Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Rep. Cawthorn, "An Unrepentant Moron," Sez Brent Woodcox


Brent Woodcox, standing, watches as
Sen. Ralph Hise directs the drawing
of a district map

The 11th CD Congressman Madison Cawthorn's lives solely to arouse his Trumpist donor-base, and he did a sufficient job of that last Sunday in Macon County, where he told the GOP faithful a number of things that have made him, once again, political buffoon of the week:

He claimed that elections in the United States are “rigged” and said there will be “bloodshed” if the country’s electoral system continues on its current path.

He suggested that he was prepared to take up arms against his fellow Americans if necessary to combat voter fraud.

He repeated his call for President Biden’s Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Biden from office and said that Vice President Harris should be removed, as well.

He told the crowd, “I will remove Joe Biden from office, and then, when Kamala Harris inevitably screws up, we will take them down, one at a time.”

Cawthorn also used the terms “political prisoners” and “political hostages” to describe those who were arrested in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

He apparently raises heaps of money with this kind of talk, which is what he cares about, but he also drew the rebuke of Republican power-operative Brent Woodcox, who tweeted last night:

It’s time for more Republicans to start speaking out against this unrepentant moron. It’s one thing to peddle conspiracy theories on Facebook to try to raise money from the gullible. This is dangerous incitement of a potential civil war. This BS will get people killed.

Aside from the fact that Woodcox is correct -- it is dangerous talk by an adolescent-brained sexual predator who's taking himself waaay too seriously -- Woodcox's criticism comes with some serious throw-weight, representing the most powerful Republican in the state, namely Senate President Pro-Tem Phil Berger, for whom Woodcox has worked and with whom he has collaborated on such projects as the redder redistricting of the state. Currently, Woodcox is Senior Policy Counselor at the NC General Assembly.

"Unrepentant moron." That's harsh. Also apt.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Madison Cawthorn and the Limits of Narcissism


Twitter was buzzing this morning about new video of Rep. Madison Cawthorn speaking at a Macon County GOP gathering, praising January 6th arrestees as "political prisoners," and promising mysterious further action. A man in the crowd wearing a Trump hat asks, “When are you going to call us to Washington again?” He was alluding to Cawthorn's role in juicing up the mob at the January 6th rally before the storming of the Capitol. According to Wendy Nevarez, a Republican challenger to Cawthorn in next spring's Republican primary (who also posted some of the video of Cawthorn speaking), "Madison looks worried but his answer is more worrisome: 'We are actively working on that. I don’t have an answer for you right now.' 'We have some plans in motion I can’t make public right now.' ”

If Madison Cawthorn, who couldn't get through freshman English, is in charge of planning the next insurrection, then I suspect we'll be all right.

Madison Cawthorn in Macon County yesterday.
Note the gun. And the total absence of masks.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Cheri Beasley's New Campaign Manager


Travis Brimm

Since August 9th (when Senate candidate Cheri Beasley's top campaign and money managers quit), we've been wondering "Whither, Judge Beasley," and as of Friday, we have a better idea, because on August 27th, veteran political operative Travis Brimm announced on Twitter that he was coming "back home" to manage the Beasley campaign.

Trimm's work for Democratic candidates goes back almost ten years, and he's had his share of soul-testing defeats (Dan McCready, 2018; Richard "Otter" Bew, 2019, written about on this blog). The "advisory" role he had with McCready (according to Linkedin) raises my interest, since Brimm's political instincts might slide toward the militantly middle-of-the-road, which can become a worry for generating voter excitement. 

(Commenters have already noticed how Beasley intends to play it -- bland, non-threatening, moderate.)

More recently, Brimm was Joe Biden's state director for his 2020 Democratic primary win, and Brimm went on immediately from that to manage Democrat Ben Ray Luhan's successful 2020 US Senate win in New Mexico.

In other words, Brimm is successful enough to know exactly who he's going to be working for in 2022: Mississippi Governor Ned Lamont has already chosen Brimm to manage his reelection campaign. (Brimm's a native of Mississippi.)

We'll hide and watch what happens now.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Authoritarianism Advances On Little Cat Feet in North Carolina


Sit down and shut up

The bill that limits what can be taught about the nation's racial past in public schools, designed to ensure teachers don't "indoctrinate" students, was approved by the state Senate yesterday along party lines. Talk about indoctrination. The Republicans in the NC Senate, and pretty much everywhere else, have been indoctrinated to believe that any history that makes them uncomfortable must be a communist plot.

