Is McCrory (and the NC Chamber) relevant?

Nice NC Policywatch article looking at the dissension between the Republican-led NC legislature’s support for repealing Common Core and the clear opposition of the NC Business community and Governor McCrory:

Governor Pat McCrory has previously upheld North Carolina’s decision to adopt the Common Core State Standards.

Speaking to a group of business-minded folks at a state chamber of commerce meeting last summer, McCrory praised Common Core.

“It’s not the standards that are bad; it’s the execution which must be improved here in North Carolina.”

But as the legislature hovers close to joining a handful of other states that have repealed the academic standards, frequently referred to as “Common Core,” McCrory’s words, communicated through his education advisor, Eric Guckian, have gotten softer…

Now that the House language is the primary bill up for consideration in a conference committee, the [NC] Chamber doesn’t want anything to do with it all.

“In its latest version, this legislation is not only a step backward for our classrooms but it is a step backward for our manufacturing floors to the research labs and garages where the next big ideas are being born,” said a representative of the NC Chamber in a statement…

Whether or not McCrory will veto any legislation that is ultimately passed is still up in the air.

“I won’t commit [McCrory] to any decision on that,” said Guckian. “It’s not a certainty that this will be passed given that we have a short session and we are trying to work together on these issues.”

“I know the business community is watching it very closely,” added Guckian. “It’s a big issue for our state.”

Assuming the legislature sends McCrory a bill repealing Common Core, the big question is what will he do?  Either way, I think it ultimately tells us 1) a lot about McCrory; and 2) who’s really got the upper-hand in NC Republican politics.

Of course, if McCrory were a real leader, he’d already loudly be standing up to the anti-Common Core Tea party non-sense (in the way the NC Chamber has, at least rhetorically), but so far we’ve seen known of that.  Theoretically, a governor should be a leader, but to this point it very much seems that McCrory is simply the ultimate follower– stick that finger up and see which way the GOP wind is blowing.  Secondly, if this repeal is successful, it will be quite clear that it is the Tea Party totally in command of the policy agenda in this state, not the Chamber of Commerce.  Now, I’m not the biggest fan of the Chamber, but they certainly appreciate the importance of education and I’ll take them over the Tea Party any day.  We’ll see, but I suspect I’m not going to like the answers to either of these questions.

Photo of the day

Awesome Wired gallery of 360 degree time-lapse photos from a home-made setup.  Very cool images:

Sometimes he takes stills, like this shot inside the Double Arch in Utah. But he regularly winds up with at least 150 photos from each of his camera that he then stitches together and layers for a time lapse effect. VINCENT BRADY

I’m a Rand Paul Republican

Okay, not really, but when it comes to issues of criminal justice, this guy is right on and the rest of the Republican party is still in their “tough on crime” fantasyland.  I finished my Criminal Justice Policy summer class this week and was thinking about how one of my favorite students was an ardent libertarian.  When it comes to this particular class, the genuine libertarians and I are pretty much always on the same page (definitely not so most other classes I teach).  Anyway, I was thinking about this in light of Emily Bazelon’s piece yesterday about Rand Paul wanting to restore voting rights to ex-felons.  Of course, it seems entirely unjust and illogical to deny voting rights to those who have already served their punishment.  Then again, they are far more likely to be poor and non-white.  Bazelon:

When libertarian Republicans go on about the “tyranny” of the federal government, as Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is prone to do, I tune out. But not today. Paul has been talking for a while about how his conception of tyranny extends to long, draconian prison sentences for mostly poor and black offenders. Now he is introducing a bill that would restore voting rights to nonviolent ex-felons in federal elections. This bill is not about to become law any time soon. But give Paul credit for standing on principle even though he and his party would hardly benefit.

I’m also reminded of a recent Vox piece on Paul and the aforementioned sentencing reform:

Over the weekend, Rand Paul spoke at the Iowa Republican convention — and harshly condemned America’s war on drugs. “It’s a problem to lock people up for 10 and 15 and 20 years for youthful mistakes,” Paul said. He went on to point out that racial minorities are particularly unfairly treated by the system:

IT’S SIGNIFICANT THAT PAUL IS SAYING THIS IN IOWA

PAUL: If you look at the war on drugs, 3 out of 4 people in prison are black or brown. White kids are doing it too, in fact, if you look at all the surveys, white kids do it just as much as black and brown kids. But the prisons are full of black and brown kids because they don’t get a good attorney, they live in poverty, it’s easier to arrest them than to go to the suburbs.

Paul then called for compassion for young drug offenders, and argued that voting rights should be given back to some felons who’ve served their time:

PAUL: Most of us are Christians or Jews or of the Judeo-Christian faith, and it’s like, we believe in redemption. We believe in a second chance. Should a 19-year old kid get a second chance? I think yes. Let’s be the party that has compassion, that doesn’t say the behavior is right, but says, ‘You know what? When you’re done with your time, you get the right to vote back.’ Let’s be the party that is for extending the right to vote back to people who have paid their time, who have reformed their ways.

These aren’t new positions for Paul. But the fact that he made them loud and clear to a convention of Iowa Republicans is significant, because of Iowa’s importance to the presidential nomination process.

There’s no way stands like this win Paul votes among many Republican primary voters.  Kudos to him for standing up for the right thing.  Now, if only the rest of the Republican party was willing to do so.

Are you high right now?

Probably not, I suppose, but the latest study suggests there is far more drug use going on than traditional methods of studying the issue reveal.  The breakthrough methodology?  Analyzing raw sewage for drugs:

The News: Scientists just performed a giant drug test on two American communities — although they didn’t tell anyone.

By sampling the sewage of two communities in New York state, public health officials were able to estimate how many drugs, including cocaine and methamphetamine, people are using across the state.

The results: People in the Albany communities the researchers studied use at least four times as much cocaine and six times more amphetamines as previously estimated, the researchers said…

The scientists didn’t just scrub the waste for the active components of the drugs, such as cocaine, morphine (the active component of heroin) or amphetamines. They also studied the compounds they break into after our bodies process them. After collecting the samples, the researchers tested them using a technique known as electrospray mass spectrometry, a process that basically sifts and organizes the contents by their mass so scientists can identify them…

Although the studies are not large enough to extrapolate to the entire U.S., the process suggests we could soon begin to see actual numbers of drug use across the country. The science could help correct many of the assumptions that currently plague our conceptions of who uses drugs and how often.

Fascinating stuff!  Time to grab the sewage from the US Capitol before it flows out to join the rest of DC?

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