Thursday, November 29, 2012

Buncombe County Republicans Also Hate College Students

This is a tale of little Warren Wilson College in Buncombe County, NC, and a Republican candidate for County Commissioner down there who lost her race to a Democrat by 13 votes.

The losing Republican went to a special meeting of the Buncombe County Board of Elections last night and made her case that 44 votes cast on the Warren Wilson College campus in her race should be thrown out.

During the meeting, the Republican member of the Buncombe BOE actually argued that he didn't think college students should be allowed to vote if their parents lived somewhere else (gosh! that argument sounds familiar). According to the Mountain Xpress,
At one point, an attendee in support of [the losing Republican] looked back at a group of Warren Wilson students in the packed meeting room and flashed a piece of paper on which she had written, "You are a law breaker."

The hapless Republican lost the vote in the Buncombe BOE and intends to appeal to the state BOE. The stakes are substantial. If this commissioner district goes to the Democrat, that will give the Democrats a 4-3 majority on the Buncombe County Commission.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Triumph of Fox News

The following intercepted email was written by a Blowing Rock woman to another Watauga County resident who had expressed support for President Obama's reelection. We've left out a couple of sentences to conceal the identities of both persons, but otherwise the letter is exactly as written, including all the exclamation points, question marks, and the SCREAMING CAPS:

November 8, 2012 9:23:30 AM EST
Dear _____,
I hope that you and the thousands like you, that voted for Obama, will be able to live with the consequences of your actions! 
....You of all people will have to WATCH as the elderly are given ONLY pain medication to try to keep them comfortable rather than treat their cancer or other diseases with surgery. That decision being made by a DEATH PANEL, now a part of the govt. through the Health Care Bill passage!!!! They will decide because of someone’s AGE, to only keep them comfortable, rather than treat them!!!! YOU will have to witness each and every day the suffering of PEOPLE in order to have the govt. SAVE MONEY!!! If the Health Care Bill is so WONDERFUL, WHY did CONGRESS vote for themselves to be EXEMPT!!?? And gave all the union members exemption –why–if it’s such a good thing??? They did that to win their votes!!!!!! 
There are things in the Health Care Bill that don’t in ANY WAY pertain to health also!!! Like taxes!!! When you sell your home there will be, thanks to the Health Care Bill, an ADDITIONAL 3% tax. You probably think 3% doesn’t matter–but don’t we already pay enough taxes–and HOW IS THAT PART OF THE HEALTH CARE BILL??? the ANSWER – it’s Not!! It is JUST ONE of the HIDDEN Parts that YOU haven’t discovered YET!!!! YOU WILL!!! You will see what we truly have as a “president” – a LIAR!!!! He thinks we are a stupid country and can’t see his deception. Maybe some can’t ..... but I KNOW HE IS A LIAR!!!! And you will soon learn also! 
How can you sleep at night knowing you voted for a “man” that would let 4 men be killed in Libya and NOT send help!!! And then LIE about it – in order not to bring it up BEFORE the election!!!! I don’t think you’d feel the same about this “man” if it had been YOUR SON!!!!!!! 
WHY has he spent over $3,000,000 covering up his school records????? BECAUSE HE IS NOT A NATURALIZED CITIZEN!!!! He went to school as a foreign student!!!! HOW IN GOD’S Name can we have a president who is not even a naturalized citizen????? 
He is taking away our freedom, little by little – you won’t even notice – then one day everyone will come to the realization that we are a socialist nation and won’t even understand how it happened!!! I believe with ALL my heart he is a Muslim and is destroying our country from within!!!! If you do your homework and really understand all that he is doing, I think you will be astounded that you could have POSSIBLY been a part of it by voting for him. Take this VERY SERIOUSLY! Find out as much about this person as you can, and THEN think about what YOU’VE done to our great country!!! GOD BLESS AMERICA – the one we used to be!!!!!! 
[name withheld] 
PS Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to take vacations like “the first lady” – I use those words very loosely – PAID FOR BY YOU AND ME????? HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS FOR HER VACATIONS .... How has it come to this????????????????????????????? 
SLEEP WELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I had planned to patiently document all the myths, lies, fabrications, and wild fantasies contained in this document but decided against it. What would be the point, exactly? It's already been amply documented that Fox News addicts are dumber for their addiction than people who read no news whatsoever, plus there are plenty of other studies that show that the extremes of both parties are hermetically sealed in their own world views and will not listen to evidence to the contrary.

If we're capable of being shocked at all by this catalogue of victimization, it's the realization that this woman represents a sizable portion of the contemporary Republican Party. If anything, she's actually a moderate Republican, since she doesn't accuse the President of being The Antichrist -- which is another popular saying currently circulating in the bloodstream of Hard Right America.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thom Tillis Flirts with the Crazy

Travis Fain at the Greensboro News & Record tracked Republican Speaker of the NC House Thom Tillis and his pre-Thanksgiving pander to the Far Right, which thinks that any state (especially the ones in the South) can simply say they don't like any Federal law and by means of such a declaration choose not to follow that law.

It's called "nullification," and it's what the cotton-brains in the South advocated in 1860 until mere advocacy demanded actual cannon fire.

Mr. Tillis said he kinda, sorta likes some of that idea.

In other words, O my Brethren, the state of North Carolina has much further to go before it bottoms out in the new Republican Trough of Stupidity, because there are no Republican leaders with the sense and courage to stand up for reality (not to mention the Constitution).

