Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Federal Judge Tells Trump, "You Can't Deny These Troops the Right To Die For Their Country"

Judge Kollar-Kotelly
Federal District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly has blocked Trump's ban on transgender troops. If you're keeping a box score, this is yet another of Trump's unconstitutional orders knocked down by federal judges, including the order limiting travel from Muslim countries and his attempt to punish so-called "sanctuary" cities.

The judge's "strongly worded" opinion pointed out that Trump's new policies likely violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution: “a number of factors — including the sheer breadth of the exclusion ordered by the directives, the unusual circumstances surrounding the President’s announcement of them [he tweeted it out in July, surprising the military], the fact that the reasons given for them do not appear to be supported by any facts, and the recent rejection of those reasons by the military itself — strongly suggest that Plaintiffs’ Fifth Amendment claim is meritorious.”

The plaintiffs? Yes, a group of five transgender women serving in the Coast Guard, Army, and Air Force brought the lawsuit. According to Dave Phillips, "Many of the women had served for years as men and had been deployed to war zones before coming out to commanders when the [transgender] ban was lifted in 2016 [by President Obama]. One is a few years from retirement, according to court documents. Another told her commander she wanted to keep serving, but would resign if the military moved to forcibly discharge her."

Judge Kollar-Kotelly, incidentally, was first appointed to the bench by President Ronald Reagan.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Four Eggers Helped Ashe Co. Sheriff Terry Buchanan Build That Stone Wall

Stacy C. "Four" Eggers
We reported here on October 24 that Ashe County Sheriff Terry Buchanan had been suspended from office and is under indictment for obstruction of justice (et cetera) and that Watauga County attorney Stacy C. "Four" Eggers is in the middle of it as Buchanan's lawyer.

Just how much in the middle is revealed in District Attorney Tom Horner's petition outlining the case against Buchanan (thanks for the link, JS). Four Eggers appears in this petition in a significant way (and you can see for yourself by following that link).

May 12, 2017: Four Eggers announces to the Ashe County IT department that he's been hired by Sheriff Buchanan "to help fulfill" the Public Records Request (PRR) from WBTV and its investigative team led by Nick Ochsner.

(In the meantime, Buchanan carelessly gives his personal cell phone number to the Ashe IT department, then claims it is his wife's cell phone number, and then launches a campaign of public intimidation against county employees trying to fulfill the WBTV PRR. The intimidation actually works.)

June 16, 2017: Upon receipt of partial compliance of its PRR, WBTV wants to know when it will get any production from Sheriff Buchanan's work cell phone (not knowing at that point that Buchanan was also using his personal cell).

June 19, 2017: Ashe County public records custodian Ann Clark responds to WBTV that she's under investigation by the Sheriff's department for trying to fulfill WBTV's PRR.

June 22, 2017: Nick Ochsner sends second PRR directly to Sheriff Buchanan, including in the request any "written communication regarding the Ashe County Sheriff's Office and the Eggers Law Firm."

June 23, 2017: In response, Four Eggers sends "partial production" of PRR to Ochsner. According to District Attorney Horner, "Eggers claimed it to be 'all responsive text messages and email in the possession of Sheriff Buchanan.' Eggers attached the two Public Records Requests, a brief email exchange between Buchanan and [Ashe County] Board [of Commissioners] Chairman William Sands, text messages between Buchanan's work cell phone and [Ashe County] Commissioner Jeff Rose's cell phone, and an invoice from the Eggers Law Firm. The production contained no text messages from Buchanan's personal cell phone. Nevertheless, based on this production, Ochsner learned that Rose had used another phone for public purposes. Like Buchanan, Rose was not providing information requested by the PRR, and the June 23 production by Eggers was the first time that Ochsner learned about Roses's personal cell phone and its use for public purposes." [emphasis added]

June 29, 2017: WBTV points out that Eggers had inadvertently spilled some intriguing beans on June 23rd about Rose's use of a personal cell phone for county business.

