Wednesday, February 28, 2007


There was a big nasty show of force last night down south of here in Jackson County, where the County Commission is considering a moratorium on growth while ordinances are written to regulate steep-slope development and other problems.

From 1990 to 2000 the population of Jackson County increased 23 percent -- almost double the national average. The population is expected to increase 17 percent between 2000 and 2010.

Don't you DARE tell us to stop selling concrete and cutting into banks, cried developers and their henchmen.

"We didn't come to cause trouble," said Randy Dillard, manager of Toxaway Concrete, thus naming their intent while denying it.

We'll be interested in how this plays out on March 8th, when the Jackson County Commission will vote on the proposed moratorium.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Sen. Dick Burr received more tobacco money than any federal candidate except President Bush in the 2004 election cycle.

Sen. Dick Burr says he will throw himself naked into a snow bank before he allows the U.S. Senate to consider a law that would move tobacco under the regulatory thumb of the Food and Drug Administration.

Sen. Dick Burr has pledged to use "every legislative tool at my disposal" to stall the bill.

What a Dick.

Monday, February 26, 2007


For months I've enjoyed a regular feature in Slate magazine, "Blogging the Bible," written by "non-observant Jew" David Plotz. He's funny and irreverent and notices stuff. His most recent post covers the last of the "minor prophets."

Just this minute came across an interview with Plotz here that explains so much about him and about his project and makes me appreciate what he's doing even more.

Congresswoman Virginia Foxx attended the grand opening of the new Wilkes Senior Center in North Wilkesboro yesterday, and in her remarks she chose to hit a highly inappropriate and discordant partisan note by saying that she'd like to spend more time in the 5th District, but that Nancy Pelosi keeps her in Washington five days a week to do two days' worth of work.

In Wilkes County parlance, this is known as laying a turd in the punch bowl.

Tsk, tsk, Madam, such whining, coming from the woman who always claims that it's the Democrats who are partisan, not she.

After she finished her remarks, the Congresswoman busied herself in her seat checking off names on a donor database, too busy evidently to extend even a smidgen of common courtesy to the other speakers, some of whom were actually Democrats (and one of whom, incidentally, now occupies her old NC Senate seat).

But that's nothing. She was shown extensively on local cable Channel 18 lecturing 2nd graders in a Watauga County elementary school about why Nancy Pelosi is an evil witch for flying on a jet plane to California, instead of using her broom.

Apparently, eight-year-olds are deemed a wholly appropriate audience by Watauga County educators for the sort of paint-stripper that Virginia Foxx dishes out.

Referencing The Guv's appointment of Edward Finley to the NC Utilities Commission (discussed down-column), the N&O says today that Easley is reacting to the negative press about Finley by "balancing" that appointment with one that might seem more friendly to the environment ... Sam J. "Jimmy" Ervin IV, Senator Sam's grandson.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


A business professor from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill told an all-white Chamber of Commerce audience in Lexington, N.C., that this state "needs its growing Hispanic population not only to compete in the global labor market but also to replace aging baby boomers in the work force."

He said these words shortly before being chased out of town by a pitchfork-wielding mob.

Don't know if the professor's demographics are correct, but if they're even remotely accurate, how will those facts mesh with the incipient racism of an NC Republican Party led by the likes of Virginia Foxx, Sue Myrick, et al., who want to energize their base against multiple "threats" from Hispanics?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Gov. Mike Easley has published a rhyming children's book, "Look Out College, Here I Come!" published by the National Education Association. It's illustrated by his younger sister Marie. The book promotes a higher education to kids who perhaps don't think that path's open to them.
Never be happy to be in the back.
Go to college and lead the whole pack.
Dr. Seuss maybe he's not, but good for him.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


On the face of it, The Guv's appointment of Edward S. Finley, a big-time industry lawyer, to the NC Utilities Commission, suggests that Easley is much more interested in rewarding his donor base than in nurturing the future of renewable energy in this state.

Finley, characterized in his own law firm's press release as a giant tool for fossil energy (see link above), must be confirmed by the state legislature and will be joining the commission at a critical time when the future of wind power, on the one hand, and two proposed new coal-burning power plants in Rutherford County, on the other, must be decided.

A group of 17 NC enviro groups, including Appalachian Voices and Western North Carolina Alliance, has written a letter to The Guv and all the members of the General Assembly about the disturbing message the Finley appointment seems to send about conflicts of interest and industry axe-grinding.

Let's hope a majority of legislators heed that warning.

