Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Total Freakin' Shock

"All of the callers except one were supportive of Foxx."

--A paragraph in the W-S Journal report on last night's stunt by Madam Foxx, a live "virtual town-hall meeting" via telephone.

Come on out of hiding, Madam, and maybe you'll hear something.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Mark Binker reports that ex-Gov. Jim Hunt has endorsed Kay Hagan's bid for the Democratic nomination to oppose Liddy Dole next year. Apparently, the Hunt endorsement is the equivalent of The Sign of the Cross.

Binker suggests that Hunt represents "the party establishment." Bunch a big ole brave men, running around, begging Kay Hagan to "save us from The Gay."

And naturally, we've ALWAYS jumped exactly as high as Jim Hunt told us to jump.

Blowing Rock Wants Our Water

Apparently, candidates for Blowing Rock's town council last night turned their sights on Boone's water as a solution to their current water woes. The comments on the thread are somewhat instructive about those prospects.

Carter Answers Foxx on S-CHIP

Democratic candidate Roy Carter answers Virginia Foxx's blue smoke about her two no votes on S-CHIP ... in this morning's W-S Journal. An excerpt:
Rep. Virginia Foxx's callous vote against SCHIP was a vote against working families, a vote against our children's future, and a vote that flies in the face of common sense and morality.

Foxx insults us with false allegations about SCHIP to hide the truth; millions of children still need coverage. Many kids can be covered only if the program is extended, which SCHIP ensures. Foxx's rejection of SCHIP and co-sponsorship of another bill are a political attempt to delay the issue for 18 months. Meanwhile, as the housing market declines and lower-middle income families continue to struggle, millions of kids remain uninsured.

She receives the best health care tax dollars can purchase, so why won't she work to provide that same opportunity for our children? We need a representative who will listen to the good people of the 5th District and not merely serve as a microphone for special interests.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Fred Thompson -- He-Man Crime-Fighter

Since Sen. Fred Thompson brags about what a major crime-fighter he was as a three-year federal prosecutor in Tennessee, Joe Mathews took a look at the 88 criminal cases Thompson handled during that time:

27 of those cases involved moonshining, often considered a victimless crime in the mountain south.

"Hell, I made whiskey and was violating the law, but I didn't do nothing wrong," said one of Thompson's many moonshining defendants, Kenneth Whitehead. "I would do it again if I had a still. I can't afford a still now."

Thompson also prosecuted a man for uttering obscenities on his CB radio, another dire threat to civilization.

The federal judge before whom Thompson tried most of his cases is quoted as judging Thompson's legal skills rather harshly ... "utterly incompetent." It will no doubt please Thompson fans and those grasping at straws that the judge was a Democrat.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday A.M. Roundup

Once again Madam Virginia Foxx votes against health insurance for poor children, even after the program is changed to placate Republican objections to the first bill:
An analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office showed that the new version of the children's health insurance bill did make some substantive changes that Republicans had demanded. Under both versions, the combined average monthly enrollment in SCHIP and Medicaid would be about 34.1 million people, according to the CBO. But there is a shift toward serving poorer children, a key Republican demand. In the new bill, Medicaid enrollment alone would be about 400,000 individuals higher than under the vetoed bill, while SCHIP enrollment would be about that much lower, according to CBO documents. (Jonathan Weisman in the WashPost)

According to The Swing State Project (via BlueNC), state Senator Kay Hagan has indeed decided to challenge Jim Neal in the Democratic primary to run against Liddy Dole. The question is: How much money did Chuck Schumer promise her?

And in non-political news, we're glad to see 31-year-old Asheville native Paul Schneider making a go of it in Hollywood. Another N.C. School of the Arts grad.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Whining About the Boone Election

The nearest thing Watauga has to an official Republican blog lapses into a small tantrum today over ... student voting. They call students "the transient vote."

Talk about loaded language! My dictionary defines the noun transient as "especially, a person staying a single night at a hotel." More recently the word has taken on the color of class distinction: transients these days are often homeless.

Well, okay then.

ASU students, pay attention. The local GOP thinks of you as first-class bums.

This wouldn't be nearly as amusing except that this after-the-fact whining would have been very different if only the Republican side had won in the Boone town elections. Lord knows, they worked the ASU campus as hard as they could to garner votes for Team Templeton. Or rather, they allowed others to work that campus for them, most notably the SGA president and his posse. Mailings, phone calls, matching T-shirts, the glow of smug, clubby togetherness. The only thing they lacked was the allegiance of a student body who after all don't particularly like power politics and egregious manipulation.

The local GOP wouldn't be writing editorials about how unfair it all is ... if only they'd won the student vote. And they're exhibiting exactly the sort of behavior that will keep that vote out of their reach for the foreseeable future.

An "Environmental Republican"

Maybe it's the end of the world. The Republican representing Buncombe County in the N.C. General Assembly says he actually believes in global warming.

Rep. Charles Thomas was appointed to the state legislature's Commission on Global Climate Change, and while his fellow Republican on the commission, Rep. Robert Pittenger, pounds the table and preaches the right-wing gospel that global warming is a hoax (or "myth"), Rep. Thomas is actually looking at how the development of alternative energies could be a growth industry for the future of western N.C.

If one or two members of the Republican House in N.C. are turning environmental, we guess a primary challenge against Mr. Thomas, funded by the John William Pope Foundation, can't be far in the future.

McHenry Draws a Credible Challenger

This news was broken yesterday afternoon on NCBlue by Jerimee. We had reported the rumors here months ago that Navy Marine Corps Medal winner Daniel Johnson might challenge Patty McHenry for his seat in the NC-10. We're happy to say that Johnson is now officially in the race.

(The picture to the left apparently dates from the time Johnson lost limbs saving the life of a fellow sailor off the Korean coast.)

Johnson has been working as an assistant district attorney in Wake County and has moved back to his hometown of Hickory to run against McHenry ... whose toes must be curling this morning inside those loafers he wears.

Now the two "safest" Republican congresspeople from N.C. have Democratic challengers to call them on their votes and criticize their general behavior.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Jim & Chuck and Liddy & Kay

Public Policy Polling did a quickie, matching up Liddy Dole against newly announced Democratic challenger Jim Neal. No surprise, Neal polls in the low 30s. We're actually surprised he shows as well as that, given that only 32 political activists across the state even know he's in the race (plus the billions who read this blog!)

