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Koch brothers raising funds this weekend

Politico gives a tip that the Koch brothers are holding a major fundraiser with the country's richest Republican donors in Palm Springs this weekend.

Will Art Pope show up?

Many of the right’s most generous benefactors – folks like Minnesota media mogul Stan Hubbard, Wall Street investor Ken Langone and Wyoming mutual fund guru Foster Friess – are regulars. The gatherings, which attendees call “seminars” and are typically held at tony resorts, routinely attract some of the top operatives and biggest names in Republican politics, as well as rising stars tapped by the Kochs’ operatives.

The last seminar, held in August outside Albuquerque, N.M., drew Rep. Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Iowa state legislator Joni Ernst, who is running in a crowded GOP Senate primary.

Koch brothers play Henry Higgins for potential nutcase TeaBagger candidates

Mother Jones is reporting that the Koch brothers aren't just satisified with throwing money at candidates or supporting and coordinating with campaigns with ads run by groups like Americans for Prosperity.

Now, after sinking millions of dollars into loosing Tea Bagger candidates in the last election cycle, the Koch's have set up a consulting firm to operate a kind of "school" to groom Tea Bagger candidates for campaigning. They're hoping to prevent the next Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin from sticking their foot in their mouth up to their elbow.

Koch's big plans for NC and 12 other states

Alternet has a piece this morning that looks at the Koch brothers battle plans for 2014. North Carolina is on a list of 13 states where they'll be focusing during the next election cycle - at least that's what can be determined from the offices the Koch's are opening up and the hiring they're doing.

The Koch's are also going to be focusing more on social media and the Internet and less on traditional broadcast media, following a larger trend in campaigning.

There's some new PACs to look out for that will be spreading the Koch's toxic ooze over the state:

*The 60 Plus Association. Founded in 1992, it tries to be the right-wing version of the American Association of Retired persons, or AARP. The Post found that it spent $4.6 million on ads against Obama, Obamacare and House Democrats in 2012.

The Republican PAC filming everything Hagan and other Dem candidates say

Slate has a piece this morning about a Republican PAC funded by Matt Rhodes, the former campaign manager for Mitt Romney. America Rising is videotaping and collecting every public utterance by key Democratic candidates in senate and house races, part of an effort in "opposition research" by the party. They have a full-time staff of almost 50 people and have an expected budget of $10 to $15 million.

“Something in a research file now that doesn’t seem relevant may be relevant six months from now,” says Pounder. “The benefit of working on this full time, through the cycle, is that you’ll stay aware of it.”

McCrory administration attempts to block constitutional speech

Raw Story highlights the attempt by the McCrory administration to stop the Moral Monday protest yesterday. The judge had some harsh words for Special Deputy Attorney General Don Teeter. The headline says it all: "NC defends governor’s ban on NAACP protests by warning about ‘womanless’ marriages".

NAACP attorney Scott Holmes told Judge Allen Baddour that the state’s action’s were unconstitutional because the state had claimed that the permit had been denied because the event would have more than 100 people. But hundreds of people attended a Christmas tree lighting ceremony with Gov. McCrory in the same area earlier this month.

“What’s really going on here is that the state has preferred speech and non-preferred speech,” Holmes explained. “They prefer government speech over the people’s speech. And that’s unconstitutional.”

Vouchers for disturbing home schools

Mother Jones has an article up taking a critical look at NC's school voucher program.

North Carolina's vouchers, which will become available in 2014, allow public money to go to unregulated private schools that are not required to meet any educational or teacher preparation standards. In addition, thanks to the way the law was written, the money will be available to "home schools"—literally schools set up in someone's house. Homeschooling traditionally has been done by parents. But the state recently changed its home schooling law to allow people who aren't parents or legal guardians educate kids in a group setting. The only requirement for such schools is that the teacher have a high school diploma, that the school keep immunization and attendance records on its students, and that it give kids a national standardized test every year.

Civitas behind campaign to defund Medicaid

As you may know, the UK newspaper the Guardian is running a series on leaked documents from the American Legislative Exchange Council, the industry lobbying group that has pushed "model" extremist conservative legislation, including "stand your ground" gun laws, through many state houses.

In this installment, they discover that Art Pope's foundation Civitas developed a campaign to discredit Medicaid and sought monies through ALEC to implement it.

What's not quite right about this is that Civitas is officially an "educational" non-profit, not a lobbying organization, under IRS and campaign finance regulations. The Guardian is publishing the series, questioning whether this direct lobbying and advertising is illegal (lobbying organizations have to report on their activities and funding).

Also interesting - their language and talking points seem to have been coordinated with the McCrory administration.

The Pope speaks!

Not that Pope. This one.

Duke Magazine, a publication for alumni of the university, has a lengthy piece in the current issue written by journalist Barry Yeoman. The title says it all: "The End of Moderation? To some Duke professors and alumni, the NC legislature's recent rightward is a dismantling of Terry Sanford's legacy".

The article takes a close look at Sanford's vision for the state, pushing it from being a poor second-rate Southern backwater to one attractive to business, research, and innovation by tackling poor education, racial disparity, and poverty wages. And Yeoman looks at how Pope's stink tanks created the infrastructure to dismantle Sanford's work for North Carolina.

Since Pope is a Duke alum and has made some donations to the school, the magazine apparently felt compelled to devote another article to his response, "The Truth About Pope".

NC is ALEC laboratory

The Guardian is out with part two of their series on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the corporate-funded ultra-conservative group that has pushed "model legislation" in state houses around the country.

This installment of their series looks at ALEC's agenda for the next few months. Hmm.... does this look familiar?

Conservative groups across the US are planning a co-ordinated assault against public sector rights and services in the key areas of education, healthcare, income tax, workers' compensation and the environment, documents obtained by the Guardian reveal.

See what your kids are eating at school

Salon has a piece about an effort by the organization Do Something, collecting photos of 7,000 school lunches from students, then posting them on a site where users could vote on whether they would eat it or not.

Take a look at what kids in NC are eating. What do you think of what they're getting?

Farah Sheikh, who started the project, told Salon she was surprised by the sheer amount of pizza and carbohydrates that popped up in photographs, not to mention the abundance of styrofoam trays on which they’re served. The worst offenders, with the most “toss it” votes, were found in Arkansas, New Hampshire, West Virginia, Alabama and Kansas.

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