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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: North Carolina

Remember Hurricane Irene? Well, here comes Katia

Katia builds her force enroute to the southeastern US NASA

Somehow we missed Harvey and Jose. But everyone remembers Hurricane Irene last weekend.

Now, standby, here comes Katia.

Currently the tropical storm, which astronauts aboard the International Space Station caught on camera above, is gaining steam waddling its way across the Caribbean toward the southeastern United States.

So far, it's only packing winds just above 70 miles an hour, which will get your attention in a sailboat but isn't even enough to knock over a local weatherman doing a live-shot on a deserted downtown street corner.

No one's predicting this far out, of course. But draw a line ahead of the storm and up the Eastern U.S. coast.

And it's Hello, Carolinas and Virginia again.Katia Track Map noaa

Drawing a political line ahead of the storm after the holiday weekend and we have Jobs Plan City on tap. Gov. Jon Huntsman did his jobs plan last night. And we published it right here.

Mitt Romney will soon be releasing his job ideas, even though he famously admitted that he himself is unemployed at the moment.

And then comes the next new and improved Jobs Plan ("As Advertised on TV") from Hawaii's favorite son, the Big Kahuna in the White House.

After announcing that he intended to share his autumn jobs rhetoric with a joint session of Congress next Wednesday night without checking in with the speaker of the House of Representatives, the Real Good Talker agreed to Thursday night.

In the interests of bicameralship the unity president then dispatched an email to millions of supporters bashing and threatening both of the hosting houses.

"It's been a long time since Congress was focused on what the American people need them to be focused on," said the post-partisan president.

A Thursday night congressional speech, TV-ratings-wise, puts Obama right before kickoff kickoff of the New Orleans Saints vs Green Bay Packers, instead of against Wednesday's Reagan Library Republican debate. That's the much-anticipated first political singalong with new GOP front-runner Texas Gov. Rick Perry at a podium.Hurricane Irene Obama at FEMA Headquarters Briefing 8-27-11

Of course, nobody wants any storm damage anywhere.

But the prospect of Barack "Photo Ops Are Good for My Health" Obama being forced to choose between suggesting billions more spending on infrastructure to a divided Congress on national TV after agreeing to cut spending, or attempting an encore of his "I'm the One Who's Supposed to Look in Charge Here" hurricane briefing by all those FEMA TV screens is most intriguing from a political stagecraft POV.

Speaking of hot air, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has upped its 2011 storm estimates, especially for the August through October timeframe. A normal year would see 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two biggies with winds greater than Capitol Hill, in excess of 111 miles an hour.

NOAA is now predicting up to 19 named storms, up to 10 hurricanes greater than 74 m.p.h and up to five venti systems above 111.

And BTW, for baby-naming purposes, we are safely past Gert. The next names on the 2011 storm list are Lee and Maria, unless you maybe can hold it past Ophelia for Tammy or Whitney.


How a hurricane becomes a political opportunity

Ron Paul's federal disaster relief plan: Kill FEMA

Obama misses East Coast quake, but learns about it later anyway

 -- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: NASA / International Space Station; NOAA (Katia tracking map): Paul J. Richards / AFP / Getty Images (Obama at FEMA headquarters, Aug. 27).

How a hurricane becomes a political opportunity

Tropical Storm Irene New York City is Still Standing 8-28-11

For the vast majority of Americans who could give a seagull's tail feather about Tropical Storm/Hurricane Irene, good luck trying to find something else interesting on television over the weekend.

The storm story had everything America's East Coast-centric media loves, especially on a slow-news August weekend: UnpredictaNew Jersey Gov Chris Christie and Lt Gov Kim Guadagno talk with storm evacuees Irenebility, the possibility of death and destruction and an East Coast location.

Which makes it by definition important.

Like it or not, Americans living thousands of miles away were going to see network reporters leaning into driving winds and rains like people who didn't know enough to come in out of the rain. CNN International even went full time with the U.S. East Coast storm although it had a ready-made Asian typhoon blasting through the Philippines and Taiwan too.

The storm had a little New York mayor ordering a big evacuation, a big New Jersey governor halting  gambling in Atlantic City -- gasp! -- and a White House chief executive who acted as if there's a presidential election next year. All bipartisan instincts.

On one hand, the ubiquitous responses of Eastern governments provided a stark contrast to the pathetic incompetence of the Louisiana governor and New Orleans mayor during Katrina's devastation and aftermath a few years back.

As bad as it was in pockets, this storm didn't meet a week of hype; can you say carmageddon?PaulJRichardsAFPGty

But it did offer elected and appointed officials a golden opportunity to show how really ready they were to respond to an emergency.

That's not such a bad thing, actually, when the federal government has been in such steady ill repute the last couple of years for its inability to handle most anything, except over-spending to little effect.

