Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Conservative Viewpoint
- Is Presidential Race Media Biased?

Article by Bob Steinburg
- Edenton, North Carolina: Cradle of the Colony

Americans should not have to worry about having to wade through misstatements of truth, fact or hyperbole from our daily newspapers or favorite broadcast network. But unfortunately many of these once trusted iconic sources of “unbiased” reporting have gradually and seductively become agenda driven. Many have succumbed to their “lust to influence” instead of pursuing objective news reporting and balanced opinion pages. As a result they have steadily lost readers, viewers and listeners, although their influence remains significant.

The editorial “opinions” of all media outlets should be presented on the OP-ED pages of newspapers and labeled as such in the broadcast media as well. But viewpoints can often be masked as hard news. Columnists write opinion commentary based on news events from individual perspectives. A good column and a good editorial should generate a response from readers- those that agree and those that don’t. The objective is to stimulate discourse.

Bill O’Reilly from Fox News for example, reports on news events from his “perspective,” as do Keith Olberman and Chris Mathews, both of MSNBC. They all have their loyal followings. But when the news operations of the once venerable mainstream media outlets openly fawn over or appear to favor one candidate over another, they have, in my view, crossed the lines of ethical propriety.

The New York Times isn’t trying to disguise its preferential bias-even on their OP-ED page. In fact, it’s blatantly telegraphing it. They recently rejected an editorial written and submitted by Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain in response to a recent essay published in that paper by Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama.

Obama’s article entitled “My Plan for Iraq” never discusses winning the war, only ending it. Mc Cain attempted to respond with a commentary written from his perspective as to why it’s important we must win the war. The Times Op-Ed Editor David Shipley told McCain’s campaign: “I’m not going to be able to accept this piece as currently written.” OP-ED pages should not be discriminating against viewpoint and certainly not that from one of just two individuals striving to become our next commander-in-chief.

Let’s also consider the media’s coverage of Barack Obama’s trip to Europe and the Middle East. Is it news? Of course. Any current or potential head of state traveling on fact finding or diplomatic sojourns abroad should receive intense media coverage. But to have the three major television network talking heads, Brian Williams of NBC, Katie Couric of CBS and Charlie Gibson of ABC, reporting each evening “on location” with the Obama entourage is somewhat suspect.

I can’t recall President Bush ever receiving this kind of media coverage on any trip abroad during his eight years as president. And John McCain (remember him?) recently traveled to Europe and the Middle East as well as to several countries south of our border. What kind of media coverage did his trips receive?

To be fair, the Obama campaign is a fine oiled media savvy machine compared to a McCain campaign that’s still trying to find its bearings. They even tried to secure the historic Brandenburg Gate in Berlin for an Obama speech; a place where President John Kennedy spoke to Berliners in 1963 and where 24 years later President Ronald Reagan stood and told the Soviet Union’s General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.” German leaders declined and offered a venue of the Victory Column instead.

Next month there will be another “staging” opportunity for the Obama campaign when he officially accepts the Democratic nomination for president at their convention in Denver. Instead of delivering his acceptance speech from the traditional convention hall setting, he’ll move that “moment” outdoors into a giant 75,000 seat stadium guaranteed to be filled with “Obamamaniacs” swooning in their seats as they await his every utterance. It will be great theatre and certain to drive much of an already adoring press into convulsive adulation. We’ll have to wait and see how objectively the media will measure the content of his words versus the hype of the moment.

Some will argue that there really is no media bias for one party or one candidate over another. But by examining who these media types are supporting with their individual wallets, the fog begins to lift from the glen. The American Thinker, a daily conservative web site, recently shared some analysis of federal election records that detail the amount of money journalists have contributed so far this election cycle. Their donations favored Democrats 15:1. Some 235 journalists gave to Democrats and just 20 to Republicans.

And other newsroom categories were examined too, including reporters, correspondents, news editors, anchors and newspaper publishers. These numbers showed 311 donors giving to Democrats and only 30 donors contributing to Republicans. This is the epitome of “putting your money where your mouth is.”

In 1960 four University of Michigan professors performed a research study entitled “The American Voter” which showed voters were nothing but lemmings when it came to knowledge about their government and politics. America was shocked! A recent study called “The American Voter Revisited” indicates the situation today is even worse. And with the seriousness of what’s at stake this November we should all be terrified.

