Thwarting dirty politics

North Carolina Democrat legislators seem to forget they are the minority when the General Assembly is in session, and even express incredulity when Republicans use super-majority votes in representing the will of their constituents.

Of course, it never happened when the roles were reversed! But it was particularly amusing to watch Democrats try to protest when lawmakers returned to Raleigh July 24 to take up two timely bills — a House bill on wording Constitutional amendments on the November ballot, and a Senate bill essentially to stop a wholly inappropriate ploy by state Supreme Court candidate Chris Anglin.

The House bill was in response to a battle over semantics in presenting six amendments to voters this November. It revolved around a typical presumption among Democrats that their constituents are not very smart and need dumbed-down wording to understand the purpose of the amendments. These are the same Democrats who expect to sell higher taxes as a way to spur economic growth.

However, Senate Bill 3 represents a home run by Republicans lawmakers. Passage of the bill thwarts Anglin from appearing on the ballot as a RINO (Republican in name only).

Carolina Journal offered some key insights into how the Stop Anglin story played out, one of which was the factual point that Republicans created the scenario whereby Anglin suddenly became a Republican.

Republican legislators canceled this year’s judicial primaries. They permitted no other process for the major parties to identify the candidate of their choice on the ballot. … Acting roughly 105 days before the election, the General Assembly clearly rewrote election rules in the middle of the process.

Yet no leading Democrat has stepped forward to disparage the chicanery on his side of the political aisle. References to Anglin have feigned ignorance about partisan political factors motivating either the candidate or his backers. It would have been easy for a (Democrat) legislator to distance himself from the Anglin team’s questionable conduct.

On the last possible day in June, Anglin flipped his voter registration to Republican and filed for the Supreme Court race. The Senate bill eliminates political affiliation next to Anglin’s name on the ballot by specifying that any candidate (for any office) may not realign with a different political party if filing 90 days or less.

It’s clear,” writes Mitch Kokai for the Journal, “to any fair-minded observer that — regardless of Anglin’s original intent — elements within the Democratic Party have latched onto Anglin’s candidacy as a tool to help blunt Barbara Jackson’s vote among Republican voters. Their ultimate goal is to help ensure (Democrat Anita) Earls’ victory.”

Far better for NC Republicans to absorb baseless criticism for “changing the rules” in the middle of the game than to have allowed Anglin to masquerade as a Jackson alternative.

Doer-in-Chief

While corrupt media outlets such as CNN promote their “White House in crisis” narratives 24/7, basking in the Mueller “investigation”, cheering Jared Kushner’s reduced security clearance status and Hope Hicks’ resignation, and staging town halls to exploit grieving and angry high school students from Parkland, Fla., Heritage Foundation staffers have been following an undeniable trend.

Working with Congress when possible (on tax cuts, principally), or through regulatory guidance, the Trump administration “had an extraordinarily successful first year.” That is the assessment of the Foundation’s Thomas Binion, director of congressional and executive branch relations.

The Heritage Foundation, a public policy think tank with a well-deserved reputation for holding politicians accountable, sets a high bar for incoming Presidents. It is known as the “Mandate for Leadership”, and it debuted in 1981 when Ronald Reagan launched his two-term presidency.

The Trump mandate is comprised of 334 unique policy recommendations, nearly two-thirds of which (64%) already have been adopted by Trump and his administration. Reports The Washington Examiner:

At this stage of his presidency, Reagan had completed 49 percent of the Heritage policy recommendations. “We’re blown away,” Binion said in an interview. Trump, he said, “is very active, very conservative, and very effective.”