Watching Hillary Clinton's flack, Howard Wolfson, try to handle Chris Matthews last night on Hardball made for a lot of grinding teeth at the dinner table, and it wasn't from eating raw vegetables. This flap was all over somebody -- David Geffen, a Hollywood suit -- who used to give money to the Clintons and is now giving money to Barak Obama (insult # 1), and who gave exceptionally good dish about the Clintons to Maureen Dowd of the NYTimes (insult # 2). Wolfson went on Hardball to lay down the law: "The Dutchess is mad as hell, and heads will roll!"

Gosh, it was embarrassing.

Like Hillary is some kind of brittle control freak who not only knows not how to apologize for the war vote but knows not how to laugh it off when a mere footman paints the roses white instead of red.

At times like this, the original Star Trek TV series offers perspective, if not consolation. "Ugly sacs of mostly water!" a long ago Trekkie alien correctly diagnosed human beings, and in that composition we all share alike, including senators from New York.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


The picture that was taken in Boone of Congresswoman Virginia Foxx during her infamous "I'm NOT listening tour," and which has decorated the front page of (scroll waaay down) ever since, keeps showing up in other places, uncredited.

Most recent: here, on "The Progressive Pulse," as part of a critique of The Madam's pro-surge speech.

Make that an air-conditioned warehouse full of computers ... in a poke. That's it. That's what the taxpayers of N.C. are getting from the multiple-million-$ Google tax give-away.

The Google boondoggle "won't produce spinoff jobs that officials have touted, according to economic development experts," says the AP.

Even Google says the center probably won't spin off new local industries.

"It's a building filled with computers," said company spokesman Barry Schnitt.

Monday, February 19, 2007


For all you independent voters out there who thought John McCain was some kind of moderate, he's now saying (in South Carolina, at least) that Roe v. Wade should be overturned.

John McPander.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


It's been a bad month for ASU Chancellor Ken Peacock.

Rushing to qualify the university for a big pot of money to build a new College of Education, he's tried to rush the Town of Boone into rezoning property along Hamby Alley so that he could evict dozens of students and little old ladies from their lodgings and build a high-rise that will not conform to any of Boone's development standards. The Town of Boone apparently doesn't want to be rushed. Nor gobbled up in quite this way.

Peacock is depicted in The Appalachian, the student newspaper, as woefully out of touch with environmental concerns and student-generated initiatives on his own campus ... by a student writer who confesses herself an otherwise adoring fan of the chancellor.

But worst of all, Peacock gets cussed out in absentia, and very publicly, by Chancellor Erskine Bowles, who told the entire Faculty Assembly in Chapel Hill that he doesn't appreciate being "gamed" by Peacock. The "gaming" in question apparently referred to a bit of bait-and-switch budgeting that Peacock was attempting to sneak past the chancellor. Bowles said in effect he doesn't trust Peacock and singled out ASU delegates to the Faculty Assembly to deliver that message.

The lack of trust appears to be catching. There was talk of mounting a "no-confidence" motion in the ASU Faculty Senate. So far, nothing that drastic has occurred, but that door has been opened a crack.

Then there's the matter of the killed-and-dispersed Appalachian Cultural Museum, but that happened a lot longer than a month ago.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


Yesterday, we became aware that Congresswoman Virginia Foxx said she wanted us, her constituents, to take a survey on her website. Rather like her infamous "listening tour" of a year ago, the survey questions seemed designed to tell us what we're SUPPOSED to think on three issues, not actually share our views with The Madam:
Do you support a Federal Marriage Amendment that defines marriage in the U.S. as a union between one man and one woman? (Yes or No)

Do you support abolishing the current tax code and starting with one that is fairer and flatter? (Yes or No)

Do you support the war on terrorism and a victory in Iraq as a key to winning the War on Terror? (Yes or No)
Never mind the prejudicial framing of the questions. They are worded so that you're forced to say "yes, my Queen" to each and every one, or else admit to yourself and the world that you're silly, sinful, and weak.

Nevertheless, we answered "no" to all three. What happened next? We'll let a reader who went through the same (pointless) exercise explain:
I voted NO NO and NO to the survey, and this is the response I got, in its entirety:

"Thank you for taking the time to fill out this survey. Your input is valuable to me, and I am pleased that you care enough to share your thoughts.

"If you are interested in receiving periodic updates on my work in Congress, please sign up for the E-newsletter from my website's home page at Enter in your e-mail address under "E-mail Updates" and hit submit.

