Saturday, December 31, 2022

Josh Stein Drops a Bomb, and It's a Dud


Josh Stein

Yesterday afternoon, beginning at 3:55 p.m., NC Attorney General Josh Stein posted a series of tweets, the bottomline of which was this: "After an extensive investigation by the SBI and a thorough review by career prosecutors in my office, I have concluded that we will not be pressing charges against Mark or Debra Meadows concerning their own voting in North Carolina in the 2020 elections."

Because when you've got bad news for your Democratic base, news which seems to confirm that rich and powerful white men have different, rosier expectations from the justice system than ordinary schlubs, you dump it out on a Friday afternoon heading into a three-day weekend.

Stein preceded the declaration quoted above with a tweet implying that Mark Meadows is anyway a giant douche, perhaps to soften the actual blow of announcing that voting from an address in western North Carolina you'd never lived at or even ever visited gets a pass from the A.G.: "BREAKING: Mark Meadows has made numerous unfounded and damaging claims about voter fraud both before and after the 2020 election. In fact, the January 6th congressional committee identified him as a likely co-conspirator over his central role in the January 6th insurrection."

Hardly "breaking" news, but I get that the A.G. was trying to wrap his smelly carp of exoneration in some fancy holiday tissue for an audience looking for justice of the swift and sharp variety.

In tweets 5 and 6, Stein added a fig leaf of justification for the decision to let Meadows off entirely:

Given that NC law has a residency exception for people working for the federal government in Washington DC, the Meadows had a year-long lease for the Scaly Mountain property, and cell phone records indicate that Mrs. Meadows was at or around the property in October of 2020, we have concluded that there is not sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they knowingly engaged in voter fraud. If further information relevant to these allegations comes to light in any other jurisdictions, we reserve the right to reopen this matter.

The key words: "beyond a reasonable doubt." And it's fair for our top lawyer to calculate the likelihood of conviction by a jury of his peers, even if the storm of criticism that erupted after Stein's announcement suggested that prosecution would be the right thing to do, even if perhaps not ultimately successful.

I want to give Stein the benefit of my doubts. I'd like to see him become governor. Maybe he knows that the Federal web is closing on Meadows for far greater misdeeds, and he doesn't want to get in the way of that.

But I also can't help remembering Lanisha Jones, the Black woman from Hoke County, who in 2016, out of prison on probation, thought she was eligible to vote. She wasn't. She made an honest mistake, The local Republican prosecutor threw the book at her for felony voter fraud. Mark Meadows didn't make a mistake. He registered to vote where he didn't live deliberately, and voted deliberately. He gets "not sufficient evidence," and it tastes bad on the tongue.

And add this to the rancid whiff of special treatment for rich white men: according to the News and Observer, Mark and Debra Meadows "refused to be interviewed by the State Bureau of Investigation" in its probe of the allegations. Those nice, upstanding folks refused. Try that yourself sometime when the SBI comes knocking. How would that have worked for Lanisha Jones?

Friday, December 30, 2022

Jody Agonistes


The now notorious Sheriff of Columbus County, NC, Jody Greene is about to have his tenure in office decided by another judge.

To recap: Jody Greene was elected sheriff in 2018 by a margin of less than 40 votes. Last October, racist diatribes against his own Black employees went public, secretly recorded by his chief deputy, who opted to run against Greene in November. The district attorney, Jon David, based on those phone conversations and other evidence that began to emerge, petitioned the courts to have Greene permanently removed from office as unfit. The DA had said that he could no longer rely on Greene's testimony in criminal trials because of the sheriff's blatant racism.

Before there could be a hearing on the DA's petition for permanent removal, Greene up and resigned, though his name remained on the November ballot. And sure enough, Columbus County voters reelected him with a little over 54% of the vote. Of course they did.

At the time, the DA vowed that if Jody Greene were actually sworn in for another term of office, he, Jon David, would refile his petition for removal. And that's exactly what he's done. Greene was sworn in yesterday. The DA submitted his new petition also yesterday. Both sheriff and DA are Republicans.

Among the allegations against Greene:

DA Jon David
Arresting his perceived political enemies — including a county commissioner who Greene had arrested, after he was recorded threatening to arrest him if he voted against a budget increase for the sheriff’s office.

