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26
Having just admitted (below) one mistake I will risk committing another – except this time I am going to say the following is 100% conjecture. It’s all theory. No facts.
 
The other day I was having lunch with a group of friends and the flap on the Wake County School Board came up and I said, Well, diversity is a sort of sacred cow to liberals – so of course they’re outraged.
 
Now in every group there’s one cynic and this time he was sitting right next to me. He turned in his chair, stared at me a moment and said, You’ve got that wrong. Or, at least, the liberals aren’t worried about the kind of diversity you’re talking about.
 
I said, Explain that.
 
Here’s my cynical friend’s explanation. He said: 1) A lot of the school children being bused in Wake County are African-American children who live inside the Beltline – who’re being bused to schools outside the Beltline; 2) When busing ends and those children are allowed to attend the schools nearest their homes, as a result the racial makeup of schools inside the Beltline will change, gaining a higher ratio of African American students.
 
All that moral outrage you’re talking about, my friend concluded, is nothing more than good old-fashioned self-interest.
 
Now, as I said, I have no idea if my friend’s theory is correct – but I’ve reached the age where I’m ready to believe human nature is capable of no end of duplicity. So who knows? If anyone out there has actually studied the facts and figures about who gets bused where in Wake County write in and share the statistics – then, maybe, we can figure out if the brouhaha is about sanctimony or self-interest.
 
 
 

 

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26
Extremism in the defense of liberty may or may not be a vice, but it’s a good way to lose elections. And it may be how Republicans blow their chance at a game-changer in November.
 
Judging from their hysterical reaction, the stories about threats and violence have touched a raw nerve among Republicans.
 
They realize that the Tea Party monster they fed could end up eating them.
 
In Utah, Senator Robert Bennett – a rock-ribbed conservative – may not be conservative enough.
 
In Florida, Charlie Crist is getting slaughtered.
 
In Arizona, John McCain is in so much trouble from the right he needs Sarah Palin’s help. That must make him grumpier than usual.
 
This election is the Republicans’ to lose. They may just find a way.

 

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25
In Washington, Republicans vow to fight on against health-care reform.
 
In WakeCounty, school-diversity supporters vow to fight on against the new board’s reassignment plans.
 
In Washington, reform opponents marched on the Capitol, and some spit on congressmen and called them not-nice names.
 
In WakeCounty, diversity supporters protested, demonstrated and even got arrested. There was that striking picture of school board chairman Ron (Archie Bunker) Margiotta being led through the crowd by police and security officials.
 
But none of the diversity supporters have called for brick-throwing or talked darkly of taking up arms, as one letter-writer did here.
 
The last time we saw this movie was in the 60s. Then as now, right-wingers warned that we were headed straight to socialism. Then as now, people protested in the streets over race. And, oh yes, there was a war that got people riled up.
 
Some war opponents even resorted to bombings. Which led Sarah Palin to accuse Barack Obama of “palling around with terrorists.” Is she now encouraging domestic terrorists by urging health-care opponents to “reload”?
 
Americans have a history of getting riled up over big issues. We fought a Civil War over slavery and states’ rights. We rose up in an armed revolution to be independent.
 
We were born fighting. But sometimes some few decide to fight with bombs and bullets, not votes and debates. That’s why we have a string of assassinated presidents and politicians.
 
There is always a dark undercurrent of violence lurking in the American psyche. It has a way of bursting out when emotions are high.
 
Republicans are playing with fire here. If some nut goes too far, the tide of public opinion could turn dramatically against them.
 
Bill Clinton’s post-1994 comeback came after the Oklahoma City bombing. It could happen again.

 

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24
A while back two meandering tribes of ‘anony-mices’ – as Ms. Joan Troy once called them – set up camp over on the Talking About Politics Forum and, for the past year, these diminutive creatures have made war on one another and just about anyone else they lay eyes on – which brings us to the first political trait of anony-mices: Fierceness. Like Apaches anony-mices are unnaturally warlike.
 
For example, the other day one of the two tribes declared holy war on Richard Morgan the minute he announced for State Senate and they’ve been in a white-hot passion ever since telling anyone who’ll listen that Richard is more liberal that Barack Obama – which leads us to the second trait of anony-mices: They’re as deceitful as wicked women.

Richard Morgan opposes gay marriage, President Obama’s Stimulus Packages, Governor Perdue’s tax increases, closing Gitmo, and putting terrorists on trial in New York City. He supported Jesse Helms, Ronald Reagan, John East, Lauch Faircloth and Richard Vinroot.

But none of that matters to this tribe of anony-mices because Richard didn’t support George Holmes for Speaker back in 2003; worse in the anony-mices' eyes Richard ran against George and beat him so instead of George and Democrat Jim Black being Co-Speakers of the House Richard and Jim Black were elected. All that happened seven years ago, which brings us to the anony-mices third trait: They bear grudges like Hatfields and McCoys.
 
Finally, there's the anony-mices’ most vociferous trait: They are wild about sex. Not experiencing sex. Gossiping about sex.

During the first five years Gary and I published Talking About Politics I deleted exactly three obscene comments from the Forum. Then last year Chad Adams ran against Tom Fetzer for State Chairman and the anony-mices went to calling everyone in sight gays or lesbians or adulterers or philatelists. Gary got so shocked by it all he called one day and said, I always suspected Republicans were a little kinky when it comes to sex – but don’t you think you ought to take the copies of those sexually explicit emails off the Forum?

I must have deleted six hundred posts. 

After that things quieted down a bit until one morning three months later a friend who supports the John Locke Foundation called and said, Someone just anonymously posted an article on your Forum that says just about everyone who works at the Locke Foundation is wife-swapping – including John Hood.

John Hood isn’t even married.

