Thursday, August 30, 2007

Water Logged

Since the Phil Templeton group, Citizens for Change, has decided to overrun Boone Town government on the issue of water -- its great abundance, in their view, and the “myth” of a water shortage – a few facts might be in order.

2003, late summer/early fall: Town of Boone, faced with low water flow due to drought, is forced to treat its supply for algae

2004, January: facing its own water crisis, the Town of Blowing Rock approaches Boone about buying bulk water. Boone wisely decides first to requisition an engineering report on Boone's actual water capacity before agreeing to sell bulk water

2004, October: Hydrologic engineering report is completed on Boone's water supply. Study forecasts future water needs of 6.8 million gals. per day (at current rate of growth). Town is currently permitted to draw only 3 million gals. per day from its sources. Town immediately forms a Water Committee, consisting of all Town Council members, the Mayor, and members of the community. Phil Templeton is appointed to the Water Committee by then-mayor Velma Burnley. The Water Committee will make recommendations as to policy

2004, Nov. 16: First meeting of Boone's Water Committee, with Phil Templeton present. A search for additional raw water supply is first order of business. Town also initiates discussion with ASU about "water interconnection" (and NOT as claimed on Templeton's website ... ASU does NOT repeatedly "offer" its water to Boone).

2005, January 19: Water Committee adopts draft water allocation ordinance, forwards to Town Council, which adopts it by unanimous vote on January 20, 2005 ("unanimous," including the vote of Dempsey Wilcox, who is now running against the ordinance as one of Templeton's anointed boys).

2005, July 19: Water Committee adopts unanimously (with Phil Templeton present) a recommendation to the Town Council for voluntary water conservation measures

2005, August 15: The last meeting of the Water Committee that Phil Templeton attends. In fact, of 14 meetings of the Water Committee since November 2004, for which minutes have been found, Phil Templeton attended exactly 5. He did not attend a single meeting of the Water Committee during all of 2006 or thus far in 2007.

How Citizens for Change are propagandizing about the water supply in Boone has more to do with wishful thinking than with scientific fact. Town Council member Lynne Mason lays out the facts about water on her website.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

She Thinks ASU is "Hot! Hot! Hot!"?

The YouTube of the addled South Carolina beauty queen has been viewed over a million times now, and we wouldn't recommend it, except that Fox News says she's coming to ASU. (Hat-tip: TD) In fact, she may already be here. NOT enrolled in a geography class, we suspect.

Behind the Headline

The real story that's emerging is that Sen. Larry Craig almost -- ALMOST -- managed to keep his arrest in a Minneapolis men's room secret forever. The hot action happened June 11th, but the Roll Call reporter who finally broke it didn't get the tip until last week.

Interesting piece in Editor & Publisher about how the press behaved in all of this, particularly the Idaho papers. As soon as the Minnesota arrest became public, the Idaho Stateman published its rather fat investigative file on Craig ... including accounts of other alleged gay activity. The paper had launched its investigation when accusations against Craig surfaced on (what else?) a blog, but had failed to publish any of it until Roll Call broke the story on Monday.

"The Statesman's decision not to run its investigation until the arrest had been revealed raises the issue of when a news outlet should both investigate such allegations and report on its findings."

It may surprise the mainstream press people who monitor this site, but we agree that the decision to publish such stuff ain't easy. Don't know what we would have done in that Idaho editor's position, but given Craig's actions in Congress actively to hurt gay people, with his speeches about the "gay agenda" and his self-righteous vote in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, we might have leaned toward exposing his blatant hypocrisy. Maybe we would have at least written an editorial about how public piety at odds with private behavior is the particular curse of the modern Republican Party.

We're gratified, at least, that Craig's hometown paper was investigating.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Speaking of Water

Citizens for Change (a.k.a., Big Developers For Giving Boone Back to Big Developers) has its new website up (yep, Stephen Phillips, there you ARE!), and if you've any doubt of the alternate universe they inhabit, get a load of their "we need to sell as much water as possible in the midst of severe drought" recommendations. (Hat tip:

We'll Take Our Bourbon Straight, Thank You

Mandatory water restrictions now in Hickory.

Boone may be next.

The Notorious Jumping Frog of Cabarrus County

The make-up of the Cabarrus County Commission is all-Republican, but it's far from united. One of its members is the Rev. Coy Privette, recently convicted of aiding and abetting prostitution in two Salisbury hotel rooms. (Well, at least he took her out-of-county!)

Rev. Privette is in (semi)full repentance mode. He's resigned his leadership position with the State Baptist Convention of North Carolina and his presidency of the Christian Action League of NC, but so far he isn't showing positive signs of wanting to resign his seat on the Cabarrus County Commission.

Privette told a fellow commissioner that he's received over 500 cards and letters from citizens begging him not to resign. The commissioner Privette told that to is a member of the other Republican faction. That commissioner had just written Privette asking him to do "the honorable thing" and resign. Privette told him he'd only gotten four requests for his resignation. "No final decision has been made," Privette wrote.

But the Cabarrus County Republican Party's executive committee has now voted, calling for Privette's resignation. Privette will have to decide whether his faction of the party is bigger than their faction (ahem). He's a man who's enjoyed power, so it's going to be tough.

For the sake of hypocrisy connoisseurs everywhere, we pray that Rev. Privette will stoutly resist demands for his resignation. We need him in office preaching at us about how our political opinions undermine this Christian nation.

Now, about Sen. Larry Craig ... who's got those sterling opinion ratings from social conservative groups such as the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, and the Family Research Council ... hypocrisy flavor of the day!

Monday, August 27, 2007


Today's Watauga Democrat contains confirmation of what was first aired on this site in April 2006. The much contested letter from former Sheriff Mark Shook to his chief deputy Paula Townsend, for example, was first published here, in the comment thread to a Glenn Hubbard posting, "Who Shot the Sheriff." (You'll have to scroll waaay down into the comments, but it's there, and it's the same words published in the Watauga Democrat today.)

Forgive us -- or don't -- if we reflect at this time on the "citizen journalism" of blogsites like WataugaWatch ... and coincidentally recall that because of "Who Shot the Sheriff" we were the subject of a lacerating editorial ("Rumor has it...") on April 28, 2006, in the Watauga Democrat, calling for the "eradication" of blogs as a threat to high journalistic standards. (Apparently, the editorial is no longer available on-line, but we summarized its content here.)

Gonzo: "My Incompetence IS My Legacy"

Gone? Well, not until September 17th. There's some packing to do, some rewriting of history, some paper-shredding.

Resigned last Friday, the traditional day for bad-news dumps in this administration, but true to his legacy of effing everything up, he waits until Monday morning to make the announcement. Cable news shows will feast far into the night. And beyond.

