Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Anti-Immigration Advocates Tuck Tail in Charlotte

At an anti-immigration rally last night in Charlotte, more protesters showed up than ralliers, according to the Charlotte Observer. Virginia Foxx had tried to get people out for this but didn't show up herself (prior commitment). Bay Buchanan, Pat's sister, was the main event, but had only 30 people to harangue, including at least a dozen Hispanic protesters. A hundred or so additional protesters stood outside the event at the Phillip O. Berry Academy.

Turns out, the anti-immigration people didn't like the neighborhood: "We were just concerned sort of about the part of town it was in," Ron Woodard of NC Listen, a Raleigh-based immigration reform group, told the Observer in a phone interview. "We think this is a part of town that may be dangerous."

Why? Too many Hispanics?

Hall of Shame

Why are Democrats perceived as weak? Because they ARE.

Here are the 19 Democratic Senators who voted with the Republicans yesterday to cut off debate on Alito, thus conceding that "there's nothing we can do" to protect the Constitution from the Bush regime.

They are a disgrace. Profiles in cowardice. "If we're going down, let's at least go down without a fight."

Akaka of Hawaii
Baucus of Montana
Bingaman of New Mexico
Byrd of West Virginia
Cantwell of Washington
Carper of Delaware
Conrad of North Dakota
Dorgan of North Dakota
Inouye of Hawaii
Johnson of South Dakota
Kohl of Wisconsin
Landrieu of Louisiana
Lieberman of Connecticut
Lincoln of Arkansas
Nelson of Nebraska
Nelson of Florida
Pryor of Arkansas
Rockefeller of West Virginia
Salazar of Colorado

Are the People Dumber Than Bush?

I've always resisted the popular trope that the American people are numbskulls, because of what that implies about democracy. But I'm being worn down, like sandstone in rushing water.

This a.m., nose4news sends me this essay by Paul Craig Roberts, who used to be a Reagan administration official, an associate editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, and contributing editor of National Review. Those are SOME conservative bona fides! (And that pedigree pretty much sums up my resistance to the "American people are idiots" argument, because it is promoted so often on the hard right, among people who've never been all that devoted to the proposition that other mere mortals should have the same vote that they do. They basically share with El Presidente the overriding sensation that they are called by God to make decisions for everyone.)

Anyhow, maybe it takes someone with this cat's credentials to understand that Americans now constitute "a population in thrall to disinformation." He fingers Fox News as a chief purveyor. Roberts also cites a Fox/Opinion Dynamics poll that found that 60% of Republicans, 41% of Independents, and 36% of Democrats would support using air strikes and ground troops against Iran in order to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

"This poll indicates an appalling extent of ignorance and misinformation among the American public. The Bush administration will take advantage of this ignorance to initiate another war in the Middle East."

We used to call someone who took advantage of physical weakness a bully. We used to call someone who took advantage of inherent prejudice a demagogue. What do we call someone who takes advantage of ignorance, both his own and other people's? George W. Bush.

Roberts' summation: "There is no prospect of the Bush administration's imposing its will on the Middle East .... if Bush and the neocons don't know this by now, they are too dangerous to leave in charge of the US government."

Monday, January 30, 2006

Palace Revolt

Newsweek has put together a whole lot of previously reported stuff about a "palace revolt" two years ago in the Bush Justice Department, among some lawyers who actually hold the rule of law as more sacred than the whims of El Presidente. It's a must read (thanks to nose4news for the link).

And remember this name: David Addington ... Dick Cheney's chief counsel and the handy-man, according to Newsweek, of the current subversion of our Constitution.

Is That Your Pre-Frontal Lobe, Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

"Emory University psychologist Drew Westen put self-identified Democratic and Republican partisans in brain scanners and asked them to evaluate negative information about various candidates. Both groups were quick to spot inconsistency and hypocrisy -- but only in candidates they opposed.

"When presented with negative information about the candidates they liked, partisans of all stripes found ways to discount it, Westen said. When the unpalatable information was rejected, furthermore, the brain scans showed that volunteers gave themselves feel-good pats -- the scans showed that 'reward centers' in volunteers' brains were activated. The psychologist observed that the way these subjects dealt with unwelcome information had curious parallels with drug addiction as addicts also reward themselves for wrong-headed behavior."

Well, that explains a lot! Both about the minority of Americans who still believe El Presidente is doing the Lord's work in the best way possible and about my own staggering giddiness when beholding the hypocrisy of those who lecture all the rest of us about "morality" whilst sucking from the public teat. (You know who you are, V.F.)

