Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Every North Carolina Village May Now Reclaim Its Idiot

Hattip: the late, great Molly Ivins.

There's existing folklore that the spit of a person experiencing rage -- let's classify it as spitting rage -- can kill a cat. If that's the case, there are many dead or at least severely disabled cats all across North Carolina, anywhere citizens have been paying close attention to the behavior of our General Assembly in Raleigh.

The Honorables finally adjourned about 4:30 a.m. this morning, the longest, most rageful legislative session since 2002. Some gawd-awful bullshit failed to pass, perhaps only because the bosses were finally just too drunk on their own power to any longer give a good gawd-damn about any further stomping on cities and public schools, reversing their previous Golden Rule of "kick 'em while they're down."

Idiot of the Week: Rep. Larry Pittman of deepest Cabarrus County, who claimed that Planned Parenthood might be giving out defective condoms so it could subsequently increase the number of profit-making abortions.

Congratulations, North Carolina! The slow strangling of your public schools continues on schedule, and your teachers are now considered employees of the worst system in the 50 states. (On the "too-exhausted-to-kick-them-any-more" side of the ledger, the NC House bottled the Senate spider that would have siphoned more money off public schools for charters but promised to unbottle it again next spring.)

Congratulations, North Carolina! Your bigoted elected officials are officially protected from The Gay by the passage of "The I'm Too Holy To Issue Marriage Licenses to Same Sex Couples Act of 2015."

Congratulations, North Carolina! Your Medicaid system is now in the hands of for-profit private companies.

Congratulations, North Carolina! Once again, you raised taxes on middle- and working-class families through increased sales taxes on services used by the non-rich. Meanwhile, the rich need more maids.

Congratulations, North Carolina! You allowed Republican leaders in the General Assembly to set up their own quasi-political parties, i.e., slush funds, that can take unlimited contributions from corporations.

Hope you're proud, North Carolina. If not, please spit away from the cats.

One Piece of Crap That Didn't Pass: Provisions suddenly inserted into a wholly unrelated Senate Bill 279 would have prevented city governments from enforcing fair housing requirements, employment protections for LGBT individuals, or ordinances increasing the local minimum wage. Rep. Skip Stam, the Black Frost from Apex who hates LGBT accommodation as much as he hates abortion, tried to run the provisions in the House but finally had to give up in the face of opposition.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

NC Citizens Fight Back Against Fracking

Senate bill 786, passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Squishy in June of 2014, threw this state wide open to fracking, even though the enabling bill was innocuously and misleadingly titled "The Energy Modernization Act." It should have been titled "The Knee-Capping of North Carolina Citizens Act."

The Republican tools of the gas industry made sure that the bill not only welcomed a nasty polluting industry with open arms but also contained sharp obstacles for local governments that might not want their ground water contaminated. Section 14.a reads in part:
It is the intent of the General Assembly ... to place limitations upon the exercise by all units of local government in North Carolina of the power to regulate the management of oil and gas exploration, development, and production activities by means of special, local, or private acts or resolutions, ordinances, property restrictions, zoning regulations, or otherwise. 
Bottomline for counties and cities: you can not and will not protect yourselves and your citizens from fracking, so don't even think about it.

Nevertheless, local elected officials, acting as though they are responsible to those who elected them rather than to the oil & gas industry, have been passing moratoria on fracking. They are claiming that S786 does not explicitly outlaw moratoria -- which are, by definition, temporary stoppages -- but we wonder if that argument will stand up in court.

Chatham County passed a two-year moratorium on fracking in August. Last night, a unanimous vote by a 100% Republican county commission in Stokes passed a three-year moratorium. Commissioners in Lee County have launched the process of writing their own moratorium.

The legality of these moratoria -- not to mention the rights of local citizens through the agency of their local governments to protect their health, safety, and property values -- has not landed in a state court yet, possibly because the fracking industry is in a bit of a coma because of falling prices (thank you, Saudi Arabia). The only drilling we know of currently in North Carolina is in -- where else? -- Stokes County, in the community of Walnut Cove, where the NC Department of Environmental Quality is test-drilling for the explicit future benefit of the industry (as also provided for in S786).

