The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama's controversial former pastor, said in a letter obtained by The Associated Press that he is "toxic" to the Obama administration and that the president "threw me under the bus."
In his strongest language to date about the administration's 2-year-old rift with the Chicago pastor, Wright told a group raising money for African relief that his pleas to release frozen funds for use in earthquake-ravaged Haiti would likely be ignored.
"No one in the Obama administration will respond to me, listen to me, talk to me or read anything that I write to them. I am 'toxic' in terms of the Obama administration," Wright wrote the president of Africa 6000 International earlier this year.
"I am 'radioactive,' Sir. When Obama threw me under the bus, he threw me under the bus literally!" he wrote. "Any advice that I offer is going to be taken as something to be avoided. Please understand that!"
At the National Review health care blog, I try to follow a reference in the health care law to a provision of the law that isn't there. The short of it is: if you don't want to have a policy that covers abortion, it may be harder to find among the public options. Oh yeah, there's still a public option.
In another in its long line of unconstitutional special interest bills, the Obamacrat Congress is looking to shove through a bill that would force unionism on public safety employees. Donna Martinez has a good story on this on CJ today.
North Carolina statute forbids public sector bargaining, but the bill (championed by none other than Harry Reid) would override that and mandate collective bargaining for police and fire fighters. This bill has been kicking around Congress for a long time, and is nothing than a political favor to police and fire fighter unions that would haul in more dues money.
The problem is not just that this is bad policy that will raise costs with no benefit to anyone other than union officials (and then their political allies). It's unconstitutional. Nothing in Article I, Section 8 remotely gives Congress authority to dictate to states and localities how they will handle employment. The Tenth Amendment specifically provides that powers not given to the federal government are reserves to the states or the people. This falls into that category. It's another instance of trampling upon federalism.
Sen. A.B. Swindell, D-Nash and one of the Senate's chief budget writers, said the proposal would allow districts to require employees to take up to two days off without pay.
The rules for taking a furlough are not entirely clear. From what I gather, teachers cannot take a furlough day on any school day (obviously), protected in-service day, or early release day. As it now stands, many teachers cannot find viable furlough days.
By the way, the furlough is a pay cut. Call it a pay cut.
The solution? Eliminate the last, unproductive week of school. Students are taking their EOG and EOC tests this week. In most traditional schools, the three or so weeks after testing are cinematic festivals.
The N.C. Court of Appeals has thrown out a lower-court ruling in a product liability case involving Ford. The trial court had ruled in Ford's favor and against the representatives of children injured in a 2003 car crash in Mecklenburg County. The dispute centered on who bore responsibility for injuries linked to the seatbelts the children used in the backseat of a Ford Taurus.
While a three-judge panel agreed on the outcome of the case, which will allow the children to pursue their claims against Ford, at least one judge had concerns about the ruling. Judge Jim Wynn wrote in a concurring opinion:
Here the language of the statute is clear and we are duty-bound to follow the law as written. Nonetheless, while I concur with the majority in following the clear language of the statute, I do so mindful that the statutory language appears inconsistent with general principles of negligence, modification defenses in all other states, and possibly even the intent of our legislature itself.
A unanimous three-judge panel vacated a lower-court ruling in a dispute between the N.C. Department of Transportation and the owner of a 188-acre property near High Rock Lake in Davidson County that's slated for development.
A unanimous three-judge panel affirmed a lower-court ruling in favor of the City of Raleigh in a dispute involving a woman injured while crossing a downtown street.
Appellate panels affirmed two lower-court rulings and reversed two others involved satellite-based monitoring of offenders convicted of sex crimes.
That's the dilemma Republicans in the U.S. Senate face when it comes to President Obama's latest Supreme Court nominee. Byron Yorkdissects the situation for the Washington Examiner.
York highlights a couple of positive statements supporting the qualifications of nominee Elena Kagan. The sources of those statements? Former Whitewater special counsel Kenneth Starr and conservative jurist Miguel Estrada.
Today, the conservative expressions of support for Kagan have disappointed a number of Republicans who want a shootout over the nomination. They fully expect Democrats to cite that support ("Even Ken Starr says ...") over and over again during Kagan's confirmation hearings.
But the bigger problem conservatives see is that the pro-Kagan statements put Republicans at a disadvantage before the confirmation even begins. "What Miguel and Ken are trying to demonstrate is that the president deserves to have his nominees confirmed as long as they are qualified," says one GOP Senate aide. "The problem is the Democrats don't do that, and so you unilaterally disarm."
Indeed, among Republicans "unilateral disarmament" has become shorthand for the divide between two competing ways of approaching the Kagan nomination. "This debate is the people who have a traditional way of looking at these procedural questions -- 'This is the way it's been done and this is the way to do it' -- versus the people who say the Democrats have changed the rules and we should respond in kind," the aide says.
