Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Your Grandfather's GOP

Bless their hearts, but a cabal on the Republican National Committee intends to force conservative orthodoxy on their elected leaders, fashioning a resolution that they intend to ram through at their end-of-January national meeting which says flat-out that George W. Bush has taken the country toward socialism. And men like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader John A. Boehner aided and abetted.

"Socialism." Might as well have accused Shrub of being a dirty, 5th-column Commie. Well, as a matter of fact...

We applaud this upwelling of The Pure in the National Republican Party and can't wait to see this played out.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Life Finds a Way

News this a.m. about so-called "abstinence pledges" ("I promise God and all His angels that I shall not fornicate until I am successfully and legally married, and then only with my successful and legal spouse...") makes us flash on this moment from "Jurassic Park":
Henry Wu: You're implying that a group composed entirely of female animals will... breed?

Dr. Ian Malcolm: No, I'm simply saying that life, uh... finds a way.

The fantasies of adults that somehow, given enough doses of super-religion, their teenaged children will not sniff out opportunities for unbridled sexuality -- and that, furthermore, to teach them how to protect themselves from disease/unwanted pregnancies is more vile than catching the disease/unwanted pregnancy -- has been dealt a scientific blow by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

A "large study" by the aforenamed group found that teenagers who had promised God they would remain virgins were just as likely to have premarital sex as heathen teenagers, but -- much worse -- they were "significantly less likely" to use condoms once they succumbed to carnal urges.


But because this is scientific research and not divinely inspired wishful thinking, it will be ignored.

Dear Governor Easley...

Going to war with the news media for reporting the news ... not the most graceful exit we've seen.

A Citizen

Monday, December 29, 2008

Laurelmor Has a New Owner

Scant details, as of yet.

Bottom Drops Out for Recyclables

It seems counter-intuitive to us, that the market for recycled cans, paper, plastic should have collapsed, since one might think that in a down-economy, salvaging use out of discards would be a smart move.

But no. High Point, N.C., is currently stockpiling recycled cans and paper because the market for them is so down that the city will lose money ... from what had been a fairly profitable transaction. Greensboro had projected a profit of $450,000 from its recycling program in fiscal 2008, until the bottom dropped out.

"We've seen prices where we have to pay to get rid of it," said a regional manager for North Carolina municipal recycling. Ouch.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

What Conservatives Think Is Funny

Chip Saltsman, Tennessee Republican operative and campaign manager for Mike Huckabee, is a self-declared candidate for chair of the Republican National Committee, and he thought it would be cool to send out Christmas greetings to all 168 members of the Republican National Committee, who'll be voting for their new party chair come January, and to tuck in a bonus CD of Rush Limbaugh-inspired novelty songs, one of which was "Barack the Magic Negro." Other songs on the CD, all of which enjoyed some air time on Rush Limbaugh's radio show, include "John Edwards' Poverty Tour," "Wright Place, Wrong Pastor," "Love Client #9," "Ivory and Ebony," and "The Star Spanglish Banner."

Chip Saltsman thought it was funny, bless his heart. Others ... not so much.

"I am shocked and appalled," Mike Duncan, the current party chairman, said in a statement released Saturday. Mr. Duncan's shock, appalling as it was, might have been ramped up somewhat by the fact that he's running against Saltsman (and four others) to continue in his job as party chair.

Newt Gingrich was even more categorical in his denunciation: "This is so inappropriate that it should disqualify any Republican National Committee candidate who would use it."

Blah, blah, blah.

We wouldn't be talking about this even now except that as of today there's a new North Carolina wrinkle: Dr. Ada Fisher, a Salisbury doctor and one of only three black members of the Republican National Committee, wrote an open letter to Saltsman:
"Racist actions and deeds have no place in the party. The lack of sensitivity in understanding the historical election we just had and the challenges this nation faces as we must bind our wounds as well as bring our people together requires that we set aside our biases and search out those constitutional principles inherent in our nation's foundings and our parties operation which must undergrid us as we move forward."

Okay then. Dr. Ada Fisher, bless her heart, trying to talk a little racial sensitivity to the likes of Chip Saltsman ... not that that's going to help. And indeed, the next shoe to drop dropped just minutes ago, when Thunder Pig, a conservative western NC blogger, accused Fisher of a kind of partisan treachery with a posting headlined "Ada Fisher Joins Lefties, RINOs in a Racially Motivated Attack on RNC Chair Candidate."

Ada Fisher ought to be ashamed of herself!

For the record, Fisher herself had already come out in support of South Carolina GOP chairman Katon Dawson as the new RNC chair. Also for the record, until approximately 38 minutes ago, Dawson was the member of a country club that wouldn't allow Dr. Ada Fisher through the front door.

Never mind that. And never mind, too, that Thunder Pig's high dudgeon directed at Ada Fisher for criticizing Saltsman does not so far seem to extend also to Mike Duncan and Newt Gingrich. Are they RINOs too?

The NC King of Special Interests

In an investigative series this year, the Charlotte Observer established this baseline fact about our state's poultry industry: "Weak enforcement, minimal fines and dwindling inspections have allowed poultry companies to operate largely unchecked, records show."

The toleration of a major industrial scofflaw in NC owes much to Republican Labor Secretary Cherie Berry (natch) but also to the man pictured here, Democratic state Senator Charles Albertson, who represents Duplin, Lenoir, and Sampson counties, which are knee-deep in the eviscera of meat-packing, both hog and chicken.

Last May Gov. Easley, convinced that the state's Labor Department was not enforcing safety laws, asked the General Assembly to approve money for more inspectors. Sen. Albertson blocked that initiative, according to an article in the Observer today.
Since 2002, [Albertson] has received more than $25,000 in campaign contributions from N.C. poultry executives and from the political action committee that represents them. He got $3,750 of that money Feb. 26, about two weeks after the first Observer stories were published.

More than $6,000 came from the N.C. Poultry Federation, the industry's state PAC. That's more than the group gave to any other lawmaker. Much of Albertson's remaining poultry money came from executives with N.C.-based Prestage Farms and House of Raeford Farms.

Not one to be easily embarrassed, evidently, Albertson even told the Observer, "I've been a little disappointed at times they haven't given me more."

There's a public servant to be proud of!

He's blind to more than just these appearances of pay-to-play. He says he hasn't heard any complaints about the poultry industry from his constituents. Doesn't hear, doesn't see, doesn't do.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

We'll Miss Richard Moore

For eight years he's been NC's State Treasurer, and he's done a very good job, particularly with the state's pension fund. According to the N&O, "North Carolina has been rated among the top three state pension systems since 2003 in various national rankings." While the pension fund did lose money this year in the Wall Street melt-down (some 12 percent), the losses were much less than the 24 percent plunge of the S&P 500 ... primarily because Moore has been a very cautious and conservative manager of our money.

Then came his run for governor in the Democratic primary against Bev Perdue, which was pretty much a disaster from several perspectives.

Now Moore says he has lost all interest in any other elective office, which is unfortunate, because he's one of North Carolina's best public servants. We'll give him 2009 to reconsider and will hope to see him saddling up in 2010.

Friday, December 26, 2008


Back from a road trip to deepest Virginia, where we were days without access to newspapers, InnerTubes, or even CNN ... so we have a lot of catching up to do, but at least we stored up a lot of available fuel in the form of cream cheese.

Bear with us as we dig in and make discoveries.

Monday, December 22, 2008

New Light on 'A Christmas Story'

Bob Clark's 1983 movie "A Christmas Story" became an instant classic. Immediately before he made "A Christmas Story," Clark had made "Porky's" and "Porky's II," two execrable teenaged sex farces which were nevertheless hugely successful. After "A Christmas Story," Bob Clark directed lots of theatrical films and TV junk, but nothing he ever did before or after quite jelled like "A Christmas Story."

