Friday, July 29, 2011

GOP Clown College Puts a Heavy Thumb on Mecklenburg

The Republican Clown College in Raleigh likes to brag about how they like limited government.

Except when they feel the need to act like Big Brother.

Which is what they just did to Mecklenburg County.

Charlotte Observer has the story in a stinging editorial which calls the Republican General Assembly's behavior "a shocking abuse of power."

Yeah, we're shocked all right.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Clown College Has Chosen Its Voters

The new district maps for U.S. Congressional seats and for both the NC Senate and House got final passage last night. They are not subject under law to a veto by the governor.

Not only are counties split between districts; many precincts are split. The gerrymandering surpasses what any previous Machiavelli ever dreamed up. Laura Leslie points out a side cost to all this that has gone largely undiscussed:
"...The resulting lines divide hundreds of voting precincts across the state, running down sidestreets, across college campuses and through apartment complexes. Critics of the maps say the split districts will require local elections boards to print many more specialized ballots, which could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and a lot of headaches for voters and elections officials in 2012...."

That will be an unfunded mandate, folks, falling on local boards of elections (a.k.a., county commissions) in those counties singled out for the slicing-and-dicing. Watauga was left intact.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cave-Ins and Pay-Backs

The spectacle of Democratic members of the NC House lying down with dogs in order to override a string of the governor's vetoes -- with one notable exception -- is now matched by the spectacle of a couple of those Democrats being evidently awarded by having their districts redrawn in a way that might save their sorry behinds in the next election.

The only possible bright spot in the whole Raleigh debacle is being provided by two Republican senators, both of whom are not promising at the moment to override the governor on the passage of the insulting and intrusive abortion restriction bill. If one of them caves, Perdue's veto will be overridden. At least one of the two, Sen. Stan Bingham, R-Davidson, is holding firm: "I really don't intend on changing my position," he said today. "I still feel strongly it's not a decision government should be involved in."

Republicans in Raleigh have provided the road map for setting this state back a generation and for worsening the environment and the economy, but it's been Democrats down there who've actually allowed them to do the worst of it ... and to weaken our governor in incalculable ways for 2012.

The anger in this state could spark a #FuckYouRaleigh movement to rival the #FuckYouWashington phenom.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Photo ID Veto Stands; Women Under New Abortion Restrictions

The General Assembly, again with Democratic votes in the NC House, has overridden the governor's veto of the new restrictions on abortion. Young women, get ready for being treated as wards of the state.

But tweets coming out of Raleigh say that the veto on the Voter Photo ID bill has been upheld, but then House Republicans maneuvered to vote 68-51 to allow the veto override to resurface at some point in the future. "It’s not settled till it’s settled right," said the remarkably arrogant Paul Stam.

The Skewed Vision of Virginia Foxx

"There are no Americans who don't have healthcare. Everybody in this country has access to healthcare."

--Rep. Virginia Foxx, July 24, 2009, in a Capitol Hill press conference

If the Congresswoman wanted to see past her blinders of wealth, privilege, and conservative ideology -- which, of course, she does not -- she might notice the spectacle of over 1,000 poor, rural people living not very far from her own district, who stood in lines sometimes for hours to get basic medical care in animal stalls at the Wise County Fairgrounds.

Tom Sullivan has an eye-witness account of the 12th annual Remote Area Medical (RAM) Health Expedition in southwest Virginia.

Let 'em heal themselves, eh, Congresswoman?

Veto Override Attempt This Week of Photo ID

With up to 10 "Democrats" in the NC General Assembly performing repeatedly as willing handmaidens to the Republicans for overriding the governor's vetoes of corporatist and backward legislation, who knows what will happen when the Dark Overlords of the Universe attempt to override Beverly Perdue's veto of the Voter Suppression Act of 2011 later this week?

