November 19, 2006


I am so sick of this take on the election. The Democrats who won were not conservatives - period. They were toe-stepping Progressives. Sure, maybe ONE is a social moderate, but that is more of a libertarian moderate and not a "What are you doing in your bedroom?" conservative.

Read. My. Lips. The new Congress is dominated by Progressives thanks to the election of Progressives.

November 16, 2006

truer words....

The great thing about Dobson

The great thing about the Town of Dobson is how stormbear gives you some background on the cartoon below. Most of us know the specifics already, but if you want to keep up with what is going on in politics, and you are short on time, this and Doonesbury should be must reads. For today's cartoon you get:

What is up with James Carville?

First we find out from Woodward’s book that Carville told the White House about Kerry’s plans to contest the Ohio election. Now he is wanting Howard Dean to apologize for not winning big enough in this past mid-term election.

Democratic strategist James Carville yesterday said Howard Dean should be replaced as chairman of the Democratic National Committee for failing to pursue a greater margin of victory in last week’s midterm elections.

“I would describe his leadership as Rumsfeldian in its competence,” Mr. Carville said during a meeting with reporters, a reference to outgoing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who has been reviled by Democrats.

Both Mr. Carville and Democratic strategist Stan Greenberg said the DNC should have invested more money in congressional races.

Now Carville wants to replace winning Howard Dean with right of center, election losing Rep. Harold Ford Jr.

Boggles the mind.

November 11, 2006

Jerry Meek asks for your help.

If you are interested in Senator Elizabeth Dole and getting her out of office, if you are sick of Senator Elizabeth Dole and want to see her out of office, then go visit this thread at BlueNC and offer your suggestions. NCDP Chair Jerry Meek is asking for your help.

November 09, 2006

A Town Called Dobson

if you aren't bookmarking it, you should be.

November 07, 2006

Liveblogging from NCDP Headquarters

I will be at the NCDP headquarters tonight to live-blog the results of state legislative races on BlueNC. I am now making calls to Dems who have not voted yet. Join in, do your part. Win elections.

November 05, 2006

Hard Core

It was a cold and early Saturday in early November. The streets were empty, but the parking lot of the Planetarium was filling up at 8:55am. Why? Because Saturday early voting was about to begin. Yep, there was a line out around the statue of James Polk waiting to vote early. Which raises only one question, why?

There really aren't any races left to decide in Orange County and the state-wide judicial races usually aren't that big of a draw. But, there they all were, and the line continued to grow after 9am when the kids and I came out from voting. I saw a few people I knew, including Zabouti and John Gilmore, Dogwood Acres Chair.

As we waited in line the fella behind me muttered, "I wonder how you find out about these non-partisan races?" To which I responded with a flourish of my OCDP voter guide, "With one of these!" He was very thankful and especially when I showed him the cheat sheet on the back cover.

All in all it was a great experience, the kids sat on my lap and helped me fill out the bubbles, to feed the ballot into the machine and they received their "I voted" sticker for the umpteenth time. Voting is a family tradition, take your kids to vote and make it an exciting family adventure.

Oh, as to the title, to those who showed up at 9am in the cold weather to vote on a pretty unexciting ballot - you are hardcore and a good friend of mine.

November 03, 2006

Orange County/School Buses

I spoke with Al Terry yesterday about the bus situation with the Orange Public School Buses. Wouldn't you know that this man is already on the job. One problem with school bus drivers is that the hours are limited, the pay is lower than other driving jobs, and there is no summer employment.

Al is working with the school bus scheduler to create positions for drivers to work with the schools and with OPT. They would either:

  1. Drive school buses in the morning, then for OPT the rest of the day. Or,
  2. drive for OPT in the morning and then school buses in the afternoon.
I believe the total so far is around 8 part-time and full-time positions that will be scheduled to allow for this change-over. A large enough group of folks doing this would solve the crisis that Orange Schools faced this year. Of course, hiring a year-round recruiter to make sure they have enough drivers would work as well.

One problem with this that Al mentioned, is that school bus and OPT drivers are required to have different types of licenses. The cost of those two is almost $200 if I remember correctly. That is not insignificant to someone from a low-income family looking for a new job.

November 01, 2006

How Google Bombing Worked

Let's say you go online to look into politics. Statistics say that most likely you are looking for information on a candidate. Who these people are that have internet access but don't know about the candidates, I can't imagine. Either way. You type in Robin Hayes because you keep getting flyers saying to vote for him, but you aren't so sure. You use Google because...well, everyone does. What do you get?

Hayes, Robin
Official web site for Representative Robin Hayes (R - NC, 98th District).
BORING old official web page. If you have insomnia, read an official web page.

Contact Cong. Hayes
Contact Congressman Hayes. As a member of Congress, I appreciate your input as a constituent of North ... Hayes statement on terrorist attacks - click here. ...
I have NO interest in contacting him, so skip this one.

Congressman Robin Hayes
Welcome to the Online Campaign Headquarters for Robin Hayes Congressman, 8th District of North Carolina. Welcome to my online campaign headquarters! ...
BORING old campaign web site. | Hayes is CAFTA foe no longer - 11:25am
"Robin Hayes ought to be ashamed," said state Democratic Chairman Jerry Meek. "Despite the fact he vowed to oppose CAFTA, Hayes caved in to Republican ...

WAIT A MINUTE! What's this? Robin Hayes vowed to vote against CAFTA then changed his vote, let me go read that story. The story is extremely unflattering of Robin Hayes and his flip-flop that cost NC soooooooo many jobs. Not only that, but it isn't an attack from the Democrat party web site, it is an attack from the News & Observer. Why did this article come up? Because of the google bombing brought to you by MyDD.

