Archive for North Carolina
Last October, Asheville, NC introduced America to Don Yelton on The Daily Show. You remember? The clip where Aasif Mandvi asked Yelton, “You know that we can hear you, right?” after the Republican precinct chair’s remark about “lazy blacks.”
This October, it’s a swastika photoshopped in front of city hall. Asheville is nothing if not colorful.
Known for its hipster arts scene, craft beer culture, and LGBT-friendly atmosphere, Asheville was dubbed “a cesspool of sin” in 2011 by James Forrester, the late Republican state senator. (You could buy tee shirts within hours.) As local gay couples on Thursday anticipated a federal order allowing same-sex marriages for the first time in North Carolina, city council members approved displaying a large rainbow flag from city hall. The local register’s office began issuing licenses late Friday.
So once more unto the breach, two Republican culture warriors — both known for publicity stunts — stepped up to strike back by photoshopping a Nazi flag in place of an image of the rainbow flag. The Sudetenland will rise again or something.
The two Republicans, former city councilman Carl Mumpower and former Buncombe County GOP chairman Chad Nesbitt, criticized the move saying the Asheville City Council’s decision to fly the flag (the council voted unanimously to display it) violated North Carolina open meeting laws.
“I am equating their methods with the Nazi movement,” Mumpower said according to the North Carolina newspaper. “They are indifferent to the rule of law and indifferent to the vote of the people. And that’s Adolph [sic] Hitler all over again in a different disguise.”
These proud, local characters stand as living proof that hippies and fall leaves are not the only local color in town.
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)
I woke up in the middle of the night with that line in my head, sat down at the piano and had written it in half an hour. The tune itself is generic, an aggregate of hundreds of others, but the words are interesting. It sounds like a comforting love song. I didn’t realize at the time how sinister it is. I think I was thinking of Big Brother, surveillance and control.
As other states across the country, North Carolina is looking at ways to implement legislation that would allow drone use in the state. The FAA is still attempting to define how they might safely share the skies with other aircraft. Equipped with a GoPro camera, small drones seem like nifty tools for photographers and hobbyists. But given the growing surveillance state revealed by Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, it is natural that civil liberties groups – and even the T-party – are wary of their use by the government against civilians. It didn’t help that one of the sites chosen for early testing in the state belongs to the private security company formerly known as Blackwater.
This morning, the Winston-Salem Journal begins a 3-part series on how drones have been promoted in North Carolina, and by whom.
Imagine: You’re having an open-invitation BBQ in your own backyard. Friends can bring friends. Anyone can come. Thanks to newly enacted legislation, local and state law enforcement agencies are allowed to show up, too, without a warrant, to spy on you with drones.
It seems an unlikely scenario. Yet, a staff attorney at the state General Assembly’s Research Division, confirmed that it could happen. At a BBQ, “a Moral Monday planning session at a friend’s house” or “a conservative Tea Party gathering.”
The U.S. Supreme Court last night blocked implementation of Wisconsin’s photo ID law for next month’s election:
By a 6-3 vote, the justices granted an emergency appeal from civil rights lawyers, who argued it was too late to put the rule into effect this year.
Lawyers for the ACLU noted that the state had already sent out thousands of absentee ballots without mentioning the need for voters to return a copy of their photo identification.
It would be “chaos,” they said, for Wisconsin to have to decide whether to count such ballots now because voters had failed to comply with the new law.
Meanwhile in Texas, a federal district judge ruled the state’s photo ID card law unconstitutional:
We’re going to discuss photo IDs and vote suppression in just a minute.
But first, God and beards were before the Supreme Court on Tuesday in the case of Holt v. Hobbs. At issue: Whether a Muslim prisoner in Arkansas should be allowed to wear a beard in accordance with his religious faith. Per federal statute, prisons should allow such accomodation. As a compromise, the plaintiff, Holt, had agreed that a half-inch beard would satisfy his obligation to God.
University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock testified for the plaintiff.
Inside the court chamber, Laycock told the justices that 40 prison systems allow beards of any length, yet Arkansas still will not allow a short, half-inch beard. That policy, he argued, is “seeking absolute deference to anything they say, just because they say it.”
In a folder labeled “Spam – Right wing” dating from 2005 on, I have 200 or so examples of the kind of right-wing, pass-it-on spam you get from friends and relatives. (And yes, I have a “Spam – Left wing” folder, too, with fewer than ten. Pass-it-on spam is a phenomenon of the right.)
For awhile I even got right-wing chain-mail from a Republican elected official in Oxford, MS on whose personal list I landed somehow. They kept coming even after I responded and told her, no, I wasn’t who she thought I was so, no, I couldn’t send her that chicken recipe she liked so much.
But we’ll come back to that.
A week or so ago, the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity came under fire for “hundreds of thousands of mailers with false information” that appeared in mailboxes across North Carolina, prompting hundreds of complaints from voters and drawing fire from state Democrats:
Casey M. Mann, N.C. Democratic Party executive director, filed the complaint Monday over the Americans for Prosperity Foundation voter registration mailers that included incorrect information on where to send applications, an incorrect registration deadline, and inaccurate information about getting answers to questions.
