Friday, August 29, 2008

David's last day in Denver with Democrats

David McKee, 15, of Waxhaw, has been giving us his impressions of the Democratic Convention in Denver all week. He is part of the Junior Statesmen of America group. This is his final dispatch from Denver. He'll be at the GOP Convention in St. Paul, Minn., next week:

"What an amazing day (Thursday)! We got up at 7 a.m. and went to downtown Denver where I finally got to go back to a great breakfast restaurant called the Delectable Egg. It was great. The French toast was divine. I am a big breakfast guy, and I loved this place! I have made a lot of friends with other students on this trip with Junior state while here, and it was fun to just go and hang out.
We walked over to Invesco field from downtown Denver. It was a very long walk, and we had to go along highways with no sidewalks. We stood in line for security for a long time, and I ended up getting searched, because I didn't take every thing out of my pockets when I went through the metal detectors.

We ended up at the stadium for about 9 hours. There were a lot of speakers and music too. We were in the back corner of the stadium, on the North West corner, with the stage facing South. So we were basically behind the stage. But it didn't matter. We were there for the making of history.

For me personally, Al Gore's being there and speaking was just amazing beyond belief. My most important issue is to reverse Global Warming and create new clean energy sources so that we are free of oil. Al Gore is my inspiring role model now, and in my future political life. His endorsement was for me the most important endorsement of this election.

Obama's speech at Invesco Field last night was remarkable. It was a thing to see him in person. He is down to earth, and just a regular Joe like you and me. He is just an amazing speaker, with a great voice. He stated what he is going do when he gets into office and that was great. I especially liked the idea of being free of foreign oil in 10 years. I really trust Obama. In fact I would trust him with my life if I knew him as friend.
Thursday's events at the convention: I thought it was very gracious of Hillary to skip the roll call and just let Obama be declared the nominee. Bill Clinton gave a good speech as well, but I think he talked too much about Hillary. I wish he had said more about Obama, but he did really energize the crowd.
The speech by Joe Biden was very good. I think that Biden has strengthened the ticket and increased the odds of the Democrats' winning. I loved the unannounced appearance of Obama. It was fun.
After we left our evening of watching the convention, we started back to our bus but the street we had to walk down was blocked. We saw the bomb squad was there, and they were shouting "Get back, get back!" and we had to leave. They exploded something that was a suspicious package of some kind I think. I don't know what it was, but when they set it off there was a really loud BOOM that rang in your ears. The blast got our adrenaline flowing.

I am flying home today. I was worried that I had missed my flight this morning, but relieved to find that I had just looked at the time wrong. I have had a great time here, the time of my life. I am looking forward to going next week to St. Paul for the Republican convention. It will be interesting to compare the two conventions after it's all over. I leave for that one early on Sunday morning, and my friend and fellow Charlotte Teen Voices Junior Statesmen Chapter officer, Catherine Michniak, is coming too. We are both excited!

Shrewd choice, but with risks

Could this campaign possibly get more interesting?

Sen. John McCain's pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for his ticket is a shrewd move. It's been obvious for weeks plenty of Hillary Clinton supporters – many of them women disgusted at what they saw as misogyny in the presidential campaign that plenty of liberals never noticed or decried – weren't sold on Barack Obama. How many will now consider voting for the McCain-Palin ticket? Probably quite a few.

Palin is attractive (she was runner-up in the 1984 Miss Alaska pageant), mother of five, an avid outdoorswoman with a reputation as a reformer in a state whose long-time U.S. senator is under indictment. Wikipedia reported she was also point guard on a state championship high school basketball team – that's sure to resonate with North Carolinians. She's a former union member, married to a union member.

On the other hand, it's the undecided and independent voters who will likely decide this election. They're an unpredictable crowd, with diverse interests and outlooks. Choosing a socially conservative, pro-NRA, reform-minded woman may well be quirky enough to win over independents who might have been wavering toward Obama, or those who don't really look at policy positions and issue statements so much as going with their gut.