The same article that offers the research above also clues us in on something that will have Ken Mehlman at the R.N.C. kicking up a huge fuss, over another psychological study which "found that supporters of President Bush and other conservatives had stronger self-admitted and implicit biases against blacks than liberals did."

If Her Lips Are Moving...

Madame Virginia Foxx said during her "listening tour" last Wednesday that the Deficit Reduction budget bill the Republicans are pushing through Congress only cuts the rate of growth in Medicaid and that no poor people will be hurt.

According to this a.m.'s NYTimes, she lied.

The House is scheduled to vote on this abomination this Wednesday.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Republican War on Science

From today's NYTimes: "The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming."

'Cause, see, when people talk, other people get IDEAS.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Congresswoman Foxx Issues New Rules for Public Behavior

The first thing we have to do is to separate out the things that are pleasant, from the things that are "Un-Pleasant."

ONE: All public disruption and acts of vandalism are to cease immediately.

TWO: All citizens of Pleasantville are to treat one another in a courteous and "pleasant" manner.

THREE: The area commonly known as Lover's Lane as well as the Pleasantville Public Library shall be closed until further notice.

FOUR: The only permissible recorded music shall be the following: Pat Boone, Johnny Mathis, Perry Como, Jack Jones, the marches of John Phillips Souza or the Star Spangled Banner. In no event shall any music be tolerated that is not of a temperate or "pleasant" nature.

FIVE: There shall be no public sale of umbrellas or preparation for inclement weather of any kind.

SIX: No bedframe or mattress may be sold measuring more than 38 inches wide.

SEVEN: The only permissible paint colors shall be BLACK, WHITE or GRAY, despite the recent availability of certain alternatives.

EIGHT: All elementary and high school curriculums shall teach the "non-changist" view of history -- emphasizing "continuity" over "alteration."

[Thanks to Gary Ross, "Pleasantville," 1998]

Blatant Lie of the Week

"[Virginia] Foxx said yesterday that she tried to be approachable."

--Bertrand Gutierrez, "Foxx answers questions on transportation, oil, more," Winston-Salem Journal, 28 Jan. 2006

Thursday, January 26, 2006

To the Barricades With Glad Hearts, O My Brethren!

I see a sense of desperation all around me. Well, okay, maybe it's just me, but I keep flashing on the new symbol of America, the waterboard, and figger it's only a matter of time.

So I paid particular attention yesterday when a minister of the gospel of Christ started quoting scripture about what all us dissidents need to carry in our hearts as we stumble forward into some terrific sorriness to come. (This particular minister of the Gospel was quoting these passages even as Madame Virginia Foxx was disappearing in a cloud of salt particles after telling a large crowd of her constituents that they'll get no answers from her on anything, not ever.)

The overriding question in 2006: Are we going to sit by and allow our nation, our Constitution, our sacred honors to rot under a tyranny cynical enough to claim the special blessing of God? (Foxx wrapped herself and the Iraq War in Jesus-talk yesterday morning at the Mountain House.)

The two passages quoted yesterday (and let their resonance echo):

[Jesus said] "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake.... When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour." (Matt. 10: 16-19)

"Is not this the fast that I choose; to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard." (Isaiah 58:6-8)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The People Bark Back at Foxx


From a correspondent who was there

The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a Virginia Foxx "listening tour." The meeting began at 8:30 am and lasted until 9:45 am [at the Mountain House Restaurant in Boone]. The Chamber advertised the "tour" thusly:

"The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce is pleased to host a Listening Tour for the Honorable Virginia Foxx on Wednesday, January 25, 2006 at the Mountain House Restaurant in Boone. This is an opportunity for the Congresswoman to hear from her local constituents in a social setting. You are invited to join us beginning at 8:00 a.m. for a Dutch Treat breakfast. The program will start at 8:30 a.m. Come prepared to share your priorities and concerns with Virginia Foxx."

Ron Hester, as Chamber host (and hard-core Republican), began the meeting by announcing that Virginia had come to hear from various agencies and town and county officials and this was NOT a Town Hall meeting. He suggested that there would be 15 minutes at the end of the "listening tour" for Virginia to answer constituent questions.


In a nutshell, the Workforce Development Volunteer Career Services agency told Virginia that this year the federal government has cut them back by 15 percent, that this is "very painful," that they have had to cut back on services to people looking for work, and that they are "desperate."

The County, the Town of Boone, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Town of Blowing Rock said they were desperate for some help in water/sewer services and that there was not enough tax base to fund the astronomical costs. The County added that President Bush has eliminated Community Block Grants. This has caused a "severe impact" and "makes a difference in the lives of ordinary people" in that the Grant created 200 jobs and helped renovate homes for those with no money.

The Watauga County Board of Education said it is desperate for a new school and didn't have the money. They asked for help.

