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Archive for July, 2011

Hey, two North Carolina Democrats do something right

It’s rare that I find any North Carolina Democrat doing something to praise, but the votes of Reps. Heath Shuler and Mel Watt against H.R. 1981 deserve a bit of it. They were among 10 members to vote against the measure (PDF) in committee earlier this week. Nineteen of their colleagues, including Republican Rep. Howard Coble, voted for it.

H.R. 1981 is also called the Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011. How could anyone be against that? It’s “for the children,” right? North Carolina Republican Howard Coble feels that way. He’s a co-sponsor. The legislation purports to make it easier to catch child-porn pushers and users, but it’s the way it proposes to do it that is the problem.

H.R. 1981 would require your ISP to spy on everything you do online and save records of your usage for 12 months. Yes, this would make it easier to catch pedophiles, but at what cost? Supporters, I’m sure, would argue that no one would use those records for nefarious purposes, but they are naive. As we can see from the acrimonious atmosphere in Washington these days, it’s not hard to imagine some hard partisan getting his hands on an opponent’s online records and using them for leverage.

Or imagine a bureaucrat or regulator at some federal agency obtaining embarrassing internet usage records and using them as leverage against a private citizen. Don’t think it can’t happen.

Shuler and Watt are right on this one, and Howard Coble is wrong. Let’s hope the full House slaps this down quickly.

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Is the Left Ready To Step Up to the Plate?

I’m wondering when progressives who shudder at the thought of cutting discretionary spending — or even cutting the rate of growth  in discretionary spending — will put their money where their mouths are and voluntarily send money to the U.S. Treasury. I wrote about this in a recent Carolina Journal column:

 

The federal government has accepted donations for more than 160 years, calling them “Gifts to the United States.” The Treasury Department website says the fund was created to accommodate “individuals wishing to express their patriotism” for the country. Fiscal year 2008 was a banner year for the feds. Gifts totaled $3,735,934.74, according to Tom Longnecker of the Treasury Department. In fiscal year 2010, the number dropped to $698,708.40. From fiscal year 2006 through fiscal year 2010, the account took in more than $9 million. 

Now CNN is reporting on a couple who are organizing people to do it.

 

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Get ready for more homeless people in N.C.

If you track the upward trend of deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill since the 1960s, you’ll find an increase in the number of homeless nationwide. You can see the effects of this policy by visiting the Durham Public Library on a very hot or very cold day.

It can only get worse.

The U.S. Department of Justice has ruled that North Carolina places too much emphasis on institutionalizing the mentally ill instead of “providing support in the community.” The DOJ will work with North Carolina to develop a “voluntary compliance agreement,” which likely will mean 1) lots more spending, and 2) more homeless on the street:

After an eight-month investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a letter of findings accusing the State of North Carolina of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by unnecessarily institutionalizing mental health patients instead of providing support in the community.  The DOJ’s investigation was prompted by a complaint filed in July 2010 by Disability Rights North Carolina, the state’s protection and advocacy agency for people with disabilities.
 
“Finally, this is a critical step towards true recovery for people with mental illness in North Carolina,” said Vicki Smith, Executive Director of Disability Rights NC.  “The State’s bias towards institutionalization of people with mental illness has gone unchecked for far too long.”

Those quotes are from an emailed news release. Don’t have a link yet.

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Think we don’t need voter I.D. laws? Read this

The most prevalent argument by Democrats, The News & Observer, the N.C. NAACP, and leftists in general, against the Voter ID law that Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue just vetoed, is, “Where’s the fraud?”

Opponents see the law as a solution in search of a problem. Naively, they argue that no one would actually try to commit vote fraud, and they scoff at those who argue that requiring a voter ID at the polls and when requesting absentee ballots is a prudent requirement.

But…:

While NAACP President Benjamin Jealous lashed out at new state laws requiring photo ID for voting, an NAACP executive sits in prison, sentenced for carrying out a massive voter fraud scheme.

In a story ignored by the national media, in April a Tunica County, Miss., jury convicted NAACP official Lessadolla Sowers on 10 counts of fraudulently casting absentee ballots. Sowers is identified on an NAACP website as a member of the Tunica County NAACP Executive Committee.

Americans need photo IDs for hundreds of other activities in their daily lives. One has to wonder whether those opposing IDs for voting simply want to retain the opportunity for the Lessadolla Sowers of the world to do their thing.

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An Overview of the Wake School Board Races

Carolina Journal’s Karen McMahan takes a look at the political dynamics involved in the October 11 Wake school board elections. Five seats are on the ballot.

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UNC football scandal: Under New Management

Update, 2 p.m.: UNC Athletics Director Dick Baddour has announced that he will resign when his contract expires in June 2012.

