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During this Thanksgiving season, Democrats give thanks to the Republican Party for the gifts you’re giving us.

Thanks for Trump, the gift that keeps on giving.

Thanks to Trump for tweeting about Al Franken’s sexual-harassment incident – and reminding us that Trump has about 20.

Thanks to Trump for scaring the bejeesus out of swing voters and giving them the quickest case of buyers’ remorse ever.

Thanks to Paul Ryan and House Republicans for “tax reform” that is more tax ripoff. Thanks for telling Americans that tax cuts for your corporate donors will help average folks. (Remember: corporations are people, my friends.)

Thanks to Steve Mnuchin and wife Louise Linton for the great photo! We needed a visual to sum it all up.

Thanks to North Carolina Republicans for trying to take away voters’ right to elect judges. Of course the people want judges picked by politicians in a legislature with 20 percent approval.

Thanks to Steve Bannon. Keep up the good work.

Thanks to Roy Moore. Say no more.

Thank you all, sincerely, for making us feel like Dennis the Menace on Christmas morning.

Keep on giving. Give ‘til it hurts.

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For months professors at UNC battled the Board of Governors to save the law school’s Center for Civil Rights – the fight went on and on with former Dean Gene Nichol and current Dean Martin Brinkley both heaping praise on the Center for its lawsuits.

In the end the Board won – but then an ironic thing happened: It turned out there should never have been a war because it was against state law for the UNC Center to be filing lawsuits. It was an odd last chapter: According to the North Carolina State Bar for over a decade, under the Deans, the law school had been violating the law.

Posted in: General, Issues
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The Facebook ad had a picture of Satan, horned and gargoyled, arm wrestling with Jesus, with Satan saying, If Hillary wins I win! and a caption that said, Today Americans are able to elect a President with godly moral principles… My vote goes for Trump!

Who paid for the ad?

It said the Army of Jesus.

But on Facebook I only found one Army of Jesus, headed by a student at Liberty University who said he hadn’t posted that picture.  

So who did pay for the ad?

A Senate and House Intelligence hearing in Washington provided the answer: The Russians.

In Vietnam, Vladimir Putin told Donald Trump he never, ever “absolutely did not meddle in our election.” A reporter then asked Trump if he believed Putin? It took a while but Trump said flatly, No, he didn’t.

So the Democrats, the Republicans and President Trump all say the Russians meddled – but Putin says Nyet.

There’s a lot of foolishness and bluster in American politics but, if you want to see real evil at work, Russians using Satan to tell Americans how to vote fills the bill.

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President Trump made robo-calls and tweeted to help elect Ed Gillespie but as soon as Gillespie lost Trump made it clear who was to blame by tweeting: “Ed Gillespie… didn’t embrace me or what I stand for.”   

It’s a hard world. And it’s easy to understand why Trump didn’t want to be blamed. But offering a kind word the day after Ed Gillespie lost would have spoken better of Trump.

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We’re not just divided between Blue America and Red America, Democrat and Republican, right and left. We’re divided within our own tribes. And the internal fights can be the angriest, meanest and most bitter of all.

Three factors fuel our political – and social and cultural – fights: population patterns, gerrymandering and how we use social media.

Democrats seem as angry at other Democrats as they are at Republicans. Republicans may be worse.

Republicans are divided over Trump. But anti-Trumpers are either cowed or cast out. Now Republicans are divided over whether a man who preyed on girls as young as 14 should be a United States Senator.

Democrats are just as divided – between left and center, Bernie-ites and Hillary-ites and black and white. Some African-Americans want to take Jim Hunt’s name off the Sanford-Hunt-Frye dinner because he endorsed Nancy McFarlane. (Irony alert: Governor Hunt appointed Henry Frye as the first black Chief Justice.)

All this reflects today’s world. People who are mobile move to be near people who share the same values, beliefs and politics. People who aren’t mobile are stuck in places falling into failure, despair and bitterness.

Then there’s gerrymandering. An unintended consequence of having fewer competitive districts is that everyone’s anger, energy and fighting spirit is channeled into primary contests. You can’t beat the other party, so you beat up on each other.

Then there’s Facebook and Twitter. It’s easy to blame them. But is it their fault how we use social media? We use it to jack ourselves and our friends up: “Look at this outrageous thing that (Trump/Hillary/Sessions/Schumer/Ryan/Pelosi/Pick Your Poison did/said today!”

The Onion, as usual, sums up what we do to ourselves online: “Woman Who Had Almost Formed Healthy Sense Of Self Rejoins Social Media.”

Maybe Trump just reflects who we are now.


Posted in: General
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The California NAACP asked legislators to send a resolution to Washington to tell Congress ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ has to go as the national anthem – it was the latest political stunt but that story took off like a rocket and landed in newspapers from coast to coast and the headline in the Raleigh newspaper – “National Anthem is racist, California NAACP says” – didn’t look like jousting at windmills: It looked like banning the National Anthem was a political movement sweeping the nation.

