Monday, June 16, 2014




NOT FOR SPEAKER TILLIS - As over 1500 Moral Monday protesters demonstrated at the NC Legislative Building Monday, some held signs opposed to House Speaker Thom Tillis [photo courtesy of George Frazier]

by Cash Michaels
             Saying that NC House Speaker Thom Tillis “…is the advocate for the Tea Party…” who is engaged in “…an effort to divide and conquer, and try to separate groups of people,” Democratic Congressman G. K. Butterfield has blasted the Republican US Senate candidate for remarks made during a 2012 televised interview where Tillis said that while the black and Hispanic populations in North Carolina were growing, “…the traditional population of North Carolina and the United States is more or less stable.”
            Many critics have interpreted Speaker Tillis’ “traditional population” remark as another way of saying “white people,” given that he referenced black and Hispanic populations in North Carolina first. Some political observers charge that the term was not only a way to communicate to his conservative base, but to some extent, “other” blacks and Hispanics as not being fully invested in the principles and values that Republicans uphold.
            It’s a tactic that Republicans have nationally used against President Obama, and against the black community when discussing poverty.
“Well I don’t know what Speaker Tillis is talking about when he refers to ‘traditional’ voters or ‘traditional’ citizens,” Congressman Butterfield [D -1-NC] said during a phone interview with The Carolinian from Washington, D.C.  Tuesday. “We’ve got 9 million people in North Carolina, and all of them are equal, and hopefully anyone who can participate in the political process, does participate.”
 “To try to classify someone as traditional versus nontraditional, is an effort to divide and conquer, and try to separate groups of people,” Butterfield continued. “I deplore that type of politics, and I would call on Thom Tillis to never do that again, and understand that every North Carolinian is equal, and all of us are traditional.”
It was during a 2012 appearance on the television program “Carolina Business Review” when host Chris William asked Tillis about changes in the Republican Party.
When you see this shift that Hispanics used to be in the Republican Party and now they're clearly on the other side of the aisle —when you see all of these things that have transpired, what do you think about? What is going on in the Republican Party?,” William asked Tillis.
Well I think it has more to do what's going on in the demographics of this country and recognizing that and then having a platform and a message that resonates,” Speaker Tillis replied. “If you take a look, you mentioned the Hispanic population —the African American population, there's a number of things that our party stands for that they embrace. I think we have to do a better job of communicating it. I think we have to do a better job of being out there in-between elections, garnering support for the things that we're trying to advance. And I think that we need a focus on limited government and free markets which is something that's appealing to everybody. That kind of work will position us for those growing sectors.”
Then, instead of plainly stating the fact that North Carolina’s white population is not growing, thus the reason the GOP must compete for the black and Hispanic vote, Tillis says, “The traditional population of North Carolina and the United States is more or less stable. It's not growing. The African American population is roughly growing but the Hispanic population and the other immigrant populations are growing in significant numbers. We've got to resonate with those future voters.”
The CBR host never followed up for clarification from Tillis about exactly what “traditional population” meant.
The Tillis for Senate campaign this week explained their candidate’s interesting choice of terms as no big deal.
"Traditional" North Carolinians refers to North Carolinians who have been here for a few generations," Tillis campaign Communications Director Daniel Keylin told the website Talking Points Memo, which broke the story. "A lot of the state's recent population growth is from people who move from other states to live, work, and settle down in North Carolina. Thom Tillis for example."
The problem with Keylin’s explanation is that African-Americans, because of slavery, have been part of the “traditional” population of North Carolina since “…its settlement by Europeans in the late 1600’s and early 1700’s,” according to UNC – Chapel Hill’s School of Education. History records how slaves were instrumental in helping to build North Carolina and its economy, and how after the Civil War, fought and died for civil rights, and were elected to office in the succeeding centuries.
