Next on the GOP's chopping block: Health care for state employees

Your family members need not apply:

State employees could lose access to a popular health insurance option and see costs for other options rise under changes the North Carolina State Health Plan board of trustees is due to vote on Friday.

Executives who run the health plan, which covers state workers, teachers and retirees, have also recommended that the board consider eliminating coverage for spouses, likely sending most of them to shop for coverage on Affordable Care Act exchanges.

The wording in the Budget that forced this horrible idea should be considered a precursor of a Taxpayer's Bill Of Rights (TABOR) if that poison pill is ever put before the voters. And I have little confidence the voters would be able to see past the hype and pseudo-patriotic language to understand how damaging it would be.

Duke Energy-funded "advisory board" recommends they not spend billions relocating coal ash

How can you afford advisory boards if you spend all that money?

An advisory board created by Duke Energy says all of the company’s coal ash ponds in North Carolina can safely be capped in place.

When asked by the Charlotte Business Journal about possible criticism that the Advisory Board is “bought and paid for” by Duke Energy, Daniels said: “All these reports have been submitted, signed and sealed by professional engineers and scientists… They are professionals, and that matters more than who they are working for.”

The first thing that popped into my head reading that declaration of professionalism was the Bush quote "Tribal sovereignty means that; it's sovereign. I mean, you're a -- you've been given sovereignty, and you're viewed as a sovereign entity." Just because you're a professional it doesn't mean you're not prone to bias or withholding information that could be damaging to your clients. Lawyers are professionals too, and "who they are working for" is a consideration that eclipses all others, including the truth.

Monday News: Let them eat Salisbury steak

SORRY, NC TEACHERS, YOUR RAISES WENT ELSEWHERE (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Speaker Tim Moore said that a 10 percent raise would not happen and that pay hikes were more likely going to be about 2 percent, if the Senate agrees. Republicans, even in a time of economic recovery, work on a tight budget because their priority is giving tax breaks to business and wealthy individuals, and they’re steering the state toward reliance on more sales and services taxes, which hit those of low and moderate incomes hardest. Too bad for teachers. And too bad for North Carolina families when a teacher shortage hits.
http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/editorials/article57628468.html

Racist propaganda prompted McCrory's Syrian refugee stance

Drinking deeply from a poisoned well of information:

In interviews, McCrory administration officials say there were ongoing discussions that weekend about a potential response. But when Steen dashed off a message to McCrory's personal email account, it was the first written note by one of his senior advisers urging the governor to consider action, according emails provided in response to a public records request.

"I think you should consider coming out in opposition to any more Syrian refugees coming here to the US or N. Carolina because the FBI says they cannot vet the Syrian refugees," Steen wrote, linking to a story in World Net Daily critical of U.S. refugee policy. Early the next morning, McCrory forwarded that email – adding only "FYI" – from his iPhone to his chief of staff, Thomas Stith.

And it doesn't appear that any of these "leaders" questioned the value of relying on a World Net Daily article to guide their policy decisions, a source that is easily in the top five least reliable outlets for credible information. The article itself is mostly a hit-piece against Lindsay Graham, and the author relies heavily on drivel provided by an extremely questionable "professor" using a borderline fraudulent resume:

Sunday News: GOP tough love edition

FOOD STAMP CHANGE CONCERNS ADVOCATES FOR POOR IN N. C. (AP) — Advocates for the poor are concerned about rule changes threatening food stamp benefits for 110,000 people in North Carolina if they don't meet work requirements.
http://www.reflector.com/ap/staten/food-stamp-change-concerns-advocates-poor-n-carolina-3124989

110,000 N.C. RESIDENTS COULD LOSE FOOD AID OVER WORK REQUIREMENTS (AP) — More than 1 million low-income residents in 21 states could soon lose their government food stamps if they fail to meet work requirements that began kicking in this month.
http://www.greensboro.com/news/n-c-residents-could-lose-food-aid-over-work-requirements/article_0e94...