The Emperor Has Lots of Clothes

The tweet below was sent out from Pat McCrory's Twitter account on October 3. That was then. But this is now, hundreds of job openings in the Pat McCrory administration (scroll to the bottom to see the jobs just in the Governor's mansion).

Don't be surprised by the Imperial trappings with which Mr. McCrory will strangle those Tea Party yearnings.

Monday, November 26, 2012

More Cracks in the Norquist Dam

It appeared that Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss was the first to turn apostate about the Grover Norquist no-tax pledge that he himself, Saxby Chambliss, had previously signed. Then yesterday Republican Senator Lindsay Graham publicly waffled on a Sunday morning Bloviators' Show. (So did Republican Rep. Peter King, on Meet the Press, and John McCain, on Fox News Sunday.)

Actually, none of those guys were the first to crack. Republican Senator Tom Coburn, way back in July, wrote an op-ed published in the NYTimes that complained about Norquist’s “tortured definition of tax purity” while concluding that the Norquist pledge is now irrelevant.

More amazing ... the sudden defection of Arizona's newest Republican Senator Jeff Flake, than which there is no more conservative individual in Congress (Flake voted with Virginia Foxx to deny federal relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina). During a candidate debate this year, Flake actually denied having ever signed the Norquist pledge, though he most certainly did. “The only pledge I’d sign [now] is a pledge to sign no more pledges,” Flake said, which was his way of saying, "Don't count on me, Grover."

We knew Norquist's grip on Republican gonads was really doomed when we heard Bill Kristol on Fox News Sunday say on November 11th:
"It won't kill the country if we raise taxes a little bit on millionaires. It really won't, I don't think. I don't really understand why Republicans don't take Obama's offer. Really? The Republican Party is going to fall on its sword to defend a bunch of millionaires, half of whom voted Democratic and half of whom live in Hollywood and are hostile?"
Under these circumstances, what's a Tea Partier to do? More to the point, what will Grover Norquist order them to do?

Texas, My Texas

The Texas state song begins "Texas, Our Texas! all hail the mighty State!" We all learned it in grade school, even in the Panhandle, and as with most state songs, we rarely contemplated the world-view behind the words.

You might be excused for taking that command -- "all hail" -- as just home-state puffery, some fat-gut braggadocio, except there comes the fourth line of the song: "O Empire wide and glorious, you stand supremely blest."

The Roman imperialism at the heart of Texans' view of themselves ain't just atmospherics. It's cultural DNA.

So hardly anyone blinked in Texas when Gov. Rick Perry suggested in 2009 that the state might productively secede from the rest of us, and even though he's now saying that ain't a good idea (which tells you just about everything you need to know about Rick Perry as a politician), I credit the governor with giving oomph to the current rage down there to sign the petition for secession. No other state where that frivolous gesture got started has the numbers of eager "Seceshes" as Texas has.

The song needs editing: "Texas, our Texas. Aw, hell! The mighty state."

Okay now. So Texas goes back to being its own Empire. You know what the United States of America is going to need immediately? A high fence, especially separating the Empire of Texas from New Mexico and approaches to Colorado. Because Texans lose their minds at the sight of running surface water and have been colonizing the Rockies for decades. Gotta stop that.

My friend Butch Morrison speculated on Facebook about those Texans who will wind up in this country through no fault of their own and become productive Americans. They will need a clear path to American citizenship. And what about those Texans who came here to work to provide better lives for their families? Who'll blame them, once the economy in their own country collapses after the cessation of US subsidies for agriculture and oil drilling, among others?

We'll have to get tough on immigration. I'm thinking long-form birth certificates just to visit in our country!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Another Republican Senator Gets Wobbly on Norquist No-Tax Pledge

Well, it is Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina. But still.

Going numb to Norquist is the first step toward reality for these guys.


Always Piping Hot

One early-warning system for how Gov.-Elect Pat McCrory is handling (or not handling, as the case may be) the Tea Party Right is Brant Clifton's blog. Clifton is brimming with suspicion and prepared to be outraged ... constantly.

Which makes him required reading.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Dam Breaks

The Bully
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) sez he won't honor his pledge to Grover Norquist to never ever ever vote for a tax increase.


Someone just stood up to the bully, and generally when that happens ... well, it could start a more general uprising.

“I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge,” Chambliss said. “If we do it [Norquist's] way then we’ll continue in debt, and I just have a disagreement with him about that.”

Next up in Georgia: "Primary his ass!"

Mr. Justice, Recuse Thyself

Paul Newby, newly reelected to the NC Supreme Court, was the beneficiary of $1.9 million in last-minute TV advertising, over $1 million of that paid for by the Republican State Leadership Committee, "a Washington-based group described as providing direct technical assistance to the North Carolina Republicans who drafted the [new] legislative maps" that gerrymandered the state into a safe haven for Republican legislators (even though more total votes were cast for Democratic candidates for the state's 13 seats in the U.S. Congress than for Republican candidates).

North Carolina redistricting is being challenged in court and will come before Mr. Justice Newby on Feb. 25. The day before Thanksgiving, a legal motion was filed asking Justice Newby to recuse himself from the case. Naturally, he won't.