More significant than Neal's numbers are Liddy's ... she's stuck at 47% ... not a good sign for an incumbent.

In the meantime, state Senator Kay Hagen of Greensboro (pictured), who had earlier considered the race against Dole and passed it up, may now be back in play, thanks to the ministrations of Sen. Chuck Schumer, chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Schumer seems to have gotten the shakes over the Neal candidacy (queer fear?), and according to Gary Pearce, he's putting the moves on Hagen, a potential candidate whom he cold-shouldered previously.

Maybe Hagen would be a better candidate than Neal. We don't know. We DO know that we don't necessarily relish having a New Yawker trying to dictate things all the way down here in Lubberland.


According to the Federal Elections Commission, Congresswoman Virginia Foxx has a measly $903,099, cash on hand. That's just shy of a million batskins, but to hear her tell it, she's eating out of the Hardee's dumpster. Madam Foxx has sent out this appeal for cash:
Dear Friend,

Serving in Congress is still the greatest honor given to me and I cherish the opportunity to represent your values and do my best for this wonderful country. But I cannot do it without your financial support.

The downside of electing Representatives every two years is that we have a short time to raise money and campaign. The Democrat Party has recruited an opponent for me who is already raising money. He will begin campaigning full time in December but I will be hard at work representing the Fifth District and only able to campaign part time.

That means I have to be busy raising money now. This year we thought we would try something a bit different. It occurred to us that as someone who has an interest in history and politics you might enjoy a copy of the wonderful Congressional calendar, "We, the People." This calendar is published by the U.S. Capitol Historical Society and is full of the sort of history lessons coveted by folks like you.

We have never given a gift for a contribution but thought this is the time of the year to do that. So for a contribution of $100 or more to Virginia Foxx for Congress, I will send a calendar to the donor. We need your help now to build the base for my reelection. The best politics is doing a good job. And you can count on my continuing to be the hardest working Member of Congress. I have stuck to my principles and have helped other Republicans do the same....

Who's put such fear into the Madam that she's willing to dole out chintzy gifts for your big bucks? Coach Roy Carter, who is not a rich man (he's been a high school football coach his entire adult life), who's raised a grand total of -- what? -- a couple hundred dollars (but will be raising more, rest assured). It's the Po Boy vs. Madam Millionaire, but you'd think Gatesby Von Moneybags was coming after her.

No, Coach Carter is far worse than a millionaire. He's an authentic man of the people who doesn't have to pretend who he is and who knows exactly when and how Madam Foxx has been bad for the 5th District of North Carolina. It might not take a Foxx million to make that point.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

In Statesville, The Good Air People Want a Variance

Maymead Inc., famous locally for trying to put an asphalt plant on the banks of the New River, is harassing Statesville with a proposal to restart a defunct asphalt plant 50 feet from the nearest residential property. Local ordinances demand 500 feet of separation, which is why Maymead goes before the Statesville Board of Adjustment today for a variance.

If Maymead fails, they say they have a trick up their sleeve ... subdividing the property, which will allow them to bypass the Board of Adjustment and go directly to the Statesville Town Council for approval.

They work hard, these guys, to get around local laws.

Jim Neal Teaches Politics 101

Since the firestorm of shock&awe erupted yesterday over senatorial candidate Jim Neal's sexual orientation, the candidate has been a study in how to handle what conventional wisdom would call the kiss of death. He's being honest and forthright (what a novelty that is!) and even (gasp) brave.

Except for the 19 percent of voters in a national Zogby poll who say they couldn't ever vote for a homosexual, Mr. Neal's private life is well on its way to becoming a non-issue. (Incidentally, a greater percentage than that say they could never vote for a Mormon.)

Posted 2:30 p.m., Tuesday
This column by KMR, "Deal With It," is good on the issue.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Madam Foxx Plays Hide the Weenie

Congresswoman Virginia A. Foxx has announced that she will hold a "telephone town hall," a.k.a., "a way to pretend that I'm responsive to my constituents while carefully controlling the venue and NOT actually facing them." Maybe you got your full-color mailing today announcing this historic event.

My guess: she ain't gonna hear anything she don't wanna hear, and she definitely ain't gonna answer any questions she don't wanna answer.

But hey! We're Americans, and we're perfectly attuned to make-believe and to bright, shiny surfaces meant to distract us!

Let's be generous and say that 100 poor saps actually call in. Or 50. That wouldn't be a conversation. That would be cacophony. So we suspect this "event" will be strictly controlled. You can bet on that. You'll be invited to listen ... another LISTENING experience with The Madam! ... but to actually speak to her...? Not so much.

We'd rather attempt a conversation with the Vancome Lady.

N.C. GOP Ecstatic that Newest Homosexual Isn't One of Them

The acknowledgement by Democratic senatorial candidate Jim Neal that he is gay sent shivers of delight through the North Carolina right-wing today. They finally have a target who they think is more of an embarrassment to the other side than to them.

Showing that it has its priorities in perfect working order, the AP sent out a "NEWS ALERT" this a.m. about Neal's orientation, to make sure no one missed this queer moment in N.C. history. Mark Binker at the Greensboro News-Record found the AP flash rather odd, but apparently in North Carolina, it's big BIG news when a politician is actually HONEST rather than merely EXPOSED in a men's room bust.

We'll see in the fullness of time what difference this makes, and it should be an interesting race. Neal says he's ready to do battle, and Liddy Dole is as weak and brittle as spun sugar.

N.C. Senate Up for Grabs (They Say)

The folks at The Political Junkies are often quite astute about North Carolina politics, so you might want to pay attention to their analysis that the N.C. State Senate is just six key contests away from going Republican in 2008.

One of the six key races they identify for next year is the expected rematch between Steve Goss and David Blust here in Senate Dist. 45:
"District 45 is one which the Democrats did not expect to win in 2006, but did. Republicans did not fare well in the western mountains of North Carolina generally in 2006. Goss, with little money or support from the State Democrats, but with an excellent grass roots effort, pulled off an upset. Republicans will assuredly test whether Sen. Goss' election was the 'real thing' or a political blip."

