The Worst-Case Scenario had its second three-man mission last night. David Westbrook, David Hilburger, and I traveled to the Durham Transit Station in downtown Durham, NC to cover the debate between Democratic Congressman David Price of NC’s 4th district and his Republican challenger Dr. B.J. Lawson. The debate was hosted by the Independent Weekly, who organized the event carefully and ran it fairly. David Westbrook was able to film the entire debate and upload the video in four segments. I asked a question in the fourth video beginning at 0:50, which neither of the candidates was willing or able to directly, concisely, and completely answer. Over-all, though, the consensus is that the night was a smashing success for BJ, at least among the crowd of overwhelmingly Tea Party and FairTax supporters.
The four videos are embedded below along with the list of questions asked in each video and the time at which the questions are asked.
4:02 Price Opening Statement
6:08 Lawson Opening Statement
8:36 Question 1: “America has for over a decade, spent more per capita on healthcare intervention than any nation in the world yet has miserable comparative health outcomes, longevity, and quality of life scores. What impact will this years healthcare reform legislation have on this fundamental disparity, and what more if anything do we need to do as a nation to address gaps in coverage, availability, and outcomes?”
12:46 Question 2: “If you are elected during your term, America will likely enter its second decade of war in Afghanistan. Do you believe our nation and our current administration is on the right track or on the wrong track relative to the war, and what leadership would you bring as our US representative on this matter?”
Question 2 is continued in part 2.
2:25 Question 3: “As our nation tries to emerge from the deepest economic downturn since the great depression, what should the federal government do through spending incentives, and or tax policies to induce job creation, and to encourage a return to normalcy and growth, and has the additional national debt from the stimulus package been an appropriate price, or too high a price according to the results you have seen?”
6:59 Question 4: “More than 70% of the governments 30 billion dollars in farm subsidies goes to the largest 10% of farm businesses. Would you support cutting or revising federal farm subsidies?”
10:49 Question 5: “The Triangle has been blessed, or cursed, with rapid growth. The projections show more than a million new residents of Durham, Wake, Orange, and surrounding counties in the coming decade. What is working in our federal transportation policy, and what needs to change? What do you see as the relative roles of and funding for highway and roads, transit, and bicycle and pedestrian systems in our transportation future?”
00:04 Question 6: “Immigration and citizenship have become a new battleground in American Politics and the culture wars. Some argue that residency and eventual citizenship should come through only currently legal channels. Others not that immigration quotas are far more restrictive than under historic norms. Please let us know your views on the key components of immigration reform.”
TOWN HALL QUESTIONS BEGIN AFTER QUESTION 6
5:08 Town Hall Question 1: “With entitlements representing 57% percent of the total federal budget, what would you do to reduce such entitlements or generate revenue to offset them?”
9:29 Town Hall Question 2: “I would like to know your thoughts on offshore oil drilling.”
12:33 Town Hall Question 3: “In lieu of the recent supreme court decision to treat corporations like a person and the flood of campaign ads paid with money that doesn’t come from individuals and doesn’t disclose where it comes from. Would you be in favor of a law that makes requirements for clarifying the donors for such ads and from where the money comes?”
00:51 Town Hall Question 4: “The chair of the joint chiefs of staff has said that the greatest threat to national security is not Iraq, Iran or Afghanistan, but the federal debt. By 2013 the interest alone will exceed the entire defense budget. 100 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities loom on the horizon for my generation over the next century. How will you, item by item, eliminate the 1.3 trillion dollar deficit that we had in 2010 to prevent federal default, troop defection, and severe social unrest in my future?”
5:44 Question 7: “Biotechnology is a major driver in the regions growth. One recent steady comparing six southern regions found that the triangle mustered 2031 university research dollars per regional worker. More than 75 times the equivalent figure for Charlotte and tops in the southeast. In 2005 the federal government spent less than 100 dollars per capita on NIH funding versus 1600 dollars on defense spending. Where do you stand on the desirability and appropriateness of today’s federal research investment?”
