The Locker Room

August 25, 2010

2010 PDK/Gallup Poll:

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 6:35 PM

According to the Annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools,

Grades assigned to President Obama for his performance in support of public schools are down by 11% since last year, and they’re down whether the respondent was a Democrat, Republican, or an independent.
I suspect that the disappointing Race to the Top program didn't help.

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New Carolina Journal Online exclusive

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 3:50 PM

The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Amanda Vuke's report on the continuing diversion of lottery funds from their stated purpose.

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Property Rights Newsletter, Water Rights, and Alcoa

Posted by Daren Bakst at 3:41 PM

If you care about property rights, you can read my inaugural property rights newsletter and subscribe here.

Here's some of the timely analysis in the newsletter:


In a recent op-ed, Scott Mooneyham writes:

Should a private company that no longer provides jobs here and is not a publicly-regulated utility continue to be allowed to control the waters of a major North Carolina river for another 50 years?

Supporters of Alcoa's re-licensing say the issue is one of property rights. They're right.

The North Carolina constitution makes clear that the waters of the state are the property of the people, not a single company.

My response:

1) Alcoa is not claiming to own the water.

2) Water rights law is poorly developed in this state, but what law does exist makes it clear that property owners have the right to use the water.

3) Where exactly does it say in the Constitution that the water is the property of the people? I must have missed the section of the Constitution saying water isn't the property of a single company.

4) Even if such language existed, "property of the people" does not necessarily mean the water is not available for private use.

5) Mr. Mooneyham suggests that this issue would be different if the company provided jobs or was a public utility. Why would it matter given his logic that nobody except the state should use the water?

Mr. Mooneyham is doing precisely the same thing that many North Carolina policymakers are doing. They see an opportunity to take over someone else's property because they don't like the way it is being used (without any real evidence of problems with its use) and think the state would do a better job of running a hydroelectric dam than Alcoa. This thinking is both arrogant (they assume they know what is for the best) and foolish (thinking the state can possibly do a better job than Alcoa).

Don't be surprised if the state transfers this property to another private entity such as land developers or another utility company. This could be another Kelo-type situation.

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NCICL wins in Buncombe County judicial election case

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 3:12 PM

From the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law:

On Tuesday, the State Board of Elections unanimously agreed with the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law and its client, District Court Judge Marvin Pope, voting to hold two separate elections for the two vacant superior court judge seats in Buncombe county.

Earlier this year, the judicial election process was thrown into uncertainty when one of the candidates for superior court judge, Ms. Kate Dreher, asked the Board to nullify a previously held primary election for one of the superior court judge seats.  Ms. Dreher and SBE legal staff had sought to combine the seats so that both judicial vacancies would be filled using the newly implemented Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) procedure.

Instant Runoff Voting differs from traditional election methods by requiring voters to cast not one vote, but three votes, and to rank order each of the three votes for up to three candidates.  If no candidate wins an outright majority of first place votes, the IRV method implements a complicated mathematical formula to determine the ultimate winner.

NCICL argued that the laws do not permit the use of IRV voting to fill vacancies that occurred prior to the regular primary election process and that two separate elections were required.
The Institute cautioned that nullifying the results of an already concluded primary election and changing the election rules mid-race not only violated state election laws but threatened the candidates’ constitutional rights.

The Board voted unanimously to hold two separate elections for the vacated seats and to use IRV for only the seat vacated after the primary election.

Judge Marvin Pope, will now compete in a special election in November for one of those vacancies.

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Fordham: Charlotte is reform-friendly

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 2:48 PM

From the Thomas B. Fordham Institute website:

This new study from the Fordham Institute tackles a key question: Which of thirty major U.S. cities have cultivated a healthy environment for school reform to flourish (and which have not)? Nine reform-friendly locales surged to the front: New Orleans, Washington D.C., New York City, Denver, Jacksonville, Charlotte, Austin, Houston, and Fort Worth. Trailing far behind were San Jose, San Diego, Albany, Philadelphia, Gary, and Detroit.
The authors of the report concluded,
Charlotte has much going for it. Between its countywide district configuration, strong district leadership, abundant financial capital pipelines, and a weak teachers’ union, it is an appealing destination for some entrepreneurs. But not charter-school entrepreneurs, who should proceed with caution since they’ll have to deal with unsatisfactory state charter laws.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg earned a B grade and ranked 6th out of 26 cities evaluated. It was the only North Carolina school district included in the study.

