Sunday, October 21, 2012

Republicans declaring early victory?

Republicans say momentum is on Romney’s side in new polls

(Yes, folks, I'm blogging again - health has been pretty bad this election season, and I've not been feeling nearly as froggy for the general election as I was during the primary. Thank you for the many well-wishes, and I blog on.)

So, we're voting in a great many states (this one included), and the polls have the two presidential candidates in a dead heat, nationally. This story is about how the Republicans are declaring an early win, saying that momentum is on their side. As one Republican told me this weekend, "The Romney people feel they've locked up NC, so they pulled all their people out already."

Well, let them. Let them gloat, let them "pull all their people out," let them claim victory with weeks left to go. Meanwhile, keep making phone calls, keep encouraging Democrats to go vote, and keep encouraging your friends who may have written off their own votes as meaningless to get in the fight. On November 7, we will have proven the Tea Partied, right winged, deluded minority wrong - or we will have merely tried. But, do not let it be said that in these last days we simply left the election to them. Rather let it be said that they declared victory just a little too soon.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Mike Stone violates election law!

Political signs are considered by many to be the necessary evil of election season.  Like nearly everything else related to elections, the placement and timing for sign displays are regulated by North Carolina law.  According to NC G.S. 136-32, political signs can be placed along the right of way no earlier than 30 days before the beginning of early voting.  In our case, that's September 18.  This fact isn't a mystery.  All you need to do is call your local board of elections, and a representative will be more than happy to tell you the date or email you the statute. 

Representative Mike Stone (R-NC House 51) knows all of this.  He just doesn't care.  Today is September 7, and I personally drove by about 20 of Stone's signs along the right-of-way on NC Hwy 24/27 in Harnett County.  Another Democratic volunteer reported to me that Stone also has signs along the right-of-way of Nicholson Rd., and in the whereabouts of Swanns Station in Lee County.  I took the pictures below this morning.  I said that Stone doesn't care; here's why: while the statute says that whoever erected the signs is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, the only penalty is that the signs must be removed by the DOT.  And, actually proving that Stone personally erected the signs would be nearly impossible.

So, Mike Stone doesn't care about the law because he won't get caught breaking it.  For a guy so neatly tucked into AFP's pocket, all of the conservative lip-service to the rule of law sounds like so much hypocrisy.  Remember, too, that this is the candidate who claimed to have no knowledge of the false mailer that went out right before election day in 2010, the mailer which secured his election.  My guess on this is that Rep. Stone will be said to have had no knowledge of the fact that 20-30 of his signs, at least, went out a week early.  But, his name's on the signs. 

Bill Tatum has his work ahead of him in this election.  His opponent plays dirty.  If you want to support fair, transparent leadership in the General Assembly, volunteer or contribute, and by all means vote for Bill Tatum.

** UPDATE **
An attorney for the Harnett County Board of Elections has notified me that he will be contacting Rep. Stone with respect to these signs.  While it can't be proven that Stone placed or authorized the placing of these signs, it's still his name on the cardboard, and therefore his responsibility.  Kudos to the Harnett County BOE for working quickly.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Stick to the facts, Fox News!

Obama acceptance speech moved indoors

This story should be pretty boring.  The chance of inclement weather, specifically isolated thunderstorms, presented a risk to attendees of the Democratic National Convention who would be watching the event outside, in the Bank of America Stadium.  To mitigate the risk, convention planners moved the event inside.  Unfortunately, this had the effect of shrinking the seat availability from 65,000 to 20,000, and so tens of thousands of supporters holding community credentials to the event on September 6, this humble blogger included, found themselves unable to attend.  The President has promised to hold a conference call with them on Thursday, and cancelled credential holders will be invited to other future events involving the President.  Those are the facts.

Never one to miss out on a good conspiracy hypothesis, Fox News is reporting that "one Democratic official" reported that the DNC was having trouble filling seats, and that "one source said some Democrats had been hoping it would also serve as a handy solution to the potential attendance problem at the stadium." 

