Archive for North Carolina


The cheapest patient is a dead one

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A doctor’s letter to the editor:

I had the pleasure of taking care of a North Carolina constituent recently. She is in her early 60s with severe heart failure acquired as a genetic abnormality. She works in a small diner here and makes $9,000 a year. She needs a defibrillator, which costs from $50,000 to $80,000.

She does not have health insurance since she cannot afford to buy on the open market. She tried the Affordable Care Act. The cutoff is above her pay so she is not eligible. Since Republican lawmakers are fiscally responsible, she understands why they rejected money that was coming from Washington to expand Medicaid. After all, they have to do what is best for the people in other states that expanded Medicaid or what is best for their friends in the insurance and pharmaceutical industry.

She fully supports GOP policies because, after all, what is one life worth? She also understands that the general Republican thought that Medicaid expansion is a Democratic socialist ploy had nothing to do with why they did not adopt it.

I regret to inform you that she died a few days ago. I am pretty sure she and her family are thankful to Republicans for saving all this money. She totally understands the position that the cheapest patient is a dead patient.


The letter might have been written in any of the 19 states that have refused Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Count her as “died quickly.”

(Cross-posted from Hullabloo.)

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Crisis of confidence

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The loss of confidence in this country for its institutions and distrust among citizens for each other has really reached toxic levels. Enter Donald Trump and supporters who seem bent on making the country great again by burning the place to the ground. But those levels of distrust are present now across party and ideological lines. In this primary season especially, everyone seems hypervigilant for the stab in the back from allies and quick to read the worst intentions into any statements or government actions. Not without some priming.

After Ronald Reagan declared that government is the problem, his fans worked assiduously at proving it. With success. For thirty years or more, Republicans have worked at undermining confidence in American elections by promoting the idea that widespread fraud is at work undetected. Since 1982, the RNC has been under a consent decree prohibiting it from implementing its own voter fraud prevention measures — or voter suppression, if you see them through jaundiced eyes. In 2012, the last time (of which I am aware) that the Republican Party tried to get the 1982 consent decree voided, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit essentially laughed them out of court. Again. So they have turned after years of such rejection to state legislatures to accomplish the same thing through voter ID. Through relentless propagandizing, they convinced a large swath of the country that the threat from the elusive zombie voter is real and justifies such restrictive measures.

On Tuesday, there were some lines at the polls here in North Carolina and other issues with the new voter ID law. It will be worse in November.

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NC’s new identity hurdle blocks the vote

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Students arrived in a steady stream at the Board of Elections office in Asheville, NC late Tuesday afternoon. It was Primary Day, the first election operating under the state’s new voter ID law. Students found that their out-of-state IDs and state-issued student IDs were unacceptable under the new law and many could not vote a regular ballot. They had come trying to fix voter registration issues, and some to cast provisional ballots. During early voting in the state, “the highest concentrations of provisional ballots from voters without ID were in places with college campuses.”

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I love a challenge

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They say write what you know. So let’s do that. I love a challenge.

It’s primary day in North Carolina. Except for congressional candidates. Oh, and supreme court justice candidates. Court actions have postponed those contests until June 7. State Republican leaders are on a losing streak where election changes are concerned. Turnout in early voting has been high.

Confusion abounds here about primaries and court-ordered redistricting. In 2010, I was in one western NC congressional district. In 2011, I got drawn into the next district east. After courts last month forced Republicans to redraw two racially gerrymandered districts downstate, the remapping cascaded down to the state’s other 11 congressional districts. The new map showed me back in the district where I started. Unless the court rejects the new map and makes Republicans draw it again. Don’t get me started on judicial retention elections.

Of course, by the time the courts ruled in February, the state had already printed ballots for the March 15 primary. So if there is a congressional primary in the district you were in (but might not still be in), that race will be on your ballot and you can vote in it today. Of course, those races have been postponed and your vote in those particular races won’t count. Not to worry. You’ll get to vote in them again on June 7, but maybe for a different set of congressional candidates in a different district than you are in. Or were in. This is your state on T-party.

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Categories : North Carolina
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The new nullification

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George Cruikshank illustration from "Oliver Twist," 1911 edition

George Cruikshank illustration from “Oliver Twist,” 1911 edition

The M.O. of the extremist Republican Party: find the lines, cross them, dare people to push them back. Courts have. So now the GOP is going after the courts.

