Saturday, October 22, 2016

What's Going On in Caldwell County?

Franklin Graham
News arriving from next door in Caldwell: Republican volunteers were apparently handing out sample ballots at Early Voting marked "Christian candidates" and some were overheard claiming that Democrats "support imposing Sharia law in North Carolina."

Deanna Ballard, Franklin Graham's assistant, was appointed to the NC Senate seat (Dist. 45) after Dan Soucek quit -- another Franklin Graham assistant. Deanna Ballard is now listed prominently on that slate of "Christian candidates." Ballard is running for reelection.

Her opponent, Caldwell County Democrat Art Sherwood, issued a statement: "I know the GOP does not hold exclusive ownership of Christianity, because it is my Christian faith that led to me to seek office – proudly as a Democrat .... Since when did lying become acceptable in the Bible?  With the vulgar Donald Trump at the top of the GOP ticket, claims by Republican poll workers that the GOP represents Christian values is laughable.”

Friday, October 21, 2016

Throwing Us a Line

4-hour wait time to vote reported at this
Mecklenburg Co. site yesterday. Very
hot in the sun!
Some people saw the long lines yesterday on the first day of Early Voting as a celebration of democracy. I get that. But I also see those long wait times as the last gasp of voter suppression.

Fact: We have fewer Early Voting sites open right now in North Carolina than were open in 2012. High Point Enterprise reporter Paul Johnson noted that Guilford County voted 11,000 people on the first day of Early Voting in 2012, with numerous polling sites open. This year, the Guilford BOE Republicans opted to open only one site this week. Consequently, early voting on the 1st day in Guilford was down from 11,000 to under 2,000.

The worst reports we've seen are from Mecklenburg County, whose two Republican BOE members are well-documented enemies (scroll down!) of Early Voting. Four hours in line is unconscionable.

It's been the plan all along, IMO. When the Fourth Circuit threw out NC's election law, the ruling left the Republican Boards of Election with fewer arrows in their quiver. Without the suppressive mechanisms of a photo ID, with voting out of precinct restored, and with same-day registration revived, the Republicans were left with the singular tactic of long lines to discourage voting. Long lines because there are fewer early voting sites and reduced hours.

So far, the people look as though they intend to tough it out. Republicans claim that those long lines prove their innocence: "See, we haven't suppressed the vote." I look at those long lines and see an electorate energized against a ruthless power structure.

Yesterday in Raleigh: Shaw Univ. students
waiting to vote early
Notes on Profiling Voters
Not that all those people in line are voting Democratic!

I suspect we all do it: looking at the line of people waiting to vote and wondering who they'll be voting for. Yesterday morning in line I saw some angry faces, set jaws, pissed-off expressions. "Ah," I thought, "Trump voters!" I have noted over the years that conservatives arrive at the polls with a head of steam. You can tell from their faces that they're fuming.

In my experience, Democrats arrive at their civic duty with happier expressions, more open and jovial faces ... except, of course, for the Democrats intending to write in a name not on the ballot.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Liveblog: The Third Presidential Debate

How bad can it get?

Here we go.

Chris Wallace: Supreme Court ... next prez will have appointments to make. Where do you want to see the court take the country, and how should Constitution be interpreted?

Clinton: What kind of country are we going to be? What opportunities, what rights? Court needs to stand on side of people, not on side of powerful corporations. Court needs to stand up for women's rights, minority rights, stand up against Citizen's United. No reversal of Roe v. Wade, no reversal of marriage rights. Senate should do its job and confirm nominee that Obama sent them.

Trump: Supreme Court--it's what it's all about. Justice Ginsberg made inappropriate comments against me, and she was forced to apologize. Uphold the 2nd Amendment. I've named 20 justices that I'd draw my nominees from. They will protect the 2nd Amendment. They will interpret the document the way the Founders wanted it interpreted. The Constitution the way it's meant to be. [Duh.]