While not all of the adopted policies received the fanfare of across-the-board tax cuts, or the successful nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court of the United States, they are squarely on Heritage Foundation’s radar. These are the major achievements, according to the Foundation:

  • Leaving the Paris Climate Accord: In August 2017, Trump announced the U.S. was ending its funding and membership in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
  • Repealing Net Neutrality: In December 2017, Trump’s Federal Communications Commission chairman proposed ending the 2015 network neutrality rules.
  • Reshaping National Monuments: Heritage’s recommendation to prohibit Land Acquisition (Cap and Reduce the Size of the Federal Estate) was adopted by Trump when he issued two executive orders effectively shrinking the size of national monuments in Utah.
  • Reinstating the Mexico City Policy: This executive order prevents taxpayer money from funding international groups involved in abortion and ending funding to the United Nations Population fund. On Jan. 23, 2017, in his first pro-life action, Trump signed an executive order today reinstating the Mexico City Policy.
  • Increasing Military Spending: Trump’s budget calls for a $54 billion increase in military spending to improve capacity, capability, and readiness of America’s armed forces.
  • Reforming Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF):The Trump administration adopted and is in favor of strengthening existing work requirements in order to receive benefits.
  • Allowing Development of Natural Resources: The Trump administration opened off-shore drilling and on federal lands. Executive Order 13783 directed Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to commence federal land coal leasing activities.
  • Reforming Government Agencies: Trump tasked each of his Cabinet secretaries to prepare detailed plans on how they propose to reduce the scope and size of their respective departments while streamlining services and ensuring each department runs more efficiently and handles tax dollars appropriately.
  • Withdrawing from UNESCO: In October 2017, Trump announced he was putting an end to U.S. membership in the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

These are but a few examples of what former Trump deputy assistant and strategist Sebastian Gorka characterizes as the Trump “revolution” playing out before our eyes. If Republicans will continue to embrace Trump’s ambitions to steamroll reform through Congress and deliver for his supporters, Gorka forecasts a dismal November 2018 for Democrats in the mid-term elections. Writing for The Hill, Gorka opines:

If Republicans understand just how revolutionary and system-smashing an event like the election of Trump was, and they hitch their future to his brand of anti-establishment leadership, there will be no hope for the Democrats come November.

Donald Trump has demonstrated a remarkable capacity to learn at the wheel. Now the question is, have the professional politicians learned and internalized just how revolutionary the times we are living in actually are?

 

Courting judicial overreach

North Carolina is one of six states facing uncertainty as to how federal court influence could change traditional procedures through which district maps — Congressional and state legislative — are drawn or re-drawn.

The outlook for 2018 is that no significant upheaval looms in our state, owed to the U.S. Supreme Court’s restraint in weighing in on lawsuits related to map redrawing with a mid-term election approaching. Yet, in three other states, SCOTUS rulings are expected to complicate voting dynamics in the short term.

This is but the calm before the storm. Writes NPR’s Domenico Montanaro: “By June, the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to decide three major redistricting cases — out of Wisconsin, Maryland and Texas — that will lay some of the foundation for what the maps will look like, not just this year, but after the 2020 census that could affect control of Congress for the next decade.”

Democrats are convinced that activist judges can help them dominate gerrymandering into perpetuity. Courts are increasingly seen as willing policymakers by the left.

The Wall Street Journal, in a February 21 editorial, forecasts the ominous trend:

While the U.S. Supreme Court has held that partisan gerrymanders may violate the U.S. Constitution, it has been unable to articulate a precise legal standard. Democrats are now trying to tempt the Supreme Court into intervening in the intrinsically political redistricting process with social-science methodology that purportedly measures proper representation.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently not only was tempted, but defiantly struck down, with a 5-2 liberal majority, a Congressional map drawn by that state’s GOP legislature in 2011. “With the help of Stanford University law professor Nathan Persily they drafted their own new map (Feb. 19) for use in the May primaries after (Democrat) Governor (Tom Wolf) and the legislature failed to agree,” The Wall Street Journal explained.

And what does Pennsylvania portend? Writes the Journal editorial board:

Pennsylvania will be the future in every state if the Justices decide that judges should be redistricting kings.

 

 

Supreme timing

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday (January 18) suspended a lower court ruling that should eliminate drama and confusion leading to this November’s U.S. House of Representatives races across North Carolina.

Reports North State Journal, the SCOTUS’s decision “reduces the chance that the current district lines will be altered ahead of the November mid-term Congressional elections.”

