First Amendment Symposium

UNC's First Amendment Law Review (FALR) is having a symposium this month focused on religion in schools, and I thought it sounded like the kind of thing readers of this blog might be interested in. Michael Newdow (the recent Supreme Court "under God" plaintiff) will be there, as will experts in constitutional law. There will be discussion about intelligent design, too.

A friend on FALR sent me some information that I've attached to this post. You can register here. It may scare you off, but I plan to be there.

How did NC vote for cutting funding to Disabled Children?

I guess it was the fatigue over the Alito nomination and the SOTU. That is the only reason that I can come up with that the Progressive Blogosphere did not fight the Budget Reconciliation package that passed the House yesterday by a vote of 216-214. This is the bill the Republicans have Bushspeaked into the Deficit Reduction Bill or some such nonsense. What will it really do?

Student Loans - Student loans will take a $12.7 Billion dollar hit. The effect will be to make it harder to get a student loan and will make the interest higher for those who already have pile of students loans - thanks for the help GWB. Gee, do you think his base, that is millionaires, have many outstanding student loans? On Air America, Al Franken has stated his theory that this program is designed to force more lower-income students to chose the military as a way to pay for college. That would be evil, so yes, I believe that is the purpose of this cut.

Wingers and Wackos

Targator's excellent diary on new research about how human brains process political dissonance is worth more discussion. The main thesis is this:

Essentially, it appears as if partisans twirl the cognitive kaleidoscope until they get the conclusions they want, and then they get massively reinforced for it, with the elimination of negative emotional states and activation of positive ones. The result is that partisan beliefs are calcified, and the person can learn very little from new data.

As I noted when the diary was first posted, I fully admit that I can barely stand to listen to wingers talk. I've given that matter some serious thought and arrived at my own 'partisan' explanation:

Simple Question

From WRAL:

Political Parties Divided On Gas Price Solution

POSTED: 5:15 pm EST February 1, 2006

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Is the real problem a few pennies extra at the gas pump or a record $36 billion in profits made by a petroleum giant?

I did not even have to read the rest of the article.

Collection of Quotes from North Carolina Politicians on the SOTU

Collected by WRALhere.
First some of the good:

U.S. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C.: "Each year, the State of the Union provides the opportunity to reflect on what has been accomplished as well as the challenges ahead. If the country stays its current course, I see American families, seniors and veterans continuing to struggle as they face rising health care costs, skyrocketing heating bills, higher prices at the gas pumps, smaller paychecks and an out-of-control deficit."

___

U.S. Rep. David Price, D-N.C.: "President Bush had the opportunity this evening for a serious conversation with the American people about the challenges that confront us and how we are to meet them. He chose instead to conduct another 'spin session.' "

Fat Kids? Let 'em drink Coke.

In predictable obeisance to all things commercial, the John Locke Foundation objects today to restraints on advertising directed to children for products that are ruining their health. In this case, JLF is spending Art Dope's money to whine about Europe's swift and powerful reaction to their own emerging obesity epidemic.

While some critics of soda machines and cola ads mouth a broadly anti-capitalist critique, the usual justification for banning them is childhood obesity. In Europe, soft-drink companies themselves decided that the prospect of regulators blaming them for kiddie flab was so dire that they needed to announce last week a “voluntary” ban on advertising to children under 12. They also said they would eliminate soda machines in primary schools while increasing the availability of non-carbonated drinks in secondary schools.

No Real Solutions, But Probably No Indictments Either

What President Bush says and what he does are rarely within hailing distance, but it was still pretty startling to see the White House press release earlier today about the State of the Union address:

“To keep America competitive in a dynamic economy, the President will set out an agenda focused on the priorities that families are most concerned about. He will talk about the importance of having an educated, skilled workforce, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and making health care more affordable, accessible, and portable.”

Sounds like one of us, right? Don’t show him the secret Democratic handshake. He doesn’t really mean it. And he certainly won’t really do anything about it.

Brad Miller and State of the Union Blogging

Congressman Brad Miller (NC-13) will be posting a response to the President's State of the Union address here at BlueNC after the speech. Representative Miller is no stranger to blogs (see his dKos contributions here), and it will be an honor to have him stop by tonight.

Also, I've added a "State of the Union" category under Feds >> President for all your post-SOTU blogging needs. That is, if you're not too busy hiding under the covers or hobnobbing with Howard Dean in Durham.

EDIT: Talking points ahoy:

The Lottery Is Coming, The Lottery Is Coming

For some of our readers this headline sends terror throughout their body. For others, the headline is welcome news. Whichever side you are on, it looks like North Carolina will begin selling lottery tickets by the end of March. The News-Record story on this is here.

Watt what?

My friend Fred over at Orange Politics posted this comment about Mel Watt:

Hopefully, there will be something in the local media about this afternoon’s address by Rep. Mel Watt, chair of the CBC, entitled “The State of the Union.” The program was held at the NC Mutual Life insurance Co. auditorium and many local political figures were in attendance, including Rep. Price.

When asked the impeachment question, Rep. Watt indicated that he didn’t know if there has been any criminal behavior, but based on what he currently knows, he doesn’t see any impeachable offenses. It wasn’t clear if the CBC or Watt will support the Conyers Resolution or not, but according to THOMAS, Watt is not a cosponsor at this time.

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