James's blog

Personal reparations

A post from my wife, Jane Brown
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She calls me her “angel,” “Mom,” or “my only friend.” I’ve asked her not to. Sometimes I’m flattered, happy to be an angel for someone. Other times I feel like it’s just part of the con – a way to get to me, a way to get the money she always so desperately needs.

I first met Mary when she was a housekeeper on campus, responsible for part of the building I worked in. She stayed late one morning to apologize for dropping my wooden horse statue out the window. She said she had opened the window to let some air in and accidentally brushed the horse out the window. It splintered on the bricks below.

I appreciated her apology. She didn’t have to own up to that. We learned each other’s names. She had a big smile and a happy sense to her even though I wondered how she made ends meet. The housekeepers had been in a fight for a living wage for years. Mary was just happy to have a job.

Some West Virginia state parks and other sights of interest

Jane and I just got back from a two-week camper van trip to West Virginia, where there are many good state parks, state forests and national parks. They're concentrated around the New River Gorge and the Allegheny mountains. For us, a "good" park means several hiking trails (preferably loops of three miles or less), campground toilets, reasonably flat campsites, and smallish. Extra credit for quiet and dark at night.

The enduring shame of Senator Thom Tillis

A columnist in today's New York Times had this to say:

To the Republican members of the United States Senate:

You have always told us that you believe in the distinctive greatness of the United States of America. “America is different,” as Senator Marco Rubio has said. Ben Sasse likes to say that “America is an idea” — a commitment to universal dignity over brute power. You have also told us that you went into politics to serve a higher purpose. Well, your moment has arrived.

The president of the United States is betraying his oath of office in the most fundamental way, by using the presidency for personal gain at the country’s expense. He has corrupted our foreign policy with grubby attempts to help himself that his own White House staff immediately recognized as improper. He is telling the world that America does not, in fact, stand for any higher ideal. Can you for a moment imagine the icons of your party, like Ronald Reagan or Dwight Eisenhower, risking the security of a country threatened by Russia, for the sake of smearing a political rival?

President Trump must go, and you — only you — have the power to make it happen.

What's remarkable about the column is that it mentions a half-dozen Senators by name, Senators who, the columnist hopes, will have a sense of duty to country. Neither North Carolina Senator made the list.

Pandering Dan Forest promises to do something that's already done

Dan Forest is out and about today, flacking his new plan to make North Carolina the most military friendly state in the nation. It's a big deal, he says. Just the thing that we need given that his hero, Cadet Bonespurs, seems committed to never-ending war. Just one problem. Governor Cooper is miles ahead.

Dan Forest claims he built his political career on positive ground

For a guy who has done basically nothing his whole career, Dan Forest sure does like to talk about himself. Just yesterday he was chatting with his own private PR machine to extol his own virtues as a man who's built his political career on positive ground. Let's break it down.

Strange times: Should the NC Supreme Court get involved in veto-gate?

Depending on whom you talk to and when, North Carolina is

a. on the cusp of a constitutional crisis
b. an object lesson in how to cheat and get away with it
d. yes, and then some

No matter what you call it, these are strange times. A week ago, a trial court declared the districts that gave us the current legislature to be illegal and ordered new maps. This was an extraordinary ruling, appropriate to extraordinary circumstances. The GOP legislature began cheating out of the blocks, using forbidden maps to guide their work. The court will need to intervene again.

And this week, our illegally constituted Republican assembly has used deception and trickery to override the governor's veto. It's brass-knuckled politics, straight from the party of Trump. Maybe not criminal, definitely sleazy. So now what.

First and foremost, uphold the veto in the Senate. It's going to be a close vote, with every Republican voting to cheat.

Next, litigation, Take Tim Moore to court, even if we stop things in the Senate.

Scott Cooper running strong

One campaign I've been following closely is the Cooper-Holding Congressional race in NC2. Lots of people think Holding is one of the most vulnerable members of the US House, including me. That's why I've been supporting Scott Cooper since I first heard he's running. The fact that we both graduated from the US Naval Academy is just icing on the cake.

Here's some campaign material I got from Scott this morning. Give it a look, and help if you can: www.cooperfornc.com

Republicans want to buy you for 34 cents a day. Tell them "no."

Here's an action you can take ... courtesy of WRAL:

When it comes to North Carolina’s budget surplus, here are some numbers the legislature’s leadership doesn’t want you to understand:

  • $17,680 a day – That’s the per diem ($104 to every member of the General Assembly) we spend while Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore procrastinate to block a vote sustaining Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the state budget.
  • 34 cents a day – That’s what each taxpayer gets (if extended over a year) under the $640 million scheme Berger and Moore announced to send 5.1 million taxpayers checks for $125.
  • $5.6 million -- That’s the ADDED COST Berger and Moore didn’t mention to do all this. It takes $2.8 million to process the checks and another $2.8 million for first-class postage.

We all know there are far better ways to spend this money and we want our legislators to be careful stewards of the state. That means making sure our tax dollars are spent to make our state healthy, educated and prosperous. These leaders have confessed, to The New York Times, that “we simply don’t have the money” to meet many of those obligations.

Prepare for the worst

Dan Forest with his tRump Bonespurs asking, where's my golden shower?

Next Saturday, August 17, Photo Opportunist Dan Forest will officially launch his campaign for governor. We say "officially" because running for governor is pretty much all Dan Forest has done since he was elected to the least relevant job in state government. Week in and week out, Forest slimes around the state, getting his picture taken by lily white interns standing next to people who seldom realize they're being mugged.

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