Blust's clearly been working toward a return engagement for this Senate seat in 2008, and he'll have plenty of money. Blust helped form and direct Citizens for Change, which raised tens of thousands of $$, and he even hypocritically registered ASU students to vote in the recent Boone town elections. ('Course, they didn't exactly vote his way and might not again in 2008 when he's on the ballot again. The YouTube footage of Blust saying he's philosophically opposed to students voting in local elections has already been viewed thousands of times.)

Senator Goss, who has worked harder as our representative than his chief rival might have in the office, will be better financed next year, and his volunteer base hasn't gone away. Goss is indeed "the real thing."

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Mean Dean: Very Much on the Job

"Chance favors the prepared mind. Never forget it."

--Howard Dean, chair of the Democratic National Committee, defending his 50-state plan

Longish profile of Gov. Dean in today's NYTimes. Though mostly not present on American TV these days, the good guv is very much at work in the trenches, building the party in every state of the union, often against the wishes of the leading presidential contenders and their highly paid consultants.

Dean is prepared to relinquish his leadership at the end of his current term in 2009, but apparently he's gotten promises that any future Democratic standard-bearer will continue his program to contest Republicans everywhere, even in the reddest of red states.

Since we're poster-children for the Dean approach, we're gonna say "amen, Brother."

Water and the Over-Educated

We weren't looking to see the word "doomsday" used in the context of N.C.'s current water-shortage crisis, yet there it is this a.m., in the N&O, coming out of the mouth of Siler City's town manager.

Meanwhile, and as an abiding symbol of how elite universities can share the burden of "do without," Duke & UNC-Chapel Hill made the news earlier last week for watering its Astroturf. Yep. The synthetic grass for field hockey is watered before each game and before each practice. The balls bounce better on wet Astroturf.

And don't criticize the universities for this massive waste of water. Poor things! They're FORCED to do this, they say, by the International Hockey Federation, whose rule-makers don't give a fig, evidently, about North Carolina's drought.

Well, as long as you have no option, guys! Maybe Siler City can beg for your run-off.

And incidentally, did you know that N.C. has a "Drought Management Advisory Council"? The counties where Astroturf gets a good soaking several times a week are both listed as suffering from "Exceptional Drought," the most dire designation.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Only in America: A Joke Can Have Criminal Consequences

Dire warnings to Stephen Colbert, that his announced run for the presidency in South Carolina on both the Republican and the Democratic party tickets, may violate billions of laws, for which he may be financially liable or even go to jail.

It's terrible when the biggest jokes in the nation, the dudes who run the Federal Election Commission, can't take a joke.

Colbert isn't the first goof-ball to run for president. Pat Paulsen did it in 1968, 1972, 1980, 1988, 1992, and 1996, and he actually got on the ballot several times in New Hampshire in the Democratic primary. He came in second to President Bill Clinton in 1996 (granted, there were only two on the ballot), and he came in second to President George Bush in 1992 in the North Dakota Republican Primary. Don't ever remember any stink with the FEC about his multiple candidacies, even though he was famous for telling outrageous lies, using double-talk, and launching attacks against his rivals.

'Course, Colbert is considerably more famous than Pat Paulsen ever was and hence considerably more dangerous to the humor-impaired, including to "Papa Bear" Bill O'Reilly.

Drive-Time With Crummie Cocktails

Dr. Bob Crummie, the Rutherford County medical practitioner with a degree from Duke, has been suspended from medical practice for a month by the N.C. Medical Board ... following his third conviction for driving while impaired.

That doesn't even account for his prescribing cures while mentally whacked. Dr. Crummie is fairly notorious for believing that homosexuality is a hoax and that lobotomy is both under-appreciated and under-utilized.

He's also firm about the values of alcohol as a navigational tool in a moving automobile:
Crummie told a Medical Board investigator that, "were it not for the present DWI laws, he would have a bar in his office and have a drink at the end of the day and a drink in his hand on his drive home," according to the board.

Dr. Crummie, bon vivant. We'll have what he's drinking (but not what he's thinking)!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Noblesse Oblige of Madam Foxx

Madam Virginia Foxx, who won't speak to reporters at the Winston-Salem Journal, has nevertheless submitted an editorial for publication in that newspaper. It's a good thing when a U.S. representative won't take questions but gets to dictate her own content.

I support extending the current children's health-care program.

Whatever. When I was a poor child, which was most of my life, I boiled pencil shavings for salve.


If Congress is going to push a program to socialize medicine for all Americans young and old, it should say so.

"Socialized medicine" is the new "liberal." Apply liberally.


But selling a program as children's health insurance and leaving the door open to adults is simply false advertising.

Keep all doors locked. Shoot stray dogs.


The bill merely requires a Social Security number as proof of citizenship. In light of the fact that many illegal immigrants use stolen Social Security numbers...

Stealing is soooo easy.


This is a cynical fiscal shell game.

I can also say "six thick thistlesticks" too, very rapidly.


But the House Democratic leadership has refused to compromise. Instead they've done their best to politicize an important issue.

Don't you just hate it when people get to the free food ahead of you!

Denial Is Also a River in Egypt

In yesterday's Watauga Democrat, in a guest column not included in the on-line edition (so far as we could find), Mary Ruth McRae, a 28-year veteran of the Boone Area Planning Commission (and incidentally a faculty member at ASU), takes the Appalachian State University Board of Trustees to task for the full-page (color) ad the trustees ran multiple times in local papers just prior to the Boone Town Council elections: Ms. McRae:
This advertisement is a set of statements that, if lawyering were involved, would be described as "pounding the table." We remember the old saw, "If you have the facts on your side, argue the facts; if you have the law on your side, argue the law; but if you don't have the law or the facts on your side, pound the table."

If lawyering were involved.

That was sly, since, yes, lawyering was involved in that particular ad. Its chief architect is not only a lawyer but also chair of the ASU Board of Trustees.

At a meeting of the ASU Faculty Senate on Monday, Oct. 8th, that lawyer was asked why the university, through its Board of Trustees, would get so nakedly involved in a political campaign. Some of the faculty senators thought such political involvement was out of line. Some thought it was unseemly.

But the lawyer denied that any political motivations were involved, an answer that was not widely believed by that particular jury.

Mary Ruth McRae calls the ad "table-pounding." We don't know what to call the denial.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

'Saggy Pants' Ordinance Nixed in Charlotte

Flash! There's still some common sense on the hoof in the Queen City!

