Thursday, June 30, 2011

Get Those Lips Off That Preacher!

"Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other." Psalm 85:10

Well, self-righteousness, in this case, and meanwhile the woman representing "peace" is charged with a crime.

From today's Raleigh News&Observer: "A Bible-waving preacher protesting at a gay pride event in North Carolina turned the other cheek -- and got kissed on it by a 74-year-old female gay rights supporter who is now charged with simple assault."

The preacher is Taylorsville Baptist minister James Edward Belcher. The 74-year-old woman is Joan Parker of Colfax. Both were attending a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Day in Salisbury, Ms. Parker with her husband to show support and Preacher Belcher, who was screaming "sodomites" and "you're going to hell" at the top of his lungs, to demonstrate a raging case of envy perhaps.

"I thought he needed a hug. So I gave him a hug," said Parker. She also apparently assaulted the holy man of God with a pair of deadly instrumentalities, her lips.

We certainly trust that the punishment will fit the crime. And think of the sermon the good preacher will have ready for church! But probably not on a text from 1 Peter 5:14: "Greet one another with a kiss of love."

Update on Madam Foxx's Primary Challenger

Richard V. Carter Jr. (that's actually him to the left), who's been announcing for months that he's considering a primary challenge to Virginia Foxx, has released his platform:

1. "I will introduce/support immediately ceasing all Congressional benefits, compensation, or Congressional privelage [sic] of any kind upon exit from office whether by election loss, resignation, or involuntary relief (note - retiring from office will no longer be possible)." We are, naturally, most interested in that phrase "involuntary relief," which perhaps in an earlier age would have been called "misadventure." But we're not sure how a Congress Critter might be relieved of office through "involuntary relief." Sounds scenic! Especially followed by that slightly ominous "retiring from office will no longer be possible." Say whaaa?

2. Ban public sector unions.

3. "I will introduce/support repealing the Current Tax Payment Act of 1943." No explanation of what this portends. But we take it that he's opposed to taxes.

4. "I will introduce/support making American English the official language of the United States of America and require all federal documents and federal affairs be recorded, conducted, and/or produced only in American English." Meaning, we assume, that the candidate himself intends to learn it.

5. "I will introduce/support eradication of a myriad of programs, agencies, and departments to acutely reduce the size and scope of the federal government. Candidates for extermination include the Dept of Education, the Dept of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Dept of Housing and Urban Development, the National Labor Relations Board, the Drug Enforcement Agency, AmeriCorps, the Bureau of Alcohol-Tobacco-Firearms-and-Explosives, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, the US Agency for International Development, the National Security Council, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration." Frankly, we cannot believe that this supposed conservative would exempt those pimps at the National Weather Service from eradication! In fact, we're interested in any candidate who advocates the death penalty for weather men who get it wrong.

6. Finally -- and this is our absolutely favorite plank in his platform -- he wants to amend the U.S. Constitution to grant citizenship to fetuses. Not to the babies of undocumented workers but to the fetuses of undocumented workers. Doesn't actually say that, but we assume that's what it would have to mean.

Virginia Foxx ... you have been served!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Your State GOP Reps on Break

Taking advantage of a loophole in laws governing political fundraising from special interests, the new Republican majority in the NC General Assembly will hold a swank shake-down of corporate money tonight in Raleigh.

After all, they delivered the state to corporate interests in the session just adjourned. It's time for those corporate interests to slop the hogs.

We've already experienced the corporate coup in Washington and the total takeover of every branch of government by the rich. The same coup is well underway in North Carolina too.

The Raleigh News & Observer publishes strong words today in an editorial about the Republican pay-to-play culture of corruption, now in full flower. It does not lessen the moral spectacle to now say "the Democrats did it too!" It only heightens the crashing irony behind the promises of these "Christian" hypocrites.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Still Trying To Catch Up With the News

Gov. Perdue vetoed the new Republican majority's anti-abortion bill, a.k.a., "Insult a Woman by Treating Her Like a Child Act of 2011." The Republicans will have to round up another vote each in both the House and the Senate to override the veto, which they probably will attempt when they come back to town in mid-July.

This evening at the Watauga County Commission meeting, the Board of Education requested the release of some $360,000 in budgeted contingency (set-aside) funds to alleviate the punishment inflicted on public education by the new Republican majority in the General Assembly. According to School Board Chair Deborah Miller, the additional money will keep the school system from being forced to fire teachers and teacher assistants. The schools will lose positions through attrition (retirements & relocations) but can shelter others from being laid off with the additional money. Commissioner Vince Gable seemed genuinely confused by this. He said that he had talked to state Sen. Dan Soucek this past weekend, and Sen. Soucek had assured him that the state's budget had not cut any teaching jobs. Mr. Gable was (once again) schooled in the nature of the pass-down cuts from the state that fall very heavily on every local school district. Mr. Gable fell silent, and the commissioners passed a motion to hand over another $360,000 to the schools that Dan Soucek keeps telling everyone couldn't possibly be needed because he hasn't got a clue (evidently) what the budget he voted for actually does to the schools.

There's no unanimity among NC observers about the impact of the New York state gay marriage law on the Dan Soucek-sponsored constitutional amendment in NC to deny equal rights to gay couples seeking marriage. Some think the Soucek tribe of troglodytes will be more impassioned and will manage to get a referendum about gay marriage on the Nov. 2012 NC ballot, thus helping sweep all bigots back into office. Others think that New York's legalizing of gay marriage sends a powerful message that this particular war on marriage equality is lost ... which it is. But don't look for Dan Soucek to get that message.

Another sign of the time RE the new Republican General Assembly's current talent at cutting the state budget while really off-loading essential programs onto local governments: Also tonight at the Watauga County Commission meeting, the Commissioners agreed to take $30,000 from the administrative contingency fund to keep alive a drug rehabilitation program that Soucek and Jonathan Jordan and their cohorts cut from the state's budget. We were treated to an assistant district attorney, serving under uber-Republican District Attorney Jerry Wilson, pleading with the commissioners to keep the program alive while its administrators seek alternative grant funding. And Commission Chair Nathan Miller, a defense attorney, had to admit that he had seen clients of his benefit from the program and get their lives on track toward becoming responsible and contributing citizens.

