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22
If there’s a lonesome pilgrim out there hoping the recent Supreme Court decision will restore honor and fairness to redistricting… well, the Wizards have him surrounded.
 
When Republicans dreams came true and, at long last, they got to draw their own districts, they set out to find a special kind of Wizard.
 
Next the Wizards went to work carefully studying the Voting Rights Act and years of court rulings – then announced they’d reached a rock-solid conclusion: The law, the Republican Wizards said, required legislators to draw as many districts as possible where 50% of the voters were African Americans.
 
Not 40% or 60% -- but 50%.
 
And that’s what the Wizards did.
 
And, up in Washington, the wise-men in Obama’s Justice Department blessed their work, saying, Amen – the Wizards had dotted their i’s and crossed their t’s and complied with the Voting Rights Act.
 
And their plan worked out just fine: More Republicans were elected. More African Americans were elected. And more Democrats lost.
 
Meantime, over on the other side of the isle, the Democrats were hiring their own set of Wizards who sat down, looked at each district and applied different mathematics completely – they asked, How many African Americans do we need to add to this district to elect a Democrat?
 
The answers the Democratic Wizards got varied from district to district – it could be 30% in one district and 34% in another and 40% in still another – but, for Democrats, that math worked out just fine too: More Republicans would lose. More Democrats would win. But not necessarily more African Americans.
 
The Democrats then took the next step and sued – to replace Republican wizardry with Democratic wizardry.
 
And, now, an odd thing is going to happen: The courts are going to decide which type of wizardry best serves the ends of justice.


 

 

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21
A TAPster more knowledgeable than me offers a word of praise for one thing the legislature is doing:
 
The legislature this week will continue its napalm assault on long-standing policies and practices in the civil war to create a conservative nirvana in North Carolina. And, while most Republican efforts have hurt the poor, the sick and the feeble, raised tax payments and irritated Democrats, one target actually is getting what it deserves.
 
The so-called Map Act needs to be fixed. DOT obviously must retain its ability to buy rights of way and build roads. But DOT has abused its authority when, in essence, it condemns private property by proposing a highway through it, and then takes years or decades to actually obtain the property and compensate the property owner. This isn’t a partisan issue, because property owners of all political flavors are being screwed.
 
It’s a surprisingly good week on Jones Street when the honorables take a break from carpet-bombing history and tradition to work on something worthwhile.

 

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20
It happens just about every day: You open the newspaper, read about a politician, and shake your head thinking, That’s just plain crazy.
 
Not long ago the Senate proposed that, prior to Congress approving an agreement with Iran, the President should certify Iran is not supporting “terrorist attacks against Americans.”
 
Oddly that didn’t sit too well with White House Press spokesman Josh Earnest – who shot back it was a bad idea because the provision would make “the agreement contingent upon Iran renouncing terrorism.”
 
Yes, it would.
 
But do we really want an agreement that allows Iran to build a nuclear bomb – if it doesn’t renounce terrorism?


 

 

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16
Supporters of gay marriage figure it’s time to change two things: First, to change the legal definition of marriage to allow a man to marry another man.
 
The other change is even knottier: Discriminating against a man (or woman) because of race is illegal; gay rights supporters want to make it equally illegal to discriminate against a man because of his sexual orientation. Which, in a way, sounds reasonable. But, in another way, is the legal equivalent of giving government a knife to hold to the throats of people who disagree with gay marriage.
 
Under the current law, even if the state of Indiana changes the definition of marriage, Ms. Crystal O’Connor of Memories Pizza can say no to catering a gay wedding. It’s her choice. It’s not discrimination.
 
But if gays become a protected minority that changes. And not catering a gay wedding becomes illegal. And Ms. O’Connor lands in the soup.
 
Twenty-five years ago two Native American drug rehabilitation counselors who worked for the government got fired for smoking peyote. That sounded logical. But the Indians argued peyote smoking was part of their religion so firing them violated their freedom of religion. That sounded a bit odd. But Congress agreed. And New York Senator Charlie Schumer passed a law saying firing the Indians was wrong.
 
Liberals also like to say government has no business telling people what they can or can’t do in the privacy of their bedroom – but what about government walking into Ms. O’Connor’s pizzeria and telling her what to do?
 
Shouldn’t she be allowed to practice her religion – just like an Indian smoking peyote?
 


 

 

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15
The Reverend William Barber stepped back up onto his soapbox and thundered it’s time that Richard Burr and Thom Tillis left the chains of hatred behind and joined the chorus for justice by voting to confirm Loretta Lynch.
 
The Reverend went on to explain how he’s looked into Ms. Lynch’s heart and how he knows her worth and how she will work to cure racism, sexism, classicism (whatever that is) and homophobia.
 
William Barber’s about as fine a demagogue as has come down the pike in years. And there’s no doubt he has an unmatched penchant for draping himself in holiness.
 
But, then, so did Elmer Gantry.


 

 

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14
When the young woman who runs Memories Pizza in a small town in Indiana told a reporter she wouldn’t cater a gay wedding all hell broke loose – a mob formed on the Internet howling she was an ignorant bigot and a Nazi and there were death threats and threats to burn her business.
 
The mob ruled.
 
The pizzeria closed. The woman fled. The politicians in Indiana did an about face.  
 
