Saturday, October 30, 2010

Rally to Restore Sanity

Quite the crowd on the Mall today. Several Watauga Countians are in that crowd.

We were tickled to see that this Amarillo skate-boarding guy, Jacob Isom, received one of Jon Stewart's medals for reasonableness.

Fighting the Machine

Robo call just now from "Americans for Tax Reform," urging me to vote for "David Soucek" because Steve Goss wants to raise my taxes.

Americans for Tax Reform is just one part of the cyborg army unleashed by corporate America (thanks again, Supreme Court!) to take over government at every level. I don't think they mean the humans well.

Two observations about the robo call: (1) Americans for Tax Reform don't even know the actual name of the candidate they're promoting for election, because "David" and/or Dan Soucek doesn't actually matter to them. The pro-corporate chip was implanted in his brain, and he'll do what he's told, no matter what you call him. (2) Americans for Tax Reform would appear, just from the name they've chosen for themselves, to be concerned about waste. Yet they spend their money calling someone who voted on October 14. A better use of money might have bought them better targeting for their robo call. Everyone else I've heard from this a.m. who got this robo call has also already voted. Maybe this group should change its name to "Americans Who Waste Money Because They've Got So Damn Much of It."

The Cyborg Menace
Headline just this a.m. in the Raleigh News & Observer: "Secret donor money floods 4 N.C. races." The gist? "An unprecedented wave of money from conservative groups with anonymous donors has swept into four North Carolina congressional races and helped lift Republican challengers into competitive positions against incumbents..."

A glance at the October campaign finance report filed by our favorite empty shirt, "David" Soucek, shows that he's awfully popular with the Big Bucks Crowd. He's raised right at $200,000 from PACs, only $63,623 from individuals, and the NC Republican Executive Committee, author of the notorious black-criminals-moving-in-next-door-to-granny mailers, has contributed over $203,000 to Soucek for "in-kind" contributions, meaning that Fetzer & Co. paid for the printing and mailing of all those pieces of glossy scum.

We'll know Tuesday night whether the cyborgs have won. And if they have, we'll be building the Resistance come Wednesday morning.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The NC GOP, Building for Tomorrow

The GOP is running illegal television advertisements for candidate Dan Soucek according to 3rd Quarter finance reports filed with the State Board of Election earlier this week.

The latest financial disclosures show that the North Carolina Republican Party has purchased at least $1 million in television air time, including $73,670 for Soucek, through the media buying firm American Media & Advocacy. However, the ads being run do not bear a "Paid for by the North Carolina Republican Party" disclaimer. Instead, they claim to be paid for by the candidate, violating election law and subjecting the GOP to possible criminal charges.

The Republican candidates who have benefited from the illegal ads may be held personally liable for monetary damages under North Carolina Election law.

"Disclaimer and disclosure laws exist for a reason, and the Republican Party knowingly and flagrantly violated those laws," said North Carolina Democratic Party Executive Director Andrew Whalen. "They have illegally purchased air time across the state in an attempt to cheat television stations and mislead voters. North Carolina law provides for criminal and civil penalties for their actions, and we plan on pursuing all those options."

By fraudulently purchasing the ads and using a candidate disclaimer, the Republican Party was able to attain a cheaper advertising rate reserved for political candidates.

"The simple fact is that the GOP knew they were purchasing this air time, not the candidates. They knowingly broke the law, and we are actively seeking recourse through every available means to prevent these illegal ads from being run," Whalen continued.

As the Republican Party was not entitled to the candidate advertising rate, the rate discount currently stands as an illegal corporate contribution to the GOP from the television stations.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Heath Shuler's Got the Big Head

When pressed in a debate about Nancy Pelosi by his Republican challenger Jeff Miller, Heath Shuler yesterday said he'd be voting for himself to be Speaker of the House in the 112th Congress.

"I can do as good a job as anybody in the U.S. Congress because I can actually bring people together. I can bring people together to the table to talk about the issues and not about the political structure and that's what's destroying the whole process in Washington – the politics," said Shuler.

Shoot! And here we were thinking that it was ego destroying the process.

'Bout Time

Andrew Whalen, executive director of the NC Democratic Party, is calling on fellow Dems to boycott Roses, Maxway, Super Dollar, Value Mart, and Super 10 Stores in North Carolina -- the cash cows that are fueling Art Pope's attempted take-over of state government (which has included -- natch! -- the wholesale trashing of two dedicated and decent local public servants, Steve Goss and Cullie Tarleton).

If you're offended by the lies and distortions, why give more money to the Father of those lies?

A map with the locations of all Mr. Pope's NC stores is here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wilkes County, yesterday.

Goss supporters greet the out-of-state bus tour of Americans for the Prosperous.

One sign reads: "Free Bus Ride - Next Stop: The End of Democracy."

The bright yellow sign reads: "Who Is Behind the Bus? Corporate Billionaire$ from out of state. Do you think they care about Wilkes County?"
Yesterday in Wilkes County ... Steve Goss supporters talking it over with a group of outside agitators (Americans for the Prosperous) trying to pump up the candidacy of Dan Soucek and other lackeys for millionaires.

All in all, the big bus tour to rev up tea partiers didn't fare that well in Wilkes and Watauga.

