NC residents may find themselves in a “Land of Confusion” come tax-filing time

Taxes

It’s tax-filing time – are you ready?

Yours truly is now officially a contributor to the Independent Journal Review, and my first piece is on the NC tax reform laws that went into effect last year and how, as a result, some residents of this state might be perplexed on how to fill out their state tax returns come tax-filing time.

Very excited for the opportunity to write for the IJ Review! The NY Times did a surprisingly nice profile on them last November – make sure you read it to understand why the site has become a big deal for conservatives, and make sure to bookmark the site and visit back often. :)

Two weeks later, still basking in the #NCSEN afterglow

Tillis wins - News and Record

Headline from the Greensboro (NC) News and Record, 11-5-14

Yeah, so this happened – and it wasn’t even supposed to.

I didn’t have much time to spend at the blog writing about my experiences the last few months of the US Senate campaign battle between (outgoing) Senator Kay Hagan (D) and (now-Senator-Elect) NC House Speaker Thom Tillis (R).  But suffice it to say – if you weren’t paying attention to social media prior to the election – that new media had a LOT to do with driving the narrative and focus of the local and national press in the final couple of months of the campaign, and I was proud to be a part of it alongside some fantastic, never-say-quit people here in NC and elsewhere.

One of these days when I get an extended amount of free time to organize everything (links, etc), I’ll try to write about it here just for the record.  It was truly one of the most stressful things I’ve ever been a part of and – in the end – extraordinarily rewarding.  As the headline above notes. ;)

#NCSen’s Hagan unknowingly blames Dems – & herself – for “worst state for teachers” report

Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC)

Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) faces a tough re-election battle this year.

As we near the final few weeks of one of the most hotly contested Senate races in the US – right here in North Carolina, social media messaging becomes more and more crucial for candidates as they continue their quest to win over undecided/unaffiliated voters in order to cross the finish line first in November. In the case of incumbent Senator Kay Hagan, the vast majority of the time that “messaging” boils down to falsehoods, half-truths, personal attacks on character, and grossly taking her opponent – GOP nominee and NC House Speaker Thom Tillis – grossly out of context.

Today, she managed to combine several of her typical tactics into standard anti-Tillis tweets – except this time she inadvertently slammed … herself and her fellow NC Democrats.

As of this writing, here are the two tweets:


And:


Here’s the “write-up” on her campaign website:

GREENSBORO – Speaker Thom Tillis’ dangerous education agenda slashed $500 million from public education in order to give tax cuts for the wealthy, so it unfortunately comes as no surprise that a new report ranks North Carolina as the worst state for teachers. Those education cuts have put the squeeze on teachers who are dealing with larger class sizes, fewer teaching assistants and outdated supplies that have left them dipping into their own pockets to stock their classrooms.

From the Greensboro News & Record:

Among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, North Carolina ranks as the worst state for teachers, according to a new ranking by WalletHub.

The personal finance website analyzed data along 18 categories to come to its rankings.

The metrics it looked at included looks at states’ median starting salaries, unemployment rates and teacher job openings, among other factors.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

But what Hagan doesn’t tell you – perhaps intentionally, or perhaps it was out of sheer ignorance (my vote is for the latter) – are these pesky little details, as reported by Charlotte-based news outlet WCNC (bolded emphasis added by me):

The company looked at things like starting salary, per pupil spending and the 10-year change in teacher salaries from 2003-04 to 2013-14.

[…]

“The NC rank was affected mostly by the level of salaries that teachers have in NC and related indicators (starting salary, salaries increase over the last decade etc.),” Raz Daraban, communications manager for WalletHub said via email. “Other factors that had a negative impact were the low annual state and local expenditures for K-12 public schools per student and the best schools ranking.”

The analysis did not take into account the teacher raises that were approved this summer by state lawmakers.

What does all that mean? Well, a number of important things:

1) The ranking was “mostly affected” by salaries and their increase “over the last decade” – which, as NC education guru Terry Stoops notes means SEVEN of the TEN years of the report, the NC state legislature (known here as the General Assembly) was controlled by … Democrats, including then-state Senator Kay Hagan:

The “survey” is a series of rankings developed by Richie Bernardo, who is a financial writer at WalletHub.com and appears to be a nice young man. In fact, one wonders why the reporter did not ask Mr. Bernardo to comment on the ranking. After all, he did ask three liberals – State Superintendent June Atkinson, Progress NC’s Gerrick Brenner, and N.C. Association of Educators president Rodney Ellis – to use the survey as a platform to bash state legislators and Republicans. To respond to their charges, he interviewed one person – Tom Murry, a Republican representative from Wake County. To add insult to injury, the reporter repeatedly misspelled Rep. Murry’s last name.

I will not get into too much detail about the arbitrariness of the methodology or the sources used. (For an excellent overview of both, read this article from the Daily Haymaker.) The survey itself examined changes in per-pupil spending and teacher pay over ten years. Republicans have been in charge of the legislature for four years but most of the data sets used by Mr. [Richie] Bernard[o] lag by at least one year. As a result, it represents three years of legislative control by Republicans and seven years of control by Democrats. Given that fact, an honest liberal would have observed that Republicans and Democrats share the blame in stunting school funding growth.

But honesty, among other virtues, is usually in short supply during election season.