Newby is a frank, partisan Republican. He's made no effort to hide that: "On election night ... Newby spoke at a Republican victory rally in Raleigh, sharing the stage with GOP state House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger. Both Berger and Tillis are named as defendants in the lawsuit. Newby also appeared earlier at GOP campaign rallies with Republican candidates who stood to benefit from the new electoral maps."

With political motives now installed on the court, bought and paid for by political operatives who are party to a law suit before the court, North Carolina has taken a huge step toward becoming ... West Virginia.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Hey, All You Secessionists Out There

The North Carolina Constitution explicitly and specifically outlaws secession:
Article 1, Section 4
This State shall ever remain a member of the American Union; the people thereof are part of the American nation; there is no right on the part of this State to secede; and all attempts, from whatever source or upon whatever pretext, to dissolve this Union or to sever this Nation, shall be resisted with the whole power of the State.
Hattip: Jeanette Doran

And while we're at it, Article 1, Section 10 of the same document puts a crimp in requiring our non-driving citizens to go out and pay for a photo ID:
All elections shall be free.

The way around that, of course, is for the state to pay for any expenses incurred in the obtaining of a photo ID, though all you fiscal hawks should be squawking about that unnecessary expenditure of tax money, especially since there is demonstrably no need for any of it ... except, of course, to discourage certain people from voting.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Read With Enthusiasm

I just finished reading a really riveting book of local history about a little known and even less understood free speech case that arose at Appalachian State University and went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. I’m talking about Al Corum’s Fired with Enthusiasm: Testing Freedom of Speech in the University of North Carolina System.

I got hold of a copy of the book last Tuesday and finished it on Thursday, stealing every minute I could from otherwise full days to keep reading. The story is compelling – a nine-year legal battle at the end of which Al Corum was awarded damages and got his protest of secretive and heavy-handed administration actions vindicated.

When Herb Wey retired as the top-dog at ASU, a noticeable “corporate culture” began to take hold, a style of administration that was top-down, uncollegial, secretive, and authoritarian. In 1984, one of those top administrators ran over Al Corum like a Mack truck, assisted by sub-administrators in the power structure who carried out the dirty work.

The administration action that Al Corum protested and which got his salary cut, himself demoted and relegated to humiliating busy work, looks pretty similar to vandalism, the disrespectful and even destructive treatment of that portion of the Appalachian Collection devoted to cultural artifacts – musical instruments, handmade furniture, looms, household items of all sorts. Those things simply got in the way of bigger plans and were clearly under-valued by the top administrators.

A section of Corum’s book relates how he managed to get access to the warehouse where the artifacts had been dumped, and he made a photographic record of the conditions there. The photograph in the book shows what appears to be a pile of rank trash but which, according to the caption, was actually the “Appalachian Collection artifacts, scattered and unboxed in the former Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse, where they were stored circa 1985.” Corum, as Dean of Learning Resources, had attempted to forestall the wrecking of decades of dedicated collection by college staff. He had said in essence to the higher-ups, “You really shouldn’t do that,” and the administration answered, yes we will, and you’re relieved of your deanship because you’re “insubordinate.”

(Ironically perhaps, because it happened much later and under a different set of top administrators, another act of cultural vandalism took place in 2005 when another set of cultural artifacts, those housed in the Appalachian Cultural Museum, got the hatchet. You can remind yourself about that episode here and here. Bottomline: When Appalachian culture gets in the way of “progress” at ASU, Appalachian culture rarely wins.)

After the Corum suit was appealed through the Supreme Court of North Carolina and all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, on appeals from the University (being represented by the NC Attorney General’s office), it landed back in Superior Court of Watauga County for a jury trial. It took one full day to enpanel a jury, and on the next day, when the trial was supposed to take place, the university caved, offered Corum a settlement which he ultimately took (the cash really didn’t cover his legal fees for the nine years’ struggle). But he was vindicated.

Copies of Fired With Enthusiasm are currently available locally only at the ASU Bookstore at the end of Faculty Street, in a section devoted to published works by ASU faculty. I’m told that the book will be listed on Amazon in a matter of weeks.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Finding Comfort After an Election

Intercepted e-mail:

I'm passing this on because it worked for me today.

A doctor on TV said that in order to have inner peace in our lives after this election, we should always finish things that we start. Since we all could use more calm in our lives, I looked around my house to find things I'd started & hadn't finished.

I finished a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of Chardonnay, a bodle of Baileys, a butle of wum, tha mainder of Valiuminun scriptins, an a box a choclutz. Yu has no idr how fablus I feel rite now.

Sned this to all ur frenz who need inner piss. An telum u luvum.

How the GOP Leadership in Raleigh Looks to the Hard Right

Thom Tillis
The Thom Tillis consolidation of personal power in the NC General Assembly, as seen from the perspective of Brant Clifton, a conservative blogger who professes a doctrine of skepticism about men in power. Worth reading for insights about...

Why the extreme right of the House Republican caucus grumbles about Tillis.

The power struggle between three GOP members for the Speaker Pro-Tem office, the # 2 spot in the House.

The contempt for women that lingers like unwashable B O in the mainstream of the Republican Party. Clifton himself refers to Rep. Julia Howard and her quest for the Speaker Pro-Tem position as "lady parts," but admits that she's got the inside track to get the job if Thom Tillis wants her there.

Current Majority Leader Paul "Skip" Stam is disliked by some in the GOP because he "plays too nice with the Democrats."

