Thursday, December 31, 2020

The 20 Republican Senators Whose Votes Won't Matter Next Wednesday But Whose Integrity Will


So Senator Josh Hawley, photogenic Republican from Missouri, clearly intends to take the baton of Trumpism and run for president in 2024 as the last loyal defender of his leader -- the one member of his Party and of the Senate willing to step out and declare that he will disrupt the wholly ceremonial reading of the Electoral College votes next week, and make a final attempt to somehow overturn the election of Biden and return all power to Trump. The House has its members of this band of dead-enders too, like Louie Gohmert of Texas, who hilariously sued Vice President Mike Pence yesterday, asking a federal judge to tell Pence to just go ahead on and declare that Donald Trump has been reelected. (Pence will also be very much on the cusp of imminent national embarrassment next Wednesday. Watching his behavior may be better than Japanese anime.)

Hawley must know that his own little theatrical display will only delay what's right and legal. He can't win because it's a joint session of Congress, and the Democratic House will never vote to overturn Biden's election. End of story. But Hawley clearly has bigger, meatier fish to fry. He's taking on the Trump mantle (pugilist to the end) in a bid to be the number one Republican contender for continuing (and for escalating, bitches!) the Trumpist lust in 2024 for overturning liberal government.

Hawley promises to force debate and votes in the Senate which will put all the other Republican senators squarely on a spot they don't want to be standing on. Are they loyal Trumpists? Or apostates worthy of burning at the stake (or at the very least, primarying in 2022).

It's the Republican senators up for reelection in two short years who'll be most visibly pinched in the ass by Hawley's gambit. With that in mind -- and since I can be as big a voyeur as the rest of you mugs! -- here are the Republicans to watch on January 6th -- a species of sitting birds, laying heavy on their nests, but up for reelection in two short years from the moment they reveal themselves to the Trumpist majorities in their own states, mobs who aren't loath to take up arms. Will these senators crumble to Trump and vote to overturn the election? Or will they stand for maintaining constitutional government even in the face of our authoritarian clown?

Republican Senators Who'll Be On the Ballot in 2022

Here are the 20 senators up for reelection in two years who'll be called on to vote on Josh Hawley's challenge to overturn the election.

Richard Shelby of Alabama -- What does he have to fear from Trumpist terror? He won his last reelection by a margin of 28%. Still, he's from Alabama, which sprouts unhinged true believers like other states sprout alfalfa seeds. Roy Moore. You remember him, right?

Lisa Murkowski of Alaska -- She'll not hesitate to vote to uphold Biden. Stick a thumb in Trump's eye? You bet.

John Boozman of Arkansas -- Don't know a thing about him, but we've all heard a thing or two about how popular Trump is in The Toothpick State.

Marco Rubio of Florida -- He's gonna get an ulcer over this. He has every reason to despise Trump, and I suspect he does. Plus he wants to position himself again too for a presidential run in 2024 -- supposedly as the sane alternative to Trumpism. Good luck with that project, Senator, but how do you vote on Senator Hawley's grandstanding? Rubio won his last election by an anemic 7.7%, and he showed himself a weak defender of himself in those debates with Trump in 2016.

Mike Crapo of Idaho -- Other than loving to mispronounce his name, I know little about him. Idaho has a lot of Mormon Republicans who haven't shown themselves overly infatuated with Trump.

Todd Young of Indiana -- From the same state that Mike Pence wrapped in his chaste embrace as governor. Dunno about Sen. Young. 

Chuck Grassley of Iowa -- He'll be 89 in 2022, but he seems very happy playing Grandpa Simpson for another season. He's also got enough statesman left in him to stand up against the last Trump theatrics. I say he'll vote to uphold Biden's election.

Jerry Moran of Kansas -- What's the matter with Kansas is that it's been showing signs of moderation. It elected one of only two native American women to Congress in 2018 and has a Democratic governor. I know nothing much about Moran, though.

Rand Paul of Kentucky -- Oh, he's gonna go full bore (and boar) for saving Trump's ass. He last won reelection by almost 15 percentage points. Kentucky elected a Democratic governor in 2018, mainly perhaps because the Republican was such a royal jerk, but Kentucky has not been trending Democratic. Liberals there put all their hopes on Amy McGrath, twice.

John Neely Kennedy of Louisiana -- I know him only as a talking-head on TV. He's smart. Also prone to going out on rhetorical limbs in front of Trump and for Trump's approval. He said of Nancy Pelosi, "It must suck to be that dumb." The Trumpists ate it up. But his annoying molasses-mouth and rhetorical flourishes like he's a re-embodiment of Bourbon aristocracy (or of General Jack S. Phogbound) do not wear well with me. But he'll vote to reinstall Trump.

Roy Blunt of Missouri -- We're accustomed to thinking of Missouri as the shire that elected Josh Hawley to the Senate in the first place. He replaced Claire McCaskill, whose talking-head on TV is currently one of my favorites. But Blunt, one of the most powerful senators in his caucus, squeaked by in his last reelection (margin of less than 3%), and he may fear the Trump loyalists in his state. But he's also an institutionalist and one of McConnell's lieutenants. 

Richard Burr of North Carolina -- He shouldn't give a good goddamn about what Trump and Trumpists think, because he's already a lame duck, promising not to run for reelection. Does he has any statesmanship left in him?

John Hoeven of North Dakota -- He's a blank to me where a face should be.

Rob Portman of Ohio -- Last won reelection by a margin of almost 21%, so he shouldn't have to fear too much the wrath of the Trumpists. But he was outed by Carl Bernstein as aping Trumpist beliefs while secretly/silently despising the president. So I think he might vote to uphold Biden.

James Lankford of Oklahoma -- He's smart. He knows his voters, who trend heavily toward Trumpist belacosity. But Lankford won his last election by 43 freakin' points, so maybe he feels cushioned enough to defy the true believers.

Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania -- He's already announced his retirement. Nothing to lose in upholding Biden.

Tim Scott of South Carolina -- Only Black Republican senator. Dunno what he might do, but I think his institutional loyalty might actually out-weigh any dread of mass white opposition to him in 2022. He last won election by a margin of almost 24%.

John Thune of South Dakota -- Already denounced as a traitor by Trump for his siding with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in demanding that fellow Republican senators not indulge in what Josh Hawley plans to indulge in. His margin of victory last time was 43.6%, so why would he be afraid? Since he's already on the outs with Trump, he might as well be in for a dollar since he's in for a dime.