DemocracyNC has been leading much of the opposition to the photo ID law, and they make their final arguments today, and we're grateful:
Advocates for requiring voters to show a government photo ID are hitting a few more points in their closing arguments before a veto override vote expected this week. The arguments all fall short. First, they say, “Democrats in Rhode Island just adopted a photo ID law, why not do it here.” But the RI law is much different than the vetoed NC bill, H-351. Rhode Island’s photo requirement is phased in, becoming effective Jan. 1, 2014, and a photo ID from a private college is acceptable, not just from a public university as in H-351. Most important, a voter without an ID can fill out a provisional ballot and it will count if election officials later match the signature with the voter’s signature in the registration file. Unlike H-351, the voter need not return to the election office – a person’s signature at the polling place is enough.

Next ID advocates say, “The majority of states require voters to show an ID, and NC should, too.” Yes, 30 of the 50 states require some kind of ID, but even after the big push by GOP legislatures, only 7 states have a law as restrictive as H-351. Legislators in the other 43 states are just as concerned about fraud, but they recognize Big Government intimidation is not needed.

Another argument goes, “The vast majority of North Carolinians favor requiring an ID.” Yes, it’s popular and makes common sense until you consider all the facts. In the same poll (page 14), 10% of respondents said it would “decrease their ability to vote.” If just 2% were pushed aside, that’s well over 100,000 people penalized at a huge expense for no real increase in voter security.

Finally, we’re told, “Voter turnout in Georgia was not hurt by its strict photo ID requirement.” It’s tough to isolate what factors influence changes in voter turnout, but look at this evidence: In the five presidential elections (1988-2004) before 2008, the voter turnout rate in North Carolina exceeded the rate in Georgia by 3 to 5 percentage points. But in 2008, after Georgia adopted its ID law, our turnout rate was 6.6% higher – 61.3% of voting-age adults cast ballots compared to 54.7% in Georgia. Georgia is now 30% African American, compared to 22% in North Carolina, so you’d think Georgia would have experienced a bigger surge than NC with the Obama factor in 2008. But that didn’t happen. There was an increase over 2004, but it was tamped down by something. No doubt, some people would like a big turnout tamped down in NC in 2012. A 1.5% decrease in turnout among the 7.2 million adults in NC means 100,000 voters who would not have their voices heard.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ohio Beat Us Out for 8th Place!

The 10 Craziest State Legislatures in America.

We demand a recount.

One of the Five Goobers Strikes Again

NC House member Bill Owens gives new meaning to the phrase "destructively befuddled."

He just voted to override the governor's veto of the Gutting of Environmental Regulations Act of 2011 (S781), a.k.a., Regulatory Reform Act, apparently because he saw that the override was going to fail 75-43 ... because

1. Two minutes -- literally, two minutes! -- after he voted with Gov. Perdue to uphold the veto, he changed his vote to go with the Republicans, making the final vote enough for the override (76-42), and

2. A few minutes before that he had said in debate that he would vote to sustain the governor's veto, yessiree-Bob.

Befuddlement? Wrong word, probably, as it appears much more calculating, since Mr. Owens apparently (and quite obviously) changed his vote on the veto because four Republicans are absent today, and Speaker Thom Tillis had to call in his chit.

This prize of a Democratic legislator announced on June 3rd that he would not be running for reelection, so perhaps he feels perfectly free to make a perfect spectacle of his so-called "principles."

Okay, Who's Got a Tent?

A thousand flowers seem to be blooming from the #FuckYouWashington movement in the Twitterverse (hearty hattip to J.L.). Well, at least one pretty compelling idea: "On September 17, we want to see 20,000 people flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street ['the financial Gomorrah of America'] for a few months. Once there, we shall incessantly repeat one simple demand in a plurality of voices."

That "one single demand" is at present unformed but forming. The discussion among organizers about #OCCUPYWALLSTREET, however, contains the potent germ that can sprout and grow BIG:
...we demand that Barack Obama ordain a Presidential Commission tasked with ending the influence money has over our representatives in Washington. It's time for DEMOCRACY NOT CORPORATOCRACY, we're doomed without it.

