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Think Tank Talk

Not new news but certainly topical around here, "Fairness and Accuracy in Media" (not to be confused with the misleadingly named right wing group "Accuracy in Media") looked at Citations of Think Tanks in Media. Reported in May/June 2006 the study found a drop in think tank cites, primarily from progressive groups.

40 percent of such citations in 2005 were to conservative or center-right groups, 47 percent were to centrist groups and only 13 percent were to center-left or progressive groups.

More below the fold

NC Infrastructure Report Card: C-

This morning the North Carolina Section of the American Society of Engineers released the first North Carolina Infrastructure Report Card 2006 at simultaneous press conferences in Raleigh and Charlotte.

Airports, Dams and Roads were given grades of D or lower, Bridges, Drinking Water, Schools, Stormwater and Wastewater got C or lower and only Rail scored over C with a B-. While the State's overall grade of C- is better that the national grade of D the study shows that North Carolina's infrastructure can not support its increasing population at current funding levels.

UnLocke the Truth

The anatomy of a John Locke Foundation report is at once complex and simple. Complex in its obfuscation of the truth, simple in its structure. A key to unlocking the code lies in the footnotes, the Achilles heel of every John Locke report. The secret lies not in the footnotes themselves but in the source from which they are cited, invariably out of context, frequently inaccessible for verification or, fabricated by the author (1).

Return to Sender and Purge 527s

Hot on Anglico's heels in the hunt for 527s watch out for these right-wing groups in the months to come: The "Government Reform Coalition" and "Purge Congress 527". Each group has IRS initial filings with NC addresses but no reported contributions or expenditures to date. A large flow of cash could influence the fall elections but might not be detected until after election day.

Government Reform Coalition was formed last year with a Raleigh address that is listed as undeliverable by the US Postal Service and can not be identified in Wake County tax records. The custodian of the 527 is DC based lawyer "Alan P. Dye" a partner in the firm Webster, Chamberlain and Bean. Dye is closely associated with the "Republican Leadership Coalition" a group largely funded and controlled by millionaire J. Patrick Rooney, the self described "Father of Medical Savings Accounts" who also advocates for school vouchers. Rooney also largely funded the "People of Color" group which attacked Teresa Heinz for highlighting her African heritage.

Subpoena Served in 10th District

Yesterday in Kinston just after lunch Fred Riggs, owner of Rustikat Internet Services, was served dessert in the form of a subpoena ordering him to present documents which will identify the owner of the anonymous fake Van Braxton web site. Riggs has until the close of business Friday to deliver the documents to the State Board of Elections in Raleigh.

Rustikat Internet Services hosts the fake site, several Republican websites including that of Republican Willie Ray Starling and numerous web sites owned by Ted Sampley known for outlandish attacks on public figures locally and nationally and for physically attacking John McCain's co-writer. Republican Steven LaRoque also pays Riggs for banner advertising.

Bi-Lo, Sell High

Recently Bi-Lo stores has tried to introduce a store card managed by Compucredit which is a plastic equivalent of payday lending. After an outcry Bi-Lo has delayed, but not stopped, plans for implementation in NC. Compucredit sees this as the thin edge of a wedge for their sub-prime lending but it is essentially a subterfuge for usurious payday lending.

Payday lending money has been an insidious influence in state politics. Though payday lending has been banned it keeps coming back like a character in a bad horror movie.

Loitering within 10th

Ever since NC millionaire Republican Svengali Art Pope decided to take out Republican Steve LaRoque the race for the NC State House 10th District has been contentious. Willie Ray Starling, supported by Pope, was the apparent Republican primary winner by 11 votes but complaints of vote suppression led to a series of legal clashes resulting in a new Republican primary set for September 12th. The winner will face Democrat Van Braxton, a Kinston City Councilor for 12 years.

Kinston is also home to Ted Sampley a serial entrepreneur, character assassin and petulant self-appointed czar of veterans affairs. Sampley, a Vietnam veteran, is notorious for denigrating the military service of John McCain, John Kerry and John Murtha. He seems to have a problem with decorated veterans named John. Sampley has also attacked Jesse Helms when Congressional inquiries didn't go his way.

Looks like Swiss Cheese, Smells like Limburger

Friday, Meredith Norris, Jim Black's former political director, pled no-contest to charges of unregistered lobbying. Jim Black had a legal setback Monday when a judge ruled that certain contributions funneled through the Optometry PAC were illegal and must be forfeited. This follows Michael Decker's August 1st guilty plea to conspiracy to extort, mail fraud and money laundering and a clandestine meeting at a Salisbury IHOP, widely considered to be with Black.

Last Sunday NBC17's At Issue local political panel had Nelson Dollar, Joe Sinsheimer and Bill Faison discussing the Black & Decker events. Dollar had little to add to the discussion.


I have always been intrigued by the seemingly random nature of drug pricing and was inspired by a recent NPR story about Genentech to find a way to fill the Medicare Part D donut hole. It seems Genentech has a conundrum. It recently won approval for Lucentis, a drug to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which costs $1,950 per treatment. At the same time eye doctors have been treating AMD in patients with small off-label doses of Avastin, another Genentech drug approved to treat colon cancer. The cost for the amount of Avastin used for AMD is $50 per treatment.


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