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Sunday, August 18, 2019

Lots of people giggled when the Log Cabin Republicans endorsed he president after rejecting him in 2016. Want some easy spit-takes? Here's a line-by-line of just how servile they are.

On August 14, the Department of Labor announced a new rule allowing religious employers the maximum freedom to discriminate against LGBT Americans: employees, customers, suppliers, anyone. As Vox reported,

Trump’s executive order interprets that exemption far more broadly to include a much larger group of employers, such as for-profit companies that have a religious affiliation (St. Jude’s Hospital, Goodwill, and Georgetown University, for example). 

The new rule also explicitly creates a broader definition of the word “religion.” Instead of viewing religion as a particular organized religion, the government would now include “all aspects of religious belief, observance, and practice as understood by the employer.” That language is very vague. 

But here is the most concerning line in the 46-page document: The rule would “clarify that the religious exemption allows religious contractors not only to prefer in employment individuals who share their religion, but also to condition employment on acceptance of or adherence to religious tenets as understood by the employing contractor.” 

In other words, not only could a religious hospital that contracts with the government refuse to hire someone who is Muslim or Jewish, they could also refuse to hire someone in a same-sex marriage or fire someone who had sex before marriage.

On August 16, the president’s solicitor general filed a brief with the Supreme Court arguing that transgender discrimination in employment is not illegal under the Civil Rights Act (under former Attorney General Sessions, the government argued that no LGBT Americans at all have any rights against discrimination).

In between those two announcements- on August 15- the leadership of the Log Cabin Republicans- a gay and lesbian group whose members will suffer any torture to be welcome at GOP cocktail parties- issued this article in The Washington Post.

Trump met his commitments to LGBTQ Americans. He has our endorsement.

 By Robert Kabel and Jill Homan The Washington Post, August 15, 2019

Robert Kabel is chairman of Log Cabin Republicans. Jill Homan is the vice chairwoman of Log Cabin Republicans.

[Kabel has been running LCR in one guise or another since the early ‘90s. He is a Washington DC lobbyist. Homan is a real estate speculator- a small business owner, she says- responsible for “sourcing, underwriting, structuring, and executing commercial real estate investment opportunities which include multi-family and office acquisitions” with over $155 million in investments and transactions. A true small business.

[So minuscule is the GOP in the District of Columbia that Kabel and Homan represent DC on the Republican National Committee, where their influence is risible.]

[Here’s what they say:]

While the chasm between left and right in this nation continues to grow and even the definitions of “liberal” and “conservative” seem to be up for debate, 

[I do not know Ms. Homan, but in the course of my misspent youth, I served a term on the LCR board and never heard Kabel express a desire for bipartisanship.]

there is one unambiguous sign of progress: The arc of history for America’s LGBTQ community continues to bend toward equality and inclusion. But even as we celebrate our victories, we know there is more to be done. 

[“Our victories?” LCR opposes the Equality Act now pending in Congress. They had zero impact on the battle for marriage equality.]

Though the visibility of LGBTQ business leaders such as Tim Cook and Peter Thiel is part of a rapidly changing corporate environment, 

[Tim Cook came out at 54 once he was firmly settled as Steve Jobs’ successor at Apple. He supports and raises money for Democrats. Hillary Clinton considered him for vice president. 

[Peter Thiel is a libertarian and former backer of the homophobic, racist icon, Congressman Ron Paul. He cuts checks for some of the most anti-LGBT Republicans in America (SC Senator Jim DeMint, Ted Cruz, former NC congressman and indicted former NCGOP chair Robin Hayes, Putin whore Dana Rohrabacher, WA chronic candidate and reactionary Dino Rossi, and nativist bigot Tom Tancredo) because they promise him ever-fewer checks on the building of vast wealth and the advancement of income inequality. The GOP adores him because money drives his life, and he can buy protection from discrimination as he pleases.

[The only other major LGBT corporate chiefs are the heads of Qantas and Land o' Lakes Butter.]

LGBTQ individuals can still be fired just for being gay in a majority of states in America. 

[LCR has done nothing about this except hand-wring.]

And while numerous societies have moved to ensure widespread equality for gays and lesbians, our LGBTQ brothers and sisters face persecution in too many countries abroad.

[Mostly, this occurs in repressive societies Donald Trump admires, and repressive societies Donald Trump hates. Go figure.]

Not all of these signs of change have been equally visible to the population at large. 

[Please re-read the text above and see how many signs of change you can find.]

For LGBTQ Republicans, watching the 2016 GOP convention before Donald Trump took the stage was like a dream fulfilled. The distance between that event and Pat Buchanan’s hate-filled exhortation against the LGBTQ community in Houston in 1992 is a powerful measurement of how far we’ve come. 

[At its heart, the LCR mission is to be invited to the top rung of GOP parties. When Kabel and Homan write of “how far we’ve come”, they mean stacking the DC 2016 convention delegation with seven gay/lesbian delegates out of 19. The Rapture will come when they get to have booths at CPAC and the Values Voters conference.]

Some of the moral leaders who stood with Buchanan back then were still there three years ago in Cleveland, to be sure. But this time, they refrained from passing judgment on gays and lesbians. 

[Rachel Hoff, another DC insider, sat on the 2016 GOP convention platform committee and pleaded for humiliatingly small concessions on LGBT rights. The committee made a hash of her. See, “Republican Platform Tilts Right Of Trump On LGBT Issues“, NPR, July 13, 2016.]

