Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Republican Co. Commissioners Want to Violate the Constitution

Republican county commissioners in Craven, Davidson, Gaston, Rowan, and now Lincoln counties are begging the new Republican majority in the NC General Assembly to give their counties -- and just their counties alone -- an extra hurdle to voting in the form of the photo ID vetoed for the whole state by Gov. Perdue, but as most readers of both the state and the federal constitutions already realized, and as the NC Attorney General's office has now officially opined, extra hurdles in individual counties would raise serious equal protection concerns.

NC Policy Watch has the full account of the AG's written opinion.


According to Chris Petrella, one of the eight declared Republican candidates in the primary next May for the NC-11 Congressional seat currently held by Heath Shuler, “Any idiot who wants to have Congressman on their resume has decided to throw their hat in the ring.”


That's possibly going to cut down on his holiday party invitations.

The seven idiots, who, along with non-idiot Petrella, have declared their candidacies in the NC-11:

1. Dan 
ophthalmologist (who also ran in the same primary in 2010 -- came in 2nd with 34.21% of the primary vote ... Jeff Miller was the winner)

2. Spence 
colonel (ditto, in 2008 -- came in 2nd to Carl Mumpower with 42.26 % of the primary vote)

3. Jeff

4. Chris 

5. Ed 
 member (ran in the 2010 primary -- came in 5th with 3.59% of the vote)

6. Vance 
Patterson (ran in the 2010 primary against Patrick McHenry in the NC-10 -- came in 2nd to McHenry with 25.99% of the primary vote)

7. Mark 

8. Kenny 
Chair (ran in the 2010 primary in the NC-11 -- came in 4th with 7.95% of the vote)

Hattip for the list: Election Tracker, NCFEF

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Hard to figger Rep. Bill Faison's interview with WRAL's Laura Leslie as anything less than an admission that he's dying to take on Gov. Bev Perdue in a primary next year.

"...I think ultimately Governor Perdue will do the right thing and decide not to run. I don’t believe you’ll ever see her file [to run for reelection],” Faison said.

Faison had already caused a bit of a ruckus about the failings of the Guv but then surprised many by announcing that he would not run against her.

He seems to be backsliding rapidly. When Leslie asked if he's still interested in running against Perdue, he replied, "Well, I certainly think we need strong leadership at the top of the ticket, and I’m certainly giving consideration to it. That’s a decision for some time in the future."

The future is pretty much standing on the door-stoop, with filing for office scheduled by the state Board of Elections for the first week of February.

A warning shot by Faison or just an unwise flapping of the lip to the best political reporter in the state? Hard to figger. It's clear enough that the indictment yesterday of two Perdue aides and a close friend for campaign violations in 2008 -- even though the prosecutor took pains to say that Perdue was not a target -- is the proximate cause for Faison's fantasy-talk. Faison has been public and loud in challenging the Republican leadership over jobs, and doing it all over the place, which is welcome, especially at a time when state Democratic leaders seem tongue-tied too often (including the governor -- recall her hemming and hawing over the anti-gay equality amendment).

Faison might have some trouble drawing disaffected Dem progressives to his insurgency, should one develop. Just yesterday, the Art Pope org Civitas Action rated Faison as one of the more conservative Dems in the NC House.

McHenry Squeaks, But Where Is Foxx?

Barely a month after endorsing the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney, Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-Minionville) felt compelled to defend his choice for president, declaring forcefully that Mittens is not "two men trapped in one body, as President Obama has hinted. There may, in fact, be three men in there ... and one social secretary, I don't know, or maybe a whole legion. But never mind!"

Meanwhile, Madam Virginia Foxx, who sang in that same Romney choir with McHenry, has been strangely silent in defense of her best hope for a Republican president to follow that Kenyan Muslim.

Buyer's remorse?

Monday, November 28, 2011

BREAKING: Injunction Issued Against 'Choose Life' License Plates

From NC ACLU, via Policy Watch:
"During this year’s legislative session, the North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 289, which authorized the issuance of a 'Choose Life' license plate. However, the legislature repeatedly refused to authorize a plate that supported the countervailing position in favor of reproductive freedom. Six amendments were proposed in the legislature to authorize an additional new plate that stated either, 'Trust Women. Respect Choice,' or simply 'Respect Choice.' The legislature rejected all six amendments. As such, the lawsuit alleges that the State is engaging in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment."
U.S. District Judge James C. Fox granted a preliminary against the anti-abortion license plates this morning.

