Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Our Shallow and Insincere Governor

Pat McCrory opens his mouth (more than he should, obviously) and out come statements that launch a thousand editorials and blog posts. His brain (such as it is) appears to be disconnected from his mouth, or he simply lacks any filtering mechanism by which he might -- but doesn't -- measure his words for their ramifications.

He lies, because he wants everything to seem rosy: On Charlotte's WFAE this week, McCrory said that he and the new Republican majority in the NC General Assembly did not cut unemployment benefits. A whopper.

He mimics Orwellian "language management": "We didn’t shorten the early voting, we compacted the calendar.”

He is amazingly tone-deaf: About his famous cookie caper and the women outside his mansion protesting his abortion bill, he said, “I don’t care, I felt like doing it. Who cares?”

Meanwhile, Governor Eddie Haskell's minions are charging big bucks for public records requests, in violation of the spirit of our open government statute and as a clear attempt to make access to information more difficult.

His other minions in the Art Pope arm of his administration are meanwhile harassing a UNC-Chapel Hill law professor for daring to criticize The Guv.

Associating McCrory with Eddie Haskell may actually be giving him too much credit, since Eddie was too young to know how transparent he was. McCrory is old enough to know better.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Pope's Bare Knuckles

Pope Francis is finding his groove. In a new "apostolic exhortation" (Evangelii Gaudium, for all you Latin geeks), specially "Chapter Two" of that exhortation, the Pope weighs libertarianism in the balance and finds it wanting.

Libertarianism ... the philosophy that puts "market-forces" over all else, the mind-set that has defined the Tea Party from the get-go, the politics of "let them eat grass."

This is what Pope Francis said (in part -- his exhorting goes on for many thousands of words):
Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape .... In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system .... While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules .... In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule....
Beware the "deified market," saith the Pope, and I do believe His Holiness just endorsed the Dodd-Frank "Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act."

So we reckon that Sarah Palin was right: the new Pope's a liberal. I'll light a candle to that! Hell, I'll light two.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thom Tillis Doesn't Show at "The Stupid Candidates" Tea Party

Back earlier this year, discredited Republican king-maker Karl Rove said on Fox News, "Our object is to avoid having stupid candidates who can't win general elections, who are undisciplined, can't raise money, aren't putting together the support necessary to win a general election campaign."

Rove was announcing that he and the big donors behind his Crossroads Super PAC were going to be recruiting Republican candidates who looked good and knew how to keep their traps shut, hiding their extreme views until they get onto the floor of the U.S. Senate, and then let their freak flag fly!

One of the slicksters that Rove decided to anoint was Speaker of the NC House Thom Tillis, who has been struggling for traction but who is now blessed with not one but four Tea Party challengers, including one certifiable prober of women's vaginas, one God-addled crusader against gays, one talk radio screecher, and one woman who seems to have wandered in from a 1950s taping of "Queen for a Day." With that congregation against him, Tillis is guaranteed a win in next May's primary.

But never mind that. The circus pulled up in Gastonia last night -- the four Tea Partiers with Tillis absent -- and they left their Maalox at home. It was all acid reflux all the time. They stripped the wax off the floor.

Oh Tillis was invited all right, but he was otherwise engaged with none other than Karl Rove, who's been in our state raising money for his "not stupid" candidate Tillis. Did we say there was heartburn in Gastonia last night? The mere presence of Karl Rove within our state's boundaries was enough for at least two of the Tea Party candidates to belch fire. We hear the curtains burst into flame.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

If They Can't Beat You, They'll Shut You Up

Rampant Anne Marie Yates-ism breaking out all over our state. Civitas goes after the emails of a UNC law professor, immediately after he writes a column critical of Governor Squishy.

Art Pope had nothing to do with it, right?

Town of Boone v. The Tea Party

Town of Boone officials and Watauga County Commissioners met last night over the process for making Extra Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) appointments to Boone's boards and commissions, as required by law. Jesse Wood's coverage in the High Country Press is thorough and detailed.

