Friday, October 31, 2014

Brace Yourself: Governor Squishy Is Gonna "Reassess"

Hard on the heels of Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate Thom Tillis's flipflop on expanding Medicaid under Obamacare ... comes Governor Pat McCrory signaling that he's having second thoughts -- or maybe those are first thoughts -- it's hard to tell with this guy -- about previously helping to block Medicaid expansion in North Carolina.

Candidate Tillis earlier this year was proud as punch to campaign on blocking Medicaid expansion: "It's not happening in North Carolina, and it's because of Thom Tillis," one of his campaign ads bragged during last May's Republican primary.

Now he's had a death-bed conversion, watching his prospects of becoming a U.S. Senator wither on the vine.

Death-bed conversions on the matter of expanding Medicaid under Obamacare seem to be spreading faster than panic grass. So there was McCrory yesterday -- at a Raleigh country club, naturally -- signaling a similar change of heart. His disapproval ratings are probably beyond repair, but he's picking up that Obamacare trowel anyway, and we expect some major respackling of his uber-conservative credentials in the new year.

He'll still feel most comfortable at the country club, though.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

It's a Clear Pattern: The NC GOP Hates Young Voters

If the New Hanover County Board of Elections doesn't get slapped down hard for this, it'll be another strike against the NC State Board of Elections.

In the home city of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, the local Republican-controlled Board of Elections has decided that if a student voter can't name the street address of the dormitory he/she lives in, then he/she jolly well won't be allowed to vote.

Who knows the street address of any dormitory on the ASU campus? They probably have technical street addresses, under 911 regs, but as mail doesn't typically go to a dormitory street address, nobody but nobody knows that address (except maybe 911 dispatchers).

Betcha the Vice Chancellor of Bricks and Mortar wouldn't know the street address for Justice Hall, let alone a student living there.

The attempts at disenfranchising college student voters goes on apace in North Carolina, and eventually those young citizens are going to get mighty peeved about it, as they should, and then they're going to vote with a vengeance.

From WECT.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Like a Prairie Fire Whipped by Wind

It took only five days of Early Voting this year (three days in Watauga) to equal and surpass the Early Vote from the first 12 days of Early Voting in 2010.

In-person Early Voting ballots cast so far this year: 428,383.

In-person Early Voting ballots cast by this same day before the General Election in 2010: 426,305.

So there's panic now on the right. And the Watauga Republican Party Chair has decided she needs to do something beside photograph teenagers' T-shirts.

Becky Johnson in the Smoky Mountain News got it exactly right: This election is a referendum on the new Republican majority in Raleigh, which ain't looking so rosy.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Watauga Vote-Suppressors Have a Lonely Week

We listened in to the teleconference conducted by the State Board of Elections (SBOE) on Wednesday afternoon, the one when they voted 5-0 to place an Early Voting site in the Appalachian State University Student Union.

Not once during that short meeting did anyone say words like these: "What does the Watauga County Board of Elections want?" "Has anyone asked Chair Luke Eggers for his opinion?" "Does Bill Aceto agree with this?"

Eggers and Aceto were never mentioned, nor were their preferences either inquired about or catered to. Oh Chairman Eggers had certainly expressed an opinion, preferring sites as far removed from the Student Union as one can get without leaving the campus. But the Republican members of the SBOE were clearly done with seeking the opinion of the Two Amigos.

And why not? The Majority of Two on the Watauga County Board of Elections have implicated the SBOE in unconstitutional acts of voter disenfranchisement, have caused a legal shitstorm that may set precedents across the state for ballot access, have made it much more difficult for the SBOE to claim non-partisan reasoning for their administrative actions, have provided a consistent and debilitating series of scandals and unfortunate revelations since they took control in August of 2013.

Anne Marie Yates & the iPhone camera
Meanwhile, Republican Party Chair Anne Marie Yates still likes harassing student voters much more than trying to win their votes, so she was busying herself yesterday taking photographs of any student she saw in the Student Union wearing a candidate T-shirt, alleging illegal "electioneering" inside "the polling place," which under this present regime is the entire Student Union, a very large building of three floors where all sorts of activities go on all the time and where hundreds of students are buying coffee, gabbing, studying, and hanging out, and some of them -- gasp! -- may be wearing a candidate T-shirt or sporting a campaign button on a backpack, but otherwise doing nothing that fits the definition of "electioneering." But Anne Marie Yates filed an official complaint about it. She apparently wants to decree that any student wearing an offending T-shirt must disrobe before entering the Student Union.

Where was she when I voted yesterday morning? Because I must now confess that I was wearing two different candidate buttons when I went into the voting enclosure to do my duty, and I would have proudly posed for her camera. Because there's not one thing anyone on this green earth can do about a voter wearing whatever campaign swag he or she pleases when he or she goes to vote. And there's nothing wrong with a student wearing a candidate's button to the coffee shop.

Republicans just can't stop themselves from their divinely inspired primary purpose on earth: blocking other people from exercising their rights.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Today's Early Voting Numbers reported by the High Country Press:
Plemmons Student Union at ASU – more than 700 early voters
Blowing Rock Town Hall – 78 early voters
Meat Camp VFD – 39 early voters
Deep Gap VFD – 37 early voters
Western Watauga Community Center – approximately 60 early voters
Watauga County Administration Building in downtown Boone – 591 early voters
Do the math.

Guess Bill Aceto will be bragging again about how his administration of the Watauga County Board of Elections has actually increased voter turn-out. Lol.

Plus ... we hear that he and his cohorts will be featured again this evening on The Rachel Maddow Show.

I Voted and I Feel Great!

There was already a line outside the Price Lake Room in the ASU Student Union when we arrived at 7:50 this morning, and that line was still building when we left.

I haven't felt this good about voting in many years. My chance to strike a blow against voter suppression, against all the stupid and destructive revenge tactics of a political majority who obviously think they can stay in power if they can only squeeze the ballot box down to the size of a signet ring and wear it on their pinkies.

This long battle hasn't just been about college student rights, but I am proud that we stood up for those rights.

Meanwhile, in Raleigh, what happened yesterday? The State Board of Elections (SBOE), without a whisper of dissent, voted 5-0 shortly after 4 p.m. to place an Early Voting site in the ASU Student Union. Minutes later, the conservative majority on the state's Supreme Court put a stay on Judge Donald Stephens' ruling from last week that found unconstitutional voter suppression going on in Watauga County, rubber-stamped by the SBOE.

The Supreme Court put a stay on the ruling but did not order the Early Voting site in the Student Union closed, which has led to a good deal of confusion. We think it's all about keeping the ASU case from becoming legal precedent across the state.

The SBOE needed to do something to rehabilitate its tarnished image. One of its members had  been colluding with Stacy C. Eggers IV ("Four") since the summer of 2013, and that had been exposed. Then "Four" Eggers' manipulation of his little brother and the corruption of the local BOE was exposed. Then the SBOE, in rubber-stamping "Four" Eggers' manipulation, decided to make no public record of why eliminating Early Voting at ASU was justified under the law. Judge Stephens could only conclude what he did:
...the court can conclude no other intent from [the Watauga BOE's] decision other than to discourage student voting. A decision based on that intent is a significant infringement of students' rights to vote and rises to the level of a constitutional violation of the right to vote.
If that decision had remained at the Superior Court level, it would have been a very localized issue, but in appealing to the NC Court of Appeals, the SBOE opened the door to setting a precedent that could be applied elsewhere. Early Voting has been taken away from other college campuses. And the Supreme Court obviously jumped in when they did yesterday to send a signal that they're in no mood to see the ASU case set any precedents elsewhere in North Carolina.

The battle is over, but the war is not.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

BREAKING: Early Voting at the ASU Student Union

The State Board of Elections concluded 5-0 just seconds ago that Early Voting will take place in the Price Lake Room of the Plemmons Student Union, beginning tomorrow morning at 8 a.m.

There was no dissent.


The BREAKING news immediately down-column should have said that the NC Court of Appeals lifted its temporary stay on Judge Donald Stephens' order that an Early Voting site be restored to the campus of Appalachian State University.

The actual appeal on the merits will be heard later, probably next year.

Meanwhile, the State Board of Elections is holding a phone conference this afternoon at 4 p.m. to choose an Early Voting site on the ASU campus.

The Supreme Court has not taken up the appeal.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

BREAKING: Court of Appeals Upholds Judge Stephens

RALEIGH -- The North Carolina Court of Appeals has just upheld Wake Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens' order that an Early Voting site must be restored to the campus of Appalachian State University.