Soucek Sez Some Ads Favoring Him Went "Over the Line"

Read Dan Soucek's deer-in-the-headlights defense of the nastiness and the money expended by his millionaire friends down-state to help him defeat Sen. Steve Goss ... in the Wilkes Journal-Patriot.

Tom Fetzer, chair of the NC GOP, already apologized to another member of the General Assembly who was attacked by the same untrue and racist mailing about the black rapist moving in next door to granny ... a mailing which Soucek deems to be "subject to interpretation," which is about as weak a defense of the indefensible as we've seen since the head-stomping Rand Paul supporter demanded that the woman whose head he stomped apologize to him for the attack.

The kind of people the Tea (Republican) Party and their millionaire puppet-masters want to put into office!
Today, on the Appalachian State University campus.

Marie Antoinette in a Three-Piece Suit

David Hoyle, the former Democratic state senator from Gaston County whom many progressive Democrats loved to hate, became Gov. Perdue's Secretary of Revenue on Monday, the man in charge of collecting taxes.

He's also a man well known for his solicitous attitude toward the richest in the state.

According to an editorial in the Winston-Salem Journal, when jokingly asked "whether he would even collect any taxes from businesses and the rich," Hoyle jokingly responded, "God bless the rich; the poor can beg." The Journal editorial added, "He has made similar remarks before."

Marie Antoinette was also laughing out loud, reportedly, when she was told there was no bread for the masses: "Well let them eat cake." Sometimes a joke is an open window to inner character.

Worst appointment Bev Perdue has made.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Gerald Richardson (April 16, 1947 - October 22, 2010)

Guest Blogging: Mike D.

Friday night, the world lost a truly remarkable, wonderful soul. Known to the WataugaWatch community as "Stumpy," Gerry was a man who knew no enemies. Friends describe him as generous, straightforward, inspiring, tireless, a true intellectual, astute, possessed of a driving spirit and a good, firm, honest handshake.

When Multiple Sclerosis began to inhibit Gerry's physical mobility, he refused to slow down. He became active in the Watauga County Democratic Party, attending executive committee meetings, encouraging others to meet their own challenges, and passing along ideas that inspired friends to stride proudly toward their goals. In spite of the physical challenges he faced, Gerry volunteered his time at the Hospitality House, helping others and refusing to allow his condition to rule his life. No matter what Gerry's situation was, he always found his smile. He always found the time and energy to make someone else's life better.

When he wasn't out in the community helping others, Gerry was at his computer. It became his interface to the world as his physical mobility declined, and boy, did he ever use it! He was tech-savvy and hard-wired to the internet, participating in all kinds of online communities, from WataugaWatch to DailyKos to World of Warcraft. Yes, he was even a video gamer. If only our young gaming friends knew that they were playing with a guy in his 60s!

Gerry, you didn't want personal recognition. You didn't seek accolades. You just wanted to help improve the lives of those you touched. If all of us tried to be just a little more like you, this world would be a better place.

We will always remember you. Rest well, brother.

ASU Candidate Forum

At the Appalachian State University candidate forum last night, it was standing-room-only for head-to-heads between Cullie Tarleton/Jonathan Jordan and Steve Goss/Dan Soucek. When his turn came, congressional candidate Billy Kennedy had the forum to himself because Virginia Foxx didn't show up.

Observers agreed that the Goss/Soucek match-up was the main event.

On the topic of the war in Afghanistan, which evolved into a discussion on support for the troops, Soucek said: "I think it's quite clear which party has supported the soldiers and which has protested." That comment drew lots of boos and outrage from the audience. At Goss's next opportunity for reply, he said: "I think we probably ought to pray instead of holding a forum."

On state budgeting and priorities, Soucek said education is a top priority, but then when asked where he'd cut the state budget, he suggested eliminating the Golden Leaf Foundation, which he said would save $570 million. Which we reckon would make the $150,000 grant from the Golden Leaf Foundation for laptops for Watauga High School students just more needless pork.

We've also got to stop things like that tea pot museum, he said. "I would suggest you talk to your own folks about the tea pot museum," Goss said. "I didn't have anything to do with that." The proposed Tea Pot Museum was, of course, Virginia Foxx's big ear-mark.

Best Goss line: "We've got to stop throwing rocks, folks. Any moron can throw rocks and identify problems all day long."

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Sin of Omission

Nicely printed cards listing Republican candidates for office were being passed out on the ASU campus today.

Missing from the list ... Virginia Foxx.

Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword

This is rich. Fred Eshelman, one of the millionaires funding the attacks on Steve Goss and Cullie Tarleton, also happens to be on the Board of Trustees at UNC-Wilmington, and he's quoted in the Wilmington Star News now worrying that a new General Assembly in Raleigh might "slash and burn" their way through the state budget next year. (Hattip: Chris Fitzsimon)

'Course, having lots of money and plenty of influence with the projected new Republican members of the General Assembly gives Mr. Eshelman ideas about that: "He said the period between the election and the new session may be the time for trustees to make in-roads to convince decision makers about UNCW's importance."

Riiight. If you can buy an election, Mr. Eshelman, you can certainly buy a little special treatment for UNCW.