Keeping count on how many new laws passed by the Republican majority in the NC General Assembly have now drawn the negative attention of various judges? We're up to at least three.

And the Young Shall Lead Them

Meet Emma Sullivan, student at Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie View, Kansas, who attended a speech given by Sam Brownback, former Church Lady of the U.S. Senate and currently governor of Kansas.

During the Guv's speech, Emma
tweeted, “Just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot.”

Proving the hashtag #heblowsalot wholly accurate, the Guv's staff of puritanical lip-pursers somehow spotted Emma's tweet (#nothingelsetodo), and just like the tattletales you hated in the fifth grade, they ratted out Emma to her high school principal, Dr. Karl Krawitz, a notorious pissant who promptly demanded that Emma apologize to the Guv, in writing, thus violating Emma's Constitutional right to free speech and exhibiting the worst instincts common among warehousemen to the young, all at once.

The story went viral almost immediately.

Now Emma Sullivan, who had but a handful of Twitter followers when she tweeted about the Guv blowing a lot, now has over twice as many Twitter followers as Governor Brownback.


Plus last night Emma tweeted this:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Clown College Reconvening in Raleigh Tonight

Good deal of breath-holding going on around the state, what with the new Republican majority in the NC General Assembly coming together this evening to continue their roll-back of the state's progressive advancements since, oh, 1895.

They seem to be drawing a particular bead on the Racial Justice Act, since they obviously don't like racial justice or even just fairness in the judicial system.

Pressure has been on Democratic members of the General Assembly to drop those turkey legs, or the concomitant Tums, and get themselves to Raleigh, because the fear is that the Republican leadership will use any Democratic absences to suddenly call up a veto override of the voter photo ID bill, but ace reporter (for the Greensboro News&Record) Mark Binker posted on Facebook that it's highly unlikely.

Why the Republicans couldn't get their shit together in the long session and now insist on recalling everyone repeatedly to Raleigh when the moon is full (and on Sunday night, fer crissakes! Is nothing sacred?) for these micro-sessions of social engineering and right-wing flapping, well, chalk that up to their regular and well documented incompetence at governing!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Of the Banks, By the Banks, For the Banks

Portland, Oregon.

An Obvious Political Stunt

The signature legislative ambition for the new Republican majority in the NC General Assembly? Limiting ballot access for the state's black citizens and for the young, two demographic groups that voted heavily for Barack Obama in 2008 and are likely to do so again in 2012.

The Republicans' wet dream for a voter photo ID bill would hamper the voting rights of several thousand of those two groups.

Gov. Perdue vetoed that bill. When the Republicans attempted to override it in the General Assembly, the Democrats in the NC Senate held firm, and the override failed.

Now, in a transparent attempt to build public pressure on Democrats in the state Senate and on the governor, the Republican-dominated county commissions in four NC counties have passed resolutions requesting that the General Assembly pass "local bills" to require photo IDs of voters in just those counties.

That would be patently unconstitutional, but never mind that. One of those four counties, Craven, is considered Gov. Perdue's home county, so the opportunity for public embarrassment of the governor was just too delicious to pass up. Five Republican commissioners in Craven trumped the two Democratic commissioners.

And by the way, in those four counties pushing for local photo ID laws -- Craven, Gaston, Davidson, and Rowan -- there are 22 total Republican commissioners, to 3 total Democratic commissioners. Yeah, they need a photo ID law because, obviously, those 3 Democrats could not have won office without fraud, right?

This is all a put-up job, a clumsy (not to say ridiculous) attempt to steam-roll the public and cower the Senate Democrats.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Simple Truth

"Here’s why the supercommittee [failed], in one sentence: Democrats wanted the rich to pay more in taxes towards deficit reduction, and Republicans wanted the rich to pay less in taxes towards deficit reduction."

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Local Hero

Curtis Smalling--

"Since joining Audubon North Carolina a decade ago, Smalling has helped North Carolina add three new chapters, unheard of growth at the time. He also serves and advises on several working groups as well as regional and state partnerships, including the North Carolina State Scientific Counsel for Birds and the Atlantic Flyway Initiative. He is a key player in incorporating IBA [Important Bird Area] data into North Carolina’s Statewide Comprehensive Conservation Planning Process, a major tool in citing issues and threats to natural resources across the state, as well as engaging local partners for conservation."

Curtis gets recognized for his dedication and his work with a nationally competitive fellowship.

Couldn't have happened to a more deserving individual!

