Archive for March, 2009

Transportation power shift needs standards, openness

It’s likely not to be particularly noticed, but the most revolutionary change Republicans will have wrought under the Gold Dome is on the verge of becoming law. It’s the shift of power from the Department of Transportation to elected officials. If successful, it is truly the end of an era that was in its heyday under the legendary highway czar Jim Gillis, a former Treutlen County commissioner who served in both houses of the General Assembly and who reigned from 1948 to 1955 and again from 1959 to 1970 as state highway commissioner.

The era when legislators and county commissioners came hat-in-hand to the State Highway Department for roads was preceded by an era in which a winning governor’s political supporters filled patronage ranks. That practice was effectively ended by creation of the state merit system under Georgia’s best reform governor, Ellis Arnall, in office between 1943 and 1947.

The point here is that the politicians and the road-masters have never quite found …

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Obama, Inc. Rue this day.

Thus begins the long journey toward statism in American industry.  An Administration headed by a President who never held a real job in the private sector takes on the task of reinventing General Motors, starting with the forced resignation of GM’s CEO, Rick Wagoner.

This Administration needs some CEOs to do the perp-walk in acknowledgement of the failure of capitalism and as a testament of the wisdom of state overseers who ride to the rescue, cash in hand.  Bankruptcy, surely, would have been cleaner and more honorable than this.

Wagoner can certainly be drawn as the poster boy of an industry’s failure to adapt more quickly to foreign competition and to the spike in oil prices that pushed gasoline to $4 a gallon. Yes, it had too many brands, too many dealers, too much production capacity, and too-high labor costs.  But Wagoner is not the problem and it’s unlikely that there’s anybody better out there to run GM.  Certainly there’s no reason to think an Administration composed …

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Feds, state should stick to own jobs

While President Barack Obama is determined to federalize local school boards, the Georgia General Assembly wades into the affairs of the U.S. State Department to prohibit the state from doing business with firms that do business with Sudan. OK. Respective corners, please.

My desire to have the federal government more deeply involved in the affairs of the neighborhood school are on par with my desire to have my city and state dabbling in foreign policy.

I want the locals to fix potholes and manage the contract for garbage pickup.

I want the state to manage the budget and to fix traffic congestion.

I want the federal government to maintain a strong national defense and to avoid projecting weakness that invites aggression.

I want them to be both honest and transparent. President Obama, continuing the campaign that never ends, took to an Internet forum Thursday to answer questions that started with this beach ball: “Our educational system … is woefully inadequate. How do you plan …

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Blaming us and labeling them

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

  • It’s our fault. Global warming. 9/11. Drug wars in Mexico. Our “insatiable” appetite for illegal drugs and the drug cartels’ access to our guns make us “co-responsible” for Mexico’s problem, says Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Soon we must organize the Apologize for America World Tour for the Obama administration.
  • Notice how labels are applied to make a particular group of people unpopular so that government can more easily move against them or their property? “Predatory” lenders. Super speeders. “Greedy” business executives. “Polluters.” When politicians start applying labels, watch out. They’re coming for you. Super speeders in Georgia, henceforth, will be forking over another $200 for government’s use in possibly funding a trauma care network. Public safety should not be about raising money.
  • Speak kindly of the dead. So, taking my cue from a Sunday headline that says “Gambling is latest hope for a revival” of …

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Slow-death capital punishment affirmed

Georgia effectively ended capital punishment Wednesday — the capital punishment by lethal injection, anyway — in approving an easier route to life without parole.  The House vote was 164-0. The bill had already passed the Senate so it goes now to Gov. Sonny Perdue for his signature.

This means, of course, that Georgia will pass from one generation to the next an aging population of murderers too evil to live free as wards of the state until the end of their natural lives.  The public wants them dead, but lacks the stomach, and therefore the will, to return death penalty verdicts.   Too, some prospective jurors flat-out opposed to capital punishment lie their way onto juries where they deadlock the panel, no matter the evidence  The case that effectively ended the minutes-long form of capital punishment in Georgia was that of Brian Nichols, the mass murderer who killed an Atlanta judge and three others.

