Saturday, May 15, 2021

Judge John Tyson Accused of Trying to Mow Down BLM Protestor in Fayetteville


Since the murder of George Floyd a year ago in Minneapolis, activists in Fayetteville, NC, have staged Black Lives Matter protests around the Market House in downtown Fayetteville. On May 7th, North Carolina Appeals Court Judge John Tyson is alleged to have circled protestors and then on the second pass attempted to hit one of them. The vehicle ended up on the sidewalk. The woman who appeared to be targeted has filed charges against Tyson with the Fayetteville police, and a detective has been assigned to investigate. Allegedly, the whole incident was captured on city videotape.

The SUV allegedly driven by Judge John Tyson, sitting on the sidewalk
soon after the incident. The license plate identifies the vehicle
as belonging to an Appeals Court judge. 

The Facebook page for FAM: Fayetteville Activist Movement also alleges that Judge Tyson has a pattern and practice of attempted intimidation of Black activists:

Judge John Tyson 
NC Appeals Court Judge Tyson has a history of attempts to intimidate activists in Fayetteville. Last year, he hired gunmen to act as his personal goon squad and point weapons at people from windows of his buildings downtown. 

A year later, and he's taken it upon himself to try and intimidate free citizens from exercising their First Amendment rights. 

He is now under investigation for "Aggravated Assault" since veering into activists, all caught on city cameras that we need everyone to put pressure on City of Fayetteville, NC Government to release.


Thursday, May 13, 2021

Republican Cancel Culture Targets a New Journalism Prof at UNC-CH


Reporter Joe Killian has the scoop at NC Policy Watch:

When UNC-Chapel Hill announced the hiring of Nikole Hannah-Jones last month, it was cause for celebration among students, faculty and administration at the school....

According to UNC-Chapel Hill, Hannah-Jones is, in many ways, a perfect fit for the school’s Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism.

She is herself a Tar Heel, having obtained her master’s degree at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media in 2003. In a distinguished career as an investigative reporter she’s worked for Raleigh’s News & Observer, The Oregonian in Portland and Pro Publica in New York before winning acclaim for her coverage of civil rights and racial injustice for the New York Times Magazine. She has won both the Pulitzer Prize and a MacArthur Fellowship “Genius Grant.”

But Hannah-Jones is being attacked by conservative groups, two of which have connections to members of the UNC Board of Governors (including Art Pope, ahem):

Killian, again:

Pulitzer Prize? MacArthur Fellowship? “Questionable credentials,” said the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal (formerly known as the Pope Center for Higher Education).

One of America’s most respected investigative journalists? The same group termed that a “charade” concocted by “a powerful coalition with Democratic socialists, the media, and ‘woke’ crony capitalists.”

“This lady is an activist reporter — not a teacher,” said an unsigned editorial from the Carolina Partnership for Reform.

The Carolina Partnership for Reform is "a group that’s long been linked to Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger" and it "published an unsigned broadside in which it said Hannah-Jones would force students to conform to her political ideology if they expect to pass her classes" -- an allegation that comes directly out of right-wing victimization fantasies, not out of any actual classroom evidence.

The Carolina Partnership for Reform makes little to no information about itself, its composition, leaders or funders available on its website. But 2018 IRS documents listed then-UNC Board of Governors chairman Harry Smith and current board chair Randy Ramsey as directors of the organization. Asked about the connection this week, the UNC System said Ramsey, who helped found the organization in 2013, resigned from his position there last year. Ramsey’s official 2021 Statement of Economic Interest, however, lists him as the group’s treasurer.

There's much more in Killian's report. Bottomline on what's going down in Chapel Hill: This is all bullying Trumpism let loose on the UNC's flagship institution.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Virginia Foxx Purges Liz Cheney


Bless Virginia Foxx's capacious heart! She's shared her remarks from this morning when she was sliding a 10-inch stiletto into Liz Cheney's heart in the Republican caucus.

What She Said:

"We have always had space for diverse views in this conference and many here can testify to that, but for us to be a majority we must come together and agree on a course of action."

What She Meant:

I mean, you can have roast chicken or fried chicken or chicken and dumplings, or lemon chicken is not out of the question, and I know that some even tolerate kung pao chicken, though I think -- and I've actually prayed about it -- that Mexican chili chicken pizza is going too far.


What She Said:

"Our conference’s main goal now is fighting for sound, conservative policies that will resonate and regain the majority in 2022."

What She Meant:

Did you know that if you stretch a drumhead tight enough you can vibrate down a mountain to an ant hill, if not a large building?


What She Said:

"...our vision for this country is fundamentally and undeniably better than what Speaker Pelosi is offering our country."

What She Meant:

Betelguese! Betelguese! Betelguese!