This demand seems to capture the current national mood because cleaning up corruption in Washington is something all Americans, right and left, yearn for and can stand behind. If we hang in there, 20,000-strong, week after week against every police and National Guard effort to expel us from Wall Street, it would be impossible for Obama to ignore us. Our government would be forced to choose publicly between the will of the people and the lucre of the corporations.

This could be the beginning of a whole new social dynamic in America, a step beyond the Tea Party movement, where, instead of being caught helpless by the current power structure, we the people start getting what we want whether it be the dismantling of half the 1,000 military bases America has around the world to the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act or a three strikes and you're out law for corporate criminals. Beginning from one simple demand – a presidential commission to separate money from politics – we start setting the agenda for a new America.

The path to our own Tahrir Square?

According to Forbes magazine (which views this development with amusement masking alarm), the source of the above expression of resistance to corporate America comes from Kalle Lasn, "editor-in-chief at rabble rousing Vancouver-based magazine Ad Busters."

There's now an #OCCUPYWALLSTREET Facebook group (natch!), and over 1,200 people have already confirmed that they'll be attending.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Twitterverse Sends a Terse Message to D.C.

As trending topics on Twitter go, this one is possibly of more than transitory interest.

Enough so that CBS News has picked up the story.

Don't start the revolution without me.

The man and the story behind #FuckYouWashington.

Friday, July 22, 2011

How to Make a Republican Big-Wig Happy: Increase Unemployment

The North Carolina state Employment Security Commission announced that unemployment soared to 9.9% in June as community colleges, universities and other state government employers cut 7,600 workers -- the direct and measurable first impact of the new state budget enacted by the new Republican majority in the General Assembly. Accomplished despite the Governor's veto (thanks, again, Five Goobers!)

Republicans chickens coming home to roost.

Meanwhile, confirmed millionaire and NC GOP Chair Robin Hayes sez that not only is he proud of this, but he's hoping for even more lay-offs. Which he will get, believe it.

It'll be a merry Christmas for Robin Hayes!

NC Taxpayers Are Paying for GOP's Out-Sourced Maps

The top Republican political hack, Tom Hofeller, who drew the new congressional district maps in Washington, D.C., was paid with North Carolina taxpayer money. Laura Leslie has the scoop. Which opens up the next mystery to be solved: How much taxpayer money? Laura Leslie:
"...Unless the attorneys send [NC] lawmakers a detailed bill with Hofeller’s contract broken out, it may never be known how much tax money was spent on it...."
Nevertheless, we expect the other shoe will drop ere long, and we'll all find out that Republicans are extremely good, after all, at sucking off taxpayer money.

Damon Circosta, director of the NC Center for Voter Education, has the propriety of this use of taxpayer money exactly right: "If the goal of hiring an expert is to achieve partisan advantage, and not fair and legal maps, then it shouldn’t be publicly paid for."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

NC GOP Out-Souces Its Appetite

Who drew the new NC Congressional maps? Not, as it turns out, anybody in Raleigh.

The new Republican majority in Raleigh apparently farmed out the maps to a Republican political operative in Washington, D.C., one Tom Hofeller, who as recently as April 2010 was licking his chops over redistricting as a top staffer at the Republican National Committee.

USA Today has described Hofeller as a “key Republican general” in the fight to manipulate state politics through redistricting (via Cottonmouth). He's apparently now working for a "campaign mail outfit" in northern Virginia.

The man who drew our new maps works as a for-profit right-wing political operative.

How much was he paid?

After working in state legislative redistricting battles for three decades, he wrote "What I've Learned About Redistricting -- The Hard Way" in 2000 and laid out his political philosophy:
● No permanent allies

● No permanent enemies

● Only permanent interests

● Self interest binds, honor doesn’t

Okay. Got it!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Forecast: Cloudy with Chance of Litigation

Nelda Holder in the Mountain XPress recounts a little instructive history of North Carolina redistricting, RE the new Republican majority's sweaty ambition to shiv as many current Democratic members of both the U.S. Congress and the NC General Assembly ... starting with this:
...After the 1980 census, the Legislature was forced to draw up three different redistricting plans before one of them passed muster with federal judges. In the 1990s, it took four plans. Following the 2000 count, there were five....