And in an extraordinarily uplifting moment, Thiel uttered the words for the first time, “I am proud to be gay. I am proud to be a Republican. But most of all, I am proud to be an American.” He was met with thunderous standing applause from the body of the Republican Party.

[See Thiel’s profile, above. Republicans rose up on their hind legs out of astonishment and joy that a gay man would castrate himself before them.]

This is the party that Trump has helped make possible by moving past the culture wars that dominated the 1990s and early 2000s, in particular by removing gay rights as a wedge issue from the old Republican playbook.

[See the 2016 Republican platform. The only thing Trump ever said about gay rights was that he would protect The Gays from Muslim terrorists.]

And since taking office, President Trump has followed through on many of his commitments to the United States, including taking bold actions that benefit the LGBTQ community.

[“Many” means “none”, so this claim is, literally, true.]

He has committed to end the spread of HIV/AIDS in 10 years, through the use of proven science, medicine and technology to which we now have access. This scourge decimated a generation of gay men in the United States and continues to inflict pain, suffering and death at home and abroad.

[The president’s plan was announced in the State of the Union address in February 2019. Nothing has come of it since.]

Trump has used the United States’ outsize global influence 

[See Michael Hirsh, “America’s Road to Reputational Ruin,” Foreign Policy, July 17, 2019.]

to persuade other nations to adopt modern human rights standards, including launching an initiative to end the criminalization of homosexuality, which is considered illegal in more than 70 countries. To lead this effort, the president has chosen the highest-ranking LGBTQ individual in the administration, Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany,

[That Grenell is the Top Gay tells you a lot. The president thinks he is dreamy: “The source recalled conversations they had with Trump amid the battle over Grenell's confirmation. "It would be," the source said, recounting Trump's comments, "'great looking guy.' He literally called him 'my beautiful Grenell,'" the source added. "He said it with, just, a great deal of pride. Like, 'Look at him go.' He loves it." Grenell had a Scaramucci-length tenure as presidential candidate Mitt Romney's foreign policy advisor. Then the evangelicals got wind of it.]

who brings his experience as the United States’ spokesman at the United Nations to bear on this critical campaign.

[Trump’s concern for LGBT rights has always been a con. The Grenell initiative was another State of the Union pander. He had no plan, and nothing has come of it. Nothing will, because most of Trump’s closest authoritarian supporters are the worst offenders. This plan was concocted to pressure Iran. 

[Like evangelicals who ship money off for foreign missions while ignoring poverty and homelessness at their back door, he cares about LGBT foreigners more than he does Americans, whose throttling is the price of US evangelicals' support. See, Jared Kellner, “FOR TRUMP, LGBT RIGHTS ARE FOREIGN POLICY, NOT A DOMESTIC CONCERN,” Pacific Standard, July 12, 2019: “The pronouncements bookend a miserable three years for Trump on LGBT rights. Since taking office, Trump announced on Twitter that he would bar transgender Americans from serving in the United States armed forces; nominated judicial nominees with distinctly anti-LGBT records; beat back protections for transgender students attending schools that receive federal funding; rolled back protections for transgender employees under current civil rights law; sought to define gender on the basis of immutable biological features in a move that could legally categorize trans Americans out of existence; and, as recently as last week, ordered U.S. embassies not to fly the rainbow Pride flag.”]

And Grenell is one of many LGBTQ appointees whom Trump has tapped to serve in his administration. 

[Trump has gotten one lesbian federal judge confirmed, out of 146. He has appointed three gay ambassadors: Grenell, a GOP activist, and career State Department diplomats to the powerhouse embassies of Lithuania and Nepal. 

[He has a deputy press secretary who says he is sure the president would have no issue with his gayosity even though he has never met him, and he works in an office that gives no press briefings to anyone. 

[He has an assistant secretary of state- a former Log Cabineteer- on the payroll. That’s it. 

[BTW: whenever there’s A Gay to be sworn in, Trump sends Like Pence to do it.]

They serve America’s people and the government with honor and distinction, just as Leonard Matlovich sought to do in 1975 by appearing on the cover of Time magazine with the famous caption “I Am a Homosexual,” catapulting the plight of those discharged from the military into public light.

[The president banned transgender military personnel. When Leonard Matlovich was an LGBT activist, Log Cabin was not at his side. Gay service members continued to be dishonorably discharged for another thirty-five years after he came out. He sued and won reinstatement but accepted a cash payout because he knew the military would just find another reason to discharge him. He died in 1988.]

And it is not merely policies specific to LGBTQ people that have been good for our community. The president’s tax cuts have benefited LGBTQ families and helped put food on their tables. 

[In other words, they are now grasping at straws.]

[“MARK MAZUR: Low-income families with children might see a tax cut of $50 or $100 a year. In the middle-income categories, the tax cuts would be several hundred dollars.

[ZARROLI: And he says high-end taxpayers may have saved thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars. Though Trump initially promised that rich people would be hurt by his tax bill, they weren't, says former Obama administration official David Kamin.

[DAVID KAMIN: Those at the top are not paying, on average, more because of this bill. Quite the opposite - they're getting a disproportionate amount of this tax cut.” NPR, “The Losers And Winners Of The Trump Administration's Big Tax Cut,” April 15, 2019.

His opportunity zones have helped create new LGBTQ-founded small businesses. 

[This is not true. I defy Kabel and Homan to show proof of a single instance: “The Opportunity Zone program, part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, has been touted as a key tool in revitalizing distressed communities. The Trump administration argues that giving tax breaks to investors to incentivize investments in certain struggling geographical areas will in turn benefit these communities and their residents.