Looks Like a Dem Primary in the NC-10

Patsy Keever says she's also running for Congress in the newly drawn NC-10, joining Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy, who announced a few days ago.

Keever has extensive political experience. Most recently, she defeated incumbent blue dog Bruce Goforth in the NC House Dist. 115, but Republicans in the General Assembly rewarded that bold move by "double-bunking" Keever and Democratic House member Susan Fisher. (Meanwhile, Bruce Goforth switched parties and went to work for Republican Speaker Thom Tillis ... just to prove that his primary challenge from Keever was prescient and probably divinely inspired.)

Keever also previously ran for Congress in 2004 against long-time Republican incumbent Charles Taylor in the NC-11. Heath Shuler eventually retired Taylor.

Anyhoo, looks like a pretty substantive primary is shaping up, with either candidate presenting Patrick McHenry with a credible challenger. Plus, O my brethren, it can't be a bad thing to bring the Dems out for the primary in order to vote against Dan Soucek's hateful anti-gay amendment. Probably, the more hot Dem primaries we have in May, the more the anti-gay amendment suffers.

Bring 'em on!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Republican Budget Hits ASU

Most complete accounting we've seen for how the new Republican budget is touching -- "slamming" would be more like it -- Appalachian State University:

1. 18 -- "at least" -- employees are losing their jobs.

2. 53 vacant faculty positions ... eliminated.

3. 18 graduate and undergraduate programs ... eliminated.

4. 74 tenure-track faculty lost reassigned time, and 30 faculty off-campus scholarly assignments ... stopped.

5. Operating budgets for colleges and departments ... reduced by 30 to 40 percent.

6. Belk Library operating budget ... slashed by 35 percent, with library hours reduced by 25 percent—meaning the facility is no longer open 24 hours any days of the week.

7. Et freakin' cetera.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Patty McHenry Draws a Credible Challenger

Terry Bellamy, the popular mayor of Asheville since 2005, has announced that she will run against Congressman Patrick McHenry in the redrawn 10th Congressional District. Most of the city of Asheville was gerrymandered into McHenry's otherwise safe Republican district ... apparently, just to make things interesting.

The upside for McHenry? He gets to campaign now in gay-friendly Asheville.

The downside for McHenry? He has to campaign now in Asheville.

There will apparently be a Democratic primary in this race, since there's another announced Democrat already running. And, of course, McHenry will have his own primary, as he always does, against one or more Republicans who don't cotton to Little Patty for one reason or another.

Thom Tillis Is Full of Pain That He Has To Be So Anti-Gay

The Speaker of the NC House’s townhall meeting in Boone last night generated news from Thom Tillis: “Marriage is not a constitutional right.”

Repeatedly hit for his anti-gay constitutional amendment, Tillis essentially apologized for it. “I have a personal difficulty with [that] constitutional amendment because I don’t believe government should be telling us what to do, but” ... yadda yadda yadda ... “marriage is not a constitutional right.”

In other words, “they made me do it.” He kept repeating that 60 to 70 members of the General Assembly pressured him into letting the anti-gay amendment go forward, and he really really regretted it, being such a small-government conservative like he is. But whatta ya gonna do when 70 people pressure you? Stand up to them like a man with convictions? Why, no.

Speaker Tillis was hit almost immediately after the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag at the beginning of the festivities. Someone stood up and pointed out that we all just publicly honored “liberty and justice for all.” So how is the anti-gay amendment an example of that?

Another woman delivered one of the most articulate denunciations of anti-gay legislation that we’ve heard. The action in the General Assembly (led by Dan Soucek, incidentally, who was sitting on the front row grinning like Alfred E. Neuman), was simply “shameful,” the woman said. “Loving people should have the same rights as I do, a heterosexual person and an ordained minister.” That seemed to stun Tillis for just a microsecond, but Mr. Speaker is nothing if he’s not slick and practiced in this kind of setting. He struggled nevertheless for coherence in responding to the female minister: “This is not an issue that I completely disregard some of the arguments you make,” he said, twisting his syntax until it squealed.

In other questions/comments, it was pointed out that education in the state was “cut hard.” “What else was cut as hard?” the young man asked. The answer – Health & Human Services and the Department of Environment & Natural Resources – landed with a thud. An elderly woman followed up, pointing out that national studies showed that North Carolina was the 10th most toxically polluted state in the Union. Speaker Tillis launched into some boilerplate “cost-benefit” analysis blah blah blah “pendulum swings” blah blah blah, completely ignoring the woman’s concern about toxic pollution. Impatient with his answer, the woman interjected, “Either you’re killing people with toxic pollution or you’re not.”

