GOP voter fraud hunt is really a lack of electoral confidence

Renewed attacks on voting rights in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and other states are as much about power as about policy and race. The hand wringing over elusive "fraud" is because America's majority ethnic group sees its traditional grip on power eroding with shifting demographics.

In North Carolina last week, Republican lawmakers again raised the alarm over the possibility that hundreds -- maybe thousands -- had criminally cast ballots in two states in the 2012 election. GOP leaders were quick to insist that the numbers justified the draconian voting law they passed in the last legislative session. The U.S. Department of Justice has challenged the law in court.

Chris Kromm of the Institute for Southern Studies just as quickly debunked the study by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach whose office, after checking 5 million voter records in 2013, "couldn't provide any evidence of a single instance in which the Interstate Crosscheck's data had led to an actual legal charge of voter fraud." Because the data, Kromm writes, "offers no proof such fraud is occurring." Requiring citizens to present identity cards to vote would have no effect on voting in multiple states.

On the front lines in the war to protect NC's water quality

The Waterkeeper Alliance on the move:

Peter Harrison has an enviable life: He spends a lot of time in a boat, exploring the waterways of North Carolina. Peter Harrison also has an interesting life: Other boats sometimes follow his, with huge cameras pointed in his direction, shutters clicking away.

“It’s just intimidation,” Harrison says. The people with cameras tend to be security guards for Duke Energy, the state’s largest electricity provider, and a company that Harrison spends a lot of time investigating.

If Duke Energy spent half the time watching their potential sources of pollution as they do watching the watchers, the need for people like Peter wouldn't be as critical. Then again, if you're really not concerned about what damage you do to the environment accidentally, or if you do so intentionally to help you manage the volume of your wastes, stopping people like Peter becomes the top priority:

Latest from Lee: legal liability?

As Blue Lee reported previously, Lee County commissioners planned and then carried out a meeting that apparently violated NC's open meetings law.

Now a citizen has filed a lawsuit against the Lee County Commissioners.

A Lee County resident has sued the county Board of Commissioners over a public meeting he says was less open than required by the state's open meetings law.

Jay Calendine is an active member of the Lee County Democratic Party and one of those who initially raised objections to the county holding a public meeting in a gated community.

What's up at DPS?

The #2 person at the NC Department of Public Safety, W. Ellis Boyle, abruptly resigned.

W. Ellis Boyle, the No. 2 at the state Department of Public Safety, resigned after weeks of talks with agency Secretary Frank Perry.

In a letter to Perry released Friday, Boyle did not give a reason for what prompted his departure, except to say he was “resigning to pursue other professional opportunities.”

Boyle served as the deputy secretary and general counsel. His resignation is effective Monday, the letter states.

NC Amendment One may get struck down this summer

Both the Winston-Salem Journal and Greensboro News and Record are carrying a McClatchy Tribune article on the vulnerability of NC's Amendment One. A ruling striking down the ban could come a few months before the 2014 midterms.

The 4th Circuit, which covers the Carolinas, West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland, is one of several appeals courts around the nation that will hear potentially ground-breaking marriage cases in the coming months. Utah’s legal showdown begins Thursday.

Same-sex marriage is already allowed in Maryland. And on Valentine’s Day, a federal judge in Virginia ruled her state’s gay marriage ban is unconstitutional.

That ruling is now being appealed, and in line with the speed of other marriage-equality appeals, that case will be heard by the 4th Circuit panel on May 13.

People are pissed at Duke Energy & Pollution

Art Pope's constellation.

The John Locke Foundation, based in Raleigh, is part of conservative businessman and state budget director Art Pope's constellation of free-market, anti-government groups. Its critique of Duke Energy was more muted—but no longer.

We'll get to the main story in a moment, but first we have to relish Bob Geary's turn of a phrase: "Art Pope's constellation of free-market, anti-government groups". We appreciate good writing, and Geary is a consistent source of it. This particular phrase is, in our estimation, just about perfect. Well done Bob!

And now what Bob's getting at:

What could possibly be wrong with one company supplying the electricity to 95 percent of our state? One company that is both public utility and shareholder-owned: Captive customers pay the bills and the company makes all the campaign contributions it wants.

Interstate Crosscheck not as good as they claim

Like fingerprints, when taken all together, your nine digit social security number is unique to you. But, historically, the three distinct parts of that number are not unique to any one individual; the numbers within each grouping on your card may appear on another’s card in exactly the same sequence. Including the last four digits used to match voter registration names by the Interstate Crosscheck Voter Identification Program. The premise of the matches they claim to have found amongst North Carolina and out of state voters is invalid.

Schooled by middle-schoolers: the GOP's declining intellect

After reading this article I posted the following on Facebook:

It's a sad state of affairs when Republicans realize they need to tone down or back off on rhetoric that worked with Tea Party adults at C4GC, but probably wouldn't fly under the scrutiny of middle-schoolers.

While I understand that students are relatively smarter than they were a few decades ago (try to help an eighth-grader with their homework if you doubt that), they are also presented with much the same information as those of us with a few years under our belt. Scientific accomplishments, geopolitical developments, social structural changes, etc. Unless you choose to only learn new things filtered through the lens of ideological and/or religious viewpoints. My comment on Facebook was in reference to this:

Senate seat for sale

When the supply of desirable items is limited, demand soars. With only a few US Senate seats available for purchase this year, outsiders are dumping truckloads of money into North Carolina. So far, the highest bidders are the Koch brothers.

[Karl Rove's $1.1 million pro-Tillis] American Crossroads ad follows $8.3 million spent on six ads against Hagan and the health care law, which she supported, by Americans for Prosperity, a group backed by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. Koch Industries has headquarters in Kansas.

It's old news that Karl Rove and the Koch brothers have already launched an all-out attack on Kay Hagan in the form of television ads. But the amounts are staggering:

W-S Journal feature story on Republican gerrymandering

The Winston-Salem Journal has an in-depth front-page look at the Republican gerrymandering that has mucked up North Carolina's political landscape, including a helpful infographic.

The 2012 election should have been a good one for Democrats running for Congress in North Carolina.

They received a total of 2.2 million votes — about 81,000 more than their Republican opponents. But when those votes were divvied up among the state's 13 House districts, Democrats came up short. Way short.

Republicans won nine seats and Democrats only four.

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