Monday, March 31, 2008

Update on Obama Boone HDQs

We've received word that the local Obama office will be located at the corner of King and College streets, across from First Baptist Church and next door to Beanstalk, upstairs above what used to be the Mayflower beauty shoppe and the Mountain Pirate.

Obama HDQs in Boone?

We learned over the weekend that the Obama '08 North Carolina crew is looking to open an office in Boone, if they can find available space in a good location.

If you've got a place you'd like to offer, contact me directly (, and I'll give you a number to call.

The Crusading Dan Besse

Winston-Salem Councilman Dan Besse, one of four vying for the Lt. Gov. nomination on May 6th, is profiled in today's N&O.

He's been a champion of environmental protections and has used his lawyer's license to help indigent clients. He also started his political life as a Republican and switched parties after Jesse Helms won his Senate seat in 1972.

He also happens to be from Hickory.

James Carville Shuts Up

The scene was a private reception for James Carville before his speech at the Young Democrats convention in Raleigh on Saturday.

As James Carville is wont to do, he proclaimed to the assembled guests, all of whom had paid $50 apiece for the opportunity, that Kay Hagan, running for U.S. Senate, would make a great replacement in Washington for Liddy Dole.

Only problem was that Jim Neal, Hagan's chief primary opponent, was one of the paid guests in the room.

Neal spoke up: "We have primaries here in North Carolina. We don't have coronations."

At which point, James Carville fell silent. "It was the first time I've ever seen him quiet," Neal said.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Keeping Hillary Alive?

Ex-Prez Bill Clinton made it to all seven stops yesterday in North Carolina. If anything his speeches got longer as the day wore on. He was only about an hour late getting to the last venue in Asheville, and then spoke for an hour! Things didn't conclude in Asheville until around 11:30 p.m.

He seems to have had good crowds along the way, including in Hickory in perhaps the most Republican area in the state. In Asheville, about 2,000 were allowed into a high school gymnasium, but some were turned away, including a handful of Obama supporters in T-shirts sporting that candidate's picture.

About 500 people listened to Bill in Salisbury, the alleged home of Sen. Liddy Dole. In Gastonia "about 800 people withstood the stagnant heat in a gym without air conditioning."

The trip was a stab through the heart of white working-class North Carolina:
In Hickory, Clinton passed a trailer park on the road to St. Stephens High School. There in heavy Republican country he appealed to working class people, many of whom have lost jobs since he left office.

"I like to come to places like this," he said. "These are the places that have kept [Hillary] alive."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Cruella de Ville 'Splains Health Insurance

Jamie Linquist, a nursing student at Gardner-Webb's satellite campus in Statesville, asked Congresswoman Virginia Foxx to clarify her position on national health care. "If you are not in support of universal health insurance," Linquist said, "then what are you in favor of?"

See if you can figger that out from Foxx's response:
...Foxx said that the number of Americans without health insurance was typically given as 47 million.

She broke that number down by saying one-third of it was made up of illegal immigrants, one-third was of those who were uninsured for only a portion of the year but not all of it, and one-third was of people who have access to insurance "but choose not to take it."

"Choose or can't afford?" another student asked.

Foxx compared health insurance to homeowner's or automobile insurance and said health insurance was initially designed for "catastrophic" events and "not for maintenance."

"A huge portion of health insurance funds go into the last 18 months of a person's life," Foxx said.

Excuse us, Madam, for dying.

By her accounting, apparently there's NO ONE without health insurance except by their own stupid volition. And of course illegal immigrants, who deserve whatever bad happens to them.

And by the way, Madam Foxx sees herself as Cinderella.

When did the wicked stepmother get to go to the ball at the palace?

North Carolina Campaign

Hillary Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson said earlier this week that "the campaign doesn't consider North Carolina a must-win state."


That's why, we guess, the whole family -- Hillary, Bill, and now Chelsea -- are criss-crossing North Carolina like the hash marks on a honey-glazed ham (and if our Democratic delegates aren't 115 pieces of big juicy Southern pork, what are they?).

Bill Clinton said last week that the nominating race for Democrats may come down to North Carolina. We suspect he was closer to the truth than Wolfson.

Incidentally, the article linked above says Bill Clinton now plans to be in Asheville Friday, so his schedule is obviously very fluid. We hear Hickory, Kannapolis, Salisbury, Gastonia, High Point, and Greensboro are also all in the running -- all on Friday. So some of these possible touch-downs must be feints that won't pan out. Seven stops in one day? Sounds unlikely, especially for the slow-moving Bill.

