Friday, January 31, 2014

Nutballs At the Tea Party

At the Republican Senate candidate forum on the banks of Loch Loman Lake Norman last night -- the Tea Party tribal stomp that loss leader Thom Tillis turned up his nose at -- Tea Party star Greg Brannon said he wanted to phase out Social Security. Apparently, some bicycle seats are fully edible, if old people would just apply themselves!

Heather Grant, the Nurse Ratched of Wilkes County, said she hoped to be one of the six new Republican senators that it'll take to try President Obama for impeachment. She also said that she wants to do away with the Environmental Protection Agency, because she can still see her hands in front of her face when she's outside.

Rev. Mark Harris of Charlotte's First Baptist Church said he was shocked -- shocked! -- that the U.S. House of Representatives had not already impeached Obama.

Rev. Harris also said he was hoping and praying that his BFF, Jehovah, would chasten the numerous Federal judges who were overturning anti-gay marriage laws all across the land, because God has ordained divine discrimination. Otherwise, Federal judges were going to split hell wide open when they land there, which will be soon.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

One Down. No Discernible Effect on Tillis

The talk-radio yakker is dropping out of the crowded Republican Senate primary field. Bill Flynn had already lost his campaign manager.

Well now. If the preacher, the nurse, the Shelby mayor, and one or two more also dropped out -- and endorsed the OB/GYN doc from Cary as they exited -- then maybe Dr. Greg Brannon would have a shot at beating Tillis in the primary.

None of which is going to happen.

Too many Lilliputians are trying to pull down the Brobdingnagian Tillis, who is shrugging them off like a horse's tail swishes flies.

And, yes, I am implying that Mr. Tillis is a horse's ass.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Does Thom Tillis Have a Republican Enemies List?

Leigh Thomas Brown
A realtor named Leigh Thomas Brown is challenging preacher man and incumbent Larry Pittman in the Republican NC House district representing Cabarrus County. Tea Party operatives are saying/suggesting that NC House Speaker Thom Tillis put her up to it because of the naughty things Pittman said about Tillis in a Cabarrus Tea Party meeting last year.

Interesting that Leigh Thomas Brown (who also apparently tried to run for governor in 2012) was very much opposed to Amendment One. Another Tea Party flame-thrower, "Lady Liberty," exposed that indiscretion.

According to The Daily Haymaker, another Republican House member who's gotten crossways with Tillis is also being primaried.

My, my! Are the country club Republicans reasserting their supremacy?

Another Domino Falls. Amendment One, Your Time Is Coming

BREAKING NEWS: Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina has reversed course and will now offer family coverage to same-sex couples under the Affordable Care Act. BCBSNC came under attack for pulling the domestic partner and family health insurance plans of same-sex couples who had applied for coverage under the ACA. Their original decision to cancel these plans was ironic since Blue Cross Blue Shield offers such coverage to their own employees and also includes domestic partner and same-sex family coverage in the employee plans of many of its largest clients.

North Carolina: Near the Bottom and Going Lower has published their rankings of the states, from best to worst. Guess where North Carolina sits on that list. Not at the absolute bottom but well within shouting distance, and we're saddled with a Raleigh regime that intends to drive us on down that pike.

Governor McCrory? 39th out of 51 (Politico included D.C. in the rankings).

Wealthiest per capita: we're 37th.

Lowest unemployment: we're 35th.

Lowest poverty rate: we're 38th.

Highest home ownership: we're 35th.

Highest percentage of high school graduates: we're 38th.

Longest life expectancy: we're 37th.

Lowest infant mortality rate: we're 45th.

Lowest obesity rate: we're 39th.

Highest reported well being (based on the Gallup index score): we're 35th.

Highest math scores: we're in a smokin' four-way tie for 25th!

Highest reading scores: we're 35th.

Least income inequality: we're 36th.

Lowest crime rate: we're 28th.

Highest percentage employed in science, technology, engineering and mathematics jobs (thank you, RTP!): we're 24th.

(Hattip: Rob Christensen in the Raleigh News & Observer for drawing our attention to these rankings.)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

NC Senate: Killing Puppies

Ann McCrory with her two pets
A North Carolina law regulating the humane treatment of dogs in our state's notorious "puppy mills" ... that was one of the few original things that Governor McCrory has advocated for, perhaps mainly because his wife Ann McCrory took up the cause.

