Tuesday, March 24. 2009
In an instance reminiscent of B'rer Rabbit's "Don't throw me in the briar patch!", the Wake County Democratic commissioners stuck their feet in it. Yes, serving the public good involves some sacrifices; yes, the Republicans were doing political grandstanding. The problem is, in the current angry climate, legislators can't just do business as usual. Voters do remember events like lawmakers giving themselves yearly raises (and how much do the Guilford County commissioners make again?), and at a time when most citizens are being asked to cut back, it is the better part of valor for them to do the same. As an irate friend pointed out to me, "They're upset about cutbacks in their second job, when I've had my hours cut in my only job!"
Tuesday, November 4. 2008
The woman who ignored her constituents for the last six years has been given the boot, replaced by the NC Democratic Party Machine's handpicked candidate, Kay Hagan.
Now we get to see if Hagan will sell us out in the spirit of "reaching across the aisle"
Tuesday, October 21. 2008
After coming out and saying that Liberals hate real Americans, Robin Hayes now denies he said anything of the sort.
Unfortunately for him, the comments were recorded:
Do Republicans just not understand the concept of audio and video tape?
Monday, April 21. 2008
Reading Between the Lines of 2008 Primary Voter Guide
Text taken from NC Public Funding Programs 2008 Primary Voter Guide : NC Board of Elections
Again, in the interest of helping the confused liberal/progressive voter, here is a humble attempt (and personal opinion) to determine which candidates have ideas and qualifications that might be appealing. Our picks for consideration are in BOLD type. This time it's the candidates for Auditor, Commissioner of Insurance, and Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Beth A. Wood
Occupation: Case Investigator
Endorsements: NC State AFL-CIO; Ralph A. Campbell, Jr., Former Democratic State Auditor; WA Br
Broadus, CPA, PC, Chairman of AICPA Government & Not-For-Profit Conference Steering Committee.
Personal Statement: “I have been a CPA for 20 years, I have 15 years experience in State government, 10 years in the State Auditor's Office, and I train CPA's across the nation in government accounting & auditing”.
Occupation: Career State Employee with service in the Legislative and Executive Branches of State Government. Which means you did...what exactly?
Endorsement: None yet
Personal Statement: “Qualifications: Senior Fiscal/Budget Analyst for the Legislature (15 years), Senior Executive in 2 of the largest agencies (yes, but what are they?) in State Government, one encompassing oversight responsibility for a $2.5 B per year budget and 15,000 employees, plus a strong military background that included positions of significant responsibility in the Global War Against Terrorism and command of troops during wartime in the Iraqi Theater of Operation.”
Warning Bells: Where do I start? When I think of auditors and accountants, I think of sober, responsible individuals focused on managing money, not Rambo with a calculator and an AK-47. I like my auditors BORINGLY normal. I'm sure Enron and Bear Sterns had “exciting” auditors, and we all know how that turned out. Also, when was the last time the military handled money responsibly? He especially lost me at the idea of giving someone the power to rifle through bank accounts in the name of the “Global War against Terrorism”. Ask Eliot Spitzer how he likes that....
Commissioner of Insurance
Occupation: Asst. Commissioner of Insurance: Asst. State Fire Marshall; NC Dept of Insurance, 2005-present
Personal Statement: "What distinguishes me from my opponent? I am NOT affliated with the insurance industry. I am for “the People”. I’m the first Insurance Commissioner candidate to refuse special interest money, and the first to accept fundraising limits. My opponents continue to accept special interest money. It will be my honor to continue Jim Long’s legacy.”
Warning Bells: Oooh, this is a tough one, because I really liked Jim Long, and I enjoy Mr. Goodwin's blog (Wayne's World), BUT after reading through his opponent's (singular) statement, I really can't find strong evidence that he has done what Goodwin has said (Smith stated he has modest self-imposed limits). Goodwin appears to have the whole backing and blessing of the Democratic machinery and mucky-mucks behind him, and to be honest, I'm not necessarily sure about that (see, Kay Hagan). Also, Mr. Smith said the magic words that really get my attention: "making health care reform a top priority".
David G. Smith
Personal Elective offices held: None
Personal Statement: “I am a participant in the Voter-Owned Elections Program. I will not accept any campaign contribution of more than $200 from any contributor to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest in my job as your Commissioner of Insurance. Once elected, I will commit to keeping insurance costs low for our state’s citizens, making health care reform a top priority and punish those who commit insurance fraud in our state.”