Wallace: Quotes Clinton: "The Supreme Court is wrong on 2nd Amendment."

Clinton: I support the 2nd Amendment, understand and respect gun ownership, but also believe there can be reasonable regulations. We lose 33,000 people a year from guns. Close loop-holes that allow people who shouldn't have guns to have guns.

Wallace: How will you insure that the 2nd Amendment is protected?

Trump: Doesn't answer, talks about how "extremely upset" Hillary was over Heller decision.

Wallace: Why do you support a National Right to Carry Law?

Trump: New York has tough gun laws and is one of the most violent cities. We are going to appoint justices that feel very strongly about the 2nd Amendment.

Wallace: Abortion ... Mr. Trump, you're pro-life. Do you want the Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Trump: Roe v. Wade will be overturned if I put two or three justices on the Court.

Clinton: I strongly support Roe v. Wade. Many states are putting stringent restrictions on abortion, defunding Planned Parenthood. I support Planned Parenthood. Donald has said that women should be punished for abortions. Roe says there can be restrictions on abortion so long as the life of the mother is protected. You can regulate if you're doing so with the life and health of the mother in mind.

Trump: Late-term abortion, not okay with me.

Clinton: You wouldn't talk like that if you knew some of the women I've known who've faced those decisions.

Immigration ... Mr. Trump, you want to build a wall, and Mrs. Clinton, you've offered no specific plan for immigration.

Trump: She wants amnesty. Open borders. ICE has endorsed me. Heroin is pouring across our borders. [The snot-nose has returned!] I want to build the wall.

Wallace: Why are you right and Mr. Trump wrong?

Clinton: [She personalizes the issue] ... young woman she knows whose parents are not legal. Donald has said that every undocumented person will have to be deported. Rounding up people and putting them on trains, buses, to ship them out of the country -- think about that. We need to get rid of any violent persons, of course. We are both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. I'll introduce legislation first 100 days with a path to citizenship.

Trump: Clinton wanted a wall in 2006, or thereabouts.

Clinton: Bringing immigrants out of the shadows will be good, so that employers can't exploit them.

Trump: Under Obama, millions of people have been deported. Nobody talks about it. [So he admires Obama?] "Bigly" makes an appearance.

Clinton: We will not have open borders. That is a gross mischaracterization of my plan.

Wallace: Quotes from Wikileaks about a dream of open borders.

Clinton: I was talking about energy, an electrical grid that crosses borders. The Russian government has engaged in espionage against American citizens, given stolen emails to Wikileaks to influence our election. Finally, will Donald Trump admit and condemn the Russian government for their espionage?

Trump: That was a great pivot away from open borders! People are going to pour in from Syria. We are going to stop radical Islamic terrorism. I don't know Putin. He says nice things about me. It would be a good thing if we got along well. We're in very serious trouble. Nuclear warheads, and she's playing chicken. Putin has no respect for our government. No respect for her.

Clinton: That's because Putin wants a puppet for president.

Trump: No puppet! No puppet!

Clinton: [Drills in on Russian espionage.]

Trump: She has no idea who's doing that. No idea!

[Wallace losing control]

Wallace: Mr. Trump, America's top security experts say Russia is behind these attacks. Do you condemn Russia for that?

Trump: Of course I condemn Russia! Putin has outsmarted her every step of the way! Nuclear weapons!

Clinton: Ironic he brings up nuclear weapons, since he's been very cavalier about giving bombs to other countries. He's said, "What's the point of having nuclear weapons if we can't use them?"

Trump: All I said was we have to renegotiate nuclear treaties.

Clinton: Donald wants to tear up our treaties.

Economy. You both have different ideas about getting the economy on track. Mrs. Clinton, you see a bigger role for government. Mr. Trump, you want to give big tax breaks to the rich.

Clinton: Alternative energy ... new sources, new jobs. Small businesses. An education system that prepares our kids. College should be debt-free. We're going to have the wealthy pay their fair share, more contribution from wealthy corporations. Donald's whole plan is to cut taxes, adding $20 trillion to our debt. Trickle-down economics on steroids.

