Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hang Dog

Sen. Ben Nelson gets no Blue Dog love in Nebraska. How tragic, how sad, how well deserved.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Foxx's Hatred of Obama Hurts the 5th District of N.C.

Rep. Virginia Foxx's vote against the "Jobs for Main Street Act" was her last official act before leaving Washington to return to Watauga County for Christmas. It was more than just a vote against seeing President Obama succeed in any measure in turning around the Bush economic downtown. It was a vote against the people of her own district.

The bill in question, which passed the House without a single Republican vote, included money to extend unemployment benefits another six months, aid to help local communities retain teachers and firefighters, and money for public works projects.

Madam Foxx is much more dedicated to saying "NO!" to anything the Obama administration proposes for getting us out of the economic trainwreck that Bush caused than she is to helping her own constituents, and she actively depends on a non-existent or compliant news network in the 5th District to get away with it.

Few people seem to know how she votes in Washington or how those votes hurt our local communities.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Burr Wrapping Himself in the Bush Era

News that Karl Rove will do a fundraiser for Sen. Dick Burr in Raleigh in January produces a shiver of recognition: This IS, after all, a senator shaped by, made by "the awful aughts," and we certainly needed to be reminded of the massive failures of that whole crew.

The Burr "optics" are most curious but very revealing: nothing of solutions, nothing of a vision for the future, but just the same old same old, a discredited past and a nasty politics. Abysmal symbols for a lackluster public official.

Rove, incidentally, will be shaking his money-maker for Burr fresh off his second divorce. He's sure to stress family values!

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Private Fun and Public Profit of Rotgut

What would you suppose would be the top-selling booze here in the heart of the Bible Belt?

Think about it for two minutes and you're bound to hit on Vodka.

Makes sense, no? The folklore is that Vodka does not leave a telltale odor on one's breath, so your fellow church-goers need never know.

Fact is, 80-proof Aristocrat Supreme Vodka, distilled (incidentally) in Bardstown, Ky., is the top-selling liquor in North Carolina's state-run ABC stores. It costs the state of North Carolina less than 50 cents a fifth, by the way, and the ABC store price is $5.67 a bottle (cheap! but a steep mark-up nevertheless).

Sunday, December 27, 2009


"Abstinence only" indoctrination for American teenagers has proven to be mightily productive of unplanned pregnancies and not much else, except pious posturing by conservatives who say they want government out of our lives except when it comes to teenager indoctrination. Yet abstinence only proponents are hoping that any new health reform legislation will empower their stupidity with more government money.

According to the WashPost, "The health-care reform legislation pending in the Senate includes $50 million for programs that states could use to try to reduce pregnancies and sexually transmitted disease among adolescents by teaching to them to delay when they start having sex," even though the budget signed by President Barack Obama earlier this year zeroed out such funding as hilariously ineffective.

Some powerful senator or group of powerful senators managed to squeeze $50 million back into the conservative trough, and if we know Obama the Great Compromiser, he'll go along with it.

Albert Einstein called it insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Well Okay Then

Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) sez that the watered-down Insurance Conglomerate Protection Act of 2009/2010 is just all right with her, including the bribes paid to Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and others not yet disclosed.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Oh, That Smell!

...of lobbyist cash, that is.

Sen. Dick Burr, topping the list for fundraising parties and the predictable flocking of like-feathered lobbyists who want to stuff money up his ever-lovin' patootie.

Nothing like corporatocracy and cocktails, eh, Senator?

Unfortunately, any number of Democratic Senators are also dog-paddling in those same Martinis.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Insurgent Tea-Partier Opposes Foxx

Brad Smith, the Wilkes County disaffected Republican who is trying to gather some 17,000 signatures on a petition to get himself on the fall ballot as an independent candidate opposing Madam Virginia Foxx, made the front page of the Winston-Salem Journal today. He has a website and a page that allows you to print a copy of his petition specific for your county.

Congresswoman Foxx was unavailable for comment.

Holding her breath and hoping Mr. Smith goes away?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Obama Losing His Base

It's his fault. It's President Obama's fault. What ... he thought he could rev up a coalition that wanted real reform and then betray it with a sell-out to corporate money and to Joe Lieberman? Apparently, he and his advisors naively thought that everyone would just fall right into step behind The Insurance Company Bail-Out Act of 2009, that his fans would accept any bill rather than a good one.

The web-based Obama troops, 13,000,000 of us on the Organizing for America (OFA) listserv, received e-mails on Wednesday, asking us to phonebank our senators to support the Joe Lieberman version of health insurance reform. We contacted Kay Hagan, all right, but not to urge her to support that piece of garbage. Politico sez the revolt is widespread and going viral:
One leading OFA volunteer in Florida blasted an email to a statewide listserv urging activists to "just say no" to the phone-banking effort -- uncorking a torrent of frustration from Florida Democrats -- while some OFA subscribers replied directly to the call-to-action email with angry messages and others asked to be removed from the list entirely.

Dave Hearn, an optician in Iowa who helped organize for Obama's campaign said that the president "is taking for granted that the volunteers who worked so hard for him were going to buy in to whatever strategy he chose to pass his major legislative initiative .... What am I going to say: 'I hate this bill, but we're Obama people, so let's do it?' "

That ain't working. Ain't working on any number of levels, and it's Obama fault for not fighting for what he said he wanted, both during the campaign and right regularly since he took office.

"If this bill passes, it will be because Joe Lieberman threw a hissy fit and was allowed to control what went into the bill," said Susan Smith, an OFA activist from Tampa. "That means that in the end, he had more power with President Obama and Senator Reid than we do. If he is rewarded, this tactic will be used over and over again to kill the progressive agenda."

Susan's got it right. Obama's got it wrong. It remains to be seen if this president can be a leader and a reformer or merely a jet-setting speech-maker.

Clamming Up

Here's a headline you don't want to see if you're a governor, or an ex-governor:
Easley aide takes the Fifth

The Easley aide of the headline also loses his job at the fancy Raleigh law firm where Easley himself is still employed. The N&O has the story.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

MeckCo Official Calls Colleague's Dead Son "A Homo"

Meet Bill James, Republican County Commissioner in Mecklenburg. He's a dick.

Tuesday night during a County Commission meeting in which a majority of commissioners agreed to offer domestic-partner benefits to county workers in same-sex relationships starting in 2011, Commissioner Vilma Leake spoke about her own son's death from AIDs, following which Commissioner James leaned over to Commissioner Leake and asked: "Your son was a homo, really?"

Leake responded: "You're going to make me hurt you. Don't do that to me. Don't talk about my son."

Yesterday Mecklenburg County Commission Chair Jennifer Roberts said that James should apologize for using the slur to a fellow commissioner.

Ever the jerk, Commissioner James has refused to apologize.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Larry Kissell's Possible Primary Opponent

Larry Kissell, the first-term Democrat representing the NC-8, voted against the health insurance bill which the U.S. House passed and which is several light years better than the hardened turd favored by Joe Lieberman and Barack Obama in the Senate.

Kissell has been in trouble with his Democratic base in the NC-8 ever since.

There's a movement to recruit lawyer Chris Koury to run against Kissell in the 2010 primary, and no less than the chair of the Mecklenburg Democrats is cheering Koury on.

There's going to be a lot more of this sort of primary activity if the Democrats in the U.S. Senate get their way with what they are currently proposing as "reform" of health insurance.

Faith Healing

Trying to find some relief from marinating our noggins in the corporatocracy of Washington, D.C., and the craven Democratic Senate, and trying to avoid the growing thought that Democrats are no more capable of reform than the goddamned party of Virginia Foxx, I turn for relief to the obituary of Oral Roberts, the self-aggrandizing faith-healer of yore who died yesterday at the age of 91.

