Friday, September 18, 2020

So Now Rep. Ray Russell Is Antifa?


This is the kind of ridiculous attack piece that backfires on a Republican challenger like Ray Pickett.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Watauga GOP Breaks the Furniture in Its Charm Offensive To Win the Affection of AppState Voters

Eric Eller, far left, with Nancy Owen next to him
in the middle

First, Republican member of the Watauga Board of Elections, Eric Eller, addressed a letter to AppState Police Chief Andrew Stephenson last July 8th, raising the specter that Black Lives Matter activists might threaten voters at on-campus voting sites. 

When that letter became public on the AppState campus, an uproar ensued in which student government leaders demanded that Eller resign his seat on the BOE. Eller refused to resign. He also refused to apologize.

The other four members of the Watauga BOE, including the other Republican member Nancy Owen, sent a letter to AppState student government leaders apologizing for Eller's letter and disavowing that he spoke for them in expressing fear of Black students. The letter said in part:

... [Eller's] letter was not authorized by the Board of Elections. It was the action of one member acting on his own. The letter does reference “our board” and “our agenda” and is signed by the individual as “Member, Watauga County Board of Elections”. A reader could certainly infer that it was written on behalf of the Board. It was not.

Members of the Board of Elections are nominated by political parties, but we are then pledged to work in a non-partisan manner. When this letter was written, we were working together on plans for holding an election during a pandemic. To some of us, it seemed the better course not to publicize a letter with which we disagreed, but rather to move on. We knew that the writer did not speak for the Board, but we failed to make that clear to the public we serve. Avoiding conflict then has allowed for misunderstanding, suspicion and pain now. Our neglect was wrong, and we apologize....

Eller then doubled-down, herded fellow Republican Nancy Owen with him, and with the masterful lawyering of Nathan Miller, sued the State Board of Elections for approving a Watauga Early Voting Plan that put an early voting site in the AppState Student Union. How he and Owen have standing to sue is still an open question in this household, but the continued brilliance of the Watauga GOP in wooing the youth vote surpasses previous years of their feverish attempts to block, thwart, hobble, and otherwise discourage ballot access on the AppState campus.

Congratulations are in order.

The Body Count -- Michael Caputo


A Reoccurring Feature on Who's Jumping Off Luxury Liner Trump

Michael Caputo, the top spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services and a longtime ally of President Trump's, is taking a 60-day leave of absence after a social media tirade in which he falsely accused government scientists of engaging in "sedition."

HHS announced the leave in a news release yesterday, which said Caputo decided to take the two months off as the department's assistant secretary for public affairs "to focus on his health and the well-being of his family."

The leave of absence effectively removes Caputo from government operations through November's election. The statement also announced that Paul Alexander, whom Caputo had brought in as a scientific adviser, would be leaving the department altogether.

Last week, Caputo came under fire after reports that he and Alexander sought to edit and delay public health reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Emails from Alexander obtained by Politico complained to CDC Director Robert Redfield that the agency's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report "hurt the President," and described data-based publications on the risk of the coronavirus in children as "hit pieces on the administration" that undermined Trump's school reopening plan.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

News Flash: Republican Members of Watauga Board of Elections Seek Injunction Against Early Voting Site in AppState's Student Union


Eric Eller and Nancy Owen, the Republican members of the Watauga County Board of Elections, have filed a complaint in the Wake County Superior Court seeking to block an early voting site in the Appalachian State University student union.

Eller and Owen are represented by Boone attorney Nathan Miller, who has a long history of bringing suits to suppress the student vote.

Eller and Owen are asking for an expedited hearing on their complaint. Early voting is due to begin October 15.

Would You Take a Hurried-Up Trump Vaccine?


Sen. Thom Tillis and Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham faced each other last night in the first of three scheduled debates. This morning, the News and Observer chose to headline Cunningham's expressed "hesitance" about taking a COVID-19 vaccine that was rushed through trials to serve the politics of a lying liar. Tillis said that Cunningham's suspicion that politics was trumping science was "irresponsible."

Irresponsible? It seems responsible in the extreme to be suspicious of having something injected into our bodies that hasn't been thoroughly tested and vetted and certified by public health professionals as not only safe but also effective for the intended purpose.

Right now this minute, Trump has installed a man cheerleading for armed rebellion into a key communications post at the Centers for Disease Control -- Michael Caputo, a close ally of convicted liar Roger Stone, "made outlandish and false accusations on Sunday that career government scientists were engaging in 'sedition' in their handling of the pandemic and that left-wing hit squads were preparing for armed insurrection after the election."

Sedition. That's a Trumpian set-up if I've ever seen one (and I've seen plenty). Any scientist who subsequently suggests that Trump's hurried-up vaccine is not safe, not effective, will be branded a traitor to the president. You can see that coming, right?

