The Follies

The Follies

- in Fitzsimon File

McCrory’s foolish out of touch statement

Governor Pat McCrory said this week that President Obama’s proposals to reduce gun violence in the wake of the Newtown massacre were “foolish.”

It’s not clear if McCrory actually thinks that the common sense recommendations are foolish or if he was just pandering to the gun groups and far-right tea party base of the Republican Party. Either way he is seriously out of touch with the majority of Americans and North Carolinians.

A CBS/New York Times poll finds that 54 percent of Americans believe gun laws need to be stricter while 34 percent believe they should stay the same.

A majority of Americans favor a ban on semi-automatic weapons while even a majority of gun owners favor a ban on high capacity magazines and 93 percent of gun households believe that background checks should be required for all gun purchases.

It’s true in North Carolina too.  The group North Carolinians Against Gun Violence points out that a survey conducted in North Carolina earlier this year by a well-known Republican pollster found that 81 percent of people in the state believe background checks should be required for all gun purchases, including at gun shows.

These are not foolish proposals at all. McCrory must know that and ought to stop insulting the people he was recently elected to represent. Obama’s recommendations are logical ways to attempt to reduce gun violence that most Americans support to make incidents like the Newtown shooting less likely to happen.

It’s only the radical and paranoid wing of McCrory’s party who think otherwise. McCrory needs to stop pandering to them.

The extremist NC GOP

Speaking of the shrill and radical wing of the Republican Party, it’s worth noting that NC GOP Chair Robin Hayes made a surprise appearance at last week’s tea party rally on the opening day of the legislative session.

The rally was organized by a collection of fringe groups demanding that state lawmakers “honor their oath” to the constitution by “nullifying” the Affordable Care Act in North Carolina because they believe it violates states rights.

Hayes went out his way to praise the organizers for their efforts which raises an interesting question. Does Hayes agree that it’s ok for people to simply disobey federal laws that they don’t agree with?  Is that now the official position of the North Carolina Republican Party, that a law held to be constitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States doesn’t have to be obeyed by people in North Carolina?

It’s a troubling reminder of the state of the current political debate when the folks who run one of the major political parties in the state are not only hanging out with extremists, but endorsing their demands.

The Pope charade continues

The stories about North Carolina Koch brother and new state budget director Art Pope continue, with the latest pieces in Businessweek and the Charlotte Business Journal.

They come in the week where Pope told one reporter that he is not a controversial figure.

Nice of him to clear that up for us.  For a second there, it seemed that one person giving $40 million to influence elections and public policy in the state might deserve a little attention, but I guess not.

It’s still astounding that no North Carolina media outlet has followed up on a story by ProPublica just before Christmas that quoted a Republican redistricting expert saying that Pope, hired a co-counsel to the legislative leadership in 2011, sat beside him and gave direct instructions about how to draw the map.

It’s probably not going out on a limb to say that Pope is probably the first state budget director who drew the maps that elected the legislative majority while at the same funding much of their campaign efforts.

Voter ID nonsense continues

The folks on the Right are up in arms about a report from the State Board of Elections showing that more 600,000 voters do not have a government issued photo ID like the one Republicans want to make a requirement for voting.

They can’t exactly explain why they don’t believe elections officials but they say the number of voter ID is far less than 600,000.

Let’s assume they are right for the sake of the argument and say the number is half of that, 300,000 people. That’s a little more than the population of Greensboro and most of them are seniors or people with a disability. Why would we want to make it more difficult for them to vote when there is no evidence of any widespread voter fraud affecting our elections?

In case you have any doubt that his is about partisan politics, not the integrity of our elections, even most Republicans and right-wing advocates will admit that voter fraud is more likely with absentee ballots than in-person voting. Yet none of the voter ID proposals affect absentee ballots at all, because people who vote absentee are more likely to vote for Republicans than Democrats.

The business boom under allegedly “anti-business” Obama

And finally this week, a fact for all the Obama bashers on the right who claim he is anti-business and ruining the economy. It’s from Bloomberg News and cited by Think Progress.

U.S. corporations’ after-tax profits have grown by 171 percent under Obama, more than under any president since World War II, and are now at their highest level relative to the size of the economy since the government began keeping records in 1947, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Profits are more than twice as high as their peak during President Ronald Reagan’s administration and more than 50 percent greater than during the late-1990s Internet boom, measured by the size of the economy.

Wonder if the NC Chamber executives will now weigh in with more support for Obama’s agenda?

About the author

Chris Fitzsimon, Founder and Executive Director of N.C. Policy Watch, writes the Fitzsimon File, delivers a radio commentary broadcast on WRAL-FM and hosts "News and Views," a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina.