Friday, February 29, 2008

The Long View

Still trying to assess the failure of the Watauga County GOP to field a team.

According to the officials at the Board of Elections, it’s totally unprecedented for one of the two major parties to simply have no candidates whatsoever for the County Commission, since that body is THE major policy-making, tax-extracting, law-writing board for the whole county and for everything that goes on in it.

Plus (and after all), Republicans greatly out-number Democrats in Watauga County. According to the most recent statistics from the State Board of Elections, there are 14,705 registered Republicans in Watauga vs. 12,359 Democrats.

But it’s not as though Republican Party officials didn’t try. We’ve heard a figure as high as 100 ... the number of potential Republican candidates who were contacted, wooed, cajoled, and/or threatened. And yet party leaders came up dry.

Comment writers down-column are speculating on why. The Boone Town Council elections last fall might have something to do with it. But more likely, it’s just plain old vanilla Zeitgeist. We have heard it said by our elders in politics that “This is gonna be a Democratic year.” Gonna be, and obviously already IS. The harsh winds of public rejection are blowing sand in Republican eyes, and even the best potential local candidates couldn’t see their way forward against that gale.

But not even to try ... seems extreme. It’s a gesture of giving up, so public and so abject, that it’s going to take one of two things to recover Republican “face”: either (a) several more election cycles while the Republicans try to rebuild and the Democrats manage to screw up or (b) a revolution in the leadership of the Watauga County Republican Party. Option “b” would be the fastest way to regeneration, but also the most bruising to certain old lizards who’ve been sunning themselves for decades in the warm glow of their own esteem. There are now MANY forward-looking, energetic Republicans with a head on their shoulders and good ideas. The problem is that many of them aren’t natives, don’t own the old family names, and they’re not regularly invited into the inner circle of power – which has been a very tight, small circle for years.

Whatever they do, the Republicans need to do it soon. Frankly, my dears, I don’t like this no–show situation for the future health of our democracy. In a two-party system, there actually needs to be two parties, and the first requirement is actually showing up. And speaking up, and challenging, and arguing, and campaigning. That sort of give and take is what keeps ideas and political parties honest. One-party government is the first step toward smugness, arrogance, and corruption. I want an opponent, an actual opponent who makes me think carefully about my choices.

FLASH: Local Republican Party Collapses, Fields Zero Candidates for County Commission

Filing has ended with the local Republican Party fielding no candidates whatsoever for the three seats on the Watauga County Commission.


That's throwing in the towel in about the most dramatic way imaginable.

Also filed before noon, for the school board ... Joni (Joan Gray) Horine, a Democrat.

Gonna Need a New Frock for This!

Get out your high-heel sneakers!

Got our invitation last night to the joint Virginia Foxx/Liddy Dole fundraiser at the Cross Creek Country Club in Mount Airy on March 19th (Prayer Meeting night, but what's ideological devotion without a few sacrifices?).

(Okay, we didn't exactly receive the invitation ourselves, so much as we got it forwarded from an actual invitee, who knew how much we'd enjoy the experience, vicariously.)

Anyway, the invitation says we can sign on as a "host" for $2,000 and get our mugs photographed with the Grande Dames Themselves, or pay $1,000 as a "co-host" (no photo op offered), or we can fork over as little as $125 for the "general reception" to be one of a cast of thousands of panic-stricken extras trying to get at the cold luncheon meats.

How much are we willing to pay to be so near such transcendence?

Oh, almost forgot the icing on the cake, as it were, the Viagra in our seltzer: Special Guest, Senator Robert Dole.

Last Day of Candidate Filing

Expect the lines to form at the Board of Elections between now and noon, the last possible minute to file to run for office in Watauga County. For one thing, the Republicans have so far filed zero candidates to run for any of the three County Commission seats.

Filing yesterday for school board was David Albert Ward, who is quite well known in the Bethel community for advocating aggressively for prayer in schools. A David Blust recruit?

Filing this morning for the seat on the County Commission being vacated by Mary Moretz is Tim Futrelle, 33, the Democratic vice chair of the Boone 1 precinct. Doug McGuinn filed yesterday for the same seat, so there will be a Democratic primary for that slot on May 6th.

Stay tuned for further updates on the electoral landscape in Watauga County.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Foxx Hunt

Another of Madam Foxx's constituents bites back. So, ya see, we ain't the only rude voters in the Fifth District.

