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...Politics & Current Events In N.C.
Friday, January 23, 2004Comments[ ]
Today's highlighted entry:
The Fayetteville Observer thinks that the redistricting delay is out of hand.
The U.S. Department of Justice has before it a new, legislature-approved set of maps, and could end North Carolina's seemingly endless redistricting feud by approving or disapproving them within two weeks.
Tomorrow would be good.
The GOP has finally realized that its strategy of suing the state over the latest legislative redistricting maps will come at a dear price for Republican candidates. The delays caused by the party's lawsuits appear likely to push the May primaries back into summer, maybe as late as September. If that is the case, Republican nominees for governor and other statewide offices will be at a disadvantage come fall.
Last Friday, the party asked the N.C. Supreme Court to take control of the case to keep the May primaries on schedule. The party suggested two actions the court could take. The high court could order that legislative elections take place in 2004 using the same maps that the state used in 2002. Or the court could order that all primaries proceed as planned for May, with the exception of the legislative primaries. They'd be held some time in the future after the legal cases had been resolved.
The court should reject both options because, primarily, both would further send the N.C. Supreme Court into the legislative domain. It is not the court's job to set primary dates or the number of primaries. Nor is it the court's job to spend the money a second primary would cost. Those questions are answered in laws written by a legislative body. This three-year ordeal has already resulted in too much judicial activism by this so-called strict constructionist, conservative court without further violations of the separation-of- powers principle.
Thursday, January 22, 2004Comments[ ]
My news summary is up for the day. My highlighted entry:
Lake picks Martin to lead State Court of Appeals
Beverly Lake picked Judge Martin to be the next leader of the State Court of Appeals so the Raleigh News & Observer decided to run an endorsement. Or at least it sounds like an endorsement.
John Martin of Raleigh, a widely respected veteran judge and a former Durham City Council member, will be the next leader of the state Court of Appeals.
Boy it sure is a good thing that this is not a controversial decision or else leading an article with the vague term "widely respected veteran judge" would seem inappropriate.
But wait! There is controversy.
In selecting Martin, Lake departed from the custom of appointing the appeals court's officially most senior judge to the chief's post. He passed over Judge James Wynn, who has publicly criticized the Supreme Court's overhaul of the conduct rules for the state's judges last year.
The N&O then finishes by never mentioning the party affiliation of any of the people involved, and attributes the decision entirely to merit.
"In making this appointment," Lake said in a statement, "I have adhered to the criterion that I have always applied as the sole standard for selection in all appointments that I have made: determination of the person most qualified to perform and meet the challenges of the position and provide the best service."
The Associated Press has a different look.
Wednesday, January 21, 2004Comments[ ]
Well, for starters, we're the guys going to the Super Bowl. From a 1-15 season two years ago to whipping the favored Cowboys, the Rams and (how sweet it is) the Eagles on three successive weekends, the lovable Carolina Panthers have poleaxed pro football's prognosticators.
And we're the guys who watched our hometown boy kick some serious political booty in Iowa on Monday night. Raleigh's John Edwards, the small-town guy with the winning smile and the perfect hair who grew up in Robbins, has TV's talking heads all atwitter with his upset second-place finish in the caucuses. The kid really could go all the way.
Let's not forget Clay Aiken. Even if you don't like his flavor of sweet pop music, you have to love his infectious smile, his big heart and his genuine charm. He's the darling of everybody from blushing schoolgirls to giggling grandmas, yet he seems to take it all in with humility, gratitude and good humor.
Here is Monday’s column by John Locke founder and President, John Hood.
At the risk of generating a somewhat jarring mental image for you, try to picture these guys together in a room: Clay Aiken, John Edwards, and the Carolina Panthers.
Last year, Clay Aiken came from absolute obscurity, and from an initial loss in the "Idol" judging, to compete on one of the most popular television contests in the history of the medium. He actually came in second in the vote tally (remember that) but everyone knows that Aiken was the real winner of the year. His songs have topped the charts and his album made millions for himself and his label. Perhaps more importantly, Aiken prove to be a pleasant, classy, and mature young man who showed that nice guys can still prosper in a popular culture that so many have called so decadent. His was a Carolina story in many ways.
The Carolina Panthers, too, have come back from the football equivalent of a near-death experience (the 1-15 season two years ago) to win the NFC Championship Game over the Philadelphia Eagles last weekend and head to the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots. They did so not through extravagant trades or stunts but through hard work, determination, and a willingness to work with the talent available to find the right combination for success. Perhaps they, like Aiken, will fall short in the final point-count but end up as winners just for having gone so far against such long odds.
