Thursday, September 30, 2010


Hell, we figger running the City of the Big Shoulders is maybe better suited to his talents. Running the White House ... not so much.

The character Josh Lyman in "The West Wing" is said to be based on Rahm. We'd be so much better off right now if Rahm had based his style in the White House on Josh Lyman.

We blame him for the loss of the public option. Up until recently, we were blaming all the ineptitude of the Obama White House on him, but we're not so sure any more. From the appointment of all those Goldman Sachs budget boys/girls to the Tin Ears in the political operation, seems like the man at the top might bear the blame.

We're reading about Rahm's likely successor, Pete Rouse. A strike against him is that he was Tom Daschle's right hand when Daschle was Majority Leader. Daschle's style was a lot like Obama's, too conciliatory for his own good. In Rouse's favor is that he apparently knows the location of every buried body for the last four decades of Life&Death in Mugstomp-on-the-Potomac. That kind of knowledge can come in handy for a president about to make a move. Rouse became Obama's chief of staff when he was first elected to the Senate. It was apparently Rouse who turned Obama around on his vote on the confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts. Obama was evidently planning to vote for the confirmation. Rouse warned him that a yes vote would come back to haunt him.

That was some good political advice right there.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Who's Burr in Bed With?

According to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics (, Sen. Dick Burr was one of 21 Republican senators who voted FOR the Wall Street bailout and then turned around and voted AGAINST the financial reform that might prevent such shenanigans in the future ... all while raking in $1,500,000 in Wall Street cash in 2010 alone. (Hattip: Chris Fitzsimon at the Progressive Pulse)

The continuing corruption of our government by Big Money is something curiously missing from the Tea Party's list of grievances.

Monday, September 27, 2010

What the Hell's Wrong with Obama? (Part Two)

We're against this. We were against domestic spying when George W. Bush was president. We haven't changed our position.

The over-stepping of executive powers, especially those that threaten to unleash even more "investigative freedom" for the executive branch, should concern every American. Unfortunately, certain Republicans only find their outrage when a Democrat is in office. They applauded all the Patriot Act nonsense when George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were seizing unconstitutional power to spy domestically. Now those same Republican voices, joined by tea baggers, are going ape-shit over this new proposed internet snoop-ability. Just check out some of the comments posted to the Times article linked above.

I told you so well before Barack Obama was elected: "...Republicans who claim to love the Constitution and who profess themselves giddy that they've gotten the congressional Democrats to cave on FISA [in June 2008] 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."

The lust of the government for more ways to spy on us, once the Bush administration had thrown open that door, is pretty understandable and pretty awful. But the situational ethics of Republicans just pisses me off.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Money and the November Election

Guest Blogging: Hayes McNeill

I have been thinking about this, and I have concluded that it seems strange that right now the Press can't talk about anything but Tea Baggers and how they are going to clean our clocks. And then turn those clocks back.

The Baggers tend to thump on the Constitution (which few seem to have read and even fewer respect), pulling odd bits out to justify their kind of crazy.

Some are demented, even more are deluded, still others child-like and pouty. But we must never forget that behind these people is Big Money, writing the checks that pay for their busses and rallies and their candidates. The Big Money Boys -- and now, thanks to Republicans on the Supreme Court, corporations hidden in the shadows -- these Big Money Boys can spread the manure in which their puppets roll and play.

I am too harsh, you think? I am so old that when I grew up in Wilkes County, there were still some farmers. From time to time one of these farmers would sell a horse or a mule by claiming that "he's good about standing still when tied." When I consider politicians like Richard Burr and Virginia Palmieri Foxx, I have to think of those horses and mules. Both Burr and Foxx have built their careers by doing exactly what they were told by the Big Money Boys. Almost two decades in Washington and ... is Burr known for a single piece of legislation? And Foxx ... against education, against heathcare, against disaster victims.

This is important because this November these two races, as well as all the races in which we are fielding candidates, allow us to choose among the character traits we want in our political leaders. We voters do not and cannot know what problems will beset us in the future. So we had sure as hell better choose leaders with strong and decent characters to represent us. It is on this character issue where the Richard Burrs and Virginia Palmieri Foxxes are weighed and found wanting. As are those who would challenge our Raleigh delegation. Big Money doesn't care a hoot in hell if their candidates have character. They just want them to do as they are told.

