• Reply to: Sunday News: From the Editorial pages   9 hours 55 min ago

    Kudos to the Wilmington Star News editorial board:

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    The Trump administration wants to cut funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and give recipients a box of food every month. If we’re lucky, this odd proposal will quickly fall by the wayside.

    SNAP is the program once known as food stamps. Today, recipients receive a card. It cannot be used to buy alcohol, tobacco products, pet foods and household supplies.

    In North Carolina, about 658,000 households were receiving SNAP benefits in December, 23,009 of them in Brunswick, Pender and New Hanover counties.

    The program works. It ain’t broke.

    Just wanted to pause a minute so those numbers could sink in. Damn.

    If we cut SNAP, don’t think the nonprofit sector can step in and make up the difference. The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina said it would be unable to meet demand if the proposed changes were enacted.

    Just so you know, food banks across the state struggle to keep their shelves even half-full. The current state of hunger in North Carolina is past the critical point, and into the realm of a national emergency. Both Greensboro and High Point have dueled with each other over the dubious title of Most Hungry City in America. Not just North Carolina, but the whole damn country. 24.6% of our school children aren't getting enough to eat, and that number is growing every day.

    This needs to be at the top of our agenda.

  • Reply to: Can you say machine gun?   13 hours 32 min ago

    If the Democrats had taken my advice for the past thirty years, calling out mainstream GOP members for their tacit acceptance of extremism and bigotry, we likely wouldn't have this same extremism and bigotry as an acceptable, normalized part of our political discourse.

    But, hey, what do I know, right?

  • Reply to: Sunday News: From the Editorial pages   14 hours 10 sec ago

    This week's "winner" is once again John Hood, for his tendency to launch into pseudo-intellectual nonsense, while giving zero evidence for his claim, "Conservative Policies Are Working In North Carolina":

    Isn’t “modern conservatism” a contradiction in terms? That’s one of the questions I received after teaching a seminar at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy entitled “Modern Conservatism and Policy.”

    No, modern conservatism is a real thing. It has deep roots in human experience and intellectual history, to be sure. But the modern conservative movement, both here in North Carolina and across the country, is quite a different animal from what would have been called conservatism a century ago. (It’s also quite different from one might call the “postmodern quasi-conservatism” currently being displayed by certain interest groups, media outlets and politicians.)

    Like all intellectual and political movements, modern conservatism is an alliance of people who have enough in common to justify working together blah blah blah

    This is already in the 3rd paragraph, and we should have had at least a whiff of actual policy efforts by now. I guess we'll have to be patient:

    Who populates the modern conservative movement? There are three main groups: traditionalists, libertarians and pragmatists. The traditionalist camp, sometimes called social conservatives or the Religious Right, believes there are certain principles, practices and institutions that maximize human flourishing. These are either the creations of God or have proven their value over history.

    Big government injures and supplants these traditional institutions of family, faith and community, say these conservatives, who argue that, while all individuals enjoy moral worth and dignity, they are part of broader communities they didn’t choose, from which they receive benefits, and to which they have obligations. Governments exist because humans are easily tempted by vice, these conservatives contend. They prioritize moral issues such as abortion, marriage and substance abuse.

    Ah, well there's a tiny whiff of policy, but John fails to actually follow through and tell us they want to ban abortion, ban same-sex marriage, and I don't know why in the hell he dropped "substance abuse" in there, other than the fact that churches allow AA and NA meetings to take place in their sanctuaries, as long as the God-fearing folks aren't around. Let's keep looking:

    The next group, the libertarians, can also be called economic conservatives. Originally, they were called (and called themselves) liberals, because their core political value was liberty. To protect individual rights to life, liberty and property, they argue for a limited government that would deter force and fraud and ensure the provision of certain services that could not effectively be produced within private markets. These conservatives prioritize lower taxes, lighter regulations and more choice and competition in public services.

    Again, vague references to what may end up being public policy, like cutting taxes and slashing regulations, but no actual examples of how those policies are "working," whether for good or ill. Let's try again:

    The other constituents of the movement, pragmatists, are often labeled neoconservatives — although not to the same intended effect. Some leftists use the term as a charge of extremism, perhaps because it shares a prefix with “neo-Nazi.” Conservatives use it, more accurately, to describe an initial wave of thinkers and politicians who began as progressives or socialists, got “mugged by reality,” as prominent neoconservative Irving Kristol once put it, and changed their views.

    Many but not all neoconservatives were foreign-policy hawks, first during the Cold War and then after 9/11. Others emphasized social policy. They criticized the 1960s War on Poverty, for example, for discouraging work and family formation and for unnecessarily muscling aside local, private and faith-based approaches to addressing social ills and promoting opportunity.

    Again, a whole lot of nothing there. What have conservative policies done in the last 8 years that Republicans have had here in NC to implement them? What, exactly, is working? Not much, which is why John decided to (once again) tediously explain the different elements of US conservatism.

    But you readers are lucky, because I'm going to connect the dots between these three groups, show you what links them together like Siamese triplets: They hate even the idea of government. And not because of some rarefied idea it's a negative influence on prosperity or some other clap-trap. It's because conservatives of all stripes are classist in nature. They don't trust people who don't inhabit their particular economic or ethnic demographic to elect representatives to government and develop policies that will benefit the vast majority of citizens. And that's because they're so navel-gazingly selfish that they believe everybody else is selfish, too. So naturally, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, is literally anathema to them.

    That's their common thread, and it's as strong as tungsten steel. And that's why efforts to reach out and maybe form coalitions with them is a mistake, and will eventually produce nothing but regressive results.

  • Reply to: Can you say machine gun?   16 hours 4 min ago

    It’s surprising to me how frequently candidates find themselves having to talk about this issue. And it’s even more surprising how awkward and confused their responses are.

    I’m offering a simplified approach that anyone can use at any time. It works.

    I don’t think this is the most important issue, but it can really trip people up. Candidates need to get their message down and clear.

    That said, I don’t expect people to pay any attention to me. They are not paying for this advice, and I doubt they will take it.

  • Reply to: Can you say machine gun?   16 hours 18 min ago

    I read the other day that there's something like 69% of support for gun restrictions currently in the US. A majority of the public wants something to get done on this issue.

    What's going to have to happen is taking down the NRA and the politicians it buys off.

    And that's going to take quite a few different tactics, depending on the politician. They all have weaknesses, whether its on issues or unchecked corruption. There's not a "one size fits all" message that's going to work here.