June 30 2017: "Eggers sent a response letter to [WBTV's lawyer] on behalf of Buchanan .... The letter contained a log of messages sent and received by Buchanan's work cell phone to Rose's personal cell phone. The provided information contained no content other than the date, time, and phone number information. Eggers represented [that] the message content was redacted due to a personal exemption. Again, Eggers stated that there were no responsive text messages or emails that he was able to locate and that he believed that the data produced on June 23 and June 30 satisfied the PRR for Buchanan. However, the letter contained an attachment of emails between Buchanan and the Eggers Law Firm. Included in the attached emails was an email sent by Buchanan to Eggers on May 31, 2017, where Buchanan requested Eggers to call him on Buchanan's personal cell phone to discuss an issue at the Ashe County Detention Center. Based on this email, Ochsner discovered that Buchanan was using his personal cell phone for official business."

Oops. That awkward moment when you discover that your own lawyer just blew your cover.

June 30, 2017: Ochsner immediately emailed Eggers demanding production of Buchanan's personal cell phone texts.

July 7, 2017: "Eggers responded [to Ochsner] by saying that he had 'overlooked' the request for text message content from Buchanan's personal cell phone. Eggers stated that he had spoken to Buchanan and based on this discussion, 'Buchanan's only text messages about work conducted on his personal phone were with me ... There are no other work related text messages on Sheriff Buchanan's phone."

August 31, 2017: Eggers tells WBTV that he is requesting records for Buchanan's personal cell phone to see if any additional work-related text messages existed despite already certifying to WBTV that everything had been produced.

Sheriff Buchanan, expressing his
contempt for the public records
request from WBTV, on
April 17, 2017, before the Ashe
Co. Commish. Photo Jesse Campbell,
Jefferson Post
October 11, 2017: Eggers tells WBTV some six months after Ochsner's first PRR that he -- Eggers -- has just obtained releases from Buchanan and his wife to acquire Carolina West Wireless records from Buchanan's personal cell phone. Eggers says he has been given "metadata" only -- just the date, time, and recipient of messages -- and that the metadata "contained no communication with the County Commissioners on the county cell phone numbers other than text messages between Buchanan and Rose on Rose's work cell phone number. Eggers then gives an excuse for why the communications between Buchanan and Rose may not be subject to the North Carolina public records laws, despite not having the actual content to the messages in his possession for review. Again, Eggers states, 'I believe that Sheriff Buchanan has complied with the requirements of the public records laws, as he provided all responsive documents within his possession. I'm sorry to get your hopes up that more documents may be forthcoming...."

October 12, 2017: WBTV reminds Eggers of the letter of the law regarding PRRs, that relevant texts on personal devices cannot be legally withheld.

October 12, 2017: Eggers responds, reopening the door a crack about maybe possibly obtaining the actual text messages from Buchanan's personal cell.

October 20, 2017: The "legal compliance analyst" representing Carolina West emails WBTV and Four Eggers that he has released to Four Eggers "the requested text content" from Buchanan's personal cell phone. Those texts never get proffered to WBTV in compliance with the PRR.

October 23, 2017: Nick Ochsner swears an affidavit that to date he has received no compliance to his repeated PRRs from Sheriff Buchanan.

October 23, 2017: The District Attorney seeks and achieves the suspension of Sheriff Buchanan from office along with a six-count indictment against Buchanan for misdemeanors and felonies while in office.

Those personal cell phone text messages are still being withheld, unless the District Attorney has them by now.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Must Be Raining at the Golf Course

Fourth weekend in a row, Trump's at his Virginia resort, but golf's apparently out today -- damn you, National Weather Service! -- so he's inside nursing his grievances and maybe a nice cuppa Ovaltine laced with gall. At least the taxpayers are saving money on rented golf carts for his entourage.

