Tuesday, April 29, 2008

This Afternoon in Boone

Paularoid Bitter-Enders Get a Bitter End

The Nevada state Republican Party convention last Saturday became a virtual donnybrook as Ron Paul supporters actually out-numbered McCain people and threatened to overturn the preferred slate of delegates to the National Republican Convention ... when the convention was abruptly adjourned.

Too much democracy has always given Republican big-wigs the vapors.

Easley To the Rescue

Gov. No-Show endorsed Hillary Clinton this a.m., or is going to endorse her this a.m.

One source says the endorsement might take place at a public rally at N.C. State University, but another says it will be closed to the public. The second sounds more like the guv we've come to expect.

Meanwhile, Public Policy Polling shows momentum in Clinton's direction among white voters. Huge surprise, that.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Bill Clinton at Varsity Gym Tomorrow

Just received this word ... that ex-President Bill Clinton will be speaking at 3:15 p.m. on Tuesday, April 29, in Varsity Gym. All students and community members are invited to attend this free event.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Bill Clinton in Boone Tuesday Afternoon?

Emissaries from the Clinton campaign were putting out feelers Sunday, looking for a suitable venue for a free public event in Boone for ex-Prez Bill Clinton, after, we assume, lunch at Westglo.

Friday, April 25, 2008

It Isn't Breakfast Any More

What we earlier reported, that you could have a $500 breakfast with President Bill Clinton at Westglow Spa in Blowing Rock next Tuesday, has now become a $500 "luncheon reception" at 1 p.m. on the same day. Please contact Ben Pollara at (305) 989-4901.

Put a Condom on That Boondoggle

Madam Virginia Foxx was doing her I'm-more-pious-than-a-stack-of-Baptist-preachers act yesterday in a four-hour House Oversight Committee hearing about whether government money might better be spent on giving teenagers actual information on birth control and the prevention of STDs or (better) keep stuffing tax dollars into the wacko fantasy of "abstinence only."

And if hearing Virginia Foxx preach that "a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the expected standard of sexual activity" doesn't give you vertigo, or uncontrollable giggles, then you're either carved out of granite or don't know your local history.

Foxx, along with other Congressional conservatives, want to make sure that no government money goes to explain accurately what a condom is for. No, better to give $176 million to ideological and religion-driven "abstinence only" programs that have no scientific basis and have been repeatedly proven to be totally useless and -- like Madam Foxx herself -- laughable.

The Face of Fear

This is Linda Daves, chair of the North Carolina Republican Party. Don't let those apple-dumpling looks fool you. She's one mean biddy.

This a.m. on NBC's Today Show, Sen. John McCain said she's out of touch with reality. It may be she's in better touch than McCain. After all, she's raising bucks for her party by doing "color arousal," as Pam's House Blend calls it. Hey, this shit worked for Helms. Why not for little Ms. Daves, the grandmother from Gehenna?

"They're not listening to me," whined McCain this morning, "because they're out of touch with reality and the Republican Party. We are the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan and this kind of campaigning is unacceptable." Oh, sure it's acceptable, John. This is the SOUTH, where the hookworm liveth and forever climbs the flesh staircase to infect the heart. Linda Daves and others of her ilk applaud its progress.

And you will benefit, Big John, whether you want to admit it or not.

Whining doesn't help, and won't change a thing.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

NC GOP ... Itching In the Worst Way

First this, from MSNBC:
This morning, NBC/NJ's Carrie Dann reports, the North Carolina GOP will unveil a 30-second ad that attacks Democratic gubernatorial candidates Beverly Perdue and Richard Moore for their endorsements of Obama. The ad, per the party, will reference "controversial figures from Barack Obama's past" and raise the question of the candidates' "judgment" in supporting him.

The ad will be unveiled at an 11:00 am press conference. So far, the Democratic gubernatorial campaigns say that they have not yet seen it and declined to comment before knowing the content. But it's anticipated by Democratic bigs in the state that the Rev. Jeremiah Wright will play a starring role.

And then this:
Dann later reported that the Republican National Committee said it had been in contact with the North Carolina GOP, urging it to refrain from running the "Extreme" ad. McCain did the same.

Even the John Locke Foundation finds the NC GOP attack on Perdue/Moore for endorsing Obama "dumb."

"Stupid Elephant Tricks," says Ed Cone. "The NC GOP remains one of the NCDP's greatest assets."

Breakfast With Bill Clinton

You can have that privilege next Tuesday at 8 a.m. at Westglow in Blowing Rock ... $500 a head. The money's for You Know Who.

NC Dems Chief Stands Up to Smithfield

When North Carolina Democratic Party Chair Jerry Meek told Smithfield Foods and its subsidiary Smithfield Packing that he would not accept a contribution to the party from them, the company's chief lobbyist made threats against him ... that he would regret that decision, that the lobbyist would be speaking to other big company executives in the state (and the language she'd be using would not be kind), that Jerry Meek Would. Be. Sorry.

The Smithfield lobbyist is Theresa Kostrzewa, a frequent panelist on NCSpin (which airs on local cable channel 18 at 10 a.m. Sunday mornings, among other times).

In response to Ms. Kostrzewa's angry threats, Jerry Meek wrote a letter in response, and yesterday afternoon it was posted on NCBlue.

The Kostrzewa tantrum actually allowed Meek to recount just a portion of Smithfield's "flagrant disregard for worker rights, worker safety, and the environment." Just how "flagrant"?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has fined Smithfield Foods for over 7000 violations of the Clean Water Act. The U.S. Department of Labor has repeatedly cited Smithfield Foods for violating the nation's child labor laws. OSHA has cited Smithfield Foods for repeated workplace safety violations, including the exposure of workers to corrosive chemicals, the use of unguarded blades on cutting equipment, and blocked exits. And the National Labor Relations Board has found that Smithfield Foods engaged in intimidation, threats, and retaliatory practices in response to workers' efforts to improve their conditions.

In 2000, Smithfield Foods became the only meatpacking plant in the United States with its own armed police force. In the ensuing years, this force was found to use violence, intimidation, and threats against the company's own workers.

Congrats to Meek for the courage to stand up to attempted bullying!

Don't you just love the smell of frying bacon in the morning?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Political Lessons: How To Help Your Opponent

Little Patty McHenry of the NC-10 has the technique down PAT.

Threaten to sue your Republican primary opponent over a TV ad that most of your constituents had not seen but will now know about. Including all the controversy that supposedly you wanted to hide.

Thus giving your primary opponent the golden opportunity to stage a press conference in front of your regional office, shouting "I will not be intimidated!"

Cool move, Patrick. And why, exactly, were your most partisan compadres calling you the next Tom DeLay? Wasn't he known for strategic positioning?