Yes, O my brethren, the industry tools in the General Assembly put in taxpayer money to help the fracking industry find the best pockets of shale gas. That's who they're working for, if you still had any doubts.

County citizens in places where shale gas has been identified as commercially exploitable -- and that would include Stokes, Chatham, and Lee counties, by the way -- are not going to take this treatment lying down. At least, we hope and trust that they won't lie down.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Update on HB 539 Charter School Funding Bill

While the NC legislature finally agreed on a budget almost two weeks ago, they are not quite finished. This past week they brought back HB 539 for consideration. HB 539 provides additional funding for charters by taking non-instructional funding away from traditional public schools. Legislators will be considering the bill Monday Sep 28th, so they need to hear from constituents now. Moreover, some legislators are saying that they are hearing from charter school advocates but not from public school advocates.

Legal experts are confident that litigation is inevitable if the bill passes; this wastes even more precious state funds that could be saved by delaying the bill to study it. has contact info and bill info.

Charter schools already receive their fair share of all direct instruction monies and additional special education monies. This funding is following the child. But HB 539 requires certain other monies to be shared also. I'd like to share two examples to illustrate that this legislation needs to be tabled and studied.

Watauga County Schools provides an after school program. This program is self-sufficient, meaning that they charge families for the services rendered. There is no profit margin here, but HB 539 makes these fees become shared.

I am not completely certain how the sharing percentage will be calculated, but instructional monies are shared based on enrollment. Roughly, about 4.3% of Watauga students attend our charter school. Using this figure about $7.50 of the monthly after school $175 fee would have to be shared. Where will this money come from? Two obvious sources are the after-school parents in the form of increased fees, or some other part of the underfunded school budget.

As another example, Watauga County Schools is enjoying near record levels for its high school graduation rate. But we continue to look for ways to improve. If we were to receive funds targeting graduation rate improvements, we would be required by HB 539 to share those funds. Does it matter if the charter school does not have a high school program? No, the funds must be shared.

Watauga County is very fortunate to have a successful charter school in Two Rivers Community School. (Many charters have been mismanaged and folded.) I know many families that have children there, and I know many of the teachers. I appreciate them and the good work they do. And I support the principle that money collected by the state and allocated to teach students should follow those students that choose to go to Two Rivers. 

But as these examples show, HB 539 siphons away operational funds not even collected by the state. In essence it adds a type of charter school surcharge to many programs. I ask you to consider contacting our local representatives asking them to delay HB 539 for further study.

Jay Fenwick
Watauga Board of Education Member

The Watauga GOP's Problem with the State Board of Elections

The Watauga Republican Party has received numerous letters from the State Board of Elections since at least 2010 citing the party for non-compliance with North Carolina elections law and assessing penalties. The latest of those penalty assessment letters is reproduced below.

Not only has no one been filing the required quarterly reports, but also no one appears to have been picking up mail at the post office.

Incidentally, "Watauga REC" in the inside address stands for Watauga Republican Executive Committee.

Dallas Woodhouse To Direct Daily Operations of NCGOP

Dallas Woodhouse was selected by the state Republican Central Committee yesterday to take over the state party as executive director.

He's the past state director of Americans for the Prosperous, which gives him good pipelines to the Koch Bros., and he founded the political action committee Carolina Rising, a 501.C.4 which put its muscle behind the election of Pat McCrory in 2012 and the election of Thom Tillis in 2014.

There's this YouTube video of Woodhouse being interviewed at a post-election celebration on the night of Tillis's election:

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Renee Ellmers Has Herself a Primary Opponent

Feds Open Criminal Investigation of McCrory's DHHS

Aldona Wos, gone but not forgotten
You're excused if you don't remember that Aldona Wos, the serial bumbler at the head of the Department of Health and Human Services, resigned from her office last August 4 (Gov. McCrory actually shed a public tear over it), precisely one week after she received a Federal subpoena delving into possible criminal misappropriation of public funds and no-bid payouts to close personal and political friends.