On Tuesday night, the state Senate passed HB 805, the "Prevent Rioting and Civil Disorder" bill, on a 25–19 partisan vote, a law -- let's face it! -- which is a reaction to Black people's reaction to our racist past. A riot is defined as a public disturbance involving three or more people “which by disorderly and violent conduct, or the imminent threat of disorderly and violent conduct, results in injury or damage to persons or property or creates a clear and present danger of injury or damage to persons or property.”

Three or more people. If they also happen to be Black, that's a clear and present danger, O my brethren! And they don't even have to be destroying the local police station. If someone -- who? -- decides they are "a clear and present danger," then Katie bar the door. Bring on the SWAT team!

Jeffrey Billman has published a fully fleshed dissertation on everything that's just wrong about this bill.

What's clear is that the Republican leadership in this state intends to disciple the rest of us about what we think and about how we react to the injustices they dish out.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Failure Will Not Be Tolerated


The report detailing the conclusions of a GOP-backed review of ballots cast last year in Arizona has been delayed after the chief executive of the private company conducting the widely pilloried audit and two other members of his team tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Cyber Ninjas who have been "auditing" the Arizona election that happened nine months ago keep delaying their report. Originally, it was going to take three weeks from the start date back in March. Then it was due to be turned in last week. Which was then delayed to yesterday. Now, conveniently -- isn't it great when a plague saves your ass from embarrassment! -- the Cyber Ninjas are claiming COVID COVID COVID as a reason for having nothing to show.

Don't you know that all their enthusiasm for uncovering massive voter fraud in Arizona, and the sweaty enthusiasm of the Trumpists who are waiting so expectantly for those results, has come to naught, has turned up exactly zilch, and they simply can't bring themselves to admit it to the public. Don't you know that in the marrow of your bones?

Perhaps they'll never admit it. Perhaps they'll keep the Trumpists waiting indefinitely for the rapture. Judging from the boos Trump got in Alabama for going off-script about vaccinations, the retribution dealt out by true believers for failure to prove the election was stolen may put us in mind of what the Inquisition did to heretics in late-15th Century Spain.

We can only hope.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Nathaniel Fischer Redistricts NC


Boone native, Watauga H.S. and UNC-Chapel Hill graduate, Nathaniel Fischer won his category (U.S. congressional districts) in a national contest sponsored by the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, a public education effort to promote fair redistricting. According to the NandO this morning, Nate's winning map beat 130 other entries.

It won because his rendering (above) of a new 14-district North Carolina would preserve "communities of interest" -- groups of people in one area who have common political, social, or economic interests. "North Carolina’s redistricting standards discourage splitting those communities between districts." But splitting people up for political advantage is exactly what gerrymandering is, and the NCGOP hired experts to split plenty after the 2010 Census, and they will be expert at it again, soon. It won't matter that those post-2010 districts got thrown the hell out by multiple courts.

Watauga County in the make-believe above (top lime-green block on the left) would be moved into the 11th CD. Yikes (but a good "yikes") -- Madison Cawthorn! So pleased to make your acquaintance! Goodbye, Virginia!

Given a cool late Summer evening, outside with an iced beverege, you could get drunk on that whole scenario. Watauga and Buncombe, together at last!

Here's the heart of Fischer's computering: He estimates that his map would likely favor Democrats in five districts and Republicans in seven, with two as true swing districts. [Would love to learn more! Call your agent, Nate.] Even on a fair map, he said, Democrats are at a disadvantage because they tend to be concentrated in urban areas. “Their population distribution is inefficient,” he said.

(Making Democrats "efficient" will be a tall order! But I'd pay admission for Nate's extended explanation of "population distribution is inefficient.")

It's too bad that a fair map that won an award for its logic will be wholly ignored by Berger/Miller and their lieutenants. 'Cause they're about to dance all over fairness with their own new ideas for how to best use 14 new districts.

Nathaniel Fischer -- Redistricting Nerd

Friday, August 20, 2021

The Newest Domestic Terrorist Is From Cleveland County


Floyd Ray Roseberry of Grover, NC, in Cleveland County, not far from Shelby, drove his big black pickup onto the sidewalk in front of the Library of Congress yesterday morning, announced to a Capitol policeman that he had a bomb in the truck, and caused a complete shutdown of Capitol Hill and the evacuation of many government buildings including House office buildings. The standoff lasted for almost five hours before Roseberry surrendered. There was no bomb.

