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Poverty and education

More and more, the evidence is mounting that problems in education have much more to do with childhood poverty than with teachers, unions, or curriculum. And before we invite further change, or destruction, to our system of public education, we need to pay more attention to this reality.

An epidemiologist at Duke Medical School, Dr. Jan Costello, found herself in a position to study the effects of poverty on children before and after the Cherokee Indians of Western NC opened a casino and paid a yearly stipend to every member of the tribe. It turned out that the extra money for families living in poverty resulted in children who had fewer behavior and psychiatric issues, and the younger the children were when the family received this extra income, the more likely the child was to see positive results. (No difference was seen for children who were not living in poverty prior to receipt of the stipend.)

Can you hear me now?

If I could think, I would be hard pressed to make sense of what's happening all around me. Those voices I hear ... are they doctors and nurses? ... are distant echoes to the laughing, breathing momma who nurtured me for fourteen weeks before she collapsed on the kitchen floor. I would have happily gone on to the next place with her, but that was not to be. She has left me behind, growing, more or less, inside her brain-dead body.

The Party Line...Without Substance

The 3rd District of North Carolina will again in May vote for a Democratic Candidate to represent their hopes and dreams for the future of our nation and the Great State of North Carolina. On one had you have a radical right wing Tea Party Member, turned Democrat, Jason Thigpen, facing off against a lifelong Democrat, with tons of political experience and life experience to match, Marshall Adame.

When bipartisanship becomes whitewashing

Politicians who consider themselves progressives need to understand, you are what you do:

Gov. Pat McCrory could not have a more loyal lieutenant than Susan Kluttz, secretary of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources. Even though she’s a lifelong Democrat, the former Salisbury mayor expresses unqualified support for McCrory, even though the Republican governor has taken a sharper turn to the right than many moderates expected. … Governor McCrory is identified with a political agenda that’s overtly disinterested in the problems of the poor. He has rejected a federally-funded expansion of Medicaid to some 500,000 North Carolinians, and he signed into law cuts in unemployment benefits so deep that the state was disqualified from federal benefits for the longterm unemployed.

Kluttz opened a speech in Salisbury last week touting the impact of those very steps. “I’m a part of an administration that began on Jan. 5, 2013,” she said. “At that point, unemployment was 9.4 percent, the (fifth) highest in the nation. The state owed the federal government $2.5 billion. There was a $500 million overrun in Medicaid, and state government was receiving much negative feedback about customer service. …”

Don't get me wrong, being a Democrat in McCrory's bent administration isn't inherently wrong. There are thousands of Democrats working diligently in their particular departments. But when you stand in front of a crowd and give your blessing to policy decisions that have harmed tens of thousands, you have become part of the problem, not part of the solution. And when the tides turn once again, don't expect to be able to ride that wave back to the land of the trustworthy. It's not like she doesn't have a crisis of her own:

Food Stamps....A Good Idea?

Food Stamps are a Good Idea? This is the opinion of the radical Tea Party member, turned Democrat, Jason Thigpen. Good Idea! I hate to break it to you Mr. Thigpen..Food Stamps is actually a functioning program that provides low income families a means to subsidize their ability to purchasing food for the family.

Personally, I believe that if one decides to seek public office, especially at the Federal Level, and say you're a Democrat, even though you have lived your entire adult life as an ultra conservative and turn even more radically conservative and join the Tea Party, you should at least have a better opinion of a program that provides millions of working Americans a means to feed their families. A "Good Idea"?

Good riddance Rep. McIntyre!

In one of his last acts as a Congressman, Rep. Mike McIntyre is trying to strip my marriage and the marriages of couples just like us across North Carolina of federal recognition. He's going out swinging, trying to harm North Carolinians as he goes, even if it means standing alone with the Republicans as he does, giving them cover to call this bipartisan.

This is the kind of act that is helping drive youth into the growing ranks of the independents in this state rather than the shrinking ranks of the Democratic Party. His stance is firmly rooted in the past and on the wrong side of history, in opposition to Senator Hagan's and Attorney General Cooper's support of marriage equality.

A future history lesson on NC's voting rights struggle

It began with several generations of trickery:

Starting at the end of Reconstruction following the Civil War, North Carolina and other states used official and unofficial means to stop poor and black citizens from voting. North Carolina’s 1900 constitution required that voters pay a poll tax and be judged as literate by the local voter registrar, who could choose tough questions for some voters and easy questions – or none – for others. The constitution also included a grandfather clause that exempted from the poll tax those entitled to vote as of January 1, 1867. Between 1896 and 1904, nearly all black voters, including many thousands who had voted before, were removed from the voting rolls, and nearly all black officials were driven from office.

While this first assault on minority voting rights was eventually turned back in the 1960's, similar yet not so blatantly obvious methods were adopted shortly after the turn of the 21st Century, by the now moribund Republican Party (see footnotes) which rose to power under questionable circumstances, likely due in part to the Great Recession which plagued much of the world during this era:

Living in a Koch battleground state: here come the professional Twits

Coming soon to the #ncpol hashtag:

The Koch groups, which railed against Obama and congressional Democrats in 2012, especially want to hire grassroots organizers and social media experts. One group, the Public Notice, describes itself as “an independent non-profit dedicated to providing facts and insight on the economy and how government policy affects Americans’ financial well-being.” It seeks a “social media engagement specialist,” who will “plan, implement, and optimize numerous paid advertising campaigns on diverse channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Pandora, YouTube, Google, OutBrain.”

This social media campaign position reflects a shift away from using traditional broadcast media for electioneering, which political consultants say will be the big trend in 2014.

Not so sure about that "shifting away" from broadcast media thing. I've seen more Americans For the Prosperous ads in the last few months than I've seen for years. And it looks like the Kochs are spreading around scads of money to other groups, as well:

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