Saturday, December 31, 2011

Only the Pure May Vote in Virginia

The fact that Virginia voters will salute and do as they're ordered -- and that voters will be ordered to take a loyalty oath when they vote in the Republican Party's primary on March 6 -- is all the evidence we need that Virginia conservatives are lacking both self-awareness and the least spark of resistance to illegitimate power.

Make that "conservatives everywhere."

Friday, December 30, 2011

Who Said Republicans Are Good With Money?

An audit of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, run by Republican Commissioner Steve Troxler (he's the one on the left, holding his cousin), found that for the fiscal year 2009-2010, the department's Consumer Services & Standards Division failed to collect over $2 million in fines assessed in civil penalties against liquefied petroleum (LP) gas operations.
Violations ranged from a lack of on-site “no smoking “ signs to tanks and piping not protected from vehicular traffic, faulty valves, inadequate employee training and plants operating without required licenses.
The nearly 7,500 violations occurred at 1,189 facilities, including LP gas bulk storage plants, farms, schools, businesses, industrial plants, correctional institutions and campgrounds.

Source: Triangle Business Journal.

It figgers, since Republicans are consistently doctrinaire on non-regulation, except that, O my brethren, the non-regulation of LP gas operations can blow you up into tiny bits and incinerate your world. Or, as State Auditor Beth Woods wrote in her investigative report, "... certain violations present threats to public health and safety or could cause significant property loss."

Mr. Troxler's yadda-yadda in response to the audit (along the lines of "We're taking steps in order to take certain steps to be able to step up to doing something about this") appears to be nothing more than stone-walling.  

'Course, arguably the worst non-regulator in the state is Madam Cherie Berry in the Department of Labor, who is a poster child of malfeasance.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Camel, Meet Needle's Eye

Christianity Today, reporting on a recent poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press: "Most people of all faiths feel taxes are unfair and that the wealthy need to pay more."

Someone remind me: where's the GOP on this issue?

A Breathtaking Display of Mendacity

First, to recap the action:

1. GOP-led NC General Assembly cut $400 million from the state's education budget. Chief arranger of the deck chairs: Republican Speaker of the NC House, Thom Tillis.

2. Speaker Tillis warns that any layoffs will be scored as superintendents' fault, not the General Assembly's.

3. School systems everywhere began laying off teachers and teacher assistants.

4. Speaker Tillis began blaming superintendents for job losses as he conducted his town-hall tour around the state, except when superintendents were sitting in the audience, and he vowed that he would haul those superintendents' sorry asses to Raleigh and grill them on why they fired people. "We will get to the bottom of this," he promised.

Looks like Mr. Tillis is going to be held to his promise, though he's hemming and hawing a bit about when those "hearings" will take place. "Probably in February," a spokesman for Tillis said recently. Okay, we'll promise not to hold our breath if you promise to stop treating the public like dunces.

What will superintendents say, if indeed they're summoned to Raleigh to explain why a $400 million state-wide cut to education spending led to the laying off of teachers? Maybe ... "Duh"?

Photo: Huntersville Herald

Wasting Public Money, The Forsyth County Way

Displays by the Pharisees evidently take precedence.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Renee Ellmers Tries To Spin the Republican Mess

Now with subtitles, so you'll know what she's REALLY saying. Hattip: ProgressNC

$40 DOES Matter!

Snagged from an e-mail from Cliff Moone, Democratic Party Chair of the NC 10th Congressional District:
POINT: This week, some Republicans like Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, have stated that the proposed extension of the Payroll Tax Cut will not have any real effect on the economy. Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have gone from not supporting the tax cut extension AT ALL to arguing that it MUST be for 1 year NOW or NOTHING!

COUNTERPOINT: Tea Party Republicans have at last found a TAX INCREASE they CAN SUPPORT! They WILL NOT support ANY tax increase on the top 1%, not even a 3% surtax on 388,000 millionaires and billionaires (and that ONLY on their income ABOVE 1 million dollars) BUT they seem more than willing to let 160 million Americans take it on the chin with a tax hike of about $1,000 per year. To Republicans, Tax Cuts ARE good, but evidently ONLY for the RICH!

ADDENDUM: Is Governor Christie correct about the Payroll Tax Cut's effect on the economy? Only in Republican world. To the typical family earning around $50,000 per year, the failure to extend this middle class tax cut will mean that they will have about $40 per pay check LESS than they do now. What would that mean? In John Boehner's district it is 1 less tank of gas. For another person, it would be the cost of her husband's insulin & inhaler. For a person in California, it means 1 less dinner out and economically "it ripples negatively from there!" Indeed, in Jackson Mississippi, the NEGATIVE effect on the local economy is estimated at 10 million dollars per year! $40 REALLY does matter!

Foxx Drains Poole

It was clear from the outset of the Todd Poole drunk-driving-and-resisting-an-officer arrest in Watauga County that Congresswoman Virginia Foxx intended to see him successfully through the judicial process. In a Roll Call interview published on August 12th, three days after her Chief of Staff was taken before a Watauga County magistrate and charged with three different offenses, the Congresswoman said that her employee had her support and would keep his job.

“He’ll remain on the staff. It’s a judicial matter and it will work its way through the process,” she said.

The current odor of special treatment for Poole (from both a DA and a judge with long political ties to the Congresswoman ... Judge Horne was not too long ago Chair of the Watauga County Republican Party during Foxx's rise to greatness) has centered on the sealing of Poole's blood alcohol test.

According to Scott Sexton in the Winston-Salem Journal, in his column on Dec 18, "[Poole] refused a breath test, but troopers got a sample of his blood and sent it off to the State Bureau of Investigation."