The Affiliating of the Unaffiliated

Dome reports today that North Carolina independent voters (officially classified by the State Board of Elections as "Unaffiliated") are requesting Democratic ballots in this primary over Republican ballots by a margin of 5 to 1. And registered Democrats are so far voting in the primary by a 3 to 1 margin over registered Republicans.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Madam's Curious Constitution

The best laugh-line at Saturday's Watauga County Democratic Party's convention was delivered by County Commission Chair Jim Deal. Holding up an article clipped from the High Country Press, Jim Deal observed, "Virginia Foxx thinks the 16th Amendment is unconstitutional."

He paused a beat while that sunk in.

"How is part of the Constitution 'unconstitutional'?" he asked, rhetorically.

He then observed, in praising both our state Sen. Steve Goss and our state Rep. Cullie Tarleton, that although we have had elected representatives from Watauga in the state legislature, we've had no representation, and that opinion certainly covered Madam Foxx's chair-warming tenure in the state Senate.

A Small Dose of History
The 16th Amendment:
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

The 16th Amendment was advocated by the Socialist Labor Party in 1887, and before you start hyperventilating with "I told you so!" it was the Republican President Howard Taft who asked Congress to pass the measure in 1909. It was passed by the Congress and submitted for ratification to the states on July 12, 1909. According to Wikipedia, support for the income tax was strongest in the western states, and opposition was strongest in the northeastern states. It was ratified on February 25, 1913, by the required 3/4ths of all the states. The North Carolina legislature ratified the 16th Amendment on February 11, 1911.

And Jim Deal's right: it's more than just funny that Madam Virginia Foxx doesn't seem to understand what "ratification" means.

ASU Student Sleuths

At least they're attempting to get to the bottom of The Great Noose Incident of 2008.

What is still untold is just how far Erskine Bowles went in pressuring the ASU admin to fire the faculty member and that the ASU admin actually refused to do so.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Interesting Trend

Twice in my Sunday newspaper reading ritual today I came across stories about the unusually large number of Republicans switching parties:

In Catawba County ... several hundred Republicans have switched parties since the beginning of the year, many to Democratic

In Buncombe County, almost 2,000 voters, the vast majority Republican, have changed

We know that some will want to credit Rush Limbaugh's Operation Chaos. Rush Limbaugh himself, the egotistical weenie with the microphone, will CERTAINLY want to take credit.

Our (limited) experience with party-switching is that people aren't motivated to change parties for purely negative reasons. It's almost always because there's someone they WANT to vote for.

But we'll see. And note to self: find out the party-switching figures for Watauga County.

He's Gonna Blow

John McCain's infamous, volcanic, uncontrolled temper is the subject of a long article in today's WashPost, in which colleagues and fellow Republicans discuss the implications for the country should he become our president.

"His temper would place this country at risk in international affairs, and the world perhaps in danger. In my mind, it should disqualify him," says former Senator Bob Smith (R-NH). Smith also said, "I've witnessed a lot of his temper and outbursts. For me, some of this stuff is relevant. It raises questions about stability. . . . It's more than just temper. It's this need of his to show you that he's above you -- a sneering, condescending attitude. It's hurt his relationships in Congress. . . . I've seen it up-close."
...over the years, no one has written more intimately about McCain's outbursts than McCain himself. "My temper has often been both a matter of public speculation and personal concern," he wrote in a 2002 memoir. "I have a temper, to state the obvious, which I have tried to control with varying degrees of success because it does not always serve my interest or the public's."

His nicknames in school were "Punk" and "McNasty."

McCain and his surrogates claim he's gotten over such temper tantrums, that they're a thing of the past. Maybe so. But forget what he might say or do to someone like Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of Great Britain, in some high-stakes negotiation. A greater concern for the long term during a McCain presidency would be the self-imposed bubble his temper might create around him, with aides afraid to cross him in any way.

"...critics ... say he has a vindictive streak, that he sees an enemy in anyone who challenges him."

Yeah, like we haven't had enough of THAT in a chief executive.

This article at least helps us understand McCain's sometimes strange way of talking sometimes when he's being pressed by a questioner: a deliberately low-key, eerie soothing tone he adopts, the way some exasperated parents address a difficult child, and the way he interjects "my friend" often when he clearly means exactly the opposite. The difficult child he's addressing is very possibly his own inner brat, who's often on the brink of a chair-flinging, eye-gouging, earlobe-bitting tee-total FIT.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Obama Wins Watauga County Democratic Straw Poll

The vote today in the Presidential Preference Straw Poll among 121 registered delegates at the Watauga County Democratic Party's annual convention...

79 Obama
42 Clinton

That's approximately 65% Obama to 34.7% Clinton.

Early Voting Blasts Off

Almost 22,000 voters state-wide had voted by 2 p.m. yesterday, the second day of early voting in North Carolina. Another 5,000 plus had requested absentee ballots state-wide.

We'll have numbers from Watauga County next week, but the first two days locally suggest an unprecedented turnout for a primary election.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Liberal Education

Quote of the year, from Appalachian State University staff attorney Larry David, to the Faculty Senate:

"When the university decides what it is teaching, we as individuals are essentially mouth pieces for the state."

Students: Let that be a warning to you.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

It Figgers

"Voters supporting Kay Hagan are strong Perdue people while those going for Jim Neal are Moore people. Perdue leads 52-34 with Hagan supporters, Moore leads 53-30 with Neal supporters." --Public Policy Polling

Ask us why AFTER May 6.

Winston-Salem Journal Endorses Carter

In today's paper.

Early voting begins tomorrow! Can we get an 'amen'?

Local elections officials fully expect LINES -- queues, if you're a Brit -- to form in early afternoon, when the planned march to the polls by ASU College Democrats is expected to arrive at the Courthouse.

Class Action Lawsuit Against Ginn Company

Alleges that the Ginn Company has breached agreements and violated several laws, including the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act and the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, on sales of residential lots in Florida. (Source) HT: Lynne Vogel

Closer to home, we hear that one-quarter of the residential lots offered at the huge Laurelmor development (mostly in Watauga County) have sold. If you need to know what they're selling for, you can't afford one.

We also hear that the original four golf courses at Laurelmor have been scaled back to one, which is currently being built.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Clinton, Obama, Back in Carolina This Week

Barack Obama will hold a rally at East Carolina University in Greenville on Thursday. The Obama team is also planning an event in the Triangle area on Thursday, but no details have been announced.

Hillary Clinton will speak at Wait Chapel on the Wake Forest University campus Friday evening.

Question for Foxx: Which Baptism Is Current?

Lisa Zagaroli reported yesterday that our own Madam Virginia Foxx will be one of three North Carolina congresspersons "who are Roman Catholic" who will be greeting Pope Benedict XVI tomorrow on the south lawn of the White House.

And here we thought she was a proud Baptist and member of Blowing Rock First Baptist Church!

