Monday, November 30, 2009

Forsyth County, Wasting Money

Re Forsyth County government's answer to a magistrate's preliminary ruling that praying to Jesus Christ at the beginning of County Commission meetings is blatantly flaunting the constitutional church/state separation ... The continued fighting of this judge's ruling amounts to a misappropriation of taxpayer $$. That is to say, the money it's taking for a lawyer or a team of lawyers to write their justification for why Forsyth County should continue to wrap themselves in Jesus Christ is money better spent on actual citizen services.

Especially when the "fix" is so simple: pray silently to any god you please, preferably the One Who takes an active interest in debt setoff, tax liens, re-vals, and traffic committee reports.

Potential Primary Challenger for Foxx?

There is some Forsyth County talk that Virginia Foxx might get a Republican primary challenger in one Donny Lambeth, currently president and chief operating officer of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and chair of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education.

Lambeth, a former Democrat, would be a moderate, sane antidote to Madam Foxx's irrational psycho manifestation of poisonous partisanship. In other words, he'd have a snowball's chance of beating her.

But the actual goal of a Lambeth run against Foxx in 2010 would be preparing himself for a 2012 race for what Forsyth County activists hope will be the redistricting result of the 2010 Census, the carving out of a new district for Winston-Salem which would shove Foxx off onto the rest of us while Tobacco Central takes a more rational course into the future.

Good luck with that agenda.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Foxx Gets Challenger on the Right

Apparently, Virginia Foxx has officially become part of the "Washington establishment," as a Glenn-Beck-inspired independent candidate is gathering petition signatures to get himself on the fall 2010 ballot to oppose her. Brad Smith is a Wilkes County construction supervisor for W.A. Lankford metal buildings. He's a former lifelong Republican disillusioned with his party's leaders.

Where can I sign that petition?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Virginia Foxx, Historical Revisionist

Guest Blogger: Karl Campbell

Last week, while commenting on a bill to designate a river "wild and scenic," Representative Foxx waded into historical waters beyond her depth. While trying to make a valid historical point that Republicans deserve credit for beginning some good environmental programs (and she is right, if you go back 40 years to the Nixon administration), Foxx made one of the most ridiculous comments of her political career:
FOXX: ...and actually the GOP has been the leader in starting good environmental programs in this, in this country, uh, just as we were the people who passed the Civil Right bills back in the '60s, without very much help from our colleagues across the aisle. They love to engage in revisionist history.

Revisionist history? No serious scholar would agree with Foxx's statement. President Kennedy, who proposed the first significant civil rights act, and President Johnson, who passed both that act and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968, were Democrats. Almost all the African-Americans who took the beatings in Birmingham and Selma either were Democrats or became Democrats soon thereafter. Here in North Carolina, and across the country, many white Democrats who opposed civil rights legislation left the party and joined the new Republican coalition that increasingly belittled the African American struggle for freedom. Jesse Helms railed against these courageous people in his editorials on WRAL (Foxx also misspoke while trying to defend Helms a few minutes later).

Representative Foxx embarrassed herself by trying to recast history and wield it as a political weapon. Pundits and politicians on cable news and liberal blogs have rightfully attacked her for her silly blunder.

But there is more to this story than most Democrats would like to admit. Liberals would do well to give the topic of politics and civil rights more careful attention. There is a hidden truth behind the headlines.

For several years now some shrewd Republican leaders have played the civil rights history card during debates about the GOP's record on race. Unlike Foxx's heavy handed oversimplification, they correctly point out that without Republican support, led by Republican Senator Everett Dirksen from Illinois, civil rights bills would never have become law. For instance, look carefully at the following numbers about the actual voting rights bill that passed both chambers in 1965 before the final conference bill:
Senate: 77-19
• Democrats: 47-17 (73%-27%)
• Republicans: 30-2 (94%-6%)

House: 333-85
• Democrats: 221-61 (78%-22%)
• Republicans: 112-24 (82%-18%)

Note that while there were more actual Democratic votes, the percentage of support was higher among Republicans. Why? The reason is because Southern Democrats -- including North Carolina Senators Ervin and Jordan -- opposed civil rights. Do these numbers mean that Republicans were more supportive of civil rights than Democrats? Of course they don't. A careful reading of the history of civil rights legislation shows that a COALITION of Democrats and Republicans made these important gains in racial justice possible.

