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24
I keep thinking sooner or later it will turn out there’s nothing to one of these scandals involving Mike Easley – but he’s back in hot water.
 
According to the News and Observer here’s the prelude to Easley getting a $137,000 discount on a beach front lot: Easley’s aide Ruffin Poole 1) calls a top state environmental official to get government permits for developer Gary Allen’s project; 2) the government starts granting Allen permits left and right; 3) a week later Easley plunks down $5,000 for a deposit on a beachfront lot; 4) six months later Easley closes on the lot and Allen gives him the discount – which Easley forgets to report to the Ethics Commission.
 
But at least, at last, Governor Easley’s done something logical – he’s hired Joe Cheshire, the best criminal lawyer in North Carolina.
 

 

 

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24
You know, I thought all this foo-fah over in Copenhagen was about the ice caps melting – but I was dead wrong.
 
Now there’s not much doubt with every bone in his Ivy League educated body President Obama sincerely believes if we don’t do something – now – by 2050 Manhattan Island is going to be under water and Wall Street will be a canal – but it looks like what happened in Denmark is Third World countries in search for plunder figured out asking the President to give them money so they can build green industries is as good a cash cow as they’ve seen in awhile and when they got mad and walked out of the summit what was really bothering them was the good ole USA’s failure to fork over the cash – and it worked. Because the President pledged to give countries like Sudan and Bangladesh $100 billion to build green economies but, of course, most likely the cash will end up in some warlord’s or dictator’s Swiss bank account.
 

 

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23
A fellow’d rather be wrestling a swamp full of alligators than to be in the new School Board Chairman Ron Margiotta’s shoes. The board’s only met twice and Margiotta’s already been ripped and torn by our local up in arms, mad as Comanche liberals.
 
What Margiotta’s done to get local liberals upset is trampling on one of their sacred principles: ‘Diversity.’
 
Diversity goes right to the bone of what a liberal believes and he’ll fight for it tooth and nail and in the process, it appears from the school board meetings, he’ll have more fun being morally indignant then he can bear.
 
The fireworks started the minute Margiotta’s gavel hit the desk at the board’s last meeting and announced he wanted to hire lawyer Tom Farr to be the new board’s attorney. No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the former chairman gasped – My God, he’s a Republican.
 
Apparently, when it comes to diversity Republican lawyers (who are a minority) have no rights at all.
 
Next, maybe realizing he’d been indiscreet the former Chairman recovered and explained, I mean he’ll be too partisan.
 
The law firm the former Chairman hired to handle the board’s legal work is headed by former Democratic Party Chairman Wade Smith, a fine fellow and excellent lawyer who’s as partisan a Democrat as you’ll ever meet.
 
Well, the meeting simmered along then Margiotta took another tiny step toward putting a stop to busing students for diversity and, right off, a lady stood up and wailed, Don’t take us back 40 years.
 
Ma’am, I wish it was possible but it just ain’t. Urbanization and getting rich have killed the Old South. We had a better chance at winning the Civil War than we have at turning the clock back to the 1960s.
 
Then another liberal stood up and let fly and accused Margiotta of turning the clock back ever further, saying he was a throwback to the ‘Jim Crow and racist past.’
 
That had to puzzle Margiotta who’s from New Jersey and Italian and probably never figured he’d get compared to Theodore Bilbo.
 
One other thing is truly amazing about these liberals: How they march in lockstep. How when it comes to their ideology they’re not diverse at all. They form a phalanx and grim-faced start marching, and watching them you can’t help but get the feeling they’re ready to treat their opponents the way the Inquisition treated witches – burning at the stake.
 
And if I had to bet, I’d bet they are going to win – because when they’re done demonstrating and raising Cain and having what amounts to a good old-fashioned hissy fit they’ll have raised such a tempest voters will want to get shed of the whole thing so they can have a moment’s quiet and if the price of peace is voting out the school board they’ll figure it beats the alternative.
 

 

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23
Young Cal Cunningham seems to have a future in politics or, rather, he may be a real politician – example his latest email; he urgently writes:
 
“I can’t believe it. This morning Senator Richard Burr voted against funding our troops…as hundreds of Marines at Camp Lejeune held tearful farewells…as they prepared to ship out to Afghanistan.”
 
Cal goes on to add Richard Burr also doesn’t want our troops to have body armor or armored vehicles;¾so, according to young Cal, his opponent in the Senate race is a wicked knave who wants to abandon our troops in Afghanistan, leaving them stranded without a dime and without body armor; I doubt people will be any more likely to believe that than they were to believe another North Carolina politician when she said Kay Hagan was an atheist.
 
In fact what Senator Burr did was vote against a Defense Appropriations bill loaded with pork after saying Congress ought to fund the military and forget the pork.
 
Last fall Elizabeth Dole reaffirmed the principle in most campaigns it’s not what your opponent does to you, it’s what you do to yourself that defeats you and young Cal Cunningham’s proved the point again.
 
Richard Burr ought to be thanking his lucky stars – he may be the luckiest politician on earth.
 

 

 

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23
I’m going to take a few days off from blogging to enjoy Christmas with my family at Nags Head. Along with our two dogs, my 90-year-old mother-in-law, visits with my mother and my new stepfather and my 106-year-old grandmother (that’s no misprint; she’s 106), various in-laws, much food and cheer and – if my brother-in-law and I are blessed with some decent weather – a little golf.
 
First, indulge me in a seasonal reflection.
 
This Christmas, I’m struck by how Christmas has become a political debate – over “community trees,” manger displays and even whether to say “Merry Christmas.”
 