A representative for the Chamber of Commerce, spinning for Foxx's benefit, said, "taxes were a burden to small business owners."

Ken Peacock, representing ASU, was the only major pooh-bah who appeared willing to insert his tongue all the way up Foxx's alimentary canal. He thanked the congresswoman effusively for all the money she's getting for him -- $4.5 million last year alone.


She said her "time was limited," and she "was not on vacation." She said traffic was bad, and she had another meeting at the university. She blasted the Governor and took credit for all the transportation money that had come to the area, saying if it weren't for her it would have gone to Raleigh. She told the towns and county there wasn't anything she could do for them on the water/sewer crisis. She reminded us a couple of times that she grew up poor, and she told the water-seekers they needed to be more efficient, that they needed to conserve more, and that they needed to approach this regionally. She said she went to Israel and that those folks really knew how to manage water. She told us she was getting the Bamboo Road paved and that she was big on a National Heritage Area. She said that 70 percent of the federal budget in 10 years was going to be used to pay for Medicare, social security, and Medicaid, and we couldn't afford it anymore and that we would have to cut these back. She reminded us that she grew up poor and could afford health care even then. She said the problems with affordable health care were that the federal government was formed for national defense, not these social welfare things.

Constituents began raising their hands and keeping them up. Virginia ignored them all and instead called on the press.

Kathleen McFadden (High Country News) said that polls showed people were losing faith and support in the war. What were Virginia's comments in that regard?

Virginia said we were attacked on 9/11, that we are not an aggressive nation, that she didn't want to see us attacked again, that there were fascist nations in the world, that the military had an 87 percent reenlistment rate, that the war was a "tremendous success," that she was appalled at the way the media portrayed the war, that when Hitler was a factor, we were silent, and that "We are guided by the hand of God."

Christy James (WATA Radio) asked a question regarding energy -- its high cost, solutions.

Virginia responded, "The best kept secret in the world is that the economy is great. That's why gas is high." She blamed China for driving up the cost of gas. She said the good thing about gas going up is that people would be forced to look for alternative energy.

Frank Ruggiero (Mountain Times/Watauga Democrat) said that there were a lot people here today who wanted to ask questions of their congresswoman, and if she wasn't going to answer them today, when would she be having an event where they could be heard?

Foxx said she had had several "listening tours" and there would be others, but she wasn't sure when or what the topics would be.

Foxx then announced (looking at her watch) that, "Whoops -- oh, my! -- there's only six minutes left for constituent comment."


Hands were up all over the place. Foxx took a question from Perry Mixter (calling him by name), apparently because he didn't have his hand up. Perry said that a lot of the people in the room were frustrated with the direction the country had taken. Virginia responded that she didn't see any people trying to leave the country -- that, in fact, lots of people were trying to get in.

Dorothy Sagel was called on next. She talked of the draconian cuts for the poor and in Medicare and student loans, etc. Virginia said "nothing's been cut from Medicaid (we are just cutting the increases)," that "we are not hurting people," that there are "no old ladies on the streets," and that "I challenge you to show me a cut."

Then Foxx said she had to leave -- "Sorry! So sorry!"

A woman stood up immediately and complained that constituents were invited to this meeting to have their voices heard and to ask questions of their representative. She said that this "listening tour" was "a sham," that Foxx had only allowed six minutes for questions," and that she wanted to know why Rep. Foxx was afraid to answer questions from her constituents. A fellow in the back rocking a baby said, "Yeah, we can stay if you will."

Foxx turned her back on the woman. There was no answer, and the meeting ended.

People who were there to ask questions began handing in their written questions to the press. They also granted interviews to the press, primarily complaining that Foxx would not take questions from her constituents. Foxx's paid assistant told one constituent that it was called a "listening tour" because the public was invited to listen to Foxx, not the other way around. Even though Foxx stated that she had another meeting to rush off to, she granted an interview to Mountain Television Network. Anna Sagel stood right there at Foxx's elbow and on camera, refuting every single thing Foxx said.

End of Story.

Chilled to the Marrow

"It's scary to think that it may just be a matter of time before Googling will invite an F.B.I. agent to tap your phone or interrogate you."

--Ming-Wai Farrell, 25, quoted in an article about the Bush administration's demand for Google to turn over records on millions of its users' search queries.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Ralph Reed: "Suffer the Little Children to Be Bought Off"

Nothing says hypocrisy like the super-Christian trying to prove he's still popular despite the stench.

Bush Administration to West Virginia: Kiss Our Skinny Ass

So how's that working out for you, West Virginia, selling your priciples down the river to vote for George W. in 2000? You did it, we hear, because you believed Al Gore would take away your Bibles and your guns. You did it again in 2004 because El Presidente promised to unleash Big Coal. Unleashed it is!