When I was growing up a rawboned teenager in West Texas, the TV in our house was tuned to Oral Roberts every Sunday afternoon. My mother totally gulped that particular display of righteousness, and so did I, wishing to please my mother and, naturally, the Lord.

"Be healed!" he shouted at men and women and little children, holding them firmly by the shoulders and then striking their foreheads with his open palm. Many fell backward, dazed by the power of God or of man and suggestion, into the waiting arms of two strong men strategically positioned for that purpose.

My mother totally believed. So did I, mainly, though there was maybe an occasional wee shadow of a doubt that crept through my synapses even at that age. I had been trained to recognize doubt as the voice of Satan, nothing less. But seeing the man on crutches have his crutches confiscated after being smote on the forehead by the Reverend Roberts, yet still require the strong assistance of those two evangelistic side-men to get back off the stage, could make even a devout 14-year-old risk eternal damnation and say, "Hey, wait a minute."

Well, Oral Roberts, your version of health care is gonna be more in demand, if the Democratic Senate (a.k.a., the for-profit Insurance Industry) has its way, and equally effective, most like.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Eff Them All

The effing Senate Democrats, at the behest of effing Rahm Emanuel, are producing an effing DISASTER of a so-called reform of health insurance, while making effing Joe Lieberman the Supreme Dictator of its contents, which puts us in the effing awkward position of having to applaud the inevitable NO vote that effing Madam Virginia Foxx will cast against whatever piece of shit finally emerges from the combination of the House and Senate bills, because, probably, the effing House Democrats will capitulate too.

Democrats Determined to Self-Destruct

Mr. Rahm Emanuel, representing the wishes of Mr. Barack Obama, ordered Sen. Harry Reid to kiss Sen. Joe Lieberman's ass yesterday, and Sen. Reid obediently got on his knees.

From all appearances, there will be no health insurance reform that means squat. Plus, from all appearances, Mr. Emanuel and Mr. Obama are intent on losing their majorities in both houses of Congress next year, because (hey!) the profits of Big Insurance Companies come first.

For his part, Sen. Lieberman is going to need more compass to strut:
Mr. Lieberman could not be happier. He is right where he wants to be -- at the center of the political aisle, the center of the Democrats' efforts to win 60 votes for their sweeping health care legislation. For the moment, he is at the center of everything -- and he loves it.

"My wife said to me, 'Why do you always end up being the point person here?' " he said, flashing a broad grin in an interview on Monday.

Sen. Lieberman is a post turtle who thinks God put him up there. We all know it was Rahm Emanuel.

Monday, December 14, 2009

This Just In

POLITICO Breaking News:

"The White House is encouraging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to cut a deal with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), which would mean eliminating the proposed Medicare expansion in the health reform bill, according to an official close to the negotiations. Lieberman threw health care reform into doubt Sunday when he told Reid that he would filibuster the bill if it allowed Americans ages 55 to 64 to purchase coverage in Medicare."

Oh Jeez.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Future of the N.C. Senate

The two most powerful Democrats in the N.C. Senate already departing the premises ... Tony Rand and David Hoyle. Speculation now burning bright about arguably the most powerful Democrat in all of state government, Marc Basnight, president pro tempore of that chamber.

Lengthy article in today's Washington Daily News RE Basnight's health and the prospects of his running again next year.


Newest U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham sez he applauds Obama's Afghanistan surge. Rival U.S. Senate candidate Elaine Marshall, not. Elaine Marshall supports a public option reform for health insurance. Cal Cunningham, not so much, deigning to admit only that he'd vote to let debate go forward.


Those are some clear distinctions in the upcoming N.C. Dem primary, differences that don't in our mind tilt in Cunningham's favor.

In fact, Campaign Diaries is driven to perhaps the unkindest comparison one could make at this time: Is Cal Cunningham shaping himself to be North Carolina's Creigh Deeds, the recently defeated Dem candidate for governor of Virginia, who failed miserably to ignite his own base?

Thanks to the heavy thumb of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Cal Cunningham today looks less like an attractive insurgent than like the good ole boys' boy.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Per the Watauga Democrat: "Mike Steinback, chairman of the [Appalachian State University Board of Trustees'] business affairs committee cited the current economic climate and uncertain state funding levels as reasons for" ... For what? Wait for it ... for raising tuition and fees the maximum allowable amount in the 2010-2011 term.

This makes sense? "The current economic climate" is so dismal that ASU finds it advisable to raise tuition 6.5 percent on the very people suffering from that climate?

The tuition increase is nothing compared to the proposed gouging on fees: "The trustees also want to increase fees by $350 per year." Ouch.

This bizarre policy still has to pass the University system's Board of Governors, so maybe Jim Deal can offer some different perspective.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Elaine Marshall on Afghanistan Surge

Elaine Marshall, one of three Democrats announced who say they're running in the 2010 Democratic primary to challenge Sen. Dick Burr, issued a statement on President Obama's decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan:
I acknowledge that there are no easy answers in Afghanistan and I respect the time and consideration that the President took in making his decision. However, I disagree that now is the time to commit 30,000 additional men and women to prop up a corrupt government that has shown no real effort to reform itself. The mission that we are about to undertake has too much to do with building a nation that has not had a stable or responsible government in decades and too little to do with keeping us safe at home.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

We Rebuke Thee, O Sinner!

Impeach him for the highly public tickling of the fat potato-finger of lust? Not so much.

Instead, "the special [S.C.] House impeachment panel approved an official rebuke of Sanford for bringing 'ridicule, dishonor, disgrace and shame' on South Carolina, its citizens and the governor's office."

A sternly worded scolding.

Not that anyone will ever notice the glaring inconsistency, that the censure route was not judged to be nearly severe enough for that ole randy goat Bill Clinton. It's just hard to cut your own livestock from the herd, right guys?

Virginia Foxx: 'Let's Talk About Character!'

Talking Points Memo picks up on some spilled acid from Madam Foxx's recent interview with the Winston-Salem Journal. Democrats have no ideas, sez she, so they talk about character, including, we assume, hers.

Okay. We'll go for that.

Her behavior at the buffet line of life reveals a good deal about character: "All for me, none for you."

That attitude of shoveling everything that's not nailed down into her over-sized pockets and purse and big cloth shoulder bag -- while sneering at everyone else's prospects of getting just a taste from the food bar -- extends itself to her attitude toward health insurance reform: She's got hers, both Medicare and a very generous government health-care plan. But none for you, suckas!

Her line: "There are no Americans who don't have healthcare. Everybody in this country has access to healthcare" (July 24, 2009, in a Capitol Hill press conference).

The woman has been on the government payroll -- local, state, federal -- most of her grown-up life and has not been shy at taking advantage. One might say that guv'mint has been veryvery good to her. Meanwhile, she lectures everyone else sternly: "Getting gouged by predatory credit card interest rates? It's your own fault. Get a different credit card!"

Or this, one of my all-time favorite Foxx quotes: "The worst thing we can do is to get government involved in solving problems" (September 16, 2003, in the NC state Senate's special session on medical malpractice lawsuit reform). That's Foxx in a nutshell: All for me, none for you.

Sez she, "Don't have health insurance, you lazy bum! Go to the Emergency Room, and maybe they'll take care of you. Or put out a collection jar at Smoky Mountain Barbecue. Maybe you'll raise the half-million in $$ you'll need for treatment, a nickel or dime at a time."

That's character, Virginia Foxx-style.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Nailing It on the Churchhouse Door

Pretty impressive manifesto posted over at BlueNC today about the 2010 campaigns which are looming like summer thunderheads, a very bold calling out of the politics and politicos of the Democratic Party's past. We applaud it, and we plan to think about these things ... HARD.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

How the Republicans Play in Wake County

The Republican take-over of the Wake County school board has already been chronicled.