Mike Lee of Utah -- I actually think this arch-conservative may vote to uphold Biden.

Ron Johnson of Wisconsin -- One of the most avid enabler's of Trump's whims. He'll vote to overthrow the election. Incidentally, he's already announced he's retiring in 2022 (and it'll be a hell of a contest for the open seat), so he really doesn't give a damn.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Why Did Virginia Foxx Hide Her COVID Infection?


From Virginia Foxx's Twitter
Rep. Virginia Foxx tested positive for COVID-19 the week of Nov. 23 and stayed in quarantine until the first week of December. Neither she nor her office let out a peep about it until shortly before she returned to work in Washington on December 7th. 

None of the local media in her 5th District knew anything about her diagnosis and quarantining. Many if not most still don't.

Foxx's spokesman Alex Ives said on December 7th that it’s highly likely that Foxx became infected after she was "exposed to her immediate family." Also according to Ives, Foxx was asymptomatic and stayed clear of the public and staff during her quarantine period.

Foxx kept her COVID infection a closely guarded secret in the 5th District until December 3rd, when she posted in the Congressional Record a vaguely worded excuse for missing a vote. Someone had had a positive COVID test, but she didn't say clearly that it was her test that was positive.

A day after her return to Washington, Foxx spoke from the House floor on December 8: "My husband contracted the virus and spent four days in Watauga Medical Center where he received excellent care from doctors and nurses. I tested positive, was totally asymptomatic, but of course was quarantined."

On December 18, she tweeted a photo of herself being jabbed with a syringe: "Today, I received my first round of the COVID-19 vaccine. This is the power of American innovation at work!"

Also the power of congressional privilege. But then, you knew that Virginia Foxx was going to be the first one at the buffet, didn't you? 

Why would she keep her virus infection a secret? (In fact, it's still essentially a secret to many/most? of her 5th District constituents, especially the ones who don't read any mainstream news sources -- let alone the Congressional Record -- because of course "fake news.") She kept it secret because she must have known she'd be mocked for her hypocrisy. She was among the Republicans who followed their leader's playbook and downplayed the virus and the need for aggressive public interventions to limit its spread. 

Foxx, in particular, was outspoken. "In mid-November, Foxx blasted the Democratic leadership of the U.S. House for adopting policies designed to limit the spread of COVID-19 on Capitol Hill. Then, later in the month, she vehemently opposed an effort by U.S. House Democrats to pass a strong COVID relief package that included paid sick leave for workers — something she’s been taking advantage of in recent days" (Rob Schofield).

Those of us who have known her for decades know her for a liar and a hypocrite. The fact that the rest of the 5th District doesn't know her that way owes a good deal to her management of the news.

Monday, December 28, 2020

A Republican Resolution for 2021: Let's Do More Voter Suppression!


Republicans' favorite excuse for losing elections -- voter fraud -- has been thoroughly debunked. Allegations that thousands of people “double voted” by assuming other identities at polling booths has been laughed out of court. Assertions that large numbers of noncitizens cast illegal votes is just as absurd, with most undocumented immigrants so fearful of their status that they will not call the police when someone assaults them. So, sure, they're likely in huge numbers to march through the gauntlet of officialdom into a polling place to cast a ballot in a process they little understand. Tales about large numbers of cheaters casting ballots in the name of “dead voters” is an especially popular explanation in western North Carolina, but so far nobody has produced evidence beyond "I know for a fact that my granddaddy said he saw it happen." Your granddaddy's blind in one eye and can't see out of the other'n, and resurrecting the rumors from decades ago doesn't count for evidence.

"After bringing some 60 lawsuits, and even offering financial incentive for information about fraud, Mr. Trump and his allies have failed to prove definitively any case of illegal voting on behalf of their opponent in court — not a single case of an undocumented immigrant casting a ballot, a citizen double voting, nor any credible evidence that legions of the voting dead gave Mr. Biden a victory that wasn’t his." (NewYorkTimes, emphasis added)

High levels of voting are bad for Republicans. Trump himself admitted that back last March. Other, more circumspect Republican officials know it's true, though they won't say it out loud. Well, they almost say it out loud. In Watauga County, the Republican Party spent years on the local Board of Elections trying to kneecap the voting of college students because young people have no reason earthly to vote for that party and its philosophy.

And now you can watch the Phil Berger/Tim Moore team, still in control of the General Assembly in Raleigh, launch a whole new wave of voter suppression laws in North Carolina, "to prevent fraud," even though the state went for Trump and incidentally kept Berger/Moore in power. Doesn't matter. Fictional fraud is the best cover for doing bad deeds to protect your power, so we can probably expect another round of photo ID laws, clamping down on college student voting, and making it harder to vote by mail since that's what Democrats like to do now in the COVID crisis.

Thursday, December 24, 2020



I posted this below a year ago on Xmas Eve. I rediscover it now as still applicable, if not more so:

Is there a better word for 2020? Doomscrolling (noun) -- the act of consuming an endless procession of negative online news, to the detriment of the scroller's mental wellness.

Yeah, that's me.

Every morning, scrolling headlines and taglines and come-ons and click-bait, my mind sinking deeper and deeper into a black pool. Just this blooming morning: "Highest Levels of Microplastics Found in Molluscs, New Study Says";  "Portugal outrage after Spanish hunters massacre 500 wild animals"; "Trump’s last-minute outburst throws pandemic relief effort into chaos"; "Could Trump declare martial law to try to steal the election?"; "Trump vowed to drain the swamp. Then he granted clemency to three former congressmen convicted of federal crimes"; "A President Unhappy, Unleashed and Unpredictable."

We're doomed, folks.

I wrote a Christmas letter. First time in years. I got calls from all over the country -- especially from Texas -- asking either directly whether I might be suicidal, or implying it by tiptoeing around the topic. I ain't that. I ain't suicidal. Sometimes I yell at the TV. Sometimes I yell at myself. Not out loud. Not yet, that. I've not become the guy who goes through the grocery store muttering angrily (though for social distancing, it ain't a slouch of a motivator).

Fact is, I don't go to the grocery store. Because of the risk of infection, natch. That's an oppressive topic that didn't make the first national headlines I saw this morning. My expanded scrolling to North Carolina yields this: "NC COVID hospitalizations hit another new high as deaths top 6,300." The virus darkens every corner of life, doesn't it? No need to ask really, with so many of us at home alone rather than with extended families. The virus is ever present and, just incidentally, deadly to people like me and mine.

