North Carolina God Damn!
You might recall that expert report a few years back which determined North Carolina's democratic institutions are a mess, roughly on a par with those in Cuba, Indonesia, or Sierra Leone, and not quite as good as Rwanda. Republicans in the North Carolina House of Representatives apparently think the state needs to slide down a few ranks, so today they pulled a funny little trick to pass an override of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's veto of the state budget. All they had to do was tell Democrats that no votes would be taken in the morning session, and then, in the half-empty chamber, the Rs forced a vote on the budget override, which passed 55-9, HA! HA!
Gov. Cooper had vetoed the budget bill in June because it didn't include funding to expand Medicaid, and also because it skimped on pay raises for teachers while giving tax cuts to corporations.
Oh, and for an extra bit of awful, many of the Democrats were reportedly out attending 9/11 memorials, although the Associated Press notes "it wasn't immediately clear how many lawmakers may have been attending memorials." Look, if they're too wrapped up in silly distractions, that's on them!
Following the vote, Democrats condemned the outrageous fuckery, noting that none of their leadership had been present in the House, and that Republican state Rep. David Lewis had told state Democratic Leader Darren Jackson there wouldn't be any votes taken Wednesday morning. With that assurance, Jackson had told his caucus they didn't need to attend the morning session. And then came the switcheroo!
Jackson told the Raleigh News & Observer, that when a person with power says something will or won't happen, you tend to trust them. Lewis is the chair of the House Rules, Calendar and Operations committee, so that sounds like a guy with power to us!
"If we can't trust each other, this place will fall apart, it's just too big an entity to run, too many processes to require for everything to be in writing," Jackson said [...]
Jackson said he wants Lewis to recall the veto vote before it goes to the Senate, which is a simple majority vote.
Haw-haw, you wish, loser!
As proof that everything was just ducky and that no rats had been fucked, Republican Speaker Tim Moore, who had called the vote immediately after the day's session began, made a great show of pointing out that there had been no announcement on the floor that there'd be no voting, and even got the House's clerk to check the minutes to prove it. News & Observer reporter Lauren Horsch said on Twitter that, regardless of any announcement, "several reporters were told on background that no votes would be taken. So this was a shock to us as well."
The bullshit "we never promised you a memorial garden" excuse didn't seem to satisfy the few Democrats who were on the floor when the vote was suddenly called. State Rep. Deb Butler objected angrily, "This is a travesty of the process and you know it." No matter! With just 64 members present, the Rs pushed through the budget veto override, and an override of a second, unrelated veto, too, because they were there, weren't they? Then they voted to recess, and the Rs went off to a closed caucus meeting where we imagine a little girl showed them how to hold a football and yank it away at the last moment, with hilarious results.
Butler was livid, shouting, "How dare you Mr. Speaker? [...] The trickery that is being evidenced this morning is tantamount to a criminal offense." Here's video of part of the session, with Butler demanding justice and Republicans owning the libs:
Rep. Deb Butler speaks out against veto override by NC House Republicans www.youtube.com
Moore had Butler's microphone turned off, that'll learn her! Butler also said she was threatened with arrest; other Democratic lawmakers circled around her to prevent that.
In an editorial today, the News & Observer said North Carolina Republicans "are beyond shame" and called the episode a "stunning display of contempt for democracy." The editorial called on the Senate -- which, again, can override the governor's veto with a simple majority, requiring only a single Democrat to join the Rs (if everyone shows up) -- to reject the bill. As if that's likely to happen.
Senate leader Phil Berger was no doubt aware of Moore's plan to end run Democratic opposition. It's a grim reality that there are likely no Senate Republicans who — however they may feel about the budget — would turn away from participating in this act of subterfuge. In a sense, the budget that comes before them to be made into law is the legislative equivalent of stolen goods. So what, they'll figure, our side stole it; Democrats shouldn't have been so trusting. Tough.
But this isn't a case simply of hardball politics and sly legislative maneuvering. This is a case of breaking faith with the people of North Carolina and with all who strove and sacrificed over generations to protect and advance North Carolina's political system as one based on a true representation of the people's will, a true democracy.
Yeah, but this is a republic, not a democracy, and if you did the people's will, the people might choose Democrats. So the illegally gerrymandered Republican majority has to make sure that shit won't happen. The editorial noted that now the state has "an illegitimate majority acting in an unethical way."
In other words, it's Republican politics as usual.
Thank goodness there's an election in 2020. If Democrats can manage to get something like 95 percent of the vote, they might even overcome the gerrymander enough to squeak out a bare majority in the state lege.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.