Thursday, March 31, 2016

Meanwhile, the NCGOP Resembles Yugoslavia After the Death of Tito

The elected chair of the North Carolina Republican Party has been banned from party HDQs.

Executive Director of the NCDP, Dallas Woodhouse, who shut off the party chair's email, is on the right side of the barricades -- inside the building where the phones, computers, and checkbook are.

Woodhouse has hired armed security guards at HDQs. "Armed security guards." Just try using the bathroom there, folks!

Who's Worse on Women's Issues?

If you watch the video of Donald Trump's deer-in-the-headlights moment last night with Chris Matthews (video embedded here), you see a candidate first trying to tap dance away from the question of whether women should be punished for having abortions -- you can actually see those rusty little wheels turning beneath the skin stretched across his skull -- until finally logic kicks in, so "Yes," sez he, if abortion is capital murder, then women must be punished for having one.

He hadn't thought it through yo. But, yes, this man's first instinct, when cornered, is to blame and punish women. There might be a pattern here, relevant in evaluating the character of a man who wants to be president.

John Kasich and Ted Cruz became instantly pious. Kasich said, “Of course women shouldn’t be punished.” Cruz said, “Of course we shouldn’t be talking about punishing women; we should affirm their dignity and the incredible gift they have to bring life into the world.”

But what, pray tell, were women saying, at least those with at least two simultaneously firing synapses? Here's one response, taken from Facebook:
WTF? What's all this faux outrage by Cruz and Kasich that Trump wants to punish women for having abortions? The very policies that Cruz and Kasich and the GOP have passed already punish women for even seeking one. How can you argue on one hand that you don't want to punish women but it's ok to punish (sometimes kill) doctors who perform abortions, require women to undergo unnecessary medical procedures to get an abortion, and send over 100,000 women in Texas either over the border or to back alleys by shutting down clinics? What a crock. Trump was just telling the truth: Of course they are willing to punish women. They already are.
WTF, indeed!

Thanks to Donald Trump, and to his interrogator last night, for bringing the treatment of women fully and blindingly back into the spotlight for 2016.

PolitiFact Rates McCrory's Claims as "False"

"We have not taken away any rights that have currently existed in any city in North Carolina, from Raleigh to Durham to Chapel Hill to Charlotte," McCrory said at a press conference Monday. "Every city and every corporation has the exact same discrimination policy this week as they had two weeks ago."

That was our governor, vowing that he knew the content of HB2 which he had signed into law last week. PolitiFact found what everyone paying attention in North Carolina has known for a week: that HB2 wiped out anti-discrimination policies enacted in Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Boone, Asheville, and god knows where else. (The law also takes away the rights of all citizens everywhere in the state to seek redress if they are terminated for discriminatory reasons, but let that provision rest for a moment.)

Politifact interviewed municipal government officials and workplace discrimination attorneys before assigning its grade of "false":
“He’s completely wrong about that, unfortunately," said Carrboro’s town attorney, Nick Herman, about McCrory’s claim that the law doesn’t take away any existing rights.
“It’s huge. It’s a massive loss of rights, and it happened with almost no debate,” said Eric Doggett, a Raleigh attorney who works in employment discrimination.
“I won’t refer to this as a ‘bathroom bill’ because that’s really not what it’s about,” said Laura Noble, a Chapel Hill employment discrimination attorney. “It’s about the elimination of discrimination protections.”
PolitiFact found that Carrboro, for example,  has had a policy for years that contractors paid by the town must have anti-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation or gender identity. HB2 specifically says that local governments do not have the right to put any such requirements on contractors.

"I was absolutely shocked to hear that the governor – I give him all presumption of good faith – but for him to claim this bill does not change existing law means he is not being adequately advised," Carrboro's town attorney Herman said.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

McCrory Runs Away From Reporters Asking Questions About HB2

So Governor Pat McCrory thought, apparently, that unveiling a sign along an unfinished Hwy 70 bypass in Wayne County would be safe haven from persistent bad press about the law he signed last Wednesday night, the notorious HB2, which in one fell swoop took away every recourse North Carolina citizens had for being fired because of age, political persuasion, religious fervor, and, yes, sexual orientation.

The Guv was prepared to take questions from the assembled local press, and after two too many questions about HB2, he "swiftly turned and walked back toward his vehicle, ignoring requests for further inquiries regarding his ongoing defense of H.B. 2...."

He's tried several tacks. First, he sent out, and induced every department in his administration to also send out, a wildly misleading “fact check” about HB2 -- which earned the worst possible rating from the fact-checkers at WRAL and was widely criticized by other news outlets such as Indy Week and Chapelboro for its false claims.

Then he blamed the media for blindsiding him with questions about the bill he had signed and obviously never read.

Then he made this howlingly false claim: “Every city has the exact same discrimination policy they had a few weeks ago,” when in fact HB2 overturned local nondiscrimination ordinances in Buncombe, Mecklenburg, and Orange counties, as well as in the cities of Asheville, Charlotte, Boone, Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Greensboro, and Raleigh. The Guv couldn't get any facts straight.

