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Entries for August 2010

31
My friend Damon Circosta, executive director on the N.C. Center for Voter Education, gets an A for effort but an F for persuasiveness.
 
Circosta, according to Under the Dome, says the flap over Governor Perdue’s campaign not reporting some flights is an argument for “voter-owned” (publicly financed) campaigns. http://projects.newsobserver.com/dome#ixzz0yBS20BU0 
 
The logic goes over my head.
 
Why is a candidate taking public funds any less likely to commit a reporting error than a candidate taking individual and PAC contributions?
 
I hope Damon will enlighten me.
 
As I’ve blogged before, I understand that public-financing supporters are well-intentioned – and right to be concerned about corruption in today’s system. But if President Obama had used public financing, he couldn’t have competed in North Carolina.
 
There is a case to be made for public financing. I just down see how this is it.
 
 
 

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31
I’m amused by people who argue that the “mosque” shouldn’t be built near Ground Zero because a poll showed a majority of Americans oppose it.
 
Well, not along ago I saw a poll that found, for the first time, that most Americans think gay couples should be allowed to wed.
 
That settles it, I guess.

 

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30
…could a charlatan like Glenn Beck (with Sarah Palin as backup) claim that holding his Washington rally on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s is “divine providence” AND simultaneously claim that an Islamic center shouldn’t be built two blocks from Ground Zero because it offends some people.
 
Am I the only person who thinks it’s fine for Beck & Co. to hold their rally when and where they did AND for the Islamic center to be built on that site?

 

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30
Over in Afghanistan, according to the newspaper, 25-year-old Khayyam and 19-year-old Siddiqa fell in love;---now Khayyam already had a wife but that wasn’t a hurdle because in Afghanistan men can have four wives; instead the hurdle was his family turned thumbs down on the marriage, plus Siddiqa was already engaged to a relative of Khayyam’s who she didn’t want to marry.
 
Khayyam and Siddiqa eloped.
 
A few months later their families found them hiding in a distant province and promised if they’d come home all would be forgiven. But the day they returned home they were seized by the Taliban which convened a court of Mullahs and convicted them. Next they were taken outside into the bazaar, surrounded by 200 villagers and stoned.
 
Siddiqa in her burqa was killed first.
 
Then Khayyam.
 
Khayyam’s father and brother and Siddiqa’s brother participated in the stoning.
 
Afterwards a local farmer, Nader Khan, told a Kabul reporter, “People were very happy seeing this,” adding the crowd was festive and cheered during the stoning. The couple, he concluded, “did a bad thing.”
 
A spokesman for the Taliban speaking by cell phone also explained to the reporter it all was handled quite properly according to Shariah Law which he claimed is “based on Islamic Law,” at least the way the Taliban sees it.
 

 

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27
It’s a familiar question. I heard it again not long ago.
 
My Republican friend/foe Jack Hawke and I were tossing partisan grenades at each other during a panel on this year’s elections.
 
When it was time for Q&A, the question was: “Can’t the two parties put aside their differences and solve our problems instead of fighting and attacking each other all the time?”
 
No, we can’t. What’s more, we shouldn’t.
 
The question rises from a well-intentioned, civics-book view of politics. But it overlooks the basic fact that politics is about differences and disagreements – often deeply held.
 
An example: On health-care reform, Democrats thought every American should be required to have insurance. Republicans disagreed.
 
There is no middle ground there, no compromise. We either require it, or we don’t.
 
So we see who has the most votes today. Then the other side gets a chance to take its case to the people for their vote.
 
That leads to a lot of fussing and fighting, fuming and fulminating, posturing and positioning.

You may not like that free-for-all. If so, there are places that don’t have it. Like North Korea.

 

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26
Well, Gary, you’re back and I’m glad we’ve got a little controversy on our hands (about the Mosque in Manhattan) and I suspect before we finish debating we may be disagreeing on more than just politics.
 
Let me ask – gingerly – three questions. Are all religions are equal? Should all religions be treated equally? Is there a tie between Islam and terrorism?
 
Are all religions equal? Most people I think would answer this question no. Moslems don’t believe Christ is the Messiah so in their view Christians are making a mistake by worshiping a false God. Most Christians, of course, look at it exactly the other way around. The point is one of these religions has to be right and the other is wrong – so it’s hard to see how they’re equal. Do we disagree?
 
Should all religions be treated equally? In America today we’ve already crossed that bridge and, I suspect, most people would answer this question yes. But that does tend to lead to awkward conflicts and the mosque is an example. To put it delicately, even if a fellow favors freedom of religion, if he has qualms about Islam’s ties to terrorism he may naturally wince at the prospect of a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero.
 
And that brings us face to face with the million dollar question. Is there a tie between Islam and terrorism? Perhaps you know the answer to that. I don’t. But, naturally, ignorance breeds doubt and doubt leads to suspicion.
 
