Barbed wire facing in

Back in the day, one of my favorite musicians was Joni Mitchell. The woman's voice is sublime and startling all that the same time, with lyrics that have proven timeless. In Big Yellow Taxi, she wrote:

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got till it's gone
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot

That's how North Carolina is feeling these days. After years of moderate Democratic leadership, voters threw "the bastards" out in 2010 and 2012, looking for greener pastures under the watchful eye of responsible Republicans. Boy were they fooled. Instead of having to contend with Democratic bastards, voters invited in the Devil himself, a trinity of wanton destruction in the form of Thom Tillis, Pat McCrory and Phil Berger. These are men who don't quality for the faintest of praise; they don't even mean well.

Daily dose: Tea Party Tillis edition

Tea party activists remain wary of Thom Tillis (Charlotte Observer) -- Tea Party champion Rand Paul will campaign with Thom Tillis in Raleigh on Wednesday, trying to shore up a base that could threaten North Carolina’s GOP Senate hopeful.

With a month to go, Tillis still seeking to secure GOP base, brings in Rand Paul (AP) -- Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is helping N.C. Republican Senate candidate Thom Tillis even after supporting Tillis' chief rival in the GOP primary.

Whitewash coming

You've no doubt heard all about #votercat, the unprecedented interference by NC AFP in North Carolina's upcoming elections. Not to worry. The State Board of Elections, under the direction of party loyalist Kim Strach, is on the case. The SBOE is looking into the matter with all of the urgency of paint drying. Their conclusions are foregone.

An AFP lawyer apologized for the problems the mailer caused the state elections office in a meeting with Elections Board officials on Monday, Lawson said. The office has handled at least 2,000 calls about the mailers, Lawson said. The latest batch of AFP mailers went out late last week, Lawson said, so people may continue to receive inaccurate information over the next few days.

No one will be found in violation anything of substance. No one will be fined at a level commensurate with the crime. No one will go to jail. Kim Strach is nothing if not willing to protect the machine that arranged for her to have her job.

Moffitt, Murry contributions connected to "Biggest Gambling Ring Bust in SC"

NC House members Tim Moffit and Tom Murry received campaign contributions from two South Carolina men who have since been indicted on charges of illegal gambling and money laundering totalling $386 million.

The campaign committee of Tom Murry, NC House District 41, received a $2,000 check from J Michael Caldwell of South Carolina, listed as "President" of a company simply stated as "Gateway", on 1/29/2013, one day before the North Carolina State House reconvened (after a 1/9/2013 organizational session). On the same day, 1/29/2013, the campaign committee of Tim Moffitt, NC House District 116, received a $2,000 check from Bobby Mosley of South Carolina, listed only as "Principal" with no employer notation. Caldwell is Mosley's son-in-law and together they ran a gambling enterprise spanning multiple corporate entities and over 600 internet cafes in multiple states.

On 8/14/2013 an indictment was entered in federal court in South Carolina naming J Michael Caldwell, Bobby Mosley, Sr., Gateway Systems, LLC, Gateway Gaming, LLC, Frontier Software Systems, LLC and Frontier Gaming, Inc, as defendants on one count of conducting an illegal gambling business and one count of money laundering related to the alleged illegal gambling. It has been described as "the biggest gambling ring bust in South Carolina history."

Something fishy going on with coastal Republicans

Apparently enforcing the law is bad for somebody's business:

The state budget, echoing a directive from the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission, gave Dr. Louis Daniel, NCDMF’s executive director, the authority to enter into an Joint Enforcement Agreement with the National Marine Fisheries Service that would provide the state with an estimated $600,000 per year to allow the marine patrol and NMFS enforcement officers to respond to fisheries violations in either state or federal waters off North Carolina.

But Daniel is apparently waiting on directions from John Skvarla, director of the NCDMF’s parent N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, before doing anything. And Skvarla is apparently waiting for an okay from Gov. Pat McCrory. Why? Six weeks ago, Daniel, Skvarla, McCrory, Rep. Thom Tillis (speaker of the state house and a candidate for the U.S. Senate) and Sen. Rep. Phil Berger (president of the state senate) received a letter from 10 Republican legislators expressing their opposition to the JEA, despite its having been part of the budget that was passed by both Republican-controlled houses of the legislature.

