Archive for January, 2013

On immigration, it’s not just about the Latino vote


In the weeks ahead, the Republican Party is going to have itself a fine debate over immigration, with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio more or less betting his presidential ambitions on winning the argument. If he can’t convince enough Republicans to join him, his de facto support for amnesty will become a cannon ball chained to his leg in the race for the 2016 GOP nomination.

Personally, I hope Rubio is successful, because his success would mean that we actually accomplish something and put this problem behind us. But I have serious doubts.

His fellow Republican senator, David Vitter of Louisiana, this week called Rubio’s stance on immigration “nuts” and “amazingly naive,” all the while expressing his enormous admiration for his Florida colleague. House Republicans, a good indicator of the sentiment of the GOP base, don’t seem ready at all to embrace the Rubio solution. The editors at National Review dismissed it as well this week in a piece headlined “A Pointless Amnesty”:

“Call it …

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If Washington’s tone has changed, this is why

Here’s what President Obama’s job-approval numbers look like, from Sept. 1 to today, as compiled from major polls by RealClearPolitics:



It’s also interesting to look at the polls individually. Here’s a list of every major survey conducted in the month of January on the question of job approval. As you’ll notice, one of the numbers is not like the others:


Every poll but one reports an eight-to-12-point differential between job approval and disapproval. I won’t mention the identity of the outlier.

And finally, we have this, which helps to explain why, despite passionate promises to the contrary, the Republicans will not be pushing the government into default or shutting down the government anytime soon:


– Jay Bookman

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Economy takes a fourth-quarter stumble

From the Washington Post:

“The U.S. economy contracted slightly in the final months of 2012, as defense spending plummeted and businesses depleted their inventories, in a surprising development that could give hints of the economic challenges to come.

Gross domestic product fell at a 0.1 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter, the Commerce Department said Wednesday, far below the 1.1 percent gain that analysts had forecast. The number will be revised extensively in the months ahead as more complete data becomes available, but if the number stays in negative territory, it would be the first contraction for the U.S. economy since the second quarter of 2009.”

That’s not good news by any means, but it’s also not as bad as it might appear. In wake of the announcement, for example, the stock market plummeted a whopping 18 points, or 0.13 percent, as of 12:30 p.m. In addition, a new report from ADP, which monitors private-industry hiring, predicts that the economy added a decent …

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Ga.’s back-door voucher program riddled with deception

From its inception, Georgia’s tax-funded private-school “scholarship” program has been shrouded in deception and guile. Its champions have misled the public and state legislators about the purpose of the program, how it would function and who it would benefit, and they continue to mislead today.

Yet with state money tight and public schools struggling just to stay open the traditional 180 days, defenders of the scholarship program want to double the size of the program to $100 million a year.

I have a better idea: If the program can’t be made open and accountable, with demonstrable evidence that it is serving those it was created to help, it ought to be abolished altogether.

Let’s take a minute to review how the program works: As a Georgia taxpayer or corporation, when you contribute a dollar to a private-school scholarship program, an offsetting dollar is deducted directly from your state tax bill. For example, if you have a state tax bill of $2,500 and donate $2,500 for a …

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Northeast conservative wants divorce from GOP

1337256000000.cachedDavid Brooks, the conservative columnist for the New York Times, looks at the current state of affairs and wants a divorce, or at least a trial separation:

“Can current Republicans change their underlying mentality to adapt to these realities? Intellectual history says no. People almost never change their underlying narratives or unconscious frameworks. Moreover, in the South and rural West, where most Republicans are from, the (belief that government is the problem) has deep historic and psychological roots. Anti-Washington, anti-urban sentiment has characterized those cultures for decades.

It’s probably futile to try to change current Republicans. It’s smarter to build a new wing of the Republican Party, one that can compete in the Northeast, the mid-Atlantic states, in the upper Midwest and along the West Coast. It’s smarter to build a new division that is different the way the Westin is different than the Sheraton.

The second GOP … would be filled with people who …

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Political realities drive push for immigration reform

BUSH-JEREMY“I believe we can get it done. I’ll see you at the bill signing.”

– President George W. Bush in 2007,
expressing confidence in passage of a
major immigration reform package


Of course, the bill signing envisioned by President Bush never did take place. Opposition from within his own party quickly doomed the measure, and the relationship between Republicans and Hispanic Americans has been all downhill ever since.

In 2004, Bush attracted 44 percent of the Hispanic vote on his way to re-election. In 2008, after the demise of the immigration bill, John McCain pulled just 31 percent. Mitt Romney, whose solution to the problem was self-deportation, got 27 percent in 2012. An ever-declining percentage of a fast-growing demographic group is a long-term formula for failure, as McCain himself reminded his party Monday.

“If we continue to polarize the Latino/Hispanic vote,” the Arizona senator said on CNN, “the demographics indicate that our chances of being in the majority …

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Why does GOP have an image as party of white males?

Maybe this could help explain it.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, here’s what Georgia looks like, broken down demographically:

Male, 48.9 percent
Female, 51.1 percent
White non-Hispanic, 55.5 percent
Black, 31 percent
Hispanic or Latino, 9.1 percent
Asian, 3.4 percent
Under age 40: 56.7 percent


Here is what the Georgia Senate’s Republican majority caucus looks like:


This post began a few weeks ago, when I noticed that the Senate had named only one woman, Renee Unterman, as a committee chair in 2013. I immediately realized why that might be: Unterman is the sole Republican woman in the 56-seat chamber.

The gender numbers are a little better in the Georgia House, where 17 of 117 Republicans are women. But if that’s your bragging point …

– Jay Bookman

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A gun-control model that has been proved effective

In a debate with CNN host Piers Morgan last week, Newt Gingrich was asked whether the Second Amendment guarantees the right to possess automatic weapons. Basically, he said no, it does not.

“I think .50-caliber machine guns would be bizarre,” Gingrich said. “And I’m happy to say that those rules seem to work fairly well.”

It’s an interesting admission. Like many others on the right, Gingrich accepts and even embraces the power of government to effectively ban possession of .50 caliber machine guns and other automatic weapons. Yet somehow, he believes that under the Second Amendment, the government has no similar power to ban semi-automatic assault weapons.

But where does he find that constitutional distinction between automatic and semi-automatic? What textual basis in the Second Amendment would allow government to heavily regulate and in effect ban one type of weapon, while prohibiting similar regulation of others?

Just to review, the text of the amendment states, in its …

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Georgia’s leaders continue to duck tough decisions

By the end of his second term, Gov. Sonny Perdue understood that transportation in Georgia was badly underfunded and had been underfunded for years, harming the quality of life of Georgia citizens and damaging its economy.

Legislative leaders, including chairmen of the House and Senate transportation committees, shared that conviction. Yet when it came time to correct the problem, they balked. The best they could manage — and it took years of halting work to accomplish even that much — was to pass a convoluted, complex approach that tried to dump the state’s responsibility for funding transportation onto local voters and local officials.

In the end, the TSPLOST work-around didn’t work and the funding shortage continues. But Perdue’s successor, Nathan Deal, and his fellow state leaders still do not dare to do what they know is necessary. They have no “Plan B.” They do not lead, they follow, and they do so timidly.

And it’s not just transportation. Consider Medicaid and the …

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“The Kids Are Alright,” but they’re not exactly kids …

A cover of a song released 50 years ago next year.

Rock and roll will never die.

– Jay Bookman

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