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30
President Obama may have the most brilliant strategy on earth to defeat Ebola but, on the other hand, he may go down in history as the first head of a government to encourage thousands of people (doctors and nurses) to visit a plague zone and then return home to meld back into the population without, first, determining whether or not they caught the plague.


 

 

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29
A pollster will usually ask voters: Would you say you 1) Always vote Democratic, 2) Usually vote Democratic, 3) Always vote Republican, 4) Usually vote Republican or 5) would you say you split your ticket and vote for about as many Republicans as Democrats?
 
Down at the Editorial Board (not in the news room) at the News and Observer the boys have gone 5 for 5 in the local Congressional Races – picking five Democrats and not a single Republican.  
 
They also went 4 for 4 in the County Commissioners races – picking 4 Democrats.  
 
And they endorsed Lorrin Freeman, the Democrat in the District Attorney’s race.
 
Then they went 12 of 12 – endorsing 12 Democrats in the State House races.
 
They did endorse one Republican – Sheriff Donnie Harrison – in a backhanded way, spending most of their editorial explaining what Donnie had done wrong and praising his opponent.
 
At any rate, one thing’s clear: Whoever’s doing the picking down at the N&O Editorial Board isn’t a ticket splitter.

 

 

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28
Eric pointed to the word ‘backlash’ and said, They put a picture of a Black minister, sneering, beneath a headline saying ‘backlash’ then quote the ACLU as saying Black preachers want to punish gay people because of who they love.
 
A trio of amenable grunts rose from the end of the table then out of pure mischief Conor said, You got an objection to the ACLU saying those Black preachers want to punish gays? and Eric said, Mata Hari, and Conor frowned,  You see a connection between Mata Hari and a Black preacher in Fayetteville?
 
Eric pointed to the photograph of the preacher. The way he sees it a man and woman stand up in his church and say ‘I do’ then the sacrament goes to work joining their souls – and he can see one other thing too: That doesn’t happen with a mother’s love or brother’s love or when Mata Hari diddles a married French Count and he’s sure not going to sit still and let a federal judge tell him he’s wrong because he doesn’t see two gays in love as a marriage.
 
Conor opened his mouth to argue the preacher had confused matrimony and Holy Matrimony but right then on the wall behind Eric’s shoulder two politicians came on television waving their arms one saying Attorney General Roy Cooper was dead-right to stand up for gay marriage and the other saying Cooper was a no good varmint.
 
Conor laid both arms on the table. Forgetting Mata Hari for a moment, would you agree neither of those two boys is practicing any kind of love at all.


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28

Kaci Hickox was mad as hops – she’d gotten off the plane in Newark, been hustled straight into quarantine, and three days later she was still in quarantine only by then she’d hired a lawyer to sue Governor Chris Christie.

A few days before Ms. Hickox flew from Sierra Leone to Newark, a doctor, who’d come home to New York after treating Ebola patients in Guinea, came down with Ebola – and Governors Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie promptly ordered medical workers returning from West Africa to be quarantined.
 
Ms. Hichox landed in Newark about an hour later. And, by nightfall, the Obama Administration was criticizing Cuomo and Christie for the quarantines.
 
Back in 1952 there were 57,000 cases of polio: 3,000 people died and another 21,000 were paralyzed and we declared a war on polio.  In 1955, Jonas Salk invented the Salk vaccine and in 1961 there were 161 cases of polio.
 
Now we need to declare war on Ebola – instead of denouncing quarantines.
 
A person gets the Ebola virus by coming in contact with a sick person. The virus then incubates for up to 3 weeks and at some point, during that time, the person starts showing symptoms of the disease. From the moment that happens, anyone who comes in contact with them can also be infected.
 
According to the Administration that’s not a problem because, as soon as someone shows symptoms, they’ll voluntarily check into a hospital. But that didn’t happen when a nurse with a fever, who’d treated an Ebola patient, boarded an airplane and flew to Cleveland – with the CDC’s approval.
 
And it didn’t happen with the doctor in New York City – according to the officials, after the first symptoms appeared he spent the evening in a bowling alley.
 
Maybe it’s unlikely someone who’s had contact with an Ebola patient will infect other people, but quarantining them for 21 days avoids that risk which is what Governor Christie decided to do.
 
Quarantines won’t cure Ebola but they can slow it down and give the next Jonas Salk time to find a vaccine.

 

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27
An African-American minister proclaimed that a gay person should not be a judge. He also joined Rep. Skip Stam-and apparently 27 other House Republicans-in proclaiming that magistrates, who are officers of the court, should not have to carry out laws and court decisions they don’t like.
 
Forty years ago, several magistrates in North Carolina refused to perform interracial marriages, which they said violated their religious beliefs.
 
A question for the minister: What is the difference?
 
And a question for Rep. Stam, since he apparently did not take issue with the minister’s statement about gay judges: Let’s say, hypothetically, that there is a judge in North Carolina who is Republican and gay. And let’s say that judge is on the ballot for a court office. Should that judge resign and abandon his or her candidacy?
 
Just asking.

 

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22
As good citizens, we all know that these two truths are self-evident in politics. First, as both editorial writers and Walmart moms agreed in the paper today, big money and “assault ads” are bad. Second, (as everybody but the Republican legislature, Governor McCrory and the State Board of Elections apparently think) higher voter turnout is good.
 
But suppose the thing we believe is bad produces the thing we believe is good? Suppose more money and more “assault ads” actually increase voter turnout? Suppose more “bad” produces more “good”?
 
