Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Cowardly Tactics of the Purely Self-Interested

Several Boone residents have contacted us about an anonymous mailing they're received spreading fear about the steep-slope regs currently under consideration. "Your property rights are at risk," it says.

We received this same "pre-sorted" and bar-coded mailing today, so we're assuming it's gone to every property owner in town ... an expensive undertaking. The return address says the sender is something called "Committee for Responsible Environmental Regulation" and lists a P.O. Box in Boone. The two sheets inside contain no names of actual people who make up this "Committee" ... with the highly theatrical (and we suspect, misleading) name.

So we'll just have to stake out P O Box 2630 and see who picks up the mail. We can guess ... but we have a reasonable need to know just who's stirring this up, since we've been targeted by this particular "educational" campaign.

Bottomline: It's just plain cowardly to put this kind of stuff out without putting your name on it. If you feel so strongly, looks like you could also be honest about it. So until the "committee" identifies itself, and despite however sensible and "responsibly environmental" its message is, I find this mailing wholly unreadable and approximately tantamount to night-riders burning crosses.

UPDATE: A simple Google search indicates that P O Box 2630 is an address for Templeton Tours.

FURTHER UPDATE: The N.C. Secretary of State's corporate registry says that the "agent" for Templeton Tours is Maurice Templeton.

Dixie Chicks -- You Go, Girls!

Now that Donald Rumsfeld has declared that criticism of El Presidente amounts to "appeasing" Islamo-fascists, we shouldn't be surprised to see a few public stonings of war dissenters. It'll serve 'em right.

The Dixie Chicks have been through their own hailstorm ever since lead singer Natalie Maines criticized George W. Bush on the eve of the Iraq war. Country music radio stopped playing their songs. They got death threats. The bullies of Nashville and Washington intended to run them out of town.

Now the Country Music Association awards nominations have been announced, and the Dixie Chicks haven't been nominated for their new album, "Taking the Long Way." They got a big ole snub.

Maybe because the new album contains an in-your-face answer to the nastiness of the last three years: "Not Ready to Make Nice"

I'm not ready to make nice
I'm not ready to back down
I'm still mad as hell
And I don't have time
To go round and round and round

The Dixie Chicks' current tour, which was to include an appearance in Greensboro on October 22nd, has been re-routed out of some "red" states (including the Greensboro gig), according to this morning's NPR piece on the group.

Those who support this president and his dandy little war want to see the Dixie Chicks fail ... and worse. Crucifixion, anyone? But the defiance in the song quoted above is far more all-American, far more in keeping with the promise of freedom, than Mr. Rumsfeld's suggestion that we're traitors if we criticize.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Desperation at the RNCC

Someone forwarded to me an e-mail that went out to the wide world from the Republican National Congressional Committee. Of course, fundraising appeals have always tried to push emotional buttons, but this one, rather than the standard gay-liberal-socialist-Democrats-want-to-sell-America-out-to-terrorists pitch, we get this:

Republican Congressional candidates are facing a desperate situation nationwide. Our candidates in targeted districts are in very serious danger of losing on Election Day. And if we lose those swing districts, the Democrats will undoubtedly win the majority on November 7th.

That's sort of ... how you say? ... straight-forward.

The author of this e-mail, NRCC Executive Director Sally Vastola, waxes confessional: "I have not personally seen a more grave and dire situation for Republicans."

Yeah, that'll shake the money tree.

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

Candidate financial reports make puzzling reading sometimes.

Take N.C. Senate candidate David Blust's 2nd quarter 2006 report, fer instance.

Scroll down to Expenditures ... lingering, if you will, on the names of those who gave him big bucks back during the primary ... but scroll down.

On May 5th, 2006, Blust paid his own company, Blust Properties, $3,541.23 for "advertising." Then on May 31st, he paid Blust Properties another $3,500.00, again for "advertising."

Year-to-date paid to Blust Properties ... $7,164.23.

That's about a third of all his campaign expenditures listed year-to-date, $22,630 ... paid to his own company. For "advertising."


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Consumer Confidence Drops Sharply in August

Thanks to Stumpy for this link to the Dow Jones Market Watch, a site I don't often cruise, and to the story that consumer confidence has fallen in August to the lowest level since last November, when the nation was still recovering from Katrina.

"...consumers are growing increasingly pessimistic about the short-term outlook."

Karl Rove's life just got a little more miserable.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Sharpe Upsets Foxx (In More Ways Than One)

We like seeing this talk about a political earthquake this year that would take out The Madam and put a good man in her seat, Roger Sharpe.

After his speech Saturday night in Boone to several hundred Watauga County Democrats, old party veterans were looking at each other and saying, "It could by Gawd happen!"

What a speech it was!

Meanwhile, Madam Foxx is doing her part to make herself unappetizing even to the Republican faithful. Her recent meeting with the Republican members of the Blowing Rock City Council over the Forest Service's plan to clear-cut the land directly below the town "did not go well," according to a participant.

True to her native arrogance, Foxx cussed the Blowing Rockers for putting pressure on her about the timber harvest. Apparently, if you don't have an opinion perfectly in synch with the congresswoman's, and if you dare to contact her with that opinion, well, get ready for a tongue-lashing.

One Republican in that meeting later said, "That's the last time I'll ever vote for that woman."

Arrogance like Foxx's eventually catches up with a person.

Virginia Got-Rich-On-The-Backs-of-Immigrant-Labor Foxx DID have the arrogance, incidentally, to show up at the "field hearing" in Gastonia on Friday. No self-serving and highly hypocritical quotes from her that we've found yet.