We know we will be outspent in this election. We know that Big Money will write Big Checks to fund the Big Lies which the Gullible will eat up. But we also know that our best defense -- sometimes our only defense -- is our vote. You know already that we have to vote early. You know that we have to make it our personal goal to see that our extended families and our friends vote and vote early. You know that we must reach out to neighbors and fellow-workers and people we see socially or in church to witness to them about Character and its importance to our futures and the futures of our children. We must remind anyone who will stand still to listen that the Tea Party is about exhuming the dried-up past. The Democrats are about the future.

This is the way we can stick it to the radicals and the crackpots and their big money backers.

See you at the polls.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

About That Half-Mil

Anonymous, in "The Rotten Fruit of Dan Soucek" thread below, asks where the $500,000 figure came from that's being pumped into NC House & Senate races this year. Real Jobs NC is a "527" group, which does not have to abide by the rules of the Federal Elections Commission because they operate under an official fiction that they are not advocating explicitly for or against particular candidates. Several weeks ago Real Jobs NC reportedly had $500,000. (They have likely raised more since then.) Here's AP reporter Gary Robertson's complete article on the subject, and although it doesn't mention the Cullie Tarleton and Steve Goss races, the anti Tarleton & Goss TV ads and mailers do say they were paid for by Real Jobs NC:
New NC committee has $500,000 to talk 'real jobs'
New political committee talking 'real jobs' may lay groundwork for NC GOP candidates

Monday August 16, 2010

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- An image of the Legislative Building provides a backdrop of a television commercial after a man in a blue shirt and red tie standing in front of what could be a closed plant laments what he calls North Carolina's bad business environment.

"We're losing North Carolina jobs, but double-digit unemployment isn't solved by more government," the unidentified speaker says. "Politicians want more taxes, more regulations -- to expand government, hurt our businesses and our employees."

The commercial, which began running in several TV markets last week, began an effort funded by more than $500,000 from two Republican-leaning groups and a business to raise the alarm about recent actions by the General Assembly, which happens to be controlled by Democrats.

While the political organization "Real Jobs NC" is quick to say it's not working to elect or defeat certain candidates -- in keeping with its federal tax designation -- it's clear the criticisms will help plow the ground for Republican hopefuls in state House and Senate races this fall.

State campaign finance records show the group intends to identify House Democrats in swing districts in future projects. GOP supporters believe the bad economy, higher state taxes and unhappiness with President Barack Obama give them a chance to win one or both chambers. Republicans haven't led the Senate since 1898.

"They are setting the state for a campaign to promote Republican candidates" and target some Democrats, said Bob Hall, executive director of the campaign finance reform group Democracy North Carolina. "They are hitting the key themes that the Republican Party is indicating will be [its] message."

Real Jobs NC was created in May as a so-called "527" group, named after the section of the federal tax code through which it's registered. The political group can receive unlimited contributions from businesses and individual donors and generate commercials and other campaign materials as long as it focuses on issues.

While a U.S. Supreme Court ruling this year now allows corporations to spend money to campaign directly on behalf of or against a candidate, 527 groups still have limits on activity. Candidates can be named in "electioneering communications" as long as they don't directly campaign for or against them.

"Real Jobs North Carolina is not partisan. We hope this message reaches all voters," said Art Pope, a Real Jobs NC leader and longtime Republican activist whose family company has given $100,000 to the effort. Personally, Pope said he believes "the Democratic parties at the national level and at the state level have in effect destroyed jobs."

The Republican State Leadership Committee, which works to elect GOP candidates at the state and local levels, gave $$00,000 to the group in June and July, according to a State Board of Elections report filed last week.

Another $100,000 came from, a Wilmington-based, conservative-leaning 527 political group whose leaders include two Republican lawmakers and Fred Eshelman, chairman of PPD, a contract research company. Eshelman is also listed as a director at Real Jobs NC.

Pope and his Variety Wholesalers Inc., which made the other sizable donation, are no strangers to political activism. Variety Wholesalers or Variety Stores, another Pope family business, gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to a 527 in the 2004 and 2006 election cycles to defeat what he called moderate Republican lawmakers he believed betrayed the party by working with Democrats.

The group's election board filing said it intends to spend $15,000 on materials that identify Democratic Reps. Hugh Holliman of Davidson County and Alice Underhill of Craven County. Both represent what are considered swing districts. Real Jobs NC also will use mailers and radio ads, said Roger Knight, an attorney for the group.

One Democratic leader took note of the corporate executives connected to those giving to the Real Jobs group in criticizing the effort.

"In our system, there will always be wealthy people who will try to buy elections with their money," said House Speaker Joe Hackney, D-Orange. Other 527s have been used to promote Democrats in the past.

"I sure hope Democrats will come forward and hopefully combat things like this," he said.

