Category Archives: Current Events

Fascinating choice to head NC pre-k program

WRAL astutely points out that Dianna Lightfoot, the new state director of Child Development and Early Education in the Department of Health and Human Services runs an organization that is opposed to some of the fundamentals of early education, especially the state’s role in it.

The National Physicians Center, where Lightfoot is currently president, advocates against “institutional” preschool programs.

“In the case of early childhood education programs, available research suggests they may actually be inferior to early learning opportunities at home. In addition, it appears the demand for out of home childcare is not as prevalent as many advocates claim,” says an open letter signed by Lightfoot on the group’s website.

Other interesting items from the NPCFR site:
- The full name of the organization is The National Physicians Center for Family Resources Inc.;
- The chair of its board of directors also chairs the board of a very conservative, anti-gay organization in California;
- The person listed as the Government Affairs adviser for the organization keeps busy as the Senior Director of Policy at American Legislative Exchange Council and Vice President of Government Relations at Family Research Council among other duties.

More later as this snowballs . . .

WRAL – State’s new Pre-K chief opposes pre-K

Richardson chosen for Bryant’s House seat

Franklin County school board member Bobbie Richardson was chosen to fill the vacancy created when Rep. Angela Bryant moved to the Senate.
Via the Rocky Mount Telegram:

Richardson is a Franklin County resident who serves as director of exceptional children services for Vance County Schools. She also is a member of the Franklin County Board of Education.

Three votes separated Richardson from John Gibson, a candidate from Nash County. Richardson received 128 votes, and Gibson received 125 votes.

The horse race

Been immersed in the horse race coverage. As we start early voting in NC and get closer to Election Day, the speculating goes up to 11. The national pundit corps is starting to troll deeper into state media for clues.
So, the venerable Rob Christensen puts up a post on Under the Dome which says the Romney folks are confident about NC and are sending staff from NC to Ohio. And Politico is all “Boom! NC is over says the N&O.” Of course, their headline, Is NC Cooked?, include the all-important question mark, but it’s out there.
I’m not going to blame Rob, because he’s doing his job, although there is no indication that he knows for an absolute fact that the Romney folks are confident. They might just have decided that they can’t risk losing Ohio and are pouring resources into it, which seems to be the case from everything else I’ve read.
Also, i just the love term “site-leading report.”
The full story, which arrived this am in the N&O is a little more nuanced. The Romney folks are citing a widening lead in the polls. You’d think someone at the N&O would have this page bookmarked. Note that McCain led in the polls all the way up until the votes were counted. Mason-Dixon has McCain up by 3 points going into November.

Ellmers, Fox, Burr and McHenry make the Dirty Air Villian list

The NRCD announced its list of legislators who “Voted Dirty” today in a new effort to highlight which members of congress are heroes or villains when it comes to air quality protection. North Carolina Senator Richard Burr and Representatives Renee Ellmers, Virginia Foxx and Patrick McHenry make the list.
The report details votes along with contributions from polluting industries as well.
Here’s the look-up page.

Climate change is real

Prediction for Raleigh via Wunderground''s Climate Change page

Nice to hear someone running for president say it out loud.

No one with any sense is arguing that it is not real, although this year during the sea level rise debate several North Carolina legislators enjoyed waving around copies of a copy of Newsweek from the 70s that featured a teasing headline about a new ice age (guess if it’s a headline it must be a scientific consensus, right?).

The fight, unfortunately, is whether humans have anything to do with it. It should not be a big fight, but it serves entrenched and wealthy interests and so it is. Science be damned for profits. That provides the financial fuel to support the opposition, which has made denial a cottage industry for activists and a dependable source of campaign cash for politicians willing to take the right positions.
Here in North Carolina, the climate change conflict has a twist. The question isn’t whether humans are causing change, but whether we should do anything about it.

During our legislature’s debate on the subject, we saw people in opposition to new policies who probably do understand that climate change is real and man-made. But pushed by deep-pocket coastal development interests they’re determined to fight it from becoming a basis for public policy as long as possible.