Foxx released a statement about how "out of touch" Roger Sharpe is on her hot-button issue of border security.

It is important to point out that I sympathize with those who desperately wish to live the American dream here, on American soil. I understand their desire for liberty, free markets, property rights and guaranteed freedoms.

I'm so sympathetic ... I give some of them the freedom to wash my clothes, scrub my floors, and hoist plants in my nursery. God, I love the free market!

If Our Eyes Don't Deceive Us... a new Wall Street Journal "Battleground States Poll," James Webb is leading George Macaca Allen by 1.3 percentage points.

That's within the "margin of error," but it may also be a bellwether.

We can hope, can't we?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Foxx Lowers Profile on Immigrants, Is Weak on Logging

According to the N&O today, Madam Virginia Foxx isn't listed as planning to attend the "field hearing" in Gastonia today about illegal immigration. Earlier in the week, the W-S Journal said she'd be there. Hmmmm. Hypocrisy catching up with her? (Her employment of Mexicans detailed here and here.)

The Charlotte Observer buried a little item, too, that says the Madam hasn't signed on yet to a plan to keep several thousand acres of the Pisgah National Forest "scenic" and logging free. Wait'll those rich Republicans in Blowing Rock find out that Foxx won't support them in their opposition to the clear-cut in The Globe.

Here's the Observer piece, in its entirety:

Local members of Congress haven't embraced a proposal to designate a logging-free "scenic area" of 30,000 to 40,000 acres in Pisgah National Forest, where the U.S. Forest Service plans to cut timber. The Forest Service plan to log 231 acres stirred an uproar in the mountain resort town. Property owners fear the logging will ruin views from Blowing Rock and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Opponents crafted proposed legislation that would ban logging in the area. But neither U.S. Reps. Patrick McHenry nor Virginia Foxx, the Republicans who represent the area, have voiced support for it.

McHenry of Cherryville is studying the Forest Service project, said spokesman Aaron Latham. "He believes proposals involving land management should be based on preserving scenic beauty while ensuring environmental and economic health in the area," Latham said.

Foxx of Banner Elk hosted a meeting with the Forest Service and Blowing Rock's town council on Wednesday, said press secretary Michael Frohlich. He called legislation premature as the two sides continue to talk.

What does that sound like to you? Wonder if some Foxx & McHenry high rollers -- that it, big-dollar contributors -- might not be calling in chits to make sure that the sell-off of public assets (as in TIMBER) to private parties goes forward. Oh, Virginia Foxx LOVES privatization.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Saints Alive! Or Not

Trouble at the Christian Coalition.

A Cunning Linguist

Two items down-column, about the towns of Mint Hill and Landis considering "English-only" ordinances ... yesterday we get forwarded a message from Attorney General Roy Cooper about the felony arrest last week of the police chief of Landis on charges that he was using the Internet to solicit children for sex.

We had a queasy moment about that, but we checked, and thank God the police chief was using English only.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Feel the Draft?

News item of the day:

"...the U.S. Marine Corps is preparing to order thousands of its troops to active duty in the first involuntary recall since the early days of the war."

According to the Associated Press this a.m., the number of troops in Iraq is actually climbing back to 138,000, to deal with the increased violence.

They can't keep this up without a draft.

Talk Like Us -- Or Else!

Raleigh N&O reports that two N.C. towns are considering "English only" ordinances -- Mint Hill in Mecklenberg County and Landis in Rowan County. Apparently the town fathers in those cheerful places don't think it's perfectly clear enough that English is the dominant language in them there parts.

Rumors that Mexicans must display a cactus emblem on their clothing are merely premature.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Interesting N.C. Poll

The John William Pope Civitas Institute is a right-wing machine, so when they do a poll, we get out our salt shaker. But this one, reported on in today's N&O (scroll down), has both good news (if you're a Republican trying to take over state government) and bad news (if you're a Republican trying to hold onto power in Washington).

Poll size: 800 "likely voters"

74% say they're aware of the scandals surrounding Democratic House Speaker Jim Black

80% say they think Democratic lawmakers should call on Black to resign

(This is what Republicans running for the N.C. House & Senate will emphasize this year. It's virtually the only "issue" they have.)


40% of respondents said they were more inclined to vote for a Democrat for the state legislature

36% said they were more inclined to vote for a Republican

45% said they approved of the job El Presidente is doing

52% said they disapproved

Difficult needle to thread, no? Run as raging reformers for the state legislature while denying any connection to a national regime bogged down in boondoggles galore.

Virginia Foxx's Mexican Hat Dance, Part II

June 9, 1999
At approximately 10:30 a.m. on June 3, 1999, an Hispanic employee of Grandfather Mountain Nursery and Landscaping nicknamed Lalo, drove left of center and hit another vehicle, causing severe injury to a passenger in the other car as well as to himself. Investigators on the scene noticed beer bottles on the front seat of the truck, so at 2:15 p.m. that day, four hours after the wreck, Lalo was tested and was found to have a blood alcohol concentration of .213, more than five times the legal limit.

Lalo was hospitalized in the Watauga Medical Center for an extended time. According to the depositions given by both the Foxx daughter and her husband, no one in the Foxx family ever visited Lalo while he recuperated, and he later disappeared from the hospital and was not seen again. The Foxx family said in a court filing in 2003 that Lalo "presumably returned to Mexico."

