Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Nate Silver, Math, and Those Who Spit Nails

If you don't know who Nate Silver is, you really should. He correctly called the outcome of the electoral vote in 2008 for 49 of 50 states. He missed Indiana, which went to Obama. (Those Hoosiers! So bequieted by their conservatism that they sometimes appear deceased, and then they go and do something wholly unexpected. Richard Mourdock, better call your office!) More remarkable, Silver correctly predicted the winners of all 35 Senate races in 2008. He uses math.

And he's making some -- many -- talking heads on TV sputteringly mad. Joe Scarbrough on Morning Joe:
"Nate Silver says this is a 73.6 percent chance that the president is going to win? Nobody in that campaign thinks they have a 73 percent chance — they think they have a 50.1 percent chance of winning. And you talk to the Romney people, it's the same thing," Scarborough said. "Both sides understand that it is close, and it could go either way. And anybody that thinks that this race is anything but a tossup right now is such an ideologue, they should be kept away from typewriters, computers, laptops and microphones for the next 10 days, because they're jokes."
That outburst led Charles Pierce to observe that Mr. Scarbrough had "engaged in a remarkable feat of Being Stupid." Hee.

For a fairly complete run-down on the math Nate Silver is promoting, and the outrage being expressed against him, here's a very good account of the history (hattip: The Impolitic).

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Breaking: Republican Member of BOE Refuses To Extend Early Voting Hours

Republican member of the local Watauga County Board of Elections, Stacy Eggers IV ("Four"), single-handedly put the kibosh this afternoon on extending the hours of early voting.

Early Voting was seriously down today because of the weather. Gary Bartlett, head of the state Board of Elections, had already communicated with all county boards of elections that they should consider extending voting hours because of the heavy turn-out, but he also mandated that any extensions of voting hours would need to be unanimous.

Watauga County -- like every other county in NC -- has three members of the Board of Elections: two Democrats and one Republican. Four Eggers said he was quite happy with the way things were. No need to extend Early Voting just because of a little snow.

The proposal on the table: extend Early Voting at the Courthouse from 5-7 p.m., Thurs. & Friday of this week, and on Saturday, from 1-3 p.m. Extend Early Voting at the ASU Student Union from 5-7 tomorrow and Thursday.

Safe bet that it was the extension of those ASU hours that gave Mr. Eggers sudden dyspepsia.

Fake Pictures, Fake 'Momentum'

I mean really!

Who Is This Man Laughing At?

That's former Republican Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman, "a top Romney surrogate," laughing at gullible "right-to-lifers" who seem to think that Mitt Romney is on their side RE abortion. Coleman told a crowd of Jewish voters in Ohio yesterday:
“President Bush was president eight years, Roe v. Wade wasn’t reversed. He had two Supreme Court picks, Roe v. Wade wasn’t reversed. It’s not going to be reversed.”
Sen. Coleman made that comment in response to a question “regarding what he would say to voters who are worried about the influence of religious conservatives on the Republican Party.” Well, they should worry.

Romney is previously on record this way (not that being "on record" is anything binding for this particular slippery eel):
“My view is that the Supreme Court should reverse Roe v. Wade and send back to the states the responsibility for deciding whether it is legal or not.”

But ... never mind! Romney needs to win Ohio, and as we all know by now, he'll do or say -- or have his surrogates say -- anything to accomplish that goal.

Though ... get ready for the inevitable whiplash of the Romney campaign disavowing Sen. Coleman's comment. So believe what's most convenient about this curious etch-a-sketch Republican presidential candidate, and I'm sure he'll break his neck to please you.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Rarest of Birds

Ellen Painter Dollar, on "Why I Am a Christian Democrat" ... just one point among many:
...conservative evangelicals, and to some extent the media, continue to put forth the fallacy that a “Christian” voter is a conservative evangelical voter, equating the evangelical subculture with the wider church. Underlying this fallacy is an assumption that anyone who fails to see a straight line connecting their faith tenets to the Republican party platform must have an insubstantial, lip-service faith corrupted by cultural influences. This assumption is dangerous, but mostly, it’s just wrong.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cartoon by Jon Richards. Hattip: The Impolitic

Deb Butler for NC Senate

Other NC General Assembly campaigns could take a page from Deb Butler's challenge to incumbent Republican Senator Thom Goolsby in NC Senate Dist. 9, who voted for the new, intrusive anti-abortion law in the state. This isn't Butler's first use of the transvaginal wand. Previously.