Let's see: In just one night, it cost Watauga County a combined $390,000 to correct just some of the societal harm inflicted by the new Republican majority in the NC General Assembly. Only a foretaste of what's to come?

Monday, June 27, 2011


Somewhat dubious analysis of the Republican redistricting maps for NC in this morning's Politico ("dubious" because any article that quotes "Democrat" Brad Crone didn't dig very far). But the conclusion offers something that Republicans aren't thinking about (in their lust to shove the shiv in Miller, Kissell, and Shuler):
...Thomas Mills, a Democratic consultant in the state, said it’s possible Republicans might overreach and endanger their own incumbents by drawing Democratic-oriented areas into their districts. One possibility: that in weakening Shuler, Republicans would place the Democratic stronghold of Asheville within McHenry’s new boundaries.

“The days of Democrats being in the majority are over, but the seats that Republicans hold may be competitive by the end of the decade,” said Mills. “Things change.” But, he said, “They’re going to make this as ugly as they possibly can.”

Republicans "overreach"? How out of character that would be!

They mention Republican pudge Patrick McHenry as ironically not prospering necessarily by a map drawn to hurt Shuler. They don't mention Foxx and how she may be weakened. Her 5th District seat was already under-populated, according to the Census, and the map-drawers were already going to have to add tens of thousands of new voters to the 5th. From where will they snatch them, and will they be as dependably Foxx-addled as, say, the pudding-heads in Stokes County?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Catching Up

Gov. Perdue vetoed the Republican voter photo I.D. law on Thursday. Republican Speaker of the House Thom Tillis sez he'll attempt the veto over-ride when the General Assembly reconvenes in July. Even Republicans don't expect he'll be successful.

New York lawmakers, with Republican participation, legalized gay marriage, and their Guv signed it into law. Afterward, the world did end, and everyone went to hell. So see, Christians, there is a silver lining. Meanwhile, Sen. Dan Soucek is still pushing his state constitutional amendment to make marriage officially out of bounds for The Gay, forever and ever. Amen. That'll show 'em.

Pay-to-Play Update:
Republican state legislators changed the rules to tip more state business to John Deere tractors after the company "handed out more than $100,000 to legislative candidates last year, including $20,000 to seven sponsors of the bill."

What Has Foxx Been Up To?

Nothing good, naturally. From her perch on the House Agriculture Committee, she launched a recent attack on the "locavore" (local foods, small farmers) movement, detailed in this account by one of her 5th District constituents, Tom Philpott. Here's the conclusion of his assessment:
...And now we get a full-frontal attack from the House, in the form of the dread Rep. Foxx's amendment to shut down Know Your Farmer. Like her stances on gay marriage and immigration, Foxx's jihad against Know Your Farmer is absurd. She mounted her attack based on budget concerns; but the initiative has no budget of its own. As the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition dryly put it recently, "The practical impact of the Foxx amendment is unclear. The Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative is not a program per se and does not have its own budget. Hence it is difficult to know how USDA would interpret the restriction."

I suspect Foxx's move wasn't really about saving money, since you don't save much by shutting down a website; but rather about sending a message: The USDA belongs to the companies that dominate US food and ag, not to the communities working on the ground to create alternatives. There's more at stake here than just a web site. The Know Your Farmer flap is really about whether our political system is capable of conducting even moderately progressive food and farm policy.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pay-to-Play, Republican Style

The parent company of Lowe's Foods, Alex Lee Inc., had received $2 million in tax incentives from the General Assembly and pledged to create 200 jobs for that dole.

Instead, the company recently laid off about 50 workers due NOT to the economy but to ... wait for it ... increased automation at its plant.

Under the terms of its sweetheart tax break, the company was supposed to pay back that $2 million if it didn't create the 200 jobs.

But not to worry. Alex Lee Inc. covered its wide butt by contributing $15,000 to the NC Republican Party's Senate Caucus.

And, lo, the heavens opened and the blessed sun shown down upon Alex Foods Inc. Slipped into House Bill 751 in the waning hours of the NC General Assembly's recent feeding frenzy was a provision exempting Alex Foods Inc. from paying back the tax incentives.

Some Democrats in the NC House voted for this pay-off. Some Republicans voted against it. "The bill sailed through the Republican-controlled Senate 42-0." Far as we can tell, the Dems got no cash for their vote; the Republican senators got a pile. So it goes.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Solstice at 1:16 EDT Today

As we write, the moment sacred to all Druids world-wide is an hour and a half away, the "standing still of the sun."

The moment at which the sun reaches its zenith at the Tropic of Cancer. Every day after today will be shorter in the Northern Hemisphere for the next six months. Today, the sun will never set at the North Pole.

It would be appropriate to bow to an oak this afternoon. Wear a wreath of Leucothoe on your head. Crush some strong-smelling herb in your hands and release the aroma to the wind. Pour oil and wine on a stone.

We Pledge Allegiance to the Corporation...

The Supremes ruled 5-4 yesterday that workers, as a class, are not going to be allowed to seek redress for discrimination and unfair treatment by huge corporate guts.

If you're enmeshed in those tentacles, you WILL take what's meted out to you, bitch!

Meanwhile, and to demonstrate their total obeisance to the Corporate Appetite in North Carolina, the new Republican majority in the NC House, in its waning hours of wrecking the state for the next generation, passed a wholly gratuitous tax loophole for multi-state corps doing big business in the state.

How can there be any doubt who owns government at every level in this former great Republic?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Gov. Perdue Should Veto S 781

Intercepted e-mail ... Winston-Salem City Councilman Dan Besse, on the ineffable environmental badness of the new Republican majority in the NC General Assembly:
Not satisfied with adopting the most anti-environmental budget in North Carolina history, this Republican-controlled legislature has sent a flurry of other anti-environmental bills to the governor.

One of the worst of the lot is Senate Bill 781, the so-called “Regulatory Reform Act of 2011.” As with most of the Republican mischief coming out of this nightmarish legislative session, the GOP idea of “reform” means to give their big polluter campaign contributors everything they want.