So Democrats, be warned. Just as Foxx inaccurately claimed that it was Republicans "who passed the Civil Right bills back in the '60's without very much help from our colleagues across the aisle," it would be wrong for Democrats to oversimplify in the other direction and claim that they alone were the party of civil rights.

History is messier than many politicians would like it to be.

The real irony here is that Foxx has accidentally endorsed a few things she is adamantly against -- like bipartisanship and moderation. When it really mattered, when politicians on both sides of the aisle came face to face with a real turning point in American history, moderate Republicans followed the brave leadership of Senator Dirksen and did the right thing for the country.

Maybe Virginia Foxx should re-read her history and follow her Republican forbearers' example.

Karl Campbell is an associate professor of history at ASU and is the author of "Senator Sam Ervin, Last of the Founding Fathers."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

On the Menu at Montreat: Turkey Hash

Sarah Palin is having dinner with Franklin Graham and his father Billy tonight in western North Carolina.

Back-up to be provided by The Angel Chorus.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Too Many Mad Hatters at the Tea Party

Trouble in the "tea party" movement.

Sez a Texas tea party organizer: "You have some interesting folks in the Tea Party movement -- some of them I can support, but some of them are kind of out there and radical, and I don't want to associate myself with them."

So the supposed "movement" is making like cheap pine furniture: there's a lot of splintering and some sore asses.

Extremism is great for movements ... up to a point (to be specific, the point at which your movement needs to attract more people than it repels by virtue of its Obama-Is-Hitler and health-care-reform-is-the-Holocaust rhetoric).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Triumph of the Foxx/Whitener Republicans

Yesterday's edition of the Watauga Democrat included a guest column written by Baptist minister Herb Hash under the aegis of the Watauga County Democratic Party. The editor of the paper included an illuminating headnote to Rev. Hash's column, as follows:
A couple of years ago, the Watauga County Democratic and Republican parties agreed to submit a monthly column in which their parties positions on the issues of the day would be discussed.

This column published in several editions and was received well by readers.

Over the past few months, the local Republican Party, for unexplained reasons, has ceased to submit any columns.

Since this concept will only work if both parties participate, this column submitted by the Watauga Democratic Party will be the last in this series...." [No link available. These occasional columns have never been included in the Watauga Democrat's on-line edition, but the Hash column can now be read here.]

What the editor did not mention was that (1) early in 2009, at the Republican County Convention, U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx and her surrogates took over control of the county party and ran off the man who had been writing most of their newspaper columns. And (2) the last column submitted by Aaron Whitener, the Foxx-appointed chair of the party and Foxx’s own employee, was an attack on gays signed by a wholly fictitious person, a breach of ethics that the newspaper editor vigorously questioned at the time and about which Aaron Whitener remained guiltily silent and unresponsive.

Despite all that creepy behavior, the Aaron Whitener version of the Watauga County Republican Party now manages nevertheless to win a tactical victory. That is to say, by failing to participate in the local paper’s attempt to offer contrasting views, or by failing to participate honestly in that exchange of views, the Foxx/Whitener Republican Party manages to silence everyone.

Proud To Be a Parrot

Heath Shuler (NC-11) got called out here and in many other places for obediently inserting language in the Congressional Record supplied to him by a major drug company ... by way of justifying a further watering down of health care reform (giving Big Pharma 12 years of shielded exclusivity to "biologic drugs" before cheaper generics could be introduced; alternative legislative language would have granted five years of exclusivity).

The Shuler organization has decided to handle the bad press on this issue by coming out and essentially saying he's pleased to be a Huge Tool.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Worth Checking Out

That's Ramin Bahrani, the native of Winston-Salem (born in 1975) who's becoming a talked-about creative force in the world of movies and whose most recent film, "Goodbye Solo," was shot entirely in Winston-Salem, except for the climax scene which was shot at the Blowing Rock with the wind sweeping up from below exactly the way it's supposed to.

Bahrani is Iranian-American, and his films have a definite knack for melding world-cultures and a humanistic spirtuality seen against the grittiest of urban backgrounds. "Man Push Cart" (2005) chronicled the tough life of an immigrant vending cheap food on the streets of New York City. "Chop Shop" (2007) follows a Latino street orphan hustling in the chaos of auto body shops in the very shadow of Shea Stadium.

