Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Republicans On Pamlico County Board Of Elections Abolish Three Voting Precincts

Yesterday at the monthly meeting of Pamlico County's Board of Elections, the two Republican members of the Board voted to abolish three voting precincts in Pamlico County: Alliance, Mesic and Stonewall. The only Democratic member of the Board voted against the measure. Since the vote was not unanimous, the resolution does not go into effect until the State Board of Elections, also with a Republican majority, approves it.

Members of the public opposed to closing the three precincts filled the room for the meeting and spoke against it, as was the case at the last previous Board meeting. At the previous meeting, then Republican Board member Gene Lupton, made a motion to table the proposal, which was adopted, against the wishes of the Board Chair. Since that meeting, the Republican party appointed a new member to the board, Russ Richards. At yesterday's meeting, Russ Richards voted with the Chair.

Jennifer Roe, Chair of the Board, explained that the purpose of doing away with the three precincts was to save money when purchasing new voting equipment as mandated by the Republican state legislature, but provided no figures for how much money, if any, would be saved. Democratic Board member Delcine Gibbs, explained that taking this measure now will save no money for this year's municipal elections, and no money for the 2016 statewide elections. In fact, she pointed out, the State Board has not yet certified any new equipment for purchase, and it is unlikely any will be certified before 2017.

This appears to be another Republican solution looking for a problem. In December 2009, long before the legislature mandated any change in voting equipment, newly appointed Republican Board member Judy Smith pressed for reduction in the number of precincts in the County. We don't know where the effort originated, but doing away with precincts, including Pamlico County's only African American precinct, has been on the Republican Party wish list for a long time.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The German Question

It is becoming pretty clear that the most urgent question facing today's Europe is the German question.

Paul Krugman sees Germany as killing the European project:  I agree, and have been commenting on the looming disaster for about three years now. The biggest surprise to me is how patient the long-suffering public has been. I hope Greece uses whatever time they have gained by this weekend's deal to print bales of new drachma and prepare to exit the Euro. Spain and Italy should do so as well.

Roger Cohen of the New York Times  claims we thought we had solved the problem of Germany in 1945. I take issue with that, though I think we did believe we had solved it by embracing Germany within the stifling arms of NATO and the Western European Union. As NATO's first Secretary General explained, the purpose of NATO was to keep the Germans down, the Russians out, and the Americans here. To Europe, NATO was at least as much about Germany as it was about the Soviet Union. From 1945 for more than four decades, NATO publicly blamed the Soviet Union for a divided Germany and privately hoped the division would continue. It was Germany under Willy Brandt whose "Ostpolitik" began chipping away at the barriers between East and West for the purpose of making German reunification possible. In the United States, we studied what might happen after Tito died, but never examined the implications of a reunited Germany. Everyone knew that could never happen. Everyone was wrong.

The late George Kennan had some thoughts on Germany, which we should have considered, but of course no one did:

More recently, the economic historian Brad Delong had some interesting thoughts in response to Simon Wren-Lewis' ruminations on the Euro: "And we are seriously considering, after reading him, whether the Euro project needs to be blown up--indeed, whether the fundamental flaw was in U.S. occupation authorities allowing the formation of the Bundesrepublik, because a European Union that now had five members named "Brandenburg", "Saxony", "Bavaria", "Rhineland", and "Hanover" would be likely to have a much healthier politics and economics than our current one, with one member named "Germany":"

That's a thought worth retrospective consideration. It is a much more creative idea than the quickly-abandoned "Morgenthau plan."

It's very hard to get toothpaste back in the tube.

Did we waste a whole war?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Iran Nuclear Negotiations

I hear a lot of hysterical hyperbole coming out about negotiations with Iran.

I am glad the negotiations are going on. The opponents seem to want war with Iran. Bad idea.

Most of the opponents are right wing neocons, who seem to be afraid of everything and everyone.

I want to share a link to an article by a retired Navy commander and Naval War College professor on the subject. I don't know Commander Dolan, but I think he is pretty close to the mark. There is more that could be said about Munich, but the main point is to analyze the events in the real historical context.

Here is Commander Dolan's article.

Cox v. Town Of Oriental: The Real Story

A lot of nonsense has been promulgated by Oriental Town Government about why I filed suit against the Town over closing of Avenue A and South Avenue.

It was about taking away public rights, but it was very much about defending private property rights.

I call it a swindle. It can also be called theft. Constitutionally, it was a "taking." Takings can be lawful, if taken for a public purpose. But this was neither an exercise of eminent domain nor an exercise of the state's "police power." The only other circumstance in which a street closing is clearly authorized by case law is if all the property owners in a subdivision agree to it.

The Town's attorney Clark Wright knows this. Mayor Bill Sage knows this. But they wanted to do what they did, and they didn't even want to protect public access to the "donated property" by a public dedication, a deed restriction, or any other measure that would protect the public in the future.

It changed the face of the Town forever, and since I have now withdrawn my suit, it can't be undone by the courts, even if it is unlawful.

It isn't really complicated, but the Town Board and its attorneys spent (they say) $80,000 to protect the deal by keeping it from the Court of Appeals.

Here's my story: