Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hang Dog

Sen. Ben Nelson gets no Blue Dog love in Nebraska. How tragic, how sad, how well deserved.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Foxx's Hatred of Obama Hurts the 5th District of N.C.

Rep. Virginia Foxx's vote against the "Jobs for Main Street Act" was her last official act before leaving Washington to return to Watauga County for Christmas. It was more than just a vote against seeing President Obama succeed in any measure in turning around the Bush economic downtown. It was a vote against the people of her own district.

The bill in question, which passed the House without a single Republican vote, included money to extend unemployment benefits another six months, aid to help local communities retain teachers and firefighters, and money for public works projects.

Madam Foxx is much more dedicated to saying "NO!" to anything the Obama administration proposes for getting us out of the economic trainwreck that Bush caused than she is to helping her own constituents, and she actively depends on a non-existent or compliant news network in the 5th District to get away with it.

Few people seem to know how she votes in Washington or how those votes hurt our local communities.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Burr Wrapping Himself in the Bush Era

News that Karl Rove will do a fundraiser for Sen. Dick Burr in Raleigh in January produces a shiver of recognition: This IS, after all, a senator shaped by, made by "the awful aughts," and we certainly needed to be reminded of the massive failures of that whole crew.

The Burr "optics" are most curious but very revealing: nothing of solutions, nothing of a vision for the future, but just the same old same old, a discredited past and a nasty politics. Abysmal symbols for a lackluster public official.

Rove, incidentally, will be shaking his money-maker for Burr fresh off his second divorce. He's sure to stress family values!

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Private Fun and Public Profit of Rotgut

What would you suppose would be the top-selling booze here in the heart of the Bible Belt?

Think about it for two minutes and you're bound to hit on Vodka.

Makes sense, no? The folklore is that Vodka does not leave a telltale odor on one's breath, so your fellow church-goers need never know.

Fact is, 80-proof Aristocrat Supreme Vodka, distilled (incidentally) in Bardstown, Ky., is the top-selling liquor in North Carolina's state-run ABC stores. It costs the state of North Carolina less than 50 cents a fifth, by the way, and the ABC store price is $5.67 a bottle (cheap! but a steep mark-up nevertheless).

Sunday, December 27, 2009


"Abstinence only" indoctrination for American teenagers has proven to be mightily productive of unplanned pregnancies and not much else, except pious posturing by conservatives who say they want government out of our lives except when it comes to teenager indoctrination. Yet abstinence only proponents are hoping that any new health reform legislation will empower their stupidity with more government money.

According to the WashPost, "The health-care reform legislation pending in the Senate includes $50 million for programs that states could use to try to reduce pregnancies and sexually transmitted disease among adolescents by teaching to them to delay when they start having sex," even though the budget signed by President Barack Obama earlier this year zeroed out such funding as hilariously ineffective.

Some powerful senator or group of powerful senators managed to squeeze $50 million back into the conservative trough, and if we know Obama the Great Compromiser, he'll go along with it.

Albert Einstein called it insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Well Okay Then

Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) sez that the watered-down Insurance Conglomerate Protection Act of 2009/2010 is just all right with her, including the bribes paid to Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and others not yet disclosed.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Oh, That Smell!

...of lobbyist cash, that is.

Sen. Dick Burr, topping the list for fundraising parties and the predictable flocking of like-feathered lobbyists who want to stuff money up his ever-lovin' patootie.

Nothing like corporatocracy and cocktails, eh, Senator?

Unfortunately, any number of Democratic Senators are also dog-paddling in those same Martinis.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Insurgent Tea-Partier Opposes Foxx

Brad Smith, the Wilkes County disaffected Republican who is trying to gather some 17,000 signatures on a petition to get himself on the fall ballot as an independent candidate opposing Madam Virginia Foxx, made the front page of the Winston-Salem Journal today. He has a website and a page that allows you to print a copy of his petition specific for your county.

Congresswoman Foxx was unavailable for comment.

Holding her breath and hoping Mr. Smith goes away?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Obama Losing His Base

It's his fault. It's President Obama's fault. What ... he thought he could rev up a coalition that wanted real reform and then betray it with a sell-out to corporate money and to Joe Lieberman? Apparently, he and his advisors naively thought that everyone would just fall right into step behind The Insurance Company Bail-Out Act of 2009, that his fans would accept any bill rather than a good one.