Apparently, she's a Baptist when she's in the 5th District. She's a Roman Catholic when the Pope comes to town.

Well, actually she's both, which takes a straddle that a Chinese acrobat would envy. She told The Hill newspaper in 2005, " 'I was baptized as a Catholic and then attended a Baptist church and was baptized as a Baptist.' ... When Foxx can't make it to the First Baptist Church in Blowing Rock, she watches church on TV."

None of which, incidentally, is particularly believeable.

But she'll be smooching the Pope's ring, you bet!

The Circle in the Square: The USAS Nine

Get nine young minds focused, and they can move a mountain. (Photograph by Hart Uhl)

Their dedication is selfless. Their cause is global worker rights. They know more than our generation did about the reach of corporate power, and they’ve become sharp critics of an economics that depends on the exploitation of some human beings for the benefit of other human beings. We admire their passion for justice and their bravery in the face of institutional power.

Appalachian State University’s position? Why does anyone care about where an ASU T-shirt comes from? You can’t prove it was made under inhumane conditions. If you can’t prove it, you have no case. We heart the status quo.

USAS: It is precisely BECAUSE ASU does not know how and where its logo-licensed clothing is made that we are demanding that the university sign on to a verification system that DOES guarantee no sweatshop labor was involved. Simple as that.

It’s a small pill that ASU can’t force down its constricted esophagus. Choking on the little things has now produced a rather large PR problem, a ballooning discontent among faculty and students, and a growing perception that the university administration is advised by the law firm of Bumble & Stumble.

Excerpted here are some paragraphs written and distributed on campus yesterday by one of the leaders of USAS who was not arrested:
...I marched under the auspices of social justice and the freedoms of university life. I marched for my friends inside, for the Dominican workers who had visited our campus just weeks before, for unknowing consumers and those searching for justice. I marched against the looming irony; a campus dedicated to social responsibility arresting its own students for just that....

...From the beginning we had been antagonized by Lorin Baumhover, the Chancellor's Chief of Staff. We had been treated like ignorant little undergrads with not the slightest grasp of the issues we took on. Mr. Baumhover, at one point, actually claimed that ours was not scholarly research, that we hadn't put forth the necessary time and effort. To this allegation we responded with 50 pages of scholarly research. This document was evidently ignored, as communication virtually ceased upon delivery, around April of 2007. A meeting with Ms. [Cindy] Wallace [Vice Chancellor for Student Development] left me with the clear impression that within the administration were at least a couple people determined to prevent our success. I knew we could count on Mr. Baumhover's opposition, but he was just one.

On Thursday, after [a day and a night of the admin. bldg. sit-in], we were formally addressed. Cindy Wallace, the Vice Chancellor..., emerged as the definite spokesperson for the administration. This was a curious development; the administrator who had just a week earlier told us that she was not fully aware of the history of our campaign or our goals would take charge. While the Chancellor was unsurprisingly unseen for the entire week, several familiar faces, including Mr. Baumhover, were spotted. It isn't clear why Ms. Wallace took charge, or why Mr. Baumhover never spoke.

Ms. Wallace proceeded to offer us a series of predictable concessions, followed by an empty threat. "We will be in contact w/ the 41 other universities who have signed on," she announced. She suggested that, starting Monday, we would have regular meetings, firm deadlines, and open dialogue. She requested evidence of ASU's apparel being made in sweatshops. This has been dealt with extensively elsewhere, but a brief explanation may be necessary. The Fair Labor Association, of which ASU is a member, does not publicize factory conditions beyond brief summary, nor does it disclose the specific locations employed to produce ASU's apparel. The board of the FLA includes representatives of such brands as Nike, Adidas, Reebok, etc. Because sweatshop labor is an industry standard, and the fact that brands like Nike have been inextricably implicated in sweatshop operations, [FLA] is fundamentally flawed.... The correct question, however, is whether or not ASU can prove that our apparel is not made in sweatshops. The answer to that question is regrettably "No," a primary cause for our campaign.

Ms. Wallace suggested that we must leave, the failure to do so would be cause for arrest. USAS did not leave. On a dime, Ms. Wallace's demeanor shifted to one of more personal vendetta than professional frustration. Her parting comment of the day, "actually you are not welcome here," was in response to Dean of Students Susie Greene's statement, "we're glad to have you." From that point, Ms. Wallace was consumed not with the issue of labor injustice, but how she was going to get us out of the building. The extent to which she felt personally attacked is unfortunate, and has never been our goal. We greatly respect administrators and understand that their busy schedules don't always allow them to dig into every issue. We did not occupy B.B. Dougherty to denigrate Ms. Wallace or anyone else, but to call to the attention of the university the fact that an extremely serious issue is on our hands, and is being ignored. Ultimately, universities, students, and workers are all on the same side here. The DSP eventually will be signed, the FLA will be retired, and members of USAS, including myself, will be able rest assured. Brands will likely pass the marginal price increase, about a quarter on a $20 item, to the price tag. This price increase will barely be noticed by the consumer, but potentially life-changing to the factory worker....

By 7:00 [Friday night], following an incredibly uplifting teach-in attended by upwards of 60 students, faculty, and staff, action would be taken. Ms. Wallace again emerged from the ever-closed doors to deliver her final words. What followed was a jaw-dropping speech, including a warning that any student entering any building for the cause of protest would be met with arrest. She warned of second-degree trespassing charges, potential academic penalty, and a final demand that we depart. It was now undeniably clear that the ears of the administration were as closed as ever. I know, I have to believe that there are some within the administration fighting for us. I cannot accept that our university could be so blind, so unwilling to listen to its students. Ms. Wallace did not address the issue at all as a blanket of sadness draped the room. As we gathered our things, six members of USAS willingly lined up to be arrested. They were charged with 1st degree trespassing and disorderly conduct, they were not read their rights, and they were removed. Those remaining watched in horror as their fellow classmates, men and women, were escorted into a police van by armed officers.

From within the van emerged a faint chant of hope. "J - U - S. J-U-S-T-I-C-E. What We Want Is Justice In Our Factories. J - U - S. J-U-S-T-I-C-E. WHAT WE WANT IS JUSTICE IN OUR FACTORIES." For no less than 15 minutes dozens chanted this at the top of their lungs, reflecting an undying commitment to workers rights. As the supposed arms of justice carried peaceful protesters away, what remained was a mass of disillusioned members of the ASU community begging for explanation.

It is now Monday, and we have had a couple of days to reflect on the tragic events of last week (not to mention to collect the thousands of dollars to bail our people out of jail). We will not go away, the issue is unfinished. I am asking all of you, each one of you to make yourself heard. We must not stand silent while a clear problem with a clear solution goes unresolved. It is very much in the interest of ASU, including the administration, to adopt the DSP.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The "Noose Incident" and the Arrest of USAS Members

The atmosphere over on the campus of Appalachian State University must be vibrating like a tuning fork. Just received this e-mail alert:

Hey all:

Just received word that there is a huge meeting planned to address the noose incident, the USAS arrests, and possibly the resignation of several administrative staff.

