The Locker Room

June 04, 2008

Messianic Mad Lib

Posted by Jon Sanders at 10:55 PM

Since this is starting to become a familiar refrain from He Who Controls the Sea, I figure we might as well have fun with it:


1. Important member of a political campaign
2. Full name
3. Disreputable occurrence
4. City
5. One-word version of number 3
6. Same name as number 2
7. Restatement of number 3
8. Politician's red herring

Barack Obama issued a statement Wednesday responding after former 1. fundraiser 2. Tony Rezko 3. was found guilty on 16 counts in his corruption trial in 4. Chicago. ...

Obama: “I’m saddened by today’s 5. verdict. This isn’t the 6. Tony Rezko I knew, but now he has been 7. convicted by a jury on multiple charges that once again shine a spotlight on the need for 8. reform.

Frankly, I'm surprised that the Mad Lib–writer didn't opt for "universal healthcare" for number 8; perhaps the prompt should have been "Euphemism for socialist medicine."

I, for example, might have chosen a retro-May edition:

Barack Obama issued a statement Wednesday responding after former 1. campaign advisor and mentor 2. Rev. Jeremiah Wright 3. was shown in yet another profanity-ridden, racially hate-filled sermon in 4. Chicago. ...

Obama: “I’m saddened by today’s 5. tirade. This isn’t the 6. Rev. Jeremiah Wright I knew, but now he has been 7. shown on YouTube going racist-bonkers behind the pulpit multiple times that once again shine a spotlight on the need for 8. universal healthcare instead of dwelling in the past Sunday at Trinity Church.

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Rally for annexation moratorium

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 5:29 PM

Forced annexation foes made their case this afternoon for a one-year moratorium on the practice. Watch the entire event (33:26) by clicking play below. 

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Promising news on the entanglement front

Posted by John Hood at 4:48 PM

Although I don't agree that the risk is large enough to justify opposition to school-choice legislation, some free-marketeers properly express concern that voucher programs or even some kinds of tax credits could serve as an invitation to state governments to increase costly and counterproductive regulation of private education.

I happened to be looking today at a new report from the Friedman Foundation that ranks the 50 states according to how onerously they regulate private schools. North Carolina gets a poor grade (D), not that this should surprise anyone. We ought to be used to bad national marks by now.

What's interesting, though, is that there appears to be no correlation between government aid to private schools and the regulatory burden. Of the top five choice states in the nation — places where voucher or tax credit programs are large enough to enroll tens of thousands of students — only Pennsylvania gets a truly bad grade, a D, in private-school regulation. School-choice pioneers such as Wisconsin (A-), Arizona (A-), and Florida (A) have some of the least-regulated private-school markets in the country. Ohio comes in roughly in the middle at C-.

That's not to say that the potential risks of entangling private schools and the government aren't real, and worth close attention. It's just to say that with close attention by private educators, choice activists, and like-minded policymakers, would-be regulators can be rebuffed.

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The Oil Investment Boom

Posted by Dr. Karen Y. Palasek at 4:15 PM

Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., member of the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal and writer of the weekly column Business World, comments with optimism today on the consequences of a $135 per barrel price of oil.

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Production location and incentives

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 2:50 PM

Buncombe County commissioners unanimously voted to give $1 million to Borg Warner to expand its turbocharger plant instead of moving it to Mexico.

On the other side of the state, the Duplin Winery has started buying its bottles from a new bottle maker in Pennsylvania instead of importing them from Mexico. High transportation costs as a result of rising gas prices eliminated the Mexican supplier's price advantage, so a factory opened in Pennsylvania. The bottles started out at lower quality and come in a little dirtier, but the cost saving from having a closer vendor makes up for it. All this without a government subsidy.

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Sure sign of a messiah!

Posted by Jon Sanders at 1:48 PM

And He said, "Lo, and behold, for this is the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal."

And the disciples feared exceedingly, and said one to another, "What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?"

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Sorry, Prof. Frink — God already invented the Sarcasm Detector

Posted by Jon Sanders at 1:24 PM

And it's able to withstand the worst that Comic Book Guy can dish out! From the New York Times comes the very special story of the right parahippocampal gyrus.

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What should be the year's big political issue?

Posted by George Leef at 12:25 AM

Professor Mark Thornton argues here that it ought to be the Fed.

