Durham’s @Jack-Funded Guaranteed Income Program

2021 city elections might be delayed + Trump threatens “danger" over impeachment + study shows limited school COVID transmission + massive hog farm spill + the MAGA extremism of white evangelicals

Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021

Happy Wednesday. By day’s end, Donald Trump will almost certainly become the only twice-impeached president in U.S. history. 

Weather: High of 56, mostly sunny. (WRAL)

Today’s Numbers: 


Average age of potential homebuyers who requested mortgages in Raleigh from Jan. 1 to Dec. 15, 2020, according to LendingTree. (TBJ, sub. req.)

  • In LendingTree’s survey of the nation’s 50 largest metros, Raleigh ranked 30th in the percentage of mortgage requests made by millennials (born between 1981 and 1996). Charlotte ranked 32nd.

  • Average loan request: $256,531.

  • Average down payment: $38,174. 

  • Average credit score: 676.

  • No. 1 on LendingTree’s list: San Jose, California — Silicon Valley — where the average mortgage request was $704,000. 


Percentage of jobs in leisure/hospitality the Raleigh MSA lost between November 2019 and November 2020, compared to 19% statewide and 20% nationally, according to a presentation at a Raleigh Chamber virtual conference on Tuesday

  • Raleigh also lost about 12% in education/health services and 10% in manufacturing. 

  • The MSA saw a 5.4% job loss during the 12-month period, slightly more than the state (4.8%) but less than the country (6.1%).  

Quote of the Day:

“Both parties have extremists. There's a difference in our crazy people and their crazy people. Our crazy people have an excessive amount of arms. They have gun safes. They have grenades. They believe in the Second Amendment. They come here and Trump's made them think this is the Alamo.” — Unnamed GOP lawmaker to Politico

Share PRIMER | North Carolina


1. Trump Threatens “Danger” if Congress Impeaches Him

Yesterday, Donald Trump made his first public appearance since the Capitol riot. He was less than contrite.

  • Trump asserted that his speech Wednesday in which he urged supporters to head to the Capitol had received good reviews. ‘They’ve analyzed my speech and my words and my final paragraph, my final sentence, and everybody just thought it was totally appropriate,’ Trump said.” 

  • Instead, Mr. Trump claimed that racial justice protests over the summer were ‘the real problem.’”

  • Trump: “This impeachment is causing tremendous anger, and you’re doing it, and it’s really a terrible thing that they’re doing. For Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to continue on this path, I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country, and it’s causing tremendous anger.”

  • “When asked directly on Tuesday morning if he would resign with just nine days left in office, Mr. Trump said, ‘I want no violence.’”

If you’re having trouble reading between the lines: Trump, who last week told violent insurrectionists laying siege to the Capitol that he loved them, says impeachment will cause “tremendous danger,” and he won’t resign because he doesn’t want “violence.”

  • House Dems wanted VP Pence to remove Trump via the 25th Amendment. Last night, Pence declined. So the House should vote on Impeachment No. 2 today. 

  • The question is how many Republicans go along. Perhaps more than you think. House Republicans won’t push their members to vote no. 

  • Mitch McConnell is reportedly fine with impeachment: “[McConnell] has told associates that he believes President Trump committed impeachable offenses and that he is pleased that Democrats are moving to impeach him, believing that it will make it easier to purge him from the party.”

—> RELATED: The N.C. State Highway Patrol is investigating Mark Melvin, a Person County master trooper who a) attended the pre-insurrection rally last week, b) called the Black Lives Matter movement a “racist money laundering hate group,” and c) declared that he would not enforce Governor Cooper’s COVID curfew. (WRAL)

2. Durham Might Get a @Jack-Funded Guaranteed Income Program

For decades, both progressives and some conservatives/libertarians have argued for a universal basic income or guaranteed income as a way to alleviate poverty. Several countries and U.S. cities have implemented or piloted UBI programs. Alaska has had a version since 1982. Since 1997, so has the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina. Nixon pushed UBI in the late ’60s before the politics went south. Andrew Yang’s presidential campaign elevated the idea. And in December, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey donated $15 million to Mayors for Guaranteed Income, to which Durham’s Steve Schewel belongs. The city could receive $500,000 from that fund. 

  • Durham has until March to finalize its proposal. Basically, some residents would receive $500 a month or more for a year, no strings attached.  