Hope you Tea Partiers are paying good attention to the kind of crack addicts you're helping put into power.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Morning Wake Up

The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina has forced out the editor (since 2007) of its bi-weekly newspaper, The Baptist Recorder ... one Norman Jameson. The increasingly conservative denomination was increasingly unhappy with Jameson's writing mainly -- it appears -- because he was increasingly a voice of skepticism about "the creeping Calvinism" that is taking over in Baptist theological training and the movement to purge "unregenerate" Baptists from church rolls.

You can read a sample Jameson editorial here, one particularly aimed at that "creeping Calvinism" mentioned above. It's good writing. Offers insight, too, into those denominational cross-currents that were riling us up even back in the early 1960s when I was a student in a Baptist college in Texas. There's nothing much new under the doctrinal sun.

One of Jameson's targets for criticism was Al Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, whose various hair-brain preachments recently included the dangers that yoga offers your immortal soul and the suggestion that, if indeed homosexuality turns out to be a predetermined genetic predisposition, then maybe future homosexuals can be "cured" in the womb.

The North Carolina Baptist empire is certainly safer this morning for the viewpoints of Al Mohler.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The New Virginia Foxx Narrative on Health Care

The first time we heard Foxx come out with this bit of "history" about health care in America was at the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce candidate forum. Then she repeated it word for word last night in Sparta at a candidate forum up there. It goes like this.
I was so poor growing up [that we had to eat dust bunnies that we swept out from under the bed] but back then we all had health care. Health care only became unavailable and too expensive after Medicare was legislated in the 1960s.

Yeah, right.

I grew up poor too (those dust bunnies aren't bad if you have a few carrots and some cornbread stuffing!) in probably an even more rural landscape, and we did not have health care beyond what our mothers could conjure up out of Vaseline and a little coal oil. There was no doctor in our community, no clinic, no nurses, nothing. Which is why so many farmers were visibly maimed by scars and breaks and lost limbs. Stepping on a rusty nail in that country was about as dangerous as snakebite, because you probably weren't going to reach a doctor with a hypodermic before tetanus set in.

Foxx's rosy "everything was fine before there was a social safety net" is just so much buffalo dust.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dan Soucek's Incredibly Shrinking "Small Business"

NC Senate candidate Dan Soucek himself is the one who made an issue out of his supposed "small business." He has included "small businessman" as a self-descriptor on his campaign website and in his campaign "Bio" on YouTube and in TV ads, perhaps because he feels he needed to pump up his qualifications for high office. The "small businessman" moniker has been picked up as a key descriptor for Soucek far and wide, from the N.C. Republican Majority to a letter to the editor in the High Country Press to the Burlington Press “” site.

Take a look at Soucek's financial disclosure statement ("Statement of Economic Interest"), which he was required to file under new state government ethics laws. See anything odd?

Under 6(a), Soucek answered "No" and "None" to this question:
"Do you, your spouse, or members of your immediate family have financial interests valued at $10,000 or more in a non-publicly owned company or business entity (including interests in partnerships, limited partnerships, joint ventures, limited liability companies, limited liability partnerships, and closely held corporations?"

The triggering threshold of $10,000 of value may be the key here. But later in the same form, under question 10, "List the name of each source of income ... of more than $5,000," Soucek listed "Double D Disposal" and "cash" as the type of income. He was not required to list specific amounts.

The inescapable conclusion, then, about the "small business" which Soucek thinks especially qualifies him for the NC 45th Dist. Senate seat is that he made between $5,000 and $10,000 in cash from it in 2009.

When You Have No Friends But a Lot of Money, What Do You Buy?

Info from Virginia Foxx's official record of disbursements filed with the Federal Elections Commission:
8/3/2010 ... $10,000, given to the NC Republican Senate Caucus

9/22/2010 ... $5,000, given to the NC Republican Senate Caucus

9/24/2010 ... $4,000, given to the House Conservatives Fund

9/28/2010 ... $25,000, given to the National Republican Congressional Committee

She Can't See the Profits for the Political Shill

Congresswoman Virginia Foxx's Tweet on Oct. 19:
Boeing Profits report for 3Q 2010 posted on Oct. 20:
Boeing tops 3Q forecasts as it sells more planes
By JOSHUA FREED / AP Business Writer • Published October 20, 2010
MINNEAPOLIS -- Boeing posted an $837 million third-quarter profit on Wednesday and raised its profit guidance for the full year as it sold more commercial airplanes.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Oh, Shut Up

Republican state party chair Tom Fetzer, who sent out the same mailer used against Cullie Tarleton in at least five other state House districts, has apologized to another of those targeted Democrats, Rep. Hugh Holliman of Davidson County. As with the mailers sent out in Watauga and Ashe counties, the Holliman mailer suggested that the representative wanted convicted death-row murderers released from prison and that those released felons were very likely to move in next door to YOU.

Holliman's 16-year-old daughter was raped and murdered in 1985, and Holliman witnessed the execution of his daughter's killer. Plus he has repeatedly said he supports the death penalty.

Fetzer, who learned his racial politics at the knees of his mentor Jesse Helms, said he is looking into the possibility of a retraction. A retraction. Yeah, like you can unring that bell.

"I am responsible for everything that goes out under the party's name," Fetzer said. "But I did not see the mailer before yesterday. We send out hundreds of thousands of pieces of mail. I don't see everything but I am responsible for it. I will look into it. If it turns out to be less than accurate we will take corrective action."

