Monday, November 29, 2004

The Supremes Decline to Carve This Turkey

The Supreme Court today declined, without comment, to rule on a challenge to the nation's only law sanctioning gay marriages. The year-old decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage stands ... until the voters of Massachusetts decide to amend their own constitution or until the U.S. Congress decides to amend ours or until Jesus comes back and jerks all the born-agains out of the line of fire so that Satan can have his way with what's left.

This Could Get Interesting

Barbara Allen is stepping down after six years as chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party. According to this a.m.'s News & Observer, two candidates to replace her have already announced: Jerry Meek, a Raleigh lawyer and the party's first vice chairman, and David Parker, a Democratic National Committee member and a Statesville attorney. Meek, at least, has been to Watauga County and shows an interest in party life outside Raleigh.

The N&O says Gov. Mike Easley will play a big role and that the ability to raise money might out-weigh every other consideration. In the money race, two other names emerge: Ed Turlington, a Raleigh lawyer, who was general chairman of Edwards' presidential campaign, and Howard Lee, the chairman of the State Board of Education and a former state senator.

Parker has already labeled himself ideologically in an interesting way, by labeling Meek. According to the N&O, while complimenting Meek on the job he has done as the state party's first vice chair, Parker said that Meek "represents the progressive wing of the party. The party needs to adopt an aggressive moderate stance that will elect Democrats in the state of North Carolina."

Let's see ... "progressive" vs. "aggressive moderate." We're not sure but what "aggressive moderate" might mean "obnoxious conservative," but we'll wait to see how this plays out.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Whom Do We Boycott First?

Won't vouch for the accuracy of what follows (but should be easy enough to verify). It comes to us reportedly from the Wes Clark blog (thanks, Alice!):


Price Club/Costco donated $225K, of which 99% went to Democrats;

Wal-Mart, $467K, 97% to Republicans;

K-Mart, $524K, 86% to Republicans;

Home Depot, $298K, 89% to Republicans;

Target, $226K, 70% to Republicans;

Circuit City Stores, $261K, 95% to Republicans;

Rite Aid, $517K, 60% to Democrats;

Magla Products (Stanley tools, Mr. Clean), $22K, 100% to Democrats;

3M Co., $281K, 87% to Republicans;

Hallmark Cards, $319K, 92% to Republicans;

Amway, $391K, 100% Republican;

Kohler Co. (plumbing fixtures), $283K, 100% Republicans;

Warnaco (undergarments), $55K, 73% to Democrats;

B.F. Goodrich (tires), $215K, 97% to Republicans;

Proctor & Gamble, $243K, 79% to Republicans;

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, $153K, 99% to Democrats;

Estee Lauder, $448K, 95% to Democrats;

Guess Inc., $145K, 98% to Democrats;

Calvin Klein, $78K, 100% to Democrats;

Liz Claiborne, Inc., $34K, 97% to Democrats;

Levi Straus, $26K, 97% to Democrats;

Olan Mills, $175K, 99% to Democrats.


Coors, $174K, 92% to Republicans (also Budweiser -- sd);

Gallo Winery, $337K, 95% to Democrats;

Brown-Forman Corp. (Southern Comfort, Jack Daniels, Bushmills, Korbel wines -- as well as Lennox China, Dansk, Gorham Silver), $644, 80% to Republicans;

Southern Wine & Spirits, $213K, 73% to Democrats;

Joseph E. Seagrams & Sons (includes beverage business, plus considerable media interests), $2M+, 67% Democrats.


Pilgrim's Pride Corp. (chicken), $366K, 100% Republican;

Outback Steakhouse, $641K, 95% Republican;

Sonic Corporation, $83K, 98% Democrat;

Tricon Global Restaurants (KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell), $133K, 87% Republican;

Brinker International (Maggiano's, Brinker Cafe, Chili's, On the Border, Macaroni Grill, Crazymel's, Corner Baker, EatZis), $242K, 83% Republican;

Triarc Companies (Arby's, T.J. Cinnamon's, Pasta Connections), $112K, 96% Democrats;

Waffle House, $279K, 100% Republican;

McDonald's Corp., $197K, 86% Republican;

Darden Restaurants (Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Smokey Bones, Bahama Breeze), $121K, 89% Republican;

Hyatt Corporation, $187K, 80% to Democrats;

Mariott International, $323K, 81% to Republicans;

Holiday Inns, $38K, 71% to Republicans.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

More Republican Cognitive Dissonance

Saw the article on Friday in the Raleigh News & Observer headlined "Evangelical victory worries GOP strategist" and was treated to the spectacle of Jesse Helms' former political strategist, the man who helped build the North Carolina Republican Party, bemoaning that "Bush courted the evangelical vote and turned these elections, in fact, into a referendum on the religious and cultural nature of America. This is my problem."

Now it's his problem! We're getting a trifle weary of these Republicans (bless their hearts!) who are now confessing a small case of jitters over what they've helped achieve.

The speaker of those words was one Arthur Finkelstein. Yes, a right-wing Jew who was, according to the News & Observer, "one of former Sen. Jesse Helms' closest political advisers."

To be fair, perhaps he never intended his words to go public in this country, since he gave this interview to Maariv, a daily newspaper in Israel, and his comments had to be translated from the Hebrew, which, incidentally, the New York Post obliged us by doing and from whence the N&O got its story.

More? Finkelstein said, "From now on, anyone who belongs to the Republican Party will automatically find himself in the same group as the opponents of abortion, and anyone who supports abortion will automatically be labeled a Democrat. The political center has disappeared, and the Republican Party has become the party of the Christian right more so than in any other period in modern history. Bush's strategy secures the power of the American Christian right not only for this term. In fact, it secures its ability to choose the next president."

Right-wing Republican operatives crying in their schnapps over victory. That's one thing. Jesse Helms getting his sage political tactics from an American Jew ... that's another thing. But the biggest source of psychic racket in this little piece is the fact that Finkelstein is gay.

The American novelist Philip Roth has very recently dealt with the paradoxes inherent in any underclass of people actively participating in the triumph of the very people who would gas 'em out of existence ... in the novel "The Plot Against America," in which Roth does a "what if" on the notion that if American hero (and quiet anti-Semite) Charles A. Lindberg had run in 1940 against Roosevelt and beaten him, what would that alternative history have been like for American Jews. A major collaborator in the Nazi-fication of American under Lindberg, Roth imagines, is a Jewish Rabbi.

Make what you will of Finkelstein's alarm that the Religious Right has taken over the Republican Party. His homosexuality, along with his Jewishness, in service to Jesse Helms might keep a team of psychoanalysts hopping for weeks.

Pressure Mounts for a Ballot Paper-Trail

Even before the N.C. Commission charged with looking at the state's balloting process has its first meeting in December, there are already strong voices in the group calling for mandatory paper-trails for all computerized devices. 'Course, it doesn't much matter what this commission comes up with if the state legislature doesn't take action ... which after the national embarrassment of what happened in Carteret County we expect it will. And quickly, too, we hope! Here's the article from today's News & Observer.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Many Well-Stuffed Gobblers To You!

Happy Thanksgiving. You can use this space to sketch out your list -- meager as it may be -- of what you're thankful for, and we'll be back in the saddle by Sunday.

Congressional Pork for B'Rock

Going through an account of some of the 14,000 "earmarks" (i.e., "pork") that was added to the Omnibus spending bill, imagine our surprise to discover that li'l ole Blowing Rock Community Arts Center will get $200,000 ... small potatoes, actually, compared to the zillions doled out by Congresscreeps to their districts ... AFTER raising the debt ceiling to accommodate the bloating!

What isn't immediately apparent is whether Richard Burr or Cass Ballenger or some other dead hand of the law put the money into the bill. We'll try to find out.

Breeder Nation

CBS News last night did a segment on the growing movement among "Christian" pharmacists who are refusing to fill birth control pill perscriptions for women, as a matter of "conscience." They feel "emboldened" by the election of The Holiest President in American History. Let the carpet-bombing of women's reproductive rights commence! Actually, it clearly already has. The U.S. Congress, or rather the Republican Overlords of the House of Reps, stuck their abortion gag order into the Omnibus Spending Bill (along with explicit permission for political operatives to go snooping through tax returns, but they've agreed to take that out). Oh, well. Young American women will have to discover for themselves where we're headed with these New American Mullahs steering the ship of state.

In the meantime, Prevention magazine has a pretty exhaustive round-up of the anti-birth control movement among pharmacists. You might want to inform yourself and watch for developments at a pharmacy near you.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

When They Say 'Freedom,' They Mean THEIRS

From the same guys who don't want young women to know about abortion, and in fact from the very same bill that contains the language shutting down information on abortion -- the omnibus spending bill just passed last weekend -- comes news that the House Republican leadership slipped in a provision to allow themselves a quick look at any American's tax returns. It's against the law to reveal or divulge any tax return, but the House Republicans wrote themselves a wee exception that would have rendered them immune from prosecution. The WashPost has a full story this a.m. on the scandal, but it's been percolating for a couple of days in the blogosphere, particularly over at Talking Points Memo.

Just as with the "Tom DeLay Rule," it's very hard now to find any Republican Congressman who admits either knowing about the provision or approving of it ... though they all voted in favor. Josh Marshall has pretty much fingered Rep. Ernest J. Istook Jr. (R-Okla.) as the writer of the provision, and like any struck dog, Istook is yowling in pain. (Actually, it was Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) who said Istook did it.)

They don't want women to know there's such a thing as abortion, but they want to be able to paw through IRS returns with impunity. And you think our fears of a police state are paranoid delusions! They ARE paranoid. But delusional? We think not.

And now, having been outed in the press, they have to come back after Thanksgiving to repeal that provision, which was the Senate's stipulation. Gawd knows what else is hidden in that 1,000+ page wad of wood pulp!

Monday, November 22, 2004

Kinder & Gentler?

Cass Ballenger, like some other out-going office-holders we can think of, can't keep his mouth shut. He told the Raleigh News & Observer: "I hate to say it. There's no excuse to be homeless."

Gosh. We can think of two or three pretty good excuses. But then we're not in the grip of a philosophical outlook which blames the victim, and, we would suppose, by that same logic, finds your ordinary, garden-variety rich man a living testimonial to goodness. If personal badness accounts for poverty and homelessness, then the filthy rich, logically, must be the purest among us.

That is precisely the assumption El Presidente appears to be acting on in his continued agenda of relieving the tax burden on the rich. Such good people shouldn't be called on to give up a dime to the nasty poor, who have no excuse whatsoever for their nastiness.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Watauga GOP Can't Stop Bashing ASU Students

Which County Commissioner was it overheard at the Boone paint store loudly declaiming against ASU students? "They don't own property here. They shouldn't be allowed to vote here!"

Interesting attitude toward democracy, that! We fought some wars, seems like, to remove that particular sign over the voting booth: PROPERTY-OWNERS ONLY.

But if the local Republican Party wants to campaign on that principle, who are we to tell 'em nay? "No one should vote who doesn't own [real] property." Okay. Let's take them at their word. That would mean:

Renters (period) won't be allowed to vote. That would include the odd Watauga County school teacher who's moved here straight out of college to teach the children of the property-owners. But a servant's a servant, right? and he/she clearly doesn't need to be messin' in local politics.

The class of "renters" actually would cover a right many folks, and not just students. Some of them professionals, like young technicians at the Watauga Medical Center. But they're clearly here to serve their betters, and need not be messin' in Watauga County politics.

Hold the phone! What about the 18-, 19-, 20-year-old children of property-owners, the ones who don't themselves yet own a homestead? Do we rule them out of the right to vote too? Well, no, dunce! We can let them vote, since they'll likely vote the way their property-owning parents tell 'em to vote, and that's all this is about, really ... disenfranchising people who don't think exactly like the property-owners do!

We're warming up to this task! Some pastors of churches must be denied the vote, since their churches often furnish their domiciles. So men of the cloth who don't own property won't be allowed to vote.

We're gonna need a bigger tablet to keep track of everyone this rule is gonna block!

And we can tell ... this is going to be a REAL POPULAR solution to Watauga County's multiple problems, when the Republican Party decides to go fully public ... like, say, Allen Trivette did in his letter to the editor alleging a plot among ASU professors to lead ASU students by the nostril hairs to the polling place to vote against HIM! (How those plotting professors found time in their busy Satan-serving schedules to lead those students by the nose ... we don't actually know. Just that they DID it!)

Let us know, Watauga GOP, when you're ready to take this campaign public, and we'll be happy to help out! We've already got a list started.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Put Up Or Shut Up

John Kerry yesterday sent out an e-mail to about 3 million people with a call to arms against El Presidente's administration, which is preparing a "right-wing assault on values and ideals." Kerry called on Democrats to fight back against what he labeled Bush's extreme agenda.

Well, duh.

He might start by standing shoulder to shoulder with Barbara Boxer over the issue described below in the previous post.

The War Against Women

At around 5 a.m. this morning, the final version of an omnibus spending bill to keep the government operating was posted on the House web site. It contains an anti-abortion provision that has far-reaching implications. There's already an exception written into federal health-care law that allows Catholic doctors and hospitals to refuse to give information or counseling on abortion to women patients. But the new provision stuck onto the omnibus spending bill would extend that right of refusal to all health care providers, including hospitals, doctors, clinics and insurers. (NYTimes coverage here.)

It's part of an overall campaign to shut down avenues to information, as a necessary step to shutting down the procedure itself. Done according to that old saying, "An ignorant woman is a joy forever!"

Republican Senator Olympia J. Snowe of Maine said yesterday that the proposed law is "a bad provision" that would "adversely affect reproductive health access for women across the country." She added, "It is an ill-advised policy that is clearly harmful to women."

But it's Senator Barbara Boxer who has vowed to use the ineffable rules of the Senate to block passage of this little jewel. Please write Senator Boxer and encourage her in her obstructionism. (You'll have to register on her site to send an e-mail.) Thank God she's got the balls to stand up!

Friday, November 19, 2004

JOSH MARSHALL OVER AT TALKING POINTS MEMO is all over the House Republican Caucus for voting to exempt their Majority Leader from the rule of law. Marshall suggested yesterday that readers call Republican House members and politely ask how that member voted on exempting DeLay from the rule that would force him to step down from the leadership position if indicted on criminal activity. HILARIOUS, the results of those calls!

Marshall has dubbed the "handful" who voted "nay" in the voice vote "the Christopher Shays Handful," after the Connecticut Rep. who went public immediately and said he took a stand against DeLay's minions.

Amazing how the "Chris Shays Handful" has grown! Also amazing, the number of upstanding Christian Republicans who refuse to tell their constituents how they voted and the number who lie: "There was no vote" or "I was out of the room when the vote was taken" or "I temporarily lost consciousness and don't know how I voted."

We ourselves called Richard Burr's office yesterday and inquired how the Congressman had voted. We were told that since the Congressman is leaving the House for the Senate he did not bother to attend the House Caucus. We wonder 'bout that. Anyone out there have an evidence to the contrary?

Specter Wimps Out

Arlen Specter was forced to issue a four-paragraph "clarification" of his position (a document which was, in fact, a profound deep-sixing of his supposedly "moderate" principles) ... in order to get the backing of his fellow Republicans to become chair of the Senate's Judiciary Committee. (Story in this a.m.'s NYTimes.)

"It's a done deal," said that Grandee of the Right Wing, Orrin Hatch of Utah.

Aside from putting what's left of his testes in a blind trust, Specter significantly offered to side with those Republicans who plan to change the Senate rules to remove the last smidgen of influence left the 45 Democrats ... the filibuster. Specter said he thought there was "sufficient precedent" to change the rules to allow an override of a filibuster with 51 votes.

To complete the truly appalling spectacle of his own collapse as a moral agent, Specter lied. When asked by a reporter if he had been pressured into releasing the statement, he said, "I have not been pressured at all." The whinneying laugh of James Dobson could be heard all the way from Colorado.

Intercepted Newspaper Ad

Travel, wardrobe, meals and lodging included. Extensive medical and educational benefits. Call or drop by any branch office of the United States Armed Forces and volunteer for combat. You'll be fine. Christ will be with you. No sweat. Don't worry. (Matt. 8:26) Monday-Friday 9 am until 4 pm. Call 800-942-2677. Must be 18. No handicapped.

(Thanks to B.P.)

