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Archive for June, 2012

Heath Shuler wimps out, joins Pelosi bloc

A year ago 31 Democrats wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder expressing concern over Fast & Furious and especially over the AG’s unwillingness to share documents about the operation with Congress. In the letter they urged him promptly to reply to Congress’ requests. Among the 31 were N.C. Democrats Larry Kissell, Mike McIntyre and Heath Shuler.

Today, of the 31 Democrats who signed the letter, only 16 followed through and voted to hold Holder in contempt of Congress. Kissell and McIntyre were among them. Shuler was not. He voted with the Pelosi bloc.

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Organizing For America Approached Me Today

I had a firsthand experience today with Organizing for America, the Obama re-election/community organizing group out of the DNC. While pumping gas at a Circle K in Durham, a well dressed young woman of 18 or so walked up to me and asked if I’m registered to vote “at your correct address.” I said yes and asked her who she represents. She said Organizing for America. I then told her I do not support President Obama’s policies. That’s when she turned around and walked away, which is a shame. I wanted to ask her why she supports economic policies that will drown her in debt and sentence her to poor job prospects for years to come. To her credit, she was polite, but obviously misinformed about the burden her generation will bear. And that is quite sad.

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Disaster in the making

For a couple of weeks I’ve seen on the message boards on I-40 that buses will soon be using the shoulders. I went to Ottowa Ottawa once for my former newspaper to look at that city’s busways, lanes dedicated to buses, usually with Jersey barrier on each side. The Canadian busways, as I remember them, had the advantage, though, of uninterrupted travel. A shoulder on a U.S. interstate does not.

As I drove from Durham to Raleigh this morning I paid attention to the shoulders on I-40 East. The first thing one notices is that they are not continuous. Shoulders peter out, stop, start, disappear, and reappear with regularity. I don’t see any way that the right shoulders can be used safely. A bus driver would have to have every inch of the erratic nature of shoulders memorized, and I doubt it that’s going to be part of their training. Add to that the iffy nature of pulling out into rush-hour traffic when a shoulder’s terminus is looming and you have a very dangerous situation.

All shoulders run eventually into on or off ramps. What will the bus do when it reaches one of these and is blocked by heavy traffic on the left of the bus? Will the driver barrel across the entrance of an off ramp, disregarding vehicles in the actual lane of travel that might want to exit the highway? Will they do the same at on ramps, disregarding vehicles coming down from their right? Or will they slam on their brakes and wait for the on and off ramps to clear?

If buses continually move to the shoulder and then move back into the right lane when the shoulder disappears, it won’t be long before all other drivers learn not to get anywhere near the right lane, which sort of defeats the purpose of augmenting the travel lanes, doesn’t it.

Count me very skeptical of this latest experiment.

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Here’s What Happens When You Spend And Borrow Like There’s No Tomorrow

Stockton, California, a town of 300,000, is filing for bankruptcy. What pushed the city over the financial cliff? Irresponsible decisions and policies.

How Stockton found itself so mired in debt can be seen everywhere in the city’s core. There is a sparkling marina, high-rise hotel and promenade financed by credit in the mid-2000s, mere blocks from where mothers won’t let their children play in the yard because of violence.

During the economic boom, this working-class city with pockets of entrenched poverty tried to reinvent itself as a draw to Bay Area refugees and a popular site for conventions. It offered generous city employee pension plans and benefits.

There should be a lesson in the misery Stockton imposed on itself, but I doubt the warning about massive growth of government will be heeded. And that is what’s so alarming.

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Red Light Camera Ticketing Program Comes Back To Haunt Cary

Cary’s red light ticketing program is now the subject of a big  court case, now that a Wake County judge has granted class-action status to the case. If Cary loses the case —  which hinges on what plaintiffs contend are tickets and penalties they didn’t deserve — the town could be on the hook for repaying penalties to thousands.

Ridgeway’s seven-page order gave no details about how the affected drivers would be identified, or whether they would be notified about the lawsuit. Ridgeway said it was not clear how many drivers were affected. He wrote that attorneys for both sides had provided estimates ranging from hundreds to tens of thousands, depending on how narrowly the judge defined the class of plaintiffs.

Ceccarelli said he figured the ruling would make tens of thousands of drivers eligible for refunds of their tickets, if the plaintiffs win the case. A Cary town spokeswoman pegged the number somewhere below 9,000. Ceccarelli said he expects the case to go to trial in January, unless the two sides agree on a settlement.

JLF’s Fergus Hodgson has written many times about the problems with red light cameras. You can find some of his analysis here.

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Gov. Perdue Uses The Oldest Line In The Book

During her news conference about the budget yesterday, Gov. Perdue employed the oldest line in the play book of those who wrongly believe that more money equates to higher educational achievement.

Saying she would never turn her back on North Carolina’s children, Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue urged GOP legislative leaders to find more money for education in the waning days of the 2012 short session.

“I’m calling on them to do more for the children,” Perdue said during a brief, hastily called news conference held on the Capitol’s east lawn. “The future of North Carolina is at stake.”

The governor could use some new speechwriters.

For those who want to know what really is and isn’t in the education portion of the new budget that is on the governor’s desk, the facts can be found here.

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If You’re Eating Too Much, Don’t Worry, Obamacare Will Take Care Of It

From the LA Times comes this nanny state update.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force urged doctors to identify patients with a body mass index of 30 or more — currently 1 in 3 Americans — and either provide counseling themselves or refer the patient to a program designed to promote weight loss and improve health prospects.

Under the current healthcare law, Medicare and most private insurers would be required to cover the entire cost of weight-loss services that meet or exceed the task force’s standards.


So if I want a Hawaiian vacation to help keep me from consuming too many milkshakes this summer, will Obamacare cover that too?

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The Knitting Group vs. The IOC

From Businessweek comes the story of the dust-up between a massive online knitting group and the U.S. Olympic Committee.

On July 27, the 2012 Ravelympics kicks off with a marathon knit-off during the opening ceremonies of the 2012 London Games. At least, that was the plan. Earlier this week, the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) sent the 2 million-member knitting group a cease-and-desist letter, asking them to stop.

“We believe using the name ‘Ravelympics’ for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games,” the USOC wrote in the letter. “It is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.”

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Gallup: 17.8%

Economic policies have consequences. And bad economic policies have very, very bad consequences. Gallup reports the number of American adults who are in the workforce, but are either out of a job completely or working only part time because they can’t find a full time job is a staggering 17.8 percent.


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Trendy App Developers Run Into The FDA’s Regulatory Web

The young and trendy app developer world is running into the day-to-day reality of regulation. Those looking to develop health related apps are trying to figure out how to work with and through the FDA. No longer is “regulation” a boring, intangible concept only discussed by think tanks. Check out the comments from Joel White, executive director of the Health IT Now Coalition.

According to the Government Accountability Office, the FDA takes about six months to approve a medical device that is similar to an existing product and 20 months to approve a brand new device. That’s simply too slow, White says.

“We’re seeing mobile apps updated and created on a daily basis,” he adds. “The life cycle is dramatically different.”

The upside of what the app industry is facing is that younger people who see the entrepreneurial opportunities of apps will begin to understand exactly what regulation is and why it drains business and stifles innovation.

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