"As always, a Member of Congress will not disclose your e-mail address or any other contact information you have provided. Your contact information will not be provided to any other organization unless you specifically authorize it."
But, writes this correspondent, despite the automated nature of the Foxx "response," it's better than what he usually gets, which is no response at all.
Two months ago, I wrote this letter to Representative Foxx:
An Open letter to Representative Virginia Foxx

Dear Representative Foxx:

In your tenure as Congresswoman for the Fifth Congressional District of North Carolina, you've consistently voted for authorization of federal funds for the Iraq war. Yet, you voted against authorization of funds to provide support for victims of Hurricane Katrina, reportedly because of a lack of accountability to taxpayers.

As it turns out, funding for the Iraq war is not accountable to taxpayers. Please consider the following information from the "Iraq Study Group Report," a group led by loyal and strong President Bush supporter, James Baker. The report states:

"The public interest is not well served by the government's preparation, presentation, and review of the budget for the war in Iraq.

"First, most of the costs of the war show up not in the normal budget request but in requests for emergency supplemental appropriations. This means that funding requests are drawn up outside the normal budget process, are not offset by budgetary reductions elsewhere, and move quickly to the White House with minimal scrutiny. Bypassing the normal review erodes budget discipline and accountability.
"Second, the executive branch presents budget requests in a confusing manner, making it difficult for both the general public and members of Congress to understand the request or to differentiate it from counterterrorism operations around the world or operations in Afghanistan. Detailed analyses by budget experts are needed to answer what should be a simple question: 'How much money is the President requesting for the war in Iraq?'

"Finally, circumvention of the budget process by the executive branch erodes oversight and review by Congress. … When the President submits an emergency supplemental request, the authorizing committees are bypassed. The request goes directly to the appropriations committees, and they are pressured by the need to act quickly so that troops in the field do not run out of funds. The result is a spending bill that passes Congress with perfunctory review…

"…Costs for the war in Iraq should be included in the President's annual budget request, starting in FY 2008: the war is in its fourth year, and the normal budget process should not be circumvented. Funding requests for the war in Iraq should be presented clearly to Congress and the American people. Congress must carry out its constitutional responsibility to review budget requests for the war in Iraq carefully and to conduct oversight." (pp. 59-60)

As one of your constituents, I ask you, how do you explain your open-ended, unquestioned support of all this non-accountable spending for the Iraq war? Further, as my Representative in Congress, what are you prepared to do about Congress' non-accountable spending for the war?
I've heard it said many times that you are responsive to your constituents. As one of them, I eagerly await your answers.
Madam Foxx's response? Nothing, nada, zilch. Or, as our correspondent expressed it, "CHIRP CHIRP (crickets)."

He continues:
So, here is my latest letter to her:

An Open letter to Representative Virginia Foxx

Dear Representative Foxx:

Nearly two months ago, I sent a letter to you asking for an explanation of your consistent voting in favor of emergency funding for the Iraq war in spite of the fact that the money is "not accountable" to the American people.

Remember, you were one of only 11 members of Congress to vote against reconstruction aid after Hurricane Katrina, supposedly because the spending was not accountable to the American people.

In my letter, which was published in the local papers, I noted that the Iraq Study Group agreed, saying that funding for the first three years of the war was not accounted to Congress nor accountable to taxpayers.

Now, more than $300 billion later, we learn that about one in six dollars charged by U.S. contractors is "questionable." David Walker, head of the auditing arm of Congress, said:

"There is no accountability. Organizations charged with overseeing contracts are not held accountable. Contractors are not held accountable. The individuals responsible are not held accountable."

So, Representative Foxx, I ask you once again, why have you consistently voted to spend billions upon billions upon billions of tax payer dollars on a non-accountable war? And what are you, as a conservative, going to do to stop it? Finally, why have you not answered my letter?

I have repeatedly heard that you are responsive to your constituents. Frankly, your silence on this issue is deafening.


Friday, February 16, 2007


Mullah Richard Land of iPootValues fame and a major poobah in the Southern Baptist Convention has given an interview to "The Hill" in which he basically lays out a formula for not only losing the presidency to the Democrats in 2008 but losing it by a landslide.

Land is thumbs-down on Rudy Giuliani. Twice divorced, three times married, pro-choice, and gay-friendly. You've got to be kidding, right?

Land is thumbs-down on Johnny McCain, because McCain is insufficiently bloody-minded about women who have abortions. Plus McCain might appoint judges incapable of bringing the axe down on those who need to have the axe brought down on them ... in a severing of the head from the body kind of way. Like environmentalists. And uppity women. And gays.

Land is thumbs-down on Newt Gingrinch. Married too many times.

