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19
This is not what you call an ideal corporate PR juxtaposition. The Page One headline screams, “Damage from Dan River spill still unfolding.” From a Duke Energy power plant. On the business page, the headline says: “Duke Energy earnings up for 2013.”
 
In true corporate PR fashion, Duke’s CEO announces the profits. An underling is dispatched to handle the pollution questions.

 

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19
Governor McCrory walked into Reid’s Fine Food and ran head on into a cook who proceeded to tell him what he thought of the Governor’s politics; then, the way the cook tells it, the Governor started yelling, saying he was a customer and shouldn’t be treated that way – then the Governor’s security detail complained to the owner and the cook was fired.
 
Years ago, when ole Joe Hunt (who was Jim Hunt’s uncle) was running for re-election to the State House, as he walked down the street in Greensboro, a lady came up to him and chewed him out, cussing him up one side and down another, saying she wouldn’t vote for him if her life depended on it.
 
When she was done Joe doffed his hat and said, Well, ma’am, I never reckoned it would be unanimous.

It was a better response.

 

 

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18
The other day down at the News and Observer ole Rob Christensen wrote about how Republicans in Raleigh are cocksure there’s not a chance they’ll lose their majorities in the State House and State Senate – because of redistricting.
 
Then he pointed out a not-so-good thing:  When politicians get the idea they’re so powerful they’re invulnerable it leads to mischief. 
 
Now, the way Republican legislators see the next election they’re safe in their castle, manning the battlements, with the drawbridge pulled up.  It’ll take a mighty horde to whip them.  And no horde’s in site. 
 
But just as it was true three thousand years ago in the time of King Solomon, so it may be true today: Pride goeth before a fall.
 
The other morning out of a clear blue sky rumors started flying that former Governor-for-life Jim Hunt has started a mega-million-dollar Democratic Super-PAC – to whip Republican legislators.  Which just might be a horde on the horizon.

 

 

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18
North Carolina’s unemployment rate apparently went up by one person this weekend following an encounter between Governor McCrory and a cook at a Charlotte gourmet food store. The Charlotte Observer reports that the cook was fired after making a critical comment to the Governor.
 
The Observer said: “On Sunday afternoon, McCrory was shopping at Reid’s Fine Foods when Drew Swope, a 45-year-old cook, said he asked if he could help McCrory. After realizing he was speaking with the governor, whom he disagrees with politically, Swope said he told McCrory, ‘Thanks for nothing,’ and walked away. Swope said the governor was upset at his comment and began ‘yelling’ at him. He said McCrory said he was a customer and shouldn’t be treated that way. He said the governor and his security team complained to the food store owner, who then fired him.”
 
The Governor’s spokesman disputes that account, saying the cook “made an obscene gesture to the governor during the conversation” and that Swope has said “things about physically harming the governor as well.”
 
This isn’t good news for a Governor who already has a reputation for being thin-skinned. Getting store employees fired is not exactly the way to ingratiate yourself with the public. It smacks of Thomas E. Dewey suggesting that his campaign train engineer be shot at sunrise.

 

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17
It’s got to be a temptation – but it may not have a happy ending.
 
Lately, President Obama’s taken to running the country by Executive Order – for  instance, the other day he found a part of Obamacare wasn’t going to work so he simply announced he wouldn’t enforce that part of the law.   
 
Which, in a way, sounded pretty good – even Republicans agreed that part of Obamacare was broken.  So, by not enforcing the law, the President avoided a train wreck.
 
On the other hand, there is a right way and wrong way to do things.  
 
Years ago, if a President believed we should go to war, he had to get Congress to pass a Declaration of War.  That system worked out pretty well.  During the first half of the last century we only fought two wars:  World War I and II. 
 
Then, in the second half of the century Presidents dispensed with the legal formalities and started sending troops to attack other countries on their own – without a Declaration of War.  Since then we’ve landed in six wars.  Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
 
The old traditional way of doing things – Congress passing the laws and the President enforcing them – wasn’t a foolproof way to run the country.  But it led to less mischief than giving one politician the power to say, This is what I want to do – and now that’s the law
 
Naturally, President Obama wants to see his agenda succeed but changing laws he doesn’t like is a step down a dangerous road. Today he may be changing laws to avoid a train wreck.  But tomorrow he (or another President) may use the same power to open Pandora’s box.

 

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17
Last week summed up the obstacles and opportunities that Governor McCrory faces as he governs in a purple state where politics is played for keeps. And he saw how hard it is, even for a Governor, to dictate the agenda.
 
McCrory started the week trying to shed the Republican Party’s anti-teacher, anti-education label. He ended it trying to walk a fine line on climate change on Face the Nation. In between, he did what governors most like to do: put on a work shirt, got in front of the cameras and played Master of Disaster. Then he faced what governors most hate to see: a federal investigation into whether his administration is too cozy – as in, a felony – with Duke Energy.
 
McCrory came off best in the one situation where he had least control: storm response. Remember: the most dangerous place to be in a storm is between a politician and a TV camera.
 
But he found himself slipping and sliding when CBS’ Bob Schieffer surprised him by quoting a 2008 interview in which McCrory suggested climate change was a gift from God, not man-made. As usual, McCrory said he didn’t say what he’d said – on tape.
 
The teacher-pay problem is harder to skate away from. Judging from the reaction last week, McCrory and the GOP face tough sledding there (okay, enough with the ice and snow jokes).
 
The real thin ice (sorry, I can’t help it) is the federal probe into DENR-Duke. Recent political history right here at home shows how politically dangerous that can be.
 
