James @
Friday, August 8, 2014 - 5:19pm

Not a week goes by where we don't engage in soul-searching about BlueNC's role in the political stratosphere. To some observers, BlueNC is an odd-bird with a kook in charge. To others, we are an indispensable source of community. Many depend on us for insights about which bits of news might matter most, and how different stories are connected to one another. Some of our more recent soul-searching involves the intersection of Facebook communities, and how traditional blogging may or may not fit into that growing space.

BlueNC
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Friday, August 8, 2014 - 11:58am

If there has been any remaining doubt about what a vast majority of North Carolinians voted into office, those lingering questions can be put to bed. Many thought it was Republican versus Democrat. You were fooled. And cheerfully, many ran eagerly to scrape the bubbling effluent off of an already overflowing septic tank, put in a vase, and set it up on the mantel; where glowing admiration would never be too far away.

MOREHEAD CITY — Republicans in the N.C. General Assembly plan to overrule or impeach the state’s attorney general following his statements on the recent appellate court ruling overturning a ban on same-sex marriages in Virginia.

Make no mistake; you didn't vote Republican. You voted for stinking crap.

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James @
Friday, August 8, 2014 - 10:18am

Among the most damaging of all animal species in the world today, termites strike a special fear in humans. These insects are legendary in their ability to destroy from within, secretly attacking foundations until the buildings around them collapse into rubble. Such is the impact of the GOP on the foundation of government in North Carolina. Art Pope, of course, is the queen of destruction.

From a throne deep inside his multimillion dollar opinion manufacturing machine, Mr. Pope has decimated our state's economy and enriched wealthy citizens at the expense of middle class families, teachers, government workers, and the environment. No area of responsible stewardship has been left unscathed.

Yet the damage being done is not easily visible to the people in our state. The destruction is hidden behind the walls of our classrooms and beneath our bridges and highways. Having plastered over the hollowed out joists in our foundations, Mr. Pope and his minions have managed to shield their work from public view. They are hoping people won't notice until after November.

The strong house that has been North Carolina is at risk of crumbling around us, ravaged by gluttonous creatures whose only goal is to fatten their queen.

Art Pope
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Friday, August 8, 2014 - 10:13am

And they're spending some serious money doing it:

Eight billboards recently posted along key highways across the state display a loaded question to teachers in bold white letters: "Want a $450 raise?" The message is part of a new public campaign launched this week by conservative think tank, NC Civitas Institute, urging teachers to quit the North Carolina Association of Educators.

"They're not really an advocate for education. They're an advocate for people who pay dues to them," said Francis De Luca, NC Civitas President.

No shit, Sherlock. You just made the best argument for teachers continuing their membership: the NCAE's main concern is for the teachers, not for "better results in the classroom" or for pleasing the increasingly impossible-to-please parents. And the NCAE's success in motivating members to engage in Moral Monday protests is the main reason they're getting raises. If left up to people like you, teachers would have to survive a knife fight just to secure a 1 year contract making $9.00 per hour.

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James @
Friday, August 8, 2014 - 8:52am

Punch line of the century from DAG McCrory: We have fulfilled our promises.
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BUDGET TO EMBRACE, HIDE FROM, OR OPPORTUNITY FOR SMART ALECK?
Before he signed the budget bill on Thursday, Gov. Pat McCrory declared: “We have fulfilled our promises. … We are about to sign a budget that has no reductions in Medicaid eligibility, that has no tax increases, that has very good pay increases for our teachers throughout North Carolina, that has very good pay raises for Highway Patrol and for our court employees, that has solid pay raises for all state employees which are needed, which has a cost of living increase for retirees, and also has the same funding this year, as last year, for teachers assistants and teachers currently in the classroom.”

With a budget so magnificent, surely legislators who supported it -- 68 in the House and 33 in the Senate-- would want to be around to bask in its reflective glory at a bill signing ceremony? But at the signing festivities Thursday in the Executive Mansion, only two legislators, both from Wake County and one not even seeking re-election, standing beside the governor when the bill was signed. House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg), who could use some positive publicity these days, wasn’t around. Nor was Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) standing with the governor. The other five folks standing with the governor when he signed the budget were all paid members of his staff.

McCrory appeared to abandon his prepared comments as he went out of his way to take a personal swipe at the leader of North Carolina Association of Educators. “I also realize that the head of the current teachers’ union continues to criticize this budget even though his salary I assume is much higher than any teacher in North Carolina,” McCrory said. It seemed to be something of a smart aleck remark that echoed other recent behavior, such as his awkward offer of cookies to abortion rights protestors or the comments of his Transportation Secretary Tony Tata who a day earlier attacked lawyers with the Southern Environmental Law Center as "ivory tower elitists. … With their lattes and their contempt, and chuckle ...” Perhaps it is grasping at an opportunity, amid the challenges and frustrations of wrestling with public policy, to blow off some steam. But it accomplishes little in elevating the public debate over serious issues and legitimate differences of opinion.

