Archive for Parties

Jan
18

“How Is That Allowed?”

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Unencumbered by Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act courtesy of the Roberts Supreme Court, Gov. Pat McCrory decides he can leave almost one million North Carolinians without a representative for nearly a year.

Compassion for America’s poor and the long-term unemployed is audibly absent among many of the well-to-do, their on-air groupies, and politicians who once upon a news cycle tried to rebrand themselves as compassionate conservatives. A caller to a progressive radio show this week asked when heartlessness became fashionable in America.

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Jan
03

Battleground NC

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No, John Travolta is not the star. But YOU are.

Wow! That’s terrific bunny …

Federal judge strikes down Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s welfare drug testing law

A federal judge in Orlando, Florida ruled Tuesday that the state’s law requiring drug tests from all applicants for public assistance is unconstitutional. According to the New York Times, Judge Mary S. Scriven found that the law — Tea Party Gov. Rick Scott (R)’s signature piece of legislation — violates the U.S. Constitution’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

“The court finds there is no set of circumstances under which the warrantless, suspicionless drug testing at issue in this case could be constitutionally applied,” Scriven wrote.

South Korea: Rail Workers, Repression and Resistance

In South Korea, no one can hear you scream. Workers have the right to organize, just not the right to do anything with it.

As the strike dragged on -soon becoming the longest rail strike in Korean history -the repression intensified. On December 17, police raided the headquarters of the Korean Railway Workers’ Union (KRWU) in search of top leaders to arrest -but found none. Instead they confiscated office equipment. including disk drives and confidential documents. Two days later, they carried out similar raids on union offices in four other cities.

Frustrated by their inability to locate the union leaders, police then besieged the headquarters of the KCTU, where they believed the railway workers’ leaders had sought protection. Trade unionists formed a defensive cordon but eventually riot police charged the building, smashing down glass doors and firing pepper gas, causing several injuries. There were reports that some of the trade unionists responded with improvised water cannon.

On Christmas, Republicans Quietly Declare War on Themselves

The news came in the Wall Street Journal, where the Chamber of Commerce disclosed that it will be teaming up with Republican establishment leaders to spend $50 million in an effort to stem the tide of “fools” who have overwhelmed Republican ballots in recent seasons. Check out the language Chamber strategist Scott Reed used in announcing the new campaign:

Our No. 1 focus is to make sure, when it comes to the Senate, that we have no loser candidates… That will be our mantra: No fools on our ticket.

Good luck with that.

The primary NSA issue isn’t privacy, it’s authority

Government’s access to that data must be determined, in turn, by a separate and much more stringent set of laws born of the principles set forth in the Bill of Rights and built with the knowledge that government has the means to use our information against us, in secret. Does theNSA’s mass collection, analysis, and use of communications metadata violate the Fourth Amendment? I think it does because it acts as surveillance over innocent citizens, treating all of us as criminals in government’s dragnet without probable cause or due process. Or as Jay Rosen puts it: “My liberty is being violated because ‘someone has the power to do so should they choose.’ Thus: It’s not privacy; it’s freedom.”

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Dec
19

Crushing NC’s Unemployed

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As states cut back on unemployment for the long-term unemployed, North Carolina leads the way. From Bloomberg’s opinion section:

Across the country, the unemployed will lose from 14 to 47 weeks of insurance when the extension ends. Five other states will join North Carolina in providing fewer than 26 weeks of payments — the standard in the U.S until this year. What’s happened in North Carolina since July is an indication of what will happen nationwide. The picture is troubling.

The federal extension expires on January 1, 2014. North Carolina got a head start last summer when it cut the maximum benefit length and reduced the payments.

As intended, presumably, the number of North Carolinians receiving unemployment benefits has collapsed. It’s down by 45,000, or 40 percent, since last year. Expiring benefits aren’t the only reason for this. Far fewer are filing a claim in the first place. Initial claims are running at about half last year’s rate. Unemployment insurance is a thinner safety net than it has been in decades.

In addition, North Carolina’s labor force began to shrink. The state is experiencing the largest labor-force contraction it’s ever seen –77,000 fewer people were working or searching for work this October than a year ago. This should, but won’t, settle a partisan debate. Cutting unemployment insurance apparently hasn’t encouraged the unemployed to look harder for work: It has caused them to drop out of the labor force altogether. [Emphasis mine.]

That’s understandable, in part because nationwide there were still three job seekers per job as of May.

Food pantries are stretched, becoming, as Alan Briggs, executive director of the North Carolina Association of Food Bank suggested, “the safety net of the safety net.”

Please help out your local food banks this season. Decision after decision by the legislature in Raleigh seems aimed at worsening the situation for struggling North Carolinians.

Merry Christmas.

