Sunday, February 26, 2006

If She Wants to be a Madame......

then Madame it is. I just hope nobody else drops the "Justice" from the nickname. I can read the headlines now.....

Madame Runs for N.C. Supreme Court

That aughta stir things up in the Bible Belt. The Raleigh
News and Observer has the story.

Burr's Rosy Specs See GOP Victories this Fall

The Charlotte Observer is running a piece this morning about the GOP Lincoln-Reagan Day dinner where Senator Richard Burr spoke about the GOP's chances in November. He doesn't think there's a chance for Democrats to take control of the House.

With most congressional districts favoring one party or the other, he said, only 32 House seats are actually competitive. Democrats need a net gain of 15 seats to take control.

"I find it hard to believe Democrats are going to take over the House," said Burr, of Winston-Salem.

If you haven't figured out why local and state politics are important, just pay attention to what happened in South Dakota this past week. Newsweek has a piece on what has been dubbed the "forced pregnancy bill" and the "rapist's rights bill" by many who are angry and fearful of what might happen if we go back to the days before abortions were safe and legal.

If you think that couldn't happen in North Carolina, think again. North Carolina Republicans are just as anti-women, anti-gay, anti-civil liberties as the next state.

County commissioner Jim Puckett criticized what he called the liberal agenda of Democrats who control the board of commissioners and predicted county benefits for same-sex partners would be part of that agenda.

"It's incumbent on us to take back the county commission," he told the audience, "to make sure morality and decency remain the standard in Mecklenburg County."

It's more important than ever that we pay as much attention to local and state races as we do to those for national office. If we are too concerned about taking back the House in Washington, we could lose it all here at home.

Candidate filings close in a couple of days. I am happy to see many Democrats filing in what are believed to be "safe" Republican districts. I will spend time over the coming weeks highlighting as many candidates as I can and getting contact information published. It's going to be an important election year. Let's push, pull, fight and claw our Dems to victories on the local, state and national levels.

Update: The Washington Post has an article in today's paper that touches on the importance of the state races.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

State Democrats Drawing More Donors

North Carolina Democrats are raising more money for their re-election bids than their Republican counterparts. This Charlotte Observer piece states the obvious, "money follows power." Indeed it does.

Sadly, corruption also follows power and money. We see it in the issues surrounding Jim Black in North Carolina and the scores of Republicans in Washington who have been tainted by the Abramoff, DeLay and Cunningham scandals. One lone Democrat, Bill Jefferson of Louisiana also appears to be poised to fall. He, however didn't network among his fellow Democrats to spread the corruption like so many House Republicans did.

Will these scandals shape upcoming elections? Were Jim Black's transgressions bad enough to taint all of his fellow Democrats, even though none have been named or investigated in his troubles? Will associations with Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff ruin the chances of Hayes, Myrick, Taylor, Jones, McHenry and all the other North Carolina Republicans seeking to return to Washington? These questions will be answered in November. Until then it will be interesting to see just how much message all this money can buy.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Democrats Hold Church Sacred & Don't Solicit Members

This is just amazing. It isn't amazing that Republicans would request church directories so they can spam, telephone and mass mail members in an attempt to recruit new Republicans. It's amazing that the North Carolina Republican leadership chooses to try to smear Democrats by linking them to homosexuals. This is a smear? Oh, please.

Chris Mears, the political director for the state GOP doesn't have the balls to face questions after sending out the request to North Carolina churches. According to
The Charlotte Observer, he referred questions to Bill Peaslee, the state party's chief of staff.

Peaslee says Republicans are just appealing to one of their constituencies when they ask church members to break the rules that most churches have about disseminating personal information about their members for the purposes of solicitation. The Catholic Diocese has this rule, my church has this rule and I know many others do as well.

Peaslee is quoted in the Observer as saying:
"... The Democrats may feel it's more profitable to go and do voter registration drives at a homosexual convention. We feel more comfortable going to churches."
Classy guy, eh?

