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Loretta LynchThe U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote this morning on the nomination of North Carolina native Loretta Lynch to serve as the nation’s next Attorney General.

If approved by the Committee, her nomination will move to the full Senate for a final vote, and if confirmed there Lynch will become the first African-American woman to serve in that role.

The daughter of a black Baptist minister and a school librarian who once picked cotton in the eastern part of North Carolina, Lynch made her way from Durham to Brooklyn, where she has twice led the U.S. Attorney’s Office there.

Colleagues and adversaries alike have called her a tough, fair, and independent lawyer and a leader of one of the most active and effective U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the nation.

New York Police Commissioner William Bratton called her “a remarkable prosecutor with a clear sense of justice without fear or favor.

Former NYC Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly praised Lynch as a person who “upholds the highest ethical standard” and “would serve our country well” as the attorney general.

And former FBI director Louis Freeh wrote in a letter to Judiciary Committee leadership that he couldn’t think of “a more qualified nominee” and was “happy to give Ms. Lynch my highest personal and professional recommendation.”

Lynch also garnered the respect of several senators serving on the 20-member Committee, before whom she appeared for questioning in late January.

Eleven of those senators are Republican — including newly-minted North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis – and nine are Democrats.

With a supporting vote, Tillis could help make Lynch the first North Carolinian to lead the Justice Department.

But he has not publicly announced his support, and his office did not respond to a phone call seeking comment.

Others on both sides of the aisle have expressed their support, though.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein called Lynch’s performance at her confirmation hearing one of the best she’d witnessed.

“I see the combination of steel and velvet,” Feinstein said.

And Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch said he was impressed by Lynch and plans to support her.

Despite that support, an effort is apparently underway among Republicans in the Senate to derail her nomination, according to this report in the News & Observer.

Fifty-one Republican senators have signed a letter urging Judiciary Committee members to oppose her nomination, saying they suspected that Lynch would likely continue the policies of Eric Holder, whom she’d succeed as Attorney General.

Holder made few friends among Republicans in the Senate, and during her confirmation hearing, Lynch found herself being pushed to distance herself from that.

“If confirmed as attorney general, I would be myself,” she said in response to questioning.

“I would be Loretta Lynch.”

 

Commentary

Thom_Tillis_official_portraitIf the simple and undeniable fact that lots of humans fail at basic hygiene procedures without reminders and rules isn’t enough to convince Senator Thom Tillis of the need for “burdensome” hand washing rules in restaurants (see the post below), here’s another fact that you would think would be persuasive: the widespread lack of paid sick days laws. Thanks to Tillis and his conservative friends, the U.S. is one of a small handful of countries that doesn’t guarantee workers some paid time off when they or a family member gets sick. Needless to say, North Carolina doesn’t require them either.

The result, of course, is that lots of people come to work — including in restaurants and other businesses in which they interact with the public — sick and contagious. Given such an absurd situation, you’d think the least Tillis and his fellow ideologues could do is toss the public a bone in the form of support for strong hygiene laws.

Absent some kind of turnaround on the Senator’s part, however, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. According to Typhoid Thom and his fellow ideologues, the “genius of the market” will take care of the problem since consumers will stop patronizing restaurants where people are known to get sick.

All of which begs the question, of course, of whether we should also repeal such rules for hygiene in other private businesses like hospitals and other health care facilities. Maybe the senator can clarify his position on such a question in the coming days. We can’t wait.

Commentary

Pat McCrory 4Thom TillisWhat is it about the title “partner” that’s so attractive and impressive that prominent pols would go out of their way — and even stretch the truth a smidgen — to leave voters with the impression that they were in fact holders of such a moniker during their lives in the private sector?

First, it was new U.S. Senator Thom Tillis who went out of his way to make sure everyone knew that he was a “partner” at the corporate giants PriceWaterhouseCoopers and IBM before becoming a politician. As WRAL’s Mark Binker reported last year, this claim may have been sort of kind of technically true, but was also a bit of a stretch once Tillis landed at IBM.

Now the pol whose previous claims of “partner” status are in question is Gov. Pat McCrory. As the editorial page of the Charlotte Observer notes this morning in an op-ed entitled “McCrory vs. the truth — again”:

“Was Pat McCrory fibbing then, or is he fibbing now?

For years, McCrory was declared a partner in his brother’s firm. But on state ethics forms, the governor claimed he was merely a consultant, not a partner. There’s a big difference. Read More

Commentary

Payday loansPayday lenders (and other short-term lenders) along with their trade associations have spent more than $13 million on lobbying and campaign donations since 2013, according to a new report put out by the Americans for Financial Reform (AFR).

The report is particularly troubling because it comes at a time when the government is finally beginning to crack down on “quick-fix” lenders, who are known for trapping vulnerable cash-strapped borrowers in cycles of debt by charging obscenely high fees in exchange for an immediate payout. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is expected to announce a set of rules next year that could bring dramatic changes to the payday lending market. Additionally, the Department of Justice has been zeroing in on banks and payment processors that knowingly facilitate fraud. The only enforcement action brought by the Justice Department in this operation (known as “Operation Choke Point”) so far has been in North Carolina. The Four Oaks Bank & Trust of North Carolina in collaboration with a Texas-based payments company was found to have processed around $2.4 billion in illegal transactions including those benefiting payday lenders. Read More

Commentary

President ObamaMake sure you check out Policy Watch’s main page for the most recent article in the Fitzsimon File, which argues persuasively that President Obama made a bigger impact on North Carolina this year than anyone else, on either side of the political aisle.

On the Republican side, one name was brought up more during the hotly contested U.S. Senate race that dominated the year, than any other and it wasn’t Tillis or Hagan.

Think about it. The Republicans made the election more about Obama than anything happening in North Carolina or anything that Tillis was proposing. They distorted Obama’s record in ad after ad that blasted Democratic Senator Kay Hagan for supporting most of his initiatives. Tillis couldn’t seem to make a public appearance without reminding voters that Hagan voted with Obama “95 percent of the time.”

For progressives, there are so many things Obama did to positively impact the lives of North Carolinians this year.

The national unemployment rate is now below six percent, down significantly from its recession of high of 10 percent. Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney pledged on the campaign trail in 2012 to reduce the unemployment rate to below six percent by end of his first four-year-term

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