It's this Tuesday at 6:30pm probably in Grandfather Mountain Ballroom (if not, it's somewhere in the Student Union). Allegedly, the administration and SGA are planning a meeting to address the issues, however, a rally of involved students and staff is being planned for the same time.

Students demand a transparent administration, and it's handling of the noose incident as well as its refusal to honestly communicate the details of Friday's arrest incident indicate that this administration has failed on almost every level. While this event is billed as an SGA and administrative public conference on these issues, students of various organizations are planning to show up and loudly let their voices be heard.

There will most likely be state administrators present.

This is our chance as a student body to show the administration that its handling of student development and affairs needs attention.

Hope to see you all there! Bring friends!

In Student Solidarity

Additional details posted here as we learn them.

ASU Students Answer Peacock

WataugaWatch has received a response from the ASU chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) to the official statement put out by ASU Chancellor Ken Peacock following the arrest of students in the Administration Building Friday night. (Peacock's statement was posted here as an addendum to the background on the arrests.)

The 18 Misrepresentations of Chancellor Peacock's Message
A USAS response to the Chancellor's misleading letter.
You can reach Peacock at 828-262-2040 and ask to leave a message demanding he drop all charges!

1. I am very disappointed in the outcome of the United Students Against Sweatshops action in the Administration Building this week. Despite our many attempts to have productive dialogue

RESPONSE No attempts at dialogue had been made by ASU until the very day of the sit-in. All meetings were called by USAS, often with months passing before an administrative response or meeting. This process started in September 2006 – 20 months ago.

2. and offer compromises to the students involved, our every effort was rejected

RESPONSE No attempts at compromise were made until Thursday April 10th. The only answer USAS ever received before was "no to the DSP and no to more meetings." The last full day of the sit-in, the administration offered to set specific deadlines to meet on the issue and to be in contact with the 42 other universities that had already signed on – a far cry from adoption of the DSP. The only other effort was when Cindy Wallace said ASU endorses the principles and intent of the DSP and that any students who refuse such an offer as inadequate would be arrested.

3. and we were forced to deal with the realities of the university resources required to allow them to continue to stay through a weekend.

RESPONSE The University has more resources than they'd have you believe. They wanted to staff the building with police officers "for your safety." Apparently ASU is in a budget crisis because it was just too expensive to reallocate one, probably underpaid and underappreciated, officer. The university regularly pays for police during tailgating parties for ASU football games, and that is never seen as a waste of campus resources. It could also be that the day after the arrests, ASU was flooded with 4,000 prospective freshman and parents for Spring Open House. It could have been unsightly to have that problem exposed to potential financial backers.

4. Because our only legal recourse to deal with students refusing to leave the building was to place them under arrest for disorderly conduct, we were forced to take that step.

RESPONSE Students were arrested for 1st degree trespassing and disorderly conduct. Before the arrests, students were told they'd be charged with 2nd degree trespassing.

The chancellor fails to mention another very real and very legal option -- agreeing to conditionally sign on to the DSP as students had demanded.

5. Vice Chancellor for Student Development Cindy Wallace explained the situation to the students prior to that action being taken and warned them of the ramifications of having an arrest record and violating the Student Code of Conduct. Those students who chose to continue to stay were informed of their rights, arrested and led out of the building.

RESPONSE Students were not read their rights. Students lined themselves up, cooperated fully and were peacefully taken to jail.

6. My greatest regret is that, at the end of the day, there has been no positive movement toward addressing the very issue the students say they want to address.

RESPONSE Why, then, did Peacock and his administration shut down negotiations in December of 2007 and refuse to schedule another meeting with no alternatives suggested? Students have been trying to address the issue for years; it is the administration that has failed on that end. We share this regret.

7. This group has had multiple meetings with both my representatives and myself in the last six months

RESPONSE There were only two such meetings in the last six months. One was actually official and took place on December 6th, 2007, in which Dayton Cole and Lorin Baumhover rejected student requests and shut down dialogue indefinitely. The only one with the Chancellor was on Feb 14th, 2008, in which he granted an unscheduled meeting because a friendly administrator asked him to. It may have also concerned him the amount of media members we had present. That meeting addressed nothing.

8. and I provided them with a written response to their concerns on March 19.

RESPONSE Written response was given as the only communication between Feb. 14th and March 19th, which was the deadline to have achieved several serious and explicit goals regarding the issue including having meetings and outlining specific concerns that they had with the issue. His February 14th promise to reopen dialogue apparently meant sending out one email that also said no.

9. We also have been in consultation with the other campuses in the UNC System and no other institution has accepted their demands.

RESPONSE We weren't demanding anything of other UNC schools – just ASU. There are, however, four NC and 150+ national chapters pushing for the same thing.

10. The University's commitment to seek and follow policies and programs that are both lawful and effective in eliminating sweatshops remains steadfast

RESPONSE An appropriate response here might be, "prove it." What has ASU done that they weren't required to do already? All the rhetoric of preparing students to be global citizens and making ASU a leader in sustainability seems pretty hollow considering the decidedly careless manner in which they have addressed this important issue.

11. and we will continue our membership in the Fair Labor Association, which has been promoting safe and healthy production and labor practices for many years.

RESPONSE The FLA is little more than a manufacturers' charade. Its board is headed by the very companies that it is designed to investigate, it refuses to do out-of-factory interviews, it refuses to release factory locations, and it has little transparency in its factory reports -- most of which are kept secret. It is a poor excuse for an independent, effective monitoring organization.

12. Appalachian State University works diligently to ensure that our licensed products meet acceptable standards.

RESPONSE How? Such hollow statements are a slap in the face to people who really have worked for years to affect true change. Appalachian, sadly, has done little more than stonewalling and paper-pushing on the issue of sweatshops. Who denotes what acceptable labor standards are? Clearly students, Faculty Senate and SGA have different gauges by which to qualify these standards.

13. It is clear to me that these students and the University have those goals in common. Our only disagreement is a difference of opinion in how to achieve those goals most effectively.

RESPONSE "Difference of opinion"?! ASU: do nothing until we are forced to. Students and USAS: do something until there's nothing left to do.

14. We have repeatedly assured the students that if they have information regarding illegal or unacceptable practices by any company producing items for Appalachian we will immediately investigate and take appropriate actions.

RESPONSE Again, "repeatedly assured" in this case means "told one time the day before we sent you to jail."

