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19
When it comes to art and music, I’m as uncultured as you can get. But even I can appreciate the new North Carolina Art Museum.
 
It’s a stunning achievement for a state. And it’s mostly due to the persistence and political savvy of Larry Wheeler.
 
I suppose the Tea Party types would say this is one more thing government shouldn’t do.
 
But the museum is exactly the kind of thing that North Carolina has done over the last 60-plus years to make ourselves a state unlike any other in the South – and the nation.
 
The question is whether North Carolina will have that kind of vision and commitment in the decades ahead – not just in art, but in everything that makes this a good place to live.
 

 

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16
The revealing New York Times/CBS poll on the Tea Party demographics turned up two golden nuggets.    One explains their anger. The oth...

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16
A wise old legal eagle points out a recent article in the National Law Journal that shreds the 18 showboating state attorneys generals who want to challenge the health-care reform law.
 
The article, written by a law professor at Washington & Lee, concludes:
 
“This complaint not only represents shockingly shoddy lawyering but should be recognized by the courts for what it in fact is: A pleading whose key claims are without support in the law and the facts. The attorneys who brought this case — solely for political purposes — should have to bear personally the cost of defending this litigation that they are imposing on federal taxpayers.”
 
 
Here’s a chance for AG Roy Cooper to shine.
 
Cooper should take a stand on the lawsuit – on legal grounds, not political.
 
He should stand up publicly and say why the lawsuit is bad law – and why he’s not joining it.
 

 

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10
The way Art Pope sees it his blasting Richard Morgan (because Richard blasted Governor Perdue) wasn’t defending Governor Perdue...
 
… but how did Perdue see it?
“Well, miracles do happen!” the Governor chortled, delighted to have Pope’s support.
What’s ironic about all this is for years Art’s been hammering Richard, saying he’s too cozy with Democrats and now, suddenly, Art’s cozying up to Perdue. I’m beginning to think the fact is Art just doesn’t like Richard and all his past homily’s about his concern for party loyalty were just window dressing to hide what is really just a good old-fashioned feud that’s been going on for over a decade, since Richard ran against Art for Republican Leader in the State House and beat him.
Anyway, whatever the reason, Art’s latest broadside against Richard is a little strange: Last Wednesday, Richard filed a complaint with the State Ethics Commission accusing Governor Perdue’s Cabinet Secretary (and former lobbyist) Lanier Cansler of giving a $30 million no bid state contract to one of his former clients, which in turn paid Cansler’s former lobbying firm, which in turn’s been paying Cansler.
Now, none of these facts are in dispute: Money flowed from Cansler’s Department to his former client to his former firm then back to Cansler – and that sure sounds like ‘pay to play.’
Not so, says Art Pope.
He says what Perdue and Cansler did was all perfectly legal and the one who’s really guilty of ‘pay to play’ is Richard Morgan – how’s that? The proof Pope says is simple: Richard accepted a $250 contribution from the Home and Hospice Care Association’s political committee two years ago which, the way Art sees it, is all the evidence anyone with two drams of sense needs to see the reason Morgan is attacking Perdue is to keep the those $250 checks (every two years) flowing.
And Art wasn’t done. He went on to say I’m a villain, too, for being Richard’s friend and lobbying for the Hospice and Home Care Association.
Well, he’s technically correct on his last two points. I’ll explain and you decide about the villain part. Last year, I did make TV ads attacking Democratic Senator Doug Berger – who may be the most liberal person in the legislature – for the Home and Hospice Care Coalition. Back then Democratic attorney and former Hunt administration official Jack Cozart, who was working with the Home and Hospice Care folks, said that if I was going to be making ads attacking his fellow Democrats I’d better register as a lobbyist under N.C.’s new law. That didn’t sit too well with me but the Hospice folks went ahead and registered me out of an abundance of caution. In the end all that got me was a complaint filed against me (by some anonymous Democrat) with the Secretary of State’s Office. After that, another lawyer from another Democratic law firm advised the Hospice folks I should never have registered in the first place because producing an ad wasn’t lobbying.
Anyway, to add insult to injury, this morning my wife opened the newspaper and the first thing she saw was Art saying Bev Perdue’s innocent as a lamb, Richard Morgan’s a scoundrel and I’m a villain.
Art’s unrelenting feud with Richard is now rolling into its eleventh year and most of us, by now, are just plain worn out with it. Art’s obsession with Richard is getting to be a bit like Ahab and the whale.
Without blinking Art spent half a million dollars to defeat Richard in 2006 then, after Art’s candidate won, as soon as the fellow got to the legislature he got himself in trouble for making improper sexual advances to a Democratic Legislator; his political career ended a year later after he had a run-in with a tree trunk and was charged with drunk driving.
A year after that Art picked one of his employees at the Locke Foundation to run against Tom Fetzer for State Republican Chairman; that was even more colorful and made history as far as Republican State Chairman’s races go when sexually explicit emails Art’s married candidate had sent to his girlfriend started popping up on the Internet. Then just when we all figured we’d seen politics at its worse some anonymous gremlin supporting Art Pope’s candidate sent out emails saying Fetzer was gay.  
I guess we Republicans haven’t had any entertainment (or made fools of ourselves) for a while so now Art is defending Bev Perdue saying she’s not guilty of ‘pay to play’ and blasting away at Richard Morgan again.
And, all in all, this is one pretty strange turn of events in Republican politics.

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09
What is it with “narrative”?
 
We used to talk about “message” in campaigns. Now candidates have a “narrative.”
 
Rob Christensen did a recent column about the different “narratives” of the Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate.
 
“Message” implied issues. It implied addressing the concerns of voters.
 
“Narrative” implies telling a compelling story about the candidate – presumably one that connects them to voters.
 
