Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Why? Because that's what mayors DO

I refrained from posting last night, because I was so angry.  Oh, I wanted to post.  While I was sitting in that crowded theater listing to the final Republican gubernatorial debate in Asheboro, I was planning what I would say.  I was going to do a voice post from my cell phone on the way home, but I was simply too fired up to say anything even reasonably polite.  I wasn't much better off by the time I got home, so I thought, "I'll do it tomorrow, when I'm calmer."

So much for all that.

What's got me so hot?  As I mentioned, last night was the final Republican gubernatorial debate, and it was held in Asheboro, NC.  All of the candidates were there -- even Elbie Powers, the Ron Paul character that speaks his mind and usually has 1% or less of the vote -- with the exception of Pat McCrory.  Now, common sense should tell you that with a race as close as this one, McCrory would not CHOOSE to miss the last debate, especially with his opponents attacking him every chance they get.  No, you see, Pat McCrory has a JOB.  He is mayor of Charlotte, and he has city council meetings to attend.  Early on in this race, McCrory made it known that he would not be missing city council meetings, because when he does, the Democrats control the meetings.  He stood by that promise last night.

Oh, did I mention that there are other gubernatorial candidates that also have jobs they should be doing?  Namely Fred Smith, who has been an absentee senator in the NC legislature for the past two years, missing OVER 300 VOTES IN 2007 ALONE.  And just in case you're not familiar with the NC legislature, it's got a Democratic majority, and every Republican vote counts when you have a Democratic majority.
Gosh, do I even need to finish writing this post to let you know WHY I'm so angry about last night?
As you can probably guess, two of the candidates took this opportunity to make it seem like McCrory doesn’t care about the people of North Carolina. It all began when Jack took the stage to speak on behalf of Mayor McCrory and explain why he couldn’t make it. There Fred Smith sat in front of the crowd, leaning back in his chair with his arms crossed, sneering and shaking his head. Oh what am I saying, I’m not being fair here – he’s always sneering. But he did made a show out of showing his disgust in a very tasteless manner.
The debate opened with an actual question, but rather than answer it right off the bat, Fred Smith took the opportunity to address the crowd and scold Mayor McCrory for not attending. I have the spectacle on tape, and I’ll be uploading it tomorrow so you can all see what it looks like when the pot calls the kettle black.
In all honesty, I don’t entirely remember what Smith said because it was completely dwarfed by Bob Orr’s comment. When it came time to answer the question, Orr again chose not to address the issue and instead told the crowd that McCrory “needs to decide whether he wants to be a mayor or run for governor.”
So let me get this straight – for starters, you absolutely have to be independently wealthy to run for governor. That’s what I’m going to take from that comment, because Orr obviously wants his gubernatorial candidates to be jobless.
And if you DO have a job when you run for governor, you’re supposed to completely shun it? Doesn’t that just speak VOLUMES about your work ethic? How do the citizens of North Carolina know you’re not going to decide it’s time to run for president in a few years and just leave your position empty in the governor’s mansion? Justice Orr, it’s good to know that if you are our next governor, you’ll be entirely committed to your position UNLESS something better comes along. Fred Smith has already shown his great work ethic through his senate attendance.
So yes, let’s please criticize McCrory for deciding to stick with his commitments, because after all, we don’t want a governor that’s going to stick to his word, and we CERTAINLY don’t want a governor that thinks he’s supposed to do his job.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

I need to get this off my chest...

My father is voting for Hillary on May 6th.

My mother is voting for Obama.

Me? I'm just glad they'll be canceling each other out. I'll be voting for Ron Paul, thank you very much.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What North Carolina's education system REALLY needs...

I plan on getting a little sleep tonight, so I can't do too much blogging, but I did have some points to address.

Did anyone catch the Democratic gubernatorial debate last night?  Holy jeez.  I mean, aside from completely disagreeing with every point she made, Bev Perdue's voice makes me want to stab myself to death with a rusty fork.

