Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: It’s reigning men

Where are the men?

Have you noticed the peculiar absence of them from the Roe v. Wade discussions? It’s as if no one realizes they supply half the genetic material. Have they “gone fishin’?”

Outside of a few depressing references to some shadowy rapist whom a young woman may or may not be related to down in Back Acne, Arkansas, we’re hearing…crickets.

(While we’re on the subject of insects, researchers say male crickets attract females for mating by singing “loud repetitive songs at night.” Ugh. Even female insects try to “be nice” when they should just say, “Seriously? Metallica? Would it kill you to learn a little Harry Connick?”)

Being nice. It’s often our downfall. Because we have that burdensome need to be liked which men lack. Or we used to. Finally, mercifully, that may be relegated to the “before times.” Now we are mad and looking around for … the men.

They’ve disappeared as swiftly as they do when you want to go to Anthropologie and he sees Bass Pro Shop just ahead. Byeeeeeeeee.

Has the Rapture come and swooped up all the males of childbearing age? No, that can’t be it. They are out there, walking and talking and singing loud repetitive songs at night.

The Supreme Court’s decision was poorly reasoned and punitive against pregnant women, not their partners. I’d trust a decision made by a Bojangle’s Chicken Supreme before I’d trust those toadies in grad gowns.

Where are the gents? Do women suddenly reproduce all by themselves like a gaggle of greenflies?

There is nary a mention of the man’s responsibility in conception other than memes suggesting mandatory child support at the first heartbeat and required billing of his insurance for 50 percent of all the medical bills.

I’m not talking about the men out there marching and supporting women because, overnight, they lost the right to have a say-so over their own bodies. I’m talking about the ones who father the babies and then…split. Not a new problem, I’ll admit, but with the repeal of Roe v. Wade, it’s a whole different convo.

She: “I’m pregnant.”

He: “May the Lord open.”

She: “Wait. What?”

He: “Blessed be the fruit.”

She: “The state has taken over my body. You didn’t even get the Covid vaccine.”

He: “My body, my choice. Duh.”

People joke that if men could get pregnant, they’d be able to get an abortion at an ATM. (Which just makes me realize their bank must not be nearly as crappy as mine. Out of service. Again.)

Depending on the cruelty scale of your own state, the WOMAN can be arrested as can her doctor, as can anyone who so much as gives the name of a provider to the WOMAN.

At this point, she has the rights of her sister greenflies, which is to say none. She’s not even three-fifths in the inalienable rights department. The Constitution has outlived its usefulness. We cling to a document that was written during a time of slavery, no voting rights for women and minorities and, sure, muskets.

The Constitution is like a dress you can’t donate because it’s so comfortable and…pockets. But it’s old and torn and stained and hopelessly outdated.

The men, despite their absence from any of these discussions of forced pregnancy and consequences of jail time even in cases of rape and incest, may well be hurting for their girlfriends, wives, sisters, daughters.

But it’s a different kind of hurt when you have no skin in the game. Maybe they’ll find their voice if they can wear suits covered in decals like NASCAR drivers. The loud logos of Dick’s Sporting Goods, Amazon and Sony, all of whom pledge to help the womenfolk would stand out.

At least then we’d be able to see…the men.

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Write her at [email protected].

Republican-written NC budget easily clears first hurdles. Passage expected Friday

The state legislature approved the $27.9 billion Republican-written budget Thursday with bipartisan votes and by comfortable margins.

The budget passed 84-28 in the House and 38-9 in the Senate in preliminary votes.

Rep. Brandon Lofton D-Mecklenburg

Republican budget writers said their plan deals head-on with inflation and prepares the state for a recession.

“No one can predict what can happen with the economy in the year ahead,” said Rep. Dean Arp, a Monroe Republican. “We will continue to make responsible adjustments, apply the same fiscally conservative principles, an act with the same economic discipline that has put us in a strong financial position today.”

State economists said in May that North Carolina was going to bring in $6.2 billion more in tax revenue over two years than was estimated last year, and the state is building huge reserves.

Democrats said budget writers should have put more of the state’s hefty surplus toward bigger state employee and teacher raises.  State employee wages continue to fall behind private sector salaries and are not high enough to lure new hires to vacant positions, they said.

The budget give state employees 1% more than the 2.5% they were already slated to get. The State Employees Association of North Carolina was expecting more. The budget includes raises for teachers that average 4.2%, with a range of 2.5% to 7%.

“This budget fails to help families keep up with inflation,” said Rep. Brandon Lofton, a Mecklenburg County Democrat.

It fails to address the shortages of school counselors, nurses, and psychologists, does not provide additional salary support for law enforcement and public health workers that Democrats wanted, he said, it does not include Medicaid expansion.

“We have $30.7 billion available to put to use on behalf of North Carolina families,” Lofton said. “They’re counting on us to do better. And my hope is that we find a way to do so.”

Senate Democratic Leader Dan Blue of Raleigh framed his argument around a Bank of America ad that promoted its $22 an hour minimum wage.

New North Carolina teachers will make less than people working full-time at an entry level job at Bank of America, Blue said. And starting jobs at the bank don’t require a college degree, certification, or college loan debt, and don’t come with the challenges of being on the front line of the culture wars, he said.

“We ought to be thinking about things in a different way as we’re deciding how to allocate all of the resources that are available to us,” he said.

Legislators are set to take their final budget votes Friday before sending the plan to Gov. Roy Cooper.

