Open thread: Whatcha want for Christmas?

If you ask for something that can be delivered in a blog post comment, you'll sure make it easier for the rest of us to play Santa Claus.


Ah yes.

John is the guy in charge of Art Pope's Puppetshow, a multi-layered network of right-wing organizations dedicated to free-market fundamentalism and Republican rule. They spend upwards of $5 million a year of Pope family money to influence the public agenda here in North Carolina.

Approximately two percent of their ideas have serious merit, but it's hard to find them because they're drowning in a sea of "government suck, cut taxes, stop planning, end zoning, the poor deserve what they get" rhetoric. That said, their bad ideas still get a lot of play, which is exactly what $5 million in influence peddling can deliver.

Here's the chart Linda referred to. It's not updated because I stopped tracking the Show once I realized I was driving so much traffic to their sites.


Wow!...that's some post James

James, I love ya to death, but your LEFT-SIDE is showing big time here. I mean..c'mon, "free market fundamentalism"???? Um...the free market has been the backbone of our country, but you want to make it some kind of evil by using the word "fundamentalism". Sure, it rings your fellow liberal's bell, but it's a shame you have to play that game (and no, I don't use the word "progressive" because that's just an alternative word for liberal the left came up with because "liberal" became a negative conotation (sp?) in America).

Also, I know there is a small minority of extremely far right conservatives that believe that the "poor" deserves what they get...but, you and I know that's not what the majority of we conservative republicans believe. Again...I know that rings the liberal's, hey, why not use it? Kinda sad, James.

I personally can't wait to see the numbers that come out 4 years from now how the Obamacrats have helped the poor. I mean, that IS a very strong voting block for you folks, isn't it? I'll certainly have to do some real searching to find that info out, though...the press sure won't give me that info.

The best thinking is independent thinking.

Free markets are just fine and, to my knowledge, no one here

supports destroying free markets. The problem, Smitty, is that free markets without any reasonable regulation to protect the public from unscrupulous profiteering leads to the situation we're facing today.

Banks are charging up to 29.9% interest on credit card debt and using bait and switch tactics to lure new users.

Contrary to the lies being perpetuated by conservative radio talk-show hosts, "liberal" lending policies did not create the mortgage meltdown. 85% of the loans that are in trouble were made by private lending institutions. Further, it's not even the mortgages themselves that created the problem, but rather the Consolidated Debt Instruments/offerings created and marketed vigorously by the financial community and insurers (AIG for example).

Moving jobs offshore and importing qualified but lower paid foreigners to improve profits and reduce taxes has resulted in disasterous losses for the American worker...and damaged our national security.

I don't care what exec's in a privately held company pay themselves. I do care what exec's in publicly held companies are paid. MANY are paid well over 200 times the average wage of their employees. Back in 2007 the CEO of United Health Care was awarded over $60 Mil in compensation. Every dollar he was paid was a dollar some client had to haggle about to get their claim paid. Delay, deny, and deny again has been the profitability rallying cry of the health care insurance business.

Under the guise of "free market" these unscrupulous and often immoral, if not illegal, unregulated activities have flourished to the point of destroying our economy. Meanwhile, many of the the asswipes who did all this are being bailed out by the taxpayers...and the taxpayers are getting nothing back except the long term debt which will crush us later...(when the rich have already taken flight to George Bush's compound in Paraguay.... :-) )

To be sure, all this cannot be laid at the feet of Republicans. That's why you'll hear us say "don't just elect more democrats, elect BETTER democrats....say like...oh....Brad Miller.

OTOH, Republicans have championed these causes and Bush has been their willing puppet.

That leads me to my Christmas wish...That Bush and Cheney are both convicted of treason and crimes against humanity and sentenced to spend the rest of their lives in the shower room of the worst prison in America....buck-nekkid, and wearing lipstick. WooHoo...justice served.!!

Stan Bozarth

I do agree with most of that....

But, that last part...well, if nothing else, it's certainly comical.

Thanks, Stan.

The best thinking is independent thinking.

Free Markets

I would like to get rid of free markets.

Free Markets Art Pope's Butt?

I would like to get rid of monopoly corporate markets.......* paraphasing TrueMeckDem

Suggest you buy the game Monopoly from Parker Brothers and try to get out of jail like Benard Madoff. Just think, you can always print paper money like the game Monopoly and buy yourself out of debt with more debt with free market phony federal reserve notes......The only free market in history has always been the Black Market.