Trump: Her plan is going to raise taxes. It's a disaster. [He goes back to Japan, Saudi Arabia, Korea, Germany]: "They've got to pay up!" They've got to help us out. Trade deals will be renegotiated. Jobs have fled. Cut taxes massively.

Clinton: Let me translate that if I can. He advocates for the largest tax cuts we've ever seen. He'll add $20 trillion to the debt. When my husband was president, we went from a huge debt to a huge surplus. One of the ways we go after the debt is to invest in people, skills, infrastructure. Cutting taxes on the wealthy -- we've tried that. It doesn't work.

Wallace: Mrs. Clinton, is your plan even more of the "Obama stimulus"? [Trump smiling very smugly at that question.]

Clinton: We have to stimulate the economy from the bottom up, not the top down.

Wallace: Mr. Trump, even very conservative economists who've looked at your plan say it doesn't add up.

Trump: The last jobs report was dismal -- I should win easily if that's the last jobs report! NAFTA the worst thing that ever happened to our country.

Clinton: Only one person on this stage has shipped jobs to Mexico. In fact, he's shipped jobs to a lot of other countries.

Trump: If you become president, this country is going to be in some mess!

Clinton: [Does a litany of her last 30 years of advocacy, compared to Donald's being sued for racial discrimination, taking $14 million from his daddy, insulting Miss Universe ... she pushed all his buttons. But he manages to hold it in the road.]

Fitness to be President of the United States. Mr. Trump, you denied that you ever did what you bragged about doing to women. Yet many women have come forward since saying that you did exactly that.

Trump: Those stories have been largely debunked. I don't know those women. It was Clinton who brought all this up. She and Obama have paid people at my rallies to cause violence. I didn't know any of those women. Her campaign did it. She got those people to step forward and she paid people at my rallies $1,500 apiece to cause violence.

Clinton: He's said that he could not possibly have sexually harassed those women because they weren't attractive enough.

Trump: I did not say that.

Clinton: He thinks that belittling women makes him a bigger man. We know who Donald is. It's up to all of us to demonstrate who we are and who this country is. America is great because America is good.

Trump: Nobody has more respect for women than I do, nobody. Those stories have been largely debunked. All of this was started by her and her sleazy campaign. What isn't fiction are the 30,000 emails that she destroyed. That's really what you should be talking about.

Clinton: Every time Donald is pushed on something, he immediately goes to denying responsibility. He never apologizes or says he's sorry for anything. [She runs down the list.] It's not one thing: it's a pattern of divisiveness. That is not who America is.

Trump: She caused the violence at my rallies. I'd love to talk about other things [rather than sexual assault].

Wallace: Mrs. Clinton, you promised to avoid even an appearance of a conflict of interest in dealing with the Clinton Foundation. Can you really say you kept your pledge? Why isn't it "pay to play."

Clinton: I'm thrilled to talk about the Clinton Foundation. It made it possible for 11 million people around the world to get AIDS treatment.

Trump: It's a criminal enterprise. Why don't you give back the money you've gotten from countries that have treated people horribly?

Clinton: Clinton Foundation spends 90% of the money that's donated, giving it to people around the world. I'm happy to compare our work to the Trump Foundation. Who spends big money for a six-foot portrait of himself? Who does that?

Trump: 100% of money in Trump Foundation goes to charity.

Wallace: Didn't some of that money go to settle a lawsuit?

Clinton: There's no way to know anything about his charity because he won't release his tax returns. He hasn't paid a penny in income tax. We have undocumented immigrants who pay more in taxes than this billionaire.

Trump: We're entitled to take all the deductions. If you don't like what I did, you should have changed the law [because a single U.S. Senator can single-handedly change laws!].

Wallace: Will you accept the results of this election.

Trump: I'll look at it at the time. Media has poisoned the minds of the voters. If you look at the voter rolls, you'll see millions of people who are registered to vote who shouldn't be registered to vote. [WTF is he talking about?] She should never have been allowed to run for president because of all the things she's done.

Wallace: It's a tradition in this country that the loser concedes to the winner. Are you saying that you're not prepared to do that?

Trump: I'll keep you in suspense. I'll decide at the time.

Clinton: Every time things aren't going his way, he claims things are rigged against him. Trump University gets sued for fraud, and he claims the courts are rigged. He didn't get an Emmy for The Apprentice, and he claims the Emmys are rigged.

Trump: I hould have won it!

Clinton: He's talking down our democracy, he's denigrating the very foundations of our democracy.

Foreign hot-spots. Ah, ISIS! Something Trump has been totally incoherent about.

Clinton: I'm encouraged that there is an effort, led by Iraqi Army and aided by the Kurds, to take back Mosul. I'm not for using American ground troops. I'm hopeful that the hard work that American military advisors have done will pay off. I'll push for a no-fly zone and safe havens in Syria.

Wallace: Mr. Trump, if we're able to push ISIS out of Mosul, would you be for putting ground troops in there?

Trump: Stupidity of our country. No element of surprise. Only reason they're doing it [Mosul?] is because she's running for president. [WTF?] Iran should write us a letter, "Thank you very much." Iran is taking over Iraq. We shouldn't have been in Iraq. But once we were there, we never should have left.

Clinton: I'm amazed that he thinks the Iraqi government and our allies started this military operation to help me run for president.

Wallace: You were asked about Aleppo in the last debate. You said several things that weren't true. You said it's fallen. [Trump snarls: "Have you seen Aleppo?"] Russia has admitted that they have been bombing and shelling Aleppo. You said they weren't.

Trump: [Wanders down several rabbit holes at once. What is he talking about? Apparently, it's Hillary's fault that so many Syrians are migrating.]

Wallace: You're in favor of a no-fly zone, but Obama has refused to impose one. The generals say we'll be drawn into a war.

Clinton: I'm not going to let anyone into this country who is not vetted.

Trump: Our country is so out-played by Assad, Putin, Iran.

National debt. Both of you are ignoring the problem. Why?

Trump: Because I'm going to create so many jobs! A tremendous economic machine.

Clinton: When did Donald think America was great before? He's been running down this country for decades. He took out a full-page ad when Reagan was president and criticized what Reagan was doing in the same terms he uses against Obama and my husband. He's never thought that anyone was as smart as he thinks he is.

Trump: I disagreed with Reagan very strongly on trade.

Wallace: Biggest driver of our debt is entitlements. Neither of you has a serious plan for dealing with that. Would President Trump make a deal to save Social Security and Medicare by raising taxes and cutting benefits?

Trump: Repeal Obamacare!

Clinton: My plan to raise taxes on the wealthy should replenish Social Security. The Affordable Care Act extended the life of the Social Security Trust Fund.

Clinton closing: I'm reaching out to all Americans. We need everyone to make things work for everyone. I've been privileged to see the presidency up close, and I know the awesome responsibility. I will stand up for families against powerful interests, corporations. I will make sure your kids have good educations.

Trump: She's raising the money from the people she wants to control. [Huh?] We're going to make America great again. [Slogan time!] Police are disrespected. You get shot walking to the store in our cities. All she's done is talk. We're going to make America strong again and we're going to make American great again. We can't take another four years of Obama, and that's what you get with her.

Buck Newton v. Josh Stein for NC Attorney General, guest blogging:


Buck Newton (Tea Party/Republican): and Buck Newton NC on Facebook

Newton graduated from Appalachian State University (sorry about that) with a political science degree and went immediately to work for Jesse Helms. Newton got his seat in the NC Senate during the 2010 Tea Party wave and has held onto it until announcing in late 2015 that he'd be leaving to run for Attorney General.