Kinda sweet. Certainly innocuous enough. Pass a mamby-pamby law, and no one gets hurt.

The NC House passed House Bill 930 last year. Ann McCrory sat in the House gallery and watched, then held a press conference praising the action. But then nothing happened in the NC Senate.

Something just happened yesterday in the NC Senate with reference to H 930: Senate Rules Committee Chairman Tom Apodaca, in an apparent fit of pique, killed the bill in the Senate. Killed it dead.

Trying to figure out why leads to one man, Republican Senator Bill Rabon, who represents Brunswick County and happens to be a veterinarian. He happens also to have a smutty mouth and coincidentally a tall impression of himself as a powerful politician, a dangerous combination.

A "profanity-laced recording" of Sen. Rabon surfaced yesterday at WRAL. Rabon was taped before a citizens' group saying in essence, "Over my mutha-effing body will that puppy mill law ever pass the Senate!"

Rabon said a good deal more in the recording:

1.  He said that Republican leaders in the Senate -- including, presumably, himself -- had already decided that the bill wouldn't even be taken up in the Senate in the "short session" this year. “That bill is not going to pass,” Rabon told the group. “Angels in heaven cannot make that bill pass."

2.  He used obscenity to refer to House members who passed H 930: “They [the House] are a bunch of [expletive]. They got political heat. They said, ‘We can no longer sit on this. We know the Senate will not pass it because it’s a piece of crap, so we’ll send it to them, and they’ll take the heat.’ Ladies and gentlemen, that is politics 101.”

3. The "political heat" Rabon says melted the House's resolve came from Ann McCrory and her little hubby, and Rabon expressed contempt for them too: "He claimed that Ann McCrory's advocacy, including a visit to the House chamber to watch the May 9 vote, was 'against all laws.' 'There is a strong line between opinion and lobbying,' Rabon said. 'When you pick up the phone and you are in a position of power and call individual legislators and offer advice or praise or this or that, you are, under the law, lobbying, and you must be a registered lobbyist in this state to do that.' ”

Intelligent people dispute Rabon's understanding of the lobbyist law, but we'll let that pass.

4. (Here's where it gets really interesting!) Rabon said the "puppy mill" law shouldn't pass because it's too weak ("It's too weak") and because it's too strong ("standards for humane treatment could too easily be interpreted by a judge to apply to livestock as well as pets").

5. The issue for Rabon appears to be money, especially money flowing out of pig farms, which are abundant in his part of the world: “animal husbandry in this state ... is an $80 billion industry – larger than the other top five industries in the state,” he said. “There is a LOT of money involved." For Republicans, it always comes down to the money, and Rabon evidently fears that H 930 might force factory farms to stop the brutality.

6. Rabon bragged about his own power. He bragged a lot:
He told the group he would introduce a stronger bill in the future, but he wouldn’t give a date or year.
 ”When I do it, it will be done at the right time, and it will pass,” he said. “I’m in the top five members in power in the Senate. The best shot you folks have ever had, you’re talking to."
Brunswick Sheriff John Ingram, who also attended the meeting, asked Rabon whether a stronger bill would be able to pass the House as well as the Senate.
 “If it’s sponsored by me, 100 percent,” Rabon responded. “It’s that simple, folks. I don’t mean to brag.”
Well, of course he meant to brag. But did Senator Apodaca kill the bill because Rabon pulled back the curtain on the Republican leadership? Is Apodaca embarrassed?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Paul Stam to Pat McCrory: "Not So Fast There, Little Man!"

Governor Pat McCrory grandly announced last week that he would raise teacher pay. Guar-an-TEED. Why, he could do that with one hand tied behind his back.

But last Thursday, House Speaker Pro Tem Paul Stam said not so fast there, Hoss. No need to do that at all. We generous fellows in the NC General Assembly already made it possible for school districts to gut their other budget to raise salaries ... if they want to.

Charlotte Observer calls this "robbing Peter to pay Paul."

We call it "re-castrating an already castrated governor."