County Commission Chair Nathan Miller's extreme Tea Party philosophy was on full display. He does not believe in any land-use planning regulations. He made that abundantly clear.

Bottomline: It doesn't matter which ETJ residents the Town of Boone recommends for its Planning Commission and its Board of Adjustment. The three Republicans on the County Commission are going to reject those recommendations and appoint people hostile to Boone's development regulations. Always.

Perry Yates, who often doesn't seem to realize what he's revealing about himself when he speaks, said it was "discrimination" that the county might have to jump through an extra hoop (a public hearing) in order to appoint men to Boone's Board of Adjustment who disagree with the town's development ordinances. Discrimination.

Think about that for one minute. Appointees to the Board of Adjustment are sworn in as quasi-judicial officials. They serve as judges, and the law they interpret and apply is Boone's Unified Development Ordinance. In effect, Perry Yates was saying he wanted to appoint judges who not only won't uphold the law but who despise the law.

Let's call this what it is: nullification, the highly popular theory and attempted practice among Tea Party types everywhere. Nullification is the philosophical viewpoint that if you don't like a law, then by Gawd you don't have to follow it.

Nathan Miller, Perry Yates, David Blust, and the entire Templeton clan lost the recent election, in which they attempted to install nullifiers into office in Boone. What is left to them in their toolkit of nullification is their ability to screw with the law by appointing judges who don't believe in the law.

This ain't new. The current crisis of "communication" between town and county was precipitated in April 2011 when the town of Boone forwarded recommendations to the County for appointment to the Planning Commission and the Board of Adjustment. One of those recommended ETJ residents had previous experience on a planning board, a zoning board, and a board of adjustment. Another had work experience in rural and urban development. A third, a nationally noted environmentalist living in the ETJ, was explicitly rejected by Commissioner Nathan Miller because "he agrees with the town's planning ordinances."

In that famous April meeting, the County Commission (with Commissioner Jim Deal voting no) rejected the town's qualified recommendations and appointed two men who had not even applied and another man who lived in the town of Boone and not in the ETJ.

Yet it is Nathan Miller who can always work himself up into a ziggurut of wounded self-righteousness in his approach to the town of Boone. And, ironically, this is the Man Who Would Be District Attorney, if he can get the people of this judicial district to vote him into office next year.

Yeah, I want this man applying the law!

Author Isabel Allende Enters School Reading Controversy

An extraordinary letter written by author Isabel Allende to the Watauga County School Board has come to light (hattip: GH). The letter, with an accompanying article detailing the Watauga County controversy over her first novel, "House of the Spirits," was published in School Library Journal.

The SLJ article mentions the dismissive rants that Watauga County commissioners David Blust, Nathan Miller, and Perry Yates heaped on the book last Friday, calling for its censorship. With cause then, Allende wrote in her letter, "Banning of books is a common practice in police states, like Cuba or North Korea, and by religious fundamentalist groups like the Taliban, but I did not expect it in our democracy."

(Jesse Wood's coverage in the High Country Press also includes the complete text of Allende's letter.)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Another Political Hack/McCrory Crony Put in Charge of Clean Water Trust Fund

How do you telegraph your total indifference to protecting the environment in North Carolina, and specifically safeguarding its remaining pristine water sources? If you're the incompetent and clueless governor, you appoint the husband of one of your other employees, a man who is demonstrably unqualified for the job. How unqualified? So unqualified that it's a literal violation of the statute to appoint him.

The Man. Bryan Gossage, 38, who served eight years on the Apex Town Council, ran unsuccessfully for the General Assembly in 2008, and is now appointed by McCrory as the director of the newly created Office of Land and Water Stewardship which includes the Clean Water Management Trust Fund. In this job, Gossage makes $78,000 per annum. Last May, he was named as a "deputy secretary in charge of innovation support" (a fancy way of saying "public relations flack"?) at the N.C. Commerce Department. That job disappeared following a reorganization of that agency. But never mind: Gossage had a close personal friend in a very high place.