Addressees included a dead child and a cat.
During a recount here in November 2012, I was at the local Board of Elections when a T-party member flashed a handwritten sign at a young woman from Warren Wilson College: “You are a law breaker.” A redistricting error by the GOP-controlled legislature — a precinct line drawn down the middle of the campus — allowed a handful of students’ votes to decide control of the county commission in Buncombe County, North Carolina. Democrats held the majority by 17 votes.
So it was no real surprise to see this the other day:
The head of the College Republicans at one North Carolina college is determined to stop voter registration drives on her campus, whether they’re being sponsored by conservative or liberal groups.
According to MSNBC, Chairwoman Leigh Thomas of the High Point University College Republicans was caught on camera on Wednesday telling a conservative group that it could not register voters on campus because she wasn’t comfortable with it.
“I don’t approve of it whatsoever—on a campus like High Point University,” she said. ”I don’t want to have any voting registration happening on this campus, with students.”
During the 2012 recount, T-party members argued that students legally registered at their school should not have their votes counted. It didn’t matter what the law said. (The Board chair quoted it to them.) The T-party charged voter fraud (naturally) and argued, essentially, that the law should be what what they wanted it to be. Ironically, they would lose because the GOP’s high-paid mapmakers failed to safely sequester all of the campus in the liberal ghetto created for the city of Asheville, a.k.a. The Cesspool of Sin.
As the High Point University incident this week demonstrates, Republicans don’t want people voting. Paul Weyrich admitted as much in 1980: “I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of the people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.” What they want to ensure is that only the right people vote.
So North Carolina holds its breath this weekend as the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether or not to enforce a stay on implementing two key provisions of North Carolina’s restrictive, new voting law.
In North Carolina, the Oct. 1 decision by a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals restores same-day registration for early voters and out-of-precinct voting in the upcoming election. The panel overturned a U.S. District Court decision that found implementing the controversial 2013 law would not cause “irreparable harm” to voters. Voting rights advocates requested a preliminary injunction blocking the law for this year’s election as the broader lawsuit on the constitutionality of North Carolina’s law will be tried next July.
In his job as N.C. Attorney General, Democrat Roy Cooper has asked the Supreme Court to block the ruling. Chief Justice John Roberts oversees the Fourth Circuit and could rule any day.
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)
Local Boards of Elections in North Carolina were scrambling yesterday to rework election instruction documents after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued an order blocking enforcement of two provisions of the state’s new election law in this November’s election.
But for NC Governor Pat McCrory and Republican colleagues, that’s not the end of it:
The Republicans plan to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, leaving questions about whether North Carolinians will be allowed to vote the same day that they register during the early voting period this year as well as whether provisional ballots cast outside a voter’s proper precinct will be counted.
The NAACP, the ACLU, and other groups have sued to have the law ruled unconstitutional. That case will not be heard until July. The photo identity card requirement in the law does not got into effect until 2016.
The Voter Information Verification Act (VIVA) had been a 15-page voter ID bill winding its way through the GOP-controlled legislature last year. Then in June, the Shelby v. Holder decision by the U.S. Court set aside of two preclearance provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Winston-Salem’s Camel City Dispatch explains:
Once that happened, the North Carolina State Senate dumped in a laundry list of voter suppression provisions that ballooned HB 589 into a 57 page collection of the most restrictive voter suppression regulations since the Jim Crow era. All of this while at the same loosening campaign finance restrictions on politicians. Apparently the Republican Supermajority felt that the voters of North Carolina needed to be regulated, but for politicians to be kept under the government thumb was just too much.
Millions of voter guides have already gone out with information contradicted by yesterday’s court ruling. It’s going to be a wild ride.
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)
Perhaps it is not just a coincidence or a quirk of American policy-making that the words “innovation” and “reform” lately seem to attach themselves to ideas that drive more public money, public infrastructure, and public control into the hands of private investors. Nor that this meme is driven by lobbyists for public-private partnerships (P3s) where corporations stand to rack up profits by privatizing the commons.
Whether it is turning over state prisons to for-profit Corrections Corporation of America or public education over to publicly traded K12 Inc., we are to believe that despite the scandals and poor outcomes, the private sector will always do a better job than big gummint. We hear the private sector is more “efficient” than efforts run by the people and for the people. But more efficient at what?
This last week, as we noted, ITR Concession Co, and its parent company, the Spanish-Australian consortium Cintra-Macquarie declared bankruptcy on its concession to operate the Indiana Toll Road. The 75-year deal fell apart after only eight.
But getting back to efficiency. Think maybe the Germans could do it better? Maybe not.
As corporate-carpetbagger friendly as the NCGOP has made North Carolina since taking control of the legislature in 2010, they keep surprising. This latest revelation Monday from North Carolina echoes the billion-dollar, Hudson Lights real estate deal thought connected to Gov. Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal. WCNC-Charlotte has video here.