Then the NC Values Coalition leapt to McCrory's defense, producing a suspicious list of 300 "businesses" that supported HB2. Under questioning by the Greensboro News&Record, the Values Coalition eventually admitted that the 300 were individuals, not businesses. The Coalition produced a much shortened list of 17 businesses including Hanesbrand. When Hanesbrand saw what it was being associated with, it asked to be removed and issued a statement saying the company had never supported HB2.

“Either Gov. McCrory didn’t understand HB2 when he rushed to sign it last week, or he’s flat-out lying in a desperate attempt to counter the enormous backlash he caused,” said Gerrick Brenner, executive director of Progress NC Action. “As major employers speak out left and right against HB2, the desperate buffoonery of McCrory’s smoke-and-mirrors campaign would almost be funny if he wasn’t trying to defend bigotry and discrimination."

Still Unpacking HB2, and Oh, the Stench!

I rarely say that something is "a must-read," though I think it often, and I'm thinking it strongly this morning about Rob Schofield's further exploration of the sweeping rewrite of our laws passed as House Bill 2 last week and signed by a befuddled governor who has bled nothing but support since he put pen to paper.

HB2 is, in Schofield's summation, "a truly stunning and almost unfathomable development – at least at first blush. A modern American state has enacted a sweeping statute that takes its law backward on a fundamental premise of human and civil rights (the right not to be fired because of your race, sex or religion) to the mid-20th Century (and maybe even the mid-19th Century). What’s more, it has done so with the ringing endorsement of conservative Christian advocacy groups – groups whose members are now, as a result, expressly unprotected in state law because of their religious beliefs!"

That's right. As the law is written, a hyper-conservative Christian could be fired simply because she's a hyper-conservative Christian, and she would have no recourse under state law (and good luck, Sister, getting relief from the federal bureaucracy!).

While national businesses and non-profit groups have roundly condemned the North Carolina General Assembly and especially our poor dumb governor, the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce has been very obviously and strangely silent on the law. Schofield reasons -- correctly, we believe, that the Chamber of Commerce "was bought off with the broad language added to the bill at the last minute to deep-six local living wage ordinances and to bar all state court lawsuits against employers who fire workers for discriminatory reasons."

Is the Chamber of Commerce willing to countenance blatant discrimination in order to gain more power over their workers? Apparently so.

By the same token, conservative Christians either haven't noticed that they are also exposed for unequal treatment by HB2, or they held their fire on giving away the right of their members to sue for discrimination, suggests Schofield, "so that [they] could pursue [their] longstanding holy grail of keeping LGBT persons marginalized and unequal."

An unconstitutional aroma continues to hang over this pile of legislative crap. The more we know about it, the more we smell the ugliness.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Governor Bumble, In Over His Head

You can't watch Governor McCrory say he's "blindsided" by the most obvious question imaginable about the bill he signed last Wednesday night -- HB2 -- and then go on about "the true facts" which aren't incidentally the true facts ... you can't watch this train wreck without the strong presumption that the man did not read the bill he signed.

Video of the governor's revealing press conference yesterday.

The governor couldn't answer a yes-or-no question about HB2's effects some five days after he signed the bill, saying the question blindsided him. Shame on the liberal media for asking a question that blindsided the governor! But thanks for doing your job, "Liberal Media," in giving McCrory the obvious target for all his problems with the facts. It's all the liberal media's fault.

McCrory's now infamous "Myths & Facts" sheet about HB2, which was sent out to the universe by every department in McCrory's administration, claimed that HB2 took away no existing protections for individuals in the state of North Carolina. WRAL fact-checkers gave that claim, and the rest of the governor's "Myths & Facts" sheet, the lowest rating on their fact-check scale -- "a moving violation."

We have to guess that those wily foxes in the General Assembly made certain representations to McCrory about the bill they passed after scant hours of its being introduced, without allowing for public input or even calm reflection, and our poor dumb governor bought the spin. It's almost as though the Big Boys in the General Assembly really want to see this man defeated in November. They certainly seem to enjoy seeing him twist in the wind.

We borrow from Dickens' character Mr. Bumble: If McCrory believes what's coming out of his mouth these days, he is a ass, a idiot.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Facts and Myths About House Bill 2

By Aaron Keck, on Chapelboro. I'd copy and post the entire thing here, but I hate to just mimic other people's brilliance.

Gastonia, North Carolina, on Thursday, March 24, 2016

Easter Sunrise

Our sermon for this morning is actually from last night, by Laura Leslie:
If you're a Christian, you know this is the darkest night of the year, the night before the tomb was found to be empty.
If you're a Christian, you also know that Jesus didn't include an exceptions list on that Easter morning. Not for folks who didn't look like he did, or were poorer than he was, or didn't love the way he did ... or weren't gendered the way he was.
The only people Jesus judged were people who used faith to hurt other people or to make money. In those days, they were called Pharisees, but these days, they're better known as politicians.
So Happy Easter, y'all. And Y'all Means All. My God is a mighty God, and She doesn't make mistakes.

Texas ID Law Challenged Again

[This update taken from the SCOTUSblog]

The long-running controversy over a Texas voter ID requirement returned to the Supreme Court on Friday as challengers sought again (with Veasey v. Abbott) stop the law’s enforcement. The application was filed with Justice Clarence Thomas, who handles emergency legal matters from the geographic area of the Fifth Circuit, which includes Texas. Thomas has the option of acting on his own or sharing the issue with his colleagues. It would take the votes of five justices to block the Texas law, if the issue goes to the full Court.