The Real Jobs effort comes as the state GOP and its legislative candidates have narrowed the gap with Democratic counterparts in fundraising. Although campaign reports through June 30 showed Senate Republican candidates essentially even with Democrats with cash on hand of more than $2 million each, House Democrats report having a more than 2-to-1 cash advantage over Republicans.

Mark Binker in the Greensboro News & Record recently deconstructed the negative claims in the Real Jobs NC mailers and found them wanting. He especially exploded the group's claim (for tax-exempt status under the IRS) that it's "non-partisan." Greg Flynn also did investigative reporting on the group and its principal benefactor Fred Eshelman, who is listed as "Director" and "President" of Real Jobs NC on its IRS filing form.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Colbert Takes Washington

Not sure which was actually funnier, Stephen Colbert's 5-min. statement this morning before the House Judiciary subcommittee on immigration ("I don't want a tomato picked by a Mexican. I want it picked by an American. And sliced by a Guatemalan, and served by a Venezuelan, in a spa, where a Chilean gives me a Brazilian.") ... or the looks on the faces of the Republican members of the committee, particularly Steve King (R-Iowa).

At one point Colbert requested that a video of his colonoscopy be submitted into the Congressional record. Congressman King at that moment looked as though he were having a colonoscopy, without benefit of fentanyl.

Despite his deadpan delivery as a blowhard Bill O'Reilly (but I repeat myself), Colbert's satire highlights the human cost of the mixed messages on our southern border: Stay Out! and Please Come Do Our Field Work!

GOP Takes the Pledge, But Guess Who Wasn't There

Apparently, the Foxx mug wasn't the "face of the Republican Party" that John Boehner wanted to highlight yesterday at the roll-out of "The Pledge to America."

Jon Stewart pointed out last night, in a segment titled "Postcards from the Pledge," the 21-page document is really just a collective sigh of exhaustion, an admission that Congressional Republicans have learned precisely nothing, that they are bankrupt of ideas, but that they all can wear open sports shirts on cue, and that's supposed to reassure us that they're "regular Americans."

Their Pledge seems to be laying a sizable egg, even with the audience it was designed to woo, the Tea Party:
"The first time you read it, it's like, 'Yeah, this is all right,' " Andrew Ian Dodge, a coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots in Maine, told a reporter for the Tribune Washington Bureau. "And then you read it again. And again. Every time you read it, it gets less satisfying. It's full of platitudes. It's almost a bit patronizing. There are all these words that tea party people like, but there's nothing concrete in it." ["Reheated Doo-Doo"]

Thursday, September 23, 2010

She's Frankin' Crazy

Franking numbers are in for the second quarter of 2010. (Massive hattip: J.L.) Franking is the "privilege" given to members of Congress to send unlimited mail (propaganda) to their constituents at no cost to themselves but at great cost to the taxpayers.

Virginia Foxx is our new sweepstakes winner, spending $103,912.64 on franking during the second quarter of 2010, pushing her career franking expenses over the $1 million mark ... $1,041,145.04, to be exact.

Year Quarter No. mailed Cost
2005 Q1 171,983 $34,093.03
2005 Q2 171,983 $34,039.03
2005 Q3 279,768 $55,791.00
2005 Q4 394,174 $77,107.70
2005 TOTAL 1,017,908 $201,030.76

2006 Q1 242,527 $49,895.86
2006 Q2 87,097 $16,045.58
2006 Q3 270,290 $55,586.00
2006 Q4 185,499 $38,177.33
2006 TOTAL 785,413 $159,704.77

2007 Q1 0 $0.00
2007 Q2 124,050 $25,435.00
2007 Q3 181,742 $45,733.12
2007 Q4 157,867 $33,438.10
2007 TOTAL 463,659 $104,606.22

2008 Q1 181,668 $39,783.24
2008 Q2 319,182 $78,424.74
2008 Q3 135,385 $47,671.54
2008 Q4 0 $0.00
2008 TOTAL 636,235 $165,879.52

2009 Q1 347,953 $70,145.00
2009 Q2 346,953 $80,094.89
2009 Q3 330,104 $78,712.24
2009 Q4 1,486,485 $77,059.00
2009 TOTAL 2,511,495 $306,011.13

2010 Q1 130,000 $0.00
2010 Q2 721,732 $103,912.64

Grand Totals 6,266,442 $1,041,145.04

The zero amount spent in the 4th Q of 2008 probably reflects the rule that Congress members are prohibited from sending out propaganda 90 days before an election (but we don't exactly understand why that didn't also apply in the 4th Q of 2006). You might notice that Foxx reported 130,000 pieces of mail sent in the 1st Q of 2010, with no cost reported for that. That's exactly what her reports say, but Congress members are allowed to amend their franking reports, and we expect an amendment to be made, eventually, to that quarter's report.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Weighed and Found Wanting?