Threatening county commissioners with retribution in other ways, including by removing air conditioning units from a local middle school and sending investigators to one commissioner’s business.

Sexual harassment, involving an affair with a deputy under his command.

Damaging government property, for a broken window that allegedly stemmed from a tryst with that deputy.

Failing to protect people in county custody, after one man was left with severe brain injuries from a beating that jail staff under Greene’s command failed to stop.

What I want to know is how you break a window having sex with an employee. I've run several scenarios through my Imaginator 4000, and only one makes any sense at all.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

English Prof Sez He Was Fired for Being Too Conservative


(And maybe he was. I don't know. He may be an innocent victim of hateful narrow-mindedness. Litigation will determine it.)

David C. Phillips holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Chapel Hill. He's had trouble getting a foothold in the state's academic hierarchy, holding low-level teaching jobs since 2008 at UNC-Greensboro (Lecturer, Dept. of English), Guilford Technical Community College (Instructor), and Wake Tech CC (Instructor). Add a regular gig since 2013 teaching summers at the Governor's School, West Campus at Winston-Salem State University.

The Governor’s School was started in 1963 by Gov. Terry Sanford as a five-and-a-half week summer program for "gifted high school students pursuing academic and artistic endeavors." "Learning focuses on the exploration of the most recent ideas and concepts in each discipline, and it does not involve credit, tests, or grades" (DPI page about the NC Governor's School).

Apparently, Professor Phillips decided that the debunking of Critical Race Theory, and accusations that it (whatever it is) had thoroughly infiltrated the faculty and curriculum of the Governor's School, was in fact "a most recent idea and concept." A sad state of affairs has developed for "white, male, cisgender, conservative Christians" who are blamed for everything bad, and David Phillips rejects the badge of dishonor. So in June of 2021, during his ninth term of teaching in the Governor's School, Phillips offered three optional seminars in which "he critiqued some concepts from critical race theory" (what, specifically, ain't clear). Other faculty and several bright students attended his seminars, probably with a interest in challenging him, for indeed, fierce arguments broke out. Whatever Phillips said, or taught, was considered toxic enough to get him fired. For he does appear to have been fired immediately after the uproar in his seminar and in the middle of the term, which ain't common -- except for cause. "Cause" in this case is also shrouded from us by the Department of Public Instrux (DPI) as "a personnel matter."

So Phillips has allowed the Alliance Defending Freedom to file a lawsuit on his behalf in Wake Superior Court, asking to be reinstated at the Governor's School. What is the Alliance Defending Freedom? "An American conservative Christian legal advocacy group that works to curtail rights for LGBTQ people; expand Christian practices within public schools and in government; and outlaw abortion." Wikipedia 

By allying himself with such a hard-right operative as the Alliance, Phillips signaled that he's very willing to have this litigation usher him under the lights at Fox News, and indeed the lawsuit itself (which can be read in its entirety here -- scroll to the bottom) appears to have been written to attract conservative media attention -- a kind of dime novel featuring pure innocence, tied to the train tracks by the jackbooted tyrants demanding white guilt.

I'd really like to know more about Prof. Phillips and how he talks about the things he talks about, but I've found no presence for him on social media anywhere, no published pieces that I can get my hands on, and actually no eye-witness accounts of his lectures -- even hostile eye-witness accounts. But I did find some student evaluations on him. At Wake Tech he gets a 46 (out of 100) student rating of "Professor quality relative to others in department." His ratings tip negative in student comments too (though I take those always with a spoonful of salt) because he's a very hard grader. Normally, "hard grader" is going to get my sympathy and support, but digging a little deeper it appears that he bases final grades heavily on a couple of written essays -- and for the writing of which he offers little guidance and no coaching (a no-no for me, who taught a lot of writing classes). Rather than look at drafts with students in advance of grading, allowing for revisions, he used "peer editing" -- students handing their drafts over to fellow students, who knew in many cases even less about appropriate written English. So Phillips slapped D's and F's on stuff that wasn't good but could have been better with the proper instruction, and students felt blindsided.

"His lectures will take your soul," one student wrote. And that's the sum total of my insight on the type of teacher he was/is.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Who Deliberately Lies in a Published Memoir? Why, Mark Meadows, Natch!


