Friday, April 21, 2017

NC Gen'l Assembly Squashing Some of the State's Best Entrepreneurs

The defeat of House Bill 500, which would have allowed North Carolina's craft brewers to build their businesses without fealty to wholesale overlords, is a very big deal, mainly for what it reveals about the corruption of the General Assembly when it comes to the campaign scash flow.

Kevin Siers got it exactly right in the Charlotte Observer:

NCGOP Counts Its Four Eggers Before They Hatch

So ... you know that the special session rewrite of elections boards in NC got struck down by a three-judge panel as an unconstitutional infringement on the executive branch of state government.

You may not know that the Republicans in the General Assembly rejiggered that law (to pass constitutional muster, they think), which still strips authority from the governor. That Senate Bill 68 passed both houses of the General Assembly and is sitting on Governor Cooper's desk. Cooper has already announced that he will veto it, but he hasn't yet.

The NCGOP under Chair Robin Hayes isn't waiting. He's named his choices for the new State Board of Elections and Ethics, one of whom would be Stacy C. Eggers IV ("Four"), that Watauga County paragon of open elections and sparkling ethics.

Four Eggers.

Four Eggers.

Four Eggers -- on the State Board of Elections and Ethics.

The man famous in Watauga County for much malfeasance but most famous for this: "One County Attorney, Two Hats: Documents Show Attorney as "Author" Behind Key Resolutions."

The lawyer who worked non-stop for years to suppress the vote of Appalachian State University students.

Yes. That guy. The guy who forced Elections Supervisor Jane Ann Hodges into early retirement, who schemed behind the scenes with Paul Foley, and who got his brother Luke appointed to the Watauga BOE when his own nomination was rejected by the State BOE because of an obvious conflict of interest.

Four Freakin' Eggers.

Of course, S68 will be passed over Roy Cooper's veto, but then it'll be back in court. So we figure that Four Eggers gets the publicity without the job. You're welcome!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Constitutionality of Last December's NCGA Special Session Challenged

The lawsuit filed yesterday by Common Cause North Carolina in Wake Superior Court seeks remedy for what was called an out-and-out coup d'etat last December 16, when the Republicans in the General Assembly sprung a sudden and totally unannounced special session of the legislature to bollix boards of elections and severely limit other abilities of a newly and duly elected governor of our state.

It was all done without public notice, without warning, without the ability of the public to know or to object. It was done cynically -- two sweeping changes to the structure and process of state government had been written well in advance and in secret, testifying to the appalling lack of honesty of the Republican leaders in the General Assembly.

Republicans are reacting to the lawsuit like Republicans always react -- with the howling of struck dogs.

More coverage of the lawsuit in this morning's N&O.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Watauga's Stella Anderson Is a Plaintiff in Law Suit To Overturn NCGA's Special Session Last December

Video of the press conference today announcing this lawsuit can be viewed here:

By GARY D. ROBERTSON, Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. — Laws approved by the Republican-dominated legislature that reduced powers of North Carolina's new Democratic governor are getting challenged again — this time on arguments that the December special session in which they were approved was illegal.

Government reform group Common Cause and 10 state residents sued Wednesday in Wake County Superior Court alleging that legislative leaders violated the state Constitution when the session convened Dec. 14 after only two hours' notice that it would occur. Republican lawmakers have said the session was called properly.

Lawmakers had quietly accumulated colleagues' signatures to convene themselves almost immediately after another session ended that had been called by then-GOP Gov. Pat McCrory for that week and in which they approved a Hurricane Matthew relief and recovery package.

By the time the second session had ended Dec. 16, GOP lawmakers had passed laws shifting control over administering elections from incoming Gov. Roy Cooper to themselves and subjecting his Cabinet to Senate confirmation.

Other laws approved under a compressed parliamentary schedule also reduced the number of employees Cooper could hire compared to McCrory, made appeals court elections officially partisan races and moved powers from the State Board of Elections to the state schools superintendent.

Cooper and others already have sued over the laws, with mixed results to date. While the elections administration changes were struck down by a three-judge panel last month, the confirmation mandate was upheld. Wednesday's lawsuit takes a different tact by arguing rights to due process and for the people to "instruct their representatives" within the state Constitution were violated by the swift session.

NCGOP's Use of "Voter Fraud" Exposed as Fraud

If you'll recall those dark days last November when Pat McCrory and the NC Republican Party were alleging all sorts of voter fraud to explain his loss of the governorship to Roy Cooper, some 600 voters in the state were accused of explicit wrong-doing.

DemocracyNC conducted a five-month investigation into all those charges of voter fraud and are now calling on prosecutors to charge the real villains: Pat McCrory and the NC Republican Party:
Democracy North Carolina talked with dozens of voter-victims, county election officials, and the Republicans involved in filing charges of fraud in various counties. This report, based on those interviews and a review of public records, reveals that the McCrory campaign and NC Republican Party engaged in a coordinated legal and publicity crusade to disrupt, and potentially corrupt, the elections process with what amounted to fraudulent charges of voter fraud. 

