Thursday, November 30, 2017

“Hey, look, I’m president. I don’t care. I don’t care anymore.”

Above, what Trump said in Missouri yesterday, touting the wonderfulness of the Republican tax plan, which he's obviously neither read nor understands. He kept claiming among other things that he personally will not benefit from the tax bill, which it not at all true. Trump will benefit personally, exactly how much depends on what his tax returns show, and you know about those missing documents.

"I don't care anymore." Translation: I don't give a flying fuck what anybody thinks about anything, because that don't-give-a-shit attitude is what my followers love the most, and it's my impression that so long as I'm a complete and total jerk, an unleashed racist, a bullying braggart, I'll be swathed in gold and sit in power forever.

Did I say he doesn't know what's in the tax bill, or else -- another likelihood -- he just likes lying to puff himself up -- but he's continuing to peddle such complete horseshit about how wonderful his tax "reform" is going to be for the little people, when it's not going to be wonderful at all, and the pittance the Republican "reformers" in Congress are willing to front-load for some of the poor and the middle class in lower taxes will all be taken away in a few years while tax cuts for the rich are made permanent.

It's Trump Trickle-Down. Corporate taxes and taxes on the already filthy rich -- slashed, on the presumption that when people in penthouses get relief, the benefits flow down to basement tenements. Are you going to buy that thoroughly disproved theory once again?

Odds for Doug Jones Just Went Up in Alabama

Marine Col. Lee Busby (Ret.) has launched a full-on write-in campaign for the Senate seat in Alabama, hoping to stop Roy Moore from ever getting to Washington. Don't know what his candidacy looks like on the ground in Alabama -- local Alabama coverage at the moment is mainly reprints and replays of national political media), but he's already nationally famous. He did an appearance on Morning Joe a couple of days ago, an interview on NPR this morning, and he's been written up in the Washington Post, The Daily Beast, RealClearPolitics, and probably elsewhere.

Fox News. 
Busby is a conservative Republican. He says he'd vote for the Senate tax bill even though he knows he'll never have that opportunity (because it'll be done with by the time there's a new Alabama senator sworn in). Busby has no formal campaign structure or even a working website "as of Monday morning" (WashingtonPost). He told the Post he is "counting on social media to spread the word" (and here we are, reporting for duty).

According to James LaPorta, "Busby has been the CEO of his own business and worked as a defense consultant and investment banker. At the same time, Busby has been honoring fallen Marines with sculptures" (like the one in the foreground of the photo to the left).

That's an admirable thing to do.

Most interesting: Busby not only voted for Trump. He was current White House Chief of Staff John Kelly's vice chief of staff in Iraq.

Policy positions (other than support for the Trump tax law)? Against abortion (check!). Repeal Obamacare (check!). Voted for John Kasich in the 2016 Republican presidential primary (hmmm). But that's it. That's all the policy issues Busby has so far shared with the public, though there's this:

With the Washington Post, he used military strategy to explain his politics: "The left flank and the right flank are heavily guarded. I think that gives you an opportunity to run straight up the middle.” On the basis of that, the Post suggested he was therefore "centrist."

That may be correct. Despite his doctrinaire right wing positions on abortion and monetary policy, he attended a Doug Jones fundraiser early on, to check out the Democrat in the race (so he's open-minded or at least curious), but decided Jones was not "appealing." Meanwhile -- and perhaps the explanation for why he attended that Democratic fundraiser -- Busby has been unimpressed with Roy Moore, a zero in Busby's view, even without all the sexual accusations.

So what's a cigar-chomping Marine to do if both the Republican and the Democrat fail to measure up?

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Breath You Save Could Be Your Last

When are otherwise intelligent people going to stop telling Trump he should be ashamed of himself?

Trump is incapable of shame, or regret, or humility, or repentance, or modesty, or basic human decency.

Stop telling him he ought to be ashamed.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

They Whom the Gods Would Destroy They First Make Proud

The results in Chesterfield are also a potential harbinger of what looms beyond Virginia, in suburbs where anger toward Trump is motivating voters bent on defeating Republican candidates in next year’s midterm elections.

--Paul Schwartzman
You might want to read Schwartzman's in-depth profile of Chesterfield County -- Virginia's third most populous, consisting mainly of Richmond's southern suburbs -- and why (or how) it went Democratic on November 7th for the first time in 61 years.

Powerful energies sparked by the surprise election in 2016 of an unqualified huckster, awakening a political complacency to rise up and assert itself in 2017. There ain't no better story anywhere for what it portends for 2018.

Volunteers came out of the woodwork in Chesterfield. Collectively, they reached out either by phone or by door-knock to over 50,000 voters on behalf of Democratic candidate for governor Ralph Northam and the rest of the Democratic slate; they staffed with poll greeters all 75 polling sites in Chesterfield County, the first time in living memory that they had the volunteer workforce to pull it off.

That kind of energy, and the organization behind it, is what is prompting so many premature retirements among the Republican gospel choir.

Blind Justice the North Carolina Way

North Carolina judges -- District Court judges, Superior Court judges, Judges on the North Carolina Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court -- all of them are currently political targets. General Assembly Republicans are fucking with them big time.

Why are Republican bosses mad at judges? Because North Carolina judges have found so many of their laws (mainly power-grabs) unconstitutional. Simple as that. When judges find your ambitions out of line, what do you do? Change your ambitions? Or change the fucking judges. Make them work for partisan approval. Put them in your pocket.