Obviously, that "countywide district configuration" makes comparisons with city-bound districts difficult.

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Will Breazeale endorses ... drum roll, please ...

Posted by David N. Bass at 2:08 PM

... Not fellow GOP'er Ilario Pantano, but incumbent Democrat Mike McIntyre. There is no better demonstration of the bad blood between Breazeale and Pantano than this.

WECT-TV has the details:

A Republican who once wanted to unseat Congressman Mike McIntyre now says he will endorse him in the November election.

Will Breazeale ran unsuccessfully against McIntyre in 2008.

This past May, Breazeale attempted to run for the seat again by seeking the Republican nomination.

He ran against Ilario Pantano and lost.

Breazeale said in a statement released late Tuesday night that he asked Pantano after the May primary to step down.

"On May 18, 2010, I called for Mr. Pantano to step down as the Republican nominee due to serious character and financial questions that he steadfastly refused to answer before, during, and after the Republican primary."

Breazeale says after watching the first of a series of debates between Pantano and McIntyre, he decided to support the Democratic incumbent.

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State-level health care deregulation would lower costs, produce other benefits

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 2:06 PM

As it becomes clearer and clearer that federal health care reform will not cut costs, states can look for ways to trim costs themselves.

Joseph Coletti's latest John Locke Foundation Policy Report outlines changes that would lower costs, improve quality, increase access, and boost innovation in North Carolina health care.

He offers some examples in the video clip below.

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Picking Winners

Posted by Jenna Ashley Robinson at 1:29 PM

One of last's years finalists for the Pope Center's annual "Spirit of Inquiry" Best Course contest was featured, in today's Wall Street Journal. Peter Feaver, a professor of political science at Duke University, weighed in on the Ground Zero Mosque debate, claiming the controversy "distracts us from the more urgent matter of Pakistan's catastrophic floods."

I'm glad to see that the Pope Center is not the only organization that appreciates Feaver's excellent work.

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Everything you wanted to know about Obama Care....

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 1:06 PM

...but were afraid to ask.  NCPA's John Goodman has done it again. He has produced an unbiased consumer's guide to how the new health care law will impact you and your family. Read the rest and get your copy here.

Fair. Unbiased. Evenhanded. We have produced something that is genuinely unique. It’s a consumer’s guide to how the new health care overhaul works, in a question-and-answer format. You can also get a pamphlet version — ideal for doctors’ offices, clinics, work places and everywhere else that people meet and socialize.

When you read the consumer’s guide, I think you’ll agree with me that it’s the first effort anyone has made to even try to be objective, and that in itself is rather amazing. See if you agree. Give us your comments below the fold.

During the nine-month period leading up to the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), Americans were subjected to more than $200 million worth of TV, radio, newsprint and Internet ads. Almost all of these — pro and con — were pure propaganda.

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taxng to control speach

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 12:52 AM

Today's Freeman features an article by economist William Anderson on the city of Philadelphia's attempt to tax bloggers. It is truly a double whammy--it brings additional funds into the city government while stifling the speech of those who dare criticize the move.

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Insane in the brain

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 12:30 AM

I enjoyed today's "brainy" News & Observer op-ed by Duke researchers Wilkie Wilson and Cynthia Kuhn.

The authors argue that we need to pay more attention to how the brain works and teach children how to keep it healthy. I agree. Let's go a step further.

Schools of education should require prospective teachers, particularly elementary education majors, to enroll in courses that specifically address brain physiology, development, function, and health. General courses in "Psychology of Education" are not good enough.

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As true as ever: 'Government is living too well'

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 11:20 AM

If you look at the basic numbers of Ronald Reagan's victory over Jimmy Carter in the 1980 presidential race, you're bound to see Reagan's win as inevitable. The Republican challenger earned a 10-percentage-point victory over the incumbent Democrat, 8.5 million more votes, and an Electoral College margin of 489 to 49.

Read Craig Shirley's extensive chronicle of the 1980 campaign, though, and you'll realize that Reagan faced no cakewalk — either in the contest for the GOP nomination or in the race with Carter. With 600 pages of text and 100 more of notes, Rendezvous With Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign That Changed America documents virtually every piece of the chaotic contest that led to the Reagan Revolution in Washington.

