Chamber of Commerce Republicans strike back

That’s the big take-away from the election results in NC tonight.  Now, as a Democrat, it would’ve been nice to see some outlandish Tea Party candidates win some primaries to make things easier for Democrats (especially Kay Hagan).  But far more importantly, it’s good to see the relative adults in the Republican Party win a bunch of key races.  Now, even much of the “mainstream” Republican party has gone off the ideological deep end,  but most of them lack the take-no-prisoners, totally out-of-touch-with reality nihilism that characterizes so many elected Tea Party politicians.

I may not agree with Thom Tillis (Republican Senate primary winner), but I understand where he’s coming from and see him as somebody Democrats can strike some compromises with.   His closest rival, Tea Party obstetrician Greg Brannon, just brings the full-on crazy (though, apparently he’s an excellent obstetrician, I’m told first-hand).  We just don’t need people like that in government.  Anyway, after seeing too many winnable races lost by the likes of your Akins, Angles, Murdouchs, and O’Donnells, the Chamber of Commerce Republicans clearly said “enough” and were not going to let this happen in North Carolina.  Good for them.  Rob Christensen gives the rundown.

In the marquee race, the Republican establishment hoisted state House Speaker Thom Tillis on their shoulders to help him win the GOP Senate nomination — including the holy trinity of conservative politics: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Rifle Association, and National Right to Life. As much as any figure, former White House advisor Karl Rove was the handmaiden to Tillis’ victory…

But the Senate race was not the only place where the national party and its allies won on Tuesday.

= In another good sign for the establishment, 2nd district Rep. Renee Ellmers of Dunn was supposed to be in trouble with her tea party supporters because she had befriended the House GOP leadership.

But strong primary opposition to Ellmers never materialized, and Frank Roche her challenger was never able to make her support for immigration reform a campaign issue.

= In the 7th district GOP primary, former state Sen. David Rouzer of Smithfield, who had the backing of U.S. House Whip Eric Cantor, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Action Network and YG Network was locked in a tight race from the right from Woody White, a New Hanover County commissioner. Rouzer was also attacked on the immigration issue.

Oh. and it turns out I don’t quite have to give up on democracy.  Justice Robin Hudson won her “non-partisan” primary.

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The Board game resurgence

Other than Clue during vacations, we don’t play a lot of board games in the Greene household (though, we do get in a fair amount of Uno).  Nonetheless, I loved this Vox piece a while back on 11 great board games for adults and was definitely intrigued.  In fact, I bought Bohnanza and the whole family loves it.  Now, I need to buy another one.  Anyway, I’m reminded of this because the NYT has an article today on the resurgence of board games in our hi-tech world.

NC politics self promotion

An interview I recorded last week about today’s primaries in NC.

And you can catch me live tonight at 9:30.

Chart of the day

Most of you should probably already be aware of this, but it never hurts to have such a visually arresting reminder of what an extreme outlier the US is when it comes to incarceration policies (not crime, mind you, just what we do with criminals):

Photo of the day

From the Telegraph’s Pictures of the day:

Squirrels take part in a nutty magic trick. Photographer Max places his self-made stages in his garden in Teddington, London, and then  waits hours - and sometimes days - for his subjects to get into the exact position to capture his shot

Squirrels take part in a nutty magic trick. Photographer Max places his self-made stages in his garden in Teddington, London, and then waits hours – and sometimes days – for his subjects to get into the exact position to capture his shotPicture: Max Ellis/Caters News

A defense of Common Core from a math teacher

Really enjoyed this defense of Common Core from an engineer turned math teacher in rural NC.  Strikes me as spot-on:

As an engineer turned teacher with 20 years of industry experience, I can strongly say that the CCSS provide a framework of what is needed in today’s modern workplace: an emphasis on skills that can help our students compete with anyone on the planet…

Believe me, I have some issues with the CCSS and how they were originally implemented. I also respectfully take issue with the testing approach my colleagues and our students must face at the end of each course. What I don’t do, however, is lump all of these problems together and blame them on the standards themselves. [emphasis mine]  Indeed, I support calls to review the standards, isolating and correcting problems to make them better. Businesses follow this process on a daily basis to stay competitive. But don’t scrap the whole thing, especially over claims that are not based on solid evidence.

As a high school teacher who has spent seven years teaching math to students in Cherokee County, I know that these standards work. If you don’t believe me, then I challenge you to spend an hour in my classroom. There, in a second-hand trailer, you will see students solving difficult problems in a collaborative, student-centered manner and building critical skills such as communication, accessing and analyzing information and the ability to transfer knowledge to real-world scenarios. This method of instruction is aligned with the rigorous expectations of the common core and is helping to equip my students with skills they will benefit from for the rest of their lives, regardless of their intended career or academic path.

Yep. Of course Common Core is not perfect and there have been significant problems in implementation.  So fix them.  Don’t scrap the whole thing based on paranoid, Tea Party hysteria.

Where I despair for democracy

Seriously.  I try to maintain some sense of professional reserve/detachment when it comes to the monstrosity that is big money influence in American elections, but sometimes it is all just too much.  To see a highly qualified NC Judge smeared as a coddler of child molesters in hundreds of thousands dollars worth of ads funded by large corporations with business before NC’s courts is ultimately a depressing statement on where we are as a democracy.  The NYT has picked up the story:

RALEIGH, N.C. — The ad first appeared on television the Friday before last, a black-and-white spot charging that Justice Robin Hudson coddled child molesters and “sided with the predators” in a North Carolina Supreme Court dissent. It has run constantly since.

As notable as the ad’s content and frequency, though, is its source. It was created and aired not by one of Justice Hudson’s two opponents in Tuesday’s primary election, but by a group that had just received $650,000 from the Republican State Leadership Committee in Washington, which pools donations from corporations and individuals to promote conservatives in state politics and is now broadening its scope to target judicial races.

The sums have been unusual for such elections. The primary race for Justice Hudson’s Supreme Court seat alone has drawn more than $1 million — the bulk of it by independent groups including the Republican committee and an arm of the state Chamber of Commerce, which has spent $250,000 to promote both of her opponents with money from companies including Reynolds American, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Koch Industries.  [emphasis mine]

As if this is how our judges should be chosen.  And, oh, the moral midget who defends this stuff just gets me so:

In the group’s ad, Justice Hudson is attacked for arguing, along with two other justices, that retroactively requiring certain sex offenders to wear ankle bracelets was unconstitutional and unlikely to be effective. A group of six former justices of the North Carolina Supreme Court called the ad “disgusting.” …

Jay Connaughton, a consultant to Justice for All, defended the ad as accurate. “Justice Hudson put the privacy of convicted sex offenders ahead of the right of our elected leaders to protect us from these heinous criminals,” he said in an email.

The “privacy of sex offenders”?!!  It’s called the F***ing Bill of Rights.  Ugh.  Judge Hudson sums up the biggest problem with all this:

At her home in suburban Raleigh on Sunday, Justice Hudson lamented, “The skills it takes to be a good candidate have nothing to do with what it takes to be a good appellate judge.”

Judicial elections were already a bad idea.  Now that they can apparently be bought by venal, avaricious, immoral corporations (and yes, I use those words quite intentionally given the nature of the ads they are funding) makes them a worse idea than ever.  I shall do my part and vote for Hudson today.  I’m not optimistic.

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