Too much money in politics – and specifically too much Art Pope money – came up, and out of the Speaker’s mouth fell this stunning piece of political philosophy: “The democratic process suffers without the expenditure of money.” Well, all-righty then!

The Speaker has spoken publicly about the possibility of reinstating funding for the popular Teaching Fellows program for college students who want to become public school teachers. This valuable program was zeroed out in the Republican budget. But when two full rows of ASU Teaching Fellows stood and applauded Tillis for expressing this viewpoint, he began backpedaling: “I’ve only recommended that it be reinstated,” he warned, and then told the college students that the onus was on them: “You’ve got to build the business argument for its value.”

Ah! There’s no argument like the “business argument” to this Speaker, and one person in the audience called him out on that: “Why are you so focused on pleasing business? You’re too tilted toward big corporations.” At which Tillis invoked the Holy Godhead of Republican Politics, the “job creators,” before which he genuflects, and the old discredited meme that North Carolina has the worst business environment in the known universe (“the tax and regulatory burden”). Not true, but never mind when you’re worshipping at the corporate altar (whose money, as we had already learned, equals democracy!).

The question that went unasked and therefore unanswered, the question that is now hanging in the air and demands an answer: “Since you’re so personally opposed to government that intrudes into our personal lives, Mr. Speaker, are you going to vote against Amendment One next May 8th?”

Monday, November 14, 2011

They'll Never Have Enough Money

Reported in the NYTimes yesterday ...
While major banks have backed away from charging customers to use their debit cards, many of them have been imposing fees elsewhere, such as raising the cost of a basic checking account. Commenting on the new fees, Richard Davis, U.S. Bancorp’s chief executive, said “we’ll see if our customers complain and move, or just complain.”
Is that a "dare ya" or not? Believe we'll accept that dare.

Meanwhile, those swell guys on Fox News labeled Occupy Wall Street as "toxic," "Marxist," "anti-democratic," and "un-American." Apparently, it's the height of patriotic godliness to just bend over and facilitate the screwing we've been getting.

Oh, Fox News, you're so cute and so bought off.

"The Only Marriage We Should Be Concerned About"

Though the Republican leadership in the NC General Assembly trotted out some black ministers months ago to preach against committed relationships having the right to marriage, the North Carolina NAACP has stood steadfast for marriage equality and against Amendment One. NAACP President Rev. William Barber reiterated that position this past weekend at the EqualityNC "Foundation Conference" in Greensboro. We like this excerpt (full video below, courtesy of Pam Spaulding):
…The marriage we should be concerned about is the marriage of corporate money and politics. Ultra-conservative corporations have tied the knot with an ugly set of anti-public policies that undermine public education, voter protection, workers rights, protection from payday lenders, health care reform and other programs established for the public good....

Friday, November 11, 2011

Dear UNC: Don't Raise Tuition

Under the Dome is reporting that a split has developed on the UNC Board of Governors over whether to raise tuition next year to deal with the budget losses imposed by the new Republican regime in Raleigh. Some on the BOG are against raising tuition and telling the NC General Assembly, "Now you deal with it."

We applaud that stand.

What's somewhat eyebrow-raising is the prime mover, according to Dome, of that viewpoint ... Fred Eshelman, a Big Pharma executive, nationally recognized hater of Obama, and one of the chief funders who put the Republican regime in place in Raleigh last year. The 527 group Right Change is largely his creature.

Eshelman wanted the Tea Party in charge in Raleigh to cut the budget, thoroughly and ruthlessly. Wouldn't that be a safe assumption? Now, having been appointed to the Board of Governors as a reward for funding the Republican revolution, he's prepared to tell the budget-whackers to stuff it, as far as the University of North Carolina is concerned (and it IS concerned).

Ain't human nature wonderful?

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Personhood of the Fetus Crew Wants to Butt into NC

Fresh off getting the stuffing kicked out of them in one of the most religiously conservative states in the union yesterday, the "fetus is a person" bunch is attempting to intervene in the American Civil Liberties Union/Planned Parenthood/Center for Reproductive Rights lawsuit against North Carolina's highly restrictive new abortion law.

"Intervention" as a legal term refers to a procedure by which a court can allow a non-party to join on-going litigation over the objections of, or without the permission of, the original litigants. The basic logic of "intervention" is that a judgment in the matter at hand would affect the rights of third parties, i.e., people who in this particular instance will not stop until American women are turned into involuntary breeders.

