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Cracker Squire


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Location: Douglas, Coffee Co., The Other Georgia, United States

Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Good news: Focus on the Family's Dobson Resigns Post

In years gone by my wife Sally would have me go with her to programs at our local Methodist Church that featured his lecture-films on child-rearing. They were always great and full of good, solid advice.

But in recent year as Dobson has successfully sought to use his ministry to further his social-conservative and Republican Party views and positions, I would not have walked across the street to hear the man, even if he came to Douglas in person.

From The Washington Post:

James Dobson, a child psychologist who became a leader of the religious right, announced yesterday he was stepping down as board chairman of Focus on the Family, the megaministry he and his wife started 32 years ago.

Although many Americans know Dobson for his comments on hot-button political and policy topics,. . . the group spends only about 6 percent of its resources on lobbying and the rest on promoting programs to support traditional marriage and child-rearing.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Wonder why Pres. Obama is down on Afghanistan Pres. Karzai. He denounces coalition bombings, but often refers to the Taliban as brothers.

Even before the election I was telling friends I questioned whether Obama really wanted Afghanistan to be his war as Iraq was President Bush's war.

From The Washington Post:

The additional 17,000 troops the Obama administration is preparing to send to Afghanistan will face both an aggressive, well-armed Taliban insurgency and an unarmed but equally daunting foe: public opinion.

The public disillusionment has several causes, observers said. One is that people see the security situation worsening as the number of foreign troops increases and figure that there must be a connection. Another is that Afghan political leaders, especially President Hamid Karzai, have vehemently denounced coalition bombings that have killed civilians but have been far less outspoken in criticizing Taliban attacks; Karzai often refers to the Taliban as brothers.

The once cocky liar is not so cocky now. He is toast in a week. Illinois governor calls for Burris to resign & White House suggests as much.

From The Wall Street Journal:

A week after Republicans accused Sen. Roland Burris of lying under oath, President Barack Obama's spokesman delivered an ominous warning to him and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn added to calls for his resignation.

There are growing signs that that Democrats in Washington were beginning to lose patience with Mr. Burris, in part because the furor is taking time, energy and focus from their ambitious agenda. But they have few ways to force his hand.

Earlier this week, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, the number two Democrat in the Senate and Mr. Burris' fellow Illinois senator, issued a sharply worded statement saying that "the accuracy and completeness of his testimony and affidavits have been called into serious question."

On Friday, Robert Gibbs, Mr. Obama's press secretary, urged Mr. Burris to take time this weekend to "certainly think of what lays in his future" and to "come up with an explanation that satisfies."

Mr. Burris [has] admitted on Monday night that he tried to raise money for Mr. Blagojevich while at the same time lobbying for the Senate appointment [after earlier denying as much under oath].

This week, the speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives turned over Mr. Burris's testimony to a state prosecutor who could bring perjury charges against him.

The only way to expel a senator is through a two-thirds vote of the full Senate, an extremely rare occurrence that would ordinarily only happen after a recommendation from the Senate Ethics Committee [of which Georgia's Sen. Johnny Isakson is a member].

No senator has been expelled since the Civil War, when 14 were evicted for supporting the South.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The sad painful truth: Sonny Perdue is not a Georgia ‘education governor’

Charles Richardson writes in The Macon Telegraph:

Georgia has been blessed with several “education governors.” According to James Cook’s “The Governors of Georgia, 1754 – 1995,” Gov. Ellis Arnall, in the 1940s, tried to remove politics from education reform by changing the Board of Regents and the State Board of Education from statutory to constitutional bodies and Gov. Melvin Thompson expanded public education to 12 grades.

Gov. Herman Talmadge almost tripled education funding, with teacher salaries doubling in the process, and he spent $168 million for school construction. In the 1950s, Gov. Marvin Griffin hired 3,000 new teachers and built 8,000 new classrooms, and Gov. Ernest Vandiver Jr. saved the public education system during the era of interposition and nullification.