Yesterday at a Senate hearing into the mine disaster that killed 12 West Virginians, the director of Bush's Mine Safety and Health Administration got asked some tough questions, about how his boss was over-seeing the dismantlement of safety inspections and regs that are supposed to protect miners, but the director got bored, looked at his watch, said he needed to be elsewhere, and got up and left the hearing with Sen. Arlen "No Balls" Specter more or less in mid-question.

"I can't recollect it ever happening before," Mr. Specter said of the departure. "We'll find a way to take appropriate note of it."

In this Senate, that amounts to a hissy fit.

But so what? This president does what he wants. West Virginia elected him, and West Virginia is apparently prepared to suffer a lot more death and dismemberment for the privilege of staying safe from "terrorists."

News from the Police State

It should come as no surprise, in a country ruled imperially by El Presidente, that a snot-nosed Republican brat would try to pay UCLA students for tape-recordings of their professors, tape recordings that prove the professors are dangerous "leftists." The snot-nosed brat in question is one Andrew Jones, a 24-year-old alumnus of UCLA who is out to get liberal professors by any means necessary. He worked for a time for David Horowitz, the conservative battle bot known for faking evidence of liberal bias in higher education to stir up the trolls, but Jones proved too extreme even for Horowitz: "Mr. Horowitz says he fired Mr. Jones, accusing him of pressing U.C.L.A. students to file false reports that they had been physically attacked by leftist activists." (NYTimes article here.)

UCLA threatened legal action for tape-recording professors without permission, and Jones has withdrawn his offer to pay students for lecture notes, hand-outs, and pictures of professors reading Noam Chomsky. But he has compiled a list of his "Dirty Thirty" worst liberal professors at UCLA, sort of reminiscent of those hit lists the fetus people used to publish of abortion doctors who ought not stay alive.

Meanwhile, we hear that our own Madame Virginia Foxx is making robo calls in the Fifth District, attacking the "liberals" who want to lay out a red carpet for Osama bin Laden to take over Ashe County and the rest of the country. Interesting, if true, since it would be a hypocrisy for her quite beyond any hypocrisy we've seen from her before, considering this.

If anyone has evidence of Foxx's robo calls, please let us know the content, the duration, and the approximate date & time the call was received.

A Blue Voice in Red Ashe County

Jim Thompson in the Jefferson Post (available on-line via subscription only) has published a scorching editorial calling for the impeachment of El Presidente and further calling on Madame Virginia Foxx to introduce those articles of impeachment in the House of Representatives. That fantasy aside, here's a sample paragraph (thanks to Leisa for the text):

"Let us not trade our freedoms for the illusion of safety or, like children, be frightened of the boogie man Osama bin Laden. We are not born of men and women who sought safety first, but freedom. We shame their memories and their sacrifices when we allow our rights to diminish to 'protect' us from such a petty, wretched little thug as Osama bin Laden. Our ancestors faced enemies a thousand times more powerful, yet never yielded their freedoms."

Monday, January 23, 2006

Molly Ivins Is Pissed

Check her out. In a column opposing Hilliary for president. And opposing Dems like Biden & Lieberman as party spokesmen.

What she said!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Rove's 2006 Game Plan: We're Gonna Scare the Pants Off You!

Couldn't you have predicted this, that Karl Rove would come up with the perfect campaign for 2006, something to deflect all the scandal and make American boobs forget that El Presidente is seizing unprecedented power ... FEAR.

A.k.a., "national security."

Fear is a terrific motivator.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Easley Doubles the Number of Democrats on State Supreme Court

First the Guv appoints Democrat Sarah Parker to the Chief Justice seat on the state Supreme Court, to fill in for the retiring I. Beverly Lake. Then he appoints Democrat Pat Timmons-Goodson to Sarah Parker's associate justice seat, thus doubling with one appointment the number of Democrats on the state's high court. Plus Timmons-Goodson will be the first African-American woman ever to sit on the state's highest court.

Occasionally, the Guv comes through.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Racing Downhill

"...unbelievable assholes. Rich, cocky, wicked conceited, super-right-wing Republicans."

--U.S. Olympic skier and unpredictable bad-boy Bode Miller, describing "the people involved with the U.S. Ski Team" (like representatives of Nike, for example), in Newsweek, 23 Jan. 2006

Boone Chamber of Commerce Gets a Case of Nerves

The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce, which had intended to host its own version of a Moravian Love Feast at the Mountain House restaurant on January 25th for Madame Virginia Foxx's "listening tour" through the N.C. Fifth District, has grown nervous over the size of the crowd that has already signed up to come give Madame Foxx an earful. The size AND the mood of that crowd is evidently cause for worry. So the Chamber is maneuvering to disengage the public somewhat from the process.

