Monday, May 31, 2010

Pathway to Notoriety?

We've tried our best to pay no attention, since "hiking the Appalachian Trail," to what goes on politically in South Carolina, which is to say the extra-marital scandal du jour, which is why we've refrained from picking through the rumpled linen of leading Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley and the outing of her illicit love affair with a conservative blogger (so bloggers do get out of their pajamas occasionally, albeit only to climb into bed with fresh meat). That the spilling of those beans was done by the fornicating blogger himself almost got us going, especially as he was also formerly the public spokesman for Gov. Mark Sanford, of that Appalachian Trail hike fame, and who could resist the convergence?

Well, we did.

Until now.

Over at Balloon Juice, blogger DougJ ruefully reflected on the uptick in blog traffic such a public scandal was sure to provoke:
Do we really live in a world where bloggers can allege having had affairs with politicians and suddenly become national celebrities? Is this something we at Balloon Juice should consider as a traffic maximization strategy? And who would be a good politician to claim I've had an affair with?

Among the 194 suggestions from readers was this one:
... Rep. Virginia Foxx ... produce a string of emails in which you refer to her as "Representative Foxxxy," or how she was "a Foxx in the Rooster house" or something.

Ok, now I need a shower.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Anti-Abortion Crowd Takes Another Stab at NC

I'm not usually prone to borrowing wholesale from another blog, but I will in this case, as the points are cogent, the issue is alarmingly local to North Carolina, the movement to force women to procreate is repugnant, and there's always the chance that the majority of aging men in the NC General Assembly might decide this year to cave to pressures from the Christian Right. So ... hat tip to BlueNC for this:
Biased and misleading information
Submitted by PPCNC -- local P... on Wed, 05/26/2010 -- 2:51pm

* crisis pregnancy centers
* NC Legislature

Imagine the outcry if North Carolina created a special breast cancer license plate to support organizations that agree to deny women information, referrals, or counseling about the medical options available to treat breast cancer. Substitute pregnancy for breast cancer and, in essence, this is what activists rallying in Raleigh this week to pass "Choose Life" license plates want.

The "Choose Life" bill specifically states that funds raised through the sale of these plates may not be distributed to any organization that "provides, promotes, counsels or refers for abortion." This puts the state in the business of fundraising for organizations that agree to deny women legal health care information at a time of crisis.

For years now, the "Right-to-Life" and other socially conservative organizations in North Carolina have pushed for a "Choose Life" license plate. Since it must be approved by the North Carolina Legislature, these activists tout the plate as either an issue of free speech or as a benign fundraising tool for "crisis pregnancy centers."

First off, just because a person is free to speak a lie or, in this case, deny women legal health information, it doesn't mean that the State should sanction this speech by fundraising to support it.

Second, "choose life" is pure political sloganeering. No other approved license plate in North Carolina panders to the politics of one side in a divisive argument.

Finally, implicit in their argument is that "life" is on their side. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Every single minute of every single day a woman dies from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth -- 536,000 women every year. Of course, the majority of these women live in lesser developed countries where abortion is mostly illegal, family planning hard to come by, and prenatal care virtually unheard of.

In fact, the abortion rate in countries where abortion is mostly banned often equals or exceeds the abortion rate in the United States. The primary difference is that in countries where abortion is illegal, women die at a much higher rate from abortion -- so much for "choosing life."

The quality of life enjoyed by most women in the U.S. hinges on access to safe, legal, and affordable reproductive health care options including abortion, prenatal care, and family planning services.

In the United States, sixty percent of women who have abortions already have a child or children. They know the love a child offers as well as the demands of caring for a child. In fact, the number one reason women give for choosing abortion is "concern or responsibility to other individuals." For most of these women, choosing abortion is about "choosing life."

So let's go back to the fallacy of "Choose Life" license plates. Whose life are they choosing? The mock up plate features children rendered in crayon. North Carolinians who want to support children may already purchase a "Kids First" license plate that raises funds for programs that directly serve children.

If the purpose of "Choose Life" license plate is simply to raise money for "crisis pregnancy centers" then would-be license holders should become donors. That's what supporters of most causes do. Assuming the "crisis pregnancy centers" are legitimate non-profit organizations, the donations are even tax deductible.

The final suggestion made by these groups is that Planned Parenthood can get their own license plate to counter the "Choose Life" plate. In essence, their answer is for North Carolina to create two license plate funds: one for Planned Parenthood, that provides women with all of their legal pregnancy options, and a "Choose Life" fund that denies women this information.

Planned Parenthood is far too respectful of women's lives, not to mention the State's budget crisis, to fall for such a wasteful bad policy. We hope the NC Legislature is as well.

Tell your legislators that the state has no business sanctioning and financially supporting organizations that deny women information about services they have every legal right to access. Take action now!

