scharrison's blog

Bill Rabon plays the privatization game, and wins big-time

Pay-to-play politics at its absolute worst:

State Senator Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) said it was a pretty easy decision to start outsourcing some services at NCDOT when he and other Republicans took the majority in the state legislature in 2011. “One of the things that I think all of the Republicans wanted to do when they came here was downsize government, become more efficient,” Rabon said.

Campaign finance records show Rabon has collected campaign money from employees of private engineering firms and other companies involved in building roads and bridges, their political action committees and industry-related special interest groups. Records show Rabon’s campaign has taken more than $124,000 since 2012, the first year in which NCDOT was required to hit a specific outsourcing target.

If this was a fictional narrative, these revelations would trigger an inquiry, there would be scenes of Rabon running away from questioning reporters, and soon he would be announcing his early retirement, citing the need to "spend more time with family" or something similar. But as we've learned (the hard way) with GOP domination of the Legislature, the truth is stranger than fiction, and outcomes are simply not predictable. As far as that "more efficient" claim, it appears Rabon and his colleagues really don't care if it's true:

Republican snowflakes hide from their constituents

When you have no answers, questions are to be avoided at all costs:

It’s not that there isn’t time for such meetings, it’s just that many in North Carolina’s congressional delegation, like many others around the nation, simply don’t want to face angry and confused constituents. They’ve seen and read the reports of the raucous confrontations and are doing all they can to avoid those difficult scenes.

Trump uses "states' rights" excuse in attack on transgender students

Abdicating the Federal government's responsibility for basic civil rights:

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday that the Trump administration will issue new guidance on Title IX protections for transgender students. The comments came in response to a question during a White House press briefing about reports the White House would rescind the Obama administration's guidance that sought to bar discrimination against transgender students and ensure they had access to bathrooms of their choice.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Reports of the death of the Patriarchy were premature:

And it's about to get worse, since the NCGA is trying to shrink the Board. More from Hannah:

Anti-abortion nuttery shifts into overdrive at NC General Assembly

Embracing quackery is now acceptable in GOP circles:

He claims the reversal process makes logical, scientific sense and said that animal studies in Japan showed that rats that were given Mifepristone had its effects reversed when given progesterone. He also pointed to a study published in 2012 in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy that described six case studies where four women had successful reversals and two lost their babies.

Eminent domain "clarification" most certainly assists pipeline company

Regardless of Republican claims to the contrary:

By striking the phrase “originating in North Carolina” from the state’s eminent domain law, a bill approved by the North Carolina House could remove a key legal obstacle for the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Otherwise, the words are “a significant stumbling block,” said eminent domain attorney Jason Campbell.

“I’m not looking for any expansion [of eminent domain authority] here,” said McGrady on the floor of the House. “I’ve heard the argument that we’re trying to promote fracking and promote a natural gas line. I’m just going to stand my ground and say ‘no.’ We’re just trying to clean the language up.”

It looks like BergerMoore is rubbing off on Chuck McGrady, a Republican for whom I have (up until now) held a modicum amount of respect. But I don't believe in coincidences, especially not when powerful corporate interests have hundreds of millions on the line. Lawyers for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline are already busy attacking landowners in court, and McGrady's "language-cleaning" efforts will very likely tip the scales in their favor:

Fascism Watch: Anti-Muslim extremists talk openly about killing

Coming soon to a conference room near you:

“Do you have any recommendations as to how we could stop this?” asked Frank del Valle, a Winston-Salem resident whose Facebook page identifies him as a retired federal employee and native of Cuba, near the end of the hour-long presentation. “Because my only recommendation is to start killing the hell out them.”

Robert Goodwill, who identified himself as a member of the national security advocacy group Act for America, took an optimistic tack with the recent election of Donald Trump, adding, “We’re on our way.” Another man, who did not identify himself, said, “I want to start doing something instead of talking about it all the time.” He added, “I’m in a group. I’m not going to tell you what group I’m in.”

Right, because you know law enforcement would consider you more of a terrorist threat than the local Muslim population, and rightly so. These zealots aren't really concerned with *actual* Islamic terrorists, they believe moderate Muslims are part of a coordinated attempt to take over the United States. In other words, if they do start actively looking for targets for their anger and rage, soft targets (innocents) may be at the top of their list. They even discussed Keith Ellison's brother, who is a local Democratic Party activist:

Environmental Injustice: Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Give us your land, you poor, huddled masses:

In North Carolina, from a compressor station, built somewhere in these woods of Pleasant Hill, the 36-inch diameter pipeline would continue underground. It would braid itself around I-95, cutting through wetlands, rivers and valuable farmland — even near homes — in seven more counties in eastern North Carolina: Halifax, Nash, Wilson, Johnston, Sampson, Cumberland and Robeson. Through communities of color, including former routes of the Underground Railroad, and Native American tribal lands. Through some of the poorest areas in the state.

Bolding mine, because we continue to engage in the same mistakes of 50-60 years ago, by pushing our dirty industrial operations into the poorest of areas. North Carolina is already in trouble with the Federal government (or was until the Dingus-in-Chief took over) for endangering poor African-American communities with CAFOs, but the toxins and catastrophic fire threats associated with NatGas transmission can turn deadly, in the blink of an eye. While economic factors might make this pipeline route the "path of least resistance," that's when government is supposed to step in and balance the scale for these folks. When we abdicate that most simple of responsibilities, we become (much) less of a democracy and more a corporatocracy. And FERC appears to be irreversibly contaminated with that mentality:

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