The Texas law was first passed five years ago, but has been under continuous challenge, and has been found unconstitutional as racially discriminatory by three federal courts — a federal trial judge and two unanimous three-judge panels of the Fifth Circuit. However, the law has continued in effect because of temporary orders permitting enforcement, including one by the Supreme Court in October 2014, dividing the justices six to three. (That Court action was released shortly after 5 a.m., following an all-nighter by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who stayed up through the night writing her dissenting opinion.)

Each time the challengers have gone into court to try to put the ID law on hold, they have argued that some 600,000 Texans — mainly, black and Hispanic voters who otherwise are eligible to vote — do not have the kind of identification documents that would satisfy the strict law. The Supreme Court dissenters also relied on that argument when the Court left the requirement in effect for the November 2014 elections.

The latest three-judge Fifth Circuit ruling against the ID law has been set aside while the full Fifth Circuit conducts its own review. A hearing is set before the en banc Fifth Circuit on May 24 which also happens to be the date of the primary run-off election in Texas. Veasey v. Abbott was filed with Justice Thomas seeking Supreme Court action to block the ID requirement and compel the state to start taking the steps necessary to prepare for a November election without the requirement. The state could remain flexible in its arrangements, the application argued, in case the ID mandate were upheld by the en banc Fifth Circuit.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Ralf Walters Attempts To File/Files [?] Against Rep. Virginia Foxx in Republican Primary

Meghann Evans reported this in the Winston-Salem Journal:
Friday was a hectic morning for Winston-Salem Republican Ralf Walters, who wants to challenge U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx in the 5th District primary. He drove to the Forsyth County Board of Elections office, which was closed for Good Friday.
Tim Tsujii, Forsyth County’s elections director, said in an interview that congressional candidates file with the State Board of Elections. They could stop by the county office, excepting Friday, to get the voter-registration-verification portion of the candidacy form completed.
Walters said he called the state board office in Raleigh, which was open until noon. He said he was told he could get his candidacy form notarized by noon and mailed express or priority to the state, which he then did.
The State Board of Elections could not be immediately reached for comment Friday afternoon regarding Walters’ paperwork.
Walters has worked as an assistant editor and feature writer for Business Traveler USA and Business Travel Executive magazines but says he's presently a freelance. On his Facebook page he says he's "the Conservative alternative to Virginia Foxx."

Oh, okay.

Friday, March 25, 2016

NC Bigotry: Bad for Business

From coverage of North Carolina's latest wild lurch to the right:
...The N.C.A.A., which is planning to hold tournament events in North Carolina in 2017 and 2018, said in a statement that it would “continue to monitor current events, which include issues surrounding diversity, in all cities bidding on N.C.A.A. championships and events, as well as cities that have already been named as future host sites.”
And on Twitter, a new account calling for a boycott of the state emerged in response to the law. Chris Sacca, a Silicon Valley investor, implied he would no longer invest in businesses in the state.
In Charlotte, Mayor Jennifer Roberts said she was “appalled at the speed of the law being passed” without consideration of the ramifications for the business community. “The fallout is just starting,“ she said, adding, “We are very concerned about the ripple effects and I do believe that discrimination is not good for business.”
Some political observers noted that the state legislation, which deprives local municipalities of control over their own laws, seemed antithetical to conservative values. “This doesn’t seem conservative to me,” said Mac McCorkle, a former Democratic consultant and an associate professor of public policy at Duke University. “This seems authoritarian.”
The word authoritarian has special resonance, in this year of the T-Rump.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

North Carolina, First in Flight

Partial list of national businesses and institutions which have spoken out against North Carolina's new law justifying discrimination against LGBT citizens, which was rushed through the General Assembly yesterday and signed by our poor excuse for a governor last night. Way to bring jobs to North Carolina, Republicans!

American Airlines
Bank of America
Dow Chemical
Duke University
Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
Red Hat
Trillium Asset Management

The 11 Democrats in Raleigh Who Voted To Legalize Discrimination Against LGBT Persons Statewide

Make of the facts below what you will. Several of these Democrats who voted for House Bill 2 ("Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act" which is really "It's Legal To Discriminate Against LGBT Citizens Act") faced a primary on March 15 and face no opponent in November. Freed up like that from any citizen accountability, perhaps they feel perfectly entitled to let their prejudices fly. The others with a Republican opponent in November are maybe tail-tuckers afraid to stand on principles of equality and fairness. Some are maybe just dicks.

BTW, Rep. Jonathan Jordan voted for H2. Sen. Dan Soucek was absent (though how they could tell is unclear).

