Texas judge backs religious "freedom to discriminate"

Slouching towards theocracy:

A federal judge in Texas on Saturday issued a nationwide injunction halting enforcement of Obama administration protections for transgender and abortion-related healthcare services just one day before they were due to go into effect.

Explaining the lawsuit, O’Connor wrote, “Plaintiffs claim the Rule’s interpretation of sex discrimination pressures doctors to deliver healthcare in a manner that violates their religious freedom and thwarts their independent medical judgment and will require burdensome changes to their health insurance plans on January 1, 2017.”

I'm sure many of them feel the burden of keeping their medical license current also thwarts their judgment, why don't we do away with that, too? Because we expect medical professionals to operate within the guidelines of their governing bodies. And why do we expect that? Because we don't live in the 14th Century anymore.

Monday News: Civitas attacking voters again

POPE CIVITAS RENEWS SAME-DAY REGISTRATION CHALLENGE (Winston-Salem Journal) -- An alt-right think tank has informed the State Board of Elections and six county election boards, including Watauga, that it has renewed its review to challenge same-day registration policies. With De Luca’s letter, Civitas is renewing accusations of voter rolls “fraught with ineligible voters, unverified voters, active felons and voters who don’t live in North Carolina.”
http://www.journalnow.com/news/elections/local/civitas-renews-same-day-registration-challenge-over-n...

Misogynist Meadows strikes again

Worried about all that money being spent combating campus rape:

Incoming Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) suggested that the incoming Donald Trump administration reverse a set of President Obama-era guidelines aimed at combatting campus sexual assault, saying it wastes money and that it denies protection to the "often-innocent accused," USA Today reported Friday.

"The Title IX guidance document on sexual assault and campus rapes has pressured colleges to spend hundreds of millions of dollars, and to create vast campus bureaucracies which drain tuition revenue, to investigate allegations of sexual assault (primarily date rapes, the incidence of which may be overestimated), and virtually dictates one-size-fits-all procedures which provide less protection to the accused, and deny the often-innocent accused basic due process rights," it reads. "As a result, many complainants are discouraged from reporting rapes to the local law enforcement."

I can't adequately express how disgusted with this man I am. Apparently the "Freedom Caucus" is more concerned about the rights of pussy-grabbers than they are the rights of female college students to not be assaulted. I shouldn't have to say this, but he runs again in two years, and *this* story needs to be part of the opposition's campaign.

More "rats in lifeboats" saved by McCrory

Golden Leaf or golden parachute?

McCrory Chief of Staff Thomas Stith and former state budget director Lee Roberts are joining the Golden LEAF board, an economic development body which oversees distribution of more than $1 billion paid by cigarette companies.

Stith’s wife, Yolanda, was appointed as a commissioner of the state Industrial Commission earlier this month during a special legislative session that also cut back on Democratic Gov.-Elect Roy Cooper’s powers. Stith’s job pays more than $127,000 a year, WRAL reported (http://bit.ly/2hE7Uz3).

Although the Golden Leaf Board itself receives no compensation other than a modest expense reimbursement, the volume of grant money they handle is huge, making them some of the most influential individuals in the state. These are also slots that (by right) should be filled by the incoming Governor, and not the dude the voters kicked out of office. As I mentioned before: They didn't just vote for Roy Cooper, they voted for a Cooper administration. These appointments by McCrory might be legal, but they are also a violation of the public trust, something the GOP has refined to an art form.

Sunday News: Governor Roy Cooper

COOPER SWORN IN AS 75TH NC GOVERNOR (WRAL-TV) -- Roy Cooper was sworn in shortly after midnight Sunday as North Carolina's 75th governor, taking the reins of a deeply divided state and facing an openly hostile legislature as he tries to accomplish an agenda calling for improved schools and a stronger economy for middle-class families. The formal inauguration for Cooper, a Nash County native and former state lawmaker, and the other members of the Council of State will be next Saturday.
http://www.wral.com/cooper-sworn-in-as-75th-nc-governor/16386628/

Saturday News: GOP challenges 2017 Special Elections

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OFFICIALS ASKS US SUPREME COURT TO HALT 2017 ELECTIONS (Raleigh News & Observer) – North Carolina officials asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block elections ordered for 2017 after a federal court found 28 state Senate and House districts were illegal racial gerrymanders. They asked Chief Justice John Roberts, in a request for emergency intervention, to put a halt to the three-judge panel’s order for redrawn districts by March and a special election in 2017. In the petition, They want the chief justice to enter an order by Jan. 11, when the General Assembly is set to convene its next session. “On Election Day, millions of North Carolina voters went to the polls and selected the state legislators who would represent them in the General Assembly for two-year terms in accordance with the North Carolina Constitution. Or so they thought,” Paul Clement, a Washington-based attorney representing McCrory, stated in the petition signed by Thomas Farr, a Raleigh-based attorney who has represented the legislators on redistricting, Phil Strach, another Raleigh-based attorney, and Alec McC. Peters of the state attorney general’s office.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article123887379.html

Archetypal McCrory: Appoint gynecologist to Oil & Gas Commission

Because knowing how many centimeters a well has dilated is important:

This is the same Randall Williams who was a central figure in crafting the language in the “do drink” letters to well owners whose water might have been contaminated by coal ash from Duke Energy. Those letters, which rescinded previous “do not drink” advisories, downplayed the health risks of hexavalent chromium in drinking water.

This is the same Randall Williams who, along with Tom Reeder, assistant secretary for the environment, signed an editorial lambasting state toxicologist Ken Rudo, alleging that he lied under oath about how the language was settled on, including the governor’s involvement.

We can also describe this phenomenon as "Rats in a lifeboat." Strategically shuffling loyal sycophants into other jobs, so they won't get fired and can continue with a voter-rejected agenda. And on the outrageously unethical front:

NC's status as a democracy in question

And as they say, sometimes the truth hurts:

Here, the dominant party — at present, the Republicans — holds all the power while winning just a slight majority of the overall vote. Everyone who votes for Democratic representatives or senators is given no voice in Raleigh because Democrats have no power. Just two weeks ago, the Republican legislature even went so far as to diminish the powers of the incoming Democratic governor, despite his statewide election victory. Republicans can do this with impunity because most of them don’t face real elections.

Reynolds makes a good argument that North Carolina operates like a sham democracy in critical respects. The question is what people can do to reclaim the right of real representation.

This is one of those issues that many of us would be tempted to say, "Of course it's a sham!" and then walk off without further discussion. But Republicans are determined to push the envelope on what is actually unconstitutional, and what is merely bad policy. As candidates square up in the soon-to-be-held 2017 Special Election, their messaging needs to be tight and verifiable, and we need to make it abundantly clear to voters that their democracy is being slowly and surely taken away from them. Here's more from Andrew Reynolds:

Friday News: Bureaucratic Defensive Posture (BDP)

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FACING FIRING, POLARIZING VAN DER VAART GIVES HIMSELF LESSER ROLE. (AP) — The N.C. environmental agency leader who headed Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s response to coal ash and other pollution problems is taking a demotion and pay cut to avoid being fired by incoming Democratic Gov.-elect Roy Cooper. State Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Donald Van Der Vaart is claiming a job as an environmental program manager effective Saturday — a day before Cooper becomes governor, according to employment records kept by the Office of State Controller. His pay will drop to about $97,000 after making $131,000 a year as agency secretary.
http://www.reflector.com/National-News/2016/12/29/Polarizing-NC-environmental-agency-head-taking-les...

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