Factually and historically, observers say, blacks cannot be reasonably denied their inclusion as part of North Carolina’s “traditional” population.
That is, unless Thom Tillis was indeed employing a political code.
According to the website, Right-wing, a project of the nonprofit progressive group, People for the American Way, “Tills made the remarks while discussing the need for the Republican Party to reach out to and appeal to non-white voters — but the phrase “traditional population” as a euphemism for white Americans was lifted right from the racist, anti-immigrant fringe.”
The website then provides links to conservative authors and white supremacist groups, all of whom who use the term to illustrate how the rights of white Americans were being either threatened or diminished by blacks, Hispanics, and even President Barack Obama.
“Immigration reform [will] lead to situations where traditional Americans, like those that have been here for hundreds of years in descendancy, will no longer govern our own nation,” wrote William Gheen, leader of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC.
In October 2009, conservative columnist and former Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan wrote of angry white Americans in a piece titled, Traditional Americans Are Losing Their Nation, “America was once their country. They sense they are losing it. And they are right.”
Critics say that Republican Tillis is speaking to that same sentiment when he employs the “traditional population” reference in referring to white demographic stagnation. In fact, this is at least the second time Tillis has been accused of playing various groups against each other.
In 2011, the Mecklenburg County Republican was taped telling a predominately-white gathering at a local restaurant, “What we have to do is find a way to divide and conquer the people who are on assistance. We have to show respect for that woman who has cerebral palsy and had no choice in her condition, that needs help and we should help. And we need to get those folks to look down at these people who choose to get into a condition that makes them dependent on the government and say, ‘At some point you’re on your own. We may end up taking care of those babies, but we’re not taking care of you.’”
Speaker Tillis later apologized for those “divide and conquer” remarks, but now, his “traditional population” comments have stirred the hornets’ nest back up.
“This is offensive, but it’s what we’ve come to expect from Speaker Tillis as he forces his ‘divide and conquer’ strategy on North Carolina,” said Ben Ray, a spokesman for Democratic Party’s Forward North Carolina.  “North Carolinians deserve better than Thom Tillis’ growing record of divisive rhetoric and dangerous policies.”
The controversy has even reached the national press, with MSNBC commentator Rachel Maddow suggesting this week that there may be more bad stuff from Speaker Tillis we’ve yet to see.
Now Thom Tillis has also been dug up on tape explaining who exactly he considers to be a traditional North Carolina voter, the Thom Tillis-Kay Hagan Senate race just got tilted in a pretty significant way,” Maddow said on her show Tuesday night. “What else is out there that still hasn’t come out?”
Congressman G. K. Butterfield agrees, charging that Tillis is divisive in his words, and his public policy.
            “Well I’ve been watching the wrecking ball that has been occurring at the General Assembly since he became speaker, and it is  wrecking ball – there’s no other way to describe it,” Butterfield told The Carolinian. “[Tillis] is the advocate for the Tea Party, and the Tea Party has as its agenda to dismantle social programs, and to remove the social safety net that so many low-income families depend on. He is anti-education – I don’t understand that about his agenda – the fact that he’s willing to cut nearly $500 million out of the education budget, but at the same time try to lower taxes on his rich friends, and raise taxes on middle-class families. It just makes no sense to me.”
            Taking dead aim at Tillis campaign to unseat incumbent Democratic Senator Kay Hagan, Butterfield added, “If he’s elected to the United States Senate, he’s going to be a part of this right-wing Tea Party agenda, and that is to reduce the size of government, and thereby hurt ordinary, hardworking families.”