It's shrewd but it's also risky. Many Clinton supporters are disgusted with the Republican Party's and the Bush administration's steady assault on legal abortion. Bush's Supreme Court choices have put Roe v. Wade clearly in jeopardy. McCain himself is staunchly anti-abortion, despite all the trial balloons about choosing an abortion rights veep candidate. So is Palin.

How many Clinton supporters would be OK with such an anti-abortion ticket, versus those who would approve and those who don't care? Hard to predict.

Also, as political analysts were speedy to point out, it will be tricky now for McCain and the GOP to keep attacking Obama's lack of experience.

McCain is 72 (his birthday is today) and has had cancer twice. He's reported to be cancer-free and in good health. But any actuarial table will show he's less likely to live through an eight-year set of presidential terms than a 47-year-old like Obama. How much will voters fret over the possibility of a vice president with so little political experience?

Palin's been governor of a state with only 670,000 people – it's about the size of Charlotte – and only since election in 2006. Before that she was on the city council and then mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, population 5,470, although she ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2002.

This year's campaign has already made history – twice – and been as fun to watch as any Aaron Sorkin script might have been. The next two months will continue this historic campaign's role.

Posted by Mary Newsom.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Day 4: David in Denver at Dems gathering

David McKee, 15, of Waxhaw is at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. These are impressions he e-mailed to the Daily Views today:

Today is going to be great. We are guaranteed a seat at the Obama acceptance speech because the whole Junior Statesmen group is volunteering at Invesco field to help with the event. We had to arrive at the stadium this morning at 9 a.m. because we have to get through all the security. I had to get an official North Carolina ID before I left, just for this event, because only state-issued ID's or passports are acceptable proof of identity to get into this event. Security is so tight.

On Wednesday we had a wonderful speaker discussing body langauage that I mentioned in my last dispatch. Dr. LaTosha Bruce came to our speakers' forum to talk to us about "Rhetoric in action, the effects of body language." She showed us videos on different aspects of body language, and we talked about some specifics. For example, the way a person's feet point tells you a lot about what they are thinking. Feet pointing towards the speaker mean they are listening. Feet pointed away from the speaker tell you they are not interested, and they want to leave. Everyone has a personal space of about 3-4 feet around them. When people are being aggressive towards someone, they often lean into their personal space. This way they communicate dominance with out saying anything. If you step forward into someone's personal space, it's seen as more intimate conversation. If someone steps back a pace from you, it means they don't like you! Persuasive people have good use of body language. Active body language is a good thing. Barack Obama gets a good work out from all the movement in his speeches. That means he is using lots of good body language!

Mr. Joel Benenson, who is a pollster and senior strategist for the Obama campaign, spoke to us about polling and how polls are used in planning a campaign. He said he doesn't put much stock into general polls, such as "Do you prefer Obama or McCain"? These polls can fluctuate wildly from day to day and they really don't show anything concrete, even though they get a lot of attention from the media. He says the polls that really matter are polls on issues. Political campaigns use polls on different issues in order to formulate thier platform.

One more interesting thing I learned on Wednesday. Mr. Peter Fenn talked to us about advertising in politics. He noted that these days ads are being used almost like press releases. That when a candidate wants to get something out there, it's easier for them to make an ad, get it on YouTube and quickly spread their message that way rather than a traditional press release. This is a real change in the way a campaign gets the word out.

These speakers really make an impact on me. When we spoke with the Democratic Youth Council, one guy in our group asked the most interesting question. He said "I want to be involved, what do I do?" They said "just start any way you can. Work in your community, volunteer to work with your town council or at your mayor's office. Just start any way you can!" I want to start when I get home.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Local teen helps set up for Obama's speech

David McKee, 15, of Waxhaw, is spending this week at the Democratic national Convention in Denver with the Junior Statesmen of America. Here's his dispatch on what it's been like:

On Tuesday afternoon I attended the Democratic Youth Council. They talked to us about the importance of the youth vote. I am so excited to hear that one of the youngest democrats serving in the nation is North Carolina State government representative Tricia Ann Cotham and she is representing Charlotte!! I am so impressed with this fact that I had to call both my parents on the spot to tell them. I don't think they realized that Charlotte is making history (and in fact, neither of them knew about this).