He professed himself the enemy of Joe Biden, the friend of Donald Trump, said the revolution is here now, and told police that there were other bombers also in the vicinity.

In a Facebook livestream aimed at President Biden, Roseberry said, ”I’m all ready to die for the cause. And brother, if you could do anything to save one life, one life, you said you’d do it. Well, you got a chance. I want to go home. I want to go home and see my wife."

He left home and wife on Wednesday, saying he was going fishing.

“We’re living in a free country, Joe. The choice is yours. If you want to shoot me and take the chance of blowing up two-and-a-half city blocks, 'cause that tool box is full, ammonium nitrate is full.

“I don’t want to die, Joe. I want to go home, just like the people of Afghanistan want to go home. All them dead people are on your hands, too.”

What people of Afghanistan he was referring to is unclear, since the ones we're seeing these days are very much trying to leave their home.

Rep. Mo Brooks, who is already being sued for inciting the insurrectionists on January 6th, couldn't conceal his glee that more domestic terrorism was playing out at his workplace. From Alabama, Brooks issued a statement which said in part, “Although this terrorist’s motivation is not yet publicly known, and generally speaking, I understand citizenry anger directed at dictatorial Socialism and its threat to liberty, freedom and the very fabric of American society. The way to stop Socialism’s march is for patriotic Americans to fight back in the 2022 and 2024 elections. I strongly encourage patriotic Americans to do exactly that more so than ever before.”

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Population Gains and Losses in North Carolina


From such data are redistricting nightmares made.

Deanna Ballard and Ray Pickett Used As Bait


Travis Fain, reporting for WRAL:

Ray Pickett. 

...Greater Carolina is a 501(c)(4), one of several "dark money" groups that can raise unlimited cash without identifying donors. It sent invites to lobbyists and others in the General Assembly orbit, inviting them to the Sept. 2 game between East Carolina University and Appalachian State University, which will be played in Charlotte.... 

For $1,000, donors can attend a pre-game tailgate with an open bar and food from a "double decker tailgate unit" ....

For $5,000, Greater Carolina throws in tickets to the game. For $10,000, donors also get two tickets to a stadium suite where Sens. Deanna Ballard, R-Watauga, Todd Johnson, R-Union, and Dave Craven, R-Randolph, will watch the game, along with Reps. Ray Pickett, R-Watauga, David Willis, R-Union, Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, and Matthew Winslow, R-Franklin.

So for a mere $10,000, you can watch Ray Pickett and Deanna Ballard watch a football game. 


Wednesday, August 18, 2021

When Is 'Desperation' a Defense for Stealing?


Short answer: When you're a white Republican male:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A former North Carolina state lawmaker was sentenced Tuesday to probation and ordered to pay a fine for an unlawful scheme to siphon campaign dollars to his family farm.

David Lewis, the former chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee and author of Republican redistricting plans during the 2010s, had pleaded guilty to two counts nearly a year ago. He resigned from the General Assembly the same day the accusations and the plea agreement became public.

U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn sentenced Lewis to two years of supervised release, which is similar to probation, and a $1,000 fine, according to information provided by the U.S. attorney's office in Charlotte.

Federal prosecutors recommended in May that he receive no prison time. Lewis' attorneys had made a similar request, writing at the time that his wrongdoing was “an act of desperation rather than greed.”

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Stupid Is As Stupid Does -- Take Two


Rep. Madison Cawthorn, who's currently inserting himself into public school decisions in the counties in his 11th Congressional District, appeared at the Transylvania County school board meeting last night to rally idiot parents in demanding no masking in Transylvania County schools. Cawthorn's presence at the meeting certainly raised the temperature, as he has made himself a leader among Trumpist idiots. He was there on the Washington Ellipse on January 6th to incite the mob, so inciting idiots at a school board meeting was an easy lift.

The school board caved and kept masks optional.

Superintendent Dr. Jeff McDaris had made a last-minute decision Sunday night to require masks for the first day of school yesterday. "He said he thought he needed to do that because of multiple COVID-19 cases among students and staff. McDaris even said education leaders were worried they may not have enough staff available for the first day of school."

Monday, August 16, 2021

Stupid Is As Stupid Does


It's not just extremism that defines the Trumpist Republican Party. It's stupidity with life-threatening consequences.

The two Republican members of the Wake County Board of Education voted for mandatory masks in public schools, so they are being threatened with censure. The Wake County Republican Party’s Executive Committee has scheduled a special meeting tonight in Raleigh to consider a censure motion against Karen Carter and Roxie Cash. The Executive Committee demanded that the two SB members show up tonight for a good old beltline. The two SB members declined.

