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02

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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02

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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02

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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01

Gary, with all due respect, I believe I’ll pass on defending (see post below) the drug companies. Have at ‘em with my best wishes.

Posted in: General
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01

Sometimes – though I feel a bit queasy about it – I think the liberals may have a point about the oil companies. The New York Times reports that while gasoline and natural gas prices have soared, big oil royalty payments for oil and gas pumped from publicly owned lands is little more than it was five years ago. In fact, the Times reports, if Royalty payments had kept track with market prices, the government would have received $700 million more.



It seems that federal regulations lobbied for, fiercely defended and in part written by oil companies allowed them to tell the Interior Department they received lower sales prices for natural gas – than they told their own shareholders. As a result, they paid lower royalties. And as a result, they paid lower royalties. And as a result, taxpayers – technically the owners of the U.S. oil and gas reserves – get stiffed.


In fact, this happened once before, five years ago, about royalty payments for oil. Back then, oil companies paid a total of $438 million to settle charges they’d understated their sales prices for oil. But since then the Bush administration ‘loosened’ the rules for natural gas.


Maybe next time they should let someone who heats their home with natural gas help write the regulations.

Posted in: General
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27

Well, there’s good news on corruption – sort of. The folks over at the Civitas Institute have taken a statewide poll and asked voters which party is more corrupt – Democrats or Republicans.



So, who wins?


Well, when it comes to corruption right here in North Carolina:



25% say Republicans are more corrupt (which puzzling because Republicans haven’t had the power to be corrupt in years).


And 22% say Democrats.


Now the good news: 37% say both.


And what about Washington?



21% said Democrats in Washington are more corrupt (they must remember Clinton selling sleepovers in the Lincoln bedroom).


And 27% said Republicans.


More good news: 40% said both.


So, we’ve got 84% of the voters saying ‘someone’ is corrupt in Raleigh? And, even more, 88% saying ‘someone’ is corrupt in Washington. And there’s an election in ten months.

Posted in: General
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27

Oprah Winfrey already had become the most powerful bookseller in the world.



Her endorsement – and an appearance on her show – guaranteed an author fame and fortune.


Now she’s become even more powerful – by eviscerating (one report said “emasculating”) lying author James Frey on national TV.


She also scolded publishers for publishing memoirs made up of made-up stuff.


My bet is you’ll see publishers – and top-notch book reviewers like the N&O’s Peder Zane – operating under new rules.


Call them the Oprah Rules.

Posted in: General
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27

Well, there’s good news on corruption – sort of. The folks over at the Civitas Institute have taken a statewide poll and asked voters which party is more corrupt – Democrats or Republicans.



So, who wins?


Well, when it comes to corruption right here in North Carolina:



25% say Republicans are more corrupt (which puzzling because Republicans haven’t had the power to be corrupt in years).


And 22% say Democrats.


Now the good news: 37% say both.


And what about Washington?



21% said Democrats in Washington are more corrupt (they must remember Clinton selling sleepovers in the Lincoln bedroom).


And 27% said Republicans.


More good news: 40% said both.


So, we’ve got 84% of the voters saying ‘someone’ is corrupt in Raleigh? And, even more, 88% saying ‘someone’ is corrupt in Washington. And there’s an election in ten months.

Posted in: General
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26

Bush/Rove think they’ve turned some good political judo on the Democrats over the eavesdropping battle.



(Political judo is when you turn your opponent’s strength into his weakness.)


Washington Dems thought they had Bush on the run when the New York Times revealed the eavesdropping program.


Now Bush/Rove have gladly taken up the fight. They’ve served notice they’re going to repeat what they did to Kerry in ’04: Turn the debate into whether you’re for or against the terrorists.


Maybe it’s time for some Demo judo.


My old boss Jim Hunt was a master at it. When Republicans took over the state House in 1994, they thought they had him trapped politically because they wanted to cut taxes. What did Hunt do? He proposed a bigger tax cut than the Republicans did.


And he agreed with one of their proposals: veto power for the Governor. So they had to give it to him – something the Democrats never would do.


Here’s what the Washington Dems should say:



• The problem isn’t that Bush is going too far in the fight against terrorism. He’s never gone far enough.


• He wouldn’t need to spy on Americans if he’d caught Osama and crushed al-Qaeda in the first place.


• Before 9/11, he was too busy clearing brush on his ranch to take seriously the warnings against Osama.


• After freezing like a deer in the headlights and flying all over the country looking for a safe place to land, he started right: He attacked Osama and the Taliban where they lived in Afghanistan.


• But he let them get away. And he started a war far away in a country that had nothing to do with Osama.


• It’s time to get smart, get tough and get serious about this war. And Bush has shown time and again he can’t.

Posted in: General
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26

Voters are hearing a lot of talk from politicians these days in Washington about lobbying reform. Both parties have presented packages to ‘clean up the mess’ and though the Democrats say they’re going a little further than Republicans, basically, both parties are saying the same thing, they want to curtail gifts and travel paid for by lobbyists – and other perks.



But all this is lip-service. Neither party has proposed to do the one thing that would make the most difference: prohibit lobbyists from raising money for politicians and giving money to politicians.


Why not? It’s hard to believe there’s any reason but that the politicians want to go on getting the money. Banning trips and lobbyist paid junkets and fine dining is fine but the real money – and the real corruption – is in the contributions lobbyists give to and raise for campaigns. If the politicians – in both parties – really want to drive a stake through corruption, that’s the place to start.


The problem is giving up a few dinners and junkets are one thing, giving up a hundred thousand or a million dollars for your reelection campaign is something else.

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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