Local Interest

The HB2 Repeal: Is It As Bad As Everyone Says?

Well, I find myself in the awkward position of disagreeing with friends, colleagues, and organizations that I respect (like the ACLU, of which I have been an active member for 24 years). That’s not fun. The issue? House Bill 142.

For those living under a rock, HB142 is the bill passed by the North Carolina General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Cooper yesterday. It attempts to repeal HB2 — the heinous “transgender bathroom bill” —  and more importantly (from some people’s perspective) appease the NCAA which has threatened to ban North Carolina from holding any tournaments due to HB2.

To read some of the headlines, you would think HB142 lines up transgender people and shoots them. “The HB2 “Repeal” Bill Is an Unmitigated Disaster for LGBTQ Rights and North Carolina” screams Slate. Reverend Barber calls it “an insult to civil rights“.  The ACLU says: “there is no repeal of the anti-trans HB2, only more discrimination“.

Really? There’s actually been NO repeal AT ALL?  There’s MORE discrimination?  What am I missing?  Am I the one who is crazy?

Quite possibly. But right now, I honestly believe HB 142 is a fairly decent compromise.  And it’s quite possible that the resistance may be overplaying this victory by casting as a loss.

Those who do this are wrong in my view.  HB142 is not HB2.0.

Let’s get a few things out of the way:

First, this was always going to be a compromise bill. Republicans rule the North Carolina General Assembly.  So if you expected a civil rights bill ON TOP OF a repeal of HB2, then somebody sold you a lie.  And it wasn’t Governor Cooper. Now, it is perfectly reasonable to demand that the law protect transgender people (as well as gay, bisexual, queer, etc. people). *I* demand that. But those things do not come in a day.  They just don’t. We’re STILL working on racial inequality for crying out loud.  The exercise here — with this bill — was not to get the law to protect transgender people, but to get the law to stop discriminating against them.  So if you are in the “all or nothing, today” camp, stop reading, because I practice the art of the possible, and nothing I say going forward will please you (in fact, it will likely infuriate you).

Secondly, to those who say that HB 142 doesn’t do enough — well, of course not. Again — it is a compromise bill. I have no reason to think that Roy Cooper or Senator Jackson or the others did not hammer out the best deal possible.  Again, it wasn’t intended to resolve the issue of transgender rights for all time.

Finally, I personally could not give a damn about the NCAA and where tournaments are held. I think the loss of jobs to the state are, and should be, a concern.  Same with the loss of state “prestige”. But the bottom line for me is civil rights. For me, that overshadows everything.  That’s the yardstick I am using here to measure the success, or lack thereof, of HB142 in comparison to HB2. So please don’t question my motive. I want what the ACLU and the LGBTQ community and all lovers of civil rights want – full stop, period.

That said, HB2 is dead. Can I get an “amen”?

Bueller?

Bueller?

If you read some of these articles (or scan the headlines) you would think HB2 is not dead, or that it had been supplemented with worse stuff.  So let’s break this down and discuss what HB142 — now the law — actually does.  Because it’s short, I’ll insert the entire text:

Okay, so is HB2 repealed? Yes. It’s right there in English.  Section One. Statutory Laws 2016-3 — which is HB2 — is repealed.  Click the link. Read what HB2 was.  It was a lot!  It’s gone now.

So let’s move to the NCAA gripes, because it was in plain non-legalese English, and it will help explain what is no longer.  Here, specifically, is the reason the NCAA singled out North Carolina for the proposed ban (from the NCAA website):

The board stressed that the dynamic in North Carolina is different from that of other states because of at least four specific factors: 

  • North Carolina laws invalidate any local law that treats sexual orientation as a protected class or has a purpose to prevent discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individuals. 
  • North Carolina has the only statewide law that makes it unlawful to use a restroom different from the gender on one’s birth certificate, regardless of gender identity.  
  • North Carolina law provides legal protections for government officials to refuse services to the LGBT community. 
  • Five states plus numerous cities prohibit travel to North Carolina for public employees and representatives of public institutions, which could include student-athletes and campus athletics staff. These states are New York, Minnesota, Washington, Vermont and Connecticut. 

The second and third factors are gone. HB142 wiped them out with the stroke of a pen.  The fourth factor relies on those other cities, but they will presumably permit travel to North Carolina now.

That’s not nothing.  That’s something.  That’s a victory.  Can we acknowledge that?

To be sure, it returns us to the status quo — i.e., the time Charlotte’s ordinance protecting those with non-conforming gender identity. Is the government working to protect the transgender community from discrimination?  Nope.  But now the government is not doing the actual discrimination itself, and, yes, that is big.

It’s like desegregating the public water fountains, even though the business-owned lunch counters remain segregated.  It’s NOT “nothing”; it’s NOT “worse”. It’s an improvement.

What about the NCAA’s first factor and the argument that HB142 does not allow Charlotte and other communities to pass laws protecting the transgender community (at least until 2020)?  I shake my head at that argument, and this is where I think most people have it wrong. We shouldn’t WANT local municipalities to have the power to “enact or amend an ordinance regulating private employment practices or regulating private public accommodation”.

Why not?

Because hundreds of communities in North Carolina will take the opportunity to stick it to the LGBTQ community.

What’s the point of repealing HB2 if Apex, North Carolina (for example) can turn around and pass its own version next week?  You see, not every community in North Carolina is as enlightened as Charlotte or Raleigh or Asheville.  In fact, most aren’t (drive through East Carolina one day).  And LGBTQ people are everywhere in North Carolina. Taking legislative power away from local municipalities was a feature, not a bug.

Also, it is better off if the battlefield is the state legislature — ONE state legislature — rather than hundreds of cities, town, incorporated settlements, etc.  The “resistance” lacks the resources to fight the transgender discrimination issue in every NC municipality and win. Leaving invidious prejudicial treatment to the whims of local legislatures would allow pockets of prejudice to exist for decades (see, for example, the school district in Mississippi which finally became racially desegregated this month!)

What happens in 2020, when the prohibition is lifted?  In truth, it matters little.  The provision to kick the can down the road wasn’t meant to postpone justice.  And it certainly wasn’t meant to postpone injustice.  It just acknowledges reality — that no matter what the state legislature does, it will end up in the courts, as everything does with civil rights.

Put another way — you’re not going to end discrimination against the transgender community completely until a court says so. End of story. You can’t legislate “equal protection under the law” because it is a constitutional/legal issue, not a political one.  And by 2020, these issues will have been worked out.

Yes, it is true that repealing HB2 probably killed North Carolina lawsuits against HB2 (rendered them moot).  But there are plenty of other lawsuits out there, most notably, Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board, regarding the 17 year old transgender male student in a Virginia high school. Sent back down to the Fourth Circuit from the U.S. Supreme Court a few weeks ago, it is likely to go back up as soon as the Fourth Circuit decides (both sides are likely to appeal).  And the outcome there will govern what happens in North Carolina — mostly likely in 2019.

So what do we have to be upset about?  HB2 is no more. HB2-like discrimination cannot sneak in through the back door via local legislatures.  And everything is on hold until the courts resolve this, which they were going to do anyway.  It hasn’t slowed down the litigation track.

“Justice delayed is justice denied” is a maxim used by Martin Luther King, Jr., but dates back to William Penn and even the Magna Carta. I wholly acknowledge that transgender people have every reason to be anxious and upset that the guarantee of their civil rights were not met on March 30, 2017.  I don’t know who or what led them to believe the a Democratic governor in a mostly-conservative state could deliver them their rightful legal protections in one fell swoop.

But if they are angry, then I say good.  They need to be; everyone needs to be.  But nobody should feel defeated by HB142, as many do.  The system works, albeit slowly, and if you don’t remind people every once in a while of their victories, then cynicism wins.  And when cynicism wins, corruption and prejudice is not far behind.

This goes in the win column, and we need to remain vigilant. THAT’S my point.  I ask permission to revise and extend my remarks as needed.

Former NC Governor Pat McCrory Needs Protection From Words

News & Observer:

Does former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory need protection? Do all current and former public officials? At least one state senator thinks so.

After a video was posted on Facebook Friday showing a group of people following McCrory during a trip to Washington, D.C., for inaugural weekend, chanting “Shame!” and calling him a bigot, Sen. Dan Bishop of Charlotte says he’ll introduce legislation to protect public officials.

The proposed legislation would “make it a crime to threaten, intimidate, or retaliate against a present or former North Carolina official in the course of, or on account of, the performance of his or her duties,” Bishop said.

“Because lines are being crossed,” Bishop, a Republican who represents the 39th District in the North Carolina Senate, wrote in an email from his Senate campaign account.

Bishop was one of the sponsors of House Bill 2, or “the bathroom bill” which McCrory signed into law. The bill was criticized for nullifying local non-discrimination ordinances statewide, directing transgender people to use restrooms and locker rooms matching the gender on their birth certificate in government-owned buildings and initially revoking the right to sue in state court for discrimination.

Bishop calls the group of people of indeterminate number “a chanting mob” and “ubiquitous leftist rioters” and wonders whether the “mob fell upon the former governor by coincidence or if they stalked him.”

Bishop said such behavior should come with a five-year prison sentence and said he’ll introduce the legislation to make it so in North Carolina, similar to an ordinance in the District of Columbia.

“So should it be in North Carolina,” he wrote. “This is dangerous. Jim Hunt, Bev Purdue and other governors never faced riotous mobs in their post-service, private lives, without personal security.”

Bishop said he also will urge his fellow legislators “to take other appropriate steps to guarantee the personal safety of Gov. McCrory by all means necessary.”

This is the video:

Now, whatever you think of the McCrory or the protesters, there is this little thing called the First Amendment.  But I won’t lecture here.  This State Senator ought to know better.

NC Legislature Still At It

Despite protests, widespread criticism and a threat by the governor-elect to challenge in court any moves that he believes would unconstitutionally limit his power, the Republican-controlled North Carolina legislature is pushing through reforms that would severely limit the incoming Democratic governor’s power.

It’s insane.  One such measure, which passed the House, was that the GOP and the Democratic Party would alternate the years in which they serve as the head of the Board of Electors in each county.  The catch? The GOP will chair all 100 county boards of elections in high-turnout even-numbered years (2018, 2020, 2022, etc.).

And get this…

How indeed?  Do they think we don’t see the inherent disadvantage that one party chairs the board of elections during even-numbered years?

Fortunately, there is pushback from the Dems about the LACK of bi-partisanship.

As I write this, there are citizen protest in the gallery.  They are trying to close the gallery now.

Other measures include the partisan election of NC Supreme Court judges.  The trend in America is to move AWAY from partisan elected judges (i.e., where judges indicate their political party).  But North Carolina is to become the first state since Pennsylvania in 1921 to move back to partisan Supreme Court judge elections.

LATE UPDATE:  SB4 passes and is signed by Gov. McCrory

SB4 would create a bipartisan commission merging the current State Board of Elections, State Ethics Commission and the lobbying functions of the Secretary of State’s office, although Democrats correctly say that there is nothing “bi-partisan” about it.

Democrats said it couldn’t be called bipartisan because they weren’t involved in creating the proposal. Republicans call it bipartisan because it would create a state board and county election boards comprised of members equally split between the parties. It would also deprive the incoming Democratic administration of control of those boards; currently, the administration can appoint three of the five state members and two of the three members on each county board.

Democrats also argued that the bill is far-reaching and should be discussed in more detail in the long session next year. Republican sponsors said the ideas in the bill have been discussed in the legislature for years, and that this is a good time to make the changes because there is no impending election.

The bill would also give Gov. Pat McCrory the authority to make a one-time appointment to fill a vacancy on the state Industrial Commission for a six-year term plus the unexpired portion of the commissioner’s term. Normally, a vacancy replacement only fills out the remainder of a term.

It would also identify state Supreme Court candidates by party in primary elections.

AND MORE:

Good way to phrase it.

Another bill nearing final legislative approval would force Cooper’s Cabinet choices to be subject to Senate confirmation.

The Brazen NCGOP Power Grab

The lame-duck North Carolina legislature’s is engaging in a last-minute effort to weaken the office of the governor before Democrat Roy Cooper.

Here’s one thing they are doing.

Back in 2013, this same legislature dramatically increased the number of what are technically called “exempt positions” under the governor, giving newly elected Republican Gov. Pat McCrory significant new patronage power. The number of political appointees authorized for McCrory exploded from about 500 to 1,500.

Now a new bill introduced in the surprise special session, called yesterday with about two hours notice, cuts the number of political appointees for Cooper from 1,500 down to 300, even fewer than McCrory originally started with.

Let that sink in. And it’s not just political appointees being taken away from Cooper. The lame-duck GOP legislature scheming with the defeated lame-duck GOP governor to handcuff the new Democratic governor on everything from the courts to the elections boards to higher education.

It’s a power grab of epic proportions.

House Rules Committee Chairman David Lewis (Republican) was frank that some of the appointment and election board changes were prompted by Cooper’s election.

“Some of the stuff we’re doing, obviously if the election results were different, we might not be moving quite as fast on, but a lot of this stuff would have been done anyway and has been talked about for quite some time,” he said.

House Democratic Leader Larry Hall of Durham said Republicans were trying to “nullify the vote of the people” in electing Cooper, who defeated McCrory last month.

The Charlotte Observer editorial board:

It’s both breathtaking and hardly surprising.

With a scope never before seen in North Carolina politics – and with an all-too-familiar disrespect for democracy – Republicans in Raleigh are engaging in a stunning reach for power this week.

They want to change the ideological makeup of election boards. They want to make it more difficult for court challenges to get to a Democrat-friendly Supreme Court. They want to limit the number of appointees Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper will be able to make. They want approval authority over some of those appointees.

It is an arrogant display of muscle-flexing, and Republicans weren’t shy about the goal. Legislators, said House Rules Committee Chairman David Lewis, wanted “to establish that we are going to continue to be a relevant party in governing this state.”

In other words: We’re in control. We want more control. We’ll do what we want to get it.

You might recognize that sentiment. It was what Democrats expressed in 1977 after the Democrat-led General Assembly passed legislation that allowed new Gov. Jim Hunt to fire all employees hired in the previous five years by his Republican predecessor. Said Joe Pell, then special assistant to Hunt: “The game of politics, as far as I know, is still played on the basis of ‘to the victor belongs the spoils.’”

That 1977 power grab was much smaller than what Republicans have attempted this week. It was wrong then and it’s wrong now, not only because it weakens the other branches of state government, but because it subverts the will of voters who elected Cooper and a Democrat Supreme Court justice to be a check on the Republican legislature.

The 1977 statute also was unconstitutional, and judges struck it down. You can expect this week’s measures to also head straight to the courts, a place where N.C. Republicans have regularly been reminded of the limits of their power.

There’s someone else, however, who can do that first. Gov. Pat McCrory is a lame duck now, which means he has one more opportunity to stand up to the extremists in his party. He also has little to lose, which means he can be the governor many had hoped for all along – one who was willing to do what’s right for North Carolina, not just what’s good for Republicans.

We’ve seen more glimpses of that McCrory lately. His response to Hurricane Matthew and its aftermath was both strong and compassionate. He was the leader the state needed, including this week in following through on relief so many North Carolinians desperately need.

Now North Carolina needs McCrory to lead again. He knows that limiting the next governor’s power, as Republicans are attempting this week, is wrong. As governor, he fought the legislature’s attempt to steal his appointing authority to key N.C. commissions, eventually winning in the N.C. Supreme Court earlier this year. He should veto all new attempts to weaken the office he’s about to leave.

Will doing so change McCrory’s legacy? Probably not. And any veto he makes might fall in an override vote – a fear that’s caused McCrory to bow to Republicans in the past.

But North Carolina has learned plenty these last four years the damage that can be done when one party – any party – accumulates too much power. That’s been on display once again this week, perhaps more brazenly, and dangerously, than ever.

People have noticed, fortunately.

Incoming governor Roy Cooper warns that the substance of these bills are horrible:

“Most people might think this is a partisan power grab, but it’s really more ominous,” Cooper said at a news conference.

House Bill 17, which was introduced Wednesday night and was moving through committees on Thursday, does the following:

  • It reduces the number of exempt positions under Cooper’s supervision from 1,500 to 300. Exempt positions are those that a governor can hire or fire at will, either because they are managers or because their job is somewhat political in nature. Although former Gov. Bev Perdue had roughly 500 such positions under her control, GOP lawmakers gave Gov. Pat McCrory 1,500 to work with.
  • It removes gubernatorial appointments to the various boards of trustees that run each campus in the University of North Carolina system. Those appointments would be would be transferred to the General Assembly.
  • It requires Senate confirmation for gubernatorial cabinet appointments. Although the state constitution allows this, the legislature hasn’t exercised this power in recent memory.

Cooper said the proposal “is really about hurting public education, working families, state employees, health care and clean air and water.”

Putting the legislative thumb on his appointments for the Revenue and Commerce departments would encourages more corporate tax cuts and loopholes, he said. Likewise, renewable energy efforts and rules for clean air and water would be hurt by requiring Senate approval of the environmental secretary, he said.

“We don’t look great to the people of North Carolina or to the rest of the country when laws are passed hastily with little discussion in the middle of the night,” he said.

He cited House Bill 2, the law limiting LGBT rights that lawmakers passed in a one-day emergency session in March, as an example of the damage created by last-minute legislating. Business expansions, concerts, athletic events and conventions have been moved out of North Carolina as a result of the law.

“I will use all of our tools … to lead this state in the right direction,” Cooper said, including possible litigation to overturn legislation.

“If I believe that laws passed by the legislature hurt working families and are unconstitutional, they will see me in court – and they don’t have a very good track record there,” he said.