The Democrats Who Voted Yes
Larry Bell (Dist. 21) -- Had a primary on March 15, which he won. Unopposed in November

William Brisson (22) -- Had a primary which he won. Unopposed in November

Elmer Floyd (43) -- No primary, no opponent in November

Ken Goodman (66) -- No primary, no opponent in November

Charles Graham (47) -- Had a primary which he won. Unopposed in November

George Graham (12) -- No primary, no opponent in November

Howard Hunter (5) -- No primary, no opponent in November

Garland Pierce (48) -- No primary, no opponent in November

William Richardson (44) -- Has a Republican opponent in November

Brad Salmon (51) -- Has a Republican opponent in November

Michael Wray (27) -- Had a primary which he won. Unopposed in November

And finally, the neutered wonder who signed this bill late last night ... the same man who refused to call the special session because he was afraid the General Assembly would go too far. Guess what? They went too far, and Gov. Squishy signed it anyway.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Big-Government Conservatives in Raleigh Aim for "Statewide Consistency"

On their way to stomping on Charlotte for its LGBT protection ordinance -- a rare special session of the General Assembly called today by its Republican overlords -- the Raleigh junta has decided to go much further in a law they promise to ram through both houses in a matter of hours. McCrory has indicated that he doesn't want to sign it, but he will.

Not only will lawmakers determine who can go to what toilet all across the state, but they will also “define” transgender people out of existence. The draft bill (linked above) defines “biological sex” as “the physical condition of being male or female, which is determined by a person’s birth certificate.”

I'm not making this up. A meme has already emerged to highlight the absurdity of the General Assembly's overreach.

But wait. That's not all. The draft bill would also bar all local governments from enacting living wage ordinances. Just when you think the Republicans can't -- or won't -- go further in their hunger for absolute power, they go further.

Can November please get him sooner?

Monday, March 21, 2016

NC Filings for Congressional Seats

Filing for the redrawn U.S. Congressional seats in North Carolina opened the day after the March 15 primary, and there's a lot of action across the state, with likely primaries on both Democratic and Republican sides. Here are the latest updates (including the NC Supreme Court seat currently held by Bob Edmunds, whose skin the General Assembly has tried to spare by passing the "retention election" bill, currently in litigation. Apparently, the State Board of Elections is allowing contenders to file for Edmunds' seat on the Court, though the legality of the retention election still hasn't been settled).

2nd District (Renee Ellmers’ seat): Incumbent Republicans Renee Ellmers and George Holding, who will face off as a result of their districts being dramatically changed

3rd District (Walter Jones’ seat): Republican Phil Law

4th District (David Price’s seat): Incumbent Democrat David Price, Republicans Sue Googe and Teiji Kimball

5th District (Virginia Foxx’s seat): Republican Pattie Curran and Democrat Jim Roberts

7th District (David Rouzer’s seat): Democrat J. Wesley Casteen

8th District (Richard Hudson’s seat): Republican Tim D’Annunzio

9th District (Robert Pittenger’s seat): Republican Robert Pittenger, Republican Todd Johnson and Democrat Christian Cano

10th District (Patrick McHenry’s seat): Republican Patrick McHenry and Democrat Andy Millard

11th District (Mark Meadows’ seat): Democrat Tom Hill

12th District (Alma Adams' seat): Democrats Alma Adams, Tricia Cotham, Rodney Moore, and Malcolm Graham and Republican Leon Threatt

13th District (George Holding’s seat): Republican John Blust and Democrat Bruce Davis

N.C. Supreme Court: Incumbent Bob Edmunds and Sabra Faires (Sabra Faires is the chief plaintiff in the suit to void the retention election innovation)

Dr. Greg Brannon, who just lost his primary bid against incumbent U.S. Senator Dick Burr and in 2014 lost his primary bid against eventual U.S. Senator Thom Tillis, has filed to run in the 2nd Congressional District. Headline: "Brannon Lowers Sights."

NC GOP Central Committee Trying To Purge the Party Chair

Looks like sleaze-meister Dallas Woodhouse is winning the internal power struggle against very new and inexperienced state GOP Chair Hasan Harnett.

The Central Committee voted no confidence in Harnett on Sunday, laying out a list of grievances which seem to hinge primarily on how much money attendees at the state convention in May must pay for the privilege of hanging out. It's always about the money, eh, GOP? No, in this case, it's about who's running the joint, and it ain't Harnett.

Dallas Woodhouse
One of only two members of the Central Committee who voted against the censure of Harnett, Daniel Rufty, chair of the 12th Congressional District Committee, said, “The establishment hates Hasan and has been actively working against him to make sure he’s not successful.” For his uppityness, Rufty got censured too by the Central Committee.

You may recall that recently the hired Executive Director of the party, Dallas Woodhouse, shut off Harnett's email account. Woodhouse was hired by the Central Committee, not by Harnett, which is part of the problem.

Harnett is clearly being shown the door, but so far he appears extremely near-sighted when it comes to seeing the door. He's defending himself on his Facebook page: "Here we go again with the silly tricks, attacks, and lies. That is not a sign of strength or leadership, but rather a sign of weakness. Recent attacks on my character are just that, silly tricks and lies."

Thank God it's not the NC Democratic Party imploding this year. 'Tis the season, rather, for detusking the elephant. Make that a self-detusking.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Look Who's Back on the Ballot in NC for U.S. Senate

Our favorite Libertarian, Sean Haugh:
[Sen. Dick] Burr and [Deborah] Ross will be joined on November’s ballot by a familiar face from the 2014 Senate race: Libertarian Sean Haugh, a pizza delivery driver from Durham who attracted national attention two years ago for his unusual candidacy.
Haugh said he’ll run a similar campaign this time: focusing on such Libertarian principles as ending wars and cutting spending, while getting the message out with low-cost tools like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube videos. Previous Haugh campaign videos featured him sipping craft beer while discussing issues at length.
“I can’t imagine anybody who is more different from me politically than Richard Burr,” Haugh said Thursday. “He’s going to make my job really easy.”