“Doomscrolling can be a harmful habit, and detrimental to your mental and even physical health.” 
--Stephanie J. Wong, PhD, licensed clinical psychologist

I know, Dr. Wong, but it's hardwired in me to crave the news every morning. Habit? Like drugs? You bet. I very well know that bad habits can produce depression, which can be a bottomless pit. Here's another word for the year: catastrophizing: focusing on the negative aspects of the world in a way that makes it more and more difficult to notice anything positive. "When you experience stress – whether it's low-level stress from doomscrolling or a sudden, stressful event like a car crash – your body kicks into overdrive and releases stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol." The fight-or-flight response -- built into us by evolution, to save our butts from fang and claw, but "long term activation of this fight-or-flight response has been linked to digestive problems, headaches, heart disease, weight gain, anxiety, sexual side effects, and high blood pressure, as well as many other health issues."

Gee, thanks, Doc, like we don't already have enough stress.

So what does Dr. Wong recommend? "Avoid all social media." Unrealistic. But also this, a really good suggestion: "Practice gratitude." It's Christmas Eve. I'm in a warm place. I have my partner for life here with me, along with wonder dog Jake, and we have gifts prepared for one another. Pam's making a Pekin duck tomorrow, and we've got movies queued up for all day. Fuck everything else.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Goodbye, DeVos. Miguel Cardona Will Be Education Secretary


Miguel Cardona, to lead the Department of Education

Cardona's parents are from Puerto Rico. He grew up in public housing and attended public schools throughout his life, a decided contrast to outgoing education secretary Betsy DeVos, a billionaire champion of private schools which both she and her children attended.

Cardona, 45, was appointed Connecticut’s first Latino commissioner of education in 2019 after two decades of experience as a public school educator, starting in a Meriden, Conn., elementary school classroom. He also served as a principal for a decade, among the youngest in the state, and as an assistant superintendent in Meriden. He was also an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut, where he received his doctorate.

As Connecticut's top education official, Cardona has leaned in on the side of reopening schools during the COVID crisis, leaned in without ordering it after the Connecticut state school board voted to keep schools closed and go to virtual teaching only. Cardona worried about the poorest and most vulnerable students who either did not have all the infrastructure for vitual learning or who needed more one-on-one instruction.

According to the NYTimes, "If confirmed, Dr. Cardona would face the most urgent education crisis in decades, and whether he can press schools to reopen without turning the issue into a partisan matter, as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos did, could have major repercussions for the young Biden administration."

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Cravings Can Get You Killed


The Attorney General of Texas, using the cloak of his office and in effect representing all the citizens of that state of my birth, sued four other sovereign states for their election methods and results. Ken Paxton's suit went directly to the Supreme Court, and was joined by the attorney generals of 17 other states and by 126 Republican members of Congress. They were all convinced -- or said they were convinced, in order to impress their impressionable constituents -- that the election was stolen from Donald Trump.

After The Supremes threw out Paxton's suit as a piece of ridiculous garbage, the mayor of a small Texas town near Lubbock, which is very near where I grew up in the Panhandle, announced that he was ready to go to war and so were the dozens of other members of the South Plains Patriots, an armed militia pledged to defend Trump's right to stay in the White House. That mayor said there’s “no way in hell” Biden won fairly. The only way he’ll believe it, he said, is if Trump himself says so. “Trump is the only one we’ve been able to trust for the last four years. As far as the civil war goes, I don’t think it’s off the table.”

Civil war.

That mayor -- need we say it? -- was speaking for God knows how many other Trumpists everywhere who have swallowed Trump's bullshit like it was a chicken-fried steak dinner with yeast rolls. I tend to believe their stated willingness to use ordinance against enemies of the state. But who would they march against first, especially in a state as large as Texas with Republican elected officials in every statewide office? Or would they go all the way to Michigan, one of Paxton's targets, and storm Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's home? Not sure what that would gain them. So maybe they mean to coagulate on the streets of Washington, D.C., like the Proud Boys did last weekend. The Proud Boys showed them how to do it, although with fists rather than guns -- fists and (oh yeah!) knives. They managed not to kill anyone in the Capitol, but perhaps it's only a matter of time. And they didn't nullify the election.

Maybe Trump imagines himself refusing to come out of the White House on January 20th, with hundreds of his armed supporters guarding the doors and the grounds against any attempt by Federal marshals to haul his ass out. It's a fantasy narrative worthy of Hollywood. Maybe the armed militias who are itching to pull triggers on something have that fantasy too. Some have visions of their own heroic masculinity. Remember the good old boy from Salisbury who stormed a pizzeria in Washington looking for the kidnapped children? He had a fantasy that he was a savior working for the Lord.

I both believe that mayor in Texas, and I don't. I grew up with guys like him. Our school yard sprouted bullies like our irrigated farmland sprouted cotton. Some of them loved shoving around smaller kids, more timid kids, girly kids, but punch one in the nose, he'd back off quick, cupping the blood in his hand and running for the school nurse. Granted, some of them would never back off. They had too much invested in the presentation. School yard fighting was a performance, after all, and the method actors of Texas toughness always had cheering sections of other guys who enjoyed the break from school boredom.

I doubt the prospect of armed rebellion (though if Trump actually called for his supporters to take up arms against the "deep state," Katie bar the door!). Secession is another matter. Now while a part of me wants to say so long, goodbye, don't let the door hit ya to those new secessionist-talking braggarts in Texas and elsewhere, there's no way that's happening either. Not that it matters really, but the Supreme Court in 1869 actually ruled (in Texas v. White) that secession was not only unconstitutional but also a fictional delusion. The guys like the South Plains Patriots don't know nuttin' 'bout no Supreme Court ruling and wouldn't care if they did, so they might try to stir it up. But carrying out even a fictional secession would be a mighty heavy lift, what with interstate commerce and all.

I still worry. Even without the extremes of Civil War and secession, there's every likelihood that the snipers among Trump's most devoted followers will eventually satisfy their craving to shed some blood.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Two More Biden Cabinet Picks: EPA and Interior


Michael Regan, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency

Regan, 44, has served as North Carolina’s top environmental official, leading the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), since early 2017, appointed by Gov. Cooper. I can't do better than Jeffrey Billman (and his daily PRIMER/North Carolina newsletter), who characterized Regan and the task ahead of him in Washington:

DEQ Secretary Michael Regan wasn’t Joe Biden’s first choice to run the EPA—that was California’s Mary D. Nichols, who was felled by a progressive rebellion for being insufficiently attuned to environmental racism. But he checks a lot of the right boxes.