I did find it amusing to see how they contrast with the Republican candidates.  Pat McCrory's answer to education has been a greater emphasis on vocational training and 2-year community colleges (he always stresses that we should put the "tech" back into technical colleges).  Moore and Perdue think the answer is to give every person in NC a free 4-year college degree.

Yeah.  THAT will help the dropout rate.

Anyway, this weekend at the Civitas Leadership Conference, the GOP gubernatorial candidates debated how to fix NC's ailing education system.  Here is Pat McCrory telling the audience what he thinks the education system really needs:

And later, McCrory responds to the Democrats' ideas of how to fix NC's education system.  I really think this was one of the best speeches of the night:

Let's face it.  He just rocks.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Beware of RINOs?

Well, here it comes. We’re two weeks away from the primaries, so the name-calling has to come out in full force.

I had a lot to do today, so I wasn’t able to follow the blogs as closely as I would have liked, but every single one that I visited had to have at least one comment about Pat McCrory being a RINO.

Seriously? We’re still using that stupid little jab? That is SO 4 years ago.

Let’s take a minute to define that word. I’m particularly interested in what it means to be a RINO because, well, let’s face it, I’ve been called one on SEVERAL occasions, and I don’t think it’s because I have gray, scaly skin and a huge horn on my nose.

To the Rush Limbaughs of the world, the worst thing you can call someone is a RINO. A “Republican in Name Only”. So vague, and yet so demeaning. Such a great comeback when you have absolutely nothing else to say to prove your point. But really, what does it MEAN to be a RINO?

Judging from my experience, a RINO is someone within the Republican Party who actually has their own mind. Rather than have the party elites tell them what to think, they tend to do it themselves, much to the chagrin of the elites.

You see, the party elites would much prefer to have a bunch of brain-washed zombies wandering around blindly spewing their beliefs. These are the people that tell us we should want smaller government, but that the federal government should be able to listen to our phone conversations and play God with the national economy. They’re much better off with a bunch of people who don’t ask questions.

Like I said only a week or two ago: I don’t always agree politically with McCain, but I like him because he doesn’t let the Republican Party push him around (or at least, he didn’t use to let them push him around…).

So basically, a RINO may be defined by any number of things. You think we should lower spending before lowering taxes? You might be a RINO. You recognize and respect that there is more than one religion in America? Probably a RINO. Anytime you’re a Republican that dares to think outside of the GOP box, you’re definitely a RINO.

I can’t tell you why people think Pat McCrory is a RINO. It kind of works like a witch hunt, or the “Red Scare”. All it takes is a couple people to call him a RINO, and everyone else follows suit, for fear of being called one themselves.

I've been called a RINO for several years now, and I've never once shed a tear over it. To me, it means I don't let the party completely shape my beliefs. I agree with a great deal of the Republican Party platform, which is why I associate myself with them, but I don't agree 100% with anyone, let alone the entire party. If having the ability to think for myself makes me a RINO, then guilty as charged. The same goes for my voting -- I vote for the person, not the party. I have never once voted straight ticket anything.

So basically, I have two questions for you:

1) Do you consider Pat McCrory a RINO and why?

and if so

2) Why do you think referring to someone as a "RINO" is such a horrible thing? Do we really want a candidate that doesn't have the ability to think for himself/herself?

Monday, April 21, 2008

When in doubt, lie lie lie

Okay,rhat WRAL debate was RIDICULOUS.

You can catch it here if you haven't seen it yet.

I'm really REALLY glad I didn't watch this debate before going to the one in Greensboro this past Friday night, or before dealing with those angry Fred Smith fans on Saturday (more details to come in another post very soon).  I'm seriously very angry about what I saw in that WRAL debate.

You expect to see the candidates attacking each other on their positions, especially this late in the race -- what you don't expect, however, is to have one candidate OPENLY LYING about something that happened less than a week earlier.