Now add the Wake County Commission, where one Democrat is sick (and hence absent) from the 4-3 Democratic majority, and another commissioner had to go to the bathroom, so in her absence down the hall in the crapper (so to speak) the Republican commissioners elected one of their own as chair.

Maybe you'd better read about it for yourself. Wasn't this the plot of a bad Dick Van Dyke comedy in 1967?

Who Knew the NC Constitution Was Such a Dick!

The US Constitution, Amendment 1: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

The NC Constitution, Article 6 Sec. 8: "The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God."

On the basis of the N.C. document (while ignoring the U.S. one), there's a group in Asheville trying to deny recently elected Asheville city councilman Cecil Bothwell his seat on the council because he once wrote a book critical of evangelist Billy Graham.

Plus this, in the Asheville Citizen-Times article: "Bothwell labels himself an atheist on his MySpace page, though he wrote in an online post last week on fellow incoming councilman Gordon Smith's blog, Scrutiny Hooligans, that he prefers the term 'post-theist.' Bothwell added: 'I don't deny the being of Almighty God; I simply consider the question of denial or acceptance irrelevant." (But soooo what?)

Some are threatening a law suit ... but against whom? Sue Cecil Bothwell, because he doesn't toe the theocratic line? Or sue the City of Asheville for swearing in an (okay, let's go for it!) atheist?

Good luck on that prospect! But, really, go ahead and sue and let's get this stupid line stuck down in our state constitution.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Cal Cunningham Is In

Cal Cunningham is announcing this a.m. that he'll be formally entering the Democratic primary race to challenge Sen. Dick Burr on the ballot next year.

He's got an announcement video up here.

McCrory Slams Door on Future with the NCGOP

Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, making his exit today from 14 years of incumbency, shreds the Eleventh Commandment for Republicans, which is to say, he speaks ill of some fellow GOPers.

As in ... Sarah Palin is an obvious bobblehead and the national Republican Party has begun to feel like acid reflux. Not in those exact words, but still.

When and if he decides to reenter politics, the right-wing of his party (which is to say, his party) is going to make him eat those words.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Burr: Senator or Sock Puppet?

Sen. Dick Burr has taken $274,586 in campaign contributions from the health insurance industry throughout his career, which certainly helps explain his dependable shilling for the health insurance industry in trying to defeat health insurance reforms in the U.S. Senate:
* In an interview with Fox News in September, Sen. Burr claimed that "no plan, currently considered or passed, in either the House or the Senate," extends coverage to all Americans. However, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that House bill would cover 97 percent of Americans. [North Carolina Policy Watch, September 30, 2009]

* In a November radio interview with radio host Bill LuMaye, Sen. Burr said about the House bill, "It doesn't have reforms in it. The only reform that's really there is that we do away with preexisting conditions." In truth, however, the bill contains numerous other insurance reforms, including caps on out of pocket expenses and lifetime limits, as well as market accountability through health insurance exchanges. [North Carolina Policy Watch, November 17, 2009]

Thanks to Public Campaign Action Fund for blowing this particular whistle.

Republicans Have Them a Celeb To Run Against Kissell

Well known and now retired Charlotte sportscaster Harold Johnson sez he's just the empty suit to take on Larry Kissell in the NC-8.

Johnson's got the time. Johnson's got the hair. Johnson's got the smile. He's THE PERFECT Republican, all hat and no cattle.

Now, Kissell's got his own problems these days with his base, but he's also got time to make some repairs to those bridges.

And Johnson, a teleprompter-reading celebrity in the rah-rah sports arena, might be our choice for an opponent, if we were running the Kissell reelection campaign. Anyone remember famous race-car driver Richard Petty's run against Elaine Marshall in 1996? It actually takes a little more than (totally unqualified) TV notoriety to get into office.

Inadvertently lost the link to the Jim Morrill story in today's Charlotte Observer.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Piles of Toxic Coal Ash Near You

Bruce Henderson digs into Duke Energy's dirty legacy of coal ash deposits across North Carolina in today's Charlotte Observer ... which evokes certain memories of the Christmas TVA coal ash spill on the Tennessee River last year.

Coal ash is known to be full of arsenic, mercury, and a dozen other ingredients fit for a witch's brew, and Duke Energy's coal-fired power plants produce tons and tons of it every year. In the NC-5, "Duke had to shut down an old ash landfill at its Belews Creek plant in Stokes County last year after groundwater samples repeatedly broke state safety standards."

Some 2.7 million tons (million tons) of Duke's ash was piled out on the ground between 1992 and 2003 without protective liners that are now required at landfills.

We ain't begun to calculate the true costs vs. benefits of corporatocracy.

And don't even get us started on the fact that much of that coal comes from mountaintop removal mines north of here.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Buncombe County Commission "Knocking on the Doors of Hell"

Citing the Forsyth County case, the Buncombe County Commission will no longer precede its meetings with an official prayer, opting for a moment of silence instead.

The board's attorney said in a statement, "On November 9, 2009 a magistrate judge with the US District Court for the Middle District of NC issued a recommendation of judgment against Forsyth County as the practice violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution .... The Forsyth case is based on facts establishing that out of 33 invocations prior to meetings only 7 did not contain some reference to Jesus, Jesus Christ, Christ, Savior, or the Trinity, and none of those 33 invocations invoked another deity associated with any faith other than Christianity. Such statistics are no doubt common here in the Bible Belt and I believe are also fairly representative of such a sampling before our Board."

To be legal prayers before the opening of a government body must be non-sectarian in nature and not endorse one faith or denomination over another.

Naturally, such a decision, even in Asheville, could be guaranteed to invite the raining down of hellfire, starting with the recently defeated right-wing former town councilman Carl Mumpower and local conservative "activist" Don Yelton, who said, modestly and with hardly any hyperbole, "I am reminded of what some [Jewish] friends told me, they did not know how fast it could happen. Hitler. We are knocking on the doors of hell right now. Please get your pastors to get awake and take a stand."

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Wake County School Board ... The Sound, The Fury, and The Dyspepsia

The new conservative majority on the Wake County School Board took control yesterday, and they seized the moment to install themselves in power, to spring new agenda items on the board's minority without prior warning, and to end the hated "diversity" policies of the previous majority. It was a tumultuous meeting. Citizens yelled at them. Teachers walked out. And ... oh, yeah ... one of the new board members regaled the crowd with a Bible reading.

We don't pretend to know all the background on the issues (Keung Hui of the N&O has a barebones recap of the major actions taken yesterday), but the crowing of the John Locke Foundation crowd tells us a great deal about this particular regression in educational policy.

Andrea Verykoukis at The Progressive Pulse points out that the new majority arrived for their swearing in with an agenda they'd obviously worked out and agreed on beforehand and asks if that could possibly be legal. They did, and it was legal, and if I were in their position I would have done the same thing, though perhaps with less jackbooting. If the new right-wing majority is going to operate in this arrogant manner, however, I would expect them to remain in the majority no longer than the next election.

Might Be Worth Holding Our Breath For

Charlotte angling to get the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Boy howdee!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Foxx Is the Richest

Member of Congress from North Carolina. She has a minimum net worth of $2.4 million. Minimum.

"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich [woman] shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich [woman] to enter into the kingdom of God." (Matt. 19:23-24)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Forsyth County, Wasting Money

Re Forsyth County government's answer to a magistrate's preliminary ruling that praying to Jesus Christ at the beginning of County Commission meetings is blatantly flaunting the constitutional church/state separation ... The continued fighting of this judge's ruling amounts to a misappropriation of taxpayer $$. That is to say, the money it's taking for a lawyer or a team of lawyers to write their justification for why Forsyth County should continue to wrap themselves in Jesus Christ is money better spent on actual citizen services.

