When Ambassador Entertainment raises the ticket prices at its four Raleigh movie theaters in January – its first price hike in four years – moviegoers will receive leaflets blaming the increase on state legislators and Gov. Pat McCrory. “I plan to put responsibility where responsibility is due,” said Bill Peebles, president of Ambassador, whose theaters include the Rialto and Mission Valley Cinema. The upcoming expansion of the state sales tax to a broad range of admissions charges – including movies, college and professional sporting events, concerts, plays and museums – means that arts patrons and sports fans alike will probably pay more to enjoy their favorite pastimes.
There he goes again: “We didn’t shorten early voting, we compacted the calendar.” Now, that’s positively Orwellian. And it’s the latest in a long string of eye-catching – and embarrassing – statements by Governor McCrory. Two weeks ago, John Frank wrote in the N&O: “At least a dozen times in his first 10 months as governor, McCrory’s remarks have sparked controversies. McCrory is prone to misspeaking. He generalizes in a way that can insult key constituencies. And he mispronounces the names of even his closest aides.” So now it’s a game to keep score on when the Governor, instead of “stepping on toes,” as he likes to say, is tripping over his own feet. But wait, there’s more. McCrory also said, “If you survey most Democrats, they also agree with our laws and voter ID.” That may have been true at one time. But no more. Democratic support is dropping as more and more Republicans tell the dirty little truth that McCrory won’t admit: There is no problem with voter fraud. This law is intended to keep Democrats from voting. But we’re not done yet. McCrory also said controversy over the voter-suppression law is “much ado about nothing.” “Nothing”? Suppressing a citizen’s right to vote is “nothing”? Three things here. One, the Governor’s staff needs to recognize that he’s prone to these stumbles when he’s doing national-media interviews. He gets careless, and he overreaches.
The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources announced earlier this month that it would begin evaluating sites to gauge the potential for hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” — which opponents say might endanger the health of those in its backyard. Although widespread tests will not begin until the department receives funding or a mandate from the N.C. General Assembly, it will begin testing in the Dan River, Deep River and Cumberland-Marlboro basins, said Jamie Kritzer, department spokesman. “Everything we do is called for by law,” he said. The agency must wait for permission before evaluating other sites.
Dome: Morning Memo: Speciale gets an opponent; McCrory gets a special delivery
State Rep. Michael Speciale, a Republican from New Bern, now has a Democratic opponent: New Bern lawyer Whit Whitley. Whitley called himself “middle of the road” in announcing his candidacy. Speciale is perhaps best known for challenging the puppy mill bill championed by first lady Ann McCrory last session. The bill required access to fresh food and water, daily exercise, appropriate veterinary care, and if needed, humane euthanasia. During the debate, which the first lady watched, Speciale said the bill was too vague. “Daily exercise. If I kick the dog across the room every day, is that considered daily exercise?” he asked. “Euthanasia performed humanely. Should I choose the ax or the baseball bat?”
New Bern attorney Whit Whitley announced Monday he’s seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Rep. Michael Speciale, R-Craven, next fall. Speciale, a freshman legislator, represents House District 3, made up of Beaufort, Craven, and Pamlico Counties. He soundly defeated Democrat Robert Cayton in 2012.Speciale’s predecessor was Norm Sanderson, who defeated incumbent Democrat Alice Graham Underhill in 2010 by a wide margin. Sanderson moved to the Senate in 2012 after redistricting. According to his announcement release, Whitley is managing partner of the Whitley Law Firm, and also owns a small retail business in New Bern with his wife, Kelly.
On the other side of the street, Robert Dempsey, executive director of the North Carolina Democratic Party, said Tillis was “a lapdog for special interests, and they have him on a really short leash.” If you missed the point, state party spokesman Ben Ray stood beside him dressed in a dog costume. Dempsey recognized some common cause with the conservative protesters in their criticism of Tillis, and also Rove for meddling in the state primary process. But Dempsey said that Tillis, who supported the government shutdown and opposed the deal to re-open it, could pass every tea party test. “Show me a substantive difference between any of them,” Dempsey said. “Hagan puts North Carolina first.” He said she was in a good position, despite falling poll numbers in the state for her, President Obama and the Affordable Care Act she voted for. “The only poll that matters is next November.”