In "Goodbye Solo" Winston-Salem has never looked worse, and I suspect the film might give the local Chamber of Commerce a bit of acid reflux, since this is not the Winston-Salem of Hanes Park and the Reynolda House. This is the Winston-Salem of decaying industry, abandoned warehouses, working-class neighborhoods, Quik Piks and strip malls. This is immigrant melting-pot America with Latinos, blacks, poor whites thrown together in the struggle for a slice of the pie.

The main character, Solo, is a Senegalese taxi driver who befriends an old white man who books Solo's taxi for a one-way trip to the Blowing Rock on October 20. Solo, who has a keen radar for fellow human beings, figures out that the old man intends to throw himself off the rock, and he sets about to prevent that.

I won't tell you what happens. See the movie. Then read the interview with Ramin Bahrani for additional insight into his philosophical outlook and his methods.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Words o' Wisdom

Tom Jensen over at Public Policy Polling:
All three of these folks [current top GOP contenders Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee] reinforce the negative perceptions that much of the country holds about the Republican Party. The GOP needs a fresh face that challenges people's assumptions about who Republicans are and is visibly not just going to be George W. Bush under another name. I don't know who that person is, but he/she needs to emerge if the party is going to win back the White House in 2012.

Some conservative talking head the other day -- maybe it was Pat Buchanan -- uttered the name Bob McDonnell in reference to the above perception that something is dreadfully outta focus (rather than mavericky) about the current Republican field of presidential contenders. Which we think kinda proves Jensen's point, if you're turning to the man who just won a Southern governorship but hasn't even been sworn in yet.

McDonnell = a fresh face, yes. But "challenges people's assumptions"? Not so much.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Morning Laundryline

For all the dissension in the Democratic Party, the Republicans have their own internal rotting fish heads.

Congressman Heath Shuler (NC-11) following not just PhRMA's talking points but the talking points that PhRMA specifically tailored for Republican members of Congress ... about protecting PhRMA's huge profits by way of prohibiting generic versions of certain cancer & AIDS drugs. UPDATE: Tom Sullivan at Scrutiny Hooligans goes a more complete blow-by-blow of all this under the appropriate headline "Corporate Ventriloquism."

The Barracuda bites the hand that fed her.

North Carolina Republicans, even with headliner Dick Armey and the personal blessing of Jesus Christ, can't get but 400 measly protesters out in Raleigh over the weekend? Who'd a thunk it!

Republican conservatives dismember their most promising politicians. Fine by me.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A New Favorite Author

Scott Huler lives in Raleigh (though he had the misfortune of being born in Ohio). He's worked and written for the Raleigh News & Observer and done on-air commentaries for "All Things Considered" on National Public Radio. "All Things Considered" is kind of the perfect venue for Huler, since he's a journalistic polymath, writing on everything from the Cleveland Browns football team, to NASCAR, to the ancient world. I just devoured his two most recent books and highly recommend him for his research, his way with words, and his sense of humor:

"Defining the Wind: The Beaufort Scale and How a 19th-Century Admiral Turned Science into Poetry" (2005). When a friend pressed this book on me, I wasn't too thrilled. What a strange topic for a book! But then I started reading, and it was right down my alley for delving into natural history and the way our ancestors successfully made sense of natural phenomena way before Google answered all our questions. I liked Huler's style so much, I immediately got hold of his most recent book...

"No Man's Lands: One Man's Odyssey Through The Odyssey" (2008). This is essentially a travelogue of Huler's funny-odd decision to go everywhere the ancient Ulysses went on his disastrous (but ultimately successful) journey home to Ithaca after the Trojan War, and to try to learn on his own what Ulysses might have learned. This thing turns into a moving essay on middle-agedness for the human male and gave me a new piece of wisdom to live by: "If you really want to get in charge ... master not your enemy but your ego."

Huler will have a new book, "On the Grid" (about infrastructure, of all things), out in May. Can't wait to see how he unpacks the interstate highway system, not to mention all those high-tension wires coming into every home. He has his own website, which is well worth exploring (particularly because it includes photos he took on his personal odyssey that Crown Publishers did not see fit to include in the book).

Kissell Has Some 'Splainin' To Do

Rep. Larry Kissell is North Carolina's newest representative in Congress, elected in 2008 from the NC-8 (which includes all the counties on the South Carolina border, from the eastern suburbs of Charlotte to Cumberland County and Fayetteville). Most analysts agree that Kissell won his seat against the wealthy Republican Robin Hayes partly on Barack Obama's coattails, since Obama carried the district.