‘Heartbroken’ by ‘unspeakable evil’: NC politicos react to Texas mass shooting that leaves 19 children dead

North Carolina lawmakers are responding to the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas in which an 18-year-old fatally shot 19 children and two adults at an elementary school. A Border Patrol agent shot the teenage gunman ending the rampage. Tuesday’s attack at Robb Elementary School came ten days after a deadly racially-motivated shooting in Buffalo, New York.

The following is a sampling of reaction from North Carolina’s elected officials:

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: Madison Cawthorn, boy blunder

When is someone going to report on the very worst thing about Madison Cawthorn?

The freshman congressman from Western North Carolina may lack the name recognition of Will “Bonecrusher” Smith, but to those of us who live in the Tar Heel state, he’s omnipresent as the aroma of chicken houses down east. (And, yes, it does smell like money to me.)

Cawthorn, all brash all the time, has been in the news a lot lately because of the ridiculous orgy-gate, in which he claimed to be recruited by elderly GOP types to participate in sex parties. We know they were GOP stalwarts because he said they were people he had “looked up to my whole life.”

While Cawthorn was drawing a generational divide (old v. young), he forgot that’s not how it works. You’re only allowed to make up lies about Democrats, women, minorities and the mainstream media, not your own party. What a dunderhead! This did not go over well with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy who took Cawthorn to the woodshed and emerged with the tight-lipped pronouncement the kid admitted he made it all up. McCarthy, sounding like a tent evangelist for the first time in his life, told Cawthorn it was time for him to turn his life around.


No stranger to lying (Google the list of documented lies; I honestly don’t have the space here), the 26-year-old boy blunder doesn’t get the attention he should for the new, very worst thing about him: He hates older people. Look at what he just accused the “60 and 70 year old’s” in Congress of doing.

Constantly yammering about his role as the youthful face of a new Republicanism, Cawthorn never misses a chance to sneer at his elders. All that papery skin. Blech.

He wears his ball cap with the bill on the side! He knows what a “key bump” of cocaine is! He called Biden an “inept geriatric despot.” Just haaaaad to include “geriatric,” didn’t ya, Maddy?

He wants those of us on Social Security to get off the dole and get a freakin’ job. In fact, Cawthorn wants to reduce Social Security by about a third and he wants to “incentivize people to work and get off entitlement programs like Social Security.” Hey, Junior. It’s called entitlement because I’m entitled to it on account of I paid into it for decades.

Cawthorn’s noisy contempt for older Americans is extraordinary—and extraordinarily stupid—when you consider the demographic of his blue-collar district—retired Republicans who don’t like being told they are layabouts after working 40 plus years in the furniture factory. Who can forget him cockily running against a 62-year-old retired Air Force Colonel who ran against him in 2020? Why you little…

Cawthorn’s constant nibbling on the hands that feed him is part of the reason he is facing SEVEN challengers in the primary May 17. He’s so bad at his job, seven Republicans are lined up to take him down. Good on ‘em.

It won’t be easy to get rid of the whippersnapper. Cawthorn’s got plenty of campaign money to counter the whole embarrassing non-orgy thing. Truth is, he’s made no secret that he would much prefer to represent a younger, hipper crowd. But of course.

When there was talk of redistricting in a way that would’ve effectively eliminated Cawthorn’s current corner of the west, he giddily pivoted to Charlotte. There are young people in them thar high rises—20 somethings with tech jobs and season tickets to the new pro soccer franchise.

In the end, the Charlotte-area redistricting favored Democrats, so he slunk home, not nearly as contrite as he should’ve been. Older folks know the most important lesson of all: “Dance with the one that brung ya.”

Maddy, you should heed that. Bruh.

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Write to her at [email protected].

Virginia health providers: “Kids are completely excited about getting a shot.”

Editor’s note: Earlier this week, Policy Watch reported on North Carolina’s progress in administering 24,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to children ages 5 to 11. Our neighbors to the north report nearly 5 percent of Virginia’s 5 to 11-year-olds have gotten their first doses and officials are hoping for continued demand. The Virginia Mercury’s Kate Masters reports:

7 year old Lydia Melo gets a COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo credit: Duke University)

More than 35,000 children were vaccinated in the first week of Virginia’s pediatric rollout

Among the things that Pearl Barry is excited to do once she’s fully vaccinated: hang out with friends, eat inside at restaurants and visit SkyZone, a sprawling indoor trampoline park.

“I mean, obviously,” said the eight-year-old from Bon Air. “Who wouldn’t be?” She got her first dose of Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine on Wednesday night, and besides the hour-long wait at her local Walgreens, the process went relatively smoothly. The shot itself felt like the smallest pinch ever, Pearl said — more like a mosquito bite. And her dad, Tim Barry, was equally relieved to see both Pearl and her 5-year-old sister, June, take their first steps toward full immunization.

“Pearl probably asks to go to SkyZone two or three times a week,” he said. “So we’re really excited to have this coincide with Christmas and be able to be more free about seeing friends and family.”

Across Virginia, other parents are feeling the same jubilation. In the first week after federal officials authorized Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for 5 to 11-year-olds, more than 35,000 children received their first dose — close to 5 percent of the state’s total population in that age group, according to data from the Virginia Department of Health.

The rush by many families to embrace pediatric vaccines has been a relief for state health officials after national polling (conducted before the federal authorization) indicated only 27 percent of parents planned to get their children immunized “right away.” VDH hasn’t released demographic data on the 5 to 11-year-olds who have already received their first doses, making it difficult to determine whether disparities have emerged between different groups in getting the shots. Read more