"One source" said "some Democrats?"  Are you kidding me?  This is like when your idiot brother walks up to you and says, "Some people say that cell phones cause brain cancer."  The appeal to "some people" is an attempt to lend credibility to a myth.  In this case, your idiot brother is Fox News, and the appeal to authority is "some people," and this, of course, is also what the military calls single-source intelligence - a report from a single person - the least reliable intelligence of all.

Carl Sagan said famously, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."  I'm not sure how extraordinary Fox News' claim here is,  but any news organization ought not make claims without evidence.  If you have something to say, then by all means say it, but by all means support it, as well.  Until and unless Fox News comes up with some actual numbers or actual evidence, this story is no more salacious or complicated as described in the first paragraph. 

So, I'm looking forward to my conference call with President Obama.  It may not be as cool as going to the convention, but when's the last time you've been able to tell someone - "hey, I'll have to call you back.  I have a conference call in a few minutes - with President Obama!" 

The whole-nation approach of the President's campaign

Obama's red-state outreach - Darren Samuelsohn -

Yes, I am biased (there's a photo of the President on the home page of this blog, y'know), but the above Politico story really makes me proud of the President.  By campaigning in states that so many say he doesn't have a hope of winning, he keeps his volunteers and donors in those states energized, even at the cost of precious campaign funds.  And that, to me, just seems so presidential.  Focus on the whole country.  Get as many votes as we can, period.  Be the one candidate able to honestly say he worked hard across the nation - the whole nation - to be the President, not of the blue states or the grey states or the red states but of the United States. 

Michelle Obama said as much tonight.  She spent some time talking about how the President doesn't get mired in all the political talk, and makes decisions to do the most good for the most people, without respect for political position.  You may doubt Mrs. Obama's words, but no one can doubt the tenacity of her husband, having accomplished so much in spite of a do-nothing Republican majority in the House and a consequently deadlocked Congress.  Far from being an empty chair, even the President's political enemies accuse him of doing too much.

Rahm Emanuel rightly said tonight that any one of the crises the President took on would, in each its own right, be presidency-defining.  If he had averted a depression, and nothing else; saved American jobs by saving the auto industry, and nothing else; gotten universal health care legislation passed, and nothing else; brought an end to the war in Iraq, and nothing else; then he could lay claim to deserving another term.  That he did all of those things is to me evidence that he is the better choice in 2012.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

An historic victory for marriage equality rights in America!

The Democratic Party made history today by adopting for the first time a party platform which says the following: 

"We support the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law. We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples. We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference."

"We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples. We support the full repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act."

So, there you have it.  Today, the Democratic Party joined us on the right side of history.  And, this is just the beginning.  A victory for President Obama in 2012 is a victory for civil rights in America.  The  Respect for Marriage Act repeals the Defense of Marriage Act and restores the rights of all married couples, including same-sex couples.  It guarantees the rights of same-sex couples married in a state where gay marriage is legal, even if those couples move.  It is the future of American policy towards same-sex couples in the modern age.

The Democratic Party Platform is a document for the future. 

Voter ID law struck down in Texas

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is clear:  "No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color."  Voter ID laws violate this federal act by making a practice out of requiring ID cards for all voters.  Because of this practice, many among the poor, to include significant numbers of the black poor, will not be able to afford an ID card, or will have to travel long distances to acquire one.  The result is that poor blacks will find it more difficult to vote, and many will not vote at all. 

This is common sense.  But, don't take it from me!  A unanimous panel of judges in Texas ruled last week that Texas' voter ID law was in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 because of the reasons mentioned above (please, check out the NY Times story at the above link).  This wasn't a good week for Texas, as a different panel of judges in the same court struck down a recent redistricting law for violating the very same federal act.  Who was behind this discriminatory legislation?  Republicans - no less a Republican as Texas Gov. Rick Perry, for one. 

In fact, Republicans are pushing for voter ID laws in nearly every state.  Thanks to Governor Perdue's veto, Republicans in NC failed to see such legislation become the law in NC.  But, give them another shot in control of the legislature, and it will only be a matter of time. 