That's very different from what the Roll Call reporter was told for the article linked above:
A Watauga County, N.C., deputy clerk confirmed the authenticity of the record and that Poole was “taken to the magistrate’s office,” that is, arrested. A court date is set for Sept. 13, the deputy clerk said.
“He blew a .08,” the clerk said, indicating that Poole was at the legal limit of intoxication under state law....
Passing strange. Would .08 alcohol content in one's blood make one act like Todd Poole acted that night? Maybe. Or perhaps the deputy clerk was wrong, but by what stretch does a deputy clerk of court make that up and tell it to a reporter for a Washington newspaper?

Clearly, someone talked before the Foxx Cone of Silence fell over this whole episode.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Foxx and Friends Completely Lose Control

The "optics" ain't so good for congressional Republicans. And perhaps the American working class are actually paying attention.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Winston-Salem Journal, Stirring It Up

In an editorial praising the newly retired Donny Lambeth, leader of the North Carolina Baptist Hospital, the writers at the Winston-Salem Journal made a sly suggestion:

"There was talk a few years ago that Lambeth might run against U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx in the Republican primary in the 5th District. Maybe he'll consider that, or a run for the state legislature. We look forward to following his next step, whatever it might be." [Dec. 20, 2011]

In 2010, there was indeed a rumor that Lambeth would find favor among Forsyth's Republicans if he took on the odious Virginia Foxx in a Republican primary, which apparently led Lambeth to call Foxx personally and squelch the rumor. The Journal's resurrection of that deep desire to have a more mainstream Republican representing the 5th District of NC is note-worthy.

Mr. Lambeth, who is also chair of the Forsyth County Board of Education, may be waiting for Foxx to retire (but, then, aren't we all!?) to run for the open seat. If she retires before the ocean levels rise to drown our coastal cities, and if Mr. Lambeth is still viable, he'll have to face Foxx's chosen (and duly anointed) successor, the ineffable empty suit, Dan Soucek. A Soucek/Lambeth primary would be no contest, and Lambeth would win, going away.

That's all contingent, of course, on Foxx actually winning another term against challenger Treva Johnson, which in this year (2012, that is) is not a foregone conclusion.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Now It's a Political Story

When Todd Poole, Congresswoman Virginia Foxx's Chief of Staff, was arrested a year ago (on Dec. 14) for drunk driving and was subsequently also charged with resisting an officer, I said nary a word on this blog about it because I saw it as a personal tragedy and not a political story.

But now that Mr. Poole has been given very special treatment in the disposition of his case -- and had the actual alcohol content of his blood that night forever sealed by the judge -- it has become perforce a political story.

The things you can get when you work for a powerful Congresswoman. Mr. Poole, on the night of arrest, apparently warned everyone within earshot that they didn't know the towering importance of the person they were dealing with, hauling him in to stand before a Watauga County magistrate. Todd took a belligerent, arrogant "don't-you-know-who-I-am?" aggressiveness with the officers of the law, and, well, turns out he was right.

He's somebody who gets special treatment from the legal system.

Scott Sexton delves pretty deeply into just how special that treatment was in his column in the Winston-Salem Journal.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Big Wind

An amazing sight this morning: we were suddenly aware of dozens of 300-foot tall, huge wind generators, ringing the horizon to our south off I-40 in Weatherford, Oklahoma. Then they were also marching in on us from the north as well, 98 total generators, capable of producing enough power for 44,000 homes. It was curious that all the generators to our south were turning at precisely the same rotational speed -- on an absolutely breathless high plains morning -- while none of the generators on the northern side of the Interstate turned at all. That's an operational mystery.

But what a beautiful panorama.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

GOP-Dominated General Assembly ... Very Unpopular

Sometimes polling gives you the willies; sometimes it gives you ideas. From PPP:
One thing that's been true all year is that whenever the GOP legislature comes back to town, it gets less popular. That's the case once again after their late November return to Raleigh. Only 29% of voters now have a favorable opinion of the Republicans in the legislature, a new record low. The previous worst had been 33%. 48% of voters have an unfavorable opinion of them. The biggest issue for the Republicans is that independents, after voting for the GOP by a huge margin in legislative contests last year, now give them a 22/44 favorability rating.
Contained in such dismal numbers may be the key to the path forward for Gov. Perdue, who has her own bad polling to deal with:
Finally one finding in this poll points to a potential path to victory for Bev Perdue. 44% of voters in the state trust her more compared to 40% who put a greater deal of faith in the Republican legislature. Pat McCrory has tied himself closely to the unpopular new legislative majority so if Perdue can run against their agenda and McCrory's support of it, that might just be the way she pulls out a second term. It won't be easy, but it's something.

Quote of the Decade

"The higher a monkey climbs on the pole the more you can see his butt."

--David Axelrod, on Newt Gingrich

From Slaves-to-Knowledge To Just Plain Slaves

Hattip: Think Progress

Thursday, December 08, 2011

"Unnecessary, Bureaucratic and Costly": Rowan Co. Citizens Push Back on Voter Photo ID

Rowan County Republican commissioners approved a resolution on Nov. 21, asking the state legislature to pass a "local bill" to require that all voters in the county present government-issued photo ID before they vote.

A Salisbury resident asked the State Board of Elections how many voters in Rowan do not currently have government-issued photo IDs, including NC driver's licenses. Almost 6,000 was the answer ... almost 6,000 active, registered voters. Mainly elderly, mainly female, and -- natch! -- mainly African-American. An African-American voter in Rowan County is twice as likely as a white voter to not have voter ID.

Which is, of course, the point of the law, the target of the law, the ulterior motive of Republicans everywhere who are pushing this diminution of democracy.

People in Rowan County came out to their County Commission meeting Tuesday night to complain about the colossal waste of commissioner time on this resolution and the naked racial politics behind it. “When you look at it on a local level, is this something we can justify — that we can say that we need?” one Salisbury resident asked. “This just seems like it’s following the leader of the national agenda, and the national agenda seems like it doesn’t want people to vote.”