GOP ... Prisoners of Queer Fear

The most recent poll we've seen shows that an overwhelming majority (78%) of Americans believe that gays and lesbians have as much right to volunteer to die in defense of their country as straight men and women do. Which is to say, an overwhelming majority of Americans believe it is time to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

But that 22% homophobic minority is the Republican base, so when the issue came up for a vote in the U.S. House Thursday night, most of the Republicans voted "no" (including Madam Virginia Foxx), and most of the Democrats voted "yes." Except, of course, for three predictable North Carolina Democratic blue dogs, U.S. Reps. Mike McIntyre of Lumberton, Bob Etheridge of Lillington and Heath Shuler of Waynesville. Nothing gay about them!

Just for the record, Bob Etheridge was the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee's first pick to run against Richard Burr this year. When Etheridge, bless his heart, backed off, the DSCC started blowing in Cal Cunningham's ear, and we're still dealing with that particular seduction.

Concrete Business in North Carolina -- Dirtier Than Asphalt?

The proposed Titan Cement plant at Castle Hayne outside Wilmington has created a good deal of citizen push-back, but we find ourselves more concerned about another cement plant outside Weaverville, whose citizen opponents have now been personally sued for "libel."

It's a classic "SLAPP" suit ... "strategic lawsuits against public participation." Companies with harmful byproducts (carcinogenic air pollutants, in the case of cement plants) and deep pockets sue the "little people" in the proposed plant's path. The cement producers can rarely win such a suit, but it makes the little people hire expensive legal counsel and sometimes works to silence them. Obviously. It's a vile and naked exercise of overwhelming power.

In the Weaverville cement plant case, the citizens group is using as a rallying cry the fear of fatal collisions between cement trucks and school buses. Two elementary schools are near the proposed Flat Creek site for the plant. The company's lawsuit claims that an illustration on the opposition's website of a concrete truck apparently about to strike a school bus is libelous because "No [company] cement truck has ever collided with a stopped school bus." In response, the leader of the opposition said it is "preposterous" to suggest that anyone would think the image depicts an event that has actually occurred, particularly since the company has not begun operation.

Think of this: a citizens group wants to protest a proposed new nuclear power plant in their neighborhood and raises the alarm about possible Three-Mile-Island-style melt-downs. The nuclear power corp. sues the citizens for libel because they have never had a melt-down. Preposterous indeed.

The other part of the libel suit out of Weaverville is aimed at the citizens' claim that the company is "owned by an individual with other out-of-state plants that have several environmental complaints against them," one Mark E. Turner. The company's answer is most notable for its weasel words: No "other ready-mix concrete plants owned by Turner, at the time of publication of the letter, have several environmental complaints raised against them," the lawsuit says.

The denial amounts to an admission. The lawsuit has no apparent merit. And the citizens will be squashed.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Henderson County Commission Votes to Open Itself to a Lawsuit

No, the County Commission of Henderson County said to a moment of silent prayer prior to their meetings. No, they said to non-sectarian prayer. No, they said to any citizen not specifically Christian in the Henderson County tradition of that term.

Yes, they said to being sued just like Forsyth County, and to defending themselves from such a suit.

Wise use of public money!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"Vote Right, Or I'm Gonna Keel You!"

Via comes news that we somehow otherwise missed, that NC-11 Congressman Heath Shuler got a death threat over his vote for the Stimulus Bill back last year. A 70-year-old man with "a history of mental illness" and "a large supply of weapons" left a message on the answering machine at Shuler's district office: "If you vote for that stimulus package, I'm gonna kill you. Simple as that...."

When the police followed up and talked to the man, he said, "I was trying to work the political scene."

Wonder where he learned that particular method of working the political scene? Surely not from Limbaugh or Beck, national GOP chair and vice-chair, respectively, or the guys toting side-arms at presidential appearances.

The Teapot Boileth Over

Tim D'Annunzio, called "unfit for public office at any level" by the chair of his party, has now demanded that the chair of his party resign his position for violating the plan of organization of the North Carolina Republicans.

That throwing down of the gauntlet was accomplished at a press conference yesterday in Concord that resembled nothing so much as the Ukraine parliament on one of their vodka-and-rotten-eggs theme day.

D'Annunzio cussed out Tom Fetzer, chair of the NC GOP, who was not there. D'Annunzio refused repeatedly to answer reporter's questions, a somewhat innovative tack to take at a press conference. He ordered a reporter to leave, and when the reporter didn't, D'Annunzio said he'd leave, but didn't. D'Annunzio and his supporters got into a shouting match with Rowan County Republican Larry Lancaster, who evidently does not support D'Annunzio. Another non-supporter, Cabarrus GOP Chair Justin Thibault, got a Bible poked in his face and was called a coward. "That's you. I'm talking about you and the Republican Party that you represent!"