He had been hired to work by the Foxx daughter a little over a month before the accident, because he had once worked for Virginia Foxx's husband Tom, and he had shown up again, visiting other Hispanic workers in the housing provided on Foxx property (the 11470 Hwy 105 address, which is behind the garden center), and he was thought to be a good worker. At the time of his hiring he had a N.C. driver's license listing a Hudson address as well as both a Resident Alien and a Social Security card.

Because Lalo absconded and avoided arrest, the Erie Insurance Company, which carried liability and collision insurance on the Grandfather Mountain Nursery pickup truck, initially took the position that because Lalo did not cooperate in the investigation, the company was not required to pay any claims. At some point that position by the insurance company changed, and Erie eventually paid $65,000 to settle the suit.

Assuming that Lalo's documentation was all legit, he was a legal immigrant worker. But after the traffic accident, the Foxx family acted as though he wasn't. Certainly, their treatment of him in the hospital was cold.

The Politics of Legal and Illegal Immigrant Workers
Whether legal or illegal, Hispanic workers are an exploitable workforce, both for their dedicated labor and now for the political gain of making ordinary Americans fear and resent them.

On her congressional website, Foxx mentions the problem of immigration and pushes several emotional buttons, including the fear of rape. Illegal immigrants, she says, are "causing unbearable strains on our local schools, hospitals and law enforcement because they are having to accommodate individuals who are breaking our laws. Our local law enforcement is feeling the strain of a major growth in violent street gangs, an increase in illegal drug activity and a rise in sexual assault cases stemming from illegal immigrants."

In April 2006 Congresswoman Foxx took part in a much publicized "field hearing" in Kernersville about "the invasion" of illegal immigrants into North Carolina, and coincidentally "the cost," "the burden on the system," caused by illegal immigrants. The hearing was colorfully titled for maximum political effect: "Gang, Fraud and Sexual Predators: Struggling with the Consequences of Illegal Immigration.:

For that and other activities, Foxx has been graded a B+ by Americans for Better Immigration.

The fact that she would not now be a multi-millionaire without the strong backs of a number of Hispanic immigrant workers never gets mentioned.

Her opponent in the 2004 Republican primary, Vernon Robinson, played the outrageous extremist on the immigration issue. But please show us the difference between what Robinson was saying in 2004 (and again this year in his campaign against Congressman Brad Miller) and what Virginia Foxx is actually doing as a member of the House.

Monday, August 21, 2006

No-Zoning Results in Haywood County

Here's a sad tale of ruined fortunes due to a lack of land-use planning ... people lost their home due to "slope failure" in Waynesville. Boone is right now struggling with the issue of how to regulate development on steep slopes. Apparently Waynesville and Haywood County aren't anywhere close to considering the same.

In the meantime, the victims are reaching out for advice on a hyper-conservative website, where we're sure they'll get very solid advice about how land-use regs would have only made their situation worse.

Virginia Foxx's Mexican Hat Dance

NC-5 Congresswoman Virginia Foxx will get herself down to Gastonia on Friday to grandstand on the illegal immigration problem ... at a "field hearing" staged by Sue Myrick and Patrick McHenry to rev up the conservative base. Nothing new there.

Madam Foxx will tell you that she wants to stop illegal immigration. She will also tell you that every last Mexican working for her family business, Grandfather Mountain Nursery and Landscaping, is totally legal. Translation: "I'm not even embarrassed that I can stir up prejudice against Hispanic workers in this country while simultaneously profitting (mightily) from their hard labor."

Not that her Hispanic workers aren't all perfectly legal. But then, who knows for sure? There are persistent rumors and some pretty solid anecdotal evidence shared by people whose jobs are at stake, not least among them current Hispanic workers for the Foxx family who fear loss of livelihood not to mention deportation. It's a nice system of servitude, that the rich member of Congress gets to make politics out of the fear of illegal immigration among her constituents, while depending on the fear her own employees have about losing their jobs.

Grandfather Mountain Nursery & Landscaping ... Even though Foxx's daughter & son-in-law now technically own part of the business, Virginia Foxx continues to claim ownership of all of it. As recently as May 2006, Foxx told "The Hill" newspaper that "she and her husband, Tom, have owned Grandfather Mountain Nursery and Landscaping, at the foot of Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina, for almost 30 years."

Grandfather Mountain Nursery was founded by the congresswoman's husband. After they married, Ms. Foxx joined the business. About the time Ms. Foxx got more heavily involved in politics in 1994, achieving a N.C. Senate seat, both she and her husband began to turn parts of the business over to their daughter and her husband, particularly the garden center. The daughter and son-in-law incorporated the garden center in 1998 as Ozdemir Inc. Meanwhile, Congresswoman Foxx, listed as "Vice President/Secretary" of Foxx Family Inc., with her husband Tom as president, still describes her business as "landscape installation and maintenance."

Both Ozdemir Inc. and Foxx Family Inc. rely heavily on Hispanic employees.

Tellingly, the Ozdemir Inc. garden center address given on official documents (11468 Hwy 105) is the same address given for Foxx Family Inc. That address, 11468 Hwy 105, is the current address listed in the telephone book for Grandfather Mountain Nursery and Garden Center but is also given on a variety of official documents for Thomas A. Foxx, for Virginia Foxx, for Ozdemir Inc., and for Foxx Family Inc.

There's virtually a Foxx family compound on Hwy 105. Though 11468 seems to be the prime operations center, 11470 is most often given by Hispanic employees as their "home address," with 11466 and 10982 Hwy 105 also listed as satellite properties involved in the overall family enterprise.

