Archive for September, 2011

Georgia gets it right and wrong on ‘No Child’ change

Say what you will about the No Child Left Behind federal education law — and plenty has been said by folks on all sides. The law promoted two important ideas: that schools should be held accountable for verifiable progress by students, and that kids trapped in failing schools should have the choice to escape for a better education elsewhere.

In that light, Georgia’s request to be exempted from key parts of the law offers a big step forward on measuring achievement, and a small but significant step backward on choice.

The biggest problems with No Child Left Behind were two-fold. First, it was a top-down, federal intrusion into education policy, which ought to be a state responsibility.

Second, it put all the achievement emphasis on a single test. In Georgia’s case, that test managed both to lack rigor and to leave unscrupulous educators room to cheat to ensure their classes made the crucial Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).

After schools in Atlanta and Dougherty County were …

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Poll Position: Do you keep politics and the arts separate?

The big news out of Athens this week was the break-up of the band R.E.M., one of the quintessential bands of the 1980s and ’90s and for many members of Generation X. That includes me: “Out of Time” was one of the first albums I owned, and I saw the band live three times — including one short session at an open-air TV studio in Sydney, Australia (long story).

R.E.M. was hardly an apolitical band, and I think it’s quite safe to say their politics and mine didn’t align. But that didn’t bother me in the least. They could be very interesting musically and lyrically (by pop music’s standards, anyway), and the majority of their songs had nothing to do with politics.

Do you avoid artists whose political views differ from your own?

  • No (52 Votes)
  • Only if the work (movie, song, book, etc.) is explicitly political (51 Votes)
  • Yes (19 Votes)

Total Voters: 122

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It’s one of the worrying signs of the politicization of everything, however, that I hear people say they …

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GOP debate recap: Danger time for Rick Perry

If you are inclined to think someone other than Barack Obama should be president as night falls on the 20th of January 2013, and if you have seen the many opinion polls showing Rick Perry leading the Republican field, and if you watched Thursday night’s GOP debate, then some version of this scene has to be creeping in your head, and keeping you up at night:

It’s autumn 2012. The race between Obama and Perry is running neck and neck. Perry jumped out to a lead of several percentage points after finally defeating Mitt Romney for the GOP nomination, in large part because the economy is still stagnant and the Republican base is energized. But Obama has climbed back into a statistical tie and is making his challenger earn the win, because that’s what incumbent presidents do.

The two candidates are appearing in their first head-to-head, televised debate. The great middle of the American public is tuning in, only now beginning to decide who to pick: the current guy, whose performance …

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What if Obama does raise taxes on the rich? Then what?

I’ll admit it: There’s a part of me that wants President Obama to get every last tax increase he proposed this week.

Let him close the loopholes and raise tax rates on “millionaires and billionaires” — defined, in his world, as married couples who earn a combined $250,000 a year and individuals who bring in $200,000. Let him tax capital gains at the same rates as wages. Let him squeeze more revenue out of oil and gas companies. Let him sock it to the corporate jet owners.

And then, when the economy keeps foundering and the jobless are still out of work and the budget remains unbalanced, let him tell us what comes next.

You see, I don’t think there is a Plan B, because I don’t think his proposals amount to a Plan A for growing the economy, or creating jobs, or balancing the budget — or for anything besides raising taxes for the sake of raising taxes.

Obama’s quest to raise taxes, especially on “the rich” and corporations, has reached Ahab-like levels of …

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Isakson opposes U.N. recognition of Palestinian state outside peace process

We appear to be headed toward a showdown at the United Nations later this week concerning Palestinians’ attempt to bypass the peace process with Israel and win international recognition for a state of their own. Israel’s government has long accepted the principle of a two-state solution to the world’s thorniest conflict. But the Palestinian Authority’s dalliances with Hamas — the terrorist group that controls the Gaza Strip and refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist — has prevented any progress on the outstanding issues between the two sides, such as the borders of each state. Now, Palestinian leaders are going for broke at the U.N. General Assembly in New York this week.