Thursday, November 18, 2004


"Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice; who makes his neighbor serve him for nothing, and does not give him his wages; who says, 'I will build myself a great house with spacious upper rooms,' and cuts out windows for it, paneling it with cedar and painting it with vermilion. Do you think you are a king because you compete in cedar?" Jeremiah 22:13-15

Tom DeLay thinks he's king. And he is ... King of the Pharisees, a.k.a., the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Yesterday, DeLay engineered a voice vote behind closed doors (we think those doors were padlocked as well) in the Republican House caucus to exempt himself from an 11-year-old rule that says "Thou shalt not get indicted for crimes and continue to lord it over your un-indicted fellow Republicans."

Ronnie Earle, the district attorney in Travis County, Tex., which includes Austin, won indictments earlier this year against three political associates of Mr. DeLay. Despite the indictments of his associates, Mr. DeLay has not been called to testify, and Mr. Earle has not said whether the congressman is a target. But guilt will out, and Mr. DeLay is acting like a guilty man in clear anticipation of being indicted. His main line of defense: Mr. Earle is a ... a ... Democrat, natch! A godless, communist, probably homosexual DEMOCRAT. 'Nuff said.

But just to be on the safe side, we'll also change these House rules, 'cause me and my best buds know what's right. Not that we're above the criminal law, mind you, but just temporarily beyond its reach as practiced by a DEMOCRAT.

By "voice vote," DeLay and his cronies accomplished this. You know what THAT means, O my brethren? That means railroad. That means put the hammer down. It's hard to get any accuracy from "behind closed doors," what exactly that voice vote might have sounded like when they called for the "nays," but according to Representative Henry Bonilla of Texas, who sponsored the rule change on DeLay's behalf, "only a handful of members had opposed it." (Account taken from the NYTimes.) Weak little minor chorus of nays?

One whose NO rang loudly was Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut, who was quoted in the Times: "This is a mistake." When the Republicans gained control of the House in the elections of 1994, Shays added, "we were going to be different."

Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a group that follows campaign finance issues, said: "With this decision, we have gone from DeLay being judged by his peers to DeLay being judged by his buddies. It's an absurd and ludicrous new rule and an affront to the American people."

But will the People notice this House built of unrighteousness? They notice so little these days.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

"THEIR ARROGANCE IS ASTONISHING," said Nancy Pelosi, but it isn't really astonishing at all. It's common, garden-variety, plain ole every-day arrogance, as practiced by God's Own Party:

House Republicans are moving to amend their rules to allow their Majority Leader Tom DeLay to remain in his office even after, and if, he's indicted in Texas for illegally using corporate campaign contributions to help Republicans win state legislative seats (three of his closest aids have already been indicted for those crimes and everyone apparently expects the other shoe to fall very soon).

But they're Righteous. They can do whatever they please.

Riding Bareback to Victory

Blogactive says that George W. Bush's pick to be head of the Republican National Committee, Ken Mehlman, who was also El Presidente's campaign manager during the late unpleasantness, is rumored to be G.A.Y. But keep reading the link above for the outing of Dan Gurley, RNC National Field Director and Deputy Political Director, who apparently likes it bareback with multiple partners. Check out the "screen capture" of his profile on Under the category "Politics," Gurley self-identified himself as "Leaning right." Cute. (No smart remarks now, though several occur to us.)

The most pertinent thing to know about Gurley, not seen on the link above, is his past work as the spearpoint (ahem) of North Carolina Republican politics. He was director of the state Republican Party in 2000 and then served as Chief of Staff for our own ex-Congressman Cass Ballenger. Gurley caught the flak when Ballenger confessed to the Charlotte Observer that he got to feeling a little bit "segregationist" when he had to deal with African-American Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney of Georgia. Gurley explained to the AP at the time, "There's no question in my mind that the comment there is not a reflection of his general view, it's only a reaction to the pushiness of somebody like McKinney."

We expect that approximately now Gurley is telling some Republican right-wing hack in D.C. that advertizing for unprotected sex in gay chatrooms "is not a reflection of my general view but only my reaction to the pushiness of several somebodies who always want me to lean to the right."

Which do we focus on first? That God's Own Party on Earth has Satan-lovin' gays working to promote family values? Or that a deeply closeted man like Dan Gurley would loan his balls to the gay-haters?

It's too early in the morning for this kind of cognitive dissonance!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Go Ahead: Tell Us Again There Won't Be a Draft

Something very disturbing is going on that fits perfectly the term "back-door draft," which we take to be one more step toward an actual front-door call-up:

In the recent past, when soldiers have enlisted, they've typically agreed to an eight-year commitment. But they've also typically been allowed to end their active duty obligations earlier by signing on with the Reserves or the National Guard. We all know how El Presidente and his Pentagon has relied heavily on those pools of soldiers to pursue his policy of preemption.

But there's another group we haven't heard so much about ... the "Individual Ready Reserve," "a pool of former soldiers seldom ordered back to work. Ordinarily, these former soldiers do not get military pay, nor do they train. They receive points toward a military retirement and an address form to update once a year."

In the past year, the Army has called back to active duty over 4,000 members of this Individual Ready Reserve, and there's another 110,000 of these poor schlimazels just waiting for the axe to fall.

Rick Howell from Tuscaloosa, Ala., is pretty typical of these ex-soldiers: "I consider myself a civilian," said Howell, who said he thought he had left the Army behind in 1997 after more than a decade flying helicopters. "I've done my time. I've got a brand new baby and a wife, and I haven't touched the controls of an aircraft in seven years. I'm 47 years old. How could they be calling me? How could they even want me?"

Come on, Rick, surely you know the answer to that question. El Presidente needs cannon fodder. He's promised he won't draft anybody. Technically, he isn't actually drafting you ... just following the small print in the agreement you signed when you got out.

But the Army is encountering uncomfortable resistance from guys exactly like Rick. According to this a.m.'s NYTimes, some 2,000 Individual Ready Reservists are saying in effect, "Hell no! We won't go!" Some are suing and winning. So far the Army has been unwilling apparently to aggressively oppose these law suits, since it's tiptoeing around bad publicity. Even worse, "of about 2,500 who were due to arrive on military bases for refresher training by Nov. 7th, some 733 had not shown up." That's another way to deal with a backdoor draft: Ignore it. "Come and get me, sucka!"

With the Army often caving when challenged on its right to call up these old guys, additional pressure will mount to call up more of those 110,000 other Individual Ready Reserves who haven't been called yet. And when the public actually becomes aware of what's going on, the resistance will mount, and well it should! The Times speculates that no one really knows how many recalled Individual Ready Reservists actually have already gone to Iraq, meekly accepting what they might well have challenged and got out of.

But everyone knows you can't continue to fight a ground war with aging reservists. It takes young guys to kick in doors day after day.

Frankly, we don't exactly understand why the Christian Right isn't volunteering its strong and clean-living young sons to get themselves on over there and win this holy battle against the evil-doers. We had thought that their "mandate" given to El Presidente on November 2nd might apply here to their personal service in the interests of spreading Christian "freedom" throughout the Moslem world.

N.C. Commission to Study Balloting Problems

Under the Help Americans Vote Act (HAVA), North Carolina was required to set up a standing study commission to examine the reliability of voting machines, but it took the loss of 4,500 ballots in Carteret County to wake the state legislature up and actually kick start that commission into action by appointing legislative members to it. That was done last week, and the commission should begin meeting immediately to examine the disconcerting hodgepodge of voting systems and devices in use across N.C.'s 100 counties, along with the various computer glitches like the Carteret County screwup.

The Carteret County machine, made by UniLect of California, reached its capacity with about 3,000 votes, but county elections officials said they had been assured its capacity was 10,000. "You have to wonder what kind of bonehead would design a computer system that would hit capacity, then continue to take votes and just throw them away," Stanford University computer science professor David Dill said. (Thanks to Alice for sending the N&O story.)

Currently, there's a state-wide recount under way that must be finished by tomorrow ... called for by the Republican candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction and by the Democratic Agriculture Secretary Britt Cobb. Both were losing by slim margins in the first returns two weeks ago.

And no decision has been reached about what to do about those lost ballots in Carteret.

UPDATE: "State Sen. Ellie Kinnaird of Carrboro and state Rep. Verla Insko of Chapel Hill want a law they say could prevent another machine problem like Carteret's. They propose that a legislative study commission look at requiring voting machines to produce a paper record, something like a receipt, for voters after they cast their ballots." Amen to that! (Additional N&O coverage here.)

