The Locker Room

August 5, 2010

Butterfield says he won't return Rangel cash

Posted by David N. Bass at 4:15 PM

I didn't have to wait long for an answer to my question. The Hill reports that U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-1st, says he won't return $3,000 in campaign donations from Charlie Rangel:

Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) has no plans to give up the $3,000 in donations he took from embattled Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) even though he sits on the jury considering evidence that the former Ways and Means Committee chairman broke ethics rules.

Butterfield is one of a bipartisan group of eight members on the ethics committee who will weigh the allegations against Rangel.


In an e-mail, Butterfield spokesman Ken Willis said the former judge and member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) “has no plans to return the donations.”

Melanie Sloan, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said she usually is not a fan of returning donations from members who find themselves in hot water. In this case, however, she thinks Butterfield should give back the money or donate it to charity.

“We would never have someone on a regular jury who has received money from a defendant,” she said.

Butterfield will sit in judgment of both Rangel and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who is likewise opting for a public trial to fight an ethics charge leveled against her. Butterfield was appointed to adjudicatory committees that will weigh the evidence against both lawmakers.

Butterfield has not received campaign contributions from Waters over the last three election cycles, according to Federal Elections Commission reports.

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Absent-minded professors and coked-up stimulus monkeys

Posted by Rick Henderson at 11:05 AM

It's hardly surprising, as the News & Observer reported today, that the North Carolina beneficiaries of the eight "stimulus" grants highlighted in a report from Sens. John McCain and Tom Coburn would defend their projects. Consider:

Anne McLaughlin, an assistant professor of psychology at N.C. State University who is overseeing a four-year study on the benefits of video games for the elderly. "Me? Really? Nationally? I mean, who doesn't want to help older adults maintain their independence?"

Milton Friedman launched a robust debate over the use of taxpayer funding to underwrite even basic research 30 years ago, when he wrote "Why Government Should Not Fund Science."

But set that aside for now. Let's stipulate that public funding of research is a worthwhile endeavor, and that the grants paid for passed peer review and deserved support.

They aren't stimulus projects. They would not satisfy the most basic definition of a stimulus program, as, for example, this one from the University of Michigan's online economics dictionary:

Economic stimulus: A tax cut and/or an increase in government spending, so called because it tends to increase aggregate demand and therefore the level of economic activity in the short run.

The recipients of these grants could not argue that their research would put people to work immediately who would build roads, repair bridges, or complete the sorts of public works projects that enhance the delivery of goods and services, improve transportation generally, and jump-start a sluggish economy. That's not what basic science does.

And that's why McCain's and Coburn's criticisms are on the mark. They aren't stimulus projects.

(Besides, "coked-up stimulus monkeys" is my favorite phrase of the campaign season.)

Carolina Journal's Anthony Greco reported on the stimulus projects here:



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2009-2010 State Test Scores: A Preliminary Look

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 10:31 AM

Performance Composite - The percentage of all student test scores in a school that are at or above proficient (Achievement Level III)

Regular District School Average: 75.2 percent
Regular Charter School Average: 79.6 percent


1. Averages do not include district and charter schools classified as "Alternative" by the NC Department of Public Instruction.

2. Averages do not include schools that lack a performance composite.

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Graduation rates in Wake and Mecklenburg

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 10:14 AM

Both districts graduate the same percentage of low-income students and are below the state average graduation rate.

Low-income Wake County: 59.7 percent
Low-income Charlotte-Mecklenburg: 59.8 percent
Low-income Statewide: 66.3 percent

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Help that hurts

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 09:48 AM

Why Ronald Reagan said the most dangerous words in the English language are, "We're from the government and we're here to help."

To the state:

Congress is moving to approve $343 million in additional Medicaid funds for the state and $300 million for local school districts. This temporary assistance is less than state budget writers expected, but sets up a bigger whole in budgets next year, even though tax collections aren't likely to improve much.

To bankers homeowners:

The Treasury Department is sending $159 million to the NC Housing Finance Authority to help unemployed workers avoid foreclosure. This goes beyond the lunacy of throwing good money after bad. It will provide new loans of up to $36,000 for 36 months to as many as 7,200 homeowners. After that, the homeowners will have to resume their mortgage payments and pay back their government loans.

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Don't let a crisis go to waste, monetary edition

Posted by George Leef at 09:44 AM

Those who love political centralization would like to have a global currency under the control of a global central bank. In this tine of financial crisis, they're pushing the idea, as Lew Rockwell writes here.

This is a stupendously bad idea, but Keynesians like it. The continuing depreciation of all paper currencies (maybe not the Swiss franc) indicates that we should be trying to escape from governmentally mandated money and return to market money -- probably gold. The global currency idea is a move in precisely the wrong direction.

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Outta Sight Outta Mind?

Posted by Amanda Vuke at 09:11 AM

Maybe so, but with the oil in the gulf apparently mostly gone, thanks to natural process and not the federal government, we are not yet out of danger.

AP reports on the disappeared oil that

Out of sight, though, doesn't mean out of danger, nor is the Gulf now clean. The harmful effects of the summer of the spill can continue on for years even with oil at the microscopic level, a top federal scientist warned.
Some other noteable highlights from the article include that
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Geological Survey announced in the five-page report that only 52.7 million gallons of oil are left in the Gulf. That is about 31 percent of the 172 million gallons that spewed into the water from the broken BP well.

