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11
I dropped in on a wise old Democrat who has been through the political wars, winning more than he lost. I found him undaunted by 2014 and fired up for 2016.
 
He chided me for chiding Senator Hagan for chiding President Obama over the November results: “You were too tough on her. The President should be talking up the economy. We all should be talking up the economy. A lot of good things are happening, and we need to stand up and tell people.”
 
Yes, he said, it was a tough year for Democrats. “But we did a hell of a lot better than any other state.” If the same candidates had run the same campaigns in 2016, he said, “We would have won three or four state Senate seats and even more state House seats.”
 
He’s optimistic about the races for President, US Senate, Governor and the legislature in 2016. He knows how easily Republicans can overreach and wear out their welcome. He believes Democrats will field strong candidates and run strong campaigns.
 
Most of all, he had a clear message for Democrats who are tempted to mope and mourn: “I want to see some fire in your eyes.”

 

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10
Ben Bradlee of the Washington Post used to say: “I come in every day with an empty bucket, and somebody fills it up.” Some days I come in with an empty blog, but TAPsters (readers, commentators and contributors) fill it up. Here’s a guest blog that’s timely in light of Senator-elect Andy Wells’ letter to the N&O today. The writer is no government bureaucrat; he’s a long-time warrior in the corporate world who recruited companies to North Carolina:
 
“North Carolina continues to wander aimlessly in its efforts to recruit new business to the state.
 
“Sadly, the biggest economic prize so far was won by the new CEO of the state’s shiny new economic development organization. He’s coming from Missouri, makes a cool $225k annually and will need a map to find his way from Raleigh to Garner.
 
“C’mon people, was not a single person in North Carolina qualified for this job? 
 
“Actually, it doesn’t matter if the new CEO is from Missouri or Middlesex. As long as Republicans oppose big-time incentives to recruit big-time manufacturers, we can forget an auto manufacturer or other big employer.
 
“The mind-numbing hypocrisy and brain-dead philosophical confusion of our state’s leaders was never more evident than in the final hours of the forgettable legislative session. Legislators killed incentive payments because they don't believe in giving tax dollars to private businesses. Then, within hours, those same people voted overwhelmingly, enthusiastically and without shame to give $12 million of the state’s money to a privately owned paper mill in the mountains that threatened to close if help to pay for pollution controls wasn't forthcoming.
 
“Good luck.”

 

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10
The Taliban’s on a tear and ISIS is selling women as slaves and it looks like Limited Wars have turned out to be a gift that keeps on giving and we’re about to fight one more.
 
ISIS has reconquered half of Irag but to whip ‘em we’re not sending in the Marines or the paratroopers or the Big Red One – we’re going to whip ‘em with the Air Force alone which even the Air Force says won’t work.
 
One thing you have to say about World War II: From Guadalcanal to Hiroshima total war was pure hell but it ended. Hitler was dead. Germany crushed. Japan crushed. And, after that, we occupied Germany just long enough to make sure there weren’t enough Nazis left to make a comeback.
 
Iraq on the other hand is a classic limited war – we went in with too little, bungled the occupation, didn’t crush much of anyone, and ten years later ISIS has re-conquered half the country and we’re in a tarbaby – so the President’s diddling with fighting another limited war.


 

 

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Posted in: General, Issues
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09

 

Generally speaking it looks folks see the riots in Missouri two ways – Jim Martin who serves on the local School Board gave an example in the newspaper of one way: After the riots he explained to his fellow School Board members they were watching a ‘classic disconnect between how officialdom and people in the community view things.’
 
The seed of wickedness was a breakdown in communications.
 
Other folks see a fellow throw a brick through a shop window and figure they’re not watching a failure of communications – they’re watching a fellow after a new iPhone.
 
You have to appreciate folks who put their faith in empathy but if Jim Martin, standing on the street corner in Ferguson, had said to a rioter, Hold on, we need to communicate – how do you reckon that would have worked out?

 

 

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09
When 60 Minutes came calling, Governor McCrory was quick to dump, and dump on, his old employer Duke Energy.
 
When Leslie Stahl asked about Duke’s record on coal ash, McCrory squinted real serious-like and said, “Actually, there’s been no record regarding coal ash disposal.” Stahl: “They haven’t done anything?” McCrory: “Very little, very little. I think the record has been quite poor. Because frankly it’s been out of sight, out of mind.”
 
Out of his sight and mind too, apparently. After all, he was only at Duke for 30 years and there’s only about 100 million tons of the stuff lying around. How could he know that?
 
He professed to be shocked, shocked, by the spill at Dan River. How could that be, when the plant was closed?
 
