Daily dose: Frustrated Francis edition

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House budget frustrates government shrinking advocates, unlikely to find favor with senators (WRAL-TV) -- "Handouts to cronies." "Disappointing." "Fiscally irresponsible." "Stuffed with pork barrel spending." Those reviews of the $22.1 billion budget developed by Republican leaders of the state House came not from liberal campaigners or Democratic lawmakers but from nonprofits singularly devoted to cutting taxes and the size of state government that have traditionally backed policies pursued by GOP lawmakers and helped them get elected. "We are not happy with what happened last night," Francis De Luca, president of Civitas Institute, said hours after the House approved the spending plan.
http://www.wral.com/house-budget-frustrates-conservatives-unlikely-to-find-favor-with-senators/14663...

Out of Order

I had never heard of Texan Wendy Davis until social media alerted me to her filibuster of the Texas legislature. I was able to watch online as she, and Texas Democrats, held the floor until time ran out for the abortion bill. This was the first time I ever realized that parliamentary procedure could be absolutely riveting!!

It continues to fascinate today, and is used effectively by Republican leaders at NCGA. There are many ways to get rid of a proposed bill, something you don't like, one of which is to Table the Bill. Another is to rule the suggestion is Out of Order.

Memorial Day is a time for both honor and philosophy

On this day of remembrance, our Facebook timelines are awash with glowing tributes to those who gave their lives in military service. Some of these tributes are personal, and some are crafted by some stranger and then shared by others. But you rarely see people add comments to these postings. If somebody in Hollywood has an affair with somebody else in Hollywood, you'll see dozens of sometimes heated observations about who is in the wrong and why. But men and women who have been sent to a foreign land to wage war in our name, and came back in a body bag if they came back at all? Crickets. And the few readers who do express an opinion about "why" they lost their lives are soon hushed, as if the causal chain of events is either not important or an "inappropriate" topic of conversation for this particular day. The problem is, for many of these folks, there never is an appropriate day to explore the wisdom or morality of the wars we engage in. And their aversion to this topic may lie in their inability to navigate the complexities of the ethics involved:

Daily dose: More scorn for Rucho edition

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Rucho, ‘power-mad potentate,’ violated democratic process (Greensboro News & Record column) -- It’s ironic that members of the same party that accuses President Barack Obama of being a dictator are themselves acting like power-mad potentates. For the most flagrant disregard for the democratic process, we go to the N.C. Senate, where Finance Committee Chairman Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenberg) added measures to a bill without notice, banned any debate on those measures and refused a show-of-hands vote on the bill.
http://www.news-record.com/news/local_news/susan-ladd-rucho-violated-democratic-process/article_e1b8...

An open letter to Rep. David Price regarding TPP

Dear Representative Price.

I'm not an insider by any stretch, and I certainly don't know all of the provisions of the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal being cooked up by America's corporate interests. But what I do know about the deal is both frightening and dangerous. Not only does the TPP continue the giveaway of special privileges to corporations, it accelerates that trend to the detriment of individual citizens.

The myths and motives behind Medicaid reform push

The non-existent "able-bodied" seeker of government handouts:

Almost 65 percent of the individuals on Medicaid are poor children who would otherwise have no health insurance. Another 2 percent are women who qualify only because they are pregnant. Roughly 15 percent of the recipients are blind or disabled, and approximately 7 percent are the elderly. The small proportion of recipients remaining represents the working poor.

So why then are some beating the drum for more drastic measures of reform? Why do some want to turn our health care over to out-of-state, profit-driven insurance companies?

You've answered your own question there. Whether it's a direct conflict of interest in the form of campaign contributions, or an ideological predisposition, conservative lawmakers almost always lean in the direction of the privatization of public services. And it doesn't matter how many times these efforts fail, or how many taxpayer dollars are pissed away in the process, the idea always seems new, bold, and innovative to them. Not unlike a small child rediscovering a cherished toy buried in his closet. But Medicaid is not a toy, it's a critical life-saving program, and shouldn't be "shaken up" for ego's sake.

Daily dose: The Pope/McCrory assault on higher ed version

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This Is What Happens When You Slash Funding for Public Universities (The Nation) -- After the economic crash of 2008, almost every state in the nation cut its higher-education budget. (The exceptions were oil-rich Alaska and North Dakota.) As the recession eased, most states started restoring some of that funding, though not to previous levels. According to a 2014 report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, average per-student state spending is 23 percent lower than it was before 2008. Eight Republican-dominated states, however, have kept cutting. Among them, North Carolina. In North Carolina, the influential political donor Art Pope, a close associate of the Koch brothers, has led an ideological crusade against the state’s university system. As Jane Mayer reported in The New Yorker, “In order to support the claims of political bias, the Pope organization has dug up the voter-registration records of professors and trustees.” The governor, in turn, has spoken out about universities being used to “indoctrinate” students, and the state government has closed academic centers on the environment, voter engagement, and work and poverty, all seen as left-leaning.
http://www.thenation.com/article/207697/gentrification-higher-ed

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