Friday, October 7, 2011

Democrats plan to inflict political pain on GOP for blocking Obama's jobs bill!

 Verne Strickland Blogmaster / October 8, 2011

Obama Stern
First Posted: 10/7/11 05:08 PM ET Updated: 10/7/11 05:08 PM ET
WASHINGTON / HuffPost -- If the White House is to win the debate over President Barack Obama's jobs bill, its victory won't be measured in congressional vote tallies, but rather in terms of the political discomfort inflicted on the opposition.

No one expects the American Jobs Act to pass the Senate when it comes up for a vote next week. Even if the bill miraculously receives the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican-led filibuster, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has said he won't bring it to the floor of the House of Representatives.

And so, the White House and Democratic-allied groups have begun setting their sights on the next phase of the fight over jobs: what happens once the bill fails.

"I'll tell you, if the Republicans take the current position and hold it, that they'll do nothing, I think they'll pay a price for it," Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told Bloomberg News Friday.

Democrats have been dropping similar hints for days now, with even the president tipping his hand. In a press conference on Thursday, Obama conspicuously noted, "in Maine, there is a bridge that is in such bad shape that pieces of it were literally falling off the other day." Maine doesn't frequently make its way into the president's talking points, but with two of the Senate's most moderate Republicans hailing from there, it takes on additional import.

Outside Democratic groups tell The Huffington Post that the administration plans to deploy a two-pronged strategy in the days ahead. The first and most immediate task is to ensure that as few Senate Democrats as possible defect when the jobs act comes to a vote.

Already, union groups have been petitioning Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), who generally votes with Democrats, to back the bill. Senate leadership, meanwhile, put aside a pay-for provision that would have closed tax breaks for oil and gas companies in order to win the support of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).

And Obama's reelection campaign launched the "Tweet for Jobs" movement this week, with the president, Democratic members of Congress, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and others urging voters to contact their members of Congress and push them to support the American Jobs Act.

The more critical task, however, will comes once the vote has concluded. If lawmakers who oppose the president's jobs bill in its current form pay no political price for doing so, then there will be little incentive for them to lend their support when the bill is stripped down into individual parts.
A DNC official said the committee will continue to run a series of television and radio advertisements in swing states and districts.

"Democrats are going to take the jobs act directly to the American people so they can ask the Republicans in Congress and the Republican candidates for president why they refuse to support a plan that provides real economic growth right now," said DNC National Press Secretary Melanie Roussell. "Instead of playing politics with economic plans that economists say won’t make a dent in the problem, we want the American people to tell the Republicans to pass this bill."

A spokesperson for the Obama-allied Americans United for Change said the group and others were planning in-state demonstrations not just in targeted Senate races "but across the country," focusing on schools and bridges that could use government assistance. A spokesman for the AFL-CIO, meanwhile, noted that the labor federation will continue an action campaign, America Wants to Work, that incorporates the jobs bill.

As for the message Democrats will push, that depends on the Senate vote. But over recent weeks it's become clear that party leadership is done dealing with subtleties. During a Christian Science Monitor-hosted breakfast several weeks ago, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who chairs the Democratic Governors Association, plainly accused GOP leadership of trying to submarine Obama's jobs bill so that they could maintain control of the House and retake control of the Senate and the White House in the 2012 election.

“They accomplish that one way and one way only. And that is to stop the jobs recovery, to put a halt to the jobs recovery and if possible to reverse the jobs recovery," he said.

In an interview with The Huffington Post shortly thereafter, DNC Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said she agreed with O'Malley.

"I couldn't not agree with him more," she said. "I think that the Republicans are willing to leave the economy in bad shape for 14 months, do nothing to try and improve it, not work with the president so as not to give him a win, because they only care about one job -- President Obama's."

Charlotte GOP Mayoral candidate calls for hiring locals, not unions, at DNC bash

Verne Strickland Blogmaster
October 7, 2011

By Jim Morrill And Steve Harrison Staff Writers 

Posted: Thursday, Oct. 06, 2011

Jobs at next year's Democratic National Convention became an issue in Charlotte's mayoral race this week when Republican Scott Stone called on incumbent Democrat Anthony Foxx to ensure that DNC jobs go to local businesses and not "out-of-state labor unions." 