This last-minute legislation is a Republican tactic, one of many seen around the country, where the GOP tries to gain political control through means other than popular vote (gerrymandering being another).  Forget about winning over people by the strength of your ideas with these guys.

Why McCrory Lost

Public Policy Polling looks at why Governor McCrory lost here in North Carolina in what was obviously a banner year for Republicans:

What happened in the summer of 2013 to make McCrory so permanently unpopular? He allowed himself to be associated with a bunch of unpopular legislation, and progressives hit back HARD, in a way that really caught voters’ attention and resonated with them.

Medicaid Expansion? 56% of voters wanted it to move forward, only 26% wanted it blocked.

Sneaking in abortion legislation by putting it in a bill about motorcycle safety? 8% of voters supported that, 80% opposed it.

Guns in bars? 17% in support, 73% opposed. Guns in parks? 29% in support, 65% opposed. Guns on college campuses? 25% in support, 69% opposed.

Eliminate the Earned Income Tax Credit?  Only 30% of voters wanted to do that, 42% thought it should be kept.

Cut unemployment benefits? Only 29% of voters agreed with changes in the law, 55% were opposed.

Reduce the early voting period in North Carolina by a week? Just 33% of voters wanted to do that, 59% were against it.

Straight party ticket voting? 68% of voters wanted it continued, only 21% wanted it eliminated.

McCrory spearheaded or went along with all of this. And he might have gotten away with it without much impact on his image. Most voters don’t pay close attention to state government.

But the Moral Monday movement pushed back hard. Its constant visibility forced all of these issues to stay in the headlines. Its efforts ensured that voters in the state were educated about what was going on in Raleigh, and as voters became aware of what was going on, they got mad. All those people who had seen McCrory as a moderate, as a different kind of Republican, had those views quickly changed. By July McCrory had a negative approval rating- 40% of voters approving of him to 49% who disapproved. By September it was all the way down to 35/53, and he never did fully recover from the damage the rest of his term.

Moral Mondays became a very rare thing- a popular protest movement. In August 2013 we found 49% of voters had a favorable opinion of the protesters to only 35% with an unfavorable opinion of them. And their message was resonating- 50% of voters in the state felt state government was causing North Carolina national embarrassment to only 34% who disagreed with that notion.

Pushing back hard on McCrory worked. The seeds of his final defeat today were very much planted in the summer of 2013. And it’s a lesson for progressives in dealing with Trump. Push back hard from day one. Be visible. Capture the public’s attention, no matter what you have to do to do it. Don’t count on the media to do it itself because the media will let you down. The protesters in North Carolina, by making news in their own right week after week after week, forced sustained coverage of what was going on in Raleigh. And even though it was certainly a long game, with plenty more frustration in between, those efforts led to change at the polls 42 months after they really started.

Keep Pounding.

While I agree with the “keep pounding” advice, and the positive impact of progressive movements like Moral Mondays, the analysis overlooks one HUGE aspect of McCrory’s loss: HB1, the so-called bathroom bill.  It became a national issue, and put North Carolina on the map as Bigotry Central.  Even if you didn’t care about whether or not transgenders could use this or that bathroom (and I think “not caring” probably describes the majority of NC voters), you did care when sports teams and leagues like the NCAA started boycotting your city.  I think most North Carolinians didn’t like McCrory for that.

North Carolina May Finally Have An Election Result

Sitting governor Pat McCrory (R-NC) refused to concede the election for NC governor, which ended three weeks ago.  By the end of election day, current NC attorney general and Democratic challenger Roy Cooper was ahead by a little over 6,000.  But the results still had to be counted and certified, down to the last one.

If Cooper’s margin remained below 10,000 votes, McCrory could have called for a statewide recount, and with the possibility of other legal challenges and conceivably even legislative intervention to decide a contested result.

But today, as I am writing this, Roy Cooper’s margin of victory has now grown to over 10,000 reaching 10,329 in the latest count.

Governor McCrory’s election protests and allegations of voter fraud have been rejected by Republican-controlled board of elections, and Roy Cooper’s lead is now over 10,000 votes.

Will McCrory concede?

He may not have a choice anymore.

McCrory v. Cooper

While the nation mourns the win of Donald Trump, here in North Carolina, we have our own little Bush v. Gore drama going on.  Except…. not really, because it isn’t as close as Bush v. Gore was.  We actually have a governor who is willing to cheat the results in order to win.  On election day, the results has Cooper ahead by 5,000.  McCrory has refused to concede, even as absentee and provisional vote tallies show the margin against him widening.

Civitas, the Art Pope-funded think tank, as filed suit in federal court to delay final certification of results while the state verifies the addresses of over 90,000 same-day registrants.

McCrory’s team, meanwhile, is alleging widespread voting irregularities:

Rather than throwing in the towel, McCrory is instead throwing around wild and unsubstantiated allegations of widespread voter fraud across the state. The governor is claiming that results in half of North Carolina’s 100 counties were tainted by irregularities, but some of those claims have already been dismissed by county election boards. The result is close enough to trigger a recount, which McCrory officially requested today, but past recounts in close North Carolina elections have not produced any significant changes in vote tallies.

Nonetheless, McCrory’s team is accusing Cooper of winning by illicit means and trying to cover up evidence of a supposedly fraudulent victory. “Why is Roy Cooper so insistent on circumventing the electoral process and counting the votes of dead people and felons?” one McCrory flack said in a statement. “It may be because he needs those fraudulent votes to count in order to win.”

Salon’s Simon Malloy notes that in the same election, Donald Trump won North Carolina by 4 points and Republican Sen. Richard Burr won reelection by 6 points. Being “champion of the country’s most notorious anti-LGBTQ law” had nothing to do with McCrory’s loss, of course. But if Roy Cooper’s team somehow managed to manipulate results to take out McCrory alone, now that’s some targeting. I’d want to hire them.

McCroy’s end game, rumor has it, may be to sow enough doubt long enough to create a legitimacy crisis that would trigger the involvement of the GOP-controlled legislature in settling the election. The News and Observer says it’s not that simple:

Yes, N.C. lawmakers can declare a winner, a power given to them both by the N.C. Constitution, which says the General Assembly can settle “contested” state races, but also a 2005 law cited by the New York Times and Slate that says losers in Council of State races can appeal the results to the legislature.

[…]

As for whether such a decision now could be reviewed by courts, here’s what that 2005 N.C. statute actually says: “The decision of the General Assembly in determining the contest of the election pursuant to this section may not be reviewed by the General Court of Justice.” According to the state’s Administrative Office of the Courts, the “General Court of Justice” is the entire N.C. court system, which includes Appellate, Superior and District courts.

That wouldn’t stop the federal courts from jumping in, says Rick Hasen (Election Law Blog):

If there is clear evidence both that Roy Cooper got more votes in North Carolina, with no plausible basis to claim that fraud infected the result (and by all indications so far, both of these facts are true), it could well be both a Due Process and Equal Protection Clause violation for the North Carolina legislature on a partisan basis to consider a “contest” and overturn the results and hand them to Pat McCrory. There are cases where federal courts have gotten involved in these kinds of ugly election disputes (think Roe v. Alabama, Bush v. Gore). But a brazen power grab without a plausible basis for overturning the results of a democratically conducted election? I expect the federal courts would take a very close look at such a thing.

This looks like it might take a while.

Matthew Update

As of this writing (10/7/2016) at 11:45 a.m., Hurricane Matthew, now a Category 3, has shown a little mercy by veering slightly northernly and westernly than expected.  Right now, the western eyewall is brushing the Florida coast — the hurricane is located 75 miles southeast of Jacksonville.currentsat

The winds along the Florida coast are rough, but it doesn’t seem to be getting the high forces that normally come at the backend of the hurricane wall.

currentwinds

It apparently is not going to hit land in Florida.  It may just lightly touch land near Hilton Head, South Carolina or even Cape Hatteras further north.

currentlandfall

And then what?  It is thought it will loop around.

track

And hopefully die.  Others have speculated it could revive as it gets back into warmer waters, but the projection now is “not so”.

Nobody is kidding themselves.  Even if hurricane force winds stay offshore FL, tropical storm conditions can be impactful and dangerous.  By this morning, it had knocked out electric power to more than 590,000 customers across Florida.  Even a Category 2 with 120 mph gusts in Charleston could be devestating.

What Happened In Charlotte Last Night

The Guardian’s Ijeoma Oluo wrote about the events of the night (you need to click through to see the photo described below):

A line of police officers stand in the dark on a Charlotte, North Carolina, highway. They look like an occupying force with their helmets and face shields and various weaponry strapped all over their armored clothing. A large bus illuminates them with its headlights. The front of the bus declares in bright lights: “NOT IN SERVICE”.

It’s as if these police responding to protests of Tuesday’s shooting death of Keith Scott are carrying with them a lighted banner that declares what black Americans already know: they are not in service. Not for us.

It’s the message that police have always been sending black Americans. Blacks make up about 13% of the US population, and yet accounted for 27% of the approximately 1,146 people killed by police in 2015. “Not in service” is the message we got when Tamir Rice was killed, when Freddie Gray was killed, when Eric Garner was killed. This was the message we got when Terence Crutcher was killed this week while asking for service. We understand that if our police force really does exist to protect and serve, it does not exist to protect and serve us.

From what I saw (on national TV) last night, and from reports of friends who were there, the Charlotte police got rambo’ed up too quickly last evening, getting in riot gear long before there were signs of violence and destruction.  While this had the effect of dispersing the more gentle elements of the remaining protesters, it predictably agitated others, turning them into… well… agitators.

I don’t condone or excuse those who destroyed property or threw tear gas back at police.  I am also sympathetic to those police injured last night.  But the key word in the previous paragraph is “predictably”.  The police knew, or should have known, that their show of force and resoluteness would bring about what eventually happened.

The job of police, both as an individual and as a force, is to DE-escalate dangerous or potentially dangerous situations.  Something about their training (at least for some of them) has failed to stress that, and instead, it is about escalation.  With predictable results.

I think they are continuing this mistake with the curfew and declaration of a state emergency (bringing in the National Guard).  A return to normalcy is what is needed.  The mayor and the police are not signaling a return to normalcy with these actions.  I don’t know what will happen tonight, but I don’t expect it to have calmed down in the face of this overdone “response”.

Trump and Clinton Neck and Neck in NC

Yeah, it is exciting to be in a semi-big swing state.  The candidates keep coming through.  It’s like the New Hampshire primaries in the old days.

A new PPP poll on North Carolina came out this morning.

Bottom line: Donald Trump 45, Hillary Clinton 43, Gary Johnson 6.

Clinton/Trump head to head is tied at 47:

That’s okay news since Trump had pulled ahead in some NC polls these past few weeks.

The PPP poll took some deep dives and discovered a few things:

(1)  Undecideds.   Among undecideds for President in NC, 62% would take 4 more years of Obama to only 5% who prefer Trump. If undecideds in NC voted Clinton/Trump the same as their Obama/Trump preference, Clinton would lead state 50/48.  The problem for Clinton with undecideds in NC, even though they like current direction of country, is her favoritism rating is 10/75.  Trump’s favorability among undecideds in North Carolina is literally 0, with 79% seeing him unfavorably.

(2) More Obama Please.  The key to the race in NC is voters who want to continue Barack Obama’s direction, but dislike Hillary Clinton. Overall in NC 51% of voters would prefer continuing Obama’s leadership to 46% who prefer Trump’s direction.

(3) Equally (dis)lilked.  Clinton and Trump have identical favorability numbers in NC: 40/55.

(4) Bigots Be Here.   30% of Trump supporters have a higher opinion of David Duke than Hillary Clinton. 47% of Trump voters were “not sure” who they prefer.  Meanwhile, 44% of Trump supporters are “not sure” about their opinion on LGBT people. 29% unfavorable. Only 27% favorable.

(5) Idiots Be Here Too. 71% of Trump voters in NC think if Clinton wins it will only be because the election was rigged, 17% say it will be because she got more votes

(6) Release The Tax Returns. 63% of voters in North Carolina think Trump needs to release his tax returns, only 24% don’t think he needs to.

(7) Governor’s Race Is Solid Democrat.  For first time ever, there is a clear leader for Governor- Roy Cooper 46, Pat McCrory 41, Lon Cecil 2. Independents are the story here: McCrory won them 2:1 in 2012. This time Cooper leads 44-33 with them.  11%

(8) HB2 Wildly Unpopular.  52% of voters in North Carolina want HB2 repealed, only 32% support keeping it on the books.  This has less to do with the economic harm than with acceptance of th4e LGBT community. Only 19% of NC voters view LGBT people negatively. 47% positive, 34% don’t care.

(9)  Senate Race Has Gotten Tight.  The NC Senate race tied – Richard Burr and Deborah Ross both at 41%, Libertarian Sean Haugh at 4%:

(10) In fact, everything tight.
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(11)  This.

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Winston-Salem Clown Mystery Solved

Hoaxer:

Claims of “Killer Clown” sightings in Winston-Salem have made national headlines and made Winston-Salem one of the locations for a rash of recent claims from Greenville, South Carolina to one outrageous claim of a man who claims to have pursued one of the these clowns with a machete. These sightings are similar to other incidents that seem to run in streaks resembling the “Killer Clown” sightings in Boston in 1981. Those sightings were never verified and, at least in Winston-Salem, the current sightings appear to be fabrications.

Since the two incidents that were reported on September 4th and September 5th the WSPD has continued to work diligently to locate the alleged suspect(s) in these cases or to even find proof that they existed in the first place. These investigative steps included intensive neighborhood canvasses as well as high visibility patrols in the areas where the sightings were reported as well as nearby areas where children are likely to be present. All of which cost tax-payer money and divert resources from real crimes. In addition, an emphasis was placed on conducting in-depth interviews with all witnesses and attempting to develop any other potential witnesses and/or leads to follow.

In the course of this investigation, WSPD investigators obtained video surveillance footage of the specific area of the September 4th sighting. Officers reviewed the portion of the footage covering the time frame of the reported sighting and also a period of time immediately before and after. The video surveillance did not reveal any individual dressed as a clown or anyone trying to lure children into the woods at this location.
To date, each report of the clown sightings provided to the Winston-Salem Police Department has been thoroughly investigated and according to the WSPD they have not been able to substantiate any sightings.

On Friday at 2:48am the WSPD received another call related to suspicious activity by an individual dressed in a clown costume in the area of the 1800 block of Salem Crest Lane. The caller, 24 year-old David Armstrong, reported that an individual dressed as a clown knocked on his window. Armstrong told police that he chased the clown until the subject ran into some nearby woods.

Officers conducted a thorough investigation into this incident. At the conclusion of this investigation, Armstrong admitted to fabricating the story. Armstrong was arrested and charged with Filing a False Police Report. Armstrong was placed into the Forsyth County Detention Center under $500.00 secured bond. His court date is set for September 12th. He is the first person arrested for filing a false report in any of the current “Killer Clown” sightings- none of which have produced even the most basic photo evidence that any of the events ever occurred. In an environment where almost everyone, including many children, have cell phones capable of shooting video and stills the lack of evidence thus far is damning.

I suppose I should have foreseen this outcome.  Still, the notion of clowns in the woods was too cool/scary to think otherwise.

North Carolina On Center Stage Of Voter Suppression Issues

BACKSTORY:  About a month ago, on July 29, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down North Carolina’s anti-voter law.  The appeals court noted that the 2013 law suppressed African-American voter turnout “with almost surgical precision” and invalidated most of it.  The court’s scathing opinion said that “because of race, the legislature enacted one of the largest restrictions of the franchise in modern North Carolina history.” The law, passed by a Republican-dominated legislature, imposed strict voter-ID requirements, cut back early-voting hours and eliminated same-day registration, out-of-precinct voting and preregistration for those under 18.

The court restored the week of early voting that the law had slashed, but it left it to local election boards to set the number of polling places and voting hours.

WHAT HAS HAPPENED SINCE: Those local election boards, all of which are led by Republicans, have tried to cut voting hours below what they were for the 2012 election.  In fact, Dallas Woodhouse, the head of the North Carolina’s Republican Party, saw an opportunity and ran with it, writing in an August email to election officials that “Republicans can and should make party line changes to early voting.”

The New York TImes opinion page fills in more:

Election boards in 23 of the state’s 100 counties have now reduced early voting hours, in some cases to a small fraction of what they were in the 2012 presidential election, according to an analysis by The Raleigh News & Observer. Boards in nine counties voted to eliminate Sunday voting. Both early voting and Sunday voting are used disproportionately by black voters.

While boards in 70 counties voted to expand the number of early-voting hours, the counties that moved to cut hours back account for half of the state’s registered voters. In heavily Democratic Mecklenburg County — the state’s largest, with about one million residents — Republicanboard members voted to eliminate 238 early-voting hours despite near-unanimous appeals from the public to add more. In 2012, African-Americans in Mecklenburg used early voting at a far higher rate than whites.

The board’s chairwoman, Mary Potter Summa, said she was “not a fan of early voting,” which she claimed presented more opportunities for “violations,” even though there is no evidence that early voting, which is used by more than half of all North Carolinians, carries an increased risk of fraud.

The specter of fraud has been used to justify voter-suppression efforts across the country, even though there is virtually no evidence of fraud. In its ruling, the Fourth Circuit said that lawmakers “failed to identify even a single individual who has ever been charged with committing in-person voter fraud in North Carolina.”

What is far more dangerous to the integrity of American elections is the persistent efforts of lawmakers to disenfranchise large numbers of minority voters, rather than to work to win their votes with a party platform that treats them with respect.

WHAT IS HAPPENING TODAY: The North Carolina State Board of Elections is working through conflicts among local election officials unable to agree on early voting schedules.  There are contested plans covering 33 of the state’s 100 counties.  They are debating these issues before standing-room only crowd.

The NS State Board of Elections is comprised of three Republicans and two Democrats.