And what does he get for being a giant tool? A lousy lunch with El Presidente at the show-ranch in the middle of God-forsaken, burnt-to-a-crisp Texas.

Oh, Bush&Cheney? ... still in office.

Generational Paradigm Shift?

The Peace Corps saw a 37 percent increase in applications from 2001 to 2006, bringing the total number of applications to over 12,000 last year.

AmeriCorps' Volunteers in Service to America program has had a 50 percent increase in applications since 2004.

Teach for America, which puts new college graduates of every major in urban and rural classrooms, had its applications skyrocket to 19,000 last year, an increase of nearly five times what they were in 2000. Participation rates have climbed from about 900 in 2000 to 2,400 last year.

The above volunteerism statistics from the Associated Press ... which suggests a full-blown trend among college students away from the corporate model of success.

Locally, that altruistic impulse is expressed by ASU's impACT program. Those capitalized initials stand for "Appalachian and Community Together." The program has for years worked to connect ASU students as volunteers with the local non-profit community, to the benefit of both.

Whatever the cause for this shift in personal values among 20-somethings, the community as a whole is strengthened and enhanced by the involvement of its young in a future that transcends "career advancement."

Thompson a Turnoff in Indiana

Apparently, Ole Fred emits no quality more than lack of interest.

At the Midwest Republican Leadership Conference in Indianapolis over the weekend, "many of the party activists attending the conference from a dozen heartland states said they were seriously turned off by what they saw as Thompson's ambivalence about whether to run months after other presidential hopefuls have been hard at it."

Senator Low-Wattage.

"Joan Wright, 79, wondered whether Thompson is lazy or egotistical." Maybe both?

Here's an example of how lazy he is. "He talks about going back to the basics. Putting God first in our country," said Jeff Cardwell, 47, a conservative Christian lumber and hardware retailer. That's the equivalent of Republican paint-by-the-numbers ... as though we haven't had a belly full of b.s. fake piety for the last eight years!

Somebody, eventually, is going to start asking, "Where's the beef?"

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Credit Is Due...

...the High Country Press, for noticing what no other mainstream press in eleven counties has noticed ... the breath-taking hypocrisy of Congresswoman Virginia Foxx:

"Foxx Takes Credit for Funding She Voted Against"

Dry as a Bone

Gov. Mike Easley has requested the US Department of Agriculture to declare 85 of North Carolina's 100 counties disaster areas because of the on-going drought. Watauga County is on the list.

And we hear that there's an incipient water emergency with the town of Boone's supply.


The eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) and the Carolina hemlock (Tsuga carolinana) are being poisoned wholesale in the Southern Appalachians by the toxic saliva of the woolly adelgid, an Asian bug thought to have sneaked into this country decades ago in shipments of Japanese ornamentals.

Infected hemlocks display their death sentence in cottony masses of snow-like accumulations of egg sacs on the needle-bearing branches.

The hemlocks of the Southern Appalachians constitute what are known as a "keystone species." A keystone species, by its very presence, contributes to a diversity of life. Its extinction consequently leads to the extinction of other forms of life. Keystone species help to support the entire ecosystem.

Eastern hemlocks, which are usually native to mountain stream banks where they suck up huge amounts of water, shelter and nurture many other dependent species, most especially birds and aquatic creatures. No one knows the full extent of the dominoes that will fall when the hemlocks fall.

And fall they will. Nearly all the trees along the Blue Ridge Parkway are already infested. About one-quarter of all the hemlocks in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are already dead. Forester Tom Remaley estimates that all the untreated hemlocks in the park will be dead in two to five years.

The treatment? Expensive chemical sprays, for one. Great Smoky Mountains National Park has treated about 1,000 acres of trees in conservation areas and another 1,000 near the roadside. The Blue Ridge Parkway has treated about 2,000 trees in its forests. A drop in the proverbial bucket.

Forestry officials have also experimented with imported predatory beetles, but there are not enough beetles to make much of a dent. And the mere words "imported predatory beetles" ought to give everyone pause for the future and and law of unintended consequences.

The loss of the hemlocks may end up being a greater catastrophe than the loss of the American chestnut.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Seeing Past Our Butt (Roast)

Clearly, Boone is not the only municipality where big developers and other special interests are serving up equal platefuls of propaganda and pig flesh in order to (1) influence elections and (2) push back any rules that make life less free-wheeling for themselves.

For example, the "Triangle Community Coalition," which sounds like it might be a communal food org but is in reality a well-heeled political action committee of real estate developers, hosted a pig pickin at the Brier Creek Country Club in North Raleigh and invited municipal candidates from many surrounding towns to come toe-dance for their entertainment.

Many of the candidates who showed up sported an 'R' after their name and "offered a pro-growth platform that stressed no new taxes, impact fees or transfer fees." Why, it was positively difficult to distinguish the menu meats from the candidates.

Public sentiment, however, would seem to be leaning the other way, toward sensible controls on growth for the sake of everyone's future.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Save Downtown Boone Petition

Here's an on-line petition we can get behind.


Looks like maybe southern Arizona, no? But it's Hale Gap, Virginia, following an application of the strip-mining technique known as "mountaintop removal."

Which the g.d. George Bush administration is trying to make forever legal in new regs issued by the Office of Surface Mining.

The new rules will make "legal" what coal operators have been doing illegally already ... dumping the waste ("overburden") into adjoining valleys and burying streams. I'm not making this up.

"A spokesman for the National Mining Association, Luke Popovich, said that unless mine owners were allowed to dump mine waste in streams and valleys it would be impossible to operate in mountainous regions like West Virginia...." (NYTimes)

"This is a parting gift to the coal industry from this administration," said Joe Lovett, executive director of the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment in Lewisburg, W.Va. "What is at stake is the future of Appalachia. This is an attempt to make legal what has long been illegal."

Not to mention IMMORAL.

Charlie Taylor Causing Republican Heartburn

In the NC-11, recently unseated Republican Congressman Charles Taylor is prompting some blistering acid reflux, especially among Republican activists in Henderson County. They wrote Taylor a letter asking him to say whether he planned a rematch in 2008 with Health Shuler, since there's at least one Republican state senator in Henderson who's itching to take on Shuler, if Taylor doesn't run.

Taylor's reply: "Thank you for your letter. Have a nice day." Words to that effect.

It would be a tremendous boost to Shuler's future life in politics if Taylor got out of his current semi-recumbent posture and ran against him. Nobody symbolizes the politics of the past like Taylor does, and if 2008 is to be a "change" election, then the NC-11 Republicans will all go down with Taylor's ship.

"If Only the Vietnam War Could Have Lasted Longer!" Whines El Presidente

Was George W. Bush hinting that he himself might have gotten himself over there to fight, if only it could have lasted a little longer?

