Friday, June 27, 2008

But the sinnin' was in Charlotte!

It’s Friday afternoon, no time for heavy lifting. But Daily Views has one last bone to pick before the whistle blows.
Former House Speaker Jim Black, D-Mecklenburg has paid $500,000 of his million-dollar fine for accepting illegal payments from campaign contributors, mostly in cash received in men’s bathrooms.
He paid the money to the Wake County School system. That’s where he was convicted, and that’s what state law requires.
Wait a minute. The sin took place here.

The cash (or at least a hefty chunk of it) passed hands in Charlotte. We’ve had to suffer the stigma of having our former representative at the center of North Carolina's worst corruption scandal.
But Raleigh gets the money?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

We are the gas hogs, my friend

Bet the Chamber of Commerce won’t put this ranking on its Website or propaganda brochures: Men’s Health magazine has ranked Charlotte a “fossil fool,” meaning its number-crunching found residents are among the worst gas hogs in the nation.

Our peers? Not Seattle or Portland or Austin, places economic developer types here like to throw out as comparables.
No, siree, we’re down there with dinosaurs such as the Motor City, Houston and – are you ready for this – Smog Haven USA: Los Angeles.
OK. So Men’s Health is also the dispenser of advice about how to rev your woman’s engine (we started to attach the link but the article made us blush.) How serious should we take its bashing for having overactive odometers and penchant for petroleum?
Take it this way: We are the gas hogs, my friend (with apologies from the Queen City to the rock group Queen). Apparently we love it. And at $4 a gallon, that’s nothing to brag about.
What will it take to change our ways?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Citizen patrols, yes. Guns, no.

Guns change everything. That’s not to condemn guns, but it is a simple statement of fact.

Case in point: Citizen patrol groups such as the new one in Charlotte’s Plaza Midwood are healthy and helpful. They extend the eyes of police in neighborhoods, and can do a lot of good. But when the citizens on patrol strap on weapons, as some in that new group will, things change. Their efforts walk a precarious line between fighting crime and vigilantism. New Haven, Conn. has confronted the issue, too.
It’s natural to want to protect yourself against potential danger. But a citizen with a gun can, in a split second, make a mistake with permanent consequences.
Besides, citizens shouldn’t have to strap on weapons and walk the streets to feel as though their neighborhood is secure. Hear that, members of City Council, the arbiters of local priorities?
Charlotte's police and City Council should actively oppose armed citizens on organized patrols. It's a recipe for tragedy and an invitation to lawlessness.
What do you think?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hate-mongers crawl out of the woodwork

The hate-mongers have been hard at work since Barack Obama’s historic victory in the Democratic primaries.
According to the Washington Post, white supremacists report an increase in visits to their Web sites.
Meanwhile, the Obama campaign has launched an effort called Fight the Smears to defuse false rumors spread on the internet by hate-mongers.
Was it too much to hope this kind of ugliness would not crawl out of the woodwork?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Will Bush attract more than money?

Pat McCrory’s gubernatorial campaign and the Republican party likely raked in the cash when President George Bush dropped in at a private Raleigh fund-raiser Friday.

But will a president with a low approval rating draw McCrory undecided or middle-of-the-road votes in his bid to be North Carolina’s next governor? His approval rating is averaging about 30 percent nationwide, and 40 percent in N.C.

Click here to check what recent polls tracked.

The latest from American Research Group in New Hampshire found Bush’s approval rating at a record low.

“George W. Bush’s overall job approval has dropped to 25% as Republicans and
independents are less apt to say they approve of the way Bush is handling his
job as president ... .”

McCrory said he’s not planning to distance himself from Bush.
But other than raising money, does Bush command enough respect in North Carolina to be an asset or a liability?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Poll: A close, unchanged race

The latest poll by the Civitas Institute finds the N.C. governor’s race almost a dead heat.
The conservative think tank released new numbers today, and found not much had changed for Republican (and Charlotte Mayor) Pat McCrory and Democrat Bev Perdue since the last poll in May.
Here’s a summary from the news release:
“Lt. Governor Bev Perdue and Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory remain in a virtual
dead heat in the race for governor according to a new poll released today by the
Civitas Institute. Of the 600 likely general election voters surveyed, 43
percent supported Perdue while 41 percent supported McCrory. Libertarian
candidate Michael Munger received support of two percent of respondents.
Fourteen percent were undecided.”
Click here to read the details.
Are you undecided? Why or why not?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Common sense, not gun control

There’s a law against selling guns to those who are mentally ill, but in North Carolina, there may as well not be. State courts are not required to notify the national registry of involuntary commitment orders.