Not a Good Night for Republicans

With Kevin Hill's run-off win for the Wake County School Board last night, the brief but highly inflammatory regime of the Republican re-segregationists is over.

Voters in Ohio slammed shut the door on Republican anti-unionism. Republican Governor John Kasich's butt happened to be in the door at the time. Haven't checked elsewhere in the Buckeye State, but in Cincinnatti voters ousted four incumbent Republicans from Cincinnati City Council, choosing instead seven Democrats, a majority of African-Americans, and the first openly gay candidate.

Defying all expectations, Mississippi turned out last night to be resoundingly godless on the issue of abortion, rejecting the notorious "personhood" amendment to the state's constitution. (A pro-amendment preacher was heard to say, "Satan wins!") The anti-abortion crowd is undeterred, however, vowing that they will introduce new legislation that will establish that an egg is a chicken, an acorn is an oak, and a silk worm is a komono. (And incidentally, Mississippi, I apologize for all the assumptions I was making about you yesterday. A woman at last night's celebration for victorious Boone Town Council candidates Andy Ball, Lynne Mason, and Allen Scherlen, said to me -- long before Mississippi's results were known -- that the women in Mississippi weren't as stupid as their husbands thought they were.)

Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx whomped his Republican opponent badly, and Democrats swept the four city council at-large seats. Just saw a tweet from Marcus Brandon that Democrats "cleaned house" in Greensboro, though Ed Cone takes a decidedly more measured tone about the outcome.

Over in Kentucky, where we have a lot of friends, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear handily defeated his Republican opponent, while Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway cruised to re-election over an anti-health reform opponent. Democrats also won state-wide races for treasurer, secretary of state, and state auditor.

Attempted voter suppression in Maine didn't fare well. Maine Republicans had eliminated the state’s longstanding practice of same-day voter registration on election day, but the voters said "whoa!" and defeated the law at the polls.

Just a sampling of yesterday's action, grabbed on the fly. Haven't yet found a sour apple in this particular barrel.

Icing on the cake: We have another Republican presidential bitch-slapping in store for tonight!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Deeper Into the Weeds With the Raleigh GOP

Laura Leslie's account of the action in the NC General Assembly yesterday is un-summarizable and should be read -- twice, if possible -- to begin to understand the constitutional bog that Republican redistricting has become in our fair state.

Some bare facts: over 400,000 voters were left out of the new NC House, Senate, and the US Congressional maps, mainly because of the splitting of precincts between two and sometimes three different voting districts.

Leslie: "Legislative staff and lawmakers were in agreement that the mistakes in the current bill make it unconstitutional. Some districts aren’t contiguous, while others have too many or too few voters."

The "fix" that the Republicans performed yesterday is also unconstitutional, according to Rep. Rick Glazier, absent the judicial system's involvement, so it seems fairly certain that some judge is eventually going to be sorting out this mess for months to come.

Leslie wrote more on the "unconstitutional" issue here.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

The Laws They Pass Depend on Who Does NOT Show Up

Because Thom Tillis and That Other Guy in the NC Senate have laid a veil of secrecy over what the special session of the NC General Assembly tomorrow is supposed to accomplish, the rumor mill is speculating on all cylinders.

House Speaker Tillis said back in June that he'll take any opportunity -- that is, the absence of any Democratic members -- to try to pass again, over the Governor's veto, The Photo Voter Disenfranchisement Act of 2011: "If seven Democrats don't show up for a publicly announced session, that would be the easy way to override it," Tillis said.

Mr. Tillis will be holding one of his notorious "open" town hall meetings in Boone a week from Monday, on Nov. 14 at 5 p.m., in the Broyhill Room at the Broyhill Inn on the ASU Campus. His office is insisting that attendees pre-register, which is a fairly straightforward way to control the attendance and to make sure the wrong people don't get called on to ask a question (here's the address for letting the gate-keepers know you're planning to attend:

We're somewhat familiar with the way these "open" meetings go, where ostensibly Tillis wants to hear what citizens think but really wants to mount a platform for unrestricted crowing. Katy Munger attended one of his town halls in Forsyth County recently and wrote about the experience. She's informative.

Friday, November 04, 2011

The Lawsuit Against Redistricting

The lawsuit filed yesterday in Superior Court of Wake County against the Republican redistricting of North Carolina ... was filed in the state court system, rather than the federal, because the suit alleges that the redistricting maps violate state law in these three particulars:
1. Divided Counties: These maps violate North Carolina’s whole county provision by dividing more counties than necessary.

