Saturday, May 31, 2014

Hell Is Not Hot Enough for the NC Senate

The incredibly cynical Phil Berger, President Pro-Tem of the NC Senate, continues to brag how he's giving school teachers a raise, and if school teachers are indeed "bought off" by his blatant manipulation, then they deserve 'im!

This Senate budget short-changes school kids by taking hundreds of millions of dollars out our public schools and by firing 7,400 teacher assistants (TAs).

Senator Josh Stein of Wake County called the education budget "a shell game." "You all fired thousands of TAs last year," Stein said on the floor of the Senate to his Republican colleagues, "and of those you didn't fire, you're firing half of the remaining ones this year. This budget is not about paying teachers a salary that reflects the importance of their work. This budget is trying to cloak your political vulnerability at the expense of our school kids."

The "political vulnerability" that Stein referred to is the wave of anger that is still sweeping through the ranks of public school employees. Teachers better not let them get away with it.

Furthermore, the Senate budget strips 15,000 blind, disabled, and elderly North Carolinians of their health insurance, i.e., Medicaid. There's Christian charity for you! The brain staggers at the sheer cruelty of it.

The Republicans are making these cuts because of the choices they made last year that created a $500 million hole in this year's budget -- a choice to fund tax giveaways to the very wealthy and to large out-of-state corporations.

Fiscal management? Not so much.
The social contract? Shredded into confetti.

Senator Dan Soucek? The nodding "yes" boy who does as he's told.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Frackers Will Gag You After They Poison Your Wells

On the day that the NC House passed the fracking bill, climaxing the absolute pell-mell rush to bring hydraulic fracturing to North Carolina and thus endanger the drinking water of generations for a bunch of money, I thought readers might like to know what's becoming the standard in civil judgments against fracking companies.

Frackers poison wells? Frackers have to pay off the landowners. But when crackers pay off the landowners, the landowners are being forced to sign a gag rule. They cannot talk about what the frackers did to them. Forever.

And now there's a new wrinkle: lest the children of damaged property owners might blurt out in school to other children what happened on their land, the children are gagged from speaking about fracking for the rest of their lives.

I shit you not:
When drilling company Range Resources offered the Hallowich family a $750,000 settlement to relocate from their fracking-polluted home in Washington County, Pennsylvania, it came with a common restriction. Chris and Stephanie Hallowich would be forbidden from ever speaking about fracking or the Marcellus Shale. But one element of the gag order was all new. The Hallowichs’ two young children, ages 7 and 10, would be subject to the same restrictions, banned from speaking about their family’s experience for the rest of their lives.
The Hallowich family’s gag order is only the most extreme example of a tactic that critics say effectively silences anyone hurt by fracking. It’s a choice between receiving compensation for damage done to one’s health and property, or publicizing the abuses that caused the harm. Virtually no one can forgo compensation, so their stories go untold.... (Think Progress)
That's what's ahead for us, North Carolina, or some facsimile of that. Does that sound like fairness to you? Does that sound like justice to you? Does that sound like Dan Soucek and Jonathan Jordan just mortgaged our futures for a few lousy bucks or a pat on their backs from their corporate overlords?

The Templetons Strike Back at Boone

Anne Marie Templeton Yates, Chair of the Watauga GOP,
trying to block video coverage at the Dan Soucek
forum on education, Dec. 5, 2013
Senator Dan Soucek has introduced a "local bill" in the General Assembly (S865) to strip the Town of Boone of its extraterritorial powers to control and regulate development. The bill contains one primary sentence: "Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Town of Boone shall not exercise any powers of extraterritorial jurisdiction as provided in Article 19 of Chapter 160A of the General Statutes." Boom.

If the senator didn't introduce that pluton bomb at the behest of the Templeton family, the Templetons certainly stand to profit handsomely by the elimination of the "steep slope" regs, among other ordinances that keep them from doing exactly as they please. Let's call S865 what it is: "The Templeton Family Enablement Act of 2014."

(NOTE: Jonathan Jordan is a part of this, because the rules governing "local bills" in the "short session" of the General Assembly -- now underway -- is that no local bill can move forward without the support of both House and Senate representatives. Voters in the Town of Boone and in the ETJ need to know that both Soucek and Jordan, who are both also up for reelection this fall, have targeted Boone -- and only Boone -- for this particular abuse of power.)

