James's blog

Apple Chill Goes Sour

Chapel Hill's spring street fair took a sad turn for the worse yesterday, with a handful of people shot in the closing hours of the annual orgy. Orange Politics has the best links, as well as a good discussion thread. Ironically, a number of downtown merchants had been asking the town to rethink the festival, arguing (rightly, in my opinion) that the event had strayed from its original intent of providing good, clean family fun with local arts and crafts. The News and Observer has the story, too.

Pope schooling

It's bad enough that Art "The Puppetmaster" Pope wants to control the Republican Party and state government - he also wants to control the University of North Carolina. Recent stories about his attempts to illegally peddle influence in local elections reminded me of this story which ran in the Independent this past January.

What did one Republican candidate say to the other?

I'm stupider than you are

That's exactly what Republicans say to one another when they get all worked up about "No Tax" pledges that rear their ugly heads every election cycle. The Winston Salem Journal covers the latest sorry saga.

Many politicians say they won't vote to raise taxes. Some even sign a pledge not to do so. But signing on to such a clear statement also raises questions that lack clear answers.

The issue has come up in the race for the 31st District N.C. Senate seat, as it does each election cycle all across the country. Since 1986, the advocacy group Americans for Taxpayer Reform has circulated the "Taxpayer Protection Pledge" - a brief, written promise to oppose all tax increases - and urged candidates for state and national office to sign it.

Puppetmaster makes the Pilot

The Pilot (Southern Pines) has a nice backgrounder on the NCGOP pissing contest with Richard Morgan. They give special attention to Art "The Puppetmaster" Pope in his spending frenzy to purify the party he owns.

Art Pope, a longtime arch-enemy of Morgan and a former House member, has donated more than $100,000 — through his businesses — to a group running ads attacking Morgan. One of them uses a baseball theme that asks voters to “Call Him Out.”

Morgan has filed a complaint with the State Board of Elections, claiming that the money and advertisements are illegal because they name him. Morgan’s foes say the ads are from an issue-advocacy group, called the Republican Legislative Majority of North Carolina, which can accept corporate dollars as long as it doesn’t advocate for or against a specific candidate.

Dole stumps, takes lumps

The News and Observer delivers this perfect headline today on the sad state of Elizabeth Dole, who's out in Montana shilling for Conrad Burns, another neocon senator in trouble.

Dole stumps, takes lumps

BILLINGS, MONT. - The wind chased clouds of brown dust across the endless Montana landscape, a view so different from the rolling green of North Carolina's Piedmont. Volunteers tacked up fluttering banners for a campaign rally, and aides to Montana's junior senator prepped for the big event -- a visit by GOP superstar Elizabeth Dole, senator from North Carolina. Hours later, she would stand next to Sen. Conrad Burns, a man under attack for his ties to a lobbying scandal, and call him a man of integrity.

Puppetmaster Sideshow

You have to admire Art 'The Puppetmaster' Pope. He hedges his bets like crazy, always working to spin more plates in his circus just in case his ego starts flailing. One of his recent start-ups is the Civitas Institute, headed by his old buddy Jack Hawke. According to their 2005 filings, Civitas is running on chump change from the Puppetmaster, a mere $308,000 in annual contributions - which accounts for pretty much the entire Civitas operating budget. (See attachment.)

I won't embarrass Mr. Hawke and his Sideshow sidekick, Thomas Stith, by posting the piddling salaries they get for doing the Puppetmaster's dirty work. It's sad, though, to see grown men selling their souls for next to nothing to do nothing worth doing.

Indy Statewide Judicial Endorsements

With so much emphasis on local and Congressional races, it's easy to lose sight of the critically important judiciary. Many people I know don't really know how to evaluate the candidates, and sometimes make their choices based on the ubiquity of yard signs. Here's a better option: Take the endorsements of the Independent to heart. Being a local boy with a contrarian streak, I don't always agree with the Independent about endorsements, but I think they nail these races. And I hope they don't mind if I post some excerpts.

State Supreme Court: Five candidates are vying for an open seat on the state's highest court, and we support sitting N.C. Court of Appeals Judge Robin Hudson of Raleigh. N.C.


A few weeks ago, you may have come across this snippet in a Kos diary by bajadudes about Chris 'Chameleon' Mintz running for office in Raleigh as a Democrat.

And it's where the term Bunkeycrat comes from. It specifically refers to Bunky Morgan and that whole sad saga. Bunkey a rich Republican carwash owner ran as a Dem for a Chatham County Board of Commissioners seat held by actual Democrat and Commissioners Chair Gary Phillips. Bob Geary from the Independent put it best this way...."Bunkey thus knocked Phillips out of office and paved the way (I think that's the right term) for the developers to take control in Chatham."

Just in case there's any confusion

about what we're up against, I had the opportunity this morning to review last year's John Locke Foundation IRS filing, two pages of which are included as attachments below.

Income from seminars and luncheons - $56,760

Income from the Puppetmaster - $1,696,142

All other contributions - $199,999

Which means the Puppetmaster personally contributes around 90% of the money to fund his right wing crusade.


PS If any of you are banking with BB&T, now would be a very good time to write to them and let you know how much you appreciate them spending $30,000 of the profits they make on their hard-working customers to support the Puppetmaster. You can use this form to let them know you're closing your account.


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