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Showing posts from December, 2016

STOP HATING ON 2016!

Throwing this entire year into the garbage bin of history misses the majestic silver lining that the ascendence of Trump has produced: a bigger resurgence of citizenry, activism, connection, dialogue, soul searching, and rededication to passionately held core values I have witnesses in my life time. Yes, the assholes are--very temporarily--in charge. Yet, the outpouring of passion, dedication, determination, and love on these forums has been incredible. We are facing multiple potential catastrophes, as the worst among us are allowed to plunder the nation's riches, but we have affirmed to each other the reservoirs of patience and resistance we have inside ourselves. Our nation was founded on too great an ideal to let the forces of darkness prevail. Together, we will cling fast to what is still left of legal precedent, due process, the free press, and political convention and decorum against those who would smash all of these idols in service of returning to a mythical, yet still o…

Save Our State! Save Our Planet...

This morning’s lead editorial in the New York Times suggests that because Donald Trump and some of his ignoble appointees to Cabinet posts such as EPA, Energy, and Interior are avowed climate change deniers, that it will fall to the states to continue the hard work of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Exemplary efforts by a few states are noted, including the fact that 33 states cut emissions while still growing their economies. I think there are three crucial takeaways here: We must continue to fight the myth that environmental regulations are job killing. Quite the reverse is true, when coupled with creative ways to foster and encourage alternative energy sectors like wind and solar. Another way of putting it is that the lack of protections is killing the health of our children, of our citizens, and of the planet itself. Here in North Carolina, we must continue to stay vigilant while our state legislature and McCrory-appointed environmental officials allow our rivers to be poisoned an…

STOP CALLING HB2 THE BATHROOM BILL!

The NCGOP authors of this bill--one of the most notorious pieces of discriminatory legislation to come out of a state house since the days of Jim Crow--knew that they could use the old stereotype that LGBTQ people are sexual predators to rally support for this bill. That is shameful in and of itself, since this has been disproven time and time again, and because the assault on gay and trans rights has left those communities with numerous and debilitating social, psychological, and financial problems. These communities need our support, not further stigma. An attack on the civil rights of one single citizen is an attack on all of us.
But even that venomous smear against the character of our LGBTQ sisters and brothers dilutes other ominous provisions of the law: it ties the hands of local governments to broadly protect gay and trans rights, it specifically leaves them out of a list of groups that should be protected from discrimination, and it bans citizens from seeking redress for any b…

A Call for an Immediate Investigation

Followup to the special session disaster: I am writing reporters who covered the story BEFORE this week to call for an investigation into the NCGOP's illegal and immoral lack of transparency. Here is my message to reporters: A Call for an Immediate Investigation As a North Carolina citizen who follows the legislature closely, I am concerned and dismayed about the lack of transparency the NCGA displayed when enacting its agenda during the recent special session. You recently wrote about the possibility of court packing, which as we now know did not come to pass. In your piece, you mention the rumor and speculation about the court packing scheme. When I and other activists attempted to confront GOP representatives, they threw the idea that the rumors were “media driven” back in our faces. The only public mention of the scheme was by MItch Kokai of the John Locke Foundation, who coyly posited that while the idea was allowed under the state constitution, it was politically unlikely. …

NCGOPolitburo: A Most Undemocratic Power Grab and What YOU Can Do

In Soviet Russia, and indeed in China today, major decisions are made by a closed committee called a politburo. These groups hold all power closely, setting policy, directing the apparatus of the security and intelligence agencies, tightly controlling propaganda machines, and selecting leaders from within their ranks who rigidly adhere to the party line. In short, the politburo system is fundamentally different from our own. We have, in theory, a government of the people. Our leaders our selected not by a few, but by many, in open and fair elections. We have a free press that maintains a vigorous watch over our representatives in government to insure that those officials serve us and not their own will to power. And, brilliantly, we have an elaborate system of checks and balances that plays political actors against one another, insuring that no one group or individual gains too much control.