Rep. David Lewis of Harnett County, vying for Majority Leader of the NC House, is "a scandal waiting to happen."

Ruth Samuelson, from Charlotte, is famous in these parts for being a key Republican opponent of Dan Soucek's late and unlamented ETJ bill that targeted Boone. She's considered a RINO (Republican In Name Only) by some.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Real Mitt Romney

Mittens can't seem to shut up. Can't seem to stop being secretly recorded, either.

In the newest recording of his conference call with his big donors, Mr. Romney re-avowed that indeed "the 47 percent" -- or more specifically, college students, Hispanics, and black people -- are the moochers he called them in his first secretly recorded comments to the well-heeled.

At least now there's no doubt whatsoever that we were right about you all along: you're a phony and a liar to boot.

Now ... can't you just go away?

The (Rancid) Fruits of Gerrymandering

The bottomline on total votes for Congressional candidates across the country still hasn't been entirely reached, but analysis by the WashPost shows that Democrats have the edge in total cumulative votes in all U.S. House races -- 49% for Democrats to 48.2% for Republicans. Yet it 'pears that Republicans will have a 233-195 advantage over Democrats in the next Congress.

Behold gerrymandering! Thy works are mighty to thwart the will of the people. The will of the people? Why, yes, divined most clearly from the resounding reelection of the president and the increased muscle of the Democrats in the U.S. Senate. You can't gerrymander for those races.

Adam Serwer (and his co-authors) delves into this issue in Mother Jones, for which this very instructive graphic was produced as illustration (hattip:SR):

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mr. Mean Genes

Apparently, and according to the exalted Bryan Fischer, Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association, "socialism" is now an inheritable gene in Mexico. You can NOT make this stuff up (not that you would want to).

The Legacy and the Shame

If you don't remember Lee Atwater, you should. He was the first George Bush's "southern strategist." This just-released recording from 1981 'splains a whole bunch about the contemporary GOP.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"More of an Ideology Stand Than Anything"

WRAL's Laura Leslie tracked down Randy Dye, the "conservative blogger and activist" who's behind the North Carolina petition to secede from the Union (the video is below). Seems like a sane guy, but he believes the election is proof that the country is headed toward "socialism." (Why none of these folks are ever asked to define socialism I can't decipher.)

Then he makes us a very generous offer: "The Democrats can have this country. They deserve it. It's going to fall, I think." I realize that there's a worm in that bud, like a man giving away a house that just burned, but still .... Is Mr. Dye being half-way accommodating in suggesting that Democrats will be allowed to stay, and to breed?

It's clear that Randy Dye doesn't expect anything like secession to actually happen. It's a gesture, "an ideology stand," he says, and that's cool. Our Constitution allows for that.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Rove, Fallen From Grace?

Business Insider is saying that Karl Rove is the first casualty of a "beltway Establishment" purge. Rove raised a boatload of money and apparently spent it unwisely, paying himself handsomely in the process. But according to a new report, 'American Crossroads got a mere 1% return on its $104 million investment in 2012 races."

But -- alas! -- it isn't any "reality-based" faction of the GOP wanting to make Rove walk the plank. It's the far-right fringe, the very minority that has pushed the Republican Party into all kinds of dandy positions:
...Rove's treason began long before election day, when the Fox News contributor led the party's tar-and-feathering of Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin, who came under fire for his now infamous "legitimate rape" comments. The party's perceived betrayal of Akin confirmed what many grassroots conservative activists had long suspected: That the Republican Establishment was willing to throw the base under the bus to serve the interests of deep-pocketed donors.

Rove's biggest sin? Stepping on Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry every chance he got while pushing Romney on the gullible church-goers.

Some days it's good to be a spectator.

The 'Fox News Derangement'

GOP strategist Todd Harris told Politico reporter Jonathan Martin, "If all you did was watch and read the conservative media, you were probably pretty shocked at what happened Tuesday."

No kidding. I have witnessed the baleful effects of the Fox News Bubble in my own family. Some of the elderly, who seem to spend all day absorbing the wild-ass conspiracy memes popular on Fox News, have not been able to adjust to actual reality so far since last Tuesday. In fact, as Ben Domenech put it (also quoted by Jonathan Martin), “The right is suffering from an era of on-demand reality.”

On-demand reality. Turn on Fox News and you get all your prejudices flattered, your suspicions confirmed, your narrow world-view triumphalized.

“Dick Morris is a joke to every smart conservative in Washington and most every smart conservative under the age of 40 in America,” said Ross Douthat. “The problem is that most of the people watching Dick Morris don’t know that.” For a nearby example, you need look no further than the slavish attention The Watauga Conservative gave Mr. Morris in the weeks leading up to the election. They linked to his blather as though he knew what he was talking about.

Not dealing with reality has built-in dangers -- ignorance can kill, after all, as this sad tale demonstrates (this story emerged originally on Facebook and has since been picked up by Crooks & Liars): 
...FOX News killed my precious mother, Hallie. She watched FOX religiously. And when she fell ten days before she died, she refused to go to the doctor because, "I don't want Obamacare to get all of my information!" she declared, recalling the warnings from FOX News "anchors." She was emphatic. She was not going to consort with the muslim enemy. As she made out her will she told her lawyer, "I don't want any of my money going to the Muslim Brotherhood!" And her last protestation dealt with "Obama's death panels." Mother died just days later. I hold FOX News responsible for my mother's death.
Richard Ramsey called it "The Fox Geezer Syndrome." Ramsey, a self-described conservative, watched his own mother go round the bend on a daily diet of Fox News (in particular, Glenn Beck).