Texas state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D) announced her bid for lieutenant governor on Saturday. Speaking at the San Antonio College gymnasium before hundreds of supporters, Van de Putte made her plans to join Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) on the campaign trail official. It is the first time in Texas history that women will lead a major party’s ticket for the state’s top offices, and only the fourth time in national history. Discussing her concerns with the states of education, transportation, immigration, women’s rights and veterans affairs, Van de Putte insisted, "Doesn’t Texas deserve better than that?" "We’re proud of Texas, too, but Texas families deserve better than what they’ve been getting," Van de Putte said. "Texas can do better than this, and that’s why I announce that I’ll ask the people of Texas to hire me as their next lieutenant governor."
The Obama comparisons ended once Cruz took office. As a junior senator, Cruz has aggressively courted national media coverage to promote his causes, a strategy counter to the one President Obama used when he first entered Congress. According to Tommy Vietor, a former Obama Senate press aide who later worked for Obama both on his 2008 campaign and in the White House, the then-Illinois senator “basically declined every national press interview for nine months once he took office.” It was the same approach taken by Hillary Clinton when she was elected in 2000: “Keep your head down, focus on your work, and don’t look like you’re a show horse.” In Vietor’s opinion, “when you’re an elected official and out doing every possible interview and on cable news, it diminishes you and makes people wonder why you aren’t spending more time doing your actual job.” As senator, Obama also took pains to avoid the appearance of even considering a presidential campaign and only visited Iowa twice before beginning his presidential campaign, both times while campaigning for fellow Democrats in the runup to the 2006 midterm elections.
VA ATTORNEY GENERAL
Politico: Mark Obenshain weighs recount in Virginia attorney general race
The Virginia State Board of Elections certified Democrat Mark Herring’s 165-vote lead in the attorney general race on Monday, clearing the way for Republican Mark Obenshain to ask for a recount. Obenshain will decide whether to ask for a recount within the 10-day window provided by the state, campaign manager Chris Leavitt said. “Margins this small are why Virginia law provides a process for a recount,” Leavitt said in a statement. “However, a decision to request a recount, even in this historically close election, is not one to be made lightly.” More than 2.2 million Virginians cast votes in the Nov. 5 election. Herring declared victory after local election officials finished reviewing their tallies earlier this month. A Herring victory would complete a Democratic sweep of Virginia’s five statewide offices, the first since 1969.
(On POLITICO Magazine: A tale of two purple states) In a statement on Monday, Herring said he was “gratified” by the state’s certification of a “close but fair election.”
The Virginia Board Of Elections certified State Sen. Mark Herring (D-Loudon) as the winner of the Virginia attorney general’s race on Monday. Herring defeated state Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) in the election, theclosest statewide race in Virginia history. Herring had a 165-vote lead out of over 2.2 million votes cast. On Monday morning, the Obenshain campaign told The Huffington Post he had not made a decision on whether or not to ask for a recount. Obenshain has 10 days under state law to request a recount, which the law allows the trailing candidate to do if the final margin of victory is less than one-half of 1 percent.
The post drew the attention of homeschool advocates who believe they deserve total freedom from any government intrusion or oversight, with attitudes ranging to the extreme reflected in this comment: "Parents should be sent to jail for subjecting their children to public school." My concern related to the possibility that a few parents might use homeschooling status as a means of isolating their children, creating an environment where abusive treatment would be undetected. The Charlotte Observer takes a close look at that issue today, reporting that Wanda Sue Larson, the Union County woman charged with abuse for chaining an 11-year-old boy to her porch with a dead chicken tied around his neck, was "homeschooling" him and four other children in her care.
