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17
Brutal jailers locked mentally ill prisoners in ‘isolation cells,’ took their clothes and mattresses, and left them to sleep naked on the concrete floor – it sounds like a prison in Bangkok or Rangoon only it didn’t happen in Bangkok it happened in Raleigh. The wardens at Central Prison called it “therapeutic seclusion.”
 
Governor Perdue’s explanation at her press conference was even more disingenuous. The mess, she explained, wasn’t caused by jailers run amok or just plain meanness – it was caused by “budget cuts.”
 
Last year, Governor Perdue spent hundreds of millions of dollars in Obama Stimulus Money and tried to give a German company $100 million in incentive money to move to Bladen County. But the debacle at Central Prison, she chirrups, is due to lack of money.
 
Sometimes it’s hard not to wonder what world Beverly Perdue is living in. No one’s to blame. No one’s been fired. Because budget cuts drove them to it.
 

 

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17
Democratic oppo researchers should be reveling in what Dome called Pat McCrory’s “shout out” to Heather Lusordo:
 
“I just think unwarranted personal attacks against you hurt our democratic system. I feel for your and your family for what you had to go through.  I commend you for the courage to stand up to it. Regardless of whether you are Democrat or Republican, it doesn't make any difference to me. No one deserves some of the personal attacks you went through.”
 
That’s the kind of quote researchers will post on their walls.
Now, I don’t recall McCrory being offended by personal attacks against President Obama or Governor Perdue in 2008.
 
I do recall the same kind of whining from Democrats back in the 1980s when Carter, Tom Ellis and the Congressional Club were pounding Democratic candidates with negative attacks.
 
As for Lusordo, get real. If you get into politics today – especially a hot, high-profile race – you better expect somebody to comb through your past. If you worked in a gentlemen’s club, clothed or not, it’s going to be made public. If you make a questionable claim on your resume, it’s going to be made public. You’d better strap on your pads and helmet.
 
There’s no hiding anything. And neither party can – or should – claim otherwise.
 
So get a bulldog researcher to scour your past for your – before you opponent does.

 

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17
Today’s N&O story (“Data show fewer state layoffs”) puts pressure on Governor Perdue and legislative Democrats to show they weren’t crying wolf about Republican budget cuts. 
 
Republicans sounded delighted with the report that 1,630 people have been laid off: "’The wild allegation has been that 30,000 state jobs were going to be eliminated,’ said Sen. Richard Stevens, a Cary Republican and lead budget writer.”
 
Republicans said back then that the job losses would be about 18,000, including 3,000 vacant positions.
 
But a not-so-political observer at breakfast today put a different light on the story when she said: “So the Republicans are boasting that they laid off only 1,600 people? Sounds pretty callous to me.”

 

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16
Thanks to encouragement from my young mentors Nation Hahn and Luther Snyder – a Democrat and a Republican – I’m on Twitter now.
 
Here’s the link Follow me (I’m advised to say) @jgaryp. Follow Nathan and Luther, too. Follow all of my followers. Follow the yellow brick road.
 
Twitter makes the highest use of all my talents and experience: being a smart-ass all day long.
 
With Twitter, I can expose more people to the keen analysis and profound insight in this blog.
 
Best of all, it’s like having a constant news IV whenever you need a transfusion. Follow Twitter, and you’ll know everything that’s going on in every subject you care about.
 
This is exactly why Al Gore invented the Internet.

 

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15
There’s something about Mitt Romney that Republicans just can’t love. Their nomination fight is a series of anti-Mitts rising in the polls, then self-destructing.
 
First there was Michelle Bachmann. She scared everybody. Then Rick Perry. But he can’t even remember his own proposals. Then Herman Cain. But he allegedly can’t keep his hands off women.
 
The flavor of the week, apparently, is Newt Gingrich. But, as Jon Stewart memorably put it, Newt has a terminal case of “dickness.”
 
Maybe Rick Santorum is next. It’ll never be Jon Hunstman: too moderate and too Mormon – that is, too Mitt.
 
I’ve enjoyed the spectacle, and I’ve pulled for every anti-Mitt. Because I think he’s the only one who can beat Obama.
 
But a Republican friend says Romney wouldn’t excite the Republican base. He thinks Obama and Governor Perdue would both win reelection if Romney is the candidate.
 
Also, Romney is a walking flip-flop. The Obama team is already working on the ads.
 
Mitt has another problem. Read the New York Times story about Romney’s Bain Capital business career, specifically involving a medical products company, Dade International.
 
Here’s the gist: Romney/Bain bought Dade, fired 1,700 workers, ran up hundreds of millions in debt, sold out and pocketed millions of dollars in profits. Then Dade went bankrupt.
 
Now, that’s my shorthand version. I’m sure Romney has his. Good luck.
 
I’m liking him more and more.
 

 

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14
Here’s an interesting twist on the Wake school board outcome.
 
A Republican friend (not the same one who contributed the item below; I actually have many Republican friends) says Ron Margiotta was an unintended victim of the Republican-run school board redistricting.
 
Here’s the back story: Deborah Goldman demanded that the redistricting plan move three heavily Republican precincts from Margiotta’s district to hers.
 
Otherwise, Margiotta & Co. feared she would vote against their school-assignment plan. After all, she had slipped off the reservation before.
 
She got the precincts, and she voted for the plan.
 
With those three precincts in his district, my friend believes, Margiotta would have won reelection. He would still be chairman and still command a 5-4 majority.