Let me elaborate: about 20 minutes into the debate, during a discussing on taxes, Fred Smith accuses Pat McCrory of stating that he was "happy to raise taxes" on the people of Charlotte.  Immediately, the moderator asks for clarification, and Smith again tells him that during the last debate they had in Greensboro on Saturday night, McCrory had stated he was happy to raise taxes on "his" people.

Whoa whoa whoa whoa, what?  Greensboro debate?  Saturday night?  I was THERE.  I was AT that debate, and I transcribed the ENTIRE event.  I sure as hell don't remember hearing that.

In the WRAL debate, McCrory laughs that he must have missed that part of the debate, and asks Orr and Graham for backup.  Orr just holds up his hands as a sign to keep him out of it (like Orr would have been on his side anyway.... Orr's an ass, in case you weren't already aware), and Graham tells the moderator that he certainly did not recall the exchange.  Smith again states that in a discussion about the arena in Charlotte, McCrory stated he was "happy to raise that tax" to build the arena.

So much calmer than I would ever be when someone sitting 2 feet away from me was telling lies about me to the entire state, McCrory responded "It's just sad this is the way the state government politicians are acting.  We didn't raise the tax to build the arena, so there's no way I did say that."

I pulled out my little notebook from that very debate which they were discussing, and confirmed that my initial suspicions were correct -- there was never any mention of the arena, let alone McCrory being "happy" to raise taxes.

I can't believe the gall of this man.  I know that he's trying to appeal to the Religious Right by way of his portrayal of himself as "THE social conservative", but this sure isn't how I was taught that Christians are supposed to act.  Earlier today, a woman told me on her blog that she had to "vote her conscience" in the primary (she was endorsing Smith, and she couldn't quite explain to me why it was that she was so opposed to McCrory), but I'm not sure how anyone's conscience could be telling them to vote for this guy.

It's seriously disturbing.  Are there any limits to this guy's deceit?  What other kinds of stunts does he have up his sleeve that he's waiting to pull out before the primary? 

It's going to be a long two weeks.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My weekend with Pat McCrory

A political nerd like myself couldn't have asked for a better weekend.

This weekend was the NC Young Republican convention, and lucky for me, it was held right here in Greensboro.  That's right... two days of politics, politics, and MORE politics with people who more or less share my beliefs.

Friday was mostly going to be a meet and greet social event for convention attendees.  I was planning on going over after work and spending most of the evening driinking and conversing with other Repubs -- until I got a text message sometime around 2 PM.  A friend of mine (who happens to work for the McCrory campaign) had texted me to let me know that Pat McCrory was going to downtown to speak at the NC College Republican convention dinner later that night, and he wanted to know if I wanted to meet him.

Seriously?  I was probably a little more excited than your average person would have been to get such an offer.

Okay.  A LOT more excited.

Five hours later, I met Mayor McCrory at the downtown Marriott.  Now, I've met a lot of politicians in my day, and regardless of how much I admire/support them, they all seem to share a common falseness about them.  Maybe it's my own cynicism (what, me a cynic?  Noooo...), but I dare say 95% of all politicians appear to be in a constant "campaigning mode" at all times.  It's not necessarily a terrible thing, just something I've come to expect.  So imagine my shock and amazement when Pat McCrory, the mayor of the largest city in North Carolina and very possibly our next governor, did NOT have that trait.

My friend introduced me to Mayor McCrory, and instead of going into some spiel about why he's running, he actually acted like a normal human being.  It did catch me a little off-guard, I'll admit, but it was... oh my God, so REFRESHING.  He's such a genuinely nice person, I don't think it's possible to talk to this guy and not like him (unless you're running against him, but we'll get to that bitterness later).

His speech during dinner was flawless.  He focused on the fact that the Democrats in Raleigh have gotten so used to be in charge that they've let the power go to their heads (he referred to them as "Machiavellian", which I found awesome along with being completely true).  They're so busy trying to get more and more power for themselves that they've completely forgotten the people who got them where they are.  As Mayor McCrory said, "The moment that you start believing it's all about you is the moment you forget that it's really all about public service."

