The Locker Room

January 26, 2011

New Carolina Journal Online exclusive

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 6:31 PM

Sara Burrows' latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive focuses on three property-rights bills filed in the N.C. House on the first day of the legislative session.

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Dems cry foul on Senate rule change

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 3:10 PM

The state Democratic Party issued the following news release just before 2 p.m.:

North Carolina Senate Republicans Renege on Promises for Open and Transparent Government

New rules strip Lieutenant Governor of his constitutionally-given responsibilities

RALEIGH, NC -- North Carolina Senate Republicans have already gone back on their promises for open and transparent government.

Under the leadership of Senate President Phil Berger, Republicans unanimously voted on Wednesday to manipulate the rules of the State Senate and create a position stripping the power of the Lieutenant Governor of his constitutionally-given responsibility to preside over the body.

This new position is designed to undermine the Lieutenant Governor’s rulings, exert full Republican control over the chamber, and preside over the Senate when the Lieutenant Governor was absent.

“On their very first day the new Republican majority in the state senate has ignored our state's Constitution, usurped the authority of the Lieutenant Governor, and disregarded the will of the people of North Carolina who elected him to that office," said North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman David Young. "It's despicable, but I'm glad they're showing their true colors so early in the session."

“Despite their empty campaign promises of open and transparent government, they are attempting to create a back-door way to circumvent the duties of a publicly-elected office,” Young continued. “If this is how they conduct business prior to the opening day of session, what can we expect from them in the next two years?”

The idea that the lieutenant governor had any remaining power might come as a surprise to those who remember Democrats' efforts to strip the office of virtually all responsibility when Republican Jim Gardner held the post from 1989 to 1993.

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The TSA overreacts once again

Posted by George Leef at 1:38 PM

Nat Hentoff, a great defender of civil liberties, writes here about another absurd case where the TSA overreacted.

Actually, "overreaction" isn't quite the right word. It implies that some reaction may have been in order, but what they did went too far. In this case, as with just about everything else involving the TSA, no reaction whatsoever was in order, but they arrested the individual for the horrible provocation of displaying the Fourth Amendment on his chest!

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New Carolina Journal Online exclusive

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 12:15 AM

Anthony Greco's latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive reveals that former N.C. Sen. A.B. Swindell, D-Nash,  has set up a legal defense fund to fight the defamation suit filed by the man who beat him in the November election.

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Socialism brings out the worst in people

Posted by George Leef at 12:12 AM

In response to Politco's question -- whether Obama or the GOP is really serious about cutting government spending -- Cato's Roger Pilon offers this excellent response:

With uncontrolled deficits well into the future and a debt exceeding $14 trillion, for Obama to propose saving only $40 billion per year in discretionary spending over the next five years, while “investing” in pie-in-the-sky things like high-speed rail, wind farms, environmentally destructive ethanol, and the like, is worse than unserious — it’s an insult to our intelligence. Like Obama, many Republicans too treat military spending, among other things, as sacrosanct, but at least they’re proposing more serious budget cuts.

The deeper problem, of course, is systemic. Socialism, a large dose of which we have in America today, brings out the very worst in people. In the name of collective responsibility, it saps and then destroys individual responsibility, leading to a war of all against all. No one wants “his” entitlement cut for fear that his neighbor might profit at his expense — because, after all, “we’re all in this together.” Suspicion and envy are the order of the day. Meanwhile, dreamers like Obama (at least that’s his pose), who promote our collective drift, either can’t or won’t grasp the hard reality until it crashes down upon them, and us, as it is doing now in several of our states and in Europe. For the “hard-hearted” realists among us, November 2012 can’t come soon enough.

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Reading the State of the Union

Posted by Melissa Mitchell at 11:44 AM

Frankly, I do not watch the State of the Union address. Most of them are too long and boring. However, I do download the text, read what was said, and take it apart. I count how many times each president says the word "I," especially, the narcissistic ones like Obama. I also look for the "Royal We." All presidents and their writers seem to think that inserting "we" indicates that the President believes that the all Americans agree with what he is stating. Obama had so many "Royal We's" that I stopped counting.

By critiquing the speech in this manner, you can stop and ponder what is being said. If you are watching it live, you may be distracted and do not realize what he said has the far reaching the implications for our country.