The Board of Aldermen of the Rowan County town of East Spencer also passed a resolution Tuesday night opposing all such suppression of voting rights: “[The] Voter ID Act provides an unnecessary, bureaucratic and costly resolution to address a problem that may only occur in one out of each one million or more votes cast,” the resolution states. “[The] Voter ID bill would cause more problems with widespread voter disenfranchisement than it could possibly solve.”

The East Spencer resolution also points out that "the law would disproportionately affect the elderly, people of color, students, low income residents and people with disabilities."

A similar resolution was effectively killed by tabling in Lenoir County (Kinston) Tuesday night, where momentary sanity broke out among the county commissioners.

Hattip: DemocracyNC

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The Movement To End "Corporate Personhood"

A sign of the times and the beginning, we can hope, of a widespread movement among the citizens: The Los Angeles city council took a purely symbolic vote last night on a resolution to end the pernicious doctrine of "corporate personhood," which took root in US jurisprudence in the 19th century and matured to full poison fruit in the "Citizens United" Supreme Court case.

A purely symbolic vote, yes, but with the possibility of major influence on widening the circle of American citizens who have become aware, finally, of the hard right turn our laws took when the Supreme Court first decided that a corporation was equivalent to a person under the law.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

New Light on the GOP Suppression of the Black Vote

Forget for the moment the NC GOP's attempted suppression of the black vote (and the youth vote) through a proposed photo ID law (which Gov. Perdue vetoed --veto upheld in the NC House -- but which Republican Speaker Thom Tillis is all itchy to bring back up for another veto over-ride attempt, once a couple of Dems are out sick with the flu) ... forget all that for the moment, and consider what's going on in South Carolina.

The Republican-dominated South Carolina legislature passed a similar voter photo ID law which the Republican governor dutifully signed. According to analysis by the Associated Press, there are 10 South Carolina precincts (among the state’s 2,134 precincts) "where nearly all of the law’s affect falls on nonwhite voters who don’t have a state-issued driver’s license or ID card, a total of 1,977 voters."

The South Carolina law also recognizes only state-issued photo identification, so college students from out of state or those who have not acquired SC photo identification will be SOL.

The AP article which revealed these problems and the way it falls disproportionately on the black population got favorably tweeted by a South Carolina Republican Party operative: "Nice ... proves EXACTLY why we need voter ID in SC."

That "nice" exclamation comes only at the expense of black voters. There's no imputation of voter fraud in the AP report, just a by-the-numbers accounting of how the law will fall disproportionately on one non-Republican segment of the population.

Last night in Matthews at another of his townhalls, Speaker Thom Tillis spoke cryptically about the possibility that the Republican majority in the NC General Assembly "could try to pass a compromise voter ID bill next year" that "could be fashioned on an earlier version of the bill, which would have allowed voters to use IDs without a photo."

We're quite familiar with Mr. Tillis's "greenwashing" of the Republican agenda when he's holding his townhalls, so we won't hold our breath about this latest offer of compromise.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

The Questions She Ducked

The Foxx "Facebook Friday" event perhaps proves nothing so much as this: you can fool some of the people all of the time.

She just couldn't quite find an answer on that keyboard in her staffer's hands for these pertinent
When will you resume town hall meetings in various locations in our district so people can express their concerns in a public forum?

Rep Foxx, where do you stand on restricting Congress members on using "insider information" for personal investments?? Thx

What is your justification for having signed the Grover Norquist pledge to NEVER raise taxes? This seems to be an ill-advised pledge. Remember that Reagan and Bush #1 promised never to raise taxes, but when necessity dictated, they were flexible enough to make prudent decisions. This pledge seems to put you and your fellow members of Congress in a non-negotiable position. Please explain ~ thank you.

As the Representative of the 5th District, you have stated you're against "government-run" health programs, where the government makes decisions on personal health (versus a for-profit company making those decisions). Since Medicare is a government-run health program, 1) why are you against it, and 2) why would the majority of the 5th District be against it?
Could anything speak louder than this "controlled," public-be-damned poor excuse for a congressional townhall meeting?

Barbara Kingsolver at Occupy Johnson City

The best American writer in spitting distance of Boone (she lives near Emory, Va.), Barbara Kingsolver, went looking for Occupy Johnson City just over the mountain from here, and she found it and wrote this report, from the ineffable "Appalachian" perspective:
"...I saw some American flags and a sign that said 'God Hates Banks' and figured this had to be it. From across the street I heard one person say a few words at a time, repeated by the crowd in the unmistakable 'from this day forward…' cadence of a wedding or a swearing-in, and again I wasn’t sure I was in the right place. As it turned out, the call and response was the people’s microphone, famously re-invented in New York to subvert the ban on amplifiers. Here in Tennessee it sounds like people taking vows. Repeat as one: men in UMW jackets, farmers in their town clothes, college kids, retired schoolteachers, young couples pushing strollers, the wilderness guide in a kilt, the homeless man with the sign in Latin. Really the temptation was to ask any given person, what is the story? Because there is one. This is Appalachia, home of the forested Cumberland and Wildwood Flower and NASCAR and 18% unemployment and bless your heart. Home of mountaintop removal, wherein coal companies find it profitable to tear the earth’s own flesh from its bones and leave the stunned, uprooted living to contemplate drinking poison, in the literal sense. Birthplace of the Blair Mountain rebellion, where underpaid labor ran up against big capital in an insurrection unlike any other this country has known. That was in 1921, and by many accounts the approval rating of big capital here has not improved. Just this month, a dispassionate Wall Street analysis ranked us the fifth-poorest region in the land. The people’s microphone in this context sounds like a tent revival. It took twice as long to say anything, but induced full participation, which is also very southern, come to think of it. At length we agreed to march ourselves down State of Franklin Street, and as we stretched across block after block of stopped traffic, people in their pickups and dinged-up station wagons and gas-conscious sedans honked and cheered to see our 'tax greed' signs, and did not advise us to get a job or a haircut. The orthodox objections have grown ridiculous. Every system on earth has its limits. We have never been here before, not right here exactly, you and me together in the golden and gritty places all at once, on deadline, no fooling around this time, no longer walking politely around the dire colossus, the so-called American Way of consecrated corporate profits and crushed public compassion. There is another American way. This is the right place, we found it. On State of Franklin we yelled until our throats hurt that we were the 99% because that’s just it. We are."

