Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year

Happy New Year! I wish you all an exciting year ahead. For those of you who have had enough excitement for one decade, I wish you peace and tranquility.

I only have one resolution for this year. I resolve to stay focused on my writing and to search the news for that one nugget that everyone else misses. I might not always find it, but I won't stop looking for it.


Frank Ballance Went to Prison Yesterday

I'm having a hard time shedding a tear for him. His supporters claim that Ballance helped a lot of people, kept people off of drugs and alcohol. The problem is there are no testimonials. If you follow the money what you find is Frank Ballance spreading the wealth to his churches and ministers who, in turn, made donations to his campaigns. I have yet to read one testimonial from an individual who says that their life was turned around because of Ballance's charity the John Hyman Foundation.

I have no problem with his supporters holding a fundraiser for him before he heads to prison. It might help him pay his fines and restitution, although he says he has already done so. I do have a problem with any claim that he doesn't deserve to be punished. Ballance was not unfairly targeted because he is black. He was targeted because he is guilty. There is ample proof of his guilt.

I don't know why the recent articles have me so angry. I think it's because I'm tired of elected officials claiming ignorance or innocence in the face of overwhelming proof that they were fully aware of their actions and fully aware they were breaking the law. I won't sit by idly while Black, Ney, DeLay, DoLittle and all other Republicans facing charges claim their innocence. I will hold Democrats to the same standards.

The entire series of articles dating back to 2003 by Don Carrington of Carolina Journal Online can be found here. A PDF download of the indictment against Frank and Garey Ballance can be found here.

I apologize for not giving a synopsis of charges or actions that resulted in the charges, but there is so much over such a long period of time it is mind boggling. Following the money is not an easy task because it goes in so many different directions. If you have any interest at all I suggest reading Don Carrington's articles. They appear to be fairly objective to me.

Garey and Frank continue to claim they are innocent. I wish them the best in prison.

Things Just Keep Getting Worse for DeLay

Not only does it look like Jack Abramoff is going to sing like little birdie next week, it looks like he's going to have a lot more to sing about than we first thought.

The Washington Post is running an in-depth article on The U.S. Family Network, a group with ties to both DeLay and Abramoff. From the WaPo:

After the group was formed in 1996, its director told the Internal Revenue Service that its goal was to advocate policies favorable for "economic growth and prosperity, social improvement, moral fitness, and the general well-being of the United States." DeLay, in a 1999 fundraising letter, called the group "a powerful nationwide organization dedicated to restoring our government to citizen control" by mobilizing grass-roots citizen support.

But the records show that the tiny U.S. Family Network, which never had more than one full-time staff member, spent comparatively little money on public advocacy or education projects. Although established as a nonprofit organization, it paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees to Buckham and his lobbying firm, Alexander Strategy Group.

This is a long article, but is well worth the time it takes to read it. The credits list several contributors and it appears extensive research went into the piece. A free subscription may be required to read it.

This is cross-posted at Americans Deserve The Truth

Friday, December 30, 2005

Jim Black makes the Washington Post

I am so proud. Surprisingly, the article lacked the sensationalism I would expect from the WaPo Kool-Aid crowd. You may need a free subscription to view the article. It is found here.

While I am still not convinced that Jim Black has broken any laws, I stand by my suggestion that it is time for him to retire. His obvious lack of good judgment has hurt his reputation and will taint any decision with his name on it.

President of NCACC Urges Governor to Repeal Elections Laws

Kitty Barnes, the President of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners is requesting that the Governor repeal the state's election laws.

Barnes is not only the President of the NCACC, but she's the chair of the Catawba County Board of County Commissioners. Barnes, a Republican, says the counties have not been given enough time to comply with the law.

"Giving counties less than five months to order, install and train poll workers on new mandated equipment could very well lead to serious problems on Election Day, and that outcome would certainly not instill the public’s confidence in our elections."

Barnes has good reason to be upset, but it doesn't have much to do with the lack of time left in which to comply. It probably has more to do with the fact that Catawba County officials ignored the chair of the State Board of Elections when he said to wait before buying new voting machines. Instead, Catawba County bought new machines in 2004 that will not meet the new standards. This results in a waste of almost $1.4 million.

VoteTrustUSA has a great article on this where they point out that the Catawba County purchase was bad for another reason:

Catawba County's purchase of voting machines was bad for another reason. A study of the 2004 election data shows that Catawba County's switch to new the Hart Intercivic paperless voting coincides with jump in undervote rate of 40% - 130% higher than it was in 2000.

There appears to be a lot of scrambling here at the end of the year to scrap or revise a law most voters want. I urge anyone who is concerned to contact Governor Easley's office and encourage him to stand firm.