Thank you guys.

October 31, 2006

"Pretty pictures of blue...."

the "freakin' tsunami wave" map.


October 30, 2006

Only Edwards can go to Connecticut

Remember Only Nixon could go to China? Well, I feel strongly that only Senator Edwards can go to Connecticut and if he does, then he gets back lost momentum and becomes the frontrunner for 2008.

When I think of John Edwards I think of two things:
1. Grassroots populism.
2. Netroots activism.

I have long said that the Senator could lock up number 2 through a few simple actions, and now I think he could lock up both of these key donor and volunteer categories in one fell swoop.

Right now, if you are not paying attention, the CT race is between *Democratic* Primary winner Ned Lamont and /Connecticut for Lieberman/ party member Joe Lieberman. Lieberman has said that perhaps if he wins he will become a Republican, a threat to the Democratic leadership not to take away his seniority.

Well, Joe can take a flying leap. Ned Lamont is the Democratic candidate and the Senator was the first to show up in CT after the primary. Now it is time to go back.

Why? Because no one else is doing it. Look at the political upside for 2008.

Clinton - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton had Connecticut Senate candidate Ned Lamont over for coffee Friday, discussing campaign strategy and offering to host a fundraiser, a spokesman for the senator said.

"It was a great meeting. Senator Clinton thinks Ned Lamont did a fabulous job in Connecticut," spokesman Howard Wolfson said, referring to Lamont's upset victory over Sen. Joe Lieberman in the state's Democratic primary.

So, she supports him? Well, that was August and not only isn't this Clinton NOT showing up, but, this Clinton IS showing up in Connecticut.

So, what about the new kid on the block?

"I know that some in the party have differences with Joe," *Senator Obama said*, all but silencing the crowd. "I'm going to go ahead and say it. It's the elephant in the room. And Joe and I don't agree on everything. But what I know is, Joe Lieberman's a man with a good heart, with a keen intellect, who cares about the working families of America."

Then, with applause beginning to build, he finished the thought: "*I am absolutely certain that Connecticut's going to have the good sense to send Joe Lieberman back to the United States Senate*." That time, people cheered loudly.

This doesn't even take into account the Senate leadership that are backrooming with Joe, telling him he can keep his seniority if he wins, just those who will be opponents in 2008. It's time for someone to stand up for the Democrats that voted in the primary, for the people who said "Time to go, Joe".

Only John Edwards can go to Connecticut. He should go spend a week there if he must to make sure that Ned Lamont, the grassroots, netroots, populist candidate wins this election. This will put him into a leadership position among the base, who believe that Lieberman is wrong on Iraq, wrong to support the President, and wrong to abandon the Democratic Party's process. With that leadership position will come two things. [Money] and [volunteers].

Do it Senator, go to Connecticut, energize the base around your camapaign and become the front-runner for 2008 all over again - *and for good*.

October 28, 2006

Shut Up and Sing - NBC (a right-wing subsidiary)

NBC is refusing to air this MOVIE TRAILER. Why?

Nudity? Nope.

Language? Nope.

Violence? Nope.

They are refusing to air it because it is negative about President Bush. Yeah, when did that become enough to get censored on the PUBLIC airways.

Unloading voter guides.

I'm off with the kids today to unload a stack of Orange County Voter Guides. They are a must have this season, what with the "non-partisan" judge races. I have to say, what a lousy idea. Everyone is still running as a "former Democrat" or a "Conservative". This way, some people are just voting for the name that sounds right. Take Kris Bailey, HE ran a campaign ad with his WIFE in the picture instead of himself. To get the mom vote I guess.

October 27, 2006

Welcome to the War in Iran.

During a pre-meeting discussion last night I mentioned that the latest tin-foil hat theory is that Bush would attack Iran before Nov. 7th. The wise old man replied, "That sounds like fantasy. It'll never happen." Which, I will admit, sounds about right. But, not everyone think it is crazy.

Bad news. Very bad news. Another expeditionary strike group will imminently enter the Persian Gulf where it will join the Enterprise, Eisenhower and Iwo Jima strike groups.

"We have been through spring practice, now the game is on."
- Capt. David Angood, Composite Warfare Commander (CWC) for USS Boxer (LHD 4) Expeditionary Strike Group

Well, sure, we have four expeditionary strike groups in the gulf, where we used to have one, then two, then three. But, what does that really have to do with reality? After all, David Kay says:
Washington needs to proceed cautiously because serious questions remain about its ability to assess realities on the ground in Iran.

While the government in Tehran has established what he calls "a substantial foundation" for a nuclear weapons program, Kay asserts any serious threat is at least five years and possibly 10 or more years away.

"Iran does not today, and in my judgment will not for some time, pose a nuclear threat to the United States or the state of the [Middle East] region," Kay said.

No threat, which means we should have plenty of time to negotiate.



Welcome to the war in Iran. How will it start?


Naaah. That's. Just. Crazy.


That. Is. Just. Crazy.

October 26, 2006

Stay the Course

October 24, 2006

Let the Google Bombing Begin.