So what's he tweeting? This right here, for just one, which actually contains an uncharacteristic confession on his part:
Where does he get this stuff? Here's the truth (also the motive): Michael Moore, ("Roger and Me," "Bowling for Columbine," "Fahenheit 9/11," etc.), has stepped forward as a sharp Trump critic ("Michael Moore in Trumpland"). His one-man Broadway play, “The Terms of My Surrender,” which bashes Trump good 'n' plenty, was contracted to run as a 12-week limited engagement, and it completed its run, grossing $4.2 million, making it "the highest-grossing non-musical" among plays that opened in the summer, according to Playbill.

Not exactly "a bomb" of any kind, including "a TOTAL BOMB."

Where does he get this shit? Does he just make it up because the universe owes him the revenge, or does he hear something vague from someone that gets BLOWN UP in that "very good brain, a very smart brain" of his into a fantasy scenario in which he's always the winner?

He just grabs some random topic and shits on it (or him, or her). "Sloppy Michael Moore." That's the red meat the fans adore. The juicy red meat. And a needed diversion for Trump himself, probably. He's got to be in suppressed volcano mode today, because of this certain other really bad breaking news: Someone's been indicted by Mueller and will be taken into custody soon.

About 10 a.m. this morning Trump began to pick the scab of Russia and hilariously try to turn the whole collusion thing on Hillary. It's an amazing performance, with a recitation of Hillary's Greatest Hits -- the "Uranium to Russia deal," the 33,000 missing emails, "the Comey fix." He even claims he's never seen such "ANGER & UNITY" among Republicans who are universally demanding a Congressional investigation into the supposed $12 million that Hillary supposedly paid for "the FAKE dossier" (not making any of this up! He actually mentions the Steele dossier).

MEMO to DJT: It's not who paid ever how much for the dossier. It's whether the dossier is true.

I see why head-shrinks might detect a mental tendency in the putative Leader of the Western World, let alone the Man Who Will Make America Great Again, that might be concerning on alternate days, or when the golf is rained out.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

From Russia, With Hillary

1. Fund dossier 2. Say nothing 3. Let Russia steal your emails 4. Lose election 5. Scheme complete!
Jon Favreau is the founder of @CrookedMedia and co-host of @PodSaveAmerica.

Wherein I Push Back Against Mencken

“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
― H.L. Mencken, On Politics: A Carnival of Buncombe (thanks, MM)
Depend on Mencken to take a dim view.

"The plain folks of the land." The very phrase is offensive, reeking of an elitism that Fox News likes to demonize. Mencken's prejudice was not nice, not humane, and extended to religion and democracy itself, so let's just say we read Mencken for the laughs and not for the philosophy.

Plain folks. I come from poor. I come from the heart of the heart of the everlasting soil, from the Panhandle of Texas. I come from working a rich man's land under the supervision of a father who was under the supervision of the rich man. I know from plain.

So I also understand resentment, and the fortifying jolt of lifeforce it can set loose in plain folks who've been disrespected and who suddenly discover a champion who'll fight for them and maybe even smash the system. So, yes, that's how mobs happen.

Plain folks rise up against evolution
in "Inherit the Wind" (1960)
But keep this in mind: a majority of Americans did not elect Trump. A majority of a minority elected Trump. Granted, many of that majority are rural, plain folk Americans, who are a tragic minority of the greater country. The censuses of the United States record an undeniable trend of rural folks re-congregating in urban centers, to become cogs in larger, powerful wheels of industry and commerce. The first census to show the nation tilted slightly to "majority urban" ... 1920, 51%. The census of 2010 = 80% urban.

The rural has become rare. And increasingly a kind of majority public joke, from hillbilly clowns in early string bands to every clodhopper, rube, and hick to show up in sit-coms -- to reality show deep-dives into the weirdest and most grotesque displays of the rural "booboisie" (another Mencken sneer) that TV show producers can think up. "Buckwild," anyone?

