Archive for June, 2011

Barack Obama: Leader of the ‘budget tenthers’

It appears there’s a new kind of “tenther” in town. Not the kind who believes that the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution means just what it says, and should be enforced accordingly, but the kind whose big deficit-closing ideas amount to tenths of a percentage point of the problem.

The “budget tenther” in chief? Barack Obama. As Bloomberg reports:

President Barack Obama’s proposal to end a tax break for corporate jet owners, a repeated refrain in his news conference yesterday, would achieve less than one-tenth of 1 percent of his target for reducing the federal deficit.

Changing the provision would put $3 billion into the Treasury over a decade, said two congressional aides familiar with the proposal. Democrats want to require companies that use jets for business purposes to write off the cost over seven years, instead of five years allowed under current law, said a congressional aide and a White House aide. Airplanes used for charter or commercial flights already must …

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Tim Pawlenty: More than just a ‘nice’ candidate

For a man who can pile up the adjectives, Republican presidential contender Tim Pawlenty has gotten stuck with a single descriptor: “Nice.”

So economic growth under President Barack Obama — Pawlenty told me this week during a fund-raising stop in Atlanta — has been “laggard, anemic, below-average, pathetic.” Medicaid must be changed from a “one-size-fits-all, top-down, government-centric” program. And next year’s election will be “historic and impactful and transformative.”

But Pawlenty? To many voters, he’s just “nice.” Or “Minnesota nice,” if they feel chatty.

Despite being one of the earliest announced candidates and a frequent guest on TV talk shows, plus a two-term governor of a not-inconsequential state, Pawlenty only recently broke the 50 percent mark in name recognition among GOP voters in Gallup’s tracking poll. And nearly one in five Republicans surveyed by Gallup still shrugged their shoulders when asked for their opinion of him.

Having spent half an hour with the …

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Transcript of my interview with Tim Pawlenty (June 2011)

The transcript of my June 28, 2011, interview with former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty in Atlanta:

Q: Being here in Georgia today and Florida tomorrow, I’m reminded a few years ago the Republican Party was described as a regional party, confined to the South, after the Obama election. Last year’s midterms proved otherwise, I think, and most of the candidates getting publicity right now are not from the South. But there are some differences, and I’m curious how you go about selling conservatism here versus other parts of the country, whether you have different approaches?

A: When I think about what’s important to conservatives in Georgia, I can’t find any differences between what’s conservative [here] and conservatives elsewhere. If you look at my record on taxes, on spending, on schools, on health care, on public employee benefits, on right to work, on traditional family issues, and on down the list, I’m in line with all that. And so to the extent people think …

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Wha-wha-what? John Lennon, Reagan Democrat?

Before there was David Mamet, left-wing artiste-turned-conservative, there was…John Lennon?!?

From the Toronto Sun:

John Lennon felt a little embarrassed by his former radicalism, according to his last personal assistant.

Fred Seaman worked alongside the music legend from 1979 to Lennon’s death at the end of 1980 and he reveals the former Beatle was a Ronald Reagan fan who enjoyed arguing with left-wing radicals who reminded him of his former self.

In new documentary Beatles Stories, Seaman tells filmmaker Seth Swirsky Lennon wasn’t the peace-loving militant fans thought he was while he was his assistant.

He says, “John, basically, made it very clear that if he were an American he would vote for Reagan because he was really sour on (Democrat) Jimmy Carter….

“He was a very different person back in 1979 and 80 than he’d been when he wrote Imagine. By 1979 he looked back on that guy and was embarrassed by that guy’s naivete.”

Soon, I imagine, we’ll hear from all manner of former …

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A big legal win for Georgia in water wars

Let’s see…Monday we got a federal ruling on Georgia’s new illegal-immigration law…Tuesday we got the appellate court’s ruling on the water wars…maybe today we’ll hear from the 11th Circuit on Obamacare? (If so, I’ll be telling fortunes at Thursday night’s Mashable Atlanta social media meet-up.)

But seriously, yesterday’s water ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is, as Joe Biden might say, a big, er, fishing deal:

The court threw out a 2009 ruling by Senior U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson, who had found it was illegal for the Corps of Engineers to draw water from Lake Lanier to meet the needs of 3 million metro residents. In its decision Tuesday, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that one of the purposes of the man-made reservoir about 45 miles upstream of Atlanta was to supply water to the metro region.