--AZ-Sen: Jon Kyl

--AZ-01: Rick Renzi

--AZ-05: J.D. Hayworth

--CA-04: John Doolittle

--CA-11: Richard Pombo

--CA-50: Brian Bilbray

--CO-04: Marilyn Musgrave

--CO-05: Doug Lamborn

--CO-07: Rick O'Donnell

--CT-04: Christopher Shays

--FL-13: Vernon Buchanan

--FL-16: Joe Negron

--FL-22: Clay Shaw

--ID-01: Bill Sali

--IL-06: Peter Roskam

--IL-10: Mark Kirk

--IL-14: Dennis Hastert

--IN-02: Chris Chocola

--IN-08: John Hostettler

--IA-01: Mike Whalen

--KS-02: Jim Ryun

--KY-03: Anne Northup

--KY-04: Geoff Davis

--MD-Sen: Michael Steele

--MN-01: Gil Gutknecht

--MN-06: Michele Bachmann

--MO-Sen: Jim Talent

--MT-Sen: Conrad Burns

--NV-03: Jon Porter

--NH-02: Charlie Bass

--NJ-07: Mike Ferguson

--NM-01: Heather Wilson

--NY-03: Peter King

--NY-20: John Sweeney

--NY-26: Tom Reynolds

--NY-29: Randy Kuhl

--NC-08: Robin Hayes

--NC-11: Charles Taylor

--OH-01: Steve Chabot

--OH-02: Jean Schmidt

--OH-15: Deborah Pryce

--OH-18: Joy Padgett

--PA-04: Melissa Hart

--PA-07: Curt Weldon

--PA-08: Mike Fitzpatrick

--PA-10: Don Sherwood

--RI-Sen: Lincoln Chafee

--TN-Sen: Bob Corker

--VA-Sen: George Allen

--VA-10: Frank Wolf

--WA-Sen: Mike McGavick

--WA-08: Dave Reichert

October 20, 2006

Election Night?

So, are we going to find a nice bar somewhere that will put the election up on the big screen and stay open until the wee hours of the morning.

Edwards Hitting the Campaign Trail in NC Again

I think it is safe to say that John Edwards will win the NC primary in 2008. So, why is he stumping again for Heath Shuler? It has to be for all the right reasons - to elect a Democratic House.

From OAC:

You may remember that Senator Edwards campaigned for congressional candidate Heath Shuler back in August. (You can read about the event here and here).

Today the Senator will be campaigning for Mr. Shuler again, this time at a campaign rally in Asheville, NC. This is part of the Senator's ongoing effort to support Democratic candidates in the run-up to the November elections.

Continue reading this entry to learn more about this event.

Senator Edwards to address a campaign rally for congressional candidate Heath Shuler

4:00 PM

AB Technical Community College - Laurel Building
340 Victoria Road
Asheville, North Carolina

Homeless Shelter in the Cards?

The "new" homeless shelter has been shunted from one side of town to the other. So, were are we? From the Orange Herald.

CHAPEL HILL -- The Inter-Faith Council for Social Service has asked the county to consider locating a new men's homeless shelter near the Southern Human Services Center on Homestead Road. Ann Henley, vice president of the IFC's board, told the county commissioners this week that a new facility is needed for the shelter's long-term viability and the agency needs help from local governments to secure a new location.
Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy, who is part of a town-county group set to meet next week on the topic, said Wednesday that the town clearly will need in the future the space of the current shelter, in the town-owned building at 100 West Rosemary Street. That building, he added, isn't well suited for a residential facility anyway. The IFC currently leases the building from the town.
At a meeting Tuesday, Commissioner Alice Gordon identified some possible disadvantages. She said some members of the Friends of the Chapel Hill Senior Center, when asked about the men's shelter idea, raised concerns, including how the senior center and shelter would co-exist on the same site.

Another concern was the proximity of Project HomeStart, where homeless women and children stay, to the men's site. Previously, IFC representatives said they wished to have separate sites for men and women, Gordon said.

About a decade ago, the county granted IFC a 25-year lease for three acres in the northwest part of the Homestead Road campus, where HomeStart was built.

Meanwhile, Foy reiterated the town's commitment to help find a new site for the shelter, and the challenges they face.

"We've made it clear we will provide town-owned property and financial assistance, but we haven't said to the IFC or to Orange County, do this or do that," Foy said. "It's hard to find a place that's just right. It's best if there is good access to transportation, and to support networks, like other agencies that may provide assistance with employment, substance abuse, or getting financial aid."
There has been a lot of support for this long as it isn't in MY neighborhood. Everyone here is very progressive until it comes time to have a homeless shelter in their neighborhood. Too bad. Chapel Hill could do something really great for the homeless.

October 19, 2006

"Bob Ney, Guilty but Still at Capitol"

I think that New York Times headline says it all, doesn't it? Republicans have a Representative that is guilty and will be going to jail. Yet, he's still there on Capitol hill, still has an office, still has a staff, still using our tax money to send out letters if he wants, etc. It isn't that the Republican leadership doesn't want him out of office, it's that they can't get him to quit. The Republican mindset is pervasive in his actions, "I'm a Republican, I can't be wrong."

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 — Representative Bob Ney is headed to prison early next year after pleading guilty to charges of accepting tens of thousands of dollars in illegal gifts from lobbyists. Until then, Mr. Ney, a six-term Republican from Ohio, has a comfortable place to bide his time.

In his guilty plea last week, Mr. Ney admitted to taking many gifts from Mr. Abramoff, including a 2002 golfing trip to Scotland by private jet, and then lying about them in his financial disclosure forms.

To the dismay of House colleagues eager to remove him as a symbol of the corruption scandals that are tarring several Republican candidates in next month’s Congressional elections, Mr. Ney, defying House leaders, has refused to step down for now, insisting that he owes his staff and his constituents a few more weeks of his time.