Targets of the subpoenas, aside from Wos herself, who during her tenure handed out high-dollar no-bid contracts like the Easter Bunny bestowing chocolate eggs:

1. Les Merritt (there's that marvelously prophetic name again!), who had been the Republican state Auditor until he was defeated by current Auditor Beth Wood. He was hired by Wos via a no-bid contract as chief financial officer for the state’s mental health division. "During the first six months of the contract, in 2013, Merritt said he worked 200 hours and he was paid $52,000. That rate of $260 an hour made him the highest-paid hourly employee working on a personal services contract in state government that year. The contract paid Merritt $312,000 for a year, after which he left the department."

Merritt (!) was also appointed to the state Ethics Commission by Gov. McCrory and was enjoying his no-bid contract with DHHS at the same time that he was overseeing other people's ethics until WRAL questioned the potential conflict of interest. He promptly resigned from the Ethics Commission.

2. Thomas L. Adams, who was hired as Wos's "chief of staff" for an eye-blink -- one month -- after which he got his golden parachute ... "severance pay" of over $37,000.

3. Joe Hauck, "senior advisor" to Wos, whose main qualification appears to have been his close financial relationship with Wos's husband. Hauck got another of those no-bid contracts, worked a total of 11 months, and pocketed $310,000, which, according to the N&O, was "$50,000 more than the annual salary of the agency’s highest-paid doctor." It came out via AP reporting that Hauck had produced literally three whole pages of "work product" for that $300K.

4. Alvarez & Marsal, a D.C. "consulting firm," which was hired on a no-bid contract to manage the state's Medicaid finance office. Alvarez & Marsal has so far soaked the state for up to $9 million.

To their credit, members of the General Assembly with oversight responsibilities did grill Wos about this contract, making their skepticism about her management abilities crystal clear to everyone except our clueless governor.

5. Angeline Sligh, who was hired to manager the overhaul of the state's Medicaid billing system. Sligh has already been the target of three different state audits (thank you, Beth Wood!), which found that Sligh had wasted at least $1.6 million "through excessive pay to temporary employees, paying temp agencies instead of the state’s less expensive in-house service, paying unjustified overtime, and giving holiday pay to ineligible employees. At least 15 people with personal connections to Sligh were hired in her office. She had hired friends and others she knew, including some from the church she attended and her hairdresser’s sister."

Read more here:

Read more here:

Friday, September 25, 2015

Virginia Foxx Declares Pope Francis a Fairly Good Catholic

Well, after all, Virginia Foxx has a complex religious affiliation. She told The Hill soon after she was first elected to Congress, "I was baptized as a Catholic and then attended a Baptist church and was baptized as a Baptist.”

The "Baptist" in this one is strong, at least when she's parading her religiosity for the regular Baptist homefolks. Foxx's published statement RE the Pope's visit to Capitol Hill suggests that she was doing some serious squirming during his speech to Congress. She could find exactly one measly sentence in Francis's address that earned her praise, that vague one about "life," which satisfied her need to polish her conservative bona fides RE abortion.

Meanwhile, the Catholic in her wanted hugs, kisses, and autographs from Pontifex. We remember well her grabbing George W. and planting a wet kiss and her hounding of Obama for his autograph.

Who'll Be King of That Mountain?

We had heard that Dallas Woodhouse, past director of the North Carolina branch of Americans for the Prosperous and a partisan warrior par excellence, was in the running to be the new executive director of the NC GOP -- in the running and very possibly running far ahead -- but now comes news that a rival by the name of Johnny T. Shull has emerged, with an impressive resume, and is moving up on the outside, ridden hard by a millionaire who thinks the NC GOP has gone all squishy and insufficiently conservative.

Johnny T. Shull's letter of application and full resume have surfaced on the InnerTubes, and you can see for yourself how brightly his star shines, especially that connection to the Koch Bros., which gets mentioned twice and fulsomely.

Shull is being recommended to the Central Committee of the NC GOP by Bob Luddy, who made news earlier this year by announcing to the Republican leadership in the General Assembly that he was withholding the $25,000 he had planned to donate to the House Republican Caucus because of the House's dangerous moderation. I'm not making that up.

Luddy hearts Shull for the executive directorship of the NC GOP, apparently, because there's not an ounce of moderation anywhere in Shull's circulatory system.