Land is surprisingly sweet on Mitt Romney, batting those big Bassett-hound eyes in the Mormon's general direction, thinking that rather than flip-flopping out of political expedience on abortion and gays, Romney's change of heart might signal he's getting Right with God. Well, he's certainly getting Right.

Land's real passion, though, is for Sam Brownback and Mike Huckaby, candidates so right-wing that only a landslide defeat in 2008 could adequately express the extremity of their desires for a theocratic America.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Reviews of the new Fox News satire show had proliferated by this a.m., and the chatter is most entertaining (AND instructive -- for example, we had missed the obvious: the laughter we hear on the leaked YouTube clip is electronically produced).

Bob Cesca: "Step Away from the Jokes, Fox News, Before You Hurt Yourself."

You can check out a mini-roundup of critical howls here.

Not to be missed from the premier show is this clip of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter playing the Prez and the Vice Prez, presumably after the fall elections in '08 and also presumably after actually reading the scripted lines and deciding that this would be a laff riot.

Limbaugh and Coulter were game, as in the type that get caught in the headlights. The camera is merciless when you're bombing this badly.

Even the right-wing blog site Hog on Ice is appalled:
My GOD, does this show blow .... It is SO not funny. And it should have been hysterical. There are so many brilliant, funny conservatives.
"So many funny conservatives." Like, take Virginia Foxx. Please.

Text of his speech here.

Anyone catch sight yet of The Madam on the House floor, giving the same speech she's been making since 2004 ... "We've got to support the President in Iraq, we've got to fight them over there so that we don't have to fight them over here, yadda yadda yadda"?

The most advanced application of Republican animatronics we've seen.

Lenoir city and Caldwell County officials apparently did not do their homework about the economic costs/benefits of granting Google several decades' worth of tax exemptions (according to the AP).

"Intuitively, the numbers showed it was a good deal," Lenoir City Manager Lane Bailey said.
Records show that city and county tax breaks given to Google amount to $165 million over 30 years, in addition to state tax breaks and incentives totaling $94 million. The incentives package is among the richest in state history.
So now that the deal is done, local "economic development officials" have decided to do the study of the economic impact. Won't THAT be something, if it shows anything less that what "intuition" has hoped for?

The appointment of someone to fill out plea-copper Jim Black's term in the NC House will fall to Gov. Mike Easley.

The Mecklenburg County Democratic Party should be scrambling to find a strong candidate to recommend (not that the Guv will pay them any mind), but instead the party chair down there says everything will have to wait until after precinct meetings.

The opportunity to find the right person is NOW, not after precinct meetings.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Joel Surnow, the man who's made torture-in-the-name-of-patriotism chic on Fox's "24," has produced a Fox comedy news show to compete with Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show." The Fox show will debut this Sunday evening and will be called "The Half-Hour News Hour" (now THERE'S a knee-slapper!).

Drudge claims this YouTube segment from the new show was leaked, as though it were some stunning bombshell, but it's mainly just a flat (as in no fizz) attempt to make fun of Barak Obama. Yawn.

Generally, you can tell when you're in the presence of a cultural phenomenon, based on the number of physical or psychic gasps one expells while watching. But this doesn't cut it.

Bob Moser in The Nation has written a long overdue rebuke to those Washington-type Democrats (you know who you are, Rahm Emanuel) who want to write off the red states generally, and the South more specifically, and those who have wandered away from Democratic principles, whoring after "Republican-lite" votes in congressional races.

We especially like Moser's remarks because...

a. He has North Carolina roots and understands at least some of what's gone on here in the last few years.

b. He appreciates that the hero of 2006 is Howard Dean.

He understands some but not all of the current Democratic resurgence on the ground in North Carolina. His compare and contrast discussion of Larry Kissell in the NC-8 and Heath Shuler in the NC-11 is insightful, but he seems ignorant of any of the stirrings of Democratic Party strength below the congressional level, and that's where the real story is.

We certainly applaud Moser's diagnosis that it will take a new economic populism (you know who YOU are, John Edwards) to bring the Democrats back fully in the South against the power of Republican wedges (strong prejudices against immigrant color, against "sin," against uppity women).

The future IS Larry Kissell and not Heath Shuler, and in fact, the future is already here.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Posted on the Charlotte Observer web site at 7:45 this evening:
Former House Speaker Jim Black is expected to plead guilty to a public corruption charge in federal court in Raleigh Thursday....
Details available here.

Just a taste of the editorial in today's "Appalachian," the student newspaper at ASU: "No matter how you cut it, Foxx is a poor representative of not just Appalachian State, but of college students everywhere."