Whether to allow Sunday voting has been a contentious question, which the court left to the state’s discretion. African-American churches have traditionally driven members to vote in “souls to the polls” efforts on Sundays, benefiting Democratic candidates more than Republicans.

In two key counties — Rockingham, north of Greensboro; and Gaston, west of Charlotte — the GOP-led board approved Republican plans that keep early-voting sites closed on Sundays.

In Craven County, near the coast, however, the board’s three Republicans made a concession, agreeing to open a single early voting site for four hours on a Sunday. Democrats had wanted two Sundays of voting before Election Day.

Civil rights activists have accused some Republicans of seeking to undermine the appellate court ruling by proposing still more barriers to ballot access.

In apparent ignorance of the court ruling, GOP leaders have countered that it’s fair for Republicans to use rules to their advantage, and that Democrats need to stop whining and play the game.

News is slow to come out, but it appears that the GOP is willing to allow for more early voting hours, but no Sundays (they really hate the “souls to the polls” thing).

UPDATE:  There is a live blog of the proceedings here.  A televised livestream is here.

Creepy Clowns Come To Winston-Salem

Last week, there were reports in South Carolina of clowns — yes, clowns — trying to lure children into the woods:

This tale sounds like a mishmash of newspaper clippings and pages ripped from Stephen King novels, but these are actually details taken from a report filed by the sheriff’s office in Greenville County, S.C., last week, after several residents at an apartment complex there said that people in clown makeup had been terrorizing both children and adults.

Several children said that clowns were offering them money to follow them into the woods, close to the house by the pond. (The police say they have found no evidence of clown paraphernalia at the house.)

A woman walking home late one night said she had seen a “large-figured” clown waving at her from under a streetlight, the police said. (She waved back.) And another woman said her son had heard clanging chains and a banging noise at his front door. In these cases, people who reported clown sightings refused to give their names to the police.

The police don’t know whether the stories are coming from the imaginations of children or something sinister is afoot, but panicked residents seemed to be taking the law into their own hands: The Greenville sheriff’s office investigated reports that residents of the apartment complex may have fired shots in the direction of the wooded area.

Well, they hit closer to home.  Yes, here in Winston-Salem:

Winston-Salem police received a second report of a someone dressed as a clown in the 1600 block of Hope Lane early Monday.

The caller, who refused to give his or her identity, made the call at 12:20 a.m. — about four hours after a previous reporting that a man dressed as a clown was trying to lure children into the woods in the 1200 block of East 29th Street.

In the first call, two children told police that a man dressed as a clown tried to lure them into the woods by offering them treats, according to police.

The man fled the area upon officers’ arrival shortly before 8:30 p.m., and the officers learned that the suspect was seen by two children and heard, but not seen, by an an adult, police said.

In the second report, a caller told police that someone in a clown costume was spotted in the 1600 Block of Hope Lane about 12:20 a.m. Officers could not find the person.

The children were not injured.

The clown costume was described as white overalls, white gloves and red shoes. The suspect had red bushy hair, a white face and a red nose.

The investigation remains active and the department said it is taking the matter seriously.

Halloween is coming, as are some scary movies (one of which features a clown), but this seems like an odd place for a movie promotion.  The W-S clown could be a copycat though.

All the same, very creepy.

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UPDATE:  News now of a THIRD clown in the area:

Greensboro Police on Tuesday morning received a call about another clown sighting in the Piedmont Triad.

The sighting occurred at The Park at Oakridge apartments off Old Oak Ridge Road not far from Interstate 73. A man said he saw a clown near the wooded area behind the complex at about 10 a.m.

Chris Bass told FOX8 he lives at the complex with his wife and two children. He said he was on his balcony when he spotted a man in a white mask, red curly hair and blue pants in the wooded area. Bass tried to chase the clown but could not catch him. He called his actions his “fatherly instinct.”

North Carolina GOP Hoping To Set Voting Rules To Favor Republicans

On the heels of appeals court ruling that restored a week’s worth of early voting in North Carolina, the executive director of the state’s Republican Party emailed a memo to members of local elections boards urging them to push for “party line changes” that cut back on early voting hours, The News and Observer reported.

The memo, sent by NCGOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse on Sunday, said that Republican board members “should fight with all they have to promote safe and secure voting and for rules that are fair to our side.”

“Our Republican Board members should feel empowered to make legal changes to early voting plans, that are supported by Republicans,” Woodhouse wrote. “Republicans can and should make party line changes to early voting.”

Last month, a panel of judges on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a2013 law passed by the state‘s Republican legislature that cut back early voting in the state from 17 days to 10 days, ruling that it intended to discriminate against African Americans. Other voting restrictions in the law were struck down as well. The state hasasked the Supreme Court to halt parts of the ruling and allow North Carolina to keep its cutbacks to early voting, among other provisions.

The memo came as local election boards are working on schedules for early voting that take into account the appeals court decision. Per the News and Observer:

County elections boards are developing new early voting schedules in response to a federal court ruling that threw out the state’s voter ID law. In addition to revoking North Carolina’s photo ID requirement, the ruling requires counties to offer 17 days of early voting.

The voter ID law limited early voting to a 10-day period, but counties were required to offer at least the same number of voting hours as they did during the 2012 election. The court ruling eliminates that floor on hours – meaning that counties can legally provide fewer hours and fewer early voting sites than they did in the last presidential election.

Woodhouse’s memo warmed that “Democrats are mobilizing for a fight over early voting locations and times.”

“They are filling up election board meetings and demanding changes that are friendly to democrats and possibly voter fraud,” he wrote.

Among the recipients of his memo were Republican officials who sit on the three-member county boards that approve election schedules in each county. In North Carolina, the governor appoints members to the State Board of Elections which in turn appoints members to the county boards, where two members are allowed to be members of the same party and are typically recommended by the state party chair. Because North Carolina has a Republican governor, two out of the three on each board are currently Republican, according the News and Observer.

Woodhouse went on to write in the memo that cutbacks to early voting hours were necessary because the extra week allowed for same-day registration, which the appeals court decision also brought back after it was eliminated by the 2013 law.

“We believe same-day registration is ripe with voter fraud, or the opportunity to commit it,” he said. “Same-day registration is only available during early voting. We are under no obligation to offer more opportunities for voter fraud.”

UC-Irvine Law Professor Rick Hasen pointed out on his Election Law Blog that early voting is not known to increase the chances of voter fraud. Same-day registration is, however, used disproportionately by black voters.

Woodhouse railed against early voting hours on Sundays, a day that is also popular for voting among African-Americans due to the tradition of black churches’ “souls to the polls” drives.

“Many of our folks are angry and are opposed to Sunday voting for a host of reasons including respect for voter’s religious preferences, protection of our families and allowing the fine election staff a day off, rather than forcing them to work days on end without time off,” Woodhouse wrote. “Six days of voting in one week is enough. Period.”

Woodhouse also pushed elections board officials away from putting early voting sites on college campuses.

“No group of people are entitled to their own early voting site, including college students, who already have more voting options than most other citizens,” Woodhouse wrote.

Since the appeals court decision, there already has been some debate at the local level over early voting in North Carolina. Woodhouse’s own cousin, Eddie Woodhouse, the newest member of the Wake County elections board, tried unsuccessfully last week to push the board to eliminate early voting on Sunday and to remove an early voting site from North Carolina State University.

Dallas Woodhouse, the GOP executive director, defended his memo in an interview with the News and Observer.

“I’m an unabashed partisan, and we have dozens and dozens of Democracy N.C. and NAACP and other people flooding these meetings asking for partisan considerations,” he said. “Our members have a duty, I believe, to act within the law to at least consider the Republican point of view. That’s all we ask them to do.”

PPP Puts Clinton Up In NC…. Barely

While Hillary Clinton is enjoying a 8-10 lead in Georgia, her lead locally has always been in question.  A new PPP poll just released shows it still very close in North Carolina:

PPP’s newest North Carolina poll finds Hillary Clinton leading in the state, albeit by a narrow margin, for the first time since March. She’s at 43% to 41% for Donald Trump, 7% for Gary Johnson, and 2% for Jill Stein. In a head to head contest just between Clinton and Trump, she leads 47/46.

Voters haven’t changed their feelings much about Clinton since our June poll in the state- her favorability rating was 39/55 then and it’s 40/55 now. But Trump- already unpopular- has become even more so. He’s seen a 7 point decline in his net popularity from -14 at 38/52 down to -21 at 37/58. His missteps from the last few weeks may be further damaging his reputation.

One finding from the poll that bodes particularly well for Clinton is that voters would prefer a continuation of the Obama administration to Trump’s vision for the country, 50/45. When you look at who the undecideds are in the Clinton/Trump head to head it fits what we’ve found in our other recent polls. By a 33 point margin they prefer Obama over Trump and they have a positive view of Bernie Sanders, giving him a 45/28 favorability. They hate Trump- giving him a 1/94 favorability- but they’re not much more favorable toward Clinton who comes in at 2/75. Because of the direction these folks prefer for the country it seems much more likely that they’ll end up voting Clinton than Trump- or perhaps more likely than anything else staying home. At any rate it’s more likely that they’ll build Clinton’s lead than eat into it when they come off the fence, and that’s good news for Clinton given the advantage she already has.

Donald Trump said a lot of different things last week so we polled to what share of his supporters bought into each of them:

-69% of Trump voters think that if Hillary Clinton wins the election it will be because it was rigged, to only 16% who think it would be because she got more vote than Trump. More specifically 40% of Trump voters think that ACORN (which hasn’t existed in years) will steal the election for Clinton. That shows the long staying power of GOP conspiracy theories.

-48% of Trump voters think that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton deserve the blame for Humayun Khan’s death to 16% who absolve them and 36% who aren’t sure one way or the other (Obama was in the Illinois Legislature when it happened.) Showing the extent to which Trump supporters buy into everything he says, 40% say his comments about the Khans last week were appropriate to only 22% who will grant that they were inappropriate. And 39% of Trump voters say they view the Khan family negatively, to just 11% who have a positive opinion of them.

-Even though Trump ended up admitting it didn’t exist 47% of his voters say they saw the video of Iran collecting 400 million dollars from the United States to only 46% who say they didn’t see the video. Showing the extent to which the ideas Trump floats and the coverage they get can overshadow the facts, even 25% of Clinton voters claim to have seen the nonexistent video.

-Trump said last week that Hillary Clinton is the devil, and 41% of Trump voters say they think she is indeed the devil to 42% who disagree with that sentiment and 17% who aren’t sure one way or the other.

We’ve been writing for almost a year that there’s a cult like aspect to Trump’s supporters, where they’ll go along with anything he says. Trump made some of his most outlandish claims and statements yet last week, but we continue to find that few in his support base disavow them.

The public as a whole is a different story though. A number of the things Trump has been in the news for lately have the potential to be very damaging to his campaign overall:

-Vladimir Putin has a 9/63 favorability rating with North Carolinians, and Russia as a whole comes in at 14/51. By a 49 point margin they’re less likely to vote for a candidate Russia is perceived to prefer for President, and by a 33 point margin they’re less likely to vote for a candidate seen as friendly toward Russia. This issue is not doing Trump any favors.

-58% of voters think Trump needs to release his tax returns, compared to only 31% who don’t think it’s necessary for him to. In every state we’ve polled recently we’ve found an overwhelming sentiment that he needs to release them- independents say he needs to 54/33.

-Even though Trump’s own voters might support the approach he took to the Khan family, only 19% overall think it was appropriate to 54% who think it was inappropriate.

-And after his reported comments last week only 38% of voters think Trump can be trusted with nuclear weapons, to 54% who think he can’t be trusted.

Trump is already in a hole – and none of those issues are doing him any favors in trying to get out of it.

Full results here

Let’s reflect on how stupid this state is by focusing on one paragraph above:

69% of Trump voters think that if Hillary Clinton wins the election it will be because it was rigged, to only 16% who think it would be because she got more vote than Trump. More specifically 40% of Trump voters think that ACORN (which hasn’t existed in years) will steal the election for Clinton. That shows the long staying power of GOP conspiracy theories.

Breaking: 4th Circuit Overturns Lower Court; Finds That GOP “Intentionally” Passed “Discriminatory” Voting Rights Law

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit invalidated North Carolina’s stringent new voting restrictions, holding that the law violates both the United States Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. The North Carolina measure, the Fourth Circuit held, has a discriminatory impact on black voters, impermissibly burdening their voting rights under the VRA. More boldly, the court also held that the law was enacted with discriminatory intent, designed by the Republican legislature to curb black voting rights in violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. This dual finding of discriminatory impact and intent makes the Fourth Circuit’s decision the boldest judicial rejection of voting restrictions in years.

As the court explains, North Carolina passed its omnibus voting bill, SL 2013-381, almost immediately after the Supreme Court freed the state’s voting laws from federal “preclearance”—meaning that after nearly 50 years under supervision, the state was finally free to change voting laws without federal oversight. The legislature promptly “requested data on the use, by race, of a number of voting practices.” And “upon receipt of the race data, the General Assembly enacted legislation that restricted voting and registration in five different ways, all of which disproportionately affected black voters.” The new law created draconian requirements for valid voter ID, eliminating those IDs most commonly used by black voters; cut back early voting and killed same-day registration; eliminated preregistration for teenagers; and eliminated out-of-precinct voting for voters who accidentally showed up at the wrong precinct in the correct county.

Every single one of these restrictions disproportionately burdened black voters; indeed, as the Fourth Circuit writes, SL 2013-381 seemed to “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.” (Meanwhile, there is essentially no evidence that voter fraud ever occurs in North Carolina.) The evidence that the legislature enacted SL 2013-381 for precisely this purpose—to hamper black voting rights—is almost overwhelming. Indeed, the state even acknowledged that it had eliminated one early voting day, a Sunday, because it was a traditional “souls to the polls” day, when black voters were provided transportation from church to the polls. “Counties with Sunday voting in 2014 were disproportionately black” and “disproportionately Democratic,” the legislature said—so, in response, it did away with one of two days of Sunday voting. This, the Fourth Circuit writes, is “as close to a smoking gun as we are likely to see in modern times”:

The State’s very justification for a challenged statute hinges explicitly on race—specifically its concern that African Americans, who had overwhelmingly voted for Democrats, had too much access to the franchise.

But really, the North Carolina legislature littered its voting law with almost comically obvious smoking guns. Black voters, the court explains, are also more likely to utilize same-day registration, preregistration, and out-of-precinct voting. The legislature knew this when it enacted SL 2013-381; it had “requested a racial breakdown” of different voting methods, and, as the Fourth Circuit notes, discovered:

The legislature’s racial data demonstrated that, as the district court found, “it is indisputable that African American voters disproportionately used [same-day registration] when it was available.” … [I]n-person assistance likely would disproportionately benefit African Americans. SL 2013-381 eliminated same-day registration.

And on and on it goes—each restriction, the court persuasively explains, was crafted to crack down on voting methods favored by black voters. These “seemingly irrational restrictions unrelated to the goal of combating fraud,” the Fourth Circuit writes, can only be explained by discriminatory intent. And the legislature’s highly suspect behavior in enacting SL 2013-381—rushing it through, on party lines, as soon as it was freed of federal oversight—raises serious constitutional red flags. “Indeed,” the court writes, “neither this legislature—nor, as far as we can tell, any other legislature in the Country—has ever done so much, so fast, to restrict access to the franchise.”

As a result of the law’s discriminatory intent and impact, the Fourth Circuit concludes, each of its central provisions must be invalidated under the Equal Protection Clause and the VRA.

It is a very hard rebuke to the lower court.  Now, I know Judge Schroeder, the lower court judge who found that there was no discrimination intended when North Carolina passed its new voter laws.  He is a thorough and competent judge, and certainly no racist.  But not being a Southerner, he just doesn’t see certain things which the older Southern gentlemen of the Fourth Circuit did see.  As the Fourth Circuit wrote, “the [lower] court seems to have missed the forest in carefully surveying the many trees.  This failure of perspective lef the court to ignore critical facts bearing on legislative intent, including the inextricable link between race and politics in North Carolina.”

This is a HUGE win for North Carolina (the people, not the current government) with national repercussions.

It will no doubt go to the U.S. Supreme Court, where, with a 4-4 split, it will probably be upheld.

The 83 page opinion is below:

A Bunch Of Funny Side Stories From This Week

(1)  NC GOP CAN’T DO ANYTHING RIGHT, INCLUDING MOCKING DEMS

When Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine addressed the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia Wednesday night, the North Carolina GOP thought it quickly spotted something wrong.

When Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine addressed the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia Wednesday night, the North Carolina GOP thought it quickly spotted something wrong.

“[Tim Kaine] wears a Honduras flag pin on his jacket but no American flag,” the state party tweeted as he was speaking. “Shameful.”

There was one problem: Kaine’s pin, which had a single blue star on a white background bordered with red, wasn’t the flag of Honduras, where he spent a year as a missionary decades ago. It was the symbol for Blue Star Families, or those with members serving in the military.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article92303587.html#storylink=cpy
“[Tim Kaine] wears a Honduras flag pin on his jacket but no American flag,” the state party tweeted as he was speaking. “Shameful.”

ncgoptweet

There was one problem: Kaine’s pin, which had a single blue star on a white background bordered with red, wasn’t the flag of Honduras, where he spent a year as a missionary decades ago. It was the symbol for Blue Star Families, or those with members serving in the military.

The tweet was deleted with an apology.

(2) FROM HER GRAVE, ABIGAIL ADAMS PWNS BILL O’REILLY

Michelle Obama delivered a powerful speech during the Democratic National Convention on Monday, as the first lady shed light on the historical significance of her family’s eight years at the White House as its first African-American family.

