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Archive for April, 2010

Chapel Hill Hookah Bar Closes; Fight Against Smoking Ban Over

From today’s Carolina Journal comes this development in the story of Hookah Bliss, the Chapel Hill hookah bar that has been waging a fight against the state’s smoking ban.

Hookah bar owner Adam Bliss had long feared the state’s smoking ban would effectively shut down his Chapel Hill business and take his $70,000 investment with it. But today, Bliss says his failure to pay his property taxes led his landlord to padlock the doors on Hookah Bliss.

The move puts an end to the 42-year-old’s family business and to his months-long public battle against Orange County over its enforcement of the state’s smoking ban.

“It’s over. There’s not much else I can do,” said Bliss, who told CJ he owes $4,000 in property taxes that were due in December 2009. He also has not paid $2,100 in rent that was due in early April. “I just couldn’t make enough money to pay the bills.”

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Scott Hunter humiliated yet again

Capitol Police Chief Scott Hunter has been named the Nanny of the Month by Reason TV, beating out such luminaries as Blanch Lincoln and the California legislator who wants to ban kids’ meals at McDonalds.

Hunter won for his suspiciously timed ban of flagpoles from the State Capitol grounds the day before the April 15 Tax Day Tea Party in Raleigh. After national humiliation, and no doubt lots of angry phone calls, Hunter relented. Luckily, as the video points out, no one was stabbed by a flagpole at the rally at the Capitol.

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The Short End of the Stick

A lot of folks have warned about this over the years. Today, columnist Kristen Blair writes about the consequences of decades of concentration, via public policy, on opportunity for girls. The impact on boys is startling. (emphasis is mine)

Long vaunted as academically advantaged, boys are now the face of inequity. National comparisons of boy-girl trends in reading and math, compiled in a newly released Center on Education Policy report, reveal “good news for girls but troubling news for boys.” Nationwide, girls have closed the male-female math gap. But boys lag behind girls in reading achievement in every state.

New numbers from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, released days after CEP’s report, confirm the extent of our boys’ reading crisis. On these most recent NAEP tests, boys trail girls in reading in both fourth and eighth grades nationally; this gap widens as kids get older.

In North Carolina, NAEP tests reveal a 7-point reading gap in fourth grade: 36 percent of girls score “proficient” or better, compared to 29 percent of boys. By eighth grade, this gender gap doubles to 14 points: 36 percent of girls score “proficient” or better, compared to 22 percent of boys.

The consequences of this intense public policy focus on girls has manifested itself in college and the workforce, as I detail in this piece. Woman are doing well — good news, yes — but men are being marginalized.

Since the 1980s, women have dominated higher education, earning the majority of bachelor’s and master’s degrees. In 2005-06, women earned 57.5 percent of all bachelor’s degrees and half of the bachelor’s degrees in business. During the same period, women earned 60 percent of master’s degrees and nearly half of doctoral degrees in all disciplines. At Harvard, Princeton, Penn, and Brown, women run the show.

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Carrboro Alderman to Rep. Paul Stam: Mind Your Own Business

Carrboro Alderman Dan Coleman is pretty miffed with Rep. Paul Stam (R-Wake). His beef is over abortion coverage for local government employees. Evidently the Carrboro board received an e-mail from Stam about the issue, which has been making headlines for a couple of months.

In the WCHL interview, Alderman Coleman calls Stam “a reactionary” who tries to block “all kinds of progressive things” and that Stam should mind his own business.

In March, Carolina Journal’s David Bass reported on the legal case involved in this debate, Stam v. State of North Carolina. From Bass’ story:

That decision, Stam v. State of North Carolina, found that the General Assembly never gave counties the authority to use local tax dollars to pay for the procedure for indigent women. The American Civil Liberties Union and UNC-Chapel Hill School of Government have released separate legal briefs arguing the ruling doesn’t prohibit the coverage for health insurance purposes.

But Stam, who litigated the case three decades ago, said it gives “persuasive” evidence that abortion funding in health care plans is outlawed. He added that commissioners who voted in favor of the funding don’t “understand the history of this case.”

Stam has taken aim at abortion coverage for teachers and state government employees, too. He offered a budget amendment last year that would have banned abortion coverage except when the mother’s life is endangered or in cases of rape or incest. But House Speaker Joe Hackney, D-Orange, ruled it out of order.

Hear the Carrboro alderman’s comments for yourself right here.

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When Will Mr. Obama Tell Good Pal Oprah She’s Made Enough Money?

Just wondering when the president will apply his anti-entrepreneurial, anti-success ideology to his good friend — and political ally — Oprah Winfrey.

I’d say the most successful, and wealthy, businesswoman in history certainly meets his criteria of having “made enough money.” And now there’s word Oprah has signed a $100 million deal with Procter and Gamble.

Surely, can’t we all agree that Oprah has “made enough money” already?