Charlie Taylor ... Fading Away

This news about the defeated Republican Congressman Charlie Taylor (NC-11) pretty much speaks louder than any words he's chosen to utter, especially to his own party activists in western N.C. For some reason, Ole Charlie just can't quite bring himself to admit publicly that it's over for him.

But clearly, it's over.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Boone Voting Results and a Whole New Scandal

The certified results from the Boone election, including the 60 provisional ballots that were approved (top five, in rank order):

Phillips 1,081
Mason 1,067
Aycock 1,050
Wilcox 1,046
Spann 1,035

Posting this at 1:52 p.m. (by the clock on my computer) ... please note the time-stamp on this blog post for what will follow below subsequently.

Jeff Templeton filed an Election Protest Complaint at the canvass this morning, which was disallowed because he does not live in town and therefore had no legal standing to make a complaint. Only after the proceedings did we learn that we were the subject of the complaint. He alleges that we posted on WataugaWatch the results of Early Voting at 4:56 p.m. on the day of the election.

Since according to his own complaint the Early Voting ballots weren't counted in the Board of Elections office until after 5 p.m., he speculates that I must not have reset the clock on my computer to Daylight Savings Time ... to preserve his theory that I had and released the Early Voting tallies some hour-and-a-half before the polls closed. (Incidentally, my computer -- miracle of miracles! -- resets itself every time we move from Standard to Daylight Time, and back again.)

It was actually after the polls closed, some time after 7:30 p.m. on that Tuesday, that I posted the Early Voting tallies. The time-stamp on the blog post is not placed there by my computer but by the host machinery in California.

Sorry, but I did not post any results prior to the polls' closing and could not have negatively impacted the election.

Mr. Templeton might have realized this too had he also noted the timestamp on my posting of the final vote tallies from Tuesday night ... 6:40 p.m. By his theory I not only posted the Early Voting tallies way early but the final results too. A neat trick.

Fourth-place finisher Dempsey Wilcox has called for a run-off. It will be between him and 3rd-place finisher Liz Aycock.

Monday, October 15, 2007

May Your Brains Be as Bushy as Your Tails

Because we're not getting any younger and because we monitor ourselves obsessively for advanced warning signs of Alzheimer's (drooling doesn't necessarily count), this article by an AP medical reporter offered us some insight and some hope.

Turns out that a "bushy" brain is a gooder thing than a non-bushy one. From the article:
...A healthy brain is a bushy one. Branch-like tentacles extend from the ends of the brain's cells, enabling them to communicate with each other. The more you learn, the more those connections form.

Alzheimer's kills neurons, so the cells disappear along with connections their neighbors need.

With normal aging, the cells don't die but their bushes can shrivel to skinny twigs, explained Dr. Carol Barnes of the University of Arizona. Cells that are less connected have a harder time sending messages. You may know someone's name, but not be able to recall it.

Happens to us on a daily basis. We see someone coming our way whom we've known for three decades, but their name doesn't arrive with them. Uh-oh, we think. Alzheimer's.

No, just barer twigs where flower and fruit used to hang.

Turns out that brain bushiness may be maintained as much by physical exercise as by anything else, which is one of the reasons we keep dogs. Parker Posie and Annie Doo require -- no, demand -- a three-miler every day of the year. Though we're not always ecstatic to comply, we're always glad that we've gone on those walks.

The other recommended exercise is mental ... crossword puzzles. About which we confess that we have become increasingly obsessed in our old age. Tell us to eat more gooseberries, and we'd probably do that too. Though with less enjoyment.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

More on Jim Neal for U.S. Senate

The best thing about this dude is that he doesn't seem to care that people don't think he has a prayer against Liddy Dole. He has nothing to lose (which has been the problem with all the established politicians who've been touted as potential candidates -- none of them want to give up their present positions to take on Dole.)

We're beginning to like Neal better, with everything new we read about him!

Hillary as a GOP Rallying Cry

Former Republican Mayor of Raleigh, Tom Fetzer (who was a guest panelist on NCSpin this morning), is quoted in the N&O hoping that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee for president, as it will give the state GOP a new lease on life.

Fetzer is now a political consultant, and you KNOW how they plot! He's working for Republican candidate for N.C. governor Bill Graham.

"If past history is a guide, she is going to get 40 percent of the vote in North Carolina," Fetzer said of Clinton. "When Republicans get in the high 50s or the low 60s, the Republicans wreak havoc."

Havoc is exactly the word for it.

We confess that it's been our own personal worry for months, that the Hillary Clinton candidacy would do us no good in North Carolina on the local, the regional, and the statewide scene.

But like all conventional wisdom, our worries and Tom Fetzer's wet dream may turn out to be less ... fulfilling than initially imagined. First, we're not quite resigned yet to the Hillary candidacy (close but not entirely). And second, the Right Wing may have exhausted the limits of its anti-Clintonian hatred by next August, so that Fetzer's assumption of a white-hot anti-Hillary movement in N.C. may be vastly exaggerated.

Especially considering that the state's Republican candidates for governor are being so out-paced by Democratic candidate fundraising. The air has already gone out of the GOP balloon. Might take more than Hillary to reinflate it.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Lessons From the Raleigh City Elections

Gary Pearce, on Talking Politics, offers analysis of the anti-growth results in last Tuesday's election in the village of Raleigh:
The real estate folks may be brilliant business people. But they're dumb politicians .... The developers -- and businesses generally -- don't understand how politics has changed. Just giving candidates money isn't enough. You should use your money to influence public opinion, not just influence candidates. The ultimate source of political power is not money. It's votes.

We don't know the $$ figures from Raleigh, but the tsunami of cash that Team Templeton threw into the Boone Town Council races produced less than expected. The CFC PAC certainly influenced public opinion. One might suggest they stirred up about equal animosity toward Town Council incumbents and toward themselves. But anyway, according to Jeff Templeton, they didn't really care about the mayor's seat, since it's a "figurehead" position. That'll come as comfort to Tim Wilson. And the one Town Council member they may have helped elect outright (depending on next Tuesday's canvass) was voted in partially on his success at convincing town progressives that he's a liberal Democrat. Was that the message CFC intended to send?

Race Against Liddy Dole Gains Clarity

Jim Neal, a Chapel Hill investment banker, is the sole Democrat in the state of North Carolina willing to take on a weakened Elizabeth Dole in the senate race next year. At least he's the only Democrat so far.

