Institute for Southern Studies

It's not a wizard, just a rich man behind the curtain

Art Pope exposed on a national scale, once again:

Recognizing that this conservative moment might not last long, Republican legislators are moving swiftly. Despite the headlines, the most notorious bills—like the resolution to establish a state religion or the measure to outlaw public nipple displays—have been nonstarters. But the core of Pope’s agenda is going ahead. Every lawmaker in North Carolina knows that agenda: Scale back taxes, especially for businesses and the wealthy; slice away at the social safety net; and reverse the state’s focus on public schools as an engine for social and economic progress.

While writing this, I've got the TV news (14) going on in the background, and there was just a quick blurb of McCrory saying, "I've learned in leadership, you don't get caught up in who gets the credit." I bet you have. You're only going to be allowed to live in that Governor's mansion as long as you play by Pope's rules:

ISS building database to track elusive PAC spending

Throwing the curtain back on outside influence:

We're launching as a beta release, largely because of gaps and inconsistencies in government reports. For example, a search of the NC State Board of Elections website for Independent Expenditures and Electioneering Communications* -- the two main ways independent election spending is classified in NC -- reveal only a fraction of the committees putting money into state-level politics.

Anybody who's spent time combing the BOE's campaign reports knows there is a huge chasm between accurate and helpful information and no information at all. Such is the drawback to self-reporting to a horribly understaffed regulatory arm of state government. But this is what's at stake:

Art Pope intimidation backfires again

In the tradition of corporate bully Titan Cement, Art Pope likes to throw his money and considerable weight around in North Carolina. His latest move, covered earlier here, is an exercise in extreme projection. Many believe that Art Pope's Puppetshow organizations have long violated both the letter and spirit of election laws, and should have their non-profit status revoked.

The irony of Mr. Pope's legal attacks on progressive non-profits, including the Institute for Southern Studies, must not go unnoticed. Which is why I was so pleased to receive an email from ISS this weekend using Pope's attack as a fundraising hook.

Read all about it below, and if you're able, please contribute to help these good people put Mr. Pope in his place.

NC joins battle against Citizens United decision

Stepping up to fight undue influence by corporations:

Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia are backing Montana in its fight to prevent the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision from being used to strike down state laws restricting corporate campaign spending.

The entity behind this attack on states' rights is (of course) a Republican-approved, oil & gas-funded, astroturf-carpeted organization called the American Tradition Partnership, which has been waging war against clean, renewable energy for some time now. I'll let Sue Sturgis from Facing South elucidate further:

Question Art Pope live today at 3:00 pm

North Carolina mega-donor and rightwing cash machine Art Pope will be facing off against Chris Kromm of The Institute for Southern Studies (and publisher of this Sunday, January 15, at 3:00 PM for a 2-hour radio special on 106.1 FM, Raleigh. The show is hosted by Phyllis Coley and Gary Jones of Spectacular Magazine. You can call in questions to the show at 919-860-1061!

Is this what they're afraid of?

When you're dealing with the Republican Tea Party, it always comes down to bigotry and racism. They are scared out of their pants, as well they should be.

Much of the media buzz about the 2010 Census has focused on the role of Latinos and new immigrants in changing the face of the country. It makes sense: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about half of the nation's growth over the last decade was driven by growth in the Latino community, much of it in Southern states.

But equally influential in the South's rapidly-changing demographics is another story with a longer historical arc: The return of many African-Americans to Southern states after a decades-long exodus during the Jim Crow era.

Check out the whole story at Facing South. It's a good one.

New online news site for mountain folk

Hopefully this dude will abide:

Carolina Public Press is a nonprofit media project dedicated to in-depth, investigative and independent reporting on the overlooked and under-reported people, places and issues facing the 17 westernmost counties of North Carolina.

A sponsored project of the award-winning independent media organization, the Institute for Southern Studies, we’re a small, scrappy website dedicated to nonpartisan, balanced and fair reporting and photojournalism. We aim, every day, to offer high-quality news and information for and about Western North Carolina.

I like scrappy. Scrappy is good.

Top Facing South stories of 2010: Part 1

Cross-posted from a Facing South article by Chris Kromm.

Thank you, dear readers, for another great year at Facing South! Due to your loyal readership and support (there's still time to chip in for our holiday fundraiser!), 2010 was a big success here at your favorite experiment in Southern-fried, non-profit, independent journalism. Here's what I'm most proud of: With only a fraction of the resources that bigger and flashier media outlets enjoy, we were again able to break big stories and deliver in-depth investigations that made a real impact on the national debate.

What kind of stories, you ask? Here is our annual look at some of the major issues where Facing South broke ground and helped keep you informed in 2010:

Got the holiday spirit?

Cross-posted from a Facing South article by Chris Kromm

I'll admit it, I've got the holiday spirit.

Not the fruitcake-eating, gizmo-buying kind. I'm talking about the spirit of friendship, giving thanks and excitement about the promise of a New Year. I'm thankful for you and thousands of other friends who have made the Institute a powerful and effective voice for change in the South. From the Gulf Coast to the mountains of Appalachia, you helped the Institute expose problems others were sweeping under the rug, and give voice to people and issues others had ignored.

And now, you can join with us to strengthen our voice for a more just, safe and peaceful future. This month we're kicking off our 40th Anniversary Campaign for the Institute Investigative Fund. Our goal: To raise $35,000 by the end of the year to expand our investigative reporting, train a new generation of Southern journalists and double the audience we reach.

Help Facing South watchdog the 2010 elections!

The right to vote. Free and fair elections. Every person having a say.

Growing up, this is probably what you learned democracy is
all about. And millions of people -- like the civil rights veterans who
founded the Institute for Southern Studies 40 years ago -- fought to
make it a reality.

But with the 2010 elections just a week away, we see dangerous signs everywhere that our democracy and voting rights are under attack:

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