Until the House reconvenes after the elections, there is no way under Congressional rules to force him out. Republican House leaders have vowed to make Mr. Ney’s expulsion their first order of business when they return to Washington next month.

October 14, 2006

Thoughts on Atlanta

1. I've come down with a mild stomach .... "problem", so that has taken some of the wind out of my sails.
2. There is just one word to describe Atlanta, "sprawltastic".
3. I love the MARTA and am always shocked when I come out of the tunnels in a near-empty cab and see the interstates backed up and barely moving. I have the choice between taking a bus from Buckhead down to the convention center or the MARTA. After one try on the bus, I bought a MARTA pass.

4. About above-mentioned traffic, it is only bad during rush hour, which begins around 7am and ends at 7pm. Otherwise, the roads are fine.
5. Real estate seems very reasonable - there were some condos nearby that start at a mere $1.3 million.

6. Unfortunately, Atlanta businesses seem short on money, as there are several skyscrapers that appear to have been left unfinished for lack of funds.
7. I was walking around five points and was really getting into downtown. The tree-lined streets, the area with the fountains and statues, the city feel. Then, I turned the corner and somebody asked me "What the hell you looking at n*****." Yeah. I was actually a wee bit intimidated so I just kept on going, which is what he told me, in so many words, to keep doing. This reminds me of the trip I took to Pittsburgh, when my wife and I decided to walk home from the restaurant. The bridge crossing was great, as was PPG plaza, then suddenly we were in a "seemingly" sketchy area. That is the problem with visiting new cities it seems. I'd like to add here, that my wife and I were once nearly attacked by a homeless man at the corner of Franklin and Columbia in Chapel Hill back in 2000 during the big snow storm in February. So, it can happen anywhere I guess.
8. I have met a lot of good friendly southern folk. The fella I sat next to at dinner last night (just some random bar), the people at MARTA (very nice and helpful), and folks at Publix (God I miss Publix, my favorite grocery store all through grad school), and some real nice people ON the MARTA. Have I mentioned that I love the MARTA?

October 12, 2006

Senate prediction - Mid-October

It looks like all those Dems in NJ MIGHT have been right, the race is swinging their way, with new polls showing Menendez up by 4. MO is still too tight to call and VA has slumped back into Allen land after a brief hiatus in "illegal stock gambit aids Webb" land. Ford has had a bunch of big polls lately, but if there is one race I think we might lose in a stunner - it is TN. First African-American Senator from the South since the you-know-what.


October 11, 2006

Charles Taylor, Porkalicious?

This is a draft copy.

Is Get Fuzzy Serious?


Oh, yeah. My wife and I found out about this a long time ago. It's another "hidden" ingredient that has corn in it. Why do squashed bugs have corn in them? I have no idea.

From wiki:

Carmine (IPA: [ˌkɑrmaɪn -mɪn]), also called Crimson Lake, Cochineal, Natural Red 4, C.I. 75470 or E120, is a pigment of a bright red color obtained from the carminic acid produced by the cochineal insect, and is used as a general term for a particularly deep red color. Carmine is used in the manufacture of artificial flowers, paints, rouge, cosmetics, food additives, and crimson ink.
Carmine may be prepared from cochineal, by boiling dried insects in water to extract the carminic acid and then treating the clear solution with alum, cream of tartar, stannous chloride, or potassium hydrogen oxalate; the coloring and animal matters present in the liquid are thus precipitated. Other methods are in use; sometimes egg white, fish glue, or gelatine are added before the precipitation.

say hello to your red food coloring

October 09, 2006

Kalling for Kissell

Ever hit the phones for a candidate? No. Well, give it a try. Each list is about ten names and the hit rate is pretty low. By the time you actually reach someone that listens, you'll feel great that you did.

October 08, 2006

Senate Prediction

As of now, this is pretty much how I see the Senate races. Based on results.

All in all, New Jersey and MO are still toss-ups. I think VA has lost its momentum, HOWEVER, there are reports that more racial slurs are going to come to light. If that happens, then this race could become closer again. The good news for us is that New Jersey hasn't elected a Republican to Senate since 1972. I still believe, in my heart, that NJ will go blue, which gives us 50-50 at the very least. MO is a Republican Senate seat and the race is close, close, close. In my opinion, the ONLY way we win this seat is if the religious right GOTV operation stays home out of frustration. 51-49 sounds so much better than 50-50, although I have my doubts that Joe will caucus with Dems if he wins and we sit at 51-49. I think he pretends to be all bipartisan and caucuses with Rs to even out the Senate.

Wanna Drive a Bus?

If so, it seems like every school district in the country is interested in hiring you. The Herald Sun has a story on schools grappling with a lack of bus drivers.

"I am a frustrated parent," Haubert declared at one recent school board meeting. "I am tired of the same old excuses for the past four years: 'We don't have enough drivers.'"

It's not quite the Orange County Schools' fault that Haubert's kids are late either, administrators say.

Officials say they face the same problem many North Carolina school systems have faced for years: a driver shortage.

Well, to be blunt - yes it is your fault. It's your responsibility to have enough drivers and if you don't have enough's your fault! What could they possibly do to fix the situation?

..."It's been like that for a while, and I don't know what it is. The pay's good. They're making $10 to $12 an hour."

The driving job is part time, for one thing, and it only lasts through the school year -- stopping abruptly when summer vacation begins.

So bus drivers often quit once they gain year-round employment, leaving school districts with buses and no one to man them.

Unless I'm mistaken, I believe that Orange County has a transportation department (OPT) that employees a number of bus drivers. Perhaps some kind of arrangement could be made between the two groups?