In other words, while the Foxx progeny may technically own parts of the empire, Virginia Foxx and her husband still appear very much in psychological if not physical control of it.

Only, not so much in the summer of 1999, when a "resident alien" employee of Grandfather Mountain Nursery got drunk on the job, drove left of center in a Grandfather Mtn Nursery pickup on Hwy 105, and hit head-on a Watauga County woman and her son, nor in the subsequent lawsuit in 2002-2003 when the woman victim in the traffic accident sued Grandfather Mountain Nursery for damages. This suit occurred at the very time Virginia Foxx was beginning her sixth term in the N.C. Senate and deciding to run for higher office. The fact that neither she nor the Foxx name became publicly associated with this lawsuit, considering Foxx's strident anti-immigrant bona fides today, seems most fortuitous if not calculated. The lawsuit was settled out of court by the insurance company, and the judge obligingly sealed the two videotaped depositions by Foxx's daughter and son-in-law, transcripts which we have nevertheless obtained.

TOMORROW: The lawsuit detailed.

Finding a Pulse in the Webb Campaign?

An article in this a.m.'s WashPost claims that the Allen-goes-Macaca incident over a week ago has given new life to the Jim Webb campaign.

Much as I'd like to believe it, I don't. Just recall that the Commonwealth of Virginia chose to shut down all its public schools in the 1960s rather than allow blacks into them ... as other than cleaning and cooking staff. Hate to be cynical on a Monday morning, but the Macaca insult probably solidified Sen. Allen's base. It may have embarrassed them, but it didn't turn them against him.

And Webb ... Take his candidacy. Please!

He was much better at carrying a rifle than he is at campaigning. WashPost: "Democratic activists across the state have complained for weeks that Webb hasn't been visible enough, was slow in hiring staff and had limited knowledge about many issues." Plus he's got a good case of creeping Easleyism. He hates going out and actually meeting people. In Virginia, if you don't show up, you don't get elected.

But we'd like to be pleasantly surprised.

UPDATE: If you put any stock in it, here's one poll showing that Webb benefitted from Allen's Macaca-ness.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Carter Wrenn, Repenting at Leisure

Carter Wrenn was the political brains behind the irresistible rise of Jesse Helms back in the 1970s, running the Raleigh-based Congressional Club for a couple of dark decades.

He's mellowed somewhat, or at least he's grown reflective of what the Helms/Wrenn political machine did in the name of God in the 1970s and '80s.

In short, Wrenn has written a novel. The main character, "Jubal Kane," is based on Jesse Helms. So he admits in an interview in the N&O published today.

We begin to lose count of the number of times in the last couple of years that a carefully constructed mask of Christian rectitude has been ripped off a Republican hypocrite to reveal a manipulative s.o.b. with really rotten motives.

Wrenn is amazingly frank about the racism of Jesse Helms and his own part in facilitating it for political gain.

Next he'll be wanting us to buy his novel.

Friday, August 18, 2006

ASU Teaches BullS**t 101

The story in today's Watauga Democrat about the banishment of the Appalachian Cultural Museum staff was sooo funny ... not in a ha-ha way but in a "Oh, no, he dint say that!" sort of way. And for those who don't speak fluent academician, allow us to translate:

"We will, of course, be retaining the ability to bring them [the museum staff] back to work with the museum,” said Robert Lyman, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Pigs will fly out of my alimentary canal approximately BEFORE we lift a finger.


"Since things are sort of dormant at the moment, we're letting them work on other assignments until a more active stage develops in the museum's reemergence."

Presently, for example, we've assigned them to pounding sand up their ass.


"We would absolutely love to see the museum in a new home," said Lorin Baumhover, ASU chief of staff. "We're pleased to work with the town of Boone and the mayor in that effort, and we fully support this kind of public/private partnership."

It's really none of our business where they go.

Boone Says Whoa to Big-Box Retail

It's not in today's Watauga Democrat, probably because the Boone Town Council action was only last night, but the council voted to limit big-box retail in the town to 150,000 square feet ... the approximate size of our existing Lowe's hardware.

As council member Dempsey Wilcox said at the meeting, for a town the size of Boone, that's plenty big enough.

Not big enough, however, for the Wal-Mart corporation's "SuperCenters," which were not, as a matter of fact, singled out in any way by the language of the ordinance.

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart is busily getting involved in politics ... even faster than we predicted down-column ... by sending out 27,000 "fact check" letters to its employees in South Carolina (an early Democratic Party primary state in 2008) attacking what those Democratic presidential hopefuls have been saying in Iowa about the negative impact of Wal-Mart on local economies.

Now ex-Sen. John Edwards, and the rest of those guys, will not only be running against El Presidente's incompetence and the Republican Party's monopoly on power but also against the largest single private employer in the nation.

Who thought it was going to be a net plus to attack Wal-Mart in a national political campaign? Not at all the same thing as dealing with "super centers" on the local level.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Is This the Best Strategy?

We read in this a.m.'s NYTimes that Democrats are addressing a broad strategy aimed at exploiting economic anxieties "and a growing sense that economic gains of recent years have not benefited the middle class or the working poor." Good enough. But they've decided to go at this issue by attacking ... Wal-Mart.

Poster-child for this new economic message is Joe Biden, who "delivered a 15-minute, blistering attack [on Wal-Mart] to warm applause from Democrats and union organizers" in (where else?) Iowa.

I would have been cheering too. I've boycotted Wal-Mart for years and deplore their trade and labor practices and what they do to many a small town, sucking all the oxygen out of local economies.