Which makes Kissell's vote against the House's "Affordable Health Care for America Act" last Saturday very puzzling. Make that "very maddening," since Kissell was elected on the strength of progressive activism and was thought to be an actual Democrat, as opposed to NC representatives Mike McIntyre (NC-7) and Heath Shuler (NC-11), the Blue Dogs who owe some secret, shadowy allegiance to the political power cult known as "The Family."

For his part, Kissell has been ducking comment since Saturday, while his constituents are pouring on some heat. A group of protestors organized by the Cumberland County Progressives stood in the rain outside Kissell's Fayetteville office yesterday, holding up wet signs that said "Blow the Whistle on Larry Kissell" and "Give Kissell a Big Dismissal." (Rhymes are apparently still the preferred genre for political protests.)

"In the 8th District, we only have one voice in Congress, and that one voice voted against us," said a spokesman for the group. "We're upset that Kissell has been elected -- and really by the coattails of President Obama -- to represent a district where a lot of people need health care," said the president of the local NAACP. "And he didn't vote for it. That bothers me."

Dan Soucek Says He'll Run

...for N.C. Senate, Dist. 45 ... against incumbent Steve Goss.

He ran unsuccessfully for the N.C. House in 2008, against Cullie Tarleton.

This is sometimes called "failing upward."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fight Club

Harrison Hickman, a Democratic pollster, has written "A 2010 Survival Guide for Democrats." I went to it expecting to hate it, if it contained any of the "play defense" advice we've heard emanating from certain Raleigh precincts. But it's aggressive and preaching from the Gospel, far as we're concerned. Stuff like this:
7. Get tough. Voters will take out their anger on you. Take it head-on. They might respect you if you do. They'll know you're weak if you don't. And remember that most of their anger is justified.

Many of our Democratic office-holders will neither read nor follow the advice. That would be asking waaay too much.

Cunningham Won't Run

Cal Cunningham, prominently mentioned this year as another possible contender for the Democratic nomination to take on Dick Burr in the 2010 Senate race, posted on BlueNC late last night that he's decided it's not the right race nor the right time.

Leaving Elaine Marshall and Ken Lewis still definitely in.

And Bob Etheridge, congressman from the NC-2 who voted FOR the Stupak amendment on Saturday, is also still considering a run. We'd advise against it.

Monday, November 09, 2009


Former Watauga County Sheriff Mark Shook, who is now employed in Catawba County as Captain of Detention under Sheriff David Huffman, has registered to vote in Watauga County, using his parents' address as his "place of residence" ... thus ushering in rampant speculation that he plans to run again for his old job in 2010. Because state law mandates an eligibility requirement of "residing" in a county at least one year prior to the election:
§ 162-2. Disqualifications for the office.

No person shall be eligible for the office of sheriff who is not of the age of 21 years, or has not resided in the county in which he is chosen for one year immediately preceding his election.

Mark Shook got in just under the wire ... if, indeed, he's actually living with his parents.

Black Bart

To get the Democratic votes for the narrow victory on Saturday for the House's "Affordable Health Care for America Act," Speaker Nancy Pelosi was forced into a corner by the Blue Dogs, led by Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan. She allowed a vote on the Stupak amendment to the bill which not only outlaws abortion coverage in any public option insurance plan (a redundancy, since the so-called Hyde Amendment already did that) but also outlaws abortion coverage in any private insurance plan if it participates in the eventual federal "insurance exchange."

In other words, the Stupak Amendment effectively bans abortion coverage in all insurance plans, both private and public, an interference in women's health care that is not just a step backward but a naked slap at what has been a legal right of American women since 1973. Some 64 House Democrats voted for this crap. And all the Republicans (save one). They had a major assist from the League of Catholic Bishops.

Bart Stupak is not just your garden-variety Blue Dog. He's also a "C-Streeter," a resident of the Capitol Hill row house where some holier-than-thou male members of Congress pray loudly to God, often about the proclivity of some of their residents to fornicate freely with lesser mortals. The C Street residence has been the safe retreat for several superior "Christian" men, including Mark Sanford of "hiking the Appalachian Trail" fame and John Ensign, who screwed a staff member and then paid her off.

Residents in the C Street house are members of a shadowy and secretive fundamentalist Christian group calling itself The Fellowship. Founded in 1935, it has held clear theocratic designs on government. And also on women, who are obviously supposed to be their obedient vessels.

