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altered-state-bannerIf you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out today’s installment of  Altered State: How 5 years of conservative rule have redefined North Carolina

Today’s story by reporter Sharon McCloskey is entitled “Open season on individual rights: Conservatives seek voting restrictions, keep fighting on old social issues.”

Here’s the introduction:

“The party of less government rolled into Raleigh after the 2010 elections champing at the bit, eager to fulfill an agenda long delayed.

‘Regulations kill jobs’ became the rallying cry, but as it turned out, that cry only went so far. When it came to voting booths, bedrooms, doctor’s offices and execution chambers, the self-styled opponents of intrusive government injected themselves in ways not seen before in state government.

Voting rights landed first in their crosshairs.

‘We’ve lost every gain we’d made,’ Bob Phillips of Common Cause North Carolina said. ‘We’ve lost just about all the pro-voting, pro-democracy laws that we had pushed.’

But voters weren’t alone. Women, gay North Carolinians, death row inmates — all were fair game as conservative lawmakers pursued their causes with a vengeance.

‘There’s a real harsh, mean spirit inside the Legislative Building, more so than I’ve ever seen,’ Phillips added.”

Click here to read the entire story.

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Dean BakerEconomist extraordinaire Dean Baker has a great post on The Guardian this morning about conservative ideologues and their stubborn (but gradually failing) defense of “climate denialism.”

As Baker notes, the right likes to pretend that it’s all about rugged individualism and curbing “entitlements” but a closer look at the facts often reveals a different reality. The Cliven Bundy case was a classic example as is the recent hullabaloo over President Obama’s new carbon reduction standards:

“The argument against taking steps to reduce carbon emissions is an argument that we have the right to impose the costs and risks on others without taking responsibility. It is essentially like arguing that I have the right to throw sewage on my neighbor’s lawn because I would find it inconvenient to build a proper sewage disposal system…. Read More

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It seems like every time I debate a conservative talking head on TV or radio and warn about North Carolina’s ongoing slide to the bottom (and mention that we seem bent on becoming the new Mississippi) the response goes something like this: “No, our model is Texas. That’s where they know how to grow the economy and shrink government.”

Of course, even at a glance, it’s obvious to most intelligent people why Texas is no model worth copying.  Lest you have any doubts, however, Andrea Flynn of the Roosevelt Institute explains some very important reasons why life in Texas is increasingly third-world-like for a huge chunk of the population: Read More

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LincolnToday is the 150th anniversary of the most famous speech by the nation’s greatest president. There are multiple versions of the speech still in existence and, of course, no recordings of the event so no one is 100% sure of the exact words Lincoln used that day. The following is thought by many to be the best version:

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. Read More

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Mark KleinschmidtLost in today’s news blitz is the fact that several regressive new North Carolina laws take effect today, including the state’s  new anti-woman, anti-reproductive freedom law. In response, Chapel Hill mayor Mark Kleinschmidt wrote an excellent essay for the Huffington Post. Here’s the excellent opening:

Women and North Carolina GOP Lose Upon Implementation of New State Abortion Restrictions

Today North Carolina’s new oppressive anti-choice law goes into effect and no North Carolina woman is safer or healthier because of it. But the biggest loser of all may be North Carolina’s Gov. Pat McCrory, who violated a clear campaign promise when he signed the legislation into law. Read More