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Archive for April 15th, 2009

Who Else is a “Right-Wing Extremist?”

I guess I am a right-wing extremist. My government certainly considers me one given this U.S. Department of Homeland Security definition:

Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely.

Perfect.

In one neat footnote of a 10-page PDF crazed, irrational hatred has been equated with the reasoned, considered philosophy of limited government.

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Southwest: Not Done Yet

Hyperinteresting quote from Southwest Airlines CEO Gene Kelly on whether the airline might add another destination in 2009:

We are interested in growing our route network. We are continuing to evaluate new city opportunities. There are a lot of cities that we don’t serve. I will certainly admit that we’re continuing to research very seriously all of those opportunities.

I think we’ve shown in 2009 that we can grow, even in this tough environment. So no, I’m not ready to say that Boston will be the last new city, but we haven’t made that decision yet.

Southwest has announced it will begin service this year to Minneapolis-St. Paul (began March 8), New York LaGuardia (June 28) and Boston (Aug. 16).

This leaves Atlanta, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Memphis, and Milwaukee as the largest markets it does not currently serve. The airline also does not fly to Miami, Newark, New York JFK, and Washington Reagan National but serves those areas via other airports in their respective metro areas.

Analysis: All the places they don’t serve have some sort of issue(s): slot/gate limits, delay-prone, expensive to operate from, and/or are other carrier’s hub. EWR/JFK/DCA would all depend upon being able to cut the right deal for access. Miami depends upon how much Southwest wants to be there and pay the associated higher operating costs (they have a fair number of flights from Ft. Lauderdale).

Of the markets they aren’t in, Atlanta and then Charlotte are the biggest holes. Cincinnati and Memphis both would make more sense — which is not the same thing necessarily as make sense — should Delta/Northwest take down their hub. That’s much more likely to happen in the short-term in Cincinnati than Memphis. CVG though isn’t that big a market and Southwest already captures some of those travelers via Louisville, Columbus, and Indianapolis. Milwaukee is just a bad fit, as its very near Chicago and AirTran is trying to establish a major presence there.

So the most likely places would be one of Charlotte, Atlanta, Newark, (less likely) Miami, or Cincinnati.

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“An American problem, not a party problem”

Local Tea Party organizer Matthew Ridenhour gets it exactly right — but critics of any negative response to Bailout Nation will continue to portray today’s events as an astroturf product of Fox News or some other imagined bogeyman.

The truth is that this is a largely spontaneous and, yes, unfocused spasm directed toward eight months of creeping nationalization of the economy. Are various right-of-center groups trying to grow mailing lists and sell t-shirts as they draft along behind? Absolutely. But the key is they are drafting along behind.

As with all significant, potentially lasting movements the Tea Parties are cultural — but not in traditional black-white, right-left, urban-rural terms. What we are seeing is nothing less than the revolt of the responsible. It should go without saying — and it has — that the federal bid to forgive and subsidize home mortgages is deeply and personally offense to millions of Americans who did things The Right Way. Hipsters can laugh and scoff, nihilistically deny any Right Way, even point out inconsistencies — where were the Tea Baggers as King George Bush quartered federal snoopers in phone lines as he mocked any notion of the civil liberties all true patriots cherish? — but in doing so they miss the big picture.

Many, many previously apolitical Americans of some talent and good will are alarmed by the recent policy choices made in this country. At a minimum that response and today’s action should be met with an honest “why is that” rather than snorts and chortles.

Update: More than 2,000 eh? That is pretty impressive.

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Property Tax Hike…”For the Teachers?”

Understand what is going on with Mecklenburg County’s fiscal situation.

First County Manager Harry Jones fires all the ghost employees he’d been stockpiling to “save” $38m. toward a $80m. budget hole. Next the county looks at hiking every service fee possible to bring in perhaps $10m. more. Figure a few million more in savings via county-wide belt tightening. So far so good. This is exactly what we said would happen.

Then along comes CMS and Pete Gorman to say that CMS absolutely, positively cannot absorb any base-line cuts at all and must receive the same $351m. it got last year. Brickwall. What happened?

CMS got a look at what lawmakers in Raleigh planned to do with education spending, that’s what happened. No big boost, even a slight reduction in the of rate growth is probable once all is said and done. That leaves the county as the last, best hope for dollars — even if it means mandating a property tax hike as a result.

Hence Gorman has gone back to the teacher layoff spiel he went away from for a couple weeks after it became clear that CMS was not remotely growing at projected rates.

The county commission is in a box, however. County elections are next year, making this year the preferred time for a tax hike. Yet they are on record as being worried about the impacts of higher property tax bills during a recession — heck, we put off a reval last fall because of that concern.

This should be very interesting.

Update: Commissioner Bill James weighs in to point out that Gorman is explicitly saying that he can turn out enough pressure to force the county to meet his demands. Like I said, interesting.

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Bob Johnson Hunting Cash. Again.

Citing unnamed sources, the Uptown paper of record reports that Bob Johnson recently made a $28m. cash call on his Bobcat partners and was “generally turned down.”

This during the Bobcats best ever season and flirtation with a playoff run.

Is this the point at which Michael Jordan steps up to be majority owner? MJ was certainly much more visible this season and his relationship with HOF coach Larry Brown has been smooth.

Recall that exactly one year ago Johnson slammed the local biz community for failure to support the Bobcats, causing some to conclude Johnson had left himself with no choice but to sell the team. Instead, as more partners decline cash calls, Johnson has only seen his ownership stake climb from 65 percent in 2004 to what may approach 90 percent right now given the latest developments.

Yay team.

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