Here’s what SB 781 would really do: tie up what’s left of our state’s environmental enforcement staff in so much additional red tape that big polluters would have a free hand to hurt clean air, water, land, and public health across our state.

GOP Wrecking Crew: Better Get Ready for Judge Manning

According to reporting by Jane Stancill for the News&Observer, the top 10 richest counties in North Carolina spent an average of $2,654 per student to supplement state funding for public education, compared to $598 per student in the poorest 10 counties. The state's 10 richest counties had seven times more taxable property value per child than the 10 poorest counties in 2008-09.

The 2011 General Assembly steamroller conducted by the new Republican majority (now adjourned, thank God, until the middle of July), has, by acts of commission and acts of omission, added to the disparity between rich and poor counties in the state, so far as the education of all our children is concerned.

Republicans cut spending on education by another $124 million. "Another"? Yes, because the two previous state legislatures, led by Democrats, had already cut education spending a total of $305 million.

Here's a key paragraph in Stancill's article:
Forcing the counties to make cuts began as a stopgap measure by the [Democratic] legislature to deal with the economic crisis. But it has become a new way of doing business, and it's looking more like a fundamental shift in the way North Carolina pays for public schools. The reduction is projected to grow to about $500 million in 2012-13, at the same time the federal Education Jobs Fund runs out of money.

One of the rich counties, Mecklenburg, managed to find an additional $26 million for the Charlotte-Meck school system, saving the jobs of over a thousand teachers. But poorer counties, like Lincoln, have been forced to send lay-off notices to scores of employees (190 teacher assistants and 38 teachers in Lincoln County alone, a devastating blow).

This is where Wake County Judge Howard Manning comes in. He's the tough-as-nails jurist (pictured above) who has presided over the long-running Leandro case since 1994. In Leandro, the state's Supreme Court ruled in 1997 that every child has a constitutional right to a "sound, basic education." In the court trial that ensued in 1999 -- and since -- Judge Manning has issued a number of orders, including in 2002 when he ruled that the responsibility of providing equal education to all students lies with the state. He ordered the state to "remedy the Constitutional deficiency for those children who are not being provided the basic educational services" of competent, well-trained teachers, good principals and sufficient funding.

Judge Manning has said he's not afraid to lock up politicians if they don't do what's right and required by law, and he seems poised this week to declare the entire Republican state budget unconstitutional.

Stand by, as this is a developing story.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Race Has Many Uses

Because North Carolina redistricting is covered by federal statute for past racial discrimination (which is obviously still quite alive and active in the Old North State), the new Republican majority in the NC General Assembly are required to first release their plan for "minority" districts under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 ("VRA districts").

Those maps started rolling out yesterday, and it became abundantly clear that under cover of creating more black voting districts, the Republican majority was actually "packing" those districts with as many gerrymandered Democrats as possible in order to weaken other Democrats and strengthen the reelection prospects of their own sainted crew.


At least three of the Democrats thus targeted are all strong women. Linda Garrou (D-Forsyth) has been drawn completely out of her NC Senate district. Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guildford) and Rep. Maggie Jeffus (D-Guildford) have been put into the same district. (Laura Leslie's coverage for WRAL.)

On the bright side, two of the Five Goobers from Demsville, Rep. William Brisson and Rep. Dewey Hill, have apparently had their political bases jerked away from them via the same VRA districts. That's what pal-ing around with Republicans will get you. (Fayetteville Observer has that story and also delves into the whole issue of "packing" minority districts to the detriment of adjoining districts.)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Republicans, Welcome to Your New Reality

The new Republican majority in the General Assembly have consistently tried to spin it that their budget actually contained more jobs for teachers, but of course the reality was something entirely different. Via WRAL:
Layoffs sweeping through school districts
Lillington, N.C. — With the school year over and the state budget passed, many teachers across the region have learned in recent days that they no longer have a job.

The $19.7 billion budget, which the Republican-led legislature passed Wednesday over Gov. Beverly Perdue's veto, includes discretionary cuts for school districts statewide. School administrators say the size of the needed cuts entail layoffs, including thousands of teachers and teaching assistants.

Critics of the budget predict as many as 13,000 jobs could be lost. Harnett County Schools, for example, has cut 88 jobs, most of them teaching assistants.

What happened to the "jobs, jobs, jobs" bunch? They became the "increased unemployment and crippled schools" bunch.

GOP Repeal of Racial Justice Act Stalls

You will, of course, remember that the General Assembly, under Democratic control in 2009, passed the Racial Justice Act which allows an inmate facing the death penalty to file an appeal asking a judge to consider whether racial prejudice played a role in his or her sentence. If such evidence is compelling, the law gives state judges the discretion to commute sentences from death to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The last part of that is important because it's the part that was totally ignored by Jonathan Jordan and Dan Soucek when they ran against Cullie Tarleton and Steve Goss last year, smearing them both as the miscreants who wanted black rapists to move in next door to you. You remember those mailers, of course!

One of the solemn promises made by this new Republican majority in the General Assembly was the immediate repeal of the Racial Justice Act, since this bunch likes killing everything but fetuses, and the state's executioner wants work.

Yesterday the NC House passed the repeal 63-53 (not veto-proof, by any means), and every informed Clown College observer expected the Senate to quickly follow suit. But not so fast.

According to Under the Dome, "In a big surprise, Senate leaders said they will not take up the bill before adjournment."

"When we come back in May, I guess we will pick it up then," said Sen. Tom Apodaca, a Republican from Hendersonville. "We had our schedule for tonight, and that was not on it. I want to go to the mountains."

Hmmm. Apparently, those black rapists moving into all our neighborhoods weren't all that, after all.

Thom Tillis Catches a Cream Pie in the Face

Mark Binker, the General Assembly reporter for the Greensboro News&Record, is reporting an unusual moment last night in the Clown College: one of the chief clowns, a Republican committee chair no less, openly protested to Speaker Thom Tillis about the wild pace of the railroad being run through the building:
Shortly after 11 p.m. Thursday night the House introduced its third supplemental calendar for the day, a three-page affair with bills many lawmakers knew nothing about....

