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As 2013 fast recedes in the rear-view mirror, many of us would like to think that the worst of the Koch brothers/Tea Party/conservative theocracy wackiness is over. Unfortunately, there is ample reason to believe that 2014 will be even more of a knockdown, drag-out political battle. Here are just a few reminders as to why this is the case and why caring and thoughtful people will need to bring their “A games” in the coming year to push back  successfully:

Big, dark money - Dan Besse, editor of the excellent N.C. League of Conservation Voters blog, provides a link this morning to a story in Scientific American from over the holidays that highlights a new Drexel University study about who funds the climate change-denial movement. Surprise! The bucks aren’t coming from the grassroots.

Asheville: facing abolition? As was reported several times in 2013, one of the General Assembly’s most conservative ideologues, Rep. Tim Moffitt of Buncombe County, has been waging a nonstop war with the city of Asheville for some time — whether it’s taking away the city’s water system or its airport. Now, comes word from Asheville Citizen-Times columnist John Boyle that Moffitt may want to go a lot further.

Standing fast in favor of discrimination – Another discouraging story from over the holidays came from the North Carolina Family Policy Council, which is doubling-down in support of discrimination against LGBT kids and families. Read More

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While it was obviously the right thing for state GOP leaders to sack party official Don Yelton in the wake of his off-the-rails performance on The Daily Show the other day,  a quick Internet search reveals that there was plenty of reason to expect his comically deranged and hate-tinged flameout for some time — enough, indeed, to make a body wonder why Claude Pope didn’t officially repudiate the man years ago.

As you can see in the video immediately below, Yelton actually testified before the General Assembly on the voter suppression bill earlier this year and displayed a coherence about on par with his Daily Show rant.

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But before that, Yelton had made numerous recorded speeches and even hosted a public access TV show in Asheville called “Citizens Speak.” Click here to peruse a veritable cavalcade of craziness.

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UPDATE: The Buncombe County GOP moves to rid itself of Yelton. See below

The Buncombe County conservative activist who told one of the “The Daily Show”‘s fake new reporters that North Carolina’s voter identification and election law changes were primarily designed to hurt Democrats (and not prevent voter fraud) said he’s happy with the comedy show’s segment.

“The comments that were made, that I said, I stand behind them,” Don Yelton told the Mountain Xpress today, an alternative weekly newspaper in Asheville.

He also told the weekly that it could have been worse – other things he said in the course of the interview were apparently more shocking.

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Howard ManningState Superior Court Judge Howard Manning, Jr. spent better than two hours in a Raleigh courtroom this morning listening attentively and asking numerous questions as lawyers for the City of Asheville and the Attorney General’s office debated the constitutionality of legislation passed this spring by the General Assembly to seize the City of Asheville’s municipally-owned and managed water system and turn it over to a newly-formed regional entity.

Though the hearing featured a great deal of give and take between the judge and the lawyers, the argument was clearly dominated by Asheville’s lawyer, Mecklenburg County Senator Dan Clodfelter. Clodfelter, an attorney at the firm of Moore and Van Allen (which is, ironically enough, Governor McCrory’s old employer) offered a lengthy and detailed presentation in which he explained the history of the Asheville system and the almost comically ham-fisted efforts of conservative legislators to remove the system from city control as part of a longstanding partisan battle.

Manning, one of the state’s most experienced and respected jurists, clearly grasped the legal (and political) realities of the case from the outset of the hearing.

At one point, Read More

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Gov. Pat McCrory was in Asheville yesterday when he told the Council on Independent Business Owners that changes to the state’s tax and unemployment systems were being misunderstood by the state’s journalists.

From the Mountain XPress, Asheville’s weekly alternative newspaper:

“This is too complex for the journalists,” McCrory said, to laughter from the CIBO members. “They don’t have economics degrees, they’ve not been in business. I respect them greatly, but you get it. This is what we have to do to rebuild our economy. It’s not easy. I empathize with the people being impacted, but my goal is to get these people back into jobs.”

McCrory particularly defended a controversial cut in unemployment benefits. He said that the state asked to lower the benefits to the levels of surrounding states, but the federal government refused, as its commitment to backing and extending unemployment benefits during the financial crisis required states to keep their benefits the same.

He also told the crowd that he wanted to introduce performance pay for teachers but that “the unions are stopping us from doing that,” according to the Mountain Xpress article.

North Carolina, unlike many other states, doesn’t have teacher unions, and has laws that prohibit collective bargaining in public sector jobs like teaching.

Mark Binker over at WRAL, in a post this afternoon, pointed out that McCrory, despite lodging criticism, doesn’t have an economics degree.

We here at N.C. Policy Watch have previously written about other misstatements McCrory has made about this year’s drastic changes to the state’s unemployment system. McCrory has (inaccurately) blamed the Obama Administration for not preventing the July 1 unemployment cliff that led to 70,000 people losing federal unemployment benefits.

Those changes were a result of legislation passed by the N.C. General Assembly and signed into law by McCrory. (Click here to read more.)