Better note, though that

What's left in the water is still almost five times the amount spilled by the Exxon Valdez in 1989.

 And don't expect precision from this  report, either. 

NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco acknowledged the numbers could be off by as much as 10 percent. One of the scientists who peer-reviewed the work and is mentioned in the report, Ed Overton of Louisiana State University, said he wasn't comfortable with NOAA's putting precise percentages of how much oil is left in the Gulf. What would be more accurate would be a much broader range of, say, 40 million to 60 million gallons, he said.

 Also, is it really as simple as broken-down oil? Some don't think so - they're more inclined to believe it's another broken-down theory:

MacDonald said the core of the idea here — that oil in water essentially has about a half-life of a week — makes sense, but what happened from there doesn't.

"There's some science here, but mostly, it's spin," he said. "And it breaks my heart to see them do it."

MacDonald pointed out that NOAA spent weeks sticking with its claim the BP well was spewing only 210,000 gallons a day. Now, after several revisions, the federal government said it really was 2.2 million gallons a day. So he has a hard time believing NOAA this time, he said.


I don't know about you, but I'm with MacDonald -- the whole thing seems fishy to me. 

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Barone crunches numbers from Midwestern primaries

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 08:48 AM

Michael Barone applies his electoral expertise to this week's Michigan and Missouri primaries and comes up with an analysis for the Washington Examiner:

The big news is that in both states nearly twice as many voters chose to participate in the Republican primary as in the Democratic primary. ...

Another way to look at it: Republicans won 66% of the two-party vote in Michigan and 65% of the two-party vote in Missouri. Quite a contrast from the 2008 presidential election, in which Barack Obama carried Michigan 57%-41% and lost Missouri by the extremely narrow margin of 0.2%.

After offering much more detail, Barone concludes that the numbers are "dreadful" for Obama Democrats.

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Latest dispatches from the campaign trail

Posted by David N. Bass at 08:15 AM

  • Democrat Elaine Marshall brings in a new campaign manager, reports the News & Observer of Raleigh.

  • U.S. Sen. Richard Burr and four other Republican senators object to what's been dubbed “Mayberrygate."

  • News 14 Carolina reports on fundraising between Republican Ilario Pantano and Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre in the 7th Congressional District.

  • ABC-11 TV reports on calls for U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-1st, to return Charlie Rangel cash.

  • Politico picks up on a resolution at state Democrats' convention that would have censured N.C.'s centrist Democrats on the health care overhaul vote.

  • Rock the Vote effort is targeting North Carolina this year.

  • Gallup ranks North Carolina as the 15th most conservative state in the union.

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In case you missed him …

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:07 AM

John Hood discussed in this WTVD report two U.S. senators’ new list of the worst federal stimulus-funded projects across the country. The list includes eight projects in North Carolina.

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It’s a bad idea to say you’ve been quoted out of context …

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:06 AM

… when the context is available to anyone willing to watch a YouTube clip.

George Will offers that lesson to California Sen. Barbara Boxer in his latest Newsweek column.

Click play below to watch the clip in question, in case you’re interested in the context.

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Unaffordable to whom?

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:05 AM

In his latest Newsweek column, Fareed Zakaria asserts:

The simple fact is this: all the Bush tax cuts were unaffordable.

Given this premise, the headline of Zakaria’s piece offers an alternative: “Raise My Taxes, Mr. President!” He offers this solution, despite his article’s concluding paragraph:

I don’t like our current tax system. It’s unwieldy, taxes the wrong things (income instead of consumption), and is filled with loopholes that are legalized corruption. But we are not going to create the perfect tax code today. We have in front of us a simple, easy way to bring America’s fiscal house in order, reduce our dependence on foreign borrowing, restore U.S. credibility and power, and give us a stable revenue base from which to make key investments for future growth. All we need is for Congress to do what it does so well—nothing.

While Zakaria touches on some of the key items that ought to be addressed to accomplish real tax reform, he approaches the “affordability” issue from the wrong perspective.

The American people cannot afford their government. Allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire — Zakaria’s “do-nothing” solution — would not address that problem. That option simply would discourage the types of activity — work, saving, and investment — that make the economy grow. Slower growth means less money available to pay for that government spending Zakaria likes so much.

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Can you say ‘straw man’?

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:04 AM

The latest Newsweek tells us that South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham is considering a constitutional amendment to clarify that the United States would not grant citizenship automatically to children of illegal immigrants if those children are born in this country.

Whether you agree with that idea or not, you ought not buy into the “straw man” put forward by Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez:

“It seems inconsistent to me that politicians who are pro-life and pro-family are also pro-deportation for newborns. …”

The refusal to grant citizenship is not equivalent to support for deportation. There’s plenty of room for debate on the issue without resorting to gross distortions of your opponent’s stance.

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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:51 AM

The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive reports the opinions of incumbent N.C. members of Congress about the prospects of a substantive lame-duck session after the November election.

John Hood's Daily Journal discusses why the global warming debate has cooled.

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