Monday, June 30, 2008

Crack Whore

Looking for a fix, Republican candidate for NC guv Pat McCrory now says he's in favor of punching holes in the sea floor off the North Carolina coast. Gonna git that awl. Which'll make it possible to keep running all these SUVs up and down the road. Sez he'll issue an "executive order" once he's guv. Since he'll be god and all.

NC-11 Congressman Heath Shuler labels this oily pandering as a "lack of maturity" in his fellow House Republicans.
Shuler said oil and gas companies already hold leases on nearly 68 million acres of federal land that could produce an additional 4.8 million barrels of oil and 44.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas each day. That would nearly double total U.S. oil production and would increase natural gas production by 75 percent, he said.

Instead of insisting that Big Oil drill the leases they already hold, Republican politicians posture for the cameras and tout the "easy fix" of drilling off our coasts and in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. Like Madam Foxx. And pathetic Liddy Dole.

And now Pat McCrory.

Men Beat Their Wives in the Pursuit of Holiness

Damn uppity women. Causing men to abuse 'em.

Unstable Laurelmor

Mounting evidence.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Marion Goes Wet

In case you missed the screaming parallels with the upcoming liquor-by-the-drink vote in Boone ... Marion, N.C., recently passed both liquor-by-the-drink sales AND beer sales within its city limits...

1. despite the opposition of a "formidable opposition group" calling itself Citizens for Faith and Family Values, led by two preachers, and a second group called Concerned Christians Against Beer Businesses, the leaders of which say they will now lead a boycott of businesses selling beer

2. despite the howls of outrage by McDowell County residents, who said it wasn't right that they weren't allowed to vote on whether Marion city could sanction liquor sales (reference the comments to the article linked above)

We haven't changed our personal leanings on this issue (against, for fastidiously complicated antediluvian reasons), but we'll be watching to see whether Marion sinks into the Pit of Everlasting Fire in time to offer an object lesson in native economics (you know what an economist is, right? Someone who knows the cost of everything but the value of nothing).

McCain Kissing Some Rings in WNC

Senator John is outside Asheville today paying fealty to one branch of American churchiness represented by Billy Graham and his son Franklin.

McCain's denial that the visit has anything to do with politics is hilarious (and logic-defying):
"I think the Graham family really transcends politics in America. Billy Graham was an adviser to every president and so I'm not sure that there is any -- there certainly is no political aspect to the meeting that I will have."

McCain has been trying to convince Christian conservatives that he's one of them, and hanging out with the Grahams might help.

Plus McCain and Franklin Graham have a lot of mutual Middle Eastern war-lovin' to discuss. Franklin seemed to welcome the Iraq War as an expansion opportunity for his brand of evangelistic Christianity.

Senator McCain Writes Us a Letter

"Dear Friend,
The choice America will face in November is very clear" begins. How clear? The Senator will leave no easy, knee-jerk stereotype unused: "liberal" vs. "conservative" are tossed around precisely 21 words into the letter.

And those prejudices are supposed to kick me into a generous mood? Senator McCain is asking ME for money, while ringing the Pavlovian bell of "liberal liberal liberal"? Either (1) his campaign is REALLY hurting or (2) his campaign is really inept, wasting postage on the likes of me. But we digress.

On page 2 of this 4-page screed (and why can't candidates for national office be succinct and waste less paper?) we wade into the deep weeds of manipulation:
"And I am running so that every person in this country, now and in generations to come, will know the same sublime honor that has been the treasure of my life: to be proud to be an American."

Senator, I know you somehow couldn't resist this cheap shot aimed at Michelle Obama, but one thing I've learned through adversity: my pride in being American is tied to our Constitution and to our history, not to the success or failure of any one pandering candidate for the presidency nor to any particular president. I was a proud American when Eisenhower was president; I was a proud American when Nixon was president, when Reagan was president, and when George W. Bush ascended the throne. My pride in being an American had nothing much to do with the personalities and policies of presidents with whom I disagreed fundamentally, nor with presidents I admired and supported neither. Apparently, I'm not supposed to be sublimely proud unless you, John McCain, get to the Oval Office.

The rest of the letter devolves into lies and threats, warnings of dire consequences in 2009. We quote directly:
Senator Obama will surrender to Al Qaeda
Senator Obama will increase the size of the federal government
Senator Obama will raise your taxes
Senator Obama will offer a big government solution to health care coverage
Senator Obama will appoint to the federal bench judges [who are LIBERALS]

And oh, by the way, "I am ready to deliver real reform and lasting change, not just slogans." Which is why I want to make sure you know that Obama is a weak, Muslim-loving, pussy LIBERAL!