What She Said:

"Unfortunately, we have been distracted from that goal by your continued statements sowing confusion with the public on our message and agenda."

What She Meant:

MAGA to you, and covfefe forever to unite a bewildered nation in his blessed vision!

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Virginia Republicans Pick a Trumpist to Run for Governor, Though Not the Trumpiest


Glenn Youngkin.
Photo by Bill O'Leary, WashPost

Last Saturday, at their disassembled state convention, Virginia Republicans nominated Glenn Youngkin as their candidate for governor in this year's state elections. Youngkin is the former co-chief executive of the Carlyle Group, a global private equity giant, and he had emphatically embraced the politics of Donald Trump. Worth an estimated $254  million, the political newcomer highlights his up-by-the-bootstraps biography, including a stint in his teens washing dishes at a Virginia Beach diner to help support his family. Youngkin claimed that he had raised $1 million from supporters in the first 10 days of his campaign.

Youngkin is a Trumpist running in a state that has turned decidedly bluer during the last several elections, but he wasn't the most dangerously Trumpist of the candidates running last Saturday. That would be Amanda Chase, currently the pistol-packing "Trump in high heels" who occupies a seat in the state senate (a seat recently encased in a plastic shield -- no, really -- because Chase refuses to wear a mask) who earned herself a bipartisan censure from her fellow senators for praising the Capitol insurrectionists as "patriots." She's the principal reason Republican Party leaders were desperate to keep this race out of a primary. They were terrified she could win a primary and go on to crash the whole party in November. 

Now that'll be Glenn Youngkin's job.

Footnote: The most qualified Republican candidate for the job, Kirk Cox, was eliminated from contention in an early round of ranked-choice voting. He's been in the Virginia House of Delegates for three decades, and in his party's salad days, he served as majority leader and then as Speaker of the House. His voting record is not that different from Amanda Chase's, but Cox tries to project a non-Trumpist and "sane conservative" image. His one striking departure from Republican orthodoxy: He swerved on the issue of expanding Medicaid in the state under the Affordable Care Act, so to the Trumpists he's a traitor.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Bo Hines and the Wheel of Fortune


Bo Hines, the Madison Cawthorn wannabe who had announced a Republican primary campaign in 2022 to take out Virginia Foxx, has reassessed his chances of taking out Virginia Foxx and his options for a different district to run in, perhaps one without a fellow Republican as incumbent, and he's decided that the 13th CD, where Ted Budd is stepping down to run for US Senate, looks mighty promising.

The map below was in effect last fall. It won't be in effect in 2022, as the Republican majority in the NC General Assembly will be redistricting to squeeze in a 14th CD, the result of population growth. Bo Hines currently doesn't live in the 13th; he doesn't currently live in the 5th either, as he's a student at Wake Forest in Forsyth. It's not illegal to run to represent a US House district where you don't live, but it's rarely a successful stretch.

We regret that Virginia Foxx won't have the most interesting primary of her nine terms in the US House. Bo Hines might have been stronger than most of the leftovers that Foxx faced in her past primaries.

Sunday, May 09, 2021

Beware of Those Wishing To Rewrite the US Constitution


Rep. Louie Gohmert of Tex.,
one of the visionaries who's
totally in favor of a "Convention
of States" to rewrite the
US Constitution

Bear with me here, as this is complicated: The movement among conservatives to demand a new "Article V Constitutional Convention" to rewrite portions of the US Constitution unpleasing to conservatives has several moving parts. The NC House, just on March 17th, voted 61-52 to join a bunch of other states (largely controlled by Republicans) to call for a new convention of states to amend the US Constitution in three broad areas: limiting the federal government’s powers, restraining fiscal spending, and establishing term limits for members of Congress and other federal elected officials. (The same resolution is now pending in the NC Senate.)

Those three action areas may sound benign to you, but they aren't and the first two especially raise the small hairs on the back of my neck. Just the first of those three items -- "limiting the federal government's powers" -- could open a treasure chest of extreme rewrites, everything from doing away with the policing of environmental degradation (do powerful businesses really want all those regs on their activities?) to overturning marriage equality for gay couples. Commentators opposed to a new Constitutional Convention warn of a "runaway convention," since nothing like this has ever been done before, and there are no rules.

First, for background, here's the full text of Article V:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.

"On the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states." In the current math of 50 total states, that means 34 can call for a new constitutional convention, and there are no set rules for who gets to be the delegates from the states, and how those delegates would be chosen (but you can bet your sweet bippy that in the case of North Carolina, Phil Berger and Tim Moore will be holding all the chits). 

Here's where it gets a little more complicated: The resolution in the NC House calling for a new convention that passed in March is being pushed by a pressure group calling itself "The Convention of States Action" (COS). On their website, they claim that 13 states have signed on, with a number of others happily pending (like North Carolina, waiting for action in Phil Berger's Senate).