Of course, 60 Minutes didn’t let him off that easy. It pointed out that he cut state regulators’ staff and budget. And there’s the little matter of a federal grand jury investigation.
 
This is just a taste of what’s coming for McCrory as he runs for reelection the next two years. Ads already have depicted him with ash on his hands.
 
It’s not just Democrats, liberals and environmentalists. Senator Berger has publicly suggested that McCrory is protecting his old employer.
 
Sunday night, his strategy was to run. But can he hide?

 

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08

 

Obama and the Republican Leaders in Congress are eyeball to eyeball over immigration with the President saying he’s done a fine noble deed to bring five million people out of the shadows and with Republicans saying Obama’s fine noble deed is just an unconstitutional power grab.
 
They’re having a fine row but the odd fact is Obama and the Republican Leaders don’t really disagree.
 
According to Obama when he gets to court he’s going to say, Your Honor, Congress told me to deport 11.3 million people but they only gave me the money to deport 400,000 a year – so I’ve set priorities. I’m going to deport the major crooks first, the minor crooks second, other troublesome folks third and until that’s done I’m going to let everyone else come out of the shadows and live like normal people – and, by the way, my priorities (like deporting the felons and gang members first) are the same priorities Congress set in bills it passed.
           
And it’s a safe bet the Republican Leaders in Congress aren’t going to give the President a ga-million dollars to deport all 11.3 million illegal immigrants. The Republicans don’t want to spend the money. Obama doesn’t want them to spend the money. And neither side wants to find out what happens if they try to round up 11.3 million people and ship them home.
 
So, if Obama wins (and his Executive Order stands) millions of illegal immigrants will stay right here, and if the Republicans win they’ll stay right here too.
 
So, what’s the squabbling over?

 

 

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05
You know it was a bad story when somebody says at breakfast, “Did Senator Hagan know she was being quoted when she said that about Obama?”
 
We don’t know. But we do know that Hagan’s interview with a McClatchy reporter threw gas on a fire burning in the Democratic Party – and probably burned her in the process.
 
The story began: “President Barack Obama could have done more to help Senate Democrats in last month’s elections if he’d spoken out about the nation’s healthy economy and its positive impact on middle-class families, Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina said Wednesday in her first interview since her narrow defeat.”
 
It left Hagan looking like a losing Super Bowl quarterback who gives a locker-room interview and blames the loss on the coach’s lousy game plan.
 
Right or wrong, that’s not the note you want to hit – or the taste you want to leave on your way out.
 
As one prominent Democrat said on social media, “There are many reasons for Senator Hagan's loss. But if I am to lose, I would like it to be because of the principles I embrace rather than assigning it the lack of someone else's intervention or action.”
 
Of course, plenty of Democrats are quietly, or not so quietly, blaming Obama for her loss and losses all across the country. Others blame Hagan for “distancing” herself from the President.
 
Said one: “It would've been fascinating to have seen what would have happened if just ONE Democratic Senate candidate had whole-heartedly ran on Obama's record - which, in reality, is pretty damn good, especially considering where the country and the economy were when he took office. Once again, Democrats let the Republican propaganda machine define the issues for them.”
 
While not in response to Hagan’s interview, another person summed up this viewpoint: “Instead of running away from Obama I think we should of done the opposite. If we had we would definitely not lost Colorado and maybe not even North Carolina since Hagan only lost by 50,000 votes. If Obama had made the immigration speech before the election we would of had the turnout we needed.”
 
Another Democrat offered this: “One of the things I heard earlier this year from business people was that Hagan had reneged on promises she made to support certain legislation and changes in regulation. Her problem was that her support did not square with the administration’s position and they were putting pressure on her since they were pouring so much money into her campaign.
 
“I can’t tell if her change of position led to loss of votes but it certainly put her in the Obama corner with nowhere to turn.  It’s interesting to me that she didn’t inform the Obama people that she had the right to have her own opinion, and that Obama needed her more in the Senate than she needed his money. But he should invest in her anyway since she is way better than the alternative. Well, Obama now has the alternative several times over.”
 
It’s time to recall the wisdom of one of North Carolina’s greatest political minds, Bert Bennett: “When you win, everything you did was right. When you lose, everything you did was wrong.”

 

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05
Talk about a fellow being star-crossed – after the election as everyone took a deep breath and settled back peacefully for Thanksgiving the Governor, without a lot of hoopla,  quietly launched his reelection campaign, blanketing the Internet with a nice pleasant new video – then, the next day, an environmental group announced it had found a new coal ash spill (or leak) and this time the arsenic wasn’t pouring into a river that runs into Virginia.
           
