each year drivin’ that heavily laden beer truck over the byways, highways and backroads of Georgia, all just to keep our whistles wetted. He is a pillar upon which Western Civilization has come to depend, such as it is. Even now, I suspect, he’s making delivery after delivery on a busy Friday afternoon, stocking up the stores and bars before high-tailing it back to the missus at Simpson’s Trailer Park for supper.

So to Redneck Convert, SAAAAAH-loot!:

Well, Mr. Bookman, I ain’t much for writing, but I’d be mighty pleased if you could devote a Friday night to the music of Merle Haggard. We all know old Merle’s a fine singer, but he’s also about the best beer salesman we got. And it ain’t just a matter of “Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down.” Count on it—when Merle shows up in Atlanta in August at that Conservatory or whatever …

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