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Entries for June 2012

29
As an aspiring geezer, I’m inspired when white-hairs beat the young guns at their own new-media game.
 
So today we celebrate Lyle Denniston, the 81-year-old, twice-retired blogger at SCOTUSBlog. He got the Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act right and he got it first.
 
Actually, the trigger-happy hot heads at CNN and Fox News got it first. But they got it wrong. They reported that the court struck down the law. Oops. They even had President Obama fooled, until he heard from his staff and from SCOTUSblog.
 
Denniston’s scoop made him an Internet sensation. #TeamLyle T-shirts popped up.
 
He knows his subject. He has covered the court for 54 years, working with various newspapers before the blog.
 
Geezers may not be as fast on the draw as the young guns. But our aim is true.
 

 

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28
When you boil out all the hollering and gnashing of teeth the Presidential campaign’s pretty simple.
Romney says, Obama’s sunk the economy. He doesn’t deserve re-election.
Then Obama says, Look at Romney’s record as Governor of Massachusetts. No matter how bad I’ve done – he’d do worse. Then Obama adds, And look at what Romney did at Bain Capital. He did rotten things to make money. Do you want a man like that to be sitting in the White House?
And that’s it. That’s the Presidential campaign in a nutshell. Romney says, Obama’s bad. And Obama says, Romney’s worse.
 
 
 

 

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28
One of the problems no one’s ever been able to solve as far as politics goes is how to stop one group of folks from using the government to get their hands on another group of folks’ money.
 
For instance, back when President Obama gave green-energy-company-gone-bankrupt-Solyndra government subsidies, Republicans cried foul and said what the President was doing was an example of ‘government picking winners and losers’ with other people’s money.
 
Which sounded cut and dried until the other day when a bill flew through the State House to give corporations tax credits when they donate scholarships so poor children can attend private schools – the private school gets the cash and the corporation gets a tax break.
 
Now there’s no doubt that’s a good cause – but isn’t that ‘government picking winners and losers’ too?
 

 

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28
President Obama finally got a Republican vote for his health care bill: Chief Justice Roberts’.
 
Of course, Republicans are trying now to turn it into a “tax,” with Roberts’ help.
 
But it’s a huge win for Obama. And what’s the best thing about winning? Not losing.
 
If he had lost in the court, Fox News would have proclaimed a failed Presidency, another Jimmy Carter. And Obama certainly would have looked weak.
 
No matter that he can’t control the Supreme Court. If you lose, you lose. And Americans like a President who looks strong.
 
Suddenly, Obama looks much stronger than he did a day ago. Democrats are energized. They’ve got new fight in them.
 
Now Obama can challenge Romney on health care: The Court, including a Republican chief justice, says the insurance mandate is constitutional. And when you were governor of Massachusetts, you said it was the right idea.
 
Presidential elections often turn on X Factors – unpredictable events that suddenly change the political world. This is one of those events. It doesn’t mean Obama wins in November, not at all. But his chances look better.

 

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28
Well, all the smarty-pants pundits got the Supreme Court decision wrong. So I’ll wait until somebody smart and level-headed explains it.
 
Meanwhile, politics must go on.
 
Obama had been looking at a big defeat and stories about a “failed Presidency.” Now Romney and Republicans are trying to make chicken salad out of chickenshit.
 
My favorite tweet: “News flash! RomneyCare held constitutional.”
 
Obama gets something rare in politics: a mulligan. He gets to try again to explain his law.
 
Here’s how I read it: Maybe, one day, those of us who pay taxes and health insurance premiums won’t have to keep paying the bills for people who don’t have insurance.
 
The “individual mandate” says people have to take responsibility for their own health care costs – or pay a penalty.
 
Once upon a time, that was a Republican idea. And the foundation of RomneyCare. Now it’s socialism.
 
Why do Republicans who don’t like welfare like health-care welfare?
 