One person who’s been active in trying to forestall such a development is Georgia’s Johnny Isakson, who serves on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He’s co-signed letters to leaders of African nations asking them to vote against recognition of a Palestinian state (he’s ranking member of …

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2012 Tuesday: Do timing and the economy finally play in Romney’s favor?

In September 2008, when Lehman Brothers failed and John McCain panicked, it became obvious the former businessman Mitt Romney would have fared better against Barack Obama. As the fates would have it, that information simply came a few months too late.

This time, the prospect of a double-dip recession is looming well before the first primary votes are cast. Could it be that timing is finally going to work out in Romney’s favor?

While Romney’s chief rival, Rick Perry, is running on his record of presiding over impressive job growth in Texas during the past decade, Perry also is clearly more of a loose cannon than Romney. For the Washington Post’s Michael Gerson, the times dictate that the “reassuring” Romney is preferable to the “revolutionary” Perry:

Both are harshly critical of Obama’s economic policies. But unlike Perry, Romney refuses to hurl the accusation of “socialism.” Romney argues that an overbroad condemnation of Social Security would leave Republicans “obliterated as …

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How liberals mislead about the tax history of the past 30 years

President Obama’s (latest) soak-the-rich plan is bringing out the worst in his fellow liberals. If you want to understand exactly what’s wrong with their mindset on taxes, and why it is irreconcilable to reality, you must read Michael Tomasky’s column in the Daily Beast today.

Not because Tomasky points out the deficiencies. On the contrary, he recites nearly every one of them with gusto.

To begin, Tomasky states that taxes — not spending, not debt, nor cultural politics, nor anything else — have been “the biggest problem in our politics for the last 30 years.” By “biggest problem,” he apparently means what follows:

The anti-tax revolt that started in 1978 in California (Proposition 13) has destroyed this country. Our taxophobia has made the rich vastly richer and reduced the amount of money for the public benefits the rest of us depend on, and a hundred other horrible things besides.

One can hardly argue against “a hundred other horrible things” that Tomasky hasn’t specified, …

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Obama plows ahead with plans to raise taxes, not create jobs

What better way for President Obama to welcome me back from the beach than with a wrong-headed plan to jack up income taxes on “the rich.” From the Hill:

The White House said Monday that President Obama wants to pay for his $447 billion jobs bill by raising taxes on the wealthy and businesses.

In fact, we don’t really need to go beyond that first sentence: Obama’s bright idea is to pay for a jobs bill by raising taxes on businesses. The economy be damned, this president is determined to take money from job creators and use it to renovate school buildings. That would be bad enough — but, as Megan McArdle explains, it’s already too late for school-renovation projects to navigate the federal procurement process in time for work to begin next summer. Which means we’re back to spending money on jobs that aren’t ready for shovels.

Still, let’s soldier on to the details as provided by Jack Lew, director of the Office of Management and Budget:

The chief provision…would be to limit …

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Gone fishin’

I’ll be away this week and returning Monday, Sept. 19. Have a great week.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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Ten years after 9/11, the terrorists have not won

“. . . or the terrorists win.”

In the weeks after That Day — if you’re aware enough to be reading this blog, you know which day I mean — that became the standard by which we judged any action even tangentially tinged by terrorism.

The premise was simple. Given enough time and national will, our military would defeat the Taliban and al-Qaida. A succession of attacks, even on a smaller scale than those of 9/11, seemed possible — but unlikely to bring our nation to its knees. So the thing to guard against was subtle submission to fear.

By Thanksgiving 2001, the Los Angeles Times was lamenting the overuse of “or they win”: from the Temecula Valley International Film and Music Festival (in a plea against canceling events due to fears of an attack) to Martha Stewart (”To me,” she wrote in a memo concerning employee Christmas parties, “the terrorists have certainly succeeded if so few of you participate in a companywide effort to ‘get together.’ “).

By New Year’s Eve 2002 in New …

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