Friday, March 18, 2016

AppState Administration v. Electioneering Laws

ASU faculty are regularly and sternly warned not to campaign for political parties or political candidates using university resources.

Yet AppState administrators went to town advocating for the passage of the Connect NC bond issue, something that NC election law explicitly prohibits: Chapter 126-13 of the North Carolina General Statutes prohibits any state employee from using “the authority of his position, or utilize State funds, supplies or vehicles to secure support for or oppose any candidate, party, or issue in an election involving candidates for office or party nominations, or affect the results thereof” (emphasis added).

In fact, ASU is on record as spending $70,000 urging passage of the bond referendum.

Did ASU break election law? You bet it did. What other notorious state employee also broke the law? Governor Pat McCrory, who traveled across the state to dozens of events where he explicitly promoted the bond issue.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Voter Suppression Is Working in North Carolina

We'll never know the total number of eligible, registered voters in Watauga County who were either turned away at polls because poll workers didn't know the current law or who got frustrated by the incredibly long lines and slow processing and simply gave up.

We'll never know the total number of eligible voters who were trying to register and vote during Early Voting -- which is still the law -- but were refused that opportunity by misinformed poll workers.

The Watauga Board of Elections was unprepared for this primary. During the Early Voting phase at the most popular Early Voting site in the county, the workers could process in only two voters at a time. They should have been processing at least six voters at a time. More computers and/or more staff would have allowed that. Moving more machines or staff from satellite early voting sites where they could nap between voter visits would have helped.

Meanwhile, at satellite sites out in the county, workers were waiting many minutes between voters, but they were equipped with the same number of (under-utilized) computers as the ASU site. Because ... just because.

Provisional ballots: it's still the law, O my brethren, that a duly registered voter can vote out of his/her precinct, and that vote will count, but some poll judges were telling out-of-precinct voters that they had to go to their assigned precinct and that a provisional out-of-precinct ballot wouldn't be counted. Those poll workers appeared to be telling that false tale most frequently to young voters.

We can't help thinking -- because we're as prone to conspiracy theories as your average Trump supporter -- that delays, frustration, headaches, long lines at the polls are deliberate strategies for discouraging participation. It's only going to get worse in November, which will be the first opportunity in four years for the citizens to throw out of office the very people who have engineered this scenario.

North Carolina election law expert Gerry Cohen has done some stats on how NC college students were voting in the primary. This bit is particularly interesting:
Trump was VERY unpopular among GOP students: Chapel Hill (10%), Boone (14%) Charlotte (19%), Duke (12%), NCCU (17%), and NC State (12%). Finishing first among GOP students was Cruz at UNC-Charlotte and NCSU, and Rubio at AppState, Duke, and Carolina. Kasich and Rubio tied at NCCU among the 28 GOP voters there.
The Republican students at ASU that I personally talked to during Early Voting all said without exception that they hated Trump and would never consider voting for him.

The Democrats are not the only major party with potential generational problems.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Primary Results

Some takeaways from yesterday's primary:

1. Ted Cruz outpolled Donald Trump in Watauga.

2. The total Democratic ballots cast yesterday in Watauga = 1,181 more individual ballots than the total Republican ballots case for all 13 presidential candidates (including "No Preference").

3. Bernie Sanders buried Hillary Clinton in Watauga. The interest in that race obviously explains # 2 above.

4. Incumbent NC House Rep. Jonathan Jordan easily beat challenger Lew Hendricks, which is too bad.

5. Second-time Democratic candidate Sue Counts easily beat challenger Ronnie Marsh.

6. Franklin Graham's tool Deanna Ballard edged the vastly more qualified Ken Boham in the Dist. 45 NC Senate Republican primary, 52.96% to 47.04%. Boham should have won it.

7. Former Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker won his Secretary of Labor primary and is well set up to take on and beat incumbent disgrace Cherie Berry, "the elevator lady."

8. Ron Elmer, the more qualified candidate in the Democratic primary for Treasurer, took Watauga County but lost the state to Dan Blue III, who can still win the general election on the strength of his name alone.

9. Linda Coleman won the Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor. Watauga County went for  her opponent Holly Jones, a Buncombe County Commissioner.

Monday, March 14, 2016

In Hickory, NC, At This Hour

Hail, Mary!

NC Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger has just endorsed Ted Cruz in tomorrow's North Carolina presidential primary:
"Of the two candidates with a realistic chance to win the Republican nomination for president, only Ted Cruz can defeat Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in the general election this November. Ted Cruz is a principled outsider with a proven track record on fiscal and social issues that conservatives can count on. I hope you’ll consider joining me in supporting and voting for Ted Cruz tomorrow."
Time out now while I lean against this filing cabinet and howl with laughter.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

NC Teachers Win Tenure Case at Court of Appeals

The NC Court of Appeals has upheld Wake Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood's ruling last year that the elimination of teacher tenure ("career status") enacted by the NC General Assembly was an unconstitutional infringement on teachers' rights.