“I’m here for the students of our district, the families of our district,” Carter said in an interview. “I want to make sure that in-person continues. With the health guidance that we’ve gotten from the ABC Science Collaborative, Wake Public Health and CDC, they’re all recommending masks. I’m here to consider all that and not just to be doing what a party tells me what I ought to do.”

In a moment of rare clarity, the Wake GOP Executive Committee last night decided against censuring the two school board members. The same party leaders had earlier encouraged parent groups to organize outside the school board's administrative building and pressure members to "free the smiles," or vote against the mask mandate.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Three Boone Town Council Candidates Come Out Against Masking


Benjamin Ray, who's running for Boone Town Council as a Republican, came out on Facebook with a post that said among other things, "Our current council (once again) wants to go backwards and enforce stricter Covid mandates/rules than our own governor has for the state (rules that will likely hurt our recovering local businesses)." The Town Council had announced an upcoming special session on the masking issue, and Ray knew it was coming. Two other town council candidates, Eric Woolridge and Adrian Tait, both registered as "Unaffiliated," signed on to Ray's strange campaign letter.

On August 6th, three days after Ray's Facebook post, the Boone Town Council did reimpose a masking mandate for indoor businesses. Jennifer Greene of the Appalachian Health department supported the move -- she had opposed the first masking mandate last year -- and so did the leader of the local Boone Area Chamber of Commerce:

"Before the members discussed the mask mandate, AppHealthCare Health Director Jennifer Greene provided a COVID-19 update and answered questions from council members. She said that the county is starting to see the level of cases similar to what the county experienced in the spring and that the cases picked up at the end of July."

Boone Area Chamber of Commerce CEO and President David Jackson also spoke on the potential impact on businesses. He said that some businesses — The Cardinal, Lily’s Snackbar and Speakeasy Tattoo Co. — are already mandating masks for customers and employees.

“I have been encouraged to hear more employers around here, providing good information about vaccines to their employees,” Jackson said.

He also heard from businesses that said it’s not tenable for staff to enforce mask wearing by patrons who refuse to do so, but it would be easier if they had town orders to back them up.

“Our message since the end of the (state executive order) has been to keep a mask in your pocket and know that if a business requires it, you must comply or face not being able to visit that business,” Jackson said.


Democracy Just Isn't Working for the SOBs


The evidence is everywhere. If they're beaten at the polls, they immediately yell voter fraud, because, Gawd knows, they could not have lost otherwise. Sometimes they yell fraud even when they win (see photo). Sometimes when they actually lose at the polls, they stage a violent takeover.

Rep. Keith Kidwell, right, member of
the NC House from Beaufort/Craven.
He has demanded access to the state's
voting machines, alleging there was fraud
in NC that attempted to benefit Democrats

Or they ensure they'll never lose at the polls, carefully sectioning district maps to their advantage. Right now the Republican witch-hunters in the NC General Assembly are figgering how best to dilute the urban vote by slicing and dicing hunks of it to pair with deep-red rural pockets that are frankly less and less enamored of democracy anyway, They feel put-upon by a contemptuous majority that no longer promotes their religious values, and they want a theocracy.

Or they enshrine rule by the minority in the US Senate, so that the majority rarely wins and voter rights can't be defended. Effing filibuster.

The majority of us oppose them, in aggregate nationally at least and in some city pockets of North Carolina and in some counties where there's a university. But we're going to suffer at their hands for another ten years before the next Census, and we're going to see new mechanisms of torture, and we have to save democracy. They're going to gerrymander us to death. They're going to make it harder and harder to vote, and where they can, they are taking over the actual power to count the vote, tabulate it, and announce the results. Trump taught them how to get on the phone and say, find me 11,780 more votes, and when the elections official said no, the Georgia legislature passed a law so that only they -- the Republican majority in the state lege -- will get to say who won.

We have to save democracy. The only way I see to do it is to register more people and get them participating in their right to express an opinion. And give them candidates they want to vote for.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Watauga BOE Reverses Its Masking Policy for Public Schools


Yesterday, the Watauga County Board of Education reversed its 3-2 vote on July 26 to make masking in public schools optional, voting unanimously for a mask mandate for all students and staff, starting immediately.

