Republican bullies

Can Republicans be trusted to keep Special Session free of politics?

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The short answer is "no," but with the election coming up, they may have to:

“The currents will be moving under the surface,” said Gary Pearce, a columnist who was a longtime aide to Jim Hunt, a Democrat who was North Carolina’s longest-serving governor. “You can’t take politics out of anything, and this state is so, so polarized, so politicized, and the last eight years have been so angry and bitter, that even in a disaster like this, it’s going to hard for people to set it aside.”

Few state governments in America have been as divided in recent years as the one in North Carolina, where Democrats and Republicans have regularly fought pitched battles over issues like redistricting, voting rights, bathroom access for transgender people, education, and executive authority.

Republicans take note: When your state-level feud is controversial enough to make the New York Times, you might be tempted to celebrate your success. But voters across the board are extremely tired of such partisan gamesmanship, and they will be watching closely at how you handle recovery efforts after this horrible storm. And thanks to the dynamic campaign of Jen Mangrum, Berger's constituents will be watching closely, too:

Poll reveals massive ignorance about Constitutional Amendments

And that is exactly what Republicans are hoping for:

A new poll from Elon University asked registered voters around the state about the six proposed constitutional amendments that will be on the ballot this year. The result: Most people don’t know much about the amendments, and in some cases people think the amendments would have the opposite effect of what they would really do.

“It seems to me that a lot of voters are going to be making a permanent decision that could impact North Carolina for decades to come, based on pretty limited information,” said Jason Husser, the director of the Elon Poll.

It's that "opposite effect" thing that really gets under my skin. Republicans have mastered the art of rhetorical misdirection, as was clearly demonstrated by the campus "free speech" act that punished students for speaking in opposition to right-wingers. Here are the numbers:

Apple watching GOP Amendment power-grabs closely

Because who wants to work in a state ruled by tyrants:

Apple, though interested in putting a new campus in the state, is concerned about North Carolina politicians "meddling with constitutional amendments for political influence," according to one report.

CEO Tim Cook and COO Jeff Williams are being regularly updated on political developments, a source described as "connected to local government affairs" told the Triangle Business Journal. The claim was reiterated by a Triangle real estate source. Earlier this summer Apple was reported to be considering North Carolina's Triangle corridor for a future campus hosting thousands of workers.

Although I'm not privy to their conversations, I have enough experience in business management to speculate: This is not (only) a concern about political goals supplanting responsible governing. It's also about an atmosphere of uncertainty. When government acts in a capricious and deceptive manner, business forecasting becomes much harder. Not knowing (or even reasonably assuming) what the future will bring as far as infrastructure investment and agency efficiency (staff cuts = slow response), makes a long-term investment intolerably risky. And while Republicans might think their effusive business-friendly rhetoric would smooth said concerns, refer back to that word "deceptive." Once you lose the trust, you can say all the right things and still be viewed as a liar. While BergerMoore might not be concerned about that, because their lust for power has warped them, rank-and-file Republicans better pay attention. Because a Blue Wave is coming.

Populism in opposition to Fascism may be the same (dangerous) road

It may not quench your revolutionary thirst, but Madeleine Albright makes some valid points:

Aside from North Korea, I do not accuse any current government of being fascist. I do, however, see disturbing parallels between contemporary trends and the conditions that gave rise to Mussolini, then Hitler. These include economic disparities, a declining faith in mainstream political parties, the corrosion of public discourse, the defamation of minority groups and a concerted effort by repressive leaders to undermine free expression, pervert logic and distort truth.

A point I've tried to make several times, especially since the rise of Trumpism, goes sort of like this: "If your opposition to an individual or group results in you emulating their tactics, you should take a step back and view it more critically." Some have automatically accused me of weakness, or waffling, or not really caring, which I find especially distasteful. The thing is, we (as Democrats) are not just fighting various battles against regressive policies, we are also trying to define our character as a party. And two of the major traits of that character should be compassion and intelligence, both of which are virtually non-existent in the Republican Party. Here's more, which will likely please and infuriate:

McClatchy newspapers take Trump to task for "Fake News!" attacks

It probably won't nudge the Deplorables one bit, but it's good to see:

No American president, or any city council member, for that matter, has ever unreservedly delighted in the way he or she was presented in the press. “I so appreciate the accuracy of their reporting on my perceived flaws!” said no official ever. “And good for them for holding me accountable.”

But President Donald Trump has veered into unfamiliar and perilous territory with his unceasing all-out assault on the free press and the First Amendment. Of course, the irony of Trump’s attacks on the “SICK!” and “very dishonest people” in “the fake media” he accuses of purveying, yes, “fake news” is that he himself is a product of the New York tabloids. He’s as savvy about manipulating his coverage as he is adept in undermining it.

Bolding mine, because that explains literally everything about his Presidency. Consider: While Trump himself may have came from money, his main targets of opportunity in real estate scams were the Nouveau Riche. People who were trying desperately to break into the social circles of New York's genuine elite. And nobody showed up more frequently in the high-society pages than Donald Trump, not by accident, but by design. I guarantee you the only time he cracked open the pages of the New York Times was to either check the Dow or if somebody told him there was an article that mentioned his name. Trump not only approved of yellow journalism, he thrived under it, and now he can't even recognize legitimate journalism when it happens. He also doesn't understand the U.S. Constitution:

Roy Cooper files lawsuit to preserve Separation of Powers

“The General Assembly has proposed two amendments to the North Carolina Constitution that would take a wrecking ball to the separation of powers. These proposed amendments would rewrite bedrock constitutional provisions— including the Separation of Powers Clause itself. They would overrule recent decisions of the North Carolina Supreme Court. They would strip the Governor of his authority to appoint thousands of officials to hundreds of boards and commissions that execute the laws of our State. They would confer exclusive authority on the General Assembly to choose those whom the Governor can consider to fill judicial vacancies. And they ultimately threaten to consolidate control over all three branches of government in the General Assembly.”

Fifteen minutes to read and analyze forty pages

NC Republicans emulate Trump in their Budget "process"

If it walks like an orange-haired duck, well you know the rest:

Secrecy. Greed. Dishonesty. Self-dealing. Neglect disguised as concern. Contempt for democracy. If one were asked to describe the most notable hallmarks of the administration of President Donald Trump, it would be hard to come up with six more accurate characterizations. To see the latest concrete confirmation of this appalling state of affairs, North Carolinians need look no further than the preposterous state budget bill that Republican legislative leaders rolled out yesterday.

Whether it’s yet another round of tax giveaways to the rich, the continued underfunding of public schools and early childhood education, new assaults on environmental protection and public transit, the shocking neglect of school safety, dozens of outrageous pork barrel giveaways to favored special interests or just the absurd lack of process that accompanied it, the new 2019 budget is an example of Trumpism at its absolute worst.

Since I'm in the mood to dole out some totally unqualified psychoanalysis: One of the hallmarks of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (or Sociopathy) is a complete disregard for the safety and well-being of others. Just doesn't register. So it's really hard to say if the GOP's failure to fund NC's Suicide Hotline was due to tone-deaf incompetence, or some kind of conscious coup de grâce, but either way, some 255 calls per day will likely soon go unanswered. More from Rob Schofield, who (as usual) puts these things into better words than I can:

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