  • Mark-Anthony Middleton: “This is the poster child of capitalism. And [Dorsey] recognizes that this is a good idea because stable families and children that are fed, and families that are able to meet their basic needs — they represent the future workforce. It’s actually better for business. It’s better for society.” (N&O)

Middleton is right about one thing: While giving away money sounds like capital-S Socialism, there’s a very capitalist reason Silicon Valley loves UBI

What’s the appeal for the plutocracy? For one thing, the system offers a hard budget line: you set the income figure, press start, go home. No new programs, no new rules. It also alleviates moral debt: because there is a floor for everyone, the wealthy can feel less guilt as they gain more wealth. Finally, the U.B.I. fits with a certain idea of meritocracy. If everybody gets a strong boost off the blocks, the winners of the economic race — the ultra-affluent — can believe that they got there by their industry or acumen. 

Put another way: As the world becomes more automated, lower-skilled workers will vanish from the workforce while the uber-rich become uber-richer. Tech overlords see UBI as a way to keep the (proverbial, but maybe literal) guillotines at bay. 

—> RESULTS: What will a guaranteed income do for low-income people?

3. Duke, UNC Study Shows Limited In-School COVID Transmission

A new study from Duke and UNC researchers that tracked 11 North Carolina school districts between Aug. 23 and Oct. 15 found “extremely limited” COVID transmission and no reported cases of child-to-adult transmission.

  • “During our study, counties housing the 11 participating school districts had 1–2 new SARS-CoV-2 infections per 1,000 residents per week; this is considerable community transmission, as reflected by the 773 community-acquired cases. … If secondary transmission were as common in schools as in the community, we would anticipate 800–900 secondary infections within schools; however, only 32 within-school SARS-CoV-2 transmissions occurred.”

—> WHAT IT MEANS: At least in these 11 districts, schools weren’t virus vectors. 

  • Dr. Daniel Benjamin, the report’s lead author: “The worse things get in the community, paradoxically, the greater the advantage to be in a high-compliance area like a school.” (ABC 11)

—> RELATED: Orange County Schools will soon let kindergarteners and first-graders return to the classroom part-time, but other students will wait two months. Wake students go back next week. Durham students won’t until the fall. 

4. Hog Farm Warned, Then Spilled 1 Million Gallons of Shit Into Waterways

Shortly before Christmas, a lagoon at the DC Mills Farms in Jones County overflowed, spilling 1 million gallons of hog urine and feces into the Trent River. But twice in the last year, the farm — which raises hogs for Smithfield Foods — was warned by state regulators that its lagoon was too full, NC Policy Watch reports

  • Smithfield Foods called the event an “extremely rare occurrence.”

5. Will This Year’s City Elections Happen … Next Year?

Later this year, the General Assembly will redraw new congressional and legislative districts ahead of next year’s elections. However, North Carolina’s municipalities are supposed to have elections this fall — which means they’re supposed to redraw their own council districts not only before the elections but three days before the qualifying period for those elections. Here’s where things get dicey — and where §160A-23.1 comes into play.

  • The new districts must be completed by July 23. But the Census Bureau, which is running far behind schedule, might not deliver the data local governments need until July or August.  

  • Redrawing the lines will be complicated enough. But the law also requires “ample opportunities for public input” before a council signs off on new districts.

  • If the council can’t hit the deadline, it can push the election to early next year.

  • H/t elections guru Gerry Cohen



—> Local & State 

  • After Hillsborough passed a nondiscrimination ordinance on Monday, Carrboro followed suit on Tuesday night, and Chapel Hill was set to do so today. (WRAL)

  • N.C. State has declined to take disciplinary action against an employee accused of being a member of the Proud Boys. (N&O)

  • A Phoenix developer paid $4.2 million for the dilapidated, long-closed Capital Plaza Hotel, which it plans to turn into 335 apartments. (TBJ, sub. req.)

  • A passenger on a flight from Charlotte to D.C. got her knickers in a twist after being told to wear a mask and began ranting about “tyranny.” Police escorted her off the plane. (N&O)

  • Faulty rapid antigen tests may be fueling the post-Christmas COVID surge. (NC Health News)

  • Thirty-six Durham firefighters are in COVID quarantine. (CBS 17)

  • He’s barely been in Congress a week and Madison Cawthorn is losing his biggest supporters. (WFAE)

  • The North Carolina Constitution still contains a literacy test, which isn’t embarrassing at all. (Asheville Citizen-Times)

—> Nation & World 

  • A veteran KGB agent now serving as a senior member of Russia’s parliament says Trump should not be impeached. (Twitter, Tass)

  • Three House members tested positive for COVID after some Republicans refused to wear masks while in a secure room during the MAGA siege. (WaPo)

