Tom Sullivan's blog

Raleigh's water rustlers, or, isn't It a Shane?

It has come to my attention that Buncombe County’s range war has gone largely unnoticed outside the region. Well, better saddle up, partners. Your town is next. For those who don’t have time for deep reading, here’s the story in a nutshell. It's a complicated story I don't fully grasp myself, so excuse the editorializing and lack of complete detail, but you need to know:

Raleigh is acting like rich, cattle barons.
They want our water rights.
They offer pennies on the dollar.
If we refuse, their henchmen take it by force.

Austerity For Thee But Not For Me, Inc.

Austerity. Just what you wanted for Christmas. From McClatchy:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A group co-founded by Charlottean Erskine Bowles brings its campaign to reduce the federal debt to North Carolina next week, making the state the latest front in the battle to avert the “fiscal cliff.”

Two former governors – Democrat Jim Hunt and Republican Jim Holshouser – will launch Fix the Debt’s N.C. chapter at a news conference Tuesday in Raleigh.

[...]

Fix the Debt was founded by Bowles and Alan Simpson, a former U.S. senator from Wyoming. They chaired the so-called Bowles-Simpson commission that two years ago proposed a package of spending cuts and tax hikes to begin reducing the federal debt, now estimated at over $16 trillion.

The G.O.P.’s Coalition of the Lying

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves."

-- Julius Caesar Act 1, Scene 2

The Village press and the liberal blogosphere have had a field day with Republican convention speeches this week by Congressman Paul Ryan and Governor Mitt Romney. But what critics are missing about “post-truth politics” is that the fault lies not just with mendacious politicians, but with an American electorate that tolerates and enables them.

After this week’s Republican national convention, Fox News contributor Sally Kohn called Paul Ryan’s speech, “an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech.”

Prosperity, not Austerity

"...the economy is running on the fumes of the investments we made in public goods decades ago." -- Prosperity Economics: Building an Economy for All

As the Mongol army swept across the Asian steppes in the 13th century, psychological warfare was one of their most powerful weapons. Looking much like their victims, Mongol spies easily infiltrated towns in the army's path to foment panic. "The Mongols are coming! The Mongols are coming! They kill the women and rape the men! The Mongols are coming!" Just as the Mongols hoped, many towns surrendered without a fight.

Come to think of it, the relentless psychological messaging from Washington sounds a lot like that. Austerity. Fiscal cliff. Debt crisis. America could go the way of Greece. America is broke. Grand Bargain. Surrender Dorothy.

U.S. Justice: Is The Joke On You?

Here's a neat get-out-of-jail trick. The secret is it doesn't usually work for ordinary crimes by flesh-and-blood people -- for smoking marijuana or selling food stamps for rent money, for example. No, those people we warehouse in taxpayer-funded Corrections Corporation of America for-profit prisons. This trick works best for those who have turned themselves into the unnatural, corporate persons they serve. Creatures of appetite and instinct. Bloodless. Soulless. Like vampires, but without the teen angst.

The former Blackwater Security, a North Carolina company with a history of legal troubles, this week walked away from 17 federal charges by paying fines: $7 million for arms trafficking and other charges on top of $42 million for other violations of the Arms Export Control Act and the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations.

Messaging #Fail

The flap this week over state Rep. Patsy Keever's response(s) to a reporter's question about endorsing the president's reelection raises questions. I don't know how widespread it is outside North Carolina, but Democratic congressional candidates in NC-07, 08 and 11 have explicitly refused to endorse a sitting president from their own party: "I'm going to Washington to represent the voters of my district," yadda, yadda. Whatever.

I get the whole impulse to appeal to the thin slice of "independents" upon whom the November elections supposedly will turn, but whom do they think they're fooling?

Second, even as candidates think they are telling voters "I am my own person," if it's not done with finesse, they risk voters actually hearing  "I'm only in this for Number One."

Fraud? You Damn Betcha!

The zombies are back. It seems like only yesterday (okay, it was January) they were walking the sand hills of South Carolina.

The Nation reports from Michigan:

“Some 1,500 people voted under dead people’s and prisoners’ names from 2008-11, according to Michigan’s auditor general. Many might be clerical errors, but this illustrates the need to ensure accurate voter rolls.”

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson wrote this in a July 2 Times-Herald column, and she lied.

Brentin Mock continues:

Single Payer — States’ Rights Edition

Last night, Norman Goldman interviewed the L.A. Times' David Lazarus about his column describing a bill soon to be introduced by Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) that would allow states to introduce Medicare-for-all on a state-by-state basis:

If passed into law — admittedly a long shot with Republicans controlling the House of Representatives — McDermott's State-Based Universal Healthcare Act would represent a game changer for medical coverage in the United States.

Private school scholarships: Money laundering for the masses

Welcome to the United States of Scam-erica. Or Griftopia, as Matt Taibbi calls it in his book on the Wall Street meltdown. "There are really two Americas," Taibbi writes. For the grifter class, government is "a tool for making  money," while "in everybody-else land, the government is something to be avoided."

Not anymore. Here is the lesson Americans gleaned from the financial meltdown on and bailout of Wall Street: If the feds won't prosecute 'em, join 'em. Corruption has trickled down.

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