I am thinking a lot about Jim Leach, the republican that endorsed Obama on Monday night at the convention. His speech showed me that real unity CAN be achieved between the Democrats and the Republicans. He is a guy that wants what's best for the regular guy, not just what's best for the big companies.

Hillary's speech. Wow. It was good and powerful and well formulated. But I don't think that she got through to the hard-core Hillary supporters. I liked her speech and thought it was very good. Maybe she should have said "I know you want to vote for McCain so that I can run again in four years, but you need to vote Barack Obama."

The other teens at the convention are really nice. Everybody is as into politics as I am. It makes me feel very happy I guess. We missed the delegates' breakfast today because some people didn't get ready on time. I am really disappointed. I really wanted to go and talk to the delegates. But at our Junior Statesmen speakers forum today, we have had several interesting speakers. Earlier, there was a rumor that Oprah is going to come and talk to us. But sadly that turned out to be just a rumor.

Junior State has lined up so many great speakers for our group. I am learning so much from these speakers. I really enjoy this part. First up was a speaker that discussed the use of race in past political campaigns. Historically race has been used in the past to stir people's emotions to try and influence how they vote. The speaker felt that very little of that had happened in this campaign which is progress.

Next was Dr. LaTosha Bruce, an expert on rhetoric and body language. She gave us several fascinating tips on how body language communicates more than words do. She said that people use their hands to point to their most valuable assets. So when Obama points at the crowd, he is saying that the people listening are the most important thing to him.

We had Mr. Peter Fenn, president of Fenn communications' group come and talk to us about campaign advertising. He disscussed how there are two types of negative campaigning direct attack and comparison attack. It's wierd to think that there are people who actually sit around and plan negative campaign attack ads.

I am concerned about Bill Clinton speaking tonight I worry that he may give more amunition to the Republicans to use against Barack Obama. I am not sure why he is speaking at the convention. I guess because he was the last Democratic president.
Tomorrow, the Junior Statesmen teens are volunteering at Invesco field for the Obama's acceptance speach event. We have to be there at 9 am to get through the Secret Service security and to help set up for the event. I am not sure what we will be doing, but I am really excited to be part of this.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Local teen in "his element" at convention

David McKee, 15, of Waxhaw, is attending the Democratic Convention in Denver as part of the Junior Statesmen of America program. Here's a dispatch from him on Tuesday:
"This morning we listened to former Senator Bob Graham. He is also former governor of Florida. He said that he has held 408 different jobs during his life time! Among his jobs was an MTV video for Jimmy Buffet. It's about a couple that goes to Florida and falls in love with someone else. He played the husband in the video. Senator Graham has been a real Jack of all trades. I guess politics is the job that stuck.

We also heard from George McGovern who ran for president in 1972. He talked about his military service and his time in the second world war. He compared the prime of his life to this time. He remembers when delegates were elected by middle-aged white guys who just nominated other middle aged white guys. A lot has changed, and he thinks it is good. He compared Barack Obama's speaking style to that of Abraham Lincoln. McGovern said that there needs to be humor in politics, and that Obama brings that into his speeches. He thinks that Obama speaks in a way that he himself can understand, in a way that is more like the average guy.

On this trip, one of the other teens that I met is a neo-conservative/ Libertarian. He doesn't like John McCain, he likes Ron Paul. He thinks we should privatize everything. He thinks that we should have minimal government. He thinks people riot at protests just because the police are there. He thinks if the police where not present at a protest then things would be peaceful. He says that Libertarians want no police, no federal reserve, no government regulation at all, no taxes at all. I thought to myself, without taxes, how would you run schools, and build bridges and roads? He's very nice, but I had to work hard to keep my composure while talking to him. I decided not talk politics with him, just keeping it casual!

We then heard from Andrea Stewart-Cousins, former New York state senator from Albany, where we used to live. She talked about what she did in the state senate. We moved from Albany NY to Charlotte six years ago, and for me her voice sounded like home.

Our next Speaker talked about gender issues. She was a really strong old fashioned feminist. She thought that gender should be the most important issue in this election. She felt that all women should be voted for just because they are women. Obviously, as an aspiring Senator myself, I didn't quite agree.

I am looking forward to Hillary speaking. Who wouldn't?

Monday night during the speeches, I though that Ted Kennedy was amazing. He's a great speaker. I was moved by what he had to say. I especially remember him saying "that the dream will live on and that Barack will carry the torch forward".

I feel like I am in my element. I am surrounded by people who love what I love!

What it's like at the Democrats' convention

David McKee is our teen correspondent at the Democratic Convention in Denver. Here's his dispatch on how things are going. He had computer trouble so his mom Carol sent this to us late Monday night:

"David arrived in Denver Sunday afternoon on a smooth direct flight from Charlotte. He was met at the airport by the folks at Junior Statesmen of America. Teens from all over the country have come to Denver for the convention. In fact, while hundreds of teens applied, only 250 nationally were chosen to attend. David is one of only six teens from the State of North Carolina to be chosen. They got up very early this morning (5 AM) in order to attend the North Carolina delegates breakfast at the convention center. Just the teens from our state were present at this breakfast, where they were able to sit and talk to the delegates, and listen to State Party leaders address the group.
"In the afternoon, they were whisked off to the Cable center at University of Denver for a Meet the Delegates speakers program. David was most impressed hearing from the youngest super delegate at the convention, Stephen Rae who is just 18 years old. For David, who is very passionate about politics, it was encouraging to see that you don't need to middle aged in order to be active in your party. David aspires to be a Senator, and is also very encouraged to hear that the Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden began his Senate career at the age of 29. Maybe he wont need to wait 30 years to get involved!

"After a quick dinner, it's off to the Denver Convention center for a watch party for this evenings convention activities. He is looking forward to hearing Michelle Obama speaking, and is hoping that the rumor about Ted Kennedy's appearance tonight turns out to be true.
Security is very, very tight here. It is hard to even get near to the Pepsi Center. There are lots of protesters out on the streets.
"Tomorrow the Junior Statesmen teens will hear from Former FL. Gov. Bob Graham and 1972 George McGovern. In the afternoon, they will attend Democratic youth Council at the convention center. "

Michelle O nailed it

Watching Michelle Obama's speech Monday night was like watching gymnast Nastia Liukin dazzle the Beijing crowds with a flawless tumbling routine.

Obama's task was to dispel the Republicans' attempts to portray her and her husband, Barack, as "elites," to make clear she loves her country and – probably most difficult – to walk the cliff edge that Americans require of any potential First Lady.

First Lady candidates are supposed to be warm, charming and socially flawless – without seeming the least bit studied or overly concerned about manners and appearances. Without looking as if they care too much about wardrobes, hairstyles or their looks they're supposed to be attractive and fashionable and have perfect eyebrows.

They're supposed to be smart and accomplished – without raising any suspicions that they might actually try to have anything to do with their husband's public policies. They're supposed to favor women's rights, and careers are fine as long as they make clear they think of themselves as wives and mothers foremost and, perhaps most important, know how to bake cookies.

Michelle Obama pulled it off. She talked movingly, yet with flawless poise and delivery, of growing up on Chicago's South Side in a blue-collar family with a father who suffered from multiple sclerosis and a mother whom she called a "rock." She talked about her husband's similarly middle- and working-class background, and of his love for his daughters. And she talked about her love of her country.

Some McCain supporters have tried to portray her as a Marxist liberal activist and as an "angry black woman" along the lines of '60s leftist activist Angela Davis, although she's a hospital executive and a corporate lawyer. Monday night she needed to dispel critics who pounded her in February for a supposed lack of patriotism after she said: "People in this country are ready for change and hungry for a different kind of politics, and ... for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback."

She did all that with grace, charm and a 150-watt smile. It was the equivalent of a double back flip with a twist. (And her eyebrows looked just terrific.)