Because he was speaking to a room filled with College Republicans, McCrory likened the point to college politics.  He urged them to expand their political horizons by hanging out with people who may share different political beliefs.  If we only associate with people we agree with, he pointed out, we'll never learn the other side of our arguments.

Does anyone really need to question why I love this man?

McCrory then went on to tell everyone about his three major issues: Crime (with a particular emphasis on illegal immigrants), transportation, and education.  I particularly loved the comment he made about education in NC.  He pointed out that money was not well-distributed within the university system, and that we should start rewarding universities that have majors which are more likely to get jobs for graduates (you have to admit, that's a gutsy thing to say in a room which is probably full of liberal arts majors -- and that's coming from a political science graduate!).  But he did make a great point: if the taxpayers are expected to help pay for higher education, then they should expect their money to go towards an education that is needed within the community and that will assist graduates in finding a career later on.  He reminded us that this plan is "fair for both the taxpayer and the student."

He closed his speech by reminding everyone that we need to get the Democrats out of Raleigh, and that he was the most electable candidate.

Overall, it was a great speech, and the audience seemed to think so as well (with the exception of a couple of anti-McCrory UNCG students who were sitting next to me -- they wisely chose to not tell me who their gubernatorial choice is, which is a good thing because I have no doubt that I know more about the candidates than they do... they just aren't interested in McCrory because he didn't spent 10 minutes talking about the evils of homosexuality in NC).

Saturday was fun, aside from having to actually wake up on a Saturday.  There were classes on campaigning tips, a luncheon with speeches from multiple NC GOP candidates, and several different groups and candidates with stations in the lobby.  It was there that I learned to never, ever let a table full of Ron Paul fanatics being headed up by an old man in a white suit and brown crocodile shoes that you supported Ron Paul.  I'll really never get rid of all this literature.  I also discovered another candidate that I really like, BJ Lawson, who's running in the 4th district.  Lawson seems to me another Paul-esque candidate, meaning he focuses on sticking to the Constitution (imagine that!) and attracts many Libertarian followers.  Lawson's campaign manager and I had a great talk about whether or not libertarian-minded Republicans should stay in the party and attempt to change it from the inside, or completely branch off into a 3rd party.  I informed him that I refer to myself as a Republitarian, to which he responded, "I love you".  He then apologized to Matt, who is just getting used to it, as this is the second time in about two months this has happened.

The big event of the convention was Saturday night: the Republican gubernatorial debate.  Howard Coble officiated the event, and he opened by reminding us that we actually have a chance to elect a Republican governor this year.  One of the main reasons for this, he supposed, is that "we're not having food fights like the Democrats -- and we will benefit from their squabling."

Each of the four candidates was given the opportunity to deliver a 2 minute answer to each of the 5 questions asked.  Luckily for McCrory, the first four questions focuses on four of his best issues -- illegal immigration and crime, transportation, education, and fiscal conservatism.

McCrory was the first to answer the first question, which asked what policies he would use as governor to fight crime and illegal immigration.  He responded by citing his experience as mayor of the largest city in NC, where not long ago the police had a shootout with an El Salvadorian gang ("Luckily, they missed and we didn't," he states).  He also stated that he planning to demand of the new president that an illegal immigration detention center be built in NC.  The closest center to us right now is in Atlanta, and our inability to easily transport illegals there is putting a strain on our jails, which also puts a strain on our police.  McCrory also wants to completely do away with our willingness to hand out licenses to illegals in NC, as well as work on gang legislation that would implement longer sentences for criminals found to be involved in gangs.

Because McCrory spoke first, the other three candidates spent most of their time criticizing his answer.  Bob Orr and Fred Smith jumped on the fact that McCrory wanted to pass more legislation, when the real problem was that the current laws weren't being enforced.  None of them  really gave any solution as to HOW they would insure those laws were enforced if they became governor.  The only exception was Bill Graham who argued that gang legislation DOES help, and that building more jails would hep solve the problem of "revolving door" sentences in NC (a point that I've heard McCrory address in previous debates.)