Michael Barone turns his attention today to the hotly contested Florida Senate race. Here's a highlight from his brief contribution to the Washington Examiner:
Two weeks ago Florida Governor Charlie Crist’s decision to run for the Senate as an Independent rather than in the Republican primary looked like a winner. Pollster Scott Rasmussen showed him leading Republican Marco Rubio 38%-34%, with 17% for Democrat Kendrick Meek. Now Rasmussen's latest numbers look different: Rubio leads with 39% to 31% for Crist and 18% for Meek. Crist was slightly ahead of Meek among Democratic voters two weeks ago; now he trails among them. This despite the fact that Crist’s job approval is a positive 57%-42% among all voters—numbers many other governors would be delighted to have.
The Senate budget provides $15,000,000 in nonrecurring funding to "extend the Student Diagnostic Pilot program an additional year in the existing 40 pilot schools. Additional funding will expand the pilot program to additional school sites while also supporting the training needed for teachers to properly implement the program." (Emphasis added)
Expand the pilot program, i.e., give more teachers handheld devices and handheld devices training? Really? How did teachers survive before the invention of handheld devices, anyway?
The Race to the Top federal grant competition plays a big role in this. Diagnostic evaluation was one of the centerpieces of North Carolina's first application and, likewise, will be front-and-center in the second application for federal funds.
The state cannot appear to be pulling state funding from this so-called key educational reform, so I would not be surprised to see the House include it in their education budget.
The Senate rolled out their budget last night at the 7:00 session. Full Appropriations Committee will begin discussion of the bill this afternoon at 1:00, giving the Senators and staff 18 hours to review the 169 page, $20.6 B budget before the meeting. After a late night review, here are some things that jumped out at me:
Reduces money to secondary road construction by $170,627
while increasing funding for Administration of the Highway Trust Fund by
$371.520 (almost double).
Driver’s Ed restoration after a continuation review: $32M. Shouldn’t this be a fee paid to cover?
DMV reduces funds for maintenance of the State’s highway
infrastructure ($7,709,150) while increasing funds for short line railroads by
$2M and maintains funding for the Ferry division with $11,349,869. Priorities, people.
Adds 291 full time employees with most of
these in Corrections to staff Central Prison Hospital and Mental Health
Facility and to staff hospital and mental health facility at the Woman’s
prison. Eliminates 82 vacant positions.
Grossly under funds the Rainy Day Fund with $5 M,
contributions to State Health Plan with $276 M and State Retirement System $180 M
Cuts Victim’s Compensation Fund by $1.3 M while increasing mental health and hospital care
to prisoners by almost $1B and increases education programs for
prisoners by $2.4 M
Has the economy helped eliminate crime? Youth Development Centers have seen a
decline in commitments, (i-7),
Division of Prisons’ new admissions are down (I-9),and actual
expenditures for victim’s compensation is down from last year (I-14)
Increases fee to rent the three state aquariums for special
events instead of using General Funds.
Dept of Commerce would charge fees for brochure space in
funding for mosquito and tick management programs by
Eliminates Medicaid funding ($125,148) for breast reduction,
breast lift, panniculectomy (removes hanging fat and skin, typically after
massive weight loss) and surgery for severe obesity.
Reduces funding for Smart Start by $10 M but still funds it at $183 M
Expects to realize $6 M in Child Development Division
savings through better management and eliminating fraud and inaccurate
payments. Why weren't we doing this before?
Joe, Terry and i will have additional comments over the course of the budget discussion and votes. The second reading vote is scheduled for tomorrow, third on Thursday. Check back here and follow us on http://twitter.com/JohnLockeNC and TweetNCGA
The annexation bill that does nothing and may even be worse
than current law, House Bill 524 was introduced in the Senate last night and
promptly sent to the Senate Rules Committee a.k.a. bill graveyard.
The Senate continues Gov. Bev Perdue's gimmick-based budgeting, but on a slightly smaller scale. It only expands the stimulus-packed budget by $200 million over fiscal year 2010's budget. General Fund and stimulus spending combined equal $20.6 billion. Total appropriations from all sources will again be around $50 billion.
Spending also gets unloaded onto a number of other funds you never knew existed, like the Mercury Pollution Prevention Fund, the Telecommunications Relay Trust Fund, the Solid Waste Management Trust Fund, and the Natural Heritage Trust Fund.
The Senate does acknowledge the loss of revenue from the temporary repeal of the death tax instead of trying to hide it in the Savings Reserve Account. But the Senate budget also includes roughly $50 million in corporate welfare payments tax carve-outs ($10 million for a bill to be named later).
Whatever good ideas there are specific program savings pale in comparison to the utter irresponsibility of adding fuel to next year's fiscal bonfire.