Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Cookie Caper

If I were Gov. Squishy (bless his heart), I think I would fire the public relations genius who handed me a plate of chocolate chip cookies and told me to go out yesterday afternoon and give them to the women on the sidewalk protesting my decision to sign the bill that limits access to abortion in North Carolina.

And if I were that public relations genius, seeing how Gov. Squishy shoved the plate of cookies into the hands of one of those women and then retreated as quickly as he could, saying repeatedly over his shoulder, "God bless!" "God bless!" "God bless!" the way one might say "Good dog" to a strange pooch that looks like it might bite, I think I'd resign my job in despair.

Because this governor is as inept as any elected official in this wide country, possessed of a tin ear and so obviously afraid of everything and everybody that now confronts him in this horrendously misgoverned and jerked-around, formerly progressive and forward-looking state. He's hopelessly out of control, in over his head, constantly confused, uneducable, scared of the extremists in his own party, and prone to lying in an obvious way when confronted by a question he hadn't anticipated.

Yup. One-term governor, and that's one term too many.

For the record, the women shoved the cookies back under the governor's gate with a note indicating what they thought of a governor who's afraid of an actual conversation and who condescends so theatrically.

Our Own Village Idiot

Gov McCrory announced he would sign the voter ID bill even though it became quite apparent at his press conference last Friday that he didn't actually know what's in the bill and is confused about some existing NC voter registration laws.

WRAL: "An Associated Press reporter asked the Republican governor how three particular provisions of the bill would help prevent voter fraud — ending same-day voter registration, trimming the period for early voting by a week and eliminating a program that encourages high school students to register to vote in advance of their 18th birthdays."

The reporter never got a direct answer to the question, but finally, when pressed about same-day registration, McCrory said, "There is plenty of opportunity for voter registration — online, offline, through many methods."

"Online"? No, never in North Carolina, though other states offer that method.

When asked specifically about the provision ending pre-registration by those under 18, McCrory said, "I don't know enough, I'm sorry, I haven't seen that part of the bill."

Kevin Siers, in the Charlotte Observer, July 29, 2013:

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Doing the Work of Her Donors

Rep. Virginia Foxx, who receives hefty campaign contributions from the for-profit higher education industry, is fighting the Obama administration's plan to put new rules on that industry. So naturally she said this: "It is not the role of the Congress to make college affordable and accessible."

Apparently, it's also not the role of the Congress to make for-profit colleges accountable to the taxpayers. For profit colleges collect $32 billion in subsidies from the federal government. Yes. On average, these institutions derive 70 percent of their profit from the Federal government that Ms. Foxx hates so much. Those big donors to Ms. Foxx's campaign fund also have very spotty records on delivering actual education.

Virginia Foxx ... coddling the rich and making life miserable for everyone else since 1994.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Despicable Pat

Gov. Pat McCrory had the tone-deaf gall to actually say this yesterday after giving his cabinet secretaries raises of up to $13,200: “I’m trying to make it at least where they can afford to live while running multibillion-dollar departments.”

Yeah, our hearts bleed! This grinning idiot really knows how to channel sympathy in the right direction!

Meanwhile, not a word out of his weasel's mouth about the 70,000 people knocked out of unemployment benefits in North Carolina. Nary a crocodile tear from this empty suit for the thousands of public school teaching assistants forced out of work.

What about the 200+ people thrown out of work in Ashe County by the closing of Gates Corp., most of whom probably voted for this sorry sack of prevarication? They'll now have to survive with a maximum benefit of $350/week and have to find a job within 20 weeks in a county which already has an unemployment rate of 11 percent (hattip: JL).

As they say, elections have consequences. In this case, for the people of North Carolina, all those consequences are bad, unless you're already rich or run a cabinet department for the effing governor.

But what started in Boone last week with a "shame on you" protest of McCrory on King Street, when a small clutch of protesters followed the governor down the street with signs calling him out on the abortion bill, the voter suppression bill, and other disgusting legislation emanating from the sewer pit in Raleigh, is picking up steam in other towns in the state. Yesterday in Cornelius, McCrory "went out a side door" rather than face a much larger crowd of pissed off people, many of them women motivated by McCrory's announcement that he would sign the abortion restriction bill after promising during the 2012 campaign that he wouldn't.

It's gonna get rougher for that spineless tool of the Right Wing, and he's going to deserve every "shame on you" he hears -- or doesn't hear, because he's a coward.

See the video from Cornelius (sorry about the brief ad):

Friday, July 26, 2013

Don't Look to McCrory for Relief

That grinning idiot will NEVER veto anything sent over to him from the General Assembly.

He's TERRIFIED of the General Assembly, or at least, of the Republican furniture-strippers installed there.