Yep, 58,000 dead American soldiers was hardly enough.

And we hear those guys in Kansas City applauded.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

McHenry Abruptly Ends Town-Hall Meeting

But at least he meets with his constituents, unlike Madam You-Know-Who.

Though Congressman McHenry evidently didn't like a question from a Vietnam vet and abruptly pulled the plug on a town-hall meeting in Cleveland County an hour and a half early.

Eye-witness account of the whole affair here on Pat Go Bye-Bye.

Attention, "Survivor" Fans

Leslie Nease, a Christian talk-radio host from Charlotte, is among the 16 contestants in "Survivor: China," which completed filming this summer on Zhelin Lake in Jiangxi Province. The series will air on CBS beginning on Sept. 20th.

Nease is profiled briefly here, and the other contestants are listed. It'll be hard not to root for the chicken farmer from Marion, Va.

Pom-Poms for Peacock

I think we got our answer, about whether a major portion of the local press will ever do any reporting on the actual behavior of the ASU administration in its flagrant violations of town rules.

Monday, August 20, 2007

News from the NC Congressional Delegation

Since Madam Foxx won't talk to the Winston-Salem Journal, the largest newspaper in the NC-5 is reduced to running a very lengthy profile of Congressman Heath Shuler from the NC-11.

Meanwhile, the North Carolina Conservative wants to know how baby Congressman Patty McHenry from the NC-10 got so suddenly rich in his term-and-a-half in Congress.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

What ASU Lusted For

There's been press lately about a special bill slipped through the legislature in its waning hours exempting the state government from abiding by ANY of Raleigh's development rules within a six-block radius of the Capitol.

This is precisely the sort of special law that ASU administration "suits" were shopping for to allow them to do what they please within the town of Boone (not that they don't ALREADY do as they please).

Our understanding is that Sen. Tony Rand is the author of this abomination.

In the Raleigh case, the bill's underhanded supporters claim that "they won't build anything Raleigh wouldn't approve."

Yeah, right. That's why they wanted a special bill exempting them from all the rules, so that they can do just exactly what city planners would approve.

The fact that ASU was NOT able to get this kind of carte blanche in the 2007 session doesn't mean they won't get it in the next session.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Saturday Morning Don't Let the Door Hit You Edition

Within a 24-hour stretch, three veteran House Republicans, including the former Speaker of the House, decided they would call it quits. So far five House Republicans are retiring. Everyone expects that number to go up. No one expects that these empty seats will be automatically filled in 2008 by the party of the neo-cons.

A 26-year-old male student at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest was taken to jail yesterday, convicted of two counts of statutory sex offense, four counts of first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, and two counts of taking indecent liberties with a child, for having turned his volunteer Bible study group for teenaged boys at Providence Baptist Church into a sexual predator's private hunting ground.

More police abuse of free speech in Asheville, this time by the city cops (thanks, Craig).

Friday, August 17, 2007

Bloodshed in Buncombe

If moderate Republicans in Watauga County are justifiably depressed that their party is wholly represented by the likes of Phil Templeton, Jim Hastings, and David Blust, the local split in GOP ranks doesn't hold a candle to the warfare going on in the Buncombe County Republican Party. Thanks to Screwy Hoolie for bringing us up to date.

The Buncombe County Republicans are experiencing a power struggle between ungrammatical conservative extremists and Ron Paul acolytes who want a libertarian mind-meld between dope-smoking hippies and true constitutionalists ... or something like that. It's nature red in tooth and claw, sufficient to make a Marine blanch.

Charm Offensive

The outing of "Citizens for Change" in the local press (and there's another article in today's Watauga Democrat) has caused the following explosions of contempt:

1. Wednesday on his WATA radio show, co-host Jim Hastings went into a rant about the CFC's being exposed this close to the election. He blamed -- who else? -- Pam Williamson as the behind-the-scenes editorial director of both the Watauga Democrat and the Mountain Times. We note in passing that if CFC is such an upstanding group of sterling civic-minded citizens, it wouldn't be foaming at the mouth about being exposed to the light of day.

2. Last night at the monthly meeting of the Boone Town Council, CFC king-pin Phil Templeton staged a snit-fit in a personal attack on town attorney Sam Furgiuele and the entire Town Council (save Dempsey Wilcox, whom Templeton hearts). GoBlueRidge reported on it here late last night.

With their activities now widely known, CFC mouthpieces can do no more than spin the press as best they can (witness today's Watauga Democrat). Although there's a general admission that the steep-slope compromise ordinance is the source of their bile, there's now emerging -- thanks mainly to Reba Moretz -- an alternative "history" of the group, that they're all about "natives" running the town rather than people who aren't sufficiently pedigreed, since "natives" like Dempsey Wilcox, Tim Wilson, and Stephen Phillips KNOW when they're supposed to kowtow to certain special interests. The current Town Council obviously doesn't know whose rings they must kiss, and promptly.

Meanwhile, the candidates endorsed by CFC are acting like butter wouldn't melt in their mouths. Dempsey Wilcox, particularly, in today's Watauga Democrat article becomes a prose minimalist in describing his connection to the group, as though the fewest words will attract the least attention to the special interests he's sold out to: "They asked me to come to their meeting, I did; they asked me my stance on the issues, I did; and they decided to endorse me."

Meanwhile, Stephen Phillips' equivocation about CFC has now become its own self-parody. He's trying to have it both ways. He's told us that he does not accept the CFC endorsement. If that were true, it would be a simple matter for him to demand that they stop bandying his name around, yet his name continues to be paraded as an endorsee of the group. In today's paper he claims he doesn't know how one would go about accepting or declining an endorsement. Is there a piece of paper one could fill out? This ignorant act is wearing waaaay thin.

Then there's poor Ethan Dodson, the student who's being led by the nose and told what to do. Except there was apparently no one standing by to tell him not to embrace CFC so blatantly when the press called for a quote. So he professes himself tickled pink that this group -- ANY group -- embraces his candidacy. "I think their causes and the nature of what they stand for is questionable to some people, but certainly not to me," he said. "They're the only group that invited me to speak, so I was very grateful."

Well, thank goodness it wasn't the Antivivisection League that took note of him! He'll evidently go with anyone who blows in his ear.

Dodson is playing the "native" card too, that somehow being born here should make him less woefully uninformed about town issues. Fact is, he doesn't care about any of the multiple challenges facing this little burg. He's all about the College of Education building. He's swallowed the lie that the Town of Boone is just being mean about that proposed building, that therefore the Town of Boone hates ASU students (nice leap of logic, that!), and he's throwing in with this CFC in order to stand up for students (another nice leap of logic, since many in CFC have nothing but contempt for the educational mission and its performance at ASU. We're looking in your direction, David Blust).