To email the Governor:
Use this form

To phone the Governor:
(800) 662-7952 (valid in North Carolina only)
(919) 733-4240 or (919) 733-5811

To fax the Governor:
(919) 715-3175 or (919) 733-2120

To write the Governor:
Governor Michael F. Easley
Office of the Governor
20301 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-0301

This blog entry was cross-posted at
The Southern Dem

UPDATE: Oooops this blog entry was cross-posted at Blue N.C. So much for copy and paste.

The Diebold Dilemma

How many of you feel a tad bit uneasy walking away from the voting machines without some type of proof of how you voted? I am not typically a conspiracy theorist, but I have to admit I felt a tad bit doubtful the first time I voted on the new machines in Mecklenburg County. Did my vote actually count or did some monster from the netherworld eat it?

I'm also not the most technically gifted person in the world and have more than a healthy amount of doubt about the accuracy of technology that I don't understand. I'm sure there are many who feel this way. Unfortunately, we have no choice but to trust the technology and those who design, manufacture and sell it if we want to live in the modern world. Evidently, some of our elected officials feel the same way and our legislature is requiring transparency in the coding of voting machines.

Coding, for the non-techies of the world, is basically computer language. A program works the way it works because of the coding. Why would you want the coding to be transparent? Basically, you want to make sure that someone hasn't programmed a voting machine to do something it isn't supposed to do. The real issue is more complex than I am making it sound, however, transparency of the coding is the heart of it.

All of this brings me to the Diebold dilemma. Diebold is refusing to share its coding saying that it doesn't own the rights to all of it. How can this be? Well, programmers share or sell code frequently. Someone else could very well own the rights to some of the coding or programming that Diebold is using. It doesn't necessarily mean they are hiding anything, but it does mean Diebold can't meet the standards set by our state.

What's the big deal? So, the state of North Carolina doesn't buy voting machines from Diebold. The big deal is that we are left with only one vendor who can sell voting machines in this state,
Election Systems and Software. It means that ES&S will have a monopoly in this state and anyone who has ever wanted to complain about their cable rates or programming knows that a monopoly isn't always a good thing. Diebold is still working feverishly to change this.

The letter from Diebold to N.C.'s State Board of Elections is printed in its entirety at
VoteTrustUSA. Diebold is basically claiming that there are no companies that will meet all of the requirements set by our state and they are requesting a special session of the legislature to try and remedy this situation. Diebold is offering to help North Carolina rewrite it's law.

DESI is prepared to work closely with the North Carolina State Board of Elections (“SBE”) in drafting a modification to Session Law 2005-323 that meets the true intent of the legislature while at the same time imposing reasonable requirements on all vendors that are capable of being met, and which will allow DESI to continue to support its loyal customers in the State of North Carolina.
Do we trust a vendor to rewrite a state law in order to tailor it around their product? While I don't think Diebold's intent is to deny North Carolinians of a fair and accurate election, I also don't think it's wise to allow them to help rewrite our laws to make life more convenient or profitable for them. This law was passed to protect the citizens of this state without regard to how inconvenient it might be to Diebold or any other company. Changing the law to suit Diebold or would set a dangerous precedent.

Whether you understand the underlying technical issues or not, this is something you need to care about. Each of us needs to walk out of the voting booth knowing that our vote counted.

Update: Many newspapers and online sources have information regarding the upcoming deadline for the purchase of voting machines. Most newspapers only keep their articles online for a few days. The North Carolina Coalition for Verified Voting is the resource in N.C. that stays on top of developments in this area. The link to VoteTrustUSA is located above. The Electronic Frontier Foundation also has a great article from December 23. EFF has filed suit in N.C. to help uphold the election integrity laws.

Milly Watt has a diary at Daily Kos that discusses this and Targator at BlueNC has stayed on top of this issue as well.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Family Time

Please excuse me while I take a lengthy break from writing. I have both of my girls home with me and want to make the most of my time with them. They are 10 and 12 and growing up so fast. I don't want to miss a minute of it.

We are designing our new home together, painting this one so we can get it on the market and today will brave the world of shopping malls so they can spend some of their Christmas cash. I will be back full time by the end of the week.

In the meantime, don't forget to visit the blogs on my blogroll. There are so many more I need to add, but these are a start and you can find more great reads on their respective blogrolls.

The Charlotte Observer is doing their end-of-year puff pieces on different politicians. Most of them are worth the few seconds it takes to read them, if for no other reason than to get to know the people who are representing us in Raleigh. I linked earlier to their piece on State Senator Malcolm Graham. Here is their piece on Doug Vinson. He's a Republican. What's interesting about this article actually doesn't show up until the final paragraphs. There's a bit of whining about not being in the party of power, but when speaking of the Republican leadership he says:

As a freshman in the minority party, Vinson held no illusions that his voice
would be heard in the General Assembly beyond local legislation for his
district. He did think that Republicans together could make enough noise to gain
attention, but "the leadership didn't rally the troops," he said.
"I expected to be isolated," he said, "but isolated more as a group."

