Tuesday News: Financing despotism

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ALLEGED "SOCIAL WELFARE" PAC HAS TIES TO TIM MOORE AND HOUSE GOP: Two years ago, the Carolina Leadership Coalition launched with the stated mission of promoting social welfare by advocating for economic development, innovative education strategies, lower taxation and limited government. But the group’s website and social media accounts show it wants to keep Republicans in control of the state House, where they have a super majority, with lengthy critiques of House Democratic candidates that include brushes with the law, legal disputes and their criticisms of the NRA. Two officials with the coalition also have key roles with Citizens for North Carolina, a political action committee supporting House Republicans. Within a month of the 2016 general election, the coalition gave two donations totaling $175,000 to the PAC. Two other coalition officials are identified as political allies of House Speaker Tim Moore from his home county. The coalition, PAC, and House Republicans also use the same businesses to raise money and produce campaign ads.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article220258650.html

Tuesday Twitter roundup

The very latest in Republican negligence:

This is Trumpcare by the numbers; people with pre-existing conditions are losers and don't deserve good coverage.

Trump wants to define transgenderism out of existence

We're back to the whole birth certificate thing again:

The department argued in its memo that key government agencies needed to adopt an explicit and uniform definition of gender as determined “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.”

“Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth,” the department proposed in the memo, which was drafted and has been circulating since last spring. “The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”

And just like that, another freedom is arrogantly stripped away. In other contexts, we might say a "definition" is merely a mundane classification, with no real-world consequences. But in the context of the Trump administration, where putting toddlers in concentration camps is considered "sound" policy, that definition becomes a lot more sinister. How far away from the further step: "You don't meet our definition of a human being, so human rights are no longer applicable" could we be? Not far enough, that's for sure. And we can now put to rest the presumption that right-wing think tanks are relatively harmless:

Monday News: The other green economy

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GROWING NUMBER OF NC LEADERS SUPPORT DECRIMINALIZATION OF MARIJUANA: Business leaders were more pro-marijuana than some of their political counterparts. Former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl said decriminalizing marijuana is the single biggest thing North Carolina could do to reduce crime, and the presidents of the Charlotte and Asheville chambers of commerce, Bob Morgan and Kit Cramer, both said the state should legalize and tax it. Others in the survey spoke of the racial implications of marijuana laws, which are often unevenly enforced by the police. Numerous scientific studies have found that white and black people report using marijuana and other drugs at similar rates, yet black people are significantly more likely to be arrested and to be incarcerated for marijuana specifically, as well as for drug crimes in general. “The criminalization of marijuana possession is the equivalent of a throw down gun that the police can use when it is convenient to remove people they consider undesirable,” said James Coleman, a professor at Duke University School of Law,
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/influencers/article220314765.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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DOES THE NC GOVERNOR STILL HAVE ANY POWER? NOT IF THE LEGISLATURE HAS ITS WAY: “We’re strongly urging all North Carolinians to reject this backdoor effort that would lead to manipulation and cronyism in an institution that must remain fair, independent and impartial.” As McCoy noted, the amendment could lead to court packing to shift the balance of the court. Democrats have a 4-3 majority on the N.C. Supreme Court. If that holds after the November election, Republicans could add two seats with candidates named by the legislature. Republicans have denied they have any such plan but that would be consistent with their previous actions, including cutting three seats on the N.C. Court of Appeals to reduce Gov. Cooper’s chances of making appointments to the second-highest court. Republican legislators say the constitutional amendment is needed to take the politics out of judicial appointments. Excuse us if we —and the former governors and chief justices — are skeptical of their motives. This constitutional amendment would make any flaws in the current system worse. It should be rejected.
https://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/article220177520.html

Why there are no good excuses to not vote in America

People are literally dying to exercise a right we take for granted:

An Afghan provincial government official says two people died and 22 were injured when insurgents fired several rockets and mortars at a variety of targets in the Baghlani Markazi district in an attempt to terrorize voters casting their ballots in parliamentary elections. Zabihullah Shuja, of Baghlan province, said the attack Saturday did not deter voters who continued to make their way to polling stations to cast their ballot.

In a separate attack, also in Baghlan, a bomb detonated in the capital of Pul-e-Kumri injuring one person, said Shuja. He added that Taliban insurgents also engaged in a firefight with security personnel at check posts on the main roadways.

It's been eight years since the last Parliamentary election in Afghanistan, and these voters have no way of knowing when (or if) the next election will be held. Not even polling places in Kabul are safe, but these folks are still turning out to determine who their leaders will be. In some of the provinces, that means walking for a half-day or more across brutal terrain, totally exposed to sniper fire or worse. But still they come. I'm sure if asked, NC's gun fetishists would say they need to travel "in force," 2-3 trucks of well-armed heroes to protect them. But then they would be drone bait, wouldn't they? You probably get the message, but we're not done yet:

Saturday News: Carrion birds of a feather

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TRUMP TO HEADLINE CHARLOTTE RALLY FOR MARK HARRIS: President Donald Trump will campaign in Charlotte next week for Republican 9th Congressional District candidate Mark Harris, a senior state GOP official said Friday. Trump will be in the Queen City next Friday for a 7 p.m. rally at Bojangles' Coliseum. Harris, who knocked off Congressman Robert Pittenger in the Republican primary in May, faces Democrat Dan McCready and Libertarian Jeff Scott in the upcoming election. Democrats view the seat as a potential flip for them as they seek to erode some of the GOP dominance in the U.S. House. A recent poll commissioned by the conservative Civitas Institute showed McCready with a 4-point lead, but the results were within the margin of error, meaning it remains a toss-up.
https://www.wral.com/trump-to-campaign-in-charlotte-for-nc-congressional-candidate/17927263/

News deserts are expanding while democracy hangs in the balance

Making informed decisions begins with accurate information:

More than one in five papers has closed over the past decade and a half, leaving thousands of our communities at risk of becoming news deserts. Half of the 3,143 counties in the country now have only one newspaper, usually a small weekly, attempting to cover its various communities. Almost 200 counties in the country have no newspaper at all. The people with the least access to local news are often the most vulnerable – the poorest, least educated and most isolated.

Before we talk about Corporate media issues, we need to look at the term "incorporated." When communities grow to the point they decide to be self-regulated, to provide services not readily available from county governments, they incorporate into a distinct municipal entity. That requires they begin exercising authority over citizens within those boundaries, and now we come to the part where democracy is in jeopardy. Because authority without responsibility and accountability is tyranny, by any other name. The Fourth Estate is a critical element in a democracy, because it provides a neutral assessment (it's supposed to, anyway) of the performance of elected representatives. And like many issues that plague our society, the poor and under-educated are the most at-risk of losing that critical information:

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