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Occupation: 30-Year Classroom Teacher
Personal Statement: "As we look toward the future, Davis believes that students need stronger critical thinking skills, whether they are headed to college or to the workplace. Standardized testing is very important, however , our schools must focus on teaching the "whole child" if our students are to be prepared to answer the challenges of the 21st Century. Davis pledges to spend the majority of his time working with parents and students to develop programs the will reduce dropouts and eliminate achievement gaps." Some friendly advice? What you say is good, Peel thinks you need to ditch the creepy way of referring to yourself in the third person.
June St. Clair Atkinson
Occupation: Educator, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Educational administrator, Public school teacher. All at the same time?
Personal Statement: I will focus on all students being excellent readers and having access to technology. All educators must work in schools where students demonstrate respect and personal responsibility. To meet these goals, we must continue to build partnerships with parents, business people, and interested citizens and make major changes in No Child Left Behind. Like jettisoning that idea?
Warning bells: Both candidates have good qualifications, but I tend toward Mr. Davis because he mentions working with the students, and not business people. If you want to know why my antipathy towards the business world mingling in our schools, please check out this post, Born to Buy: The Commercialization of Public Schools on The Simple Dollar. Very scary stuff that should concern any parent. Also doesn't sound opposed enough to NCLB.
Sunday, April 20. 2008
Reading Between the Lines of 2008 Primary Voter Guide
Text taken from NC Public Funding Programs 2008 Primary Voter Guide : NC Board of Elections
By this time, North Carolinians should have received this useful information on the races a lot of people don't pay attention to, and should. The brochure contains basic background info and personal statements on the candidates for judicial elections, auditor, commissioner of insurance, and superintendent of public education, offices all of which we will probably encounter at some point in our day-to-day living (like when you write your check for car insurance, have to go to court for jury duty or other business, or send a child to public school).
Judicial candidates are supposed to be non-politicial, but being human beings and that we do not have a "Neutral" Party or something like Robert Heinlein's Fair Witness program, candidates can indicate tendencies toward certain ideologies...
So in the interest of helping the confused liberal/progressive voter, here is a humble attempt (and personal opinion) to determine which candidates have ideas and qualifications that might be appealing. Our picks for consideration are in BOLD type. First up:
NC Court of Appeals (1 Seat open)
Jewel Ann Farlow
Date admitted to the Bar: Aug.19th, 1988
Warning Bell: in Personal Statement: “My civil practice includes representation of clients in the areas of family law, domestic violence, contract, collection, personal injury, Landlord/Tenant, and bankruptcy law.” Her first couple of clients are commendable, but I can't help but think the following when I see these: Collection= hounding people for credit card companies;Personal injury=ambulance chaser; Landlord/Tenant=depends on which side she's arguing for.... The kicker is she's been endorsed by the Republicans.
Dean R. Poirier
Occupation: Appeals Referee & Adjunct Instructor of Law
Date admitted to the Bar: Admitted to practice, N.C., 1993. U.S. District Court , Eastern District of N.C., 1993.
Warning Bells: Lists among employers Liberty University. Have not yet been able to verify this is THE Liberty University of Falwell fame, but based on the amount of religious statements on his website, it's probably a safe assumption. In Personal Statement:“I believe in “Judicial Humility” as opposed to “Judicial Arrogance”, “Judicial Restraint” as opposed to “Judicial Activism”…judges should defer to the elected branches of the federal and state governments with respect to policy so long as they stay within the confines of their powers as defined by the U.S. and State constitutions.” "Judicial Activism" is neo-con code word for not enforcing the law, but ceding power to the other branches of government. Based on his deep religious beliefs and attitude of staying out of the way, I worry that he would not be too concerned about that whole separation of church and state thing.
James A (Jim) Wynn
Occupation: Appellate Judge
Date admitted to the Bar: 1979
Personal Statement: “I write and speak nationally about judicial independence including as Chair of the ABA’s Judicial Division. Because of my hard work and experience, I have been endorsed by, among others, the N.C. Association of Educators, N.C. Academy of Trial Lawyers, and Democratic and Republican Former Chief Justices of the N.C. Supreme Court – Burley Mitchell, James Exum, Henry Frye, and Rhoda Billings.”
N.C. Court of Appeals (1 seat open)
Sam J. Ervin IV
Occupation: Commissioner, N.C. Utilities Commission
Date admitted to the Bar: 1981
Warning Bells: The name “Ervin” carries a lot of historical weight and expectations. While I give him points for not drawing on that family connection, I have reservations about the Utilities Commissioner post and some of his past statements regarding energy.
