James @
Monday, April 14, 2014 - 5:09pm

Ya gotta love the cognitive dissonance on parade in Raleigh these days, especially in the Department of Commerce, where McDecker just announced more interference by government in the affairs of business. Apparently, companies like Monster and Indeed are incapable of helping workers and employers connect with one another, so the State is getting into the act as well.

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James @
Monday, April 14, 2014 - 8:39am

I know sea level rise has been declared illegal in North Carolina, but that doesn't change the fact that it is happening ... and accelerating. For a practical look at the consequences for infrastructure (especially sewage systems), take a look at this excellent story at North Carolina Health News. It's a sobering reminder that the people in charge of our government are, for the most part, clueless fools with their heads stuck in the sand.

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James @
Sunday, April 13, 2014 - 7:50pm

One of North Carolina's great treasures is its system of state parks. Jane and I have been visiting many of them, and this weekend we had the pleasure of spending two days camping at Medoc Mountain State Park in Halifax County. It's a sweet place with five great loop hikes, and spring was definitely in the air. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about the park:

Medoc Mountain is not really a mountain at all; its highest point reaches an elevation of only 325 feet (99 m) above sea level. It is, rather, the core of what was once a mighty range of mountains — Medoc Mountain is what remains after millions of years of erosion. The eroded peaks were formed by volcanic action during the Paleozoic Age, about 350 million years ago.

The park sits near the fall line, an area where the hard, resistant rocks of the foothills give way to the softer rocks and sediments of the coastal plain. The northern and western faces of Medoc Mountain have very steep slopes, dropping 160 feet over a distance of less than a quarter mile. Such rugged terrain is unusual for the eastern piedmont.

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James @
Friday, April 11, 2014 - 10:09am

There's news this week that the slum-retailing business is beginning to crumble under the weight of its own greed. It's a sad story all around, and it's also the natural conclusion of a business model that depends on exploiting poor people.

Though Art Pope would disagree, he and his fellow slumlords have been working to decimate the middle class and to ensure that poor people stay that way. As it turns out, they've been cannibalizing their own customer base to the point that their customers can no longer afford even the cheap crap they sell.

"... the retailer’s core customers – which it defines as female heads of household making less than $40,000 a year – are still pressured by a weak economy that has left many low-income workers struggling. Cuts to federal food stamp benefits have also hurt Family Dollar, Levine said.

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James @
Friday, April 11, 2014 - 9:27am

Mother Jones is on a roll, this week taking Little Tommy Tillis to task for being ... well ... the arrogant, patronizing jerk that he actually is. Go see the story, and then listen to this amazing video.

This is the real Thom Tillis and, oh my goodness, he is one ugly son of a bitch.

Thom Tillis
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James @
Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 9:39am

Bad for the environment, bad for energy independence, and bad politics. I suppose the Hagan campaign thinks this move will improve her standing among moderates, and maybe it will. But it's a risky game she's playing. Because in addition to moderates, Hagan needs liberals to turn out big time in November. Yet she seems to be doing everything she can to dampen our enthusiasm.

Kay Hagan
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James @
Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 12:05pm

You end up with a significant shortfall in tax revenues. Surprise, surprise.

The report shows a recession-like drop in personal income tax withholdings since the start of the calendar year, and personal income tax collections now lag forecasts by $221.3 million.

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James @
Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 8:59am

It just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser.

"Just a week after the state publicly abandoned its sweetheart deal with Duke and promised to "enforce" the law, it has appealed a judicial ruling that confirmed the state's legal authority to enforce a real solution for coal ash contamination," Gerkin [of the Southern Environmental Law Center] said in a statement. "We’re disappointed that this administration remains so determined to delay through litigation rather than move forward to stop ongoing pollution of North Carolina's rivers, lakes and groundwater."

Here's the translation:

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James @
Friday, April 4, 2014 - 11:51am

Given past transgressions by some Democrats, the appeal of Republican reformers was understandable. "Send us to Raleigh and we'll work for democracy and freedom, and we'll be accountable every step of the way." It was a seductive promise, except it turned out to be bullshit.

We've seen more backroom dealing, more legislative shenanigans, more attempts to block public oversight, more schemes to divert tax dollars to private profit, and more unvarnished subversion of voting rights than at any time in recent history.

Putting an end to this Republican reign of terror is Job One, and it's going to be tough. We'll claw back seats this year, hopefully enough to put a dent in the GOP's super-majority. We'll win back the governor's mansion in 2016, bringing to a close the hapless career of Duke McCrory. And we'll implement non-partisan redistricting in 2020, which will forever level the playing field for state elections.

But in the meantime, there are a couple of races that matter enormously in 2014, and one of them is the race for North Carolina Supreme Court. I'm supporting and voting for Robin Hudson, and I hope you will too. With Art Pope continuing his multi-million dollar shopping spree, we simply must come together to blunt the effect of his spending.

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James @
Friday, April 4, 2014 - 8:20am

A real progressive gets the nod to fill Senator Nesbitt's seat. And even better, it's a woman. Way to go, Asheville!

Van Duyn is a well-known fundraiser, volunteer and activist who was among those arrested in Raleigh during a June Moral Mondays protest last year. She also participated in the recent Moral March on Raleigh. Her victory is also a victory for the progressive end of the party though she does have support among mainline Democrats.

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