It's gratifying when the younger generation pays attention.

So says Scott Sexton today in his W-S Journal column, headlined "Movement toward zoning runs through mountains."

Sexton cites some irrefutable facts from the 1990s: "According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the mountain counties of Northwest North Carolina grew by an average of 12 percent in the 1990s. Half of the region's 10 fastest-growing communities were in southeastern Watauga County -- including New River Township, which had a whopping 166.3 percent growth rate."

Nothing we've noticed suggests that rate of growth has slowed appreciably in the first decade of the 21st century, certainly not in Watauga and apparently not in adjoining Ashe.

Most interesting in Sexton's piece are the quotes from mountain elected officials, like
Richard Blackburn, the chairman of the Ashe County Board of Commissioners: "You cannot just develop a plan and impose it on a county or its people. But if the grassroots and citizens clamor for it, then you have to look at it .... It's not an outcry yet, but I believe there has been a slight shift in attitude in that direction."

'Course, it's an open question whether a "slight shift" will be enough to save the mountains from the massive land-grab currently underway, with
a handful reaping huge profits. They don't want any change and will fight dirty to keep it from happening.


Hard on the heels of their Grammy sweep by The Dixie Chicks, the Charlotte Observer hastens today to remind everyone that country music radio stations -- and their listeners, presumably -- aren't ready to make nice, either.

"We don't play them, period," said D.J. Stout, program director of WSOC-FM (103.7). Stout has never looked more butch.

"The audience has clearly said they're not interested in listening to them on radio," said Bruce Logan, regional vice president of programming for Clear Channel Radio of Charlotte.
Nationally, the group has seen little success in getting airtime. In the week ending Feb. 11, their music got only 928 spins on any of the top 200 broadcasters in the nation, ranking them No. 92 among country artists. Among adult contemporary artists, a genre they are also considered to be in, they fared even more poorly, ranking No. 375.
And this is why God made iPods.

ADDENDUM: And this, if you're interested in the topic.

Last night NC House Speaker Joe Hackney announced committee assignments, and looks like our own Cullie Tarleton will be serving on Agriculture, Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, and Energy & Energy Efficiency.

Monday, February 12, 2007


The Dixie Chicks won all five Grammy awards that they were nominated for, including Album of the Year and Song of the Year for "Not Ready To Make Nice."


"I think people are using their freedom of speech tonight with all of these awards," singer Natalie Maines said, alluding to the blackballing by country music radio stations the Chicks suffered after they dared to criticize El Presidente in 2003.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


Rivalry to be Number Three among NC's state-supported universities elicited a comment from, and a characterization of, Appalachian State University's chancellor in the Asheville Citizen-Times:
"We are emerging as the third flagship school," said the affable Peacock, known for his chest bumps with football fans.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


See there -- growth is possible.
Baptist minister rethinks a stance
Former 'gay basher' now calls for a fresh reading of the Bible
--Headline, W-S Journal


Madam Foxx's anti-immigrant rhetoric has been accompanied by a noticeable up-tick in Ku Klux Klan activity. Hmmm. Maybe the Klan will be sending the Madam roses next Wednesday. "We HEART you for making it so much easier to recruit new members. Your fear and distrust of brown-skinned newcomers is just so ... delicious!"

The Charlotte Observer is reporting that North Carolina has seen in the past five years a significant growth in extremist groups, from 27 to 35 including eight Klan chapters. "Illegal immigration is a top issue for all of them...."

"People are tired of this mess. The illegal immigrants are taking this country over," said Virgil Griffin, 62, Imperial Wizard of the Mount Holly-based chapter of the Klan in Gaston County.

Those particular utterances could have come out of any number of Madam Foxx's own press releases.

Friday, February 09, 2007


Nothing signals depression like a web site frozen in time.

This has been unfolding for some time. Most telling is this quote from Alleghany Co. Commissioner Milly Richardson:
"We had a land-use-guidance ordinance completed in 1995, and the commissioners chose not to adopt it [at that time]. I was a part of that group that helped to prepare it .... Had they passed what we prepared in 1995, we would not have to deal with this today. It's just at that time the people did not want anything done."
It's the Highland way. We don't do anything until it's too late to do anything.


It was about a year ago that we woke up to the news that the Bush administration wanted to sell hundreds of thousands of acres of national forest, some of it in North Carolina. Even with both houses of Congress in Republican control, that plan didn't fly.

Bush the Privatizer of National Forests is back. He wants to sell up to 4,000 acres of the Nantahala and Pisgah Nat'l forests in N.C. under the guise of helping rural schools.