Under the Federal statute defining "conspiracy to the defraud the U.S.," the January 6th Committee believes that former NC Congressman and Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is worthy of referral to the Department of Justice for prosecution.

According to the News and Observer, the committee's report names Meadows some 50 times:

...the committee said it believes that Meadows included several “intentional falsehoods” in his December 2021 book, “The Chief’s Chief.” 

One example cited in the report involves Meadows’ recollection of Trump’s intentions after he spoke to supporters at the Ellipse, before many of them walked to the Capitol grounds. In his book, Meadows wrote that when Trump walked offstage, he told Meadows he “had been speaking metaphorically about the walk to the Capitol.”

“He knew as well as anyone that we couldn’t organize a trip like that on such short notice,” Meadows wrote. “It was clear the whole time that he didn’t actually intend to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue with the crowd.” 

According to committee members, however, Meadows’ recollection in the book “appeared to be an intentional effort to conceal the facts.” 

“Multiple witnesses directly contradicted Meadows’s account about President Trump’s desire to travel to the Capitol, including Kayleigh McEnany, Cassidy Hutchinson, multiple Secret Service agents, a White House employee with national security responsibilities and other staff in the White House, a member of the Metropolitan Police and others,” the report states.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

NC Supreme Court Strikes Down Voter Photo ID (Again!) and Orders New NC Senate Districts


Judge Robin Hudson

This happened Friday, but I've been on the road and am now in catch-up mode.

A lame-duck North Carolina Supreme Court (because two of its Democratic justices were defeated in November and will be off the bench come January) struck down two unconstitutional Republican laws.  Both decisions were 4-3 with all justices voting along partisan lines. 

The Republicans' newest version of the voter photo ID law was rushed through following the 2018 elections when the GOP lost its veto-proof super-majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly. The first version of voter photo ID was struck down in Federal court. The second version suffered the same fate for the same reason, for imposing ID rules that intentionally discriminate against Black voters.

The other law struck down on Friday was the redistricting maps drawn earlier this year for the NC Senate (and specifically that body alone; the NC House maps were allowed to stand as redrawn). Associate Justice Robin Hudson wrote the majority opinion, and she reaffirmed that partisan gerrymandering violates free elections and incidentally took a pointed shot at the "independent legislature theory":

“We expressly and emphatically reaffirm the fundamental right of citizens to vote on equal terms enshrined within our Constitution’s Declaration of Rights, and this Court’s constitutional responsibility and authority to assess legislative compliance therewith.”

Friday, December 16, 2022

Allison Riggs Appointed to the NC Court of Appeals


The election of Court of Appeals Associate Justice Richard Dietz to the NC Supremes last month leaves a seat vacant on the Court of Appeals. It's not vacant any more.

Gov. Roy Cooper has appointed Allison Riggs to the seat. Riggs is co-executive director and voting rights chief counsel at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ).

Riggs’ voting rights work over the last nearly 15 years at SCSJ has been focused on fighting for fair redistricting plans, fighting against voter suppression, and advocating for electoral reforms that would expand access to voting.

She has litigated redistricting cases on behalf of State NAACP Conferences in Texas, Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina. In 2018, she argued a Texas redistricting case in the U.S. Supreme Court, and in 2019, she argued a North Carolina partisan gerrymandering case in the same high court. Most recently, she worked as lead counsel on the Moore v. Harper case, which was heard earlier this month in the U.S. Supreme Court. (Press release)


Thursday, December 15, 2022

Madison Cawthorn Sued By His Own Lawyers


In January 2022, Congressman Madison Cawthorn hired the James Bopp law firm of Indiana to defend him against charges that he was not eligible to run for reelection on the basis of having participated in insurrection against the government. Bopp is one of the most prominent conservative election lawyers in the country.

With Bopp's help, in March a U.S. District Judge ruled in Cawthorn’s favor and prevented the North Carolina State Board of Elections from looking into whether he should be on the ballot for the 2022 primary in May. The plaintiffs in the case appealed the ruling to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia. The appeals court ultimately reversed the ruling and sent the case back to the district court, where the Bopp attorneys moved to have the case “dropped as moot.” 

The Bopp law firm is now suing Cawthorn for not paying them for seven separate invoices totaling $193,296.85. 