Congresswoman Virginia Foxx did not show up to lecture the board that they were taking away the freedoms of Americans, nor was there a storm cloud of angry anti-masking parents in attendance to yell and shut down the meeting -- unlike, in other words, the scene at the Buncombe County Board of Education, which voted a similar policy and which drew the in-person fulminations of Congressman Madison Cawthorn.

Monday, August 09, 2021

Barack Obama's "A Promised Land"


I confess that I came to Obama's new book with some ... grudges ... because of my disappointment in his presidency. He had excited me in 2007 and 2008 like few others, and I worked hard for his election. But what happened to him happened in Washington, already inhabited before Obama got there with hostile tribes invested with power. President Obama was too big a gentleman -- and too insecure -- to be the strong man sonofabitch I thought we needed in Washington. (Too many guys back in those days still thought "bipartisan" was a thing.) 

Obama was no pusher and shover. He was not LBJ. He did not capitalize on the veto-proof majority that came in with him in 2008 when he could have, and should have, and he got whacked anyway over what was actually a weak health reform. Yes, a weak reform like Obamacare wrecked the Congressional Democrats in the 2010 midterms. After that rout, Obama faced an overwhelmingly white and jerkily male political party -- the Eisenhower Republican Party having now purposely transformed into approximately the North Carolina Democratic Party of 1898. The big power muscles that Obama should have earned by right, by precedent, in that election of 2008 got rarely flexed and seemed to atrophy like any unused sinew. 

So I started reading "A Promised Land" (the first of what will be two volumes of autobiography), having previously psychoanalyzed my president endlessly and --need I say? -- to my utter satisfaction. I had decided that he'd spent so much of his life pleasing and negotiating with and around white people that he instinctively bent rather than risk a break. It's one thing to be the first Black president, at the putative top of the white world. It's another if you're always on a balance beam of racial doubt. Insecurity leads to hesitation, leads to getting rolled.

Obama readily admits to “a deep self-consciousness. A sensitivity to rejection or looking stupid.” Very early in the book, I encountered this:

...was I still trying to prove myself worthy to a father who had abandoned me, live up to my mother's starry-eyed expectation of her only son, and resolve whatever self-doubt remained from being born a child of mixed race? "It's like you have a hole to fill," Michelle had told me early in our marriage.... (p. 71)

I wanted to be neither a supplicant, always on the periphery of power and seeking favor from liberal benefactors, nor a permanent protester, full of righteous anger as we waited for white America to expiate its guilt. (p. 118)

...the constant need to soften for white folks' benefit the blunt truths about race in this country.... (p. 121)

In other words, I consider my prior diagnosis of Obama's cultural insecurity as essentially confirmed by the bits of autopsy that Obama generously performs on himself in written form. (My reading of "A Promised Land" will be superseded, I hope, by the eventual HBO mini-series. Have fun casting it in your head!)

His frankness and his insight made me occasionally laugh out loud:

...we [Black officialdom] had grown skilled at suppressing our reactions to minor slights, ever ready to give white colleagues the benefit of the doubt, remaining mindful that all but the most careful discussions of race risked triggering in them a mild panic. (p. 398)

He knows the name of the beast, but he will not let himself write "racist" (though he comes close):

It was as if my very presence in the White House had triggered a deep-seated panic, a sense that the natural order had been disrupted. Which is exactly what Donald Trump understood when he started peddling assertions that I had not been born in the United States and was thus an illegitimate president. For millions of Americans spooked by a Black man in the White House, he promised an elixir for their racial anxiety. (p. 672)

I enjoyed all 700 pages of this big book. Obama was and is a good man, if ultimately scarred by his environment, and I like him better, respect him more, after reading "A Promised Land." He's a good writer. He's funny, he's generous, he's often aching with the pain of a toss-up decision he had to make, but he's a good father, and like any good father -- or like your most gifted professor of history -- he's great at explaining complicated stuff. His several pages on the long epic of the Jewish resettlement of Palestine totally engrossed me, for one example.

He's also self-aware in a way that might make any man insecure:

....they [my super-excited supporters in the early days of the campaign] had taken possession of my likeness and made it a vessel for a million different dreams. I knew a time would come when I would disappoint them, falling short of the image that my campaign and I had helped to construct. (p. 136)

That's a considerable irony, that the biracial man who'd "experienced what it was like not to be fully seen inside my own country," ends up the star of the show, in the spotlight and existing as a not quite accurate meme constructed specifically to lodge comfortably inside the heads of white liberals. 

What's Going On in the Cheri Beasley Campaign?


