"It's Happening Now"

Karen Kwiatkowski (a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force) says that American troops coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan are changing the way we view those conflicts and the way we view the administration that sent them in the first place.

We still won’t see this level of honesty in all the major national papers, but we no longer have to rely solely on the independent or international news for the truth. Talk to the reservists and guardsmen and active soldiers and marines who have returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan, on leave and between tours. Hear their words across your kitchen table and your local bar, listen to their pillow talk and their advice to their children, nieces and nephews.

Politics and Disaster Relief: North Carolina is Losing Out

There is a fascinating article in the Christian Science Montitor today. The article looks at research that examines the relationship between natural disasters over the last 45 years and federal relief of the disasters. One important finding of the article is that different states received different levels of aid. In particular North Carolina did a poor job in receiving aid.

When she looked beyond the trends in losses, "what struck me was how ineffective certain states have been in getting presidential disaster declarations" over the past 40 years. For example, she continues, North Carolina and South Carolina have seen significant losses, yet have garnered relatively few disaster declarations, while North Dakota also has endured similarly high losses and has been "very good" at getting the declarations.

The article goes on to note that one difference in the amount of aid has been whether a state is seen as crucial for reelection.

Taylor's Immigration Proposal Falls Flat

The Asheville Citizen-Times is kind enough to point out the difference between working on solutions to a problem and simply throwing money at it. Unsurprisingly, the 11th Congressional District's Charles Taylor is in the borrow-and-spend camp.

The best starting point toward a sane immigration policy is the bill introduced last spring by U.S. Sens. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and John McCain, R-Ariz., an odd couple if there ever was one. The bill has something for everyone, ranging from a border study to more money for English language instruction.

FEMA "Glitches" May Leave Some in NC Homeless

Based on Raleigh's News & Observer's report, "glitch" is perhaps a word too mild:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --

Hundreds of Hurricane Katrina refugees face possible eviction because their federal relief checks haven't arrived - four weeks after the money was promised.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency was to send checks of $2,358 to cover three months' housing. But evacuees said FEMA has mailed checks to former addresses in New Orleans or to the wrong address in Charlotte, which never reached their intended recipients.

Winning in '06

Garance Franke-Ruta at the American Prospect Online offers some analysis about the Democrats' prospects next November.

Just how many of the 435 House seats will be competitive in 2006 is a matter of debate. Charlie Cook, editor of The Cook Political Report, puts the number at only 28, including 11 Democratic seats and 17 Republicans ones. Stuart Rothenberg, political analyst for Roll Call, pushes the number to 37, which is also the figure accepted by National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Tom Reynolds. To win back control of the House, Democrats would have to keep all 11 of their contested seats and win 15 of the Republican ones, for a virtually impossible 96-percent win rate under the Cook scenario (Republicans retook the House in 1994 with a 75-percent win rate). Yet the political environment has also changed so radically over the summer and fall that Cook says he now thinks that there are “literally dozens of Republican-held seats, that, based on presidential voting patterns, credible Democratic candidates in a pro-Democratic year might win.”

American Prospect Online - ViewPrint

North Carolina's Un-American Representatives

A fundamental tenet of American tort law is that when someone injures you—whether through negligence or on purpose—they should pay to put you right. It is up to the injured person to decide who to sue, and it's up to the judge and jury to decide whether the defendant pays. If you get hit by a truck, you may be angry enough to sue everybody: the driver, the driver's employer, the truck manufacturer, the truck's mechanic, and the guy who first came up with the idea of trucks. Americans have believed for more than 200 years (and the British since long before that) that the best way to get to the bottom of who's really at fault is a jury. Not the richest among us; not the most powerful; but twelve honest people working to find the truth.

Robin Hayes Sings A Little Song, Dances A Little Dance

Republican Congressman Robin Hayes (NC-8) has introduced a bit of legislation that sounds pretty good as far as it goes: he wants to cut House members' pay by 5%. Leaving aside the odds against this bill going anywhere, what you won't hear Hayes mention is that the money this bill would save in a year wouldn't pay for a single day in Iraq. Maybe Hayes should be using his vote to figure out a way out of that mess.

So don't let anyone tell you that Hayes suffers from a twinge of fiscal responsibility. As one paper puts it,

Charles Taylor's Banking Problems

It seems that Robin Hayes isn't the only NC Representative with ethical . . . difficulties.

Charles Taylor [11th NC District] owns a bank—the Blue Ridge Savings Bank—in which the top official, bank president Hayes Martin, who was also Taylor’s campaign treasurer, pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering for making illegal loans. The beneficiary of the illegal $1.3 million loan was Charles Cagle, 11th District Republican Chair and a Taylor friend and campaign contributor. Cagle also pleaded guilty. Their sworn court testimony showed that Taylor micromanages all operations at the bank and was in full knowledge of the illegal loans. Yet Taylor successfully thwarted any investigation of himself. Jackson County was even forced to garnish Taylor’s congressional wages in order to collect back taxes. And this was for one of the wealthiest Members of Congress!

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