A distinction with a difference

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The North Carolina Republican Party is between a rock and a hard place these days, caught in a conundrum between its conservative roots and the free-market (aka Libertarian) extremists, who are staging a full-fledged takeover. Under the guiding hands of Art "The Puppetmaster" Pope, the party is sliding over the edge of sanity into the abyss of personal greed and social irresponsibility.

Nowhere is the train wreck between responsible conservatism and free-market mania more clear than in the broad area of planning. Two "reports" featured in Art Pope's privately owned Libertarian think tank tell the sad story for all to see. The first is a shallow piece of short-sighted drivel with a name only Pope's puppets could embrace. Planning Penalties in North Carolina is an ideological free market diatribe against nothing less than than the wisdom of zoning.

Slow News / No News Friday

Don't let the title fool you. There's plenty of serious news going on. I'm just not in the mood to write about it today. I thought you might enjoy a few links to interesting articles from around the state. If you've found an interesting article that's worth linking to add it in the comments.

In Charlotte there was a huge fire Wednesday night at a uniform company. Two firefighters were hurt. In today's Charlotte Observer there's a very nice piece about the firefighter who was injured the worst. He's going to be fine and is ready to get back to work in spirit. The piece isn't really about him as much as it is about the fire.

Meet me on the flip side for articles from around the state....

In case you hadn't heard...

The minimum wage in this state might just be going up here soon. According to a post on the Capital Beat blog at the Greensboro News & Record, both the North Carolina Senate and House passed legislative measures containing an increase in the minimum wage to $6.15 an hour.

The House and the Senate both voted to raise the state’s minimum wage to $6.15 an hour today, but both in different ways.

This morning, Senators gave final approval to their version of the budget, which has a minimum wage increase tacked onto it.

Taking on tolls in Wake

A new website has popped up to fight the making of I-540 toll (and to promote a candidate for NC Senate) called stop540toll.com. Gerry Bowles (D) is trying to unseat first term Republican senator Neal Hunt by jumping on the toll issue. As I have posted before, I hate the idea of toll roads for mainly local traffic, unless you are talking about a crowded downtown area.

However, Crosstown Traffic at the N&O has noted that Bowles does not even live in the area that would become tolled. Also, despite the fact that I support Bowles' cause regardless of where he lives, I do not know that the running for NC senate would be the forum that would best address it; there are many other transportantion and planning boards that could be a more effective outlet for this issue.

Mel Watt Needs To Hear From You to Protect Our Internet

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usFrom Daily Kos:

"The House Judiciary Committee will mark up H.R. 5417, Sensenbrenner's and Conyers' Internet Freedom and Nondiscrimination Act of 2006, tomorrow. This is a remarkably good example of bipartisan legislation that preserves the concept of net neutrality."

Important information on the flip side...

Dear God.

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I don't know what You have been up to lately, but it's clear You must be distracted. Between the genocide in Darfur and the asshole in the White House, You certainly do have your hands full. In fact, I've heard tell You have the whole world in your hands. But I've been wondering lately if you've been letting a few things slip between your fingers. Each day I discover more hatefulness being done in your name, including things that make me embarrassed that I was once baptized, courtesy of a church in the Southern Baptist Convention. And just in case you're not keeping up with the latest news (you do have access to the Internets, right?) here's a story that will knock your holy socks off.

You Think Senators & Congressmen are Exempt? NADA!

Theft of VA files puts Carper at some risk
By JENNIFER BROOKS
News Journal Washington Bureau
05/24/2006

WASHINGTON -- Among the millions of names and files stolen from the Department of Veterans Affairs this month may have been some pretty recognizable faces on Capitol Hill.

But even for congressional victims of identity theft, getting answers out of the VA isn't easy.

"We called the hot line. We got a machine. We left a message," said Bill Ghent, spokesman for Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. -- one of at least a dozen members of Congress whose name and personal data may have been stolen from the home of a VA employee this month.

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