Gov. Carl Sanders, in the 1960s, added 10,000 teachers and built more schools and classrooms than any previous governor. In the 1970s, Gov. George Busbee created a statewide kindergarten program and Gov. Joe Frank Harris led the fight to overhaul education with the Quality Basic Education Act. In the 1990s Gov. Zell Miller pushed the state’s lottery, the source of HOPE funds for higher education, pre-K and technology improvements in K-12 education, and Gov. Roy Barnes passed the A+ Education Act and poured money into teacher raises in each year of his term.

In 2002 Sonny Perdue was elected governor with the help of teachers who chafed at Barnes’ efforts to improve public education. How do teachers like Sonny now? Instead of raises, teachers receive a $100 gift card. When they do receive raises, they also get hit with increases in health-care costs. Instead of funding increases — to handle the additional students in one of the nation’s fastest growing states — more than $2.5 billion has been sucked out of the K-12 education pipeline. Higher Ed, on its way to national prominence, isn’t feeling good either. Frankly, the state of education in Georgia looks grim. Most school systems have had to face two realities: Raise local taxes or cut programs, many of which can’t be touched because of state mandates.

The atmosphere between state government and public education is increasingly hostile because teachers and administrators can’t take what the state says to the bank.

Georgia’s 180 school systems are preparing to lay off or furlough teachers in an era when teacher shortages are rampant, and most systems are dealing with shortfalls, from transportation to textbooks, due to cuts recommended by the governor, who feels no remorse when it comes to reneging on promises. While proposing to pay extra for teachers and administrators whose children show improvement, he’s cutting the extra pay promised for nationally certified teachers.

While the economy is being blamed for the latest cuts, throughout Gov. Perdue’s tenure, in good times and bad, education has been treated like a red-haired step-child. The brunt of balancing the state’s budget has been thrown on the child’s back. The reason the state has a surplus, such as it is, was made possible only by cutting education, and now Perdue plans to hit it again. He plans to suck $99 million from K-12 education and $20 million from the university system. Thank goodness for the stimulus package or the cuts would have been deeper.

Education in Georgia lags behind most other states, and one of the reasons is the lack of advocacy from the governor’s office and from the state’s superintendent of schools, who hasn’t said a mumbling word as the cuts roll down from on high. While the governor talks a good education game, the proof is in the priorities of his budgets. He is not an education governor. That fact is clear.

Damn, wouldn't you know it: Ga. benefits of stimulus package greatest in Republican north metro Atlanta whose Republican representatives opposed it.

From the AJC's Political Insider:

[A]ccording to the White House, the stimulus will be the greatest boon in north metro Atlanta congressional districts whose Republican representatives opposed it.

The package will create or save about 9,900 jobs in Georgia’s 7th congressional district, represented by John Linder of Duluth.

Another 9,200 jobs will be created or saved in Georgia’s 6th District, which is represented by Republican Tom Price of Roswell [who has been among the most ardent opponents of the package].

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I deferred doing a post on this topic Sat., but this is getting worse & beginning to smell -- Burris tried to raise funds for Blagojevich

From the AJC:

U.S. Sen. Roland Burris now acknowledges attempting to raise money for ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich — an explosive twist in his evolving story on how he landed a coveted Senate appointment from the man accused of trying to sell the seat.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Interesting, very interesting: U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston may mull run for governor

Kingston has wanted to do this a long time, even when the GOP controlled Congress and he enjoyed a position of power and influence on the Appropriations Committee. This notwithstanding, the odds at the present are against his running, although even the talk of his running is most interesting. Stay tuned.

From The Brunswick News:

U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston isn't all-out denying rumors that he plans to run for governor, but a staffer says the congressman from Coastal Georgia is too busy thinking about the stimulus package to think about a campaign right now.

Stimulus? For Social Programs, Long-Awaited Boost -- 'Paradigm Shift' Seen in Stimulus Plan

From The Washington Post:

The economic stimulus package dramatically ramps up spending for a broad array of social programs for needy Americans in a way not seen since the launch of the Great Society programs.

The bill includes billions in new money for food stamps, expanded child care and services for the homeless. It funds long-sought increases in education funding for low-income and special education students, new refundable tax credits for low-income workers, stepped-up job training, expanded health-care coverage, and an increase of $100 a month in unemployment insurance.

