Redistricting in North Carolina: Democrats Find New Avenue of Attack Against Republicans

Redistricting in NC (flag pic)

by Diane Rufino, September 29, 2019

We’ve been hearing a lot about “redistricting” lately. In fact, we heard that a state court invalidated two of the popularly-mandated (that is, approved by voters in 2016) amendments to the state constitution (the one adding a photo ID requirement to vote and the other capping the state income tax at 7.5%) on the grounds that the bills giving rise to the amendments were the illegal products of an illegitimate NC General Assembly. The body was claimed to be “illegitimate” because several representatives were supposedly elected pursuant to improperly racially-gerrymandered district maps.

So what are we referring to when we talk about “redistricting”?

Redistricting is the process by which new congressional and state legislative district boundaries are drawn. Each of North Carolina’s 13 United States House representatives and 170 state legislators [120 for the House and 50 for the Senate] are elected from political divisions called districts. United States senators are not elected by districts, but by the states at large. District lines are redrawn every 10 years following completion of the United States census. The federal government stipulates that districts must have nearly equal populations and must not discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity.

I.  WHERE WE STAND (After Several Court Opinions) —

(1) On June 27, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its opinion in Rucho v. Common Cause, finding that partisan gerrymandering claims, such as that made against North Carolina’s congressional district plan, present political questions that fall beyond the jurisdiction of the federal judiciary. As part of its ruling, the high court overturned a district court ruling that had struck down the state’s congressional district plan as an impermissible partisan gerrymander. The case was remanded back to the state court system.

(2) On September 3, 2019, in the case Common Cause v. David Lewis, a state court struck down North Carolina’s legislative district plan as an impermissible partisan gerrymander under the state constitution. Did you know that the state constitution requires districts to be drawn in a non-partisan manner? Clearly, those Democrats who were in power for over 110 years in the state, and who took their oaths to support the constitution, did not know it. Or if they did, they chose to violate those “apparent” provisions. Following the lead of a court in Pennsylvania which held that redistricting maps must be drawn on a non-partisan basis, the group Common Cause filed suit in North Carolina to challenge the 2017 redistricting maps drawn by a Republican-dominated General Assembly as being violative of the state constitution and its requirements for non-partisanship in elections.

Common Cause, a non-profit organization that claims to be “non-partisan,” was under the leadership of Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration and a rabid socialist, for 5 years – from 2013-2018.

Here are the state constitutional provisions that Common Cause referred to in their challenge to the 2017 redistricting maps:

The NC state constitution provides, in Article I (“Declaration of Rights”):

Article I, § 14 reads: “Freedom of Speech and Press. Freedom of speech and of the press are two of the great bulwarks of liberty and therefore shall never be restrained, but every person shall be held responsible for their abuse.” [Referred to in court rulings and in this article as the “Freedom of Speech” Clause of the NC state constitution].

Article I, § 12 reads: “Freedom of Assembly and Redress. The people have a right to assemble together to consult for their common good, to instruct their representatives, and to apply to the General Assembly for redress of grievances; but secret political societies are dangerous to the liberties of a free people and shall not be tolerated.” [Referred to in court rulings and in this article as the “Freedom of Assembly” Clause of the NC state constitution].

The NC General Court of Justice, Superior Court Division, Raleigh agreed with Common Cause. In their unanimous conclusion, issued earlier this month on September 3, the 3-member panel of judges (Judges Paul Ridgway, Joseph Crosswhite, and Alma Hinton) wrote:

The Freedom of Speech Clause in Article I, § 14 of the North Carolina Constitution provides that “freedom of speech and of the press are two of the great bulwarks of liberty and therefore shall never be restrained.” The Freedom of Assembly Clause in Article I, § 12 provides, in relevant part, that “the people have a right to assemble together to consult for their common good, to instruct their representatives, and to apply to the General Assembly for redress of grievances.” The 2017 Plans, therefore, violate the North Carolina Constitution’s guarantees of free speech and assembly, irrespective of whether the plans violate the U.S. Constitution. [pp. 317-318]

North Carolina’s Constitution Protects the Rights of Free Speech and Assembly Independently from the Federal Constitution. The NC Supreme Court has held that “in construing provisions of the Constitution of North Carolina is not bound by opinions of the Supreme Court of the United States construing even identical provisions in the Constitution of the United States.” The NC Supreme Court has further held that the North Carolina Constitution’s Free Speech Clause provides broader rights than does federal law. In particular, the Court has held that the North Carolina Constitution affords a direct cause of action for damages against government officers in their official capacity for speech violations, even though federal law does not. [pg. 318]

In 2017, the US Supreme Court wrote: “By packing and cracking Democratic voters to make it harder for them to translate votes into legislative seats, the 2017 Plans “single out a subset of messages for disfavor based on the views expressed. This is the essence of viewpoint discrimination.” Matal v. Tam, 137 S. Ct. 1744, 1766 (2017, Kennedy concurring). NC Republican legislators (defendants) drew the 2017 Plans in a way that deliberately minimized the effectiveness of the votes of citizens with whom they disagree (ie, Democrats).  [pg. 326]

Question: Isn’t the historically accepted exercise of re-districting by the political party in power to “minimize the effectiveness of votes cast by citizens with whom they disagree”?   I think everyone has come to accept this as the permissible consequence of election outcomes. “Elections have consequences.” How many times have we heard this? The Supreme Court itself has made this statement in its opinions.

In their opinion, and as they wrote, “it is the carefully-crafted maps, and not the will of the voters, that dictate the election outcomes in a significant number of legislative districts and, ultimately, the majority control of the General Assembly.”

The judges concluded that the 2017 Redistricting Plan violate the Freedom of Speech and Assembly Clauses by discriminating on the basis of viewpoint. They went on to conclude that the Plans violate the Clauses for an independent reason. “In addition to forbidding discrimination, those clauses also bar retaliation based on protected speech and expression.” [pg. 329]. Furthermore, they concluded that “partisan gerrymandering claims are justiciable under the North Carolina Constitution” (pg. 341).

They ultimately concluded and ruled: “There is no reasonable doubt the 2017 House and Senate Plans are unconstitutional under the North Carolina Constitution, and the Court enjoins their use in the 2020 primary and general elections…..” (pg. 347)

The ruling went on to require:

“The Court will require that Remedial Maps for the House and Senate legislative district maps for the 2020 election (hereinafter “Remedial Maps”) be drawn (within 2 weeks), and that the Remedial Maps comply with the criteria adopted by the General Assembly’s House and Senate Redistricting Committees on August 10, 2017, with several exceptions, including the following:

(1) In redrawing the relevant districts in the Remedial Maps, the invalidated 2017 districts may not be used as a starting point for drawing new districts.

(2) “Election Data” criteria shall not be permitted in the drafting of the Remedial Maps. In other words, partisan considerations and election results data shall not be used in the drawing of legislative districts in the Remedial Maps. The Court likewise will prohibit any intentional attempt to favor voters or candidates of one political party.

(3) The Court will require Legislative Defendants and their agents to conduct the entire remedial process in full public view. At a minimum, that would require all map drawing to occur at public hearings, with any relevant computer screen visible to legislators and public observers. Given what transpired in 2017, the Court will prohibit Legislative Defendants (ie, Republican legislators) and their agents from undertaking any steps to draw or revise the new districts outside of public view.”

**** Reference::  Opinion of the NC General Court of Justice, Superior Court Division, Raleigh (September 3, 2019), which is 348 pages in length – https://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/athena/files/2019/09/03/5d6ec7bee4b0cdfe0576ee09.pdf

The new maps were drawn up on September 17. They were reviewed and ratified by a court-appointed referee the same day. The non-partisan house legislative plan and map was ratified as H.B. 1020 and the non-partisan senate legislative plan and map was ratified as S.B. 692.

(3) North Carolina’s House of Representatives comprises 120 districts; North Carolina’s State Senate comprises 50 districts. The responsibility for drawing both congressional and state legislative district lines lies with the state legislature (NC General Assembly). District maps cannot be vetoed by the governor.

II.  THE LEGAL REQUIREMENTS FOR DRAWING UP DISTRICT MAPS FOR ELECTIONS 

As we all know, there are two general types of elections in our country – federal elections and state elections. The US Constitution and federal law provide the legal guidelines and requirements for drawing up districts for federal elections (ie, for US congressional districts). The state constitution and state laws provide the legal guidelines and requirements for state elections (for state house and senate districts).

A.  FEDERAL ELECTIONS & FEDERAL LEGISLATIVE REDISTRICTING

According to Article I, Section 4 of the US Constitution, the states and their legislatures have primary authority in determining the “times, places, and manner” of congressional elections. Congress may also pass laws regulating congressional elections.

The US Constitution provides:

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of choosing Snators.” [Article I, Section 4]

Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution stipulates that congressional representatives be apportioned to the states on the basis of population. There are 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives. Each state is allotted a portion of these seats based on the size of its population relative to the other states. Consequently, a state may gain seats in the House if its population grows or lose seats if its population decreases, relative to populations in other states.

In 1964, the US Supreme Court ruled in Wesberry v. Sanders that the populations of House districts must be equal “as nearly as practicable.” This is where we get the general rule “One Person, One Vote.” In fact, the equal population requirement for congressional districts is strict. Any district with more or fewer people than the average, representing even a 1 percent deviation, will most likely be unconstitutional.

B.  STATE LEGISLATIVE REDISTRICTING —

The US Constitution is silent on the issue of state legislative redistricting. However, in the mid-1960s, the US Supreme Court issued a series of rulings in an effort to clarify standards for state legislative redistricting. In Reynolds v. Sims, the court ruled that “the Equal Protection Clause [of the 14th Amendment] demands no less than substantially equal state legislative representation for all citizens, of all places as well as of all races.”

The following is a list of recent redistricting bills that have been introduced in or passed by the North Carolina state legislature.