After Bart Stupak successful cornered Nancy Pelosi into throwing American women under the proverbial bus Saturday night, he dutifully cast his yea vote for final passage of the thus severely restrictive "Affordable Health Care for America Act" and then was observed from the gallery of the House chamber to do the following:
Stupak, during the vote on the final bill, didn't stick around long. He cast his vote quickly and shook the hand of Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), then headed over to the GOP side, where he was warmly welcomed.

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), a strident partisan, was the first to greet him, shaking his hand and slapping him on the back. Stupak then found [Republican Minority Whip Eric] Cantor and [Alaskan Rep. Don] Young, shook their hands, and retired from the floor to the Republican cloakroom.

Birds of a feather.

Meanwhile, another key group of the progressive coalition, pro-choice women, is hung out to dry. And Democrats wonder why they may start losing more than just Virginia and New Jersey.

Foxx Defends Predatory Credit Card Companies

Let's review, shall we?

1. May 13, 2009: The U.S. House passes (resoundingly) sweeping credit card reform legislation aimed at limiting abusive and deceptive credit card practices, like raising rates on people who pay their minimums on time. The law (signed by President Obama) mandates February 2010 for implementation. Most House Republicans vote for the measure, but not Virginia Foxx. She's one of 64 Republican House members who vote against the bill.

2. Between May 13 and now: Credit card companies start jacking up their interest rates and fees in advance of the law's taking effect. That's called "In your face, Congress!"

3. November 4, 2009: Congress responds to the behavior by voting to move up the deadline for implementation to December 1 of this year. The Expedited CARD Reform for Consumers Act of 2009 passes the House 331 to 92, and if you're guessing that -- yep! -- Virginia Foxx voted against this too, you'd be right. Plus she said this on the floor of the House: She called the bill unnecessary and said "people who take out credit cards don't have a gun to their head. If you don't like the rate, get another credit card."

Ah, that milk of human kindness! Are you flashing on "Let them eat cake," like I am?

Foxx's attitude, combined with the practices of the credit card companies, earned The Madam another blistering editorial in the Charlotte Observer.

Friday, November 06, 2009

The New Poster Child of the NCGOP

Apparently they couldn't get Michelle Bachmann nor Sarah Palin, so Tom Fetzer and the NCGOP will use under-informed and under-performing poor Doug Hoffman, fresh off his loss in the NY-23, as the headliner for a Raleigh fundraiser (Hall of Fame Dinner on November 21). Oh goody.

What were we predicting a couple of days ago about Hoffman's becoming the new face of the GOP?

Tom Jensen, reacting to this news over at Public Policy Polling, sez, don't underestimate the North Carolina Republican Party's ability to defeat themselves in an environment that might otherwise conventionally favor their electoral chances:
If the Hoffman model is what [Fetzer & Co.] want to emulate they may just find a way to screw it up in a political climate that appears to be very favorable for them. Democrats have kept power in recent years despite one corruption scandal after another because voters in North Carolina think the Republicans are just too extreme and incompetent. You'd think they'd try to learn from those lessons and put a different face forward that could actually appeal to voters in the center but I may have overestimated them.

Another Blistering Editorial Against Madam Foxx

This one in today's Winston-Salem Journal.

Madam Bobblehead

Madam Virginia Foxx stood on the west front of the Capitol yesterday, shucking and grinning as one of Michelle Bachmann's backup singers, basking in the glow of some 5,000 anti-abortionists and tea partiers bused in by Americans for the Prosperous to shut down the government and kill health-insurance reform. Many of the demonstrators were covered in fake blood and carried mangled dolls, representing aborted fetuses, as someone else dressed as the Grim Reaper mimicked leading them all to hell. Other demonstrators chanted "Weasel Queen," their favored nickname for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

In Madam Foxx's line of sight were a number of protestor signs: President Obama in white coat, his face painted to look like the Joker; "Stop Obamunism"; "Obama takes his orders from the Rothchilds" [sic], accusing Obama of being part of a Jewish plot to introduce the antichrist; and a pair of 5-by-8 foot banners proclaiming "National Socialist Healthcare, Dachau, Germany, 1945." Both banners showed close-up photographs of Holocaust victims, many of them children.

Those huge Nazi death-camp signs were the visual manifestation of what The Madam had already said on the floor of the U.S. House this past Monday.

