As we immerse ourselves in March Madness this weekend, a thought experiment for you: imagine that a majority of Americans were under the impression that the team that committed fewer fouls won the game. After all, not committing fouls is a good, even salutary, thing. It demonstrates self-discipline. It gives the other team fewer opportunities for what are literally called “free” throws. The propensity not to foul reflects a house in order, a group that plays by the rules, a team rich in inner—nay, even moral—strength. That is all self-evidently preposterous, of course. But it is exactly how we talk about the budget in Washington, such talk being driven by a Republican Party that is way out of the mainstream, saddled with near all-time-low approval ratings, and desperate for a campaign issue with which they can hold on to the House in 2014. How can the public be educated not to buy this nonsense? READ More....
Imagine A World (Even a North Carolina) Without Hate
By Gene Nichol, Boyd Tinsley Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina’s School of Law
For the first time in modern history, North Carolina is ruled entirely by Republicans. The vast tide of 2010, a seemingly unpopular incumbent governor, weak Democratic candidates, potently gerrymandered legislative districts, boatloads of ideological money, a still-lousy economy, energized evangelicals and, of course, an anti-Obama racial animus combined to decisively deliver both state houses, the governor’s mansion and the state Supreme Court to the Grand Old Party.
The victors are, to understate, striking while the iron is hot. Though we have among the highest poverty rates, the highest unemployment rates, the highest “food insecurity” rates, the highest uninsured rates and the highest levels of income inequality in the nation, our leaders have concluded, all facts to the contrary, that the only thing wrong with North Carolina is that those at the bottom have too much and those at the top don’t have enough. READ More....
House Approves Resolution to Keep Government Running; Bill Heads to White House
Congress has approved a short-term funding measure, averting the chance of a federal government shutdown next week. But a broader battle over taxes and spending for the year is only just beginning.
The House gave final approval Thursday, in a bipartisan 318 to 109 vote, to a continuing funding resolution that outlines spending through the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30. It assures that the government will stay open when the current funding measure expires March 27. The House vote came a day after the Senate approved the bill. It now goes to President Obama for his signature, ending a relatively smooth and drama-free process for a Congress that has repeatedly deadlocked on spending issues. But it only covers the next six months. READ More....
The Andes Chronicles: A Ban on Hydraulic Fracturing
Onceortwice a year I bring news from the small Catskills town of Andes, and usually the news concerns the ongoing battle to preserve the town’s rural character in the face of incursions from entrepreneurial energy companies. A few years back Andes passed an ordinance banning windturbines. Late last month the town board passed a law prohibiting heavy industry. The intended target of the law was hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the technique by which natural gas is extracted from underground rock formations that have been subjected to the high velocity impact of chemically laced water. READ More....
I went to a meeting earlier this winter in the Colorado Governor’s Office. I’m not a regular.
The Governor, John Hickenlooper, Hick to his friends, had called the meeting with Boulder County Commissioners to discuss the county’s draft regulations governing the recovery of oil and gas found in the county’s deep underground shale formations. The fact is that most of the state is underlain by these ancient and organically rich seabeds. All are ripe for exploitation through the use of the industry’s new mining technique called horizontal fracking.
In his haste, the governor had apparently forgotten that such meetings require the public be notified at least 24 hours in advance so they can listen in on the public’s business. This law has been on the books since 1972 and is widely used, but imperfectly understood, apparently, by the governor and his lieutenants. Hick was a long-term mayor of Denver before becoming governor. Its use is commonplace in city government.
To an outsider this meeting might sound like a tempest in a teapot, but as in most states with oil and gas reservoirs made recoverable through fracking, the state government of Colorado has said that it, and it alone, has the authority to regulate the oil and gas industry. The counties and cities may write their own regulations, but they must be in “harmony” with the state’s, and can not add conditions or requirements that would harm the industry’s bottom line. They are “preempted” from doing so. READ More....
Government Reports 236,000 Jobs For February, Far Over Estimates. Unemployment Rate Slips to 7.7%
The government announced that February was 29th consecutive month in which seasonally adjusted job gains outpaced losses Friday, 236,000 of them. That was far above the 160,000-171,000 that the consensus of experts surveyed ahead of time had forecast. The official unemployment rate fell to 7.7%, the lowest since before President Obama took office more than four years ago.
For the month, the private sector expanded by 246,000 jobs. Governments at all levels lost 10,000 jobs. Last February, the BLS reported a 271,000 seasonally adjusted jobs gain, suggesting that economic growth had finally broken free of its sluggish performance. But then the numbers slipped for most of the rest of the year, just as they had in 2010.
Even at this improved level, however, the jobs created in February aren't enough to quickly restore the labor market to its pre-recession levels. And critics note that productivity gains are going almost exclusively to employers not workers. Moreover, median household income is 8.1 percent less than it was in 2000 and corporate profits have doubled. Put simply, on average, even those Americans with jobs are not faring as well as they were before the Great Recession. READ More....
Four years ago, as a newly elected president began his efforts to rescue the economy and strengthen the social safety net, conservative economic pundits — people who claimed to understand markets and know how to satisfy them — warned of imminent financial disaster. Stocks, they declared, would plunge, while interest rates would soar.