So all those messages I've been getting from you good folks out there urging that I write Gov. McCrory and beg him to veto the anti-abortion bill, the suppression of voting rights bill, the put-guns-in-bars bill, the bring-your-out-of-state-trash-to-NC bill -- I appreciate your starry-eyed hope that somehow logic or sanity or keeping his promises will somehow sway McCrory to do something for the rest of us instead of slavishly following the dictates of the worst collection of ultra-right scum ever to stain the polished oak of the General Assembly.

But it ain't gonna happen, and I choose not on this day to whistle Dixie in that bum's general direction.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Jesus H. Christ!

In a stunning display of disregard for parliamentary rules, House Republican leaders quickly resurrected a new bill Thursday afternoon to take away Charlotte's authority over its airport.
During a hastily-called House Rules Committee meeting for which no agenda was offered in advance, House Republican caucus Co-chairwoman Ruth Samuelson re-offered a new airport bill that she had angrily withdrawn from the same committee just two hours earlier.
The bill, Senate Bill 380, would repeal the measure approved by state lawmakers one week ago. That law, Senate Bill 81, gave Charlotte Douglas International Airport – and its billions of dollars in assets – to a politically appointed regional authority.
The city filed a lawsuit as soon as the bill was ratified, persuading a judge to stay the new law. City officials then promptly fired airport manager Jerry Orr.
Samuelson, R-Mecklenburg, said the city's actions came as a surprise. 
"Our goal all along had been to do what was best for the airport and, if possible, avoid a lawsuit," she said. "We did not anticipate that the city would fire (Orr)."
Under the new proposal, which sets up a commission to run the airport, the city would still own the airport, but the commission would run it, making all financial decisions and managing hiring and firing. The city would have the majority of appointees on the new board, but regional and state interests would also be represented. 
The new bill, by repealing the original law, would also void the city's lawsuit, Samuelson said, and Orr would be rehired as airport manager. 
"I hope one day the city of Charlotte will acknowledge that this was a good deal," Samuelson said.    
Rep. Becky Carney, D-Mecklenburg, was furious. She said the Charlotte City Council does not support the new bill and said neither city officials nor Mecklenburg County Democrats had been given an opportunity to even read the new measure before it appeared in committee Thursday morning. 
"The city indicated all along – and I said on the floor last week – that there would be a lawsuit," Carney said. "I'm surprised that this has now come to be all about one man."
Carney, whose husband worked for the airport for years, said there hasn't yet been any problem with the city's management of the facility. She warned the new bill would only result in another lawsuit by the city.
"This is typical of how we jam stuff through at the last minute with no regard for the people we're doing it to back home," she said. "There's a lot of unrest in our state, a lot of angry people." 
Carney asked for other members to be allowed to comment. Two raised their hands. But Rules Committee Chairman Tim Moore ignored them, instead calling the vote on the bill.
Democrats shouted for "division" – a vote by counting hands – but that call was also ignored. With both sides shouting their voice votes, Moore pronounced the measure approved.
"Ram it through," Carney said angrily. 
After the meeting, Charlotte Democrats held a press conference to protest.
"Republican leadership in the House and Senate hijacked our airport," said Rep. Tricia Cotham, D-Mecklenburg. 
Cotham said Samuelson told her she worked out the deal at a bagel shop.
"You do not take legislative action and take away our airport while having bagels," Cotham said. 
The bill was expected on the House floor later Thursday.

“Reclaim Carolina: Because One Mississippi Is Enough!”

That slogan above for 2014 has been suggested by Chuck Fager, one of the arrestees at Moral Monday on July 22. (I added the exclamation point to express my own sense of urgency.) That's Chuck in the picture to the left on Halifax Mall last Monday.

Chuck Fager's activism for voters' rights goes back almost 50 years to his two arrests in Selma, Alabama, while he was marching with Dr. King for civil rights.

There are many more like Chuck in North Carolina. One of those many more is "Micah," whose Progressive Redneck Preacher blog I just discovered (thanks to Brother Doc!). That's where I got the story of Chuck Fager.

I'm thankful for them both and for the almost-1,000 fellow citizens who have been arrested in Raleigh for expressing their dissatisfaction with the power elite now trying to destroy this state.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Unplug From the Matrix

Kevin Siers, in the Charlotte Observer, 23 July 2013

Day of Reckoning Will Come

Saw this posting on Facebook about The Dishonorables in the NC General Assembly:
"Today they'll vote on the budget and some awful restrictions on voting. This is the worst of it. From here on what power they have and the inclination to move to the far right diminishes. By the time they reconvene next year, the primaries will be over, and they'll be looking for ways to appease an angry electorate. This is their day. They get that for winning. But never forget what they did with unchecked power."
We won't forget.

Their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.

Woe unto you, Republican hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.

Woe unto you, Republican hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.

