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You can always tell when North Carolina NAACP President and Moral Mondays movement leader Rev. William Barber is having an impact with his fearless and tireless advocacy. It’s always the moment at which paid political hacks on the far right start manufacturing scurrilous personal attacks full of unflattering photos, baseless claims about money and thinly-veiled overtures to their rebel flag-loving supporters.

The latest of these below-the-belt attacks emerged like a virtual stink bomb in recent days as advocates for voting rights advanced their arguments in opposition to the Monster Voter Suppression law that’s now on trial in a federal court in Winston-Salem. The attacks came in the form of some utterly and laughably bogus allegations about “big union money” supposedly underwriting some of Barber’s efforts. The following excerpt from a story on Raleigh’s WTVD is typical:

“Reverend Barber pocketed over $20,000 from the national labor unions to give paid speeches,” alleged N.C. GOP Chairman Hasan Harnett.

Setting aside the absurdity of a man like Mr. Harnett — a self-described, professional “Keynote Speaker. Author. Serial Entrepreneur. Success Mastery Leader” (whatever the hell that is) — attacking Rev. Barber for raising a few thousand bucks for his shoestring movement from some allied organizations, it’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry at the whole embarrassing episode.

Two years ago, in response to the equally absurd and offensive claims of the Pope-Civitas Institute that Moral Mondays protesters were driven by their desire to rake in boatloads of government cash, I wrote this in a story on the main NC Policy Watch site:

“On the one hand, [the attacks] are just so downright (and comically) crude and ham-fisted that you almost have to cringe in embarrassment for the Pope-Civitas people. Seriously, the notion that giant organizations with proud histories like the NAACP, AARP and the YWCA are protesting the myriad regressive actions of the 2013 General Assembly because some branch happens to administer a few thousand dollars in public funds is just so patently absurd that it’s hard to believe that a supposedly serious group – a group nervy enough to describe itself as “North Carolina’s Conservative Voice” – would stoop to allege it.

Similarly, to imply that Rev. William Barber – a courageous man who works night and day at enormous personal sacrifice, physical pain and even personal risk; a man who directs a tiny paid staff and who has, for years, tirelessly traveled the length and breadth if the state in an old minivan to help countless underdog causes – is doing what he is doing in order to advance his own personal financial agenda, is just so utterly wrong and, for lack of a better word, malicious that it must render any fair-minded observer virtually speechless.”

These words are true and apt today as well.

The bottom line: There are plenty of substantive debates to have on the issues championed by the Moral Mondays movement. Let’s hope the sad and uninformed mouthpieces spreading lies and innuendo about Rev. Barber finally come this realization in the near future and abandon their slanderous and pathetic efforts.

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Bob RuchoSenator Bob Rucho is far from the first person to make the boneheaded mistake of comparing something in modern American politics to Nazi Germany; lots of people have made the same ridiculous error. That said, it is interesting to compare and contrast the responses that such comments can provoke.

Four months ago when UNC-TV host D.G. Martin — a Democrat — made an ill-considered allusion/comparison to Nazi Germany in one of his syndicated columns, Claude Pope, the head on the North Carolina Republican Party, called Martin derogatory names and demanded he be ousted from his TV job. Now mind you, this was despite the fact Martin immediately apologized for having made the comparison and does not hold a position of political or government leadership.

Compare this to the Rucho flap — a situation in which the senator (one of the most powerful elected officials in North Carolina) has refused to apologize and, indeed, has doubled-down on the comment by claiming critics are members of “socialist elites.”  This time, all Pope has done is call for an apology.

Perhaps Pope has a plan to help promote a primary opponent against Rucho in 2014 — rumors have it that this may be the case — but if he really believes that such offensive comparisons ought to be grounds for removal from office, he ought to say so publicly and today.

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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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It looks like Governor McCrory’s role in the big tax cut debate between House and Senate leaders might be merely to market what the legislative leaders come up with.

Here’s what House Speaker Thom Tillis told the News & Observer about McCrory’s role in the discussion about a tax deal.

We need the governor fully on board so he can communicate it and get people to understand it.

That’s a bit of an odd take from Tillis. He didn’t say they need to work with the governor because he is running the state or because he is the top elected official of their own political party or heaven forbid, because he might have some policy ideas and strongly held views of his own about taxes.

No, they need the governor on board only to sell the package that Berger and Tillis decide on. It is pretty clear legislative leaders believe they are in charge in Raleigh these days. McCrory? He is their PR guy.

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In an apparent effort to shake its image as a party whose modern-day membership is confined almost exclusively to tea party extremists and/or members of the religious right, the North Carolina GOP announced this week that it would be opening up the tent to reach out to another group that once figured prominently in the party, but whose public participation has been less clearly visible in recent times.

I speak, of course, of that much discriminated against and long-suffering minority: Older, fabulously wealthy, thrice-married, beauty-contest running, spotlight-seeking gambling moguls. 

GOP officials announced that the keynote speaker at their state convention would be that  paragon of virtue and morality, the one and only Donald Trump. The Donald will speak on June 1 at 7 pm in Greensboro.

No word yet on whether the event will also feature another prominent casino owner, Newt Gingrich’s sugar daddy, billionaire casino king, Sheldon Adelson. My guess is that he puts up enough cash, they’ll be happy to include him.