The new nullification expands on the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war. Republicans now claim the right to preemptively void any legal decisions they might not like. Rejecting President Obama’s yet-unnamed pick for the U.S. Supreme Court, for example. On Thursday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., warned Judicial Committee colleagues that they were redrawing the lines and setting a precedent, a new normal that will cut both ways.

Senate Republicans have stonewalled Obama’s other judicial appointments. Republicans have refused to hold confirmation votes on presidential nominees to federal agencies they would like abolished. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee wants states to be able to effectively nullify Supreme Court rulings he doesn’t like. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas proposes amendments to the U.S. Constitution that would allow two-thirds of the states to override a U.S. Supreme Court decision or a federal law or regulation they don’t like. As Iowa’s 2014 Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, Joni Ernst told the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition that Congress should not pass any laws “that the states would consider nullifying.” Don’t even think about it.

What’s not the matter with Kansas?

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Of penises and potties

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Prior to Donald Trump boasting to allies and enemies alike last night about the size of his penis, this dropped into the in-box from the Speaker of the House of (what Charlie Pierce calls) the newly insane state of North Carolina: Read More→

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NC GOP: The weird turn pro

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This is your state on power-drunk Republicans.

What a cluster (of districts) North Carolina GOP has already made of the 2016 elections. Under a federal court order that ruled two existing congressional districts unconstitutional, state Senate Republicans yesterday approved new, more compact congressional districts (above; the old map is here). The NC House proposed moving the congressional primary from March 15 to June 7. And reports indicate a state Court of Appeals panel is poised to strike down as unconstitutional a law passed by Republicans to change the way the state elects supreme court justices. Not exactly a gold-star week for Republican governance in the Tar Heel State.

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Folks, this is your captain speaking. It looks like we’ve hit some unexpected turbulence and I’m going to turn on that seatbelt sign “DIIIIIING.” Flight attenands please return to your seats. As soon as it smoothes out, we’ll continue our service.

North Carolina last night hit a patch of turbulence in the form of a federal court ruling. This was still breaking last night (emphasis mine):

RALEIGH, N.C. — Three federal judges on Friday threw out the congressional voting maps the Republican-led General Assembly drew five years ago, ruling that two districts were gerrymandered along racial lines.

The ruling throws the March 15 primary into chaos, as the judges ordered state lawmakers to redraw the maps within two weeks and not to hold any elections for U.S. House until the maps are in place. A special session of the legislature would have to be called to approve new maps, and they might have to pass federal muster again.

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It takes more than an Obama-style campaign

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Photo by Molly Theobald for the aflcio2008 (PA: Working America Voter ID and Persuasion)
[CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

People began asking early in 2015 if the local Democratic party was working on 2016. I told them we started working on 2016 the day after the election in 2014.

Each week I pick up messages at our local Democratic headquarters. For months, people have called to ask how they can get in touch with the Bernie Sanders campaign. (Even a disenchanted Republican now and then.) For months, I’ve directed them to the grassroots group organizing for Sanders here. Several hundred volunteers. On the ground it looks like 2008 all over again. They are phone banking out of our offices twice a week. Bernie Sanders is not a registered Democrat, but the memo from DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz says he’s running on our ticket.

I also get (fewer) calls from people asking how they can get in touch with the local Hillary Clinton campaign. I tell them I wish I knew. They are nowhere to be seen. Unless you’ve got the money to attend a high-dollar fundraiser downstate. Clinton volunteers could use our space too. But so far there aren’t any.

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Voter ID goes to court in NC

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Rev. William Barber speaking at Moral March on Raleigh2015. Flickr photo by AGFE via Creative Commons

Rev. William Barber speaking at Moral March on Raleigh
2015. Flickr photo by AGFE via Creative Commons

U.S. federal Judge Thomas Schroeder in Winston-Salem, North Carolina today hears a case against the state over its sweeping voter ID bill. HB 589 changed overnight from about 17 pages to over 50 in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder that weakened the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The NAACP, the U.S. Justice Department and others claim the photo ID requirement unduly burdens black and Hispanic voters:

The trial over North Carolina’s voter ID law is set to begin Monday in front of Schroeder, a federal judge since 2008 who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush.

The legal battle is one of several being watched across the nation as the courts address questions of the fairness and lasting impacts that ID laws have on voting rights.

In North Carolina, voters will be required this year to use one of six specified IDs when they cast ballots — unless they can show they faced a “reasonable impediment” for getting one.

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