Monday, November 15, 2004

N.C. Balloting Problems Compiled

Thanks to JayDubb for sending this very important site, which has compiled all the known balloting problems and irregularities from all the states of the union. If you click on the link above, you'll be taken directly to the list of North Carolina glitches, with convenient links to all the press accounts about those glitches, among other information. This becomes extremely important in what must become our grassroots movement to petition our local Board of Election & County Commissioners to change course away from voting devices that offer no verifiable paper trail.

Monday A.M. Potpourri

We fervently believe that the American people, having (supposedly) chosen a right-wing ideology to occupy all (or most of) the seats of national and local power ... well, the people should GET what they ask for. So we totally support Mullah James Dobson's call for the ouster of Senator Arlen Specter from the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The people should GET the full measure of what El Presidente's backers want us to have.

We missed the Sunday morning gasbags yesterday, since we were on the road from secret meetings of our cabal, but evidently Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist pointedly refused to endorse Specter. He said he was deeply disturbed by remarks Specter made on election night, which would seem to indicate that Frist, like most of the avatars of the Right, is deeply disturbed by common reality: "Mr. Specter said just after he won re-election that Supreme Court nominees who wanted to undo abortion rights would face tough confirmation fights in the Senate." That's just the simple truth of the matter, IF (big, big IF) the 45 remaining Democrats don't get the vapors and faint onto the nearest couch.

Specter hasn't stood up for abortion rights through the first Shrub term. Why would he now? Mullah Dobson wants him OUT merely because Specter has said in the past that he is "pro-choice," not that Specter ever acts on that belief. To the new power brokers, labels are as good as deeds for condemning someone to hell.

Minutes ago, Colin Powell announced that he was OUT as Secretary of State. There was a time we would have regretted his going, since he seemed to be the only sane one up there, but he chose to run with the neo-cons, and he ran right over the cliff chasing their lies. Fare-thee-well, Colin. We won't miss you. But you're SO going to get a fat book deal out of your four excruciating years of holding the coats of warmongers.

And then we see this a.m., on a Watauga County roadway, a political sign, "Ray Halle for Sheriff." That would be Republican Ray Halle, who ran in the primary two years ago against Mark Shook. Should we take this as a sign that the local Republican mullahs have decided to purge the Sheriff because he supported the new Democratic County Commissioners? We of course want to encourage good Republicans in this internecine warfare. When the people don't voluntarily opt for their medicine, then they need to be FORCED. Clearly.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Disarry at Spook Palace

George Tenet got ousted from the C.I.A. because El Presidente needed a scapegoat for the Iraq War debacle. The new C.I.A. director, former Representative Porter Goss, has been in office seven weeks now, and things don't appear to be going all that well.

The NYTimes this morning headlined a story about a virtual rebellion in the ranks of veteran spies against the new director and the political appointees Goss has installed to run daily operations: "many career C.I.A. officers do not know whether to regard Mr. Goss as someone dispatched by the White House to punish the agency for past failures, or to rebuild its capabilities to make it stronger."

"Among those at the center of the storm ... are Steven R. Kappes, who as deputy director of operations is the most senior official still in place from the team at the agency before George J. Tenet resigned as director, and Patrick Murray, a former House Republican aide who is Mr. Goss's new chief of staff."

Translation: you got a political operative, weened on Republican Congressional ideologies and tactics, trying to order around a bunch of professionals with a low threshold for fools.

There are those who believe that "Goss really needs to go in there and clean house," but house-cleaning can also become house-wrecking almost instantly. Goss's critics "said that his failure to forge alliances among career officials and to enlist them in setting a new direction for the agency had been highly detrimental. 'You can make changes and cast them in the right way, and people will salute and go along with you,' one former C.I.A. official said. 'It doesn't look like that is happening.' "

Bottomline: look for more damaging leaks about El Presidente's masterplan to make war on Iraq well before there was any believeable rationale to make war on Iraq.

UPDATE. THE WASHINGTON POST has an even more interesting article also out today saying that Goss is "isolating" himself in the agency and that his inexperienced new aides are deeply resented: "Agency officials have criticized as inexperienced the four former Hill staff members Goss brought with him. Goss's first choice for executive director -- the agency's third-ranking official -- withdrew his name after The Washington Post reported that he left the agency 20 years ago after having been arrested for shoplifting."

Friday, November 12, 2004

Frist Declares, "Filibusters Verboten!"

The only tool that Democratic senators have left is the filibuster. But the Republican majority leader in the Senate, Bill Frist, is fed up in advance and darkly warned Democrats yesterday not to stand in the way of God's power on earth:

Frist said "that the newly strengthened Republican majority would not allow filibusters to block action on judicial nominees in President Bush's second term. 'One way or another, the filibuster of judicial nominees must end,' Dr. Frist, Republican of Tennessee, said in a speech to the Federalist Society, a conservative lawyers' group. 'The Senate must do what is good, what is right, what is reasonable and what is honorable.' "

"One way or another..." What might that mean, Senator? A few Bradley Fighting Vehicles blocking some intersections in D.C.? "The Senate must do what is good..." Oh we KNOW what that means, Billy Boy. Doing what's good is doing the will of the Republican majority, since God never would have put you guys in charge of all life on this planet if He didn't intend "your will be done."

"With the possibility of multiple vacancies on the Supreme Court in coming months, the comments suggest that Republicans intend to take a harder line with Democrats...."

We hold The Cross up against this tide:

"He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others. 'Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, "God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get." But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, "God, be merciful to me a sinner!" I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.' " Luke 18:9-14.

First the USA; Then Women's Bodies

If you don't think an early chill is descending over the land of the free, consider the unilateral action of Chapel Hill's PBS station WUNC. The station manager has decided that the phrase "reproductive rights" must be banned from their air-space as potentially reflecting a political position on abortion.

Ipas, an international women's rights and health organization, was told to replace "reproductive rights" with "reproductive health" in their on-air messages.

According to WRAL, "WUNC's general manager said the station made the change to avoid trouble with the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC prohibits public radio stations from airing underwriting announcements that advocate political, social or religious causes."

Gosh, it's like someone actually thinks that El Presidente's FCC might use its power to squelch opinions that its masters in Focus on the Family don't like.

" 'Reproductive rights' is not a euphemism for abortion," a spokeswoman for Ipas said. "Among other things, it means the right to infertility treatments, the right to contraception, the right to information, the right to live free of rape and violence. In global forums, those meanings are universally understood. And 'reproductive health' doesn't convey all of that. It's important to say that our work is about rights as well as health."

We read about WUNC's craven fear on the same morning that additional word arrives of El Presidente's war on women. From Karen Tumulty in Time magazine:

"A quiet battle is raging over the Bush Administration's plan to appoint a scantily credentialed doctor, whose writings include a book titled As Jesus Cared for Women: Restoring Women Then and Now, to head an influential Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel on women's health policy. Sources tell Time that the agency's choice for the advisory panel is Dr. W. David Hager, an obstetrician-gynecologist who also wrote, with his wife Linda, Stress and the Woman's Body, which puts 'an emphasis on the restorative power of Jesus Christ in one's life" and recommends specific Scripture readings and prayers for such ailments as headaches and premenstrual syndrome. Though his resume describes Hager as a University of Kentucky professor, a university official says Hager's appointment is part time and voluntary and involves working with interns at Lexington's Central Baptist Hospital, not the university itself. In his private practice, two sources familiar with it say, Hager refuses to prescribe contraceptives to unmarried women. Hager did not return several calls for comment."

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Foxx-Hunt: "Stand & Deliver" Edition

At a post-election celebratory gathering in Raleigh of NCFREE, the pro-business lobbying group, Fifth District Congresswoman-elect Virginia Foxx told a funny:

"Foxx said she asked her political consultant, Jack Hawke, what she should tell the business leaders. His suggestion, Foxx said: 'For all of you who didn't contribute because you didn't think I could win -- it's not too late." (N&O coverage here)

Tee-hee. (Methinks she ain't kiddin'.)

A Remarkably Fine Mess

The irretrievable loss of some 4,438 votes, swallowed whole by a diabolical "touch-screen" ballot device in North Carolina's Carteret County, is very much a factor in what happens next in a couple of Council of State races that are still undecided.

In the final statewide county election canvass reports (including the provisional ballots ruled acceptable), Democrat June S. Atkinson is leading Republican Bill Fletcher for the Superintendent of Public Instruction by 7,979 votes.

Democratic incumbent Agriculture Secretary Britt Cobb is trailing Republican challenger Steve Troxler by 3,870 votes.

