Thursday, March 29, 2007


"I'm driven to prayer many, many times every day," said Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C. "Sometimes on my knees, sometimes just walking to meetings. I believe prayer can change things." (Quoted here)

Foxx's newfound religiosity is truly arresting in its calculation. The "look-at-me-I'm-praying" press releases, and the showing up on Capitol Hill as part of the "prayer caucus," while consistently voting against anything that does any ordinary citizen any good ... just how convenient is that?

She said she'd pray for Hurricane Katrina victims, but she wouldn't vote for the Katrina relief bill.

Couldn't find it in God's will to vote to raise the minimum wage, or to lower the interest rate on student loans, or to extend the Voting Rights Act.

I don't know about you, but my Mama taught me to be suspicious of a "Christian" who was constantly telling you how righteous she was while displaying deeds that suggested a very different set of masters from the Prince of Peace.

According to a new study, only Ohio is worse in the release of air pollutants by power plants and other heavy industries.

Duke Energy's Belews Creek power plant in Stokes County is the worst offender.

Mullah James Dobson of Focus on the Family has delivered new tablets from on high, declaring that former Tennessee Senator and wooden actor Fred Thompson doesn't cut it as a potential presidential candidate. "I don't think he's a Christian," said Dobson.

But apparently serial adulterer Newt Gingrich does look sufficiently born again to Dobson.

But, really, just how "Christian" is Mullah Dobson himself prepared to get in his theocratic binge, rating the candidates by his personal scale of holiness while ignoring Jesus Christ in Matthew 7: "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get."

Has this country not yet had a snootful of divinely inspired leadership, as interpreted by self-appointed spokesmen for the will of God?

Circuit City fired 3,400 employees nationwide yesterday simply because they make too much money. They intend to replace the fired workers with "new hires willing to work for less."

That's contemporary Republicanism, at its most refined.

"The company said the dismissals had nothing to do with performance but were part of a larger effort to improve the bottom line."

What happened to family values? What happened to rewarding performance? What happened to working your way UP?

Do well (relatively speaking) in this Bush economy, and you run the risk of getting fired.


A bill is moving in Raleigh to allow same-day registration/early voting, and with the threat of increased voter participation, Republicans in the state legislature are HOPPING mad about it, throwing up one amendment after another to require onerous i.d. requirements, etc.

They'll scream "voter fraud." They always do. Locally, there's a history of attempts to deny ASU students their constitutional right to vote where they go to school. This bill should make it easier for students to vote where they're living and paying bills and contributing to the sales-tax revenues of local government. The new Vice Chair of the Watauga County Republican Party, who is not only on record opposing the student vote but also on tape, should be just about apoplectic by now.

Regarding the charge of "voter fraud," an editorial in today's WashPost sums up our reaction to those Republican theatrics:
...the notion of widespread voter fraud ... is itself a fraud.

Won't stop 'em claiming it, though.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Remember Congressman Bob Barr? No? When he represented Georgia's 7th Congressional Dist. from 1995-2003, he was ALWAYS on television, yakking it up, usually about how immoral President Bill Clinton was.

My greatest memory of him is from Crossfire. He was on one night opposite a gay rights activist, and Barr was hotly defending the sacredness of marriage against gays who might want to pledge their troth. The gay rights activist looked at him and drily inquired, "Just which of your three marriages was the sacred one?" For a moment, Barr appeared to gag on his tongue.

Since being dumped out of the House by redistricting, he's gotten more in touch with his Liberterian side and come out against the Bush administration's power grab with the USA Patriot Act and other intrusions on the Constitution, like the wholesale snooping on communications.

This morning we read that Mr. Barr has signed on as a lobbyist for the Marijuana Policy Project. Whaaaa? The Marijuana Policy Project is "a non-profit that seeks protections for medical marijuana patients and caregivers and advocates no jail time for marijuana use."

Guess Mr. Barr is now hiding out in the weed.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), which represents about 45,000 churches across America, has endorsed a declaration against torture. First they issued a declaration that "creation care," the way we treat the environment, is a moral issue, and now they're breaking with the Bush administration over the treatment of Arab prisoners. What's next? "Do unto others?"

The evangelicals "say that the US administration has crossed 'boundaries of what is legally and morally permissible' in the treatment of detainees.

'Bout time.
...Christian criticism has tended to come from the right of the Bush administration. Yesterday's statement on torture suggested a new determination on the part of the evangelical churches to detach themselves from the Republican party and stake their independence....

The Bush administration will perhaps have to tolerate independent Christian congregations a little more than they tolerated independent U.S. presecutors.

The report of Jim McElduff, an environmental engineer, to the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners was really more of an admission that we don't know enough yet to fully assess the impact of development on water supplies, though his preliminary findings might be alarming to those capable of being alarmed.
There is little data available on groundwater levels in North Carolina, said Landon Davidson, regional supervisor of the Aquifer Protection Section of the N.C. Division of Water. He said the state might be willing to conduct pilot studies measuring groundwater depletion in the mountains.

In Watauga County such studies are already underway, shepherded by hydro-geologist Bill Anderson at Appalachian State University. He is monitoring a number of wells and will eventually have longitudinal data on changes in ground water availability to correlate with drought cycles and development.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


When we started WataugaWatch, we wanted a site that was as open and as free for comment as possible, and we agreed at the outset to put up with personal abuse, and not to censor comments, in the interest of a free-flowing site for democratic give and take.

Naturally, we realized that ignorance likes nothing better than anonymity. Snipers love cover. Cowards thrive where there is no accountability.

Therefore, we've seen plenty of ignorance, backbiting, and cowardice in comment threads on WataugaWatch over the years (and, yes, it's been years).

We've also seen intelligent and insightful analysis, wit, and news scoops of the sort that the mainstream media wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pica-pole.

We have deleted a few comments that crossed the line, as far as we were concerned, into potential libel. We did the right thing, evidenced by the fact that the State Bureau of Investigation came calling, seeking the I.P. (Internet Protocol) identification number for the very posts that were deleted. With an I.P. number, your identity can be traced, or at least the computer on which you composed your diatribe can be traced. We couldn't recover the I.P. numbers, and to this day I don't know if the S.B.I. recovered them.

The point is, in a legitimate legal proceeding involving allegations of libel, slander, improper conduct with confidential or proprietary information, we would be obliged to divulge I.P. information to authorities. We wouldn't relish doing it, but there are already court cases establishing that "blog anonymity" does not absolve a poster from liabilities under the law.

If you're wise, you'll think through what you're saying here. If you're unwise, you'll continue to sling your bilge indiscriminately.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


"Trends in Political Values and Core Attitudes: 1987-2007" ... here ... from the Pew Research Center (and you don't get any more prestigious than that).

You can cherry-pick isolated data from this poll all day -- and conservative Republicans will definitely want to do that, since the trends in national attitudes are definitely against them -- but the over-all message remains clear: the extremes of the Christian Right and the neoconservatives have run their electoral course and should continue to decline.

So, cheer up!

A little cherry-picking of our own in re Madam Virginia Foxx's hard heartedness:
More Americans believe that the government has a responsibility to take care of people who cannot take care of themselves...

Republicans are increasingly divided over the cultural impact of immigrants. Nearly seven-in-ten (68%) conservative Republicans say immigrants threaten American customs, compared with 43% of GOP moderates and liberals.

The single gloomiest finding in this poll?
...young adults express the least interest in voting and other forms of political participation.

Headline in Friday's Watauga Democrat:

Watauga revenue could outpace estimate

In some quarters, particularly where a new school is fervently supported, that's a good headline. In other quarters, maybe particularly on the front row of most County Commission meetings, there is groaning and muttering and the gnashing of teeth.

Political junkies will want to bookmark this site, "Public Policy Polling: A Discussion of All Things Polling in North Carolina." Though scarcely a week old, it promises to be a lively forum for what's going down state-wide in the polling arena.

Currently, for example, there's a defense of Interactive Voice Response (IVR), or automated polling, wherein an automated machine makes contact with a citizen, who is asked to punch buttons on the phone in response to questions. It was this type of poll that found Madam Virginia Foxx showing squishy support in the NC-5 last fall.

Some knowledgeable people don't trust this method at all. But it's given a spiritedly defense on this site and is worth consideration.

(That IVR Foxx v. Sharpe poll from last fall may have included too many Wataugans in its sample, which would explain the negative numbers for her.)

Friday, March 23, 2007


Time out while we check something important, 'cause we may just have become an official monkey's uncle!

Heath Shuler did not join up as a blue-dog holdout on the supplemental war spending bill that sets a time-table for withdrawal. He voted for the bill, along with NC's Walter Jones (R) and all but 14 Democrats (a mix of seven liberals wanting the war ended yesterday and seven blue dogs, who'll bend to the Republicans every blessed time).

Bill passed the House 218-212.

Not that it'll ever BE the law, but a journey of a thousand miles -- i.e., ending umpteen bazillion war deaths -- has to start with a single step. And Shuler hung tough.

Color us amazed.

Joining former Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr and Salisbury anti-gas tax advocate Bill Graham, who were already in the race ahead of him, state Senator Fred Smith announced his candidacy on three burning issues: gays, Mexicans, and no-zoning. What? Was the sapping of our precious bodily fluids already taken?

At least now the Republican primary will be a spectacle.

We can make it through The Daily Show usually, but The Colbert Report is just 30 minutes too late for us usually, so we missed the launching of Stephen Colbert's vendetta against U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel this week. Emanuel let it be known that he was advising freshmen Democrats in the U.S. House to stay off Colbert's "Better Know a District" segments, a bit of ill-advised high-handedness which brought on a full blast of the Master Colbert's mock self-righteousness:
"There is a new witch hunt in Washington. First they went after Scooter Libby. Then it was Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. And now the Democratic leadership has unleashed a vicious attack on everything America holds dear: me."

Emanuel ought to know better. And we predict he'll end up going on The Colbert Report to eat a generous helping of crow.

We've got most of our garden seeds in hand, just waitin', but we've already planted some kohlrabi, since it prefers cold nights, and it's gotten to be time to get some onion sets in the ground. Haven't made the rounds yet to see who has green onion sets. Anyone see any yet on the open market locally?

And we know, we KNOW (before you lecture us) that this is probably a forward and therefore a false spring, but we're not talking Impatiens here. We're talking snow peas and lettuces of several kinds and carrots, for early planting. No beans until May 20th. Lord no!

"Tagging" -- graffiti -- is definitely on the rise, the marking with spray paint, on public and private surfaces, of gang insignias.

Both sheriff candidates last fall warned about the rise of gang activity in Watauga County. Like dreaded prophecy, these warnings seem to be coming true.

This is an open thread for anybody with evidence you're willing to share of a growing public safety problem.

(There's actually an entire website, the NC Gang Investigators Assoc., dedicated to this topic, and it only took about 10 minutes of browsing there for the hairs to lift on the back of our neck.)

A new reader in a comment thread down-column asked about searching our archives. At the moment, that is apparently not possible, but Google should catch up soon, once its "spiders" have found our new site and swarmed it. We'll try to let you know. The search tool is in place: at the very top of this page, you should see a small text box next to the words "Search Blog." But, as we said, it's not working yet. You can, however, still browse the archives by clicking on any of the months represented in the list to the right.

1. The last remaining "marriages" between N.C. Baptists and higher education have "chafed" to the point that divorce is now not only inevitable but being sanctioned by the denomination itself as a good thing. Wake Forest University and Meredith College severed their ties to the Baptist State Convention years ago. Now Campbell University in Buies Creek, Chowan University in Murfreesboro, Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, Mars Hill College in Mars Hill, and Wingate University in Wingate will follow that course. Rev. Allan Blume, Boone megachurch pastor and president of the convention's executive committee, put a happy face on this development, while muttering under his breath, "Don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out!"

2. Thought the state had a moratorium on industrial-sized hog farms? Well, we do, but the moratorium had enough exceptions written into its language to yield us a net increase of 73 new hog farms, 25 expanded hog farms, and four reactivated hog farms. Showing a remarkable ability to state the obvious, the director of the NC Sierra Club said, "The moratorium isn't working."

3. It's finally dawned on us why Boone developer Phil Templeton is so pissed off. He's mad because the Mayor would not accept his cash. It's a rare political moment when an elected official is viciously criticized for not profiting from the office.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Welcome, new readers, sent our way by Phil Templeton! (scroll down to "Clearing the Air") You'll find the trade here rough, though we only do human sacrifice one day a month, on the second Monday usually, though we're flexible.

Warning -- wear a shower cap, 'cause we're notorious for brain-washing. Lather, rinse, repeat. Works like a charm. People exit clean as a whistle, unaccountably cheerful.

And, of course, we allow no freedom of expression here. All those comments under postings below are totally manufactured by ... let's call them "elves," though they resemble more the extras in "Dawn of the Dead" ... housed permanently in our basement. And though we feed them on San Francisco values -- well, actually grilled tofu and mixed vegetables -- they have hot tempers like beef-eaters. Their noggins are mushy, though, not unlike their typing.

Holy cow! A leading conservative website in NC publishes an extensive screed about the need to regulate development on steep slopes. My, my, my. To find sentiments like this on a site dominated by no-zoners: "Developers have profited greatly from this laissez-faire regulatory environment and have been allowed to place homes virtually any where they please."

Interesting also because we understand that a bill has been or will be introduced soon in the NC legislature to impose state standards on mountain counties to certify "buildability" on slopes. We'll see how that plays.

The Politico is reporting an inside tip that John Edwards will suspend his campaign for president at noon today, because Elizabeth's breast cancer is no longer in remission.

UPDATE: Cancer has come back but is "treatable," and they are going on with the presidential campaign. So much for The Politico's reliable sources.

AND YES, they ARE a class act.


Finally, someone with AUTHORITY arrived in North Carolina to tell the Baptists who to vote for!

Rev. Richard Land, of iPootValues fame, was in Raleigh yesterday and delivered The Tablets to the faithful:

1. Baptists are NOT to vote for Rudy Giuliani.

2. Baptists are NOT to vote for Newt Gingrich.

3. Baptists are NOT to vote for Mitt Romney until he certifies that the Mormon Church won't "dictate" to him (at least not like Rev. Land dictates to Baptists).

In the most surprising revelation of the day, apparently the threshold for adultery has been lowered a notch: in ruling out both Giuliani and Gingrich, who've each been married three times, Rev. Land said, "Three is one marriage too many for them." Now, we're no whizzes at math, but we would have expected a slightly different benchmark, as in "Three is TWO marriages too many," but evidently The Almighty has lowered that bar just a smidgen, considering the field of Republican candidates He has to work with this time.

The former vice president has grown in stature (in more ways than one) since winning the election of 2000, and he proved it again yesterday on the Hill in testimony in both the House and the Senate. Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), one of the petroleum boys, made a fool out of himself on the Senate side, and then stalked out of the hearing in apparent recognition of that fact.

On the House side, petroleum toady Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) attacked Gore as best he could, and when Al came back at him with the "earth has a fever" rebuttal that made every evening news hour last night, Barton theatrically started reading the newspaper to signal his lack on interest.

Barton (and Inhofe too) was burnt because his own colleagues wouldn't follow his lead in attacking. The best line of the day belonged to Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), who followed Bartlett and said rather drily:

"It's possible to be a conservative without appearing to be an idiot."

Possible, but obviously very difficult.

When and if Al Gore gets into this presidential race, the whole landscape will shift dramatically, and sourpusses like us will have something to smile about.

Open the cupboard door marked "Political Manipulation of Government Investigations," and look what pathetic sack of bones comes tumbling out!

NOTE: That's former NC-11 Congressman Charlie Taylor pictured on the left above.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


With reference to postings down-column about Boone Town Councilman Dempsey Wilcox caving in to every developer who comes along but most especially to ASU, we received this suggestion from a reader:
Why doesn't the university purchase the Hardee's property adjacent to the Convocation Center (owned -- jointly? -- by Jim Hastings' son-in-law and Hastings himself?) and put their 8-story College of Education there. Then modern ASU is extending in the direction of the hotel they recently converted to a dormitory and the museum they recently converted to a nursing program. It is much more appropriate placed there -- will not be an eyesore. Then downtown Boone can continue to have the charm that makes it so nice. They could even make the first floor a Hardee's and a Blockbuster and whatever else college students are interested in frequenting.
Maybe someone should suggest this option to the appropriate ASU people.

We were told just last night by an ASU insider that indeed the Hastings property had been eyed by ASU -- or maybe it was the other way around -- and that the asking price is approximately 16 jillion dollars.

Otherwise it's a fine idea.

Quote of the Day: maybe people won't have to tune in and hear me screeching....
--Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton

Now, granted the senator was talking about a certain YouTube clip of her singing the Star Spangled Banner, badly (no big whoop, since whoever sang it well is probably not on the planet currently, but never mind), and speculating that the now infamous "1984" YouTube bit is a good thing for her because it makes people forget about her singing so poorly. She said that here.

Her self-criticism about "screeching" became specific to me this a.m. as I awoke to the sound of her strident hectoring on NPR, and between the pillow and getting up to let the dogs out, I thought, "This voice is going to wear a gash in my psyche before this campaign is over."

What was she talking about this morning? I don't know and frankly don't want to know. She was just this side of yelling, raising her voice over the applause of a crowd, maybe, reminding me what a chore the 2008 Democratic National Convention is going to be.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Get tough on illegal immigration? Why, sure, but have the courage to face what that's going to mean to all those vaulted "family values" you like to brag about, Madam Foxx. This is just one story of the families being ripped apart in the current crackdown.

Buried in this story covering the Pentagon war protest last Saturday are these two paragraphs of local interest:
Police on horseback and foot separated the two groups of demonstrators, who shouted at each other from opposite sides of Constitution Avenue in view of the Lincoln Memorial before the anti-war group marched. Barriers also kept them apart.

But war protester Susanne Shine of Boone, N.C., found herself in a crowd of counterdemonstrators, and came out in tears, with her sign in shreds. "They ripped up my peace sign," she said, after police escorted her, her husband and two adult daughters from the group. "It was really pretty scary for me."

Thanks to NW for passing on the link.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Not only has failed NC Senate candidate David Blust signed on as the new vice chair of the Watauga County Republican Party, to pull its collective chestnuts out of the fire, but the congenitally under-informed ex-county commissioner has felt obliged to rush into print to defend Madam Virginia Foxx's dismal voting record in regard to the (mis)treatment of war veterans (scroll down to "Veteran's benefits have not been cut").

Mr. Blust, true to form, offers no proof whatsoever that Madam Foxx has never voted to cut veterans benefits. Plus he feels empowered to tell the mother of a Marine serving in Iraq that "Your letter is all political and on top of that you don't even tell the truth."

Well, here's at least a part of the truth of The Madam's dismal record:

* She voted for final passage of a $2.6 trillion budget conference report that cut funding for veterans' health care by $13.5 billion over five years (HR 95, Vote #149, 4/28/2005)
* She voted against a budget proposal that would have increased veterans' health care by $2.9 billion (HRS 95, Vote #82, 3/17/2005)
* She voted against an amendment to the Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affairs funding bill to add $53 million for veterans' health care (HR 2528, Vote #224, 5/26/2005) ... a motion that failed by ONE VOTE -- Madam Foxx's
* She voted against a proposal to the Fiscal 2005 Appropriations bill to increase funding for military health care by $100 million (HR 1268, Vote #76, 3/16/2005)

As to Mr. Blust's own inability to read, or to face the facts, we can only quote his own words back at him: "Your letter is all political and on top of that you don't even tell the truth."

Several from Boone went to this protest march & rally on Saturday. We heard from one participant:
My daughter and I went, along with some other folks from Boone. There were several local churches actively supporting the march there, most visibly the Unitarian Universalists, an Episcopalian group, and the First Baptist Church of Fayetteville.

