Thursday, November 23, 2017

Have a Hearty Thanksgiving, Texas! Here's Your Turkey

Give a man vast political power and a computer, he'll get himself into trouble every time:
"The woman described encounters and contact spanning a five-year period that began online after she posted a message on [Texas Representative Joe] Barton’s Facebook page in 2011, leading to the sexually explicit exchanges and ultimately a pair of physical sexual encounters in Washington and Texas. Over time, she said, she became aware of and corresponded with multiple other women who engaged in relationships with Barton, who represents a suburban Dallas district and is one of the most senior Republicans in the House....
"In the 2015 phone call, Barton confronted the woman over her communications with the other women, including her decision to share explicit materials he had sent. In that context, he mentioned the Capitol Police, a comment the woman interpreted as an attempt to intimidate her.
“ 'I want your word that this ends,' he said, according to the recording, adding: 'I will be completely straight with you. I am ready if I have to, I don’t want to, but I should take all this crap to the Capitol Hill Police and have them launch an investigation. And if I do that, that hurts me potentially big time.'
“ 'Why would you even say that to me?' the woman responded. 'The Capitol Hill police? And what would you tell them, sir?'
"Said Barton: 'I would tell them that I had a three-year undercover relationship with you over the Internet that was heavily sexual and that I had met you twice while married and had sex with you on two different occasions and that I exchanged inappropriate photographs and videos with you that I wouldn’t like to be seen made public, that you still apparently had all of those and were in position to use them in a way that would negatively affect my career. That’s the truth.' ”
Mike DeBonis and Elise Viebeck, "Congressman on tape tells woman he would report her to Capitol Police because she could expose his secret sex life"

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Those Masters of "Branding"

That stain on the South Dakota landscape is the Keystone Pipeline
spill of over 200,000 gallons of oil

Thank you, Secretary Mnuchin, for your service, and
Mrs Mnuchin, for your duck face 

Our all-time favorite self-branding moment
from the first year of The End of Decency

"Suffer little children to come unto me"

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

BREAKING NEWS: Nathan Miller/Anne Marie Yates Intend to Appeal Watauga BOE's Vote Yesterday

File this one under "Lengths To Which They're Willing To Go."

Anne Marie Yates's lawyer Nathan Miller has informed the Watauga Board of Elections that he will be appealing the BOE's unanimous rejection of Yates's election protest and her demand for new municipal elections in Watauga.

The appeal must go to the State Board of Elections, which currently does not exist. If the Yates-Miller team are willing to appeal to a non-existent board after losing the vote of Bill Aceto locally, then they're no doubt quite willing to sue in the Wake County Superior Court.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Virginia Foxx and Her Republican Pals Have Shown Their True Colors

The TV ad below -- aimed specifically at the vote of a Maine Republican on the hose-the-middle-class tax plan recently passed in the US House -- is about to be duplicated in some 25 Republican House districts with large numbers of white voters who had previously voted for Obama but who opted for Trump in 2016.

The ad probably won't be shown in Foxx's 5th Congressional District, though it ought to be.

The ad was created and paid for by Not One Penny, "a campaign launched by progressive groups to oppose all tax cuts for millionaires, billionaires, and big corporations."
The ad hits two messages: GOP changes to the tax code are enormously regressive, showering most of their benefits on the wealthy while giving crumbs to working- and middle-class Americans (or even raising their taxes). These tax cuts will necessitate big cuts to the safety net later — the ad references $25 billion in Medicare cuts that could be triggered by the GOP plan’s deficit busting — further compounding the GOP agenda’s regressiveness down the line.

BREAKING: Watauga BOE Rejects the Republican Election Protest

This morning and on the motion made by Chair Bill Aceto, the Watauga Board of Elections voted unanimously to reject the elections protest filed by Anne Marie Yates and Nathan Miller.

Once the decision is signed (later today?), the Yates-Miller team will have 24 hours to give notice to the BOE if they intend to appeal.

With the unanimous vote this morning, a successful appeal becomes more remote, but motivated by a cabbage worm's desire to ruin the whole cabbage, Yates-Miller may appeal anyway.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

If You're a Republican Governor, You'd Be a Fool To Ignore the Early Warnings

"Are you ready for more Trump in 2018,"
VP Mike Pence asks Republican governors
gathered in Austin
The very recent gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey, not to mention the revolt of Republican suburbs everywhere, seems to have caught the attention of members of the Republican Governors Association. Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns published leaked behind-the-scenes info from the recent meeting of the guvs in Austin, and it makes for fun reading.

But first, some hard facts. In 2018, these are the states with retiring or term-limited incumbent Republican governors. In other words, these will be open seats:
New Mexico
South Dakota
In 2018, these states have Republican incumbents who are eligible for re-election (and coincidentally, just as eligible for defeat):
New Hampshire
South Carolina
By my count that's some 26 governorships the Republicans have to run for with their president under water with the public. Hence, the big question in Austin among the state executives, according to Martin and Burns -- "Do we Trump, or do we not Trump?"

