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Entries for 'Carter Wrenn'

25
Yesterday in Mosul, the New York Times reports, a man and woman were handcuffed then stoned by ISIS for adultery.
 
Later in the day ISIS took three young men from their uncle’s home and beheaded then in a public street after hearing a rumor the uncle had met with a Kurdish leader.


 

 

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24
With the Irish Prime Minister sitting beside him, Obama said Republicans are against education. Infrastructure. Research. The things needed to create jobs. National defense. And the middle class.
 
Then having thrown down the gauntlet, and concisely summed up how he felt about the Republican budget, the President rolled out the welcome mat for the Prime Minister.
 
Next I turned to a stack of newspaper clippings about Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Scott Walker – looking for an answer to Obama.
 
Walker was criticizing unions.
 
Cruz was criticizing Obama’s deal with Iran.  
 
Paul was talking about criminal justice reform.
 
And Bush was saying it’s the President’s job to reweave civility into political discourse.
 
Answering Obama would have been as simple as saying, If you don’t agree with the President about how big the federal government ought to be – he says you’re against the middle class. Now, does that really make sense?  
 
But no voice took up the gauntlet.


 

 

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23
Pat and Phil don’t gee and haw.
 
Awhile back, after the Coal Ash Spill, Pat went to work cleaning up the mess, then Phil  passed a bill to have a Commission take over the job – which got Pat’s hackles up.
 
Pat said the Constitution was written in black and white and no one could run the clean-up but the Governor – and sued. And a three judge panel agreed: Phil and the leaders of the State House had thrown the Constitution out the window – which got Phil’s dander up.
 
He said that the court was wrecking the way NC government had been run for 100 years then he and House Speaker Tim Moore appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court – then the fireworks started.
 
Senate Rules Committee Chairman and A-force-to-be-Reckoned-With Tom Apodaca cancelled every Senate hearing to confirm Pat’s appointees. He put the hearings for the head of the SBI, the Banking Commission and the Industrial Commission on ice.
 
In the middle of the rhubarb the Secretary of Commerce trooped over to the Senate and testified that Pat urgently, desperately, immediately needed more money for ‘incentives’ – so he could make deals with corporations to bring jobs to NC.
 
Phil sent Pat’s plan straight to Apodaca’s Rules Committee where it may sit until frogs grow wings – then introduced his own plan (a tax cut).
 
Pat fired back that Phil’s plan would “break the bank,” leaving the state in dire financial straits.
 
Phil shot back Pat wanted to give corporations a billion dollars in incentives while he’d only cut taxes $500 million – so how could he be the one ‘breaking the bank?’
 
The number two Republican in the Senate, Harry Brown, then waded in. He said it was time Pat faced the music: He’d drained the incentives fund dry and now he was trying to dodge responsibility. Pat had given 90% of the incentives money to the three richest counties, including Pat’s own county, and it was time to give the other 97 counties some respect.  
 
Across town, the same day, speaking to an auditorium full of mayors and city councilmen, Pat tackled Phil’s ham-handed politics head-on.
 
Last fall Republicans lost every County Commissioner race in Wake County (Raleigh). So, as soon as the Senate got back to town, it passed a bill to redraw every county commissioner’s district. To elect more Republicans.
 
Pat told the mayors and city councilmen that some legislators in Raleigh didn’t just want to be legislators, they wanted to be mayors and city councilmen as well. But if they wanted to run local government they ought to run for city council.
 
The way Phil’s supporters see it he’s the real McCoy. A true conservative. Who doesn’t just talk the talk – he passes bills that cut taxes and spending. While Pat’s prone to trip over his own feet and say, Slow down. Don’t cut too much.
 
The way Pat’s supporters see it Phil’s power hungry – and prone to deal with anyone standing in his way with ham-handed ruthlessness. Which has made the Senate unpopular. Which means fighting Phil makes Pat popular.


 

 

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16
Back when Navy Seals evened the score with Osama bin Laden, the Secretary of Defense proclaimed “defeating al-Qaeda” was within our grasp. Victory was at hand.
 
