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House Republicans bog down Obamacare in states with highest uninsured - including NC

Salon has the scoop:

Last week, as several other outlets reported, Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce committee sent letters to state agencies and non-profit groups that received Obamacare “navigator” grants — organizations that will help educate people about the law and facilitate their enrollment — seeking an incredibly broad and difficult-to-compile range of information.

The effort’s pretty clearly intended to bog down the navigators ahead of enrollment, which could easily reduce the number of people who end up insured under the law. Republicans claim that the inquiry is intended to protect beneficiaries’ private information.

Southern Baptists order military chaplains not to officiate or attend gay weddings

From Raw Story:

In addition to ordering Baptist chaplains to adhere to the church’s “marriage is for one man and one woman” line doctrinally and pastorally, the guidelines say, “NAMB-endorsed chaplains will not conduct or attend a wedding ceremony for any same-sex couple, bless such a union or perform counseling in support of such a union, assist or support paid contractors or volunteers leading same-sex relational events, nor offer any kind of relationship training or retreat, on or off of a military installation, that would give the appearance of accepting the homosexual lifestyle or sexual wrongdoing. This biblical prohibition remains in effect irrespective of any civil law authorizing same-sex marriage or benefits to the contrary.”

Ex-Marine Republican charged in killings now head of NC Vet Affairs

From ABC News:

A former U.S. Marine lieutenant who faced murder charges for shooting a pair of unarmed Iraqis has been named as the new director of the N.C. Division of Veterans Affairs.

Ilario Pantano will start his new state job Sept. 5 and be paid an annual salary of $90,000.

In 2004, Pantano was charged by military prosecutors with two counts of murder over the killings in Iraq. A Marine general later ordered the charges dropped. Pantano said he viewed the unarmed men as a threat.

Pantano, who lives in Wilmington, campaigned unsuccessfully as a Republican for North Carolina's 7th Congressional District seat in 2010 and 2012. He was also vice chairman of Veterans for McCrory, a group affiliated with the 2012 campaign of now Gov. Pat McCrory.

A question on Civitas Media

A question (hopefully not silly) for you Dems and progressives that may be better connected and more knowledgeable than me.

I happened to notice several small-town NC newspapers are owned by "Civitas Media". Civitas Media is a part of a larger company, Versa Capital Management, a private equity firm that is based in Philadelphia.

With the name "Civitas", I was wondering if NC's own Art Pope has anything to do with Civitas Media or Versa Capital Management. At least some of the NC papers I've looked at seem to be fairly conservative, running unaltered and unchallenged op-eds from Pope's think tanks.

IRS case could impact electioneering by NC churches

Raw Story has info on a case that might have an impact on NC evangelical churches that engage in direct electioneering. In the past few years, the IRS overlooked this type of activity and direct involvement in campaigns for candidates and coordination between candidates and churches has exploded.

A judge has ruled that a case by Freedom from Religion Foundation to force the IRS to enforce the laws and regulations can move forward.

Some of the big evangelical outfits, like Focus on the Family, established separate organizations focused on political activism and lobbying to get around the laws, but they're just a formality with close coordination and staffing sometimes share between the religious group and the political organization. Smaller churches haven't even bothered with that and just jumped into the political fray.

Where NC public schools are headed

I think it's important for liberals and progressives in NC to lift up our heads on occasion outside of the shennanigans in Raleigh to remind ourselves about the bigger picture.

Don't forget that the Republicans in the NC legislature are taking the state down a path of laws bought and paid for by big money donors pushing the same laws and policies in other states through organizations like ALEC.

If you think it's bad in NC now, take a look at Pennsylvania - NC is headed down the same road. From Slate:

Democrat infiltrates ALEC

Although this story involves a Democratic Wisconsin legislator, liberals and progressives in NC need to pay close attention - afterall 50 members of the NC legislature are members and pushing ALEC's model bills.

Chris Taylor, elected in 2011, went to one of ALEC's high security gatherings and did a piece for progressive.org with her observations. She was also interviewed at Raw Story.

Art Pope OUTRAGED by high state salaries

As you've probably heard, our Deputy Assistant Governor Pat McCrory gave a wee bit of a little raise to a couple of staffers.

Ricky Diaz and Matt McKillip worked for McCrory's campaign and were hired, respectively as the Department of Health and Human Services Communications Director and Chief Policy Advisor. In April, McCrory gave Diaz a raise of $23,000, giving him an annual salary of $85,000. McKillip got a raise of $22,500, giving him an annual salary of $87,500.

Both Diaz and McKillip, btw, are fresh out of college. Before working for the McCrory campaign, Diaz worked for Chris Christie. McKillip graduated from Georgetown and worked with the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

Many are shocked that two such inexperienced employees would get such a high salary. Could it be a couple of plum political jobs for some "friends"? Should the state be paying so much money to someone right out of college?

Do you think Art Pope might be outraged about these high salaries?

You bet he is!

Let's find out more …

Data behind the NC Republican voter suppression law

This blog post has some good detailed analysis and charts on voting patterns in NC, demographic trends, and why gerrymandering and voter suppression laws are the only way that the NC GOP can stay in power.

A couple of highlights:

The New Republic’s Nate Cohn found that if voter ID requirements had been in place during the 2012 election, they would have cost President Obama 25,000 to 30,000 votes. The voter ID requirements won’t take effect until 2016, but the other parts of the bill take effect before the 2014 elections and could be even more damaging to Democrats.

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