2) As pointed out above in the WCNC piece (and what should have been obvious, considering the years they reviewed), WalletHub’s analysis didn’t include the 7% increase in teacher pay raises that were passed by the GOP-led NC General Assembly over the summer. Keep in mind, too, that some of the statistics for the report were compiled with information provided by the National Education Association – hardly a non-partisan organization. So exactly how much weight should be given to its “findings” in the scheme of things?

FULL WEIGHT, according to the Hagan campaign – and their faithful supporters on social media, who have also been dutifully passing along links to articles about the report and doing just as Hagan did, blame Tillis reflexively rather than carefully read and analyze the articles and report linked. But since we’re supposed to take this report as the “gospel truth according to Kay and Co,”, we’ll run with the stats in it – just for the sake of argument. You know, argue on their terms.

Not surprising that Senator Hagan and her campaign team apparently didn’t read the fine print on what’s been published by mainstream outlets about this report, when you consider that the most disastrous legislation that passed in modern history – Obamacare – wasn’t read in full by most Democrats who voted for it, either.

Including Senator Hagan who, ironically, brags of helping craft the bill that eventually forced nearly 475,000 North Carolinians off of health insurance plans they liked – in spite of Hagan’s some 24 promises to the contrary.

As they say, some things never change …

#NCSEN: GOP nominee Tillis fires back over Hagan’s “mansplaining” nonsense

Thom Tillis

North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis

Really happy to see Thom Tillis push back on the phony, desperate “war on women” rhetoric coming from the Kay Hagan campaign:

WILSON, N.C. — Thom Tillis, the Republican running for a North Carolina Senate seat that could well decide the majority in the Senate, has been pilloried since last week’s debate by Democrats who see him as a condescending “man-splainer” who played into gender stereotypes.

But in his first comments on the controversy, the Republican state House speaker was unrepentant in a sit-down interview on the campaign trail, chalking up the firestorm to Democrats playing gender politics to boost Sen. Kay Hagan.“It’s just silly,” he said during a lunch stop this weekend with supporters over barbecue, fried oysters and chicken livers. “We’re talking about the future of the greatest nation on the earth, and this is what we’re going to?”

In a state that’s become ground zero this cycle for Democrats “war on women” strategy, the debate served as a flashpoint. There’s no race in the country where the gender gap is more pronounced than North Carolina — a must-win state for both parties. Democratic women’s groups Planned Parenthood and EMILY’s List have already announced their biggest 2014 investments will be in the Tar Heel State, where there are 500,000 more women registered to vote than men.

Polls have shown the race locked in a dead heat even with the wide gender gap. A USA Today/Suffolk University poll — conducted in August, before the first debate — had Hagan up 18 points among female voters and Tillis leading by 12 points among men.

The attacks began after Tillis, in a paid advertisement, jabbed at the incumbent, a former bank vice president, saying “Math is lost on Sen. Hagan.” Then, in last week’s debate, in which the Republican appeared better prepared overall, Tillis referred to her as “Kay,” even though she continued to refer to him as “Speaker Tillis.”

“We saw women on social media in particular who were bothered by his tone and more than anything they were bothered by his record,” said Sadie Weiner, spokeswomen for Hagan.

Tillis dismissed the criticism.

“I knew Sen. Hagan when she was in the state legislature. I knew her husband Chip. This race isn’t about titles. It’s about results,” he said. “And in Sen. Hagan’s case, it’s a lack of results. If you look at it just objectively, if that is what the Hagan’s camp is focusing on in this debate, then they must have really felt in their own minds that they fell short on the issues. If it really comes down to that — I mean what about the substance of the debate?

Amen.

As a side note, what Ms. Weiner won’t tell you is that the much of the “outrage” over the alleged “mansplaining” that was seen on social media last Wednesday during and after the debate came from … political operatives like herself, and state-wide media allies who (unsurprisingly) eagerly jumped on the “Tillis was being mean!” bandwagon.  As a general rule, once the media validates a particular “criticism”, there is a snowball effect with others who may not have necessarily seen it that way then falling in line with the prevailing – but false – narrative.

Tillis is right – if ridiculous charges of “mansplaining” are the best Team Hagan could do coming out of last week’s debate, it kind of tells you how badly they think she did, which is why they want you to focus on the sideline noise they’re drumming up about sexism which – ironically, is what they themselves are guilty of.  You can’t make this stuff up, folks.

NFL Sunday Football Open Thread: #Panthers at the Bucs

Carolina Panthers

Grrrrrowwwlll!

The first game of the 2014-2015 NFL regular season for the Panthers is against the Tampa Bay Bucs this afternoon, and the big news of the day so far is the announcement that QB Cam Newton has been listed as “inactive”:

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will miss his first regular-season game as a professional Sunday after the Panthers placed him on their inactives list before Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay.

Derek Anderson, who has been Newton’s backup for three years, will be the starter.

Newton has cracked ribs that he suffered two weeks ago in an exhibition. He did not practice until Thursday, though it was in a limited capacity. Newton threw more than the team expected Friday, but Ron Rivera and team officials decided the risk was too great for Newton to play Week 1.

Joe Webb will be the backup quarterback. This is Anderson’s first start for the Panthers and his first career start since the 2010 season when he was with Arizona. Anderson did not throw a pass in a game last season in four appearances.

Get well soon, Cam.

Game time today is 4:25, and the game will be broadcast locally on Fox.