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Occupy Washington Gets It Right

Chris Hayes showed video on his "Up with Chris Hayes" show this a.m. of the verbal tongue-lashing that the big-wig national Democratic establishment got from the "human microphone" of the Occupy Washington contingent on Thursday night at a closed-door fundraiser where comestibles were served per plate at $5,000 - $75,000. The upbraiding starts at approximately 16:20 in the video below, if you don't want to wade through all 40 minutes.

It's a correct analysis of what ails both national political parties, and if the Democrats don't begin to jettison their own soul-destroying "beholdens" to Wall Street (in all its forms), then they will suffer rejection and condemnation ... as they deserve.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Talk to the Hand, You Sorry [Expletive Deleted]

First, it was Thom Tillis, slumming it up in Boone, who spoke of his great personal pain over the Anti-Family Amendment that he nevertheless personally ushered through his Republican-controlled NC House.

Now it's Sen. Jim Davis (R-Franklin) who's suddenly developed buyer's remorse over his vote to urge the rest of us to install anti-gay discrimination into the NC Constitution next May.

At a "sparsely attended" townhall meeting in Macon County, Davis said, “I have a lot of libertarian in me. I believe firmly, passionately that a marriage should be defined as being between one man and one woman. But I also believe with all my heart that in a free America people who choose to live a different lifestyle should have a legal right to do so."

Yet (and you'll forgive me if I'm unimpressed by your sudden pangs of conscience), you voted with the other lemmings in your party to enshrine a constitutional discrimination against a small minority of our citizens into our foundational document...

(You insufferable hypocrite you. With all due respect.)

The Collusion Between The Fed and The Banksters

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Another Young Hero of Our Times: Zack Wahls

Nineteen-year-old Zack Wahls made this testimony before the Iowa state legislature back in February, but this three-minute YouTube of his testimony is again making the rounds because of the Anti-Family Amendment ("Amendment 1") now on the North Carolina ballot for next May

A sixth-generation Iowan, Wahls finished his testimony on an impassioned note. "In my 19 years, not once have I ever been confronted by an individual who realized independently that I was raised by a gay couple. And you know why? Because the sexual orientation of my parents has had zero effect on the content of my character."

Occupy Elections

George Lakoff, author of "Don't Think of an Elephant," on what should be next for the Occupy movement:
What's next? That's the question being asked as cities close down Occupy encampments and winter approaches.

The answer is simple. Just as the Tea Party gained power, the Occupy Movement can. The Occupy movement has raised awareness of a great many of America's real issues and has organized supporters across the country. Next comes electoral power. Wall Street exerts its force through the money that buys elections and elected officials. But ultimately, the outcome of elections depends on people willing to take to the streets -- registering voters, knocking on doors, distributing information, speaking in local venues. The way to change the nation is to occupy elections.

Whatever Occupiers may think of the Democrats, they can gain power within the Democratic Party and hence in election contests all over America. All they have to do is join Democratic Clubs, stick to their values, speak out very loudly, and work in campaigns for candidates at every level who agree with their values. If Occupiers can run tent camps, organize food kitchens and clean-up brigades, run general assemblies, and use social media, they can take over and run a significant part of the Democratic Party....

Foxx Announces Another Gimmick To Avoid Facing Constituents

"Facebook Friday."

No, really.

Following her tradition of avoiding any possible embarrassment at having to be actually accountable for her opinions, her statements, let alone her votes, or of answering unfiltered constituent questions, Madam Foxx is generously deigning to pick and choose the questions she would like to answer from among comments posted Friday morning on her Facebook page.

We're lovin' that "profile in courage," Congresswoman.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Republican Co. Commissioners Want to Violate the Constitution

Republican county commissioners in Craven, Davidson, Gaston, Rowan, and now Lincoln counties are begging the new Republican majority in the NC General Assembly to give their counties -- and just their counties alone -- an extra hurdle to voting in the form of the photo ID vetoed for the whole state by Gov. Perdue, but as most readers of both the state and the federal constitutions already realized, and as the NC Attorney General's office has now officially opined, extra hurdles in individual counties would raise serious equal protection concerns.

NC Policy Watch has the full account of the AG's written opinion.


According to Chris Petrella, one of the eight declared Republican candidates in the primary next May for the NC-11 Congressional seat currently held by Heath Shuler, “Any idiot who wants to have Congressman on their resume has decided to throw their hat in the ring.”


That's possibly going to cut down on his holiday party invitations.

The seven idiots, who, along with non-idiot Petrella, have declared their candidacies in the NC-11:

1. Dan 
ophthalmologist (who also ran in the same primary in 2010 -- came in 2nd with 34.21% of the primary vote ... Jeff Miller was the winner)

2. Spence 
colonel (ditto, in 2008 -- came in 2nd to Carl Mumpower with 42.26 % of the primary vote)

3. Jeff

4. Chris 

5. Ed 
 member (ran in the 2010 primary -- came in 5th with 3.59% of the vote)

6. Vance 
Patterson (ran in the 2010 primary against Patrick McHenry in the NC-10 -- came in 2nd to McHenry with 25.99% of the primary vote)

7. Mark 

8. Kenny 
Chair (ran in the 2010 primary in the NC-11 -- came in 4th with 7.95% of the vote)

Hattip for the list: Election Tracker, NCFEF

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Hard to figger Rep. Bill Faison's interview with WRAL's Laura Leslie as anything less than an admission that he's dying to take on Gov. Bev Perdue in a primary next year.