A Little Rabble Rousing Music for Tuesday Morning

Sunday, October 19, 2014

This Is a Joke, Right?

Vandals erect a billboard distorting Rep. Jonathan Jordan's record.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

"Irreparable Harm" ... to Whom?

Let's put it this way: What else is power for? The State Board of Elections (SBOE) can save the sorry hide of a ruling politician or two by winning a court challenge to college student voting. And why shouldn't they win? They represent the current rulers of North Carolina.

So this happened: On Monday Chief Resident Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens ordered the Early Voting site restored to the campus of Appalachian State University, on constitutional grounds. On Thursday, "the state" (SBOE, represented at taxpayer expense by the Attorney General's office) appealed to both the NC Court of Appeals and to the NC Supreme Court to overturn Judge Stephens.
...the state asked ... for an emergency stay and appeal. The state’s argument is that [Judge] Stephens overstepped his authority by striking down the previously approved early voting plan and that changing the plan 10 days before the start of early voting will cause confusion and chaos for voters and elections officials. This, according to the motion, will cause “irreparable harm” unless the high court steps in to stop it.
Yesterday afternoon (Friday), the North Carolina Court of Appeals issued a temporary stay against the ASU site until at least Tuesday, ordering both sides to submit arguments.

"Irreparable harm"? Harm to whom? And how? You mean, if college students are allowed to vote unhindered by unnecessary barriers to their voting, that the Republic will suffer "irreparable harm"?

Yes, irreparable harm. Some politicians' asses are lodged in cracks, and the door might slam.

The argument that Judge Stephens "overstepped his authority" was the main line of reasoning trotted out by the lawyer representing SBOE at Monday's hearing. I was there. I was listening. (Also been waiting for the official transcript, so I could discuss the arguments verbatim, but now my hand's been forced:) The state's attorney said Judge Stephens didn't have jurisdiction to rule because plaintiffs didn't have standing to sue. Because and therefore, the SBOE's decisions are really immune from legal challenge. Got that? No one can, or ever has, challenged an SBOE administrative decision in court.

So what are people to do? Judge Stephens asked state counsel. Where are people to go when a state agency charged with providing equal ballot access to all clearly violates the rights of a class of voters, any voters? Where are they to go? "Under the unique circumstances in this case," Judge Stephens said in his subsequent order, "respondent's early voting plan for Watauga County is subject to judicial review by the Wake County Superior Court under N.C. Gen. Stat. 163-22(a)."

You can count on the question of the judge's jurisdiction being the hinge in the Court of Appeals on which swings the fate of Early Voting in Watauga County.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Do You Feel the Hysteria Rising on the Right?

An editorial in the Raleigh News & Observer calls out the voter suppression bullshit of the State Board of Elections, which enabled and ratified the voter suppression bullshit of the Watauga County Board of Elections when it removed last year a long established Early Voting site from the Appalachian State University campus.

The editorial fingers the reason that the State Board of Elections has now gone pleading to the NC Supreme Court and its gang of conservatives for an emergency hearing to overturn Judge Donald Stephens' order in Waker Superior Court: "The GOP doesn’t think it can maintain power on a level playing field." So it stacks the cards against ballot access for young people because Republicans can't win their hearts and minds, let alone their votes.

If Judge Stephens' order prevails and ASU students get their polling place, the editorialist points out, "the impact could be significant elsewhere."

Can't you hear the sharp intake of breath in conservative circles at that thought? OMG! Why, students at other universities and colleges in the state might get the idea that they deserve easy voting opportunities too! And there goes the ballgame.

A reader posted a comment under that editorial, reminding me of what conservative guru Paul Weyrich famously said (and he said it on-camera to boot): "So many of our Christians have what I call the goo-goo syndrome: good government. They want everybody to vote. I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."

Yeah, we got that.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tillis Visibly Shrinks in Size Next to Burr

Yesterday, Senator Richard Burr stood side by side with would-be senator Thom Tillis and said that Federal Judge Max Cogburn, who declared Amendment One unconstitutional last week, was "the most qualified" for the job, which was why he voted to confirm him to the Federal bench.

For his part, wannabe senator Tillis had earlier condemned Burr's confirmation vote by implication, by saying this: "We're in a dangerous time in this country where the president has appointed liberal activist judges -- and Sen. [Kay] Hagan has endorsed them or confirmed them -- that are literally trying the legislate from the bench."

