Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Zero 'Class,' But Of Course You Already Knew That


May the statement Donald J. Trump made about a dead statesman haunt him for the rest of his life:

"Wonderful to see Colin Powell, who made big mistakes on Iraq and famously, so-called weapons of mass destruction, be treated in death so beautifully by the Fake News Media. Hope that happens to me someday. He was a classic RINO, if even that, always being the first to attack other Republicans. He made plenty of mistakes, but anyway, may he rest in peace!"

But anyway.

Banned from Twitter for life, Trump issued those words in a statement he hoped others would copy onto Twitter, which many did. Trump did not even try to conceal his envy for a man whose virtues others celebrate -- "Hope that happens to me someday."


Tuesday, October 19, 2021

From Price to Cawthorn: North Carolina's Slide Into Hair-Brained Mediocrity


The 4th CD is losing a scholar and a gentleman in David Price. I can't begin to do him justice here, so I'll quote Ned Barnett:

In his decades in Washington, Price has been an earnest and thoughtful representative, liberal in his politics, but deeply traditional in his respect for the history of Congress and his commitment to work within the system. 

Throughout his career, Price has focused on issues important to a district known for its universities and high-tech businesses. A longtime member of the House Appropriations Committee, he helped win funding for expansion of the EPA lab at Research Triangle Park. He has also advocated for education, election reforms, commuter rail transportation, health care and affordable housing. 

A native of Tennessee, Price first attended Mars Hill College before transferring to the University of North Carolina and then going on to Yale where he earned a divinity degree and a doctorate in political science.

As he prepares to leave Congress, Price feels that the institution is leaving itself. Once a more deliberative body led by senior members and more open to bipartisanship, he sees Congress, especially the House, as an institution where showmanship and partisanship prevail and experience and expertise matter less.

What? "Showmanship and partisanship" have replaced "experience and expertise" in the US House? Yes, look no further than the 11th CD's Madison Cawthorn, the youngest member of Congress and the stupidest and who is nothing but spectacle and irresponsible mouth-flap.

Lord help us, North Carolina. Instead of more statesmen, you send a punk who's all about clowning for the Trumpist crowd.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

The Arc of Nathan Tabor


Nathan Tabor is currently in jail in Brunswick County, with a list of charges I'll get around to summarizing below. Way back in 2004, Tabor ran as a young Christian conservative against Virginia Foxx in the Republican congressional primary, the year that Foxx took the 5th District seat she still holds. Tabor came in fifth out of six. He had been endorsed by the NC Right to Life and by the Rev. Jerry Falwell (no, really), who actually called Tabor "a young Jesse Helms." The photo here is from that period in Tabor's life.

He did his best to live up to Falwell's compliment. He was particularly unbending on the issue of abortion. He constantly modeled outrage over what women might do with their bodies, coming out of a general contempt for "women's rights." He ran as though Virginia Foxx was faaaar to the left, at the vanguard of bossy liberal women who were going to destroy Christian principles. He had attended Pat Robertson's Regent University and followed the Gospel of "let your women keep silence." He published The Conservative Voice, was kind enough to put me on his email list, so I regularly expressed my own outrage at his preachments. I wrote a lot about Tabor after 2004.

Tabor went on to chair the Forsyth County Republican Party, ran unsuccessfully for town alderman in Kernersville, and attempted to file in 2012 for the 6th District congressional primary but got to the Board of Elections after the deadline.

Currently, his estranged wife says he's addicted to drugs and always on the verge of financial disaster. Which perhaps explains how his current incarceration got started. He was arrested earlier in October by the Ocean Isle Beach police department, along with the Brunswick County Sheriff's office, for stealing catalytic converters from a church, a Habitat for Humanity Restore, and from two different people (some of the goods allegedly stolen at Sunset Beach). (Michael Hewlett, Winston-Salem Journal, has the most complete story on Tabor's multiple troubles.)