To his credit, Heath Shuler (NC-11) is standing up against this scheme.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Our own new Sen. Steve Goss has been appointed to "Appropriations/Base Budget," "Appropriations/Human Resources," "Commerce, Small Business and Entrepreneurship," "Education/Public Instruction," "Finance," and "Information Technology."

Don't know what's a "normal" committee load for an NC senator, but this seems like a lot of committee assignments. Important stuff, all of it, and Senator Goss will work extraordinarily hard on these issues.

But when's he gonna eat & sleep?


We heard last night that ASU was withdrawing its zoning case from the Quarterly Public Hearing tonight. By this a.m. we'd received at least 27 copies of an administration e-mail circulating on campus with this explanation:
Many of you have probably seen the front page of today's Watauga Democrat that has a story about the new education building and the fact that the university is applying for a zoning variance. As is often the case with these requests, not all of the story is told, but fundamentally, the facts about size of building, etc., are correct and obviously will require some zoning adjustment in an area which is currently zoned residential; hence the request for a zoning variance.

After further dialogue with a variety of people, the university has withdrawn its request for a variance at this time and will continue to seek dialogue with the Town Council and others to determine the most appropriate approach(es) to be taken. Therefore there will be no presentation tomorrow [Thurs.] evening for the Town Council.

Although I have been assured the university remains committed to try to make the current site work, should that not transpire, then the attention, obviously, will shift to sites previously identified to determine their feasibility.

As we learn more, I will try to share whatever I can. The good news is that we are receiving favorable reports on funding for the building being made available, but we still have a long way to go.
A new tone? Why, yes. Any time a university "suit" uses the word "dialogue," twice in the same sentence, especially when referring to the Town of Boone and its citizens, that's got to be considered progress.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Big head-cracking ahead. Public hearing on this charming plan tomorrow night, 7 p.m., at Boone Town Council chambers.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


A couple of weeks ago we were in a meeting of progressive N.C. bloggers, and the subject of Senate Bill 13 came up, a Republican bill meant to force an amendment to the NC constitution outlawing same-sex marriage. One sage's opinion was that if the bill got considered in committee, it WOULD pass out to the full House, and if considered by the full House, it WOULD pass (with Democratic support, both times).

Such is the atmosphere in NC, said the sage, and such is the cowardice of many Democrats in the NC legislature.

But isn't there something we could do to highlight the cruel absurdity of throwing gay citizens under the proverbial bus for the sake of political expediency?

No one at the time had what seemed like the right antidote to religious extremists who want to make government as dopey as they are, but here it is, advanced by a group in Washington state, the Defense of Marriage Alliance. Apparently, they have managed to file an initiative with the Washington state legislature to require heterosexual couples to have kids within three years or else have their marriage annulled.


Under the initiative, marriage would be limited to men and women who are able to have children. Couples would be required to prove they can have children in order to get a marriage license, and if they did not have children within three years, their marriage would be subject to annulment.

All other marriages would be defined as "unrecognized" and people in those marriages would be ineligible to receive any marriage benefits.

Get it?

"For many years, social conservatives have claimed that marriage exists solely for the purpose of procreation ... The time has come for these conservatives to be dosed with their own medicine," said an organizer of the Alliance. "If same-sex couples should be barred from marriage because they can not have children together, it follows that all couples who cannot or will not have children together should equally be barred from marriage."

Brilliant, we say.


You just can't make this stuff up:
"We need to get Christians running [for government offices]. The unsaved will run the country different than a saved person."
--Thomasville, N.C., Councilman Dwight Cornelison
Councilman Cornelison uttered these sentences -- and a great deal more -- to a large group of laymen gathered at Full Grace Baptist Church Saturday morning. The men were in attendance to eat ham biscuits and "to receive information on how their churches can become more involved with government."

Not that we disagree with a syllable of what Cornelison averred. Indeed, George W. Bush, the holiest president in our history, has run the country ... very differently. Why, without him we wouldn't have realized the full blessings of preemptive warfare!

Cornelison is a leader in Thomasville and Davidson County of an outfit calling itself the "U.S. Motto Action Committee." They want to force the Protestant God onto public buildings and Protestant prayer into public meetings.

But Cornelison wasn't even the main course at the sumptuous feast of self-righteousness convened at Full Grace Baptist Church last Saturday morning. That distinction goes to Dr. Ron Baity, president of Return America, who harangued the group for a full hour about the wrongness of a separation between church and state. It's a mirage. It's a lie. It's a damned plot of the liberals.

