Monday, July 31, 2017


By Cash Michaels

HOW FAR WE’VE FALLEN - A few weeks ago we wrote about the controversy stirred up when Bishop William Barber ( yes, he’s been promoted), president of the NCNAACP, criticized the right wing evangelicals who recently went to the White House, and laid hands on Pres. Trump, effectively praying for him to continue doing what he’s doing.
Barber pretty much said that given the evil Trump has been directly responsible for since taking office (not to mention the evil he was knee deep in before he even ran for office), any minister of GOD worth his/her salt should be praying that Almighty GOD correct Trump’s crooked, corrupted heart, NOT bless them. Given that during the election, Trump won the lion’s share of the evangelical vote, followed now by equally strong support from evangelical Christians now that he’s president, the question must be asked, “Why?”
Keep in mind that these folks have every right to support anyone they choose politically. But also note that we’ve seen the true colors of some of these right-wing preachers before - namely when Pres. Barack Obama was in office.
And it wasn’t pretty.
Let’s start with one of the biggest - Rev. Franklin Graham.
The son of the powerful, legendary evangelist Billy Graham (who admittedly kept his mouth shut during the civil rights movement), Franklin Graham is as right-wing as you get. Again, that’s his right. But that also tells us how he sees GOD - through his own warped sense of conservative “decency.”
Thus, on the exploding issue of transgender American citizens serving in the US armed forces, something that Trump unceremoniously announced he would order it stopped, Rev. Graham said, “He’s exactly right. And I’m proud that we have a president who sees and understands the truth."
That was a direct slap at former President Obama, who did order that all Americans, regardless of their sexual identification, be allowed to serve their country, as long as their personal preferences don’t disrupt the operation of the military.
Seems sensible enough. But Franklin Graham had it in for Obama from the very beginning. Like when he said that Obama “may be secretly a Muslim” and only started attending Christian church to bolster his political career. Or when he bashed the president for issuing a decree that transgender students be allowed to use the bathroom of their choice in public schools without discrimination. Graham didn’t like that at all.
And please don’t forget when Graham told a conservative TV host, “…the policies that [Obama] has stood behind as president have been against Christ and against His teachings.”
But at least Rev. Graham never called for the “death” of Pres. Obama publicly (at least I can’t find any evidence of it). But other right-wing pastors have.
Baptist Minister Wiley Drake (former second Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention) said on June 2, 2009 that “…unless Obama repents, he is praying for God to kill him…” because of the president’s stand on abortion. 
Then in August 2009, Pastor Steven Anderson raised eyebrows when delivered a sermon titled, “Why I Hate Barack Obama” and asked his congregation to join him in praying for the president’s death. “I hope that God strikes Barack Obama with brain cancer so he can die like Ted Kennedy, and I hope it happens today," Pastor Anderson told a local Fox-TV affiliate in Phoenix, Arizona.
For the record, Anderson’s church drew a large number of protesters who didn’t appreciate his ungodly request.
A few years ago, Daily Beast writer John Avlon authored a piece titled, “Praying for Obama’s Death,” where he wrote, in part, “…Praying for President Obama’s death has become a sick cottage industry for some evangelicals on the lunatic fringe. Bumper stickers, T-shirts, and teddy bears are sold with the wholesome-sounding slogan “Pray for Obama” but tagged with the more troublesome “Psalm 109:8”—which reads “May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership” followed by “May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.”
“If you have an evil leader above you, you pray that Satan will stand by his side and you ask God to make his children fatherless,” the article continued.
Now last I learned, Barack Obama was a principled man and faithful  husband, with a loving wife, two daughters, a dog named “Bo,” and a frequent churchgoer. Yes, as president, he believed in freedom of choice, same-sex marriage between two consenting adults.
And for this, some right-wing preachers literally prayed for Obama’s death.
Meanwhile Donald Trump is a racist playboy who married three times, was accused of raping one of his wives, has been accused of sexually harassing multiple women, was cited by the federal government for denying apartments to African-Americans, lied about Barack Obama not being born in America, and has been a proven liar about just about everything else in his orbit.
And yet, because Trump is seen as rich and powerful, right-wing evangelicals will forgive him any sin, any crime, because they believe as long as he’s in office, they can get whatever laws they want passed.
They’re willing to put up with his crooked foolishness for their own unjustified ends.
No wonder they’re praying for his success. Trump’s success, is their success.
But not necessarily America’s, and there’s plenty of proof on the table to cinch that.
So, just because a preacher says he ‘knows” GOD, doesn’t mean anything if they can’t utter a word about tending to the poor, the sick and the weak. If the only “sins” these clowns can muster lather over are abortion and one’s sexual orientation, and not the pure evil we see every day coming out of the White House, then that tells you everything you need to know about right-wing “fake” ministers.
Pray for them, for they know not what they do!


