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29
A young chaplain at Duke Chapel announced it was time for the University to transform its gothic cathedral into an enlightened multicultural center with Muslims chanting  azans from the bell tower while Methodists prayed in the sanctuary below – and without knowing it she crossed an invisible line.
 
Word spread and praying to two different gods in one church left a lot of folks scratching their heads: Were the multiculturalists at the chapel worshiping one God or two? And if one, which one? And if it was the God of Abraham why would a Christian chaplain encourage someone to pray to a God she didn’t believe existed?
           
The chaplain, I guess, might have said, I did it out of simple courtesy – but, courtesy notwithstanding, wouldn’t it still be like encouraging prayers to a false god?
 
Finally the older heads at the University  stepped in to still the controversy: There had been, they said, a “serious security threat” so there would be no Muslim prayers in the bell tower.
 
It was a dodge that would make a politician proud.

 

 

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29
A TAPster with long experience in the General Assembly offers this:
 
In reaction to Gary’s blog about “Big Government” and Speaker Moore’s laughably large staff, here are the three popular theories in Raleigh today about why Republican leaders like the Speaker and Lt. Governor think they can singlehandedly solve the state’s unemployment problem by hiring everyone in sight:
 
1.       Operating the government and understanding the complex issues in a modern North Carolina are simply beyond their intellectual ability to manage or understand. They can count votes and bully their colleagues, but they need all the help they can get to really do the work.
 
2.       They are small-town folks who’ve never bossed around anybody but a law clerk and a secretary. It’s fun to have minions!
 
3.       They don’t care what anybody thinks. They operate with impunity, without budgets and with no concern that their choices are in conflict with their principles.

 

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28
Things have come to a pretty pass when a photo and story about Carter and me run under the headline: “Polite Disagreement.”
 
This is our reward? After all we did to make Hunt-Helms one of the most bitter, negative and expensive races ever? After years, decades even, of earning reputations as tough, give-no-quarter political gut-fighters?
 
After all that, Kate Grice writes an article in The Daily Tar Heel (“Two political analysts find friendship in debate”) that concludes, “Though the two disagree on basically everything, as they are glad to point out to one another with a smile and a laugh, their blog and panel talks have made them an example of old-style debates that are often lost in the world of the internet.”
 
What are we – a couple of toothless, burned-out old softies?
 
Maybe we have changed. Maybe years of blogging together and talking to each other softened us.
 
Maybe we came to realize that, in what Carter calls the “howl” of today’s politics, cooler and calmer voices get heard more clearly.
 
Or maybe it’s a sign of just how bitter, angry and divided – personal, even – politics has become in the age of Fox, MSNBC and the Internet. When you’re talking only to the people who agree with you, it’s tempting to play to the crowd and preen in the roar of their approval.
 
Maybe we stand out a bit because we’re forced to consider the other guy’s point of view and even occasionally grant that something he says make sense.
 
Carter put it well in our DTH interview, “We argue without hostility, and I think that is something that people find interesting. There’s disagreement, but it’s polite.”

 

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28
ISIS lined up a firing squad to machine-gun 13 teenage boys for watching a soccer game (which violates Sharia Law).
 
They flung two men off a tower in Mosul (they were homosexuals).
 
They threatened to cut off two hostages’ heads unless Japan paid  $200 million then, when the ransom wasn’t paid, they killed one hostage.
 
Throughout its history Japan has made an art form of revenge – a samurai wielding a sword could cut off a head in a heartbeat and no other samurai would blink an eye.
 
Japan has peacefully minded its own business since 1945 but, before that, an angry Japanese soldier was a pitiless enemy. Teenage boys can’t fight back. But taunting Japan may be prodding a sleeping tiger.


 

 

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27
Yes, 1,000 wins in college basketball is remarkable. But three front pages? That’s what greeted readers of the N&O print edition Monday morning.
 
First there was Page One of the main news section. In approximately the same size type that might say “WAR!” was “1,000” – in Duke Blue, of course. Beneath were a large photo and two stories about Mike Krzyzewski’s achievement. There was room left for one other story, about Wake County schools.
 
Then came the Sports section, with a three-quarters page photo of Coach K and two more stories on the front. Then there was a special 10-page Commemorative Section. The cover was a full-page photo of “Coach W.”
 
In all, I counted 10 long stories, five shorter stories, six sidebars and graphics and 27 photos.
 
Already, as you might expect, the N&O is getting letters complaining. Obviously, K-haters couldn’t think of a worse way to wake up Monday morning. Then there are serious readers who decry devoting so much ink to basketball when there is much more important news in the world and, especially, when newspapers editorialize about scandals “driven by an over-the-top emphasis on college sports.
 
Not so fast, my friends. This is the price you pay for being able to get a newspaper at all.
 