There were several hundred marchers, many less than in previous years because many vets and others were at Saturday's march on the Pentagon in DC. But the 3-hour rally program was great and the event was quite inspiring, with powerful a capella singing from Holly Near, rousing speeches from NC NAACP president and vice president (taking strong stands on the price we all pay for a war economy), the head of Veterans for Peace, several Iraq vets, and a Gold Star mom whose son was killed in Iraq.


Last Thursday the Boone Town Council voted 4-1 to pull the plug on a misguided attempt to accommodate Appalachian State University, a measure that would have allowed this Town Council, or any subsequent council, to micromanage all sorts of development projects, not just University ones, and to give themselves the power to grant approval to any project they deemed worthy, despite existing ordinances prohibiting said development.

This initiative grew out of ASU’s attempt to wedge an out-size new College of Education into space between First Baptist Church and the Presbyterian Church, in violation of several existing town ordinances regulating buffers, set-backs, height, etc.

In a letter to the editor (scroll down) published in Friday’s Watauga Democrat, the day after the Town Council squelched the idea, county resident Margaret Eggers criticized the initiative as a power-grab: " is not logical for the Boone Town Council to grant itself the 'super powers' to decide whether it can override the very ordinances which it itself passed in the first place!"

We agree.

Currently, town ordinances grant the Town Council the power to permit a proposed development according to a site-specific development plan. But a developer must meet all the requirements of the zoning district where s/he wishes to build.

For instance, if a developer wants to build a small grocery store to serve a specific neighborhood's needs, and wants to build that grocery in an area zoned only for residential use, s/he could approach the Council and ask for special permission to do so. If the Council, after considering the neighborhood's concerns, decides it is a good idea and a proper use in the district, it can allow the permit, but the development would still have to meet all regulations for setbacks, buffers, height regulations, etc. that are required in that residential zone.

The proposal that was voted down last Thursday night would have given the Council the power to allow the same neighborhood grocery even if it didn't meet all the regulations of the zoning district.

We agree with Margaret Eggers that such a change would have been disastrous for the Town of Boone. Should that "text amendment" be enacted, all zoning in the town would be effectively rendered meaningless, since the Town Council could have permitted whatever it pleased, wherever it pleased, regardless of existing zoning. An Auto Zone in University Village, for example, or a strip mall on Stadium Drive, maybe. Bad examples, perhaps, but that was certainly the implication of what was proposed. Any bully developer could conceivably in the future ramrod just about anything through, given the right set of Town Council members.

Margaret Eggers was wrong about one thing, however. She predicted that the ordinance "will surely pass the March 19 hearing and vote." In its 4-1 vote, the Town Council canceled the special March 19th hearing and killed the initiative stone cold dead.

Only one council member argued for and then voted to keep the power grab on the table: Dempsey Wilcox.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert of Charlotte was on the original list of U.S. attorneys deemed ripe for firing. Her name showed up in a list titled "USAs [U.S. attorneys] We Now Should Consider Pushing Out."

Speculation (scroll down to "The One That Got Away") is pretty strong that she was fingered because she prosecuted a big-time state Republican, Sam Currin, a former U.S. attorney himself who was also a former Superior Court judge and former chairman of the state Republican Party. Shappert brought seven felony charges against Currin, including tax fraud conspiracy, perjury, obstruction of justice, and witness tampering in a fraud case involving offshore investments. He's awaiting sentencing.

The politicizing of our justice system can perilously close to smacking hard in North Carolina. With the scandal now in full cry over the seven dismissed U.S. attorneys, probably Ms. Shappert's job is safe for now. Mebbe.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


Rev. Rich Cizik ... the National Association of Evangelicals' (NAE) vice president for governmental affairs.

He's appeared in this space before, not long ago, for his leadership in the dawning of environmental stewardship among evangelicals, "creation care," as he calls it.

And for that stand, this very conservative Christian (he voted for Ronald Reagan twice, for George W. Bush twice) has come under attack from the mullahs of the Christian Right, James Dobson, Richard Land, Jerry Falwell, Tony Perkins, etc.

Why? Explains E.J. Dionne Jr. in the WashPost, because the primary goal of the mullahs is not religious salvation for the masses but saving the political fortunes of a very narrow class of Republican politicians.

Cizik has recently been ratified in his environmentalism by the NAE. And it will be not only interesting to watch this struggle go forward but also vital to the future of what American religion can and should be.


Having cornered the market on everything else in rural America, Wal-Mart (somewhat unbelieveably) gave up on trying to corner all your bankable money too. The mega-corp has withdrawn its application to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. for a bank charter.

Stuff like this YouTube hit on Sen. John Edwards is far more powerful than thousands of dollars worth of negative advertising.

Hint to politicians: never primp if there's a camera turned on in your general vicinity.


We got the e-mail last night. People are planning to gather at Congresswoman Virginia Foxx's office (240 Hwy 105 Ext.) at 11 a.m. Monday morning .... for the fourth anniversary of the start of America's first pre-emptive and trumped up invasion, the conflict The Madam continues to flog as the greatest thing since sliced bread.

We've been delving for several months into the black & white movies made after World War II and up into the early 1950s, the movies our parents went to see but wouldn't let us attend, stories about strong women and weak men where everyone was smoking all the time (in more ways than one), and the narratives -- often difficult to follow in their twists and turns -- hinged on murder and betrayal and defeat. These movies were NOT known at the time as "film noir." They were more often called "crime thrillers" or "suspense." Film noir (literally, dark film) is the term given them a decade or more later by certain French critics who fell in love with their look, their mood, their aroma of desperation.

Get yourself on down to Fat Cats and look for these titles:

Night and the City 1950 (memorable in every way, from Richard Widmark as a pathetic loser, to the circumstances of its making ... filmed in London because its director, Jules Dassin, had been fingered by the black list as a dangerous subversive)

Gun Crazy 1949 (it's a woman, first, who matches the description of that title)

Out of the Past 1947 (Robert Mitchum, caught in a web, with Kirk Douglas as the head spider and Jane Greer as a great assistant spider)

Detour 1945 (the appropriately named actress Ann Savage plays about the nastiest femme in film noir)

Thieves Highway 1949 (getting golden delicious apples to the San Francisco vegetable & fruit market was never more difficult, with Richand Conte, who went on to be a two-bit hood in The Godfather)

He Walked By Night 1948 (in fact, anything with Richard Basehart, including especially the incredible man-on-a-ledge 14 Hours. Whoa!)