Both Republican Fletcher and Democrat Cobb are already calling for recounts, which they are entitled to under N.C. law. The recount will have to be completed by Wednesday, Nov. 17.

If the recounted tallies in either race give the victor a winning margin of under 4,438 votes, N.C. law would also allow the State Board of Elections to order a new election ... because of those lost Carteret ballots.

State Election Director Gary Bartlett said that state law allows for a new election "in certain circumstances" and that "it was unclear" whether a new vote would occur statewide or only in counties with irregularities. That's vagueness piled on vagueness. Since "early voting" across North Carolina tended to favor Democratic candidates by a wide margin, and since the ballots lost in Carteret were "early voting" ballots, Britt Cobb'd have to be half-cracked not to insist on a do-over election in Carteret.

But more to the point, and despite who ultimately wins, Republicans and Democrats both should be raising their collective voices to protest the use of voting machinery which produces no record, no permanent verifiable paper trail, and which is subject to the machinations of unseen and unknown hands.

Hypocrites and Pharisees

Jesus had plenty to say about rich men, whom he usually grouped with his two favorite targets ... Pharisees (who were also usually rich, as the power elite of their day) and hypocrites. In fact, to Jesus "Pharisee" was almost always uttered in close proximity to "hypocrite" (check out the 23rd chapter of Matthew, for a running sermon where Jesus repeatedly conflated the two as one).

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and rapacity." (Matt. 23:25)

Speaking of rapacity, just consider the example of one rich man/Pharisee/hypocrite, Rupert Murdoch, owner of the Fox network among other assets, whose Fox News has become the prime organ for keeping all the "values voters" in line. Murdoch's modus on Fox News is the incessant pushing of red state "moral values" on a gullible public while cashing in on the hated moral terpitude being attributed to Democrats.

"The Murdoch cultural stable includes recent books like Jenna Jameson's 'How to Make Love Like a Porn Star' and the Vivid Girls' 'How to Have a XXX Sex Life,' which have both been synergistically, even joyously, promoted on Fox News by willing hosts like Rita Cosby and, needless to say, Mr. [Bill] O'Reilly...." Another Fox TV product, "Married by America," was recently fined by the F.C.C. ($1.2 million!) for indency: " episode in this heterosexual marriage-promoting reality show included scenes in which 'partygoers lick whipped cream from strippers' bodies,' and two female strippers 'playfully spank' a man on all fours in his underwear. 'Married by America' is gone now, but Fox remains the go-to network for Paris Hilton ('The Simple Life') and wife-swapping ('Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy')."

If the great Fox cheerleader for our uber-moral El Presidente can so blatantly violate decency in this way, not to mention community standards, with not a peep of dissent from the big fat Christian poohbahs of the Republican Party, do not Jesus's words on "hypocrites" apply here?

Thomas Frank, the author of "What's the Matter With Kansas?," writes, "Values always take a backseat to the needs of money once the elections are won."

Ah, money, the great god of Pharisees! "Under this perennial 'trick,' as [Frank] calls it, Republican politicians promise to stop abortion and force the culture industry 'to clean up its act' -- until the votes are counted. Then they return to their higher priorities, like cutting capital gains and estate taxes. Mr. Murdoch and his fellow cultural barons -- from Sumner Redstone, the Bush-endorsing C.E.O. of Viacom, to Richard Parsons, the Republican C.E.O. of Time Warner, to Jeffrey Immelt, the Bush-contributing C.E.O. of G.E. (NBC Universal) -- are about to be rewarded not just with more tax breaks but also with deregulatory goodies increasing their power to market salacious entertainment. It's they, not Susan Sarandon and Bruce Springsteen, who actually set the cultural agenda Gary Bauer and company say they despise."

The quotes above come from Frank Rich's column in today's NYTimes, and there's a good deal more in that column about hypocrisy that will be food for thought. Rich's main point is that the election just past was no more a triumph of "moral values" over a lack of values than a banker's religion is about faith in God.

"The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they scoffed at him [Jesus]. But he said to them, 'You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts; for what is exalted among men in an abomination in the sight of God.' " (Luke 16:14-15)

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Who's Afraid of Virginia Foxx?

MARTHA (braying): I DON'T BRAY!
--Edward Albee, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Act 1

Ten years ago in 1994, when Virginia Foxx first ran for the North Carolina Senate, she came to a group I was working for to get our endorsement. The group had been started in Watauga County with the express purpose of raising money to help get women elected to local office -- expressly, pro-choice women. Virginia Foxx applied for support to our Endorsement Committee as a pro-choice woman, and we ended up giving her a little.

Our endorsement meeting with Virginia was memorable because ... Virginia wept. Shed tears in front of us. Just started crying. Said it was terrible how "the men" were treating her in her campaign. It was, as it turned out, my first and last lesson in how Virginia Foxx had learned to manipulate people by playing the poor put-upon victim of other people's prejudices.

That endorsement interview split our group pretty severely. Truth to tell, I was influenced by those tears, which of course is the whole purpose of tears on a face like Virginia's. Some of the women, wiser than I in the ways of manipulative people, were angry. In the end, we became victims of our own charter, since we had formed explicitly as a non-partisan political action committee intent on supporting pro-choice women of either party. So after much debate (one woman said, bitterly, "I feel like I've been screwed and not even kissed," though she didn't in point of fact say "screwed" but another word a good deal blunter), we ended up endorsing Virginia Foxx in her first campaign for the North Carolina Senate.

That endorsement cost us a lot more than $500. Several supporters quit their membership over it, and others expressed their outrage. Some had a past history with Virginia Foxx. They knew that whatever Virginia had told us, she was operating out of naked opportunism and damned expedience, and not out of high-minded principle.

In earlier years, Virginia Foxx's reputation in Watauga County had been born in what were considered "liberal" causes. She was an outspoken advocate for the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s. She was an outspoken advocate for the reform of a backward and hide-bound county government and worked for zoning ordinances in the first tentative steps Watauga County ever took toward land-use planning and the regulation of subdivisions and mobile-home parks.

She was known as a tigress for her beliefs. As one of her associates in those early days of liberal activism told me, she seems to have felt that any opposition to her opinions was an affront to her, personally. She could turn on people with a savage fury that suggested an unresolved inferiority complex and a twisted personal history. She took no prisoners.

Those who followed this year's poisonous primary campaign between Virginia and Vernon Robinson will know that Vernon accused her of being a closet femi'Nazi and even used against her the very endorsement by "a radical feminist organization" that I had been involved with in 1994. Vernon's case against Virginia was that she was essentially a Foxx-in-sheep's-clothing, that once elected to the U.S. Congress, she would show her true liberal colors.

But the truth now appears much, much sadder than Robinson's burn-the-witch fantasy, for the once pro-choice Virginia Foxx has become a clone of the religious right, who had rather send a woman to an early grave than countenance any abortion for any one under any circumstances. This is her position now. God dictates her marching orders, and God evidently never had any use for female equality. The cognitive dissonance she must experience, saying the things the says!

Her stated positions currently include favoring a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, where once she advocated for the legal adoption of children by gay couples.

It's frankly sickening to see her maneuver through this past decade, selling out what might have actually been principled beliefs for the sake of rising in the North Carolina Republican Party. She's made her bed, and now she must lie down with the most anti-woman forces this side of the Taliban. So that, even if there remains in her some shriveled vestige of a pro-choice attitude, she cannot now ever give voice to it.

Which makes her even more like the Martha of Edward Albee's play, the woman self-aware of her own fatal compromises:

NICK: To you, everybody's a flop. Your husband's a flop, I'm a flop.

MARTHA: You're all flops. I am the Earth Mother, and you are all flops. [To herself] I disgust me.

Things to Warm & Chill the Heart Simultaneously

So having conceded the election too quickly, with all kinds of ballot irregularities still coming to light in Ohio and Florida, John Kerry breaks it in the WashPost this a.m. that he might just run for president again. Is it not enough, John, that you embraced defeat as though it were a life-raft? You intend to punish us all over again with another go-nowhere campaign? Puh-lese!

But he's got this huge fund-raising list, you say. "One well-known Democratic operative who worked with the Kerry campaign said opposition to Bush, not excitement about Kerry, was behind the senator's fundraising success. 'If he thinks he's going to capitalize on that going forward, he's in for a surprise,' said the operative, who spoke on the condition of anonymity."

Get back in the Senate and act like a Democrat, John, and THEN we'll talk.

