Blog Articles
31
2015 will mark the 10th year Carter and I have been doing this blog, as best I can tell from my records. The first posts I could unearth were in late 2005.
 
If memory serves, this was Carter’s idea. He and I worked together with a (non-partisan) client, and we traveled around the state talking to its members. Carter realized that they didn’t want us to talk about their issue so much as they wanted a “behind the curtain” look at how politics really works.
 
Blogging and online communications had just taken off in politics, thanks largely to Howard Dean’s campaign in 2004. As I recall, Carter simply said, “We should do a blog.”
 
So we did, with a lot of technical help. Today, 10 years later, few things make me happier than when someone says, “I read your blog every day.”
 
We never talked about how long we’d keep it up, but 10 years is pretty good. And I’m not about to stop now and give Carter the last word.
 
Why stop, anyway? As long as there are politicians and human folly, we’ll have plenty to talk about.
 
So Happy New Year to the politicians who give us so much folly to write about and, especially, to our readers!

 

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30
Obama may be aloof but he’s also soft-spoken and temperate and if he’s unpopular (due to his failures) beyond his failures he’s a genial man – a traditional liberal who believes government should help people out by providing healthcare and school lunches and so on.
 
But now and then, standing at a podium, the President will speak and for a brief moment a window will open revealing a man who has a vision of America that goes well beyond traditional liberalism.
 
These days it’s unfashionable to be against almost any kind of sex. Enlightenment today requires new levels of tolerance and progress requires not just broadening our views on sex but reforming the related institutions of matrimony, adoption and filing joint tax returns.
 
The other day the President, along with the Attorney General, trod further down the road of sexual progress than anyone else has dared to go – they declared ‘Transgenders’ are an official American Minority under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and that the Justice Department stands ready to deal with anyone who differs.
 
Now with no undue disrespect to the President – or to Transgenders – that was a stretch: Not one soul in Congress back in 1964 ever dreamed he was voting to make Transgenders a minority.
 
So now, it looks like, instead of a soft-spoken traditional liberal we have a President on our hands who has a radical vision of the future – and who’s telling us with a straight face he believes fifty years ago Congress declared Transgenders a minority.


 

 

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29
Gary has a point in his column (below) ‘Pat and Jesse’: Pat McCrory’s fight with the Associated Press isn’t like Jesse’s long-running battles with the media.
 
In Jesse’s eyes, the media was biased. It didn’t like his conservative philosophy. Plus, as Senator John East once said admiringly, Jesse was a brawler. Part of him loved a good fight. But he was also subtle, picking his fights (with the media) on issues most people agreed with him on.
 
Pat McCrory’s a different kind of leader. He’s genial and personable and prefers avoiding a fight to diving into the middle of one.
 
But after he read the Associated Press report saying he hadn’t disclosed $600,000 in salary and stock options he’d received for serving on the Board of Lending Tree (an on-line lending company) he lost his geniality – he came out swinging, ripping into the AP saying itwas lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut.
 
The Governor fired both barrels and when the bell rang ending the First Round the AP returned to its corner on wobbly-knees.
 
But the Governor still had a problem too – he’d picked a fight that left him facing a lose-lose proposition: If the AP was right he was in a fix. And if the AP was wrong it was still going to be hard to convince people Lending Tree had paid him $600,000 for his acumen about mortgage banking.
 
When the bell rang for Round Two as soon as he threw the first punch it was clear the Governor meant to cure that problem – because he didn’t even mention Lending Tree.  Instead he lit into the AP saying there were folks in Raleigh and Washington, D.C. who wanted to attack anyone who came out of the private sector and went into public service but, he added, without his time in the private sector he wouldn’t have been as good a mayor of Charlotte as he was and he wouldn’t be doing as good a job as Governor as he is.
 
The way the Governor said it sounded perfectly reasonable – but, in another way, he’d jumped out of the frying pan into the fire.
 
Because next he may hear Roy Cooper asking: And how exactly did working for an on-line lending company that was fined $3 million for misleading consumers make you a better Governor?


