Archive for February, 2013

To the boys who put the funk in Motown

A good friend of mine recommended this cut to me for Friday Travelin’ Music. It features Joan Osborne performing an old Motown hit with the Funk Brothers, the legendary group of session players who played background for almost all of the hits from Motown’s golden era, from 1959 until the label left Detroit for the glitter of Los Angeles in 1972.

The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Stevie Wonder — the brothers funked it up for all of them. Ms. Osborne has the pipes to live up to that heritage in this cut.

– Jay Bookman

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DeKalb school board has forfeited right to office

Two rules of good governance:

Rule No. 1) It is never a good idea to let unelected people sit in judgment of and even remove officials who have been put into public office by the vote of the people. The practice contradicts the entire concept of self-government and undermines accountability. If voters elect bad officials, they ought to live with the consequences of doing so.

Rule No. 2) In case of a true emergency, Rule No. 1 can and must be broken.

The DeKalb County School Board is the perfect case study of why Rule No. 2 exists. The board and the district that it is supposed to oversee are not merely dysfunctional; they have been dysfunctional for years. Superintendents have come and gone, often walking away with nice payoffs and in one case with a corruption indictment. Studies and audits have been authorized, conducted and then buried. Pledges have been made that this time, things will finally change, and time and again the change has been for the worse.

Millions of …

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Standing athwart a pathway to citizenship, yelling ‘No!’

In a new Bloomberg poll, just 23 percent of Americans say they oppose giving illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship. That finding is echoed by a newly released Pew poll, which reports that just 25 percent of Americans back the enforcement-only, no-citizenship option.

A handful of Senate Republicans, led by John McCain and Marco Rubio, is trying to move legislation that would respond to that clear expression of public opinion without also giving a legislative victory to President Obama. That is proving to be a difficult needle to thread. At some point, McCain and Rubio will probably have to decide which of those goals is more important.

And unfortunately, even if comprehensive immigration reform makes it through the Senate, the odds of passage through the GOP-run House look extremely low. That bill would have to go through the House Judiciary Committee, and in a new report by NPR, Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia expressed strong opposition to citizenship. …

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The Chinese gov’t knows that you’re reading this

From The Washington Post:

“Start asking security experts which powerful Washington institutions have been penetrated by Chinese cyberspies, and this is the usual answer: almost all of them.

The list of those hacked in recent years includes law firms, think tanks, news organizations, human rights groups, contractors, congressional offices, embassies and federal agencies.

The information compromised by such intrusions, security experts say, would be enough to map how power is exercised in Washington to a remarkably nuanced degree. The only question, they say, is whether the Chinese have the analytical resources to sort through the massive troves of data they steal every day….

“They’re trying to make connections between prominent people who work at think tanks, prominent donors that they’ve heard of and how the government makes decisions,” said Dan Blumenthal, director of Asian studies at the American Enterprise Institute, which also has been hacked. “It’s a sophisticated …

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News flash! Newt opposes billionaires buying elections!

Writing in Human Events, Newt Gingrich condemns a plan by Karl Rove to raise a lot of money from billionaires and intervene in GOP primaries on behalf of more mainstream, supposedly more electable candidates:

“I am unalterably opposed to a bunch of billionaires financing a boss to pick candidates in 50 states. This is the opposite of the Republican tradition of freedom and grassroots small-town conservatism.

No one person is smart enough nor do they have the moral right to buy nominations across the country.

That is the system of Tammany Hall and the Chicago machine. It should be repugnant to every conservative and every Republican.”

Newt, have you met this man?


His name is Sheldon Adelson. I would have thought that you two knew each other, but apparently not. (Look again … is it the sunglasses throwing you off?)

However, as a man who is “unalterably opposed” to the notion of billionaires buying elections, you should know that Adelson — a casino owner with an estimated net …

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Deal’s Medicaid decision denies health insurance to 600,000

So far, six Republican governors have decided to buck their party and accept federal expansion of Medicaid coverage, concluding that the best interests of their state and its citizens outweigh the interests of their political party.

Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia has made the opposite choice, and the damage inflicted on Georgia by his decision will be considerable.

Here’s the deal:

Under the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, the federal government has offered to cover 100 percent of the costs of health insurance for an additional 620,000 Georgians. The deal is good for three years, from 2014 through 2016. In 2017, the federal government will still pay 95 percent of the cost, and the percentage will slide to 90 percent by 2020.

For every year thereafter, the federal government will cover 90 percent of the cost.

That would amount to an influx of $40 billion into the Georgia economy from 2014 to 2023, according to Bill Custer, a health economist at Georgia State …

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Within the GOP, ‘battle lines are being drawn’

“Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away.”


From conservative columnist Kathleen Parker, a cry for a RINO uprising:

“Indeed, as the base seeks El Savior, isn’t it time for a RINO Rebellion?

Take a cue from the tea party, RINOs. Embrace your alienation. Slap a bumper sticker on your angst and rally that dispassion. Witness how bloggers turned others’ insults into a movement. What were random basement bloggers in terrycloth bathrobes and Uggs are now the respected and influential Pajamas Media, a.k.a. PJ Media.

Own your insult, in other words. Why should RINOs hang their heads in shame and be relegated to the fringes of their party? The party is the fringe. Isn’t it time to reclaim the salt lick? RINOs need to be defiantly proud, aggressively centrist and unapologetically sane.

… RINOs need to stop being so normal and grant their better angels a sabbatical. Forget …

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Blog annoucement alert … blog announcement alert

A couple of blogkeeping notes:

– Some of you may have seen the new look and functionality of other AJC blogs, such as Jim Galloway’s Political Insider blog. Sometime in the next few weeks, I’m told, my blog will migrate to the new system as well. (The change is being made to accommodate new software that works better on mobile platforms such as I-Pads, Kindles, etc.)

That means you’ll have a brand new URL to bookmark (all the previous blogs and comments will still be available in archives). It also means that — prepare yourselves — commenters will be required to register in order to post at the new blog. As you can see on Jim’s blog, that doesn’t mean that you have to post under your real identity, but you will have to register an identity to post. I’ll let you know more as I learn more.

– On Monday, Feb. 25, I’ll be delivering what has become my annual “Real State of the Union” speech, followed by Q&A, at Seven Stages Theater in Little Five Points. (Information here). It’s …

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Sequester will test GOP’s cut/cut/cut strategy

Unless Congress comes to an unlikely and very quick agreement, most domestic federal spending must by law be slashed by an immediate 8.2 percent on March 1, with only Social Security, Medicaid and veterans’ benefits exempted.

According to estimated from the Office of Management and Budget, defense spending will have to be cut by 9.4 to 10 percent, depending on the category. Payments to Medicare providers — doctors, hospitals, etc. — will be cut by 2 percent.

And because the law dictates that the cuts be across-the-board, rather than targeted, the impact is some areas could be severe. Agency directors have very little if any leeway in trying to protect particular programs.

James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, has warned that “the sheer size of the cut will create an immediate national security crisis situation” in the CIA, FBI and other agencies. Border Patrol agents will be laid off, as will federal prosecutors and airline security officers. (If you’re flying, …

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Wisdom for our time, from Honest Abe’s time


Of the more than 40 presidents to occupy the White House, Abraham Lincoln was the only one whose presence was essential to the nation’s future.* The Great Cataclysm that occurred under his leadership had been building for decades and had become inevitable; had it occurred under those who came before him, or those who came after him, the Union as we know it would not have survived.

With that in mind, I’ve collected some pearls of wisdom from Honest Abe that hold particular relevance for our own times and challenges:

“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”

“The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves — in their separate, and …

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