"...I think ultimately Governor Perdue will do the right thing and decide not to run. I don’t believe you’ll ever see her file [to run for reelection],” Faison said.

Faison had already caused a bit of a ruckus about the failings of the Guv but then surprised many by announcing that he would not run against her.

He seems to be backsliding rapidly. When Leslie asked if he's still interested in running against Perdue, he replied, "Well, I certainly think we need strong leadership at the top of the ticket, and I’m certainly giving consideration to it. That’s a decision for some time in the future."

The future is pretty much standing on the door-stoop, with filing for office scheduled by the state Board of Elections for the first week of February.

A warning shot by Faison or just an unwise flapping of the lip to the best political reporter in the state? Hard to figger. It's clear enough that the indictment yesterday of two Perdue aides and a close friend for campaign violations in 2008 -- even though the prosecutor took pains to say that Perdue was not a target -- is the proximate cause for Faison's fantasy-talk. Faison has been public and loud in challenging the Republican leadership over jobs, and doing it all over the place, which is welcome, especially at a time when state Democratic leaders seem tongue-tied too often (including the governor -- recall her hemming and hawing over the anti-gay equality amendment).

Faison might have some trouble drawing disaffected Dem progressives to his insurgency, should one develop. Just yesterday, the Art Pope org Civitas Action rated Faison as one of the more conservative Dems in the NC House.

McHenry Squeaks, But Where Is Foxx?

Barely a month after endorsing the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney, Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-Minionville) felt compelled to defend his choice for president, declaring forcefully that Mittens is not "two men trapped in one body, as President Obama has hinted. There may, in fact, be three men in there ... and one social secretary, I don't know, or maybe a whole legion. But never mind!"

Meanwhile, Madam Virginia Foxx, who sang in that same Romney choir with McHenry, has been strangely silent in defense of her best hope for a Republican president to follow that Kenyan Muslim.

Buyer's remorse?

Monday, November 28, 2011

BREAKING: Injunction Issued Against 'Choose Life' License Plates

From NC ACLU, via Policy Watch:
"During this year’s legislative session, the North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 289, which authorized the issuance of a 'Choose Life' license plate. However, the legislature repeatedly refused to authorize a plate that supported the countervailing position in favor of reproductive freedom. Six amendments were proposed in the legislature to authorize an additional new plate that stated either, 'Trust Women. Respect Choice,' or simply 'Respect Choice.' The legislature rejected all six amendments. As such, the lawsuit alleges that the State is engaging in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment."
U.S. District Judge James C. Fox granted a preliminary against the anti-abortion license plates this morning.

Keeping count on how many new laws passed by the Republican majority in the NC General Assembly have now drawn the negative attention of various judges? We're up to at least three.

And the Young Shall Lead Them

Meet Emma Sullivan, student at Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie View, Kansas, who attended a speech given by Sam Brownback, former Church Lady of the U.S. Senate and currently governor of Kansas.

During the Guv's speech, Emma
tweeted, “Just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot.”

Proving the hashtag #heblowsalot wholly accurate, the Guv's staff of puritanical lip-pursers somehow spotted Emma's tweet (#nothingelsetodo), and just like the tattletales you hated in the fifth grade, they ratted out Emma to her high school principal, Dr. Karl Krawitz, a notorious pissant who promptly demanded that Emma apologize to the Guv, in writing, thus violating Emma's Constitutional right to free speech and exhibiting the worst instincts common among warehousemen to the young, all at once.

The story went viral almost immediately.

Now Emma Sullivan, who had but a handful of Twitter followers when she tweeted about the Guv blowing a lot, now has over twice as many Twitter followers as Governor Brownback.


Plus last night Emma tweeted this:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Clown College Reconvening in Raleigh Tonight

Good deal of breath-holding going on around the state, what with the new Republican majority in the NC General Assembly coming together this evening to continue their roll-back of the state's progressive advancements since, oh, 1895.

They seem to be drawing a particular bead on the Racial Justice Act, since they obviously don't like racial justice or even just fairness in the judicial system.

Pressure has been on Democratic members of the General Assembly to drop those turkey legs, or the concomitant Tums, and get themselves to Raleigh, because the fear is that the Republican leadership will use any Democratic absences to suddenly call up a veto override of the voter photo ID bill, but ace reporter (for the Greensboro News&Record) Mark Binker posted on Facebook that it's highly unlikely.

Why the Republicans couldn't get their shit together in the long session and now insist on recalling everyone repeatedly to Raleigh when the moon is full (and on Sunday night, fer crissakes! Is nothing sacred?) for these micro-sessions of social engineering and right-wing flapping, well, chalk that up to their regular and well documented incompetence at governing!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Of the Banks, By the Banks, For the Banks

Portland, Oregon.

An Obvious Political Stunt

The signature legislative ambition for the new Republican majority in the NC General Assembly? Limiting ballot access for the state's black citizens and for the young, two demographic groups that voted heavily for Barack Obama in 2008 and are likely to do so again in 2012.

The Republicans' wet dream for a voter photo ID bill would hamper the voting rights of several thousand of those two groups.

Gov. Perdue vetoed that bill. When the Republicans attempted to override it in the General Assembly, the Democrats in the NC Senate held firm, and the override failed.

Now, in a transparent attempt to build public pressure on Democrats in the state Senate and on the governor, the Republican-dominated county commissions in four NC counties have passed resolutions requesting that the General Assembly pass "local bills" to require photo IDs of voters in just those counties.

That would be patently unconstitutional, but never mind that. One of those four counties, Craven, is considered Gov. Perdue's home county, so the opportunity for public embarrassment of the governor was just too delicious to pass up. Five Republican commissioners in Craven trumped the two Democratic commissioners.

