Vetoes and indictments

by | Aug 18, 2023 | Editor's Blog | 7 comments

A lot’s happened this week. On a personal level, dropping my daughter off at UNC-Asheville was the biggest deal. I always enjoy spending time in the mountains and the campus is great, even if the architecture leaves a bit to be desired. I’m not sure why architects in the late 1960s felt like they needed to compete with Soviets for designing drab, sterile buildings without distinguishing features, but on a setting as nice as UNC-Asheville, they missed a hell of an opportunity. Regardless, I’m excited for my daughter and confident she’ll have a positive experience and get a great education. 

On the political front in North Carolina, Republicans chose to override vetoes instead of help the people of the state. The thumped their chests as they passed five bills that Governor Roy Cooper had nixed. They were mostly what I call base bills. They’re just more shots in the culture wars and fodder to juice their base. 

They passed one bill they called a Parents’ Bill of Rights and then passed another that stripped away parents’ rights to seek health care for their children. The Parents Bill of Rights is really just a bill designed to allow the loudest and most ideological parents to supersede the judgment of teachers, librarians, administrators, and school professionals. They can now ban books and shape curriculum that fits their world view instead of one that respects the diversity of our society and country. 

They also passed a bill to ban medical treatment for transgender teenagers. The bill, like so much the GOP does, ignores the complexity of the issue and the struggles of children. It’s a bullying bill and more fodder for the base. It also strips away rights from parents and doctors. Combined with the abortion restrictions taking place across the country, we’re seeing a pattern here of Republicans imposing government restrictions on individual rights. 

In the meantime, Republicans keep kicking the budget down the road and keeping people from accessing Medicaid who need health care. When the GOP belatedly decided to expand Medicaid, they attached it to the budget, which they promised to have passed by July. As former State Senator and Chair of the Economic Development Council of North Carolina Gene McLaurin noted, “Now, in effect, we’re in an execution gap.” The delay is costing North Carolina jobs and hurting rural hospitals who have been hit hard in recent years. It’s time for the GOP to do its job and pass a budget instead of feeding its angry base. 

On the national front, the indictments just keep rolling in. Down in Georgia, the Fulton County DA laid out a RICO case against Trump and slew of co-conspirators, including our very own Mark Meadows, the guy who claims he lived in a burned out trailer in Macon County and believes dinosaurs and humans walked the earth together. The indictment lays out exactly what these people did to try to overturn the election and coerce others, including the Georgia Secretary of State, to commit fraud.  

The most interesting aspect has been watching the GOP response to all the indictments. As Nick Catoggio of the Bulwark noted, the party has been moving the goalposts in an attempt to avoid any responsibility or accountability. In the wake of January 6, they said impeachment was not the proper venue and the courts should handle the case. Now, they say that the courts are wrong and that voters should decide. But, as Catoggio points out, the voters decided and the GOP denied that the election was legitimate. They will never accept that Trump lost. They will never be willing to hold him accountable in any way. 

And that leads to a huge a quandary for Republicans. Indictments in  multiple jurisdictions by separate grand juries paint a picture of a corrupt and immoral man. Most voters see through Trump and he’s going to have a difficult time persuading the swing voters to support him. As the top of ticket, he could be a huge drag on down-ballot GOP candidates. 

On the other hand, if Trump is somehow forced off the ticket, either through some candidate emerging in the primary or some legal barrier, then those Always-Trumpers aren’t likely to show up at the polls. Democrats, on the other hand, are motivated, not by Joe Biden, but by extremist policies around abortion and fear of another right-wing populist presidency. 

Either way, 2024 looks tough for Republican right now. Trump fatigue is a real phenomenon among normal people that could hurt Republicans and the Cult of Trump is also a real phenomenon that could easily turn on the GOP. Let’s see what happens next week.


