Tag Archives: North Carolina
Via our boy Dr. Jim Booth: BuzzFeed last week presented “11 Things The North Carolina Legislature Gave Us This Session.” The list isn’t pretty. It includes:
- Moral Mondays
- Harsh abortion restrictions hidden in a motorcycle bill
- The most restrictive Voter ID laws in the country
- The decimation of public education as North Carolinians know it
- The assumption that all those on government assistance are drug addicts
- The expansion of where you can carry your concealed weapon
- The repeal of the Racial Justice Act
- The end of federal unemployment benefits
- A ban on Sharia Law (because if there’s anything that plagues The Old North State these days, it’s Sharia Law running amok)
And of course,
- Turning the state into a national laughingstock
I don’t know how exactly to describe my feelings about what’s happened to my native state. Heartbreak at the neo-feudal paradise a once-vibrant place is becoming. Terror at what this means for my family and friends who are still there. Transcendent white-hot rage at the corrupt oligarchs who financed the coup. All that and then some.
A few days ago I posed a question via Facebook to my friends back in NC asking, essentially, how they viewed it all. Were any of them contemplating leaving? The results were about what I expected, I guess. A couple are pretty much stranded by commitments (family, etc.) that they can’t escape. A couple believe things will turn around. At least one is already planning on leaving and is researching options in another part of the country.
The ones who are staying are the sorts who are willing to fight for justice, and there are enough good people in the Tarheel State for me to know that the Art Popes and Pat McCrorys have a fight on their hands.
Next year’s mid-term elections are going to be a massive moment in the state’s history – perhaps the biggest watershed in my lifetime. It’s my suspicion that the conservative tide swept into office in large part because the “moderate” independent center of the electorate didn’t fully understand what the GOP represented. They thought they were voting for “fiscal restraint” and budget “responsibility” and “getting their house in order.” What they were actually doing was summoning demons, and I find myself at this point wondering how many folks voted Republican and now regret it.
We’ll find out next November, as
Mephistopheles Art Pope puts his wallet behind a critical effort to consolidate the gains from the last election. He’ll be opposed by an aggressive alliance of progressives and moderates that won’t have the cash he does, but they’ll be battling tooth-and-nail, as only people fighting for their lives can do.
If the GOP is evicted, the new legislature will have its hands full repairing the damage. But with luck, the 2013 experience will have taught North Carolinians a valuable, if painful lesson and they will be inoculated against further nonsense from the far right.
If, on the other hand, the Republicans maintain control and continue their reign of terror, expect the brain drain to begin in earnest. The I-85 corridor – Charlotte, the Triad and the Research Triangle – votes dead-blue. These areas are also the state’s economic center. Business leaders won’t be bothered by a garden variety conservative climate, but the new order in the state capital will generate social and economic stresses that intelligent CEOs and shareholders are smart enough to grasp.
Companies trying to decide where to open new operations are going to steer clear of a state in rapid decline, and I’d begin watching the Triangle closely for companies packing up and moving out. A lot of the state’s brightest and best are not natives and they have no deep ties to the region that would keep them there. They’re imports from around the country (and abroad) and they’re going to have no interest in living in a hybrid antebellum South/feudal Europe.
That’s my prediction. We’ll find out if I’m right over the next couple of years.
Legislators in North Carolina recently introduced a bill to make Christianity the official state religion. That bill has now been turfed, but we can probably expect similar moves in the future.
An Omnibus Poll, sponsored by YouGov.com and the Huffington Post, reveals just how far from the nation’s roots we have traveled on the subject of separating church and state and retaining the nation’s neutrality when it comes to how Americans chose to practice their respective religions.
According to the survey, 34 percent of Americans would favor making Christianity their official state religion while less than half (47 percent) oppose the concept. Thirty-two percent of those polled indicated that they would also favor a constitutional amendment that would make Christianity the official religion of the United States with just over half (52 percent) opposing the notion.
Leaving aside for a second the abject failure of millions of Americans to grasp the most basic precepts of their Constitution, this poll actually provides more questions than answers. Read more
When asked by The Barna Group what words or phrases best describe Christianity, the top response among Americans ages 16-29 was “antihomosexual.” For a staggering 91 percent of non-Christians, this was the first word that came to their mind when asked about the Christian faith. The same was true for 80 percent of young churchgoers. (The next most common negative images? : “judgmental,” “hypocritical,” and “too involved in politics.”)
My generation is tired of the culture wars. Read more
Facebook reminded me of an important lesson this morning.
When I was young, I was an idiot. A well-intentioned idiot, to be sure. And in my defense, it must be said that I was probably less of an idiot than most kids my age. But still, I look back on the things I did, the things I believed, the insecurities and the ignorance and the utter five-alarm cluelessness that once ruled my life like a petulant child emperor and I can’t help being embarrassed. I know, kids will be kids, and it’s true that there were moments of rampant joy that I will likely never equal again. Still.