All of the new spending is temporary, with most of it slated to end after two years. And given the nation's bleak budgetary outlook, even many supporters of the programs say there will be no option but to roll back the increases once the immediate economic crisis passes.

Some analysts think the increases will prove politically difficult to pare back once the initial round of funding expires, and they see the stimulus package as part economic shock treatment, part social policy transformation.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Getting to $787 Billion

After a month of wrangling, 246 House Democrats, 57 Senate Democrats and three Senate Republicans voted to pass a compromise economic recovery package of spending provisions, tax cuts and aid to laid-off workers and their families. The 1,073-page bill contains hundreds of provisions. This chart from The Wall Street Journal show how they add up. WOW!!

I'm for it. I think this is where we are: Do We Need a New Internet?

From The New York Times:

[T]here is a growing belief among engineers and security experts that Internet security and privacy have become so maddeningly elusive that the only way to fix the problem is to start over.

What a new Internet might look like is still widely debated, but one alternative would, in effect, create a “gated community” where users would give up their anonymity and certain freedoms in return for safety. Today that is already the case for many corporate and government Internet users. As a new and more secure network becomes widely adopted, the current Internet might end up as the bad neighborhood of cyberspace. You would enter at your own risk and keep an eye over your shoulder while you were there.

The Internet’s original designers never foresaw that the academic and military research network they created would one day bear the burden of carrying all the world’s communications and commerce. There was no one central control point and its designers wanted to make it possible for every network to exchange data with every other network. Little attention was given to security. Since then, there have been immense efforts to bolt on security, to little effect.

At Stanford, where the software protocols for original Internet were designed, researchers are creating a system to make it possible to slide a more advanced network quietly underneath today’s Internet. By the end of the summer it will be running on eight campus networks around the country.

The Internet’s current design virtually guarantees anonymity to its users. (As a New Yorker cartoon noted some years ago, “On the Internet, nobody knows that you’re a dog.”) But that anonymity is now the most vexing challenge for law enforcement. An Internet attacker can route a connection through many countries to hide his location, which may be from an account in an Internet cafe purchased with a stolen credit card.

A more secure network is one that would almost certainly offer less anonymity and privacy. That is likely to be the great tradeoff for the designers of the next Internet. One idea, for example, would be to require the equivalent of drivers’ licenses to permit someone to connect to a public computer network. But that runs against the deeply held libertarian ethos of the Internet.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Say it ain't so: Stimulus Would Alter Depression-Era Unemployment Benefit System

From Bloomberg:

The stimulus legislation would revamp the 74-year-old U.S. unemployment compensation program by encouraging states to give benefits to those who quit their jobs to care for ailing relatives.

The provision, sponsored by Representative Jim McDermott, is in the $789 billion compromise reached by House and Senate negotiators. Critics say the change would undermine the original intent of the Depression-era program as a cushion only for people whose jobs disappear.

“It’s fundamentally at odds with the basic tenets of unemployment insurance: temporary cash payments for people who lose their job though no fault of their own,” said Douglas Holmes, president of UWC-Strategic Services on Unemployment and Workers Compensation, a Washington-based group that represents employers. “Unemployment insurance is not public assistance, it’s not a family support program, it’s not food stamps.”

As U.S. Job Opportunities Fade, More Mexicans Look Homeward

From The Wall Street Journal:

After a historic immigration wave, many Mexicans and other Latin Americans are preparing to return to their homelands amid the deepening recession here. Mexicans who reside in the U.S. sought Mexican citizenship for their U.S.-born children in record numbers last year.

The number of people caught trying to sneak into the U.S. along the border with Mexico is at its lowest level since the mid-1970s. While some of the drop-off is the result of stricter border enforcement, the weaker U.S. economy is likely the main deterrent. Border Patrol agents apprehended 705,000 people attempting to enter the U.S. illegally in the 12 months that ended Sept. 30. That is down from 858,638 a year before and from 1.1 million two years earlier.