The Central Committee is supposed to pick their E.D. this weekend.

The bill to move all political primaries up to March 15 -- the freaking Ides -- passed both houses of the General Assembly yesterday and is on its way to The Guv.

A provision was added by the Republican pooh-bahs which appears to be an end-run around the new Republican Party Chair Hasan Harnett. The new law sets up "affiliated party committees," which will allow power-brokers in the NC House and Senate to set up their own fundraising and fund-dispensing operations, separate and apart from the state parties.

This provision was pushed -- inserted? -- by Rep. David Lewis, Republican of Harnett County, who had been a major force supporting someone else besides Hasan Harnett for state Party chair. Looks like Lewis has found a way to make Hasan Harnett totally irrelevant.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Challenge to Voter ID Will Continue in State Court

Wake County Superior Court Judge Mike Morgan ruled yesterday that the lawsuit challenging the new voter I.D. law will not be dismissed, although he agreed to continue with a trial only after the March 2016 primaries.

Challengers of the I.D. law are arguing in state court that it violates Article I of the NC Constitution in adding a new "qualification" for voting. This lawsuit is totally separate from the suit in Federal court that was heard in Winston-Salem this summer. A ruling has not been issued in that case.

State lawmakers and The Gov are arguing in state court what they also argued in Federal court, that their 2015 amendment to Voter I.D. -- allowing anyone without the Republican state-mandated proper type of photo I.D. to swear to their incapacity to get one and thus vote a provisional ballot -- makes the suit against Voter I.D. moot.

Judge Morgan didn't agree with that argument.

Guaranteed: advocates on both sides of the fight will be gathering concrete evidence of the impact of photo voter I.D. requirements during the March primaries, unless, of course, that Federal judge in Forsyth County reaches a decision in the meantime that disables the whole enterprise.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Past Ain't Past

To understand some of the mind-set of the current Republican regime in total control of North Carolina, you might do worse than to read Rob Christensen's column from yesterday about the passing of ex-Democratic Senator Harold Hardison, a major power-broker in the General Assembly back when Democrats ran everything and were keeping North Carolina conservative enough to please even Phil Berger.

Christensen takes some time to show that the current Republican regime has returned environmental regulations to the same weak condition that Hardison established as a reaction to President Richard Nixon's Environmental Protection Agency back in the 1970s. Behold! The old is made new again.

The migration of those conservative Democrats to the current Republican Party of North Carolina took off like a stampede of caribou following the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and if you begin to suspect that race is the key to understanding both conservative Democrats and current Republicanism, you need look no further than the shocking Obama win here in 2008 and the fire that surprise ignited in new Republicans and old Democrats, the instant resurgence of white rage in the general elections of 2010 when the Republicans took the General Assembly lock, stock, and smoking barrels and began to take the state back to where the conservative Democrats had held it for decades, tamping down on the progressive vote and dealing with progressive advancement achieved by governors like Terry Sanford the way exterminators deal with infestation.

The conservative, reactionary forces cannot succeed ultimately, but they can set us back in the mud for years.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Blood on the Moon, Chum in the Water ... The Terminus of Modern Republicanism

At a time when Carly Fiorina parades an acidic self-righteousness and Donald Trump trumpets a tin-horn's strong-man act and Ben Carson puts religious bigotry on fulsome display -- the three leaders in the Republican presidential primary -- it makes perfect sense that a mayoral candidate in Kings Mountain, NC, would come forth advocating...

1. the eradication of all homosexuals;

2. making divorce, alcohol, and "all immigration" illegal;

3. reduced "governance," because the "blood moon" on September 13 heralds an apocalypse anyway.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Get Ready for the Incumbent Enablement Act of 2015

This week in Raleigh, the General Assembly will very likely move up the 2016 primary elections  to the Ides of March -- for all offices, from the White House to the Courthouse.

Meaning, primarily, that challengers to incumbents will have far less time to make their case, whether they're challenging a sitting (squatting?) county commissioner or a posturing U.S. Senator.

Republicans in the General Assembly want to make North Carolina a playah and attract some of that national money from aspiring presidential campaigns. They're tired of being irrelevant in picking the next Republican nominee, since in the recent past, the ultimate nominees have been decided well before North Carolinians got to vote in May.

