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North Carolina - Republicans

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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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
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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12
Reverend William Barber went down to the newspaper and sat down with Ned Barnett to have a chat about the state’s soul.
 
Now the main problem with the state spiritually, according to Reverend Barber, is Republicans. He’s thundered from podiums from Asheville to Wilmington that Republicans are heartless varmints who stomp on women, children, and the blind, halt and lame.
 
You could search for years and not find a more remorseless demagogue – or partisan Democrat – than William Barber.
 
But that’s not how Ned Barnett saw it at all: The Reverend, he explained in his editorial, built his ‘Moral Mondays’ movement on morality, not politics. That as Barber himself says, Moral Mondays isn’t about left and right, it’s about right and wrong.
 
Pure baloney.


 

 

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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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