But there's another separate push for a constitutional convention, specifically (and only?) for the purpose of inserting a balanced budget amendment, that has gathered some 28 states as supporters, which would be (if my high school math hasn't completely failed me) just six short of the required 34. This movement is the work of a group called the Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force (BBATF), and its success has alarmed many progressive orgs like Common Cause. In a current fundraising appeal, Common Cause alleged this:

Now that the far-right has seen their agenda and their choice for president rejected by the American voters -- we anticipate a major escalation in their drive to rig the rules of our democracy to get their way.

You see, once an Article V Constitutional Convention is called, everything is on the table. Freedom of the press. Freedom of religion. Free speech. Everything.

Many constitutional experts have warned that this is the biggest present threat to our democracy -- and few Americans have even heard of it! But it’s happening as we speak, behind closed doors and out of the public eye.

You take a look at some of the characters cheering on these constitutional rewrites, and you're not reassured that their agenda isn't animated by Trumpist bullying "to get their way." On the COS "Endorsements" page, we see the likes of Ron DeSantis, Sean Hannity, Mark Meadows, Rand Paul, Sarah Palin, Dr. James Dobson, etc. Why, you might get the idea that they had ulterior motives. 


The Article V Constitutional Convention came to my attention because a reader of this blog (thank you, SM) saw a small yardsign in Watauga County advocating a Convention of States for the express purpose of term-limits for members of Congress, which might garner slightly more support from the unsuspecting general public than some of the more open-ended policy goals.

Friday, May 07, 2021

The Trump Derangement Syndrome


Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who intends to succeed Liz Cheney in Republican leadership, has done her required public catechism -- stating her undying loyalty to Trump and all he believes, including The Big Lie. Doing it publicly is the last step (?) to an elevation among the Trumpists, whom she otherwise fears. She has to do the catechism not only to survive but to also rise in the new ranks of the Trump Republican Party, and by Gawd, Stepfanik went down on her knees, and now sez she's seen the light. 

In pledging herself to a former TV entertainer, she appeared "Thursday morning on the podcast of former Trump campaign and White House aide Stephen K. Bannon, where she sought to make the case that she is a reliable supporter of Trump and devoted to his brand of nationist populism, distancing herself from her ties to the old establishment wing of the party and her moderate voting record in Congress" (Colby Itkowitz).

...[Stefanik] kept her distance from Trump early in his presidency. She was the co-chair of the moderate GOP Tuesday Group with then-Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) and backed former Ohio governor John Kasich for president in 2016.

...Stefanik voted against some of [Trump's] policy proposals, including the 2017 tax cuts [and funding for The Wall].

Raw ambition to rise in the Trump Republican Party requires lying for Trump, specifically lying to pump up his ego. In Stefanik's case, her willingness to do a buy-in on "Stop the Steal" is probably not just her ambition playing the odds. It's survival itself in a party which is right now this minute purging (or censuring) every politician deemed disloyal to Caesar.

Caesar's Creed ("Let the repentant say so in  public"): "The election fraud in Georgia and Arizona and every other state that Trump should have won (and probably did win) -- it was outright fraud in multiple places that changed the results for Biden, and the legitimate president now plays golf at Mar-a-Lago." 

Is Stefanik's forced confession not a now-typical spectacle accompanying the implosion of a venerable political party? The kissing of the cold hand with its big ring, the public abasement of character to a self-serving CEO, the vowing of fidelity to a monster who would just as soon cut your fucking throat.

What set me off was how Stefanik, while simultaneously publicly kissing the ring in a manner that can only be described as revolting, slapped the sponge on Trump doubters, alleging they suffered from "Trump derangement syndrome," couldn't see all the good that Trump has done and all he accomplished for the betterment of humanity. 

I know when it's raining, and I see who's deranged.

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Et Tu, Virginia? Foxx To Place the Ceremonial Knife in Liz Cheney's Back


Separated by Trump--
V. Foxx on the right, Liz Cheney on the left

Politico reported that Congresswoman Virginia Foxx has been selected (or volunteered, bless her heart) to introduce the formal resolution in the Republican caucus to remove Liz Cheney from House Republican leadership.

Politico reported that "Foxx ... spoke out against Cheney during February’s closed-door meeting on the Wyoming Republican's future, according to multiple party sources. Ahead of this year's failed first attempt to oust Cheney from leadership, Foxx specifically took issue with the fact that Cheney used her 'conference chair' title in the press release announcing her vote to impeach then-President Donald Trump."

Politico also guesses that Foxx's 2022 primary challenger, Bo Hines, has something to do with her decision to pile on Cheney for her insufficient loyalty to the former president: "...Foxx, the top Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, is notably facing a far-right primary challenger who is accusing her of staying in office too long and being part of the capital's 'swamp.' Her leading role in Cheney's now-inevitable leadership eviction could help her in that fight."