[“Critics of the Opportunity Zone program, however, argue that such trickle-down approaches do not work, and that this latest tax break only adds to the tax giveaways for the rich. Moreover, they point to evidence that the program is geared exclusively toward the wealthy and could even harm the residents and communities it is meant to serve. Proponents, on the other hand, have touted new projects—the result of incentivized investment—that could benefit distressed communities. Which side is ultimately correct depends on the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s guidance on how to implement the program. Its most recent set of rules, however, make clear that the Opportunity Zone program will not be a tool for economic development. If it was, Treasury would have imposed strict guidelines that ensured the projects funded through the program are those needed and vetted by targeted communities. However, the loose rules and favorable eligibility requirements in Treasury’s new guidelines will ensure that the Opportunity Zone program is just a tax shelter for the wealthy to park their capital gains.” The best you can say is that it is like the tax cut claim, above, some LGBT Americans might share in the crumbs.]

The administration’s aggressive negotiations on trade deals have preserved LGBTQ jobs. 

[How many? Aggressive negotiations have not, so far, produced one single new trade deal passed into law. And, as Kabel and Homan- and I- note, above, in most states firing people for being LGBT is legal and the president wants to make it universal.]

His hard line on foreign policy has protected LGBTQ lives. 

[How many? Where? And how many in the US? What about the State Department's new advisory commission on redefining what “human rights” are, stacked with antigay activists? And what does this do for us in the crushing hinge in America?]

What benefits all Americans benefits the LGBTQ community, as we cross every racial, socioeconomic, religious and cultural divide.

[This makes no sense whatever.]

While we do not agree with every policy or platform position presented by the White House or the Republican Party, we share a commitment to individual responsibility, personal freedom and a strong national defense. To paraphrase President Ronald Reagan, 80 percent my friend is not 20 percent my enemy. 

[The GOP is committed to repealing or gutting LGBT rights from top to bottom. Anyone with a head can see it in their policies, the president’s administrative and judicial appointments, and the bales of religious freedom laws being passed at the state level. We see it in the increasing levels of LGBT hate crimes, ans the growing number of GOP officer holders and preachers calling for the extrajudicial execution of LGBT Americans- without consequence. The Trump cabinet is the most anti-LGBT in history. His federal judicial nominees seem to have to answer only one question: “Hate the gays?”

[As Frank Bruni points out, Trump has the same flabby, personal indifference to LGBT Americans the Reagans did. They admitted wealthy ones into their circles but did, and said nothing while their apparatchiks woke up every day keen to throttle The Gays.

We are committed to letting all qualified Americans serve in the military, 

[This claim is like declaring that the moon is round and pizza is delicious. The president has not challenged the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.]

and Log Cabin Republicans was a leader in the legal fight to end the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

[They filed a lawsuit in 2004. It took until 2010 to bring to trial. It was dismissed as moot because Congress repealed the policy. While they wanked away six years in federal court, the fight was won on Capitol Hill.]

We oppose the transgender service restriction and will continue to press the administration to reconsider.

[So far the president has not even acknowledged LCR’s endorsement. As is the case with black athletes, he hasn’t time for men on their knees.]

To be treated equally, fairly and justly under the law is our goal, and we know that “Inclusion Wins” is a mantra we share with the president. The Log Cabin Republicans endorse Donald Trump for reelection as president.

[A mantra is “a sacred utterance, a numinous sound, a syllable, word or phonemes, or group of words in Sanskrit believed by practitioners to have psychological and/or spiritual powers.” For Log Cabin Republicans, it is the delusion that they, too, will have a Sally Field Moment.]

Thursday, July 4, 2019

In his rush to repeal meaningless federal rules, the president has overlooked the flag code.

"Any rule or custom pertaining to the display of the flag of the United States of America, set forth herein, may be altered, modified, or repealed, or additional rules with respect thereto may be prescribed, by the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, whenever he deems it to be appropriate or desirable; and any such alteration or additional rule shall be set forth in a proclamation." 4 USC Sec. 10

A Facebook acquaintance is prepping for the Trumpforth:

4 U.S. Code § 8. Respect for flag

No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.

(d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker’s desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.

"once upon a time the left had a different idea about the flag!" he added.

Abbie Hofffman, who was arrested for wearing this.

Let's ponder that comment, and how, over fifty years, ostentatious Christianist Trump-basers have made a former heresy their own.

First, let Wikipedia remind us of the socialist origins of the US flag code. It was adopted by a group of American nationalist groups in the flush of the 1920s KKK revival:

Prior to Flag Day, June 14, 1923, neither the federal government nor the states had official guidelines governing the display of the United States' flag. On that date, the National Flag Code was constructed by representatives of over 68 organizations, under the auspices of the National Americanism Commission of the American Legion. The code drafted by that conference was printed by the national organization of the American Legion and given nationwide distribution.

On June 22, 1942, the code became Public Law 77-623; chapter 435. Little had changed in the code since the Flag Day 1923 Conference. The most notable change was the removal of the Bellamy salute due to its similarities to the Hitler salute.

In 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Eichman that the prohibition of burning the U.S. flag conflicts with the First Amendment right to freedom of speech and is therefore unconstitutional.

The Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005 prohibits real estate management organizations from restricting homeowners from displaying the Flag of the United States on their own property.