NC H717 – Judicial Elections Changes. “An Act to revise the judicial divisions; to make certain adjustments to the assignment of counties to the superior court, district court, and prosecutorial districts; to clarify listing of judicial seats on the ballot; and to limit rotation of superior… “ 6/28/2018: Ch. SL 2018-121

NC S209 – Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission. “An Act to establish a nonpartisan redistricting process……”   6/21/2018: Re-ref Com On Rules and Operations of the Senate

NC H927 – 2017 House Redistricting Plan A2. “An Act to realign the districts for the election of the members of the North Carolina house of representatives…..” 8/31/2017: Ch. SL 2017-208

NC S691 – 2017 Senate Floor Redistricting Plan (4th Ed.) “An Act to realign the districts for the election of the members of the North Carolina Senate…..”   8/31/2017: Ch. SL 2017-207

NC S692 – Adjourn August Redistricting Session & Reconvene. “A JOINT RESOLUTION adjourning the session reconvened pursuant to Section 2.1 of Resolution 2017-12, as amended by resolution 2017-14, and further amending RESOLUTION 2017-12.”   8/31/2017: Ch. Res 2017-15

NC H677 – Amend Who Can Serve on Three-Judge Panel. “An Act to provide that district court judges may be appointed to serve on three-judge panels for actions challenging the validity of Acts of the General Assembly…..” 4/21/2017: Passed 1st Reading

NC H735 – Redistricting by Computer. “An Act to amend the North Carolina constitution to establish an independent redistricting commission to redistrict via computer software programs utilizing politically neutral criteria to district….. “   4/13/2017: Ref To Com On Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House

NC H674 – Independent Redistricting Commission. “An Act to amend the constitution to establish an independent redistricting commission…..” 4/11/2017: Ref To Com On Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House

NC H714 – Fair Redistricting Study Committee. “An Act to create the Joint Legislative Study Committee on Fair Redistricting……” 4/11/2017: Ref To Com On Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House

NC S554 – Fair Redistricting/Postmark & Absentee Ballots. “An Act to create the Joint Legislative Study Committee on Fair Redistricting and to provide that absentee ballots received by a county board of elections by mail on the day after the election that are not postmarked are deemed to have been postmarked……” 4/3/2017: Ref To Com On Rules and Operations of the Senate

NC H200 – Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission. “An Act to establish a nonpartisan redistricting process…..” 2/28/2017: Ref To Com On Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House

Up until the case Common Cause v. David Lewis, no mention had been made of any state constitutional requirements to the process of state legislative redistricting. Litigation using this approach is just another desperate act of a dying political party to protect any power possible at the ballot box (power denied to Republicans for over 110 years). The Common Cause case, being unanimous in its opinion, opens a whole new line of litigation in the national battle over partisan gerrymanders.

Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause of North Carolina had this to say about the court ruling: “The court has made clear that partisan gerrymandering violates our state’s constitution and is unacceptable. Thanks to the court’s landmark decision, politicians in Raleigh will no longer be able to rig our elections through partisan gerrymandering.”

Here is an interesting question: If the NC state constitution requires non-partisan state legislative districts, as Common Cause and Democrats allege, why did the NC General Assembly feel the need to pass the 2017 law, NC H674. NC H674 (“Independent Redistricting Commission”) was intended to amend the NC constitution to establish an independent redistricting commission in order to guide the Senate Redistricting Committee in designing redistricting plans to ensure they are as non-partisan as possible.

III.  THE STATUS OF NC HOUSE and SENATE REMEDIAL DISTRICT MAPS —

Pursuant to the Common Cause v. David Lewis ruling of September 3 and its order to draw up new, non-partisan maps, the NC General Assembly, under the watchful eye and subject to approval of a court-appointed referee, adopted remedial maps on September 17. The non-partisan house legislative plan/map was ratified as H.B. 1020 and the non-partisan senate legislative plan/map was ratified as S.B. 692.

Republican leaders declined to challenge and appeal the ruling.

Speaking for the Republican members of the General Assembly, Senate leader Phil Berger said in a statement to Charlotte-based station WBTV: “The decision contradicts the Constitution and binding legal precedent…. Nearly a decade of relentless litigation has strained the legitimacy of this state’s institutions, and the relationship between its leaders, to the breaking point. It’s time to move on. To end this matter once and for all, we will follow the court’s instruction and move forward with adoption of a nonpartisan map.”

The reason for the decision not to challenge the ruling may be two-fold: First, under the new maps, the Republican party will continue to control a majority of both chambers of the General Assembly. And second, if Republicans had decided to appeal, there is really a good chance that the ruling would stand, given that Democrats control North Carolina’s Supreme Court.

Voters are urged to contact their county Boards of Election, or to review the maps provided by the General Assembly (online, see the Reference section for the links) to confirm which state districts they have been assigned to for the 2020 primaries and the 2020 general election.

IV.  POTENTIAL LEGAL CHALLENGE to the VOTING RIGHTS ACT of 1965 —

I think the climate is ripe for a legal challenge to Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Essentially, Section 2 mandates that district lines cannot be drawn in such a manner as to “improperly dilute minorities’ voting power.”

Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 reads:

SEC. 2. No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.

In 1982, Congress examined the history of litigation under Section 2 since the bill’s passage and concluded that Section 2 should be amended to provide that a plaintiff could establish a violation of the section if the evidence established that, in the context of the “totality of the circumstance of the local electoral process,” the standard, practice, or procedure being challenged had the result of denying a racial or language minority an equal opportunity to participate in the political process.

First of all, the language of Section 2 is constitutionally vague, and has been so, under our political system. The truth is that African-Americans have been, and continue to be, almost completely identified with the Democratic Party. It is said that approximately 90% of African-Americans identify with the Democratic Party, if not higher. And so I say that the language of Section 2 is constitutionally vague because it assumes that any standard, practice, or procedure related to voting that affects African-Americans does so specifically and only because of the color of their skin. It makes no room for the possibility that a particular law, practice, procedure, standard, etc that affects them has the goal of addressing a political party or political views, just as it would affect others of the same political persuasion, and NOT to affect them because of their skin color. A “just” law must make room for legitimate reasons for its passage.

And so, I believe Section 2 should be amended accordingly.

Section 2 should be amended to provide that a plaintiff could establish a violation of the section if the evidence established that, in the context of the “totality of the circumstance of the local electoral process,” the standard, practice, or procedure being challenged had the primary or sole purpose, as well as the intended objective, to deny a racial or language minority an equal opportunity to participate in the political process.

Second of all, Section 2 provides a strong incentive to perpetuate racial stereotypes and racial victimization (ie, the “race card”) in voting.

Third, it offers a tremendous legal protection to the Democratic Party.

Here is my concern. The Voting Rights Act was drafted and passed to protect the voting rights of African-Americans. This was the piece of legislation specifically designed to address the many violations of African-American voting rights, as recognized and secured by the 15th Amendment. In fact, in 1980, the Supreme Court held that Section 2, as originally enacted by Congress in 1964, was a restatement of the protections afforded by the 15th amendment. [See Mobile v. Bolden, 446 U.S. 55 (1980)]. Under that standard, a plaintiff had to prove that the standard, practice, or procedure was enacted or maintained, at least in part, by an invidious purpose.

As mentioned earlier, at least approximately 90% of African-Americans identify with the Democratic Party. So in effect, because Section 2 protects African-Americans unconditionally, it protects the interests of the Democratic Party outright. Now, the over-all goal of re-districting, at least in our current time, is NOT to suppress black voting OR to give blacks special protection. It is race-neutral. It is concerned with party affiliation only. Only a moron would think otherwise. Yet that’s the position that Democrats and African-Americans routinely take. They take the position not because they know it to be true but because it’s politically expedient. They know that race matters; they know that racial challenges are taken seriously. They know that lawyers being turned out of today’s liberal law schools are indoctrinated in social justice and see it everywhere – even when it doesn’t exist. The true goal of re-districting is to draw up district maps in a way that favors the election of the reigning political party. “Elections Have Consequences.” Maps can be re-drawn by Republicans to disfavor registered Democrats and to favor Republicans, and that would theoretically be allowed. Similarly, if Democrats have the majority in General Assembly, they too can re-district to favor their party. And they have, when they were in power. This practice has been an accepted one since the end of the 1700’s.

But look at the situation through the lens of Section 2. If Republicans re-district and the group of voters (registered Democrats) affected happen to be white, then no harm no foul. The re-districting is permissible. The disgruntled white Democrats have no recourse. But if those same registered Democrats just happen to have black skin, then it’s a whole different ballgame, right? Suddenly they have a cause of action under Section 2. They immediately have a cause of action. They can sue the government body; they can challenge the restricted maps as being impermissible gerrymandering, And chances are that they will be successful in court.

But the truth is this: Republicans are not looking at skin color at all – only political party affiliation. Democrats are Democrats. A white vote for a Democratic candidate is no different from a black vote for a Democratic candidate. And so Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, although passed for an honorable and a neutral purpose, as applied since the 1960s it is a strong legal tool that benefits only one political party – the Democratic Party. And so it is used exactly as such – as a legal tool to advance party interests.

Regarding Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, I believe it is ripe for a legal challenge. In the alternative, the US Congress can alter its language, as suggested above. The purpose of the challenge or the amending of language must be to get rid of Section 2 as a political tool of the Democratic Party and to get rid of the baseless claims made for no other reason than to undermine the Republican Party or to perpetuate the false notion that racism exists insidiously in our country today.

 

References:

“Redistricting in North Carolina,” Ballotpedia. Referenced at: https://ballotpedia.org/Redistricting_in_North_Carolina

Rucho v. Common Cause (decision: June 27, 2019), Supreme Court Opinion. Referenced at: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/18-422_9ol1.pdf

Case Review, Rucho v. Common Cause (decision: June 27, 2019). Referenced at: https://ballotpedia.org/Rucho_v._Common_Cause

Rucho v. Common Cause (August 27, 2018), ruling from the District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina (lower federal court). Referenced at: https://electionlawblog.org/wp-content/uploads/MDNC-Opinion.pdf

Common Cause v. David Lewis (judgement, Sept. 3, 2019), NC General Court of Justice, Superior Court Division – Wake County. Court ruling referenced at:  https://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/athena/files/2019/09/03/5d6ec7bee4b0cdfe0576ee09.pdf

Brennan Center for Justice, “A Citizen’s Guide to Redistricting,” Brennan Center for Justice. Referenced at: http://www.brennancenter.org/sites/default/files/legacy/CGR%20Reprint%20Single%20Page.pdf

“Redistricting Cases Heard by the Supreme Court of the United States,” Ballopedia. Referenced at: https://ballotpedia.org/Redistricting_cases_heard_by_the_Supreme_Court_of_the_United_States

House Bill 1020 (H.B. 1020), “2019 House Remedial Plan.” (Ratified Sept. 17, 2019). Referenced at: https://ncleg.gov/BillLookUp/2019/H1020

Remedial House Map (Non-Partisan Map) of Sept. 17, 2019 – https://webservices.ncleg.net/ViewBillDocument/2019/6558/0/HB%201020,%202nd%20Edition%20-%20HB%201020%202nd%20Edition

Senate Bill 692 (S.B. 692), “2019 Senate Consensus Nonpartisan Map.” (Ratified Sept. 17, 2019). Referenced at:  https://ncleg.gov/Sessions/2019/Bills/Senate/PDF/S692v4.pdf

Remedial Senate Map (Non-Partisan Map) of Sept. 17, 2019 – https://webservices.ncleg.net/ViewBillDocument/2019/6583/0/SB%20692,%202nd%20Edition%20-%20Senate%20Consensus%20Nonpartisan%20Map%20v3_11x17

 

APPENDIX I: Gerrymandering

The term “Gerrymandering” refers to the practice of drawing electoral district lines to favor one political party, individual, or constituency over another. When used in a rhetorical manner by opponents of a particular district map, the term has a negative connotation but does not necessarily address the legality of a challenged map. The term can also be used in legal documents; in this context, the term describes redistricting practices that violate federal or state laws.