The Low Road, Meet Mayor McCrory

We've been wondering how Jack Hawke would remake Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory as a conservative extreme enough to satisfy N.C. Republicans in the upcoming primary, and now we have some evidence that it's going to be illegal immigrants -- dirty, filty, criminal, baby-boiling, sex-crazed -- immigrants, ALL THE TIME, who are going to supply the character make-over.

When he first filed, we said we were surprised that we didn't see anything about Mexicans.

That was then.

Now McCrocy is all about "security" and targeting "gang members" and building enough prison space in NC to house the approximate population of Chihuahua and driving immigrants into the Atlantic surf.

We got it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Like, Wow

There ought to be a joke in here somewhere ("How can you tell when you've got enough lawyers?"), but the Pope Center for Higher Education Policies, another of those subsidiaries of The Pope Kingdom, says that North Carolina is "under-lawyered." Translation: we ain't got enough!


Under the Dome made the first catch.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Everything That Rises Must Converge?

First we see, on BlueNC, that Elizabeth Dole is in trouble -- and it IS trouble when your approval rating is dipping this far below 50% -- and then we see that Dole's supposed leading Democratic opponent, state Sen. Kay Hagan, currently polling in the low zeroes, hires a campaign manager who instantly manages to piss off the press.

Is this what you call "confluence"?

The now quite dotty U.S. Senator vs. the Bush-lite state senator who sees some good in domestic spying. At least Hagan's new campaign manager brings comic timing to the event!

For other Democrats running in the May 6th primary, consult the complete list here.

"Undisciplined Messaging"

News leaks this a.m. at that big-wig Republicans are hurriedly trying to figure out how to run against Obama and/or Clinton without falling into racist and/or sexist language/jokes/prejudices ... since, you know, the national Republican party has something of an image problem in those particular areas. "GOP operatives have already coined a term for clumsy rhetoric: 'undisciplined messaging.' "

So the party is circulating a PowerPoint presentation to its party leaders and operatives, urging them to exercise caution in the way they go after the likely Democratic nominee this year.

Too late ... as it turns out, for the leading Republican voice in Watauga County, where messaging like this about Obama (get a load of that picture, meant to represent exactly WHAT about Obama?) and this about Clinton (or about that portion of the human race "afflicted by estrogen").

Winning hearts and minds on the local level!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Extreme Make-Over

Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory denies he's a "moderate."

We hear ya. Guess Jack Hawke really has taken control of your campaign.

But it remains to be seen whether you can chew nails, spit lead, and walk on water.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Cullie Tarleton Gets a Challenger

Daniel Soucek, a David Blust recruit, has filed to challenge Cullie Tarleton in the 93rd NC House Dist. He's 38, lives in the New River 1 precinct of Boone.

Oh, Brother

This man will be on "Meet the Press" this Sunday with Tim Russert, probably to announce that he's decided to help elect John McCain president of the United States.

We Were, Like, Dying for Your Opinion

"Are the Obamas, at bottom, snobs?" asks one of the great snobs of American political punditry.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Are We Happy To See You, Or What?

The Obama campaign drops by North Carolina. Can field operatives be far behind?


One of his biggest defenders said of Sen. John McCain, "He is essentially an honorable person, but he can be imprudent.” The placement of that word essentially is essentially disqualifying. (Who was it said of Catherine the Great, "She is essentially chaste"? Probably the same wag who said of Dracula, "He is essentially a vegan.")

The quote above comes from William P. Cheshire, a friend of Senator McCain who as editorial page editor of The Arizona Republic defended McCain during the Keating Five scandal. The quote is included in the lengthy article in today's NYTimes that everyone's buzzing about.

Mr. Cheshire added, "That imprudence or recklessness may be part of why [McCain] was not more astute about the risks he was running with this shady operator," Charles Keating.

"Sanctimonious" is what George W. Bush's people called McCain in 2000:
At one point, his campaign invited scores of lobbyists to a fund-raiser at the Willard Hotel in Washington. While Bush supporters stood mocking outside, the McCain team tried to defend his integrity by handing the lobbyists buttons reading "McCain voted against my bill." Mr. McCain himself skipped the event, an act he later called "cowardly."

