Art Pope Puppetshow

Pope puppet appointed to NC Court of Appeals

The rumors of Art Pope's loss of influence over McCrory are wildly exaggerated:

In a press release on Monday afternoon, Governor Pat McCrory announced that he will appoint Winston-Salem lawyer Richard Dietz to the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Dietz will fill the seat of Judge Bob Hunter, Jr., whom McCrory appointed as a Justice on the North Carolina Supreme Court ahead of elections in November. Judge hunter will be sworn in on September 6th to be followed by Dietz.

“Richard Dietz has an esteemed legal record and an extensive background in appellate practice,” said Governor McCrory. “His experience, service on the North Carolina Courts Commission and involvement in his community will make him a valuable addition to the Court of Appeals.”

What you won't find in this article is his recent attachment to Civitas and the John Locke Foundation, including his indoctrination training in free-market principles:

The puppet and his master doth protest too much

Denying the blatantly obvious:

“He drives the budgetary policy goals of the administration,” said one Republican lobbyist in town who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order not to anger either man. “The governor yields to Art. His real power, his influence in state government, is really having that turf all to himself.”

“My job, my role, my goal is not to influence and direct the governor,” Pope said emphatically. “My job is to analyze, to provide advice, facts, what the alternatives are. I present the information, and the governor decides.” McCrory said Pope defers to him, while often catching mistakes in the calculations made by state departments and legislative staffers. “We need more nerds like him in state government,” McCrory said.

The proper term is "wonk." Somebody who can explain how Senator Palpatine subverted the Republic's form of government is a nerd. But you know, Pope isn't just a wonk, either. A wonk usually writes or translates legislation for somebody else, without putting his or her influential twist on the language. That should be called "wanking." Making Art Pope a wanker.

NC Senate threatens to subpoena Art Pope

Too many bullies on the playground:

Pope complained that a Senate spokesman wrongly accused him of withholding budget information; the Senate in turn threatened to subpoena Pope if he didn’t appear at a committee meeting Thursday morning.

Pope wrote back that he was happy to attend. “While it is highly unusual to be holding Senate Appropriations Committee meeting on the budget, during Conference negotiations over the state budget bill, and to receive an invitation without even 24 hour notice, I will be happy to attend your meeting and respond to your requests,” Pope wrote.

Translated: "Keep it up, and you can kiss that $12,000 Pope family bundle goodbye for this November."

Political appointee supports plan to bring more power unto himself

In other breaking news, rain is wet and fire is hot:

Support for moving the State Bureau of Investigation under the governor’s control solidified Tuesday, as the proposal picked up support in the House and an administration official assured that the integrity of public corruption cases could be protected.

McCrory told reporters on Tuesday that Frank Perry, secretary of the Department of Public Safety, supports the move, and the two plan to meet soon to discuss it in detail. “He is strongly recommending consolidation of those resources to me,” McCrory said.

That is quite possibly the stupidest thing McCrory has said in...okay, all week. It's getting hard to keep track, frankly, which is one more reason he shouldn't be trusted with even more men with guns at his disposal. And it looks like James needs to go back to posting his Art Pope Puppetshow flowchart again:

Op-Ed on Supreme Court race

In which I attempt to swing some votes:

Make no mistake, it’s no coincidence this third candidate jumped into the race, just as it’s no coincidence this latecomer has been on Art Pope’s payroll for several years at one of his “institutes.” This is a calculated move to exploit both a quirk in our elections laws and the general lack of knowledge and concern voters have over judicial contests. But those movers and shakers aren’t satisfied with merely unbalancing the boat and leaving this up to luck. Oh, no. In for a penny, in for a pound. And these folks got a lot of pounds.

I've had several disagreements with various pundits about the wisdom of attacking the third-party attackers. While it's true they are not going to be on the ballot, they are coming into everybody's living room and pushing their views onto voters. The best way to fight that and to make all that money work against them is to educate the voting public:

Art Pope gets no love from Raleigh's Mayor

Maybe they should have asked the Deputy Assistant Mayor:

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane won’t be participating in a ribbon-cutting next week for a store owned by State Budget Director Art Pope’s company. The public relations representative then asked the mayor to approve a supportive quote to include in a news release.