“Mr. Speaker, ladies and gentlemen of the House," [said the offended Republican committee chair], "you’re looking at a three-page supplemental calendar, one whole page of which are bills on second and third reading, which have never been considered by this body before. I don’t know how many amendments it will take; I don’t know how much discussion there will be.

“But folks, we’re tired, we’re not in a position to think clearly and pass good legislation.” ...

Which implies, naturally, that the new Republican majority had heretofore been thinking clearly and passing good legislation ... but let that go as too too painfully obvious.

Binker says that it's not unusual to hear this sort of complaint from the minority, but when Thom Tillis's own troops start complaining like that, well, people take notice.

Tillis relented for the moment, and the House is back is session this morning and plans a very rare Saturday session, probably along with the Senate, which still has its own mischief to finish.

Justice WILL BE Partisan!

NC Senate Bill 47, which would restore partisanship to our judicial elections, has been pulled from the current General Assembly calendar and will be back on the calendar in the July session when the Clown College rams through its redistricting plan.

Sen. Jerry Tillman, the chief sponsor of S 47, "gained support for an amendment to delete the provision that would have killed Sunday afternoon voting," according to Bob Hall at Democracy NC, "so 'Souls to the Polls' faces one less threat. The bill still has a bucket load of obnoxious provisions, from ending Same-Day Registration and Voter-Owned Elections for executive branch offices to permitting corporate donations to political parties."

Sen. Dan Soucek is a proud co-sponsor of this piece of elephant dung, which would simply and clearly reestablish a political litmus test for judges.

The Clown College intends to take care of this last bit of election jiggering in July, at the same time they draw themselves and their Radical Right friends into safe districts.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Guv's Office Signaling at Least Three Vetoes

Via Laura Leslie at WRAL in Raleigh (and these vetoes should be upheld, though you know The Five Goobers are capable of responding to a wet tongue in their ears):

1. The just-passed anti-abortion bill

2. The photo voter ID bill

3. S727, No Dues Checkoff for School Employees, the bill targeting the North Carolina Association of Educators

Stay tuned. The Guv currently has 68 pieces of elephant dung sitting on her desk. Most of them deserve the VETO stamp.

The Lone Republican Who Voted Against His Party's Anti-Abortion Bill

Stan Bingham, the NC Republican Senator who represents Davidson and Guilford counties, was the lone GOP vote against the new anti-abortion law that has now landed on the governor's desk.

He spoke to Mark Binker at the Greensboro News&Record about why, and he actually sounds like a human being:

“I’ve got four daughters and I have never imposed on them. They are bright, smart young women and I trust the decisions they make. I’ve got one’s a doctor, one’s a lawyer and two engineers,” Bingham said, adding that he raised his daughters to think for themselves. He said that Senators who were doctors spoke against the bill and swayed him. But, he said, it was mainly thinking about the women in his life that caused him to side against the bill. “I leave it up to them to make decisions about their own bodies,” Bingham said. “It’s just like if I were going to be castrated, I wouldn’t want them to make that decision for me.”

Gosh. An elected Republican who actually respects women enough to trust their own decision-making. Does that rock your world?

One of those medical doctors in the NC Senate, Bill Purcell (D-Laurinburg), whom Bingham listened to, said this (also via Mark Binker):
“Those of you who are trying may succeed in stopping legal abortions in North Carolina, and I believe that is your goal…

“I began practicing medicine when there was no legal way to terminate an unwanted pregnancy in the United States. Those who had money could fly overseas for the procedure, but there was no choice for the poor who could not afford the expense of overseas travel.

“During one of those years when I was working on obstetrical service in a city hospital … I personally cared for two young women – one about age 18 and one about age 19 – who came to our emergency room on separate days. For whatever reasons – it could have been fear of their father or whatever, I don’t know the reasons – both of them found their pregnancies to be so threatening that they had to terminate them and both attempted to do it using coat hangers.

“I watched as both of them bled to death right in front of me as we pumped blood and did everything else we could to save their lives. I shall never forget the look of despair on their faces as they died. You can say they shouldn’t have done that, and I agree. But you know they will do it again across this state if you succeed in making it extremely expensive, difficult, almost impossible to have a pregnancy terminated by placing more and more barriers in her way.”

Logic in the Raleigh Clown College: GOP Sez It Wants Less Government ... Except When It Comes to Women

Another bad bill for Governor Perdue to veto: harsh, insulting restrictions on abortion contained in House Bill 854, the “Women’s Right to Know Act.” This major piece of social engineering, filtered through a self-righteous morality, "would require a 24-hour waiting period before a woman could get an abortion. In the meantime, she would be required to get an ultrasound and receive state-approved counseling about alternatives to abortion." (Laura Leslie, 15 June 2011)

From LL's coverage of the debate:

“What is it about women that we can’t make a decision?” [Sen. Linda Garrou said]. “What is it about women that we’ve got to have people come tell us how we should live our lives?”

“This bill assumes women are ignorant,” said Gladys Robinson, D-Guilford. “Yet we’re elected like you are.”

Robinson assailed the bill for failing to make exceptions for cases of rape or incest. “No one has the right to tell us – especially not me – what to do with our bodies.”

Sen. Eric Mansfield, D-Cumberland, a practicing doctor, said the legislature doesn’t have the right to intrude on a doctor’s relationship with his patients by dictating what the doctor must say. Another doctor, Sen. Bill Purcell, talked about watching young women patients die from amateur abortions in the days before they were legal and accessible.

The Big Gamble at the Raleigh Clown College

It's simple logic at work with the new Republican majority in the NC General Assembly: We can be as extreme as we please, because the flow of corporate cash will save our asses next year in the general election.

We can (and will) cripple public education, cripple environmental protections, cripple people's access to the ballot, and move our religio-corporatist agenda in hobbling women's rights to reproductive freedom and in singling out gays in the state's constitution for unequal treatment under the law ... because Art Pope & Friends put us here to do their bidding and they will return us again to our positions of power through the unleashing of their limitless cash on the muddle-headed masses who will believe any crazy thing if it's in writing. For example (from 2010), Cullie Tarleton and Steve Goss want to put a black rapist right next door to every last one of you God-fearing idiots.