Phil Berger, your office is calling.

Berger and his colleagues want to redistrict judicial seats -- ah, the magic of creative gerrymandering! -- thus double-bunking an impressive kill list (Susan Ladd):

district court judges  25% of them double-bunked, including 43% of all black or African-American district court judges and 31% of female district court judges.

superior court judges 27% of current judges double-bunked, including 18% of black or African-American superior court judges and 32% of females.

You know what double-bunking is, right? Political Thunder Dome for People We Can Do Without: two judges enter, one judge leaves. Guaranteed to deliver, at one stroke, 12.5% fewer district court judges and 13.5% fewer superior court judges, with no political effort whatsoever. Just draw them into oblivion with lines on a map. (100% of Hispanic female judges are double-bunked, by the way, all one of her.)

Plus the Republicans also want to make judges run for reelection every two years under partisan banners. Can you imagine? Every two years, all judges in a free-for-all election, with no primaries, meaning possibly dozens of competing names on a General Election partisan ballot -- my God are they kidding?

Kidding no. Bulldozing yes.

Berger's real goal is getting to appoint the judiciary himself. (Brief but important footnote: he already got his boy Phil Berger Junior on the NC Court of Appeals, so you can recognize the itch.) Berger wants to change the state's Constitution to eliminate elections for judges altogether, make them all appointed by a "merit" system, run, just incidentally, by Berger et al. in the General Assembly. Not making this up.

Susan Ladd suggests that we'll know something more definite in January, after the General Assembly reconvenes and Phil Berger tells them what they're gonna do. Put a constitutional amendment on the ballot this coming May to change the way judges get onto the bench? It'll be May, because turnout is guaranteed to be way down for a May primary, and maybe you can sneak something highly questionable through. That's how they did Amendment One, their infamous constitutional amendment to outlaw gay marriage -- put it on a May primary ballot, and it passed.

Meanwhile, On the Judicial Front in Watauga County...

The Watauga County Republican Party continues to distinguish itself as a black frost over the very concept of a free election. Without entering any Republican candidates in Boone town elections on November 7, they nevertheless fought through several levels of court to try to keep an Early Voting polling place out of the ASU student union. That failed, utterly, and they're now using that failure -- the length of time it took to adjudicate the issue -- as
the basis for a brand new escalation: Early Voting at ASU was illegal, says the "Election Protest" signed by Anne Marie Yates, and therefore the elections must be done over, because there wasn't sufficient notice to the public (minimum of 20 days by statute) following the judge's rejection of the Republican argument that there should be no Early Voting in the ASU Student Union. Here's the logic, if I'm following it: First, Republicans blockade Early Voting at the student union to the full extent of their legal rights, and when that blockade finally crumbles, they argue that the judge had no right to the order he made because the calendar had run out on proper public notice. Run out the calendar on justice and you can tie the hands of judges in adjudicating the rights of the people. That's the argument Yates's lawyer Nathan Miller is making. No kidding.

The judge had no right. That's the common thread of this post.

Anne Marie Yates's suit would nullify all municipal elections in Watauga County -- not just in Boone but Blowing Rock too, and Seven Devils and Beech Mountain.

Why are they doing this? What do they hope to gain? Just the pleasure of pulling down the temple?

Saturday, November 25, 2017

A Rising Tide Can Sink Boats, Too

I'm going for another metaphor altogether: Republican retirements from the North Carolina General Assembly are beginning to pile up like cordwood before a hard winter, with more to come.

Most recent: Susan Martin of Wilson, a three-term member of Republican leadership in the NC House. Her redrawn district -- redrawn by the Republicans under court order -- became harder to win, they say, "more Democratic" (Carter Wrenn, quoted by Laura Leslie).

Martin had a near-death experience in her last reelection in 2016, beating her Democratic male opponent by a mere 163 votes. (What's going on with Martin in Wilson and Pitt counties?) So late 2017 turned out to look pretty good for announcing your retirement, if you were Susan Martin.

In the NC Senate, Cathy Dunn (Davidson) announced she wouldn't run again. Health, they say.

Laura Leslie mentioned others headed for the exits, some of them double-bunked with other Republicans by the most recent court-ordered redistricting, and some of them surprising retirements. Senator Ron Rabin of Harnett County is bowing out, after easily winning reelection in 2016. Wake County's Senator Chad Barefoot got "double-bunked" with Republican Senator John Alexander. Barefoot didn't want to be in a Republican primary in 2018. He opted out.

Barefoot was an active and successful legislator, at least until the courts threw out his redistricting laws for Wake County (and Wake County alone), redrawing lines on maps to make it possible for Republicans to reassert themselves on School Board and County Commission after losing control of both. Both his redistricting laws were ruled unconstitutional in the courts. Barefoot has a famous flying-wedge mother-in-law: Tami Fitzgerald, lobbyist for "Republican family values."

Senator Bill Cook of Beaufort County ... out the door, and careful not to let it hit him. He was double-bunked with an incumbent Democratic woman, with the district already trending decidedly Democratic.

Senator Tommy Tucker of Union County, who ran unopposed in the general elections of 2012, 2014, and 2016, will not run again. He's somewhat famous for a hot temper. But he'd risen to be the top Republican tax-policy writer in the General Assembly and had only served four terms. Did he see the distant water grow closer? Did he taste something metallic on the rising breeze?

