Archive for June, 2010

Governor’s race is short on boldness, long on caution

The surest sign that the governor’s race is a toss-up — and that a Democrat stands a real chance of winning in this red state — may be the lack of pre-primary drama. No one, whether Republican or Democrat, seems to feel good or bad enough about the race to make any sudden moves.

The result, so far, is one boring election.

It’s not just that the political ads so far lack rifle-toting straight talk or a roundtable of frowning Founding Fathers, like some of the ones aired over in Alabama this year. It’s not just that there’s no emerging star, like conservatives Marco Rubio of Florida or Nikki Haley of South Carolina.

It’s about substance. Georgians could be forgiven for thinking all the candidates sound the same — to the degree that we’ve even heard from the contestants. There are more than a dozen gubernatorial candidates running as Republicans or Democrats, most of whom have raised enough money to buy some TV time. You can still count the ads they’ve aired without using your …

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Why Kagan should be filibustered

Senators should filibuster Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. Here’s why.

It’s not because of her mostly empty answers to the mostly easy questions posed by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during this week’s hearings. It’s not even because she hinted at an extremely expansive view of Congress’s ability to put mandates on our everyday lives when Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) asked her whether it would be constitutional for legislators to require Americans to eat three vegetables and three fruits a day, and she demurred.

No, the reason Senators should filibuster Kagan is Sonia Sotomayor.

The Senate confirmed Sotomayor last year as President Obama’s first appointment to the Supreme Court. Like Kagan, and like pretty much every nominee to the high court since Robert Bork was demonized by Ted Kennedy and blocked by Senate Democrats, Sotomayor cruised to confirmation by refusing to tip her hand as to how she would rule on certain issues.

But already we can see that the …

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Soak the rich? We’re already there

The Congressional Budget Office has looked at the tax data for 2007 and found, once again, that “the rich” already pay far more in taxes than everyone else.

CBO 2007 data graph 2

Source: CBO

The comparison here is between the blue bars, representing the share of all income reported, and the purple bars, representing the share of all federal taxes paid. The bottom four quintiles all have a high share of income relative to taxes paid; the opposite is true for the top 20 percent.

The progressivity of our tax code is also apparent in this graph of average federal tax rates by income quintile:

CBO 2007 data graph 1

Source: CBO

The average effective tax rate for the bottom 20 percent is below the trend line you’d expect from looking at the middle three groups; the average effective rate for the top group is above that trend line. So, tax rates are already skewed in favor of the bottom group and against the top group.

Here’s the eternal question for all those who want to skew rates even more, to raise taxes on “the rich” to …

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Court: Yes, Chicago, there is a Second Amendment

It will take some time to digest all 214 pages of opinions in today’s Supreme Court ruling in a gun-rights case. But this much is clear: A 5-4 majority of justices said gun-ownership rights are “fundamental to the Nation’s scheme of ordered liberty,” and that city and state governments therefore can’t deny them.

Legal scholars will debate the way the justices went about affirming the “fundamental” nature of the Second Amendment; there was some disagreement even within the five-justice majority. But the key to the case, titled McDonald v. Chicago, was whether the Second Amendment is truly integral to our system of government.

As Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority, the Court had already answered that question in its Heller decision, which struck down a handgun ban in the District of Columbia:

Self-defense is a basic right, recognized by many legal systems from ancient times to the present day, and in Heller, we held that individual self-defense is “the central …

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Job loss numbers in graphic form

job growth numbers as of June 2010

Veronique de Rugy posted this graphic at National Review Online. Notice her source is the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which tracks actual employment numbers rather than guesstimates based on stimulus dollars spent and multipliers (i.e., if we spent X amount of money we must have created Y number of jobs; no need to actually count them!). She cites January 2008 as the beginning of the recession; the Recovery Act, a.k.a. the stimulus, passed in February 2009.

Oh, and the bill for that $862 billion Recovery Act is in the mail.

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Europe lectures Obama on stimulus and debt

After 16 months and hundreds of billions in debt-financed “stimulus” spending, President Barack Obama is still pushing for more public borrowing to prop up demand, both here and abroad.