Let's see what else is up in Raleigh with a General Assembly that Dan Soucek was bragging about on WATA this week -- bragging that stuff had passed far faster than at any time in history and certainly faster than his particular reading comprehension could keep up with, to know what was actually buried in all those new laws:

1. "House panel guts air pollution rules .... At the urging of some of the state's largest polluters, a committee in the Republican-controlled state House voted Tuesday to eliminate the state program that monitors and enforces clean air regulations." (N&O, 15 June 2011) That alone ought to be worth many thousands of $$ in Dan Soucek's and Jonathan Jordan's reelection coffers!

2. "Bill passage puts offshore drilling, 'fracking' one step closer .... Senate Bill 709, the Energy Jobs Act, does not explicitly allow either offshore drilling or hydraulic fracturing ('fracking'), but it represents the state’s first steps toward both." (WRAL, 14 June 2011) You think they're NOT taking us there? They're taking us there.

3. "NC lawmakers ease environmental laws for business .... Environmental advocates in North Carolina suffered setbacks Tuesday as Republican leaders rolled out a flurry of legislation sought by the state's business interests. Legislation unveiled in the House would reduce state regulation of toxic industrial chemicals like ammonia and sulfuric acid released into the air. A second bill in the Senate combines nearly two dozen changes to environmental laws, including a delayed cleanup of one of the main water supplies for Piedmont cities and broader access to taxpayer funds for underground fuel tank owners forced to clean up leaks." (Wilmington Star-News, 14 June 2011)

4. "North Carolina GOP ... Axes Planned Parenthood Funding .... Republican state representatives in North Carolina voted to override Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue's veto of the state budget Wednesday morning, ensuring that a provision to strip all federal and state money from Planned Parenthood will take effect on July 1 .... Planned Parenthood of North Carolina (PPNC), which has nine clinics across the state, provides affordable birth control, preventative health care and family planning services to over 25,000 men and women. Without the $434,000 a year it usually receives in state and federal funds, Planned Parenthood says it will now have to axe its teen pregnancy prevention and adolescent parenting programs and force its low-income patients to pay out of pocket." (Huffington Post, 15 June 2011)

This (and a whole host of other bad bilge that I won't pause to document) is only the warm-up to the main event ... redistricting of every U.S. Congressional seat and of every NC House and Senate seat so that the Republican majority can retain its power for generations. Laura Leslie has tweeted that county maps will be out this Friday, full maps July 1st, and the special session to pass the whole plan is scheduled to begin July 17.

We ain't seen nothing yet!

Foxx Hunt

What's new with North Carolina's version of Cruella deVille?

"It's unconscionable that we have 45 million people in this country getting food stamps," she said in floor debate on June 14 over a Republican bill to cut spending on food assistance programs in the Department of Agriculture (H.R.2112). It's not unconscionable, in her view, that we have millions of citizens without adequate food. It's only unconscionable that the government helps them. "That's a result of the policies of our Democratic friends across the aisle," she added. Well, yes. And proud of it!

Also on June 14, and in consideration of the same House bill, The Madam, whose contempt for poor people in general and for poor women in particular is by now quite sufficiently obvious from outer space, offered an amendment to the bill that would zero out funding for a peer counseling and support program for low-income women who never learned how to breast-feed (hattip: MM). Even her normally hard-hearted Republican colleagues in the U.S. House wouldn't go along with that. The amendment was defeated 119-306. It was something that the infant formula industry, which relentlessly markets its product to new mothers in hospital neo-natal wards, would have benefitted from.

Just another day for The Madam, the alleged woman who loves to brag about how poor she once was and about how much she continually prays to God for divine guidance.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Other Rapes of Democracy, Other Laws

The NC General Assembly rushed through 66 new laws yesterday, including the "New Budget for the Last Century."

Included in all that backwardness is a massive rewrite of our election laws (Senate Bill 47) now moving in the House Elections Committee, including (but not limited to) these provisions:
ban straight-ticket voting

shorten the early-voting period by a week

ban early voting on Sundays (popular with churches for “Souls to the Polls” voting drives)

repeal publicly-financed elections for the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Insurance Commissioner and Treasurer

jigger campaign finance law to allow political parties to accept corporate money for operational support, "though not for electioneering purposes" (yeah, right)

All of this in addition to the separate photo ID law that's contained in a separate bill. But notice that last provision above and then compare with all the ones coming before. Could anything be clearer? The new Republican majority in the NC General Assembly intend to make it much easier for corporations to control the vote while making voting itself harder for everyone else. (Well, not everyone. Just poor people, minorities, students ... you know, not the Republican base.)

True to their new manner of governing, the Republican majority allowed no public comment during their committee consideration of this abomination. (Correction: “worse than an abomination,” according to Rep. Mickey Michaux, D-Durham.)

Bright spot: Gov. Perdue has promised to veto the photo ID law, and so far the Five Goobers haven't voted with the Republicans on it. Surely The Guv will also veto this rape of ballot access in North Carolina. There's no telling what the Five Goobers will do then.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Five Goobers Stick With Their Sugar-Daddies

The override happened, with all of The Five Democrats sticking with the Republicans.

We'll see how that works out for them in the days ahead.

'Course, we'll also see how this 19th-century budget works for the 21st Century.

Picture here was taken in the House gallery about 20 mins. before the vote. A vigil over the death of progressive government in North Carolina.

Veto Override Vote at Midnight Tonight

Laura Leslie at WRAL in Raleigh is saying the override vote of Gov. Perdue's veto of the Republican budget will be tonight just past midnight, not tomorrow morning as earlier announced, and Twitter is buzzing about a possible defection of one of the Five Democratic Goobers from the Republican bloc. Dunno 'bout that. You hear all sorts of rumors.