Senator Soucek tried this same move almost exactly two years ago in the short session of 2012. He stirred up a hornet's nest of opposition, and his bill ultimately got shelved in the House, primarily because of the opposition of Rep. Ruth Samuelson of Charlotte. Samuelson is still in the House and still powerful (though she announced last year that she wouldn't be running for reelection in 2014. Perhaps some skullduggery has gone on out of sight down there, and Soucek thinks he'll slip this one through. At any rate, he seems perfectly willing to stick his tongue on that frozen lamp-pole again. Has he forgotten the significant backlash two years ago among voters living in the ETJ?

The Templetons have now lost two historic elections in their lust to take over the government in Boone. Their last trump card is Senator Bobblehead and his co-conspirator, Rep. Jordan. Toadying to the rich is not a good look for these lawmakers in an election year.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Citizens Seek a Meeting with Thom Tillis, End Up in Jail Instead

Some 14 people were arrested in NC House Speaker Thom Tillis's office about 1:30 a.m. this morning. They had been in the office since mid-day yesterday, requesting a meeting with the Speaker to discuss his legislative decisions and vowing to sit in his office until he granted them that meeting.

Why did the Speaker wait until after midnight to have them arrested? Because he dreaded the "optics" of having citizens hauled off to jail while he's in a race for the U.S. Senate?

He could have avoided it by simply meeting with the people, but Tillis doesn't meet with people. He meets with donors, preferably the big ones.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Heck of a Job, Dick!

Senator Richard Burr has sparked a backlash from veterans groups that threatens to reveal his dirty little secret: that he and other Republican lawmakers love a photo op with veterans saluting the flag but vote repeatedly -- or fail to vote at all -- to deny injured and wounded veterans the promised medical care, etc. that they were promised.

Those same veterans need to turn their wrath on Virginia Foxx too. She loves nothing better than wrapping herself in a flag in the presence of former service members while ignoring her own sorry voting record.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Thom Tillis: Waffling and Bullying While Also Dodging

We begin to see a pattern with Thom Tillis, how he's going to manage to still run the NC House while also running for the U.S. Senate.

Fellow House member Robert Brawley (R-Iredell) challenged Tillis on the issue of whether a North Carolina city should have the right to set up its own municipal broadband service, and for his uppityness, Brawley was primaried and will now lose his seat in the House. But that was apparently not sufficient punishment. The NC House Republican Caucus has kicked Brawley out of the Caucus, turning him into a ghost who wanders the ramparts, sighing "Remember me!"

None of this would have happened without Tillis's blessing, but does Thom Tillis publicly own his revenge. No, he hides. He wasn't even present at the Caucus meeting that expelled Rep. Brawley.

Meanwhile, on the waffle iron, Tillis is trying to avoid saying anything substantive about the Affordable Care Act:
“I look at any consideration for insurance mandates the same way I would look at an incentive,” Tillis told a National Federation of Independent Business luncheon. “I’m neither for all incentives nor against them. I’m neither for all mandates nor against them. Let’s take a look at the economic benefit.”
What? A stand-up guy, he is not.

Meanwhile, Phil Berger's NC Senate (with bobble head Dan Soucek bobbing right along) rushed through a fracking bill and sent it off to the House, where there's a good deal of hemming and hawing and clear uncertainty that Mr. Tillis wants to open that particular can o' worms, not with tensions already high over Duke Energy and coal ash pollution and the appearance that the GOP wants to poison the whole earth to make their corporate pals happy.

Stagnation ahead is our prediction, as Tillis avoids any appearance of extremism that might hamper his Senate bid. But dodging and weaving does not a winner make.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

NC Senate Wants To Fast-Track Fracking

The North Carolina Senate Republicans, under the thumb of their powerful President Pro-Tem Phil Berger, have rushed through a pro-fracking bill that ought to scare every sentient being in our state, let alone those of us who depend upon well water.

One particularly lovely provision in the Senate bill: North Carolina would become the only state in the union that would get you charged with an effing felony if you disclosed the chemical composition of the witch's brew being pumped down into the bedrock to fracture it and thus release the natural gas for harvest.

See ... here's how it works: You pump a bunch of shit mixed with water down into a hole you've drilled in bedrock, and the shit splits the rock, and the shit also runs through those cracks and impregnates all the water it can reach, which -- hey! -- is just the cost of doing business, so get over it, you effing tree-huggers!

And that scenario doesn't even begin to address another major issue: The Senate bill will mandate that a gas-drilling company can come under your land and extract the gas there without your effing permission. So much for those Sacred Property Rights that Republicans are always supposedly upholding. They're currently (and forever) upholding The Almighty Dollar.

