Daily dose: Zombie workers version

NORTH CAROLINA’S 31,000 ZOMBIE WORKERS : North Carolina’s unemployment rate for September was 6.7 percent – a tenth-of-a-point less than it was the month before. But is that the real unemployment rate? It is hard to tell because there are North Carolina workers, folks who once had jobs or were looking for jobs, that have simply disappeared. A year ago, North Carolina’s workforce was 4.677 million strong. Today that workforce is 4.646 million – 31,000 less. No one can say where these workers went, but according to the N.C. Commerce Department’s Division of Labor and Economic Analysis, these 31,000 workers are no longer with us. (Full report is available online at: https://www.ncesc1.com/pmi/rates/PressReleases/State/NR_Sept_2014_StRate_M.pdf) It is a curious situation in a state where the population is growing and, according to Gov. Pat McCrory, part of the state’s stubbornly high unemployment rate is due to an influx of workers from other states. If those zombie workers were included among the unemployed, the state’s unemployment rate for September would be 7 percent. Some other secrets buried in the monthly unemployment report: In the last year, government in North Carolina really is shrinking – down 2,700 workers in the last month and 200 overall for the last year. “The only major industry experiencing a decrease over the year was government,” according to the report. Workers are putting in longer hours, but taking home a smaller hourly wage: “Average weekly hours for manufacturing production workers in September increased 18 minutes from August. … Hourly earnings fell by (3 cents) to $16.65, as average weekly earnings increased by $3.69 to $730.94 ($38,000 annually).”

The psychological roots of the "Unaffiliated Voter" trend

There's more to it than just disaffection:

More than three-quarters of the growth in voter registrations in North Carolina this year was among unaffiliated rather than signing up as a Republican, Democrat or Libertarian.

This isn't a new trend. Between voters fed up with either party and unsure of which camp they belong in, the ranks of unaffiliated voters have been growing steadily over the past decade.

This is not limited to NC. As a matter of fact, NC is just now catching up with average national numbers. And while disaffection with the two established parties is definitely a factor, Individuation (with a sprinkling of Narcissism) is likely driving the trend more:

Daily dose: Moffitt's Raleigh chickens coming home to roost

Where the National Climate Doesn't Matter (National Journal) -- If there's a Republican wave, it's broken against the Blue Ridge Mountains that nearly encircle this western North Carolina town south of Asheville. Brian Turner's campaign is proof. The telegenic 40-year-old year-old Democrat is running for a state House seat held by Republican incumbent Rep. Tim Moffitt. It's a race he should lose: Moffitt's district was redrawn after 2010 to give the rising GOP star a friendlier electorate, and Mitt Romney carried it easily in 2012. Yet polls make it plain that Turner could win -- a victory that would come even amid heavy losses for his party nationwide. Because in North Carolina, voters casting ballots in local races aren't just thinking about President Obama, ISIS or liberal overreach. Right now, they're also concerned about the state's Republican-controlled government, whose aggressive budgets cuts and conservative priorities sparked cries that it was out of sync with a Democratic-trending state. "People here are concerned about environmental issues and education," said Turner, a former producer at MTV who ended up a Vice Chancellor at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, a job he said gave him an up-close look at North Carolina's education cutbacks. "That's what's driving the vast majority of voters." … North Carolina's state Legislature, which ranks among the country's most conservative since 2013, has created a different political climate here. To some degree, that's bled into the Senate race between incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and GOP challenger Thom Tillis, who also serves as the state House speaker. Hagan has blamed Tillis for the Legislature's record, particularly cuts to education funding, throughout the campaign. But the dissatisfaction with the state legislature had its greatest effect in state legislative races, where Turner and two other house Democratic candidates near Asheville are all seen as competitive bets to knock off Republican incumbents.
http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/where-the-national-climate-doesn-t-matter-20141021

Skvarla losing the Op-Ed battle over DENR-approved pollution

It's better to let someone think you're an idiot than clicking the "send" button and proving it:

The recent attack on The Fayetteville Observer's journalistic integrity by the secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources was unfounded. In a letter to the editor ("Coal-ash pond editorial challenged," Oct. 14), Secretary John Skvarla attempted to defend his agency's decision to allow pumping of contaminated water into North Carolina's rivers and lakes from Duke Energy's coal ash sites across the state without permits, controls and limits - or public disclosure and input.