Especially when the "fix" is so simple: pray silently to any god you please, preferably the One Who takes an active interest in debt setoff, tax liens, re-vals, and traffic committee reports.

Potential Primary Challenger for Foxx?

There is some Forsyth County talk that Virginia Foxx might get a Republican primary challenger in one Donny Lambeth, currently president and chief operating officer of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and chair of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education.

Lambeth, a former Democrat, would be a moderate, sane antidote to Madam Foxx's irrational psycho manifestation of poisonous partisanship. In other words, he'd have a snowball's chance of beating her.

But the actual goal of a Lambeth run against Foxx in 2010 would be preparing himself for a 2012 race for what Forsyth County activists hope will be the redistricting result of the 2010 Census, the carving out of a new district for Winston-Salem which would shove Foxx off onto the rest of us while Tobacco Central takes a more rational course into the future.

Good luck with that agenda.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Foxx Gets Challenger on the Right

Apparently, Virginia Foxx has officially become part of the "Washington establishment," as a Glenn-Beck-inspired independent candidate is gathering petition signatures to get himself on the fall 2010 ballot to oppose her. Brad Smith is a Wilkes County construction supervisor for W.A. Lankford metal buildings. He's a former lifelong Republican disillusioned with his party's leaders.

Where can I sign that petition?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Virginia Foxx, Historical Revisionist

Guest Blogger: Karl Campbell

Last week, while commenting on a bill to designate a river "wild and scenic," Representative Foxx waded into historical waters beyond her depth. While trying to make a valid historical point that Republicans deserve credit for beginning some good environmental programs (and she is right, if you go back 40 years to the Nixon administration), Foxx made one of the most ridiculous comments of her political career:
FOXX: ...and actually the GOP has been the leader in starting good environmental programs in this, in this country, uh, just as we were the people who passed the Civil Right bills back in the '60s, without very much help from our colleagues across the aisle. They love to engage in revisionist history.

Revisionist history? No serious scholar would agree with Foxx's statement. President Kennedy, who proposed the first significant civil rights act, and President Johnson, who passed both that act and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968, were Democrats. Almost all the African-Americans who took the beatings in Birmingham and Selma either were Democrats or became Democrats soon thereafter. Here in North Carolina, and across the country, many white Democrats who opposed civil rights legislation left the party and joined the new Republican coalition that increasingly belittled the African American struggle for freedom. Jesse Helms railed against these courageous people in his editorials on WRAL (Foxx also misspoke while trying to defend Helms a few minutes later).

Representative Foxx embarrassed herself by trying to recast history and wield it as a political weapon. Pundits and politicians on cable news and liberal blogs have rightfully attacked her for her silly blunder.

But there is more to this story than most Democrats would like to admit. Liberals would do well to give the topic of politics and civil rights more careful attention. There is a hidden truth behind the headlines.

For several years now some shrewd Republican leaders have played the civil rights history card during debates about the GOP's record on race. Unlike Foxx's heavy handed oversimplification, they correctly point out that without Republican support, led by Republican Senator Everett Dirksen from Illinois, civil rights bills would never have become law. For instance, look carefully at the following numbers about the actual voting rights bill that passed both chambers in 1965 before the final conference bill:
Senate: 77-19
• Democrats: 47-17 (73%-27%)
• Republicans: 30-2 (94%-6%)

House: 333-85
• Democrats: 221-61 (78%-22%)
• Republicans: 112-24 (82%-18%)

Note that while there were more actual Democratic votes, the percentage of support was higher among Republicans. Why? The reason is because Southern Democrats -- including North Carolina Senators Ervin and Jordan -- opposed civil rights. Do these numbers mean that Republicans were more supportive of civil rights than Democrats? Of course they don't. A careful reading of the history of civil rights legislation shows that a COALITION of Democrats and Republicans made these important gains in racial justice possible.

So Democrats, be warned. Just as Foxx inaccurately claimed that it was Republicans "who passed the Civil Right bills back in the '60's without very much help from our colleagues across the aisle," it would be wrong for Democrats to oversimplify in the other direction and claim that they alone were the party of civil rights.

History is messier than many politicians would like it to be.

The real irony here is that Foxx has accidentally endorsed a few things she is adamantly against -- like bipartisanship and moderation. When it really mattered, when politicians on both sides of the aisle came face to face with a real turning point in American history, moderate Republicans followed the brave leadership of Senator Dirksen and did the right thing for the country.

Maybe Virginia Foxx should re-read her history and follow her Republican forbearers' example.

Karl Campbell is an associate professor of history at ASU and is the author of "Senator Sam Ervin, Last of the Founding Fathers."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

On the Menu at Montreat: Turkey Hash

Sarah Palin is having dinner with Franklin Graham and his father Billy tonight in western North Carolina.

Back-up to be provided by The Angel Chorus.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Too Many Mad Hatters at the Tea Party

Trouble in the "tea party" movement.

Sez a Texas tea party organizer: "You have some interesting folks in the Tea Party movement -- some of them I can support, but some of them are kind of out there and radical, and I don't want to associate myself with them."

So the supposed "movement" is making like cheap pine furniture: there's a lot of splintering and some sore asses.

Extremism is great for movements ... up to a point (to be specific, the point at which your movement needs to attract more people than it repels by virtue of its Obama-Is-Hitler and health-care-reform-is-the-Holocaust rhetoric).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Triumph of the Foxx/Whitener Republicans

Yesterday's edition of the Watauga Democrat included a guest column written by Baptist minister Herb Hash under the aegis of the Watauga County Democratic Party. The editor of the paper included an illuminating headnote to Rev. Hash's column, as follows:
A couple of years ago, the Watauga County Democratic and Republican parties agreed to submit a monthly column in which their parties positions on the issues of the day would be discussed.

This column published in several editions and was received well by readers.

Over the past few months, the local Republican Party, for unexplained reasons, has ceased to submit any columns.

Since this concept will only work if both parties participate, this column submitted by the Watauga Democratic Party will be the last in this series...." [No link available. These occasional columns have never been included in the Watauga Democrat's on-line edition, but the Hash column can now be read here.]

What the editor did not mention was that (1) early in 2009, at the Republican County Convention, U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx and her surrogates took over control of the county party and ran off the man who had been writing most of their newspaper columns. And (2) the last column submitted by Aaron Whitener, the Foxx-appointed chair of the party and Foxx’s own employee, was an attack on gays signed by a wholly fictitious person, a breach of ethics that the newspaper editor vigorously questioned at the time and about which Aaron Whitener remained guiltily silent and unresponsive.

Despite all that creepy behavior, the Aaron Whitener version of the Watauga County Republican Party now manages nevertheless to win a tactical victory. That is to say, by failing to participate in the local paper’s attempt to offer contrasting views, or by failing to participate honestly in that exchange of views, the Foxx/Whitener Republican Party manages to silence everyone.

Proud To Be a Parrot

Heath Shuler (NC-11) got called out here and in many other places for obediently inserting language in the Congressional Record supplied to him by a major drug company ... by way of justifying a further watering down of health care reform (giving Big Pharma 12 years of shielded exclusivity to "biologic drugs" before cheaper generics could be introduced; alternative legislative language would have granted five years of exclusivity).

The Shuler organization has decided to handle the bad press on this issue by coming out and essentially saying he's pleased to be a Huge Tool.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Worth Checking Out

That's Ramin Bahrani, the native of Winston-Salem (born in 1975) who's becoming a talked-about creative force in the world of movies and whose most recent film, "Goodbye Solo," was shot entirely in Winston-Salem, except for the climax scene which was shot at the Blowing Rock with the wind sweeping up from below exactly the way it's supposed to.

