Sunday, May 26, 2019

The GOP Wants More Women in Congress? "Bah Humbug," Says Leigh Brown

Leigh Brown, the Republican real estate magnate who got a lot of press (including on this blog) running in the recent NC-9 Republican primary, and ended up finishing a distant fourth to bathroom monitor Dan Bishop, has some stuff to say about how the national GOP sez it wants more women in Congress but how the machinery of the party did not support her -- after encouraging her to run in the first place.

Brown uses the term "ghosted" about the politicos who encouraged her to run and then disappeared when she actually ran. (The Urban Dictionary defines "ghosted" as that moment when someone you love and put your trust in just disappears):
“That's a little frustrating to have initial conversations and then follow up and be ghosted,” Brown said in an interview with POLITICO. “I put my real estate business on hold. I've dinged my own reputation in order to put myself forward as a public servant, and then you find out exactly how lonely it is to run for office.”
'Pears now that those Republicans who want more women in Congress are pinning their hopes on Joan Perry who is facing Greg Murphy in a run-off primary in NC-3 (the Walter Jones seat). Perry is a big anti-abortion pro forced breeding Republican pediatrician who had big-dollar support from the Susan B. Anthony List as well as Winning for Women Action Fund (WFW AF), a Super PAC focused on electing more conservative women to office.

With a woman like Joan Perry, who needs Virginia Foxx?

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

We'll Be Watching the Governor's Race in Kentucky This Fall

Andy Beshear
Kentucky's Attorney General Andy Beshear won the Democratic primary yesterday and will face incumbent Republican Governor Matt Bevin, who also won his primary yesterday but not by much (52% of the vote). Bevin is "deeply unpopular," and Beshear is the son of the governor who immediately preceded Bevin in office, Steve Beshear.

Kentucky is one of just three states that will be choosing governors in 2019 (including Louisiana and Mississippi).

Bevin is unpopular because of his efforts to cripple the Affordable Care Act and for pushing through cuts to public pensions for teachers and other government employees. Beshear ran his campaign as a defender of public pensions, education funding, and health care access -- those "dinner table issues" that helped Democrats take back the House last year.

Beshear had two opponents in the primary. Adam Edelen, a former state auditor who has become a solar-energy entrepreneur, ran to Beshear's left and got about 27% of the vote. Rocky Adkins from the Eastern Kentucky mountains ran as a social conservative, opposed to abortion rights and a protector of the coal industry. Adkins finished second with 33% behind Beshear's 38%.

If I were a Kentucky voter, I would probably have voted for Edelen, but I'm eager to see Beshear beat Bevin this November.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Whaaa! A Republican Who Not Only CAN Read But Who Did Read!

Rep. Justin Amash, a very conservative Republican who represents the 3rd District of Michigan, read the Mueller report -- all of it as redacted by A.G. Barr -- and made this string of comments below on Twitter yesterday. Beginning about 24 hours ago, Amash wrote what amounts to what surely will become an historical document -- a declaration of logic and principle now missing from the makeup of (pretty much) all other Republican members of Congress (Lindsey Graham, we're especially looking at you).

You've probably seen the 1st comment in this string, but have you read the whole? And can you appreciate the fortitude it took to write it?
Here are my principal conclusions: 1. Attorney General Barr has deliberately misrepresented Mueller’s report. 2. President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct. 3. Partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances. 4. Few members of Congress have read the report.

I offer these conclusions only after having read Mueller’s redacted report carefully and completely, having read or watched pertinent statements and testimony, and having discussed this matter with my staff, who thoroughly reviewed materials and provided me with further analysis.

Barr’s misrepresentations are significant but often subtle, frequently taking the form of sleight-of-hand qualifications or logical fallacies, which he hopes people will not notice.

Under our Constitution, the president “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” While “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” is not defined, the context implies conduct that violates the public trust.

Contrary to Barr’s portrayal, Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment.