You can’t entirely blame the news media for giving the folks what they want. The news media is also in the entertainment business and can only justify its existence by striving to improve its ratings and circulation numbers. But it’s a sad commentary on the times we live in when news coverage has to rely more on the superficial than the factual to justify their existence. But then again “that’s entertainment.”

Bob did not note what I see as the most pervasive result of the biased news coverage. People in North Carolina are confused about their own government. Though Republicans have had no power in North Carolina for most of the last 100 years, and none at all for the last 20 years, the majority of North Carolina’s voters say that Republicans are the cause of most of the problems in government. We have one party rule and yet most people do not see that. The party that has ruled North Carolina during all that time is considred the best party to fix the problems they have created.

There is a classic definition of insanity. When someone keeps doing the same thing over and over but expects different results, they are insane. When North Carolina keeps voting the party of corruption and taxes into offices, and then complains about corruption and taxes, they are insane. Maybe the problem is that Republicans are not willing to be controversial and point this out.

Is that the problem?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Conservative Viewpoint
- N. C. Ship Of State Leaking

Article by Bob Steinburg
- Edenton, North Carolina: Cradle of the Colony

The North Carolina ship of state is comprised of the 120 elected representatives who serve in the State House, 50 senators who serve in the State Senate, a Governor and nine elected members to the Council of State. The legislature writes the budget. They are elected to represent us by balancing our individual local interests with the needs of the entire state. If the proposed state budget for fiscal 2008-09 is any indication of how seriously they’re taking this responsibility, it appears they’re significantly underachieving, causing our ship of state to spring a leak.

Our individual elected representatives have little voice in the outcome of the final budget. Only two men – Senator Marc Basnight, President Pro Tem of the Senate, and Rep. Joe Hackney, Speaker of the House- control the agenda and the votes on all legislative matters. They are both Democrats.

The 13 appropriation committee chairs are also occupied by Democrats. While these legislators do have some input into the budget process, they too will ultimately succumb to the will of Messrs. Basnight and Hackney

Mr.Hackney and Mr. Basnight also control debate. They can choose to ignore a legislator who stands in opposition, or to offer an alternative amendment. They simply rule them out of order. And when these two gentlemen decide they want a Bill to die they send it off to committee, which is the equivalent of Russia sending a political prisoner off to Siberia - never to be heard from again. With the Democrats controlling both chambers of state government these two political Titans will have the final word on how our hard-earned tax dollars are spent.

The new $21.3 billion budget recently passed both the House and Senate with Democrats voting unanimously yes and most Republicans voting no. Democratic Gov. Mike Easley is expected to sign it.

Do we have a balanced budget? Yes. Are our tax dollars being spent wisely? That depends on how you feel about a number of things including our state incurring an additional $857 million in debt. This is more than previous proposals and was included in the budget without even considering voter input or approval. Questions remain how we’re even going to fund the debt service.

Committing North Carolina to additional financial encumbrances in this precarious economic environment is fiscally irresponsible. While most of the folks are tightening their belts at home to try and deal with the consequences of a faltering economy, Raleigh continues to spend and accumulate additional debt as if we were living in the best of times. An example is the adding of 400 new full-time state jobs that include five-star benefit packages paid for by you know who.

Another fiscally disturbing element of this budget is that it includes the re-authorization of “retired” debt of $107 million. Get your checkbooks out. We’ll be paying for that, too.

North Carolina will spend $15 million this year for drop-out prevention grants. This is $8 million dollars more than last year. Wouldn’t it have made sense to evaluate the program first to see if it’s even working before committing more funds to it? Raleigh apparently didn’t think so.

We’ve all been taught to put a little money away for a rainy day. The state has a “Rainy Day Fund” too, but this year they won’t be contributing. Why? We currently have a total of just under $800 million in this fund, which is less than five percent of this year’s budget and the statutory cap. Enough for a few rainy days perhaps but heaven help us if North Carolina experiences a financial monsoon.

The people of this state continue to be deeply concerned about our pressing infrastructure needs and yet there is little in this budget to address it. Oh there is money set aside for patching a few pot-holes here and there but that’s about it. Is it going to take a senseless human disaster to finally awaken Raleigh to this impending crisis?

“How can they do this,” you ask? Because we let them. By re-electing the same fiscally irresponsible folk’s year after we’re basically telling them we don’t give a damn how you spend our money.

