To our traveling companions on the highway of life

I lost a close, longtime friend last fall, and this week some of us who knew the man best are gathering from around the country for the first time since he left us so suddenly. We’ve told stories, laughed a lot and handled a few moments of sadness. It’s all good, as they say.

The experience brought this cut to mind, recorded by friends of George Harrison a year after his passing. The guitarist looking uncannily like a young George is his son Dhani, who at the time of the video was probably around 24. All things must pass.

– Jay Bookman

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Jeb Bush has a principled stand on immigration. Several, in fact.

Last summer, Jeb Bush was in favor of offering illegal immigrants a path to citizenship. As he told Charlie Rose:

“You have to deal with this issue. You can’t ignore it, and so either a path to citizenship, which I would support — and that does put me probably out of the mainstream of most conservatives — or a path to legalization, a path to residency of some kind.”

In his new book, “Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution”, Bush comes out in stalwart opposition to citizenship.

“It is absolutely vital to the integrity of our immigration system that actions have consequences — in this case, that those who violated the law can remain but cannot obtain the cherished fruits of citizenship. To do otherwise would signal once again that people who circumvent the system can still obtain the full benefits of American citizenship.”

Today on “Morning Joe”, Bush was back to his initial position. Kind of … He repeatedly stressed that the book was written last year, as if something …

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It is not racism to try to help DeKalb students

“Though the public has an interest in its elected officials being able to serve in the offices to which they’ve been elected, there is an even greater public interest at stake here. The interest of the public in a healthy school system outweighs the interests of the board members in serving in their positions.”

Those two simple sentences, written by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Story in his ruling Monday, capture the essence of the controversy surrounding the DeKalb County School Board.

Students are more important than politicians. Not exactly rocket science, right? Yet too many members of the school board lost sight of that fact, assuming a degree of inflated self-importance that made an already difficult district impossible to govern. The fact that those members — most prominent among them Eugene Walker — continue to operate under the delusion of their own ego, even after reminders to the contrary by the state Board of Education, the governor, the DeKalb public and now …

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As share of GDP, corporate profits highest since 1950

From The New York Times:

“So far in this recovery, corporations have captured an unusually high share of the income gains,” said Ethan Harris, co-head of global economics at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “The U.S. corporate sector is in a lot better health than the overall economy. And until we get a full recovery in the labor market, this will persist.”

The result has been a golden age for corporate profits, especially among multinational giants that are also benefiting from faster growth in emerging economies like China and India.

…. As a percentage of national income, corporate profits stood at 14.2 percent in the third quarter of 2012, the largest share at any time since 1950, while the portion of income that went to employees was 61.7 percent, near its lowest point since 1966. In recent years, the shift has accelerated during the slow recovery that followed the financial crisis and ensuing recession of 2008 and 2009, said Dean Maki, chief United States economist at …

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GOP willingness to swallow defense cuts is historic

In hindsight, President Barack Obama made one major if understandable miscalculation in the 2011 budget-sequester process. Needing something that would force congressional Republicans to negotiate when the time came, he and his advisers crammed some $500 billion in defense-spending cuts into the bill, believing that congressional conservatives would compromise to avoid implementation of those cuts.

He was wrong. Some Republicans — led by John McCain in the Senate and by House Armed Services chair Buck McKeon, among others — have indeed tried to rally great outrage at the cuts. For example, according to a fact sheet put out by McKeon’s committee:

“In the midst of the most dynamic and complex security environment in recent memory, sequestration would severely diminish America’s global posture. An additional 100,000 soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen would be separated from service. Those reductions would lead to:
– The smallest ground force since 1940
– A fleet of fewer …

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Foreign governments with U.S. writers on their payroll?

This is pretty damn scummy:

“A range of mainstream American publications printed paid propaganda for the government of Malaysia, much of it focused on the campaign against a pro-democracy figure there.

The payments to conservative American opinion writers — whose work appeared in outlets from the Huffington Post and San Francisco Examiner to the Washington Times to National Review and RedState — emerged in a filing this week to the Department of Justice. The filing under the Foreign Agent Registration Act outlines a campaign spanning May 2008 to April 2011 and led by Joshua Trevino, a conservative pundit, who received $389,724.70 under the contract and paid smaller sums to a series of conservative writers….

Trevino’s subcontractors included conservative writer Ben Domenech, who made $36,000 from the arrangement, and Rachel Ehrenfeld, the director of the American Center for Democracy, who made $30,000. Seth Mandel, an editor at Commentary, made $5,500. Brad Jackson, writing at …

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The painful, booze-sodden detour from Lovers’ Lane

It’s a simple, classic recipe:

One (1) broken heart.
One (1) bottle of booze. (Add more as needed).

The result is the drunken break-up, heartbreak song, presented here by the recently reunited Mavericks. I love their sound: Rockabilly beats, backed by a powerful blast of Latino horns, probably due to the influence of lead singer Raul Malo out of Miami. Good stuff.

– Jay Bookman

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When the GOP’s tax myth collides with reality…

The myth:

“The revenue issue is now closed…. You’re talking about how much — you’re asking a question, how much more money do we want to steal from the American people to fund more government? I’m for no more.”

– House Speaker John Boehner, Feb. 28, 2013

The reality:

Share of income paid in total federal taxes, 1979-2009, by income group

Source: Tax Policy Center, http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/displayafact.cfm?Docid=456

Source: Tax Policy Center, http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/displayafact.cfm?Docid=456

The American people are being sold a story that is simply, factually untrue. These are the most recent data available, indicating that every single income group is paying less of their income in taxes than at any point in the last 30 years.

– Jay Bookman

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Ethics and gamesmanship in the Ga. Legislature

The words could almost be considered a threat, a warning shot across the bow from one legislative chamber to the other:

“If the speaker sends a bill that is a total ban (on gifts) and the House has … made a deliberation that they are willing to live under that, then they need to be prepared for that to become law,” Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle warned almost a month ago, referring to an almost total ban on lobbyist gifts proposed by House Speaker David Ralston.

Cagle’s message to the House was pretty clear: Do not posture on this issue and think that the Senate will save you from yourself. Do not assume that you can pass a strict ethics bill, making yourself look good in the process, and then expect the Senate to play the patsy by killing it.

If you pass it, we’ll pass it too. And then where will we all be?

Since that veiled warning, the House has indeed “made a deliberation” that it is willing to live under a gift ban. In fact, if the House is bluffing in its support for major ethics …

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“Ben, the two of us need look no more …”

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Using brain implants, researchers at Duke University have allowed lab rats to communicate with each other, brain to brain, in a crude form of mental telepathy. In fact, researchers say, the two rats quickly began to collaborate, with one rat using its “brain-to-brain interface” to assist the second one in figuring out how to complete a task that would bring both of them a reward.*

In a sense, the two rats became a single biological entity. As researchers concluded, lab results “are a clear indicator that a fundamentally more complex system emerged from the operation of the BTBI; one which required considerable adaptation from the participant animals so that they could jointly perform the sensorimotor tasks.”

At one point, and just to show off, the experiment was conducted with one rat located in Brazil and a second in North Carolina, giving new meaning to Internet connectivity.

I will now give you a paragraph taken from the scientific paper reporting these discoveries, …

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