New lessons from old wars

At the end of a two-day conference about World War I at UNC-Chapel Hill, I asked a leading military historian what approach he would recommend to the United States to deal with the challenge of ISIS.I will tell you about his response in a minute.The World War I conference was one of a series of planned events to commemorate the 100th anniversary of that Great War and to learn what lessons might help us deal with present day challenges.

1 days 5 hours ago | | | Email

We may never know how much our children are learning

The headlines sounded great. 56 percent of our students passed their end of grade tests, compared to just 44 percent last year. A more thorough reading reveals the 11-point gain was a result of educators relaxing the scoring scale, making the tests easier to pass. It left us questioning whether we will ever know how well our students are performing.

2 days 5 hours ago | | | Email

Rush to war

A shadowy terrorist group with Dark Ages savagery and Digital Age media savvy beheads two journalists and posts a video. So – 13 years to the day after 9/11 – we’re off to war!Talking TV heads spin us into a frenzy. Democratic and Republican politicians race to the cameras to out-hawk each other. John McCain and Lindsay Graham talk tough. Old Reliable Dick Cheney warns us that we’d better get back to his war that worked so well over the last decade. Rick Per...

3 days 5 hours ago | | | Email

Absentee voting underway for this year’s election

Voting has officially begun in North Carolina for the 2014 general election.At least it has for voters planning to cast their votes using a mail-in absentee ballot. Those wishing to vote in person will have to either wait until early voting starts on Oct. 23 or until Election Day on Nov. 4.For those wishing to vote by mail though, you can now request an absentee ballot from your county board of elections. And for those who have voted mail-in absentee in the past, it̵...

4 days 5 hours ago | | | Email

Consensus requires solid data

North Carolina’s public schools have just released end-of-grade and end-of-course test scores for the 2013-14 school year. You may have heard something about them, particularly from districts eager to claim a large increase in the share of students who test at or above grade level.It’s a good example of why you shouldn’t believe everything you hear.

5 days 5 hours ago | | | Email

Pathetic reactions to startling injustice

The release from prison this week of Henry McCollum and Leon Brown, two Robeson County half-brothers wrongly incarcerated for 30 years for a rape and murder they did not commit, has made national and international news and reignited the debate over the tragically flawed capital punishment system in North Carolina.It has also prompted curious reactions from top state officials.McCollum spent his 30 years behind bars on death row, awaiting his execution for the rape and mu...

6 days 5 hours ago | | | Email

‘Most moderate’ and ‘Kay’: Do words make a difference?

First of all a warning: I am a Democrat. You cannot trust a partisan commentator to give an objective report on a political contest like a debate between candidates for the United States Senate.Now that you’ve been warned, here are two observations about last week’s first debate between current Senator Kay Hagan and her challenger, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis.1. Who is the “most moderate”?

7 days 5 hours ago | | | Email

Gerrymandering: The next ice bucket challenge?

Whoever came up with the ALS Ice Bucket challenge deserves to be enshrined in the Marketing Hall of Fame. It accomplished the dual purpose of focusing attention on Lou Gehrig’s disease while also raising millions of dollars for finding a cure. It caused us to ponder how we might employ a similar strategy in this year’s elections.

9 days 5 hours ago | | | Email

A Boone-Doggle: Boone cries wolf since 2004

The Town of Boone has been inciting fear of running out of water and flushing money down the toilet.Boone claimed they exceeded 80 percent of the capacity of their water supply requiring immediate planning for another water supply. They also claimed they were going to exceed 90 percent of capacity by 2010, requiring construction of a new intake to prevent a state moratorium on new water hookups.​It’s 2014 and North Carolina has not issued any moratorium on wa...

10 days 5 hours ago | | | Email

Berger’s illogical bluster on Medicaid

The folks in control of state government in North Carolina are having an increasingly difficult time justifying maybe the most ill-advised decision they have made in the last two years, the refusal to expand Medicaid and provide health care coverage for more than 400,000 uninsured adults in the state while creating tens of thousands of jobs in the health care industry.What was already a clear and convincing case for the foolhardiness of that decision was made even stronger a few we...

11 days 5 hours ago | | | Email

Consensus growing in support of redistricting reform

In today’s polarized political climate, it can often feel like the two sides don’t agree on anything.And if you watch too much cable news you might get the impression that not only do they disagree, but they also spend most of their time yelling at each other trying to get a point across.Refreshingly, in North Carolina signs continue to point to real bipartisan support for a new way to draw congressional and legislative maps that takes party politics out of t...

11 days 5 hours ago | | | Email

Another death knell for the death penalty

The practical reasons for ending America’s status as one of the “killingest” countries on the planet when it comes to executing its citizens (along with Iran, Iraq, China and a few other paragons of human rights) are so obvious and numerous that it seems almost silly and repetitive to list them yet again. It’s kind of like making the case against drunk driving or the international sex trade.

12 days 5 hours ago | | | Email

UNC System makes progress

When Republicans won their legislative majorities in 2010 and expanded them in 2012, they ran on a platform of fiscal conservatism and reform. They’ve largely delivered on it. Tax and regulatory burdens are lower. State spending growth has been restrained. Lawmakers have implemented major changes in transportation funding and education policy.Many liberals have responded to political changes in Raleigh with scorn, derision, or opposition. Among the most vociferous critics hav...

13 days 5 hours ago | | | Email

Raleigh’s revolving door

That swooshing sound you hear in Raleigh these days is the revolving door between government and private industry spinning away, as legislators and top administration officials are cashing in, taking their taxpayer-funded experience and insider knowledge and using it on behalf of private corporations to influence the government in which they used to serve.When Senator Thom Goolsby resigned a few weeks ago with four months left in his two year legislative term, he said his family ne...

16 days 5 hours ago | | | Email

With legislative session done, voters now have final say

The N.C. General Assembly finally adjourned for the year on Aug. 20. It was a session that ran much longer than anticipated and probably featured more intraparty squabbling among Republicans than most observers would have guessed. In the end though, lawmakers left Raleigh after tackling several high-profile items.One of the biggest issues on their agenda heading into this so-called “short session” was increasing teacher pay in North Carolina. There were competing plans ...

17 days 5 hours ago | | | Email


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