The phrase “Racial Gerrymandering” refers to the practice of drawing electoral district lines to dilute the voting power of racial minority groups. Federal law prohibits racial gerrymandering and establishes that, to combat this practice and to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act, states and jurisdictions can create majority-minority electoral districts. A majority-minority district is one in which a racial group or groups comprise a majority of the district’s populations. Racial gerrymandering and majority-minority districts are discussed in greater detail in this article.

The phrase “Partisan Gerrymandering” refers to the practice of drawing electoral district maps with the intention of favoring one political party over another. In contrast with racial gerrymandering, on which the Supreme Court of the United States has issued rulings in the past affirming that such practices violate federal law, the high court had not, as of November 2017, issued a ruling establishing clear precedent on the question of partisan gerrymandering. Although the court has granted in past cases that partisan gerrymandering can violate the United States Constitution, it has never adopted a standard for identifying or measuring partisan gerrymanders.

There is more information on Gerrymandering at this link – https://ballotpedia.org/Gerrymandering#Partisan_gerrymandering

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Introducing Mark Robinson, Candidate for NC Lieutenant Governor

MARK ROBINSON - for NC Lieutenant Governor (head shot)

by Diane Rufino, September 20, 2019

Yesterday, the Republican Women of Pitt County and the Pitt County GOP held a joint monthly meeting to hear candidate for NC Lieutenant Governor, Mark Robinson.

We know there are several candidates who have already declared their campaign for NC Lieutenant Governor, such as Buddy Bengal (NC Education Lottery Commissioner), Scott Stone (former state rep), Andy Wells (current state senator), Greg Gebhardt (NC National Guardsman and army vet), Deborah Cochran (former mayor of Mount Airy), and Renee Elmers (disgraced former US congresswoman from district 2). And then there is Mark Robinson. Mark stands out from the other candidates for one very special reason – he is not a politician, he has no political experience, and he has no money. He is a businessman, a man who has worked in the furniture industry. He is simply an ordinary citizen who has finally had enough of the nonsensical liberal policies that are threatening his precious liberties, he has dared to push back against city government in a very vocal and public way, and he wants very badly to use his enormous voice and his unbridled passion to represent the good and decent law-abiding citizens of our state against the looney left. Mark is exactly the type of candidate that our Founders envisioned – a citizen servant. A person of the community who steps up to serve to make sure government remains accountable to the people it serves and respects the rights it is obligated to secure, and then goes back to his community to resume his business.

So who is Mark Robinson? Mark, the man, is a strong Christian and a strong conservative. He believes government is best when it governs least. His devout faith and the experiences of his life have shaped who he is and how he thinks. Mark, the candidate, is running as defined by 4 categories. He puts them in order this way: He is running first and foremost as a Christian, then he is running as an American (“Notice I did not say African-American. I am simply an American. I was not born in Africa, I have no relatives in Africa, I have not visited Africa, and when my ancestors were brought over here on slave ships, no one from Africa tried to stop them and no one from Africa came to America to fight to bring them back home.”), then he is running as a Conservative, and finally, he is running as a Republican. How he identifies himself says a lot about who he is as a man and who he is as a candidate.

We first took notice of Mark back in April 2018 when he stood up defiantly against the Greensboro City Council and delivered a passionate and heartfelt speech on the right to bear arms. The speech was captured on video and went viral, being viewed close to a million times (according to Mark). Those few minutes in front of the Greensboro City Council, and those words and those sentiments were enough to catch the attention of FOX News, other news outlets in the US, and news outlets and groups all around the world. He was invited on FOX & Friends, he was interviewed by Lara Trump, and has visited and spoken all around the country (as far west as Las Vegas) and all around the world (as far east as Germany).

What did Mark say to the Greensboro City Council? Here is the transcript of his remarks:

“I heard a whole lot of people talking here tonight about this group and that group, about domestic violence, about blacks, and about this minority and that minority. My question is this: When are you going to stand up for the majority? And here’s who the majority is – I’M THE MAJORITY !! I’m a law-abiding citizen who never shot anybody, who never committed a serious crime, and who never committed a felony. I’ve never done anything like that. But it seems that every time we have one of these shootings, nobody wants to put the blame where it belongs, which is on the shooter. You want to put the blame on me. You want to turn around and restrict my right – my constitutional right that is spelled out in black and white. You want to restrict my right to buy a firearm to protect myself from some of the very same people you’re talking about here tonight. It’s ridiculous. I don’t think Rod Serling could have come up with a better script. It does not make any sense. The law-abiding citizens of this community and in many communities around this country are the first ones taxed, the last ones considered, and the first ones punished when things like this happen because it’s our rights that are being taken away. That’s the reason why I came down here today. Gun Show or no Gun Show, NRA or no NRA… I’m here to stand up for the law-abiding citizens of this community because I’m gonna tell you what’s going to happen…. The Crypts and the Bloods on the other side of town are not going to turn their guns in. They’re gonna hold onto them. What gonna happen when you send the police down there to take them? The police can barely enforce the laws as it is. From what I see, we demonize the police, we criminalize and vilify them and make the criminals into victims. And we talk about restricting guns?? How are we going to do that? How are we going to enforce the law when the police are already hamstrung? You’re not going to be able to go down there and take the guns away from these criminals. So the criminals are going to hang onto their guns. They’re still gonna have them. They’re still gonna break into my house and they’re still gonna shoot me with them. And guess who’s gonna be the one who suffers? It’s gonna be me.

Well, I’m here to tell you tonight that it is NOT going to happen without a fight. And when I say ‘fight,’ I don’t mean shots fired and I don’t mean fists thrown. I mean I am going to come down here to this City Council and raise hell just like those lunatics from the left do until you listen to the majority of the people of this city. I AM THE MAJORITY. The majority of the people in this community are law-abiding and they follow the law and they want their Constitutional right to bear arms. They want to be able to go to the Gun Show and buy a hunting rifle or a sport rifle. There are no military-grade weapons sold at a gun show. An AR-15 is not a military-grade weapon. Anybody who would go into combat with an AR-15 is a fool. It’s a semi-automatic 22 rifle. You’d be killed in 15 minutes in combat with that thing. We need to dispel all these myths and we need to stop all this division because the bottom line is that when the Second Amendment was written, whether the Framers liked it or not, they wrote it for everybody. AND I’M EVERYBODY! And the law-abiding citizens of this city are Everybody. And we want our rights and we want to keep them. And by God, we will, come hell or high water !”

We like what we heard from him at that Greensboro City Council meeting and we like what we heard from him yesterday at the joint Republican Women of Pitt County/ Pitt County GOP meeting. By all indications, he is the real deal.

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NC General Assembly Republicans Seize the Opportunity to Make Good on the Promises Made in the State Budget

NC GENERAL ASSEMBLY - House Chamber

by Diane Rufino, September 16, 2019

In June, the Republican-dominated General Assembly passed a state budget that included pay increases for our public school teachers and for non-certified school personnel, pay increases for teachers in the state community college system, pay increases in general for state employees, pay increases for state highway patrol, ample funding for our transportation system and for disaster relief, and changes to our state tax laws. Republicans were proud of the promises made to the people of our state and proud that they were, for the most part, able to do the right thing without having to raise the budget to any significant degree or to increase state funding. Refer to sections (a) thru (f) below, noting the horrendous provision included to cater to Democrats in section (b).

Despite all the good in that budget, Governor Cooper went ahead and did the unthinkable – he vetoed it. His despicable act threatened the promises made in that state budget. Luckily in North Carolina, a provision was passed in 2016 to provide that if a budget is not approved, the previous budget remains in effect, keeping spending at current levels. Without the new budget, teachers would not see their new increase in pay, state highway patrol officers would not see their pay increase, state employees would not see their pay increase, etc.

And so, the question that remained this summer was whether Republicans would be able to find a way to override the Governor’s veto and to make good on those promises. Would they be able to wrangle enough votes from Democratic lawmakers to reach the magic number of 3/5 of a majority (even though it seemed they were far from realizing that option)? Would they be able to work with Democrats to come up with a compromise that Governor Cooper would approve of (including Medicaid expansion, of course). Even though Republicans promised they would never give in on such a fundamentally unconservative issue. Would a different opportunity present itself (such as a legislative session where limited numbers of Democrats fail to show up)?

On June 27, the NC Senate passed House Bill 966 (HB-966), also referred to as the “2019 Appropriations Act” or more commonly, the “Budget Bill,” by a vote of 33-15. The bill then went to the state house where it passed by a vote of 64-49. The Budget Bill was, by almost all accounts, an excellent (but not perfect) budget proposal did not increase the state debt and which included pay increases and improved benefits to certain state workers.

The 2019-2021 spending plan (HB-966) included the following:

(a) A slight increase from the previous state budget. The 2019-20 budget of $23.9 billion represents an increase of $689 million from the 2018-19 budget, and the 2020-21 budget of $24.9 billion represents a 4% increase from the FY 2018-19 budget.

(b) Instructed that $14 billion be used in the first year and $14.3 billion in the second year to fund education related programs throughout the state. Laid out in the education section of the budget, teachers, assistant principals, and school principals would see salary increases at an average rate of 4.6%, 6.3%, and 10% respectively. An additional $30 million in FY 2019-20 and $53.2 million the following year would be used to fund five School Safety Grants: one for school resource officers, services for students in crisis, school safety training, safety equipment in schools, and additional school mental health support personnel. The budget would eliminate the current classroom and teacher supply fund and replace it with a $15 million appropriation annually to establish the Teacher Directed Classroom Supplies Allotment that would allow teachers to use an app to purchase textbooks and other supplies specifically for their classrooms. Sadly and very disappointingly, a provision (a Democratic initiative) was included that would lower the grading scale to be used in the state’s public school system to measure school performance, changing the weighting of the school achievement component to 51% and the school growth component to 49%. It substitutes the 10-point grading scale (with a failing grade of 64) with a 15-point grading scale (with a failing grade of 49). Starting this school year, it will take very little effort for a student to meet the state’s new “competency” criteria.