Mr. Basnight and Mr. Hackney, along with their Democratic minions, will soon return from Raleigh singing praises of their many accomplishments in this legislative session. One song you won’t be hearing is the one about how they’ve increased our fees by $100 million along with transferring money from trust, scholarship and lottery proceeds to help underwrite hundreds of government projects.

I doubt they’ll be singing either about their including $42 million in the budget for more corporate welfare in the form of various tax breaks as enticements for companies to either come here or stay here.

Our state government continues to grow and with it so too does our debt. The term fiscal responsibility has meant little to the majority party running the show in Raleigh. In fact those words are an oxymoron.

The North Carolina Democratic Party remains out of touch with its citizens. Representative government in the General Assembly is sadly, laughable. When one party holds the reins of power as long as these folks have, you end up with a government that looks out for themselves first and those they purport to represent last.

When you have an irresponsibly arrogant state government unchallenged by a significantly apathetic uninformed statewide electorate you’re in unchartered waters. Before sailing further we best bring this leaky ship of state into dry dock for a complete overhaul. We then need to replace her Captain, First Mate and much of her crew. Only then will she be capable of withstanding the perils of the approaching economic “perfect storm.”

One Party Rule. A recent poll by Civitas had an assessment by NC people that our problems are caused by Republicans, who have not had any power or say in creating the problems. The poll says these same people believe the problems are best solved by Democrats, who have been in power for most of the last hundred years and who created the problems peopole are complaining about.

Is this poll corect? Are you one of the majority of NC citizens who blame the party with no power and plan to vote for the same people who created the problems? The poll indicated that the more unhappy people are with the future of NC, the more they plan to vote for the party that is in currently in power.

That has got to be one definition of insanity.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Conservative Viewpoint
- Liberals Favor Gloom And Doom Politics

Article by Bob Steinburg
- Edenton, North Carolina: Cradle of the Colony

Some of my friends are liberal. However, seldom do I find one who is truly happy with anything. With liberals nothing ever functions as it should and everything is in need of a constant makeover or intense psychoanalysis. Most liberals seem to be either in a state of constant despair or clinical depression as they survey their own lives and that of the world around them. To them America is forever going to “hell in a hand basket.”

For example, if we’re winning a war, liberals want us to leave before we’ve won. If we’re losing a war, they say we should have never been involved in the first place.

Liberals adamantly oppose the death penalty while vociferously supporting partial- birth abortion.

Liberals are against giving options to parents seeking alternatives to failing schools for their children and instead support throwing more money at failed programs and schools that have this nation on the brink of an educational abyss.

They fight against the pledge of allegiance and prayer in the classroom because those traditions might be discriminatory. To whom? This kind of thinking has helped contribute to our deteriorating moral culture. Liberals would like nothing better than to further emasculate our judicial system by electing a liberal president who will appoint liberal judges to the bench thereby further empowering the Americans who identify themselves as such.

Liberals don’t see illegal-aliens as problematic. Many support full amnesty for those who initially entered our country in violation of our “existing” immigration laws.

Liberals resist drilling at home for oil and natural gas and are opposed to expanding nuclear power. Yes, more clean energy alternatives are needed. But we also must tap into conventional sources of energy here, including oil, coal, oil shale and natural gas while we further develop more clean air technology.

Discussing social reform with a liberal is problematic. They often argue with emotion rather than reasoning with logic. If you disagree with them you risk being labeled as self-righteous, a racist or a bigot.

The liberal mantra is always “the sky is falling.” Their message of hope is hoping we believe that America is in a serious state of decline and then hoping we will only rely on their solutions to fix it. While America has pressing problems at home and abroad we are hardly a nation in decline. If so why do so many people want to come here, even at the risk of arrest and deportation? And conversely why do so few, if any, want to leave?

Liberals are often on the wrong side of history. From the Cold War to the War on Terror, from welfare reform to protecting our second amendment rights, from national security to our current national energy crisis liberals always seem to refuse even considering a pragmatic approach to problem solving. They choose instead to be dogmatic on various theories that often ignore good old- fashioned common sense. There is nothing wrong with advocating for a proven theory but holding one’s country hostage to theoretical speculation is tantamount to paralysis.

A 2004 Pew study found that 19 percent of Americans identify themselves as liberals. While they are small in number they are vocal activists whose tentacles reach deep within the bowels of this country’s mainstream media. By association and ideological inbreeding they have created a virtual impregnable monolith of liberal media bias that is being sold as objective news reporting. In truth, it’s not.