We're holding our breath and expect to turn blue.

Quite the brave dodge there, Mr. Fetzer. "I never saw it. Someone working for me did it. We'll likely find someone to fire, maybe, if the sea catches fire."

And not a word about the others you libeled.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Art Pope Has Not Yet Reached the Bottom of His Particular Barrell

Part of yet another libel, this one put out by another tentacle of the Art Pope octopus called "Civitas Action."

About the image of Cullie Tarleton used here, I get this message from the professional photographer who took the original pic:

"I took the picture of Cullie April 14th 2005 at the Homecoming of the National Guard's 1451st Transportation Group, soldiers returning from Iraq. This was a web-size image here used as print to distort the quality, and they cropped out the returning soldiers -- misrepresenting the story -- all without permission on a copyrighted image. These are not the kind of unethical people I want running our government."

Jonathan Jordan, the fine & upstanding lawyer whom these attacks on Cullie are meant to benefit, used to work for the Art Pope machine as part of the John Locke Foundation.

Fat spiders and their unethical webs of deceit.
Re-written history, situational ethics, and a nice dose of hatefulness ... Wilkes County, 2010
Defacement, Wilkes County style.

At the "Conservative Candidates Forum": How Do You Call Yourself a Christian?

At the Boone Tea Party's "Conservative Candidates Forum" last night (no commie Dems were invited), the most perceptive question of the night was asked by Dr. Charles Ford, a Boone otolaryngologist (ear, nose & throat doc), who said to no one in particular (though Dan Soucek and Jonathan Jordan were sitting directly in front of him) that as a Christian he was disturbed by some of the campaign mailers he had received (mailed out to benefit primarily the campaigns of Dan Soucek and Jonathan Jordan for State Senate and State House). And how did treating fellow Christians (by which we assume he meant ... gasp! ... Democrats) in such a scummy way square with the devout Christian self-image that all the candidates at the front of the room professed?

Only Congresswoman Virginia Foxx found her voice to answer. It's unfortunate, she said, but such negative attacks work, and because they work, they'll go on, although she never used negative attacks herself, no never.

Meanwhile, both Soucek and Jordan were evidently holding large pats of butter in their mouths that simply would not melt.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

NC Republican Party Plays the Race Card

Everybody’s buzzing about this print attack on Cullie Tarleton, mailed out by the NC Republican Executive Committee. How low can they go? Well, pretty damn low.

The mailer proclaims on the reverse side, “Meet Your New Neighbors...” and essentially promises a black rapist living next door to you if Cullie Tarleton is reelected.

The white guy on the left is obviously thrown in to fuzz up the racial politics, but Wayne A. Laws, the white first degree murderer, is an odd felon to include here, since the law being referenced is the North Carolina Racial Justice Act, which prohibits the imposition of the death penalty where evidence is provided indicating that race was a factor in the death penalty. That law cannot even apply to the white convict. The Act actually states that where racial bias is demonstrated, “the death sentence imposed by the judgment shall be vacated and the defendant resentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.”

So the mailer is just one lie piled on top of another, all tied up in a juicy little “fear the black man” bundle meant to stampede all the little ole white ladies in Ashe and Watauga counties.

This was done to benefit Jonathan Jordan, who as a lawyer would/should know how badly this particular piece of filth warps the truth.

When confronted with this ad, Dr. Ada Fisher, herself a black woman, said she had no idea that this was being sent out in her name, since she is also a member of the NC Republican Executive Committee.

This is the worst racial politics that we’ve seen in this state since Jesse Helms’ salad days.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Angry Republicans in Ashe County

The Ashe County Tea Party, proving once again that it's nothing more than the old Republican Party, rebranded.

Complete with the charming depiction of Barack Obama as a monkey.

And, of course, Virginia Foxx.

Local Chamber of Commerce: "We Have No Affiliation with the U.S. Chamber"

At last week's candidate forums, Dan Meyer, president and CEO of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce, took great pains to disassociate the local Chamber from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "We ain't them," he said in effect, reacting to recent investigative reports that the U.S. Chamber was raising and spending millions to defeat Democrats and elect Republicans by using loopholes in the IRS designation called a 501(c)(6). Under those provisions the U.S. Chamber can raise and spend unlimited funds without ever disclosing any of its donors.

According to Think Progress, the Chamber promised to spend an unprecedented $75 million to defeat Democrats and elect Republicans.

While disavowing any connection to the U.S. Chamber, Mr. Meyers did, however, explicitly support "the right" of the U.S. Chamber to spend that kind of unreported money.


Tea Party to NC: "Let's Give the Government to These Guys!"

"Monday numbers," from Chris Fitzsimon, or, How to Buy an Election:

$1,853,000 -- amount in the third quarter of 2010 by PPD CEO Fred Eshelman of Wilmington to 527 group, which is running attack ads against Democratic congressional candidates across the country. (IRS Political Organization Disclosure Form 8872, filed 10/15/2010)

1 -- rank of PPD CEO Fred Eshelman among top contributors in the nation to 527 groups in the third quarter of 2010 (IRS Political Organization Database, Irregular

9 -- number of top ten individual donations in the third quarter of 2010 that went to a conservative or explicitly Republican group (Ibid.)