But with dozens fewer drivers than it needed, the school system faced a major problem. Calls from angry parents...flooded in.


School system officials switched into crisis mode, sending workers from the central office to answer phones in the bus garage.

They set up recruitment tables in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart in Hillsborough, which is close by the district's central and transportation offices.


The school system also has signed on a part-time recruiter to find drivers.

The techniques have worked.

And, that my friends, is why it is the schools fault. If they can find bus drivers after the school year starts by part-time recruiting, then they sure as shoot could find enough drivers BEFORE the school year by having a full-time recruiter and setting out tables at Wal-Mart, Target, and other high-traffic sites. Let's repeat this slowly, IT. IS. YOUR. FAULT.

Next year, how about getting started fixing the problem before it becomes a problem?

October 05, 2006

OC School Driver Leaves Kid in Bus all Day

Seriously? Yes, seriously. Now we have all had those moments where we forget to finish unloading the groceries or leave them at the checkout. We've all had those moments of locking our keys in the car. But, locking a kid in the bus all day? To be fair, we don't know if the THIRD grader was trapped in the bus all day or not. But, he was IN the bus all day, and since most third graders aren't beyond the point of being afraid, I think we can assume - he was probably trapped. Maybe not, maybe he decided to hang out for an entire day on the bus.

HILLSBOROUGH -- An Orange County Schools bus driver was fired last week after he left a child on a bus an entire school day.

The third grader at Pathways Elementary was apparently asleep on Sept. 26 when the driver unloaded his bus at the school, said Anne D'Annunzio, a spokeswoman for the district. However, drivers are supposed to check all of the seats on the bus for students after unloading, she said.

"Apparently that was not done," D'Annunzio said. "This is very serious and we had to take serious action because of it."

District procedure states that leaving a child on a bus is grounds for termination, she said.

No kidding.
Last week's incident is another in a series of troubles that has plagued the Orange County Schools transportation department since classes began in August.


Parents reported their children arriving home two hours after school dismissed, or not being picked up in the morning at all. Some parents said their children were picked up in the morning after school began.

I wonder why the Orange County school district is having trouble hiring bus drivers? I didn't have to time make the calls on Friday, but next week I'm going to see if I can track down starting wages for city drivers, Chapel Hill/Carrboro school drivers, Durham school drivers, etc. My gut tells me that they are underpaying bus drivers, which is why they have a hard time filling the seats and end up with drivers that don't bother crossing their T's and dotting their I's.

October 04, 2006

My house...

is the one with the car in front, in the middle.

Sorry Billmon

A good post by Billmon today on the ruckus over the stockmarket.

Breaking Even

The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a record high today: 11,727 -- four points higher than the previous record, set January 14, 2000. So if you invested $1,000 in the 30 companies in the Dow six years and almost nine months ago, you'd have $1000.34 today!

But, alas, if you invested that same amount in the S&P 500 Index (which in the winter of 2000 was bubbliciously full of tech stocks) you'd have only $910.56, and if you "invested" it in the companies in the Nasdaq Composite (the souffle of '90s equity indices) you'd have just $552.04.

The only thing not mentioned is inflation. At standard inflation, the $1000 invested in 2001 is now equal to AT LEAST $1,134.40. So, you've got a ways to go before you "break even" from 2001. Enjoy the Bush Economy and your "wages".

October 03, 2006

Republican Values

OC School Board - What a bunch of jerks.

hbI understand that Orange County schools don't want to raise taxes to pay for better schools and better education, I grew up in the country and I can see how they have bought into the Republican lie that taxes are some kind of inconvenience. In fact, taxes are the membership fees you pay for living in our society. As anyone who has ever joined a gym knows, the better the facility, the higher the membership fees. So, OC has schools that are not up to snuff with the Chapel Hill/Carrboro school systems. They aren't bad, they just aren't as good as the town schools.

What to do? How to save some bucks so you don't have to raise those dreaded taxes?

HILLSBOROUGH -- The Orange County school board is considering ending an agreement it has with a preschool program for children with developmental disabilities to house it in an unused building on one of its campuses.

...It's a move Linda Foxworth, director of the program, said she opposes.

"I would be really disappointed if this board asked to move its handicapped children to put staff in there," Foxworth said during a school board meeting Monday night.

District officials, though, said they could use the space for their own staff. Currently, the district has 32 staff members who work out of schools, rather than in the central office. While all 32 would not fit in the Hillsborough Elementary building, some could, said George McFarley, the assistant superintendent for support services.

Having more staff members in one building -- rather than spread all over the district -- would be more convenient, he told the board.

"It's kind of difficult right now to get all the heads together to make a decision," McFarley said. "It would make sense to all be in one space."

Convenient? Yes, that's right, it would be convenient for Orange County to toss the handicapped out onto the streets. Well, maybe you say, that the school needs these facilities and the handicapped kids aren't paying - so off they go!

Beyond the immorality and downright evilness of that way of thinking, there is this.

And, while CHTOP pays only nominal rent, it has improved the building, she said. In 1996, program officials spent $100,000 on renovations, Foxworth said. The next year, she said, the program paid for a $30,000 heating and cooling system. It has also paid for a playground and various other upgrades, Foxworth said.

But schools superintendent Shirley Carraway said as the district grows, schools are going to run out of space for central office workers to have offices. The Hillsborough Elementary space could be useful, she said.

"A department could potentially fit there," she said. "For example, curriculum and instruction."