So may we conflate the qualities assigned him by those who know him best? Sen. John McCain is "essentially santimonious." Which ought to make him ideal for the nomination.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Time-Line for the Roger Clemens Train Wreck

A column by sports reporter Derick Moss in The Gaston Gazette last Friday nailed the hypocrisy of House Republicans generally, and of Reps. Patrick McHenry and Virginia Foxx specifically, in the whole Roger-Clemens-on-steroids hearing controversy. (Praise be to Drama Queen for bringing Moss's article to everyone's attention.)

Moss focuses on the whole history of how this little piece of theater unfolded, and how the last act did not quite play out as Republicans had planned.

1. Republican House members were all over the steroids investigation in 2005, when they were in charge of running the place. Congressman Patrick McHenry, particularly, was avid in his grilling of Mark McGuire for alleged steroid use and basked in the media attention.

2. Two things happened to change Republican attitude: (a) the Republicans lost control of the House in the elections of 2006, and (b) George Mitchell, a prominent Democrat, issued his investigation of steroid use in baseball, implicating (among others) Roger Clemens.

3. With Democrats now in charge of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Roger Clemens himself requested a hearing -- in fact, insisted on it, even with the committee's Democratic chair and ranking Republican member trying to talk him out of it. Then Clemens went and met with committee member Rep. Virginia Foxx and others on the committee so that everyone was well coached on how to help Clemens look "clean" and to make the other guy look "dirty," and to make sure Rep. Foxx had her visual aids in order and understood the points she was supposed to make in displaying them. One curious talking point everyone clearly agreed on: the Republican members would say that it was all the Democrats' fault that the hearing was happening, even though Roger Clemens had demanded it.

4. Committee member Rep. Patrick McHenry decided (with amazing prescience, as it turned out) to duck out of the hearing and not take part.

5. Rep. Virginia Foxx made a spectacle of herself, first denouncing (according to the script) the Democrats for holding the hearing in the first place and then trying to practice diagnosis via glossy blowup to prove Clemens innocent.

6. With the fall-out from the hearing turning very negative for Clemens and his Republican cheerleaders, McHenry tried to distance himself by saying that steroid use by professional athletes shouldn't even be a subject for Congress to examine, hoping that no one will remember # 1 above.

7. With the negative press particularly bad for Rep. Foxx, she tried to distance herself by saying she was never on Roger Clemens' side in all this, hoping that no one will remember the last 48 hours of her public life.

Moss has a theory on why Foxx, McHenry, and other Republicans climbed on the Clemens trolley just as it was going over that cliff, a theory that involves the druthers of the ever-lovin' Bush family, and we'll leave it to you to weigh and evaluate that theory. As loath as we are to believe in conspiracies, the unlikely tawdriness of Madam Foxx's toady act on behalf of Roger Clemens might also make use expect to see beacons of shining truth fly out of her alimentary canal in the very near future.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Letting the Prince of Peace Be a Beacon Unto Them

A Baptist pastor in California used church letterhead and an affiliated church radio program to endorse Mike Huckabee for president. After Americans United for the Separation of Church and State filed a complaint that the pastor was illegally endorsing a candidate in violation of tax-exemption laws, the pastor invoked Psalm 109 in asking his church to pray for death and destruction on Americans United, principally on Rev. Barry Lynn, the executive director of the watchdog group:
...For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me, speaking against me with lying tongues .... May his days be few; may another seize his goods! May his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow! May his children wander about and beg; may they be driven out of the ruins they inhabit....

Gosh, the Old Testament is handy when you need to really hate someone!

For its part in reporting the story, Christianity Today seemed more amused than outraged by this display of (self) righteous anger.

But then, some notable Christians today seem quite willing to countenance a whole bunch of preemptive smiting, all over the place.

Snoop Dogs

We've been disturbed and disgusted at the number of Democratic Senators who voted for retroactive immunity from prosecution for the telephone companies that toadied up with the Bush admin and illegally aided the spying on American citizens without legal warrants. (You can check out the Democrats who voted "yea" on this, including Jim Webb of Virginia.)

Only a vote in the U.S. House has (so far) stopped this additional subversion of the rule of law. Our own 11th Dist. Congressman Heath Shuler voted WITH El Presidente on that bill, for which he's been properly (but inadequately) castigated. (And here.)

Now the front-runner for the Democratic nomination to challenge Sen. Liddy Dole has said she's okay with telecom immunity. Kay Hagan, we hardly knew ye!