Barack Obama is now the darling of the American media. They portray him as “the” agent of change, almost like a Moses who will lead his people out of the wilderness into the promised land of milk and honey. There has been little analysis in the media on just exactly how Mr. Obama will pay for this massive makeover, but for some Americans that’s not important. To them he is simply the “Balm of Gilead.”

While serving in the Illinois State Legislature and the United States Senate, Mr. Obama showed little evidence of ever working across party lines. But some feel should he become president he will magically morph from an extreme liberal ideologue into a moderate compromiser.

Watching Mr. Obama over the last several weeks on the campaign trail is almost like watching a chameleon as his “rhetoric” slides carefully toward the center. The left is not happy. Even the very liberal New York Times, in a recent editorial page headline dubbed Mr. Obama as “New and Not Improved.”

First, Mr. Obama broke his promise to stay within public financing limits. Then he reversed his position on electronic wire-tapping, now supporting it. His position on the war in Iraq has softened and he is now saying he will seek counsel with the commanders in the field before considering an initial draw-down in troop strength. Mr. Obama also flip-flopped when he endorsed the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn the District of Columbia’s gun control law.

And in a recent advertising blitz in battleground states Mr. Obama’s ad states he supported welfare reform when in fact he voted against it.

While Mr. Obama continues to move toward the center his message is beginning to resemble that of John McCain. And for him to win in November it will need to.

Most of this nation is right of center, leaning conservative. Comparing the legislative voting records of Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama would clearly point out to the most partisan hack that it’s Mr. McCain who is the more conservative. But to win in November Mr. Obama will need to convince a majority of conservative and moderate voters that his liberal ideology is passé and that he’s finally “seen the light.” No easy task-not even for a chameleon.

The key to this being important in the election is the relationship of political ideology to actual voting.

Bob's reported percentage of the American Public that considers itself liberal from the PEW Study is 19%. However the American National Election Studies poll on political self identification indicates it was slightly higher in 2004 and it has increased over time, suggesting it might be even higher than 23%, not 19% as PEW reports.

The ANES numbers are:
Liberal 17%
Moderate 20%
Conservative 28%
Not sure 36%

Liberal 23%
Moderate 26%
Conservative 32%
Not sure 20%

The number I find most interesting in this study is the percentage who were not sure how they felt. The category of "Not Sure" has dropped nearly in half in the last generation.

What is curious is the relative rankings of the two parties. The liberal party, Democrats, though hypothetically representing a political philosophy that has fewer adherents than the conservative party, Republicans, still has a larger Party registration. These numbers for 2004 are 37% Democrat and 32% Republican (with 30% unaffiliated or affiliated with minor parties). Democrats have retained a similar advantage for most of the last 100 years. This long term phenomenon needs to be explained if we are to make sense of what the people of America really think.

I agree with Bob's impression that liberals are more negative while conservatives are more positive. I guess what I want to understand is why the negative philosophy is more successful in attracting party members than the more positive philosophy of conservatives? Also why are moderates generally happier in the Democrat Party, aligning with this negative orientation, than in the Republican Party? The issue also needs to be reconciled with the fact that most people do not share the opinion of liberals being doom and gloom and conservatives being happy.

Perception is often called reality, but I am not sure that perception is this case even comes close to reality.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Conservative Viewpoint
- Small-Town America Matters In November

Article by Bob Steinburg
- Edenton, North Carolina: Cradle of the Colony

A Fourth of July in small town America is something every American citizen should experience at least once in their lifetime. My wife and I have just returned from our town’s courthouse green where each year on this day one of our citizens is given the honor of reading the words of the Declaration of Independence. Along with an eclectic group of folks also gathered here, we sat in our lawn chairs facing the Edenton Bay and listened to those poignant words that first echoed at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pa., on July 4, 1776. The 13 American colonies proclaimed their independence in dramatic fashion with language not only eloquent in phraseology, but bold in determination and resolve.

On this picturesque, summer morning in eastern North Carolina, the breeze off the water, the rustling of the leaves and the sailing vessels in the waters could not distract those gathered here from the powerful words echoing through the green. This sacred document was serving notice once more that freedom is never free.

Many in this quaint, rural southern town will spend most of the day sitting on front porches visiting with locals and visitors alike who pass by on the sidewalks that meander through the historic district of Edenton, a town still referred to as the “Cradle of the Colony.” They will exchange pleasantries with those within earshot as they sip on their iced tea or other favorite beverage. Later in the day many will return to the water where they’ll gather with friends and family to picnic and then watch the patriotic fireworks display above the bay in the evening summer sky.