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

The outgoing president of the NC NAACP calls the Republican-led legislature being forced to redraw its unconstitutional legislative voting maps by Sept. 1st “a major victory.”
“Forcing the legislature to redraw lines with mandatory court overview is a major victory,” Bishop ayWilliam Barber, said in a statement after a three-judge US District court panel ruled Monday that the NC General Assembly had to redraw 28 of 170 legislative districts from the 2011 redistricting map  because of racial gerrymandering.
“[This is] more reason why the General Assembly should not pass anymore legislation because they are an unconstitutionally constituted racially created legislature that fundamentally violates our democratic principles.”
Indeed, the plaintiffs in Covington v. North Carolina were  certainly hoping that judges James Wynn and Catherine Eagles  (both Obama appointees), and Thomas Schroeder (a George W. Bush appointee) –  which heard arguments last week in Greensboro, would rule not only that the districts must be redrawn immediately, especially since state lawmakers are back in special session starting today, but that special elections would be held on March 6th, 2018.
The judicial panel, however, decided against ordering a special election, saying that it was too late for it to be conducted prior to the regularly scheduled 2018 mid-term election in November of next year.
That’s exactly what Republican legislative leaders wanted, and most political analysts expected, even though plaintiffs made a strong argument for a special election to happen.
The GOP also wanted to wait until Nov. 15th to produce new redistricting maps, saying that they needed the extra time to holding public hearings, but the three-judge panel clearly was buying that argument during last week’s hearing.
“We agree with Plaintiffs that the General Assembly already has had ample time to enact a remedial redistricting plan,” stated judged Eagles, Wynn and Schroeder in their unanimous ruling Monday. “We also agree that constitutionally adequate districts should be enacted as quickly as possible to protect the rights of North Carolina citizens and to minimize any chilling effect on political participation attributable to the continued absence of a districting plan in the face of a finding of unconstitutional racial gerrymandering.”
Republican legislative leaders have one week after enacting the new maps to submit them to the court to review, along with any supporting documentation. Plaintiffs then have until Sept. 15th to file any challenges and objections to the remedied maps, and to submit they own redistricting plans.
State lawmakers say that even though 28 legislative districts have been ruled unconstitutional per the 2011 redistricting map, all 170 House and Senate districts may have to be redrawn in order to make sure that all of them are in compliance because of needed boundary adjustments.
Allison Riggs, senior attorney at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which represented plaintiffs in the case, said in a statement Monday, “The court’s decision affirms the urgency with which we must address this wrong committed against North Carolina voters”
“Despite operating as an unconstitutional body, the General assembly tried to delay redrawing maps until Nov. 15th.  This prompt redrawing will allow North Carolinians to at least rest assured, knowing which districts they will be living in come the November 2018 elections, and that the federal court will be reviewing the remedial plans closely to ensure they’re legal.”
