Archive for September, 2012

Travelin’ music? SHE’ll tell you about travelin’ music!

Bettye Lavette’s been around a while. In fact, if you were touring back in the early ’60s with the likes of Ben E. King, Otis Redding and James Brown, and you’re still at it today, you qualify as an authentic R&B veteran. That’s a marathon runner in the musical world.

And as you’ll see if you watch this remarkably emotional performance from just a couple of years ago, Bettye does not sell her audience short. To the contrary, she sells everything she’s got and then some.

Ladies and gentlemen, to kick off the weekend, I give you the fabulously soulful Miss Bettye Lavette!

– Jay Bookman

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Jewish-American voters not straying from Obama

Mitt Romney and his fellow Republicans have been working for months to try to cut into the Democrats’ traditional advantage among Jewish voters, largely by stressing their claim that Barack Obama is somehow anti-Israeli.

The AJC — that’s the other AJC, the American Jewish Committee — has just released a new poll of Jewish-Americans. Its findings suggest that GOP efforts to make inroads with Jewish voters are having just as much success as are similar efforts to court black Americans, Hispanics and other minorities.

In other words, a biseleh.

In a similar poll four years ago, 56 percent of American Jews identified themselves as Democrats while 17 percent said they were Republican. Fifty-seven percent said they backed Obama, while 30 percent backed John McCain.

The numbers in 2012?


In other interesting numbers:

– 72.6% approve of Joe Biden as vice president.
– 63.3% disapprove of the selection of Paul Ryan as the GOP veep nominee; 41.4% disapprove strongly.
– Asked to name the …

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Here’s THE math behind the 2012 presidential race

After all the speeches and campaign ads and debates, politics comes down to cold hard numbers. It always has; it always will.

In fact, when you get right down to it, only one number really counts, and every politician and political strategist knows it: 50 percent of those who turn out, plus one more vote to put you over the top. That’s the goal;, that’s the Holy Grail; that’s the number that your entire campaign strategy is designed to achieve because it guarantees election.

Just ask President Al Gore.

OK, in that one instance, getting the most votes earns you a divorce and an ownership stake in a cable channel that no one’s ever watched. But that’s because the presidency is different. To become leader of the free world, a candidate needs a minimum of 270 votes in the electoral college. Failing that, five votes on the U.S. Supreme Court will do.

Today, with the 2012 presidential campaign at full throttle, it seems as though every political scientist in the country hoping to …

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Seeking the “true” Romney is like seeking Bigfoot

Mitt Romney AP-1

The core problem with Mitt Romney is, well, his core. As in he apparently doesn’t have one. This is a man who can say the following in an interview yesterday with NBC’s Ron Allen, when asked about his lack of empathy …

“Don’t forget, I got everybody in my state insured. One hundred percent of the kids in our state had health insurance. I don’t think there’s anything that shows more empathy and care about the people of this country than that kind of record.”


…. and then literally a few minutes later stand in front of a crowd and say this:


“I will repeal Obamacare and replace it with real health care reform. You see, Obamacare is really Exhibit No. 1 of the president’s political philosophy, and that is that government knows better than people how to run your lives. It is a view that government should stand between you and your doctor. I don’t believe in a bigger and bigger government…I believe in freedom.”

I think that’s remarkable. If creating such a …

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Newly revised economic data encourages, discourages

Two significantly revised economic statistics are out, which the two presidential campaigns will no doubt attempt to spin to their candidates’ advantage. But the net political effect is likely to be minimal.

First, the bad news. Economic growth in the second quarter, originally estimated at an anemic 1.7 percent of GDP, was actually an even more anemic 1.3 percent, the Commerce Department announced. As Reuters notes, that downward revision reflects a better understanding of the impact of “the worst drought in half a century, which gripped large parts of the country in the summer (and) saw farm inventories dropping $5.3 billion in the second quarter.”

(In that same announcement, the WSJ’s MarketWatch notes, “the government said corporate profits climbed $21.8 billion in the second quarter, compared to a prior estimate of a $10.4 million increase.”)