  1. cocodog

    The only person to go broke in the casino business was Donald J Trump. Of course, he has a reputation for being the worst businessperson in the world. For years, the mob ran Vegas, skimming off the top, and other shenanigans, but they never went broke. Several of them went to jail or disappeared in the desert between State Line and Victorville, but never went broke. Not because the wise guys were exceptionally skilled at operating business, they are not. Because the basic rule in commercial gambling, “the house never loses.” When the mob ran Vegas, the food was first class, and inexpensive, the drinks and the lounge shows were free. Rooms were reasonable and gas was a buck and quarter gallon. What you lost at the tables offset the reduced costs of spending the weekend at a high-class resort. You could walk the strip at all hours with thousand-dollar bills hanging out of your pocket and not be bothered. You could eat dinner in one of the high-end restaurants, enjoying the finest California Wines, eating a meal prepared by a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef. Sitting at the table next to you, could be one or more members of the Rat Pack, Elvis Presley, the senate majority leader Harry Reed, or the president of the United States. Of course, things have changed with the advent of Howard Hughes and the Hollywood operated hotels and casinos with their MBAs and accountants. Everything has a price tag, nothing is free. However, it is still relatively low crime, and the state and local taxes are reasonable. I seriously doubt writing laws against gambling will stop grandma from wagering. I have been told bingo and card games have a huge following in these retirement homes. One thing is certain, folks who want to gamble, will find a way. You are correct, casinos would never work in NC. Just stick to the office betting pool or church bingo game. High end casinos would be a bridge too far.

  2. TC

    Coco, it might not be. But having seen it happen with those very people, spending the grocery money wasn’t a metaphor. According to one article I read in AARP magazine, they identified the elderly as a group highly susceptible to gambling addiction.

    I have no reservations about (no pun) the professionalism between the Cherokee operation and Vegas, Reno, and Atlantic City. I know someone who had an offspring employed there. The stories related were not flattering. I’ve never been to the casino. Never had any desire to go to Vegas. Everyone that I’ve talked to that has been to Cherokee always complained about losing. I’ve never met anyone that won. Not even a little. Apparently the odds are stacked even more so in favor of the house in that particular gaming establishment than those in the usual places of vice.

    People are going to gamble. People are going to have sex and do drugs as well. Do we sanction those things as ‘wrong’, but since we’re going to make money off of it, okay. And you would be correct here by saying that you can’t legislate morality. But we can capitalize on it instead? And you have to admit, California is not North Carolina. Not by any stretch. Societal norms are not parallels between the two states. And there is such a thing in this state as, ‘Contemporary Community Standard.’

    I understand the economics of it. Yes I realize all the good that come from the tax revenues generated. I also understand that will result in another tax decrease for corporations, probably tax incentives for casinos to locate here, given that is economic development. Local government will be on this like white on rice to pony up tax breaks to bring in the casino bucks. I guess with all that revenue coming in, we cut the top tier income earners too. Not that they’re dropping money on the roulette table. And that is a hard sell this year with the State having a $3 billion surplus.

    I wish we could sit down and discuss this and all the other woes we could solve. The context we could add would no doubt be voluminous.

  3. cocodog

    TC, thanks for addressing some of the evils associated with gambling. I am sure there are many and varied. But Mom losing the egg money at the local casinos is not one of them. Comparing Cherokee Casinos to real casinos is not fair. They are in no way near the level of sophistication found in Reno or Las Vegas. The times I visited the Cherokee operation, my impression was they are not being operated for the benefit of the community. Granted they offer a few low paying jobs, and I noticed a few fancy public schools, but not near the level of civic improvements found in Nevada. They need to grow in critical areas. Their security system is not set up to protect the customers, they are hired to sell the casino’s substitute money system, which has a data mining operation at its base. If you choose not to give them your personal information, they follow you around harassing you. Very amateurish, nothing like Nevada Casinos.
    I am not familiar with the local sheriff’s campaign finance techniques you mentioned, but it is not a shock. Something I recall from that classic movie “Casablanca.”

    Bill Parker, the legendary LAPD Chief, defined vice as something that is conspicuous, complained of and commercial, not necessarily in that order. Like many law enforcement officials, Parker accepted the fact that folks are going to gamble. It is a given. Moreover, the penalty for gambling is as severe as being cited for violating a local ordinance prohibiting turning right on a red light. The States of Nevada and Louisiana made it past these antiquated and unrealistic ideas of morality by regulating and taxing it. Other than bonds, states are limited as to how they can generate funds. The state cannot open a market and compete with the local supermarket. Taxing regulated gambling operations raises money that residents do not have to pay. I have never been into slot machines, no skill required. But some folks like them. Using the money raised to address issues that fall within the purview of state government is not evil socialism. The state uses the tax money collected from residents of Rowan County to build a road in Charlotte. The salary of your local highway patrol traffic officer may be paid with taxes collected in Cabarrus County. It is how things are done. For the same reason, poverty is never addressed by handing out money. Building schools and paying state credentialed teachers’ reasonable salaries to teach kids the skills to make a living address poverty. Job skill programs, linked to the court’s probation and parole programs may prevent somebody from depending on crime to earn a living. (The exception being want a be politicians who have perfected the art) The same principle applies to state prisons. Merely housing bodies without job training does not reduce the recidivism rate. A job program does, moreover, there are inmates who have skills that could pass them along to others in exchange for sentence reduction. It is just a question of gathering the assets and applying them well. In NC that may be a bridge too far.

