Friday, May 27, 2022

Whine Me No Whines, Pat McCrory!


What are they going to do with the people who are like me?” 
--Former Gov. Pat McCrory, in an AP interview

That plaintive whining is actually a pretty good question. McCrory was wondering what happens to the 25% who voted for him in the recent Republican primary for the US Senate, the Republican voters who didn't like the Trumpist message coming from winner Ted Budd, the gun store owner who projects potential for muscular bullying and promises to do Trump's bidding in the Senate.

People who are like me. "Soft" Republicans? Or sane Republicans?

The question should be: What are the "people like me" going to do about the total takeover of their party by the likes of Donald Trump, who's as crooked as a dog's hind leg and who encourages and endorses further crookedness in his followers? "Just find me 11,780 votes."

What will they do? Odds are they'll fall in line, vote the Party even though the Party has become a clown show at midnight. And so will Pat McCrory, whining all the way.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

I Will Be Voting and I Will Be Voting Early


With pundits and polls predicting relentlessly that Republicans are cruising to major wins this November, taking back power where they've lost it and consolidating power where they already hold it (like in North Carolina), I'm if anything bewildered, as in its original meaning of being stranded in a wilderness with no map out.

Why? Why would voters want more Republicans? In positions of great authority, where they can tell you you're going to breed whether you want to or not? Or simply decree ("just fine 364 more votes") that the votes of certain people don't count, so their side wins -- always, in perpetuity, to the ending of time itself? Or unleash local governments, businesses, and individuals to harass queer people because to bully is next to godliness.

When they buy themselves a Supreme Court majority through their Trump tool, and that majority intends to impose ideology on the law?

They intend to force election outcomes into their column, and they'll stop at nothing. A con man is their god.

Who wants more of that?

Pardon me, but putting them in control is deranged.

Monday, May 23, 2022

The Shepherds Were Exploiting the Flocks


The Southern Baptist Convention represses sexuality in everyone but its preachers. That's not just the conclusion of an independent investigation (voted on by delegates at the church's convention last summer); that's the conclusion of someone who was a Southern Baptist for years, attended and graduated from a Southern Baptist College, and knew many Southern Baptist pastors and would-be seminarians. The last Baptist church I attended in Salt Lake City had a pastor who was accused of sexual harassment by a good friend of mine. I haven't forgotten that.

The report also revealed that an executive committee staff member working for Mr. [August] Boto [a poweful member of the church's executive committee] had, for more than 10 years, maintained a detailed list of ministers accused of abuse. But no one “took any action to ensure that the accused ministers were no longer in positions of power at SBC churches,” the report stated. The most recent list, it added, contained the names of hundreds of alleged abusers affiliated with the denomination at some time. Investigators reviewed the same list and reported that it appears nine people remain at least connected to work in a ministry setting, including two connected with a Southern Baptist church.

It said that leaders including Ronnie Floyd, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention who resigned as the head of the executive committee in October, had resisted the creation of a task force to investigate the executive committee. Mr. Floyd did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

The report described revelations in recent years that senior leaders had “protected or even supported abusers.” The leaders included three former presidents of the denomination, Steve Gaines, Jack Graham and Paige Patterson, as well as a former vice president and Mr. Boto, a former executive committee interim president and general counsel. A spokesman for Prestonwood Baptist Church, where Mr. Graham is pastor, said the church “categorically denies” the way the report characterizes an incident under his leadership in which it alleged Mr. Graham quietly dismissed an accused abuser on his staff rather than contacting police. Mr. Gaines and Mr. Patterson could not be immediately reached for comment.