"They said they want to maximize union labor," Stone said. "How do you maximize union labor while also giving opportunities to local workers?"

    While Stone spoke to reporters, Foxx was meeting with students at West Charlotte High School, where he talked about work and youth employment. He highlighted the city's youth employment program, which he said has grown under his watch from 180 participants to 240.

    Stone challenged Foxx to sign a pledge to defend the state's standing as a right-to-work state and fight for local businesses over out-of-state unions. Foxx campaign manager Michael Halle declined to comment, referring reporters to the convention host committee.
    Some labor unions have threatened to boycott the convention because North Carolina is a right-to-work state and one of the least unionized in the country.

    The city's convention contract with the host committee and Democratic National Convention Committee says, "To the extent permitted by law, to the extent, if any, such labor is available in the region ... all services, goods, equipment, supplies and materials to be provided or procured ... shall be performed or supplied by firms covered by current union collective bargaining agreements."

    "The DNCC and the host committee have made hiring workers with ties to Charlotte and the region a top priority," said Dan Murrey, executive director of the host committee. "We intend to make sure Charlotte businesses get every dollar possible."

    He said a new vendor directory will help match local businesses to convention contracts, or help those businesses partner with outside companies.

    Foxx, meanwhile, spoke to a group of JROTC students at West Charlotte High, from where he graduated in 1989. Much of his talk was about how to be successful and urging the students to work hard. He also touted what he described as the success of his youth jobs program.
    "It's still not close to what I want," he said. "I want us to achieve."

    The program, called the Mayor's Youth Employment Program, matches participating firms with high school students who serve as interns. Companies include Bank of America, Duke Energy and Bissell Companies.

    Foxx said he lobbied business leaders to hire more high school students.

    Schools that feed into West Charlotte High will be helped by project LIFT, an initiative led by the Foundation for the Carolinas to spend $55 million to improve student achievement.

    Thursday, October 6, 2011

    Diane Ellis leaving Pantano for Congress as Operations manager. We'll miss you, Diane!

    New faces at Pantano for Congress & Fireworks

    From:  Diane Ellis
    To:       Benjamin Smith, Gerry Owens 

    Date:  Thu, Oct 6, 2011 9:17 pm

    Greetings everyone!

    Due to family health concerns, I am stepping down as Operations Manager for Pantano for Congress. This has been a very tough decision to make. I'm certain all of you understand that God, Country, and Family have been and forever shall be my life. But don't think I'm gone aren't that fortunate. I will be attending as many events as I possibly can as a volunteer and in the future I plan on returning to Pantano for Congress.

    So on that note, it is my pleasure to announce to you that Benjamin Smith is  assuming the duties of Field Operations Manager and Gerry Owens is assuming the duties of Office Operations Manager. Benjamin, Gerry and I have worked together for the past two months and they are awesome! They have great operational backgrounds and I know you will enjoy working with them as well. Feel free to stop by the office to visit them soon!

    I am still 100% committed to Ilario and the campaign and will do whatever I can to help. 

    My phone number is the same: 919.356.9651 and I can still be reached for the time being at my business email .

    Thank you all for your continued support to Ilario and the campaign...... this is one Marine that must be in Washington to preserve the moral fiber of this great country, to ensure our economy returns to the prosperity that hard working people deserve, and to make what is wrong RIGHT! With YOUR help God's will be done and Ilario will be the next Congressman from the 7th Congressional District.

    The city of Clinton is gearing up for the 25th Annual Court Square Street Fair and 18th Annual Court Square Barbecue Cook-Off, with events to take place in downtown Clinton on Saturday, Oct. 8, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. The city and its downtown merchants have perennially hosted the Court Square Street Fair for residents of Sampson and surrounding counties, and have regularly enjoyed a tremendous turnout!

