Sunday, July 2, 2017


By Cash Michaels

            WE’RE PAYING THE PRICE -  If you were among the five million in North Carolina last November who voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton for president, congratulations. I hope you’re happy, because you’ve officially elected a nut-job to preside over all of us for the net three-and-a-half years ( though many suggest that at the rate he’s going, Trump won’t last that long).
            Let’s face it, Donald trump’s behavior has always been one taco short of a combination plate, but within the past two weeks, the word “bizarre” comes to mind when thinking about the way the 45th president of the United States has been acting.
            By now everyone knows about, and have shaken their heads off over Trump’s crude and sexist tweets about MSNBC personality Mika Brezinski, and the apparently false allegation that she had a facelift that was “bleeding” when she and boyfriend Joe Scarborough (also her MSNBC cohost on “Morning Joe”) visited Trump a few months ago at his Mar-a-lago retreat in Palm Beach.
            And of course, in followup tweets, the president called her “dumb as a rock” and other stuff that’s beneath the dignity of the high office that he was inexplicably elected to.
            Then, last Sunday, the man seemingly loses it completely, tweeting out a 2007 video of him fake clobbering World Wrestling Entertainment Pres. Vince McMahon outside of a ring, but superimposing the CNN insignia over McMahon’s face, making it look like he is actually beating up a major cable news organization.
            It was no surprise when folks began accusing Trump of trying to incite violence against the press. And now CNN, and other news organizations, are very concerned about the safety of their personnel.
            And should be.
            MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow said last week that what Trump is actually doing is trying to distract his critics from the fact that things really aren’t getting done by his White House. Republican repeal and replace of Obamacare has virtually collapsed. Though the US Supreme Court has partially upheld his travel ban against several Muslim nations, it’s not the clear and “total” legal victory he boasts it is.
            Tremendous heat is being brought to bare over the federal investigation into possible Trump campaign collusion with the Russians  in last year’s presidential campaign. And diehard Trump-lovers are looking stupider and stupider for supporting a failed lunatic who has clearly lost his mind to the point that no one trusts the fact that he has his finger on the nuclear button.
            So yes, we are ALL paying a very big price, indeed. A wise man once said elections do have consequences. The idea is that you know what those consequences are in advance, and then try your best to turn out your folks at the polls on Election Day so that those consequences never come to past.
            Now I’ll admit, even I thought that ole Trump would calm down somewhat after taking the oath of office. Sure I expected him to do a lot of things I just won’t like, but I did not expect that he would lose his marbles in the process.
            Nor did you, quite frankly.
            So now the only ones who could put Trump out of business are his fellow Republicans in Congress…that is if the Robert Mueller investigation doesn’t do it first.
            Bottomline is our nation’s leader and the most powerful man on the planet is running amok, and teaching us important lessons in the process.
            I hope we’re paying close attention. And I certainly hope that we all survive this perilous episode in American history, and collectively vow to make sure that it never happens again.