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Have a Hearty Thanksgiving, Texas! Here's Your Turkey

Give a man vast political power and a computer, he'll get himself into trouble every time:
"The woman described encounters and contact spanning a five-year period that began online after she posted a message on [Texas Representative Joe] Barton’s Facebook page in 2011, leading to the sexually explicit exchanges and ultimately a pair of physical sexual encounters in Washington and Texas. Over time, she said, she became aware of and corresponded with multiple other women who engaged in relationships with Barton, who represents a suburban Dallas district and is one of the most senior Republicans in the House....
"In the 2015 phone call, Barton confronted the woman over her communications with the other women, including her decision to share explicit materials he had sent. In that context, he mentioned the Capitol Police, a comment the woman interpreted as an attempt to intimidate her.
“ 'I want your word that this ends,' he said, according to the recording, adding: 'I will be completely straight with you. I am ready if I have to, I don’t want to, but I should take all this crap to the Capitol Hill Police and have them launch an investigation. And if I do that, that hurts me potentially big time.'
“ 'Why would you even say that to me?' the woman responded. 'The Capitol Hill police? And what would you tell them, sir?'
"Said Barton: 'I would tell them that I had a three-year undercover relationship with you over the Internet that was heavily sexual and that I had met you twice while married and had sex with you on two different occasions and that I exchanged inappropriate photographs and videos with you that I wouldn’t like to be seen made public, that you still apparently had all of those and were in position to use them in a way that would negatively affect my career. That’s the truth.' ”
Mike DeBonis and Elise Viebeck, "Congressman on tape tells woman he would report her to Capitol Police because she could expose his secret sex life"

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Those Masters of "Branding"

That stain on the South Dakota landscape is the Keystone Pipeline
spill of over 200,000 gallons of oil

Thank you, Secretary Mnuchin, for your service, and
Mrs Mnuchin, for your duck face 

Our all-time favorite self-branding moment
from the first year of The End of Decency

"Suffer little children to come unto me"

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

BREAKING NEWS: Nathan Miller/Anne Marie Yates Intend to Appeal Watauga BOE's Vote Yesterday

File this one under "Lengths To Which They're Willing To Go."

Anne Marie Yates's lawyer Nathan Miller has informed the Watauga Board of Elections that he will be appealing the BOE's unanimous rejection of Yates's election protest and her demand for new municipal elections in Watauga.

The appeal must go to the State Board of Elections, which currently does not exist. If the Yates-Miller team are willing to appeal to a non-existent board after losing the vote of Bill Aceto locally, then they're no doubt quite willing to sue in the Wake County Superior Court.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Virginia Foxx and Her Republican Pals Have Shown Their True Colors

The TV ad below -- aimed specifically at the vote of a Maine Republican on the hose-the-middle-class tax plan recently passed in the US House -- is about to be duplicated in some 25 Republican House districts with large numbers of white voters who had previously voted for Obama but who opted for Trump in 2016.

The ad probably won't be shown in Foxx's 5th Congressional District, though it ought to be.

The ad was created and paid for by Not One Penny, "a campaign launched by progressive groups to oppose all tax cuts for millionaires, billionaires, and big corporations."
The ad hits two messages: GOP changes to the tax code are enormously regressive, showering most of their benefits on the wealthy while giving crumbs to working- and middle-class Americans (or even raising their taxes). These tax cuts will necessitate big cuts to the safety net later — the ad references $25 billion in Medicare cuts that could be triggered by the GOP plan’s deficit busting — further compounding the GOP agenda’s regressiveness down the line.

BREAKING: Watauga BOE Rejects the Republican Election Protest

This morning and on the motion made by Chair Bill Aceto, the Watauga Board of Elections voted unanimously to reject the elections protest filed by Anne Marie Yates and Nathan Miller.

Once the decision is signed (later today?), the Yates-Miller team will have 24 hours to give notice to the BOE if they intend to appeal.

With the unanimous vote this morning, a successful appeal becomes more remote, but motivated by a cabbage worm's desire to ruin the whole cabbage, Yates-Miller may appeal anyway.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

If You're a Republican Governor, You'd Be a Fool To Ignore the Early Warnings

"Are you ready for more Trump in 2018,"
VP Mike Pence asks Republican governors
gathered in Austin
The very recent gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey, not to mention the revolt of Republican suburbs everywhere, seems to have caught the attention of members of the Republican Governors Association. Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns published leaked behind-the-scenes info from the recent meeting of the guvs in Austin, and it makes for fun reading.

But first, some hard facts. In 2018, these are the states with retiring or term-limited incumbent Republican governors. In other words, these will be open seats:
New Mexico
South Dakota
In 2018, these states have Republican incumbents who are eligible for re-election (and coincidentally, just as eligible for defeat):
New Hampshire
South Carolina
By my count that's some 26 governorships the Republicans have to run for with their president under water with the public. Hence, the big question in Austin among the state executives, according to Martin and Burns -- "Do we Trump, or do we not Trump?"

"A sense of foreboding hung over the group’s gathering" as governors contemplated having that punctured parade float into their states to campaign for them or for their anointed replacements. Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee says no definitely not (and he might have added, "I told you so," because he didn't vote for Trump last fall): “I do think Virginia was a wake-up call. There’s a pretty strong message there. When Republicans lose white married women, that’s a strong message.”

An unspecified but apparently significant number of Republican governors "from agricultural and auto-producing states" warned that Trump's bombing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) could/would hurt Republican chances in their states.