And more:
The crusade [to overturn the election of Roy Cooper] did not stop even after McCrory’s attorneys were told by some elections officials that their claims were wrong, that they were confusing voters’ names with other people, that they were using bad data. Instead of stopping, the attorneys caused more charges to be filed that maligned more innocent voters. And, in conjunction with the NC Republican Party, they continued a coordinated attack on the legitimacy of certain ballots and the election outcome, despite the clear harm inflicted on individual voters and the election process.
According to the N&O, DemocracyNC is sending its report to district attorneys in the 23 counties where the most protests were filed and to federal prosecutors in North Carolina.

Trump: "Everyone Must Buy American ... Except for Me and My Family"

Hypocrisy Watch: Trump went to Wisconsin yesterday to demand that everyone "buy American" while he and his family are very notorious foreign shoppers.

1. Trump's own clothing line is made overseas. His famous ties are made in China. Last July, he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he “bid out” production for his ties: "You have companies over in different countries where they devalue their currency and they make it impossible for American companies to compete.”

2. During the campaign, Trump said he would label China "a currency manipulator" as soon as he was sworn in (for the reason cited immediately above). But earlier this week, Trump decided against that, soon after he and daughter Ivanka had dinner with China's leader.

3. At the same time that Trump and Ivanka were having dinner with China's leader, Trump was also being awarded trademark protection for his name in China, something he had sought for more than a decade. Money, money, money!

4. Ivanka "has imported 56 shipments of Ivanka Trump products from China and Singapore, part of a total of 215 shipments from Asia since Jan. 1, 2016” (NBC News).

5. Cheap steel for Trump hotels comes from overseas -- we've all known that -- but the Business Insider reports that hotel furnishings and toiletries are also bought from foreign suppliers: ice buckets from Thailand, headboards from China, slippers from Hong Kong, shower gel from Italy, etc.

6. "Hire American"? Not that, either. According to the Washington Post, since 2013 Trump properties -- including Mar-a-Lago, Trump Vineyards, and Trump National Golf Club -- have sought to fill more than 500 positions with foreign workers under the H-2A visa program. "In total, those positions would have earned almost $1 million a month in salary over their durations."

If a Democratic president were this obviously hypocritical, can you imagine the uproar? If a Democratic president had achieved No. 3 alone, impeachment proceedings would already be underway in a Republican congress.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Trump's Taxing Problem

At least 100,000 citizens took to the streets last Saturday to demand that Trump release his taxes, including a crowd in Raleigh. A growing number of Republican lawmakers are beginning to agree with those citizens: Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, Reps. David Young of Iowa, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Walter B. Jones of North Carolina, Ted Yoho of Florida, Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, and Justin Amash of Michigan — all have publicly agreed that Trump should release his returns.

It's become clear that his other big campaign promise to "reform the tax system" ain't going anywhere unless he does release his own returns ... not that Trump has a coherent plan for "reform." According to Alan Rappeport,
The president’s own vision for a new tax system is muddled at best. In the past few months, he has called for taxing companies that move operations abroad, waffled on the border tax and, last week, called for a “reciprocal” tax that would match the import taxes other countries impose on the United States.
Those tax protestors last Saturday, and everybody else for that matter, want to know how any tax code rewrite will benefit Trump and his family. He's certainly not been shy about which House Republican proposals he hates, like the Republican idea to get rid of a rule that lets companies write off the interest they pay on loans. Doing so would reportedly raise $1 trillion in revenue. But it would also reduce the appeal of one of Trump’s favorite business tools: debt.

Funny how that conflict of interest thingy works, ain't it?

Assessment of the Week

He knows little, believes in little, and shows signs of regretting what has happened to him.
--Sarah Ellison, evaluating Donald Trump at the conclusion of her piece of essential reporting, "The Inside Story of the Kushner-Bannon Civil War"

Monday, April 17, 2017

Don't You Even Look at Him, You Peasants!

Donald Trump is arguing in a Louisville, Ky., lawsuit that he can't be sued for inciting violence against protestors because he won the election. No kidding.

"Immune am I, because I am king of all I behold," sez the man with the authoritarian left brain.

The Kentucky lawsuit was brought by three protestors who were roughed up at a Trump rally while the candidate himself barked "Get 'em outta here!" from the podium. Federal Judge David J. Hale has already ruled that Trump can be sued, despite his current gilding as POTUS. Judge Hale noted that speech inciting violence is not protected by the First Amendment ("free speech" was Trump's first line of defense) and ruled that there is plenty of evidence that the protesters' injuries were a 'direct and proximate result' of Trump's words.

To complicate things for Trump, one of his supporters, who is also being sued for assault at that same rally, has explicitly said he punched a woman protestor "in response to — and inspired by — Trump and/or the Trump Campaign’s urging to remove the protesters.”

Hmmm. Dunno about the merits of the case itself -- at this distance it looks weak -- but Trump's newest claim that he's immune from prosecution because he's the emperor is just so much buffalo dust.