I troll the InnerTubes constantly, and I have to say that I totally missed the following headline four days ago: "Cheri Beasley’s campaign manager, finance director quit" (AP). And I've seen no chatter about it whatsoever among political types. But didn't I think, "Uh-oh. Trouble"? 

Beasley's been invisible while Jeff Jackson has been drawing big crowds at his 100-county speaking tour, but Beasley's fundraising has been strong (so that's where she's been: on the phone). She raised $1.28 million through the end of June.

But it's not a good look to have two such senior staffers abandoning the campaign in such close proximity to one another.

Sunday, August 08, 2021

How They Run: Mark Walker, Odd Man Out


Here are some recent campaign themes from ex-Congressman Mark Walker's social media (Twitter and Facebook):

His Twitter bio: "Conservative Champion. Bridge Builder. Running for US Senate. Fmr. Pastor and Member of Congress serving all people of North Carolina." We might add, "Thought he had the conservative, especially Christian conservative base sewn up. Then Trump anoints Ted Budd."

So there's maybe a little desperation in the Walker camp? A new video spot, painfully staged, has Walker striding up to the abandoned F. W. Woolworth's in Greensboro, where the famous "Greensboro Sit-in" happened, where he coaxes Clarence Henderson (who was not in the first wave at the sit-in but in the 2nd wave and who nevertheless is now an elderly gentleman) to endorse him on camera. It's actually painful to watch Henderson struggle with his lines, none of which come off as remotely authentic to the man, but, you know, "Bridge Builder" (see above) ... get it? Video also features super-Christian and former guv of Arkansas, Mike Huckaby. The message: "Mark Walker, Christian champion ... He Ain't Scary." Last I looked, this video was pinned to the top of Walker's Twitter feed

(I wonder if Walker's main attack on Ted Budd will be the implication that he is scary and whatever the opposite of bridge-building benevolent white guy praising a significant moment from the past in the Black struggle for equality. Budd's a gun-toting Trump clone wannabe, while Walker positions himself as the softer, more religiously pious alternative. Hmmm. That can't possibly work in the Trump era, can it?

Another recent Walker as talking-head video contained the weirdest attack on Thom Tillis as a way to attack Ted Budd. What? And by the way, Walker opposes the so-called "bipartisan" infrastructure bill because it's what's for breakfast if you're a Republican conservative.

Walker, like Ted Budd incidentally and clearly veering off the "Bridge Builder" image, bashes Rep. Cori Bush, the woman-of-color-as-conservative-punching-bag-of-the-week. Wonder how Clarence Henderson (see above) might feel about that wedge.

Yes, and there's the persistent paranoia that liberal Socialist dictators in this country will use the government to hype the bogus threat of COVID in order to scare the people into giving up their "freedoms." 

He posts a FoxNews.com article on why China should be sanctioned and stripped of hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics, because of "human rights violations, religious persecutions, & the deadliest systematic cover-up in history" (he means the Wuhan laboratory-grown virus that escaped and caused a Pandemic -- just one of the Trump-inspired conspiracy theories growing like weeds).


Walker seemed shunted aside after Trump tromped into NC to endorse Budd, but he looks to be hanging in there in the money chase. As a draw for religious conservatives, he could actually give McCrory the advantage, as he and Budd could divide the hard-right while McCrory grabs the more moderate middle and squeaks out a win.

Saturday, August 07, 2021

How They Run: Ted Budd, Trump's Boy

Here are some recent campaign themes from Congressman Ted Budd's social media (Twitter and Facebook):

Let's get one thing straight immediately: Ted Budd takes a dim view of any new masking mandates. On July 30, he posted this: "The Biden administration brought back mask mandates without showing the American people compelling data. DC liberals have politicized our institutions and broken our trust." Maybe DC liberals are screwing up the whole wide world and all the adjoining planets, but continuing to politicize the practical benefits of masking tells me a ton about Budd's intelligence and/or the way he manipulates the intelligence of his low-information constituents.

And of course, like Ron DeSantis and even poor Pat McCrory, he wants to tie vaccinations and mask mandates to a supposed crisis on the Southern border: "Nancy Pelosi is more interested in forcing fully vaccinated staff & visitors to wear masks than stopping COVID-positive illegal aliens from flooding across the border. Absurd." If you're a conservative Republican, you pass up no chance to stir up racial resentment.

