Archive for March, 2011

ObamaCare, one year later

Today is the anniversary of President Obama’s signing federal health-reform legislation into law. At the time, Democrats promised repeatedly that the public would grow to love it over time. But you may have noticed that left-wing blogs and websites aren’t exactly celebrating the occasion.

I guess we’re all still waiting to find out what is in it.

Actually, the law’s unpopularity may be instead that we know too much about what is in it. I’ll have another post later today about things Georgia is, or should be, doing to improve our health-insurance market in spite of ObamaCare. But for now, Emily Miller at Human Events counts down the top 10 failures of ObamaCare in its first year, beginning with:

1. Explodes the Budget Deficit

One year ago, Obama said, “This legislation will also lower costs for…the federal government, reducing our deficit by over $1 trillion in the next two decades. It is paid for. It is fiscally responsible.”

Today: ObamaCare is projected to cost at least $2.4 …

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Reed’s board-packing plan for Atlanta schools is a bad idea

I will assume that Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has the best of intentions with his recent idea that someone — namely, himself — should be given the power to appoint new members to the Atlanta school board. The board had a controversial change of leadership last year, and the system now faces the threat of losing its accreditation due to this internal politics (although, as I’ve noted before, a 5-4 split among elected officials is hardly the worst problem at Atlanta Public Schools).

That said, and to paraphrase Chief Justice John Roberts, the way to stop political interference in the school system is to stop political interference in the school system.

If the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accrediting agency takes its own warning about board politics seriously, it cannot approve of what amounts to a mayoral board-packing plan — one that would have to be backed by the governor and General Assembly, no less.

Reed’s plan is no less political than a split among board …

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Will the rise in suburban minorities mean a departure from identity politics?

The sizable migration of racial minorities to Atlanta’s suburbs may not be the expected, severe blow to conservatism and the Republican Party.

During the past decade, more and more black, Hispanic and Asian Americans moved to places like Cobb and Gwinnett counties. Conventional wisdom holds that these typically Democratic-leaning groups pose a threat to the GOP in its traditional strongholds.

While that forecast may come true, it hasn’t yet. And there’s good reason to think it won’t anytime soon. But first, a few data points from the 2010 census released Thursday.

No Georgia county added more residents between 2000 and 2010 than Gwinnett. With 216,871 newcomers, the county vaulted past Cobb and DeKalb into second place in the state, behind only Fulton.

Gwinnett’s minority population, however, grew by more than a quarter million — more than making up for a net outflow among whites. In 2000, Gwinnett was two-thirds white; now, minorities make up a comfortable majority.

The shift …

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U.N. action on Libya appears to be too late

So, last night the United Nations Security Council approved much more than a no-fly zone over Libya — the council’s resolution called for using “all necessary measures” to keep Col. Moammar Gadhafi from killing the Libyans rebelling against his regime. Then, suddenly, this morning Gadhafi announced a cease-fire.

Victory without firing a shot, right?

Not exactly.

It seems pretty obvious that Gadhafi knows his air force and army would not survive an “all necessary measures” effort by NATO; his comments to the contrary are nothing but mother-of-all-battles bluster. And that calculation on his part would have held true at any time during the last few weeks that Gadhafi’s loyalists have been counter-attacking the rebels across the country.

What has changed, however, is the balance of forces within the country. Check out this map (I’ll post it to the blog later if I can overcome some technical difficulties).

That was the situation as of March 7, less than two weeks ago. Since then, …

Continue reading U.N. action on Libya appears to be too late »

Obama’s ‘internationalist’ approach has failed

Daniel Henninger at The Wall Street Journal writes a harsh obituary for the internationalist school of dealing with foreign crises. Time and place of death: March 2011, Libya:

Not the 28 members of NATO, not the 15-member U.N. Security Council, not the 22 nations of the Arab League could save Libya’s rebels from being obliterated by the mad and murderous Moammar Gadhafi. The world has just watched the collapse of internationalism.

The world’s self-professed keepers of international order, from Brussels to Turtle Bay, huffed and puffed, talked and threatened. And they failed. Utterly.

But what we’ve watched is not merely the failure of the gauzy notion of “internationalism.” It’s more specific than that. What has collapsed here is the modern Democratic Party’s new foreign-policy establishment.