15. We have yet to receive any information from the students in that regard

RESPONSE It's rather difficult to send email from a jail cell. But honestly, back in the Fall of 2006 USAS did provide evidence that sweatshops are an issue in the university apparel market. Unfortunately, it was impossible for us to get any data on ASU-specific factories because, as stated before, ASU uses a potentially corrupt monitoring body that doesn't release factory locations or full reports.

16. so their claim that Appalachian supports sweatshop labor is unsupported.

RESPONSE Sweatshops are, unfortunately, an industry standard for apparel manufacturing. Without programs like the DSP, sweatshops run rampant. It is no secret that almost all factories that are investigated have been found to have serious labor rights abuses. USAS fears that the insufficiencies of the FLA will fail to uncover these violations. The adoption of the DSP would eliminate any potential for such violations to persist.

17. I hope this dialogue with the students can continue in a more productive format and with mutual respect for everyone who has been involved.

RESPONSE From the disrespectful communication that students have received from the very beginning, this may not be the most genuine statement. It is true, USAS responded in kind to these unprofessional tactics. Is this an invitation for reopening dialogue? We, too, hope for dialogue. We hope that dialogue will begin in a productive format. We respect and appreciate the time spent by all parties and insist that more is needed.

18. I also hope that we can move forward without the students continuing to resort to tactics that interfere with the day-to-day operations of the University and the Chancellor's office that must be conducted on behalf of our students, faculty and staff.

RESPONSE Simple logic twist here: the wording makes you think that members of USAS are against the interests of students, faculty and staff – as if our actions threaten the greater good. Students were kind, courteous, clean and apologetic the entire time they occupied the building. Staff in the administration building were even thanking us and bringing us food, which we were very grateful for. This sort of critique serves to de-legitimize the issue at hand and brings focus to a disagreement on tactics rather than the much more important disagreement of whether or not to combat injustices.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Politicizing the Real Estate Industry

The following e-mail endorsement of a Republican candidate running against Cullie Tarleton for the NC House was circulated this afternoon to between 700 and 800 individuals on the local "realtor-only" internet listserve called Internet Crusade, supposedly NOT a venue for partisan politics. Despite whether it breaks the listserve rules, it contains a number of factual errors that are pointed out below.

This is the text of the e-mail:
Subject: MountainsTalk: Only read this if you care about your future and your pocketbook

My friend Dan Soucek is running as the Republican challenger for the NC House of Representatives for Ashe and Watauga district 93 against the incumbent, Cullie Tarleton. Dan recently met with the state level Republican Party and they told him that this particular race was one of the top five priorities in the upcoming elections.

The Republican party is not the only party that has prioritized the High Country from a state level. If you go to this link: http://www.followthemoney.org/database/StateGlance/candidate.phtml?c=87936, you will see that the NC Democratic Party and the NC Democratic House Committee donated a staggering $139,245 to their High Country 2006 candidate, Cullie Tarleton. This made up almost 2/3 of Cullie's $210,110 (more than double the average of the other House/Assembly winners whose meager averages were only $96,026) . Compare this with Cullie's opponent, Gene Wilson who could only muster up $58,481. I think that regardless of affiliation, we can all agree that no one wants local elections to be for sale to outsiders.

If you know Dan, then I know you already support him. If you do not know Dan, then visit his web site www.fansofdan.com to learn more about him. His goal is to generate a buzz, both monetarily and by sheer volumes of local support. On his web site, you will learn what kind of man he is. You will also be instructed on how you can help participate in his campaign. He is asking his friends and supporters to go there and donate anything they can...even if it is as little as $5 either by check or through the site's Paypal link. Even if you cannot give any more than this, you can add your name to the list of people who want integrity and local control back in Watauga County. If you can give more, all the better. We just want you to make your voices heard. You are also encouraged you to act before April 19th, which is an important reporting date for the campaigns.

There are several issues on the horizon that will be greatly affecting our families, our lives and our livelihood, especially for Realtors. Raleigh is considering a statewide steep slope issue that would affect how the people of Watauga County would be able to use and develop their land. The vast majority Watauga residents made their voices known already and said "NO" to zoning in the county. That voice may be silenced on the state level if we do not start making some serious changes in our state government. Also the land transfer tax is looming as well. Raleigh is considering allowing yet another tax on the sale of property...further burdening and complicating our already pricey market. The current leadership, including our local representative has demanded more and more of our money while simultaneously infringing increasingly on our individual rights.

It is about time we start taking a proactive role in our own lives. It is time to put the power back into the hands of the honest people who live, work, raise families, attend church and pay taxes here.

Mike Shew
Coldwell Banker Blair & Associates
2408 Hwy 105 South
Boone, NC 28607

The House Caucus spent $150,000 and change in 'O6 on the Tarleton race, with Tarleton himself raising half of that amount.

The transfer tax is a LOCAL decision entirely, not a Raleigh decision, and Raleigh is NOT considering allowing another tax on the sale of property. We assume the writer is talking about the existing transfer tax local option, and again that decision is made by the voters and not in Raleigh.

A "safe slopes construction act" was introduced in the 2007 state legislature, but was referred to a study commission, where it is being rewritten. Although there is a need for regulating slope construction in the western mountains, most political sages we know say the act -- even considerably watered down -- has little chance of passing the NC House in 2008.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

ASU Students Arrested on Third Day of Sit-In

The arrest Friday night of five Appalachian State University students and one non-student member of the local community caps a year-and-a-half struggle by a local chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops to get the university administration to take action to insure that none of the souvenir apparel items bearing the university’s insignia is sweatshop-produced.

The students want the university to sign on to the "Designated Suppliers Program" (DSP), which is affiliated with the Workers Rights Consortium and is dedicated to ensuring that apparel made with university logos is produced under humane conditions. As of the first of March, some 181 American colleges and universities have affiliated, including Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill.

We won't go into the evils of sweatshop labor here, except to point out that Appalachian State University claims it has taken steps to avoid the use of it through membership in something called the Fair Labor Association, which the United Students Against Sweatshops considers a sham org dominated by big corporations (like Nike) and which offers "a weak code that fails to provide for women's rights, a living wage, the full public disclosure of factory locations, or university control over the monitoring process."

Background to the Arrests
The local chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) launched its "Sweatfree Campus Campaign" in the fall of 2006. Local students did research on the licensees of ASU-sanctioned clothing and presented it to Chancellor Ken Peacock, along with information on the DSP. In the subsequent meeting with the chancellor, the students realized that he had not read the material, "so the meeting was spent explaining concepts to him."

After that initial meeting, Chancellor Peacock appeared to lose interest in the students' concerns and delegated his "chief of staff" Lorin Baumhover to meet with them. Baumhover, according to the students, was antagonistic from the beginning, saying that USAS needed "scholarly research" to prove that DSP monitoring works and that the students needed to prove to the administration that they had campus-wide support.