A poster on Justin Thibault's Facebook wall included this insight about D'Annunzio's posse at the press conference:
What was interesting to me was who was attending the press conference as D'Annunzio supporters -- the core of the We The People PAC, formerly known as the Cabarrus Conservative Coalition, formerly known as the Republican Men's Club, formerly known as the Cabarrus Taxpayers Association -- Their treasurer -- Mr. Coy C Privette. If you thought he retired, guess again. If you are a member of We the People in Cabarrus County, and didn't know this little fact -- now you know the rest of the story.

Coy Privette is his own study in high-profile train wrecks.

Oh so little time, so many volatile Republican personalities.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Full Ahead, Backwards!

So Ross Douthat sez that Rand Paul is not so much a tea party insurgent as a "paleoRepublican."

The "paleo" part of that term comes from a Greek word meaning "ancient" or "prehistoric."

Like, backward to a time when a white Southerner didn't have to worry about verbally supporting the God-given rights of businesses to discriminate based on race.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tim D'Annunzio: "Unfit for Public Office at Any Level"

They're ganging up on poor Tim "Machine Gun" D'Annunzio, who is locked in a primary run-off for the privilege of being the Republican nominee who will take on NC-8 Dem Larry Kissell in November.

D'Annunzio is mainly just a blunter version of Rand Paul, but he's so alarmed the state Republican establishment that NC GOP Chair Tom Fetzer came out on Friday and said, "By my personal observation of his behavior, and by acquaintance with his record and background, I consider Mr. D'Annunzio unfit for public office at any level. What he could do to the party as our nominee is secondary in my view to what he could do to the country if he got elected. If he got elected, for crying out loud, that would be a disaster."

We confess to a certain fondness for any major party spokesman who uses the phrase "for crying out loud" in 2010! It's more than just quaint. It's positively endearing.

But poor Tom Fetzer! To have to say such things about the man who took more votes (some 36.85% of the total) than the five other Republicans in the first primary on May 4th!

Fetzer loses either way, whether he succeeds in destroying D'Annunzio's candidacy or not, because he's earned himself and his state Republican Party several thousand potential enemies among the Tea Party and libertopian elements on the right.

The country club Republicans, of which Tom Fetzer is a shining avatar (for crying out loud), want blow-dried Harold Johnson to win the run-off, but Fetzer just knee-capped that campaign too by insuring that many of the D'Annunzio voters will stay home on November 2nd.

Winner ... Larry Kissell!

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Foot Fist Way

NC Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin posted last night about "the skullduggery" practiced by "one powerful state senator" in slipping into the Senate budget bill a provision that would have essentially relieved the Insurance Commissioner of his power to control and cap insurance rates.

The "powerful state senator" Goodwin was referring to was Marc Basnight, the Democratic leader of the NC Senate.

North Carolina Public Radio got on the story Wednesday, before anyone knew it was Basnight who slipped in the shiv:
Stripping an elected official of his power would be a major policy change, the kind of thing you might expect Senate budget writers to notice. They didn't.

Senator Katie Dorsett co-chairs the subcommittee that wrote that section of the budget. 'I do not know where it originated. It came to our committee. We included it. And I was not aware of it.' "

Later on Wednesday, Basnight owned up that he put the provision in the bill, but he indicated that it was a mistake, an inadvertent error, one of those missteps that become a misstep when someone notices it.

That, folks, is the arrogance of one powerful state senator.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

More Phony Baloney Served Up by Foxx

Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (bless her heart!) is Twitter-flakking a new gimmick thought up by Congressional Republicans (voter approval ratings currently in the toilet) called "You Cut" whereby anybody can go and vote on his/her favorite cuts to the Federal budget. It was either Eric Cantor's idea, or he got to roll it out publicly.

Just how unserious is "You Cut"? The Cato Institute, which doesn't fool around with gimmicks, added up ALL of the cherry-picked items the Congressional Republicans offer as possible cuts, which totaled a whopping 0.017% of the total Federal budget.

That's the National GOP in a nutshell ... nibbling at the margins and pretending it's a banquet.

Of course, Virginia Foxx is right there, hawking the horseshit sandwich because she can't think of anything original herself.

Rand Paul Scares Dick Cheney

That was the headline this a.m. in the NYDailyNews, as people everywhere try to figger out what the Kentucky tea party hath wrought in its brand new Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate.

Rand Paul is maybe even scarier than his dad, his eye in a fine frenzy rolling.

The Republican establishment in Kentucky was behind a website -- now completely disappeared --, though the echoes remain. The website has been scrubbed out of existence, and Mitch McConnell is now pretending that he really supported Rand Paul all along. "Some of my best friends want to put terrorists back on American streets!"

People got a pretty good peek at what Paul's libertarianism actually means last night on the Rachel Maddow show. Let the education begin!