Date admitted to the Bar: 1992
Warning Bells: No personal statement provided. 'Nuff said.
Occupation: Judge, District Court (Wake County)
Date admitted to the Bar: 1990
Legal/Judicial Experience: Recognized nationally as an authority on child support enforcement. Member, Governor’s Commission on Responsible Fatherhood (2000); Board of Directors, Carolina Dispute Settlement Services; Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism (2003-2006); Member, Federal Task Force on Child Support; Service of Excellence Award, NC Child Support Council (2000); American Business Woman of the Year (2003); Judge of the Year, Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (2004).
John M. Tyson
Occupation: Judge, N.C. Court of Appeals
Date Admitted to the Bar: 1980
Warning Bells: Legal/Judicial Experience: Board Certified Specialist, Real Property Law NC State Bar 2001; Private law practice: Real Estate Dir. And Counsel, Revco Drug & Family Dollar (1980-1993). Endorsements: Home Builders Assoc., Cumberland Conservatives. Sounds a bit too cozy with the realtors/developers, don't really consider counsel for corporate stores to be a great endorsement, definitely do not consider the Cumberland Consevatives to be a great endorsement. Haven't we got too many conservatives in the court system already?
Sunday, April 13. 2008
Thanks to some sharp sleuthing at BlueNC, we seem to have caught Kay Hagan being less than honest about her reasons for running for the Democratic senate primary, after very pointedly declaring she did not intend to run.
Hagan was quite specific about why she wouldn't run:
“I’ve done a lot of searching on this,” Hagan said. “I feel very good with where I am in my political career, and I enjoy what I’m doing.”Jim Neal announced he would run on Oct. 5th, and Hagan made it plain she would not on Oct. 9th.
Then, suddenly several weeks later, Hagan has second thoughts about running, then on Oct. 30th, announces she will run.
It would seem that the Democratic Party, perfectly willing to have no candidate to run against Dole just a few weeks earlier, was now very upset at the prospect of a gay man representing the party in a run against Dole. And while Mike Easley was happy to play a game of Jim? Jim who?
Update: Three cheers for Mark Binker who DID in fact ask an impolite question.
Before, she said, "I was looking at the best interest of 160,000 people here in Guilford County." But recent events in Washington, she said, convinced her that she "can really best serve the people of North Carolina by being a fresh voice in Washington."Did the fact the one other entrant in the Democratic primary, Jim Neal,acknowledged he was gay have anything to do with your re-entry in the race, either in your own decision making or the motives of those who urged you to run?
It therefore fell to some scruffy and rude blogger to ask the question.
Why did you reverse yourself on running for the U.S. Senate? Did party officials ask you to run because they did not believe an openly gay candidate could win against Dole?To which she responded:
I decided to get in this race when Elizabeth Dole voted against the SCHIP program. On a personal level, I couldn’t believe she’d leave kids without insurance and on a professional level, I knew we in the legislature would have to AGAIN pick up where Washington’s fallen short. North Carolina deserves someone who advocates for them first and foremost.Notice the difference in her answers? Notice how she completely avoided answering the direct question the second time around? Notice in the first interview the creepy reference to herself in the third person? Gee, didn't Bob Dole used to do that?
Anyway, Hagan claims in one interview that nameless recent events in Washington are her reason for changing her mind. In the second, she specifically states that it was Elizabeth Dole's S-CHIP vote that was the key issue.
Well, here's the problem. Dole voted three times against S-CHIP, once on Aug. 2nd, again on Sep. 27th, and finally on Nov. 1st, two days after she announced she was running after all.
This time line raises interesting questions. Taking Hagan at her word that she entered the race to protect the poor children of NC from their callous treatment at the hands of Dole, why did she initially say, with considerable conviction, she wasn't going to run, despite the fact that she knew Dole voted against the S-CHIP program as recently two weeks before? I mean if the plight of the little children bothered Hagan so much, you would think that her Oct. 9th statement about not entering the race would not have been so categorical.
It seems to me that the evidence points to a less savory and more cynical reason for changing her mind, and that is she was pushed into it by the Party Machine in order to dislodge a gay man.
Pam Spaulding lays out more evidence of the DSCC's complicity in the matter, specifically that their web site mentions Hagan prominently as Dole's challenger, with Neal an "also running".
Add to this Hagan's refusal to answer questions from North Carolina's top blogger on LGBT issues, and it pretty much clinches the question. Rather than stand up for a core constituency, the NC Democratic Party and the DSCC are prepared to sabotage a qualified candidate for senate because he's gay.