Even before any litigation, the Republicans have already drawn two different maps for the state's U.S. Congressional districts.

Holder also includes some context for the long-proposed non-partisan redistricting commission, something leading Republicans were for last year and against this year:
Since [1993], at least 23 bills proposing a nonpartisan redistricting process have been introduced in the General Assembly, according to the official website. Three of them were filed in the current, Republican-dominated session. Twenty were put forward under the Democrats between 1993 and 2009, often sponsored by Republicans such as Sen. Tom Apodaca of Hendersonville, Sen. Phil Berger of Eden and Rep. Thom Tillis of Mecklenburg County. Those three are part of the new Republican leadership in Raleigh: Apodaca chairs the powerful Ways & Means Committee, Berger is the Senate’s president pro tempore, and Tillis is speaker of the House. Their names no longer appear in the list of those sponsoring nonpartisan-redistricting legislation.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Redrawn Congressional District Maps

Out this p.m. Apparently done to avoid lengthy litigation. G'luck with that!

Laura Leslie has the first quick look that we've seen.

Some numbers relevant to the above:
Party registration numbers in the newly proposed 5th District:
35.3% Dems
41.5% Reps
23% Una

Compared to the 1st redistricting map:
35% Dem
42% Rep
23% Una

Compared further to the CURRENT 5th Dist. map:
31% Dem
48% Rep
21% Una

Monday, July 18, 2011

Judge Manning: Not So Fast There, NC Gop

Judge Howard Manning issued a ruling this afternoon that sez the Republican majority in the NC General Assembly can't just arbitrarily cut at-risk children out of More at Four and other pre-K programs.

Their precious budget is no longer balanced.

"God Didn't Make Man; Man Made Gods"

Just now, in the cognitive monsoon of Washington Tea Party irrationality, comes this exploration of science and religion written by a University of Virginia psychiatrist:
We can be better as a species if we recognize religion as a man-made construct. We owe it to ourselves to at least consider the real roots of religious belief, so we can deal with life as it is, taking advantage of perhaps our mind's greatest adaptation: our ability to use reason.

Not bloody likely, you say, and you would be right. But the research is compelling that we are not -- by dint of unredeemed, naturally sinful human nature -- the selfish toads we imagine most "others" to be:
Morality, which some see as imposed by gods or religion on savage humans, science sees as yet another adaptive strategy handed down to us by natural selection.

But we're 21st Century Americans. We don't believe in evolutionary science. We believe in hellfire and eternal damnation.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

You Just Slip Out the Back, Jack

Michele Bachmann and her husband (who's become famous in his own right, ever since Jon Stewart noticed him) quietly stepped away from membership in a Minnesota Lutheran church that preaches that the Pope is the Antichrist:
...CNN notes that Salem Lutheran Church still maintains some ties with the Bachmann family. “It lists a Christian counseling center operated by Bachmann’s husband on its website under special member services for confidential counseling.”

Bachmann must still account for her ongoing connection with other radical preachers and churches, especially Bradlee Dean of the notoriously anti-gay You Can Run But You Can’t Hide ministry. Dean has been described as “Bachmann’s Jeremiah Wright,” and has repeatedly called for gays and lesbians to be put in prison and has said executing gays is “moral.”

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pat McCrory's Creepy Race-Based Fundraising

Republican Pat McCrory is running again for governor of North Carolina and has clearly decided to take the Jesse Helms-blazed low road to get there.

McCrory began feeding race-based fears in a fundraising e-mail yesterday, resurrecting Southern whites' favorite racial scapegoat, ACORN: Did you know, for example, that (according to McCrory's white nightmare), "Hundreds of Acorn type organizers are descending on our state in an attempt to influence the election"?