I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The NC GOP and Its New 'Brand'

Elderly war veteran of both Korea and Vietnam is being arrested at the NC General Assembly for practicing civil disobedience in opposition to the continuing extremism of the new Republican majority. Photo by Andrew Dye, Winston Salem Journal.

Another Day, Another Assault On Our Democracy

Late yesterday, the vote suppressors in the NC Senate introduced a substitute bill that turned the 14-page voter ID law into a 57-page monument to their actual fear that people will never vote them into power again, the so-called "An Act To Restore Confidence in Government" (what a laugh!), S589, which they clearly intend to ram through quickly before opposition can mount and before their own legislative troops have time to read the text, not that the legisbots read anything except their marching orders.

Here's some of what the substitute S589 will do:
Eliminates college IDs as proof of identity 
No more pre-registration for 16- & 17-year-olds 
Eliminates same-day voter registration

Voter can be challenged by any registered voter of the county rather than precinct

Slices a week off Early Voting

Eliminates straight-party ticket voting  
Sets up a study instead of mandating electronic filing for state legislators

Increases maximum campaign contribution to $5,000 instead of $4,000  
Weakens disclosure requirements for Independent Expenditure committees 
Authorizes vigilante poll observers, lots of them, with expanded range of interference  
Expands the scope of who may examine registration records and challenge voters  
Repeals out-of-precinct provisional voting (if you happen to show up in the wrong precinct, you'll be shit out of luck)

Repeals mandate for high-school registration drives

Eliminates flexibility in opening Early Voting sites at different hours within a county 
Makes it more difficult to add satellite polling sites for elderly or voters with disabilities

Changes what is the official ballot, particularly for DRE machines  
Limits who can assist a voter adjudicated to be incompetent by court

Repeals 3 public financing programs  
Repeals disclosure requirements under Candidate Specific Communications

No more paid voter registration drives  
Moves presidential primary to first the Tuesday after South Carolina
Fair-minded Republicans -- if there are any left in this state -- can claim all day that this is just about preventing fraud, and if they claim that, they're lying to themselves and to the rest of us. It's very clear that this is all about voter suppression and nothing more.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

I Wouldn’t Dare Say Anything Bad About “Les Miserables”

So my difficulty began yesterday because we got the remake of “The Evil Dead” from Netflix in the mail, and my elderly mother-in-law is living with us right now, and we try to keep that sort of thing out of her line of sight. So my wife ran to Red Box and brought home “Les Miserables,” and I knew I was in for trouble.

I never saw “Rocky” or any of its several hundred sequels because I tend to run the other direction when a movie gets wildly popular, and I start hearing about how people cried and cried. I hate most sentimentality like fingernails on a blackboard.

And musicals? If it doesn’t have Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in it, putting on a show to save the nation – that it to say, deliberate kitsch -- I’m rarely interested (although I sat still for “Chicago” and was impressed by its cultural depth). Musicals generally take me in a direction I’m unwilling to go. Grown men suddenly breaking into song can make my skin crawl, and unfortunately in “Les Mis,” where virtually every line of dialogue is delivered as high opera, the initiator of this singular brand of unreality is ole Maximus Decimus Meridius himself, Russell Crowe. I suppressed giggles last night, which could have gotten me banished from the room right off the bat.

Okay, okay, I got used to the singing, and I’ll even admit that the music was pretty good, in its own romantic and bombastic way (though I now cuss that I’ve got “Master of the House” as an earworm, like George on “Seinfeld” in that episode about Jerry’s new suede jacket), and the acting was very good indeed. It’s the politics of the story that I ended up hating (and this is a political blog, O my Brethren), especially that flag-waving on the barricades at the end, but acknowledging how popular this movie was, it would be so rude of me to say anything bad about it.

About how conservative the underlying message really was. Take the story arc of little Cosette, the poor little orphan waif who’s scooped up by the merciful Jean Valjean and who learns how to be prosperous and in the end gets married to the rich guy in a sumptuous society wedding. Revolution be damned! It’s the same plot of how many sentimental Victorian novels that excuse poverty and oppression by marrying off the poor little heroine and making her a part of the 1%. Poverty and oppression remain safely the law of the land, and wedding planners get plenty of business.

In a story ostensibly all about revolt, rebellion, resistance to oppression, and recognition of injustice, the central hero Jean Valjean, a.k.a. Hugh Jackman, remains amazingly aloof to the politics around him. I get it that he’s a symbolic representation of mercifulness, as opposed to Javert’s law-without-mercy, but Valjean really never takes a stand about the revolution percolating around him. In fact, Jean Valjean seems to have an almost magical ability to become prosperous and bourgeois between bouts of fugitive flight, becoming mayor of  Montreuil-sur-Mer and owner of multiple factories. After every desperate escape from The Law, he’s always rediscovered well dressed and with plenty of spending money. He saves young Marius from the barricades, not because he’s in agreement with the revolution but because his adopted daughter is in love.