Here's the new TV ad:

Mourdock? What''s a 'Mourdock'?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Hits (On Women) Just Keep on Coming!

Now it's the Republican senatorial candidate in Indiana, Richard Mourdock, who brought the revealed will of God to the political stage last night in a debate with his opponent:
I’ve struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.
Apparently, God has to be on one side or the other in a rape, and it ain't the woman's, according to Mr. Mourdock.

The willingness to impose that kind of religious belief on American women is shared by the Republican 2012 national platform, and by vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Leading the Flock (Over a Cliff)

Rev. Patrick Wooden, one of North Carolina's leading conservative pastors with a 3,000-member congregation in Raleigh, is urging his church members to vote for neither the president nor Mitt Romney, because both are not Christlike enough for the Rev. Wooden.

To be specific, the Rev. Wooden, who was a major cheerleader for the anti-gay Amendment One back in May, thinks Obama became unacceptable when he morphed into a queer-hugger. And Mitt Romney? "I seriously question the intelligence of anyone who believes the doctrine of Mormonism," Wooden wrote in a letter that subsequently became public.

Yeah, don't vote! That'll teach 'em all a lesson!

Monday, October 22, 2012

In Spindale, NC: Torture a Gay Child for Christ!

The things people commit in the name of religion. North Carolina's had quite the streak of this kind of abuse this year, what with the Great Gay Marriage Menace driving so many out of their minds.

Billy Graham: In Control of His Public Voice?

In a January 2011 interview with Christianity Today, Graham said one of the things he would have done differently in his life is that he "would have steered clear of politics. … Looking back I know I sometimes crossed the line…. I wouldn't do that now."

Which makes Billy Graham's recent decision to endorse Mitt Romney for President, while scrubbing an article calling Mormonism a cult from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website, all the more puzzling ... especially to the editors at Christianity Today.

Their majority conclusion? It's not Billy Graham saying and doing these things. It's his son Franklin, the Svengali manipulator.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

All That Glitters Is Not Gold(man)

Debra Goldman is a Tea Party member of the Wake County School Board, and she wants to move up this November to become the state's Auditor, a member of the Council of State. She's clearly unstable, based on details in this leaked police report.

Chris Malone is another Tea Party member of the Wake County School Board who got himself involved romantically with Debra Goldman (see the link above). Chris Malone also wants to move up politically. He's currently running for a seat in the NC House. But he's an idiot for getting himself so wrapped up in the drama of Debra Goldman.

Just the sort of people we need serving the public in North Carolina.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

What Did Patrick Henry Know And When Did He Know It?

Several Cherryville VIPs arrested yesterday in a multi-state theft and extortion ring emanating out of the local police department. Among those arrested ... one Wesley Clayton Golden, 39, "a former captain in the Gaston County Sheriff’s Office who left the force earlier this year but continued to serve as a reserve officer. Golden also once served on Cherryville City Council and served on U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry’s 2010 Gaston campaign steering committee, which reads like a who’s who of the county’s most powerful Republicans."

Debate Night: The Undercard

By Atticus Finch Jr.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012, will probably be remembered as the presidential town hall slugfest in which Mitt Romney revealed his little black binder of women AND challenged President Obama on the Libyan consulate tragedy only to be spanked by moderator Candy Crowley. All I could think of was the Saturday Night Live regular “Emily Litella” saying “Never mind!”

The presidential race was actually the last debate of the night. Earlier in Raleigh the candidates for NC governor also squared off.