Another smart warning, based on the dismal failure of Republican Ed Gillespie in Virginia: You can't (as in cannot) embrace Trump’s divisive messages on immigration, crime, and Confederate “heritage” but dance around whether you actually support Trump. Trumpism without Trump does not work.

“You can’t be halfway in and halfway out,” said Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi.

Gov. Haslam: “If you try to wear somebody else’s clothes, they never fit."

Gov. Paul LePage, the wannabe Donald Trump of Maine and a fierce supporter of the prez, was one of the few governors who would say publicly that Republicans should “absolutely” stump with the president in 2018. “He is the leader of our country. He is the leader of our country, and we should respect our leader.”

Vice President Mike Pence came down to Austin to represent Trump and pump up support for him. He got "restrained applause from a lobbyist-heavy audience." Later, "he used a private meeting with the governors on Wednesday to tell them that the White House stood ready to help their campaigns, according to Republican officials who were in the room and who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal private conversations."

Gee, thanks. But on second thought, no thanks.

Gov. Gary Hogan of Maryland and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin "candidly told Mr. Pence that they hoped the administration would prove collaborative and respect the wishes of governors who want Mr. Trump to stay away."

Watauga GOP Attempts To Nullify Municipal Elections

At 10 a.m. tomorrow morning (November 20), the Watauga Board of Elections (BOE) will conduct a preliminary finding of fact in response to Nathan Miller and Anne Marie Yates's election protest. The Miller-Yates team is asking for new elections because The Watauga Board of Elections did not sufficiently advertise the places for Early Voting.

Miller is vice chair of the Watauga Republican Party. Yates has been nominated to take a Republican seat on the Watauga BOE. They're leading the Watauga GOP in this action (and have a track record of harassment behind them: this and this).

My Own Findings of Fact

1. Voting was up in Boone in 2017 above 2015 -- 2,910 total votes in Boone Town Council races in 2015 versus 4,212 in 2017. Looks like people knew there was an election. And where to go.

2. It was the other Republican team of Nathan Miller-Bill Aceto that delayed announcement. Because Bill Aceto refused to approve the inevitable polling place inside the ASU Student Union -- the BOE vote was 2-1, with Aceto in the minority -- he then took his objection in a lawsuit to Wake Superior Court, and when that court thrashed Miller for the effort -- waving the Judge Donald Stephens order from 2014 in his face -- Miller-Aceto stomped off to the NC Court of Appeals and talked them into a temporary stay, which is not all that difficult and which was not lifted (inevitably) until the eve of Early Voting.

3. So do I have this right? Watauga Republicans block and delay the setting of Early Vote polling places until the courts order them at the last minute and then file to nullify the election because polling places weren't set early enough. Cool!

4. The Republican Party fielded no candidates in Boone in either 2015 or this year. Do they suddenly have some hot candidates they want to run in a re-do?

5. Or are they the termites eating the shelter?

6. Any action by the Watauga BOE tomorrow -- either finding just cause to nullify the election and call a new one or finding no just cause -- either one will take a unanimous vote. Aceto's with Miller, so you do the math.

7. What happens if there is no unanimous vote? Miller-Aceto can appeal to the State Board of Elections (SBOE), but the SBOE doesn't currently exist (thanks to monkeying with the law by Republicans in the General Assembly and the subsequent blocking court order), and the SBOE staff has limited power.

8. If also stymied at the SBOE, Miller-Aceto can always appeal to Wake County Superior Court. We'd almost pay money to attend that hearing.

Friday, November 17, 2017


Braxton Winston. Photo by Chuck Burton/AP
Braxton Winston is part of the wave of new, diverse talent taking public office for the first time after the recent round of elections. Winston just won a seat on the Charlotte City Council.

That's just the most recent chapter of his story. Winston was born in North Carolina into a military family, was recruited by Davidson College to play football, earned a degree in anthropology, coaches football part time at Providence Day School, and became an accidental but powerful symbol for Black Lives Matter in Charlotte following the September 20, 2016, police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. That killing prompted several days of street protests. A chance photograph of Winston by the Charlotte Observer’s Jeff Siner went viral (see below) and catapulted Winston into the fame that comes of courage. He's 33 years old.

Asked if Braxton Winston had been a student activist at Davidson College, his favorite anthropology professor said, “I’m not saying that Braxton wasn’t ‘woke’ during his college years, but he wasn’t in leadership in social justice.”

If you don't know what "woke" means, try this (and scroll down).

So on September 20, 2016, Winston was on his way home after coaching a middle school football game. He was driving Old Concord Road past the Village at College Downs apartments, where a ruction was going on. An angry crowd was gathering the way a crowd gathers after a shooting, and Winston pulled over to find out what it was.

Winston actually makes his living as a cameraman -- videographer -- who films home games for the Charlotte Hornets as an independent contractor. He began live-streaming the aftermath of the Keith Lamont Scott shooting to his Facebook page.

A Charlotte cop on the scene told Winston to leave. Winston didn't, and the cop left him alone. Perhaps because she/he already knew Winston as a good man from a previous incident. In November 2015, Winston called the cops to help a Hispanic woman being severely beaten by her husband. There was a big commotion, involving neighbors and a little boy running around crying. Winston grabbed up and hugged the boy to him. With his mother going to the hospital and his father to jail, the little boy didn’t want to leave Braxton's arms, "so Braxton went with us to the hospital. He stayed the whole night, trying to make sure the little boy was OK as he clung onto Braxton...” (according to CharlotteMeck PD Officer Shannon Finis).

