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11
Once when Democratic County Commissioner Betty Lou Ward was in the hospital she asked the Republican Commissioners to allow her to participate in a board meeting by phone – but the Republicans said no.
 
Another time, in the middle of a fight, the Republicans waited until Ward left the board room to go to the restroom then promptly held a vote.
 
All that orneriness didn’t sit well with a lot of folks and, last fall, every one of the Republicans were voted out of office and we ended up with seven Democratic County Commissioners.
 
Now Wake County is blessed: We have a solid economy and a growing population and both are bringing more money into the county’s exchequer each year but, as soon as they got sworn in, the new Democratic Commissioners proved there are more vices than orneriness: They announced it was time to raise taxes.
 
Those old Republican Commissioners were no saints but the new Democrats are making them look better every day.


 

 

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11
Sunday morning, Joe Neff’s story ran on Page 1A of the N&O. Tuesday at 2 pm, Dana Cope held a 90-second news conference (no questions, please) to resign.
 
As WRAL’s Laura Leslie said on Facebook, “Well, that was quick.”
 
Maybe Cope decided his legal problems dwarf his political problems. Or maybe it would be tough to explain a $57 eyebrow wax at European Wax Center to a guy driving a dump truck at DOT.
 
For many Democrats, Cope’s downfall and Randy Voller’s departure as Democratic Party chair are signs of spring. Both organizations can now push the reset button.
 
With Patsy Keever as chair, there is hope that the party can actually become a functioning political entity.
 
SEANC has no Patsy Keever in sight, and it’s hard to have confidence in a board that stuck with Cope as late as Monday, but at least there is a chance to make SEANC an effective force, rather than just making everybody everywhere mad.
 
In other states, state employees’ associations and unions stand up to government-bashing Republicans. Cope’s strategy seemed to be to bash Democrats when they were in power and bash Republicans when they are in power.
 
It was a hard strategy to understand. Now we get it: It was all about Dana Cope. Eyebrows and all.

 

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10
Before the sun set, the day the legislature returned to town, the Bull Mooses in the Senate had locked horns with Pat McCrory.
 
The Bull Mooses are a gregarious lot but they’re dangerous when crossed and, somewhere along the way, they decided there was a hole in the Governor’s boat when it came to fixing tough problems like cleaning up coal ash ponds or Medicaid.
 
So along with the House they passed a bill that took the coal ash cleanup right out from under the Governor and gave it to an Independent Commission – that the legislators appointed.
 
Of course, none of that sat well with the Governor but he’s cut from a different bolt of cloth from the Bull Mooses: He’s affable and easy-going and would rather avoid a fight than start one but, still, he couldn’t take getting shoved aside lying down – so he sued. It was time, he told a special three judge court, to put the Bull Mooses in their place. By telling them they had violated the Constitution.   
 
That sounded reasonable but it turns out there’s a hole in the Governor’s boat this time, too: Because the folks he wants the judges ‘to put in their place’ also vote to set the courts’ budget and the judges’ salaries.
 
If Pat McCrory’s going to whip the Bull Mooses he may need a bigger hammer.


 

 

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09
She plighted her troth not in church and not as a bride or in marriage but in town hall meetings and political forums and rallies, saying she was a fire-breathing Tea Party conservative in a Congressional District filled with small towns and flannel-shirted farmers and churches full of hymn-singing Baptists.
 
After consummating her victory (with an oath of office) Renee Ellmers settled into Congress – then the wind veered and when she veered with it she left the Tea Partiers back home with raised eyebrows. But there was no tempest. She was reelected and reelected again.
 
Then she surprised not just the Tea Partiers but just about every other Republican in her district by single-handedly stopping a bill that would have prohibited a woman having an abortion after 20 weeks.
 
This time there was a tempest. Harmony vanished. And cries rose of betrayal and infidelity and her first response made the storm worse: She said she’d opposed the bill because it was unpopular with younger voters.
 
When political expediency didn’t sit well she changed directions – in a heartbeat – and gave a different reason: She said she was standing up for rape victims – that the rape exception in the bill was too weak. (The bill said a rape victim had to report the rape to the police in order to have an abortion after twenty weeks.)
 
Her second explanation collapsed like a house of cards when  Linda Devore, the Republican Chairman in one of the biggest counties in her district, asked bluntly,How many rape victims wait until they’re five months pregnant to decide whether to have an abortion or not? It doesn’t compute with people.
 