 

 

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29

 

Here’s, as Paul Harvey used to say, ‘The rest of the story’ about Louis Zamperini – from John Drescher’s column Angelina Jolie’s ‘Unbroken’ misses subject’s deep faith.
 


 

 

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29
During Governor McCrory’s attack on the AP, one observer compared it to Jesse Helms’ legendary battles with the media.
 
Now, Carter knew Jesse a lot better than I did. But I see a big difference.
 
Jesse attacked the media because he wanted a political fight. McCrory attacked the media because he doesn’t want an investigation of his financial dealings.
 
Big difference.
 
Helms used the “liberal media” as an ideological foil. It was a way to divide the world into friends and enemies on issues. And it wasn’t personal.
 
McCrory’s AP assault is personal. He has accused the AP and, specifically, reporter Michael Biesecker of maligning him and being out to get him personally.
 
McCrory’s fight has nothing to do with issues or ideology. It’s over ethics and possible impropriety. It’s not a debate over policy toward Cuba. It’s about whether the Governor of North Carolina should take a sweetheart payout from a company that is engaged in sleazy-looking business practices that have attracted the attention of investigators in states across the country.
 
Jesse Helms was no friend of mine, but I fought with Jesse Helms, and I studied him out of necessity. Here, Pat McCrory is no Jesse Helms.

 

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26
An outfit called Verifeed says “social conversations” on Twitter helped Thom Tillis beat Kay Hagan. Put me down as a skeptic.
 
You hear a lot of sweeping claims about how social media is transforming politics. The acolytes can drown you in numbers about “clicks” and “reads” and “open rates.” But is there hard evidence that all this moves votes?
 
If there is, please share it.
 
WRAL’s Mark Binker is another skeptic. He posted the story on Facebook and said, “Posting this mainly because I think it's wrong. For Twitter to be a place where a race is won or lost, wouldn't it need to be a more persuasive medium? My window into the platform is that people are sharing news, jokes, etc... but there's not a whole lot of persuasion going on. Tell me why I'm wrong. (Seriously, I don't buy the argument in this piece but I think there might be one to be made.)”
 
You won’t be surprised to learn that Verifeed is a company that “identifies and mobilizes powerful viral ambassadors and amplifiers to drive cost-efficient and high-impact ‘word of mouth’ marketing, customer acquisition, and conversions.” Whatever.
 
In other words, it’s selling what it’s celebrating.
 
Its report on North Carolina said, “Republican activists outperformed Democrats in sheer volume – and resonance – of tweets, with a veritable army of party activists faithfully retweeting and favoriting each other’s tweets regularly, if not hourly. The result calculated by Verifeed in the final seven days was direct engagement with 15,436,367 people by the top 20 GOP influencers – more than 14 times that of the top 20 Democratic influencers, who by contrast engaged just 1,746,178 people on Twitter.”
 
Now, maybe all this math mumbo-jumbo means something. But it looks like most people on Twitter who are interested in politics have pretty much made up their minds.
 
Until the online entrepreneurs can show with hard evidence that they can actually influence votes, hold on to your campaign dollars.

 

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24
Not even the season is free from America’s politics.

Democrats post stories on Facebook about “how to talk to your right-wing uncle at Christmas.” Republicans claim that atheists and Democrats want to “take Christ out of Christmas.” People debate over whether to say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.”
 
The New York Times Magazine on Sunday had a nice essay about bridging the divide. It told of a family dinner that began with an argument about what prayer should be said, or whether there should even be one. With an evangelical, an atheist and a Muslim present, no one could agree and the meal started getting cold.
 
Then one person had an idea: “Let’s skip the formal prayer and just tell each other what we are grateful for. What we are anxious about. What we hope for in the coming year.”
 
Then, “We took turns going around the circle: Muslim, Christian, atheist. And, as I expected, we ended up expressing similar dreams and aspirations for ourselves and our loved ones, similar fears and anxieties, similar gratitude for all that we’ve been given….(We) realized that we were all feeling the same way; we were just expressing that feeling in different spiritual languages.”
 