So, in a red state the Republican leadership can't get their act together. The only thing Republicans tend to do as an organized activity in this state is attack Democrats. While I'll be the first to say that Jim Black has shown a gross lapse in judgment and needs to find a responsible candidate to fill his shoes, I'm not buying the GOP pushed story that he has broken the law. I'll be the first to admit it if I'm proven wrong.

The Observer has also written a piece on Larry Kissell, a social studies teacher who is running a grassroots campaign against Robin Hayes. I find it more than a bit interesting that in the online article the Observer doesn't put Kissell's name in the headline, however does give a name boost to Hayes. I have a degree in journalism and remember my basic instruction on writing headlines. Instead of "Man Launching Campaign to Unseat Hayes" why don't we shorten it to "Kissell to Run Against Hayes". It's much more concise. It takes up less space and uses less ink and it's more objective in that it mentions both names. I despise the way the Observer writers and editors insert their opinions into the news.

I haven't looked closely enough at Tim Dunn and Larry Kissell to make a comparison. Here is what I do know. Larry Kissell isn't reporting any cash on hand, Tim Dunn has raised about $50,000 and at the end of September Robin Hayes had over $500,000 cash on hand. Grassroots campaigning is nice and it can help win elections, but it takes hard cold cash to win an election in this district. Robin Hayes and the national GOP machine will bury any Democrat running with negative advertisements. Both men need to get busy raising money and they need to do it now.

Another bit of advice for the Kissell campaign. It's a bit too early for the negativity I'm seeing on different NC blogs. I won't repeat here what I'm seeing you claim in your comments about Tim Dunn, but I will tell you that too much negativity will be the kiss of death for your campaign if you start it too early. The 8th is marginally Republican, which means that if what you are saying is true, then Dunn has a better chance of beating Hayes than Kissell does. Republicans will see him as a more viable alternative to Hayes. Democrats on the national level will figure this out and throw their weight and money behind Dunn. You need to watch what you are putting out there and do a better job of tailoring your message. Otherwise you will find that the only people supporting Kissell are his students, his family and CAFTA the goat.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Malcolm Graham's Feet are Wet and His Eye is on the Prize

In this case the prize is the package of deals he can bring to Mecklenburg County from Raleigh. Graham is hard at work and according to this Charlotte Observer article he is working hard for his district and Mecklenburg County.

Mr. Graham was my representative on the Charlotte City Council and is now my senator in Raleigh. I'm happy to see that he is making the most of his time there.

Graham has been working hard to pass legislation that will help combat gang violence and prevent gang membership from growing. While some legislation is still pending for 2006, Graham helped get $2 million in the state budget for programs that will encourage children to stay away from gangs.

Sharif Durhams includes two quotes from Graham that help explain why I like him so much. It isn't necessarily his platform that sways me his way, it's his willingness to take a chance and to not "go along, just to get along." He is his own man. He is independent of the party machine.

"For me, it's a fine balance between being a part of the team, so I can get things done back at home, and keeping my independence," Graham said.

Durhams writes a nice profile piece on a man who deserves the positive attention. Graham is not only busy in Raleigh, he continues to make his presence known in Mecklenburg County. He drove Patsy Kinsey around to the polls on primary election day for a few hours and probably helped other candidates. He also attended the oath of office ceremony for the new Charlotte City Council on December 5th. I'm sure Graham continues to support his community in many ways that I'm not personally aware of. It's good to see that he remains a positive force at home while providing leadership in Raleigh.

We need more men and women in Raleigh and Washington who are there to lead rather than just play politics.

Bush PR Not Fooling Mel Watt

Mel Watt is my Representative in Washington. I've always voted for him. I never really gave it a second thought. Recently, though I've read two quotes by him that warmed my heart, so I figure he deserves some love on my front page.

In a December 9th Charlotte Observer article by Tim Funk about the GOP's new war on illegal immigration, Watt attributed the GOP's newfound intensity over this issue to politics. His comments matched what I had been saying all along about the GOP picking a new hot topic to move attention away from the war.

Republicans, he said, "are just trying to change the subject from other issues that they don't want to talk about. "When the Republicans on the county commission and the Republicans up here start operating in tandem on an issue, you know there's something political going on."

Today in the New York Times, Mel Watt once again indicates that he isn't fooled by the politics. It seems the White House has finally opened its doors to some leaders in the black community after shutting them out the entire first term. Watt was among a group of black leaders attending a gathering at the White House on Dec. 7. Watt's answers to questions show that he is optimistic, but skeptical.