Meanwhile, Howard Dean, whose Democratic instincts and willingness to fight for them are not in doubt, is floating the notion that he might be interested in taking over the McAuliffe job at the Democratic National Committee, a move that would fire up the base out here. The chairman is elected by roughly 240 members of the national committee, and we're sure there's hardly ever any politics involved in who gets the job. The Clintons chose McAuliffe. Maybe Democrats could choose Dean. Let 'im clean house, we say.
THE RACE FOR N.C. SUPREME COURT (the Bob Orr seat, for which there were eight candidates on the ballot) was won by Paul Newby, the only candidate endorsed by the state Republican Party and heavily promoted as one of their kind. You may recall that Newby's yard signs prominently featured the word "Conservative."

The close identification of Newby with the Republican Party, in what was supposed to be a non-partisan race, brought a complaint to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which in turn opened an investigation into whether Newby might be violating the Hatch Act.

Time out: The Hatch Act covers federal employees. Paul Newby is a federal employee, specifically a federal prosecutor in Raleigh. The Hatch Act forbids a federal employee from running in a partisan election, though non-partisan contests are okay. The question behind the Special Counsel's investigation was whether Newby was violating the Hatch Act by being endorsed heavily by the state's Republican Party and then campaigning on that endorsement.

Rachel Lea Hunter, fellow Republican candidate in the same race against Newby and a loose cannon if there ever was one, publicized the fact that Newby was under investigation. And now she's kicking up more fuss because Newby refuses to reveal what has happened with the federal investigation of his activities. Newby said, "I'm just not going to comment. I don't see that there's a reason to."


"If you can break the Hatch Act and reap the rewards, what a worthless law that is!" said Christina Jeffrey, a visiting professor of political science and public administration at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, S.C. She is a friend of Hunter's who once ran a Georgia organization called Operation Integrity, which investigated public officials. "If we were serious," Jeffrey said, "the punishment would be loss of the ill-gotten gains -- to wit, the job one obtained by cheating." (Raleigh N&O coverage this morning here.)

Monday, November 08, 2004

Taking It to the Streets

Some of us were half-joking before the election that if Kerry lost, there would be people "in the streets." It hardly took 24 hours for that to come true after the results were fully known last Wednesday morning. Thursday at noon a group of ASU students marched through downtown Boone and onto the ASU campus, where there was a bit of an ugly confrontation with students supporting El Presidente. That small eruption of civil unrest may well have been the last dying gasp of a losing campaign ... OR it may have been the first indication of a new dawn of militant opposition to The Littlest Angel and his policies. I tend to believe the latter.

For, witness this bit of street action from Seattle: about 500 protestors marched through downtown Seattle on Saturday, "venting" about Bush and the war and the President's evident need to pay off the Religious Right by tossing them a few homosexuals to bully-rag.

Let El Presidente get a couple of Supreme Court justices under his belt and start seriously threatening the right to abortion and see what happens. Forty-eight percent of the country is prime to explode.

The Environment Will Be Treated Like ... Democrats

With the environment non-existent as an issue in the election just past, El Presidente and his foot soldiers of the Right, unfettered by any need to appear "moderate," are poised to launch an unprecedented attack on environmental protections. Here's the lead paragraph in this a.m.'s NYTimes. Read the whole article if you can stomach it:

"With the elections over, Congress and the Bush administration are moving ahead with ambitious environmental agendas that include revamping signature laws on air pollution and endangered species and reviving a moribund energy bill that would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to energy exploration."

Screw the environment! The Bushies have a "mandate"!

No Electronic Voting Machines!

Forget for the moment conspiratorial propositions that the election was stolen by "black box" jobs performed on electronic voting apparatuses by minions of Karl Rove. Consider, rather, verifiable and HUGE problems with touch-screen ballot machines right here in North Carolina.

The New Bern Sun Journal reported last Friday that a "glitch" in systems software in Craven County "swelled the number of votes for president here by 11,283 more votes than the total number cast." Fixing the problem (supposedly) changed the outcome in one local race, reversing the loss of an incumbent Democratic county commissioner to a win.

The Sun Journal in that same article also reported that in nearby Carteret County, 4,530 early votes were "irretrievably lost." Say what? Irretrievably lost. And it was in early voting that Democrats did especially well state-wide, so we can only suppose that 4,530 irretrievably lost votes might have heavily favored Democrats.

When 4,530 votes can simply evaporate into the ether, and there's no existing paper trail to perform a recount on ... is this what we're willing to give our ballot access rights over to? Not this voter, not ever. We've got to fight the creeping technological voodoo of electronic balloting. When every PC in practically every home in America has multiple viruses holding a hootenanny with our personal data, why on earth would we turn over something as precious and as fragile as our right to vote to unseen forces in unknown software?

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Roe v. Wade, About to Go Out the Door?

A huge furor has erupted among Republicans because the likely new Republican Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, one of the few pro-choice Republicans in the known universe, warned right after the election that El Presidente had best not nominate an anti-choice judges to the Supreme Court. The wingnuts have been calling for his head ever since, or the very least, demanding he be denied the chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee which will hold hearings and vote on any of Bush's court nominees.

The iVoteValues crowd intends nothing short of the outlawing of all abortion. Sen. Specter is now seen to stand in their way. For that, Sen. Specter may be toast as chair of that Senate committee.

Young women in particular might want to pay attention. The agenda of the "values" voters is not just a war on sex but a war on female equality, which ain't, you know, in the Bible.

Watauga County Notes II

As we well know, Democrat wins in Watauga County came on the strength of "early voting." Some 10,500 registered voters turned out prior to election day, and in those early-vote tallies our County Commissioner candidates out-polled most other Democrat candidates, including John Kerry, and wa-a-ay out-polled their Republican opponents. In early voting, Jim Deal out-polled every other Democrat on the ballot, including Elaine Marshall (who herself out-polled everyone of both parties in early voting and out-polled all candidates of both parties in general overall county voting, except for George Bush and Virginia Foxx, the latter who out-polled God).

(Having Virginia Foxx and God inadvertently show up in the same sentence is like divine inspiration, since Ms. Foxx seems to have completed her full transmogrification into a Bible-thumping Baptist, even though she's a Catholic in point of fact. But she plays a Baptist on the campaign trail. In her post-election interview in the Watauga Democrat, she said, "I did a lot of praying during the campaign and felt I was doing what God intended me to do. Every day in the campaign, something happened that was an answer to a prayer. I said to God, 'I have lots of energy and a commitment to serve -- please put me where I can use my talents the best.' " Having a Republican candidate profess to talk to God on a daily basis is, like, de rigueur (which is French for "bo-o-oring"). Gag me, as they say in the hills, with a dipper! If Virginia's protestations of prayerfulness don't ring as phony to you as a Playskool toy telephone, then you deserve the "values" this fake Protestant takes to D.C. with her.)

But the Republican Party is apparently looking for scapegoats to blame for their stunning loss of the Watauga County Commission. At first they blamed "the students" (spoken with the same disdain one might use when saying "the flu"), who they believe should not be allowed to vote here because they don't own property. But owning property as a qualification to vote went out with the American Revolution, if you follow history even a tad, so they've apparently now decided to blame the sheriff, who it seems made no huge secret that he voted across party lines for the Democrats. And well he should. He got only begrudging support from the Republican incumbents now kicked out, and the Democrats will do better by him. They should. He's the best and most effective sheriff we've had in this county in years.

But save me a ring-side seat if the Watauga County Republican Party decides to declare war on their most popular Republican Party office-holder because of his disloyalty. (Even Virginia Touched-by-an-Angel Foxx gets her picture taken with Mark Shook!) Our money's on the Sheriff!

Friday, November 05, 2004

"A Victory for People Like Us"

If you want a glimpse into the mind-set of some of the "values voters" who've coronated El Presidente for another run at immortality, take a look at this profile piece in the Washington Post. A perfectly nice couple in Ohio, with three adorable kids, barely scraping by in the Bush economy, religious to a fault, who don't care about anything much beyond the horror of gay marriage ...self-described as "the working poor," folks who will continue to carry water for their masters because their masters have convinced them that they will preserve certain sacred illusions for the sake of those adorable kids.

Says the wife, "I think it's so important to have a society of moral absolutes." (Yes, we've had those societies before. Salem, Mass., in 1690 comes to mind.)

Says the husband, "It's really good to know our country had a decision to make, and there are so many people who feel this way. It's a victory for people like us."

