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.

Monday News: Vindictive Budgeting

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REPUBLICAN SENATORS PUNISH DEMOCRATS BY STRIPPING EDUCATION FUNDING FROM THEIR DISTRICTS: Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram’s rural district in northeastern North Carolina took the biggest hit from the amendment. It strips $316,646 from two early college high schools in Northampton and Washington counties, and it specifically bans state funding from supporting a summer science, math and technology program called Eastern North Carolina STEM. The funding level for the program didn’t change, but seven counties represented by Smith-Ingram and fellow Democratic Sen. Angela Bryant were removed. Instead, the program will only apply to several counties represented by Republican senators.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article150397682.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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SENATE'S LOW EXPECTATIONS BUDGET FAILS STATE'S NEEDS: North Carolina teachers have more ground to make up than the Senate proposes. Why the limited increases? Once again, the Senate starts with a tax decrease and works up from there. What schools need doesn’t matter. Reducing taxes fixes everything. Gov. Roy Cooper’s modest budget plan should have been the Senate’s bottom line for teacher pay. Instead, at EVERY LEVEL, the Senate under cuts Cooper’s plans to improve compensation for teachers. The Senate offers NO increase in the starting salaries for teachers. And, adding insult to injury, offers no boost for the most experienced teachers. There is a term for withholding raises from long term employees – “harvesting the workforce.” Organizations use it to force out experienced employees to replace them with lower salaried employees. Who wants to work for an organization like that?
http://www.wral.com/editorial-senate-s-low-expectations-budget-fails-state-s-needs/16696768/

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.

Saturday News: Job opening: Special Prosecutor

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BURR SAYS HE HAS MORE IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO THAN INVESTIGATE RUSSIA: “It’s safe to say that, with the events of the last week, it’s reminded me of the importance of what I do. It’s also reminded me that, with the hearing yesterday on global threats, that I can’t just focus my efforts on an investigation and Russia’s involvement in our elections, because the world is a very unstable place as it relates to security.” Most of Burr’s remarks focused on global security, and his comments on Comey notwithstanding, he ended with praise for the president, whom he has supported from early on. “I really worried as this year started with such a split of the American people, could we do big things?” Burr said. “I’m convinced today after hearing the president — who’s only focused on big things — we have no choice. We’re destined right now to do big things.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article150311807.html

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.

Friday News: "Nothing good happens after midnight at the NCGA"

SENATE REPUBLICANS RAILROAD BUDGET THROUGH IN WEE HOURS OF THE MORNING: Senators held an initial 34-15 vote Thursday evening, then returned at 12:05 a.m. Friday to take a final vote, because the chamber’s rules require that the two mandatory votes to pass the bill can’t be taken on the same day. The Senate GOP has referred to the plan as a “billion-dollar middle-class tax cut,” but Democrats note that it would reduce revenue by hundreds of millions of dollars. “We cannot meet our core responsibilities as a state if we continue to give away money to corporations and those at the top,” said Sen. Mike Woodard, a Durham Democrat. As Democrats continued to file amendments, Republicans apparently grew frustrated and called for a break until 2:30 a.m. Some senators took naps, while others held an impromptu dance party in the halls of the Legislative Building. Jackson’s amended passed 34-13 and the Senate then took its final budget vote shortly after 3 a.m. Friday.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article150077897.html

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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