Looking for some radical liberal Democrat to talk sense about governmental power and official spying, we found this:
Why does the Constitution have an enumerated powers clause, if the government can do things wildly beyond those powers -- such as establish a domestic spying program? Why have a 4th Amendment, if it does not prohibit government from eavesdropping on phone calls without telling anyone?

We're told that September 11th changed everything, that new government powers like the Patriot Act are necessary to thwart terrorism. But these are not the most dangerous times in American history, despite the self-flattery of our politicians and media. This is a nation that expelled the British, saw the White House burned to the ground in 1814, fought two world wars, and faced down the Soviet Union. September 11th does not justify ignoring the Constitution by creating broad new federal police powers. The rule of law is worthless if we ignore it whenever crises occur.

Who wrote that? Ron Paul, Republican candidate for president, that's who.

Yet we are now being told by Fox News that Democrats want the terrorists to win because they refuse to endorse illegal snooping.

Obama in Chapel Hill Yesterday

Barak Obama reportedly slipped away from his trailing press hounds in Chicago, and before anyone knew it he was landing at Raleigh-Durham International Airport about 11:30 yesterday morning. ABC-11 in Raleigh-Durham has picts.

He was soon sipping coffee at the John & Elizabeth Edwards compound near Chapel Hill.

Wonder what they talked about.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Madam Defends Her Clemens' Licking

Today in the Winston-Salem Journal, Madam Virginia Foxx avers that she was not harder on Brian McNamee than she was on Roger Clemens during last Wednesday's House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on the use of steroids in professional sports. As though we had not all seen her fawning over Clemens.

She really does think we're all deaf, blind, and stupid.

But which is worse: Foxx's partisan performance in front of the whole nation, or her new attempt in the W-S Journal to deny that we had actually seen her do any such of a thing?

Friday, February 15, 2008


Over 60,000 new North Carolina voters registered to vote in January alone. These registrations lean decidedly to the Democratic Party. But some 20,000 of them chose the Unaffiliated designation, revealing the second significant factoid ... these newly registered are heavily in the 18-40 age category, where party identification is weakest.

There's going to be a surge of young voters in this state (and most others), and it isn't going to benefit John McCain nor Virginia Foxx.

They're getting psyched for the May 6th primary, for Obama mainly. Big open question: how will that surge in May affect other primary races, down-ballot? Candidates better be thinking about that.

Virginia Foxx Makes The Daily Show

You have to work hard to rise in foolishness sufficient to warrant inclusion on Jon Stewart's Daily Show (and they didn't even use Foxx's giant poster stunt and her judicious evaluation of Roger Clemens' body). You can watch the segment that Foxx became a part of here (Foxx appears around about 6 mins. in). (If that link doesn't work, you can always go here and click on "Roger Doger.")

As Stewart says, Congress (meaning the Republican members of this committee) "found a way to turn a steroid hearing into a partisan affair."

According to Stewart, Roger Clemens looked like a liar. According to our own eyes, Foxx looked like a national laughing-stock and a toady.

It's getting durn hard to stay up with all the negative national attention Madam Foxx has gotten from her Roger Clemens moment, but here's another round-up of some comment we missed yesterday.

This writer mentions that Foxx met with Clemens privately the day before the hearing. We knew about the meeting, that it was obviously a chance for her to rehearse her grandstanding with the object of her affection, but we had not been able to find a net source (other than a photograph of Clemens in the House Office Bldg. hallway, on his way to Foxx's office).

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Madam Foxx Pitches Low

If Sen. Bill Frist could diagnose Terri Schiavo's medical condition by looking at a videotape of her, then why can't Rep. Virginia Foxx authoritatively declare Roger Clemens steroid-free, by looking at photographs?
In one bizarre moment, U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), who said Congress was wasting its time with the hearing, had an aide display portraits of Clemens at various stages of his career. As the portraits towered over her, she said she saw no physical evidence he had gotten bigger during the years. [Charlotte Observer, today]

And when exactly did the defense of Roger Clemens become such a partisan prize for Republicans?

Progressive Pulse has more, including an hilarious picture of Madam Foxx and her visual aids.

