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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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03
Bush’s steady and Hilary’s experienced and it all looks familiar but deep within the earth hidden rivers are flowing that may turn the Presidential race upside down.
 
No one had seen a caliph or caliphate for a millennium. Then, suddenly, in Yemen, Nigeria, North Africa, Syria and Iraq we have caliphates – and women sold as slaves, towns razed and hostages beheaded (or burned).
 
We have terrorist attacks from Australia to Paris and, in Saudi Arabia, an ‘enlightened’ country, the government has ordered a man publicly flogged, given 1000 lashes in front of a mosque for blasphemy.
                                                                                   
A year more of this and we may not be looking for a President whose steady or reliable – we may be looking for a warrior to whip the Huns. And someone who looks hard-edged, abrasive and unbending today, like Ted Cruz, may fit the bill.


 

 

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03
One number jumps out of Public Policy Polling’s latest survey of the 2016 Governor’s race: 48. That’s the percentage of Independents who disapprove of Governor McCrory’s job performance. Only 32 percent approve.
 
McCrory leads Roy Cooper among all voters by 44-39. But that includes a 43-28 McCrory lead among Independents. That’s not going to hold in the face of 48 percent disapproval. Those Independents are ready for a reason to vote against McCrory.
 
Assume that Cooper makes it an even race among Independents, instead of a 15-point gap. If Independents are a quarter of the voters, Cooper picks up four points overall. The race is a tie.
 
Then, say Cooper drives up McCrory’s negatives among Independents to 54 percent, which is where former Senator Hagan’s negatives are today. That’s potentially another three points overall.
 
If this were the Super Bowl, you’d say McCrory has big holes in his defensive line, Cooper has a lot of running room and the game will come down to a few yards and the final seconds.

 

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02
One score and four years after Bubba beat Poppy, another presidential election could be a showdown between the Republican First Family and Democratic First Family.
 
We shouldn’t be surprised. It’s the money, stupid.
 
Since the 1970s (or earlier), George H.W. Bush has built a vast network of fundraisers and donors. He did it the old-fashioned way, with good manners: handwritten notes, personal calls, Christmas cards and invitations to Kennebunkport and the White House. That network cleared the way for W. in 2000, and it’s doing the job for Jeb today. The only problem is that there are two other power centers today: Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News/Wall Street Journal network and the Koch Brothers’ money.
 
Similarly, since the 1970s (or earlier), Bill and Hillary have built a vast network of fundraisers and donors. They did it with idealism, ideology and access. There is nothing else like it in the Democratic Party. But the Clinton network is top-heavy with whip-smart people who are long-time campaign activists, all of whom have their own ideas about how to run a campaign and are willing to eviscerate any and all internal rivals. (See: Clinton Campaign, 2008.)
 
This time, Jeb and Hillary will carry the best and the worst of their legacies. Jeb’s slogan: “Just like my Dad – and a lot smarter than W!” Hillary’s: “Just like Bill – and without the bimbos or interns!”
 
Both will play off the President who interrupted the combined dynasties’ potential 32-year run in the White House. Explicitly or implicitly, both will say, “A lot better prepared than Obama – and I’ll LIKE the job.”
 
Now that Mitt Romney has seen what was obvious to everybody else, Jeb is the Republican frontrunner. He has all but sewn up the Moneyed Establishment wing of the party. But he’ll have to fend off challengers who emerge from the various Republican tribes, like the Tea Party, the Libertarians and the Religious Right.
 
Hillary is even more of a frontrunner than Jeb. Probably only two people can stop her nomination: Bill and Hillary. She also will have to handle the populist, anti-big bank, anti-Wall Street, anti-big business impulse that sets Democratic hearts aflutter.
 
Much will happen in the one score and one months ahead. But, one way or another, America could well have a Restoration in two years.

 

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31
EMS medics found Larry Green lying face down by the road with a head wound and no vital signs – he’d been hit by a car.
 
But, then, when a state Medical Examiner, Dr. J.B. Perdue, arrived and opened Green’s jacket his chest and abdomen moved. A medic asked if Green was breathing. The medical examiner explained “That’s only air escaping the body” and had the corpse zipped in a body bag and taken to the morgue.
 
At the morgue the dead man’s eyelid started to twitch, twitching over and over, until a worker asked if he was alive and the medical examiner explained it was a muscle spasm “like a frog leg jumping in a frying pan.”
 
Later that night a highway patrolman called, needing more information, and the medical examiner took the cold body out of the morgue’s refrigerated drawer. This time there was no denying the dead man was alive.
 