And, surely, can’t we all agree that President and Mrs. Obama have already “made enough money” – as evidenced by their 2009 tax return, which showed adjusted gross income of $5.5 million?

When will a reporter ask the president if he believes that he and his wife have “made enough money”? Better yet, will they ask the First Lady?

I wish I could just laugh off the president’s comment, but the problem is, this kind of thinking infuses his economic policy — and his economic policies are taking us over the financial cliff. Thus, I can’t laugh off Mr. Obama’s comment — and neither should you.

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That didn’t take long; NYT blasts Tim James

Tim James, Republican candidate for governor of Alabama, produced a TV ad that said that it’s a waste of time and money for the Alabama drivers license test to be given in 12 languages. He promised to only give it in English if he is elected governor. In something other than the insane PC universe we’re living, this would be imminently sensible.

Well, the video of the ad has gone viral as lefties who want to ridicule Tim take a look at it, and conservatives who think he’s proposed something reasonable want to see it, too.

It didn’t take long for The New York Times to get into the demonizing game. In an editorial they have termed Tim a “Know Nothing” and an heir to Willie Stark. How’s that for outrageous hyperbole?

In the interest of full disclosure, I worked for Tim’s dad, Fob James, serving as his press secretary during his first term. I knew Tim then as a 17-year-old football star (takes after his dad). I have a good friend, Bradley Byrne, who also is a fine candidate running in the Republican primary for governor. Bradley, a Duke grad, worked in Fob’s campaign in 1977-78 while in law school at the University of Alabama.

I don’t know how this primary will turn out, but it’s clear that Tim had got the edge on national publicity, including high-profile visibility on major conservative blogs. Whether it helps or hurts him, time will tell. But in this era of Tea Party anger over big government intruding into our lives, I have to think it won’t hurt.

UPDATE: Of course, The New York Times conveniently forgot to point out that nine other states currently give drivers license tests only in English. James pointed that out in an interview with the Alabama media.

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Foxx Twitter poll on Puerto Rico statehood bill

It’s here.

So far, the noes are winning 3-1.

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Twaddle shock (based on a true story of love, victory and low-priced retailing)

Here at Right Angles we’ve found occasion to remark on the Left’s strange, self-defeating animus against Wal-Mart (except, of course, when one wants buy, say, a PS3 and can send someone else in his stead). I encountered this Atlantic story from my friend Abby Alger’s Twitter feed, in which she wrote, quite accurately, “Atlantic writer discovers Walmart better than Whole Foods, tries to remain calm, snobby.” An illustrative paragraph:

… I had trouble believing I was in a Walmart. The very reasonable-looking produce, most of it loose and nicely organized, was in black plastic bins (as in British supermarkets, where the look is common; the idea is to make the colors pop). The first thing I saw, McIntosh apples, came from the same local orchard whose apples I’d just seen in the same bags at Whole Foods. The bunched beets were from Muranaka Farm, whose beets I often buy at other markets—but these looked much fresher. The service people I could find (it wasn’t hard) were unfailingly enthusiastic, though I did wonder whether they got let out at night.

The author proceeds to purchase the same amounts of “environmentally correct” food at Wal-Mart ($126.02) and Whole Foods ($175.04), and have chefs prepare them and serve them at a taste testing to “16 critics, bloggers, and general food lovers.” The results are worth the read, and explain my poorly punning allusion in the headline to the movie Bottle Shock. In sum:

As I had been in my own kitchen, the tasters were surprised when the results were unblinded at the end of the meal and they learned that in a number of instances they had adamantly preferred Walmart produce. And they weren’t entirely happy.

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Work Less, Depend More on Government

One would think the languishing economy would re-energize the independent spirit and self-reliance of the American people. After all, the current path of massive and ever-expanding government programs and entitlements is unsustainable and bodes ill for this country’s economic future. Just ask Erskine Bowles how bad things are.

Sadly, some Americans are either oblivious to the facts or have decided to ride the train over the cliff. A new Galllup survey shows that a growing number of Americans are planning on the government as a major source of retirement income.

When Gallup asked Americans who aren’t yet retired to rate the major sources of income for their retirement:

– one-third (34 percent) said Social Security, UP from 27 percent in 2007

– only 18 percent listed part-time work, DOWN from 21 percent in 2007.

Work less, depend more on government. Ominous signs.

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Work in Durham But Live Elsewhere? Commissioner Wants to Tax You

Well, if the goal is to kill jobs, Durham County Commissioner Joe Bowser is on the cutting edge of job-killing public policy. Bowser wants to tax people who work in Durham County but live elsewhere. Let’s hope Mr. Bowser listens to county staff on his money-grab idea. The Herald-Sun reports that “Durham County administrators who’ve studied them say they’ve likely contributed to long-term job losses.”

Gee, ya think?

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