NC Supreme Court: Sheriffs can fire employees for not "donating" to campaign

Welcome to the fifteenth Century:

The high court noted that county sheriffs hold an elected office established by the state Constitution, and they're recognized in state law as having sole authority over how their offices are run. Though they receive county funds, their offices are considered distinct from county government.

The court also rejected the deputies' arguments that their free-speech rights were violated, noting that "mutual confidence and loyalty between a sheriff and a deputy are crucial in accomplishing the sheriff's policies and duties" as an elected law enforcement official.

What the hell does money have to do with "mutual confidence and loyalty"? I don't care where you work, public or private sector, being fired for not contributing to a political campaign is just flat wrong. And for the NC Supreme Court to give this practice not just tacit approval, but supporting language as well, is off-the-charts crazy.

Saturday News: A decade of unnecessary suffering

HAVEN SHUTDOWN HIGHLIGHTS WEAKNESS IN LAW. (Fayetteville Observer) -- Many people in the animal-welfare community saw this coming a decade ago or more. All the signs were there, after all.
http://www.fayobserver.com/opinion/editorials/our-view-haven-shutdown-highlights-weakness-in-law/art...

STATE FAILED FOR YEARS TO HOLD HOKE ANIMAL SHELTER TO STANDARDS (WRAL-TV) -- The animal shelter near Raeford where more than 600 neglected animals were seized this week failed state inspections for more than a decade but was never shut down.
http://www.wral.com/state-failed-for-years-to-hold-hoke-animal-shelter-to-standards/15293766/

Meadows harps about serving constituents, while helping predatory mortgage lenders

To seem and not to be:

"When you come up to Washington, D.C., they want you to be on the team up here and what most Americans want is someone who comes up here and doesn't forget the people who send them here," Meadows told Greta Van Susteren on Fox News Wednesday night.

He said on Fox that Cruz's approach is, "Let's make sure what we do is really what's right for America, not for him or the lobbyists here or the Washington cartel."

Makes a good sound bite, but what Tea Party Mark doesn't brag about is doing the dirty work for banksters and other well-dressed loan sharks:

Taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBTQ students

We reserve the right to be bigoted and exclusionary:

“Sexual relationships outside of marriage and sexual relationships between persons of the same sex are immoral and sinful. The depth of the sinfulness of homosexual practice is recognized, and yet we believe the grace of God sufficient to overcome both the practice of such activity and the perversion leading to its practice.”

Lee Christian, the document states, reserves the right to deny admission or expel a student should the “atmosphere or conduct within” the home on these issues run contrary to the private school’s beliefs.

So it's not only LGBT students who are discriminated against; if a straight child's parents are in a same sex relationship, or the single parent of the child engages in such a relationship, however short-term it may be, the student can get the boot. One might be tempted to declare, "Who would want to send their child into such a cultish educational environment?" But that's not the point. The point is, the school should *not* be eligible for taxpayer dollars, regardless of the route that money takes to get there. Parents given vouchers should not be able to "choose" a school that discriminates in such a fashion. That money has to come with some caveats, and this should be at the top of the list.

Friday News: Idiots in the sky edition

confederacyofdunces.jpg

GROUP WITH N.C. TIES TO FLY CONFEDERATE FLAG OVER GOP DEBATE IN IOWA (Jones & Blount) -- – A South Carolina-based nonprofit group called Save Southern Heritage has announced it plans to fly a plane carrying a Confederate battle flag Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa to carry a message to Republican candidates debating there. The message from the plane will read “GOP LOSES W/O DIXIE!,” and is “in response to GOP complicity, apathy and cowardice in the destruction of Southern Heritage and Confederate symbols” across the South, according to a news release from the group.
http://jonesandblount.com/2016/01/28/group-with-n-c-ties-to-fly-confederate-flag-over-gop-debate-in-...

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