But declaring war on Wal-Mart as a political strategy? That's going to be too easily exploited by the opposition as a "war on poor people," an "elitist liberal plan" to deprive working-class Americans of cheap goods. We can practically write the TV spots now.

Others are warning against this issue for different reasons, according to the Times: "Some Democrats expressed concern about the direction the party was heading, saying it could turn back efforts by such party leaders as former President Bill Clinton to erase the image of the party as anti-business and scare off corporations that might be inclined to make contributions." We guess that would be the DLC.

"Wal-Mart has begun a counterattack. In interviews on Wednesday, company executives warned that they would alert their 1.3 million American employees to the anti-Wal-Mart campaign. They also pointed to a poll the company financed that reported that Americans were generally supportive of the company."

I don't know. I figger we're in some sort of trouble when Joe Biden is our leading domestic strategist.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

School Daze

Today we were presented with the text of a petition asking for a referendum on the new high school.

This is the exact wording of the petition: "Bond Referendum Petition"

We, the undersigned qualified voters of Watauga County, North Carolina, do hereby petition the Watauga County Board of Commissioners for a bond election on the expenditure of funds toward renovation and/or construction of a high school in Watauga County, North Carolina.

What? "...on the expenditure of funds..."

Bond referendums in this state, as we understand it, are always yes/no elections on specific propositions, so the R.I.D. group apparently wants the people to vote up or down on whether any money -- ANY MONEY -- should be spent on improving the educational infrastructure in the county. The proponents of this proposed referendum seem pretty confident that the majority of the voters will say no, and presumably they -- the opponents of a new high school -- will say things in private, or cause letters to appear in rural mail boxes, or send flyers flying in local country stores to prejudice people against educational spending in this Year of Our Lord, or in any other year, and will engineer the outcome they seek. We suspect that any bond referendum against a new high school will succeed, given history and the talents of Deborah Greene, who appears to be behind this petition drive.

Gosh. We assume Deborah Greene is behind this because along with the petition we were handed today, we also received into our hands a letter written by Deborah Greene to Tim Romocki, Director of the Debt Management Section of the North Carolina Department of State Treasurer, which alleges a smorgasbord of nefarious dealings by our School Board and Board of County Commissioners, most particularly Jim Deal but also singling out School Board attorney Paul Miller and School Board member Deborah Miller for accusations of underhanded, unethical, and self-enriching behavior.

Proof of evil intent, according to Ms. Greene's letter, is that the Commissioners and the School Board HAVE CHANGED THEIR MINDS about the best course of action in regard to the high school. First they were going to renovate, and then "OUT OF THE BLUE" they decided it might be better to sell the existing property and build new somewhere else.


It's understandable, perhaps, when "stay the course" is the pigheaded byword of President Numbskull, that Ms. Greene would measure a local change of direction as somehow a moral failure, but then not everyone can always measure up to the remarkably stupid consistency of our national leadership.

But enough of this.

Question # 1: How high will Commissioner Keith Honeycutt jump to placate these anti-school funding people while still maintaining his public image as a great champion of ... school funding? Would, for example, Mr. Honeycutt cast the deciding vote in favor of a referendum, knowing full well that a referendum would merely be an opportunity for Ms. Greene and her confederates to rouse the old "no-zoning" emotions of county people. The result of that? Education in Watauga County would be set back -- what? -- ten years? Or 20 friggin' years?

Here's the dilemma for Mr. Honeycutt: He's on record as advocating a referendum on a new high school: "Commissioner Keith Honeycutt .... also questioned why the commissioners couldn't pursue a bond referendum to allow the public to decide the funding issue." (Watauga Democrat, 6/8/05) 'Course, at the time he was trying to rationalize why he was going to vote against the county budget, which included a modest tax increase to help pay for a new school, and he was grasping at any straw in the wind to help explain his no vote. "Yeah, a referendum! That's the ticket!"

Careful what you wish for.

But now Honeycutt's a born-again. He's supposedly in favor of a new school, according to his website (previously referenced, down-column), and this referendum petition is so obviously an anti-new school ploy. Watching what Mr. Honeycutt does to get himself out of this bind may become THE spectator sport of the fall.

Deborah Greene and allies want this issue on the November ballot, obviously. Getting it there will be tough, and once it's there -- IF this petition drive succeeds -- it'll be the force that drives all other issues. To the detriment of us all. But then that's what Deborah Greene has always been good at.

Please, Mr. Schiavo, Look This Direction

Michael Schiavo, husband of the late Terri Schiavo, is getting a little revenge on politicians who decided to intervene in the private matter of his wife's feeding tube last year. Mr. Schiavo has formed a PAC and is giving money to defeat some of the hypocrites who decry "big government" but who nevertheless passed an emergency federal law trying to micromanage Terri Schiavo's end-of-life. Connecticut loser-man Lieberman was at the head of that pack, and Schiavo gave the maximum allowed amount to challenger Ned Lamont.

"[Michael Schiavo] is the human face of government intrusion," said one of the Democratic candidates Schiavo has contributed to.

Maybe Schiavo will look to the NC-5. Remember what a spectacle Madam Foxx made of herself on C-SPAN during the congressional debate on the Terri Schiavo law? Gaaawd!

