Monday, November 28, 2022

Thom Tillis Called Out as a Sinner for Supporting Marriage Equality


Mark Brody

Republican Rep. Mark Brody representing Union County in the NC House (Dist. 55) has published a harsh editorial condemning Sen. Thom Tillis for his support of the "Respect for Marriage Act," which is set up now to pass the Senate this week. The bill would make it more difficult impossible for the US Supremes to do away with gay marriage the way they did away with abortion rights. Tillis has already voted to overcome any filibuster of the law and has promised to vote for final passage.

Mark Brody is very concerned that Tillis is coloring outside the lines of both the NC and the National GOP platforms, which is pretty funny in itself since Trump found the national platform disposable enough to decree no rewrite or update when he ran in 2020. At that point the platform had no visible champions among GOP rank-and-file,

But Brody sez he's prepared to make a big stink at the next NC Republican convention because of Tillis's departure from "God's Law": 

The United States Congress, with the support and leadership of our own Senator Tillis, will vote to “Institutionalize” a direct and unequivocal prohibition by God, the Creator referred to in our Declaration of Independence.

Senator Tillis will vote to “institutionalize” a sin against God’s Law!

It's important to notice that GOP political doctrine lines up perfectly with Divine Instruction, and hence also with Divine Retribution.

Will Thom Tillis care? Will he quake under the glare of Mark Brody's side eye?

Saturday, November 26, 2022

If You're Lauren Boebert-- Sued for Defamation--Who You Gonna Call in Watauga? Why, Nathan Miller, Natch!



Monday morning in Watauga Superior Court, Judge Gary Gavenus will hear a motion to dismiss a defamation and malicious prosecution civil suit against Colorado Congresswoman Lauren Boebert. The suit was brought in Mitchell County back in October by the American Muckrakers and its president David B. Wheeler. 

(American Muckrakers was the org that made Madison Cawthorn's last months before the May primary fairly uncomfortable, and then turned its guns on Lauren Boebert in Colorado who eventually won reelection by less than 600 votes. American Muckrakers president David Wheeler ran a vigorous campaign against Ralph Hise in 2018 in NCS Dist. 47.)

The lawsuit alleges that Boebert defamed Wheeler and American Muck (which is a registered PAC), saying they “knew what they said [about her past activities] was a lie, and posted it anyway” in regard to Boebert's allegedly having two abortions, being an unregistered paid escort, and causing an ATV accident in Moab, Utah, in 2019.

"The lawsuit will show that Boebert had no idea that all of the PAC and Wheeler’s information came directly from hours of recorded phone calls and other written and verbal information with former employees, former friends, and Republican political operatives in Colorado. She lied, and she knew she was lying, and she damaged the PAC and Wheeler, which entitles Plaintiffs to have their day in court." [American Muck press release]

Watauga County Lawyer Nathan Miller, representing Boebert, is moving for dismissal "for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Lack of Standing, Lack of Personal Jurisdiction, Improper Venue and Failure to State a Claim." We doubt very seriously that Lauren Boebert herself will be present for the hearing.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Sen. Thom Tillis Goes Farther Off the Trumpist Reservation


The establishment Republican publication, Carolina Journal, published Sen. Thom Tillis's response to a question posed to him in a Zoom press availability -- would he support Trump's newest announcement for the presidency? Tillis said he would "wait and see."

As in "wait for the inevitable indictments" and "see whether the sun still comes up in the morning"?

Wait and see. It's definitely a signal of a cooling off, especially when Tillis went further, hinting that maybe unto us another political savior has been born in Florida: “We’ve seen a number of people in the Republican Party emerge as leaders. Maybe you should take the time to see who will come out and build a message that we think resonates best with the American people.”

Tillis famously broke with Trump over using an emergency declaration to move other budget money into paying for the Mexican wall and very quickly repented that, earning Trump's endorsement in the 2020 Senate race against Cal Cunningham. Tillis appeared at Trump rallies during that campaign and probably benefitted from the endorsement, though the Trumpist wing of the party remains suspicious of if not outright hostile to him. He seems now prepared to rip the sheet once and for all.

