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As Chris Fitzsimon noted with some biting and on-the-money humor last week, conservative state political leaders appear to have reached the point in the 2013 legislative session at which they have “jumped the shark.” For those who may not have caught the cultural reference, the phrase derives from a late-20th Century TV sitcom called “Happy Days”; the show was widely seen to have reached its nadir during an episode in which one of the main characters jumped over a shark while water skiing.

For conservatives, it’s hard to point out just one shark-jumping moment in their script, but as Chris notes, the bill to excuse the state from the First Amendment’s establishment clause seems like a strong contender.

Rob Christensen of Raleigh’s News & Observer wrote a rather curious column over the weekend in which he alleged that GOP leaders had basically gotten all the shark-jumping ideas under control, but judging by the agenda for the coming week Read More

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Kieran ShanahanYou know things are sliding pretty far right when one of the truest, conservative fire-breathers can’t satisfy the people running things at the General Assembly.

As reported here last week and by lots of other news outlets, conservatives at the General Assembly are pushing legislation to seize control of the Wake County Board of Education (along with several other insufficiently compliant local governmental bodies) by reducing the Board’s authority and rigging its electoral districts and election schedule. Indeed, according to conservative school board member John Tedesco, more such proposals are on the way.

Here, however, is one of the more ironic aspects of this whole shameful set of affairs: the Wake County district maps in question — the ones being redrawn again because the Right doesn’t like the board they produced — were drawn by conservative lawyer, long-time Locke Foundation patron and current McCrory administration official, Kieran Shanahan. Read More

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Just about anyone who expresses political and policy opinions in the wild and woolly world of Twitter has a “tweet” or two they’d like to take back. The demands of being current and pithy can be challenging and intoxicating.

Still, some of the stuff posted on the Twitter account of Hans von Spakovsky — the suppposed voter ID expert employed by the Heritage Foundation who will be appearing at this afternoon’s panel of experts at the General Assembly — are enough to make a person wonder about the man’s judgment and stability. (It’s also worth noting that von Spakovsky’s battles are not just confined to fighting with progressives. As this article notes, the man was recently given the boot from a Virginia elections board by a group of GOP judges and taken to the legal woodshed by former Reagan A.G. Richard Thornburg on the matter of the Voting Rights Act.  

Here are just a few of von Spakovsky’s far-ranging and rather incendiary tweets from recent months:

March 6: I’m sure Chavez got great welcome in his fiery new home from his compatriots Joseph, Adolph, & Mao;now waiting for their friend Fidel Read More

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Dan ForestNorth Carolina’s new Lt. Governor, Dan Forest, held forth in a rambling talk at a John Locke Foundation “Shaftsbury Society luncheon” earlier this week and in watching the 41 minute video one gets a real taste of the strange brew of ill-conceived and contradictory policy positions that now dominates on the modern American-Fox News-Tea Partying right.

As is often the case with many of his ideological allies, much of Forest’s talk is friendly and non-threatening. Whether he is lamenting the lousy Internet service he inherited in the Lt. Governor’s mansion or preaching that North Carolina ought to strive to be number one in the nation in K-12 education, Forest gives voice to many noncontroversial positions.

But, of course, as has been well-documented previously, Dan Forest is not just a friendly suburban architect or the semi-polished son of a former congresswoman.  Read More

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In case you missed it, Indy Week’s Billy Ball has a fascinating and disturbing story about the Chairman of North Carolina’s Mining and Energy Commission, Lee County Commissioner Jim Womack.

According to Ball’s story, in addition to his two public roles, Womack is also a fire-breathing, Tea Partying blogger at a website known as “Lee County’s Top Political Blog,” which the article describes as:

“an on-again, off-again haven for like-minded right-wingers to publish manifestos on local, state and national politics. Multiple authors, writing mostly anonymously as Founding Fathers, fire off diatribes that savage their political enemies.”

Ball reports that one author (who many believe to be Womack), writes posts under a number of pseudonyms — including “James Madison.” Here is an excerpt from one such post from September of 2011:

“Did you hear? Our benevolent imperial imam Barack Hussein Obama is coming to North Carolina. Hey Governess Perdue, what are you going to be doing Wednesday? Hanging out with your buddy Barack? That should provide a real lift to your re-election campaign! I’ll bet Pat McCrory is just green with envy.” Read More