So, let's see. You put these handicapped kids into a beat up old classroom that needed $100,000 in repairs, then a $30,000 HVAC upgrade, with old playground equipment and other things falling apart. NOW, that they have fixed it up, you want to kick them out?

That is morally reprehensible and I hope that every resident of the county will remember that the next time school board elections come around. When the Superintendent was hired, she had this to say:

"I'm just excited and looking forward to getting into Orange County," Carraway said.

"I have a lot of excitement, a lot of energy and a lot of ideas," she said. "I hope to bring a collaborative spirit."

I don't see so much of a collaborative spirit as I do a willingness to dump handicapped kids into a crappy classroom, have them fix it up, then kick them out. Nice.

Voice your outrage, contact the Superintendent.
Shirley Carraway - Superintendent

October 02, 2006

My History With Unions

In the 1980s, when I was a youngish teenager, the UMWA (United Mine Workers America) came to Central Pennsylvania. There were a lot of strip mines around and almost all of them were non-union. The UMWA, to the best of my knowledge, had focused mostly on deep mines and was now pushing their way into the strip mine world. Which was all well in good you might say, but it wasn't.

My Dad had been a truck driver with one too many tickets, so he ended up driving a bulldozer in the mines. He moved up and around until he had done just about every job in a strip mine - dozer, rock truck, blasting, welding, mechanic. Until finally he was made night foreman. In the company he worked for, there were ten or twelve strip mines going at all times and each had their own daytime foreman. But, at night, my Dad was in charge of the whole thing and he traveled all around PA checking on different jobs. I went with him a few times and it was interesting work because each mine was different and each one had its own problems.

An unexpected consequence of this position was that he became close with the mine owner. Not like "Hey Bill, let's go huntin' together" close, but close as in he trusted my Dad's opinion on the mine operations and my Dad knew he wouldn't be misled. That was were it stood when the employees decided to gather to vote on allowing a union rep on site. This wasn't a vote to become a union mining operation, just to allow union reps on the site to talk with workers. Well, the owner sat my dad down and told him in no certain terms that the mines weren't making money anymore, he was just breaking even, and that his family had plenty of money. If the workers voted to allow unions on the site, they mines would be shut down.

He went to the meeting and said so, and not many believed him. They all thought the old man was lying and it caused a rift that exists to this day. Because, when the vote when for the union, many folks were surprised to find the mines chained up the next morning and their jobs gone. That was it. Not a stunt, not a gimmick, no more mines.

The old man kept my Dad on for a few months to see to the auctioning off of equipment, which turned out to be a curse. By the time he was done working there, the thousands of laid-off workers had scooped up all the decent jobs, which left Dad unemployed for nearly a year. Crappy jobs came and went for a few years until he finally landed the one he has now, running a logging equipment company. Those were lean years. No vacations, no trips, no new school clothes, plastic leather shoes for school, and I remember lots of rice and "casseroles" and watered down pasta sauce.
I learned to hate the unions that year, and that hatred lasted until I was in graduate school many years later.

jungleIt all changed when I read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. I saw then how unions had at one point been a force for good. How they had saved lives and raised the working class out of poverty. But, there is still a part of me that recalls the stories of auto workers being given 16 weeks of vacation once they had enough seniority and I can't help but revert when I hear about the plants closing down and Ford going under. I'm still of mixed emotions, even though I just joined my first union - District 19 of the State Employees Association of North Carolina. I know there is good for unions to do, which is why I have joined. But, the lessons of my youth are not to be forgotten, and won't be forgotten.

Latest Senate Polls

Here is a rundown of the latest senate polls:

  • Maryland, Ben Cardin (D) leads Michael Steele (R) 47% to 41%
  • Rhode Island, Sheldon Whitehouse (D) leads Lincoln Chafee (R) 42% to 41%
  • Pennsylvania, Bob Casey (D) leads Rick Santorum (R) 49% to 40%
  • Missouri, Jim Talent (R) is tied with Claire McCaskill (D) 43% to 43%
  • New Jersey, Bob Menendez (D) leads Tom Kean Jr (R) 44% to 41%
  • Washington, Maria Cantwell (D) leads Mike McGavick (R) 50% to 40%.
  • Virginia, George Allen (R-VA) is tied with Jim Webb (D) 43% to 43%.
  • Montana, Jon Tester (D) leads Conrad Burns (R-MT) 47% to 40%
  • Ohio, Sherrod Brown (D-OH) leads Mike DeWine (R-OH) 45% to 43%
  • Tennessee, Harold Ford, Jr. (D) leads Bob Corker (R) 43% to 42%
At this point, the caucusing numbers looks like this (Sanders (I-VT) and Lieberman (CfL-CT) expected to caucus with Dems):

That's right folks, we have 50 seats with the possible pickups in PA, RI, OH, MT, and TN (where Corker is handing us lots of scandal). Add to that tied races in two more states and it is starting to look like freaking Christmas around here. If the molestation scandal hits hard, then expect Allen's woes to continue as the Republican Party becomes the party of immorality and hatred. Or, more properly, the leadership of the Republican Party is finally exposed as immoral and hateful.

September 28, 2006

An Open Letter to John McCain:

dogDear Senator McCain,
This morning on NPR I overheard your fellow Senator and Republican, Trent Lott, say that using dogs for torture was understandable and acceptable. It was not a big deal because as he said they were simply barking at the detainees and haven't we all had a dog bark at us when we delivered a paper or something else to a neighbor? Sure, there are reports of a few cases where people have died from heart failure after receiving this treatment, but that isn't the intent.

