Archive for North Carolina

Image public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Oil rigs in the “Graveyard of the Atlantic“? Someone tell the president April 1st isn’t for two months yet:

(Bloomberg) — The Obama administration proposed opening to offshore drilling an area from Virginia to Georgia in a policy shift sought by energy companies but opposed by environmentalists worried about resorts such as the Outer Banks or Myrtle Beach.

The offshore plan for 2017-2022 marks the second time President Barack Obama has recommended unlocking areas in the U.S. Atlantic for oil drilling, and it drew a swift retort from allies who say the payoff doesn’t justify the risk of a spill along the populated coast. The agency said Atlantic leases won’t be auctioned for at least six years and drilling wouldn’t start for several more years.

Well, that’s a relief. Plus, you know, with the Gulf Stream and all, a massive oil spill 50 miles offshore of the Outer Banks might never reach Cape Hatteras.

“Offshore oil spills don’t respect state boundaries,” said Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts. “A spill in North Carolina could affect Massachusetts.”

Heads up, Nantucket.

The proposal is still preliminary, officials suggested:

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told reporters the proposal was a “balanced” approach, but she stressed that it was only a draft.

“It is not final, we’re in the early stages of what is a multi-year process,” Jewell said, cautioning that some regions listed in it “may be narrowed or taken out entirely.”

That caveat and the timing make the announcement a mite suspect. Days ago, the Obama administration had Alaska livid over its request “to designate parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as a wilderness area” off-limits to oil drilling. The request left Sen. Lisa Murkowski fuming. Something about decisions on federal land made Outside being a violation of state sovereignty. Other Alaska legislators were similarly put out:

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker was “outraged” at the timing of the announcement, which comes amid low oil prices and declining production “despite having more than 40 billion barrels of untapped resources, mostly in federal areas where oil and gas activity is blocked or restricted,” the joint statement said.

Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, called the plan “callously planned and politically motivated” in the same statement.

On the heels of the Alaska announcement, the Atlantic drilling proposal is generating predictable howls from East Coast environmentalists:

“This proposal sells out the southeast fisheries, tourism, and coastal way of life,” says Sierra Weaver, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center. “This is an area that has never been drilled for oil production. These are places and communities that rely on natural resources like clean air and clean water for the quality of life and the lifestyle that they know.”

The White House surely knew its twin decisions would raise firestorms from both the left and right.

A head fake in advance of a Keystone pipeline veto? Or a sop?

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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Jan
19

The courts: Targets of opportunity

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An acquaintance asked Saturday what happens if the Supreme Court rules this summer to lift gay marriage bans across the country. It seems unlikely the Roberts court will overturn rulings in 36 states, he said. He worried that, since so many of the shifts on gay marriage across the country originated in the courts, that the right will not simply use the decision to energize their base in 2016, but to further colonize and control the courts. In fact that has already been occurring, according to Chris Kromm of the Institute for Southern Studies:

Today, special interests are spending record amounts of money on court elections in the 38 states that elect justices to the bench. As a Facing South/Institute for Southern Studies report showed, more than $3 million poured into races for North Carolina’s higher courts in 2014, the first election since state lawmakers — with the help of millionaire donor and political operative Art Pope — eliminated North Carolina’s judicial public financing program.

The controversy over Big Money’s attempted takeover of the courts is now coming to a head. Next week, the U.S. Supreme Court will begin hearing Williams-Yulee vs. The Florida Bar, a case involving a challenge to Florida’s law barring judicial candidates from personally soliciting campaign contributions.

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Dec
20

Whistling towards Dixie

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A week ago I wrote about a suspected lynching under investigation along the coast in North Carolina. Eerie stuff. Up here in the mountains, we’ve got this Scot-Irish thing happening that defines local attitudes (the kind of thing Sara Robinson has written about for years). But things are hardly static. Inmigration is changing the South. In the wake of Michael Tomasky’s recent “dump Dixie” column, Chris Kromm at the Institute for Southern Studies counters with why that’s a bad idea.

Southern clout is expected to grow with population, he writes. “Southern states are projected to gain another five Congressional seats and Electoral College votes in 2020. Ignoring the South just isn’t an option if Democrats want to be relevant in national politics.”

And the South is not Democrats’ biggest problem. Democrats’ Senate candidates may have lost by an average of 18 points in the South, but they lost by an average of 26 points in the Great Plains. “But for some reason,” Kromm writes, “we’re never treated to post-Election Day screeds from Northern pundits about the Great Plains being a cesspool of ‘prejudice’ and ‘resentment.'”

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Dec
13

A 21st-century lynching?

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Neely Ferry1Neely Ferry2Neely Ferry3Questions surrounding the August hanging death of Lennon Lacy, 17, of Bladenboro, NC have been percolating since the summer. With fall election campaigns and higher-profile deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police, the black teenager’s hanging death, quickly ruled a suicide, went largely unnoticed outside North Carolina. But Lacy’s family did not accept the official conclusion that the youth killed himself. Lacy was found hanging by a dog leash wearing someone else’s shoes. Two sizes too small:

Days after he was buried, Lennon’s grave was defiled – an act of vandalism that Lennon’s family believes supports their claim that he was killed in a racially-motivated homicide.

After calls from the North Carolina NAACP and Lacy’s family, the FBI has stepped in:

The FBI will investigate the case of Lennon Lacy, the black teenager found hanging in August from a swing set in North Carolina, whose parents have disputed the official ruling that he killed himself and asked whether his death amounted to a modern-day lynching.