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Empty Suit Changes Its Shirt

Gov. Pat McCrory did more boosterism yesterday at a press conference in which he used his cabinet secretaries as a cheering section. Oh, rest assured: everything's just hunky-dory, though he wants to raise teacher pay, he said, without also admitting that he never let out a public peep when the Republican-dominated General Assembly continued to grind our teachers into dust with last year's austerity budget.

Admission of reality is not Mr. McCrory's strong suit. Fantasies inspired by ideological boilerplate occupy his mind. So that he continues to claim that he's actually helping the poor by denying them health insurance. And helping the unemployed by cutting them off the meager funds that keep their families in groceries.

Failures at the Department of Health and Human Services? Those have nothing to do with management but with some vague analogy out of Wall Street finance: "Maybe DHHS is too big to succeed." Or, just maybe, the McCrory administration is genetically geared to coddle the rich, and the poor completely flummox them. Just to recap McCrory's DHHS as of approximately 4:16 p.m. yesterday:
Last week, a group of doctors sued DHHS and its contractors over problems with a new Medicaid claims system. Needy people have gone hungry because of problems with another state software program. The pile of unprocessed food stamp applications in the state led the federal government to threaten the state with financial sanctions last month. The state violated federal privacy laws of nearly 50,000 children when it sent their insurance cards to incorrect addresses last month.
Mr. McCrory's "Carolina Comeback," his fantasy sloganeering, hinges apparently on off-shore drilling and the fracking of the state's underground water supplies, both terrifically similar to this present governor: full of empty promise and fraught with all sorts of hidden dangers and a heightened threat of environmental suicide.

Instead of putting on a new starched PR shirt, this governor needed to take a long shower with some strong lye soap to wash that Pope stench off his agenda.

And One More Makes Seven

Another Republican candidate has announced for the May primary for U.S. Senate, Dr. Edward Kryn, a retired physician living in Clayton. According to WLOS, he was born in Canada and became an American citizen only nine years ago. Opposes Obamacare, so he'll fit right in with the chorus.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

An Inspiring Book About an Exhausting Battle

In 1999 Watauga County businessman Paul Brown got a 99-year lease on some acreage on Belview Mountain in Avery County and then obtained a permit to strip-mine it for granite, which he intended to turn into gravel on the site. Mr. Brown managed to get that permit, it turned out, without first notifying the neighbors that he intended to mine next door to them. Notification, followed by a public hearing, was required by the North Carolina Mining Law, which was flagrantly ignored in this case.

One of the near neighbors to that proposed mine was the Appalachian Trail, less than two miles away on Hump Mountain in the Roan Mountain Highlands.

Minding his own business at the time was another near neighbor, Jay Erskine Leutze, a drop-out from corporate culture who was living a quiet and simple life in a cabin his family had built when he was a child. Leutze got a phone call from a teenaged girl and her aunt, a tough mountain woman named Ollie, who lived directly below Mr. Brown's mine site and whose very lives were on the line. "Can you help us?" Turned out, Leutze could.

So began a citizens' fight against big money that went on for years and which Jay Leutze and "his Dog Town bunch" of regular mountain people won. It's an incredible story told by a natural-born story teller, which is what Jay Leutze is, in a book published by Scribner's in 2012: "Stand Up That Mountain: The Battle To Save One Small Community in the Wilderness Along the Appalachian Trail." Leutze writes with humor and insight, and he's especially good at drawing the portraits of the mountain people he teamed up with to win a monumental citizens' rights case.

Legal Eagles: "Get Your Ideology Out of Her Vagina!"

U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Eagles has declared North Carolina's new Republican restriction on abortion, passed last year, an unconstitutional infringement of rights. The North Carolina law required women to undergo an ultrasound, and it required doctors to describe what the ultrasound revealed.

Judge Eagles ruled that states don’t have the power to force a health care provider to be the bearer of what she called an “ideological message in favor of carrying a pregnancy to term.” In other words, the new law violates the free speech rights of doctors.

Judge Eagles had previously put the law on hold while she considered its constitutionality.

“If these unconstitutional measures had gone into effect, doctors would have been prevented from using their best medical judgment to provide patients with care based on their specific individual needs,” said Jennifer Rudinger, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Pennsylvania Judge Strikes Down That State's Voter I.D. Law


Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley ruled that Pennsylvania's newly enacted requirement that voters must present an acceptable form of identification when voting in person "unreasonably burdens the right to vote," especially after the new law's sponsors couldn't identify any of the fraud supposedly prevented by the voter ID law. "The act was plainly revealed to be nothing more than a voter suppression tool."