Other small towns across America might celebrate Independence Day with parades, band concerts or picnics. Regardless of how the anniversary of our nation’s birth is marked this much is certain; the small rural communities that dot the landscape across the miles of this great country understand the meaning of patriotism, the significance of history and the hardships of sacrifice.

The values found in small town and rural U.S.A. is reminiscent of what most Americans deemed the norm not so long ago. Families living near their relatives where they would not only look out for one another but convey a sense of stability and continuity to those towns in which they lived. The values of the family often mirrored the values of the community; the values of the community the values of the nation.

America is obviously no longer a rural nation. In fact most of our population is centered in large urban corridors that serve as the financial and cultural hubs of their respective regions. Many there have never been exposed to rural life and have little understanding of it. They see no financial opportunity there, only a vast wilderness representing an agrarian society that has lost its influence in any national conversation – or so they feel.

Rural and small town Americans have little concept of instant gratification-something that may be more easily realized in a physical setting much different than their own. They tend to be more patient, as disappointment is oft more reality than not. They’re interdependent on family, friends and neighbors not just because they need to be to survive, but because they understand the meaning and strength of pulling together, of helping and being helped, of sharing in good times and bad. These folks often worship with each other on Sunday and perhaps even attend a mid-week Bible study. They understand that the strength of a community is essential to the strength of a nation.

When someone dies in a small town or rural area it’s a loss for everyone. Those young men and women who volunteer for military service understand the risk of returning home in a coffin, yet they volunteer nonetheless because their family, their community, their state and their nation is counting on them to keep us safe. Duty outweighs self. That’s the way it is here. That’s the way it’s always been. And in the eyes of these good people, that’s the way it will always be.

Many of these Americans will leave their farms and small towns behind but they won’t leave values that have been handed down for generations. Some will be replaced by others who recognize there is something special here in this land where financial opportunities are often few, but where principles, values and patriotism still reign.

In the 1971 movie “The Last Picture Show,” small-town America dies when its only movie theatre is closed. Small-town America is not dead. The values that made America great are engrained deep within the souls of all who call these communities home. Yes they may be mocked by progressive sophisticates in urban areas for clinging to their guns and their Bibles, but so too have generations of Americans who sacrificed their lives and treasures to build a nation free from tyranny and oppression. Those elitists simply don’t get it. But they’ll be reminded once more this November why small-town and rural values represent the “heartbeat of America.”

The "me, me, me" generation that Barack Obama represents and typifies, is not interested in these values or impressed by them. It is going to be interesting to see whether Bob is right. I pray he is.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A Conservative Viewpoint
- Summer Polls Nothing But Hot Air

Article by Bob Steinburg
- Edenton, North Carolina: Cradle of the Colony

This week’s Gallop Poll shows Barrack Obama and John McCain in a virtual dead heat.

Riding fresh off the crest of the wave of the primaries that have made him the presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party, one would think Barack Obama should be leading John McCain by 15 to 20 points.

McCain had wrapped up his party’s nomination months ago and until recently has been out of the lime-light. Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton had a fight to the finish and the media coverage they received was enormous.

But then you had a Newsweek poll last week that showed Mr. Obama leading Mr. McCain by 15 points. What gives?

George McGovern and Richard Nixon were tied in the polls in the spring of 1972. By the November election, Nixon had won 49 states.

A June 1984 Newsweek poll had Walter Mondale defeating Ronald Reagan by 18 points. Reagan won 525 electoral votes out of a possible 538-the highest total of electoral votes ever received by a candidate.

And a July 1988 Gallup Poll showed Democrat Michael Dukakis in front of George H. W. Bush by a 55-38 percentage margin. Bush won in November, handily receiving 426 electoral votes to Dukakis’s 111.

A June 1992 CBS poll had Ross Perot ahead of both President Bush and Bill Clinton.

A Harris poll in June 2000 showed George W. Bush leading Al Gore 58-42 percent in what turned out to be a cliff-hanger. And in June 2004, a CBS News poll had John Kerry ahead of George W. Bush by eight points.

In the last thirty six years of summer presidential polling only once did key polling data have it right and that was in 1996. Bill Clinton easily defeated Bob Dole by double-digits.