And especially since we're NOT a must-win state.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Candidates Carter & Hamby Speak in Watauga

Fifth District congressional candidates Roy Carter and Diane Hamby appeared today side by side at the local Democratic Women’s Club luncheon, spoke about their campaigns (for the privilege of taking on Virginia Foxx this fall), and answered questions from a max-capacity crowd at the Broyhill Inn. Carter and Hamby will face one another in the May 6th Democratic primary.

They were cordial to one another, pledged to support the eventual nominee, whoever that turns out to be, and elicited laughs and good-natured groans as they focused their comments on the last seven years generally and on the performance of our incumbent congresswoman specifically.

“I’m absolutely positive that Virginia Foxx’s broom was made in China,” said Hamby, in one of the bigger laugh lines of the day.

Roy Carter said he officially announced his campaign last Labor Day for a reason: he comes from a laboring background, and Virginia Foxx has rarely supported legislation that helps laboring people. Plus she’s voted against every program that would help the children of laboring and poor people, including proposed expansions of Head Start and S-CHIP insurance.

Both Hamby and Carter put emphasis on the costs of health-care and the crisis of uninsured Americans in today’s economy. “Too many people are one health-care crisis away from financial ruin,” said Hamby, and Carter said that many years ago the death of his teenaged brother had “broken my family, because we didn’t have insurance.” This country has got to do better, and CAN do better, both candidates agreed.

They also agreed that Congresswoman Foxx has turned her back on Watauga County, which did not support her in the election of 2006. “While cheerleading for the tax breaks for the richest two percent of Americans, Foxx votes against every program that could help 5th District citizens, including veteran services for members of our armed forces,” Carter said.

Hamby agreed that the big issues are all “pocket-book” issues, from the prices of gasoline and food to the loss of jobs.

Carter came out in favor of protecting the Globe area below Blowing Rock from the Forest Service plan to sell off the timber on hundreds of acres to private interests. “That’s another thing Virginia Foxx has turned her back on,” said Carter.

Senate Candidate Jim Neal Profiled

This morning's N&O contains an in-depth profile of the candidate.

Most interesting ... that he moved back to Chapel Hill and found he couldn't afford a house there, so he's renting.

Best quote comes from the treasurer of 2004's Kerry-Edwards campaign committee, for whom Neal raised money four years ago: "I consider him a very decent man and one who is in politics for the right reasons."

Says Neal, "This is the year when Americans will own our democracy."

Keeping Up with the Bickersons

Jonesing for some campaign rhetoric? Here's where you can get a dose:

Barack Obama holds a 1 p.m. rally today at the Greensboro Coliseum (but all the tickets were taken approximately 3 minutes after they became available). This is Obama's second visit to the state.

Hillary Clinton is scheduled to talk Thursday at 10:30 a.m. at Wake Technical Community College, with stops also tomorrow in Fayetteville and Winston-Salem, where she'll hold a rally at Forsyth Technical Community College's gymnasium on Bolton Street (5:30 p.m.). This will be the candidate's first primary campaign visit to NC.

Bill Clinton will appear at events Friday in Greensboro, High Point, Kannapolis, Salisbury, and Hickory. Details not yet available.

(Or you can simply wait for the inevitable sound-bites on cable news.)

From the N&O: "The presidents of six Charlotte-area colleges and universities have invited Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to debate at the Blumenthal Center."

No word from either campaign, though Obama had already agreed to a debate in April.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Patty McHenry Eats Lunch with Soldiers, Becomes Expert on Iraq

So there was little Patty McHenry, Republican congressman from the NC-10, trying to figger a way out of facing his primary opponent, retired U.S.A.F. Lt. Colonel Lance Sigmon, in a debate, and someone suggested, Why not go to Iraq and eat lunch with soldiers, so he did.

Thus killing two insurgents with one stone, as it were, both avoiding a face-to-face with a man he's afraid of and coming back home an instant expert on warfare and its perfect cheerleader.

In Iraq at lunch McHenry had the gall to assert, "I came here with a deep understanding of the sacrifices troops are making, that Americans are making." "Deep," if a puddle is deep.

Made us flash on Congresswoman Virginia Foxx's earlier quick visit to the Green Zone and her subsequent pronouncement that all is well with the American occupation of Iraq. And how'd that work out for ya, Congresswoman?

McHenry did at least manage to avoid the debate.

If He Can't Fill a Room, He Can at Least Blow Smoke

J.R. Munoz-McNally of the Statesville Record & Landmark attended the Bill Clinton event in Charlotte last Friday and says the lack of a crowd was next to embarrassing: "...only 97 seats were set up for the audience, and about one-fourth of them were still unoccupied at the scheduled time of Clinton's arrival."

