The Locker Room

May 30, 2008

Dems Cut Spending When It's Their Money

Posted by Chad Adams at 4:14 PM

The following actually ran as a news story in the Denver Post:

Millions of dollars behind in raising money and unlikely to meet a fast-approaching final deadline, the Denver committee hosting the Democratic National Convention is considering spending cuts.

Now, putting that in perspective, imagine if that same group had the same mentality when it came to spending YOUR money? Let's change some key words and see if this would EVER really happen.

(Billions) of dollars behind in (tax collections) and unlikely to meet a fast-approaching (budget) deadline, the (Democratic led Congress) is considering spending cuts.
It's an entirely different matter when it's THEIR money as opposed to YOUR money.

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Re: ISI's Civic Literacy Test

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 2:34 PM


Richard Brake of ISI discussed this test during a John Locke Foundation Shaftesbury Society presentation. He also shared information with Carolina Journal Radio.

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ISI'S Civic Literacy Test

Posted by Jon Sanders at 1:42 PM

Hat tip: Ed Williams

Go take this test of your knowledge of America's history and institutions. There are sixty multiple-choice questions below. I got 55 out of 60 (91.67 percent) and now am awash in self-recrimination.

The test is based on a report by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute titled "Failing Our Students, Failing America: Holding Colleges Accountable for Teaching America’s History and Institutions."

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National Popular Voting

Posted by Daren Bakst at 1:35 PM

There has been some recent discussion of North Carolina adopting a national popular voting system for President of the United States.  This plan was apparently dead for the short session, but it appears to have a little bit of life.  Next year, I'd expect it to get far more consideration. 

The bill got hurriedly pushed through the Senate last year along party lines (D's for it, R's against it).  It died out in the House.  Given that it already has passed the Senate, anything can happen this short session.  Last year, as I mentioned, it passed the Senate in a mad rush.  The House needs to be on the alert for this misguided legislation.

Here's how I described the proposal more than a year ago in a Carolina Beat:

"If a plan introduced in the legislature gets passed, and it might, North Carolina would make a compact with other states to support the Presidential candidate that receives the most votes in the nation.

This plan, referred to as national popular voting, is a response to the rare situation when the President wins an election despite receiving fewer popular votes than the losing candidate."

Some excerpts:

"The biggest problem with the plan is that it ignores the will of North Carolinians. If every single citizen of North Carolina voted for one candidate, the state would still have to support the opposing candidate if that individual received more national popular votes. This plan should be called the anti-North Carolina popular voting plan...

If such a plan were passed, North Carolina will be letting out-of-state citizens decide the candidate that the state will support in Presidential elections. The legislature will be saying that the voices of North Carolinians don’t matter. It will be a sad day when North Carolinians have to defend their right to have a voice in Presidential elections. Unfortunately, that day has arrived."  


Let's hope this doesn't go anywhere. 

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Re: Well, Terry ...

Posted by Jon Sanders at 1:29 PM

Stoops is going to think he just saw that performance live in Little Rock starring yours truly. Nevertheless, I wasn't laughing.

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Re: Well, Terry ...

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 1:10 PM

Was Harvey Korman ever able to keep a straight face when interacting with Tim Conway during a "Carol Burnett Show" bit? If so, I can't remember it.

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Legislature and Annexation Abuse

Posted by Daren Bakst at 12:39 AM

A satellite annexation is a type of voluntary annexation (not involuntary) that permits local governments to gobble up areas that are not contiguous to its borders.

On Wednesday, the House Local Government II Committee is considering an annexation bill that would permit the town of Maggie Valley to satellite annex an area that is beyond the normally required three mile limit. 

This is typical of the legislature, particularly in the area of satellite annexations.  It passes local bills to exempt local governments from restrictions in the annexation law.

Even if the annexation law were amended, the legislature always could create exceptions for local communities whenever it wants.  This is precisely why a constitutional amendment is needed to protect against eminent domain abuse--the legislature would ignore any statutory protections when it benefits their political interests.

A constitutional amendment would prohibit the legislature from ignoring protections from eminent domain abuse--the only way the legislature could get around constitutional protections would be to pass another amendment, which would be very difficult.