About a year after that incident, one of the same cops who had seen Winston act heroically with the little boy encountered Winston again, at the Keith Lamont Scott shooting on Old Concord Road. The neighborhood was stirred up, the cops were getting questions they either couldn't answer or wouldn't, and more people were arriving by the minute. Braxton Winston had his iPhone camera. And what his camera saw woke him.

Student reporters for The Davidsonian, after several interviews, concluded this: "Winston had never been involved in any protest movement. He thought of tear-gas or potential injury as 'the price I got to pay to speak up on behalf of my children, [on] behalf of myself, and [on] behalf of what I believe in and what the world should look like.' ”

According to Olivia Daniels and AJ Naddaff, "tension between police and civilians escalated. Winston removed his shirt to cover his mouth from tear gas. He approached a line of police in riot gear and thrust his fist in the air in an act of civil disobedience." Jeff Siner took his picture.

Jeff Siner, Charlotte Observer

Read more here:

The very next night and still on the street, Winston’s video caught the sound of a pop and the sight of spattered blood -- the police shooting of protester Justin Carr.

Later, after things died down, Winston became a community spokesman, first calling for the resignation of CharlotteMeckPD Chief Kerr Putney and then meeting face-to-face with him and apparently reaching an understanding that there had to be a change in methods for interacting with segments of Charlotte that feel over-policed and under-served.

Read more here:
When eventually the police officer who killed Keith Lamont Scott was exonerated because department policy leans way over backward to absolve the government from responsibility when the police kill people without due process, Braxton Winston acknowledged that police followed policy in letting the cop off. But he intends to help review and rewrite that policy as a Charlotte City Councilman. Councilman Braxton Winston and Police Chief Kerr Putney are going to have an interesting journey together.

Forgot to mention that there was an interview with Winston worth hearing today on "Morning Edition."

Rad more here:

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Conservative Activists Kicked Out of Haywood County Republican Party

“The Haywood Five” pose with cutouts
of former vice presidential candidate and
Alaskan governor Sarah Palin and President
Donald Trump at the Haywood Republican
Alliance headquarters. From left: Monroe Miller,
Richard West, Eddie Cabe, Paul Yeager and Jeremy Davis.
Photo Haywood Republican Alliance
When's the last time you've heard of party activists -- of either major political party -- getting drummed out of the corps? Well, actually, the Watauga Republican Party has indulged in some freelance purification rites, but it never got to the level it reached in Raleigh recently, with a "trial" for party disloyalty and a resulting ban against some Haywood County gentlemen from holding party offices "for three to five years."

The state's Republican Executive Committee, comprised of Republicans from across the state, convened a star chamber enclave in Raleigh on Saturday that essentially threw the men out of the GOP, though the proceedings were secret and not many people are talking about it ... except for the five notorious conservatives themselves who've started their own rump organization (the Haywood Republican Alliance) and are planning a big mock celebration, a "Party Disloyalty Party."

The allegations against the men mainly center on their support in 2016 of a conservative Democrat over an incumbent Republican Haywood commissioner, to the extent of doctoring slate cards given out at polling places. (For the record, the conservative Democrat came in dead last in polling while the targeted Republican incumbent, apparently a horrible "moderate," kept his seat). The Haywood Five were also accused of being generally disagreeable and disruptive characters who had hyper-sensitive noses for "RINOs" (Republicans In Name Only).

By implication, they're also "not normal." According to the Haywood Republican Party Chair, who brought the charges against the five, “That’s why I am doing this, is to get candidates to run for office who are normal everyday people,” he said. “When you have this kind of people in there, scrutinizing every move everybody makes and going after people that don’t agree with their warped agenda, you can’t get good people.”

The Pitiless Gaze of a Would-Be Trump Judge in NC

Thomas Alvin Farr. Photo Alex Brandon, AP
Thomas Farr, a Raleigh attorney with a voter suppression history, has been nominated by Trump to be a Federal district judge. This particular judgeship has been vacant for 11 years because Sen. Dick Burr blocked two different Obama nominees because they were black.

Farr was lead counsel for the Sen. Jesse Helms reelection campaign in 1990 when he was being challenged by former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt, a black man.

According to former U.S. Attorney Gerald Hebert, who was a Department of Justice investigator in 1990, Farr was involved in a campaign plot during the Helms v. Gantt election to send 100,000 postcards to registered black voters alleging they were ineligible to vote and would be prosecuted if they tried. Gantt lost to Helms by a narrow margin (though Gantt carried Watauga County by a thousand votes).

Farr has denied that he knew anything about the voter intimidation scheme until after it happened, and that denial helped him win approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee. Farr is still awaiting approval by the full Senate. Both Dick Burr and Sen. Thom Tillis support him.

NewsandObserver reporter Thomas Goldsmith, who first broke the story of Farr's involvement in the intimidation back in 2009 (on the front page), is back today in The Weekly Independent, digging into Farr's attempt to mislead the Senate Judiciary Committee about his past.

"There's certainly a clear discrepancy between what Mr. Farr testified to under oath to the committee and what has and will be reported about his activities with Helms regarding voter suppression," said Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice.