Under Secretary Skvarla's leadership, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources touts customer service, and its actions indicate those customers served are the polluters, not the public. DENR and its secretary should instead direct their energies toward protecting our waters for the people and families of North Carolina.

Every time Skvarla tries to sell the public on the idea that he knows what he's doing, he just demonstrates more convincingly that he doesn't. I was going to say, "It's like struggling in quicksand." But it's more like seeing a patch of quicksand and just hopping in. Painfully stupid.

Richard Burr pulls a Jesse Helms on Ebola vaccine

"It's your own fault, you shouldn't have wasted money on XYZ.":

It is unsettling that in discussing shortfalls in the federal government’s response to the Ebola crisis, some Beltway observers have resorted to the traditional Washington shell game: blame the budget. The director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), for example, has lamented the lack of an Ebola vaccine and therapeutics due to insufficient resources. It is not, however, all that surprising.

The blame-the-budget game diverts the conversation away from focusing on NIH accountability for past priorities and spending. Those grumbling about the lack of resources should not neglect the resources poured into low-priority and perhaps unnecessary projects at NIH during the last decade.

Oh, the irony. Burr is doing exactly what he complains about, playing a shell game and diverting the conversation. Jesse Helms was notorious for digging up some frivolous-sounding government program or research project to use as a foil to deny needed funding, even if the foil in question received very little funding and/or resources. Burr, like many of his Republican colleagues, has turned "doing nothing" into an art form.

Daily dose: You don't have Ebola, part deux

Fear of Ebola Closes Schools and Shapes Politics (New York Times) -- In the month since a Liberian man infected with Ebola traveled to Dallas, where he later died, the nation has marinated in a murky soup of understandable concern, wild misinformation, political opportunism and garden-variety panic. Within the escalating debate over how to manage potential threats to public health — muddled by what is widely viewed as a bungled effort by government officials and the Dallas hospital that managed the first case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States — the line between vigilance and hysteria can be as blurry as the edges of a watercolor painting. … “If this was one incidence where people thought the government wasn’t doing what the government was supposed to do, it would be much less of a reaction than we see now, where there’s this long list of the government being one step behind, whether it’s the border, the IRS, the Secret Service,” Senator Roy D. Blunt, Republican of Missouri, said on “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “Now this health concern is more real than it would be if there wasn’t a sense that the government is just not being managed in a way that people would want it to be managed.” With fear riding high, Democrats, particularly those running for office, have supported a travel ban. “Although stopping the spread of this virus overseas will require a large, coordinated effort with the international community,” said Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina, a Democrat in a tight race, “a temporary travel ban is a prudent step the president can take to protect the American people.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/20/us/fear-of-ebola-closes-schools-and-shapes-politics.html

NC Bigotry Coalition's legal malpractice

The shysters so-called attorneys at the NC "Values" Coalition (you remember them, they're the rabid anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-sanity lunatic fringe group) are telling NC Registers of Deeds that they don't need to issue marriage licenses to people if they don't want to. Of course, being bigots, the people they have in mind are gay people.

One of the groups that fought to pass an amendment to the state constitution that had the effect of banning same-sex marriages has circulated a legal memo saying that registers of deeds and their staffs cannot be forced to issue marriage licenses that conflict with their religion.

"There are statutory and constitutional protections available for any Register of Deeds or staff member whose strongly held religious beliefs would make them refrain from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples," Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition, wrote in an email Friday. "They can claim their First Amendment right not to violate their religious beliefs."

Ummm...yeah. As usual, Tami got it completely wrong, as in the direct opposite of the truth.

Jones County Voter's League does great job hosting candidate forum

The Jones County Voter's League held a public forum on Tuesday, October 14, 2014, for candidates from several different elections to speak to the public and allow the public to meet and greet those currently running for office and even some who plan to run for office in the 2016 elections.

All candidates were given a timed opportunity to relay to those in attendance, their vision for the office for which they are campaigning. The event included supper to all in attendance, which unlike most campaign dinners, was free. This event was coordinated by Doris Harris.

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