Tuesday News: Bad leadership


GOP COUNTY COMMISSIONER OPENS RESTAURANT FOR DINE-IN CUSTOMERS: Carrol Dean Mitchem, the Republican chairman of the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners, was charged Monday with violating N.C. Executive Order 138, which bans on-site food consumption during the pandemic. Mitchem is known for taking controversial stands on the board of commissioners, including saying prayers from non-Christian religions are unwelcome at the county’s government meetings, WBTV reported in 2015. His restaurant was one of two cited Monday for violating the executive order. The Rise ‘n Shine Cafe in Asheville was issued a citation for what police called “persistent non-compliance to the public health order,” McClatchy News reported. Police said they received three complaints that the cafe was allowing people to dine inside.

CUTS IN FEDERAL FUNDING PUT DES IN VULNERABLE POSITION BEFORE PANDEMIC: After hearing from almost a dozen people – some seething, some weeping – describe Monday their often futile efforts to file for unemployment during the coronavirus pandemic, Republican lawmakers pointed the finger of blame at Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper's administration. The state Division of Employment Security has been swamped by 1.2 million claims for jobless benefits since March 15, which division director Lockhart Taylor said is more than it handled during the last six years combined. "Like other states around the country, we started off ill equipped to handle so many claims in such a short period of time," Taylor said during a legislative oversight committee. The DES is federally funded, and he noted that the agency's budget had been cut by 20 percent in recent years, which resulted in similar cuts to its staff. The fallout from the pandemic was so overwhelming and so fast that the DES didn't have time to prepare. DES has brought on enough staff to where the agency can now handle 65,000 calls a day, up from 6,000 a day two months ago. But he noted most of that additional help isn't yet fully trained to answer people's questions, which doesn't help people in many cases.

NC COULD SEE A $4 BILLION BUDGET SHORTFALL DUE TO CORONAVIRUS: Due to falling tax revenues spurred on by the coronavirus shutdown, state lawmakers expect to face a budget shortfall of billions of dollars. The losses could be as high as $4 billion, said N.C. Senate leader Phil Berger, a Republican from Eden, at a press conference Monday. That would be around 16% of North Carolina’s $25 billion budget — potentially requiring large cuts across state government. With many parts of the economy shutting down and people losing their jobs, plus tourism slowing down, revenue from both sales taxes and income taxes could drop substantially. Berger said state officials should have more details later this week. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has been pushing members of Congress to approve additional funds to help state, city and county leaders avoid having to make large cuts. “If that’s not dealt with, then state government and local government are going to have to make significant cuts in core services like law enforcement, like education, like transportation,” Cooper said at a press conference last week.

TRUMP HAS BEEN TAKING HIS OWN SNAKE OIL TO PROTECT HIM FROM COVID 19: The president said he began taking the anti-malaria drug about 10 days ago after he told the White House physician he would like to start taking hydroxychloroquine. That timing would put the start of Trump’s drug regimen at roughly the same time as news broke that two White House staffers had tested positive for the virus, and the White House later released a letter from Trump’s in-house doctor that linked his drug regimen to one of those cases. “After numerous discussions he and I had for and against the use of hydroxychloroquine we concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks,” White House physician Sean P. Conley wrote. He said Trump continues to test negative for the virus. In announcing his decision to take the controversial drug, Trump offered only anecdotal testimonials as evidence that it works in any form as a treatment or preventive for the virus that has killed nearly 90,000 Americans and devastated the economy. “I think it’s good. I’ve heard a lot of good stories. And if it’s not good, I’ll tell you right. I’m not going to get hurt by it,” he told reporters at the White House, noting it has long been approved to treat malaria, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. “It’s been around for 40 years.” Clinical trials, academic research and scientific analysis indicate that the danger of the drug is a significantly increased risk of death for certain patients, particularly those with heart problems.