Jerry Meek, the chairman of the Democratic Party of North Carolina, says that Democrats don't seek membership lists of organizations.
"We believe that people go to church to worship and not to sign up to receive Republican propaganda," Meek said. "I would say the vast majority of Democrats are Democrats because of their faith, not in spite of it. But that is a place that is so sacred that we should not inject politics into the church."
Not only is it classy. It's true. I'm a Democrat because of my faith. My parents raised me to believe that helping others was a daily event. They live it. They breathe it. I don't quite do as good a job as they do, but the message is being passed to my children as well. Helping others. Loving and respecting our neighbors, teachers, family. Doing what's right. These messages fit right in with going to church. These messages are woven into the fabric of the Democratic Party.

Reddhedd at
Firedoglake had a wonderful post back in January. It's titled A Question of Doing What's Right. It sometimes doesn't load properly, but the post is worth searching for on the site. Here's just a small bit from that post:

Growing up, my folks taught me that I was no better than anyone else. Period. But they also taught me that no one else was better than me, either, and that sense of self has helped me to question things that I thought were wrong my whole life. It's one of the reasons that I started blogging.

But it isn't enough that I want more for myself and my family. Every person in this nation needs to wake up and realize that they deserve more as well. That's a message that Democrats could take to the bank, I'm sure of it. I know it is a message that would resonate here in West Virginia. People are hungry for hope, they are hungry for someone who will value them -- and not just use them as a pawn.

More than that, they deserve to be valued. It's a question of doing what is right, not just what is politically expedient in the moment to win the election or raise more money or whatever else seems to be driving political power these days. Let's give the little guy a voice again -- help him to stand on his own two feet and make something for his children, and you help the whole country. That goes for moms, too, I can tell you that.

It is time for the "all fear, all the time" message of the Republican Party to end. If they are sinking to the new lows of soliciting church members for party membership then they are the ones feeling the fear. They are desperate. Their message is stale and they know it. It's time for a new message. It's time for hope. There is a better way. We deserve it and we will demand it at the polls on November 7, 2006.

More reading: For a little background on how Republicans have used churches in the past see
Steve Clemmon's post from 2004.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Kissell Files For Congress

The following is the text from a press release from the Kissell campaign. I thought it was important to get this out, so I'm printing it in its entirety. Good luck, Larry!

Democrat seeks to get America back on the course of peaceful prosperity

Kissell: "I'm just getting started."

BISCOE, NORTH CAROLINA - Larry Kissell officially filed to run for Congress today. He first announced his intentions for District 8 before a group of approximately 200 supporters in Montgomery County during late November. Yesterday, he toured locally owned Bear Creek Hosiery in Montgomery County, then spoke that evening to a gathering in Raeford. Tonight, he addresses the Senior Democrats of Cabarrus County as his first official campaign address since filing.

Kissell commented on his filing, "I saw a bumper sticker the other day that best explains why I got in this race 10 weeks ago. It said, 'Fed up? … Vote Democrat.' That's exactly why I got in this race. Because like a lot of folks across this district, I am angry about the direction our country is headed.The truth is, well intentioned people told me right out of the gates that nobody could beat Robin Hayes. But as I've visited every county in this district, I realized that it's not just Democrats who are fed-up with the Washington politicians. It's everybody.Most reasonable folks would agree that we need to shake things up in Washington. And while I may be late to the game, I want people to know that I'm not behind … I'm just getting started.

My fundraising program is just beginning to hit its stride, and my political operation is geared up.
I've only been in this campaign for about 10 weeks. And during those 10 weeks, my anger about the direction of America has become hope for the folks who are struggling. We need hope. Too many families in the 8th district are struggling to hang on until the end of the month, instead of working to achieve the American Dream. This is sad, and it must change. Hard working people are doing all they can to heat their homes, and yet they wake up each morning before work to a cold house. Our parents and grandparents alike are ignoring illness because they don't have health insurance, or worse yet, they are not taking their life-saving prescriptions because Washington won't do anything to bring down drug costs. When I see friends and neighbors facing these tough times, I know that America has lost her way and it's time for a change.And as I watch Robin Hayes ignore these everyday issues, I now know that I have to win this race because I'm fighting the fight to get America back on the course of peaceful prosperity. White and black, rich and poor, urban and rural are collectively fed-up with the nonsense that the Washington politicians have been trying to sell us. I've met a lot of folks who say they are tired getting their hopes up every year just to have them dashed by another Robin Hayes victory. To them and to you, let me say, this year really will be different.