The last hope of seeing N.C. State Representative Grier Martin in the race were ended on Friday. An Army active-duty veteran of the Afghanistan war, Martin would have made an attractive candidate for pro-military North Carolinians. Oh well. Before Martin, there were bright last hopes too in N.C. State Senator Kay Hagan, in state A.G. Roy Cooper, in U.S. House Rep. Brad Miller, even in Governor No Show ... but all of them, and a few lesser-known names to boot, have declined the race.

We all want to know more about Jim Neal, since for the moment at least he's IT. He has started a blog on his website (emphasis on started, because there's only a single post ... but hey!). At least one of his up-sides is that he can probably raise money.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Congrats, Al

You ole lumpa coal, you! You done done it! You won the Nobel Peace Prize. None too shabby.

And so what ... that you're sharing it with the U.N. climate change panel. You've always been about sharing. We're proud of you.

Now, about your future plans...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Did you hear the one about the subdivision in Henderson County, supplied by a for-profit water company, who've now been without water for days because the owner of the water company didn't keep his system maintained and simply abandoned it?

It's going to take the city of Hendersonville to rescue these folks.

This piece of free-market chicanery might come as a blow to John Hood of the John Locke Foundation, who urges us all to see the beauty of water-privatization. If this bunch could only figger out how to make money off of breathable air!

Water is essential to life, and putting its supply into the hands of profiteers is a bargain with the devil.

Happening All Over

CLEMMONS, N.C. -- Growth and development in Clemmons top the list of priorities for the six people who have filed to run for three contested seats on the village council [on Nov. 6th]....

Critics of the council say that development, especially commercial development in the Lewisville-Clemmons Road area, has gone unchecked, and even the incumbents agree that steps need to be taken to make driving safer as new developments are built out....

(W-S Journal)

SCHIP Veto Protest in Clemmons

Despite overwhelming bi-partisan support for the bill, Madam Virginia Foxx voted against the State Children's Health Insurance Program or SCHIP, effectively denying healthcare to 116,000 North Carolina children, many of whom are her own constituents. (She no doubt plans to pray for them instead.)

Yesterday a group of NC-5 citizens joined a nationwide protest of the president's veto of the SCHIP bill near Madam Foxx's Clemmons office. Not mentioned in the W-S Journal coverage was the presence of Coach Roy Carter, the first announced Democratic candidate against Foxx.

"I am outraged that the person who was elected to represent the people of our district would betray her constituents and turn her back on innocent children in need," Coach Carter said. "Virginia Foxx's callous vote against the State Children's Health Insurance Program was a vote against working families, a vote against our children's future, and a vote that flies in the face of common sense and defies morality."

Jonathan Cohn has an excellent background primer on SCHIP at The Plank, along with a discussion of the right wing's attack on a 12-year-boy and his family who filmed the Democrats' response to El Presidente's veto, and how that attack has backfired.

Universities Getting Involved in Political Campaigns

From this a.m.'s NYTimes:
A suit filed by three former professors charges financial, political and personal irregularities by the president of Oral Roberts University, including a claim that he illegally mobilized students to campaign for a Republican mayoral candidate.

Whaaa? How unprecedented is that?

Cause for Concern

A slowdown in the housing market and slumping consumer sales = a western N.C. economy growing at below national levels. And "we have seen no net gain in jobs since the end of last year." (Western North Carolina Economic Index prepared at Appalachian State University)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Stuck in a Rut

Whither the Watauga GOP after yesterday's election?

For answers to that question, one needed to tune in to the Jim Hastings radio show this a.m., since he and the other Jim are the big mouths for the local Republicans. One tack they took is time-worn and expected, but two new pivots (one of them 180 degrees) are worth noting:

1. Pam is evil. It's all Pam's fault. Pam is going to hell

2. (Here's the 180, though, granted, it's a 180 BACK to a prior position) Students shouldn't be allowed to vote in local elections

3. County Commissioner John Cooper suddenly emerges as favorite punching bag. Why? Because he supported the Democratic incumbents in the Town Council race

We applaud all of these talking points (especially # 2), since they signal that overbearing personalities are incapable of learning anything new.
Slow-growth candidates in Cary, N.C., whipped butt yesterday, and voters in Raleigh put in people who intend to raise fees on developers to pay for new roads and parks. (N&O wrap-up)

Closer to home, the W-S Journal story on the Boone election is waaay premature in pronouncing who won and who lost and just plain wrong about this: "The runoff election will be next Tuesday." No, the provisional votes will be counted next Tuesday, at which point a runoff election MIGHT be called by whoever's in fourth place ... and that could be any of the (present) top five vote-getters.

Boone Boom

It would be pointless and wholly premature to offer any deep analysis of yesterday's election until after the opening and judging of some four-score provisional ballots next Tuesday ... because those votes could still change everything. With the top five candidates all within 51 votes of one another, every finish position could change. Seriously.

Nevertheless, it's very clear that Mayor Loretta Clawson was a big winner and will not be impacted by provisionals. She's the top mayoral vote-winner in Boone's history.

And if you're looking for clear losers ... look no further than ASU's Chancellor, since there's no way the provisional votes can put Mr. Peacock's preferred team into power. The university will actually now have to carry through with its lip-service to mutual planning and cooperation with the Town of Boone.

If any air got cleared yesterday, it's just that: Appalachian State University is a member of a community and not an empire unto itself.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Boone -- Final

Clawson 1,222
Wilson 925

Town Council
Aycock 1,015
Blocker 226
Dodson 858
Freeman 51
Mason 1,038
Phillips 1,062
Spann 1,011
Taylor 32
Wilcox 1,028

Provisional ballots (of which there are several dozen) are not included here. But this is everything else (including the early vote already reported).

Run-off for the # 3 slot? Dunno yet.

Boone Town Council Races -- First Numbers

Early voting and mail-in absentee ballots were counted first:

Clawson 606
Wilson 482

Town Council
Aycock 495
Blocker 72
Dodson 412
Mason 534
Phillips 547
Spann 539
Wilcox 536

Obviously all comes down to who voted today, and how.

Dan Bartlett Shivs Fred Thompson

"Our biggest dud" (NOT "dude") is how one of El Presidente's closest advisors, Dan Bartlett, describes ex-Sen. Fred Thompson. And the man knows his duds!