The company wanted to attribute this comment to McFarlane: “When a city like Raleigh is dedicated to keeping it all local, what could make more sense than to welcome a discount store that is authentically local.”

Four days later, no one had responded to the request from McFarlane’s official email account.

And maybe they shouldn't have tried to put words in the Mayor's mouth. Somebody like McCrory might have responded, "Ooh! Those are good words, where do I sign?" But people who aren't waiting for their chance to see the Wizard so they can get a brain prefer to use their own words.

Art Pope & Koch Brothers wealthy political bullies

The rumors of their influence are greatly underestimated:

We saw this with the 19th century robber barons and in the 1930’s with the liberty league. Each generation has had to deal with these bullies. In the modern era, they are the Koch brothers and their wealthy allies, including North Carolina’s Art Pope. Spending millions of dollars, America’s 21st century bullies have reshaped the Republican Party and are threatening representative democracy.

Since 2010, in North Carolina, conservative businessman Art Pope has spent millions moving the state government to the right. Now, for the first time since reconstruction, Republicans control the governorship and the legislature. One observer noted, “Democrats running for office in North Carolina are running against Art Pope.”

This is one big reason why Democrats (both elected and activists) need to support campaign finance reform, instead of trying to "play the game" of big money with their Republican opposition. Aside from a handful of progressive businessmen, most of the wealthy would prefer to continue the shift of the nation's wealth upwards and preserve their dominance of our public policy debates, and the GOP gives them exactly that. The longer we put that off, the more influential these modern-day robber barons become:

The failed canonization of Art Pope

Executive sings the praises of his boss:

Mr. Etheridge failed to present a full picture of charitable giving by Art Pope and the John William Pope Foundation. In addition to supporting public policy nonprofits, which seek to enhance prosperity for all people, the Pope Foundation devotes millions to humanitarian charities, such as soup kitchens, medical missions, food banks and homeless shelters.

In October, the Pope Foundation gave $15,000 to Food Bank of the Albemarle to help those struggling to make ends meet in Elizabeth City. One of the foundation’s core focus areas is to meet the immediate needs of men, women and children in our communities.

Bolding mine, because it's the most outrageous lie in the article. JLF and Civitas advocate for a very exclusive subset of the population, a subset that already controls an inordinate percentage of the country's wealth, and they couldn't give a rat's ass about all the rest. As far as the food bank donation, the draconian cuts to unemployment and the horrific mishandling of food stamp applications, both of which can be laid at the feet of Art Pope, have emptied the shelves of food banks across the entire state. So you'll excuse me if I'm not impressed that he scribbled off a check to them. This doesn't impress me either:

Art Pope ties teacher raises to budget cuts

No good deed goes without punishing others:

State Budget Director Art Pope has told state agencies he wants their 2014-15 spending proposals to be at least 2 percent less than what the General Assembly allocated for next year in the two-year budget approved in 2013. He says savings may go toward salary increases.

This has become standard procedure for Republican leaders in Congress; to make much-needed and often humanitarian spending contingent upon cuts elsewhere. It's a disgusting tactic, which actually serves two purposes: it pits government employees against each other, so they're less likely to be sympathetic to each others' needs, and it also allows the budget-cutter to distance himself from the responsibility for his actions. Or so he thinks. In reality, it sends a very clear message: he has nothing but contempt for all those affected.

Puppet propaganda in the op-ed pages

Laying down covering fire during an election year:

If I wanted to keep poor people poor, there are several government policies I would favor.

For starters, I would advocate for a robust and ever-expanding welfare state. Programs like Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment insurance, etc.? Perfect poverty traps.

I would recognize that a perfect recipe for keeping poor people poor is to create incentives that push them into decisions that prevent them from climbing out of poverty.

We can expect to see more of this tripe as the year unfolds. What Brian is trying (and so far failing) to do is deflect attention away from the realities of the recession, and put forward the idea that people are struggling because of their own choices. All they have to do is "want" to work and a good job will magically materialize for them. The truth is much more complex and disturbing:

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