A holiday wish list for the naughty and nice in the North Carolina policy world

A holiday wish list for the naughty and nice in the North Carolina policy world

- in Top Story, Weekly Briefing

Well, another year has almost come and gone and the season of celebration and gift giving is well underway. What better time than this to construct a holiday gift wish list for some of North Carolina’s most prominent and hard-to-please politicos and pontificators?

Here, therefore, is our 2017 list. On the odd chance that some of these are actually fulfilled, it seems at least possible that 2018 will be a better and gentler year for all of us. Here’s to it.

For Governor Roy Cooper: Four new friends in the North Carolina House of Representatives –
In case you’ve lost track, it takes a three-fifths vote in both houses of the North Carolina General Assembly to override a gubernatorial veto. That means it takes 30 votes out of 50 in the Senate (where Republicans hold a 35-15 advantage) and 72 out of 120 in the House (where Republicans outnumber Democrats 75-45). Nothing, of course, would add more oomph to Roy Cooper’s still youthful governorship than the chance to uphold some of his vetoes. Not only would it greatly enhance the Governor’s ability to influence legislation directly, but it would also strengthen his negotiating hand in a raft of other important policy debates.

Most election observers believe that the Democrats’ best chance for breaking the current supermajorities lies in the House where a mere four member swing in their direction would do the trick. Of course, over at the Governor’s mansion, there are no doubt moments in which the Guv fantasizes about wooing a small cadre of semi-moderate Republicans to work with him even prior to the 2018 election. If things keep trending in the direction they’ve been headed of late, such a scenario doesn’t seem utterly beyond the realm of possibility.

For Senator Richard Burr: An easy-to-watch and/or read compilation of Senator Sam Ervin’s greatest hits from the 1973 Senate Watergate hearings –
What will it take for Richard Burr to discover his inner patriot, get off of his duff and get serious about investigating the Trump administration’s nefarious relationships with the monstrous criminal syndicate otherwise known as the Putin government? There’s no need for Burr to transform himself into some kind of fighting liberal or abandon his career-long commitment to serving the 1%; Ervin held on to all sorts of reactionary positions even as he helped  expose Richard Nixon’s criminality. But it will require that Burr actually open his eyes to the threat that Trump poses to our democracy and pump some life into the Senate Intelligence Committee he chairs. Maybe a holiday lookback at some of Ervin’s heroic moments will offer some inspiration.

For Senator Thom Tillis: An online “law for non-lawyers” course and a membership in the American Constitution Society –
Senator Tillis is not a lawyer and throughout his political career, it has often been painfully obvious – especially when he was Speaker of the North Carolina House and helping to enact multiple unconstitutional laws with maddening cocksureness. Now, as a U.S. Senator, however, the stakes are even higher. Tillis actually sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee and has frequently cast the deciding vote in favor of several of the dreadful characters that Donald Trump has put forth for lifetime appointments to the federal judiciary. Please, Mr. Tillis, make a little effort to understand the damage you are inflicting on the nation with these votes.

For state Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger: Paperback copies (or DVD’s) of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” –
If there’s a modern North Carolina politician who has more rapidly and aggressively distanced himself from his roots as a frequently moderate and reasonable small town lawyer in order to embrace the political persona of a Scrooge-like political boss than Phil Berger, it’s hard to think who it would be. Maybe it’s the staff of true believer ideologues with which he surrounds himself or maybe it’s mostly a show for the Trump-loving voters he must rely upon, but whatever it is, Phil Berger’s invariably angry takes on the issues of the day reveal a person who is in desperate need of a dose of Gregory Peck’s Atticus Finch and Alistair Sim’s reformed Ebenezer to remind him of who he used to be.    

For House Speaker Tim Moore: A large inheritance from a rich uncle or cousin –
There’s just something not quite right about a modern-day Speaker of the House of Representatives (i.e. one of the most powerful men in North Carolina government) being forced to moonlight on the public dime as a local county attorney (as Moore has done in his home county of Cleveland) to make ends meet. The people of North Carolina and the cause of open and honest government would be greatly served if Moore stopped needing to worry about such matters and focused exclusively on his job in Raleigh. Such a windfall might also free up Moore to donate some pro bono legal services to the poor in the aftermath of his Grinch-like decision to slash funding for legal aid in 2017.

For Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and former Gov. Pat McCrory: Free mediation services to work out their differences –
It’s still two years until the next GOP gubernatorial primary gets underway in earnest, but at this point, two well-known Republican politicians seem already to be running full-time. Lt. Gov. Dan Forest has actually been running 24/7 since he entered his current office in 2013 – something that’s relatively easy to pull off given the sparse set of duties he’s currently assigned. As for Pat McCrory, it’s clear that a year after his loss to Roy Cooper (his second defeat in three runs), he still hasn’t come close to getting over it and appears bent on a fourth bite at the apple. Democrats, on the other hand, are no doubt relishing the idea of a divisive McCrory-Forest contest and would probably appreciate a gift of popcorn to help them enjoy the show.

Stocking stuffers

For Attorney General Josh Stein:
An infusion of skilled attorneys to replace those offed by state lawmakers in 2017 and some body armor to help him withstand the constant broadsides directed his way by conservative politicians determined to halt his steady political rise. 

For Secretary of State Elaine Marshall:
170 easy-to-read pamphlets suitable for distributing to state lawmakers that explain why having a difference of opinion over the interpretation of a statute is not and has never been an impeachable offense.

For Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson:
A tutorial on the history and basic purpose of public education and a Murphy-to-Manteo road trip in which he is forced to ride in the back seat and listen to an extended conversation between State Board of Education Chairperson Bill Cobey and former Superintendent June Atkinson.           

For Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (and her fellow champions of for-profit colleges that have played a huge role in abetting the nation’s metastasizing student loan debt crisis):
A six-hour DVD featuring nothing but late night, P.T. Barnum-like commercials produced by the industry’s worst scammers.

For NC Values Coalition leader Tami Fitzgerald, Rev. Franklin Graham and Christian Action League chief, Rev. Mark Creech:
A state historical marker that commemorates all of the discriminatory and unconstitutional laws the trio have helped foist upon the state in recent years, along with a framed copy of the first 10 words of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

And for each and every North Carolina elected official who continues to resist basic and reasonable public regulation of 21st Century mass killing machines out of some sense of fealty to an idea that was crafted at a time during which the musket was the planet’s state-of-the-art weapon:
An official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model BB gun so each of them can channel his or her inner John Wayne and let the rest of us get on with the business of catching up to the other nations of the civilized world. Don’t shoot your eye out, guys!

Peace y’all.