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18
About a week ago the Governor went on a tear about 60 Minutes, saying Leslie Stahl had done him wrong; that he’d sat sweating under the hot lights for an hour answering questions but she hadn’t even blamed Democrats once for the coal ash spill – all his work had been for nothing. Worse than nothing.
 
Then, next, he went on a tear against the Associated Press saying they’d treated him worse than Leslie Stahl – that they’d smeared him with innuendo and that no matter what AP said the payments he’d received from Lending Tree (where he’d served as a Director) were 100% legal and he’d earned every penny of the money and he didn’t appreciate getting whacked by “drive-by journalism.”
 
Now the AP story said the Governor’s stock bonus was unusual and raised red flags but about the worse fact in the story was the Governor had been paid $185,000 by Lending Tree, an online loan company that’s a cut above a pay day lender and got fined $3 million by South Carolina for misleading consumers. The AP didn’t say the Governor had done anything illegal. Or that he’d done anything unethical (as Governor ) to help Lending Tree.  
 
So here’s an odd fact: While the AP story wasn’t exactly flattering it didn’t amount to much until the Governor stood up and did something I haven’t seen in 40 years: He announced, I’m not a crook.


 

 

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17
He’d been through, he said, the ordeal of sitting for a whole hour and fifteen minutes under hot lights, sweating, answering questions but then, he added, when he saw the interview on TV he had been shocked.
He sounded – not in the TV interview but, later, when he described the interview to a reporter – like a well-meaning boy saying, I was good, I behaved, and I got punched.
 
Wondering, What did he expect? next I watched the 60 Minutes program about Duke Energy’s coal ash spill – and he was hardly in it:
 
Leslie Stahl asked: Tell us how much the fine was?
 
Pat McCrory said: I don’t have the list but…
 
Stahl interrupted: It was $99,111.
 
And McCrory said: That’s correct. It wasn’t a big fine.
 
That was the only tough question Leslie Stahl asked Pat McCrory.
 
Still boyish at fifty-eight, Pat McCrory’s run head on into a mountain of coal ash, a posse of reporters and a battalion of cold-hearted lobbyists with no respect for boyish charm.     

 


 

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17
Conventional wisdom says only two people can stop Hillary Clinton from the nomination in 2016: Hillary herself and Bill Clinton.
 
But two other people embody a potential problem: Senator Elizabeth Warren and former Senator Jim Webb. Warren and Webb are vastly different individuals, but are making much the same critique of Washington. The message appeals to many Democrats and, at least indirectly, criticizes the Clintons. It’s anti-Wall Street, when the Clintons have close Wall Street ties and deep Wall Street wallets. From Webb, it’s also anti-war, when Hillary has a reputation as a hawk.
 
As Carter noted this week (“Cross of Gold”), Senator Warren rang even conservatives’ bells with her floor speech against a budget-bill provision that “put taxpayers back on the hook for the bailout of big banks.”
 
Webb, who served one term in the Senate from Virginia, wrote this in 2010 about the 2008 bailout (“We Helped the Bankers. Now It’s Their Turn.”): “The financial sector recovered rather quickly, but not without a vast amount of help. The time has come to include taxpayers in the rewards of a recovery that would never have happened without their money.”
 
Warren is a Massachusetts liberal, sort of a Howard Dean (without the scream) appealing to “the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.” Webb is an odd duck, a white Southern populist of the type that has nearly disappeared.
 
He’s a Naval Academy grad, a Marine and Vietnam combat veteran, twice-wounded and much-decorated. He’s a great writer, of novels, history and memoirs. He was President Reagan’s Secretary of the Navy, but he stayed a Democrat, unseated George Allen in 2006, then left the Senate after one term.
 