Guest blogging: Hayes McNeill

Many, maybe most, of our choices for political office must boil down to "character." Since none of us can know exactly the problems with which our elected representatives will have to struggle, we must select our representatives based on what we know, or can perceive, of their characters. After all, this is how we evaluate car salesmen or surgeons, correct? This is certainly how the experts tell us we cast our presidential ballots: "personally."

So maybe our votes this November should be similarly based -- from School Board on up. For example, let us consider our incumbent 5th District Representative Foxx. What do we know that informs about her character? Her biography gives us a few basics: she was born Virginia Ann Palmieri in New York during WWII. She has stated publicly that she grew up poor. We know that 40 years ago she enrolled in our University system, that she did her academic work in Education, that she eventually headed a small community college, that from there she moved on the NC Senate, and that, after a contentious primary with Vernon Robinson, she was elected to the Congressional seat given up by Richard Burr, and before him, given up by Steve Neal.

Now, after three terms in Congress, her voting record reveals more details of her character and testifies about what to expect should she be reelected. She has voted consistently against education at all levels, against programs to help the poor and those struggling with unemployment, against all varieties of health-care reform, against clean air and water protection, and against helping Katrina victims and 9/11 first responders. So what, then, has she been for? She has been consistent in her support of the insurance companies, the credit card companies, the big banks and big oil. Despite inveighing against Wasteful Spending, she has voted for pork projects like the infamous "bridge to nowhere" and the Teapot Museum.

The companies and groups she has supported have returned her favors with generous campaign contributions, providing her with millions which insulate her from 5th District voters: she does not have to come home to the district to explain herself in open forums such as colleges and universities or town meetings, nor does she interact with voters except in tightly controlled, safely photo-friendly opportunities. She has instead preferred to deluge 5th District postal patrons with a ton of political junk mail sent at taxpayer expense -- more than any other NC Representative -- full of red flags cunningly designed to distract us from the fact that her votes do not represent the values held by most of us in the district. What would Thomas Jefferson say about a Congressperson who raised more than a million dollars from sources outside the district and who seemed afraid to face the voters to explain and defend her record?

Whether or not Virginia Ann Palmieri Foxx has a good character is obscured by this isolation from 5th District voters: we cannot judge character by the activities of her dozen-and-a-half staffers or from the slick junk mail she hides behind. We can only judge her motivations by what we can discern of her character. Just like that car salesman who wants us to buy the hot car or that high-priced surgeon who can make us better for sure. We must decide.

This year, many voters are taking a longer, historical view of politics. This evaluation means that Character Matters. It is only fair then to consider that 150 years ago, when citizens thought a lot more about sin than we do nowadays, character was much on the public mind. Emerson marveled that "people seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of their character." As to the poor and the unemployed in this historical context, it was Abraham Lincoln who reminded us that "you cannot build character by taking away man's initiative and independence."

Those public servants we revere, those whose examples we hold up to our children, are the ones whose political careers illustrate good character and who represented the best in us as citizens and as Americans. If there are those who would so memorialize Ms Foxx, they are unknown to me.

It is true that all of us are flawed, that we all fall short. In the historical view, sin was held to be inevitable, in public affairs as well as in private life. But previous generations did consider the kinds and degrees of sin. One of our greatest writers pondered the Unpardonable Sin -- the sin so bad that it could not be forgiven. Hawthorne concluded that it was not lust, or even murder, but rather Hardness of Heart. It's difficult for me not to see that this is this sin of which Ms Foxx -- by her actions -- stands guilty.

The Rotten Fruit of Dan Soucek

Just received from a Wilkes County correspondent:
I am fuming mad. I just received a call from a group which identified itself as "Southern Outreach" saying they were doing a research poll and asked whom I would be supporting for NC State Senate. When I indicated I'd be voting for Steve Goss, the canned call went on to go through three disgusting questions beginning with, "IF you knew that Steve Goss did..." and stated a bunch of ridiculous nonsense that could negatively influence people uninformed enough to know how much good Goss has done for our county, district, and state. At the end, the caller said the so-called "survey" was paid for by the North Carolina Republican Executive Committee.

If, indeed, the NC Republican Executive Committee sponsored these grossly misleading calls (and I hesitate to believe anything the "robo"-caller said), then the NCREC should be ashamed and apologize both publicly and to every individual who received this stupidly unfair piece of propaganda insulting our superb public servant, Senator Steve Goss.