“I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves,” Mrs. Obama said in her keynote address. “I watch my daughters — two beautiful, intelligent, black young women — playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.”

As it turned out, one person was not entirely amused and went so far as to “fact check” the first lady’s comments.

FOX News personality and political lightning rod Bill O’Reilly defended the working conditions slaves faced while building the White House by offering the following explanation during The O’Reilly Factor on Tuesday:

“Slaves that worked there were well-fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government, which stopped hiring slave labor in 1802. However, the feds did not forbid subcontractors from using slave labor. So, Michelle Obama is essentially correct in citing slaves as builders of the White House, but there were others working as well. Got it all? There will be a quiz.”

If there was a quiz, Bill failed.

The notion of the “happy slave” is old racist trope, and it is despicable that O’Reilly peddles this shit on television. But let’s get to the facts….

As O’Reilly noted, Michelle Obama’s predecessor as first lady, Abigail Adams was living in the White House at the time when slaves were building it, and she recorded her observations of those working on landscaping the grounds.

“The effects of Slavery are visible every where; and I have amused myself from day to day in looking at the labour of 12 negroes from my window, who are employd with four small Horse Carts to remove some dirt in front of the house,”she wrote. Moreover, Mrs. Adams took note of their condition—and her observation stands at odds with O’Reilly’s:

Two of our hardy N England men would do as much work in a day as the whole 12, but it is true Republicanism that drive the Slaves half fed, and destitute of cloathing, … to labour, whilst the owner waches about Idle, tho his one Slave is all the property he can boast.

“Half-fed”.

Adams’s rebuke to O’Reilly is not the first time that a benign recollection of slavery has broken apart on the shoals of reality.

(3)  SPEAKING OF FOX, THE TENSION THERE IS CRAAAAZY

The New York Times reports on hard times at Fox News:

Megyn Kelly and her co-hosts [at the Democratic convention], including Bret Baier and Brit Hume, have not been speaking during commercial breaks, according to two people with direct knowledge of the anchors’ interactions, who described the on-set atmosphere at Fox News as icy. During ads, the hosts are often absorbed with their smartphones.

….Employees say there is a continuing split inside the network, with one camp of old-guard Fox News loyalists — some of whom owe their careers to Mr. Ailes — upset at his ouster. Some are resentful toward Ms. Kelly for cooperating with lawyers brought in by the network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, to investigate Mr. Ailes’s behavior. (About a dozen women have reported improper behavior by Mr. Ailes to investigators.)

Another contingent inside Fox News is equally dismayed by the responses of stars like Kimberly Guilfoyle, Greta Van Susteren and Jeanine Pirro, who were quick to publicly defend Mr. Ailes after he was accused of harassment in a suit filed by the former anchor Gretchen Carlson.

And the pressure really seems to have gotten to Bill O’Reilly:

“I think the time has come now, where this whole network is going to have to band together, all of us, and we’re going to have to call out the people who are actively trying to destroy this network, by using lies and deception and propaganda. We’re going to have to start to call them out by name, because that’s how bad it’s become,” he said.

….”Jesse Watters goes on the floor of the Democratic convention, and some photographer comes up and starts swearing at him and cursing at him right in his face? This is provocation,” he continued. “These people are doing this. They want me dead, Bolling, literally dead.”

Bolling responded to O’Reilly, “I’m not sure they want you dead.”

“Oh they do, believe me,” O’Reilly said.

Poor Bill. I think he revels in the notion that we all want him dead. It would be a shock to his ego to find out that most of us just want him to go away.

(4)  CONSERVATIVES AREN’T AWARE THAT BRADLEY COOPER ISN’T ACTUALLY A SNIPER

Bradley Cooper’s appearance at the Democratic National Convention has irked some conservative fans of the actor’s portrayal of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle in 2014’s “American Sniper.”

Cooper was spotted by TV cameras Wednesday night seated at the meeting in Philadelphia alongside his Russian model girlfriend, Irina Shayk.

Some Twitter users say they plan to boycott Cooper’s future films over his presence at the convention. Another commented that they thought his experience playing Kyle would have rubbed off on him.

The complaints have been mocked by others who say Cooper was simply acting a role when playing Kyle and conservatives shouldn’t be surprised.

Cooper earned an Oscar nomination for “American Sniper,” which became a blockbuster thanks in part to an enthusiastic reception among conservative moviegoers.

(5)  LIKE AN IDIOT, DONALD TRUMP JR KEEPS PLAGIARISM IN THE HEADLINES WITH A REALLY BAD COUNTER-EXAMPLE

The plagiarism in question? It was an entire paragraph.  No three sentences.  One sentence?

Nope. Both men used the line “This is not the America I know” in their respective convention speeches.

The problem?  As NBC News pointed out, Obama has used versions of this line in several past speeches. In a 2010 speech, he used the line, “That is not the America we believe in.” And in addresses delivered in 2012 and 2016, he used the line, “That’s the America I know.”

Former President George W. Bush also once used the line, “That’s not the America I know,” as NBC News noted.

See, Don Jr., five or six common words can’t be plagiarism, whereas 70 or so?  Yeah.

(6)  THIS SHOULD BE AN ANTHEM

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?

Winston-Salem Journal:

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump will be campaigning in Winston-Salem on Monday, the Winston-Salem Police Department confirmed to WGHP/FOX8’s Michael Hennessey on Wednesday afternoon.

The Trump campaign contacted the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds on Wednesday about a potential event on Monday, City Manager Lee Garrity said on Wednesday evening.

Staff at the fairgrounds sent the Trump campaign a proposal, but nothing has been confirmed, Garrity said.

According to the station, Winston-Salem police have a meeting tentatively scheduled with the Secret Service for today.

The Trump campaign has not released details on the location or time of the event.

Former Forsyth County GOP chairman Scott Cumbie said he has also heard rumors of the Republican presidential nominee coming to Winston-Salem but does not know any of the details.

Oh God.

NC State Senate Moves $500K From Disaster Relief Fund To Defend Anti-LGBT Hate Bill

The Associated Press reports:

North Carolina lawmakers took steps Thursday to set aside a half-million dollars for the legal defense of a law limiting protections for LGBT people as a judge sought to streamline a cluster of lawsuits it has inspired.

Republican lawmakers were mapping out the end of the session, including possible changes to the law known as House Bill 2, which has attracted high-profile critics including the NBA. The session could end this weekend.

But there was no appetite to change the provision requiring transgender people to use restrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate in schools, universities and many other public buildings. The law also excludes sexual orientation and gender identity from statewide anti-discrimination protections.

Legislative leaders were weighing possible adjustments, while trying to determine whether there’s enough support to get the legislation to Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk. McCrory has urged lawmakers to repeal a provision preventing workers from using state law to sue over workplace discrimination.

That half-million dollars comes from a disaster relief fund and its transfer must also be approved by the state House.

By the way, the NC legislature has been drafting legislation to “refine” the HB2 bill — basically, it will issue an official document that would recognize a person’s gender reassignment. The new document, which is treated as the equivalent as a birth certificate in the draft legislation, is referred to as a certificate of sex reassignment.  But it only applies where the person’s birth state does not do amend birth certificates — i.e., only for transgender people born in Tennessee and Idaho.

In other words, it does nothing.

LGBT activists denounced the attempt by North Carolina Republicans to “refine” the anti-transgender section of HB2. Yesterday the NBA and the Charlotte Hornets joined in. Their message:

“We have been engaged in dialogue with numerous groups at the city and state levels, but we do not endorse the version of the bill that we understand is currently before the legislature. We remain committed to our guiding principles of inclusion, mutual respect and equal protections for all. We continue to believe that constructive engagement with all sides is the right path forward. There has been no new decision made regarding the 2017 NBA All-Star Game.”

Cooper Files Response To DOJ Complaint

News-Observer:

Gov. Pat McCrory announced Thursday that his office and four outside attorneys would represent North Carolina in the federal government’s challenge of House Bill 2, hours after making a political issue of a court document filed in the case by his Democratic challenger.

An exchange of political volleys Thursday started when the Republican governor portrayed Attorney General Roy Cooper – who has said he would not defend the law – as reversing himself by responding to the complaint by the Department of Justice.

Cooper’s office had filed the response on Friday, with a deadline to respond looming and no other private attorneys representing North Carolina at the time – raising the possibility that the state could have been left unrepresented or had a judgment entered against it for lack of response. The filing asked for an extension of the deadline.

On Thursday, Cooper’s campaign called McCrory’s criticism misleading, reiterating Cooper’s opposition to the law and that he wouldn’t defend it.

McCrory’s campaign then called on Cooper to resign as attorney general “for gross incompetence.”

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the federal Department of Justice brought the lawsuit last month, naming as defendants the state, McCrory, the state Department of Public Safety and the UNC system and its board of governors.

Put another way, McCrory was going to blow off the deadline in the DOJ lawsuit, so Cooper filed a response to the complaint.  Cooper agrees with the DOJ, so McCrory was not happy with the nature of the response.

Basically, it was a set-up.  McCrory wanted to make Cooper look bad by making Cooper stick to his guns and not defend the case.  When Cooper did file a (conceding) response, McCrory could then claim that Cooper was incompetent.

Except it really doesn’t seem that way.  It seems that Cooper saved McCrory from a default judgment.

Bad News For McCrory And HB2 Lovers

After the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a request Tuesday to reconsider a previous ruling affirming the rights of a Virginia transgender student, Gov. Pat McCrory’s defense of HB2 has a hit a major road block.

The intermingling of the two cases in question—the pivotal Virginia case (G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board) decided in favor of transgender student Gavin Grimm, and McCrory’s HB2 defense, McCrory v. United States—charts a course for the future demise of HB2’s bathroom provision.

Here are the basic facts governing McCrory’s case in defense of HB2:

1) North Carolina falls within the Fourth Circuit’s jurisdiction, which means the Virginia ruling siding with a transgender student’s right to use their bathroom of choice applies to the Tar Heel State.

2) Grimm’s case was decided on the basis of sex discrimination prohibitions included in Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a federal law that McCrory’s lawsuit against the federal government fails to address, writes Ian Millhiser.

The Justice Department’s letter concludes that HB2 violates three separate federal laws, Title VII, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. McCrory’s complaint claims that the state is not violating the first of these two laws, but it is conspicuously silent regarding Title IX. […] McCrory’s silence regarding Title IX may be an acknowledgement that any effort to defend his states actions under Title IX is doomed.

3. Now that the Fourth Circuit has declined to rehear G.G., the only other avenue for reversal of the ruling is the Supreme Court, which seems unlikely to overturn it—if the justices even decide to take up the question.

HB2 Cease And Desist Deadline Is Today

Today is the deadline the U.S. Department of Justice has given the state of North Carolina to cease and desist its enforcement of the HB2 transgender discrimination law.

Gov. Pat McCrory had asked federal officials for an extension of today’s deadline to declare that North Carolina will not comply with its newly enacted law restricting anti-discrimination protections.  McCrory said the U.S. Department of Justice declined his request unless he was willing to admit that House Bill 2 was discriminatory.

Which he wouldn’t do.

State Rep. Paul Stam, one of the bill’s sponsors, told NPR yesterday he hoped that the governor would stand firm against the federal government enforcing an “Obama-type” bathroom policy.

After a Twitter debate with N.C. House Majority Leader Mike Hager about North Carolina’s HB2 transgender discrimination bill and whether the NBA All-Star Game would take place in Charlotte, former TV talk show host Montel Williams last week sent Hager a cake festooned with “#lovewins” and “#repealHB2” written in icing. Williams, a conservative who campaigned for Republican candidate John Kasich, opposes the law.

So….. as I write this, news is breaking that North Carolina has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Justice Department.

UPDATE — Here it is:

Here, to me, is the problem that the state has.

Bodpriv

I’m not sure how one’s “bodily privacy” is affected by the presence of transexuals in the same restroom.  That is, unless you hold the belief that transsexuals are “checking you out”.  Which would be an interesting allegation to prove.

UPDATE #2:  

Here’s what happened at McCrory’s press conference earlier today:

In a press conference, McCrory said he did not seek out the issue but was responding to policies being made at the local level in the city of Charlotte.

Which matters…. how?

The governor also said that after DOJ sent a letter last week informing him the legislation violates civil rights law, the state was given just five days to reply.

So…. five times as longer than it took the NCGS to write, “debate”, vote on, and then have the governor sign the law.

He added that DOJ refused his request for an extension unless he publicly said he agreed with the agency’s interpretation of federal law.

“That is why this morning, I have asked a federal court to clarify what the law actually is,” McCrory said. “I anticipate our own legislature, other private sector entities from throughout the United States and possibly other states to join us in seeking this clarification because this is not just a North Carolina issue, this is a national issue.”

Yeah.  I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for other states to chime in.  Mississippi, maybe.

UPDATE #4 – 4 pm — 

US Atty General Loretta Lynch (from North Carolina, coincidentally) says the DOJ retains the right to withhold federal funds from NC.  The lawsuit is against the state as well as the university system for violations of Titles VII and IX.

Her speech was actually very human and touching.  She reassured transgender people that the federal government has their back.  Nice.

Confrontation Looms

Charlotte Observer:

Republican state leaders were in no hurry Thursday to respond to the Obama administration’s determination that North Carolina is discriminating against transgender people – and didn’t even agree on whether to adhere to a Monday deadline.

House Speaker Tim Moore said Thursday that legislators won’t meet the Department of Justice’s Monday deadline to declare that House Bill 2 will not be enforced.

The department sent state leaders a letter Wednesday saying that the law violates the Civil Rights Act and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 – a finding that could jeopardize billions in federal education funding. Those laws ban employment discrimination and discrimination in education based on sex.

“We will take no action by Monday,” Moore told reporters Thursday. “That deadline will come and go. We don’t ever want to lose any money, but we’re not going to get bullied by the Obama administration to take action prior to Monday’s date. That’s not how this works.”

Actually, it is how it works.

Moore said state leaders are trying to determine their next steps. “Right now we’re talking with our attorneys to see what our options are,” he said. “We’re going to move at the speed that we’re going to move at to look at what our options are.”

Maybe he should consult the NC Attorney General, the highest attorney in the state, who agrees that HB2 violates the Constitution.

Graham Wilson, a spokesman for Gov. Pat McCrory, said via text message that the governor does plan to have a response to the Justice Department order by Monday’s deadline. He did not offer further details.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest distanced President Barack Obama from the order in his news briefing Thursday afternoon. “These kinds of enforcement actions are made independent of any sort of political interference or direction from the White House,” Earnest said. “Those are decisions that are made entirely by attorneys at the Department of Justice.”

Democrats in the legislature said the Department of Justice order gives lawmakers plenty of time and should be addressed now.

“HB2 became law in less than 12 hours,” Rep. Cecil Brockman, a High Point Democrat, said in a tweet. “Five days should be more than enough time to decide how to clean up after it.”

Boom!  Yes!

Senate leader Phil Berger was less clear on what might happen – or won’t happen – before Monday. “Obviously there’ll have to be some response – you’ve got the deadline – but I don’t see the legislature, as the legislature, taking any specific response,” he said Thursday morning.

Maybe a TRO.  Or a request to extend the deadline.

The Department of Justice takes issue with House Bill 2’s provision requiring transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate. The bathroom rule applies to state government facilities, public universities and schools, while private businesses are allowed to set their own policies. A letter to state agencies said that the law represents “a pattern or practice of discrimination against transgender employees.”

An executive order issued by McCrory addressed some of the impacts of the law on state employees. McCrory expanded nondiscrimination protections for all state employees to include sexual orientation and gender identity. And he ordered Cabinet agencies to make “reasonable accommodations” for employees and visitors who request single-occupancy restrooms, locker rooms and showers.

Moore said that despite the deadline, North Carolina won’t risk an immediate loss of federal education funding if it doesn’t comply. During the current school year, state public schools received $861 million. In 2014-2015, the University of North Carolina system got $1.4 billion.

“They can’t just – through an administrative action by the attorney general’s office – issue a decree that has the force and effect of law over this state,” he said. “That’s not how this works. What they would have to do is initiate litigation at that point.”

No.  Wrong.  They can take away the money through administrative action, and the North Carolina has to start the litigation.

Berger also said he doesn’t think the Department of Justice has “the legal right” to stop House Bill 2. He says North Carolina residents should be “frustrated” by the order.

Didn’t we go through this with George Wallace?

“This might be part of what you’re seeing with both the Bernie Sanders and the Trump pushes,” he said, referring to the presidential candidates. “People are angry, and one of the reasons they’re angry is because of the failure – particularly of the federal government – to do the things that the people know need to be done, and yet they go off on a tangent like this and push radical social engineering.”

Bad choice of words.  Bernie Sanders is against HB2.  Even Trump thinks it is bad.  Even TRUMP!

In Washington, though, North Carolina’s Republican lawmakers weren’t eager to join the fray. U.S. Sen. Richard Burr didn’t appear ready Thursday to get personally involved in the HB2 controversy. His spokesman suggested it remained a state and local matter even with the involvement of the Justice Department.

“It sounds like the issue will be revisited at the state and local levels, and Sen. Burr encourages our state and local officials to do so,” said Burr campaign spokesman Alex Johnson. “In the meantime, Sen. Burr will remain focused on his responsibilities of heading up the American intelligence community and keeping North Carolinians safe.”

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis didn’t respond to inquiries about the federal order Thursday.

Also Thursday, one of the primary backers of House Bill 2 – the Christian Action League of North Carolina – called on state leaders to fight the federal action.

“At the hands of his henchmen in the U.S. Department of Justice, King Obama has delivered his message of intimidation to the state of North Carolina,” executive director Mark Creech said on Facebook. “The Great Pontiff of Political Correctness holds the educational futures of our state’s children hostage, while dangling the money bags of federal funds over their heads, demanding in exchange North Carolina bow to the madness of obliterating male and female distinctives.”