But the plain folks I grew up with, and who I still know, are what you'd call "sweet people," at heart community-oriented and good-hearted and respectful of others, and who instinctively recognize injustice and who will eventually and inevitably sniff out even the most accomplished snake oil salesman, those guys who've always rolled into town promising long life and prosperity for just a measly buck.

Friday, October 27, 2017

We Double-Dog Dare You

“Lindsey Graham knows better. Deep in his heart, he must know that Donald Trump is fundamentally unfit to be president, and he has to pretend that Trump is. And when you engage in a game like that, there’s often a cost to it.”
--Peter Wehner, advisor to former President George W. Bush
You may not have noticed that the tart-tongued Senator Graham of South Carolina, who actually ran against Trump in the primary of 2016, has decided to transform himself into "the Trump whisperer" (according to the NYTimes). Graham says he hears from Trump regularly on his cell phone.

And Graham is pretty up-front about his motives: “He’s very popular in my state. When I help him, it helps me back home. And I think it probably helps him to be able to do business with an old rival who’s seen as a deal maker .... I’m going to try to stay in a position where I can have input to the president. I can help him where I can, and he will call me up and pick my brain. Now, if you’re a United States senator, that’s a good place to find yourself.”

Until it isn't a good place, until it turns into a scorching vast tundra of recriminations, insults, and Twitter tantrums.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Small Ray of Hope for Fair General Assembly Districts

Posted by Melissa Boughton on Progressive Pulse:
A federal three-judge panel has ordered that a special master review and possibly redraw two state Senate and seven state House districts in a recent racial gerrymandering case.
In an order released Thursday afternoon, the panel wrote that their review of lawmakers’ remedial maps in North Carolina v. Covington and subsequent objections and argument led to concern that those districts “either fail to remedy the identified constitutional violation or are otherwise legally unacceptable.”
The Senate districts are 21, in Hoke County, and 28, in Guilford County. The House districts are 21, in Sampson and Wayne counties, 36, 37, 40, 41, in Wake County, 57, in Guilford County and 105 in Mecklenburg County.
The court has appointed Stanford Law School Professor Nathaniel Persily as special master. He has served previously as a court-appointed redistricting expert in a number of states, including New York, Maryland, Georgia, Connecticut and Puerto Rico.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

By Order of the Court

BREAKING: Court Lifts Stay on ASU Student Union Early Voting

The Bill Aceto/Nathan Miller gambit to shut down Early Voting in the ASU Student Union once again has failed in the NC Court of Appeals.

Early Voting will open in the Student Union tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. and will run every weekday through November 3, from 10 - 5.

Brisson Makes It Official: "I'm a Freakin' Republican!"

William Brisson, nominal NC House Democrat from Bladen County who has made a career of voting for the most noxious Republican bills, has formally switched parties.

Brisson famously supported HB2, which did so much positive good for our state.

Brisson voted for the monstrous voter photo ID bill, which did so much positive good for ballot access and has been thrown out as unconstitutional.

Brisson has felt very cosy with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the corporate author of so much of the legislation that Brisson liked to vote for in Raleigh.

Brisson achieved fame as one of "The Five Goobers" in the NC House for voting for Republican budgets and then voting to override Governor Beverly Perdue's veto.

Don't let the door hit you!

Yes, We're Tired of So Much Winning!

Vice President Mike Pence broke a 50-50 tie in the US Senate last night to deny bank and credit card customers the ability to band together in class action lawsuits against Wall Street banks and credit card companies that rip them off.

They say that Trump will sign the bill immediately, probably with a brass band and marching elephants to celebrate getting to sign something, anything, despite how badly it hurts the consuming public. He won't know what's actually in the bill and how it hurts regular, non-billionaire type people, but then, he also won't care.