The web-based Obama troops, 13,000,000 of us on the Organizing for America (OFA) listserv, received e-mails on Wednesday, asking us to phonebank our senators to support the Joe Lieberman version of health insurance reform. We contacted Kay Hagan, all right, but not to urge her to support that piece of garbage. Politico sez the revolt is widespread and going viral:
One leading OFA volunteer in Florida blasted an email to a statewide listserv urging activists to "just say no" to the phone-banking effort -- uncorking a torrent of frustration from Florida Democrats -- while some OFA subscribers replied directly to the call-to-action email with angry messages and others asked to be removed from the list entirely.

Dave Hearn, an optician in Iowa who helped organize for Obama's campaign said that the president "is taking for granted that the volunteers who worked so hard for him were going to buy in to whatever strategy he chose to pass his major legislative initiative .... What am I going to say: 'I hate this bill, but we're Obama people, so let's do it?' "

That ain't working. Ain't working on any number of levels, and it's Obama fault for not fighting for what he said he wanted, both during the campaign and right regularly since he took office.

"If this bill passes, it will be because Joe Lieberman threw a hissy fit and was allowed to control what went into the bill," said Susan Smith, an OFA activist from Tampa. "That means that in the end, he had more power with President Obama and Senator Reid than we do. If he is rewarded, this tactic will be used over and over again to kill the progressive agenda."

Susan's got it right. Obama's got it wrong. It remains to be seen if this president can be a leader and a reformer or merely a jet-setting speech-maker.

Clamming Up

Here's a headline you don't want to see if you're a governor, or an ex-governor:
Easley aide takes the Fifth

The Easley aide of the headline also loses his job at the fancy Raleigh law firm where Easley himself is still employed. The N&O has the story.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

MeckCo Official Calls Colleague's Dead Son "A Homo"

Meet Bill James, Republican County Commissioner in Mecklenburg. He's a dick.

Tuesday night during a County Commission meeting in which a majority of commissioners agreed to offer domestic-partner benefits to county workers in same-sex relationships starting in 2011, Commissioner Vilma Leake spoke about her own son's death from AIDs, following which Commissioner James leaned over to Commissioner Leake and asked: "Your son was a homo, really?"

Leake responded: "You're going to make me hurt you. Don't do that to me. Don't talk about my son."

Yesterday Mecklenburg County Commission Chair Jennifer Roberts said that James should apologize for using the slur to a fellow commissioner.

Ever the jerk, Commissioner James has refused to apologize.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Larry Kissell's Possible Primary Opponent

Larry Kissell, the first-term Democrat representing the NC-8, voted against the health insurance bill which the U.S. House passed and which is several light years better than the hardened turd favored by Joe Lieberman and Barack Obama in the Senate.

Kissell has been in trouble with his Democratic base in the NC-8 ever since.

There's a movement to recruit lawyer Chris Koury to run against Kissell in the 2010 primary, and no less than the chair of the Mecklenburg Democrats is cheering Koury on.

There's going to be a lot more of this sort of primary activity if the Democrats in the U.S. Senate get their way with what they are currently proposing as "reform" of health insurance.

Faith Healing

Trying to find some relief from marinating our noggins in the corporatocracy of Washington, D.C., and the craven Democratic Senate, and trying to avoid the growing thought that Democrats are no more capable of reform than the goddamned party of Virginia Foxx, I turn for relief to the obituary of Oral Roberts, the self-aggrandizing faith-healer of yore who died yesterday at the age of 91.

When I was growing up a rawboned teenager in West Texas, the TV in our house was tuned to Oral Roberts every Sunday afternoon. My mother totally gulped that particular display of righteousness, and so did I, wishing to please my mother and, naturally, the Lord.

"Be healed!" he shouted at men and women and little children, holding them firmly by the shoulders and then striking their foreheads with his open palm. Many fell backward, dazed by the power of God or of man and suggestion, into the waiting arms of two strong men strategically positioned for that purpose.

My mother totally believed. So did I, mainly, though there was maybe an occasional wee shadow of a doubt that crept through my synapses even at that age. I had been trained to recognize doubt as the voice of Satan, nothing less. But seeing the man on crutches have his crutches confiscated after being smote on the forehead by the Reverend Roberts, yet still require the strong assistance of those two evangelistic side-men to get back off the stage, could make even a devout 14-year-old risk eternal damnation and say, "Hey, wait a minute."

Well, Oral Roberts, your version of health care is gonna be more in demand, if the Democratic Senate (a.k.a., the for-profit Insurance Industry) has its way, and equally effective, most like.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Eff Them All

The effing Senate Democrats, at the behest of effing Rahm Emanuel, are producing an effing DISASTER of a so-called reform of health insurance, while making effing Joe Lieberman the Supreme Dictator of its contents, which puts us in the effing awkward position of having to applaud the inevitable NO vote that effing Madam Virginia Foxx will cast against whatever piece of shit finally emerges from the combination of the House and Senate bills, because, probably, the effing House Democrats will capitulate too.