You might not remember that Carter was surging in the polls and looking like a probable winner when he and Reagan met in Cleveland (Hello, Cleveland!) for their single one-on-one debate — one week before election day.

Those who remember much about that debate likely remember Reagan's famous quip ("There you go again"), Carter's infamous flub ("I had a discussion with my daughter Amy the other day" about nuclear weapons), or Reagan's question to voters: "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"

But I'd like to highlight another section of the debate Shirley addresses in this book:

[Harry Ellis of the Christian Science Monitor] turned to Reagan and the Gipper was primed. He utterly rejected what he characterized as Carter's suggestion "that inflation somehow came upon us like a plague and therefore it's uncontrollable and no one can do anything about it," calling the idea "entirely spurious" and "dangerous." Contrary to Carter's argument, Reagan calmly pointed out, inflation in Ford's last term was at a tolerable 4.8 percent, but by 1980 it was at an annual rate of 12.7 percent, not the 7 percent that the president had argued. Reagan agreed that some new jobs had been created under Carter, "but that can't hide the fact that there are eight million men and women out of work in America today and two million of those lost their jobs in just the last few months." He blasted Carter for saying that to get inflation under control, America would have to accept more joblessness and less productivity.

Reagan laid into the root cause of inflation: out-of-control government spending. He said Carter had blamed a host of other actors for inflation, including OPEC and the Federal Reserve; Carter, Reagan said, "has blamed the lack of productivity on the American people; he has then accused the people of living too well, and that we must share in scarcity, we must sacrifice and get used to doing with less." That would not do for Reagan: "We don't have inflation because the people are living too well. We have inflation because the government is living too well." 

Shirley's book leaves few areas of the 1980 campaign unexamined. If you'd like to read other recent books on Reagan, you'll find short blurbs on good ones here, here, and here.

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John "insidious" influence of money McCain spends $21 large in primary

Posted by Rick Henderson at 10:25 AM

That's right, folks. The architect of the discredited (and, thanks to principled jurists, largely gutted) McCain-Feingold campaign finance law spent $21 million slapping down challenger (and High Point native) J.D. Hayworth in last night's Arizona U.S. Senate primary.

Earlier this year on the Senate floor, McCain railed against the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision striking down much of what's left of his seminal legislation.

Quoting Teddy Roosevelt, McCain said:

There is no enemy of free government more dangerous, and none so insidious, as the corruption of the electorate. If legislators are extorted by any kind of pressure or promise, express or implied, direct or indirect in the way of favor or immunity, than the giving or receiving becomes not only improper, but criminal. All contributions by corporations to any political committee or for any political purpose should be forbidden by law.

And yet, to keep his job, the four-term incumbent spent like a scared politician.

Hayworth did himself no favors, partially after a 2007 infomercial he made urging people to contract with a particular company to collect federal handouts emerged ... and Hayworth said he "regretted" doing them only because he said there was something shady about the company.

McCain's expected to win a fifth term. But he gets a little less "mavericky" all the time.

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Taxes are a sideshow -- we must cut federal spending

Posted by George Leef at 10:14 AM

Cato's Mike Tanner has an excellent and incontestably accurate piece on NRO today, in which he explains why taxes (either higher or lower) can't solve our economic mess. The problem is the gargantuan burden of federal spending. How we pay for it doesn't matter.

Decades of big-government liberalism and big-government conservatism have put America in a terrible mess. How about some politicians apologizing for that?

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Latest dispatches from the campaign trail

Posted by David N. Bass at 09:55 AM

  • U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-5th, heads up a forum giving taxpayers an inside look at the federal budget.

  • Writing for, Brain Walsh takes a look at U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge’s re-election bid. Etheridge faces Republican Renee Ellmers in the 2nd Congressional District.

  • NRO’s Campaign Spot puts Shuler, Kissell, and McIntyre in the “50-50” category for the GOP, and Etheridge in the GOP's “good chance of winning” category.

  • The Laurinburg Exchange reports on Republican hopes of retaking the General Assembly this year.

  • State Sen. Tony Foriest, a Democrat from Alamance County, will hold a town hall forum in Caswell County Thursday.

  • State Rep. Winkie Wilkins, D-Person, is one of the few Democrats who will run unopposed this year after the filing deadline passes.

  • Special Superior Court Judge Cressie Thigpen has been appointed to the N.C. Court of Appeals.