But Laura Leslie has also been doing some digging into the various pay-to-play goodies that at least some of those Five Goobers have gotten as concessions for their own districts from the Republican majority. It's a tawdry 30 pieces of silver, hardly worth the damning of their eternal souls, but some people can be bought cheap.

Scharrison at BlueNC suspects a "deceitful little trick" in the sudden moving up of the vote into the middle of the night: "Straight-up dishonesty. As such, these five Democrats, and maybe a few honest Republicans to boot, should reverse their votes. A Budget that requires trickery to get passed is, by its very nature, something that demands another look. A long look."

According to the News & Observer (and other sources), hundreds of the state's school teachers planned to be on hand for the 9 a.m. vote tomorrow morning and to lobby the Five Goobers one last time about their disloyalty.

The Republican leadership's haste in scheduling the vote after midnight might indicate that they're afeared that one of The Five might yet cave.

And then there's this, too: Speaker Thom Tillis will cut off all debate in calling for the vote.

Thom Tillis: "Let Them Eat Chalk Dust!"

"The comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor." --Voltaire

The new Republican majority in the NC General Assembly ... working to keep the rich comfortable for the foreseeable future!

The Five Goobers from Demsville might contemplate Voltaire before they vote tomorrow to override the governor's veto. But perhaps they're too busy carrying the royal train for Thom Tillis.

Republican Frugality

Thanks to UnderTheDome, we have $$ amounts as of June 7, 2011, for Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis's taxpayer-paid retainers:
Abigail Blackwell, Administrative Assistant, $30,000
Charles Duckett, Director of Admin. Boards and Commissions, $79,170
Daniel Goforth, Policy Adviser, $62,880
Christopher Hayes, Policy Adviser, $82,000
Amy Hobbs, Policy Adviser, $82,000
Susan Horne, Assistant for Constituent Services, $51,480
Jason Kay, General Counsel, $140,000
Wanda Kay, House Caucus Assistant, $40,000
Michael Luethy, $70,000
Dodie Renfer, Director of Member Relations, $70,000
Jordan Shaw, Director of Communications, $65,000
Katherine Sullivan, Administrative Assistant, $36,000
Charles Thomas, Chief of Staff, $150,000
Rhonda Todd, Executive Assistant, $71,071.12
Renee Weaver, House Staff Clerk, $35,525

Tillis total, $1,065,126.12

For comparison sake, former Democratic House Speaker Joe Hackney had a total compensation figure (as of July 2010) of $969,874.36.

Of special interest is the salary Tillis's chief of staff is making, $150,000, which is more than the governor makes ($139,950).

Monday, June 13, 2011

Let the Primary Challenges Begin!

With all eyes on The Five Goobers from Demsville, those five Democrats in the NC House who apparently promised the Republicans that they would vote to override Gov. Perdue's veto of the budget, it was bound to happen: among the disapproving gazes are some from rivals willing to challenge them in primary elections next year.

The first such (possible) primary challenger: Dr. Benjamin Chavis, a nationally recognized Civil Rights leader who also happens to be from Oxford, N.C., in Goober Jim Crawford's House district. (Crawford is 2nd from left in the photo array above.)

Laura Leslie has additional biographical info on Chavis, along with a statement about what he's contemplating and why: "I am very concerned that some of my fellow Democrats are now supporting a regressive and terrible state budget proposal. I hope that Representative Crawford and other Democrats in the legislature will represent the will of all the people of NC more effectively."

Put the Emphasis on Fat

Speaker of the new NC Clown College Thom Tillis has given his government-payroll lawyer a 27% raise, bringing his per annum haul up to $140,000. He also gave his government-payroll Chief of Staff a 25% raise, bringing his per annum haul up to $150,000. He also gave what the News&Observer called "fat raises" to five more of his 14-person staff.

Is Thom Tillis growing the government?

Or just basking in the aroma of his own righteousness?

Those much fatter staffers, being paid by thee and me, are chuckling in their Martini glasses while Cumberland County Schools, supposedly represented by one of the Five Goobers -- William Brisson -- has announced it's laying off 377 people, including 130 teachers and 177 teacher assistants.

Mr. Brisson still stoopidly claims that no teaching jobs will be lost under the Republican budget, just administrators. He also claims that nobody on the Republican side offered to keep a Bladen County prison open as a "goodie" to get his vote.

With a grasp on reality like that, and with that towering commitment to truthiness, Mr. Brisson is certainly a sterling representative of the people in Cumberland and Bladen counties!

Hattip to "Monday numbers" at The Progressive Pulse.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

All Eyes Now on the Five Goobers

Gov. Beverly Perdue has vetoed the Republican budget. Laura Leslie's reporting:
Perdue said the state budget "is more than a roadmap. It’s a reflection of our values. It’s a reflection of what we believe in."

"For the first time, NC has a legislature that’s turning its back on our schools, our children, our longstanding investments in education."

Perdue said the cuts in the GOP's "ideologically driven" $19.7 billion dollar plan would harm classrooms, turn kids away from preschools, and close college programs, causing "generational damage" to the state's schools.

And she stressed that cuts in other areas would be damaging, too, from emergency response to law enforcement to the courts - "not just education, but our communities, our environment, our public safety system, and our ability to care for those that need us the most.” ...
All eyes now turn to the five House Democrats who voted for the Republican budget when it first passed. They're pictured above, and perhaps their own constituents know them as sterling gentlemen. We know them only as ... well, Republican chumps, not to put too fine a point on it.

They are, left to right:
William D. Brisson, who represents Cumberland and Bladen counties
James W. Crawford, Granville & Nash counties
Dewey L. Hill, Brunswick & Columbus counties
Bill Owens, Camden, Currituck, Pasquotank, & Tyrrell counties
Timothy L. Spear, Chowan, Dare, Hyde, & Washington counties

Friday, June 10, 2011

Portrait of a Goober

NC House member Bill Owens of Elizabeth City, one of the Five Goobers from Demsville that the Republicans are counting on to override Gov. Perdue's veto of their budget, has already announced that he's probably not going to run for a 10th term in the NC House, which means in all likelihood that he's turning a deaf ear to his own political base.

