The Locker Room

June 17, 2010

Hmm...Who's in bed with big energy?

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 9:11 PM

Did anyone notice that after pointing out that there is a liability cap of a $75 million and that that amount is nowhere near enough to cover the cost of the Gulf disaster, Obama did not propose lifting the cap going forward? Instead he proposed the BP backed, Shell backed, GE backed, Duke Power backed cap and trade bill.


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Why I am not a Republican--reason number 2010

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 8:53 PM

Under intense pressure from the spineless Republican leadership, all of whom deserve to lose in November, Sen. Joe Burton has retracted his apology to BP for the president's total disregard for the rule of law in shaking BP down for $20 billion. Picture this, the leadership of BP sitting a room with the President and the Attorney General, who is threatening them with criminal charges that could land them in jail, "asking" these BP leaders to fork over $20 billion dollars of their shareholders money to the US government. No, that's not a shakedown, just ask Tony Soprano.

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Today's visitors at the U.S. Courthouse ...

Posted by Rick Henderson at 4:29 PM

... include former Easley administration Commerce Secretary Jim Fain and former Easley administration Transportation Secretary Lyndo Tippett.

More here.

And for Carolina Journal's archive of all things Easley, click on the link. And read on.

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Re: Charlotte Observer and Etheridge

Posted by George Leef at 3:38 PM

The Observer's writer makes great use of red herrings -- the supposedly bad behavior of the "punks" and Tom Fetzer's desire to get the most mileage out of the incident -- in an effort to take the focus off Etheridge's outburst.

What's interesting is the cause of that outburst. Etheridge is rightfully worried that his unwavering support for the Obama administration's unpopular agenda of politicizing everything it can, spending as if resources were free, and trampling on the rule of law is making him vulnerable. He blew a gasket when asked about it. Of course, he would not have reacted as he did if the questioners had asked something like, "Do you approve of the president's position that he'll hold BP accountable?"

Voters need to focus on Etheridge's record. That's what ought to sink him, not his temper tantrum.

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Teachers and charter schools

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 3:25 PM

Mark Binker questions the ethics of Eddie Goodall serving as a state senator while also president of the North Carolina Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Goodall offered an amendment to eliminate the cap on charter schools to a bill to create co-op high schools. The co-ops "shall have the same exemptions from statutes and rules as charter schools operating under Part 6A of this Article, other than those pertaining to personnel," so the charter amendment fit the seeming intent of the law. Goodall has long supported removing the cap on charter schools, so it fits with his record.

He has a new job, though, and that raises questions. I can understand about the appearance of a conflict of interest, but Bob Phillips of Common Cause made an utterly fatuous comparison:

It’s not a like a teacher who would serve in the legislature and they would vote for the education budget that benefits everyone. This is a little bit more focused.

Phillips is right that Goodall is not like a politically active member of the NCAE. But the idea that voting for the education budget "benefits everyone" is absurd on its face. If the education budget really did benefit everyone, charter school lotteries would not matter, there would not be dozens of applicants for available seats in the charter schools that do exist, and the top high school in North Carolina again would not be Raleigh Charter High School.

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Economic incentive bill passes

Posted by Becki Gray at 2:48 PM

This afternoon the House took up HB1973- economic incentives on steroids. In short, $300 million in taxpayer money will go to targeted businesses with over half subsidizing the film industry.  The bill was passed 76 to 28.

You can read all about the debate at

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Poll: After wrist-grip video, Etheridge trails his GOP opponent

Posted by David N. Bass at 2:23 PM

A new Civitas Institute flash poll finds that U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge, D-2nd, is trailing his Republican opponent by 1 percentage point:

According to the poll of 400 registered voters in North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional district, Ellmers leads Etheridge 39 percent to 38 percent. Twelve percent said they would vote for Libertarian Tom Rose and 11 percent said they were undecided.

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A lesson for the Charlotte Observer

Posted by David N. Bass at 1:55 PM

While The Charlotte Observer is filling the role of apologist for Bob Etheridge, The Gaston Gazette gets it right on. The Observer's editorial page should pay attention:

The response by Etheridge to a rather innocuous question posed on a city sidewalk is not only inexcusable but puzzling. Nothing in his history of public service indicates a penchant for such histrionics. And even though the questioner should have identified himself as any professional or ethical journalist would, the proper response by an elected official would be to either answer the question or offer a polite wave and keep on walking, as politicians have done for decades.