The forward push for the 2016 primaries will also mean an accelerated filing-for-office period. Filing for county commissioner, school board, state House and Senate, and on up to U.S. Congress and U.S. Senate (not to mention governor and the entire Council of State) will open this December.

We're at the mercy of manipulators, prima donnas, and gut-busted little dictators in Raleigh.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Just One More Worm in the State Budget Bill

It's slowly going to dawn on folks -- or maybe not! -- just how badly they're being screwed by the new budget&tax bill passed by the General Assembly very, very late Thursday night and signed by Governor Squishy the next day.

For example, when people get slapped with that 30% increase in Department of Motor Vehicle fees.

Worse ... the Republicans decided to slap sales taxes on car repairs. As John Boyle points out this morning, who gets their cars repaired more often?  "People with older cars, also known as folks already struggling to get by. Sales tax on hundreds of dollars in repairs will sting those who can least afford it. A regressive tax."

Meanwhile, the rich are doing just fine under this Raleigh regime, which depends for its longevity on the poor and struggling not having a clue how they're being screwed, and by whom.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Bad News/Good News RE Voting Rights

The painted Republican ponies on the State Board of Elections continue to go round-'n'-round, but certain key voter rights in North Carolina remain in effect -- so far, at least -- for this fall's municipal elections.

1. Not surprising at all, the three Republicans on the State Board of Elections voted yesterday to defy Wake County Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens' ruling last year ... as they voted 3-2 to accept the Aceto-Eggers Early Voting plan for this fall's elections ... thus denying once again a polling site on the Appalachian State University campus and (in order to seem consistent?) also denying an Early Voting site for Blowing Rock, which had requested one.

2. Until Federal District Court Judge Schroeder rules in the voting rights challenge to NC's new voting law (the case argued in Winston-Salem this past summer) -- and this may come as a surprise -- Same Day Registration during Early Voting and out-of-precinct voting on Election Day are BOTH STILL in effect for the 2015 municipal elections.

To use Same Day Registration (only available during Early Voting), a voter must provide one of the following identifying documents to an election official at any Early Voting location (which in Watauga's case, will be only at the county courthouse):

NC driver’s license
Other government photo ID
Utility bill, bank statement, or payroll stub with name and current address
Student photo ID with a school document showing the student’s address
Any document from any government agency with the voter’s name and current address
Out-of-precinct voting means that on Election Day a voter can cast a ballot that will be counted (at least in part) at any voting precinct in his or her county.

Again, a court ruling could change this situation, but for now Same Day Registration and out-of-precinct voting are the law of the land.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Core of the Argument Before the SBOE on Friday

Watauga County Board of Elections minority member Stella Anderson has submitted to the NC State Board of Elections (SBOE) an alternative Early Voting plan for the municipal elections upcoming in November, along with a highly detailed supporting argument. This is the conclusion of that argument (with my further notes below):

While it is true the Majority has authority and discretion in determining one-stop voting locations, such discretion cannot stand against logic and evidence. There is no rational basis for the Majority’s refusal to establish one-stop voting locations in ASU’s Student Union and Blowing Rock Town Hall for the 2015 municipal elections:
            (1) The Watauga Board’s budget is not affected with the addition of early voting sites at ASU and in Blowing Rock because the municipalities pay the full cost;
            (2) Director Strach stated it is acceptable for local county Boards to get input from their towns in regards to one-stop voting locations, and other North Carolina counties did so;
            (3) Including one-stop sites at ASU’S Student Union and Blowing Rock Town Hall does not jeopardize the integrity of the elections nor undermine local Board authority in any way;
            (4) The Town governments of Boone and Blowing Rock have specifically requested one-stop locations in ASU’s Student Union and Blowing Rock Town Hall in order to increase voter participation and opportunity;
            (5) Including satellite one-stop voting locations in the ASU Student Union and Blowing Rock Town Hall will make up for this year’s inherent and dramatic reduction in early voting opportunities for Watauga County’s two largest municipalities;
            (6) The ASU Student Union is a preferred early voting site for voters of all ages, and both ASU’s Student Union and Blowing Rock Town Hall offer exceptional one-stop locations; and
            (7) Past election results unequivocally demonstrate that the lack of an ASU early voting site results in unconstitutional discrimination against the voting rights of a protected class of young voters.[i]

[i] Anderson, et al v. North Carolina State Board of Elections, “Petition for Judicial Review,” 14 CVS 012648, September 19, 2014.