Well, good luck with your campaign, Senator, and rest assured that insofar as I believe any of your pitch, my check is in the mail.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

More Early-Voting Stations in Watauga

We hear that there will be a total of five early-voting polling stations in Watauga County come October 16, when North Carolinians can begin casting votes in the general election this fall.

We hear talk that there will be new early-voting stations at the Boone Mall, at the Western Watauga Community Center, and on the Appalachian State University campus, in addition to the two stations that have been used for several election cycles at the Agricultural Conference Center and in the Board of Elections office in the County Courthouse.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Closed Government Is Bad, No Matter Who's Slamming the Door

Open government in Raleigh? Not so much. Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand, a Fayetteville Democrat, barred an N&O reporter from a legislative meeting of budget negotiators from the NC Senate & House with Gov. Easley's chief budget advisor and others.

Rand's explanation for barring the reporter was weak. Lame. An embarrassment.

It's buffalo dust like this that gives the Democratic majority in Raleigh a bad reputation. Deservedly so.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Gifts Required

Madam Foxx's proud hubby has once again sent out a campaign fundraising e-mail masquerading as a "fun" way to wish the Madam a happy 65th birthday. Apparently, this stunt worked well enough when she turned 64 last year that we're treated to a repeat performance. There's a link to a birthday card that you can send the congresswoman, but that's not the key thing. Send money, writes Tom Foxx, to help us maintain the corporatist hegemony in America under the cover of "smaller government."

Mr. Foxx helpfully suggests, "If you can, I ask that you include a special contribution to help Virginia's campaign as a birthday gift -- perhaps $650, ten dollars for each year -- or even just $65."

There are ways of being creepy in modern America that can make you positively starry-eyed about American ingenuity, but political fundraising under color of familial devotion is about as gag-inducing as anything we've seen in, oh, 24 hours or since the last time the Foxx family indulged in it.

Charlotte, Leading in Gas Consumption

Is Charlotte the most Republican city in North Carolina, or what?.

And Asheville surely is the most Democratic. Bumpersticker seen all over the city: "KEEP ASHEVILLE WEIRD."

Green Mecca

Article in this a.m.'s Asheville Citizen-Times about the new trendiness in our western mountains to "build green." A voluntary statewide green building certification program reports that the number of "HealthyBuilt" homes in western NC more than doubled between June 2007 and January 2008. The totals are still low, compared to non-green new building, but there's at least a nascent trend that will accelerate. The number of green homes in progress more than tripled during the same time period.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The High Priest Is Wrathful

Mullah James Dobson is all bent about Barack Obama's presumption in discussing the Bible without permission (because, obviously, an Islamist plotter against all our freedoms has no rights!).

"I think [Obama's] deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology," Dobson said. "He is dragging biblical understanding through the gutter."

Whereas, Dobson should have added, I've merely dragged the Bible through the temples of the money-changers to enable a torturing, lying regime's seizure of power. Nobody talks to God unless he talks to me first.

Monday, June 23, 2008

One of the Good Guys

Dennis Scanlin, honored by the U.S. Department of Energy for his pioneering work and advocacy for wind energy.

He says there are some 50,000 sites in western NC suitable for small-scale wind turbines that could produce enough power for a home or farm. It's an alternative future, and Scanlin has envisioned it. They say you can't get there unless you can imagine what it's like, and Scanlin has done that. He had a major hand in drafting Watauga County's wind turbine ordinance, the first of its kind in the state.

Plus he's just a hell of a nice guy.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Debates at the Beach

Saturday’s opening head-to-head debate between incumbent Sen. Liddy Dole and challenger Kay Hagan during the NC Bar Association's annual meeting at Atlantic Beach produced this welcome description of Hagan, from the indispensible Laura Leslie: "Hagan ... came across as down-to-earth, confident, smart, and most of all scrappy, which she'll need to be to pull this off. She came out swinging and never let up."

We like scrappy.

Dole, on the other hand, in "TV makeup," was "distinctly grande-dame -- dignified, confident, witty, and impeccably prepared."

Leslie scored it a draw.

Gov. candidate Bev Perdue didn't do as well in her debate with Pat McCrory, with the crowd of lawyers seeming to favor McCrory (though some apparently thought McCrory was a bit shallow on detail).

The Burden of the Superrich

A reader (hat-tip: Ann) forwarded to me an essay by Barbara Ehrenreich (of "Nickel and Dimed" fame) that raises some interesting points of discussion about the changing demographics of Watauga County: the superrich and the merely rich are buying up (or "hogging," if you prefer) all the best places in this wide land of ours.