That makes N.C. one of a handful of states where required background checks by gun dealers would turn up no record of a dangerous illness.

How important is this detail? Seung-Hui Cho, the student at Virginia Tech who killed 32 students and faculty before killing himself in April 2007, had been involuntarily committed by court order. But he was not listed on the NICBCS. Virginia requires that step now, but did not at that time. A gun dealer who sold him handguns days before the killing had no way of knowing.

Most people with mental illnesses don’t commit a public massacre. The greater risk is they will turn a gun on themselves. That’s why N.C.’s loophole ought to be closed, and a state Senate judiciary committee has approved legislation that would do so. It would require clerks of court to register the names of those involuntarily committed with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Some gun advocates call this step gun control. We call it common sense.

What do you think?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

UNCC football: Punt or game-ender?

Chancellor Phil Dubois has punted, for now, on a decision about whether UNC Charlotte should start a football program.
He told university trustees Thursday he’ll continue to vet serious questions about the cost and benefits and get back to them in the fall.
That will not make vocal advocates of 49er football happy. But maybe he’s trying to figure out a way around this huge hurdle: Research showed 66 percent of the revenue needed for football would have to come from raising non-optional student athletic fees. Students could have to pay as much as $300 more to support football, putting that fee way out of whack with the other 16 campuses of the university system.
Daily Views predicts that’s a show-stopper (and it ought to be). Daily Views also predicts that’s a no-go with the grand poobahs of the UNC system, Erskine Bowles and the UNC Board of Governors.
What do you think? Is Dubois stalling for time? Or has he stopped the game to let the crowd down easy?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

How to win the New Yorker's cartoon caption contest (and maybe the Observer's)

Patrick House, a recent winner of the New Yorker's Cartoon caption contest, has revealed his strategy on, and most of what he said strikes me about right. There are, of course, differences between the New Yorker's contest and The Observer's You Write the Caption, so not everything he says is applicable to our contest -- for instance, the gatekeeper and final judge at The Observer is the same person, and who knows what's shaped his sense of humor, and no one's ever been disqualified from making him laugh out loud -- but Mr. House has one insight that sums up a winning approach better than any I've seen in print:

You must aim for what is called a "theory of mind" caption, which requires the reader to project intents or beliefs into the minds of the cartoon's characters. An exemplary New Yorker theory of mind caption (accompanying a cartoon of a police officer ticketing a caveman with a large wheel): "Yeah, yeah — and I invented the ticket." The humor here requires inference about the caveman's beliefs and intentions as he (presumably) explains to the cop that he invented the wheel. A non-theory-of-mind caption (accompanying a cartoon of a bird wearing a thong), however, requires no such projection: "It's a thongbird." Theory of mind captions make for higher-order jokes easily distinguished from the simian puns and visual gags that litter the likes of MAD Magazine. To date, 136 out of the 145 caption contest winners (94 percent) fall into the "theory of mind" category.
With this recipe now out there in cyberspace, we look forward to your cartoon caption shaving cream pies. Fire away! -- Kevin Siers

Monday, June 2, 2008

Who should pay to deport illegals?

Here’s a fine point that shouldn’t get lost in the U.S. Senate race sniping over immigration policy and illegal immigrants: Should tax money collected to pay for local needs be used to pay to enforce federal laws?
Incumbent Republican Elizabeth Dole and her Democratic challenger, Kay Hagan, have been sparring over the voluntary 287(g) program, used by Mecklenburg and two other counties in N.C., which gives sheriffs authority to enforce some federal immigration laws against illegal immigrants charged with other crimes.
Dole says federal money pays start-up costs and training.
But Hagan has questioned whether it's good policy to use local resources to enforce federal policy laws.
What do you think?