Another example: the woman who wrote in to an internet advice board that the election was ruining her marriage because her husband was glued to Fox News every night. It wasn't just the watching that was a problem. He became mean, aggressive, demeaning to his wife of five years who did not share his views. Intolerance in a marriage ain't good.

We already knew that watching Fox News can actually make you stupider (and hence the jaw-dropping incredulity in some quarters when the president won last Tuesday). Now the accumulating evidence is that Fox News can also drive you insane.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Let This Sink in for a Minute

In this election, more North Carolinians voted for Democratic congressional candidates than voted for Republican congressional candidates. It was some 2.19 million votes for Democratic candidates vs. 2.12 million votes for Republican congressional candidates. Then how come all Democrats in contested NC districts lost (except for Mike McIntyre in the NC-7 ... maybe)?


The Republican-dominated General Assembly last year shoved as many as they could of those 2.19 million Democratic voters into just three Congressional Districts (a scheme known as "packing") and distributed the remainder into gerrymandered districts where they could never muster a majority.

Rob Christensen in today's News&Observer:
The Republicans did not invent the fine art of gerrymandering, but they have taken it to a new level. 
I am a perfect example. My Cary home sits in the district of U.S. Rep.-elect George Holding. But if I drive three blocks to leave my subdivision, I will enter the district of U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers. If I drive to most nearby shopping centers or go to the movies, I will be in the district of U.S. Rep. David Price. 
Community of interest? Compact districts? Not so much.
The state's redistricting will eventually be heard in the courts, all the way to the state's Supreme Court, but of course the Republicans, with lots of outside money, managed to reinstall their conservative justice Mr. Newby with the state's Supremes. The fix is already in.

This Man Needs a New Hobby

Who's the unhappiest man in America right now? (Hint: It ain't Karl Rove.)

Franklin Graham ain't happy with the reelection of President Obama: “I want to warn America: God is coming around. He will judge sin, and it won’t be pretty.”

Obama's Big Sin: he's a homosexual enabler.

Franklin Graham has officially become He Who Casts the First Stone, the Biggest Pharisee in the Land, the Self Righteous Man Who Can't Stop Bragging About How He Knows What God Thinks. If America loved Jesus, it would have voted for the Mormon, Franklin said (in so many words). Really!

North Carolina is trying to become Mississippi, and Mr. Graham can certainly brag about that-- "I helped!"

How the Outside Money Rolled in NC

From the bottom of this chart, going up:
The NC House 93 race was the Tarleton/Jordan contest.

The NC Senate 9 race was the Deb Butler/Thom Goolsby race down in Wilmington.

The NC Senate 18 race was the Doug Berger/Chad Barefoot race.

The NC House 2 race was for Jim Crawford's old seat, which was open once Crawford lost his primary.

The NC Senate 50 race was the John Snow/Jim Davis race south of Asheville; Snow was trying to take his old seat back from Davis.

The NC House 41 race was the Jim Messina/Tom Murry race down in Raleigh.

The NC House 98 race was the ... well, it really wasn't a race at all, because Republican Speaker Thom Tillis was unopposed. He's exactly the kind of character the Deep Pockets like to shovel money at. Because they're grateful for the special favors.

Never a Bigger Bobble-Head

According to the New York Times, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner held a conference call with his Republican troops after the election, told them that they had to recognize reality that their party just took a beating nationwide, and then laid down the law. We have to avoid "the nasty showdowns" with President Obama that marked so much of the last two years, Boehner told his fellow party members in Congress.

Buried way down in that article is this paragraph:
"...The handful of Republican backbenchers who spoke up agreed, and those included often-rebellious conservatives like Representatives Phil Gingrey of Georgia and Virginia Foxx of North Carolina...."

Congresswoman Foxx knows how to go along with the Big Boys to get along. At heart, she's always been a company man.

Definition of "backbencher": 1. Not a party leader; 2. Someone who exaggerates their actual power, influence, or importance, usually for nefarious purposes.

Sign of the Times?

Mark Meadows, the newly elected Republican congressman from the 11th Congressional District of North Carolina (Heath Shuler's old district, minus most of liberal Asheville), is starting his elected life sounding, well, reasonable, not to mention "reality-based."

He tells the Asheville Citizen-Times that he knows now that Obamacare is not going to be repealed and that maybe he can help make it better. Nothing wrong with that.

But here's the best part: "He said he would also support broadening the tax base to capture more revenue .... And he would accept some part of the revenue from leases on public lands, for operations like logging and mining, going to government research on alternative energy if it means more jobs."

"Obama’s reelection, he said, made him re-think his strategy." Well yeah.

Meadows may already be more liberal than former Democratic Congressman Larry Kissell.

We Hope for Change

These may be some of the truer words written about the election just concluded:
Last time, Obama lifted up the base with his message of hope and change; this time the base lifted up Obama, with the hope he will change. He has not led the Obama army to leverage power, so now the army is leading Obama.