And here in Watauga County, this little bird found a discreet spot to watch a local debate hosted by the ASU Student Government Association in collaboration with ASU College Democrats and Young Republicans. Watauga County had its own slugfest Tuesday night at 7pm at the Broyhill Center.

First up was Elisabeth Motsinger, running for U.S. Congress in NC's 5th district. Mrs. Motsinger shadow-boxed her empty podium opponent, answering politely all questions while her opponent was uncharacteristically silent. Motsinger said economic recovery must trump debt reduction and that "focusing on small business is the key, not big business pretending to be small business."

Candidates for NC House district 93 then squared off. Incumbent Jonathan Jordan took a page from Bill O'Reilly's "rumble" with Jon Stewart by bringing visual aid placards with fancy bar charts. If the audience was feeling any Oooooohs and Aaaaaahs over Jordan’s graphic skills, it politely suppressed them. Former House representative Cullie Tarleton struck a blow when he summarized Jordan's budgetary approach "in five words: cuts, cuts and more cuts." Jordan raised the Boone water intake issue, of course, but he resisted reading from Tarleton's 2009 House Bill 1101 this time and instead blamed the Town of Boone. Tarleton quickly pointed out that "the Republican leadership stopped Jordan's attempt to undermine the project."

NC Senate candidates Roy Carter and Dan Soucek provided the greatest contrast. Mr. Soucek was poised and smarmy in his delivery. He explained that he introduced Senate Bill 949 to eliminate Boone's ETJ in order to create a dialogue about this issue. (Oh. That was your intention! Next time, consider a phone call.) Mr. Carter animatedly argued for education saying we're losing our best and brightest by cutting the Teacher Fellows program. Interesting turns of phrases also heard: "voodoo budgeting” (Carter’s accusation), "someway somehow is not a plan" (Soucek’s rejoinder).

Last up were the six candidates running for three Watauga County commissioner seats. Six questions spread across the three races made for a (very) brief opportunity for these candidates.

Last week at the Farm Bureau forum, Tommy Adams claimed "personal property rights" is what his campaign is all about, but tonight I don't think I heard that term even once. Ah yes, the audience of ASU students doesn't own property. So instead he continued to push the business park idea for the old WHS site as the economic solution for the county. (Even as multiple offers have now been tendered, and one accepted.)

This little bird apologizes for becoming mesmerized by Adams' comment on voter fraud and a State Bureau of Investigation case file in Boone in 2005. It was in 2005 that the Templetons tried to take over the Boone Town Council. It’s my understanding that it was Tommy Adams himself who was the object of that investigation. He was accused of trying to help the Templetons by inducing ASU students who were not residents of the town to claim they were and vote for the Templeton slate. Which made it more than slightly amazing that Mr. Adams would raise the issue as an accusation against Democrats.

Republican incumbent commissioner Vince Gable, running against John Welch, again reminded us of what a great job he has done ensuring our county debt is well managed and not a problem. Since fear of debt is a Republican staple, no one gasped. In the last race, Perry Yates said, "I agree with Virginia [Roseman]" and Virginia Roseman said, "I agree with Mr. Yates."

Remainder of debate summed up this way: no gaffes, no home runs. Actually after watching Romney later in the evening, I have to say that no gaffe is a home run.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


A golden oldie: The current Tea Party majority on the Watauga County Commission, from left to right, commissioners David Blust, Vince Gable, and Nathan Miller.

What Happened Here?

The sale of the old Watauga High School, according to the reporting of Jesse Wood, appears to have been manipulated to favor friends/clients of the Miller & Johnson law firm, of which County Commission Chair Nathan Miller is a member. At least, that's the way it looks.


That phrase used by Mitt Romney last night at the Hofstra University debate has become the focus of a whole cottage industry of Romniana (sub-heading: "Unintentionally Revealing Word Choices Committed by the Man Who Would Be President").