The Southern Environmental Law Center reports its testing proves coal ash ponds at Duke Energy’s Buck Power Plant near Salisbury are (and have been) leaking vile chemicals into the Yadkin River and both Duke Power and the State (which by now has surely tested every coal-ash pond in existence) have hushed it up.
 
Meantime, while fate was unkind to the Governor, down the street in John Skvarla’s office the sun was shining.
 
Talk about good fortune: The day before the new spill (or leak) landed in the newspapers Skvarla resigned as head of DENR (the department in charge of coal ash) to become Secretary of Commerce.


 

 

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04

 

About two decades ago, WRAL and WTVD ran a story about a young woman, Beverly Jones, who’d donated one of her kidneys to her husband whose kidneys had failed.

Now usually, kidney donors have to be blood relatives – but not always and Beverly was the first unrelated kidney donor ever accepted by the transplant program at Duke.

Back then, Beverly and Stan lived next door to me and, in addition, Stan's mother Frances had worked for Jesse Helms for years, running his Raleigh office. I'd probably have been fired two weeks after I started working with Jesse if it hadn't been for Frances. But that's another story.

Today, the kidney Beverly gave Stan is failing and he’s been on a waiting list for a year, and sick, and he could still wait years – except for one hope: A program that reduces how long a person spends on a waiting list for a new kidney.

The program was started at Johns Hopkins back in 2001 and at Duke in 2011 and works like this: Say a person (like Stan) needs a kidney and has a donor (say, his brother) but the brother’s kidney is incompatible. It allows Stan and his donor to do a 'kidney-swap' with another family who’s in the same situation.

That sounds odd and improbable but when you consider there're 2,800 people in NC waiting for kidney transplants it's not that improbable at all.

So here's why I'm writing to my Honorable (and hard-pressed) friends in the Fourth Estate: What Stan needs is publicity – stories in the newspaper and on radio and on television about the ‘kidney swap program.’ I know that's a lot to ask but these are good folks and they're in a tough spot.
 
If you‘d like to lend a ‘helping hand’ by writing a story call me or email me (info@talkingaboutpolitics.com) and I’ll call you. Happy Christmas.


 

 

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04
Senator Kay Hagan ran a strong campaign, but her post-defeat critique of President Obama is weak.
 
Hagan told McClatchy’s Renee Schoof that Obama hurt Senate Democrats by not trumpeting the economy more loudly: “The president hasn’t used the bully pulpit to get that message out in a way that resonates with people. And I think that’s an issue that the Democrats should not cede.”
 
Her statement opens Hagan up to the counter-criticism that some Democrats already are making: She should have embraced Obama rather than distancing herself.
 
Neither argument is convincing.
 
Hagan’s campaign leaders probably would tell you that Obama’s job ratings were the main drag on her candidacy and that embracing him would have been akin to strapping on an anvil and jumping in the deep end.
 
Conversely, Hagan’s criticism ignores the reality that cheerleading a la Ronald Reagan is foreign to the President’s cool, cerebral style. Plus, would voters have bought it if he had tried to sell it?
 
Yes, as the Senator noted, gas prices are low; the stock market is at an all-time high and jobs continue to grow, far different from when she and Obama took office in 2009.
 
The problem for Democrats is that far too many voters – nearly all of them white and middle-class or working-class and many of them presumably Democratic-friendly women and young people – don’t see Democrats as the party of prosperity. They see a party that cares passionately about the poor and about minorities, but they ask: What about me?
 
Yes, they also see Republicans as the party of the rich. But maybe they think they too will get rich, or just richer, with Republicans.
 
Yes, race is part of this. But race doesn’t explain all of it.
 
Democrats must face the unpleasant fact that, since the history-making election of Obama (and Hagan) in 2008, the party has suffered defeat after defeat in three straight elections for U.S. Senate, Congress, governorships and state legislatures.
 
And be clear: To describe the “White Critique” above is not to praise it, embrace it or agree with it. Just recognize it as a fact, a fact the party can either ignore or confront.
 
That is the choice ahead in 2016.

 

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Carter & Gary
 
Carter Wrenn
 
 
Gary Pearce
 
 
The Charlotte Observer says: “Carter Wrenn and Gary Pearce don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues. But they both love North Carolina and know its politics inside and out.”
 
Carter is a Republican. 
Gary is a Democrat.
 
They met in 1984, during the epic U.S. Senate battle between Jesse Helms and Jim Hunt. Carter worked for Helms and Gary, for Hunt.
 
Years later, they became friends. They even worked together on some nonpolitical clients.
 
They enjoy talking about politics. So they started this blog in 2005. 
 
They’re still talking. And they invite you to join the conversation.
 
 
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