Asked whether he though the White House was making a genuine effort to repair efforts with black leaders, Mr. Watt said: "I don't know if it's real or not. I do think it's desirable. I don't know if it's sincere. I haven't seen anything in their policies that suggest that it is anything but a public relations move. "

Mel Watt is not impressed with a trip to the White House and he isn't fooled by the feeble attempts of the President to look like he actually cares about the black community. Watt's leadership in Congress and the Black Congressional Caucus will be important in the 2006 elections as the GOP continues to try and bring black voters into its fold.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Why I am a Liberal

Why I am a Liberal

Throughout my life I have always found myself left of center. While I was in college, I was closer to the left fringes. As I have aged and have become a tax-paying, property-owning parent of children who attend public schools, I have moved a little more to the center. It isn’t because I feel less passionately about issues. It’s because I feel more passionately about issues that impact my little family circle. So, if I’ve moved away from the left, how can I be a liberal?

The root of the word liberal is the Latin word liber, which has one meaning and one only. Liber means free. I haven’t allowed the Republican machine to paint the word liberal or those who embrace it as ugly or hateful. A Liberal is someone who loves freedom. You can’t get much more patriotic than that. So, I am a Liberal and I embrace the word wholeheartedly.

Being liberal in politics has other meanings as well. Liberals believe that everyone has a right to a fair chance in life. We believe in helping others who are less fortunate and this belief spills over into how we think government should function. So, Liberals support government programs that help those less fortunate in hopes of leveling the playing field. I firmly believe in this liberal ideal. I believe that when private resources aren’t sufficient the government must support programs to help those in need.

Another traditional Liberal ideal is that we should support public education and fund it appropriately. I absolutely support this. I believe that we should fully fund our schools, provide free and reduced lunch programs, provide after school programs and provide transportation for those who need it. I believe we should fully fund EVERY school, not just those in the suburbs. I believe we should spend even more time and money to assure that schools in the inner city are a source of pride for the community. We should do what is necessary to attract teachers to high risk schools and give children in economically challenged areas a chance to go to a neighborhood school that offers a superior education. They shouldn’t always be forced to ride a bus across town. I believe we should raise the bar in education instead of continuing to lower it in order to look like we are educating our children. We are cheating them of an education instead of providing them with one. Yes, I realize much of this is easier said than done. So, I’m a realist, but I’m still a Liberal.

I support a woman’s right to reproductive freedom. I hope and pray that I and my daughters never have to make a decision to terminate a pregnancy, but I am comforted in knowing that safe choices are still available for us and all others who must use them or choose to use them. Do I believe that there should be some limitations for abortions funded with public money, partial birth abortions or medical procedures performed on minors? I absolutely do, when very narrowly applied. The doctor who performs a medical procedure on my minor child without my permission would need to find a very deep hole in which to hide because I will hunt him/her down and happily face my own death in order to exact my revenge. So, I’m passionate about protecting my own children, but I’m still a Liberal.

I believe that we should protect our environment at all costs. Once this earth is depleted God will not give us another one. We have been entrusted with this earth and we should nourish it and protect it as if it were our child. I’m surprised that Republicans haven’t usurped this Liberal ideal as their own since they are so intent on inserting God into our government. I guess they are too busy destroying our earth to remember their assertion that God created it or to realize that it is actually the Liberals who are protecting this precious gift (from God or whatever deity or scientific force you believe responsible). Whatever your faith or belief system, if you are a Liberal, you are intent on protecting our earth and its resources. When it comes to protecting our environment I’m a bona fide tree-hugger. I am a Liberal.

As I go down the list, I find that I may not embrace every traditional liberal ideal with all of my heart and soul. Does this mean I’m not a Liberal? No, because being a Liberal is about something that is so basic it can’t be defined by a checklist. Being a Liberal is about loving liberty, especially the civil liberties that our founding fathers set aside in the Constitution of the United States of America. Being a Liberal is about making sure that no American citizen is denied these freedoms. Being a Liberal is about being willing to live for, fight for and die for these liberties and accepting those who choose to protest peacefully to protect these liberties. I am free to have my opinions and I would die to protect this right for others. I am free to speak or write these opinions and I would die to protect this right for others. I am a freedom-loving Liberal. I can’t hide from it or deny it. I don’t want to.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

One Good Dem Deserves Another

I have just returned from a victory party for a good centrist Democrat here in Charlotte and once again I am impressed with volunteers who show up to support their party and candidates. I didn't ask permission to print last names, so I will just say thanks to Pam, Dan, Gray, Jane, Luther, Sandra, Carol, Everett and Em. These are some of the hardest working people I know. Thank you for all you do for local Democrats and the Democratic party. I look forward to working with some of you on campaigns in '06.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Bush-Style Quid Pro Quo

At first glimpse you might think it's a magnanimous gesture by the Preznut. Bush has picked four new nominees for the FEC and two are Democrats. Pleasant surprise? Nope, not at all. It's a bipartisan commission, so you should expect a couple of Democrats to be nominated. It's Preznut Bush doing the nominating, so you should also expect a crony to get a reward.