The third time she not only shifted directions she did a complete about face – and announced she was going to vote for the bill.
 
But she miscalculated again. Fickleness only dug the hole deeper. Her final position made the only voters who still agreed with her – the Pro-Choice voters – mad too.

 

 

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09
Uncovering hypocrisy by politicians is as easy as finding sand at the beach. But the turnabout by Republicans on redistricting reform is noteworthy for its cynicism. Here’s what four key GOP Senators say now and did then.
 
“God bless ’em, I can’t wait to get it over here. It’s dead. It’s not going anywhere.” - Senator Tom Apadaca, who sponsored redistricting reform three times (2007-08 S1122, S1093) (2009-10 S25).
 
“It doesn’t need a new commission, it’s unnecessary….The Supreme Court made it clear how to draw these maps, it eliminates the gerrymandering that they’re talking about.” - Senator Robert Rucho, sponsor of Senate bill 283, Independent Redistricting Commission, 2001.
 
"Some feel like it should, some feel like it shouldn’t. You know, the other side had a chance to do that for what, a hundred and some years, never did and there’s some pressure to do it. Again, I’m not sure where our caucus will be on it, but we’ll have that conversation." - Majority Leader Sen. Harry Brown, who sponsored redistricting reform legislation three times.
 
“I have yet to see a so-called independent redistricting commission that is truly independent. ... I'm still out there looking for that nonpartisan soul that really has no opinion about politics one way or the other that has an informational background in politics. So I believe that (state Supreme Court) decisions provide North Carolina with a set of criteria that removes many of the problems that folks have complained about with reference to redistricting. I don't see an independent redistricting commission or any of the proposals that have been floated as improving on the system that we have now.” - Senate President Pro-Tem Phil Berger, who five times sponsored redistricting reform legislation (2001-02 S283) (2005-06 S430) (2007-08 S1122, S1093) (2009-10 S25).
 
Then there is Governor McCrory, who said last November: "I think the gerrymandered districts where we have no competition in the general elections make all of our jobs difficult." Unless I dozed off during his State of the State speech, he did not mention it Wednesday night.
 
In fairness, some Republicans have not let where they sit change where they stand on reform, like Rep. Skip Stam of Wake County. He still supports it.
 
Also in fairness, Democrats could have passed redistricting reform long before now. They didn’t see the light until they lost the power.
 
There is one difference: Democrats didn’t promise to end gerrymandering. Republicans did. Will they break their promise?
 
If they do, Democrats should make them pay. They should make Republicans the poster boys for corrupt machine politics. Then, when they get back in power (the wheel always turns), Democrats better keep their promise.
 
 
 

 

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06
Robed in black from head to toe, a hood covering his face, with a hostage kneeling at his feet, he lifted a knife and started his litany.  
 
Know, oh Obama, he said, that we will cut off your head in the White House.
 
He wasn’t done.
 
This is my message to France and Belgium… we will come to you with car bombs and explosive charges, and will cut off your heads.
 
He also had a message for the leader of the Kurds.
 
As for you, oh Masoud, you dog, we are going to behead you and throw you into the trash bin of history.
 
And, finally, he said a Japanese journalist he held hostage had less than “24 hours to live” – unless a ransom was paid.
 
It was like watching Genghis Khan on the Internet.
 
And it was like going back to 1939 – we looked across the water and saw plain as day a devil but told ourselves he wasn’t our problem – that we didn’t have to fight, that it was the British and French he was after so it was up to them to defeat him and send him back to the desert places.  
 
But it wasn’t to be.
 
It was us he was after.  


 

 

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Posted in: General, Issues
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06
Senator Tillis, we’d like to discuss your intriguing idea about not requiring restaurant employees to wash their hands before serving our food, but we’re due back on Planet Earth.
 
Besides, who could top Barry Saunders’ skewering in the N&O? Especially this: “Repeated efforts to get a comment from the senator’s office or from Starbucks’ headquarters were unsuccessful: Both apparently wish to – forgive me for this – wash their hands of the whole thing.”
 
But give Tillis credit. He did – forgive me for this – put his finger on the crux of the issue: “That's the sort of mentality we need to have to reduce the regulatory burden on this country.”
 
He’s right. That’s exactly the sort of mentality we would need to have.

 

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05
A TAPster offers this view of the State of the State – and the GOP’s mindset:
 
Governor McCrory’s weepy, exhausting speech for the ages (it sure seemed like it lasted that long) Wednesday night highlights again the philosophical mess entangling today’s modern Republicans.
 