Which raises this question: Is there a North Carolina suit in state courts -- rather than the federal system -- challenging the NC voter I.D. act? The Pennsylvania constitution, like the North Carolina constitution, is firm about infringing the right to vote. Someone needs to be suing in Wake Superior.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

These 40 School Systems (So Far) Are Suing To Stop Dan Soucek's School Voucher Scheme

Sen. Dan Soucek was a handy legislative tool in getting a provision into the state budget to grant up to $4,200 per student per year of taxpayer money to parents wishing to send their children to private schools. (In its original version, I believe this was called  the Kill Public Education Act of 2012.)

A lawsuit was filed Dec. 11 in Wake Superior Court challenging the constitutionality of the voucher scheme, and now some 40 school systems across the state have signed on as co-plaintiffs to that suit, including some obvious communists in places like Catawba, Cleveland, Rutherford, Surry, and Yancey counties (full list below).

They do not like your voucher scheme, Senator Soucek, and they think it bad policy, let alone unconstitutional, to rob public schools in order to fund private education.

Alamance County 
Asheboro City 
Catawba County 
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City 
Chatham County 
Cleveland County 
Columbus County 
Craven County 
Currituck County 
Davidson County 
Durham County 
Gates County 
Graham County 
Halifax County 
Harnett County 
Hyde County 
Lee County 
Lenoir County 
Lexington City 
Macon County 
Martin County 
Mount Airy City 
Onslow County 
Orange County 
Pamlico County 
Person County 
Pitt County 
Polk County 
Rockingham County 
Rutherford County 
Scotland County 
Stanly County 
Surry County 
Vance County 
Warren County 
Washington County 
Whiteville City 
Yancey County

Why isn't Watauga County on this list?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Another One Bites the Dust: Oklahoma's Ban on Gay-Marriage Struck Down

So, North Carolina, there you were, all warm and snug in your little castle, settling down for a long night's sleep, and you hear a commotion in the henhouse. You know you shut and bolted that door at dusk, even set a heavy limb against it to brace against varmints, but the hens are squawking, so you pull on your pants and a heavy coat, and you trudge out there with a good flashlight and your pistol, but you find the door still secure, the hens on their roost looking ... well, sheepish ... and you think, "Did I dream that squawking?" before you turn for the house. And then you feel it! The hot breath of the U.S. Constitution on the nape of your neck, pursuing you and your Amendment One, and you just know it in the pit of your well-fed stomach, you know you're about to be caught by a Raging Justice!
Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Terence Kern struck down the state of Oklahoma's constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, an amendment that, like North Carolina's Amendment One, was passed by a public referendum.

Judge Kern described Oklahoma's ban on same-sex marriage as "an arbitrary, irrational exclusion of just one class of Oklahoma citizens from a governmental benefit."

Judge Kern also said, "Equal protection is at the very heart of our legal system and central to our consent to be governed. It is not a scarce commodity to be meted out begrudgingly or in short portions. Therefore, the majority view in Oklahoma must give way to individual constitutional rights."

The equal protection of the 14th Amendment is not a scarce commodity to be meted out begrudgingly or in short portions. How plain, how direct, how couched in the metaphor of the family dinner table! You cannot, saith the judge, spoon out equality "in short portions."

This clear-eyed judge also said, "Exclusion of just one class of citizens from receiving a marriage license based upon the perceived 'threat' they pose to the marital institution is, at bottom, an arbitrary exclusion based upon the majority's disapproval of the defined class. It is also insulting to same-sex couples, who are human beings capable of forming loving, committed, enduring relationships."

All these constitutional points nailed home by Judge Kern were raised in North Carolina by many people in the spring of 2012, as voters approached the May primary during which our discriminatory Amendment One was enacted.

Get ready, North Carolina. You may not be next, but your day of reckoning is surely coming!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

107,000 North Carolinians: You Are So Pissing Off Thom Tillis

Speaker of the NC House Thom Tillis is basing his entire campaign for the U.S. Senate on the hatred North Carolinians will still be feeling for Obamacare, come November. He has nothing else. Hatred of Obamacare is his meat and potatoes, the lead in his pencils, the nub of all matter, his end-all and be-all, his heart, his soul, his very essence.