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Two good health insurance ideas

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 12:03 AM

North Carolina can look north or south for ways to make health insurance more affordable, and so expand coverage. A bill in New Jersey would allow individuals buy insurance across state lines and a new Florida law allows some insurance policies to skip some of the mandated benefits (although the state isn't perfect).

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Well, Terry Stoops is in the office today, despite

Posted by Jon Sanders at 11:59 AM

this tragic news.

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Probably why John Hood is out of the office today

Posted by Paul Chesser at 11:45 AM

He is grieving.

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Myrick seeks approval for oil exploration off the NC coast

Posted by Jon Sanders at 10:42 AM


U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick wants to drill for oil off the North Carolina coast and she thinks $4.00 per gallon gasoline might encourage approval this year. The Republican said Thursday she wants to overturn a long-standing moratorium on drilling for oil and gas off the Atlantic Coast.

The Charlotte Observer reported Myrick has introduced a bill to give states authority to allow drilling within 100 miles of their coast.

A similar bill passed the House in 2006 but didn't make it through the Senate. Myrick says the sharply increased gas prices improve the chances for approval.

The Division of Coastal Management has a page on the moratorium on offshore drilling that affects North Carolina. Below is pictured the Manteo Exploration Unit:

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Philosophy gets "Lost"

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 09:50 AM

Fans of the TV show “Lost” noticed more than one interesting turn of events during the season finale last night.  For Locker Room readers the most interesting turn was what happened to John Locke.  For the uninitiated, one of the key survivors of the crash of Oceanic 815 is named John Locke.  As the other survivors try to escape the island, Locke decides to stay. In fact, he replaces Ben as the leader of the “Others.” 

Flash-forward about 3 years and the six survivors who escape the island are confronted by death and funeral of a mysterious man named Jeremy Bentham.  In the final scene of the show, the casket is opened and there lies John Locke, the survivor not the philosopher. 

Now the press and the blogosphere are all a buzz about the reason the writers used the names of two philosophers in the series.  Perhaps one of the writers had a course in philosophy in college and the only thing that stuck was the names.  Or perhaps the there is a connection between the philosophy and the meaning of the show. I will leave it to quicker minds than mine to figure this out, but I will tune in next season for the answers.

This is not the first time popular culture crosses paths with philosophy.  I just finished a book of articles by conservative political philosophers who examine the political philosophy in movie "Casablanca ." Political Philosophy Comes To Rick's: Casablanca And American Civic Culture, James F. Pontuso, editor

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"Thou shalt not ask awkward questions"

Posted by Jenna Ashley Robinson at 09:34 AM

Spiked's Mick Hume reviews "The Deniers" by Lawrence Solomon.

A new book shows that some of those labelled ‘the deniers’ of global warming, and depicted as oil-funded crooks, are in fact sensible, respectable scientists. Why have they been made into heretics?

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Public transport bathos

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 09:25 AM

A couple months ago I shared my experience taking the train to work. It wasn't a bad trip, it just cost more and made life more inconvenient than driving.

Cat Warren politely mentions JLF in her op-ed detailing her friend's travails taking the bus from Clayton to Raleigh. Cat never mentions how full the bus is that her friend and fellow NC State women's studies professor Deborah Hooker rides for free with "people who appear poorer than she." They pay $2 per person because they don't work for the state.

Hooker usually takes 25 minutes to drive to work, but needs 20 minutes just to get to her unofficial park & ride facility and get on a bus for a 35-minute trip before transferring to another bus for what should be another 10-minute ride after another wait: "Standard commuting time with a little luck and no traffic tie-ups? About an hour and 20 minutes -- more than three times longer than a car trip."

Warren then compares this experience with her TTA bus ride from Durham (pop. 209,009) to Raleigh that is "always full" and takes a half hour and concludes...not that the number of bus commuters from Clayton (pop. 12,943) to Raleigh is too small to warrant direct service, but that "public transportation in the Triangle, circa 2008" is "uneven, underfunded, [and] cobbled-together."