The next time government promises it’s going to work to solve one of your problems, remember, you may be better off going to work to solve the problem yourself – after all, government hired a medical examiner who sent a living breathing man to the morgue.


 

 

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30
Lord, deliver us – the Supreme Court is about to tell us who can and can’t marry.
 
Marriage as an institution twists and turns back into the mists of time but will a judge even ask how – and why – it began? Are roots of marriage biological? Anthropological? Or theological? Is marriage a holy institution formed by God and nurtured by angels and prophets? Or was it created by a government long ago, by a Pharaoh or Hammurabi?  
 
Christians – or, at least, most of them – agree Holy Matrimony’s roots start in the soil of a sacrament; that a marriage isn’t created by a $20 government license but by a vow sworn in a church alongside a sacrament with the power to make a man and wife “one flesh.” And they’d also argue, hopefully politely, that while Sam and Dave or Judy and Jill can do a lot of things, they can’t do that.
 
But, of course, courts have their own way of looking at things. A judge may think angels and sacraments joining souls don’t matter much beside Sam and Dave having the same right to a marriage license as Jack and Jill. But, in a way, instead of illumination it simply compounds a tragedy when judges see more virtue in Sam and Dave’s temporal rights (like filing a joint tax return) than they see in sacraments and vows sworn in churches.  


 

 

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30
Not long ago, I blogged that Democrats in the legislature should help Governor McCrory expand Medicaid (“Pass McCroryCare”). With Democratic votes and some Republicans, McCrory could overcome opposition from the legislative leadership.
 
But a Raleigh group called the Carolina Partnership for Reform, which says it “was formed to advocate for a freedom-based agenda in North Carolina,” sees a nefarious plot afoot.
 
Nobody’s name is listed on the group’s website, so we can’t credit any individual for unmasking my hidden agenda. Here follows, in full, their post, “Pearce’s Democrat Revival Plan”:
 
 
We recently pointed readers to Democrat strategist Gary Pearce’s Pass McCroryCare column urging Democrats to lobby the Obama Administration to grant the waivers Governor McCrory might ask for in order to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare.
 
Pearce said McCrory could help himself in 2016 by splitting with the conservative majority in the Legislature and working with Democrats to give free health insurance to able bodied people. Right now, Medicaid primarily covers poor children, their moms, the elderly and the disabled, not working age adults who don’t work.
 
But now we can see the ulterior motive behind Gary Pearce’s suggestion. And the upshot is Medicaid expansion will be a loser for Governor McCrory according to a new survey of people who voted in November.
 
The Foundation for Government Accountability surveyed 500 people who voted last year. Here is the question.
 
North Carolina’s legislature and governor are deciding whether or not to expand North Carolina’s Medicaid health insurance program to give taxpayer-funded Medicaid benefits to 500,000 mostly working-age adults who have no kids and no disability. Do you support or oppose expanding Medicaid in North Carolina to these adults?
 
Support – 47.13%
 
Oppose – 36.63%
 
Undecided – 16.24%
 
At first blush, Medicaid expansion is a winning issue. But among voters who approve of the Governor, it’s a big drag. Among strongly approving McCrory people, 59% oppose Medicaid expansion and 40% are against Medicaid expansion among somewhat approving McCrory voters.
 
In short, expanding Medicaid splits McCrory’s own voters. And that gives clever Democrats like Pearce a chance to funnel cash to the Libertarian candidate and siphon fiscal conservatives away from McCrory. Perhaps enough of them to throw the election to Democrats
 
In fact, 54% of all voters are less likely to support McCrory if he backs ” ObamaCare Medicaid expansion ” and 82% of Republican voters are less likely to vote for a legislator supporting it and 67% oppose it if it could result in education cuts.
 
Remembering the Greeks at the gates of Troy, beware Gary Pearce bringing advice.

 

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29
A young chaplain at Duke Chapel announced it was time for the University to transform its gothic cathedral into an enlightened multicultural center with Muslims chanting  azans from the bell tower while Methodists prayed in the sanctuary below – and without knowing it she crossed an invisible line.
 
Word spread and praying to two different gods in one church left a lot of folks scratching their heads: Were the multiculturalists at the chapel worshiping one God or two? And if one, which one? And if it was the God of Abraham why would a Christian chaplain encourage someone to pray to a God she didn’t believe existed?
           
The chaplain, I guess, might have said, I did it out of simple courtesy – but, courtesy notwithstanding, wouldn’t it still be like encouraging prayers to a false god?
 
Finally the older heads at the University  stepped in to still the controversy: There had been, they said, a “serious security threat” so there would be no Muslim prayers in the bell tower.
 
It was a dodge that would make a politician proud.

 

 

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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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