U.S. nationality has long been regarded as a prized commodity for immigrants from developing countries. Anti-illegal immigrant activists accuse Latin American migrants of giving birth to "anchor babies" in the U.S. in order to secure welfare and other benefits.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Congress talks the talk, but won't walk the walk -- Lawmakers' Goal to Cap Executive Pay Meets Resistance

From The Washington Post:

Congressional efforts to impose stringent restrictions on executive compensation appeared to be evaporating yesterday as House and Senate negotiators worked to fine-tune the compromise stimulus bill.

Provisions to impose a penalty on banks that paid hefty bonuses and to cap pay at $400,000 for all employees at firms applying for additional government funds did not survive the compromise, sources said.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Return of Welfare As We Knew It -- The House stimulus bill endangers Clinton's biggest reform

From The Wall Street Journal:

Twelve years ago, President Bill Clinton signed a law that he correctly proclaimed would end "welfare as we know it." That sweeping legislation, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, eliminated the open-ended entitlement that had existed since 1965, replacing it with a finite, block grant approach called the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program.

TANF has been a remarkable success. Welfare caseloads nationally fell from 12.6 million in 1997 to fewer than five million in 2007. And yet despite this achievement, House Democrats are seeking to undo Mr. Clinton's reforms under the cover of the stimulus bill.

Currently, welfare recipients are limited to a total of five years of federal benefits over a lifetime. They're also required to begin working after two years of government support. States are accountable for helping their needy citizens transition from handouts to self-sufficiency. Critically, the funds provided to states are fixed appropriations by the federal government.

Through a little noticed provision of the stimulus package that has passed the House of Representatives, the bill creates a fund for TANF that is open-ended -- the same way Medicare and Social Security are.

The offending language is not in yesterday's Senate version of the bill, but that provides little comfort. The attempt to undo welfare reform has not been transparent, and the conference committee provides the perfect closed-door environment for slipping in "such sums [as are necessary]" language into the final bill without public scrutiny.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Frank Rich: President needs to get in front of the mounting public anger.

Frank Rich writes in The New York Times:

SOMEDAY historians may look back at Tom Daschle’s flameout as a minor one-car (and chauffeur) accident. But that will depend on whether or not it’s followed by a multi-vehicle pileup that still could come. Even as President Obama refreshingly took responsibility for having “screwed up,” it’s not clear that he fully understands the huge forces that hit his young administration last week.

The tsunami of populist rage coursing through America is bigger than Daschle’s overdue tax bill, bigger than John Thain’s trash can, bigger than any bailed-out C.E.O.’s bonus. It’s even bigger than the Obama phenomenon itself. It could maim the president’s best-laid plans and what remains of our economy if he doesn’t get in front of the mounting public anger.

Like nearly everyone else in Washington, Obama was blindsided by the savagery and speed of Daschle’s demise. Conventional wisdom had him surviving the storm. Such is the city’s culture that not a single Republican or Democratic senator called for his withdrawal until the morning of his exit. Membership in the exclusive Senate club, after all, has its privileges. Among Daschle’s more vocal defenders was Bob Dole, who had recruited him to Alston & Bird, the law and lobbying firm where Dole has served as “special counsel” when not otherwise cashing in on his own Senate years by serving as a pitchman for Pepsi and Viagra.

In New York, editorial pages on both ends of the political spectrum, The Wall Street Journal and The Times, called for Daschle to step down. But not The Washington Post. In a frank expression of the capital’s isolation from the country, it thought Daschle could still soldier on even though “ordinary Americans who pay their taxes may well wonder why Mr. Obama can’t find cabinet secretaries who do the same.”

As Jon Stewart might say, oh those pesky ordinary Americans!

In reality, Daschle’s tax shortfall, an apparently honest mistake, was only a red flag for the larger syndrome that much of Washington still doesn’t get. It was the source, not the amount, of his unreported income that did him in. The car and driver advertised his post-Senate immersion in the greedy bipartisan culture of entitlement and crony capitalism that both helped create our economic meltdown (on Wall Street) and failed to police it (in Washington). Daschle might well have been the best choice to lead health-care reform. But his honorable public record was instantly vaporized by tales of his cozy, lucrative relationships with the very companies he’d have to adjudicate as health czar.