He made headlines in 2016 by loudly proclaiming his support ("keep our state straight!" he shouted to a rally in Raleigh) for HB2, the "bathroom bill" which has so tarnished the state in more ways than one, and for helping get it passed in a special session of the NC General Assembly.

His support for HB2 prompted this post on a Facebook thread:
I knew Buck Newton when he was in college. He was always very opinionated, angry, looked down on others, always saw things in simple terms, always quick to jump to conclusions, always claimed things were "common sense". He was always very judgmental and used bully tactics on others to make his opinion appear correct. He was always full of confidence based on simple, black and white views of the world. Several of us thought he was an idiot because of his lack of ability to see and understand what was beneath the surface of issues. This bill/law [HB2] sounds exactly like something college-kid Buck would do. Apparently, he has not grown much. There are many smart and wise people in North Carolina who see God's creation as it truly is - a very complicated marvel, so it is absolutely shocking that such a person of low understanding could rise to such power based on such a superficial foundation. Shocking. At one point in time, the earth being flat was "common sense", blacks being inferior was "common sense"... And, here we are... again.
Not for nothing did Buck Newton receive his perfect score from the American Conservative Union. He has voted to prohibit wind farms, to repeal the state's recycling program, to increase sales taxes on working families, and he has a 100% rating from the NRA (among many other things).

Josh Stein (Democrat): and Josh Stein for NC Attorney General on Facebook

Following the Tea Party takeover of the NC General Assembly in 2010, I had a hero in the NC Senate, and it was Senator Josh Stein.

Stein graduated from Chapel Hill High School and lives in Raleigh. He earned his undergraduate degree at Dartmouth College and went on to Harvard Law School and the Kennedy School of Government. He has worked for the Self-Help Credit Union in Durham and the United States Senate. Prior to serving in the General Assembly, Stein spent eight years as North Carolina's Deputy Attorney General for Consumer Protection.

He was elected to the NC Senate in 2008 and has been reelected three more times. When Roy Cooper, his former boss in the Attorney General's office, announced he would be running for governor in 2016, Stein announced for the Attorney General's job. He's immensely qualified, in both character and training.

Stein became my hero in 2013 when he stood up in the NC Senate and denounced the Republican budget proposal which was robbing from public education to pay tax-cut dividends to the one percent. He's also been a champion of abortion rights, and he argued forcefully against the monster election law rewrite that has now been overturned by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals as unconstitutional.

While the North Carolina General Assembly was descending into Tea Party darkness, Josh Stein's light for justice and fair play shone bright on YouTube and gave many of us out here in the world hope that we could turn it all around eventually. Stein is still very much a part of that hope.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Who's the Coolest, Freedom-of-Speech Dude on the Planet? Not Jerry Falwell Jr.

Jerry Falwell Jr.
So this happened in Lynchburg, Virginia, at Jerry Falwell Jr.'s Liberty University.

Falwell became by last summer one of the holiest of Donald Trump's holy choir of evangelical supporters. He spoke on the Donald's behalf at the Republican National Convention.

Then he leaped to Donald's defense after the "grab her by the pussy" videotape. "We've all sinned, blah blah Praise God blah," Falwell said, which didn't in any way impress the actually strait-laced students at his own university.

The strait-laced students began circulating a letter condemning Falwell as a … well, ginormous hypocrite. So Falwell took the opportunity to get all self-righteously self-congratulatory, saying, "It is a testament to the fact that Liberty University promotes the free expression of ideas unlike many major universities where political correctness prevents conservative students from speaking out.”

Yeah, right. Today, news broke that a sports writer for the Liberty University school newspaper had his column spiked -- it won't see print at Liberty University -- by none other than that self-congratulatory prophet of free expression, one Jerry Falwell Jr., because said column by said sports writer expressed the earned experience that he had never in his several years of hearing sexual braggadocio in lockerrooms heard a fellow athlete brag about sexually assaulting women.