Read more here:

The Wife. Chloe Gossage, policy director for Pat McCrory. She makes $110,000 a year. And presumably knows how to drop a hint.

The New Job. Not surprisingly, Gossage's appointment to the new job was not publicly announced by the agency and with good reason. By state statute, the director of Clean Water Management must have "experience and training in conservation, protection, and management of surface water resources." Gossage has a degree in sociology and has worked mainly as a press flack

The Tell. Just how woefully unqualified Gossage is to manage clean water conservation in our state became painfully obvious when a spokesman for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources came out with a press release saying, in effect, that Gossage is qualified because he was on the Apex town council during a drought. When the laughter in the press room died down, someone pointed out that Apex, like most towns, is run by professional staff, not by elected council members, and that Gossage knows as much about water conservation as a dog knows his daddy.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Forget, for the Moment, What McCrory Has Done to Education; Look What He's Done to Science

North Carolina is bleeding teaching talent as though someone slashed our educational jugular (which in fact the General Assembly did, assisted by Gov. Squishy), but just as alarming is the full-out assault on our scientific community detailed in this WRAL report.

Did you know that the Gen'l Assembly, at McCrory's behest, moved over 1,000 NC civil service employees into "at will" situations, meaning that the governor can fire them without cause and on a whim, and one of the whims actually written into the law is "loyalty to the governor." Not making this up. One of the workers moved to "at the whim of the governor" status was the top scientist at the Nature Research Center in Raleigh.

But first, the governor's new stooge Science Museum Director Emlyn Koster demoted that top scientist, just as a hint that her scientific research was no longer needed in North Carolina. That scientist has understandably taken another job in California.

The logo of the McCrory administration ought to be a bleeding wrist.

The other sure sign of the esteem with which McCrory views science is the other decision by that stooge Science Museum Director Emlyn Koster, to cancel a film-showing about sea-level rise, because as we all should know by now, our generous Republican dictatorship has decreed that sea-level rise does not exist.

The only good thing we can say about the reclassification of hundreds of North Carolina's civil service employees to "at will" employees is that the next Democratic governor can fire the ideological idiots at the get-go.

Monday, November 18, 2013

One or Two Things About Him That We Won't Miss

Gov. McCrory's refusal to accept Medicaid expansion in North Carolina was just wrong, and so was his decision to sign one of the most oppressive laws in the country restricting women's choices.

He makes no wise decisions, only ones that are demanded of him by the teahadists.

Help is on the way, but it's going to take another three years of waiting.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Virginia Foxx and Immigration

“Seventy-percent of the labor force in agriculture is undocumented,” Bert Lemkes, co-owner of Van Wingerden International, a greenhouse manufacturer in Western North Carolina, said at a forum in Raleigh recently. (Hattip: Rob Christensen in the Raleigh News & Observer)

That's a fact that Congresswoman Virginia Foxx knows very well. Her own landscaping business depended on immigrant labor, though, Lord knows, she herself never hired any undocumented landscapers. Heavens no! (The Foxx family went to some lengths to cover up details about an accident with serious injuries caused to a third party by one of her laborers, who later escaped the hospital and disappeared without a trace. You can read about that case here and here.)

Though Congresswoman Foxx built her empire on the backs of immigrant labor, when she was elected to Congress she immediately became one of the flamers willing to make political hay out of brown-skinned immigration. In 2005, Foxx signed on as a cosponsor to Sue Myrick's bill to punish North Carolina for granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. (Screening and testing the undocumented for driver's licenses is a public safety measure, which considering the bad car wreck one of Foxx's workers was involved in -- see the links above -- you'd think Foxx would support.)