--Maureen Dowd, 10 Nov. 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Voter Suppression Laws Backfired on Republicans

Ari Berman is the leading analyst of voter suppression efforts nationwide, and he's written a very interesting piece, post-election, about how those voter photo ID laws, reduced Early Voting hours, and what-have-you attempts to keep CERTAIN PEOPLE from voting backfired on Republicans last Tuesday. More African-Americans voted, more young people voted, more Latinos voted in those famous swing states than in 2008, and Obama won all of them (except for North Carolina, whose Republican-engineered voter photo ID law is still pending).

Apparently, American blacks, young people, and Latinos don't much like their access to the ballot monkeyed with and are prepared now to stand in line for days, if necessary, to cast their votes, and those votes won't be going to the political party that tried to stop them from voting.

Berman writes:
...voter suppression efforts have become the “new normal” in the GOP. Unless or until Republicans get serious about courting an increasingly diverse and younger electorate, they’ll continue to pass laws to undermine the political power of this growing constituency.
How the GOP might "court" these racially diverse and young constituencies is fairly murky, since Republicans, and especially Tea Party Republicans, are well established in the public mind as the "get off my lawn" party.

Friday, November 09, 2012

NC Universities, Better Buckle Your Seat Belts!

The signs are multiplying and they are explicit.

The Boss of the North Carolina Republican Party sees our state's universities as Public Enemy No. 1. A fundraising letter just went out from one of Art Pope's many political tentacles, the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, that said in part (and we're not making this up):
The people have spoken. President Obama will be our president for the next four years. 
While we congratulate the president on his victory, conservatives are asking themselves why he won. One reason is our universities.

For years they have failed to give undergraduates an understanding of markets, the role of free enterprise, and the problems of a highly redistributive state. Obama himself lacks that appreciation, which is part of why our economic slump continues.

The Pope Center is dedicated to restoring balance to our colleges and universities. We expose misguided, one-sided courses that attack capitalism and we help students on campus see other aspects of important issues in U.S. history. We encourage universities to teach analytical skills that citizens need. Step by step, we are showing how to bring change to our universities....
Ah, "an understanding of markets." From people who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

The Boss Man, Art Pope, who principally funded the Clown College take-over of the NC General Assembly, has also gotten himself appointed to an important University of North Carolina advisory committee, along with his fellow conservative millionaire Fred Eshelman. Pause for a musical cue:


The outcry against Appalachian State University students getting some kind of mythical special coddling, because they're allowed to vote at all in Watauga County let alone have their very own polling place on campus, has become boilerplate conservative dogma over at The Watauga Conservative. Damn students mess everything up!

More recently, one of the leaders of the Watauga Tea Party Conservatives, Nate DiCola, has written one of the more hilarious public fantasies about the baleful influence on local elections of Appalachian State University students. They are a force to be "overcome." A bit more analysis of 2012 Watauga election stats might have revealed to Mr. DiCola that it wasn't ASU students who defeated Adams, Gable, Oliver, Jordan, and Foxx. It was fellow Republicans, for widely different reasons. Take a look at straight-party voting stats. It was Republicans who did not vote straight party, and it was because of one or more of the above candidates. They split their tickets.

Nevertheless, ASU students are getting blamed for ending civilization, and they are consequently in for some heavy weather with this new Republican governor and his Tea Party troops in the General Assembly. The first thing they'll do is move Early Voting off campus. Count on it.

Then they'll continue to cut budgets. And from the tenor of the Art Pope fundraising letter above, I would expect to see some public demonization of individual professors, or of whole programs of study.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Political Polls with the Best/Worst Records for Accuracy

This chart is must-study, for demonstrating which political pollsters proved to be spot-on with their polling, and which ones skewed either right or left and got it all (mainly) wrong.

The line down the middle represents closest to what actually happened in the Obama-Romney contest. Notice that the three polls closest to that accuracy line are Public Policy Polling, the Raleigh shop which works mainly for Democrats; YouGov; Ipsos-Reuters, which is an Internet poll; and dKos/SEIU, the progressive Dem outfit that no Republican would be caught dead quoting. But there you are! According to that center line, all four of these most highly accurate polls actually overstated Romney's numbers slightly.

Drop to the bottom and see the most inaccurate polls, all of which skewed wildly to the Romney side: Rasmussen (big surprise!), Gallup (another big surprise), and National Public Radio, which has been so beaten up by the right wing for years that they are probably afraid to be accurate.

Apparently, people who consume no other news than Fox News were flummoxed by the outcomes Tuesday night, because they had been told repeatedly that their boys were going to win, and Fox News had the polling to back it up.


Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Reason We'll Still Be Holding Our Breath

Smartest guy I've read all morning, William Saletan:
The guy we just re-elected is a moderate Republican. 
I know how stupid that sounds. Barack Obama is the head of the Democratic Party. For five years, conservative politicians and media told you he was a raving socialist. In the heat of the campaign, when you’re trying to beat the guy, it’s hard to let go of that image of him, just as it’s hard for Democrats to see past the caricatures of Mitt Romney. But now that the campaign is over and you’re staring at a second Obama term, the falsity of the propaganda may come as a relief. By and large, Obama’s instincts are the instincts of a moderate Republican. His policies are the policies of a moderate Republican. He stands where the GOP used to stand and will someday stand again.

North Carolina Ain't the Nation

If current leads hold in still undecided Congressional races across the nation, the Democrats will see a net gain of eight seats in the U.S. House.