Thursday, May 19, 2022

Twitter Ain't Real

Guest Post: Jon-Dalton George 

Kirk deViere (4,100+ Twitter followers) vs. Val Applewhite (135). Applewhite only tweeted once since March. [Applewhite beat incumbent deViere by 20 points last Tuesday in Senate Dist. 19]

Madison Cawthorn (492.4K) vs. Chuck Edwards (2,300+). Cawthorn posted continuous tweets. Edwards beat him by 2 points. Edwards tweeted every day too at the end, more sporadically before that. [NOTE: Edwards' Twitter following has grown since he won]

Nida Allam (12.1K) vs. Valerie Foushee (4,000). Foushee beat her by over 9 points. [Congressional Dist. 4]

Erica D. Smith (24.9K) vs. Don Davis (1,600). Davis beat Smith by 32 points. [Congressional Dist. 1]

Matt Hughes (3,300+) vs. Renee Price (43). Price didn't post all May. [House Dist. 50. Price beat Hughes by a whopping 44 points]

Wouldn't you have thought that those candidates with a huge digital presence and following would have been the likely winners? But there seems to be a clear disconnect between online political presence and discourse and what actually happens in a primary. Twitter can create echo-chambers that do not translate to votes.

Kirk's loss of his Senate seat also shows voters may care much more about endorsements than about digital presence. Which makes a post-Roy Cooper legacy possibly look like Jim Hunt's -- traveling the state, sticking his nose in, helping out the little guys.

Could a strong digital presence lull candidates into complacency? You bet. Oftentimes their reach exceeds their grasp. Some actually seem to cater to demographic non-voters by playing it hot and mean. But the validation of "likes" and "shares" sometimes comes from a non-existent base.

It might be worth candidates taking a look at their budgets, especially the line for social media. Graphics, web design, video production, email blasts, Facebook and Twitter posts. All those are helpful tools to get over the line, but some may also inadvertently create a smokescreen that can blind a campaign to reality.

Jon-Dalton George is member of the Boone Town Council

WataugaWatch Answers Jon-Dalton George:


Good point. Pulled me up short and made me think.

I'm guilty. If I'm researching a candidate, I want to see all their digital presence, and I tend to automatically discount a candidate who doesn't have any -- I mean, nothing -- no website, no Facebook, no Twitter. In April -- just last month -- I was complaining about Frances Jackson's invisibility on-line in the House Dist. 45 Democratic primary. She beat her nearest male competitor by 11 points.

Twitter creates its own reality. Candidates will continue to indulge, and they should, and candidate-watchers will continue to indulge -- be teased and misled. Candidates need to be on Twitter, if for nothing else than to announce a fish fry. But know it ain't reality. It's a ticklefest of wish fulfillment and dragon-slaying.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Other 2022 Primary Results


Watauga County

Cutlip came in last in the primary

 Watauga County turned away the retro challenge of "back to basics" school board candidates (the "end cultural pluralism" crowd). The primary could only eliminate one of 7 total candidates, but the lopsided vote suggests that none of the Trumpist insurgents are going to get anywhere come November. The three incumbent (and progressive) school board members were separated from the bottom four by a 900+ vote gap.

Incumbent Democratic County Commissioner Carrington Pertalion lost to challenger Angela Laws King. Thereby hangs a tale that might be told some other time.

In the Republican primary, incumbent state Senator Deanna Ballard carried her own county by over 70% against double-bunked Senator Ralph Hise of Spruce Pine, but Hise narrowly won the primary by a slim margin of 336 votes. Too bad.


US Senate Primaries

As expected, Cheri Beasley took the Democratic nomination for US Senate easily. And Ted Budd took the Republican race. His margin of victory was surprisingly wide, winning over 58% of the total vote and absolutely burying poor Pat McCrory -- who now represents an NCGOP that no longer exists. It's all Trump now and Trumpist bullying, so we'll have the general election we dread, between a gentle and judicious Black woman and an ungentle and injudicious gun store owner.

US Congressional Primaries

In the 4th CD, Democratic establishment candidate Valerie Foushee beat progressive darling Nida Allam, with Clay Aiken coming in a distant third.

In the 13th CD, state Senator Wiley Nickel absolutely demolished Sam Searcy to take the Democratic nomination, while Trump-endorsed district-shopper Bo Hines easily won the Republican primary with 32% of the vote in a crowded field.

State Senator Jeff Jackson is now the official Democratic nominee for the seat in CD14, not exactly a surprise win.