            Wake County commissioners have approved a $1.066 billion budget for the next fiscal year that raises property taxes 4.4 cents to 57.8 cents per $100 property evaluation. The new budget also designated $3.75 million in taxes on alcohol for teacher pay increases. However, Wake School Board leaders say the increase from the Commission Board is a far cry from the $29.1 million pay plan that the school board originally requested.

            Nineteen people, including two nationally known labor leaders from out-of-state, were arrested Monday during the latest Moral Monday demonstration at the NC Legislature. J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, and Bryan DeWyngaert, the AFGE’s chief of staff, were among those charged with misdemeanor trespassing and taken to jail. Last week, Superior Court Judge Carl Fox temporarily struck down some of the new building restrictions implemented against Moral Monday protesters, ruling that they were “too broad.

            The Durham City Council is apparently taking allegations of racial bias and abuse on the part of the Durham Police Dept. seriously enough to order City Manager Tom Bonfield to oversee the implementation of policies to address citizen concerns. The change in direction is based on citizen complaints, and a report from the Durham Human Relations Commission confirming incidents of police racial bias and abuse. Bonfield says it will take 60 days to implement the recommendations.



            [FAYETTEVILLE] The Acting Veterans Affair Secretary came to inspect the Fayetteville VA Medical Center last week in light of reports of long wait times and poor service, and promised $7.4 million will be spent to correct the issues.  Secretary Sloan Gibson. An internal audit revealed that the average wait time for an initial primary care appointment was 83 days, making the Fayetteville VA the third worst in the nation for wait times that should take no longer than 14 days. Gibson said a lack of space at the facility, and losing physicians were the two biggest problems.

            [RALEIGH] As expected, the NC Senate greeted the recently passed $21 billion budget by the NC House with skepticism, ultimately voting to reject it unanimously. Of note, senators questioned the wisdom of funding teachers’ pay raises with proceeds from the NC lottery, especially when lottery officials say House revenue estimates are over $40 million beyond their projections. The Senate also had problems with the House underestimating Medicaid gaps by as much as $250 million. The Senate budget proposal cut 12,000 elderly and disabled people from Medicaid in addition to slashing programs. It also gave teachers an eleven percent raise, but slashed 7400 teacher assistants from the education budget.

            [RALEIGH] State Democratic Party Chairman Randy Voller has found himself in hot water again, apologizing to 2016 gubernatorial candidate Ken Spaulding after Voller reportedly introduced state Attorney General Roy Cooper as “…the next governor.” Spaulding and Cooper will be locked into a Democratic primary, and the state party chair normally tries hard not to endorse a candidate until after a primary winner has been declared. Voller has apologized to Spaulding for the gaff, saying that introducing Cooper, he “…got caught up in the moment.”