(c) Includes pay increases for state highway patrol and for state employees.

(d) Medicaid Transformation projects will receive a nonrecurring appropriation of $232.9 million in FY 2019-20 and $198.4 million in 2020-21 in order to support the efforts of transitioning the state to a managed care system. Additionally, the Health and Human Services portion of the budget allocates $150.2 million and $11.4 million in respective years of the biennium to pay for the runout of claims for individuals transitioning to managed care.

(e) The Department of Transportation will receive $98 million in additional funds for the contact resurfacing of roads and other general maintenance projects. The budget also allocates approximately $58 million in funding for Rail Infrastructure efforts and includes provisions to remove restrictions specific to light rail projects. $15 million recurring dollars from the State Capital and Infrastructure Fund will be used for the GREAT grant program to help bring broadband providers to rural areas of the state.

(f) The budget contains several provisions to change North Carolina’s tax laws. Multistate corporations would be required to calculate their sales based on the percentage of their income that is due to products and services provided throughout the state. Tax and regulatory relief would also be granted to out-of-state businesses conducting disaster related work in North Carolina after a natural disaster, such as Hurricane Florence.

On June 28, Governor Roy Cooper vetoed the budget. He vetoed the budget for one reason and one reason only – to hold salary increases hostage in order to coerce the General Assembly into passing an acceptable Medicaid Expansion bill. He was intent on having Medicaid available for all those who needed it in North Carolina, including illegal aliens. It was a sickening exercise of political power, of partisan politics, of executive bullying, and of political extortion.

If the budget had passed, the members of the General Assembly would have had the opportunity to go home for the summer. Instead, they were forced, out of an obligation to their constituents and an obligation to their oath of office, to remain in Raleigh to figure out a way to make good on their promises. They knew, as it stood, they did not have the votes necessary to override the Governor’s veto. They would certainly need some Democrats to cross party lines to join them, and that would likely not happen (given the actions of the Democrats with the Born Alive Survivors of Abortion Protection Act). Many may recall how Republicans tried a piecemeal approach to the budget – passing individual conference reports and bills to meet the pay increases promised to individual state employees. In fact, they passed 3 conference reports, one to provide the proposed pay increase to our state highway patrol, another to provide the proposed pay increase to state employees, and the third to provide the proposed pay increases to state Bureau of Investigation and Alcohol Enforcement officers. An independent bill was passed to provide the proposed pay increases to public school non-certified employees and college professors and employees, and to provide bonuses for retirees.

No one can accuse a Republican lawmaker of not being tireless and dedicated to their position.

Note, though that none of the piecemeal reports or bills provided for a pay increase for public school teachers. I believe this was intentional. Although Republicans (not Democrats) had already given teachers six consecutive salary increases, teachers (organized by their so-called “union”) have continued to protest at the General Assembly demanding higher and higher pay. They never thank Republicans (indeed, they don’t even know what Republicans have done on their behalf) yet when Democrats were in power and never ever increased their pay, the same teachers never made a stink. I believe the Republicans wanted teachers to know that it was Governor Cooper alone who prevented them from enjoying a pay increase and didn’t want to help him escape the consequences of his despicable veto. I believe they wanted Governor Cooper to feel the heat from teachers – hoping, of course, that teachers would finally travel to Raleigh to condemn a Democrat and to protest at the Governor’s mansion.

That didn’t happen… No surprise there.

On September 11. Republicans in the General Assembly finally were able to make good on the promises they made in the 2019-21 appropriations bill. They were able to seize on an opportunity in the state house to take a vote to override Cooper’s veto. And exactly what was that “opportunity”? As Republicans noticed when they walked into the house chamber that morning, there were hardly any Democrats present, even though they had an obligation to be present for a scheduled vote. In fact, there were only 15 Democrats present at the time the session commenced.

The override vote passed, along strict party lines by a vote of 55-15. The veto override vote now sits with the Senate.

Immediately after the override vote was taken, house Democrats began to cry FOUL Rep. Deb Butler, one of the 15 Democratic house members to show up for the vote, screamed: “Speaker Moore, I will not yield. I will not yield….. I will not yield.”

But was their any duplicity or scheming involved in the override vote?   Absolutely not.  In fact, Republicans refer to their decision to take the override vote as an “opportunity,” while Democrats refer to it as “villainous” and “unfair.”

Here is what happened:

On September 10, Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett county) was standing in for House Speaker Tim Moore, who was not in Raleigh. On the house floor that day, he read two bills into the record which would be considered by the body the following day – at 8:30 am. In other words, two bills were read into the calendar. Those bills were Senate Bill 118 (S.118), a prison safety bill, and Senate Bill 429 (S.429), a disaster recovery bill. At every legislative session, any bill that is remaining on the calendar (that is, still waiting for some action to be taken) can be taken up, depending on the discretion of the speaker or acting speaker. In fact, notice of the veto override was properly noticed and published on the House calendar, as it has been for nearly 2 months. Every legislator knew this. In fact, Speaker Moore had reminded members of the House repeatedly that whenever he saw that we had the votes to effect the override, he would call for the vote.

To emphasize, after Chairman Lewis announced his intention to take up the two bills, he announced a start time of 8:30 am for Wednesday for the house session. Lewis, House Speaker Tim Moore (who would be returning to the legislature the following day), present members of the House, and staff, were all planning to hold recorded votes on bills on the published calendar for Wednesday’s morning session.

The Minority Leader, Rep. Darren Jackson, asked if the vote on those two bills could be delayed until Wednesday afternoon to give Democrats a chance to consider them in caucus. (As you’ll note later, this was most likely a ruse to cover up what Democrats already had planned for the morning…..)   Acting Speaker Lewis agreed to allow the delay and said there would be no votes on those two bills until Wednesday afternoon.

This is a very important detail to grasp.

Rep. Lewis told Rep. Jackson he would delay the vote on S.118 and S.429 until the afternoon but he did NOT cancel the morning house session. He had made clear the day before that they would be voting on bills (and not just those two bills). Jackson apparently had mistaken what Lewis said to conclude that there would be no voting at all in the morning session. That begs the question then – Why even have the session? Why didn’t Speaker Lewis cancel it? If the session wasn’t cancelled, then there was clearly house business to address, including bills to be voted on and possibly, yes possibly, some calendar bills to re-visit.

Every night, the General Assembly (GA) publishes its calendar for consideration the following day. So, for those legislators who just happened to be absent and did not physically hear the bills to be addressed, they are able to receive proper notice by going to the GA calendar. And so, by the end of the day on September 10, the GA calendar listed the bills (S.118 and S.429) that it would take up the next day. Also on the calendar were those additional bills still waiting for action. Representatives who checked with the calendar would have also seen that a morning session was still scheduled, and it was to begin at 8:30 am.

As Republicans entered the house chamber on the morning of Wednesday the 11th, they noticed that there were barely any Democrats present. In fact, they noticed only 9 Democrats. At that point there were only 51 Republicans. This was a concern since legislators need a quorum to conduct business, and that quorum is 61 members. It was possible that the session would be cancelled. As both Representatives Keith Kidwell and Larry Pittman commented: “None of us, including the Speaker, had any idea when we came in for that 8:30 session on Wednesday morning, that the opportunity to override the budget veto would occur that morning.” They knew that only 51 of their members were present (out of a total of 65), and only a handful of Democrats were there, so there was no way they could have planned to vote on the override with less than 61 of House members present.

But then, as Kidwell recalls, the door opened and 4 more Republicans walked in and 6 more Democrats. That brought the total to 55 Republicans and 15 Democrats, which totaled 70 representatives and a quorum.

At this point, Republicans consulted House Speaker Moore about taking the override vote. The truth is that Republicans had always been looking for an opportunity to pass an override vote when Democrats let their guard down. That opportunity just happened to present itself on September 11th, while Democrats were off doing things they either weren’t permitted to do or otherwise shouldn’t have been doing.

Now, if Democrats were truly enraged and concerned about the override vote, there were two possible courses of action that could have been taken:

(1) The Democrats could have left the house floor, except for 1 member. This way, there would have only been 56 representatives and certainly not enough to conduct official business. The lone Democrat would be left to challenge any vote that the speaker attempted to take (“No Quorum !!”)

(2) Democrats could have coordinated their action and each rose to debate the bill (“I rise to debate the bill”), being allowed 5 minutes each. They could have continued with stalling tactics, all the while desperately attempting to wrangle more fellow Democrats to the house chambers. [As it turns out, as explained later, there were many Democrats in the building, in a session violating a court order, and they knew they could easily be reached and could easily be rounded up].

Instead, as Pittman explains, Rep. Deb Butler chose to begin a very disorderly temper tantrum at acting Speaker David Lewis, contrary to all rules of decency and decorum. Other Democrats went around the chamber, turning on microphone lights of numerous other members who were not there, videoing Rep. Butler, and even joining in with her childish display of yelling at Speaker Lewis so that we could not hear all that he was saying in the attempt to restore order. In the midst of her shouting, Rep. Butler revealed that many of the Democrats (those on the House Redistricting Committee, as it turned out) were together “downstairs right now trying to redraw partisan heavy maps.” So, in effect, Rep. Butler was trying to say that it was unfair of Republicans to take a perfectly legal vote, which was within the rules, while her Democrat colleagues were downstairs violating the court order about redistricting, which clearly prohibited anyone from drawing maps anywhere but on the committee floor, in public view, where that committee was dealing with that matter. In all the commotion, only nine of the Democrats voted, NO of course, and the other six were too busy throwing a hissy fit to vote. Those six were allowed to be recorded as voting “Nay” later on, during the afternoon session.

Rep. Pittman commented similarly on Rep. Butler’s behavior and accusations: “So I guess it was unfair for us to take a vote while they were breaking the law.”

Despite the video coverage of Rep. Butler screaming and admitting that Democrats, in fact, were in a meeting in direct violation of the court order, Democrats had the audacity to try backtracking and to try to cover up her admission. They began spreading the story that house Democrats had been at a 9/11 memorial service, and how dare the Speaker hold a vote when it should have been observing the date out of respect. As it was later revealed, only one Democrat member was actually at a memorial service at that time. To make matters worse for Democrats, House Minority Leader Jackson had confirmed in a press conference that in fact Democrats had been in a redistricting committee meeting planned that morning.

The failure of Democrats to show up at the 8:30 am session was likely the fault of House Minority Leader Darren Jackson. Misinterpreting what Speaker Lewis said the day before about delaying the votes of S.118 and S.429, Rep. Jackson told fellow Democrats that they didn’t need to be at the 8:30 am session. Rep. Jackson later admitted this to Rep. Larry Pittman. He said he felt the debacle was really his fault.

