Go, Guvnah, Go! North Carolina’s GOP has shown their true colors this year, attacking the poor, LGBTs, students and immigrant communities. Shamelessness at its best. And, in all their time targeting the folks who have the weakest voices in Raleigh, they’ve yet to move the state forward on any job creation. Way to go, guys and gals. You’re proving your worthlessness all by yourself. I’m looking forward to a Republican minority again in 2012.

The deets, from N.C. Policy Watch:

This past week, in an out-of-the-blue announcement, the House Speaker and Senate President Pro Tem decreed that they would only allow passage of a mostly technical legislative change to extend the federally-funded unemployment benefits of around 37,000 jobless workers if Governor Perdue agreed ahead of time to the GOP’s proposed state spending levels for fiscal year 2012.

Got that? In order to short-circuit negotiations and force the Governor to agree now to a FY 2012 budget that slashes state spending by 13%, Republican leaders are willing to hold 37,000 families hostage and deny them their modest insurance benefits (on average, around $300 per week). The leaders combined the two unrelated topics into one bill, passed it in near-record time and now plan to deliver it to the Governor tomorrow – the day the unemployment benefits are scheduled to expire.

Except, Gov. Bev Perdue has announced she’ll be vetoing the bill. That’s prompted outcry from Republicans who say Perdue is “more committed to increased state spending than she is to helping the unemployed.”

Perdue’s spokesperson Chrissy Pearson fires back in an email to press:

Any suggestion that the governor is unwilling to work with General Assembly leaders is absolutely untrue. The ones who should be ashamed are the lawmakers who for weeks have had a clean bill to fix continue unemployment benefits. They did nothing. Thirty seven thousand people will suffer an end to their benefits for one simple reason: Republican leaders are more interested in winning than in doing what’s right.

This is unconscionable.

If the governor signed the bill, the door would open for thousands of teachers to lose their jobs. Children would lose health services. Mentally ill would have even fewer places to go for help. Public safety services would weaken. North Carolina would be set back decades.

This is the time for leadership, not games.

We are so sorry those 37,000 fellow North Carolinians are suffering because Republican leaders are only interested in themselves.

Statesville attorney and Democratic National Committee member David Parker was elected Saturday the new chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party.

Parker takes the helm after abysmal performance by his predecessor David Young, especially on LGBT issues. In contrast, Young’s predecessor, Jerry Meek, often reached out, spoke with and worked together with LGBT constituents.

If Parker’s live-blog with Durham-based blogger Pam Spaulding is any indication, North Carolina Democrats have elected a fine leader who truly values the participation and contributions of LGBT party members:

Pam Spaulding:
Since PHB is a blog focusing on LGBT issues, there are huge ramifications for LGBT North Carolinians because of the outcome of the midterms in our Gen Assembly. A question from reader HunterC:What I’m most interested in is for political operators to recognize that in 2011 in North Carolina, embracing LGBT issues is not toxic. What will you do to get through to candidates and the political machinery that NC in 2011 has moved past LGBT items as wedge issues? Even US Senator Richard Burr — A NORTH CAROLINA REPUBLICAN — acknowledged the “generational change” after he voted to repeal DADT.

David Parker:
We are already seeing LGBT issues being used as a wedge: I got a mailing yesterday addressed to 5 million Senior Christians saying that Obama’s signing the Hate Crimes Bill was tantamount to criminalizing Christianity becuase the Bible speaks against homosexuality and is therefore outlawed.

This approach is just to arouse anti-gay passion and we have got to stand firmly against it and stand firmly for individual dignity also … it is my belief that sexual orientation is a gift from God. I will support the issues of personal dignity and the adoption of the Dallas Principles as well. They make sense across the board. LGBT issues are universal issues and should be treated as such.

Read Pam’s full interview with Parker…


Neal: It’s time to man up, Mr. President

Chapel Hill businessman and one-time U.S. Senate candidate Jim Neal took to The Huffington Post yesterday with a message to President Obama.

“Man up,” he says in the face of Tuesday’s devastating midterm elections, poking and prodding the president to engage in a political fight to show which party really does have the nation’s best interests at heart.

Neal also sees a bright side to this week’s political history:

When the new Congress convenes in January, there will be a new bogeyman in town. The hot potato is in the hands of the Republican Party for the next two years.