Posted by Mary Newsom

Monday, August 25, 2008

Women voting? Not so crazy an idea

Before August 26, 1920 when the 19th Amendment became law, women had to make a case for why they should be allowed to vote. In North Carolina, the Equal Suffrage Association of North Carolina laid out theirs in a written statement called, "Twelve Reasons Why Women Should Vote." Among their commonsense reasons were these:
Because those who obey the laws should help choose those who make the laws.
Because laws have an effect on women as much as men.
Because laws affecting children should include the woman's point of view as much as the man's.
Women's Equality Day Tuesday acknowledges the struggle of women in getting the right to vote. N.C. women had a long fight on their hands. When the first women's suffrage bill came before state lawmakers, it was referred to the committee on insane asylums. That's right. Women voting was considered crazy.
N.C. was the next to last state to ratify the 19th Amendment, with lawmakers approving in 1971. Mississippi was the longest holdout, waiting until 1984 to give its stamp of approval. Better late than never, we suppose.
Find these and other facts about the women's suffrage movement in North Carolina on the UNC university libraries site,

Catharsis: smells like politics

From YouTube: a new product just in time for the Democratic convention . . .

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Biden: Safe, savvy choice. But does it matter?

Sen. Joe Biden was a safe and savvy choice for a vice presidential candidate to run with Barack Obama. But unless the choice is someone voters believe unfit to step in as president, does the second name on a presidential ticket really matter?

Biden, 65, a six-term Delaware senator who has chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee and now chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, brings decades of Washington expertise to the ticket. He's a blue-collar Catholic who was born in Scranton, Pa., a state expected to be a key battleground in November.  

What voters look for in a veep candidate is someone whom they're comfortable with as a fill-in president, in case something happens to the chief executive. They don't want a dumbbell, a crook (remember Spiro Agnew?) or anyone with unexamined skeletons in the closet. 

Joe Biden fits that bill. He's had his share of uncomfortable publicity, because he, too, ran for president– in 1988 and this year. But his gaffes have been extensively aired: In 1988 he gave a speech with wording suspiciously similar to one given by British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock.  In 2007, he got in trouble for saying, of Obama's candidacy, that he is "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy." And campaigning in New Hampshire he said, "You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent."  It's easy to see why the guy didn't go into a career as a diplomat.

Some die-hard Hillary Clinton supporters are disappointed, of course. But choosing Clinton – if she would have accepted – might well have lost as many voters as it gained. She remains a divisive figure, and some undetermined number of voters simply aren't ready to vote for a woman. 

Joe Biden's not a guy who keeps his mouth closed. That could make for a more interesting campaign. Whether it will make the difference between victory and defeat for Barack Obama is nothing anyone can, at this stage of the campaign, say with any certitude.

Friday, August 22, 2008

How many homes make you 'elite'?

Er, just who's the "elitist" again? Looks as if the John McCain supporters trying to depict Democrat Barack Obama as elitist might oughtta change their tune. It turns out McCain didn't know how many homes he and his wife, Cindy, own. The answer, Sen. McCain, is at least eight. asked McCain Wednesday how about the number of homes he and his wife own. McCain said, "I think -- I'll have my staff get back to you."

A Politico analysis of property and tax records and interviews found that the McCain family owns at least eight. (Listen here to the question and response: Download here)

Technically McCain doesn't own any homes. They're all owned by his wife, Cindy, her dependent children and the trusts and companies they control. Cindy McCain inherited control of her father's beer distributorship -- Arizona's largest -- and is worth an estimated $100 million.

Politico found five of the eight McCain properties were purchased between summer 2004 and last February, for a total of $11 million. They're condominiums: Two are near San Diego and three are in Phoenix. One of the Phoenix condos became the couple's primary Phoenix residence after a Cindy McCain family trust in 2006 sold for $3.2 million the house in which they raised their children. It's 6,600 square feet and cost $4.7 million.