So, as Rep. Pittman explains it: “There you have it. The Democrats have no one to blame but themselves for losing a 55-15 vote to override the Governor’s veto of the budget. Furthermore, there were a number of them who wanted to vote with us who were not there.”

The truth is that there were likely several Democrats who would have voted with Republicans to override Governor Cooper’s veto. After all, pay increases are a great way to earn loyalty from their voters. But as we all know, Cooper has been playing hardball with his Democratic legislators, much the same way that President Obama did in DC with his Affordable Care Act. Cooper had been putting a lot of pressure on them to vote as he demanded. We saw that with the Born Alive Survivors of Abortion Protection Act, where he coerced Democrats to vote against the bill and to uphold his veto. To pressure Democrats into voting his way, Cooper would invite them to the Governor’s Mansion and introduce them to individuals who he said he would endorse and support as their primary opponents. It is not a far stretch to imagine that several Democrats are secretly happy that the over-ride vote went down as it did. They could claim that it was all a mistake (blaming Rep. Jackson), avoid making a very unpopular vote, and still take comfort in the fact that their districts will get the benefits coming to them in the budget.

In the end, Republicans stayed the course, kept their eye on the prize, remained committed to their promises, and were able to override the despicable veto of an outstanding state budget.

House Republicans, we thank you. You make us proud and remind us that we did the right thing by voting for you and sending you to Raleigh to represent us and our values.

 

References:

Dennis Van Berwyn – An Overview of the Override Vote

House Bill 966 (HB966), the “2019 Appropriations Act,” Lexologyhttps://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=d10fff97-5727-492d-969c-5afe1ade9d87

House Bill 966 (HB966), the “2019 Appropriations Act,” ncleg.net https://www.ncleg.gov/BillLookUp/2019/h966   and https://www.ncleg.gov/Sessions/2019/Bills/House/PDF/H966v7.pdf (bill text)

“Conflicts Between Gov. Roy Cooper and the General Assembly of North Carolina,” Ballotpediahttps://ballotpedia.org/Conflicts_between_Gov._Roy_Cooper_and_the_General_Assembly_of_North_Carolina

NC General Assembly website – www.ncleg.net

North Carolina State House, Ballotpediahttps://ballotpedia.org/North_Carolina_House_of_Representatives

North Carolina State Senate, Ballotpediahttps://ballotpedia.org/North_Carolina_State_Senate

 

APPENDIX I: (The NC General Assembly)

A.  Make-Up of the General Assembly

The North Carolina House of Representatives is comprised of 120 members. Currently, Republicans hold a majority, 65-55. They lost 10 seats in the 2018 election. In the 2017-2018 session, Republicans held a supermajority – 75-45. The House Speaker is Rep. Tim Moore.

The North Carolina Senate is comprised of 50 members, of which Republicans hold the majority – 29-21. They lost 6 seats in the 2018 election. The Senate Pro Tempore is Senator Phil Berger.

The Governor has the power to veto any bill that comes to his deck for a signature. If the legislature feels strongly about the bill and is strongly opposed to the reasons the Governor provided to support his veto, both chambers can vote to override the veto. A vote equivalent to 3/5 of those in attendance in the chamber at the time of the vote (provided a quorum is met) is required by each chamber to override the veto.

If the General Assembly does not pass a budget or if the budget bill is vetoed by the Governor (without an override), there is a provision in North Carolina law that allows the previous budget to remain on in place until a new budget is approved. In other words, this stop-gap measure allows the state to run with a budget at all times. This “autopilot” law was enacted in 2016, inspired by a lengthy 2015 standoff between legislative leaders and then-Gov. Pat McCrory. The law creates an automatic continuation budget (ie, the prior budget remains in effect) such that spending remains at current levels.

B,  Background

With the 2018 election, Republicans lost their supermajority in the chamber. Democrats gained 10 seats, reducing the Republican majority from 75-45 to 65-55. [A Republican supermajority simply means that as long as Republicans vote strictly along party lines, they are always able to automatically over-ride a Governor’s veto]. The requirement for over-riding a veto is that a 3/5 majority in each chamber is needed.

North Carolina has a divided government, meaning that government power is shared, by a separation of powers and a system of checks and balances, between the Governor and the executive Council of State (executive branch), the General Assembly (legislative branch), and the state court system (the judicial branch). Sometimes a political party is able to hold a state government “trifecta” which means that the party controls the Governor’s office and a majority of the Council of State positions, a majority in the state house, and a majority in the state senate. Currently, no political party holds a state government trifecta. (The Republican Party held such a trifecta with the 2016 election – Pat McCrory as a Republican Governor and Republican majorities in both chambers of the legislature). As of September 17, 2019, there are 22 Republican trifectas, 14 Democratic trifectas, and 14 divided governments where neither party holds trifecta control. In the 2018 election, Democrats had a net gain of six trifectas and Republicans had a net loss of four trifectas. Prior to that election, there were 26 Republican trifectas (of which North Carolina was one), eight Democratic trifectas, and 16 divided governments.

APPENDIX II: (Promises to NC Teachers)

(1) The pay increases included in the 2019-2021 state budget (HB966) represent the 8th and 9th consecutive pay increases to public school teachers by REPUBLICANS in the NC General Assembly.

(2) When Democrats held control of the NC General Assembly, teachers hardly ever received a pay increase. Even for five years prior to the historic political shake-up in the NC GA (when Republicans gained the majority), teachers never saw a pay increase; their pay remained stagnant.

(3) The average teacher pay in 2017-2018, thanks to the Republicans, was $53,975.00.

(4) Since Republicans have held the majority in the General Assembly, North Carolina has enjoyed the third fastest-rising teacher pay in the country.

(5) North Carolina boasts the second highest teacher pay in the southeast.

(6) The average teacher pay increase since 2013 has been $8,600. The average percentage increase of teacher pay since 2013 has been 19%.

(6) The percentage pay increase for teachers that Governor Cooper vetoed on June 28 (HB966) was 9.5%.

APPENDIX III: (NC Council of State)

There are 10 members of the NC Council of State, 6 of whom are Republican and 4 of whom are Democratic:

Governor – Roy Cooper (Dem)

Lieutenant Governor – Dan Forest (Rep)

Secretary of State – Elaine Marshall (Dem)

Auditor – Beth Wood (Dem)

Treasurer – Dale Folwell (Rep)

Superintendent of Public Instruction – Mark Johnson (Rep)

Attorney General – Josh Stein (Dem)

Commissioner of Agriculture – Steve Troxler (Rep)

Commissioner of Labor – Cherie Berry (Rep)

Commissioner of Insurance – Mike Causey (Rep)

North Carolina retains a unique system of divided executive power. The term “Council of State” harks back to a colonial era provincial council, which was essentially the upper house of the legislature, and then to a Council of State during the American Revolution, which was appointed by the legislature and curtailed the Governor’s power. The North Carolina Constitution of 1776 required “that the Senate and House of Commons, jointly, at their first meeting after each annual election, shall by ballot elect seven persons to be a Council of State for one year, who shall advise the Governor in the execution of his office.” When a new Constitution was adopted in 1868, the name and some of the powers or duties of the Council were retained, but instead of being appointed by the legislature, the members were now executive officers who were elected statewide, serving ex officio on the Council. At first, only the Secretary of State, State Auditor, State Treasurer, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Superintendent of Public Works (an office which only existed briefly and was abolished in 1873) were on the Council of State. The revised state Constitution of 1971, which is currently in effect, provides that the Council of State consists of all the officers established by Article III of the document.

 

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The Desperate Acts of a Dying Political Party

DEMOCRATS - Desperate Democrats

(Photo courtesy of BlazeTV)

by Diane Rufino, August 14, 2019

We cannot deny that the Democrats and those on the left are engaging in some terribly troubling and questionable conduct. And we know exactly why they are pursuing the questionable policies and the questionable direction they are pushing.

The explanation is simple: We are witnessing the desperate acts of a dying party. These desperate acts are designed to help them remain a viable party and to hopefully win elections. What are these desperate acts?

(1)  Democrats and rogue leftist elements of the federal government, serving under President Obama in the FBI and DOJ, committed many criminal acts against the United States when they set out to create a dossier implicating then-candidate Donald Trump in acts amounting to collusion with Russian officials to effect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election and then to use that dossier to launch full-scale surveillance on the Trump campaign using the full resources of the federal government. The goal, of course, was to poison the Trump campaign (which didn’t work) and in the alternative, to provide evidence of crimes to impeach him should he surprisingly happen to win the election. Democrats broke further federal laws by misappropriating classified government documents and memos and leaking them to the press and to other individuals. It was this leaking that ultimately led to the appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel and then a 2-year-long investigation into all things Trump. No other president was forced to face what Trump faced when he stepped into the Oval Office to run our country. First, he faced a very hostile mainstream media (so hostile that one commentator postulated what might happen if he were to be assassinated before taking the oath of office), then he faced a very hostile group of disappointed and maladjusted voters when they marched in Washington DC (the “Woman’s March”), then he faced an almost unanimous deranged Hollywood and Entertainment Industry crowd who spoke, posted, tweeted, or otherwise very publicly expressed their absolute hatred of him and his family, then he faced insane Democrats shouting “racist” at him and “Impeach Him” whenever they could grab a microphone, and then finally he faced the intense scrutiny of the Mueller investigation and the chilling of his actions that naturally results from such scrutiny.

For over two years, Democrats never gave up hope and never lost faith that Trump would be found to have committed actionable Obstruction of Justice, and when the Mueller Report was released and showed there was no such grounds for an indictment on obstruction, they absolutely refused to believe that the Report was correct. They were, and still are, manic disbelievers in the truth about Donald Trump, which is that he did not engage in any collusion with Russia to effect the 2016 presidential election, that he did not engage in any conduct that rises to the level of obstruction of justice, that he is not a racist, and that he is wildly popular and much-loved by the majority of the American people. They still hope to find some reason to impeach him. They will continue to probe every inch and every aspect of his life to find anything – anything at all – that they can use to try to impeach him. .

Democrats have been so completely consumed with hatred for Donald Trump that they have chosen to focus on harassing him rather than serve the general interests of our country. In other words, they chose to put hatred of Donald Trump over love of country.

(2)  Democrats are pushing to abolish the Electoral College. They want presidential elections to be tied to the national popular vote, which is controlled by between 10-15 of the nation’s largest cities. These cities, of course, are concentrated areas of liberal identity groups; in other words, the want the nation’s largest (liberal) cities to pick our American president. The hell to all the other areas of the country, which tend to be conservative and rational.