The students went to work. They produced a 50-page research packet and delivered it to Chancellor Peacock's office and successfully lobbied both the SGA Senate and the Faculty Senate to pass resolutions in favor of dropping the university's affiliation with the Fair Labor Assn. and affiliating instead with the DSP (the SGA legislation, SB 040-005, is here, and Faculty Senate Res. FS 06-07/04-30-01 is here). The student government and faculty senate actions were taken in the spring of 2007 -- ironic, since by April 2007 Chancellor Peacock had ceased to respond at all to USAS e-mails.

In August 2007, Lorin Baumhover brought university attorney Dayton Cole to a meeting with USAS representatives. Attorney Cole made his case that DSP actually violated anti-trust laws, a point the students could counter with numerous legal opinions to the contrary written by the D.C. law firm of Baker & Miller (available here on the Workers Rights Consortium website), and besides, the students' proposal to Chancellor Peacock contained the proviso that ASU would adopt the program only AFTER the U.S. Dept. of Justice had determined the legality of the DSP.

Through August into September 2007, repeated e-mail and phone attempts by USAS to speak directly with Chancellor Peacock were met by silence.

The Students Get Creative
At the September 6, 2007, Convocation, which featured immigration expert Paul Cuadros, USAS was ready and unfurled a huge banner in the Holmes Center urging the university to take action on guaranteeing that sweatshop labor did not go into the production of ASU apparel. Several thousand ASU freshmen were thus informed for the first time that there might be a problem with the top administrators at their institution.

On October 3, 2007, USAS participated in an "international day of action" by covering the Yosef statue with tin foil and erecting a sign: "Sweatshops Reflect Poorly on ASU." The students also delivered a giant fake check for 25 cents, made out to Ken Peacock, to the chancellor's office, a visual representation of what the students say would be the retail price increase on a T-shirt made by a worker earning a living wage. The students also asked, again, for the Chancellor to make a decision on the DSP proposal.

Lorin Baumhover finally responds to student e-mails, says the only possible time to meet with them is during final exams for the fall semester.

Chancellor Peacock makes, then breaks an appointment with three-hours' notice on Dec. 5, 2007. Then on the next day, Dec. 6, Peacock gives over the students once again to his chief hatchetman Lorin Baumhover and the university attorney Dayton Cole. The students are told that ASU refuses to participate in the DSP. Furthermore, they feel that Dayton Cole is lying to them by "fabricating nonexistent legal opinions to support ASU's position."

January 23, 2008, USAS participates in another "day of action," presenting a framed "Certificate of Disappreciation" to Chancellor Peacock.

February 14, 2008, Valentine's Day, the Chancellor's office is treated to an "international phone and e-mail bomb" urging him to sign on to the DSP. ASU students drop by Peacock's office to deliver handmade valentines. Chancellor calls an emergency meeting with USAS, refuses once again to adopt their proposals but agrees "to reopen negotiations." Follow-up e-mails from USAS to Peacock thanking him for the meeting and asking to move forward on his promise to reopen negotiations go unanswered.

March 20, 2008 ... silent rally at Peacock's office to symbolize his silence and failure to follow through on his promise for open dialogue.

Wednesday of this week, April 9, noon: while a large group of students rally for DPS outside the administration building (the photo above, taken by Clair Baxter for The Appalachian), a small delegation enters the chancellor's office for a non-violent protest sit-in. Within minutes University cops arrive with hand-cuffs, Tasers, and other implements of enforcement and tell the students they will be arrested if they don't leave.

The students leave but go downstairs to the interior lobby, a public space they say they intend to occupy until Chancellor Peacock meets with them. University cops say they will be arrested when the building closes at 5 p.m. But they are not arrested, and the building is locked. Some nine students spend the night in that lobby. The next day, Thursday, other students join the protest, which continues uninterrupted through Thursday night and all day Friday, with a varying number of students participating at any one time. Several university cops babysit them through the vigil.

Suddenly, Friday night about 7 p.m., the six individuals then present in the administration building are arrested, hand-cuffed, and taken to a local magistrate and booked for trespass and disorderly conduct. They were freed on bail shortly afterward.

Why would ASU wait until Friday night for the arrest? One of the sit-in organizers thought it might have something to do with Saturday's planned open house for prospective freshmen. Several thousand high school students and their parents are on campus today, and it just wouldn't do for them to see civil disobedience going on at the admin. bldg.

More on this as we learn more.

ADDENDUM: Chancellor's Official Statement:
To the Campus Community
From Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock

April 11, 2008

"I am very disappointed in the outcome of the United Students Against Sweatshops
action in the Administration Building this week. Despite our many attempts to
have productive dialogue and offer compromises to the students involved, our
every effort was rejected and we were forced to deal with the realities of the
university resources required to allow them to continue to stay through a weekend.

Because our only legal recourse to deal with students refusing to leave the
building was to place them under arrest for disorderly conduct, we were forced
to take that step. Vice Chancellor for Student Development Cindy Wallace
explained the situation to the students prior to that action being taken and
warned them of the ramifications of having an arrest record and violating the
Student Code of Conduct. Those students who chose to continue to stay were
informed of their rights, arrested and led out of the building.

My greatest regret is that, at the end of the day, there has been no positive
movement toward addressing the very issue the students say they want to address.
This group has had multiple meetings with both my representatives and myself in
the last six months and I provided them with a written response to their
concerns on March 19. We also have been in consultation with the other campuses
in the UNC System and no other institution has accepted their demands.

The University's commitment to seek and follow policies and programs that are
both lawful and effective in eliminating sweatshops remains steadfast and we
will continue our membership in the Fair Labor Association, which has been
promoting safe and healthy production and labor practices for many years.

Appalachian State University works diligently to ensure that our licensed
products meet acceptable standards. It is clear to me that these students and
the University have those goals in common. Our only disagreement is a difference
of opinion in how to achieve those goals most effectively. We have repeatedly
assured the students that if they have information regarding illegal or
unacceptable practices by any company producing items for Appalachian we will
immediately investigate and take appropriate actions. We have yet to receive
any information from the students in that regard so their claim that Appalachian
supports sweatshop labor is unsupported.

I hope this dialogue with the students can continue in a more productive format
and with mutual respect for the time of everyone who has been involved. I also
hope that we can move forward without the students continuing to resort to
tactics that interfere with the day-to-day operations of the University and the
Chancellor’s office that must be conducted on behalf of our students, faculty
and staff."

Friday, April 11, 2008

Positive Charge

Received a robo-call this afternoon at Chez Williamson:
Hi, this is Bev Perdue. I wanted you to know wherever I go, people ask me, "Can't we stop the negative campaigning?" So I've decided to take my negative ads off the air and run only positive ads. In my campaign for governor, I'll be speaking to the issues that matter to you and your family -- jobs, health care, and education. Let's have a positive campaign for North Carolina's future, and please visit BevPerdue.com to learn more about our positive campaign....