Democrats Determined to Self-Destruct

Mr. Rahm Emanuel, representing the wishes of Mr. Barack Obama, ordered Sen. Harry Reid to kiss Sen. Joe Lieberman's ass yesterday, and Sen. Reid obediently got on his knees.

From all appearances, there will be no health insurance reform that means squat. Plus, from all appearances, Mr. Emanuel and Mr. Obama are intent on losing their majorities in both houses of Congress next year, because (hey!) the profits of Big Insurance Companies come first.

For his part, Sen. Lieberman is going to need more compass to strut:
Mr. Lieberman could not be happier. He is right where he wants to be -- at the center of the political aisle, the center of the Democrats' efforts to win 60 votes for their sweeping health care legislation. For the moment, he is at the center of everything -- and he loves it.

"My wife said to me, 'Why do you always end up being the point person here?' " he said, flashing a broad grin in an interview on Monday.

Sen. Lieberman is a post turtle who thinks God put him up there. We all know it was Rahm Emanuel.

Monday, December 14, 2009

This Just In

POLITICO Breaking News:

"The White House is encouraging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to cut a deal with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), which would mean eliminating the proposed Medicare expansion in the health reform bill, according to an official close to the negotiations. Lieberman threw health care reform into doubt Sunday when he told Reid that he would filibuster the bill if it allowed Americans ages 55 to 64 to purchase coverage in Medicare."

Oh Jeez.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Future of the N.C. Senate

The two most powerful Democrats in the N.C. Senate already departing the premises ... Tony Rand and David Hoyle. Speculation now burning bright about arguably the most powerful Democrat in all of state government, Marc Basnight, president pro tempore of that chamber.

Lengthy article in today's Washington Daily News RE Basnight's health and the prospects of his running again next year.


Newest U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham sez he applauds Obama's Afghanistan surge. Rival U.S. Senate candidate Elaine Marshall, not. Elaine Marshall supports a public option reform for health insurance. Cal Cunningham, not so much, deigning to admit only that he'd vote to let debate go forward.


Those are some clear distinctions in the upcoming N.C. Dem primary, differences that don't in our mind tilt in Cunningham's favor.

In fact, Campaign Diaries is driven to perhaps the unkindest comparison one could make at this time: Is Cal Cunningham shaping himself to be North Carolina's Creigh Deeds, the recently defeated Dem candidate for governor of Virginia, who failed miserably to ignite his own base?

Thanks to the heavy thumb of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Cal Cunningham today looks less like an attractive insurgent than like the good ole boys' boy.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Per the Watauga Democrat: "Mike Steinback, chairman of the [Appalachian State University Board of Trustees'] business affairs committee cited the current economic climate and uncertain state funding levels as reasons for" ... For what? Wait for it ... for raising tuition and fees the maximum allowable amount in the 2010-2011 term.

This makes sense? "The current economic climate" is so dismal that ASU finds it advisable to raise tuition 6.5 percent on the very people suffering from that climate?

The tuition increase is nothing compared to the proposed gouging on fees: "The trustees also want to increase fees by $350 per year." Ouch.

This bizarre policy still has to pass the University system's Board of Governors, so maybe Jim Deal can offer some different perspective.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Elaine Marshall on Afghanistan Surge

Elaine Marshall, one of three Democrats announced who say they're running in the 2010 Democratic primary to challenge Sen. Dick Burr, issued a statement on President Obama's decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan:
I acknowledge that there are no easy answers in Afghanistan and I respect the time and consideration that the President took in making his decision. However, I disagree that now is the time to commit 30,000 additional men and women to prop up a corrupt government that has shown no real effort to reform itself. The mission that we are about to undertake has too much to do with building a nation that has not had a stable or responsible government in decades and too little to do with keeping us safe at home.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

We Rebuke Thee, O Sinner!

Impeach him for the highly public tickling of the fat potato-finger of lust? Not so much.

Instead, "the special [S.C.] House impeachment panel approved an official rebuke of Sanford for bringing 'ridicule, dishonor, disgrace and shame' on South Carolina, its citizens and the governor's office."

A sternly worded scolding.

Not that anyone will ever notice the glaring inconsistency, that the censure route was not judged to be nearly severe enough for that ole randy goat Bill Clinton. It's just hard to cut your own livestock from the herd, right guys?

Virginia Foxx: 'Let's Talk About Character!'

Talking Points Memo picks up on some spilled acid from Madam Foxx's recent interview with the Winston-Salem Journal. Democrats have no ideas, sez she, so they talk about character, including, we assume, hers.