That young Marius (Eddie Redmayne), who was saved from the barricades via a trip through the sewers, reinserts himself into the comforts of the 1% with amazing ease, I thought. Meanwhile, all the young revolutionaries and his erstwhile best buds are dead, and the tyranny of the rich and of an unjust state are reasserted. Nothing has changed.

Except that Jean Valjean is being welcomed into heaven by the singing ghost of Fantine, which is where I really got mad. How many centuries have the poor and oppressed been placated by the promise of a reward in heaven? I ain’t buying it. It’s ultimately a doctrine that sustains the class system and keeps the powerless from pushing back. "Heaven, my dears! Think only of heaven. That's where you'll get universal healthcare!" Meanwhile, we’ll keep the cruel status quo very safely ensconced on earth.

What’s left then? The movie ends with the ghosts of the defeated revolution waving banners from the barricades. Why? What for? Nothing’s changed. And we’re encouraged to weep sentimentally for deaths we should be burning to avenge.

But I won’t talk bad about “Les Mis.” We can’t help it that the source material was written by Victor Hugo instead of Maxim Gorky and that American audiences still love sentiment more than justice, more than cinnamon toast.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The NC Senate Plan for Voter Suppression

The NC Senate plan for reducing the number of young, black, and Democratic voters in North Carolina (hattip Ari Berman):
NO college student IDs are acceptable (House version of Voter ID passed in April allowed NC public universities and community college ID)
NO out-of-state driver’s license is acceptable unless you’ve just recently registered to vote (i.e., less than 90 days before the election where you’re showing your ID). House allowed government photo IDs created by other states 
NO North Carolina county or municipal government or public employee IDs are acceptable 
NO photo ID issued by a public assistance agency is acceptable – another slap at low-income voters 
House allowed expired photo ID to be used, up to 10 years after expiration. But Senate version only allows the other House exception: a voter over 70 can use an expired photo ID for any length of time if it was current when they were 70 
NO advisory board, as in the House version, to advise State Board of Elections about strategies and partner groups to use in a comprehensive education program about the ID requirement 
NO provision for additional staff at State Board to do education 
NO reference to using the Judicial Voter Guide to include information about ID

As We Expected: Republicans Will Suppress the Votes of College Students

NC Senate voter ID bill will disallow college IDs as valid under the law. We are not in the least surprised.

Nor are we surprised that the bill was suddenly sprung on the Rules Committee today without prior notice. That's become SOP for this GOP.

Wendy Davis and William Barber

I light a candle for my native state, Texas, where hope for sanity after a few eons of Rick "Oops" Perry and the dominance of a Republican legislature looks actually possible. You don't piss off Texas women without getting a two-by-four upside the head. From the Texas Monthly:
...on the morning of June 25, the petite fifty-year-old Democratic state senator [Wendy Davis] from Fort Worth fixed herself a single boiled egg for breakfast. It would be her only meal of the day. She slipped on a pair of pink tennis shoes, headed over to the Capitol, and stepped up. As Davis began what would become her internationally memorialized eleven-hour filibuster of a Republican bill that would severely restrict a Texas woman’s ability to obtain an abortion, she calmed her jittery nerves by thinking of the assurances made to her the previous afternoon by former Democratic state senator Gonzalo Barrientos, himself an old hand at filibusters: It’ll be fine. You can lean on your desk, keep some candies in your pocket, read anything remotely related to the topic—no one will call you on any of that.
Once it became clear that the opposite was true—that in fact the Republicans intended to challenge every syllable and muscle twitch—she started getting mad. As the day wore on, her lower back began to hurt. “It was probably because of stress,” she told me two days later. “I thought, ‘Oh my God, what if I collapse during hour six?’ ” Her fellow Democrat Rodney Ellis helped her put on a back brace, but this led to the second point of order of the afternoon against her (after three points of order are sustained, a filibuster can be stopped). From then on, Davis knew she had to be error-free. She began to draw both strength and focus from the legion of supporters who had packed the Senate gallery. She was unaware that outside the chamber, the halls of the Capitol were filled with even more people rooting her on or that, by the end of the evening, more than 180,000 people around the world were watching a livestream of the proceedings, with many more following along on social media. Davis learned all this only later, after midnight, upon the defeat of the bill, when the evening’s takeaway seemed best expressed in a tweet by another emerging Texas Democrat, San Antonio mayor Juli├ín Castro: “When Texas turns Blue, tonight may well be looked upon as the beginning.”
No one knows for sure, of course, but we can imagine that the first Moral Monday back on April 27th, and those first 17 arrests for civil disobedience, was the beginning in North Carolina of throwing off the oppression of Teapublican rule, the skewed values and mean-spirited attacks on the poor and the unemployed, the micro-managing punishment of our cities, the triumphalism of fundamentalist religion hell-bent on destroying the social contract.