By Cash Michaels
contributing writer

            Before the NC General Assembly adjourned its long session last Friday, Republican legislative leaders House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate Pro-tem Phil Berger were asked in writing why they cut a proposed $200,000 from the compromise $23 billion budget for the African-American “Freedom Monument” project slated for the state Capitol grounds, and instead earmarked $5 million – 25 times as much – to a new $65 million NC Civil War Museum in Fayetteville, scheduled to open in 2020.
            Neither Moore or Berger responded to the written requests for comment sent to their offices one day before both houses of the legislature adjourned.
            The only Republican lawmaker who did respond to the press inquiry was one of the budget-writers, state Rep. Donny Lambeth [R-Forsyth], but that was to say that only Moore or Berger could answer.
            “This was negotiated after the full [committee] chairs finished all the budget work that was asked of us.  I can see if I can get you a statement from the Speaker,” Lambeth emailed back, but no statement from Speaker Moore was forthcoming.
The museum, or “center” as it is normally referred by its Winston-Salem-based fundraiser, has already raised approximately $27 million – all but $7 million from government funding from Fayetteville, Cumberland County, and now the state legislature.
When completed, it will replace the current Museum of the Cape Fear, a state –owned, state supported facility.
            The Freedom Monument, planning for which began in Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration, would also be a state-owned, state-funded memorial. After various hearings were held about the project across the state, a summary report was written for the advisory committee of the  NC Historical Commission and the NC African American Heritage Commission.
            The draft summary of that report said that, “Schoolchildren, it should be remembered, are a prime audience, as they constitute a major segment of the visitors to the Capitol. “
“The monument should make an impact on all visitors, young people included,” the draft report continued. “The monument is intended for all citizens, not solely for African Americans. The monument should present a public face to newcomers and should encapsulate the African American experience in North Carolina. It is the intent of the sponsoring bodies that the monument should be historical and commemorative in nature. While it must be aesthetically pleasing, it should complement other monuments on the grounds and be grounded in North Carolina history”
The Freedom Monument project is now without public funding as originally proposed last March by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper in his budget.
 A spokesperson for the NC Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources, which oversees the project along with both commissions, said Gov. Cooper’s proposed appropriation was to complete the planning and design on the monument Gov. McCrory once said was an “…appropriate way to recognize the contributions of African- Americans to North Carolina’s history… “
The project now has no timeline or appropriation, “but we are moving forward,” the NCDNCR spokesperson assured.
Ironically, the primary fundraiser for the NC Civil War Center, David Winslow of The Winslow Group, said, “Some of the same volunteers who are working on the monument project are also working with [us], and I know they were disappointed.”
Winslow continued that he heard that Gov. Cooper “…is committed to finding the $200,000 from the budget. So I hope they will be able to proceed ahead sooner rather than later.”
According to a 2015 report, there are 230 Civil War monuments in North Carolina “outnumbering state monuments commemorating any other event.”
Perhaps the tallest Confederate Monument in North Carolina is directly in front of the State Capitol Building in Raleigh, dedicated in May, 1895 and towering 75 feet facing Hillsborough Street. Costing $22,000, the legislature appropriated $20,000 towards the project.
One of the prominent figures to help dedicate that monument was Alfred M. Waddell – a former Confederate colonel, and one of the white supremacist leaders of the 1898 Wilmington race massacre.
In contrast, the number of African-American monuments North Carolina has statewide, according to – just 33.
The elimination of funding for the Freedom Monument only reinforced the bad taste Democrats and others already had for a bruising legislative session where the Republican majority, without apology, imposed their will on a Democratic governor they vowed to show little regard for.
“I’m troubled that Republican legislative leaders neglected to fund an African American heritage monument on State Capitol grounds,” Gov. Cooper said in a statement. “This monument is long overdue, which is why I prioritized it in my budget proposal. This is just another example of legislative Republicans with the wrong priorities.”
Noting that the GOP decision to scrub the funding for the Freedom Monument was “disappointing,” Sen. Paul Lowe (D-Forsyth) opined,” The General Assembly should be leading the way in showing that North Carolina is committed to progress and celebrates the rich history of African-Americans.”
“Instead, my Republican colleagues have once again decided to ignore the history of the people they serve. I hope that we are able to find common ground to fund a project that is long overdue,” Sen. Lowe concluded.
Non-elected officials, however, did not spare the rod.
Duke University Prof. of Public Policy Dr. William Darity, Jr. bluntly said, “ We are living in a moment where we are getting a glimpse of what life would have been like under a Confederate States of America.”
Picking up from Prof. Darity’s clue of an Old South mentality at work in the legislature, civil rights attorney All McSurely, who is white, said, “The Berger-Moore secret white caucus recognizes its days are numbered. Their politics, based on abject denial of the effects of southern systems of racism and poverty… have cruelly punished black and white poor and working people across North Carolina and the South. They apparently have convinced themselves that the 30-35% base of "white" voters, if they can just curry their votes with racial code-words and policies, will keep them in power forever.”
Finally, NCNAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber, outraged by the Republican-led legislature’s overall policies towards the poor and communities of color, called GOP rule “…illegal and out of control.”
“Whether it’s the regressive budget or denying health care or voter suppression, this legislature is out of touch with democratic principles and our deepest moral values. With every action, they expose their love for failed policies of the past and their desire to take North Carolina backwards,” Rev. Barber said.