But it was in the Senate that the Democrats really kicked it. Republicans lost three Senate seats (so far) that they were supposed to win. Two seats still to be decided, but Dems are leading in both Montana and South Dakota.

While Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner managed a little conciliatory rhetoric last night, aimed in the general direction of the reelected president, Mitch McConnell as the Republican leader in the Senate decided to take a more dickish route in what he said: “The voters have not endorsed the failures or excesses of the president’s first term, they have simply given him more time to finish the job they asked him to do together with a Congress that restored balance to Washington after two years of one-party control." That's both a comma splice and a wordy way of saying, "Eat dirt and die, Mr. President."

Meanwhile, the evolving of the electorate on the issue of civil rights for gays continued apace: The Three Ms -- Maryland, Maine, Minnesota -- all of them exhibited remarkable inclusiveness last night. Maine and Maryland both approved gay marriage, and Minnesota turned down their own version of North Carolina's Amendment One, refusing to define marriage as exclusionary. Plus Washington state seems to have passed Referendum 74, which will legalize gay marriage. Wisconsin elected the first openly gay candidate to the U.S. Senate in Tammy Baldwin.

A lot of dust has to settle before a complete assessment of Citizens United can take shape, but on the face of it, conservative groups -- fueled by huge donations from corporations and billionaires -- spent at least $700 million to defeat President Obama. Bottomline might be this: You can't buy a different electorate, or a better candidate, no matter how much money you spend.

Speaking of the deep obsessions with Obama among the deep pockets, you can watch Karl Rove feverishly arguing with Chris Wallace on Fox News last night after the network called Ohio for Obama. The Dark Lord of Dark Money was not a happy camper.

Finally, the "youth vote" did not evaporate. It only concentrated itself.

North Carolina: Redder Than a Boiled Lobster

So now what? We've got, for the first time since the cooling of the earth's crust, a Republican governor in North Carolina, with a Republican General Assembly just itching to pass that voter photo ID law. Oh yes, they'll take those steps to make it harder for minorities to vote, and college students, which is going to make those segments of the population just that much angrier and more motivated to defy them. Fun times!

The Republican lock on North Carolina is the by-product of gerrymandering and a rural backlash against President Obama, and luckily for them, they'll have the president to concentrate their spite on for another four years.

Meanwhile, the Republican surge yesterday did nothing for a couple of Republican candidates for the Watauga BOC, so there were some surprises. The local School Board election was another bright spot, with the most experienced educators winning (and one seat still pending: Jay Fenwick is just 100 votes behind Ron Henries, with over 300 provisional votes still to be determined).

We'll need popcorn (and a good deal of Bourbon) to watch how Pat McCrory behaves with his Tea Party General Assembly, whether he'll revert to the big-city moderate he used to be or go along with the anti-government serum coursing through Republican veins right now. The tear-it-all-down and privatize-everything impulse has a short shelf life, and McCrory is probably going to want to be reelected in 2016.

Job one for Democrats will be rebuilding the state party. May have to move from Bourbon to Vodka for that one!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

How Did Watauga County Vote?

NC delegation at the Nat'l Dems Convention in Charlotte
Inquiring minds at the Raleigh News and Observer wanted to know "How Will Watauga County Vote?" (see "Burning Question # 6"), so here 'tis ... after this word from Your Enabler:

Raleigh News and Observer reported first thing this a.m. that voters were turning out state-wide "in droves." Seemed to be happening in Watauga too. Then it started to snow. Hmmm.

Wilmington Star News reported heavy early turnout in New Hanover County: "We're going to break some records here."

Watauga: Final Numbers

U.S. President
Romney 14,124
Obama 13,371
Johnson 673
Write-in 202

U.S. House Dist 5
Motsinger 13,743
Foxx 13,647

N.C. Senate
Soucek 13,583
Carter 13,138

N.C. House
Tarleton 14,036
Jordan 12,894

Watauga County Commission
District 1

Yates 13,859
Roseman 12,693

District 2
Welch 14,126
Gable 12,285

District 3
Kennedy 13,698
Adams 13,022

Watauga County Board of Education
Kinsey 10,882
Reese 10,800
Henries 10,629
Fenwick 10,527
Greene 7,742
Oliver 6,978

Some Local Early Voting Numbers from Watauga (includes mail-in absentee ballots and one-stop early voting):

Obama 8,643
Romney 7,472

US Congress 5th Dist.
Motsinger 8,750
Foxx 7,241

NC Senate Race
Carter 8,439
Soucek 7,207

NC House Race
Tarleton 8,879
Jordan 6,843

Watauga Co. Commish Race
Roseman 8,152
Yates 7,381

Watauga Co. Commish Race
Welch 8,869
Gable 6,632

Watauga Co. Commish Race
Kennedy 8,693
Adams 6,995

Watauga County School Board
Fenwick 6,409
Greene 4,199
Henries 5,905
Kinsey 6,785
Reese 6,701
Oliver 3,899

Hurts So Good

State Senator Don East (R, Dist. 30) died recently while campaigning for reelection to the state senate. (Sen. East once upon a time represented Watauga County, too, but not for many years.) It was too late to remove his name from the ballot. Under NC law the 30th Dist. Republican Executive Comm. had to name a replacement candidate. They chose NC State House member Shirley Randleman.