The Army Specialist Joseph P. Micks Federal Flag Code Amendment Act of 2007 added a provision to fly the flag at half-staff upon the death of a member of the Armed Forces from any State, territory, or possession who died while serving on active duty. It also gave the mayor of the District of Columbia the authority to direct that the flag be flown at half-staff. Federal facilities in the area covered by the governor or mayor of the District of Columbia will also fly the flag at half-staff as directed.

The Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (Sec. 595.) allows the military salute for the flag during the national anthem by members of the Armed Forces not in uniform and by veterans.

(It's worth noting that Duncan Hunter's son is presently under indictment for using campaign funds, inter alia, to fund at least five extramarital affairs, and has blamed his wife for it. He's also a keen vaper!). Also, no liberals present at the creation of the flag code, just those nasty flag burning supreme Court justices acting out that one time before the president fixed the court last year.

The flag code is, the Congress says,

The following codification of existing rules and customs pertaining to the display and use of the flag of the United States of America is established for the use of such civilians or civilian groups or organizations as may not be required to conform with regulations promulgated by one or more executive departments of the Government of the United States. 

In other words, it's advisory. Americans hate advisory when it doesn't suit them, and try to make it mandatory when it does.

 November 8, 2016:

December 17, 2016:

'A man dressed in American flag clothes holds "Make America Great Again" hats before a campaign rally at the Ladd–Peebles Stadium, Dec. 17, 2016, in Mobile, Alabama.' "Is 'Make America Great Again' Racist?" Voice of America, August 31, 2017

January 20, 2017:

September 27, 2017:

“The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free,” the code reads.

That means flag shirts, scarves, swimsuits are all considered disrespectful, even though they are widely accepted.

Here’s Trump’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke wearing socks printed with the American flag to a meeting:

March 24, 2018:

 Kid Rock Wore American Flag Pants to Golf with President Trump, Esquire magazine

"...Of course, Twitter denizens were quick to clown on Kid Rock's ridiculous golf wear, and eager to point out that wearing the American flag as a clothing item is a violation of the United States Flag Code."

May 18, 2019:

 Trump supporters gear up for 2020 in Sterling Heights, Macomb Daily, May 18, 2019

"Remarks are offered by Londa Gatt, USA Regional Midwest director of Bikers for Trump."

But the ultimate expression of modern American partisan patriotism is this git from 2017. Note the legend on the shirt.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

UNC board members tells male graduates, buy a nice ring for a woman, and both will increase in value

A Jesse Helms protege shared his Ozzie-and-Harriet worldview with UNC-Wilmington graduates at their graduation last weekend.

Tossing the one-minute welcome the university gave him to read, UNC governor Tom Fetzer, 64, launched into a six-minute lecture on "topics including continuing education, personal advice on finances, and technology," The Wilmington Star-News reported.

In his off-the-cuff remarks, Fetzer offered a view of life that would have made the late actor Doris Day weep with joy:
Let me just cut to the chase young ladies, there are only two things in this world you should borrow money for. Your continuing education and a house. Pay cash for everything else because it’s a depreciating asset and you will end up owing more than it is worth. And that is the road to ruin. Those are the parents clapping. Young men, I will add one thing to the list for which you may borrow money. A diamond ring. Because it will appreciate, and so will she.
Elected mayor of Raleigh in 1993, Fetzer spent six years seeking endless tax cuts, privatization of city services and arguing that arts funding was a waste of money. He then became a powerful lobbyist, land speculator, and political consultant to losing presidential candidates Elizabeth Dole, Newt Gingrich, and Marco Rubio.

He was elected state GOP chair in 2009 and, with gobs of money from dime store billionaire Art Pope, led the party to win control of the North Carolina General Assembly and gerrymander themselves into power for the next decade. The legislature, busy stacking the UNC board of governors with Republican pols while downsizing it to make the old white men feel more comfortable, appointed him in 2017.

Within a couple of months, Fetzer drafted and sent a letter chiding board chair Louis Bissette and system president Margaret Spellings for insufficient protection of a Confederate memorial on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus without showing it to 13 members.

He then joined a cabal of UNC board members to call for the board to create its own staff and move away from Chapel Hill to run the university system directly.
"The process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies in search of something in which no one believes but to which no one objects,” he said, reading Thatcher’s definition to the board on Sept. 7. “The process of avoiding the very issues that have to be solved, merely because you cannot get agreement on the way ahead.” 
Divisions in this board, if respectful, will be very helpful,” he said. “Raging internal conflict is a long-held American tradition, and I think even the casual student of history would have to agree that nothing great in this country occurred without a raging, raucous, robust, passionate debate beforehand.”
In 2018, Fetzer launched a private investigation of a candidate for chancellor of Western Carolina University and circulated the results to the board. He explained,
Upon reviewing the WCU candidate’s 50-page curriculum vitae, using an obscure and highly sophisticated investigative tool called Google, it took me all of two minutes to confirm an apparent misrepresentation by the candidate on page 1 of the person’s resume.
Then Fetzer hired a PI friend to investigate the candidate, who withdrew from consideration after having been vetted by two consulting firms and presented by president Spellings for approval. Fetzer admitted he had been recommended for the job himself and that his position on the board gave him access to the personal information he exploited.

Spellings, who got the presidency in 2015 after the board ousted a respected but Democratic incumbent, lasted only three years as the General Assembly turned the board over with new governors from the increasingly radical end of the state GOP and the legislature itself. She resigned n 2018.

