Friday, September 24, 2021

Nothing But Embarrassment in the Arizona Audit, But It Won't Matter


How anti-climactic could you get?

Rep. Keith Kidwell knows there
was pro-Democrat fraud in North
Carolina elections last year. He just
hasn't found it yet.

It's been obvious for months that the Great Arizona Election Audit of Maricopa County did not turn up what its promoters hoped for, which is why Cyber Ninjas kept putting off the issuance of a report. It was just gonna be too embarrassing. So they delayed and delayed and hoped -- what? -- that some evidence of nefarious goings-on in Biden's favor would suddenly drop out of the ceiling tiles, covered head to toe with bamboo fibers?

Already on Twitter, a Trumpist said "Ridiculous! Audit the audit!" A "fringe" GOP Arizona state senator by the name of Wendy Rogers "was one of many audit believers trying to change the conversation: She announced her support for an audit of Maricopa’s neighbor, Pima County" (Matt Shuham). (Point of order: How would anybody pick out one Arizona state senator as "fringe"?) But of course the Trump people will refute the truth by assertion alone. That's the Trump M.O. Assert anything you think of, and the stupid will believe it: "Satanists also wear masks and stand six feet apart. Just sayin'."

Or they'll ignore the truth and continue to peddle the fiction of voter fraud because it pleases the ignorant. Even Texas now is auditing last year's election in four urban counties -- "urban" meaning Black or non-white, of course -- because winning isn't the only goal for authoritarian regimes. Some Republicans in Raleigh want an audit here, because it wasn't enough they won seats in the NC House and Senate and seats on the highest courts and a slew of Council of State offices. They didn't get the Governor. Must have been fraud. 

Rep. Keith Kidwell (R) from Beaufort/Craven has demanded access to the state's voting machines, alleging fraud in NC that attempted to benefit Democrats. "Kidwell ... said in an interview ... that he is confident there was at least some fraud in the 2020 elections. He just wants to find out how much, he said, and who is behind it." That's what they thought about witches in Massachusetts. The lack of evidence proves the conspiracy is working, no?

On Facebook, Kidwell's group has suggested that it may actually be state or local elections officials who are committing fraud: “The House Freedom Caucus is now focused on BOE officials and the specific precincts themselves. We absolutely think tampering happens in North Carolina.”

Where Republicans run things, delusion is king and no honest public servant is safe.

See: it doesn't matter what the facts are.

"Former President Donald Trump falsely claimed during a rally in Georgia on Saturday night that the results of the Arizona election "audit" concluded that President Joe Biden lost in Maricopa County, despite the report clearly stating that Biden won with 1,040,873 votes—99 more votes than shown in the certified ballots." (Newsweek)


The Daily Show Went to Johnston County


Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Greg Abbott and Beto O'Rourke


Every time I read something about Texas in this Trump era, I get a stab in my heart, because I grew up there and still have connections. There's no earthly excuse for my native land to be so cussedly, dangerously backward.

I came across this yesterday

The Lincoln Project, an American political action committee formed in 2019, made up of former and current Republicans, issued a statement questioning why their TV ad [blasting Gov. Greg Abbott for his bad handling of COVID], funded for $25,000, did not run on ESPN during the nationally televised Texas vs. Rice college football game. The group said the ad was pulled 10 minutes before it was expected to run, despite ESPN's legal team clearing it beforehand.

The ad was pulled, citing a "university-made" decision. And a spokesman for Abbott told The Dallas Morning News he had nothing to do with the decision. Still, the Lincoln Project asserts that Abbott, a Texas graduate who appoints members of the school’s board of regents, played a part in the ad not running and said it plans to file a public records request to determine that. [USA Today]

So I found the ad: 

You might be forgiven for thinking that Gov. Abbott might could maybe be beaten in 2022 by a good, well funded Democrat. You would think that already perhaps, before seeing the Lincoln Project silent condemnation of his criminal ineptness. For Abbott's been a visible and willing advocate for backwardness of a shocking stripe, the curtailing of ballot access and the ending of legal abortion. The abrasive impact on independent voters of these policies perhaps accounts for the University of Texas poll that found Abbott moving underwater for the first time this summer, his approval rating sinking to 41% with 50% disapproving.