We can certainly thank the Rev. William Barber for his leadership in rallying the opposition. Without him, nothing would have happened. He's our Wendy Davis.

Guns Off Campus!

Ten student body presidents in the UNC system, including Dylan Russell of Appalachian State, have pushed back against the General Assembly's proposal to allow concealed weapons on college campuses.

Those ten student body presidents should prepare themselves for some vicious backlash.

But just wait, guys, for the Republican plans to keep you from voting.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"Top of the World, Ma!"

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, a  nonprofit government watchdog group, has named North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory one of the "Worst Governors in America."

McCrory: Chief Usher to Hell

McCrory's grinning-idiot delight over the new tax deal should tell you plenty. As the News&Observer says this morning, it ain't tax reform. It's a blueprint for the further destruction of public education and a damn give-away to the rich and already powerful. One paragraph from the N&O editorial:
This is not reform. This is not revising the tax code to plug holes and ensure fairness and create a system whereby there is reliable revenue from one year to the next. This is simply cutting taxes for the people most able to pay them and pandering to the business lobby.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Turns out that not that many people were thankful today for the new Republican majority in the NC General Assembly.

What NC GOP Is Thankful For

As Republicans launch their first "Thankful Tuesday" today in Raleigh, we guess they needed a website to enumerate all the stuff they're thankful for. We're certainly thankful for the website!

We See How It's Going To Be

We had no illusions about the Republican take-over of the local Board of Elections: road-block after road-block to actually letting the people vote.

Today, Republican member Bill Aceto refused to second a motion to accept new voter registrations. That motion would normally be followed by staff review of those new voters, confirming their addresses and their eligibility to vote. This is the first time that anyone can remember that a Board of Elections has refused to accept new voters, which is generally a pro forma and non-controversial step.

With only two members of the BOE present, because Jim Hastings is refusing to accept his appointment by the governor's office for unexplained reasons, nothing could move forward.

Ah, yes, the guardians of our right to vote are on the job!

Celebrating Their Next-To-Last Major Insult to the People of North Carolina

Tillis, McCrory, Berger
Why are these guys laughing?

Because they now have a deal to give huge tax breaks to the already wealthy while screwing public education, while screwing the unemployed and the poor, while screwing the environment, while screwing women (and not in a good way).

One last major screwing left to do ... voting rights.

McCrory's body-language in this photo from yesterday speaks volumes about how totally irrelevant he is, how secondary, how subordinate, how puny and ignorable. He's reduced to lying outrageously to claim some active participation in state government for himself ("I mingle with the protesters ALL the time!").

He and Tillis and Berger might want to take a look at the most recent polling in the state. Ain't pretty.

We Don't Have a Governor. We Have a Pope (Actually, Two of Them!)

Claude Pope
Art Pope's cousin Claude Pope, who also happens to be chair of the North Carolina Republican Party, is trying to organize a mass demonstration at the General Assembly today, "Thankful Tuesday," for Republicans/Tea Partiers to show their starry-eyed appreciation to the General Assembly for destroying North Carolina's reputation for progressive-ism and sympathy for the poor and weak.

Because, as all these Republicans like to say about Moral Mondays, demonstrations at the General Assembly mean nothing.

We'll keep that in mind.

Monday, July 15, 2013

"Not a Dime's Worth of Difference"

Rep. Rick Glazier of Cumberland County made comments on the floor of the NC House last Thursday about the motorcycle safety bill which suddenly became an anti-abortion bill, and it's the best dissection of both the bill and the motives behind it that we've seen. The fact that Gov. McCrory just as suddenly developed a hard-on for it, and said he would sign it, makes Glazier's analysis all the more germane. We suggest you read all of Glazier's statement, but we excerpt some of it here:
...this bill emerges from yet another rewrite by moonlight to the early morning sun yesterday under the intriguing and wholly non-transparent title of the “Motorcycle Safety Act” with some minimal changes in wording, but as Rep. Ruth Samuelson conceded, “the same intent” as the widely criticized Senate bill [which McCrory piously announced he would veto]. 
The result, of course, is precisely the same as the Senate bill and no different than if the bill expressly eliminated access [to abortion].... 
...Not a dime’s worth of difference in principle exists between the Senate bill or one that directly bars reproductive choice and this bill—they all take a slightly different route, but end up at the same intended destination: the effective elimination of meaningful choice in this state. And, claims to the contrary insult the intelligence! 
The law of abortion is set out in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, where the Court established the undue burden test for determining whether a statute restricting abortions could pass constitutional muster. Under Casey, a law is invalid if it places an undue burden on a woman’s right to have a pre-viability abortion. An undue burden exists if the state regulation has the effect of placing a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman’s choice to obtain that abortion. A state’s discretion to regulate on the basis of maternal health does not permit it to adopt abortion regulations that depart from accepted medical practice. 
In some quarters, these are known as constitutional principles. But apparently not on the floor of the NC General Assembly....
Today's Moral Monday event in Raleigh will focus on the rights of women with good reason.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Prophetic Movie Worth Re-Watching