Maybe you should spend a little time

reading what free market fundamentalists actually believe before you criticize James for criticizing them.

See, those folks you're defending would tell you that this proves:

"Um...the free market has been the backbone of our country"

that you don't know what the hell you're talking about, because we've never had anything close to a free market in this country. Hell, they even pop in here and scream it at us every fricking fortnight or so. And they're right.

We've never really had a free market, and it's a damned good thing, too. What we have is a form of pseudo-mercantilism where elements are allowed a certain amount of freedom and protection as long as they prosper and enrich the state.

Under a true free market, the state wields very little influence and the individual elements have few restrictions or protections.

Free market fundamentalists believe (for some strange reason) that the American economy has been "held back" by government regulations and intervention, and the fantasy world that they envision would (somehow) be much more successful than the most powerful and successful economy this world has ever seen.

If you think arguing with us is frustrating, try getting into a discussion with one of those folks. I dare you. I was going to say, "Go find some", but they'll be here pretty soon. I can tell, because the hairs on the back of my neck are standing up...

My professors obviously didn't do their job.

Guess my education was all for naught. Shucks.

Look, I know this blog is mostly, a "mutual admiration society" me, I only SOUND stupid :-) I also know that many people here believe that much that is said here is absolutely correct simply because others here agree to it.

If not for me....who would you folks have to "discuss" these issues with?

We're leavin' for Heaven (Myrtle) for our family holiday get together so you'll have to deal with the important issues of the day without me for a few days.
Don't screw them up.

The best thinking is independent thinking.

Thanks, Linda

Hey, I think I'm gonna take some time during my respite away from BlueNC to ponder why it is that I seem to piss off so many folks here. I mean, seems like even my attempts at loosening up most of the folks on this venue that obviously lean left just kinda swooooosh right over their heads and I'm taken all serious and stuff.

Linda...I'm an agnostic. Next time you discuss something with Huh here, ask him about his interaction with me and how I've always proclaimed that religiously. Does that surprise you?

But, hey, I do appreciate your good wishes. Now, if only my sons and I can get a day with some sunshine so as to play Tidewater.

You have a wonderful season as well.

The best thinking is independent thinking.

I don't think you piss of as many people as you'd like to think!

You just have different opinions - and it takes a while for people to get to know each other. We can't necessarily read tone of voice or loosening up in a post, you know?

As for discussing things with Huh - I'll leave you two to discuss your religious views. But no, I'm not surprised you are agnostic. Nothing surprises me these days.

Thanks for the well wishes - see you when you get back.

Look, I know you're not

mean-spirited, Smitty. And I know you're smarter than the average bear, too. But the thing is, you (often) throw around a lot of the same jingo that gets bandied around on Conservative blogs and messageboards, and by the drive-by's and trolls that pop in here frequently to count coup on the "hopelessly naive liberals" who live here. Being forced to sit through the long version of "Free Bird" is refreshing by comparison. And little comments like this:

"I also know that many people here believe that much that is said here is absolutely correct simply because others here agree to it."

are insulting and tiresome. You might think it's cute or even sincere, but it's really just plain ugly when you boil it down.

You want to engage in a productive and substantive discourse? Great. Let's do it. But starting out with a sneering, sarcastic comment, and then ending with a, "Whoa! I didn't mean to touch a nerve there with my attempt at humor!" is the type of passive-aggressive bullshit that has resulted in the untimely death of many a court jester. And they weren't missed, either.

Damn, you don't like "Free

Damn, you don't like "Free Bird"?

I'm a moderate Democrat.

It was okay up to the 1,000

,000,000th time I heard it. It began to sour somewhat after that. ;)

Well truth be known I have

Well truth be known I have always been in the ABB camp of Southern Rock so I know what you are talking about. "Whipping Post" anyone?

I'm a moderate Democrat.

Eat A Peach, baby

Seriously. They're really good. A whole truckload might kill you, but, you know. "Moderation" is the key. ;Oo-

No, Scharrison, he isn't.

He really isn't smarter than the average bear. If you followed conversations on Talking About Politics, you find that "Smitty," aka "Dap," is somewhat less intelligent than the average bear, far less mature than "baby bear" and, in his passive aggressive style (I promise you he doesn't even understand the concept) is working awfully hard on this site to pretend he has an open mind about gays.

Sorry. I get more than a little disgusted from time to time.