And therein lies the silver lining — a Pyrrhic victory — for the president. The heat’s off. It’s now the Republicans’ economy to fix and it’s the Republicans’ responsibility to create jobs and stimulate economic growth.

That’s a tall order for a Party that reminds us “Government doesn’t create jobs.”

In 2012 Americans will do what they always do: vote with their pocketbooks. The Republicans have no rabbits in the hat, no tricks up their sleeve to fatten, much less maintain, those pocketbooks. You can’t pay the mortgage with a tax cut. You can’t stave off a foreclosure with a tax cut. You can’t stimulate short-term economic growth through tax cuts. You can’t create jobs by cutting government spending and shuttering government agencies. You can’t create jobs by bashing gays, illegal immigrants and mosques.

Read Neal’s full column…

Incumbent U.S. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Democratic challenger Elaine Marshall, North Carolina’s current secretary of state, held their last televised debate this week in Chapel Hill.

News coverage of the event centered on what is now being called the “sharpest exchange” between the candidates while they shared the stage for an otherwise boring discussion. Pollsters say the election might already be decided; Burr shows a considerable lead over Marshall. But, as TPM notes, Burr’s and Marshall’s testy exchange over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) exposes stark differences between mainstream Republican and Democratic platforms on issues of LGBT equality.

TPM reports:

The exchange between Sen. Richard Burr (R) and Secretary of State Elaine Marshall (D) isn’t likely to change the election’s outcome — polls show Burr with a big lead, and most observers expect him to cruise to reelection this fall.

But the debate offered one of the clearest views of the differences between Republicans and Democrats over LGBT rights found this year. Marshall called DADT “governmental discrimination,” equal to “judging people by the color of their hair, the color of their eyes, or the color of their skin, or other factors they have no control over.”

Burr said he had no idea whether homosexuality is a choice or biological and bristled at the idea that the battle for racial Civil Rights is equatable to granting LGBT rights.

“This is a very specific group of individuals,” Burr said to Marshall. “Don’t bring race into this.”

TPM goes on to note several polls and other data showing Americans’ general disfavor toward DADT. But, Burr’s and Marshall’s debate and the resulting news coverage didn’t center on the facts. Rather, it focused on whether being gay is a choice, an issue, as TPM also points out, that’s near moot among the majority of Americans.

The debate this week is a perfect example of why our community needs a “seat at the table.” In 2008, openly gay Chapel Hill businessman Jim Neil ran against party favorite Kay Hagan in the U.S. Senate Democratic primary. Then, as now, issues of LGBT equality cropped up during debate. Yet, silly and ridiculous questions like “choice” never rose to the surface (although slight arguments over comparisons of LGBT rights to the Civil Rights Movement did create some stir with one of the lesser known primary candidates).

Perhaps there are several reasons for this, primarily that the debate was between primary candidates not otherwise affected by party affiliation in an election season defined by absolute polarization. But, one could make the argument that questions of “choice” were never asked because of Neal’s mere presence.

The question of whether or not being gay is a choice is pretty insulting to the majority of gay folk. I’d bet many straight people are aware of that. In political discourse, the question serves to take the focus off any particular political or legal issue and places it squarely on a person or group of people. It’s a personal question. A very personal question. A question most civil and courteous folks wouldn’t necessarily ask to someone’s face. Perhaps the question never came up in 2008 because it would have taken the focus off the issues and put it solely on Neal, as a person — as a gay person, and not a contender for public office. Despite all the criticism against Hagan that year, perhaps she already believed being gay wasn’t a choice. Perhaps, she was just kind and polite enough to keep such a personal question off the table.

I don’t really know.

Regardless, I believe LGBT people are best served when we have a physical, personal presence in our communities’ and nation’s political debates. It’s easy to insult people when you aren’t sitting across from a person that insult directly attacks. Even if the question of “choice” comes up between a straight candidate and gay candidate, I have faith any intelligent, gay candidate seriously contending for office will quickly turn the question around, refocusing debate on real facts and real issues — facts that knock down most, if not all, anti-LGBT talking points.

At the end of the day, whether being gay is a choice doesn’t really even matter. What matters more is our nation’s promises and guarantees of equality, liberty and justice, those guiding principles and mores defined in our social contract — you know, that pesky thing we call the Constitution — that have kept this nation forever toiling to become better and brighter, forever wary of allowing our Great Experiment to fail before the ever-watchful eyes of a candid world.