In fact, Mueller’s report identifies multiple examples of conduct satisfying all the elements of obstruction of justice, and undoubtedly any person who is not the president of the United States would be indicted based on such evidence.

Impeachment, which is a special form of indictment, does not even require probable cause that a crime (e.g., obstruction of justice) has been committed; it simply requires a finding that an official has engaged in careless, abusive, corrupt, or otherwise dishonorable conduct.

While impeachment should be undertaken only in extraordinary circumstances, the risk we face in an environment of extreme partisanship is not that Congress will employ it as a remedy too often but rather that Congress will employ it so rarely that it cannot deter misconduct.
Those who haven't read the Mueller Report have no right to attack Rep. Amash's conclusions, especially the Non-Reader in Chief. (You haven't read it either, have you, Virginia Foxx?)

Twitterman went full schoolyard bully this morning, calling Amash a "loser" and "a total lightweight who opposes me and some of our great Republican ideas and policies just for the sake of getting his name out there through controversy." No attempt in that juvenile rejoinder to dispute Amash's logic and his understanding of the Constitution.

"Amash, who has been described as the 'new Ron Paul' due to his Libertarian beliefs, has broken ranks with the Republican party before — and especially against Mr. Trump, whom he did not endorse in 2016. Earlier this year, he was one of 14 Republican representatives who tried to override Mr. Trump's veto over an emergency declaration for the border wall. In March, Amash did not rule out running for president as a Libertarian in 2020." [Caroline Linton]

Saturday, May 18, 2019

No-Appreciation-for-Irony Department

Republicans are clutching their pearls that Kim Strach, the 2013 Republican appointment as Exec. Director of the SBOE, was replaced by a Democrat.

Yes, it was a partisan move.

But if there's one group that lost its right to complain about partisan appointments, it's North Carolina Republicans, who -- give all of us a break! -- can go sit on tacks.

Preferably out of ear-shot.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Republican Richard Hudson (NC-8) Has a Democratic Opponent

Richard Hudson
Congressman Richard Hudson (R), who has represented the 8th Congressional District of North Carolina since the election of 2012, is pretty much a swamp creature. He's been hanging around Washington, DeeCee, and particularly Capitol Hill as a congressional staffer, for many years. He even did a term in hell as Congresswoman Virginia Foxx's chief of staff before moving on to other congressional offices and holding the bag for other congressmen. He knows how the place works -- or doesn't -- and that you go along to get a leg up.

Hudson worked for the now arrested and disgraced Robin Hayes when Hayes was the congressman from the 8th district. Hudson had moved on to DeeCee when Hayes was defeated by Democrat Larry Kissell in 2008. Hudson returned to North Carolina to oust Kissell in 2012. So the worm turns.

Hudson's association with Robin Hayes glows like a neon of his swampiness. Hudson also took lots of money from billionaire Greg Lindberg, the man behind Hayes's arrest for attempted bribery.
Among those associated with the congressman, the largest recipient of money from Lindberg was a joint fundraising committee affiliated with Hudson — the Hudson Freedom Fund. According to campaign finance reports, that group received donations of $44,300 and $33,900 from Lindberg in December [2018] and January [2019], respectively. [Josh Bergeron, Salisbury Post]
Scott Huffman
Hudson gave $15,000 of that to charities benefitting soldiers at Fort Bragg: "The GOP lawmaker says he didn't do anything wrong, but just wants to avoid the appearance of any impropriety" (Politico). The appearance lingers, as does the aroma of influence peddling.

Hudson already has a Democratic challenger in Scott Huffman, who tried once before in 2018 but lost the Democratic primary to ultimate candidate Frank McNeill, who took almost 45% of the vote against Hudson last year. Huffman is a Navy veteran and owner of a "technology business." His greater community involvement has come from founding and leading Indivisible Charlotte.