No Way Out 1950 (Richard Widmark playing a rabid bigot in Sidney Poitier's first movie)

The Lady from Shanghai 1948 (Orson Welles, with his recently divorced ex-wife Rita Hayworth, as a blond)

The Postman Always Rings Twice 1946 (not the Jessica Lange/Jack Nicholson so-so remake but the Lana Turner/John Garfield original. Lana's entrance in white-white shorts is not to be missed, nor is John Garfield's personal life story ... another actor fingered as a subversive and ruined by the Commie scare of the early 1950s)

The good news is that all of these old movies -- and a whole bunch more! -- are out on DVD. If you used to like movies but find less and less at the modern, over-priced box office to tickle your intellect, these old titles will reinvigorate your love of film.

The replacement member of the NC House for Jim Black's vacated seat has been chosen by the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party executive committee ... 28-year-old Tricia Cotham, who comes from a family with a long pedigree in Democratic Party activism.

She's recommended to Gov. Easley who will actually appoint her. She'll be the youngest member of the NC House.

She was running for the post against three men, and she pretty much skunked them in the vote, winning 23 out of 32 of the voting members.
Cotham overcame complaints that she didn't live in the district. She put her home in Mint Hill up for sale and moved into a townhouse in the district's Sardis Forest neighborhood this month.

And she's already received some potshots from the progressive community, i.e., BlueNC. But the vast majority of the MeckCo executive committee seemed to think she was IT, and frankly she sounds like she's tough enough to play.

Friday, March 16, 2007


The High Country Press was the only local paper to give in-depth coverage of last Saturday's Republican County Convention, but we can't find Ron Fitzwater's article on-line. In it, Congresswoman Virginia Foxx's keynote address is given extensive space, including her hilarious whining about the nasty ole Democrats who are keeping her in Washington five days a week, when she'd rather be home LISTENING to her constituents.
[Democrats] don't want to hear what you have to say. They want to deal with the lobbyists and special interest groups. Well, Republicans take the opposite point of view. We think the wisdom of the world is out in our districts, and we want to be out here.

Cracked us up. When's the last time you heard about The Madam actually listening to anyone who doesn't already agree with her? And far be it from her to pay attention to lobbyists and special interest groups. The PACs that give her the big bucks are surely not treated as coldly as she treats Watauga County.

In the Alterno World of Foxx, she apparently WON her home county by over a thousand votes, rather than the other way around.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Head of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., Dr. Albert Mohler, has written up his sunny appraisal that once homosexuality is proven to be a biological and/or genetic imposition on human behavior, rather than a life-style option, he would enthusiastically applaud any medical science that allowed the doctors to muck around in the mother's womb pre-birth to make the homosexuality go away. He writes:
If a biological basis [for homosexuality] is found, and if a prenatal test is then developed, and if a successful treatment to reverse the sexual orientation to heterosexual is ever developed, we would support its use as we should unapologetically support the use of any appropriate means to avoid sexual temptation and the inevitable effects of sin.

The first part of that sentence is loopy enough, bringing a new level of design to boutique babies, but the second part is even loopier when you think about it: "we should unapologetically support the use of any appropriate means to avoid sexual temptation...."

Chastity belts for all!

We predict Dr. Mohler's presidency of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville is going to receive a little uterine tune-up in the very near future.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Hanging out with the Blue Dogs, you sometimes pick up a tick. A big one in this case.

Shuler might take a lesson from John Edwards.

The Watauga County Republican Party needed to find a new face for itself, and it did last Saturday. It elected Dr. James Goff, a history prof at ASU, as its new chair. Goff is author of "Close Harmony: A History of Southern Gospel," published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2002. The introductory chapter of the book is on-line here on the UNC website and is all the more interesting for putting the people I grew up among at the very center of U.S. history. These were and are people who never thought they might be important, never suspected that their religious traditions actually defined American democracy, but their music soared. Cotton field sinners and saints alike might have guffawed at the thought that what they thought and how they sang was important, but there they are in Goff's book, and he's done a good job with them.

Dr. Goff's other current distinction is that he co-hosts "The Right Side" with Jim Hastings on WATA on Wednesday mornings, which is not exactly a new face for the Republican Party. Quite the contrary, "The Right Side" is the old face, the angry face, the downright scowling face, the I'm-agin-it-if-I-didn't-think-of-it-first visage, the rich man's frowning mug -- mad about taxes, mad about new schools because they come with taxes, mad about poor people sucking at the rich man's teat all day long and all night long and in between too, mad about guvmint because it runs on taxes and persecutes the successful and even prosecutes the successful for not paying enough taxes, all of which means guvmint and Democrats need to go straight to hell and will go straight to hell, too, and TOGETHER, since guvmint IS Democrats, the godless, communist, socialist, gay, tree-huggin' bunch of 'em!

THAT face of the Republican Party.

Dr. Goff is the quieter, nicer counterpart to the west wind that blows perpetually hot out of Jim Hastings, who was himself both the local Republican Party chair and the state of North Carolina Republican Party chair, until a scandal about unpaid taxes forced his resignation from the latter office.

So the question naturally presents itself about this "new face" of the Republican Party. Does an independent mind come with that face, and Gospel instincts, or is the new face really just a pleasant mask to hide what has not and will not change at all, for if "The Right Side" is any indication of trends in the local Republican Party, it's in fact in the process of contorting itself into something uglier, angrier, and more extreme than we've previously seen.

Some have taken Mr. Hastings' recent attacks on "socialist Boone" and on Mayor Loretta Clawson, along with the revelations of his hand in all that trumped up Templeton tempest (mentioned in Jason Reagan's recent editorial in the Watauga Democrat), as proof positive that the Republican Party, rather than trending toward the sunny side of the street, is prepared rather to root deeper into the dark of the shade.

In between singing gospel songs, my mother liked to warn me that I would be known for the company I kept. Wasn't any way out of that. She would know what I was becoming by the friends I made, by the pack I ran with.

It's my reasonable expectation that that old doctrine still holds true. We shall see who's actually running the Watauga County Republican Party soon enough, and what face it will show us.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


I've taken some heat for saying the Dems -- specifically John Edwards -- should debate on Fox News (see "A Domino Theory" below), despite how much I disdain the network for the way it's beat the drum for neoconservative warmongering, etc. (and that "et cetera" covers a LOT of provocation, rest assured). Not all the heat I've taken is apparent in the comments posted below. Some of it is apparent only in the way my wife has eyed me across the dinner table and in an off-hand comment she made yesterday, along the lines of "I think you're freakin' wrong about frickin' Fox News."

Haven't changed my mind.

But am interested to see if the high dudgeon of Fox News commentators, who are currently and loudly calling the Dems netroots the equivalent of Nazis and Soviet-era Stalinists for urging the Fox boycott, will hold in light of Air America's offer to sponsor Republican candidate debates. Consistency might demand the Fox blowhards urge their would-be standard-bearers to appear in debates sponsored by their most liberal rival media outlet.