News is that the Chamber will allow representatives of the towns, the county, and the university to bloviate first about what they want out of Washington. (Then they'll have to take a five-minute break to wipe the drool off the Congresswoman, especially if the ASU Chancellor is in attendance.) Only after that will the general public, all you ordinary citizens out there that Virginia Foxx does NOT want to hear from, will be allowed to speak, but they're going to try to run out the clock on you ... "Oops! Sorry, but the Congresswoman has a plane to catch!"

Call the Chamber of Commerce and tell them you plan to attend and that you want a chance to speak: 264-2225. Wednesday, January 25th, 8:30 a.m., Mountain House Restaurant, Blowing Rock Road.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

First They Count the Money

Michael O'Hare, on scary Alito (and these characterizations could apply to a whole bunch of that crowd, including Madame Virginia Foxx):

"He doesn't have a screw loose; what he has is a piece missing, conspicuously, radiantly, displaying the absence of any sense of, well, justice. Not a case came up for discussion in which he registered that one or another outcome was just wrong, outrageous to a sense of decency, or to him. He's on record in a memo as believing that to shoot an eighth-grader, known not to be armed, who was trying to climb over a fence in escape, is a proper use of deadly force by a policeman. In a discussion of immigration cases that have been regularly occasioning inexcusable, vile, un-American heartbreak on people who missed obscure deadlines or violated arcane requirements, all he could say was that the courts get bad transcripts and it was hard to find translators for some of the plaintiffs, but that was a problem for Congress. It wasn't exactly Pilate washing his hands, but the man appears to be completely comfortable dealing with frightful social wrongs by moving the issue down the hall to another office .... A smart, decent, small man."

Monday, January 16, 2006

How Infant Mortality Correlates with Red-State "Morality"

Check it out, from a website that advertizes the "Give Up Philosophy": "There is no need to fight with conservatives and Republicans, [because] they are their own worst enemy." (Thanks to Shyster for the link.)

Al Gore on Our Constitutional Crisis

Al Gore just delivered a hell of a speech in Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., calling on the United States Senate and House of Representatives to start acting as though they are, indeed, a co-equal branch of this government. He said that we are experiencing right now a constitutional crisis due to El Presidente's unprecedented and unwarranted and illegal power-grab, including the cutting out of the legislative and judicial branches from their constitutional function of providing checks and balances to presidential power. He indicted members of Congress and members of the judiciary for willingly participating in this erosion of our constitution ... by failing to stand up to presidential power and insist on checks and balances. Included in his criticism were Chief Justice John Roberts and soon-to-be Associate Justice Samual Alito, for their extreme deference to a "unilateral" president.

ADDENDUM: Talk about your instant transcripts! Drudge has it.

ADDITIONAL ADDENDUM: Here's the AP story on the speech.

When Jesus Is a Third Party in a Lobbying Deal

"All these people running around telling you how good they are, and how right they are. You better be careful and hold on to your wallet."

--A Republican voter, in Alpharetta, Ga., offering an opinion on the candidacy of Very Big Christian Ralph Reed, running for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia under the Jack Abramoff cloud, quoted in today's WashPost.

Oh Shut Up

In a recent Time magazine issue, Gov. Bob Taft (R) of Ohio was labeled as one of the worst governors in the country, presiding over widespread corruption and mismanagement.

In its current edition, Time prints a letter from former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt in which Hunt blasts the magazine for "unfair attacks" on Taft. "While taking potshots at the governor, you failed to mention his many accomplishments in education," writes Hunt.

Rob Christensen in this a.m.'s News & Observer provides a clue for why Hunt defends Taft, who incidentally pleaded no contest in August to criminal charges: Taft came to North Carolina to help lead a three-day conference in Charlotte in November that was sponsored by the James B. Hunt Jr. Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy.

Everything has always been about Jim.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Takes a Strong Stomach

We've been frozen in place all week at the thought of Alito, the experience of Alito, the ineffable exquisiteness of his evasions, but we learned at least three things:

1. Mrs. Alito wears a smug mug, hovering in our TV screen just over her Sammy's right shoulder, and we won't miss the sight of her bird nose. Not ever.

2. The fecklessness of Democratic Senators (exceeded only by...)

3. How queer the Republican Senators are for the judge who would deny their mistresses an abortion.

Speaking of Democratic fecklessness, Scott Sexton's appraisal of Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines's decision NOT to run against Virginia Foxx this year hits that particular tack squarely on its flat head: "Joines didn't have the stomach to run...."