Sports Illustrated blogger Tom Verducci adds more than his 2 cents on why Virginia Foxx is a credit to her party and a huge embarrassment to the 5th Dist. of N.C.:
2:15 PM ET
Poster Child

Virginia Foxx (R-NC) made it clear that she would rather not be at the hearings, that Congress shouldn't be involved in baseball matters. "I think we've been playing gotcha games and I don't agree with that," Foxx said. Then Foxx proceeded to prove beyond a doubt that she truly didn't belong there. She showed a poster of Clemens in four different photographs for four different teams (Boston, New York, Toronto, Houston), the exact dates of which she had no idea. "You appear to me to be about the same size," she said. "It doesn't appear to me that your size has changed much." Great. Now Foxx can tell us whether players are using PEDs just on body type in photographs. It's exactly that kind of sloppy eyeball detective work that we should have left behind a decade ago.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Marsha Walpole for School Board

The first candidate (that we know of) for the Watauga County Board of Education has stepped forward. Marsha Walpole and her husband Matt are rare-book dealers who used to run Row by Row Bookshop in downtown Boone. She released this statement this afternoon:
Today I am announcing my candidacy and filing for a seat on the Watauga Board of Education.

We have a good school system in Watauga County, and with the new high school currently being built we have a good foundation for our future. But there is still work to be done to prepare our children for a 21st century economy. We can not rest until we have unlocked the potential of every child in the Watauga County School system.

I am married to Matthew Walpole, and we have one son, Chandler, who has been a student in Watauga County since second grade. I have a BS in Botany and have completed the Effective Teacher Training course that some North Carolina counties require for substitute, returning and lateral entry teachers. I was a member of the Cove Creek Elementary PTSO for 3 years, and I have volunteered for almost 3 years with Friends of Watauga. I have had the privilege of working with the children of Watauga County as a Cub Scout and Girl Scout Leader. I also volunteer with Gardens for Humanity.

- Although our drop-out rate in Watauga County is much better than the state average, I believe that we can come up with innovative plans to assure that all our children graduate from high school.

- With many of our fine teachers nearing retirement age, I feel that we need to be proactive in recruiting and retaining good teachers in our county. The cost of living in our county is high, and we need to make sure that young teachers are able to live here.

- I want to improve school climate so that every child is in an environment conducive to learning.

- I want to explore ways that the board can be more efficient and effective.

- I want to cultivate new partnerships with business and community groups to enhance educational opportunities.

- I want to expand communication efforts to raise community awareness and parental involvement.

- Working with county and town elected officials, I want to develop a long-range vision for the future that captures the passion of everyone in our school system.

Steep-Slope Controversy in Jackson County

Shades of Boone's municipal elections last fall, when the local unregulated development boosters threw pots of money at defeating the town council over steep-slope regs ... which is to say that down in Jackson County, the county commissioners who passed county-wide steep-slope rules last year are being targeted for defeat by "the real estate and development lobby," which, according to the Smoky Mountain News, "spent the winter seeking out candidates to run who support their view."

This will be worth watching. Look for tons of money to be spent (in order that tons of money can be made, eventually, if the regs are overturned). It's all about the money, honey.

McCrory Gets Himself a High-Dollar Strategist

Charlotte Mayor & Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory has hired Jack Hawke, late of the Civitas Institute and a major operative for right-wing candidates, to remake him as a conservative in the Republican primary May 6th. Jack Hawke also helped Virginia Foxx in 2004, remaking her as a human facsimile.

It was bound to happen. McCrory couldn't win the primary running as himself, a moderate Republican big-city mayor with visions of public transportation.

Call it The Romney Syndrome. And look for Mittens McCrory to become Pat the Fire-Breather.

Flip This (Old) House: McHenry Decides McCain Is Just Fine

Thanks to Pat Go Bye Bye for highlighting this brief bit of fame for 10th Dist. Congressman Patrick McHenry:
VIRGINIA BEACH, Feb. 11 -- At a private meeting of conservatives in the House of Representatives last month, Rep. Patrick T. McHenry (N.C.) ridiculed Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), asking why his fellow right-wing activists "shouldn't be physically ill at the prospects of a President McCain."

On Monday, McHenry -- apparently feeling fine -- joined the chorus of voices calling for conservatives to unify around McCain as the likely Republican nominee, and he accused former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee of waging a pointless nomination battle because he is "in there for himself."

The $64,000 Question: will Madam Virginia Foxx also get religion fast? Smart money sez ... YES!