Bahrani is Iranian-American, and his films have a definite knack for melding world-cultures and a humanistic spirtuality seen against the grittiest of urban backgrounds. "Man Push Cart" (2005) chronicled the tough life of an immigrant vending cheap food on the streets of New York City. "Chop Shop" (2007) follows a Latino street orphan hustling in the chaos of auto body shops in the very shadow of Shea Stadium.

In "Goodbye Solo" Winston-Salem has never looked worse, and I suspect the film might give the local Chamber of Commerce a bit of acid reflux, since this is not the Winston-Salem of Hanes Park and the Reynolda House. This is the Winston-Salem of decaying industry, abandoned warehouses, working-class neighborhoods, Quik Piks and strip malls. This is immigrant melting-pot America with Latinos, blacks, poor whites thrown together in the struggle for a slice of the pie.

The main character, Solo, is a Senegalese taxi driver who befriends an old white man who books Solo's taxi for a one-way trip to the Blowing Rock on October 20. Solo, who has a keen radar for fellow human beings, figures out that the old man intends to throw himself off the rock, and he sets about to prevent that.

I won't tell you what happens. See the movie. Then read the interview with Ramin Bahrani for additional insight into his philosophical outlook and his methods.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Words o' Wisdom

Tom Jensen over at Public Policy Polling:
All three of these folks [current top GOP contenders Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee] reinforce the negative perceptions that much of the country holds about the Republican Party. The GOP needs a fresh face that challenges people's assumptions about who Republicans are and is visibly not just going to be George W. Bush under another name. I don't know who that person is, but he/she needs to emerge if the party is going to win back the White House in 2012.

Some conservative talking head the other day -- maybe it was Pat Buchanan -- uttered the name Bob McDonnell in reference to the above perception that something is dreadfully outta focus (rather than mavericky) about the current Republican field of presidential contenders. Which we think kinda proves Jensen's point, if you're turning to the man who just won a Southern governorship but hasn't even been sworn in yet.

McDonnell = a fresh face, yes. But "challenges people's assumptions"? Not so much.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Morning Laundryline

For all the dissension in the Democratic Party, the Republicans have their own internal rotting fish heads.

Congressman Heath Shuler (NC-11) following not just PhRMA's talking points but the talking points that PhRMA specifically tailored for Republican members of Congress ... about protecting PhRMA's huge profits by way of prohibiting generic versions of certain cancer & AIDS drugs. UPDATE: Tom Sullivan at Scrutiny Hooligans goes a more complete blow-by-blow of all this under the appropriate headline "Corporate Ventriloquism."

The Barracuda bites the hand that fed her.

North Carolina Republicans, even with headliner Dick Armey and the personal blessing of Jesus Christ, can't get but 400 measly protesters out in Raleigh over the weekend? Who'd a thunk it!

Republican conservatives dismember their most promising politicians. Fine by me.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A New Favorite Author

Scott Huler lives in Raleigh (though he had the misfortune of being born in Ohio). He's worked and written for the Raleigh News & Observer and done on-air commentaries for "All Things Considered" on National Public Radio. "All Things Considered" is kind of the perfect venue for Huler, since he's a journalistic polymath, writing on everything from the Cleveland Browns football team, to NASCAR, to the ancient world. I just devoured his two most recent books and highly recommend him for his research, his way with words, and his sense of humor:

"Defining the Wind: The Beaufort Scale and How a 19th-Century Admiral Turned Science into Poetry" (2005). When a friend pressed this book on me, I wasn't too thrilled. What a strange topic for a book! But then I started reading, and it was right down my alley for delving into natural history and the way our ancestors successfully made sense of natural phenomena way before Google answered all our questions. I liked Huler's style so much, I immediately got hold of his most recent book...

"No Man's Lands: One Man's Odyssey Through The Odyssey" (2008). This is essentially a travelogue of Huler's funny-odd decision to go everywhere the ancient Ulysses went on his disastrous (but ultimately successful) journey home to Ithaca after the Trojan War, and to try to learn on his own what Ulysses might have learned. This thing turns into a moving essay on middle-agedness for the human male and gave me a new piece of wisdom to live by: "If you really want to get in charge ... master not your enemy but your ego."

Huler will have a new book, "On the Grid" (about infrastructure, of all things), out in May. Can't wait to see how he unpacks the interstate highway system, not to mention all those high-tension wires coming into every home. He has his own website, which is well worth exploring (particularly because it includes photos he took on his personal odyssey that Crown Publishers did not see fit to include in the book).

Kissell Has Some 'Splainin' To Do

Rep. Larry Kissell is North Carolina's newest representative in Congress, elected in 2008 from the NC-8 (which includes all the counties on the South Carolina border, from the eastern suburbs of Charlotte to Cumberland County and Fayetteville). Most analysts agree that Kissell won his seat against the wealthy Republican Robin Hayes partly on Barack Obama's coattails, since Obama carried the district.

Which makes Kissell's vote against the House's "Affordable Health Care for America Act" last Saturday very puzzling. Make that "very maddening," since Kissell was elected on the strength of progressive activism and was thought to be an actual Democrat, as opposed to NC representatives Mike McIntyre (NC-7) and Heath Shuler (NC-11), the Blue Dogs who owe some secret, shadowy allegiance to the political power cult known as "The Family."

For his part, Kissell has been ducking comment since Saturday, while his constituents are pouring on some heat. A group of protestors organized by the Cumberland County Progressives stood in the rain outside Kissell's Fayetteville office yesterday, holding up wet signs that said "Blow the Whistle on Larry Kissell" and "Give Kissell a Big Dismissal." (Rhymes are apparently still the preferred genre for political protests.)

"In the 8th District, we only have one voice in Congress, and that one voice voted against us," said a spokesman for the group. "We're upset that Kissell has been elected -- and really by the coattails of President Obama -- to represent a district where a lot of people need health care," said the president of the local NAACP. "And he didn't vote for it. That bothers me."

Dan Soucek Says He'll Run

...for N.C. Senate, Dist. 45 ... against incumbent Steve Goss.

He ran unsuccessfully for the N.C. House in 2008, against Cullie Tarleton.

This is sometimes called "failing upward."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fight Club

Harrison Hickman, a Democratic pollster, has written "A 2010 Survival Guide for Democrats." I went to it expecting to hate it, if it contained any of the "play defense" advice we've heard emanating from certain Raleigh precincts. But it's aggressive and preaching from the Gospel, far as we're concerned. Stuff like this:
7. Get tough. Voters will take out their anger on you. Take it head-on. They might respect you if you do. They'll know you're weak if you don't. And remember that most of their anger is justified.

Many of our Democratic office-holders will neither read nor follow the advice. That would be asking waaay too much.

Cunningham Won't Run

Cal Cunningham, prominently mentioned this year as another possible contender for the Democratic nomination to take on Dick Burr in the 2010 Senate race, posted on BlueNC late last night that he's decided it's not the right race nor the right time.

Leaving Elaine Marshall and Ken Lewis still definitely in.

And Bob Etheridge, congressman from the NC-2 who voted FOR the Stupak amendment on Saturday, is also still considering a run. We'd advise against it.

Monday, November 09, 2009


Former Watauga County Sheriff Mark Shook, who is now employed in Catawba County as Captain of Detention under Sheriff David Huffman, has registered to vote in Watauga County, using his parents' address as his "place of residence" ... thus ushering in rampant speculation that he plans to run again for his old job in 2010. Because state law mandates an eligibility requirement of "residing" in a county at least one year prior to the election:
§ 162-2. Disqualifications for the office.

No person shall be eligible for the office of sheriff who is not of the age of 21 years, or has not resided in the county in which he is chosen for one year immediately preceding his election.

Mark Shook got in just under the wire ... if, indeed, he's actually living with his parents.

