Archive for June, 2012

Obama offers temporary reprieve to young illegal immigrants

It’s not the DREAM Act, which would give permanent residence — and a later chance for citizenship to illegal immigrants who were brought here as young children, who graduate from U.S. high schools and who earn a college degree or serve in the U.S. military.

But as the Associated Press reports, it is a step in that direction:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives. The election-year initiative addresses a top priority of an influential Latino electorate that has been vocal in its opposition to administration deportation policies.

The policy change, described to The Associated Press by two senior administration officials, will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants who have lived in fear of deportation…

“”Many of these young people have already contributed to our country in significant ways,” (Homeland Security Director Janet) …

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Billionaire Adelson: ‘Limitless’ $$$ for Romney

From Forbes:

“Forbes has confirmed that billionaire Sheldon Adelson, along with his wife Miriam, has donated $10 million to the leading Super PAC supporting presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney -– and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. A well-placed source in the Adelson camp with direct knowledge of the casino billionaire’s thinking says that further donations will be “limitless.”

Adelson, who has built Las Vegas Sands into an global casino empire, will do “whatever it takes” to defeat Obama, this source says. And given that Adelson is worth $24.9 billion –- and told Forbes in a recent rare interview about his political giving that he had been willing to donate as much as $100 million to his initial presidential preference, Newt Gingrich –- that “limitless” description telegraphs potential nine-digit support of Romney.”

This is the world wrought by the naivete and partisanship of the Roberts court.

– Jay Bookman

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Ga. now nation’s worst in foreclosure: What it portends

Georgia, long the nation’s leader in the number of bank failures, is now the epicenter of its foreclosure crisis as well.

According to the latest numbers from RealtyTrak, one in every 300 housing units in the state is going through foreclosure, more than double the national average of one in every 639 housing units.

“Georgia’s foreclosure rate leapfrogged the foreclosure rates in Arizona, Florida, California and Nevada,” RealtyTrak reports, jumping 33 percent in May over April to become the nation’s highest.

That ought to be compelling evidence that the housing market in this state has been permanently altered. The previous growth model of suburban and ex-urban development — cheap open land served by long highways converted to large-lot housing — is over and is not coming back. But I don’t see that realization informing much of our public debate over transportation planning, zoning and related issues.

A look at the county-by-county foreclosure rates (see interactive map below) …

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Fathers and flags, long may they wave

I am reminded that today, June 14, is Flag Day. So, with Father’s Day right around the corner as well, I thought I’d publish the text of a commentary I did a few years ago on NPR about flags and dads to mark the Fourth of July. (The audio is available here, for those who prefer to listen):

“What we needed, Dad said, was a flagpole.

Not one of those flimsy ones that’s just stuck on the side of the house with their puny little American flag hanging from it. What we needed was a real flagpole, a flagpole tall enough to put a real American flag rippling in the breeze where it belonged, where you had to look up at the sky to see it. And we needed to put that new flagpole right there in the middle of the yard.

So one weekend in the summer of 1967, we brought out the shovels, the concrete, the gravel. Dad and a couple of his buddies dug a deep hole and in a few hours, they had planted themselves a tall flagpole. The next morning, Dad’s color guard — me and my little brother, Alan — …

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Poor, poor pitiful and put-upon Wall Street…

I remember a time back in the early days of the Tea Party movement — maybe you do too — when anger at Wall Street and its overweening influence on Washington formed a central part of its critique of the American political scene.

Somewhere along the line, however, that anger and discontent disappeared. I suspect it happened when big money came along to co-opt the movement for its own purposes, making it inconvenient to rail at those who were now paying the movement’s bills. But a lingering memory of that not-too-distant history came to mind this morning as I read a piece at Politico headlined “Wall Street’s vote: Romney by a landslide”.

The piece reports:

Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and the super PAC supporting it are outraising Obama among financial-sector donors $37.1 million to $4.8 million.

Near the front of the pack are 19 Obama donors from 2008 who are giving big to Romney.