Ah.  So it isn’t about privacy after all.  It’s about the “madness of obliterating” the difference between male and female.  You just revealed your hand, you bigot.

Breaking: US Govt to NC — Fix HB 2 Or Else

This may end sooner than even I thought:

U.S. Justice Department officials Wednesday notified Gov. Pat McCrory that House Bill 2 violates the U.S. Civil Rights Act. 

The department gave state officials until Monday to address the situation “by confirming that the State will not comply with or implement HB2.”

The letter says HB2, which pre-empted Charlotte’s anti-discrimination ordinance, violates Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination in education based on sex.

If that determination is upheld, North Carolina could lose millions in federal school funding. During the current school year, state public schools received $861 million in federal funding.

The Science Behind HB2

Well, what do you know.

It turns out that there are people who actually know a thing or two about gender determination from a scientific and factual point of view.  They’re called “scientists”.  And they have to educate the Governor and the North Carolina General Assembly, who don’t bother to educate themselves before passing laws.

Here’s a letter from twenty pediatric endocrinologists explaining that gender is not binary.

April 17, 2016

Dear Governor McCrory:

As North Carolinians and Pediatricians with specialty training in Endocrinology, we respectfully request that you reconsider Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act (HB2).

A law that defines biological sex as “the physical condition of being male or female, which is stated on a person’s birth certificate” is inherently flawed and potentially harmful to a group of children that we care for in our pediatric practices. As professional experts in the field of chromosomes and genital anatomy, we provide professional consultation to our colleagues on babies in whom assigning sex may not be possible at the time of birth. For example, there are babies born in whom chromosomes suggesting one sex do not match the appearance of the genitalia. This can be due to multiple biological causes such as chromosome abnormalities, abnormalities in anatomic development, environmental exposures during pregnancy, genetic mutations in the synthesis and actions of adrenal and gonadal hormones, and tumors that make sex hormones. For these children, gender assignment at birth is challenging and takes substantial time- sometimes requiring re-evaluation over months to years.  Severe hormonal imbalances at birth may also result in gender assignments at the time of the birth that may require reassignment later in life.

Our patients already face major medical and social challenges and HB2 creates unnecessary hardship for these vulnerable youth. We respectfully ask you to repeal this hurtful bill.

Respectfully,

Deanna W.Adkins, MD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics,
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes
Duke University Medical Center
Evelyn Artz, MD
Pediatric Endocrinology
Mission Children’s Specialties
Mission Children’s Hospital
Robert Benjamin, MD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics,
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes
Duke University Medical Center
Ali S. Calikoglu, MD
Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Cathrine Constantacos, MD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Section of Pediatric Endocrinology
Wake Forest Baptist Health
Brenner Children’s Hospital
A. Joseph D’Ercole, MD
Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Elizabeth Estrada, MD
Clinical Professor of Pediatrics
Chief, Division of Pediatric Endocrinology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Michael Freemark, MD
Robert C. and Veronica Atkins Professor of Pediatrics
Chief, Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes
Duke University Medical Center
 Nancy E. Friedman MD
Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes
Duke University Medical Center
Pinar Gumus Balikcioglu, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes
Duke University Medical Center
Nina Jain, MD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology|
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Kateryna Kotlyarevska, MD
Pediatric Endocrinology
New Hanover Regional Medical Center
Jennifer Law, MD, MSCR
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Nancie MacIver, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics,
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes
Duke University Medical Center
Shipra Patel, MD
Adjunct Faculty of Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Elizabeth Sandberg, MD
Incoming Fellow
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Robert Schwartz,MD
Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics
Section of Pediatric Endocrinology
Wake Forest Baptist Health
Brenner Children’s Hospital
Maureen A. Su, MD
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Bradly Thrasher, DO
Fellow
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Lory Wagner, MD
Pediatric Endocrinology
Mission Children’s Specialties
Mission Children’s Hospital

Yup.  Let’s set aside transgender people and consider this, from Slate story from 2004 which highlights another issue — the intersex birth. Step too far outside established lines and you’ve become a “disorder” (emphasis mine):

Approximately 10 times a year in Houston, at the birth of a certain type of baby, a special crisis team at Texas Children’s Hospital springs into action. Assembled in 2001, the unusual team includes a psychologist, urologist, geneticist, endocrinologist, and ethicist. Its mission: to counsel parents of infants sometimes referred to as “intersex” babies—that is, babies of indeterminate physical gender.

That such a team exists—and that it often counsels deferring surgery for infants who are otherwise healthy—reflects a radical new thinking among doctors about gender identity and outside efforts to shape it. Instead of surgically “fixing” such children to make them (visually, at least) either male or female, a handful of U.S. specialists now argue that such infants should be left alone and eventually be allowed to choose their gender identity. The approach challenges decades of conventional wisdom about what to do with infants whose genitalia don’t conform to the “norm.” Until very recently, such children were automatically altered with surgery, often with tragic consequences.

Breaking: Governor McSmarmy Doubles Down But Also Retreats

Feeling the heat:

RALEIGH, N.C. – Governor McCrory signed an executive order Tuesday that clarifies existing state law and provides new protection for North Carolina residents.

According to the Governor’s Office, Executive Order 93 does the following:

  • Maintains the common sense gender-specific restroom and locker room facilities in government buildings and schools.
  • Affirms the private sector’s right to establish its own restroom and locker room policies.
  • Affirms the private sector and local governments’ right to establish its own non-discrimination employment policies for its own employees
  • Expands the state’s employment policy for state employees to cover sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Seeks legislation to reinstate the right to sue in state court for discrimination

According to a statement released by McCrory’s office, North Carolina is now one of 24 states that have protections for sexual orientation and gender identity for its employees.

“After listening to people’s feedback for the past several weeks on this issue, I have come to the conclusion that there is a great deal of misinformation, misinterpretation, confusion, a lot of passion and frankly, selective outrage and hypocrisy, especially against the great state of North Carolina,” said Governor McCrory. “Based upon this feedback, I am taking action to affirm and improve the state’s commitment to privacy and equality.”

Governor McCrory released the following statement in a video with the announcement of the executive order:

North Carolina proudly welcomes all people to live, work and visit our great state.

We didn’t become the ninth most populous state in the nation by accident. We have long held traditions of both ensuring equality for all of our citizens and our visitors, while also respecting the privacy of everyone.

We are also a state that strives to allow our people and businesses to be as independent as possible without overreaching government regulations.

These North Carolina values of privacy and equality came into conflict recently when the Charlotte City Council passed a new mandate that forced on businesses a city-wide ordinance of bathroom and locker room regulations, something frankly we had never seen or had before in that great city or in North Carolina.

Simply put, this government overreach was a solution in search of a problem.

In fact, the Charlotte City Council rejected this proposal less than a year ago.

In a letter prior to the most recent vote, I notified the Charlotte City Council that this unnecessary and intrusive mandate conflicts with basic expectations of privacy in the most private of settings.

Therefore, as I expected, the state took action on what was seen as government overreach.

You know, after listening to people’s feedback for the past several weeks on this issue, I have come to the conclusion that there is a great deal of misinformation, misinterpretation, confusion, a lot of passion and frankly, selective outrage and hypocrisy, especially against the great state of North Carolina.

But based upon this feedback, I am taking action to affirm and improve the state’s commitment to privacy and equality.

To that end, today I have signed an executive order with the goal of achieving that fine balance.

This executive order accomplishes the following:

First, it maintains common sense gender-specific restroom and locker room facilities in government buildings and in our schools, and when possible, encourages reasonable accommodations for families and those who have unique or special circumstances.

Second, the private sector can make its own policy with regard to restrooms, locker rooms and/or shower facilities. This is not a government decision. This is your decision in the private sector.

Third, I have affirmed the private sector and local government’s right to establish its own non-discrimination employment policies.

And fourth, as governor, I have expanded our state equal employment opportunity policy to clarify that sexual orientation and gender identity are included.

And fifth, I will immediately seek legislation in the upcoming short session to reinstate the right to sue for discrimination in North Carolina state courts.

Simply put, I have listened to the people of North Carolina, and the people of North Carolina are entitled to both privacy and equality. We can and we must achieve both of these goals.

Now I know these actions will not totally satisfy everyone, but the vast majority of our citizens want common sense solutions to complex issues.

This is the North Carolina way.

Thank you very much, and may God continue to bless the great state of North Carolina.

The Charlotte Chamber President and CEO, Bob Morgan, released the following statement:

“Today’s action by Governor Pat McCrory sends a positive message to businesses across North Carolina and to our economic development clients throughout the country and world that North Carolina and Charlotte understand the need to attract and retain diverse talent in our workforce.” 

I guess the takeaway from this is that he is feeling the pressure to do something, but he’s not willing to admit he fucked up.

Part of this is the continued bad publicity coming from HB2.  Springsteen, for example, cancelled his concert in Greensboro.  And here’s the latest from the leading convention and visitors bureau in Wake County, the second most populous county in the state:

A report released by Wake County’s leading tourism agency on Mondaysays that the county has lost more than $700,000 in response to the controversial House Bill 2 – and could lose millions more.

The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau reported that four groups have canceled plans to hold events in Wake because of HB2…

 

But based on sourcing from one local Charlotte reporter, the damage appears to go far beyond those four groups, potentially including 29 groups overall. … UPDATE:

UPDATE: Here’s what the loss of just 16 more groups could mean according to the CVB:

The visitors bureau reported that 16 other groups, the names of which it didn’t disclose, also are reconsidering plans to hold events in Wake County. The groups would bring a combined 73,500 people to the area and infuse an estimated $24 million into the local economy, the report says.

Why Keep An Embarrassing Law On The Books If You Can’t Even Enforce It?

So happy Mother Jones did this:

Two days after North Carolina enacted one of the country’s most sweeping anti-LGBT laws, The New Yorker‘s Andy Borowitz imagined the scene at the state capitol in Raleigh: In a “historic ceremony,” he wrote, “North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory swore in a thousand officers charged with enforcing the state’s new public-bathroom regulations.” The new law bars people from using public restrooms that don’t align with the sex on their birth certificates—a measure proponents say protects privacy but critics describe as a thinly veiled attack on transgender people.

Borowitz continued: “Speaking to the newly graduated bathroom-enforcement cadets, McCrory impressed upon them the gravity of their responsibility. ‘You are the thin blue line charged with protecting the gender sanctity of North Carolina’s bathrooms,’ he said. ‘Be careful out there.'”

Of course, North Carolina hasn’t really unleashed an army of “bathroom-enforcement cadets” to guard public restrooms like bouncers at a club. But Borowitz’s satire got me thinking: How will the state try to enforce its new law, which is the first of its kind to be enacted in the United States? So I picked up the phone and started calling some North Carolina police departments to find out.

“That’s a very interesting question. We don’t have police officers sitting at public bathrooms all day long,” a spokesman at the Raleigh Police Department told me with a laugh. Over in Greensboro, the state’s third-most-populous city, I received a similar answer. “We would respond if we received a complaint. It’s not like we would be standing guard at bathrooms,” said Susan Danielsen, a spokeswoman for the local police department, also suppressing a laugh. At the Wilmington Police Department, spokeswoman Linda Rawley said the law struck her as strange. “So that means people have to go to the bathroom with birth certificates? Yeah, that was curious to me.” At the Asheville Police Department, spokeswoman Christina Hallingse noted, “We’re not checking birth certificates. We just don’t have the police power to be able to do that in bathrooms.”

Since the law was enacted March 23, police departments across the state have been working to determine how they will enforce it. In addition to restricting bathroom use, it bans anti-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation. “Our staff, particularly our attorney’s office, is trying to figure out what it all means,” says Damien Graham, another spokesman for the Raleigh Police Department. “We haven’t mobilized our police force in any kind of different way. We’re still digesting.” Public universities like Western Carolina University and the University of North Carolina are also assessing the law to determine how it will affect university policies, spokespeople from both universities said.

Can police patrol public restrooms? Can they demand birth certificates, or some other form of identification, from those accused of violations? In the law, “these are all completely open questions,” says Cathryn Oakley, a senior legislative counsel for the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy group.

And critics of the law say police officers and universities may struggle to find answers within the text of the legislation. “The bill was passed by the state legislature in less than 10 hours and then signed by the governor that very same night with very little debate,” Oakley says. “And so it’s incredibly poorly drafted, leading to all kinds of consequences.” The lack of enforcement guidance in the legislation also suggests “it’s not motivated by solving a real problem,” she says. “If it was, they would have spent more time understanding and actually addressing a problem. Instead they passed a law that is a political statement.”

Some police departments were still checking with their attorneys this week to determine whether they could arrest an individual who used the wrong bathroom. Because it’s a civil law, using the wrong bathroom wouldn’t be considered a criminal violation in itself, Hallingse from the Asheville PD points out. But the law doesn’t lay out civil penalties for the violation, either, says Oakley, so police officers will have to use their best judgment when responding to complaints. Danielsen, the spokeswoman from the Greensboro PD, says officers there will try to respond with the “lowest degree of interaction” possible. “Not every response needs to result in an arrest,” she says.

But even before police officers are called to the scene, there may be room for mishap. Without law enforcement on guard, it will likely be up to bathroom goers to report a problem if they see someone enter the room who doesn’t appear to belong there—and appearances can be deceiving. As the Chapel Hill and Carrboro news site Chapelboro points out, hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery allow many transgender women to look like biological women, even if they don’t have female birth certificates. “There are blurry lines,” writes Chapelboro‘s Aaron Keck.

North Carolina is the first state to pass a law restricting bathroom use by transgender people, but lawmakers are considering similar bills in several other states, including in South Carolina, where a Republican state senator introduced a so-called “bathroom bill” on Wednesday. This week, Mississippi’s governor also enacted a law that allows businesses to deny service to gay customers on religious objections, prompting New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to ban nonessential state travel there. The backlash has been greater in North Carolina, where PayPal announced it was canceling a $3.6 million investment. More than 120 business leaders around the country have signed a letter objecting to the state’s new law.

“It is catastrophic to the business community and public perception of North Carolina,” said state Rep. Rodney Moore, a Democrat who voted against the measure. “There is absolutely no way to enforce this law, as it relates to the enforcement of the bathroom provisions. It is an utterly ridiculous law.”

Republican state Rep. Dan Bishop, a co-sponsor of the legislation, did not respond to requests for comment. But he has said he never intended for the legislation to lead to bathroom policing. “There are no enforcement provisions or penalties in HB2. Its purpose is to restore common sense bathroom and shower management policy in public buildings, not to pick out people to punish,” he wrote in a statement to WBTV.

But that doesn’t mean people won’t be affected. Oakley of Human Rights Campaign says some transgender people in the state have stopped using public restrooms altogether. They’re “terrified,” she says, and that’s enough to keep them away even if it means enduring physical discomfort. The law, she says, “really puts a fine point on this concern that you are not safe in a bathroom.”

This statement by Dan Bishop — “its purpose is to restore common sense bathroom and shower management policy in public buildings” — makes absolutely no sense.  There is no common sense behind a law which forces, for example, manly-looking ex-females into a womens’ restroom.  HE doesn’t want to be there, and I’ll bet the women in the restroom don’t want HIM there.  Not that you can enforce it anyway, obviously.

So it doesn’t protect privacy, it doesn’t make sense, you can’t enforce it.  But the state is being a laughing stock and seriously losing money because of it.  Make sense of that!

For THIS, I Finally Appear In Playbill

Sigh:

In a new statement provided to Playbill.com by Schwartz’s team, the composer-lyricist takes a hard line against North Carolina Governor McCrory and encourages citizens of the stage to turn their anger into activism.

It can be read in full below:

First of all, I think it’s important to remember that this is not just me, this is a collective action by a great many theatre artists, as well as those from other fields. For instance, I saw this morning that 269 authors and illustrators of children’s books are declining to attend conferences and festivals in North Carolina as long as the law is in force.

I have received a great number of responses. Not a single one was in support of the law or attempted to justify it in any way. The majority of them were supportive of the action I and my colleagues have taken, but several from North Carolina, while expressing sympathy with the goal, took exception to the means. Their arguments were twofold: that it unfairly targeted those who were already opposed to the law, that is people involved in the arts, and that it deprived people of the chance to raise the sensibilities of their audiences by exposure to works that promote tolerance. I received one particularly poignant letter from a mother who asked how she would explain it to her son, who was learning so much from his involvement in community theatre and now would be unable to do one of my shows.

While I don’t deny there is merit to these arguments, I continue to feel that the only way to bring about a quick reversal is for people in North Carolina to become angered enough that they put pressure on the governor and legislature. This may be cynical of me, but I believe that the only thing Governor McCrory and his cronies in the legislature understand is the threat they may not be re-elected. As long as they feel that the bigots in their state are going to support them, while the rest don’t consider it an important enough issue to become exercised about, they are not likely to change anything. As I wrote to one of those who responded to me, “In a democracy, I think we all have to take responsibility for the policies of the states we live in. If my home state of Connecticut were to pass such a law, I would absolutely expect consequences that would affect me, even though I would be personally opposed to it. As I have seen demonstrated in the past, the most effective way to fight legal bigotry such as HB-2 is through real consequences that bring about the anger of the electorate and threaten the re-election of the perpetrators.”

In support of this view, yesterday I heard from a local North Carolina attorney, one of those who had argued against my methods, that “the outpouring of disgust from CEOs has, I think, taken the NC General Assembly and Governor by surprise, so much so that many local newspapers are writing that a repeal of the law is no longer a question of ‘if’, but of ‘when’. To that end, I thank you and other artists who have spoken out against HB2.” I hope he’s right, not only because it will mean the end of this reprehensible law, but because it demonstrates that each individual speaking out and acting against bigotry and injustice, in whatever small way he or she can, is able to have a big cumulative effect.

