Republican bullies

Ban on assault rifles fails in Virginia Legislature

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We've apparently gone too far in the wrong direction to fix this:

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's push to ban the sale of assault weapons has failed after members of his own party balked at the proposal. Senators voted to shelve the bill for the year and ask the state crime commission to study the issue, an outcome that drew cheers from a committee room packed with gun advocates.

Four moderate Democrats joined Republicans in Monday's committee vote, rejecting legislation that would have prohibited the sale of certain semiautomatic firearms, including popular AR-15 style rifles, and banned the possession of magazines that hold more than 12 rounds.

Look, I believe in open government, and not doing the public's business behind closed doors. But these 2nd Amendment folks push their intimidation tactics right up to the edge (and beyond) when dealing with elected officials, and when committee members are outnumbered 4-1 in a relatively small chamber that intimidation becomes more than just an academic exercise. If you doubt that just ask Lee Carter:

Notes from the Kakistocracy: Meadows oozing into Chief of Staff position

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Yes, the Trump administration can get more incompetent:

When it comes to filling the chief of staff role after the impeachment dust settles, Trump has suggested his first choice remains retiring Rep. Mark Meadows, sources familiar with the talks said. During Thursday's post-acquittal speech, Trump thanked Meadows at length for his support during the impeachment proceedings and called him "an extraordinary guy" and "very special."

Meadows, in turn, was the only other person who spoke during the President's address -- rising from his seat in the audience to praise Trump. "I just wanted to say that this reflection today is a small reflection of the kind of support you have all across the country," Meadows said. "We've got your back."

And there goes my gag reflex. With the prospect of Meadows being in charge of pretty much everybody who works in the White House, now is as good a time as any to remind people of his lack of concern and leadership when his own office was a stalking ground for a serial sexual harasser:

Mark Meadows: The anatomy of a brown-noser

Being a towel-boy for Trump must be exhausting:

“Congressman Meadows is in regular contact with the White House and the president’s legal team and is a crucial ally who amplifies the president’s views and the president’s case to the American people,” said a source familiar with his involvement, who added that Meadows has been to the White House at least once in the last week.

The White House counsel’s office and Meadows and his staff are also in touch by phone. Meadows has made multiple media appearances, a willing interview at a time when many senators are avoiding the press. He went on Fox News on Thursday morning, accusing House Democrats of “intentionally misleading” the American people about Trump’s actions.

We should probably start ignoring Meadows, since he's not running to keep his seat this year. Way too many other moles to whack. But when I see crap like this:

River Wars? Landowner posts "no trespassing" signs across Mills River

It's just like a public road, anybody can use it:

Ray Bryson complained that a private fishing club was limiting access to the river. Eddie Ingle delivered a written statement that said the rope across the river is a “form of harassment, may be dangerous to boaters and technically is a ‘gate.’”

Phil Brittain, a resident who lives at the confluence of the north and south branches of the Mills River and who spoke at the meeting, told CPP that he was “surprised and shocked” by the “no-trespassing” posting. “The river has always been seen to be held in common and has been looked after by the community,” he said.

This reminds me of the (mostly Republican) opposition to Obama's Waters of the U.S. rule expanding the Federal government's oversight of water resources. The main goal of that was to protect water quality by limiting pollution and runoff in areas previously not under control, which of course was viewed as a Big Government Grab (or whatever). But let's set that aside for a minute and look at some ethical issues that frequently come up in local government:

Nut-job Tim D'Annunzio ran Facebook ads outing alleged whistleblower

Part of Trump's idiotic propaganda machine:

A North Carolina businessman and failed congressional candidate, Tim D’Annunzio, gained as many as 200,000 impressions on a pair of ads that provided the supposed name of the whistleblower. He promoted the posts using a personal page titled “Message,” targeting “people who are Christian-related, who have Christian interests,” he said in an interview.

D’Annunzio said he first came across the name of the supposed whistleblower in a Gateway Pundit article. “And then it started to pop up in other places, where it’s obvious he’s the guy,” he said.

Those of you who are not long-time BlueNC readers may not be aware of this dude, but here's a quote from his failed Congressional effort back in 2010:

Dale Folwell is not a "friend" of state employees

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Friends don't try to get your children booted off your health insurance:

Since he took office in 2017, Folwell has repeatedly advanced or acquiesced to policies that would ultimately reduce the number of people on the SHP rolls. In May of 2017, for example, state employees received an email and letter sent via “junk mail” rate postage instructing them to resubmit a copy of the first page of their tax returns, or children’s birth certificates in order to prove they are not fraudulently covering spouses or dependents under the SHP.

After receiving the letter, I for one thought that it was a scam since it had all the telltale signs, and I had already recently submitted my tax return to prove that my children are my children, and are eligible to be covered on my plan. Folwell’s letter said I had to submit copies of their birth certificates by July 31 through an online portal, or my children would be removed from my health insurance plan on August 1. Six hundred people were removed from the SHP for the rest of 2017. Of that number, how many were actually fraudulent?

