Archive for August, 2012

Our governing class gives us more reasons to distrust them

Two weeks have passed since voters across most of Georgia rejected their region’s T-SPLOST proposals in a display of distrust in government. Unfortunately, that’s plenty of time for members of our governing class to provide new reasons to be wary of them.

The most egregious of the new bad examples comes courtesy of an organization whose project became a lightning rod during metro Atlanta’s T-SPLOST debate: the Beltline.

The 22-mile loop of trails, parks and transit ringing Atlanta’s urban core is supposed to herald yet another renaissance for the city of perpetual rebirth. Instead, a series of investigative stories by the AJC’s Greg Bluestein has uncovered an all too familiar sight: flip disregard for the public, this time in the expense reports of Beltline employees. These workers might not be public officials in the traditional sense, but they do have access to tax dollars.

And my, how they’ve used that access. Wedding gifts, a parking ticket and a dry cleaning bill, and …

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2012 Tuesday: ‘2016′ says we don’t know the president we elected in 2008

At a friend’s request, I went to the theater Sunday to see “2016: Obama’s America” (it’s true, I’m not the most political person I know). The movie, if you haven’t heard, is the work of Dinesh D’Souza, the Indian-born conservative commentator and college president whose 2010 book, “The Roots of Obama’s Rage,” argued the president’s world view was shaped heavily by his anti-colonialist Kenyan father.

I’m no movie critic, so I’ll spare you my thoughts on the cinematography (I’ll only note that D’Souza worked on the film with Hollywood veteran Gerald R. Molen, and it shows in the film’s production quality). The movie’s about our president’s past and what that means for our future, and I’ll focus on that.

D’Souza dispenses early on with any notions of birtherism, noting briefly, but pointedly, that Obama was born in Hawaii. Instead, he makes the far more interesting argument that what’s foreign is Obama’s ideology, shaped in absentia by a father he barely knew. His evidence for …

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The Obama pitch: Don’t ask us for a plan, just reject the GOP’s plan

With Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate, the entire presidential campaign will — or should — boil down to this exchange between Ryan and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner during a House hearing on President Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget back in February (text of transcript courtesy of Real Clear Politics):

Ryan: Here’s the point. Leaders are supposed to fix problems. We have a $99.4 trillion unfunded liability. Our government is making promises to Americans that it has no way of accounting for them. And so you’re saying yeah, we’re stabilizing it but we’re not fixing it in the long run. That means we’re just going to keep lying to people. We’re going to keep all these empty promises going.

And so what we’re saying is, in order to avert a debt crisis — you’re the Treasury Secretary — if we can’t make good on our bonds in the future, who is going to invest in our country? We do not want to have a debt crisis. And so it comes down to confidence and …

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Why I like the Ryan pick

I was out of the house all morning and didn’t have a chance until now to blog about Mitt Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan as a running mate. But now I have time, and I must say: Ryan is an excellent pick.

I have made a few mentions during the past couple of months about my enthusiasm for putting Bobby Jindal on the ticket, and I still think he would have made a good choice. But he and Ryan, who for a long time didn’t appear to be on Romney’s short list, are like a No. 1 and No. 1a for me.

Some people will say Ryan is a risky pick because he has laid out the most detailed plan of just about any elected official — from either of the two major parties — about how to put Washington’s fiscal house in order. That means he brings a lot of targets with him onto the ticket, about Medicare in particular. To those people I say: You are crazy if you think the Obama campaign wasn’t going to make Romney answer for Ryan’s plan anyway.

For one thing, Romney already had endorsed the biggest aspects …

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‘Somebody else’ and Obama’s concept of how the world works

A pair of four-word phrases are proving unshakable for the Obama campaign.

The first is a line Obama actually spoke last month in Virginia: “You didn’t build that.” The second is the implication in a new advertisement by Obama’s super PAC that attacks Mitt Romney’s corporate past: Romney killed a lady.

Taken together, they reflect the president’s apparent belief that the good things as well as the bad things in our lives — success and failure, joy and tragedy, growth and death — are the products of forces beyond our control that only government can bring to heel. Unless you’re rich, in which case you didn’t do the good things in your life, just the bad things in others’.

“You didn’t build that” has been making the rounds for weeks now. The full line — “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that” — came amid a laundry list of ways in which, according to Obama, the successful should play down their own success. It wasn’t because you were smart or hard-working; Obama said …

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Poll Position: Do you secretly enjoy having time to yourself while commuting?