Throughout the speech, I found President Obama's contention that the recent election indicated that Americans want Democrats and Republicans to work together a distortion of the facts. Americans voted to end the Democrats rule. The voters I know want Republicans to take the mandate that they have been given and change the liberal practices of this administration and past Congress.

Then there are President Obama's ideas on job creation. By watching the speech you may not have noticed all of his references to government spending for job creation, technical innovation, and education. He also sees the extension of the Bush tax cuts as "his" tax cut.

Another advantage to reading the speech is that you do not have to listen to all of the silly applause. Even if you record it, you have to stop and replay information. When it makes you angry, you can walk away and return when the anger has subsided.

I hope more people will take this approach because you will learn far more than by watching the performance.

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Stossel's State Of The Union

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 11:18 AM

If President Obama's State Of The Union address left you unimpressed, perhaps you'll prefer John Stossel's version:

We're in deep trouble.

You know why. Our debt has passed $14 trillion, and yet our current spending plans will make that worse. The U.S. debt will reach Greek levels in just 10 years.

But do not despair. If we make reasonable cuts to what government spends, our economy can grow us out of our debt. Cutting doesn't just make economic sense, it is also the moral thing to do. Henry David Thoreau had it right when he "accepted(ed) the motto ... that government is best which governs least."

So what should we get rid of?

We start by closing the Department of Education, which saves $100 billion a year. Education ought to be in the free market. It's insane to take money from states only to launder it through Washington and then return it to states.

Next, we should close the Department of Housing and Urban Development: $41 billion. We had plenty of housing in America before a department was created. Let's get government out of that business.

Then we eliminate the Commerce Department: $9 billion. A government that can't count the votes accurately should not try to negotiate trade. Trade should be free. Free trade creates prosperity. And since trade should be free, we should eliminate all corporate welfare and all subsidies. That means: agriculture subsidies, green energy subsidies, ethanol subsidies and subsidies for public broadcasting. None of these is needed.

I propose selling Amtrak. Taxpayers will save money, and riders will get better service. Why is government in the transportation business? Let's have private companies compete to run the trains.

Follow the link above (for "version") to find even more ideas.

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Has Gov. Perdue learned how to spell?

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 11:14 AM

Since November, Gov. Bev Perdue has emphatically opposed tax increases, including an extension of the sales tax hike scheduled to expire June 30. The News and Observer now reports she might include the $1.3 billion tax increase after all. There are also rumors she wants to raise tobacco taxes, too. But if higher taxes were the road to prosperity, North Carolina would have been among the fastest growing economies in the past decade. We weren't.

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Into the Promised Land

Posted by Duke Cheston at 10:52 AM

Today the Raleigh News & Observer compared the North Carolina GOP to the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years:

Republicans who today assume control of both houses of the N.C. General Assembly may in some ways identify with Moses and the Hebrew people who wandered the deserts in search of the Promised Land for 40 years. Except for a brief flirtation with power when they controlled the state House in the mid-1990s, Republicans have been kept out of true power on Jones Street long enough to have built up quite a thirst.

I suppose this makes Phil Berger, what, Moses?

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Will Facebook and Apple revive free banking?

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 10:17 AM

Or are their latest payment innovations more like credit and debit cards?

There's nothing in either system that necessarily ties them to dollars. A few years ago there was a program called Second Life that had its own currency trading against the dollar (it still exists and so do Linden dollars, but in the same parallel universe as Tamagotchi).

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Paul Peterson on SOTU

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 08:50 AM

I have read a number of responses to President Obama's State of the Union address, and I preferred Harvard professor Paul Peterson's succinct (and relatively jargon free) commentary. Enjoy.

Due to political exigencies, the true meaning of State of the Union speeches can be detected only by careful textual analysis. The following is an interpretative translation of what the President really had to say about American education.

Obama: “The quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations.”

Translation: The achievement gap between the United States and other countries, especially in math and science, is every bit as serious a problem as has recently been shown. By focusing federal programs on the disadvantaged, we have failed to challenge our best students. We need to realize that the international achievement gap will only grow if we don’t fix all of our schools.

Obama: “Race to the Top is the most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation. For less than one percent of what we spend on education each year, it has led over 40 states to raise their standards.”

Translation: We have no need to waste more federal dollars on stimulus packages or state hand-outs. All grants must be conditioned upon improved performance at the local level.

Obama: “We want to reward good teachers and stop making excuses for bad ones.”

Translation: We need to pay teachers for performance and fire the ones that repeatedly fail to do their job.