Here's Judge Linda Stephens' full ruling.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Watauga Early Voting Stats

Deep Gap VFD = 329 voters (6 voters per hour)
Blowing Rock Town Hall = 457 voters (9/hr)
Meat Camp VFD = 294 voters (6/hr)
Western Watauga Community Ctr = 355 voters (7/hr)
County Admin Bldg, King St.  = 2,530 voters (41/hr)
ASU Student Union = 3,250 voters (61/hr)

Note: Admin Bldg was open for 61 hours; all others, 53 hours each

The Second Coming

"What rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?" -- W.B. Yeats

There Is Such a Thing as Cosmic Irony

Senator Richard Burr ("Not a Career Politician") had to vote a provisional ballot because he lost his photo I.D. He also had to fill out the "Reasonable Impediment" form and check a box for the reason he didn't have acceptable photo I.D.

Burr is one of 600 in North Carolina who had to fill out the "Reasonable Impediment" paper, the fudging of the photo I.D. law passed by the Republican General Assembly last year to avoid having their law thrown out altogether by a Federal judge.

This wholly ironic development led Dan Blue III to post on Facebook: "'The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.' That, and life has a wicked sense of humor."

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Welcome to Trump Land, America

Video of the sucker-punching that happened in Fayetteville at a Trump rally:

The Trump supporter charged with assault in that incident later said on camera that "next time we might have to kill him." That video has disappeared from YouTube.

A couple of weeks at one of his rallies in Las Vegas, Donald Trump himself was strutting for an audience, saying about a protestor that he'd like to "punch him in the face."

Violent rhetoric, violent behavior.

Woodhouse to Harnett: "Drop Dead"

The Raleigh N&O is reporting that NCGOP Chair (and Tea Party poster child) Hasan Harnett had his party email account shut off by NCGOP Executive Director (and Machiavelli wannabe) Dallas Woodhouse. Apparently, Harnett was trying to act like he was Chair of the NCGOP by sending out emails, and Dallas Woodhouse didn't like the emails he was sending out. The N&O reports that Woodhouse doesn't really like anything about Harnett, who got his job in a Trump-style uprising by Tea Partiers at last year's annual GOP convention.

Woodhouse is trying to freeze out Harnett. Harnett played his race card: “I mean seriously, is this some form of ritual or hazing you would put the first black chairman of the NCGOP State Party through?” Harnett wrote. “Or is it because I am not white enough for you? You keep pushing the limits. I guess time will only tell what your real plot and schemes are all about against me.”

Hoo, boy!

The Republican state convention is in May. Get your tickets now!

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest Comes Out Strong Against First Amendment

Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest says he will introduce the "Campus Free Expression Act" to the General Assembly when it reconvenes next month. The "Campus Free Expression Act" is another of those Republican specialities, a piece of legislation given a title that's intentionally misleading.

Because the "Campus Free Expression Act" is anything but. It would bar any students, employees, or faculty members at the 16 member institutions of the University of North Carolina from disrupting public meetings or events with protests.

"Disruption." How will that be defined? Sometimes free speech is disrupting to the smug indifference of public officials who do not want to hear any conflicting opinion.

Let's call this the "Dan Forest Refrigerator Act of 2016," since Mr. Forest intends to put a chill into the expression of opinions different from his own.

Nelson Dollar Getting a Taste of What He Dished in 2004

Nelson Dollar
Cary Republican and chief budget writer in the NC House Nelson Dollar is being treated like a lite-liberal poltroon by his further-right primary challenger in the District 36 Republican primary. We are perennially reminded that Republicans have an insatiable appetite for eating their young.

Dollar is also experiencing what he dished out to a much more moderate Republican incumbent back in 2004, when Dollar was first elected to the House. That was a nasty campaign, and the incumbent, David Miner, who opposed the death penalty and opposed the introduction of Amendment One against gay marriage, was soundly defeated by Dollar.

The Raleigh N&O characterized Dollar's primary assault on Miner this way: "A series of vicious radio ads and direct mailings, funded by well-heeled Republicans such as Art Pope, painted Miner as a tax-raising, homosexual-protecting, criminal-loving liberal."

Sauce for the goose has now become sauce for the gander. Lap it, Rep. Dollar!

Sunday, March 06, 2016

"Panic Has Spread to North Carolina"

That trembling you feel in the earth? It isn't an earthquake. It's the footsteps of Bigus Dickus, approaching North Carolina.

The Prospect of Trump!

"I'm scared to death,” says former Charlotte Mayor Richard Vinroot, the Republican nominee for governor in 2000. “We’re about to turn our party over to a Trojan horse, a pretend conservative,” Vinroot told the Charlotte Observer. “[Trump] is an opportunist and this is his latest opportunity. I’m worried about a disaster that takes down senators and everybody else.”

Former Gov. Jim Martin, only the second Republican ever elected governor after Reconstruction and the only Republican ever to serve two full terms, worries that Bigus is also “turning off a lot of people. If he can’t figure out a way to be more charming and tolerant, it poses great risk of taking down the whole [GOP] slate.”