Few articulate this ethical morass better than Obama, who has repeatedly vowed to “close the revolving door” between business and government and end our “two sets of standards, one for powerful people and one for ordinary folks.” But his tough new restrictions on lobbyists (already compromised by inexplicable exceptions) and porous plan for salary caps on bailed-out bankers are only a down payment on this promise, even if they are strictly enforced.

The new president who vowed to change Washington’s culture will have to fight much harder to keep from being co-opted by it instead. There are simply too many major players in the Obama team who are either alumni of the financial bubble’s insiders’ club or of the somnambulant governmental establishment that presided over the catastrophe.

This includes Timothy Geithner, the Treasury secretary. Washington hands repeatedly observe how “lucky” Geithner was to be the first cabinet nominee with an I.R.S. problem, not the second, and therefore get confirmed by Congress while the getting was good. Whether or not this is “lucky” for him, it is hardly lucky for Obama. Geithner should have left ahead of Daschle.

Now more than ever, the president must inspire confidence and stave off panic. As Friday’s new unemployment figures showed, the economy kept plummeting while Congress postured. Though Obama is a genius at building public support, he is not Jesus and he can’t do it all alone. On Monday, it’s Geithner who will unveil the thorniest piece of the economic recovery plan to date — phase two of a bank rescue. The public face of this inevitably controversial package is now best known as the guy who escaped the tax reckoning that brought Daschle down.

Even before the revelation of his tax delinquency, the new Treasury secretary was a dubious choice to make this pitch. Geithner was present at the creation of the first, ineffectual and opaque bank bailout — TARP, today the most radioactive acronym in American politics. Now the double standard that allowed him to wriggle out of his tax mess is a metaphor for the double standard of the policy he must sell: Most “ordinary Americans” still don’t understand why banks got billions while nothing was done (and still isn’t being done) to bail out those who lost their homes, jobs and retirement savings.

As with Daschle, the political problems caused by Geithner’s tax infraction are secondary to the larger questions raised by his past interaction with the corporations now under his purview. To his credit, Geithner, like Obama, has devoted his career to public service, not buckraking. But he still has not satisfactorily explained why, as president of the New York Fed, he failed in his oversight of the teetering Wall Street institutions. Nor has he told us why, in his first major move in his new job, he secured a waiver from Obama to hire a Goldman Sachs lobbyist as his chief of staff. Nor, in his confirmation hearings, did he prove any more credible than the Bush Treasury secretary, the Goldman Sachs alumnus Hank Paulson, in explaining why Lehman Brothers was allowed to fail while A.I.G. and Citigroup were spared.

Citigroup had one highly visible asset that Lehman did not: Robert Rubin, the former Clinton Treasury secretary who sat passively (though lucratively) in its executive suite as Citi gorged on reckless risk. Geithner, as a Rubin protégé from the Clinton years, might have recused himself from rescuing Citi, which so far has devoured $45 billion in bailout money.

Key players in the Obama economic team beyond Geithner are also tied to Rubin or Citigroup or both, from Larry Summers, the administration’s top economic adviser, to Gary Gensler, the newly named nominee to run the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and a Treasury undersecretary in the Clinton administration. Back then, Summers and Gensler joined hands with Phil Gramm to ward off regulation of the derivative markets that have since brought the banking system to ruin. We must take it on faith that they have subsequently had judgment transplants.

Obama’s brilliant appointees, we keep being told, are irreplaceable. But as de Gaulle said, “The cemeteries of the world are full of indispensable men.” You have to wonder if this team is really a meritocracy or merely a stacked deck. Not only did Rubin himself serve on the Obama economic transition team, but two of the transition’s headhunters were Michael Froman, Rubin’s chief of staff at Treasury and later a Citigroup executive, and James S. Rubin, an investor who is Robert Rubin’s son.

A welcome outlier to this club is Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman chosen to direct Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. But Bloomberg reported last week that Summers is already freezing Volcker out of many of his deliberations on economic policy. This sounds like the arrogant Summers who was fired as president of Harvard, not the chastened new Summers advertised at the time of his appointment. A team of rivals is not his thing.