So, thanks, Mayor, for saving us another one of THOSE campaigns.

Sexton also offers this election-year tip for any other potential candidates against Foxx: "[Joines] really didn't want to pull on his hip boots for the inevitable slog through the mud that any credible campaign against Foxx would inevitably devolve into."

That is to say, "any credible campaign against Foxx" will have to be willing to go after her big fat behind of a legislative record, that playing nice against The Madame will get you approximately nowhere.

Sexton writes, "Joines is a genuinely nice guy .... Unfortunately, those are not the sort of people we send to Congress."

Obviously. Hence Virginia Foxx.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

ASU to Appalachian Cultural Museum: Bite Me

Today's Watauga Democrat brings news about the first casualty of ASU Chancellor Ken Peacock's search for a "personal legacy" ... the dissolution of the Appalachian Cultural Museum. Its artifacts and dismantled displays will be shoved into storage in the old Belk Library. As the acquisition of the Heilig-Myers store in downtown Boone was going to cost something, and clearly the Chancellor wants to invest nothing, the Heilig-Myers "fix" was never an option, obviously, but rather a cruel little feint to placate critics.

Cruel little feint Number Two? The bright announcement in today's Watauga Democrat article that Chancellor Peacock thinks it would be jolly good to break up that significant collection and spread bits and pieces of it around all over campus, like the debris from a bomb blast, so "more people can appreciate" just how disrespectful this administration is toward the very meaning of historical preservation generally and ASU's obligations to the people of these mountains specifically. It's clear that the chancellor equates the cultural museum with a species of "hillbilly merchandise" that can dress up a building entrance or a back stairwell, more or less like packaged gum displays next to a checkout counter. Plus spreading the stuff around campus is "unworkable and absurdly cost inefficient."

This administration also plainly lied to the faculty when it claimed that its proposed new nursing program would not mean cuts to other programs. The administration compounded the lie with a clumsy bait-and-switch. Originally, the museum was being evicted from University Hall for the nursing program. That line is no longer "operable." Now the story is that the museum is being evicted for a "communication disorders clinic," not the nursing program.

The first patients who should enroll themselves in the "communication disorders clinic" are the chancellor and his hit-men. According to the Watauga Democrat article, museum director Charles Watkins first learned of the Chancellor's "solution" when the Watauga Democrat reporter called him for comment. Gee. You might think the director of the museum -- not to mention the head of the search committee for new museum space -- was due a smidgen of courtesy.

Instead of courtesy this whole mountain community receives a level of high-handed disrespect for a cultural institution that goes in fact well beyond a mere "communications disorder."

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Vocal Local

News has reached us via carrier pigeon that former county commissioner David Triplett will be running for David Blust's seat on the Watauga County Commission and that he'll be running as ... wait for it ... a Republican.

For those who don't recall their recent local political history, Mr. Triplett was ousted from the County Commission by his own Republican Party back in 1994, when the local Republican power structure ran Linda Craig against him in a primary. They were mad at him for getting along so well with godless Democrats (our memory is that he -- gasp! -- voted for Democrat Ben Strickland as chair of the Commission, among other sins). After winning her election that year, Craig served one term before being ousted herself by Sue Sweeting in 1998 in another one of our great political upsets (of which Watauga County has more than its share).

So is Mr. Triplett running in 2006 with the blessing of the Watauga GOP? Well, not exactly. According to our carrier pigeon, which was very winded and panting from its flight up the Middlefork Valley, Triplett didn't get the blessing of his party to run because, well, he couldn't FIND his party to ask its blessing. The Watauga County GOP is apparently conducted as a sort of secret syndicate by three remaining old lee-zards and a figurehead chair, a female. Their meetings, infrequent and unadvertised, could be held in a medium-sized closet, not that there's anything wrong with that. (We refuse to grow snarky about what goes on in Republican closets.)

Triplett was a moderate when he served on the County Commission and would be a welcome relief, frankly, from the usual sort of candidate fielded by the Watauga GOP.

Saturday, January 07, 2006


We're sure you've gotten the latest edition of the Virginia Foxx mailer, a colossal waste of tax dollars that nevertheless offers keen insight into a parallel universe where the Madame says the economy is hunky-dory (at least for the already rich) and where she is single-handedly making America safe for white people by planning the deportation of millions of Hispanics. (She also proposes to fine Christmas tree farmers who hire undocumented workers, and she is promoting an unscalable wall along our southern border with Mexico, which she doesn't exactly advertize in her government waste-paper.)

Most hilarity-inducing line from the above: "I value your feedback .... Let me know your opinion. As always, I appreciate your advice and thoughts when considering legislation."