Of course, the headline was pure click-bait – but it does help explain why people worry about fake news.

Posted in: General, Issues
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It’s disappointing that Democrat Ralph Northam was elected Governor of Virginia – it’s worse that he won by five points more than Hillary.

It’s disappointing Democrats in Virginia swept the House of Delegates elections – it’s worse that, since they aren’t very well known, most candidates for state legislature live and die by national trends and, in Virginia, those trends handed Democrats 15 Republican seats.

It’s disappointing Hillary won white women with college degrees by 6 points – it’s worse that Ralph Northam won them by 16 points.  Another fact: Last year in Virginia Hillary lost married women by 1 point – while this year Ralph Northam won them by 10 points.

And the signs were not limited to Virginia: In Georgia, Democrats won three Republican seats in Special Elections for the state legislature. And in Manchester, New Hampshire, the incumbent Republican Mayor lost – the first time Manchester had elected a Democratic Mayor in 14 years.

None of that’s a shock. It’s an old tale. It sometimes takes a while but what goes around comes around. There’s always a day of reckoning waiting down the road. Most Presidents win their election then their party loses the next election two years later. And last Tuesday proved one fact: The wave is real. And the undertow is deadly.   

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A Democrat wrote on a Republican Congressman’s Facebook page: You Republicans cut taxes for the wealthy by screwing the middle class.

But think tanks, from the Tax Policy Center on the left to the Tax Foundation on right, have said Republicans cut income taxes on all income groups – from those earnings less than $10,000 to those earning over $1 million.

So a Democrat could argue Republicans should have raised taxes on the wealthy to cut taxes more on the middle class – but not that Republicans took money from the middle class to cut taxes on the rich.

But today most politicians figure they can let out a blood curdling howl – to get ‘shares’ and ‘likes’– on Facebook and get away with it. But there is a reckoning: The fiction a politician posts today can come full circle and hit him in the head tomorrow and, after that, people look at him, shake their heads, and say, That fellow’s just another Washington politician nobody with a lick of sense would listen to.

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I may not get politicians to get past wasting money on yard signs. They’re like crack addicts. 


We’re talking about you, Nancy McFarlane and Charles Francis. Your unsightly, now-sagging signs are still cluttering rights-of-way. 

In fairness, the Mayor’s election was just a week ago. But let’s set a deadline: Say, Thanksgiving. Can you get a few volunteers on the case before then? Before the leaves and acorns that you used in your signs start falling?

But Stacy Miller. That’s another matter altogether. You lost your race a month ago. It is long past time for your signs to go. 

Posted in: Raleigh
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Prosperous, progressive and, yes, white West Raleigh prevailed over less-prosperous, left-out, left-behind and, yes, black East Raleigh in the mayor’s race.

Now the job of newly reelected Mayor Nancy McFarlane and the new City Council is to bridge the divide.

And that’s the challenge for North Carolina Democrats who hope for a replay of Virginia’s victories here next year and in 2020.

The healing isn’t helped by McFarlane supporters who criticize challenger Charles Francis as “divisive,” “partisan” and motivated only by “political ambition.”

Francis had every right to call a runoff – and every reason to think he might win. Of course he has ambition. Every politician does. He also had a mission: to speak up for people who feel they aren’t being heard in City Hall now.

You see the divide if you work downtown or spend much time there. There are the well-heeled “knowledge workers” who spend $15 on burgers and $10 on cocktails in trendy restaurants. And there are the folks who stand in rain and heat and cold to catch a bus to work or go shopping.

White Democrats who look longingly to 2018 and 2020 need to recognize that Francis’s defeat leaves many black Democrats feeling scarred, second-class and once again taken for granted.

Francis hurt himself by sending mixed signals about party in a hyper-partisan environment. He ran as the only registered Democrat against the Unaffiliated McFarlane. But he went before the Republican Party and asked for their support. He called himself a “Jim Hunt Democrat,” but Jim Hunt endorsed McFarlane. Which led one angry Francis supporter to call for taking Hunt’s name off the Democratic Party’s Hunt-Sanford-Frye Dinner.

That division does not bode well for North Carolina Democrats in the next two crucial election cycles. And the responsibility for addressing it rests squarely on incumbent elected officials and party leaders.

Francis was a strong challenger. He has a bright future in politics – maybe another race for Mayor or a run for the legislature, Congress or statewide office.

White Democrats have to recognize the importance of recruiting African-American candidates. Remember: The only Democratic Presidential candidate to carry North Carolina in the last 40 years was a black man named Obama.

All Democrats have the recognize the importance of recruiting strong and diverse candidates to run strong races in diverse districts. Take Virginia. A transgender candidate beat a homophobe for the state House. A black candidate was elected Lieutenant Governor. And the new Governor is a boring, centrist, white doctor who beat a Republican who followed the Trump-Bannon playbook.

It takes all kinds.

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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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