UNC Nobel prize

Image: UNC Chapel Hill

As one of the first acts of his governorship back in 2013, Pat McCrory went on a national right-wing radio show to attack “the educational elite” in our university system who supposedly weren’t doing enough to gets student “butts in jobs.” Since that time, his administration has waged a more or less permanent war against academia by repeatedly allowing faculty salaries to slide and just generally under-investing in public colleges and universities.

Whether a sincerely held belief or just a convenient scrap of red meat to toss to the intellectual-hating far right, McCrory’s stance is predicated on the notion (regularly championed by denizens of the Art Pope empire) that universities should be more like training institutes in which faculty devote the overwhelming majority of their time to preparing students for employment. Meanwhile, “luxuries” like the liberal arts and research for the sake of advancing knowledge are just that — extravagances to be left to the vagaries of the “market” and the “demand” provided by well-off students and parents willing to underwrite their cost via private school tuition.

This morning, North Carolinians received yet another powerful reminder of the absurdity of the Governor’s stance on these issues when Prof. Aziz Sancar of the UNC School of Medicine was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. According to the Associated Press:

“The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said their [Pro. Sancar’s and his fellow recipients’] work on DNA repair had provided ‘fundamental knowledge’ about how cells function and shed light on the mechanisms behind both cancer and aging.”

You got that? Prof. Sancar helped advance an important piece of “fundamental knowledge” that has the potential to greatly benefit all of humankind. From this vantage point, that sounds like a pretty darned good use of tax dollars.

Let’s hope Sancar’s award spurs the Guv and his allies to think a little harder about their simplistic takes on higher education — especially when it comes to the numerous would-be Aziz Sancars who continue to be driven out of North Carolina by the administration’s shortsighted approach to faculty compensation and duties.


AftertheStorm_5Governor Pat McCrory has been busy this week touring storm damaged parts of our state from weekend flooding.

When he returns to Raleigh he will find 31 bills on his desk from the recently concluded legislative session requiring his attention.

Many McCrory will no doubt sign. A few others — like HB 318 and HB 765 — he faces mounting pressure to veto.  Of course, the governor could simply wait and allow those bills to become law without his signature.

Here’s the complete list, as compiled by legislative staffers:


Bill Short Title Action Date Action Text
H8 Court of Appeals Election Modifications. H 09/30/2015 Pres. To Gov. 9/30/2015
H126 Mortgage Origination Support Registration. H 10/01/2015 Pres. To Gov. 10/1/2015
H215 Procedure for Waiver of Jury Trial. H 09/30/2015 Pres. To Gov. 9/30/2015
H318 Protect North Carolina Workers Act. H 09/30/2015 Pres. To Gov. 9/30/2015
H327 EMS Personnel Technical Changes. H 09/30/2015 Pres. To Gov. 9/30/2015
H361 = S667 Principle-Based Reserving/Revise Ins. Laws. H 09/24/2015 Pres. To Gov. 9/24/2015
H558 Reserve & Nat. Guard/Military Affairs Comm. H 09/30/2015 Pres. To Gov. 9/30/2015
H647 Epi Pens in All Child-Serving Businesses. H 09/30/2015 Pres. To Gov. 9/30/2015
H679 UNC Self-Liquidating Projects. H 09/25/2015 Pres. To Gov. 9/25/2015
H698 Baby Carlie Nugent Bill. H 09/24/2015 Pres. To Gov. 9/24/2015
H709 NCNG Tuition Assistance Benefit Amendment. H 09/22/2015 Pres. To Gov. 9/22/2015
H712 Pilot Project/Used Needle Disposal. H 09/22/2015 Pres. To Gov. 9/22/2015
H765 Regulatory Reform Act of 2015. H 10/01/2015 Pres. To Gov. 10/1/2015
H850 Eastern Band of Cherokees/Law Enforcement. H 09/24/2015 Pres. To Gov. 9/24/2015
H924 Highway Safety/Other Changes. H 10/01/2015 Pres. To Gov. 10/1/2015
H943 Connect NC Bond Act of 2015. H 10/01/2015 Pres. To Gov. 10/1/2015
S37 = H19 Waive Tuition/Fallen Officer Was Guardian. S 09/30/2015 Pres. To Gov. 09/30/2015
S97 = H522 State Advisory Council on Indian Education. S 09/24/2015 Pres. To Gov. 09/24/2015
S195 Motor Vehicle Service Agreement Amendments. S 09/29/2015 Pres. To Gov. 09/29/2015
S238 = H187 Stalking by GPS/Criminal Offense. S 09/29/2015 Pres. To Gov. 09/29/2015
S279 Amend Qualifications/Practice of Counseling. S 10/01/2015 Pres. To Gov. 10/01/2015
S313 Industrial Hemp. S 09/30/2015 Pres. To Gov. 09/30/2015
S370 E-Signatures/Vehicle Title and Registration. S 09/24/2015 Pres. To Gov. 09/24/2015
S379 Cemeteries Located on State Property. S 09/30/2015 Pres. To Gov. 09/30/2015
S472 Local Incentives for Historic Rehabilitation. S 09/24/2015 Pres. To Gov. 09/24/2015
S519 = H764 Amend Child Custody Laws. S 09/30/2015 Pres. To Gov. 09/30/2015
S524 Grad Requirements/Sports Pilot. S 09/30/2015 Pres. To Gov. 09/30/2015
S670 Term Limits for BOG Members. S 10/01/2015 Pres. To Gov. 10/01/2015
S676 Autism Health Insurance Coverage. S 09/30/2015 Pres. To Gov. 09/30/2015
S694 Reegan’s Rule/Enforce Pharm. Ben. Mgt. S 10/01/2015 Pres. To Gov. 10/01/2015
S698 Legacy Medical Care Facility/CON Exempt. S 09/30/2015 Pres. To Gov. 09/30/2015



Notwithstanding the efforts of North Carolina’s current political leadership to outdo their neighbors to the south on virtually every hot button issue on the right wing agenda, the fact remains that South Carolina is and always has been a more conservative state than North Carolina.

