Don’t spend your money where? North Carolina, again

A terrifying article by Jane Mayer in the October 10 New Yorker, called “State for Sale.” The state is North Carolina and Mayer reports, in such nauseating detail I haven’t had the stomach to finish the article yet, on a great NC citizen named Art Pope.

Pope is a rich guy in the Koch Brothers mold. Indeed, he’s a friend of the Kochs. In other words, Pope isn’t content with being rich enough to buy anything he wants. Now he’s jumping on the right-wing bandwagon: he wants to own his very own state.

Pope, through a couple of those “seemingly independent political groups,” one with the attractive name of “Real Jobs NC,” destroyed the political careers of a couple of conservative North Carolina Democrats.

They [his non-profit political groups] do it through smeary attack ads. Really, really smeary. Mayer talks about the ads. That’s when I think I had to take a break for some water. The ads are not only ugly; they are naked lies. And they are successful.

“The attacks just went on and on,” [John] Snow [who’d represented his district in the State Senate for three terms], told [Mayer] recently. “My opponents used fear tactics. I’m a moderate, but they tried to make me look liberal.” On Election Night, he lost by an agonizingly slim margin–fewer than two hundred votes.

Art Pope is the owner of a private company called Variety Wholesalers, a chain of southern and mid-Atlantic discount stores that prey directly on poor people who have little choice about where to shop, and pay their employees less than minimum wage. Sort of everything that stinks about Wal-Mart, cubed.

The Democratic Party better figure out rapidly how to combat these ads. Rapidly, as in yesterday. The ads already handed the North Carolina State Legislature over to Republicans, “for the first time since 1870.”

Let’s not put any more of our money into Art Pope’s pockets. Maybe he’ll try to buy another state.

Often in my life I mentally re-write Richard Pryor’s great great line about cocaine. Now, though, it’s: “Owning a State is god’s way of telling you you’re making too much money.”

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