The Daily Beast has a general accounting of how the meme blew up on the InnerTubes last night, along with some factual background on those "binders full of women." Turns out that Romney didn't ask for those binders. They were pushed on him by women looking for top-level government jobs.

Marlow Stern summed up Mr. Romney's problem with women in the Daily Beast article linked above: Bain Capital, which Romney ran for 15 years until 1999, there are only seven women among the company’s 87 managing directors and senior executives, or 8 percent, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, falling ever-so-slightly below the national average of 8.1 percent. 
Romney dug the knife in further re: women’s issues when he later chose to share an anecdote about one of his female employees. 
“I recognized that if you're going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school. She said: ‘I can't be here until 7 or 8 o'clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o'clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school.’ So we said fine. Let's have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.” 
The notion that women need flexibility from their male employer (Romney) so they can be home in time to cook dinner for their family is June Cleaver–antiquated, to say the least.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Congressman Ryan Scrubs a Clean Pot

Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan is getting quite the reputation for make believe. His most recent foray into photo-op wishful thinking came at a Youngstown, Ohio, soup kitchen, where he arrived unannounced, barged into the already clean kitchen, and started scrubbing already scrubbed pots and pans for the cameras. Strictly for the cameras.

The president of the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society was not amused: “We’re a faith-based organization; we are apolitical because the majority of our funding is from private donations. It’s strictly in our bylaws not to do it. They showed up there, and they did not have permission. They got one of the volunteers to open up the doors. The photo-op they did wasn’t even accurate. He did nothing. He just came in here to get his picture taken at the dining hall.”

The excruciatingly fake moment was captured by video cameras:

Jesus's words in Matthew 6 leap to mind:
"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men."

Winston-Salem Journal Endorses Elisabeth Motsinger

Elisabeth Motsinger

The way the editors characterize Madam Foxx seems well earned (and, no, we didn't ghost-write that paragraph).

Why We Wish Jon Stewart Was Also On Fridays

Sunday, October 14, 2012

At the Farm Bureau Candidate Forum

By Atticus Finch Jr.

The Farm Bureau held a candidate forum on Thursday. Candidates for the Watauga County Commission and candidates for NC House and Senate participated.

The crowd was, as they say, in Perry Yates’ wheelhouse. He and his family have been farming land in Shawneehaw since before the Indians were here! He’s running for County Commission as the Republican substitute candidate for Tim Wilson, who got into trouble and had to step down back last March.

Despite a crowd apparently stacked agin ’em, most of the other candidates held steady. County Commission candidate Virginia Roseman noted the “if-you’re-not-native-you’re-not-squat” vibe in the room and passionately said that she wasn't born here but this is now her home and she's working for it.

Commission candidate Tommy Adams was a bit weak. He kept saying things like "I agree with most of what's been said" and reminding us over and over that he's a low-taxes-and-personal-property-rights advocate.

Lots of questions about regulations, supporting farming, building inspectors and health inspectors run amok, etc.

Some tussling among the NC House and Senate candidates. Incumbent Senator Dan Soucek said, "Look at our records. Two of us up here have not raised taxes, and one of us has." Candidate for the NC House Cullie Tarleton answered, "I'm proud of my record, Dan." House incumbent Jonathan Jordan read a sentence from Tarleton's water bill and declared, "That gives your water rights to the state," thereby laying the bomb that starts the stampede. (Jordan did the exact same thing – holding up Tarleton’s water bill and reading a sentence out of context and saying “that gives your water rights to the state” – at last Tuesday’s Chamber of Commerce candidate forum. Johnny Appleseed never planted more little seeds!)

Everyone had stories connecting them to farmers. Check!

In the parking lot afterwards, some unknown voice jeering, "Did you hear little Danny Soucek say he planted three tomato plants as a boy!"

Saturday, October 13, 2012

This Page Describing Mormonism as a Cult Has Been Removed from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Website

Mitt and Billy Graham. The hands to Graham's left belong to Franklin Graham
.(AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
"BGEA: What is a cult?"