I've learned that the majority of the questions I get about running for Congress are about how much money I've raised. I now realize that to get the attention we need for the serious issues we face, we must raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. I don't like the system, but I'm raising the money it takes and getting the support we need to win this election. I've been overwhelmed at the support and I will work hard every day to see this through."

ABOUT LARRY KISSELLKissell, 55, is a native of Montgomery County. He spent 27 years in management in the local textile industry. In 2001, Kissell left management and became a high school teacher. He has a degree in economics from Wake Forest University. He and his wife Tina live in Biscoe and have two daughters.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Verdict is in (Almost!)

The State Board of Elections has determined that Jim Black's campaign did break election laws by accepting contributions over the legal limit, by making contributions in the name of another contributor and by accepting over $27,000 in contributions from businesses.

While no action was taken against Black, Rep. Michael Decker (R-Forsyth) and Scott Edwards, treasurer of the optometrists' PAC were referred to the Wake County District Attorney's office for possible prosecution.

From the Charlotte Observer:

Investigators concluded that Decker, a Black ally, failed to disclose contributions, transferred campaign contributions for personal use without reporting them and filed false campaign reports. Edwards, a Murfreesboro optometrist, was accused of violating campaign contribution limits and filing a false report
Board members are planning to meet again before mid-March to listen to attorneys from both sides to determine if further action will be taken against Black.

For further reading see

Thursday, February 09, 2006

National News Review

The New York Times (NYT) : The U.S. military's humanitarian efforts to make sure no detainee goes hungry at Guantanamo. Republican's yank the teeth out of the push for reform. White House finally decides to brief the full House Intelligence Committee AFTER the administration broke the law.
The Washington Post (WaPo) : FISA judges are not too happy with the illegal wiretapping.
Russell Senate building evacuated. Everyone is OK. Many years of deep cuts in the budget to ease deficit. Middle and lower income need to suck it up again because in Bush's world only the rich are entitled. The elderly and the poor might as well suck it up too, because Bush plans to slow growth of Medicare and Medicaid right when the ranks of those in need will swell.
Time: House Republicans decide they don't want lobbying reform afterall. Senators on both sides of the aisle afraid Bush has claimed unlimited powers claiming time of war warrants them. (No wonder he doesn't want to end the war!)
Newsweek: Hirsh says that feds are pretty much incompetent and still don't know how to track terrorists.

I will be updating the review of items in local/state papers later. I have several deadlines I'm working on. I'm sorry for so little original writing of late.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Local News Review

The News & Observer (Raleigh): State Board of Elections hearings start today. Run down of local political races and announcements.
The Charlotte Observer: The Observer's version of events with the SBOE. Mecklenburg County Commission approved Sheriff Pendergraph's request to have 10 Deputies trained to become Federal Immigration Officers and screen inmates. Let's just hope the light rail is light years away.
Winston Salem Journal: Link will not open. I will update when it does.
News and Record (Greensboro): Council pledges support to GGO and bans smoking inside Greensboro Coliseum.

I will try to highlight some other papers tomorrow. It was a slooooow news day.

National News Review

Here's a roundup of what some of the more popular for-profit news sources are saying in their headlines:
The New York Times (NYT):
Lawmaker Heather Wilson (R - New Mexico) calls for an immediate inquiry into the illegal wiretap operations conducted by the NSA and the Bush administration.
Gonzales still defends the President's illegal actions. Finally, some Democrats need to figure out what they stand for. The rest of us already know.
Obama and McCain kiss and make up...sort of. Baucus says Bush tax overhaul is dead.
The Washington Post (WaPo):
New budget proposal from President regurgitated from what didn't pass last year. Bush/Gonzales defense on legal wiretapping just doesn't make sense. Boehner follows Duke Cunningham's lead and rents his apartment from a lobbyist.
USA Today:
Bush figuring out new ways to deny habeas. Foes of reproductive choice stoop to new lows.
Federal government wastes space and tax dollars. Bush lies about entitlement cuts...Time calls it a "trick."
Newsweek: Bush tries to privatize Social Security again.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Democrats Have Uphill Battle in N.C.'s 8th District

The Charlotte Observer has a piece this morning that makes the future of North Carolina's 8th Congressional District appear bleak. The financial numbers aren't looking good for Democrats Tim Dunn and Larry Kissell.