New NC Poll: Clinton Sucking Wind at 40%

SurveyUSA election poll of 2,000 NC voters ... Obama 50% to Clinton's 40%. Obama seems to benefit most from John Edwards' withdrawal.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

McCrory Comes Out for Statewide Land-Use Planning

Say good night, Mayor McCrory.

You said the "I" word ... "integration" ... specifically, you talked about the integration of long-range land-use planning and long-term transportation needs (meaning, highway corridors primarily).

Some of the most sensible talk we've heard from a candidate in either major party. Which means, Mayor McCrory, you're waaay too intellectual to be governor of North Carolina. Your goose is cooked.

That's what The Meck Deck says. Those John Locke clones just hate -- hate with a passion -- anything that smacks of PLANNING.

Obama Cancels

"Scheduling conflict" kept Obama out of John Edwards' kitchen last night. But he'll get to Chapel Hill soon, to be sure.

Edwards campaign manager, David Bonior, is urging his former boss not to endorse anyone: "His issues are really important, and if I were him, I would keep pressure on both of them [Clinton and Obama] to address the issues he really cares about. And the best way to do that is to stay uncommitted."

Monday, February 11, 2008

Early Filings

Boone dentist Jerry Butler has filed to run against incumbent Democratic state Senator Steve Goss. Nothing surprising there, since Butler announced back last November that he intended to run. What's surprising is the absence (so far) of perennial candidate David Blust, whom Goss beat in 2006.

Goss has been an incredible work-horse in the Senate, so even in this heavily Republican district, his defeat would be an uphill climb for even a well-known politician.

Democratic state Representative Cullie Tarleton was the first to file this morning. He, too, gets high marks for his legislative work ethic and for his responsiveness to district constituents. So far, no Republican has stepped forward to challenge him.

Incumbent Democratic county commissioners Winston Kinsey and Jim Deal both filed for reelection. No Republican challengers yet.

Obama in NC Today or Tomorrow

But it's not a campaign stop. No rallies. No speeches. Just a one-on-one with Sen. John Edwards. NYTimes reported this a.m. that Obama will be at Edward's home tonight: "Mr. Obama is scheduled ... on Monday night, Obama allies say, and is also flying to Mr. Edwards's home in North Carolina."

Hillary was here Thursday night. Same mission: get Edwards' endorsement.

Even without an official endorsement, seems as though the Edwards supporters are already flocking Obama's direction, judging from the last four caucuses/primaries (and not counting what's expected tomorrow in Virginia & Maryland).

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Virginia Foxx Gets Woozy on the Perfume of Her Own Righteousness

Madam Virginia Foxx has regaled us with another hee-lariously self-serving public message about her own born-again religion RE "Congressional earmarks," and she is showing the strain of maintaining (now) two wholly conflicting narratives about Life in These United States During the Regime of the Littlest Angel.

To wit, this strangely revealing paragraph of hers: "Our historically strong economy showed signs of slowing at the end of 2007 and in January employers trimmed payrolls for the first time in 52 months. The specter of a bump in the economic road has Congress buzzing -- and rightly so -- about an economic stimulus package."

Translation: "Our economy is wonderful, rewarding those who are right with God. Therefore, we immediately need an economic stimulus package passed by Congress."

But Foxx's admission that something has gone screwy under the ministrations of George W. Bush & Friends (that little bump in the road) IS progress of a kind. Foxx has never before admitted that the Republican management of the economy was less than divinely inspired.

Her explanation of a "slowing" but somehow still "strong economy"? Those dastardly Congressional earmarks. Earmarks. I kid you not. Virginia Foxx wants to blame the recession on earmarks. Not on a two-front war, one front of which was entirely a neo-con fantasy. Not on a vastly expanded Federal entitlement (Medicare Part D) passed by the Republicans. Not on the wholesale militarization of our entire society by a philosophy of preemptive bullying.

In the process of blaming earmarks, she leaves out one key fact: earmarks reached a high of 15,000 items in 2005, after ten years of Republican control in Congress. They were actually down in number this year to around 9,000 under the Democrats. An improvement, if not a definitive turn-around. Foxx doesn't mention that.

Watching her parse the economy while holding onto her "conservative" ideology is akin to watching someone try to paddle a boat with only a starboard oar.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

NC DOT: Sump Pump

Democracy North Carolina has facts and figures about the outrageous cash-machine-and-influence-peddler that is the 19-member Department of Transportation board (is and has been for mainly Democratic office-holders and candidates).