She also co-sponsored a provision in federal law that would have made it a felony to offer any assistance whatsoever to an illegal immigrant. The law would have allowed the federal government to seize personal assets of those caught passing out meals, medical aid, or legal advice.

Probably her finest hour came in the spring of 2006 when Foxx hosted a special Congressional panel in Winston-Salem with this ominous name: "Gangs, Fraud and Sexual Predators: Struggling with the Consequences of Illegal Immigration." My links to articles at the time in the Winston-Salem Journal have rotted, but there was this coverage of Foxx's anti-immigration grandstanding which still captures the aura of unjustified self-righteousness that always puddles around Foxx's ankles.

As long as Foxx and Friends dominate the House of Representatives, and are financially propped up by U.S. businesses that actually depend now on the labor of both legal and illegal immigrants, there will be no humane progress for immigration reform.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Watauga County Commissioners Try To Bully the School Board

The joint meeting between the Watauga County Commission and the Watauga County School Board, to discuss future budget projections, was “derailed,” according to the Watauga Democrat, when the three Republicans on the commission decided to grandstand about how outraged they were that “despicable filth” in the form of a world-renown novel was being taught in a high school English class. Another witness described what happened as an “ambush.”

Ah. It’s always a bright and lovely day when political hacks become literary critics, not to mention blue-nosed censors of what other people read but what they themselves have not and will never actually read.

Oh I know that Commissioner David Blust claimed that he had read “parts, not just excerpts” of Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits, as though there were some self-justifying distinction to be made between “parts” and “excerpts.” I think it’s likely that he read “the good parts,” as that phrase would be understood by a smutty-minded teenager. I never read Lady Chatterley’s Lover, but I knew “the good parts” almost by heart when I was 15 years old. Which begs the question ... how old emotionally is David Blust?

Nathan Miller is no stranger to bullying, and he has not in the recent past hesitated in extending his power to the Department of Social Services board, so it was wholly characteristic of him to demand that the School Board scuttle its own process for reviewing the charges against teaching The House of the Spirits and simply declare the book an “egregious violation” of all that is holy and decent.

We know what’s going on here. Commissioner Yates (who declared himself a HUGE Christian at the meeting) just stood by and watched as his wife led the Republican Party into a disastrous ass-whupping in the recent municipal elections, and the Republican majority on the commission are behind the eight-ball with their own Party members over the way that County Attorney Stacy C. Eggers IV (“Four”) has manipulated the Board of Elections for attempted partisan advantage.

So what do you do as a Republican majority to overcome this bad hoodoo? You change the subject radically and try to stir up the worst emotions you can in your base. “Look, people, we’re protecting your kiddies from filthy literature, so put us back in control of the county in next fall’s general election!” In the process, they appear to the idle observer as "rude and arrogant." To the informed observer, they acted like "swine."

What we see are cynical opportunists willing to use their religion to divide and conquer. Which means they need to be out of power, not installed into more of it.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Rolling With the Fat Cats

Gov. Pat McCrory will be attending another of those private functions where the super-wealthy pet him and tell him how smart visionary brave he is, and Art Pope will stand nearby to gloss what The Guv might inadvertently blurt.

Two tickets to tonight's dinner with McCrory  at the luxury Grandover Resort outside Greensboro cost $1,000 and two passes for the entire weekend "retreat" cost $10,000. The Renew North Carolina Foundation, another of those secretive 501(c)(4) orgs set up to skirt campaign finance laws, does not have to reveal its donors, and won't.

The same "foundation" hosted the same weekend retreat last year and then spent $800,000 of the proceeds on TV ads in September and October, promoting how not-dumb McCrory might be (it's at least reasonable to think so!).

What? Did the invites feature a picture of McCrory with the caption, "Please help send this child to camp!"?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

NOT Endorsed by a Screech Owl

It must mean something that a North Carolina Republican, when announcing his candidacy for public office in next year's elections, feels compelled to say right off the bat, "I'm not crazy!"