But, for Republicans, I guess it’s easier and more politically expedient to debate moot points that serve only to stoke the fires of bias, prejudice and hatred. After all, if they debate facts we know what happens: We win, they lose.

Four years after Congress last seriously considered a federal constitutional amendment on marriage, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who is running as an independent for U.S. Senate, managed to broach the issue Sunday in an interview on CNN’s State of the Union.

Crist faces a tough, three-way race against Republican Marc Rubio and Democrat Kendrick Meek. As CNN reports, Crist finds himself in the awkward position of attempting to play all of his politics in a middle-of-the-road style – not as conservative as Rubio and not as progressive as Meek. Obviously, it is a strategy meant to appeal to moderates and independents. It’s also strategy that might have zero chance of working, especially if Crist’s confusing and/or unclear statements bring up specters of legislative fights long ago considered dead. That’s exactly what happened yesterday.

Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida wrote at Bilerico.com yesterday: “Crist who is running as an independent for the US Senate has been charting a new political course aimed a pulling moderate Demorcrats, Republicans and Independents. His comments today threatened that delicate coalition.” Continue reading this post…

Blue America and Americans for America have teamed up to present this ad attacking Rep. Virginia Foxx, a Republican representing North Carolina’s 5th Congressional District, on some of her most outlandish and outrageous “accomplishments.”

DownWithTyranny reports:

At the end of July, Blue America and our pals at the Americans For America PAC launched the first in a series of videos that highlights what kind of people now lead the Republican Party. We featured Sarah Palin, Rand Paul and John Boehner. And we asked the readers at DWT,C&L and Digby’s Hullabaloo to tell us who to do the next ad for. Lots of votes for Ken Calvert and Michele Bachmann but it was North Carolina reactionary haridan Virginia Foxx who got the most votes.

Billy Kennedy, Foxx’s Democratic challenger, responded to the ad in a release:

“Dishonest politicians try to divide us and turn us against each other in order to win an election on wedge issues. Politicians of both parties emphasize wedge issues to distract us and avoid talking about the serious problems we face. It is a tactic used to mislead us in order to hide how they really vote about issues that matter.

“More and better jobs, a commitment to Medicare and Social Security, fair taxation, and the failure of bailouts and subsidies to corporations are not wedge issues.

I want to make it clear.  I support freedom and equal rights for all people. I will protect all individuals’ Constitutional rights, without allowing politicians to pick and choose which Amendments deserve to be taken seriously.

“I want to focus on what all of us can do to improve our lives.  I’ve been listening these last few months to people all over the district.  I’ve made over 18,000 phone calls, and I will not allow my opponent to play politics on questions of economic fairness and individual liberty.”

The ad isn’t yet running, but you can contribute and help make it happen.

If you don’t live in Charlotte, Cleveland, Minneapolis or St. Louis, or if you aren’t a politics/news junky, or if you aren’t in someway involved in Democratic politics, you’ve likely not heard that Charlotte is in the running to host the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

But, if you do already know that have you yet heard all the discussion surrounding Charlotte’s current treatment of LGBT people and issues? Fear not, and find a comprehensive round-up of all the discussions below…

How do potential DNC 2012 host cities compare on LGBT equality?
July 13. InterstateQ.com
see also: Pam’s House Blend, DemConWatch

A reality check for my own enthusiasm for Charlotte Hosting the DNC2012.
July 13. Mark Wisniewski

Open letter to the DNC: LGBT Charlotteans need the 2012 Democratic Convention.
July 27. InterstateQ.com
see also: Pam’s House Blend, DemConWatch

DNC 2012 as Therapy for Local Gays.
July 27. Meck Deck

Interesting Open Letter* by Matt Comer.
July 27. Mark Wisniewski

City failing on DNC platform issue: treatment of gays, lesbians.
Aug. 15. Charlotte Observer
see also: Mark Wisniewski’s longer, original commentary

Wisniewski on the Keith Larson Show.
Aug. 17. QNotes

An interesting Twitter convo:

Demre: RT @proudamericans Obama is governing like a dictator and is purposely destroying this country! Please RT if you agree… #tcot

interstateq: @proudamericans Just curious: y’all are just kidding, right? If not, I’ll be on the lookout for stray marbles.