Blah, blah, blah. Mr. Wannabe speaking the company-approved word-salad about "liberal judges," while Dick Burr -- bless his heart! -- stands by his vote.

Must have made for an awkward moment in Cary yesterday.

How Does This Add To Our Respect for the NC State Board of Elections?

Kim Strach, Executive Director of the North Carolina Board of Elections, is married to Phil Strach, a Republican lawyer who's a member of the law firm defending the Republican gerrymandering of North Carolina. As such, Phil Strach has been both very active in court and quite well paid by us, the taxpayers.

Yeah, that passes the smell test (if you cut off your nose, presumably to spite your face).

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Watauga Board of Elections Fails To Acknowledge Their Judicial Thrashing

The Watauga Board of Elections met last evening, and not only did Republican members Bill Aceto and Luke Eggers fail to take any steps to comply with Wake Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens' order from Monday that an Early Voting site be immediately returned to the campus of Appalachian State University, they didn't even mention the stinging critique they suffered in the opinion of the Chief Resident Judge.

Guess if a judge told the world that my actions were unconstitutional, and ordered me to correct those actions, I might not want to mention it either.

Early Voting begins a week from Thursday. I need to know where on the ASU campus I'll be going.

Anyone? State Board of Elections? Bueller?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Actions of the Watauga Board of Elections Ruled "Unconstitutional"

Here it is, the order by Judge Donald W. Stephens in the ASU student voting rights case from Watauga County, in toto (minus some preliminary stuff) and without comment:
...Respondent [State Board of Elections] Motion To Dismiss on the basis of seven enumerated grounds should be denied in its entirety and the matter should be remanded to Respondent [State Board of Elections] for adoption of an early voting plan for Watauga County consistent with this Order.
Upon review of the whole record, the Court makes the following conclusions:
1. Under the unique circumstances in this case, Respondent's early voting plan for Watauga County is subject to judicial review by the Wake County Superior Court under N.C. Gen. Stat. 163-22(a).
2. The Court has jurisdiction to exercise judicial review of this matter.
3. Upon review, questions of law are considered de novo.
4. The early voting plan Respondent adopted for Watauga County affects not only a substantial right, but a constitutional right of young voters in that county who are students at Appalachian State University (ASU).
5. The majority plan of the Watauga County Board of Elections on its face appears to have as a major purpose the elimination of an early voting site on the ASU campus. Based on this record, the court can conclude no other intent from that board's decision other than to discourage student voting. A decision based on that intent is a significant infringement of students' rights to vote and rises to the level of a constitutional violation of the right to vote.
6. The early voting plan submitted by the majority members of the Watauga County Board of Elections was arbitrary and capricious. All the credible evidence indicates that the sole purpose of that plan was to eliminate an early voting site on campus so as to discourage student voting and, as such, it is unconstitutional.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is DENIED in its entirety, that this matter is REMANDED to Respondent and that, upon remand, Respondent is directed to adopt an early voting plan for Watauga County for the 2014 November general election that includes at least one early voting site on the ASU campus.
This the 13th day of October, 2014.
Donald W. Stephens, President Superior Court Judge

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Blame Dick Burr and 95 Other Senators for Your "Activist Judge"

Tami Fitzgerald
Soon after Asheville Federal Judge declared Amendment One unconstitutional on Friday, 50s-throw-back Tami Fitzgerald of the NC Values Coalition issued a deliberately misleading statement attacking him as an "activist judge":
“Today over 60% of the voters in North Carolina are disheartened to learn that the actions of an activist judge who was appointed by Obama and confirmed by Kay Hagan could so easily override the will of the people, but we take heart in knowing that marriage – that defined by God – can never truly be redefined.
“This is why our US Senate election is so important. The US Senate is responsible for confirming federal judges, and we don’t want Kay Hagan to continue appointing activist liberal judges like Judge Cogburn.” – Tami Fitzgerald, NC Values Coalition
Fitzgerald blamed Kay Hagan (and, of course, "Obama") for this abomination of a Federal judge, but Seth Effron offered the truth on Politics North Carolina:
Here’s what [Republican Senator Dick] Burr said about Cogburn during his Nov. 17, 2010 confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee: “He is an excellent choice and I believe will be a great addition to the court. … He was admitted to the bar in 1976 and has made a name for himself, with a strong record in his legal career and in public service; an assistant U.S. attorney; a chief assistant U.S. attorney; magistrate judge; and, currently, a partner at Cogburn & Brazil. During his 12 years as a federal prosecutor, he was also the lead attorney on the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force. As an assistant U.S. attorney, he was responsible for prosecuting murder cases, drug trafficking, voter fraud, among other federal crimes. … Out of all the qualifications that Max Cogburn brings to this nomination, let me say this. He is a good man and we need good individuals to serve on our bench. I highly recommend to the Committee that we move as expeditiously this nominee as we can.” ...
In the highly partisan environment in pre-2012 election Washington, his nomination was approved 96-0 on March 10, 2011. Support came from Republicans Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Jim DeMint, then a Republican from South Carolina.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Tami Fitzgerald.