Unlike Pat McCrory's Facebook and Twitter, which are identical in content, Budd's Facebook news feed is different from his Twitter feed. On Facebook, he harps much more on illegal immigration, for one thing, and passes up no opportunity to bash President Biden, but he also shows himself visiting with businesses and constituents in his congressional district. Blessedly, there are few reminders of Donald Trump. Perhaps at one point Budd had the Trump endorsement pinned to the top of his Facebook feed, but it's not there now.

I don't really grok the conservative affection for cryptocurrency, but Budd shares an interview he did with Breitbart News in which he signals his opposition to the infrastructure bill because it proposes a tax on cryptocurrency.

I'll say this: Budd's social media is more entertaining than Pat McCrory's because Budd is an authentic conservative and energetic in promoting those causes, while McCrory is an inauthentic copy of a conservative. Budd posts on all sorts of topics -- abortion to "critical race theory" to Biden's budget, especially singling out unemployment benefits that low-wage employers are blaming for the current labor shortage in the fast food industry. The overall impression is that Budd has plenty of energy to engage, while Pat McCrory is mainly hiding out.

And thus far, Budd is not trying to smear or characterize his three main Democratic rivals. 

Friday, August 06, 2021

How They Run: Pat McCrory, Chameleon


Here are some recent campaign themes from Pat McCrory's social media (Facebook and Twitter, mirror images of one another):

Still needing the Trumpists --Trump publicly pissed in his face -- the ex-governor knows the odds against him in the primary if the conservatives coalesce, so he puts out paint-by-numbers conservative boilerplate, like stringing together "Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and George Soros" in the same sentence, alleging they're the trio spending "MILLIONS" to propagate the "radical liberal agenda." (What? No "Socialism"?) Your standard wall-papering over the "moderate" Republican candidate's lack of passion for the culture wars.

Fighting to stay relevant after the Trump diss, McCrory has challenged his two Republican rivals to three debates before the primary. Mark Walker immediately agreed, but Ted Budd, the Trump honoree, hasn't, and McCrory is obliged to spread that news.

Most interesting (cause Pat McCrory ain't at heart no mean man), he tries going "full Ron DeSantis," scapegoating immigrants on the Southern border as the real causes of disease. McCrory shared a Fox News posting: "WH dodges question on why vaccinated Americans must wear masks while infected migrants [are] released into Texas town." That's inflammatory, guaranteed to raise the race temperature of Trumpists, where it's always burned hot.

In fact, the Southern border constitutes a "National Security Crisis." McCrory currently harps most on that meme: "President Biden and Vice President Harris, get to the border - we can't keep ignoring this National Security Crisis!" he said in a video posted yesterday. In a separate post he returned to the theme, naming the main three Democratic candidates as sharing in blame: "There is a crisis on our Southern Border - and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris refuse to admit it. Why won't Erica Smith, Jeff Jackson, or Cheri Beasley speak out about this National Security Disaster?!"

What is the disaster, exactly? Could it be no more complicated than brown people weaponized as a threat to white supremacy and a distraction to the real facts of the case, that it's anti-VAX and anti-mask Americans who are spreading disease willy-nilly across the landscape?

Also recently, McCrory tested "Joe Biden's inflation" as a thing, a hobby-horse he might ride like other Republican candidates -- the high price of gas as a sign of Biden's failed administration. It's bogus, and anyway, it's a weak punch that lands like overcooked pasta. McCrory nevertheless has learned to throw in the Democrats to share in the blame: "Why won't Jeff Jackson, Erica Smith, or Cheri Beasley speak out on this?!"

Bless his heart, McCrory's trying! But the impression remains that he doesn't have actual passions for policy positions. He has a passion for pleasing, especially the country-club one percent. 

Thursday, August 05, 2021

A New NC Gerrymander Is Coming! Only Our Courts Can Protect Us


The Republican boss who loves
red-lining Democrats

The U.S. Census Bureau will release by August 16 in-depth demographic statistics from the 2020 Census that will be used to redraw legislative voting districts in North Carolina. We already know that North Carolina will gain one US Congressional seat, our 14th.

In other words, you're about to witness gerrymandering by the Republican majority in the North Carolina General Assembly like you've never seen it before, as they jigger those Census blocks to give Republicans 10 of those 14 Congressional districts. Take that to the bank.

And you can expect that several of those Democrats elected to the General Assembly in the 2018 Blue Wave and in the 2020 Trump backlash will find their districts malformed into reelection nightmares. Several will probably be double-bunked with fellow Democrats to ensure building the Republican majorities. Republicans love double-bunking Democrats, because there's nothing more rejuvenating than the howls of your mortally wounded enemies. Right?