U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan plans to sign up for health insurance on the North Carolina market under the Affordable Care Act, her office confirmed Monday.The law includes a section that requires members of Congress and their staff to purchase health insurance on the marketplaces that the law set up. Hagan will give up an employer contribution because she has decided to get her insurance on the North Carolina marketplace, not the D.C. one.Hagan’s staff says it wasn’t a new decision, just one that hadn’t been flagged previously.
New Republic: You Might Lose Your Doctor, But Don’t Blame Obamacare
If you’re a fellow health policy geek, then you may have guessed the punch line. This article isn’t from 2013. It’s from 2002. And it’s a reminder of the essential truth here. Insurance companies have been using limited provider networks for a long time. It’s how they conducted business before Obamacare came along and, for better or worse, it’s how they’ll conduct business now that Obamacare is law. Maybe a little history would put this issue in its proper context. Once upon a time, most insurance carriers would pay for care provided by pretty much any person or facility with a license. But that got expensive and, by the 1980s, insurers responded by reducing what they would pay for services—and then limiting beneficiaries to networks of doctors and hospitals willing to accept these lower fees.
An administrative panel of three federal judges ordered Monday that Margaret Fonberg be given back pay to offset discrimination she faced when her domestic partner was denied federal health insurance. The order of the administrative panel of the9h Circuit is not a court ruling directly applicable to other cases. It is notable, however, for the federal judges’ conclusion that treating same-sex couples in a domestic partnership in a state where they cannot marry differently than married same-sex couples is unconstitutional.
The confluence of two pieces of news last week will place Republicans at a moral crossroads — either by this weekend, or whenever Healthcare.gov can legitimately be described as a “working” website. The first came from Jeffrey Zients — the Obama administration point person in charge of fixing Healthcare.gov — who told reporters on Friday that the site will be able to handle 50,000 users at a time and 800,000 users a day by the the end of next week. That’s double the current capacity, and right in time for an expected surge in demand just before the end of the year. The second came from the pro-reform group Families USA, which examined options available to 15 million people who are currently covered on the individual market (many of whose policies have been canceled and will lapse by the end of the year) under the Affordable Care Act. /
For some time now, the daily commentary has focused on the public’s increasing anger and frustration about the sluggish economic recovery, dysfunctional government and a failure of leadership. But all this analysis misses the more fundamental point, which is that Americans’ alienation from our political system and its leaders has been building for more than a decade. This extended period of dissatisfaction has had an extremely corrosive effect on the nation’s social fabric. The current discontent with the leadership in our country, coupled with long-term domestic economic trends dating back to the early 1980s, is beginning to force a redrawing of the political lines that have separated Americans since the culture wars of the 1960s. An emerging movement in our country is calling for change to the status quo and to the leadership class. Across the political spectrum, there is an growing populist push for a retrenchment from global affairs, with a renewed focus on the problems here at home. Americans are worried about the struggles of the battered middle class, whose real incomes have not improved in more than two decades, the elimination of special deals for the wealthy and big business and the protection of the public’s privacy from what they see as predatory companies and an intrusive federal government. These are the issues that will dominate our politics going forward, and we will see populists from the left and the right increasingly come together to force change.
The old “dependency” saw is a Republican favorite from way back. It’s been harped upon by every Republican blowhard with a platform, and was especially popular during the 2012 Republican primaries, when Newt Gingrich famously decried so-called efforts by “the food stamp president to maximize dependency.” Gingrich, like Ryan, imagines government assistance programs to create disincentives for everything from work to innovation to the pursuit of one’s dreams, which would seem to suggest some kind of interest in the well-being of poor people.But don’t be fooled: The “dependency” argument, as proposed by the GOP in every venue and format imaginable, is nothing more than thinly veiled scorn for the poor, and suggests a plan for moral discipline, not positive outcomes in the handling of poverty.
Buzzfeed: A Brief History Of Presidents Pardoning Turkeys
Presidents haven’t been giving turkeys a pass for as long as you might think.
Micah Beasley, Press Secretary
North Carolina Democratic Party
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