Thursday News: Change is in the air


LGBTQ CANDIDATES WIN SEVEN RACES IN NORTH CAROLINA ELECTIONS: Advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people are celebrating Tuesday’s election as seven openly LGBTQ candidates won races across North Carolina while other candidates made history in elections around the country. Three of those new North Carolina officials come from the Triangle. Altogether, there now will be 20 openly LGBTQ office-holders across the state, according to Equality NC. “It’s huge for LGBTQ North Carolinians,” said Ben Graumann, director of communications for Raleigh-based Equality NC, a statewide advocacy group. Tuesday’s election results, said Vernetta Alston, who was elected to the Durham City Council, “signal a great new progressive force that can kind of lead the way in advancing the rights of LGBTQ folks.”

Hongbin Gu leads pack of newly-elected Council members in Chapel Hill

You can take your anti-immigrant bias and stick it where the sun don't shine:

The victory was “beyond our wildest expectations,” said Gu, a quantitative researcher with UNC’s School of Medicine. She faced a number of challenges to become the council’s first Chinese-American member, including social media criticism of her immigrant background. She also discovered, days before the election, that the U.S. Postal Service had closed her P.O. mailbox for two weeks and returned donations to their senders.

“It says something about about the community that we have,” she said of her victory. “I feel tremendously honored and just so happy.” She has multiple priorities going into her first four-year term, Gu said, like continuing the council’s efforts to bring high-tech and startup companies to the town. Work on the town’s affordable housing and transportation plans also will be important, she said.

Not my back yard, not my lobsters on the cook-out grill, but this should serve as a learning experience to navel-gazing racists and cultural throwbacks: It's entirely possible the reason she won the most votes is because of those hurtful comments on your "community" page, not in spite of them. That dog won't hunt in Chapel Hill.

Wednesday News: Resistance!

NORTHAM LEADS DEMOCRATIC WAVE IN VIRGINIA: In Virginia, like in several contests across America on Tuesday, the Trump resistance won. And it wasn't close. Northam, a pediatric neurologist and Army veteran, led longtime Republican operative Gillespie by several points as the final votes ticked in. Democrats also scored victories in the race for New Jersey governor and in Maine, where voters slapped the state's Republican governor, a Trump ally, by backing a measure to expand Medicaid coverage under former President Barack Obama's health care law. The Democratic mayors of New York and Boston, both vocal Trump critics, also won re-election easily. And Virginia voters elected the state's first openly-transgender state representative, among more than a dozen state legislative pickups for Democrats.

Tuesday News: Rhetorical pistols at dawn

MCFARLANE AND FRANCIS TRADE JABS IN RUNUP TO RUNOFF: Mayor Nancy McFarlane has spent much of her re-election campaign defending the city’s excitement for Dix Park and park spending in general. The city purchased the 308-acre Dix property from the state in 2014 for $52 million and plans to transform the land, home to buildings that used to serve a psychiatric hospital, into a destination park people could walk to from downtown Raleigh. Charles Francis, who’s running against McFarlane in the Nov. 7 runoff, has said the city should focus its energy on meeting the city’s more basic needs by fixing roads and providing more affordable housing. “That’s been the real conflict I’ve had with these pseudo-liberal Democrats,” Francis once told the N&O. “What’s important to them is bike lanes and parks and that kind of thing. What we have in mind is more basic.” In response, McFarlane’s campaign recently circulated a mailer that says Francis “vows to slash funding for parks and open space.”

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Geremy the Germ has an important public service announcement:

To clarify, Geremy wrote that yesterday, meaning the election is today. Tuesday. I'll have a talk with Geremy about the concept of time passing, and how certain terminology might cause your message to become moribund in just a few hours' time. Is that 4th person? Am I speaking in 4th person? I'm easily confused...

Choosing voodoo economics over successful ventures a recipe for failure

The following Op-Ed was apparently not ready for Prime Time viewing:

NC’s motto “Esse Quam Videri,” to be rather than to seem, should be more than just a quaint Latin reference on our State’s Seal. It should be an organic, working principle to guide us, as it was originally intended. Even for those on the right who profess to believe state government should be run like a business, when something you’re doing is working, and working so well it exceeds all expectations you had about its viability, you don’t try to actively undermine that success. Scheme and plot to make it go away. If you did that in a publicly-held corporation, your shareholders would revolt, and sweep that Board of Directors right out the door, and replace them with more responsible leaders.

In the government realm, those shareholders are the voting public, not the shadowy PACs funded by wealthy individuals who would sacrifice overall economic growth for personal profits every day of the week.

Author's note: Sometimes these essays have their origin in a single misleading sentence in the news, generating a desire to set the record straight. In this case, it was actually a symbol that I had seen one too many times, the Georgia Film logo (with a peach, of course) that got my mind churning. Here's the rest:

Monday News: Keep your fingers crossed?


JUDGE OVERRULES BOARD OF ELECTIONS ON QUESTIONABLE VOTING SOFTWARE: Voting software that’s been under a cloud for months can be used in elections next week. The State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement is appealing an administrative law judge’s decision Friday allowing counties to use software from a company called VR Systems that checks voters’ registration information. Durham was using VR software on Election Day last year when a malfunction forced the county to switch to paper poll books. The glitch halted voting in some areas, and eight precincts extended voting hours. The state elections board doesn’t want counties to use the software. The board hasn’t certified it, as required by law. In a court complaint, VR Systems said the elections board improperly revoked its license, and that some counties still want to use its product.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


DON'T LET OTHERS DECIDE FOR YOU, VOTE!: “Americans are sharply divided.” It is the mantra these days from the nation’s political commentators and talking heads. The reality is just the opposite. The vast majority of North Carolinians and Americans are united in apathy. Last month 85 percent of Raleigh’s registered voters were united in avoiding the polls for the primary election for mayor. A month earlier, 92 percent of Charlotte’s voters failed to participate in that city’s mayoral primary. Just 21,850 voters out of 544,908 – 4 percent – decided for all of the city to oust incumbent Mayor Jennifer Roberts. Is it true that 96 percent of Charlotte’s voters had no opinion or didn’t care whether she continued in office; about how she did her job; whether she needed to be replaced? Rest assured, voters WILL determine next week who will lead North Carolina’s local governments. None of us need to, or should, cede that decision to anyone else – especially someone with whom we might disagree.

Trump/GOP tax cut plan biggest swindle in decades

Which of course requires that you lie about it:

Given such overwhelming support for raising, not cutting, taxes on the wealthy, it makes sense that President Donald Trump and his allies in Congress would present their tax plan as benefiting the middle class rather than the rich. It’s about “people who are low- and middle-income,” says House Speaker Paul Ryan, “not about people who are really high-income earners getting a break.” Trump has even claimed “the rich will not be gaining at all with this plan.”

Unfortunately, those are bald-faced lies. The plan includes weakening and then eliminating the federal estate tax, a levy paid only by the wealthiest households in the country—it only kicks in on estates worth over $5.5 million for individuals and $11 million for couples.

The Estate Tax is the Holy Grail for the wealthy, and the GOP's (and especially Trump's) devoted followers have gobbled up the "Death Tax" propaganda for years now, even though 99% of those followers would never be subject to it. In the realm of magic performances, this one makes David Copperfield's vanishing jet airplane seem like an 8 year-old's card trick in comparison. And if you really want to laugh (or cry), check out what GOP policy "wonks" believe is the Middle Class in America:


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