Blog Articles
09
Uncovering hypocrisy by politicians is as easy as finding sand at the beach. But the turnabout by Republicans on redistricting reform is noteworthy for its cynicism. Here’s what four key GOP Senators say now and did then.
 
“God bless ’em, I can’t wait to get it over here. It’s dead. It’s not going anywhere.” - Senator Tom Apadaca, who sponsored redistricting reform three times (2007-08 S1122, S1093) (2009-10 S25).
 
“It doesn’t need a new commission, it’s unnecessary….The Supreme Court made it clear how to draw these maps, it eliminates the gerrymandering that they’re talking about.” - Senator Robert Rucho, sponsor of Senate bill 283, Independent Redistricting Commission, 2001.
 
"Some feel like it should, some feel like it shouldn’t. You know, the other side had a chance to do that for what, a hundred and some years, never did and there’s some pressure to do it. Again, I’m not sure where our caucus will be on it, but we’ll have that conversation." - Majority Leader Sen. Harry Brown, who sponsored redistricting reform legislation three times.
 
“I have yet to see a so-called independent redistricting commission that is truly independent. ... I'm still out there looking for that nonpartisan soul that really has no opinion about politics one way or the other that has an informational background in politics. So I believe that (state Supreme Court) decisions provide North Carolina with a set of criteria that removes many of the problems that folks have complained about with reference to redistricting. I don't see an independent redistricting commission or any of the proposals that have been floated as improving on the system that we have now.” - Senate President Pro-Tem Phil Berger, who five times sponsored redistricting reform legislation (2001-02 S283) (2005-06 S430) (2007-08 S1122, S1093) (2009-10 S25).
 
Then there is Governor McCrory, who said last November: "I think the gerrymandered districts where we have no competition in the general elections make all of our jobs difficult." Unless I dozed off during his State of the State speech, he did not mention it Wednesday night.
 
In fairness, some Republicans have not let where they sit change where they stand on reform, like Rep. Skip Stam of Wake County. He still supports it.
 
Also in fairness, Democrats could have passed redistricting reform long before now. They didn’t see the light until they lost the power.
 
There is one difference: Democrats didn’t promise to end gerrymandering. Republicans did. Will they break their promise?
 
If they do, Democrats should make them pay. They should make Republicans the poster boys for corrupt machine politics. Then, when they get back in power (the wheel always turns), Democrats better keep their promise.
 
 
 

 

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06
Robed in black from head to toe, a hood covering his face, with a hostage kneeling at his feet, he lifted a knife and started his litany.  
 
Know, oh Obama, he said, that we will cut off your head in the White House.
 
He wasn’t done.
 
This is my message to France and Belgium… we will come to you with car bombs and explosive charges, and will cut off your heads.
 
He also had a message for the leader of the Kurds.
 
As for you, oh Masoud, you dog, we are going to behead you and throw you into the trash bin of history.
 
And, finally, he said a Japanese journalist he held hostage had less than “24 hours to live” – unless a ransom was paid.
 
It was like watching Genghis Khan on the Internet.
 
And it was like going back to 1939 – we looked across the water and saw plain as day a devil but told ourselves he wasn’t our problem – that we didn’t have to fight, that it was the British and French he was after so it was up to them to defeat him and send him back to the desert places.  
 
But it wasn’t to be.
 
It was us he was after.  


 

 

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06
Senator Tillis, we’d like to discuss your intriguing idea about not requiring restaurant employees to wash their hands before serving our food, but we’re due back on Planet Earth.
 
Besides, who could top Barry Saunders’ skewering in the N&O? Especially this: “Repeated efforts to get a comment from the senator’s office or from Starbucks’ headquarters were unsuccessful: Both apparently wish to – forgive me for this – wash their hands of the whole thing.”
 
But give Tillis credit. He did – forgive me for this – put his finger on the crux of the issue: “That's the sort of mentality we need to have to reduce the regulatory burden on this country.”
 
He’s right. That’s exactly the sort of mentality we would need to have.

 

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05
A TAPster offers this view of the State of the State – and the GOP’s mindset:
 
Governor McCrory’s weepy, exhausting speech for the ages (it sure seemed like it lasted that long) Wednesday night highlights again the philosophical mess entangling today’s modern Republicans.
 
McCrory proposes to address some of the state’s challenges with new cabinet-level departments filled with bureaucrats who spend money, create rules and get in each other’s way.
 