$200,000 -- amount given in the third quarter of 2010 by Art Pope's Variety Stores to 527 group Real Jobs NC that is running ads against Democratic legislative candidates across North Carolina, particularly against Steve Goss and Cullie Tarleton. (IRS Political Organization Disclosure Form 8872, filed 10/13/2010)

$100,000 -- amount given in the third quarter of 2010 by to 527 group Real Jobs NC for running ads against Democratic legislative candidates across North Carolina (Ibid.)

$550,000 -- amount given in the third quarter of 2010 by the Republican State Leadership Committee to 527 group Real Jobs NC that is running ads against Democratic legislative candidates across North Carolina (Ibid.)

8 -- number of top ten individual donations in the second quarter of 2010 that went to a conservative or explicitly Republican group (Open Secrets, Center for Responsive Politics)

$264,889 -- amount of contributions reported so far to the State Board of Elections by Civitas Action, the explicitly political arm of the right-wing advocacy group Civitas Institute, for ads against Democratic candidates (North Carolina State Board of Elections)

$190,000 -- amount given to Civitas Action by Art Pope's Variety Stores (Ibid.)

$74,889 -- amount given to Civitas Action by Americans for Prosperity, of which Art Pope is a director (Ibid.)

4 -- number of directors of Americans for Prosperity (Americans for Prosperity website)

$95,000 -- amount Americans for Prosperity has reported that it has raised for ads attacking Democratic legislative candidates in North Carolina (North Carolina State Board of Elections)

$80,000 -- amount given to Americans for Prosperity by Art Pope's Variety Stores to fund attack ads on legislative candidates in North Carolina (Ibid.)

$7,229,000 -- amount of the income of the Civitas Institute from 2005-2009. ("Blessed to Have a Pope," Facing South, the Institute for Southern Studies, October 14, 2010)

$7,074,000 -- amount of contributions to the Civitas Institute from the John William Pope Foundation from 2005-2009 (Ibid.)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Don't Coddle the Unemployed, Sez Foxx

At the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce "forum" for Congressional incumbent Virginia Foxx and her challenger Billy Kennedy, on a question about whether they support extending unemployment benefits, Foxx never directly answered the question and did not mention that she had in fact voted against the extension of unemployment benefits on more than one occasion.

Rather, she waded into an argument that's a favorite with conservative Republicans: "...there's some studies that have been done that shows that people stay on unemployment compensation and they don't look for a job until two or three weeks before they know the benefits are going to run out."

Those words were uttered by former disgraced House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, but Foxx repeated them almost word-for-word last night. She knows how to parrot those talking points!

In other words, and the implication couldn't be clearer ... the unemployed are lazy and unemployment benefits just make them lazier.

That's Virginia Foxx's version of the "social contract." That's as far as her heart will warm to people in distress: vote against any hope they can bridge the chasm opened beneath them, and then insult their inability to be as rich as she is.

Her other favorite line (from both Tuesday night's actual debate in Ashe County, and from last night's Boone discussion) is that tax money is "confiscated."

Gosh, and here I was, as a loyal American, thinking that my taxes were part of my "contract" with the rest of this society to do my part to keep the commonweal healthy.

Whatever social contract the rest of us may have bought into, Virginia Foxx ain't a co-signer.

For those of you with equally iron-clad hearts who buy into the meme of the "lazy unemployed," there's evidence of just how vile and wholly political such accusations are (hattip: JL).

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Foxx Is "Not Cool"

Zach Galifianakis posted on Facebook about our most notorious Congresswoman from North Carolina:

"Hi, NC. Just a reminder of who Virginia Foxx is. She is not cool and no relation to Redd Foxx. Vote Billy Kennedy."

Dear Zack:

It's Kind of a Funny Story. Madam Foxx's Due Date is November 2nd. Until then we're Up In the Air. On November 3rd we expect to have The Hangover to end all hangovers.

And thanks!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Little Fibs, Big Lies, and a Sub-Zero Heart

RE: The Kennedy/Foxx debate last night in Ashe County...

An Opening Note on Small Lies
At one point last night, in response to a general question about agricultural issues, Virginia Foxx threw away a line that opened a huge window on her character. She said that she and Tom were really "farmers," both at heart and in practice, and that she had picked and cooked fresh green beans and potatoes the day before. "And they were delicious."

No doubt she's a serviceable cook, but any local gardener instantly recognized the lie. There are zero "fresh green beans" out in any garden at this time of year. There are dried bean husks hanging on leafless bushes.

If she's willing to lie about something that inconsequential, she's willing to lie about the big stuff. For example:

Her "no" votes in Congress. It's a total misconception, she said, that I vote "no" on everything. I've only voted "no" 40% of the time and "yes," 60% of the time.

That qualifies as a big statistical lie. The only way she could squeeze out a 60% "yes" voting record is to count all the "filler" resolutions (like the one "honoring" the Christmas tree industry) and the courthouse-naming bills -- the non-controversial, pro-forma stuff.

But on 451 key, substantive votes catalogued by Project Vote Smart, she performed as follows:
Voted yes 129 times
Voted no 322 times

That fantasy figure of 60% was her favorite number last night: She also said that 60% of the country are "conservative." Just like her. "They agree with me," she said. But at least 60% of that audience last night was 100% in disagreement with her.

