Commentary

Senate leader: I want to use the bathroom with Caitlyn Jenner too

Sen. Phil Berger

Sen. Phil Berger

image: Caitlyn Jenner's Twitter account

Image: Caitlyn Jenner’s Twitter account

Apparently worried that he would be left out of news stories covering the new right-wing crusade to target transgender North Carolinians for discrimination, abuse and humiliation, North Carolina state Senate leader Phil Berger (a once fairly reasonable fellow) has come up with his own “me too” plan for making already vulnerable humans feel worse. The following post was added to the Senator’s website this morning:

“After Attorney General Roy Cooper claimed taking action against a radical Charlotte City Council ordinance allowing men to share public bathrooms and locker rooms with young girls and women should not be a priority, Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) announced Tuesday he has appointed a Senate work group to work with the House on legislation to address the problem.

Berger appointed Sen. Shirley Randleman (R-Wilkes) as chair of the work group, along with Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (Ex-officio member), Sen. David Curtis (R-Lincoln), Sen. Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth), Sen. Buck Newton (R-Wilson), Sen. Ron Rabin (R-Harnett), Sen. Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick), Sen. Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenburg), Sen. Norm Sanderson (R-Pamlico) and Sen. Jeff Tarte (R-Mecklenburg).

“Attorney General Roy Cooper has admitted state laws trump local ordinances, and he is the one person with the power to stop this nonsense and enforce our state’s criminal laws,” said Berger. “But if he refuses to do his job and protect the safety and privacy of our children, then the Senate stands ready to return to session and resolve this issue quickly.”

“Senate work group,” huh? Berger can call this thing whatever he wants — it obviously has no official role or status — but what it will undoubtedly come to be known as is the Senate Bathroom Committee. What a proud moment for our state!

And see how he slid one of the state’s chief, non-senator anti-gay rights activists, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, in there too? Very clever.

The bottom line, to update what was noted in this space a couple weeks back:

Under the McCrory/Moore/Graham/Berger theory of human gender identity, humans are who they are on the day they are born. Any alteration after that is, apparently, null and void as far as the MMGB team is concerned.

Caitlyn Jenner? Sorry, it’ll always be Bruce to the MMGB boys. Renee Richards? Forever Richard Raskind. Chaz Bono? Forever Chastity.

So, the next time celebrities descend on North Carolina for, I don’t know, a Beyoncé concert, a championship football game, a film shoot in Wilmington or MerleFest in Wilkesboro and for some reason, Caitlyn shows up to check out the scene, let’s hope our male state political leaders finds themselves in the same men’s room line with a glamorous brunette. Maybe then they can explain to her (and the rest of the world) what the heck they’re buddies were trying to prove with their shameless/shameful pandering.

Commentary

Right-wing website questions whether congressional map machinations are designed to help Phil Berger, Jr.

Berger_Jr.-and-Sr.There are many reasons to take the often-venomous claims made on the right-wing website known as the Daily Haymaker with a large grain of salt. That said, the person behind it — a fellow named Brant Clifton — clearly has connections inside the House and Senate Republican caucuses at the General Assembly and is more than happy to use the site to blast GOP powers that be.

This morning, Clifton published a story in which he offers a plausible explanation for some of the puzzling details of the new congressional map emerging on Jones Street. When Clifton connects the dots, he concludes that the new 6th district is tailor-made for Phil Berger, Jr.

Not only has the map been drawn in such a way that the current 6th District Representative, Mark Walker (the guy who beat Berger in a bitter 2014 primary), can now run in the redrawn 13th, but the honorables are also advancing a new law that makes clear that one can run in the June congressional primary even if one has already secured a nomination for another office in the March primary. This would benefit Berger, Jr. who is running for the Court of Appeals in March.

This is the conclusion to the post:

“If all of those chips fall into place, and Berger files for the 6th in a June primary, he has a fallback. Junior is challenging Judge Linda Stephens for her seat on the Court of Appeals.  Under this new rule, he could still file for the 6th congressional district while remaining a candidate for the Court of Appeals.  If he wins the congressional primary in June, he has to choose whether he wants to go forward to November as a congressional candidate or judicial candidate.

IF this chaos was initiated for the purpose of obtaining gainful employment for Phil Berger, Jr., it’s an outrage.  (Of course, according to the legislation, this all goes out the window if the Supreme Court should overturn or stay the lower court’s ruling on our current districts.)  

Let’s see if Junior steps up to file for Congress. (Or if any ”honorables” from Jones Street do the same.) 

Once again, it shows that no matter which party you put in charge — the main focus is self-promotion and self-preservation at the expense of the rest of us.”

We (and, no doubt, a lot of other folks) will be  watching closely. You can read Clifton’s entire post by clicking here.

News

State education officials respond to GOP leader’s allegations of misusing funds

N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson

N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson

One day after N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson responded to aggressive questioning by at least one Senate Republican about allegations of misusing funds, state education officials explained themselves in a letter to Senate President Phil Berger, Policy Watch has learned.

In the letter, State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey and Atkinson stated that they used state funds budgeted for literacy programs exactly as they were ordered, extending increased literacy programs to approximately 487,000 students in the state.

WRAL reported Monday that Berger accused DPI leaders of agreeing during a “secret meeting” to use literacy funds to head off personnel losses ordered by legislators in 2012’s Excellent Public Schools Act.

The state’s official response included a summary of  $2.5 million in position cuts at DPI as a result of state budgeting.

Read more

News

Senator grills DPI chief June Atkinson over GOP allegations of misusing funds

N.C. Sen. Chad Barefoot, R-Franklin, Wake

N.C. Sen. Chad Barefoot, R-Franklin, Wake

One day after the state Senate leader accused North Carolina’s top education administrators of misusing funds budgeted for reading programs, N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson responded to an aggressive line of questioning about the controversy.

Atkinson was discussing the federal government’s update of No Child Left Behind in the legislature’s Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee Tuesday when Sen. Chad Barefoot, a Wake County Republican, began grilling Atkinson over the allegations.

WRAL reported Monday that Senate President Phil Berger, R-Guilford, Rockingham, indicated in a letter that $3.8 million in funding intended for literacy programs had been diverted during “secret meetings” in order to mitigate budget cuts at the department. Although he did not offer proof, Berger accused DPI leaders and the State Board of Education of diverting the money during a closed session, which would violate the state’s open meetings law.

Read more

Commentary

Somebody please ask Sen. Berger how Obama is “grabbing” guns

Sen. Phil Berger

Sen. Phil Berger

It’s disappointing but not surprising that political opponents of President Obama reacted to his announcement yesterday that he wants to expand background checks to cover more gun purchases with pathetic and misleading soundbites.

Obama’s plan is a common sense idea that everyone from the NRA to House Speaker Paul Ryan used to support, not to mention 85 percent of Americans and 79 percent of Republicans.

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger’s response was typical, calling Obama’s executive action on guns “an unconstitutional gun-grab.”

Gun grab seemed to be the soundbite the Right decided would be the most effective and dishonest way to describe a proposal that takes nobody’s gun away from them but merely makes it harder for some people to buy a gun who should not be able to own one.

The only thing more frustrating was that Berger and NC GOP Chief Dallas Woodhouse, who also employed the gun grab phrase, were not asked by any reporters what they meant. How exactly does making more people undergo background checks when they buy a weapon grab anybody’s gun?

It doesn’t make sense. But that’s the point of course. Anything Obama proposes is horrible in the Berger/Woodhouse world view and any proposal to enforce federal gun regulations must be demogogued to stoke the Republican base.

Too bad most of the media outlets let them get away with it.