Well, yes it is. A huge bone-crushing victory. For people like you. And El Presidente fully intends to exploit it, as he made clear in his press conference yesterday. But while we used to say with a shrug that at least ignorance didn't ever kill anyone, we're beginning to amend that assessment.

ADDENDUM: Quote of the day: "The error that progressives have consistently committed over the years is to underestimate the vitality of ignorance in America." -- Jane Smiley, in Slate.

The Swaggering of the President

The Littlest Angel's press conference yesterday -- only his 16th in four long years, the fewest press conferences by any elected president since records have been kept -- signaled a more open arrogance by the Wearer of the Halo.

"I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style," he said. "I'm going to spend it for what I told the people I'd spend it on, which is -- you've heard the agenda: Social Security and tax reform, moving this economy forward, education, fighting and winning the war on terror."

Translation: We're gonna begin the phase-out of Social Security and consolidate the power of the wealthy. And do some other stuff that may get a trifle messy.

No definitive word yet on herding all the gays into re-education camps, but there'll be time for those details later. (And incidentally, Mr. President, you're going to need most of Montana for those camps: just in Watauga County alone, some 11,000 big homos voted for Kerry!)

Roger Simon has the clearest reality check: "Does Bush really want change that favors conservatives or does he want to 'reach out' and 'heal' the nation? Well, I wouldn't take this healing talk too seriously. Bush was elected by conservatives who expect to be rewarded with conservative legislation, conservative judicial appointments and conservative Constitutional amendments."

Can we hope for the 45 Dems left in the Senate to hang tough on, say, Supreme Court nominees and filibuster them into the good earth? Maybe. The weak reeds of that bunch, like Breaux, are gone now, and maybe the 45 who are left will have some guts. Only takes 41 to sustain a filibuster.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Watauga County Notes

Prior to the election, County Commission Chair James Coffey (about to be the ex-County Commissioner James Coffey) was overhead to remark that he thought the local Republicans would win all three seats on the County Commission but that if they had to lose one seat, he guessed he could work all right with Winston Kinsey but that he couldn't work at all with Jim Deal.

Mr. Coffey got at least half his wish ... he won't have to work with Jim Deal.

Apparently, Tuesday night the local radio announced that on the basis of 20 out of 20 precincts reporting that the Republicans had swept the County Commission. But ... oops ... they hadn't figured on the 10,500 votes that had been cast in "early voting," and that's where the Democrats won it. The Democratic vote was pumped this year and couldn't wait to get to the polls, so they went early. But their votes got counted late.

We don't have the numbers yet about straight-party voting, but we're betting that there were more straight-party ballots cast for Democrats than for Republicans, which would be the reverse of past history. In other words, it was not just ASU students who put in the Democrats. Their win depended on a fair number of Republicans who split their vote. We won't know for sure until those numbers become available.

In the meantime, some preliminary statistics:

Billy Ralph Winkler beat James Coffey by about 600 votes, taking the following precincts: Blowing Rock, Boone 1, Boone 2, Boone 3, Brushy Fork, and New River 1. Mr. Coffey won Bald Mountain, Beaver Dam, Blue Ridge, Cove Creek, Elk, Laurel Creek, Meat Camp, New River 2, New River 3 (by one measly vote!), Northfork, Shawneehaw, Stony Fork, Watauga, and Beech Mountain. Billy Ralph pulled it out by beating Coffey in early voting by 1,200 votes.

Winston Kinsey beat Allen Trivette in the three Boone precincts, Brushy Fork, New River 1, and New River 3. Trivette took Bald Mountain (by 11 votes), Beaver Dam, Blowing Rock (by 54 votes), Blue Ridge, Cove Creek, Elk (by 11 votes), Laurel Creek, Meat Camp, New River 2, Northfork, Shawneehaw, Stony Fork, Watauga, and Beech Mountain. Kinsey beat Trivette in early voting by 1,500 votes.

Deal beat newcomer Joe Phillips in Bald Mountain (by 9 votes), Blowing Rock, the three Boone precincts, Brushy Fork, Elk (by 2 votes), and the three New River precincts. Phillips took Beaver Dam, Blue Ridge (by 19 votes), Cove Creek, Laurel Creek, Meat Camp, Northfork, Shawneehaw, Stony Fork, Watauga, and Beech Mountain. Deal beat Phillips in early voting by 1,700 votes.

Do you see the pattern? Though Deal was the top vote-getter among Democrat County Commission candidates, Democratic strength across the board is centered in the two towns and their suburbs (though Deal took two rural precincts by slim margins). The Republican base lies in the most rural precincts.

NOTE: It's impossible to know (without a lot of extra work) the precincts of origin of the 10,500 early voters. If this data were known, some of the rural precincts that went so heavily Republican on Tuesday would perhaps not look so overwhelmingly "red." People came in for early voting from every precinct, but conventional wisdom is that the majority came from Boone and its suburbs.

Though Jim Deal was top vote-getter among Democratic commission candidates -- even polling higher than Governor Mike Easley -- no Democrat did better in Watauga than Secretary of State Elaine Marshall. Even Republicans love that woman!

Bush Won With Queer Fear?

I promise not to start posting a bunch of jeremiads from the national press, but the one excerpted below contains information about how the network of queer-fear-whispering may have worked to Bush's advantage in this election. We certainly know that this sort of queer-baiting went on in Watauga County.

From Rick Perlstein's column in yesterday's Village Voice:

...Minister James Dobson, the radio preacher and the mover and the shaker behind the outfit called "Focus on the Family" .... has devoted his recent broadcasts to the proposition that a certain bill Senator Edward M. Kennedy wishes to pass, with the intention of providing federal penalties to thugs who beat up people for reasons of sexual orientation, is actually an opening wedge to anti-Christian pogroms. Dobson and his cohorts have been railing that is not just a step but a giant leap down the same slippery slope that found a Swedish minister named Ake Green sentenced to prison for preaching against homosexuality from his pulpit.

Here's a version of that line, from the Maryland Family Values Alliance, which claims -- and the claim is typical in evangelical circles -- that passage of Senator Kennedy's bill "would literally throw open the door to attacks against people of faith, who could be prosecuted with federal monies for expressing their views on homosexuality!"

Or Google a text entitled "The Freedoms Christians Might Lose in This Election," by Dr. John Ankerberg. It is one of a nearly limitless train of sermons that tie a vote for John Kerry, the bill from Ted Kennedy, and the fate of Ake Green into a single, smoldering, horrifying knot.

Now go to, type in S. 966 after clicking the tab reading "Legislation and Records," and read Kennedy's bill. Read it forward, backwards, sideways, inside out, and see for yourself that it says nothing of the kind.

Think about the fact that George Bush has relied on the diffusion of lies like this in order to win his majority [Tues. night]; that he couldn't win without the widespread diffusion of such lies....

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

So, Bush Wins

By Matthew B. Robinson, PhD (Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, Appalachian State University), guest contributor:

George W. Bush has just won the most important election of my lifetime. It is even more important for the health and welfare of my daughter, who is 3 1/2 years old, and my son, who is only 8 weeks old.

Imagine that -- my daughter will have lived her first eight years under the rule of one George W. Bush. And my son will have lived his first four years under the most divisive President in recent history, as well as the most loathed at home and abroad.

But now it is time to be philosophical about it all, even four more years of looking at and listening to George W. Bush.

George W. Bush's win means we will likely:

Be in Iraq for 5-10 years and lose as many as 5,000-10,000 military personnel -- sons, fathers, brothers, daughters, mothers, and sisters who should be home safely with their families.

Start another war against a country not involved in the 9/11 attacks (can anyone say Iran? Syria?).

Continue to swell the ranks of al Qaeda, thereby creating more enemies and putting our country at greater risk.

Be attacked again by al Qaeda (the Bush team incompetently missed the largest ever attack against our country, and terrorist cells are still here plotting against us).

Continue to dismantle protections afforded by Medicare and social security.

Get two or three new Supreme Court justices in the mold of Rehnquist, Scalia, or (God forbid) Thomas.

See the rich get even richer.

See more increases in poverty, child poverty, and true unemployment (as measured by the number of people actually not working).

See even more Americans lose their health insurance (even with caps on punitive damage lawsuits).

Continue to pollute our nation's air and water and rely too heavily on foreign sources of energy.

Continue to fail to fund a proper education for our children.

Pass more laws that diminish civil liberties.