Americans have had enough of such arrogance, whether in the public or private sectors, whether Democrat or Republican. Voters turned on Sarah Palin not just because of her manifest unfitness for office but because her claims of being a regular hockey mom were contradicted by her Evita shopping sprees. John McCain’s sanctification of Joe the Plumber (himself a tax delinquent) never could be squared with his inability to remember how many houses he owned. A graphic act of entitlement also stripped naked that faux populist John Edwards.

The public’s revulsion isn’t mindless class hatred. As Obama said on Wednesday of his fellow citizens: “We don’t disparage wealth. We don’t begrudge anybody for achieving success.” But we do know that the system has been fixed for too long. The gaping income inequality of the past decade — the top 1 percent of America’s earners received more than 20 percent of the total national income — has not been seen since the run-up to the Great Depression.

This is why “Slumdog Millionaire,” which pits a hard-working young man in Mumbai against a corrupt nexus of money and privilege, has become America’s movie of the year. As Robert Reich, the former Clinton labor secretary, wrote after Daschle’s fall, Americans “resent people who appear to be living high off a system dominated by insiders with the right connections.”

The neo-Hoover Republicans in Congress, who think government can put Americans back to work with corporate tax cuts but without any “spending,” are tone deaf to this rage. Obama is not. It’s a good thing he’s getting out of Washington this week to barnstorm the country about the crisis at hand. Once back home, he’s got to make certain that the insiders in his own White House know who’s the boss.

Obama's Stimulus Stumble

Peggy Noonan writes in The Wall Street Journal:

On the economy, I continue to find no one, Democrat or Republican, who has faith that the stimulus bill passed by the House will solve anything or make anything better, though many argue that doing absolutely nothing will surely make things worse by not promising at least the possibility of improvement through action.

Meanwhile, the inquest on President Obama's great stimulus mistake continues.

His serious and consequential policy mistake is that he put his prestige behind not a new way of breaking through but an old way of staying put. This marked a dreadful misreading of the moment. And now he's digging in. His political mistake, which in retrospect we will see as huge, is that he remoralized the Republicans. He let them back in the game.

Mr. Obama has a talent for reviving his enemies. He did it with Hillary Clinton, who almost beat him after his early wins, and who was given the State Department. He has now done it with Republicans on the Hill. This is very nice of him, but not in his interests. Mr. Obama should have written the stimulus bill side by side with Republicans, picked them off, co-opted their views. Did he not understand their weakness? They had no real position from which to oppose high and wasteful spending, having backed eight years of it with nary a peep. They started the struggle over the stimulus bill at a real disadvantage. Then four things: Nancy Pelosi served up old-style pork, Mr. Obama swallowed it, Republicans shocked themselves by being serious, and then they startled themselves by being unified. But it was their seriousness that was most important: They didn't know they were! They hadn't been in years!

This is not smart; the risks far outweigh any reward: ‘Mom in Chief’ Touches on Policy, and Tongues Wag

From The New York Times:

The government workers greeted Michelle Obama like a Hollywood celebrity, whooping and cheering and oohing and aahing over her slate gray power suit. But when she took to the podium, the nation’s self-described mom in chief quickly turned policy wonk.

The government workers greeted Michelle Obama like a Hollywood celebrity, whooping and cheering and oohing and aahing over her slate gray power suit. But when she took to the podium, the nation’s self-described mom in chief quickly turned policy wonk.

It is a notably different approach than the one embraced by the former first lady, Laura Bush, who like most others steered clear of discussing legislation.

[Some] expressed surprise, saying they had expected Mrs. Obama to focus on her daughters and on the traditional issues she had emphasized in the presidential campaign, like supporting military families and working parents. Her remarks, they said, carried echoes of former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, though Mrs. Obama has said she will not become involved in policymaking as Mrs. Clinton did.

“She went to some lengths to say she was going to be first mom in chief,” Myra Gutin, a scholar of first ladies at Rider University in New Jersey, said of Mrs. Obama. “I don’t think we ever really imagined her edging toward public policy like this. It’s not like she’s making public policy. But it’s a little less neutral than some of the other things she’s talked about focusing on.”

Saturday, February 07, 2009

When People Stop Moving, So Do Congressional Seats

From The Wall Street Journal:

Here's something else that's likely to be affected by the recession: voting power on Capitol Hill.