The two California condos, in Coronado, cost a total of $4.7 million. Cindy McCain bought them in 2004 and this year, through another family corporation. The other homes are: a ranch outside Sedona, Ariz.; a three-bedroom Arlington, Va., condo; a La Jolla, Calif., condo that's home to Cindy McCain's elderly aunt and on which the family trust recently paid nearly $7,000 in back taxes.

Of course, the Obama campaign created a video ad almost instantly. And McCain's campaign continued to lambaste Obama for having a "mansion" in Chicago. They may want to rethink that strategy. Obama and his wife paid $1.65 million for their home in 2005. And there's only one of it.

Fighting over who's "elite" is silly. Wealth neither confers success nor guarantees failure. Consider elites George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and both Roosevelts. Consider non-elites Richard Nixon and Andrew Johnson -- and Abraham Lincoln. It was ridiculous when George Bush -- scion of a family with generations of wealth -- depicted John Kerry as too "elite."

(Irony noted: Kerry had married an heiress. Wonder what the GOPers who pooh-poohed that in 2004 are saying about Cindy McCain?)

Any voter who's deciding whom to vote for based on who's an elite isn't using enough brain cells.

Posted by Mary Newsom

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Smooth start for school buses? That's a laugh riot

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials are saying they're in better shape for the start of school this year than last year because they've got no school bus driver vacancies. We're pleased to hear that.

But if you think the first week of school bus rides will go smoothly, we have some underwater land we'd like to sell you.

With 111,000 students riding 135,000 miles daily, and 37,000 sub stops, there will be problems. Many problems. It's impossible not to have them. Buses will break down. Drivers will get sick. Those "practice runs" many drivers take don't iron out all the wrinkles.

Experienced CMS parents know the first week of school bus riding is fraught with problems. Is the bus late, or does it not have your child's stop on its list? Should you give up and drive to school, or wait another 10 minutes? And if you call the school transportation office, will anyone answer?

In previous years, parents couldn't get answers because all the bus office lines were busy and stayed that way for hours.

If CMS can solve its inability to get timely answers to frantic first-week-of-school parents, then the other, predictable busing snafus will be a lot easier for parents to weather.
Posted by Mary Newsom.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Football at UNCC!

Now that we have your attention ...

UNC Charlotte Chancellor Phil Dubois remained coy about football at the faculty convocation Wednesday. Here's a link to his complete remarks covering what he sees coming in the new academic year. (Also see video posted here.)
He covered equity issues with UNC system funding, long-term staff and faculty needs and campus security, among other things.
Here's what he said about football:
"Seriously, I have nothing more to say about football this morning other than
that I still hope to deliver a recommendation to the Trustees in September,
but it is impossible to know whether they will act on that recommendation at
that time or take it under advisement for decision later in the fall or thereafter. I am continuing my process of due diligence and do plan to share a good bit of my
research with the Faculty Council early in the fall."
More mystery, more intrigue. More waiting to see if pursuit of athletic prowess or academic muscle will steer the university to its identity. - Posted by Mary Schulken

Protests in China: Reality vs. Rhetoric

"We think that you do not really understand China's reality. China has its own version and way of exercising our democracy," Wang Wei, vice president of the Beijing Olympics organizing committee, told journalists.

Oh no, Mr. Wang, we understand quite well.

China is being pressured to show it has improved its human rights record, as it promised to do as it vied to host the Olympics. Before the Games opened, it said political protests were not forbidden. They'd be allowed in three parks. Of course, the parks are far from the game venues. And if you want to protest, you must follow the rules. Fill out applications with detailed paperwork five days in advance. Protests must not harm "national, social and collective interests."

And here's the kicker. Out of 77 applications for protests received, not one has been approved: 74 were "withdrawn," two were suspended and one was rejected.

This is China's reality: No matter what the government has said or says now, it is not open to protest or free speech. Period.

Posted by Mary Newsom

Monday, August 18, 2008

The racial story Democrats won't tell

When the Democratic convention opens Aug. 25 in Denver, expect to hear party chest-pounding on the history that will play out there: Democrats are expected to designate an African American as their candidate for the White House.
The nomination of Barack Obama will be an exciting moment for a nation with a history of deep racial inequality.