"Billy Kennedy, the Gentleman Farmer"

That's the title on an article out yesterday in Yes Weekly, profiling Watauga's own antidote to Congresswoman Virginia Foxx. We're taken with the opening analogy:
If you close your eyes, Billy Kennedy could easily be confused with Jefferson Smith, the character played by Jimmy Stewart in Frank Capra's 1939 classic film, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."

In the movie, the naive and idealistic Smith is appointed to the US Senate by a governor that kowtows to the state's top political boss. Smith runs into political corruption when he tries to advance a bill to create a national boys camp, and becomes discouraged. One of the most famous scenes in the film portrays Smith's marathon filibuster on the Senate floor. Jimmy Stewart's performance is the stuff of Hollywood legend, but his profound words are what stay with us forever.

Kennedy, the Democratic candidate for the US House District 5 seat, spoke with the same kind of idealism and conviction as Jefferson Smith during his address to the 5th Congressional District Democratic Party Annual Convention in Statesville on May 15. Kennedy talked about his personal philosophy and ethos, one that he learned from his parents -- an ethos based on the Golden Rule. He spoke of his love of farming, building houses and crafting furniture. He said his daily life connects him to the land, which has led him to become an environmentalist. Kennedy talked about his desire to leave his farm to his children someday, and to leave it better than he found it.

Unlike most politicians, Kennedy appeared comfortable in his own skin. He was approachable, engaging and genuine. More importantly, Kennedy was sincere in everything he said. He spoke off the cuff for more than 15 minutes, only referring to his notes at the end of his remarks. How refreshing it was to see a candidate that wasn't extensively rehearsed, a candidate who didn't repeat the same talking points at every single public appearance. The audience clearly appreciated Kennedy's sincerity. The candidate received two standing ovations during the event....

Read the whole thing at the link above.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The White House Could Learn, But Will It?

Kentucky Attorney General and winner of yesterday's Democratic Senate primary Jack Conway, with daughter Eva. He'll be facing in November the black frost that is Rand Paul, who routed the state's Republican establishment yesterday.

We know the Tea Partiers will be crowing about the Kentucky results. So would we, if we had led that successful insurgency against Pooh Bah Mitch McConnell and the other sticks-in-the-mud that make up the Republican Establishment.

But the Paul victory sets up a dynamic that could end up giving the victory to Democrat Jack Conway (he of the photogenic baby) in November. The Republican Party in Kentucky is torn, and Rand Paul doesn't have the temperament for sewing it back together. He kinda likes ripping fabric.

All in all, the three key senatorial primaries in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Arkansas were bad news for party orthodoxy on both sides of the aisle, but worse news for the Republicans, since in Pennsylvania a rising Democratic star beat ole Arlen and in Arkansas, another progressive Democrat could well pick off another blue dog in the run-off.

We like the odds of having new faces for the Democrats in all three states, and actual Democrats at that, rather than warmed over former Republicans or whatever it is that Blanche Lincoln has become.

The tea party may well prove to be the death of the Republican Party, while the hyper-cautious, compromising proclivities of President Obama is doing wonders for rejuvenating some Democratic cojones everywhere but in the White House.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Representation That Money Can Buy

The following resolution passed at the 5th District Democratic Convention in Statesville last Saturday:
WHEREAS, Rep. Virginia Foxx voted against the National School Lunch Program (H.Res.362), which in 2009 provided over 31,000,000 meals to school children daily across the nation (more than 800,000 in North Carolina), a hot school lunch being the most nutritious and for many of these children the only meal of the day; and,

WHEREAS, Rep. Virginia Foxx voted against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which has amounted to $168,291,173 of "stimulus" contracts, loans, and grants for North Carolina's 5th District, saving over 209 jobs in the 5th District for local teachers, fire fighters, and police; and,

WHEREAS, Rep. Virginia Foxx voted against the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a bill which will close the prescription drug donut hole for 119,000 Medicare recipients in the 5th District, will allow affordable insurance for 53,000 5th District residents who are uninsured, and will improve insurance coverage for 408,000 5th District residents; and,

WHEREAS, Rep. Virginia Foxx philosophically opposes Medicare and supports privatization of Social Security, both vital safety nets for our senior citizens; and,

WHEREAS, Rep. Virginia Foxx voted against the Credit Cardholders Bill of Rights (H.R.627), which stopped credit card companies from some of their most corrupt lending practices; and,

WHEREAS, Rep. Virginia Foxx voted against the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009 (H.R.1106), which allowed judges to modify mortgage loans for bankrupt homeowners; and,

WHEREAS, Rep. Virginia Foxx voted against reauthorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program (H.R.2); and,

WHEREAS, Rep. Virginia Foxx voted against providing money for school repairs and for creating good jobs in the construction industry (H.R.2187); and,