Bartlett was equally brutal in his assessment of much of the rest of the Republican presidential field.

N&O Calls Out Foxx for Misrepresentation

Foxx lies about a national poll, and the N&O catches her at it.

Meanwhile, Madam Foxx always complains about how partisan Democrats are, while she remains pristinely above politics. The Charlotte Observer captures her at work:
About 200 N.C. business leaders came to Washington last week to hear what their members of Congress were doing for them. The meeting offered an interesting glimpse at some of the lawmakers' varying styles.

Rep. Bob Etheridge, a Lillington Democrat, reminded folks they were sitting in a first-strike zone for terrorist attacks.

The organizer, Rep. Mike McIntyre, a Democrat from Lumberton, recited lofty quotes from President Kennedy and others.

Rep. Robin Hayes, a licensed pilot, ribbed his colleagues and told a couple jokes. (Delta, he says, stands for "didn't even leave the airport.")

Rep. Heath Shuler, a freshman Democrat from Waynesville, told the business executives they'd be waiting "a long time" if they were relying on Congress for help.

Shuler encouraged them to reach back to a time when a community would rally to rebuild a neighbors' burned-down house instead of asking whether they had property insurance.

The drama came when Rep. Virginia Foxx of Banner Elk, one of only two participating Republicans, began ticking off reasons she thought the Democratic leadership was ineffective.

It was at the point she called them "fiscal predators" that Rep. Mel Watt, a Democrat from Charlotte, abruptly stood up and said just loud enough to be heard on the way out the door, "I think I'm going to leave on that note."

Watt returned to the room as soon as Foxx stopped speaking.

Takes a Foxx to recognize a predator.

"Predators," accused the woman who's never been known to abandon a buffet without a purse stuffed full of free biscuits.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Breaking News

The Templeton lawsuit against the Town of Boone's steep-slope regs has been dismissed.

Our understanding is that the Templeton side withdrew its lawsuit because they didn't have a case and didn't want a judge to throw them out. Dismissing "without prejudice" means they can refile at a later date, but they will have to start over from scratch.

Jeff Templeton is on GoBlueRidge spinning like mad about this. Whatever.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

(Virtual) Killing for Christ

Some churches evidently feel the only way to "relate" to teenage boys, and to get them through the churchhouse doors, is to host "game nights" with the new Halo 3 video game. This ain't pin the tail on the donkey.

And get this: while Halo 3 is age restricted -- you have to be at least 17 to buy the game -- churches have become neighborhood pushers to 13-year-olds of video opiates unavailable to them otherwise.

Anything for the Kingdom of Christ, right? Because Jesus said, "Thou shalt practice preemptive war, even as the saints did before you."

Ah, new "values voters" in the making!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Don't Throw Gov. Aycock From the Train

I stood on "Mulberry Row" at Monticello and listened to a young tour guide describe the realities of being a slave on the plantation of our third president, Thomas Jefferson. The young man who was telling us these things riveted me with very specific and deep knowledge of his subject but also with the daring of his presentation. He was telling us unsavory things about an American saint on the very ground that saint once trod and onto which we tourists had all gained admission by paying $20 each. What did we think we were getting for our $20? We probably thought we would be reaffirmed in our smug belief in Mr. Jefferson's sainthood. We definitely weren't looking for reality, but we got it anyway. It was the most memorable and jarring experience I ever had at an American historic shrine, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

The fact is that I still revere Mr. Jefferson for his democratic ideals and his skeptical, inquiring mind, even as I recognize the crushing grip of white privilege that enwrapped and constrained him. In his lifetime, Jefferson told more than one friend that he abhorred the institution of slavery, but he couldn't seem to stop himself from enjoying its many fruits. The paradox of that is nothing more than the paradox of human nature. Every great man, and every little man too, is a walking congress of contradictions. Where there is goodness, it may exist in tension with a stabbing badness. Sight often alternates with blindness. Courage sleeps in the same bed with fear.

What makes the difference in the way we ordinary mortals view great men, whether we extol the virtue and ignore the vice, has much more to do with the passage of time.

The problem with the man pictured above, Charles Brantley Aycock (who was N.C. Governor from 1901-1905), is that there hasn't been enough time yet. His white supremacist activities, which contributed not only to the white coup d'etat against the black government of Wilmington in 1898 (with multiple black deaths) but to the whole system of Jim Crow segregation that held blacks down through most of the 20th century, is right now threatening to overwhelm what good he did.

Until recently, most of Gov. Aycock's unsavory racist history has been carefully scrubbed. In its place were his good deeds alone. He was the "education governor" of North Carolina. He was responsible for completely transforming and reforming the dismal state of public schooling in this state. During his four years in office, Aycock pushed to build some 690 new schoolhouses. That amounted to, like, three new schools a week for every week he was in office.

So Aycock has been revered. His name graces one of two of the annual fundraising dinners put on by the N.C. Democratic Party, the Vance-Aycock Dinner happening today (as a matter of fact) in Asheville.

Then a group of right-wing Republican activists decided to embarrass the state Democratic Party by highlighting Aycock's racist past, demanding that his name be taken off the fundraising banquet, a demand which has seemed to spark a stampede toward disavowing Aycock.

Reassessing Aycock and acknowledging his own "Mulberry Row" is both necessary and salutary. But I think of Thomas Jefferson, and the paradox of his good/ill living side by side in the same human frame. We can accept the Jefferson paradox now perhaps because he has a hundred years more of mellowing in our collective memories. The discomfort with Aycock has to do with much more recent history, still turning rancid in the New South sun.

I think we should be able to celebrate Aycock's good accomplishments without embracing his racist blindness. I'm uncomfortable having our heroes approved or vetoed by a Republican group for political advantage, especially when those "Carolina Stompers" seem to have no appreciation for their own paradoxes, let alone the paradox in the human condition.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Let's All Get Up-Tight

The Party of Personal Freedom in Charlotte wants you to pull up your pants.

Bill James, a Republican County Commissioner in Mecklenburg, is starting a movement to ban baggy pants as "indecent exposure."

Following the recent trend among Republican office-holders to decry in public the sins they commit in private, we're willing to bet a shiny new penny that Bill James slouches around his own house in baggy pants.