Ehrenreich writes, "We are used to thinking that poverty is a 'social problem' and wealth is only something to celebrate, but extreme wealth is also a social problem, and the superrich have become a burden on everyone else."

We know some of the burdens well -- particularly the soaring tax values of raw mountain land, driven into the stratosphere by megalomanical developments like Laurelmor and the reluctance of builders to build affordable housing when there are much larger bundles to be made on McMansions -- and Ehrenreich is thoughtful on what happens to the service industries that feed, water, and clean up after the filthy (rich), particularly the workers who must travel longer distances in order to merely survive the "privilege."

Who are in those increasingly numerous stretch limos we see on Hwy 105? They're people who've earned the right to stay hidden from the likes of you and me while impacting our futures mightily.

(Incidentally, a local carpenter tells us there's trouble at Laurelmor, and all the work that was supposed to sprout up for local skilled and unskilled labor has so far not sprouted. Could it be that the down-turn in the rest of the economy has actually caught up with the types who could afford a Ginn mountain lot?)

What the Hell's Wrong With Obama?

Let’s see if we can mince our words daintily here: Barack Obama is pissing us off. Majorly.

Oh it’s not his about-face on public financing, though that was where every Republican talking-point started on the Sunday Morning Gasbags. That promise Obama made in 2007 regarding public financing “wasn’t worth the paper it was written on,” sez Sen. Lindsay Graham on “Meet the Press.” (And incidentally, why the Obama campaign would send Gov. Bill Richardson to try to spin the flip-flop positively does not speak well of the campaign’s managerial skills. Richardson was horrible as usual, positively inept, so much so that Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation” laughed out loud at him. “Who are you trying to kid, Governor?” Joe Biden was much better on “Meet the Press,” not trying to deny that Obama’s changed position was a change of position but lecturing the pious Sen. Graham on two realities: if Sen. McCain could raise money from 1,400,000 small donors like Obama has, then Sen. McCain wouldn’t be opting for public financing either, and those 1,400,000 small donors do NOT include special interest PACs and lobbyists.)

Under the circumstances, we would be suspicious of Obama’s grasp of reality if he DIDN’T change his mind about public financing.

No, what’s got us disturbed and distrusting him – yes, DISTRUSTING Obama – is his sudden support for the “compromise deal” to “fix” the federal government's domestic spying powers (the FISA law), with its retroactive telecom immunity and the legislative perfume it sprays all over the pig-patch of the Bush administration’s shredding of the Constitution. Compromise? Sen. Russ Feingold calls the new bill “not a compromise; it is a capitulation.”

Why? Why would Obama do this? (Never mind Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats. We essentially gave up on them months ago, and determined ourselves to be merely pleasantly surprised if and when they ever decide to stand up to El Presidente.) Glenn Greenwald asks the whither Obama question better than I:
It's either that he "chickened out" or ... Obama believes he will be President and wants these extreme powers for himself, no doubt, he believes, because he'll exercise them magnanimously, for our Own Good. Whatever the motives -- and I don't know (or much care) what they are -- Obama has embraced a bill that is not only redolent of many of the excesses of Bush's executive power theories and surveillance state expansions, but worse, has done so by embracing the underlying rationale of "Be-scared-and-give-up-your-rights." Note that the very first line of Obama's statement warns us that we face what he calls "grave threats," and that therefore, we must accept that our Leader needs more unlimited power, and the best we can do is trust that he will use it for our Good.

Whatever. But Republicans who claim to love the Constitution and who profess themselves giddy that they’ve gotten the congressional Democrats to cave on FISA might want to consider these extraordinary spying powers in the hands of a president of the other party. We don’t want them in the hands of a president of EITHER party.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sneaking Bush Into NC

GOP gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory welcomes El Presidente to Raleigh today, but he doesn't want anyone to know Bush is here -- except fat-cat contributors to his campaign. "Big name ... small profile," the N&O observes.

"Not designed to draw attention." But putting a sack over the president's head and rushing him in the servants' entrance will inevitably draw some attention.

Sun Stands Still Today

Today is the summer solstice. At precisely 7:59 p.m. EDT this evening, the tilt of the earth on its axis, which brings the northern hemisphere closest to the sun, will reach its maximum declination, and for that one second the sun will appear to stand still (which is what "solstice" means in Latin).

Our longest day of the year.

Tomorrow will be several seconds shorter, as the northern hemisphere tilts back away from the sun and cranks us inevitably back into winter.