The other great fun for Republican map-drawers will be figuring out how to dilute the state's urban vote by carving up neighborhoods in our cities and pairing them with adjacent deep-red rural areas.

The last defense against these dark arts will be the state's courts. In 2019, after the US Supremes declined to invalidate new NC maps for partisan gerrymandering, a three-judge superior court panel nevertheless struck down Republican redistricting maps for NC House and Senate seats, declaring that they violated the North Carolina state constitution’s provisions for free elections, free speech, and equal protection: 

"In the first state court decision since the U.S. Supreme Court declined to rule on partisan gerrymandering, three Wake County judges ruled that the GOP-controlled legislature had with 'surgical precision' diluted the value of Democratic votes to ensure that the Republican Party would win majorities in both legislative chambers 'in all but the most unusual election scenarios.' The court gave the legislature two weeks to create new nonpartisan district maps for the 2020 election. In a 350-page ruling, the judicial panel found that 'the 2017 enacted maps, as drawn, do not permit voters to freely choose their representative, but rather representatives are choosing voters based upon sophisticated partisan sorting.' Republican state Senate leader Phil Berger, a key architect of the redistricting plan, decried the court’s decision as an attempt to 'game' the redistricting process but signaled that GOP lawmakers would abide by the decision and carry it out.

You think that Berger and his boys have had a change of their stripes because some North Carolina judges called them out in 2019 for violating the state's constitution? I doubt it, but like any depression-prone progressive, I still have to believe that maybe the courts will stand in the breach again next year.

Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Cawthorn, Secretary of Ignoring the 11th Dist. of NC


Mary Papenfuss, in HuffPost:

Photos posted by right-wing Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) are triggering speculation that he could be part of a mysterious shadow “cabinet” in Donald Trump’s pretend presidency recently exposed by former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. 


The photo Cawthorn posted of the "shadow cabinet" meeting


Cawthorn tweeted photos of himself at a conference room table at Trump’s Bedminster golf club in New Jersey with the former president and “business leaders.”

“On Saturday, I hosted a round table with special guest [former] President Donald Trump and several key business leaders to create a path forward to victory for the country and to provide election security nationwide,” Cawthorn tweeted.

The “roundtable” also apparently doubled as a $50,000-a-head fundraiser for Cawthorn.

Meadows revealed in a Newsmax interview that he and “President Trump” were meeting with unidentified “cabinet members” to discuss “plans to move forward in a real way.”

He refused to detail the plans. Nor did Meadows identify the “cabinet members.” It was not clear if they were Trump’s former cabinet members from when he actually was president or part of some new panel assembled by Trump and Meadows.


Sunday, August 01, 2021

It's August! Trump Is Supposed To Return in Glory


Mike Lindell, the foam pillow guy, boldly proclaimed August 13th as the date for The Return. Trump himself, uncharacteristically cautious, said it would be sometime in August. But Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who never heard a conspiracy theory she didn't immediately parrot, left the reservation: "It's going to be very difficult to overturn the 2020 election, and so I'd hate for anyone to get their hopes up thinking that President Trump is going to be back in the White House in August. Because that's not true."

To be clear, the addled true believers have offered several movable dates when the Great Switcheroo was supposed to happen ... January 20th, March 4th. Some claimed that Jan. 20 would be the day of “Great Awakening” or “The Storm” when Trump would expose the supposed cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophile cannibal elites and declare martial law, meaning he would remain in power, and leading to mass arrests and executions of top Democrats or other supposed members of the cabal. Seriously. Michael Flynn went further. He said a Myanmar-style military coup could fix everything.

After August passes, with no second coming, maybe they'll start promoting December 25th for a new birth.

Predicting the end of the world by a date certain always proved mockable -- though many have tried it. Predicting the return of Trump also invites mockery, but it's the Michael Flynns of this screwed up country who cause my agita. They have lots of guns and itch like prickly heat to use them.


Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told Newsmax that he and Trump are meeting with "Cabinet members" and formulating "real plans" -- for what, you ask, but Meadows was appropriately dim  vague. "Real plans" for changing the drapes in the White House. "Real plans" for brunch next Sunday?

He also didn't specify who the "Cabinet members" were. The old cabinet, out of office since January 20th? Many in that cabinet have by now distanced themselves from the insurrection/coup attempt. Or does Meadow mean a brand new kitchen cabinet, a shadow affair, primed and ready to take over government on August 13th?