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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

In Raleigh, the General Assembly's S&M Caucus says NC beatings must continue, introduce fresh boycott bait.

It won't pass, of course. That's not the point of HB 780.

Just as HB2 was a tantrum over the Obergefell decision, HB 780 is a reminder to Governor Cooper that the only way he could get a repeal bill through the Republican supermajorities in Raleigh was to screw the state's LGBT population all over again, and that the GOP is ready to run on spite and discrimination in 2018 and 2020 while Cooper highlights restoring basketball and full hotels:
While Senate boss Phil Berger and his mini-me, House Speaker Tim Moore, will not let HB 780 out of committee, neither will they kill it by sending it- as they did all of 2016's HB2 repeal bills- to a backwater like the never-meeting Senate Rules Committee.

UPDATE: Credit where it is due: Speaker Moore did so banish the bill to the House Rules Committee, announcing it will not get a hearing or vote this session.

Neither will they draw a line before their caucus' most rabid, slathering haters. What the Rabid Puppies are to science fiction, Ford, Pittman, Speciale & Brody are to politics.

UPDATE: Here, I was correct, as The Charlotte Observer reports:
A day after setting off one firestorm, a Cabarrus County lawmaker set off another Wednesday by calling Abraham Lincoln “the same sort (of) tyrant” as Adolf Hitler. 
Republican Rep. Larry Pittman of Cabarrus County made the comparison in a Facebook post in response to a comment criticizing a bill he’d introduced that would nullify the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage in North Carolina. 
In his post, Pittman said North Carolina should uphold traditional marriage “in spite of the opinion of a federal court.” 
“And if Hitler had won, should the world just get over it?” he wrote. “Lincoln was the same sort if (sic) tyrant, and personally responsible for the deaths of over 800,000 Americans in a war that was unnecessary and unconstitutional.” 
Pittman could not be reached Wednesday.
Two of HB 780's sponsors, after all, also have bills pending to repeal the state constitution's ban on secession, and to repeal the literacy requirement for voting.

Secession, of course, is merely the end-stage of conservatives' centuries-long fetish for nullification of laws and court decisions that rein in hatefulness (they learned nothing, it seems, from the Civil War).

Moore added, after HB 142 passed, that the three-year extension of statewide discrimination was intended to give the GOP time to make sure there's no "patchwork" of local ordinances that pop up like weeds. In other words, they will never, ever support LGBT equality in North Carolina.

So who are the New Gang of Four?

They represent the people ex-Governor Pat McCrory praised as the real North Carolina last October:
“I need to let you know this is not just a Charlotte debate,” he said when asked about HB2. “As governor now, not as a former mayor, I need to tell you, if you think this is only a Charlotte issue, you need to think (about) what people are saying about it 20 miles outside of Charlotte.” 
McCrory listed the names of several smaller cities — Shelby, Lincolnton and Wadesboro — as examples of places where support for HB2 runs much stronger. 
...“It’s like night and day,” McCrory said of the divergent opinions among North Carolinians. “I see it every day as I travel these towns.”

Pittman represents Cabarrus County; Ford, parts of Cabarrus and Rowan. Brody represents the eastern half of Union County and all of Anson, whose county seat is Wadesboro (Speaker Moore is from Kings Mountain, where he is also Cleveland County Attorney. That's just west of Gaston County, and whose county seat is Shelby). And just to the northeast, Lincolnton is the government seat of Lincoln County.

The stage set, let's meet the players:

A Presbyterian minister whose campaign bio gives more space to his conversion to right-wing Republicanism than his call to preach the Word of God, District 82's Larry Pittman, 63, is a one-man Moses, issuing commandments for God in the form of bills every day.

Appointed to a vacancy, Pittman's in his third full term and has instructed voters that he will not serve more than five terms. You can do that when you gerrymander yourself.

IndyWeek reported on Pittman's legendary obsessiveness in 2015:
Rep. Pittman has championed expanding gun owner rights in the General Assembly and during his campaigns for the District 82 House seat. 
Pittman is the primary sponsor of a bill filed Tuesday—the day after his son’s suicide—that would prohibit any local government employees from enforcing federal firearms laws, unless by court order. The bill, titled the Gun Rights and Privacy Act, would also repeal local prohibitions against carrying concealed weapons, and would streamline the handgun permit while traveling across state lines and “to make the purchase of a firearm more efficient.”  
Finally, the bill would prohibit health care providers—including psychiatrists and psychologists—from questioning “competent patients about lawful activity related to firearms and ammunition.” 
Pittman is a polarizing figure in the General Assembly. He has been behind many of the recent initiatives to allow carrying concealed weapons in public places where they were formerly prohibited, like the State Fair. Pittman led the charge to restore language in House Bill 937 that would allow people to carry guns in bars and restaurants in 2013.  
Also in 2013, Pittman, a minister, slammed U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, then N.C. Speaker of the House, in a video for allowing a bill that would establish a state religion in North Carolina to stall and die.  
Not surprisingly, Pittman vocally opposes same-sex marriage. He has called for doctors who perform abortions to be tried and punished with the death penalty. But Pittman's son Graham did not appear to share his father's extreme views. On his Facebook page, which is still public, Graham Pittman alluded to identifying as an atheist. He shared a post from Equality North Carolina, the state's largest LGBT advocacy group, the day same-sex marriage became legal in North Carolina, with the comment "about time."

