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Climate change figure Droz cries foul

John Droz, the Morehead City physicist who has helped shape state legislators’ view of the controversial issue of sea-level rise due to climate change, takes issue with criticism of a presentation he made to lawmakers and others last week.

The thrust of his presentation was that special-interest groups are manipulating science for their own agendas, and that public policy is suffering as a result. Liberal and environmental groups have mocked him for his position in opposition to the majority of scientists that global warming is real and the world’s use of carbon dioxide and methane play a big role in that. Droz says consensus doesn’t mean proof, and that the question remains unsettled.

Dome reported that the Institute for Southern Studies Facing South project’s criticized his presentation because of some of the source material, which included a number of fringe publications. Droz says it’s not fair to cherry-pick a handful of articles out of the hundreds of sources quoted in his presentation, just because someone might not agree with everything those publications print.

“If something is false or wrong, let’s hear what it was,” Droz said.

Thousands would be unable to vote if photo ID required, report says

Over at Facing South, Chris Kromm has a "special report" on the Republican's plan to pass legislation requiring N.C. voters to produce photo IDs at the polls.

Kromm quotes Bob Hall of the Democracy North Carolina who says, "Requiring a photo ID is really just a way to reduce the number of voters Republicans don't like. It's exactly what the Democrats did after 1898 ... We're suffering the legacy of that enforced disenfranchisement still today."

Kromm explains that in 1898 when Democrats got control of the N.C. legislature, they immediately passed an amendment to the state constitution requiring voters pass a literacy test and pay a poll tax

Kromm also reports that studies estimate that up to 10 percent of people in North Carolina — more than 700,000 — lack any form of photo identification.

Read his full report here.

Duke Energy CEO up for Obama post?

Is Duke Energy's CEO on the short list?

A Washington Post article this morning lists Jim Rogers as a potential member of President-elect Barack Obama's Cabinet: 

There's no shortage of names floating for energy secretary, a job where the majority of the workload in the past has been dealing with nuclear waste, nuclear weapons handling and the various nuclear laboratories. Even so, a cast of luminaries have been mentioned, including Duke Energy executive Jim Rogers, former Energy Department official Dan Reicher, former top Clinton White House environmental aide Kathleen McGinty, FedEx chairman and Republican backer Fred Smith, New Jersey utility chief executive Ralph Izzo, and Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.).

Note: The Fred Smith mentioned above is not the former gubernatorial candidate. 

Hat Tip: Facing South

Kromm: Provisionals won't help McCain

Chris Kromm says provisional ballots won't help John McCain.

In a post on Facing South, the head of the Institute for Southern Studies says that the number of provisional ballots will likely be lower than in past elections because of one-stop voting and notes that they have "historically favored" the Democratic candidate.

Historically, North Carolina has had a high number of provisionals: as the N.C. Coalition for Verified Voting notes in their helpful run-down on the issue, N.C. had 77,469 provisional ballots in 2004 and 92,621 in the 2006 mid-terms. The 2004 number put N.C. in the top five nationally for provisional votes in 2004.

The number of provisional ballots is expected to be lower in 2008 because of same-day voter registration, a reform passed in 2007. The top reason people vote provisionally, and end up having their ballots rejected, is because they are not registered. In N.C., where 42% of the electorate voted during the early voting period, voters can register and vote at the same time during early voting.

He says the provisional ballots won't help McCain make up an 11,690-vote deficit to Barack Obama in North Carolina when the final votes are certified.

Kromm: Barr may be spoiler

Chris Kromm revisits the potential spoiler.

In a post on Facing South, the executive director of the Institute for Southern Studies notices a trend in the presidential polling in North Carolina:

Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr, the former Congressman from Georgia, will be on the ballot in NC (despite the state's enormously restrictive ballot access laws). But most of the polls that showed double-digit leads for McCain in North Carolina didn't include Barr.

Since August, any poll that has included Barr has shown McCain with no more than a six point advantage, or even put Obama in the lead. The last two polls — from PPP (Democratic) and Civitas Institute (Repulican) — include Barr, and they show McCain and Obama exactly tied.

According to Pollster.com, Barr has received between zero and six percent support in polls done since May.