Okay. We'll go for that.

Her behavior at the buffet line of life reveals a good deal about character: "All for me, none for you."

That attitude of shoveling everything that's not nailed down into her over-sized pockets and purse and big cloth shoulder bag -- while sneering at everyone else's prospects of getting just a taste from the food bar -- extends itself to her attitude toward health insurance reform: She's got hers, both Medicare and a very generous government health-care plan. But none for you, suckas!

Her line: "There are no Americans who don't have healthcare. Everybody in this country has access to healthcare" (July 24, 2009, in a Capitol Hill press conference).

The woman has been on the government payroll -- local, state, federal -- most of her grown-up life and has not been shy at taking advantage. One might say that guv'mint has been veryvery good to her. Meanwhile, she lectures everyone else sternly: "Getting gouged by predatory credit card interest rates? It's your own fault. Get a different credit card!"

Or this, one of my all-time favorite Foxx quotes: "The worst thing we can do is to get government involved in solving problems" (September 16, 2003, in the NC state Senate's special session on medical malpractice lawsuit reform). That's Foxx in a nutshell: All for me, none for you.

Sez she, "Don't have health insurance, you lazy bum! Go to the Emergency Room, and maybe they'll take care of you. Or put out a collection jar at Smoky Mountain Barbecue. Maybe you'll raise the half-million in $$ you'll need for treatment, a nickel or dime at a time."

That's character, Virginia Foxx-style.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Nailing It on the Churchhouse Door

Pretty impressive manifesto posted over at BlueNC today about the 2010 campaigns which are looming like summer thunderheads, a very bold calling out of the politics and politicos of the Democratic Party's past. We applaud it, and we plan to think about these things ... HARD.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

How the Republicans Play in Wake County

The Republican take-over of the Wake County school board has already been chronicled.

Now add the Wake County Commission, where one Democrat is sick (and hence absent) from the 4-3 Democratic majority, and another commissioner had to go to the bathroom, so in her absence down the hall in the crapper (so to speak) the Republican commissioners elected one of their own as chair.

Maybe you'd better read about it for yourself. Wasn't this the plot of a bad Dick Van Dyke comedy in 1967?

Who Knew the NC Constitution Was Such a Dick!

The US Constitution, Amendment 1: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

The NC Constitution, Article 6 Sec. 8: "The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God."

On the basis of the N.C. document (while ignoring the U.S. one), there's a group in Asheville trying to deny recently elected Asheville city councilman Cecil Bothwell his seat on the council because he once wrote a book critical of evangelist Billy Graham.

Plus this, in the Asheville Citizen-Times article: "Bothwell labels himself an atheist on his MySpace page, though he wrote in an online post last week on fellow incoming councilman Gordon Smith's blog, Scrutiny Hooligans, that he prefers the term 'post-theist.' Bothwell added: 'I don't deny the being of Almighty God; I simply consider the question of denial or acceptance irrelevant." (But soooo what?)

Some are threatening a law suit ... but against whom? Sue Cecil Bothwell, because he doesn't toe the theocratic line? Or sue the City of Asheville for swearing in an (okay, let's go for it!) atheist?

Good luck on that prospect! But, really, go ahead and sue and let's get this stupid line stuck down in our state constitution.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Cal Cunningham Is In

Cal Cunningham is announcing this a.m. that he'll be formally entering the Democratic primary race to challenge Sen. Dick Burr on the ballot next year.

He's got an announcement video up here.

McCrory Slams Door on Future with the NCGOP

Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, making his exit today from 14 years of incumbency, shreds the Eleventh Commandment for Republicans, which is to say, he speaks ill of some fellow GOPers.

As in ... Sarah Palin is an obvious bobblehead and the national Republican Party has begun to feel like acid reflux. Not in those exact words, but still.

When and if he decides to reenter politics, the right-wing of his party (which is to say, his party) is going to make him eat those words.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Burr: Senator or Sock Puppet?

Sen. Dick Burr has taken $274,586 in campaign contributions from the health insurance industry throughout his career, which certainly helps explain his dependable shilling for the health insurance industry in trying to defeat health insurance reforms in the U.S. Senate:
* In an interview with Fox News in September, Sen. Burr claimed that "no plan, currently considered or passed, in either the House or the Senate," extends coverage to all Americans. However, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that House bill would cover 97 percent of Americans. [North Carolina Policy Watch, September 30, 2009]

* In a November radio interview with radio host Bill LuMaye, Sen. Burr said about the House bill, "It doesn't have reforms in it. The only reform that's really there is that we do away with preexisting conditions." In truth, however, the bill contains numerous other insurance reforms, including caps on out of pocket expenses and lifetime limits, as well as market accountability through health insurance exchanges. [North Carolina Policy Watch, November 17, 2009]

Thanks to Public Campaign Action Fund for blowing this particular whistle.