LATEST WHISTLEBLOWER FIRED BY TRUMP WAS INVESTIGATING ARMS SALES TO SAUDI ARABIA: The decision to resume lethal aid to the Saudis and Emiratis was a major initiative undertaken by Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Trump, who often discussed the importance of the weapons sales with officers of Raytheon, the Massachusetts-based defense contractor that lobbied heavily to get a 2017 suspension of sales lifted. Congress had imposed the suspension because of a political rift among Gulf Arab nations driven by the Saudis and because of discoveries that bomb fragments traced to Raytheon by investigators were linked to a series of Saudi bombings that killed civilians, including children. But the effort to restart the sales was delayed by the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi dissident, Washington Post columnist and American resident. His death, and the suspected role of the Saudi leadership in ordering the killing, led to calls for a full end to military aid to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Mr. Pompeo broke the logjam a year ago, declaring an “emergency” over Iran’s activities in the Middle East that enabled him to sidestep the congressional ban and approve restarting the sales. That started the resumption of more normal exchanges with the Saudi government, as the Trump administration tried to move past Mr. Khashoggi’s killing. Saudi Arabia and Iran are archrivals in the region. In June, after congressional hearings with State Department officials into the rationale for declaring an emergency over Iran, Mr. Engel sent a letter to Mr. Linick asking him to open an investigation. This past weekend, after Mr. Trump notified Congress of the firing of Mr. Linick, Mr. Engel’s office learned more details of the circumstances around the arms sale investigation, leading Mr. Engel to ask whether the inquiry might have contributed to the sudden move against Mr. Linick by Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Trump. The Washington Post first reported on Mr. Engel’s concerns on Monday.



Can you spot the Constitutional violation

in that top story about the commissioner/restaurateur being cited for opening? I'll give you 15 minutes before I provide the answer...

**The very first sentence of the First Amendment to the Constitution: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..."

The Chairman's vehement opposition to any non-Christian prayer in his meetings is a de facto establishment of Christianity as (the only) government-approved religion. And before you say, "But Steve, that only applies to Congress," answer this question: Do you think the Founding Fathers thought it would be okay for state or municipal governments to do that?

And I'm sure he supports...

the lawsuit to remove the ban on mass religious services too. That kind of "Christian" believes that the government should both stay out of the way of what they want to do and actively promote their religious beliefs. They want the 1st Amendment to apply only to themselves.

Good stuff

They did leave out a (IMO) critical piece of information: That Burr had been openly critical of the STOCK Act and voted against it when it hit the Senate floor back in 2012. Until he had actually insider-traded, that might be passed off as a "principled stand" or some other horseshit. But now? It looks like he wanted to keep that option open.

NC GOP worried Burr may take down Tillis

The Daily Beast has the story.

"Some North Carolina Republicans largely dismissed concerns with Burr’s financial maneuvers, which also puts Tillis in a tight spot. “I don’t consider him to have done anything wrong,” said Warner Wingler, chairman of the Yadkin County Republican Party, adding later that it was “a political ploy” to try and hurt Burr.

And Lanny Lancaster, a former chair of the Cabarrus County GOP and a current member of the board of elections for the suburban Charlotte county, told The Daily Beast he was disappointed in Tillis’ statements so far about Burr.

“If I were Sen. Tillis, I’d support him 100 percent,” said Lancaster. “I wish he would have stood by him a little more. But I’m not up for re-election.”

This point could become problematic for Tillis, because it plays into a stubborn weakness of his: perception among some North Carolina Republicans that he’s been insufficiently loyal to the party and to President Trump. Some, including Trump, do not appear to have totally forgiven Tillis for declaring in a high-profile op-ed in February 2019 that he’d vote to block Trump from using emergency powers to fund the border wall with Mexico—before reversing himself and voting in favor of the move weeks later.”

Trump’s “the man,” said Ken Henson, the chairman of the Haywood County Republican Party, who added that he wasn’t a fan of either Burr or Tillis. He does plan to support Tillis in November despite professing that he likes “really super conservative people.”

“Well I feel like if the president, if he had a few more Jim Jordans and Mark Meadows and people like that, there’s no telling what he could have got done,” Henson said, referencing two of Trump’s biggest allies in Congress, one of which—Meadows, also of North Carolina—is now White House chief of staff.

"It would be amazing what he could have got done if he hadn’t had so many Richard Burrs and Tom Tillis to not know which way they might go. He needed more (that) had his back and we would be rocking and rolling right now.”

Meanwhile, Cunningham, Tillis’ opponent, is aiming to use the Burr drama as a way to paint Tillis as overly loyal to his party, to the detriment of his responsibilities as senator. “Senator Tillis’ inability to stand up to his own party, even in light of damning behavior being investigated by Trump’s Justice Department, is just the latest example of how weak Tillis has become and how low he’ll stoop to protect his political future,” said Aaron Simpson, a spokesman for Cunningham’s campaign."