Democratic political operatives in North Carolina are being circumspect in what they say publicly about the possibilities if Trump seizes the nomination. Privately, some of them (and some of the most astute) are suggesting we could have a "wave election" if Trump is leading the Republican Party, and not a Republican wave. The old Republican hands quoted above seem to foresee the same thing.

Who knows? Maybe the T-rump will t-romp down everybody in his path and make America great again. Or maybe the tin-horn dictator-a-borning act and the 2nd grade speech pattern will grow as thin as a traveling salesman's gabardine pants.

Nobody knows, except maybe the Witch of Endor, and she's relocated under cover of darkness.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Early Voting Turnout in Watauga County

After two full days of Early Voting in Watauga County in the 2016 Primary elections:

Western Watauga Community Center 73
Deep Gap Volunteer Fire Department 80
Blowing Rock Town Hall 138
Meat Camp Volunteer Fire Department 58
Watauga County Administration Building 618
Plemmons Student Union, AppState 1,823

Four Eggers Ejected From ASU Early Voting Site

Four Eggers
Yesterday was chaotic in the Appalachian State University Early Voting site mandated by the State Board of Elections (SBOE) over the objections of Watauga County Board of Elections Chair Bill Aceto. One might think at least some of the chaos was the result of Aceto&Company's hostility, as students who wanted to register and vote -- still legal under North Carolina law -- got bad information and were often turned away. Later, those processes and the bad information was corrected, but at what cost already to young voters who were only trying to exercise their right to vote?

A video of the long lines in the ASU Student Union yesterday blew up almost instantly on the InnerTubes, and these images were captured before the line got really long. (You can see the video on the AppState Student Government Assn. Facebook page.)

Into this high-pressure setting -- that is, into the actual voting enclosure in the Blue Ridge Ballroom, where poll workers were trying to process the hundreds of students and where there were too few voting machines to handle the traffic -- strolled, late-morning, the most notorious Watauga County Republican political operative, one Four Eggers (Stacy C. Eggers IV), who sat himself down in the voting enclosure and proceeded to shuffle papers.

The man who as County Attorney and chief political officer for the Watauga County Republican Party installed his own puppet brother in 2013 as head of the local Board of Elections; the man who began to write new rules for the Board of Elections that punished then Elections Director Jane Anne Hodges and removed polling sites on the campus of ASU; the man who did everything in his power to put roadblocks up against student voting; the man who colluded behind the scenes with a Republican member of the SBOE to get his policies rubber-stamped, no questions asked; the man who made sure that a long-established Early Voting site in the ASU Student Union was removed in 2012; and the man whose actions and policies were ruled thuddingly unconstitutional by a Senior Superior Court Judge in 2014.

Yeah, Four Eggers, setting himself up in the voting enclosure, where he had no right to be. No earthly right whatsoever. No right as county attorney. No right as a private citizen. Certainly no right as a highly visible Republican political operative.

He was eventually run out of there when someone who did have a right to be in the voting enclosure threatened to call the SBOE and report his presence.

That was the atmosphere yesterday at the ASU Early Voting site. Where, nevertheless, voting far outstripped all other satellite Early Voting sites in the county.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Why Can't North Carolina Be More Like North Dakota?

Roy Cooper
Good God! When the Republican governor of North Dakota displays statesmanlike leadership to the view of the whole world, as well as a suddenly all-too-relevant comparison to our own enfeebled, feckless, and spooked Governor Squishy -- no wonder people are saying the Republican Party is collapsing from inside.

Governor Dennis Daugaard of North Dakota just vetoed a Republican-sponsored "show us your genitals" law that would have prohibited bathroom access for transgender youth in public schools, the same law essentially that Gov. McCrory has already announced he would be all too happy to sign and which Speaker of the NC House Tim Moore wanted to call a special session of the General Assembly to quickly pass (at a cost of $42,000 per day). (NC Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said he wasn't for calling a special session, and so that ended the all-fired rush. But they still intend to take action in April.)

Why a "show us your genitals" law in North Carolina? Because the city of Charlotte passed a non-discrimination policy that included transgendered citizens and their access to public restrooms. The conservatives went hoarse with braying.

Back in North Dakota, Governor Daugaard issued a veto statement that could be a model for how a human being might react to such nonsense, let alone a governor. The proposed law, said Daugaard, does “not address any pressing issue” facing the state.  Does not address any pressing issue facing the state. That one sentence presents the starkest contrast to our own enfeebled, feckless, and spooked governor, whose time in office is very short now and who has nothing much to run on for reelection.

Does McCrory see himself riding in on the Conservative White Steed to plant himself in the restroom door and thunder, "Thou shalt not pass!" What a joke of a chief executive!

In addressing the hysteria among some conservatives that wholesale sexual molestation will follow transgendered rights, Daugaard also said, “If and when these rare situations arise, I believe local school officials are best positioned to address them. Instead of encouraging local solutions, this bill broadly regulates in a manner that invites conflict and litigation, diverting energy and resources from the education of the children of this state.”