That's how we read Mecklenburg County Republican Dan Bishop's announcement that he will run for the District 104 seat now held by Rep. Ruth Samuelson, who is stepping down.

“I’m known to people in that House district,” Bishop said. “They know who I am. They know me to be conservative. They know me not to be a bomb-thrower, to be an effective advocate.”

That term "effective advocate" kinda stands out, because when Bishop declined to run again for the Mecklenburg County Commission in 2008 (after serving two terms), he said on departing, "I don’t think I’ve been terribly effective as a member of that board."

Does this mean that the comatose "moderates" (the uncrazy ones) in the North Carolina Republican Party are going to reassert themselves statewide next year? Will a country club Republican like Thom Tillis lead a resurgence of "I'm not completely bonkers" politicians who'll pull the state back from the brink? 

No, probably not, at least not in any numbers to make a difference. 

Charges Against Eggers & Aceto Will Get a Hearing

The complaint filed with the State Board of Elections against Watauga Board of Elections members Luke Eggers and Bill Aceto is back on the front burner. Word on the street is that the SBOE will schedule a public hearing on the complaint (technically, a "petition" for their removal) early in December.

If we read correctly the administrative code governing removals of this kind, this means that the SBOE finds prima facie evidence that a hearing is warranted on the merits.

The Screech Owl Is Heard in the State

Ann Coulter has endorsed Greg Brannon in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate next May, and she blasted leading contender Thom Tillis for being soft on immigration.

So that should settle it: Thom Tillis will win the primary by an embarrassingly wide margin.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Final Totals in Boone Municipal Elections

At the Board of Elections canvass this morning, some 94 provisional votes were counted, along with three additional mail-in ballots. These are the final totals, in descending order:

Boone Mayor
Andy Ball 1,139
John Mena 517
Brad Harmon 151
Write-In (Jenny Church) 128

Boone Town Council
Jennifer Pena 1,202
Rennie Brantz 1,191
Quint David 1,093
Mark Templeton 720
Matt Long 691
James Milner 568

Has Anyone Seen our Raleigh Representatives?

The Case of the Disappearing General Assembly Members.

Senator Dan Soucek and Representative Jonathan Jordan have been more than just invisible since the legislative session ended in Raleigh. We understand perfectly why they would want to stay out of sight, since the two of them voted in lockstep with their party. They voted FOR every bad thing that happened in Raleigh this year, and that was plenty.

Squeezing the life out of public education. Treating women like chattel. Bringing the wonderful World of Fracking to North Carolina. Et freakin' cetera. It was all hard work, and apparently they're both so exhausted they haven't left their houses for months.

It's not as though our state senator didn't warn us he'd be hard to find. Soucek self-identifies on his Twitter profile as an "International Man of Mystery." He's tweeted only once since June 25th and that was to name-drop Ken Starr, president of Baylor University, who apparently brushed past him in October. Soucek apparently attended a forum in Caldwell County on homelessness in October, but otherwise we can't find any evidence that he's made himself available to voters for months. Months.

Jonathan Jordan has mainly been in the news as a potential drop-out from the NC House, but he didn't get that Ashe County manager's job. Jordan hasn't posted anything to his Facebook page for a solid year. Same for his Twitter account. He's even more invisible than Senator Empty Suit.

These two sterling representatives of Watauga County citizens communicate nothing more vividly than inaccessibility.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Things Just Got Better for Thom Tillis

Another day, another conservative (RWNJ) challenger for Thom Tillis in next year's Republican primary for U.S. Senate. Bill Flynn has joined a growing congregation of very conservative rivals for Tillis, all of whom help guarantee that Tillis wins the primary going away.

Flynn is a right-wing radio gabber with "The Morning Wake Up Show" on AM 980 ("The Eagle") out of Winston-Salem.