One wonders what Tabor was doing at the beach. His home is in Kernersville. Could it have anything to do with this: There was a warrant out for Tabor's arrest in Kernersville on August 21, 2021, on a complaint of cyberstalking filed by his pastor at the Kerwin Baptist Church. (The entanglements get increasingly baroque.) Luckily, the third week in August is the perfect time to go to the beach! But the details of his arrest suggest he was also close to destitute. And then there's what his wife wrote when she filed for complete custody of their 16-year-old daughter: “Defendant has become addicted to drugs, spending thousands and thousands of dollars on drugs.”

Nathan Tabor, four days ago

Added to the charges of outright theft: allegations that he made threats against his mother-in-law and other family members in Catawba County in an attempt to get more than $200,000 and that he harassed his pastor in Forsyth County, accusing the pastor of embezzling money from the church. He made sexually-explicit comments to both the pastor and his wife. The pastor filed for a restraining order against Tabor in August.

Mrs. Tabor herself filed for a restraining order against her husband after they separated last June, alleging that he had sent a constant stream of harassing text messages, emails, and social media postings. “Defendant is mentally and emotionally abusive to the minor child, including sending email implying the minor child will burn in hell, and ‘I curse that and pray every time you see or touch something you enjoy that you immediately get sick.’ ”

This is not to say that all Christian conservatives are hypocrites and potentially "mental." This is to say that sometimes claiming to be a Christian conservative can cover big cracks in character.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

AppState Denies Any Involvement in the Appalachian PAC


On Monday, Oct. 11, AppState political science major Adam Zebzda addressed a letter to the university administration "respectfully requesting" an investigation into the involvement of two AppState trustees in the launch of a political action committee (PAC) whose stated goal is to take over Boone town government for the betterment of the real estate industry and housing developers. I have a copy of that letter.


Zebzda wanted answers about whether "any Trustees violated North Carolina General Statutes or the UNC Policy Manual and Code, either explicitly or in spirit, which govern the political involvement of public State officials…."


Quickly the deputy general counsel for Chancellor Sheri Everts answered Zebzda in a two-page denial on Oct. 12, quick turnaround for a bureaucracy! (I also have a copy of that letter.) There's been no untoward political activity by the two trustees nor by Appalachian State University, wrote the deputy. 


Much of his denial seemed based on the photograph of the two trustees that was published on this site


The deputy counsel wrote: "Their only involvement seemed to be that they were photographed together. The photograph further illustrates that neither of these individuals wore any indicia of Appalachian State University affiliation and were pictured talking to each other and not candidates or officers of App-PAC."


The wording is interesting: "Their only involvement." The flat denial implied by that word choice gets undercut immediately by "seemed to be," which made me flash on the university's Latin motto: To Be Rather Than To Seem. The physical evidence in this case is a "seems," at least for the deputy counsel, and is utterly without substance. (But the involvement of high-ranking university officials in a PAC was never the implication of an otherwise innocent photograph. It's the stuff that stands well outside the view of any camera that concerns us. And the lawyer's argument is silly.)


None of it matters, anyway, because the deputy counsel hurries to his main point: The rules against political activity applies to employees, not to trustees (tiers of power):


"…this North Carolina law only applies to employees, as it is entitled Political Activity of Employees. Trustees are not Appalachian State University employees." 


Flatly stated, the two trustees are entitled to their political activity. I certainly agree with that. The question for me was always this: Does their political activity represent political policy for the university?


The deputy counsel says "no."


"To be clear, App-PAC is not affiliated with the University. Most importantly, the University is not affiliated, not associated, not connected and otherwise not part of the PAC in any way, especially when individuals, whether they be faculty, staff or students, are permitted to attend these types of political events on their own time."


I accept that categorial denial and wonder why the chancellor did not also say this at the ASU faculty senate meeting last week. I've apparently been roundly condemned on campus for publishing that Zoom clip of Chancellor Everts remaining mute (and not a little miffed) when asked the direct question about university knowledge of or involvement in the Appalachian PAC. If her silence did not signal guilt, then I have to assume it's just arrogance and irritation at being questioned about anything at all, ever.


That's now the corporate style at AppState.


And the overriding question behind all this controversy remains: What are AppState ambitions in Boone regarding real estate development, and what kind of levers of power can they marshal for those ambitions?

Friday, October 15, 2021

Oh the Maps They Can Draw!