The debate – like many – emphasizes what divides us and obscures what unites us.
 
Even ancient pagans found something special about this time of year.
 
They celebrate the return of the light. Christians celebrate Jesus as the light of the world. Quakers vow to keep you in the light. Buddhists came from Buddha – the “enlightened one.”
 
So, whatever you call it, celebrate the light your way. And let everybody else celebrate it their way.
 
Merry Christmas to you all.

 

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22
I guess no one in Raleigh has spent more time pouring over a the lore of North Carolina politics than Rob Christensen and if you want to read the best stories about our politicians’ foibles go to the bookstore and buy his book, The Paradox of Tar Heel Politics.
 
When the new school board met and hired lawyer Tom Farr as its legal counsel, Rob remembered a story going back fifty years, about how way back in the 1950s Governor Luther Hodges appointed Farr’s senior partner, Tom Ellis, to the Pearsall Commission and put him to work figuring out how North Carolina was going to deal with integration.
 
Now race is a sticky wicket any time in Southern politics and the further back you go the stickier it gets and back in the 1950s a lot of folks – like Tom Ellis – didn’t cotton to the idea of integration.
 
In his column Rob went on to tell another story about how, later, Tom Ellis went on to become “North Carolina’s last political boss” shepherding Jesse Helms through his Senate elections and electing Ronald Reagan and John East and Lauch Faircloth and, how, along the way, one time Mr. Ellis landed in hot water because he’d served on the board of a foundation that studied eugenics.
 
Now that all happened just the way Rob tells it. And he’s got a good (if ironic) point that fifty years ago folks were fighting over integration and now they’re fighting over ‘diversity’.
 
But there’s another story – about Tom Ellis – that adds to the picture.
 
Back in 1984, when Senator Helms was running against Jim Hunt, it was Tom Ellis who hired the first African-American – Claude Allen – to work in the Helms organization. And on election night, after Helms defeated Jim Hunt, it was Mr. Ellis who urged Helms to use his victory speech to reach out to African-Americans. And, a few years later in the late 1980’s, it was Tom Ellis who persuaded Jesse to offer Mississippi Civil Rights leader James Meredith a place on his Senate staff.
 
My point is when it comes to race a lot of Southerners are walking contradictions and if we figure our friends ought to come with round smooth edges and always be consistent – well, more often than not they’re going to throw us a curveball and prove human nature is nothing if not complex.
 

 

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22
Down at the Charlotte Observer they’re lamenting – editorially – about the state using no bid contracts to buy $200,000 in equipment from Senate Democratic Leader Tony Rand’s company. (They also point out Governor Perdue, former Governor Easley, the former Secretary of Transportation and the former head of the Division of Motor Vehicles all own stock in the company.)
 
But what about Governor Perdue’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, Lanier Cansler, giving out $250 million in no bid contracts? He’s given no bid contracts to his former clients, his former lobbying firm’s clients, and companies partnered with his wife’s lobbying firm’s clients.
 

 

 

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22
It turns out the eminence grise behind the $30 million no-bid contract to Prodigy Corporation (whose owners – Ramzi Abuldhai and Rich Admanj – were found guilty of patent stealing, went bankrupt and then were accused of transferring millions out of the bankrupt company to hide their assets from creditors) is Secretary Lanier Cansler’s aide Craigan L. Gray.
 
It also turns out Gray, who’s both a doctor and a lawyer, gets downright testy whenever anyone questions his judgment. For instance, when one of Prodigy’s competitors complained about Gray not letting them bid on the contract Gray barked, “Isn’t it interesting that Roche [the competitor] was very willing to bill ‘full’ price to Medicaid and had no complaint until an enterprising competitor underpriced them.”
 
And, a month later, when asked if he’d bothered to check out Prodigy’s background before he gave them the contract Gray growled he’d looked at one of their contracts with another state then snapped, “I did not find a ‘moral turpitude’ clause in the contract; however, if such a clause were evenly applied across state government it may have interesting results.”
 
This fellow needs an attitude adjustment.
 
They’re fair questions and deserve a better answer than a sarcastic brush-off from doctor, lawyer Gray.
 
Gray made a mistake and ought to admit it instead of biting people’s heads off – which leaves the ball squarely in the Governor’s court.
 
Governor Perdue, your Medicaid Director won’t revoke the Prodigy contract and put it out for open bids:  Will you?
 

 

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22
President Obama and the Democrats are doing a better job ramming health-care reform through the Senate than explaining it.
 
They should try this message: 31 million.
 
That’s the number of uninsured Americans who will get health insurance over the next decade because of the bill. That’s not Democratic rhetoric. That’s from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
 
The cost? Well, the CBO says the bill will CUT the deficit.
 
Only a Republican could fuss, fume and fulminate because 31 million fellow Americans will get better health care.
 
Instead of worrying that society is losing the true meaning of Christmas, Republicans should practice what Jesus preached.
 

 

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22
Are Washington Republicans learning from Wake County Republicans?
 
Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, a leading opponent of the health-care reform bill, said Sunday: “What the American people should pray is that somebody can’t make the vote.”
 
Democrats protested that Coburn was wishing misfortune on a Senator.
 
Maybe Coburn was just hoping that – a la the WakeCounty commissioners – a Democrat will go to the bathroom long enough to let Republicans prevail.
 
Given the heavy-handed rule of Republicans when they ran Congress, they hardly have room to squawk now.
 
Harry Reid’s strategy is bold and brutal: We’ve got the votes, and we’re going to pass the bill.
 
It’s about time Democrats showed some ruthlessness.

 

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