Black Bart

To get the Democratic votes for the narrow victory on Saturday for the House's "Affordable Health Care for America Act," Speaker Nancy Pelosi was forced into a corner by the Blue Dogs, led by Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan. She allowed a vote on the Stupak amendment to the bill which not only outlaws abortion coverage in any public option insurance plan (a redundancy, since the so-called Hyde Amendment already did that) but also outlaws abortion coverage in any private insurance plan if it participates in the eventual federal "insurance exchange."

In other words, the Stupak Amendment effectively bans abortion coverage in all insurance plans, both private and public, an interference in women's health care that is not just a step backward but a naked slap at what has been a legal right of American women since 1973. Some 64 House Democrats voted for this crap. And all the Republicans (save one). They had a major assist from the League of Catholic Bishops.

Bart Stupak is not just your garden-variety Blue Dog. He's also a "C-Streeter," a resident of the Capitol Hill row house where some holier-than-thou male members of Congress pray loudly to God, often about the proclivity of some of their residents to fornicate freely with lesser mortals. The C Street residence has been the safe retreat for several superior "Christian" men, including Mark Sanford of "hiking the Appalachian Trail" fame and John Ensign, who screwed a staff member and then paid her off.

Residents in the C Street house are members of a shadowy and secretive fundamentalist Christian group calling itself The Fellowship. Founded in 1935, it has held clear theocratic designs on government. And also on women, who are obviously supposed to be their obedient vessels.

After Bart Stupak successful cornered Nancy Pelosi into throwing American women under the proverbial bus Saturday night, he dutifully cast his yea vote for final passage of the thus severely restrictive "Affordable Health Care for America Act" and then was observed from the gallery of the House chamber to do the following:
Stupak, during the vote on the final bill, didn't stick around long. He cast his vote quickly and shook the hand of Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), then headed over to the GOP side, where he was warmly welcomed.

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), a strident partisan, was the first to greet him, shaking his hand and slapping him on the back. Stupak then found [Republican Minority Whip Eric] Cantor and [Alaskan Rep. Don] Young, shook their hands, and retired from the floor to the Republican cloakroom.

Birds of a feather.

Meanwhile, another key group of the progressive coalition, pro-choice women, is hung out to dry. And Democrats wonder why they may start losing more than just Virginia and New Jersey.

Foxx Defends Predatory Credit Card Companies

Let's review, shall we?

1. May 13, 2009: The U.S. House passes (resoundingly) sweeping credit card reform legislation aimed at limiting abusive and deceptive credit card practices, like raising rates on people who pay their minimums on time. The law (signed by President Obama) mandates February 2010 for implementation. Most House Republicans vote for the measure, but not Virginia Foxx. She's one of 64 Republican House members who vote against the bill.

2. Between May 13 and now: Credit card companies start jacking up their interest rates and fees in advance of the law's taking effect. That's called "In your face, Congress!"

3. November 4, 2009: Congress responds to the behavior by voting to move up the deadline for implementation to December 1 of this year. The Expedited CARD Reform for Consumers Act of 2009 passes the House 331 to 92, and if you're guessing that -- yep! -- Virginia Foxx voted against this too, you'd be right. Plus she said this on the floor of the House: She called the bill unnecessary and said "people who take out credit cards don't have a gun to their head. If you don't like the rate, get another credit card."

Ah, that milk of human kindness! Are you flashing on "Let them eat cake," like I am?

Foxx's attitude, combined with the practices of the credit card companies, earned The Madam another blistering editorial in the Charlotte Observer.

Friday, November 06, 2009

The New Poster Child of the NCGOP

Apparently they couldn't get Michelle Bachmann nor Sarah Palin, so Tom Fetzer and the NCGOP will use under-informed and under-performing poor Doug Hoffman, fresh off his loss in the NY-23, as the headliner for a Raleigh fundraiser (Hall of Fame Dinner on November 21). Oh goody.

What were we predicting a couple of days ago about Hoffman's becoming the new face of the GOP?

Tom Jensen, reacting to this news over at Public Policy Polling, sez, don't underestimate the North Carolina Republican Party's ability to defeat themselves in an environment that might otherwise conventionally favor their electoral chances:
If the Hoffman model is what [Fetzer & Co.] want to emulate they may just find a way to screw it up in a political climate that appears to be very favorable for them. Democrats have kept power in recent years despite one corruption scandal after another because voters in North Carolina think the Republicans are just too extreme and incompetent. You'd think they'd try to learn from those lessons and put a different face forward that could actually appeal to voters in the center but I may have overestimated them.

Another Blistering Editorial Against Madam Foxx

This one in today's Winston-Salem Journal.

Madam Bobblehead

Madam Virginia Foxx stood on the west front of the Capitol yesterday, shucking and grinning as one of Michelle Bachmann's backup singers, basking in the glow of some 5,000 anti-abortionists and tea partiers bused in by Americans for the Prosperous to shut down the government and kill health-insurance reform. Many of the demonstrators were covered in fake blood and carried mangled dolls, representing aborted fetuses, as someone else dressed as the Grim Reaper mimicked leading them all to hell. Other demonstrators chanted "Weasel Queen," their favored nickname for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

In Madam Foxx's line of sight were a number of protestor signs: President Obama in white coat, his face painted to look like the Joker; "Stop Obamunism"; "Obama takes his orders from the Rothchilds" [sic], accusing Obama of being part of a Jewish plot to introduce the antichrist; and a pair of 5-by-8 foot banners proclaiming "National Socialist Healthcare, Dachau, Germany, 1945." Both banners showed close-up photographs of Holocaust victims, many of them children.

Those huge Nazi death-camp signs were the visual manifestation of what The Madam had already said on the floor of the U.S. House this past Monday.

Anyone who watched any of this bizarre Michelle Bachmann rally yesterday ("Taking the GOP Off the Cliff") could not miss Madam Foxx and her helmet of white crazy-lady hair. While others ranted at the microphone, she was always nearby, the perfect marionette, though for all her mimicking of great pleasure at being there in the company of so many other political whores, she looked as nervous and as pained as someone secretly passing gas in an elevator.

When her turn came at the microphone, she bellowed, "This Congress is on a collision course with the principles of freedom and liberty that our Founding Fathers bled and died for. We will not be silenced. We will kill this bill."

Well, they ARE clearly the Party of Death.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Fetzer's Grip on Reality

"Under the Dome" allowed NC GOP Chair Tom Fetzer to go on about how Tuesday's elections are good omens for North Carolina Republicans without bothering to ask him how he explained the virtual sweep of municipal elections by not only Democrats but by progressive Democrats and what that might portend for next year's races.

It's like Fetzer is chair of the Virginia Republican Party, since looking north for inspiration was all he wanted to do. Understandable, since North Carolina cities (except for Greensboro) turned down Republicans flat in Tuesday's elections. Hell, we hear that even North Wilkesboro went progressive.

We don't know enough about Greensboro politics to understand what went down there, but it was bad for Democratic incumbents. For what it's worth, you can read the Republican interpretation of the meaning of that city election here ... by a Greensboro blogger.

The Shame, The Humiliation

The Charlotte Observer today features a blistering editorial about Madam Foxx, who is "more than just mildly embarrassing for North Carolina." She's positively "find-an-island-to-ship-her-to embarrassing." And then this small shiv directed at you and me: "how-can-voters-keep-electing-her embarrassing .... Her words and actions should scare voters in her 5th District, which stretches from the Piedmont to the mountains. In 2010, they should take that fear to the polls."

Maybe someone from Watauga would like to post a comment below that editorial: "Foxx is unable-to-carry-her-home-county-in-the-last-two-elections embarrassing."

WE know all about her "stoopid is as stoopid does" antics in Watauga. It's the other 11 or 12 counties in the 5th District that apparently approve of being representated by her.

Exit Rand

Tony Rand, Democratic Majority Leader in the NC Senate and arguably the second most powerful member of that body, is resigning from the Senate to take an appointment as chairman of the state parole board.

