Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The 2012 NC Election in the WashPost

Longish article in yesterday's WashPost (hattip: J.S.) which digs into the political dynamic in North Carolina which will make it a key battleground state in next year's presidential contest. We are told in this article that "many Republicans" (obviously not including those in the NC General Assembly, who are obliviously drunk with power) are worried ... but let this paragraph speak for itself:
Many Republicans worry that their party hasn’t entirely grasped the evolving nature of the South. To them, that means fully giving up on what was known as the “Southern strategy,” an approach to winning elections based largely on appeals to rural whites on cultural touchstones such as abortion and race.
Hey, WashPost reporter! You forgot Dan Soucek's favorite "issue" of gay marriage!

But the reporter did get some recent history correct (though not mentioned in what follows is that both Sen. Steve Goss and Rep. Cullie Tarleton were the targets of the Art Pope et al. slime machine, which benefitted, yep!, Bobblehead Dan Soucek and ex-Pope staffer Jonathan Jordan):
Not all Republicans are ready to abandon the “Southern strategy,” a game plan that Helms famously used to great effect as recently as 1990 with a TV ad stoking white resentment over affirmative action. Even last year, amid a Republican surge, the tactic appeared in some rural corners in the form of a racially provocative mail piece.

Paid for by the state GOP and sent into a half-dozen legislative districts, the mailer took aim at a North Carolina law passed by Democrats that allows death-row inmates to appeal their sentences on the grounds of racial bias.

“It had a photo of a black person who was intended to look like a criminal,” said Joe Hackney, the Democratic minority leader of the state House.
Nor was it lost on the reporter why the new Republican majority in the General Assembly is mucking around with voting access, like imposing a new photo i.d. requirement and limiting early voting:
Yet Republicans continue to give Democrats material to portray the GOP as out of step. In Raleigh, the Republican-controlled General Assembly is considering bills that would curtail early voting and voter registration and require a photo identification to cast a ballot.

Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis said the measures are intended to reduce voter fraud or costs, but Democrats say they are really about blocking young and minority voters. At the end of two weeks of early voting in 2008, 2.6 million North Carolinians had cast ballots — more than turned out on Election Day. And Obama won the early vote by about 170,000.

“They changed the universe in North Carolina,” said Tom Fetzer, a former state GOP chairman and former Raleigh mayor. “They changed the universe of people who voted.”

Monday, May 30, 2011

Dan Soucek: Coddling the Rich While Gutting the Schools

Dan Soucek's recent crocodile tears for how badly he feels about slashing education spending in the state needs to be put in perspective, because Rob Schofield is reporting on where the rest of the NC Senate budget is shelling out money: to the richest 1% of our citizens, who apparently need a big tax cut while the schools go (literally) begging.

According to preliminary analysis by the NC Budget and Tax Center (via Mr. Schofield) the new Republican majority in the NC Senate proposes to reduce taxes by this formula:
...the average annual income tax cut for people in the bottom quintile (i.e. the lowest 20% of incomes) will be $5....

Middle income folks will see a cut of a whopping $46 – enough to buy most of a tank of gas.

And the wealthiest 1% of North Carolinians? Well, not that they’ll probably notice it either, but the Senate income tax cuts alone will provide them with a cool $1,830 per year — enough to buy some of the lower priced jewelry at Newt and Callista Gingrich’s favorite store.

Mr. Soucek can take his HUGE FAKE PAIN about cutting education spending and try to peddle that bilge elsewhere.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Judge Manning Wants to Know What the Hell Is Going On

RALEIGH (MCT) -- In a move that could complicate the already tense state budget negotiations in Raleigh, a judge has ordered a court hearing about whether proposed school cuts would compromise children's constitutional right to a quality education.

Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard E. Manning Jr. issued an order for a hearing June 22 at the Wake County Courthouse.

In the order, Manning wrote that despite the difficult economic environment, the state still has to meet the needs of all children.

"The financial crisis notwithstanding, the basic educational assets guaranteed to each and every child in the North Carolina Public Schools must remain in place in every school and classroom in the State of North Carolina," Manning wrote in his May 20 order.