He has a website, a very active Twitter feed, and a Facebook group.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Bishop Exploits McCready's Cardboard Persona

That was some killer politics in Charlotte yesterday, with Republican Dan Bishop playing off a cardboard cutout of Dan McCready. Effective politics.

McCready better get himself in the game. He needs to be firing bullets himself, rather than dodging them.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

So It's 'Bathroom' Dan Bishop v. Dan McCready

Dan Bishop
State Senator Dan Bishop, author of the notorious "bathroom bill" that earned North Carolina so much spectacular press, won the Republican primary outright yesterday in the NC-9 special election, avoiding a run-off with Boss Hogg impersonator Stony Rushing and real estate PAC-funded Leigh Brown.

Bishop has a Chapel Hill law degree and a full legal career behind him. He served two terms in the House before opting to run for the Senate seat in 2016 when incumbent Bob Rucho gave it up.

Bishop's known in Raleigh as abrasive (obnoxious?). He's best known for the bathroom bill, as chief sponsor and main author. The passage of HB2 led to a national boycott of North Carolina by major employers, conventions, sporting events, and entertainment figures. According to RealFactsNC, "Bishop has been unrepentant." He even sought to criminalize peaceful protests with a five-year minimum sentence after former Gov. McCrory got chased down the street by LGBT protesters at the Trump inauguration. Bishop had faced protests too, and he was fed up. (Can you spell a-u-t-h-o-r-i-t-a-r-i-a-n?)
Dan McCready

Bishop fingers the usual suspects behind all his troubles: "There is a hostile media and a special interest or two that are interested in creating controversy instead of prosperity for all of North Carolina.” If people would only just shut the hell up about being discriminated against!

In late March of 2017, the General Assembly passed a compromise retreat that repealed most of HB2, and Governor Cooper signed it, but Dan Bishop lashed the compromise on the Senate floor. “This bill is at best a punt. At worst it is a betrayal of principle,” Bishop argued. The Senate passed the compromise anyway, 32-16.

Meanwhile, Democrat Dan McCready has had time to raise money. He had no primary, and he's already well known from his close second-place finish to Rev. Mark Harris last November (before that election was thrown out for fraud). I've had my doubts about McCready, and disappointments with his lack of fortitude (ex-Marine!). With Bishop now the official opponent, they're coming after McCready as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's BFF and a "socialist rubberstamp." McCready should laugh in their face, but he'll probably cringe.

The election vote will be September 10.

So -- yep! -- Dan Bishop comes out swinging at McCready's own campaign office in Charlotte today, accusing him of being a closet socialist, etc. When is McCready gonna show some Marine resolve and clean this clown's clock? He's gotta stop flinching.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Kim Strach Will Be Replaced at State Board of Elections on Monday

Gov. Pat McCrory appointed a new Republican-dominated Board of Elections after his election in 2012, and that Republican board chose Kim Strach as the new SBOE Executive Director, replacing Gary Bartlett who had held the job for many years. Like any Democratic blogger worth his bile, I was suspicious of Kim Strach and paid close attention to her decisions. I have to admit now, with a newly ascendant Democratic Board of Elections moving irrevocably toward replacing her on Monday, that she's been a good executive director.

Oh, I criticized her for her failure to stop the appointment of Matt Snyder as local director of the Watauga BOE, and I was doubtful she could be wholly independent from her aggressively partisan husband, lawyer Phil Strach (the independence of George Conway from his aggressively partisan wife Kellyanne Conway has rewritten that template), but Kim Strach has shown plenty of even-handedness and even political courage in many matters I have followed since 2013 (the following list not in any chronological order):
The detailing of inappropriate behavior by SBOE member Paul Foley, shortly before Mr. Foley got removed from the board. 
The schooling of UNC System General Counsel Thomas Shanahan on what the college "attestation" form required for certifying student IDs for the purposes of voting. 
Her refusal to allow Stacey C. "Four" Eggers, working remotely through his brother Luke Eggers as chair of the Watauga BOE, to combine the Boone 1, Boone 2, and Boone 3 precincts into one mega-precinct with a polling location at the Agricultural Conference Center. 
Her overruling of Watauga BOE Chair Bill Aceto in the November 2017 municipal elections, when Aceto wanted the Boone 2 polling place at the Legends nightclub. Strach said it had to be in the Student Union. 
Her conduct throughout the investigation into balloting fraud in the NC-9 and her examination of witnesses at the February hearing this year.
When Governor Roy Cooper finally regained control of the SBOE, it was an inevitability that Strach would be replaced as executive director, and the news is out this morning that the Democrats on the SBOE will make that move in a teleconference Monday morning.