Which brings me to the impressive, perhaps even shocking, performance of Sen. John Edwards in the Iowa caucuses on Monday night. Stuck in single digits in the state for months, Edwards was able to translate a positive message, effective advertising, a calibrated center-left position in the race and on specific issues such as taxes and the war, and a lot of volunteers from North Carolina into a solid second-place showing, just a few points behind fellow Sen. John Kerry. Winning one-third of the vote in Iowa will surely help Edwards at least place in New Hampshire, refill his campaign coffers, and then go on to compete seriously in South Carolina and the other Southern and border states with early-February contests.
I admit that this probably could have occurred to both of these writers independently. I just wanted to throw it out there for consideration.
This is my favorite from today:
Publicity stunt statue removed: Robinson may be billed for work
In case you missed it, Winston-Salem City Councilman and Republican candidate for the 5th congressional district, performed a publicity stunt by putting a marker with the ten commandments in front of city hall. It was removed, but the ploy worked and the press is all over it.
City Manager Bill Stuart ordered the 1-ton marker removed, saying that it violates a city policy adopted in September that regulates the placement of honorary displays. He also said that the two-piece granite monument posed a danger to the public because it was not anchored to the ground and could topple.
The crew used a backhoe to lift the granite marker onto a truck, then hauled it away to the city yard, where Robinson picked it up a few hours later, using a rented flatbed truck.
The Winston-Salem Journal editorial page calls it what it is.
But constitutional debate isn't warranted here: Robinson lacked the council's or city's approval mandatory for placing such a monument, even though he said he paid its $2,000 cost. City Manager Bill Stuart was right to order its removal, and some of Robinson's fellow City Council members have good reason to be upset with his actions - again. They're busy enough trying to meet the serious needs of serious citizens without dealing with things silly and self-serving.
Robinson should now drop the matter. After all, he already got his 24 hours of nationwide news coverage -infinitely more than he could ever have bought with $2,000.
Robinson said Monday that he didn't know if all this free publicity would have any effect on his campaign. He might want to study the commandment on his monument that forbids bearing false witness.
The Wilmington Star was also not amused:
Perhaps, next time the bug bites, the gentleman will economize on a $20 poster that says, "Hi. I'm Vern Robinson and I'm running for Congress. Will spin futile hopes to the unwary in exchange for votes."
Tuesday, January 20, 2004Comments[ ]
Tonight during President Bush's State of the Union Address, come back to this thread for live coverage. As Bush gives his speech, we'll deliver the facts on Bush's record that belies the promises he'll be making.
Discuss Bush's speech in real time as you learn the truth about Bush's failed policies.
At most they give you some idea, and they definitely help with understanding the trajectory of public opinion. They are better than sticking your finger in the wind. But polling data needs to be interpreted by people with their feet firmly planted on the political realities on the ground. Today many people are learning that they need more grounding.
So my regular complaint that there are not enough public polling results out there for NC may be foolish. Perhaps it would be better to ask the guy in the lunch line what he thinks. Perhaps it would be better to do both.
But I still think that this poll in the Washington Post would be nice to have at the North Carolina level.
The survey found that, on the eve of his annual address to Congress, Bush continues to enjoy a huge advantage over Democrats on matters of national security, besting them by 2 to 1 in the fight against terrorism and by nearly as broad a margin on his handling of the conflict in Iraq.
But while Bush retains the support of nearly six in 10 Americans, the public believes Democrats would do a better job on domestic issues, such as the economy, prescription drugs for the elderly, health insurance, Medicare, the budget deficit, immigration and taxes. And Bush has lost the advantage on education policy he once enjoyed.
I think it offers a glimmer of hope to Democrats in North Carolina. It seems that Bush's invincibility does not reach into every issue area. But I think I'll check to see where my feet are standing before I venture to make a prediction.
In the meantime it will serve as a warm blanket as I watch with disgust another rollout of Bush's insane domestic agenda tonight.
Monday, January 19, 2004Comments[ ]
However, Edwards is causing me to jump for joy. As someone who is deeply committed to seeing the success of Democrats in North Carolina, NOTHING could be so good for us as having Sen. Edwards at the top of the ballot. Many pundits like to point out that he is not polling ahead of Bush in Carolina. I like to think about how much better he does against Bush than any other Democrat. Also...I've shaken his hand a few times, and the man is just good at what he does. If everyone in America could shake his hand for two minutes, he would win in a heartbeat. I cannot claim that I have been a committed supporter, but that is probably because I forgot that voters and not newspaper reporters determine elections. I am now actively taking a second look.
But the primary season has just begun, and I am enjoying the show. I may even try to get down to South Carolina. I guesse I will have to pick a candidate first.
Isn't democracy fun?
I loaded up the erskine blog using Netscape 5.1, and IT LOOKED CRAZY!! Text was all over the place, the frames were messed up. I think it is because that browser does not have the fonts I loaded up becaue 5.1 is so old. Is that a crazy idea