The Locker Room

March 10, 2011

Green light for groins

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 5:43 PM

The Senate voted 35-13 today to approve a bill that would reverse the state's ban on coastal terminal groins, also called seawalls. It's the first of two required Senate votes.

Sara Burrows covered this issue here, and John Hood co-wrote a recent op-ed making the case against "beach mansion bailouts."

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Guess what Common Cause is up to?

Posted by Rick Henderson at 4:13 PM

From a e-mail sent by Rock the Vote, the MTV-inspired group that, among other things, sent fake draft notices to young voters in 2004 suggesting that the Bush administration was on the verge of reinstating the draft. (The goal was to drum up votes for John Kerry.)

Now, they're active on the Voter ID front. The text of the e-mail follows:

Friends,

With your help, we registered and turned out young voters in North Carolina, helping to increase turnout over the last midterm election and building on the momentum of the great turnout in 2008.  Now, just a few months after Election Day, the progress we've made is at risk.  Today, a bill was introduced in the General Assembly that will impose harsh new photo ID requirements.  We anticipate that following this fight, we will see legislation that would eliminate same day registration and the ability for 16 and 17 year olds to pre-register to vote. 

We need your help to fight back. 

Fortunately, there will be plenty of opportunities to get involved. Here are some things you can do to help:

1. Show up at a public hearing in Raleigh on Tuesday: The House Elections Committee is holding a public hearing to talk about the photo ID bill next Tuesday. Anyone from the public can attend, learn more about the bill, ask questions, and provide testimony to the legislators. The hearing is next Tuesday, March 15 at 2:00 p.m. in the Legislative Office Building (room 643) in Raleigh.

We need you there! Common Cause will hold a quick training for all potential speakers between now and Monday so that you can be familiar with the proposed photo ID law. It is critical that we have a diverse student presence there, especially students who attend private colleges (because your student ID will NOT be accepted under this law).

If you are interested in testifying, please contact Tracy Leatherberry at Common Cause: tleatherberry@commoncause.org or 336-312-5196 . She will schedule a time to talk with you to give you more details about the bill and your testimony.

2. Phone banking: Thursday (TODAY!), March 10th from 5:15 to 8:30 p.m. at the offices of Democracy North Carolina (1821 Green Street in Durham)

We will be calling constituents of crucial lawmakers across the state, urging voters to contact these legislators and ask them to oppose the photo ID legislation. In the coming days, there will also be phone banks in Charlotte, Wilmington, and Raleigh. Contact me - ericz@rockthevote.com - for more information about those phone banks.

3. Contact your legislator: If you haven't already, please use this form to contact your representatives in opposition to the photo ID bill: http://bit.ly/eFsgPG

4. Sign a letter to boards of trustees at private colleges and universities: If you are a student or leader at a private college or university in North Carolina, please let me know - at ericz@rockthevote.com - so we can connect you with these critical efforts. (Photo IDs from private schools in the state would not be acceptable ID at the polls.)

5. Spread the word! Forward this email to your friends. Update your Facebook status, urging people to get involved in one of the actions above. Tweet your opposition to photo ID and use the #NCGA hashtag. Every legislator is connected to updates from this hashtag, so make sure you take the opportunity to voice your opinion.

We are just getting started and I hope we can continue counting on you. I am looking forward to working with you to stop the war on voting in North Carolina.

Sincerely,

Eric Zoberman
Field Director, Rock the Vote


Committee members on Tuesday might want to ask any youngish people who oppose the voter ID bill if they're simply regurgitating Common Cause talking points. Just a thought.

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A North Carolina Supreme Court review

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 2:15 PM

The state Supreme Court decided about five dozen cases on the merits during its 2010 term.  Attorneys Philip Romohr and Daren Bakst delved into the statistics and details of some of those cases during a presentation today for the John Locke Foundation and the Federalist Society.

In the video clip below, Romohr discusses interesting statistics related to the split between majority and dissenting opinions within those sixty cases.

In the next clip, Bakst critiques a controversial ruling in a case that kept murders behind bars, even though "good-time" credits earned within the 1970s-era law under which they were sentenced could have helped set them free.

2:50 p.m. update: Click play below to watch the full 1:06:57 presentation.

You'll find other John Locke Foundation video presentations here.

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Graphing colossal economic folly, March 2011 edition

Posted by Jon Sanders at 11:32 AM

Jim Pethokoukis of Reuters updates the infamous Bernstein/Romer graph (q.v., my update of same in December 2010) that the incoming Obama administration used to scare Congress into passing his "stimulus" boondoggle--legislation which flung us pell-mell into our present financial crisis while the president's water carriers stamp and shriek like hysterical Chip Dillers that "ALL IS WELL!"

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New at CJO: Republicans compromise on charter school bill

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 11:08 AM

Sara Burrows' latest Carolina Journal Online report focuses on the compromises Republicans have made as they push a bill to lift the state's charter school cap.

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Bettman needs a game misconduct penalty

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:00 AM

Sure, he eventually delivered on an old promise to bring an all-star game to Raleigh, but National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman deserves a penalty for his role in a scheme to saddle Arizona taxpayers with a $100 million bill associated with the private sale of the Phoenix Coyotes.