WHEREAS, Rep. Virginia Foxx voted against two bills that made sure women were paid the same as men for doing the same job (H.R.12 and H.R.11);

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that incumbent Rep. Virginia Foxx is a representative for special interests and is not a representative of the hard-working people of the 5th Congressional District of North Carolina.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

That's Congresswoman Virginia Foxx posing with a poser, one Patrick Thacker, who was passing himself off as a representative of the U.S. Navy Association. Thacker is not a veteran of the U.S. Navy nor an actual member of the U.S. Navy Assoc. He was a "stand-in" at an expensive Florida political reception for Congresswoman Foxx, who has now gotten herself insinuated into a big investigation of the U.S. Navy Association, which has been nothing more than a political fundraising operation for right-wing politicians, complete with fake business cards and an "office" in Washington, D.C., that's nothing more than a P.O. box in a UPS store.

The tangled corruption, and Foxx's dumb involvement in same, was outlined yesterday in an investigative piece in the St. Petersburg Times.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


You know the old saying, that if there's no evidence of a conspiracy, that's just proof that the conspiracy is working!

That was the line of attack of half-term Gov. Sarah Palin yesterday at the National Rifle Association convention in Charlotte. She said that President Obama and Nancy Pelosi wanted to ban all guns in the United States, and her proof is that they haven't done anything to ban all guns in the United States. But they want to, and the more they want to, the more they don't. Which is just a damn conspiracy to confuse all of us real Americans.

I'm not making this up.

The rhetoric at an NRA convention could be used to strip old oak furniture.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Dick DuJour

Madam Virginia Foxx gets the honor.

Not our doing. We don't know these folks.

But we're perfectly willing to share our Congresswoman with the wider world. Take 'er, please!

"Political Puppet," Empty Suit, and Not That Bright

Those are the characterizations of Republican Congressional candidate Harold Johnson, former sportscaster at WBTV and the man the Republican establishment hopes will save them from the hair-brained (and similarly triggered) Tim "Machine Gun" D'Annunzio, who actually led the voting in the 8th District Republican primary but failed to get 40% and must now face Johnson in the run-off election on June 22nd.

The person who used those descriptors of Johnson was D'Annunzio. He was reacting to the news that the former holder of that Congressional seat, Robin Hayes, had just endorsed Johnson, who does not scare the country club Republicans at all, something that evidently can't be said about D'Annunzio, who scares lots of people with more or less stable emotions.

If elected, Johnson will do as he's told by brighter men. D'Annunzio won't, 'cause nobody nowhere is brighter than he. Which sets up the basic conflict in this run-off between the tell-me-what-to-think mainline Republican Party and the up-yours-and-the-horse-you-rode-in-on insurgent tea partiers.

Meanwhile, the man who stands to gain the most from this herculean struggle, incumbent Democrat Larry Kissell, is understandably mum. First rule in politics: don't interfere while your enemy is destroying himself.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

False Lips at Liberty University

Jerry Falwell's Liberty University has formed a committee to investigate the truthfulness of the head of its theological seminary, one Ergun Caner, who apparently has made quite the name for himself masquerading for American fundamentalists as a former jihadist and "terrorist" whom Jesus saved and then installed in a high-paying job at the United States' holiest institution of higher learning.

To Jerry Falwell Junior's great chagrin, it was bloggers, the spawn of Satan, who began punching holes in Caner's fake biography.

But when less Satanic Southern Baptist bloggers start writing stuff like this, you know you're in trouble:
He never came to America "via Beirut and Cairo." He has never been trained as a fundamentalist Muslim. He has never been a jihadist. He has never debated top Muslim scholars, in Nebraska or anywhere else. It is impossible for any of us to understand why someone would fabricate or embellish his past, but there's a great deal of money to be made selling books and DVDs about Islam in post 9/11 [America]. Who's a better expert on the subject than a radical jihadist who has converted to faith in Jesus Christ, right?

It can't do Liberty University's reputation among the Brethren much good to have a publicly exposed Giant Liar in charge of training its preachers.

Raleigh Tea Party Event Goes Tepid

The most generous estimate we've seen of the crowd at the General Assembly yesterday was 75. (Adam Searing over at The Progressive Pulse has revealing video.)

The government-hating organizers wanted thousands of protesters to link arms and surround the legislative bldg. on the opening day of the short session, demanding that North Carolina pass a law exempting the state's residents from the Obama health insurance reform.

That issue is fading faster than the memory of last winter.

Don't Show Us Yours, and We Won't Show You Ours. Deal?

Oh those jokers at!

I opened my morning e-mail of political headlines and encountered this:
Dicks grabs for Appropriations gavel

Someone was feeling his oats when that got written.

'Course, I had to immediately click through to find that the headline was referencing Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) and not the general collection of swinging masculinity that characterizes much of Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Billy Kennedy Live-Blog at dKos

Happening now. Here's the link.