The Rand Paul Shrug About Gay Marriage

From The Hill

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) gave a noncommittal shrug when asked if he might ever rethink his position on gay marriage.

"I believe in old-fashioned traditional marriage, but I don't really think the government needs to be too involved in this and I think the Republican Party can have people on both sides of the issue," Paul told CNN when asked in South Carolina if the GOP could win going forward considering most younger voters support gay marriage.

He then threw his hands up in a half-shrug, half-grimace when asked if he could rethink his own position at some point.

We Have a Constitution to Protect Minorities

Saturday, October 11, 2014

It's Over, and Good Riddance

U.S. District Court Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr. in Asheville issued a ruling shortly after 5 p.m. Friday declaring unconstitutional North Carolina's Amendment One, the gay-marriage ban approved by state voters in 2012.

Cogburn's ruling followed Monday's announcement by the U.S. Supreme Court that it would not hear any appeal of a July ruling by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond striking down Virginia's gay-marriage ban. Judge Cogburn's ruling allowed the first same-sex weddings in the state to begin immediately, and they did.

Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger kept his Asheville office upon until 7 p.m., issuing some 19 marriage licenses to same-sex couple, several of whom were married within the hour.

"It wasn't until I issued the second license that the tears came," Reisinger said shortly after issuing the last license of the day. "It has been heartbreaking to decline these marriage licenses for three and a half years based on discriminatory laws. It was an honor to be able to say yes." (Asheville Citizen-Times)

Meanwhile, in Watauga County, the Register of Deeds office in Boone refused to issue a license to the first same-sex couple who came in. That will have to change, and fast.

Goodbye, Amendment One, it's been no pleasure at all knowing you. Wonder how much you cost the state, how much you're still costing the state in high-priced lawyers hired by Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger? They need to get a grip and stop playing to the bigots.

It's over. Thank God, it's over.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Why Don't Republicans Try to Win Young Voters Rather Than Suppress Them?

Judge Hopgood
The expedited hearing on the Watauga County voting rights lawsuit will be heard in Judge Robert Hopgood's courtroom in the Wake Superior Court on Monday. Plaintiffs are alleging systematic and collusive moves by the Watauga County Board of Elections, sustained by the North Carolina Board of Elections, to discourage voting by 18-25 year-olds, which constitute the largest youth demographic of any North Carolina county with a major university in it.

We all know what they've been up to, despite their denials. Even fair-minded Republicans know.

But, really, why show hostility toward young voters rather than try to win their hearts and minds? Why not mount a campaign to win their votes rather than hatch back-room deals to move polling places away from them?

Could it be that the Republicans are peddling ideas that the young won't buy? With gay marriage bans crumbling away like a melting glacier in Greenland, what do Republican leaders in North Carolina do? They certainly don't admit that they were wrong, nor do they express tolerance let alone acceptance for gay citizens seeking the right to marry. No, Senate candidate Thom Tillis and Republican Boss/strongman Phil Berger rather attempt to intervene (at North Carolina taxpayer expense) in that Federal courtroom in Greensboro to stop Judge William Osteen from declaring Amendment One unconstitutional.

That's the contemporary North Carolina Republican Party in a nutshell. Deny, obstruct, spread more hatred, look backward as the future hits you in the butt.