    The Sampson County Republican Party will have a booth open for candidates to meet and greet attendees. Please attend the event in you Pantano shirts and bring lots of smiles!!! Share your story of why you support Pantano for Congress....remember make it personal. Your personal story means more to people that anything else you can do! Make it happen!

    Riverfest: Come out to Mike McCarley's beautiful riverside garden in Historic Downtown Wilmington this Saturday night, Oct 8, at 7:30pm, to view the "Invasion of the Pirates" Flotilla and Fireworks and get "fired up" for Pantano for Congress! Light refreshments will be served and the attire is "casual coastal". The location is on the Riverfront, 510 Surrey Street, Wilmington, 28401. A minimum contribution of $25 is required to attend. Please RSVP to 
    Parking is located adjacent to the property on the left.

    "Prosperity through Freedom. Peace through Strength."

    Diane Ellis

    Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    What do the Occupy Wall Street protesters want? They admit they don't have a clue!

    Verne Strickland Blogmaster / October 5, 2011

    Protesters in Chicago jump on the Occupy Wall Street bandwagon, which has spread to a number of cities since it began in New York three weeks ago.

    Protesters in Chicago jump on the Occupy Wall Street bandwagon, which has spread to a number of cities since it began in New York three weeks ago. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images 

    The amorphous, three-week-old occupation of a New York park just blocks from Wall Street is growing. The occupation is also spreading to other cities — Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and smaller places like McAllen, Texas. The arrest on Saturday of more than 700 Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge pushed the movement into the international spotlight, but the lack of a spokesperson, leader, or easily digestible message has confounded the news media.

    As Slate's David Weigel puts it: "The arrests were the hook. What's the story?" Here's what you should know:

    What is Occupy Wall Street's driving issue? Unhappiness with Wall Street's power and greed, certainly, as well as the eroding of the middle class. But other than that, the conventional wisdom is right, says Slate's Weigel.

    "There is no agenda uniting the people showing up and expressing their anger at finance." They have a "mostly official" blog, a "Declaration of the Occupation of New York City," an open "We are the 99" tumblr forum, and even a FAQ of sorts, says Ezra Klein in The Washington Post. But it's primarily "a protest movement without clear demands, an identifiable leadership, or an evident organizational structure."

    So what do they want?"No one knows," says Slate's Weigel. The movement is "happily incoherent," packed with disparate members including Ron Paul 2012 supporters, young anarchists, and veteran lefty activists. "That old standby, 'People Before Profits,' seems to capture the gist fairly well," says Nathan Schneider in The Nation. But the growing consensus among the protesters is that "government institutions are already so shot through with corporate money that making specific demands would be pointless until the movement grew stronger politically."

    Is it a Tea Party for the Left? Not exactly, or at least not yet. Broadly speaking, OWS is actually "driven by the same fuel that gave fire to the Tea Party," says Michael Scherer at TIME: "Anger at elites, a feeling of injustice, a concern about jobs, fear about the direction of the economy, and a clear desire to take action." OWS is furious at corporate America, though, while the Tea Party vents its rage at government. But to gain Tea Party-like influence, OWS will probably need a coherent message and some level of professional organizing.

    Is anyone calling the shots?The original call for occupying Wall Street was from a group called Adbusters, and other groups have aided, such as "hacktivist" collective Anonymous, says Schneider in The Nation. But the organizers have vested most of their power with the NYC General Assembly, which is a "horizontal," leaderless body that makes decision through consensus.

    What's next for Occupy Wall Street? "No one knows what will happen next," says TIME's Scherer, but the movement is spreading to other cities, and it has plenty of room to grow. And on Wednesday, liberal group and several labor unions are marching to join the protesters near Wall Street. And after that... well, it's anyone's guess.

    Sources: CNNThe NationNew York TimesOccupy Wall StreetSlate (2), TIMEWashington Post (2,3), We Are the 99 Percent

    Tuesday, October 4, 2011

    Hispanics flee an Alabama town. If it's available, they will come. Take it away, they will leave.