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A devastating critique of American higher education

Posted by George Leef at 09:20 AM

In this week's Pope Center Clarion Call I review the recent book by Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus, Higher Education? The book has been getting a lot of attention -- and deserves it.

To put the authors' case in a nutshell, college and university education in the U.S. costs much more than it needs to and delivers much less education than it should. It's a splendid deal for administrators and tenured professors, but bad for the rest of us who foot the bills and especially students who get little education of lasting value.

Do we have the beginnings of a left-right convergence here? The critique Hacker and Dreifus give echoes themes familiar to those who have read Charles Murray and Thomas Sowell. In fact, Sowell blasts Hacker's book Money in his book Intellectuals and Society, but they're clearly in agreement on the waste and folly of our higher education system.

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Surprise, surprise, surprise

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 09:14 AM

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich's latest Human Events column focuses on some of the more surprising elements of the federal health care reform law:

The more the American people have learned about Obamacare since it was passed the more they dislike it. And with good reason. Here is a list of some recent surprises buried in the 2,300 pages of legislation.

1.    Beginning in January 2012, businesses are required to file with the IRS for every business to business transaction over $600. This includes all transactions, not just health based ones.  (Section 9006).

2.    A new program (the Community Living Assistance Program) was established that is woefully underfunded by the bill and will eventually require much more money than allocated.  (Section 8002).

3.    As of January 2014, states must expand Medicaid coverage to all individuals under the age of 64 with family incomes at or below 133% of the federal poverty level. States already do not have the resources to provide adequate Medicaid coverage and this law will add millions more to Medicaid rolls. (Section 2001, as modified by 10201 and H.R. 4872; Sec. 1004 and 1201).

4.    Beginning January 2011, individuals are not allowed to use Flexible Savings Accounts, Health Reimbursement Accounts, and Health Savings Accounts to purchase over-the-counter medicines. The law also caps annual contributions at $2,500, down from $5,000. Many Americans (especially younger ones in relatively good health) rely on FSAs, HRAs, and HSAs to help pay for healthcare. This law makes these consumer-oriented tools that encourage smart shopping less convenient and provides a perverse incentive for individuals to buy expensive prescription medicine instead of over-the-counter alternatives.  (Section 9003).

5.    Verizon, AT&T, Caterpillar and other companies publicly acknowledged that the tax structure of the new law actually encourages companies to stop providing coverage for their employees beginning in 2014. (Section 1003).

Furthermore, despite promises from President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats that the bill would not add a dime to the deficit, the most recent CBO study confirms that the projected deficit has increased by $71 billion due to newly enacted legislation (namely healthcare reform).

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Barone examines the impact of redistricting

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 09:08 AM

Michael Barone's latest Washington Examiner column explores the potential impact of redistricting linked to the 2010 census:

Eighteen months ago it looked like Democrats were going to profit from redistricting. An optimistic scenario for Democrats, extrapolating from the 2008 election results, was that if they could gain three governorships and three state senates and otherwise hold what they had, they would control redistricting in 14 states with more than five districts, including California, New York, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina and New Jersey.

Those states are projected to have 195 districts in the House elected in 2012. Clever redistricting could move between one and two dozen into the Democratic column. That would have been the Democrats' best redistricting cycle since the one following the 1980 census.

But that scenario now is the stuff of dreams. Democrats are threatened with losing many governorships and legislative chambers, and their chances of taking over many from the Republicans look dismal.

Instead, the optimistic scenario belongs to the Republicans. If they hold what they have and capture a few governorships (Ohio, Tennessee, Wisconsin) and a few legislative chambers (the Houses in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania and both houses in Wisconsin), they will control redistricting in 11 states with more than five House seats, including Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas. Those states are projected to have 178 House seats.

This would be an even better redistricting cycle for Republicans than the one following the 2000 census, which was their best in 50 years. It could move one to two dozen House seats into the Republican column.

The John Locke Foundation welcomes Michael Barone to Raleigh next month for a Headliner luncheon featuring a panel discussion about the 2010 elections.

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In case you missed him ...

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:02 AM

John Hood offered News 14 Carolina his assessment of the State Board of Elections’ decision to fine Gov. Beverly Perdue’s campaign.

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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:54 AM

The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features David Bass' report on the $8.7 million bill for running N.C. congressional offices in late 2009 and early 2010.

John Hood's Daily Journal offers some clues for distinguishing the political Left and Right.

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