This is where the story gets interesting. You see, one of the Democrats just happens to be Viveca Novak's hubby, Robert D. Lenhard. I realize that some people in Washington wouldn't have jobs if they weren't handed out as rewards and um....bribes....I Oh hell, you know what I mean. Maybe Lenhard is deserving of the selection, but there is no way on God's green earth that this will ever look like anything more than a payoff to Novak for covering Rove's ass.

Jane Hamsher at FDL has more and the WaPo article is here.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Wow, What a Week

I hope my local readers (yes! I have readers!) are all safe and warm. Those of you who have lived in Charlotte for a while know that this was not a true ice storm, but it did cause some problems. My cable went out which meant no internet. OH! The AGONY! I didn't have time to post here with all my baking, but I missed reading my favorite blogs.

All of our teachers have received gifts and cards and hopefully know just how much we appreciate all they do for our children. Don't forget to thank those who coach, teach or lead your children.

I'm trying to catch up on the developing story surrounding Speaker Jim Black' actions. If anyone has any insight into what he could have possibly been thinking or if he was thinking please share it here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

It's That Time of Year........

My posts will be few and far between this week. I am in the kitchen baking yummies for 15 teachers and two scout leaders. I am looking forward to next week when I have both of my girls home and we can do the Mommy / daughter know.....blogging, watching C-Span and CNN and singing Fitzmas Carols.

Don't forget to thank all of the teachers and volunteers in your life.
A nice card or a few kind words will do. They aren't in it for the gifts.....or the baked goods from my kitchen.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Republicans Threaten Democrats to Silence Alito Ethics Questions

Us News and World Report has a short piece quoting Alito supporters saying they are willing to dig up 36 year old ethics problems for Ted Kennedy in order to silence his questions regarding Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito.

The GOP team working with the White House to win confirmation of conservative Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito is putting out a warning to Alito's Democratic critics: Question his ethics and character at your own peril. In their sights: Sens. Edward Kennedy and Joe Biden. "We're absolutely prepared to have an ethics debate with Teddy Kennedy," says one insider who mentioned the "C" word: Chappaquiddick.

Now, I'll be the last person to defend Ted Kennedy and his actions as a young man. He received similar showers of favoritism like that shown to another silver spooner in Washington, George W. Bush. Someone always seemed to be bailing these rich young men out of trouble.

I guess if they want to go back that far we should make sure we dig back 36 years on all members of Congress. We should especially revisit the behavior of the President in his drug and alcohol days. Or maybe we should revisit his Air National Guard Days and truly get to the bottom of that story.

The Alito supporter isn't quoted by name, so we can't just dig into his past. We will have to check up on everyone. We should start with Alito's most ardent supporters and move down the line. I wonder, though, why the supporter wasn't quoted by name. Do you think maybe he knows that threatening to expose new or rehash 35+ year old ethics questions in the current climate in Washington might be just plain stupid?

Ted Kennedy has weathered many political bumps and bruises. If they don't have anything new to throw at him, I'm confident he can weather having the same old crap tossed his way.

Matt Stoller at has more.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

What I Said....Only Better

In my "Still Seething" post I wrote how I was puzzled that Democrats hadn't figured out that it is time to reconsider their stance on the war. Matt Stoller at gets my point across for me.

"That's how John Murtha talks. He never says he's against the war, he says that having American troops in that region is making things worse. And that's based on the facts that he got, from the military.
Don't wear your anti-war attitude on your sleave; it's a pragmatic thing. Then when right-wingers say that they are for the war, they will look like mindless ideologues."

One point Dems also need to get across is that we aren't going to continue to run the war just to boost the self esteem of our soldiers fighting in Iraq. We have to stop letting the Preznut and his wingnuts push this idea that our dissent is demoralizing the troops. Do you think the Preznut is worried about the self esteem of workers in any other industry in America? Do you think Bush and Congress worried about the self esteem of Textile workers when they pushed Cafta through? Of course they didn't.

I am proud of our soldiers and when we bring them home we will make sure they know that any failures or perceived failures in Iraq were not their fault. Since Bushie is so worried about their self esteem we will make sure the troops know that any failures rest firmly on the shoulders of the Preznut, The Vice Preznut, Rumsfeld and the rest of the war cabal in Washington.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Man, This Must Chap O'Reilly's Ass

Crooks and Liars has the Barney cam up from the White House. It appears the Preznut and Mrs. Bush have joined the war against Christmas. This must really be gut-wrenching for O'Reilly. His own Preznut working against him.