Where did she get that statistic? The obvious answer: she made it up. The highest figures we can find of voters' self-identifying as "conservative" is in a 2009 Gallup poll, which found as many as 40% of respondents describing themselves as either "conservative" (31%) or "very conservative" (9%), the highest percentage in any year since 2004, according to Gallup. And one might legitimately ask of that 40%, especially in the 5th Congressional District of North Carolina, whether they agree that they are "conservative" like Virginia Foxx.

Would they have voted to deny federal aid to the victims of Katrina, for just one example. Would they have voted against reforming the rapacity of credit card companies? Would they have voted no on "expressing support of the goals and ideals of the National School Lunch Program"? Would they have voted no on the "Elder Abuse Victims Act"? Would they have voted no on student loans (not student give-aways ... student loans)?

It's doubtful that the self-professed "conservatism" of Foxx's 5th District constituents is in synch with Foxx's hard-heartedness. In fact, on every vote mentioned in the previous paragraph -- and on many others like them -- the majority of her fellow "conservatives" in the Republican Party voted "YES!" Foxx is in a class all to herself when it comes to "NO!"

But then she was raised super-poor
She doesn't want anyone to forget that fact. By my count last night, she mentioned three separate times how poor she was growing up. What she didn't mention was how rich she is now and how positively GROSS it is for such a wealthy, formerly poor woman to have such harsh attitudes toward the non-wealthy and such solicitous regard for the super-rich ... i.e., bankers and corporate honchos.

Only her love of The Lord exceeds her love of money
She also paraded God, the Baptist version, as a third party in her corporate shilling. That's not just GROSS. It's ... weak.

Empty Seats
The Military Officers Association provided each candidate six seats for family and friends in the front row of the Ashe Civic Center last night. Billy Kennedy's seats were full. Foxx's were empty. No husband. No daughter. No grandchildren.

The lack of human connection signaled by that emptiness is almost sad.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Kennedy/Foxx Debate Tonight

This will not be a recap of what was, really, one of the liveliest and most revealing political face-offs we've ever witnessed.

A fuller recounting of the evening will have to wait until tomorrow ... if it happens at all (we've got other ducklings to stomp, people!).

But one thing happened, post-debate, that demands some comment: just minutes after the thing concluded around 8:30 p.m. this evening, and certainly by 9 p.m., here comes an e-mail blast from Virginia Foxx crowing about how she won the whole thing. Reading it, we started chuckling and then we were laughing out loud.

Because, clearly, although there was standing-room only in the Ashe Civic Center tonight, Virginia Foxx herself was not there.

Is this standard practice among politicians? To write the press release before the event even happens, declare victory, and trust the dumb electorate never will catch on that you're far more gifted at fiction -- fantasy, even -- than at the truth.

An Anniversary for Virginia Foxx

On this day in 1998, and for no particular reason that Virginia Foxx could think of, Matthew Shepard was murdered outside of Laramie, Wy.

We figger the Madam will want to observe the day in some special way.

Previously, lest we forget.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Winston-Salem Journal Endorses Billy Kennedy

In this morning's edition:
"U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, a Republican from Watauga County, has not achieved any great accomplishments for the residents of the 5th Congressional District, and has angered and embarrassed many with her sometimes wild statements that seem designed to provoke. It's time for a fresh, progressive voice in the 5th District. We believe that Democrat Billy Kennedy, a Watauga farmer and carpenter who says he'll work to reverse the high rate of unemployment in the district, is that voice. He's the best candidate in the Nov. 2 election for the 5th District."

The endorsement goes on at some length cataloguing Foxx's "wild statements" and her penny-wise-pound-foolish dunder-headedness about the economy ... in failing to support the Blue Ridge Parkway Protection Act:
Foxx has said she'd normally support such a measure, but not in the current economic times. But the parkway, a major cash cow of the state's tourism industry, brings in more money in a single year -- $2.1 billion dollars, through 17 million visitors -- than the cost of the entire act.

And the editorial board makes this very astute observation about the U.S. Congress going forward, should the Republicans take control:
She's positioned herself so far to the right that, even if her party regains a majority in the House with this election, it's doubtful that she'd gain any power.

The Winston-Salem Journal (you may have forgotten) declined to endorse Roy Carter for Congress in 2008, for "lack of enthusiasm." We're glad to see that they've gotten their enthusiasm back for dumping The Madam overboard.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Looking for Sin in All the Wrong Places

Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Seminary, has surveyed the current landscape and come to the inescapable conclusion that the greatest danger to the mortal souls of his flock is ... wait for it ... yoga.

It took Mohler exactly three paragraphs in his essay to finger a principal culprit in spreading the popularity of yoga ... wait for it ... Michelle Obama. Yup. When you've got agents of Satan as supple as the Obamas, might as well use 'em!

Rev. Mohler: "...the growing acceptance of yoga points to the retreat of biblical Christianity in the culture. Yoga begins and ends with an understanding of the body that is, to say the very least, at odds with the Christian understanding."

Ah, the Southern Baptist understanding of the body! That's a topic that never took more than a single sentence when I was growing up: "Don't touch anything! You're going to hell if you do."

This silly attack on an exercise regimen is gonna rank right up there with a few other recent Southern Baptist initiatives, like the S.B. Convention's vote on June 12, 1996, to boycott Disney World because of employment policies recognizing gay partnerships for insurance coverage and the June 10, 1998, doctrinal mandate that "a wife is to submit herself graciously" to her husband.

