Republican bullies

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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:

Phil Berger gets his Democratic opponent disqualified

I had to grab an excerpt from a %$#@& Facebook post, because for some reason NC's news outlets don't think the most powerful man in the General Assembly pulling a Vladimir Putin is newsworthy:

The Republicans on the panel - defying all logic - voted against Mangrum today, and the case will now go to the State Board of Elections. The Republicans on the panel gave reasons based on speculation and innuendo - not on the law. I believe it was a circus. We have reached bottom, and Berger's gang is covered in dirt. Shame on them. SHAME.

This is a good story for an aggressive reporter to cover. And I suspect it starts, as always, with fear of losing power and dark money fueling the efforts to keep it. I sent a recap to Rachel Maddow. Someone needs to expose this!!!

Hell, it doesn't even need to be an "aggressive" reporter, just somebody to publish the pertinent details would be a good start. This is now headed to the State Board, where hopefully wiser and less partisan heads will prevail. We'll see. But this is a prime example of why Berger & Moore screwing around with election boards should have been completely tossed by the courts. Here's some background on yesterday's bent decision:

Justin Burr's mysterious crusade against sitting judges

Hat-tip to NC Policy Watch for exploring this nonsense:

More than 100 judges with thousands of years of combined experience could be wiped from the North Carolina bench by a bail bond agent who has served less than a decade in the General Assembly, and no one really knows why. Many judges learned of their potential unemployment on Twitter last summer when Rep. Justin Burr (a private bail bond agent by profession) unveiled his surprise judicial redistricting plan. They’ve been trying to figure out what’s going on ever since.

“It’s stressful because it’s created this cloud of anxiety since June about what are they going to do next. Do I have to move? What do I have to do?” said District Court Judge Robin Wicks Robinson, who serves New Hanover and Pender counties. “There is a powerlessness feeling and feeling of anxiety that overwhelms.”

Understand, double-bunking at such a high rate does not happen by accident, it requires a design. An intentional effort to create a new batch of judges in a system that is already crushed under poor funding and a growing caseload. And it should come as no surprise that the people who will suffer the most under this plan are on the low end of the economic spectrum:

Big-government Republicans set to gerrymander Asheville

Once again choosing power over people who don't want their "help":

Sen. Chuck Edwards, R-Henderson, said his plans to have the legislature draw district maps for City Council during the coming session have not changed. The General Assembly passed a bill he sponsored last year that gave council a chance to draw districts, but directs the legislature to do so if council didn't.

But Sen. Terry Van Duyn, D-Buncombe, said council did act when it put the question of whether to go to a district system on the ballot in last November's election. She noted that "not a single precinct" in the city, including those in South Asheville where backing for districts appears to be strongest, gave the idea a majority. Citywide, 75 percent voted against districts.

While it could be said that City demographics would inhibit Republicans from actually winning a majority on the Council (unless they got really crazy with the map), double-bunking current Asheville leaders is a distinct possibility. Whatever the case, the people have spoken. And a continued effort to do this after that voice was heard makes a mockery of democracy.

Slouching towards Fascism: Shaun King harassed by border agent

Trumpism is fast becoming a virulent disease:

As an activist and journalist, he’s been prominent in the Black Lives Matter movement, defended the Palestinians, and attacked the Republican Party, On Monday, apparently as a result of his politics, King was briefly detained at JFK Airport by an agent of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol while returning home from Egypt.

In a series of tweets and a telephone interview, King described a “frustrating” and “weird” episode like something out of the “Twilight Zone.” He said he was approached by a customs official who pulled him out of line and took him down a white hall to a nondescript office. His wife, unwilling to be separated, came along, as did their children.

This is the only reference to this incident by a major media outlet (Miami Herald), and the only reason they had the story is because it was in a syndicated Leonard Pitts opinion piece. And it wasn't simply a random event, King was targeted due to his activism:

Obsessed with Roy: Francis de Luca files complaint about ACP permits

The revelation came to him as he was throwing darts at a Cooper poster:

A challenge filed Tuesday against Governor Roy Cooper’s Department of Environmental Quality alleges that the four permits issued by the state for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline “did not meet proper procedure resulting in harm to water quality.”