2. Divided Precincts: These maps unnecessarily split precincts to create districts. More than 2,000,000 citizens live in precincts that have been split between two and sometimes three different districts.

3. Packing: These maps segregate black voters into a small number of districts. Approximately half North Carolina’s black citizens have been packed into three congressional districts, 10 Senate districts and 25 House districts. This is not only illegal, it also turns back the clock on decades of progress that North Carolina has made in race relations.
As to the "preclearance" granted by the U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday, it's irrelevant as far as this lawsuit goes. Sen. Josh Stein, Democratic Whip in the NC Senate who represents Wake County, issued this statement:
“Make no mistake: Nothing that happened in Washington, DC [on Nov. 1] changes the unlawful and racially divisive maps that the Republicans passed in the North Carolina legislature. The Department of Justice examined a very narrow federal issue that concerns only 40 of our 100 counties. The Republican maps still violate the state constitution’s whole county provision and they illegally segregate voters according to race without cause. The Department of Justice did not consider either violation during its preclearance review because it was not authorized to. These and other violations will be fully considered by the courts, and we are quite confident that once the facts are in full view, the courts will guarantee the people of North Carolina fair and legal maps at the end of this process.”
The lawsuit linked in the 1st paragraph above is actually a second suit filed by different plantiffs. The text of the lawsuit discussed in this post in here.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

There But For Fortune

I knew next-to-nothing about Phil Ochs, a big name in the American Folk Song Scare of the 1960s, which made the new documentary, There But For Fortune, a major revelation. This is a short clip from the film, which is (ultimately) a very sad chronicle of a great heart.

The Protective Coloring of Madam Foxx

We had been wondering why Madam Virginia Foxx had toned down her off-year rhetoric. In the past, during odd-numbered years when she was not actively running for reelection, she dropped such bombs as these:

"Governmental attempts to regulate and tax tobacco are no different than if the government were to regulate and tax Mountain Dew." April 8, 2009, to teenagers at North Surry High School

"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

“I believe we have more to fear from the potential of that [health reform] bill passing than we do from any terrorist right now in any country.” November 2, 2009, on the floor of the U.S. House

Yadda, yadda, yadda.

In 2011, she's mainly confined herself to personal braggadocio (recently claiming that she's one of the most accomplished defenders of women's rights in the history of the universe and that she's a "right-wing radical" just like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were). Oh, she did say that it was "unconscionable that we have 45 million people in this country getting food stamps," not because we have that many hungry citizens but because 45 million people were getting something for free.

But we digress. Comes this a.m. in the NYTimes a possible explanation for why she's keeping a lower rhetorical profile these days ... the verifiable statistic that most Americans now despise their own member of Congress. Used to be that voters despised everybody else's member of Congress. But now, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll in September, only 33 percent of registered voters believe their own member deserves to be re-elected.

Possible challengers to Madam Foxx are beginning to line up. Might make Foxx want to appear slightly less inflammatory (and, naturally, more Baptist).

When Gerrymandering Broke the Computer

NC's new Republican-gerrymandered voting districts received Department of Justice "pre-clearance" yesterday, meaning they meet the requirements of the Voting Rights Act and don't dilute minority representation. The pre-clearance also means that the new maps can be used in the 2012 elections "absent a legal challenge." There will be a legal challenge, so this is far from settled.

One significant basis for a legal challenge will focus on the Republican hyper-gerrymandering that split many precincts, sometimes between more than two voting districts.

The splitting of precincts apparently led to a computer glitch in the Republican redistricting maps that came to light only hours before the DOJ pre-clearance was announced. In their zeal to insure their dominance of the state's General Assembly (which involved, among other maneuvers, a direct attack on several strong Democratic women incumbents), they drew new maps which flummoxed their computer software. Omitted from the maps were some 200 sections of the state involving thousands of voters who were simply left out.

The computer error affected 52 of the 170 NC House districts, 22 of the 50 NC Senate districts and two of the 13 US congressional districts. The error also created, according to Gary D. Robertson, 20 legislative districts "in which each district isn't entirely physically connected, which would run counter to the state constitution's requirement that they 'at all times consist of contiguous territory.' "


Naturally, the Republican leaders in the Clown College are passing all of this off as something akin to showing up at work with mismatched socks, easily fixed. In fact, they now have something to work on when they reconvene next week (the press had been wondering why they scheduled a day of work at the Capitol for early November).

We predict drama on Jones Street.