So the headline yesterday that "More than 107,000 NC residents have picked Affordable Care Act health insurance" did not necessarily make his day. Especially since he and fellow Republican leader Phil Berger have formed a joint legislative investigating committee to prove that Obamacare comes from the pits of hell.

So eff you, 107,000 North Carolinians, for undercutting Mr. Tillis's argument. How effing dare you! And who are you anyway?

According to the News & Observer, "23 percent of North Carolina’s enrollments have been by people ages 18 to 34, the age group essential to the program’s success." And "89 percent of applicants have qualified for subsidies, among the highest subsidization rates in the nation."

Oh. Okay. That makes it abundantly clear. Our 107,000 are too young to know any better or too poor to know any better, and Thom Tillis can safely ignore them as no-account.

Oh Aren't You All Smug and Comfy Now!

Governor McCrory, we're so delighted that you're well fed, well watered, well housed, and that you can rare back and make the claim that, until you arrived and saved us all from ourselves, people were moving to North Carolina just for the unemployment benefits. You actually said that, and you said it in a taped interview with Tom Campbell on NCSpin, so the evidence of your ... lie will live longer than the leather soles on the bottoms of your expensive loafers.

The folks at WRAL decided to check out the truth of that claim, since, you know, you've been known to speak untruths approximately every time you open your mouth.

WRAL asked The Guv's office where he got that information. Answer (I shit you not!): "The governor was referring to personal stories he’s heard." When pressed, The Guv's flack supplied three sources, none of them, when actually read, say one word about people changing states in order to get unemployment benefits.

WRAL also pointed out that in NC, the state that McCrory is allegedly governor of, "someone would have had to work in the state for around six of the last 15 months in order to be eligible for benefits," scarcely an incentive for pulling up stakes and quickly relocating here from, say, Brooklyn.

WRAL checked with experts who actually know stuff (and all comparisons to The Guv would be purely gratuitous): "Andrew Brod, an economist and researcher at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, said that McCrory's claim 'defies reason.' " (We think -- again, gratuitously -- that we may have found the perfect epitaph for this governor: DEFIED REASON.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Congresswoman Foxx Decides That the Fifth District Hasn't Suffered Enough

At 3:24 this afternoon, my in-box dinged with ineffable, cruel, inevitable news: Congresswoman Virginia Foxx will run for reelection.

What She Said
There is no place I’d rather live and represent in Congress than North Carolina’s Fifth District.

What She Meant
I'm the Tea Party Queen of D.C., bitches!


What She Said
I am energized and dedicated to working hard to find common-sense solutions to the challenges facing North Carolinians.

What She Meant
My Flying Monkeys are rested and hungry.


What She Said
Congress needs people who have a backbone, who will stand up for what’s right and who know how to solve problems without expanding government and without creating more debt.

What She Meant
Jonathan Swift, the political philosopher of the 18th Century, understood that if you feed the poorest to the slightly less poor, you take care of two birds with one stone.


What She Said
As a small-government conservative, I will remain vigilant in protecting our freedoms from the overreach of the federal government and will faithfully serve the people of North Carolina’s Fifth Congressional District.

What She Meant
I DO have that cookbook: "How To Serve Your Fellow Man." Personally, I like 'em cooked with an apple in their mouths, and some sweet potatoes as a side. Ha ha ha.

God Tells Another Republican To Run for U.S. Senate (Because God Has a Sense of Humor?)

Ted Alexander, former mayor of Shelby and currently chair of the Cleveland County Republican Party, apparently got The Call from God and is announcing today that he's entering the already crowded Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat currently help by Kay Hagan.

“It’s an inner tugging that you feel God’s compelled you to do it,” Alexander told the Shelby Star. “I just had to be obedient to go ahead and do that. It’s something internal that I knew I had to do it now. I think our country is now in a very critical stage in its life. There are things I’ve learned over the years that I think could help our state, as well as our country, during this time.”

And here we were, thinking that Rev. Mark Harris had the franchise on God in that particular race!

The Homophobe in Charge of Fair Elections in Forsyth

Watauga County is not alone in having a local elections board that's unfit for prime time.