 

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14
A Republican friend in Wake County offers this take on last week’s election:
 
“The Republicans were doomed from the start on this election for school board. It was over before it started. 
 
“Definitely they earned an ‘F’ in PR, Message, and Branding of their board.  Us GOP’ers wished Tedesco would have just went away. He is an embarrassment. I do think, though, that Rev. Barbour’s protests and arrests made it more of a spectacle – and that did bring race into it.  We knew this going in – it was a huge uphill battle.  I gotta hand it to the outside groups, it was a good strategy and it worked, but not as well as one might think.
 
“I will be interested to see in January when the next reports are due on how much and who gave to the outside groups on both sides. The Democratic Party outspent the GOP on GOTV this time…by a large margin.  The Wake GOP was very underfunded this time around.
 
“In Losurdo’s race there just wasn’t much of a vetting process….sigh.
 
“We did gain more votes on the runoff than Hill, but he got more overall."

 

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11
This Veterans Day, I salute my stepfather, Joe Dickerson of Murfreesboro, N.C.
 
Joe was a country kid who had never been farther than Richmond when the Army shipped him to England to train for D-Day. He was in the first wave at Omaha Beach. His regiment – 116th Infantry, 29th Division – lost more than 800 officers and men.
 
Did you find it horrifying to watch Saving Private Ryan, especially the D-Day scene? That was Joe.
 
Joe fought across France and Belgium for four months, through the hedgerows, St. Lo and Cherbourg. He was wounded five times, finally so badly they shipped him home for months of recovery and rehab. He was awarded a Bronze Star and a Silver Star.
 
Joe’s a quiet, modest man. In an unpublished memoir that he dictated, here’s how he described one combat action the morning after D-Day:
 
“After we got up the hill and started to advance, there were a lot of Germans dug into trenches. We had to get them out of the trenches, and we had a little hand-to-hand fighting there and that was where I got my first Purple Heart. I got a little cut on the hand. It wasn’t much, and I got a patch over it and went back to fighting.”
 
Hold up. You want to say, “Joe, pardon me. ‘A little hand-to-hand fighting’? ‘A little cut on the hand’? ‘It wasn’t much’?”
 
After the war, Joe became a successful merchant. He and my father were close friends. My father helped him write the memoir.
 
Joe was left a widower after his wife died. My father died in 2005. Joe and my mother Becky began seeing each other. They got married two years ago. Now they spend a lot of time travelling around the country and the world. They are very happy together.
 
So Joe is doubly a hero to me: for what he did 67 years ago and for how good he is to my mother today.
 
I salute him and all veterans.

 

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10
A TAPster says Rep. Nelson Dollar this week in effect admitted that Governor Perdue was right about Medicaid:
 
“Republicans in the General Assembly finally acknowledged their mistakes in the DHHS budget on Tuesday. Now they should reverse the damage their budget is doing to our schools too.

“Their DHHS budget created a $139 million hole in Medicaid because they made extremely unrealistic assumptions about potential cost savings. Their budget contemplated that if sufficient cost savings didn't materialize in other places, they would try to get savings by making sharp cuts to provider rates and sharp cuts to optional services for needy people. On Tuesday, Rep. Dollar acknowledged that these steps would cause severe pain. Despite what he wrote in the budget, on Tuesday he said, ‘We are not going to cut services, and we are not going to cut rates’ to make up the hole.

“It's great that the General Assembly has acknowledged the pain their budget would inflict in terms of health care for the needy. I hope they take steps to undo the pain that their education cuts are causing too. In terms of education, their budget:
  • “slashed our investment in K-12, which led to the loss of thousands of teachers and teachers’ assistant positions;
  • “made deep cuts to early childhood education, including Smart Start and NC Pre-K (formerly known as More at Four); and 
  • “eviscerated funding for public universities, which has have forced the university system to lay off more than 3,000 people.
“Kudos to the General Assembly (at least Rep. Dollar) for recognizing their mistakes in health care, I hope they come to the same conclusion about education.”
 

 

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10
The Wake school board election blazes Governor Perdue’s best – and maybe only – path to reelection: Save our schools from the Tea Party.
 
John Tedesco & Co. charge that Democrats somehow played dirty by airing Heather Losurdo’s stunning lack of credentials. They’re going for the cape and missing the bullfighter.
 
Tedesco & Co. made a fatal mistake when they plunged the schools into a raucous free-for-all. They had a chance to carry out their 2009 agenda, but they overreached. They tried to do too much too fast and with a too-heavy hand.
 
They got blamed for the polarization and divisiveness. Parents grew worried that the turmoil would hurt the quality of their kids’ schools. And nothing gets parents more up in arms.
 
Anthony Tata cooled passions, but it was too late. And the Tedesco-Tea Party crowd couldn’t for the life of themselves shut up. Then they backed a badly flawed candidate. The result: They lost two districts that had been redrawn in their favor.
 
The lesson for Governor Perdue is clear. Position herself as the only person standing between the Tea Party and North Carolina’s schools.
 
That puts Pat McCrory in a box. He can’t distance himself from the Tea Party. And he can’t alienate his Charlotte media market base – suburbanites who care deeply about their kids’ schools, just like the Raleigh voters who decided this week’s election.
 
McCrory’s edge with independent voters, which is the reason he’s leading Perdue in polls today, will disappear if the traps him on the wrong side of this fight.

 

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