Why do Republicans want to pass laws that so obviously disenfranchise minority voters?  They cite an increase in voter fraud, but they often admit that evidence of voter fraud is hard to detect.  That part, at least, is true.  Evidence of voter fraud in the US is virtually nonexistent.  Might there be another reason?  Frankly, because poor minority voters overwhelmingly vote with Democrats, the reason for Republican zeal on this issue is plain.  Many Republicans just want for some people not to be able to vote.  Most of those people just happen to be black.

Lee GOP chair Charles Staley recently told the L.A. Times that the reason blacks tend to vote for Democrats is because the Democrats have paid them off in social services.  What a horrible thing to say about a whole group of Americans, just because they aren't on your side, Mr. Staley.  Your party's hellish bent towards forcing so many minority voters to sit at home on election day seems a much more obvious reason to me why those minority groups aren't clamoring to the GOP platform. 

Voter ID laws solve a problem that doesn't exist, while creating new problems that violate American Civil Rights laws.  I guess the GOP just gave up on trying to fix the economy in favor of pulling out the tired, old, conservative political playbook to set legislative agendas across the country (marriage amendment, anyone?).  But, that's a whole other story, isn't it?

Lee GOP says blacks are "kept in their place" by Democrats,0,4969339.story

This L.A. Times story highlights Republican efforts to beat Obama in North Carolina.  Specifically, the story focuses on the Lee County GOP and its strategy to woo Latino voters into voting for Romney.  Lee GOP front man Charles Staley predictably blames the media for creating the impression that the GOP is anti-Latino (I suppose the Republican assault on Latino immigrants in recent years had nothing to do with that impression), and then gives us this little tidbit of revisionist history:

“Lyndon Baines Johnson gets in there, there’s riots in the streets, so they decide, we need to keep these black people in their place,” Staley said. “So, well, one way we can do it is to form this Great Society and make sure everybody gets some money and if they get in trouble, we’ll stop giving them money. That was the foundation of what we call social services. Up unto that point, the black population voted Republican.”

Really?  Does he know he just said that out loud?  Social services are just a big liberal plot to "keep these black people in their place [sic]."  What a racist point of view.  He is basically saying that blacks don't think for themselves, or if they do, then they are easily duped and bought.  In Staley's attempt to be magnanimous to Latinos, he deeply insults blacks.

He is also ignoring the impact of history.  It was the Democratic Party which gave us the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as a legion of white racists stood in the way.  The deep-seated racism in the South, leftovers from the days of slavery and the Confederate defeat, was reinforced time and again by the conservative arm of the Democratic Party.  This is more a product of geography than partisanship, but if you wish to hammer the party politics issue, then you have to realize that, because of the Civil Rights Act, Democrats like Strom Thurmond switched parties.  The Democratic Party had become too liberal for its conservative racists, so they switched sides.  It didn't happen overnight (nothing in politics does), but it happened.  And, it happened not because of social programs, but because of civil rights.

Where does Staley get his silly beliefs?  I think I know.  A major conservative publication, The National Review, published this article in May of this year.  About 2 weeks later, Slate Magazine published a scathing rebuttal by Alex Pareene.  Republicans will tell you that all you need to read is "the truth."  I encourage you to read both sides.  History only happened one way, however.  Pareene's article sets the record straight.  He correctly notes, "Both parties at the time had liberal and conservative wings, and in each of those parties it was the liberal wing that was right on civil rights."  That's a distinction worth noting.

I'd love to talk about how Latinos who vote Republican are acting against their own self-interests.  I'd love to point out that Staley is naive to think that simply being able to speak Spanish means Latinos will vote his way.  But, Staley's comments revealed a deep misunderstanding of history he himself lived through(!), and that misunderstanding leads him to a very low view indeed of black Americans.

Thomas Jefferson vindicated against the right

Not that Thomas Jefferson really needed to be vindicated, but so many of us have grown so tired of the right's ceaseless assertions that the founding fathers were all traditional Christians, theocrats all, just like them in nearly every way.  Tea Party activists dress in period clothing to reinforce (to whom?) their assertions as if the more often they are asserted, the more likely they are to be true.  Here in Sanford, there is a clever little blog whose authors possess such arrogance that they actually post using the names of the men whose writings and actions founded America.  It's sickening to those of us who know better, those of us who have read Jefferson, Madison, Paine, that their biographies and writings are being obscured and revised by theocrats with purposes that these men would perhaps call ignoble, at best.