Organizers filled those empty seats by literally begging people to come in.

This was the event, incidentally, when the former president said, "I think it would be great to have two people [running against each other in the general election] who love this country," meaning (first) that he'd relish a face-off between his wife and John McCain because (second) they both love their country ... and ... Obama DOES NOT. Obviously!

The clip of Clinton saying the one and implying the other has been all over cable TV news, with little mention that he was saying it to a handful of people, some of whom had to be dragooned into the folding chairs.

Republican Lite vs. Democratic Light?

When Jim Neal was in Boone last week, he said that his chief opponent in the May 6th Democratic primary for U.S. Senate was a weak reflection of Elizabeth Dole and would be serving the same wealthy and powerful interests as Dole. "Republican lite," Neal said of state Sen. Kay Hagan.

This morning's profile of Hagan by Rob Christensen seems to confirm Neal's summation.

1. "She is a soccer mom and political insider, a well-to-do civic leader who sent her children to private school in Greensboro while advocating in Raleigh for public education."

2. "During her decade in Raleigh, Hagan has carved out a reputation as a pro-business Democrat."

3. " 'She follows orders well -- whatever [Senate leader Marc] Basnight and [Senate Majority Leader] Tony Rand want,' said former Republican state Sen. Mark McDaniel, a Greensboro businessman who lost to Hagan in 2002."

4. "She voted in favor of providing incentives to corporations that provide jobs, she favored the creation of a state lottery..."

5. "Hagan also looks after local business interests. She helped shave back a proposed increase in the cigarette tax in 2005 -- from the 45 cents a pack proposed by Gov. Mike Easley to 30 cents a pack."

6. "...she joined other Democrats in the state Senate last year in voting to cut income taxes for the wealthy rather than cutting the sales tax, which disproportionally falls on the poor."

"...she voted for a two-year moratorium on executions. She voted against a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages...."

And she often does charity work on Christmas morning.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Interesting piece today in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on the political fracturing of the monolithic evangelical vote. An excerpt:
...Evangelicals are emphasizing broader political issues, the old leadership of the religious right is dying, and the young don't care as deeply about divisive issues such as gay marriage. Some are disenchanted after having one of their own in the White House for eight years.

"Among my evangelical friends who voted for Bush in 2000, they thought he was going to end abortion and gay marriages. Instead, they got the war in Iraq, tax cuts for the super rich and they got Katrina," said Shaun Casey, a professor of ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington.

"Half of the evangelical electors are in play," Jim Wallis said in a February visit to Georgia....

Obama Rally in Greensboro on Wednesday

Apparently. That's what the Greensboro mayor is saying. At the Coliseum.

Meanwhile, the Holmes Center (seating capacity around 8,500) sits idle.

If Not for Sour Grapes, They'd Have to Eat Crow

This headline on this a.m. caught my attention, even through the cottony fog of my Easter creme-egg hangover: "GOP state parties are in dire straits." North Carolina isn't even mentioned in the article, but still.

The North Carolina tea leaves are not that difficult to read. There's this analysis of party identification, relying on Pew Research Center data, which shows great promise for our state to swing blue this fall. Scroll down on that page and you'll see that North Carolina has recently been experiencing a net gain of over 5,000 new Democratic voter registrations per week. That's net gain, over what the Republicans can show. Democrats are currently even outpacing the unaffiliated in registrations.

Fundraising for John McCain continues to lag, as it does for most of the GOP candidates for NC guv (not sure about McCrory's numbers). Locally, the almost complete collapse of the Watauga County GOP is still the talk at the barbershop, where sour grapes have become the snack du jour: "Well, I don't intend to vote anyway!"

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Morn Rotten Eggs

1. Another example of how rigid ideology leads Madam Congresswoman Virginia Foxx by the nose, to the point of endangering lives and property in eastern Winston-Salem, endangered by a faulty and decaying dam which she refuses to vote repair funds for.

2. 'Pears that the corporate corruption of academic freedom has been much further advanced than we previously knew, with John Allison successfully foisting millions of $$ onto other North Carolina colleges so long as he gets to establish the required reading, which includes "Atlas Shrugged" by hack pulp novelist Ayn Rand, notorious atheist and promoter of personal greed.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Mote in Our Eye

David Mielke, who spent 25 years teaching at Appalachian State University and is now a Lutheran minister, writes in today's News & Record about the unfair guilt by association being visited on Obama because his pastor and friend said some inflammatory things.