It was confirmed on Friday that a federal agent has been assigned to investigate what happened to Lacy, 17, a budding high-school football prospect found hanging in the middle of a predominantly white trailer park in Bladenboro, North Carolina, on 29 August. The move follows a formal request from the Lacy family and from the North Carolina branch of the NAACP to the US attorney asking for the federal authorities to throw their weight behind the investigation.

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Categories : News, North Carolina, Race
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Dec
08

Workingman’s Dems

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Power house mechanic working on steam pump. Lewis Hine, 1920. Public Domain.

Like a lot of columns dissecting the Democrats’ nonperformance this fall, Thomas Frank’s in Salon focuses on how Democrats have largely abandoned their erstwhile working-class base. Mocking David Brooks’ call for a “common project” to fight the scourge of “classism,” Frank believes instead we need a project to help wealthy professionals understand the struggles of working people:

By “we,” I mean the Democratic Party. Once upon a time it was the dedicated champion of the interests of average people, but today Democrats are hemorrhaging the votes of the white working class. This catastrophic development is the pundit subject du jour, replacing the happy tales of demographic inevitability of two years ago. Since the beginning of September, according to Lexis-Nexis, there have been no fewer than 46 newspaper stories predicting, describing and analyzing the evaporation of Democratic appeal among this enormous slice of the electorate.

This is not merely disastrous, it is pathetic. What kind of lamestain left can’t win the working class . . . in year seven of a crushing demonstration of the folly of free markets? What kind of political leadership can’t figure out a way to overcome the backlash sensibility after four decades?

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Dec
06

They’re not always crazy

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Out here in the Laboratories of Democracy, ALEC is testing market-based solutions to problems other market-based policies created. But unless one of these solutions barrels right into you (ask Mike Stark), you might not know about it ahead of time.

You know when you hear a speech (or read a quote) by a not-as-crazy conservative and a phrase strikes your ear a little odd? After you baroo, the speech continues and you shrug it off as random weirdness. Something I learned during the George W. Bush administration was to pay attention to those odd phrases. They are usually either racial dog whistles or else a reference to some issue conservatives know about and the left needs to (unless you like getting blindsided). That happened again here recently.

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Dec
03

“A very unsubtle threat”

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The North Fork Watershed

The North Fork Watershed

Buncombe County’s legislative delegation (new and old) and city council met at the Civic Center for a breakfast this week scheduled to discuss the city’s draft legislative agenda. Henderson County’s Rep. Chuck McGrady attended as well. Since his GOP colleagues, Nathan Rep. Ramsey (NC-115) and Rep. Tim Moffitt (NC-116) lost their reelection bids this fall, the dynamic between Buncombe and Raleigh has shifted, although Democrats will still find themselves outnumbered and powerless. Just less so thanks to John Ager and Brian Turner.

On Asheville FM’s Making Progress Monday, Asheville city councilman, Cecil Bothwell commented on the future of the city’s lawsuit over control of the Asheville water system. McGrady had joined Moffitt and Ramsey in passing the bill stripping the city of control of its water system and transferring control to a regional commission. McGrady delivered what Bothwell describes as “a very unsubtle threat” [timestamp 37:50] to the city and the county’s new, all-Democrat House delegation, essentially, to play ball if they expect to get anything from the GOP-controlled legislature [timestamp 37:50]:

Depending on how that lawsuit occurs will really determine what happens next. But I will tell you — I want to very clear, I’ve talked to again Senator Apodaka about this — if the lawsuit is decided adverse to the position the General Assembly took last time, he and I do anticipate filing legislation to correct whatever the mistake might be. … I’m quite prepared to come back with a different approach to the same issue.

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Nov
17

Another responsible shooting

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A 13-year-old teen attending a soccer tournament in Raleigh, NC died in his hotel room, in his bed Friday night:

Nathan Andrew Clark was staying in the Comfort Suites hotel while he participated in the Capital Area Soccer League tournament.

At approximately 11 p.m., a woman who was in the room with him called 911, saying that she “had no idea” what happened to the teen, only that he was bleeding profusely from a bump on the back of his head.

Clark was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police quickly determined that Clark had been shot, and located Randall Louis Vater, who was in a nearby room and in possession of firearms. They said that Vater accidentally discharged his weapon, and that the round traveled through the wall and into Clark’s room, where it fatally struck him.

Vater has a long history with law enforcement, having served time in prison on charges ranging from violating a restraining order to communicating threats to hit-and-run. He was in police custody as recently as October 25, according to Department of Public Safety records.

Police charged Vater with “involuntary manslaughter and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.”

Nothing left to say.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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Nov
12

A gated democracy

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Graffiti in the Tenderloin, San Francisco. Image by Almonroth via Wikimedia Commons

The Worst Voter Turnout in 72 Years the New York Times declares this morning, condemning continued efforts to suppress turnout among poor, minority and younger voters. They don’t even bother to add qualifiers anymore when calling out Republicans for voter suppression.

Sean McElwee at Huffington Post runs down some preliminary analysis of new voting restrictions. Photo ID laws, eliminating same-day registration, and felon disenfranchisement were contributing factors in the low turnout.

More than 600,000 in Texas could not vote this year because they lacked the newly required documents. How many tried and were turned away? The nonpartisan Election Protection Voter help line received over 2,000 calls in Texas, according to the Brennan Center’s director of its Democracy Program, Wendy Weiser. A federal judge had determined that the Texas law was purposely designed to suppress minority votes.

As Ari Berman wrote last week, “Since Republican legislatures across the country implemented new voting restrictions after 2010 and the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, it’s become easier to buy an election and harder to vote in one.”

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Nov
10

Who Ya Gonna Call?

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Call

Republicans tighten grip in Southern state legislatures

Just not here.

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