Such logic and calm reasoning are incredibly rare these days in the party of Pat McCrory. Not rare, thankfully, for the strongest Democratic candidate running in the primary to take on Squishy. This was NC Attorney General Roy Cooper yesterday:
Cooper ... said he thinks state lawmakers should deal with more important matters than the controversy in Charlotte over a new ordinance that will allow transgender people to use the bathrooms of their choice.
He said attorneys in his office have concluded that there are already sufficient criminal laws to address the issue.
“We’ve got 4,500 people who have lost jobs since Jan. 1,” Cooper said. “We have teachers leaving the state of North Carolina. We have about $400 million in taxes that has just been put on North Carolina middle-class families. And this is the issue that the governor wants to talk about in bringing before the General Assembly? I don’t think so.
Could November get here faster?

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

It's March 1: Do You Know Where Your Taxes Are?

New taxes on sales&services go into effect in North Carolina today, all enacted by the Republican General Assembly and signed by Governor Squishy to make up for the loss of revenue that was given  away to the rich in big tax breaks.

The taxes land heaviest on the middle and working classes who have to spend a greater part of their income on the very sales&services that the Republicans are now taxing.

For example, it will now cost you more to get your old car repaired, to get alterations done to your old clothing, to get a new appliance installed, and, because the Republicans like to meddle in everything we do, from having sex to dying, even tombstone engraving is now taxed. They're taxing the very labor required to do those jobs.

But figuring out the exceptions takes a graduate degree (and it sure looks like some special-interest lobbying got carve-outs for some businesses).  Veterinary services, pet care, and advertising are all exempt from the new taxes. According to the News&Observer,
Whether a service is taxed will largely depend on whether the firm performing the service is also selling materials – and therefore already collecting sales taxes.
“Thus far, it’s been a bit difficult to truly understand it,” said Jim Pendergrass, executive director of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association of North Carolina. “There seems to be a lot of exemptions and a lack of clarifications.”
Sales tax requirements will be based on whether the majority of a business’ sales come from parts or equipment. That means a service – unclogging a toilet, for example – would be subject to sales tax with a company whose business is mostly sales but exempt if a customer hires someone whose business is just to provide the service.
In other words ... we get something else the Republicans specialize in: an unlevel playing field.

  • Automotive fluid exchanges, including oil, engine coolant/antifreeze, refrigerant, brake, power steering, windshield washer, transmission, differential.
  • Automotive fuel system repairs including cleaning or inspecting fuel injectors, visual inspection of fuel lines, adjust throttle, fuel treatment.
  • Automotive electrical repairs including battery tests, charge, or jump services; applying protective coat to battery terminals; visually inspecting wiring and wiring components; testing fuse; cleaning battery terminals or receptacles.
  • Automotive tire maintenance and repairs including rotations, mount, balance, alignment, patch or plug; measure and adjust pressure.
  • Automotive suspension maintenance and repairs including steering and suspension inspection; grease joints or bearings; pack bearings.
  • Automotive inspections including preventative maintenance, multi-points, brake system, visual (belts, hoses, wiring, brakes, engine components, air conditioning components, lines, windshield wipers, etc.)
  • Automotive adjustments or calibrations including belt tension, speedometer, tachometer, throttle, and set or adjust spark plug gap.
  • Automotive maintenance including exterior washing, wax, or detail services; paint; removing scratches, dents, or dings; applying protective coating (spray on bed liners, clear cots, waxes, moisture/rain protection), window tinting.
  • Automotive maintenance including interior reupholstering, cleaning (upholstery, carpet, windows), and applying protective coatings.
  • Automotive repairs including troubleshooting a fluid leak or attempting to “diagnose an unusual noise coming from a motor vehicle, whether or not the source of the leak or noise is found or remedied.”
  • Automotive restoration of headlights, moldings, trims, etc.
  • Automotive roadside service fees “where the intent of the service call is to troubleshoot.”
  • Performing a service or tune-up of a motor vehicle, lawnmower, trimmer, edger, leaf blower, pressure washer, generator, chainsaw, tiller, auger, “or other similar small engine;” boat; aircraft; ATV or dirt bike; moped; golf cart; or bicycle
  • Calibrating watches, scales, guns or scopes
  • Calibrating medical equipment including Lasik surgery equipment, thermometers
  • Calibrating instruments “musical or otherwise;”
  • Camera repairs
  • Cleaning jewelry, copy machines, printers, “or other tangible property” including motor vehicles.
  • Removing dents, dings, and scratches from “tangible personal property” including motor vehicles.
  • Restoring or reupholstering furniture.
  • Patching or mending clothes, tires, or any type of inflatable.
  • Sharpening blades
  • Polishing shoes, jewelry, or silver.
  • Troubleshooting fluid leaks or attempting to identify an unusual noise coming from “other tangible personal property, whether or not the source of the leak or noise is located, determined, or resolved.”
  • Troubleshooting prewritten computer software “to determine how to restore to proper working order.”
  • Reupholstering boats
  • Re-string or re-grip tennis rackets, golf clubs, or musical instruments.
  • Tune pianos or other musical instruments
  • Repairing laptops, cell phones, removing viruses/malware, conducting diagnostic tests, or adjusting computer settings.
  • “Tangible personal property may include: clothing alterations; painting tangible personal property; embroidery; screen-printing; window tinting for motor vehicles.”