What would America look like if Dr. Baity could get rid of that cursed "separation of church and state"? It would look like Cotton Mather, multiplied by a factor of 100:
He talked about what he called defining moments and told about a group of preachers in the 1700s who wore all-black, including ministerial robes, and the fear they produced and how they fought for their freedoms.

"They proclaimed two things straight away -- that salvation is in the person of Jesus Christ only and second that we have been handed these freedoms and if we do not fight for these freedoms we will lose these freedoms," Baity said.
Mind you, Dr. Baity was BRAGGING about "the fear" those Puritans produced in those black robes, and then he proceeded to strike a little fear of his own:
Baity also talked about the issue of same-sex marriages. He used many derogatory slang terms for the homosexual community as he proclaimed his disgust and disapproval of the homosexual lifestyle.

"We are no longer on the playground, we are on the battlefield," Baity pronounced as the men rose up out of their seats and shouted in agreement.
Such righteous disgust! Recent revelations might lead us to assume that Dr. Baity is over-compensating for his own secret sexual yearnings, but we're content to take his threats at face value.

Indeed, we are on a battlefield, and we clearly see what we DON'T want running our government.

Monday, February 05, 2007


The symbolic water-boarding and rendition of moderate Southern Baptist congregations that are "gay-friendly" continues apace:
Choosing to quit rather than get thrown out, members of St. John's Baptist Church in Charlotte tentatively voted Sunday to become the second local church within a week to end its affiliation with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
Tim Funk says that about 20 churches statewide are "under the gun" of queer fear, but that's just the prominent churches everyone knows about. Just wait until the whisper campaigns get cranked up by disgruntled deacons against this or that pastor, or against this or that youth minister, who has the audacity to be nice.

The Southern Baptists' pursuit of ideological purity (and see the last post, down-column) is nothing but a microcosm of their political masters' search for the same thing:
Since the 1980s, Southern Baptists have taken increasingly conservative theological and political views, insisting that the Bible must be read literally, declaring that only men can serve as pastors and establishing close ties to the Republican Party.
Historically, the need for purity of belief often leads to inquisitions, autos-da-fe, and burnings fueled by a wide variety of incendiary materials.

Good times!

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Ideology -- n., a certain ethical set of ideals, principles, doctrines, myths or symbols of a social movement, institution, class, or large group that explains how society should work
A regular reader of WataugaWatch asked me if I'd seen the letter to the editor in Friday's Watauga Democrat. I said I had. The letter-writer wrote, among other things, that Republicans in Watauga County lost the fall elections "because they didn't deserve the votes of their former supporters."

My friend and I agreed this might be a sign of the times. Hell, it might be a sign of the end-times.

Gist of the letter? That "Republicans" generally, but more especially those in Watauga County, have gotten soft on conservative ideology, especially in the expenditure of tax money, and in being ... pure. "Do the Republicans stand for anything other than backing down on any of the issues that their supporters cared about? ...taxes, immigration, government spending, reducing government, gun control, property rights, socialized medicine."

Look closely at that list of specific beefs:

government spending
reducing government
gun control
property rights
socialized medicine

In some respects, a mystifying list, especially if the writer is trying to send a message to the Watauga County Republican Party, as opposed to the national one.

1. "Taxes" -- What local Republican has been in favor of raising taxes? For that matter, what national Republican?

2. "Immigration" -- Congresswoman Virginia Foxx beat that horse down every road in the district, but in her own county, her towering hypocrisy is better known. She preaches against illegal immigration while benefitting from immigrant labor. But I doubt the letter-writer was thinking of Foxx. He was thinking of his president.

3. "Government Spending" -- Ah! Now we're getting somewhere! The cost of the new Watauga County High School = concern over "government spending." (And that may also explain # 1 above in part, because support for a new school meant, naturally, raising the cash somehow, and though neither Republican County Commissioner ever voted for a tax increase, one of them did ultimately support the new school. Support of that new school meant you were guilty, de facto, of raising taxes, I guess (however modest the tax increase and smart the fiscal management).

4. 5. and 7. "Reducing Government," "Gun Control," and "Socialized Medicine" -- these issues have little or no obvious local application and may have been thrown in as padding. Count these out, and you're left with (slipped in next to last) the real heart of the matter in this mountain county to this particular ideological Republican...

6. "Property Rights" -- It's not surprising that, since 2002 and the "No Zoning" crusade gave the local Republicans their biggest local sweep in many years ... it's not surprising that nostalgia for 2002 might soar in 2007.