The Trump administration’s EPA, run by a coal lobbyist—seriously!—is a hot mess of piss-poor morale, science denial, and special interest capture. That’s not unlike the polluter-coddling DEQ that Regan inherited from the McCrory administration in 2017 and turned around. He also had to contend with an anti-science Republican legislature, which might also be familiar terrain.

He’s overseen Cooper’s plans for carbon reductions and made climate change a priority, both things he’ll also have to do under the Biden administration. He also forced Duke Energy into a multibillion-dollar coal-ash settlement. That settlement was central to Biden’s decision, McClatchy reports.

Soon after becoming secretary, Regan created an environmental justice advisory board, a helpful contrast with Nichols. He developed asthma growing up in eastern North Carolina, which—as Naeema Muhammad of the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network put it—is a “dumping ground” for “anything white people don’t want in their backyard.”

Incidentally, you can sign up for the daily PRIMER here

According to the WashPost, “[Regan] was very tough on Duke,” quoting a former utility executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect his business relationships.

Also from the WashPost:

In another high-profile case under Regan, North Carolina ordered the chemical company Chemours to virtually eliminate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a group of man-made chemicals, from seeping into the Cape Fear River. The chemicals — used in cookware, stain repellent and several other products — have been linked to deleterious health effects, including low infant birth weights, immune system problems, thyroid hormone disruption and, in some cases, cancer.

“We have concerns about how DEQ as an agency has failed to address PFAS issues in the Haw River watershed under his leadership,” Emily Sutton, the Haw Riverkeeper, said in an email. “But Regan has done what he could with little support from the governor or the legislature.”

A native of Goldsboro, Regan earned his undergraduate degree in earth and environmental science at NC A&T University and a master’s degree in public administration from George Washington University.

Deb Haaland, to be Secretary of the Interior

[Plucked from the NYTimes] If confirmed by the Senate, Haaland (who was just reelected to a second term in Congress from New Mexico) would be the first Native American to lead a cabinet-level agency. She would oversee a sprawling department responsible for some 500 million acres of public lands, including national parks, oil and gas drilling sites and endangered species habitat.

Haaland, a citizen of Laguna Pueblo, one of the country’s 574 federally recognized tribes, would helm the federal agency most responsible for the well-being of the nation’s 1.9 million Indigenous people. Among other things, the Interior Department runs the Bureau of Indian Education and the Bureau of Trust Funds Administration, which manages the financial assets of American Indians held in trust.

For generations, Native Americans have fought the department’s policies and demanded a greater voice in its operation. In one instance, in 1972, about 500 activists took over the department’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., protesting living standards and broken treaties.

The name Haaland comes from her Norwegian-American father, who married her native American mother. Both parents were veterans of the Armed Forces during World War II.


Thursday, December 17, 2020

Democrats and the Winning Politics of Marijuana Legalization


Drayton Aldridge, guest-blogging

If you spent election night glued to the presidential results, you may have missed that November 3rd was a huge night for weed. Voters in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota passed referendums legalizing recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana measures passed in Mississippi as well as South Dakota (a moot point considering voters also passed the full legalization measure). In an election that revealed a bitterly divided country at all levels of government, legal weed managed to transcend the partisan split and win comfortable victories in both red and blue states.

These results cap off an extraordinary decade for an issue that until recently was viewed as radical and taboo. Since 2012 marijuana has been legalized in 15 states plus the District of Columbia. Legalization is now supported by a record 68% of Americans and is popular across a wide range of demographic groups. Even among Republicans and weekly church goers, support is just shy of 50%.

After years of foot dragging on legalization, there are indications that the Democratic Party is finally catching up with the American public. Earlier this month the House of Representatives passed a bill decriminalizing marijuana possession with the support of all but ten Democrats (six no votes, four abstentions). Only five Republicans supported the measure, though in perhaps a quiet acknowledgement of the bill’s popularity, 34 Republicans did not cast a vote. The bill will die inside Mitch McConnell’s desk, but it nonetheless illustrates that marijuana legalization is now being taken seriously in the halls of Congress by at least one political party.

While the House vote is welcome news, many Democratic leaders including president-elect Joe Biden still stop short of supporting outright legalization. Considering marijuana initiatives ran at least ten points ahead of Biden in every state where they were on the ballot, the president-elect and his party would be wise to fully embrace this massively popular movement. Politics aside, the legalization and taxation of marijuana would be transformative policy with far-reaching effects. It would create jobs and offer farmers a valuable cash crop. It would give seniors, veterans, and others a non-addictive alternative to painkillers, potentially stemming the tide of the opioid epidemic. It would help to alleviate racial disparities in the criminal justice system. And the revenue could fund schools, healthcare, and/or a Covid-19 relief package to keep people and businesses afloat.

The Democratic Party has a golden opportunity to lead on the legalization of marijuana and ride a popular wave of support to victory in upcoming elections. In order to unleash the electoral power of this issue, candidates need to not only support legalization but fight for it in their ads, campaign literature, and stump speeches. They have to smash the old stereotypes and make the case that legalization can improve people’s lives and go a long way towards solving many of our country’s problems. Meanwhile, Democrats would be smart to organize ballot referendums in every state where referendums are possible. Such a campaign could offer a rare opportunity for the party to simultaneously energize its base, attract infrequent voters, and siphon off parts of the Republican coalition that haven't voted blue in years.

The legalization of marijuana could reinvigorate the Democratic Party and help America recover from the devastation of 2020. After a pandemic and four years of Trump, a little weed could do the country some good.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

There's No Extremism Like North Carolina Extremism


Vinegar base, you bet.

We should have seen state Senator Bob Steinburg coming. The senator from District 1 (bunch of sparsely populated counties down at the OBX) advocated first on Facebook and then out loud and loudly to WRAL in Raleigh yesterday, saying that Trump should declare martial law, suspend habeas corpus, and start rounding up his enemies, the people of the Deep State who are stealing the presidency from Trump, including, by the way, Chief Justice John Roberts. "Let’s take a look at [him]," Steinburg told WRAL. "Somebody's got something" on Roberts and, as evidence, Steinburg averred that "a lot of retired FBI and CIA agents live in his district and have told him so."

"I hear this all the time," Steinburg said. "All the time.”