Through the years I have learned. Lots. I’ve seen more of my country and even a bit of the world beyond, although not enough. I’ve met people from just about everywhere and gotten to know them a little. Read more
Earl Scruggs, the legendary master of the bluegrass banjo, is dead at 88. It was just a few days ago that I was writing about the music that I grew up with, and rest assured, Flatt & Scruggs were welcome in the Smith household. There’s honestly not a lot I can say that I feel is worthy of the man’s genius – not on short notice, anyway – so I’ll keep it simple and let the music do the talking. Let’s start with the song that he was most famous for.
Democracy & Elitism 3: burning down the straw man, and who are these out-of-touch “liberal elites,” anyway?
Let’s begin with a quick trivia question. What legislator’s Top 20 donor list includes the following?
- Blackstone Group (Financial Services)
- Bain Capital
- FPL Group (Energy)
- DLA Piper (Corporate law firm, representing Global 1,000 and Fortune 500 companies)
- Kindred Healthcare
- Beacon Capital Partners
- Comcast Corp
- Brownstein, Hyatt et al (Corporate law firm)
- Venable LLP (Corporate law firm)
- Hummer Winblad Venture Partners
- Apollo Advisors (Private equity firm)
- River Terminal Development
- Time Warner
We’ll have the answer for you at the bottom. Read more
In the days following the murders at Columbine High School I visited the school and the grounds of Clement Park. Those walks produced this piece, which was originally published ten years ago today.
We have learned a great deal about the events that took place at Columbine since this essay was written (for instance, we now know that the “Cassie Said Yes” story never actually happened, and we also know that the whole “Trenchcoat Mafia” thing was also a media-propagated fiction). But it seemed to me that going back and revising to account for new information would damage the fabric of what I wrote in late April and early May of 1999. I have therefore elected to leave the factual inaccuracies in place. I do, however, note the spots containing errors with an asterisk (*).
Salon.com and Westword.com provide as thorough and accurate a picture as we are ever likely to have of the shootings and the aftermath, and I recommend them highly.
Sunday, May 2, 1999
It won’t stop raining, and nobody seems to care. Read more
I’m about to share with you the most humiliating moment of my life.
This morning something deeply disturbing happened to my 13 year-old nephew, Christopher. He got a text message, which had been forwarded around from person to person, from one of his best friends, a girl we’ll call Ashley. It went something like this:
America has elected a nigger. Today in school show your support for the KKK by refusinshookg to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Christopher lives in Alabama, where this kind of ignorance isn’t terribly hard to find, and he’s a bit more advanced than some of his classmates where racial issues are concerned. He grew up in Charlotte (and NC urban areas are a lot more progressive than the outback), has always had black and biracial friends, and like so many kids of his generation he simply doesn’t see race as a big deal. Read more
On his outstanding Prodigal Son CD, North Carolina folk and blugrass legend Mike Cross presents us with a high-stepping little ditty called “Bill is in His Grave.” Bill, it turns out, was a scoundrel of the first order, and he’d been recently deceased.
The narrator is asked to say a few words at the funeral, a task that proves daunting for a man who’d rather not speak ill of the dead.
He finally manages this: Read more
I’ve been a very big Don Dixon fan since the late ’70s, so when his new CD, The Nu-Look, dropped I was bouncing around the living room like Snoopy doing a happy dance. Sadly, a lot of people don’t know Don’s music – although many know his work as the producer of Murmur and Reckoning by REM and multiple records from The Smithereens and Guadalcanal Diary (as well as stuff from Chris Stamey, Beat Rodeo, Kim Carnes, The Connells, Marshall Crenshaw, Hootie & the Blowfish, Tommy Keene, Let’s Active, James McMurtry, The Pinetops, The Reivers, Matthew Sweet and X-Teens).
The new disc marks something of a departure. Read more
It’s around 9 a.m. May 1, 1994. My stepmother, Kathie, has spent the night at Forsyth Memorial Hospital with my father, Larry, who will die late this afternoon. Their next-door neighbor, Wayne, is driving her home so she can shower and maybe get an hour or two of sleep. She hasn’t slept much in the six weeks since Daddy was admitted to the hospital with massive liver failure. Wayne has been a constant and salving presence during his friend’s illness.
Ten miles, maybe, down Silas Creek Parkway, through the south side of Winston-Salem, then on out Highway 109’s low, pine-strewn roll of hills to where Gumtree Road cuts across, demarcating the northern boundary of Wallburg, NC. This is where Daddy and Kathie live, and it’s where I grew up. These are the cultural outlands of the sprawling new metropolitan South. Our neighborhood straddles the Davidson and Forsyth County lines, and stands too far out into the country to be properly called suburban. But it’s also way too close to Winston to be considered rural. In some senses it’s a border town, possessing neither the urban sophistication of the city nor the kind of “agrarian virtue” my college Politics professor liked to attribute to country living. Antebellum mystique is dead elsewhere, and it never happened here. Read more