Could Beto O'Rourke be The One? 'Cause he's running, have no doubt. Hans Nichols at Axios wrote:

O'Rourke's entry would give Democrats a high-profile candidate with a national fundraising network to challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott — and give O’Rourke, a former three-term congressman from El Paso and 2020 presidential candidate and voting rights activist, a path to a political comeback.

"Comeback"? O'Rourke lost the Texas Senate race to Ted Cruz in 2018 (O'Rourke got a respectable 48.3% of the vote),  and then his presidential bid fizzled in 2020. So less than four years later, yes, we're talking "comeback"? Though it's not as though O'Rourke retired to a monastery. He's been active and out there on voting rights especially and he's lent his name and sweat equity to Democratic candidates for the Texas state legislature. Plus he's a proven, exceptional money magnet. Who else would have a better chance, taking it to Greg Abbott? Abbott pushes many buttons on the negative partisanship consol, and money will flow to any star Democrat willing to challenge him. Beto might have the appeal to pull it off. (Hope springs.)

July 17, 2021: 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Despite Cawthorn, Johnston Co School Board Votes To Keep Mask Mandate


The Johnston County School Board last night reaffirmed its mask mandate for all public schools. The vote was 4-3, with Democrats Kay Carroll and Terri Sessoms, joined by Republicans Al Byrd and Lyn Andrews, providing the majority.

Congressman Madison Cawthorn, roving far outside his own district in search for fame and money, led a march of anti-maskers to the Johnston County school board meeting last week to demand an end to the masking policy. The school board postponed a vote until last night because vice-chair Terri Sessoms could not attend last week's meeting.

Three More Dems in the Primary Race Against Madison Cawthorn


Community organizer Chelsea White has announced that she will seek the Democratic nomination for Congress in the 11th CD next spring. According to Ballotpedia, she's the 8th Democratic candidate in the primary. Here are the first 7, with links to WataugaWatch's profile of them:

Jasmine Beach-Ferrara (D)

Jay Carey (D)

Katie Dean (D)

Eric Gash (D)

Bo Hess (D)

Josh Remillard (D)

Brooker Smith (D)

 (For Katie Dean and Brooker Smith, see below.)

Chelsea White is the Western Regional Organizer and Communications Coordinator for Transform NC, a labor and climate statewide coalition. Since August, she has also been involved in the We Are WNC community group dedicated to flood recovery in Cruso and Canton.

She has a Twitter account but not much else yet for campaign infrastructure.

White made her announcement of candidacy on Sunday at a rally against Congressman Cawthorn at the Haywood County courthouse. A group of Haywood County Republicans held a counter-rally at the same location.

Katie Dean trained as an engineer at the University of Georgia and owns an auto-repair business with her husband in Swannanoa. She has a website and a professional looking video introduction:

Brooker Smith is so far a name on a list with no internet presence that I can find.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Bruce O'Connell Might Steal Some of Cawthorn's Support


11th CD candidate Bruce O'Connell

While the other three Republicans running in the 2022 primary for Madison Cawthorn's seat seem moderate by comparison (described here and here), Bruce O'Connell, the well known Pisgah Inn host, comes off as (much) more conservative, not so much for the policy positions (though we do get standard-issue MAGA compost -- protect guns, build the wall, "Critical Race Theory" BAD, etc.). He seems Trumpist-lite more for what he doesn't say about Cawthorn (and he says a lot). 

O'Connell's list of Cawthorn's faults makes no mention of his sanctioning of violence against the US government and his participation in the "Stop the Steal" movement which led to violence, property destruction, and death. Cawthorn was there at the rally on January 6th. He spoke. He ginned them up to accept BLOOD as part of the compact for making American great again. He's implied his belief that force can be legitimate public reaction

But candidate O'Connell makes no mention of any of that -- says not one word about Trump or that whole election mishegoss. O'Connell's only concerned about Cawthorn's lack of maturity, particularly his adolescent behavior: he's mouthy and disrespectful, slacking on his chores, partying instead of working. Teenage stuff. O'Connell makes no acknowledgement that what Cawthorn models is dangerous to our very democracy.