You can take a look at Schiavo's website, and you can even contribute to his cause.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Commissioner Honeycutt, Pushing Phoniness to New Heights

County Commission candidate Keith Honeycutt has a new website up, and we didn't have to read past the second paragraph to find ... let's be charitable and call them misrepresentations:

1. Mr. Honeycutt writes, "I have helped develop a comprehensive plan for all areas of growth and development."

FACT: No such "comprehensive plan" exists, so far as the county's Planning and Inspections Department is concerned. As we've been advocating for comprehensive planning in Watauga County since a Maymead asphalt plant on the New River threatened established neighborhoods back in 1997, we've met with nothing but scorn and anti-zoning rhetoric from Mr. Honeycutt. If there's a comprehensive plan that Mr. Honeycutt worked on, we'd ask him to produce it for public inspection.

2. Mr. Honeycutt writes, "I have been working closely with the school board to develop plans for a new Watauga High School."

FACT: Though Mr. Honeycutt did serve as one of two County Commissioners on the taskforce charged with developing a plan for a new high school, his "support" for education has been empty. Over the course of the last four years he has managed either to vote against increased school funding OR he simply played hooky.

In 2005, he voted against the budget which contained the 4.5 cent tax increase dedicated to raising a cash reserve for a new high school. He piously said at the time that he supported education; he just couldn't bring himself to actually DO anything concrete for education. Talk's cheap. In Mr. Honeycutt's case, it's also way easier.

In 2003, Honeycutt joined such education visionaries as James Coffey, Allen Trivette, and David Blust in voting for a stupid 2-cent TAX REDUCTION measure, which ended up hurting disproportionately the school system and the sheriff's office. At the public hearing on this proposed budget in May 2003, at least one citizen offered a personal check for $32, which he calculated to be his tax saving under the proposed budget, and requested that it be given to the school system since the commissioners were cutting the school budget for THEIR STUPID 2-CENT TAX CUT. School Board Chair Andy Reese spoke about the "impasse" between the school board and the county commissioners over school funding. And there sat Honeycutt, scarcely the model of cooperation with the school board he now claims to be. (Watauga Democrat, 21 May 2003, p. 1 ... we're reduced to citing sources this way, since the Watauga Democrat's on-line search engine is sooo weak.)

This year, on the most crucial budget vote of all -- as far as a new high school is concerned -- what does Mr. Honeycutt do? He skips the meeting. Bails out. Doesn't bother to show up. Why? Because to vote for school funding in the 2006 budget will get his right-wing masters mad at him. Now he's claiming support for the new high school when he's NEVER LIFTED HIS LITTLE PINKY FOR IT.

Oh, he's for education ... just so long as no one finds out how he's actually conducted himself on the Board of Commissioners. He's "pro education" the same way he's "pro environment."

3. But for our favorite piece of empty rhetoric, Mr. Honeycutt writes, "Last but not least, we must continue to help people to realize the great American dream of home ownership. I believe this can be accomplished by a concentrated effort from everyone in the county. This will take a united countywide commitment to help better the lives of others."

FACT: Just how, exactly, is he proposing to help people "realize ... home ownership." What was his explanation again? "This can be accomplished by a concentrated effort from everyone in the county." If we squeeze our eyes tightly shut and clench our teeth and ball our hands into fists and WISH FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING ... it'll come to pass? What the hay is he talking about? "A united countywide commitment"? What would that be, a great big bake sale?

He has nothing to run on, so he's just making stuff up. Like his great supposed "comprehensive plan."

Are people going to let him get away with this mendacious hypocrisy?

Especially when we have an actual good candidate running against him?

ASU Completes Its Destruction of the Cultural Museum

The staff of the late lamented Appalachian Cultural Museum have been informed that as of September 1st, the office-in-exile of what's left of the museum will simply cease to exist. The staff has been reassigned to other offices. Its programs in the schools and its guided tours to other places will simply stop.

There doesn't even appear to be any pretense any more that "steps are being taken" to ensure the future of the museum ... not that those promises were EVER anything other than damage control.

It's over. Plain DONE.

Chancellor Peacock has established his legacy all right.

Senator Goes Caca on the Rainbow Coalition

Okay, so it's pretty standard operating practice in many state-wide races, say for senator, for the opposition to trail a candidate at campaign events, taking notes and gathering intelligence (such as it is).

So James Webb up in Virginia, the Democratic candidate for senate against incumbent George Allen, hired a fourth-year college student, S.R. Sidarth, who was born in Virginia but comes from a family that immigrated from India, to follow Allen around the state and record what he says.

That's the background for what happened up near the Kentucky border last Friday at an Allen campaign rally before an all-white crowd of Republicans. We mention the "all-white" part because the WashPost reported it and because Sidarth is non-white and stuck out in that crowd like a raisin in a yogurt swirl.

Senator Allen, given those circumstances, couldn't resist, apparently, the opportunity to turn bully.

"This fellow here, over here with the yellow shirt, macaca, or whatever his name is. He's with my opponent," Allen told the crowd. "He's following us around everywhere. And it's just great."

Yeah, just freakin' great, especially if you're the only dark face in a sea of white ones, who anyway don't much care for immigrants these days and especially immigrants who vote Democratic. But macaca?

Then it got even worse, as Allen turned the knife ever so slightly to the right:

"Let's give a welcome to macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia." Allen then began talking about the "war on terror."

Welcome to America, Macaca. You make me think of terrorism.

We repeat, the object of this bullying was born in Virginia and is as fully a U.S. citizen as George Allen is.

You can't get much nastier than Senator Allen. And this guy wants to be president of these United States?