Here's the irony (cue the thunder & lightning, please): Zoning was a Republican invention. In 1916, in New York City, under the administration of Mayor John Purroy Mitchel, at 34 the youngest mayor in New York City history, "the boy mayor," who won election on the "Fusion Party" ticket, a combination of Republicans, Jews, and Protestant Reformers. "The Standard Zoning Enabling Act," which every other state of the union eventually copied, sometimes word for word, was the creation of young, forward-looking, conservation-minded Republicans.

But poor urban and rural Americans justifiably hated the uses and implications of zoning, because early zoning was too often used to draw lines of separation between "desirable and undesirable." It was an easy step from "desirable property" to "undesirable people" living on that property, even to the use of zoning to evict people for profit. The urban poor and the (often land-rich) rural people found themselves more often than not on the undesirable side of the line, even while their land was lusted after and gobbled up. Rural people especially resented the hell out of that. As well they should have.

It's a little different now. Zoning's a lot different now, but that's a whole 'nother argument for another snowy day.

What prompted the remarkable letter to the editor in the Watauga Democrat linked above? "It has been brought to my attention that the Republican Party in Watauga County is attempting to reorganize." It was apparently brought to the writer's attention because our former County Commissioner and defeated NC Senate candidate Mr. Blust has been calling everyone he can think of to help him reorganize and re-energize the local party. This letter was but one response to those phone calls: not only "no" but "hell no!"

Here's the deal. This letter to the editor is an important diagnosis of political ills. The recommended medicine? "There'll be no adaptation to changing times, no, never." Important (though not necessarily accurate) ... this rush back to IDEOLOGY, the constant beating on our heads about THE WAY THINGS OUGHT TO BE, and about how we're all going to hell muy pronto.

Our last post down-column, "Adapt or Die," gains additional dimension in light of this letter. Racing back to strict ideology is the opposite of adaptation.

Last night my friend said, "They can't adapt, because to change strategy would signal an admission that their core beliefs weren't correct somehow. It would mean something was wrong with belief itself, and they just can't go there."

Ideology, right or left, is its own iron prison.

Saturday, February 03, 2007


Politics are about as "on-demand" as enterprises can be. You either learn what people want and how to deliver it, or you go extinct.

Word comes to us from Capitol Hill sources that Congresswoman Virginia Foxx has retained her campaign staff, given them raises, returned to her favorite special interests to replenish her bank account, and sees no reason to change. This from a woman who lost her home county in the recent election by a thousand votes.

We couldn't be happier. No, really.

Of course, we expect that the Foxx steady state of being will soon include another "listening tour" of Watauga and other counties. We can't wait for another bout of attentiveness from the congresswoman, since the last one was so productive.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


It just makes me mad, cancer carrying off some of the best people in the universe. I hate cancer. I excoriate it.

'Cause I loved Molly. She and I were fellow Texans of the same age and pretty much the same politics. Because we were both Texans by birth, I could appreciate more than most people perhaps when she announced one summer years ago that the Texas legislature had finally adjourned. "Let every village reclaim its idiot," she quipped.

She also wrote this:
The United States of America is still run by its citizens. The government works for us. Rank imperialism and warmongering are not American traditions or values. We do not need to dominate the world. We want and need to work with other nations. We want to find solutions other than killing people. Not in our name, not with our money, not with our children's blood.
Who will speak for us now?

Who knew the people of Peoria, Ill., were such hardasses? (Thanks to Nose4News for the link)

It's been our observation that people have simply stopped listening to El Presidente. Now they can't even be bothered to stop chewing when he walks into the diner. Amazing. And high time, too.

From Wikipedia:
The shunning of an individual is the act of deliberately avoiding association with him or her. The historical punishments of ostracism and exile were forms of shunning. Today, shunning in an official, formalized manner is practiced by only a few religions, although it continues to be practiced informally in every sort of human grouping or gathering. Religious shunning is often referred to as excommunication.

When bending over backwards for big business, it's best to keep all orifices tightly covered.

Comes out in this a.m.'s N&O that Google bullied and threatened people in the state legislature in order to get "tax breaks that could top $100 million over three decades."

Most revealing quote in the article comes from Sen. Jim Jacumin, a Republican who represents Caldwell County: "I sort of had to work in the dark. That bothered me. They need to respect the laws of the land, even if they're business."

Wait a minute. "Even if they're business"?! The presumption being that, hey, we Republicans know all about American business interests, that they expect to write the laws, or at the very least bend the law to their will, but in this instance, Google needed to show a little respect.

Not that legislative Democrats aren't even more to blame for getting down on all fours and barking like a pooch.