It ain't cheap, hiring big-time conservative lawyers, especially when you're known as a media elite with the ability to raise lots of loose cash. But the media spigot appears to have been cut off.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Mark Meadows' Voter Fraud Case Referred to AG


CBS17 was the first to report yesterday afternoon that the State Bureau of Investigation had completed its investigation of voter fraud allegations against former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and had submitted the file to the attorney general. It's up to the AG's office to assess the facts and bring charges or not.

Ordinarily, county district attorneys would investigate and potentially prosecute voter fraud cases, but when it came to light that Meadows had voted in 2020 from an address in Macon County where he never lived, Macon County DA Ashley Welch, a Republican, asked the AG's office to relieve her of the case.

In April, the Macon County Board of Elections removed Meadows from its voter rolls. He last voted in 2021 from an address in Virginia.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

How To Fall Upstairs and Find God


NC Democratic Party Chair Bobbie Richardson has published a post-election statement, and I rather wish she hadn't. Because she has also apparently stated her intent to run in a few months for reelection to another two-year term as State Party Chair, and the editorial she published does not reflect any critical understanding of, nor interest in, why North Carolina failed to achieve more success in the last elections or even what might be done differently. If Richardson stays as the leader, there's no apparent path for change in how the NCDP runs and wins campaigns.

I saw Richardson's statement in the Indy Week, headlined "In This Year's Midterm Election, Democracy Won." I think it must have been "exclusive" to Indy Week, because a quick Google search finds it nada. If it's published on the NCDP website, even, it's well hidden. In other words, it's not a piece of post-election analysis that's likely to get any play.

In fact, it's not a piece of post-election analysis at all. The whole thing celebrates every other state that went blue or purple because of their passion to save women's rights and turn back MAGA extremism, and that kind of celebration really leaves North Carolina out, because here things most certainly got redder, devastatingly so. "The American people did our part," Richardson writes, but why didn’t North Carolina? Cheerleading about the voting power of "Americans" seems a bit tone-deaf.

What happened in North Carolina looks like bloodshed compared to the other states of blessed moment.

Richardson gets as close as she dares to the unpleasantness way down in paragraph 6, but even then she wants to bury the bad news at the end of the paragraph:

North Carolinians chose election denier Ted Budd to serve in the U.S. Senate, and voters elected a conservative majority to the state supreme court. These losses are devastating for our democracy, but we must not grow weary. Our democracy is worth fighting for, and we will never give up on it.

But that's it, so far as introspection, or acknowledging failed technique, strategy, or messaging, and with no hint of even a curiosity about what we might do better in the future as a Party.

Granted, the duties of the top leadership of the state Democratic Party tilt more to the ceremonial, which includes rah-rah morale boosts, than to supervision of daily Party operations, data management, targeting, messaging, let alone the arduous, almost impossible task of recruiting candidates in every NC House and Senate district, among other races. Party Chairs are more figureheads than strategists, more fundraisers than accountants, more cheerleaders than the callers of plays, and they rely entirely on a staff that they have hiring and firing power over. And hence the power to mandate new directions, new "best practices."

The Executive Director runs the operation and has a staff with titles like "Political Director," "Finance Director, " "Coordinated Development Director," etc. There is no "Data Director" currently listed, and one of the frequent complaints in 2022 against the State Party involved reduced access to targeting data, and a problematic lag sometimes in getting it, as though State Party operations don't trust a county like Watauga to manage its own data and messaging.

A major change in "operations" at the State Party can't happen without, first, acknowledgement that some things need changing. Without it, doing the same things over again like they were done in 2022 seems likely for the NCDP, like a longer version of the movie "Memento" in which the hero/victim leads his life in perpetual reverse.

Bobbie Richardson's reelection as NCDP chair, or not, will occur at the winter SEC (State Executive Committee) meeting in a couple of months. I have heard of at least one challenger.

Friday, December 09, 2022

Sinema: "I Discovered I Wasn't Getting Enough Attention"


Photo: Francis Chung, Politico

Hard on the heels of Democrats' winning a true majority in the US Senate with the reelection of Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona made every Democrat go "Oh shit!" early this morning by announcing she was leaving the Democratic Party and registering as independent.