Anyone who watched any of this bizarre Michelle Bachmann rally yesterday ("Taking the GOP Off the Cliff") could not miss Madam Foxx and her helmet of white crazy-lady hair. While others ranted at the microphone, she was always nearby, the perfect marionette, though for all her mimicking of great pleasure at being there in the company of so many other political whores, she looked as nervous and as pained as someone secretly passing gas in an elevator.

When her turn came at the microphone, she bellowed, "This Congress is on a collision course with the principles of freedom and liberty that our Founding Fathers bled and died for. We will not be silenced. We will kill this bill."

Well, they ARE clearly the Party of Death.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Fetzer's Grip on Reality

"Under the Dome" allowed NC GOP Chair Tom Fetzer to go on about how Tuesday's elections are good omens for North Carolina Republicans without bothering to ask him how he explained the virtual sweep of municipal elections by not only Democrats but by progressive Democrats and what that might portend for next year's races.

It's like Fetzer is chair of the Virginia Republican Party, since looking north for inspiration was all he wanted to do. Understandable, since North Carolina cities (except for Greensboro) turned down Republicans flat in Tuesday's elections. Hell, we hear that even North Wilkesboro went progressive.

We don't know enough about Greensboro politics to understand what went down there, but it was bad for Democratic incumbents. For what it's worth, you can read the Republican interpretation of the meaning of that city election here ... by a Greensboro blogger.

The Shame, The Humiliation

The Charlotte Observer today features a blistering editorial about Madam Foxx, who is "more than just mildly embarrassing for North Carolina." She's positively "find-an-island-to-ship-her-to embarrassing." And then this small shiv directed at you and me: "how-can-voters-keep-electing-her embarrassing .... Her words and actions should scare voters in her 5th District, which stretches from the Piedmont to the mountains. In 2010, they should take that fear to the polls."

Maybe someone from Watauga would like to post a comment below that editorial: "Foxx is unable-to-carry-her-home-county-in-the-last-two-elections embarrassing."

WE know all about her "stoopid is as stoopid does" antics in Watauga. It's the other 11 or 12 counties in the 5th District that apparently approve of being representated by her.

Exit Rand

Tony Rand, Democratic Majority Leader in the NC Senate and arguably the second most powerful member of that body, is resigning from the Senate to take an appointment as chairman of the state parole board.

Politicians (along with Mother Nature) hate a vacuum, and Rand's departure will leave a big one.

There's an interesting profile of Rand's career in today's N&O.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Republican Brand

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-Poisontoadsville) is waaay too important for his britches.

On Sunday he left his SUV Ford Explorer (compensating much, Patrick?) illegally parked at the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. "The front tires were on the curb. The back tires were in the driving area of the parking lot, one resting atop a yellow speed bump." The photographs that the Gaston Gazette reporter took are precious!

McHenry's spokesman said the Congressman was running late, had somehow temporarily misplaced his personal servants, and was greatly needed on urgent national business of shoving cream pie in Barack Obama's mug.

North Carolina Round-Up

Where was the celebrated Republican/conservative resurgence in North Carolina yesterday? Nowhere much.

...elected its first Democratic mayor in 22 years, Anthony Foxx (no relation), pictured left, and increased the Democratic majority on the city council to eight out of 11 seats.

Progressives swept the election. Mayor Terry Bellamy was reelected for a second term, and liberal Democrats Esther Manheimer, Gordon Smith, and Cecil Bothwell won council seats, beating two-term incumbent Republican Carl Mumpower, who ran such a weird campaign against Heath Shuler in the NC-11 last year. Both Smith and Bothwell are well known local bloggers.

Chapel Hill
The N&O summarized this race succinctly: "The liberal establishment held off a band of businessmen trying to change the town's course." So Chapel Hill has a new mayor, Mark Kleinschmidt, and the developers took only one of four available seats on the town council. Shades of Boone's Templetons: The pro-business candidates "were being influenced heavily by a specific group of developers, and I think in the end that backfired on them," said the top vote-getter, Penny Rich (love that name!).

Big reelection win for Dan Besse after "a sometimes-heated campaign" against Republican challenger Ted Shipley. Wish I'd been following this one! Dan is a personal hero of ours. Looks like a Democratic sweep otherwise in Tobacco City.

Democratic incumbents trounced their challengers, though the top vote-getter among the losers, a Libertarian, crowed that his 27% of the vote was a personal best for him and a sign of great things coming in the future.

The major bright spot statewide for the GOP. The mayor and city council turned over to Republican control. Mark Binker discusses it here.