What's another lifetime appointment to the Federal bench? Oh, just another termite being given access to the floor joists.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Black Hat

One Republican who has come out as planning to run against Congresswoman Virginia Foxx in the 2018 Republican primary is Matthew Vera. I wrote about him before. Now I discover a second Republican looking to unseat Foxx, one Courtland J. Meader (some impressive name, that).

He actually declared his candidacy on August 11 on his Facebook page, describing himself as "a rock and roll loud mouth bad ass Republican that's going to shift shape in Washington." Okay, I get the loud mouth and bad ass parts, but a shape-shifter? That kind of means we can't trust where he stands right now and that once he gets to Washington, he'll be changing shapes. Or else I don't know how to read English.

His Facebook page, like his photograph, suggests a braggart who might be more hat than cattle. Apparently, he has THE solution to Obamacare which will change the world and wow the millennials and save money and redeem the irredeemably poor and cure the heartbreak of psoriasis. He's big on bragging and thin on detail. It's just gonna be a miracle, and you'll have take his word for it.

He's going to beat Virginia, evidently, by essentially melding into her, but to be honest I'm not sure he's actually ever met the Madam:
Virginia is a sweet, endearing woman, but she has also become a career politician with little interest in making big changes and battling the very well organized loud mouth liberal Democrats in this nation. Respectfully, at her age she just doesn't even have the moxy for it. We are on the same side technically, and I wish to stay as far away from denigrating Rep. Foxx as I can, because she is a decent person - but I also know it's time to hand over the baton. Her time has been, my time has come. [italics added only where amazement broke out]
Some times he veers left on Facebook:
Basing our healthcare on whether the insurance industry can turn a profit or not is a major problem .... Cost cutting on the patient's and the healthcare worker's backs is also a major problem.
I'm on my way to cheering him for that, but then he defines his Republicanism in a very curious way:
I'm a member of the Republican party for my own reasons, but they do not rule over or create my political or social views. My policies are problem solving and absolutely non-partisan, as they address and solve problems - not worry about which side believes what or desires whatever. My policies are for the people.
"For my own reasons"? What does that mean? Republicans "do not rule over my social views." Great! if I understand what you mean. But how does that square with "bad ass Republican"? I'm confused.

Getting a clear policy position out of Courtland J. Meader is going to take a bit more research.

Gorka Sees the Future, and You're Not in It

Sebastian Gorka, Trump's former White House Lucifer-lookalike, told an auditorium full of College Republicans last night in Chapel Hill that he predicted and firmly believed that Trump will complete eight years in the presidency and will be followed by eight years of Mike Pence. The students cheered. According to the News and Observer, there were about 200 in the room.

I love political prognosticators. They make my corpuscles bunch and run. I listen to them avidly and read their opinions wherever I can find them, and then if they're writers, I want to see what they look like and whether I can take what they predict as possible. Or anyways likely. Or merely self-congratulatory fantasy based on living in a box.

Gorka is not clothed in credibility. He's all about macho dominance of perceived enemies. He famously bragged about Trump, “the alpha males are back,” and he itched to give Islam -- the whole religion apparently -- some alpha male comeuppance. He was in on drafting the first Muslim ban. He was and still is a satellite of Steve Bannon and a regular contributor to Breitbart News. He had an ill-defined job in the White House -- like Omarosa -- and new Chief of Staff John Kelly got rid of him on August 25, 2017.

Gorka wrote a "resignation letter" that was excerpted in The Federalist. It's a "kiss my white ass!" directed at John Kelly:
“given recent events, it is clear to me that forces that do not support the MAGA promise are – for now – ascendant within the White House. As a result, the best and most effective way I can support you, Mr. President, is from outside the People’s House.”
So Gorka tells the students in Chapel Hill last night that he wasn't fired. He resigned. And then predicted an Era of Trump/Pence. He described Trump as “Kryptonite to political correctness” and an “unstoppable steam locomotive.” Macho authoritarianism? Yes indeedy, there's authoritarianism, but it's all coming from the Middle East, or from anyplace Muslims are in the majority. Trump is, in essence, an alpha male saving the race.

What a time we live in! Members of churches all over Alabama have become winkers at child molestation, perhaps in concert with also thinking Trump was divinely appointed to the job. Trump has finally bullied Sessions into pursuing Hillary Clinton with a Special Prosecutor, and the president just appointed his lawyer's husband to a federal judgeship (in Alabama, no less), a man who only became a lawyer three years ago and has never tried a case and has a social media history that strongly suggests he lacks a judicial temperament, and oops! he failed to tell Congress he has a conflict of interest with the Trump White House.

So in such a whirling world, Gorka predicts 16 years of Trump/Pence. I ask you, in a world so warped, who can confidently prognosticate otherwise? (Though my corpuscles are telling me another story altogether.)

Monday, November 13, 2017

Ready To Say It Out Loud: I'm Relieved Hillary Lost

By November 8th last fall, I was secretly thinking what I could not utter to another living soul: It might be better for the Democratic Party if Hillary lost.


1. Hillary would have been under constant and threatening investigation by two houses of Congress. Nothing -- absolutely nothing -- would be getting passed if Hillary suggested it or wanted it or -- Heaven forbid! -- needed it. I dreaded the ferocious feeding frenzy that a Hillary presidency would serve up for Republicans, red in tooth and claw.

2. The Democratic Party would continue its slide, defending her. Long range, who would look forward to Hillary's first mid-term Congressional elections? Jeebus!