Cowboys with an unconstitutional horse to ride
Note on (2) above: pursuant to a letter from Executive Director of the SBOE Kim Strach to all county boards of elections, suggesting that they consider input from municipalities before setting Early Voting plans for municipal elections, Stella Anderson wrote a letter to the four Watauga County towns (Chair Luke Eggers refused to write the letter). Both Blowing Rock and Boone requested satellite Early Voting sites, but when Anderson presented that request to the full Board of Elections, Eggers and Bill Aceto refused to honor the requests.

Note on (5) above: The Eggers/Aceto plan will slash Early Voting availability from 113 hours over a period of 2 ½ weeks in the 2013 municipal elections to a total of just 68 hours for 10 days this year, if the SBOE allows it to go forward. 

Note on (7) above: "Unconstitutional" ... that's exactly the word used by Senior Wake County Superior Court Judge Donald W. Stephens last year, when he ordered the SBOE and the Watauga Board of Elections to restore an Early Voting site in the ASU Student Union. That ruling hasn't been overturned.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

SBOE Deals With Watauga ... Again!

Notorious Aceto & Eggers
Photo by Lonnie Webster
This coming Friday in Raleigh, the NC State Board of Elections will consider the challenge to the Watauga County Board of Elections' Early Voting plan, passed last month by the notorious Luke Eggers/Bill Aceto. Democratic member of the Watauga BOE, Stella Anderson, will present her alternative Early Voting plan to the SBOE, which actually honors the requests of the towns of Blowing Rock and Boone to establish satellite sites, at those towns' expense.

The notorious Eggers/Aceto pod refused those requests, because they (i.e., Stacy C. Eggers IV -- the even more notorious "Four" Eggers) are desperate to prevent any Appalachian State University Early Voting site as a precedent for 2016, when so much of the Republican agenda will be at stake.

With the most notorious of all Paul Foley gone from the SBOE, and a new dude being sworn in to his seat on Friday, there's no telling what might happen.

NC Budget Deal: Teachers, Retirees Still Get the Shaft

The Republican leaders waited until almost midnight last night to release their budget deal, and a few hours later today, the Senate side of the General Assembly intends to take their first vote on a 500-page document that no one has read and only The Bosses understand. (The House plans to vote on the deal on Thursday & Friday.)

Veteran teachers/state employees ... no pay increase for any of you, just that insulting $750 "bonus" (YEE-haw!).

State retirees ... no cost-of-living increase for any of you.

Millions of $$ more siphoned off of public education to send kids to private schools with little-to-no-accountability ... $25 million more of public money to the so-called "Opportunity Scholarship" program ("opportunity" mainly for money-grubbing, for-profit operations which promise the moon and sometimes deliver an ant-hill).

New sales taxes on repair and maintenance services because ... the lower-end of the income scale gets to bear more of the burden for this Republican revolution.

No more tax credits for solar and other renewable energy projects because ... fuck this shit!

Monday, September 14, 2015

NC GOP Dysfunction Debuts in National News

Tea Party insurgent Hasan Harnett gets elected Chair of the North Carolina Republican Party, in a big surprise upset, and about 30 minutes later the executive director of the party resigns ("the last adult in the room," according to Thomas Mills), followed closely by the interim executive director, so now word has leaked that the Republican National Committee might run its money through a county party, instead of the state party, because Hasan Harnett and his "team" don't know what they're doing.

It's bad mathematics: general ineptitude + a looming gubernatorial/presidential/senatorial year. Panic sets in.

This unlovely situation is pretty much where the NC Dems were in late 2013, when Sen. Kay Hagan abandoned the dysfunctional party apparatus and ran her state-wide campaign through the Wake County Democratic Party.

