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02
A loyal TAPster outraged by Thom (No Clean Hands) Tillis contributes today’s blog:
 
Just when we thought it couldn’t get any colder last week, Senator Thom Tillis embarrassed North Carolina again, voting against Loretta Lynch’s nomination as US attorney general.
 
Lynch is the daughter of a Baptist minister from Greensboro who opened his church to protesters during the lunch-counter sit-ins of the 60s.  She attended Harvard University and Harvard Law School.  (Note to Thom:  That is THE Harvard University in Cambridge, not the online, for-profit version.) She has served as the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.  She is known as a tough prosecutor of honest-to-God terrorists.
 
To that, all Tillis could muster was, “She was raised right.” Then he declared that the decision to vote against her in the Senate Judiciary Committee, “was the most difficult I’ve had to make in my 45 days on this job.”
 
Only 45 days?  It seems like an eternity already.
 
This “no” vote comes in the same Judiciary Committee meeting where three of the Senate’s most outspoken and curmudgeonly Republican senators--Orrin Hatch, Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake-- voted for her confirmation. Yes, even Graham, our Confederate flag-waving neighbor to the South--South Carolina that is-- saw his way to a yea vote, because, he said, she is qualified for the job.
 
Could it be that Tillis was stung by her unapologetic support for the Justice Department’s lawsuit against North Carolina to overturn its draconian voter ID law—a law Tillis himself championed?
 
When civility and decorum take a backseat to pure meanness and race baiting, it is a cold, dark day in North Carolina. The condescension breaks in icy waves like the slush on Nantucket’s beaches.
 
As Reverend Barber put it, “To see other southern Republican senators put aside the politics of extremism and support attorney Lynch’s nomination and then watch Thom Tillis refuse is a tragic misrepresentation of the values of North Carolina and the call of history.  Shameful,” he said.
 
Shameful indeed.  And, shame on you, too, Richard Burr.

 

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27
Once upon a time, in the Shire of Raleigh, there was a company called Progress Energy, nee CP&L. The residents of the Shire oft complained about the company, but with affection. After all, its employees and managers and overlords and even its King lived amongst the people and even walked amongst them. The people knew that, when hurricane winds blew and wintry mixes fell, when lights blipped and power failed, and when their homes fell cold and dark, their friends at the company were hard at work getting things back in order. After all, their own families suffered with the people.
 
Then, one day, the Evil Empire of Duke invaded the Shire, seized control of Progress, beheaded the King, banished his court and moved the castle to the faraway Emerald City.
 
So when winter’s winds howled again and when ice and snow felled trees and snapped power lines, the people of the Shire wondered: Will the Empire come to our aid? Will the Emerald City care about our lowly Shire? Will the Queen even know of our plight?
 
For hours, thousands upon thousands of them shivered and shook in the cold and dark. They huddled together before fires. They trudged long distances to seek food and ale in nearby taverns. They looked for a hopeful word or a sign that they weren’t forgotten.
 
Whereupon one member of the Queen’s court decided to play a little joke on the people of the Shire. This courtier thought it amusing to tease the Shire with a picture of a warm and sunny waterfront in one of the Duke Empire’s far-flung colonies: St. Petersburg, Florida. The message to the Shire read: “To the snowy Carolinas: A picture from our St. Petersburg, FL office to warm you. Stay safe.”
 
To which the people of the Shire said, “Off with their heads.”

 

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Posted in: General, Raleigh
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26
A snow-day deep-dive into current political commentary finds three things. One, Republicans are becoming more and more deranged. Two, Democrats are falling deeper and deeper into despair. And, three, it’s all about President Obama.
 
Politics has come unhinged since Election Day 2008 and the election of a black President. It just gets worse as time goes on and he stays in the White House.
 
Look at the Republicans lately. Rudy Giuliani says Obama doesn’t love him or America, which Giuliani apparently considers one and the same thing. Scott Walker isn’t sure Obama is a Christian. Bobby Jindal doesn’t think the President who ordered the raid on Osama bin Laden, drone attacks on al Qaeda and a war on ISIS is protecting us. John Boehner and Mitch McConnell want to shut down Homeland Security because they’re mad at Obama about immigration.
 
Democrats can’t or won’t see that all their problems are simply part of the reaction to Obama. Witness the DNC task force that bemoaned the 2014 election results. Its solution is this gobbledygook from Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear: “We need a cohesive, values-based narrative that quickly and succinctly defines our beliefs and helps voters identify with who we are and how we best represent them.”
 