This morning at Stonehenge there was a great gathering to welcome the rising sun, and by setting sun today a midsummer night's dream will have infected neo-Druids everywhere.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Women's Rights & Wrongs in the 2008 Election

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner polling for NARAL Pro-Choice America of 1,788 likely November voters (1,000 representative likely voters plus oversamples of 424 likely-voting Republican women and 364 likely-voting Independent women) shows that (among other things) many women have no idea of John McCain's hard-line on women's rights and that when they learn how anti-choice he is they are much more likely to vote for Obama.

The poll was done in the battleground states of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. With McCain's record on abortion exposed, "Obama gains 6 points overall, with his lead in [these] battleground states expanding from a net 2 points (47-45 percent) to a net 13 points (53-40 percent)."

This will be called "push-polling," especially by people who don't like the results. But the bad push-polling we've all heard about is the kind wherein the poller asks the person answering the phone, "If you knew that John McCain fathered a black child, would you be more or less likely to vote for him?" That was used against McCain in South Carolina by George W. Bush in 2000. At least this poll presented correct information about McCain's consistent position on abortion.

This comes out on the same day that Cindy McCain decides to make a big issue out of Michelle Obama's patriotism. We have a lot of questions about Cindy McCain too, even more since she decided to put her own sterling character in the scales next to Michelle Obama.

What do you suppose Cindy McCain would say -- or do -- if some government flunky told her that her pregnant-out-of-marriage teenage daughter could not have an abortion. She'd do what rich, determined, privileged women always did. While still maintaining the unmitigated snootiness to question other people's patriotism.

Landslide Hazard Mapping Money Cut in Senate Budget

The state program to map landslide hazard areas in the NC mountains is zeroed out in the proposed NC state Senate budget.

Not soon enough, however, to prevent homeowners in two counties -- Franklin and Watauga -- from knowing whether their new McMansions are planted in previous debris flows or on slopes that have been geologically judged as wanting, that is, highly susceptible to sudden and catastrophic land movement.

The maps of landslide hazards in Franklin and Watauga counties, completed under a state program that the Raleigh Senate now wants to kill dead dead DEAD, was greeted locally with the kind of cheer one might associate with being told you've got an untreatable boil on your gluteus maximus. No one, apparently, wants the information. No one wants to be told that he can't trust the ground on which he wants to pile expensive new infrastructure.

It was, of course, the Democratic grandees of the Senate that xed out the money.

The NC House budget maintains the funds for that mapping program. We'll see how the negotiations between House and Senate budget-writers go.

The unwillingness of NC Senators to ruffle the feathers of real estate and building interests by actually scientifically predicting where people and property could likely come to ruin on our steep mountain slopes is very akin to those now pounding the table for oil drilling off our coasts and in the Arctic Wilderness. "We want candy! We want candy now! No one can tell us that CANDY NOW is not good!"

The next hurricane event in these mountains -- and there will be one -- that buries homes and people's lives will lead to recriminations against government. Elected officials will be called to account for (a) refusing to identify the danger or (b) refusing to act on the information once the danger was mapped.

Our NC senatorial budget dictators obviously plan to out-live the catastrophe, just as the oil-suckers plan to out-live the consequences of their addiction.

The love of money is the root of all evil.

NC GOP in Full Whine Mode

How DARE NC Democrats remind people that George W. Bush is a Republican! Why would anyone even care that Sen. Liddy Dole has been a Washington bobblehead for Bush policies? Or that John McCain trips over his own legs trying to line up with El Presidente (most recently on off-shore oil-drilling, which McCain used to oppose).

Because no Republican would ever associate one politician with another to make a political point.

Anti-Immigration "Rally" Goes PFFFT

Here's the huge crowd that showed up for a "stop immigration" rally in Raleigh ... via Mark Binker's "Capital Beat."

Gosh, if you can't even turn out more than 25 people mad about Mexicans in North Carolina, whatta ya gonna do 'bout Obama and the Muslim hoards prepared to turn our schools into madrasahs, our churches into mosques, and our Bibles into wood pulp?

What IS this state coming to?

The NC Senate's Proposed Budget

Very interesting thread called "Dear Senator Hagan" over at BlueNC, and if you want to educate yourself a little about the NC Senate's proposed budget, its implications and the roles of Kay Hagan and Walter Dalton in the making of it, and how it's a document that might seem to give political cover to the reelection of Sen. Liddy Dole, against whom Kay Hagan is supposed to be running, and the morality of children's health insurance specifically, on which topic do NOT miss Dan Besse's several comments in the thread ... then you should read it fer shur.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Mighty Wind Coming

'Bout time somebody stated the obvious about the future of wind power in the NC mountains:
"There is an opportunity to install wind [power] in the mountains. We want a clear policy made so wind developers can know where to go and what is off limits. The problem right now is that things are so unclear that there's very little effort for wind development anywhere." -- John D. Wilson, research director, "Cornerstones: Building a Secure Foundation for North Carolina's Energy Future," interviewed in the Watauga Democrat

We need to get on with it!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Is Anybody Home?