The Pure Cussedness Wing of the GOP

Public Policy Polling has done some polling on the Gulf oil spill disaster that found that "28% of Republicans said the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico made them more likely to support drilling off the coast to an equal 28% who said it made them less likely to be supportive. 44% said it made no difference to them...."

Before even forming the "O wow" words on our lips, we read the comments attached to that post and found them more enlightening than some comment threads often prove to be. It makes some sense that at least part of that Republican majority (72% who say they are more supportive of off-shore drilling or that the oil spill made no difference to them) gave their opinions purely as a form of protest against...

1. Being asked an unsettling question that made them think for two seconds about a topic they don't want to think about.

2. Being asked a sacrilegious question which implied, by the very act of asking, that the Settled Universe and God's Plan for Man might be a mirage.

3. Being asked any question at all that stepped outside the box in which they have comfortably made their nests.

Or it could be that 72% of Republicans are stock-holders in British Petroleum.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Best Buckle Your Seat Belt, Elena Kagan

Don't know nearly enough about Elena Kagan to form a big ole bloggable opinion about her, but the Republican response was as predictable as prickly heat under an Arizona moon.

Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) was perhaps the first Republican Senator to leap out and say he would oppose Kagan. Inhofe is contemptuous of laws which attempt to extend equal rights to gay Americans. He's also makes no secret of his hooting derision of the science of global climate change and wants a Constitutional amendment to make English the "official" language. So his grip on the Constitution rises to the level of his partisanship.

Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Jon Kyl of Arizona, both of whom voted for Kagan's nomination to be President Obama's Solicitor General, now say they'll not be so hasty again.

And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled that the American public can expect a strong case of myopia setting in among Republican senators any second now.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

GOP Judicial Activists

I'll be voting for Rick Elmore for re-election to the NC Court of Appeals this fall. Elmore is a Republican. But the other guy he's running against, one Steven Walker, also a Republican, is far scarier.

Adam Linker at The Progressive Pulse has made something of a project of following the Walker candidacy.

Republicans express alarm at judicial activists, unless they are their judicial activists. Check.

Republicans: This Is Your Brain on Tea

Utah tea partier Mike Lee came in only second in the balloting in Utah yesterday that threw out incumbent Senator Robert Bennett, but it was the tea partiers who provided the umph to oust Bennett.

Lee is a lawyer who clerked for Justice Samuel Alito. He's a free marketeer who thinks the economic crisis can be fixed by removing regs on banks and other corporations. He wants the tax burden shifted onto the shoulders of the middle and poorer classes of people through the "flat tax," which will teach 'em a goood lesson about the costs of the social safety net, once they start paying more taxes. He's a "drill, baby, drill" sorta politician who thinks government has no right to tell anybody anything, except when it comes to abortion, and then he's all for government's taking charge of women's lives. He was endorsed by Sen. Jim DeMint, patron saint of tea partiers everywhere.

"That the tea party would consider Bob Bennett, one of the most conservative members of the U.S. Senate, too liberal, just goes to show how extreme that tea party is," Democratic National Chair Tim Kaine said. "If there was any question before, there should now be no doubt that the Republican leadership has handed the reins to the tea party."

The man who finished first in the convention balloting, businessman Tim Bridgewater, will be forced into a June 22nd primary against Lee, whom he beat in convention delegates 57-43 percent. Smart money is on Bridgewater. Mad money is on Lee.

Coming in second seems to be the pattern with some tea party candidates elsewhere, though they're sucking a lot more air out of the Republican closet than their numbers would seem to justify. In the NC-11, for example, the tea party candidate, ophthalmologist Dan Eichenbaum lost the Republican primary to Jeff Miller, a Hendersonville dry-cleaner. Eichenbaum got 34 percent of the vote last Tuesday but fell short of forcing a run-off with Miller, who will now be on the ballot facing Heath Shuler in November.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Foxx: There'll Be No Coddling of Murdered Students Here!

Cutting to the chase: Congresswoman Virginia Foxx was one of two lone Republicans (the other one from Texas ... natch!) who refused to support a resolution acknowledging the tragedy at Kent State on May 4, 1970, when four unarmed students were shot dead by National Guardsmen and nine others were wounded in a barrage of gunfire aimed at students protesting the Vietnam War.