We're taking a "wait and see" attitude toward Tillis's shifting allegiances.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Burr and Tillis Vote to Advance Marriage Equality Law


Senator Dick Burr is retiring, so his vote was perhaps easier than Thom Tillis's, who seems determined to become a moderate bridge-builder (not that there's anything wrong with that). Joining ten other Republicans (some of them even more surprising in their choice to support gay marriage -- see list below), Burr and Tillis helped reach the total of 62 senators favoring cloture on the Respect for Marriage Act. Sixty votes are required to forestall a filibuster. The full Senate is expected to vote again on passage, immediately after Thanksgiving, at which time it goes back to the House which has to vote again because the Senate added a religious liberty amendment not in the original House version.

The Respect for Marriage Act would require that people be considered married in any state as long as the marriage was valid in the state where it was performed. That may sound like a loophole, and it does allow some backward states to cause trouble. If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns its prior same-sex marriage rulings, state governments could make the unions illegal within their borders, requiring same-sex or interracial couples to travel to a state where it is legal in order to wed. Those home states would, however, need to recognize the marriages under this bill, as would the federal government. So maybe it's a loophole with no real effect.

The bill would also repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman and allowed states to decline to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. That law has remained on the books despite being declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.

The religious liberty amendment that the Senate added (and which the House will have to vote on) clarifies that the bill does not authorize the federal government to recognize polygamous marriages and confirms that nonprofit religious organizations would not be required to provide “any services, facilities, or goods for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage.” There are plenty of other venues besides Our Church of the Divine Retribution ("but it has a center aisle!"), so there's no need to force yourself onto religious groups that have a bad case of the yips over gay marriage.

Republican Senators Who Voted for Marriage Equality

Retirees: Sen. Roy Blunt (Missouri), Sen. Richard Burr (North Carolina), Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio)

Plus Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia), Susan Collins (Maine), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Cynthia Lummis (Wyoming), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Mitt Romney (Utah), Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Thom Tillis (NC), and Todd Young (Indiana).

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Losers Who Become Invisible Men


I hate kicking him as he exits, but as Madison Cawthorn became our own 15-minute celebrity, we have to keep up his history.

Photo Jabin Botsford, in the WashPost

The news is not too surprising: He's disappeared from the job that he's supposed to continue to function in for two more months. He's missed a bunch of votes and used proxies some 86 times to vote in his name (something that oughta not be allowed --we're paying those guys very well to show up to work), he's pretty much moved out of his congressional office space, he's closed all but one of his regional offices (and even then, his rep is only answering calls about on-going constituent complaints or requests; don't bother calling if you've got a brand new problem), and he hasn't been seen in his western North Carolina district since the primary.

Sarah Pequeno reports in the NandO

He has always struggled with constituent services, but all but one of his local offices are closed, and his main Hendersonville office is only tackling existing constituent services cases. When calling his office as a non-constituent, you are rerouted to Congress’s call center. When calling as a constituent without a pending case, the phones route you to a voicemail for the Hendersonville office. Only when saying I was a constituent with an active case was I able to speak with an actual human on the other line.

On October 6, Pequeno reports, Cawthorn was supposed to speak at a Duplin County GOP banquet — but he missed it in favor of spending time in Florida, where, just incidentally, he recently purchased a million dollar pad in Cape Coral. Pequeno tried but couldn't uncover whether Cawthorn had even voted in NC last week. Those records will be publicly available eventually.

Pequeno's closing shot: "Cawthorn’s fall from grace among the Republican party was swift and permanent, so it isn’t entirely surprising that he went into hiding. It is, however, disappointing. Whatever he pursues next, hopefully he can find the time to be more present."

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

American History X


Columbus County, NC, is a long way from Watauga County, down almost to the coast with no major highways that you might have traveled on your way to getting a tan at the beach. It's almost exclusively rural. Whiteville is the county seat, a name that has some resonance for this story. According to the 2020 Census, the county's population is a little over 30% Black, with an additional 2,000 Waccamaw Siouan American Indians. 

As recently as the 2018 general elections, the county had a Black sheriff, Lewis Hatcher, who was defeated in that election (by 34 votes) by one Jody Greene, who was suspended from office in October pending an investigation of recordings of his going off on racist rants. The county's DA had filed the court petition to remove him. (Actually, Greene voluntarily stepped down to head off a public hearing on his misdeeds.) His unbecoming behavior toward Black subordinates went public in September (covered here on WataugaWatch, you bet!).