Journalism today is about clicks, clicks on websites. The more clicks the N&O site gets, the more ads they sell, the more money they make and the more they can spend on reporters to dog your Governor, your legislature, your community, your courts, your schools, your colleges and universities and – yes – scandals “driven by an over-the-top emphasis on college sports.”
 
The N&O, like all newspapers, has suffered through hard times since the Daniels family sold the paper – at the peak of the market – 20 years ago. Ads have dried up, readers have fled, the paper has shrunk and the news staff has been decimated, or maybe double-decimated.
 
A key part of the N&O’s survival strategy is to own ACC sports coverage. Good ACC coverage is good business. It pays the bills.
 
Those of us who regularly pull against Coach K should congratulate him. Give the commemorative section to a Duke fan. And be thankful that coverage like this, even if we don’t like it, keeps the clicks clicking, the reporters digging and the paper coming every morning.
 
Still, go to hell, Duke.

 

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27
It was a rare feat: Frank Luntz somehow found the twenty maddest-at-Obama people in the country and put them in a ‘focus group’ on Fox News after the President’s State of the Union speech – and they didn’t have one kind word to say.
 
But you have to give the devil his due: Barack Obama can be a powerful speaker. Who has a unique political voice. And Tuesday night there was no ‘voice’ on the Republican side of the aisle with the power to match him. 
 
And that’s what Republicans need to find sooner rather than later: A ‘voice’ who can step to a podium, look Obama in the eye, and answer him.

 

 

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26
The government is too big, Republicans say. Too much bureaucracy, too much waste, too many overpaid, do-nothing chair-sitters mooching off hard-working taxpayers.
 
Presumably, House Speaker Tim Moore agrees. He’s as eager as any other hard-nosed Republican to cut out the deadwood.
 
But first he has to hire a staff. Here, thanks to Under the Dome, are some of the positions on the Speaker’s staff:
 
-          A Chief of Staff
-          A Deputy Chief of Staff
-          A Communications Director
-          A senior policy adviser
-          A policy advisor on agriculture and education
-          The director of House caucuses/policy analyst
-          A senior policy advisor for health issues
-          A director of boards, commissions and constituent services
-          A policy advisor on transportation and public safety
-          An executive assistant/director of administration
-          Another policy analyst
-          An administrative assistant
 
Once upon a time, House Speakers in North Carolina got by with a couple of administrative assistants and a legislative counsel or two, some of them part-time.
 
Now, apparently, it takes a lot of staff to cut down the size of government.

 

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26
She said Yes. Then No. Then Yes, again.
 
Four years ago, running for Congress, Renee Ellmers told voters she was a nurse who had “held the hands of new born infants.” Yes, she said, she was Pro-Life.
 
Then, last week, she said No to banning abortions after twenty weeks of pregnancy. The idea, she said, was unpopular with younger voters.
 
She won (scuttling the bill) but was pounded by Pro-Life groups: One called her “traitorous.” Another wrote, “She is worse than a Democrat.”
 
Ellmers then did another about-face, announcing she was all for the abortion ban.
 
Yes. No. Then Yes, again. All in one week.


 

 

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23

 

Most of us older white conservatives just naturally see a Democratic Senator from Massachusetts who taught at Harvard and figure – barring a miracle – she’s got to be a liberal so it came as a shock the other night when a young conservative posted a link to one of Elizabeth Warren’s speeches with one word beside it: Wow!
 
Wall Street, Warren said, is nailing American workers to a ‘Cross of Gold’ to make already rich corporations richer.
 
Then she got right down to brass tacks and said we need to break up the big banks. 

Whatever else Elizabeth Warren may be she’s not just a liberal or just another Massachusetts Senator – she’s a voice we haven’t heard in a long time: The living and fire-breathing reincarnation of William Jennings Bryan populism.

 

 

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22
The liberal folks over at ProgressNC let fly with a broadside at the Governor about his ethics, then let fly again with a press conference and, by then, they had the folks at the Charlotte Observer so stirred up they let fly with broadside of their own asking, Was Pat McCrory fibbing then, or is he fibbing now?
 
The way the liberals tell it Governor McCrory underhandedly omitted facts from his Financial Disclosure Reports to hide conflicts of interest – and that he was paid a lot of money by less than saintly corporations.
 
Now it’s hard to believe anyone – even the liberals – thinks the State Ethics Commission (which as long as anyone can remember has been a toothless tiger) is going to strip the Governor’s epilates off in public but, then again, it may be the Ethics Commission is just a way station on the way to court which is where the liberals really want to end up – which would open a whole new can of worms.
 
Either way, this is no one time liberal rant about the foibles of Republican politicians. ProgressNC has fired the opening salvo in the Governor’s race and they mean to go right on chasing Pat.   


 

 

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