"A sense of foreboding hung over the group’s gathering" as governors contemplated having that punctured parade float into their states to campaign for them or for their anointed replacements. Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee says no definitely not (and he might have added, "I told you so," because he didn't vote for Trump last fall): “I do think Virginia was a wake-up call. There’s a pretty strong message there. When Republicans lose white married women, that’s a strong message.”

An unspecified but apparently significant number of Republican governors "from agricultural and auto-producing states" warned that Trump's bombing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) could/would hurt Republican chances in their states.

Another smart warning, based on the dismal failure of Republican Ed Gillespie in Virginia: You can't (as in cannot) embrace Trump’s divisive messages on immigration, crime, and Confederate “heritage” but dance around whether you actually support Trump. Trumpism without Trump does not work.

“You can’t be halfway in and halfway out,” said Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi.

Gov. Haslam: “If you try to wear somebody else’s clothes, they never fit."

Gov. Paul LePage, the wannabe Donald Trump of Maine and a fierce supporter of the prez, was one of the few governors who would say publicly that Republicans should “absolutely” stump with the president in 2018. “He is the leader of our country. He is the leader of our country, and we should respect our leader.”

Vice President Mike Pence came down to Austin to represent Trump and pump up support for him. He got "restrained applause from a lobbyist-heavy audience." Later, "he used a private meeting with the governors on Wednesday to tell them that the White House stood ready to help their campaigns, according to Republican officials who were in the room and who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal private conversations."

Gee, thanks. But on second thought, no thanks.

Gov. Gary Hogan of Maryland and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin "candidly told Mr. Pence that they hoped the administration would prove collaborative and respect the wishes of governors who want Mr. Trump to stay away."

Watauga GOP Attempts To Nullify Municipal Elections

At 10 a.m. tomorrow morning (November 20), the Watauga Board of Elections (BOE) will conduct a preliminary finding of fact in response to Nathan Miller and Anne Marie Yates's election protest. The Miller-Yates team is asking for new elections because The Watauga Board of Elections did not sufficiently advertise the places for Early Voting.

Miller is vice chair of the Watauga Republican Party. Yates has been nominated to take a Republican seat on the Watauga BOE. They're leading the Watauga GOP in this action (and have a track record of harassment behind them: this and this).

My Own Findings of Fact

1. Voting was up in Boone in 2017 above 2015 -- 2,910 total votes in Boone Town Council races in 2015 versus 4,212 in 2017. Looks like people knew there was an election. And where to go.

2. It was the other Republican team of Nathan Miller-Bill Aceto that delayed announcement. Because Bill Aceto refused to approve the inevitable polling place inside the ASU Student Union -- the BOE vote was 2-1, with Aceto in the minority -- he then took his objection in a lawsuit to Wake Superior Court, and when that court thrashed Miller for the effort -- waving the Judge Donald Stephens order from 2014 in his face -- Miller-Aceto stomped off to the NC Court of Appeals and talked them into a temporary stay, which is not all that difficult and which was not lifted (inevitably) until the eve of Early Voting.

3. So do I have this right? Watauga Republicans block and delay the setting of Early Vote polling places until the courts order them at the last minute and then file to nullify the election because polling places weren't set early enough. Cool!

4. The Republican Party fielded no candidates in Boone in either 2015 or this year. Do they suddenly have some hot candidates they want to run in a re-do?

5. Or are they the termites eating the shelter?

6. Any action by the Watauga BOE tomorrow -- either finding just cause to nullify the election and call a new one or finding no just cause -- either one will take a unanimous vote. Aceto's with Miller, so you do the math.

7. What happens if there is no unanimous vote? Miller-Aceto can appeal to the State Board of Elections (SBOE), but the SBOE doesn't currently exist (thanks to monkeying with the law by Republicans in the General Assembly and the subsequent blocking court order), and the SBOE staff has limited power.

8. If also stymied at the SBOE, Miller-Aceto can always appeal to Wake County Superior Court. We'd almost pay money to attend that hearing.

Friday, November 17, 2017


Braxton Winston. Photo by Chuck Burton/AP
Braxton Winston is part of the wave of new, diverse talent taking public office for the first time after the recent round of elections. Winston just won a seat on the Charlotte City Council.

That's just the most recent chapter of his story. Winston was born in North Carolina into a military family, was recruited by Davidson College to play football, earned a degree in anthropology, coaches football part time at Providence Day School, and became an accidental but powerful symbol for Black Lives Matter in Charlotte following the September 20, 2016, police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. That killing prompted several days of street protests. A chance photograph of Winston by the Charlotte Observer’s Jeff Siner went viral (see below) and catapulted Winston into the fame that comes of courage. He's 33 years old.

Asked if Braxton Winston had been a student activist at Davidson College, his favorite anthropology professor said, “I’m not saying that Braxton wasn’t ‘woke’ during his college years, but he wasn’t in leadership in social justice.”