For instance, I look around at the followers of other religions – for example, Hindus or Buddhists – and I wonder if they are as likely to commit acts of terrorism as Muslims. And a brief, unscientific glance at who’s murdering who these days doesn’t reveal a lot of Hindu terrorists. Of course, that doesn’t prove a link exists between Islam and terrorism. Osama bin Laden could be attacking the United States for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with Islam. But I suspect the plumb line in the debate about the mosque boils down to the answer to the question of the ties between Islam and terrorism.
 
I may be completely mischaracterizing your view (and I am sure if I am you’ll correct me) but it seems to me pro-mosque building folks answer that question one of two ways. They say: There’re good people and there’re bad people and Osama bin Laden is a bad person and his religion has nothing to do with it. He’d still be a bad person (and a murderer) if he was a Christian.
 
Or, alternatively, they reason: There are ‘bad Christians’ but that doesn’t prove Christianity is bad. So the fact there are ‘bad Muslims’ doesn’t prove Islam is bad. Therefore, the two religions should be treated equally.
 
That sounds fair and logical and open-minded but, of course, there is the possibility the first statement is true and the second false. After all, I think we’d agree a Christian blowing up 3,000 innocent people would be acting contrary to the teachings of Christ. But I guess it’s possible a Muslim doing the same thing might be acting in accord with the teachings of The Prophet.
 
So here is the question I suspect may take us far beyond politics: What do you think? Like many people who don’t know a great deal about Islam I wonder, Is there something about Islam that leads to the creation of terrorists like Osama bin Laden?
 

 

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26
The rumor among Republicans is that George Holding will run against Roy Cooper for AG in 2012.
 
That assumes, of course, that Holding doesn’t stay on as U.S. Attorney forever.
 
It also assumes he finally handles his high-profile cases: Mike Easley and John Edwards.
 
Maybe Holding will punt Easley to the state, saying that the Supreme Court ruling on “honest services” makes a federal prosecution impossible.
 
That could be bad news for Edwards. It wouldn’t look good for Holding to keep the bat on his shoulder and not swing twice.
 
Of course, any prosecutor has to worry now about trying Easley or Edwards. If that clown Blagojevich got off, don’t you think Easley and/or Edwards could convince at least one juror to hold out for acquittal?

 

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25
Governor Perdue can’t catch a break.
 
Today should have been a big news day for her: North Carolina winning one of the 10 “Race to the Top” selections.
 
That’s a big step forward in school reform. And, by the way, one of the most significant and least recognized achievements of the Obama administration.
 
But that story competes with headlines about her campaign being fined $30,000 for not reporting flights in the 2008 campaign.
 
Elections Board, Highway Patrol, SBI (not under her, but do people know that?). It’s hard to climb out of the muck in Raleigh.

 

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25
One thing is clear from Tuesday’s primaries: the lunatics are running the Republican asylum.
 
Rick Scott, a key figure in the biggest health-care fraud scandal ever, won the Republican nomination for governor of Florida. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski trails a Sarah Palin-endorsed Tea Partier. And John McCain, who gave America Sarah Palin, survived in Arizona by turning his back on everything he ever stood for.
 
This is excellent news for the Democratic Party.
 
Republicans still may win big this year. But, if they do, the Tea Party will claim credit. It will grab the GOP steering wheel and steer the car over the cliff.
 
Democrats will then be poised for a big comeback in 2012, with Barack Obama winning reelection.

 

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24
The last couple of weeks, I’ve talked with Democrats and Republicans who are deeply involved in this year’s elections.
 
And I found a ray of hope for Democrats: 2010 may not be 1994 revisited.
 
The reason: 1994 itself.
 
What happened that year is hard-wired into Democratic DNA – in North Carolina and nationally. “1994” is a synonym for “disaster.”
 
In fact, 1994 shook Democrats so hard that they may avert disaster this year, when the climate looks just as bad as 16 years ago.
 
Case in point: the state Senate’s Democratic campaign caucus. After nearly losing their majority in 1994 – and watching Republicans take the House – they got serious about running professional campaigns: raising money, doing research and polling and producing quality mail and TV ads.
 
That’s how they kept their majority. And they have much the same professional team they built in 1996.
 
Tom Fetzer has greatly raised the Republicans’ game this year. But they’re up against a tough, experienced Democratic team.
 
The other difference – which one Republican consultant mentioned – is that the GOP tide is cresting earlier this year than in 1994. Then, Republicans began surging in September. This year, it came months earlier.
 
Then, Democrats were caught by surprise. I remember being in a meeting with then-Governor Hunt and one of his close friends. When I told them  then-Congressman Martin Lancaster might lose to Walter Jones, Hunt’s friend shot back: “You cannot tell me that little pipsqueak might beat Martin.”
 
He did. Even more stunning, David Price lost.
 
This year, Democrats aren’t asleep at the switch.
 
Now, this may all be wishful Democratic thinking. Or the Republicans may be spiking the ball before they’re in the end zone.
 

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