On the whole summer polls are simply unreliable.

The individual campaigns are now attempting to fine-tune their candidate’s message as they position themselves for the stretch run this fall. Voters are beginning to get serious and want to see the candidates debating head to head on issues that affect them and our nation. They want to hear more than rah-rah-rah-shish-boom bah!

The liberal media up to this point has been almost exclusively focused on the word “change.” It’s a great sound-bite and campaign slogan up to a point but voters now want to know what does change really mean? When the answer to that becomes clear polls too will be more insightful.

Does change mean we end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home without victory? Have you checked your newspaper or watched television news lately? Not too much about the war in Iraq is there? You can bet if we were losing the liberal media would be having a field-day. Where do Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain stand on this issue?

How about energy? Mr. McCain advocates drilling here at home for oil and natural gas along with building more refineries. He also wants us to build new nuclear power plants while continuing to aggressively promote the research for alternative energy sources. Mr. McCain is committed to making us more energy independent and less reliant on foreign sources of energy supply.

Mr. Obama also says he wants to see our nation more energy independent. Like Mr. McCain he too recognizes we have an energy crisis. He too is a strong advocate for new greener technology to heat our homes and fuel our automobiles. But unlike his opponent Mr. Obama is opposed to drilling and expanding nuclear power.

So what do we do until then-sit in the dark and freeze to death? Developing and mass marketing new affordable alternative energy sources will take time- more time perhaps than it would take to tap into the known energy resources we have available here at home.

Our “friends” in the Middle East have a stranglehold on our economy and its getting tighter every day. Common sense says part of any comprehensive energy reform must include securing more oil and natural gas. Refusing to drill at home is not only naïve but tantamount to economic suicide.

And speaking of change who will our next president be appointing to the Supreme Court? If you believe in the Bill of Rights but think the future appointments to the Supreme Court are not critical, think again. Last week in a razor thin 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld a U.S. citizen’s constitutional right to bear arms for self-defense. This was the court’s first major pronouncement on gun rights in U. S. history. Would a liberal majority on the Supreme Court have reached that decision?

Voters in America need to know where each of the candidates for the highest office in the land stand on a multitude of critical issues facing our nation as we near the end of the first decade of the 21st century.

With that understanding Mr. McCain has proposed to meet Mr. Obama in 10 town hall meetings between now and Labor Day to discuss the multitude of difficult issues facing America. Mr. Obama, who had previously stated he would debate Mr. McCain anytime, anywhere has agreed to meet him only once this summer. Why?

No wonder early polls are so unreliable. Voters are often clueless when it comes to not only the details of each candidate’s proposed agenda but the consequences, good and bad, of that agenda for America as well. Until the candidates stand side by side and debate the issues of our time and until voters begin to really listen, summer polls will continue to be nothing more than another gust of hot air.

I wonder if the attitude that summer polls mean nothing extends to the recent Civitas poll that shows most people in North Carolina blame Republicans for policies and problems created by Democrats and their laws. It was one of the most frustrating polls I have ever read because I could not think of anything that would allow a rational response. If Democracy is going to work, the people have to be more aware of what is happening than this. How can we govern when the people blame the party who opposed a law for the consequences of the law passed by the people they elected?

A Conservative Viewpoint
- A 12-Step Recovery Program For N.C.

Article by Bob Steinburg
- Edenton, North Carolina: Cradle of the Colony

Six weeks prior to the Congressional elections in November 1994, the Republican Party offered voters a “Contract with America,” describing the reforms they promised to make if they gained control of the House of Representatives. They hadn’t controlled the House in 40 years.

Voters responded overwhelmingly at the polls and elected a Republican House and Senate for the first time since 1953. In the end, a good deal of the contract was enacted.

While Congressional Republicans waited 40 years for another opportunity to govern our country, the state Republicans have never controlled both houses of our state legislature at the same time. As a result of one party rule for more than 150 years in North Carolina, the Democrats have literally had to answer to no one.

Republicans nationally were fair game in the 2006 Congressional elections for abandoning fiscal responsibility; North Carolina Democrats are all the more so this November. We’re the highest taxed state in the southeast yet our roads and infrastructure continue to deteriorate. We were once referred to as this nation’s “good roads state.”