Then the wheel came off the cart.
 
And now up in Washington the Director of National Intelligence is telling Congress the threat of ‘terrorism is worse than at any point in history.’
 
How did we wind up in this train wreck?
 
The answer is harsh: We deceived ourselves.

We were never on the verge of victory.
 
And – no matter what we were promised when we invaded Iraq – there was never going to be a limited war with a quick and painless victory.
 
And after the fighting was done in Iraq we were never going to be able to quickly pack up and come home – because if we failed to lay a foundation for peace (with a successful occupation) we’d end up with… ISIS.
 
We’re also learning there’s no substitute for a leader (in the White House) who can explain the wickedness of ISIS. Politically-correct talk rationalizing beheadings (by saying they are the result of poverty or political alienation) doesn’t cut it – and neither do euphemisms (like calling ISIS simply a new kind of ‘Violent Extremism’) that infer ISIS selling infidel women as slaves has nothing to do with its peculiar version of Islam.  
 
We’ve spent over a decade learning the hard way: One mistake at a time.
 
The American people arenow (according to a new poll) ready to fight ISIS. And send troops into combat.
 
And what about the President? He says we can defeat ISIS with one more quick, painless, limited war.
 


 

 

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11
Over a decade ago some genius up in Washington – I think it may have been Donald Rumsfeld – figured we could conquer Iraq with 150,000 soldiers; that we could fight a little war with a little pain and have the troops home by Christmas – so we rolled straight into Baghdad then found out occupying a nation of 30 million people with 150,000 soldiers wasn’t such a good idea.
 
The occupation turned into a quagmire. The roof fell in. We ended up with ISIS.
 
It was the repeat of an old story: If you go to war use overwhelming force. It hurts more in the short run but pays off in the long run. You don’t get sunk by the inevitable surprises and miscalculations.
 
Now we’re facing another war and President Obama’s sent a bill to Congress – called an “Authorization to Use Military Force” – and it’s like déjà vu all over again.
 
We fought one limited war to whip Saddam and got ISIS.
 
And now we’re about to fight another to whip ISIS and Lord knows what we’ll get next.
 
There’s not much doubt we need a leader with conviction (and, maybe, meanness) to whip ISIS but even more, to avoid another quagmire, this time we need a leader with the courage to tell the hard truth – rather than promising he can get the job done with a little war with a little pain.


 

 

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10
There’re two sides to every coin.
 
Last year, when the State Senate took away Governor McCrory’s appointments to the Board of Review, the Governor vetoed the bill. Then the Senate overrode his veto. Then the Governor  sued the Senate. Then, this year, as soon as the Senate got back to town it passed another bill to do the same thing.
 
So now, I guess, if the court throws out the Senate’s first bill the Governor’s still stuck with the second one – which sounds a lot like an old fashioned political power play. A battle over appointments.  But there’re two sides to this coin.  
 
The ole Bull Mooses in the Senate believe in their bones less government is right. They look out across Raleigh and want to shrink every program from Medicaid to the ‘corporate incentives’ the Department of Commerce gives away and, since they don’t have much faith in the Governor to get the job done, they figure if it takes a bit of bare-knuckle politics to shove him aside, well, so be it.
 
And that’s the one side of the coin.
 
The other side – the side the Governor’s staring at – is a bit different.
 
He’s more practical. He wants to fix problems. But to do that he needs more corporate incentives not less. And the ole Bull Mooses keep getting in his way. He’s accommodating. They’re power hungry. He’s open-minded. They’re pig-headed. He’s even-handed. They’re heavy-handed. And, even if his own popularity is sagging, the State Senate’s is worse so the Bull Mooses look like a useful foil.
 
So the fight over the Rules Review Commission isn’t just another petty political spat. It’s two sides of a coin: With less government on one side. And fixing government on the other.    


 

 

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09
President Obama held a summit up in Washington about terrorism but decided not to say the words ‘Muslim terrorist.’
 
Instead, he announced, he was leading a crusade to stop ‘Violent Extremism’ and, then he put his finger on the root cause of the villainy: Violent Extremism, he said, is caused by political disenfranchisement and poverty.
 