More Echoes

The Independent profiles the nasty campaign going on in Durham, between an incumbent mayor and a challenger who represents the John Locke Foundation and the Civitas Institute. And, boy, does this sound familiar!
The differences between [challenger Thomas] Stith's public persona and private political maneuverings point to a curious duality: When he speaks on the council, he sounds like he's offering a reasonable, measured parsing of the issues; yet his campaign strategies are risky, even offensive, attacks torn from the dirty-politics playbook. In addition to the push polls, a campaign mailer showcases photos of [incumbent Mayor Bill] Bell's contorted face, and automated "robo-calls" claimed Durham intentionally harbors undocumented immigrants .... Stith is evasive when questioned about these tactics, his own spotty record on council, and $108,000 in campaign contributions, primarily from wealthy business owners....

But make no mistake: Stith is conservative and so are his issues. And he is seen as part of a Republican effort to upend Democratic leadership....

We hear that! The nastiness of the Boone Town Council elections are as much about attempting a local Republican resurgence in 2008 as it is about how supposedly immoral steep-slope regulations are.


There's a home-made music video up on a local political website saying that a certain mayoral candidate listens "to the ones with the dough." A hand-lettered roadside sign claims that the incumbent mayor "lied." The word "hypocrite" is being used by both sides. Above all else, rapid growth is THE issue motivating voters.

But the campaign referred to here isn't in Boone. It's in Cary, which will also hold it's town elections next Tuesday.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Waynesville Town Elections: An Echo of Boone

The Smoky Mountain News does a good job of outlining the struggle in another western N.C. mountain town, Waynesville, between progressive town government and the rage of developers who resent any restrictions or local performance standards.

Though we admit that the "mild grumbling" of developers in Waynesville holds no candle to the loud-mouthed roar we've been treated to in Boone.

It's the still, small voice of town-dwellers, hither and thither, that may end up speaking loudest: "We want growth planned and controlled." The citizens have been saying that consistently and insistently in the most unlikely places, as in the mountain towns and counties of North Carolina.

Trying to out-scream and out-spend and out-smear everybody may work in the short-term, but the screamers and spenders and smearers are mounting their self-interests against a growing tide of community solidarity. If the future belongs to selfishness and profit alone, then we have seriously misplaced our faith in American democracy.

Evangelical 'Slam-Dancing' May Not Be Helping Christian Witness

Revolution in Jesusland is presenting some interesting research about the perception of Christians among young non-Christians (and young Christians alike, though we don't see what numbers of either group were included).

Some highlights from the discussion:

All the anti-gay marriage ballot initiatives and other anti-gay campaigning have really been ravaging the perception of Christianity among the general public, and even among young Christians.

Favorability ratings for gays have been shooting up over the past several decades, from low single digits to 33% today, despite the best efforts of the Christian Right to demonize the "gay agenda"

Meanwhile, the favorability rating for "evangelicals" among the same group plummeted from high numbers to 3%

Apparently, this research was not greeted with even majority approval at the Christian gathering where it was presented.

The Fred Thompson Campaign Has No Pulse

High-larious article in the NYTimes about Fred Thompson in Iowa. He appears to have ingested an unusually large dose of Placidyl. At a campaign stop in Nevada, Iowa, voters apparently did not realize he had stopped speaking, so they didn't applaud. "Can I have a round of applause," the candidate pleaded.

If you're a political operative (and who isn't these days?), here's a parade of adjectives and nouns you would never want associated with your candidate: "...subdued and sonorous, a laconic presence who spoke in a soft monotone, threw few elbows and displayed little drive to distinguish himself from his opponents."


Yet this sleepwalking ex-senator is the overwhelming choice for president of N.C. Republicans ... ahead of Giuliani.

May their wishes come true!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Cloak and Dagger (More Dagger Than Cloak)

A mole in the Citizens for Change PAC meeting last night has passed this word to us:

●About 50 people attended, all well known names from the signature ad that appeared in Monday's Watauga Democrat. The CFC's last meeting will be this Thursday. Tim Wilson was in attendance; the rest of the CFC-endorsed candidates were not.

● Phil and Jeff Templeton conduct the meetings. Jeff does most of the talking.

● A hired consultant was the centerpiece of the meeting -- young, well dressed, good looking, described as VERY smart. He tells them what to do.

● The consultant had earlier laid out the following plan: put out 4 major "issues." Hit the first one really hard, sit back and wait for a response from the incumbents. The plan was to put the incumbents on the defensive and then move to the next issue. "If they have to play defense, they can't score."

● Jeff Templeton is described as very pushy. Said there were only a few days of early voting left. All CFC members have been told to call all those they know who have students in the family attending a college somewhere. Consultant's plan is to get them to return to Boone this Saturday and vote. The consultant was particularly insistent about making this happen.

● CFC has T-shirts ready for poll workers to wear on election day.

Breaking News

-----Original Message-----
From: Dan Meyer
Sent: Wed, 3 Oct 2007 12:45 pm

To all members of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce 10/3/2007

Regarding a post card sent by Citizens For Change to Chamber Members.

The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce is a membership organization encouraging involvement from the business sector, non-profit organizations and interested individuals. We currently have over sixty non-profit organizations in our membership.

The Citizens for Change group joined the Chamber as a nonprofit. Historically, we have had political organizations/campaigns join the Chamber during election years for the purpose of getting out their message. Any member of the Chamber may request a mailing list to use for their organization's distribution of information.


In the October issue of the Chamber VOICE distributed on October 1, 2007, was an article titled, "Chamber Suggests Candidate Qualities." The stated purpose of that article was to "promote participation in our electoral process." The last line of that article reads: "IT IS THE POLICY OF THE BOONE AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE NOT TO ENDORSE ANY POLITICAL PARTY OR INDIVIDUAL CANDIDATE OR TO PARTICIPATE IN ANY SPECIAL INTEREST OR POLITICAL ACTION GROUP."

We affirm and stand by that statement!

The Chamber's published Strategic Plan states that we will "forge strong relationships with elected officials, state agencies and the legislature." As a result, the Chamber has created a good working relationship with our local government entities. We are a unique Chamber to be included in receiving appropriations from both the Town of Boone and Watauga County.

