The Locker Room

August 7, 2008

Gas price video and #dontgo

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 10:52 PM

You may have seen the video of Sen. Ken Salazar rejecting even a $10 per gallon trigger to allow drilling. You may know that Republican Representatives are still on the House floor broadcasting their news via twitter and the web. You may not know that is trying to say this is just another ploy for Big Oil. I guess they didn't get the memo that Big Oil is all in for wind and anything else "beyond petroleum."

HT: Abby

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Fuel savings

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 8:51 PM

The federal government says proper tire inflation can improve fuel efficiency by 3%, or up to $0.12 per gallon (third item, "Keep Tires Properly Inflated").

Since July 14, when President Bush lifted the executive ban on offshore drilling, oil prices have fallen from $145 per barrel to $120 - a decline of 17% - and gas prices have fallen from $4.05 to $3.83 per gallon nationwide, a 5.5% decline. (Gas was down to $3.56 where I filled up today.)

There were other factors in the lower oil and gas prices, but the fall in prices should deflate some of the naysaying from Diane Feinstein and others who claim drilling will not effect prices for ten years.

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Lawmakers' giveaway to the sun, the moon and the stars

Posted by Becki Gray at 4:29 PM

Every time the General Assembly passes a tax cut for one group, it just increases the burden on the rest of us.  First it was Dell, then Google, then endless companies and special interests.  And you thought it just SEEMED like lawmakers were giving away the sun, the moon and the stars...

We passed Senate Bill 1878 making property tax modifications, including a significant property tax reduction for solar systems.
                                                          Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford) in her weekly newsletter


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Public school propaganda machines in full swing

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 1:49 PM

Do today's testing results show that our public schools are raising student achievement? School districts seem to think so. Take this Charlotte-Mecklenburg press release, for example,

State results released Aug. 7 show that 77.8 percent of CMS schools had either expected or high growth in the 2007-2008 school year. That compares to 67.5 percent of schools for the 2006-2007 year. "This shows that we are moving in the right direction,” said Superintendent Peter C. Gorman.
Of course, the problem is that this year's growth calculation does not include results from SIX tests: End-of Grade (EOG) Reading (grades 3-8), Algebra II, Biology, Chemistry, Physical Science, and Physics. That is a BIG deal. It calls into question the validity of the results.

Moreover, one cannot compare last year's results with this year's results, so school systems cannot legitimately claim that they have improved from the 06-07 school year to the 07-08 school year. Apples and oranges, people - apples and oranges.

If you really want to know how a school system is doing, then take a look at their four-year graduation rate. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg press release referenced above does not mention their graduation rate for good reason. It dropped by over seven percent.

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It's a gas, gas, gas

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 1:20 PM

Duke Energy plans to generate electricity from the methane produced in a Durham landfill.

While the concept is interesting, this brief Associated Press blurb does not address the $64,000 question: At what cost?

Is Duke pursuing this option because it's cost-efficient? If not, is this simply one way to meet the state's artificial renewable energy mandate in Senate Bill 3?

If the answer to the second question is "yes," how much more costly is this form of electricity than the electricity generated by more traditional sources? What's the potential impact of methane-produced electricity on your power bill?

I don't know the facts of this case, so I will not prejudge it as inefficient. But I will keep in mind Thomas Sowell's warning in Ever Wonder Why? And Other Controversial Essays:

Much of the self-righteous nonsense that abounds on so many subjects cannot stand up to three questions: (1) Compared to what? (2) At what cost? and (3) What are the hard facts?

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'OOOOOOOOOOOO-klahoma, where the pre-K has no great effect!'

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 12:58 AM

Supporters of More At Four might be interested in this news from the Sooner State. 

As for the merits of North Carolina's pre-K programs, John Hood and Terry Stoops have offered recent assessments. 

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New technology strikes again

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 12:02 AM

Mary Katharine Ham describes in today's D.C. Examiner the role Twitter played in the congressional fight over offshore drilling.

Speaking of the impact of new technology, MK's dad Jon Ham recently discussed with Carolina Journal Radio the changing world of the newspaper business. 

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Jindal, the GOP's Obama?

Posted by David N. Bass at 11:18 AM

Could Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal land the keynote address at the Republican National Convention? The Politico is floating the idea, and the New Orleans Times-Picayune quotes a couple sources who say a prominent speaking position for the 37-year-old governor might be in the works.

The speculation comes shortly after Jindal seemingly took himself off John McCain's short list of vice presidential picks.

If Jindal does deliver the keynote, one can't help but draw comparisons with 2004, when Barack Obama delivered a "rock star" performance at the Democrat's national convention that ultimately launched his run for the presidency. Is the GOP grooming Jindal for a similar role?