Ultimately, Dan Soucek bears the blame for this kind of smear, because ultimately Dan Soucek stands to benefit from it.

"Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?"
Matt. 7:16

Monday, September 20, 2010

President Dilly-Dally

The fact that they're still discussing this, instead of just doing it, is only one of many indications of the over-riding problem we've got at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Russ Feingold: Finally, a Democrat with Some Balls!

As Congressional candidate Billy Kennedy said back in February in a Crooks & Liars live-chat, "I believe corporations should be able to participate in our elections when they can produce their birth certificates."

He was responding to a question about Citizens United v. FEC, decided by the Roberts Court in September 2009, which granted full "human citizenship" to corporations, or more specifically, the right to give unlimited contributions in favor of, or in opposition to, a candidate in a political race. Got that? Unlimited contributions.

Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) has spoken out against Citizens United as essentially "a lawless decision." Corporations are not "the same as us," Feingold said in a speech last week. "They do not have the same rights as all of us. And that decision is wrong on the law, and wrong for America, and an enormous danger for the political process."
Without naming any names, Feingold said that George W. Bush's Supreme Court nominees "came before the Judiciary Committee and promised me, under oath, that they would follow precedent, that they would be neutral umpires calling balls and strikes. Well, of course, they did the opposite."

He was talking obviously about John Roberts and Samuel Alito. Yeah, we got that.

A little history:
Said Feingold: "These people who pledged to follow precedent overturned a law signed by Teddy Roosevelt in 1907, proposed and backed by Fighting Bob La Follette. And it's been the law of the land for 100 years that corporations cannot use their treasuries to directly impact elections."

The full text of Feingold's speech can be read at the last link above.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Who's In?

Dueling D.C. rallies/marches on Oct. 30th ... Jon Stewart's "Rally to Restore Sanity" (a.k.a., "Million Moderate March") or Stephen Colbert's rival "March to Keep Fear Alive."

This just may be the ONLY place to be on October 30th.

First one to organize a bus from Watauga County will get ... let's see ... something moderately frightful, just in time for Halloween.

Friday, September 17, 2010

How to Avoid Awkward Social Situations

Don't show up.

Buried deep, deep in the article about Nat'l GOP Chair Michael Steele's visit to North Carolina GOP headquarters yesterday in Raleigh is this line:
"State GOP Chairman Tom Fetzer was not on hand for Steele's visit."


Thursday, September 16, 2010

News From the NC-11

I carry no torch for Heath Shuler. That ought to be clear by now. He allied himself very quickly in Mugstomp-on-the-Potomac with the blue dogs, which gave us a good case of dyspepsia, but luckily (we said under our breath), he's somebody else's congressman, and we don't have to deal with that reelection campaign.

Besides, we have our own burden to bear with that Vixen of Vexation Virginia Foxx (who, incidentally, was recently named "meanest" member of Congress in a poll of those who know her best, senior Hill staffers. She also came in third for "Most Clueless" member of Congress, right behind Michele Bachmann and Democrat Hank Johnson of Georgia -- speaking of somebody else's problem for reelection!).

Anyhoo, back to Heath Shuler, for whom we have some difficulty rousing our partisan enthusiasm. Our friend and Asheville blogger (not to mention new member of the Asheville City Council) Gordon Smith writes persuasively that Shuler deserves some love, that he votes with the Dems in Congress slightly over 80% of the time (I take Gordon's word for it), and that he's definitely better than the alternative, one Jeff Miller, a Hendersonville dry cleaner who (by the way) attended Appalachian State University.

As always, my daily essential reading at Scrutiny Hooligans (Gordon's crib) has some pretty good local intel about Jeff Miller's problem with an Asheville Tea Party group, which apparently thinks he's waaay too moderate to suit their tastes. So, apparently in retaliation, some Hendersonville Republicans, who take their tea intravenously straight from Glenn Beck, formed their own PAC to help Miller, and there's just a whole lotta drama swirling in the NC-11 GOP.

Which helps Heath Shuler. And I reckon I'm cool with dat, given Gordon Smith's testimonial.

The Huckster Hoaxed

Imagine! Rush Limbaugh broadcast totally fabricated information Tuesday. In fact, he devoted considerable time to something fake that he took off Wikipedia, and when called out on it, his spokesweenie denied that it came from Wikipedia, making up a supposed "story" in a Pensacola newspaper that was -- turns out -- never written and never published.

A normal person might be embarrassed about that.