Is Kay Hagan planning to run a campaign against Liddy Dole? Or not?

Dole runs TV spots creating the mirage that she's actually a North Carolinian, and her approval numbers go up. Meanwhile, we get only silence from Hagan.

Plus we heard a few days ago that Hagan wanted to follow the Bev Perdue primary pledge of running only a "positive campaign." Yikes.

Hagan said way back that she didn't want to run for the U.S. Senate. Guess she meant it.

NC GOP to Paularoids: Get Lost

The icy reception of Ron Paul supporters at the state GOP convention breaks out into the mainstream press today, just as candidate Paul also announces (1) he's dropping out of the race and (2) he won't be endorsing Whatisname for president and (3) he'll in fact be holding a rival rally in Minneapolis at the same time the Republicans are holding their convention in St. Paul.

The most galling maneuver by the state GOP chairwoman is that she apparently hand-picked the two North Carolina Paul delegates that were allowed, and they're NOT Paul supporters.

The New Face of the Southern Baptists

The Southern Baptist Convention, meeting this week in Indianapolis, elected Johnny Hunt as its new president. He's pastor of a suburban Atlanta mega-church. He's closely identified with the "fundamentalist" wing of the church. And he also happens to be a Lumbee, which is fairly significant for the world's largest Protestant denomination with the world's sorriest record on acknowledging the national legacy of slavery.

According to Christianity Today, Pastor Hunt is also a leading opponent of Calvinism. Calvinism? Yep. Apparently there's a flaming out-break of predestinationism, right here in River City.

The comment string on the Christianity Today article linked above contains this exchange:

Poster: Jesus died because he was a conservative.

Counter-Poster: No, Jesus died because he was a liberal.

Other Voice: Jesus was not only a liberal. He was a radical liberal.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bloc of Republican Congressmen Won't Endorse McCain

On the list of those openly withholding their endorsement is NC's Walter "Freedom Fries" Jones, who's not with McCain on the Iraq War (which means he's not much with McCain).

"Jones ... said he can't back McCain until he gets 'a better explanation of the plans for Iraq and more discussion on the economy.' Jones added that no one from McCain's campaign has reached out to him."

Another NC congresscritter, Sue Myrick, refused to say whether she endorses McCain.

Apparently Madam Foxx, who early on endorsed Romney, has obediently saluted the McCain candidacy. It's not like the Madam to buck the bosses.

Art of the Smear

The Obama campaign fights back in a surprising, totally up-front, frank and holistic way.

Not that it will make any difference to the people who love them some Faux News. Or for those who know how to hit 'Forward,' especially for the crud that flatters their own prejudices.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

When Crying "Liberal!" Just Isn't Enough

Lee Teague, Mecklenburg County's GOP chairman, has volunteered some interesting political wisdom for 2008:

Teague says, "This shouting Liberal! Liberal! Liberal! stuff is not going to work this year." Teague calls it a mistake for Republicans to "nationalize" this year's election by linking local candidates to Washington "liberal" politicians. "You nationalize an election when your party is popular in national polls, not when it's unpopular," Teague said. Bush's approval is under 30 percent in many polls. "We've got to win the voters back again."

What prompted such honest talk from the chair of the Mecklenburg County Republican Party? Patrick McHenry, 10th Dist. Congressman, that's who. McHenry had just issued a press release calling Daniel Johnson, his Democratic opponent this fall, a hand-picked Pelosi Democrat, yadda yadda yadda. Which peeved Teague no end. So he sent an e-mail to a reporter.

The resulting story that the journalist wrote also includes pretty interesting quotes from other Republican big-wigs, all pretty much agreeing with Teague.

An NC Republican for Obama

At Barack Obama's kick-off campaign event in Raleigh on Monday, the only other speaker was an unemployed nurse from Pittsboro, Pamella Cash-Roper, who highlighted what seven years of George W. Bush trickle-down economics have meant for blue-collar, pink-collar, and lower middle-class workers. The main message: Don't even think about getting sick in George Bush's America. (Details of Pamella Roper-Cash's remarks from

Both Pamella, 54, and her husband Keith Cash, 58, who was an electrical technician at WakeMed, developed heart disease. Keith first. He needed heart surgery in 2000 and couldn't work. He lost his job and hence their company-paid health benefits; and though federal law guaranteed him extended health insurance for 18 months, they couldn't afford the $600 a month insurance payments on top of the $1,800 a month for his prescriptions.