Now before some of the more "pragmatic" crowd lecture me about being "realistic", let me ask a question. Does anyone care to speculate the reaction from North Carolina's African American population would be if the same tactic were use against a black candidate? Can you see the party pretty much abandoning a race to the GOP, but as soon as a black man filed for the seat, they immediately "persuaded" a white candidate to run against him, while the party leaders professed complete ignorance?
Despite this deceit, Hagan, the state party and the DSCC expect gays and lesbians to loyally shell out their vote and their money to unseat Dole. Perhaps Hagan can explain why this should happen when Dole's position and theirs are functionally the same?
And while we are on the subject of the differences between Hagan and Dole, the state senator took the opportunity to answer a question I didn't ask her when she was professing her concern for the children of NC.
And let me say this – a lot of people have misinterpreted my position on SCHIP, and a lot of people, quite frankly, have said I’m “Elizabeth Dole lite” about this.First off, any time you hear a politician talk about "tobacco farmers", you need to realize they are really talking about cigarette companies.
Second, Hagan uses the typical dishonest ploy of equating taxes on smokers as a tax on farmers. You can argue its the same thing, but its not.
Third, what was Elizabeth Dole's reason for voting against S-CHIP?
She argued that the proposed $35 billion expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program should not be paid for with an increase on the tobacco tax.By economy, she means the economy of RJR, Philip-Morris and Liggett & Myers.
Anyway, here we see the difference between Hagan and Dole. Dole will sacrifice anyone, including children, to her masters peddling death to the public. Hagan, however, draws the line at placing children on the altar of corporate profit, but only if there is absolutely no other choice.
For North Carolina tobacco farmers, and by that I really mean Big Tobacco, Hagan's is, in fact, the better choice in the long run. Dead children can't be enticed to smoke cigarettes, which means a loss 30-40 years of profit per kid, if a smoker dies in childhood.
And THAT is the real difference between Elizabeth Dole and Kay Hagan.
Tuesday, April 1. 2008
Hagan says her 10 years mean she's ready to roll
Greensboro News & Record
State Sen. Kay Hagan stood among friends — about 1,000 teachers and principals — at the N.C. Association of Educators convention in Fayetteville this month .Heh. Yeah this must be part of the mature discourse Democratic "leaders" are always lecturing me about. Heh, heh. Liddy's a witch. Know what else rhymes with "witch"? Isn't that funny.
It was slightly amusing the first 30 times I heard Hagan say it, now it is just damned pathetic.
Hagan tells groups large and small that "Washington is broken" and that she will work across party lines to craft legislation.What broke Washington was the Democratic delusion that the Republicans can be worked with and that they will play fairly. Hasn't happened and is not going to happen.
"I think, especially in a room like this, to heck with the Republicans and their plans; they haven't worked," said Johnny Kaleel, chairman of the Democratic Party in Sampson County. "I want to hear about: 'Let's focus on what we think is the right thing to do and what we know historically has been the right thing to do, and then gather the Democratic majorities, and let's make it happen.' "Yep! But then, this fellow is engaging in "partisan politics".
Later, on a drive between events, Hagan is unapologetic.WE.ARE.NOT.SICK.OF.PARTISAN.POLITICS!!!
We are sick of elected "leaders" who allow the other side to engage in partisan politics, but then roll over when it is time to fight back, all in the name of some bizarre sense of "collegiality".
Characterizing standing up to Republican bullying and lawbreaking as "partisan politics" is right out of the Karl Rove play book. The only people who say "most voters are sick of partisan infighting" are Republicans, and Democrats voting with Republicans.
State Sen. Kay Hagan and Chapel Hill investment adviser Jim Neal agree on a few things: Incumbent Elizabeth Dole has not returned to North Carolina enough and has voted too consistently with President Bush, for example.Translation, cigarettes are more important than kids.
Sorry. If you make your living with tobacco, you are peddling poison. That's a fact. There is nothing unfair about requiring you to pay for the harm you are doing.
On the federal wiretapping bill and granting immunity from legal actions to telephone companies that cooperated with the government:Bullshit!
You took a very firm and direct stand on this issue until it started working against you. You said you favored immunity for telcos who had aided the government in illegal wiretaps.
What is "best for North Carolina" is that people who violate the law be prosecuted. Why is this even a question for Hagan?
On what to call their Republican opponent:Which seems more mature to you?