Indeed. Merry Christmas, or whatever, to you all.

 

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23
Where was this guy in October when we needed him?
 
In the weeks before the election, President Obama seemed passive and powerless as ISIS ran wild in the Middle East and Ebola panicked America.
 
In the weeks since, he’s come back strong: heralding a recovering economy, challenging Congress on immigration, championing Internet openness, leading on climate change, speaking sanely on race relations, calling out North Korea and even chastising Hollywood for cowardice.
 
A few months ago, Republicans like Rudy Giuliani were swooning over the manliness of Vladimir Putin (“now there’s a leader”) and dissing the President as a wuss. Now Obama is presiding over an economy that’s coming back and Putin is pretending his economy isn’t going down.
 
Democrats can’t help but ask: If this guy had been around in October, would the election results have changed?
 
Behind that is a bigger question: Did the 2014 elections reflect a short-term dip for Democrats or a long-term decline?
 
Some Democrats say the polls looked good in early October, but collapsed as voters grew anxious over ISIS and Ebola and saw no leadership from the White House.
 
Others worry that Americans have developed a deep-seated aversion to Obama that colors (literally) their view of all Democrats – as a party that represents only minorities, the poor, gays and women who want abortions and doesn’t relate to the great numbers of middle-class and working-class Americans who think they’re getting screwed.
 
Here’s a best guess (and that’s all it is): Those Americans don’t feel any better represented by Republicans than by Democrats. Their votes in November were driven by what was happening right then. Just as Obama’s election six years ago was driven by the economic collapse right then. Just as the polls in October 2013 were driven by the Obamacare website disaster right then, just as the polls in November 2013 were driven by the Republican’s shutdown of the government right then.
 
When people vote, they think most about what’s happening right then and what they hope will happen next.
 
We over-read and overreact to every election. Democrats need to stop blaming Obama and start getting ready for 2016. The world will be very different then.

 

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23

 

When we sat down to our annual Christmas lunch our group of old white conservative men were looking care-worn and weary;---they’d voted against gay marriage and won and a year and a half later gays were marrying right here in North Carolina; the newspaper headline on the table was even more discouraging: President Obama had declared ‘Transgenders’ a minority which led Conor the Jessecrat to grumble, Do you reckon back in 1964 even one Congressman who voted for the Civil Rights Act had even heard of a transgender?
 
Something ephemeral that had made our country our country had ceased to exist and the decline seemed inevitable and irreversible: There was not enough faith left among thegadget obsessed Americans, around us, punching IPhones and Droids to engender redemption – then Eric laid a newspaper story on the table and pointed and said:
 
‘Merry Christmas.’
 
According to the Washington Post the very liberal folks at the PEW Research Center had taken a Christmas Poll. They found:
 
Three out of four (or 73%) of our sodden, wealth-obsessed, vice-loving countrymen believe – literally – that the baby Jesus was born to a virgin.
 
There was more.
 
74% of our fellow Americans believe an angel – literally – appeared to the shepherds in the fields of Judea to announce the child’s birth.
 
And 75% of our countrymen believe – literally – that wise men, guided by a star, brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the child in the manger.
 
Devilment may be afoot but we live in a country that believes in angels, guiding stars, and the Virgin Birth – so there’s plenty of faith left to see us through. Happy Christmas.


 

 

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22

 

GQ  just published a list of the 20 craziest politicians and two North Carolinians are on it: Mark Walker, the new Congressman from Greensboro who made the list for joking he’d be for bombing Mexico and that he worries Obama may not leave office at the end of his term, and Congresswoman Virginia Foxx.
 
This is a grave injustice.
 
Why, we once had a state legislator who said he wanted to set up a state religion and another who once said he wanted the state to print its own currency – and then there’s Democratic Party Chairman Randy Vollmer (who even Democrats shy away from) and William Barber who’s in a league of his own.
 
GQ needs to go back to the drawing board. When it comes to politicians, we’ve got dozens who’re crazier than Virginia Foxx.


 

 

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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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