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Conspiracy kooksThe folks over on Right-wing Avenue — yeah, you know, the supposedly nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organizations that have been acting as virtual auxiliaries of the campaign of one of the two main U.S. Senate candidates in recent weeks — have a lot of troubling friends and allies on the fringe.

Take, for instance the website “Triad Conservative” (to which one can link directly from the Locke Foundation’s “Piedmont Publius” blog). This is from an article that appeared on the site over the weekend entitled “Time to Entertain Secession?”:

“Matthew Staver of Liberty Counsel argues that we are witnessing the end of Western Civilization.  He is essentially correct.  Western Civilization over the last two millenia has been intrinsically Christian.  Our national government is now post-Christian, post-modern and indeed anti-Christian.  And Greensboro’s own Kay Hagan has been at the forefront of this change.

The United States is no longer a fundamentally good country.”

The post concludes this way:

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NC GearA friend of NC Policy Watch points out that a new and controversial $4 million McCrory administration program to fight inefficiency in state government may itself be an example of inefficiency and redundancy.

As WRAL reported earlier this week, the head of the NC Government Efficiency And Reform initiative (NC GEAR) — a former John Locke Foundation staffer — got a fairly skeptical reception at a joint legislative committee on Monday.  Senators and representatives both voiced concern that $4 million was a lot to spend on an ill-defined initiative that has thus far produced very little of substance.

Even, however, if one sets aside the output from NC GEAR thus far (i.e. not much), it’s also worth noting that North Carolina already has a similar program in place called NC Thinks.

Thus far, the main evident function on the NC GEAR website is a virtual suggestion box for improving government efficiency. But, as a our friend points out, NC Thinks already does that!

Here is the website description for that initiative: Read More

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Dallas Woodhouse2You may have trouble enduring all 50 minutes and 40 seconds, but today’s weird valedictory farewell by departing Americans for Prosperity director Dallas Woodhouse at the Locke Foundation’s “Shaftsbury Society” luncheon provides an interesting and, at times, surprisingly unfiltered window into just how closely coordinated the right-wing world of charitable 501 (c)(3)’s, (c)(4)’s and various explicitly partisan political and candidate-specific organizations really is. (Woodhouse is leaving AFP to become a campaign/political consultant).

Woodhouse addresses the matter (explicitly and implicitly) several times during the talk — most notably about a quarter of the way in when he explains that  conservative “accomplishments” of late in North Carolina are the result of “the efforts of our candidates, with the effort of our network here through the Locke Foundation, Civitas, the Pope Center for Higher Education, the Center for Constitutional Law, and Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Prosperity Foundation…” and then goes on to thank Art Pope for making it all possible.

To help complete the big, warm and fuzzy picture, the first question at the conclusion of the talk is posed by Woodhouse’s former colleague Jeff Mixon, now of the Governor’s office.

In short, those who watch this video will get a quick, powerful and sobering lesson about who it is that’s driving the policy and political agendas in North Carolina right now (and how, in their troubled worldview, they’re just getting started).

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Lest you think the drumbeat of criticism about the absurd salaries being paid by HHS Secretary Aldona Wos to two young graduates of the McCrory campaign is a partisan or ideological matter, check out this recent exchange between John Hood of the Locke Foundation and conservative Raleigh radio host Bill LuMaye that took place on Monday afternoon.

After being asked his views on “salary-gate,” Hood said that both Matthew McKillip and Ricky Diaz were “very promising” “young men” whom he would consider hiring at the Locke Foundation if given the opportunity, but that he would never consider hiring them at anywhere near the salaries being paid to them by Wos:

“I would not hire them at salaries in the 80,000 range. It would be, you know, less than half that amount. And I just cannot imagine a justification for this decision — not just on the merits but also the political optics.”

He then went on to question the administration’s ongoing attempts to defend the salaries:  Read More

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You know North Carolina has jumped off the cliff into the abyss when even two conservative figures with close ties to the John Locke Foundation are deriding the latest budget and tax policy choices made by state leaders.

Here, for instance, is longtime Locke Foundation Board member Assad Meymandi in Saturday’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer:

“Some 60 years ago, the founding fathers of the new North Carolina – transforming an agrarian society into an educational, technical and industrial state – folks like the late Bill Friday, Archie Davis, Gov. Luther Hodges and others saw the future salvation of our beloved state by heavily investing in education.

Their efforts have produced, among other things, a very strong UNC system of 16 campuses, parallel with the creation of the incomparable network of community colleges. They also advocated a strong N.C. Symphony, N.C. Museum of Art and other cultural and artistic institutions to attract educated and culturally inclined people to the state. Investing in education has paid off. N.C. economy has thrived because of its excellent public universities. UNC-Chapel Hill alone brings in annually around $900 million in research money and grants. It is truly frightening to see what the legislature is doing to the budgets of UNC system, N.C. community college system and UNC-TV. Read More