    Verne Strickland Blogmaster / October 3, 2011

    Josh Anderson for The New York Times
    William Gaspar, 9; Eric Badillo, 11; Angel Garcia, 10; and Elias Gaspar, 10, played soccer Monday in Albertville, Ala.
    The exodus of Hispanic immigrants began just hours after a federal judge in Birmingham upheld most provisions of the state’s far-reaching immigration enforcement.

     The judge, Sharon Lovelace Blackburn, upheld the parts of the law allowing state and local police to ask for immigration papers during routine traffic stops, rendering most contracts with illegal immigrants unenforceable and requiring schools to ascertain the immigration status of children at registration time.

    When Judge Blackburn was finished, Alabama was left with what the governor called “the strongest immigration law in this country.” It went into effect immediately, though her ruling is being appealed by the Justice Department and a coalition of civil rights groups.
    In the days since, school superintendents have reassured parents — one even did so on television in Spanish — that nothing had changed for children who were already enrolled. Wary police departments around the state said they were, for now, awaiting instructions on how to carry out the law.

    For many immigrants, however, waiting seemed just too dangerous. By Monday afternoon, 123 students had withdrawn from the schools in this small town in the northern hills, leaving behind teary and confused classmates. Scores more were absent. Statewide, 1,988 Hispanic students were absent on Friday, about 5 percent of the entire Hispanic population of the school system.

    John Weathers, an Albertville businessman who rents and has sold houses to many Hispanic residents, said his occupancy had suddenly dropped by a quarter and might drop further, depending on what happens in the next week. Two people who had paid off their mortgages called him asking if they could sell back their homes, Mr. Weathers said.
    Grocery stores and restaurants were noticeably less busy, which in some cases may be just as well, because some employees stopped showing up. In certain neighborhoods the streets are uncommonly quiet, like the aftermath of some sort of rapture. 

    Drawn by work in the numerous poultry processing plants, Hispanic immigrants have been coming to Albertville for years, long enough ago that some of the older ones gained amnesty under the immigration law of 1986. But the influx picked up over the last decade, and the signs on Main Street are now mostly bilingual, when they include English at all.

    What the new immigration law means on a large scale will become clearest in a place like Albertville, whether it will deliver jobs to citizens and protect taxpayers as promised or whether it will spell economic disaster as opponents fear.

    Critics of the law, particularly farmers, contractors and home builders, say the measure has already been devastating, leaving rotting crops in fields and critical shortages of labor. They say that even fully documented Hispanic workers are leaving, an assessment that seems to be borne out in interviews here. The legal status of family members is often mixed — children are often American-born citizens — but the decision whether to stay rests on the weakest link.

    Backers of the law acknowledge that it might be disruptive in the short term, but say it will prove effective over time. 

    “It’s going to take some time for the local labor pool to develop again,” said State Senator Arthur Orr, Republican of Decatur, “but outside labor shouldn’t come in and just beat them every time on cost and put them out of business.”

    Mr. Orr said there were already signs that the law was working, pointing out that the work-release center in Decatur, about 50 miles to the northwest, was not so long ago unable to find jobs for inmates with poultry processors or home manufacturers. Since the law was enacted in June, he said, the center has been placing more and more inmates in these jobs, now more than 150 a day.

    On Monday morning, one of the poultry processing plants in Albertville had a job fair, attracting an enormous crowd, a mix of Hispanic, black and white job-seekers, lining up outside the plant and down the street.

    “This needed to be done years ago,” Shannon Lolling, 36, who has been unemployed for over a year, said of the law.

    Mr. Lolling’s problem seemed to be with the system that had brought the illegal-immigrant workers here, not with the workers themselves.

    “That’s why our jobs went south to Mexico,” he said. “They pay them less wages and pocket the money, keep us from having jobs.”

    Not far from the plant, in the Hispanic neighborhoods, it is hard to differentiate the silence of the workday, the silence of abandonment or the silence of paralyzing fear.