Stay calm, NC Republicans. You'll eventually recover from your tea infection, though it's going to take maybe a spoonful of comeuppance. Make that a tablespoon.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Nate Silver: "Trump ... Not So Much"

Nate Silver
Political prognosticator Nate Silver, who correctly predicted which candidate would win every state in the 2012 presidential election, said on September 9 that Trump is dead meat. Silver just can't say exactly when that "sell-by" date will be reached.

Silver thinks Trump won't be the Republican nominee because he's "not conservative enough."

"He's not really a Republican," Silver pointed out. "He's very far to the right on immigration, but he also wants socialized medicine," Silver said. "He wants to tax the rich, right? There's an alternate reality in which he decided to run as a Democrat instead — he wouldn't have to change his policy positions all that much."

Silver said that at this stage, polls haven't yielded much accurate predictive information." People haven't given [the candidates] more than two seconds' worth of attention ... Calm down — it's not a tennis match where you're going back and forth all the time," Silver said. "Keep calm."

I'm perfectly calm, occasionally subject to periods of anguish, frustration, and rage. Otherwise, serenely calm.

Friday, September 11, 2015

What Fresh Hell Is This, Rattling Our Synapses on a Friday?

Well, there's this: All four McDowell County magistrates are terrified of gay cooties and have opted out of performing any marriages under Senate Bill 2, passed in June by our esteemed Gay Cootie Monitors in Raleigh, so that gay-friendly magistrates are having to travel several days a week to Marion, where all The Lights are currently off, to perform the civil functions that the resident magistrates refuse to perform, all of which nonsense is Rank Unconstitutional Bullshit and will be struck down by a judge as soon as someone sues the effing magistrates of McDowell County, North Carolina.

Then there's this: The Oath Keepers, the armed, camouflage-wearing volunteer militia drunk on testosterone cocktails, say that they're ready to go automatic-weapon-to-automatic-weapon against U.S. marshals should that Republican Federal judge in Kentucky order Kim Davis back to jail for being a dick. That's no problem at all, and nothing could possibly go wrong when religious fanatics decide to defy the law.


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Long Knives Out in Raleigh To Kill Solar

This man, Rep. Mike Hager of Rutherfordton, has drunk deeply of the Koch Bros. tea (made of four parts petroleum and one part fantasy), and has embraced hostility to solar energy as his crusade to rid North Carolina of the coming evil of "renewable energy."

"Sustainability" is a nasty word to Mike Hager.

Backed by the Koch-funded American Energy Alliance, the political lobbying arm of the Institute for Energy Policy, Mr. Hager held a round-table, ritual gutting of solar energy and other "renewables" at the General Assembly yesterday in an effort to convince his fellow legislators and the general public that the state's modest feint toward encouraging renewable energy with tax credits not only endangers democracy but actually robs poor people of money they could use to buy more lottery chances.

Some bird-nosed "expert" actually claimed at the meeting that solar energy took an average of $3,800 of disposable income out of every North Carolina household in 2013.

These legislative fossils who eat, drink, and spew fossil fuel will also be deeply embarrassed when ice-melt swamps the coast. No, check that. They won't be embarrassed at all. They'll still be deep in that river in Africa.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

NC Senate Caves (A Little) on Film Incentives

Having done what they bloody well could do to drive filmmaking out of North Carolina (mainly sending it to Atlanta), with all its associated economic benefits (which were plenty!), the Republican numbskulls in the NC General Assembly announced yesterday that their utter failure at a "Film Grant Program" would be tripled in the new budget to $30 million, no matter what else happens to the future of public and higher education and teachers' salaries in this swirling-down-the-drain state.

The Republican grandees in the General Assembly had gotten nothing but bad press about the decamping of TV show after TV show, which have been shaking the dust of North Carolina off their designer boots and heading for friendlier territory since last year.

The $30 million may help, though it's still paltry peas compared to where we were before this radical right-wing bunch took over this once progressive and economically vibrant state.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Dan Soucek, Number One Wrecker of Driver's Education in NC

Bruce Siceloff details his meeting with Sen. Dan Soucek, who has decided to hate driver's education as much as he hates gay marriage.

According to Soucek, there's absolutely nothing to be gained by a 16-year-old's taking driver's ed in public school.