Meet Forsyth County Board of Elections Chair Ken Raymond, who's doing what he can to supplant Luke Eggers as the most partisan elections official in the state.

Like Eggers, Ken Raymond was appointed to the Forsyth County Board of Elections by the Republican leadership back early in the summer, and from the get-go he was on a conservative Republican crusade to insert partisan politics into every nook and cranny of voting in Winston-Salem, but particularly nooks and crannies occupied by black voters.

Raymond has implied that massive fraud is happening in some polling places, particularly ones with majority black voting populations. He suggested placing sheriff's deputies in those precincts. He doesn't like a polling station at majority-black Winston-Salem State University. He's working to get Forsyth County Elections Director Rob Coffman fired, apparently because Coffman has opposed many of his partisan initiatives. Any of that sound familiar to Watauga Countians?

He also lacks a sense of humor about himself, erupting recently in a string of emails that displayed his inflated ego and, quite incidentally, a raging homophobia. To wit:

Back in December, the Winston-Salem Chronicle, a black-owned newspaper, called Raymond out for his allegiance to the Civitas Institute and for his resemblance to other silly far-right black conservatives:
“We think what really fired-up Raymond – who would be the result if Allen West and Herman Cain could produce a lovechild – is his contention that Coffman got snippy and disparaged the Civitas Institute, the Raleigh altar at which Raymond and other conservatives go to worship and receive their calls to action." (emphasis added)
At that provocation, Raymond went off in an email rant, horrified that the suggestion of male-on-male sex had somehow been hung around the neck of his parentage. He seems to have completely missed the if in that editorial sentence. Not that that qualifier would mean anything to this now unmasked homophobe. Raymond wrote the editor a blistering email:
“I’m a love-child produced by two men? Is this is (sic) what you call thoughtful and insightful commentary? This statement is extremely crude and unprofessional. In fact, that concept only leads your readers to think about some of the most debased things in our society.”
Like a boatload of other conservatives, just thinking about gay sex induces a bout of queer fear in Raymond that's perhaps much more revealing than he ever intended. We're embarrassed for him, quite frankly.

Chad Nance at Camel City Dispatch labeled this Raymond outburst as "a little homophobia mixed in with his delusions of grandeur."

He's fit to be a local elections board chair ... why, again?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Let Them Eat Pencil Shavings

Aldona Wos with The Guv
We have abundant evidence of how Pat McCrory and his top people feel about the poor in North Carolina. Deny them Medicaid assistance, cut off their unemployment, call them "morons" if they show up in Raleigh to protest, discourage their participation at the polls. It gets worse...

Also starve them.

The Department of Health and Human Services, ruled over by Duchess Aldona Wos, is supposed to help families in great need obtain food stamps. Instead, the department has dragged its feet, fumbled the ball, shown a callousness that passeth understanding, and now, as of Dec. 31, some 30,000 NC families had waited more than a month for food stamps. That figure represented a 10,000 jump in supplicant hunger, from numbers released in mid-November. Over 9,000 families have waited three months or more for relief.

The situation is so bad that the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which supplies most of the funding for the food stamp program, is threatening to end North Carolina's share of the money because of Aldona Wos's failure to deliver.

Wos and McCrory blame computer programs. They blame former Governor Bev Perdue. They blame every Democrat who every walked the earth. We blame their failure to give a good goddamn what happens to the poor and hungry.

Their attitude toward people stupid enough not to be as rich as they are is as plain as the maid in Aldona Wos's kitchen.

Alabama Blogger Thrown in Jail

This is a pretty incredible story about a muck-raking blogger, his worst enemy (himself), and a state Republican power structure that wants him silenced. Blogger Roger Shuler is the only person in the whole Western Hemisphere who is now listed as a "jailed reporter" on the list maintained by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Friday, January 10, 2014


Republican State Senator Thom Goolsby, a champion of transvaginal wanding and other right wing social engineering, has announced he won't be running for reelection for his seat in Wilmington.

Can hardly believe it, but he actually said he wanted to spend more time with his family.

McCrory Blocks Traffic on All Bridges Going into CD12

Congressman Mel Watt of the 12th District resigned his seat in Congress on January 6 to take his new job as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

His resignation should have triggered a special election to fill his unexpired term in the U.S. House.