The cranky old man to the left is a self-portrait made immediately after encountering my ten thousandth four hundred & fifty-sixth automobile driver talking on a cell phone while allegedly driving their cars.

I get treated to other people's cell phone conversations in the grocery store, standing in line for coffee, even once during a prayer in church. Never was Maxwell Smart's "Cone of Silence" more needed.

But people driving while talking on cell phones are a threat to life and limb, unlike the jerks in line to pay for popcorn, who are merely rude and self-involved.

"Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. surveyed 1,200 drivers and reported in January that 73 percent of them phone while they drive. More than 40 countries from Australia to Zimbabwe have banned the use of hand-held phones while driving. So have the District of Columbia and four states including California."

The North Carolina legislature decided last year to deny the right to phone while driving to those under 18, but what a crock! A 45-year-old with a cell phone is every bit as distracted as a 17-year-old with a hot date on Friday night.

Rep. Paul Luebke of Durham is trying to change that. We wish him good luck but predict he'll have approximately zero success. Even members of the legislature love their cell phones.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


The showdown between Mullah James Dobson, whose moral indignation runs the gamut from gay marriage to lesbian adoption, and the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), who have decided that global warming just might be a "moral issue," came to a (pardon the expression) head this weekend. The NAE reaffirmed "creation care" as a new part of its Christian agenda.

Meanwhile, the gnashing of teeth among Dobson, Gary Bauer, Tony Perkins, and other Christian Right tools of the conservative movement threatened to drown out the heavenly choir.


First, it was Markos at dKos calling on Democratic presidential candidates to refuse to participate in a Fox News-sponsored debate in Nevada in August.

Sen. John Edwards toppled first. He announced he would boycott said debate.

Then in a speech Roger Ailes, Fox News chief, told a series of jokes, riffing on Osama bin Laden, ending with this:
And it is true that Barack Obama is on the move. I don't know if it's true that President Bush called Musharraf and said, "Why can't we catch this guy?"

To be perfectly technical, Ailes' joke was at the dim-witted president's expense, not Barak's, but the Nevada Democratic Party, which had agreed to accept Fox News as a sponsor of the presidential debate that John Edwards was making hay on boycotting, immediately seized on the Ailes joke as a pretext for canceling the debate altogether. Ailes "went too far," said Nevada State Democratic Party Chairman Tom Collins and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, speaking in unison as quickly as possible.

We're no fan of Fox News. But this approach to dealing with its "fauxness" is just dumb. Staging boycotts does not debilitate the enemy. Boycotts do exactly the opposite, puff the enemy up into a huge bogeyman. Holding up Fox's "fair & balanced" coverage to ridicule, a la Jon Stewart, is a far more productive approach.

So we find ourselves in some agreement with the jowly gnome who runs Fox. Thursday night Roger Ailes said:
Any candidate for high office from either party who believes he can blacklist any news organization is making a terrible mistake about journalists .... Recently, pressure groups are forcing candidates to conclude that the best strategy for journalists is divide and conquer, to only appear on those networks and venues that give them favorable coverage.

The course John Edwards has set out on, and which other Democrats are copying, will become increasingly difficult to maintain, and counter-productive, to boot.

Take a lesson from Jon Stewart, boys!

Saturday, March 10, 2007


"In politics, when the folks at home -- who know you best -- start voting for someone else it's time to find a new occupation."

Carter Wrenn wrote the above sentence with John Edwards in mind -- since Edwards, according to new polls, is struggling to stay even in North Carolina with Hillary and Barak -- but how appropriate is that line for Carter's fellow arch-conservative Virginia Foxx?

Perhaps we should start a contest: "Other Occupations Virginia Foxx Is Cut Out For."

paint stripper
fight club promoter
immigrant relocation services
rubberstamp supplies
seamless guttering
clear cutting
massage therapist

Sen. Burr took time off yesterday from defending Big Tobacco's right to hook yet another generation on death to endorse a fading horse in the Republican presidential sweepstakes.

John McCain ain't looking all that hot at the moment.

Some formerly high-powered fellow N.C. Republicans have also endorsed McCain, viz. perennial also-ran Richard Vinroot and "get-me-off-this-sinking-ship" Ferrell Blount, the former NC Republican Party chair who resigned on Election Day last November.

With support like that in N.C., McCain seems like a tired idea indeed.

Friday, March 09, 2007


Apparently, there are 143,074 suspected terrorists or terrorist-symphs in the United States.

Or, rather, the FBI felt they needed to gather private information on 143,074 American citizens from "telephone companies, Internet service providers and financial institutions." Why? Someone had it in for them for a variety of reasons not necessarily nor strictly limited to "terrorist" activity.

So there's FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III apologizing today for his agency's going waaay too far under the authority of the U.S.A Patriot Act.

He ought to do more than apologize. He ought to RESIGN and take A.G. Alberto Gonzales with him.

Whilst Newt Gingrich was persecuting Bill Clinton for sex, he was having extramarital sex. We knew THAT even before it got into the newspapers this a.m.

And whilst Ann Coulter was calling John Edwards a "faggot" at the CPAC meeting last weekend, she was being photographed with a former gay porn star (we hesitate to touch this with a ten-foot pole, so to speak, and not to brag, but we wouldn't open this trail to the source of the evidence while children are present ... if you get our drift).

On the queer-fear front in North Carolina, this posting at "The Progressive Pulse" nicely sums up the hypocrisy of Called2Action's claiming it's for "One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."


If you've been keeping up, you may recall that the Jackson County Commission held a public hearing in Sylva back at the end of February to consider a moratorium on subdivisions while new steep-slope building regs are considered. Over a thousand people showed up, many of them the burly employees of cement producers who lined the roads with their big rigs and crowded the hearing room with their big shoulders in a show of force to intimidate the commissioners into dropping their moratorium.

The commissioners did not cave. Last night, in fact, they passed the moratorium 4-1.

Standing up to rich-man bullying is never easy. For example, local developer Phil Templeton has declared jihad against the Town of Boone. He did not like Boone's own steep-slope regs and helped stage a big show of force against them at a public hearing (not unlike the Jackson County event in tone and scope), yet Boone Town officials held firm and passed compromise regs.

Templeton then tried to put a 10,000-square-foot "medical facility" in a single-family neighborhood, but the neighborhood, including Mayor Loretta Clawson, who lives there and who testified as an interested citizen, presented convincing evidence to the Board of Adjustment that the development would negatively impact their safety and their property values. The Board of Adjustment turned Templeton down, unanimously, we believe.

The threat to the neighborhood of an out-sized medical facility led to a draft rewriting of the town's ordinances to prohibit such developments in single-family districts. Last night a public hearing was held on that rewritten ordinance. Phil Templeton did not show up to testify against it, but he had done his durnedest to scare the town off-scent.