The 1983 classic earned a place in my own work because it made a good deal of comic hay out of an unseen family of Kentucky hillbillies ("the Bumpuses") who had moved into the urban neighborhood of the Parker family, bringing with them a pack of hillbilly hunting hounds who end up destroying Darren McGavin's Christmas turkey. (The movie offers much, much more, of course, like double-dog dares, the radio marketing of Ovaltine, the many flavors of bar soap, and that wonderful "fragile" long-legged lamp!)

I was very aware of the screen credit that acknowledged the movie's source material: Jean Shepherd's "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash." I actually searched for that book for years without success (this was pre-Amazon days) and never really learned who Jean Shepherd was, though as the voice-over narrator for Clark's film, he seemed as familiar and as approachably Midwestern as Tom Bodett.

All of this by way of recommending a very interesting and revealing new article on the (surprising) man behind "A Christmas Story."

Christmas Miracles

With a pressing need to avert our gaze from the parade of self-justifications being offered by various Bush administration megalomaniacs and the petty cannibalisms of current politics, we turn to a short list of what fills us with holiday spirit:

1. David McCullough's biography of John Adams. Yes, we know it's seven-years old. But so what? When we finally picked it up, we found we couldn't put it down ... all 700+ pages of it. The most absorbing historical biography we've read in many a year. Made our heart swell with appreciation that our constitutional democracy ever came together in the first place.

2. A handful of brilliant movies (look for 'em at Fat Cats Music & Video):
In Bruges ... worst film title but the best film we saw in 2008 ... monumentally profane and laugh-out-loud funny ... intricate and deep and Colin Farrell's best movie role ... evah

Under the Same Moon and The Visitor ... two very different examinations of the illegal immigrant experience, the first a kind of fantasy of reunion and redemption focusing on a very young Mexican boy who finds his mother, the second a parable about the closing of the American heart post-9/11 and its potential for reopening through shared humanity

Old movies that transported me to places I've been but forgot existed: Babette's Feast, self-denial and self-sacrifice in the most unlikely landscape; Wings of Desire, Wim Wenders’ lyrical ode to humanity from the point of view of angels; Secrets & Lies, Mike Leigh's searing yet hopeful descent into the underbelly of "family," perhaps the perfect accompaniment for the Year of Obama

3. The nature photography of Dale Forrest, particularly the remarkable photograph he took of five wild tom turkeys in the Great Smokies spreading their tails simultaneously for his camera. He calls that shot, appropriately, "Bachelor Party." This and other of his photographs can be seen in the flesh at Framing by Lori in the shopping center off Shadowline Drive near the Harris Teeter.

4. The Watauga County Farmer's Market, shut down for winter now (sigh) but due to open again the first Saturday in May, leaving us with just the tangible pleasures of seed catalogues through these cold months, particularly the Vermont Bean Company’s wish book and Seeds of Change and all the others that flood our mailbox this time of year and dazzle us with summer dreams.

5. Which brings us to Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle," a book that both delights and infuriates us ... the delight arising from Kingsolver's wonderful, funny prose recounting a year of living dangerously entirely (or nearly so) off the land in southwest Virginia; the fury arising out of her exposure of what we Americans have done to our food supply by divorcing ourselves from our connectedness to the land and allowing soul-less corporations to get a stranglehold on our food supply.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Phoenix Power?

Talking Points Memo got its mitts on a private memo written by Republican National Committee Chair Mike Duncan to the members of his group, and it makes for some interesting reading. Especially in light of the fact that Duncan is running for reelection to his post against five others who have not been (in public, at least) half as honest as Duncan is in his memo.

To wit...
Republican troubles are largely "self-inflicted wounds"

"...many Americans today believe the party is stale and does not deserve that label ["Party of Ideas"]..."

"...we have not used our principles to provide solutions to the kitchen table concerns of middle-class America..."

Republicans have a debilitating habit of "falling back on ideology alone"

Now, Duncan wrote his memo as introduction to his new initiative, the Center for Republican Renewal, but introduced as the appointed director of this new center one Steven J. Duffield who was also the force behind the 2008 Republican National Platform.

This is how the Republicans will transcend the dictates of ideology? Duffield was responsible for producing one of the most ideologically narrow political documents in history. So we're left wondering just how "Republican renewal" is going to hatch out of that stale egg.

Ken Starr, To the Rescue!

The California attorney general has submitted a brief to the state's Supreme Court arguing that the infamous Proposition 8 -- which not only outlawed same-sex marriage but is also being used to argue that the 18,000 couples who have married in the state since same-sex marriage became legal, are NOT married any more -- "must be invalidated because the amendment process cannot be used to extinguish fundamental constitutional rights without compelling justification."

The high court is considering the constitutionality of Prop 8 and will hear oral arguments as early as March.

Guess who's going to be arguing for the legality of Prop 8 ... Kenneth W. Starr, the famous prude and underwear-sniffer of yore.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Heath Shuler Worried About Xmas Tree Industry

NC-11 Congressman Heath Shuler is holding a press conference today at the Asheville Farmer's Market to focus a little light on the threat of global warming to NC's Christmas tree industry.

Nearly 20 percent of all live Christmas Trees in the U.S. are grown in North Carolina. The industry brings over $100 million annually into the economy of our western counties. A North Carolina Fraser fir has been selected more than 10 times as the White House Christmas tree, including this year.

Fraser firs constitute 95 percent of those trees in cultivation. Frasers require higher elevations and cooler temperatures. Hence the concern of agricultural and scientific experts who seem to have gotten Heath Shuler's attention.

According to the Asheville Citizen-Times, some studies have shown that continued global warming will adversely affect the optimum climate conditions in North Carolina for Fraser firs: "A rise in average global temperatures would force the Fraser Fir's natural climate northward and out of North Carolina. Rising temperatures also increase pest control problems and disease longevity."

Meanwhile, our NC-5 Congresswoman, whose district contains a major concentration of Fraser farms, is little heard on the issue, but knows in her heart that if anything bad happens to the tree industry, it'll be the Democrats' fault.
In Raleigh on Monday, NC Electoral College member Tim Futrelle of Watauga County signs one of six copies of the official ballot that gave 15 electoral votes to Barack Obama.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Big Gardening Chore for the NC GOP

Katy at Katy's Conservative Corner has the fix for the North Carolina Republican Party's woes: root out moderate Republicans.

And here we were worried that they might go all sane and stuff.

(Yes, we realize Katy's prescription is a month old. We must have missed it at the time and thank PPP for bringing it to the top of the discard pile.)

Good luck to Katy and her fellow Republican conservatives on that uprooting project! We have extra shovels, if that helps.

Cloudy Horizon

Chris Fitzsimon at NC Policy Watch makes the tart suggestion that newly elected Gov. Beverly Perdue is dithering about cabinet appointments, particularly to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), because the "business community" doesn't approve of anyone whose name has been floated so far.

"Why does the business community have so much say about who will enforce the state's laws to protect the environment?" asks Fitzsimon. Perhaps environmentalists should begin insisting that they get to pick the secretary of Commerce or of Revenue.

The fact that Perdue is already acting indecisive in the face of potential opposition is not encouraging.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

You Don't Say!

WASHINGTON -- Politics corroded Bush administration decisions on protecting endangered species in regions nationwide, federal investigators have concluded in a sweeping new report.

Former Interior Department official Julie MacDonald frequently bullied career scientists to reduce species protections, the Interior Department investigators found.

"The results of this investigation paint a picture of something akin to a secret society ... that was colluding to undermine the protection of endangered wildlife and covering for one another's misdeeds," Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., said late Monday afternoon.

Call it "akin to a secret society," if you wish. We call it a criminal conspiracy that happens to still be in charge of our Capitol.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Putting the 'Jerk' in Knee-Jerk

Deep Gap native John Idol writes an honest essay about the kind of racial prejudice he knew from his youth in Watauga County and in his own family, by way of amazement that Watauga went for Obama in the November election, and the BooneWeb blogger can only find this to say: "Local accuses most of Watauga as being racist."

Not true. John Idol actually wrote: "But a change was in the wind, not only in my own family but in the families of other Wataugans. They listened to Obama, liked what he said, experienced his commitment to Democratic values, and then decided to vote for him."