But, no, Gov. McCrory decided that the seat could be filled on November 4, 2014, along with every other seat in Congress. In other words, citizens of the 12th Congressional District will have no representation in Congress for the next 300 days.

Well, after all, those people are mainly black and didn't vote for McCrory. Who the hell cares whether they have a congressman for 2014?

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

McCrory Raised Taxes and Shrunk the Workforce ... Yay?

Gov. Pat McCrory has been doing what he apparently does best ... bragging about stuff he doesn't understand and/or had nothing to do with. He trotted out a new campaign meme -- "Carolina Comeback" -- in front of his best buds, a bunch of fat cats gathered together in a ballroom by the NC Bankers Assn.

Bankers? Did McCrory also have his hands full of a cigar and a 12-year-old brandy?

McCrory bragged that Art Pope's his economic policies had given a big tax break to everybody and that unemployment had dropped, as if on command.

The actual facts are a bit less rosy. The General Assembly’s own Fiscal Research staff showed the blindly ideological Republicans they work for that a married couple with two children that earns $20,000 a year will pay $262 more in taxes, once the “reform” McCrory is touting goes into effect. That's because the "tax break" was actually a "tax transfer." The rich pay less; the poor and middle class pay more in sales taxes at every turn.

Unemployment? UNC Chapel Hill Economics Professor Patrick Conway pointed out that the unemployment rate is down because the labor force has shrunk in the state some 2.5% in 2013.

Statistics, damn statistics, and lies. As Chris Fitzsimon wrote, "Workers who are no longer seeking employment are not eligible for unemployment benefits and they are not considered part of the labor force when calculating the state unemployment rate. Fewer workers looking for jobs means a lower unemployment rate even if no jobs have been created. McCrory is essentially boasting about an unemployment rate that is masking the state’s economic problems, not reflecting any successes in rebuilding the economy."

The bankers, incidentally, gave The Guv a standing ovation.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Rinse. Repeat.

Governor Pat McCrory, what a mensch! What a guy! What a brave and responsible fellow, to stand right up there yesterday and blame both Obama and former Gov. Perdue for the screwup in his Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), a screwup that mailed personal and confidential information about 49,000 children on Medicaid to 49,000 total strangers.

The Governor was apparently wearing his Deflector Ring (or does DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos have some compromising photos of him?).

Micah Beasley, a spokesman for the North Carolina Democratic Party, said, "Pat McCrory ... fills state government with over-priced, under-experienced campaign aides and political donors and then refuses to take responsibility for unending errors created by this administration. Protecting North Carolinians’ private information shouldn’t be a part of the governor’s political blame game.”

He'll be whining that the NC press is out to get him by cocktail hour.

Monday, January 06, 2014

North Carolina: "First in Cronyism"

That awkward moment when Phil Berger's fingerprints are found all over a no-bid provision written into the state budget, whereby only one company in the land could meet the specific provisions put into the law.

The Medora Corp. in North Dakota got the $1.4 million no-bid contract to "stir" the pollution in Lake Jordan, and there's an email history to show that NC Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger engineered that little piece of special dealing.

Kay Hagan Does Something Useful

The U.S. Senate is due to take up what amounts to emergency extension of federal jobless benefits today, and Sen. Kay Hagan has managed to get inserted into the proposed legislation an extension for North Carolina's jobless despite the Republican cruelty in Raleigh that cut them off last year.

(Background, from the N&O: "North Carolina lost its federal unemployment benefits last summer when the General Assembly reduced the amount of state benefits and the length of time that unemployed people can receive them. A federal regulation says that states cannot receive Emergency Unemployment Compensation money if they reduce state benefits.")

Hagan knows where to place the blame (as do we all!) -- squarely on the doorstep of the man running to replace her in the U.S. Senate, NC House Speaker Thom Tillis. Hagan said, “The General Assembly irresponsibly passed a bill that knowingly and willfully violated federal law and made North Carolina the only state to lose this critical federal assistance, and I’m doing everything possible to remedy the damage this law has done to struggling middle class families who were cut off from this crucial lifeline through no fault of their own."

Cool move, Senator Hagan!

And cue the Republican whining.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Kim Strach: Building a Stone Wall?