The Fed is responsible for economic troubles now and will be responsible for much worse in the future. We ought to ditch it in favor of gold.

Too bad that McCain and Obama are absolutely clueless on this and probably intent on remaining so.

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Do we have to rely on federal student financial aid?

Posted by George Leef at 12:02 AM

In this week's Pope Center Clarion Call guest writer Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale College, discusses his school's approach to federal aid. It doesn't take any. Instead, Hillsdale has established a private and voluntary system that about 44% of its students use.

The federal student aid behemoth was a great mistake. If we hadn't done it, we would instead have a plethora of non-governmental alternatives such as Hillsdale's program.

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Re: Nothing

Posted by Jon Sanders at 11:59 AM

Joe, I love a good reference to Canute. Obama's finale lacked only the sparse, efficient, unwitting comedic elegance of his declaration that "We are the ones we've been waiting for."

When you said, with respect to a particular anti-Canute, "Think of what he'll be able to do if he actually becomes president" — well, that's what Chris "Thrill Up His Leg" Matthews was doing last night:

What a night! I'm getting giggles! It's so exciting here ...

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Re: Nothing

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 11:49 AM


Do you think King Canute might have been more successful if he had learned to sing about spam

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Re: Nothing

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 11:41 AM


I almost drove off the road laughing when I heard that last paragraph of Obama's speech.

...this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.

So before last night the sick have just died and nobody ever found work. Barack Obama accomplished with that one speech what King Canute could not, and can reify John Lennon lyrics - Happy Xmas in June. Think of what he'll be able to do if he actually becomes president.

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Re: Dropout prevention grant idea: pizza parties

Posted by Jon Sanders at 10:52 AM

Terry, if the pizza rewards don't help students with math, only with reading, do you think it would help if they used the pizzas to teach fractions?

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Nothing; cloying, nauseating nothing

Posted by Jon Sanders at 09:33 AM

As for Obama, [John Edwards] says: "Sometimes I want to see more substance under the rhetoric." — The News & Observer, May 6, 2008

(Yes, even John Edwards wonders if there's any there there.)

Students of rhetoric, fellow sufferers, hie thee away from Barack Obama's speech last night, I urge! It is a Drudge Report "flash report" right now, but don't click! For the love of sane humanity, don't click!

Oh, dear. You want highlights? A sip of insipidity? Read on, yon mental masochist:

Millions of voices have been heard/change must come to Washington/listen not to your doubts or your fears but to your greatest hopes and highest aspirations/historic journey/a new and better day/defining moment for our nation/made history/universal health care/transform our energy policy/lift our children out of poverty/need to change Washington/a moment that will define a generation/cannot afford to keep doing what we've been doing/owe our children a better future/owe our country a better future/dream of that future/change/change/failed to create well-paying jobs, or insure our workers, or help Americans afford the skyrocketing cost of college -- policies that have lowered the real incomes of the average American family, widened the gap between Wall Street and Main Street, and left our children with a mountain of debt/spend billions of dollars a month on a war that isn't making the American people any safer/change/Change/a war that should've never been authorized and never been waged/common threats of the 21st century -- terrorism and nuclear weapons; climate change and poverty; genocide and disease/change/Change/change/Change/struggles facing working families/more tax breaks for big corporations and wealthy CEOs/giving a the middle-class a tax break/investing in our crumbling infrastructure/transforming how we use energy/improving our schools/change/health care/change/addiction to oil from dictators/change/owe it to our children/a college education should not be a privilege for the wealthy few, but the birthright of every American/change/another election that's governed by fear, and innuendo, and division/health insurance/working families with a tax break/this is our moment/policies of the past/new ideas/new direction for the country we love/

The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment -- this was the time -- when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals.

I left that last paragraph as-is because it strikes me as the ne plus ultra of American leftist vapidity, solipsism, vanity, silliness, and self-worshipping excess.

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Dropout prevention grant idea: pizza parties

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 08:55 AM

I am sure you have read my take on the state's dropout prevention grant programs. Life coaches, step dancing, and dropout prevention for toddlers, to name a few of my favorites, received grants last year. Millions of additional dollars will likely be on the way for new dropout prevention programs this year.