The 19 have already given $4.8 million to Romney’s presidential campaign and the super …

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Ga. legislators face starvation on $100-a-meal limit

Most Georgia voters are appalled by the realization that under state law, there is literally no limit on the value of gifts that a lobbyist can bestow upon a state legislator. And while many of those voters would prefer a limit of zero, as many other states have, they would accept a $100 gift limit as a compromise.

Unfortunately, a lot of state legislators don’t see a $100 limit as a compromise. They see the very concept of a limit as an undeserved, media-driven attack on their God-given prerogative to be wined, dined and entertained lavishly at lobbyists’ expense. In fact, it’s revealing to see them fight so hard to cling to gifts that they simultaneously claim to not really want much in the first place. Their behavior negates their rhetoric.

In the interest of good government, however, I’d like to try to ease fears under the Gold Dome by taking a few moments to explore what life under a $100 gift limit might look like.

Let’s imagine that you’re a legislator and it’s the …

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Hillary: Russia arming Syria with attack ‘copters

One would assume that a player of Hillary Clinton’s experience would not make such a public charge unless she had considerable confidence that it was true and that she was prepared for the blowback it might create.

That said, from the New York Times:

“The Syria conflict fell deeper into crisis Tuesday as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton publicly accused Russia of supplying attack helicopters to the Syrian government.

Her accusation came as international cease-fire monitors in Syria aborted a fact-finding trip after they came under assault by an angry mob and gunfire, and the top United Nations peacekeeping official said Syria was already in a state of civil war.

Those developments — coupled with a newly released United Nations report that accused the Syrian military of using Syrians as young as 8 as human shields for troops — overshadowed fresh diplomatic efforts by Kofi Annan, the special envoy to Syria, to advance a peace plan that that has basically been ignored …

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The consequences of vanishing wealth

median

You’ve probably seen the headline version: “U.S. families see prosperity plunge” is how this morning’s AJC front page puts it. And unfortunately, “plunge” is an accurate term.

The median American family — the mythical family at the dead center of the U.S. economy, with half of families being richer and half being poorer — saw its net worth plunge from $126,400 in September of 2007 to just $77,300 in September of 2010, a decline of $49,100 in perceived wealth in just three years’ time.

Again, “perceived” wealth is the accurate term. Much of that net worth came in the form of rapidly increasing home values, a rise that ended right about the time that the 2007 survey by the Federal Reserve was being conducted. And as we know, it wasn’t just homeowners or Fed survey-takers who perceived that home value as real wealth that could be counted upon and even spent. So did credit-card companies, banks, mortgage lenders, security brokers, Wall Street, purchasers of credit default …

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Jeb: Reagan, Bush Sr. ‘would have hard time’ in new GOP

111219_jeb_bush_ap_328

From the New York Times:

“Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida said his father, George Bush, and Ronald Reagan would find themselves out of step with today’s Republican Party because of its strict adherence to ideology and the intensity of modern partisan warfare.

“Ronald Reagan would have, based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground, similar to my dad, they would have had a hard time if you define the Republican Party — and I don’t — as having an orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement,” Mr. Bush said at a question-and-answer session with reporters and editors held Monday morning in Manhattan by Bloomberg View.

“Back to my dad’s time or Ronald Reagan’s time,” he said, “they got a lot of stuff done with a lot of bipartisan support that right now would be difficult to imagine happening.”

I think that’s notable for several reasons. It helps to explain why Bush, like Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie and other more pragmatic Republicans, …

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Would Romney-nomics differ from Bush-nomics?

2004 AP file photo

2004 AP file photo

Let’s chat, shall we? Let’s have a serious discussion of how we got in this rough economy, and what our approach should be going forward. And let’s begin with this, a chart compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics documenting job loss or gain since 2008:

jobsloss

As the chart documents, when President Obama took office in late January of 2009, he did so at the peak of a historic collapse in the U.S. job market that had begun a year earlier. In just four months — November and December of 2008 and January and February of 2009 — 3 million Americans lost their jobs, which is more than had been lost in the entire 1981-83 recession. All told, before things could be turned around, 8.7 million Americans were put out of work in the largest economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Here’s another way to look at it, also from BLS:

jobs

Now: Here’s the question that ought to dominate the political discussion in the next six months:

What would lead you to believe that returning …

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