BooneWeb blogger accuses Mr. Idol of doing what BooneWeb blogger does on a daily basis, stereotyping people he/she doesn't much like for opinions he/she doesn't much share.

There are limits to smart-aleckiness. Like not being able to read past one's own prejudices.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Praise for Jerry Meek From an Unlikely Source

Katy at Katy's Conservative Corner goes on at some length about the sort of leader the NC GOP needs now to lead it out of this current wilderness. By way of comparison, she points at NC Democratic Party Chair Jerry Meek (stepping down next month after two successful terms in office) as the model for what she wants to see in Republican HDQs:
Your blogger hopes for a State Chairman like the former State Democrat Chairman, Jerry Meek. Despite his surname, he went after our party tooth and nail and he never gave an inch. He had daily e-mails that went out to anyone who wanted to subscribe, explaining the issues in an easy-to-understand format. He also supported his candidates and backed them up, day after day.

Your blogger most admires how Meek used technology to organize his troops and get out the vote....

Katy, incidentally, rejects for Chair any politician who intends to run for office in the future. That pretty much narrows the field significantly.

Electoral College Meets Monday

Watauga County's newest County Commissioner, Tim Futrelle, is also a member of the North Carolina electoral college and will be in Raleigh Monday at noon to take part in the arcane pomp of the actual election of Barack Obama as President of the United States.

Futrelle was profiled in the Watauga Democrat soon after the election and also here.

It's substantially cool having an official elector representing Watauga County and the rest of the 5th District.

Good Riddance to an Infidel

Bit of a public stoning going on in the National Association of Evangelicals. Result: Richard Cizik (pictured), a vice president of the NAE for 28 years and the man who pushed the organization into recognizing global warming in 2007, has resigned in disgrace. Here's a time-line:

1. The NAE used to be headed up by Ted Haggard until he was caught in 2006 hiring a male prostitute. Since being gay is considered far worse than being drug-addicted, Haggard blamed it all on an uncontrollable taste for methamphetamines.

2. Early in 2007, Cizik was the main leader and spokesman when the NAE adopted a "creation care" stance that acknowledged global warming as a Christian issue. For this new environmentalism among evangelicals, Time magazine named Cizik one of 100 most influential people, while James Dobson, Tony Perkins, and 23 other conservative Republican Christian mullahs condemned Cizik as an agent of Satan.

3. Last week (Dec. 2), during an appearance on NPR's "Fresh Air" with Terry Gross, Gross asked him, "A couple of years ago when you were on our show, I asked you if you were changing your mind on [gay marriage]. And two years ago, you said you were still opposed to gay marriage. But now as you identify more with younger voters, would you say you have changed on gay marriage?"

Cizik responded, "I'm shifting, I have to admit. In other words, I would willingly say that I believe in civil unions. I don't officially support redefining marriage from its traditional definition, I don't think."

Cizik also said he had voted for Obama in the primaries. And said he was in favor of the government supplying contraceptives to reduce unintended pregnancies.

4. All hell broke loose. Among others crying "heretic" was Nixon hatchet-man and ex-Watergate felon Chuck Colson, whose Prison Fellowship is a member of the NAE.

5. Cizik dutifully put on sackcloth, poured ashes over his head, and confessed that he never meant that he would/could EVER approve of gay marriage. Or of abortion.

6. This past Wednesday night, having spent days on his knees in the snow, Cizik bowed to the hard hearts in the NAE and submitted his resignation, thus saving his fellow evangelicals from any hint that these pious people might include gays as part of the Body of Christ.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Running on Empty?

Haven't seen a peep in the local press about automobile sales, but The Smoky Mountain News, which covers mountain counties south of Asheville, is reporting today that sales have slumped down there anywhere from 15 to 60 percent. Particularly hard-hit are domestic makes (duh). No mention in the article of foreign car dealers, though we can't imagine that they aren't feeling the pinch, since money for car loans has tightened up across the board.

"One big problem with the auto business in Western North Carolina is that there are too many dealerships," said the co-owner of Smoky Mountain Chevrolet in Franklin. He also noted that part of GM's plan, if it gets the government bailout (mighty iffy), is to close hundreds of dealerships. (Note to the co-owner of Smoky Mountain Chevrolet: all three U.S. reps for the NC mtns -- Foxx, McHenry, & Shuler -- voted against the bailout yesterday in the U.S. House.)

The main bright spot? Maintenance departments at car dealerships are doing (relatively) well as more people hold on to older models.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Cooper-for-Senate Drumbeat Begins

It's way early to be talking about stuff like this, but hey! it's a slow week. Public Policy Polling has obliged us all by polling NC Attorney General Roy Cooper's name against incumbent NC Senator Richard Burr in a hypothetical campaign match-up in 2010, when Burr must run for reelection.

This far out, Cooper is leading Burr by four points and has far better favorables than Burr.

For whatever reason, Dick Burr has an unusually low profile in the state, perhaps even lower than Liddy Dole's, who never even lived in the state and only visited when she absolutely, positively couldn't avoid it. We remember when Burr was first elected to Congress from the 5th Dist. in 1994. He came strutting into Boone for a town hall meeting with the people, blanched at a few aggressive questions, and never held another town hall meeting in Watauga that we were aware of (shades of She Who Must Not Be Named!).

The folks at PPP also point us toward a brand-new "Draft Coop" blog that is looking to sign people up and beat the tom-toms. With the filing period for the 2010 elections just 13 months away, now's the time for the Dems to be seriously shopping.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

On the Morning of John Milton's Nativity

Today is the 400th anniversary of the birth of John Milton, famous as a "Great English Poet" (that no one reads anymore), less famous as a Puritan revolutionary. When I was in school, we were driven with whips through a few "books" of "Paradise Lost" and were never let in on the secret that John Milton was a radical for personal freedom in his day, a fact that might have endeared him a little more to our teenaged hearts if not made his poetry less intimidating.

In his day he was a radical "Republican," meaning he fiercely opposed the rule of king and bishops of the Church of England, supported the right of every man to have a say in his government. He wrote a defense of the beheading of King Charles I. He also wrote extensively as an advocate for legal "divorce on demand," a most unpopular position to take at the time. But for today, to celebrate his birth, we'll take a quotation from his great attack on censorship, Areopagitica (which means, literally, "Mars hill"):
As good almost kill a man as kill a good book: who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God's image; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself, kills the image of God, as it were, in the eye.

Why did he name his essay on free speech "Mars Hill"? Because that was the great rock in ancient Athens where any man was supposedly free to speak whatever was in his heart, yet the Athenians arrested St. Paul on that spot for telling the people they were imprisoned by superstition (see Acts 17:19-22).

John Milton, you rock!

The Cao Pivot

Amazing what a few months will do in the Republican Party to the wholesale mocking of "community organizers." Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani both stood on the stage in St. Paul at the Republican National Convention and jeered Barack's background as basically unAmerican or at least contemptible.

Now they're cheering the Vietnamese community organizer Anh "Joseph" Cao, who beat incumbent Democrat William Jefferson in Louisiana for a seat in the U.S. House.

You'd think, in fact, to listen to Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner, that Cao's candidacy was ALL his idea. The fact is, however, that Cao was considered such a laughable long-shot that not a single Republican in Louisiana's congressional delegation donated to his campaign (according to Politico).

You'd also think, to hear Boehner and Newt Gingrich crowing about Cao's victory, that the national GOP has now turned the corner after its disastrous November defeat and is miraculously appealing to minority voters. Never mind that Cao's opponent had been indicted on 16 counts of bribery.