And by the way, in those four counties pushing for local photo ID laws -- Craven, Gaston, Davidson, and Rowan -- there are 22 total Republican commissioners, to 3 total Democratic commissioners. Yeah, they need a photo ID law because, obviously, those 3 Democrats could not have won office without fraud, right?

This is all a put-up job, a clumsy (not to say ridiculous) attempt to steam-roll the public and cower the Senate Democrats.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Simple Truth

"Here’s why the supercommittee [failed], in one sentence: Democrats wanted the rich to pay more in taxes towards deficit reduction, and Republicans wanted the rich to pay less in taxes towards deficit reduction."

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Local Hero

Curtis Smalling--

"Since joining Audubon North Carolina a decade ago, Smalling has helped North Carolina add three new chapters, unheard of growth at the time. He also serves and advises on several working groups as well as regional and state partnerships, including the North Carolina State Scientific Counsel for Birds and the Atlantic Flyway Initiative. He is a key player in incorporating IBA [Important Bird Area] data into North Carolina’s Statewide Comprehensive Conservation Planning Process, a major tool in citing issues and threats to natural resources across the state, as well as engaging local partners for conservation."

Curtis gets recognized for his dedication and his work with a nationally competitive fellowship.

Couldn't have happened to a more deserving individual!

Looks Like a Dem Primary in the NC-10

Patsy Keever says she's also running for Congress in the newly drawn NC-10, joining Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy, who announced a few days ago.

Keever has extensive political experience. Most recently, she defeated incumbent blue dog Bruce Goforth in the NC House Dist. 115, but Republicans in the General Assembly rewarded that bold move by "double-bunking" Keever and Democratic House member Susan Fisher. (Meanwhile, Bruce Goforth switched parties and went to work for Republican Speaker Thom Tillis ... just to prove that his primary challenge from Keever was prescient and probably divinely inspired.)

Keever also previously ran for Congress in 2004 against long-time Republican incumbent Charles Taylor in the NC-11. Heath Shuler eventually retired Taylor.

Anyhoo, looks like a pretty substantive primary is shaping up, with either candidate presenting Patrick McHenry with a credible challenger. Plus, O my brethren, it can't be a bad thing to bring the Dems out for the primary in order to vote against Dan Soucek's hateful anti-gay amendment. Probably, the more hot Dem primaries we have in May, the more the anti-gay amendment suffers.

Bring 'em on!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Republican Budget Hits ASU

Most complete accounting we've seen for how the new Republican budget is touching -- "slamming" would be more like it -- Appalachian State University:

1. 18 -- "at least" -- employees are losing their jobs.

2. 53 vacant faculty positions ... eliminated.

3. 18 graduate and undergraduate programs ... eliminated.

4. 74 tenure-track faculty lost reassigned time, and 30 faculty off-campus scholarly assignments ... stopped.

5. Operating budgets for colleges and departments ... reduced by 30 to 40 percent.

6. Belk Library operating budget ... slashed by 35 percent, with library hours reduced by 25 percent—meaning the facility is no longer open 24 hours any days of the week.

7. Et freakin' cetera.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Patty McHenry Draws a Credible Challenger

Terry Bellamy, the popular mayor of Asheville since 2005, has announced that she will run against Congressman Patrick McHenry in the redrawn 10th Congressional District. Most of the city of Asheville was gerrymandered into McHenry's otherwise safe Republican district ... apparently, just to make things interesting.

The upside for McHenry? He gets to campaign now in gay-friendly Asheville.

The downside for McHenry? He has to campaign now in Asheville.

There will apparently be a Democratic primary in this race, since there's another announced Democrat already running. And, of course, McHenry will have his own primary, as he always does, against one or more Republicans who don't cotton to Little Patty for one reason or another.

Thom Tillis Is Full of Pain That He Has To Be So Anti-Gay

The Speaker of the NC House’s townhall meeting in Boone last night generated news from Thom Tillis: “Marriage is not a constitutional right.”

Repeatedly hit for his anti-gay constitutional amendment, Tillis essentially apologized for it. “I have a personal difficulty with [that] constitutional amendment because I don’t believe government should be telling us what to do, but” ... yadda yadda yadda ... “marriage is not a constitutional right.”

In other words, “they made me do it.” He kept repeating that 60 to 70 members of the General Assembly pressured him into letting the anti-gay amendment go forward, and he really really regretted it, being such a small-government conservative like he is. But whatta ya gonna do when 70 people pressure you? Stand up to them like a man with convictions? Why, no.

Speaker Tillis was hit almost immediately after the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag at the beginning of the festivities. Someone stood up and pointed out that we all just publicly honored “liberty and justice for all.” So how is the anti-gay amendment an example of that?

Another woman delivered one of the most articulate denunciations of anti-gay legislation that we’ve heard. The action in the General Assembly (led by Dan Soucek, incidentally, who was sitting on the front row grinning like Alfred E. Neuman), was simply “shameful,” the woman said. “Loving people should have the same rights as I do, a heterosexual person and an ordained minister.” That seemed to stun Tillis for just a microsecond, but Mr. Speaker is nothing if he’s not slick and practiced in this kind of setting. He struggled nevertheless for coherence in responding to the female minister: “This is not an issue that I completely disregard some of the arguments you make,” he said, twisting his syntax until it squealed.

In other questions/comments, it was pointed out that education in the state was “cut hard.” “What else was cut as hard?” the young man asked. The answer – Health & Human Services and the Department of Environment & Natural Resources – landed with a thud. An elderly woman followed up, pointing out that national studies showed that North Carolina was the 10th most toxically polluted state in the Union. Speaker Tillis launched into some boilerplate “cost-benefit” analysis blah blah blah “pendulum swings” blah blah blah, completely ignoring the woman’s concern about toxic pollution. Impatient with his answer, the woman interjected, “Either you’re killing people with toxic pollution or you’re not.”

