scharrison's blog

The hijacking of words and symbols

Rob Schofield over at NC Policywatch has some interesting observations about the word "freedom":

There have been a lot of attempts by conservative groups in recent years to hijack the "freedom" label. Now is the time for thoughtful North Carolinians to reject these clumsy and simplistic arguments. The truth of the matter is that poverty, environmental degradation and the excesses of corporations pose just as much of a threat to freedom as taxes and government bureaucracy.

Unfortunately, through sheer repetition and some manipulative marketing (usually involving the American flag and/or other patriotic images), the ideological right has made a lot of headway with this tactic. Despite the occasional flap caused by an overmatched dimwit like (Rand) Paul, many people who should know better have come to accept this demonstrably false label for the far right's positions.

Party loyalty vs. patronage

To begin this discussion, we'll start with patronage:

Soles' retirement bill allows either district attorneys or judges to collect their pensions starting at age 62 if they have 20 years of service, reports Joseph Neff of The News & Observer of Raleigh. Under the old rules, DAs and judges can collect their pensions beginning at age 65, or when they accumulate 24 years of service. The bill likely affects only Gore, who is 62 and has 22 years of service. The bill means Gore, who admits he helped write the proposal, wouldn't have to wait three more years

Conventional wisdom, at least the type held by those who engage in this kind of behavior, holds that "party loyalty" would keep Democrats like me from criticizing R.C. Soles for doing this. But that wisdom is wrong.

New twist in NC's offshore drilling debate

Show of hands: How many of you knew about this?

The prospects of hitting a trove of oil or gas (considered more likely) off our coastline are slim, perhaps one in a hundred, notes Alexander, a former Charlotte News writer, and Lazell. In 1950, they write, Exxon drilled to a depth of 10,000 feet off Cape Hatteras and found nothing. "More than 50 wells have been drilled both onshore and in coastal waters controlled by the state," including three wells in Dare and Hyde in 1965. "Neither oil nor gas was found in any of these operations," they added.

Related story: The world's largest red herring was discovered swimming in the political waters of North Carolina...

Fetzer bashes D'Annunzio

The not-gay leader of the GOP freaks out a little:

Republican Party leaders have escalated an unprecedented campaign against one of their own congressional candidates, with N.C. GOP chairman Tom Fetzer calling Tim D'Annunzio "unfit for public office at any level."

"What he could do to the party as our nominee is secondary in my view to what he could do to the country if he got elected. If he got elected, for crying out loud, that would be a disaster."

Read the rest of the article. It will blow your mind.

Are planners and the public speaking different languages?

Harsh words for bottom-up planning:

Something is out of whack. And leave it to today's brilliant urban observer, Andres Duany, to pinpoint it.

At a conference last month in Cambridge, Mass., he began ripping "the absolute orgy of public process - it is so out of control." He predicted NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) opposition to windmills and power lines would stymie needed green energy projects. "There's something radically wrong with the public process," he said."

I know what's out of whack, I just don't know how to fix it.

Camp Lejeune leads the way on Solar water heaters

Making it the biggest project of this type in the nation:

Military housing developer Actus Lend Lease and solar company FLS Energy have announced the largest residential solar thermal initiative in the continental U.S.: a project to add solar water heating to 900 homes at the Marine Corps' Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

Generating hot water typically accounts for about one-fourth of the annual energy usage in a four-person U.S. household. The Camp Lejeune project is expected to provide for about 75 percent of the hot-water demand for homes with these systems in the community.

Solar and Wind: A perfect match

But will we have the vision to move forward?

File this information away for the next time you hear that wind and solar power can't replace the giant electricity-generating plants because the sun and wind are "intermittent" and therefore unreliable.

They are intermittent when considered separately, says John Blackburn, an energy economist with top-flight credentials. But taken together, solar and wind are complementary sources of potential power—highly reliable and relatively inexpensive power—that could supply most of North Carolina's future electricity needs.

Insurance Commissioner's authority under attack (again)

And nobody seems to know where the attack came from:

Senator Katie Dorsett co-chairs the subcommittee that wrote that section of the budget. “I do not know where it originated. It came to our committee. We included it. And I was not aware of it."

One level up, the lead budget writers didn’t know much more about the provision than Dorsett or Atwater did. Garrou, Albertson, Swindell – no one could explain it. “I know that it was put in there to try to structure the insurance ratemaking the same way you would do with utilities and other things,” Swindell said. “But I’m not sure, on the dotted line, who it was that suggested that.”

Republican mayor puts prayer back on the menu

Greensboro's new Republican mayor Bill Knight adds God to his list of trusted advisors:

Mayor Bill Knight is going a step further. He’s bringing prayer to the group’s regular meetings.

“I think this adds a very distinctly American quality and a very necessary element,” he said. “We all believe in something. This is an opportunity to exercise that without infringing on the government-religion prohibition.”

It's neither necessary nor "distinctly American" Mister Mayor.

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