In the aftermath of the T-SPLOST, I heard numerous theories about why the proposed tax went down in flames. I’ve offered my own, broad explanation for this result. But it does not necessarily exclude lots of sub-explanations — reasons some particular commuters might have had for voting against it. Here’s the most intriguing one I’ve heard:

Some people secretly like their time in the car, because it’s the only time they have to themselves all day.

Do you enjoy having “alone time” during your commute?

  • Are you kidding? Heck no! (67 Votes)
  • Yes, but don’t tell my spouse (52 Votes)
  • I plead the Fifth (8 Votes)

Total Voters: 127

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Personally, I don’t subscribe to this idea. I don’t mind my commute because, nine days out of 10, it’s quick and easy. And on that one day out of 10, I’m not happy about the extended driving time. But a few people I know have admitted to enjoying their “me time” in their cars — time they can spend listening to their music, or a …

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Taxpayers lose in gas-tax ‘match’ game

One word I could go the rest of my life without hearing again, in relation to transportation spending, is “match.”

“Federal match” — as in the money we won’t get if we don’t increase state and local spending. “Local match” — as in the additional local funds required in regions that didn’t approve the T-SPLOST.

I’d like to strike a match and make this entire concept go up in smoke. It’s nothing but a symptom of our broken division of labor among levels of government.

After all, it’s all our money. Most of it is raised by the same levy on the same purchase. But it’s been divided among different agencies, leading us to believe some of it’s “free money” we can have — if we agree to someone else’s priorities.

Take the federal gas tax. That tax is commonly thought to have begun during Dwight Eisenhower’s presidency to pay for the interstate highway system. That’s not true, according to a history of the tax on the federal Department of Transportation’s website:

In fact, on …

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‘Romney Hood’ tax claims are wishful liberal thinking

Liberals have seized on a single study by the Tax Policy Center as proof that Mitt Romney’s tax plan would cut taxes for “the rich” and raise them on the rest of us. The study is a work of wishful liberal thinking.

First, it’s wishful liberal thinking because the study’s authors acknowledge Romney has not laid out his plan in detail. After reviewing Romney’s plans for cutting rates across the board by 20 percent, along with eliminating certain other taxes, the study states:

According to statements by Governor Romney and his advisors, the remainder of the plan will include policies to offset this revenue loss, although there are no details on how that would be achieved. (emphasis added)

Now, it may or may not be a good thing for Romney’s electoral prospects that Romney has yet to explain this part of his plan. It may or may not lead voters to believe his plan would “offset this revenue loss” by getting more money from them, via the closing of certain loopholes and elimination …

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Olens to be headline speaker at GOP convention

Early support of your party’s eventual presidential nominee has its privileges: Sam Olens, Georgia’s attorney general and one of Mitt Romney’s earliest supporters among our state-level elected officials, will be one of the headline speakers at this month’s Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Said Olens, in a statement on the convention website:

We can do better as a country. We must empower Americans to make their own choices across the board. The jobs-killing, unconstitutional policies coming out of Washington, D.C. must be undone. Elections do have consequences and we will start to put our country back on track at the Republican National Convention when we nominate Mitt Romney.

No word yet on which day or time Olens will address the convention, but he was announced today in a group that includes a couple of nationally known tea-party favorites — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Ted Cruz, Texas’ newly nominated GOP choice for the U.S. Senate — as well as Puerto Rico Gov. …

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2012 Tuesday: Voter fraud, not suppression, is real

It’s an election year, so we’re being treated to the usual back-and-forth about whether requiring voters to show a photo ID at the polls is an attempt to suppress voting or just voter fraud.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder — never hesitant to politicize an issue — last month likened voter ID laws to Jim Crow-era poll taxes that suppress minority voting. Of course, neither he nor any plaintiff in a court challenge to a voter ID laws has produced any evidence that suppression has taken place. I’ve always thought it is insulting to minorities to suggest they are incapable, or unmotivated, or whatever, when it comes to obtaining a free, state-issued photo ID.

On the contrary: Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp noted in a recent interview that since the General Assembly passed our voter ID law in 2006, the number of minority voters has soared — between both the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections, and the 2006 and 2010 gubernatorial elections. That’s strong evidence against …

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