That's three positives in less than a minute.

According to both Carter Wrenn and Gary Pearce, this unilateral disarmament by Perdue is nothing less than political suicide.

Ed Cone: "...a cynical view would be that she's stopping because the negativity was hurting her with voters. Or maybe Moore's negative ads are hurting her, and this is a way of disarming him and claiming the high ground."

We'd say it's the latter. And perhaps it'll work. Then maybe Hillary will try it too.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tightening the Noose

A most enlightening (and one might say courageous) letter to the editor today in The Appalachian, the student newspaper at Appalachian State University, written by a member of the sociology department about the now notorious "noose incident."

The facts of the case continue to leak out in a slow damaging seep, no thanks to the official "suits" at the university, which have once again gone all rigid with denial and cover-up.

The facts as they have been established: a disgruntled and failing student gains unauthorized access to a faculty member's office in order to photograph a noose, a souvenir of that faculty member's published research into the death penalty and lynching in the South. The photographs are used to stampede the ASU administration and to raise a hue-and-cry against the specter of discrimination and race hatred. The faculty member feels (rightly) violated and unjustly "fingered" for disciplinary action. The most incriminating sentence in the letter linked above: the faculty member was " 'strongly advised' by university administrators not to pursue criminal charges against this student and not to mention the break in of their office space."

No, wouldn't do for the actual facts of this mangled bit of crisis management to get out into the general public.

There's an absolute instinct at that university among the highest echelons to do the wrong thing automatically and then snarl when confronted. And the faculty has an absolute instinct to be cowed by the snarling. Except one brave sociology professor.

This Pause in the Action Brought To You by Rep. Foxx

The Federal Elections Commission, before it went defunct because of a quorum problem brought on by vacancies, created rules that protect bloggers from campaign finance laws. These regs don't constitute any binding law that extends that protection indefinitely. "The Blogger Protection Act of 2008," introduced this week by Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), would amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to protect all forms of "uncompensated Internet activity by individuals from treatment as a contribution or expenditure."

Basically, right now bloggers can say whatever they want for or against a candidate and be free from federal regulations. The only exception is if they're being explicitly paid by a campaign to blog.

Rep. Virginia Foxx has signed on as a co-sponsor to make those existing rules permanent.

Which almost made us spit out the last piece of her anatomy we bit off.

We'll be back to our regular diet soon.

New Voter Registrations Soaring in N.C.

Rob Christensen reports this a.m. that North Carolina has netted at least 110,000 new voters since December, "with a particularly sharp rise among unaffiliated voters, Democrats and black people."

"There is also anecdotal evidence that some Republicans are switching their registration to Democrat or unaffiliated to participate in the primaries," says Christensen.

Republican loyalists may want to believe those party switches are evidence that Rush Limbaugh's Operation Chaos is working. Doubtful. What may be at work is far more dangerous for the party of preemptive warfare, the attraction of actual possibility.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Clinton's Strength in Rural Areas

Public Policy Polling identifies the rural areas of North Carolina, where the greatest percentage of "undecideds" live, as Hillary Clinton's great hope for turning around a projected loss in the N.C. primary in a few weeks.

This analysis also uncovers what looks like a weakness in the Obama campaign, not just in North Carolina but elsewhere ... a failure to reach out effectively to rural voters.

The Clinton campaign is using its best weapon to blunt Obama's urban appeal, that cornpone country boy and ex-president Bill.

The urban/rural divide in America is as real as boiled cabbage and sometimes smells worse. Urban assumptions about country people are fraught with negative stereotypes and class bias that are actually older and almost as damaging as racial stereotypes and bias.

In the end, Obama may triumph by sheer urban numbers. Rural residents, as defined by the U.S. Census, now account for less than 25% of all Americans, though they are most numerous in the South.

Still, it would be a good idea if "the change we can believe in" included a brighter future for country people too.

The Green Zone, Hazardous to Members of Congress

Polishing your wholly imaginary military cred in Baghdad's "green zone" is not a good idea for western North Carolina congresspersons ... because they often end up looking like tin soldiers, all tarnished and bent.

First, Madam Virginia Foxx, well known military expert, goes over in August 2006, surveys the far horizon from the safety of one of Saddam's former palaces and declares, "Iraq war going well. Soldiers seem happy with their equipment and their mission."

After Mary Shaffrey reports the Madam's words in the Winston-Salem Journal, and incredulous guffawing breaks out all over the Fifth Dist., Madam Foxx severs press relations with the Winston-Salem Journal, blaming the newspaper for reporting what she said. Journal editor eventually writes an editorial pointing out the congresswoman's dyspepsia and her use of alleged media bias as a fundraising ploy. Anti-Foxx letters-to-the-editor pour into the Journal for weeks.

Now little Patty McHenry from the neighboring Tenth Congressional District, another noted military expert, gets himself to the Green Zone, partly to build up his military credentials against an actual military man running against him in the Republican primary, and partly to duck a debate, wraps his wet head in a plush towel and promptly steps on his own weenie at least twice.

See, there's a lesson in here somewhere for posturing politicians and professional phonies.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Clinton, Obama-rama

Clinton campaign opens regional office in Winston-Salem.

Michelle Obama in W-S tomorrow evening.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Three-Bit Congressman Sneers at "Two-Bit" Enlisted Soldier

We don't know the provenance of the devastating video of NC-10 Congressman Patty McHenry's insulting reference to a U.S. Army enlisted man in Iraq as "a two-bit security guard," but it shows every earmark of a macaca moment, very much in the process of going viral. (It was on ThinkProgress yesterday, and I've been forwarded several postings of it from other national sites.)

We first saw it on PatGoByeBye last Tuesday, posted by Drama Queen, but she may have gotten it from the Sigmon for Congress site. Sigmon is Little Patty's Republican primary rival. It's clear that the video, taken during a Lincoln County Republican Party dinner, was recorded by a Republican insider and shared with candidate Sigmon, another indication that McHenry's party support in the Tenth Dist. is spongy, at best.

Watching it the first (and the second time) we couldn't help reflecting on the evident self-importance of the congressman ... to feel so big that he can off-handedly, and in front of the home folks, insult a soldier doing his job in Iraq. The arrogance of "who was this soldier to challenge me -- ME! -- for the proper credentials?!" -- why, it puts one in mind of former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who went all medieval on a Capitol guard because he didn't recognize her. That event helped McKinney lose her congressional seat.

The video of McHenry, because his personality and his values are so manifestly on display, may have the "legs" to march into Republican computers all over his district ... especially if the local press feels any obligation whatsoever to let regular people see this pompous little ass for what he is.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Ode to Virginia

With apologies to Alfred Joyce Kilmer, who after all isn't in a position to defend himself:

I think that I shall never see
A Congresswoman deaf as she.
Listening to all our fears
With fingers in her ears.