In a sane world, the employees' union would have pushed back on that, and made sure that nobody (or their children) fell through the cracks. But "sane" and "SEANC" probably shouldn't be used in the same sentence. Tweets I saw back then were completely supportive of Folwell's "fraud" claims, and SEANC's website itself published Folwell's entire statement with no comments or rebuttal:

Stifling dissent: WUNC-TV set to cancel NC Spin

And once again, this behavior is usually associated with 3rd world dictatorships:

After almost 22 years on the air, the political debate show “NC Spin” will end on UNC-TV after its contract is up this year. Tom Campbell, the show’s founder and host, told The News & Observer this week that he learned of the decision in an email from UNC-TV’s interim director Kevin Fitzgerald last Friday.

Campbell thinks the show was essentially canceled because it had been critical of the UNC Board of Governors and its treatment of former UNC System presidents Tom Ross and Margaret Spellings, former UNC-Chapel Hill chancellor Carol Folt and former East Carolina University chancellor Cecil Staton.

While there may have been an occasional controversial statement made by guests on the show, Tom Campbell has managed (well) to keep it balanced and informative. The truth is, the UNC BOG has made many questionable decisions, and has operated in a plainly partisan fashion on more than one occasion. Talking about that isn't "out of line," it's something everybody involved with UNC should be doing, from students to professors to alumni, and all points in-between. And to get rid of Tom's show while keeping this one:

Public mood is trending more Liberal in the wake of Trumpism

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For all you "too far left" naysayers, chew on this:

Democrats worry that they’ll nominate a presidential candidate who’s too liberal to win a general election, but liberal policies are what the majority of Americans want now. That’s the intriguing finding of an analysis by UNC professor emeritus James Stimson, a leading figure in American public opinion research.

In announcing his most recent analysis, Stimson wrote: “The annual estimate for 2018 is the most liberal ever recorded in the 67-year history of Mood, just slightly higher than the previous high point of 1961.”

I'm sure many of the Old Guard (Rob C) would/will tell us this is a predictable swing based on who is in the White House, and that is surely a contributing factor. But I believe it's also a trend that will continue, as Millennials get more politically active and Gen Z hit the voting age. That's why it's critical we focus our GOTV efforts at those younger folks, who are much less prone to fall for the Right's constantly re-hashed "tax cuts spur job creation!" and "government regulation is bad!" mantras. Here's more on the Presidential effect:

NC GOP has put DHHS in the crosshairs

And Secretary Mandy Cohen has had quite enough:

Cohen has spent a lot of time at the legislative building in Raleigh this week, working the halls and talking to budget writers about her qualms with the budget. She’s also been making media appearances to reiterate her priorities and concerns.

Cohen also sharply criticized the legislature for cutting out $42 million in recurring administrative funds over the coming two years. Additionally, she said that as the budget stands right now, the Medicaid budget is $63 million short. “It’s dramatic. It’s irresponsible,” she said. “It’s not like we’re trying to manage some really trying times. No one has given me an answer in this building about why are we doing this cut? We’re not in a recession. Why are they doing it this year… other than to play games?” Cohen said.

There are a couple of obvious reasons, and they both have to do with Medicaid Expansion. Cohen has been pushing them hard for it, and has the data to back up her arguments. That makes her the "enemy" in the eyes of irresponsible and capricious Republicans, so whatever levers they can pull to exert pressure on her are being pulled with a vengeance. But there's also something else: Using the excuse of a procedure change (switching to managed care), they're cutting her staff, which will make it much more difficult to handle Medicaid Expansion if it did get approved. And that will become one more reason for them to not approve it. Create a crisis, and then lament said crisis. Standard operating procedure. Dr. Cohen also has a completely unnecessary and disruptive move looming:

The NC GOP's sustained attack on local control

Municipal governments may soon be just a fond memory:

These bills significantly favor the interests of homebuilders and Realtors, but at what would be the great expense of communities across North Carolina, and here in Moore County. One of those bills we’ve already discussed here: State Sen. Tom McInnis’ bill preventing municipalities from regulating tree removal. McInnis says he’s no longer pushing his bill, but it remains ominously in the mix.

Other pending legislation is even more grievous. One bill would prohibit municipalities from regulating the minimum square footage of homes, something that has long been the purview of local government. Another bill would roll back reasons a municipal code enforcement officer may consider a building unsafe. And still another would extend the tax exemption to homebuilders from three to five years for unsold houses, and restrict a town’s ability to make a builder clean up a dilapidated site that violates an ordinance.

I've been dealing with the issue of property rights (heavily) for the last 15 months or so, and I can safely say it's a tremendous balancing act. But one thing is certain; when citizen groups get involved in the process (as opposed to one or two ranters) on a local level, they can influence said process. Nobody gets everything they want, but that is itself a sign that property rights are being respected. But apparently some Legislators simply do not understand that:

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