Archive for North Carolina

Adrift without their towels.

According to the Washington Post, panic is setting in at the RNC as Donald Trump and Ben Carson continue to top polling in the party’s nomination for president. Insiders are flailing, seeing no path to toppling the two they see as a disaster for the party’s 2016 prospects. The approach of the holiday season will only accelerate the process, believes former Romney 2012 advisor Eric Fehrnstrom. There’s even talk of drafting Romney who appears uninterested:

For months, the GOP professional class assumed Trump and Carson would fizzle with time. Voters would get serious, the thinking went, after seeing the outsiders share a stage with more experienced politicians at the first debate. Or when summer turned to fall, kids went back to school and parents had time to assess the candidates. Or after the second, third or fourth debates, certainly.

Nope. Sorry.

And it gets worse:

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New Democrats are not amused

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It was their party and they’ll cry if they want to. Centrist Democrats threatened by the party’s Warren Wing find themselves out of step with a more populist message. Is it really a “lurch” to the left, or are Democrats beginning to find their voices again? Liberal is no longer the epithet conservatives once made it.

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank explained last week how a few remaining Blue Dogs made protest votes during the election for Speaker of the House. “Colin Powell,” declared Tennessee Democrat Jim Cooper. “Jim Cooper,” voted Gwen Graham of Florida, another centrist Democrat. Other Democrats voted in unison for Nancy Pelosi. Except for Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. She voted for Rep. John Lewis, the Georgia Democrat.

Third Way, “a vestige of the New Democratic movement,” issued a report that blames the populist wing for the Democrats losing ground and registration since 2008. Democrats should “rigorously question the electoral value of today’s populist agenda,” Third Way argues. Milbank is not so sure:

It was a good effort, but Third Way came up short. First, there really aren’t two wings of the party anymore; the pro-business Democrats have lost. “There’s zero question,” Jonathan Cowan, president of Third Way, acknowledged in an interview Tuesday, “that the party is now a populist party.”

It’s also dubious to say, as Third Way does, that the elections of 2010, 2012 and 2014 were about Democratic populism; that theme has only become prominent recently. Also suspect is the Third Way argument, often heard from corporate interests, that reducing inequality could hurt growth. Plenty of evidence says otherwise.

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Separated at Birth?

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Moore-McCrory (3)

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People ask me, Bernie or Hillary? I tell them I don’t care. My fight is not in Washington, D.C. It is here. I care that someone from the left side of the aisle wins the presidency in November 2016. I need those next 2-3 Supreme Court picks. I’m just not that particular which left-leaning president gets to pick them. And good luck getting them approved by a Republican-controlled Senate. (More on that later.)

The old saying goes: Democrats want to fall in love; Republicans just fall in line. You might have trouble convincing John Boehner of the latter, but the former still seems operative. Bernie-mania is this year’s Obama-mania. It is as if the left’s disappointments with the Obama administration never happened. They’ve found a brand new lover and it will be totally different this time. For a movement confident of its intellectual heft, we are really slow learners.

Matthew Yglesias points out the obvious:

The presidency is extremely important, of course. But there are also thousands of critically important offices all the way down the ballot. And the vast majority — 70 percent of state legislatures, more than 60 percent of governors, 55 percent of attorneys general and secretaries of state — are in Republicans hands. And, of course, Republicans control both chambers of Congress. Indeed, even the House infighting reflects, in some ways, the health of the GOP coalition. Republicans are confident they won’t lose power in the House and are hungry for a vigorous argument about how best to use the power they have.

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When they say “efficiency,” watch your back

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(background on the video posted earlier)

When you start hearing “efficiency” used around the office, watch your back and update your resume. It’s like “shareholder value” that way. When Republicans in government start using “efficiency,” same difference.

On Election Day 2014 while Democrats across the country were getting clobbered, there were a couple of bright spots in North Carolina (believe it or not). Democrats picked up a net 3 seats in the state legislature, including sending home an ALEC board member. But in a sweep election where Republicans should have won it all, Democrats won 3 of 3 contested state Supreme Court seats and 2 of 3 contested Appeals Court races. Republicans couldn’t have that. The GOP-controlled legislature responded in 2015 by changing the way judges are elected.

It was just one of many tweaks they have made to change how elections run. Some of them are not so obvious. At the Daily Kos Connects Asheville Conference last weekend, DocDawg, aka Bill Busa, presented findings on how Boards of Elections across the state began “to reshuffle the polling places in the name of ‘efficiency’ and ‘cost-savings’.” Busa’s presentation last Saturday revealed how elimination of early voting places disproportionately increased the distance black voters have to travel to the polls.

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Bill Busa Speaks to DailyKos Connects Asheville

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No privacy issues here. Drone along.

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Both Digby and I have written about the growing drone industry before with some reservation. A nightmare for civil liberties? Privacy issues? Aw, c’mon, but they are so cewl! Everyone will want one for Christmas this year:

You’re probably getting a drone for Christmas this year, whether you want one or not. Aviation Week reports that, at a recent industry summit, Rich Swayze of the Federal Aviation Administration said that the agency expects up to 1 million unmanned aerial vehicles to be sold during this year’s holiday season. Swayze’s prediction, if true, is simultaneously great and terrible news for the drone industry. It’s great news because, hooray, money! It’s terrible news because some of these drones will be gifted to kids, and idiots, and others who know and care little for safety and decorum.