Yes, Senator Dan Soucek is right there, voting as he's told, voting against the health and safety of his peeps.

But in advance of getting charged with a felony, here's a list of the most common and the most toxic, not to mention the most carcinogenic chemicals used in fracking:
Hydrochloric Acid
Quaternary Ammonium Chloride
Tetrakis Hydroxymethyl-Phosphonium Sulfate
Ammonium Persulfate
Sodium Chloride
Magnesium Peroxide
Magnesium Oxide
Calcium Chloride
Tetramethyl ammonium chloride
Sodium Chloride
Formic Acid
Petroleum Distillate
Hydrotreated Light Petroleum Distillate
Potassium Metaborate
Triethanolamine Zirconate
Sodium Tetraborate
Boric Acid
Zirconium Complex
Borate Salts
Ethylene Glycol
Guar Gum
Polysaccharide Blend
Citric Acid
Acetic Acid
Thioglycolic Acid
Sodium Erythorbate
Lauryl Sulfate
Sodium Hydroxide
Potassium Hydroxide
Sodium Carbonate
Potassium Carbonate
Copolymer of Acrylamide
Sodium Acrylate
Sodium Polycarboxylate

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Commissioner David Blust Called Out at Public Hearing

Watauga County Commissioner David Blust's comments about Hospitality House during county budget work sessions last week, hurtful comments that were quoted by Jesse Wood in the High Country Press, became temporarily the topic last night.

What Blust said:
Blust said that it [Hospitality House] has brought crime to that part of Watauga County and that the Hospitality House is an invitation to people all over the state that “this is a place that will take care of me.”
Translation: Bunch-a free-loadin' criminals!

Blust claims to be a devoted follower of Jesus. We feel obliged to remind Mr. Blust that Jesus would have gone to Hospitality House to break bread with those folks, something Mr. Blust certainly has not done. Once again, Blust's pharisaical attitudes are glaringly obvious.

But ... crime? As speakers pointed out last night during the public hearing, there are no reports of criminal activity emanating from Hospitality House, and for an elected County Commissioner to make such a wild, unsubstantiated claim is irresponsible at best.

For the record, David Blust was absent from his seat during the public hearing last night.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Stone Face with the Heart of a Stone

Q In defunding the valuable -- nay, indispensable -- work done by the many non-profits in our mountain community, Watauga County Commission Republicans saved how much taxpayer money?

A .015% of the budget

Watching Commission Chair Nathan Miller's face, as appeal after appeal piled up tonight in the public hearing over the new county budget, I wondered if his heart turned to stone well before his face did, because he certainly showed a stone face tonight. Say anything, he didn't. He didn't need to. His face said it all.

Hospitality House? Nathan Miller doesn't care.

Full-time library staff living on $17,796 a year? Nathan Miller doesn't care.

Children's Playhouse, which supplies valuable programs for growing children, zeroed out in this year's proposed budget? Nathan Miller doesn't care.

The Mountain Alliance? Nathan Miller doesn't care.

The new Appalachian Theater, which has received Town of Boone support but not county support? Nathan Miller doesn't care.

Community Care Clinic? Nathan Miller doesn't care.

High Country Crimestoppers? Nathan Miller doesn't care.

What does he care about? He cares about his ideology, which demands that he care zilch about the pain in the world around him.

May 20, public hearing over the budget. Photo by Lonnie Webster

New Developments in the GOP War on NC Cities

Two measures aimed at micromanaging North Carolina cities from the plush seats in the NC General Assembly are being fast-tracked this week. Those boys believe in "local control" only when "local control" kowtows to their ideology.

The new laws -- one of them tucked into the bill to move fracking along at an accelerated pace -- will very likely decimate municipalities by monkeying with their revenue streams.

Best part of the article is when the reporter gets around to asking Governor McCrory, who was Charlotte mayor for a long time, what he thought about these power grabs, and "a McCrory spokesman said the office was 'still evaluating the impact this proposal would have on local and state government.' ”

You have to be adept at McCrory speak to understand what that meant. It meant, "I'm not saying anything until my bosses in the General Assembly tell me what I think."