Writing to other national leaders ahead of this weekend’s G-20 meeting in Toronto, Obama called for “unity of purpose to provide the policy support necessary to keep economic growth strong.”

Translation: Spend, baby, spend.

But fewer and fewer people are buying it this time.

In Britain, the new government reburied Keynes last week, choosing budget austerity over further stimulus. Germany rebuffed Obama’s requests to keep priming the pump (link requires subscription). The European Union’s economic affairs chief wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that he “cannot but disagree” with the push for more deficit spending.

Getting debt lectures from Europe, the continent that already has brought us the Greek bailout and riots? That’s like leaving it to Lindsay Lohan to tell you to lay off the sauce …

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The 100 Americans the left hates the most

Granted, this list was compiled by people on the right — the editors at Townhall. That’s one reason I’m bringing it up here for debate. Did they get it right?

I count three current or former Georgians on the list — Newt Gingrich, Clarence Thomas and Erick Erickson; no Tom Price or Ralph Reed — and it’s interesting that 4.5 of the top 10 are women (the half referring to the fact that No. 7 is “the tea party patriot”).

The entire top 10, in ascending order and with my comments in parentheses:

10. Michele Bachmann (The most hated Republican in Congress? Really?)

9. Bill O’Reilly (Higher than Sean Hannity? Really?)

8. Dick Cheney (Only question imo is whether he or Karl Rove ires liberals more.)

7. The tea party patriot (A little too close to “Time’s Person of the Year: You” for my taste.)

6. Michelle Malkin (Not many liberals naming babies Michelle [or Michele] these days, I suppose.)

5. Ann Coulter (No surprise here.)

4. George W. Bush (How many years will pass before he …

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More Republicans, maybe, but what about Guam? (video)

In case you missed it, here’s that silver tongue of Capitol Hill, DeKalb County Democrat Hank Johnson, arguing for the passage of campaign-finance restrictions on the grounds that it will keep Republicans from getting elected:

That’s right: Let’s pass laws with the expressed intent of hurting one political party over another one.

But even that argument is completely specious. Just note the irony of the corporate examples Johnson used: BP, whose employees have given more money to Barack Obama than any other politician over the past 20 years, and Goldman Sachs, whose PACs and employees gave Obama nearly $1 million in 2008, compared to about $230,000 for John McCain.

I could of course go on, but it hardly seems sporting.

How much longer before DeKalb residents start wondering whether Vernon Jones — or, heaven forbid, one of those evil Republicans — really could be any worse than Hank “capsize” Johnson?

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McChrystal’s out; now for Obama’s test

Removing outspoken Gen. Stanley McChrystal as commander of the war in Afghanistan, and replacing him with his boss, Gen. David Petraeus, is a quintessential Barack Obama move: It’s an attempt to placate both those people who said McChrystal had to go after Rolling Stone magazine published his disdainful comments about the president’s team and those people who said the war was at too crucial a juncture to make such a change.

The president’s statement that his decision was about neither policy disagreement nor personal insult underscores this sense. If it’s not about p0licy or personalities, why the change? Was the president really already on the cusp of making such a jarring change before the article came out?

By turning to Petraeus, who was McChrystal’s boss at U.S. Central Command and who successfully executed a counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy in Iraq and will now try to continue one in Afghanistan, Obama can argue that he’s keeping as much stability and continuity as …

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Southern conservatives show signs of color-blindness

Conventional wisdom holds that America’s changing demographics, with whites expected to lose their majority status nationally within a few decades, spell trouble for the Republican Party. But while it’s true that Republicans have relied heavily on white voters for the better part of a half-century, we should also ask whether the demographic trend is really as politically problematic for the GOP as Democrats seem to think it is.

Particularly after last night’s Republican primary run-off results in the Carolinas.

South Carolina is getting most of the attention, and deservedly so, for the wins of Nikki Haley in the gubernatorial run-off and Tim Scott in a congressional race. Haley is Indian-American. Scott not only is black, but he defeated the son of one-time Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond to advance to November’s general electi0n.

And in North Carolina, another black Republican, William Randall, won his congressional run-off last night and will oppose Democratic incumbent Brad Miller …

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