Stay tuned. Season Two of our own House of Cards is just getting started.

 

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14
One protestor waved a sign calling for legalizing medical marijuana and another held up a sign “Stop the War on Women” and Reverend Barber looked out at the multitude of marchers, lifted his arms, and thundered into the microphone how he meant to save the school children and save the poor and see that everyone got healthcare and how he wanted to put an end to sending people to jail because of their race then, without pausing for breath, he explained how he and the protestors standing in the street in front of him were the ‘trumpet of conscience’ in North Carolina walking in the footsteps of Dr. Martin Luther King.
 
Now, I don’t know a southern male, black or white, liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, who’s crazy enough to start a war on southern women. It’d be the worst mistake since Gettysburg.
 
Voice rising, gaining cadence, the Reverend started talking about morality and right off one thing was clear – the way he sees it he, Reverend Barber, right then, has a hammer-lock on righteousness and any fool and especially any politician who doesn’t see eye to eye with him has got to be immoral, amoral, or, worse, doesn’t give a toot about little school children and poor people.
 
The Governor, he thundered, was a varmint and Republican legislators were even worse varmints.
 
Of course Republicans have been known, occasionally, to sin. But it’s also true, if you boil away the Reverend’s thunder and brimstone, when he says he’s fighting for justice, generally speaking what he’s got in mind is taking money from one fellow and giving it to another.
 
There’s a pretty fair chance before he’s done the Reverend will do a fair amount of harm. But not to Republicans. To the people marching down the street beside him. Because they’re the poor souls he’s most likely to fool with his roaring self-righteousness. And there’s proof more folks than just Republicans have figured that out: No one saw Jim Hunt or Roy Cooper or Kay Hagen marching down Fayetteville Street beside Reverend Barber.

 

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14
Instead of exploiting the Tea Party’s war on Establishment Republicans, Randy Voller seems set on replicating it in the Democratic Party.
 
Behind this week’s chaos is a history of hostilities between some party activists and what they see as the Establishment Enemy: elected officials in Raleigh and consultants who help elect them. It goes back to Howard Dean’s candidacy in 2004, which brought in enthusiastic grassroots activists, and Jerry Meek’s election as chair in 2005.
 
Meek did a good job keeping everybody together. But Voller seems intent on keeping himself in power by driving a wedge. According to one party leader, Voller said he fired ex-ED Robert Dempsey because he “spent too much time working with the Hagan campaign.”
 
Hello? Too much time working on a race vital to North Carolina’s future, not to mention a majority in the United States Senate?
 
To get a full picture of the chaos, read the first-hand account by WRAL’s Mark Binker of Voller’s statewide conference call with party leaders Tuesday night. One person on the call texted: “Randy is selectively muting opponents, kicking reporters off the line….It’s like a dictatorship.”
 
Voller defends himself and his plan to make Ben Chavis ED of the party by saying it will “fire up the base.” But parties that focus solely on firing up the base forget to win a majority. Successful parties, like Democrats in the 1990s and President Obama (who disavowed Chavis’ support in 2008) do both.
 
The Tea Party is about to drive the Republican Party off a cliff. Why should the North Carolina Democratic Party join them?

 

 

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12
This blog is a tribute to my late father, Jim.
 
He was a printer all his life, first at Parker Brothers Newspapers in Ahoskie and then at The News & Observer. For many years, he was foreman of the N&O composing room.
 
Those were the days when newspapers were produced with hot metal type. Each column on each page had to be filled. On news pages, short items were used as filler. On advertising pages, especially the many classified-ad pages in those days before the Internet, the composing room used house ads promoting the paper.
 
On snow days, Dad would make up an alternative set of filler ads. They came in all type sizes, column widths and lengths. They all said the same thing: “Feed the Birds.”
 
When you opened your paper in the morning, you’d find them on every page. Sometimes two or three a page. “Feed the Birds.”
 
I like to think that millions of birds across Eastern North Carolina ate on those cold, snowy days because of Dad.
 
So this morning I stopped by Ace. Everybody else was in line with ice-melt and snow shovels. I got a big bag of bird seed. Tomorrow, when the ground is covered in white, we’ll throw out the seed. We’ll be rewarded with a colorful fluttering of wings. The dogs will go crazy at the door. The birds will thank Jim, and I’ll think of him.
 
Feed the birds.

 

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12
Jim Hunt still drives Republicans crazy. Governor McCrory and GOP leaders scheduled their pay-raise rollout in Jamestown just as Hunt’s Emerging Issues Forum was starting in Raleigh. They wanted to steal the spotlight. But they just spotlighted their own shortcomings.
 
Just as Hunt was saying ALL teachers should get a raise, McCrory & Co. were promising a raise to SOME teachers.
 
Some teachers may buy it. At first. But soon they’ll realize they’ve been had.
 
What kind of company would give a raise to its newest, rawest employees, but stiff its most experienced, capable people? Plus dump more duties and performance measures on them all. Plus treat them all with contempt and a total lack of respect.
 
The GOP plan is a political sham cooked up to deal with a political problem. It also looks like a thinly-veiled slap at NCAE, which has a lot of experienced, activist teachers.
 
Hunt’s Forum dove deep into what’s right and wrong with the teaching profession in North Carolina. What’s right is that we have a lot of great teachers, despite all we’ve done to run them off. What’s wrong is pay, first, and pay has to be raised significantly. But teachers also deserve respect and autonomy. They deserve a fair system of testing. They deserve to be heard in Raleigh.
 
They will never get that from McCrory and the GOP, even if they do get an election-year pay raise. Some of them, that is.

 

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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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