Foxx and the Texan voted "present" rather than joining the 413 fellow Congressmen and women who voted "aye." Here's the text of the resolution, in its entirety:
Whereas the year 2010 marks the 40th anniversary of the Kent State University shootings that occurred on May 4, 1970;

Whereas, on such date, Ohio National Guardsmen opened fire on Kent State students who were protesting the United States invasion of Cambodia and the ongoing Vietnam War;

Whereas four unarmed students (Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer, and William Schroeder) were killed and nine others (Alan Canfora, John Cleary, Thomas Grace, Dean Kahler, Joseph Lewis, Donald MacKenzie, James Russell, Robert Stamps, and Douglas Wrentmore) were injured;

Whereas the site of the May 4 shootings was entered in the National Register of Historic Places, the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation, in February 2010;

Whereas, to preserve the memory of the May 4 shootings and encourage inquiry, learning, and reflection, Kent State has established a number of resources, including the May 4 Memorial, individual student memorial markers and scholarships in memory of the four students mentioned above who were killed, an experimental college course entitled "May 4, 1970 and its Aftermath," and an annual commemoration sponsored by the May 4 Task Force; and

Whereas Kent State has engaged the internationally renowned design services firm, Gallagher & Associates, to assist in the development of the May 4 visitors center as a central place where individuals can explore and better understand the May 4 shootings: Now therefore be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives, in commemoration of the 40th year anniversary of the Kent State University shootings that occurred on May 4, 1970--

(1) recognizes the tragedy of the May 4 shootings and the implications that the shootings have had not only on Kent State and the local community, but also on the Nation and the world; and

(2) applauds the development of the May 4 visitors center as an additional primary resource to preserve and communicate the history of the May 4 shootings, its larger ethical and societal context and impact, and its enduring meaning for our democratic Nation.

Hard to know what burr got under Madam Foxx's britches, but maybe it was that wholly gratuitous reference to "our democratic Nation." Hey! That's your opinion, Congress!

Franklin Graham, Chief Pharisee

It's all about Franklin Graham. No closet praying for him. He needs to be noticed. Like the Pharisees of Jesus' day, if you're not standing in the middle of the crowd, making a giant show of your piety, what's the point?

On Tuesday, Graham threw down the gauntlet to President Obama. If the president didn't intercede and get him re-invited by the Pentagon to display his significant holiness on the National Day of Prayer, "it will be a slap in the face of all Christians."

Because, see, Franklin Graham is all Christians. Resistance is futile. He not only speaks for all of us; he is all of us.

In His day, Jesus couldn't stand this kind of self-righteous church jerk.

Matt. 6:5-6
And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Where Elevators Don't Go to the Top Floor

The unfortunate second primary between Elaine Marshall and Cal Cunningham will not be the most entertaining. That dubious honor will go to the second primary run-off between Republicans Machine Gun Tim D'Annunzio and Blown-Dry Harold Johnson down in the NC-8, for the privilege of running against Larry Kissell this fall.

D'Annunzio has put a million dollars of his own money into convincing the Republican base that he's the most extreme candidate that anyone could possibly imagine. He's apocalyptic in his theocracy. The only other Republican who has come close to his toxicity is Vernon Robinson of Winston-Salem.

His run-off opponent is nice-guy Harold Johnson, a former Charlotte sports newsman for WBTV, and the old-guard Republican establishment, terrified of D'Annunzio, is lining up behind Johnson.

In other words, this is a tea-partyer's wet dream, a contest between the establishment devil and the born-again saint of anti-government millenarianism.

May the crazier man prevail!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Now Is the Time for All Good Men To Come to the Aid of Their Party

Cal Cunningham immediately called for a run-off election against Elaine Marshall because she didn't make the 40% threshold, though she beat him yesterday by almost 10 percentage points in the primary.

If Cal Cunningham sees his shadow on May 4th, it means seven more weeks of campaigning?

Wish he hadn't done that. The tide is running against him, and in the estimation of most of the pundits who count beans, he can't win. He can only sap, drain, and delay. And this ain't the season for that.

We saw Cal early last year as a bright and rising star, and we liked him very much. Then he started dating the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) and went from rising star to parser of policy (a.k.a., tool of the establishment).

He should have a bright future in NC Democratic politics, but not if he only saps, drains, and delays and becomes the clod in the churn. His bright young staff people and volunteers could instantly find berths with other campaigns and continue to hone their skills, but not if they're going down with this ship.

A second primary is a waste of money, time, and talent.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

State-Wide Judge Races

Looks like Jane Gray will face off against incumbent Ann Marie Calabria for her seat on the NC Court of Appeals. Calabria was aggressively promoted as the partisan pick for Republicans by the state GOP Chair Tom Fetzer, and it worked.

In the other Appeals Court race, if the numbers hold, incumbent Republican judge Rick Elmore will be going up against right-wing darling (and truly scary dude) Steven Walker. The best candidate in this primary was Leto Copeley, but she appears to be out of the running. Looks like I'll be voting for the lesser of two Republican evils in November.

Elmore Leading Soucek

Blow us down, but Wilkes Countian Jeffrey Elmore appears to be widening his lead in the Dist. 45 Republican Senate primary against Wataugan Dan Soucek.