So who were the two Republicans who forced the tie-breaker? Surprise! Not Bob Corker and not Jeff Flake and not Susan Collins and not John McCain and not Lisa Murkowski. They all voted for it. The two defecting Republicans were Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John Kennedy of Louisiana.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Times of London

Four Eggers Is in the Middle of the Scandal Swirling Around the Ashe County Sheriff

Sheriff Terry Buchanan
Ashe County's Sheriff Terry Buchanan, who was just appointed to his post last January, has been suspended from office and is under indictment for three felonies and three misdemeanors involving his attempt to resist a public records request from the WBTV investigative unit and to cover up what passed between him and the three county commissioners who appointed him to office.

This scandal has been building since last April when WBTV filed a public records request for text messages and emails that passed between Buchanan and the commissioners leading up to his appointment. WBTV submitted a second request in July for additional communications between Buchanan and county commissioner Jeff Rose. Rose promptly lawyered up and refused to release his text messages. The lawyer Rose hired, Ben Hurley, just happens to be a business partner of county attorney, John Kilby.

Meanwhile, the attorney that Sheriff Buchanan hired was being paid out of county money without commissioner approval. Who is that attorney? Why, none other that Stacy C. Eggers IV, the redoubtable "Four" Eggers.

Four Eggers
According to WBTV reporter Nick Ochsner, "It is not clear what the scope of Eggers work for Buchanan is—whether he is representing the sheriff in his individual capacity as sheriff or doing work for the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office—nor what rate taxpayers are paying for Eggers’ services because there is not a contract or engagement letter outlining the legal arrangement, which is standard when attorneys are hired for legal services."

WBTV complained in July that "to date [July 7], the county has withheld text messages sent and received from the personal cell phones of Rose and Buchanan; certain text messages redacted by county commissioners without explanation; and certain emails and email attachments that were withheld with little or no explanation."

The cover-up had begun to get felonious as early as June. Sheriff Buchanan instructed his deputies to "investigate" (intimidate) three county employees who were attempting to fulfill the WBTV records request, principally Ann Clark, who serves as the public records custodian and clerk to the board of commissioners, and two employees of the county's IT department. Assisting the sheriff in this assault on county employees was chief deputy Rick Clayton.

The grand jury, not surprisingly, found the intimidation a clear case of obstruction of justice. (You may read the indictments here.)

Monday, October 23, 2017

Well Dayum! Democrat Doug Jones Is Running as a (Gulp!) Democrat in Alabama

Doug Jones, who's up against Republican mad bomber Roy Moore in the Alabama special election to replace Jeff Sessions in the US Senate, is not concealing his core philosophy, is not trimming his sails on abortion rights or climate change, is not trying to seem "Republican lite" or "focus-grouped" or mamby-pamby. He's standing up for his convictions, come what may.

Recent polling seems to suggest that people -- even people in Alabama -- like a Democrat who isn't ashamed to be a Democrat. The last poll we've seen -- by Fox News, no less -- has Jones and Moore tied.

Running as a Democrat in deep-red Alabama ought to be the kiss of death under normal circumstances. Circumstances ain't normal. Roy Moore ain't normal. He offends plenty of moderate, country-club Republicans (who, just incidentally, often want their teenage girls to have access to abortion and sometimes need it), and Jones has a reputation as a stand-up prosecutor who's also not a loon and probably won't embarrass the state.

Go down swinging, Mr. Jones! Or if you don't go down, or if you even come close, you've shown the way potentially to others who've been afraid.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Good Grief?

News came out yesterday in Roll Call that "in the hours after President Donald Trump said on an Oct. 17 radio broadcast that he had contacted nearly every family that had lost a military servicemember this year, the White House was hustling to learn from the Pentagon the identities and contact information for those families."

That's called back-filling to protect your backside.

News this morning: reporters for The Atlantic talked to "multiple families who received expressed-shipped UPS packages from the White House on October 20th (Friday), which had been shipped on the 18th."

(Another attack on "fake news" in four, three, two…. and on "failing magazines" like The Atlantic.)