Under existing law, a District Attorney had to seek the death penalty …

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Ronald Reagan, he ain’t

The great communicator?  That’d be Ronald Reagan.  And if Tuesday night’s rambling press conference is any indication of how this President will communicate with the American people, it’s clear that Barack Obama is not another RR.  He seriously lacks the ability to connect with the common man.

He may, in fact, be the least effective communicator to occupy the Oval Office since the advent of television. If the American people have any doubt about what’s ahead and the least bit of worry about deficit projections of $9.3 trillion for the next decade, towering deficits that steal quality from our grandchildren’s lives, worry not.  As President Obama reassures, "we have to bend the curve on deficit projections."  And in so doing, the children to come will get on just fine.  We guess. And in some of those "out years" after the curve’s been bent, we’ll all have free Bubble Up and be eating that Rainbow Stew.  Or something.

At times Tuesday night, President Obama appeared to be …

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Pesky Constitution gets in politics’ way again

As the ladies and gentlemen who are the bonus babies at AIG may well discover, those who stand between politicians and re-election — be they individuals or principles — are certain to be trampled.

Such was the case in the lead-up to the 2006 elections when Congress stampeded a 25-year extension of “emergency” provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which were to expire in 2007. Not the Voting Rights Act itself, mind you; The “temporary” provisions put in place 41 years earlier.

Under Section 5, Alaska, Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and all but 11 counties in Virginia are required to get U.S. Justice Department approval for proposed changes in election law.

In a case now before the U.S. Supreme Court, a Texas utility district with no history of discrimination that was first created in 1987 sued to challenge the extension and whether its election laws should be subject to Justice Department oversight. The case will be argued …

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New culture: Cruel joke on fatherless kids

For children, the week’s news could hardly have been worse. Growing numbers of them are born into a world where adults decide after the fact, as Levi Johnston and Bristol Palin did, that “we’ll just remain friends for now,” as he said on “Good Morning America,” and “we’re both cool with that decision.”

Johnston and Palin are the Murphy Browns of this age, celebrities whose highly publicized choices signal acceptance of lifestyle decisions that are devastating to children born down the economic and social ladder. Liberals cite them as evidence that the culture is permanently recentered around the family model of the out-of-wedlock birth.

If so, weep.

The new data from the National Center for Health Statistics reveals an across-the-board tragedy. “All measures of childbearing by unmarried women rose to historic levels in 2007, with the number of births, birth rate, and proportion of births to unmarried women increasing by 3 [percent] to 5 percent,” the center’s statisticians …

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Red-light cameras, leftist victors and scary lawmakers

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

  • Red-light cameras, properly regulated, fail. And they should. Nobody in the justice system, from the cop on the beat to the judge on the bench, should have a shred of interest in ginning up revenue. Levy fines at the minimum necessary to alter undesirable behavior, not because police need new cars, judges and clerks want better retirement systems, or some politician has a pet program in need of dollars.
  • Here’s what happens with education “reform” — or any change from the status quo, for that matter — when you turn your back. No matter how dangerous, no school in Georgia is officially classified as unsafe. Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, children attending those found to be “persistently dangerous” would be entitled to transfer to a safe school. Nobody in the public education hierarchy wants to attach that label. Therefore, finds AJC reporter Heather Vogell: “Even a school where fights, robberies and …

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Does Atlanta airport need fixing?

State Rep. Bob Smith, a Republican whose home district is based just south of Athens in Oconee County, is convinced that Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in need of state attention.

Specifically, he’s introduced legislation that would take authority for running the airport from the City of Atlanta and transfer it to an oversight board that consists of seven people.  The seven would be the mayor of Atlanta, the presiding officer of Atlanta City Council, the Fulton and Clayton County commission chairmen and three members appointed by the governor. 

 State Sen. Kasim Reed, an Atlanta Democrat who would like to be Mayor Shirley Franklin’s successor, joined airport chief Ben DeCosta at a public hearing Tuesday in opposing the bill.  The airport’s not broke so there’s no need to fix it, said DeCosta.

Smith cited long lines and other inconveniences and construction delays and cost overrruns on an international terminal as reasons to consider the change.  His bill …

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