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The downtown hotel has hit a stumbling block – but not because City leaders decided it was a mistake to stick taxpayers with a $20 million bill to build a Marriott Hotel. Instead, the problem is stucco. That’s right, stucco. Councilman Thomas Crowder is raising all sorts of cain because the builders want to put stucco on the taxpayers’ hotel.

I’m not an architect (Crowder is) and I don’t know the advantages of, say, granite over stucco and Crowder may be dead right, stucco may stink. But it seems to me the City Council has missed the whole point. It’s not the stucco we don’t need – it’s the taxpayer subsidized hotel.

Maybe a miracle will happen and stucco will torpedo the whole project. (But, I’m afraid, it’s also possible – just to get rid of the stucco – the City Council will decide to give the Marriott folks more money.)

Posted in: General, Raleigh
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When I first heard about President Bush ‘wire taping’ calls (from U.S. citizens to overseas) I thought that sounded pretty bad – that the President shouldn’t just have the power to go out and wiretap calls made by American citizens anytime he wants to. Then I thought about the pictures on the Internet of hooded terrorists standing behind hostages holding swords and changed my mind. I thought, Well, if the President says has to have those wiretaps to catch those thugs that’s fine with me.

Then I read about the secret court the President can ask to approve secret wiretaps and how it’s approved, something like, 7000 wiretaps over the last twenty years and only turned down four. So, then, I was asking myself, if President Bush could have gotten those wiretaps that way why didn’t he? After all, if wiretaps are good to catch terrorists, wiretaps with a little oversight – and a little of ‘checks and balances’ built in – would be even better.

I still want President Bush to have those wiretaps. But I would also like him to explain why he doesn’t want to use that court. And it’s troubling that – so far – he hasn’t done that.

Posted in: General
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Ever wonder why the MBA presidency of George Bush seems so incompetent when it comes to managing government?

I’ve got a theory. But first, let’s review the evidence:

• “Heckuva job, Brownie” of FEMA and Katrina fame;

• The lack of armor for American troops in Iraq;

• The mess in the Medicare drug benefit program;

• And – my new favorite – the 24-year-old political appointee at NASA who tried to limit reporters’ access to a top climate specialist, then told a Web designer to add the word “theory” to every mention of the Big Bang. (This genius, George Deutsch, resigned after it was revealed he lied on his resume.)

Here’s the explanation. Like most things in life, as Hunter Thompson once said, it is deceptively quick and simple:

Republicans are miserable at running the government because they have nothing but contempt for government.

They love business. The bigger the better. And maybe some of them are good at running big and small businesses.

But how can they be good at running something they hate?

Democrats, of course, love government. To a fault. We study government, go to school to learn more about governing and dream at night about making government better. (Pathetic, isn’t it?)

Democrats take seriously the job of running government. Republicans don’t, and they’re lousy at it.

Posted in: General
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Wednesday’s New York Times has a front-page story about the problem I’ve blogged about: national Democrats’ ineptitude at challenging governmentally inept but politically skilled Republicans.

In the article, numerous Democrats concede the party has missed a golden opportunity while Bush & Co. fumbled and stumbled the past few months.

And they blame the party’s current talking heads: Kerry, Pelosi, Reid, Dean, Obama and Clinton. (That’s Hillary Clinton, whose tone-deafness was on dramatic display when she made the mistake of speaking after her husband at Coretta Scott King’s funeral.)

Democrats need two things:

• A leader with the ability of a Reagan or a Clinton (Bill) to articulate a message and a vision.

• A leader with the ability – which no Democrat has shown since JFK – to speak to national security concerns.

In the 1990s, Clinton united a party divided over domestic issues: the Jesse Jackson liberals and the DLC moderates.

But national security didn’t matter in those elections. It matters now.

It will be much tougher for a Democrat today to find a way to speak to both the party’s now-dominant peace wing and Americans concerned about national security.

It’s a daunting challenge. But the vacuum of politics usually creates that leader. Here’s hoping it happens again.

Posted in: General
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Bill Graham, the Republican John Edwards wanna-be, says he will spend $40,000 a week on TV ads opposing the 2.7-cent state gas tax increase.

I wonder if he will run ads attacking ExxonMobil for making $36 billion in profits last year – by raising the price of gas a bit more than 2.7 cents a gallon.

Posted in: General
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My choice: the refs.

Maybe Seattle didn’t get jobbed. And as an N.C. State grad, I’m glad to see Bill Cowher win.

But I hate to see the Super Bowl decided by the zebras’ close calls.

Posted in: General
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No matter what school bond issue faces Wake County voters this year, here is an issue I promise will come: illegal immigration.

You can see the Republican pollsters salivating right now.

Advance word is that one of the key issues President Bush will address in his State of the Union speech will be illegal immigration.,

Senator Richard Burr used it to beat Erskine Bowles in 2004.

And the right-wing talk network around here is already buzzing about illegal immigrants in the schools – the cost of students who can’t speak English and the like.

One little-known fact: Not all Democrats are sympathetic to immigrants. In fact, Democratic polls have shown that the most anti-immigrant opinions are held by the most pro-Democratic voters: African-Americans.

Posted in: General
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The N&O reported today that the downtown Raleigh Convention Center keeps getting more expensive. And the city-subsidized hotel keeps getting uglier.

The political hole is getting as deep as the construction hole.

Posted in: General, Raleigh
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Big-time political bloggers refer to the State of the Union speech as SOTU.

I call Tuesday night’s performance SSOTU: Sorry State of the Union.

Not just President Bush, but also the Democrats in Washington.

I’ve got three words for Bush’s performance: boring and small-bore.

It’s striking to see how far the once-“bold” Bush has fallen since SOTU a year ago.

Then he was riding high, spending his political capital and ready to overhaul both Social Security and the tax code.

This year his ideas are as weak as his rhetoric.

He’s shrinking before our very eyes. The so-called “Rebel in Chief” looks more and more like the ne’er-do-well prodigal son who has to be rescued by Daddy and Daddy’s friends over and over.

And what can be more ludicrous than the progeny of Bush Inc. and Big Oil Inc. calling for energy independence.

I just wish there was a single Democrat who was more compelling. But they look just as tiny – and sound just as tinny – in the wake of their debacle over the Alito nomination.

The Republican Alito strategists, unlike their President, knew what they were doing there. Democrats stumbled and bumbled so badly they had to shoot arrows into John Kerry when he made his ludicrous last stand.

Sadly, there is only one compelling and commanding Bush critic in Washington that I care to listen to. And he’s a Republican: John McCain.

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When I heard about ABC anchorman Bob Woodruff being injured in Iraq, I thought first about his wife and four children.

Then I thought about TV ratings.

The unpleasant truth is that Woodruff was sitting in that vehicle because ABC is desperately chasing evening-news ratings.

We all laugh when TV talking heads stand outside in hurricane-force winds.

This isn’t funny.

Posted in: General
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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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