Contrast that approach, meanwhile, to that of our esteemed junior senator who believes government should keep its soiled hands off the soiled hands of restaurant workers, arguing (to well-deserved ridicule) that the marketplace – instead of government – will save us from dysentery.
 
And further contrast that to the thought process of newbie save-the-world legislators. Rather than think through what’s best for North Carolina, they quote the philosophies of free-market apostle Milton Freidman when opposing new regulations designed to protect health and safety.
 
You can’t have it both ways.

 

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05
When your speech goes on for an hour and 20 minutes, you need either a clearer vision or a new speechwriter. Viewers desperately needed some diversion.
 
Twitter to the rescue! Featuring a special guest appearance by Tony Tata, the DOT Secretary who apparently is our answer to Tom Clancy and a monster on Twitter!
 
The only way to watch a political speech, debate or any event today is with Twitter close at hand. You get exaggerated praise from the rah-rah supporters, forced flattery from the brown-noses and a healthy helping of snark from the carping critics.
 
When Governor McCrory said he wanted to make North Carolina a teaching destination, the critics pointed out how many North Carolina teachers are leaving for new destinations, or new lines of work.
 
When he waxed indignant over the condition of fountains in the state government complex, the critics wished he was that upset about the condition of public schools. (One wonders what Tiny Untidy Thom Tillis would say about big government interfering in the free market of dirty water fountains.)
 
My highlight of the night was seeing tweets from Tony Tata being posted during and after the speech. Gadzooks! Was a member of McCrory’s Cabinet actually tweeting during the speech? And not even about the speech, but about the novels Tata has written? This is a big story!
 
I had to go on Twitter myself to spread the news. Within minutes, Tata himself tweeted back at me: “@jgaryp didn't touch my phone during state of state. Publicist runs personal Twitter and schedules tweets. Thx for asking.”
 
He added, “Great speech!” Which just proves he wasn’t listening.
 
Now I need to check out Tata’s books. Is there any hot sex in them?
               
(NOTE: A tip of the TAP cap to the TAPster couple who suggested today’s headline. Their prize is my company over fine food and fine wine for a great cause.)

 

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04
When people ask, “What are we going to do about the North Carolina Democratic Party?” there’s a temptation to say, “Not a damned thing. Let those people fight each other while the rest of us fight the Republicans.”
 
But Thomas Mills, publisher of the estimable blog PoliticsNC, offers a more thoughtful and insightful viewpoint, which I’m happy to shamelessly appropriate here, titled “The NCDP’s Jonestown moment”:
 
In his column this weekend, the News & Observer’s Ned Barnett wrote, “The Democrats have been vanquished, undone by their disorganization and lack of conviction and gerrymandered into irrelevance.” The backdrop to that statement is a race for chair of the Democratic Party that’s just disheartening. The race is not to lead the state’s Democrats. The race is to elect someone who can make the party relevant again.
 
The past two chairs, Randy Voller and David Parker, have run the party into the ground, making it a laughingstock and leaving it deeply in debt. They alienated “the electeds,” as they call them, and lost the trust and confidence of the big donors, the national party, and the campaign professionals. Instead, they surround themselves with people who don’t understand that without the support of the elected officials who run on the Democratic ticket, the state party has no power or influence at all.
 
There are a number of candidates running for chair, but former State Representative Patsy Keever is the only candidate with the experience, connections, and clout to turn the party around–and it won’t be an easy task for her. However, unlike either of the past two chairs or the people surrounding them, she knows what real campaigns look like and she has raised real money. She’s also served in the General Assembly, was party chair of Buncombe County and serves as first vice-chair of the state party.
 
Given her background and experience, Keever should be a shoo-in, but with the dysfunctional state of the party, she’s being attacked by conspiracy theorists and the left’s version of the Tea Party. They’re more interested in controlling the mechanics of the party than making it relevant to the political landscape. They don’t understand that the people who organize, run, and fund campaigns have already set up their own networks to work around the state party if necessary. The party was marginalized in 2014 and will have even less of a role in 2016 if the voting members don’t install competent leadership.
 
This is the North Carolina Democratic Party’s Jonestown moment. On Saturday, the state executive committee can continue on the road to oblivion or they can take steps to re-emerge from the wilderness and re-enter the political fray. Don’t drink the Kool-aid.

 

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03
Bush’s steady and Hilary’s experienced and it all looks familiar but deep within the earth hidden rivers are flowing that may turn the Presidential race upside down.
 