Then he spelled out the cure: Human Rights. Religious tolerance. And peaceful dialogue.
 
Which sounded sensible and ecumenical and logical except for one obvious contradiction: Our own nation was founded in war by revolutionaries disenfranchised by a corrupt King but they didn’t go around chopping off innocent people’s heads.


 

 

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06
The Ayatollahs over in Iran say they want to enrich uranium so they can build a nuclear power plant and, if that were so, they could buy plutonium rods from Russia tomorrow and be in business.
 
But, instead, the Ayatollahs say they want to enrich uranium themselves with centrifuges which doesn’t sound unreasonable until you consider the Ayatollahs can’t make a nuclear bomb from a plutonium rod but they can with a centrifuge.
 
So it seems odd to learn that the President’s amenable to Iran keeping thousands of centrifuges on the theory that, at the end of the day, even if it’s not a nuclear power plant they’re after, they’ll still be a year away from building a nuclear bomb.
 

 

 

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05
This is about as good a tale of conniving as I’ve heard: I can’t remember why but forty years ago back in 1976 the state legislature moved our Presidential primary up from May to March – then the unexpected struck and Ronald Reagan whipped Gerald Ford.
 
It was the first time Reagan won a primary. And the only time a sitting President ever lost a primary. And it turned the 1976 election upside down.
 
Down in South Carolina, watching, inspiration struck Lee Atwater and, after a bit of conniving of his own, Lee got South Carolina to move its primary up so in 1980 South Carolina was the ‘first primary in the South.’
 
Atwater’s plan worked better than he ever imagined. The winner of the South Carolina’s primary has gone on to win the Republican nomination in 8 of the last 9 Presidential elections.
 
In fact, South Carolina liked its new status so much, at some point, it got together with Iowa and New Hampshire and persuaded the Republican National Committee to pass a rule saying no other state could hold a primary before March 1.
 
At the same time, after the 1976 election, the North Carolina legislature went back to business as usual – and holding primaries in May – and for the last 40 years the North Carolina’s Republican Primary hasn’t mattered a toot.
 
Which suited Democrats just fine – after all about the last thing, say, Jim Hunt wanted was a liberal like Walter Mondale or Michael Duhakis or Al Gore traipsing across the state while he was running for reelection.
 
But, then, Republicans took control of the legislature and decided we’d been sitting on the Presidential sidelines long enough and moved our primary up to the week after South Carolina’s.
 
Which seemed reasonable.
 
But, oddly, sent national Republican Chairman Reince Preibus into a tizzy – Preibus announced North Carolina would not be allowed to hold its primary before March 1 and, he added, if we tried he’d take away 60 of North Carolina’s 72 delegates to the Republican Convention.
 
Those sounded like fighting words but, rather than calling Preibus out, North Carolina’s Republican Chairman decided to strike the flag and traipsed over to the legislature to ask it to move the primary.
 
The State House played its cards pretty close to the vest and didn’t say much either way about Priebus’s edict. But Republican State Senator Bob Rucho didn’t buy it – Rucho stuck to his guns and he’s got a point.
 
It’s as easy for the National Republican Committee to change its rule as it is for us to change our law – and, after 40 years of playing second fiddle to South Carolina, it’s time to unwind this bit of political conniving.


 

 

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05
It rang a little jarring to open the newspaper and read, Stam Introduces First Bill of New Session – To Limit Eminent Domain.
 
No doubt Representative Skip Stam was right but it was a little like watching a knight errant tilting at a windmill – because, after all, Eminent Domain isn’t one of the burning issues of our time.
 
Then, about two weeks later, Representative Stam was back in the newspaper –announcing the fiscal prognosticators in state government were dead-wrong when they said there was a $270 million revenue shortfall.
 
This time the knight errant had sunk his teeth into a deception– and, it turned out, he wasn’t tilting at windmills. In fact, the state has $586 million more to spend this year than last year.
 
And calling that a shortfall was like calling more less.

 

 

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