    Many Hispanics have chosen to stay for now, saying, with little apparent conviction, that the law will surely be blocked by the president, the judge, “the government.” Until then, they are not leaving their homes unless absolutely necessary. They send others to buy their groceries and tell their children to quit the soccer team and to come home right after school.
    Rumors of raids and roadblocks are rampant, and though the new law has nothing to say about such things, distrust is primed by anecdotes, like one told by a local Hispanic pastor who said he was pulled over outside Birmingham on Wednesday, within hours of the ruling. His friend who was driving — and who is in the United States illegally — is now in jail on an unrelated misdemeanor charge, the pastor said, adding that while he was let go, a policeman told him he was no longer welcome in Alabama.

    “I am afraid to drive to church.,” a 54-year-old poultry plant worker named Candelaria said, adding, “The lady that gives me a ride to work said she is leaving. She said she felt like a prisoner.”

    All summer long, Allen Stoner, a lawyer in Decatur, has been helping his Hispanic clients fill out forms appointing friends or family members as guardians of their children, who are in many cases American-born citizens. This way, the children would not be transferred to social services if the parents were arrested and deported.

    Much of this was done by the time the judge’s ruling came down, though last week Mr. Stoner’s clients began to contact him immediately to ask what they should be doing. Monday was quiet.

    “We had a lot of phone calls Thursday and Friday,” Mr. Stoner said, “but it has plummeted.”

    He did not know for sure, but he figured his clients were gone.

    Monday, October 3, 2011

    Pantano for Congress gala Sept. 8 -- Invasion of the Pirates Flotilla and Fireworks during Riverfest!

    Verne Strickland Blogmaster / October 3, 2011

    Pantano For Congress Header
    October 8th Special Riverside Viewing Party for the "Invasion of the Pirates" Flotilla & Fireworks!

    Get "Fired" Up for Pantano for Congress

    You're invited -- be there or walk the plank!

    Come out to Mike McCarley's beautiful riverside garden in Historic Downtown Wilmington to view the "Invasion of the Pirates" Flotilla and Fireworks on the Saturday night of Riverfest and get "fired up" for Pantano for Congress. 

     This will be one of the best spots on the entire riverfront for viewing the flotilla and the fireworks! This is one event you don't want to miss!

    The party will begin at 7:30pm. Light refreshments will be served and the attire is "casual coastal."
    The party will be at the home of Mike McCarly located on the Riverfront in Wilmington at 510 Surrey St.

    To attend there is a minimum contribution of $25 per person. Please RSVP here and to

    Parking is located adjacent to the property on the left,

    Sunday, October 2, 2011

    Steel Frame Inc. sends building materials to Haiti. Wilmington NC company is pioneer in steel frame housing.

    Photo by Mike Spencer

    Friday, Sept. 30, 2011.
    Steel frame Inc. employee Darryl Bennett guides a forklift toward fellow employee Martin Strickland as they prepare to load pieces of the pre-fab, ready-to-assemble building frames onto a truck that are being sent to a still struggling Haiti, a job being funding by a church in Memphis.

    By Laura Moore

    A Wilmington company is helping the people of Haiti rebuild after devastation from a series of natural disasters, using a building material that will withstand future impact.

    Steel Frame Inc. is working with the Church of God in Christ in Memphis, Tenn., to manufacture steel frame packages to build an orphanage, a medical clinic and a dormitory for medical volunteers.
    "We are providing much-needed housing and a much-needed clinic," said Wallace Vanhoy, Steel Frame Inc. founder and CEO. "In order to get people to help there, you need a place for them to stay."
    More than seven miles of steel framing is being loaded and shipped to Haiti, where Vanhoy and his foreman, Martin Strickland, will meet builders from California and church members to oversee the project that should take two weeks to complete.
    Vanhoy designed the machine that digitizes architectural plans then runs the steel through to produce steel frame packages even unskilled laborers can put together.
    "The concept here is that we make it to whatever length is needed, all the service holes are there and all the connection points are already made," Vanhoy said. "There is no measuring, no cutting and no scrap." 
    Each wall of a building comes with an instruction sheet providing the directions for construction.
    "The buildings go together like Tinkertoys," Vanhoy said. "It's like a grownup Erector Set."
    Verne Strickland, spokesman for Steel Frame Inc., foresees steel eventually replacing wood in the residential housing industry.
    The 60,000 pounds of steel is leaving Wilmington by truck to go to Jacksonville, Fla., where it will be shipped to Haiti. It should arrive this week.