(3)  Liberal Democrats delivered a threatening brief to the Supreme Court of the United States, instructing them to “straighten up” or else Congress will “restructure” the Court. You can’t make this up, folks. Ignoring the age-old “Separation of Powers” doctrine and the “check and balance” that such a separation provides, liberal Senate Democrats Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Richard Durbin of Illinois, and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York sent an “amicus brief” to the Supreme Court, in support of the state of New York in the current case New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York, accusing the high court of being “sick” and “motivated primarily by politics” and thus being inept at continuing to rule on important cases.

The amicus brief ended with this paragraph, which certainly sums up their position quite well:

“Today, fifty-five percent of Americans believe the Supreme Court is “mainly motivated by politics” (up five percent from last year); fifty-nine percent believe the Court is “too influenced by politics”; and a majority now believes the “Supreme Court should be restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics.” The Supreme Court is not well. And the people know it. Perhaps the Court can heal itself before the public demands it be “restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics.” Particularly on the urgent issue of gun control, a nation desperately needs it to heal.”

The Democrats never complained about political motivation on the Court when it was engaging in the most egregious exercise of judicial activism in cases such as Roe v. Wade (abortion case, 1973), Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education (the bussing case, 1971), Miranda v. Arizona (Miranda warning needed when a criminally accused is taken into custody and before he/she makes any statements, 1966), National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (the Obamacare case, 2012), Obergefell v. Hodges (gay marriage, 2015), and so many others.

(4)  Democrats are threatening a duly-appointed and duly sworn-in conservative Supreme Court justice with possible impeachment. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), who together chair the Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Subcommittee, wrote a letter last Tuesday (Aug. 6) to the head of the National Archives and Records Administration asking the agency to provide Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s records from when he served in the George W. Bush administration as staff secretary and in the White House Counsel’s Office, spanning the years 2001-2006. In that letter, the representatives wrote: “In the coming year, the Supreme Court will again address important matters regarding civil rights, criminal justice, and immigration. The Court may also review certain high-profile cases related to reproductive rights, the separation of powers, and the limits of executive authority — all topics within the jurisdiction of the House Judiciary Committee,’ and they have concerns that Kavanaugh will be able to rule with equal and impartial justice, based on some “inappropriately partisan statements” he made during his confirmation hearing and his “behaving in a demonstrably hostile manner.” We certainly all remember how forcefully and passionately and honestly he pled his case in trying to clear his good name… in front of his family.

Hmmmmmm….. This letter from Nadler and Johnson, this concern of professionalism on Justice Kavanaugh’s part, comes after Senate Democrats spent months launching false accusations against Judge Kavanaugh in an attempt to smear his reputation and block his confirmation to the US Supreme Court. And it also comes immediately after a judicial panel, the Judicial Conference’s Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability, ruled to dismiss ethics complaints filed against Kavanaugh, finding that it did not have authority to review the claims against him because confirmation to the high court excludes him from the ethics rules in question.

Apparently, House Democrats refuse to take NO for an answer, just like they refused to give up on the notion that somehow Trump colluded with Russia to steal the election from Hillary Clinton and just like they refused to give up on the notion that Trump somehow committed obstruction of justice in reaction to a fabricated and contrived allegation. Apparently, House Democrats refuse to give up another fishing expedition to tarnish his good name and threaten him with possible impeachment.

They are seeking to harass and then impeach Justice Kavanaugh for no other reason than he is a strong conservative justice, appointed by their sworn enemy, Donald Trump. Such a brazen and dangerous precedent to set. Again, they have chosen to dismiss the notion of Separation of Powers and have chosen to disregard the respect members of Congress are expected to have for justices of the Supreme Court.

(5)  Democrats are opposed to the enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws and refuse to participate in any solution to address the illegal immigration situation. In fact, when President Trump characterized the situation at the southern border as a “national crisis,” they went ballistic. It was clear, and continues to be clear, that they put the interests and issues of illegals over the rightful concerns of American citizens (and taxpayers). Democrats want – and NEED – illegal immigration in order to build a new basis of Democratic voters. Their radical and un-American rhetoric is being lost on their traditional supporters. Long-time Democrats are finally realizing that the party has not delivered on its promises and even more, that it is taking the country in a very dangerous direction. At the end of the day, many long-time Democrats are realizing that they love their country more than they feel loyalty to the Democratic Party.

(6)  Democrats are pushing, in their states, laws to allow illegals to vote. Again, they are pushing these laws because illegals are their new voting base. Illegals want the free services and the representation that the Democratic Party is willing to give them (at the expense of legal citizens and from their purses).

(7)  Democrats fought strenuously to fight President Trump’s initiative to put a Citizenship question on the national Census Bureau Survey. The census is required by Article I, Section 2 of the US Constitution to be taken every 10 years. Article I, Section 2 states: “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States… according to their respective Numbers… . The actual Enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years” Section 2 of the 14th Amendment amended the section to remove the phrase “and excluding Indians not taxed and three-fifths of all other persons” and to substitute that the respective numbers of the respective states will be determined by “counting the whole number of persons in each State… excluding Indians not taxed…” In other words, the purpose of the census is to determine the numbers of persons in each state in order to determine the number of representatives that each state will have in the House of Representatives. It has always, ALWAYS been assumed that “persons” for the purpose of representation refers only to “legal citizens.” Democrats want all people to be counted (that is, they don’t want to the Census Bureau Survey to distinguish between illegal aliens and legal American citizens) for the state’s representation in DC as a way to increase their number of representatives (or at the very least, to keep their high numbers, as in the case of California, the state making the greatest noise over the citizenship question). They want to inflate their numbers using illegal aliens.

(8)  Democrats talk about “transforming the government of the United States and “transforming the Constitution.” Just recently in New Hampshire, Bernie Sanders promised, if elected, to “transform the government so that it works for everyone, and not just the 1%.” Other Democratic presidential hopefuls have delivered similar promises or are putting out similar rhetoric. This theme goes back to a promise that candidate Barack Obama made when he was running to be president in 2008. He promised to “fundamentally change the United States,” when he was in Columbia, Missouri on October 30, 2008, on the cusp of his historic presidential election. Obama pretty much made good on his promise, although he had hoped to go much further. Luckily, President Trump is steadily un-doing and unraveling the damage that Obama had done. Immigration is one big area, the military is another, our relationship with the many nations of the world is yet another, and healthcare will be the next. Fundamentally changing the United States means that those systems and institutions providing the foundations for our country and our society must be changed or substituted or abolished. Religion has already been attacked; national hostility to religion continues to grow in order to replace morality and biology with the LGBT and transgender agenda. The Constitution defines our government system and for years, we watched as a liberal majority Court has “transformed” the meaning of the document through a soft interpretation of a “living, breathing document.” Hard interpretations are those made by an analysis of a constitution that has a clearly defined meaning, unchanging in time, with explanations and instructions provided by those who wrote, ratified, and engaged in the debate that led to its ratification and adoption. Democrats believe in soft interpretations; they believe that Article V (outlining the only legal way to amend the Constitution, which is the amendment process) is essentially useless and that the Constitution can be amended by men in black robes from the Supreme Court bench who view it as a “living, breathing document,” being capable of being transformed by courts to bring it in line with changing social times.

(9)  Despite the obvious crises that plague our country – illegal immigration, drug smuggling and drug trafficking, human trafficking, opioid overdoses, morbid obesity, an intolerant millennial population, Antifa and other violent leftist protest groups, mass shootings, an under-educated general population that lacks requisite speech, reading, writing, and math skills, too many people on government assistance and not contributing to society, and fear and crime, to name a few – Democrats assert that the real crises in the country are racism and white supremacy. Every time a conservative opens his or her mouth, and especially when President Trump opens his mouth, Democrats shout “RACIST!” Every time a conservative speaks out against illegal immigration, including President Trump, Democrats should “WHITE SUPREMACY!” Democrats love to assert that it is Donald Trump’s rhetoric that is causing division, anger, frustration, hatred, and violence in this country, when in fact, it is the rhetoric of the Democrats that is causing all of those things.

Which party and which party’s rhetoric has been responsible for the unprovoked killing and other violent attacks on innocent police officers? It is the Democratic Party. Which party and which party’s rhetoric has been responsible for the attacks, the harassment, and the threats against ICE agents?   It is the Democratic Party. Members of the Democratic Party explicitly and expressly encourage people to harass and otherwise do harm to ICE agents and its facilities. Which party and which party’s rhetoric has been responsible for the savage beating, the bullying, the threats, the assaults, and the destruction of personal property of those who hold different political views? It is the Democratic Party that has not only created Antifa and other such homegrown terrorist groups, but it constantly encourages them to shut down the speech and the venues of conservatives. The members of which party have called on people to “show up wherever we have to show up. And if you see anybody from [Trump’s] Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere” ? It is the Democratic Party that has called on its party members to physically harass Republicans and their families. Which party refers to the opposing party using the most disgusting and vile of terms, comparing them to body parts, and telling them they should be doing things with certain body parts or they should be raped ? It is the Democratic Party, and in particular members of the Hollywood and Entertainment industry. They can’t help but act uncivilized.

In short, modern-day Democrats are a group of un-hinged and un-American politicians and voters that despise our American system, despise President Donald Trump and all those who support him, despise the wealthy, despise our Constitution, despise our Founding Fathers, despise our Rule of Law, and despise deeply what our country has historically stood for. They believe that representation in the federal government is not about serving the American people as a whole and to meaningfully (and constitutionally) address our nation’s problems but rather it’s about frustrating President Trump, harassing him and his family every single day and for every single reason, about opposing Republicans, about fomenting hatred and division among identity groups, about ignoring the immigration, drug, and human trafficking crisis stemming from our southern border, about preventing the enforcement of our immigration laws and encouraging and increasing illegal immigration, and about advancing their progressive agenda for political, social, and government change.

Ask yourself this: A party that is so readily willing to ignore our Rule of Law, to ignore and disregard the US Constitution, to transform the Constitution to meet the party’s political needs, to allow for the invasion of our country by aliens for the sole purpose of quickly changing the body politic in order to gain the votes it needs to stay in power, to put the interests of illegal aliens before the rightful concerns and expectations of American citizens is a party that will readily turn its back on the people just as soon as it consolidates its political power.

Desperation is a dangerous thing.