“There’s something going on here bigger than what anybody is willing to talk about," he said. "I’m not nuts. … I’m not a conspiracy theory person. I don’t like them. I don’t like conspiracy theories at all. But something is going on here that’s bigger than meets the eye.” (China? China plus Deep State?) Steinburg then offered, unprompted, to take a psychiatric evaluation. He said the CIA and FBI both know there's a coup d'etat going on in the country but won't do anything about it. "They think we’re just bunch of boobs out here in the hinterland," he said. "Well, these boobs are waking up.”

What happens when a boob wakes up and walks off the end of the pier? Does he drown? Or does he swim to shore, a wiser boob?

Senator Bob Steinburg and His Colorful Aura

Steinburg was just reelected a month ago to his seat for a 2nd term. I was promoting Democrat Tess Judge to beat him, but he beat her by 10,000 votes, buoyed by the same Trump effect that won so many other marginal districts. Steinburg previously served three terms in the NC House. He's said to be "widely unloved." The previous and retiring Republican who held the Dist. 1 seat, Bill Cook, said on the record that Steinburg was "unfit for office," yet Steinburg ran for Cook's seat in the Republican primary of 2018. Cook endorsed Steinburg's opponent Clark Twiddy and contributed money to the Twiddy campaign. But Steinburg beat Twiddy like a drum, winning over 58% of the vote.

"Unfit for office"? He apparently has anger management issues, a temper that boils hot enough to evaporate rationality. He's been arrested twice, once for disorderly conduct and once for assault on his opponent's campaign manager. The charges were later dismissed. More recently, as he faced reelection, he reportedly clashed with elementary school teachers at a faculty meeting (Gatesville Elementary in Gates County). He gets pissed quickly, especially when challenged. At the Gatesville school, a teacher complained about his salary, and Steinburg popped out his boob:

"Whaddya think I get paid?"

The teacher said, "I couldn’t guess."

"$14,000 a year," Steinburg snarled, and "I work harder than you do." (Base salary for all members of the NC General Assembly is $13,951 per annum, plus travel allowance of $104 per day.) That room was maybe the wrong audience for that kind of asinine display, but then, what room would be the right room for claiming you work harder than the people facing you?

The teacher justifiably walked out. Steinburg reportedly asked his name. "He's gonna pay for that," Steinburg supposedly said out loud. (My only source for this story is Brant Clifton's conservative blog which has always had a hard-on about Steinburg's not being conservative enough, so grain of salt time.)

Steinburg is not the only Republican displaying anger management issues right now. Anger that is driving ever grander fantasies of power and revenge. Steinburg wants to bring on martial law and to lock 'em all up because we've got a national emergency on our hands. Yes, I consider the willingness to end democracy for the approval of Trump a Code Red crisis.

Granholm and Buttigieg Named to Biden's Cabinet


Jennifer Granholm, to be secretary of the Department of Energy

She is the former governor of Michigan and has been a strong advocate for zero-emissions vehicles. She is currently an adjunct professor of law at the University of California at Berkeley and has argued that the United States risks being left behind by other countries if it doesn’t develop alternate energy technologies. "Her pick is a clear sign that Biden wants the department to play an important role in combating climate change" (WashPost).

The bulk of the department's mandate has to do with the maintenance and safeguarding of the nation’s nuclear weapons and handling the cleanup efforts at contaminated nuclear sites. The nuclear program consumes about 75 percent of the department’s budget. “The Energy Department is actually the Nuclear Weapons Department,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. Granholm would not be the first energy secretary without a background in nuclear issues, but she could rely on the expertise of deputies. 

The Energy Department's role in promoting research began getting more attention in the Obama administration and is likely to feature prominently under Biden, given his promises to tackle climate change. Granholm worked with Biden in Michigan a decade ago when he was overseeing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and he credits her with helping to save the auto industry and the union jobs it supports.

Pete Buttigieg, to be secretary of the Department of Transportation

[Indebted to Tyler Pager and Sam Mintz at Politico]

Buttigieg’s ascension to the top spot at DOT marks the culmination of a meteoric rise in politics over the last two years from the mayor of South Bend to the first openly gay Cabinet secretary, if he is confirmed.

But Buttigieg's landing spot comes as a surprise given his thin transportation policy resume.

Buttigieg, 38, wanted to serve as the ambassador to the United Nations, a position that went to Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and he was also considered for Commerce secretary. But Buttigieg has a limited political future in his home state of Indiana, and Buttigieg supporters were hopeful Biden would give the mayor a high-profile spot to gain more experience and bolster his big political ambitions.

If confirmed, Buttigieg will head to Washington to take responsibility for nearly 55,000 employees, an $87 billion budget and more than a dozen administrations, overseeing the nation’s airspace, highway system, pipeline safety and much more.

Buttigieg became a top-tier presidential contender, eventually winning the Iowa caucuses and finishing second in the New Hampshire primary. His presidential bid flamed out after the first four early states, largely because he failed to make any inroads with voters of color, a critical constituency in the Democratic primary.


Sunday, December 13, 2020

Is Trump's Mythology Stronger than Our Mythology?

Researchers into human evolution speculate on what drove small bands of hunter-gatherer Homo sapiens in east Africa to suddenly leave home about 70,000 years ago and move into the Middle East and then Asia and then Europe and then everywhere else including Siberia, Alaska, and the whole continents of North and South America all the way down to Tierra del Fuego. 

Since there were at least five other Homo species co-existing with sapiens during many of the last 70,000 years of species expansion, it seems significant that those five other species didn't also expand, but rather shrank. They disappeared from the earth. Many scientists believe they had help, that they were actively wiped out, like the Neanderthals. Why? Historians of evolution speculate that sapiens had an "intellectual revolution" about 70,000 years ago, more like a sudden mutation in our genes -- caused by what? dunno? -- that taught us to trust others and cooperate on hunts. We could bring down and butcher mammoths. Cooperation led to power -- management, call it -- and just incidentally to wall paintings and little carved idols, which show something even greater (at least to me it's greater): the invention of fiction.

The minute sapiens developed the cranial capacity to create gods and elevate heroes and remember history, the other species of Homo were doomed (especially Homo neanderthalensis and Homo denisova).

**Okay, I'll come clean: I've been reading Sapiens: A Graphic History -- The Birth of Humankind by Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari (thank you, Mary), and because it's essentially a comic book on evolution and on the artifacts of our coming, I'm learning stuff that I've heard about and never paid attention to, and I'm delighted. Best book of 2020.

I've fastened on that fiction-making ability, the mental circuitry to allow thinking up of religion, turning history into mythology, like turning pottery out of clay. The beliefs that possessed them, that's what made sapiens the conquerors. Still today, the stronger mythology always (usually?) wins.