While that’s damaging enough, the way they’ve gone about it has made it worse. Rather than appeal to pragmatism and cautioning against a too-fast approach in the remedies, they’re cynically using deniers to push their point. They’ve chosen to fight the science and not the policy.

The battle in North Carolina is not just about the coast. As the chart above for Raleigh and for places in the mountains and Sandhills show, climate change will affect the whole state. We may not be able to understand the effects as well as we can understand the fact that the sea will rise, but a rapid rise in temps will impact our lives and all living things around us. There are many choices ahead in what to do, but the only one sure to hurt us is nothing.

In this election, people need to know where those who want to represent them stand on this issue and whether they believe in basing policy on science at all.

Resources:
Coastal Review – Sea Level Rise and Public Policy series
Wunderground – Climate Change Main Page
Wunderground Climate Change Predictions (graph) for Asheville, Charlotte, Raleigh, Cape Hatteras

Mitt, Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan

One of the things that’s struck me about the difference between this presidential campaign and the last 40 or so has been the lack of war talk. If ever there was an indication that the realities of war-without-end has ground out nearly all the enthusiasm in the country for foreign military ventures, it’s that candidates are not crisscrossing the land rattling sabers and promising death to somebody, a staple of national politics in almost every country.

In peacetime this usually meant questioning a candidate’s readiness to be commander-in-chief and, in the case of men of a certain age, whether or not they actually served. This was taken to great heights in the 1992 campaign during which Bill Clinton’s opposition to the Vietnam war was a major part of the GOP’s strategy to paint him as irresponsible, unpatriotic and unready – a cleaned up hippie in a suit.

Here in North Carolina, a state that’s home to huge numbers of active and retired military folks, issues of war and peace are important and personal. People here want to hear specifics, not just lofty rhetoric about staying strong. Staying strong as defined over the past decade has put a hell of a burden on communities throughout this state, especially in the base towns of eastern NC. In these places, it’s been endless war with all the sacrifice and hardship that entails. They have a right to a little more attention. It’s a shame that the pending sequester of roughly $500 million in military spending over 10 years, a crude tool employed during last year’s even cruder political joust over the debt ceiling, is getting more attention in this election cycle than those wounded or killed on the battlefield and their loved ones back home.

Somehow the other night, in the most important speech of his life, the man who wants to be commander-in-chief failed to mention the sacrifices of the past decade or even give a nod to the tens of thousands serving today in a hostile places around the globe. He did not say “Afghanistan,” a nation this country invaded and currently occupies along with our NATO allies. And, with the erasure of George W. Bush from the history of the Republican Party almost complete, he dared not mention Iraq.

Mr. Romney is going to have to change that if he wants to reap the votes that are waiting for him in the 910 area code and elsewhere in the state. And he’s going to have to offer something tangible alongside the talk about preserving freedom around the world. There’s a price to that in human terms and when he travels to the base towns of North Carolina, he’ll have to meet some of the people who have paid dearly. He’ll have to look them in they eye and talk about where and when and why. He’ll have to talk VA and benefits and PTSD. He won’t just be able to talk tough about Syria and Iran, he’ll have to talk about the realities of Afghanistan and the consequences of Iraq. He’ll have to provide some proof that he won’t just restaff the DOD and his cabinet with the same people who sent millions overseas to fight without a clear objective and a way out.

And if there is a just God, he’ll have to talk about Vietnam. He’ll explain how it was that he stayed out of service in Vietnam at the same time he protested in favor of the war and others being drafted to fight it. When he visits Fayetteville or Havelock, he won’t be able to sell the idea that his time in France during the war was tough because of anti-Vietnam sentiment. He’ll have to talk about it because of his own history and also because it taught this country a harsh lesson about war and commitment. Many North Carolinians who fought in that war have sons and daughters and grandkids in uniform today. They deserve to know something of what the future holds and they deserve to know from any candidate for president, especially one who was able to serve at the time, what lessons he learned from ‘Nam.

Further reading:
Digby – QOTD: Gloria Borger
Mediaite – CNN Airs The Most Ridiculous Statement I’ve Ever Seen On Television

Buzzfeed – Mitt Romney, Student Protester
UK Telegraph – Mitt Romney’s life as a poor Mormon missionary in France questioned