On fears, fantasies and critical thinking

In which I discuss monsters, both real and imagined:

As Halloween approaches, many are consumed with the desire to scare each other with elaborate costumes and behavior. Ghosts and witches, who previously ruled this holiday, have been replaced by more horrific entities: The ubiquitous walking dead and chainsaw-wielding psychopaths. It’s all in fun of course, but it’s also extremely ironic. Because many of us live in genuine fear of imaginary monsters for the other 364 days of the year, and it negatively alters our understanding of the world around us.

Campaign season is a time when reality suffers and the truth becomes a vague concept, but it's really the most important time for such things. Here are a few more excerpts from my appeal for thoughtful evaluation:

Say the "magic words" or your right to vote is questioned

New Hanover County BoE administers geography test to student voters:

In New Hanover County, dormitory students who cannot state their street address will not be allowed to cast a regular ballot in the coming election. The New Hanover County Democratic Party is challenging this procedure, saying it disenfranchises student voters.

"In other counties, they send dormitory lists to the polling place, and the poll workers have them, and if the student can identify the dormitory they live in, they assist them with the street address. And there’s really been no good reason stated by this Board of Elections why they’re out of sync with the State Board of Elections and other counties."

There's a reason all right, it just isn't a "good" reason. Assisting average voters is not high on the GOP's list of priorities, and assisting student voters is not on that list at all. It's on another list, that would be titled "suppress these people," if they were dumb enough to actually write it down somewhere.

Coal Ash Wednesday: Putting lipstick on a toxic pig

Duke Energy's "philanthropy" geared towards area beautification, not watershed protection:

The foundation is particularly interested in receiving applications from economic development programs that would enhance “community beautification and maintenance with a measurable impact on increasing tourism, business and population growth within the county.”

In the environmental category, RCCF seeks programs “that have a visible impact on the local community, such as outdoor classrooms or environmental signage along trails, (and) walkways along the river.”

While this $10 million from Duke Energy was a voluntary donation and had no regulatory requirements attached, the "visible impact" qualifier for use of these funds makes it part of their wider public relations efforts. Most of the real work that is done safeguarding and enhancing water quality is not visible to the average passerby, but it's much more important than streetscaping or posting a sign by a trail.

Daily Dose: Reading tea leaves

The New York Times focuses again on North Carolina this morning, wrapped in a measured view of what's likely to happen on the national stage as well. Check it out.

It might be a tad hyperbolic to call them the Final Five, but it is increasingly clear that races in Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas and North Carolina will be the most crucial in determining which party controls the Senate. Here is where they stand: … North Carolina: Thom Tillis, the State House speaker, has not lived up to what Republicans expected, and Kay Hagan, the Democratic incumbent, has proved remarkably durable. If Ms. Hagan can hold off Mr. Tillis, there is unlikely to be a national wave.

Minimum Wage: Fiction and Facts

If there is a single measure to boost a sustainable economic recovery, raising the minimum wage is it.

    FICTION and FACTS about RAISING THE MINIMUM WAGE:
  • 1. Fiction: Increasing the minimum wage will cause a loss of jobs.
  • Fact: Twenty-one [21] states have minimum wages above the federally mandated minimum of $7.25. In ALL of those 21 states there has been net job growth, and many of those states will increase minimum wages to $10.10 by 2016.

Fay-O goes off the rails in rant about DACA voter registrations

Halloween isn't here yet, but teh scary little brown monsters apparently are:

This is the first time the State Board of Elections, which Republicans took over after the last governor's race in 2012, has analyzed data from the Department of Motor Vehicles and the federal Department of Homeland Security to check for cheaters.

"We are working to ensure that no ballot cast by a noncitizen will count in this election or any future election," said Kim Westbrook, the board's executive director.

The Board of Elections can also refer cases to state and federal prosecutors for criminal charges. What's at stake is the integrity of our election system. Regional elections tell us that small numbers of voters can make a difference in close contests and that some people are willing to engage in mischief to win.

Aside from pointing out her name is actually Kim Westbrook Strach, which makes me wonder if she's stopped using her last name when contacted by the media for fear they'll notice who her husband is, I'll let my posted comment answer the rest:

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