My current fear: The mythology of the 74 million who voted for Trump and won't give it up is possibly stronger than the mythology of the 80+ million who voted for Biden.

Right now by the last poll I saw, only 23% of registered Republican voters believe that Biden is the legitimate president-elect. Many will assert that the entire 2020 election is a giant swindle on the American people. You simply cannot maintain a Republic when that many citizens oppose it. They fear -- fear that's actually blossomed into a dangerous paranoia in some -- fear that unchristian forces will take over, will seize their guns, will make them sit beside men praying on rugs, or eat kale. They have angry minds. Even better, they see their enemies. They live next door, the ones who stole the election from Trump and are leading the country to hell.

Meanwhile, our own mythology about the civic contract grows puny. Our negative reaction to Trump and to Trumpism will not sustain us as a belief potent enough to turn aside their paranoia. At least, I fear it won't. My own fear is more exhausting, has less sinew than theirs.

Yesterday in D.C.:

Friday, December 11, 2020

Virginia Foxx Joins Mob Attempting To Pressure the Supremes to Overturn a Fair, Free, and Sovereign Election


Part of the pressure campaign the Trumpists have mounted to force the US Supreme Court to declare Trump reelected is an amicus brief appended to the Texas lawsuit that seeks to overturn election results in Georgia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan so that Trump can win. Some 106 Republican members of Congress have signed onto that amicus brief, including Virginia Foxx of the 5th NC. 

Other NC congressmen also signing ... Dan Bishop, Ted Budd, Richard Hudson, Greg Murphy, David Rouzer. Republican holdouts: George Holding, Mark Walker, and Pat McHenry. The first two are lame ducks, but Patrick McHenry?  

Also the attorneys general from 18 Republican-led states have joined the push to solicit the court to dismiss the results in those four swing states that Biden won. Trump had those guys to lunch at the White House yesterday to celebrate their mutual mythology.

When one state (Texas, bless its heart) sues another state or states, the case can go directly to the Supreme Court without the usual stops in district and appellate courts. We might actually hear today what the Supremes think of this attempted overthrow -- either by the close of business or whenever Kavanaugh brings in the kegger, whichever comes first.

In all, some 20 states, along with the District of Columbia, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, have filed a motion calling on the high court to reject the Texas request as one of the silliest and most potentially destructive suits in the history of the Republic. Trump said all along that he wanted Amy Coney Barrett on the court to help the others simply anoint him per curiam.

That Virginia Foxx has signed on to this attempted demolition of the whole structure of the Republic should not be forgotten when she starts screaming about how God told her how sacred the Constitution is.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Alamance County: Black Lives Don't Matter All That Much. Neither Does Freedom of the Press


This monument to the Confederacy stands in front of the Alamance County Courthouse -- the old county courthouse, which is "historic." There's a newer county courthouse nearby that doesn't have a symbol of white supremacy erected in front of it.

The old courthouse is not just a museum piece. It's still used for hearings and trials. On Tuesday this week (Dec. 8), a hearing was held on the charges against a 52-year-old white woman who had a shouting match back and forth on West Harden Street in Graham city with two mouthy teenage girls of color -- one Black, one Hispanic -- shouting that at one point included apparently the phrase "Black 'hoes" -- and felt so infuriated by something the girls shouted back that she whipped her big dominator pickup truck around in a U-turn and aimed it like a missile at the two girls on the sidewalk, and hit the accelerator. The girls scattered while the 52-year-old white woman drove her truck up on the curb and then stopped.

A Graham city cop witnessed the whole thing. Don't know if the woman got clapped in irons right then, but the cop did swear out a warrant, and the district attorney charged the woman with felony attempted murder with a deadly weapon. This was back in August. It now seems pretty clear that the woman was trying to "discipline" the two mouthy teenagers by scaring the bejesus out of them -- rather than trying to outright kill them. The D.A. lowered the charges to misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon. The woman pleaded guilty. Sentenced on the spot by district court judge Fred Wilkins to two consecutive 60-day jail sentences (suspended). Also: "She will be on supervised probation for 12 months and must obtain a mental health/anger management evaluation and follow the recommended treatment. She is not to have any contact with the victims or their families and must pay court costs and a $1,000 fine" (News and Observer).

Judge Fred Wilkins is the lead player in what else happened in that courtroom on Tuesday. He's officially a retired district court judge, but like a lot of other retirees from the bench, he pinch hits all over the place. Wilkins is a native of Pennsylvania but got his law degree at Wake Forest. He was first elected to the bench in 1998 in Judicial District 17A (Rockingham). He served there until he was defeated for reelection in 2014, after which he promptly retired. He serves now as a "special" fill-in judge wherever he's needed.

Judge Wilkins apparently has a thing about the free press, in addition to believing in slaps on the wrist for dangerous white women in big honking trucks. The case of the truck driving woman threatening to kill two kids of color naturally attracted several news outlets, including the Raleigh News and Observer and WRAL, but Judge Wilkins decided ahead of time and sent his deputies out to inform whomever it might concern that no reporters would be allowed inside the courtroom for the pickup-driving woman's pleading. Only the week before, the press had been barred from a hearing over the sheriff's/Graham city police's handling of arrests at a Black Lives Matter protest in October. And the county has been notorious for a long time because of a notoriously racist and arrogant high sheriff. 

Thomas Boney Jr., out of handcuffs
but still being escorted from the
Alamance County Courthouse on Tuesday
On Tuesday the judge sent the word -- "No reporters allowed" -- and the news outlets protested, or rather asked to be heard by the judge on why their constitutional rights were being trampled on. The judge wouldn't hear them. When Alamance News publisher Tom Boney Jr. got inside the courtroom, he admitted he was a newspaperman there to observe court proceedings and wanted to present to the court a formal objection to barring the press, a document prepared by his lawyer. Judge Wilkins wasn't swayed. Boney lectured the judge that he couldn't under the Constitution close the courtroom to the people. "The courtroom is not closed,” the judge said, gesturing to the people in the room, who numbered more than two dozen, according to Boney. “It’s closed to you.”