 

Reference:

Amicus Brief submitted to the Supreme Court from US Senate Democrats, in furtherance of the case New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York, New York https://www.whitehouse.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/New%20York%20Rifle%20&%20Pistol%20Association%20v.%20New%20York%20(Whitehouse%20amicus%20FINAL).pdf

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More Proof that the Government is Altering Our History of the Civil War

FORT SUMTER & SLAVERY

Based on the article “Revisionism” by Andrew P. Calhoun, with an introduction by Diane Rufino

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love history and how much time I spend reading and researching historical events. I don’t want to read some liberal historian’s take on history or some progressive professor’s view of history. I want to know exactly what happened, why it happened, and the conditions, the views, the cultural norms, the customs that defined the particular time period. I look to primary documents and recordings/documentation at the time of the event, by those who were involved, who were affected, or who were witnesses.

For example, I know for a fact that the Civil War (the War of Northern Aggression; aka, the War to Prevent Southern Independence; aka, the War Between the States) was NOT started over slavery and Lincoln did not initiate hostilities with the South or invade the South in order to subjugate those states back into the Union for the purpose of abolishing slavery. Addressing slavery only became a war measure later in the war when the North realized it was losing and needed to re-energize its effort and to prevent any European powers from entering the war on the side of the South (which they were likely to do). Yet, when my husband and I visited Fort Sumter in Charleston two summers ago, I was stunned to see that the museum focused primarily on slavery and its role in the starting the war, as well as the glorification of Abraham Lincoln – the president who bravely “saved the Union.” In the book store, were there any books on why the South chose to secede? NO. Were there any books on the bravery of Jefferson Davis in his decision to head the Confederate States and to defend the principles of the Declaration of Independence? NO. Were there any books on General Robert E. Lee and his bravery in deciding to defend the rights of his state and the new union Virginia had joined rather than in subserviently going along with Lincoln’s scheme to force the southern states back into the union with the northern states? NO. Were there books on slavery? YES. Almost all the books were about slavery or about particular slaves.

I asked the woman who looked to be in charge of the museum and asked why the history presented was so clearly skewed, so biased against the South, and so historically inaccurate. She told me that the museum was run by the US Parks Service and out of the hands of South Carolina or Charleston.

There it was – government indoctrination…. a dishonest government trying to convince Americans, especially our youth and un-informed adults, that the North had only the most noble reasons for pursuing war against the South and that the South was evil and seceded for the sole purpose of protecting and preserving slavery. Of course, I should have expected this from our government. The victors get to tell the story. They get to tell the story that supports their action and conduct (including all the unconstitutional and tyrannical government action) while demonizing those they defeated.

Here is an article I found by the Abbeville Institute that explains WHY our Civil War sites are pushing the slavery narrative:

REVISIONISM, by Andrew P. Calhoun, Aug. 12, 2019 [https://www.abbevilleinstitute.org/blog/revisionism/]

Does anyone remember United States Congressman Jesse L. Jackson, Jr.? I mean, for something other than being the son of The Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. and for being sentenced to 30 months in jail for violating federal campaign finance laws.

Well, I do. It was Jackson, Jr who, in 1999, amended an appropriation bill for the Department of Interior. The language in his amendment required that the National Park Service (NPS) include mention of the ”unique role that slavery played in the cause of the (civil) war” in all their Battlefield Park presentations. Jackson’s amendment reasoned that the NPS battlefield tours were long on battle history, but short on the history of the cause of the war. He also concluded that African-American attendance at the Parks was sparse because the history made them feel uncomfortable. But, alas, there is no constitutional right to feel comfortable.

With the passage of this amended bill, the United States Government opened a historical Pandora’s Box and inserted itself into the arena of revisionism. The NPS initiated a program at their Battlefield Parks that presented the war as a fight to end slavery rather than a war between two regions of the country that were hotly divided politically and economically. By mandating their personnel promote slavery as the reason for the war, the NPS ignored a century and a half of irrefutable historical facts to the contrary.

It is well documented that the seeds for the War Between the States were sown in the 1820’s and 1830’s when Northern industrial capitalism began disrupting Southern agricultural capitalism through the imposition of discriminatory taxes and tariffs. A series of tariffs on imported goods almost led to Southern secession, and war, after the Tariff of Abomination was passed in 1828 followed by the Force Bill in 1833. Other tariffs ensued and little, or none, of the revenue generated by these tariffs ever returned to the South in the form of investment or infrastructure. By late 1860 the South had enough and South Carolina led the secession movement.

In his March 4, 1861 Inaugural Address, President Abraham Lincoln expressly declared that he proposed no interference with slavery in the States. Two days earlier, the Corwin Amendment was put forward to change the United States Constitution so as to shield “domestic institutions” in the states from any further constitutional amendment process and from abolition or interference by Congress. Although the Corwin Amendment did not explicitly mention slavery, it was designed to protect slavery from federal power. Congress proposed the Corwin Amendment on March 2, 1861, but it was not ratified by the requisite number of states because of the outbreak of the war. If slavery was the sole cause of the war, why didn’t the Northern Congress pass a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery instead of one that would protect it forever.

Four days after the first major battle of the War Between the States, the Union Congress enacted a resolution on July 25, 1861, known as the War Aims Act. It declared that the War would be fought by the North only to preserve the Union and not to abolish the South’s “peculiar institution” of slavery. Therefore, Lincoln’s own words and the actions of his government confirm slavery was not the cause of the war.

Two years after the war started, Lincoln issued his 1863 Emancipation Proclamation to announce the freeing of slaves in the North and in Union occupied areas of the South. This was a war measure designed to cause panic in the ranks of the Confederate soldiers hoping they would desert and return to their homes and farms fearing a slave rebellion. The Confederacy was not subject to Union law, a slave rebellion never materialized, and the Proclamation freed very few slaves.

Considering the foregoing, it should have been historically difficult for the NPS to proclaim that it was slavery that divided the North and South and caused a war. Nevertheless, the NPS took that position and promoted a misguided storyline whereby the North equaled good and the South equaled bad despite the fact slavery had legally existed in both regions of the country for almost 200 years by the time of the war.

To avoid potential budgetary conflicts, the NPS quickly moved forward with Jackson’s strong arm plan to revise the Battlefield Parks’ history lessons. Afterward, many social justice groups started their own versions of the “North/good—South/bad” narrative. Before long, all things Southern (in general) and all things Confederate (in particular) were attacked as racist and offensive symbols, or “reminders” of slavery. Monuments were vandalized or taken down, artwork removed, streets renamed, and some groups even suggested that certain cities be renamed. History and facts aside, the social justice warriors (SJW) forged ahead with their campaign to expunge these “reminders.” However, the reality is that one must actually experience something in order to be reminded of it and, obviously, none of today’s SJW have ever experienced slavery.

These symbols are lifeless objects that have no ability to offend or remind. People must be taught what to think about them. Through their constant moral posturing, SJW are instructing their followers how to interpret these symbols This trend continues today and is a growing social justice cancer that has now morphed into “presentism” whereby historic events of the past are deceitfully judged by current social ideologies.

In the two short decades since Jackson engineered the federal government’s foray into historical revisionism, social justice warriors have intensified their shameless politically correct efforts to transform our past and eradicate Southern history. As 18th century British statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke said: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” It is long past time to push back, resist those efforts, and reestablish that Southern history is American history.

Oh yes, I remember Jesse Jackson, Jr.

 

***  Please check out the ABBEVILLE INSTITUTE BLOG for the outstanding articles their members and contributors write, as well as for the invaluable history lessons it teaches.  The legacy of the South will live on only as long as successive generations learn and then teach that truthful legacy.   The Abbeville Institute blog – https://www.abbevilleinstitute.org/blog/ 

 

Reference:

Andrew P. Calhoun, “Revisionism,” Abbeville Institute,” August 12, 2019. Referenced at: https://www.abbevilleinstitute.org/blog/revisionism/

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Reject the Progressive Agenda! The Truth is that Strong Traditional Families Build Strong and Healthy Communities

FAMILY - Strong Families Build Strong Communities

by Diane Rufino, July 31, 2019

It is easier to raise strong children than to repair broken men and women. And it’s a whole lot less expensive on society and on our pocketbooks as well.   (modified quote from Frederick Douglass)

The most important job we have, and our most important contribution to society is to devote ourselves to our families, to keep then strong, and to raise our children well, with values and education so that that they will go on to contribute productively to their community and then serve as role models themselves for the next generation.

Nothing else is as important to our society.

Over the years, we’ve seen this critical responsibility become eroded to make way for the “new progressive era” values – the breakdown of the nuclear family, single parenthood, same-sex parenting (denying the child or children they raise the benefit of learning key life lessons and role-modeling lessons from both sexes), alternative lifestyles, a genderless society, having children for the wrong reasons (for a welfare check) and killing children for the wrong reasons (the pregnancy is inconvenient; having a baby would be inconvenient), parents leaving the job of raising their children to the public schools and to government (the same institutions that reject religion in favor of immorality, that embrace progressive social change over conservative social values/norms, and that has no concern for effective outcomes), rejection of religious values and religious teachings, demonization of religious values and teachings, a focus on wealth distribution rather than good old fashion career-planning, learning important skills, ingenuity, hard-work, and risk-taking in the marketplace, the commonplace of recreational drugs, the lowering of standards in our school systems, the epidemic of teens who “graduated” from high school but are still not meaningfully competent in reading or writing or capable of doing simple math, etc.

Government is making it harder and harder and harder and harder for our young adults to be able to make the decisions and the plans to assume their important roles in society – to settle down, to buy a home, and then to have and raise good and productive children. Government fights them at every step – higher college costs, higher taxes, too much regulation in the marketplace, too much regulation over property, high daycare costs, and then the insidious indoctrination in the public school system.

Our right to raise our children according to OUR values and not government’s values (or minority group values) is worth fighting for. The health and vitality of our communities are worth fighting for. We only get one chance to raise our children, to invest in our legacy…. We need to do it right and we need to get government out of the way so we can do it right.

I am not taking a position opposing alternative lifestyles or denying anyone their rights to do what they want (within the confines of our laws); I’m just in favor of government policy putting in place laws and policies that favor conduct that furthers what our society needs most – strong families and well-raised children.

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Trump Supporters Not Treated Fairly in Recent USA TODAY Article

TRUMP and OMAR (Courtesy of Second Nexus)

(Photo courtesy of Second Nexus)

by Diane Rufino, July 31, 2019

This past Saturday I met with a reporter with USA TODAY for an interview regarding the Trump Rally on July 17 in Greenville “and it’s aftermath.” This reporter traveled from DC to Greenville to do this story. We spoke for at least an hour and a half about the rally, about the diversity in age of those in attendance at the rally, about Donald Trump, about Greenville, about North Carolina, about North Carolina values, about North Carolina history, about the Tea Party movement and its actual and perceived purpose, about the Eastern NC Tea Party in general, about Tea Party principles, about the left’s campaign to smear anyone who holds a different viewpoint by claiming “racism” or “racist,” about race relations in Greenville, about our mayor P.J. Connolly and his incredible energy and commitment to the town, and of course, about the chant (“Send Her Back”) that has now become the left’s new claim of “racism” from Trump and his supporters.