That Etheridge took the worst possible course may be an indicator that the toxic atmosphere in Washington is continuing to reach new levels. In his apology on Monday, Etheridge said he has always tried to be respectful of all points of view but added that, “No matter how intrusive and partisan our politics can become, this does not justify a poor response. I have and I will always work to promote a civil public discourse.”

Ultimately, actions speak louder than words, Congressman.

The Observer should have deep-sixed its own editorial and reprinted this one. The purpose was never to be fair, though, but to shill for a mainstay of North Carolina's Democratic establishment.

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New Carolina Journal Online exclusive

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 1:45 PM

The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Jim Stegall's report on the State Board of Education's plans for dealing with a Moore County charter school it has tried to close.

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Charlotte Observer shills for Etheridge

Posted by David N. Bass at 12:50 AM

The Charlotte Observer's editorial page is doing its best to play the role of tough, independent watchdog in the Bob Etheridge melodrama. But the editorial comes off as nothing more than a defense of the seven-termer's clearly inappripriate behavior.

Here are the telling paragraphs:

It's tempting to excuse Etheridge for at least three reasons: 1) He obviously walked into a booby trap, set by a couple of punks; 2) It's not like he punched them, or spilled millions of gallons of oil, or even cursed; and 3) He apologized unreservedly.

All that is true and we don't want to make too much of this episode. (Like N.C. Republican Chairman Tom Fetzer is doing. He wants Capitol Hill police to investigate the incident. What's to investigate? The whole thing played out on heavily-edited video. Perhaps Fetzer could investigate the main unanswered questions: Who were the young cameramen and who put them up to this stunt?)

A booby trap? A stunt? Punks? The unidentified "ambushers" asked Etheridge whether he supported the Obama administration's agenda. It's a simple question. How — even in the demented world of liberal journalism — could that be construed as a booby trap or a stunt?

More to the point, the Observer would no doubt be inflamed with righteous indignation were the tables turned and the cameramen the ones assaulting Etheridge. The newspaper would gleefully connect them to the Tea Party movement and declare the incident an example of anti-government zealotry.

But since Etheridge was the one doing the assaulting, the editorial page treats him with kid gloves. Pathetic doesn't even begin to describe it.

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Update on Hagan and collective bargaining

Posted by Rick Henderson at 12:48 AM

Sam Hieb of Piedmont Publius reposted yesterday's entry about a somewhat confusing letter Sen. Kay Hagan sent to a CJ-reading constituent asking her position on S. 3194, a bill that would overturn North Carolina's ban on collective bargaining by public employees.

Check out the comments. Greensboro News & Record editorial writer Doug Clark joined in to note that Hagan made her opposition both to the bill and to any move to bring the bill to the floor without 60 yes votes (aka cloture) on May 25, the day after Hagan responded to the CJ reader.

Glad Hagan has cleared that up. And as Clark wrote, she should be held accountable for that position: no on passage, no on cloture.

The Interwebs are awesome.

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Video poker action at the General Assembly

Posted by Becki Gray at 12:35 AM

You can find reports on the Judiciary I Committee debate, floor discussion, and press conference at

Here's a photo of Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight discussing video poker at a news conference after session.

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GOP chairman urges Perdue to testify under oath, announces Freedom of Information request, highlights Swain County election complaint

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 12:19 AM

State Republican Party Chairman Tom Fetzer used his latest news conference to call on Gov. Beverly Perdue to testify under oath about questions surrounding her campaign finances.

Fetzer also announced a Freedom of Information request filed in connection with the State Board of Elections' investigation into campaign donations to Perdue and to Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight.

Plus he allowed Mike Clampett of Swain County to discuss a complaint against his local elections board.

Click play below to view the 29:35 briefing.

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The Moocher Index

Posted by George Leef at 12:02 AM

Cato's Daniel Mitchell has come up with an interesting analysis, which endeavors to find out how many non-poor people are receiving government income transfers in a state. He calls it the Moocher Index.

The most moocher-plagued state turns out (by quite a ways) to be Vermont. The least is Nevada. North Carolina is a bit less than average in moocherism.