If Dodson weren't such a tool of cynical manipulators, he might educate himself about the actual facts behind the College of Education stand-off. But we're not holding our breath.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Local Press Catches Up

The Watauga Democrat on Monday and the Mountain Times today (not yet on-line, at 11:30 a.m.) has published two separate articles (the second one much expanded) about the Citizens for Change political action committee (PAC), both by the same reporter, finally making widely public what had already been reported on this site here and here and here.

The Watauga Democrat/Mountain Times reporter adds valuable color to the record. He got PAC organizers to talk about their motives. Jim Hastings calls the town "socialist," which he does all the time on his morning radio show, and PAC treasurer Reba Moretz says her motivation is the lack of cooperation between the town and the university, on whose Board of Trustees she sits. By "lack of cooperation," Ms. Moretz means to condemn the town. She is either ignorant of, or failed to take note of, the several failures of cooperation on the university's part, which go under the general heading of "Lawlessness," subheading: "We Don't Care What Your Development Rules Are." All of that lawbreaking by the university was detailed here. Ms. Moretz might want to research it.

And while she's talking cooperation out of one side of her mouth, she might want to ask Chancellor Ken Peacock why he still has not signed the water interconnect and sewer maintenance agreements with the Town of Boone, legal documents that he had his staff attorney work on with the town attorney a long time ago but never signed. Those were all detailed here.

Since Ms. Moretz herself raised the issue of cooperation, perhaps the local press would like to dig into the university's actual behavior there too.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Republican Knot at the Heart of the NC-5

Interesting and informative article in the Statesville Record & Landmark about the nature of Iredell County Republicanism. Iredell County is as dominated by Republican office-holders as Watauga is dominated by Democrats: all five members of the County Commission and all seven members of the county's delegation to the General Assembly are GOPers. It's a place where never is heard a discouraging word about Madam Virginia Foxx.

Riveting factoid: "...of the 80 counties in the state in which Bush and Cheney won a majority in 2004, only nine did so by a greater margin than Iredell's 36 percent margin: 68 percent red to 32 percent blue. Four of those nine counties -- Alexander, Davie, Wilkes and Yadkin -- share a border with Iredell" ... and are in the Fifth Congressional District. A fifth county of those reddest nine is Surry, also in the Fifth District.

To some politicians who might consider challenging The Madam, that gnarl of conservatism in the NC-5 seems impenetrable. But they might also notice something decidedly bluer stirring in Ashe, Wilkes, and Alexander, and those seeds are in Iredell too, if not entirely rooted yet.

Plus The Madam is as brittle and cracked and hollow as a used carnival kewpie doll. She's afraid to come forward and face the voters in an open forum.

'How Much Time Should She Serve?'

This video about anti-choice picketers in Illinois is revealing. The interviewer asks several of them, mostly women, whether abortion should be legal or illegal. They're in total agreement that it should be illegal. (Hey! That's why they're standing on an Illinois street holding up giant posters of aborted fetuses.) But then the interviewer asks, if abortion becomes illegal, how much jail time should a woman get for having an illegal abortion. Most of the anti-choice crowd is stumped by that one, but clearly the majority think criminal punishment for such a woman goes too far. (One woman does allow as how maybe life in prison would be appropriate.)

The interviewer keeps pressing: Shouldn't there be punishment for crime? What other criminalized behavior is tolerated without penalty in our society?

One might justifiably describe the expressions on these people's faces as dumbfounded ... as they face the logic of their own agendas.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Ron Paul Surging in Gaston County

Hat tip to Public Policy Polling for the link, which we feverishly clicked to to check up on how Ron Paul soundly thrashed all the "first-tier" Republican candidates in a Gaston County Republican Party straw poll. Paul got 36.6 percent to Giuliani's 4.9 percent.

The Paul juggernaut is rolling, yesiree.

How many people cast ballots in the straw poll? Some 42, according to an eye witness.

How Good Is the Bush Economy?

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit and cut its full-year earnings forecast on Tuesday, saying its customers remain under economic pressure....

Chief Executive Lee Scott blamed the disappointing performance on economic pressure around the world.

"It is no secret that many customers are running out of money toward the end of the month," Scott said on a recorded conference call, adding that higher fuel prices, interest rates, utility costs and "more financial pressure" are hurting sales in its international market, including Mexico and Canada.

With more than 127 million customers visiting a Wal-Mart store or a Sam's Club location in America every week, Wal-Mart is considered a barometer of the health of the U.S. retail sector....

Monday, August 13, 2007

Monday Morning Dee-Lights: His Capacious Butt in Our Rear-View Mirror

Tol-ja so.

Rep. Patty McHenry of the NC-10 is facing the voters in a town hall meeting in Newland this evening and has laid out a schedule of additional town-halls throughout his district. Madam Foxx? Yoo-hoo!

Apparently, some Republican running for president has dropped out of the contest. No one seems to know his name nor what he looked like. We've got a team of crack investigators looking into the disappearance.

Speaking of Republicans running for president: the Stepford pol, Mitt Romney, spent a couple million dollars technically "winning" the Iowa straw poll on Saturday, yet it's 2nd-place finisher Mike Huckabee that everyone's talking about. Add a chapter to Romney's book (previous chapters include "Don't Claim You're a Good Ole Boy Gun Nut When You're Not," "Don't Claim You've Always Been Anti-Abortion When It Can Be Proven Otherwise," "Don't Tie Your Irish Setter To the Roof of Your Car," "Don't Claim That Campaigning for You Is the Equivalent of Going to War in Iraq") ... "Don't Spend So Much Money Ginning Up Support That You Make the Poor Candidates All Look Better."

More evidence that right-wingers think the Innertubes is mainly ALL RANTING ALL THE TIME, and that blue & red print on a black screen will hide bad grammar and faulty typing. (Thanks, Screwy)

The New Gospel: If They Ask of You a Blessing, Give Them a Stone

Ah, the Christian witness of your typical "megachurch"!

The nondenominational High Point Church in Arlington, Texas, was planning a big memorial service for a Navy veteran of the first Gulf War ... when it came out in the local press that the Navy vet was survived by his family (one of whom works as a janitor at the church) and by a very close friend of the same sex.

So 24 hours before the memorial service, it was canceled. Gosh, didn't that make the family feel blessed?

The holy brethren of High Point Church felt God needed them to disapprove of other people's gayness more than He wanted them to honor a war hero.

Megachurch pastor Ted Haggard says he's been saved, i.e., cured. But what will cure such self-righteous cruelty?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Karl Rove Is Leaving the White House

As the endless sump of the Bush presidency finally evaporates in the hot sun of world history, reassessments by a reawakened press are bound to start appearing, like this really fascinating profile of Karl Rove in The Atlantic, trying to understand how "The Architect" of Republican world domination steered his national party into the ditch.