It’s been 37 years since Paddy Chayefsky’s movie Network premiered and won acting Oscars for Faye Dunaway, Peter Finch and Beatrice Straight and a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for Chayefsky. Seeing the movie again after all these years, I’m inclined to say that William Holden should have won that Best Actor award (he was nominated too and was up against Finch), but since it was Finch’s last movie, I won’t begrudge him. He does after all make one hell of a crazy man who speaks the truth (see the clip below).

The movie is often considered a satire of the TV age, but Chayefsky and director Sidney Lumet said they were just reporting what was in fact happening to our culture. Indeed, they were prophetic in an almost frightening way. They predicted both “reality TV” and Fox News, and they certainly nailed the utterly corrupting influence of “The Tube.”

You can skip the ad below.

Kevin Siers, Charlotte Observer, 12 July 2013.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Assault on NC Cities Continues

Senate Bill 112 (let's call it "The Up Yours, Cities and Workers" Act, since the title put on it by its Republican sponsors is a complete lie) is only the latest assault on the ability of cities to protect their residents from mega-development. This law will cripple local control in the following ways:

1. Billboard companies would be able to replace completely, or "update," their signs even in areas where a city has banned them. In other words, billboards may visually pollute in perpetuity. Just because the citizens of a North Carolina city want to limit such things means nothing to these big government conservatives.

2. Protest petitions, used by neighbors to a proposed development to slow down changes to their neighborhood, will be eliminated from zoning laws. Protest petitions have been standard practice in North Carolina cities since the 1920s. Under that law, if a high percentage of near neighbors to a proposed development sign a petition, their collective action forces a city council to muster a "super-majority" of votes to approve the rezoning. But under Senate Bill 112, developers will have a much easier time pushing through their plans, whatever they may be.

3. Senate Bill 112 will also make hearing officers for the Industrial Commission, men and women who decide whether a company is at fault when a worker is injured, subject to political hiring and firing. Currently, those hearing officers, who sit as judges and should be free of political pressure, are protected by the state's Personnel Act. But this Republican wrecking crew wants them "fireable" at will, especially when one of them rules against a big company that happens to be feeding the campaign coffers.

This piece of vandalism cleared the NC House yesterday and goes back to the Senate.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

McCrory Tells a Huge and Gratuitous Lie

Buried way down in a Wilson Times interview with Gov. McCrory during his recent visit to that city is this baldfaced whopper:
McCrory said he has come out to hear what protesters are not happy about on the Moral Monday protests.

"I go out in the crowd all of the time,” McCrory said. "Frankly, yesterday I went out and talked to several of them and they were not very respectful. They did not represent the majority of those who call themselves moral by cussing me out. But that’s the way things go some times.”
"I go out in the crowd all of the time." Really! The governor waded out into the crowd at Moral Monday, repeatedly, and got cussed out by numerous participants, repeatedly, and not one single soul ever noticed him.

Keep in mind that it wouldn't have been just Gov. Squishy by himself in that crowd, because wherever he goes, he has his handlers and his flacks and his groomers and his simultaneous translators and his fluffers. Yet no one in the Moral Monday protests, nor anyone in the platoons of news people there, ever saw his sorry ass once, let alone repeatedly?

Could it have been because he really is an empty suit?

Both Sides of McCrory's Mouth: The Fix Is In

The Republican/Tea Party-dominated General Assembly of North Carolina is going to close down most abortion providers in the state, and the governor is going to sign the law.

Less than two hours after Gov. Squishy issued his veto threat of the Senate abortion bill yesterday morning, the Republicans in the House Judiciary Committee tacked virtually the same anti-abortion language onto a bill dealing with motorcycle safety ("Zen and the Art of Vagina Maintenance," someone tweeted), and according to one of its chief sponsors, Ruth Samuelson of Charlotte, Gov. McCrory is okay with it. Apparently, McCrory was involved in signing off on this snake oil at the same time his flacks were handing out the prepared statement.

It's virtually the same bill that the Senate passed and that McCrory said he would veto. Only a little language has been fudged to appear more moderate. But it ain't. "Advocates on both sides of the issue said the bill for all practical purposes has the same effect as the Senate measure," reported WRAL.