proudamericans: @interstateq kidding about what

interstateq: @proudamericans Your Obama ruling like a dictator comment.

proudamericans: @interstateq When a President passes more & more by executive order to get his agenda passed & not going through Congress – thats dictator!

interstateq: @proudamericans Did you make same claims against Bush? If not why all the outrage now? This is childs play compared to Bush’s true *abuses*

proudamericans: @interstateq I can tell you are a zombie brainwashed by the liberal media go ahead and believe what you want. Bush did not govern like this

It’s so nice to know our compassionately conservative friends answer true, honest and civil debate (along with completely valid questions) with ad hominem attacks. Wait. I thought only liberals did that. I’m confused.

A few reminders: The Constitution in Crisis, Bush v. Constitution,  Exposing Bush’s historic abuses of power

And none of that even adds up to being the tiniest bit of a tip of the iceberg. Obama, the dictator? That notion is just about as crazy (and, yes, I mean crazy as in clinically delusional) as Liberty Counsel’s claims that Obama is planning to ‘subvert’ the Constitution.

Neo-cons are weird sort of creature. People with Alzheimer’s have better memory function than these folks.

P.S. — There’s no such thing as “The Liberal Media.” I highly recommend Glenn Greenwald’s excellent piece: “Octavia Nasr and what The Liberal Media allows.”

P.P.S. — Again, I’ll repeat: “I’m telling you: The right wing agenda is evil, insidious and pernicious. Nothing more. Nothing less. (Although the words “sick” and “twisted” come to mind, too.)”

Today and Wednesday, the Democratic National Committee’s 2012 convention site selection committee will visit Charlotte. While here, they’ll take a look at several criteria: transportation, security, convention space, hotel capacity and more.

Charlotte leaders, including Mayor Anthony Foxx, have been working hard to woo the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Their website, Charlottein2012.com, outlines facts, figures and statistics on the Charlotte area, and they are working on compiling a resource list of all the great things to do and see in and around the Queen City.

The first “fact” in their Fact Sheet (PDF) states we are “an energetic, innovative, diverse city on the move,” yet this quick “fact” forgets about one key Democratic constituency that has often been ill-served and ignored by Charlotte’s Democratic leadership. Unfortunately, local and state leaders’ exhuberance over Charlotte’s possible hosting of the Democratic National Convention has overshadowed just how slow the area has been to making progressive change, particularly for LGBT citizens.

The Democratic National Convention stands to bring countless numbers of LGBT Americans to our city. It is an event for a political party whose ideals of equality and inclusion are rarely, if ever, taken to heart by our own local Democratic Party leaders.

At first glance, this lack of progress seems nothing but a negative stain on Charlotte but it doesn’t have to be. The Queen City has much more growing to do, and the Democratic National Convention’s presence here could help to highlight the many issues faced by our local LGBT community and push local leaders over whatever obstacles keep them from fully and publicly supporting LGBT people and citizens here.

So, here is my open letter to the DNC. I ask you to consider Charlotte carefully and provide a fair selection process to all potential host cities. But, in the end, I hope you do choose Charlotte.

Read on for an in-depth exploration of the state of LGBT Charlotte — both positive and negative — and how the convention could help our city move forward. Continue reading this post…

You’ve got to be freaking kidding me. After eight years of the Bush Administration and its biggest expansion of federal government and executive branch power in all of American history, the folks at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty Counsel want to push this? Bonkers. Looney. Lost marbles. Crazy (like so far past going off the deep end it is unimaginable) is the only thing that can describe it.

From Liberty Counsel’s email blast today:

The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency

Revealing Barack Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution…and How to Stop Him. President Obama must be stopped. Ken Blackwell and Ken Klukowski show how to do it in The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency, a new No. 1 best-selling book.

The Constitution is on the side of the American people. It’s time to take America back! The Blueprint is available from Liberty Counsel for a gift of $30 or more.

Where the hell were these batshit crazy loons when Bush and his cronies were taking the Constitution and ripping it to shreds?

I’m telling you: The right wing agenda is evil, insidious and pernicious. Nothing more. Nothing less. (Although the words “sick” and “twisted” come to mind, too.)