Okay, that does explain a little bit

I really haven't spent enough time there to see what the trees look like in Spring and Fall (my grammaw used to say that, and I hadn't thought of it in years), bit I think I've seen a few comments like you're talking about.

Where you been hidin' at, woman?

Ain't been a-hidin'

Just ain't been around.

I got caught up in a pre-holiday frenzy. Then the holidays came, which extended the swirl of activity.

Now I'm just plain tired. And yikes, it isn't over yet!

Hope you and yours are enjoying the season -


I'm enjoying it more

than I thought I would. My mom and one of my sisters are going out of town, so we're not doing a great big family thing. Which means me and my three kids are doing a Christmas Eve thing at my house, which I guess is...normal?

Big family things are nice, but the four of us hanging out together at home without having to run back and forth is special, and the holidays (seem to be) the only time we can pull it off.

Happy Holidays, Bru. :)

a' hidin'

I was wonderin' where you was a' hidin' myself. "Crypts" and happy holidaze.

I'm so advised, I guess....

Yeah, I will take your admonishments to heart, Scharrison. I certainly take issue with some things you've said but those are best left to rest so I can go forward here in a civilized fashion.

I find life without levity very boring.

Thanks for the input.

The best thinking is independent thinking.

Actually, life wothout humor

isn't worth living. I could go into a lecture about how many endorphins are released from laughter, but that's not funny enough to release any, so...

They say that revenge is a dish best served cold (actually it was, "La vengeance est un plat qui se mange froid"), but humor is best served warm. That doesn't mean it has to be all fluffy bunnies and hand-holding, it just means that humor can't serve as an antidote to a painful and poisonous sting.


Humor can sure help relieve the pain, my friend.

I think we're on the same wavelength here.

I know, I know....liberals are passionate on things like gay rights and environmental concerns and the poor and underpriviliged having nothing while fat-cats steal our country blind etc. I admire their spunk, truly I do.

But honestly, Scharrison, all conservative thought is NOT bad. What IS bad is someone like GW Bush serving as a republican when he is anything but.

If ever our two sides (left and right) could truly come together, imagine the success we could have running this country.

The best thinking is independent thinking.

I want peace.

Not "World Peace", screw that. I want some peace and quiet at my house!
: )

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

Something my pops taught me get peace and quiet at your own house, it must start with you.

Think about it.

The best thinking is independent thinking.

I want advice

What should I be doing, reading, or writing about--to be a better writer? I need help. I have no direction of any kind!

Two suggestions

1. This book is great inspiration with good practical advice.

2. Find a writing group that will force you to produce and read something every couple of weeks.

When all is said, writing is the key to writing. But reading aloud is where it really gets polished.

thanks james

I was smiling as I clicked on the link, wondering if somehow "Jesus Swept" would be the title that appeared. lol! By the way, our copies of "Swept" have arrived and I'll be receiving mine this week. Can't wait to read it.

Another great book for writers

Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg. It works as a writing group in itself, if you're disciplined enough. Someone gave me a copy years ago, and I'm giving one to my son this year.

I want a lump of Clean Coal

in my stocking, and I want to shake the hand of the magic little elf who made it for me:

"You're kidding, right? I bust my ass crafting this thing, and all I get is a handshake? Do you have any idea how big the original chunk of coal was I had to use? It was like the size of a 1970's Ford LTD Brougham, and I wrenched my damned back trying to muscle the thing around in my shop. To top it off, my union rep says I can't file for worker's comp, because it was an "unreasonable wish" in the first place, which I should not have honored. So yes, a handshake falls a little short there, Einstein."


Clean coal sort of reminds me of pork, the other white meat. Or something like that.



Send that comment to your man Obama...I mean, he's like a HUGE advocate of "clean coal".

Oops ! Ya musta missed that.

Red faced yet?

The best thinking is independent thinking.

We didn't miss it, Smitty

I don't expect you to go back and study the thousands of comments that have taken place here, but I do expect you to be smart enough not to continually operate under the, "If Smitty hasn't seen it, it doesn't exist" mindset.

That comment you made was #110,283. We haven't been comparing recipes the whole time, you know.


Um...mine is the #110,283 comment on how Obama is in favor of clean coal technology libbies still post against it.

Continue it and you'll set yourself up for #110,284, mi amigo.

The best thinking is independent thinking.

Come on Smitty

Do you really think liberals are just the mirror image of Republicans, marching in lockstep behind a leader just because he's from a certain party?