According to the FECinfo data compiled by the Observer, Robin Hayes had $733,837 in the bank as of 12/31/05. Tim Dunn had $47,118 and Larry Kissell had $3,653. It's a good thing the numbers don't tell the whole story.

Dunn and Kissell are running against each other in a primary. This means that the money will leave the campaign as quickly as it is coming in. I haven't seen anything by Tim Dunn that is out locally yet, but Larry Kissell is running a traditional grassroots campaign with a twist. He has also reached out to the netroots for support.

Is electing a Democrat in the 8th impossible? No. In 2004 Hayes won with only 55% of the vote in a district that leans Republican. Beth Troutman who raised only $231,263 showed what a well-run, under-funded campaign can do against Hayes who raised his $1,693,680 from the likes of Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, Dennis Hastert and Roy Blunt.

It may be an uphill battle financially for the Democrats. However, for the citizens of the 8th District who are tired of leadership by fear, who are tired of a candidate who has financial links to corrupt politicians and felons, who are tired of giving their money to the rich in America and their jobs to people overseas; it is vitally important that the grassroots efforts of the Democrats bring a change for the district and for our state.

For those of us who aren't engaged in grassroots efforts for Kissell or Dunn there is something we can do. Send.Money.Now. If you haven't decided where to throw your support, send a little bit to each of them. Then after the primary is over, send a little more. Anyone who lives in or near the eighth district knows that once the Hayes camp starts the ads they will be heated, dirty and will run non-stop. It will take some hard cold cash to battle this.

The Washington Post has started their coverage of the 2006 elections and none of the North Carolina races is listed as a key race. Does this mean that they know something we don't? Of course not. It means that they have no idea how passionately Democrats in North Carolina feel about protecting our Constitution and preserving our freedom.

Once again folks, we have a job to do. Let's get busy.

For your financial consideration:
Larry Kissell Campaign
Tim Dunn Campaign

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Good Old Fashioned Common Sense

Sadly, it seems to be lacking in Washington these days. It doesn't appear to be missing in Virginia, though. Virginia's Governor, Tim Kaine, set the tone for what many hope will be an election year that brings control of at least one house of Congress back to the Democrats.

He might not have appealed to the liberal base of the Democratic Party, but in many southern and midwestern states it is the voice of reason from a centrist that will bring swing voters from the Republican Party. It is this voice of reason that will help voters overcome the years of panic induced by the "Live in Fear" Republicans. It is this voice of reason that will win back those people who want to be governed by thoughtful legislators who vote with their constituents and are guided by common sense and a strong moral character.

That is what many of us see in Tim Kaine. That is why, as much as I love Jack Murtha, Tim Kaine was the right man to give the Democrat's response to the President's State of the Union Address.
Eleanor Clift agrees.
Though Kaine is little-known outside of political-junkie circles, his theme that “management matters” is at the heart of the Democrats’ message going into the November ’06 election. As his speech illustrated, Kaine symbolizes the common-sense pragmatism that elects Democrats on the state level. He doesn’t fire up the base, but if Democrats want the voters to put them in charge again, they have to establish governing credibility again.
This hasn't just been a bad year for President Bush and the Republicans in Congress. This has been a bad five years. It has been catastrophic for the American people. From Kaine's speech and CNN:

"The federal government should serve the American people. But that mission is frustrated by this administration's poor choices and bad judgment," he said.

"Families in the Gulf Coast see that as they wait to rebuild their lives. Americans who lose their jobs see that as they look to rebuild their careers and our soldiers in Iraq see that as they try to rebuild a nation."

Kaine questioned the administration's handling of the Iraq war, accusing it of using inaccurate intelligence before the war and failing to provide the necessary equipment for U.S. troops after the war began.

"Our commitment to winning the war on terrorism compels us to ask this question: Are the president's policies the best way to win this war?" he said.

"We must give our troops the tools they need to win the war on terror. We can do it without sacrificing the liberty we have sent our troops to defend."