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Re: Hagan fer it or agin it?

Posted by George Leef at 10:41 AM

Today's Wall Street Journal has an article on the bill in question.

It's more clear than Hagan's evasive letter.

But she says that she wants to know how NC residents feel. OK, listen up.

This legislation is an affront to the Constitution. Nothing in it says that Congress has the power to dictate personnel policies to the states. Federalism has been dying the death of a thousand cuts for a long time. This is a slash from a machete.

Secondly, putting the Constitution aside (as Senator Hagan is comfortable doing; she voted for Obamacare), this is bad policy. Collective bargaining for government employees leads to rising costs and decreasing efficiency.

No doubt Kay Hagan is looking at instances like the union-led (but unsuccessful) effort to teach Senator Blanche Lincoln a lesson and the threat of a third-party candidate to oppose Larry Kissel. She wants to stay on the good side of Big Labor. It's impossible to do that and at the same time stay on the good side of taxpayers and constitutionalists.

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D'Annunzio to talk show host: 'There's a special place in hell for people like you'

Posted by David N. Bass at 09:53 AM

Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, Tim D'Annunzio pulls another one — this time telling a talk show host in Charlotte "you're probably going to hell someday for doing this."

It's political theater par excellence. The Charlotte Observer has the latest, which includes D'Annunzio essentially admitting that he's finished and will probably vote for his opponent, Harold Johnson, in the fall (emphasis mine):

Deflated by new polling numbers and sagging support, Republican Tim D'Annunzio says it would "take a miracle" for him to beat Harold Johnson in Tuesday's 8th District runoff.

His comments to the Observer came after a fiery radio interview Wednesday in which he told WBT's Keith Larson that "there's a special place in hell for people like you."

So contentious - and bizarre - was the exchange that Larson called D'Annunzio "a delusional, deranged human being" and still the interview roared on.


A survey released Wednesday by Public Policy Polling showed Johnson, a former TV sportscaster, leads D'Annunzio 49 percent to 39percent. On Tuesday the Democratic-leaning firm released results showing Kissell would face a tough battle against Johnson but enjoys a wide margin over D'Annunzio.

D'Annunzio, who led the May 4 primary, told the Observer those figures are consistent with his own polls, which show him trailing by double digits.

"As you know, that's unrecoverable," he said.

"There's still an outside shot that turnout will make a difference, that there's some silent, unpolled group out there that will show up and make a difference. It'll take a miracle."

He went so far as to say he'll "probably vote" for Johnson in November.

"The Republicans," he said, "will at least partially stop this forward movement of socialism."


He said he went on Larson's show Wednesday morning to deflect the attacks.

"Of course it didn't go very well, as you probably heard," he said.

That might be an understatement.

D'Annunzio began what would be an hour and 15 minutes of radio theater by accusing Larson of being the narrator in Johnson's commercials.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Larson replied.

"What you do is you use personal attacks just the way Harold does," D'Annunzio said. "You do his dirty work and then you sit there and deny it."

"So this is your congressional campaign now?" Larson said. "Is this the way you're trying to pull your sagging butt from behind Harold Johnson? ... Do you have any sense of how delusional and wild-eyed crazy you sound?"

D'Annunzio fired back: "If we let demented people like you choose politicians, we'll have dunces and political hacks."

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Insightful budget comments in the Winston-Salem Journal

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 09:43 AM

My column on the state spending disaster ran yesterday and is now online. Be sure to comment.

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Latest dispatches from the campaign trail

Posted by David N. Bass at 09:23 AM

  • GOP rivals in the 13th Congressional District argue over credentials.

  • WCCB-TV in Charlotte has a good video report on the Tim D'Annunzio, Harold Johnson runoff in the 8th Congressional District.

  • In video, Republican Bill Randall, congressional candidate in the 13th, suggests the feds and BP caused the oil spill on purpose.

  • Congressman Heath Shuler, D-11th, is polling under 50 percent. His GOP opponent, Jeff Miller, is at 34 percent compared to Shuler's 46 percent.

  • The left-leaning Public Policy Polling says the Vitter, Burr U.S. Senate seats are the most vulnerable to Democratic challengers this year.

  • N.C. GOP Chairman Tom Fetzer calls for an investigation into the Bob Etheridge attack incident.

