Photos and tweets from HK on J

I’m sure much more will be said, in this space and elsewhere, about today’s 5th annual HK on J march on Raleigh. This is my third year, and it was the most well-attended and inspirational of the three.

But don’t take my work for it. This is a quick post to let you see the photos on our Flickr site (about 100 are there now, and more will be added there as they come in) and the Twitter posts that helped #hkonj become a trending topic in the area today. We’ll also be adding photos to Facebook.

If you did follow the #hkonj hashtag, you saw a bunch of other photos detailing the creative signs and puppets people made. If you didn’t, you can see all the photos we uploaded remotely here.

Let me also direct you to possibly the cutest and most poignant sight I saw, personally:  http://ow.ly/i/86go

Thanks to everyone who made it out.


Why does Rand Paul hate the Constitution?

Ever notice that the folks who shout loudest about the Constitution are the least likely to have read it?

You can add Sen. Rand Paul to that list. Paul’s trying to slash funding for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Health Services. Not only are these two of the most underfunded federal agencies, providing vital services to vulnerable people, they carry out Indian treaty obligations backed by the Constitution itself.

Our nation’s guiding document is unambiguous on the question of Indian treaties: Article VI, Section II of the Constitution declares treaties to be “the supreme law of the land,” inviolable, a sacred trust.

Rand Paul wants to break that sacred trust, and violate a document he claims to venerate — over a few dollars owed to largely impoverished people.

Make no mistake, IHS does not have the funding needed to truly address the crises facing native people. American Indians are in poverty at twice the level of the general population. The health and wealth statistics for North Carolina — a state with the second-highest American Indian population east of the Mississippi — are even more sobering. So the answer is to … slash funding for what is in most cases the sole agency providing them health care?

There are those who don’t much care about the considerable challenges facing native people. This is, of course, monstrous. But you don’t have to care about a single other human being to see why Paul’s plan must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Here’s the bottom line:

If you believe in the Constitution, you believe in upholding Indian treaties — and the responsibilities they confer on the U.S. government. Period. No wiggle room.

If Rand Paul follows through on these plans, it will prove that the U.S. Constitution is little more than a marketing strategy to him.


What to think about the Egypt uprising, according to right-wing blogs

Interested in the Egypt uprising, but don’t have the time to research what’s going down? Want to have a clear story to tell, without being whipsawed by the twin evils of context and nuance?

Well, have right-wing bloggers got a deal for you: if the uprising goes well, it’s because George W. Bush gave a speech about freedom and rights and stuff (while giving autocrat Hosni Mubarak a bunch of money).

If it goes poorly, and shifts Egypt into a fundamentalist Islamic state, it’s Obama’s fault, because … he cut aid to Egypt, and supports unions, and wants to shut down the Internet here, but wants to turn it back on in Egypt. Or something. (No really. Read the link.)

I would link to a thoughtful, in-depth treatment of the reality on the ground, but it’s Monday. Who wants to read that? Save yourself the hassle.

Just remember: if this results in a free Egyptian democracy, the guy you like did it. If it results in civil war or a fundamentalist state, the guy you dislike did it. It has nothing to do with the hopes or aspirations or actions of the Egyptian people either way.

They get off the responsibility hook for any potential bad outcome, since you’re just going to blame the guy you want to blame anyway, and you don’t have to do any pesky reading about that place in between Iran and Syria*.

Everybody wins! Except for the guys getting hosed down, but who told them to pray, anyway?

Hope this helps. Sincerely,


*Egypt is not between Iran and Syria, but Fox News thinks it is.


Sirota: Modernize the revenue system to save jobs

Don’t miss today’s Charlotte Observer op-ed by BTC Director Alexandra Forter Sirota.

Updating our revenue system is something North Carolina needs to do anyway. The lasting impacts of the recession only make the issue a higher priority. To save jobs, this is something our state simply must do. Sirota writes:

More cuts – on top of the cuts from 2010, on top of still more cuts from 2009 – will further reduce the state’s capacity to serve communities and families, result in public- and private-sector job loss, and fail to set the state on a sustainable path to supporting long-term economic growth.

North Carolina’s policymakers must recognize that there is a choice to be made in the upcoming budget process. Choosing to make $3.7 billion in cuts will kick the problem further down the road. Choosing to reform the state’s revenue system would position North Carolina to weather future financial crises and ensure adequate support for public structures. Leading economists have found that it would be far less harmful to raise revenue than cut programs and services when trying to rebuild an economy.

For further reading, here are eight strategies we can use to close the budget gap.

Right and left alike should agree that a revenue system designed for a 1930 economy isn’t going to work in 2011. Preserving critical public structures preserves jobs, and that should be priority one.


New report: Health care individual mandate lowers costs, prevents millions from losing insurance in NC

Do you want to pay 27 percent more for your health insurance by 2019? No?

How about letting 4 million of your fellow North Carolinians go without the ability to get insurance?

If both of these prospects sound bad to you — as they do for most people — then you support the individual mandate contained in the Affordable Care Act, a new report from the Justice Center finds.

Some excerpts from the news release:

Undermining health care law would increase costs, put insurance coverage for 4 million North Carolinians at risk, new report finds
Today, NC GOP are hearing a bill on repeal of a key reform that reduces costs and protects millions

RALEIGH (Jan. 27, 2011) — On the same day that North Carolina Republicans are hearing a bill on repeal of the individual health insurance mandate in committee, a new report shows that the individual mandate will protect 4 million North Carolinians.

In addition to preventing millions from losing coverage, the individual mandate prevents health insurance premiums from rising 27 percent by 2019, the report says.

“The individual mandate will make insurance fairer and more affordable,” said Adam Linker of the NC Health Access Coalition, author of the report. “Repealing it would increase costs and put insurance coverage for 4 million North Carolinians at risk.”

The responsibility for most people to purchase an insurance plan is an important piece of health reform that makes it possible to ban the practice of denying insurance to people based on their medical history.

Approximately 4 million North Carolinians suffer from a pre-existing condition using insurance industry definitions used to reject applications or charge higher premiums, the report finds. Approximately 1.5 million North Carolinians suffer from a pre-existing condition severe enough to prompt an automatic rejection for coverage.

The individual mandate requires that everyone who can find affordable coverage purchase a policy. This helps cover the cost of care at emergency rooms, which must treat everyone regardless of ability to pay. It also keeps premiums affordable for everyone.