Oh, so what! you shout. He's doing it, ain't he? He's performing presidential duties. The rent's paid, even if it's late. That's what Judge Judy says. So lay off!

Yes, and I didn't want to touch this week's main entrée of Gold Star Families served up for gawking partisans everywhere. Didn't want to write about it, because there's just too much pain all around, including the pain Mr. Trump may have felt if he realized he handled that call to Myeshia Johnson poorly -- didn't know La David's name, was afraid to pronounce the wife's name, and said something about "he knew what he signed up for" in such a way that it was instantly taken very wrongly and very badly.

Yes, I was prepared to cut Trump some slack. Everybody has trouble with those condolence calls to soldier's families. Anybody would. But Trump is special, as we know. He lacks empathy and can't fake it. Plus -- plus -- he was on speakerphone to an audience of women already primed to hate his guts, including a partisan member of the US Congress perfectly capable of exploiting the available politics. So I discounted the congresswoman's spin on what Trump supposedly said.

Then came General John Kelly. God! If he'd only stopped talking before he got to insulting Congresswoman Frederica Wilson! If he'd only stopped before he got to "we've lost what used to be sacred…."

Wilson had made herself a spectacle of condemnation. That's on her, General. Don't splash that puddle! But Kelly stomped and up splashed made-up stuff about what the Congresswoman had supposedly said and could be blamed for, along with a personal insult -- "empty barrel" -- that was just downright mean.

That a woman, that a black woman, would twist the intent of Trump's call and, worse, would eavesdrop on a private conversation … why, it's worthy of nuclear counter-strike. (Nevermind that it was Myeshia who put the call on speakerphone, because at that moment she was in a limousine on her way to pick up her husband's returned body, along with La David's mother and Congresswoman Wilson. "It's the President!" We must all listen!)

Subsequently discovered videotape proved that what John Kelly said about Wilson was faulty memory of a public event at which the Congresswoman spoke, very self-servingly, according to General Kelly. He was stunned, stunned, by her behavior back then, he emphasized, and is more stunned by her now.

We're pretty stunned by General Kelly. We're beginning to believe Josh Marshall's explanation that Trump is poison and poisons everything and everyone he touches.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Steve Bannon v. Karl Rove in the NC 9th District

Karl Rove -- so he's still a thing! -- is fundraising for incumbent US Congressman Robert Pittenger. I think we knew that already but had stifled a yawn in its general direction. But then this: Chaos King Steve Bannon has now come out for Pittenger's holy primary challenger, Rev. Mark Harris, whom Pittenger managed to beat in the primary of 2016 by a mere 134 votes.

Karl Rove may have inadvertently invited Bannon into the 9th District primary. Oops. Rove published a tart take-down of Bannon for meddling in Senate Republican primaries, and Bannon responded within hours by expanding his war on the Republican establishment to the Pittenger House seat, probably because Pittenger is one of Rove's pet projects. Take that, Turd Blossom!

Karl Rove is one of the higher profile Republican establishment figures who has consistently criticized Trump as an imploding star who's going to create a sucking black hole for many Republican office-holders. Rove famously said of Trump last June in the Wall Street Journal -- his organ of choice, wherein he also blasted Bannon last Thursday -- "His chronic impulsiveness is apparently unstoppable and clearly self-defeating. Mr. Trump may have mastered the modes of communication, but not the substance, thereby sabotaging his own agenda."

Dan McCready
Rove also said this: "Mr. Trump has figured out how to tweet his way around the mainstream media. Yet by disregarding basic fact checking, he is deepening the already considerable doubts Americans have about his competence and trustworthiness."