I was warned by probably every single person I know not to meet with USA TODAY because the leftist paper “will no doubt twist what you say” and “end up doing a hatchet job on you.” Yet I chose to meet with the reporter anyway. I thought that, being that I had actually attended the rally, had in fact attended about 5 or 6, have grown up being familiar with Trump (in New Jersey and New York, where I grew up and then went to grad school, respectively), had written an article on the rally, and have a history of strongly defending the Tea Party movement and Tea Partiers, I would surely be able to help explain the chant, help explain the support for President Trump, and effectively counter the allegations from the left about the chant being racist, about Trump supporters being racist, and about the chant now dividing our community.

And to be honest, all said and done, when I left the interview, I was confident I had accomplished what I set out to do. The reporter seemed open to what I had to say.

But then the article came out yesterday – “NC City Wrestles With Echoes of ‘Send Her Back’” (Link: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2019/07/29/send-her-back-chants-trump-rally-open-wounds-greenville-nc/1828979001/ ]

I think Beth Capillary, president of the Republican Women of Pitt County said it best when she told me: “I was disappointed in what they chose to print from all you discussed with her. She tried to make us look mean-spirited. I never trust the main-stream media. At a time when we need healing and honest reporting, we get articles like this. I fear the mainstream media is going to frame the whole 2020 election in terms of race and racism. But to be fair, some of the comments she printed from you were good.”

I have serious criticisms and disappointments with the article and I need to address them:

(1)  I was interviewed for about an hour and a half and the snippets she used in the article were not indicative or representative of my answers or explanations. I feel she sabotaged me to a good extent in that respect.

(2)  I knew the article would focus more on the views of the left (and indeed I was warned about that) and I was prepared for it. It’s just a shame that the article focused more on the views of those who do NOT support the president and those who were NOT present at the rally than on those who attended the rally and could speak more accurately and correctly to the chant. Of all the people interviewed and referenced in the article, only two actually attended the rally – myself and Greenville Mayor P.J. Connolly. Mayor Connolly, unlike myself, claimed he didn’t even hear the chant. The others interviewed and emphasized in the article are not supporters of President Trump and did not attend the rally (no surprise). Samar Badwan, the Muslim woman who heads Greenville’s Human Relations Council, for example, said she chose not to join the protest of Trump’s rally but “knew it wasn’t going to be pretty.” Sounds like she has already written Trump off as being someone who is hostile to her community’s interests or her party’s platform. This seems to beg the question – Who is the real hater ?

If I were writing the article, I would have focused on the first-hand accounts of those who actually attended the rally and the views of those supporting the president and then asked those who do not support the president, those who may feel offended by the chant, and those who didn’t attend (thereby relying on secondhand soundbites and the mainstream media’s account of the chant) to respond and comment. The reporter, in this case, chose to approach the article from the opposite point of view.

The article gave in to the “version” of the rally and of the chant that the left (probably fueled by the Democratic Party, Democratic party leaders, and the mainstream media) has come up with – which always, always, always involves some sort of allegation of racism. By giving into the version that the left has decided to promote, USA TODAY has decided to intentionally push a false narrative, to help tarnish Greenville, NC, to create division in our ordinarily close-knit town, and to help the left continue to frame the 2020 election in terms of race and perceived racism from the right.

One specific question asked of me was: “Do you think the chant and its aftermath is dividing the community?”  My answer was clear: “I think the left’s characterization of the chant and the constant promoting of that version by the mainstream media is what is dividing the community – and intentionally so.”

(3)  The article cites a comment I made regarding Mayor Connolly’s statement that he was extremely disappointed and disheartened by hate-filled calls and emails he had received after the rally (including from those who said they would never visit his city). First of all, what I was told about Mayor Connolly was quite different than what was printed. I was told that he said he didn’t hear the chant but then chose to condemn the chant, saying that “hate will never have a place in our community.” According to the account I was told, it sounded like Mayor Connolly didn’t care what the audience meant by the chant and didn’t care to support the more innocent version of the chant but rather immediately caved in to the characterization of that chant by the left. It sounded like he chose to believe it must have been racist (even though he wasn’t actually paying attention during that part of the rally). I did however, follow up with the reporter by explaining in great detail that Mayor Connolly is the most excellent mayor we’ve ever had, telling her all the things he is supporting, explaining his strong ties to the community and his love and loyalty to Greenville. None of that was included in the article.

(4)  The gist of the article was that the chant defined the rally and the crowd who was there to support Trump and it was divisive, mean-spirited, and racist. But none of that is true. The truth is that only a small minority of those in attendance actually chanted “Send Her Home.” The entire section of the arena where I sat (off to the side of the stage), which was a large section, sat quietly and did not engage in the chant. My husband and I looked around and took note of that. In fact, it may even explain why Major Connolly claimed he didn’t hear it. I saw him at the rally (with his wife and small children) and he was having a great time. He was smiling, laughing, and conversing with friends and acquaintances he ran into. The chant was in response to comments by President Trump. He simply quoted her words and especially several of the vile comments she made attacking our country, its policies, its greatest friend and ally in the Middle East (Israel) and defending terrorist organizations and terrorists in particular. I don’t think most people at the rally thought the crowd’s reaction was appropriate response to the incessant anti-American rage that has been spewing from the mouth of Rep. Omar, which is what President Trump reminded the crowd.

Could the chant have been phrased differently? Probably so. But chants are spontaneous, often originating from a single member of the audience and then picked up by those around him or her. As one commentator noted: “It was a political rally – not a church service.” But here is another question: Was Rep. Omar using the platform given to her as a US Congresswoman to comment on US policy from a representative of the US point of view or from a Somalian and radical Islamic point of view? Was she misusing her platform to serve her own ideological motives? Trump’s comments, in a sense, were that if Rep. Omar hates this country so much and is so motivated to berate it at every chance she gets, why is she even here, (“America, Love It or Leave It”). It was not racist and certainly was not meant to suggest that Trump strip a US citizen of her citizenship and send her back to her country of origin. The people who support Trump are extremely patriotic and do not take kindly to people, ESPECIALLY THOSE IN GOVERNMENT, who despise our country and speak badly of her. Anyway, I am upset that the article’s focus was on how the chant reflects badly on Greenville and on Trump supporters instead of offering the truthful explanation of the chant and instead of explaining that our gripe is in the offensive speech that comes out of Omar’s mouth and not in the fact that it is coming out of a Muslim woman’s mouth. Such is the evil-intentioned leftist media.

There is a problem in this country and it’s a serious one. Those on the left, in good part, are incapable of separating message and speech from the color or nationality of the person speaking it. If someone doesn’t agree with the speech spoken by a Muslim woman, it’s because that person is clearly racist against Muslims. Ir someone doesn’t agree with the message spoken by an African-American woman, it’s clearly because that person is racist against people of color. It can never be that the reason those on right disagree with someone on the opposite side of the political spectrum is simply because of the content of the speech. In the minds of those on the left, there must always, always be a more sinister explanation. There must always be some outright or implied racism. There must be some actual or latent racism on the part of the conservative, on the part of the conservative white person. We on the right are so very tired of racism, etc being imputed on us in everything we do, everything we say, and everything we stand for. Racism is simply not there and we’re tired of the manufactured hatred. Clearly, the hatred is coming from the left. We saw how racism is pervasive on the left – we’ve seen it for many years now. When African-American lawyers for the woman who claimed several Duke lacrosse players raped her (a totally false allegation and a HUGE miscarriage of justice, yet she was not punished) imputed guilt on the lacrosse players in the media by claiming: “We all know white boys can’t help themselves around black women,” there was no outrage in the media or in the country over that horribly racist and reckless statement. When Al Sharpton used racial stereotypes against 4 white boys to defend Tawana Brawley (who again, made the totally false allegation that the 4 white boys attacked her), he condemned whites as generally being incapable of not being racist. When President Obama, then Michelle Obama, and then Hillary Clinton publicly stated that white people are incapable of not being inherently racist (even if its subconsciously), no one showed any outrage at the outright racist comment. No one dared to stick up for the white person or for the conservative. To do so would itself have been labeled as “racist.” There has been a steady attack against white culture and a steady condemnation of whites and of conservatives as being inherent racist probably beginning in the 80’s but definitely in the 90’s. I imagine it was part of an intentional progressive agenda to divide our country along racial lines in order to further political goals and social policies. One should always keep in mind that law schools these days are not simply “law schools” but centers for “social justice.” As many lawyers will comment, some of these schools and some of these liberal law professors see racial and social injustice where it doesn’t exist. One such example is in classroom management and school policies to address infractions of the school code, incidents of sexual abuse and violence, and breaking the law or other criminal offenses (such as drug offenses, theft, etc) which social justice warriors now claim are intentionally discriminatory to African-Americans.

There is not a single conservative person that I know here in North Carolina or from back home in New Jersey who has any racist intentions or any racial animus. The people I know and associate with are inclusive, welcoming, color-blind, and tolerant. What we are NOT are tolerant of those who hate our country, who push for policies to erode our freedoms, who condemn policies that keep us safe and secure, or who disparage it for no apparent reason than our country’s values don’t coincide with radical religious values or because our country doesn’t enough for those who sure non-citizens or because our country still hasn’t done enough to make sure that everyone shares in the new definition of “equality” which means that everyone is entitled to “equal outcomes” and that certain people are automatically entitled to the wealth and property of others. We love our country and we love what she stands for. We are proud that she has helped to advance freedom and independence in the world and that she has wrestled countries and peoples from genocidal and oppressive regimes. We are proud that for the most part (except for weak presidents like Carter and Obama and even Clinton, internationally), our country has offered hope to those around the world who are repressed and targeted with violence. This is not to be confused with a policy to allow our border to remain open to all those who want to relocate here, which is an idiotic policy to say the least. Conservatives are principled; they are not racist. There is a big difference. The left just can’t seem to grasp that concept.

I know it isn’t always easy being a reporter and finding a way to report objectively and fairly on an event or an issue, but I will always hold out for honesty and integrity and will expect the same from others. Honest reporting on an event should never be sacrificed in order to advance or promote a political agenda. The first is the reason for the expansive protection given the press by the First Amendment; the latter is not.

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