In 2009, Fetzer- then 54- filed suit against a talk show host who forwarded a letter suggested he was gay.
Tom Fetzer, who served as mayor from 1993 to 1999, is running to be chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party. He said an anonymous letter was sent to GOP leaders claiming that he is a homosexual. 
Fetzer said Curtis Wright, a radio and television talk show host in Wilmington, forwarded the letter to the officials. Fetzer sued Wright and the stations where he works in May 2009. 
"I am not gay – never have been, never will be. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support any of the scurrilous allegations made in the anonymous attack on me," Fetzer wrote in a letter to Republicans. "I will spare no cost or hardship in defending my good name. I intend to vigorously pursue legal action against any and all who spread these lies."
Fetzer married- " in a small wedding"- four months later.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Pawns flock to Bishop in NC congressional do-over primary

Decades of data tell us that political primary voters are the most motivated, and ideologically strict- of all registered residents in any given district.

This is all the more so in gerrymandered districts, where, once a party has chosen and stuffed its nominee into office, voting becomes a ritual act for years- sometimes decades- thereafter.

North Carolina, for example, has ten Republican members of Congress despite routinely winning only half the vote. David Lewis, the chief gerrymanderer in the General Assembly, was candid in a 2016 presser: after federal courts struck down his plan for stacking minority voters in a few districts, he just redrew the lines to stack Democratic Party voters in a few districts.

Po-faced, Lewis said his plan rigged ten Republicans in place only because he couldn’t make it rig eleven.

The one hazard to gerrymandering is when a party long unused to competing picks bad candidates. NC Republican voters did that when they elected Robert Pittenger, a Campus Crusade for Christ organizer from Texas who found he’d rather harvest real estate than souls.

Pittinger barely won his seat in 2012, was unopposed in 2014 and won his 2016 primary by 134 votes. His stalker was Rev. Mark Harris, a Charlotte theocrat who promptly started running for 2018.

Humorless, self-regarding, and proudly homophobic, Harris was straight out of evangelical central casting, even preaching sermons telling women their job was to be a man’s “servant-lover.”

He spent vast sums to swing that 1000 votes he needed to defeat Pittenger, and then Democrat Dan McCready, in 2018; he just spent a lot of it on a vote rigging and suppression campaign in two rural counties at the eastern end of the Ninth.

Pittenger famously claimed “Jesus is my only constituent,” and there may have been something to the assertion. After the election, Harris developed a septic infection, then suffered two strokes he concealed until he got caught out lying about his knowledge of the corruption in his campaign. His avenging angel was his son, an assistant US attorney.

Suddenly Harris cited strike-induced memory lapses while under oath, and the state board of elections ordered a do-over of the whole vote.

Republicans spent decades in the congressional minority, collecting big paychecks and opposing everything because they couldn’t pass anything. They created the Fox News audience giving incendiary speeches in the empty House chamber at night on C-SPAN. After two years of controlling all branches of government under President Trump and still getting nothing done, they lapsed back into the minority last fall.

Little wonder, then, that ten Republicans filed to snag Pittenger’s empty House seat this year: it’d be inside work and no heavy lifting, just taking selfies at patriotic events in the district and angling for guest slots on Fox News. They included a Republican-turned-Democrat who ran for the supreme court last year; a man for ran for governor as a Democrat and a Republican; a former GOP legislator and failed gubernatorial candidate, and a doctor who has run for Congress every few terms since the 1980s without ever getting the voters' message.

Half of them don’t even live in the district.

Well, yesterday NC-9 Republicans spoke, and out of the ten hate-mongers in the buffet, they picked the worst.

NC State senator Dan Bishop of Charlotte promised he’d be Trumpier than Trump, would build Trump’s wall, and defeat the bogeyman of socialism who’d been hiding under everyone’s bed since the fall of Communism.

In Raleigh, Bishop was a zealot among zealots. As one account put it,

Shortly after he was sworn in..., he pledged to introduce legislation that would criminalize protesting against former elected officials, citing “ubiquitous leftist rioters” who had chanted “Shame!” at ex-Governor Pat McCrory for having signed the Bishop-sponsored HB2 into law. Then, in the wake of a series of student protests against alt-right speakers on the UC Berkeley campus, Bishop introduced a “campus free speech” bill that would have made it easier to punish students at publicly funded colleges for demonstrating on campus, while simultaneously rewriting the definition of “harassment” on college campuses in a way that would make it legal to discriminate against minorities, women, and individuals who identified as LGBTQ. And this spring, he sponsored a bill that would have both armed public school teachers and give them the authority to arrest their own students. 

Bishop also got outed as an investor in the online chat app Gab, a haven for American Nazis and domestic terrorists like Pittsburgh synagogue shooter Robert Bowers.

Bishop responded that he was the real victim, wondering why a British tabloid was going after him for taking a $500 flyer on a website whose content was a mystery to him despite his listing it as a follow on his Twitter account (he also tweeted that he bought into Gab because he was tired of “the Silicon Valley thought police.”)

But Bishop’s legacy is that he was the author of HB2, North Carolina’s infamous Bathroom Bill of 2016. It’s most discriminatory parts are still on the books, but Bishop says that’s all old news, we need to move on to new ideas and groups to hate on (oddly, Bishop failed to promote his support for the Trump Tariffs: having cost the state billions in lost business and reputation, he’s a natural for cheerleading the economic pain his and Trump’s trade wars will inflict on rural NC).

Having last chosen Mark Harris, who tried to ride a 2012 antigay state referendum into a 2014 US Senate election (he lost to the human weathervane, Thom Tillis), 9th district Republicans knew a winner when they saw one. Last night they picked Bishop, awarding him 47.7% of their votes.