Wise observations from a Christian pastor who confesses that he's sometimes said things that made his congregants angry.

Obama Will Visit Hickory, NC

At least according to the Hickory Daily Record he will.

Most likely next month.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Bill Comes Due

Bill Clinton will be campaigning for his wife in Charlotte and in Cary.

Dates? According to this, not specified.

But where's Hillary?

The Charlotte Observer says Bill will be in the Queen City this Friday, at a VFW post (remember when the military couldn't stand the Clinton presidency?). Then on to Cary to meet with senior citizens.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Paularoid Thinking Deemed "Superfluous" by Wake Co. GOP

Flash! At its annual county convention last night, the Wake County Republican Party averted having to deal with the opinions of Ron Paul supporters by adjourning their convention before 12 Paularoid resolutions could be heard and voted on.

Miz Katy thought such outlandish ideas had no business offending the virgin ears of a county Republican Party: "...they had no business at a county party's once yearly convention. Katy's Conservative Corner suggests that they take their beefs to the Republican National Committee."

Accomplished buck-passing, that!

But it was late and no one wanted to miss News at 11.

More Kudos

Boone developer Rob Holton is becoming Boone visionary Rob Holton. First his Green Business Plan and now his vision for connecting the county through a network of hiking trails.

They're estimating that the plan for mapping potential trail routes in the county will take 900 hours of labor. Getting easements and constructing the trails will take years, decades, beyond that. We're lucky to have a man of Rob Holton's vision leading the effort.

A walking trail from Boone to Todd, from Boone to Blowing Rock! One can't help reflecting how everything old is made new again. This country was criss-crossed once upon a time by buffalo traces and hunting trails. Even after European resettlement, a farmer in one drainage valley might talk about "stepping over the mountain" to trade in another.

We have something here that many people without it will pay to see, to experience close up. Rob Holton is thinking creatively how to enhance it, preserve it, yet use it without using it up.

We are fortunate to have him working so tirelessly amongst us.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Virginia Foxx, Off Her Meds and Onto Her Broomstick

The Charlotte Observer editorializes today about the increasingly Mad Miz Ginny act that Virginia Foxx is staging in Washington.

"She was right about one thing: She doesn't know the definition of socialism."

What she really meant anyway is that she hates -- HATES -- the thought of government helping poor people but loves it when her richest supporters can belly up to the trough. Socialism for rich people is just fine, as in the Bears Stearns bailout. Has she shown any TERROR about that?

E.J. Dionne, today in the WashPost:
Never do I want to hear again from my conservative friends about how brilliant capitalists are, how much they deserve their seven-figure salaries and how government should keep its hands off the private economy.

The Wall Street titans have turned into a bunch of welfare clients. They are desperate to be bailed out by government from their own incompetence, and from the deregulatory regime for which they lobbied so hard.

We Don't Need This

Certainly looks as though Diane Hamby is playing a form of gotcha politics in the Democratic primary for the 5th Dist. congressional seat. It ain't welcome.

It's an old game: issue a press release challenging your opponent to a debate and then immediately say your opponent is ducking debates. But the gambit doesn't work so good when the 5th Dist. chair comes out in the press and says you're lying.

The irony about all of this buffalo dust in the W-S Journal is that both Roy Carter and Hamby will be together next Wednesday in Boone for the Democratic Women's Club luncheon at the Broyhill Inn & Conference Center. Together and taking questions at the same time. (Details can be found under 'Events' here -- scroll down: note that reservations are necessary, to insure enough seating for everyone.)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Theme of the Day: Republican Economics

People are zeroing in on economics under the regime of Foxx & Friends. Bailing out a big-ass bank while common people lose their homes sorta clarifies a great deal about political philosophies and has served to focus some minds.

Meanwhile, Virginia Foxx is throwing around "socialist" (since "liberal" doesn't seem to be working so well any more) in order to scare the feces out of some Charlotte Chamber of Commerce types about this upcoming presidential election. Sez she, "I don't know the dictionary definition of socialism," which allows me to plaster it as a witch label on the two front-running Democrats and claim that they -- THEY, as opposed to US, who've actually been running the economy the past seven years -- will doom us all.

Everybody's trying to sum up this moment ... the denial of Republicans like Virginia Foxx for ANY responsibility for this mess ... but we like the straight-forward approach of Jim Thompson in the Jefferson Post from next door in Ashe County:
From Ronald Reagan's voodoo economics of the 1980s, to Bill Clinton's NAFTA and China trade agreements, to George Bush's free trade and staggering deficits, the American middle class has been under seige for 28 years. The middle class has been dragged towards poverty, pushed out of the political process by wealthy donors, and watched as the most basic American Dream -- a better life for your kids -- has disappeared. Add to this the fruits of our ignoring Jimmy Carter's pleas to end foreign oil dependence, and you have a grim picture indeed....