When Boney refused to accept his imminent ouster, Judge Wilkins threatened contempt and ordered his sheriff's deputies to take Boney out. According to an eye-witness, the deputies scrambled like a SWAT team. Kristy Bailey, a reporter for the Alamance News, said she saw deputies take off running about the time Boney was removed from the courtroom. She was standing just inside the courthouse door. “Based on their reaction, I would have thought somebody had a gun,” Bailey said. Outside the courtroom, Boney was handcuffed "quite roughly" according to him

Newspaperman Tom Boney is an elderly man. Quite the dignified elder statesman (as well as ink-stained wretch). The Alamance News is known as a conservative rag and no friend to the Black Lives Matter movement. Boney's no wide-eyed liberal. He was standing up for a principle that crosses all aisles and for defending the Constitution.

After Boney finally agreed to leave the building -- at one point he had averred that he'd rather be shackled than leave the building he had every right to be in -- Judge Wilkins almost immediately sent word to uncuff him and let him go. 

It's not over. I believe I read that some of the barred media sites are appealing Judge Wilkins' action to a higher authority, but now I can't find that source. I have 42 tabs open on my computer.

The Black community in Alamance was already justifiably on edge before Tuesday. Leaders in the Black Lives Matter movement had been pepper-sprayed, and some of them arrested, at a George Floyd remembrance rally combined with a march to early voting back in October. Their leader, Rev. Greg Drumwright, got the cuffs slapped on, and now the legal establishment is trying to have him banned entirely from county property, especially the old courthouse where the Confederate statue still stands tall and proud.

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Biden Picks Fudge and Vilsack for HUD/Ag


Marcia L. Fudge, to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Fudge has been in Congress since 2008 representing the Ohio 11th. She was first appointed to the seat to finish out the term of the previous congresswoman, who died in office. Fudge has served in the past as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

She's a native of Cleveland and a graduate of the renown Shaker Heights High School. She has both a degree from Ohio State University and a J.D. from Cleveland State University. Fudge was the mayor of Warrensville Heights, a middle-class and mostly African American suburb of Cleveland, from January 2000 until November 18, 2008. Her 1999 campaign was her first run for any elected office. She was the town's first female and first African American to hold the mayorship.

According to the WashPost, "The next HUD secretary is expected to reverse policies under Trump administration secretary Ben Carson that have eviscerated Obama-era fair-housing protections and enforcement, protections for transgender homeless people, and legal standards meant to keep lenders, landlords and insurers from discriminating."

Tom Vilsack, to head the Department of Agriculture

Former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary would return him to a job he held during the Obama administration. According to the WashPost, "Vilsack’s planned nomination followed efforts by Black allies of Biden to derail the former governor. Some civil rights leaders had initially backed Fudge, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, for that job in hopes that she would transform the agency into one with more focus on farmworkers, food production and alleviating hunger."

"Some Black officials had objected to Vilsack having a role in the incoming administration because of his 2010 firing of Shirley Sherrod, an African American who was Georgia state director of rural development for the Agriculture Department, after a conservative news website posted selected excerpts from a speech she made that appeared to be racist. The full text of her speech made it clear her remarks had been taken out of context and she was offered another federal job.

"Biden and Vilsack share some political instincts. After Hillary Clinton lost her 2016 White House bid, Vilsack pitched Biden on his view that Democrats could not be a relevant political party if they kept losing rural areas by large margins. His argument was that Democrats need to spend more time in less populated centers and craft a message that appeals to them."


Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Jeff Jackson Considering a Run for Burr's US Senate Seat in 2022


NC Senate Democrat Jeff Jackson just announced in an email that he and his family are considering the potential for his running for the US Senate in 2022.

He'll be a strong candidate. He'll be able to raise the money. He'll have enthusiastic support in Watauga County.

He was just reelected to the NC Senate from a district in Mecklenburg County and has been something of a rising Democratic star in the General Assembly. Here's part of the email he sent:

So here’s what I’m going to do:

Marisa and I will talk about it with our kids over the holiday.

Family considerations come first - politics is second.

We have three kids - Haden (12), Owen (5), and Avery (2) - so meeting my obligation to them as a dad has to come first.

(Avery is also in the middle of potty training, and folks I can assure you that no one in this family is running for U.S. Senate until that essential task is complete.)

Marisa and I genuinely appreciate all of the support we’ve received in the last few weeks. We’ll update you after our family talks it over.

Biden To Name His Pick To Head DOD

Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, to be secretary of defense

Borrowed from the WashPost

Lloyd Austin, 67, rose to become a four-star general in the Army and retired in 2016 as the chief of U.S. Central Command, a role from which he oversaw U.S. military operations across the Middle East for three years. His tenure there included the rise of the Islamic State, which began seizing cities in Iraq in 2014, and the U.S.-led military intervention to stop it.

Austin’s selection will prompt a congressional debate over whether enough lawmakers would support a waiver from a law that mandates any service member must be out of uniform for at least seven years before being eligible to serve as defense secretary. The law is meant to ensure civilian control of the military.

The Trump administration obtained a similar waiver for former defense secretary Jim Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general, but it came at a time when many Republicans had taken themselves out of the running for the job by openly criticizing President Trump when he was a presidential candidate.

Biden has had a personal relationship with Austin and even attended the general’s 2010 change-of-command ceremony when Austin took over in Iraq. Biden, whose portfolio as vice president included Iraq, worked with him closely during the Obama administration.

Austin oversaw not only the Islamic State operations but also the withdrawal of U.S. operations in Iraq — a massive logistical undertaking that could be significant as the country endeavors to distribute a coronavirus vaccine, according to the person who requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Biden also was impressed by Austin’s barrier-breaking career in the military, which spanned about four decades and included being the first Black officer to command a division and the first Black officer to oversee a theater of war.


Monday, December 07, 2020

Biden Picks HHS Secretary and Director of CDC


Xavier Becerra, to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

A critical position in coalescing the Biden's administration fight against the coronavirus pandemic, HHS is one of the government’s largest departments, with several agencies within it that are crucial to the federal response to the pandemic, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Becerra is currently California Attorney General. He was originally appointed to that job when Kamala Harris won a seat in the Senate. Becerra was subsequently reelected in his own right. Before becoming California A.G., Becerra was a 24-year member of Congress.

It is said that Becerra has an unorthodox background for HHS secretary -- some were hoping that Biden would choose a doctor or someone with medical training -- but one Biden insider said "the president-elect chose him because he regarded the attorney general of the country’s most populous state as someone who has used that platform and earlier roles to expand access to health care." [WashPost]

During Trump's four years, Becerra has been among the most outspoken state attorneys general, leading coalitions of Democratic colleagues in challenges to the current administration’s policies on immigration, the environment and health care, suing the federal government more than 100 times since taking office.

