NC GOP worried about long lines, pantsuits, and Satan

ncgopThe folks at the N.C. Republican Party sent out a few interesting tweets this week, one of them from Communications Director Kami Mueller who was apparently worried about the long lines at some early voting sites on Thursday, the first day of early voting. She gave people a number to call for voting assistance.

That would be the same Republican Party that fought efforts to expand early voting, defended plans by local elections boards to open only one early voting site in their counties and last week even opposed the move to expand the voter registration deadline in counties affected by the flooding from Hurricane Matthew.

Now all of a sudden they are worried about long lines at the polls.

It wasn’t Mueller’s only tweet of note. She was busy on social media during this week’s presidential debate too, firing off all sorts of offensive tweets and retweets, several about the pantsuit that Hillary Clinton was wearing. Then there was this one about halfway through the debate.

At least they are staying classy over there at Republican Party headquarters.

And finally on the Kami Mueller front, she seems to think that evil is everywhere in North Carolina judging from her comments on a recent panel discussion in Raleigh held by The Sam James Institute.

The discussion was billed as a “Gospel and Politics Forum” and towards the end of the presentation Mueller recounted Gov. Pat McCrory’s recent meeting about HB2 with conservative pastors and Tony Perkins, the head of the far-right Family Research Council.

It’s troubling company for McCrory to keep. Perkins has a long history of homophobia. He  has blamed the legalization of same-sex marriage for the destruction caused by hurricanes—part of God’s wrath—and pushed the Republican Party to endorse gay “conversion therapy” in its platform.

Muller was sharing the details of McCrory’s meeting with the audience and lamenting that people have told McCrory they support his defense of HB2 but were afraid to make that support public.

That, Mueller said, was evidence that “Satan is using means to bully and shame us as believers into not standing up for what is right.”

News, Voting

First day of early voting not as strong as 2012 election, but not ‘apples-to-apples’ for comparison

Early voting in North Carolina this year is off to a slower start than in 2012, according to preliminary statistics. There were 162,382 ballots cast and accepted this year compared to 167,497 in 2012.

Dr. Michael Bitzer, Catawba College political scientist, posted an analysis of the first day of in-person early voting, noting that this year’s numbers were not a “pure apples-to-apples” comparison due to changes in county hours and locations from 2012.

The party registration for this year’s first day of in-person early voting was 53 percent registered Democrat, 24 percent registered Republican, 23 percent registered unaffiliated, and less than one percent registered Libertarian.

The total number of in-person early ballots is down 3 percent from the same day in 2012, while those from registered Democrats are down 11 percent, from registered Republicans down 7 percent, but up among registered unaffiliated voters by 28 percent.

The North Carolina State Board of Elections was not immediately available to provide a breakdown of early voting totals by county.


Graph by Dr. Michael Bitzer


Expert blasts presidential debate moderators for ignoring the biggest problem facing the U.S.

In a week in which even the CEO of Exxon-Mobil has stated that climate change brings “real” risks that require “serious” action, Dr. Joe Ramm of the Center for American Progress has a brief but great column lamenting the “criminally irresponsible” failure of presidential debate moderators to ask any questions regarding what is likely the most important existential challenge facing humanity. Here’s Romm:

“Climate silence lives. Despite pleas from editorial writers, columnists, and scientists, Chris Wallace, the moderator of the third and final presidential debate ignored arguably the most important issue facing the next president?—?climate change.

Thus the 2016 election continues the inexplicable tradition begun in the 2012 election in which presidential and vice presidential debate moderators remained silent on the gravest preventable threat to the health and well-being of all Americans.”

After noting that scientist and editorial writers of all kinds had pleaded for such a question he concludes this way:

“All to no avail. In the immediate aftermath of the debate, commentators are rightfully shocked over Trump’s statement that he refuses to say he will accept the election results.

But if we fail to avoid multiple irreversible catastrophic climate impacts?—?from Dust-bowlification to sea level rise to ocean acidification to ever-extremer weather?—?future generations are going to care about little else for decades if not centuries. And they will be rightfully shocked that major figures in the U.S. media failed to raise the issue in presidential debates when it mattered most.

Bottom line: The only guaranteed way for a candidate to make sure climate change and clean energy come up in a debate to bring it up herself, as Clinton did in the first debate.”

Click here to read the entire column.


National report: K-12 funding cuts in North Carolina among the worst in the nation

Education cutsA national report released today seems to confirm what many of the N.C. General Assembly’s harshest critics have long declared: K-12 education funding in North Carolina has fallen prodigiously since the economic recession of 2008, and has worsened even as the state’s economy begins to rebound.

The report, authored by a nonpartisan, D.C.-based research group, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, lists North Carolina among just eight states nationwide that have cut general funding per student by almost 10 percent or more since 2008.

From the report:

Five of those eight — Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin — enacted income tax rate cuts costing tens or hundreds of millions of dollars each year rather than restore education funding.

Most states raised general funding per student this year, but 19 states imposed new cuts, even as the national economy continues to improve.  Some of these states, including Oklahoma, Kansas, and North Carolina, already were among the deepest-cutting states since the recession hit.

Our country’s future depends heavily on the quality of its schools.  Increasing financial support can help K-12 schools implement proven reforms such as hiring and retaining excellent teachers, reducing class sizes, and expanding the availability of high-quality early education.  So it’s problematic that so many states have headed in the opposite direction over the last decade.  These cuts risk undermining schools’ capacity to develop the intelligence and creativity of the next generation of workers and entrepreneurs.

The survey comes just days after Policy Watch reported that Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration ordered all state departments, including the public schools, to ready a 2017-2019 budget proposal with a 2 percent spending cut. For North Carolina schools, that would amount to roughly a $173 million cut, and could have drastic implications for classroom resources and the state’s teaching force if North Carolina leaders follow through on the reduction.

Of course, we’ve written extensively at Policy Watch on the state of K-12 funding in North Carolina and how it has impacted state officials’ ability to weather rising student enrollment.

Read more

Commentary, News

Trending today on social media: #EarlyVoting, #NCvotes

With the debates now in the history books, voters are taking advantage of early voting in several states today.

Across North Carolina, long lines are being reported — not just in the state’s larger cities, but also in the smaller communities that were recently contending with the floodwaters of Hurricane Matthew.

Here are just a few pictures from Twitter with folks sharing their experience at the polls: