James @
Sunday, September 14, 2014 - 8:00pm

Gerry Cohen is in our salon tonight to talk about local politics. If you have questions, drop them below.

Gerry, Jane and I go way back. Jane and Gerry met in 1977 when he was running for mayor of Chapel Hill. I eventually joined the town council and knew about Gerry's legendary service. We met eight years ago at a blogger conference. This is the first time we've had the chance to reconnect.

James @
Sunday, September 14, 2014 - 9:08am

James @
Saturday, September 13, 2014 - 2:43pm

Yesterday I saw a MasterCard ad in the New York Times about a new app for the iPhone. The headline was: "Totally priceless."

This is a great example of adverb abuse. But even more damning, it undermines years of other "priceless" advertising. All those other things MasterCard said were "priceless" before? Well, they're not so priceless now. Not compared to this new thing, whatever it is, which also happens to be "totally priceless."

The word priceless is like the words unique and pregnant. It's either true or it's not.

Unfortunately, we have slipped into a world where words can mean whatever anybody wants them to mean, with impunity. The same is true with numbers, where 7% equals 5% equals the biggest teacher pay scam in history. Say something often enough and it becomes real.

James @
Friday, September 12, 2014 - 4:10pm

When you're dishing this kind of bullshit, it pays to avoid using "brilliant" twice in the same sentence. Especially when the person being described has been an unmitigated disaster.

See more at: http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2014/09/12/the-follies-211/#sthash.vDbDJoRl...

James @
Thursday, September 11, 2014 - 6:36pm

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.

James @
Thursday, September 11, 2014 - 8:17am

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.

James @
Thursday, September 11, 2014 - 7:35am

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.

James @
Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - 5:44pm

He that is the author of a war lets loose the whole contagion of hell and opens a vein that bleeds a nation to death.

Thomas Paine

ISIS Obama war
James @
Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - 2:14pm

I received this letter today from SELC, an organization I have long supported. The letter is a good summary of North Carolina Republicans' ostrich mentality when it comes to construction on our sinking shores. There's much at risk, and the GOP is doing absolutely nothing but wishful thinking.

Dear SELC Friend,

For many years SELC has been working on all fronts to forestall and combat the effects of global warming and climate change. Our clean air and energy team spends every day striving to limit the greenhouse gases so dramatically changing our planet. And our coastal team covers hundreds of shoreline miles to make sure we deal with the impacts of rising seas swiftly and intelligently.

Nowhere in our region is the problem felt more acutely than on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, and I wanted to share some recent developments there as well as some background information to put it all in perspective.

James @
Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - 8:02am


North Carolina’s budget year is a mere two months old and already there are annoyances that could be signs of huge problems in a few months. Total general fund revenues are $200.4 million short where they were at this point last year, according to the Monthly Financial Report for August 2014, issued by State Controller’s Office on Tuesday.

If the current trend continues, it is likely legislators will be dealing with a budget hole of $725 million to as much as $1.2 billion. This past legislative session, the General Assembly had to confront a $500 million shortfall as they struggled to meet a variety of election-year spending demands, including pay raises for teachers and other state workers. Most state agencies started the year already in an austerity mode and it won’t be surprising, if by the end of September or October, memos will be dispatched from Lee Roberts, Gov. Pat McCrory’s new budget director, with belt-tightening orders and restrictions on state employee travel.

McCrory will likely try to avoid doing anything before election day, so it won’t have an impact on the various campaigns, particularly for fellow Mecklenburg County Republican Thom Tillis, the speaker of the state House of Representatives who is locked in a very close race for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan.

Don’t be surprised when legislative leaders and key budget analysts declare that it is still too early in the process to say whether any trends are in place and that they expect revenues to increase in late October and into November and December with holiday shopping and lucrative year-end bonuses. The major culprits for this latest revenue shortfalls are individual income taxes running $225.5 million behind last year along with franchise fees which are running $51.3 million behind the same point last year. Tax cuts enacted by the legislature have had a major impact that haven’t been made up with predicted economic growth in other areas.

In August 2012 the state collected $816.5 million in personal income taxes. This past August, the total was $680.3 million – a difference of $136 million. Broadening of the state sales tax has, over the same period, brought in additional $124.6 million – still not equal to the income tax cuts, including reductions in the corporate income tax.

McCrory aims to stump for Tillis in US Senate race (AP) — North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory says he plans to do anything he can to help fellow Republican Thom Tillis' election campaign for the U.S. Senate in November, and will campaign for state legislators as time allows. McCrory said Tuesday he's planning to actively campaign for Tillis. The governor noted he endorsed the top lawmaker in the state House before the Republican primary election in May. Tillis and McCrory are both from the Charlotte area and have been close allies on most legislative issues since the governor took office last year. McCrory says he's getting many requests from legislative candidates to help their campaigns. The governor says he'll try to support as many as possible around his work schedule, but points out North Carolina is a big state.