  • More from PPP: Harold Johnson is favored in the 8th Congressional District runoff.

  • Democrat Me Watt of N.C.'s 12th Congressional District is being investigated over fundraisers held close to financial reform vote.

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Not just incompetent, but dishonest as well

Posted by George Leef at 08:32 AM

The lead editorial in today's Wall Street Journal explores another ugly facet of the Obama administration, namely its penchant for dishonesty. The case in point is the use of the names of a number of drilling experts who the White House claimed were in support of its drilling moratorium. In fact, they were not asked about the wisdom of such a moratorium and have said forthrightly that they oppose it. Using their names was flagrantly dishonest.

Oh, but what's a little thing like intellectual honesty when you have ideas that will save the world?

The White House propaganda team is going to have to work overtime to figure out how to wiggle out of this. Americans have some tolerance for bungling, but not much at all for lying.

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The burden of excessive government spending

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:53 AM

If you enjoyed the regular video presentations from Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute, you might like the video below from student Kelly McDonough of American University, who explores the impact of deficits, debt, and unfunded liabilities on future generations.

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If Arizona’s new immigration measure is so bad …

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:48 AM

Karl Rove wonders how federal policy stacks up against it. He relates an interesting answer in the latest Newsweek:

The Arizona law is so narrowly drawn that it’s hard to see how it will affect many people. Those whom it does concern will already have been stopped, detained, or arrested for other lawful purposes. Given Obama’s hyperventilation about the law, it’s fair to ask: what is Washington’s standard for allowing federal law enforcement to ask about immigration status?

When my office put this question to Customs and Border Protection (CPB), we were pointed to “Securing America’s Borders at Ports of Entry,” a document from the CBP’s Office of Field Operations. It says that before asking a person’s immigration status, “CBP personnel must effectively blend their own observational techniques and interviewing abilities with situational awareness.” This is a lower, less-precise standard than the Arizona law. So if the president considers the Arizona law racist, what does he consider the federal standard? If Obama believes the strict Arizona conditions are likely to lead to racial profiling, what about federal guidelines his administration now enforces?

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Newsweek economics writer claims states’ fiscal frugality will hurt the economy

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:47 AM

Daniel Gross of Newsweek worries that state legislatures — which cannot follow their federal counterparts’ lead in running up Keynesian-style budget deficits — will hurt the economy:

[S]tate and local governments slashed 22,000 jobs in May. “The actions that states are taking because of the recession and their balanced-budget requirements are slowing the economy,” said Nicholas Johnson, director of the state fiscal project at CBPP.

It’s difficult to contract your way to growth. The world’s large economies need to run higher deficits in the short term to promote growth and close the gaps later.

Mr. Gross, meet Dr. Roy Cordato. He can help cure you of your Keynesian notions:

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Charter schools are not perfect … and no one claims they are

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:46 AM

Evan Thomas and Pat Wingert throw a little cold water on the charter school parade in their latest article for Newsweek. They note that a Stanford study shows 17 percent of charters perform significantly better than traditional public schools, while 37 percent produce academic results worse than traditional public schools.

I’ll leave analysis of the Stanford study to others and assume for this blog entry that the results are accurate. If so, those results don’t necessarily lead in the direction Thomas and Wingert point.

They suggest that these numbers prove charters are no “runaway success story.” OK. If you’ve read Thomas Sowell’s Intellectuals and Society, you might recognize this as an example of a common critique used by the advocates of government-centric solutions: Point out that a policy you oppose is no panacea.

As Sowell notes, this type of critique rebuts an argument that no one has made. Plus the “no panacea” argument avoids the real questions: Is the policy effective given time or cost constraints? Does it work better than other policies?

In this case, important questions to answer include: Do charter schools work better for some students than traditional public schools? Do charter schools permit testing of pedagogical methods that are omitted from traditional public schools?

And here’s a line of questioning Thomas and Wingert ignore completely: Do charter schools provide a better — or at least comparable — education at a lower cost to taxpayers? Does a combination of traditional and charter schools create a bigger bang for the tax buck?

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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:38 AM

The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features David Bass' report about a staff departure from UNC-Chapel Hill's controversial Citizen-Soldier Support Program.

John Hood's Daily Journal reminds voters to judge politicians by what they do, not what they say.

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