It's good reading, also, for its historical insights into "realigning elections" in our nation's history:
Fifty years ago, political scientists developed what is known as realignment theory -- the idea that a handful of elections in the nation's history mattered more than the others because they created "sharp and durable" changes in the polity that lasted for decades....

Academics debate many aspects of this theory, such as whether realignment comes in regular cycles, and whether it is driven by voter intensity or disillusionment. But historians have shown that two major preconditions typically must be in place for realignment to occur. First, party loyalty must be sufficiently weak to allow for a major shift -- the electorate, as the political scientist Paul Allen Beck has put it, must be "ripe for realignment." The other condition is that the nation must undergo some sort of triggering event ... a "societal trauma" -- the ravaging depressions of the 1890s and 1930s, for instance, or the North-South conflict of the 1850s and '60s that ended in civil war. It's important to have both. Depressions and wars throughout American history have had no realigning consequence because the electorate wasn't primed for one, just as periods of electoral unrest have passed without a realignment for lack of a catalyzing event.
Certainly Bush's appointment to the presidency in 2000 was NOT a realigning election, but Rove set about to make that first term the catalyzing event that he thought would usher in a new thousand-year Republican dominance. And Bush's first term -- pre-9/11, mind you -- became a reflection of Rovian ambition and technique:
Instead of modest bipartisanship, the administration's preferred style of governing became something much closer to the way Rove runs campaigns: Steamroll the opposition whenever possible, and reach across the aisle only in the rare cases, like No Child Left Behind, when it is absolutely necessary. The large tax cut that Bush pursued and won on an almost party-line vote just afterward is a model of this confrontational style. Its limitations would become apparent.
Then came 9/11, which gave Rove his greatest cudgel to beat up his political opponents:
In a coincidence of epic dimensions, 9/11 provided, just when Rove needed it, the historical lever missing until then. He had been presented with exactly the sort of "societal trauma" that makes realignment possible, and with it a fresh chance to pursue his goal .... neoconservatives in the administration recognized that 9/11 gave them the opening they'd long desired to forcefully remake the Middle East. Rove recognized the same opening.
There's much, much more, a marshalling of facts on our recent history that's been sorely lacking.

Whatever Happened to Stephanie Nicole?

The sociological and anthropological ink is bound to flow on this, trying to figger out WHY, but the Social Security Administration reports that in 2006, in 11 out of 13 Southern states, Madison was the most popular baby girl's name.

Madison? In the South?

The most popular baby boy's name during the same period, in 8 out of 10 Southern states, was William. Not Billy, but William.

'Course, we're gonna call 'em Billy anyway.

Has Anyone Seen Our Congresswoman?

Reading in the N&O this a.m. about N.C. Congressmen Brad Miller, David Price, and Bob Etheridge meeting with their constituents and taking questions from the public reminded us that it's been -- what? -- over a year and a half since Virginia Foxx even bothered to fake a public meeting where she was (theoretically) available to answer questions.

Guess listening and that much ballyhooed Republican virtue, "accountability," ain't what dey used to be.

Friday, August 10, 2007

McHenry Attracts Challenger

Little Patty McHenry of the NC-10, who fancies himself the new Tom DeLay, has attracted a challenger with -- get this! -- a web site.

What WILL they think of next!

But relax. This dude's running as an independent, with the endorsement of the NC Constitution Party, because he evidently thinks McHenry is some sort of flaming liberal.

So this challenge is going precisely nowhere. But may be entertaining on the trip.

Grudging Acknowledgement

Last fall, at the same time Watauga and Ashe counties were defying expectations and electing Democratic representatives to the NC House & Senate, the Catawba/Alexander area was electing their first Democratic House member in many years ... former Alexander County Sheriff Ray Warren.

In Raleigh, Warren set about to improve his district's share in the state budget. By the Hickory Daily Record's reckoning, Warren has already done an outstanding job:
The successes include $600,000 in operational funds for a new engineering school in Hickory; $300,000 for the Catawba Science Center; and $100,000 for the Hosiery Technology Center at Catawba Valley Community College. A bill that strengthens regulations for water transfers is also widely viewed as a huge win for the region.
The newspaper also admits that the previous all-Republican representation in Raleigh had been ineffective in snagging state funds for that depressed district.

But how is the article headlined? "New Rep., Bigger Haul?" The question mark is duly noted. Then this very revealing subhead: "Some funds were coming to area despite Warren's help."


This Republican rag doesn't want to get caught giving a Democrat too much credit for anything.

Road Trip!

The North Carolina Democratic Party is staging an activist "caravan" in the eastern part of the state Aug. 10-12. Retail politics at its best:
Along the route, volunteers from across the state will work with local activists, registering voters, canvassing, performing community service projects, meeting with candidates and elected officials, and listening to the ideas and concerns of eastern North Carolinians.
We trust there will be additional "caravans" in other sections of the state, including in our own mountains. In fact, considering the heat, why didn't they start in the mountains?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

New Light on an Old Subject

Guest blogging: Pam Williamson

There has been tremendous back and forth on this blog over the past weeks regarding the formation of a new Political Action Committee (PAC) in Boone called "Citizens for Change" (CFC).

A PAC is a group that organizes to promote candidates who its membership believes will best represent its interests or oppose candidates who don't represent those interests. On June 16, 2007, CFC submitted its statement of organization as a PAC to the North Carolina State Board of Elections:

Within the discussion of CFC on this blog, I was especially impressed and challenged by a comment from "Reader" (08.05.07 -- 8:26 am) that said, "This has been interesting the last couple of days. Why not just call one of the people you are speaking of and just ask them who's in the 'club'?"

I believe Reader is right, so I have been asking questions and getting (some) answers.

As confirmed by some of the candidates in attendance, on the 24th of July, CFC met to interview selected candidates running for Boone municipal seats. Invited candidates were Jeremy Blocker (D), Stephen Phillips (D), Ethan Dodson (R), Tim Wilson (R), and Dempsey Wilcox (R). The PAC decided to endorse all the candidates with the exception of Blocker.

On August 5th, I sent an e-mail to all the CFC endorsed candidates. The e-mail stated that it was my understanding the candidate had been interviewed and endorsed by the PAC, and I asked if the candidate accepted or rejected the endorsement. The e-mail also asked for the names of those who participated in interviewing candidates.

As of this date, I have received no responses from Wilson or Wilcox.

Phillips responded in a series of e-mails and eventually said, in part, "No! I did NOT accept an endorsement from Citizens for Change. Nor did they ask me to accept an endorsement. And if they did ask me to accept an endorsement, I would refuse." He added that Jeff Templeton had invited him to the meeting.