By Cash Michaels

            BOY, WAS I WRONG! – Last time I wrote, with confidence mind you, that the NBA Finals would go six or seven games, and that the Miami Heat would be victorious, winning their third championship in a row.
            I wrote that on the basis of the second game of the series, when LeBron and the boys beat the San Antonio Spurs at home in San Antonio in convincing style. Given how Miami had played in Game One in San Antonio before the high indoor temperatures forced LeBron James to cramp up and crap out, I was convinced that the Miami Heat would be able to weather anything that San Antonio threw at them, and hold onto their championship trophy for a third year.
            Well, here is it, a week later, and the NBA Finals are not only finished already at five games, but San Antonio took four of those five  in commanding fashion.
            And I do mean COMMANDING.
            That second game I based my ill-advised conviction on was the only game the Heat would win. Little did I realize that the San Antonio Spurs were on a bloodlust mission not only to win the championship they were deeply hurt to lose a year ago, but they also sought revenge against the team who denied them that crown last year.
            The end result this year were three straight games of complete domination by the San Antonio Spurs over the Miami Heat.
            Let me put this another way….LeBron and company had no idea what hit them Sunday night in San Antonio, nor the two previous games. The Spurs were indeed masterful in their execution of every phase of the game. And most importantly, they played as a team, with every member on the floor contributing in passing, defense, and scoring.
            That’s where Miami screwed up big time. When they want to, Miami can play great defense, but when all five Spurs on the court are capable of either driving to the basket, or shooting mid-range or three-point shots, then Miami, or any other team, for that matter, is going to have a problem.
            Miami had a bigger problem, though. With the exception of LeBron, no one else on the Heat squad could score. Yes the Spurs played tremendous defense, but Miami had great looks when their best players shot the ball, and couldn’t  whip the bucket. If they did, it would have made each game as close as possible, dependent on whatever run either team could put together in the final moments to win by a hair.
            Instead, the Spurs blew Miami out the last three games by at least twenty points each, all because Heat shooting dried up, and Heat defense couldn’t stop the Spurs’ scoring machine.
            That’s a tribute to San Antonio Coach Greg Popovich. Yes he’s gruff like a hard-nosed Marine, but what I’ve also seen of the man is he has heart, class and conviction. He cares about his players, and he cares about the game. You won’t catch “Pop” saying anything bad about the opposing team, and he insists that his players respect their opponents by playing clean and fair.
            And that’s what made an otherwise disappointing NBA Finals this year worthwhile for me. Yes, the Miami Heat got beat, and I mean REALLY beat. But they lost to a truly class act. The San Antonio Spurs were not only worthy opponents, but they were opponents with skill and class. They earned the championship this year, and rightfully so.
            So, to all of the Miami Heat fans, our team got their butts kicked royally, and there’s no sense trying to deny it.
            And to you Spurs fans, I hope you possess even one-tenth of the class that Coach Pop and the team have, because if you don’t, you’re not doing the legend of the San Antonio Spurs any favors.
GOODBYE, QUEEN MOTHER DEE – Last week came word of the death of veteran actress Ruby Dee at the age of 91.
Dee was the wife of another veteran black actor, the legendary Ossie Davis, who died in 2005. The couple were married for more than 50 years, and appeared in numerous stage productions and motion pictures together.
Indeed one of the most prominent films Dee and Davis costarred in was Spike Lee’s 1989 classic, “Do the Right Thing.” By coincidence, the film was showing on cable the very afternoon Ruby Dee’s death had been reported, so I made it a point to sit down with my eleven-year-old daughter, KaLa, to watch it. It gave me an opportunity not only to show her the fine work of Ruby Dee, but also explain some of the racial tensions in New York City that the film so accurately portrayed.
Ruby Dee was nominated for an Academy Award in 2007 for “American Gangster” opposite Denzel Washington, where she portrayed his mother. Back in the late 1970’s, she costarred opposite Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier in one of my favorite films, “Buck and the Preacher.”
In 1950, one of her first film roles was as baseball legend Jackie Robinson’s wife in the film, “The Jackie Robinson Story” opposite Robinson himself. Years later, audiences were mesmerized by her riveting performance in stage and screen versions of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun.”
Her acting career spanned over 70 years, but forget that Ruby Dee was also a prominent civil rights activist, speaking out for equal rights, and joining with Her husband and other black celebrities in supporting Dr. Martin Luther King’s movement.
Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis won many top awards together, and their work is even respected by new generations who continue to discover their artistry on film and on television.
Queen Mother Ruby Dee was truly one of the greats of stage, screen and television. Thank you, and your husband Ossie, for all of your great work. 
CASEY KASEM – I once directed popular radio announcer Casey Kasem back in 1988 over the phone in doing a campaign commercial for Rev. Jesse Jackson’s second run for the presidency. Seriously, in fact, I directed both Kasem and Bill Cosby separately. And I still have those tapes.
Kasem, the founder of the nationally syndicated radio program “America’s Top Forty,” was a broadcast pioneer who specialized in big voices and big personalities. Generations of kids grew up listening to him until his retirement in 2003. Kasem also voiced many cartoon characters as well.
            Casey Kasem died last weekend after a long illness, and many in the broadcast world took time to pay tribute to him. He certainly blazed a path.
Make sure you tune in every Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. for my talk radio show, ''Make It Happen'' on Power 750 WAUG-AM, or online at And read more about my thoughts and opinions exclusively at my blog, ‘The Cash Roc” (
Cash in the Apple - honored as the Best Column Writing of 2006 by the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Columnist Cash Michaels was also honored by the NNPA for Best Feature Story Journalist of 2009, and was the recipient of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP’s President’s Award for Media Excellence in Sept. 2011.
Until next week, keep a smile on your face, GOD in your heart, and The Carolinian in your life. Bye, bye.


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