As a full-time narcissist, Sinema's promise that nothing will really change about how she will vote and which committees she will sit on can scarcely be taken to the bank -- because that promise presupposes that she will caucus with the Democrats since Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer makes those committee assignments. “I don’t anticipate that anything will change about the Senate structure,” Sinema told Politico.

Rather than high-minded independence from "partisan wrangling," Sinema's decision may have more to do with an expected primary for reelection in 2024, which she would be widely expected to lose. She is reportedly underwater in polling of Democrats in Arizona. An AARP poll released in September found that 54% of voters had an unfavorable view of her.

She is perhaps most notorious in Democratic circles for refusing to reform the filibuster and resisting rolling back the Trump tax-breaks for billionaires.

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Just How Bad Was Democratic Performance in 2022 in NC?


Michael Bitzer, the numbers man at Catawba College, published a graph-heavy assessment of turnout in last month's election. Jane Porter, for the Indy Week newsletter, extracted some bottomlines (for which I'm most grateful). The sum and substance ain't pretty. The Democrats need to reassess what they've been doing and do something very differently.

3.7 million North Carolinians cast a ballot in last month's election, or 51 percent of all of the state's registered voters

58.4 percent of registered Republicans turned out
51.2 percent of registered Democrats turned out
44.7 percent of registered Unaffiliated voters turned out
54 percent of registered Greens and 30 percent of registered Libertarians turned out

58 percent of white non-Hispanic voters turned out
42 percent of Black/African American non-Hispanic voters turned out
26 percent of Hispanic/Latino voters turned out
37 percent of all other non-Hispanic races turned out
34 percent of voters whose race was unreported turned out

24 percent of Gen Z voters (ages 18-25) turned out
35 percent of registered Millennial voters (ages 26-41) turned out
55 percent Generation X voters (ages 42-57) turned out
71 percent of Boomers (ages 58 to 76) turned out
66 percent of Silent Generation voters (ages 77 to 111) turned out

47 percent of voters living in central cities turned out
54 percent of voters living in urban suburbs turned out
52 percent of voters living in surrounding suburban counties turned out
51 percent of voters living in rural counties turned out

Bitzer calls this mid-term's crop of voters "Whiter, older, more Republican." Here are his conclusions:

For Republicans, it's simple: keep doing what you do. In the short-run, higher turnout rates for key GOP groups will continue to see you win the "competitive but stuck" battleground electoral environment, at least state-wide.

For Democrats, it's also simple: if you want to keep your federal candidates getting 48 to 49 percent of the vote, but lose to Republicans by the narrowest of margins time after time, keep doing what you are doing. Keep getting your registered partisans to show up just at the state-level, but allow your partisan opponents to show up at a higher rate. Ignore turning out voters under 40 years old, ignore turning out out core Black/African American voters, and ignore your regional dominance in the central cities.

In the end, it wasn't that Democrats like Cheri Beasley did as well as she did in what was presented as a classic mid-term environment, but rather she did as well despite the fact that core Democratic voting blocks has abysmal turnout rates.

And it may seem like we say this every election cycle, but in North Carolina, it's true: it's all about who shows up and turns out. Once again, 2022 repeats the consistency of North Carolina's electoral politics as a 'stuck battleground' state, and in the end, turnout matters.


Tuesday, December 06, 2022

At Its 1st Meeting with 2 New Republican Members, Watauga CoCommish Votes To Spend Money Advancing the Cause of Affordable Housing


Castle and Eggers last night

Last night, with newly installed Republican members Braxton Eggers and Todd Castle and presided over by new Commish Chair Larry Turnbow, the board voted unanimously to approve $52,300 for an affordable housing study of an 8-acre tract of county-owned land near Brookshire Park. The proposed study is the result of the interest generated for affordable/workforce housing at last spring's "housing forums."

As a result of those well attended forums, the dormant Watauga County Community Housing Trust was reactivated with County Planner Joe Furman serving on the board of directors. Furman initiated discussions with the UNC School of Government's Development Finance Initiative (DFI), which is charged with helping counties with economic development projects. 

