Daily dose

DHHS spending requests hit raw nerve with senator (Winston-Salem Journal) -- A simmering GOP skepticism of how the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is being run by the McCrory administration reached a boiling point with a key state Senate leader last week. The voice-raising exchange between state health Secretary Aldona Wos and Sen. Tommy Tucker, R-Union, on Tuesday served as a microcosm of the tension between a GOP-controlled legislature focused on cost cutting whenever and wherever possible, and a state agency in critical need of modernization.

For workers cheated out of wages, NC Labor Dept. offers no help (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry’s staff says her agency has little to do with handling labor violations in North Carolina. Critics say there’s far more she could and should do to crack down on unscrupulous employers.

Why lie, Pat?

An open letter to His Magnificent Presence

Dear Pat.

With Thom Tillis no longer hogging the political spotlight, the stage is all yours. You get to set the tone and drive the agenda. You know, responsible governing?

So why this week are we getting nothing but spin? Instead of explaining clearly what is going on in North Carolina's employment picture, you're opting for lies. You're giving people the impression that "all the jobs are back" and you know they're not. Are you looking for five-star credit from a two-star performance? It sure seems that way.

The problem with that statistic is it doesn't account for any population change over the past seven years," Quinterno said of the payroll jobs number.

Read more here.

Look in the mirror, dude. Why are you not doing what you promised when you were a candidate? We don't need sleight of hand. We need an accurate picture of where things stand and don't stand. You're not delivering.

Daily dose: Zombie worker apocalypse version

NUMBERS TO PONDER : The latest release of North Carolina’s unemployment rate provided many numbers to ponder:
· 6.3% -- The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for October 2014 (lowest N.C. rate for 2014 was 6.2% in April).
· 4.646 million – North Carolina’s October 2014 labor force.
· 4.672 million – North Carolina’s October 2013 labor force.
· 26,000 --- The number of zombie workers – workers who disappeared from the N.C. labor force in the last year.
· 6.9% -- The unemployment rate, if the zombie workers were included.
· 600,000 – The increase in North Carolina’s population since 2008.
· 5,700 – The number of government jobs lost in the last year.
· 18 minutes – The decrease in average weekly hours worked by manufacturing production workers.
· $8.49 – The drop in average weekly wages earned by manufacturing production workers.
Want to know more about how to interpret jobs number. The N.C. Department of Commerce, with the help of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, offers a guide online at:

Richard Burr prefers KGB-style intel operations

But don't expect the "defenders of liberty" to speak out against him:

Republicans take over the Senate in just a few legislative days. And when they do, they will probably snuff out the last possibility of releasing a huge report on the use of torture by the Central Intelligence Agency during the Bush-Cheney Administration.

Mr. Burr has said the report is full of unspecified inaccuracies. He not only opposes its release, but also all public hearings of the Intelligence Committee. He believes that “enhanced interrogation” (also known as torture) helped lead to the death of Osama Bin Laden, and is O.K. with widespread domestic spying by the National Security Agency. So don’t expect the slightest bit of openness or progress after he takes over.

Be careful what you say on your cell phones, comrades. I have a feeling becoming an "enemy of the state" is going to get a hell of a lot easier in the near future...

Breakfast in Burgaw

Jane and I had a quick trip to Wilmington to see my brother over the past two days. On the way home, we stopped for breakfast in Burgaw, North Carolina. It's a sweet town with a thriving main street and lots of friendly people. This beaming duo welcomed us to the Alley Cats Cafe in the lively old downtown.

Even though we're mostly vegetarian, Jane had to try what our waitress (newly relocated from Florida) said the locals eat in droves: liver sausage. "It's fresh, you know, from the plants around here," said the waitress.

Growing up in northern Maryland, Jane called it scrapple. Her father ate it with molasses. Our waitress, who said she couldn't bring herself to try it, brought hot sauce cause "that's what most folks ask for down here." It was tasty just as she had predicted, even without condiments.

Daily dose: "Pass a bill" edition

“We shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger –- we were strangers once, too. We are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too. Whether our forebears were strangers who crossed the Atlantic, or the Pacific, or the Rio Grande, we are here only because this country welcomed them in, and taught them that to be an American is about something more than what we look like, or what our last names are, or how we worship. What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal -– that all of us are created equal, and all of us have the chance to make of our lives what we will. That’s the country our parents and grandparents and generations before them built for us. That’s the tradition we must uphold. That’s the legacy we must leave for those who are yet to come.”

Art Pope shuffles his puppets around

Methinks a certain syndicated columnist may have demanded a raise:

Locke Foundation President John Hood will become president of the John William Pope Foundation in January. Hood will be succeeded by Executive Vice President Kory Swanson, who also will hold the title of CEO.

At the Pope Foundation, Hood succeeds former state budget director Art Pope, who will remain chairman of the charitable group. Hood also stays chairman of the Locke Foundation board of directors.

That almost reads like one of those math/logic problems, where the answer ends up being zero because things cancel each other out. Or maybe an upper-crust nursery rhyme? One of those two things.

Obama making GOP dance to his tune with immigration action

And they'll be stepping on each other's toes even after the music stops:

Some on the right pushed for using must-pass spending legislation to try to shut-down Obama's move. One lawmaker— two-term Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama — raised the specter of impeachment. Party leaders warned against such talk and sought to avoid spending-bill tactics that could lead to a government shutdown. They said such moves could backfire, alienating Hispanic voters and others.

In a closed-door meeting with Senate Republicans, McConnell urged restraint. Still, there were concerns among some Republicans that the potential 2016 presidential candidates in the Senate would use the announcement to elevate their standing, challenging Obama directly.

Good luck on that whole "restraint" thing. Even if Republican leaders actually want their flock to behave like adults, which is not a foregone conclusion, the tantrums associated with this Executive Action will be legendary. I doubt we'll be lucky enough to see any Buddhist monk-styled immolation in the aisles of Congress, but there could be some tears of frustration. In actuality, it won't be a "groundbreaking" move by the President:


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