Meanwhile, they were dropped by their disability insurance carrier, a decision they continue to dispute, so far, unsuccessfully. So they sold their house, moved to a smaller one and went without health insurance for two years until he became eligible for Medicare as a Social Security disability recipient.

Pamella continued to work as a home-health nurse/aide until 2005 when she, too, needed bypass surgery and also turned to disability payments.

Today, she said, the two live on combined disability payments of $1,164 a month. Each takes about 15 kinds of medicine paid for by a state prescription-subsidy plan enacted during the Easley administration and paid for from tobacco-settlement funds funneled through the Health & Wellness Trust Fund.

It cuts their costs to between $2 and $4 a month for each prescription, she said. "If that had not been implemented," she said, "we'd probably both be dead."

Pamella told NPR's "Morning Edition" "We were lower middle-class. Now we're not even lower middle-class, I'm as low as it can get. When the price of milk and the price of gas are almost the same, we need to start looking at something."

Pamella Cash-Roper is a Republican and Will Vote for Obama

Apparently, that particular headline caused the NCGOP a little heartburn. First, the state party chair apparently tried to deny that she was even a Republican. She is. I've been gazing at her voter registration on the state Board of Elections website. Her husband Keith is registered Unaffiliated.

Look for the Obama campaign to use more Republicans in this way and for local and state Republican Party apparatuses to stamp their feet indignantly.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Breaking the Debate Stranglehold

Hat-tip to KW for forwarding this op-ed from the Richmond Times-Dispatch yesterday ... cheerleading for Obama to agree to some form of the town-hall debates that John McCain has proposed.

We completely agree.

Anything to break out of the network TV-imposed format of media-star news-readers hurling questions as if they were bombs:
...the current presidential debate system is broken. The problem is that the authority in charge, the Commission on Presidential Debates, is beholden to the political parties and mainstream commercial television interests. This skewed situation where the foxes (corporate and political elite) guard the deliberative henhouse has a track record of producing dueling monologue formats, vapid exchanges, and circumscribed citizen involvement.

Now, we didn't fall off the turnip truck yesterday, or at least we didn't fall on our heads, so we know that the McCain campaign wouldn't be proposing these town-hall encounters unless they figgered ole John had the advantage in that type environment. On behalf of Barack, who didn't ask us, we say, "Bring it on!" Any face-to-face of these two candidates on the same stage, talking issues, is a consummation devoutly to be wished.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Howard Dean's 50-State Strategy Finds a Champion

ALL 50 states, goldarn it! Starting with North Carolina tomorrow.

This we like!

'Don't Demonize Obama," Says Huckabee

Failed Republican presidential nominee Mike Huckabee told North Carolina Republicans at their state convention yesterday that they need to recognize the historic accomplishment of Barack Obama and to steer around any urge to "demonize" him. That would seriously misfire, Huckabee warned them. (Much more detail on Huckabee's speech here.)

I know a Republican woman who worked tirelessly for Ronald Reagan in the NC primary of 1976, who voted for Huckabee in the primary this year, and who now says she'll vote for Barack Obama, "unless he picks Hillary Clinton for vice president. Or Jim Webb."

Going from Huckabee to Obama might not make any sense to you, and I won't even try to explain that straddle ('cause I wouldn't exactly know where to start, either), but I'm impressed by her new outspoken passion for Obama (without entirely understanding it). She's going on 80 years old and hasn't voted for a Democrat in decades. She told us that she watched Obama's victory speech last Tuesday night and stood up out of bed and applauded when he finished ... all by herself in an empty house.

An in-law of hers has been e-mailing her the Obama-is-a-secret-Muslim-agent messages, and she's asked that the forwarding stop. "It's all lies, and I don't appreciate lying."

She's exactly what the Republican Party has worried about all along with Obama as the presidential nominee ... that he is going to be attractive to a wide (and surprising) range of registered Republicans. (Unless, of course, he chooses Hillary or Jim Webb as his running mate.)

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Barack & Hillary Sittin' in a Tree, K.I.S.S.I.N.G

The endorsement, strong and unequivocal. Video here (and a lot of other places too), with discussion, etc.

Barack signals that North Carolina is in play by coming back to the state this coming Monday to an invitation-only event at the State Fair grounds in Raleigh.

Gettin' it on!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Saying No to Unjust Presidential Power

Recently hearing Karl Campbell discuss his new biography of Senator Sam Ervin, we were struck by how far we've traveled as a nation from the old senator's fierce defense of the U.S. Constitution against illegal presidential power-grabbing.

