scharrison's blog

Putting the pieces together in the #Russiagate puzzle

Exposing the clear intent to circumvent national security watchdogs:

Michael Flynn and other advisers to Donald Trump’s campaign were in contact with Russian officials and others with Kremlin ties in at least 18 calls and emails during the last seven months of the 2016 presidential race, current and former U.S. officials familiar with the exchanges told Reuters.

Conversations between Flynn and Kislyak accelerated after the Nov. 8 vote as the two discussed establishing a back channel for communication between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin that could bypass the U.S. national security bureaucracy, which both sides considered hostile to improved relations, four current U.S. officials said.

Bolding mine, because this isn't a fricking business partnership, it's the most powerful man in the world intentionally deceiving his own country's security officials. He doesn't get to decide which laws to follow and which ones to ignore, those national security rules and procedures were developed over decades, and many of them are in place due to Russian efforts to subvert our Republic. Trump couldn't pull a more inappropriate stunt if he tried.

Fletcher Hartsell sentenced to 8 months in prison

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Considering it could have been 20 years, he got lucky:

A former North Carolina lawmaker accused of misusing more than $200,000 in campaign funds on vacations, speeding tickets, haircuts and other items was sentenced Tuesday to eight months in prison after pleading guilty to three charges in the case.

Former longtime state Sen. Fletcher Hartsell, who represented Cabarrus and Union counties in the 36th Senate district, was sentenced at the end of a hearing that lasted more than an hour in a federal courtroom in Winston-Salem. Much of the hearing focused on arguments made on behalf of the 70-year-old Hartsell about how much time he would serve behind bars.

While I understand the desire for sympathy and clemency from the bench, I find it distasteful to contemplate that when taking a broader look at our criminal justice system. The parade of exonerated Death Row inmates, most of whom were forced to serve 2-3 decades (for crimes they didn't commit) before they were released, and the ugliness of mandatory minimums in the failed War on Drugs, which has sent countless young African-American men to prison for 15-20 years because they had a couple of rocks of crack in their pocket, makes this 8 month sentence seem like a gentle slap on the wrist in comparison. That's just my take, your mileage may vary.

No scientist needed for Trump's USDA, radio talk-show host will do

And we thought McCrory had idiotic hiring practices:

Clovis has never taken a graduate course in science and is openly skeptical of climate change. While he has a doctorate in public administration and was a tenured professor of business and public policy at Morningside College for 10 years, he has published almost no academic work.

Clovis is better known for hosting a conservative talk radio show in his native Iowa and, after mounting an unsuccessful run for Senate in 2014, becoming a fiery pro-Trump advocate on television.

You know, when I consider the NC Senate's demand that they vet Roy Cooper's infinitely qualified department heads, and then observe the menagerie of clowns Donald Trump is choosing to run the Federal government, I just want to reach in and pull my eyeballs out so I don't have to see this stuff anymore.

Coming soon to a local TV station near you: Right Wing propaganda

Sinclair Broadcasting is the Joseph Goebbels of the 21st Century:

They are called "must-runs," and they arrive every day at television stations owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group --- short video segments that are centrally produced by the company. Station managers around the country are directed to work them into the broadcast over a period of 24 or 48 hours.

Since November 2015, Sinclair has ordered its stations to run a daily segment from a "Terrorism Alert Desk" with updates on terrorism-related news from around the world. During the election campaign last year, it sent out a package that suggested in part that voters should not support Hillary Clinton because the Democratic Party was historically pro-slavery.

Here's a list of current or potential Sinclair stations in North Carolina, compiled by Seth Effron: WRDC-28, Durham; WTVZ-33, Norfolk VA; WLOS-13, Asheville; WXLV-45, Winston-Salem; WMYV-48, Greensboro; WLFL-22, Raleigh. Stations that Sinclair is seeking to purchase: WCTI-12, New Bern; WYDO-8, Greenville; WGHP-8, Greensboro.

The power of citizen activism: Greg Flynn shines a light on campaign finance improprieties

If you're fudging your books, he will eventually make you pay for that bad judgment:

In early March, Raleigh political activist Greg Flynn filed complaints with the state board saying the reports don't contain information required by law, have numbers that do not match up and, if correct, would indicate the campaign transferred more than $10,000 to Hise's pocket.

Flynn said this week he doesn't know whether the problems are the result of sloppy bookkeeping or show Hise has used campaign funds to enrich himself. Flynn said he is a Democrat who looks for issues with campaign finance reports filed by candidates from both parties. He said he became interested in Hise's reports when looking into a trip several legislators including Hise took to China that was organized by an industry group.

Trust me when I say, uncovering this information takes time, patience, and a certain level of analytical thinking that escapes most of us. I'd really like to say, "We need to crowdsource this," but I'm not sure this capability can even be taught. I probably don't have it, and I've devoted literally thousands of hours to scrutinizing state and Federal campaign finance records. So I'm giving Greg both a hat-tip and a bow, because this is one of those "services to the public" that just can't be estimated.

GOP-led NC Senate tries to strangle Cooper administration via budget cuts

The sheer scale of these irresponsible actions is breathtaking:

Meanwhile, the Department of Environmental Quality's operating budget is reduced by 6 percent in the proposed budget, with Chief Deputy Secretary John Nicholson, a retired Marine colonel among those whose jobs would be eliminated. The Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service, which works with businesses and communities with environmental regulations and permitting, boosting recycling, energy efficiency and cutting emissions, would be gutted, losing 46 positions in its Raleigh and regional offices.

The Office of Science Technology & Innovation in the Department of Commerce would be eliminated, and funding to the North Carolina Biotechnology Center would be cut by 5 percent. The budget for the Wildlife Resources Commission would be cut by 18 percent. The Department of Transportation would lose 400 positions, and another 183 positions that oversee picking up litter and roadside trash also would be eliminated.

In political analysis, it's not always easy to ferret out the "underlying" motives behind certain actions. A gut response would tell you Republican leaders are merely punishing Roy Cooper for both winning the election and taking an outspoken stance of opposition. I'm sure that's partly true, but I have a feeling these department cuts have another goal: To put the Governor and his senior staff into "crisis" mode, to make them scramble to repair the breeches in personnel and shuffle the workload, to keep them so busy just trying to perform the basic functions of government they won't have time to strategize about fighting the Constitutional overreach of the Legislative Branch. But (of course) it will also be the people of North Carolina who will suffer from this asinine and childish behavior.

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