Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Monday, April 13, 2015 9:52 pm

Odds and ends for April 13

Gunter Grass, the Pulitzer Nobel Prize-winning author (and, ironically, former Waffen SS soldier) whose work forced German culture to confront the horror of Naziism, is dead at 87.

Apparently Marco Rubio is running for president. Here are seven reasons that’d be a bad idea.

Sigh. One more example of out-of-control cops. At least no one died this time.

Duke Energy’s contributions to the Republican Governors’ Association increased by an order of magnitude after the Dan River spill. Duke says that’s just coincidence. Yeah. Sure. Right.

The former executive director of the State Employees Association of N.C., Dana Cope, appears to have spent close to half a million bucks that wasn’t his.

Why make North Carolina workers safer when you can just rig the numbers?

How bad has this legislative session been for North Carolinians? Let us count the ways.

It’s a uterus, not a clown car: A 65-year-old German woman who has 13 kids and seven grandkids is pregnant with quadruplets.

The Lost Colony? Maybe not so lost after all.

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Thursday, April 9, 2015 8:22 pm

Odds and ends for April 9

Sorry, guys, I was on the road today, so I ain’t got much.

The Rhino Times commissioned a push poll by a conservative chop shop to make it appear there is more support for a measure to redistrict Greensboro City Council than there actually is. Doug Clark at the N&R calls them out on it.

Meanwhile, some Wake County voters have sued over the recent changes to the Wake Board of Commissioners imposed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly.

In other popular stuff carried out by the Republican-controlled General Assembly, a lot of middle-class North Carolinians saw their state income taxes go up this year. But hey! Tax cuts for the wealthy and big bidness!

Why Stephen Curry, and not James Harden, should be this year’s NBA MVP. (I mean, besides Davidson. Duh.)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015 7:39 pm

Odds and ends for Feb. 11

Memo to the airlines: You whiny bitches can just pay your taxes like everybody else does.

Oh, good. Another war. Because we were running out of them, or something. People, ISIS is NOT an existential threat to this country. If you think otherwise, imagine ISIS trying to capture Detroit or Dallas, mmkay? Relatedly, if Chris Matthews wants a war so damned badly, let him go fight it himself.

Meanwhile, a committee of the Arizona Senate wishes to reprosecute the Civil War. Didn’t work out too great for their side last time, but what the hell, you know?

Our “allies” in Saudi Arabia, where women aren’t allowed to drive, apparently believe women drive in the U.S. and elsewhere because they don’t care whether they get raped. Evil AND stupid is no way to go through life, son.

FBI director James Comey is urging Americans to panic about possible ISIS militants under their beds. It’s a real shame the Snowden revelations and that lib’rul Obama cut back so badly on our nation’s intelligence-gathering capabilities; otherwise, we wouldn’t need to wet our pants like this. Oh. Wait.

#AdviceToYoungJournalists is trending on Twitter. Here’s mine: Run. Save yourself. While you still can.

Our new idiot senator, Thom Tillis, has hired a new idiot legislative director who thinks birth control causes cancer.

Cops in N.C. are spying on citizens. One would think the GOP-controlled legislature might want to do something about Big Gummint, but one would think that only if one believed Republicans are serious about stemming the overreach of Big Gummint.

NBC’s Brian Williams gets suspended for six months for misremembering what happened in Iraq. Good. But Alberto Gonzalez took the Fifth 67 times before Congress, and we’re still paying his ass. Just saying.

Our “divisive,” “obstructionist” president has, when his length of service is taken into account, vetoed fewer bills than any president since James Monroe.

Even in Colombia, there’s no uprising so nasty that the addition of Miss Universe might not ameliorate it.

I’m starting to think technology and Republicans just don’t mix. This week, the N.C. legislature’s main website went down after — no kidding — someone forgot to renew the domain.

What happens if the anti-ACA case King v. Burwell, now before the Supremes, results in the ACA (or at least the part about exchanges) being overturned? Insurance exec Richard Mayhew says it won’t be pretty, with most subsidized exchange policies being yanked this summer. But wait! There’s more!

After [those policies are yanked], the remaining individual insurance market now looks like the pre-PPACA New York State insurance market, where there is guarantee issue and no medical underwriting but no subsidies and no mandates to get healthy people into the risk pool.  We get a death spiral where average premiums for a 30 year old would almost double in two years, and most reasonably healthy people who otherwise would have qualified for subsidies now sit out of the market because they can’t afford the coverage.

 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 8:03 pm

Bell House is closing, and here’s why.

Bell House, a nonprofit, specialized assisted-living center here in Greensboro that serves people with orthopedic and/or neurological problems such as cerebral palsy and spina bifida, will be closing in two months.

It’s not entirely clear where its current residents will go.

The center blames Medicaid cuts.

Insurance executive Richard Mayhew explains why this didn’t have to happen.

