TWC: Tea Leaves

Here’s this week’s column, mostly on the Elon Poll results:

Tea leaves

All signs point to ‘huh?’

The latest Elon Poll, released over the past few days, has a pretty interesting set of findings many of which can be summed up with a question mark.

North Carolinians know that smoking is a health hazard, but they don’t want government to interfere with the rights of small business. They want growth to pay for itself, which is only fair, right? Except they also overwhelmingly support the least fair way to raise money to do it.

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Sunday Morning Post

Really getting harder to think happy thoughts.

NYT: Rebuit Iraq projects found crumbling.

At the airport, crucially important for the functioning of the country, inspectors found that while $11.8 million had been spent on new electrical generators, $8.6 million worth were no longer functioning.

At the maternity hospital, a rehabilitation project in the northern city of Erbil, an expensive incinerator for medical waste was padlocked – Iraqis at the hospital could not find the key when inspectors asked to see the equipment – and partly as a result, medical waste including syringes, used bandages and empty drug vials were clogging the sewage system and probably contaminating the water system.

The newly built water purification system was not functioning either.

Meanwhile:
WSJ: Hellfire & Damnation – Rally against Yadkin commish meeting prayer rules
Star News: Vets say they’re not getting help from VA
Char-O: Pay for Praise for homebuilder
Screwy meets Karl.
– Two steps back – New UNC report on health care coverage is just stunning

Update: I guess the point is that we’re still doing the screwing up and aren’t even close to getting to the fixin’. And yet, there are signs of progress.

Morning Post

The key thing to remember about Michael Decker selling his vote is that it wasn’t just a vote for a bill, but a vote that determined control of the House and the upper hand in redistricting. It makes the actions yesterday of Judge Dever a little more clear.

Meanwhile, let’s think happy thoughts:
– The National Weather Service has a new experimental site on the Carolina Coast.
– Davidson County may only have to pay $1.6 million for 181 jobs. Hooray!
– Lots of stuff to read in the new Elon poll:

Forty-four percent of respondents said they believe public education in North Carolina has gotten off on the wrong track, compared with 42 percent who believe public schools are going in the right direction. Fourteen percent said they didn’t know.

The poll also surveyed residents about their preparation for the upcoming hurricane season, which officially begins June 1. Sixty-five percent of residents said they have not done anything to prepare for hurricane season, while 29 percent said they have made preparations. . . .

Twenty-eight percent approve or strongly approve of the way Bush is handling the war in Iraq, down from 38 percent in the September 2006 Elon Poll. In this latest poll, 70 percent disapprove or strongly disapprove of Bush’s handling of the war in Iraq.

Special for you CitJo folks:
– Distributive journalism: Care to plow through the recent Docudump with TPM?
– Ed on the recent dustup over email interviews

Morning post: and so it begins edition

Still cursing whatever group it was that decided we need a 100-week primary season. Probably a conspirary of the MSM and the pundit/consultant industry. Anyway, we’re ill served by it because it makes for lazy, distracting, celeb-style reporting. Candidates are talking about war, immigration and blah. The press gets bored with that, talks about their old girlfriends and body language.

That said, last night was pretty good, especially on C-Span radio. Everyone sounds more intelligent on radio. After watching the clips, I was so glad I missed the Star Trek backdrop. Lord, I dislike bunting.

NYT: Unity,
Bloggedit: The Caucus, BlueNC
C&L has the Gravel money quote.
Meanwhile on Earth,
– Michael Decker to be sentenced
Gaston County / Bank of America faceoff
– N&O: Nine soldiers, forever young
– Freeze funds may be frozen

Price on the showdown

Recently covered a meeting with some Dems trying to pressure Rep. David Price to not support further funding.

This from a recent issue of The Carrboro Citizen:

Fourth District U.S. Rep. David Price said he thinks the country is headed for a constitutional crisis as Congress and President Bush square off over funding for the Iraq war.

Price, a Chapel Hill Democrat, said he expects the president to veto a narrowly passed emergency-funding bill that includes a timeline for ending U.S. military involvement in the four-year-old conflict.

The congressman offered this analysis Friday morning at his Chapel Hill office during an hour-long conversation with a handful of local Democrats from precincts that approved a resolution calling on Congress to end funding for the war. The Orange and Durham county Democratic party organizations also passed the resolution.

Sammy Slade, of Carrboro, told Price he sees a clear conflict between Congress passing full funding for the war while calling for its end.