Thankfully, David Barton's latest attack on American history has been discredited.  Kudos to Thomas Nelson Publishers for doing the right thing by pulling his Jefferson book from the shelves.  If you find yourself in need of an excellent short biography of Thomas Jefferson which does *not* rely on inventions and the mangling of facts, I recommend Christopher Hitchens' Thomas Jefferson: Author of America.

Natalie Portman lends her voice to Women for Obama

Women For Obama

It's not surprising to see celebrities participating in politics, and certainly no surprise to see movie stars supporting President Obama.  I post this story just to make one point, to paraphrase loosely from The Avengers

You have a Clint Eastwood?  We have a Natalie Portman.

Point made.  The other important thing about this story is that Ms. Portman took this opportunity to highlight the President's record on women's rights and place emphasis on the Ryan/Romney plan to take away those rights.  In her introduction, she said this:

"We really are facing a clear choice in this election.  We can keep moving forward with the President, or we can fall backwards with Mr. Romney.  Because we fought for change in 2008, President Obama was able to accomplish amazing, amazing things... We have affordable healthcare, we are resolving Iraq responsibly.. He is promoting women's rights and protecting women's rights." 

There is a somewhat shaky video of her speech here, direct from Natalie's web site.  And, for an overview of the President's accomplishments on women's rights, check out  Finally, Natalie wrote an article about her appearance in NV.  Read it all, my friends.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Convention host N.C. finds itself as pivotal battleground

Convention host N.C. finds itself as pivotal battleground

Okay, so the key takeaway here is that North Carolina shouldn't be a battleground state - but, it is.  President Obama only won NC by 14,000 votes in 2008, out of a total 2.2 million votes cast.  Thin margin, and one largely dependent upon NC's university students, who may or may not come out to vote in this election.  Democrats in NC are in many ways embattled after weathering one scandal after another, seeing our incumbent governor choose not to run for a second term, and having endured the 2010 elections, an event most of our voters across the state declined to attend.  So, Republicans should have NC locked up.  Yet, NC *is* a state that could go either way, and in many polls leans toward the President.

No matter what side of the political debate you're on, I hope you are excited that NC is getting this kind of attention.  For Democrats, though, we have quite a bit of work ahead of us.  We can elect President Obama in 2012, but perhaps only if we work as hard as if we may lose.  President Obama can win the US without NC - but, Romney needs this state to win.  Our efforts between now and November are just as much about denying Romney a required victory as they are handing the President NC's complement of electoral votes.


Mike Stone's voting record speaks for itself

Representative Michael Stone - Voting Records - Project Vote Smart

Representative Mike Stone (R) was elected to the General Assembly in 2010, with 50.6% of the vote, in an election where Democratic turnout was historically low.  It is very likely that Rep. Stone would still not have been elected, but an 11th-hour false attack mailer against Stone's opponent, sponsored by the NCGOP Executive Committee, a mailer for which the committee later apologized, tipped the scales at the last minute.  Stone's committee claimed not to know anything about the mailer.

Having been elected by the skin of his teeth, Rep. Stone went to Raleigh to rubber-stamp a Tea Party agenda which focused not on jobs and the economy but on one social issue after another.  Rep. Stone did take some time to consolidate his power, voting to redraw his district, cutting up Lee County into two districts, along partisan lines.  His vote helped to put Amendment 1, the overzealous anti-equality amendment, on the ballot last May.  When others were calling for restraint and oversight of a geologic process which is likely to poison the water supply where it is used, Rep. Stone voted to authorize fracking - twice.  In July of this year, unemployment in Lee County was over 12%.

This election, we have the chance to do things right.  Bill Tatum, former Lee County Board of Education Chairman, is running to defeat Rep. Stone in November.  His campaign platform focuses on the most important issues facing Lee County and NC, and his record of service shows his focus on education and economic development.  Check him out at  Tea Party conservatives are already making wild accusations about him, hoping something will stick.  But, Bill will win in November if those of us are weary of broken promises to work on the economy come out to support him. 