The order is a response to a May 10 motion filed by plaintiffs, the Hoke County Board of Education and the Asheville City Board of Education, against the state and the State Board of Education. Cited in the motion is the state's move to curtail preschool programs for at-risk children and eliminate end-of-course tests for high school students.

The hearing is the latest development related to a landmark school finance lawsuit known as Leandro. The suit, brought by plaintiffs in low-wealth rural counties, led to two Supreme Court rulings that the state constitution guarantees every child in North Carolina an opportunity to "a sound basic education" in public schools. The decision was interpreted to mean that all children have a right to a certified, well-trained teacher in a school with a competent principal and the resources to meet their educational needs.

Manning, who has presided over the case that dates to the 1990s, could not be reached.

The order puts the judge at odds with his fellow Republicans, who control the legislature and who propose sizable cuts to education as the state grapples with a $2.5 billion budget shortfall....

More at the News&Observer.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Oh, It's Crystal Clear All Right

Rep. Virginia Foxx proposed an amendment to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which passed the House Wednesday by a vote of 234 to 182. The amendment would ban health centers from using federal funds for comprehensive medical training, which often includes instruction in abortion procedures including common gynecological procedures such as dilation and curettage.

Foxx was outraged that medical students might learn procedures that could actually save women's lives.

Foxx likes to claim that she was once an educator.

She said in a statement, “This amendment ensures that the grants being provided to teaching health centers are not being used to perform elective abortion, makes it crystal clear that taxpayer money is not being used to train healthcare providers to perform abortion procedures…."

"Crystal clear"? What's abundantly plain to the naked eye is the determined march of the most repressive elements in the modern Republican Party (but we repeat ourselves!) to create the Republic of Gilead.

There's evil. And then there's jaw-dropping stupidity.

Mike McIntyre of the NC-7 and Heath Shuler of the NC-11 voted with Foxx on this amendment.

Raleigh GOP: "Not Smart Governing"

Considered negative opinions on the food-fight in the Clown College in Raleigh continue to snowball, this one by the editorial staff at the Charlotte Observer, an item titled "Penny Foolish." Hard to isolate just one short quote about the new Republican majority in the General Assembly, and their dunderheaded leaders, but this one will have to do:
"...No matter how thick the lenses on their rose-colored glasses, their solutions to a $2.5 billion budget shortfall that certainly demands some budget reductions are too drastic when it comes to public education at all levels, cuts in Medicaid for the poor, the cutoff of money for passenger rail projects and a reduction in important services for the sick...."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dick Burr Mistakes His Thumb for a Magic Wand

How did Sen. Dick Burr vote yesterday on the Paul Ryan plan to turn Medicare into a Republican coupon worth approximately 13 aspirin? He voted for it, natch! He's one of only 40 Republican senators who've decided to make what Jennifer Steinhauer at the NYTimes calls a "chin-out" defense of a scheme that would effectively end Medicare.

All righty then! The Ryan "end Medicare" budget is now about as popular as prickly heat in August. So deciding to lead with one's chin when one's biceps have gone soft like pudding might seem a strange sparring technique, but Burr perhaps figgers he has almost six years for people to forget where he stood on this issue before he has to stand on his record.

The Republican senators who said "no thank you very much" to the Ryan scheme and who voted with the Democrats to defeat it?
Scott P. Brown of Massachusetts
Susan Collins of Maine
Olympia J. Snowe of Maine
Lisa Murkowski of Alaska

Lisa Murkowski, ever since the Palin tea partiers ran a candidate against her in last year's Republican primary, and after she won reelection anyway as a write-in candidate, has been saying "up yours" right regularly to the mullahs of conservatism ever since.

A fifth Republican senator also voted "no" on the Ryan budget, and he's a bit of a surprise: Rand Paul of Kentucky, who bears no resemblance to the other four except that he breathes air. According to Steinhauer of the Times, Paul thought the Ryan scheme was just too weak.

Remind me to send a sympathy card to the voters of Kentucky.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Thom Tillis: "You Must Respect My Authori-tie!"