The above is the archived page. It used to be on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website. It says unequivocally that Mormonism is a cult.

Try searching for this page now, and you get "Our apologies, but the article you requested doesn't exist." But through the miracle of "nothing ever goes away permanently on the Web," it is still retrievable. And you can read Billy Graham's opinion from Wednesday that Mormonism is a cult "which teaches doctrines or beliefs that deviate from the biblical message of the Christian faith."

Billy Graham met with Mitt Romney on Thursday in Montreat, NC, and told him that he wanted to do "all I can" to see him elected president.

All previous statements are now inoperable.

Hattip: Laura Leslie

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Foxx Sings Kum-Ba-Ya

Congresswoman Virginia Foxx and her Democratic challenger Elisabeth Motsinger met for a head-to-head candidate forum on some of the newest real estate in the NC 5th District, at Catawba College in Salisbury. According to the account in the Salisbury Post, Foxx stubbornly maintained that "members of Congress get along better than portrayed by the media."

"The idea that members of the U.S. House of Representatives constantly bicker is a myth, especially on a personal level, Foxx said."

You can decide for yourself why Foxx would insist on a version of reality so at odds with ... well, reality. Does she need for people to believe that she's actually what she often pretends to be, a sweet little old dumpling who only takes extra biscuits from the buffet "because they'd just go to waste."

She certainly doesn't want people to know the truth, that she is herself one of the most poisonously partisan of all the right-wing ideologues in Congress. Here are a few things that Virginia Foxx has said, most of them in the halls of Congress:
“And for my colleagues across the aisle who say this is a misogynist bill, nobody has ever fought more for the rights of women than I have. But 50 percent of the unborn babies that are being aborted are females, so the misogyny comes for those who promote the killing of unborn babies. That's where the misogyny comes in, Madam Speaker.” In debate in the U.S. House over a Republican bill, Protect Life Act, which would allow hospitals to deny treatment to pregnant women, 13 Oct. 2011 
“It’s unconscionable that we have 45 million people in this country getting food stamps. That’s a result of the policies of our Democratic friends across the aisle.” On the floor of the U.S. House in debate over a Republican plan to cut spending to food assistance programs in the Department of Agriculture (H.R.2112), 14 June 2011 
“We’re talking about four years,” Foxx said. “If we don’t take this country back from the leftists who are running it now, we will lose our country.” To the Iredell County Republican Party’s Reagan Day Dinner, Feb. 6, 2010 
“...we [Republican members of Congress] were the people who passed the civil rights bills back in the ’60s without very much help from our colleagues across the aisle.” November 19, 2009, on the floor of the U.S. House 
A Republican health care plan would "make sure we bring down the cost of health care for all Americans and that ensures affordable access for all Americans and is pro-life because it will not put seniors in a position of being put to death by their government." July 28, 2009, on the floor of the U.S. Congress 
“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

Chinos Turneth Away Wrath

Blessed are the flip-flops, for they shall loosen the dress code.

Big news at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University.

All hail the late, great senior Falwell:
Falwell's son, Jerry Falwell Jr., succeeded his father as the university's chancellor. He noted in the same interview that as a result of the senior Falwell's mobilization of conservative Christian voters, now "every politician has to include this voting bloc" in campaign strategies.
The author might have gone even further. Jerry Falwell Sr. really single-handedly oversaw the cooptation of American evangelical religion by the millionaire-driven corporate subversion of American democracy. The fat cats never had it so good until religion became a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mitt Romney Debates Himself


"Protestants no longer a majority in the U.S."

I think I just felt Hell yawn.

The Battle of Blair Mountain

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has ruled that just because you're a citizen of this nation -- or even a citizen of West Virginia -- and you want to preserve an important historic site from destruction via strip mining ("mountaintop removal" coal mining), if you don't have the legally magic status called "standing" you're shit outta luck.

Rather, Blair Mountain and the history it cradles is shit outta luck.