Rochelle Walensky, to become director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Walensky, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, is also a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. She is well-respected for her work, including on the comparative effectiveness of treatment for HIV and AIDs.

Walensky received a B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis in 1991. She earned her M.D. from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1995, and then trained in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital until 1998. She then participated in the Massachusetts General Hospital/Brigham and Women's Hospital Infectious Diseases Fellowship Program, earning an M.P.H. from the Harvard School of Public Health in 2001.

On the theory of "herd immunity, she has said, "[The idea] is predicated on the idea that you know who is going to get sick and you can somehow isolate and protect them, but there is absolutely no evidence that we can do this .... No-one is suggesting that lockdowns should be the default position. They are a last resort. But if we just let the virus run free without mitigation strategies, such as masking, our hospitals will overflow and that would mean we would no longer be able to take care of the population's health across the board."


Sunday, December 06, 2020

Does Congresswoman Virginia Foxx Have COVID?


This announcement appeared in the Congressional Record last Thursday:

                          PERSONAL EXPLANATION


                           HON. VIRGINIA FOXX

                           of north carolina

                    in the house of representatives

                       Thursday, December 3, 2020

  Ms. FOXX of North Carolina. Madam Speaker, due to a test indicating a 
positive result for a COVID-19 infection during the most recent 
district work period, I was unable to travel to the Capitol to vote on 
December 2, 2020.
  Had I been present, I would have voted YEA on Roll Call No. 228.

That's some strange phrasing right there, folks: "due to a test" of whom? "indicated a positive result" for whom? "during the most recent district work period" -- while you were in Watauga County? So you're quarantining, Madam? Because you're infected with the virus?

Foxx missed a vote on December 3rd. There haven't been any votes in the US House since then. Foxx's official website doesn't say a word about this. Neither does her Facebook page, which is where Congresswomen sometimes like to make these kinds of announcements.

Don't the constituents in the 5th District deserve some explanation here?

Saturday, December 05, 2020

Donald Trump, Evermore -- We Can't Fish This Turd Out of the Punchbowl


We'll never be rid of him. Even after he leaves 1600 Penn Ave., he won't be gone. His great talent for wreckage will outlive the age. Also his ability to awaken in resentful people a bitter rage against those who he tells them are responsible for most injustices. His showmanship for those resentful people, taking a giant dump on every standard of our social contract, while defying the law mostly to enrich himself, has made him wildly popular with tens of millions of voters. Weird, right? But not really. Applauded by resentful people who are under blinding economic stress, often hopeless, to the point they're willing, even eager, to burn the whole place down. Or blow it the hell up! Just the sledgehammer alone that Trump took to every Obama program -- he made Washington psychically like a street in Aleppo that Syrian President Assad had gotten Putin to bomb the living shit out of. But his followers pick their way through the debris without even noticing it's there, or giving a good goddamn if they do see it.

Now, after January 20th, with Trump gone but ever a spectacle of heroic defiance against the deep-state actors who stole the election from him, the whole notion of constitutional government in the liberal/progressive tradition will still hang in the balance. Biden won't have the Senate (unless lightning strikes twice in Georgia a month from today). He'll have McConnell. Plus he'll have Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court. Trump says he'll run again in 2024, and that will keep Republican congressmen in line to throw clods at Trump enemies and refuse bipartisanship. Talk radio will glow like radium. And just the mere threat of Trump's running for president in 2024 will keep credible, moderate, sane Republicans out of the race. (Marco Rubio, I'm looking at you, and almost -- almost! -- shedding a tear.) Regression and racism will still shake the body politique.

Worse, from my rural North Carolina perspective, for the next four years, Trump will keep rural Republicans particularly juiced, waiting for The Second Coming, voting in the meantime against all Democrats for the sake of saving Christianity for the sake of saving America. In many Republican counties and districts, won't matter the two-headed Republican candidate. The more he horrifies the liberals the better. In other words, IMO it's going to be a brutal midterm in 2022 for Democrats, especially in the more rural and exurban congressional districts everywhere.

Try as I might, I can't see any other conclusion from the elections in North Carolina that doesn't spell a pretty disappointing outcome, not quite a disaster, since we still have governor and attorney general and veto-sustaining numbers in both House and Senate, but the failure of my blue wave to take either House or Senate in North Carolina or the US Senate either, and the loss of several good souls from the General Assembly and the loss of Cheri Beasley at the Supreme Court, these defeats leave me numb.

Twitterman's tens of millions of followers/adherents/street-fighters, who really can't tell a hawk from a handsaw and who now don't believe in an inclusive Republic nor in most of its standards and traditions, will not want to participate in any rebuilding better of what has been demolished. And they'll have the numbers to roll over any progressive Democrat.

Friday, December 04, 2020

The Body Count -- White House Coms Director Alyssa Farah


A Reoccurring Feature On Who's Jumping Off Luxury Liner Trump

White House communications director Alyssa Farah resigned from her post Thursday after 3½ years in the Trump administration.

Farah, 31, began her White House tenure as press secretary under Vice President Pence before joining the Defense Department as press secretary last September, and she returned to the White House as communications director in April. She is the first person to serve in these three roles in one administration, and the youngest Pentagon press secretary.

Farah’s departure, with little over a month remaining in President Trump’s administration, amounts to a tacit acknowledgment that — despite his baseless and dangerous claims to the contrary — Trump lost the 2020 election, and much of his team is now pondering their post-White House future.

NC's Voter Photo ID Law, Resurrected by the 4th Circuit

I can't be everywhere all the time, and I'm thankful for Jeffrey Billman and his Primer/North Carolina email newsletter for catching this action. I'm copying him here blatantly: 

Just in time for, um, next year’s municipal elections, the state’s voter ID law—passed in late 2018—is back. Yesterday, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court decision blocking the law, ruling that we have to give the NC General Assembly the benefit of the doubt:

The outcome hinges on the answer to a simple question: How much does the past matter? To the district court, the North Carolina General Assembly’s recent discriminatory past was effectively dispositive of the Challengers’ claims here. But the Supreme Court directs differently. A legislature’s past acts do not condemn the acts of a later legislature, which we must presume acts in good faith.

This isn’t the end of the road for opponents, as WRAL explains:

“This decision dealt with an injunction blocking implementation of the requirement, but a full trial on the constitutionality of that requirement is still to come in federal court. A separate lawsuit was also filed targeting this law at the state court level, and there’s a third lawsuit targeting multiple amendments to the state constitution, including voter ID. All three cases remain active.”