9:22 Closing Statements
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It’s a powerful word because it evokes powerful feelings. Hearing the word “segregation” instills in our minds images of violence, exclusion, and a bitter hatred of innocent men for no reason beyond the color of their skin. We remember a time when little boys and girls couldn’t ride the bus together or sit at the same lunch table for fear of being shouted down, bullied, or even arrested. We know it represents a dark, evil, and unforgivable period in American history.
Or do we? Perhaps not, if we listen to local NAACP leader and spokesman Rev. William Barber, who was arrested today on charges of trespassing while screaming and pleading with fellow activists to rebel against the Wake County public schools’ recent decision to resegregate. This would be a compelling tale of a brave man resisting police state oppression, if he were correct that the schools are resegregating at all. Unfortunately for the good reverend’s cause, they are not.
Actually, the Wake County School Board is relaxing government controls that previously forced students to attend schools far away from their homes based only on their parents’ socioeconomic status. The bizarre and somewhat authoritarian policy of redistributing thousands of students to new schools every year, which encumbered students’ social development and caused abnormally long bus rides, was created with the intention of improving school performance through increased racial diversity. It is unclear whether there was any reason at the time to believe that racial diversity would cause students or teachers to become smarter. However, it is abundantly clear now that the plan has not worked. In 2007-2008, an abysmal 18% of Wake County public schools met the already lax standards of adequate yearly progress under No Child Left Behind. That is not the mark of a successful government program.
Now the School Board has voted to eliminate much of the harsh policies that forced redistributing students across great distances, instead focusing its efforts on neighborhood schools to avoid long bus rides. The obvious benefits of this are multi-faceted and substantial. Consumption of gasoline will decline, providing schools with a small but precious way to save money in a time of across-the-board budget cuts. Carbon emissions will be slashed, as well. Most importantly, parents will have greater choice in where to send their children to school, and children will enjoy shorter bus rides and a more stable base of friends as they can attend the same school year after year, if, of course, that is what they want.
The School Board’s decision is an invaluable step forward in the movement to put parents back in charge of how their children are raised. The emotional issue of racial segregation is a fraud, a scapegoat set up to distract debate away from the real issue of school choice and throw advocates of freedom into an un-winnable game while busy-body school assignment officials try to retain some semblance of usefulness. Concerned parents cannot defend themselves against the accusation of being racist because the accusation is made without evidence, and therefore cannot be refuted with evidence. What they can do – and what we all must do – is stand our ground and never waiver in asserting our right to choice and freedom, not long bus rides and bureaucratic control.
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It may not be quite correct to say that they ‘found’ me. I had never met them before. I was having a (somewhat heated) conversation with one Tea Partier about his claim that illegal immigrants were stealing from American citizens (not so – it is the government that is doing the stealing), when this big guy with a news media-sized camera walks up to me, sticks a microphone in my hand, and says, “Talk!” So I did, and once the camera was there, about five other guys decided it was their debate, too. Needless to say I was the only one representing the open borders argument.
I respond in multiple parts:
The following links are relevant to the videos:
- UPDATE: As of Tuesday the 15th, it’s official: MSNBC has decided to defend Etheridge’s assault on the grounds that the students being assaulted were probably Republicans. They have also determined that it is still unwise to manhandle someone, especially if you get caught.
- The Guardian has joined MSNBC in explaining that the Congressman’s actions were not terrible and criminal due to the fact that the gentlemen pictured were almost certainly Republicans who knowingly disagreed with the Congressman and chose to breathe his air anyway.
- The Washington Post has called the incident a “gaffe”, declaring that it will not significantly affect Etheridge’s campaign for re-election and equating it with off-hand remarks made by Michelle Bachmann and Joe Wilson. That’s right, the Washington Post thinks that this is all about what Etheridge said, and not the fact that he physically attacked innocent young men.
- The New York Times has decided today is a good day to remember why Republicans aren’t allowed to shove people.
- Bob Etheridge assaults innocent civilians: the original video.
- Bob Etheridge’s contact information.
- Renee Elmers’ self-professed views.
- Frank Deatrich makes it clear that the federal government’s policy of redistributing wealth and controlling lives is simply not okay through his answers to this questionnaire.