We knew she was a liar, but a comedian too?

So far as her claim of valuing opinions other than her own, check out what Madame Foxx told the Winston-Salem Journal about a petition supporting a time-line for withdrawal from Iraq signed by 500 of her Fifth District constituents. "Five-hundred signatures out of 600,000 in the district? That's nothing."

So instead of "I value your feedback," does "eat shit and die" sound closer to the truth?

Nowhere in the Foxx alternate universe is there any acknowledgement of the swirling cesspoll of special privilege, bought access, and semi-legalized whoredom which is the Republican Congress of the United States and into which Madame Foxx has so seamlessly melded.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

El Presidente ... Above the Law

Our favorite gay Republican conservative, Andrew Sullivan, points out that Bush as much as promised to ignore the McCain anti-torture amendment, even as he was signing it into law.

Said the Prez, "The executive branch shall construe Title X in Division A of the Act, relating to detainees, in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power, which will assist in achieving the shared objective of the Congress and the President, evidenced in Title X, of protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks."

Mumbo-jumbo ... meaning, essentially, "I'll continue to do exactly as I please."

Says Sullivan, "Do we have a president who refuses, in any matter tangentially related to the war on terror, to obey the law? We know he broke the FISA law and lied about it. We know he broke U.S. law against torturing detainees, and lied about it. Now we find that he is declaring himself unbound by the McCain Amendment."

Newt Gets Religion

"There are a series of behaviors, a series of attitudes, a series of crony-like activities that are not defensible, and no Republican should try to defend them."

--Newt Gingrich, speaking on the Abramoff corruption, Jan. 4, 2006, quoted in the WashPost

--said the former congressman who had to pay $300,000 in 1997 to settle ethics violations.

--said the former purveyor of the Contract With America who left his first wife while she lay helpless on a hospital bed and then left the second wife after an affair with an aide.

Newt, the Republicans aren't listening to you.

The Big Give-Back of 2006

"All but three of the 24 politicians [so far] giving up [Abramoff] funds are Republicans. The three Democrats -- Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.), Richard J. Durbin (Ill.) and Byron L. Dorgan (N.D.) -- have pledged to shed a total of $97,000 in contributions. A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said Reid has no intention of shedding the $47,000 he has received from Abramoff's lobbying team and tribal clients."

--WashPost, Jan. 5, 2006

So far, politicians (including the three Dems mentioned above) have said they're giving back some $500,000 in Abramoff money, "a fraction of the $5.3 million that Abramoff, some of his lobbying colleagues and tribal clients showered on 364 federal candidates and campaign committees from 1999 to 2004. About 64 percent of that money went to Republicans, about 35 percent went to Democrats...."

It's as though they, like Lady Macbeth, think a little water will clear them of this deed. Giving the money back doesn't get them off the hook at all, if they took the money in exchange for legislative favors.

Twink Set Me Up!

Lonnie Latham, senior pastor at South Tulsa Baptist Church and a member of the executive committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, was arrested Tuesday night for soliciting an undercover police officer for homosexual sex. Or, as Channel 5 in Oklahoma City put it, "Latham, who has spoken out against homosexuality, asked the officer to join him in his hotel room for oral sex."

"When he left jail, he said: 'I was set up. I was in the area pastoring to police.' "

"Pastoring" in this instance requires getting on one's knees. "We gon LICK that devil!"

"He has also spoken out against same-sex marriage and in support of a Southern Baptist Convention's directive urging its 42,000 churches to befriend gays and lesbians and try to convince them that they can become heterosexual 'if they accept Jesus Christ as their savior and reject their sinful, destructive lifestyle.' "

Who knew that he wanted to "befriend gays" to improve his odds for a date?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Last One Off the Raft Is a Sunk Rat

El Presidente is returning $6,000 in campaign contributions linked to Jack Abramoff. "Abramoff raised at least $100,000 for the Bush-Cheney '04 re-election campaign, earning the honorary title 'pioneer' from the campaign. But the campaign is giving up only $6,000 directly from Abramoff, his wife and one of the Indian tribes that he worked to win influence for in Washington." This, according to the Associated Press.

Tom DeLay, who received at least $57,000 with Abramoff strings, will give up an unspecified amount to charity.

Roy Blunt, R of Missouri who took over the Majority Leader's role from the indicted DeLay, received $8,500 from Abramoff and plans to give that amount to charity.

North Carolina Congressman Charlie Taylor got $3,000 from Abramoff, and fellow Republican Walter "Freedom Fries" Jones got $1,250. No word yet from Taylor & Jones about returning the money.