He has the military cred to oppose the Iraq and Afghan wars and to question an interventionist foreign policy. On the economy, he says things like:
 
“Walk into some of our inner cities if you dare, and see the stagnation, poverty, crime, and lack of opportunity that still affects so many African Americans. Or travel to the Appalachian Mountains, where my own ancestors settled and whose cultural values I still share, and view the poorest counties in America – who happen to be more than 90 percent White, and who live in the reality that ‘if you’re poor and White you’re out of sight.’ The Democratic Party used to be the place where people like these could come not for a handout but for an honest handshake, good full-time jobs, quality education, health care they can afford, and the vital, overriding belief that we’re all in this together and the system is not rigged.”
 
On today’s market, it’s unlikely either Webb or Warren will stop Hillary. Warren says she’s not running. After Obama, the party isn’t likely to nominate another first-term Senator. Webb has formed an exploratory committee, but, culturally and viscerally, he probably gives a lot of Democrats the hives.
 
Looking over the two of them now may be akin to kicking the tires on sports cars when you know you’ll probably go with that reliable Clinton Family Truckster. But strange things can happen on the road to the White House.
 
In 1996, Bill Clinton talked about “building a bridge to the 21st Century.” Twenty years later, Hillary will have to build a bridge between her record and Democrats who yearn for a newer, more exciting ride.

 

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16
Once again, a TAPster bails me out on a busy day with this guest blog:
 
“Regardless of our personal feelings about Governor McCrory, we should all pray for his safety. We should help him across the street, taste his food and take turns guarding the mansion’s front door.
 
“These drastic measures are required to ensure that no accident or bad chicken salad or crazed terrorist gives the current lieutenant governor a shot at the big job.
 
“Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, obviously and understandably, is bored. The lieutenant governor isn’t a real job. Its only function is to preside over the Senate, so there’s not much to do when the legislature is out of session. Despite this, the citizens give him a large staff, a big office, a fulltime paycheck and no parental guidance.
 
“So Forest is spending his idle time dreaming up stuff to do. He’s stirring up support for a convention of states to rewrite the nation’s Constitution. Seriously? Our lieutenant governor?
 
“The only constitutional rewrite we should contemplate is one to make the lieutenant governor a part time job to preside over the Senate. We can close his office, fire his staff and give the savings to the teachers.”

 

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16
The talk shows and newspapers were full of stories last weekend about riots and protests about white policemen killing young black men – people opined about our country’s ‘systematic racial problems’ and how Michael Brown was killed for stealing a box of cigars and Eric Garner died for selling tax free cigarettes on the street but no one mentioned a third crime.
 
Cigars and cigarettes didn’t trigger the violence that led to Michael Brown and Eric Garner’s deaths – their unfortunate decisions to resist arrest did.
 
That was the crime that brought mayhem in its wake and it’s the crime no one mentioned.


 

 

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Posted in: General, Issues
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15
Democrats in Washington are squabbling about torture, a $1.1 trillion budget bill and regulations on Wall Street and big banks. Democrats in North Carolina are squabbling about – I kid you not – Charles Brantley Aycock.
 
Specifically, the squabble is in part over whether the wife of a descendant of North Carolina’s governor from 1901 to 1905 should be state Democratic Party chairman in 2015.
 
Aycock was both a racist and a pro-education (for whites) governor. For years, the state party had an annual Vance-Aycock weekend in Asheville, since renamed the Western Gala because of Aycock’s racial policies. One of his modern-day descendants apparently opposed the name change, feeling that the good Aycock did should outweigh the bad. For this heresy, some Democrats believe that said descendant’s wife, Patsy Keever, should not be party chair.
 
As a long-time Democratic activist asked this weekend, “If my great-grandfather was a horse thief, do I have to leave the party?”
 
This would be of great concern. If it mattered. But, in today’s world of creative campaign financing and myriad political committees, the state party doesn’t matter.
 
In fact, this squabble is a good thing. It gives the people who fight about things like this something meaningless to tear each other apart over. Which frees up everybody else to get about the work of winning elections in 2014.
 
Next up: Given their records on slavery, do we rename Jefferson-Jackson Day? This should keep the Goodwin House busy through November 2016.

 

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15
A little known prairie lawyer got up and gave a speech at the Democratic Convention in 1896 and the next day was nominated for President.
 