Once (and future?) Sheriff Jody Greene

Nevertheless -- and this is where rural North Carolina can be as irrationally unpredictable as a Franz Kafka short story -- Jody Greene's name remained on November's ballot, and he actually won the election with 54.26% of the vote, beating the sheriff's deputy, Jason Soles, who blew the whistle on him for his balls-to-the-walls racism.

The DA -- maybe with remarkable presentiment -- issued this warning on the same day Jody Greene stepped down: “These allegations speak through time and are disqualifying to anyone seeking to hold the high office of sheriff. Should Greene be successful in the November election, my office would have an ethical obligation to file, and will file, a new Petition to Remove Greene from that term of office based on the allegations alleged in the current Petition to Remove.” Whoa! 

In the updated petition for removal, the DA lists new allegations against Greene, claiming Greene had arrested residents without basis, threatened county commissioners, and had a sexual relationship with a female employee while on duty.

Trump America likes its autocrats, especially the armed bullies.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Update From Transylvania County: Is Our Future Now Behind Us?


Guest Post by Deda Edney

It’s a few days after the mid-term election of 2022 in Transylvania County, North Carolina. I’ve read online that Democrats won seats across America beyond expectations, but, even from the top of this mountain, I can’t see one who did.

I also read that national analysts have colored our purple state red. Overnight. I feel disoriented, as if the future is somehow behind me.

Halfway down the mountain, I stop to watch some monarch butterfly stragglers on their way south to Mexico. I hope they come back a thousand fold.

From here I think I can see the dome of the State House in Raleigh, faintly glimmering far off to the east. Is that Governor Cooper with Attorney General Stein, stranded on a blue Democratic island in a red Republican sea? No! It turns out the NC Legislature is still hanging by a blue thread.

“But the state Supreme Court,” I think, squinting into the distance. “We’ve been so fortunate that a 4-to-3 majority of justices have supported the Governor.” Wait! A ceremony appears to be going on and two blue robes are turning red. It’s now a majority of five red to two blue!

From miles away a slight breeze cools my spirit; the door to the Chamber of Justice has just slammed shut.

I put on my sweater against the chill and go down to my county where it’s still Election Night. A loud party is going on in the camp of the Red Caps. I’m curious, so I walk over to a stout, bushy-whiskered figure in shorts and ask him for a comment.

“I’m standing in the back of the GOP headquarters celebrating,” he explains.

Then a small woman in a dress and very high heels briefly appears from the shadows. She’s murmuring something noncommittal, such as, “I’m pleased and excited.”

During the campaign, these two new School Board members told voters that it’s ok to arm teachers. This, they said, would keep the children safe during AR-15 rifle encounters.

So, now with the School Board at four red and one blue, we can expect … but I turn my head away.

Our schools do need attention. For years the Commission Board has chewed over the same question, “Should we or should we not spend your hard-earned tax money on more buckets to catch rainwater in classrooms?”

Once when the commissioners were close to a decision on this, one of them said, “Ok, but not one penny more.” As his words hung in the air, inflation pushed up the cost to 10 pennies more, and the project was again put in question.

Coming back to the reality of tonight’s revelers, I think, “Maybe the newly elected Republican Commissioner will finally talk the Board into helping out the kids!”

In his campaign T-shirt, he’s easy to find. “Excuse me," I say to him. “What will you do now for the people?”

“I’m enjoying my victory and will discuss my priorities later,” he says. “I’m trying to have fun here.”

This energetic fellow must have seen my confusion over what leadership should look like, because he twirled back around and added, “I did a lot of jobs and nobody was ever disappointed.” Then he disappeared into the shadows.

So that was my mid-fall night’s dream. But this morning the sun came up on a world that still needs our care.

I know in my heart that you don’t suddenly stop caring about the Earth, about each other or about health, education, voting rights, or human rights. Respect for the truth, for the law equally applied, and for social differences — all this matters today as much as it did a week ago.

American democracy still needs our help.