Get a grip.
 
Democrats ought to be proud. They did something historic, remarkable and praise-worthy. After centuries of slavery and decades of discrimination, they elected the first African-American President. He and Democrats then saved us from a depression, saved the banks, saved the auto industry, gave millions of Americans affordable health care, attacked climate change, knocked down walls of discrimination, reduced the federal deficit, drew down two wars, killed the world’s number-one terrorist and got America back on track after eight years of war, waste and mismanagement.
 
Naturally, there has been a reaction. There always is. American history is two steps forward, one step back.
 
This too shall pass. Obama will be gone in two years. Then we’ll get back to more familiar turf, back to doing what we’ve done for nearly 30 years: hating the Bushes or hating the Clintons. 

 

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25
The fur’s flying over in Chapel Hill – Dean Boger (at the Law School) along with a cohort of professors have lit into the Board of Governors saying closing the Law School’s Anti-Poverty Center leaves them with only one conclusion: The Board is for poverty.
 
The Dean lamented the Board was guilty of every sin from betraying Dean Smith’s ‘Carolina Way’ to leading the University off the road to “light and truth” into the darkness – then blasted the Board for playing politics, saying it was shuttering the Center to silence law school professor Gene Nichols, who’s been blaming Republicans for poverty.
 
Listening you’d think the Anti-Poverty Center was founded by Mother Theresa – instead of John Edwards.
 
In fact the Center was never a step down the road to “light and truth” – it was a political farce Edwards created (and the Law School embraced) to serve as the launching pad for Edwards’s 2008 Presidential campaign. Dean Boger, the Law School’s Wade Edwards Distinguished Professor – a chair established by John Edwards to honor his late son – has long given it his blessing. And now he’s accusing the Board of playing politics.


 

 

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25
Something was missing from the usual snow day TV fare. Bill and Renee ran down the shutdowns. Elizabeth and Greg kept predicting the snow would end any minute. Gilbert was giddy. Various teams showed us various roads. But…something just wasn’t there.
 
Oh yes! The Governor’s snow briefing! Where was Governor McCrory warning us not to put on our stupid hats? Where were the beefy, serious guys in uniforms standing behind him? Where, oh where, was DOT Secretary Tony Tata on a day when more than a thousand accidents were reported on the state’s roads?
 
WRAL tracked him down: “Tata traveled to Chicago Monday night and Tuesday to promote his new novel, ‘Foreign and Domestic,’ one of a number of titles the retired brigadier general has authored about fictional elite soldiers fighting threats overseas.”
 
We’ve twitted Tata before about thriller-novel-tweeting during snow emergencies and the State of the State. He good-naturedly assured us those tweets were from his publicist and he was full-time on the job.
 
But that was the real Tata on TV Tuesday, live from Chicago. (Note: You can do live links with CNN and Fox from Raleigh.)
 
His DOT spokesman made a heroic effort to make a molehill out of an ice mountain, assuring us that Tata had been on the phone back to Raleigh all day.
 
We must ask: With Tata reputedly being a master of logistics, would DOT trucks have been deployed earlier in the battle against snow and ice if he had been in command on the scene?
 
Governor McCrory’s office “did not immediately respond to a request for comment.” Which raises another question: Where was the Governor? He was last spotted in this odd clip with other Republican governors in Washington. The Governor appears to be blowing smoke rings in the cold. Or maybe hyperventilating as Bobby Jindal holds forth.
 
Democratic bloggers already are pouncing. Will the mainstream media pursue the issue?
 
No doubt the administration will profess nonchalance. But here’s betting that McCrory and Tata will be all over TV if there’s a repeat tomorrow.

 

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24

 A TAPster reminded me of a snow day blog I did once in memory of my father. It's apropos today.

My dad, Jim, was a printer and, at one time, foreman of the N&O composing room. In those hot-type days, printers used house ads to fill in columns of type. The ads would tell you to subscribe to the paper, buy classified ads, read the comics, etc.

On snowy days, Jim would make up a series of ads in all sizes and shapes reading, simply: "Feed the Birds!" He reminded readers that snow keeps birds from their usual fare. They need what you might call a handout.

So feed the birds!

 

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20
We’re in the Great Mentioner season of the political cycle, when the names of potential 2016 candidates start floating through the rumor mills, media and blogosphere.
 
