James's blog

Stunning stupidity

I try not to read the N&O editorial pages too often because they're filled so much stupidity they make my head hurt. Case in point: Rick Martinez' inane column on co-habitation.

Debora Lynn Hobbs wants the State of North Carolina out of her personal life. She thinks her living arrangement is none of the government's business. It shouldn't be too long before she gets to argue her case, once Hobbs v. Pender County gets a court date. Hobbs and the North Carolina chapter of the ACLU have sued the county for the express purpose of getting the state's 200-year-old anti-cohabitation law declared unconstitutional.

Experimentation

This is a meta issue, so come back to it if you're in a hurry right now. It's about local, state and federal authority.

Here's the question:

What is the most effective position progressives can take on the issue of state and local autonomy?

These days, I'm finding myself having less confidence in broad federal policy and much more interest in local and state decision-making. To some extent that's a function of how much I loathe what's happening at the federal level right now, but it also reflects my sense that small is often more manageable.

Of course, the great fear is that our state will go the way of the federal government and start to fear diversity. Because here in North Carolina, state trumps local at pretty much every turn. Local taxing authority, for example, is highly constrained. The ability to control state roads inside city limits is sketchy. And no North Carolina municipality could declare that same-sex couples free to marry. (Is this true in every state?)

What's government for?

Much of the conflict between progressives and reactionaries these days seems grounded in fundamental disagreements about the role of government in human affairs. I used to think those disagreements were limited to a few fringe issues where the lines were fuzzy and honest opinions might differ . . . but lately I’ve been convinced that the differences are much deeper, much more fundamental, and much more dangerous.

To begin, reactionaries start with the premise that no one should be forced to ‘invest’ their tax dollars in ventures they don’t approve of. In his daily diatribe against all things progressive, for example, John Hood rightly points out government subsidies for the Randy Parton country music complex in the northeast part of the state are probably not appropriate uses of public money. I have long considered the whole business of economic incentives to be wrong-headed - and Hood and I are surprisingly aligned on that issue. Unfortunately, John relies on extremes to make a point that cannot sustain generalization.

Hood the Contortionist

It's a slow news day. More lying from the Bush White House about who knew what and when. More stupidity and deception from Dick Cheney. More cover up. More corruption. Just business as usual by I-hate-government Republicans.

So it's flat out funny as shit to watch John Hood grimace and grunt as he tries to call Bush to account for his abject failure in all things fiscal. If he keeps this up, he could get a job as a contortionists in Cirque de Soleil. In any case, here's Hood's humor of the day. He can't bring himself to criticize dear leader without taking gratuitous potshots at Al Gore, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

You can't make this up . . .

How could this be? Cheating and cover-up going on at our squeaky clean lottery? The N&O covers the story.

With a bit of drama Tuesday, lottery chief Tom Shaheen whipped away a towel and revealed a new logo for the state's $1 billion-a-year lottery.

:: snip ::

The commission had just agreed to hire a full-service ad agency for the lottery, but Shaheen said his staff designed the logo. He liked it.

His staff said it depicted an exciting explosion of fireworks against what might be a blue sky.

But by the end of the day, the lottery had scrapped the logo, and officials wouldn't release any image of it, despite protests by lawyers for The News & Observer that it is a public record under state law.

Hood winked

Carolina Journal is in rare form today. First they lead with a story that feeds their homophobic agenda about a gay teacher being investigated for contaminating young minds. Heaven forbid kids in schools should understand anything about homosexuality.

And then this gem from Mr. Hood, whining about "theocratic tyrants." Of course, he's all in favor of our own White House Tyrant in Chief . . . it's just those brown people in the Middle East he has a problem with.

The biggest outrage of all is theocratic tyrants with much innocent blood on their hands lecturing the Danes about anything.

Not for the birds

You've no doubt heard that Navy will be flying jets at night this week over a proposed site for a practice training field in northeast North Carolina. The N&O has done a good job covering this long-running story and has an update today.

The Super Hornets will be crossing a tract in Washington and Beaufort counties to collect data on noise and waterfowl in the area. The results will be used in an environmental impact study to be completed in August.

:: snip ::

In December, some daytime flights in nearby Hyde County were canceled due to the risk of striking birds.

Taylor = Delay


Cobey thinks Taylor's seat is safe? Not if we have anything to say about it.

Check Taylor out. The guy looks like a crook, acts like a crook . . . and probably even smells like a crook . . . with a miserable record of shady dealings that everybody seems to know about except the good people of his district. Maybe this poster will help spread the word. PDF attached.

Two-faced Sue Myrick

When I see Sue Myrick talk, it's hard to know which of her two faces to listen to. On one hand, she tries to come across like a law-n-order kind of gal, as shown in this quote to the Charlotte Observer recently. As you no doubt know, Sue wants to deport aliens who are found guilty of DWI.

"For too long, illegal aliens have really just flaunted the law."

But on the other hand, here she is embracing Dear Leader, very possibly the most criminal president in the history of our republic, who most objective observers believe has gleefully flaunted the FISA law with his domestic spying scheme.

Your money

One of the Republican Party's most simple-minded memes is the idea that there's "your money" and that you can spend it better, smarter and more effectively than "they" (the government) can ever hope to do. John Hood trots that old saw out every chance he gets, including in his column today about liberal politicians and taxes.

What they want is more of your money to spend. They want it because they are convinced they will spend it better than you will. It’s as simple as that.

It may be as simple as that when you're a Pope Puppet, but if you actually stop to think about it, there's plenty of evidence that government programs can spend money far more effectively than any individual can. Unless of course you constrain those programs, as the Bush administration has done on prescription drugs, to forbid price negotiations with big pharmaceutical companies.

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