3. With Trump, we get a rejuvenating backlash from Democrats and by Democrats and for Democrats. Decent people everywhere -- but especially in the suburbs -- suddenly discover what they never realized before -- that they want Democrats to win. Cutting off Hillary was like pruning a puny tree in the spring: new growth springs forth.

4. The election of Trump galvanized a whole new troop of non-professional office-seekers who stepped forward and have ideas that are good ideas and who aren't beholden. A national Big Thumb of the establishment Democratic Party doesn't squelch them because it's in disarray, arguing over who to blame for Hillary's loss.

5. Trump is the death of the Republican Party. What replaces it? Maybe the Trump Party, or several different parties arguing over who has to pick up the tab for the last four years. If it's to be the Trump Party, we can watch it collapse rapidly into a chain of Beauty Pageant Accessories and Gun Stores

Friday, November 10, 2017

Said the Carpenter to the Butterfly, "Wanna See My Joist?"

Bill Bramhall, New York Daily News
Alabama voters, at least until yesterday, considered Roy Moore a Christian soldier, and he has played the part with gusto. He published a book in 2009, "So Help Me God: The Ten Commandments, Judicial Tyranny, and the Battle for Religious Freedom," in which he's the hero and the Scourge of God, whipping the sexual misdeeds and perversions of other men according to the Holy Word of God, and pushing a couple of tons of Ten Commandments uphill against an American culture that has gone to the Devil.

Apparently in Alabama, good Christian soldiers are expected to indulge in a little pedofilia. That's at least the view of one high-ranking Alabama public official.

(We just got around to reading the Washington Post investigative piece that exposes Moore's past behavior with girls as young as 14. It's convincingly detailed. The main accuser, the at-the-time 14-year-old Leigh Corfman, was a Trump voter in 2016, so Moore's screaming it's all a Democratic Party plot rings a hollow gong.)

Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler heard about Moore showing off through white cotton undies his stiff dick to a prepubescent girl, and Ziegler shook if off as normal. He was quoted by the Washington Examiner: "Much ado about nothing," he said. “There is nothing to see here.” (He really said that!) “The allegations are that a man in his early 30s dated teenage girls. Even the Washington Post report says that he never had sexual intercourse with any of the girls and never attempted [?] sexual intercourse."

Then Ziegler actually turned to Scripture to defend Moore:

“Take the Bible. Zachariah and Elizabeth for instance. Zachariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist. Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”

“There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here,” Ziegler concluded. “Maybe just a little bit unusual.”

As Judge Judy would say, "Miss Alabama, you picked him! You pay!"

Thursday, November 09, 2017

How Stupid Does He Think We Are?

“The deal [Republican tax revenge] is so bad for rich people, I had to throw in the estate tax just to give them something.”

— President Trump, in reported comments to Senate Democrats, Nov. 7, 2017

What's Gonna Be Worse in 2018: Being Oblivious Or Living With Reality?

An interview with Congresswoman Virginia Foxx in the Washington Examiner produced these direct quotes about what happened on Tuesday:

What She Said
"I don't think elections in the House of Delegates is directly comparable to what might happen in the Congress of the United States .... I feel pretty comfortable about our winning in 2018."

What She Meant
Comparisons are odorous, or don't you know your Milton?


What She Said
"If you want to portray this as a severe loss, you can find examples to do that."

What She Meant
If you wanna be a dickhead about it.


What She Said
"If you want to portray it as a not-so-severe loss, you can find examples to do that."

What She Meant
Do you have any idea whatsoever how flexible I am. Why, I can bend over backwards and touch my nose to the backs of my calves.


What She Said
"It's like a Chinese menu: You pick two from column one and three from column two."

What She Meant
I put my derp in my derp with my other derp.

Unsealing the Signs of November: The Rise of the Suburbs

On Tuesday, the ground moved. (And you picked a hell of a time to go on the road and offline, Williamson!)

So ... catching up with the new landscape:

1. Virginia. The wealthy suburbs -- all those commuting soccer moms and commuting executive-potential dads, right? They turned to Democrats and turned away from Republicans in such surprising droves that polling was totally flummoxed. Who knew those people (the Republican Lite) were going to vote at all? They often don't vote in off-years, but this year they couldn't wait, and it was going to be bad for Republicans. Those people in the suburbs in Virginia and elsewhere, according to Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin -- who've got money and who may be registered Independents but who've been voting Republican for years out of a multitude of motives -- those are the voters to watch. They like Trump not. It was the Virginia suburbs that gave Democrat Ralph Northam his 9-point victory for governor last night.

Not just the governor -- and maybe not even most importantly the governor, but also a surge for Democrats down the ballot, especially the House of Delegates. Winning Democratic candidates included a woman who immigrated from Peru, a female refugee from Vietnam, an openly gay woman, and a transgender woman. Many of the ousted Republicans were white men who had held office for years. The transgender woman, Danica Roem, beat a 25-year Republican veteran who called himself the Chief Homophobe in Virginia.

At one point yesterday it still seemed that Democrats might have taken control of the House of Delegates, which has been Republican for eons. Democrats needed 17 pick-ups to take the majority, and so far they apparently have at least 15, with re-counts going on in several other close races. The consensus now is that probably, after the recounts, Republicans will retain control by a hairsbreadth, 51-49. Worst case scenario for Democrats: Republicans had a near-death experience, and Northam's vetoes will be upheld.