Alabama will appeal the ruling to the full Circuit Court.

Magnuson had also set a doomsday clock ticking for Georgia, Alabama and Florida to arrive …

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2012 Tuesday: The efforts to brand Michele Bachmann a ditz

It’s Michele Bachmann’s turn in the spotlight as the fast-rising fresh face in the Republican presidential field, and so far she’s holding up better than Herman Cain did. Surely some of the difference comes from her experience as a successful political candidate. But a great deal of it comes from the fact that she is, as she told Fox News’ Chris Wallace after his lame question, “Are you a flake?”, a serious person.

That’s not at all to suggest Cain isn’t a serious person, only to point out that the reputation of Bachmann coming into this contest is at odds with how she’s performed as a candidate so far. At some point, the political and pundit class is going to have to notice her performance and life experiences and acknowledge it.

Too many people are still in denial, as the ridiculous amount of attention paid to Bachmann’s supposed gaffe Monday about John Wayne’s birthplace demonstrates. It’s not only that this attention is out of whack compared to President Obama’s most …

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Why a round of cuts without higher taxes is necessary

The debt-ceiling negotiations continue apace in Washington, which is to say Monday saw another round of Democrats demanding tax increases and Republicans refusing to go along with them.

Aside from the fact that the House GOP position is merely to cut the same amount of spending over 10 years that President Obama wants to borrow during the next 18 months, and apart from the fact that the negotiators claim to have found $1.5 trillion in cuts that ought to be considered little more than low-hanging fruit, there is a very simple problem with raising taxes as part of this deal. I’ve touched on it before, but Mickey Kaus hit on it again Monday:

Deals must be honored over time, and parties rightfully distrust each other. … So sequencing becomes important. …

Opponents of bloated government don’t trust politicians to make cuts if extra revenues are in the offing. Neither, sensibly, do many voters. But if you make dramatic cuts, demonstrate you’ve sweated out the fat — and there’s …

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Who gains after a judge blocks Georgia’s immigration law? (Updated)

UPDATE at 3:35 p.m. (incorporates and adds to previous updates) –The bulk of Georgia’s illegal-immigration law, known as HB 87, remains intact even though a federal judge Monday blocked two of the more controversial pieces of it from taking effect Friday as scheduled.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Thrash said two provisions of the law — a requirement that law enforcement officers check the immigration status of people who can’t provide IDs, and punishments for anyone who harbors or transports anyone else illegally present in the country — unlawfully preempt federal statutes. He issued an injunction to prevent them from taking effect July 1.

But the rest of the law remains will proceed, including phased-in requirements for businesses and local/state governments and agencies to check the immigration status of new hires, penalties of up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for people who use fake identification documents to get a job in Georgia, and requirements that anyone …

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In search for inequality’s roots, don’t forget to look at home

Here are two trends that should, but probably won’t, set off alarm bells at the headquarters of the “inequality police”:

1) Some 27 percent of American children last year lived apart from their fathers, compared to just 11 percent a half-century earlier.

2) At the same time, those dads who do live with their children are spending much more time actively caring for them each week than in decades past: almost an hour a day, compared to just 20 minutes a day through most of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.

These twin trends headlined a new report, “A Tale of Two Fathers,” by the Pew Research Center. And if you embrace the numerous studies indicating brighter prospects for children who grow up in two-parent homes, you ought to find Pew’s pair of data points very troubling.

(By the way, it’s not just dads, in an intact family, who spend more time with their kids. Pew also found married mothers are spending more time caring for their kids now than any time since at least 1965.)

As we …

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Bin Laden’s writings suggest we defeated him a long time ago

There’s some interesting information about Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida in an Associated Press story based on writings by bin Laden taken from the compound where Navy SEALs killed the terrorist leader last month. Add it up, and it seems we had marginalized bin Laden and, in his view, won the battle of ideas long before we finally killed him:

As Osama bin Laden watched his terrorist organization get picked apart, he lamented in his final writings that al-Qaida was suffering from a marketing problem. His group was killing too many Muslims and that was bad for business. The West was winning the public relations fight. All his old comrades were dead and he barely knew their replacements.

Faced with these challenges, bin Laden, who hated the United States and decried capitalism, considered a most American of business strategies. Like Blackwater, ValuJet and Philip Morris, perhaps what al-Qaida really needed was a fresh start under a new name.

“Al-Qaida,” in bin Laden’s mind, was …

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