Hagan is now trying to pretend her view on FISA and teclo immunity is complex and nuanced. It isn't. She supports allowing corporations to commit thousands of violations of the law without penalty. She is offering the justification that this is could somehow be "best" for North Carolina.
Wednesday, March 19. 2008
Update: Answered my own pondering from below. PPP is running a poll on the Neal-Hagan race (and I assume being paid for it, so it would be nice to know who the client is). So, my observation stands. It is, in my opinion, highly improper and unethical for a polling firm to engage in partisan commentary on its official blog. If these folks want to start their own blogs, under their own names and state their opinions, that's cool. But to criticize a candidate in a contest you are conducting a poll about on the company web site, pretty much destroys the value of your poll. It certainly makes me wonder about the accuracy of the poll, as it shows Hagan ahead of Neal by 11 points, whereas the SUSA poll from last week Had Neal ahead of Hagan by 3. SUSA, to my knowledge, doesn't offer critical comments on the subjects of its polls.
I caught this little tidbit on the blog for Public Policy Polling:
Jim Neal violated that axiom last week by putting out a press release that not only called on Kay Hagan to debate but also said that 'Chairwoman Hagan thinks this campaign is about calling in favors from high-dollar Capitol insiders to pay for carpet bombing the state with poll-tested political ads.'The post is written by Tom Jensen, who is PPP's communications director. While Mr. Jensen is certainly as free to offer his opinion about the race, as I, or any other citizen is, I have to question why the officer of a polling firm is doing so on the company's official blog? After all, a polling firm is about measuring people's opinion's on various matters, and it seems to violate the fundamentals to be offering your own opinion on political races.
I guess it would be OK if PPP has no intention of taking clients for the Neal-Hagan race, but if they have worked on such a poll, are conducting such a poll or plan on being paid to conduct such a poll in the future, this would be a serious ethical breach.
Perhaps some professional pollster can enlighten me?
Tuesday, March 11. 2008
Beverly Perdue continues to hold a double-digit lead over Moore in NC Democratic Governor's Primary.
In a Democratic Primary for Governor of North Carolina held today with just eight weeks to the vote, Lieutenant Governor Beverly Perdue defeats state Treasurer Richard Moore, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted exclusively for WTVD-TV. Perdue wins 44% to 28%, Compared to an identical SurveyUSA poll released one month ago, the contest has tightened ever-so-slightly. Perdue led by 20 points then, leads by 16 points now. 28% choose another candidate, or are undecided.I assume they are claiming "tied" because the lead is within the MoE.
In a Democratic Primary in North Carolina with eight weeks to the vote, Barack Obama leads Hillary Clinton 49% to 41%, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted exclusively for WTVD-TV. Compared to an identical SurveyUSA poll released one month ago, before Obama won Virginia, Maryland, and Wisconsin, and before Clinton won Texas and Ohio, the contest in NC is largely unchanged. Then, Obama led by 10, now by 8. In Charlotte, Obama led by 2 points a month ago, by 7 points now. In Southern and Eastern NC, Obama led by 4 points a month ago, by 8 points now. Only in Raleigh and Greensboro did Clinton slice into Obama, trimming his lead from 16 points a month ago to 8 points. Among women, Obama and Clinton are effectively even, as they were last month. Among men, Obama leads by 13. Clinton leads 5-to-3 among whites. Obama leads 5-to-1 among blacks. Obama leads among voters under age 50. The two are tied among voters age 50+.We have to help Jim Neal solidify his lead against Hagan. We don't need any more "bi-partisan" Democrats in Washington.
Tuesday, February 26. 2008
Activists favoring Neal for Senate
Greensboro News & Record
Ask 10 voters who identify themselves as "progressive" Democrats what their wing of the party believes in, and you might very well get 10 different answers.I am not a fan of the word "progressive". The word was taken up by folks on our side when conservatives successfully demonized the word "liberal". By using "progressive" instead of "liberal" we help conservatives destroy the discourse by redefining words.
Of course, gaining the support of progressives is not necessarily a path to victory. Although the progressive wing of the party includes activists who will staff phone banks and knock on doors, it does not control the traditional levers of power. Moderate Democrats, who are more sympathetic to businesses, have more fundraising clout, and they comprise a larger portion of sitting legislators.People who buy into this line of reasoning do so at their peril. You can't win elections without ground troops, which is not a task the "traditional levers of power" sully their hands with. They are looking to BUY politicians, we are looking to elect LEADERS.