Earlier: Presidential spoilers in N.C. history. 

Kromm: Is Obama leaving the South?

Chris Kromm wonders if Barack Obama is leaving the South.

In a post on Facing South, the executive director of the Institute for Southern Studies points to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal that says Obama has focused on the traditional swing states of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan this month.

Kromm wonders what effect a narrower map would have on North Carolina.

"A lurking question: if Obama pulls up stakes in North Carolina and other used-to-be-battlegrounds in the final weeks, what will that mean for down-ticket Democrats counting on his voter-turnout coattails?" he writes. "Or has the Obama base in those states already been energized?"

Kromm: Helms not a straight-talker

Jesse HelmsChris Kromm says the Jesse Helms obituaries missed the point.

In a lengthy post on the Facing South blog, the executive director of the Institute for Southern Studies said the mainstream media "down-played, ignored or even denied Helms' prejudices."

"To say Sen. Helms held deep prejudices against many — especially African-Americans and gays and lesbians — isn't a matter of opinion; it's all part of the historical record," he writes.

He attacks the idea that Helms was a "straight talker."

"Helms the strategic politician ... knew that by cultivating a straight-talk persona he could shift attention from the regressive content of what he was saying to a defense of his right to 'speak his mind' — but his fans and voters got the real message," he writes.

And he says Helms was not an "iconoclast."

"Helms' antics and positions did on many occasions put him at the far-right extremes of political debate. But he was by no means a marginal, fringe politician, and such a portrayal ignores Helms' ongoing popularity and his central role in U.S. politics for three decades," he writes.

Kromm: The wrong question

Chris Kromm says that political analysts are asking the wrong question.

The debate over North Carolina's Electoral College votes will matter for the first time since The Band held its farewell concert should not be whether Barack Obama can beat John McCain, he argues on the Facing South blog.

As is often the case, the issue might not be whether N.C. has the potential to go for Obama — it's whether Obama and the Democrats will invest (or be able to invest, given other competing priorities) the resources, time and energy that would allow Obama to capitalize on that potential. 

Kromm says the case can be made for either Obama or McCain winning the state.

Dome tends to agree with Kromm on this point. Clearly, North Carolina is not going to be in the top tier of swing states in 2008, but Obama's unprecedented fundraising ability could allow him to spend money in more marginal states — even if only to drain McCain's resources.

D.C. group behind robocalls

A Washington-based nonprofit is behind the "Lamont Williams" calls.

According to Facing South, a staffer for Women's Voices Women Vote admitted that it was behind recent robocalls that gave misleading information about voter registration.

The State Board of Elections has been looking for the source of the calls.

The nonprofit told the Institute for Southern Studies, which runs the Facing South blog, that the calls were part of a 24-state effort to register unmarried women. But the calls do not mention the group's name, they come from an unlisted number and they are misleading.

The calls tell voters to look for a voter-registration packet in the mail, but they were made after the deadline passed in North Carolina for mail-in registration.

Complaints have been made in Wisconsin, Michigan and Arizona about similarly misleading calls.

"The reports from other states are very disturbing, especially the pattern of mass confusion among targeted voters on the eve of a state's primary," Democracy North Carolina's Bob Hall told Facing South.

Lamont also called in Ohio, Virginia

"Lamont Williams" also made calls in Ohio.

The bogus robocaller — currently being hunted by the State Board of Elections for giving misinformation to black voters in North Carolina — also made calls in Ohio last year, according to Facing South.

Chris Kromm, executive director of the Institute for Southern Studies, found the connection with help from a reader:

Facing South has learned that these calls -- even down to the name of the supposed caller -- are very similar to calls used last year in Ohio. In November 2007, a voter in Columbus, Ohio wrote in to the Buckeye State Blog with this eerily familiar story:

I just got a weird robo-call that I suspect may be a form of voter suppression, albeit kinda braindead. From memory, a stentorian voice reminiscent of James Earl Jones says: "Hello. This is Lamont Williams. In a few days you should be getting a voter registration form in the mail. Please fill it out and return promptly and you will be able to vote. Thank you.

Update: Voters also received similar calls in Virginia. 

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