Dodson responded, in part, "I did attend a meeting for a group called Citizens for Change at their invitation after I filed for candidacy. I was asked as a candidate to answer questions regarding development, traffic, and town gown relations. I did meet David Blust there but he did not ask me any questions…. Afterward, the group informed me that they were pleased with my answers and decided to endorse me based on my beliefs. I was honored to receive support from the group, but the only endorsement I am interested in, is that of the Boone voters."

Dodson further stated he did not "feel obligated" to reveal the names of those at the meeting, likening the seeking of such information to McCarthyism.

Not satisfied that I had evidence regarding the interests associated with the PAC, on Sunday, August 5th, I called David Blust on the telephone.

We had a very friendly conversation. I told David that there had been a lot of rumor and speculation about the membership behind a new PAC that he was involved with called "Citizens for Change." I asked him if, in the interest of openness and accountability, he would share with me the names of the people involved in the PAC. He said there was not a membership list, that he did not feel he was at liberty to share names, that he was unsure if there was an upcoming meeting that week, and that most of the people involved in the PAC were those who were opponents of the new steep-slope and viewshed town ordinances. He named Jeff Templeton and Reba Moretz. When I asked if he was at the meeting the night the candidate interviews took place, he responded, "Well, there are many meetings, and I haven't been to all of them. Lots of people show up. There are different people at different meetings." He added a second time that "most of those involved are those who opposed the steep-slope ordinance." I asked again for the names of those involved, and David said he would get back to me and let me know if those involved were willing to have their names provided.

When I did not hear back from David on Monday, I decided to call Reba Moretz, treasurer for the PAC. We likewise had a very pleasant conversation. I asked her if the CFC meeting was open to everyone. She responded that "as far as I know there are no limitations" and that she would call me back with the place and time of the next meeting.

Which she promptly did. Twice. Both times leaving time and place on my answering machine.

So I went.

When I arrived, Phil Templeton greeted me loudly with the comment that I should sit at the front of the room so all could see me. I obliged. I sat next to Ranny Phillips who was very cordial. I sat in front of Reba and Grady Moretz. There were as many as 20 people there, some of whom I recognized. In addition to the Moretzes, Ranny Phillips, and David Blust (who ran the meeting), others included Frank Bolick, Jimmy Hodges, Tim Wilson and his son, and John Tate (of Boone car-booting fame).

David Blust called the meeting to order and told me that I had to leave because "we are opposing what you are doing and we are opposing your candidates." I said I completely understood and thanked Reba Moretz for her hospitality before leaving. The group applauded as I left (and not in a good way).

The day after the PAC meeting, Jim Hastings, on his 9 a.m. WATA radio show, referred to the fact that CFC had had a meeting the night before and that "interesting things" happened at that meeting.

Here's the bottom line:

I believe voters have the right to know whose interests a PAC represents. Any PAC. And I believe all of us should be aware that PACs have only one purpose: to recruit and/or endorse candidates, promote their interests, and raise money for them.

There is nothing at all wrong with organizing a political action committee to find candidates who will represent your interests, but there is, in my opinion, a right for the people to know what those special interests are and whose special interests are represented, so the FACTS in summary are this:

1. The primary interest of Citizens for Change is to oppose the Town of Boone's Steep Slope ordinance. There are secondary interests, to be sure, but that is the primary driving force.

2. The only Democrat the PAC endorsed says he's refused the endorsement.

3. The leaders of the PAC are the Templeton family, David Blust, and Reba Moretz.

4. The Templetons have been the leaders in opposing the town's steep-slope ordinance, and Phil Templeton holds a personal grudge against Loretta Clawson for fighting his attempt to build a medical facility in her neighborhood.

5. David Blust is a conservative Republican activist.

6. Jim Hastings is a conservative Republican activist who calls the Boone Town Council "socialists" on this weekly radio program. He is either a member of CFC or is kept up-to-date on its activities.

7. Reba Moretz, registered Democrat, opposes the steep-slope ordinance, opposed the regulations against billboards on the Doc & Merle Watson Scenic Byway, and is working for Republican candidates.

How Many Angels on the Head of a Pin Department

This woman, Linda Seger, is so going to hell. She's author of "Jesus Rode a Donkey: Why the Republicans Don't Have a Corner on Christ," which would alone certainly get her in the door of Hades. But she's also posted this discussion about the different ways of thinking common to "liberal" and "conservative" Christians.

From which this is quoted for your edification:
I have found more hypocrisy and self-righteousness among Conservatives than among Progressive/Liberals. Since belief is so strong, they sometimes are not reflective and introspective, pointing their fingers at others rather than looking at their own behavior. They speak more about the Letter of the Law than about the Spirit of the Law. There is much more boxing in of ideas, as if everything has to have a clear boundary and a Scripture passage to back it up, even though their Scriptural choices are often very selective, as are everyone's. As a result, their clear and absolute boundaries can make them judgmental of others which can cause deep psychological and spiritual wounds. I have spoken to so many wounded ex-Catholics, ex-Baptists, ex-Fundamentalists, but don't recall speaking to a wounded Methodist or Lutheran or Presbyterian who feel freer to change churches if one doesn't suit. So many wounded Christians simply leave the Church, since they don't feel they have choices. It's one way or no way. I find far less of this from Mainstream and more Liberal Churches, where we are encouraged to question, to struggle with figuring out our relationship with God, and where it's just fine to change denominations, to experiment, to search.
True enough, in our Texas hometown, the Methodists were generous, patient people who held Friday night dances for teenagers in their church basement, while the local Baptists gnashed their teeth. None of those Methodists that we're aware of ever propositioned a plainclothes detective in the men's room of the local Texaco.

But still. Arguments based on such comparisons are not arguments that any sane person hopes to win.

A Heap o' Trouble, Boy

Buncombe County appears to have been the epicenter of an illegal video gambling ring in western N.C. The Asheville Citizen says this a.m. that the ring attempted to bribe Rutherford County Sheriff Jack Conner, who was at the time incidentally wearing a wire on behalf of the FBI (the whole transaction was secretly videotaped), and the briber-in-chief said he had two other sheriffs of western counties in his pocket. Who exactly, we aren't told.

Sheriff Conner was offered $10,000 up front and $1,000 a month to protect the racket.

Two former Buncombe County sheriff's deputies have already been charged with running an illegal gambling operation, witness tampering, bribing law enforcement officials, and money laundering, and the former Buncombe Sheriff, Bobby Medford, who lost his reelection bid last fall, "has declined to discuss the investigation."

We haven't heard even a whisper of a suggestion that this (or any other) gambling ring has moved into Watauga County.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

He'll Tell You What You Want to Hear

Mitt the Empty Suit gets outed (again) as a huge phony, by the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Now he's claiming that he effectively lied to the voters of Massachusetts when he told them he was pro-choice. He was actually anti-abortion all along but had to keep it secret for, you know, political expediency.