Hagan is not giving up on the progressive vote. In an interview Friday, she declined to place herself in any one philosophical camp, but said her campaign's emphases on providing health care to all and ending the war in Iraq should appeal to all voters, including progressives.This is a VERY disappointing comment from Neal. By rejecting the word liberal, he gives unspoken credence to the conservative tactic of making it a derogatory term, thus he has done half of the Republican's job for them.
There are three groups in the Democratic party at the moment:
1) People helping Bush destroy the Constitution (Vichy Democrats like Lieberman, and ANY Dem who voted for the FISA bill)
2) People who worship at the altar of "bi-partisanship" and "compromise", and by their stupidity and cupidity, help Bush destroy the Constitution.
3) People who actively and aggressive oppose the destruction of the Constitution and are fighting to restore the parts eroded away in the last seven years.
The last group are Liberals, and that is the group that Hagan expresses disdain for, and Neal appears to be expressing shame for.
Expressing an opinion that the country has become a de-facto police state, is met by folks like Hagan and the NC Democratic Machine with either condescension or sneering contempt. Apparently the truth is too too uncouth, too shocking for them to stomach and they get a case of the vapours when anyone is rude enough to make this point.
How the Hell would these folks deal with comments like this?
Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.Golly, gee willikers, Batman, it sounds like this fellow is actually saying that we should be ready to die for liberty.
I can hear folks like Hagan now.
"Yes, Mr. Henry, that was a nice speech, but if you really want to win elections you have to take a more diplomatic tone. We must reach across the aisle to our Tory colleagues and work together in the spirit of bi-partisanship to insure the security of the colonies. Such a divisive tone will make it impossible for us to accomplish comity with the King."
Meanwhile Neal, who is running as an outsider, would be the first openly gay U.S. Senate nominee in the state's history.This is a very tired meme. Not long ago, Obama was unelectable because he was black. People really need to stop living in the Jesse Helms' era. Obama is bringing out a LOT of young voters, people who have NO problem with being gay. In fact, if the contest for the Dem nomination is still undecided, Neal stands a good chance of winning the nomination, AND defeating Dole. What the Hell is Dole going to run on? Her service to NC? When has that damned carpetbagger ever been in the state, never mind helped any North Carolinian beyond the upper 1% who bought her?
Kay Hagan's worship of bi-partisanship and compromise represent the same policies that have failed us and lost us elections for the at least 16 years.
I was very aggravated that the reporter failed to mention that Hagan had said she would have voted FOR the FISA bill, specifically she would have voted FOR immunity for Telecomms that committed multiple felonies (hundreds, if not thousands of violations, in fact), by permitting Bush warrantless wiretaps. This was a critical omission by the reporter (or his editor), since it is at the core of the opposition now building against Hagan.
In this, Ms. Hagan found lots of companionship. People who claim that in the interests of fairness (multi-billion dollar corporations are such an oppressed minority in this country), compromise, and national "security", many of them voted in favor of the bill This is EXACTLY the kind of thinking that got us into Iraq, squandered countless American and Iraqis lives, burned through a half-trillion dollars, and utterly debased our Constitution.
To those individuals, I close with a picture of that crystallizes the actions of "bi-partisan" fetishists like Hagan, and a snippet of Patrick Henry which should stand as a stark caution of where that type of thinking has led us, and will lead us if pursued.
Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love?
Sunday, February 17. 2008
Today I was in Winston-Salem to see Jim Neal address local Dems and hear his views before making my decision on who to support in the primary race the US Senate. When I arrived at the venue I learned that it was actually a double bill, with Kay Hagan as well.
I was told by one of the folks helping organize the event that Ms. Hagan had been invited to appear with Mr. Neal so that questions could be put to both candidates at the same time, highlighting their similarities and differences on the issues of the day. Ms. Hagan, however, declined to appear with Mr. Neal for some reason, so she was first up on the stage and took questions from two moderators, who picked from questions submitted by the audience.
This annoyed me, since if I have to submit my questions in advance and have them filtered, then I can attend a Republican candidate's talk (to their credit when I made this point, in writing, they took some questions directly from the audience during Mr. Neal's time).
Since questions were being screened and I had already heard Ms. Hagan's views I decided to take a walk and come back when Mr. Neal was up. I spent 15 minutes in a nice park catching up on the news on my iPod and began to think that perhaps I should go listen to her again, in the interest of fairness. First impressions can sometimes be misleading, and so I owed her another look. I went back in and listened to her expound on her views.