The only way to ward off this evil, according to McCrory, is to overturn Gov. Perdue's veto of the Jim Crow-inspired Voter Photo ID bill. And, oh yeah by the way, give Pat McCrory copious amounts of cash so he can continue his trash-talk and take North Carolina back to the 1920s where it belongs.

"Political Trash Talk" is exactly what Greensboro News&Record's editorial writer Doug Clark labeled McCrory's scummy pitch:
Pat McCrory was a good candidate for governor in 2008, and maybe he'll win the anticipated rematch with Bev Perdue next year.

But this is the wrong way to go about it.

"Is someone else voting in your name?"

No, Pat. Is someone else writing this political trash talk in your name? (Probably.)...

The concern about voting fraud is phony, contrived, calculated to arouse the gullible.

I'm disappointed McCrory is running with it. He can do a lot better, and he would be if he'd focus on jobs, the economy, education and making state government work effectively and efficiently.

Voter ID isn't going to make North Carolina a better state. All it's done so far is make people more suspicious of each other -- and give Republicans a silly issue to run on.

McCrory's decision to belly up to the racial politics smorgasbord reminded loftT over at BlueNC of the gospel of voter suppression that Paul Weyrich was preaching all the way back in 1980:
"Now many of our Christians have what I call the goo-goo syndrome — good government. They want everybody to vote. I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people, they never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."

Friday, July 15, 2011

Scott Keadle, Resurrected

You're forgiven if you've forgotten the name Scott Keadle. He's the Iredell County dentist and former one-term County Commissioner who was one of two Republican primary challengers against Little Patty McHenry in the NC10 in 2010.

Now, according to this Republican site, he's planning to run in another Republican primary totally out of his district, the NC8, potentially to challenge incumbent blue-dog Democrat Larry Kissell.

Despite some expensive Republican hired guns he's enlisted, just what is the track record of candidates running in congressional districts where they don't live?

NC GOP Creates Jobs -- NOT!

Since the Republican budget went into effect in NC on July 1, at least 1,012 people have lost their jobs, according to the NC Office of State Personnel (via Progressive Pulse).

These are actual jobs with actual people filling them. But since these now-unemployed folks worked for the people of North Carolina, Republicans apparently regard them only as convenient cannon fodder. Let them eat air!

To recap, this Republican job-killing budget was courageously vetoed by Gov. Perdue. Her veto was over-ridden only because five NC House Democrats -- the Five Goobers -- chose to vote with the Republicans.

The job-loss figure above is very conservative, as it does not count job losses in the state's 115 public school districts or its community college system. Many NC counties are already reporting job losses in schools in the multiple hundreds. The state's Department of Public Instruction is trying to compile cumulative job losses in public education, and those numbers should be available by the first week of the new school term.

Increased unemployment in a down economy -- that is the "Republican brand."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Redistricting "Oops"?

John Davis is a big-wig Republican strategist who has insider access to everything happening with the new Republican majority in Raleigh. His for-profit "Political Report" got to release a "first peek" at NC House and Senate district maps, which caused some trouble for the Republicans holding the maps out of reach from their Democratic brethren.

Anyway, now John Davis is saying that eastern NC congressional districts may have to be redrawn because G.K. Butterfield's 1st Dist. map violates the federal Voting Rights Act.

Davis sez this "could be a blessing in disguise," to keep all the new maps out of years-long litigation ... which would mean that the next election could be conducted under the old maps ... not something any right-thinking Republican would welcome.

Answering Cincinnatus on Redistricting

In one of the comment threads down below, Cincinnatus posted the following comment:
Democrats or Republicans create the Gerrymanders they think will keep them elected.

Mr. Williamson, would you voice similar complaints if your people had drawn the districts?

Both parties do whatever the heck they want. Neither considers what is best for the people as a whole.

The Republicans screw the middle class to help the wealthy and the Democrats screw the middle class to help the poor.

Either way, the folks in the middle get hosed. A plague on both your houses.