Too much money in politics – and specifically too much Art Pope money – came up, and out of the Speaker’s mouth fell this stunning piece of political philosophy: “The democratic process suffers without the expenditure of money.” Well, all-righty then!

The Speaker has spoken publicly about the possibility of reinstating funding for the popular Teaching Fellows program for college students who want to become public school teachers. This valuable program was zeroed out in the Republican budget. But when two full rows of ASU Teaching Fellows stood and applauded Tillis for expressing this viewpoint, he began backpedaling: “I’ve only recommended that it be reinstated,” he warned, and then told the college students that the onus was on them: “You’ve got to build the business argument for its value.”

Ah! There’s no argument like the “business argument” to this Speaker, and one person in the audience called him out on that: “Why are you so focused on pleasing business? You’re too tilted toward big corporations.” At which Tillis invoked the Holy Godhead of Republican Politics, the “job creators,” before which he genuflects, and the old discredited meme that North Carolina has the worst business environment in the known universe (“the tax and regulatory burden”). Not true, but never mind when you’re worshipping at the corporate altar (whose money, as we had already learned, equals democracy!).

The question that went unasked and therefore unanswered, the question that is now hanging in the air and demands an answer: “Since you’re so personally opposed to government that intrudes into our personal lives, Mr. Speaker, are you going to vote against Amendment One next May 8th?”

Monday, November 14, 2011

They'll Never Have Enough Money

Reported in the NYTimes yesterday ...
While major banks have backed away from charging customers to use their debit cards, many of them have been imposing fees elsewhere, such as raising the cost of a basic checking account. Commenting on the new fees, Richard Davis, U.S. Bancorp’s chief executive, said “we’ll see if our customers complain and move, or just complain.”
Is that a "dare ya" or not? Believe we'll accept that dare.

Meanwhile, those swell guys on Fox News labeled Occupy Wall Street as "toxic," "Marxist," "anti-democratic," and "un-American." Apparently, it's the height of patriotic godliness to just bend over and facilitate the screwing we've been getting.

Oh, Fox News, you're so cute and so bought off.

"The Only Marriage We Should Be Concerned About"

Though the Republican leadership in the NC General Assembly trotted out some black ministers months ago to preach against committed relationships having the right to marriage, the North Carolina NAACP has stood steadfast for marriage equality and against Amendment One. NAACP President Rev. William Barber reiterated that position this past weekend at the EqualityNC "Foundation Conference" in Greensboro. We like this excerpt (full video below, courtesy of Pam Spaulding):
…The marriage we should be concerned about is the marriage of corporate money and politics. Ultra-conservative corporations have tied the knot with an ugly set of anti-public policies that undermine public education, voter protection, workers rights, protection from payday lenders, health care reform and other programs established for the public good....

Friday, November 11, 2011

Dear UNC: Don't Raise Tuition

Under the Dome is reporting that a split has developed on the UNC Board of Governors over whether to raise tuition next year to deal with the budget losses imposed by the new Republican regime in Raleigh. Some on the BOG are against raising tuition and telling the NC General Assembly, "Now you deal with it."

We applaud that stand.

What's somewhat eyebrow-raising is the prime mover, according to Dome, of that viewpoint ... Fred Eshelman, a Big Pharma executive, nationally recognized hater of Obama, and one of the chief funders who put the Republican regime in place in Raleigh last year. The 527 group Right Change is largely his creature.

Eshelman wanted the Tea Party in charge in Raleigh to cut the budget, thoroughly and ruthlessly. Wouldn't that be a safe assumption? Now, having been appointed to the Board of Governors as a reward for funding the Republican revolution, he's prepared to tell the budget-whackers to stuff it, as far as the University of North Carolina is concerned (and it IS concerned).

Ain't human nature wonderful?

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Personhood of the Fetus Crew Wants to Butt into NC

Fresh off getting the stuffing kicked out of them in one of the most religiously conservative states in the union yesterday, the "fetus is a person" bunch is attempting to intervene in the American Civil Liberties Union/Planned Parenthood/Center for Reproductive Rights lawsuit against North Carolina's highly restrictive new abortion law.

"Intervention" as a legal term refers to a procedure by which a court can allow a non-party to join on-going litigation over the objections of, or without the permission of, the original litigants. The basic logic of "intervention" is that a judgment in the matter at hand would affect the rights of third parties, i.e., people who in this particular instance will not stop until American women are turned into involuntary breeders.

Not a Good Night for Republicans

With Kevin Hill's run-off win for the Wake County School Board last night, the brief but highly inflammatory regime of the Republican re-segregationists is over.

Voters in Ohio slammed shut the door on Republican anti-unionism. Republican Governor John Kasich's butt happened to be in the door at the time. Haven't checked elsewhere in the Buckeye State, but in Cincinnatti voters ousted four incumbent Republicans from Cincinnati City Council, choosing instead seven Democrats, a majority of African-Americans, and the first openly gay candidate.

Defying all expectations, Mississippi turned out last night to be resoundingly godless on the issue of abortion, rejecting the notorious "personhood" amendment to the state's constitution. (A pro-amendment preacher was heard to say, "Satan wins!") The anti-abortion crowd is undeterred, however, vowing that they will introduce new legislation that will establish that an egg is a chicken, an acorn is an oak, and a silk worm is a komono. (And incidentally, Mississippi, I apologize for all the assumptions I was making about you yesterday. A woman at last night's celebration for victorious Boone Town Council candidates Andy Ball, Lynne Mason, and Allen Scherlen, said to me -- long before Mississippi's results were known -- that the women in Mississippi weren't as stupid as their husbands thought they were.)

Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx whomped his Republican opponent badly, and Democrats swept the four city council at-large seats. Just saw a tweet from Marcus Brandon that Democrats "cleaned house" in Greensboro, though Ed Cone takes a decidedly more measured tone about the outcome.

Over in Kentucky, where we have a lot of friends, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear handily defeated his Republican opponent, while Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway cruised to re-election over an anti-health reform opponent. Democrats also won state-wide races for treasurer, secretary of state, and state auditor.