And nothing talks like money.
 
An enterprising TAPster looked at the year-end cash-on-hand numbers for potential statewide candidates and Council of State incumbents.
 
Not surprisingly, at the top of the list were Governor McCrory, with $1.6 million, and his presumptive opponent, AG Roy Cooper ($1.5 million).
 
Next were Senator Josh Stein ($798,634), who will run for AG, and Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin ($304,776). Those are healthy numbers. Any challenger to Stein or Goodwin better pack a lunch.
 
Then come Treasurer Janet Cowell, a potential U.S. Senate candidate ($80,282), and Lt. Governor Dan Forest, who is sure to face a tough challenge (only $29,395). Followed by Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry ($16,157), Auditor Beth Wood ($14,698), Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson ($9,448), Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler ($8,200) and Secretary of State Elaine Marshall ($4,399).
 
The TAPster noted, “Given that June (Atkinson) hasn't raised any funds for Superintendent at all since 2012, might there be an opening on the Council of State other than Attorney General? Word around the Legislative Building is that Rep. Tricia Cotham is interested in the race.”
 
Further, “And what about all the national mentions of Janet Cowell potentially running for U.S. Senate, in tandem with her lower cash-on-hand numbers for her state campaign account? Some have said that she'll decide her plans for 2016 after the legislative session concludes.”
 
(Why wait? $100 million was spent in last year’s Senate race.)
 
Low cash-on-hand doesn’t tell us everything. But it does start the who-will-run-for-what buzz.

 

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19
I was barely eighteen when, my first night in Chapel Hill, they herded all the male freshmen into an auditorium and an aging Dean stepped up to a podium, perched his half-glasses on the end of his nose, and explained genteelly from here on – for the next four years – we were expected to behave as ‘Carolina Gentleman.’
 
What he meant wasn’t exactly clear but, a week later, at my first football game, I learned one concrete fact: A number of students could get dead drunk and pass out in the parking lot at Kenan Stadium without tarnishing their reputations as Carolina Gentlemen.  
 
Fast forward four decades and scandals about phony classes for athletes which errant administrators compounded with cover-ups had depleted the ranks of Carolina Gentleman to a glimmer – when the smoke cleared Carolina had a new chancellor, a towering stack of legal bills, and a million dollar P.R. firm trying to rescue its image.
 
Then, just when it seemed the ship might right itself, lighting struck out of a clear blue sky and a second scandal landed in the newspaper: Medicare claimed UNC Hospital had chiseled it out of $2.5 million.  
 
This time there wasn’t a Carolina Gentleman anywhere in sight.


 

 

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Posted in: General, Issues
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19
Yesterday we talked about Senator Jeff Jackson’s tweets. Today’s Twitter topic is Tony Tata.
 
Specifically, his two Twitter identities: DOT Secretary Tata and Thriller-Novelist Tata.
 
This week, Thriller Tata posted tweets touting his books while DOT Tata backed up Governor McCrory at snow-emergency briefings. Earlier this month, Thriller Tata tweeted while DOT Tata was at the Governor’s State of the State address.
 
Tata assured us he’s not short-changing taxpayers: “@jgaryp didn't touch my phone during state of state. Publicist runs personal Twitter and schedules tweets. Thx for asking.” His personal Twitter is @ajtata, and it’s separate from his DOT tweets. 
 
Still, there’s something disconcerting about two Tonys. Maybe it’s the publicist putting out his tweets. Maybe it’s a nagging fear he’s thinking about a plot twist instead of ice on I-40. Maybe it’s Twitter envy. (“Darn it, why don’t I have two Twitter handles?”)
 
But here’s wishing both Tatas well. Writers should sell as many books and make as much money as possible.
 
Just don’t tweet while driving, Tony.

 

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18
When the State Ethics Commission ruled that a lobbyist having sex with a legislator didn’t violate the ban on gifts to legislators because sex acts do not constitute “things of value,” it got the attention of the redoubtable Ira David Wood, who’s surely NC’s most respected artist.
 
Woods posted the entire newspaper article on Facebook then wrote beside it: Happy Valentine’s Day, NC! (Just take me now, Lord.)
 
Beneath his comment one of his friends added: This ruling is perfectly consistent as there are obviously no ethics rules prohibiting a politician from screwing his constituents.
 
Who says art has no practical purpose?


 

 

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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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