Archives

Commentary

You’ve got to hand it to the Pope-Civitas Institute. The group is not afraid to do whatever it takes to advance the right-wing message — even if it means setting new standards in gall and hypocrisy.

The latest exhibit: It was announced yesterday that the keynote speaker as this year’s “Conservative Leadership Conference” will be right-wing activist and convicted election law felon Dinesh D’Souza. This is from a September 2014 Huffington Post story describing D’Souza’s deeds:

“Conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza was sentenced on Tuesday to spend eight months in a community confinement center during five years of probation after pleading guilty to a campaign finance law violation.

The defendant, a frequent critic of President Barack Obama, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan. He was also given a $30,000 fine and ordered to do one day of community service a week during his probation.

D’Souza, 53, admitted in May to illegally reimbursing two ‘straw donors’ who donated $10,000 each to the unsuccessful 2012 U.S. Senate campaign in New York of Wendy Long, a Republican he had known since attending Dartmouth College in the early 1980s.

‘It was a crazy idea, it was a bad idea,’ D’Souza told Berman before being sentenced. ‘I regret breaking the law.’

Prosecutors had sought a 10-to 16-month prison sentence, rejecting defense arguments that D’Souza was ‘ashamed and contrite’ about his crime and deserved probation with community service.”

You got that? An organization that regularly rails about “soft-on-crime” policies and politicians and a supposed epidemic of election fraud in the country is nonetheless turning over its podium to someone who was sentenced for committing an election law felony less that a year a half ago. The guy just got out of jail last year and is still on probation for heaven’s sake.

Maybe the point is to have him come and hold forth on second chances for those who’ve been convicted of crimes after having made stupid mistakes in life. If that’s so, well then, good for him and the Civitasers.

But the email promoting the event gives no indication that this is the case. Instead, it’s the usual hard right vitriol. And indeed, the “about” section from the website promoting D’Souza’s new post-jail book, “Stealing America” includes this doozy of a summary: “Why Hillary, Obama, and the entire Democratic Party are no better than a gang of thieves.”

All in all, it sounds like ol’ Dinesh may be a case study in likely criminal recidivism rather than rehabilitation and second chances. Stay tuned.

Commentary

Tony Tata 2We’ve devoted a fair amount of space over the years to giving Francis DeLuca, the head of the Pope-Civitas Institute, heck for the many zany positions espouses.  Click here for a typical example from 2013.

That said, one has to admit that DeLuca made several solid points in a post last Friday in which he criticized former state Transportation Secretary Tony Tata. In a post which was entitled “Did Tony Tata Use His Office to Explore Running for Congress?” DeLuca launches several barbs.

In addition to blasting Tata’s swift departure from office as not comporting “with a position at this level nor how a career military person would handle himself,” DeLuca takes Tata to task for, effectively, assembling a campaign team in office and spending $140,000 of NCDOT dollars on a political consultant who would be a likely candidate to help him later in a run for congress.

All in all, it’s a rare departure from script for the hard right DeLuca and a welcome one. Click here to read the entire piece.

 

Commentary

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.

Commentary
Scott Walker

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

The nonpartisan (stop laughing!) inhabitants of the Pope Civitas Institute are having an interesting event next week. The group is hosting the Governor of Wisconsin and all-but-declared Presidential candidate Scott Walker for a fundraising lunch. You can be a “co-host” of the event for just five grand.

Setting aside the red flags raised by a nonpartisan nonprofit holding such a transparently political event, the question arises: Why Walker and not one of the other hard right candidates?

The answer to this question may be found in this post that appeared on Think Progress last month entitled “Why the Koch Brothers Want Scott Walker to be President.”

“Walker has enjoyed the Kochs’ enthusiastic support for much of his political career. Koch Industries was one of the largest contributors to Walker’s first gubernatorial campaign, giving him $43,000, his largest out-of-state contribution. And Walker’s 2014 reelection campaign was one of the top recipients of Koch Industries cash. Tim Phillips, president of Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity, has also heaped praise on Walker. ‘The difference Scott Walker has made with his policy achievements is as transformative as any governor anywhere in a generation,’ Phillips said in an interview.”

Of course, in fairness, Walker has yet to formally announce his candidacy. The Governor has told various media outlets that he’s too busy right now given the demands of his position as Governor and the need to finish work on his state’s 2016 budget… a task that he is apparently pursuing by traveling to North Carolina to hobnob with deep-pocketed conservatives a thousand miles from home in the middle of a weekday afternoon.

Commentary

Bob Luddy 2You have to hand it to the massively oblivious Bob Luddy. One of the state’s leading hard right, fat cat political funders probably thought he was showing what a principled guy he is when he penned this letter promising Republican lawmakers a cutoff in campaign funds because he dislikes the House budget proposal.

What he did instead, of course, was to show how just how corrupt and out of control the state’s political system has gotten when a rich moneybags can, effectively,  publicly admit that he buys influence with his campaign money and then threaten to turn off the spigot because he doesn’t get his way. If ever there was a crystal clear demonstration of how the Citizens United decision and the recent toxic expansion in pay-to-pay politics that it has spawned needs to be reversed this was it.