It's an embarrassment. Hell, it's a disgrace.

And it doesn't help one whit that other people report from across the nation that other states and their departments of transportation are similarly infamous for party hacks, money-laundering, and special favors.

Doesn't appear to matter, either, which party is in power, though in North Carolina's case, the long-ruling Democrats have much more than their share of penance to pay.

GOP Congressional Candidates Behind in Fundraising is reporting this a.m. that Congressional Republicans in several swing districts are lagging far behind in fundraising, while their Democratic opponents in "targeted districts" are forging ahead. "Targeted" in this instance means by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

"A senior aide to a prominent House Republican requested anonymity to explain the significance of this fundraising downturn. 'You're going to see all these members in tough shape,' the aide said."

Those Republican House members considered to be in danger do not include either Madam Virginia Foxx nor little Patty McHenry, as neither the NC-5 nor the NC-10 have yet to be targeted by the DCCC. But both Roy Carter and Daniel Johnson, the first Democratic candidates to announce against the incumbents in those districts, are doing well in both fundraising and in name recognition. Carter was very competitive in the first round of the Democracy for America "all stars" voting, in which supporters register on the DFA site and voice support. The "all stars" program is meant to reward Congressional challengers who can demonstrate a wide and intense following.

Politico also reports this: "These latest fundraising numbers, combined with a raft of Republican retirements, explain why many top Republicans are bracing for the possibility of losses in November that could stretch into double digits."

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Mysteries of the Ron Paul Revolution

It's astounding news: Republican candidate Ron Paul raised more in the last quarter of '07 than John McCain and Mitt Romney did, combined.

Now if he could only get a clue about how to spend it.

But he has been spending, you say, and you would be right. According to federal finance reports, he's raised $28 million and spent already $20 million. On what, one wonders. Gold bullion? He hasn't bought any TV time to speak of (though who knows what's on the air in Super Tuesday states). Even the famous blimp, he didn't pay for himself. Yard signs? Yeah, that's the ticket! Yard signs! Like the ones that showed up in Watauga County, irrationally as well as illegally, months ago in 2007.

What has $20 million done? Well, at least there are the bragging rights that Paul has six delegates to Rudy Giuliani's two! That's economy for you.


So far it's little more than rumor, the moderate Republicans who say they would vote for Obama this year, but Newsweek is trying to follow the story. Newsweek reporter Richard Wolffe found Susan Eisenhower, the late president's granddaughter, who would speak on the record, and a former Republican staffer for Strom Thurmond. Both are enthusiastic about Obama.

Beyond those two willing to be named and quoted, the pickings are slim and mainly anecdotal ... like Joe Scarborough's repeated tale of getting calls from conservative Republicans -- not moderates, conservatives -- who admitted that they were very attracted to the Obama candidacy.

Has any national journalist or pundit yet written about Republican women drawn to Hillary? Because there's bound to be a story there too.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Ain't It Ironic?

...that the Republican Party is ending up with a presidential candidate who considered leaving the party as recently as 2001?

...that the Republican Party, for all its breast-thumping about illegal immigrants, is ending up with a presidential candidate who is the most liberal on the question of illegal immigration?

...that the Republican Party, which has shown the internal strain of the Iraq War (witness the candidacy of Ron Paul), is ending up with a presidential candidate who proudly proclaims more war forever but fewer jobs as part of his mantra?

Preacher Teacher

Al Gore was preaching to several thousand Baptists yesterday in Atlanta at the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant, the gathering organized by former President Jimmy Carter to give new direction to fragmented Baptists nationally (and to provide an alternative to the Southern Baptist Convention). Gore spoke about creation care, particularly the threat of global warming:
"Too many in the faith community, too many of those who call ourselves Baptists, too many spokespersons who don't speak for me but claim to speak for me, have said global warming is not real. This is just a myth .... When did people of faith get so locked into a ideological coalition that they have got to go along with the wealthiest and most powerful who don't want to see change of the kind that is aimed at helping people and protecting God's green Earth?"

The N&O's reporter at the meeting in Atlanta focused on a college student at Campbell University, Sarah McCoy, under the headline "Young Baptists Are Going Green: Environment Is Their New Priority."