The plan to tap Foxx for the resolution was hatched in recent days. GOP leaders made a calculation that if the effort to remove Cheney from leadership was led by ultra-conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus, their involvement could turn off other more moderate members. Instead, they wanted a Republican to lead the anti-Cheney charge who is both less polarizing and a woman, easing some of the political awkwardness associated with removing the highest-ranking GOP woman in Congress from her role as conference chair.

Foxx ... "less polarizing"? Also ... "a woman"? Personally, we haven't seen that long-form birth certificate. 

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

When Idiots Are in Charge of Education


Rep. Jeffrey McNeeley,
Iredell County

Public school teacher Justin Parmenter is up this morning on his blog, "Notes From the Chalkboard," with a post about being personally singled out and attacked in the General Assembly as a dangerous influence on children. I'm reposting much of what he wrote here because he's informing us about a baleful bill moving in the General Assembly which will make teachers presumptive threats to youth, who must prove themselves otherwise to a Republican majority in the General Assembly who are skeered of their own Trumpish demons. 

"A state legislator is howling indoctrination because my 7th graders are learning the ocean is polluted"

A member of the North Carolina House of Representatives held up my teaching as an example of harmful indoctrination of children this week as state legislators met to discuss a new bill which would require teachers to post their lesson plans online for public review.

The K-12 Education Committee approved HB 755, also known as “An Act to Ensure Academic Transparency,” and it’s on the House calendar for today.

The proposed legislation mandates that all lesson plans, including information about any supporting instructional materials as well as procedures for how an in-person review of lesson materials may be requested, be “prominently displayed” on school websites.

Iredell County Republican Representative Jeffrey McNeely gave the bill two enthusiastic thumbs up, pointing to my teaching as an example of the hidden indoctrination that will be exposed if the bill is passed into law:

...I saw in the Charlotte Observer the other week a English teacher was complaining because he had to do remote learning and in-person learning at the same time and it caused him to shorten his English class on environmental pollution.

What you think about that?

So I think this putting out to me this will help the parents going to the next grade be able to look and see what that teacher taught the year before, and hopefully we’re just gonna teach the kids, we’re not gonna try to indoctrinate ’em or teach ’em in a certain way to make ’em believe something other than the facts, the knowledge, the ability to write the ability to read.

McNeely is referring to an editorial I published in the Charlotte Observer last week about my experiences with hybrid teaching during the COVID 19 pandemic. In the article I discussed being in the middle of a lesson with students both in person and on Zoom when the fire alarm rang, forcing me to prematurely end class for my remote students in the middle of an important conversation.

The Iredell County legislator ignored the overall point I was making about the challenges the pandemic has wrought for teachers and students, directing his tunnel vision at my opening words: “Not long ago I was leading a discussion about environmental pollution with my 7th grade English class…”

For McNeely, this line, which I “prominently displayed” in the state’s three largest newspapers, exposes a sinister plot to deviate from state standards in support of the leftist agenda. Why else would an English teacher be discussing environmental pollution with students, if not “to make ’em believe something other than the facts, the knowledge, the ability to write the ability to read”?

I teach 7th grade English Language Arts in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. We use EL Education’s Language Arts curriculum, which is organized into modules that last several weeks. (The curriculum is open source, so materials are prominently displayed here.)

While working toward mastering state ELA standards, this year my students have studied the Lost Children of Sudan and the Harlem Renaissance, and right now we’re learning about plastic pollution. Through our current module, Mecklenburg County’s 7th grade students have gained an understanding of how plastic has become an integral part of our lives over the years but also how much of it makes its way into the world’s oceans as microplastics, harming wildlife and posing a threat to humans as well.

Not having a background in education, Representative McNeely may not be aware that teaching students to read and write involves selecting topics for them to read and write about.

This process allows teachers to create a broad and engaging educational experience for students and enables us to integrate instruction across subject areas so that our students see connections in class content between my English class, for example, and their social studies, science, and math classes. It’s not a leftist plot, it’s how school is supposed to work.

This drum beating over indoctrination of students is becoming completely absurd.

The vast majority of the public trusts teachers to do their jobs and understands that we already have way too much on our plates without adding the enormous burden of posting everything we do in class online for the pleasure of Representative McNeely and the fringe handful of his constituents who are convinced they’re fighting an end of days culture war.

McNeely and his misguided colleagues need to put down their pitchforks and focus on doing what they were elected to do: creating policies which will actually improve the lives of North Carolinians.


Representative Jeffrey McNeeley was appointed to his seat in July 2019 to replace a retiring Republican woman and then won reelection to the seat last fall. He's a former Iredell County Commissioner, and he owns a company that makes bulk feed for livestock.