The action voids a ruling earlier this month by a three-judge federal panel that imposed a January 24 deadline on North Carolina. This was the date by which legislators would have had to submit re-drawn maps for U.S. House districts. The lower court’s panel alleged that the state’s existing maps were unfair to “non-Republican” voters.

Re-districting committee chairmen Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) and Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) thanked the SCOTUS for giving potential candidates clarity as to filing and campaigning in the months ahead.

“We are grateful that a bipartisan U.S. Supreme Court has overwhelmingly halted the lower court’s 11th-hour attempt to intervene in election outcomes, restored certainty to voters, and ensured that, in the coming days, candidates for office can file in the least gerrymandered and most compact Congressional districts in modern state history.”

States: Take the 10th

Individuals protect themselves from incrimination by “taking the 5th”, exercising rights granted in the Bill of Rights by the Fifth Amendment. It appears the time has come for states, including North Carolina, to protect their rights by “taking the 10th”.

The Tenth Amendment is a beautifully crafted sentence, if only because it is a case study in word economy. It reads, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

While the subject of North Carolina’s voting district map, as legally drawn by a Republican majority, is mired in court rulings and shrouded in uncertainty ahead of the 2018 elections due to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling related to a similar legal challenge in Wisconsin, an informed citizen already knows where things are headed.

In this era of monuments to American patriots being taken down, of professional athletes declining to stand in respect for the flag, and core American Judeo-Christian values being dismissed as offensive, who can be surprised by a movement to deny states the right to conduct their own affairs in matters of drawing up voting district maps?

North State Journal political columnist Frank Hill provides useful historical perspective on the evolution of district gerrymandering from an accepted, if not messy, norm left up to individual states, to the current hand-wringing about racially motivated mapping that, suddenly, needs to be taken up by the courts and, ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court. It is no coincidence that this arises at a time when Republicans have a stronghold on statehouses and Governors’ mansions.

A Wisconsin group that recently navigated a redistricting case to the Supreme Court (a ruling is expected next spring), bases its argument on the premise that redistricting had been “too extreme” and for partisan political purposes. This prompted Hill to ask a question: what is too extreme?

How about a congressional district that was drawn in North Carolina that was 91 percent Democrat by registration in 1984? That was the makeup of the Second Congressional District I ran in during the 1984 campaign as a Republican. Sadly, the same masses of lawyers and advocates who are today running to the Supreme Court to declare gerrymandering as “unconstitutional” in any way, shape or form were not as concerned about it in 1984.

It is no longer 1984, to be sure, as we find radical judges and courts more than willing to dispute what has always been a “specific constitutional duty given to state legislatures,” Hill writes.

Back in June, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling on 28 North Carolina legislative districts. The lower court said these districts had been re-drawn to achieve illegal racial gerrymanders, diluting black votes, reported the Raleigh News & Observer. Which has led to the latest, even more disturbing, development in this story. In late October, a three-judge federal court panel announced it will appoint a Stanford University law professor to review nine legislative districts emerging out of a second re-districting effort by N.C. lawmakers in August.

Naturally, the far-left Southern Coalition for Social Justice applauded the decision to rob state legislators and their constituents of a constitutional right. Its executive director was quoted in news reports actually defending the idea that insertion of a voting rights scholar from California would “result in fair districts for all North Carolinians.”

Hill properly turns to an inconvenient fact to highlight the hypocrisy of Democrats condemning the evil partisan gerrymandering by the Republican majority. His point will be the basis for what should be vehement opposition to allowing a Stanford professor to influence North Carolina’s redistricting.

The North Carolina General Assembly has a long and proud history of drawing partisan gerrymandered districts at the federal and state level long before the Republicans took over control in 2010. All of it by Democrats since at least 1898.

Now that the Supreme Court has waded into debating the merits of gerrymandering, it seems inevitable that the body ultimately will be forced to do something it has expressly avoided for more than 200 years. It will have to decide if the Tenth Amendment still matters.