Herding the Crazy
The Charlotte-Raleigh relationship actually gets worse, and other things that make you facepalm
Right, then. Been a few days. Lots of crazydumb in the air. Let’s get to it.
1) I honestly can’t recall a state government power grab quite this brazen and rapid, a political blitzkrieg this potent, as what we’ve seen in the last few weeks in North Carolina. But the GOP has run the table in the Tar Heel State, with control of both legislative houses and the governor’s office for the first time in the modern era, and there’s no sense in wasting time.
The aggressiveness has been stunning, though, with Gov. McCrory’s suggestion of revamping higher ed to offer more vocational training — which misses the point of higher ed — and his streetcar threat/warning that sent the city he used to preside over into something of a tizzy.
Now, just this week, there’s a back-door attempt to toss people from state boards and commissions and replace them with administration appointees. (N.C. Sen. Bill Rabon of Southport explained that the job performance of the existing members had nothing to do with the proposal. Good to know.)
Here in Charlotte, there’s a letter from a quartet of Republican legislators to Mayor Anthony Foxx and state Sen. Malcolm Graham hammering them for “inflammatory political rhetoric” over the streetcar and — in case anyone harbored any lingering doubt about whether McCrory’s threat was really a threat — issuing a genuine, unequivocal threat: “If they do not work with the rest of the legislature in a serious manner, they will lose state transit funding for Mecklenburg County and will have only themselves to blame.” The legislature gets to define “serious.”
There’s a growing effort to seize control of Charlotte Douglas International Airport from the city and hand it to a state-commissioned airport authority (see item 1). The General Assembly could just do this, whenever they wanted, without city input. Why? The Biz Journal’s Erik Spanberg lays it out succinctly: “… while an airport authority wouldn’t cost the city any revenue — money from the airport can’t be spent on other city services — it would remove political control over what CEOs and others agree is the region’s most important asset for recruiting and retaining companies and jobs.” So much for local authority.
Think the now ultra-conservative state government took kindly to Foxx’s barbed State of the City address the other day, or the City Council’s 9-2 Democratic majority, or — to be fair — that the council lately hasn’t exactly hummed along at maximum efficiency?
Anyone who thought McCrory’s election as governor might tear down the wall between Charlotte and the rest of the state was, sadly, sorely mistaken. This is ugly enough already, only a week or so into the legislative session. It will get uglier.
2) So someone is finally going to develop something bigger and shinier than a Goodyear at South Tryon and Stonewall streets, a prominent intersection that, as our own Jeremy Markovich puts it elegantly, is “one of the places where Old Charlotte and New Charlotte are staring across the street at one another.”
The next domino? A friend had this to say on Facebook: “If the uptown Charlotte real estate market is reviving, want to place bets on how long before the Observer building is sold?” It’s been coming for years. In a way, I’m surprised it hasn’t happened already, and if not for the recession, it might have. It’s a damn cavern in there, with four people working the night desk and the escalator freezing up every other week. It simply makes no sense for a crumbling International Style ziggurat to squat on uptown real estate that valuable.
Still, after 42 years, it’ll be sad to see the wrecking ball swing. I inverted a lot of pyramids in that place.
3) And now for a double shot of South Carolina dummkopfery!
First — who else, now that Jim DeMint’s exited stage far right? — Lindsey Graham, finally showing some respect for President Obama and the office and extending genuine support. Wow. What occasioned this sudden conversion? Oh, right — a report that outlines what’s far and away Obama’s greatest disgrace, a policy so vile and transparently unconstitutional that only someone like Lindsey Graham could love it. Mr. President, rest easy — South Carolina’s got your back on that whole war crimes thing.
Second, meet Todd Kincannon, Columbia lawyer, former executive director of the South Carolina GOP. Mr. Kincannon likes to tweet. On Sunday, just ’cause, he tweeted a bunch of stuff about how bad the Super Bowl sucked, which provided him with a perfect opportunity to say some truly nasty things about Trayvon Martin, which he later defended on — yes — free speech grounds.
It hardly seems necessary to exercise my own free speech rights to “condemn” Mr. Kincannon in any way, or to point out that the First Amendment does not give one the right to publicly yack up chunks of deep-fried pig feces for the Birth of a Nation crowd without expecting some blowback from, like, humanity. Kincannon knows what he’s doing, of course. He’s Breitbarting. He’s “stirring the pot.”
“I’m not stupid. I see where this is going,” he tweeted Tuesday. “‘Politainment’ is the way of the future. And the Right better understand that shit.” He’s only partly right — you can be media-savvy and a complete fornicating idiot at the same time — but we ought to acknowledge how we got here, and how someone could go from a once semi-respectable office to the political equivalent of sticking a firecracker up a cat’s ass for laughs.
This coming Aug. 1, we shall reach the 25th anniversary of the national syndication of the daily radio show of one Rush Limbaugh, a man who became obscenely rich and politically powerful by taking to the airwaves and … well, by being Rush Limbaugh; I don’t need to review the exhibits. But it was ol’ Rushbo, more than anyone, who proved to a generation of schoolyard-caliber sadists and sociopaths that you could win money, fame, power, influence — and social and political legitimacy — through the simple act of being a raging asshole. From Hannity to Dobbs, Coulter to Savage, Malkin to Kincannon, the bile flows on, Americans get dumber and angrier (a lethal combination), and the nation suffers.
And a kid in Jacksonville, Fla., gets shot to death because he was playing music too loud.
4) Not that South Carolina owns a majority share of the stupid. Oh, far from it. U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, the lawmakin’ pride of Avery County, N.C., this week analogized the Obama Administration’s proposed regulation of “for-profit colleges,” those University of Phoenix-type diploma mills, by comparing it to …
This woman was once president — president! — of Mayland Community College in Spruce Pine. Let’s hear it for vocational training. Care to rethink that higher ed plan, Gov. Pat?
5) UPDATE: And I just plumb forgot about this deep nuttiness just to our east. Local government in Union County has always been a low-grade amusement park, but when you start talking about a bugged city hall and the police chief secretly taping the city manager, that’s like All the President’s Men mating with “In the Heat of the Night.” And recording video. Much respect, Monroe. East side!