Cao sounds pretty good to us, what little we've read. He and part of his family were evacuated to Texas from Saigon when he was eight years old. He earned his B.S. from Baylor University and then decided to become a Jesuit priest (which tells us at least two things: he's a hardliner on abortion, but he's also a hardliner against social injustice, and he knows how to argue -- okay, that's three things). After an additional college degree at Fordham, he taught for a time including at Loyola University in New Orleans. He left the Jesuits, married (he has two small children), and became a lawyer in New Orleans particularly specializing in "social and legal equity" for immigrants. "Joseph initiated programs to help victims of torture and to provide social and cultural developments for poor minorities" (from his campaign website). His most intense community organizing came following Hurricane Katrina, which devastated both his home and his law office: "Joseph has endured struggles against insurance companies and the political leadership and has proven to be a leader in rebuilding the Vietnamese community. He assisted the residents in New Orleans East in their successful fight against a landfill that threatened to change the social fabric of their community. He fought energy and telecommunication companies to have basic necessities restored in a timely fashion."

Now there's every chance in the world that Joseph Cao will give up his beliefs in social and legal justice and start voting in lock-step with his Republican brethren in the House. But we doubt it. We've known a few Jesuits in our time, and they do not as a tribe tend to blow with the winds. Historically, they're much more into martyrdom for their cause, if it comes to that. And so far, Joseph Cao looks as though he's an advocate for the poor against the rich and powerful.

Never mind the bear hug that John Boehner and Newt Gingrich are trying to wrap him in.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Condoleezza Rice Voted for Obama

Ain't it painfully obvious?

The Filthy Rich

Yesterday the N&O informed us that the average weekly compensation for 50 of the highest paid CEO's in the Carolinas = $105,969. Average weekly compensation.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Goo-Goo-Google, Goodbye?

North Carolina, rooked again?
Google on Thursday formally withdrew its application to get incentives under the [North Carolina] state’s Job Development Investment Grant program. The company in 2007 won a JDIG award, which gives companies tax withholdings in return for creating jobs and making investments, but it never signed the documents to cement the deal.

According to the state, Google was to get $4.7 million for creating 210 jobs and spending $600 million over four years.

But that’s not how it’s turned out so far. Google has built one data center building where it employs about 50 people – fewer than the 100 it expected to hire initially. And construction has stalled on a second building now that workers have finished its shell.

Sources tell Triangle Business Journal that the company has informed all construction workers, from engineers to laborers, that there won’t be any more work on the site for a while.

The Bush Legacy

Rarely content where there's money to be made, the George W. Bush Criminal Conspiracy has taken steps to allow the mountains of West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, southwest Virginia, and the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee to be bulldozed into any flanking creeks, branches, streams, rivers, rivulets that get in the way of the strip miners.

The goddamn Godless bastards are also taking steps to make it impossible for Congress to intercede to prevent all kinds of other mining on public lands, including those adjacent to some of the gems of the American landscape like the Grand Canyon.

This, in addition to the myriad other perversities of power George W. Bush has been busily enacting in his Last Days in office through the regulatory powers of the Executive.

Rape and pillage is his legacy, and our American resources are only part of it.

Sorry, sorry, sorry excuse for a human being.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Purge Michael Medved!

We reported a couple of days ago about Erick Erickson's notable mixing of metaphors over at RedState ... in calling for a "purge of the deadwood" in the conservative movement. Erickson intimated that he was personally on the lookout for "fake conservatives" who might be first in line for purging, though he wasn't yet ready to begin naming names.

Michael Medved apparently decided to out himself. Erick Erickson, meet Michael Medved, conservative dead wood. Medved (for the record) is listed as the eighth most influential right-wing radio talker. He used to guest-host for Limbaugh pretty regularly, until he got his own show. Before that he reviewed movies.

In today's USA Today, Medved says that right-wing talk radio is spewing way too much trash to an increasingly small audience and that maybe that isn't the most productive course to take following the disaster of November 4. Figuring out how to rebuild a credible political opposition to deal with Obama constitutes no less than an "existential challenge."

Oooo ... existentialism! We're tingling all over already, mainly because Medved actually gets it. The universe has reoriented itself, and he & Limbaugh & Hanity & O'Reilly & the four & 20 other blackbirds baked in the Talk Radio Pie aren't the masters of this new domain ... because, see, existentialism starts with "a sense of disorientation and confusion in the face of an apparently meaningless or absurd world."

For a black socialist (and most liberal senator) with the middle name of Hussein to win the presidency with 365 electoral votes ... well, that's just absurd. What's a right-wing radio talker to say, huh?

Saith Medved: "Depending on responses from leading conservative talkers, this rude, raucous indispensable medium [talk radio] will either rise to new heights of mainstream influence, profit and credibility, or else collapse as a declining vehicle for an increasingly angry and alienated fringe."

Judging from our own local small-potatoes example, "On the Right Side" with Jim Goff and Jim Hastings on WATA, they're going whole hog for the "increasingly angry and alienated fringe," an audience that will comfortably fit, say, in any standard-size SUV. "On the Right Side" has recently reinstated "Tolerate This!" as its on-air theme song. The ditty has lyrics that Medved would blanch at but which the increasingly angry and alienated fringe apparently laps up. For one small, SUV-type example:
Tolerate this! I believe in driving the biggest car I can

We reckon this is what Medved calls cultivating "a niche audience rather than the Republican mainstream," because even the conservative Republicans we know (those who still speak to us) realize that the massive consumption of petroleum is just not a viable societal option any more, let alone a feasible political pitch.

Not that we want the angry white guy act to slack off! Far better to purge the Michael Medveds from the party. You betcha.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Madam Foxx Sees Red

Congresswoman Virginia Foxx has issued a statement. It's a dense congregation of nouns and verbs harassed by numerous adjectives and adverbs, but someone had to read it:

What She Said
Amidst the credit crunch and housing crisis too many Washington policy-makers have decided that the federal government must not only bail out teetering banks, but also credit card companies, automakers, life insurance companies and any other company that looks like it might benefit from a billion-dollar infusion of government cash.

What She Meant
This dip-shit running the government – what's his name? I met him once, I think, but didn't really catch his name – why, my housekeeper could do a better job of managing the economy than him, and she doesn’t even read English.

What She Said
As the Washington Post reported, the Bush administration is almost finished doling out the first $350 billion in bailout money.

What She Meant
That's his name! Bush. What a dork. I mean. Couldn't find his ass with both hands and a head start! Whoever put him in charge needs prescription drugs. Muy pronto.

What She Said
The whole bailout concept is now completely different from the bailout that was sold to America back in September (a concept I didn't buy in the first place).

What She Meant
It's tiresome (I know) being so eerily correct about absolutely everything all the time, but it's my cross to bear. Well, actually your cross.

What She Said
Congress can stop the madness.

What She Meant
Obama can suck his chocolate thumb!

Additional GOP Diagnoses To Be Ignored

Charlie Cook headlines two of the "best minds" among the ranks of national Republican operatives and their prescriptions for bringing their party back from the grave. These two operatives choose to remain anonymous for obvious reasons: their advice is going to be heroically ignored and their advice would earn them a one-way trip on a sharp rail out of town if anyone knew their names.

The first operative flies directly in the face of most of the GOP soul-searching we've so far covered here:
...when I hear people say it is still a center-right country and that we need to return to our conservative roots, I think that is a long-term strategy to do nothing and a strategy that will keep us in a permanent minority.

The second operative ends up with this fourth point:
...stop being [misguided] on immigration. We are alienating huge parts of the electorate, we are turning our primaries into single issue "hate" contests and ignoring the single fastest growing bloc of voters in the country.

We can be thankful that all this advice will not be read, and if read, will not be followed. From what we've seen, Republicans intend to purge their faint-hearted "moderates" and charge off even more resolutely toward the Cliff of Total Wacko Extremism.

Dunce Nation?

The annual report from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education suggests that the United States is well on the way to making college affordable only to the rich: " tuition and fees increased 439 percent from 1982 to 2007, adjusted for inflation, while median family income rose 147 percent."

Want an honest-to-God official plutocracy (rather than just the unofficial one we have right now)? Keep on this path.

In the meantime, let the public schools wither away in favor of private academies, and pretty soon we'll have George Orwell's worst nightmare ... education as the exclusive preserve of the wealthy few, while everyone else is permanently anesthetized into stupefaction, sucking in television "reality" infotainment, along with their junk foods.

