View Archive

Entries for March 2010

31
Aside from death-penalty cases, it’s the toughest decision governors make.
 
And that’s so regardless of whether they are Republican or Democrat, named Holshouser, Hunt, Martin or Perdue.
 
The dilemma: A gubernatorial appointee is accused of an ethical – or even criminal – violation.
 
Immediately, the media demands that heads roll. Political opponents pounce.
 
Then the governor hears from the other side: the appointee and his or her friends.
 
Most always, the appointee is a friend and supporter. He or she gave money. Or even hosted an event in their home for the governor.
 
They say: “The media is making a mountain out of a molehill. You need to stand by your people, Governor. A person is innocent until proven guilty.”
 
But the media, political opponents and much of the public assume the opposite: guilty until proven innocent. There is an automatic assumption that anyone in politics is by definition corrupt.
 
“Just another example of the pay-to-play culture,” the righteous thunder. As though a governor should only appoint people who oppose his or her policies – or are agnostic. Heaven forbid you put someone in public office who might be committed to your priorities.
 
What’s worse, it’s tough for the governor to ferret out the facts. The appointee and friends tend to cover up. Their opponents leak damaging information in the most damaging way.
 
And, in today’s hurry-up, 24-hour news cycle, there is little patience for deliberation and fact-finding.
 
But, in politics, you only find sympathy in the dictionary, and you know where. That’s why governors get paid the big bucks and live in the big house.
 

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (12) RSS comment feed |

30
Governor Perdue waltzed over to Rex Hospital the other day and held a good old-fashioned photo-op (to boost her once again sagging poll numbers) and standing right there in front of the operating room in front of the cameras she morphed into Jesse Helms – announcing that one way or the other, come heck or high water she’s going to kick the cheats off Medicaid.
 
Now in one way Madame Governor’s come up with a brilliant stratagem – I can’t see one Republican criticizing her for booting the charlatans off Medicaid. But, on the other hand, a lot of the folks in her own party may be shocked by her reincarnation as Jesse Helms. Plus, when you get right down to it this whole affair looks suspicious.
 
For instance, Governor Perdue never mentioned a Medicaid fraud crisis until a few days ago. The whole thing came on like a sudden spring storm. It didn’t exist a year ago. Cynics may also wonder if the fraud crisis didn’t blossom as a result of the budget crisis and Secretary Lanier Cansler passing out $250 million in no bid contracts to his friends. The Secretary and the Governor overspent and now somebody has to pay the piper and laying the blame on Medicaid cheats sounds fine – except for one problem.
 
For some time the Governor and Secretary Cansler have been telling folks 45% of the Home Care Medicaid patients are cheats: Then, last month, Cansler finished running his analysis to remove the cheats and found out he was wrong: Cansler’s own study showed just 1% of the patients were skizzlers.
 
And there’s another small glitch – that may turn into a big and costly hole – in the Governor’s Plan: She’s hired “Big Blue” – IBM – to implement her Medicaid purge. According to the Governor, IBM’s going to run a computer program and tell her who’s cheating and she’s going to pay IBM 10% of whatever money the state saves once the scoundrels are cut. Which sounds like a good deal for taxpayers.
 
Except, unfortunately, the state’s contract with ‘Big Blue’ doesn’t say exactly what the Governor claimed at her press conference. In fact, IBM will get 10% every time what’s called a recoupment letter goes out – and IBM gets paid, quote, “irrespective of whether DMA [the state Medicaid department] actually recoups the money.”
 
In other words the state could recoup nothing – but still owe ‘Big Blue’ 10%. Which could turn out to be a mountain of cash.
 
Which leaves me wondering, puzzled, which would be worse news? Learning Medicaid is riddled with fraud and we’ve been skizzled for years. Or finding out it’s not – but having to pay IBM anyway.
 

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (7) RSS comment feed |

30
Several months ago, Governor Perdue summoned North Carolina business executives to an emergency phone call. The subject was a mystery. But when the Go...

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (9) RSS comment feed |

29
A wise old Democrat told me recently that Bev Perdue’s biggest problem is: “She’s broken too many promises.”
 
The recession and the budget crater are mostly to blame. She’s had to disappoint her friends in education, health care, aging services and mental health.
 
