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Archive for January 8th, 2010

You think THIS is cold?

I began reading Jeff Shaara’s No Less Than Victory about the time this cold spell hit us.

The historical novel begins in December of 1944 in the Ardennes just as the Germans begin their offensive that became known as the Battle of the Bulge.

As I read about soldiers freezing to the bottoms and sides of their foxholes as they slept, trying desperately to keep their toes from freezing in plain leather combat boots with no lining or Gore-Tex, with field jackets made of cotton and wool with no down lining, suddenly our cold wave seems a minor inconvenience.

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Why is a moral compass so hard to find?

Corruptions big and small are being revealed daily among governing and academic elites (Congress, lobbyists, bankers, insurance executives, climate-change cabalists). If you live in North Carolina you have been treated to several years of embarrassing corruption scandals involving politicians (our most recent former governor, congressmen, state legislators).

You’ve also seen egregious behavior among academics locally (the Duke 88) and academic administrators (the ones who rolled over to give Mike Easley’s wife a sinecure).

“Conflict of interest” is a phrase that no one seems to understand anymore. Ethical myopia is a pandemic much more dangerous and widespread than H1N1.

Here’s the latest example. The MIT economist who has been used by the Obama administration as an unbiased source to prop up the numbers they’ve used to sell the health care takeover has been under contract to the Department of Health and Human Services. He’s made more than $300,000 as a paid consultant to the administration, while not revealing that fact in his columns for the national media, or in interviews:

MIT economist Jonathan Gruber raked in nearly $300,000 from the Obama administration’s Department of Health and Human Services while frequently appearing in news accounts as a non-partisan analyst who supported Democratic health care legislation.

Gruber defended himself to Ben Smith at the Politico, arguing that HHS didn’t fund his “public declarations” and that he didn’t say anything that was contrary to what he believed. Gruber also told Smith “that he has told reporters of the contract ‘whenever they asked’ …”

What this country needs is a moral compass.

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NAACP Forum on “Threat of Re-segregation” by Wake School Board

The Independent Weekly reports that this Sunday in Raleigh, the NAACP will hold a forum to discuss its concerns with the new Wake County school board.

I hope the meeting’s leaders discuss the following information Sunday. It is clear that while Wake’s public system serves some families well, the policies of the past few years have not served minorities well. It is morally indefensible that so many kids are being left behind by the system.

In October, the district issued an analysis of the ultimate measure of its work – graduation rates. The results are not encouraging for diversity’s desired beneficiaries.

The four-year graduation rate for African American and Hispanic students is declining. For black students, it fell from 69.9 percent in 2006 to 63.4 percent in 2009. For Hispanics, the graduation rate dropped from 57.7 to 51.1 percent during the same time period.

Male students continue to be the academic anchor for both groups. The 2009 graduation rate for black males was 57.4 percent and a paltry 45.5 for Hispanics.

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It Was Probably Just a Coincidence Anyway, Right?

Former governor Mike Easley’s 2005 travel records are still missing and the panel charged with looking into it has been unable to figure out what happened.

I think reasonable people have a good idea of what may have happened to them and why.

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“I know it’s a felony.”

Well, well, well. More shenanigans from state government officials. From the News & Observer:

Federal authorities are investigating whether the former commissioner of the state Division of Motor Vehicles illegally wiretapped the phone calls of agency employees.

George Tatum, who resigned in 2007 amid a corruption scandal, had a special telephone in his office that allowed him to listen in on the calls of his subordinates without their knowledge, according to current DMV officials. Greg Lockamy, who retired unexpectedly last year after serving as the agency’s internal affairs director, also had a phone set up for secret eavesdropping.

Thankfully, it seems as if Mike Robertson, the guy who now heads DMV, doesn’t want to be anywhere near activity like this (emphasis is mine):

“It ain’t happening anymore,” said Robertson, who formerly served as an agent at the State Bureau of Investigation and said he is well acquainted with the penalties for wiretapping without a warrant. “I know what the law is. I know it’s a felony. And, honestly, some of the past things they used this system for were probably wrong.”

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