"Already, we're one of the few countries where 25- to 34-year-olds are less educated than older workers," said the president of the center that issued this report.

Less educated and, even IF educated, saddled often with crushing debt just from having attended college.

If Congresswoman Virginia Foxx had her way, American college students from low-income families would get ZERO help, even with interest payments tacked on. In 2008 Madam Foxx voted against the Higher Education Act Amendments and Extensions which raised Pell grant ceilings, among other provisions meant to keep the cost of education down. She also voted against HR5715 "To ensure continued availability of access to the Federal student loan program for students and families." (Oh, what's the use of this endless iteration of the Madam's miserable voting record? You can go see for yourself her sorry history.)

We can thank God that Foxx's people are no longer in charge ... at least for a while.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Conservatism: Waiting For a Tow

Some of the most interesting reading these days is found on conservative blog sites, and we're particularly alert to more calls for "purges" of weak-kneed sisters in the ranks who dared vote for one or another of those Bush initiatives that are now seen as conservative heresy.

Erick Erickson at RedState, for example, who wants to separate the conservative "movement" from the Republican Party (since look where being joined at the hip got them all!) and who uses the "p" word ("purge ... purge") twice, along with the metaphor of "dead wood" for describing Republican/conservative leaders whose leadership is no longer required (and by "dead wood," Erickson is apparently not referring to the impenetrable space between Sarah Palin's ears but to certain unnamed "conservative" orgs and unnamed Republican members of Congress who need to be disappeared as soon as possible).

As a spectator sport, the philosophical advancement toward hari-kiri on the Right has been even more fascinating than we could have hoped for, and no one's even been bled out yet. We're avidly waiting to see whether "the movement" can squeeze itself down into the number of people who'll fit comfortably inside a walnut shell.

NOTE TO PURGERS: Sen. Saxby Chambliss voted FOR the Bush/Paulson bailout, than which there can hardly be a greater conservative heresy. Yet there was Sarah Palin, the Doofus Darling, campaigning for Chambliss all over Georgia yesterday, proclaiming him conservatism's savior and -- naturally-- a "maverick" in the Senate.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

GOP Consensus? 'Take Down the Big Tent'

The Republican Governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, oft-mentioned these days as a potential new leader of the disgraced GOP, opines about the future of his party at and not only agrees with other leaders who are calling for MORE conservatism but also ups the ante slightly by dissing El Presidente's "compassionate conservatism" as mere window-dressing that didn't fool anybody and by actually calling for a purge of moderate or "fake conservative" elements in the party. He doesn't name names, naturally, but we wonder who he's talking about. Could it be Sen. John McCain who needs ousting? Maybe the two Maine senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, whose "moderation" famously led them to vote against the conviction of Pres. Bill Clinton in his impeachment.

If it would be of any help to Gov. Sanford and his fellow travelers, we would be glad to begin work on a short list of prominent Republicans who look suspiciously non-doctrinaire, "persons of interest" whose very presence in the GOP is simply (probably) holding everybody back.

We'll also be glad to hold the governor's coat while he leads the ritual stoning.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Erskine Bowles Wants to Block "Hate Speech"

Following the spray-painting on the NC State University campus of the n-word and the recommendation that President-Elect Obama should be shot in the head, UNC system Chancellor Erskine Bowles has appointed a commission to look into banning "hate speech" from all constituent institutions.

That's a bad idea.

If the student prank at NC State constitutes an actual threat of violence under federal law, let it be prosecuted. Actual threats, in light of this nation's recent history of political assassinations, have to be taken seriously. But to attempt to control every stupid thing that an undergraduate might say -- or spray paint -- in the heat of self-importance, we'll soon discover an inexhaustible supply of stupid things said by self-important undergraduates.

It would also be a suppression of free speech not supported by the First Amendment of the Constitution. Not a road we should be going down, when mere exposure to public opinion often renders the most effective punishment to hormonally imbalanced teenagers with an insatiable need to strut.

The Last Crusading Newspaperman?

I met "The Mountain Eagle" owner/publisher Tom Gish and his wife Pat several times, but I didn't really know them personally. Oh I KNEW them, but mainly from the pages of their crusading weekly paper published in Whitesburg, Kentucky. That newspaper had a huge following across all of Appalachia and nationally because it was at the epicenter of so much political ferment in our region, particularly the rising chorus against the national disgrace of strip mining. We returned from our Thanksgiving road trip to discover belatedly that Tom Gish died a little over a week ago in Pikesville. He was 82.

When Tom and Pat bought "The Mountain Eagle" in 1956, the motto on its masthead read "A Friendly Non-Partisan Weekly Newspaper Published Every Thursday." The Gishes changed the motto to "It Screams" and began actually covering the news, like what the elected officials were up to. Apparently, no newspaper reporter had ever attended meetings of the Letcher County Fiscal Court, the approximate equivalent of our County Commission. Those meetings turned out to be secret conclaves of good ole boys who took payoffs from the coal industry, and the Gishes began exposing the corruption. The local Fiscal Court promptly passed a resolution banning "The Mountain Eagle" from its meetings. "The Eagle" went anyway, and in the face of death threats helped push through the first open meetings law in Kentucky history.

The Gishes also investigated the local Whitesburg police force on accusations that they were harassing and even physically abusing teenagers. One result of that investigation was that a police officer paid arsonists to throw a kerosene firebomb through a window at the newspaper, destroying the building. A week later the Gishes published the paper from their front porch with the motto changed to "It Still Screams." Tom Gish said he later learned that coal company money was behind the crime.

Both Tom and Pat were absolutely fearless and determined to tell the truth no matter the cost. They were the enemies of "business as usual," which meant the rule of "a handful of very powerful interests who want to control every single thing in the county, no disagreements, no opposition, no hints of dissent to be tolerated — the old way of doing things — fire the coal miner who wants a union, don't re-hire the teacher who disagrees, take away the food stamps, the free medications, the welfare checks of anyone who dares express a thought of his own," as the Gishes would later characterize what they were up against.

In recent years they supported the political insurgency of reformer Carroll Smith (a Republican, incidentally) who ran for and won the office of Chief Judge Executive, the equivalent (more or less) of our County Commission chair. Smith successfully held that office for a couple of terms and then was defeated on a campaign of outrageous lies in 2006. But he was only defeated because his opponents (Democrats, incidentally) were "swift-boating" him and managed to buy up every newstand copy of "The Mountain Eagle" the week before the election because that edition of the paper printed the truth behind the lies. (Tom & Pat editorialized about that "nasty trick" a week later.)

I served with Tom and Pat on an advisory board that was helping Elizabeth Barret produce a documentary film about the murder of a Canadian filmmaker in Letcher County in 1967, a crime that put Letcher County in an unwelcome international spotlight and which the Gishes tended to see as yet another expression of a closed, corrupt political system.

"The Mountain Eagle" is now being edited by son Ben Gish, who's been at the helm for several years now. The paper, among its many accomplishments as a fearless beacon for journalistic truth, gave a start to many young reporters who went on to regional and national prominence. Several of them came back to Whitesburg to speak at Tom Gish's funeral.

We might not see Tom Gish's like again, at least not in rural Appalachia. We can, of course, always hope -- and pray -- that courageous journalists will rise perennial among our ranks, whether by means of old-fashioned news-print or through the so far unfettered and newfangled InnerTubes.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cost-Benefit Analysis

And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.

And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full.

Matthew 15:36-37

Friday, November 21, 2008

Madam Foxx Has a Hissy

Former professional Bush-smoocher and giant Puritan Virginia Foxx has decided that El Presidente is an idiot and his Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson is a dried up old piece of dog feces, who has done everything wrong in the Bush/Paulson bank bailout, so Foxx has introduced legislation which would mandate stuffing the remaining $350 billion, one dollar bill at a time, up Hank Paulson's alimentary canal, then making him excrete it WITH INTEREST, even after he leaves office on January 20th. The bill also calls for putting a GIS locator on Paulson, so that he can be found anywhere in the universe AFTER January 20th and be beaten with broomsticks. And what was this Bush Administration THINKING, anyway?