Our friends at the free-market Goldwater Institute offer this background:

Chicago businessman Matt Hulsizer is trying to buy the Phoenix Coyotes hockey team, and as part of that deal will be paid $100 million by the City of Glendale, Arizona. But Arizona has a provision in its state Constitution called the Gift Clause that prevents these types of giveaways to private businesses. We have raised red flags with the city, media, and bond rating agencies that this deal may violate the Arizona Constitution. As a result, the City of Glendale has threatened to sue us—for $500 million. And [Tuesday] night, the commissioner of the National Hockey League, Gary Bettman, came to Phoenix and held a press conference to chastise us for standing in the way.

During his press conference, Bettman said, “It fascinates me that whoever is running the Goldwater Institute can substitute their judgment for that of the Glendale city council.” To which Darcy Olsen, our CEO, replied, “I guess we are both fascinated...It happens to fascinate me that the Commissioner thinks Glendale can substitute its judgment for the rule of law.”

This is a textbook case of corporate welfare and a great example of what we are all fighting every day to stop. The bottom line is that if this guy wants to own the team, and make money from it, then he should do what every other business owner does: buy the team with his own money.

As the John Locke Foundation noted in an entry on “Convention centers, stadiums, water parks, and restaurants” in its latest City-County Issue Guide:

City council members and county commissioners should not use taxpayer funds to fund projects in the private sector. They have no expertise as venture capitalists, and they don’t bear the financial risks of their choices. It is no surprise that the vast majority of these projects fail, leaving the taxpayers holding the bag.

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Samuelson defends his proposal to reform ‘middle-class welfare’

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:58 AM

The latest Newsweek column from Robert J. Samuelson challenges popular — and dangerous — notions about Social Security:

In a recent column on the senior-citizen lobby, I noted that Social Security is often “middle-class welfare” that bleeds the country. This offended many readers. In an email, one snarled: “Social Security is not adding one penny to our national debt, you idiot.” Others were more dignified: “Let’s refrain from insulting individuals who have worked all their lives … by insinuating that [their] earned benefits are welfare.” Some argued that Social Security, with a $2.6 trillion trust fund, doesn’t contribute to our budgetary problem at all.

Wrong. As a rule, I don’t use one column to comment on another. But I’m making an exception because the issue is so important. Recall that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, the main programs for the elderly, exceed 40 percent of federal spending. Exempting them from cuts—as polls indicate many Americans prefer—would ordain huge deficits, steep tax increases, or draconian reductions in other programs. That’s a disastrous formula for the future.

We don’t call Social Security “welfare” because it’s a pejorative term and politicians don’t want to offend. So they classify Social Security as something else, when it isn’t. Here’s how I define a welfare program: first, it taxes one group to support another group, meaning it’s pay-as-you-go and not a contributory scheme where people’s own savings pay their later benefits; and second, Congress can constantly alter benefits, reflecting changing needs, economic conditions, and politics. Social Security qualifies on both counts.

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Some wisdom from Larry Summers

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:57 AM

Regardless of his record, former Obama administration economic adviser Larry Summers can offer an occasional witty remark, as evidenced in the latest Newsweek:

You just gave your first lecture of the semester, titled “The Recent Financial Crisis.” What do you want kids in the back row to remember?

The three most dangerous words on a ski slope are “Follow me, Dad.” The four most dangerous words in finance are “It’s different this time.”

Of course, “It’s different this time” is the title of a popular recent book from Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff. As the book’s publicists tell us:

Using clear, sharp analysis and comprehensive data, Reinhart and Rogoff document that financial fallouts occur in clusters and strike with surprisingly consistent frequency, duration, and ferocity. They examine the patterns of currency crashes, high and hyperinflation, and government defaults on international and domestic debts--as well as the cycles in housing and equity prices, capital flows, unemployment, and government revenues around these crises. While countries do weather their financial storms, Reinhart and Rogoff prove that short memories make it all too easy for crises to recur.

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A rising Democratic star likes Christie’s record

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:56 AM

One of the more fascinating articles in the latest Newsweek focuses on the positive reviews New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is getting from a surprising source:

Democrats were meant to take heart from a poll released earlier this year showing that Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, could be beaten by the right opponent.

But the poll (conducted by Democratic firm Public Policy Polling) was not exactly a repudiation of Christie’s policies. The one Democrat who could beat him: Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey’s deeply distressed largest city, who happens to agree with much of the Christie program.

The Booker-Christie alliance—they communicate nearly daily by telephone or text—is one of the more intriguing friendships in politics and one that is not necessarily embraced by their respective fiefdoms. “There are people in his camp, and I know there are people in mine, who are not really happy about that,” Booker says. “People would rather predict a 2013 political contest between us. But the one thing I have to say about the governor is that he is really interested in solving problems.”

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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:48 AM

Sam Hieb's latest Carolina Journal Online report focuses on Piedmont Triad International Airport's pursuit of a new passenger facility charge for every airline ticket. 

John Hood's Daily Journal explores Gov. Beverly Perdue's use of her veto power.

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