Saturday News: Berger entrenches bigotry in NC

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BERGER ON FULL REPEAL OF HB2: NOT NOW, NOT EVER (WTVD-TV) -- NC Senate leader Phil Berger said in an interview with Time Warner Cable News Thursday that there are not enough votes in the General Assembly for an outright repeal of the controversial HB2 law that has cost the state millions. "I think the window for that compromise (on repeal of HB2) may not be open at this point. And I certainly don't believe the votes exist for an outright repeal without anything else." Equality NC executive director and former state representative, Chris Sgro, told ABC11 that Sen. Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore aren't looking out for the best interest of North Carolinians. "It's childish. It's not about left, right, or center anymore," said Sgro. "It's about their actions being in a childish fashion that's not best for the people of North Carolina."
http://abc11.com/politics/nc-senate-leader-says-support-lacking-for-hb2-repeal/1724973/

Another McCrory appointee fighting his dismissal

Partisanship is just fine, except when it hurts you:

David Prickett, who was communications director for the Office of State Human Resources until Jan. 19, claims he was fired by the Democratic administration of Gov. Roy Cooper because he is a Republican. Prickett’s filings also say the Cooper administration didn’t follow proper procedure when it failed to give him 10 days of notice before taking action against him.

“This type of arbitrary or politically motivated dismissal of employees who have done nothing wrong is exactly what our state personnel laws were passed to prevent,” said Prickett’s attorney, Michael C. Byrne, a Raleigh lawyer who represents state workers.

Right. Where was this outrage when the General Assembly decided to give McCrory four times as many political appointments when he took over the previous Perdue administration? Crickets.

Pope Center slaps new coat of paint on crumbling structure

Different name, same tired old rhetoric:

Martin will be joined by Jenna Robinson, president of the former Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, a conservative think tank that has been newly renamed for Martin. The change took effect Jan. 1, when the center officially became the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

On the center’s website, Robinson wrote that confusion between the Pope Center and the Pope Foundation prompted the name change. Both organizations were named for John William Pope but had different missions, she wrote: “The new name will allow us to create our own identity – focused on our mission of academic renewal.”

Yeah, I mean, no. There hasn't been any confusion. They may have (slightly) different missions, but the guiding principles are still the same. And they won't change with a new name, or a new logo, or a new Mission Statement, or whatever other facile tweaks to its appearance you try to make. A thorn by any other name. And just to give you an idea where Jenna Robinson stands on government helping families cope with higher education costs, check this out:

Friday News: Berger channeling Trump

BERGER'S REFLEXIVE SOCIAL MEDIA BLASTS STIFLE DIALOGUE (Capitol Broadcasting Co. editorial) -- Senate leader Phil Berger should focus on discussing issues and reaching consensus rather than seeking confrontations via social media. Sen. Berger needs to remember that North Carolina voters support Medicaid expansion -- 63 percent -- and increased funding for public schools. Gov. Cooper did not run in a gerrymandered district. He ran statewide. He has not proposed a "massive tax hike" or "massive budget busting." Someone should take Berger's phone away from him. Maybe he would then talk with the governor about his proposals and see what common ground might be found. It is what North Carolina citizens want and expect from their leaders. Sen. Berger knows that.
http://www.wral.com/editorial-berger-s-reflexive-social-media-blasts-stifle-dialogue/16474888/

Alternate US agency Twitter accounts being "handed off" to non-government entities

So much for whistleblowing:

As somebody who has been following Twitter for years, I have had a little voice in the back of my head telling me these might be truly faux accounts, not just "renegade" government workers resisting. The jury (mine, anyway) is still out on that issue, but going forward, it's important for folks to remember this change of the guard:

Thursday News: Zero credibility

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BERGER DEMANDS COMPROMISE BUT WON’T PROMISE REPEAL OF HB2 (Policy Watch) – Senate boss Phil Berger is continuing to demand more “compromise” from Democrats if there’s to be any action on HB2 – but won’t say there could be complete repeal. “I think it’s possible for there to be some arrangement to address that issue,” Berger said. “I think it’s going to take compromise on both sides.” The General Assembly failed to repeal the controversial last month in one of several hastily convened extra sessions just before Christmas.
http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2017/01/25/berger-hb2-compromise-still-possible/#sthash.uVLRvtrp.dpbs

Fascism Watch: Throwing journalists in prison

Systematically demolishing the Fourth Estate:

Four more journalists have been charged with felonies after being arrested while covering the unrest around Donald Trump’s inauguration, meaning that at least six media workers are facing up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine if convicted.

Jack Keller, a producer for the web documentary series Story of America, said he was charged and detained for about 36 hours after being kettled by police at 12th and L streets on Friday morning and arrested despite telling officers that he was covering the demonstrations as a journalist. “The way we were treated was an absolute travesty,” said Keller, whose cellphone has been kept by the authorities.

If fascist actions were stocks being traded on Wall Street, this one would be a Bellwether. To wit, one that is a leading indicator of a developing trend, and possibly a driver of that trend. The effort to silence journalists through intimidation has (usually) one goal in mind, the blocking or serious reduction in future scrutiny of government actions, of which the public would likely disapprove. This isn't just an assault on one group of people; it's an assault on everybody, on our right to know what is happening in our country. And the following mindset should alarm each one of you reading this:

Wednesday News: Calling for the Puppetmaster

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GOP LEADERS ENLIST ART POPE IN FIGHT AGAINST MEDICAID EXPANSION (Winston-Salem Journal) -- As Friday’s hearing in New Bern on expanding the state’s Medicaid program looms, state Republican leaders have enlisted former state budget director Art Pope in their efforts to thwart the initiative. Pope, who served in the McCrory administration, said in a declaration submitted Monday that state money is being used already to advance Gov. Roy Cooper’s proposal. Pope said that Medicaid expansion funds would have to be diverted from projects that were authorized for funds. “They are resources and funds that will be unrecoverable once they are expended,” he said.
http://www.journalnow.com/news/gop-leaders-enlist-art-pope-in-fight-against-medicaid-expansion/artic...

Betsy DeVos and the dumbing-down of US education policy

Striving for mediocrity:

Questioned minutes later, DeVos confesses she may have “confused” the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), leading Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan to worry aloud that the presumed chief of the United States’ massive public education structure is “unfamiliar” with one of its most basic protections.

It’s scenes like these that seem to be most vexing to public education advocates like June Atkinson, North Carolina’s former superintendent of public instruction, as DeVos’ confirmation looms. Atkinson was recently ousted from her longtime post by a Republican challenger who, much like DeVos, comes to the top position with relatively little experience in public school policymaking. “It was painful to watch,” says Atkinson of this month’s DeVos hearings.

That's an understatement. After such a poor (and often confusing) performance, it's hard to imagine any Senator actually voting for her. But she'll probably make it, and she will probably end up in court before 2018 arrives, because she is clearly not qualified for the position:

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