Lekha Shupeck reports that this redistricting map below may be one of the finalists for final adoption because it was drawn by a member of the majority. Look closely.

This is the doodling of Sen. Warren Daniel, who represents Avery, Caldwell, and Burke counties in the NC Senate. Under Daniel's hand, Watauga County has in the main been drawn into the 11th CD (orange), except for a tailhook of yellow that reaches up from Caldwell County. The yellow is a new proposed 5th CD.

Judge Bob Orr suggests that the weird gerrymander is meant to take in Virginia Foxx's home. Can't tell from this map without more granular details, but nothing much surprises us about the NCGOP's map-drawing.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Define 'Trumpism'? See Mark Robinson


Our lieutenant governor since last year's election, Mark Robinson, has a bully's instincts: pick on the weakest on the playground. Physically, he indeed comes off as a great big bully, and he channels the Trump advice, "never apologize."

He's exactly what the Trump Party likes, applauds, gives money to, and elects. Billy Ball complains that no one visible in the NCGOP has called him out on anything he's said or done:

Robinson, the highest-ranking Republican in North Carolina, was open about his anti-LGBTQ beliefs long before he called queer folks “filth” at a Randolph County church in June. Long before he called trans folks “demonic” at a church in Raleigh in August.

So stow the shock. The hate isn’t a mistake, it is the message.

Robinson is not, as so many headlines labeled him, “homophobic.” He does not fear queer folks. He hates them. He will be remembered as a bigot, a spiteful buffoon who — best-case scenario — resigns today, even if that’s unlikely.

To call him out would invite bullying, and who wants that? Not Senate President Pro-Tem Phil Berger and NC House Speaker Tim Moore, who resolutely had no comment about Robinson's latest LGBTQ+ = "filth" statements (plural). But the NCGOP issued a message on its Facebook page saying the party "stands with" Robinson. Those are the two acceptable stances now for Republican office-holders watching their party transmogrify into a racist frat-initiation fueled by hatred. In the new Party of Trump it's either say nothing at all or be a lickspittle, groveling enabler of bad behavior and even worse morals. Those Trumpist voters will turn on you and take your hide -- any fellow Republican even thinking about criticizing the current drift. 

The Appalachian PAC Endorses Two Candidates for Boone Town Council


The announcement came yesterday on AppPAC's Facebook page:

Eric Woolridge and Benjamin Ray

About as anti-climactic as any political endorsements ever were.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The Man in the Silly Clothes Backs Down


Less than a week ago, Rep. Jeff McNeely (R-Iredell) led two other members of the NC House Freedom Caucus (Rep. Bobby Hanig, R-Dare, and Rep. Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus) in an unthought-out press conference in which Mr. McNeely put the Durham County Board of Elections on notice that he and other members of the Freedom Caucus would be coming through their doors very soon and that they would be wanting to inspect the innards of Durham County voting equipment for any illegal modems which they claim is the source of most North Carolina voting fraud.

Modems are illegal on North Carolina voting equipment, by law, as is any machine connection to the Internet.

McNeely, dressed like Aunt Bee's best friend, caught some blow-back, including on this site, and according to Laura Leslie, by the time McNeely got back to his office later that day, and had a chance to catch up on the news that he had made, he quickly changed his tune, "saying he would simply drive by the building where the Durham County Board of Elections keeps its voting machines to see for himself whether the machines were secure."

Hahahahahahaha [can't catch my breath] hahahahaha.

Like so much else that comes out of the Bully Caucus, this is all political theater, and the Trumpists do plum love it, every bit of strongman, authoritarian trash-talk that comes out of the mouths of politicians who sold their soul so long ago, they're now the walking dead.

Monday, October 11, 2021

PamsPicks Has Published Her "Take" on This Year's BooneTown Elections


Pam's Picks, including her extensive research, discussion, and endorsement of 2021 candidates for the Boone Town Council, has gone live.

She extends the information particularly on the "Appalachian PAC" and its plans for making the real estate industry happy and Appalachian State University more prosperous. Although the PAC hasn't as yet publicly endorsed any candidates, they're pretty clearly involved behind the candidacy of at least two candidates. The third dropped out weeks ago.