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Suppressing the "Ignorant"

Hattip to John L. Robinson for directing our attention to an editorial by one Charles Davenport Jr. published a week ago in the Greensboro News & Record in which Mr. Davenport came out four-square for voter suppression, thus putting into print what many Republicans will only say in private:
The ignorant among us — and they are legion — should not be allowed within 100 yards of a polling place. In fact, their votes should be actively suppressed, and until they are, the fewer votes cast, the better.

Considering that most of the conservatives we read on a regular basis libel those who disagree as "libtards" whose "intelligence" is sub-scum, we can guess how they might want to test "intelligence."

Friday, May 16, 2014

Preemptive Strafing of the Right to Protest in Raleigh

In the United States, as the Supreme Court has instructed us, money is speech, and that's certainly been true in North Carolina, especially since Art Pope seized control of the government.

In North Carolina, however, speech is not necessarily free, especially if you're trying to speak through the Moral Monday protests, which will crank up again this coming Monday at the Legislative Building in Raleigh.

Nothing has riled our betters in the General Assembly like thousands of citizens demanding justice, fairness, and logic in the way our government is operated. So yesterday and essentially in secret, an obscure "commission" voted to change the rules on how you can get your ass arrested for protesting at the Legislative Building in Raleigh.

Of greatest concern is the vagueness of undefined terms used in the new rules, and the discretion given to Capitol police (who dangle on Speaker Thom Tillis's strings anyway -- let's be honest) to decide on their own definitions. The new rules prohibit acting in a manner that would “imminently disturb” the General Assembly.

"Disturb"? Some of the Honorables are deeply disturbed at the very thought that there are people who actually disagree with their agenda. So the sight of them alone might excite a good case of the vapors. Republican Senator Thom Goolsby was so disturbed that he generously labeled them "Monday Morons."

Read more here:

Starting next Monday, we'll see how Mr. Tillis and his drones define the new language.

Laff of the Day

"Republicans know how to budget."
--Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, the chief budget writer in the NC House, yesterday at a Republican legislative press conference
Yeah, right.

With their masterful budgeting, teachers are leaving both the state and the profession in droves. With their goddamn skillful budgeting, the state faces a $400 million shortfall in revenue, which will be taken out of the already bare hides of the poorest, the hungriest, the sickest among us.

O Lord, protect us from what the Republicans consider their greatest talents!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Will David Blust et al. Run as "Nathan Miller Republicans"?

Reading about County Commission Chair Nathan Miller's vindictiveness toward Watauga County Schools and seeing that Commissioners David Blust and Perry Yates were nothing but bobble-heads in agreement with the Miller agenda raise a question about the November elections in Watauga County.

Does the local GOP intend to run on the Miller record and uphold the Miller philosophy?

Where does Karen Lerch stand on Nathan Millerism? She has been overheard to say that she hasn't even studied the "issues" yet, but a moment of truth approaches for her.

What about Jimmy Hodges?

Commissioner David Blust has departed from Millerism at times, especially (and most recently) on the quickie deal engineered by County Attorney Four Eggers that would have given the town of Beech Mountain access to Watauga River water. And on that other scheme to build a commercial business park on Hwy 194. Political considerations (that is, reality) overruled Blust's usual party-line kowtowing to Miller on those votes. Otherwise, Blust is generally in complete and serene agreement with his chair.

As it's been Nathan Millerism that has dominated actions and attitudes for the last two years on the Watauga County Commission, this upcoming County Commission election is likely to be a referendum on a man who is in the process of being involuntarily sidelined from political office because of his personality, his political philosophy, and his character.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

An Independent Strikes Back

An independent candidate, Michael Lentz, is trying to get on the ballot in Wilkes and Alleghany counties (NC House District 94) to run against Republican Jeffrey Elmore, who is otherwise unchallenged for reelection. Lentz needs 1,800 signatures of Wilkes/Alleghany registered voters to make the ballot.

In his roll-out email, Lentz said:
While I have long shared the progressive stances of moderates in both the Democratic and Republican parties, the recent tendency toward extremism and downright incompetence on the part of the spokespersons of both factions in North Carolina has led me to declare my independence of both formal party structures. I offer myself to the voters of the 94th District as an Independent dedicated to a common sense approach to addressing the problems facing the common people of our district and North Carolina.
It's going to be a steep hill to climb, getting those 1,800 signatures, and an even steeper hill if he actually gets on the ballot to overtake Elmore, who's been a safe Republican cog in the Raleigh conservative machine. But we can dream, can't we?