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Graduation rates for specific districts

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 10:34 AM

Four-year graduation rate for the 2007 - 2008 school year (2006 - 2007 graduation rate):

State Average 69.9 percent (69.5 percent)
Asheville 68.7 percent (77.5 percent)
Buncombe 72.1 percent (73.4 percent)
CMS 66.6 percent (73.8 percent)
Durham 62.9 percent (66.3 percent)
Guilford 79.5 percent (79.7 percent)
Lee 71.4 percent (63.4 percent)
New Hanover 63.6 percent (64 percent)
Wake 78.8 percent (79.3 percent)

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Graduation rates still bad

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 10:19 AM

The four-year (cohort) graduation rate was 69.9 percent for the 2007 - 2008 school year. Last year, only 71.8 percent of students graduated from high school in five years.

Both graduation rates increased from the year before (0.4 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively), but they remain pitifully low.

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Test scores are in...kinda

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 10:10 AM

For the 2007 - 2008 school year, 82 percent of our public schools met or exceeded growth standards.

...but wait.

In April, the State Board of Education removed End-of Grade (EOG) Reading (grades 3-8), Algebra II, Biology, Chemistry, Physical Science, and Physics tests from the growth calculation.

In November, the State Board of Education will release performance composites (school-wide percentage of proficient students across all subjects), which will include the above tests. If there is a large difference between the growth and performance composite results, then we can assume that the absence of six tests from the growth calculation helped a number of schools meet or exceed growth standards on state tests.

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AFPNC adds new fuel to the energy debate

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:04 AM

Americans for Prosperity North Carolina has a new radio ad promoting Sen. Elizabeth Dole's Gas Price Reduction Act

That act includes a focus on offshore drilling, an issue that has also attracted support this year from Republican state legislators and gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory.

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Bill Clinton gets testy with a reporter…again

Posted by David N. Bass at 09:52 AM

A reporter’s job is to ask tough questions. Bill Clinton, apparently, has trouble dealing with that reality.

In an interview reminiscent of his verbal melee with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, Clinton had a minor fit while taking questions Aug. 3 from Kate Snow of ABC News. It’s worth watching just to see Clinton’s reaction to Snow’s line of questioning.

Of course, Clinton may have cause to be ticked off. Obama is getting a free pass when it comes to tough questions, and those reporters who do take a stronger line with Obama get criticized.

For example, Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos asked Obama some discomfort causing, but perfectly legitimate, questions during a debate last April. Guess what happened? Liberal columnists and bloggers decried the debate as lacking integrity.

It’s called journalism, folks. If your candidate can’t take some tough questions, is he ready to lead the free world?

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Do they like McCain more or Obama less?

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 08:40 AM

That's the question posed in this Weekly Standard blog entry on new poll data suggesting a narrowing of the gap between the two presidential candidates in polling on domestic issues.

For some voters, this doesn't matter. Election Day is still almost three months away, and they don't yet care. For others, developments at this stage in the political race could make a difference.

It's an issue John Hood will address in an upcoming edition of Carolina Journal Radio.

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When it comes to energy policy the choice is clear--socialism or socialism

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 07:50 AM

With all the controversy and discord between the two major political parties about energy policy there seems to be no disagreement at the level of principle. This entire debate boils down to a skirmish between those who advocate energy socialism without drilling and those who advocate energy socialism with drilling. Neither major presidential candidate is advocating a free market in energy. The rallying cry for the Democrats is conservation, i.e. forcing or incentivising people to go with less, and “investment,” i.e. government subsidies, in renewable energy sources like wind and solar power. The rallying cry for Republicans is “do everything” which means do what the Democrats want plus drilling and nuclear. Clearly the Republicans have abdicated all conservative principle on this issue. Both parties are laying out Soviet style multi-year plans for “energy independence” with mercantilist talk about “keeping dollars in America.” Both parties are talking about massive subsidies for the trendy technology of the moment, like electric cars, hybrid cars, and of course the long-standing money pits of wind and solar power. Both parties see energy production and consumption being centrally planned from Washington.

The one approach that is not being advocated by either party is energy freedom. The energy problems that we are currently facing have all been caused by previous government policies and the solution is to abandon those policies and replace them with nothing. Get rid of all subsidies and punitive taxes on all possible energy sources and get rid of all so called “energy efficiency programs” which really amount to social engineering and life style control. This would include laws regarding average fuel economy for automobiles (CAFÉ standards) and the kinds of light bulbs people can use. In North Carolina it would include repealing Senate Bill 3, which attempts to control the amount of electricity people can consume. The only energy policy our government should have is to let freedom of choice and enterprise decide what is efficient, how much we import and who we import it from, how much profit companies should earn, and, just as importantly, how large the losses are they should sustain. In other words, we need to abandon the socialist energy policies, brought to us by both political parties, that have gotten us into this mess. Unfortunately it appears that neither major party is offering us a non-socialist alternative.  

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Today's Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:51 AM

Today's Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Don Carrington's report about the federal sentencing of a former state environmental official involved in an extortion scheme linked to ethanol plant permits.

John Hood's Daily Journal examines this week's appellate court ruling in a lawsuit involving state pension fund contributions. 

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