But her promise to run an ethical administration doesn’t cost any money.
 
So she can’t be happy with Sunday’s front-page N&O headline: “Perdue falls short on ethics vow.”
 
I believe she is getting a raw deal on the campaign-finance issues that Tom Fetzer is trumpeting. She’s been open, aggressive and forthcoming there.
 
But that approach hasn’t carried over to appointees in her administration. Which is understandable. They are, by definition, supporters and contributors.
 
But she set herself up by making a sweeping promise – one that she found hard to keep.
 

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (9) RSS comment feed |

26
Having just admitted (below) one mistake I will risk committing another – except this time I am going to say the following is 100% conjecture. It’s all theory. No facts.
 
The other day I was having lunch with a group of friends and the flap on the Wake County School Board came up and I said, Well, diversity is a sort of sacred cow to liberals – so of course they’re outraged.
 
Now in every group there’s one cynic and this time he was sitting right next to me. He turned in his chair, stared at me a moment and said, You’ve got that wrong. Or, at least, the liberals aren’t worried about the kind of diversity you’re talking about.
 
I said, Explain that.
 
Here’s my cynical friend’s explanation. He said: 1) A lot of the school children being bused in Wake County are African-American children who live inside the Beltline – who’re being bused to schools outside the Beltline; 2) When busing ends and those children are allowed to attend the schools nearest their homes, as a result the racial makeup of schools inside the Beltline will change, gaining a higher ratio of African American students.
 
All that moral outrage you’re talking about, my friend concluded, is nothing more than good old-fashioned self-interest.
 
Now, as I said, I have no idea if my friend’s theory is correct – but I’ve reached the age where I’m ready to believe human nature is capable of no end of duplicity. So who knows? If anyone out there has actually studied the facts and figures about who gets bused where in Wake County write in and share the statistics – then, maybe, we can figure out if the brouhaha is about sanctimony or self-interest.
 
 
 

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (18) RSS comment feed |

26
This will come as no surprise to my wife, children or friends but I have made a mistake – the other day I wrote a blog and said State Representative David Lewis voted for Richard Morgan and Jim Black on the final vote for Speaker in 2003. That was dead on 100% wrong. Representative Lewis – as he has politely pointed out – voted for George Holmes. My apologies to David.

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (3) RSS comment feed |

26
Extremism in the defense of liberty may or may not be a vice, but it’s a good way to lose elections. And it may be how Republicans blow their chance at a game-changer in November.
 
Judging from their hysterical reaction, the stories about threats and violence have touched a raw nerve among Republicans.
 
They realize that the Tea Party monster they fed could end up eating them.
 
In Utah, Senator Robert Bennett – a rock-ribbed conservative – may not be conservative enough.
 
In Florida, Charlie Crist is getting slaughtered.
 
In Arizona, John McCain is in so much trouble from the right he needs Sarah Palin’s help. That must make him grumpier than usual.
 
This election is the Republicans’ to lose. They may just find a way.

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (17) RSS comment feed |

25
In Washington, Republicans vow to fight on against health-care reform.
 
In WakeCounty, school-diversity supporters vow to fight on against the new board’s reassignment plans.
 
In Washington, reform opponents marched on the Capitol, and some spit on congressmen and called them not-nice names.
 
In WakeCounty, diversity supporters protested, demonstrated and even got arrested. There was that striking picture of school board chairman Ron (Archie Bunker) Margiotta being led through the crowd by police and security officials.
 
But none of the diversity supporters have called for brick-throwing or talked darkly of taking up arms, as one letter-writer did here.
 
The last time we saw this movie was in the 60s. Then as now, right-wingers warned that we were headed straight to socialism. Then as now, people protested in the streets over race. And, oh yes, there was a war that got people riled up.
 
Some war opponents even resorted to bombings. Which led Sarah Palin to accuse Barack Obama of “palling around with terrorists.” Is she now encouraging domestic terrorists by urging health-care opponents to “reload”?
 
Americans have a history of getting riled up over big issues. We fought a Civil War over slavery and states’ rights. We rose up in an armed revolution to be independent.
 
We were born fighting. But sometimes some few decide to fight with bombs and bullets, not votes and debates. That’s why we have a string of assassinated presidents and politicians.
 