Some NC House and Senate Primaries of Note

Generally, looks like Democrats stuck with establishment incumbents for the most part, turning away insurgents even when they looked pretty interesting as new faces.

In NCH33, incumbent Rosa Gill sounded defeated newcomer Nate Blanton.

In NCH43, former incumbent Elmer Floyd came back to beat Kimberly Hardy, the woman who beat him last go around.

Surprise? In NCH50, Democratic star Matt Hughes did poorly against Black woman Renee Price. Wow.

In NCH56 (Chapel Hill), Allen Buansi narrowly won against fellow civil rights activist Jonah Garson.

In NCH74 (Forsyth), LatinX community activist Carla Catalan Day won over Asian-American Sean Lew.

In NCH112, Tricia Cotham beat a crowded field of fellow Democrats, with former Rep. Rodney Moore coming in dead last.

In NCS19, Kirk DeViere lost his reelection primary against Val Applewhite. This is the race that Governor Roy Cooper cashed in his (unwelcome) two cents, so we guess that high-level interference had an effect.

In NCS23, Graig Meyer, currently in the NC House, is moving on up to the Senate, easily beating Jamie DeMent Holcomb in the primary.

In NCS49, incumbent Julie Mayfield easily won against two challengers, taking 68% of the vote. The interesting Taylon Breeden of CDB cafe fame came in a very weak 3rd.

Madison Cawthorn Is Finished


Otherwise, Trump-endorsed candidates in North Carolina did well, proving once again that the NCGOP is too far gone to save. But Cawthorn's meteoric rise and sudden fall is pretty much complete, though he has months still to spend in office embarrassing himself and the rest of us. 

Cawthorn did crack the magic 30% threshold, taking 31.90% of the vote, but state Senator Chuck Edwards did better with 33.40%. The much-ballyhooed moderate woman Wendy Nevarez, promoted as the antidote to Cawthorn by the Democratic founders of the American Muckrakers PAC, just got 10% and came in 7th of 8 candidates. Maybe she'd like to switch parties to some group where she'd be more appreciated.

On the Democratic side of the 11th CD, Jasmine Beach-Ferrara blew away all competitors, taking almost 60% of the vote in a crowded field. Katie Dean, for whom I felt some enthusiasm, came in second with 25.70% of the total vote.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Wherein I Avert My Gaze From NC and Look North To PA

Caution may be the wrong message for the Democratic base today.

Looking at you, Cheri Beasley. You're the presumptive Democratic nominee to run for the US Senate this year. Probably against gun dealer Ted Budd. We'll know for sure next Tuesday night about both.

But is Cheri Beasley a fighter? (Because Ted Budd most assuredly will roll in the mud.) I ask for a friend, who's alarmed at the whole Trump ethos that thinks it's necessary to bully -- especially the most vulnerable -- gay and transgender, Black ballot access (and barriers for 20-somethings), and now women's basic equality under the law. Those people are also clearly willing to "just find more votes" when it's necessary to hold power (and wait 'til election authorities in various states are Trump operatives). 

Cheri Beasley's public messaging suggests more a walking-on-eggs tentativeness than a willingness to take that on. I worry.


Conor Lamb

Compare what's about to happen in the Democratic Senate primary in Pennsylvania, which will also be next Tuesday. I'm forced to know about it because I've been on candidate John Fetterman's email list for months. (Every vaguely progressive candidate in the universe gets my email address from Central Fingering.) The Pa. Senate primary is primarily between Fetterman, the sitting lieutenant governor, and Congressman Conor Lamb, who won his House seat in a special replacement election in a Republican-leaning district early in 2018 (first ripple of the blue wave) and won reelection in 2020. I was enthusiastic about him on this blog even though I knew he was not a progressive (cautious to a fault, prosecutor-cautious). But having him in Congress would be on the whole better than not having him.

Plus Conor Lamb had the looks. Because I'm a shallow person, why wouldn't I be drawn to the photogenic, since all politics are theater? Conor Lamb looks the part, and he's not afraid to call himself a Democrat. And an ex-Marine.

