Rich man sez, "You too can be rich, just like me!"

Big shrimp on a small plate:

What you won’t hear any of the union organizers who flew into Durham last week talk about is the menu of opportunities the restaurant industry offers to more than 13 million people of varying ages and experience levels across the nation. As a restaurant owner and operator, I know how important the restaurant industry is to North Carolina and the benefits the industry brings to my employees and our community.

I started in the restaurant industry as a cook in one of my parents’ restaurants...

Gonna stop you right there, fella. You have no idea how the vast majority of your employees live, and if you actually had to survive on $3-4 dollars per hour, plus tips from blue-haired fixed-income hush puppy fans, you would probably be living in someone else's mobile home and waiting patiently for the beginning of next month for your food stamps to recharge. You know, I was just saying something good about the N&O the other day...

Daily dose: TGIFF edition

NC Senate candidates largely back more airstrikes (AP) — Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and her Republican challenger Thom Tillis largely support the plan President Barack Obama outlined to expand military airstrikes and help forces fight the Islamic State militant group.

Big Swing In N C. Improves Democrats . (FiveThirtyEight) -- Republican chances of winning back the Senate fell below 60 percent Thursday, dropping about 4 percentage points to 58.2 percent, thanks to several good polls for Democrats in North Carolina and Colorado. Republicans are still favored to pick up six seats they don’t hold currently, and that would still lead to a GOP-controlled Senate. But Republicans are left with little room for error, and the race in Kansas becomes even more crucial. In North Carolina, a Rasmussen Reports poll found Democrat Kay Hagan ahead of Republican Thom Tillis 45 percent to 39 percent. Tillis had led in the previous Rasmussen survey by 5 percentage points. Another North Carolina poll released Thursday, bySurveyUSA, gave Hagan a 3-point lead (46 percent to 43 percent). The two polls together moved Hagan from a 45 percent underdog to a 61 percent percent favorite. With Hagan now leading, theFiveThirtyEight model does not project a single state in which President Obama won in either 2008 or 2012 to switch from Democratic to Republican control.


Coming Soon To An NC Interstate Near You?

Last night, FiveThirtyEight blog reported a marked shift in polling on the NC Senate contest between incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan and NC House Speaker Thom Tillis.

In North Carolina, a Rasmussen Reports poll found Democrat Kay Hagan ahead of Republican Thom Tillis 45 percent to 39 percent. Tillis had led in the previous Rasmussen survey by 5 percentage points. Another North Carolina poll released Thursday, by SurveyUSA, gave Hagan a 3-point lead (46 percent to 43 percent).

Combined, the two polls move Hagan from a "45 percent underdog to a 61 percent percent favorite." But there's not much analysis on why.

Let's speculate, shall we?

Toll Road Thom

In the upside-down world of today's Republican lunacy, forcing commuters to pay more at the toll booth is a free-market proposition that's hard to resist. The theory goes like this:

  • If you use the roads, you pay for the roads.
  • And you have to use the roads because communist transit planning is a no-no.
  • Which means you're screwed unless you have a lot of money or don't work.

That's the thinking behind the Thom Tillis toll-road fetish, with strong backing from Skip Stam and Bill Brawley, all of which has the appearance of a libertarian wet dream. Except for one thing. The "get government off our back crowd" at The Daily Haymaker is none too pleased. They like their roads just the way they are, supported by big government and taxes. I know, it sounds kinda weird. But it's also true. Read all about it.

The future of Hofmann Forest

McCrory playing word games over Medicaid expansion

More election-year sleight-of-hand:

The ABC11 I-Team caught up with McCrory at an event in Raleigh where McCrory both opened the door to expanded Medicaid and doubled down on his decision not to support the coal ash bill sitting on his desk. "I've never closed the door on Medicaid expansion and we definitely need Medicaid reform," the Governor told the I-Team.

"I don't know if broad Medicaid expansion is the right word," McCrory answered. "We've made great progress fixing it, but as you see, we still have a lot of consultants trying to continue to fix, especially, in the financial area."

The term "Medicaid expansion" in the current political debate isn't in need of interpretation or definition. The process is outlined clearly in the ACA; a set range of annual incomes that are not eligible for Federal supplements but do require assistance from some entity to be able to afford healthcare. And that entity is Medicaid. From McCrory's dithering comments, it appears he still doesn't grasp the problem. And if we're going to wait until Aldona gets tired of awarding no-bid contracts before we make the move to expand the Medicaid rolls, we'll be waiting a hell of a long time.

Daily Dose: Voter suppression edition

Watchdog group says election changes harming voters (WRAL-TV) -- With the voter registration deadline for the November elections one month away, voting watchdog group Democracy North Carolina says it's already found hundreds of cases in which last year's changes to state election laws prevented voters from casting ballots.

454 NC voters had ballots rejected in May primary, advocacy group says (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Democracy North Carolina's review of State Board of Election records from the May primary found 454 ballots were rejected because of election law changes enacted by the General Assembly in 2013.

NC pols agree on Islamic State threat, not timing (McClatchy Newspapers) -- Republican Senate candidate Thom Tillis and incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan on Wednesday agreed with President Barack Obama that the Islamic State poses a grave threat to the United States, but Tillis harshly criticized the president and Hagan for not acting sooner. Hagan, a Democrat from Greensboro who is in a close race with Tillis, stressed the threat from the Islamic State, also called ISIS or ISIL, and said that “their murder of two American journalists is an attack on America and our values.” “We must respond, and we will respond, by taking immediate, sustained and decisive action,” Hagan said. She added that she started to press the administration to arm moderate Syrian rebels last spring, “and I am glad that effort will be accelerated. “The president and our military leadership have now developed a plan to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels and defeat ISIS with a sustained campaign of airstrikes,” Hagan said, adding the effort must be carried out with allies and other Arab states and not by the United States alone. Tillis said the Islamic State was “growing stronger each day because of President Obama’s failed foreign policy and lack of leadership.”


The cost of fear

It goes without saying that the attacks on 9-11 were horrific. In my view, however, they were neither more nor less horrific than countless tragedies our species have inflicted on itself over the span of our existence.

If there is unique horror associated with 9-11, it is the ongoing War on Terror we chose to pursue after the attacks. In support of that War, each of us has sacrificed untold freedoms and personal liberties, without gaining a shred more in national safety and security. We have justified endless conflicts throughout the world, destroyed entire countries for nothing, and tortured thousands of our fellow human beings. To pay for it all, we have bankrupted our nation, both fiscally and morally. The drums of war continue even today.

I had intended for this to be a long and detailed commentary. Turns out, it's not all that complicated.


Duke Energy business as usual: $524 penalty deposit

When you have $25 billion in revenues, every little bit counts.

“Over the years, it’s clear that Duke has crafted a lucrative profit center by penalizing its customers, often those who can least afford it."

It's worth noting that Ms. Joy White, the person featured in this article, is "a self-described conservative, who does not bang a drum against Corporate America. Capitalism is just fine with her. And she wants to pay her bill. But a $524 penalty deposit is out of line, she said Tuesday."

Ms. White may want to reconsider her political leanings. Either that or STFU about the penalty being "out of line." In Corporate America, Duke Energy gets to say who pays how much for what, and Ms. White's opinion are as irrelevant as she is.

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