That student's revealing piece of prose may not have made it into the Liberty University newspaper, but The Daily Beast has printed the entire text.

McCrory's Lawyer: Yes, Gov. Squishy Has a Weak Hand

In massive release of email -- only took a lawsuit! -- McCrory's general counsel Bob Stephens is revealed to have agreed with some criticism of HB2 but admitted the truth about his boss: What good would it do to veto the law when the Berger-Moore General Assembly would immediately override the veto?

Translation: My boss is weak and ineffectual, but don't blame him for a terrible loss of business in North Carolina.

Berger v. Stephens Court of Appeals Race, guest blogging:


Phil Berger Jr. (Tea Party/Republican): and Phil 4 NC on Facebook

OMG. This guy again. Better fasten what seat belts you can find, because my appraisal of Mr. Berger is going to be a tad bumpy.

Let's get right to the point.

Phil Junior is Daddy's little boy! Phil Berger Sr. is without any doubt the real Republican power in the state of North Carolina, running the NC Senate with an iron hand and treating Gov. McCrory as a mildly tolerable infant. In that role Phil Senior has done everything in his power to make sure that sonny boy gets a seat on the NC Court of Appeals.

But first, Daddy Dearest tried to get his son a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Phil Junior ran in 2014 for the seat vacated by Congressman Howard Coble, backed by wads of money and the full-bore influence of Daddy Phil. What happened? Phil Junior lost the Republican Primary that year, which shocked everyone, not least of whom was his father.

Following quickly that humiliating defeat, Phil Junior got himself appointed to an administrative law judgeship (with daddy's help, we feel certain), earning a cool $100,000 per annum. That job has obviously proven unsatisfying (from a purely partisan perspective), so Phil Junior now has his sights set on bringing his brand of toxic partisanship to the 2nd highest tribunal in the state.

He's running against a good incumbent judge in Linda Stephens, and he's doing it (IMO) to bring the worst conservative instincts into an arena where he can do the most damage.

The final straw in why I can't stand Phil Berger Jr.? Daddy Phil, at the last minute in the short session of the General Assembly this past summer and as President of the Senate, saw to it that the law got changed as regards random "ballot order," insuring that candidates that belong to the same party as the sitting governor get listed first. So now Phil Berger Jr. is listed above Linda Stephens on this November's ballot.

Why does it matter? Numerous studies have shown that being listed first on a ballot can give that candidate at least a slight advantage, especially on down-ballot races like the Court of Appeals race where candidates aren’t as well-known as presidential or gubernatorial candidates.

So, yes, I have absolutely no earthly use for any of the corrupt, puling, manipulative, self-serving and uber-grasping Berger clan. May they all go down in flames. And stay down.

Linda Stephens (Democrat): and Re-elect Judge Stephens on Facebook

Stephens was first appointed to the Court of Appeals by Gov. Mike Easley in January 2006, but lost her seat in the general election of 2006. Easley then reappointed her to the Court of Appeals in January 2007 to fill the seat vacated by the election of Robin Hudson to the NC Supreme Court. Judge Stephens won a full term in the general election on November 4, 2008.

Stephens is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of South Carolina and received her law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She's a progressive and smart judge who has benefited from the endorsements of the NC National Organization for Women, EqualityNC, the Muslim-American PAC, The Black Political Caucus of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys, NC Academy of Trial Lawyers, and NC Association of Women Attorneys.

Her legal career has been a string of firsts: the first female law clerk to Judge Fred Hedrick of the NC Court of Appeals; the first woman associate, and then the first female partner with her law firm; and the first woman to serve as President of the NC Association of Defense Attorneys.

Stephens was named one of the top 50 women lawyers in the state by Super Lawyers Magazine and was listed among the Best Lawyers in America for her last 11 years in private practice. Since joining the bench, she has earned the J. Robert Elster Award for Professional Excellence and Lawyers Weekly’s Women of Justice Award, presented for “leadership, integrity, service, sacrifice and accomplishment in improving the quality of justice and exemplifying the highest ideals of the legal profession.”