That wouldn't matter so much except Soucek has been put in a position in the NC Senate to actually kill driver's education.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

"That's How the System Works" -- NC-Style Pork Barrel Spending

So Tim Moore of Kings Mountain in Cleveland County got to be Speaker of the North Carolina House, and a provision showed up in the House budget bill establishing a rural water and sewer infrastructure grant that must go to "a town of less than 12,000 people that received a state loan in 2013 to replace water distribution lines.”

The only North Carolina town that fits that description is Tim Moore's hometown of Kings Mountain, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. Kings Mountain is where Moore practices law, where he was recently hired as Cleveland County attorney with a regular yearly retainer of $25,000 (in addition to the $250-per-hour he'll be able to charge for actual legal work).

The News & Observer has identified at least $6 million that Moore has managed to earmark for Cleveland County, including a $200,000 grant for the American Legion World Series baseball tournament.

Suck on that, school teachers!

Friday, September 04, 2015

What Nathan Miller Said in Court This Morning

"Judge, there's no doubt that this is about politics."

UPDATED with additional information

The "this" in lawyer Nathan Miller's statement to Special Superior Court Judge Jeff Hunt of Henderson County is his petition (on behalf of Republican Party Chair Anne Marie Yates) to "compel" Appalachian State University to turn over another 9,000 of Professor Stella Anderson's e-mails that were not released, either because they were (1) confidential personnel matters, or (2) privacy protected communications with students, or (3) personal communications, having nothing to do with University business and, as such, not a public record.

Miller admitted that the fishing expedition is political after it came out in court this morning that Nathan Miller personally had complained about Professor Anderson to the University of North Carolina Board of Governors just a few hours after Anderson et al. had filed a petition in October 2013 with the State Board of Elections to remove Republican members Luke Eggers and Bill Aceto from the local Board of Elections for cause.

And soon after that, here came Anne Marie Yates, represented by Nathan Miller, demanding all of Stella Anderson's e-mails and alleging that she had violated the law by politicking on the ASU server. The 10,000 e-mails turned over to Yates did not satisfy the Republican Chair, mainly because the wild allegations being tossed around were not sustained by the evidence.

Yates, blocking the camera phone
Judge Hunt took no action this morning. He asked all parties to file briefs with him, arguing whether Anderson is subject to NC GS 126.13, which prohibits political activity by a state employee. The Attorney General's office in a prior opinion stated that UNC system faculty are exempt from most sections of 126. Faculty are classified as "EPA" (meaning Exempt from the Personnel Act).

Faculty are subject to a UNC BOG policy that mirrors 126.13 provisions, but that is not a matter to be adjudicated in the courts. Complaints of violations have to be directed to the UNC Board Of Governors, which Miller did in Anderson's case in October 2013. There was a full investigation of his complaint, and Anderson was cleared of any wrongdoing. Miller keeps trying to conflate the Public Records Request and the political activity complaint, which Anderson's lawyer maintains he cannot (or should not be allowed to) do. His only recourse through the courts in on the Public Records Request alone.

Miller had apparently chosen to ignore the EPA exemption and has claimed in court -- he did so again this morning -- that he does not know "to this day" whether Anderson is a member of the ASU faculty. That was a laughable statement. It was pointed out to Judge Hunt that in his complaint to the Board of Governors in October 2013, Miller himself identified Anderson as a professor at ASU.

Months ago, after Judge Hunt was assigned to the case, he proposed that perhaps an independent "referee" could be appointed to review all the e-mails and reach a conclusion about whether they were "public records." Guess who Nathan Miller nominated as potential "independent referees." No, really, guess

Stacy C. Eggers IV ("Four") and Rep. Jonathan Jordan. I'm not making that up. Those are the two "unbiased" men that Nathan Miller thought would be excellent arbiters to paw through thousands of private e-mails … the brother of Luke Eggers, against whom Stella Anderson had filed a petition for removal from the Board of Elections, and the highly partisan Republican who represents Watauga County in the General Assembly.

For tone deafness, you will nowhere find more tin than dwells within the ears of attorney Nathan Miller. And for a model of political vindictiveness, also look no further.