What do homophobes really think?

Here at the NC liberal, we're all about supporting equal rights without regard for race, creed, color, or gender.  It's that last one that Republicans really hate.  So (very) many of them want desperately to separate gay rights from human rights, and not all for the same reasons.  While I'd like to give them the intellectual benefit of the doubt, it's just so hard not to think that conservatives really just want to return this country to the days when homosexuality was considered a sin and a mental illness.


But, we're not going back.  A recent CNN/ORC poll found that 56% of Americans believe in marriage equality.  The Democratic Party will make history this week when it adds marriage equality to its national platform.  President Obama is the first president in history to support gay marriage.  LGBT groups are organizing across America to wield their movement's political clout in the November election.  History is on our side, and the winds of cultural change are blowing our way.

The vocal minority still screams, though, its shrill voice telling us in panic that homosexuality is morally wrong, and that it causes all manner of societal evils.  When you hear seemingly otherwise rational people say negative things about gay marriage, what is going on in their heads?  The Slate story, cited above, takes a stab at that question.  Enjoy.

RDF: Romney: Grounded in the Galaxy?

RDF: Romney: Grounded in the Galaxy?

For quite some time now, we've been saying that Mitt Romney's crazy religious beliefs make him incompatible with the highest office in the nation.  Here, respected astrophysicist and cosmologist Dr. Lawrence Krauss weighs in.

Maybe his speech wasn't so great, after all...

So, it's hard to know what to do with poll numbers, sometimes.  It seems like there's a new poll about the election every 45 minutes, and sometimes they can't possibly all be accurate, because they say conflicting things. 
This poll, though, has nothing to do with the normal questions about who rich Americans would vote for (Romney), who black Americans would vote for (Obama), who American women would vote for (Obama), who most well-educated people would vote for (Obama, but now it's just piling on!).  This poll is all about Romney's acceptance speech.  And, the numbers aren't good.  Turns out, just as many people "say the convention made them less likely to vote for Mitt Romney as say it made them more likely to vote for him."
In his speech, Mitt Romney needed to reach out to minority groups and undecided voters.  Unfortunately, his greatest accomplishment seemed to be that in his own party, a large majority are likely to vote for him.  What a surprise. 
The lesson for us seems clear: register as many new voters as possible, and get them to the polls.  This poll shouldn't make us overconfident, but should embolden us to work even harder to see North Carolina elect Barack Obama as the next President of the United States.

Welcome to the NC liberal!

So, here we are, in the middle of a super-busy political season, and why do we need another political blog?  Well, I offer you a few of my reasons:
1.  Liberal politics are alive and well on the web, but here in NC, liberal blogs are hit and miss.  Currently, I'm located in Lee County, NC, and the local offerings are pretty disgusting.  We have one conservative local blog where posters claim to be the founding fathers, and another (the one that claims to be "fresh-brewed") whose author writes as if logic, reason, and evidence are not to be trusted.  Then, there's the pseudo-newspaper with the one "reporter," which always gives us a slanted version of the daily news.  So, the NC liberal is here as a kind of counterpoint. 
2.  The current movement towards a return to secular American values is just getting off the ground.  Leaders like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennet, Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss and many others have shown us that non-believers need to come out, organize, and participate in the public square if we want to be anything more than just a fringe group in this country.  We are a larger minority group than the Jewish lobby represents, but with nowhere near the political clout.  One of the goals of this blog will be to promote the advancement of the secular agenda.
3.  Let's talk about the issues!  I make you this promise:  I will never close comments on discussion just because I want the last word.  If you agree or disagree, you are welcome here.  Anonymous posting is turned on, and I will never call you a "coward" for posting anonymously, as another local blogger loves to do. 
That's it, although if I were to add a 4th reason it'd be that I love engaging others on the issues, and thought it was high time I started posting my own content, instead of just arguing with conservatives in their blogs. 
Welcome to the NC liberal.  I hope you like what you see!