Commentary

Patrick McHenryPoliticians of both political parties in Washington are scrambling to defend their support of the pork-barrel-laden budget bill that funds the federal government for the rest of the year—and predictably gives Wall Street a huge break.

North Carolina Congressman Patrick McHenry defended his support of the bill in an especially troubling way, bragging in his weekly update to constituents that the bill slashed funding for the EPA.

Additionally the funding legislation passed Thursday includes a number of important changes including cuts to EPA funding and staffing, cuts that will drop the agency to levels last seen in the 1980s.

That’s quite an accomplishment McHenry is touting, reducing the funding for the agency that protects our water and air and land to the level it was funded 30 years ago.

Wonder if McHenry checked with Governor Pat McCrory before he boasted about slashing the funding.  It was only three months ago when he signed the coal ash bill passed by the General Assembly  that McCrory promised to partner with EPA to  “hold Duke Energy accountable for violations of the federal Clean Water Act at the Eden facility and its 13 other coal plants in the state.”

It will be hard to count on the EPA to do its job as a “partner” in cracking down on coal ash pollution if folks like Rep. McHenry keep crusading to make it unable to do its job.

Unless of course that was the plan all along.

Commentary

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger does’t have to go very far to see the effect of the education budgets he and his Republican colleagues in Raleigh have passed in the last four years. The Winston-Salem Journal reported this weekend that the schools in Berger’s home county of Rockingham are struggling with the very basics.

A bathroom that doesn’t have toilet paper. A classroom lacking textbooks. A copy machine without paper. In some Rockingham County schools, there’s not enough money to buy these — and other things.

The Rockingham schools are receiving $55 less per pupil from the state than they received two years ago and voters defeated a proposal for a quarter-cent increase in the sales tax in November, thanks no doubt to the anti-tax sentiment whipped up by Republicans and their Tea Party allies on Right Wing Avenue.

And now the students don’t have textbooks and can’t make any copies.  The story  says that school officials are looking for a vacant warehouse to use to collect donated classroom supplies.

That’s what it has come to in this new era in North Carolina.

Public schools are the new charity in town because the folks running North Carolina refuse to adequately fund them.

Commentary

North Carolina Republicans, including Governor Pat McCrory and U.S. Senator-elect Thom Tillis, gathered in Asheville this past weekend to listen to former Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay hold forth at an annual event held by former North Carolina Congressman Charles Taylor.

News stories from the event report that Delay called President Obama names as a part of his presentation.

“He doesn’t lie about being a Marxist. He’s proud of it. In fact, I think he’s a Muslim, but he definitely is a Marxist.”

Wonder if the governor and the new Senator agree, since they sat idly by while DeLay was spewing his nonsense. Either way, it’s nice company that McCrory and Tillis are keeping.

Commentary

Here’s your ridiculous claim of Thanksgiving week from a story by the Center for Public Integrity.  Dallas Woodhouse of the right-wing advocacy group Carolina Rising says the 4,000 ads the group ran praising Republican Thom Tillis during the recent U.S. Senate race were not political at all.

They were just about issues and happened to mention the Republican candidate running against Senator Kay Hagan in the most closely watched Senate race in the country. Gee, what a coincidence.

In August, Carolina Rising ran more TV ads than either Tillis or Hagan, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of data provided by Kantar Media/CMAG, an ad tracking firm.

Interesting thing though, the ads weren’t really political — at least not according to the group that paid for them

“You’re the one who said we participated in the election,” Dallas Woodhouse, the group’s president and founder, told the Center for Public Integrity. “Those are issue ads. Those are not political ads.”

Woodhouse, a former North Carolina state leader of Americans for Prosperity, a nonprofit affiliated with billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, maintains Carolina Rising  jumped in to defend Tillis after it became clear Hagan and the Democrats were going to attack him based on the policies passed by the state legislature.

The group, he added, was just carrying out its mission by boosting policies passed by the sitting speaker of the state House.

To the average viewer, Carolina Rising’s TV spots sure looked like political advertising. But under the law, they are really known as “electioneering communications.” That means they name a candidate and run inside a certain timeframe but don’t tell voters to vote for or against anyone.

And also under the law, Carolina Rising is not required to disclose who paid for the ads that influenced the election under the guise of “issue advertising.” And Woodhouse chooses not to. Read More