That's the kind of "sin" that my church likes to fixate on. Not a word about the exploitation of people and the planet by the forces of greed.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

A Cry for Love?

Why is NC House member Larry Brown (R-Kernersville) sitting in a bowl of Froot Loops?

Because Equality North Carolina has organized a campaign to harass Mr. Brown for his e-mailed comments regarding Speaker of the House Joe Hackney's acceptance of a leadership award from the group. Said the highly Christian Mr. Brown:
"I hope all the queers are thrilled to see him. I am sure there will be a couple legislative fruitloops there in the audience."

For each donation made to Equality North Carolina in Mr. Brown's name before Oct. 11th, a box of Froot Loops will be delivered to the assemblyman's office. He'll be eating a lot of cereal, we expect.

Most commentators have focused on Mr. Brown's obvious hatred of gays. But we're more amazed at his implication about his fellow members of the General Assembly. The last Republican office holders who so obsessed on this topic mainly all turned out to be harboring their own guilty little secrets.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Everything That Rises Must Converge

That's Republican Congressional candidate Jeff Miller, who's running against Heath Shuler in the NC-11, posing with Madam Virginia Foxx at a funder for Miller in Washington, D.C. on September 28. (Hattip: Scrutiny Hooligans)

Madam Foxx was billed as "honorary co-host," which we assume means she didn't have to lift a finger otherwise, except probably to scarf the hors d'oeuvres.

Mr. Miller, for his part, appears to be trying to avoid touching the Madam. Which we totally sympathize with.

The Bidding War to Buy the NC General Assembly

Art Pope is upping his bid to take over the NC legislative body. From Chris Fitzsimon:
The Insider is reporting this morning that Civitas Action, the explicitly political arm of the Pope Civitas Institute, has raised $264,889 for electoral activities according to filings with the State Board of Elections.

The group has already sent out mailers in the districts of House Speaker Joe Hackney and Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight criticizing the legislative leaders and plans more mailers in coming weeks.

You can guess where the money came from, $190,000 from Variety Wholesalers -- that's Art Pope's company, and the rest from Americans for Prosperity, where Pope is a director and major donor.

The Insider points out that Pope is also a major donor to the Civitas Institute itself, which is a bit of an understatement. The group's 2009 tax return reports $1.635 million in income for the year, with $1.620 million in contributions from the Pope Foundation.

Pope is also a major donor and board member of Real Jobs NC, a 527 group running misleading ads against Democrats, including one criticizing them for voting for a $25 million fishing pier that every Republican also supported.

The Insider quotes Civitas Executive Director Francis De Luca saying that he didn't think the election activities of Civitas Action would hurt the credibility of the Civitas Institute.

That's true. It simply confirms what we already knew.

Though Sen. Steve Goss and Rep. Cullie Tarleton aren't mentioned, they are major targets of the Art Pope drive-by money-mobile.

Wrong ... We Were

A friendly (but firm) reader has pointed out that in a post down-column, we referred to the "reelection" bid of Wanda Howell for Clerk of Superior Court.

We were wrong ... morally, ethically, spiritually, physically, positively, absolutely, undeniably, and reliably wrong ... for Wanda Howell can't be reelected to an office she was never elected to in the first place. She was appointed Clerk of Superior Court by her old boss, The Honorable James L. Baker, Jr., Senior Resident Superior Court Judge, when former Clerk Glenn Hodges retired mid-term.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Dan Soucek's Phantom Business

Still searching for that "small business" that Dan Soucek has made such a campaign issue of. "Dan Soucek ... Small Businessman." It's in all of his campaign lit, so naturally we're curious.

Somebody said it was called "Double D Disposal," but if that's so, you'd think there would be some listing in the phonebook. There's not, neither in the White Pages nor the Yellow.

No website either.

And it's not listed on the Secretary of State's site. Nor with the NC Department of Revenue. Nor with the NC Department of Commerce.

Some business! And quite the businessman!

Apparently, when you live in The Matrix, you don't need any of the normal trappings of a business, nor really even a business.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Under-Performer v. Over-Killer

A whole long article in today's N&O about how Congressman Mike McIntyre (on the left in these photos) of the NC-7 may well go down in this election to Republican tea partier Ilario Pantano (on the right), and not one word among the reasons given for why he may crash&burn gets devoted to the fact that McIntyre lost his Democratic base. Lost it good by voting repeatedly and almost dependably with the Republicans in the last Congress. Not one word about that -- the whereabouts of McIntyre's Democratic base.

Some interesting words, however, about Ilario Pantano, the ex-Marine who was court-martialed (though not convicted) of murdering two unarmed Iraqi civilians. The stipulated facts of that case give one pause. Though Pantano escaped the murder charge, the presiding judge at his court-martial concluded that Pantano had used "poor judgment and recommended he be punished for desecrating the corpses."

"Desecrating the corpses"? We reckon the presiding officer was referring to the fact that Pantano emptied a "full magazine of about 30 bullets" into the victims and "then loaded a fresh magazine and emptied that one, too. Then he hung a sign on the bullet riddled car that read 'No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy.' "

Seems like Congressional material to us.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Over-Steeped Tea

So a Winston-Salem Journal reporter labors mightily and comes up with this astounding news in today's paper: North Carolina tea partiers are really just Republicans feeling their oats. Or their Metamucil.