Flynn ran from out of district in the 2012 Republican primary for the Sixth Congressional District seat against Howard Coble. Coble's safe seat had been redistricted, and he had toyed with the idea of not running again. But Coble did run, and he easily won his primary against two challengers, one of whom was Flynn. During that primary campaign, Flynn bragged that he was "the firebrand" that the Sixth District needed in Washington. (Yeah, that's the ticket! Burn the place down. That'll fix everything.)

Coble has recently announced that he will not run for another term, but a Congressional seat has grown too small for an ego of Flynn's size. He wants to be a U.S. Senator.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

It's McCrory's Fault

This deer in the headlights says it's Gov. McCrory's fault that he got run over on the road to becoming the Republican mayor of Charlotte.


Thomas Mills offers interesting and insightful analysis of the finger-pointing and slut-blaming going on in the North Carolina Republican Party.

Hey, guys, save some cream pies for the rest of us!

Chair of Caldwell County Republican Party Becomes Ashe County Manager

Hattip: AsheWatch.

That's generally not what you want nor generally not what you get in a County Manager ... a political partisan, but the Ashe County Commission -- Republicans all! -- have appointed Sam Yearick as their new county manager (after firing Dr. Pat Mitchell earlier this year for "wearing too many hats"). He's currently and prominently listed on the Caldwell County Republican Party website as chair of the party until 2015.

Some hats are more acceptable than others.

But Jonathan Jordan didn't get the job. Does that mean he'll be losing a race for reelection to the NC House, or will the movers transfer his recliner from the General Assembly back to Ashe County?

Saturday, November 09, 2013

What the Dumb Do

Greg Brannon, the OB/GYN Cary doctor who's running in the 2014 Republican primary for U.S. Senate (for the privilege of challenging Kay Hagan in next year's General Election), has been outed for plagiarizing another plagiarizer. No kidding. He copied off Rand Paul, mainly from Paul's website and particularly his views on several Tea Party issues. Rand Paul, meanwhile, has always copied off others and shows no sign of tapering off.

Who goes looking to see if there are copied parts on candidate web pages? The News&Observer item cites no source. Who tipped the press about plagiarism on candidate Greg Brannon's website?

I betcha a dollar it was someone with Thom Tillis's campaign.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

The Bizarre Political Landscape of Ronda, NC

Ronda in Wilkes County is a village of 417 souls who on Tuesday chose for their town council one notorious woman, her boyfriend, and the boyfriend's "political ally" (an incumbent who had actually declined to file for reelection), all elected as write-in candidates. Out of a turnout of 131 votes, the trio above received 59, 60, and 75 votes respectively. Interestingly, a third of the 131 voters were mail-in absentees, and 12 were Early Votes, which the Wilkes County elections director says was "unusually high" for Ronda. (WRAL)

The Notorious Woman: Debra Goldman, who was one of the insurgent Tea Party majority on the Wake County School Board elected in 2009, resigned from that board last February to take a job in Ronda. While still a member of the Wake School Board, she ran for NC State Auditor in 2012, unsuccessfully. She got wrapped up in a very public [cough] sex scandal with fellow School Board member Chris Malone, who is now a Republican member of the General Assembly. Goldman became something of a punchline. Even a fellow Republican member of the Wake School Board called her a "prom queen." Goldman is now "in a relationship," according to Facebook, with her boss at the Derie Cheek Reece Foundation in Ronda.

The Boyfriend: Kevin Reece, who has been in a bitter and nasty feud with Ronda's Mayor Victor Varela for years. It's been a struggle over fighting cocks on Reece's property (not making this up), among other issues, devolving into hidden video surveillance and accusations of marijuana use. Reece most recently attempted to remove Varela from office via a recall petition, until he discovered that there is no recall provision for public officials in North Carolina. He immediately set about getting his local Republican representatives in Raleigh to pass a "local" bill to allow Ronda to institute a recall mechanism, which also passed on Tuesday. Kevin Reece's foundation, according to WRAL, was started in 2011, and so far, its IRS activity is opaque. Hmmm.

