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29
Monday’s campaign-finance indictments gave everybody something.
 
Republicans, of course, are chortling over the potential problems for Governor Perdue. Although, notably, Reps. David Lewis and Skip Stam sounded cautionary notes over how hard it can be to interpret campaign laws. As well they should, for some Republican will get tripped up. Count on it.
 
Bill Faison gets an excuse to try to push the Governor out of the primary.
 
Governor Perdue, for her part, can say the DA made it clear she wasn’t involved. And her team’s message is full speed ahead: Put this behind us, focus on jobs and schools and, yes, she’s running.
 
But there are more stories to come – and maybe trials. The questions will keep coming, and the doubts will be there until she files for reelection.
 
Ultimately, just as fundraising lies at the heart of the Governor’s problems, fundraising will decide her future: Can she raise the money to run again?
 
Stay tuned.
 
(Full disclosure: I have been advising Peter Reichard on how to deal with the media coverage. So I won’t blog about the legal issues.)

 

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28
It sounds like a Seal Team Six operation: “As North Carolina Republicans tell it, the Obama for America volunteers stole in under cover of night and stayed, undetected — noticed belatedly only because of election results across the state.”
 
That’s the New York Times account – “Team Obama Gears Up for 2012” – of how this month’s elections here may foretell next year’s outcome.
 
The Times quoted Chris Sinclair, a strategist for Billie Redmond, the Republican candidate for mayor in Raleigh, as saying: “It was very scary. You don’t know what’s going on until you wake up after Election Day and go, ‘Oh my gosh, what happened?’”
 
Isn’t it amazing how political operatives always blame bad elections on their opponents’ nefarious doings? They never say: “Well, the voters have spoken.” It’s always: “Something funny happened.”
 
Of course, it’s not just Republicans. Before the elections, Democrats were finding the fingerprints of Art (“I Am Not an Heir”) Pope behind the 2010 election results.

 

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25
A year from now, Republicans or Democrats will be celebrating victory in the Presidential race. But a recent breakfast exchange suggests neither side is confident now:
 
A Republican: “Romney is bound to get the nomination, and he won’t excite the Republican base. Obama will win, he’ll carry North Carolina, and he’ll pull Perdue in with him.”
 
A skeptical Democrat: “All you have to do to excite the Republican base is ask them: ‘Do you want Obama to be a two-term President?’”
 
A hopeful Democrat: “Didn’t you see the McClatchy poll? By 2-1, voters say the bad economy isn’t Obama’s fault; he inherited it. Including 62 percent of independents.”
 
Skeptical Democrat: “I don’t see how a President who looks as weak and ineffectual as Obama can ever be reelected. The voters will forgive a lot, but weakness is something they won’t forgive. Especially in bad times.”

 

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23
It’s my favorite holiday. No presents, no carols, no decorating (until you start on Christmas), just food and family. Also, for me this year, some golf and the State basketball and football games.
 
It’s the quintessential American celebration.
 
Plus, it’s always on Thursday. So you get a guaranteed four-day weekend, or maybe five, or maybe just blow off Monday and Tuesday too and make it a whole week!
 
Which probably means that at some point you’ve got time to think about what you’re thankful for.
 
Among many other things, I’m thankful for the chance to do this blog, thankful for our readers, thankful for the TAPsters who bail me out when the well is dry, thankful for those of you who send my your thoughts and opinions and – even when you don’t agree with me – nearly always teach me something new.
 
Most of all, Gwyn and I are thankful that our son and daughter will be with us. As they get older and go out on their own, your dread the holidays to come when they’ll have their own traditions and holiday plans – that don’t include you.
 
This year, once again, our house will be a place of food, love and laughter. Many thanks for that.

 

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23
Here’s a TAPster’s interesting talk on the flap about how many job layoffs the legislature caused:
 
“Sometimes it's hard to tell who has better aim at their feet these days, the Democrats or the Republicans -- and whether there's anyone out there holding them accountable for their poor politics or obfuscating rhetoric.  The latest comes in the tug-of-war over just how many folks got tossed out of state government jobs.

“First, why would the state Budget Office -- run by the Democratic governor -- give a figure that they don't agree with, to a legislative committee without the qualifications or explanations that might bolster their point of view?  Second, why would Republicans, who run the legislature, not stand by their rhetoric on this point?  Rather than, as you put it in your post, say ‘look, it isn't as bad as you claim,’ they might have said – ‘this is just the tip of the iceberg for all of these taxpayer supported, do-nothing government hanger's-on.  If they have skills, they'll get jobs in the private sector, where we're working to grow jobs and opportunities.  We're going to continue to weed out all these unnecessary burdens on the taxpayer.’


“Now, of course there's the possibility that most of the folks being tossed out of government jobs actually worked hard, earned their pay and were doing things that were important and desired by taxpayers.


“Now, just what are the numbers?  There's a simple source -- the North Carolina Employment Security Commission -- the folks who have the job of keeping up with all of this kind of stuff.  And, rhetoric aside, in North Carolina much of state and local government spending is driven by the actions of the General Assembly, as it sets the state budget that other state agencies -- as well as public universities, community college and local school systems - depend upon. 