Of course, Obama opposed the mandate when he was running against Hillary Clinton and she proposed it.
 
Now, maybe he can do a better job of explaining it. Especially since it’s suddenly the biggest issue in the race.

 

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28
When you get political power, you feel important. When you feel important, you throw your weight around. When you throw your weight around, you look like a bully.
 
Like Senators Tom Apodaca and Buck Newton. Whatever the outcome of their Lettergate “witch hunt,” the lasting image will be that of Vicki Stanley, executive assistant to Jim Trogdon, crying while being grilled by their committee.
 
Keep it up, boys. People are watching. Especially a lot of women voters.

 

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27
Over in the General Assembly the legislators want to pass a law that says folks can tote pistols in bars because, they say, whether a customer can take his pistol into the ‘Twist and Shout’ ought to be up to the bar’s owner not the government.
 
Which sounds fine except…
 
…the same legislators want to pass a law that says a duly elected mayor can’t ban pistol toting on city property like in a park.
 

 

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27
Walter Dalton’s strategy at the first gubernatorial debate tells you two things: He thinks Pat McCrory can’t take a punch. And he has to dramatically change the contour of the race to win.
 
Attacking might work. A big reason McCrory lost in 2008 was that he failed to answer the Perdue campaign’s late attack on bringing New York trash to North Carolina. This year, McCrory showed a thin skin when attacked on his client work.
 
At the debate, McCrory tried the classic frontrunner strategy of brushing it all aside with a smile and a quip. That won’t cut it. If you don’t fight back in a debate, your opponent seizes the momentum.
 
McCrory is leading the race. Dalton has to shake things up. He did. Next we learn: Can McCrory counter-punch?

 

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27
The Good Lord gave everyone their own way of seeing things but he also gave them the ability to stand in another person’s shoes (or at least to get close enough to where another person’s standing to see what he’s seeing).
 
But there are exceptions. For instance, when people get into politics. And join groups that only see things one way.
 
A pro-gun group here is an example. At least as far as politics goes, most everything these folks see comes down to one thing: Their right to tote pistols in restaurants and just about anywhere else. And, right now, they’re mad as hops at State Senator Phil Berger because he won’t pass a bill to let them carry pistols in bars.
 
They’re so mad they’re running ads saying Phil Berger’s scared to bring the bill up for a vote because he’s frightened of the ‘bad publicity.’
 
Now Phil Berger, like everyone else, has his flaws. But over the last year he’s passed a Constitutional Amendment to ban gay marriage, passed a budget that cuts education spending, and blocked a sales tax increase to hire more teachers. He’s been pilloried in the press by experts so it’s hard to see him being afraid of a little ‘bad publicity.’
 
 

 

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26
Senator Tom Apodaca, the last of the old-fashioned Bull Moose in the State Senate, has tree’d Prior Gibson.
 
Just before the General Assembly voted on the budget a letter landed on legislators’ desks from the Secretary of Transportation saying it was urgent to spend $63 million to build a parkway in Gaston County. Only the Secretary never signed the letter as he later told the press.
 
Two days later – in what has to be a land-speed record for a legislature – Senator Apodaca held a hearing and learned Governor Perdue’s chief lobbyist Pryor Gibson had traipsed over to the Department of Transportation while the Secretary was out of town, put an Assistant Secretary in a political headlock, and gotten her to sign her boss’s name to the letter.
 
Apodaca held a second hearing the next day and called Gibson, who said the whole thing was all just a terrible misunderstanding but it was all straightened out now. Apodaca didn’t buy it. Leaning toward Gibson he growled, Well, was anybody pressured to sign that letter? and Gibson (sounding like a fellow in a deposition who’d just been asked a question he didn’t want to answer) gulped, Not to my knowledge.
 
Now whether or not you’re an admirer of Bull Mooses you’ve got to give Senator Apodaca credit: In three days he got Pryor Gibson tree’d.

 

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