Lentz stakes out positions that will make him anathema to the Republican right-wing base:
I believe in a nonpartisan common sense approach to government that improves the lives of the people and communities in the 94th District. I want to promote respect for our professional educators, a fair system of taxation, protect our beautiful natural resources and seek health care for all citizens.

Monday, May 12, 2014


The Appalachian State University claimed the first spot in the Campus Conservation Nationals 2014 contest, an annual spring competition among colleges in the United States and Canada to save energy and water.

The North Carolina University scored top marks in the energy conservation competition for promoting disconnection of unused electronics and switching off lights when not in use in the student community, among other such measures.

"This tangible mobilization of hundreds of thousands of students reducing energy consumption, promoting sustainability and actively mitigating the effects of climate change shows that the next generation is ready for change and is no longer willing to wait for decision makers to address the issues at hand," Hannah Debelius, U.S. Green Building Council Students program manager at the Center for Green Schools, said in a statement.... [University Herald]

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Who Sez that Republicans Are Good Money Managers?

Here's Republican civic and financial "management" of North Carolina in a handy nutshell:
"State revenues are lower than expected because of the tax cuts adopted last year." (N&O, today)
Those tax cuts went mainly to the rich and to powerful corporations, not to you, O my brethren.
"Legislative budget writers received a memo from the legislative fiscal office last week that estimated a $62 million to $94 million Medicaid shortfall this year." (ditto)
Ah! The cost of throwing a partisan brickbat at the Affordable Care Act! Republicans in the General Assembly don't pay. We pay. All of us.

ead more here:
Read more here:

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Thom Tillis: Moving Back to the Center Is Gonna Be Mighty Hard

The thing about losing Republican Senate candidate Greg Brannon was that he'd never run for nor held any elective office.

The thing about winning Republican Senate candidate Thom Tillis is that he has and therefore owns a nice, big, juicy public record to prove how far to the right he's been.

The current public approval rating for the NC General Assembly is somewhere around 26%, and Thom Tillis as Speaker of the NC House can be justifiably cited as the author of that dismal dislike by the general public.

"Under Tillis, the GOP passed a constitutional ban on gay marriage, a repeal of the estate tax, laws mandating a photo ID for voting, new abortion restrictions, funding for vouchers and charter schools, looser restrictions for fracking and even cuts to unemployment insurance. Republicans have also declined to take the Obamacare Medicaid expansion and refused to set up a state exchange for the Affordable Care Act. It was a Republican dream." (John D. Nichols)

That's just for starters. Tillis actually recorded a radio ad that bragged that he had rejected health care for some 500,000 poor North Carolinians who might otherwise have been covered by Medicaid:
Female Announcer: Tillis stopped Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion cold. It’s not happening in North Carolina and it’s because of Thom Tillis. He led the conservative revolution in Raleigh.
Now Thom's gonna have to answer for that and for a lot more. His difficulties getting away from that record were deliciously highlighted by this video, which was actually shot at Tillis's victory party last Tuesday night.


Thursday, May 08, 2014

Bad Juju

Jonathan Jordan's wife Tracie came in dead last, in a field of five candidates, in the race for a district court judgeship (Dist. 23):

Robert (Rob) Crumpton5,03826.96 %
Donna L. Shumate4,56924.45 %
Fred Bauer3,78320.25 %
Regina Gillespie3,42718.34 %
Tracie McMillan Jordan1,86910.00 %


Mr. Jordan faces his own Waterloo in November with a candidate who's out-raising him and definitely out-campaigning him.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Primary Campaign Hangover

1. Watauga Conservatives PAC, the outfit behind the Kanoy/Trivette/Cornett yard signs, registered with the State Board of Elections on April 27, with Janet L. Woods listed as treasurer. They reported $1,000 raised, all of it given by Paula Medley who was herself present at some polling stations yesterday promoting the conservative School Board candidates. The PAC appears to have spent most of that $1,000 on those yard signs.

2. The State Board of Elections website last night was error-ridden and prone to crashing. News outlets in major cities were reduced to calling local county boards of elections to get accurate polling results. Heck of a job, SBOE.

