North Carolina Forward and Backward

First, the good news: NC is on the verge of shaking its most corrupt national politician (yes, that excludes Speaker Black). RealValues has the scoop, but the numbers for Dem challenger Heath Shuler look good. This is no doubt also seen as good news by Republican primary challenger John Armor (who has been hanging out with the progressives). Maybe he'll get a shot at the title after all.

Then the bad news: the rest of the world probably thinks we're all a bunch of dumb racist rednecks after UPI's story on Raleigh's Confederate Flag Day:

What the Hell Good is it Having Republican Senators and a Mostly Republican Congressional Delegation?

With two GOP-faithful Senators and seven of thirteen Representatives pledging allegiance to the Leader, it's safe to call North Carolina a red state, at least as far as national politics goes. Me, I'd like to see them all replaced with good progressive fighters, but the one silver lining to this otherwise putrid cloud should be better treatment under a Republican administration. I mean, part of the reason we send these folks to Washington is to bring home the bacon, right? Well, they suck at it.

The [National Forest sale] proposal is skewed against the South,
which has relatively little national forest land, a fast-growing
population and increasing demand for backcountry recreation, yet
would receive disproportionately fewer funds from the sell-off.
For example, both North Carolina, with a total of 1.25 million acres
of national forest, and Oregon, with a total of 15.55 million acres,
have about 10,000 proposed for sale. Yet under the funding formula
currently used, North Carolina would get just $1 million in 2006,
while Oregon would get almost $163 million.

Southern Environmental Law Center


Military Madness 3/06

My father was a US Navy hospital corpsman for 23 years. He took a bullet in the back in Korea, recovered physically, and eventually took another bullet by his own hand after years of depression. He was a proud sailor and strong proponent of national defense.

He would be pissed as hell to see Republican politicians using men in uniform as window-dressing for their political and fundraising events as shown in the picture with this article.

Josh Marshall covers the story here . . . and points out that the offensive winger practice is not just bad taste - it's also illegal.

My Letter to the Editor

In response to Bruce Henderson's article, Preserve land sales opposed:

This unprecedented sale of our National Forests has been proposed to close a gap in funding for rural schools. This gap was created by the reduced revenues earned from logging these same forests. At what point does selling off our land base this year assure us of higher logging revenues next year?

Will our government simply continue to sell off our National Forests until there is nothing left? This is a band-aid solution that does not address the long-term needs of our rural schools, but will cause irreparable damage to our National Forests.

One more definition . . . hillbilly

This story is all over the wires . . . the sort of soft AP news that little papers and websites love to pick up. I grabbed this from Kentucky.com.

Encyclopedia of Appalachia tackles 'hillbilly' stereotype

Encyclopedia of Appalachia co-editor Rudy Abramson wanted a reference book that went beyond the stereotypical images of hillbillies and poverty.

"The place has this reputation of being just a different nation of poor people and strip mines and that sort of thing," said Abramson, an Alabama native and retired Washington correspondent for the Los Angeles Times.

Paradigms and Slippery Slopes

This isn't all that important, but following up on my George Will post, I just wanna say: when you hear the words "paradigm shift" or "slippery slope," it's time to pay real close attention to the speaker. He or she is likely trying to pull a fast one.

"Paradigm shift" is often used to emphasize the importance of a change—"it's not just a shift; it's a paradigm shift!" The speaker could say "big shift," but then they would lose the self-satisfaction that comes with using a rare word with roots in science and philosophy. The problem is that it isn't what the word means. The definition to keep in mind is "A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline." That means "big" the way that "stupid" means "Republican." There may be significant overlap, but that isn't identity.

One of Will's Weakest

I don't always
disagree with George Will. Some days—like
today—I
don't
even understand him. His general point seems to be that John Edwards
doesn't understand two things: poverty and politics.

Regarding poverty,
Will says there's been a paradigm shift in the way we understand
poverty, from a 1930s understanding to a modern understanding. This
sounds plausible, and if Will had stopped there, I might believe him.
But here's his new paradigm:

An Update On That Accountability Moment: As Predicted, We Missed It.

(crossposted at DailyKos)

I posted a diary here at the time, but you may have missed it or forgot it, so I’ll remind you:

On Thursday afternoon after Hurricane Katrina hit, House members got an e-mail that the House was convening in special session the next day to pass emergency Katrina relief. The e-mail gave a big wink and nod that we didn’t really need to come, that there would only be a voice vote so no one would ever known whether we showed up or not.

It wasn’t convenient, but I kind of thought it was my job to show up, and Raleigh is only 40 minutes or so flying time from Washington, so I went.

We had a quick debate and a voice vote, and then other members were allowed to speak after the vote. I wanted to express my sympathy for the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, especially since many North Carolinians have suffered greatly from hurricanes in the last decade.

As I listened to what other members said, I changed my mind about what I was going to say. I had heard Scott McClellan say on television the day before that “now is not the time for finger pointing.” And then I heard Republican after Republican say exactly the same words on the House floor, almost like they were not exercising independent judgment, but mindlessly parroting talking points prepared for them by someone else. Almost.

So when it was my turn to speak, this is what I said:

“…Mr. Speaker, I share the anger of many Americans at how shamefully inadequate our government’s response has been. Tens of thousands of Americans are living outside the walls of civilization. They are without food, they are without water to drink, they are without medicine or medical care, they are without effective shelter, they are without the protection against violence that law provides.

“The failures that led to that are not the failures of the last four days; but of the last four years.

“There have been repeated warnings that New Orleans and the Gulf Coast were vulnerable to precisely what has occurred and yet our government was stunningly unprepared.”

The Gutting of Medicaid

Robert started our week with his piece on Medicaid. I thought I would include my take on it to start our weekend.

A program essential to the health, even the survival of many of our most vulnerable citizens has been targeted for massive cuts by the Bush administration and the Republicans in congress. The poor, the elderly and disabled children will be particularly affected by these cuts and in many states are in a more tenuous situation than ever before. These groups may fare a bit better in North Carolina than in other states, but the possibility of a negative impact looms in the future.

Keep reading . . .

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