Even a casual trawl through the headlines of the time turns up one dire pronouncement after another. “Obama’s radicalism is killing the Dow,” warned an op-ed article by Michael Boskin, an economic adviser to both Presidents Bush. “The disciplinarians of U.S. policy makers return,” declared The Wall Street Journal, warning that the “bond vigilantes” would soon push Treasury yields to destructive heights.
Sure enough, this week the Dow Jones industrial average has been hitting all-time highs, while the current yield on 10-year U.S. government bonds is roughly half what it was when The Journal published that screed.
O.K., everyone makes a bad prediction now and then. But these predictions have special significance, and not just because the people who made them have had such a remarkable track record of error these past several years. READ More....
The DNC is launching a new website at GOPSequester.com, which will serve as one stop shopping for all press stories, tweets, videos, graphics, and DNC products highlighting the negative impact of the #GOPsequester. The site will allow you to search effects of the GOP sequester by issue area or location, and each of the hundred items posted will be easily shareable with your networks.
All of the effects highlighted on this site are the consequence of a decision made by congressional Republicans— to put our economy at risk and sacrifice hundreds of thousands of jobs through their insistence on slashing vital services important to middle class Americans, our seniors, children, and men and women in uniform and their families, rather than agreeing to a balanced approach to reducing our deficit which includes smart spending cuts and eliminating tax loopholes for the wealthiest Americans.
Today, the NC Republican House leadership announced a process to hold a public hearing and move toward adopting legislation that would eventually require voters to show a photo ID when they vote in person. House Elections Law Committee Chair Rep. David Lewis indicated that legislators are slowing down and moving away from a harsh ID bill because of strong opposition from elected leaders, civic organizations and voters like YOU!
Thanks to all of you who have written letters to the editor, emailed, called and met with your legislators to protect voting rights in NC. You are already making a difference!
Rep. Lewis says he wants to hear from people who oppose photo ID – and we appreciate the invitation! Let’s show up and be heard!
The public hearing is at the General Assembly next Tuesday, March 12, from 4 PM to 6 PM (or later if necessary). It will be held in Room 643 of the Legislative Office Building, corner of Salisbury and Lane Streets in Raleigh.
Come and speak up about how voter ID will impact you, your family or people in your community. Please sign up by clicking on the button below and invite others to join you! Sign up today and we’ll send more details as we receive them! Sign up to Speak!
Where We Stand
Democracy North Carolina continues to oppose a photo ID requirement as a needless and expensive barrier to equal access and participation in the elections process. However, we also recognize that the ID advocates have the votes to pass a bill. We accept their invitation to offer positive suggestions that protect election integrity and ensure that no eligible voter is turned away or made to come back a second time simply because they lack or forget to bring a photo ID when they vote.
Rep. Lewis expressed a commitment to ensure that every eligible citizen is allowed to vote. That should be the goal we all share: to honor every citizen’s right to cast a ballot that counts, as our state constitution promises. Let’s hold them to it! See you next Tuesday – don’t forget to sign up
The legislature requires people who want to speak to sign up in advance and spots are first come, first served. If you want to speak at the hearing, it is important that you call Rep. David Lewis’s office as soon as possible to sign up to speak at Tuesday’s hearing. Spots are filling up! The phone number is 919-715-3015. Give them your name, address, and phone number. If no one answers, leave the same information on the voice mail and ask them to call you back to confirm that you are signed up to speak.
Please come to the hearing if you can, even if you do not want to speak. Again, to help give us a sense of how many people we should expect, please register here. If you have any questions, just give DemocracyNC a call at 919-286-6000.
WUNC-FM on March 5th: WV & PA Mines Filling with Fracking Water
WUNC-FM radio’s “The Story” on Tues, March 5, will feature a West Virginia/PA Riverkeeper who is seeing ALL dead fish in the river...from coal mines that are filling up with fracking water. Have you heard about this! Show time is 1 pm.
The Political Forces Behind the Attack on the Voting Rights Act
Take it from the ultraconservative and increasingly unrestrained Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia: What’s really at stake in the case of Shelby County v. Holder isn’t simply the technical constitutionality of Sections 4 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but as he remarked during Wednesday’s oral argument in the case, the “perpetuation of racial entitlement” in the law’s renewal.
We can thank Scalia for his candor, not just because his comment telegraphed his expected vote on the matter, but because the remark demonstrated how closely he and the four other Republican appointees to the high court have aligned themselves with the right-wing and libertarian interest groups behind the Shelby litigation. READ More
Approaches to production cost-sharing for “hold-outs”; establishing the drilling unit; indemnification when things go wrong; adverse financial impacts from a royalty check; who owns the water if y [ ... ]
By Lynn Stuart Parramore
The party has long relied on a single study to justify austerity measures. Then Thomas Herndon crunched the numbers.
The world of economics has just changed, and some [ ... ]
More feasibility studies for highway improvements in Chatham; financial disclosure required to serve on committees; why property revaluation for taxes is a good thing; who does NOT own their mineral r [ ... ]
A Message from CHATHAM CITIZENS FOR EFFECTIVE COMMUNITIES
The Chatham County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) will soon send "something" to the Board of Commissioners (BOC) regarding the appare [ ... ]