To sum up, the next president will inherit disaster from the Bush Administration. Whoever sits in the White House next year will face enormous challenges to turn the nation around, and restore public confidence in our future. The times are dangerous, and the need for real leadership great.

Foxx Gets Heartburn and Decides to Share

Watch the Bush administration defend the indefensible and get back-talk from a self-described "dumbass hillbilly" who can still tell a hawk from a handsaw.

Though Madam Virginia Foxx evidently CAN'T. She's busy getting acid reflux over the mere thought that the Democrats are gonna take over and will "doom us" economically. The Democrats? Who dug us this hole over the last seven years?

Foxx is worried that these proud accomplishments of smooch-buddy George W. Bush might be turned around?

$1.46 - the price of gas in January 2001.

$3.18 - the price for a gallon of gas now.

37,426 - the number of North Carolina families who lost their home last year due to foreclosures.

$1.1 billion - the cost of subprime mortgage-related foreclosures in lost property value

12.73 percent - the decline in median income in North Carolina, from $44,862 in 2000 to $39,797 in 2006.

$236 billion - the budget surplus President Bush inherited when he took office in 2001.

$163 billion - the budget deficit the flawed policies of the Bush Administration created.

$3 trillion - the national debt under President Bush

$63,938 - the average tax cut per family member North Carolina residents in the top one percent income bracket received between 2001 and 2006.

$1,932 - the average tax cut received by middle-class North Carolina families in the past six years.

The only way to get over such heartburn, Madam ... is to blow it out your ass.

Obama in Charlotte This Wednesday

Few details available at the moment. He'll also visit Fayetteville.

No Holmes Convocation Center rally on the horizon ... yet.

It's gonna be a town-hall meeting, 3:30 p.m., at the Grady Cole Center in Charlotte. Admission free but tickets required (which can be obtained through the Obama website). Courtesy of "Under the Dome."

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Jim Neal Campaigns in Boone

Democratic senatorial candidate Jim Neal spoke to Watauga County voters at Espresso News Saturday afternoon.

Neal is one of five candidates vying in the May 6 primary for the privilege to face Republican incumbent Senator Liddy Dole this November.

Responding to a wide range of questions, Neal spoke at length about "the perfect storm" now arising in our economy. He mentioned that in 2001, gasoline was $1.46 a gallon and is now $3.18, and everyone expects it to top $4.00 by the end of this year. Over 37,000 North Carolinians lost their homes in 2007 due to foreclosure. The median family income in North Carolina actually declined almost 13 percent from 2000 to 2006.

Neal said that his work in private sector investment banking has given him a much clearer understanding of the massive debt that the Bush administration has saddled us with and of their mismanagement of the economy generally.

While the Republicans raise the specter of "socialism" at any talk of university health care for American citizens, they are not at all concerned about the economic socialism of bailing out Bear Stearns from its own mismanagement.

With the value of the dollar tanking and with the crisis deepening in the home mortgage industry, Neal said every American had every right to be very worried about the future.

Senator Dole represents business as usual, according to Neal, and she has lacked the understanding and/or the courage to challenge the Bush administration on any of its policies.

"Our national independence is threatened as the U.S. government borrows money from China to finance record budget deficits. We are mortgaging America's crown jewels -- our productive assets -- to finance massive trade deficits."

Other questions directed at candidate Neal centered on the high cost of health care and on federal education policy represented by "No Child Left Behind."

He drew distinctions between himself and his leading opponent for the Democratic nomination, state Senator Kay Hagan. She represents the establishment, he said, and she's prepared to continue doing business as usual. "I'm the outsider."

He pointed out that while Hagan has been a chief budget-writer in the NC Senate, she voted to lower taxes on the wealthiest citizens. She has said that she agreed with George Bush about telecom immunity from criminal prosecution for domestic spying. She has also said she would have voted to uphold the Bush veto of the S-CHIP expansion.

"It seems that Senator Hagan thinks this campaign is about calling in favors from high-dollar Capitol insiders to pay for carpet bombing the state with poll-tested political ads, but the people of North Carolina deserve better."

"How is she different from Elizabeth Dole?" Neal asked.

Other Democrats running in the May 6th primary are listed here.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Obama Agrees to NC Debate

According to the N&O this a.m., Barack Obama has agreed to a debate with Hillary Clinton in North Carolina on April 19th, to be hosted by CBS News. That will be the same Saturday that most Democratic county conventions will be happening across the state.