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Phony Environmentalism of Keith Honeycutt

So there was Watauga County Commissioner Keith Honeycutt, making like a committed environmentalist in Blowing Rock last week, showing off for a bunch of rich people concerned that the Forest Service was going to ruin their gorge views by clear-cutting the woods. According to an eye-witness, Honeycutt "beamed when the crowd burst into applause" over his self-serving and empty rhetoric.

We're against the Forest Service "forest management" plan in The Globe too. The difference is that we don't say we're against it only because it's an election year. We're not a public official with a lousy environmental record up for reelection.

Honeycutt's REAL environmental record:

1. Honeycutt was bitterly opposed to the state designation of the Doc & Merle Watson Scenic Byway. He publicly advocated for billboards on that highway. But then, in 2002 he also accepted a large donation from the out-of-state owner of a major billboard advertising company. He let his bread get buttered by billboards.

2. Honeycutt campaigned hard against the proposed Watauga County Polluting Industries Ordinance in 2002, and he personally saw to it that the right of the citizens to be heard in opposing the siting of high-impact industries was cut out of the subsequent weakened ordinance. Honeycutt did not want a "conditional use permitting process" in Watauga County, which means if you find out about as asphalt plant going up near you, it'll be by accident.

3. Honeycutt was the lone vote against the junked car ordinance in January 2004, even though this ordinance actually weakened existing enforcement mechanisms against solid waste in Watauga County.

4. In February 2005 Honeycutt voted against a resolution supporting North Carolina's clean air standards and opposing any federal attempt to weaken emissions coming into North Carolina from other states.

Does Mr. Honeycutt think people won't notice the hypocrisy? When it comes to "environmentalism" he goes for the easy stuff ... showing up on a Saturday morning to pick up some trash with a local trash-picking-up group or posturing about million-dollar views.

To borrow a phrase used to describe Honeycutt's hero, he's all hat and no cattle.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Has Nancy Pelosi Moved to Asheville?

According to the Charlotte Observer, Charlie Taylor, running second (actually) in his reelection campaign from the NC-11, has opened up a negative campaign, not against Heath Shuler, the Democrat who's actually running against Taylor, but against Nancy Pelosi, who represents a district farther west. A Taylor radio spot warns: "The Pelosi game plan: Elect Heath Shuler and others like him, and take over Congress with the votes of illegal immigrants."

In the jargon of boxing, this is called "flailing wildly."

Fully 17 percent of voters in the NC-11 even know who Nancy Pelosi is, and some 8 percent of THOSE people care about her. A much higher percentage of western North Carolinians do care that Taylor seems to represent corporate interests a good deal more attentively than he does the people of his district.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Republican Base Solid?

When you see a Republican-sponsored poll like this one ... well, SOMEBODY'S data is way off, because most other polling we've seen does NOT indicate a highly motivated Republican base.

Here's the key sentence: "81 percent of Republican voters are 'almost certain' to vote and an additional 14 percent say they are 'very likely.' It goes without saying that they'll vote Republican..."

Not so fast there, Bucko. It goes without saying that they'll vote Republican? Not from what we hear. And that sentence above indicates to us that the pollsters didn't actually ASK ... "You say you're likely to vote. Will you be voting for Republican x or Republican y, who has been a rubberstamp for Bush policies that have driven us into a variety of ditches all over the world?"

Well, naturally they wouldn't ask THAT, but you get our point. Hearing that voters are likely to vote, without asking WHO they'll vote for, or how happy they are with the direction of the country ... well, that's just dumb.

ADDENDUM: Here's new polling NOT paid for by Republican or Democratic operatives. Slightly different picture of what's going on out there.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Tarleton for N.C. House Dist. 93

Very interesting developments in Ashe and Watauga counties, which constitute the 93rd N.C. House District, where recumbent Rep. Gene Wilson has been non-performing for approximately an eon. Private (but professional) polling is now showing that if the election were held today, Tarleton would win. (Check out Tarleton's website.)

The swing against Wilson, a do-nothing Republican of the old school, seems to be part of the same anti-incumbent tsunami that is being felt in Connecticut and Georgia and everywhere else.

Wilson is most famous for casting the deciding vote years ago, when he was Watauga County Commission chair, to privatize a perfectly good county-owned ambulance service ... and give it to his own son. The son then proceeded over the next several years to gouge his customers AND the county of Watauga, which continued to grant him subsidies for the same ambulance service the county had once owned. Far as I can tell, that's the Republican theory of "privatization": if you can't make money off of government, what's the point?

Other than acts of blatant nepotism, Wilson has championed no causes that anyone can remember, has sponsored no laws to benefit the public. To repeat a joke going around, told by a prominent member of Wilson's own party, the ONLY thing Wilson accomplishes in the state House is the conversion of oxygen into carbon dioxide.

Tarleton is a Democrat with ideas, a long list of community activism behind him, a strong head for fiscal responsibility, and a mind open to the possibilities of the 21st century and what it can mean for the economic development of these mountain counties. He has a strong background in business, having retired as a senior vice president & general manager of WBTV, WBT Radio, and WCCB-TV in Charlotte.

Evidently, Mr. Wilson is feeling the heat. He's actually started mailing out fundraising letters and staging campaign events.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

DON'T MISS THE TOUGH EDITORIAL in yesterday's W-S Journal, calling out Madam Virginia Foxx for her "rose-colored glasses" on the situation in Iraq.

We can't remember the last time we saw the name "Foxx" in near proximity to the noun "gullibility," not that we believe for a minute that she's that stupid. She's that mendacious, is all.

