James's blog

Ha ha ha

Here's a hard-hitting (NOT) interview involving a couple of Pope puppets about the important issue of advertising and public policy. Like most Pope-aganda, this piece is designed to further the odd notion that corporate speech rises to the same level of first amendment protection as individual speech. In what can only be described as fawning, interviewer Donna Martinez grills John Hood about his outdated book on advertising as part of the “heroic” culture of private enterprise. Check out these choice comments from Ms. Martinez:

Martinez: I think alcohol advertising is really fascinating.
Martinez: Wow, what a claim.
Martinez: Now this is a really interesting subject, your new book about advertising.
Martinez: In your book — it is a really fascinating book.

Water woes

The Winston-Salem Journal online has this sobering story about the water needs in rural North Carolina.

The General Assembly should approve a $1 billion bond referendum this year to help the state's poorest regions upgrade their aging water and sewer systems, a state policy center said Thursday.

The money will help the state catch up on an estimated $6.85 billion in projected statewide repairs and improvements needed over the next five years, officials of the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center said. Voters would have to approve the bonds in a statewide election that could come as early as November.

Trickle down bullsh*t

This just in from AP:

The average income of American families, after adjusting for inflation, declined by 2.3 percent in 2004 compared to 2001 while their net worth rose but at a slower pace.

Sad details on the flip . . .

Pigs Have Wings II

I've promised to keep an open mind about the possibility that there could actually be common ground between progressive and conservative world views, so I was pleased today to see the Carolina Journal lamenting the sorry state of our electoral maps -- and their resulting tilt in favor of partisan pandering. Read Hood's column. Except for a few gratuitous swipes at the left, which he seems unable to resist no matter what, Hood's points are well taken. Just goes to show, even wingnuts can have a good day.

Breaking: Bob Dole gets it up for ports

As if the irony in Bushland isn't deep enough already, the UAE company trying to take control of US ports (Dubai Ports World) has signed on old Bob Dole to be their crony-in-chief in Washington. His job is to make this stinking deal smell sweet enough to keep Congress from over-riding Bush's promised veto. I'm guessing his sniffer has as many problems as his stiffer. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Wonder what Liddy thinks of this turn of events. Does she think it's okay to turn over the management of US ports -- like, say, Wilmington, to the money-laundering capital of the world?

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.

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