Then, unexpectedly, a second mob rose up howling back at the first mob. The Internet posts got ugly. And uglier. Then an unusual thing happened: A man in South Bend, Indiana wrote a post asking people to send donations to the young woman.
 
The Religious Freedom Act is dead in Indiana. But thanks to $842,000 in donations Memories Pizza will remain open.


 

 

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13
Pat’s attacking Phil’s tax cut plan, and the Senate’s Sales Tax Plan, and the Senate’s Religious Freedom Act (about gay marriage) was a mixed bag – after all, voters like tax cuts and are split on gay marriage (with almost all the Republicans agreeing with Phil).
 
But next Pat hit the mother lode, attacking Phil for the Senate’s plan to redraw the County Commissioners’ districts in Wake.
 
There aren’t many lines left in politics. But redrawing districts because you lost an election goes too far. If the Senate’s new districts had been in place last fall, while losing the county by 30,000 votes, Republicans would have won 5 of the 9 seats on the County Commission.
 
Independents, Democrats and all but the most hard-bitten Republicans know that kind of politics crosses the line. And, right now, Pat McCrory’s the only Republican standing up and speaking out for them.


 

 

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08
A young woman wearing a black dress, sitting on a stool legs crossed, speaking with a measured British accent, looked into a camera and told how after Issah Al Qurain’s village was captured soldiers came into his home, took his money, then told him to convert or they’d kill his wife and children. 
 
He converted.
 
A fortnight later the soldiers came back and told him under their law – Sharia Law – his ten year old daughter had to marry.  
 
He fled across the Nineveh Plain, talking his way through three road blocks, following back roads, arriving homeless, penniless and outcast in Kurdistan with his wife and children.  
 
The Monastery St. Michael, sitting on a mountainside above the plain (amid towns and villages where Christians trace their roots back to the time of Paul the Apostle) is, itself, 1600 years old and has survived Mongols, Saracens and Ottomans.
 
After ISIS captured Mosul, six miles away, soldiers painted red letters on the homes of Christians – as Nazis painted Stars of David on the homes of Jews – then gave them three choices: Convert, pay a ransom, or beheading .
 
Mosul emptied. The villages emptied. As Christians fled. Leaving behind seven monks in the monastery.
 
In Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan, the young woman, now dressed in a dark shirt and jeans, interviews the Catholic Archbishop, asking, Where are the Christians of the Nineveh Plain today?
 
Looking like a stoic Italian friar instead of an Archbishop born in Baghdad, Basar Wanda says, “Disappearing. It’s dying.
 
The young woman asks about the American airstrikes on ISIS and he explains, “For me, ISIS is a cancer. It’s a disease. So sometimes you take some hard measures, unfortunate measures to treat this cancer.”
 
So you want a major military offensive to retake Mosul, getting rid of the Islamic State, defeating them militarily?
 
He stares back at her with black eyes. “Please God.”
 
A ticking stopwatch replaces the young woman on the screen and the video ends – it was made by 60 Minutes.
 
Four years ago, the night a hundred thousand men filled Tahrir Square in Cairo, when Hosni Mubarak’s government fell, the young woman was sent to cover the demonstration; when her crew turned out the light on her camera to change a battery, in the darkness, a mob of men surrounded her, tore her away from her guards, tore away her clothes – then raped her repeatedly.
 
Twenty-five minutes later the mob shifted driving the men holding her toward a fence on the side of the square where a line of Egyptian women sat – and the women saved her, closing around her, standing in a line between her and the mob.
 
She fled Egypt, returning home, was hospitalized, recovered, then returned to work, covering wars in Libya and Iraq.
 
After her report for 60 Minutes about the lost Christians of the Nineveh Plain, Lara Logan was hospitalized again due to injuries she received in Cairo.


 

 

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03
Roy whacked Pat. Pat then slapped Phil. Phil poked Pat back. And no one laid a glove on Roy.
 
That was last week.
 
This week Roy whacked Pat again. And Pat gabbed Phil three times.
 
Last week Pat said Phil was cutting taxes too much – and this week he said  Phil was ‘raising taxes’ too much. And added Republican State Senators sounded to him a lot like John Edwards talking about ‘class warfare.’
 
Pat also said Phil’s bill saying magistrates don’t have to perform gay marriages – if it doesn’t sit well with their religious beliefs – is wrong-headed. And the Senate’s “Religious Freedom Restoration Bill” (which also relates to gay rights) isn’t needed.
 
And four gay mayors then invited Pat to join their gay rights coalition.
 
It’s been a messy two weeks. But there’s a method in the madness.
 
Roy wants to be Governor so he’s attacking Pat on education.
 
Pat figures Phil is too conservative and attacking Phil will help him defeat Roy.
 
And, well, Phil’s simply for old-fashioned conservative. Who’s for lower taxes and opposes gay-marriage.
 
And that’s the way of things: Take a bit of logic, add politicians, taxes, and gay-marriage – and you end up with a quagmire.  


 

 

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31
Thanks to a TAPster who remembers the 1980s for this one:
 
 
“(North Carolina Congressman) Patrick McHenry is listed as an organizer of a new joint fundraising committee named – drum roll – Whip It Good PAC.  At first I thought it was a joke, but apparently not.”
 
 
For those not familiar with the Devo song and video “Whip It,” enjoy.
 
 
Whip it, Patrick.

 

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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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