  • The FBI warned before last Wednesday’s insurrection of a “war” looming at the Capitol. (WaPo)

  • The DOJ says it’s investigating sedition and conspiracy charges — including links to foreign and international instigators — in connection with the Capitol insurrection. (WaPo)

  • Members of Congress were briefed on a plan for thousands of armed Trump nuts to surround the Capitol and refuse to let Democrats enter. (CNN)

  • It’s come to this: The Joint Chiefs issued a military-wide memo confirming that Joe Biden will be president and condemning the Capitol riot. (WaPo)

  • The Supreme Court reinstated an FDA rule requiring women to pick up abortion medications in person. (NYT)

  • After a Voice of America reporter asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo whether he regretted saying — after Trump lost the election — that there would be a smooth transition to a second term, the VOA’s director, a former State Department official under Pompeo, reassigned her from the White House. Pompeo, censorious to the last, had just said in a speech that VOA needed to be more positive toward the administration. (NPR

  • The Trump administration will release available doses of the COVID vaccine, partially implementing Biden’s plan a week ahead of time. The administration is also changing its vaccination guidance to recommend giving the vaccine to everyone over 65. (WaPo, NYT)

  • Sheldon Adelson, a casino magnate and GOP financier who was particularly influential on America’s Israel policy, died at 87. (Guardian, NYT)

  • Rick Snyder, the ex-governor of Michigan, is reportedly being charged in the Flynt water scandal. (AP)

  • Someone etched “Trump” into a manatee in Florida. (NBC News)

  • Impeachment isn’t the best way to keep Trump from running from office again, law professors say. Under the 14th Amendment, by a simple majority vote, the House and Senate can declare that he took part in an insurrection and is thus ineligible. (WaPo)

—> Science & Tech 

  • Given early, blood plasma reduces the risk of severe COVID-19. (NYT)

  • The WHO says herd immunity won’t happen in 2021 even with the vaccines. (CNN)

  • Six months after leaving the hospital, Chinese COVID patients are still reporting health problems such as depression, fatigue, and diminished lung function. (NYT)

  • Scientists have been trying to figure out what turns a crowd into a mob for more than a century: “Crowds do not act with one irrational mind. There are many groups, doing different things, for different reasons. That is crucial to understanding how they ultimately behave.” (NYT)

  • GoFundMe has banned fundraisers for travel expenses to potentially violent political events. (CNN)

  • More than two months after the election, Facebook has banned “Stop the Steal” content. (CNN)

  • Facebook says it’s reducing the distribution of articles that do not contain new reporting or analysis. (FB)

  • COVID led to a 10% reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. (NYT)

  • Scientists are looking at a possible mRNA vaccine for multiple sclerosis. (Science Mag via Twitter)

  • Do you have money to burn? Why not buy a $3,000 doggy door? (The Verge)

—> Culture & Entertainment

  • With Fox News losing viewers to Newsmax, Rupert Murdoch is reasserting himself and moving its programming further to the right. (Reliable Sources)

  • Amsterdam’s mayor has proposed banning tourists from its marijuana cafes — then probably watching tourism revenue plummet. (CNN)


1. “The Military Has a Hate Group Problem’

The Pentagon is confronting a resurgence of white supremacy and other right-wing ideologies in the ranks and is scrambling to track how acute the problem has become in the Trump era.

It's an issue that has simmered in the military for years, but is now front and center following signs that former military personnel played a role in the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol last week. …

A 2020 survey found that more than one-third of all active-duty troops and more than half of minority service members reported witnessing first-hand examples of white nationalism or other ideologically-driven racism.

Source: Politico

Ed. note: In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security issued a report about right-wing extremist groups drawing from the military. Republicans accused the Obama administration of conflating conservative beliefs with terrorism, and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano apologized. By 2010, there were no DHS intelligent agents working on domestic terrorism threats. 

2. “How White Evangelical Christians Fused With Trump Extremism”

The presence of Christian rituals, symbols, and language was unmistakable on Wednesday in Washington. … This potent mix of grievance and religious fervor has turbocharged the support among a wide swath of Trump loyalists, many of whom describe themselves as participants in a kind of holy war, according to interviews. …

Oren Orr, 31, an arborist from Robbinsville, N.C., where he goes to Santeetlah Baptist Church, rented a car to drive to Washington. … Mr. Trump could be the last president to believe in Jesus, he said. … As for the ample evidence that many in the crowd were racist, Mr. Orr said, “We get called white supremacists and all this. I have plenty of colored friends. Some of my best friends are from Mexico.”

Source: New York Times