The better news comes out of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which released its regularly scheduled revision of job creation …

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Ten days that changed the landscape of a campaign

I don’t think you can call it a turning point, because Barack Obama has enjoyed a small but durable lead for most of this campaign. But historians will note that the basic character of the 2012 presidential race changed 10 days ago, when video was released of Mitt Romney expressing disdain bordering on contempt for some 47 percent of the American people, and doing so in a private meeting with fellow wealthy Americans.

As Romney saw it, that 47 percent had decided to become victims and were content to live off the work of others. They could not be redeemed, and they certainly couldn’t be reached by Republican themes of small government and personal responsibility.

You knew the thing had the potential to be big when the Romney campaign called a late-night, unplanned press conference to respond to it. But rather than minimize the damage, that press conference multiplied it. In his comments, Romney could not and did not repudiate the basic thrust of what he had told his donors, …

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On election night, a reality check looms for someone

The multiplicity of modern media has made it possible to create worlds within worlds, realities within realities. You can, for example, choose a reality in which Barack Obama is up by 3.5 percentage points, with an 80 percent chance of being re-elected, or you can choose to live in a competing reality in which “unskewed” polling reports the happy news that Mitt Romney is actually up almost eight points in national polls.

images-17However, a time will always arrive when your created reality must be “trued up” against actual reality. You can delay that moment, you can dodge that moment, but eventually it must come. Media technology, with all of its magic, has not yet created a work-around to that harsh exercise.

In the runup to the Iraq War, for example, the Bush administration created a reality in which Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, American forces would be greeted as liberators, ethnic differences in Iraq were of little consequence and the invasion would more or …

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Audit a red-letter day for MARTA and its board

When MARTA’s history is written, Sept. 25, 2012 may rank in importance only behind the date back in 1971 when DeKalb and Fulton voters first approved a funding mechanism for the agency. Because one way or the other, the audit made public Tuesday by MARTA and KPMG is going to transform the agency.

We already knew that MARTA would have to change dramatically. As the audit points out, the transit agency is on a collision course with financial disaster, with reserves scheduled to be exhausted by 2018. Falling tax revenues that have affected almost all government agencies explain part of that crisis, but only part. MARTA leaders, including outgoing CEO Beverly Scott, understand that significant efficiencies would have to be found in the system if it is to survive.

The good news in the KPMG report is that such efficiencies exist. The bad news is that such efficiencies exist in sometimes embarrassing plenty.

According to the audit, MARTA’s pay scale is reasonable, and staffing levels …

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For conservatives, it’s ‘Blame the media!’ time

Alarmed by polls that they claim not to believe, conservatives are rushing to find explanations for why Mitt Romney may lose the presidential race.

You know, the race that they claim they don’t believe he’s losing.

The obvious explanation is the same one they trotted out after their 2008 defeat at the hands of Barack Obama: The media. Four years ago, you may recall, Obama supposedly got elected because the media failed to “vet” him properly by making a big deal of the Rev. Wright and Tony Rezko and the birth certificate, etc. Such criticism overlooked the fact that their own presidential candidate, John McCain, also failed to make a big deal of those things. He and his staff not only judged those claims unconvincing, they feared they would cause a backlash against the GOP should he bring them up.

You see, McCain understood that the things that get the base all riled — the things that they see with perfect clarity through their right-wing lens — just don’t look the same to the …

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Take a sober look at military option against Iran

We have learned, one would hope, not to wade into another war blindly optimistic about what it might accomplish or what costs it might entail. Given the rhetoric and bluster bandied about regarding Iran, however, some have learned those lessons less well than others.

A group of foreign policy experts calling itself the Iran Project has undertaken a study of the potential benefits and costs of military intervention against Iran by the United States and Israel. Its work has been endorsed by well-known figures in the foreign-policy field such as former U.S. Sens. Sam Nunn and Chuck Hagel, former national security advisers Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, and seven former generals or admirals with extensive military experience in the Middle East.

The report, available here, takes as a given that “a nuclear-armed Iran would pose dangerous challenges to U.S. interests and security, as well as to the security of Israel.” It simply attempts to lay out in clear fashion both the …

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