McCrory proposes to address some of the state’s challenges with new cabinet-level departments filled with bureaucrats who spend money, create rules and get in each other’s way.
 
Contrast that approach, meanwhile, to that of our esteemed junior senator who believes government should keep its soiled hands off the soiled hands of restaurant workers, arguing (to well-deserved ridicule) that the marketplace – instead of government – will save us from dysentery.
 
And further contrast that to the thought process of newbie save-the-world legislators. Rather than think through what’s best for North Carolina, they quote the philosophies of free-market apostle Milton Freidman when opposing new regulations designed to protect health and safety.
 
You can’t have it both ways.

 

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05
When your speech goes on for an hour and 20 minutes, you need either a clearer vision or a new speechwriter. Viewers desperately needed some diversion.
 
Twitter to the rescue! Featuring a special guest appearance by Tony Tata, the DOT Secretary who apparently is our answer to Tom Clancy and a monster on Twitter!
 
The only way to watch a political speech, debate or any event today is with Twitter close at hand. You get exaggerated praise from the rah-rah supporters, forced flattery from the brown-noses and a healthy helping of snark from the carping critics.
 
When Governor McCrory said he wanted to make North Carolina a teaching destination, the critics pointed out how many North Carolina teachers are leaving for new destinations, or new lines of work.
 
When he waxed indignant over the condition of fountains in the state government complex, the critics wished he was that upset about the condition of public schools. (One wonders what Tiny Untidy Thom Tillis would say about big government interfering in the free market of dirty water fountains.)
 
My highlight of the night was seeing tweets from Tony Tata being posted during and after the speech. Gadzooks! Was a member of McCrory’s Cabinet actually tweeting during the speech? And not even about the speech, but about the novels Tata has written? This is a big story!
 
I had to go on Twitter myself to spread the news. Within minutes, Tata himself tweeted back at me: “@jgaryp didn't touch my phone during state of state. Publicist runs personal Twitter and schedules tweets. Thx for asking.”
 
He added, “Great speech!” Which just proves he wasn’t listening.
 
Now I need to check out Tata’s books. Is there any hot sex in them?
               
(NOTE: A tip of the TAP cap to the TAPster couple who suggested today’s headline. Their prize is my company over fine food and fine wine for a great cause.)

 

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04
When people ask, “What are we going to do about the North Carolina Democratic Party?” there’s a temptation to say, “Not a damned thing. Let those people fight each other while the rest of us fight the Republicans.”
 
But Thomas Mills, publisher of the estimable blog PoliticsNC, offers a more thoughtful and insightful viewpoint, which I’m happy to shamelessly appropriate here, titled “The NCDP’s Jonestown moment”:
 
In his column this weekend, the News & Observer’s Ned Barnett wrote, “The Democrats have been vanquished, undone by their disorganization and lack of conviction and gerrymandered into irrelevance.” The backdrop to that statement is a race for chair of the Democratic Party that’s just disheartening. The race is not to lead the state’s Democrats. The race is to elect someone who can make the party relevant again.
 
The past two chairs, Randy Voller and David Parker, have run the party into the ground, making it a laughingstock and leaving it deeply in debt. They alienated “the electeds,” as they call them, and lost the trust and confidence of the big donors, the national party, and the campaign professionals. Instead, they surround themselves with people who don’t understand that without the support of the elected officials who run on the Democratic ticket, the state party has no power or influence at all.
 
There are a number of candidates running for chair, but former State Representative Patsy Keever is the only candidate with the experience, connections, and clout to turn the party around–and it won’t be an easy task for her. However, unlike either of the past two chairs or the people surrounding them, she knows what real campaigns look like and she has raised real money. She’s also served in the General Assembly, was party chair of Buncombe County and serves as first vice-chair of the state party.
 
Given her background and experience, Keever should be a shoo-in, but with the dysfunctional state of the party, she’s being attacked by conspiracy theorists and the left’s version of the Tea Party. They’re more interested in controlling the mechanics of the party than making it relevant to the political landscape. They don’t understand that the people who organize, run, and fund campaigns have already set up their own networks to work around the state party if necessary. The party was marginalized in 2014 and will have even less of a role in 2016 if the voting members don’t install competent leadership.
 
This is the North Carolina Democratic Party’s Jonestown moment. On Saturday, the state executive committee can continue on the road to oblivion or they can take steps to re-emerge from the wilderness and re-enter the political fray. Don’t drink the Kool-aid.

 

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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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