It was this insight from Senator Lott that lead me to understand your change in position on torture. After all, many of the things we are "squabbling" about are really nothing more than everyday occurances.

I would like to straighten this out for my fellow Democrats after the break - if they have a strong stomach.

strappadoFirst, the process of hanging someone on hooks by their shoulders to break their shoulders. This was a very popular method of "coersion" in the Vietnam era, but should we consider it torture? I mean, who among us hasn't taken a hit in a sporting game that caused a "stinger"? This really isn't any different than that, as described here.

Two homemade metal handcuffs (made of reinforced steel bar and an iron lock) are put on the victim's wrists. Then, the victim's arms are lift up, parallel to the shoulders. The palms face down. The arms are twisted and pulled to the back. At this point, the palms have turned 270 degrees . The victim's arms are pulled back forcibly and unnaturally at the shoulder joints, until both arms form a 90 degree angle with the body. After that, the handcuffs on the two wrists are tied together with a shoelace.

...In the best case, the victim's arms are numb, the shoulder joints have no strength and the victim feel jolts of pain for more than one year. In the worst case, the victim's arms are disabled permanently.

Now, I know that many of you in Vietnam had this carried out until that stage where their arms were permanently damaged and disabled, but remember that isn't the intent. The intent is to do no permanent harm and to gain valuable intelligence information. Here's such a case.
When my senses returned I discovered I had been blindfolded and trussed into the "pretzel" position. Thick leg irons shackled my ankles, my wrists were tied behind me, and a rope bound my elbows just above the joints. The guards tightened the bindings by putting their feet against my arms and pulling the ropes until they couldn't pull any harder. Then they tied my wrists to my ankles and jammed a 10-foot pole between my back and elbows. After a few hours the leg irons began to press heavily on my shins and feet like a vise. The ropes strangled my flesh, causing searing pain and making my arms go numb and slowly turn black.

In the middle of the night, one of the less hostile guards, whom we called Mark, sneaked in and loosened the ropes a little. If he hadn't, I'm sure I would have lost both arms. In this case I would have vanished with the other badly injured POWs who never were repatriated.
Of course, they didn't get any information from this fellow prisoner.

water_boardingOkay, for number 2. Everyone's favorite, waterboarding. In waterboarding, well, why not let the same fellow prisoner describe water boarding.
Then I was told to write a war-crimes confession, saying I was sorry I'd participated in the war. When I refused, I got to serve as a stress reliever for about 20 guards -- each took his turn beating me to a pulp. They pounded me for six or eight hours. By then I was getting pretty shaky. Then they got serious. I was introduced to a bowl of water, some filthy rags and a steel rod. The guards stuffed a rag in my mouth with the rod, then, after putting another rag over my face, they slowly poured the water on it until all I was breathing was water vapor. I could feel my lungs going tight with fluid and felt like I was drowning. I thrashed in panic as darkness took over. As I passed out, thinking I was dying, I remember thanking God that we had made a stand against this kind of society.

Again, sure somebody might die from this kind of thing accidentally, but that isn't the intention. But, perhaps most importantly, this is really no different than getting knocked down by a big wave at the beach on a hot sunny day. Or, playing tag in the pool and getting an accidental mouthful of water, or even blowing milk out your nose. Now, I know there are some former POWs that say things like:

johnmccainpow2For instance, there has been considerable press attention to a tactic called "waterboarding," where a prisoner is restrained and blindfolded while an interrogator pours water on his face and into his mouth—causing the prisoner to believe he is being drowned. He isn't, of course; there is no intention to injure him physically. But if you gave people who have suffered abuse as prisoners a choice between a beating and a mock execution, many, including me, would choose a beating. The effects of most beatings heal. The memory of an execution will haunt someone for a very long time and damage his or her psyche in ways that may never heal. In my view, to make someone believe that you are killing him by drowning is no different than holding a pistol to his head and firing a blank. I believe that it is torture, very exquisite torture.

But, that guy, pictured here, probably doesn't understand how today's world has changed the "math" of torture.

And, of course there are other torture methods that are really no worse than other everyday occurances, like Senator Lott says.


For instance, Admiral James Stockdale was "physically tortured no fewer than 15 times. Techniques included beatings, whippings, and near-asphyxiation with ropes". But, is that really so different than what happens to frat brothers during rush each year?

And, as for beatings, well...


No, all in all, I guess ol' Trent Lott is right, many of these torture techniques are nothing more than good old fun. It makes a person wonder why so many people are up in arms? But, at least we understand now why you are not against torture, because you've lived through the fun and games and understand that it's just another barking dog, another mouth full of water, and another broken kidney. No biggie.mccain


Robert P.

September 27, 2006

Matthew Dowd, Bless His Heart.

On MSNBC Matthew Dowd just said that people don't care about the macaca comments, the "n" word, or any of that stuff. That it is only the press. Well, bless his heart.

In Virginia's U.S. Senate race, a new SurveyUSA poll finds Sen. George Allen (R-VA) with a slight edge over challenger Jim Webb (D), 49% to 44%.

Key findings: "Day-to-day data shows that the race is volatile. On Sunday 9/24, after Allen had been accused of using racial slurs in college, he led by 7 in SurveyUSA Sunday-only data . On Monday 9/25, after Allen strongly denied the accusations, he led by 11 in SurveyUSA Monday-only data. On Tuesday 9/26, after more people corroborated the accusations, Allen trailed Webb by 3 points, in Tuesday-only data. The 5-point Allen advantage shown here, when the 3 days of data are combined and averaged, cannot be considered stable."

