Heart-Sinking Sunday

The Charlotte Observer has a story this morning that made me feel a bit disappointed and I haven't really figured out why. I think it might be I'm disappointed that after a year, the NC House study commission that was supposed to be looking into the way NC administers the death penalty hasn't come up with any results. I guess other than the fact that someone dies as a result of it, they haven't been able to determine whether there are any problems with the way justice is meted out.

The commission, co-chaired by Rep. Joe Hackney, D-Orange, has met for more than a year but has not yet developed recommendations. A hearing in Raleigh Thursday was to have led to committee discussions of potential legislation, but some members were absent, including Earle. With others such as Vinson no longer members, Hackney said the panel would await new members before proceeding -- perhaps before the legislature convenes Jan. 24.

Haditha headlines

Lovely day again here in Carolina—at least it was until I read this headline on the front page of the N&O:

Report details civilians' deaths in Marine raids.

The story, from the Washington Post's Saturday edition, opens with this:

WASHINGTON - U.S. Marines gunned down five unarmed Iraqis who stumbled onto the scene of a 2005 roadside bombing in Haditha, Iraq, according to eyewitness accounts that are part of a lengthy investigative report obtained by The Washington Post.

Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, the squad's leader, shot the men one by one after Marines ordered them out of a white taxi in the moments after the explosion, which killed one Marine and injured two others, witnesses told investigators. Another Marine fired rounds into their bodies as they lay on the ground.

In honor of his day next Monday, let me remind you: MLK, Jr. was a Republican!

You might remember a story from Maryland last year, about Martin Luther King, Jr., a.k.a. one of the greatest leaders of the 20th Century and a known champion of social equality, being claimed by the GOP as a Republican in an advertisment. Yes, it's absurd:

That is why the ad was "a joke," said Christopher Arps, a former spokesman for Rice and the association [that ran the ad that claimed MLK as a Republican]. "Anyone with any sense knows that most black people were Republican at one time. But it's a far stretch to think that in the '60s Martin Luther King was a Republican."

Well, the Mecklenburg County GOP is repeating this absurdity:

It should come as no surprise that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican. In that era, almost all black Americans were Republicans. Why? From its founding in 1854 as the anti-slavery party until today, the Republican Party has championed freedom and civil rights for blacks. And as one pundit so succinctly stated, the Democrat Party is as it always has been, the party of the four S's: Slavery, Secession, Segregation and now Socialism.

What's The Truth in The Charlotte Observer?



According to The Charlotte Observer, the state's budget forecast has gone from optimistic and rosy to absolutely desperate in the space of eleven days.

First let me give you the good news as we once knew it. That version was reported on December 26th in an article by J. Andrew Curliss entitled "N.C. Tax Income Exceeding Plan, Commitments Loom: Easley purposefully used conservative collection figure"...

Nearing the halfway point of the state's budget year, it appears the government will bring in more money from taxes and fees than it had planned....

Receipts in the state's general fund budget were $130 million to $160 million ahead of the forecast over the first five months of the fiscal year, when about $7.1 billion was due to be collected, according to a legislative research budget report.

Curliss goes on to offer one tiny bit of caution when he reports that Rep. Jim Crawford, one of the legislature's chief budget writers, says that while the news that collections are ahead of pace is promising, there are no signs that the income will cover all of the predicted deficit.

Open thread: Solid "8" Edition

In case you missed this exchange today with Congressman Brad Miller here at BlueNC:

Me:

How does it feel after two glorious days of the new Congress? On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is business as usual and 10 is wild optimism about the future, where are you today?

Congressman Miller:

A solid 8.


I figure out for sure next week what subcommittee on Science and Technology I will chair. Also, Barney Frank mentioned to me on the floor he wanted to meet with Mel Watt and me and begin to put together our predatory mortgage lending bill, which will be the most significant consumer legislation in a dozen years.

If ever find yourself wondering why we fight, come back and look at the good Congressman's comment. Isn't it great to hear "a solid 8" coming from a guy on the frontlines in Congress? I'm sure there will be more than enough dark times ahead, but it's really nice to have cause for optimism right now.

Trust me

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On weekends, I often find myself trolling through the sludge of right-wing America, searching (usually in vain) for evidence of intelligent life. Today I thought I might have found it, but no such luck.

Fragmented Futures, the article that caught my attention on the American Conservative website, appeared at first glance to be an interesting analysis of the challenges facing a multicultural society. As North Carolina experiences dramatic growth and new challenges around diversity from all directions, the issue weighs heavily on my mind. I should have started at the end of the article where I eventually discovered that author Steve Sailer makes his living as a film critic.

The article purports to be a critical analysis of work by Robert Putnam, a Harvard professor and Nobel Prize winner who wrote Bowling Alone, a provocative book about the nature of multicultural societies. Sailer opens his commentary with this quote from Putnam.

In the presence of [ethnic] diversity, we hunker down. We act like turtles. The effect of diversity is worse than had been imagined. And it’s not just that we don’t trust people who are not like us. In diverse communities, we don’t trust people who do look like us.

After that, it's all downhill, as Sailer assumes he knows more about what Dr. Putnam meant to say in his book than Dr. Putnam himself.

Morning Ex

Via the Ex Files:

Good morning. Welcome to Winter 2.0.

Meant to plug this NYT story on Hispanic youths in the South earlier.
Meanwhile, here's a few questions:
• What in the hell was the City of Durham thinking when they decided not to tell people about lead in the water?
• What kind of DOT doesn't get around to fixing guard rails on one of the busiest commuter routes in the state?
• Isn't it a little sad that we're the envy of other states trying pass ethics reforms?
• Did the mainstream press just go back to their D.C. cloisters after the election?
• Did the White House take the phone off the hook after the election?

And one follow up question to that from Elvis and Nick:

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Open Thread - Wild Political Theories Edition

Remember this thread where I proposed the idea that Sue Myrick might be planning to run in place of Liddy Dole? I came to that conclusion based on two things. First, Myrick came out quickly to dispel rumors that she was entertaining a run for Governor. Second, she ran hard against a candidate with no name recognition in this past election. The only reason I could think she would raise and spend so much money to run against a candidate with a few thousand dollars and no name recognition was to boost her own even higher in preparation for a run for higher office. To back my theory up, a new diarist, PhoenixDem, mentioned the same idea in a diary just a few days later.

More nonsense on the flip....

"Gotcha" Journalism and Heath Shuler



There is a game in politics with the sole purpose of generating conflict. It's a game so effective at making sparks fly, and setting politicians up for certain failure, that the media loves to play it as well.

After all, no story attracts more attention than one that caresses the picture of a car wreck, with fire everywhere, dozens dead and injured, a drunk stumbling from the scene. Many political writers gauge their success by how close their work mimics the report of that car wreck. Barbara Barrett, Washington corespondent for The News & Observer is one of them.

So exactly what is this game designed to produce a wreck? It's setting up a false dichotomy in which a politician has only two choices, each of which makes absolutely no sense and both of which lead to political disaster. For instance, on any given issue the politician d'jour is faced with this binary choice...

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