Meanwhile, Rev. Mark Harris, who can pound the living hell out of any Bible you give him, has out-raised the incumbent Pittenger. But also know this: the likely Democratic challenger in the 9th District, former Marine Dan McCready, has out-raised both of them, reporting $416,000 for the quarter and bringing his total to $875,000 for the year.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch

Jeff Danziger, Washington Post Writers and Cartoonist Group

Matt Davies, Newsday and Andrews McMeel Syndicate

Trump Brags About His Expensive Paintings, But At Least Two of Them Are Fake

In Trump's penthouse apartment in Trump Tower
Trump likes to brag to visitors about his "original Renoirs." The one pictured above, "La Loge" (The Theaterbox) is a fake. The original hangs at the Courtauld Art Institute in London.

Also a fake ... (below) Renoir's "Two Sisters (on the Terrace)," which the camera for a 60 Minutes interview after the election last November caught sight of over Trump's shoulder. The actual original painting has been hanging at the Art Institute of Chicago since 1933.

Trump apparently tells everyone that they're originals, "worth millions." When Trump told New York Times business reporter Timothy O’Brien that it was genuine, O'Brien ventured the truth: "Donald, it's not. I grew up in Chicago, that Renoir is called Two Sisters (on the Terrace), and it's hanging on a wall at the Art Institute of Chicago. That's not an original."

Back the very next day to continue his interview with Trump, O'Brien said that Trump repeated the lie. "Trump pointed out the painting again, as though [our] conversation had never happened."

"He believes his own lies, in a way that lasts for decades," O'Brien recently said on a Vanity Fair podcast.

He believes his own lies. That pretty much sums up the Trump we've all come to know. It's as plain as that Picasso original hanging over my computer table.

Melania in the penthouse with the other fake Renoir

Thursday, October 19, 2017

More Cabbage Worms Than Cabbage Leaves

Nathan Miller
Watauga GOP officer and attorney Nathan Miller brags in the Watauga Democrat that he and Bill Aceto just love "the rule of law" all to pieces, which they have been self-righteously and vigorously exercising to prevent college students from voting in Watauga County. It's not the rule of law, scolds Miller, when Stella Anderson fights back in court, and it's especially a miscarriage when some judge or judges agree with her.

It's "the rule of law" when the mechanisms of government can be turned against the citizens, or against some of the citizens, to prohibit them from voting -- like the removal of polling places. That was a local innovation. Or like the recent state-wide new rule demanding a government-issued photo ID to vote ... any government-issued ID will do but not a state university photo ID (just by the way). ("Rule of law"? A state university is a governmental institution, but to the Republicans who thought up the ID law, now shelved as unconstitutional, a state university evidently doesn't have nearly enough guns and Bibles to qualify those 18-to-25-year-olds as "citizens.")

For Miller and Aceto, it's jungle law when the livestock fight back. And simply unacceptable when judges agree with the livestock!

So the NCGOP has decided that judges must become partisan bots. They passed a law to make judges run by partisan label, the only state in the Union since 1921 to force judges into partisan elections. Judges must wear either red or blue robes and rally to their designated colors.

They're also redistricting all judicial districts, down to superior court and district courts, and just incidentally (purely by accident, I'm sure!) effectively eliminating half of the black judges in the state by "double-bunking" them so they have to run against each other. (Almost half of those "double-bunked" black judges are women.)

Andrew Cox, The Appalachian
What else? They've over-ridden Governor Cooper's veto of a new law that simply eliminates judicial primaries and makes it easier for unaffiliated candidates to file. Seconds after overriding that veto, Republicans introduced Senate Bill 698 which calls for a statewide referendum on a proposed constitutional amendment reducing the term of every Supreme Court justice, Court of Appeals judge, Superior Court judge, and District Court judge to two years. Judges will perforce become perpetual candidates for office and partisans to boot, jockeying to please their bases.

And get this: Senate Bill 698 would set the referendum for the May 2018 primary, when turn-out will be guaranteed low, not for November 2018 when turn-out will be much higher. (That's how the Republicans passed the constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage too.)

Nathan Miller, that lover of the rule of law, is a mere local symptom of a wider Republican virus that must seize power to stay alive, and pass laws to make the seizures legal.