The Political Ally: Sam Foster, who had supported Reece to fill a vacancy on the town council but was foiled by Mayor Varela. Mayor Varela will now be the target of that recall process that passed the voters on Tuesday.

There's at least a movie in all this, if not an HBO mini-series. I see Anna Faris in the Debra Goldman role, with Will Ferrell as Kevin Reece, and naturally, we're going to need Zach Galifianakis as Mayor Varela. It'll make millions!

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

To the Losers Go the Sour Grapes

Just prior to their disastrous loss in the Boone municipal elections yesterday, the Watauga GOP was trying to disqualify Rennie Brantz from public office (after he’s already served two consecutive terms!) by misreading the University of North Carolina policy manual (see New Guy’s post on Mr. Brantz earns “nominal pay” for his service on the Boone Town Council and is therefore not covered by the requirement of a “petition” filed with his superiors.

Watauga Republican Party leaders discovered the truth of that via a public records request communicated to the university’s general counsel by ... wait for it ... County Commission Chair Nathan Miller, who has been filing other public records requests against individuals who are apparently considered threats to his power.

We have also learned that Watauga GOP Chair Anne Marie Yates is going after Democratic County Commissioner John Welch on the same bogus accusation that was made against Rennie Brantz: that Welch is disqualified from serving on the County Commission because he didn’t file the “petition” mentioned above.

Mr. Welch’s pay for service on the County Commission is also “nominal,” which also exempts him from that “petition” requirement.

The sourness of the Republican loss in the elections yesterday threatens to curdle all the milk in the world.

Tsunami Hits Boone

It was a wave election, propelled in no small part by the seismic shifts at the Watauga County Board of Elections and the shenanigans of the #EggersBros.

Bertrand Gutierrez's lede in the Winston-Salem Journal cuts to the chase: "For a couple of Republicans who, according to Democrats, were intent on suppressing votes, Luke Eggers and Bill Aceto did a poor job."

Eggers and Aceto are busily saying, "See, we're not a partisan Board of Elections. See, we didn't attempt to suppress the vote."

The eleven hundred plus Boone voters who did not choose #TeamTempleton are saying, "See what happens when you try to monkey with ballot access."

Mayor-Elect Andy Ball said it effectively in the Gutierrez article: “This result in some ways speaks to the visceral reaction people have when you try to take people’s voting rights away.”

Meanwhile, near the River Nile, Mark Templeton, who had suggested that he was going to show progressive activists the quickest way to get the hell outta Dodge, was fingering Boone as a "liberal college town" in explaining #TeamTempleton's massive losses.

That will become the company line (and of course doubles back to explain what the #EggersBros were up to all along): the ASU college student vote and the local Republican belief that all their electoral woes are a result of it.

Based on our phone canvassing and door-knocking during the last several months, the Templeton ownership of the local Republican Party had a major depressive influence on registered Republicans. Many Republicans were as offended by the treatment of ASU student voters as Democrats were. I think analysis of "party performance" in yesterday's election is going to show that it wasn't the student vote that won it as much as failure of the Republican base to turn out in support of #TeamTempleton.

Let's face it: the current management of the Watauga GOP has caused its own train wreck, and one wonders what the rank and file will do to untangle to wreckage.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

What Went Down at Last Night's Board of Elections Meeting?

We missed this meeting, but we hear from some who were there that it was very eventful. We keep checking, but so far the press has not reported anything (both High Country Press and Watauga Democrat were on the premises for the festivities).

At the meeting, elections director Jane Anne Hodges presented board members Bill Aceto and Kathleen Campbell with copies of a letter that Four Luke Eggers has written to her personnel file, meaning (we take it) that it's a letter reprimanding Jane Anne Hodges for something. It's a two-page letter, so it must be reprimanding her for a bunch of somethings. As the meeting progressed, member Campbell was reading the letter and addressed herself angrily to Luke Eggers that (once again) he should be ashamed of himself for treating Hodges in this manner.