My mama always said, "Beware the man who can't be embarrassed."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Judicial Free-for-All for the Wynn Seat on Court of Appeals

When Judge James A. Wynn of the NC Court of Appeals got confirmed for the U.S. 4th Circuit, his vacated seat on the NC court (under existing law) set off a kind of land-rush, with NO time for a primary to winnow out the (count 'em) 13 individuals running. Plus this particular election will feature the "instant run-off," with all of us actually voting this fall for our 1st, 2nd, and (if you so desire) 3rd choices for the seat. If no candidate gets a majority of 1st choices, then the two candidates with the most 1st choices go into an instant run-off, and if you didn't chose either of them for your 1st, 2nd, or 3rd choice, you're out of the voting.

But check out the 13 ... which we're just beginning to research. Go here and click on "Download the 2010 Special Edition Judicial Voter Guide" to get the Pdf file.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Strong Men Don't Compromise

Peggy (her real name) was a Republican who supported Barack Obama in 2008, disillusioned, as she was, "with her beloved W. over Iraq and Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and the disdain for bipartisanship." She pretty much sums up the feelings of a lot of Democrats:
...she thinks Obama has to get "a backbone" if he wants to lure her back to the fold. "He promised us everything, saying he would turn the country around, and he did nothing the first year," Peggy says. "He piddled around when he had 60 votes. He could have pushed through the health care bill but spent months haggling on it because he wanted to bring some Republicans on board. He was trying too hard to compromise when he didn't need the Republicans and they were never going to like him. Any idiot could see that.

"He could have gotten it through while Teddy Kennedy was still alive -- he owed the Kennedys something -- and then the bill was watered down....

Peggy is columnist Maureen Dowd's sister, featured in her column today, "When Peggy Left Barry."

Dear Tom Fetzer: A Lesson in How to Air-Kiss

In the interests of better social relations, we offer this tiny piece of instruction to NC GOP Chair Tom Fetzer.

Fetzer will have to make nice with Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele on Thursday this week when Steele schlumps into the Tar Heel State to promote his "Fire Pelosi Bus Tour." In April Fetzer publicly told Michael Steele to RESIGN OR DIE for the sake of the Party, which Steele decided not to do.

"I believe that the best service you can render to your party at this critical juncture is to graciously step aside and allow the party to move on from this current quagmire," Fetzer wrote Steele (and immediately leaked the letter to the press). The "quagmire" he was referring to involved (take your pick) a $2,000 charge at a sex-themed nightclub in Los Angeles featuring simulated lesbian sex acts or the $1,000 purchase from jeweler Tiffany & Co. for "major donor" swag or the $18,361 paid to the Tiny Jewel Box, a Washington, D.C., jewelry store, for "office supplies" or any one of several thousand bone-head public utterances that Steele graced the airwaves with over several months of truly breath-taking ineptitude.

So on Thursday, will it all be kiss-kiss or will the grinding of teeth be heard in the land?

Monday, September 13, 2010

From yesterday's Tea Party rally in Washington, D.C.

And a Skateboarder Shall Thwart Them

I'm from near Amarillo, Texas. It of course filled my heart with native pride to read that a group of Amarillo fundamentalists calling themselves "Repent Amarillo" ("which aims to deter promiscuity, homosexuality and non-Christian worship practices through confrontation and prayer" ... heavy emphasis on confrontation) had intended to get in on the "Burn a Quran and Get National Fox News Attention."

This is, after all, where I'm from, only about 70 miles to the south-southeast of Amarillo, and one likes to see one's native land doing proud things in the light of day. When I was growing up, though, Amarillo was considered a liberal hell-hole. Still is, obviously.

The whole "Repent Amarillo" book-burning moment was ended abruptly, however, when a skateboarder snatched up the Quran and someone else snatched the would-be book-burner's lighter and even more anti-book burners covered the charcoal grill intended for book-burning with their hands before anything could be ignited, and the director of "Repent Amarillo" was left holding just a can of lighter fluid.

The Amarillo Daily News has the full story.

The heroic skateboarder turned the previously doomed Quran over to a religious leader from the Islamic Center of Amarillo. That's the skateboarder (shirtless, natch!) in the photo, along with the local imam who is holding the rescued tome.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pity the Poor Rich!

Billionaires are DEPRESSED, sez John Melloy, Executive Producer of CNBC's "Fast Money." So what are the super-rich spending their bucks on? Vacant office buildings, farmland, and ... wait for it! ... Africa.

As you know, ah, you face the country's future with the rich assholes you have -- not the rich assholes you might want or wish to have at a later time.

Friday, September 10, 2010

What Would Jesus Bomb?

According to Justin Carl Moose, 26, of Concord, NC, Jesus would bomb Planned Parenthood.