The DFI subsequently presented a proposal for technical services to the county "to attract a private development partner for the development of housing for low- and moderate-income households" on the Brookshire Road site. The proposed "technical assistance" was priced to the county at $62,300, but the High Country Assoc. of Realtors and NC Realtors Assoc. have pledged $10,000 to help underwrite this study. The DFI estimates the study and recruitment of a private partner to take seven months. (The full scope of the "technical assistance" that DFI is promising gets outlined on pages 29-30 here.)

If people were expecting the election of Republican members to the Commish to signal cantankerous wrangling over the spending of public money, it certainly didn't happen last night. Affordable housing appears to retain its salience for both sides.

Monday, December 05, 2022

People in the Dark Put 40,000 Other People in the Dark


Moore County is east of Charlotte and is largely without electric power this morning because some people, so far unknown, used fire arms to shoot up a couple of Duke substations in a very targeted way -- “The persons who did this knew exactly what they were doing,” says the Moore County sheriff -- in the process knocking out power to most of the county and incidentally breaking a federal law that has brought in the FBI to investigate. And perhaps just incidentally, the outage happened as a drag show -- much hated and protested by Moore County rightwing activists -- was just getting started at a downtown theater in Southern Pines.

From the NandO coverage:

On her Facebook page, Emily Grace Rainey, an outspoken opponent of the drag show, posted an invitation to protest at the theater. After the lights went out, Rainey, who became known in Moore County during the pandemic for her opposition to mask mandates, posted on Facebook that, “The power is out in Moore County and I know why.” 

Later, she posted that the Moore County Sheriff’s Office had come to her house to ask about the outage. 

“I welcomed them to my home,” wrote Rainey, who organized a group of Moore County residents to travel to Washington on January 6, 2021. “Sorry they wasted their time. I told them that God works in mysterious ways and is responsible for the outage. I used the opportunity to tell them about the immoral drag show and the blasphemies screamed by its supporters.”

Rainey said, “I told them God is chastising Moore County, thanked them for coming, and wished them a good night...."

Emily Grace Rainey
So Emily Grace Rainey, who seemed to know something specific about the outage -- perhaps God told her about his mysterious ways with firearms -- got along swimmingly with the sheriff's office. Later, the sheriff himself, at a press conference yesterday, said flatly that Rainey's Facebook posts were "false." He said officers “had to go and interview this young lady and have a word of prayer with her, but it turned out to be nothing.”


Rainey has earned a very high profile in Moore County. On January 6th, while she was still on active duty at Fort Bragg attached to 4th Psychological Operations Group (PSYOP), she helped organize a hundred Moore County Republicans into buses for the trip to D.C. to hear Trump rev up the crowd on the ellipse. The Moore County group subsequently said they were not part of the storming of the Capitol, but Rainey was investigated by the Army for her political activity and is no longer in the military.

She had previously in 2020 sparked a run-in with the police in Southern Pines when she filmed herself tearing down yellow tape cordoning off a playground after Gov. Roy Cooper closed parks to prevent the further spread of COVID.

Incidentally, training in PSYOP means that Rainey has a handle on how "to convey selected information and indicators to audiences to influence their emotions, motives, and objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of governments, organizations, groups, and individuals" (Wikipedia). Whether she has talent, I know not, but it's clear she has skills, courtesy of the US government.

Sunday, December 04, 2022

How I Became a Man To Be Feared

Always concerned about the healthy future of man-kind, Madison Cawthorn gave his farewell speech on the floor of the US House, and I can't help feeling that he was aiming his words directly at me:

“It used to be a rite of passage in this country for young men to be punched in the face when they did something stupid. Our nation used to believe that there was strength and purpose in taking the hits, learning from your mistakes and growing through the adversity,” Cawthorn said.

“America is weak. Her sons are sickly, and her daughters are decrepit,” he continued. “Our country now faces the consequences of enabling a participation trophy society. We’re no longer the United States. We’ve become the nanny state. Our young men are taught that weakness is a strength, that delicacy is desirable, and that being a soft metrosexual is more valuable than training the mind, body and soul.”

“I ask the young men of this nation a question,” Cawthorn said. “Will you sit behind a screen while the storied tales of your forefathers become myth? Or will you stand resolute against the dying light of America’s golden age? Will you reclaim your masculinity? Will you become a man to be feared? To be respected? To be looked up to? Or will you let this nation’s next generation be its final generation?”