Rev. William Barber, head of the NC NAACP, was arrested yesterday in the gallery of the NC House, along with six others after quoting Micah 6:8 rather loudly:

"Do Justice, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly With God."

So far the venerable leader has been at every public protest we've attended in Raleigh, and at a lot more that we didn't get to, and so far he's the only leader in the state willing to be arrested rather than sit silent and watch this new thuggish Republican majority in Raleigh take us all back to the 19th century in one single session of the General Assembly.

Rev. Barber has asked for a meeting with Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis, who is now playing Aunt Pittypat, fanning himself furiously and pursing those lips at such disrespect for his Exalted Highness.

Mark Binker adds detail:
...In one particularly awkward moment, police were holding Barber in front an elevator preparing to escort him out. Tillis came down the stairs and was immediately confronted by a protestor asking about a meeting with Barber.

“When I have a respectful request I'll be happy to meet with people who treat my House with respect,” Tillis said.

One protestor replied, “Your house? We're paying for it. It's our house.

Tornadoes and Global Climate Change

From the NYTimes, this considered opinion, which we appreciate, along with the "scientists are reluctant" disclaimer tucked in here for that all-important CYA moment:
Q: Can the intensity of this year’s tornadoes be blamed on climate change?

A: Probably not. Over all, the number of violent tornadoes has been declining in the United States, even as temperatures have increased, making it likely that this year’s twister outbreak is simply a remarkable and terrifying — but natural — event. Climate science has long predicted that global warming will cause more weather extremes, however, and statistics suggest that this has started to happen. In most areas of the world where good weather data is available, instances of heavy precipitation are rising, often leading to flash flooding. And the same thing is true of heat waves; in the United States, new high-temperature records for a given date now occur twice as often as record lows. That said, scientists are reluctant to attribute any specific weather event to global warming. And, at least so far, only a handful of studies have suggested that tornadoes are likely to become more frequent or more intense on a warming planet. Frustratingly, it is likely to be a year or two before we get good published analyses of the causes for this season’s strange weather — and it may be decades before science can conclusively demonstrate whether or not human-driven warming is affecting tornado frequency. — JOHN COLLINS RUDOLF and JUSTIN GILLIS

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Domino Effect

The Charlotte Observer picks up and republishes the Durham Herald-Sun editorial criticizing our own state Sen. Dan Soucek's dickishness.

Are we proud or what?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dan Soucek, More Wrong than RIGHT

Editorial in the Durham Herald-Sun:
Sen. Dan Soucek, R-Watauga, believes that the North Carolina constitution should enshrine "correct moral standards."

That's what he told a crowd of more than 3,000 people who rallied in Raleigh on Tuesday. Soucek sponsored a bill that would put a constitutional question on November's ballot: Should "marriage between a man and a woman [be] the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized"?

Soucek is wrong on two counts.

First, the constitution should enshrine the precious rights of the people of North Carolina.

Those broadly stated rights allow us to uphold the more narrow moral standards we deem correct, most of which are described in state statutes. But Soucek and his supporters believe that same-sex unions, presently outlawed by state statute, are reprehensible.

Their devotion to what they frame as a religious principle so thoroughly outweighs their devotion to the principles of democracy that they want to change the nature of the state constitution -- from enumerating rights to enumerating actions the state will not tolerate.

This brings us to Soucek's second error: He is wrong on principle.

The government's proper sphere is to create and uphold a system of laws that applies to all of its subjects.

Marriage is a religious sacrament, but for the state's purposes, it is shorthand for a contract that describes the rights and responsibilities of the parties involved.

When the state gets involved, it is a fundamental question of civil, not moral, rights.

The state prohibits minors and the mentally deficient from entering into contracts, but consenting adults have broad rights to enter agreements with others -- from cell phone contracts to mortgages.The government has no proper role in prohibiting two consenting adults of the same sex from entering into a contractual relationship enjoyed by other adults. In the case of marriage, where the responsibilities come paired with rights like inheritance, shared insurance and child custody, the state has an even greater responsibility to ensure fair access.