When you care about something going wrong, you show up. You speak up. And then you realize you’re not alone. The door to our county Democratic Headquarters is still open.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Starting Over From Scratch


After today, no matter what happens, #democrats need to shred their messaging memos, stare into the abyss of the American id, and start over from scratch.

--Twitter post by @bullydoc, 3:07 pm Nov. 8th



Those of us who have been organizing and strategizing on the county level for over 30 years know from stupid. The fact that no one in the high-up offices pays us any attention is generally a blessing, leaving us alone to practice the right way what we've learned the hard way, but being ignored is also a burden when you can't get the mailing lists you need because someone at the state party is guarding data like it's the Crown Jewels.


It's also bad when the state and national Party apparatuses, or individual candidate campaigns with lots of money for high-dollar consultants, set their messaging around polling that's just plain off its rocker -- as some of that polling was leading up to last Tuesday. We all gotta stop listening to talking heads, even those doom-scrollers among us like me.


Timidity, being afraid to say outright what you believe, has taken over in much of the Democratic Party of the Old South. Shyness about ideals has been building actually for decades, and I'll tell you who hates it the most -- Gen Z and the Millennials, the very young voters that the state Party should be talking to all the time, registering them every year and not just in election years, getting them out to vote in municipals as aggressively as we do for even-year general elections.


Patting the youth vote on its head via social media for the two months before a big election doesn't cut it. Because "Twitter ain't real," as the youngest member of the Boone Town Council argued on this site following last May's primary. Having big Twitter followings or Facebook likes or cute TikToks doesn't mean you've earned any votes.


Twitter ain't real and neither, for that matter, is any social media if Democratic candidates are relying on it exclusively as an easy button-pushing excuse for not getting their effing boots on the actual effing ground. Why was turnout in North Carolina so down this year? Why especially was the Gen Z vote, so startling in other states, not spectacular in North Carolina? Social media is not voter engagement. It is too often an excuse not to do the actual hard work of voter engagement.


We need a statewide summit of Party activists and operatives -- please gawd, no candidates! -- to hash it out and suggest what "starting over from scratch" might look like, and then we need some Party leadership to put those goals into action.


Thursday, November 10, 2022

The NC Congressional Races, 2022


We now have seven Democrats representing North Carolina in the US Congress, seven of 14, so we improved our numbers there and helped blunt Democratic losses in other states (like in Florida, where -- yikes! -- there is officially no intelligent life surviving).

Don Davis

CD1 -- Democrat Don Davis comfortably beat the bullying Trumpist Sandy Smith by 11,600 votes for the open seat once held by the venerable G.K. Butterfield.

CD2 -- Democrat Deborah Ross easily held on to her seat.

CD3 -- Republican incumbent Greg Murphy easily buried his Democratic opponent.

CD4 -- Democrat Valerie Foushee easily won David Price's open seat.

CD5 -- Republican Virginia Foxx ... don't get me started.

CD6 -- Democratic incumbent Kathy Manning won reelection with 53.75% of the vote.

CD7 -- Republican incumbent David Rouzer easily put away Democrat Charles Graham, who had one of the best introductory candidate videos, produced by Frank Eaton while Graham was planning to run against Dan Bishop in CD9, but new gerrymandering did him in there.

CD8 -- Republican Dan Bishop, a male Virginia Foxx, is now elected to be a jerk to infinity and beyond.

CD9 -- Republican incumbent Richard Hudson easily won reelection.

CD10 -- Republican incumbent Patrick McHenry took 72% of the vote.

CD11 -- Republican Chuck Edwards is now permanently (probably) a D.C. fixture, beating Jasmine Beach-Ferara. It wasn't even close.

Wiley Nickel

CD12 -- Democratic incumbent Alma Adams easily beat Madison Cawthorn clone Tyler Lee, who apparently believes he's on a mission from God.

CD13 -- For Ted Budd's old House seat, Democrat Wiley Nickel beat the other Madison Cawthorn clone, Bo Hines, by over 7,000 votes. Hines and his patron Donald Trump were counting on that red wave, which didn't arrive for him. Maybe Hines can now go seek an actual job.

CD14 -- For the brand new 14th, state Sen. Jeff Jackson easily rolled over his Republican challenger. Can't help thinking he would maybe have won that Senate seat this year.