Young people have moved on. The Republican Party can't or won't move on. So they do everything they can to keep the young from voting. That's not going to work for them, not in the long run.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

NCGOP Jumps the Racist Shark

The North Carolina Republican Party has now successfully inhabited the racism of Southern Democrats, circa 1920. Congratulations, NCGOP, for finally and visibly embracing your true heritage. You ARE the racists of modern America.

Yes, the Jonathan Jordan mailer depicting grandmotherly challenger Sue Counts standing next to a very angry and threatening black man (photoshopped, naturally) was "Paid for by the North Carolina Republican Party."

Which means, O my brethren, that this same mailer is going out in every House district race (and Senate race?) that the Republicans feel slipping away from them ... just like the Dems-candidates-in-sombreroes mailers went out in 2010 all across the state.

It wounds my heart and sickens me deep in the marrow to see this blatant appeal to hatred and fear still so much alive in the North Carolina of 2014. Jesse Helms must be sitting up in his earth-bed, saying, "Wow, you guys! Way to go! We WILL set this state back a hundred years YET!"

North Carolina Republicans are going to richly deserve what they're about to get. They've earned the contempt of every forward-looking, constructive, good-will-sharing, and yes, Christian North Carolinian. Jonathan Jordan cannot hide behind the claim that he didn't know this bilge was going out for his benefit. He knew. He approved. He deserves what he's going to get.

They have destroyed themselves with this kind of filth. May they go down hard.

(And, no, I'm not about to put a picture of that disgusting mailer on this blog. It's all over Facebook and Twitter. Go find it for yourself.)

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Jonathan Jordan Plays the Race Card

Weren't we all waiting for this? Instead of Cullie Tarleton pictured in a sombrero, the racist image Jordan used in 2010, he's now out with a mail piece showing his challenger Sue Counts side by side with an angry black man.

Classy, Mr. Jordan.

We didn't expect any less.

When a Photograph Is Worth a Thousand Words

Sen. Dan Soucek and Rep. Jonathan Jordan were no-shows at last night's candidate forum hosted by the North Carolina Association of Educators at Cove Creek School.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Amendment One Dead, But GOP Vows Resurrection of the Corpse

Judge William Osteen
Federal Judge William Osteen of the Middle District of North Carolina in Greensboro is moving slowly -- some would say deliberately -- toward declaring Amendment One unconstitutional. He's given both sides ten days for "status reports" on cases pending in his court before he takes action.

Make no mistake: Amendment One, outlawing gay marriage in NC, is dead. Osteen is just finding his mallet and polishing it up before he drives that wooden stake through the heart of unequal treatment under the law.

How The Supremes Did So Much by Doing Nothing
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear appeals by anti-gay marriage proponents from a number of states in which other Federal judges had thrown out laws similar to North Carolina's. Those lower court rulings had been upheld in several courts of appeal, including in the Fourth Circuit, where Virginia's anti-gay marriage law was declared unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court's denial of review means that those Circuit Court rulings are the law of the land, at least in the states covered by those circuits. North Carolina is covered by the Fourth Circuit.

Judge Osteen was already hearing two cases in his courtroom brought against North Carolina's ban. He put those cases on hold, waiting for the Supreme Court to act. Yesterday, after The Supremes didn't act, he told both sides in the two cases before him that he believes he is now mandated to overturn NC's anti-gay law and he ordered litigants to give him in writing notice about any problems before he moves to "summary judgment" (notice the "without argument," because arguing is now over):
...this court orders that the parties file a status report, without argument, detailing the following matters: (1) whether the parties agree with this court’s suggestion as to the effect of [the Fourth Circuit decision] on this case as set out herein; (2) whether any discovery is required as to either of these cases prior to proceeding to summary judgment; (3) what issues remain for resolution by this court in each of these cases with respect to the challenged adoption laws; and (4) what the parties suggest in terms of additional briefing on any remaining issues.
The Three Amigos Put Themselves Even Further on the Wrong Side of History
We expected Tami Fitzgerald, head of the NC Values Coalition and a big enemy of gay people, to go off like a well-coifed roman candle about what the Supreme Court ... didn't do. And she did.

And, strategic political thinking being what it currently is for the state's GOP, we fully expected leading Republicans to foam a bit at the mouth, mainly in an effort to rev up their listless base about "the gay agenda" and the imminent collapse of civilization.