One last thing: I have seen some of the news media report the intent of HB-2 as being about the use of bathrooms by transgender people, as if that were the only content of the bill. This is sloppy reporting, and a parroting of the disingenuous line of Gov. McCrory and those who passed the bill. This bill forbids any municipality in the state from passing any protections whatsoever against discrimination towards LGBT citizens. There are other heinous things in it as well. It is masquerading as only having to do with bathrooms, and the news media should not fall for it.

Thanks for your attention to this, Stephen Schwartz

The North Carolina attorney he was referring to in the highlighted paragraph above?  C’est moi.  We’ve been having a little back-and-forth on this – Stephen and I.

Look, Schwartz is not the enemy.  McCrory and his cronies are.  It’s unfortunate that Schwartz thinks that, by withholding rights from schools and non-profits, this will compel the Republicans to change their mind about HB2 or create a groundswell of outrage that Republicans will have changed forced on them.  Regrettably, neither is true.  But… this is the best weapon that Schwartz has in his Bat-utility belt, so you can’t blame him for using it.  Better than those who are not speaking out at all.

P.S.  Also made the Hollywood Reporter.

Paypal Pulls The Plug

HB2, the very discriminatory “anti-discrimination bill in North Carolina” (Why do Republicans always name laws the opposite of what they actually do — like the Clean Water Act?  Do they think we are idiots?) wasn’t supposed to result in any job loss to North Carolina.  The opposition to the bill was all “political theater” Governor McCrory said.

Nnooope.

The Charlotte Observer broke this story this morning:

In a move that will cost the city hundreds of jobs, PayPal on Tuesday scrapped plans for a new Charlotte operations center in the most dramatic corporate response yet to a new North Carolina law that limits the legal protections of LGBT individuals.

The payment processor’s decision led to renewed calls for Gov. Pat McCrory and the state legislature to overturn a law that has drawn criticism from big companies such as Bank of America and American Airlines as well as sports organizations such as the NBA. The CEO of Red Ventures, a prominent Charlotte-area marketing and technology firm, on Tuesday said he would “seriously reconsider” adding jobs in the state because of the legislation approved last month.

Oh, well.  I guess that lie (and those jobs) are gone.

This has the Republicans opening their Aesop’s Fables to “The Fox and The Grapes”:  North Carolina’s GOP Vice-Chairman Michele Nix questioned whether PayPal was ever even worthy of North Carolina.

So after PayPal was forced to settle after violating economic sanctions on Cuba, Sudan, and Iran, and even processed payments for someone looking to buy nuclear-weapon technology on the black market, the California-based company now has a problem doing business in North Carolina?

Unlike those good corporate citizens like Duke Energy, you mean?

Then the GOP leaders of the state House and Senate, Speaker Tim Moore and Leader Phil Berger, went full-on delusional, blaming the PayPal loss on Charlotte’s mayor for passing the pro-LGBT ordinance state lawmakers overturned with their new statewide law.

“When Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts teamed up with a convicted child sexual predator to pass a radical bathroom policy allowing men to use girls’ locker rooms and bathrooms, the Governor warned her the legislature would take immediate action to protect North Carolina families. If Jennifer Roberts, [Attorney General] Roy Cooper and the far-left Political Correctness Mob she’s unleashed really care about the economic future of her city, they’ll stop the misinformation campaign immediately and start telling the truth about this commonsense bathroom safety law before more damage is done to the city she was elected to lead and the state Cooper was elected to protect.”

That’s a desperately evil spin.  Paypal knows what the law says.  We know this because they’ve THOUGHT IT THROUGH. Here’s PayPal CEO Dan Schulman:

“We have been deliberating this decision for the past week or so,” Dan Schulman told the [CharlotteObserver. “But with the passage of the bill, it really goes against the values of our company and we just couldn’t proceed forward.” […] “We hope that the governor will reconsider and repeal HB2, and if he does so that Charlotte is obviously a community that we were looking forward to becoming an employer in,” he said.

So, in summary, Paypal is being evil or misguided, says the GOP.   Which is odd, since just a couple weeks ago, McCrory was singing PayPal’s praises:

“North Carolina is the ideal destination for innovation-based, worldwide companies like PayPal,” said Governor McCrory. “Today’s announcement means that we can add another prominent name to the state’s growing list of technology businesses with major operations here.”

Governor McCrory Keeps Digging Deeper

The Governor takes to Youtube:

Notes as I watch this:

  • He’s talking out of the corner of his mouth and has that fakey politician smile
  • The lip service offered to “respecting each other’s beliefs and values” is unnerving, given what he is defending here.
  • He responds to politicians who have “demonized” North Carolina.  Yeah, they’re the problem — these outside agitators.
  • McCrory: “Frankly what is embarrassing is politicians not respecting each other’s positions on complex issues”.That’s a breathtakingly bogus statement.  First of all, McCrory and others are feeling the heat because they didn’t respect the position that Charlotte politicians took when it permitted transgender people to use restrooms that match up with their self-identity.  Not only did HB2 disrespect that Charlotte ordinance by killing ir, but it also prevented ALL municipal governments from coming up with the same kind of ordinance, forever.  “Politicians not respecting others’ positions”?  He went there?
  • And when did this become a “complex issue” to McCrory and his cronies?  A few days ago, they claimed to addressing a simple problem with their “common-sensical solution”.   You know, if it was so complex, maybe the General Assembly should have allowed more public debate and discussion on HB2 so that they could be better informed — rather than keep the text of the law a huge secret and then pass and sign it within a 12 hour span.
  • He goes back to the “expectation of privacy” argument.  He still doesn’t explain how anyone’s “expectation of privacy” is threatened when a transgender person uses the restroom with which he/she identifies.
  • He takes a swipe at Attorney General Ray Cooper for not “defending the laws of this land”.  Look, I don’t know the Attorney General’s oath of office is when he gets sworn in, but I do know what all attorneys (including Cooper) must swear to, and that song goes a little like this:oathRoy Cooper’s allegiance — his JOB, if you will — is not to the Governor of North Carolina NOR the North Carolina Assembly, but to the Constitution of North Carolina to the extent that it is “not inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States”.  McCrory may not agree with Cooper’s assessment that HB2 is unconstitutional, but can’t he concede that Cooper at least has an argument?  It is not outside the realm of possibility that Cooper is right on this.  So this isn’t political — it’s legal — which is what Cooper’s JOB is.UPDATE:  Found it.  The NC Attorney General’s oath is actually the same as the governor’s and every elected official.  And it is pretty much what I thought it was.  He cannot act inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States.

    § 11-7. Oath or affirmation to support Constitutions; all officers to take. Every member of the General Assembly and every person elected or appointed to hold any office of trust or profit in the State shall, before taking office or entering upon the execution of the office, take and subscribe to the following oath: “I, ___________, do solemnly and sincerely swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States; that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the State of North Carolina, and to the constitutional powers and authorities which are or may be established for the government thereof; and that I will endeavor to support, maintain and defend the Constitution of said State, not inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States, to the best of my knowledge and ability; so help me God.”

  • Governor McCrory then states, regarding Cooper, “as the state attorney, he cannot select which laws he will defend….”.  Well, he can actually.  Look, every state official involved in law enforcement has a certain degree of discretion.  They just do.  That’s how you get off with a warning rather than getting a speeding ticket (I’m told).  That’s why there are such things as plea deals where state attorneys work outside the letter of the law in order to reach a just conclusion.  You even hear people invoke the term “prosecutorial discretion” surrounding this incident with Trump’s campaign manager, and how he shouldn’t face charges for such a minor crime.  So this discretion things exists and has been around a long time when it come to enforcement of the law (something different than administration of the law).But setting that aside, McCrory ignores the problem.  Even if the state attorney “cannot select which laws he will defend”, there is a problem when one of the laws he is supposed to defend is, in the state attorney’s opinion, in direct conflict with another law (or Constitution) that he is supposed to defend.  He simply cannot defend an unconstitutional law while at the same time defending the Constitution.  So, yes, he has no choice  put to select which law to defend, and if you look at his oath, the U.S. Constitution takes precedence.  McCrory’s argument would be more valid if the issue at hand was settled law — like gay marriage was when the Kansas law clerk Kim Davis tried to buck it.  But transgender bathroom issues have not been definitively settled on a national level.  I guess we’re about to find out.
  • McCrory says that the AG is inventing “a conflict that simply does not exist”. Again, it is one thing to claim that the other side is wrong, but it is laughable to say that there isn’t any “conflict” over this.  Clearly there is a conflict — a difference of legal opinion — over the discriminatory effects of HB2.
  • He keeps going back to this expectations of privacy thing.  But what he won’t do (because he can’t) is draw a direct line from the Charlotte ordinance to HOW that ordinance affects a person’s expectation of privacy in the restroom or locker room. If McCrory thought that the Charlotte law would make it easier for male-looking dudes to go to the women’s locker room, guess what?  There’s no evidence that problem would have happened.  Moreover, HB2 didn’t fix that problem.  In fact, it may have ended up creating that problem.

Governor McCrory Attempts To Clarify HB2 . . . But Obfuscates Even More

Responding to worldwide disgust at the passage and signing of HB2, which discriminates against transgender people (and does lots of bad stuff in general), NC Governor McCrory put some shit on his website, entitled “Myths vs Facts: What New York Times, Huffington Post and other media outlets aren’t saying about common-sense privacy law”

Catchy title.

Can we dispense with the notion that this is a privacy law at all?  It doesn’t make the public bathrooms any more or less private.  It just changes who can go where.

And don’t get me started on “common-sense”.

So let’s look at this McCrory thing.  He starts off with this:

1. Does the new bill limit or prohibit private sector companies from adopting their own nondiscrimination policies or practices?

Answer: No. Businesses are not limited by this bill. Private individuals, companies and universities can adopt new or keep existing nondiscrimination policies.

That’s a nice way of saying that private individuals, companies and universities can still discriminate on the basis of gender identity or orientation.  In other words, the bill didn’t make things worse when it comes to the private sector bathrooms. You can be fired for being gay. You can be demoted for being gay. Employers can refuse to hire you for being gay. They can refuse to promote you for being gay. Businesses can refuse to serve you for being gay.

2. Does this bill take away existing protections for individuals in North Carolina?

Answer: No. In fact, for the first time in state history, this law establishes a statewide anti-discrimination policy in North Carolina which is tougher than the federal government’s. This also means that the law in North Carolina is not different when you go city to city.

This is not true.  At the time the bill was passed, there was a brand new *existing* anti-discrimination policy in Charlotte.  Now there isn’t.

It’s sort of disingenuous to say that nothing has changed when in fact, the NC government convened in a special session specifically to make a change.

The next two questions are basically a re-phrasing of Question Number One

5. Does this law prohibit towns, cities or counties in North Carolina from setting their own nondiscrimination policies in employment that go beyond state law

Answer: No. Town, cities and counties in North Carolina are still allowed to set stricter non-discrimination policies for their own employees if they choose.

Ah, “in employment”.  Subtle little caveat there.  Thanks for addressing something that wasn’t an issue.

6. Does this bill mean transgender people will always have to use the restroom of the sex of their birth, even if they have undergone a sex change? 

Answer: No. This law simply says people must use the bathroom of the sex listed on their birth certificate. Anyone who has undergone a sex change can change their sex on their birth certificate.

But if you can’t afford the sex change OR if you there are medical risks to sex change OR if you can’t afford the legal hurdles to get a birth certificate change OR if you were born in a state that doesn’t permit changes to birth certificates (Kansas, Tennessee, among others), you’re out of luck.

8. Does this bill affect people with disabilities?

Answer: No. Statewide law also bans discrimination based on disability.

What McCrory doesn’t tell you here is — yes, although statewide law bans discrimination based on a disability, you can’t — thanks to the new law — sue in state courts if someone discriminates against you (like, say, your boss).  And it is not just disability.  It is religion, color, national origin, biological sex and sometimes age.

So you have to go to federal court, which sometimes is impossible, or take longer, and is definitely more expensive.  So basically, North Carolina still bans discrimination; it just won’t do anything to protect you from it.

9. Why did North Carolina pass this law in the first place?

Answer: The bill was passed after the Charlotte City Council voted to impose a regulation requiring businesses to allow a man into a women’s restroom, shower, or locker room if they choose. This ordinance would have eliminated the basic expectations of privacy people have when using the rest room by allowing people to use the restroom of their choice. This new local regulation brought up serious privacy concerns by parents, businesses and others across the state, as well as safety concerns that this new local rule could be used by people who would take advantage of this to do harm to others.

Boy, this is insulting.  The Charlotte City Council most certainly did NOT vote to allow a MAN into a women’s restroom, etc.  The ordinance was meant to allow a WOMAN into a women’s restroom.  That’s why this HB2 is so offensive.  It assumes, rather stupidly and contrary to both reality and common sense, that a person’s actual gender is what is on the birth certificate.  And that a trans person will act in accordance with what some doctor said X number of years ago.

And then it assumes, in a nonsensical way, that others in the restroom would have their “expectations of privacy” invaded by the woman in the women’s restroom.  Is there any evidence for this?  Of course not.  In fact, most transgender men use the men’s restroom and nobody is none the wiser.  And same with transgender women.  So whose privacy gets “invaded”?   Name them, Gov. McCrory.  I want to meet them.

11. Will this bill threaten federal funding for public schools under Title IX?

Answer: No, according to a federal court which has looked at a similar issue.

It would be nice if he cited his work.  Because I wonder if the “similar issue” is in fact “similar”  Or how old the case is.  Because on April 29, 2014, the United States Department of Education (DOE) specifically states “Title IX’s sex discrimination prohibition extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity.”

And in fact, when public schools have tried to get away with what NC us tryng to do, THEY LOSE.

13. Will this bill affect North Carolina’s ability to create or recruit jobs?

Answer: This bill does not affect companies in North Carolina. North Carolina was one of the top states to do business in the country before this law was passed, and preventing Charlotte’s bathroom ordinance from going into effect on April 1 won’t change that.

Well, true.  Nothing in the language of the bill specifically hurts jobs.  But given the response from business leaders all over the country, clearly it will have an impact on companies coming here, which effects job creation.

And the rest of it is bullshit.  Kind of like… well, nothing has happened to North Carolina YET as a result of HB2.  Ooookay.

 

 

 

The Lawsuit Begins

Two transgender people and a lesbian law school professor, along with the ACLU of North Carolina and Equality NC, filed a federal lawsuit today to challenge the new North Carolina law that blocks local governments from passing anti-discrimination rules and requiring transgender students to use bathrooms assigned to their biological sex.

While I would have preferred that the lawsuit take on the broader issues of the law besides the bathroom assignments, I can understand that the harm on those other issues is speculative at this point.

So… the bathroom issues it is.

When You Don’t Think

The backlash and fallout against North Carolina’s HB2 law continues, and what is getting a lot of attention are pictures and tweets from transgender people like Michael Hughes, a 45-year-old trans man in Rochester, Minn.

Take a look at this picture:

Hughesx633_0_0

That’s Michael Hughes and two of his female friends in a womens’ bathroom.  Under the new law passed by the GOP-controlled North Carolina legislature and Republican Governor, Michael Hughes — who WANTS to use the male restroom — MUST use the female restroom, because he was born female biologically.

I wonder how that makes the wives and daughters of the North Carolina legislators feel.  But that’s what the new law forces him to do.

Again, the legislature was trying to supposedly protect women from transgender men going into women’s restrooms and sexually assaulting women — a solution to a problem WHICH IS NOT HAPPENING.  Don’t get me wrong — sexual assaults ARE a serious problem, but there is not a problem of men pretending to be women and using public facilities to launch their assault.  As I’ve written before, it hasn’t happened in other states which are accommodating to transgender issues. Not even a little bit.

Let me talk about what else happens when you don’t think things through.  The Mike Smerconish program is killing it this morning; the topic is the North Carolina law which everyone is upset about. Some Chapel Hill attorney called in and pointed out something about the new law which I hadn’t heard before. I checked it out and she’s right. Aside from the awful bathroom access thing, the new law makes it impossible to sue your employer in state court for wrongful discharge based on ANY discrimination.

In other words, prior to the new law, if your employer fired you because you were handicapped, or a certain race, or a certain religion, or a certain gender (and so on), you could sue in state court. Not anymore.

It’s true that you can still bring these wrongful discharge cases in federal court BUT there is a shorter statute of limitations, it takes longer, more hoops to jump through, is more expensive, etc. Sometimes a wrongful discharge case in state court is the only possibility a person has. Uh…. HAD.

The odd thing is this: this aspect of the new law might have been completely unintentional. The NC legislature might not have known they were actually doing this — something that happens when you throw together a new law quickly in the dark of night. Or maybe they really are dicks.

Repercussions

I know the Republican lawmakers don’t give a damn about non-straight people, but they’re supposed to give a damn about business.  Apparently, they didn’t think about the effect on the economy:

American Airlines and other major businesses across the state and nation are taking a stand against a bill signed into law Wednesday by N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory that invalidates Charlotte’s new legal protections for LGBT individuals.

The NCAA, which is scheduled to hold men’s basketball tournament games in North Carolina in 2017 and 2018, said it’s monitoring events in cities where it plans to hold its sporting events.

At a time when North Carolina is trying to recruit companies to expand and grow in the state, some business leaders said the new measure will jeopardize employee recruitment and economic development in the state.

“We believe no individual should be discriminated against because of gender identity or sexual orientation,” American Airlines spokeswoman Katie Cody said in a statement. “Laws that allow such discrimination go against our fundamental belief of equality and are bad for the economies of the states in which they are enacted.”