Dan Meyer, Pres/CEO
Boone Area Chamber of Commerce
208 Howard Street, Boone, NC 28607

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Consider Yourselves Warned

CHICAGO (AP) -- A surprising study of elderly people suggests that those who see themselves as self-disciplined, organized achievers have a lower risk for developing Alzheimer's disease than people who are less conscientious.

A purposeful personality may somehow protect the brain, perhaps by increasing neural connections that can act as a reserve against mental decline, said study co-author Robert Wilson of Chicago's Rush University Medical Center.

Astoundingly, the brains of some of the dutiful people in the study were examined after their deaths and were found to have lesions that would meet accepted criteria for Alzheimer's -- even though these people had shown no signs of dementia.

Henderson County GOP Implodes

You may want to rush to take a look at how the former webmaster of the Henderson County Republican Party defaced the party's website on his way out the door. This surely won't be allowed to remain up and accessible for very long.

The resigned webmaster is pissed that former Congressman Charlie Taylor wouldn't give party leaders a straight answer about his intentions in 2008 (will he run again?), and he's mad that his county party chair squelched a no-confidence motion against Taylor.

This dude is part of the new mean group of western North Carolina Republican activists, Carolina Stompers, whose name adequately reflects their attitude about tactics.

Much of the resigned webmaster's rage is directed at the Henderson Co. GOP Chair, who has now announced that he's actually running for Charlie Taylor's old seat. Carl Mumpower, an Asheville city councilman, is already in the race. So this sets up the perfect scenario for Charlie Taylor to pop back up and win the Republican primary, with his opposition divided between the other two guys.

In any event, all these developments should be good news for Democratic Congressman Heath Shuler.

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Mugging of Boone

Citizens for Change are out with an expensive eight-page, multi-color piece of propaganda masquerading as journalism, "Boone News," which is mainly a recycling of much of the stuff they're already injected into the media bloodstream:

● It's the incumbents' fault there isn't a Target up here, which means Loretta Clawson is personally costing you $1,000-a-year that you could otherwise be saving
● Boone's steep-slope regs are an unnecessary burden (on CFC members)
● The water shortage is (still) a myth
● ASU can get anything it wants from Wilson, Wilcox, Phillips, and Dodson

Along with additional accusations, including the assertion that it is Citizens for Change who've been the VICTIMS of negative campaigning, perpetrated primarily by the author of this blog. Time out while I go


This claim of victimhood by the likes of Team Templeton is accompanied by one -- all of ONE -- out-of-context quote from WataugaWatch. Since "Boone News" does not bother to provide a link, allow me. Go here to read what I actually wrote. In making a larger point about the grudge certain developers have against the TOB, I mocked a letter to the editor that was eminently mockable for manufacturing a straw horse. The letter-writer said that the hated progressives on Town Council might deface their own yard signs for political advantage. Riiight.

Otherwise, "Boone News" offers not one example, let alone a single link to a posting on this blog, to prove their allegation that it is I -- not they -- who is practicing the politics of destruction ... perhaps because there aren't any primary postings here to prove that accusation. They make generalizations about what they imagine I've said, NOT about what I've actually written here.

(The hair-brained, over-the-top postings of anonymous snipers in comment threads are not what I'm talking about, including those anonymous nasty comments by CFC supporters and funders. Anonymous posters are actually legally responsible for what they say, despite the illusion of a Cloak of Invisibility shrouding their identities.)

What "Boone News" does NOT reprint in its little eight-page "newspaper" are its character assassinations of Lynne Mason (in particular) that were published in local newspapers. Someone said to us at Farmer's Market last Saturday morning that the attacks on Lynne Mason had made them physically ill. You know you're in the presence of a special kind of malignancy when your stomach churns at the words they utter against good people.

Lynne Mason is one of a handful of ACTUAL Christians that I've been privileged to know (as opposed to all the fake Christians we hear bragging about their personal righteousness on a daily basis), a woman who has worked tirelessly for down-and-out people even as she has worked tirelessly for the general citizenry of the Town of Boone. The people who attacked Lynne Mason in the personal and vicious way she's been attacked are capable of just about anything, including evidently the marvelous fiction of their own victimhood.

There'll be no knowing until after the election how much combined money Templeton and CFC and the four CFC-endorsed candidates have spent to beat Boone into submission. It's obviously way up into the tens of thousands of dollars by now. They've likely spent enough to win an N.C. Senate seat in a metropolitan district. Clearly, they see their commitment of cold hard cash as an investment toward BIG future profits.

We'll also not know until after the election who their hired gun was, what outside political operator they brought in to mastermind the negative attacks and manage the media buys and the targeting. We suspect it'll turn out to be someone like this guy.

In the meantime, if Templeton manages to buy this election, Boone can look forward to government conducted in very much the same vein as this campaign has been waged.

Whither the Roberts Court?

We've begun to cringe at the thought of a new term of the Bush Supremes, reconvening this week for God knows what mischief, but then we begin to read about the cases the Supreme Court has refused to hear, letting stand lower court rulings that might appear "liberal" (gasp!) on their face.

For example, the High Court is letting stand a lower-court ruling that some religious organizations can be forced to pay for workers' birth-control health insurance benefits, especially if the org is engaged in essentially non-religious social service work that caters to people of different faiths. North Carolina is one of 23 states that have similar laws.

The Supremes have also declined to hear the plea of a religious group that claims it ought to be allowed to use a public library for worship services, letting stand the ruling of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California. Generally speaking, the Scalia-Thomas-Roberts axis on the court is all too eager to rebuke the "San Francisco values" of the 9th Circuit.

And the decision of the court not to hear this Big Tobacco appeal from Florida makes it appear that the court has not yet tipped entirely toward the interests of corporations.

This court watcher says not to be fooled by the Court's left fake. Pretty good analysis, we guess.

Christian Right Loses Might

"The nearly three-decade-long ascendancy [of Christian conservatives] in the Republican Party is over."

So saith Steven Thomma, a religion reporter for the McClatchy newspapers.

He marshals what evidence he has of that, none more potent than Rudy Giuliani's popularity in Republican polls (and the corresponding anemia of Sam Brownback's and Mike Huckabee's numbers).

The American public may just be fed up with politicians who want to be Preacher in Chief. And with puritanical pressure groups whose own houses have revealed plenty of disorder.

At a secret meeting in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Mullah James Dobson and other Christian conservative leaders threatened to mount a third-party candidate if Rudy Giuliani gets the Republican nomination.