Politicians (along with Mother Nature) hate a vacuum, and Rand's departure will leave a big one.

There's an interesting profile of Rand's career in today's N&O.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Republican Brand

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-Poisontoadsville) is waaay too important for his britches.

On Sunday he left his SUV Ford Explorer (compensating much, Patrick?) illegally parked at the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. "The front tires were on the curb. The back tires were in the driving area of the parking lot, one resting atop a yellow speed bump." The photographs that the Gaston Gazette reporter took are precious!

McHenry's spokesman said the Congressman was running late, had somehow temporarily misplaced his personal servants, and was greatly needed on urgent national business of shoving cream pie in Barack Obama's mug.

North Carolina Round-Up

Where was the celebrated Republican/conservative resurgence in North Carolina yesterday? Nowhere much.

...elected its first Democratic mayor in 22 years, Anthony Foxx (no relation), pictured left, and increased the Democratic majority on the city council to eight out of 11 seats.

Progressives swept the election. Mayor Terry Bellamy was reelected for a second term, and liberal Democrats Esther Manheimer, Gordon Smith, and Cecil Bothwell won council seats, beating two-term incumbent Republican Carl Mumpower, who ran such a weird campaign against Heath Shuler in the NC-11 last year. Both Smith and Bothwell are well known local bloggers.

Chapel Hill
The N&O summarized this race succinctly: "The liberal establishment held off a band of businessmen trying to change the town's course." So Chapel Hill has a new mayor, Mark Kleinschmidt, and the developers took only one of four available seats on the town council. Shades of Boone's Templetons: The pro-business candidates "were being influenced heavily by a specific group of developers, and I think in the end that backfired on them," said the top vote-getter, Penny Rich (love that name!).

Big reelection win for Dan Besse after "a sometimes-heated campaign" against Republican challenger Ted Shipley. Wish I'd been following this one! Dan is a personal hero of ours. Looks like a Democratic sweep otherwise in Tobacco City.

Democratic incumbents trounced their challengers, though the top vote-getter among the losers, a Libertarian, crowed that his 27% of the vote was a personal best for him and a sign of great things coming in the future.

The major bright spot statewide for the GOP. The mayor and city council turned over to Republican control. Mark Binker discusses it here.

The New Face of the Republican Party?

Meet Doug Hoffman, losing candidate for the U.S. Congress in the NY-23. Hoffman did NOT run and lose as a Republican. He ran and lost as a tea-bagging conservative. The GOP did NOT initially pick Hoffman as its candidate. No, it was worse than that. It picked a "moderate" Republican woman, Dede Scozzafava, who does not hate gay marriage and is pro-choice on abortion rights. Which led (as we're sure you know) to a major uprising within Republican and tea-bagger ranks. Ended up that every major Republican presidential hopeful in 2012, along with many other prominent national Republican spokespeople, bailed on Scozzafava and started endorsing Mr. Creepy Man Hoffman. Got so bad that Scozzafava pulled out of the race and endorsed the Democrat, the Unknown Man, Bill Owens, who won last night ... the first Democrat to be elected from the NY-23 since before the Civil War. Put that in your tea bag and steep it!

If this is what the conservative movement brings to the Republican Party, GOP operatives have very little to be strutting about this a.m. Exit polling in both Virginia and New Jersey strongly suggest that the voters in those states were not lashing out at President Obama. They were lashing out at Corzine in New Jersey (good riddance to all such present and former Goldman Sachs bankers, sez I). In Virginia, the 2008 Obama voters stayed home and demonstrated that Virginia definitely ain't for lovers. It's for old people.

Certainly, in North Carolina Tom Fetzer and the state GOP have precious little to crow about (from what we've been able to see so far this a.m.). But more on that in a subsequent post.

The elections in New Jersey and Virginia WERE about Obama in one way: those states went for him a year ago because he promised change, he promised an up-ending of "business as usual," he promised visionary leadership and progressive ideals. He has not delivered. He surrounded himself with the wrong people, and instead of dynamic leadership, we've gotten maddening caution and Rahm Emanuel. I might have sat at home myself in New Jersey or Virginia yesterday.

We keep hoping that the other Barack Obama, the one who won that huge election a year ago and told us things were going to be different, is eventually going to actually inhabit the Oval Office.

If he doesn't, 2010 will indeed be awful.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Virginia Foxx and the Epic Fail

Virginia Foxx took over the Watauga GOP last spring, installing her paid employee, Aaron Whitener, as chair and running off the Republican worker bees who didn't agree with her.

The Republicans recruited to run in the Boone municipal elections today (or not recruited, as the case may be) were completely shut out in the election (see results down-column).

But not, as it turns out, without the following stroke of tactical brilliance on the part of the Foxx-paid party leadership: We began to hear this morning from Democrats who were getting robo-calls from a young man who did not identify himself other than to say he was calling on behalf of the Watauga Republican Party, urging the recipient of the call to go vote for the Republican team. And he obligingly named the candidates for mayor and all the Republicans running for council. These calls were happening this morning, after voting had commenced. If they were also underway earlier, when they might have actually produced some benefit, we didn't hear about it.

We repeat ... registered Democrats got these calls. Which served in at least one case to get an apathetic Democrat up off the couch to get dressed and to go in and vote -- armed with the information from the robo-call of who NOT to vote for.

But this is the best part: the robo-call urged citizens to vote for four Republican candidates for council, in what was a three-way race. Did the leadership of the party not realize that the candidate who got 62 votes had actually pulled out weeks ago?

No ... I take it back. This is the best part: Rep. Virginia Foxx is on record opposing political robo-calls. In fact, she's introduced legislation to ban them outright.

When they're used this ineptly, she's absolutely right.

Boone Election Results

For Mayor
Loretta Clawson 787
Tim Wilson 474
John Mena 237

For Town Council
Jamie Leigh 937
Rennie Brantz 884
Andy Ball 828
Matthew Long 510
Harold Frazier 492
Grant Holder 189
Thomas Wilhite 62

Mayor Clawson is reelected for a 4-year term. Jamie Leigh and Rennie Brantz are both elected for 4-year terms, with Andy Ball taking the 2-year term.

Who Is Scarier Than Any Terrorist Right Now in Any Country?

As un-self-aware as Foxx & Friends are in the hallowed halls of Congress, they occasionally actually hit on the truth. Madam Foxx's terror about Democratic health reform does indeed have something to do with her own survival.

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) sort of inadvertently hit on it in an interview he did with right-wing CNSNews. After throwing out all the standard red-meat talking points ("socialism," "government take-over," "tax us to death," "unconstitutional"), he let the real truth slip out, that the American people will like reform too much and thus endanger the future electability of Republicans:
And if they get there [to a public option, for example], of course, you're going to have a very rough time having a two-party system in this country, because almost everybody's going to say, "All we ever were, all we ever are, all we ever hope to be depends on the Democratic Party."

And that's why Madam Foxx is saying health-care reform is scarier than Al Quaida, because even her sorry, lying, thieving, whoring after momentary wing-nut applause ... might actually come to an end.

Which is to say, even the Madam can be beaten in an election, even in the Fifth District. Watauga County has already proven it. That's merely because the people in her home county actually know her. All it will take is for people in the other counties to know her too.

Take That, Blue Cross NC!

The latest Elon University poll found that 54% of North Carolinians support health insurance legislation that would include a public option. Some 41% said they would use a public option plan should one become available.