Justin Peters has a series at Slate called Future Tense that looks at drones. The project supported by the Omidyar Network and Humanity United includes a drone primer from sponsor New America here. Everybody is so excited about what they’ll get for Christmas that still no one seems worried about a fleet of military surveillance drones in our airspace.

As we have noted before, and as the Washington Post reported last year, the military is planning to fly its large fleet of military drones from 144 U.S. sites. If the Air Force gets its way, the Reapers will soon be sharing the friendly skies with your mother’s flight to Cleveland. “With my flight to Cleveland,” another blogger exclaimed at a conference last weekend:

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Wingnut DARPA

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North Carolina legislators were cooking up some particularly noxious potions yesterday here in one of Charlie Pierce’s Laboratories of Democracy. Pay attention. North Carolina has become wingnut DARPA for this stuff.

The NC state legislature adjourned for the year about the time I got up to write this. Twitter and email lit up last night after all the turds they’d kept plugged up in the legislative pipeline until the very last all spewed out into public view at once. Much like the infamous “motorcycle vagina” bill of 2013, some of the worst appeared as surprise revisions to other bills.

Ironically, a colleague yesterday noticed that sometime after September 2012 our local GOP website had quietly removed its “Principles” page from its website. They included “I BELIEVE the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people.” Well, yesterday the “closest to the people” people in the state capitol attempted to prevent local governments in North Carolina from doing anything remotely progressive:
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Forward Together (Have Each Others’ Backs)

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Moral Mondays leader Reverend William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP, at St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church in Asheville, NC Friday as part of the Daily Kos Connects. Part 2 delves into strategy for moving forward.

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Holly Jones: I’m running

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Cross-posted from PoliticsNC:

Holly Jones: I’m running

I’m running for Lieutenant Governor of North Carolinabecause we can’t take too much more of what the Republicans in Raleigh are doing to our state. I’ve spent fourteen years in local government–seven as an Asheville City Councillor and seven on the Buncombe County Commission. I’ve seen first hand the damage the General Assembly is doing and it’s time to fight back before it’s too late.

In 2011, our county became ground zero for the North Carolina legislature’s interference in local affairs. They redistricted our county. They meddled in our airport business. They created a recreation authority one year and dissolved it the next. They would have seized our water system–a multi-million dollar asset–if the courts had not stopped them.

The party that claims to want small government is using the heavy hand of big government. This is not only hypocrisy, it is extremely harmful.

It’s not just Buncombe. They’ve imposed their heavy-handed tactics on local governments across the state. They redistricted Wake County’s school board and county commission. They made nonpartisan school board races partisan in Lee County. They took away Charlotte’s airport authority. Most recently, they redistricted Greensboro’s City Council. They’ve interjected themselves into zoning ordinances, appointments and even dictated highway buffering. And they’ve done it against the wishes of local officials and without the support of the citizens who are most affected by their actions. 

Clearly, these Republican legislators are more interested in power than in governing. They’ve caused uncertainty and instability in local government just because they can. As one Republican legislator said, “Municipalities and cities are subdivisions of the state, and the state can play with their property if they feel like it.” They’re playing games while we’re trying to govern. They are on a big government power trip.

While they’re meddling in local affairs, they’re also passing laws that hurt municipal and county budgets and leave our employees in flux. Their cuts to public schools and other programs put pressure on local governments to make up the difference–leaving us with nothing but bad choices. In reality, their cuts are little more than unfunded mandates.

But it’s not just what they’re doing to our local governments that bothers me. It’s what they’re doing to our state.

In their ideological zeal, they’ve slashed public education leaving our schools underfunded and our teachers underpaid.  They’ve cut funding to our public universities while raising tuition on our students. They’ve short-changed our children and our future.

I grew up in Wadesboro and Asheboro and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I know the value of our public schools and universities because of the opportunities they afforded me. As the parent of a teenager, I’m angry and dismayed that, because of the decisions of these Republicans, my daughter and her peers might not have the same opportunities that I did.

I’ve spent the last twenty years of my life working with women and families through the YWCA. I’ve been proud of the leadership role North Carolina played in offering people the tools to escape poverty and build better lives. From early childhood education to access to child health insurance, we were a leader and model for the nation. Now, it seems like almost daily, we watch legislation that dismantles these avenues to a better future.

And they’ve embarrassed us. For most of my life, North Carolina was a leader in the South and I was proud of what we’ve done. The GOP legislature has made us a laughingstock and left the country wondering “What happened to North Carolina?” They passed the most restrictive voter suppression laws in the country. They allowed guns in bars and guns on campuses. While other Southern states were taking down their Confederate flags, our legislature was passing laws to protect Confederate monuments. And they passed blatantly unconstitutional laws that discriminate against gays and lesbians.

I’ve never been one to sit idly by and I’m certainly not going to now. I’m ready to fight to put North Carolina back on the right track.

I am running for Lt Governor because I have a deep investment in North Carolina. But North Carolina has also made a deep investment in me.

It’s time I paid her back. I hope you’ll join me.

Photo by Kathi Barnhill

Paid for by the Committee to Elect Holly Jones

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