As long as my translation is accurate, we need to stand up and cheer. Of course, only time can tell whether I got it right—or whether realpolitik will give the president’s words quite a different meaning.

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Barone throws out the rulebook for the GOP's 2012 presidential campaign

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:20 AM

Michael Barone's latest Washington Examiner article explains that old rules might not apply as Republicans decide who will challenge President Barack Obama next year:

The first is the notion that Republican nomination always goes to the candidate next in line in seniority.

Yes, Republican primary voters and caucus goers are probably more inclined than Democrats to defer to seniority. But when you look back at the Republican nominating contests in the post-1968 era, and there are not many of them, you find that most of the nominations were close-run things.

Ronald Reagan came within a few convention votes of upsetting incumbent President Ford in 1976 and would probably have won if he had gotten 2,000 more votes in New Hampshire. Reagan's victory in 1980 was contingent on a number of close calls, as readers of Craig Shirley's "Rendezvous with Destiny" know. ...

The next rule that needs to be debunked is that Republican candidates must pass a litmus test on cultural issues, especially abortion. This was true in 1988, 1996 and 2000, when religious conservatives were a newly energized political force and one stirred to action by Bill Clinton's misconduct.

But Sept. 11 changed a lot of things, including this old rule. A pro-choice stand on abortion didn't prevent Rudy Giuliani from leading Republican polls until November 2007, when his appointee as police commissioner, Bernard Kerik, was indicted. And going to all 99 counties swearing he was a right-to-lifer didn't save Mitt Romney in the majority-religious conservative Iowa caucuses in January 2008. ...

The third rule that may not be applicable this time is that you have to start early to win. Tell that to Bill Clinton, who announced his candidacy in October 1991, just four months before the Iowa caucuses. Many potential and putative Republican candidates this time seem to be biding their time. You may be able to ramp up a campaign pretty quickly in the Facebook era.

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Does Obama know the difference between wealth and income?

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 07:20 AM

Last night in the SoU address the president said that we can not make tax breaks permanent for the wealthiest two percent of Americans. Does he mean the top two percent of income earners? I know of no particular tax breaks that are going to people based on their wealth, only their income. Then he went on to talk about sacrificing "investment" in a series of government programs so that "millionaires" can keep their tax breaks. Again "millionaire" is a wealth concept not and income concept. There are probably plenty of millionaires earning less than $250,000 a year who would be able to keep their tax breaks and there are probably plenty of people earning over $250,000 a year who are not millionaires who should have their taxes raised, according to Obama. But regardless, it is somewhat disturbing to think that we have a president who is allegedly going to focus his time on economic issues and does not know the difference between wealth and income. I wonder if he knows the difference between the deficit and the debt.

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Ezra Klein defends the CBO against a phantom attack

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:11 AM

Columnist and American history scholar Ezra Klein uses his latest Newsweek article to defend the Congressional Budget Office against unfair Republican attacks linked to the CBO assessment of ObamaCare's budgetary impact:
The bargain that both parties have previously struck with the CBO is that they’ll accept short-term setbacks from the agency because, in the long run, it’s better for the system to have someone keeping score. Right now, Republicans are breaking that bargain. They’re not merely saying the CBO’s guess is bad, or that the agency is right but the bill is bad for other reasons—they’re saying its whole system is, in the words of Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), “garbage in, garbage out.” Civil? Debatable. Wise? Definitely not.

Klein either ignores or fails to see that Republican criticism of the CBO has focused less on the quality of that group’s work than on the assumptions built into its calculations. Turning to Price’s analogy, “garbage in” linked to unrealistic or misleading assumptions creates flawed results — “garbage out” — even if the CBO’s work is impeccable.

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Comparing the 40th and 44th president

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:09 AM

In advance of Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Newsweek mused about the possible lessons Democrat Barack Obama could learn from Republican Ronald Reagan.

While Rick Perlstein’s featured article offers little of value, a sidebar includes some interesting comments. One of them, from Reagan historian Steven Hayward, should prove interesting to those who’ve read in recent months about the difficult job confronting the president today:

Across the political spectrum, conventional wisdom was that the presidency was in deep trouble. There were four failed presidencies in a row. The job was no longer adequate to modern times. All that talk completely died after eight years of Reagan.

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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:02 AM

David Bass' latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive previews today's opening of the General Assembly's new session. 

John Hood's Daily Journal explains that most government spending has nothing to do with investment.

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