There's a Lesson Here: Don't Tempt Cosmic Irony

Cosmic Irony, defined by the Urban Dictionary:
"A type of irony in which Fate, the Universe, God, or whichever omnipotent force you choose makes it their sole purpose to mess with your life. They like to screw you over, and watch the mayhem while laughing at your misfortune."

Miss Manners, killed by a garbage truck. That's an example. Or your favorite racist contracts sickle-cell anemia.

Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasy collapses while defending the Bush torture policy.

Failed national candidate Sarah Palin, self-described "friend to all creatures great and small," acts "presidential" and pardons a turkey, while a bloody turkey slaughter proceeds directly over her left shoulder.

And the cameraman had warned her that bloody snow was in the lens, along with expiring big birds, but the Alaskan doofus said, "No worries!"

Largest-in-World Solar Heating Project in Western NC

In Fletcher. So says the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Foxx Voted Against Extending Unemployment Benefits

The U.S. Senate voted today 89-6 to end the filibuster against the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act, which guarantees its passage. The U.S. House had already voted in the affirmative for the measure in October, 368-28.

And, yes, she did. Madam Foxx was one of the 28 who voted against extending unemployment compensation to the tens of thousands of Americans who are currently losing their jobs at an accelerating pace.

Even Patty McHenry voted for this bill. Even Sue Myrick. In fact, Foxx was the only member of the North Carolina delegation to vote against it. Along with her slobber-buddy, Michelle Bachmann.

Jerk, To the End

The "midnight rules" of George W. Bush:

Rules that will make it easier for polluting industries to pollute.

Rules that will make it harder for women to get federally funded reproductive health care.

Rules that will change the way regulators assess risk for jobs, especially those that expose workers to chemicals.

Rules to make it impossible to sue in state courts for negligence on the part of manufacturers.

Rules making it tougher for employees to take family or medical leave.

Rules that would effectively gut the Endangered Species Act.

And our personal favorite:

Rules to ease restrictions on coal companies that decapitate Appalachian mountains to get at the coal underneath and then push the waste dirt and rock into neighboring creeks.

Thank You, Jerry Meek

We've known for some time that Democratic state party chair Jerry Meek would be stepping down after his second term. The State Executive Committee is scheduled to pick his successor at a meeting in Raleigh on January 31.

North Carolina Democrats owe a great deal to Meek, who during his four years of heading the party took us from what we here in the West used to refer to as "the state dead-quarters" to a near-complete sweep of the ballot.

Meek came to visit us here in Watauga more than once, and he didn't come to tell us what we were doing wrong but to learn what we were doing. In 2006 he came up and spent a day with us canvassing the county, learning our political terrain and how we dealt with it. We sent him to Meat Camp.

He did so much in his four years emphasizing the grassroots and helping the county parties devise and implement strategies. He retooled the state's website and its use of technology. And he's leaving the state party with a healthy bank account.

Gov. Easley wanted someone else for chair in January of 2005, but party activists defied the Guv and chose Meek, who in his turn helped choose Howard Dean as National Democratic Party Chair. As far as North Carolina is concerned, we would not be where we are today without those two.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Madam Foxx Wants to Hold the Purse-Strings

The Hill is spilling it that NC-5 Congresswoman Virginia Foxx wants a seat on the all-important Ways and Means Committee, the House panel that writes tax legislation and that has traditionally, according to our source for this (RE), afforded its members all sorts of district perks in the form of earmarks. But the Madam, we should remember, has so publicly sworn off earmarks (don't even mention teapots in her general vicinity!). So our head-bone is fairly jangling from the cognitive dissonance of the possibilities!

Kathleen Parker Hates God

Oh no she dent!

Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker, most famous recently for calling on Sarah Palin to step down as John McCain's running mate because she is, you know, dumb as laundry detergent, has ripped the sheet again, this time with the mullahs of the Religious Right. It's one thing for a pinko-commie like WataugaWatch to complain about the Religious Right. It's wholly another thing when the author of "Save the Males" unsheaths her sword against The Righteous.

In the column making the rounds on the InnerTubes today, Parker opines that "the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn't soon cometh."

And this:

"Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party."

"Armband religion." Brilliant turn of phrase that, which pretty much sums up our own feelings about the underlying hypocrisy of most pharisaical displays of religiosity that we've been treated to since The Littlest Angel said God wanted him to be president.

Parker doesn't miss the significance that now Sarah Palin has snatched the anointing oil for herself, promising to plow on through any door that God obligingly opens up. Saith the Parker, "Let's do pray that God shows Alaska's governor the door."

We'd hate to be Parker's InnerTube provider for the next few days.


I'm no fan of Joe "Droopy-Dog" Lieberman, and my disdain for him goes back a few moons beyond the time he jumped the Democratic ship and started campaigning -- hard -- against Barack Obama. I remember his blue-nosed, holier-than-thou scolding of Bill Clinton as the precise moment I began to hate the sound of his voice.

But when I began also to read the drum-beat among Democratic activists for a Lieberman auto-da-fe following the Nov. 4th election -- the demands that he be thrown out of his Senate chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee, etc. -- I thought (and still think), Gee, Barack might be needing his vote in the Republican filibusters to come. Despite Lieberman's appetites for Middle-East war-mongering, he's otherwise been a pretty dependable vote for Democratic initiatives.

I've been getting an earful in my own household about that wholly despicable, lower-than-pond-scum Lieberman, and then yesterday, when the Senate Democrats refrained from burning him at the stake, a whole new earful about that wholly despicable, lower-than-pond-scum bunch of Democratic senators for refusing to exact revenge against the traitor.

I have taken and continue to take a different view and am frankly surprised that the people who've most diligently bent my ear about Lieberman don't realize that ... it's just politics. But different now. It's Obama politics.

He said -- promised -- he was going to change the tone in Washington, the way stuff gets done. He said -- promised -- he was going to unify the country. It was Obama, not the Democratic senators, who gave Lieberman his reprieve from the death sentence. It was Obama whose name and reputation Lieberman attacked, and it was Obama who forgave him. It's not my place to insist on a public stoning of the heretic who's already been forgiven by the wronged party.

I think Obama's handling of Lieberman is ... cool, in so many senses of that word, maybe precisely because it goes against my own much hotter thirst for vengeance (in the final analysis, I discover I don't want a president who thinks exactly as I do). It's cool because it neutralizes Lieberman, who now owes Obama for his continued committee assignments. It's cool because it forestalls a sore point that the Republicans in the Senate were itching to massage.

All the froth -- and threats -- coming from certain quarters of Left Blogistan strike me as utterly predictable and totally wrong-headed. My mother used to call that sort of self-lacerating tantrum "Cutting off your nose to spite your face."

I'm not swayed, either, by the predictions that Lieberman has been given license to betray again, that he's like the German soldier spared execution in "Saving Private Ryan" only to come back and murder members of Tom Hanks's squad at the end of the movie. I think it more likely that Lieberman's near-death experience will make him more like George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life," allowed to return to home and hearth after getting a vision of what life would have been like if he'd never been born.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Charges Dropped Against the ASU Six

Last April six Appalachian State University students (actually, five students and one non-student) were arrested during a sit-in in the administration building over the university's policies regarding licensed rah-rah clothing made in third-world sweatshops. Background here.

A few days later five UNC students were arrested at a sit-in in the chancellor's office in Chapel Hill over the same issue.

Both ASU and UNC administrations pressed charges. In August, the five UNC students were convicted of trespass. But we have received word from one of the students involved that Appalachian State has now dropped charges against the ASU Six.

More, as we learn it.

In the meantime, here is additional background on the ASU Six. And here.

It was the judge who dropped the charges against the ASU Six, apparently on the grounds that the arresting officer has been deployed to Iraq.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Man Who Won North Carolina

Marc Farinella, Obama's man in North Carolina, is profiled in today's N&O.