We have great confidence that, if a constitutional ban on marriage appears on November's ballot, North Carolinians of conscience will vote it down.

It's a shame that there may not be enough of them in the legislature.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Disagree with the governor on this one.

If it's bad, it deserves a veto ... not a namby-pamby response.Link

Race Politics at the Clown College

NC House GOP leaders use trickery to make it easier (they hope) to repeal the Racial Justice Act.

Meanwhile, "more than 40 percent of people on North Carolina's death row were sentenced to death by a jury that was either all white or included only one person of color. The studies also found that in selecting juries, prosecutors statewide struck qualified blacks from the jury pool at more than twice the rate as whites."

And no matter that a successful appeal by a death row inmate in NC under the Racial Justice Act would keep the inmate in jail for life anyway, the bloody-minded Republicans just tend to feel all cozy and comfortable at the thought of an over-stuffed death row.

I like Matt Robinson's reaction.

Friday, May 20, 2011

O the Humanity

Hope this billboard was prepaid!

So far, I've gotten three Facebook invitations for various "left-behind" gatherings on Sunday, including one notification of "post-Rapture pillaging."

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Birds of a Feather...

Republican senators, including our own Dick Burr, successfully filibustered a bill that would have denied the big oil companies multi-billions in tax subsidies -- billions -- because hey! you don't peck at the hands giving you big fat worms of campaign cash.

Legislating Superior Morality

Sen. Dan Soucek was one of the stars at yesterday's Screw Gay People rally in Raleigh. People were literally thumping their Bibles in support of Soucek's proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in the state.

According to the Raleigh News & Observer, Soucek really said that he is determined to write "correct moral standards" into the North Carolina constitution.

How will we know the standards are "correct"? Because Soucek wrote them, duh.

The Soucek scheme is to get this proposed amendment through both houses of the General Assembly and then onto the ballot for public approval in November of 2012. With the economic dunderheadedness of the new Republican majority in Raleigh losing steam rapidly, the state's GOP needs something to rally the troops to the polls for the next elections. So ... why not religious bigotry? It's worked before, right?

And in case you're still giving this bunch the benefit of the doubt, that they're just well meaning throw-backs to the 19th century who ultimately mean no one any lasting harm, pay attention to what Forsyth Republican Party Chair Nathan Tabor announced yesterday: "There is no separation of church and state," Tabor told the crowd, telling them that God will judge them if they don't vote as Christians should.

Power and earthly control. Just like Jesus taught.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Raleigh GOP: "McHenry Doesn't Speak For Us!"

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-Munchkinville) told Politico several weeks ago that he was an insider in the North Carolina redistricting cabal and that Republicans would ghettoize blacks in order to defeat Democratic Congressmen Brad Miller, Larry Kissell, and Heath Shuler. It was an expression of race politics in its rawest form.

North Carolina Republican pooh-bahs have been scrambling ever since to distance themselves from McHenry's comments (while secretly, of course, performing the exact mumbo-jumbo that he predicted).

Raleigh cabal leaders pretty convincingly told McHenry to go fornicate himself on Sunday.

Ashe County Firing 10 Elementary Teachers

Thank you, Jonathan Jordan and Dan Soucek!

Good Advice?

Politico, profiling House Speaker John Boehner's inner circle:
"...And he’s allowed — surprisingly, given Boehner’s low-key style — conservative firebrand Virginia Foxx into the inner circle, perhaps to keep the pulse of the anxious right wing of the party."

Or perhaps it's because she always has purloined food in her over-size bag. Boehner loves muffins.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Social Engineering, the Foxx Way

On March 20, 2010, Rep. Virginia Foxx called health-insurance reform (what she otherwise always refers to as "Obamacare") "one of the most offensive pieces of social engineering legislation in the history of the United States."

On May 5 of this year, Foxx strutted her stuff in a tweet: "Yesterday the House passed a permanent ban on taxpayer-funded abortion .... I voted in favor."

By which she means that the new Republican majority in the U.S. House has taken steps to prohibit any poor woman on Medicaid with a big problem from getting an abortion.