Good Neighbor U

Remarkable article by Frank Ruggiero in today's Watauga Democrat, lots of happy HAPPY talk by ASU Chief of Staff Lorin Baumhover about the proposed new College of Education building that he says could get underway very quickly, just as soon as the UNC Board of Governors gives the go-ahead, with not one mention or acknowledgement on his part that

ASU has made NO application to the Town of Boone for a building permit for said project

Then the article ends with news that town and university officials are due to meet on August 20th, with Baumhover quoted as saying that he thinks "we'll find a common ground here."

Why are they even having a meeting, when their minds are made up, their plans are laid, and clearly town regs don't factor into anything the university intends to do?

New definition of "common ground" -- "you get the hell out of the way, because we've got $34 million, and our feces don't stink."

If this is ASU showing a new attitude of cooperation and abiding by the law, well then, university administrations have become even more a reflection of Bush era arrogance than we had previously thought.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Driving Each Other Crazy Edition

kmr has a good post up on BlueNC this afternoon, reflecting on the fact that the famous Jim Black scandal was NOT the product of fine investigative journalism by the mainstream media. Since kmr has himself worked as a mainstream journalist, we take his words pretty seriously, especially when he talks about "access" and pulling one's punches:
"Maybe they [Capitol city journalists] were clueless or didn't think it important or were worried about losing access.

Give me a bunch of ... bloggers with nothing to gain or lose over folks in the know sitting on their hands for fear of alienating a source. I'm afraid that, as in many places in this great land, those charged with occasionally mucking out the barn are either too concerned about soiling their trousers or have somehow become mesmerized into believing they too are a fine steed in the stable."
Considering the heat that we have taken, and continue to take, for research we and other bloggers on this site have done into the behavior of a certain major university and the formation of a PAC aimed at shifting power in local government, we have a somewhat heightened appreciation for what kmr is saying.

We get it: people don't like their words and actions talked about. And those who write comments on this and most other blogs are frequently intemperate, hateful, misinformed, prejudiced, ignorant of the facts, possibly victimized by alien abduction, and quick to stampede over the nearest precipice of easy assumption.

Two fateful decisions were made when WataugaWatch launched in 2003: (1) there would be no anonymity for primary posters, none of that hiding out behind screen names, and (2) comments would be open and unmoderated. Whereas all main posts are signed, any comment can be anonymous if the writer wants it that way. In other words, while the primary author here is totally responsible for what he writes, including snark and ill-considered opinion, everyone else is free to pile on, scream, shout non-sequiturs or be breathtakingly perceptive, smart, insightful and funny -- and be wholly protected (at least as far as the law allows).

As ring master, we know it's a dangerous way to live, because people are people, which is to say, those who write comments on blogs can be irresponsible, if they think they can get away with it. (It will do no good, perhaps, to point out that no one has taken more abuse in this space than the author and those closest to him.) But with an open platform also comes the throb of vital democracy, and if there is sometimes more heat than light, well, no one ever said an open, free society would be anything less than messy.

Some Dogs Should Stay on the Porch

We missed former Constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald on C-SPAN this a.m., but at least six people have forwarded his excellent discussion of Democratic (i.e., Blue Dog) cowardice in the face of El Presidente's illegal wiretapping program, which led 41 of them in the U.S. House, including Heath Shuler from the NC-11, to help the Republican minority to give Bush expanded authority to ignore the Constitution. (Joining Shuler in this shameful vote were Bob Etheridge, NC-2, and Mike McIntyre, NC-7.)

Writes Greenwald:
There is no vast yearning in America to allow the President the power to eavesdrop on our conversations with no warrants or oversight. There is no powerful political movement in the heartland demanding unlimited executive power. The notion is patently false that it is politically fatal to insist that eavesdropping be conducted only with warrants, or that we abide by minimal norms of civilization in how we interrogate people, or that we grant basic due process rights to people before we detain them for life.
And this devastating line:
The only ones left who jump at the mere utterance by George Bush of the word "Terrorists" are authoritarian right-wing followers, the Beltway media, and Democratic consultants.
Preach it, brother. Not that the Blue Dogs can hear anything other than the supersonic whine of their master's whistle.

News From NC-5

We learned last night that Roy Carter, football coach at North Wilkes High School, has announced that he will be a contender for the Democratic nomination to challenge Virginia Foxx in the NC-5.

More details about this first announced Democratic candidate ... as we learn them.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Mark Warner, Still Not Running For President

But, according to Novak (scroll to bottom), maybe for the Senate seat currently occupied by a wholly different Warner in Virginia.

Ex-governor Mark Warner would be all but unbeatable, says Novak.

Right! confirms my in-laws in the Commonwealth.

Huckabee Hints at Third-Party Run

Apparently, the thought of pro-choice Rudy Giuliani as the Republican presidential nominee is just too much for Mike Huckabee, who's started dropping hints that he's willing to carry his abortion dogma into the mouth of the furnace.

We want to encourage him in that.

And applaud him for these following sentences but wonder where he's been for the last 6 and a half years:
"It is not our job -- and I speak now as a pastor to pastors -- it is not our job to be the king's friend. It is our job to be the king's greatest fear. We are to speak the truth to power .... I so fear that we will lose the Nathans of the world who say to the Davids, 'Thou art the man,' and rather say, 'You da man!' .... We'd best be careful that we don't become so enamored with the invitation to the nice events, with the ability to be photographed with people in positions of power and influence, that we forget it is not our duty to be their best friend."
Can't help noticing that while Huckabee's God can be awfully insistent about sexual activities, He's been awfully silent (Bergmanesque, even) about our engaging in preemptive warfare, in torture, and in the subversion of the Constitution, silent, at least, so far as mouthpieces like Rev. Huckabee is concerned.

The Inevitabilities of Monday Morning

Every day, in every way, we are being urged to accept the inevitable. It's always a Monday morning that brings the most desperate insights ... like, every debate she doesn't lose, she wins.

The whirr of the vacuum tube, sucking 200 grand out of Watauga County, is supposed to be as lulling as the song of cicadas on a hot July afternoon. Sounds like an overheating jet engine to us.

They say, when you see the water recede abnormally at the shoreline, run for the hills. Tsunami's coming.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Grudge

Astute bloggers in the last thread down-column found the cached page for the original website of the political action committee "Citizens for Change." On that cached page, Citizens for Change describe themselves as a "non-partisan group." They mean, we assume, a BI-PARTISAN group, consisting of power players in the Watauga County Republican Party, a handful of former Democrats, along with a few so-called "unaffiliated" developers, like former Town Councilman Graydon Eggers.

What holds them together is wealth and self-interest.