Republicans Have Them a Celeb To Run Against Kissell

Well known and now retired Charlotte sportscaster Harold Johnson sez he's just the empty suit to take on Larry Kissell in the NC-8.

Johnson's got the time. Johnson's got the hair. Johnson's got the smile. He's THE PERFECT Republican, all hat and no cattle.

Now, Kissell's got his own problems these days with his base, but he's also got time to make some repairs to those bridges.

And Johnson, a teleprompter-reading celebrity in the rah-rah sports arena, might be our choice for an opponent, if we were running the Kissell reelection campaign. Anyone remember famous race-car driver Richard Petty's run against Elaine Marshall in 1996? It actually takes a little more than (totally unqualified) TV notoriety to get into office.

Inadvertently lost the link to the Jim Morrill story in today's Charlotte Observer.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Piles of Toxic Coal Ash Near You

Bruce Henderson digs into Duke Energy's dirty legacy of coal ash deposits across North Carolina in today's Charlotte Observer ... which evokes certain memories of the Christmas TVA coal ash spill on the Tennessee River last year.

Coal ash is known to be full of arsenic, mercury, and a dozen other ingredients fit for a witch's brew, and Duke Energy's coal-fired power plants produce tons and tons of it every year. In the NC-5, "Duke had to shut down an old ash landfill at its Belews Creek plant in Stokes County last year after groundwater samples repeatedly broke state safety standards."

Some 2.7 million tons (million tons) of Duke's ash was piled out on the ground between 1992 and 2003 without protective liners that are now required at landfills.

We ain't begun to calculate the true costs vs. benefits of corporatocracy.

And don't even get us started on the fact that much of that coal comes from mountaintop removal mines north of here.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Buncombe County Commission "Knocking on the Doors of Hell"

Citing the Forsyth County case, the Buncombe County Commission will no longer precede its meetings with an official prayer, opting for a moment of silence instead.

The board's attorney said in a statement, "On November 9, 2009 a magistrate judge with the US District Court for the Middle District of NC issued a recommendation of judgment against Forsyth County as the practice violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution .... The Forsyth case is based on facts establishing that out of 33 invocations prior to meetings only 7 did not contain some reference to Jesus, Jesus Christ, Christ, Savior, or the Trinity, and none of those 33 invocations invoked another deity associated with any faith other than Christianity. Such statistics are no doubt common here in the Bible Belt and I believe are also fairly representative of such a sampling before our Board."

To be legal prayers before the opening of a government body must be non-sectarian in nature and not endorse one faith or denomination over another.

Naturally, such a decision, even in Asheville, could be guaranteed to invite the raining down of hellfire, starting with the recently defeated right-wing former town councilman Carl Mumpower and local conservative "activist" Don Yelton, who said, modestly and with hardly any hyperbole, "I am reminded of what some [Jewish] friends told me, they did not know how fast it could happen. Hitler. We are knocking on the doors of hell right now. Please get your pastors to get awake and take a stand."

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Wake County School Board ... The Sound, The Fury, and The Dyspepsia

The new conservative majority on the Wake County School Board took control yesterday, and they seized the moment to install themselves in power, to spring new agenda items on the board's minority without prior warning, and to end the hated "diversity" policies of the previous majority. It was a tumultuous meeting. Citizens yelled at them. Teachers walked out. And ... oh, yeah ... one of the new board members regaled the crowd with a Bible reading.

We don't pretend to know all the background on the issues (Keung Hui of the N&O has a barebones recap of the major actions taken yesterday), but the crowing of the John Locke Foundation crowd tells us a great deal about this particular regression in educational policy.

Andrea Verykoukis at The Progressive Pulse points out that the new majority arrived for their swearing in with an agenda they'd obviously worked out and agreed on beforehand and asks if that could possibly be legal. They did, and it was legal, and if I were in their position I would have done the same thing, though perhaps with less jackbooting. If the new right-wing majority is going to operate in this arrogant manner, however, I would expect them to remain in the majority no longer than the next election.

Might Be Worth Holding Our Breath For

Charlotte angling to get the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Boy howdee!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Foxx Is the Richest

Member of Congress from North Carolina. She has a minimum net worth of $2.4 million. Minimum.

"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich [woman] shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich [woman] to enter into the kingdom of God." (Matt. 19:23-24)