24,677 Republicans turned out: about 10% of registered GOP voters. 7 of ten were over 65.

Among the also-rans- seven of the ten candidates won less than 1000 votes- number 2 was Union County commissioner Stony Rushing, a Dukes of Hazzard’s Boss Hogg impersonator anointed by Mark Harris and a Second Amendment evangelical.

Third place went to Matthew Ridenhour, a Mecklenburg County commissioner turned out of office last fall. His slogan was, “It takes a Marine to beat a Marine,” (the Democratic candidate, Dan McCready, was one) and it sounded both clever and butch until a radio debate last week in which an audience member asked, if that was true, why did he lose his council seat to “a female academic”?

(A side order of misogyny with an anti-intellectual glaze? Yes, please!)

My personal favorite came in fourth. Leigh Brown is a Realtor Registered Trademark Sign who doesn’t live in the Ninth but has been lusting for power for years, starting with an independent bid for NC governor in 2012. More recently, she gave money to several out of state liberal congressional Democrats, but mostly she slaved tirelessly as chair of the National Association of Realtors’ political action committee.

Having raised scads of cash from members, Brown rebranded herself as a gun-totin’, gated communities, North Carolina values conservative and held out her hands to her PAC. The realtors ladled $1.3 million into Brown’s campaign.

Another realtor-candidate, Kathie Day, must be sooo pissed.

Leigh Brown blanketed Mecklenburg County with TV ads (three of four voters in the district live there and in Rushing’s adjoining Union County). She was so ubiquitous she started to crowd out the car dealers on the evening news.

And yesterday, Leigh Brown received 2,624 votes.

The Realtors spent $495.42 per vote on her race, which is something to ask about the next time you’re negotiating one's commission.

See y’all in November!

Monday, April 8, 2019

Scandal-plagued NCGOP launches new voter registration drive

Torbett often like to rides his motorcycle down to South Carolina, where helmets aren't required.
"It's not the hair blowing in the wind. It's just the freedom to get out there and hear the noises," he said.
NC Rep. John Torbett, making his fifth try to repeal NC law requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets.

Fear of firing

The Acting President has added another acting cabinet member.

Friday, April 5, 2019

For fading Fox News stars, Sinclair Broadcasting is the new Branson; sex creeps welcome

Sinclair Broadcast Group, the nation’s largest TV station owner, rolled out its latest news and public affairs program this week, a one-hour broadcast called “America This Week” hosted by Eric Bolling.

If Bolling’s name is familiar, it may be because he spent a decade on Fox Business Network and Fox News, hosting opinion shows such as “The Five.” He left Fox in 2017; Sinclair hired him to host the new show, naming him its senior political anchor.

Bolling isn’t the only prominent former Fox personality to make the move to Sinclair, a company based in suburban Baltimore that owns 191 TV stations across the country, including WJLA, Washington’s ABC affiliate. Last month, Sinclair signed up former White House adviser and Fox commentator Sebastian Gorka as a contributor. In January, it hired veteran Fox reporter James Rosen, adding him to its Washington bureau.

The Fox-centric background of Sinclair’s new hires may be little more than a coincidence, but it could also reflect a mini-Fox-ification effort by Sinclair. Both have long aired commentary that appeals to conservatives.

“We look for people who have credibility and show a commitment to quality journalism,” a Sinclair spokesman, Rob Ford, said in a statement that made no mention of Fox. “For years, Sinclair has been one of the most honored and awarded broadcasters in the industry, and we are always looking for ways to expand our already impressive roster of talented journalists. We have hired talent from some of the biggest networks and will continue to seek out new additions wherever they exist as part of our commitment to bringing diverse viewpoints to our audiences.”

Fox and Sinclair compete for news viewers in different ways. Fox airs nationally via cable; Sinclair is more decentralized. Its stations broadcast in small towns (Elko, Nev.) and large cities (Baltimore, Seattle). Many of its stations produce their own local news programs, but Sinclair supplements these with commentary segments and news reports produced in Washington.

It often orders its stations to carry these segments on a “must-run” basis, giving its newscasts both a local and a national focus.

The company drew attention last year when a video went viral showing its many news anchors reading a seemingly Trump-friendly promotion about “biased and false news” from the same company-supplied script.

Sinclair’s chief political analyst, Boris Epshteyn, is a former Trump campaign and White House adviser who reliably sides with the president in commentaries that Sinclair distributes to its stations. Epshteyn appeared frequently on Fox and other cable networks as a Trump surrogate during the 2016 campaign and during the early days of the new administration. He also wrote opinion columns for, although he was never employed by the network.

Sinclair’s national news reporting often stays close to Trump’s line, too. The day before the 2018 midterm elections, WJLA aired back-to-back interviews with the president’s son, Eric Trump, and an exclusive interview by Sinclair’s Washington bureau with the president. There were no equivalent interviews with Democratic candidates or party representatives.

Sinclair reportedly was gearing up to create a competitor to Fox News last year. At the time, it was on the verge of acquiring 42 major-market stations owned by Tribune Media for $3.9 billion and supposedly was considering converting one of the Tribune outlets, cable superstation WGN, into a news and commentary network. Among its rumored hires was Bill O’Reilly, who was forced out of Fox News in 2017 over sexual harassment allegations. Sinclair denied the reports at the time.