Price said Congress is trying to shape policy through the power of the purse. Should the president veto the bill as promised, he said, it’s unclear how matters will play out.
“It’s a huge dilemma,” he said. “I think we’ve got a constitutional showdown coming.”

Slade and others said they hope Democrats will come back with an even stronger bill rather than the “clean” appropriations bill – one stripped of the withdraw provisions – the president says he wants.

But Price said Democrats who were around for the GOP-led government shutdown in the mid-90s are worried that forcing a crisis with the president could turn public sentiment against Congress in the same way the public turned on Newt Gingrich.

Allen Spalt said he hopes that if there is a veto, Congress will consider sending back a bill with less than full funding. “Nobody is suggesting we abandon the troops,” Spalt said. “Why not advocate for less than full funding.”

Price said for now all of the Democratic proposals have full funding. Some even include funding for a withdrawal as well.

While the conversation remained civil, there were flash points.

Slade suggested that supporting full-funding was a “devaluating of Democrats” and asked Price to vote with progressives should the bill come back.

“Please give me a break,” Price shot back. Of the 14 Democrats who voted against the bill, he said, seven sided with the GOP over philosophical reasons and seven voted out of opposition to the war. It was not an easy vote, and some of the Democrats who voted no over their opposition to the war were ready to vote for the bill if it was in danger of not passing. Inside Congress, he said, the lines are not as clean as the vote tallies might indicate.

“You might be surprised at the level of soul-searching going on in the Congress.”

Price said he thinks that, just as with Vietnam, the war won’t come to an end until the president understands that it is not just Democrats calling for an end.

“I don’t know what the tipping point is,” he said. “[The war] probably will end when a bunch of Republicans march down Pennsylvania Avenue and tell him he’s going to end it.”

And the congressman added: “We’d like to hasten that day.”

Hog farm in NC got tainted pet food

From WRAL, AP and elsewhere:

Via WBT:

State officials say a chemical blamed for more than a dozen pet deaths across the nation has been found in feed at a hog farm in western North Carolina.

Melamine was found in hogs at the farm, which wasn’t identified, officials said Tuesday. The pigs have been quarantined and appear healthy. There is no immediate danger to the public, the officials said.

From a Washington Post story:

WASHINGTON — Several hundred of the 6,000 hogs that may have eaten contaminated pet food are believed to have entered the food supply for humans, the government said Thursday. The potential risk to human health was said to be very low.

TWC: Help Wanted

This weeks column:
Help Wanted

With the race for the Democratic nomination for governor tightening, it’s looking less and less like either Richard Moore or Beverly Perdue are going to blink and veer onto the federal side of the ballot to take on Sen. Elizabeth Dole.

With the two most well-funded and visible Dems not inclined to take on Liddy, the party has had a big help wanted sign hanging with no takers talking about it – at least out loud.

That changed last week when Rep. Brad Miller uttered that he’s talked with party officials about a possible Senate run.

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Echoes from Blacksburg

Following is an edit from The Carrboro Citizen:

Echoes from Blacksburg

Grief is immediate and lasting at the same time. In Blacksburg, a community much like our own, it has settled in while the town and the world stands in shock.

The echoes sounding on a survivor’s cell phone had barely faded when the conversation veered from anguish to politics and what to do about guns.

While not conceding any point in the debate over the parameters of the second amendment, it is doubtful that even the depth of this grief and the magnitude and horror of this crime will budge firearm policy a hair’s breadth.

So while we’re having that conversation, maybe we ought to have another one about the other part of the deadly equation – about people. More than a decade ago, and again all too recently, this community witnessed painfully similar circumstances.

The common thread running through each incident was a disturbed young man who did not get the help he needed in time.

Advocates for the mentally ill are understandably reluctant to tie these events to the chronic underfunding of this state’s system. The stigma of mental illness is already a barrier to people seeking help and there’s no reason to think that all the funding in the world could stop a deranged individual bent on murder and suicide.

But if Blacksburg offers us any wake-up call it should be that we need to stay true to our ideals when it comes to mental health reform. It is distressing to see this week that the state is cutting back on funds for the very local programs that are to be the backbone of a more community-based system.

In the wake of the shooting here many years ago and the Pit attack, scores of lives were affected and the need to comfort the survivors and offer some help to those unable to work, sleep or cope is real.

We cannot continue to degrade our mental health system and still consider ourselves a compassionate society.