American Airlines operates its second-biggest hub at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, where it just reached a new 10-year lease agreement.

***

American has previously joined other major U.S. companies, including Wells Fargo, Apple and Microsoft, in signing a statement opposed to “anti-LGBT” legislation.

Read the whole thing.  American Airlines and the NCAA are just the tip of what I hope is a larger iceberg.

There’s Paypal, which announced plans last week to hire 400 in Charlotte for a new operations center,

And Biogen, the biotech company and one of the biggest employers in the Triangle:

Bank of America Stadium, where the Panthers play, has in the past encouraged transgender men and women to use the facilities in which they feel the most comfortable.  Similarly, BB&T Ballpark and Charlotte Motor Speedway allow transgender individuals to use the restroom of their gender identity.

The NCAA has first- and second-round games in the men’s NCAA basketball tournament in Greensboro in 2017 and in Charlotte in 2018.  They put the pressure on Indiana to amend a similar discriminatory law.

UPDATE — More reax:

President and CEO of Red Hat News:

and

and former editor of News & Record

and Activist and Orange Is the new Black actress Laverne Cox voiced her opposition as well

Police-Related Racial Homicide in Winston-Salem?

On December 9th, Winston-Salem resident Travis Page died after being handcuffed by four Winston-Salem police officers.  After being handcuffed.

It’s a story all too familiar — a young black man dies — not in a shootout with police — but while under police custody.

It is irrelevant what Travis Page did or was accused of doing.  Unless he was attacking police with violent force, he shouldn’t have died.  Unless…

Unless it was… suicide?  An accident?  So the burning question becomes… what happened?

Fortunately, three of the four officers had body cams (the fourth was a trainee and was not required to have a body cam).  What will those cameras show?  We won’t know, at least not for a while.  District Attorney Jim O’Neill will not be releasing the videos since they are evidence in the police investigation.

Mayor Joines and the Winston-Salem Journal are among the many who are calling for the video release.

Chad Nance over at Camel City Dispatch has been doing the yeoman’s work on this, and has a nice breakdown of what is known from the public record:

  • At approximately 7:28pm on December 9th the WSPD received a 911 call reporting shots fired at the Family Dollar location on Rural Hall Rd.
  • The person who called in the complaint described a suspect fitting Travis Page’s description.
  • The suspect was described as being six-feet, four-inches tall, heavy set, and wearing a blue shirt and dark shorts.
  • Responding officers were 20 year veteran, Corporal Robert Fenimore, 22 year veteran Officer Christopher Doub, 3 year veteran Officer Austin Conrad and trainee Officer Jacob Tuttle.
  • Officers found Page a short distance from the Family Dollar. According to the WSPD he ran when police approached.
  • According to an officer on the scene recorded in a citizen video (Taken sometime after the confrontation and the arrival of Forsyth County EMS, but before Page had been taken to the hospital) Page was running away from police when he fell.
  • According to police, Page ingested a controlled substance at this time. The particular substance that he allegedly ingested has not been identified at this time.
  • The WSPD’s report indicates that Page resisted arrest and the officers had to use pepper spray on him. The officer who administered they spray has not been identified.
  • Officers have indicated that once Page was handcuffed he became “Unresponsive”.
  • According to the police report, the responding officers and Forsyth County EMS attempted to use life-saving measures to revive Page. They have not been specific about what these measures entailed.
  • Officers claim that they found a gun and controlled substances on Page before he was taken to the hospital.
  • Travis Page was pronounced dead at the hospital.
  • According to public records Travis Page did have a criminal history that included assault on a police officer and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon while on probation.
  • Page’s mother told local media that her son had a variety of medical conditions including bronchitis and gout. Travis Page’s medical records are protected by HIPPA laws and that information must be considered anecdotal at this time.
  • The SBI is now handling the investigation into the death of Travis Page and the officers have been placed on administrative duty as is common procedure in these kinds of cases.
  • WSPD’s Lt. Catrina Thompson has stated publicly that the body cam footage will not “Embarrass Winston-Salem.”

(Read the story — Mr. Nance clearly knows more than he is willing to write about)

It would be inappropriate to pass judgement on the officers at this point.  But this incident is on a lot of peoples’ radar.

Where’s Winter?

It’s beginning to look a lot like…. Arbor Day?  Unseasonably mild temperatures are spreading over the eastern half of the country and about 75% of the U.S. population will see the temperature climb over 60°F by the end of the weekend.  Not exactly Christmas season.

This is true even in the winter-whipped city of Buffalo.  There, the first snow normally occurs by November 8 and well over a foot would have accumulated by now on average. Last year the city had received over 20 inches by December 10, and areas in southern Buffalo had already been buried under 80 inches of snow. But they have been snowless so far, and will be snowless for another week at least.

What’s going on?

El Niño.

El Niño is the primary driver for the warm temperatures this winter.  The warming ocean waters in the tropical Pacific alter weather patterns around the globe and directly affect the weather over the United States, especially during the winter.  Yesterday, NOAA announced that the ocean and atmospheric conditions in the Pacific indicate the current El Niño episode is a strong one that has matured and will likely be among the top three on record.

Is the heavy El Niño effect due to global warming?  Meteorologists are against making that leap.  El Niño is only in one part of the world (although it has wider ramifications).

In fact, remember the “polar vortex”?  Yeah, that’s still around.  In fact, it is a stronger than average polar vortex (which is actually a band of strong winds high in the atmosphere that normally circles the North Pole), and because it is stronger, the cold air gets bottled up in the polar region, allowing most of the United States and Canada to enjoy the unseasonably mild temperatures.

So we can’t blame this warm and delayed winter specifically on global climate change.

It is too early to tell if it will be a White Christmas, but the long term projection is a warm winter (having just come from the hottest autumn nationwide in recorded history).

NC-GOP Poll: Carson Over Trump By Double Digits

GOP Presidential Primary – Respondent’s First Choice

Registered voters who were self-identified Republicans or Independents who lean Republican were asked who they planned to vote for if the presidential primary were held today. Fourteen candidate names were read to respondents, with names randomly rotated to prevent primacy and recency effects. The survey found Carson in the lead with 31 percent. Carson gained 10 percentage points from the prior Elon Poll conducted between September 17th and September 21st. Donald Trump dropped to second place with 19 percent (compared to 21.5% in the last poll). Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are now in third place. Cruz was previously in 6th place with 6.2 percent but currently has 9.7 percent support. Rubio was in 4th place in the previous poll with 7.4 percent, but now has 9.7 percent support as well. Jeb Bush’s support has dropped from 7 percent to 4.6 percent and Carly Fiorina, previously in 3rd place, has dropped to 6th place with only 3.4 percent (a 6.5 point drop in support). Not a single respondent in our sample mentioned Bobby Jindal, George Pataki or Rick Santorum as a candidate for whom they intend to vote for. Twelve percent of Republican voters are still undecided.

ncpoll

GOP Presidential Primary – Respondent’s Second Choice

Republican respondents were also asked a follow-up question: “If [Respondent’s first choice] dropped out of the race for president which Republican candidate would you vote for?” Ben Carson leads the GOP field in this question as the second choice for 15% of Republican voters, which is similar to what we found in the September 2015 poll. Trump was the second choice for 14% of Republican voters (also similar to the prior poll). Nearly 14 percent said they would vote for Marco Rubio if their first choice dropped out (approximately a 3 point gain). Only 4.4 percent said Carly Fiorina was their second choice (compared to 11.4% a month ago).

2016 Democratic Presidential Primary

Registered voters who are self-identified Democrats or Independents who lean Democratic were asked who they would vote for if the presidential primary were held today. Three candidate names were read to respondents with names rotated randomly. Hillary Clinton is still the clear favorite among Democratic voters in North Carolina. Fifty-seven percent said they planned on voting for Clinton, a 33 point lead over Bernie Sanders’ 24 percent. Clinton’s support is up 4 points from the September survey. Martin O’Malley had less than 3 percent support. Nearly 14 percent of Democrats or Democratic leaning Independents are still undecided.

Hypothetical Match-Ups in the 2016 Election

Respondents were given five hypothetical races they might see in the 2016 election. For each they were asked to say which candidate they would support. Matchups were rotated randomly.

Clinton v. Bush

Between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, Clinton has a three and a half point advantage (46.6% to 43.0%). This is a reversal from the September Elon Poll which found Jeb Bush beating Clinton by about 3 points (46% to 42.6%). Bush does better with whites (55% to 33%), but Clinton does much better with African Americans (90% to 4%). Men tend to favor Bush over Clinton (47% to 42%), while women favor Clinton (51%) over Bush (40%).

Clinton v. Carson

When Clinton faces Ben Carson, Clinton loses by over 4 points (48% to 44%). Clinton has gained some ground against Carson since September when Carson was leading Clinton by 11 points. Some of these gains seem to come from women who now support Clinton over Carson, but just barely (46% to 45%). This is a shift from September when Carson did better with women than Clinton (48% to 44%). Independents still favor Carson over Clinton by a noticeable margin (57% compared to 32%). In September Carson had support form 15% of Black respondents, which although low was twice as much as any other Republican. That support has been cut to 7% in this recent poll.

Clinton v. Fiorina

Clinton leads Fiorina by 6 points in a hypothetical matchup. Clinton does better with women (51% to 38%) and African Americans (89% to 3%), but Fiorina does better with Independents (47% to 39%). Men prefer Fiorina over Clinton, but only slightly (46% to 44%). Only 3 percent of African Americans said they would support Fiorina. 5

Clinton v. Trump

In September Clinton led Trump by 7 points (47% to 40%). Clinton has now expanded that lead to nearly a 10 point lead (50% to 40%). Compared to the other 4 hypothetical matchups, Trump seems to get the lowest level of support from women (33%) and the lowest level of support from African Americans (2%). Trump fares worse than all other tested Republicans in matchups against Clinton.

Clinton v. Rubio

Besides Carson, Rubio is the only other Republican candidate in our 5 hypothetical matchups who beats Hillary Clinton. Rubio has a 1 point advantage of Clinton (46% to 45%) and does better among men, whites, and Independents.

Election Day 2015

An off election year, which means that nobody went to the polls, practically.

But there were two local results that caught my eye:

My friend Dawn Morgan was re-elected mayor of Kernersville for the 300th time (it seems) — she won 95.8% of the vote.  It helped, I suppose, that she ran unopposed.

And in Walnut Cove, they passed a referendum which would allow for the service of mixed drinks.  That won 55.6% of the vote.  The measure of the referendum was put on the ballot by the owner of a Mexican restaurant.  I have two things to say about this: (1) 55.6% seems awfully close for such a rather mundane measure.  I mean, if you’re okay with beer and wine and raw liquors, what objection could you have to mixed drinks? and (2) Walnut Cove has a restaurant?

UPDATE:  Actually, I just learned of a third interesting issue, also out of Walnut Cove.  With the Walnut Cove Board of Commissioners, challengers George Mitchell and Danny Hairston have won the two seats that were open in a field of six candidates, pushing out incumbents Elwood Mabe and Kim Lewis.  The reason, it appears, is because Lewis and Mabe voted (along with the rest of the Board) to allow the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (now the Department of Environmental Quality) to probe for shale gas or oil on a sliver of town property in the Walnut Tree neighborhood, which lies in Stokes County.  In other words, Walnut Cove’s governing body said “yes” to fracking, so two of them just got ousted. Full story here.

Hurricane Joaquin Probably Not Going To Be A Big Deal

In spite of some very premature comparisons to Sandy, new projections show Hurricane Joaquin appears to be heading east and may not make landfall in the United States. Different models gaming out the path of the Category-4 storm were initially split on their forecasts, but as the storm has stalled over the Bahamas, the likelihood of it reaching the U.S. is growing more remote.

“If this forecast holds, Hurricane Joaquin will yield one clear winner: the model from the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts — or simply, the European model — which consistently forecast that Joaquin would head off to sea,” writes Nate Cohn at The New York Times. The model successfully predicted Hurricane Sandy’s unusual path three years ago.

Lots of rain for the Mid-Atlantic, including the Ashford Zone home office in North Carolina.  Here’s the latest from NOAA:

145424W5_NL_sm

We are already getting winds and downed trees, and that’ll continue.  But that’s probably all.

RIP Confederate Flag (In South Carolina)

After a contentious and often emotional debate in the SC House, with a lot of political wrangling (and attachments of bill-killing amendments, all of which failed), Governor Nikki Haley signed the bill yesterday, and the flag came down today

Well, that only took 5+ decades.

Here in North Carolina, they took down the Confederate flag from inside the state capitol building after complaints from civil rights leaders…. back in April 2013.  There wasn’t a lot of hullabaloo about it.  A couple of weeks ago, the NC Governor urged the legislature to pass a law to end the official designation of “civic club” for the Sons of Confederate Veterans organization and to stop issuing plates with the C.S. flag emblazoned on them.

But as of now, you can still get a license plate with the confederate flag on it.  Well, not RIGHT now.  There’s been a rush in the past couple weeks and the DMV is sold out (for the moment).

And there are other movements in other Southern states.

Alabama

Gov. Robert Bentley ordered that four Confederate flags be removed from a monument on the state’s capitol grounds last week — a move that came after a Democratic lawmaker filed a bill that would have done just that.

But 1,000 flag supporters rallied at the Statehouse on Saturday, flying hundreds of Confederate flags and claiming its removal is an affront to their southern heritage.

Georgia

Gov. Nathan Deal’s administration late last week halted the use of specialty license plates created by the state for the Sons of Confederate Veterans that featured the Confederate flag.

Mississippi

State House Speaker Philip Gunn said last week that the state’s current flag — which features the Confederate stars and stripes in its upper left corner — should be changed. But Mississippi voted in a 2001 referendum to keep the Confederate flag in place as part of its state flag. Lawmakers are unlikely to change it until a new legislative session begins in January.

Tennessee

Gov. Bill Haslam has said the Confederate flag should be removed from Tennessee’s Sons of Confederate Veterans specialty license plates. But proposals to end the specialty plates, at least, won’t be discussed until the state legislature meets again early next year.

Haslam has also called for the state to remove a bust of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Ku Klux Klan founder and slave trader, from the Capitol.

Virginia

Gov. Terry McAuliffe ordered an end to Sons of Confederate Veterans specialty license plates that, like Georgia’s and Tennessee’s, featured the Confederate emblem.

And Then There Were 8

I’ve got to just put a counter on the right hand column:

SURF CITY, N.C. — A North Carolina hospital confirmed Monday there has been another shark bite along the North Carolina coast — the eighth bite along the coast in less than a month.

A spokesman for the Naval Hospital at Camp Lejeune told WITN News a shark bite victim was brought into the hospital on Saturday.

The official said the bite happened in Surf City and the male victim was treated and released from the hospital. It is not known if the victim is a member of the military.

Down The Street From Me…. Murder Most Foul!

Oh my:

As a result of a joint investigation between the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office and the WSPD, along with the Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office, investigators have charged two Pfafftown residents after finding human remains in their back yard.

During the course of a WSPD Missing Person investigation, information was obtained that led Investigators to a home located at 3555 Brookbank Drive. On June 26 authorities executed a search warrant on the house and investigators discovered human remains. The North Carolina State University Forensic Anthropology Unit and the Medical Examiner’s Office from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center assisted in the examination of remains before they were removed from the scene.

The human remains are currently being evaluated and Investigators are awaiting a positive identification as of this writing. Authorities have indicated that they have an idea of who the remains are, but will not be releasing that information pending a positive identification.

Upon presentation and review of the evidence collected thus far to the Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office issued Warrants for Arrest for felonious Destruction of Body/Remains Concealment of Death, NCGS 14-401.22(E), were issued for 34 year-old Jason Michael Mitchell and 48 year-old Mary Utleye Mitchell.

I actually know a Jason Mitchell (but not a Mary Mitchell), but I don’t think he is 34 and he doesn’t live in Pfafftown.

Oh, yeah.  Not him.  There’s pictures accompanying the article.

North Carolina Is Shark Central

NCShark

Number of shark attacks in NC waters 2004-2014: 25 (average of 2.5 every year)
Number of shark attacks in NC water this year: 4 so far (and it isn’t even July yet)

Why?

“It’s kind of a perfect storm,” says George H. Burgess, the director of the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History. Burgess says across the United States overall, shark attacks are on pace with an average year, and the chance of getting bit is still very low—an estimated one in 11.5 million for an ocean bather. But, he adds, “clearly, something is going on in North Carolina right now.”

In a nutshell, several factors combine to explain what is going on:

1.  The water is warmer this year.  Actually, the water got warmer earlier this year, drawing both sharks and beachgoers to the ocean.  Some of the blame may be attributed to global warming, but not significantly if at all.

2.  The water is saltier.  North Carolina had a drought, meaning less rainwater flowing into the ocean.  That makes the water saltier, which sharks prefer.

3.  More food.  An abundance of menhaden and other bait (including people) make the NC coast a high-target environment.

4.  Fishing near swimmers.  Fish bait is shark bait.  Sharks go where the food is, and if it is near swimmers, sharks think swimmers are food.

I’m going to the Carolina coast end of August.  Hopefully, they will be done with their gorging.

North Carolina GOP-Controlled Legislature Punishes NC Law School For Not Firing Professor

WRAL:

A last-minute amendment by Senate leaders Wednesday docked the University of North Carolina School of Law budget by $3 million. Democrats say it’s political payback for the school’s employment of legislative critic Gene Nichol.

Despite the fact that Republican Senate leaders have been working on the budget behind closed doors for nearly three weeks, Senate Rules Committee Chairmam Tom Apodaca apparently forgot until the end of Wednesday afternoon’s floor debate – after Democrats had loudly criticized the GOP-penned budget for hours – that he wanted to take $3 million from the law school in Chapel Hill and give it to the Mountain Area Health Education Center, or MAHEC, located in Asheville.

