Shuler Featured in the NY Times

Great article here (free subscription required). The piece starts on Shuler the football legend getting Republican voters to switch to him.

Because Shuler is a Democrat who played football at the University of Tennessee, and because this part of western North Carolina generally votes Republican and roots for Tennessee, the endorsement usually goes this way: "You're on the wrong side of the ticket, but you know what? I'm going to vote for you anyway."

College football loyalties can run deeper than party lines. The candidate nods and smiles. The voter tips his Tennessee cap. Just like that, the voter is once again a fan and the candidate once again a legend.

State Defense Bar Joins Call for Clemency in McHone Case And So Should We

For only the second time in state history the NC Academy of Trial Lawyers is intervening to seek clemency for a prisoner on death row. As I have chronicled here, there are three individuals schedule to be executed in the next month and all three have received calls for clemency for their own families and the families of the victims, which happen to be the same in all three cases.

McHone was convicted for a string of petty crimes prior to the murder. Then he was convicted of shooting his mother and father because they would not give him money to pay off restitution that he owed on a previous criminal conviction. He is sentenced to be executed on Friday.

Trade Agreement is Great -- For China

You can expect Robin Hayes to be crowing tomorrow about a trade agreement with China that his office helped write. The deal limits the increase each year that China's textile exports to the US can increase. The good Representative's been involved in the negotiations because his district—North Carolina's 8th—has been hard hit by textile competition from China.

Here's what Hayes won't tell you: The trade agreement gives much more to China than it saves for North Carolina.

China entered the WTO under an understanding that if there were to be a supply spike, other WTO members could cap the growth of imports from China at 7.5% per year. Well, right now there's a supply spike. But the new trade agreement is an even worse deal for North Carolina workers than the already-agreed-on 7.5% cap.

Robin Hayes Hearts Torture

Back in March of this year, the US House of Representatives voted to spend another 80 billion dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The House had a separate vote on whether to add an amendment stipulating that none of that money could be spent on torture, and the amendment passed: 240 to 2.

One of the two pro-torture Representatives was North Carolina's own Robin Hayes.

Hayes the Representative has a website, but you won't find the word "torture" there even once. So is his brazen stand in favor of US-funded torture his only record on the subject? Is torture a North Carolina value for Hayes?

Executions to Frame Thanksgiving

Getting into the holiday spirit, North Carolina has decided to execute three individuals between Nov. 11th and the first week of December. The AP has picked up on these executions and noted that they bracket the Thanksgiving holiday.

The facts of these cases give fascinating insights into our legal system. And all of them have family members of both sides asking Easley for clemency. As someone against the death penalty, I am against all of the executions, but I wonder whether Easley will grant any of the clemencies.

Pssst... Pass It On!

The speaker here is Mike Scanlon, who is business partners with with Jack Abramoff. These guys are deeply embedded in the Republican regime.

"The wackos get their information through the Christian right, Christian radio, mail, the internet and telephone trees," Scanlon wrote in the memo, which was read into the public record at a hearing of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. "Simply put, we want to bring out the wackos to vote against something and make sure the rest of the public lets the whole thing slip past them."

Salon.com News | Abramoff-Scanlon School of Sleaze

First Steps in Healthcare Reform at State Level

Not an overly exciting announcement but a start.

The legislature named a new committee to look at "a wide array of health care issues in advance of next spring's legislative session." The goals are what I think are and should be the goals of any progressive on health care:

House Speaker Jim Black, D-Mecklenburg, announced Thursday the creation of the House Select Committee on Health Care, which is charged with making recommendations on how the state can provide health coverage to more people while keeping it affordable and of a high caliber.

Duke Univ. Scholar Contributes to Study of Bin Laden

Bruce B. Lawrence, professor of Islamic studies at Duke University, wrote an introduction to a soon-to-be-published "first-ever English translation of the major declarations of Osama bin Laden." Now Lawrence has written an article for the Chronicle of Higher Education sharing what he's learned about bin Laden the clues his writings give us to winning the war on terror.

Bin Laden's project couples faith and fighting with relentless insistence on the need to act, and his messages continue to have an appeal. Tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands revere him for his bold stand against the world's sole remaining superpower and its allies, Muslim and non-Muslim. Ironically, during the 80s the CIA helped him to become a local hero in the Afghan war against the Soviets, but during the 90s and into the new century it was media technology that made him into an international celebrity. Bin Laden could not have achieved global prominence without audiocassettes, the Internet, and satellite television, especially Al-Jazeera. His legacy is more secure than his life: No matter when or how he dies, he will not easily be dislodged from his perch as the most famous/infamous Arab of the 21st century.

Easley's a Democrat, Right?

I know we were praising Gov. Mike in this space just yesterday for his efforts to raise teacher pay, but it's seriously groan inducing to hear him selling the shoddy state of labor in NC.

Site Selection magazine named North Carolina the state with the Top Business Climate for 2005, reclaiming the top spot from Texas, which unseated North Carolina's three-year claim to first place from 2001 through 2003.

"We can do everything they can do about 25 percent cheaper in terms of labor capital expenditures and land acquisition," North Carolina Governor Michael Easley told Site Selection.

North Carolina tops Texas for best business climate - 2005-11-02

Legislature to Foot Bill for Teacher Raises

One of the persistent critiques of Gov. Easely's plan to raise teacher pay to the national average (posted about here and here) has been that local agencies will have unplanned for expenses due to the immediate nature of the plan.

Easely has answered those critiques by announcing that this year's raises will be paid for by the state and calling on the legislature to foot the bill for at least this year's raises (article here). WWAY reports:

Easley says he'll work with the Legislature to get teachers a five percent raise over each of the next three years. This year's state budget contained $85 million to pay for the initial raises.

As I stated before, I really like this plan. And I think that it is important for the State to throw in since they have many more resources than the local government. I am just glowing with pride for our Democratic administration. This is how government should work. A solution that will actually help education without passing the buck on to someone else. I have not always agreed with Easely in the past, but on this issue he has been AWESOME. Lets bask in the greatness that is Democratic leadership working for citizens.

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