A road map for conservatives

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Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all:

● The recent welfare state riots in Great Britain offer America a glimpse of our future — unless we reverse course, which is, really, the struggle between two distinctly different views of the role of government playing out in the 2012 presidential election. Well beyond the elections, though, conservatives have to rethink how we approach government and turn this nation.

● Prime Minister David Cameron addressed the riots. “We have been unwilling for too long to talk about what is right and what is wrong. We have too often avoided saying what needs to be said, about everything from marriage to welfare to common courtesy … Children without fathers. Schools without discipline. Reward without effort. Crime without punishment. Rights without responsibilities. Communities without control. Some of the worst aspects of human nature tolerated, indulged — sometimes even incentivized — by a …

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My nits with the transportation sales tax vote

Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:

● What you should learn about government and the culture that grows it is this: Often the desired outcome is dictated well before “the people” are invited to speak. That will be the case with the 1-cent metro Atlanta regional sales tax for transportation. It will pass. Two crucial decisions made by politicians and bureaucrats determine that. One is the 10-county grouping. The other, now being made by the Georgia General Assembly, is to push the sales tax referendum from next year’s party primaries to the November presidential election. The decision by the Republican majority to switch to a date that will attract more Democrats further skews the outcome. Need proof? In the 2008 General Election, with Barack Obama at the top of the ticket, Democrats won the 10 counties by a vote of 1,010,941 to 741,596. Two years later, Democrat Roy Barnes defeated Nathan Deal in that 10-county region by 601,323 to 512,862.

● Republicans are …

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A nation of freebies can’t last

Thinking Right’s weekend free for all. Pick a topic:

● The state House minority leader, Rep. Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, accuses Republicans under the Gold Dome of trying to reduce her party’s 23 white incumbents to 10 by merging them into districts with blacks. No such conspiracy is necessary. It’s doubtful that Georgia has more than 10 to 12 state House districts (of 180 total) where white liberals are the majority. The solution to redistricting politics is often presented as surrendering line-drawing authority to a nonpartisan commission. That’s a no-go. Democrats would start out with virtually all seats off the table — minority incumbents protected by the Voting Rights Act — leaving the commission to work its nonpartisan magic on GOP districts.

● The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s fact-checkers decree as “false” a claim made by the Georgia Department of Transportation that work on a highway project in Cobb and Cherokee “is expected to create over 9,700 jobs statewide.” If we …

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Self-reliance is not a bad policy

Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:

● The nation has just been through a couple of weeks of alarmist insanity. Tiny prospective cuts in the growth of bloated federal spending have been greeted with alarm throughout the nation. Those who want nothing more than to convey to our children the quality-of-life opportunities our young parents worked to give us — the tea party movement, for example — are branded in Leftspeak as “extremists” or worse, “terrorists.” Good grief, what an ordeal.

● The president of the United States threatened, emptily and unnecessarily, not to post grandma’s Social Security check. Grandma shut down. So did shoppers. The only reason a president would introduce that angst into individual family budgets would be to gain momentary political advantage. For 60 years at least, politicians have spooked the old folks by introducing imaginary threats to Social Security and tempted them by promising benefits financed by somebody else. It’s the one …

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A lower bar in higher education

Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:

● Georgia appears to be doing to higher education what Congress did to housing: chasing downmarket candidates in an effort to flim-flam them — this time into college classrooms. AJC reporter Laura Diamond notes, for example, that a new bachelor’s degree in nursing is being offered at Albany’s Darton College, though it’s already available at Albany State, five miles away, and Georgia Southwestern, 30 miles away. Would you take a degree if we could offer a program in your living room? With government services, there’s something to be said for requiring individual preparation, initiative and effort. Only 48 percent of students at Georgia State University graduate in six years, compared to 80 percent at UGA and Georgia Tech. They’re camping, waiting for a better economy or for an answer to the question: Why am I here?