I'm conflicted about that, given Strach's strong record of performance, and I hope the Democratic majority choose a replacement with professional credentials and no whiff of partisan odor. Nothing less would be acceptable.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

We're Skeptical But Also Prepared to Be Amazed by Sen. Richard Burr

For the first time a subpoena has been issued to a member of the Trump family, to Don Junior, by Senator Richard Burr's Intelligence Committee. Burr's already announced he will not be running for reelection in 2022 when his term ends. He perhaps feels a little freer to exercise those atrophied personal integrity muscles.

Because ... evidently (and according to the Mueller Report) Don Junior lied to Senator Burr's staff when he appeared for an interview last year, lied about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with the Russians. According to the reporting of Ashley Parker et al., "...the Intelligence Committee has been trying to schedule a second interview with Trump Jr. for weeks, according to people familiar with the negotiations .... As negotiations over Trump Jr.’s testimony dragged on, committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) became increasingly frustrated and believed that Trump Jr. was defying the committee’s authority and not honoring his original agreement...."

Increasingly frustrated and pissed enough to issue a subpoena to the Crown Prince. Impressive.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Thom Tillis Draws a Primary Challenger. Oh My!

The Raleigh News and Observer (specifically, Brian Murphy) broke the news yesterday that Raleigh businessman Garland Tucker III, senior fellow at the John Locke Foundation, and author of "Conservative Heroes: Jefferson to Reagan," filed paperwork to run in the March 2020 Republican primary against incumbent Senator Thom Tillis. Of note: Carter Wrenn, conservative strategist who was at Jesse Helms's elbow for decades, has signed on to advise the Tucker campaign.

Here's where it gets immediately intriguing: Tillis instantly attacked Tucker as an "anti-Trump activist." Bold words there, Senator, from the man who opposed Trump for his position on immigration, protecting the special counsel, and Trump’s national emergency declaration. (Murphy does point out that Tillis has voted with Trump 94.7 percent of the time. But still.)

Tucker does look pretty anti-Trump, and the Tillis people are fanning that coal:
Tillis’s team pointed to a 2016 News & Observer column in which Tucker said he was begrudgingly voting for Trump, whose nomination he had “stoutly resisted” during the primary. 
“Trump is a twice-divorced, self-acknowledged adulterer who has, in the course of this campaign, uttered some of the most unkind, disgusting comments ever made by any American politician,” Tucker wrote in the piece. “Sadly, Clinton offers no personal moral superiority.” 
In May 2015, Tucker hosted a 250-person luncheon in his backyard for then-Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign for the Republican presidential nod.
Tucker's hiring of Carter Wrenn is another signal of anti-Trumpism, as Wrenn has made no secret on his blog of his disdain for Twitterman. And Wrenn efficiently drilled his stubby finger into Tillis's weak spot: "...Tillis is a Washington politician, who talks a good game, but when you look at how he votes, it doesn’t match up,” Wrenn told a reporter from The Hill. “He has his finger to the air and he flip flops” on the issues.

At the moment no big name Democrat has announced a campaign for the Tillis seat. We hope that changes. And soon.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Virginia Foxx Does Stand-Up Comedy in Mount Airy

So Virginia Foxx showed up at Riverside Park in Mount Airy on Saturday for Kidsfest, grabbed a microphone, and did a set of pure comedy:

All my life I have been a strong environmentalist, she announced to guffaws.