The cover your party has provided in the face of Bush's incompetence is truly remarkable. Only in the past year when the financial impacts of his lunacy have begun to hit home has the partisan right started taking shots at the Decider.

There are plenty of things Obama supports that I don't. Clean coal is just the tip of a melting iceberg. So is Obama's ridiculous rhetoric about amping up in Afghanistan. When you point out what he thinks with a presumption that it somehow translates into what we think ... well that's just silly.

As Steve said, stick around and read more. You'll find no Democrats here getting a pass when they do stupid stuff. At least not from me.

Faulty logic.

Obama is in favor of "clean coal". I voted for Obama, therefore I must be in favor of "clean coal" as well. Nope.

I disagree with Obama on several issues. "Clean coal" is one of them. Marriage equality is another. However, I voted for Obama because he was the best choice, the obvious choice, for me. I believe that with an Obama administration, my dissent on certain issues will not be cause for me to be placed on any list, and my expression of that dissent will be not only allowed, but encouraged.

Is there an echo in here?

Just askin'.

The best thinking is independent thinking.

You know what I want

It‘s easy. All I want in my Christmas stocking is 19 Western North Carolina landslide maps. I know you ask, will she ever write about any other issue? Not likely. To my merry mischief-making friends, thank you for your kindness and support.

Happy Discourse!


I've read some of your blogs on here and look forward to learning more about this!

I bet you'll write on other issues

when you get those maps. Here's hoping you won't be waiting for too long.

I have learned so much from your posts here. That's what I love about this place. Amazing people writing about issues that I didn't even know were issues until they wrote about it here. The landslide issue in Western NC, the OLF - I wouldn't have known about them if I had not read about them here.

So I agree with Momoaizo: I want this community to continue to grow and thrive. It is indeed, better than any civics class.

Happy whatever

To All My Democrat Friends and Relatives:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2009, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere . Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.

To My Republican Friends and Relatives:

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

The best thinking is independent thinking.

Oh, oh

Well...guess that means they're not gonna get beamed up either.

Actually, believe it or not, I've studied just about every religion known to man...some forced...some I chose to do on my own. Many (maybe most) religions are actually dictatorships. Speaking of that, just how much power DOES that Pope guy have?

The best thinking is independent thinking.

Merry Christmas


You just can not see through your hatred of the Democratic Party. First of all notice I said Democratic not Democrat. For some reason it makes me mad when people call us the Democrat Party. The proper name is Democratic. If you want us to take you seriously then call us by the proper name.

Now I get to my main point. Despite what the right wing tries to tell you, all Democrats are not athiests and we do not all believe in not saying Merry Christmas. I am a Christian Liberal, and yes as they say in the M&Ms commercial They Do Exist.

Everyday at work, I wish my customers Merry Christmas and my customers wish me the same. I'm sure that there are other liberals on this board who disagree with my view on this but give up the liberals do not believe in god shtick it is not going to influence anyone.

My christmas wish, is that everyone who is travelling makes it to their destination and back home saftley.

This reminded me

Of a letter to the editor I wrote a few years ago:

I hope {name edited} is right; that people in the Sandhills will not be unable to say "Merry Christmas". Christmas is an important time of year for Christians, and lots of the rest of us recognize the joy of being together with family on that day.

However, I also hope that they will be able to graciously accept that more and more Sandhills residents celebrate winter holidays other than Christmas. I hope to see those very same folks being able to smile happily at their neighbors, wishing them a Happy Hannukah, which this year begins at sundown on Dec. 25, which means that at least this year my Jewish friends get a least part of their holiday off from work like my Christian friends.

If you can't bring yourself to try and wrap your mouth around a word as unfamiliar as "Hannukah", try "Holiday". After all, it means "Holy-day", and that's what Christmas, and Hannukah, and a raft of other days off from work are about.

Having grown up in a more religiously diverse area, I understand that "Happy Holidays" means what it says - "Happy HOLY-days". Don't be offended if someone wishes you Happy Holidays! Graciously accept, smile, and say thank you.

I'm sorry to see {name edited} wish to be "beamed up". I suppose he is looking for that mythic Christian nation I keep hearing about. Good luck - if you find it, and if you decide to go, well, those of us here in the diverse USA will miss you, but will understand your decision to go.

Happy Holidays.

Send it in again with the new names

I think there have been at least two letters in the Pilot complaining that the parade put on by the business association in downtown Southern Pines was advertised as a "Holiday Parade."