Ever since wife-swapping charges have been flying back and forth between the two warring tribes and I’ve been deleting away.

Back in 2008 when Elizabeth Dole’s ‘Godless’ ad backfired  I figured maybe one good thing would come of it – the folks running Republican campaigns would figure out there’s a line you can’t cross in politics. But it hasn’t worked out that way. 

Instead, like Viet Cong guerillas our Republican candidates have changed tactics: Instead of slamming opponents in the light of day they now send bands of anony-mices scurrying out in the dead of night, stealing across that line on the Internet, and slashing away and what’s bound to happen next is as plain as the nose on your face:  It’s all going to boomerang. Again.

 

 

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24
Fred Heineman’s death takes us back to the Republican tidal year of 1994, when a titanic health-care battle led to a Democratic debacle so huge Heineman temporarily unseated David Price.
 
The big difference this year: Obama succeeded where the Clintons failed.
 
It takes three ingredients to make an electoral revolution: (1) One side is energized (2) the middle is outraged and (3) the other side is demoralized.
 
All three elements came together in 1994.
 
Democrats were so demoralized – and stayed home so much – that Heineman won even though he got fewer votes than Price got in 1992.
 
But, thanks to Obama’s health-care victory, Democrats who were demoralized a week ago are energized today.
 
Republicans, of course, are still energized – maybe even more so.
 
And the middle? We’ll see. Obama’s political challenge now is to sell them on reform.

 

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23
There hasn’t been a scene like it since LBJ in 1965: Democratic congressional leaders beaming and clapping as a Democratic President signs a big expansion of the social safety net.
 
The question is whether today’s White House ceremony celebrating health-care reform was the last gasp of the Great Society – or a reprise of Happy Days Are Here Again.
 
But, for now, for Democrats, there’s nothing like a win.
 
The Democratic wet dream is that Republicans overplayed their hand. That Americans will embrace the reforms, recoil against the opponents’ vitriol and turn against sour, hard-faced Washington Republicans.
 
Inevitably, reform will get a bounce in the polls. Inevitably, the Republicans’ repeal mania will fade.
 
Then what?
 
Politically, the best move for Obama and Democrats now is against Wall Street: Take the financial-regulatory bill, turn Obama’s rhetorical gifts on full-blast again and blame Wall Street and big bankers for the economic mess.
 
Let Republicans defend that target!
 
That’s how Democrats might salvage their congressional majorities in November.

 

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22
People always say they want politicians to do what’s right, even if it’s unpopular. Of course, they mean: unpopular with somebody else.
 
Still, by that standard, Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi showed a rare level of political guts and perseverance in pushing through health-care reform.
 
Remember two months ago? Scott Brown had just won in Massachusetts. Health-care reform was declared dead.
 
But Obama and Pelosi pushed ahead – despite Republican obstructionism, Tea Party hysteria and a flood of lies, deception and misrepresentation.
 
Now, supposedly, will come the Great Reckoning in November. But I remain skeptical that the November election will be about what happened yesterday. I doubt Democrats will lose much more ground than they would anyway in the natural cycle of politics.
 
Plus, Obama and Pelosi have given Democrats a big political win. It contains specific changes that people will like. They gave Democrats something concrete to campaign on.
 
They did what they thought was right. Even if it was unpopular with some people.

 

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18
It is becoming clear how to fight back against Ron (Archie Bunker) Margiotta over the future of WakeCounty schools.
 
Let him talk.
 
Fresh after calling people at a public hearing “animals,” Ron/Archie opined recently – at a Republican Party meeting, no less – than the Wake schools should be split into smaller districts.
 
Opponents of the new board majority should immediately assign somebody to follow Ron/Archie around with a camera and a microphone. Post everything he says. Let YouTube do its thing.
 
By the way, the best and clearest critique of the new board that I’ve read comes from ex-board member Tom Oxholm. Tom may be my neighbor, but he’s still one of the smartest and most responsible people I know.
 
Here’s what he said.
 
“On the date you are sworn in to a nonpartisan office, thanking a political party for making it happen is bad governance. Bringing resolutions to the table without giving board members in the minority time to prepare is bad governance. Stopping the construction of a school on a site that the staffs of the Board of Education and Board of Commissioners agree is the best choice - but that you campaigned against - is bad governance.
 
“…And banishing the CEO (after he gave the board four months' notice to find a replacement) because you did not like that he said you were "practicing partisan politics" is really bad governance.”
 

 

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17
Public Policy Polling says that – on health care reform – Democratic Congressmen Bob Etheridge and Health Shuler “both have to decide between voting the way that folks in their party would like them to, or voting the way voters in their district as a whole would like them to.”
 
But I’m not convinced that voting for reform will hurt them this fall.
 
For one thing, PPP also finds that, nationally, support for reform is rising.
 
For another, the picture is likely to be very different in November.
 
People don’t like reform now – in part – because they don’t know what’s in it. Fear trumps facts.
 
If a bill passes, Democrats will be able to talk about specific benefits.
 
If it doesn’t pass, they’ll be able to blame Republicans for everything wrong in health care.
 
Regardless, once the fight is over, Republicans will face the same challenge Democrats face now: how to get people interested in health-care reform when they’re mostly worried about the economy.
 
Health-care reform may be old news in November.

 

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16
Karl Rove is still playing mind games with Democrats.
 
Pay no attention.
 
Rove claims that, if Congress passes health-care reform, Democrats will lose Congress.
 
Bunk.
 
In truth, Rove fears that Democrats will pass reform, Obama will have a victory and Democrats will have something positive to run on this fall.
 
If the bill passes, nobody will know whether it made health-care better or worse.
 
But Democrats will get a boost of confidence. And Obama will be able to focus on fixing the economy – and explaining how Republicans got us in this mess.
 

 

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