Attempted voter suppression in Maine didn't fare well. Maine Republicans had eliminated the state’s longstanding practice of same-day voter registration on election day, but the voters said "whoa!" and defeated the law at the polls.

Just a sampling of yesterday's action, grabbed on the fly. Haven't yet found a sour apple in this particular barrel.

Icing on the cake: We have another Republican presidential bitch-slapping in store for tonight!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Deeper Into the Weeds With the Raleigh GOP

Laura Leslie's account of the action in the NC General Assembly yesterday is un-summarizable and should be read -- twice, if possible -- to begin to understand the constitutional bog that Republican redistricting has become in our fair state.

Some bare facts: over 400,000 voters were left out of the new NC House, Senate, and the US Congressional maps, mainly because of the splitting of precincts between two and sometimes three different voting districts.

Leslie: "Legislative staff and lawmakers were in agreement that the mistakes in the current bill make it unconstitutional. Some districts aren’t contiguous, while others have too many or too few voters."

The "fix" that the Republicans performed yesterday is also unconstitutional, according to Rep. Rick Glazier, absent the judicial system's involvement, so it seems fairly certain that some judge is eventually going to be sorting out this mess for months to come.

Leslie wrote more on the "unconstitutional" issue here.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

The Laws They Pass Depend on Who Does NOT Show Up

Because Thom Tillis and That Other Guy in the NC Senate have laid a veil of secrecy over what the special session of the NC General Assembly tomorrow is supposed to accomplish, the rumor mill is speculating on all cylinders.

House Speaker Tillis said back in June that he'll take any opportunity -- that is, the absence of any Democratic members -- to try to pass again, over the Governor's veto, The Photo Voter Disenfranchisement Act of 2011: "If seven Democrats don't show up for a publicly announced session, that would be the easy way to override it," Tillis said.

Mr. Tillis will be holding one of his notorious "open" town hall meetings in Boone a week from Monday, on Nov. 14 at 5 p.m., in the Broyhill Room at the Broyhill Inn on the ASU Campus. His office is insisting that attendees pre-register, which is a fairly straightforward way to control the attendance and to make sure the wrong people don't get called on to ask a question (here's the address for letting the gate-keepers know you're planning to attend:

We're somewhat familiar with the way these "open" meetings go, where ostensibly Tillis wants to hear what citizens think but really wants to mount a platform for unrestricted crowing. Katy Munger attended one of his town halls in Forsyth County recently and wrote about the experience. She's informative.

Friday, November 04, 2011

The Lawsuit Against Redistricting

The lawsuit filed yesterday in Superior Court of Wake County against the Republican redistricting of North Carolina ... was filed in the state court system, rather than the federal, because the suit alleges that the redistricting maps violate state law in these three particulars:
1. Divided Counties: These maps violate North Carolina’s whole county provision by dividing more counties than necessary.

2. Divided Precincts: These maps unnecessarily split precincts to create districts. More than 2,000,000 citizens live in precincts that have been split between two and sometimes three different districts.

3. Packing: These maps segregate black voters into a small number of districts. Approximately half North Carolina’s black citizens have been packed into three congressional districts, 10 Senate districts and 25 House districts. This is not only illegal, it also turns back the clock on decades of progress that North Carolina has made in race relations.
As to the "preclearance" granted by the U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday, it's irrelevant as far as this lawsuit goes. Sen. Josh Stein, Democratic Whip in the NC Senate who represents Wake County, issued this statement:
“Make no mistake: Nothing that happened in Washington, DC [on Nov. 1] changes the unlawful and racially divisive maps that the Republicans passed in the North Carolina legislature. The Department of Justice examined a very narrow federal issue that concerns only 40 of our 100 counties. The Republican maps still violate the state constitution’s whole county provision and they illegally segregate voters according to race without cause. The Department of Justice did not consider either violation during its preclearance review because it was not authorized to. These and other violations will be fully considered by the courts, and we are quite confident that once the facts are in full view, the courts will guarantee the people of North Carolina fair and legal maps at the end of this process.”
The lawsuit linked in the 1st paragraph above is actually a second suit filed by different plantiffs. The text of the lawsuit discussed in this post in here.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

There But For Fortune

I knew next-to-nothing about Phil Ochs, a big name in the American Folk Song Scare of the 1960s, which made the new documentary, There But For Fortune, a major revelation. This is a short clip from the film, which is (ultimately) a very sad chronicle of a great heart.

The Protective Coloring of Madam Foxx

We had been wondering why Madam Virginia Foxx had toned down her off-year rhetoric. In the past, during odd-numbered years when she was not actively running for reelection, she dropped such bombs as these:

"Governmental attempts to regulate and tax tobacco are no different than if the government were to regulate and tax Mountain Dew." April 8, 2009, to teenagers at North Surry High School

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

“I believe we have more to fear from the potential of that [health reform] bill passing than we do from any terrorist right now in any country.” November 2, 2009, on the floor of the U.S. House

Yadda, yadda, yadda.

In 2011, she's mainly confined herself to personal braggadocio (recently claiming that she's one of the most accomplished defenders of women's rights in the history of the universe and that she's a "right-wing radical" just like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were). Oh, she did say that it was "unconscionable that we have 45 million people in this country getting food stamps," not because we have that many hungry citizens but because 45 million people were getting something for free.

But we digress. Comes this a.m. in the NYTimes a possible explanation for why she's keeping a lower rhetorical profile these days ... the verifiable statistic that most Americans now despise their own member of Congress. Used to be that voters despised everybody else's member of Congress. But now, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll in September, only 33 percent of registered voters believe their own member deserves to be re-elected.

Possible challengers to Madam Foxx are beginning to line up. Might make Foxx want to appear slightly less inflammatory (and, naturally, more Baptist).