But, hey! Blair Mountain's got thin seams of coal under its trees and dirt, and thin seams of coal are a lot more important than history, and certainly more important than the environment. Three giant coal companies have sixteen times more "standing" than any of you peons trying to save a scrap of earth.

Some days it's easy to agree with Mr. Bumble: “The law is a ass—a idiot."

The Republican Brand

Westgate CEO David Siegel holds his trophy
So the CEO of Westgate Resorts, David Siegel, emails his 7,000 employees, threatening that many of their jobs are at stake if President Obama wins his reelection.

The implicit neo-feudalism of that gesture speaks volumes about an instinct to bully people.

Even better, Mr. Siegel also whines that if Obama is elected, he won't be able to complete his 90,000-square-foot mansion.

So, come on people! Help keep Mr. & Ms. Siegel happy, or clearly, you hate America!

Incidentally, Mr. Siegel and his cantilevered wife Jackie are the stars of a new documentary, "The Queen of Versailles," which has gotten rave reviews.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

NC AG Investigating Hospital Over-Pricing

Cool move:
Calling the state’s health care costs artificially high, state Attorney General Roy Cooper said he will examine whether to use antitrust laws or new legislation to reduce them. 
“I’m concerned about this issue,” Cooper said in an interview. “Health care costs are high enough without artificial boosts that could come from lack of competition.”
This will be an official inquiry by a gentleman who can actually prosecute people, and it was fueled by good investigative reporting:
In a joint investigation published last month, The N&O and The Charlotte Observer found that hospitals are routinely marking up prices on cancer drugs two to 10 times over cost. At the same time, hospitals are increasingly buying the practices of independent oncologists, then charging far more for the same chemotherapy in the same office. 
A previous investigation by the two newspapers, published in April, showed that consolidation has given hospitals leverage to demand higher payments from insurance companies. 
That investigation also found that North Carolina hospitals are among the most powerful interest groups in state politics, which could neutralize any push for legislative reform.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Why Jordan Is Demanding a Debate with Tarleton

There's really only one possible explanation when an incumbent office-holder demands a debate with his challenger, as NC House member Jonathan Jordan recently did: he's losing, and he knows it.

While it's very common for a newcomer to challenge an office-holder -- Ron Zerban demands a debate with Paul Ryan, and Joe Rooney demands a debate with Allyson Schwartz, for just two of dozens of examples -- it's not common at all -- not at all -- for an incumbent to demand a debate. It's a glaring sign of weakness.

Challengers are usually not well known. A debate with the incumbent can get them better known in a hurry. In fact, just demanding the debate raises a challenger's profile, and the demand is often released to the press for that reason alone. Conversely, incumbents generally resist debates because they don't want their opponents to be better known. Simple math.

But for a well financed incumbent like Jonathan Jordan to be agitating in the public press for a debate sends a dog whistle: somebody needs to notice me and right now!

And speaking of how Jonathan Jordan has treated public education during his two years in Raleigh, which I believe we were, there's this.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

You Can't Argue With a Man Who Ain't There

They held a presidential debate last night, and unfortunately, only one candidate showed up. And the one who did take the podium was some sort of weird doppelganger from Planet I Never Said That. As an act of stunning reinvention, that motor-mouth performance undoubtedly made history.

Meanwhile, there was a gubernatorial debate in Raleigh, and at least Walter Dalton had a working pulse.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

DINOs for McCrory

Apparently never satisfied with how much they can stab the Democratic Party in the back (and in the front, the side, the hands, the feet, the pancreas), a couple of General Assembly Democrats (members of the Five Goobers, who notoriously gave the Republican majority their veto override margins to defeat Gov. Perdue during the last two years) are bragging today about being "Democrats for McCrory."

Whatever. These guys haven't been actual Democrats for many years and presumably only hang on to the label because great-granddaddy would roll over and start barfing up cotton bolls if they changed their party affiliation to reflect both their philosophy and their voting histories.

Go in peace. Or go to pieces. We really don't care.