● Clayton County commissioners raised property taxes 34 percent — topping DeKalb’s 26 percent and Cobb’s 15.7 …

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APS mess tars chamber leaders

Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:

● Firing those implicated in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal: costly. Not firing them: corrosive.

● The Atlanta business community’s failure, through the Metro Atlanta Chamber, to exercise sound judgment in separating parents’ and the public’s interest in the cheating scandal from its brand-protection efforts, does raise serious questions. Had they succeeded in protecting former Superintendent Beverly Hall and those below her accused of cheating, the culture of corruption in the system could have gone on for another generation or more. State Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, this week called on chamber president Sam Williams to resign. In a scandal this seriously damaging to the community, a scandal that might never have been fully explored had the chamber’s efforts and advice prevailed, it is hard to see how its leadership survives.

● The U.S. Justice Department has given Voting Rights Act approval to a law that …

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Able leaders police and protect

Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:

● The 12-page booklet of fulsome praise for former Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall distributed just before the final cheating scandal report was released is a reminder of why we should not name public buildings, roads, bridges, parks or other facilities for the living — especially living politicians.

● One strange twist of the scandal’s fallout is the assertion that consequential testing is to blame for the corruption that seeped through Atlanta Public Schools on Hall’s watch. That’s a cop-out and an effort to shift responsibility for the absence of ethics among the college-educated middle class, from molders of children’s minds and character, to “the system.” Testing made us do it. And what, in another institution’s scandal, made priests do it?

● If I read Beverly Hall’s “sincere apology” correctly, she’s a victim. If, unbeknownst to her, the system corrupted during her fine stewardship, she’s sorry. …

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The collapse of integrity at Atlanta Public Schools

Thinking Right’s free-for-all — today on a single topic, the tragedy of Atlanta Public Schools.

Ten observations:

1. The metastasized corruption that spread through the body of Atlanta Public Schools is the most heart-breaking collapse of public-sector integrity in Georgia in my adult life. Investigators found that 178 educators, including 38 principals, participated. More than 80 have confessed. Of 56 schools examined, cheating was found at 44. My God! So deep. So widespread.

2. Once in, cheaters were trapped in their own dishonesty — prompting Part 2, the cover-up. Investigators attributed a quote to now-retired principal Armstead Salters that explains how wrongdoing by individuals descends into systemic corruption. Said Salters, according to the report, “If anyone asks you anything about this just tell them you don’t know. … Just stick to the story and it will all go away.” That, one suspects, is the defense bureaucracies teach and learn to avoid accountability for program …

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Atlanta’s employee pension celebration is premature

Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:

● This president is a one-trick pony. He’s absent, and he shows up to string together empty words and phrases that are often highly partisan and polarizing. At this week’s news conference, he demonstrates that the 2012 campaign is under way. Said he: “If we choose to keep those tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires … then that means we’ve got to cut some kids off from getting a college scholarship. That means we’ve got to stop funding certain grants for medical research …” And, using a phrase invented by the left to “balance” recipients’ claims to somebody else’s money: “We’re going to have to tackle spending in the tax code.” If you believe that government owns all your earnings, then, yes, your income tax deduction is government’s spending.

● Decidedly good sense emanates from a three-judge panel on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The panel rules that Congress certainly intended drinking water to be an …

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State’s fiscal leaders get an A-plus

Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:

● U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Thrash’s questions about HB 87 are telling. In a Monday hearing, he questioned its purpose and suggested that it might not be enforced evenly across the state’s 159 counties. That’s because, he hypothesized, local law enforcement could choose to target illegals to get them out of schools, but ignore the illegal who cooks at the town’s popular Mexican restaurant. What he’s describing is what the business and media elite have already done with immigration law. And, too, once you stop trusting law enforcement to behave honorably, ethically and fairly, the rule of law is gone and all laws should be repealed.

● The problem with highway tolls set to alleviate highway congestion is the problem that exists with red-light camera traffic enforcement: There’s a real temptation to manipulate it to give politicians more money to spend for other purposes. An example is Ga. 400. Politicians, both Democrat …

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