So the editorial in the Elizabeth City Daily Advance probably won't prey on his conscience, but it should. (Hattip: Progressive Pulse)

Owens got concessions in the budget for his district -- those goodies that get traded every day in our legislative bodies -- but The Daily Advance ain't swayed by money for the Museum of the Albemarle and money for the Mid-Currituck Bridge across Currituck Sound and an exemption from tolls imposed on other ferries for the Knotts Island and Ocracoke ferries. The editorialist actually sees the bigger picture -- and the huge damage -- in the rest of the Republican budget:
...these concessions [mentioned above] seem like high prices to pay for a budget that, among other things, is still projected to eliminate 13,000 education positions, including 9,300 in the public schools; lose the state $1.2 billion in federal matching funds for Medicaid funding; slash funding for the Clean Water Management Trust Fund from $100 million annually to $11.3 million; and eliminate the North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund, a program that fights obesity and that’s put a significant dent in the number of teen smokers in North Carolina....

It's an open debate whether Rep. Bill Owens really thinks he's doing the right thing, strapping on that feedbag with the Republicans, or whether he's just very bedazzled with his own power as a horse-trader.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Senator Hagan Sided with the Bankers

On a major showdown over what fees the big banks can charge every time you swipe your debit card for a purchase, our own Democratic Senator Kay Hagan danced with who bought/brought her, the Big Banks.

And go figure this: Sen. Dick Burr voted with the other side.

According to The Hill, "The vote abruptly ended the biggest K Street battle of 2011, a debate that pitted banks and credit unions against a coalition of retailers and consumer-rights groups."

Birds of a feather and all that. Hagan worked for ten years as a vice president of NCNB, now known as Bank of America. Her loyalties seem to lean more toward that privileged class than toward consumers, which makes her not (alas) unique among Democrats in the U.S. Senate.

Sen. Dick Burr? We dunno, but we can thank him for his vote.

Old White Men Know Best

Because the extremists in the NC Republican Party (but we repeat ourselves) do not trust women to make their own decisions, the new Republican majority in the NC House, joined by a few fearful Ds, passed a new law to require that women seeking abortions be force-fed some anti-abortion "information" and then wait 24 hours before having the procedure.

Without a doubt, this piece of government intrusion into the private lives of women will also pass the dunderheaded NC Senate, where Dan Soucek can't wait to tell women what to do.

Then it will be up to Beverly Perdue.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Thom Tillis, Bullying Teachers

Editorial in this a.m.'s News & Observer calls Republican Speaker of the NC House a bully for his recent comments about our state's public school teachers, both when he didn't know the microphone was on and when he did.

"...does Tillis think teachers choose their calling in order to get rich?" asks the editorialist. "No one is that big a fool."

No, but someone is that big a jerk, leading a platoon of jerks, and taking us all down the road to turning North Carolina into Mississippi.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Photo ID Law Headed for House Passage Tomorrow

Tonight the Republicans on the NC House Appropriations Committee, believing themselves to be in Georgia and voting on strictly partisan lines, passed a photo ID law very similar to the one passed in Atlanta, which promised to disenfranchise black voters and those troublesome 18-year-olds in college.

Tonight the Deep South came to Raleigh.

In the fall of 2012, these guys intend to launch a thousand years of Clown Rule, based on limiting ballot access.

Dear God, Make Them Stop

This evening, on straight party lines, the Republicans in the NC Senate voted to end straight-party voting in North Carolina.

They can't keep their cotton-picking hands off our right to vote.

Only explanation for this particular clownish act is this fact: in the 2010 election, Democrats cast slightly more straight-party ballots (51.24% of the total) than did Republicans (47.98%).

Surely the Clown College is bound to run into the law of unintended consequences sooner or later!

Final Show-Down on the Watauga County Budget

The Republican majority's budget passed 3-2 at this a.m.'s regular meeting of the Watauga County Commission, but not without last-ditch amendments offered by Democratic commissioners Jim Deal and Tim Futrelle. Both men expressed their deep disappointment at the way the majority are treating education in the county and the way that the important work of many non-profits was zeroed out, or severely reduced, in next year's county budget.

Mr. Deal, in particular, expressed unhappiness with the message being sent to the hundreds of volunteers who work to provide various county safety-nets through non-profit orgs -- all for a measly savings of $52,000. That isn't much in the overall county budget but means a great deal to the work of those agencies. Board Chair Nathan Miller responded with a succinct expression of his "vision": "My philosophy is to fund what government has to fund and nothing else. Non-profits need to go find their money elsewhere."

Mr. Deal addressed that difference in philosophy head-on, especially as regards the importance of education: "The economic vitality of our county is tied to our educated workforce." Deal and Futrelle tried without success to amend the budget to add another $595,000 to the school budget, to make up the expected shortfall from the state of NC.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Thom Tillis: "You Selfish Teachers!"

Over the weekend, I read the opinion of some North Carolina Republican operative -- can't remember at the moment who nor where -- who was gloating a tiny bit because the new Republican majority in the General Assembly was going to get away with their brand of murder (thousands of teachers fired or laid off), because (words to this effect) no one knows who Thom Tillis (Republican Speaker of the House) and Phil Berger (Majority Leader in the Senate) are. Everyone knows the governor, this Republican was saying, so the governor will get the blame.

Maybe that's working, and maybe that's the explanation for why Thom Tillis feels he can be a total dick, especially to public workers in education. It's fashionable these days, if not de rigeur, to bash teachers, and Tillis added his own flourishes to the practice at the state's GOP state convention on Saturday, to great applause:
"They [public school teachers] don’t care about kids. They don’t care about classrooms. They only care about their jobs and their pensions."

It doesn't get any more brazen than that.

Voter Suppression

The effort at suppressing the black vote in North Carolina (not to mention the college-age vote) got the attention of the NYTimes yesterday in an editorial that pointed out that early voting in our state, particularly among blacks supporting Barack Obama, shot up substantially in 2008. Which is all you need to know about the motivation of the new Republican majority in the General Assembly:
Mr. Obama won North Carolina ... by less than 15,000 votes. That state has had early voting since 2000, and in 2008, more ballots were cast before Election Day than on it. Mr. Obama won those early votes by a comfortable margin. So it is no coincidence that the North Carolina House passed a measure — along party lines — that would cut the early voting period by a week, reducing it to a week and a half before the election. The Senate is preparing a similar bill, which we hope Gov. Beverly Perdue, a Democrat, will veto if it reaches her.