Damon Circosta at the Fletcher Foundation started this with a Facebook post yesterday: "Serious question: with a 100 million dollar senate race, awareness of the election has to be pretty high compared to other recent midterms. If (generally speaking) higher turnout is said to benefit Dems, and the supposition that the sheer volume of ads both positive and negative cancel out each other's message, could such unprecedented spending, even if half of it is aimed at defeating Hagan, reached a point where all of this advertising simply serves as a turnout driver and as such a net positive for the incumbent?"
 
Laura Leslie at WRAL responded, “Actually, negative ads tend to suppress turnout, not drive it. Rs are already more likely to turn out for a midterm than Ds. I don't think it will turn out to be a net positive for Hagan. Research is mixed but mostly shows that negative advertising increases turnout, though not by much.”
 
Then the political science professionals jumped in.
 
Steve Greene at N.C. State said the research is “inconclusive and contradictory.” He cited one article that “claims that there is no demobilizing effect of negative ads.”
 
Will Cubbison at George Washington University gave us some interesting stats: “For comparisons sake...1984 with Helms-Hunt (almost this much money, highly negative ads) had 69% turnout. 1980 had 67% and 1988 had 62% so severe limits to effects.”
 
Now, I’m not a political scientist, but it does look to me like turnout was higher in 1984.
 
And if turnout is higher this year – and if your candidate wins – are big money and negative ads really so bad?

 

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17
You have to give Kay Hagan credit: A year ago the Swing Voters were ready to roll down the track and vote her out of office – and for a year Hagan kept those voters out of Thom Tillis’ camp.
 
The one big change in the Senate race – Tillis’ rising unpopularity with Independents – was all Kay Hagan’s doing.
 
On the other hand, Hagan had problems of her own: She’d been sitting at 43% or 44% or 45% of the vote for months. She’d kept Tillis from moving up. But she hadn’t moved up either. She was just as stuck as Tillis. Only in a different way.
 
The other day I had a repairman in the office and he said, You’re in politics?
 
I said, I’m afraid I have to plead guilty to that.
 
And he said, You know, we’re in a mess. We’re headed for a war and we ain’t got a leader in sight.
 
He meant ISIS.
 
And, maybe, that’s what’s going to tip the scales in the Senate race – a threat no one even knew existed six months ago may provide the impetus that moves Independent voters to support either Hagan or Tillis.
 
Of course, there could be other wild cards too.
 
Ebola.
 
Obama’s popularity dropping.
 
Or either Hagan or Tillis stumbling.
 
Any one of those events could tip the scales.

 

 

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15
Stop the presses. I have something nice to say about Governor McCrory.
 
Unlike his Republican colleagues Thom Tillis, Phil Berger and Dan Forrest, McCrory said he will respect and obey the court decision on gay marriage, even if he doesn’t like it.
 
Good for him.
 
But why? I asked a couple of smart political people. One (a kind-hearted soul) said: “I don’t think he’s a mean person at all.” Another (a cynical sort) offered: “He needs every vote in 2016.”
 
Here’s a third theory: Duke Energy. Yes, his former employer, which may be his biggest obstacle to reelection because of the coal ash spill.
 
The theory: working almost 30 years for a large corporation taught McCrory the importance of diversity and tolerance. It’s not that corporations are nice people, it’s that they value smart, hard-working employees regardless of sexual orientation.
 
Whatever the reason, McCrory’s stance is a welcome change from fulminations about “activist judges,” “judicial tyranny” and “60 percent of North Carolinians voted for the amendment.”
 
Well, 60 years ago, 60 percent of North Carolina voters would have voted for racial segregation. That didn’t make it morally right or constitutional. The reason we have judges and courts, as the conservatives usually remind us, is to protect individual liberty against the tyranny of the majority.
 
So it is here.

 

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14
If you think about it DENR’s proposal was pretty odd.
 
Last winter, when tons of water from a coal ash pond poured into the Dan River, there was consternation and gnashing of teeth. The U.S. Attorney started investigating. The Governor ordered every coal ash pond cleaned up. The legislature said Amen.
 
Then, with hardly a soul noticing, last August DENR signed off on a plan to clean up coal ash ponds – by dumping the water in the ponds directly into rivers and lakes.
 
Which sounded, more or less, like what had happened on the Dan River.
 
Which was odd.
 
And what happened next was even odder.
 
EPA nixed  DENR’s plan (and the controversy exploded in the newspapers again) then DENR announced it had simply been following orders (or an Executive Order) from the Governor. And did an about face.
 
In other words, DENR threw the Governor under the bus – which is something you don’t see happen in state government every day.

 

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13
First ISIS. Then Ebola. Now men marring men and women marrying women. What’s next? “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!”?
 
More to the point, will video and big Page One pictures of newlywed men kissing each other sway this election?
 
Consider three things here.
 
First, yes, Amendment One passed with 60 percent of the vote. Two years ago. In a primary election with no big race. This is a general election with a big US Senate race and a lot of hot legislative races. Public opinion has moved fast since then, and same-sex marriages are happening all over the country.
 
Second, some number of the votes for Amendment One were African-American voters. They are more religious than most voters, they go to church more and their churches often are evangelical. Quite a few black preachers preached against same-sex marriage in 2010. It’s safe to say these voters will not be voting Republican in 2014.
 
Third, what’s the impact in precisely the urban areas with big college populations where sentiment runs strongest against the Republican legislature? Will these younger, college-educated voters stay home now, content that all is well? Or will this just galvanize an even bigger vote as they see that change is within their reach?
 
My guess is that same-sex marriage is at worst a wash for Democrats and very possibly a plus.

 

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