Department of Lame Excuses

Chalk up another victim of Hurricane Katrina ... former Bush admin. domestic affairs advisor & former Jesse Helms acolyte Claude Allen, pleading guilty to shop-lifting in Maryland, who generously blamed Katrina for his "disorientation," which caused him on at least 25 different occasions to steal items worth more than $5,000 from Target and Hecht stores in suburban Washington, D.C.

He got off light, too.

Only problem with the Katrina defense is that the hurricane came ashore in Louisiana and Mississippi on August 29th, and Allen's shop-lifting scheme (complicated and considerably premeditated) didn't begin until November 2005.

It obviously takes longer for some people to become disoriented by wind and water ... over a thousand miles away.

Friday, August 04, 2006

This Bodes Some Strange Eruption to Our State

It'll be former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker facing off for the Republicans against Democrat Harold Ford ... for Bill Frist's Tennessee Senate seat.

The Democrats (or most of them anyway) held firm against the truly bizarre attempt by congressional Republicans to pair a modest rise in the federal minimum wage with a billion-$ giveaway to the filthy rich.

Challenger Ned Lamont in Connecticut is now polling double digits ahead of Joe Lieberman in the Democratic senate primary. Panic has evidently set in.

Lieberman's biggest supporter, El Presidente, has scaled down his annual month-long vacation to ten measly days. Nothing communicates flop-sweat like that! Blame Katrina ... the bitch!

Tom DeLay's bloated political corpse has been ordered to stay on the ballot in his Texas House district. Though dead, he walks. Thou art a scholar, Horatio. Speak to it.

Pat Robertson Converts! Ice Caps Still Melting

The Very Rev. Pat Robertson has decided that there really is such a thing as global warming and that carbon dioxide in the air isn't necessarily healthy.

Saint Pat, struck down on the road to the bank.

If Pat Robertson turns environmental, there goes the environmental movement!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Townsend v. Shook ... and Vice Versa

Here's the complete text of Sheriff Mark Shook's response to the Townsend allegations, together with the sheriff's counterclaim of defamation against Townsend (which starts on page 10 of the document linked above).

Mainly, all the Townsend allegations are flatly denied.

For the county's part, it maintains that it cannot properly be a defendant in this case because "defendant Mark William Shook is not an agent or employee of Watauga County." He's an independently elected public official.

The counterclaim of defamation against Townsend is based pretty much entirely on the testimony of a single woman (who is named four times on page 11 of the document referenced above), who alleges that Paula Townsend told her that Sheriff Shook "forced himself on her," and that the sheriff "believes" that Townsend has said these same or similar words to others, and that not only are the words false but that Townsend knows they are false and has said them "with the intention of damaging [his] personal and professional reputation."

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Sheriff Shook Sues Townsend

Watauga Democrat story here.

As Drudge would say, DEVELOPING...

The Pancake House Bribe

Bad batter, the baddest.

Michael Decker, N.C. House member who switched from the Republican to the Democratic party to keep Jim Black in the Speaker's chair, has pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge that says "he deprived the public of his honest services by engaging in extortion, mail fraud and money laundering."

The N&O thinks it has to have been Speaker Black who offered Decker what amounted to a bribe ... at an International House of Pancakes in Salisbury. Couldn't even find a quiet, dimly lit steakhouse with overpriced entrees?

This is a very knotty cudgel that Republicans will use on every Democratic candidate, whether they were ever within whiffing distance of Speaker Black.

FOOTNOTE (containing an obvious lesson for religiously conservative Republicans):
Michael Decker, he of confessed guilt in this affair, is former head of the N.C. Christian Coalition who, according to the N&O, "often spoke up for issues pushed by Christian conservatives." We wonder if anyone is beginning to see a pattern here? As in, the louder the protestations of piety, the deeper the capacity for graft.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Ethnic Cleansing, Nathan Tabor-style

Right-wing battle bot Nathan Tabor sets us all right -- far-right -- that the current "war on terror" is really a war against all Muslims, not just radical ones.

We've known this, of course, just from listening to callers to C-SPAN's "Washington Journal," but it's good to have it confirmed by such a distinguished local pundit.

Iraq Is Just Fine & Dandy, Says Foxx

Ain't it wonderful? Madam Virginia Foxx went to Iraq yesterday, hung out in a palace, ate a meal (asked for a take-out box, no doubt), and left with the view that things are just splendid.

The woman has DEPTH, you have to admit.

ADDENDUM: For an opinion that actually matters, try on Sen. Chuck Hagel's. But then, he's only ever been in combat in Vietnam. What does he know?

All Eyes On Kansas

Important electoral moment in Kansas today, where the teaching of science in public school classrooms has been held hostage to the whim of a changing state school board since 1998, seesawing between officials who don't fear education and those who think scientific evidence will corrupt young people. Since 2004, Kansas has led the nation in know-nothing science, deciding to repudiate evolution for the sake of Christian fundamentalism. That could change today as 16 people vie on the primary ballot for five slots on the state's school board, four of them currently held by conservatives who believe that God created the world by the method described in Genesis ... and that Charles Darwin and all the scientists who followed him were only trying to subvert Christianity.

Everyone seems to agree that the REAL contests will be between conservative Republicans and moderate Republicans, with both the NYTimes and the WashPost suggesting that this is make-or-break time for moderates. Well, for conservatives too, for that matter, but the moderates have mounted a spirited "counter-attack," according to the Times.

Turnout predicted to be very low, especially since it's supposed to reach 175 degrees in Kansas today. Something like that.