Interestingly enough, she seemed determined to impress upon us the need for "crossing the aisle" to accomplish legislation. She explains that that is how she accomplished so mush in Raleigh over the years. She expressed no desire to "fall on her sword" for issues when the best solution to them was compromise.
Where do I begin.
First, Ms. Hagan, Washington is not Raleigh, NC. In North Carolina we actually have a few sane Republicans who understand the need to work with Democrats in order to solve North Carolina's problems. This is just not so in Washington. There are no moderate Republicans who will buck the party on any issue of substance. Those that do are driven from office by the howling loons like Grover Norquist and James Dobson.
As a friend of mine recently put it, "Bipartisanship = date rape in the mind of your average Republican on the Hill."
Second, I don't want you to "fall on your sword" for ANYTHING, I want you to brain looney Republicans with your sword and explain to them that the adults are now back in charge of the nation. The fact that you seem to believe that a sword is a device for harming yourself, rather than defeating the opposition speaks volumes as to why you are not suited for the job you seek. We can't expect to accomplish anything in Washington if I and other North Carolinians have to constantly remind you "the pointy side goes toward the enemy."
If I was shocked by naivety about the lay of the political landscape, I was not prepared for the next question she answered.
She was asked if she would have voted for, or against, the FISA bill this week which would have granted retroactive immunity to Telcos for felony violations of the current FISA law.
Ms. Hagan explained that she was against Telcos spying on Americans, but that she would have voted FOR the bill, and granted them immunity, but that future law breaking would not be tolerated.
I'm sorry, but such an answer is worthy of Joe Lieberman and shows that Ms. Hagan is either hopelessly in the pocket of the Telcos, or completely ignorant of FISA, what it entails, and why these people must be prosecuted, or the whole rule of law becomes a joke.
I inferred from her remarks that she believes that the Telcos broke the law with "the best of intentions" and that is why they should get a pass. That AT&T et al, were so concerned about national security they agreed to something they didn't realize was illegal.
Sorry, that is just pure crap. They knew what they were doing, and if we put their asses on trial we'll probably learn the reason they did it was the promise of future contracts (after all, we need somebody to monitor these taps since we don't have enough FBI agents for the job and Halliburton's plate already full). We will also learn that the wiretaps were going on long before 9/11 and that the people being watched were probably probably watched for political, not criminal reasons. Retroactive immunity is the price Bush is willing to pay to keep these people off the stand and talking.
If the Telcos were really so concerned about "national security" then why did they shut down the wiretaps when the DoJ didn't pay the phone bill? If they were just running illegal wiretaps because they were trying to be "good Americans" they apparently aren't prepared to be good Americans if they are not paid for it.
Bush and his Vichy Democrat collaborators frame the Telco immunity debate as being about saving American lives. It is nothing of the sort, unless these same people hold Telco immunity as more important than American lives, then the simple, sensible and ethical thing to do would be to strip immunity from the bill and pass the bill so as "keep us safe", while the issue of Telco immunity is debated separately. The only reason the immunity was put in the FISA bill was so Bush could accused anyone who didn't vote for the bill as helping terrorists and endangering America.
It is a kindergarten-level ploy that seems to be beyond the ken of folks like Kay Hagan, who has apparently fallen for it hook, line and sinker. Either that, or Ms. Hagan puts the welfare of corporations above the law, she'll have to tell us which it is.
No matter how we address it, Ms. Hagan has has expressed her willingness to excuse multiple felonies committed against the American people in order to "reach across the aisle" and "compromise" with the Republicans in the spirit of "bi-partisanship".
To that, I only have only this to say:
For the record, Jim Neal was completely opposed to immunity and would have voted NO on the bill.
Wednesday, February 13. 2008
Update: In light of Ms. Hagan's support of Telco immunity in the FISA, I must regretfully withdraw any support for her candidacy.
Kay Hagan, presumptive Democratic senatorial candidate for NC was in Greensboro last night to touch base with the party faithful and drum up support for her campaign against absentee senator and all out disgrace Elizabeth Dole.
Before I get into the particulars of the meeting let me address a few points.
Ms. Hagan is a NC state senator and has done an excellent job representing her constituents. If she wins the primary and defeats Liddy Dole, it will be a tremendous step forward and I have every confidence she will do us proud, as the saying goes.
That said, I went to the meeting last night in search of a leader, but only found a politician. A conscientious and ethical politician by all appearances, but a politician none the less.