But, as an article in the Wall Street Journal points out, the Democratic party has whitewashed its own racial history.
A commentary linked here by Jeffrey Lord, creator, co-founder and CEO of a conservative video site and a Reagan White House political director and author points out the party built its success in the 19th century on a platform that supported slavery and its success in the 20th century supported segregation and discriminatory Jim Crow laws that make blacks second class citizens.

He writes:

The missing history raises the obvious question of whether the Democrats, unable
or simply unwilling to put their party on record as taking direct responsibility
for one of the worst racial crimes of the ages, will be able to run a campaign
free of the racial animosities it has regularly brought both to American
presidential campaigns and American political and social life in general.

The article fails to mention that a Democratic president, Lyndon Johnson, was the pivatol political player in enacting the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts in the 1960s, which undid the most substantial legal barriers blacks faced in America.
Yet Lord raises a good point: Why aren’t the Democrats being honest about the party's checkered past? Can that past really be overcome?

Friday, August 15, 2008

The story the Enquirer hasn't reported

You win a few, you lose a few.

Here’s a story you probably won’t read in the flush-with-newfound-credibility National Enquirer: reports the Enquirer has settled a lawsuit filed by a Cape Cod woman who claimed the tabloid filed false and defamatory stories about her supposed "love child." with Ted Kennedy.
Read about it here.

What a wacky fishbowl. The tabloid that's perhaps wrong about Kennedy turns out to be right about John Edwards? (Here's the latest Enquirer reporting on that.) But who knows if it's true or not?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What? Congress has money ties to big oil?

What? Members of Congress with financial ties to oil business? Really?
And Rep. Robin Hayes, R-N.C., who represents the 8th District, leads the top-25 list of those with holdings in leading oil companies?
Read about it here. The Sunlight Foundation, a watchdog group for disclosure by government, used personal financial reporting databases to make a list of representatives in Congress with connections to oil. Some have a little money tied to oil. Others, such as Rep. Hayes, have a lot.
So, guess who stands to gain if energy policy and reforms favor oil, and consumpion? Lawmakers with financial ties do.

How can Washington enact responsible long-term energy policy changes – ones that include conservation, alternative energy sources and mass transit – with those kinds of connections?
Posted by Mary Schulken

Friday, August 8, 2008

Edwards' affair: Trite. Hypocritical. Ordinary.

Confession may be good for the soul, but what does it do for a former presidential candidate who was supposed to make a speech at the Democratic convention? John Edwards told ABC News today that, yes, he had an affair and he had lied about it while running for president, but that he wasn't the father of her baby.

According to ABC News' Web site, friends of the woman, Rielle Hunter, 44, said Edwards met her at a New York City bar in 2006. His political action committee later paid her $114,000 to produce campaign website documentaries despite her lack of experience. Edwards told ABC the affair began after she was hired by his campaign. He also said that his wife, Elizabeth Edwards -- whose cancer was in remission at the time -- and others in the family learned of the affair in 2006.

How trite. How tawdry. How hypocritical. And how ordinary.

If American political life were scrubbed free of all men (and women) who'd had extramarital affairs, precious few would serve. Even Charlotte's own Republican Rep. Sue Myrick, a very public born-again Christian, had an affair before she married her current husband, Ed.

If affairs disqualified men for the presidency, we'd have had no FDR, no JFK, no Clinton, probably no Eisenhower. (No Warren G. Harding, either, but almost everyone agrees that would have been a good thing.) Thomas Jefferson wasn't married while he was president, but he fathered children with his late wife's slave (and half-sister).