The veto is the only weapon Bev Perdue has, and she's already proven that she's prepared to use it. After that, everything will depend on the Five Goobers from Demsville on whether the veto is overridden.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Beware of the Man Who Can't Be Embarrassed

Mere minutes after he discovered that his Republican caucus meeting had been broadcast to the press corps through an open mike, Republican Speaker Thom Tillis betrayed no sense of awkwardness but more of a "So what, bitch?"

The provision slipped into the budget -- which supposedly five Goobers from Demsville will betray the governor and vote to override her veto -- is an end-run for redistricting meant to guarantee that Attorney General Roy Cooper is cut out of the process along with the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Republicans intend to submit their redistricting plans directly to the D.C. Circuit Court, considered the most conservative in the country, rather than follow usual procedure and go through the DOJ. Sure, gloated the unembarrassable Thom Tillis: "Clearly, we’d rather take it through the channel that we think best benefits us in terms of getting the plans through. I generally have a high degree of confidence in the courts."

That last sentence is particularly entertaining, considering the GOP's perennial need to bash "activist" judges. It's different when the judges belong to them.

Friday, June 03, 2011

The Clown College and the Five Goobers From Demsville

No one knows how exactly a secret meeting of the Republican House caucus this afternoon got "piped into every audio outlet in the Legislative Complex," but I'll maintain right here and now that it was God.

The Republicans were revealing (among other things) their true contempt for the five Democratic House members they say will vote to override the governor's veto of the Republican budget, a.k.a., "Act To Take NC Back to the Nineteenth Century."

Democratic Turkeys! Turkeys helping to sharpen the axe intended for their own throats.

Like we said, among other things.

Gov. Perdue: "Take That, Dickheads!"

The news broke while we were driving a Meals-on-Wheels route this morning, but we got home to find this e-mail from David Parker in our in-box:
Bev Perdue stunned the GOP leadership today by issuing an Executive Order for the immediate release of federal unemployment benefits to 47,000 out of work North Carolinians.

The order ends nearly two months of deadlock during which Republican legislators employed the jobless as pawns in budget negotiations with her office. Finally, these unemployed – our friends, family and neighbors – will have help paying bills, mortgages and putting food on their tables.

In a statement moments ago, the Governor explained that she had finally had enough of the GOP's petty political games and the very real suffering they were causing:

"Just yesterday, they voted down a measure to separate this issue from their budget. Enough is enough. They continue to use desperate people as leverage to extort my support for an ideologically-driven budget that needlessly cuts millions from our public schools and inflicts millions of dollars more in damage to our universities, pre-school programs, community colleges, job creation efforts and vital health care services. I will not stand for it and I will not sit by idly as the legislature continues to play these games and deny the jobless the unemployment benefits they need."

There will be howls from the offices of the Republican leadership over the next few days, but I think that what our Governor did today is nothing short of heroic....

Couldn't agree more with that "heroic" adjective used in this context. I would have added "gutsy."

What no one talks about is what the unemployed do with those federal jobless benefits. They pay their rent. They pay their bills. They put food on the table. The Republican dickishness in withholding their benefits, in a game of ideological one-upmanship, was actually hurting the economy of North Carolina.

Macon County Looking at Steep-Slope Building Regs

Macon County, NC, where five people were killed in 2004 in a slope failure, is moving forward on adopting steep-slope building regulations. (The infamous Peeks Creek landslide is pictures to the left.)

Haywood, Jackson, and Buncombe counties have already implemented such regs, despite the howls of developers that the world would end.

Not only has the world not ended, but the chair of the Macon County planning commission, who also happens to be a grading contractor, real estate agent, and golf course developer, recently received information that the lack of steep-slope regs in Macon was driving away potential investors.

Lack of. (Read the article linked above for the source of that counter-intuitive conclusion.)

"Some of the naysayers say it's going to stop development,” this gentleman said. “But we can't find any examples of an ordinance that has.”

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Shouldn't We At Least TRY a Bomb?

In an article in The Daily Tar Heel about college students trying to lobby Republican members of the General Assembly in a (vain?) effort to divert them from their foolhardy goal of crippling public education in this state ... Rep. Bill Faison (D-Caswell) ruefully commented on the intractability of this new crop of Republicans like Sen. Dan Soucek:

“In terms of changing them, I’m not sure if you had a nuclear bomb over there you could change them.”

Soucek, in fact, was interviewed for the article and was making all those gurgling sounds that are meant to indicate empathy with those about to be bludgeoned to death for ideology. Yada yada yada. Whining about how haaaarrrd it is to be a state senator does not cover the facts of how you vote, Senator.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Wearing Socks with Sandals

Meet the NC House Democrat who 'fessed up today that he had already cut a budget deal with the Republicans ... behind Gov. Perdue's back.

What a prince!

Mr. Bill Owens of Pasquotank. Sez he thinks his fellow DINOs who currently seem to LUV themselves some Republican budgeting will vote along with him to override the expected veto of what the new Republican majority in the General Assembly have brewed up to take the state back a few decades.

We will know whom to thank, you bet!

Perdue Ready to Fight

The Republican grandees in the NC General Assembly were bragging that they have a budget "compromise" ready to unveil that will win Democratic support enough to be veto proof.

Gov. Perdue swept away this buffalo dust with a single swipe.

She sure sounds like she's up for a little street brawl:

"...She called the compromise budget plan a ‘charade.’ 'There is nothing else left for them to cut but warm bodies and teacher, educators, teacher's assistants, so don't let them fool you. They are not protecting public classrooms. The thing that irritates me so much, it just makes me so angry is that they don't have to do this,' said Perdue.

"She contends that the budget just moves money around, leaving it to local school districts to make tough choices."