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Scott Mooneyham on early childhood education

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 08:24 AM

Scott Mooneyham nails it. The state needs to get serious about conducting comprehensive evaluations of early childhood programs like "More at Four" and "Smart Start." He says,

Each year, hundreds of millions of state dollars are spent on preschool and child-care programs in North Carolina. And each year, very little assessment takes place showing exactly what taxpayers are getting for their dollar. ... that initial group of Smart Start attendees have now gone through high school. How hard would it be to examine how well they performed through their school years compared to peers from similar socio-economic backgrounds?
Indeed, the "fade-out effect" is a serious concern. If preschool and child care programs do not produce significant gains in social and cognitive development or those initial gains are not sustained as the children go through school, then these programs are simply a waste of money.

It is worth the time and money to find out how these students fare as they progress through school.

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Environmentalism is the left's leading secular religion

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 07:58 AM

Our AEI friend Steve Hayward posted this quote on the Ashbrook Center's blog.  It is from Princeton professor of physics Freeman Dyson's review of two new books in the New York Review of Books. 

All the books that I have seen about the science and economics of global warming, including the two books under review, miss the main point. The main point is religious rather than scientific. There is a worldwide secular religion which we may call environmentalism, holding that we are stewards of the earth, that despoiling the planet with waste products of our luxurious living is a sin, and that the path of righteousness is to live as frugally as possible. The ethics of environmentalism are being taught to children in kindergartens, schools, and colleges all over the world.

Environmentalism has replaced socialism as the leading secular religion. And the ethics of environmentalism are fundamentally sound. Scientists and economists can agree with Buddhist monks and Christian activists that ruthless destruction of natural habitats is evil and careful preservation of birds and butterflies is good. The worldwide community of environmentalists—most of whom are not scientists—holds the moral high ground, and is guiding human societies toward a hopeful future. Environmentalism, as a religion of hope and respect for nature, is here to stay. This is a religion that we can all share, whether or not we believe that global warming is harmful.

Unfortunately, some members of the environmental movement have also adopted as an article of faith the belief that global warming is the greatest threat to the ecology of our planet. That is one reason why the arguments about global warming have become bitter and passionate. Much of the public has come to believe that anyone who is skeptical about the dangers of global warming is an enemy of the environment. The skeptics now have the difficult task of convincing the public that the opposite is true. Many of the skeptics are passionate environmentalists. They are horrified to see the obsession with global warming distracting public attention from what they see as more serious and more immediate dangers to the planet, including problems of nuclear weaponry, environmental degradation, and social injustice. Whether they turn out to be right or wrong, their arguments on these issues deserve to be heard.


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Bad poetry is good fun

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 07:24 AM

“The Hatemonger’s Quarterly” announced the winners of the Fifth Annual Horrible College-Student Poetry Competition.

Here are a few of my favorite stanzas/lines:

From “sonnet of (equaliteez)”

how R U racist? let me kount teh wayz
U R racist cuz U R (white)
U R racist bai dai n nite,
U R racist cuz U fite
From “My Fluid Country”
When I see the fungual discoloration of my toenails,
I see all of the free people not given a living wage by America.
From “No more salad for me, Mom”
How long – lo! so many years
have i masticated, chewed, gobbled, and munched
Proudly and yes, even arrogantly
murdered my green friends at the salad bar.
From “Vegetarian Predator,” the overall "winner" of the competition
(1) She stands on the quad or
the quad stands on her. They march
They see but they don’t see
all that I see. Why should they?

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This weekend on Carolina Journal Radio

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:49 AM

If you’re trying to find online budget information from a state agency or local government, good luck. The John Locke Foundation recently awarded low government “transparency” grades to government units across North Carolina. Joe Coletti will explain the findings in the next edition of Carolina Journal Radio.

You’ll also hear Chad Adams rebut legislators’ arguments favoring targeted tax incentives, and Roy Cordato will tackle the misguided policy proposals from advocates of “sustainability.”

We’ll hear East Carolina economics professor Gary Zinn discuss his ideas for improving the eastern North Carolina economy, and we’ll learn why the state could soon see a $3.7 million study of North Carolina’s aging population.

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Today's Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:40 AM

This week's Carolina Journal Online Friday interview features Donna Martinez's conversation with Daren Bakst about wind power myths.

Terry Stoops' guest Daily Journal focuses on the General Assembly's support for education policies that have no track record of success. 

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