I think that I shall never find
A Congresswoman so unkind,
With heart as big as English pea,
As hard as lead and shriveled, we see.

“If Katrina,” quoth she, “blows you away,
Don’t look at me – just pray!”
No minimum wage, no student loans…
She doesn’t hear our collective moans--
Unless your name’s Schiavo, you bet!
(Though not so much if you’re a Vet)

I think that I shall never see
So 19th-century a soul as she.
We need to turn back all our clocks
To understand our Madam Foxx.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Roy Carter Announces Opposition to Mountain-Top Removal

Press release this p.m. from 5th Dist. Democratic candidate for Congress Roy Carter:
Roy Carter Announces Position on Mountain Top Removal

On Friday, April 4, 2008 at 10:00am, Roy Carter, Candidate for US Congress in North Carolina's 5th district, will hold a press conference in the Calloway Peak room of the Plemmons Student Union on the campus of Appalachian State University in Boone to announce his position statement on mountain top-removal. Roy Carter will answer questions from ASU students, area residents, and the media, regarding this vital issue.

Dr. Harvard Ayers and Dr. Pat Beaver will join Roy Carter for the press conference and may offer their own statements on mountain top removal and may answer questions from citizens and/or the media.

How Do You Out-Think a Political Party That Ain't Thinking?

Read on the "Dome" this a.m. that a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee confidently proclaimed that Obama and Clinton can put North Carolina "in play" all they want in this Democratic primary, but it won't -- definitely WILL NOT -- be in play come November.


Because John Edwards did not carry the state for John Kerry in 2004.

Seriously, that's what she said. And that the Republicans have carried the state in presidential elections since 1976. End of discussion.

Confession: we love it that the RNC is thinking like this. We love it that they are apparently oblivious to these numbers, that they are so confident that the past has etched the future in stone. We adore Congresswoman Virginia Foxx's obtuseness about economic worries ("Don't have health insurance? You have ONLY yourself to blame!"). We admire the rationalization of our own Watauga County GOP that not fielding candidates for local office is a brilliant stroke of political cunning. We're absolutely gaga over Mullah James Dobson's insistence that Sen. John McSame does not pass the litmus test for conservative purity.

Meanwhile, we get an e-mail this a.m. from a local Republican who has changed registration to Democrat and is looking for the local Obama office. Apparently, that voter hasn't heard that McSame already won N.C. by virtue of John Edwards' losing it four years ago.

If politics weren't so damn amusing, how could we put up with the appalling sapience of the RNC prognosticators?

The Importance of North Carolina

Says Peter Francia, an East Carolina University political science professor, of candidate Hillary Clinton:
"She is very much against the ropes. If she wins North Carolina, she's back in this thing. If she doesn't win, she probably drops out."

We wouldn't recommend holding your breath on that latter prediction.

But the do-or-die nature of the North Carolina vote is attested to by the posting of Clinton operative Ace Smith, "a soft-spoken Californian who headed winning Clinton campaigns in California and Texas," into the Raleigh hub for the duration.

Smith is also described as "the epitome of a take-no-prisoners political operative who has built a reputation as a dogged [digger up of dirt]." As the French say, "Holy shit!"

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Little Miss Management at ASU

The Winston-Salem Journal editorializes against ASU Chancellor Ken Peacock this a.m. over "the noose incident" which has convulsed the campus for weeks. "It's past time for the school to make full disclosure," writes the Journal.

A student reporter for The Appalachian newspaper at ASU also delved into the story yesterday, coming up with an anonymous source that sheds more light than we've previously seen.

The bottomline appears to be this: Chancellor Peacock waffled and caved to pressure from the parents of a "disgruntled student," and the end result is that the standing and career of an exemplary professor, whose student ratings are consistently high, is imperiled.

Still unanswered: what "disciplinary" actions have been taken against the professor and on what basis?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Plush Panda Bear, $49.95 (cheap!)

Bev Perdue, Democratic candidate for NC Gov in the May 6th primary, is using robo calls to African-American households that say:
"I want you to know that I endorse Barack Obama for president. I've been a lifetime member of the NAACP and Barack Obama and I share a committment for equal opportunity for all Americans. It's such an exciting time. We have a chance to make history in America and right here in North Carolina.

"This is Bev Perdue. I'd appreciate your support in my campaign for governor. Thanks so much and have a great day." (Via Dome)

Is it the robo call or the pandering that hurts?

Anyway, Richard Moore, Perdue's chief rival for the nomination, endorsed Obama first.

Citizens for Change, Revisited

Reading Frank Ruggiero's account of the handful of disagreeable property owners standing in the way of the "Howard Street Project" (they refuse to grant easements or right-of-ways for sidewalks, etc.), we began to wonder how many of them were big supporters of "Citizens for Change" in the last town election.

To find that out, we went to the campaign finance report form that Citizens for Change filed with the State Board of Elections in January (though it has been mis-dated Jan. 2007).

For those who've been wanting to know, Citizens for Change says it raised a total in cash of $45,426.12 and spent $42.772.65 in last fall's Boone town elections, doubling several times over the amount spent by the eventual winners (Stephen Phillips alone excepted). This total in cash does not count what Phil Templeton individually spent on multiple newspaper ads (many of them full-page), though he was also a big donor to Citizens for Change.

You can go to the PDF file linked above and view the individuals who gave anywhere from $100 to $4,000 to this PAC. Two of them, at least, are noted obstructionists to the Howard Street redevelopment plan. New town council member Stephen Phillips, the sole Citizens for Change candidate who won, says in the Ruggiero article that he has been having private meetings with these owners, and he defends their version of civic-mindedness in halting the redevelopment of Howard Street.

The big disbursements of the PAC went to High Country Media, Aisling Broadcasting, Charter Media, Precision Printing, High Country Press, the U.S. Postal Service, Best Image Signs, and the Lenoir News Topic for printing the little newspaper that got handed out and mailed. Among the many other smaller expenditures was $194 to the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce for membership dues and mailing labels.

This Man Wants To Be Lt. Gov.

State Senator Robert Pittenger from Charlotte, the man John Hood of the John Locke Foundation (who ought to know!) says the Republican Party will nominate on May 6th as their candidate for Lieutenant Governor.

Pittenger is a big global warming denier. He goes around with a PowerPoint that debunks climate change. He's also ranked 47th in effectiveness in the 50-member state Senate, according to the most recent survey by the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research.

Yep. He'll make a fine representative for the NC GOP in 2008.

Two -- Count 'em! -- Two Obama Offices in Boone

Apparently the Obama office next door to Beanstalk we reported yesterday is primarily for ASU students. There's another office further up King Street, past the county courthouse, in the back portion of 920 W. King.

More details as we learn them.