One thing was evident, however, during the three-hour federal court hearing last week – judges Wynn and Eagles made it clear they suspected GOP lawmakers were deliberately dragging their feet to remedy the matter in order to put potential Democratic challengers at a disadvantage prior to the 2018 elections.
“What concerns me is the seriousness at how this is being taken by the General Assembly,” Judge Wynn said. “This is serious.”
“We want to feel that you’re moving on this,” Wynn added, suggesting to Phillip Strach, attorney for the state, the defendants, that the court could appoint a special master to oversee redrawing the districts if Republican lawmakers dragged their feet further.
“You don’t seem serious,” Judge Eagles bluntly said to attorney Strach, who countered that just the day before GOP legislative leaders appointed a new redistricting committee in hopes to have new maps drawn by November. 
Strach added that hearings across the state had to be held, and that’s why redrawing the districts couldn’t happen in just two weeks.
But a very skeptical Judge Eagles swasn’t buying it, snapping back that “…you’ve created this problem by not doing anything over the last year,” she said. “That’s the legislature’s fault.”
That three-judge federal panel ruled in August 2016 that the 2011 maps were unconstitutional because Republicans deliberately “stacked-and-packed,” or racially gerrymandered black Democratic voters in 28 counties in order to lessen their election influence.
Republican legislative leaders later appealed that ruling to the US Supreme Court, only to have the High Court affirm the ruling in June, but question whether holding special elections was appropriate, thus sending the case back to the lower court.
In their late ruling Monday evening the three-judge panel also ordered that a one-year North Carolina residency requirement be waived for citizens to run in the Nov. 2018 mid-term legislative elections.
NCGOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse was not pleased with that part of the ruling, later tweeting, “Greatly concerned that three judge panel is nullifying the Constitutional residency requirements for General Assembly.”
But no only did Rep. Craig Meyer (D-Durham, Orange), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus have no problem with tweeted that not having a special election was fine because it gave prospective democratic candidates more time to prepare and fundraise for the 2018 elections. 
He also sent out a fundraising letter Monday evening saying in part, “When Republicans unconstitutionally gerrymandered legislative maps in 2011, they gave themselves an unprecedented advantage in every election since and you've seen the damage they have done with their majority. New maps will wipe that advantage away and help us break the majority.
NCNAACP  Pres. Bishop Barber further blasted the GOP, saying that power, for them, is the name of the game.
The sad truth …that must be tied is [Republican legislative leaders] used racist tactics to get power and then used that power to deny health care, living wages, rights for the LGBTQ community, etc., which meant the people hurt the most in raw numbers were the poor and working poor whites.”
The House Redistricting Committee is scheduled to meet again on Friday.