I read the Preznut, in defense of the "Happy Holiday" cards sent out by the White House, said that it was because they were being sent to people of many faiths. This should be a big "HELLO" to Mr. O'Reilly and his fellow Christmas warriors. Stores and shopping malls are attracting buyers of many faiths and like the White House use more generic holiday greetings.

If you want to read a hilarious diary by Hunter at dailykos go here. I laughed so hard I cried. Hunter does a great job and is about to retire from his front page role. It's a great read.

Merry Christmas to my friends who celebrate the birth of Christ, Happy Holidays to my friends who don't. Oh, and Happy Yule O'Reilly, you jack-ass.

Friday, December 09, 2005

NC GOP Rep Flip Flops on Illegal Immigration

Back on November 15, I wrote a piece about Sue Myrick and her contradictory positions on illegal immigration. In her early days in the House she voted to promote sprawl of illegal immigrants. Her votes made it easier for them to stay and work, play, support their families, and commit crimes. At no time in her first 4 years in Congress did Sue Myrick see illegal immigration as something to limit or control. Boy, how times have changed.

Now that it is a political hot button for the Republican party, especially here in NC, Sue and her fellow GOP Reps in the House have decided that they should come down hard on illegal immigrants. Yes, I know there have been some tragic deaths at the hands of drunk drivers who are illegal immigrants, but is that enough to explain the abrupt change in Sue's position?

Of course not! Sue and her cronies in the House want to save their political hides. NC Republicans are angry over the flux of illegal immigrants to our state, so Sue is going to ride in on her white horse and save the day. There's just that one teensy weensy problem with her voting record on immigration.

While her NC GOP cohorts on the hill have pretty much voted consistently to limit the sprawl of illegal immigrants, Sue has not. As mentioned above, in her first four years Sue consistently voted to promote the sprawl of illegals and to make their lives easier. In other words, Sue helped create this problem. Now she wants to look like the hero as she cleans up her own mess.

If you read my first piece on Myrick you will notice similarities between this rant and that one. Well, not much has changed since then. I've decided that I will keep ranting about Myrick's votes on immigration each time she gets herself in the newspaper headlines on this issue. Today, she was in the Charlotte Observer. Today she is here.

Sue, it's the war stupid.

Delay Delayed Again

So Sorry, I just can't help myself when it comes to DeLay's delays..........

The story is here.

From the story it appears that the next step will be for the state of Texas (Ronnie Earle) to decide whether to appeal the ruling the judge made to dismiss the conspiracy charge against DeLay. Now, I don't know Ronnie Earle. I don't know just how political he is. It's possible that he could decide to appeal the ruling because he feels it is a legitimate charge. If he decides to appeal and an appeals court decides that it is not a legitimate charge the DeLay camp will come out with the "I told you so" response. Earle could also chose to appeal just to delay the trial further and deal another blow to DeLay's hopes of getting back to Washington to reclaim his leadership role.

If Earle doesn't chose to appeal this ruling, the next step will be for Senior Judge Pat Priest to decide whether there was prosecutorial misconduct as the DeLay camp claims. If Priest decides there was misconduct the case will be thrown out.

While I would be tremendously disappointed to see DeLay get off easy on what looks like a classic money laundering case, I believe he will be seeing the inside of plenty of courtrooms in the coming years.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Rove, Luskin and a Smoke-Filled Room

I haven't written much about Karl Rove and his attorney, Robert Luskin, because Jane and Redd, Jeralyn and Josh Marshall seem to have it covered. They do a great job with the time lines and who told what to whom and when type of stuff. Something keeps nagging me about all of this, though.

Karl Rove hired Robert Luskin to represent him. That's a fact. This isn't charity on Luskin's part. Why did Rove pick Luskin? I'm sure there are thousands of lawyers to choose from in the D.C. area. What is it about Robert Luskin that made him the perfect choice for Karl Rove?

To start, Luskin has his undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University. He was a Rhodes Scholar. This means he's smart. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and he was a speech writer for Geraldine Ferraro. This means he knows how to write and probably that he knows something about swaying public opinion. He is a professor and lecturer at various universities. Finally, he's a lawyer who has successfully handled several high-profile cases. I'm not sure that any of this is why Karl Rove hired Robert Luskin. I think it goes deeper than that.

At in their Law stars Hall of Fame Luskin gives this quote about the Rove case which I find very revealing.

"But this is something of a magnitude that's more intense than anything I've seen before," he said of the investigation. "Most criminal lawyers say 'No comment' or 'I'm not going to talk about it.' And I think that works well. But it does not work well in a high-profile Washington investigation, where your goals are much more ambitious and much broader than just keeping your client out of jail."

What are these ambitious and much broader goals? If he isn't just trying to keep Rove out of jail what is he trying to do? Is he helping Rove cover for someone else? Is he protecting Bush or Cheney? I don't think saving Rove's reputation would qualify as being more ambitious or broader than staying out of jail. Rove is, after all, just a puppeteer for the President. (So, maybe he's the head puppeteer.)