Any such plan was ultimately scotched by federal regulators, who delayed approval of the Sinclair-Tribune merger on regulatory grounds, leading Tribune to pull out of it and to sue Sinclair. Since then, there has been no sign of any effort by Sinclair to create such a network.

Bolling’s first show this week brought together his old Fox colleagues Gorka and Rosen as interview guests. Bolling also conducted interviews with Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law and adviser to his 2020 campaign; Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager; and Stephen K. Bannon, Trump’s former White House chief strategist.

Bolling has also moderated televised town halls for Sinclair, including a discussion of the opioid crisis. Bolling’s 19-year-old son died of an overdose in 2017.

Both Bolling and Rosen — who was with Fox nearly 19 years — were forced out under controversial circumstances. Bolling parted ways with the network in 2017 a month after he was accused by three colleagues of sending unsolicited and lewd photos to them, as first reported by HuffPost. (He disputed the allegations.) Rosen was reportedly forced out for making “sexual advances toward three female Fox News journalists,” according to NPR, which also reported that Rosen was accused of groping a colleague in 2001 when they traveled together. (Rosen did not comment on NPR’s report.)

Neither Bolling nor Rosen responded to requests for comment from The Washington Post.

Gorka, who appeared regularly on Fox News star Sean Hannity’s show, said last month that he decided not to renew his contract with Fox because of his new gig with Sinclair.

His early projects for Sinclair included a 30-minute special last year about the failures of socialist regimes around the world titled “Inside Socialism.” Another Gorka-hosted special last year was titled “The Rise of Terrorism: A Clash of Cultures.” It featured Gorka, a hard-liner on immigration, asking viewers, “Can the teachings of Islam and Western values ever be reconciled? Is it possible for the waves of refugees arriving in the West to assimilate and coexist peacefully?”

Gorka’s hiring at Sinclair, however, apparently doesn’t preclude him from appearing on Fox. He told the Hollywood Reporter last month that “I’m still supporting Sean Hannity and other Fox shows as a free agent as my new schedule permits.”

The existential congressman

When you're a Republican congressman and your caucus puts you in limbo for being under indictment or too racist even for them, how to pass the days and between cashing paychecks?
Oh yes, and for almost all members of Congress, some time needs to be set aside for crafting legislation and preparing for (and attending) committee hearings. Almost all members, that is, other than King, and his two compatriots, Rep. Chris Collins of New York and Rep. Duncan D. Hunter of California, both of whom are under federal indictment and were booted from their committees. 
“It sucks,” said Collins, who noted that he plans to fill his time with caucus meetings — caucuses that include: the Toy Caucus, the Propane Caucus, the Battery Storage Caucus, and, for some reason, the Morocco Caucus.

Long Week in the Carolinas

March 31: a University of South Carolina student assumed the car that pulled up in front of a bar at 2 am was her Uber driver. She was very wrong.

March 31: Why are NC Republicans so fetishistic about charter schools?

For the girls at Charter Day School, a tuition-free charter school of 900 students in Leland, N.C., near Wilmington, the issue was equality. Girls were required to wear skirts, jumpers or skorts, which look like a skirt but include shorts-like fabric underneath. Boys, on the other hand, were required to wear pants or shorts.
Keely Burks, one of the students involved, was in eighth grade when the American Civil Liberties Union filed the suit on behalf of the girls and their guardians in 2016.
In a blog post at the time, she described how “distracting and uncomfortable” it was to have to pay attention to the position of her legs while sitting in class. She recalled when, in first grade, she and other girls were told by a teacher that they could not sit “crisscross applesauce” like the boys, but instead had to sit on the floor with their legs curled to the side.
She said in the post that she and her friends started a petition that garnered more than 100 signatures before it was confiscated by a teacher.
“Personally, I hate wearing skirts,” Keely wrote. “Even with tights and leggings, skirts are cold to wear in the winter, and they’re not as comfortable as shorts in the summer.”
If it were up to her, she wrote, she would wear pants or shorts every day to school. While some of her peers may still want to wear skirts, she said, “we should have a choice.”
The policy prohibiting girls from wearing pants or shorts was part of Charter Day School’s overall approach emphasizing “traditional values” in education, the judge summarized in his ruling. The school’s handbook said the dress code was in place to “instill discipline,” “promote a sense of pride and of team spirit” and reflect the standards of parents who choose to send their children to the school.
The school, which opened in 2000, aimed to foster a culture that preserved “chivalry and respect” among students, Baker Mitchell, the founder of the company that oversees Charter Day and other schools in southeastern North Carolina, wrote in an email to a parent about the uniform policy in 2015.
“The uniform policy seeks to establish an environment in which our young men and women treat one another with mutual respect,” he wrote, according to the email exchange, which was included in court documents.
March 31: Miss Lindsey launched a twenty-month fan-dance cabaret act for an audience of one. 

April 2: NC GOP Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry, who never managed to repeal the state minimum wage and issued a 2016 guidance memo that people who couldn't get to work because of a hurricane could legally be fired under the Tar  Hell State's right to work law, says she will not seek a sixth term in the service of business.

Berry, whose empire extends to many obscure niches of Carolina life, has become known as the Elevator Lady since she altered inspection certificates in every one of the state's elevators to include her photo and name in 2005.

In 2016, The Washington Post did a study of election results and found Berry's tax-paid campaign fliers pushed up her vote over that of other GOP candidates in more liberal NC counties where tall buildings- and more elevators- are.

Unlike the Queen of England, whose pictures on coins have been gently updated over her 67-year reign, Berry is forever the ingenue of 2005. She will now fade into obscurity, being confused in the grocery with the old lady on the Great British Baking Show.


