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State initiates building boom

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JOHN HOOD Syndicated Columnist As a longtime observer of the North Carolina legislature, I have a pet peeve: lawmakers, lobbyists, and reporters alike focus too much attention on the General Fund of the state budget, those expenditures funded largely by state taxes on incomes and retail sales. The General Fund…

OUR VIEW — Weakness in Syria

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For those keeping score at home, a while back President Barack Obama drew a “red line” in the sand, promising that if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against his own citizens, there would be dire consequences. Assad crossed that red line, and then some, happily gassing and bombing…

Slow going on Jones Street

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PATRICK GANNON Syndicated Columnist A top state senator told reporters last week that the General Assembly could have moved faster this year, both on the state budget and on the 2015 legislative session, which began back in January. “I’ll be one of the first to admit that, even on the…

A world on fire?

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A. TREVOR THRALL Guest Columnist A sense of historical perspective and responsible rhetoric may be too much to ask of candidates at this stage in a presidential campaign. With 15 contenders all looking to score points, some hyperbole is to be expected. Even so, the level of threat inflation and…

Nothing new about attacks

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JOHN HOOD Syndicated Columnist Think politics has taken a nasty turn? You’re certainly not alone. Too many politicians and activists resort too often to personal insults and character assassination rather than crafting, articulating, and defending a substantive agenda for addressing difficult issues. Too many desperate media outlets resort to giving…

EDITOR’S NOTE: Big government candidates

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MICHAEL GEBELEIN Managing Editor The Republican candidate debate on Wednesday was heartbreaking for anyone who doesn’t want to see Hillary Clinton win the White House next year. I powered through all three hours of it, but I must have missed the part where any of the candidates said anything substantive…

Ignoring Rand Paul

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DAVID BOAZ Guest Columnist Desperately searching for an establishment Republican who can block Donald Trump, many observers are ignoring the strong and politically astute performance of Rand Paul in Wednesday night’s Republican debate. A classic example this morning is Michael Gerson, the big-government Republican who has written for George W.…

New policy on white collar prosecution risks scapegoating

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THAYA BROOK KNIGHT Guest Columnist Last week, the Department of Justice announced a new policy regarding its approach to corporate criminal investigations. Instead of focusing first on the company and, having resolved that portion of the investigation, turning to the task of identifying potential individual criminal suspects, prosecutors are now…

State budget nears approval

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It wasn’t worth the wait. The House and Senate will likely approve a new budget this week, more than 11 weeks after the fiscal year began. After some fussing and fuming, the governor probably will sign it, although he might build some political capital by vetoing it, knowing an override…

Reporters and budget negotiations

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PATRICK GANNON Syndicated Columnist As a reporter, covering state budget negotiations going on entirely behind closed doors between top House and Senate leaders is like trying to keep track of a NASCAR race on the radio. It can be an exercise in futility. Progress is slow, many legislators are reluctant…