Kevin Siers in the Charlotte Observer, July 9, 2013:

Press Release

BOONE, NC – July 10, 2013: Despite a continuously increasing demand for shelter services the Hospitality House has made the difficult decision to discontinue the use of all emergency shelter overflow beds, effective immediately. When the new Hospitality House facility was completed, it included twenty-four emergency shelter beds, an increase of seven beds from the old 302 W. King St. house, twenty-nine family and transitional housing beds and nine long term housing beds – an overall increase of 68 percent....

What does this mean for the community? Those that become homeless will only be able to stay at the shelter if there is a regular bed available. Hospitality House will no longer be able to take in emergency situations from the hospital or law enforcement if all regular beds are occupied. Hospitality House will continue to serve unsheltered homeless citizens with day services including three daily meals, showers and laundry services....

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

McCrory Shows Some Courage While Soucek Shows His Ass

Dan Soucek
With his heart no doubt beating like a telephone book in a dryer, Gov. McCrory hid in his mansion while his minions delivered a written statement to reporters yesterday that the governor found it convenient to hide behind the skirts of his Secretary of Health and Human Services, Aldona Wos, who had already expressed concerns about the abortion bill to an NC House committee. "More study needed," said Wos. "Veto," suggested the governor.

Hoo boy!

This on the same day that Sen. Dan Soucek bragged to the Watauga Democrat: It was me, me, ME who introduced the anti-abortion amendment into the No Sharia Law bill. It was little me who poked a stick in the eye of every thinking woman in this state and caused an uproar that is far from dying down. It was little adorable me who cornered my own governor with no prior warning and caused a massive case of indigestion for House Speaker Thom Tillis. Ain't I a remarkable boy!?

For a man who's now bragging about putting this abortion law forward, he was certainly a no-show during what debate there was in the Senate. You can make up your own mind about the political brilliance of Dan Soucek, but someone needs to be prepping a campaign to run against him next year. Possibly a woman.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

No North Carolina City Is Safe From This General Assembly

The NC House yesterday gave final approval to a "local" bill that will force the city of Durham to annex a mega-development near Jordan Lake and to provide it water and sewer services. Passage of this atrocity is guaranteed in the NC Senate.

Gov. Squishy: "Yes, I Will Not Lead"

Gov. Pat McCrory in a press conference yesterday "didn't say specifically what he'd do" if the current abortion/Sharia oleo — "hastily moved through the Senate before the long July 4 holiday — came to his desk. As a candidate last fall, McCrory said in a televised debate he didn't want to sign legislation that creates additional abortion restrictions. (WRAL TV coverage)

"Rather, it sounded like McCrory, a Republican, wants to find a way to avoid a potential showdown with social conservatives in his own party and abortion rights advocates. He said he wants the House, which is next in line to review the bill Tuesday, to look at current clinic rules to see if they're reasonable and being enforced.

" 'There's a fine line between safety measures and restrictions, but those two lines should not be confused and I'm very concerned about the responsibility to ensure the health of women is protected,' the governor told reporters."

Poor McCrory! So many "lines"! So confusing! Which lines is he supposed to toe? Which lines must he not cross? And, in fact, which lines has he already gotten crossed? 

For example, in the press conference yesterday, he blamed President Obama for the ending of unemployment benefits for some 70,000 North Carolinians, while we distinctly remember that it was McCrory himself who signed that bill.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Question Is ... Can They Read?

Summing It Up

That's one hell of a paragraph:
Longtime observers of state government who’ve watched the muddled, comical and sometimes mean-spirited goings-on in the General Assembly say this session is different than any they’ve seen. It’s not a comment they make with admiration, though there is an element of awe over the sheer scope of the recklessness and political tone-deafness demonstrated this session.

Friday, July 05, 2013


Photo, Kellen Short, for Watauga Democrat
Watauga County Commission Chair Nathan Miller, who has tried his best to destroy the town of Boone, stepping out in Boone's July 4th parade yesterday. He's running now for a higher office.

He was all smiles. He was also all wet, which might be symbolic of something.

Why Are Local Newspapers An Endangered Species?

John Robinson says it's because they stay silent as our entire state is highjacked by an extremist agenda fueled by billionaire money.

Who is John Robinson? He spent 37 years in the newspaper business, 27 of them at the Greensboro News&Record. From 1999 to his retirement in 2011, he was editor of that newspaper. He knows a thing or two about the news business in North Carolina.

So when he writes that local county and city papers in the state "need to speak to their readers about what is happening in their state capital. And they need to do it with fist-pounding editorials on the front page, rather than carefully worded opinions on a page inside the paper," the ink-stained wretches everywhere ought to sit up and give heed.

Robinson accuses the Republicans in the NC General Assembly of "changing the culture and future of all of the state’s citizens. If that doesn’t call for front-page editorials, I don’t know what does."