Prime weapon in these political PR offensives are so-called briefings, which can actually get quite long. They provide a must-cover photo op showing an elected official on top of an emergency situation, learning, ordering. And then he/she can in turn authoritatively brief the news media and voters on where things stand. Someone is in charge.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was everywhere in recent days, checking preparations, consoling evacuees, briefing the state. Once he tore himself away from Martha's Vineyard, President Obama, who missed the earthquake during another golf game, showed he's learned his lesson from being a week late to recognize the import of the Gulf oil spill last year.

Their government agencies released copious notes on preparations, conference calls and the developing situation. And Obama hailed governments' response in a brief Rose Garden appearance Sunday.Irene New York Gov andrew Cuomo makes the rounds of a Long Island fire station 8-28-11

None of this prevented millions from losing power, millions of dollars in damages and about 20 somehow related deaths.

And, yes, such a show of government presence is self-serving for elected officials, who show up, shake hands and talk at the cameras, having done none of the dirty work all night.

But for more than two years now many Americans have grown cynical, fearful and angry watching their federal government incapable of producing even a basic budget while suing state governments acting to do what the feds haven't. And state governments suing the feds for doing things they and some federal courts regard as unconstitutional.

So, yes, there may have been more revving of engines than actual operations. But, all in all, not a bad national civics lesson for the country to see its governments actually prepared and able to act in concert to perform their most basic duties, protect the citizenry in the face of some threat, natural or otherwise.


Obama hails governments' storm response

What's a hurricane actually look like from space?

Golfing Obama oblivious to East Coast earthquake but gets briefed later

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Eduardo Munoz / Reuters (New York City is still standing); Julio Cortez / Associated Press (New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno talk with storm evacuees); Paul J. Richards / AFP / Getty Images (Obama gets a briefing at FEMA headquarters, Aug. 27); Kathy Kmonicek / Associated Press (N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo makes the rounds of a Long Island fire station, Aug 28).

$1 bank robbery doesn't pay off for man who said he was desperate for healthcare

Richard James Verone

A $1 bank robbery was what Richard James Verone thought would get him thrown in jail so he could get the medical attention that he needs. 

The unemployed, uninsured 59-year-old has a growth on this chest, two ruptured disks and something wrong with his left foot. He figured if he held up a bank for a dollar, he'd get thrown in the slammer and be seen by a doctor.

So, earlier this month, he walked into the RBC bank in North Carolina and handed the teller a note that said, "This is a bank robbery. Please only give me one dollar."

It was Verone's first attempt at crime. After he held up the bank with his note, he sat on a couch, unarmed, as the teller called 911, and they waited patiently and peacefully for the police to arrive.

Continue reading »

John Edwards' prosecutor, George E.B. Holding, announces his retirement

Holding John Edwards, a former senator and two-time presidential candidate, said Thursday that he does not want to be deposed later this month in the case regarding a purported sex tape with his mistress, Rielle Hunter.

The former senator is requesting that the deposition scheduled for June 20 be delayed until after criminal proceedings against him are completed.

Edwards, a former trial attorney, said in court papers that he is asking for the delay to ensure a fair trial in his criminal case and so he does not possibly incriminate himself.

On Friday, U.S. Atty. George E.B. Holding, who is  overseeing Edwards' prosecution, announced he resigning from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The announcement was an expected move now that Edwards has been indicted on six felony counts surrounding a cover-up of the Democrat's affair with Hunter while he was running for president in 2007 and 2008.

"I came to the United States Attorney’s Office in March of 2002 with the mission of making this office into one of the best law firms in North Carolina," Holding, a George W. Bush appointee, said in a written statement. "We have succeeded."

Holding, a Republican, continued: "The people of eastern North Carolina should be confident that they have an excellent team of prosecutors and civil attorneys working tirelessly to enforce the laws and pursue justice. I am proud that during the past nine plus years, we have successfully addressed our national and district priorities, such as aggressive prosecution of violent criminals, child predators, drug traffickers, white collar criminals, would-be terrorists, and corrupt public officials."


John Edwards denies federal charges

John Edwards acknowledges child from affair

Book review: John Edwards exposed in 'The Politician' by Andrew Young

-- Tony Pierce

Photo: U.S. Atty. George E.B. Holding, shown in Raleigh, N.C., has headed the prosecution of former Sen. John Edwards. Holding announced that he is leaving his post. Credit: Jim R. Bounds / Associated Press

North Carolina's Senate rights a very old wrong

Here's a revealing little historical footnote you won't hear much about elsewhere.

That's because it involves politicians of both parties making good on a past wrong -- and doing it without conflict. In other words, unanimously. 

Whoever heard of such a thing in the 21st century?North Carolina Governor William Holden

The North Carolina Senate all voted yea today on a pardon for Gov. William W. Holden.

He was impeached and driven from office after a 44-day trial in the same chamber as Tuesday's vote 140 years ago during the tumultuous Reconstruction era of 19th century American political history.