The New Face of the Republican Party?

Meet Doug Hoffman, losing candidate for the U.S. Congress in the NY-23. Hoffman did NOT run and lose as a Republican. He ran and lost as a tea-bagging conservative. The GOP did NOT initially pick Hoffman as its candidate. No, it was worse than that. It picked a "moderate" Republican woman, Dede Scozzafava, who does not hate gay marriage and is pro-choice on abortion rights. Which led (as we're sure you know) to a major uprising within Republican and tea-bagger ranks. Ended up that every major Republican presidential hopeful in 2012, along with many other prominent national Republican spokespeople, bailed on Scozzafava and started endorsing Mr. Creepy Man Hoffman. Got so bad that Scozzafava pulled out of the race and endorsed the Democrat, the Unknown Man, Bill Owens, who won last night ... the first Democrat to be elected from the NY-23 since before the Civil War. Put that in your tea bag and steep it!

If this is what the conservative movement brings to the Republican Party, GOP operatives have very little to be strutting about this a.m. Exit polling in both Virginia and New Jersey strongly suggest that the voters in those states were not lashing out at President Obama. They were lashing out at Corzine in New Jersey (good riddance to all such present and former Goldman Sachs bankers, sez I). In Virginia, the 2008 Obama voters stayed home and demonstrated that Virginia definitely ain't for lovers. It's for old people.

Certainly, in North Carolina Tom Fetzer and the state GOP have precious little to crow about (from what we've been able to see so far this a.m.). But more on that in a subsequent post.

The elections in New Jersey and Virginia WERE about Obama in one way: those states went for him a year ago because he promised change, he promised an up-ending of "business as usual," he promised visionary leadership and progressive ideals. He has not delivered. He surrounded himself with the wrong people, and instead of dynamic leadership, we've gotten maddening caution and Rahm Emanuel. I might have sat at home myself in New Jersey or Virginia yesterday.

We keep hoping that the other Barack Obama, the one who won that huge election a year ago and told us things were going to be different, is eventually going to actually inhabit the Oval Office.

If he doesn't, 2010 will indeed be awful.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Virginia Foxx and the Epic Fail

Virginia Foxx took over the Watauga GOP last spring, installing her paid employee, Aaron Whitener, as chair and running off the Republican worker bees who didn't agree with her.

The Republicans recruited to run in the Boone municipal elections today (or not recruited, as the case may be) were completely shut out in the election (see results down-column).

But not, as it turns out, without the following stroke of tactical brilliance on the part of the Foxx-paid party leadership: We began to hear this morning from Democrats who were getting robo-calls from a young man who did not identify himself other than to say he was calling on behalf of the Watauga Republican Party, urging the recipient of the call to go vote for the Republican team. And he obligingly named the candidates for mayor and all the Republicans running for council. These calls were happening this morning, after voting had commenced. If they were also underway earlier, when they might have actually produced some benefit, we didn't hear about it.

We repeat ... registered Democrats got these calls. Which served in at least one case to get an apathetic Democrat up off the couch to get dressed and to go in and vote -- armed with the information from the robo-call of who NOT to vote for.

But this is the best part: the robo-call urged citizens to vote for four Republican candidates for council, in what was a three-way race. Did the leadership of the party not realize that the candidate who got 62 votes had actually pulled out weeks ago?

No ... I take it back. This is the best part: Rep. Virginia Foxx is on record opposing political robo-calls. In fact, she's introduced legislation to ban them outright.

When they're used this ineptly, she's absolutely right.

Boone Election Results

For Mayor
Loretta Clawson 787
Tim Wilson 474
John Mena 237

For Town Council
Jamie Leigh 937
Rennie Brantz 884
Andy Ball 828
Matthew Long 510
Harold Frazier 492
Grant Holder 189
Thomas Wilhite 62

Mayor Clawson is reelected for a 4-year term. Jamie Leigh and Rennie Brantz are both elected for 4-year terms, with Andy Ball taking the 2-year term.

Who Is Scarier Than Any Terrorist Right Now in Any Country?

As un-self-aware as Foxx & Friends are in the hallowed halls of Congress, they occasionally actually hit on the truth. Madam Foxx's terror about Democratic health reform does indeed have something to do with her own survival.