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Race for Governor in North Carolina, guest blogging:

Pat McCrory (Republican): and Governor Pat on Facebook

Pat McCrory is the smarmiest car salesman on the lot.

A man who promoted himself in the election of 2012 as a reasonable moderate with a long history of more or less progressive management as mayor of Charlotte, Pat McCrory quickly turned into the weak, feckless doormat for an extremist Republican agenda promoted by more powerful men in the North Carolina General Assembly. Instead of trying to return to the mantle of "moderate Republican" in 2016, McCrory has obviously decided he can only win by grandstanding for the yahoos, aping Donald Trump, defending the indefensible (both HB2 and voter suppression, among other extremist measures), and going full Conservative Prick.

Only problem is he doesn't wear that hard-line mask at all naturally nor comfortably, so he perpetually looks like a man surprised by reality. Plus the real Republican Power in Raleigh -- chiefly Phil Berger, president of the NC Senate -- has consistently treated McCrory like a red-headed step-child, ignoring his meekest requests and full-out running over him when he's in the way. McCrory's vetoes have been overridden by the General Assembly about as often as the Republicans over-rode Democratic Governor Bev Perdue.

In short, McCrory has presided over the worst slide away from forward-thinking progressivism in North Carolina history. We can't retire this colossal failure soon enough.

Roy Cooper (Democrat): and Roy Cooper for NC on Facebook

Remember what I said in Pam's Picks back in 2012 about how important the Governor's race was?:

"Here's the thing: The Party of the Governor controls both the State Board of Elections and each and every North Carolina County Board of Elections. If Democrats do not win the Governorship, and the State House and Senate remain in Republicans hands, get ready for some serious voter suppression in North Carolina. And ASU students can bet their bottom dollar their voting precinct will be removed from the Student Union."

Well, it's certainly been a long three plus years fighting for equal voter protection here in Watauga, hasn't it?

My own greatest hope for the candidacy of Roy Cooper centers on the fact that his election will end organized voter suppression in North Carolina and especially in Watauga County … because his election will end automatically the reign of terror of majority Republicans on county Boards of Election. As we know so well in Watauga, Republicans running election machinery have been far more intent on limiting the vote than in encouraging it.

With Cooper in the governor's mansion, the voter suppression of Stacy C. Eggers IV ("Four") and Bill Aceto, current chair of the Watauga Board of Elections, will be over.

The fact that Cooper is an upstanding and effective Attorney General is just icing on the cake. I have known Roy Cooper since the early 90's, and he is one of the finest people I know. He is strong of character. He has stood up for basic fairness. He has spoken out against the extremist agenda of the General Assembly. He has defended the rights of consumers against predators of various stripes. He warned the Republican Overlords in the General Assembly when they were going too far and then refused to defend their bad laws when the federal courts unanimously ruled them unconstitutional.

This race is really, really important. Remember that on November 8th.

Lon Cecil (Libertarian):

Retired High Point engineer, Lon Cecil is making jobs the focus of his campaign. “We need to bring clean, modern industries to this state that can manufacture goods for energy, transportation and better environmental conditions. It will take more than short-term corporate tax bribes, however.”

Cecil is a newcomer to state-wide electoral politics, so it's unclear whether he might be a spoiler in the hot race for NC governor (though it's generally agreed that he will pull votes from McCrory more than from Cooper). Cecil did put himself into the US House 12th District race in 2010 and considered running again for that House District in 2014 but decided against it. He's a virtual unknown.

Cecil was born in Oklohama and got his degree there in electrical engineering. He's a veteran of the Vietnam War.

An Attack on Democracy Itself

The firebombing of the Orange County GOP office is indeed violence against the very idea of our democracy, and it must be resisted with all of our might. The perpetrators must -- and will -- be caught and punished.

It's salutary that Orange County Democrats immediately raised thousands of dollars to help rebuild that office.