The governor's offense: He stood up to the Ku Klux Klan.

Initially a supporter of secession, Democrat Holden became disillusioned with the Confederacy, eventually becoming a member of Abraham Lincoln's new Republican Party.

Obviously a silly man, Holden took office in 1868 on a unity platform that both whites and blacks could benefit from reconciliation and healing.

Soon after, the Klan launched a campaign of violent intimidation, including murder, against newly freed blacks and white Republicans. The governor, believing that such activities were unlawful, sent the militia into two Klan hotbed counties, arresting 100 men and suspending their rights to a court appearance, knowing sympathetic local judges would simply free them.

As Holden's historical luck would have it, however, not long after, the Democrats won control of the state Legislature. You'll never guess who they went right after. On a straight party-line vote, Holden was impeached and forced out of office.

An attempt to pardon him later collapsed when Holden rejected it, believing that he had done nothing wrong to pardon.

Holden, however, has since passed away. So he was in no position to resist the 2011 pardon effort. "Today," said state Sen. Neal Hunt, the Republican who led the modern-day rehab effort, "we right a 140-year-old wrong."

Tuesday's vote was bipartisan -- 48-0.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Caswell County Historical Association (Holden).

Another Obama White House party, this one a midweek soiree to watch Da Bulls

Chicago Bulls Logo



Another Obama party at the White House tonight.

No Paul McCartney or Elton John this time.

This midweek get-together was planned to watch an NBA basketball game between the president's favorite Chicago Bulls and some team from North Carolina.Obama nurses a Basketball Lip 11-26-1 that required 12 stitches

On the coveted presidential invitation list are 10 congressional Democrats, plus Anthony Foxx, the mayor of Charlotte, and James Mitchell, a City Council member in that city, where Democrats will hold their national political convention next year.

Also invited are two lonely Republicans, Rep. Sue Myrick of North Carolina and new Sen. Mark Kirk, who now holds Obama's old Illinois Senate seat.

The other scheduled Democrats on the list were:

Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois and Kay Hagan of North Carolina, plus Reps. G.K. Butterfield, Larry Kissell, David Price of North Carolina and Danny Davis, Luis Gutierrez, Jan Schakowsky and Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois.

On Friday, the president will host and hail at the White House his hometown Chicago Blackhawks, who won the 2010 NHL championship Stanley Cup after 49 years in the trophy wilderness.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Click here to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends. Very few animals were slaughtered in the production of this item.

Photo: Obama nurses a split lip that required 12 stitches after a robust basketball game Nov. 26, 2010. Credit: Charles Dharapak / Associated Press

Veterans Day traditions evolve on Twitter


At Arlington National Cemetery, rocks are placed on headstones to symbolize a visit.

As families across America remembered the fallen, politicians paid tribute to veterans in person and also by using Twitter to send messages to their followers on Veterans Day. 

Traditions may be evolving but the messages of....

Continue reading »

What you hear is not Morgan Freeman supporting a Republican congressman from North Carolina

Morgan Freeman, the award-winning star of "Driving Miss Daisy" and "The Shawshank Redemption," swears he didn't record the voiceover for this attack ad against longtime Democrat congressman David Price -- despite what it sounds like and despite what B.J. Lawson or his campaign say.

Lawson, the North Carolina Republican nominee for the 4th Congressional District, issued a press release today to....

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Social media wrap: Obama, McConnell, Palin speak out on healthcare bill 6 months on


Barack Obama: "I refuse to go back to the days when insurance companies could deny a child healthcare due to a preexisting condition or impose a lifetime limit on care for a cancer patient. Those days are over."

Senate_GOPs: Mitch McConnell: "Americans never wanted this massive government-driven intrusion into their health care"

RepDianaDeGette of Colorado: New reforms take effect today, putting patients and drs back in control of health care. Learn more here:

MaryBonoMack (California): 6 Month Anniversary of ObamaCare...It is "even worse than critics thought" ^RM

Senate_GOPs  Happy 6 month #hcr anniversary! "Rarely have so many political strategists been so wrong about something so big."

WaysMeansCmte  WHAT A DIFFERENCE 6 MONTHS MAKE #1: Starting today your health insurance ...

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[Updated] Social media wrap: Reaction to Defense authorization bill vote (and DADT)


[Updated 12:01 a.m.]      

JoeLieberman (Connecticut): We didn’t win today, but we can win this fight this year. #DADT

Senate_GOPs @KayBaileyHutch and @JohnCornyn Statements on the Defense Authorization Bill

Grahamblog (Lindsey Graham, South Carolina):  Democrats are playing politics with the defense authorization bill. (Audio) #sctweets #scpol

John McCain (Arizona): Senator McCain Leads The Fight Against Democrats Attempt to Politicize ...

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
Republican Politics
Democratic Politics



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