TL;DR version: It’s the fault of Gov. Pat McCrory and the GOP legislature.

Monday, June 4, 2012 8:58 pm

The North Carolina Governor’s School and the GOP majority in the General Assembly

I was fortunate enough to attend the Governor’s School of North Carolina in the summer of 1977. Begun in the early 1960s under then-Gov. Terry Sanford, the program brings gifted and talented kids from across North Carolina together for six weeks of focus on their areas of interest, plus an introduction to epistemology and other meaty subjects. It’s a helluva program, and a lot of its alums are doing great things in North Carolina and elsewhere today.

The Republican majority in the General Assembly wants to eliminate state funding for the program. (They’re also trying to cut nine figures from the state budget so they can give their rich friends a tax break. These two phenomena are not unrelated.) Alumni and other interested friends raised enough money to keep the program alive — barely — this year, but its future is by no means assured. So last Friday I wrote the following email to state Sen. Phil Berger, the president pro tem of the Senate:

Dear Sen. Berger:

I write as a native and near-lifelong resident of North Carolina, a graduate of Davidson College, a Republican since 1978 and a member of the Governor’s School of North Carolina Class of 1977 to implore you and the Senate to include full funding for Governor’s School in this year’s and future budgets.

As you no doubt know, Governors School alumni have gone on to successful careers in a wide variety of fields. My own case is an example. My work as an editor on the Governor’s School newspaper in 1977 sparked an interest in journalism that led me to an award-winning (if I may say) 25-year career with newspapers in Statesville, New Bern, Gastonia and Greensboro. And while I didn’t make any professional connections there, I did meet the guy who has been my best friend ever since — Tony Patterson, now an IT professional in Chapel Hill with a company that has operations and clients worldwide.

My sister Jane, who lives in Raleigh, attended Governor’s School also, in 1984, and has gone on to a career in stage productions (theater, concerts, etc.) based on an interest she developed while there.

I realize times are tight, and I applaud the General Assembly’s desire to keep taxes and spending low, particularly while our economy is still muddling along with not enough people at work.

But the talent pool of college-educated professionals is getting tighter, too: The New York Times reported recently that college graduates, more than ever, are moving to large metropolitan areas, leaving small and mid-sized markets such as Asheville, Wilmington, Charlotte, the Triad and the Triangle behind. (The maps published in 2006 with this article by The Atlantic illustrate starkly how much of the country is being drained of its talent. And that article was published on the basis of 2000 data; the 2010 data show the trend accelerating.) Governor’s School is an investment in this state’s talented young people that can make a critical difference when they’re deciding where to go after college. We need that talent here in North Carolina to be competitive.

$800,000 a year is a lot of money. But I think the General Assembly also has an obligation to look at what that money is buying and the difference it can make in the quality of life and the competitiveness of the economy for North Carolinians. I hope you will support full funding for Governor’s School now and in the future.

Thank you for your government service.

Best,

Hooper “Lex” Alexander IV

I got the following response from an aide:

Dear Mr. Alexander,Thank you for your email regarding the North Carolina Governor’s School program. Senator Berger understands your concern and appreciates you taking the time to write.

Senator Berger recognizes the value of the Governor’s School program and commends the determined effort to secure the funding for 2012 through private means. That is an admirable achievement and the success of that effort provides clear evidence of the fact that there are many supporters who believe in and deeply value the program.

At this time, the General Assembly is still in the process of reviewing all aspects of our State’s current financial situation in advance of the budget adjustments that will be made during the short session. Although many factors are still being reviewed at this time, your comments will be taken into consideration.

On Senator Berger’s behalf,

Sara Riggins
Constituent Liaison

Office of the Senate President Pro Tempore

Granted, I’m pretty new to the writing-letters-to-elected-officials thing, but do all elected officials treat all their constituents as if they’re this stupid?

I wrote back:

Ms. Riggins, thanks for responding. Please answer a yes-or-no question for me. Does Sen. Berger support full state funding for Governor’s School, or does he not?

Thank you.

Best,

L.

And she wrote back:

Dear Mr. Alexander,

Thank you for following up. Unfortunately, with the budget review process still underway, I am unable to provide any more details than in my previous response.

Even so, thank you for your sincere interest and concern.

On Senator Berger’s behalf,

Sara Riggins

I can think of two possible reasons why she didn’t answer a simple, yes-or-no question: She didn’t care enough to get an answer, or she knew the answer and knew I wouldn’t like it. Well, screw that:

Thanks for getting back to me, Ms. Riggins.  The senator’s opposition to Governor’s School funding is duly noted. I know double-talkin’ jive when I hear it.

Best,

Lex

The modern Republican party not only has convinced itself that the world was created all at once 6,000 years ago and that global warming is a myth, it also has convinced itself that it can crap on our shoes and call it pudding. But, like Axl Rose, I got no more patience. And God knows I am not alone.

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