Moose is a self-described "extremist, radical" and the "Christian counterpart of Osama bin Laden." The FBI arrested Moose in Concord this past Tuesday in what is described as "a sting operation." Apparently, he had been posting tips on bomb-making and threats against Planned Parenthood on his Facebook page and had "collaborated last week with a confidential informant to plan the bombing of an abortion clinic in North Carolina."

From the Charlotte Observer:
According to the FBI affidavit, Moose advocated violence for a variety of causes and communicated with like-minded abortion opponents online.

Moose's Facebook page, which was still public Thursday [but NOT today, far as we can find], contained posts expressing anger at abortion doctors, President Barack Obama's health care plan, and plans to build a mosque near ground zero in New York City. It also included expressions of support for those who have killed abortion providers.

"Whatever you may think about me, you're probably right," he wrote on his Facebook page, according to the affidavit.

"Extremist, Radical, Fundamentalist...? Yep! Terrorist...? Well, I prefer the term 'freedom Fighter.' " ...

"There are few problems in life that can't be solved with the proper application of high explosives :)" Moose wrote two months [after President Obama's health care plan was approved in March]....

There's a lot more, including the NewChannel36 live footage showing the Tea Party "Don't Tread on Me" flag flying over Moose's home.

Fox News must be so proud. Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich too.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Billy Kennedy Live-Blogging at PHB Monday

Fifth District Congressional candidate Billy Kennedy will be live-blogging at Pam's House Blend this coming Monday, 8 p.m.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Soucek Wants To Tax Coal-Fired Power Plants?

The astroturf group Americans for the Prosperous, which wants to free up rich people and corporations from any vestige of the social contract, sent out their no-tax pledge questionnaire to all the candidates in the state House and Senate, and since AFP is essentially a Republican front anyway, only Republican candidates answered the questionnaire.

Jonathan Jordan, the Ashe County creep running against Cullie Tarleton, naturally answered all the AFP questions in the affirmative -- no surprise there -- but Dan Soucek's responses are far more interesting because Soucek refused to sign on to three of AFP's boilerplate positions. Two of those have to do with AFP's lust to amend the state's constitution, and the other one is a pledge not to vote for any tax related to climate change.

Hmmm. Just what is Soucek doing in that closet?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Real Jobs NC & the Big Lie

"If you tell a lie that's big enough, and you tell it often enough, people will believe you are telling the truth, even when what you are saying is total crap."
--Richard Belzer, "UFOs, JFK, and Elvis: Conspiracies You Don't Have To Be Crazy To Believe"

The all-out, big-bucks assault on Sen. Steve Goss and Rep. Cullie Tarleton by the Eshelman-Pope smear machine alleges that Goss and Tarleton are tax-and-spend liberals who are bad for business, among additional total crap.

The Wilmington Star News editorialized yesterday about the Eshelman-Pope Big Lie:
The website for Real Jobs NC, which is seeking to toss out alleged Democratic spendthrifts and replace them with virtuous Republicans, declares that "North Carolina is currently rated as having one of the worst tax environments for business in the Southeast."

You've heard similar statements before. Stated as gospel, they suggest that North Carolina's tax policies practically drive off honest businesses.

If that's so, why has Site Selection magazine -- whose subscribers are corporate executives who make decisions about where to locate plants -- ranked North Carolina at or near the top of the list of states with the best business climate for nine years running? We must be doing something right....

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Foxx Voted Against Another Jobs Bill

On July 21st, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the United States Manufacturing Enhancement Act of 2010 on a vote of 378 to 43. Guess which tiny minority Congresswoman Virginia Foxx allied herself to?

The bill was specifically designed to ease tariff restrictions on North Carolina textile makers. That sector of our industrial economy has lost some 163,000 jobs since 2005, and about one in five of those losses occurred in North Carolina. Many provisions in this law were written by Republicans Howard Coble and Richard Burr of North Carolina, specifically to help the textile jobs situation in the state. And according to this McClatchy article, textile companies did immediately begin rehiring laid-off workers based on it.

Most Republican lawmakers supported the bill. All members of the North Carolina delegation of both parties voted for it ... except for Madam Foxx.

A major piece (but little noticed) piece of legislation that helped the unemployment problem in North Carolina, and out of some warped sense of conservative ideology, Madam Foxx voted (again) against her own constituents.