Thom Tillis and Phil Berger, the chief architects of Amendment One who on other days cordially despise one another, were quick with a joint statement, recalling that May 2012 triumph when the state gave a big vote for Amendment One. Not much foam in this statement, really, but at least some standard political word salad free of nutrition:
The people of North Carolina have spoken, and while the Supreme Court has not issued a definitive ruling on the issue of traditional marriage, we are hopeful they will soon. Until then, we will vigorously defend the values of our state and the will of more than 60 percent of North Carolina voters who made it clear that marriage is between one man and one woman.
"Vigorously defend the values." By which they mean "vigorously defend the right of a prejudiced majority to impose unequal treatment under the law on a despised minority." Yeah, we got that!

McCrory (bless his heart!) was far less "vigorous" in his statement:
I disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision, which goes against the amendment that North Carolina voters overwhelmingly approved. We will continue to respect the legal process as it proceeds.
What? It's as though the governor is fading away before our very eyes, a mere mist of a hint of a human personality. It's good, we guess, that he has "respect" for processes over which he has never had any control.

Has State Representative Jonathan Jordan issued a statement on yesterday's developments?

Has Senator Dan Soucek? He was certainly the biggest champion for Amendment One in these precincts.

Someone will certainly want to let young voters know where Thom Tillis stands on the unconstitutional denial of equality to a segment of our citizenry, and where Jordan and Soucek stand too, if they want to make a big ole public show of beating a very dead horse.

Monday, October 06, 2014

BREAKING NEWS: SCOTUS Gives Its Blessing to Gay Marriage in North Carolina

The Supreme Court about an hour ago turned aside all seven appeals of Circuit Court decisions overturning gay marriage bans in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

But, more to the point for North Carolinians, the decision not to hear appeals from gay marriage opponents, means it's suddenly about to be legal in several other states: "Couples in six other states — Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming — should be able to get married in short order. Those states would be bound by the same appellate rulings that were put on hold pending the Supreme Court's review." (Winston-Salem Journal coverage)

All we need is an order from a Federal judge in the Middle District of North Carolina in Greensboro.

Goodbye, Amendment One! So happy to see you go!

Friday, October 03, 2014

The Voter Reg. Group Blocked From High Point Univ. Was a Conservative Org.

Meet Leigh Thomas, the chair of the High Point University Young Republicans, who since yesterday has become the poster child for voter suppression. She was videotaped laying down the law to campus security that she did not -- positively did not -- want any voter registration happening on her campus:

“I understand the registration process. I’m just not sure if this is something I would want to have on this High Point University campus, the registration of voting."

The video made the rounds yesterday morning on social media before it was made "private," but it soon reemerged and has become ever more famous.

Chad Nance at Camel City Dispatch has done due diligence in tracking down the agencies and personalities revealed here, and it's fairly amazing to discover that the independent voter registration effort at High Point University was being conducted by Turning Point USA, a conservative group promoting Republican policies.

Nance extrapolates the reasoning non-thinking process employed by Young Republican Leigh Thomas, who apparently has the power at High Point University to order campus security to do things to her liking:
So what is behind this ding-bat decision? Has Thomas gotten a crazy notion that “Only liberals like registering voters” somewhere in the un-plumbed depths of this young lady’s mind? Is the state party apparatus so terrified of the mythological youth vote that they have ordered college Republican groups to do whatever is in their power to make sure that no new voters are minted on university grounds? Has Thomas been so conditioned by repetitive exposure to propaganda geared toward convincing Republicans that the entire elections system is rife with fraud, registering voters might be a little gay, and a small group of elites with a right to vote based on economic status might be a pretty good idea down the line?
Is this spill-over from the very real efforts by the North Carolina GOP establishment to clamp down on and marginalize truly grassroots activists and candidates? ...
Young Republicans take orders from up the food-chain, and they've been told that registering their age group is just bad for maintaining Republican power.

We don't know from nothing about High Point University, but Chad Nance seems authoritative in his characterization of that campus:
HPU is the school where rich people send their dumb kids who can’t cut it at elite schools. They’ve spent millions of dollars transforming themselves into a Walt Disney version of a university where the one-percenters can install their kids, apparently safe in the knowledge that some of them won’t let crazy notions about democracy and doubting the growing American oligarchy get into their pretty, little heads.
Well, okay then. Perhaps that explains one of the more bizarre moments in the 2014 election cycle in North Carolina, where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great.