Well shit! This wise man, this man's man, has seen me for what I am, even though he's never seen me. How many ounces of my precious bodily fluid have I allowed to dry up while getting my hair styled, my nails cured, my body sculpted? How much money have I wasted on "product." So I went out immediately and bought a bullwhip -- took a while to find a vender for that one! -- and a good 7-inch fixed blade fighting knife (I was shopping on line, so I impulsively threw into my cart a Benchmade Infidel Dagger switchblade for a mere $450). I am equipped! (Even if it's going to take a few more washings to get that perm out of my hair.)

I started kicking sleeping dogs, if they were someone else's dogs. My own is being retrained for combat, and I darsn't. I'm currently shopping for a big-ass overpowering truck with an armored cab, and I've begun to hang out where the tough guys are, at stampedes and rodeos and cigar-tastings.

I don't take no backtalk from women, either, especially the "decrepit" younger ones who are always posing for selfies anyway, and you can get almost anything past them. I eat my meat raw. I think I might now have become a man feared, because I notice more people avoiding me.

Thank you, Madison, for showing us The Way -- all the weak ones.

Thursday, December 01, 2022

Demands Being Made of the NCDP


So I was indulging my daily graze of the InnerWebs, when I was arrested by this headline: "Backtalk: NCDP is a concentrated pool of ineptitude ... And other things our readers told us this week."

"NCDP" being the North Carolina Democratic Party. So naturally, waxing either narcissistic or masochistic -- take your pick! -- I clicked. The article is a compilation of comments solicited by Jane Porter, editor of the Indy Weekly who invited subscribers of the Indy Week newsletter for "ideas about how progressives can do better in turning out rural voters and rural voters of color in 2024 and beyond."

Working 2022 in a largely rural county, even one with a university, in the western NC mtns, has given us some 30 years of experience in motivating the vote, naturally with some successes and some whopping failures. Sad to say, with that experience in mind, we ended this campaign season feeling not just let down by the state Party but actually hindered at times, deliberately. I won't get into the technicals, the databases and their access. But as a very active and organized county Party, Watauga has long turned jaundiced eyes on "Coordinated Campaigns," which tend to rule the flow of resources in a General Election cycle. We have not found "Coordinated Campaigns" coordinated. They more often come with top-down dictums that only have the top of the ticket's message in mind -- the governor's or the president's or, in 2022, Cheri Beasley's. Those top campaigns, run by consultants and strategists and contractors who are all making money on it, often have little salience in a rural county, relying way too much on paper postcard excess and TV saturation and not enough on on-going, on the ground voter registration and engagement.

Down Home North Carolina, founded in 2017 and so far well funded, has a new model of paid canvassers, and because they are paid, they are also trained to engage in conversations at the door about stuff that animates wage workers. Any canvassing is essential, of course, though sometimes the training is de minimis. Many county parties and individual candidate campaigns have mounted big canvasses, and will continue to do so, but sustaining a purely volunteer force year and after is very tough, and the difficulty of replacing those who age out is the curse of rural America. So a paid force carrying a unified message and technique offers an appealing alternative to giving so much of the money to consultants and contractors.

Dustin Ingalls, one of the commenters on Indy Weekly, included Down Home in a longer list of brand new orgs who are doing good work in rural NC, all of them with a crying need for more financial backing: "We need to scale up programs that already exist from organizations like Down Home, New Rural Project, New NC Project, NCLCV Foundation, and A. Philip Randolph Institute. They’re already on the ground doing the work to register and regularly communicate with voters of color and white rural voters who might align with progressive values, but they don’t have enough money to hire enough staff to recruit and train enough volunteers and knock enough doors." An '07 graduate of UNC, Ingalls is the political director of the Environmental Defense Fund NC chapter, and lists a long, impressive string of activist immersions in progressive causes.

Paying volunteers? In some circles, it's a radical idea -- "Why, how come we have to pay people to do the right thing for the future of America?" But we have some evidence that maybe, seems like, the state Party might give it a try, diverting some of the large budget from professional consultants to paid volunteer recruitment, training, and employment. Wouldn't take that much in the blessed scheme of things.

"More consistent organizing," to be implemented and led --  somehow, someway -- by the state Party, that is the overriding theme of the criticism.