How come that's not social engineering, of the grossest, most intrusive kind?

She's against social engineering except when it's Right Wing politicians doing the specs.

Newt: That Dog Won't Hunt

Madam Virginia Foxx was first in line to sign on enthusiastically with Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to end Medicare.

Yesterday, presidential aspirant and serial adulterer Newt Gingrich threw both of 'em on the bonfire of the vanities, saying on "Meet the Press" that the Ryan plan was too "radical."

Because she holds no -- ZERO -- open town hall meetings, Virginia Foxx has not had the ineffable opportunity to hear from anybody in the 5th District, except her most ardent butt-smoochers. She always claims that everybody always tells her how splendiferous she's performing in Mugstomp-on-the-Potomac.

Even Newt Gingrich doesn't think so.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Jordan Votes to Limit Early Voting

The NC House Elections Committee voted yesterday along strictly partisan lines to eliminate a whole week of Early Voting, probably the most popular reform to the voting system in North Carolina in decades.

Rep. Jonathan Jordan is not only a member of that committee; he's a co-chair.

We've learned that if there's one thing Republican members of the new legislative majority in Raleigh will drop everything to take care of, it's any initiative to limit people's ability to vote.

Jordan, another shining exemplar of Art Pope Values.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dan Soucek's Crowd in the NC Senate

Watauga County's own bobblehead in the NC Senate isn't going to be able to distance himself from his own Republican caucus. They want to cut K-12 education even more than the Republican majority in the NC House.

Laura Leslie of WRAL in Raleigh has video of Senate Democratic Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt's reaction to Mr. Soucek and his colleagues' plans for public education in this state:

"We are destroying the public school system in this state, period," Nesbitt said, pointing out that K-12 schools had already faced two years of steep cuts under the Democrats. "When you've got those cuts already, and you put these on top of them, it's just a death blow .... They're not doing this because they have to. They're doing this because they want to," he said. "I'm beginning to see a pattern here that makes me think the Republican party doesn't like public schools."

Ya reckon?

Gov. Perdue is described as "thoroughly angry" at the Senate's proposal for public education spending, and a spokeswoman for The Guv said, "It’s hard to imagine how far backward this would take our state. If not dead last, then close to it. And that’s not a place we can afford to be right now."

Proud legacy there, Mr. Soucek! But then, everybody should be enrolling their kids in Christian academies anyway, right?

NC GOP: Controlling Women Is JOB ONE

"Jobs, jobs, jobs"???

No, it's "Control, humiliate, subjugate."

The new raft of anti-abortion laws being blissfully introduced in the NC General Assembly by the most extreme and repressive elements of the contemporary Republican Party (but I repeat myself) aims to take women as far back into the Victorian past as the Supreme Court will allow ... which is plenty far back.

Young women especially are going to have to fight back or watch the theocracy set up a circus tent over their vaginas.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


This from Lauren Ohnesorge's article on the 17.7% cut being gleefully imposed on the NC University system by the new Republican majority in the NC General Assembly:
"...Repeated calls to Jonathan Jordan, the representative for the area that includes Appalachian State University who voted for the House budget, had not been returned at press time...."

Meanwhile, Dan Soucek in the NC Senate is dithering, trying for the optical illusion that what he independently thinks matters at all, because he'll never cast any vote in the Senate that his Republican overlords don't order him to cast.

Where’s the Fat?

The Watauga County Commission has now completed over eight hours of review of County Manager Rocky Nelson’s proposed budget for FY 2012. Mr. Nelson calls his plan “a subsistence budget,” an apt description, though “austerity budget” might work as well.

One thing is glaringly clear: there was no “fat” in the Watauga County budget, despite last year’s campaign rhetoric by the three new Republican members of the commission. Cuts at this point go into muscle and bone. If the Republican commissioners had carried through on their aborted quarter-cent sales tax increase ... but that’s an “if” of only historic interest now, the Mother of All Botches. (Urging caution near the end of last night’s final session, Commission Chair Nathan Miller offered this self-critique: “We go off half-cocked enough. At least, I do.”)

