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Morning Memo: Abortion bill back on agenda; McCrory's misfire at Obama

ABORTION BILL IS 'CHRISTMAS IN JULY': The abortion bill resurfaces for discussion in the House on Tuesday after a vocal protest against it a day earlier. (More on Monday's demonstrations below.) So we know what critics say about the abortion bill, but what about supporters? Christian Action League's Rev. Mark Creech is asking proponents to "pray for Christmas in July." On the group's website, he writes: "In all my days, I have never seen a bill so full of good content. I have shared with my friends that the legislation is a veritable Christmas tree of beautiful lights and ornaments representing life, justice and other righteous principles. The only thing missing is the crowning star of final passage and the governor’s signature. For those of us who believe in faith, family, and freedom, this bill is Christmas in July."

McCRORY'S MISFIRE AT OBAMA: Gov. Pat McCrory sought to deflect blame for North Carolina's decision to curtail jobless benefits by pointing the finger Monday at President Barack Obama's administration. The problem is he pointed in the wrong direction. (Read more below.)

***Click below for details about the controversial abortion bill and more North Carolina political news and analysis in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Decorate your tree with a statehouse ornament

Are you obsessed with everything that happens on Jones Street? How about the Legislative Building itself?

If it’s really special to you, consider buying a Christmas tree ornament depicting the home of your General Assembly. The N.C. Museum of History has designed just such an ornament in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the statehouse.

That anniversary comes up in a few weeks, marking the legislature’s move from the State Capitol on Union Square, where it had met since 1840, into the new digs for the 1963 session. It was designed by famed architect Edward Durrell Stone.

The history museum has been designing an annual ornament as part of a series since 1983, focusing on state buildings, symbols and places. This one, made in the U.S.A., depicts the building rendered in color on silver.

They’re selling it for $16. Go to the museum, or its website at http://www.ncmuseumofhistoryshop.com/ornament-series.html.

The guv's staff busy at 'work'

After a long year of "translating" the words of Bev Perdue to an incredulous capitol press corps, the governor's Ministry of Information has made this attempt at holiday humor.

Dome recognizes the fingerprints of once-upon-a-time journalists turned Svengalis Mark Johnson and Ben Niolet all over this poem.

‘Twas the week before Christmas, and under the dome,

The press staff had work to do before they went home.

The news releases were spun by the staffers with care

In hopes that the press corps would reprint and be fair.

The budget writers, though brave, still quaked in their Keds

While visions of money trees danced in their heads.

And Bev in her pantsuit and Bob in his khakis

Announced some new jobs with help from Chris Mackey.

When just down the street arose such a cry

We rushed to the web to investigate why.

“Fetzer’s not here. And Rand’s now with us.

So what in the world could cause such a fuss?”

The lights on our screens lit our faces aglow

As the stories we read told tales full of woe.

For what to our wondering eyes did appear

But 26 more Republicans than we had last year.

Happy Holidays from Bev Perdue

For those who didn't get a copy, here's Gov. Bev Perdue's family holiday card:

Capitol Christmas tree lighting to be held Thursday

Gov. Bev Perdue will host the state's the annual Christmas Tree lighting at about 6 p.m. Thursday on the south side of the old state Capitol.

For those among you who are directionally challenged, that's the side facing Fayetteville Street.

The festivities begin at 5 p.m. with musical performances. The governor and First Gentleman Bob Eaves will hang wreaths on the Capitol’s south doors to begin the official tree lighting ceremony at 6:15 p.m. After the tree is lit, the governor and Santa Claus will read to the children.

The Capitol will also host holiday open houses featuring local performing groups from Thursday, Dec. 9, through Sunday, Dec. 12. Hours are: Thursday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 3 p.m.

Those wishing to attend can contact the state Capitol at 919-733-4994 for more information.

Easley spent weeks on furniture

Gov. Mike Easley's gifts took weeks to finish.

This year, Easley gave his wife, Mary, an elaborate black walnut secretary and a tiger maple dining table for Christmas that he personally made.

A well-known woodworking hobbyist, Easley makes furniture for his wife every year.

Contacted by Dome, woodworker Michael Shelley of Carolina Heirlooms estimated that the secretary would take a professional three to four weeks to complete working full time, and an amateur six months or more depending on their skill level.

He said the completed piece would be worth $8,000 to $12,000.

Shelley said that the table would take a week or less for a professional, and a week or two for an amateur, depending on the equipment they had. He said it would be worth $1,500 to $2,000.

"Keep in mind, wood prices, availability are huge factors in the cost of these items," Shelley said in an e-mail to Dome. "Ask five different furniture makers and you will get five different answers."

Hat Tip: Jay Price

Bush phones the troops

President Bush on Christmas morning called several members of the Armed Forces serving overseas, including two with North Carolina connections, to wish them Merry Christmas and to thank them for their service.

Calling from Camp David, Bush contacted Air Force Staff Sergeant Matt Hise, who is deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan. His mother, Barbra Hise, lives in Raleigh, Rob Christensen reports.

He also telephoned Coast Guard Petty Officer Second Class Larry Ambrose, from Edenton, who is serving at Guantanamo Bay, Cluba.

The president asked each of them to serve as messengers passing along holiday wishes to all the troops, according to the White House. He also thanked the members for their “continued sacrifices that they are making in serving our country overseas, and away from family.”

He called nine servicemen and women.

Ambrose supervises and trains six enlisted personnel. He was recently selected as the Port Security Unit 305 Sailor of the Quarter.

Hise is an Air Mobility load planner who ensures equipment and vehicles are certified for airlift and prepares weight and balance for cargo aircraft.

Easley unveils his 'Cabinet'

Gov-elect Beverly Perdue may unveil her Cabinet next week.

But this week, outgoing Gov. Mike Easley unveiled his cabinet.

That is a black walnut secretary that the governor made as a Christmas present for First Lady Mary Easley, Rob Christensen reports.

Easley’s hobby is furniture making and he makes a present for his wife every Christmas. In addition to the elaborate walnut secretary, Easley also gave his wife a tiger maple found dining table.

The tiger maple used for the dining table was given to Easley by Senate leader Marc Basnight. It caem from Mackey’s Ferry Sawmill in Roper.

NAACP to rally tomorrow

The state NAACP will hold a rally on Christmas Eve.

Rev. Dr. William Barber II, president of the civil rights group, and advocates from the Adelante Education Coalition willrally to express their support for illegal immigrants to attend state community colleges.

In August, the board of directors for the N.C. Community College System voted to keep a ban on admission for undocumented students made earlier this year.

Barber will share the Christmas message from Luke 2:7 in the Bible, in which the baby Jesus is laid in a manger because there is no room at the inn.

A press release for the event says there will be "excellent visuals" for TV and photojournalists, but it does not explain exactly what.

Coble wishes you a merry Christmas

Howard CobleU.S. Rep. Howard Coble is wishing his constituents a merry Christmas.

Every caller to the Greensboro Republican's Washington, D.C., office is greeted with "Merry Christmas and happy holidays, Congressman Coble's office. How can I help you?" 

Spokesman Ed McDonald said the practice starts every year on Dec. 1, at the boss' suggestion.

"He calls me every year around Thanksgiving and reminds me to tell everybody to start saying it again," he said.

McDonald said the holiday greeting has a side benefit.

"It disarms people who are angry," he told Dome. "They call and they're ready to yell at you, and then it kind of throws them back."

It was suggested that the office should come up with more seasonal greetings to offset angry constituent calls. McDonald said there was merit to the idea.

"Maybe happy Fourth of July?" he said.

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