McCrory Now Backing Into Medicaid Expansion

We certainly missed this story from earlier this week, but it appears that the McCrory administration is caving -- slowly caving -- on the issue of Medicaid expansion in North Carolina, which health care advocates have been screaming about for almost two years. "Options" are supposedly being developed for McCrory, who will present his recommendation to the meat grinder in the General Assembly.

We hesitate to give McCrory any credit whatsoever for political calculation, but by January 2015 there are bound to be changes in the General Assembly, some of which might improve the ability of the majority there to think beyond their ideological ruts. Nothing focuses the mind like a reminder of mortality.

Below are excerpts from interviews with McCrory's administrator of the Department of Health and Human Services, Aldona Wos, and with NC’s Medicaid Director Dr. Robin Cummings (original, much longer interview by Tim Boyum of Time Warner Cable News is here, and the interview with David Crabtree and Laura Leslie of WRAL News is here). Hattip to Adam Searing for the excerpts and for shining a light on this development.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe?

Rand Paul: "I want more people to vote, not less”

Rand Paul, who's clearly running for president in 2016, was in Raleigh yesterday to campaign for Thom Tillis for U.S. Senate. He endorsed Tillis's main Tea Party rival Greg Brannon in last May's primary.

Paul is seriously out of step with Tillis on the issue of voter suppression. Tillis engineered the passage of the new voter suppression laws in North Carolina (parts of which were overturned by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday). A major portion of that new law shortened Early Voting by a full week.

This is what Rand Paul told the Associated Press earlier this week:
“I think it’s a dumb idea to spend a lot of time on Republicans trying to change early voting. My position is I want more people to vote, not less.” ...
He is critical of the GOP’s push to require voters to present photo identification at the polls and reduce early voting in some states, moves criticized as efforts to suppress participation by minority voters who typically support Democrats....
“I’ve cautioned Republicans, ‘You need to be aware of peoples’ perceptions,'” he said. “If the perception [of voter suppression] is out there, why don’t you start talking about something good, like restoring peoples’ right to vote?”
It's not just a "perception," Mr. Paul, especially in Watauga County but also across North Carolina, that Republicans in power are doing everything they can to discourage the votes of people that they perceive as opposing their policies. One of those groups singled out for suppression are young people, the demographic that Rand Paul will be seriously courting in 2016.

How out of step is Rand Paul with the mainstream of the contemporary GOP? How many North Carolina Republicans would actually say the words, "I want more people to vote, not less," and if by accident or by design that line should actually fall from Republican lips, do you actually believe they would mean it?

Thom Tillis and Rand Paul, together? Naw. We ain't buying it. It's pure self-interested politics, a shadow cast on the wall, a game, and a fraud.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Breaking News: 4th Circuit Stays Some Parts of NC Voting Law

From WRAL:
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has blocked two provisions of North Carolina's controversial elections law from being used in the November election. Same-day registration will be allowed during early voting, and votes cast outside of one's precinct will be counted. Other provisions of the 2013 law, such as a shorter early voting period, remain in effect.

Tectonic Update: North Carolina & Kansas, Together at Last

The exceedingly bright Thomas Mills writes today about how Kansas and North Carolina became "laboratories" for far-right, ALEC-sponsored experiments in dismantling the social compact, moving as much of government as possible to private contractors, including public education, while unleashing the polluters and the pillagers and shifting more of the tax burden to the middle class while coddling the rich.

Just a sample:
...Both states are seeing a public backlash.
Just like North Carolina, Gov. Sam Brownback and the Republican legislature slashed taxes on the wealthiest while raising them on the poor, promising that the changes would spur economic growth. It didn’t happen in either state. Kansas has seen a hole in its budget so large that its bond rating was downgraded. North Carolina already has a 10% drop in revenue and we are still a couple of years behind Kansas.
In Kansas, Republican Brownback won by double digits in 2010. Today, he’s trailing his Democratic opponent, Rep. Paul Davis. More than 100 Republican elected and former elected officials endorsed Davis.
If Pat McCrory were running this year, he would likely face similar numbers. But he’s not. Instead, all of our legislature is up for re-election. And the numbers aren’t far off of Kansas. In districts that should be safe for Republicans, they are trailing. Thom Tillis is losing his race to Kay Hagan right now largely because ofhis record as speaker of the house....