The big unknown is still the Watauga public schools system. Mr. Nelson’s proposed budget adds over $400,000 to the schools that had been cut during the last two budgetary years. Many citizens do not understand that some 87 positions were already lost from the schools in the last couple of years. Superintendent Marty Hemric outlined for the Commission additional austerity measures that are coming: an end to subsidized dental insurance, the cutting of cultural arts programs, the cutting of Mountain Alliance, reduced travel for staff development.

The School Board is asking for an additional $784,000 from the county to make up a projected shortfall of some $1.2 million, based on what the new Republican majority in the NC General Assembly are promising to do. Even with that additional money from the county, the schools would still need to lose nine teacher positions and nine teacher assistants, plus likely reductions in high school athletics, band, and driver’s education. Mr. Hemric warned the commissioners that the Board of Education is “on the brink” of forcing two grade levels into the same classroom for a single teacher to deal with.

Commissioner Jim Deal floated an idea for meeting at least most of the schools’ shortfall. Because the debt service will go down by several hundred thousands of $$ during the next three years, almost $2 million of the $4.5 million Mr. Nelson proposes to set aside from the fund balance could be available now for shoring up the schools. None of the Republican commissioners expressed any enthusiasm for Mr. Deal’s idea.

Meanwhile, and perhaps because they needed to be seen cutting something, the Republican commissioners had a kind of bidding auction on who could zero out the most non-profits and public service providers. Out of a total county budget of $58 million, they grabbed a measly $53,000 by zeroing out contributions to agencies like Hospitality House and Parent to Parent and greatly reducing requested support for the Community Care Clinic, WeCAN, the Western Youth Network, the Hunger Coalition, the Children’s Council, and the Foster Grandparent Program (among others). These are mainly social safety-net programs providing services to people in need that the county might otherwise go without. Penny wise and pound foolish.

The public hearing on the proposed budget on May 17th will be the last gasp for trying to influence the direction this county will take in the next fiscal year and the quality of our lives here.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Profiles in Egomania

Reading about one of Buncombe County's reps in the NC House, Mr. Tim Moffitt, might make you feel marginally lucky that we have the local bobble-heads that we have representing us in the General Assembly.

"Moffitt ruling like a king" the headline says. "Drunk on power" might also have served.

One of the things Moffitt seems on the verge of achieving is breaking Buncombe County into voting districts in which Asheville's clout is disabled. All voters in Buncombe, no matter where they live, have been accustomed to voting for all County Commission candidates on the ballot. No more, under Moffitt's scheme. Voters in each district will vote only for representation from that district.

Buncombe's system has been exactly like Watauga's (and a lot of other counties). How long before some Republican operative decides that the citizens of Boone have too much influence and decide to ram through a "districting" local law for Watauga?

So perhaps we're lucky that Jonathan Jordan and Dan Soucek know how to sit in their offices in Raleigh until someone comes and tells them how they'll be voting on any given day. Instead of thinking of ways to screw people on their own.

Tillis: "I Know Nothing!"

The new Republican majority in the NC General Assembly was against centralized government control when they were running last year. Now they're amazingly amenable to it.

A little-noticed provision in the NC House budget, newly passed, would centralize all policies regarding public school layoffs (of which there will be MANY, if the Republicans get their dream-come-true) ... would centralize those policies with the state Board of Education.

As soon as this provision began to be known, an outcry has gone up.

Chris Whitmire, Republican chairman of the Transylvania County Board of Commissioners, said the state measure goes against the Republican mantra of “more local control.”

NC Speaker of the House Thom Tillis revealed his own ignorance of what was in the bill he steamrolled through the House last week, saying "he wasn't familiar with that part of the budget bill and predicted it would be removed from the final budget."

Friday, May 06, 2011

Gen'l Assembly GOP: 'Beyond Indecent'

Strong editorial language from the Charlotte Observer about the Republican disdain for some 37,000 unemployed North Carolinians.

Economically stupid too. Whoever claimed that Republicans were good with money?