The Clinton campaign has not yet agreed to the match-up.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Republicans Are Gonna Nominate the "Liberal" McCrory

Mark our words: Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory's going to get the Republican nomination for governor. It's going to happen because on May 6th the conservative vote is going to fracture all over the place, among Fred Smith, Bob Orr, and Bill Graham, and McCrory will walk away with it. The "liberal" Pat McCrory.

And then Bev Perdue will be in a heap o' trouble come November. Those fabled winds of change will favor McCrory.

North Carolina "Virtually Irrelevant" to Clinton Campaign?

The Clinton campaign steps in bigger 'n' bigger cow pies, trying to spin it that she's actually the front-runner for the nomination. Most recently, Clinton's senior advisor Harold Ickes told the NYTimes yesterday, "They're great states, but Idaho, Nebraska and the Carolinas are not going to be in the Democratic column in November. [Obama is] winning the Democratic process, but that is virtually irrelevant to the general election."

Like Kos, we noted Ickes' curious turn of phrase, that Obama is "winning the Democratic process" -- he's ahead in delegates and in total popular vote -- but that those are mere trifles (and "virtually irrelevant") when you're bulldozing your way to a coronation.

An Obama spokesman scolds the Clinton camp for "waving the white flag" in North Carolina, and we appreciate BOTH implications in that phrase. They've been trying to marginalize Obama as "just the black candidate" for some time.

Meanwhile -- and this was a total surprise this a.m. -- Democratic frontrunner for NC governor Beverly Perdue has endorsed Obama. Her chief rival for the governor's office, Richard Moore, had already endorsed Obama some weeks back.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Appalachian Shrugged

Back several years ago ... maybe as far back as a decade ... BB&T titan John Allison tried to give ASU a bunch of money to found a Center for the Advancement of American Capitalism. The ASU Chancellor at the time actually accepted the money, but then the faculty senate got wind of what was happening and began to look into what Allison was all about.

Turns out he was all about Ayn Rand, the Russian-born American novelist and philosopher who wrote "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged." Rand developed a philosophy about capitalism that she called "objectivism." She despised any element of society that tended toward socialism ... that is, any feint by society toward trying to help the weak. Self-sacrifice would, over time, destroy any nation, she wrote. Greed is good; religion ain't. The needs of others should never be put ahead of Self, she said.

Think Gordon Gekko from the 1987 movie "Wall Street." Gordon Gekko in a skirt.

The faculty at ASU did not much cotton to the notion of an academic "center" on its campus dedicated to advancing this philosophy of objectivism. Clearly, its objective would have been indoctrination, not investigation.

However many years later, John Allison has finally found his university patsy, Marshall University up in Huntington, W.Va. Allison's BB&T Charitable Foundation has given Marshall $1 million to establish the BB&T Center for the Advancement of blah blah blah. The grant specifies that a certain specific book must be required reading for all students: "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand.

Not that we have anything specific against torturing post-teens with great fat unreadable tomes, but it just goes to show you that not all the whores in this world work for The Emperor's Club. Some of them will be teaching at the BB&T Center for the Advancement of yadda yadda yadda.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Uh-Oh ... McHenry Comes in Second in Republican Straw Poll

At the Catawba County Republican Convention last Saturday, Lance Sigmon, who is challenging Rep. Patrick McHenry in the May 6th Republican primary, got over three times as many votes in a straw poll as the incumbent did, 49-14. (Hmmm. Very few Republicans in attendance, but we digress.)

You might want to notice that Catawba County Republicans have never felt much affection for McHenry, especially after McHenry beat their popular sheriff David Huffman in the primary of 2004.

Afterward Sigmon chose his words very carefully in issuing a victory statement: "It is clear from the almost 78 percent preference these conventioneers expressed for me, that my message of maturity, integrity and decency are qualities voters expect of their officials."

Maturity, integrity and decency. One could spend hours unpacking the implications behind those three nouns.

For his part, McHenry returned the spite, especially toward Catawba County Republicans. He had his spokesman say that he wasn't invited to the convention and didn't know about it, and then this:
The Catawba County GOP leadership is completely out of touch with the Republican base, and this vote simply reflects the fact that a handful of bitter supporters of David Huffman's failed 2004 campaign ate dinner together. Congressman McHenry enjoys incredibly strong support in Catawba County and in every other county of the Tenth District for his work to stop illegal immigration and spur economic growth, and that's why he'll win both the primary and general elections by wide margins.

Well, okay then.