Kaine criticized Bush's health care policy, which analysts have said will be an important domestic issue this year, arguing that soaring costs were adding to the rolls of the uninsured and seniors were finding the new Medicare drug plan too complex and expensive.

"Seniors were promised that the new Medicare drug plan would make it easier and cheaper to obtain their medication. Instead, many are falling victim to the program's poor planning," he said.

Kaine also sounded broader themes of reform, service and bipartisanship. "As Americans, we do great things when we work together. Some of our leaders in Washington seem to have forgotten that," he said.

"Our greatest need is for America to heal its partisan wounds and become one people."
The Bush administration, mired in scandals, has promoted an atmosphere of divisiveness in Washington, Kaine charged -- but he didn't name names.

"Democrats are leading that reform effort, working to restore honesty and openness to our government, working to replace a culture of partisanship and cronyism with an ethic of service and results," he said.

The 2006 elections are some of the most important of my life. Like many people I have become more frightened of my own government than I ever have been of terrorists. It is vitally important that the Democrats take back at least one house of Congress. In 2006 I won't be voting for the man or woman. I will be voting for the party. I will be voting to protect our constitution and preserve our civil liberties. I will be voting for Democrats.

For more on Tim Kaine's speech see
The Washington Post, or Raising Kaine.

Welcome to Larry Kissell

Just a little note to welcome my new (and only) advertiser. I had originally planned to keep the site free of advertising, but I thought that a few political ads would do no harm.

While this is not an endorsement of Mr. Kissell over Mr. Dunn I have visited his web site and from everything I've read, Larry Kissell would do a great job in Washington for the consituents of North Carolina's 8th Congressional District.

Go to Larry Kissell's web site to read more about his decision to run for Congress and his stance on the issues.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Get Ready to Tighten Your Belts in North Carolina

Congress has passed a slightly revised new budget and several sectors are going to be hit hard. Sadly, those hit hardest will be those who can least afford it. The elderly, the poor and college students were those targeted.

The year had already started out rocky for the elderly and the poor with the botched implementation of Bush's new Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. The House acted yesterday to make the year even worse for the very people who need to be lifted up, not beaten down. Couple that with the fact that the U.S. Senate is at this minute debating tax cuts for the wealthiest in America, that will wipe out any repair to our deficit the budget cuts will make and it isn't just a slap in the face to these folks, it is full-blown body slam.

What can we expect in North Carolina? The state will be allowed to impose new co-payments and deductibles for those who receive Medicaid assistance. Seniors who transfer assets to family members in order to qualify for Medicaid will have a harder time qualifying for nursing care benefits. States will also be allowed to make other changes to Medicaid and much is not known yet about what these changes might be, but requiring co-pays and payment up front for some services is among the possible changes. States will also be allowed to cut some services for disabled children.

Single moms and dads will find it more difficult to collect child support payments. The bill will stop federal dollars from going to the states to help pay for efforts to collect child support from the non-custodial parent.

College students will find it more difficult to afford student loans. The bill will allow some interest rates charged lenders to fluctuate with the market. Some lenders may pass this along to students.

Mothers receiving assistance from the basic welfare program will also feel a pinch. North Carolina's most at-risk families will now find it more difficult to qualify for and continue receiving this assistance.

So how did the Representatives from North Carolina vote? Robert Peterson at BlueNC compiled this information:

Every Democrat in the House voted against it and 13 Republicans threw their hats in with the Democrats. They didn't do this after the fact, the bill was tied 214-214 until the bitter end. How did NC vote?

1 G.K. Butterfield D ....N
2 Bob Etheridge D .......N
3 Walter Jones R ........N
4 David Price D .........N
5 Virginia Foxx R ....Y
6 Howard Coble R .....Y
7 Mike McIntyre D .......N
8 Robin Hayes R ......Y
9 Sue Myrick R .......Y
10 Patrick McHenry R .Y
11 Charles Taylor R . Y
12 Melvin Watt D ........N
13 Brad Miller D ........N

There is more from The Washington Post.

State BOE has Updated its Site

Filing for North Carolinians who wish to run for elected office in November will open on February 13. The State Board of Elections has been slow to update its site, but forms are available and are now linked to on the front page.