Just a year or two ago, New York seemed set to lose two seats in the House of Representatives after the 2010 census as its retirees fled south. Fast-growing Florida was expected to pick them up, giving each state 27 representatives. And North Carolina, the focus of massive Hispanic immigration, looked poised to add a seat.

But the spreading recession and foreclosure turmoil could change those plans, along with so much else.

Suddenly, Americans are less willing and able to move, and that's likely to have an impact on the Congressional map -- and on the political muscle that some states will have in electing the next three presidents, angling for federal dollars and setting the national agenda.

A single vote isn't an insignificant margin. The House passed the 2003 prescription drug plan by just one vote.

Now, swing-state Florida is likely to gain just one seat and reliably Democratic New York will lose just one, according to separate projections by Election Data Services, which analyzes population trends for the Democratic Party, and Polidata, which does the same thing for the Republicans.

That will help the Democrats retain their House majority, but New York's Congressional delegation also will have a bigger voice than Florida's in deciding how Congress divides up billions of dollars in economic stimulus funds.

Texas, a reliably Republican state, now will get four new seats, including the seat that North Carolina, another swing state, was expecting. And solidly Democratic California, which was on track to lose a seat for the first time ever, may hold onto it after all.

Americans have historically been willing to move to hot employment markets when jobs contracted at home. But with the current slowdown spreading nationwide and across almost every industry, there aren't many employment hot spots to move to.

Even if there were, falling home prices and the credit crunch have made it nearly impossible for many people to sell their homes or line up a mortgage to buy a new one. The Pew Research Center calculates that only 11.9% of the population changed homes last year, the lowest percentage since the U.S. Census Bureau began asking the question in the 1940s.

At the same time, foreign immigration has slowed as jobs have evaporated. The Census Bureau reported that 1,038,000 immigrants arrived between July 2006 and July 2007. A year later -- and even before the turmoil in the credit and stock markets began last fall -- that dropped to 889,000.

Nevada's growth rate fell by more than one third between July 2007 and July 2008, and Florida's and Arizona's were down by one-fifth. New York, which added 15,000 people between July 2006 and July 2007, grew by four times that many a year later. The same number of babies were born, the same number of people died, but 63,000 fewer New Yorkers moved away.

Many demographers say that Census Day is too soon for those trends to change very much. The population count on April 1, 2010, will be used to apportion the 435 House seats for the next decade and most of the votes in the Electoral College through the 2020 presidential election.

Those allocations won't change until after the 2020 census, even if the economy and immigration quickly pick up steam and Americans resume their wanderlust. That would leave residents of fast-growing states under-represented in the House and those in slow-growth states with an unfair share.

The news may be even worse than it now looks for some states because the Census Bureau's estimates are probably already out of date. Both Election Data Services and Polidata expect Arizona to pick up two seats based on those estimates. But Arizona, one of the epicenters of the foreclosure crisis, would lose one of those seats if just 48,745 people move away while other state populations remain steady, Election Data Services calculated.

The margins by which other states could gain or lose a seat are even closer. Oregon will pick up its sixth seat with a margin of just 2,558 people. If it doesn't keep those people and Washington picks up 4,431 people above current projections, it will get the seat instead, according to the Election Data Services.

Those potentially tiny margins are likely to add to Congressional scrutiny of the census, with states complaining that undercounts have cost them seats. But the Census Bureau is struggling with technology glitches and lacks a permanent director.

Cash-strapped states, including California, have dropped get-out-the-count efforts that helped census takers find poor, immigrant and transient households in the past, said Terri Ann Lowenthal, who publishes a newsletter on the census.

Record foreclosures and job losses also could leave people uncounted, she added. In a census trial run last year, some people who were behind on their mortgages or were living in foreclosed homes wouldn't open their doors. "They were afraid it was the sheriff," said Ms. Lowenthal.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Cool It Mr. President. Haste makes waste. -- Obama Demands Action on Stimulus Bill

Lower the rhetoric a couple of notches Mr. President. Haste makes waste as evidenced by what came out of the Bush Administration after September 15 when Lehman Brothers collapsed.

Also, you have talked the talk about bipartisanship, now lets try to do better at walking the walk.

