Archive for August, 2009

Getting race out of the race

Thank you, Aaron Turpeau.

Turpeau, one of the original cogs in Maynard Jackson’s political machine, has been distributing a memo for the so-called Black Leadership Forum that burst into the public realm Thursday. The document describes, among other things, a desire for black voters in this fall’s Atlanta mayoral election to back a single black candidate in order to defeat Mary Norwood, the first serious white challenger for the office in some years.

Judging by public reaction to the memo on ajc.com and by statements from some of the candidates, there is rightly a lot of anger among blacks and whites alike about any ploy to make race central to this election.

For this contest is too critical to be decided on anything but the issues. The City Too Busy to Hate is fast becoming the City Too Mismanaged to Function .
So let’s look at this memo as an opportunity.

For starters, it should be more difficult now for any candidate to turn the election, even obliquely, into a race about …

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Daily blogging begins in 10…9…

Just a heads-up that I’ll begin blogging on a daily basis after Labor Day, although we’ve already opened the comments function and I may write the occasional post in the week leading up to Labor Day.

So on second thought, I guess that headline should read: “Daily blogging begins in 11…10…9…”

Hope to see you back here on Sept. 8, or before.

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Probe shows 9/11 is, sadly, forgotten

“It’s very hard to maintain a Sept. 12 view of the world,” says David Nahmias, a thought that well explains why some CIA agents may soon face criminal prosecution.

Nahmias, recently appointed to the Georgia Supreme Court after a career of prosecuting, among others, terrorists after Sept. 11, spoke those words a few days before the Obama administration reopened a criminal probe of CIA interrogators. But his observation about the difference between the raw wounds of The Day After and our more comfortable perspective eight years hence is right on target.

Let’s be honest. Liberals can get away with tsk-tsking about a handful of unauthorized CIA interrogation techniques — some of which would fit right into a Monty Python spoof: “Talk, or I’ll speak ill of your mother! And after that, turn on an electric drill in this very room!” — precisely because the CIA’s interrogations helped to prevent another terror attack on U.S. soil.

Had just one of the foiled terror plots gone off, we …

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Hunt now for GOP candidates

While most members of Congress have spent August in their districts, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland has also visited Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina, even Illinois and Iowa, recruiting candidates to help the Republicans gain House seats in 2010.

No one, including the third-term congressman from Coweta County, is predicting a new GOP majority just yet. But Republicans will gain nothing from next year’s campaigns — or from a health care debate that’s costing Democrats dearly — if they can’t line up good candidates now.

If anyone understands this imperative, it’s Westmoreland. He spent years helping the GOP end a near-permanent Democratic majority in Georgia’s Legislature.

“When I became the Republican leader in Georgia,” Westmoreland said this week, “I asked, why have we been in the minority for 130 years? And part of it was, the candidates we were recruiting — not that they weren’t good candidates — but they probably didn’t have the local ties, they weren’t from the right part of …

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Spikes tries to tap into voter angst

In case you haven’t noticed, politicians aren’t too popular right now. At tea parties, at town-hall meetings and on Internet forums, people are expressing frustration that transcends partisanship. There is a sense that we have been let down, if not by our institutions, then by anyone who has run them in recent years.

We rage at the machine in this way every now and then, but we don’t often elect government newcomers into office. (See Perot, Ross, or Millner, Guy.)

Jesse Spikes hopes this time is different. He is the outsider running against the insiders in Atlanta’s mayoral race this fall, the rookie taking on City Council President Lisa Borders, Councilwoman Mary Norwood, state Sen. Kasim Reed. The 59-year-old attorney harped on this point last weekend during Campaign for Atlanta’s candidate forum on the city’s finances.

“I am not a politician. I will not become a politician in this process,” Spikes declared at the outset. “The politicians who led us into this [financial] …

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A pared-down solution for Georgia

Here’s a brain teaser: How many state agencies, authorities, commissions and departments do Georgia taxpayers support?

Need a hint? Texas, with two and a half times as many people as Georgia, has about 150.

If you guessed 133, move to the head of the (political) class.

That’s right: There are one hundred thirty-three bureaucratic outposts here in Georgia. And, says state Rep. Charlice Byrd, “These are just the ones we know about on the books. The governor has his own boards and authorities that we can’t even get a grasp on.”

The Republican from Woodstock would know, because for a few years running she has promoted the Georgia Government Accountability Act. The bill (H.B. 236) would create a “sunset advisory committee” of legislators to review those 133 state bodies.

The committee members would review the 133 in bunches every two years, gauging each one’s efficiency, productivity and responsiveness to citizens once a decade. A negative finding by the panel could lead to the …

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Stimulus program is the clunker

Several million dollars worth of trees, sidewalks and traffic lights. That’s what the federal stimulus package, our tax money, means for the Fairlie-Poplar area of downtown Atlanta.

These sprucing-up efforts will begin in coming weeks. But some economic indicators suggest that we will have already exited the recession by the time these “shovel-ready” projects break ground. No laborers have received paychecks, nor suppliers payment for materials, from this money.

The same is no doubt true elsewhere. Half a year after the stimulus bill became law, amid warnings of impending catastrophe if Washington didn’t act, only 10 percent of the $787 billion in funds have been spent, according to the government’s stimulus Web site. Three-quarters of the money has yet to be even allocated, much less hit the economy.

Put another way, about $3 billion in stimulus money is disbursed every seven days. That’s hardly a tide-turning amount in a $270 billion-a-week economy.

So, if the economy has …

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Desperate Democrats offensive

If you disagree with Democrats’ health care plans, they consider you stupid. Or a liar. Or maybe a stupid liar, pants on fire.

This is the childish level to which our governing party has stooped during an August offensive that is, well, offensive.

This week, the Democratic National Committee released a video blaming the policy failings of their party — you know, the one that could defeat any filibuster in the Senate, fields a stout majority in the House and has a still personally popular president — on “desperate Republicans and their well-funded allies [who] are organizing angry mobs.”
The goal of these simple, brain-washed posses? To “destroy President Obama and stop the change Americans voted for overwhelmingly in November.”

Yet the mobs depicted on the video comprise Americans armed with nothing more than posters and loud voices, interspersed with images of one woman from the widely discredited “birther” movement and a guy who appears to have hung his congressman in …

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