Hodges mentioned that she has retained legal counsel and that after consulting with her lawyer, she might be releasing the letter to the public. She asked Aceto and Campbell to read over Four's Luke's letter and to let her know at tonight's meeting (5 p.m., in the Board of Elections at the Courthouse) whether they agree with it.

Monday, November 04, 2013

A Rare Commodity: Political Courage

Mike Michaud, a member of the U.S. House from Maine and a current candidate running to become Maine's next governor, was subjected to a whisper campaign, insinuations, and push-polling suggesting that he might be gay and therefore unqualified to be governor of Maine.

Michaud just published an op-ed in the Bangor Daily News that contains this straightforward sentence:

"Allow me to save them [the push-pollers, etc.] the trouble with a simple, honest answer: 'Yes, I am. But why should it matter?' "

Dunno if he can win the governorship, but he certainly deserves major props for the courage to come out.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Sen. Lindsey Graham Needs To Look Like a Man

What does a Republican senator do when threatened on his right by not one but three Tea Party conservatives who say he's just a girlie man in need of a good thrashing? Why, he makes political hay out of attacking women's rights, natch!

So South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham chose Fox News this morning to announce that he'll be pushing to make abortion illegal in this country after 20 weeks. There's no chance whatever that such a law will ever pass the Senate, and no chance whatever that President Obama would ever sign such a law.

But that doesn't matter. All that matters is the show of conservative macho. So are we to believe that the voters of South Carolina are dumber than a box of doorknobs to buy Senator Graham's display of a cosmetically enhanced hairy chest? And what kind of a human being decides to beat up on any class of citizens, especially ones he considers weaker and hence available tools for his political grandstanding, just for the sake of a pathetic job?


Every piece of writing/speculation about the presidential election of 2016 seems wildly premature, and most especially items like this one.

Nathan Miller Goes Fishing, Lands a Guppie?

Inserting himself into the complaint against the Watauga County Board of Elections? State Board of Elections counsel Don Wright's response is also below.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Wheels Come Off Haywood County GOP

A report in the Smoky Mountain News goes into depth on the splintering of the Haywood County Republican Party, which is being taken over by a far right Tea Party faction.

Favorite quote from one of the insurgents: "Many of us appear to be caustic, abrupt and irrational, but we are not.”

Can't help noticing, after several months of Templeton family values at the head of the Watauga County Republican Party, that our local GOP is probably ripe for a similar revolution.

Friday, November 01, 2013

A Soldier Deserts From "Those Radical Nut-Jobs"

Jason Thigpen of Wilmington, who got mentioned here last August as a Republican candidate for office who called the new voter ID law a "turd," is making news again by switching to the Democratic Party in his quest to unseat 3rd District Republican Walter Jones (who himself was once upon a time a Democrat).

Don't have any idea whether Mr. Thigpen, who also ran unsuccessfully against Jones in a very crowded Republican primary in 2012, has a ghost's chance at an exorcist convention, but his statement breaking with the Republican Party is just another indication of how far off planet earth the Tea Party-dominated NCGOP has veered:
"...I simply cannot stand with a Party where its most extreme element promote hate and division amongst people. Nothing about my platform has, nor will it change. The government shutdown was simply the straw that broke the camels back. I guess being an American just isn’t good enough anymore and I refuse to be part of an extremist movement in the GOP that only appears to thrive on fear and hate mongering of anyone and everyone who doesn’t walk their line. We’ve received some wonderful support by numerous leaders and members within the NC GOP, as the vast majority of Republicans are wonderful, hard-working people that don’t agree with those radical nut-jobs either but unfortunately the extremists in the party, with their ‘burn it all down’ philosophy, appear to be the ones turning out the majority of voters in the primaries and mid-term elections. And I want the people to know there is a choice.”
A sign of the times.