This is the man who got Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan re-elected in 2000 weeks after he died in a plane crash. The dead Carnahan was running against John Ashcroft, who now has it on his permanent wiki profile: "lost an election to a dead man."

" interesting character .... incredibly disciplined .... fastidious about detail ... also endearing and inspires loyalty...."

"Farinella was already tied into the state's Democratic organization. He had worked as a strategist for Erskine Bowles' unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign in 2002 and Perdue's re-election campaign for lieutenant governor in 2004."

Apparently, ex-Gov. Jim Hunt tried to talk Farinella into moving permanently to NC, since his wife has family here.

About the Obama win, Farinella said, "It will change politics in the way we campaign for the foreseeable future."

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Ridiculous racists across the South apparently feel that the Obama victory on November 4 was their call to expose their ridiculousness to a national audience. The Charlotte Observer has a story up this a.m. about nasty outbreaks of racist opinion, including one at N.C. State University, but no mention of similar expressions reported at Appalachian State University. Democracy Now of the High Country has that story.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Heath Shuler for U.S. Senate?

We've barely gotten one election past us, and there're people already talking about Richard Burr's U.S. Senate seat in 2010, and truth to tell (hang on to your gag reflex!) we're just a year and a month away from the candidate filing period for the 2010 general election.

Yesterday the Hendersonville Times-News runs a long article essentially beating the drum for Shuler to take on Burr. Shuler, after easily winning his first reelection race against a weak if not unstable opponent, seems more than willing for people to puff up his ego even further than he's puffed it up himself. "Heath the Giant Killer."

Now this morning, Public Policy Polling is up with a post seconding the Shuler nomination, saying that the only state-wide Democrat who could rival him as a winning Senate candidate would be Attorney General Roy Cooper. PPP takes it a step further by helpfully mentioning a couple of local state legislators who could handily win Shuler's House seat, if he vacates it to run for Senate. This we doubt, though PPP's statistics are impressive about how both of Shuler's potential replacements in the NC-11 did in their own reelections.

But leaving a now strong Democratic seat open in the overwhelmingly Republican NC-11 looks mighty iffy to us, though (okay, we'll admit it) we thought a candidate named Hagan had exactly no chance in 2008.

Profiles in Courage

Hugh Webster, the Republican congressional candidate who ran against Congressman Brad Miller in the NC-13 (and was soundly defeated 65% to 35% on Nov. 4), has been accused of stealing over $12,000 from his elderly aunt. Webster was also a member of the NC Senate, infamous for passing out stickers that read "Can't Feed 'Em, Don't Breed 'Em" a decade ago, a not-so-oblique reference to people on welfare.

He's accused of inducing his elderly aunt to withdraw $12,115 from a retirement account and giving it to him, after he told her he could get a higher interest at his Raleigh credit union. According to an affidavit written by a State Bureau of Investigation agent, "She never received any interest or bank statements."

Webster says the money was a gift. The aunt says not so.

Then Webster said the indictment stemmed from a financial dispute with the aunt. "It will be very easy to discredit her," he said. Nice guy, this!

Then he said the charges were politically motivated: "I was the only one who had the guts and the integrity to stand up and tell the truth in the legislature."

Yes, guts and integrity never looked so fetching!

Friday, November 14, 2008

First We Check Your Vote and Then We Give Communion

South Carolina Catholic priest advises parishioners not to take communion if they voted for Obama, because supporting him "constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil."

Hagan Drops Libel Suit Against Dole

Since, apparently, Liddy's losing the election was punishment enough.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Rumor Has It...

From the NC 5th Dist. Republican site:
Rumor has it - that Jerry Butler attended a republican party meeting in Alexander County yesterday. The Boone dentist announced that he was planning on returning to the political fray to run against state Senator Steve Goss again in 2010. According to our sources Butler made an anthem of a speech to the local republicans asking them to expel "fringe" conservatives from the party and move in a more progressive direction.

Since this is a rumor and we don't know if its true, someone please tell us it isn't so! This mindset is exactly what lost Republicans the election. Moderate Congressman in the Midwest lost overwhelmingly to their democrat rivals, and where Conservatism was truly on the ballot it was victory! If Dr. Butler wants to be a progressive, maybe he should run against Goss in the primary. Either way we think this helps Goss raise money.

As with so many other things, the "fringe" is on top.

Republican Welcome Wagon: ASU Students & Teachers are "Alien," "Nuts," "Carpet-Baggers," "Not Welcome Here"

The regular Republican bloggers at are resurrecting some juicy rhetoric that we had thought belonged only to defeated Republican county commissioners of Times Past -- and to Sarah Palin -- that there's a true American part of Watauga County and an un-American part of Watauga County, namely university people. These posts below are not by anonymous anybodys but by the anonymous SOMEBODYS who manage the site and represent the thinking of the local Republican Party:
They [Wataugans who carried the county for Obama] are known as carpet baggers not the smart people. They are aliens. (comment thread)

This area of the country, with the exception of the outsiders at the University, is rock solid conservative. (comment thread)

Love the outsiders line about the university - they are, and they are nuts. I am sick and tired of "outsiders" trying to take over Watauga County. "They" are not welcome here. (same as above)

Jeez, guys. Turning on the charm this way is likely to reverse that Democratic tide and sweep in your next team of university-haters!

They're Coming To Get You, Barbara

"Paranoia On the Rise, Experts Say" is the AP headline that was sure to catch my eye this a.m.

"People walk around with odd thoughts all the time," said David Penn, a professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina. "The question is if that translates into real behavior."

"Real behavior"? You know, like tinfoil hats donned for indoor wear. Like taking an Uzi to work with you.

No doubt that real events like 9/11 and manipulative propaganda like El Presidente's "war on terror" have heightened anxieties for the last seven years. But no mention of what the election of our first African-American president might have wrought in the narrow synapses of some of our citizens.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

This Is What the GOP Will NOT Do

At least in the South, which -- let's face it -- IS the Republican Party of the future ... leaders of the party will most definitely NOT follow the advice of this former speech writer for Ronald Reagan.

Jeffrey Hart sez ... these discredited Bushian policies must be dropped:

banning abortion

the block on stem cell research

income tax cuts for the wealthy

attaching Social Security to the Stock Market (privatization)

repatriating 12 million illegal immigrants instead of offering them a road to citizenship ("amnesty")

Sez Jeffrey Hart:
A major -- perhaps insoluble -- problem conservatives face is that the aggressive "social conservatism" of the Republican base and its activists does not appeal to moderates and independent voters.

Getting more specific, Jeffrey Hart sez:
First, the Republican party must distance itself from evangelicalism as the policy preferences of evangelicals have only minority support....

Second, the Republican party must drop its hostility to science:
Bush blocked federal funding for embryonic stem cell research and advocated teaching intelligent design along with evolution. Teaching intelligent design? Where? Biology class? Not since the 1920s has evolution been a subject of political controversy. Astonishing. Now it is controversial again because we are in what historians describe as the third evangelical awakening.

Third, and to put it simply, the Republican party finds itself on the wrong side of history and in opposition to history, like the freedom of women over themselves and their bodies.

4. Movement conservatism is dead. Not acknowledging that would in itself be fatal.

The (Blue?) Meanies

Now, this is more like it, this anonymous Republican operative dude, rallying the pitchforks and torches to purge the North Carolina Republican Party of, first, its chair Linda Daves and then start throwing out members of the Republican caucus in the state legislature who ever even THOUGHT of voting for a Democratic budget. If there's gonna be an internal purge in the North Carolina Republican Party, where do we purchase our bleacher seating?

Contained in that (still anonymous) blog posting (so brave!) is this first-hand account of what it was like inside the Raleigh Hilton last Tuesday night during the GOP "victory celebration." This is "local color" we didn't get from any mainstream reporter:
On one side of me, Bev Perdue was on TV giving her victory speech. On the other side of me, another TV was showing a map that made the U.S. look like it was flooded -- a blue tide was spilling over the coasts, flooding the heartland and drowing our own beautiful North Carolina. And in front of me was a third TV on which several commentators were discussing what Elizabeth Dole did wrong.