Now, research from Stanford University finds that rewards like pizza parties help students learn. From the U.S. News and World Report article:

According to the study, schools that use rewards saw reading achievement improve by 4 percentile points a year. (There was no impact on math achievement.) Margaret Raymond, the author of the report, says the gains are more significant when teachers and administrators work together to support the use of rewards. Successful schools included those that rewarded good grades and good behavior with such gifts as concert tickets and MP3 players.
So, I propose my research-based Chuck E. Chooses to Stay in School program. The Chuck E. Chooses program will employ intense pizza and skee ball experiences to encourage kids to stay in school.

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Not racial bias but ad hoc decision-making

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 08:22 AM

I am not sure what to make of SPARC Academy Charter School's claim that their charter was not renewed by the State Board of Education because of racial bias. I doubt that many members of the State Board of Education are aware of the racial composition of individual charter schools, so I have a hard time believing that race was a factor in their decision-making process.

On the other hand, when it comes to charter schools, the State Board of Education does not have a clear decision-making process. The details of SPARC's lawsuit against the SBE will likely confirm that.

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Latest dispatches from the political trail

Posted by John Hood at 07:46 AM

• The News & Observer's Rob Christensen discusses the potential effects of a close McCain-Obama contest in North Carolina on gubernatorial politics and other races.

• Beverly Perdue and former Democratic rival Richard Moore saw each other Tuesday at a Council of State meeting, but neither commented on it. Gov. Easley, however, said he expected Moore to support Perdue in the fall.

• Senate candidate Kay Hagan will keynote a Democratic awards dinner Thursday night in Craven County. Lieutenant governor candidate Walter Dalton will also appear.

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McCain, Obama, and Clinton all like it …

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:52 AM

… but Newsweek economic guru Robert J. Samuelson offers a forthright assessment of a proposed cap-and-trade program:

The chief political virtue of cap-and-trade — a hugely complex scheme to reduce greenhouse gases — is its very complexity. This allows its environmental supporters to shape public perceptions in ways that are essentially deceptive. Cap-and-trade would act as a tax, but it's not described as a tax. It would directly regulate economic activity, but it is promoted as a "free market" mechanism. Finally, cap-and-trade would quickly become a bonanza for lobbyists, who would scramble to exploit the system for different industries, venture capitalists, localities and others.

The feds are not alone in considering this option: Daren Bakst dissected North Carolina’s pursuit of a cap-and-trade program last fall and followed up with more information this year.

A cost-benefit analysis from the Beacon Hill Institute of Suffolk University in Boston estimated that a cap-and-trade program would cost North Carolina nearly 30,000 jobs, $400 million in investment, $2 billion in real disposable income, and $4 billion in real state GDP by 2011.

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What does that number tell us?

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:49 AM

I’ll let others decry the use of the polar bear as an unwitting pawn in the global warming debate, but I couldn’t let the following Newsweek passage escape further scrutiny.

The magazine’s latest cover story and editor Jon Meacham’s column both note the following:

Since taking office, [the Bush administration] has protected only 60 species — compared with 522 during the Clinton administration, and 231 during the one-term administration of the first President Bush.

What does this fact tell us? How can those numbers have any meaning without context? Before you can assign any value to those figures, you need to know: how many species were offered “protection” before the elder Bush entered office; and for how many species are advocates now seeking protection?

If I’m trying to complete a 50-state coin collection, and I’m building on the work of someone who collected the first 40, the fact that I’ve collected only eight does not constitute a “dismal” record.

The numbers discussion also distracts from the real problems associated with the Endangered Species Act itself, as identified for Carolina Journal Radio by Rick Stroup.

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Wal-Mart’s true value to a community

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:45 AM

It seems that Wal-Mart is increasingly coming under fire from a different perspective than the one that fueled attacks in years past.

Newsweek describes in its latest issue complaints that Wal-Mart has strayed too far from the premise that offered true value to the communities that call Wal-Mart stores home:

"People shop at Wal-Mart because of low prices, not because the company is politically correct…."

Economist Richard Vedder has chronicled Wal-Mart’s importance in providing low-cost options to families across the country. He described the company’s benefits for Carolina Journal Radio and for the John Locke Foundation’s Shaftesbury Society. (Watch the entire presentation here.)

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Today's Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:40 AM

Today's Carolina Journal Online exclusive features David Bass' report on the barriers to increasing water supply in North Carolina.

John Hood's Daily Journal examines the facts of teacher pay, including salaries of community college instructors.

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