Edwards' actions were sleazy, and his credibility is probably destroyed. Keep him off the speaker's podium at the convention. Please. But he's not even a candidate anymore. Can't we devote some of that considerable reporting energy expended on the Edwards love child story to some topics that, in the end, will make more of a difference to more people's lives?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Tax think tank tags N.C. at No. 20

Here's the latest take on how heavy your state and local tax burden is if you live in North Carolina. The latest annual report by the Tax Foundation ranks N.C. 20th among the 50 states. (50 is the lowest burden, No. 1 is highest, a spot claimed this year by New Jersey, which can now boast it's the Garden State of taxes.)
The report released today, "State-Local burdens dip as Income Growth Outpaces Tax Growth" is notable because it counts the tax dollars people spend in states besides the ones where they live. In other words, the taxes you pay when you travel to Florida to Disneyworld.
Here's some of what today's report said, and the link to read it.

"The nation as a whole paid 9.7% of its income in state-local taxes, down from 9.9% in 2007 primarily because income grew faster than tax collections between
2007 and 2008.

New Jersey residents paid 11.8%, topping the charts. New Yorkers were close behind, paying 11.7%, and Connecticut was third at 11.1%. The top ten were rounded out by Maryland (10.8%), Hawaii (10.6%), California (10.5%), Ohio (10.4%),Vermont(10.3%), Wisconsin (10.2%) and Rhode Island (10.2%)."

The Tax Foundation dates back to 1937 and describes itself as a non-partisan, non-profit. But it has been criticized by liberal-leaning think tanks for how it calculates its annual Tax Freedom Day ranking.
In Daily Views' experience, almost all tax reports done by such non-profits have to be vetted carefully.
Send us links of ones you think are worth paying attention to.
- Posted by Mary Schulken

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Take that, white-haired dude - uh, John McCain!

It's a loony world when socialite and would-be actress Paris Hilton brings logic to a presidential issue. But there she was, lounging in a bikini verbally smacking down GOP presidential contender John McCain in a Web video for mocking Democratic contender Barack Obama as nothing but a celebrity - like Paris Hilton.
She gets in some good zingers, positing that by including her in his ad McCain must think she's running for president. To wit she says: "Thanks for the endorsement, white-haired dude. And I want America to know that I’m, like, totally ready to lead."
Then she launches into a surprisingly good detailing of a comprehensive energy policy that taps into the variety of sources needed to gain U.S. independence from foreign oil. Who knew she was even aware of an energy crisis?
The ideas or words in the video aren't likely her own, but maybe there could be a President Paris in our political future - or maybe not. See the video at the site Funny or Die

Alaska to polar bears: Drop dead

You'd think, given the popularity of polar bears as an icon of the dangers of global warming, that Republicans wouldn't want to be on record saying, in effect, oil matters and bears don't.

But in a Republican vs. Republican suit, the state of Alaska has sued Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne over the recent decision to protect polar bears under the Endangered Species Act.

Gov. Sarah Palin, who’s being touted as a possible veep candidate for John McCain, and other Alaska officials contend the listing will cripple offshore oil and gas development. They say Interior didn’t take into account that polar bears had survived previous warming periods.

The lead author of the petition that led to the listing – Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity, said Alaska’s “head-in-the sand approach to global warming only helps oil companies, certainly not Alaska or the polar bear.”

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Dole home for the holidays ... or home for the campaign?

It’s official. Elizabeth Dole, North Carolina’s senior U.S. senator won’t be attending this year’s Republican nominating convention in Minnesota. In years past she’s been a high-profile GOP star, landing prime spots on the speaking agenda. This year she’s up for re-election, and The New Republic had this to say about her absence:

“According to campaign spokespeople, it's because the Senate has a break - and
Dole likes to spend her breaks among her constituents in the Tar Heel
Um, ok. Likely story.
News that Dole will be a no-show came amid
what has already been an awkward few weeks of media coverage for the senator.
Her Democratic challenger is gaining in the polls, she was lambasted for trying
to rename a new AIDS relief bill in honor of the late Jesse Helms, and she
purged $10,000 worth of campaign donations received from recently indicted Sen.
Ted Stevens.”

Interesting. When she sought a Senate seat in 2002, Sen. Dole hadn’t lived in N.C. for three decades. And one frequent complaint heard in Tar Heelia is that she’s not here, not tuned in and spends time pursuing party interests rather than local ones.
Maybe re-election changes priorities.