And standing at a podium giving a "rah, rah" speech was our own Linda Daves, seemingly oblivious to the catatonic stares on the faces in the crowd -- all desperately wondering if someone got the license plate of that big blue truck that hit us.

The only thing missing was a melting podium and funky looking trees. Believe me, they would have fit right in, because out party was melting before our eyes. Melting into a puddle of gelatinous ooze with no spine, no shape, no form, and no future. And Linda Daves was giving a "go team go" speech.

The Tea Party Shall Go On

A lengthy article in the Henderson Times-News, prompted by the county's turning blue (for Congressman Heath Shuler) for "the first time in decades," allows for some lively chat about what 11th Dist. Republicans need to do to come back. Answer: Don't change. Become more like what we were. Generally makes the Republican Party seem like a teabag left to steep past the time the water turned cold.
" is time for us to rediscover our roots; not to change, not to come up with new slogans, but simply to rediscover our roots. The idea that one loss by a very small popular vote margin signifies the death of our party is wrong." --Robert Danos, Henderson County Republican Party Chairman

...the party needs to look at ways to modernize its campaign strategy and bring good candidates to the voters. --Brent Woodcox, North Carolina Republican Party spokesman

"The Republicans do not need to broaden their tent. The Republicans need to return to the very simple principles that Ronald Reagan ran on, that our local and state officials still run on." --Danos

"There are discussions of [whether] the party should move more left or should the party move more right. I don't think that is productive .... We need to apply conservative principles to everyday problems for North Carolina." --Woodcox

"Do they believe in more populism, like Sarah Palin and Joe Six-pack, or are they going to be more intellectual and argue for smaller government?" --Gibbs Knotts, political science professor at Western Carolina University

...the challenge is to define what the party stands for and not what it opposes. --Knotts

"After the defeat in Western North Carolina, it is going to be difficult to be hard on ourselves" ... because the Republican Party in Western North Carolina is doing well. --Steven Duncan, chairman of the 11th Congressional District North Carolina Republicans

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ladies & Gents: The GOP of 2009!

We can relate to the flummoxing loss the national Republican Party has gone through. Been there.

We are reading the prescriptions for healing itself with great interest, put out by many voices, the most compelling of them conservative insiders who think for a living. The choice seems to be to renew from the ground up, find a way (or just new language) to make conservatism appealing to a broader cross-segment, particularly independent voters who don't fancy fear-mongering and puritanical attacks on personal behavior.

Or ... they could double-down on fear-mongering and puritanical attacks on personal behavior and become even more a minor regional party headquartered in the Old South.

Georgia Republican Congressman Paul Broun has announced his choice. It's the latter:
"It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, [Obama]'s the one who proposed this national security force. I'm just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may — may not, I hope not — but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism .... That's exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did. When he's proposing to have a national security force that's answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist .... We can't be lulled into complacency. You have to remember that Adolf Hitler was elected in a democratic Germany. I'm not comparing him to Adolf Hitler. What I'm saying is there is the potential."

It may sound a bit crazy. Check.

"Radical socialism or Marxism," which may be identical to fascism, or maybe not -- we're looking into it -- but when you're making Mulligan stew, you throw in a lot of ingredients and hope they cook together. Check.

Mr. Broun is NOT comparing Obama to the person he just compared him to. Check.

Now here's a political party that is maybe becoming a tad over-caffeinated, something we're sure Sarah Palin would absolutely love to head-up. You betcha!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Watauga, Jackson & Buncombe -- Oh My!

Asheville Citizen-Times reporter Joel Burgess takes an extended look this a.m. at why three lone North Carolina counties in the western mountains went for Obama, while all around them was red hot for McCain/Palin. Answer: young voters. All three counties contain a major state university.

Didn't your mother always warn you that a little larnin' was a dangerous thing?

Interesting factoids:
Of the Democratic-leaning counties, Watauga has the largest percentage of 18- to 25-year-old voters — 31.3 percent. Jackson is next with 15.4 percent, then Swain with 12.7 percent and Buncombe with 11.6 percent. Obama won all but Swain by differences as large as 57-43 percent.

We got us a new Generation Gap, folks!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Other 5th District

The 5th District: mainly rural, mainly white Republican, with a major university planted in one end of it, that nevertheless voted OUT its incumbent conservative Republican member of Congress.

We're talking about the 5th congressional district of Virginia, which bears more than a passing resemblance to the 5th congressional district of North Carolina, except that the Virginian 5th got rid of its toxic member of Congress, Virgil Goode, while the North Carolinian 5th is stuck with She Who Must Not Be Named.

Maybe there's something to be learned from the successful Virginia upset, and this Slate article might be a start. How did a candidate named Perriello defeat the Goode Republican? Perriello's self-deprecating TV ad certainly didn't hurt.

My mother-in-law happens to live in this district. She's a conservative Republican who voted for Obama this year and who particularly wanted Virgil Goode retired ... the rude, crude Goode (his name rhymes with 'mood'). I've been following Goode's career since he was first elected to Congress as a Democrat in 1996. He became an unapologetic traitor to the party in voting for Bill Clinton's impeachment, and after becoming a Republican he let his own inner-Sarah Palin full expression. He went out of his way to insult the first Muslim member of Congress, Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), and he had a hair-trigger impulse to demonize the "un-American" elements he saw all around him. It's the base instinct of conservative populism: fear people who are different.

We were tickled to see that Tom Perriello has been declared the winner in that race.

Surviving Sarah Palin

Everything you needed to know about the lethal split in the Republican party was summed up in that snide comment about Sarah & Todd Palin, leaked to the press from a high-up in the McCain campaign a day after the election:
Todd and Sarah Palin were "Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast." Newsweek

Hillbillies. That word was the choice of a member of the elite, power-base of the Republican Party calling the upstart, populist, conservative know-nothing rank and file of the Republican Party the worst name that a white American can call another white American.


That word opened the door wide on the true contempt that the current rulers of the GOP harbor for the back-country troops that they regularly rile up with gays, God, and guns, just long enough to win an election, and then continue to ignore or take for granted until the next electoral contest.

The use of that word hillbillies, along with the other garbage about Palin that got dumped into the media bloodstream immediately following the McCain defeat, was clearly meant to destroy her forever as a credible national leader. That speaks to how much the GOP power elite actually fear the great unwashed hoards of their own Huns.

This a.m. Craig sent me a link to an anonymous essay ("Sarah Palin Is the Future of Conservatism") by a political consultant who digs deeper into the Republican Party's Palin problem:
Within the hierarchies of the old right, Sarah Palin's style of pseudo working class conservatism was reserved for the proverbial back of the bus. Her type was not to speak, but to be spoken to; they were assigned to work as the foot soldiers in campaigns and be ignored until the next election.

But as social divisions widen and opportunity declines, there will be an ever-decreasing market for the type of homely business conservatism dished along with breakfast at the local Chamber of Commerce or Rotary Club. The style of conservatism that Sarah Palin represents will be the only one that has a majoritarian future in today's America. The populist conservatism will be openly hateful, paranoid, anti-intellectual, belligerently militaristic and most significantly ideologically inconsistent and opportunistic.

Hateful, paranoid, anti-intellectual ... you get the drift of where we're headed?

If you need a stronger hint about the forces the GOP has always felt privileged to toy with but which Palin may unleash for real on us all, the Stokes County resident who erected a big upsidedown American flag the day after the election, and then spray-painted a giant 'X' through the whole thing as a symbol of his hatred for Obama and for all who voted him into office, might be instructive. That's a photo above (from the W-S Journal) of the man's hateful, paranoid, anti-intellectual touch-up of the American flag. The violence of the emotion behind it is perfectly clear.

Sarah Palin is that man's hero. She will have her revenge on the Republican power elite, you betcha, and she may cause the Stokes County flag-displayer to have (a somewhat peculiar) love well up in his heart again.