That’s what makes the latest news from a Winthrop University poll all the more startling and encouraging. As the Charlotte Observer reports:

“Immigration is weighing on the minds of South Carolinians as the 2016 presidential primaries approach in February.

Consider: Donald Trump, who has adopted a hard line on dealing with the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants, leads GOP presidential polls in South Carolina, the state that holds the South’s first presidential primary.

‘You’re not going to be in a town hall for Trump and say you favor a path to citizenship,’ Winthrop University political scientist Scott Huffmon said. ‘You’ll be pelted with red trucker hats.’

But the majority of South Carolinians, including Republicans, don’t share the New York business mogul’s deport-them-now views.

Most in the Palmetto State favor giving undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, under specific requirements, rather than deporting them or allowing them to stay only for a limited time, according to a Winthrop Poll question asked exclusively for The State newspaper.”

The poll found a solid majority (58%) of South Carolinians to be pro-citizenship. Now, this number is not as high as the national figure (65% according to a Gallup poll) but it does serve to reenforce two important points:

  1. When even 58% of South Carolinains are for doing the right and humane thing, you know that even more North Carolinains are for it, and
  2. Governor McCrory might do well to think twice before playing the anti-immigrant card that he loves to flash — especially when it comes to the bill sitting on his desk to make it harder for immigrants to use alternative identification cards. Though he may win plaudits from the far right, Tea Party crowd, the majority of North Carolinians are almost certainly of a different mind.

Today’s edition of the Weekly Briefing examines a mean-spirited proposal approved by state lawmakers in the final days of the 2015 session to take meager food benefits away from hungry people. The provision is reason enough for Governor McCrory to veto House Bill 318.

Amazingly, however, this is not the most controversial portion of HB 318. The bill also contains a major new attack on immigrants that really amounts to an attack on public health and safety. The editorial page of the Charlotte Observer explains:

“House Bill 318 would forbid local governments from ordering their police forces to de-emphasize or stop the enforcement of federal immigration laws. Such ‘sanctuary city’ provisions are in place formally and informally in dozens of cities and counties across the country, including Charlotte.

It’s not news that Republican lawmakers in North Carolina want to tell cities how to do their business. But the bill, which Gov. Pat McCrory is likely to sign into law this month, also shows a fundamental misunderstanding of immigration law and how it’s enforced.

Sanctuary cities have become a flashpoint in the immigration debate in recent months, thanks in part to some misinformed rhetoric that the governor parroted last week. Said McCrory: ‘As governor, I believe that every law enforcement officer is sworn to uphold not only the laws of North Carolina, but also the laws of the United States … including our immigration laws.’

But police in sanctuary cities aren’t ignoring the law, and they’re not hiding undocumented immigrants from the clutches of federal agents. What those cities have chosen to do is not use their resources – meaning officers and jails – to serve the purposes of federal programs. That means officers are not asking people their immigration status at traffic stops – and therefore not being obligated to bring undocumented workers in. It also means when undocumented immigrants are arrested for unrelated crimes, many of these cities have chosen not to keep them jailed solely to wait for federal agents to arrive.

It’s a decision cities make for philosophical and budgetary reasons. Either way, it’s legal. The Constitution says that while federal law usually supersedes state law, states are not required to enforce laws that are exclusively federal in nature (such as immigration). In Printz. v. United States, which involved background checks of gun purchases, the Supreme Court said that “the Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States’ officers … to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program.”

The author of that opinion? Conservative icon Antonin Scalia.

The editorial goes on to explain that McCrory and conservative lawmakers are using baseless scare tactics to imply that such sanctuary laws somehow prevent the arrest of dangerous criminals — something that is patently false. Let’s fervently hope the words of his hometown paper cause the Guv rethink his position on this issue.

Click here to read the entire editorial.


Despite having attempted to distance himself from newspaper advertising for a conservative Christian event that featured his image and the words: “Come Join me in a time of worship, prayer, fasting and repentance,” Gov. Pat McCrory did show up and speak at a Saturday event in Charlotte organized by a far right religious group known as the American Renewal Project which argues that the United States is a “Christian nation.”

McCrory used his few minutes on the stage to talk about substance abuse and to ask the people who were in attendance to join in the effort to combat the problem.  “We need your help because government cannot do this alone, you can do it, God can do it,” the Governor stated.

What was weirdest and most disturbing about McCrory’s appearance, however, was the spectacle of several middle aged men crowding around the Governor to lay their hands on him and dispense statements of hate and fear masquerading as “prayer.” Click the video below to watch as a fellow who appears to be American Renewal Project founder David Lane making several remarkable claims, including:

  • that the United States is “a nation founded on the Bible,”
  • that “fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,”
  • that the U.S. committed the great sin of removing “prayer and Bibles from the public schools in 1963 after 350 years as a principal component, as the fixed point in order to judge society,”
  • that safe, legal abortion has left “55 million babies dead,”
  • that “homosexuals praying at the inauguration” and “red ink as far as the eye can see” were among the other great sins afflicting the country.

For this, Lane said, the United States “deserves judgment.” He then called on attendees to pray for McCrory and made several other offensive claims — including that the U.S. is a nation that was “founded for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith.” Click below to watch:

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