If you don't know what "woke" means, try this (and scroll down).

So on September 20, 2016, Winston was on his way home after coaching a middle school football game. He was driving Old Concord Road past the Village at College Downs apartments, where a ruction was going on. An angry crowd was gathering the way a crowd gathers after a shooting, and Winston pulled over to find out what it was.

Winston actually makes his living as a cameraman -- videographer -- who films home games for the Charlotte Hornets as an independent contractor. He began live-streaming the aftermath of the Keith Lamont Scott shooting to his Facebook page.

A Charlotte cop on the scene told Winston to leave. Winston didn't, and the cop left him alone. Perhaps because she/he already knew Winston as a good man from a previous incident. In November 2015, Winston called the cops to help a Hispanic woman being severely beaten by her husband. There was a big commotion, involving neighbors and a little boy running around crying. Winston grabbed up and hugged the boy to him. With his mother going to the hospital and his father to jail, the little boy didn’t want to leave Braxton's arms, "so Braxton went with us to the hospital. He stayed the whole night, trying to make sure the little boy was OK as he clung onto Braxton...” (according to CharlotteMeck PD Officer Shannon Finis).

About a year after that incident, one of the same cops who had seen Winston act heroically with the little boy encountered Winston again, at the Keith Lamont Scott shooting on Old Concord Road. The neighborhood was stirred up, the cops were getting questions they either couldn't answer or wouldn't, and more people were arriving by the minute. Braxton Winston had his iPhone camera. And what his camera saw woke him.

Student reporters for The Davidsonian, after several interviews, concluded this: "Winston had never been involved in any protest movement. He thought of tear-gas or potential injury as 'the price I got to pay to speak up on behalf of my children, [on] behalf of myself, and [on] behalf of what I believe in and what the world should look like.' ”

According to Olivia Daniels and AJ Naddaff, "tension between police and civilians escalated. Winston removed his shirt to cover his mouth from tear gas. He approached a line of police in riot gear and thrust his fist in the air in an act of civil disobedience." Jeff Siner took his picture.

Jeff Siner, Charlotte Observer

Read more here:

The very next night and still on the street, Winston’s video caught the sound of a pop and the sight of spattered blood -- the police shooting of protester Justin Carr.

Later, after things died down, Winston became a community spokesman, first calling for the resignation of CharlotteMeckPD Chief Kerr Putney and then meeting face-to-face with him and apparently reaching an understanding that there had to be a change in methods for interacting with segments of Charlotte that feel over-policed and under-served.

Read more here:
When eventually the police officer who killed Keith Lamont Scott was exonerated because department policy leans way over backward to absolve the government from responsibility when the police kill people without due process, Braxton Winston acknowledged that police followed policy in letting the cop off. But he intends to help review and rewrite that policy as a Charlotte City Councilman. Councilman Braxton Winston and Police Chief Kerr Putney are going to have an interesting journey together.

Forgot to mention that there was an interview with Winston worth hearing today on "Morning Edition."

Rad more here:

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Conservative Activists Kicked Out of Haywood County Republican Party

“The Haywood Five” pose with cutouts
of former vice presidential candidate and
Alaskan governor Sarah Palin and President
Donald Trump at the Haywood Republican
Alliance headquarters. From left: Monroe Miller,
Richard West, Eddie Cabe, Paul Yeager and Jeremy Davis.
Photo Haywood Republican Alliance
When's the last time you've heard of party activists -- of either major political party -- getting drummed out of the corps? Well, actually, the Watauga Republican Party has indulged in some freelance purification rites, but it never got to the level it reached in Raleigh recently, with a "trial" for party disloyalty and a resulting ban against some Haywood County gentlemen from holding party offices "for three to five years."

The state's Republican Executive Committee, comprised of Republicans from across the state, convened a star chamber enclave in Raleigh on Saturday that essentially threw the men out of the GOP, though the proceedings were secret and not many people are talking about it ... except for the five notorious conservatives themselves who've started their own rump organization (the Haywood Republican Alliance) and are planning a big mock celebration, a "Party Disloyalty Party."

The allegations against the men mainly center on their support in 2016 of a conservative Democrat over an incumbent Republican Haywood commissioner, to the extent of doctoring slate cards given out at polling places. (For the record, the conservative Democrat came in dead last in polling while the targeted Republican incumbent, apparently a horrible "moderate," kept his seat). The Haywood Five were also accused of being generally disagreeable and disruptive characters who had hyper-sensitive noses for "RINOs" (Republicans In Name Only).

By implication, they're also "not normal." According to the Haywood Republican Party Chair, who brought the charges against the five, “That’s why I am doing this, is to get candidates to run for office who are normal everyday people,” he said. “When you have this kind of people in there, scrutinizing every move everybody makes and going after people that don’t agree with their warped agenda, you can’t get good people.”