“So, what are those numbers?  Have your pick.  Let's start with NOT seasonally adjusted:
From September 2010 through September 2011, there have been 21,400 total government jobs lost in North Carolina.  What's that breakdown?  Well the folks at the ESC have that, too:
State Government: 12,000; (of that State Government/Education: 7,300)
Local Government: 10,000: (of that, Local Government/Education: 8,400)

“Don't like those?  Let's go with seasonally adjusted.
From September 2010 through September 2011, there have been 18,700 total government jobs lost in North Carolina.  What's that breakdown?:
State Government: 10,800
Local Government:  8,300

“And for folks seeking more spin, it could be argued that government, particularly state government, is the most significant driver of the state's unemployment challenges. Over the last 12 months (Sept. 2010 through Sept. 2011), total private employment, not seasonally adjusted, has INCREASED by 26,200, or seasonally adjusted, increased 28,400.

“All in all, plenty of real information for the propagandists on all sides to manipulate.”
 

 

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22
News that the investigation has been reopened into Natalie Wood’s death recalls what might have been.
 
As a young man, I had a serious case of the hots for Natalie. Some years later, around 1981 or so, she was in the Triangle filming “Brainstorm,” which would be her last movie.
 
Governor Hunt, then in his second term, was a relentless promoter of North Carolina for film-making. He planned a breakfast at the Mansion for the cast, which included Cliff Robertson (JFK in “PT 109”) and Christopher Walken (“more cowbell”).
 
I sprang into action. I went to Hunt and told him my feelings toward Natalie. He smiled: “Let me take care of it.”
 
Sure enough, I got an invitation to the breakfast. And the Governor arranged for me to sit beside her.
 
Not that my memory is all that sharp or anything, but she wore black slacks, black boots and a tight red sweater. She was surprisingly tiny, maybe about five-two, but still larger than life.
 
She was friendly, I was mesmerized by her brown eyes, and we chatted about – well, I don’t remember. I am reasonably certain that I didn’t do anything to embarrass myself or the Governor.
 
Then we parted. Had she only recognized the opportunity before her, she never would have been on that boat that dark night.
 
Instead, our ships passed in the morning.

 

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21
For all my digital-media enthusiasm, I still have one foot firmly planted in the old media world. Especially when I can spend a fine Sunday morning perusing the N&O and New York Times. And especially when it leads to a realization like yesterday’s:
 
North Carolina will have a war over fracking in 2012.
 
The N&O had a story about Republican State Sen. Bob Rucho’s trip to Pennsylvania's shale gas drilling region. Rucho said: "I was impressed with the best industry practices they've established. What we saw was green grass and cows grazing." Complaints are erroneous or exaggerated, the N&O quoted him as saying.
 
Democrats and environmentalists shot back that Rucho’s response is predictable "when your itinerary consists of only going on an industry-sponsored tour and meeting economic development officials instead of ordinary folks.”
 
Then read Sunday’s New York Times story about the same part of Pennsylvania: “Harvesting this gas promises either to provide Americans with a clean domestic energy source or to despoil rural areas and poison our air and drinking water, depending on whom you ask.”

The story was replete with residents’ disturbing accounts of sick children, sick animals and sickly smells.

 
A couple of weeks ago, Cullen Browder of WRAL went to Pennsylvania and reported on the divided reactions. His piece had footage of a woman lighting a match in her tap water, which she blamed on the fracking.
 
With central North Carolina a prime target for fracking, with Democrats looking for wedge issues, with environmentalists looking for fights they can win, you can safely predict a full-fledged political war is coming.
 

 

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19
Everybody’s talking about the 99 percent and the 1 percent. I’m interested in the 9 percent: the percentage of Americans that polls say approve of Congress’ performance.
 
Who are these people? What are thinking?
 
And what will the percentage be when the congressional budget supercommittee, as appears inevitable, fails to reach a Grand Bargain and stave off huge automatic spending cuts?
 
But maybe the 9 percent are on to something.
 
The criticism of Congress is that it has failed us, the American people, by not solving a budget crisis that someone as level-headed as Erskine Bowles says could shatter our economy.
 
But isn’t that failure a perfect reflection of us, the American people?
 
Our style – my Boomer generation, specifically – is to borrow whatever we need to buy whatever we want, even if we can’t afford it.
 
Isn’t that exactly what the federal government is doing? Borrowing whatever it needs to buy us exactly what we want: plenty of government goodies and no tax increases, to boot?
 
And when the reckoning comes, our answer is always that somebody else should get their program cut or their taxes raised, or that somebody ought to eliminate all those people on the government payroll who are wasting time and doing nothing – although we’re incapable of naming a single one of them.
 
We’ve got what we deserve. All 100 percent of us.

 

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18
The country’s up to our eyeballs in debt.
 
Congress is on the verge of cutting defense spending $600 billion.
 
And one way or another just about everybody in Washington is looking for ways to cut, cut, cut.
 
Except one fellow.
 
Barack Obama’s opening a new military base to defend…
 
…in Australia.
 

 

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18
Want to see how important North Carolina will be in the 2012 presidential race? Read this New York Times dive into how the Obama Administration backed...

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