Luskin doesn't clarify the more ambitious and broader goals in the Law Stars article, but his actions give some big clues. One of Luskin's goals, it appears, is to obfuscate the truth. He's playing the old smoke and mirrors game. He doesn't seem to have the facts on his side, so he has to create the appearance of innocence for his client. But is it working?

The longer Fitzgerald draws this investigation out with Karl Rove hanging and dangling in the breeze the harder Luskin and Rove seem to work at tossing decoys to the press, public and special counsel. Luskin works feverishly to try and explain away deficiencies in the truth surrounding Karl Rove's actions in the outing of CIA operative, Valerie Plame.

This is where I think Luskin is making his fatal error. He is assuming that we are all too stupid to see what he is doing. The problem for Luskin is that we aren't stupid. More importantly Patrick Fitzgerald isn't stupid. With all of the Luskin/Rove bobbing and weaving we are all pretty much convinced Rove is guilty. It's just a matter of proving it.

The fact that Luskin sees his role as being much broader than keeping his client out of jail is probably one of the reasons why Rove hired Luskin. Does the fact that Rove chose Luskin mean that he is guilty? No, not at all. Innocent people hire attorneys all the time, but innocent people are usually protected by the facts. It's the guilty who look for loopholes in the law, hide evidence of their guilt or fabricate evidence to prove they are innocent.

So, is Luskin trying to prove Rove's innocence or hide Rove's guilt? It's hard to tell through all of this smoke.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

New Charlotte City Council Sworn In

I had the pleasure of attending the Oath of Office Ceremony for the Mayor and Charlotte City Council members. It was a very nice event and several of our past and current council members were quite entertaining.

The highlight of the evening was the singing of our national anthem by Officer Mark Simpson from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. He has a wonderful voice and he did a beautiful job of singing a very difficult song.

City Clerk, Brenda Freeze, confirmed the election results and Mayor Pat McCrory was sworn in. He seemed a bit tongue-tied and unusually nervous. His speech was going well until he did it. I couldn't believe he did it. He fell in line behind the rest of the Republicans and had to mention illegal immigration as an issue that would be important to address in the coming year. Oh my Lord these gooper drones sure do lack the capacity for original thought. Oh well, it hasn't been a secret that Mayor Pat longs for something bigger and better than Mayor. I guess he has to line up behind Bushie for now.

The introduction of the three council members who are leaving followed the Mayor's speech. Greg Phipps, who filled the vacancy created when Malcolm Graham won a seat in the North Carolina Senate thanked the Mayor, his family and Malcolm Graham. He left the council with the message that he would continue to advocate for stronger and safer neighborhoods and encouraged them to fund growth in a manner that is fair to all.

John Tabor opened by uttering what he called the six most feared words to his colleagues. "Can we dim the lights please." This was a reference to his power point presentations. He thanked his wife and spoke of her dedication. He described just how many responsibilities she shouldered so that he could add Council duties to his career duties. He took a pause before looking into her eyes and choked up as he told her that she is the love of his life and he looked forward to spending more time with her. I'm not sure how many dry eyes there were in the room. I don't think there were many. As he received his second standing ovation, Tabor shook hands with each person behind the dais except Patsy Kinsey. He moved around the long right side of the dais, walked to Kinsey and gave her a hug. He is a lot more conservative than I am, but his sense of humor and dedication to doing what was best for this city and those of us who live here helped me get over his tilt to the far right.

Pat Cannon was the last of the three to speak. He said he never intended to run for public office and that he always preferred to work behind the scenes. He did mention the "vicious rumors" that have spread saying that they sent some media outlets on a wild goose chase. He said that what he is being accused of is an abomination unto God.

After acknowledging the three council members who are leaving, Mayor McCrory introduced the three new council members Andy Dulin, Anthony Foxx and Michael Barnes.

Michael Barnes spoke first. He represents District 4 which happens to be my district. I think Barnes will do a great job. He's intelligent and a centrist Democrat. He's also a lawyer and not only lives in the district, but works here as well.

Andy Dulin spoke briefly and thanked the constituents in District 4 who voted for him. Funny thing is that Dulin represents District 6. This brought some chuckles from a few at the dais and a couple of us in the audience. I don't think he realized his mistake. Dulin joins the other three Republicans in the minority on the Council.

The last of the newcomers to speak was Anthony Foxx. A few of us had high hopes for Foxx. We hoped he would take an early leadership role, but he didn't want to rock the boat. Foxx thanked his family and told a story about his grandfather and how he had made a difference in a young man's life. I still think Foxx has great potential and he brings many positive qualities to the group.