UNC Best Value

According to the Herald-Sun, UNC was once again named Kiplinger's Best Value, the Costco of schools you might say.

CHAPEL HILL -- Kiplinger's Personal Finance once again has named UNC the best value in public colleges.

Carolina has topped the list each time the magazine has surveyed public colleges. The ranking rates the top 50 values in public colleges, using a quantitative ranking system, to find schools where students can receive a top education without accumulating significant debt.

The schools on Kiplinger's list were ranked according to academic quality, cost and financial aid. Public schools that made the top 50 keep costs down through creative financing, such as using funding from lottery tickets, university-branded apparel and private fundraisers.
I will come out here with something that is completely against the grain in CH. I think the University should cost more to attend. AND, I think the increase in costs should occur hand-in-hand with the creation of more high-quality universities in North Carolina. UNCA is considered a great undergraduate college. Other than that, the state is hurting for high-quality state schools. Why?

I would like to see UNCW, UNCC, UNCG, or ECU molded into a top-50 public institution. There is too much pressure to keep UNC-CH a great school and a cheap school. If we would work to create two or three EXCELLENT public colleges in North Carolina, we would be in a lot better shape.

Orange County coming to Cumberland?

The OCDP is organizing a GOTV effort with Cumberland county. It is supposed to happen the weekend of Oct. 21st, which I might not be able to make, unfortunately.

Stay tuned and as I find things out, I'll let you know.

September 25, 2006

What the Country/Senate Map Looks Like

This is a population map of JUST the Senate races in 2006 with a 50-50 final split of the Senate.

This is what it will look like if we have a big wave and win TN and VA.


Add to that seated Senators in Arkansas, Colorado, Oregon, Iowa, Illinois, and South Dakota and you've got a nice blue/purple map.

A welcome to it's a librarian thing...

any site that starts off with the Colbert On Notice board, is okay with me.

Lack of Responsibility

I just dropped my mom off at the airport after a wonderful week-long visit during which both of our kids had their birthday parties. It was great and I could write a lot about this week. But, something happened at the airport that I thought I would post a short blog on, because it seems indicative of what is wrong with our society.

As I dropped my mom off I overheard a woman discussing her flight with the valets at the curb. They told her that her 9:30 flight was delayed until 11:00. She was extremely upset and haughtily huffed, "Uh! They should have called." To which the valet replied, well they would have to call everyone. To which the woman said, "Exactly."

Now, the valet played it perfectly and said how that was just about right and he was sorry, etc. And, you know what? If she bought her ticket through Orbitz she would have gotten an automated phone call. But, to me the point was, "Who the hell do you think you are that it is someone ELSE'S responsibility to tell you your plane is late? What, you don't have a cell phone?"

Lack of responsibility. That is the problem with our country.

Personal responsibility.

Corporate responsibility.

Government responsibility.

September 22, 2006


I just found out my grant for shared instrumentation to the NIH got a lousy score. Not triaged, hopefully not bottom 50%, but lousy. Grrrrr...

Worked hard on this, thought it had a chance to get funded on first submission. I won't get back reviewer comments for a couple weeks and the program officer is out of the office. So, I'm left to...

September 21, 2006

Why has good news.

This site seems to be accepted by many in the blogger-know. I'm not sure. But, I do know this. Their results are good for us. Reasons why.

1. They give NJ to Republicans and I don't believe that will happen.

2. They have the Senate split 50-50, but take away the NJ red state and you have us in the lead 51-49.

Their map with linky

UPDATE: St. Thomas More - Intersection of Faith & Fordham

I read in the Orange Herald today that there was a discussion about the traffic problems caused/related-to St. Thomas More. As anyone who lives in Chapel Hill knows, events at the church cause a huge congestion on the surrounding roads as people try to get in and out of the "grounds". An interesting aside, I had no idea that the St. Thomas More site was 20.5 acres, so I googled it.

Wow, that is big. I'm not sure of the boundaries, maybe I can find a map later on the town site.

Anyway, the problem is:

The concept plan before the Town Council from St. Thomas More calls for a new Parish Center, gymnasium, library, classrooms, art and music building and athletic field.
Add that traffic to the traffic already there and Bam! you've got a problem. Okay, you already have a problem, but you have a BIGGER problem. While I think there are solutions, I have another question. Most Sundays and at least some other days (I'm not there when their school lets out) I see local police parked at the intersections manually running the traffic signals to ease the traffic congestion. On one hand, the traffic congestion is a "danger". On the other hand, I would imagine that it wouldn't interfere with 15/501 traffic if the signals were run as usual. It is the people leaving the church that would have long waits. Does that mean the town is paying its police officers to sit there for hours each week and operate a traffic signal so the church can empty out quicker?

Thanks to the fast footwork & phonework of Citizen Will and the CH staff.

From: Gregg Jarvies
Sent: Wednesday, September 20, 2006 9:20 AM
To: Roger Stancil
Cc: Carol Abernethy
Subject: RE: St Thomas More School

We do not provide officers to direct traffic on school days at St. Thomas More except for one or two days per year when a special event takes place. On Sundays officers are hired by the church to direct traffic. Our policy stipulates that any officer providing police services to a non-Town organization or for a function not sponsored by the Town must be hired by the organization through the police department, must be paid by the organization, and such work must be performed by the officer while he or she is in an off-duty status.
Officers working off-duty for non-Town functions are paid directly by the organization, not through Town payroll.

Well, of course the Chapel Hill Police handle this professionally. There is a reason we pay them so well, it keeps up retention, which means we have a very seasoned and professional force Serving & Protecting.