In a shocking display of pure, unmitigated, self-interested partisanship, the North Carolina G…

Open Letter to NC House Representative Donny Lambeth, State Senator Joyce Krawiec, and Governor Pat McCrory

To those who represent me in the state of North Carolina,

Tomorrow the legislature convenes to consider aid for Hurricane Matthew victims, a worthy cause, and "other business." The ambiguity of the last phrase troubles me deeply. I believe I speak for many when I tell you that what I crave from my elected officials above all else is transparency. The statutes governing the conduct of the General Assembly clearly state that the public must be given proper notice as to the the time, place, and business of all legislative sessions. "Other" simply does not cut it, neither in a legal nor a moral sense.

Republicans hold a super-majority in the legislature, unfairly in my view, considering the radical gerrymandering and voter suppression with which the party has engaged. Nevertheless, that does not give you the right to hold what amount to secret and closed sessions, since in all likelihood you have chosen the real agenda in private, with no consultation from the oppositi…

CALLING ALL MATRIOTS: THE WORLD NEEDS YOU!

Patriot: one who loves her country, from the Latin "patria," love of the fatherland.

Martriot: one who loves the motherland; Earth as a whole, derived from the Latin "mater," mother.

I love my country, no doubt about it. I vote, pay taxes, teach at a public school. And while Donald Trump prepares to wage war on the civil rights of millions of Americans, I want to focus our attention on the dire threat to the planet, and how the little progress we have made is about to be undone unless we act immediately, relentlessly, and forcefully, en masse, to protect the very home on which we all live inextricably connected.

Fresh assaults come daily from Trump and his transition team, while back home in North Carolina, the state GOP continues its coordinated campaign to attack voting rights, among other horrors. The calls to action go out: stop Steve Bannon, oppose Betsy DeVos and her plan to gut public schools, stop the abortion madness in Ohio. If these are your passions--a…

WHO'S GUARDING THE HEN HOUSE?

The recently decided, agonizingly long governor’s race has finally been settled in North Carolina and the state belatedly ushers in Roy Cooper, embattled before his term begins. Many observers wondered if the McCrory campaign was going to steal the election by having it "contested" and thrown into the NC statehouse for resolution, where a GOP majority would have certainly made him its choice. There may have been a movement towards that inside the McCrory camp, but we will never know. However, we must not lose sight of what the state GOP, including the governor, members of the legislature, and conservative, big money interest groups was trying to accomplish all along: delegitimize voting for a significant portion of African-American voters.
One of the most powerful weapons used by McCrory and his allies--hand-picked for the job by him--sits on the State Board of Elections itself, Rhonda Amoroso. Appointed to ostensibly ensure fair and free elections that adhere rigidly to the…

THE DONALD AND HIS TWEET NOTHINGS

The Sunday morning routine: newspaper, coffee, and dog walk, now includes watching the preceding night's Alec Baldwin Trump interpretation on SNL, and reading Trump's tweet about said performance. These reactions--this one written during the actual broadcast!--would be laughably thin-skinned if they weren't coming from the soon-to-be leader of the free world. What is the takeaway here? How should we, and the press, react to Trump's often incendiary, petulant, or bragging tweets?

It is important to see this kind of messaging in the context of Steve Bannon's Breitbart, the rise of fake/misleading/character assassinating news, the proliferation of blogs, social media tools, and cable channels, and the diminution of the power of a unified, traditional press. Why submit to conventional press briefings, with their messy Q and A sessions, when you can go straight to your core followers with a few thumb taps? A tweet is instant, and deliciously one-sided. Trump of course …

THREE CHEERS FOR CAPITALISM: GRAB 'EM BY THE WALLET!

Progressives, activists, and people of good faith horrified by the election of Donald Trump have rallied in opposition to his selection of Steve Bannon to the post of White House chief strategist, and rightly so. Bannon is the person most responsible for the reprehensible misinformation and the most egregious personal attacks we have ever seen in a campaign, and his website, Breitbart News, mouthpiece of the so-called "alt-right," is baldly and broadly bigoted. It seems inconceivable that such extreme views could be setting up shop just steps from the Oval Office.

Clever opponents are attempting to fight back against Breitbart using market-based strategites. Grab 'em by the wallet! When it was discovered that prominent brands such as Kellogg's had ads on the site, vociferous campaigns were launched demanding immediate retraction, to which Kellogg's and others swiftly complied, prompting predictable Breitbartian backlash. Each side used a time honored threat in a…