7:00 AM

You can -- and have -- accused me of many things, but I will not accept this charge. In 2009, while the Democrats were still in control of Raleigh, the local Watauga Democratic Party passed the resolution reprinted below. I supported it and still do. In fact, back in 2009, so did the current Republican leaders of the NC General Assembly.

The fact is that Republicans are in charge of the process now. The fact is that they said they would be different. They are. They're worse.
Independent Redistricting Commission

Submitted to the Convention by Blowing Rock Precinct

WHEREAS the Democratic Party of North Carolina strongly believes that competitive elections are the essence of democracy; and

WHEREAS the present partisan system of drawing district lines results in fewer than 15% of North Carolina legislative districts being considered competitive; and

WHEREAS it is in the best long-term interests of the Democratic Party to foster electoral democracy and a government of, by, and for the people, and when the Democratic Party is in power, it can better assure a fair and transparent outcome from reforming the redistricting process; and

WHEREAS this model is currently being successfully used in at least 12 other states;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that in order to create legislative and congressional districts that are truly representative of the population, and to devise redistricting plans that result in competitive congressional and legislative districts, the North Carolina Democratic Party will use all of its influence to encourage the 2009 General Assembly to immediately introduce and support a bill to create a nonpartisan independent redistricting process for the state of North Carolina.

Passed by acclamation April 18, 2009

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

When the Rich Don't Turn Out

Photo today (via Chris Fitzsimon) of the pitiful turn-out at the "veto override" rally staged in Raleigh by Americans for the Prosperous ... despite a robocall to their troops from Pat McCrory, who implied that he would be there but who himself didn't even bother to show up.

The red thingie in the middle is the inflatable oil derrick meant to symbolize this crowd's lust for off-shore oil drilling.

Long on lust, short on a crowd.

Raleigh Republicans Targeting Women

The Republicans in the new majority in the NC General Assembly are planning the elimination of strong women in the NC House. That is to say, Democratic strong women.

Laura Leslie has some preliminary analysis at WRAL, and there's a clear pattern. Among the women marked for extinction are Forsyth's Linda Garrou, Wake's Deborah Ross, Guilford's Pricey Harrison, Buncombe's Patsy Keever.

Minority Leader Joe Hackney has been drawn out of his District 54 and into the 56th with Democrat Verla Insko, another strong female legislator.

Meanwhile, Art Pope's yes-man Jonathan Jordan's 93rd House Dist. is left unchanged ... Watauga and Ashe.

Dan Soucek's Senate District

The new NC General Assembly districts drawn by the Clown College in Raleigh make some major changes to Dan Soucek's 45th Senate District. He would lose Wilkes and Alexander counties and gain Alleghany, Avery, and Caldwell. Watauga and Ashe would remain.

Soucek defeated a good man in 2010, Sen. Steve Goss. Soucek benefitted from big corporate money, the Pope Machine in Raleigh, and from some of the most dishonest campaigning we've seen close up. Since he appears to be free of original thinking and most apt at letting bigger, brighter people run his life for him, we suspect he expects big corporate money, the Pope Machine in Raleigh, and some dishonest campaigning to win his seat again.

Meanwhile, we'll tip our hat at the Law of Unintended Consequences. Caldwell County suddenly becomes the big dog in the 45th Senate District. Caldwell, along with Watauga, represents over 50% of the vote in the new district. Alleghany has been a dependably Democratic-leaning county, with enough votes to off-set the extreme "red" of Avery.

Maybe it'll be a breeze for an empty suit to win this new district. Maybe not. Depends a lot on whether the general public has grown weary of the pie-throwing irresponsibility of the Raleigh Clown College by next fall.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Pretzeling North Carolina's Voters

Jim Morrill in the Charlotte Observer uncovers a few of the delightful twists in the new Congressional districts tortured into balloon animals by the new Republican majority in the NC General Assembly:
● Every last person in Sampson County has been drawn into the 2nd Congressional District except for one person, 85-year-old Sallie Stocks, who lives off a country road near Duplin County. She alone would join the 3rd District, which stretches to the Outer Banks and the Virginia line.