We encounter this stop-the-presses moment approximately 30 minutes about a close brush with Matt Taibbi's account in Rolling Stone of infiltrating a Tea Party rally in Kentucky, from which is carved this bit of political taxonomy (actually the editorial work of the inimitable Tom Sullivan, not me), the five common characteristics of the Tea Party "movement":
One: Every single one of them was that exceptional Republican who did protest the spending in the Bush years, and not one of them is the hypocrite who only took to the streets when a black Democratic president launched an emergency stimulus program. Two: Each and every one of them is the only person in America who has ever read the Constitution or watched Schoolhouse Rock. Three: They are all furious at the implication that race is a factor in their political views -- despite the fact that they blame the financial crisis on poor black homeowners, spend months on end engrossed by reports about how the New Black Panthers want to kill "cracker babies," support politicians who think the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was an overreach of government power, tried to enact South African-style immigration laws in Arizona and obsess over Charlie Rangel, ACORN and Barack Obama's birth certificate. Four: In fact, some of their best friends are black! And five: Everyone who disagrees with them is a radical leftist who hates America.

Reminds us of the conversation we overheard at the recent Watauga County "press conference" against the quarter-cent sales tax referendum. A woman said with Christmas Eve style anticipation that she was going to the Glenn Beck rally on the National Mall in D.C., "but I'll probably get killed by the Black Panthers." We think she was serious.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Say It Ain't So, Aaron!

I've been a fan of Aaron Sorkin's writing for TV, from his first series on ABC, "Sports Night," which lasted only two seasons (alas), to "The West Wing," which lasted through two Josiah Bartlet administrations. Very sharp writing, very interesting characters.

Which is why I've been anticipating "The Social Network," Sorkin's treatment of Facebook founder and boy genius Mark Zuckerberg, who's played in the movie by Jesse Eisenberg (pictured left).

But a clod has landed in my churn, tossed by Harvard University law professor Lawrence Lessig. He sez the movie's worth seeing, but he faults Sorkin as just not getting the real import of "the social network." Sorkin has evidently admitted that he knows next to nothing about the Internet. Ouch.

Lessig likens Sorkin to a jester in the court of King George III charged with writing out his version of the American Revolution. Double ouch. And Lessig appears to have awfully good reasons, based on a thorough understanding of 21st Century American entrepreneurialism and the liberating nature of the InnerTubes, to pan Sorkin's condescending "take" on Zuckerberg.

Who'd a thunk that Aaron Sorkin would go from West Wing boy genius to fuddy-duddy that quickly?

The Big-Money Boys Behind Soucek and Whatisname

Art Pope

The largest super-organism on the planet is a fungus found in the Malheur National Forest in Oregon. It underlies some 2,200 acres. Art Pope is something like that fungus. He founded the right-wing "think tank," the John Locke Foundation, which pumps out "studies" that consistently prove that government regulation of corporations is evil, that welfare for the non-rich is a cancer on society, and -- most recently -- that "green power" from wind and solar is a threat to liberty. The John Locke Foundation runs its own magazine, The Carolina Journal, and at least six different blogs around the state. Ole Whatisname, who's running against Cullie Tarleton for the N.C. House, was actually a salaried employee of the John Locke Foundation, helping to produce such bilge.

Other "fruiting" arms of the Pope fungi include the John William Pope Foundation (named for Art's father), the John William Pope Civitas Institute (which handles a polling operation that has been very active in the field for Soucek and Whatisname), and the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law, which handles lawsuits which seek to advance the Art Pope vision by challenging laws that hobble big corporations.

Art Pope is a director of the right-wing group Americans for Prosperity, which organized the Tax Day Tea Parties across the country and the "town hall" opposition to health care reform in 2009. He had a big hand in the take-over of the Wake County School Board last fall, and is now a major bankroller of Real Jobs NC, which is trying to knock off Cullie Tarleton and Steve Goss (and several other Democrats in the General Assembly).

Tarleton and Goss have been targeted by a high-dollar campaign of push-polling, TV ads, and a flood of direct mail because they represent districts with many low-information voters easily stampeded (the Pope fungi believe) by distortions and lies.

What is Art Pope for?
Art Pope heads Americans for Prosperity, whose parent organization, Citizens for a Sound Economy, supported legislation to normalize China's trade relationship with the United States, according to Real Facts NC. North Carolina has lost at least 95,100 jobs due to unfair trade with China since 2001, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Americans for Prosperity strenuously opposed the recent Wall Street financial reforms which attempt to strengthen consumer protection and stop future bailouts by preventing the kind of shenanigans that led to the recent financial crisis ... reforms which Art Pope apparently finds a threat to life as he's known it.

Art Pope has long been critical of public education and supports vouchers and "school choice," which is exactly what his new Wake County School Board is now attempting to deliver in the form of a giant wrecking ball.

Pope also naturally supports the privatization of Social Security and phasing out Medicare in keeping with the Pope philosophy that any "welfare" programs just coddle the poor and hamstring the rich.

This is the man to whom Dan Soucek and Whatisname will owe their fealty if they're elected to the N.C. General Assembly.