Kim Strach, the McCrory-appointed Executive Director of the State Board of Elections, "is married to Phil Strach, a Raleigh attorney who is former legal counsel to the state Republican Party." And, since April 2013 when a formal request was filed with the SBOE to investigate the $230,000 in political contributions from a sweepstakes gambling honcho in Oklahoma, until now, there has been no visible forward movement on that investigation.

The sweepstakes gambling honcho, Chase E. Burns, gave big bucks to dozens of NC politicians (including Pat McCrory, Phil Berger and Thom Tillis) "in an apparent effort to boost legislation that would allow sweepstakes games across North Carolina. Many of the contributions were handled by the Charlotte offices of Moore & Van Allen, the law and lobbying firm where McCrory worked before becoming governor."

According to the N&O, "The Associated Press reported that Burns recently pleaded no contest in Florida to two criminal counts of assisting in the operation of a lottery. The deal led to the dropping of 205 felony counts, including racketeering and money laundering charges. The AP said Burns’ contributions in North Carolina appear to have come from a checking account that held money seized by Oklahoma authorities as 'laundered proceeds' from a criminal gambling enterprise."

But Kim Strach is apparently distracted. Maybe she's still looking through all the drawers in her new desk and updating her wardrobe.

UNC-TV Buried the Bill Moyers Investigative Piece on NC Politics

UNC-TV is getting a nationwide black eye for essentially suppressing the Bill Moyers piece, "North Carolina, Battleground State." You can watch it here and get completely around UNC-TV's lack of enthusiasm for it.

We owe the Camel City Dispatch for being on the case.

Hahahaha! Art Pope strikes back: "These are not the 'droids you're looking for."

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Republican Civil War

According to Joe Killian in the Greensboro News&Record, Conservatives for Guilford County, a tea party-inspired political action committee, has been "a divisive presence in Guilford County Republican circles for several years. The group has supported primary challengers against sitting Republicans that it said aren’t real conservatives, butted heads with Republican Party leadership, and traded barbs with Republican stalwarts like Greensboro City Councilman Tony Wilkins, Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes and former Guilford County Commissioner Billy Yow."

Therefore, Conservatives for Guilford County is holding its own candidate forum on Monday to which not-conservative-enough Republicans running for U.S. Senate or U.S. House in the 6th Congressional District are either not invited or were invited but declined to come.

House Speaker Thom Tillis, the leading Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, ain't coming. Neither is the leading candidate for Congress, Phil Berger Jr., who's running to replace Congressman Howard Coble along with a sizable collection of ... also rans.

Greensboro City Councilman Zack Matheny, Berger's most credible rival for the 6th Congressional seat nomination, was blunt in his refusal to attend the Tea Party dust-up: “That group has made it a point that they don’t support me. Some of their members say and write bad things about me constantly. So even if I didn’t have another event, I doubt my team would recommend I attend anyway.”

Jesse Helms's old operative Carter Wrenn is working for Bruce VonCannon, another rival to Phil Berger. VonCannon feigned ignorance about the candidate forum: I know nothing about it, VonCannon claimed, which means, we guess, that he ain't courting the Far Right (which also raises the question about what sort of campaign advice he's getting from Wrenn, who is fully capable of surprising us on a fairly regular basis).

Wrenn told Joe Killian that he thought a primary death-match between the Tea Party and the Republican establishment was salutary for the future of the party.

Maybe. Whether a chair-flinging, bare-knuckled, eye-gouging, balls-to-the-walls primary helps or hurts November turn-out for Republicans remains to be seen. And whether Carter Wrenn thought it was a good idea or not, he's got it coming straight at him.

Fun times!

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Goodbye to All That

Well, thank Gawd that's over!

Not just the Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year's mash-up, though I'm always happy to return to plain foods, like navy beans and cornbread. (Farewell, cream cheese!)

But thank Gawd 2013 is over, that Tea Partying, backward moving, cookie pimping, public school destroying, environment trashing, female privacy invading, unemployed workforce punishing, tax raising, wealthy asshole coddling, Art Pope enabling, repressive societal engineering, bigot pandering Year of Extremism Unleashed ... Year of Inepititude in the Highest.

Finally, we get to campaign and vote against The Regime.