Since all of this is all right with the American people, it has to be all right with me, too. Look at it this way -- George W. Bush will finally be forced to take the responsibility and the blame for it.

After all, on whom could he blame it? Bill Clinton? Nope. Gone for years. Democratic Congress. Nope, it's Republican (even more than before!). Terrorists? Probably, but Americans won't fall for it this time (will they?).

People will finally ask, "If he can't even keep us safe from terrorism, what can he do? If he can't even achieve his primary goal of protecting America, what can he do?"

Basically, I have found a way to be comfortable with tens of thousands of more poor, uneducated, uninsured, polluted, sick, threatened, hated, suffering, monitored, and even dead Americans.

The next four years of George W. Bush will assure a pendulum shift to the left that will be unlike any other pendulum shift we have seen in our lives. And Democrats will benefit from this shift for decades to come.

And then we Democrats can get back to fixing the problems thrust upon us by eight years of the Bush Administration.

Try to be philosophical about it.

Oh, and one more thing ...

Ugh. I feel sick.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Calloo, Callay

FLASH: Democratic candidates take all three County Commission seats in Watauga.
MATHEW GROSS IS SAYING that, according to "a source close to the Raleigh News & Observer," Bowles is trailing Burr 49 - 50 percent. Easley is way out in front of Ballantine. Posted less than 30 minutes ago. No additional news about Kerry v. Bush in N.C.
MORE LEAKED EXIT POLLS. Kos is taking numbers from Slate that shows Kerry trailing Bush in N.C. by 2 points, 49 - 51.

Oh man.

And Kos says the following is from CNN:

Ohio -- African American precincts are performing at 106% what we expected, based on historical numbers. Hispanic precincts are at 144% what we expected. Precincts that went for Gore are turning out 8% higher than those that went Bush in 2000. Democratic base precincts are performing 15% higher than GOP base precincts.

Florida -- Dem base precincts are performing 14% better than Bush base precincts. In precincts that went for Gore, they are doing 6% better than those that went for Bush. African American precincts at 109%, Hispanic precincts at 106%.

Pennsylvania -- African American precincts at 102% of expectations, Hispanics at 136% of expectations. The Gore precincts are doing 4 percent better than Bush precincts.

Michigan -- Democratic base precincts are 8% better than GOP base states. Gore precincts are 5% better than Bush.

Kos is saying that if this trend holds nationally, we're looking at making major gains in both the Senate and the House.

Man oh man.
4:06 p.m. Bill Schneider on CNN divulges that early exit polls say 1 in 7 voters today did not vote in 2000. "That could be significant," Judy Woodruff volunteers, by way of reaction. So she is as dumb as the bloggers say!

4:14 p.m. Jack Welch, former C.E.O. of G.E., tells Neil Cavuto on Fox that if Bush loses, it's because he failed to adequately convey how well the economy is rebounding. That's right: The Bush Presidency -- A Failure to Communicate Adequately! I betcha the Librul Media had something to do with it!

4:16 p.m. Donald Trump to Cavuto on Fox: "Iraq has been a total catastrophe." Also, "I would like to see taxes stay nice and low under Kerry." Uh, Donald ... don't know how to break it to you ... but we're planning on taxing your butt into the ground!

4:25 p.m. This just in: Arkansas Governor Huckaby (R) on MSNBC says that "Senator Kerry is a Massachusetts liberal" -- which evidently explains why Bush's former lead of 9 points last week in Arkansas has completely evaporated. Yeah: "A Massachusetts liberal and probably a great big homo!" Ask not on whom the domino falls. It falls on thee.

4:30 p.m. Boone 3 precinct -- the other student precinct -- is reporting over 1,600 people voting so far today, a truly remarkable turn-out. Republican officials, workers, etc. are MIA at most precincts reporting in today -- no candidates shaking hands, no poll greeters cheering on Bush supporters, no poll observers trying to catch Democrats in flagrante. What's up with that? Over-confidence? Or total melt-down?
MARKETS GOING SOUTH AT THOUGHT OF KERRY WIN? Just got this info from Al at 3:45 p.m.: "The New York Stock Exchange and NASDAC markets have just turned south on reports that Kerry is doing well in key states. Just happened. The exchanges were in the black until about 5 minutes ago."

We Hear Grains of Salt Are Good for Your Health

Daily Kos is up with the first of the leaked exit polls showing Kerry leading Bush in PA, FL, OH, MI, NM, MN, WI, NH, tied in IA, way behind in AZ, and slightly behind in CO. For what they're worth.
STYLUS PROBLEM IN BLOWING ROCK PRECINCT. From a B'Rock poll greeter, minutes ago:

"It's been steady all through the morning, though lines were longer very early before 7 am. I know of at least one instance at BR precinct where a card's holes did not punch (I think the stylus was defective), and the gentleman got away before they caught him, but I think someone knew him, so hopefully they called him back to come and try again. The stylus problem was discovered later while I was standing outside and someone was trying to vote curbside -- and they reported that the 'metal piece' was missing, so it wasn't punching -- they got her a new pad/stylus."
AN OFFICIAL COMPLAINT has been filed against Republican assistant judge Deborah Greene at the Boone 2 (student) precinct by another assistant judge, for harassing a would-be student voter. She's moved from protecting Watauga against the evils of ZONING to protecting us all from the evils of democracy.
LONG LINES IN WAKE COUNTY. Raleigh N&O is reporting that long lines had formed at some polling places in Raleigh well before the polls opened at 6:30 a.m. People standing in line at a North Raleigh site were surprised when a donut stand opened up, offering free donuts to Bush supporters and asking 75 cents from everyone else. The little enterprise was rather quickly shut down ... but its short life illustrates how the Bush people missed an opportunity. They should have been giving out FREE Bibles to non-Bush voters, rather than soaking them for donuts, since such citizens clearly need the Word of God far more than useless calories.
9:13 a.m. Democrat Party HDQ packed since 7:30 a.m., mainly with students trying to figure out where their polling place is. There's been a line at Boone 2 precinct since about 7:30, but it's moving steadily. Steady turnout at the other student precinct, Boone 3. Cove Creek precinct ... the parking lot's jammed ... so both Democrats and Republicans are turning out. Blowing Rock precinct's had a line since very early, but it's moving steadily.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Getting Our Priorities Straight

A new poll by Elon College will surely endear North Carolina voters to you, if you're into know-nothingism. Many of them don't have a clue what the issues are in the presidential race, though they can tell you plenty about abortion and gay marriage. But, hey! Does anything else matter beyond who's having sex with whom? Or didn't we learn ANYTHING from Bill Clinton?

Betcha a new penny that young and first-time voters were as under-represented in this poll as in all the national ones.

Big Party Givers

The Raleigh N&O is out today with a partial list of the top donors statewide to the Democratic & Republican national committees.

On the list for the Republicans from Boone is James H. Parr Jr., who gave the maximum $25,000 to the Republican National Committee. There are no Boonies listed for the Democrats in that range.

Final Early-Voting Tally in Watauga County

As of the end of early voting on Saturday ... 10,560 voters total.

D: 4,193 (40%)
R: 4,043 (38%)
U: 2,324 (22%)

Here's a link for reading about turn-out in Buncombe County (undifferentiated by party, but we expect the pattern that emerged state-wide holds true there also).

Meanwhile, Republican operatives are whistling Dixie. This very a.m., a very nice young man working for Dick Burr told us confidently on the phone that early voting trends were definitely in their favor. They must be reading numbers from some fairly obscure counties ... like, maybe in Utah?

Does Bowles make it? Dunno. He's been a poor candidate overall, doing what he could to diss the Democratic base. But if Kerry/Edwards pull N.C., they haul Bowles' sorry butt with them. Young people and first-time voters hold the power state-wide. If they turn out, it could be a sweep. If they don't turn out, it could be the New Ice Age. With democracy itself the great flash-frozen victim.

UPDATE: These figures from Forsyth County, at the close of early voting on Saturday (again, thanks to Hayes):

Dems 14,517 (49%)
Repubs 11,647 (39%)
Unas 3,617 (12%)
Libs 32 (0%)

FURTHER UPDATE: This just in from Mecklenburg County ...

Of the 105,000 people who voted early or absentee in Mecklenburg, 49,000 were Dems and 38,000 were Reps. Of the Dems, one-third -- about 16,000 -- were voters who vote less than 50% of the time. (Ditto our great thanks to Hayes for passing these numbers along.)