Mere days prior to the public hearing, he accused the Mayor of unethical behavior and induced the local press to publish his allegations. He was also given a radio platform by Jim Hastings, the local owner of every Hardee's between here and eternity. Hastings, on "The Right Side" on WATA, has been blasting Boone generally and the Mayor specifically as "socialist" and as a threat to free rich men everywhere. (If you're still dropping coin on Hardee's, shame on you.)

Mr. Templeton's main complaint, best we can tell, is that he HASN'T been able to buy the world and specifically Mayor Clawson's small homestead, and he's not going to put up with it any more.

These guys have been flailing wildly on the radio. They've impugned the intelligence, not to mention the motives, of Mayor Clawson and all the Town Council, save Dempsey Wilcox (about whom they feel understandably warm & fuzzy). Mr. Hastings, particularly, has been positively Coulter-esque. Which, evidently, makes him well qualified to chair the local Republican County Convention this Saturday. He knows a lot about raw meat.

Pray God the Age of Bullies is passing in small-town politics.

Mr. Hastings, who was present at the hearing last night, actually got up and stormed out of the room while a speaker was warning the Council against "bad men with bad motives." We can't wait to read his remarks to the Republican Convention this weekend!

After the hearing, Mr. Hastings' co-host on "The Ride Side" approached Mayor Clawson and said he'd "love" to have her on the show. Suddenly "balance" appears to be a concern, at least to Mr. Hastings' partner. Mayor Clawson was heard to respond that she was not interested in being on their show but that she and her lawyer are interested in getting audio tapes of the last three months' worth of "The Right Side."

Back in the Stone(d) Age, we called this "taking it to the streets."

Now it's called walking into the Congressperson's district office and dusting the credenza with the hot breath of displeasure.

Considering how our congresswoman LOVES to hear from her constituents, we're sure she'll bake cookies and make Kool-Aid.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Congresswoman Virginia Foxx will keynote the Republican County Convention this Saturday, 10:30, at the County Courthouse.

The throngs! The panic-stricken extras! The velociraptors, picking off the slow-witted in the high grass!

Ada Fisher, who ran against Mel Watt in the NC-12, and who is certifiable as not only a conservative but an African-American conservative, has nothing good to say about Ann Coulter's performance last weekend at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Been waiting for someone to put together a coherent discussion of why the Christian Right mullahs, from Dobson to Scarborough, wanted Rev. Richard Cizik fired from his job with the National Association of Evangelicals. Here 'tis (and hint: it has nothing to do with closeted sexual behavior ... for a change).

Quite a scene in Raleigh yesterday ... a rally for people who are not being forced to marry someone of the same sex saying they WILL NOT marry someone of the same sex, and are prepared to burn a few fornicators at the stake to boot, which just goes to show you how deeply into the closet some Christian right-wingers are prepared to hide themselves.

Noted: Senate leader Marc Basnight and House leader Joe Hackney were not impressed.

What was this rally, really? This posting at NCBlue, quoting Laura Leslie, makes the most logical sense. It was a campaign rally for Republican gubernatorial hopeful Fred Smith, and we certainly want to do what WE can to support his success in that party.

He's EXACTLY the kind of bigot we want running as a Republican for governor.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Our in-boxes have been dinging all morning. Notes of sympathy from all over the country from people who had heard about our 5th District Congresswoman Virginia Foxx but who got a load of her themselves this a.m. on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal." (You can find a button here to watch it yourself, or use it to strip those kitchen chairs you've been meaning to refinish.)

"We are sooo sorry for your burden," they write.

Here's what we learned:

1. There's no accountability in government bureaucracies because Democrats ran the government for a long time, DECADES AGO.

2. Democrats hate the military and always have.

3. The current scandal about wounded-veteran care is being stirred up by the press. Conditions really aren't that bad, and 90% of veterans are DEE-LITED with the way the Bush administration has treated them.

4. We need more privatization.

5. "It's all about ME: I run my office like a saint ... I'm the most responsive member of Congress ... I care deeply about all my constituents ... I'm the very model of a modern major member."

Take your pick of what galls you the most. Personally, and considering the Watauga County Democratic Party has raised thousands of dollars to support the Family Readiness Group of the 1451st Transportation Company of the local National Guard, number 2 above was particularly gratuitous and insulting.

She's entitled to her own hair-raising partisanship but she's not entitled to her own facts.

Our Congresswoman Virginia Foxx followed Bob Filner (D-Calif.) on the "Washington Journal" this morning. Foxx said, verbatim:
"I was a little surprised when I heard Bob Filner in the earlier session say that what we have to do is hug and love our veterans. Uh, that's never been something that the Democrats have done. Uh, the Republicans have, I think, very much loved and hugged our veterans and been extremely grateful to them for what they've done. But they haven't received the respect I think they should have received from the Democrats. It's the Democrats who are always talking about cutting the budgets and not respecting, I think, our military like we should."
Just for the record.

Monday, March 05, 2007


Did you see Madam Virginia Foxx turn shades of beige today when the Congressional panel she was a part of started burrowing into privatization as the original fount for conditions at Walter Reed Hospital and the deplorable way American soldiers have been treated there (not to mention elsewhere in the Army medical establishment, about which we're only just beginning to learn).

Privatization has been Madam's Foxx hobby horse for a long time, at least since she was elected to the N.C. Senate in 1994.

How privatization squares with the Madam's other supposed hobby horse, accountability, is nowhere explained.

Except maybe here.

The Progressive Pulse points out that...
Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina is once again spearheading the opposition against regulation of the tobacco industry. ... He is joined in opposition by Senator Elizabeth Dole and NC Reps. Mike McIntyre, Robin Hayes, and Virginia Foxx.
Then this:
...if you follow the money of tobacco industry contributions to Congress ... you will find Senator Burr's name at the very top. ... Similarly, in 2002 Sen. Dole was number three, and in 2006 Reps. Hayes, McIntyre, and Foxx were numbers 10, 13, and 19 respectively.
Bought and paid for. A little campaign cash can cause you to defend to the death a tar and nicotine delivery industry that has made death-dealing not only a science but an art.

Was watching Congresswoman Virginia Foxx a few moments ago on C-SPAN, doing her best to feign concern for the treatment of wounded soldiers in Army rehab units ("It doesn't do us any good to place blame," sez the Rubber Stamper) ... when I ran across Newt Gingrich's comments about Katrina victims and realized you just can't soften an iron heart that easily.