We've seen unprecedented expansions of unconstitutional presidential power under George W. Bush, and we've had no senator like Sam Ervin to say "Nossir, you won't!" Let's see, for starters we've got unaccountable secret snooping, extraordinary rendition and torture, signing statements that declare the presidency above the law, impenetrable secrecy and claims of executive privilege that are covering all sorts of abuses of power. And those are just the tips of the icebergs sticking above the waterline of the Bush administration.

John McCain is saying he agrees with all of it and wants to maintain and cultivate this appalling weed-patch.

McCain is the guy disgruntled Clintonistas say they'll vote for? Seriously?

Worse in some ways are the quiet signals McCain has sent about his plans for the Supreme Court. On May 6th, while all of us were distracted by the North Carolina primary win of Barack Obama, McCain was actually in our state, at Wake-Forest University, delivering a little-noticed speech on his "judicial philosophy."

McCain started by praising the wisdom of our Founders for installing the concept of the separation of powers in the Constitution but then warned about a huge but covert threat to that principle -- NOT the Bush administration's seizing of new executive powers but the supposed threat of "judicial activism."

Jeffrey Toobin has an analysis of this "dog whistle for the right," concluding that McCain is promising "that he will appoint Justices who will eliminate the right to privacy, permit states to ban abortion, and allow the execution of teen-agers":
"The Senator has long touted his opposition to Roe [v. Wade], and has voted for every one of Bush's judicial appointments; the rhetoric of his [Wake-Forest] speech shows that he is getting his advice on the Court from the most extreme elements of the conservative movement. With the general election in mind, McCain had to express himself with such elaborate circumlocution because he knows that the constituency for such far-reaching change in our constellation of rights is small, and may be shrinking. In 2004, to stoke turnout among conservatives, Karl Rove engineered the addition of anti-gay-marriage voter initiatives to the ballots in Ohio and other states; last week, though, when the California Supreme Court voted to allow gay marriage in that state, only hard-core activists were able to muster much outrage. When it comes to the Constitution, McCain is on the wrong side of the voters, and of history; thus, his obfuscations."

Bush has been bad enough ... giving Alito and Roberts as props to Scalia and Thomas ... and McCain would continue and intensify the assault on civil liberties and women's rights.

This is the man disgruntled Clintonistas will vote for? How far are you willing to go to parade your pique?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Pat McCrory Using/Hiding George W. Bush

El Presidente is coming to N.C. July 20th to do a "high-dollar fundraiser" for Republican Guv candidate Pat McCrory, but lest anyone actually see McCrory with the wildly unpopular president, the fundraiser is being held at the private home of a real estate mogul. Birds of a feather.

McCrory has already received one rebuke from a Charlotte conservative blogger for this bit of scheduling. Can the Perdue campaign be far behind?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Richard Burr, Moral Midget

Thanks for Brother Doc for pointing out our Senator Burr's involvement in a rancid little piece of Senate puritanism. Burr is one of a mean gang of seven Republican senators who've used a parliamentary maneuver preventing action on the reauthorization of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

It took a special person to denounce Burr and his fellow senators, but not a flaming liberal or even an HIV activist. No, it's Michael Gerson who points the finger at Burr, Gerson, who was a loyal Bushie from 2000 to 2006, writing speeches and giving advice on domestic policy.

Gerson says, "It is the nature of the Senate that the smallest of minorities can impede the work of the majority. But it takes a conscious choice -- an act of tremendous will and pride -- for members to employ these powers against an AIDS bill with overwhelming bipartisan support."

"Rigid, stingy and indifferent to human suffering." Those are the adjectives Gerson uses to describe Burr & his comrades and their perversion of "conservative values."

So much for the Mr.-Nice-Guy image that Burr likes to cultivate. Turns out, he's just a dick.

'Christianity Today' Praises Obama

...but NOT for what you think. Writer Brad Greenberg praises Obama for NOT "selling his presidential bid as one ordained by God," like a certain notorious W so famously did. Greenberg: "Religion to Obama seems to be something you practice, the way to communicate with God, even if you can't easily explain it to others. And that ... is quite refreshing."

McCain: "Legendarily Awful"

"[McCain] finds it impossible to pretend he's actually thinking what he's saying. But this whole speech is defensive in character (explaining why he's not running for Bush's third term), awkward and just feels old. The slogan seems to be: Am Not McSame!"

--Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo

Maybe McCain's edumacational chickens are finally coming home to roost: he graduated from Annapolis ranked 894th out of 899 "middies" at the U.S. Naval Academy. That's a level of accomplishment that certainly would appear to mesh well with the stupendous incompetence represented by El Presidente, the man whose policies McCain intends to "perfect."

Obama spoke directly last night to the promises McCain offers America:
...John McCain, a man who has served this country heroically. I honor that service, and I respect his many accomplishments, even if he chooses to deny mine. My differences with him are not personal; they are with the policies he has proposed in this campaign.

Because while John McCain can legitimately tout moments of independence from his party in the past, such independence has not been the hallmark of his presidential campaign.

It's not change when John McCain decided to stand with George Bush 95 percent of the time, as he did in the Senate last year.

It's not change when he offers four more years of Bush economic policies that have failed to create well-paying jobs, or insure our workers, or help Americans afford the skyrocketing cost of college — policies that have lowered the real incomes of the average American family, widened the gap between Wall Street and Main Street, and left our children with a mountain of debt.

And it's not change when he promises to continue a policy in Iraq that asks everything of our brave men and women in uniform and nothing of Iraqi politicians — a policy where all we look for are reasons to stay in Iraq, while we spend billions of dollars a month on a war that isn't making the American people any safer.

So I'll say this — there are many words to describe John McCain's attempt to pass off his embrace of George Bush's policies as bipartisan and new. But change is not one of them.


Hell of a speech. Not just the delivery. The words:
There are those who say that this primary has somehow left us weaker and more divided. Well I say that because of this primary, there are millions of Americans who have cast their ballot for the very first time. There are Independents and Republicans who understand that this election isn't just about the party in charge of Washington, it's about the need to change Washington. There are young people, and African-Americans, and Latinos, and women of all ages who have voted in numbers that have broken records and inspired a nation....

Change is realizing that meeting today's threats requires not just our firepower, but the power of our diplomacy – tough, direct diplomacy where the President of the United States isn't afraid to let any petty dictator know where America stands and what we stand for. We must once again have the courage and conviction to lead the free world. That is the legacy of Roosevelt, and Truman, and Kennedy. That's what the American people want. That's what change is.

Change is building an economy that rewards not just wealth, but the work and workers who created it. It's understanding that the struggles facing working families can't be solved by spending billions of dollars on more tax breaks for big corporations and wealthy CEOs, but by giving a the middle-class a tax break, and investing in our crumbling infrastructure, and transforming how we use energy, and improving our schools, and renewing our commitment to science and innovation. It's understanding that fiscal responsibility and shared prosperity can go hand-in-hand, as they did when Bill Clinton was President.

...what you don't deserve is another election that's governed by fear, and innuendo, and division. What you won't hear from this campaign or this party is the kind of politics that uses religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon – that sees our opponents not as competitors to challenge, but enemies to demonize. Because we may call ourselves Democrats and Republicans, but we are Americans first. We are always Americans first....

In our country, I have found that this cooperation happens not because we agree on everything, but because behind all the labels and false divisions and categories that define us; beyond all the petty bickering and point-scoring in Washington, Americans are a decent, generous, compassionate people, united by common challenges and common hopes. And every so often, there are moments which call on that fundamental goodness to make this country great again.

The whole text is here. No time right now to go into what he said about John McCain ... not now, but soon.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Trouble With Washington

In an interview with the Hickory Daily Record, NC-10 Congressman Patrick McHenry said the trouble with Washington is NOT the lying by administration spokesmen, nor the manipulation of "facts" via a complacent and cowed news media, but the writing of books ADMITTING that lying and manipulation went on.

The Scott McClellan book "is an example of what is wrong in Washington."


Monday, June 02, 2008

The Barr Effect

Public Policy Polling is tracking the presidential race in N.C. now with Bob Barr factored in. Make up your own mind what it all means. But one thing appears crystal clear: Barr ain't helping John McSame.

Younger Evangelicals Turned Off by the Culture Wars

In this a.m.'s NYTimes appears one of those periodic "trend" articles that can fairly take one's breath away with sweeping generalizations and anecdotal evidence. Fascinating read, but I'm just saying.

If this movement among young believers actually exists, it's marked by some stark differences with their elders:

1. They reject identification with "the religious right" (the goal of the church is not politics, they say)

2. "They are tired of the culture wars"

3. They are focused on service and good works, particularly related to the environment, the poor, immigrant communities, and helping people with H.I.V.

4. Being "evangelical" shouldn't "automatically mean that you are against stem cell research or [will be] voting for McCain"

5. They believe in taking the light of Christ into the world, not retreating from it into "holy huddles" of like-minded people who never challenge the status quo