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) sort of inadvertently hit on it in an interview he did with right-wing CNSNews. After throwing out all the standard red-meat talking points ("socialism," "government take-over," "tax us to death," "unconstitutional"), he let the real truth slip out, that the American people will like reform too much and thus endanger the future electability of Republicans:
And if they get there [to a public option, for example], of course, you're going to have a very rough time having a two-party system in this country, because almost everybody's going to say, "All we ever were, all we ever are, all we ever hope to be depends on the Democratic Party."

And that's why Madam Foxx is saying health-care reform is scarier than Al Quaida, because even her sorry, lying, thieving, whoring after momentary wing-nut applause ... might actually come to an end.

Which is to say, even the Madam can be beaten in an election, even in the Fifth District. Watauga County has already proven it. That's merely because the people in her home county actually know her. All it will take is for people in the other counties to know her too.

Take That, Blue Cross NC!

The latest Elon University poll found that 54% of North Carolinians support health insurance legislation that would include a public option. Some 41% said they would use a public option plan should one become available.

That latter number amounts to a huge razzberry directed at Blue Cross/Blue Shield of NC, which has spent a secret amount (the corp. won't say how much) sending out multiple propaganda pieces opposing health-care reform, the most recent featuring a postage-paid, pre-printed postcard opposing any public option reform that the recipient is supposed to sign and send to Sen. Kay Hagan. Many people have been altering those cards to reflect the feelings of a majority of North Carolinians (see above), like NC House Rep. Pricey Harrison. We heard about one guy who taped his edited card to a brick before sending it on through the postal system, which apparently is totally legal and costs Blue Cross of NC slightly more than 28 cents.

Next we can expect Blue Cross's $4-million-man, CEO Bob Greczyn, to claim that the high cost of his insurance is due to "socialists" in the state abusing his postage-paid propaganda.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Foxx Shows Her Ass

Keeping in mind that Madam Virginia Foxx is actively scared to death of actual voters in her district and that she does not appear anywhere that doesn't offer "safe," pre-screened, ass-kissing fans of hers, her truly violent statement today on the floor of the House has to be taken with the usual tablespoon of salt, as well as a generous dose of laudanum:
Everywhere I go in my district, people tell me they are frightened .... I share that fear, and I believe they should be fearful. And I believe the greatest fear that we all should have to our freedom comes from this room -- this very room -- and what may happen later this week in terms of a tax increase bill masquerading as a health care bill. I believe we have more to fear from the potential of that bill passing than we do from any terrorist right now in any country.

You can watch the whole sorry display here.

So, you understand, right, that the "threat" of health-care reform is worse than the threat from any terrorist in any country in the world?

This is a respected representative of the political party that is counting on us giving them control again over our lives, our welfare, and all our futures in 2010.

No thanks.

Will That Moose Hunt?

Less than 48 hours before the election for governor in Virginia, at least some of the state's voters began getting robo-calls from Sarah Palin.

Apparently, she can see Virginia from her house.

The Republican candidate for governor up there, Robert McDonnell, a right-winger of the Pat Robertson school, had politely requested that Palin not stick her cute little button nose into his election campaign, fearing that the state's independents might not cotton to the under-informed former Alaska governor (who couldn't even get through a single term in office).

Curiously (or perhaps, understandably, given the above paragraph), Palin does not mention McDonnell by name: "Virginia, hello, this is Sarah Palin calling to urge you to go to the polls Tuesday and vote to share our principles. The eyes of America will be on Virginia and make no mistake about it, every vote counts. So don't take anything for granted, vote your values on Tuesday, and urge your friends and family to vote, too."

"Your values" = gay-bashing anti-abortion get 'em women back in the kitchen, all of which fit McDonnell to a tee.

The calls are being paid for by the Virginia Faith and Freedom Coalition, the state branch of a national conservative group founded by former Christian Coalition director (and Jack Abramoff palsy-wowsy) Ralph Reed.

McDonnell is heavily favored to win over Democrat Creigh Deeds, but perhaps Palin intends to brag that she turned the (already very red) tide in McDonnell's favor. She ain't nothing if she ain't an opportunist.

Ray Warren Stepping Down

Former Alexander County Sheriff and two-term member of the N.C. House Ray Warren says he will not be running for reelection in 2010.

He won his Dist. 88 seat in 2006, the same year that local Democrats Cullie Tarleton and Steve Goss won their House and Senate seats, in the Great Mountain Democratic Resurgence.

Unless the Dems in Alexander and Catawba counties have a spanking strong candidate to put up in 2010, this will quickly look like a Republican slam-dunk.