● In the town of Wendell, all 5,845 citizens would be in the 1st District, except for three people along Wendell Boulevard. They would be in the 13th.

● Almost all of Statesville’s 24,532 people would be in the 5th District. Twenty-seven would be in the 9th.

● In the Nash County town of Nashville, 5,349 people would be in the 1st District. Three would be in the 3rd.

● Most of Hickory's 40,000 people would be split between the 5th and 10th Districts. But 84 would move to an 11th District that stretches to the Georgia line.

● A third of North Carolina's 100 counties are split between two or more congressional districts.

● Most of Charlotte would be in the 9th and 12th Districts. But less than 4 percent of the population would be in the 8th.

● Raleigh would be split into four districts: the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 13th. Only 4,500 of its 404,000 people would be in the 2nd.

● In Asheboro, a city of 25,000, 103 people would leave the 6th District for the 8th.

● In the Rowan County town of East Spencer, five of its 1,500 people would move from the 12th District to the 8th.

There's of course a reason (unacknowledged) for all this pretzeling: more Democrats live in North Carolina's towns and cities, and their voting power must be dispersed and flummoxed by The Crowd who's running Raleigh now and who intends to control it until the memory of man runneth not to the contrary.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Completely Deranged Meets Merely Crazy

The newly drawn 13th Congressional Dist., its seat currently held by Democrat Brad Miller, is attracting a veritable smorgasbord of contemporary extremism, featuring (at the moment) both Vernon Robinson and Nathan Tabor, who have both announced their intentions to run for the seat.

Nathan Tabor's only issue is controlling what women do with their bodies.

Vernon's Robinson's extremism scares the bejesus out of many otherwise rational Republicans.

Both Tabor and Robinson ran against Virginia Foxx in the Republican primary of 2004. Robinson actually finished first, Foxx, second, forcing a run-off. Robinson consistently accused Foxx of being a crypto-lesbo-pinko feminist.

Tabor finished fifth in that primary.

Perhaps Tabor and Robinson can have a "stare-off" instead of a debate, seeing how long each could go without blinking.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

More Tales from the Gerrymander

City of Hickory unthrilled to be partitioned into three different districts in order to shiv Heath Shuler and keep both Foxx and McHenry safely shielded.

Under the proposed Republican scheme, 20,578 Hickory residents, or 51 percent, would be shoved into Madam Virginia Foxx's 5th District; 19,348 residents, or slightly more than 48 percent, would remain in Patrick McHenry's 10th; and about 84 Hickory residents would be sliced off into Heath Shuler's 11th.

N.C. Rep. Mark Hilton, a Republican who represents the 96th N.C. House District, sez he doesn't like this divvying up of Hickory. But you watch him salute and vote for it anyway.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Tales From the Gerrymander

Legal eagles may enjoy reading this argument for why the Republican scheme for redistricting Mel Watt's and G.K. Butterfield's 12th and 1st NC congressional districts may be illegal under existing Voting Rights Act rules and case law.

Mixed Messages

Matt Robinson posted on his Facebook page this picture of the little American flags that the Watauga County Republican Party was handing out at the Boone July 4th parade yesterday. Clearly stamped on the wooden part is "MADE IN CHINA."

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Extremism Watch

"No State shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." U.S. Constitution, 14th Amendment

Dan Soucek's proposed amendment to the NC state constitution banning gay marriage would appear to be in direct contradiction to the U.S. Constitution. And Thom Tillis's tortured defense of Mr. Soucek's amendment in front of the Asheville Citizen-Times editorial board gives new meaning to putting lipstick on a pig.

Why can't Tillis be honest about the real motives for putting the anti-gay marriage initiative on the NC ballot ... that it will stir up the bigots in his own party as well as (he hopes) confuse a few puddingheads in the Democratic Party who can be made to fear The Gay? (We know, it's a rhetorical question, sort of like asking, "Why can't you admit you're a jerk?")