That latter number amounts to a huge razzberry directed at Blue Cross/Blue Shield of NC, which has spent a secret amount (the corp. won't say how much) sending out multiple propaganda pieces opposing health-care reform, the most recent featuring a postage-paid, pre-printed postcard opposing any public option reform that the recipient is supposed to sign and send to Sen. Kay Hagan. Many people have been altering those cards to reflect the feelings of a majority of North Carolinians (see above), like NC House Rep. Pricey Harrison. We heard about one guy who taped his edited card to a brick before sending it on through the postal system, which apparently is totally legal and costs Blue Cross of NC slightly more than 28 cents.

Next we can expect Blue Cross's $4-million-man, CEO Bob Greczyn, to claim that the high cost of his insurance is due to "socialists" in the state abusing his postage-paid propaganda.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Foxx Shows Her Ass

Keeping in mind that Madam Virginia Foxx is actively scared to death of actual voters in her district and that she does not appear anywhere that doesn't offer "safe," pre-screened, ass-kissing fans of hers, her truly violent statement today on the floor of the House has to be taken with the usual tablespoon of salt, as well as a generous dose of laudanum:
Everywhere I go in my district, people tell me they are frightened .... I share that fear, and I believe they should be fearful. And I believe the greatest fear that we all should have to our freedom comes from this room -- this very room -- and what may happen later this week in terms of a tax increase bill masquerading as a health care bill. I believe we have more to fear from the potential of that bill passing than we do from any terrorist right now in any country.

You can watch the whole sorry display here.

So, you understand, right, that the "threat" of health-care reform is worse than the threat from any terrorist in any country in the world?

This is a respected representative of the political party that is counting on us giving them control again over our lives, our welfare, and all our futures in 2010.

No thanks.

Will That Moose Hunt?

Less than 48 hours before the election for governor in Virginia, at least some of the state's voters began getting robo-calls from Sarah Palin.

Apparently, she can see Virginia from her house.

The Republican candidate for governor up there, Robert McDonnell, a right-winger of the Pat Robertson school, had politely requested that Palin not stick her cute little button nose into his election campaign, fearing that the state's independents might not cotton to the under-informed former Alaska governor (who couldn't even get through a single term in office).

Curiously (or perhaps, understandably, given the above paragraph), Palin does not mention McDonnell by name: "Virginia, hello, this is Sarah Palin calling to urge you to go to the polls Tuesday and vote to share our principles. The eyes of America will be on Virginia and make no mistake about it, every vote counts. So don't take anything for granted, vote your values on Tuesday, and urge your friends and family to vote, too."

"Your values" = gay-bashing anti-abortion get 'em women back in the kitchen, all of which fit McDonnell to a tee.

The calls are being paid for by the Virginia Faith and Freedom Coalition, the state branch of a national conservative group founded by former Christian Coalition director (and Jack Abramoff palsy-wowsy) Ralph Reed.

McDonnell is heavily favored to win over Democrat Creigh Deeds, but perhaps Palin intends to brag that she turned the (already very red) tide in McDonnell's favor. She ain't nothing if she ain't an opportunist.

Ray Warren Stepping Down

Former Alexander County Sheriff and two-term member of the N.C. House Ray Warren says he will not be running for reelection in 2010.

He won his Dist. 88 seat in 2006, the same year that local Democrats Cullie Tarleton and Steve Goss won their House and Senate seats, in the Great Mountain Democratic Resurgence.

Unless the Dems in Alexander and Catawba counties have a spanking strong candidate to put up in 2010, this will quickly look like a Republican slam-dunk.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Hefty Fine

Former Guv Easley has been fined $100,000 by the State Board of Elections.

PLUS ... the Board referred the matter to the state prosecutor "to investigate whether laws were broken."

Yes We Can't

A few days ago a large manila envelop arrived in the mail. In it, an 8 x 10 glossy photograph of the 44th President of the United States, a little keepsake just for us (and a few million other of his supporters, we guess), a small reminder that he still holds us in high esteem, a billet-doux with a clear subtext: "Do you still love me?"

How did he know? How did he guess that our affection has been going south ever since it became abundantly clear that his message during the campaign about actual, fundamental change to American corporate cronyism was pretty much political theater (and just as nourishing)?

Okay, okay, we know all that cobwebby stuff about pragmatism and compromise being the lifeblood of political progress, that no one ever actually gets immediately what would be right and just but must accept baby steps and half-measures ... like, say, the House Democratic health-reform bill trotted out yesterday by Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the party leadership as though it were The Tablets brought down from Sinai.

So far, we ain't buying it, keeping in mind that the severely watered-down House version of health reform is just the starting point for further watering down, as everything in the weeks ahead tips rightward toward the real bill that will eventually emerge as the so-called "victory" for Change in America: that is to say, a huge corporate give-away with a mythical "trigger" meant to rein in the corporations some day down the road, like maybe never.

I think I'm just not cut out for compromise. "Compromise is never anything but an ignoble truce between the duty of a man and the terror of a coward." Somebody said that. I don't know who. Whoever it was obviously knew some Democrats, probably Blue Dogs.

It dawned on a lot of us months ago that the 44th President of the United States made a deal with big insurance corporations and Big Pharma and gawd knows who else approximately 30 minutes after Rahm Emanuel installed his favorite coffee mug on his White House desk, a deal that this administration would NOT challenge corporate control of our government and the legislative process. They've been dodging around ever since, trying to get someone else, like Harry Reid in the Senate, to take the fall for failing to deliver real reform. The White House is the culprit. They have not negotiated in good faith, far as we can tell.

So, no, I ain't happy, and I haven't framed your picture yet.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Some Car Wrecks Are More Fatal Than Others

It had to be a cringe-inducing moment for members of the State Board of Elections yesterday, meeting this week to hear testimony and decide whether former Gov. Mike Easley flagrantly (or only innocently) violated campaign finance laws.

From Mark Binker's eye-witness account, as the former Guv settled into the witness chair yesterday for almost five hours of motor-mouth self-explanation, he said to the members of the Board who will decide his fate, "Before we go any further, I do want to say I appreciate the board serving. I know it's an inconvenience and I know it doesn't pay that well. But I do hope since I had the privilege of appointing some of you on to say thank you for the service."

Would that not make your toes curl if you'd been appointed to the state Board of Elections by this man? Would you not wonder whether he was really saying, "Lookee here, Bucko, I gave you this job, so you'd better do right by me"?

In other words, AWK-WARD.

Chris Fitzsimon has a thorough summary of the whole scene that's worth reading.

The ex-Guv's "tell" was his general demeanor ... the famously anti-social Easley was all Junior-League smiles and air-kisses, hand-shaking with everyone in the room, back-slapping, striking a wholly unconvincing pose of "nothing to see here, and butter will never melt in MY mouth."

Using Blue Cross's Dime

It didn't take long for North Carolina citizens to figure out what to do with those Blue Cross NC postage-paid & pre-printed messages to Sen. Hagan opposing health-care reform. If you got one of those little pieces of propaganda, you might want to take a lesson in what to do with it.

Would-Be Book-Burner Threatened with Fine for Polluting the Air

Update on Rev. Marc Grizzard of Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Bethel, N.C., and his announced plans to burn a whole bunch of Bibles that aren't King James versions and other literature similarly inspired by the devil, including tomes written by Christian mullahs like James Dobson, and so-called Christian music by the likes of Amy Grant et al.


Today's development.

Jacumin Out in the NC Senate-44

Jim Jacumin (R) has been representing Caldwell & Burke counties in the NC Senate for three terms, but he's announced he won't be running again next year ... opening up a real opportunity for Democrat (and Caldwell County veternarian) Beth Jones, who has already built a campaign structure and offers a younger, more vigorous, and more forward-looking vision for our sister Senate district down the mountain. Check her out.

Friday, October 23, 2009

This Person Is on Medicare

Virginia Anne Foxx ... Medicare recipient.

Virginia Anne Foxx, who HATES "socialized medicine," is receiving socialized medicine.

Virginia Anne Foxx, who has HERS, will deny you YOURS.