The unemployment benefits that the Republican grandees in the General Assembly are holding hostage, hoping to box Gov. Perdue into a corner over the budget, would boost the economy of the state. As a key staffer for a member of the Council of State explained it to us in Raleigh on Tuesday, those unemployment payments would go directly into economic circulation as desperate former-workers paid their rents, their utility bills, bought their groceries.

That money would go to Main Street mainly and would help boost the economy.

But what do those Republican dickheads care about the economy of the state when they have political points to score?

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Nailing Jello to a Wall

David Barton is the fundamentalist preacher that Mike Huckabee and Michelle Bachmann think is the number one constitutional authority in the United States and the greatest "historian" of the supposedly incorrect notion of a wall between church and state. He's profiled in the NYTimes this a.m.

He was also Jon Stewart's guest on The Daily Show last night, and the entire, extended interview (several different clips -- it goes on for probably 15-20 minutes) is well worth watching. Personally, we haven't heard any man talk that fast and be that distractive and slippery since we were negotiating with a fellow in a shark-skin suit over a used Rambler with a rolled-back odometer.

Bottomline: Barton thinks the 90% Christian majority in this country is oppressed, and he wants explicitly Christian beliefs applied up and down the scale in government. Oh, he claims he only says stuff like this to pastors, but whatever. He has said that the Christian Bible mandates against deficit spending, against graduated income taxes, against the minimum wage, and against doing anything about global warming.

Jon Stewart remains the most incisive, and the most civil, interviewer on the planet.

The Republican War on Women

Women in North Carolina, and especially young women, are going to have to wake up and pay attention to the way the new Republican majority in the NC General Assembly intends to treat you with this new legislation.

Because you're immoral for getting pregnant, because you're too stupid for school, because you're making the wrong decision if it's not OUR decision (say these legislators), you'll have to subject yourself to intrusive, humiliating, insulting probing by the state before you can have an abortion.

I'm not going to lead you into the street over this, but I'll come with you. You're going to have to take up the banner. If you don't, you'll become nothing more than the complacent breeding stock that the Christian Right, and Senator Dan Soucek and Representative Jonathan Jordan, want you to be.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

New Republican Majority in Raleigh: 'Landslides? We Couldn't Care Less!'

In their rush to cut anything and everything that smacks of progressive policies, the Republican NC House budget eliminates the Landslide Mapping Program. Watauga County, which has experienced catastrophic landslides with significant damage and loss to property (but so far no outright deaths, at least not since 1940), was mapped a few years ago, not that any local official will ever do squat with the warnings contained therein, other than throw the info up on the County's website for whoever has the time and patience to search it out.

Other western counties that have been completed are Macon (where five people died in 2004 in the Peeks Creek slide, during the same hurricane event that brought the house pictured here down a hillside in Watauga), Buncombe, and Henderson counties. Some of those counties has enacted county-wide steep-slope building regs to minimize the loss of property and lives.

But this is precisely the sort of "public good" that Republicans hate, because it might interfere with someone's profit margin.
Okay, last one.
Another pic from the One Voice Rally in Raleigh.

At the One Voice Rally in Raleigh

Some of the signs from yesterday's One Voice for public education rally in Raleigh.

Teachers were coming to the rally as soon as they got away from their schools, so the first on the legislative plaza were Wake County teachers. But by 4:30 buses were arriving from all counties, including Watauga.

Meanwhile, the new Republican majority in the NC House were passing their massive cuts to education and health care, including 15.5% axed from the University system.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Homerun for Education

Winston-Salem filmmaker Frank Eaton debuted his new 8-minute film, "The Promise of Public Education,"at the Jefferson Jackson Democratic fundraising dinner in Raleigh Saturday night. You can see this careful piece of work here.

Main message: the new Republican majority in the General Assembly is trying to dismantle a public institution that took more than a century to build. Major take-away: Spending for public education is economic development, perhaps in its purest form. To strangle it will hasten the next Big Depression.

This film is a nice way to kick off the work-week and good prep for the "One Voice" rally to support public education spending in Raleigh at the legislative building tomorrow at 4 p.m. We'll be there. Will you?