3. In the 24th Prosecutorial District Attorney primary, also-ran third-place finished Nathan Miller (who got 19% of the vote district-wide) told the Watauga Democrat, "I'm disappointed that Watauga County Republicans did not show up at the polls." Well, they did show up in what may well turn out to be record numbers, eclipsing the Republican primary turnout of 2010. But unaffiliated voters also showed up, and the majority of them chose a Republican ballot to vote:
Republican ballots pulled: 3,832 (59.12%)
Democratic ballots pulled: 2,547 (39.29%)
Unaffiliated ballots pulled: 81 (1.25%)
Libertarian ballots pulled: 22 (.34%)
We don't yet have the total number of unaffiliated voters who showed up, but anecdotally we can conclude that they were not coming in to vote for Mr. Miller. Although he carried Watauga by -- what? -- some 46%, more votes were cast against him in Watauga than for him. #NathanMillerismFail

4. Before we leave the statistics directly above, and even without knowing how many total unaffiliated voters went to the polls in this primary, one thing is pretty clear: the local Republican Party has a big problem with independent voters. Supreme Court Justice Robin Hudson won Watauga County easily, Nathan Miller lost, and three progressive School Board candidates were in the top four finishers in that race. Unaffiliated voters don't tend to like the direction that the local GOP has been heading, especially perhaps in the matters of cronyism, voting rights, and the mismanagement of the local Board of Elections. #FourEggersismFail

5. The turnout of Appalachian State University students was de minimis. The local conservatives dependably blame student voters for their electoral failures, but they can't hide behind that lame excuse in this present case. #AnneMarieYatesismFail

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Remarkable Numbers

Bald Mountain precinct still outstanding, but it's clear that at least 1,000 more Republican ballots were voted today than Democratic in Watauga, yet the three progressive School Board candidates finished first, second, and fourth among the six who are surviving the primary.

Those numbers have got to put some people back on their heels ... like me!

In other similarly amazing news, Supreme Court Associate Justice Robin Hudson appears to be leading state-wide in that outside-money-bashing judicial race.

Karen Lerch is leading Matt Klutz by a very slim margin in that Republican County Commission primary, which says something about the weakness in the mainstream Republican Party in Watauga.

On the other hand, Miller is leading Springer in Watauga in the district attorney race, but Springer appears to be way ahead in the whole district.

Who's Being Eliminated from School Board Eight?

Meat Camp could change things, but looks as though Tiffany Christian and Josh Kanoy will be knocked off the School Board ballot for November.

Seth Banks!

Republican District Attorney candidate Seth Banks currently in the lead, but too few precincts reporting across the 24th Prosecutorial District to establish a trend.

Watauga County may end up being irrelevant in that race.

Early School Board Numbers

Jay Fenwick, Ronny Holste, and Kurt Michael leading in Early Voting by substantial margins.

The three conservative school board candidates trailing Henries.

Ole Dragon Breath

I'm loving me some Rand Paul, from yesterday in Charlotte, talking about Republican senatorial contender Greg Brannon:
North Carolina needs “a dragon slayer, and that dragon slayer is Dr. Greg Brannon,” Paul told 250 people downtown near the NASCAR Hall of Fame, suggesting Brannon’s strong conservative beliefs would shake up the status quo in Washington. “I’m here today because Greg Brannon is a true believer and we need true believers in Congress,” Paul added.
Meanwhile, turnout in this primary suggests that people who truly believe in dragons (and fairies and the Lollipop Guild) are perhaps not as numerous as one might hope.

Monday, May 05, 2014

The 'Establishment' Strikes Back?

North Carolina Republicans appear poised to reject Tea Party Republicanism tomorrow and nominate Thom Tillis, the epitome of "country-club Republicanism," to run for Senate.

The pursuit of money and influence, as opposed to the pursuit of purified conservative values, appears to be the new tide across North Carolina.

We'll know if that tide is rolling in Watauga County if former County Commissioner Jimmy Hodges defeats former County Commissioner Allen Trivette for the District 5 commissioner seat. Mr. Trivette's campaign signs signal that he's the real conservative, not to mention a "life-long Republican," something the once-upon-a-time Democrat Mr. Hodges can't claim. But Mr. Hodges will be more appealing to big-money developers and to the Chamber of Commerce.

The last time Mr. Hodges was serving as a county commissioner, a decade ago, he became momentarily an advocate for county zoning authority. He did so only when it became safe to do so, that is, once the zoning of "high-impact" land-uses had been decisively defeated. He was the lone vote on the Board of Commissioners to employ zoning authority to regulate polluting industries.

Hmmm. Soft on zoning, eh? You'd never find Mr. Trivette waffling on that issue.

"Establishment" Republicans have far more flexibility when it comes to "pragmatic" values. If the trend holds tomorrow, perhaps the Republican establishment will decide to start rebuilding public education, the edifice they've been busily bombing into rubble.