What is the new Republican majority doing specifically that might demand a front-page editorial denouncing it?

* Restricting the opportunity to vote.

* Interfering with the operations of local governments.

* Taking the possibility of Sharia law in N.C. courts seriously.

* Cutting benefits to thousands of unemployed citizens.

* Cutting public education funding.

* Mocking protesters and calling them names.

* Protecting the health of corporations who promote fracking rather than the health of residents who live in fracking areas.

* And, of course, restricting access to abortions in a surprise move — surprise to opponents, but supporting organizations were invited to watch.

If local newspapers are going to be blind to the wholesale abduction of democracy -- and silent about it -- then perhaps they deserve to pass away as wholly irrelevant fish-wrap.

Now He Doesn't Want To Talk About It

Pat McCrory
Cornered at a July Fourth parade yesterday and asked what he was going to do about the anti-abortion bill passed by the Senate and now in the NC House's hands, Gov. Squishy said he didn't want to talk about it.

He added that he was currently praying that Thom Tillis in the NC House would take away that cup from him and not make him drink. Okay, I made that part up.

We have a moral coward for a governor.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Dear McCrory: Talk To the Hand

Gov. Pat McCrory said he was unhappy with the process that suddenly sprung major anti-abortion laws as an amendment to a bill banning Sharia Law from North Carolina.

The process, not the substance.

What an upstanding and courageous man is that Governor Squishy!

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Scorched Earth Burns Everyone

Refrigerator magnet already available in the giftshop.

Is the NC Senate Trying To Drive a Stake Through Thom Tillis?

The unannounced appearance of major anti-abortion legislation in the NC Senate, tacked on to a NC House law prohibiting Sharia law, and done so on the eve of a national holiday when Thom Tillis's House is out of town sipping beverages and relaxing, gives one pause to reflect.

Does Senate President Doug Berger hate Thom Tillis, or what?

And, Tillis, bless his heart, is trying to run as some sort of mythical North Carolina Republican moderate for the U.S. Senate, against a female senator, no less, who just might decide to rally the women of the state against what can be billed as "Mr. Tillis's abortion law," if he decides to go along with the Senate.

Tillis is on the spot with this. So's Squishy McCrory, who said back during the campaign of 2012 that he would not sign any further restrictions on abortion in North Carolina. Of course, he will, should it get to his desk, but the real question today is What Will Tillis Do?

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Of Course They Did

The Republicans in the NC Senate, not to be outdone by the troglodytes of Texas and Ohio and not to be out-shone by Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin, have suddenly sprung upon the women of North Carolina some sweeping new anti-abortion laws and tacked them all onto a bill about prohibiting Sharia law, which is funny, because nothing comes closer to the spirit of the Taliban than this latest expression of "we don't trust women to make their own decisions."

The new prohibitions would...

a. allow any health care provider, not just doctors and nurses, to opt out of providing abortion-related services.

b. prohibit health plans offered on the federal health care exchanges from offering abortion coverage. It would also prohibit state funds from being used for abortions, except to save the life of the mother in case of rape or incest. It would also prohibit city and county health plans from offering abortion coverage more extensive than the coverage offered to state employees. The state health plan does not cover abortions except in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother.

c. prohibit doctors from performing an abortion if they know the woman seeking it is doing so because of the gender of the baby (yeah, let's introduce a little adversarial nose-poking into the relationship between a woman and her doctor!)

d. require doctors to remain in the room for the entire abortion procedure, whether surgical or medical / chemical, thus limiting the number of abortions that a single doctor could perform.

e. require abortion clinics to have "transfer agreements" with local hospitals, thus limiting how many clinics could operate, since some hospitals would refuse to engage in such agreements. The measure is meant to be similar, but not exactly the same, as provisions in other states that require doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at local hospitals.

f. require abortion clinics to go through a licensing process similar to outpatient surgical clinics, thus making clinics more expensive to operate.

Apparently, Moral Mondays aren't nearly enough for the senators. They want a spectacle similar to the ones unfolding in Austin. We sincerely hope they get it.


Matt Phillippi, on the incipient Hagan/Tillis race in 2014 for the U.S. Senate:
...That’s why a Hagan/Tillis race just doesn’t interest me. It’s just two practiced political panderers fighting to see who gets to represent big business in the Senate, and just like a yacht race; when it comes down to it the winners are just a bunch of rich guys.

Monday, July 01, 2013

McCrory -- Leaving, Not Leading

The words "McCrory" and "disengaged doofus" have finally appeared in close proximity to each other, in a posting by political commentator Gary Pearce, no less.

Economic Fail

You think the Republicans in Raleigh really understand anything about the state's economy? Rob Christensen's column this morning in the News&Observer might open your eyes, unless you've got them taped shut.