Quite the contrast is Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who looks like a lumberjack auditioning for the lead in a stage production of Shrek. Unconventional, working-class to the bone, with populist instincts, pugilistic, and rough as a cob. The last numbers I saw, Fetterman was leading Lamb in the primary by 30 points (with candidate Malcolm Kenyatta projected as a distant third).

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman

Bald head, goatee, prominent tattoos, often dressed in hoodie and shorts, like he's going to the Saturday morning farmer's market instead of like a supplicant for public approval or like an already prominent member of the elected class. He's a Bernie Sanders economic thinker, totally pragmatic about who and what the enemy is for the laboring class. There's a lot being written about him right now. I found this particularly thorough.

The central dilemma in voting for Fetterman -- and he's predicted to win the primary easily -- is the same question about Cheri Beasley. Can he/she win in November? In Beasley's case, will Ted Budd and the Trumpists roll right over her? In Fetterman's case, is he too out there to get the independents?

Who will Fetterman face in November? Possibly not the Trump-endorsed Mehmet Oz but rather a Black woman, Kathy Barnette, who's coming from nowhere to run dead-even with Oz -- enough so that Trump himself issued a statement denouncing her and reiterating his support for Oz. Trump hilariously said, “She has many things in her past which have not been properly explained or vetted." (These Trumpists are always so comically un-selfaware!) Barnette -- a failed congressional candidate in 2020 and a personality who appears to make her living saying things in public, and who's really every bit as MAGA as Oz or anyone else -- certainly has the looks.

Kathy Barnett


Saturday, May 07, 2022

Virginia Foxx's Statement on the Alito Opinion Striking Down Roe


I was just reading reporting by Jonathan Weisman about how congressional Republicans, who've spent decades spitting mad about Roe v. Wade, have suddenly gone very quiet about the leaked Samuel Alito decision to overturn Roe -- partly at least "to avoid a backlash against their party ahead of the midterm elections."

Hmmm, sez I, wonder what Madam Virginia Foxx is saying, so I went and looked, and what I saw is truly a remarkable performance of avoidance and misdirection.

The Foxx news release begins:

I have long held that the truth about abortion and the deceitfulness of Roe would be inevitably revealed to the American people. Until that day comes, I will never yield in my mission of exposing that truth.

What? What the hell is she talking about? "The deceitfulness of Roe"?

Second paragraph:

Former Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist once observed that, ‘The Constitution protects judicial independence not to benefit judges, but to promote the rule of law.’ That sentiment rings true to this day even as both the independent judiciary and the Constitution have been subjugated by the actions of a rogue, partisan actor. The Founders foretold of this threat, and they were right.

She's clearly not interested in actually addressing the content of Alito's opinion, so she quotes an odd nugget from William Rehnquist which is apropos of nothing at hand. And who's the "rogue, partisan actor" who has "subjugated" (subjugated? Really?) "both the independent judiciary and the Constitution." What the fuck? This is like reading something badly translated from the Russian politburo.

The final paragraph makes clear she's not interested in talking about the content of Alito's opinion but about the person who leaked it:

The political predilections of one individual have led to an unprecedented breach of confidentiality within the Supreme Court – one that will yield irreparable damage to the confidence of the American people and the rule of law itself. Politically motivated attacks directed at the Supreme Court, whether it be in the form of court packing or undermining judicial independence, must be opposed to the strongest degree possible. The future of our republic hangs in the balance.

Perhaps it's unnecessary to remind you that when I first knew Virginia Foxx -- and I've known her for 50 years -- she was pro-choice and fiercely pro-ERA, which may explain why she's so obtuse right now about the ending of a constitutional right for women. 

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Action Required


It's exhausting. Finding the energy to be outraged all over again. Let alone motivated to take action  -- and what action would that be? What did we do in the post-Reagan age? We did a lot of marching in the street, rallied in DeeCee. (Gotta remember to get my walker oiled!) That was specially during the time -- the first Bush -- when the President was publicly siding with Right-to-Life extremism for the elimination of Roe, and the US Supreme Court was considering Webster v. Reproductive Services (1989) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992). I remember being at three big rallies and marches, including the march in April 1992 past the White House, with smart alecks chanting "Free Barbara Bush" and some others -- many, including me -- throwing tennis balls over the White House fence and yelling "Giving George Bush back his balls!"