***

The UNC School of Law employs Professor Gene Nichol, a frequent and outspoken critic of Republican legislative leaders. Earlier this year, the GOP-appointed UNC Board of Governors ordered the closure of the think tank Nichol used to lead, the privately-funded Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, but Nichol retains his tenure on the school’s faculty.

Sen. Terry Van Duyn, D-Buncombe, chastised Apodaca for the move.

“I have great respect for you, and you know how near and dear MAHEC is to me. But this, quite frankly, breaks my heart because it seems totally undeliberative and quite, in fact, punitive and just not worthy of this body, and it pains me to say that,” Van Duyn said. “This is not the way we should be making laws.”

Sen. Mike Woodard, D-Durham, questioned whether the “capricious” cut would force reductions in financial aid or public service programs at the school.

“This feels like the Gene Nichol transfer amendment,” Woodard added.

NC Shark Attacks

I don’t like writing about shark attacks because I am old enough to remember the summer of 2001, where the BIG neverending news story was the number of shark attacks, or near-shark-attacks that were happening.  On September 4, 2001, for example, a man was killed and his girlfriend critically injured off the NC beaches, by a shark. Those news stories is why Summer 2001 became known as “The Summer of The Shark”, despite the fact that:

Researchers at the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File recorded 76 unprovoked attacks worldwide in 2001, compared to 85 in 2000. The number of people killed in shark attacks also dropped to five from 12 the previous year.

So it was media hype, mostly.  The Summer of The Shark only went away when a big plane hit the North Tower.

So I think shark stories are a sensationalist jinx, which is why I don’t write about them.

That said, yikes:

A 16-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl lost their left arms and suffered other serious injuries in separate shark attacks in Oak Island, North Carolina, authorities said Sunday night.

The kids, who weren’t identified, were upgraded from critical to fair condition after surgery and were stable at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, said Martha Harlan, a spokeswoman for the hospital. The girl’s left arm was amputated below the elbow, and she suffered lower leg tissue damage, Harlan said, while the boy’s left arm was amputated below the shoulder.

This appears to be the work of a single shark.  So, you know, call Quint.

P.S.  The boy who was hurt was not from Winston-Salem.

Same-Sex Marriage Still A Battlefield In North Carolina

This morning, North Carolina legislators in the GOP-controlled state House approved a measure that allows some court officials to refuse to perform same-sex marriage duties because of their religious beliefs.

House lawmakers agreed 69-41 to override Governor Pat McCrory’s veto of the bill, which the Senate had done last week​. The bill, now a law, allows magistrates and register of deeds workers the option to stop fulfilling their duties regarding gay marriages if they have “sincerely held religious” beliefs.

Once they seek an exemption from their duties, workers cannot perform any type of wedding for at least a six-month period. That inaction possibly could cause significant delays for couples wishing to marry.

It’s a dumb law, and I don’t know why it is important for NC to have, since I doubt any magistrate would feel right about causing six-month delays in ALL marriages.  More to the point, it is an unconstitutional law, and everybody knows it, so it just makes North Carolina look like a bunch of religious bigots.

UPDATE:  I did not know this

Several magistrates resigned after being warned that their oath of office stipulated they officiate for any couple with a valid marriage license. Two of these former magistrateshave filed suit against the state, arguing that they resigned under duress. They claim that they should not be forced to choose between their job and their religious beliefs, even if their beliefs prohibit them from performing their job in a way that serves all citizens.

The Crazy North Carolina Legislature

(1)  Jerks:

Lawmakers passed a bill Wednesday that would make North Carolina one of several states with 72-hour waiting periods for abortions. Gov. Pat McCrory said he planned to sign it, despite the urging of opponents who wanted him to stand by his statement during his 2012 campaign that he would not sign any further restrictions on abortion if elected. In announcing his plans to sign the bill, Mr. McCrory, a Republican, argued that it would not restrict access. Supporters have said that increasing the waiting period from the current 24 hours will give pregnant women more time to collect information. The bill’s House sponsors also said they hoped the measure would lead to fewer abortions. Democratic lawmakers and other opponents have said that there is no medical reason for increasing the wait and that Republicans are seeking to add more hurdles to a procedure that courts have ruled to be constitutionally protected.

(2)  Bigots:

The state Senate voted Monday night to cancel Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of a bill that would allow some North Carolina court officials to refuse to perform gay marriage activities because of religious objections.

The 32-16 vote was above the three-fifths threshold necessary to override a veto. The bill still must clear the House again for the veto to be blocked and the law enacted. That vote was scheduled for Wednesday in the House, where the outcome is less certain because 10 lawmakers were absent last week when the bill first passed.

McCrory, a Republican who vetoed the bill within hours of final legislative passage, saying no public official voluntarily taking an oath to support and defend the Constitution should be exempt from upholding duties. The bill followed within a few months of federal judges striking down North Carolina’s 2012 constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage.

UPDATE: (3)  Yes, I left out Ag-Gag, which makes me want to ag-gag:

Both the state House and Senate voted Wednesday to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of House Bill 405, a law that proponents say protects private property rights but opponents say muzzles whistleblowers.

Dubbed an “ag-gag” measure by its critics, the bill gives businesses the right to sue employees who expose trade secrets or take pictures of their workplaces. Animal rights groups say the measure is aimed at curbing the kind of undercover investigations that have exposed abusive practices in factory farms and slaughterhouses.

 

 

 

SCOTUS Sends NC Redistricting Map Back To NC

Yesterday, the Supreme Court rejected a Republican-drawn map of congressional districts in North Carolina.   The justices ordered the NC Supreme Court reconsider whether North Carolina lawmakers inappropriately redrew the electoral map to consign large populations of black voters, a Democratic constituency, to a disproportionately small number of districts, the effect of which gives Republicans a clear electoral advantage.

The Lesson From 2002

We all have felt it from time to time.  The urge to simply go nuclear.

It's understandable.  Some backwoods jihadi moron slices off an American head, or a bunch of them band together and fly hijacked airplanes into sckyscrapers, and our natural reaction is: "Fuck you.  NOW you're going to see the hand of God."

The problem with that is that it doesn't work.  Unless you are prepared to kill every single Muslim whereever they live, and every potential ally of the Muslim, all you are going to do is further enrage the beast.

Bush wanted to invade Iraq.  He didn't have a strategy.  Just a dream.  Number One: we invade and get Saddam… which leads to…  Number Two: Huge power vacuum… which leads to…. uh, peace?

Of course not.  It leads to even scarier fucks occupying the vacuum.  Hello world, meet ISIS.

And once again, we have the right wingers screaming for us to do exactly what was done before — go in and start bombing things without regard to collateral damage (i.e., innocent civilians) and without any idea of the consequences of our actions.

Obama is right in taking it slowly.  He's thinking "Can we figure out a strategy that might actually work, like the air support that helped Iraqi forces break the siege of one town?"

Take a breath. Figure out the complexity of the situation (which involves more than crazed Islamic radicals taking over territory and nearly genociding people). 

A little patience, maybe. How about getting some allies involved, since — you know — this affects them.  And perhaps a whole bunch of American snipers.

That's how we win this.  But to just cowboy up and zoom in guns-ablazin'?  We just did that.  Made it worse.

Fourth Circuit Overturns Virginia Same-Sex Marriage Ban

The religious right continues losing their reactionary culture war, as a federal appeals court strikes down Virginia’s ban on marriage equality.

And this ruling will also affect conservative bans on same-sex marriage in West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, so it’s a significant defeat for the forces of atavism.

“We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable. However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws,” the divided three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit in Richmond concluded.

[…]

The 4th Circuit opinion also will affect marriage laws in other states within its jurisdiction, including West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Only Maryland has legalized same-sex marriage.

Here in North Carolina, there are three cases which challenge the same-sex marriage ban.  In one of them, one of the plainitiffs is medically ill, and the ACLU has asked for expedited relief.  I expect the judge in that case will, in light of the Fourth Circuit decision, strike down NC's ban as well.

That might not mean gay marriage is coming to North Carolina.  More likely, it will be put "n hold" pending an inevitable Supreme Court decision.

How Much Is The NC State Legislature In The Pocket Of Big Business?

This much:

North Carolina GOP Pushes Unprecedented Bill to Jail Anyone Who Discloses Fracking Chemicals

As hydraulic fracturing ramps up around the country, so do concerns about its health impacts. These concerns have led 20 states to require the disclosure of industrial chemicals used in the fracking process.

North Carolina isn’t on that list of states yet — and it may be hurtling in the opposite direction.

On Thursday, three Republican state senators introduced a bill that would slap a felony charge on individuals who disclosed confidential information about fracking chemicals. The bill, whose sponsors include a member of Republican party leadership, establishes procedures for fire chiefs and health care providers to obtain chemical information during emergencies. But as the trade publication Energywire noted Friday, individuals who leak information outside of emergency settings could be penalized with fines and several months in prison.

“The felony provision is far stricter than most states’ provisions in terms of the penalty for violating trade secrets,” says Hannah Wiseman, a Florida State University assistant law professor who studies fracking regulations.

The bill also allows companies that own the chemical information to require emergency responders to sign a confidentiality agreement. And it’s not clear what the penalty would be for a health care worker or fire chief who spoke about their experiences with chemical accidents to colleagues.

“I think the only penalties to fire chiefs and doctors, if they talked about it at their annual conference, would be the penalties contained in the confidentiality agreement,” says Wiseman. “But [the bill] is so poorly worded, I cannot confirm that if an emergency responder or fire chief discloses that confidential information, they too would not be subject to a felony.” In some sections, she says, “That appears to be the case.”

The disclosure of the chemicals used to break up shale formations and release natural gas is one of the most heated issues surrounding fracking. Many energy companies argue that the information should be proprietary, while public health advocates counter that they can’t monitor for environmental and health impacts without it. Under public pressure, a few companies have begun to report chemicals voluntarily.

North Carolina has banned fracking until the state can approve regulations. The bill introduced Thursday, titled the Energy Modernization Act, is meant to complement the rules currently being written by the North Carolina Mining & Energy Commission.

Wiseman adds that, other than the felony provision, the bill proposes disclosure laws similar to those in many other states: “It allows for trade secrets to remain trade secrets, it provides only limited exceptions for reasons of emergency and health problems, and provides penalties for failure to honor the trade secret.”

Draft regulations from the North Carolina commission have been praised as some of the strongest fracking rules in the country. But observers already worry that the final regulations will be significantly weaker. In early May, the commission put off approving a near-final chemical disclosure rule because Haliburton, which has huge stakes in the fracking industry, complained the proposal was too strict, the News & Observer reported.

For portions of the Republican-controlled North Carolina government to kowtow to the energy industry is not surprising. In February, the Associated Press reported that under Republican Governor Pat McCrory, North Carolina’s top environmental regulators previously thwarted three separate Clean Water Act lawsuits aimed at forcing Duke Energy, the largest electricity utility in the country, to clean up its toxic coal ash pits in the state. Had those lawsuits been allowed to progress, they may have prevented the February rupture of a coal ash storage pond, which poured some 80,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River.

“Environmental groups say they favor some of the provisions [in the Energy Modernization Act],” Energywire reported Friday. “It would put the state geologist in charge of maintaining the chemical information and would allow the state’s emergency management office to use it for planning. It also would allow the state to turn over the information immediately to medical providers and fire chiefs.”

However, environmentalists point out that the bill would also prevent local governments from passing any rules on fracking and limit water testing that precedes a new drilling operation.

A Grim Reminder

I didn't know her, but I have friends who did.  She made national news this weekend, because of the irony.  But behind that, there is the obvious lesson about texting and driving:

HIGH POINT, N.C., April 27 (UPI) – A 32-year-old North Carolina woman died in a car accident Thursday just moments after she used her cell phone to post on Facebook.

Police in High Point, N.C., said Courtney Ann Sanford posted a message on Facebook at 8:33 a.m. and one minute later the car accident was reported. She was driving.

“The happy song makes me HAPPY," Sanford wrote of the hit song by Pharrell Williams.

“In a matter of seconds, a life was over just so she could notify some friends that she was happy,” said High Point Police Lt. Chris Weisner.

Sanford drove her vehicle across a grass median and hit a truck. The truck driver was uninjured.

“As sad as it is, it is a grim reminder for everyone … you just have to pay attention while you are in the car,” Weisner said.

 

The final post of 32-year-old Courtney Ann Sanford, who died one minute after sending this because she veered across a grass median and slammed into an oncoming truck. The other driver was not hurt.

Finally, The DOJ Steps In

Justice Department to sue North Carolina over voting law

By , Published: September 29 | Updated: Monday, September 30, 12:01 AM

The Justice Department will sue North Carolina on Monday over the state’s new voting law, according to a person briefed on the department’s plans, the latest move by the Obama administration to counter a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that officials have said threatens the voting rights of minorities.

The suit, to be announced at a Washington news conference, follows the department’sdecision last month to sue Texas over that state’s new voter-identification measure. And it comes after a recent warning from Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. that the administration “will not hesitate to take appropriately aggressive action against any jurisdiction that attempts to hinder access to the franchise.”

Under the new law, North Carolina residents are required to show a photo ID at polling places. The law was signed by the state’s Republican governor last month, andcivil right groups moved quickly to challenge it. They said that the law’s requirements will make it harder to vote and that racial minorities will be disproportionately affected because they are less likely to have the forms of photo ID required by the law. In their suit, the Advancement Project and the North Carolina NAACP also argued that voter fraud is not a significant problem in the state.

Gov. Pat McCrory said the law will protect the integrity of the election process. He noted that voters will not be required to present a photo ID until the 2016 elections and insisted that the law was necessary to ensure that “no one’s vote is disenfranchised by a fraudulent ballot.”

The high court’s June ruling invalidated a key section of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act that had required jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to receive approval from the Justice Department or a federal court before they could make such changes to their voting laws. But the Justice Department is expected to rely on another section of the act to bring its suit against North Carolina, just as it did in the Texas case.

Justice will challenge four provisions of North Carolina’s voting law, according to the person briefed on the plans. They include the strict voter-ID requirements, which critics say do not provide adequate protection for voters who lack the required ID. The suit will also challenge the elimination of the first seven days of early voting, the elimination of same-day voter registration during the early-voting period and the prohibition on counting provisional ballots cast by voters in their home county but outside their home voting precinct.

The department will also ask that North Carolina again be required to get clearance in advance of any changes to its voting laws.

More North Carolina Shennanigans

Well, the conservative legislature and governor here in NC have decided to cut back on early voting, and decided not to let students use their IDs to vote.  And they've even gone one step further: an Elizabeth City State University senior wants to run for city council, but they won't let him run.  The Pasquotank County Board of Elections on Tuesday barred him from running for city council, ruling his on-campus address couldn’t be used to establish local residency.

The student is Montravias King:

Images-mk

Of course.

He is appealing the decision of the Pasquotank County Board of Elections, who have been told not to print ballots until this issue is resolved:

Ms, Kim Strach
Executive Director, State Board of Elections

Mr. Don Wright
Counsel for State Board of Elections

Dear Ms. Strach and Mr. Wright:

Please find enclosed the appeal by Mr. Montravias King from the August 20th order of the Pasquotank County Board of Elections disqualifying Mr. King as a candidate based on residency. From my telephone conversation with Mr. Wright, it is my understanding that the Pasquotank County Board has been directed to not print ballots for the October election until the State Board decides the merits of this appeal. If my understanding is incorrect or the status of Pasquotank’s ballot printing changes, please let me know immediately so I can file a motion to stay the Pasquotank’s Board’s order pending these proceedings.

Excerpt from appeal:

The North Carolina Constitution Article VI § 1 guarantees that “Every person born in the United States and every person who has been naturalized, 18 years of age, and possessing the qualifications set out in this Article, shall be entitled to vote at any election by the people of the State, except as herein otherwise provided.”
Article VI § 2(1) states: Residence period for State elections. Any person who has resided in the State of North Carolina for one year and in the precinct, ward, or other election district for 30 days next preceding an election, and possesses the other qualifications set out in this Article, shall be entitled to vote at any election held in this State.

Equally fundamental is the right of a qualified voter to run for elected office. Under
North Carolina Constitution Article VI § 6, “[e]very qualified voter in North Carolina who is 21 years of age, except as in this Constitution disqualified, shall be eligible for election by the people to office.”

Candidate Montravias King is a rising senior at Elizabeth City State University who has resided on campus since the fall of2009 and who has been an active member of the college community. Ruling on a challenge to Mr. King’s candidacy based on residency, the Board held that a dormitory address could not be considered a permanent address. Combining the Board’s conclusions of law, the Board’s ruling can be summarized as “We do not know where Mr. King resides because he cannot claim to reside here.” The Board’s conclusions oflaw are illogical. Under their conclusions, any student who abandons their former home and goes to a dormitory would be completely barred from establishing domicile anywhere. The Board’s conclusions of law classifying dormitories as insufficient addresses for voting purposes would effectively disenfranchise every student who attempts to register at his or her college dormitory address, in clear violation of United States Supreme Court precedent and holdings of the North Carolina Supreme Court.

Evidence presented at the August 13th hearing showed that Mr. King established 1704 Weeksville Road as his permanent address by:
• Registering to vote at that address in 2009 and voting in subsequent elections
• Attending classes every semester and during summer school at that address
• Using that address for the place where he does his banking
• Using that address for medical records
• Obtaining employment in Elizabeth City and using that address with his employer
• Changing his driver’s license to that address
• Removing treasured possessions such as photos and mementos from his parents’s home and keeping them with him in Elizabeth City
• Actively engaging in community life by serving as President of the ECSU Chapter of the NAACP
• Testifying that he intends to stay in the Fourth Ward after graduation

Good luck to Mr. King.