No one had seen a caliph or caliphate for a millennium. Then, suddenly, in Yemen, Nigeria, North Africa, Syria and Iraq we have caliphates – and women sold as slaves, towns razed and hostages beheaded (or burned).
 
We have terrorist attacks from Australia to Paris and, in Saudi Arabia, an ‘enlightened’ country, the government has ordered a man publicly flogged, given 1000 lashes in front of a mosque for blasphemy.
                                                                                   
A year more of this and we may not be looking for a President whose steady or reliable – we may be looking for a warrior to whip the Huns. And someone who looks hard-edged, abrasive and unbending today, like Ted Cruz, may fit the bill.


 

 

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03
One number jumps out of Public Policy Polling’s latest survey of the 2016 Governor’s race: 48. That’s the percentage of Independents who disapprove of Governor McCrory’s job performance. Only 32 percent approve.
 
McCrory leads Roy Cooper among all voters by 44-39. But that includes a 43-28 McCrory lead among Independents. That’s not going to hold in the face of 48 percent disapproval. Those Independents are ready for a reason to vote against McCrory.
 
Assume that Cooper makes it an even race among Independents, instead of a 15-point gap. If Independents are a quarter of the voters, Cooper picks up four points overall. The race is a tie.
 
Then, say Cooper drives up McCrory’s negatives among Independents to 54 percent, which is where former Senator Hagan’s negatives are today. That’s potentially another three points overall.
 
If this were the Super Bowl, you’d say McCrory has big holes in his defensive line, Cooper has a lot of running room and the game will come down to a few yards and the final seconds.

 

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02
One score and four years after Bubba beat Poppy, another presidential election could be a showdown between the Republican First Family and Democratic First Family.
 
We shouldn’t be surprised. It’s the money, stupid.
 
Since the 1970s (or earlier), George H.W. Bush has built a vast network of fundraisers and donors. He did it the old-fashioned way, with good manners: handwritten notes, personal calls, Christmas cards and invitations to Kennebunkport and the White House. That network cleared the way for W. in 2000, and it’s doing the job for Jeb today. The only problem is that there are two other power centers today: Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News/Wall Street Journal network and the Koch Brothers’ money.
 
Similarly, since the 1970s (or earlier), Bill and Hillary have built a vast network of fundraisers and donors. They did it with idealism, ideology and access. There is nothing else like it in the Democratic Party. But the Clinton network is top-heavy with whip-smart people who are long-time campaign activists, all of whom have their own ideas about how to run a campaign and are willing to eviscerate any and all internal rivals. (See: Clinton Campaign, 2008.)
 
This time, Jeb and Hillary will carry the best and the worst of their legacies. Jeb’s slogan: “Just like my Dad – and a lot smarter than W!” Hillary’s: “Just like Bill – and without the bimbos or interns!”
 
Both will play off the President who interrupted the combined dynasties’ potential 32-year run in the White House. Explicitly or implicitly, both will say, “A lot better prepared than Obama – and I’ll LIKE the job.”
 
Now that Mitt Romney has seen what was obvious to everybody else, Jeb is the Republican frontrunner. He has all but sewn up the Moneyed Establishment wing of the party. But he’ll have to fend off challengers who emerge from the various Republican tribes, like the Tea Party, the Libertarians and the Religious Right.
 
Hillary is even more of a frontrunner than Jeb. Probably only two people can stop her nomination: Bill and Hillary. She also will have to handle the populist, anti-big bank, anti-Wall Street, anti-big business impulse that sets Democratic hearts aflutter.
 
Much will happen in the one score and one months ahead. But, one way or another, America could well have a Restoration in two years.

 

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31
EMS medics found Larry Green lying face down by the road with a head wound and no vital signs – he’d been hit by a car.
 
But, then, when a state Medical Examiner, Dr. J.B. Perdue, arrived and opened Green’s jacket his chest and abdomen moved. A medic asked if Green was breathing. The medical examiner explained “That’s only air escaping the body” and had the corpse zipped in a body bag and taken to the morgue.
 
At the morgue the dead man’s eyelid started to twitch, twitching over and over, until a worker asked if he was alive and the medical examiner explained it was a muscle spasm “like a frog leg jumping in a frying pan.”
 
Later that night a highway patrolman called, needing more information, and the medical examiner took the cold body out of the morgue’s refrigerated drawer. This time there was no denying the dead man was alive.
 
The next time government promises it’s going to work to solve one of your problems, remember, you may be better off going to work to solve the problem yourself – after all, government hired a medical examiner who sent a living breathing man to the morgue.


 

 

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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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