Watauga Landslide Hazard Maps

Printed copies of the recently completed landslide hazard maps for Watauga ARE available now in the county's planning office. Very few people so far have looked at them.

The digital versions, which will take a viewer into much finer detail, are not available yet but should be by early summer.

We're unclear, even after last evening's hearing on HB 1756, "Artificial Slope Construction in Mountainous Areas," whether the digital versions will be specific to individual parcels. The concern among real estate brokers is that the disclosure of potential landslide risk to prospective buyers cannot be mandated with maps that do not get specific to individual parcels.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Bad Air

The lede yesterday to the Raleigh N&O's article about the U.S. Senate candidate hand-picked by New York Senator Chuck Schumer to challenge Liddy Dole this year:
"There is an air of inevitability about state Sen. Kay Hagan."

If we were on Sen. Hagan's campaign team, that sentence would have curled our toes and clabbered our blood, since we all realize by now what "inevitability" can do to some campaigns in This Year of Change.

And ... like Chuck Schumer knows squat.

Hagan's prime rival in the May 6th Democratic primary, Jim Neal, the non-Chuck Schumer candidate, will be in Boone, meeting and greeting Watauga County voters, this coming Saturday, March 15, at 3 p.m. at Espresso News on Howard Street.

You'll perhaps recognize him by the fact he's not lugging around the heavy baggage of "inevitability."

Heard on the Intertubes

Tom Jensen, yesterday, at Public Policy Polling, commenting on the fact that a Democrat was elected Saturday to replace former Republican House Speaker Denny Hastert in Illinois, a Congressional district where no Democrat was given a chance of winning:
I think it's pretty much a given that Larry Kissell has an even chance of knocking off Robin Hayes. But when Democrats take victories like this it's also an indication that in this political climate Daniel Johnson really could knock off Patrick McHenry if things swung the right way, and whoever emerges from the Democratic primary in the 5th District could have a shot at Virginia Foxx as well.

People in the NC-5 have been saying this for months. Nice to see it echoed within the Raleigh bubble.

Southern Baptists Get a Revelation

The last time the Southern Baptist Convention had anything to say about the environment was last year. The 2007 annual meeting of the denomination approved a statement questioning the belief that humans are largely to blame for climate change and warning that increased regulation of greenhouse gases will hurt the poor. Take that, global warming! Up yours, Al Gore!

That was then. And amazing what a few additional months hath wrought.

Today, some 35 leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, including the convention's president and some of its most hide-bound political warriors, released a statement, "A Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change," admitting that current evidence of global warming is "substantial," and that the threat is too grave to wait for perfect knowledge about whether, or how much, people contribute to the trend.

"We believe our current denominational resolutions and engagement with these issues have often been too timid," according to the statement. "Our cautious response to these issues in the face of mounting evidence may be seen by the world as uncaring, reckless and ill-informed. We can do better."

We call this a conversion experience.

More cynical observers might call it PR. The Southern Baptists were on the losing side of a world-wide movement, and many younger evangelicals are as dedicated to reducing their carbon footprint as they are to Sunday services.

Friday, March 07, 2008


The Watauga County Green Business Plan, developed under the leadership of Rob Holton and the Watauga County Economic Development Commission, was rolled out yesterday at a "lunch 'n' learn." It's an ambitious and wholly worthy effort to get county businesses onto a sustainable trajectory, and we'll be rooting for it to succeed.

The plan has its own (so far, under-developed) website, but we had difficulty downloading the Green Business Plan "program document" (pdf). We were able to read through the requirements for Green Business certification and were impressed by both the breadth of the "green" commitment and the teeth that have been worked into the plan for verification and enforcement.

The bottomline that is driving this movement is that "green businesses" attract an increasingly educated and discerning clientele that do not want to spend their money with businesses which are not recycling, nor auditing their own energy use, nor practicing environmental stewardship. In other words, there's money to be made in going green, though there may also be some up-front costs in getting started in the right direction. Who knows ... maybe this is the first local step toward eliminating entirely our most ubiquitous roadside litter -- Styrofoam fast-food containers and plastic grocery bags.

The Green Business Plan is certainly the right direction for Watauga County and, we think, makes us fairly unique among western counties in the state ... if not statewide.


Former County Commissioner Keith Honeycutt's letter in today's Watauga Democrat caught our attention and prompts this response:

1. If letters to the editor were pitches in a baseball game, and if we were calling the balls & strikes, this one would be low and inside. Dude, that was just nasty, both the tone of it and the targeting for your scorn, aimed at the newest elected member of the Boone Town Council (and beyond her, the entire Town of Boone).