Virginia was gerrymandered, much like North Carolina was, to make the Republican majority virtually unassailable, but Democrats stormed the citadel, and all things are possible for she who trusts in the Lord.

2. Washington state. Via a special election, Democrats took majority control of the Washington state Senate. Chris Vance, a former chairman of the Washington State Republican Party, blamed Trump: “Among college-educated suburbanites, he is a pariah.”

3. Pennsylvania. "Pushing the message that a vote for them was a vote against President Trump, Delaware County Democrats out-polled Republicans in a County Council election for the first time in history, winning both seats up for grabs in an ultra-tight race." Delaware County was said to be under the thumb of "a fearsome Republican machine." (Philadelphia Inquirer) Machine broke, boss.

Democrats "surprised themselves" by scooping up local offices throughout the Philadelphia suburbs and easily holding city halls in places where the party suffered last year, like Erie and Scranton.

4. Georgia. Georgia Democrats captured two state House seats where they previously had not even fielded candidates, while also snatching a State Senate seat in Buckhead, an upscale area of Atlanta. See ... suburbs. I think we're seeing a trend line. 

5. New Jersey. Democrat Phil Murphy will follow Christie into the Governor's Mansion. Murphy "carried the densely populated New York and Philadelphia suburbs by staggering margins, including counties that broke for Gov. Chris Christie eight years ago." (NYTimes

In an upset, Ashley Bennett defeated Republican John Carman for a seat on the Atlantic County board. Carman had cracked wise during the Women’s March in Washington on January 21, posting a meme on Facebook -- a picture of a harried young woman, cooking over a stove, with the text asking, "Will she be home [from the March] in time to cook dinner?" Ashley Bennett, who whipped Carman's butt, saw that Facebook post, was outraged, and decided to run. She won, and she's a first-time candidate, a hospital employee, and black.
New Jersey Democrats also took back Atlantic City and broke Republican hold on Parsippany, "the sort of suburb where the Trump backlash has brought Democrats from the fringe to contention" (Dave Weigel).

6. Montana. In Helena, Wilmot Collins, a refugee from Liberia, became the first black mayor. He's a Democrat. 

7. Colorado. Democrat Crystal Murillo won a Republican-held city council seat in Aurora, a suburb of Denver.

8. New Hampshire. For the first time in 14 years, Democrats seized control of the state’s biggest city, making Joyce Craig the first female mayor of Manchester.

9. Maine. Maine voters overwhelming approved an expansion of Medicaid "in a sharp rebuke of Republican governor and early Trump supporter Paul LePage, who vetoed the legislation no less than five times." (LePage plays a real gargoyle. He vowed yesterday to continue blocking the expansion.)

10. North Carolina. Fayetteville voters flipped their mayor from Republican to Democrat, and Charlotte now has its first black woman mayor.

"In the Apex Town Council contest, former Pat McCrory spokesman and HB2 defender Graham Wilson, finished dead last of five candidates. Fellow Republican David Hooks finished fourth. The three victors—Nicole Dozier, Brent Gantt, and Audra Killingsworth, were all endorsed by the Wake Dems. Maybe Paul Stam’s clout in his hometown is waning." (Jeffrey C. Billman The Weekly Independent)

People ask what happened in the Boone Town Council races. This happened:

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Opportunity, Knocking

We see these things every day on Facebook: "Sign this petition to force Congress to impeach Trump!" Petition, petition, petition. Different wording, same message.

People, please!

I already hate all the things that Facebook wants me to do every time I turn on the computer (you know what I'm talking about). Why on earth would I take time to do something as futile as signing a petition to the Republicans in Congress?

Do you honestly believe those people are going to slap Trump when they can't even repeal Obamacare?

Granted, there have been and will continue to be the occasional party kamikazes, like Corker and Flake, on suicide missions to save the Republic, not to mention the Republican Party. And expect more resignations by senior Republican members of Congress, opting not to run even in safe districts, like Jeb Hensarling in the Texas Fifth. Not an old guy. Why is he dropping out?

But prosecution/legislative action against malfeasance or obstruction in the Trump administration? Not gonna happen.

We have one more year of this hilarious nightmare. Then the people get to strike back. Until that is over, Congressional Republicans are going to grab the gunwales and sit tight until almost exactly one year from today, when comes a major mid-term general election. They're going to have to be kicked in the gut before they do anything about their disaster that keeps on giving. Serve them the election they deserve, and they'll do something about Trump. However many of them are left by then.

Attendance and enthusiasm are both up at Democratic events since January 20, starting the very next day -- January 21 -- with the Women's March on Washington. People are donating money and responding to phone calls to volunteer to work, and are already working, with more people than ever talking about filing to run for public office. The front-burner skillet is heating up.

Meanwhile, Trump is easily one of the most unpopular figures in American life, let alone the presidency. He works at alienating independent and swing voters. He flails around like a shadow-boxer. Remember his campaign. It was all him, and his superior brain didn't think he needed an infrastructure supporting him of experts and advisors, so when he suddenly needed "foreign policy experts" to look legit, he picks a bunch of people with no experience and no smarts and he gets Carter Page and George Papadopoulos and Sam Clovis, who nevertheless work very hard to do what the boss wants.

IMO, the Democratic Party is our only hope as a bulwark against crazy, and anything to do in Washington, D.C., that includes the name Hillary Clinton is crap. Some things we just need to let go of.