People will tell you right now, I go out of my way... Yeah, for free food at the buffet, a heckler added.

I recycle. Doesn't that make me an environmentalist?

“The Paris climate accord doesn’t do anything to move us in the right direction globally," Foxx said, having just come from Washington where she voted with the rest of the Republicans to uphold Trump's decision to withdraw from the accord.

Now that's funny.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Even Donny Lambeth Knows When To Take His Hand Off a Hot Stove

Donny Lambeth
NC House Rep. Donny Lambeth (R-Forsyth) has withdrawn his "local bill" that would have remapped Winston-Salem's city council districts ... obviously, to eliminate some undesirables, mainly black women and Dan Besse, the Democrat who ran against Lambeth for the NC House last fall:
The new [city council] wards created in the Lambeth bill would have placed three black council members in one ward. The ward plan would have also placed Council Member Dan Besse, who ran against Lambeth in 2018, into a ward with Robert Clark, the council's only Republican. [Wesley Young]
 Lambeth apparently reached a compromise folded like a cheap suit in negotiations with Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines, agreeing to a "study commission" (to be named by Joines, I kid you not!) to determine if there's any real need to change the mapping of Winston-Salem's city council districts.

That's what I call a giant cave.

And a good thing too (though we would have enjoyed the campaign against Lambeth in 2020, based on his Winston-Salem meddling).

Sen. Deanna Ballard Wants to Unleash Digital Billboards in North Carolina

The billboard industry in North Carolina has tried at least three times in recent years to get massive new power to override local laws and local governments and put their massive signs pretty much anywhere they want to. They're trying again this year with simultaneous bills in NC House (H645) and Senate (S534), "Revisions to Outdoor Advertising."

The industry's revisions (and have no second thoughts about who wrote or dictated the language of this bill) will allow more tree cutting around billboards, force taxpayers to pay billboard companies more to remove existing signs for public works projects, and allow billboards to be relocated from one part of a community to another even if local ordinances prohibit them. Worst of all, the bill will unleash a new scourge, digital billboards, the garish lighted eyesores the industry wants to replace their old billboards with.

Talk about distracted driving.

Sen. Deanna Ballard of Watauga is a secondary sponsor of the Senate bill. You gotta ask yourself, on those occasions when Sen. Ballard is pushing some new law, what's in it for Franklin Graham? Dunno. Why is unleashing the billboard industry -- to override existing municipal laws -- of such burning interest to Deanna Ballard?

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

The Wrong Man Won the Democratic Primary in the NC-3 Special Election, But On the Other Hand, Who Cares?

Allen Thomas
Allen Thomas won the Democratic primary yesterday in the NC-3 special election with slightly over 50% of the vote over his nearest rival, ex-Marine fighter pilot Richard Bew. I was pulling for Bew. Since filing for office, Thomas, who's a strongly pro-business Democrat, has been tarred by a bad audit report on the North Carolina Global TransPark. He was executive director of the TransPark during the period of the audit but stepped down to run for this office.

Oh well. The NC-3 has never been considered anything but "safe Republican."

Naturally, with 17 Republicans running in their primary yesterday, there was bound to be a run-off on July 9th. Two medical doctors finished 1st and 2nd in that primary, with 22.54% and 15.44 percent of the vote respectively -- Dr. Greg Murphy of Greenville, a currently serving member of the NC House, and Dr. Joan Perry of Kinston. They'll face off in a second primary.

Perry is a big anti-abortion pro forced breeding Republican pediatrician who had big-dollar support from the Susan B. Anthony List as well as Winning for Women Action Fund (WFW AF), a Super PAC focused on electing more conservative women to office. She'll probably lose to Murphy in the 2nd primary.

I confess that I have lost all interest in this particular special election.