Maybe that blindspot comes from this: O'Connell's main fame came with running the Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway for decades -- running it well -- and then defying the government shutdown in 2013, declaring on social media and in the press that he would not give in to government "tyranny." He kept the Inn open -- the land and building are actually owned by the Federal government -- until Park Service cars blocked the entrance to his parking lot. He had to give in. Which makes him sympathetic to the insurrectionists on January 6th? Or at least willing to give them a pass and forget they ever fulminated into mass violence? 

Here's a small irony: The government shutdown of 2013 was engineered by hard-right conservatives to show their contempt for Obama's government. Bruce O'Connell's defiance was showing contempt for government shutdowns. In 2013 it was all Mark Meadows's big show. He led the Freedom Caucus into bullying other Republicans to get in line. O'Connell has no cause to admire former Congressman Meadows, who was what a conservative was supposed to be in 2013.

For historians, let alone believers in science, O'Connell is just wrong in opposing a vaccine mandate: "I believe the choice not to get vaccinated does NOT infringe on other's rights. I understand many will disagree with my position, and that is what freedom is all about. The freedom to disagree. I do not want to live under a Dictatorship." Small problem with that particular freedom: It's based on a lie. Unvaccinated people do pose a threat to others. That's just a fact. And that's why government has mandated vaccines against any number of childhood diseases going back a century.

Bottomline for me, after spending several hours on his website: I can't help thinking that O'Connell will be an attractive candidate. The popularity and high ratings of the Pisgah Inn suggest he knows how to use his personality to win people over, and his Trumpist boilerplate might be enough to coax former Cawthorn Republicans to come away from the dark. The problem of four total candidates, all with their own winning qualities and commensurate followers -- sorry to say it, means Cawthorn wins the primary with a plurality.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

NC Voter ID Law Struck Down as Unconstitutional


RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina judges struck down the state's latest photo voter identification law on Friday, agreeing with minority voters that Republicans rammed through rules tainted by racial bias as a way to remain in power.

Two of the three trial judges declared the December 2018 law is unconstitutional, even though it was designed to implement a photo voter ID mandate added to the North Carolina Constitution in a referendum just weeks earlier. They said the law intentionally discriminates against Black voters, violating their equal protections.

The law "was motivated at least in part by an unconstitutional intent to target African American voters," Superior Court Judges Michael O'Foghludha and Vince Rozier wrote in their 100-page majority opinion.

"Other, less restrictive voter ID laws would have sufficed to achieve the legitimate nonracial purposes of implementing the constitutional amendment requiring voter ID, deterring fraud, or enhancing voter confidence."

The majority decision, which followed a three-week trial in April, is now likely headed to a state appeals court, which had previously blocked the law's enforcement last year while the case was heard. The law remains unenforceable with this ruling.

With a similar lawsuit in federal court set to go to trial this January and another state court lawsuit now on appeal, it's looking more unlikely that a voter ID mandate for in-person and absentee balloting will happen in the 2022 elections.

The ruling reflects "how the state's Republican-controlled legislature undeniably implemented this legislation to maintain its power by targeting voters of color," said Allison Riggs, the plaintiffs' lead attorney....

GOP legislative leaders have tried for a decade to require photo IDs to cast ballots....

Saturday, September 18, 2021

New Video Attack on Madison Cawthorn


This is the work of the Really American PAC (it spent less than $2 mil in the 2019-2020 campaign season), a Washington, D.C., super PAC that was most active in the dual Georgia Senate races in 2020. Its donors are public.

Friday, September 17, 2021

The Club for Growth Attacks Pat McCrory


The intended beneficiary of this beatdown is supposedly Ted Budd, McCrory's Trump-endorsed rival for the Republican nomination.