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It wasn’t that long ago — about five years to be precise — that critics of then-Senator Barack Obama were complaining mightily about the presidential candidate’s numerous “present” votes while serving in the Illinois General Assembly. It turns out that Illinois and some other states (but not North Carolina) allow legislators the “present” option when voting on proposed bills.

The gist of the criticism, of course, was that a “present” vote is the wimp’s way out — a way to get credit for being there to collect your legislative paycheck without doing your duty and taking a position. 

This week, it will be interesting to see if any of Obama’s critics in North Carolina step up to direct the same criticism at Gov. Pat McCrory. As reported on Friday, the governor has decided to, in effect, vote “present” on one of the year’s dumbest bills — the proposal to keep Islamic Sharia Law from being given any effect in North Carolina. According to a statement, the Governor thinks the proposal is “unnecessary” but will simply punt and not sign or veto the measure. Under state law, the bill now becomes law.

But, of course, the question that arises is: If you think it’s unnecessary, why don’t you do your duty and take a stand? At least Obama’s “present” votes had the same practical effect as a “no” vote under Illinois law. McCrory’s wimp out lets a potentially unconstitutional absurdity become state law in North Carolina because, in effect, the Guv didn’t want to be bothered — a silly result that was also, unfotunately, allowed to happen on occasion by his predecessors. What a way to run a railroad!

 

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Gov. Pat McCrory seems to be repeating his mistakes, at least when it comes to explaining how and why 70,000 North Carolinians were cut-off from federal unemployment benefits on July 1.

The Republican governor told a Wilson Times reporter Wednesday that Democratic President Barack Obama could have made an exception for North Carolina and prevented the July 1 cut off, a not-so-accurate take on the situation that the governor gave  to reporters two days prior. (This was the same interview where McCrory said he routinely mingles with Moral Monday protesters though there have not been any reported sightings of him at the high-profile events.)

The problem is, McCrory’s blame on federal officials for North Carolina’s decision to cut off benefits for 70,000 unemployed residents isn’t accurate (as my colleague Chris Fitzsimon pointed out in his weekly Friday Follies column). It’s also not the first time McCrory was corrected about his mistake, after he made similar comments at a press conference Monday and his spokesperson acknowledged those mistakes that day.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of who said what, who reported what, and when. Read More

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The good people at Think Progress have made the President’s gun proposal and all of its common sense components easilty digestible with this handy 13-point explanation.

“The initiatives cover everything from mental heath, to gun safety, to blocking the most deadly firearms from making it to market. Here are some of the most important efforts the President introduced today:

1. Making background checks universal. Obama wants every single gun owner to go through a proper background check, so it can be determined whether they have a criminal history or diagnosed mental illness. He wants Congress to close the gun show loophole that allows people at gun shows, and private buyers of used weapons, to avoid getting checked. He will also, through executive action, urge private sellers to conduct background checks, even if they aren’t mandatory. Read More

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A swelling chorus of advice is emerging in recent days amongst progressive thinkers and commentators about the ongoing fiscal policy negotiations in Washington. The message: “Hang tough Mr. President.”

James Protzman over at Blue NC has posted an example — a nice little video from former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich.

But other are saying the same thing:

Robert Kuttner says a lot of the same things in this column, entitled “About time: Obama finally gets tough.”

Meanwhile, the experts at the Center on Economic and Policy Research have weighed in on the hysteria surrounding the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

Finally, Paul Krugman exposes the true nature of the conservative con game in this NYT column.