Last weekend, a conservative posted a link to this speech on Twitter with a one word comment: Wow.
 
It’s Elizabeth Warren’s talking about Citigroup and it’s as close to William Jennings Bryan talking about a ‘Cross of Gold’ as anyone’s heard in a long time.  

 

 

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12
The months right after an election are, as James Carville once said, “when you stop screwing your enemies and start screwing your friends.”
 
That’s true of winners and losers. The winners fight over the best jobs and nicest offices. The losers fight over who’s to blame. And they jockey for positions in the next campaign.
 
It’s the nature of people in politics – candidates, consultants and staffers alike. They spent the last year ripping apart people in the other party. After the election they keep doing the same thing, just to somebody else.
 
It can be one of the most disheartening and discouraging things about politics. But there’s an upside. If you watch closely, you’ll spot who is sincerely examining what went right and what went wrong and figuring out how to do better next time – and who is trying to climb to the top over somebody else’s dead body.
 
Then it’s simple: You hire the former and avoid the latter like the plague.

 

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11
I dropped in on a wise old Democrat who has been through the political wars, winning more than he lost. I found him undaunted by 2014 and fired up for 2016.
 
He chided me for chiding Senator Hagan for chiding President Obama over the November results: “You were too tough on her. The President should be talking up the economy. We all should be talking up the economy. A lot of good things are happening, and we need to stand up and tell people.”
 
Yes, he said, it was a tough year for Democrats. “But we did a hell of a lot better than any other state.” If the same candidates had run the same campaigns in 2016, he said, “We would have won three or four state Senate seats and even more state House seats.”
 
He’s optimistic about the races for President, US Senate, Governor and the legislature in 2016. He knows how easily Republicans can overreach and wear out their welcome. He believes Democrats will field strong candidates and run strong campaigns.
 
Most of all, he had a clear message for Democrats who are tempted to mope and mourn: “I want to see some fire in your eyes.”

 

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10
Ben Bradlee of the Washington Post used to say: “I come in every day with an empty bucket, and somebody fills it up.” Some days I come in with an empty blog, but TAPsters (readers, commentators and contributors) fill it up. Here’s a guest blog that’s timely in light of Senator-elect Andy Wells’ letter to the N&O today. The writer is no government bureaucrat; he’s a long-time warrior in the corporate world who recruited companies to North Carolina:
 
“North Carolina continues to wander aimlessly in its efforts to recruit new business to the state.
 
“Sadly, the biggest economic prize so far was won by the new CEO of the state’s shiny new economic development organization. He’s coming from Missouri, makes a cool $225k annually and will need a map to find his way from Raleigh to Garner.
 
“C’mon people, was not a single person in North Carolina qualified for this job? 
 
“Actually, it doesn’t matter if the new CEO is from Missouri or Middlesex. As long as Republicans oppose big-time incentives to recruit big-time manufacturers, we can forget an auto manufacturer or other big employer.
 
“The mind-numbing hypocrisy and brain-dead philosophical confusion of our state’s leaders was never more evident than in the final hours of the forgettable legislative session. Legislators killed incentive payments because they don't believe in giving tax dollars to private businesses. Then, within hours, those same people voted overwhelmingly, enthusiastically and without shame to give $12 million of the state’s money to a privately owned paper mill in the mountains that threatened to close if help to pay for pollution controls wasn't forthcoming.
 
“Good luck.”

 

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Carter & Gary
 
Carter Wrenn
 
 
Gary Pearce
 
 
The Charlotte Observer says: “Carter Wrenn and Gary Pearce don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues. But they both love North Carolina and know its politics inside and out.”
 
Carter is a Republican. 
Gary is a Democrat.
 
They met in 1984, during the epic U.S. Senate battle between Jesse Helms and Jim Hunt. Carter worked for Helms and Gary, for Hunt.
 
Years later, they became friends. They even worked together on some nonpolitical clients.
 
They enjoy talking about politics. So they started this blog in 2005. 
 
They’re still talking. And they invite you to join the conversation.
 
 
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