McCrory and leadership

I had a really fun conversation with a reporter earlier this week (no article out yet) about Pat McCrory that really got me thinking about his governorship in many ways.  I admitted to being honestly surprised at his many needless mistakes, as during campaign time he struck me as a very savvy politician.  The kind who didn’t regularly shoot himself in the foot by saying stupid things– especially things that are obviously illogical or obviously untrue.  And, I did not have a strong position on his “leadership” but I don’t think any half-honest observer would even try to argue that McCrory has been a strong leader as governor.  In fact, Gary Pearce and the Greensoboro News & Record have fairly compelling indictments of McCrory’s leadership today.  Pearce:

Every day I say: Today I won’t pick on Governor McCrory. Then he does something so boneheaded I can’t resist.
Like his parting shots at the legislature. He looked like the 98-pound weakling sticking out his tongue long after the bully who kicked sand in his face walked down the beach.
The legislature made quick work this week of his two vetoes. Then the Governor said that, notwithstanding his oath of office, he wouldn’t carry out one law and would work around the other. And he came up with a “solution” to the teachers masters’ degree debacle that even his own Board of Education chairman said won’t work and that his communications director and education adviser couldn’t explain
Senate leaders shot back. “It seems a little instrument called the state constitution is being ignored,” said Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said, “All governors, without regard to party, swear an oath to uphold the constitution. We expect Gov. McCrory to perform his constitutional duty to enforce the law.”
When McCrory called the drug-testing bill an “unfunded mandate,” Apodaca had this memorable line: “Well, I guess you could cut a few salaries and find the money to put into this program.”
Point, set and match, Apodaca…
Here’s some free advice to the Governor: You could have spoken out during the session on the bills you complain about now. You could have put money for teachers with masters’ degree in your budget. You could have vetoed the budget if it was so bad.
You could have been a leader and not a 98-pound weakling who gets bullied.

The problem is that the legislature passes the budget. McCrory’s statement strongly criticized legislators for inserting last-minute education policy changes into that budget — but he signed it into law six weeks ago without a word of complaint.

What’s happened? As McCrory signed one controversial bill after another, his approval ratings fell. He hitched himself to an unpopular legislature — or was pushed around by it. Wednesday, he tried to create some distance.

He should have done so sooner and with more consequential legislation, such as voting changes or education funding. He should have commanded more respect among legislators of both parties and headed off bad proposals before a veto was necessary.

Maybe Wednesday marked a turnaround for McCrory but, so far, this first-year governor is almost impossible to figure out.

Yep.  That’s what the reporter and I struggled with.  What exactly is McCrory thinking?  Whatever political strategy is involved here is sure not a good one.  Though, it seems less strategy, and more just flailing around.  I read one defense of McCrory that suggested he agreed with almost everything that passed.  But does anybody really think that would have been the case if his own preference did not happen to coincide with those of the legislative leaders?  McCrory’s got three years to get his act together before he’s up for reelection, but he clearly has a lot of getting together he needs to do.

You go, John McCain

Yes, he’s too bellicose on Syria, but I really love the re-emergence of the old John McCain who is simply a strong advocate for whatever he (somewhat idiosyncratically) thinks is best, rather than a loyal soldier to the Republican Party, as he played at for several years there.  Love, love, this exchange on Fox News (via Wonkblog);

And how pathetic that Fox News hosts are dumb enough to think we should not aid any people who use the phrase “Allah Akbar”?  Well, so much for aiding any Muslims at all.

Where schools succeed

I can’t wait to read Amanda Ripley’s new book on the schools in Finland, South Korea, and Poland as compared to the US.  Nice review in the NYT.  Also really enjoyed this Diane Rehm interview last month.

Photo of the day

From the National Geographic tumblr.  Wow.

Charles Lindbergh pays a visit to crowds in Surrey, England in his monoplane dubbed the ‘Spirit of St. Louis,’ June 1927.Photograph by Corbis

Charles Lindbergh pays a visit to crowds in Surrey, England in his monoplane dubbed the ‘Spirit of St. Louis,’ June 1927.PHOTOGRAPH BY CORBIS

Your microbiome and your health

Given my love for the topic of your microbiome–the ecosystem that is you and your (mostly beneficial) bacteria– I’ve taken far too long to write about this topic.  Fascinating new research out of Denmark basically finds that the greater diversity of bacteria in your gut, the healthier you are likely to be:

Scientists have discovered new clues about how microbes in our digestive systems may affect health.

European researchers found that the less diverse those microbes are, the more likely people are to gain weight, become obese and develop risk factors for serious health problems…

Perhaps even more surprising and important: People who had less microbial diversity — whatever their weight — were more likely to have a variety of risk factors for Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Those risk factors included insulin resistance and inflammation.

“Even lean people who are poor in bacterial species have a higher risk of developing these pathologies,” Ehrlich says.

All this supports the ideas that eating a poor diet or taking lots of antibiotics may be factors in the obesity epidemic and associated health problems, in part, because of the way they affect our gut microbes, Ehrlich says…

The researchers also identified eight species of bacteria that appeared to be missing among the people whose microbes were depleted, raising the possibility of someday creating a probiotic that could help.

“It’s very possible to make a brew that is the collection of the [richly diverse bacterial] population, put that into a probiotic pill and give that to people who have the poor population and see if the good ones can take over and actually transmit the healthy state,” Evans says.

I don’t make a lot of predictions, but here’s one.   Within 20 years when doctors run labs at your annual exam, those labs will include an analysis of your microbiome.  And if there’s clear deficiencies, they’ll prescribe you the appropriate bacteria.  We’re clearly just at the beginning of understanding all this, but the evidence is ever growing that the bacteria that live within us are a huge factor in our overall health.

And, while I’m at it, last night I got the bacteria-free lab results from my recent physical.  You’ll (hopefully) be pleased to know that I’m in very good, though not optimum health.  My HDL checks in at 50, which is fine, but over 60 is optimal.  Likewise, by 109 LDL is fine, but higher than the <100 which is optimal.  Damn it, all those fruits and vegetables and aerobic exercise– I wanted optimal!  Then again, also lots of pizza and various junk food.

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