And a long grudge against Boone's recent trend toward smart-growth policies, most especially the limitations on steep-slope development and the careful conservation of Boone's limited water supply.

But not those policies alone.

Time was, with a past Town Council, that a group of wealthy developers could induce elected officials into rezoning a local trailer park so they could build the Fairfield Inn. Fine and dandy, but the rezoning caused the eviction of over 50 households from that trailer park, paid for not by the owners of the property, who had been collecting the rent, but rather by the taxpayers of Boone. It was the crisis of relocating those 50 families -- many of them very poor and some incredibly disabled, with literally no place else to go -- that brought current Mayor Pro-Tem Lynne Mason into the political process.

That sort of eviction at the behest of special interests is an unlikely scenario in the Boone of 2007, else the many more trailer park households currently behind Wal-Mart would have already been thrown out to make way for a Super Wal-Mart.

Citizens for Change intends to flatten the progressive smart-growth Boone Town Council into the dust.

And they're getting their act together. They've raised (lots of) money. They intend a full frontal assault, the first evidence of which is a letter to the editor in Friday's Watauga Democrat by Graydon Eggers' wife Carolyn, who suggested that the progressive incumbents might deface their own yard signs for sympathy, while at the same time calling for "a positive campaign season." What this letter is really saying:
"Dear Progressive Incumbents on the Boone Town Council:
Please sit very still and quiet while we blast you with all the arsenal that money can buy. We won't like it if you don't remain a sitting duck, or if you talk back, or -- heavens forfend! -- if you fight us. Do any of that, and we'll probably have to accuse you of not being sufficiently Christian."
This is just the beginning. A member of Citizens for Change has laughed in public that the student they're endorsing will deliver a thousand ASU votes to their slate. Wouldn't that be sweeeeet! And ironic, since ASU students get much of the blame for throwing out local Republican office-holders in both 2004 and 2006 (remember those bumperstickers? "ASU Shame On You!"). The Citizens for Change power structure has been very hostile to the right of students to vote. It was, in fact, Citizens for Change kingpin David Blust who hanged himself in 2006 by declaring on the ASU campus that students should not be allowed to vote in local elections. (That YouTube footage of Blust is still available for viewing.)

The ASU student who's been endorsed by Citizens for Change is a very nice young man by all reports. If he has a clue about what he's gotten himself into, and the motivations of the people who are using him, we'd be very surprised. There he was minding his own business, pursuing a higher education, and now he's a tool of other forces whose full agenda he's maybe ignorant of.

Generally speaking, we do not believe ASU students are motivated by public policy built on greed and anti-environmental practices, so we believe that in the end Mr. Dotson will refuse the endorsement of Citizens for Change. And we want to offer the same opportunity for refusal to others.

We provide this thread for the following specific challenges:

To those candidates who have been endorsed by Citizens for Change: do you accept or reject the endorsement?

To Citizens for Change (we know you're reading and commenting here): Will you have the courage to come clean with the names of those involved in your PAC?

To David Blust: since you evidently now believe that students should vote in local elections, could you write a couple of sentences on the topic "Political Principles: How to Bend 'Em."

Friday, August 03, 2007

Rich Guys Strike Back

The big-developer anti-zoning group in Boone, "Citizens for Change," registered in Raleigh as a Political Action Committee on July 18th (Reba Moretz, treasurer), and they have picked their slate of candidates to up-end Boone, to throw out the progressive Town Council and mayor, and to get themselves into the driver's seat.

They've endorsed Tim Wilson for mayor and Stephen Phillips, Dempsey Wilcox, and the ASU student Justin Dodson for Boone Town Council.

Former County Commissioner and failed Republican candidate for N.C. Senate David Blust conducted the interviews at the endorsement meeting. Apparently, the group filed its papers to form a PAC in Raleigh, rather than locally, because they're leaving an option open to endorse Blust next year if he decides to try again for the N.C. Senate (a strictly local PAC would be restricted from involving itself in a district race).

NOTE: The link above to Reba Moretz's filing paper as treasurer of Citizens for Change has been fixed.

Flag Desecration Charges against Asheville Couple Dropped

Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan said yesterday that his deputy should not have been on the property of Mark and Deborah Kuhn in Asheville to confront them about their American flag display. The sheriff and the D.A. decided together to drop the flag desecration charges against the couple.

The sheriff also dropped the assault and resisting arrest charges against the Kuhns, saying he wanted to "make amends" for the entire incident.

The photograph shown here was evidently taken before the arrest, as the Kuhns said they were waiting to see whether the deputy who confronted them would be fired. "We do want to give Sheriff Duncan the chance to do the right thing," Deborah Kuhn said.

North Carolina's Deficient Bridges

Here's a map of North Carolina's worst nine bridges, one of them smack dab on I-40 in Greensboro, carrying average weekly traffic of 382,200 vehicles.

This is a map of the nine WORST, mind you, not of all the bridges labeled deficient in the state. There are 2,200 that are deemed "structurally deficient," some 5,000 that are "substandard."


The N&O many details, along with maps, here.

Flash Players

The state legislature tossed out a bill on Wednesday that would have reformed the notorious "prayer for judgment continued" system that allowed speeders in the state to get out of paying fines. But yesterday the Democrats brought it back and got it passed, with modifications, and it's on its way to The Guv for his signature.

'Bout time.

The magic words in court, "Your Honor, I'd like to enter a prayer for judgment continued," known to every 20-year-old from Murphy to Manteo, will no longer work as a get-out-of-jail-free card if -- IF -- the miscreant was going more than 25 mph OVER the speed limit.

Same goes for the other legal dodge, a claim of "improper equipment," as in, "Your Honor, Sir, my speedometer wasn't working."

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Got the Rotting Infrastructure Blues

As 2007 began, at least 73,694 of the nation's 596,808 bridges, or about 12 percent, were classified as "structurally deficient," Federal Highway Administration figures show. They include 816 built as recently as the early 1990s and 3,871 that are nearly a century old....
--Forbes, today

And it's not just bridges. It's dams and tunnels too. Our national infrastructure is crumbling.

Some estimates for fixing all this stuff range as high as a trillion $.

And should we not have the expectation, as American citizens, that the bridges we cross will stand? Isn't that a proper function of government, certifying those structures?

But, instead, we're pouring our wealth into an unnecessary foreign war that we started and won't end.

"People think they're saving money by not investing in infrastructure, and the result is you have catastrophes like this," said Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis., a member of the House transportation committee. "This is something that should spur us to action at the national level."

Something of the magnitude of the Space Race is called for, but how likely is that under this present regime, with its mind on sand and oil?

Foxx, Anti-Gonzo

Fifth Dist. Congresswoman Virginia Foxx has issued harsh words about Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.


A strategic limited dissociation, from the congresswoman who has blindly followed El Presidente over every precipice.