Though Randleman is an incumbent member of the NC House (since 2008), she's not running for reelection even though she's obviously a political philosopher of consequence: "I’m pro-God, pro-life and pro-gun,” she said. Great answer if you're auditioning for the Jerry Springer Show, but kinda too on-the-nose for our contemporary Clown Car in Raleigh.

Why isn't Randleman running for reelection to the NC House? In January 2012, she announced she would step aside. She told the Wilkes Journal-Patriot:
"Last year ... I was on the road for 46 of 52 weeks. Thirty-seven of those weeks were spent in Raleigh. I was somewhere else in North Carolina where my service was required during the other weeks, helping with redistricting or working for one of the committees on which I serve. When you add all of that up, it's a lot of time."
That's quite the pick to replace Sen. East, guys. If  the deceased "Sen. East" beats his Democratic opponent today, Ms. Randleman will have even more to complain about.

Election Day Smorgasbord

Latest from High Country Press: Useful numbers.

Heat, on a cold day: Naming names at Green Valley Elementary.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Schmidt: "Voter Fraud Really Doesn't Exist"

Steve Schmidt with actor Woody Harrelson, who played him in "Game Change"
Steve Schmidt, a former senior strategist to Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, on Morning Joe this a.m. (emphasis added):
I think that one of the things you always want to be for whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, you want everyone who is eligible to vote to vote. That’s how you want to win elections. I think that all of this stuff that has transpired over the last two years is in search of a solution to a problem, voting fraud, that doesn’t really exist when you look deeply at the question. It’s part of the mythology now in the Republican Party that there’s widespread voter fraud across the country. In fact, there’s not. Both sides are lawyered up to the nth degree and they’ll all posture back and forth on it but it probably won’t come down to lawyers.

We know, Steve, but you're being disingenuous if you think that your side wants "everyone who is eligible to vote to vote." The myth of voter fraud serves a larger, darker purpose, and surely you know that. Well, of course you do.

North Carolina: 'First in Dodgy Characters'

Debra Goldman is the 2012 Republican candidate for the NC State Auditor. She's recently been the central player in an unfolding, bizarre washing-of-dirty-linen-in-public.

She was bound, therefore, to move up to being an indispensable literary presence. Bob Geary has done it with "Imaginary Conversations with Debra Goldman."

Funny, even if you're not up to speed on her recent media presence.

Apparently, It's Now Official

Watauga County, a "bellwether" for the entire state.

That's according to this morning's Raleigh News & Observer.

The editors' "Burning Question" # 6: "How Will Watauga County Vote?"

It's kind of extraordinary ... that we occupy such psychic space for the Raleightonians.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Romney Paid Zero Taxes, 1996-2009

Bloomberg News cracked the case.

Why did he stop using the tax loophole in 2009? Possibly because he knew he was going to have to reveal something about his taxes when he again ran for president in 2012?

Wow. Just ... wow.


Early Voting in Forsyth County broke all previous records on Friday. Almost 100,000, compared to about 81,000 in 2008.

In Forsyth, about 18 percent of that grand total were unaffiliated.

Big difference in Watauga County, with unaffiliated voters actually out-performing Republicans in Early Voting ... first time that's happened that anyone remembers. The actual percentages of turn-out in Watauga based on party affiliation broke down this way (and talk about "neck-and-neck"!):

Democrats 33.43%
Republicans 32.45%
Unaffiliated 33.34%

Republicans improved their Early Voting performance substantially over 2008. The big question: Do the increased number of Rs turning out during Early Voting represent new voters, or do those early votes simply take away from E-Day turnout for Rs?

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Here's the Thing

Four Eggers' decision to vote against extending Early Voting hours only makes sense as a partisan vote. As the Republican member of the Board of Elections, he seems very stingy with ballot-access. I've tried to figure any other rationale that makes sense for a member of the Board of Elections to vote not to extend voting hours to people snowbound on Tuesday. (If you don't know the history ... previously.)

In the High Country Press coverage of the protest arising out of Mr. Eggers' vote, he professed himself "befuddled" (or perhaps that was the headline-writer's term) about the resulting uproar. Anyway, Mr. Eggers said he couldn't understand what all the hub-bub was about. (Please note for the record that his "no" was sufficient to sink the proposal to extend Early Voting hours at the County Courthouse from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday and to extend Early Voting hours at the Student Union on the campus at Appalachian State University from 5-7 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday.)

The elephant in the room, if you'll pardon the expression, is the fact that, in addition to being the Republican member on the Board of Elections, Mr. Eggers is also actually the attorney hired by the sitting Republican majority on the Watauga County Commission. Does no one see a conflict of interest here?

Apparently, the orthodox majority over at The Watauga Conservative see Mr. Eggers' vote against extending Early Voting as the correct partisan decision, that not extending Early Voting at the Student Union increases the chances that Republicans will win everything, which would mean that Mr. Eggers could continue to work as attorney for a Republican majority on the County Commission. His chances might fairly be said to go up if fewer students vote. That's certainly the transparent calculus of Tommy Adams, one of the Republican candidates for County Commission who has been working the polls at ASU since Day One (and who most certainly supported Mr. Eggers' decision not to extend the voting opportunities any further than already allowed).

In other words, Mr. Eggers has a financial stake in how this vote comes out, and it seems more than slightly irregular that he is able to exercise power in this instance to protect his financial interest.