2. In four years on the County Commission – and we sat in on many, many of those meetings -- you rarely passed up an opportunity to bash the Town of Boone as a threat to freedom, civilization, and the pursuit of happiness. Fair enough, if that's the way you see the county seat and our largest municipality, but your long pattern of overt hostility makes us wonder when exactly the town licked all the sugar off your lollipop. (And can't somebody buy this child another lollipop?)

3. The Town of Boone did not cause the County Commission to run the bill up into the several tens of millions of dollars on the new high school. That is wholly the County Commission's deal. Councilwoman Aycock is quite correct in pointing out that the County is asking town residents in effect to pay twice, both their assessed county taxes AND the slack from waiving what the county evidently sees as a nuisance. In the scheme of things, $82,000 or even $100,000 is small potatoes compared to – what? – the $39 million total price tag. Yet from the tone and text of your letter, a semi-informed bystander might think it was the evil empire of Boone that ran the bill up to $39 million. It was not.

4. This is not about saving a small amount of money off the total bill so much as it's about bullying the town.

5. You seem awfully protective of the prerogatives of the County Commission, curiously invested, even, in protecting its dignity (which is all in a huff, evidently annoyed and insulted by town fees) ... when you, in fact, while you were on the County Commission and could have done something to further a new school, you would never vote to raise the necessary money to build it. At least, you voted no every time, didn't you, on the several county budgets that included modest tax increases to pay for the new school? We don't know about anybody else, but we're not inclined to trust the fiduciary piety of someone who says he wants a good education for all but who doesn't want to pay for it.

5. Sorry, but this letter has "surrogate" written all over it. That election is over -- happened last fall -- and your guys lost.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Harbinger for Patrick McHenry?

News that one of the most influential and venerable Republican families in the NC-10 is abandoning the reelection campaign of Congressman Patrick McHenry in favor of his Republican primary challenger must be a cringe-inducing moment for the McHenry organization.

The challenger, Lance Sigmon (is that a name for a colonel in the Air Force, or what? or a name for a male porn star?), is going to give McHenry a fit of the willies before the polls close on May 6th.

Come Into Our Parlors!

We wanna be courted, dammit. We've gone cabin-fever craaa-zee waiting for some humongous rallies and wall-to-wall political advertising and platoons of foot soldiers going door to door with presidential candidate lit and clipboards!

The News & Observer says it's all coming to North Carolina.

Radio and TV sales reps are doing jigs, we hear.

Nothin' says lovin' like 30-second TV spots.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

With Friends Like This...

It's one thing when a commie pinko site like WataugaWatch finds fault with Madam Virginia Foxx -- "it figures!" saith the cynical -- but whatcha gonna say about The Conservative Voice highlighting her (very visible) shortcomings?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Glossing Over

Apparently, and according to today's Watauga Democrat, Republican Party Chair Jim Goff was prepared to ignore the corpse in the room at Saturday's Republican Party county convention and ac-CENT-jew-wait the positive, until some unidentified woman (we always imagine these troublesome people speaking up from the back row) interrupted the proceedings. I find it appalling, she reportedly said, that the party didn't have any candidates to run for any of the County Commission seats.

That wasn't in the script.

And then tumbled out all the "just wait until 2010" rationalizations and the I-would-have-run-if-I-weren't-so-devoted-to-my-family excuses and (we assume) the triple sour grapes that the new Watauga High School will EVENTUALLY do in the Democrats.

Plus one quite well known local activist urged everyone to show up for County Commission meetings for the next two years and use the public comment opportunity to belly-ache out loud about how Republicans know how to do everything right except recruit viable candidates for public office.

First at the Salad Bar, Last at Making Salad

Madam Virginia Foxx, bless her heart ... ranked 399th for effectiveness (out of 435 members of the House of Representatives).

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Update on Coy Privette

So what DID happen to Cabarrus County's most famous abetter of prostitution who also moonlights as a county commissioner, Baptist preacher, and megaphone-wielder for the "moral majority"?

When last we heard, Mr. Privette had pled guilty to aiding and abetting prostitution and had promised he'd resign his seat on the Cabarrus County Commission once he sold his house. According to Privette, he and his wife planned to move into a retirement village out of the county. The local Republican Party was pressuring him to resign, though his term of office on the county commission doesn't end until 2010.

Turns out Mr. Privette did sell his house, but he ain't going nowhere, especially he's not vacating his seat on the County Commission. The local Republicans are flabbergasted. The chair of the county GOP said, "It became obvious pretty quickly that he wasn't going to be a man of his word."