My guess is that this is recognition of the role of personality in politics. We say we base decisions on issues. But we also make judgments about the character and personality of the people who want to hold public office.
 
As well we should. See Mike Easley and John Edwards.
 
The problem is that a charismatic personality (also see above) can mask character flaws.
 
So “narrative” is only part of what we need. We also need critical examination – and testing – of that narrative by the media, insiders and opponents.
 
Thus the value of “negative” campaigns. As Carter has observed, the biggest lies in politics are often found in positive ads. The negative ads are usually more truthful.
 

 

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05
The other day a friend sent me an article saying Obamacare cut Medicare $500 billion. I wrote back and asked, Exactly what Medicare treatments for patients did Obama cut?
 
Back came another email with an article attached written by a lady, the former Lt. Governor of New York, who said Obama has set up a fund to study ‘comparative effectiveness research’ – which, the lady from New York explained, means he’s got the government studying how to limit a patient’s medical care based on his or her age.
 
In other words, if you’re eighty-five and have cancer you’re less likely to get care than if you’re forty-five which, to put the lady’s point of view as bluntly as possible, is proof President Obama’s planning to cut Medicare by cutting care to old people – rather than prolonging their lives.
 
I emailed my friend back and said, Somehow, I have doubts about Obama and the Democrats kicking old people off their respirators. Democrats may be misguided but they’re not downright mean. Besides they’re politicians and sacrificing grandma would be pretty unpopular.
 
Back came his response, They’re doing it now in socialist Europe. It’s called rationing health care.
 
I thought about that a while then wrote back, Why on earth do you think Obama – who’s already proved he’s the biggest spender in American history – would suddenly become a tightwad when it comes to paying for old people’s medical care?
 
The response came back like an arrow: Because he’s out to redistribute health care.
 
In other words, President Obama is remaking American society to accomplish one goal:  Redistributing wealth. Which Obama-care does – the have nots gain health care at the expense of old people on respirators.
 
Now there’s no doubt Obama did say he was going to cut Medicare $500 billion but my suspicion is he was cooking the books. He did promise cuts. But don’t bank on them happening. In all likelihood taxpayers will pay the whole $500 billion plus a lot more.
 
But that’s not how the lady from New York (or a lot of well-meaning Republicans) see it. To them President Obama has staked himself out as the heir and soul-mate to a long line of revolutionaries stretching all the way back to Karl Marx; from there it’s just one more small step in memory to all the revolutionaries in the last century who had blood thirsty social engineering schemes to remake their societies (like Stalin wiping out the Kulaks to remake Russia) and then, suddenly, Obama, even if he is only a Democrat, morphs into a villain capable of kicking old people off respirators – and I can hear Gary saying, Hold on – stop right there. That was one helluva leap, and, of course, he’s right but that’s not my point.
 
Here is my point: President Obama stands up and says with a straight face he’s going to save billions by cutting Medicare and there’s not a word of truth in it but a lady from New York – who’s already figured out Obama’s a bigger socialist than whoever’s the top socialist in Europe these days – takes him at his word and asks herself, How’s he going to do that? and concludes he’s going to kick old people on respirators, then another of the Republican faithful chimes in and says, Sure, that makes sense, because he’s out to redistribute the wealth.
 
Which is as good example as I know of how politics works these days.
 

 

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01
A couple of months ago the Supreme Court decided corporations – like people who talk and breathe and walk around on two legs – have an inalienable rig...

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31
Aside from death-penalty cases, it’s the toughest decision governors make.
 
And that’s so regardless of whether they are Republican or Democrat, named Holshouser, Hunt, Martin or Perdue.
 
The dilemma: A gubernatorial appointee is accused of an ethical – or even criminal – violation.
 
Immediately, the media demands that heads roll. Political opponents pounce.
 
Then the governor hears from the other side: the appointee and his or her friends.
 
Most always, the appointee is a friend and supporter. He or she gave money. Or even hosted an event in their home for the governor.
 
They say: “The media is making a mountain out of a molehill. You need to stand by your people, Governor. A person is innocent until proven guilty.”
 
But the media, political opponents and much of the public assume the opposite: guilty until proven innocent. There is an automatic assumption that anyone in politics is by definition corrupt.
 
“Just another example of the pay-to-play culture,” the righteous thunder. As though a governor should only appoint people who oppose his or her policies – or are agnostic. Heaven forbid you put someone in public office who might be committed to your priorities.
 
What’s worse, it’s tough for the governor to ferret out the facts. The appointee and friends tend to cover up. Their opponents leak damaging information in the most damaging way.
 
And, in today’s hurry-up, 24-hour news cycle, there is little patience for deliberation and fact-finding.
 
But, in politics, you only find sympathy in the dictionary, and you know where. That’s why governors get paid the big bucks and live in the big house.
 

 

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30
Several months ago, Governor Perdue summoned North Carolina business executives to an emergency phone call. The subject was a mystery. But when the Go...

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29
A wise old Democrat told me recently that Bev Perdue’s biggest problem is: “She’s broken too many promises.”
 
The recession and the budget crater are mostly to blame. She’s had to disappoint her friends in education, health care, aging services and mental health.
 
But her promise to run an ethical administration doesn’t cost any money.
 
So she can’t be happy with Sunday’s front-page N&O headline: “Perdue falls short on ethics vow.”
 
I believe she is getting a raw deal on the campaign-finance issues that Tom Fetzer is trumpeting. She’s been open, aggressive and forthcoming there.
 
But that approach hasn’t carried over to appointees in her administration. Which is understandable. They are, by definition, supporters and contributors.
 
But she set herself up by making a sweeping promise – one that she found hard to keep.
 

 

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