But by tomorrow at this time, expect the list of those fine, upstanding congresspeople returning Abramoff bucks to have grown considerably longer.

If guilt had a face...

The Man in the Black Hat

Someone this a.m. asked me who I thought Jack Abramoff had used as fashion consultant for his guilty plea yesterday. Black Bart, obviously, and who knew he was even available?

Meanwhile, the weaselly Denny Hastert couldn't help looking like prime sleaze as he slipped $69,000 out the back door to "charity," money he'd gotten from Abramoff's clients. As though no one would notice.

Enamored as we are of Prevues of Coming Attractions, our favorite line from Abramoff's guilty plea yesterday is this:

"The preceding statement is a summary, made for the purposes of providing the court with a factual basis for my guilty plea to the charges against me. It does not include all the facts known to me concerning criminal activity in which I and others engaged."

Stand by.

ADDENDUM: The Wall Street Journal says that "Mr. Abramoff says he has information that could implicate 60 lawmakers."

FURTHER ADDENDUM: Ankle Biting Pundits, a dependably right-wing blog, shows the crack opening up in the GOP over Abramoff:

"I think it is time for conservative to begin piling on the Abramoff thing for a couple of reasons. First, liberals are right in this instance. The fact that this hideous wretch climbed to the heights of power under GOP leadership in Washington, shoot, with the aid and comfort of the GOP leadership, is a scandal in and of itself. I was around in 1994 when we won the House and the Senate for the first time in forty years. I recall distinctly using the phrase 'K Street fat cats' in mail pieces against Democrat incumbents who, while not breaking any laws by cozying up to these sleaze ball lobbyists, certainly violated common decency by allowing them to draft their legislation and fund their political operations. The GOP of the Abramoff era behaved no differently, sad to say.

"Second, the Abramoff story is not over. Not by a damn sight. If you think this is just a story about a greedy lobbyist who abused his relationship with congressional leaders you better think again. Matthew Continetti's recent chilling piece in the Weekly Standard, 'Money, Mobsters, Murder' ought to disabuse anyone of the idea that this story ends at money laundering...."

N.S.A. Began Domestic Spying Without Presidential Order

The NYTimes this a.m. says that the National Security Agency began its domestic spying immediately after 9/11 and without a presidential order and that Rep. Nancy Pelosi wrote to the head of N.S.A. at the time, "I am concerned whether, and to what extent, the National Security Agency has received specific presidential authorization for the operations you are conducting."

Monday, January 02, 2006

For Want of 'Team Players,' Maybe the Republic Will Be Saved

More on James Comey, who was Acting Attorney General when El Presidente wanted reauthorization for his secret NSA domestic spying operation (from Newsweek). Comey balked at the warrantless eavesdropping (see previous post, down-column). "Miffed that Comey, a straitlaced, by-the-book former U.S. attorney from New York, was not a 'team player' on this and other issues, President George W. Bush dubbed him with a derisive nickname, 'Cuomo,' after Mario Cuomo, the New York governor who vacillated over running for president in the 1980s."

You Know You're in Trouble When John Ashcroft Is the Most Liberal Guy in the Room!

"The New York Times reported Sunday that James B. Comey, then deputy attorney general, refused to sign on to the recertification of the [NSA domestic surveillance] program in March 2004. That prompted two of Mr. Bush's most senior aides -- Andrew H. Card Jr., his chief of staff, and Alberto R. Gonzales, then the White House counsel and now the attorney general -- to make an emergency hospital visit to John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, to try to persuade him to give his authorization, as required by White House procedures for the program. Officials with knowledge of the events said that Mr. Ashcroft also appeared reluctant to sign on to the continued use of the program...."

--NYTimes, Jan. 2, 2006

"...Officials also say that the N.S.A., beyond eavesdropping on up to 500 phone numbers and e-mail addresses at any one time, has conducted much larger data-mining operations on vast volumes of communication within the United States to identify possible terror suspects. To accomplish this, the agency has reached agreements with major American telecommunications companies to gain access to some of the country's biggest 'switches' carrying phone and e-mail traffic into and out of the country...."

--Same source as above

A Return to Sanity and a Better Diet

Thank Gawd it's 2006! Which means a temporary end to cream-cheese-based foods.

Also means the American people will get to vote in a few months. People in North Carolina will be able to vote the first of May in the two parties' nominating primaries. Promises to be interesting, especially, perhaps, on the Republican side of the ballot. We hear, for example, that some of the old bulls in the local GOP have recruited a patsy to run against Sheriff Mark Shook in the primary.

The main event, though, will be in November when all the American people can send their best wishes or their disapprobation to The Regime in Washington. We can't hardly wait for that opportunity.