From The Wall Street Journal:

President Barack Obama decried as "inexcusable and irresponsible" the delay of his economic recovery legislation in Congress with an estimated 3.6 million Americans losing their jobs since the recession began.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Bring it on brother: Old Ways Doomed New Job for Daschle -- Some See Failed Nomination as Harbinger of Change

From The Washington Post:

A classic rule of Washington's political culture -- that public service can lead to personal riches -- seemed to collide yesterday with the presidential promise that the time has come for a break with the past.

Daschle's 30-year career in Washington [was] built on a reputation of integrity and decency. After losing his Senate seat while serving as that body's most powerful Democrat in 2004, he swiftly signed on as a special policy adviser to a 900-member law firm [Alston & Bird] and pulled in a multimillion-dollar salary. It is a well-worn path, trod by dozens of ex-lawmakers in the past decade.

But some observing the debacle wondered if the capital's ways were changing. [Daschle's story shows] how he fell in with the monied elite and out with the popular mood . . . [and may represent] "some sort of bridge between an old Washington and the new Washington."

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Wall Street and the financials are killing Obama as he attemps to assist them -- Banks Sought Foreign Workers As System Crashed

From CNBC Online:

Major U.S. banks sought government permission to bring thousands of foreign workers into the country for high-paying jobs even as the system was melting down last year and Americans were getting laid off, according to an Associated Press review of visa applications.

Hey firefighters. Have you ever heard what Pres. Reagan did with the air traffic controllers? -- Stations closed as Atlanta firefighters call in sick

From the AJC:

Declaring the Atlanta Fire Department in “an extremely vulnerable situation” because of a wave of firefighter absenteeism, Chief Kelvin J. Cochran on Sunday ordered five stations temporarily closed.

This better not happen or all hell is going to break loose: Bobby Knight interested in UGA job

You don't see many posts like this on this blog, but I could not resist. Having gone to Davidson, I can't claim to be a Georgia alumnus. But my three daughters and a son-in-law are Dawgs, and I do love the game.

Furman Bisher of the AJC is reporting that Bobby Kight would accept if offered the head basketball coaching job at Georgia. If this even gets serious consideration both Damon Evans and Coach Adams are going to catch some kind of hell.

Geithner's confirmation notwithstanding, Daschle's could be in serious trouble. He knew of tax issues over car use last June & did not inform Obama.

From The New York Times:

President Obama’s choice for health secretary, Tom Daschle, was aware as early as last June that he might have to pay back taxes for the use of a car and driver provided by a private equity firm, but did not inform the Obama transition team until weeks after Mr. Obama named him to the health secretary’s post, senior administration officials said Saturday.

At least six leading Democratic senators have come out in support of Mr. Daschle, but the fate of his nomination is unclear. The Senate Finance Committee, which is charged with holding a confirmation hearing on Mr. Daschle’s nomination, will meet behind closed doors Monday to discuss his taxes. After Timothy F. Geithner, Mr. Obama’s Treasury secretary, faced similar issues, some senators may have little appetite for confirming another nominee with tax problems.

A New Symbol of Elite Access: E-Mail to the Chief

The few who can send e-mail to President Obama, whose cybercircle has been limited for security reasons, include, from left, David Axelrod, senior adviser; Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff; and Robert Gibbs, the press secretary.

From The New York Times:

For decades, the capital scoured state dinner invitation lists and Camp David visitor logs for clues to who was in and who was out.

Former President Bill Clinton established a new class of insider with his Lincoln Bedroom sleepovers, although those usually came with an implicit price tag as he tried to raise campaign money. Former President George W. Bush provided fewer opportunities for the elite to demonstrate their eliteness by virtually abandoning state dinners, but there were invitations to his Texas ranch to clear brush, a dubious distinction, perhaps, during 100-degree Crawford summers.

Now there is President Obama’s e-mail, the first used by a commander in chief while in office. “This is the 21st-century version of the same special access that certain people are always granted to the president,” said Joel P. Johnson, a senior White House adviser under Mr. Clinton.

[For those not reading the whole article, the three shown above are not the only ones on the list, and the list includes Biden, but the list is presumed small.]