    Once the three buildings are complete, Steel Frame Inc. hopes to help the Church of God in Christ rebuild some of the 30 churches it lost in Haiti during last year's earthquake.
    Metro desk: 343-2389   @StarNewsOnline


    Federal judge refuses to block controversial Kansas abortion insurance law.

    Verne Strickland Blogmaster / October 2, 2011

    Kansas Abortion Insurance Law Judge
    ROXANA HEGEMAN / HuffPost  09/29/11 06:10 PM ET   AP
    WICHITA, Kan. — A federal judge has refused to block a new Kansas law restricting insurance coverage for abortions, saying opponents failed to prove their claim that legislators' real intent was to create obstacles for women seeking abortions.

    The law prohibits insurance companies from offering abortion coverage as part of general health plans, except when a woman's life is at risk. Patients who want abortion coverage must buy supplemental policies, known as riders, covering only abortion.

    The ruling means that women seeking an abortion in Kansas will need to buy a rider or pay for the procedure out-of-pocket if their insurance policies are new or were renewed after the law took effect July 1.

    The American Civil Liberties Union sued the state in August, arguing that the law's true intent was to impose an unconstitutional burden on abortion seekers, and asked that the law be put on hold during the court fight.
    U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown rejected the request, saying the ACLU didn't provide evidence that the law "actually has the effect of creating a substantial obstacle to obtaining abortions."

    The ACLU also claimed the law was discriminatory because men can buy a general health plan for all their reproductive needs, but Brown said the group failed to show a likelihood of prevailing on that claim, too.

    But the judge told the ACLU it could try again, noting his decision wasn't a final ruling on the merits of the group's claims. He also ordered an expedited schedule so the case would move more quickly through the courts.

    The law was among several major anti-abortion initiatives approved by Kansas legislators and signed into law this year by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, who called on lawmakers to create "a culture of life" after he took office in January. Supporters of the insurance restrictions contended that people who oppose abortion shouldn't be forced to pay for such coverage in a general health plan.
    "The law appears to rationally further a state interest in allowing the State's citizens to avoid paying insurance premiums for services to which they have a moral objection," Brown wrote in his 19-page order. "Whether the practical effect of the law is to actually create a substantial obstacle is another question, but plaintiff has not attempted in this motion to put on evidence to establish such an effect, and the court expresses no opinion here on that question."

    The Kansas attorney general's office said it was pleased with Brown's decision. The ACLU noted it was only a preliminary ruling and vowed to keep fighting.

    "The state has no business depriving a woman of insurance for vital services that are already covered by most health plans," said Doug Bonney, legal director for the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri. "If a woman and her doctor reach the decision that ending a pregnancy is the right choice for her and her family, she should have the peace of mind of knowing that her insurance will cover all of her medical needs."

    The ruling was a setback for abortion rights advocates, who have successfully blocked enforcement of other new Kansas laws dealing with abortion. Federal judges have temporarily blocked two laws – one dealing with strict abortion clinic regulations and another that strips federal family planning dollars from a Planned Parenthood chapter – pending trial on their constitutionality.
    Brown said the insurance law appears to draw heavily from federal law. He noted that the federal health care overhaul also authorized states to prohibit abortion coverage in policies sold on state-level exchanges, where individuals and small businesses would be able to choose from different health care plans and compare coverage options. The new Kansas law has such a provision.

    As for the ACLU's claim that the law violates its members' rights to equal protection, since men could buy general policies for their reproductive needs, the judge sided with the state. Brown, who at age 104 is the nation's oldest sitting federal judge, agreed that such a contention must be reviewed but said the ACLU didn't provide enough evidence to convince him.

    In a separate case challenging another abortion law, a federal judge refused on Thursday to allow a national anti-abortion doctors' group to join a lawsuit over Kansas' new abortion clinic regulations. The judge said intervention by the by American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists would unnecessarily delay the case, and shot down all of the group's arguments.