How can you have the mess we have in New Orleans, and not have had deep investigations of the federal government, the state government, the city government, and the failure of citizenship in the Ninth Ward, where 22,000 people were so uneducated and so unprepared, they literally couldn't get out of the way of a hurricane.
We're assured that the emphasis on "and" above was in the original, and it's fairly crucial to Mr. Gingrich's political philosophy. The real culprits in the Katrina disaster? Why, the victims. Why couldn't they just climb into their SUVs and get the hell out of New Orleans, like, maybe go to their summer places early? Uneducated scum!

"The failure of citizenship"? It's the lack of empathy that's even more amazing.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


The Asheville City Council took steps this past week to institute planning ordinances to ban gated subdivisions. For the health of the community, that's a no-brainer. For some developers, it's whine-inducing:
Newcomers, many of whom come from California and Florida, expect gates to protect amenities for which they pay extra, including clubhouses, golf courses and swimming pools, said Cathey Bailey, owner of Biltmore Realty.
Don't come NEAR my amenities, you PLEBE, you great urban unwashed!

Several years ago, during a previous Boone city government, a gated subdivision was approved for the flank of Howard's Knob up behind the Episcopal church. When some of the public and some on the Planning Commission objected to walling off part of our little mountain town, the developer made representations that he would leave the gate open. They'll drink our water, flush their toilets into our sewer lines, drive on our streets, but aren't of us, you understand.

Open or not, a gate closing off public access to municipal acreage, to give its residents a puffed-up notion of their exclusivity, is not something an American town ought to indulge in. Certainly not to make a few people feel better about themselves.

Saturday, March 03, 2007


...for calling John Edwards "a faggot," in front of a whole passel of super-Christians, who laughed and applauded?

Why, write something like this.

Friday, March 02, 2007


North Carolina is the sixth fastest-growing state in the country. Our population is expected to increase by 50 percent, to more than 12 million people, by 2030.

What are all those people going to drink (other than micro-brews and Yadkin Valley wine)? Where's the water coming from to keep all those people hydrated?

That question was being addressed at a Raleigh conference yesterday. Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt was there and said there's another potential water problem NC had better be preparing for ... rising sea levels.
He predicted North Carolina would be one of the states most affected by rising sea levels, along with Florida and Louisiana, and could see the disintegration of the Outer Banks within the century.
There's no question in our mind that Raleigh's eventually going to be wanting our mountain water for drinking purposes, because they seem to have the same impression that a lot of our mountain natives have, that we have a limitless supply of sparkling clean rushing waters, coming down like righteousness.

On the other hand, maybe we'll also be selling beach-front property in Lenoir by the time the Raleigh crowd figures out how to rook us for our H2O.

Is this bombshell all over the Internets today? News via e-mail (at least) from the Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, a D.C. polling outfit working for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, has filtered out to the NC Mtns that Sen. Liddy Dole ain't in such good shape for her 2008 reelection campaign (assuming she runs, which she says she is but which the smart money in Raleigh still isn't betting on):
Despite enjoying near universal name ID, only 35% of likely North Carolina voters say that they will vote to reelect Dole. Furthermore, fewer than half approve of her job performance as a senator -- 49% rate her performance as excellent or good, while 46% describe it as fair or poor.
Yikes, sez you, if you're working on Liddy's reelection effort.

Hmmm, sez you, if you're Mike Easley.

Plus this further polling of interest, also from Garin-Hart-Yang:
North Carolina voters also overwhelmingly disapprove of the job President Bush is doing, and they believe that the nation is headed in the wrong direction. Bush's net job approval in the survey is 36% to 64%, and only 22% of voters believe the country is on the right track, compared to 68% who believe it is off on the wrong track.
Goll-EEE ... we haven't seen numbers like that previously in North Carolina, have we?

ADDENDUM: The Guv is quoted in today's N&O, taken from the Charlie Rose show, that he wouldn't like the U.S. Senate because he wouldn't be in charge. I'm better "in executive positions," The Guv said.

Look up the word "martinet" in the dictionary, and you just might encounter The Guv's picture.


Much more about this suspended social studies teacher in Raleigh is bound to tumble into the media spotlight in the weeks to come, so it's premature to call out the hounds against him, but it does appear self-evident that he considered his diploma to teach teenagers as a license to proselytize for his particular brand of Christianity.

Mr. Escamilla, the teacher now on paid leave, ushered a Christian evangelist into his classes on Feb. 15th who proceeded to denounce Islam and hand out brochures to the teenagers: "Jesus not Muhammad, Part I," and "Do Not Marry a Muslim Man, Part I." (By implication, it's Part 2 that's inevitably drawn my curiosity.)

In one of those classes sat a girl whose father is a Muslim.

Now other students who've graduated from Enloe High are starting to come forward and talk about Mr. Escamilla's activities over the past 18 years.

Former Enloe students say Escamilla has never made a secret of his Christian beliefs.

"He's always been a very controversial guy at Enloe," said Jaime Zea, 18, who graduated last year and said he bears no grudge against Escamilla. "He's an opinionated teacher, and he's always pushing the envelope." ...

Wei-Chun Wang, who took an Advanced Placement European history class with Escamilla in 2004, said the teacher brought in a creationist without offering a guest visitor on evolution.

Students who took the same class in 2000 said Escamilla showed the movie version of "Left Behind," a popular apocalyptic Christian fiction series that tells of the Rapture in which Christ lifts his followers to heaven before Jesus' eventual return.

Andrea Schrag said that after she graduated in 2000, Escamilla mailed her a copy of "The Case for Christ," a book by popular Christian evangelist Lee Strobel.

"He knew I was Jewish," said Schrag, now a lawyer in Raleigh. "I was outspoken about that."

Maybe Escamilla was a good teacher. The fact that there's not been more hue & cry against him prior to this might be evidence that he was a good teacher, and there are some ex-students cited in this article who say he was fair.

Whether he was and is a good teacher, the evidence quoted above seems to suggest that he was and is also a jerk. Being a jerk doesn't disqualify one from being a teacher (and we WON'T delve too deeply into THAT), but violating the Constitution of the United States MIGHT. We wouldn't want our kids sitting in his classroom, mainly because such proselytizing could permanently turn a good kid against valuable religion ... any more than we'd want our kids sitting in a classroom run by an obnoxious atheist.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


This valuable article in the Asheville Citizen-Times will give you insight into the loss of farms in western North Carolina ... a depressing and perhaps irreversible trend that bodes ill for all of us. North Carolina has lost more than 6,000 farms and 300,000 acres of farmland since 2002, according to our state's Secretary of Agriculture.

Midwestern corporate farming is a big player in depressing beef cattle prices, which is making life for small-scale mountain cattle farmers mostly untenable.

That's one thing. An even bigger factor is soaring land values, which makes it easier to sell out to subdivision developers than hang in as a farmer barely scraping by. "We tend to grow houses now," said the Haywood County extension agent.