Education Week magazine recently reported that our high school graduation rate is well below the national average. It also confirmed that North Carolina has the 12th highest rate of high school dropouts in the nation. Yet Democrats refuse to offer its citizens much of a choice in education, including their limiting the number of charter schools and refusing to even consider vouchers. Instead they continue to cave in to National Education Association and North Carolina Education Association lobbyists, referred to by many as a partisan extension of the national and state Democratic executive committees.

North Carolina has the eighth largest illegal alien population in the country with more than 500,000 illegals living here today. In fact national reports estimate we have the fastest growing illegal alien population of anywhere in the nation. This can only continue to negatively impact our schools, health care, government services and economy.

The North Carolina GOP should promote a contract with the citizens of our state that would guarantee real change should Republicans win both houses of the legislature and capture a majority of the seats on the Council of State which includes, the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, State Auditor, Attorney General, Commissioner of Labor, Commissioner of Agriculture, Secretary of State, Commissioner of Insurance and the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

If our state legislature were a corporation, the stockholders would have fired many of its executives long ago for mismanagement, embezzlement, a lack of vision for the future and for delivering few dividends. Show them all the door – enough is enough.

If North Carolina Republicans are fortunate enough to gain control of our state government I have some legislative suggestions for them to consider within their first 30 days of convening in 2009:

1) Impose term limits for House speaker and President pro-tem of the Senate to no more than one two-year term. Our state government has become stale and inefficient. We need a new vision and we need new visionaries.

2) Establish Health Care freedom legislation enabling citizens to purchase insurance from outside the state, which is currently not allowed. Limit benefit mandates. The result-more competitive insurance rates.

3) Eliminate the current cap North Carolina has on charter schools. Parents need to be given school choice while we continue to find new ways to improve public schools. No child should be collateral damage in a school that is failing.

4) Protect individual property rights by enacting legislation to limit involuntary annexation.

5) Mandate that any new debt issue be subject to voter approval. The Democratically controlled North Carolina legislature increased the state’s debt $694 million last year while recommending we add another $672 million to this year’s budget. With Tar Heels struggling to maintain fiscal discipline at home, we should expect no less from our state legislature.

6) Stop the annual transfer from the Highway Trust Fund to the general fund to be spent elsewhere on other projects instead of being spent where it was intended- for highway construction and maintenance. Submit a road bond referendum to voters for additional infrastructure needs.

7) Pledge, and then deliver, no tax increases.

8) Increase jobs by improving North Carolina’s business climate. The non-partisan Tax Foundation states we have the 27th highest corporate tax in the country and our overall business climate is ranked the 11th worst. Cut corporate taxes.

9) Crack down on our exploding illegal alien population by enacting legislation similar to that of Georgia which among other things requires verification that adults who seek state administered benefits are in the U. S. legally; penalizes employers who knowingly employ illegal aliens and requires police to check the status of people they arrest.

10) Eliminate gerrymandering and redraw a bi-partisan district map that insures fair and equal elections leading to true representation.

11) Encourage the federal government to lift the ban on offshore drilling for oil in North Carolina as a pathway to lessen our dependency on foreign oil.

12) Establish a 72-hour cooling off period before a vote is taken on any state budget.

Alcoholics Anonymous has a 12-step program for recovery from alcoholism that has improved the lives of millions of folks suffering from alcohol dependency throughout the world.

If the state GOP adopts a 12-step program similar to this one it should cure not only our Democrat controlled legislature’s addiction to spending and corruption once and for all but be a catharsis for many of us who up until now have contributed to this tragedy by our apathy, ignorance and indifference to what’s been going on in Raleigh for too long.

Bob has provided some good ideas about what could be done to improve our state, but it presumes that the people of N.C. understand who caused the problem. The latest polls from the Civitas Institute do not give much encouragement. Republicans have not had control of the Legislature but for a couple of election cycles during the last century, and the last time was more than a generation ago. Yet on issue after issue the people of N.C. think that Republicans caused the problem and Democrats are the best chance to fix the problem.

When our fellow citizens blame a party that has not been in power for problems they had no control over, and think that the party which created the problems is the best chance to fix them, (even though their stated intent is opposite what the people claim they want) who can believe we have any chance of improving government. All signs indicate we will get simply more of the same thing we have had. There is little wonder the corruption of Black, Wright and Balance are typical of Democrat Leadership. It seems to be what the people want.

Public opinion right now is totally out of touch with reality. What I would like to see Bob do is explain why the people vote for the same people who caused the problems they are mad about. That to me is simply bizarre.