Michael Speciale, 61, is a retired Marine from New Bern. He's in his third term representing District 3. In January, he posted about the Women's March,
“The march WAS A JOKE. Hey, offended snowflakes, the march was not about women or women's rights, it was about pushing a liberal agenda,” Speciale said in the Facebook post. “Pro-life women not allowed! There were, however, women dressed as vaginas, and little girls holding signs with the “F” word and more.”
Speciale opposed puppy mill regulation in 2013, and Pittman rushed to his defense:
The measure would require commercial breeders with 10 or more female breeding dogs on site to provide the dogs with the American Kennel Club's basic standards of care, like food and water, clean bedding, daily exercise and veterinary  care and humane euthanasia when needed. 
Speaking in opposition to the proposal, Speciale said it's too ambiguous because it doesn't specifically define those standards. 
"'Exercise on a daily basis' – if I kick him across the floor, is that considered daily exercise?" Speciale said. 'Euthanasia performed humanely' – so should I choose the ax or the baseball bat?" 
Those comments shocked many of his fellow lawmakers. Rep. Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus, suggested he was joking. 
Speciale rushed to Facebook to deny any such thing.

He has also called NC NAACP president Rev. William Barber a racist. In 2015 he posted a tirade against the President:
“Look you Islamic son of a bitch” begins the quote Speciale shared on his public Facebook page Sept. 5. “Unless you give all your land back to the native Indians, don’t pretend to lecture Israeli’s (sic) about our borders when you can’t control your own.” 
The quote isn’t from Speciale himself. He posted an image of Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Facebook that featured the comment. The image appeared on a page called “1 MILLION People to DEFEAT Barack Obama.” It’s unclear where the quote originated. 
“Are you going to do something about (Islamic State terrorists),” the comment concludes, “or should Israel show you how it’s done because you are too much of a coward and the most piss poor excuse for an American president in your Great Nation’s history.”

Another Cabarrus County rep, like Pittman, District 76's Carl Ford, 60, is another third termer. He owns a couple of Christianist radio stations and is a benchmark homophobe in the GOP's legislative supermajority. When the General Assembly passed its fake HB2 repeal last month, Ford minced no words in his opposition:
"Yesterday was an incredibly difficult day for North Carolina," Ford wrote in his note to constituents.  "We were faced with what many called a difficult decision. When I decided to run for the North Carolina House of Representatives it was to represent the people of Rowan and Cabarrus counties, it was to uphold the Constitution of the State and to stand for the principles that I believe. First and foremost I serve Jesus Christ my Savior and then my constituents." 
Ford said that his constituents made it clear to him that they did not support replacing or repealing House Bill 2. 
"The timing, tactics and contents of House Bill 142 were all things I could not get behind. My constituents have overwhelmingly voiced an opinion to me not to repeal House Bill 2," Ford added. 
"When I spoke on the floor I said something that I will continue to stand behind, 'if I could use a prop it would be a basketball covered with money, and I would simply roll it down this aisle, because my family and my constituents are not for sale.' I will not become a sell out to the NCAA, the ACC or any interest groups or organizations who ask me to compromise my beliefs or threaten the rights of the citizens of this state. I stand firm in my vote against House Bill 142," Ford said.
Among Ford's legislative goals this session is making assaults on EMTs a hate crime while making opposition to HB2 "economic terrorism", and to make school board elections in his district partisan; strip school boards of the right to sue counties; and monkeying with school calendars in selected counties all over the state. Other core Ford beliefs include that taxes need to be lower (“It wouldn’t bother me to do away with corporate and personal income taxes”), abortion restrictions higher, the Department of Transportation cut down to size, and education spending reduced.

A week after HB2 was signed into law, Ford signed a public pledge to uphold HB2 and discriminate in his business operations as much as possible.

District 55's third-termer, Mark Brody, 65, managed to outrun a swirling cloud of lawsuits by suppliers the Union county contractor stiffed in his first run for the House, and has so successfully shone as a right-wing zealot in Raleigh that the party elected him to the Republican National Committee in 2016.

Brody truly despises LGBT Americans. Last year he said he'd campaign on his record:
I have a vote to defend, which I proudly defend it, and I also stand by our issues, including HB 2. I voted for that and I’ll stand by that on my election, as well as the other issues we deal with.
In February, Brody responded this way to a letter from a transgender resident lobbying for the repeal of HB2:
"(I) am saddened by the fact that North Carolina doesn’t provide the help you need to readjust from the mental disorder you suffer with,” he wrote. “It appears that allowing you to use a bathroom, locker room or shower of your choice only reenforces the disorder not helps to correct it. 
Brody said he believed he was offering Berchem compassion. 
“The problem is, in my opinion they’re fighting a battle they can never win and make themselves suffer in doing that,” he said. “They’re deciding that they’re going to do something that nature had not intended them to do … She will always for the rest of her life be fighting the forces of nature and she will never win.”
Having been all in for 2016's nine-hour sprint to pass HB2, Brody flunked the irony test- but aced the brazen hypocrisy finals- last month during the repeal debate:
In the House, Republicans, beginning with Rep. Mark Brody, tried to delay the vote until the following week. The motion failed, 34-85.
UPDATE: Today, Brody filed a bill to force state schools to withdraw from any athletic conference that boycotts his party's insistence on discriminating. "If anybody takes a swing at North Carolina," the pudgy old man told Channel 9 tonight, "North Carolina gon' swing back."

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