Daily dose
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James @
Thursday, August 7, 2014 - 1:39pm

A friend shared this observation with me today, and it seemed right on the money.

In the old days, they were called “Kremlin Watchers” – international analysts who’d keep an eye on the public appearances of top Russian leaders to determine who was on the ins and who was on the outs. Often, the biggest display of closeness to power was at the annual May Day parade in Red Square. Who appeared atop Lenin’s tomb, and what order they were standing in often signaled critical changes in power and influence.

Well, applying that cold war practice to today’s budget signing by Gov. Pat McCrory offers some interesting, and perhaps revealing, insights.

NC Budget
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Thursday, August 7, 2014 - 9:48am

The invasion of the crumb snatchers:

When Gov. Pat McCrory speaks, it's frequently hard to discern whether he's being disingenuous for political reasons or truly believes what he says but is surprisingly uninformed of reality. Such is the case with the governor's latest foray into immigration. McCrory on Tuesday and again on Wednesday sounded the alarm about 1,200 unaccompanied immigrant children who have trickled into North Carolina. McCrory wants these kids' deportation hearings held, and quickly.

"We do not know where the over-1,100 children are right now and what the status of their legal guardians are and whether or not these children are protected, and that's what I care about --- the protection of these children," McCrory said at a press conference Wednesday. "We have to get them with guardians we know are safe themselves." On Tuesday, he had added that the state doesn't know if the children lack immunizations and pose health risks to North Carolinians.

Well, there won't be any Gubernatorial cookies baked for these kids. It's apparent this is just one more case where the DAG opened his mouth and started spewing rhetoric without doing his homework:

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BlueNC @
Thursday, August 7, 2014 - 8:49am

N.C. Budget Chief Pope Quits After Protests (Bloomberg News) -- Art Pope, the budget director who became the focus of weekly protests at North Carolina’s capitol, is stepping down, Governor Pat McCrory said in a statement. Pope, a 58-year-old businessman who formed a series of free-market organizations in the state and helped fund a Republican takeover of the legislature in 2010, became budget director in 2013. He was vilified during the demonstrations known as Moral Mondays for the administration’s decisions to cut taxes and spending on higher education and other programs. He will be returning to running his family’s retail business, Variety Wholesalers Inc.
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-08-06/north-carolina-budget-chief-who...

THE SPILL
Why NC Lawmakers Couldn't Agree On A Coal Ash Management (WUNC-FM) -- A few members of the North Carolina House of Representatives will be back in Raleigh for a skeleton session today, but no real business is expected to be conducted. Technically, they need to be there to keep the legislature in session. That’s because they couldn’t agree with their colleagues in the Senate on one of their main priorities this summer – what to do about 33 coal ash dumps around the state. This story starts in February this year, and you might have seen it on national newscasts. On the PBS Newshour: “A major spill of toxic coal ash is raising questions again about the safety of water.” On the Rachel Maddow Show: “A Duke Energy coal ash dump in Eden, N.C., broke loose, went gushing into the Dan River, coating that river bottom for 70 miles with a ribbon of sludge.” … Just when lawmakers will finish their work on a coal ash plan is another disagreement. They have temporarily adjourned. House Speaker Tom Tillis says he wants the bill resolved later this month. Senate leader Berger wants to do it after the November elections, when they’ll take up another contentious bill – an overhaul of the state’s Medicaid system.
http://wunc.org/post/why-nc-lawmakers-couldnt-agree-coal-ash-management-...

Daily dose
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Wednesday, August 6, 2014 - 9:26pm

You might recall that one of the items in the budget from the NC legislature put aside $200,000 for investigation of voter fraud. The measure was prompted by the work of the Voter Integrity Project, an outfit that was pushing the idea of widespread fraud to push for voter id and other voter intimidation.

A columnist with the Washington Post did a detailed study and, yes, found voter fraud.

To be specific - 31 cases of voter fraud. Nationwide. Since 2000. Out of one billion votes cast.

Note: these allegations do not include other forms of fraud not prevented by a requirement to show ID at the polls, including absentee ballot fraud, vote buying, vote coercion, fraud in the tallying process, voter registration fraud, double voting, voting by nonresidents, voting by noncitizens, voting by persons disenfranchised by conviction, or fraud in the petitioning process.)

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