Barack Obama is the first Democratic president to assemble a foreign-policy team made up entirely of intellectuals who for years have developed a counter-thesis to the policies of …

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Georgia Senate GOP drops the ball (again) on school choice

Georgia’s senators spent close to three hours Wednesday — the all-important Crossover Day when legislation either passes one chamber or waits till next year — debating whether to let people buy beer at the grocery store on Sunday or only at the restaurant two storefronts down.

Actually, that’s not quite right. They spent the time making the choice to give local governments the choice to give voters, in a referendum, the choice to approve an ordinance affording grocery stores, convenience stores or package stores the choice of selling alcohol on Sundays to consumers who make the choice to purchase such goods.

Choice, choice, choice, choice, choice.

In the end, it passed. It wasn’t really close.

And then shortly after lunch, Majority Leader Chip Rogers could only stand and criticize his fellow senators for being afraid of giving school choice to more students and parents. It took a lot less than three hours.

This was the second straight year that Rogers has tried to extend …

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UPDATED: Crossover Day, and what did tea party learn from SPLOST votes?

UPDATED at 1:11 p.m.: The Sunday sales bill, SB 10, passed the Senate 32-22, after about three hours of debate. It moves on to the House, where support for the bill is believed to be high.

ORIGINAL POST:

Today is Crossover Day at the Legislature, and I’ll be tweeting updates throughout the day. You can follow those here. Among the bills that appear early on the Senate’s docket are Sunday sales of alcohol and legislation to add foster kids and children of military families to the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship — the state’s voucher program, which would be renamed the Georgia Educational Freedom Act if the bill becomes law.

In the meantime, I’m curious what yesterday’s SPLOST votes in Cobb County and elsewhere mean for the prospects of the transportation sales tax, to be considered in a referendum next year. The “yes” votes won by an exceedingly small margin — 79 votes out of almost 43,000 cast. But that’s nothing new in Cobb: In 2005, the SPLOST passed by just 114 votes.

The …

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Japan crisis: Now is not the time to give up on nuclear power

The news out of Japan has been gripping precisely because the aftermath of the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck it, and the resulting crisis at nearby nuclear power plants, has been so unpredictable. While the natural-disaster storyline — bodies being discovered, survivors still being sought and in dire need of relief supplies — has been gut-wrenching, it has been progressing more or less how natural-disaster storylines usually progress. The ups and downs of the subsequent nuclear crisis have been a different matter.

As I write this post, things are looking slightly better again — for now. Radiation levels have fallen substantially after their enormous spike earlier in the day, although the plants are still far from stable and a change in the wind threatens to carry radiation down the coast toward Tokyo.

In many ways, this story is only just beginning. That’s why it’s still far too early to declare what this tragedy ought to mean for the future of nuclear power …

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Sunday sales in Georgia may be back on the table

Crossover Day at the Legislature (the day by which a bill must pass one chamber if it’s to become law as standalone legislation this year) is Wednesday, and it’s shaping up to be an interesting half-week. From Peach Pundit:

Sunday Sales advocates rejoice. The Senate Republican caucus has just voted and SB 10 will be allowed out of Rules and will be voted on as a stand alone bill, not as an amendment to SB 150, on Wednesday.

There are some technical corrections that need to be made to SB 10, so expect amendments. I would envision the amendment process to get quite lively. If you enjoy good political theater, get down to the Capitol early Wednesday, and bring a Costco sized tub of popcorn.

The AJC’s Aaron Gould Sheinin says movement on the bill is somewhat more limited:

Senate Rules Chairman Don Balfour, R-Snellville, said that SB 10 will come up for a vote in his committee on Tuesday, the final step before reaching the Senate floor on Wednesday.

Lobbyists on both sides of the …

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Events keep on breaking against Obama

Since the November elections, we’ve heard innumerable references to 1994 and 1982. The well-worn narrative is that, like Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan before him, Barack Obama can rally from midterm losses to recapture voters’ confidence and win re-election.

There’s just one problem. Most of the breaks, especially recently, are going against the president.

Yes, it’s early. And no, we haven’t the faintest idea who will be the GOP nominee. But the emerging issues — things we weren’t even talking about four months ago, such as gas prices, Mideast revolutions and government unions — are shifting the political ground in ways that don’t bode well for Obama.

The economy finally appears to have stabilized. The national unemployment rate in February fell below 9 percent, the first time it has broken that barrier in almost two years. It’d all be good news for the president — if inflation didn’t threaten to sabotage the gains.

Gas prices in particular have shot up, by more than 40 cents …

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