Totally in keeping with Foxx's grades on help for the middle-class:
2009 F
2008 F
2007 F
2006 F
2005 F

Foxx & Ryan, Sitting in a Tree

The most conservative Republicans in the U.S. Congress love themselves some Paul Ryan! He's the five-term congressman from Wisconsin who has written what passes for a current platform for conservative Republicans, "The Roadmap for America's Future," which calls for the privatization of Social Security and the elimination of Medicare (among other sunny concepts that would further consolidate the power of corporations and the rich). Mr. Ryan describes himself on his own website as "Waiting in the Wings to Be Chief G.O.P. Dealmaker." Such modesty! To go with quite the vision for the future.

This a.m. on Fox News Sunday, Sen. John McCain (now that he's safely through his primary) refused to endorse the Paul Ryan roadmap.

No so Madam Virginia Foxx. She's very clearly endorsed the Ryan "roadmap." She's always hated the idea of Social Security (and positively DESPISES Medicare). In her 1st term in Washington, at a meeting in Watauga County, she called Social Security "a broken system":
People have become too dependent on Social Security as their sole source of income after retirement, Foxx said, adding that President George W. Bush feels people should take responsibility for themselves and plan ahead, rather than rely solely on Social Security. [Watauga Democrat, March 28, 2005]

She's gotten a lot cagier about admitting her philosophical attitudes in public. When directly asked where she stood on Ryan's "roadmap," she called the cops on the reporter who asked.

Any of This Sound Familiar?

Liberals, some women's groups, and a few big-city newspapers all supported it.

The opposition said it was Big Government taking over the lives of ordinary people, and "if they can do this, they can do anything they want to us!"

Business leaders said it would hurt business.

Most churches opposed it, saying it would destroy the traditional family.

A candidate for governor of North Carolina said it was socialism, pure and simple.

What was it? The 19th Amendment to the Constitution granting women the right to vote.

Rob Christensen has his Way-Back Machine set for 1920 in his column in today's News&Observer. The showdown battle for women's right to vote landed in North Carolina in August 1920. We were potentially the 36th state to ratify the amendment. But we did not. The arguments presented above won the day (along with race fear, natch!), and it was Tennessee that had the distinction eventually of providing the ratification vote that granted women the right to participate in elections across this country.

Mixed in with the reactionary rhetoric summarized above was a good deal of open and frank racism. NC Congressman Edwin Yates Webb worried that the so-called "Susan B. Anthony Amendment" would "enfranchise 110,000 Negro women of North Carolina for the sake of letting a few active agitating white women in spots throughout North Carolina have the right to vote."

Mr. Webb was a Democrat. In fact, most of the opposition to women's suffrage came from the old Democratic machine in NC, because the old Democratic machine was reactionary and conservative to the core.

The core of that core of the old party switched to Republican along about Lyndon B. Johnson's time and are still providing the same screwy conservative and reactionary talking points about _______________ (fill in that blank however you wish. There are plenty of examples), when ______________ would advance equal rights, equal justice, or equal treatment for everyone.

North Carolina did not actually endorse/ratify the 19th Amendment until 1971.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Must Be an Election Year

So Congresswoman Virginia Foxx sends out her spokesman Aaron Groen yesterday, and Mr. Groen sez that The Madam is opposed -- opposed -- to amending the Constitution to eliminate the problem of "anchor babies," that is, the automatic granting of citizenship to babies of "illegals" born in the USA.

The Madam just went off the conservative and tea party reservation.

The big old movement among tea partiers and the most conservative Republicans is to amend the 14th Amendment, which grants citizenship to any human being born within its borders, and thus eliminate the whole issue of "anchor babies." Mr. Groen sez that The Madam prefers "a legislative fix," which would be H.R.1868, we reckon, written to limit "birthright citizenship" to those babies who have at least one parent who's a legal resident. How would such a law pass constitutional muster? It wouldn't. Amending the Constitution is the only way to achieve the purge that Foxx supporters -- and Foxx herself, on numerous occasions -- have called for. Foxx's most recent tele-townhall was chock-a-block full of anti-immigrant rhetoric, much of it coming from Foxx's supporters, all of which she readily agreed with.

So this is just political tacking in order to sound just slightly less mean than she actually is.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

"Purely Coincidental"

Mark Binker in the Greensboro News & Record digs a little deeper into the 527 group, Real Jobs NC, that is targeting Cullie Tarleton. Binker's article focuses on another target of those Art Pope/Fred Eshelman big bucks, Hugh Holliman of Lexington, but the attack on Tarleton is pretty much identical, far as we can tell.

They claim they're "non-partisan," of course, which is just a plain lie on the face of it. They are tools of the North Carolina Republican Party, or to put it a little more accurately, the North Carolina Republican Party is a tool of these fat cats, who intend to return this state to their back pockets.