The next question asked the candidates what they would do about NC's transportation problems.  All four candidates agreed that there needed to be a major overhaul in the leadership of the DOT -- but only McCrory wanted to outline a 50 year transportation plan.  Not only that, but he wants to focus building where the cars and motor vehicle accidents are -- not "where the powerful politicians are" -- and he thinks that only after the plan has been laid out should the citizens of NC vote on it.

Next, the candidates were asked to explain how they would fix the education system in NC.  Both Smith and Graham listed generic and vague ways that the system could be amended by taking the "disruptions" out of classrooms and using "local innovations" to make learning more efficient.  McCrory pointed out that going back to the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic, rather than strictly preparing our kids for one-size-fits-all testing, would benefit everyone in the long run.  He then urged that we put the "tech" back into technical and vocational schools, as technical jobs are in such high demand.  He reminded everyone that "not every student needs nor wants a four year degree" so we shouldn't be treating them all as if they're on a college-bound track.

It's at this time that Graham requested a rebuttal, although I'm not sure what he was rebutting.  In fact, he didn't seem to be in disagreement with McCrory's stance at all, so we have to assume that he only wanted an extra minute to finish a thought that he hadn't gotten to earlier.  Later, a fellow McCrory supporter suggested to me that Graham had chosen that moment to rebut because McCrory had aced the education question, and he was trying to save face.

The fourth question was a two-parter: Are you a fiscal conservative, and what area needs new vision in NC?  Of course, all four candidates answered that they were fiscally conservative, except for Fred Smith who apparently couldn't get a handle on the word "fiscal" and kept claiming to be "physically" conservative.  It wouldn't have even been so noticeable if it weren't for the fact that he kept saying it over and over again.  When it came time for McCrory to answer, he stated, "Well, where I come from, they don't tell me I'm fiscally conservative so much as they tell me I'm cheap."  He then went on to push the fact that he was the only candidate on stage who had the opportunity to use a veto, and he had used it several times against the Democrats in Charlotte.  He promised that he wouldn't hesitate to use it against the Democrats in Raleigh in order to keep our taxes down, and to limit waste.

The last question, in keeping with the theme of our convention ("Reclaiming the Reagan Legacy") was "As governor, how will you carry on the Reagan Legacy?"  At this point, I was tired of jotting down notes as fast as I could, so I decided to get some video of Pat McCrory's answer (sorry it's so dark, the lighting was horrible in there, but all you really need to do is listen):

And of course, following the final question, each candidate was given the opportunity to give a closing statement.  Here is McCrory's, in which he discusses the corruption that is taking place in Raleigh under the Democrats in power:

You can't tell me that man's not a great speaker.

All in all, a great weekend.  I'm going to be posting some more pictures from it on Facebook the next time I great a free chance.  Until then, this picture of myself with the next governor of NC will just have to tide you over:

Yes, I was WAY too excited about that.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Pat McCrory and illegal immigration

Perdue and McCrory in Greensboro  from YES! Weekly:

McCrory is an interesting kind of centrist candidate. His rhetoric on immigration appeals to a certain conservative and nativist sentiment that runs strong in this state, but his advocacy of mass transit makes him more progressive than many prominent Democrats in the state. And with Charlotte’s new light-rail system, he has a record to match.

“I think the more choices you have, the better,” McCrory told the audience at Embassy Suites. “You put bike paths and pedestrian paths where you think they might be needed, not just today, but for the future.”

In discussing gangs, he made a connection between illegal immigration and criminality, and demonstrated a cognizance of recent events in the Triad.

“We have a serious gang problem right here in Greensboro,” he said. “You also have international gangs. In Charlotte we had a shootout with an El Salvadoran gang, all illegal immigrants. Let me repeat, all illegal immigrants. And thank God, they missed and our police didn’t.”

Later I asked McCrory if he agreed with the five leading candidates — Democrats Perdue and Moore; and Republicans Fred Smith, Bill Graham and Bob Orr — that undocumented immigrants should not be allowed to attend North Carolina community colleges.