There is always a dark undercurrent of violence lurking in the American psyche. It has a way of bursting out when emotions are high.
 
Republicans are playing with fire here. If some nut goes too far, the tide of public opinion could turn dramatically against them.
 
Bill Clinton’s post-1994 comeback came after the Oklahoma City bombing. It could happen again.

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (18) RSS comment feed |

24
A while back two meandering tribes of ‘anony-mices’ – as Ms. Joan Troy once called them – set up camp over on the Talking About Politics Forum and, for the past year, these diminutive creatures have made war on one another and just about anyone else they lay eyes on – which brings us to the first political trait of anony-mices: Fierceness. Like Apaches anony-mices are unnaturally warlike.
 
For example, the other day one of the two tribes declared holy war on Richard Morgan the minute he announced for State Senate and they’ve been in a white-hot passion ever since telling anyone who’ll listen that Richard is more liberal that Barack Obama – which leads us to the second trait of anony-mices: They’re as deceitful as wicked women.

Richard Morgan opposes gay marriage, President Obama’s Stimulus Packages, Governor Perdue’s tax increases, closing Gitmo, and putting terrorists on trial in New York City. He supported Jesse Helms, Ronald Reagan, John East, Lauch Faircloth and Richard Vinroot.

But none of that matters to this tribe of anony-mices because Richard didn’t support George Holmes for Speaker back in 2003; worse in the anony-mices' eyes Richard ran against George and beat him so instead of George and Democrat Jim Black being Co-Speakers of the House Richard and Jim Black were elected. All that happened seven years ago, which brings us to the anony-mices third trait: They bear grudges like Hatfields and McCoys.
 
Finally, there's the anony-mices’ most vociferous trait: They are wild about sex. Not experiencing sex. Gossiping about sex.

During the first five years Gary and I published Talking About Politics I deleted exactly three obscene comments from the Forum. Then last year Chad Adams ran against Tom Fetzer for State Chairman and the anony-mices went to calling everyone in sight gays or lesbians or adulterers or philatelists. Gary got so shocked by it all he called one day and said, I always suspected Republicans were a little kinky when it comes to sex – but don’t you think you ought to take the copies of those sexually explicit emails off the Forum?

I must have deleted six hundred posts. 

After that things quieted down a bit until one morning three months later a friend who supports the John Locke Foundation called and said, Someone just anonymously posted an article on your Forum that says just about everyone who works at the Locke Foundation is wife-swapping – including John Hood.

John Hood isn’t even married.

Ever since wife-swapping charges have been flying back and forth between the two warring tribes and I’ve been deleting away.

Back in 2008 when Elizabeth Dole’s ‘Godless’ ad backfired  I figured maybe one good thing would come of it – the folks running Republican campaigns would figure out there’s a line you can’t cross in politics. But it hasn’t worked out that way. 

Instead, like Viet Cong guerillas our Republican candidates have changed tactics: Instead of slamming opponents in the light of day they now send bands of anony-mices scurrying out in the dead of night, stealing across that line on the Internet, and slashing away and what’s bound to happen next is as plain as the nose on your face:  It’s all going to boomerang. Again.

 

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (15) RSS comment feed |

24
Fred Heineman’s death takes us back to the Republican tidal year of 1994, when a titanic health-care battle led to a Democratic debacle so huge Heineman temporarily unseated David Price.
 
The big difference this year: Obama succeeded where the Clintons failed.
 
It takes three ingredients to make an electoral revolution: (1) One side is energized (2) the middle is outraged and (3) the other side is demoralized.
 
All three elements came together in 1994.
 
Democrats were so demoralized – and stayed home so much – that Heineman won even though he got fewer votes than Price got in 1992.
 
But, thanks to Obama’s health-care victory, Democrats who were demoralized a week ago are energized today.
 
Republicans, of course, are still energized – maybe even more so.
 
And the middle? We’ll see. Obama’s political challenge now is to sell them on reform.

 

[Click to read and post comments...]

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (6) RSS comment feed |

Page 1 of 3First   Previous   [1]  2  3  Next   Last   
Copyright (c) Talking About Politics   :  DNN Hosting  :  Terms Of Use  :  Privacy Statement