Dallas the Psychic

April 2: NCGOP is on a roll. Fresh off their triumphant cliff-dive in the 9th district congressional race, the party chair and its biggest sugar daddy have been indicted for trying to bribe the state insurance commissioner- another Republican.

WRAL-TV reports, "Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse tweeted moments ago that the party is aware "of the developments today in Charlotte" and will respond soon."

April 2: SC Attorney General Alan Wilson is high on life, as the evangelical killjoys say: 
In the Statehouse lobby, Wilson said of the medicine, “They use words like stoned, high, wasted, baked, fried, cooked, chonged, cheeched, dope-faced, blazed, blitzed, blunted, blasted, danked, stupid, wrecked — and that’s only half the words they use. Are these consistent with something that describes a medicine?”
What do they call an Oxycontin high?

April 2: In the NCGOP, scratch an evangelical pastor-turned-pol, and a scandal billows out.

#MAGAWeek 2

April 2: Elephants have the longest mammalian gestation period, and it still only takes them a year and a half:
Barrasso: “I’ve been working on a plan since the day I got to the Senate.”
Todd, with the punchline: "You’ve been in the Senate for 12 years."
The president promised a Republican health care replacement plan for those who live long enough to see if finally exist.

After nine years of trying to kill of the Affordable Care Act, the president declared the GOP would re-brand itself "the party of health care" and put Senators Rick Scott- a Medicare fraud king- and Senator JohBarrassoso, who said he has been thinking about how to replace Obamacare from the first day he arrived in office, in 2007, two years before President Obama as sworn in- in charge.

Today the president says that, although they have a great plan, the Republicans will hold it hostage against the American public giving Trump a second term in office.

Still looking forward to the End Times, evangelicals said they are willing to wait a bit longer for losing their health coverage. "We won't need it no more."

Then he sent out Sarah Sanders to walk back the closing of the Mexican border. #WINforTheGuacLobby

April 2: Say what you will about Joe Biden's grabbiness, but his tendency to talk without his mind engaged has made Donald Trump's federal court-rigging increasingly a breeze:
People are probably familiar with the back story, but I’ll recap: When Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, McConnell and the Republicans quickly served notice that they would not even hold hearings on a replacement until a new president had been elected. They argued that precedent was on their side by pointing to the “Biden rule.” Essentially, then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) had argued in June 1992 against holding hearings before that year’s election if there had been a Supreme Court vacancy.
Imagine if Uncle Joe wins and a Supreme Court nomination comes up.

April 2: "Hours after the Senate voted down a disaster relief package that Democrats argued didn’t include enough money to help storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, President Trump took to Twitter on Monday night to lash out at the opposition party and the island’s leaders.

Trump, who has reportedly said in private that he doesn’t want “another single dollar” going to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria, again complained about funding for the island and called San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, a frequent critic, “crazed and incompetent.”

“The Democrats today killed a Bill that would have provided great relief to Farmers and yet more money to Puerto Rico despite the fact that Puerto Rico has already been scheduled to receive more hurricane relief funding than any ‘place’ in history,” Trump tweeted around 11 p.m. “The people of Puerto Rico are GREAT, but the politicians are incompetent or corrupt.”

April 2: Teabaggist congressman, stuck in the minority, says he's headed for the Branson of politics.

April 2: The Big Penis Party will run against Alan Alda next year. #MAGA vs. #MASH

April 2: Sensing an opening for a short, elderly moderate white guy, Bloomberg takes a mulligan on The White House.

April 2: A Florida Trumpikazi congressman, Matt Gaetz, is opposing the LGBT Equality Act because he worries the president will use to declare he is a woman.

He also frets that men would use the opportunity to infiltrate women's groups advocating for the rights Gaetz opposes them having.

One might have thought he'd be down on the bill because The Gays might claim they are straight and want to watch the Super Bowl in a neighbor's man cave.

April 2: Why do celebrity golfers play golf with a man who does stuff like this?:
At Trump Bedminster in New Jersey, Trump once won a senior club championship from 87 miles away. He’d declared that the club should start having senior club championships for those 50 and up, but he forgot that one of the best players at the club had just turned 50. Having zero chance at beating the guy, he went up to his Trump Philadelphia course on the day of the tournament and played with a friend there. Afterward, according to a source inside the Bedminster club, he called the Bedminster pro shop and announced he’d shot 73 and should be declared the winner. The pro, wanting to stay employed, agreed. His name went up on the plaque. “But then,” says the source, “somebody talked to the caddy up in Philly and asked him what Trump shot that day. The caddy goes, ‘Maybe 82. And that might be generous.’ He pulls that kind of shit all the time around here.”

He's also the 1999 club champion at a club that wasn't open yet.

April 2: Hot on the heels of a whistle blower's disclosure that 25 White House employees denied security clearances for cause got them anyway, a Chinese babe has talked her way into Mar-a-Lago with two passports, four cell phones, and a thumb drive loaded with computer malware. She said she was just there to swim. Then she said she was there for a UN event. Then she said a friend in "Chy-ner" told her to do it.

April 3: Citing the success of Boeing's self-certification of airworthiness, the Trump regime is extending the concept to pork production. That is not a joke.

April 3: Trump's friend the president of Brazil emerged from an Israeli Holocaust museum declaring the Nazis were left-wingers because they used the word Socialist in their party name.

This jackassry is popular among US Repblicans, too.