When an event such as UNC football coach Butch Davis’ firing happens as unexpectedly as it did, questions are sure to be asked and speculation will run rampant. Examples: Why now? Why not last season? Why right before the new football season starts? Why now after standing by Davis with each and every new damning allegation? Is it because the upcoming release of Davis’ previously withheld cellphone calls revealed a sin too far? Is it that, by firing him now “without cause” before cause is made manifest by the NCAA later this year, Davis will receive several million dollars in a buyout (which could now be essentially “hush” money)? Is it something worse?

The timing seems rather strange because there was nothing new (that we know about, at least) about the scandal that has not only involved more typical sports corruption, but also blatant, systemic academic fraud. But there was a change at UNC that, I believe, not only explains the firing but also validates one particular man’s insight into the scandal. The man is blogger BobLee Swagger, a friend, an independent conservative, and a sincere (and, incidentally, well-connected) UNC sports fan who’s also maintained perspective about college athletics.

BobLee has long held that UNC’s disturbing, see-no-evil approach to the scandal owed to a deliberate approach emanating from the Board of Trustees under the leadership of BOT chairman Bob Winston (the link is from a September 2010 column). BobLee calls Winston and fellow trustees Paul Fulton and John Ellison “the real authors of this trainwreck” for not doing due diligence before hiring Davis and for following that mistake with what he calls “the Silly Sgt. Schultz Scam” (after the character from the TV show “Hogan’s Heroes,” famous for saying “I know nothing; I see nothing”).

The seemingly odd timing of Davis’ firing appears to have validated BobLee’s insight. You see, one thing has changed at UNC: the leadership of the BOT. So BobLee answers the question today (in his own fashion, of course):

Q: Why now?

A: Simple. Yesterday was the first meeting of the NEW UNC BOT without BOTBob Winston as chair.

BOTBob’s tenure on the BOT expired after the last meeting. Wade Hargrove is the new BOT Chair effective yesterday. As reported here for the past 11 months …. BOTBob was one of the Infamous BOT3 that hired Butch and served as his human shield when the Fit Hit The Shan a year ago. ….. For Chancellor Thorp to publicly go against his board, chaired by Winston, was virtual suicide.

The BOT3 would have/did block all earlier moves to oust Davis. Factoring that into the equation explains the rest of the bumbling broadbrush cover-up including the tutor crap. The BOT3 stonewalled “the Truth”. The Sgt Schultz Gambit had to keep expanding to cover anything that percolated to the top of the septic field.

The good news here is that it possibly signals that the adults at UNC are waking up. I have been asking where they are. Granted, the professor of the infamous Swahili class is still unavailable despite his return to the States. Nevertheless, I’d rather give tardy marks to the responsible adulthood at UNC than an ugly No Credit for skipping out altogether.

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I’ll Take Half a Loaf

Elections have consequences. The U.S. Senate lacks the needed number of fiscal conservatives to pass a consequential course correction for the federal budget. Thus, it’s half a loaf or nothing. Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard lays out the realities in this piece. Unless or until the ideology of the Senate changes, half a loaf is the best deal fiscal conservatives can expect.

 

 

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Will UNC Owe Butch Davis Millions Over Firing?

Lots of questions are swirling about the firing of UNC head football coach Butch Davis. The key issue for me is whether the university will owe Davis millions. From WPTF News:

 

In addition to naming an interim coach, UNC officials will be asked specifically why Davis was let go. UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp said in a statement the dismissal was not related to the NCAA investigation into the football program that began in July 2010. If so, then Davis could be owed millions of dollars.

Davis’ contract runs until 2015. He could be owed $590,000 per year and walk away with $2.3 million if his dismissal, as Thorp stated Wednesday, is not tied to an NCAA or ACC violation. Davis’ contract states he can be terminated for cause – which would nullify a buyout – if he or an assistant coach on his staff break major NCAA or ACC rules or should have reasonably known about a violation.

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Wake County Commission Chairman Paul Coble Will Run For Congress

The News & Observer reports that Republican Paul Coble, former Raleigh mayor and current chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners, will run for the 13th district seat in Congress. The seat is currently held by Democrat Brad Miller. Two others have also announced: Bill Randall, who ran against Miller last cycle, and George Holding, former U.S. Attorney.

 

 

 

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Food Police: Hot Dogs Should Have Warning Labels

Via USA Today comes the latest food police news. This installment is from a Washington DC based group called The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. They’ve put up a billboard near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to alert race fans of the dangers of hot dogs.

The billboard features a picture of hot dogs in a cigarette pack inscribed with skull and crossbones. It aims to increase awareness of a link between colorectal cancer and hot dogs.

Hot dogs, like cigarettes, should come with a “warning label that helps racing fans and other consumers understand the health risk,” said Susan Levin, the committee’s nutrition education director.

 

If folks want to put up billboards, fine with me. My concern is that the “warning label” mantra will be taken seriously by government officials who have the power to make it mandatory.

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