Things started out well, and she said all the right things. We needed to address the health care crisis, Iraq required a diplomatic, not a military solution, NC needed someone to represent all its citizens, not just those with lots of money. My cynical heart began to thaw, and the hope that I found someone I could support without reservation began to tingle. Then, at the very end, she evoked the dreaded "B" word. She would strive for bi-partisanship.
The crackling sound was my heart freezing back over and hope dying in the cold.
Whether Ms. Hagan is aware of it or not, "bi-partisanship" to those of us unashamed of the word "liberal", is code for "Guess when I am going to sell you down the river?".
Even for those who would never betray their principles for "bi-partisanship", the term when used by a Democrat in any way other than contemptuously reveals a dangerous naivety about reality. "Bi-partisanship" has only one definition amongst the Washington elite (pundits and politicians): The Republicans always get their way. The Democrats always accommodate them. Any Democrat who doesn't understand this has not been paying attention to political events in Washington for at least the last decade.
I addressed this point in the Q&A part of the meeting and I was the last person to address her.
Now, I will be perfectly frank. I make speeches to drive home my point or question. This can be VERY annoying to politicians who are used to dominating the rhetorical ground with their own speeches, but then again, in my book, such things are what separate the politicians from the leaders.
And I was pretty wound up given the betrayal YET AGAIN of liberal and Democratic principal on the altar of "bi-partisanship". Reid changed the rules on the FISA debate to make an actual filibuster impossible. As a result, the telcos were granted immunity for crimes they committed at the behest of George W. Bush.
Let me reiterate this betrayal. Harry Reid had a clear choice between the rule of law and protecting his corporate masters. He chose to serve his corporate masters.
So, I mentioned this betrayal. I also mentioned Scalia's novel interpretation of the Constitution and its lack of clarity on torture. I made plain that 14 years of "bi-partisanship" had rendered us a de facto police state. Yes, I used that dreaded to term, derided by "serious politicians" as hyperbole. To compound my sin, I also called the current administration "fascist clowns". Nothing gets you labeled a "dirty fucking hippy" than using the word fascist to describe the administration, no matter how true the description is.
At one point during my remarks, Ms. Hagan smiled and interrupted with "Do you have a question?" This further solidified her as a politician in my book, since it is the standard reaction of an annoyed politician who sees they are losing control of the conversation and the topics are shifting into dangerous territory. The fact that several of my points got applause and vocal support didn't help.
Is this about ego? Partially, since standing up to question authority always requires a bit of ego. Then, why are our politicians the only ones allowed to have an ego?
My remarks tapped into the visceral anger that quite a few people felt about what our country has become in the last 14 years of "bi-partisanship". Ms. Hagan, in my unhumble opinion, didn't want to go there.
She was tolerant of my rudeness, and let me have my say, but in the end my question was "are you going to fight or are you going to be "bi-partisan"?". And in the end, she didn't really answer the question.
After the Q&A, she started heading for the door. I was not the person she wanted to speak to further. But, I am not deterred, and approached her for the opportunity to have my question answered privately.
She was polite and gracious, but she didn't have much use for my way of thinking. She departed quickly, her discomfort with me obvious.
To her credit, Chris, one of her staffers sought me out after she left, gave me his card and sought to address my concerns (making it explicitly, and appropriately clear he spoke only for himself, not Ms. Hagan). He assured me that he was a die hard liberal himself, and he would not be working on the campaign if didn't believe in Ms. Hagan and what she stood for.
His loyalty and faith were touching, and he made me sad that I was no longer that idealistic. His faith in his Boss re-assured me that we were in decent hands, despite my misgivings.
But it is sad that Ms. Hagan does not recognize the powerful force she ignores when she shys away from being a leader, and embraces the safer middle ground of "bi-partisanship". Those very same champions or "bi-partisanship" will knife her in the back when it suits their purpose (Senator Joe Lieberman, j'accuse!). By gaining the support of people like me, she would gain a loyal cadre of battle-hardened troops who would have her back.
I estimate that somewhere between 70-100 people were at this event. After the meeting broke up, about a dozen people approached me and thanked me for my comments. A few were quite animated that I had spoken their feelings aloud. In these days of elections won by a handful of votes, this vocal minority is ignored at peril.
Senator Hagan will have my vote if she wins the primary. I guess that's all she wants (well that, and money). I will now visit her opponent Jim Neal to see if he is a leader. Even if he is, I have no illusions about his chances. He's gay, and the the powers that be in the NC party, like Jim Hunt and Mike Easley, are not going to alienate their moderate base by backing a gay man.
But if Jim Neal is a leader, and not a politician, he'll have my vote in the primary and I'll have his back.
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