He clearly is: “I am opposed to it. They’re illegal.”

I took the question a step further and asked if he also would be in favor of denying undocumented immigrants access to emergency rooms, and the mayor drew a distinction.

“I believe in helping people for their health and safety,” he said. “I would not deny anybody help for their health and safety.”

My response to the article:

"McCrory is an interesting kind of centrist candidate. His rhetoric on immigration appeals to a certain conservative and nativist sentiment that runs strong in this state[...]"

I think your wording here attempts to denigrate McCrory's stance on immigration. While it is true that some conservatives' immigration views stem mostly from blind xenophobia, the same can not be said for McCrory.

As mayor of a large southern city for the past 12 years, McCrory knows firsthand how dangerous illegal immigrants can be. We here in the Greensboro and Winston-Salem areas would do well to remember that we are having an increasing problem with gangs whose membership consists soley of illegals. Violent crimes against honest, hard-working Americans are disgusting enough when committed by their follow citizens. When these same crimes are committed by people who shouldn't even be here, the blame shifts partly to a government who has no desire to enforce their own laws.

I am aware that most illegal immigrants are NOT gang members and are only interested in making a better life for their families. I have no problem with people from other countries wanting to move to America for better opportunities; that is why we have a LEGAL path to citizenship. By crossing the border and living here illegally, these people have already shown that they are capable of breaking our laws, and for some of them, more violent crimes are an easy progression.

One of McCrory's biggest concerns is North Carolina's crime rate, and I dare say he's had more first-hand experience with that than any of the other GOP candidates. McCrory's immigration stance is firmly connected to his fight against crime, not simple conservative "rhetoric".

Saturday, April 5, 2008

And with a month to go...

(Yeah, that's right.  I'm spending my Saturday afternoon reading polls.)

Pat McCrory Ups Lead to Double Digits!!!

Check out the crosstabs on page 4.  McCrory leads Fred Smith 35% to 23% in REPUBLICAN voters alone.  Why is that so great?  Because NC Republicans can't count on the unaffiliated voters like we could in past years. 

For those of you unfamiliar with the NC voting system, if you're an unaffiliated voter in this state, you have to chose whether you want to vote in the Democratic primary or the Republican primary.  Any other election year, this gubernatorial race would pull a lot of unaffiliated voters to the Republican primary, especially those around the Charlotte area (where McCrory is currently serving his record mayoral 7th term).

However, thanks to the current never-ending power struggle that is the Democratic presidential nomination, North Carolinians have (mistakenly) convinced themselves that their vote is needed there.  You see, our primary happens so late in the year that there's already clear winners by the time anyone even reaches us, so people around here are pretty sure that *we* are going to be the state that decides it all.

Yeah.  Just like every single other state before was going to be "the state that decides it all".  Obama's going to win NC -- truth is, NC didn't like the first Clinton, and most of it was probably thanks to Hillary (the 2nd most unpopular thing about Bill's presidency after Monicagate).  Aside from that, it's kinda annoying to me how many North Carolinians are getting star-struck about this primary.  Guess what people -- they never cared about you before, and after the primaries, they're going to forget all about you.  NC is a Republican state, and chances are it's going to stay that way in 2008.

I'm not an unaffiliated voter, but if I were, I'd focus more on the gubernatorial race.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again -- McCrory is the only electable Republican when you pair him against Purdue (or Richard Moore, as it seems many North Carolinians are coming to their senses about Purdue).  I know that  thinks both Smith and Graham "have the ability to win this thing by signing a check", but I think the people of NC are smarter than that.  If McCrory's only downfall is that Smith has more money than he has good sense, then I think it's time for me to get out of politics altogether.  It's a shame Ross Perot didn't use that check-signing power to win in 1992.

I think I just dated myself.  Or maybe outed myself as the only 8-year-old that kept up with politics.

Enough politics for today.  UNC's playing tonight, and I have to go support them (even if it WILL destroy my bracket).