John Boyle, who sat in that room at the Asheville Citizen-Times interviewing Mr. Tillis, had an interesting essay out yesterday a.m. on the whole tiresome question of why the North Carolina Republican Party is so retarded. Worth a read.

Hypocrisy Watch

This morning's editorial by Steve Ford in the Raleigh News & Observer dings Republican hypocrisy in the matter of campaign finance. His opening:

"As Paul Stam, the illustrious Apexian who is majority leader in the state House, noted in a letter we published Friday, 'Campaigns cost money.' He could well have gone on to echo another Paul, who wrote in his first letter to Timothy (6:10): 'For the love of money is the root of all evil...'

"Stam was defending his Republican colleagues from our editorial criticism of a fundraiser conveniently timed to put potential contributors over a barrel and loosen up their checkbooks.

"Have Tar Heel Democrats done the same when they've had the chance? Absolutely, as the editorial said. But it was the Republicans who mounted atop their high horses and boasted about how putting them in charge would send a bracing breeze of propriety through the capital. Well, there's no law against the kind of soft-core shakedown they conducted. But let's not pretend it wasn't the same old money-grubbing that fueled GOP complaints about Democratic sleaze...."

Friday, July 01, 2011

The Latest in Gerrymandering

Republican U.S. Congressional map is now out.

Shuler's 11th gets redder (natch). He's lost big chunk of Buncombe (city of Asheville, mainly, which has been moved into Patrick McHenry's 10th), and gains four Republican counties (Avery, Mitchell, Caldwell, and Burke). That athletic director job at the University of Tennessee is perhaps looking better all the time.

Brad Miller's 13th adds Surry and Stokes, formerly in the 5th. He loses some of Raleigh, loses Greensboro, but also gets northern Durham and Orange.

David Price's 4th loses Raleigh and Wake County except for a small chunk. He's left with southern Durham and Orange, a piece of Chatham, and Lee, Harnett, and Cumberland counties.

Wake County (Raleigh) is now split up between four different districts: Miller's, Price's, Ellmers', and (amazingly) Butterfield's. Butterfield's 1st District now does the loop-de-loo from the coast into Wake County.

Larry Kissell's 8th gets redder with Rowan, Davidson, and part of Randolph.

Renee Ellmer's 2nd moves south, out of Franklin, Nash, Chatham, and Lee, loses most of Harnett but gets Sampson, most of Cumberland, and west Wayne.

Virginia Foxx's 5th adds more of Forsyth (but not downtown Winston-Salem) and gains parts of northern Davidson and Rowan counties in exchange for losing Surry and Stokes to Brad Miller. They managed to keep all those black voters in W-S out of Foxx's district by wrapping her around downtown.

Giving Quid Pro Quo a Bad Name

John Deere Inc. induces members of the NC General Assembly, particularly Republican Majority Leader in the NC House Paul Stam, to pass legislation that will favor the company in state contracts (previously), and the company reciprocates by giving the bill's sponsors (including most particularly Paul Stam) $20,000.

One of the bill's other sponsors is Republican David Lewis, a Harnett County farm equipment dealer who carries the John Deere line.

This a.m. Carter Wrenn, the conservative Republican operative and now blogger, had this to say about the confluence of influence and money:

"...any way you look at it seven legislators taking $20,000 from John Deere [and] then sponsoring a bill to help them get state business doesn’t pass the smell test."

If you're emitting a foul odor to one of your most ardent supporters, you're emitting a foul odor.

Where's That Phantom Small Business?

Someone has put up a lickspittle "profile" of Dan Soucek on Wikipedia, and we can't help noticing the curious absence of any mention of Mr. Soucek as a "small businessman," something he bragged about in every campaign mailer last year.

We could never find that small business in the phonebook, on the Secretary of State's website, nor anywhere else that a small business -- that's actually looking for business -- might advertize itself.

Are we now dropping that pretense, Mr. Soucek, or will be see you padding your very thin resume again next campaign season?