James's blog

So you're going to have a baby!

Dearest North Carolina.

I hate to break it to you like this in a blog, but I have important news. We're pregnant. That's right, friends. We. Are. Pregnant.

On November 7th, exactly nine months from tomorrow, we will deliver a new Senate and a new House of Representatives into this chaotic world. On that day, as we make that one final and exhausting push toward parenthood, Boards of Elections all across our state will start counting ballots to determine who gets to control the next United States Congress.

So here's some advice. Let's stop drinking and smoking and clean up our acts. Let's get focused and stay focused . . . unless we want to give birth to another Republican monstrosity.

Dear Congressman Watt:

I know you're taking a wait and see attitude on this issue, but you might want to reconsider whether you think Dear Leader broke the law with his illegal wiretapping scheme. Especially now that this unlikely fellow seems to disagree with you. I know he's only the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and all, but he might just have a point.

Sen. Arlen Specter, whose committee has scheduled hearings Monday on the National Security Agency program, said he believes the administration violated a 1978 law specifically calling for a secretive court to consider and approve such monitoring. Specter, R-Pa., said he might consider subpoenas for administration documents that would detail its legal justification for the program.

Testing my resolve

Just when I'm working on being Mr. Nice Guy, Steve Ford at the N&O comes along with a column today and ruins everything. His effusive and lame defense of our Imperial Presidency is astonishing . . . and downright sad.

How disgusted am I? Let me count the ways.

1. Creepy. I won't debase our pages by recounting most of his sorry prose. Suffice it to say: waste of paper and ink. You'll have to follow the link if you want the whole story.

2. Uninformed. "President Bush's anti-terrorism electronic surveillance program -- the one that's being roasted as warrantless, domestic wiretapping -- is supposed to be targeted against people suspected of having some link to al-Qaeda. But given the size and acuity of the NSA's electronic ears, wouldn't a conversation with someone overseas in which bin Laden's name cropped up be likely to get the eavesdroppers' attention?"

Energy progress

I'm hearing much that is encouraging from the progressive grassroots in North Carolina. This latest resolution on our state's energy future is one of many positive signs. It is sensible, practical, careful and thoughtful (as distinguished from Dear Leader's ridiculously flip-flopping rhetoric).

Here's the resolution itself:

2006 North Carolina Energy Future Resolution

Whereas North Carolina is at a critical energy crossroads,

And whereas applications for the construction of new nuclear and coal generating plants are being submitted,

And whereas comprehensive energy conservation and efficiency policies can potentially reduce or replace the need for new nuclear and coal generating plants,

First, do no harm

You have to laugh when lieutenants in Art Pope's right-wing militia start getting philosophical. This latest from one of the clones reveals hypocrisy taken to new heights.

The subject in this case is property rights. And before we dive in, let me say that I generally agree with the wingers on some key issues here. Standing in for John Hood today, Daren Bakst writes:

This is a critical time for private property rights in North Carolina. The work the committee does now could affect North Carolinians for generations to come. If the committee members do cause harm and make mistakes, it is much better that they err on the side of protecting individual rights than ensuring that government has necessary power.

Apologies

Friends.

My brush with John Hood of the John Locke Foundation has proven instructive. I looked at my comments through his eyes and didn't like what I saw. I'm turning into an angry jerk.

So for that I apologize -- to him and you all. I promise to do better, though I reserve the right to rant at any time for no reason.

Feel free to call me on it. I'm trainable.

Anglico

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:

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.

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