scharrison's blog

The Governor's Focus: an Update

As I mentioned in a previous diary, I've been attending the monthly meetings of The Governor's Focus on Returning Combat Veterans and their Families for the past several months, and after Wednesday's meeting, I figured it was time to give you a brief update on some of the issues at which we've been looking.

In a nutshell, the Governor's Focus is tasked with making sure veterans and their families have ready and easy access to existing mental health programs and services, and to identify real or potential gaps in these services and develop solutions for such.

To give you an idea of the sheer scope of this venture:

Titan Cement: The Conversation Continues

Before I begin this diary, I want to ask a question in all seriousness: why is this diary even necessary? Is adding 161 jobs, probably half of which will be filled by technicians moving here from another state, worth the destruction of 1,000 acres of precious wetlands, adding a carbon footprint so big you could count the toes from space, and scattering methyl mercury around like a kid adding sugar to his cornflakes? Of course it isn't worth it. But we're not talking about common sense here, are we? We're talking about politics, and the irrational behavior of those who engage in it.

Some of you may be aware that Senator Julia Boseman sponsored SB699, a bill to:

David Hoyle, Pollution Superstar

For the record, I want to state upfront that I derive no pleasure from attacking elected Democrats for their behavior, and I look forward to the day when that won't be necessary. But as long as legislators like Senator Hoyle pursue policies that present a clear and present danger to the environment of our beautiful state, as well as the health and welfare of the people they're supposed to watch over, looking the other way for Democratic Party solidarity's sake is a pill I simply cannot swallow.

Thanks to an e-mail alert from our good friends at the NC Conservation Network, we see that Senator Hoyle has joined Jim Rogers of Duke Energy and Titan Cement as the third recipient of their Pollution Superstar Award:

Pollution Superstar #3: Senator Hoyle

The Future of Journalism

A few things that James said last Saturday while presenting a BlueNC Bulldog Award to the (in absentia) Capitol Press Corps have stuck in my mind for the past week, and I think they bear repeating and deeper exploration. In acknowledging the value and effort behind professional, credentialed investigative reporting in the exposure of the nuts and bolts of governmental operations, James also exposed far and above the most important and ominous aspect of the collapsing newspaper business: the loss of career journalists.

On Mercury, Cliffside, and Convenient Ignorance

Some of you may wonder why I have yet to speak out about the recent acquiescence by DAQ in the issuance of a new air quality permit for Duke Energy's Cliffside #6 coal-fired power plant. Frankly, the DAQ's complete reversal from its previous position last fall knocked my legs out from under me, and every time I think about it I see red. It's a good thing I didn't attend the recent protest, because I'd probably still be locked up. That being said, this discussion must continue, and it must be based on the real-world dangers associated with this reckless project.

A Deeper Look Into the UNC Fiasco

Almost every single time I start checking out some flashy new Conservative organization, it ends up being a "Seven Degrees of Sarah Scaife" game. Which is one of the huge foundations that fund various right-wing "think-tanks" that peddle corporate misinformation, like the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation. In this case, it only takes about four degrees to connect the dots between these mega-funders and the new "student organization" that has plunged UNC Chapel Hill into controversy lately, the Youth for Western Civilization.

The middle dot in this connection is the Leadership Institute out of Arlington Virginia:

The Leadership Institute's mission is to identify, recruit, train, and place conservatives in politics, government, and the media.

Burr's Money, Part One: Big Pharma Finds A Hero

I'm sure it will come as no surprise to many reading this, but not only is the pharmaceutical industry hugely profitable, they're also near the top of the list of biggest spenders in lobbying/campaign contributions. And they're not stupid. These expenditures, just like the hundreds of millions they spend on research and development, are investments to ensure a healthy future profit margin. And thanks to their investment in Richard Burr, they're not only raking it in at the pharmacy counter, they're getting billions of taxpayer dollars along the way.

Doug Berger's Misguided Castle Doctrine

I am by no means an opponent of the 2nd Amendment, and have studied the Founding Fathers' reasoning behind its inclusion in our Constitution and concluded they had all citizenry in mind when they referenced the Militia, and not a tight select group as some of my fellow Liberals have concluded. With that clearly stated, I also believe the possession and use of firearms should be sensibly regulated, and the enforcement of our laws should be reserved for those we have given the responsibility to do such. Any effort to erode these common sense ideals should be scrutinized closely and potential consequences explored, or we may find ourselves one day living under the aura of vigilante justice again.

A bill was introduced last month by (believe it or not) Democratic Senator Doug Berger, titled the Castle Doctrine:

White Supremacy, By Any Other Name

In an effort to more clearly define the events surrounding the aborted speech of Tom Tancredo and the near-violent reaction to the YWC's gathering on the UNC campus, I decided to take a deeper look at the psychology and symbolism used by white supremacist organizations like the Youth for Western Civilization. All of the images portrayed in this piece were taken from their blog, The Hammer. Which is itself a term used by some of the more radical white supremacist groups.

Here's their shield and axe logo:

A New Way Forward: This Saturday in Raleigh

One of the reasons why America has evolved into the most powerful and influential nation in the world is our ability to adapt. When someone knocks our feet out from under us, we don't just lay there and pout. We get back up, dust ourselves off, and then take steps to make sure that that someone will never be able to knock us down again. Well, the bankers have knocked our feet out from under not only us, but the rest of the world as well, and if we don't stand up now and fix their wagon, they'll keep knocking us down through their recklessness until we'll no longer have the strength to stand anymore.

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