The mayor then recognized other members of the council. Most kept their speeches brief save for Susan Burgess. Two years ago she invoked the spirit of Elvis in her speech. This year she waxed poetic about Aurora and her brother the Sun. Burgess says, "you can always count on Aurora, the sun will always rise and the night will always end in a new day." We look forward to more gems from Mrs. Burgess through the next two years. No, really, we are.

Two other speeches of note came from Patsy Kinsey and James Mitchell who told of his pinkie promise with his girls that he would only run this one last time and a warning to neighborhood leaders that if they wanted him to attend they "must serve food." This brought laughter from the Council members and the audience. His appetite is well known and was mentioned in Richard Rubin's blog Running Mate.

Patsy Kinsey (Disclaimer - I call her Mom) thanked Greg Phipps for his service and told him that her vote to put him on the city council was the best vote she'd made. She also emphasized her commitment to voting her conscience and her constituency. Quite a few people sitting around me were nodding and applauding after this comment.

The evening ended uneventfully. Council members, friends, family and campaign workers headed out to the lobby for a very nice reception. Nicey nice is over. It's time to get down to city business.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Still Seething and a Bit Puzzled

I don't know how many of you were held captive by the farce in the US House of Representatives shown live via C-Span on Friday November, 18th. You know the farce I'm talking about. It was the debate and vote on the Republican's plan for troop withdrawal. I sat here and watched the hypocrites in the U.S. House of Representatives make fools of themselves. None of our North Carolina Republican Reps stood up to speak out against the sham, though none pulled a Schmidt.

I am curious to see just how many of North Carolina's Representatives and Senators have military service. I am especially curious about this after seeing the similarities between Jack Murtha's organized, specific plan for troop withdrawal and the plan submitted to Rumsfeld by General George Casey and General John Abizaid. Those two plans by experienced military men differed greatly from the GOP cut and run plan submitted by Duncan Hunter, (R-CA).

The question for me is simple. Do any of our Reps and Senators have the military experience to truly support our military and come up with a plan to bring them home. Some of this stuff you can't learn from reading papers, attending meetings or watching CNN.

NC Senators
Elizabeth Dole, R-NC - No military experience
Richard Burr, R-NC - No military experience

NC Representatives
G.K. Butterfield, D-NC - Drafted into Army 1968-1970
Bob Etheridge, D-NC - Served in the United States Army 1965-1967
Walter B. Jones, R-NC - North Carolina National Guard 1967-1971
David Price, D-NC - No military experience
Virginia Foxx, R-NC - No military experience
Howard Coble, R-NC - 5 1/2 years in the United States Coast Guard and 18 years in the Coast Guard Reserve.
Mike McIntyre, D-NC - No military service
Robin Hayes, R-NC - No military service
Sue Myrick, R-NC - No military service
Pat McHenry, R-NC - No military service
Charles Taylor, R-NC - No military service
Mel Watt, D-NC - No military service
Brad Miller, D-NC - No military service

So this little exercise proves what? Not much really. North Carolina politicians don't have a wealth of military service. I'm not knocking the experience a few have in the Army, Coast Guard and National Reserves. It just doesn't come close to matching the years of Jack Murtha who has taken the lead (and all of the heat) for offering a plan to bring our troops home.

So, I'm not surprised that North Carolina GOP Reps lined up behind Duncan Hunter. I know very few Republicans who think for themselves or who have the balls to stand up and disagree with the rest of the GOP drones in Congress.

I guess I'm having a hard time understanding why so few North Carolina Democrats found the courage to stand behind Jack Murtha. With the lack of success in Iraq and the revelation that the administration lied when promoting their war you would think that intelligent beings would understand that the facts aren't the same. It is OK to take a different stance on the war. The only thing to fear is a Rovian style attack and no one has stood up to this better than Jack Murtha. Take your cue from him.

When the facts surrounding a situation change it is wise to reconsider your position. So far, only a few have taken advantage of this opportunity. The push for withdrawal is gaining momentum and as it gains strength it will be interesting to see who leads and who follows.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Conspiracy Charge Dismissed Against DeLay

My lunch almost came up when I heard this announcement. However the good news is that the judge refused to dismiss the money laundering charges.

The trial will go forward and should occur some time in January. I'm sure the legal blogs will have more detail about this. I guess I need to be grateful that all of the charges weren't dismissed, but I'm having a hard time.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Shameless bit of Advertising

I won't be posting much until Sunday. I am helping run a fundraiser for the Myers Park Baptist Church Youth Group. We are selling Christmas trees and wreaths this weekend to raise money for their mission trips.

We have top grade Fraser Firs and handmade wreaths. They range from $40 for a 5-6' tree to $120 for a 9-10' tree. These are wholesale measurements, so the trees stand a bit taller than the stated size.

The sale will be Friday December 2, from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Saturday December 3, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

This is a great cause. I hope to see a few of you there. (You know who you are!)