The petition was filed by Francis DeLuca, former head of the conservative Civitas Institute, and contests permits and approvals recently issued by DEQ to the ACP project, including the federal Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification which is the primary approval required for the project to move forward. The petition also challenges the sedimentation control permit and storm water permits in Nash and Cumberland counties.

You know, when the GOP took over the General Assembly back in 2011, one of the first things they did was go on a "listening tour" to determine just how dissatisfied developers and industry people were over DENR's permitting process. And of course, they were able to find numerous complainers, who told "horror" stories about having to wait 12-18 months to get their permits approved. Ironically, the GOP's "solution" was to cut funding for DENR (later DEQ) by 40%, and bury the remaining regulators in paperwork like economic impact assessments. But setting that aside for the moment, my point is that Civitas and JLF have been moaning about over-regulation by environmental officials for years, complaining about how those delays stifle growth and prosperity and such. But now Fran de Luca is upset because the permits were granted too quickly? There's a word for that, it's called "Hypocrisy." Here are excerpts of a letter JLF signed off on just a few years ago:

GOP complaints about Progressive groups prove their effectiveness

If you're making them mad, you're doing it right:

The number of grassroots groups popping up and supporting progressive causes and candidates is staggering. They’ve got a slew of names and they probably overlap in activities. The common goal, though, is to elect Democrats in November—or at least ending Republican control of Congress and the state legislature.

Now, the groups are coming under scrutiny because of our complex series of campaign laws, most of which have been supported by progressives to try to regulate money in politics.

FWIW, the sheer irony of Republicans whining, "Who paid for those t-shirts?" while they're perpetually getting a blood (money) transfusion from shadowy corporate donors is not lost on anybody, except maybe those who've had their televisions programmed to only show Fox News. Unfortunately, that blatant hypocrisy won't help those Progressives file their paperwork properly or shield them when the BoE comes knocking, so if you're involved with one of these groups, help 'em square that stuff away. And while this is true:

Birds of a feather: Rob Porter's domestic abuse was no secret in Trump's White House

By all rights he should be rotting in jail:

Colbie Holderness, Porter’s first wife, and Jennifer Willoughby, Porter’s second wife, both told the FBI their marriages had ended because of a pattern of physical and emotional abuse. According to their accounts, supported by photos, contemporaneous reporting to others, and a blog post written by Willoughby last April, Porter kicked these women, he punched and choked one of these women, he blackened one of these women’s eyes. He berated and insulted these women. Police were called.

But Rob Porter is also white, and the son of a prominent academic and thinker. He went to Harvard and Oxford, and he had a high-ranking job in the Oval Office, and was reportedly pressing for a higher one. He was dating Hope Hicks, one of the president’s closest confidantes. So nobody did a thing about the allegations.

This literally makes me furious. The Trump connection is an important aspect, but the failures by law enforcement from the local to the national level are indicative of a sickness in the very heart of our society. They like to talk about how much terrorism they've prevented, but terrorist attacks happen every few minutes in America. Not by strangers from some exotic country, but by "loved ones," which makes it even more heinous. And we as progressives need to stop paying so much attention and lip-service to the "preponderance of evidence" approach when these things happen:

Another GOP power grab under scrutiny by the court today

When your arrogance far outweighs your common sense:

A three-judge panel will take up motions to dispose of two issues in the separation of powers case, Cooper v. Berger. The first issue involves House Bill 239, a measure that reduced the Court of Appeals from 15 judges to 12, and the second involves a voucher mandate in the budget bill, Senate Bill 257. Cooper argues that Section 1 of HB239 purports to shorten three appellate judicial terms to fewer than eight years. He asks the court to declare it unconstitutional and therefore “void and of no effect.”

As for the voucher mandate, Cooper argues that it’s unconstitutional because the General Assembly mandated what he could include in his base budget. “By mandating what the Governor must include in his proposed budget, the General Assembly is exercising core executive power in violation of separation of powers,” the complaint states.

The key word there is "proposed." The Governor's budget proposal is non-binding. The General Assembly is free to write a completely different Budget, which incorporates little or nothing from what the Governor asks for. By dictating what the Governor must ask for, this bill amounts to a contradictory and oxymoronic "forced bi-partisanship." Allowing Republicans to disingenuously claim "Both we and the Governor support this funding." This is the kind of crap military juntas in third-world countries pull to control their civilian figurehead leaders. And the fact that it has become second nature to NC's GOP cabal should scare the living hell out of everybody.

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