Dec
16

Picketing Art Pope’s Stores

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Art Pope has protesters picketing his Variety Wholesaler stores across North Carolina. Yesterday, protesters picketed one of his Roses stores in Weaverville, NC. The Institute for Southern Studies explains,

An informational picket campaign focused on Maxway, Roses and other stores owned by Republican donor Art Pope is attracting new followers and generating fresh scrutiny of Pope’s political network in North Carolina.

In North Carolina, Art Pope’s rise as a conservative political kingmaker — including his appointment this year as Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget director — was fueled in large part with money from his business Variety Wholesalers, a retail chain and the owner of Maxway, Roses and other dollar-type stores.

Part of the NC NAACP and Forward Together Movement, the AFL-CIO announcement for the event stated that protesters would “hand out information on Budget Director and Roses-owner Art Pope and the extremist and regressive Legislative policies he supports. These policies hurt the very people who franchise his stores and supply a large share of his income.” Millions of dollars of Pope money, allowed by the Citizens United decision, appeared as campaign attack ads aimed at unseating Democrats across the state in 2010, and helped Republicans take over both houses of the state legislature.

After a week of protests, Pope responded to NAACP President Rev. William Barber, writing, “I am shocked that you and your allies would demand any public official to support your political positions, by threatening a business which is not part of state government.”

A self-described believer in “public-choice theory” and promoter of free-market economics, Pope is finding out what it’s like to face having an informed public choose to shop elsewhere. In a free Market, customers will punish a businessman who is corrupt, unethical, or not responsive to consumer demands. It’s all fun and games until you’re that businessman, isn’t it Art?

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The cattle barons are nervous and getting reckless.

The United States has come to resemble those iconic westerns with a Wild West economy in which cattle barons rule, politicians and lawmen are on their payrolls, and struggling settlers are either compliant or prey.

But after the 2008 crash and bailout on Wall Street, one after another Occupy, the Consumer Protection Bureau, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Moral Mondays and now Pope Francis have put the cattle barons on notice that their grip on power is weakening.

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Dec
06

U.S. of ALEC

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Boy howdy, aren’t these ALEC and State Policy Network characters Titanic-grade Cal Hockleys? Masters of the Universe. And you’re not. Which means that if you’re not from the better half, those of you in steerage had better be prepared for an American future in which your “betters” throw you overboard. If they get their way.

In the wake of the Guardian’s ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) document dump, Mountain Xpress is wondering if ALEC board member Rep. Tim Moffitt and NC House Speaker Thom Tillis have more loyalty to the business organization than to their state or constituents. ALEC floated a loyalty oath in recent draft documents:

A proposed loyalty oath “I am morally responsible for the health and well-being of this organization… I will act with care and loyalty and put the interests of the organization first.”

This loyalty oath to a secret corporate lobbying [group] runs contrary to the oath of office taken by all members of the North Carolina General Assembly, which says in part, “… I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the State of North Carolina.”

It gets better. Read More→

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Dec
04

Your Republican Governor

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Richard (RJ) Eskow was on Fox Business with Neil Cavuto recently. Since New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is positioning himself to run for president as a moderate Republican and since Fox Republicans can’t have that, Cavuto invited Eskow on to bash Christie for him.

Christie criticized the president’s health care bill, Cavuto began, yet he is accepting the Obamacare Medicaid expansion in his state. Cavuto asked the former insurance company executive, Doesn’t that make him look hypocritical? How Eskow responded was priceless.

Well, I guess the answer would be, I may think that my car insurance premiums are too high, but if I have an accident, I’m going to file a claim and take their money.

This caught Cavuto gaping. He interrupted Eskow and said, “You know, that’s a very good point. That’s putting me down brilliantly.” But Eskow raises a broader point.

You may be among the millions of paycheck workers who have paid into Medicaid your entire life without ever claiming benefits because you never qualified. Until Obamacare. Unlike New Jersey, because Republican governors don’t like the guy occupying the White House, most of their states have rejected the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, making the insurance on their exchanges more expensive for you, and leaving millions of people the law was designed to insure without access to health care. Because your Republican governor is just fine with you paying into Medicaid, so long as you never file a claim and get any of your own money back to pay your doctor bills. Your Republican governor believes this is for your own good.

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Pope Francis last week issued Evangelii Gaudium, or Joy of the Gospel, an “apostolic exhortation.” Less than an encyclical on church doctrine, Evangelii Gaudium nonetheless stamps papal authority across Francis’ recent speeches. The National Catholic Reporter likened it to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

For conservative pundits it’s more of a nightmare:

Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. [54]

Commenters looking for moral wiggle room at Free Republic debated the accuracy of the translation — not of the whole document, just the passage above. A National Review critic argued that nobody said markets were sufficient to bring down poverty. Still, people working sweat shop jobs in developing nations are less impoverished. Those who lost jobs in this hemisphere? Well, those are the breaks.

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