  4. TC

    It’s highly likely Coco. “Just one more dollar. You’re going to hit. I know it. Just one more…” And so it goes. It’s called a “one armed bandit” for a valid reason. Is it wide-spread? Not in North Carolina. Gambling isn’t legal. That didn’t stop the ‘friendly’ poker game at “Ye Olde Outlaw” gin joint/roadhouse/illegal club that was the target of sheriffs seeking re-election every four (4) years. Between elections? Only when someone got shot or stabbed during an altercation. Not that different from poker machines now. Elected law enforcement officials turn a blind-eye for the most part, to their use and existence. Unless they get a complaint of course.

    As far as demon rum. Yeah, it’s for sale. It can only be bought wholesale at a State Controlled Alcoholic Beverage warehouse and then retailed through local board-controlled Alcoholic Beverage stores. North Carolina likes control. But to this day, there are still dry counties in North Carolina. Places where being the belt buckle on the bible belt is desirable and preferred. Places where the joke, “Know the difference between a Baptist and a Lutheran? The Lutheran will speak to you in the liquor store” are absolutely true. But those are the future gambling meccas of ‘those that know best’ in the legislature.

    Why don’t we let private enterprise do it? It ‘worked’ for license plate offices. Let’s do the same thing for fortified wine and spiritous liquor. State is still getting their money, what do they care who pays it to them? Oh yeah; they like control. Sorry.

    It’s been a while since I’ve been through Cherokee. The last time though, I went through the off beaten path. The poverty and squalor were simply appalling. And that was well after the casino opened and was booming. Has it improved in those 15 years since I last passed through? I hope so. I’m not holding my breath though.

    Can it be done? Of course. Should it be done? I’m not convinced. Since all the money is being made in Wake and Mecklenburg counties, seems that would be the ideal location to do both things. But to do so, taking the excess and channel it back into the rural counties that really need it would be…what’s that word…oh yeah, socialistic!!!!

    The few wealthy landowners in those counties will make the money from gambling. Berger et al have found another funding stream for the wealthy and their benefactors in those areas and no funds or help for the poor who are not. And that is the long range goal.

  5. cocodog

    Recent polls show that about 52 % of Republicans would not vote for Trump if convicted. Yet 28 % said they would vote for him even if he is incarcerated as the result of his criminal conduct. This raises some serious questions. At least 28 % of Republicans would vote for a convicted felon, who attempted to defraud the people of this country by depriving them of their vote, incited an insurrection injuring cops, vandalized the nation’s capital, defecated in its hallways, endangered the countries security to show off classified documents he knew he had no right to possess and ran a grift that place 2.4 billion of taxpayer funds in his pocket. Hired members of his family, who used the mantra of their office to further their private business interests. His daughter cut a deal for exclusive trade licenses with China and Jarred obtained over two billion from the Saudis to further his investment business. A transaction personally approved by a Saudi prince who is alleged to have order the torture and killing of a journalist for writing bad press about him. All this because some TV Show make believe businessperson convinced them he is the genius sent by God to save them. Well folks, you got hustled! The same basic hustle the traveling salesman in Music Man ran to sell his instruments. Only this time, it was not a drum or French Horn, but the basic freedoms this nation’s founders risked their fortunes and very lives for bring into existence. Moreover, disrespect the memory of the many who gave up their lives and suffered injuries to defend on the battlefield. Next Friday, your orange haired idol will turn himself in to the Sheriff of Folton County Georgia. He will be fingerprinted, photographed, and perhaps be required to provide a DNA sample. He will wait in line to be arranged along with all the others. Perhaps, even be placed in a holding cell. He will stand trial and be judged by folks he considers his inferiors. Folks who could never join his private clubs or play on his golf courses. The folks he expects to vote for him as president.

    • cocodog

      Correct spelling: Fulton County Sheriff’s Office

  6. TC

    In this instance, the Devil didn’t go down to Georgia; he made a perfect phone call.

    As for Mark Meadows, he deserves everything he gets. While not the brightest light on the string, he placated himself to get on the Trump train. Now he’s trying to play the odds by trying to take his indictments Federal. Gambling that Trump will get elected so that his ‘ol buddy can get rid of his charges. I’m sure the other co-conspirators are hoping for the same outcome. Secure in their proximity to Donnie. Like he cares about them.

    Even a rat is smart enough to jump off a sinking ship.

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