Don't know if the Watauga County results are reflected yet on the State Bd of Elections site.

Actually, that race just tightened, but Elmore still leads Soucek.

Other Primary Results

Still waiting to see if Elaine Marshall can top 40% state-wide to avoid a run-off.

In Democratic primaries for U.S. House, incumbents Larry Kissell, Heath Shuler, and B.K. Butterfield are easily winning their races.

In Republican primaries for U.S. House, incumbents Walter Jones, V. Foxx, Howard Coble, and Patrick McHenry are all sailing through their contests easily.

In the alternative universe of the NC-8 Republican primary, Machine Gun Tim D'Annunzio is leading Harold Johnson. Yippee!

Other races of some interest: Democratic State Senator Linda Garrou of Winston-Salem is easily beating her primary opponent, as is Beth Jones in the neighboring Dist. 44. We've been pulling for Beth.

Beth Ostgarrd is winning her Dem primary in State House Dist. 85, and Patsy Keever has tounced incumbent Democrat Bruce Goforth in Dist. 115 down in Asheville, the first incumbent to lose his seat tonight.

In Charlotte, the last we looked challenger Rodney Moore was edging out the volatile Nick Mackey in Dist. 99, which could be another incumbent down.

Watauga County 2010 Primary Results

Clerk of Court, Democratic Primary
Trexler 672
Deal 1,345
Combs 200

Clerk of Court, Republican Primary
Howell 1,431
Younce 1,343

So it's gonna be Diane Deal facing off against Wanda Howell this November!

Board of Education
Wallin 972
Walpole 1,563
Warren 2,499
Welch 1,442
Utter 1,320
Smith 825
Hodges 2,661
Cottom 698
Courtney 651

Bottom three -- Smith, Cottom, and Courtney -- are knocked out. The other six face off in November for three seats.

God Hates Off-Shore Drilling?

Gov. Rick Perry (R-Tex.) got testy yesterday with a reporter, and some surprising news about Jehovah leaked out from the man who apparently knows Him best. The event was a "free enterprise" conference hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to push deregulation and anti-tax policies. During a press conference, an uppity reporter raised the BP oil disaster, the Massey coal mine disaster, and the misbehavior of Big Banks as a pattern which suggested that society might be better off with a little more regulation. Gov. Perry got so pissed he mangled his syntax:
We don't know what the event that has allowed [sic] for this massive oil to be released. And until we know that, I hope we don't see a knee-jerk reaction across this country that says we're going to shut down drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, because the cost to this country will be staggering .... From time to time there are going to be things that occur that are acts of God that cannot be prevented.

Gov. Perry didn't attempt to explain why God would act so unilaterally against British Petroleum.

The "God did it" explanation is perhaps slightly less inflammatory than the line Rush Limbaugh and Fox News have been pushing ... deliberate sabotage. Apparently, the foreign-born terrorist Barack Obama donned a wet suit and swam silently up to the Deepwater Horizon, 50 miles out, and ... Well, you know the rest of that sordid story!

Monday, May 03, 2010


What is it about these self-righteous Christian conservatives and their terror of women's breasts?

The hyper-Christian Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has decided that the Virginia state seal, in use since Thomas Jefferson's day, is just too x-rated for his sanctified tastes. The original seal (on the left) depicts "Virtue" with a bared left breast. Attorney General Cuccinelli, who perhaps knows as much about the law as he does about classical art, has issued a new version (on the right), with that offending breast now covered up, in fact, iron-plated.

It took all of a nano-second for a reporter to remember that in 2002 then U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, another notorious saint, spent $8,000 on some blue drapes installed to cover partially nude statues at the Justice Department.

What was it Jesus said one of the times he was cussing out the Pharisees? Try Matthew 23:27: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness."

We know at least some of the nastiness now that was hiding in Ashcroft's "whited sepulchre." His Justice Department was presiding over a virtual criminal conspiracy to enable a "unified executive" to do exactly as he pleased. In Cuccinelli's case, we just have to wait to see what interior rottenness his exterior holiness is screening from view. He's also the guy, please recall, who ordered Virginia's colleges to stop protecting gay employees from discrimination.

Cat Gotcha Tongue?

Just reading in the Wall Street Journal about Hispanic Republicans, some of whom have been voting Republican for decades, who are thinking about leaving the GOP over the Arizona "show us your papers" law. Massey Villarreal, for example, a past national chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly, said, "It's insulting to have Republican leaders across the country applauding this racist law. I'm sure this is going to hurt the Republican Party."

Which reminds us, only naturally, that no one has heard from Virginia Foxx about the Arizona innovation. Where does she stand on the law that "Republican leaders across the country" are applauding? Especially as she has depended on Hispanic labor for decades to build and maintain her landscaping and nursery business?

Hmmm, Madam Foxx?

[the sound of crickets chirping]