by Cash Michaels
contributing writer

            Noting that the NC Republican legislative leadership is “dragging their feet” about doing anything that would fairly represent voters when it comes to redistricting, Congresswoman Alma Adams says they frankly “don’t give a damn about these citizens.”
            “They see it as a disadvantage to themselves; they won’t do it,” Adams (D-NC-13) said in a telephone interview recently, referring to redrawing legislative voting districts in time for a special election this year.
Prior to adjourning the recent long session early last Friday, GOP leaders announced that the legislature will reconvene in August and September to take up unfinished business like overriding Gov. Cooper’s vetoes, passing laws that didn’t meet the deadline, redrawing judicial districts, and responding to the four straight US Supreme Court decisions GOP lawmakers lost regarding voting rights and legislative redistricting.
But one of the issues House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro-tem Phil Berger ( R- Rockingham) apparently have no intention of entertaining when the NC General Assembly reconvenes in August is establishing an independent, nonpartisan redistricting commission that, starting in 2020, would redraw legislative and Congressional voting districts without undue partisan influence.
Speaker Moore (R-Cleveland County) has said he opposes the independent commission because it would not be directly accountable to the voters since members would be chosen by both Republicans and Democrats. Sen. Berger just doesn’t like the idea, and has done everything in his chamber to even stop the issue from coming up.
A bill introduced to establish an independent commission was sent to committee over a month ago, but never got a hearing. Two weeks ago, when a Democratic senator tried to have the bill heard and voted on, Republican opponents used a special procedure forcing him to wait ten days just to have his motion considered.
The legislature adjourned before the ten-day period expired.
A spokesperson for Sen. Berger issued a statement, which said in part, “Regardless of [the senator’s] political stunt, the courts have not yet given the legislature direction on redistricting, and we will be prepared to undertake a thorough redistricting process with ample notice and opportunities for public input when they do.”
“We have to have an independent commission,” Rep. Adams declared. “We have seen over the years, regardless of who is in control – Democrats or Republicans – that we have not gotten it right. For us to have the kind of [voting district] imbalance we have right now, with thirteen members of Congress from North Carolina – only three Democrats and ten Republicans – that is not reflective of our state. Our state is more balanced than that. We almost have a 50-50 Democrat/Republican [voter] makeup.”
But it’s because of how the Republicans, the party in charge,  redrew the district lines in 2011 that more GOP’ers are able to get elected than Democrats in the state. Thus far, the US Supreme Court has frowned on the outcome.
On June 7th, the state’s only three Democratic congresspeople – representatives Adams, G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-12) and David Price (D-NC-4), wrote a letter to both Moore and Berger, “…urging them to increase access to the ballot box by establishing an independent redistricting commission and refraining from creating any new voter ID laws that contribute to voter suppression,” according to a press release.
“At a time when we should be making it easier for all eligible Americans to participate in our democracy, General Assembly Republicans used unconstitutional redistricting and voter ID legislation for political gain,” said Congressman Price. “These efforts to suppress the minority vote violate our nation’s hard-fought commitment to equal protection and voting rights, and I strongly condemn them. The time has come for Speaker Moore and Senator Berger to put a stop to these shameful tactics and for the state to put in place reforms that will ensure fair elections in North Carolina.”
Apparently Moore and Berger weren’t impressed, however, rejecting the Democratic request outright, and accusing Adams, Butterfield and Price of “showboating” with the letter, instead of just picking up the phone, she said.
“They don’t give a damn about these citizens,” an exasperated Adams said, “and they’re not fooling me at all. I’ve worked with them, and I can tell you, they don’t care.”
“Sometimes you have to put things before the public, and sometimes the public needs to understand what’s going on,” Rep. Adams continued. “People have got to understand that when we go to the polls to vote,…we have got to make sure that we have a legislature [that represents the true makeup of the people] the next time around, because we may not get an independent  commission.”



            [WINSTON-SALEM] Because the victims of North Carolina’s sterilization program were required to be alive as of 2013, heirs of many of the deceased 7600 victims of the eugenics program that began in 1929 and ended in 1974 are not eligible for compensation, a state court ruled. Descendants of those victims have now decided not to appeal that ruling. The NC legislature decided to compensate the surviving victims several years ago, and 213 of them received checks from the state. The heirs of those survivors qualified, but no one else. A final check is scheduled once the appeals have ended.
            [RALEIGH] North Carolina will comply with a request from Pres. Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, even though at least 25 other states have refused to do so. The commission seeks information about individual voters, apparently because the president believes that millions of undocumented aliens voted against him last November, giving opponent Democrat Hillary Clinton the popular vote count. North Carolina will only supply public information about individual voters which can already be found online. A former Obama Administration official says the goal of the request is voter suppression by Trump.

            Before the NC General Assembly adjourned its long session last Friday morning, Republicans in the state House announced that they would seek to impeach longtime Democrat NC Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, alleging that her office had commissioned non-citizens to become notary publics. Marshall has denied any malfeasance and says her office can prove it. Republicans vow to take up the issue when they reconvene in August.



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