They cut the Fishery's enforcement budget in lieu of receiving these Federal dollars, and now they're trying to block that partnership. And the only logical reason is: The big commercial fishing operations are profiting from violations of the law, and they want to sink the boats of those who are tasked with enforcing them. Law and order, indeed.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

We'll start today's edition with a call to words:

Just a heads-up: The MEC is going through these comments like a Florida Republican elections board, with an eye towards discarding anything that "lacks relevance." Or some such nonsense. So if all you have to say is, "Fracking is bad!", you need to do some more thinking and expound on that idea.

Daily Dose: You can't trust a thing Thom Tillis says edition

Did accident cause Tillis’ college detour? Lawsuit raises question (Daily Beast) -- Kay Hagan’s Senate challenger is known as a fan of extreme sports and tort reform. But when Tillis was 17, he sued over a car accident that left him with a ‘35% permanent partial disability.’ Long before Thom Tillis was a mountain-biking crusader for tort reform, the North Carolina GOP Senate nominee was a badly injured 17-year-old plaintiff in a lawsuit over a car accident. Just before 9 p.m. on Saturday, June 3, 1978, Tillis was driving his then-girlfriend and future ex-wife down a street in Nashville, Tennessee, when 16-year-old Patricia Duncan took a left turn into his 1978 Ford. … The accident left Tillis, according to court documents, with a “35% permanent partial disability.” said Tillis’ lawyer John Hollins, who noted that the disability ratings came from doctors, “I can’t remember if he limped at all, but he got a pretty severe injury.” Tillis had a very good case, Hollins said, pointing out that fewer cases were settled then and that, knowing the defendant’s lawyer, “he would have tried the case if he had a damn chance to win it.” Tillis, despite the prognosis, was able to make a full recovery. Daniel Keylin, a spokesman for the Republican’s campaign, told The Daily Beast: “The injuries were serious, requiring surgery on Tillis’s hand and a lengthy recovery for full range of motion in his back. Now more than 35 years later, he has made a full recovery, but at the time it was feared—and expected—the injuries would leave lasting effects.” … Tillis’s 1978 lawsuit wasn’t just about his injuries, however. Much of his case for damages hinged on the claim that the resulting injury left him unable to take advantage of an Air Force scholarship to attend college. In his complaint, Tillis alleged that while he “still desires to go to college, having lost his scholarship, he has been without the funds to do so.” Keylin echoed that argument, saying: “The injuries sustained in the accident prevented him from pursuing his path to the Air Force, which obviously impacted the trajectory of his life. Instead he immediately entered the private sector, where he worked hard and enjoyed early success in emerging technology sectors.” That doesn’t entirely jibe with a statement by Tillis to the Charlotte Observer in 2011, when he said he wasn’t “wired to go to college.” Eventually, the Republican graduated from college in his 30s via a long-distance program run by the University of Maryland’s University College and built a successful career in business as a consultant for IBM and PriceWaterhouseCooper.

Thom Tillis and the Case of the Missing $51 Billion

Where's Nancy Drew when you need her?

North Carolina will miss $51 billion in federal payments over the next decade unless lawmakers expand Medicaid under Obamacare, according to a new report. Hospitals in the state would get $11.3 billion of that amount under an expanded system, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Urban Institute say. The report comes as hospitals across the nation are laying off workers. The health care sector cut 52,638 jobs nationally last year, making it second only to the financial industry in layoffs.

Thanks for nothing, Thom Tillis.

NC's environment suffers under voting public's lack of concern

Callous disregard or guilty conscience?

It’s been a big year for environmental news in North Carolina. First there was a major coal ash spill into the Dan River in February that raised concerns about water quality. And there’s been a push for more hydraulic fracturing – better known as “fracking.” It’s led to packed houses at town hall meetings across the region.

But these issues aren’t likely to change the political landscape. That’s according to Jason Husser. He’s an assistant professor of political science at Elon University and also works on the university’s poll. He spoke with WFDD’s Paul Garber about where the environment ranks among voters and where it could make a difference.

This is not surprising. For years, polls have steadily shown that only about 3% of voters put environmental concerns at the top of their list of most important issues. That may have increased slightly in the wake of the spill and the looming fracking problems, but hoping it will be a major factor in November is probably naïve. I explored some of the reasons for this in an op-ed I wrote earlier in the year:


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