All that street activity likely had nothing whatsoever to do with the Court's reaffirming the fundamentals of Roe in Casey, but maybe? Only an ideological thinker (here come de Judge!) of very brittle steel would fail to see the widespread harm he could cause, or to care about it. And vote accordingly.

Since Trump unleashed what has always been locked in the frozen tundra of the "American character" --a burning intolerance for anyone in the way -- it's been "balls to the walls" to end the progressive era, from DeSantis in Florida to the big-haired woman who likes to disrupt the school board. Trump thawed out the mastodon of frank jingoism (which couples nicely with a self-interested politician with a talent for stirring hate). Since Trump, it's authoritarians and bullies everywhere across the American landscape, bent on bringing back their strongman leader. 

Voting rights? Harder to attain in many states, especially for the young, the brown, and the Black. 

Iron control not only over elections but over their tabulations? (In some states, but still) 

Elimination of regulations -- and the actual regulatory authority of government (except in the teensiest matter of women's bodies)

Religious intolerance actually licensed against LGTBQ and against certain religions and certain nationalities and certain shades of color

How we got here, see, was the failure of whole swaths of citizens to vote, -- or to while away their time with such contenders as Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, or sit at home and complain "I don't like either one of them but especially her, ... and anyway, there's no difference between the political parties." Meanwhile, O my cool ones, a corrupt bossman seizes power and calls for a renaissance of selfish greed, for which there's talent all over the place for aping his style of demagoguery. They mean to tear the house down, with us in it. 

What do you get when you let a Trump take over? A Supreme Court that has a 3-out-of-5 majority -- Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett (the dead-eyed one) -- who knew they were destined by history to be a part of overturning a fundamental right of women, yet said the opposite to the Senate committee examining their character. They give the power to Alito and Thomas to finally get their wet dream.

It's time, folks, to get back in the street. (And to goddamn vote in these midterm elections.)

Monday, May 02, 2022

Disdain for Unions Just Ain't Appalachian


Guest Post

Recently, Boone’s Starbucks became the first Starbucks in the state of North Carolina to unionize. An excellent piece of news and one that fits into Appalachia’s long legacy of labor movements, it’s fitting for Boone to lead the way in this effort.

While you’d expect support from the working class of our community, you may be surprised. I skimmed some comments on some of the most circulated articles about the news and was a bit disheartened by some of what I saw. Obviously, I could talk about Appalachia’s bloody fights for labor, coal miners, cotton mills, lumbering, and the like, but that’s a history lesson that most should be familiar with but obviously aren't. 

If folks like my dad, a former long-time employee of NC’s furniture industry, had had Union protection, I’d have better teeth, we’d have had less worries about foreclosures, and he’d have more to show for his years of labor and dedication. So for the sake of those future children, I welcome any union expansion.

For those upset, threatening to boycott the business, I have some questions. Why are you, as someone in Watauga County or Boone, more for the corporate elites who have never been to Boone and who likely never heard of it, than for workers in our community? Why do you think paying or treating employees fairly will increase prices any more than the rampant profit-centered nature of Starbucks? Do you think that, even when coffee costs $8, Howard Schultz and Co. are barely scraping by?

I’m honestly at a loss and frankly a bit disappointed. Being angry at the workers in your community that are advocating for fairness just ain’t Appalachian. While I do understand the sentiment of supporting local, and try to do so myself, if the final straw between you and Starbucks is a union, you have some reflecting to do.

On a positive note, the organizers of Starbucks United Boone credited their success in unionization to community support and the dedication of their partners. I think we should all reexamine our attitudes toward the service workers that have put up with so much for the past couple of years and support them in their fights for better treatment. As for me, I’ll do whatever I can to support them in my personal capacity.

Dalton George 
Boone Town Council