Cal Cunningham's hesitance is just good sense. Tillis's shock is more toadying to a strong man he's profoundly afraid of.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Joyce Elliott Looking Better To Flip a US House Seat in Arkansas

I warned you guys back on August 2nd that you should pay attention to Democrat Joyce Elliott, running for Congress in the 2nd Congressional District of Arkansas. Arkansas. Elliott is one of those dynamic new Black women running for office all across the land, and new polling puts her essentially even right now with the Republican incumbent, French Hill.

“The congressional race is thoroughly tethered to the presidential race in the current polling with all the geographic, demographic, and political patterns from the presidential race essentially replicated. Thus, while the presidential race is a referendum on Trump, the congressional race — in which Hill has not attempted to separate himself from the top of the ticket — is driven by nationalized patterns. Elliott’s campaign has emphasized her public education credentials, including 30 years as a teacher, which serves her particularly well in suburbanized communities where public schools serve as the glue for communities like Conway, Bryant, and Benton.

 “Elliott does run just behind Biden in Pulaski County [Little Rock] and needs to close that gap to maximize her vote in the largest county. She does also underperform slightly with younger voters (who are more likely to be undecided) and college-educated voters. Otherwise, the Biden and Elliott coalitions look very much alike.

“With Elliott showing solid fundraising success, all signs point to a very close race in the district before early voting begins. Elliott relies upon Biden maintaining his strong position in the district. Hill either needs Trump to rejuvenate his standing nationally or he must figure out how to subtly separate himself from the President without alienating core Trump voters.”


Saturday, September 12, 2020

C.J. Cregg, You Rock Me


C.J. Cregg, played by Allison Janney

So we started watching "The West Wing" -- from the pilot episode, on -- to check our memories that it was the best TV of all time. Netflix obliged us. That old show -- which premiered in 1999 on NBC in the waning days of Bill Clinton's misadventures in Mugstomp-on-the-Potomac -- looks to me now like evergreen commentary on guts versus compromise and a culturally significant artifact from the sundowning of American liberalism. 

I don't believe I found the show until well into its 1st season of 22 episodes, in the late fall of 1999, as the buzz about it spread. I remember Stockard Channing vividly as Abigail Bartlet, but she didn't appear as a character until about four episodes into the run. So the earliest eps are new to me, but the whole production has made me laugh out loud, and moved me to tears, and reminded me of our naive hopes and unrealized fears about a president who is actually a good person. Cheating on his wife would never happen, nor cheating period. 

I try to remember what we were up to back when "The West Wing" captured our imaginations. We had recently been involved in the painful resurrection of a Democratic Party in our local county. Old Guard Democrats were not amused that we had organized insurgents in almost all 20 precincts and took control of the party at the 1997 county convention. Which split the party. Which took time to heal (and may not in fact be fully healed even yet). 

The new guys were activists and organizers, "liberals" in the parlance of the day. Bright-eyed optimists and pushy reformers who wanted to change stuff. They easily earned the resentment and opposition from a conservative old guard. But the new party -- better organized with each passing month -- nevertheless won two seats on the local county commission in 1998, and with the election of a third Democrat, very much an old guard type who eventually admitted that he was really a Republican and switched parties -- Democrats had taken control of county government for the first time in years. "Control," so to speak because while liberals ran the Party, conservatives ran the County Commission and were rooted among the business elite. During the election campaigns of 2000, the old guard actually opened its own rival "Democratic Party HDQs" and entertained its own constituency, especially among the legal community and various business interests. 

I had sort of forgotten that "The West Wing" was really about those same tectonic pressures and the strains and failures that can follow. President Josiah ("Jed") Bartlet's flaw is his hesitance, a caution about acting on his beliefs, and the great dramatic conflict of the first season seesaws between a desirable liberal menu of high-minded cultural causes, and the iron maiden of compromise ("betrayal"). The greatest threats to the stability of the universe is said to be the liberals who are too radical, refusing under any circumstances to compromise. The frustrations of the president's idealistic staff, that even with a liberal Democrat as president, liberals are always always forced to compromise away the marrow of their beliefs. But finally, in the episode titled "Let Bartlet Be Bartlet," number 19 of 22, the president and his chief of staff decide to stop the habit of pussyfooting and to make the appointments they want to, rather than the ones the party honchos in the Senate want. They gird for battle, the promised retaliation by a Congress in the hands of the opposition. You feel your pulse quicken when fictional characters take out the sword and throw away the scabbard.

C.J. Cregg, played by wonderful flamingo Allison Janney, provides stunningly fresh commentary from two decades ago on what a presidential Press Secretary ought not to be, a lying co-conspirator in a criminal enterprise. C.J. Cregg suffers torment when she inadvertently cites the law wrong on appointees to the Federal Election Commission -- an honest error of not reading the briefing paper -- and she agonizes like a repentant sinner in the hands of an angry God, even going to the president for forgiveness for something so inconsequential. She intends always to be accurate, to be honest, and anyone causing her to utter untruths in the daily briefing is in for hellfire. She has a powerful moral compass and can blast the president himself to stay out of something he has no business sticking his nose into. She's a rock and funny to boot. A sense of humor about herself, and honesty -- a combo missing from our world.