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

With the Republican-led legislature reconvening today for the first of two special sessions, there are concerns that part of the agenda beyond overriding Gov. Cooper’s vetoes, redrawing legislative voting maps, and tinkering with judicial districts, will be to pass another law designed restrict voter access to the polls.
“A new voter suppression bill is coming soon,” warned Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy NC, a nonpartisan public policy advocacy group, in a mass email to supporters last week
“They’ve also been threatening for months to revive provisions of the 2013  Monster Voting Law, including a new photo ID bill that will target certain North Carolinians, harm eligible voters,  and trigger more costly litigation.”
Though GOP legislative leaders haven’t laid out exactly what they’ll be introducing, they’ve been sending strong signals ever since the US Supreme Court last May refused to take up the unconstitutionality of the 2013 voter ID law, thus leaving a 2016 US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the measure targeted African-American voters for suppression with “almost surgical precision” in place.
“We can only wonder if the intent is to reopen the door for voter fraud…said Senate Pro tem Pres. Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore in an issued reaction.
When the US High Court affirmed the lower court ruling in May, Berger and Moore “…said North Carolina residents can bet that GOP legislators will keep fighting, reported the Associated Press then. “The leaders of the Republican-dominated General Assembly want to implement what they call a "commonsense requirement" to show a photo ID when voting.”
Even former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, apparently still smarting from losing a close reelection bid to Democrat Roy Cooper, pushed for a new voter ID law in June while speaking at the NC Republican Convention.
“I know for a fact that we had a lot of noncitizens that were voting,” McCrory told the crowd of delegates. “Ladies and gentlemen, voter ID would have stopped it. Keep it a clean bill, stay with a voter ID law and get that passed.”
Between now and the second scheduled special session next month, Democratic lawmakers and voting rights activists fully expect to Republicans in the House and Senate act on McCrory’s advice.
“I hear the same,” says state Rep. Evelyn Terry (D-Forysth).
I am extremely concerned about HB 717 judicial maps that force force district court judges of the same political party to compete in a primary. That equates to worse. It is called double bunking.”
Rep. Terry concluded, “Next week is for show as much as anything.”
“We fully expect this legislature that [Bishop] Barber called “unconstitutionally constituted” to continue to do all they can to maintain power, said Forsyth County NAACP Pres. Rev. Alvin Carlisle. “ This extremist legislature fully understands that fair elections will mean an end to their tyrannical reign. We must continue to utilize the judicial process to secure fair voting maps for North Carolinians. The continued efforts of the powerful to silence the voice of the masses continues to paint NC in a negative light.”
Rep. Cecil Brockman (D – Guilford) agrees.
“As of now I have not seen any legislation regarding voter ID for the upcoming session. However, this discriminatory practice—aimed to keep black citizens from voting—has already been struck down once in our courts,” Rep. Brockman said. “It would be insulting and unnecessary for this to be brought up again. Lawmakers should oppose any new voter ID bill and focus on ensuring free and fair elections.” 


[DURHAM] Two North Carolina Republican congressmen are reportedly refusing to join First District G. K. Butterfield, a Democrat, in cosponsoring his bill to rename the US Post Office and federal building in downtown Durham after John Hervey Wheeler, one-time president of Mechanics and Farmers Bank, because he previously refused to back their bill to name another federal building in the state after controversial North Carolina US Senator Jesse Helms. 
Butterfield says congressmen George Holding and Robert Pittinger are the only two from the North Carolina congressional delegation who have refused to cosponsor his Wheeler bill. When asked why he would not back the Helms naming bill, Butterfield replied, ““Senator Jesse Helms was repugnant. He demonstrated racist behavior and imposed on North Carolina an image that we have yet to recover from.”
A spokesperson for Rep. Holding said the federal building to be named after Helms is in his district, and naming it should be “his choice.”
John Wheeler was not only head of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, but also a personal mentor to a young G. K. Butterfield during the mid-1960s.
Rep. Butterfield’s bill is currently in the US. House committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. If it is voted out of committee, it goes to the House floor, and if passed there, on to the US Senate for ratification.

[OCRAKOKE] A class action lawsuit has been filed against the construction company that accidentally damaged the power lines leading to Ocrakoke and Hatteras islands last week, causing massive power outages, and forcing thousands of tourists to evacuate, businesses to close, and vacation plans cancelled. Two owners of vacation rentals are suing PCL Construction, saying that their properties have been “negatively impacted” a a result. Gov. Cooper has declared a state of emergency on the southern end of the Outer Banks. Repair crews say it could at least a week before the damage is fixed and power is restored. Gov. Cooper said the state will see if the revenue lost to the businesses can be reimbursed.

[CHAPEL HILL] Saying that the UNC Center for Civil Rights is “a school, not a law firm,” a committee of the all-Republican UNC Board of Governors voted 5-1, with one abstention, to ban the center from litigating any further cases or provide legal advice. The center, started by the late civil rights attorney Julius Chambers, often represents the poor in cases involving government. The center is privately funded, but Republicans want the litigation service stopped, saying that the school should not act as a law firm. Supporters of the center say it provides an important service to the community, especially those in need of legal representation. The full board is scheduled to consider the issue at it’s Sept. 8th meeting.

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