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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Blue Dogs & Sick Puppies 

Thanks to Gordon at Scrutiny Hooligans for directing us to this Nate Silver piece of statistical gold: that the Blue Dog Democrats in the U.S. House usually represent districts in which a publicly subsidized health-insurance plan is desperately needed.

Like Heath Shuler's 11th District in N.C., where over 23% of his constituents are uninsured. Gordon computes that to about 150,000 people hanging out there without a health-care safety net, other than the emergency room at the local hospital.

Gordon goes a lot easier than we would on Shuler's recent grandstanding against the public option, hoping that gentle persuasion might work. Maybe so. Saddled as we are with the hopelessly callous Madam Foxx in the 5th, we could only long for the problems that a Blue Dog might give us.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Miniaturizing the Future 

The excerpt below was written by a Republican Party operative in Buncombe County about Republican prospects in the upcoming Asheville municipal elections. It was published on Scrutiny Hooligans, our favorite Asheville blog. It's an insider's analysis of the GOP's "branding" problems in the more urbanized areas of western North Carolina and might, in the short run, make its author unwelcome at Republican Party gatherings:
...the Buncombe County Republican Party has been characterized over the last several years more by its own infighting and proving itself relatively ineffective at get-out-the-vote efforts (GoTV). Although a recent influx of younger libertarians to the GOP are an exception, Republican activists are much older than their Democratic counterparts, and tend to consider party involvement more as a social outlet for its own sake rather than as a vehicle for political action. Republicans (social conservatives, particularly) also tend to be more isolated from the cultural life of downtown Asheville, many holding it in open contempt.

There is a virulent strain of isolationism and bigotry in the local Republican Party. The primary "issue" around which the base coalesces is a visceral fear of immigration, legal and otherwise and those fears are used for propaganda purposes by many Republican officials (though, arguably, it has largely backfired). Conservatives, especially, feel that their traditional way of life is threatened by what they see as an "invasion" by immigrants from the south and rapidly changing cultural mores regarding tolerance of homosexuality.

Republicans also lag far behind progressives in the effective utilization of modern technology, especially in the area of social networking tools. No comparable infrastructure exists in the GOP, and what efforts have been accomplished in terms of technology, it is more gloss than substance.

Since 2006, the local GOP has been crippled by intraparty ideological battles (between its social conservative and libertarian factions) and a recent spate of unviable candidates -- from the perennial to the polarizing to the incompetent. All this has had a marginalizing effect on moderate Republicans and has seriously hampered the Republican Party's local fundraising abilities.

The situation shows no signs of improving for the local GOP as the two factions have made peace, at least ostensibly. Ron Paul supporters, who several years ago planned to take over local Republican organizations, have been successful in Buncombe County, with the entire apparatus now controlled by them. Several self-annointed "principled" and socially conservative spokesmen for the local GOP continue to have a stranglehold on the dialogue, continuing to alienate and divide the party.

It should be noted that a grassroots effort has been undertaken in Buncombe County over the last few months under the auspices of the "Tea Party" movement, largely in protest of what they see as "socialist" bailouts, higher tax rates, and President Obama's expansion of government. While ostensibly "non-partisan," it has been largely a movement organized by local libertarians and Republicans and has tapped in to an undercurrent of Republican resentment at recent electoral defeat....

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Friday, June 05, 2009

The Pitfalls of Ambition 

We don't have a dog in that fight, but we had to wonder why 11th Dist. Congressman Heath Shuler waded so confidently into the rebellion in Sri Lanka. What little we know about that mess doesn't make us want to embrace the Sri Lankan government more, nor the rebel Tamil Tigers for that matter, but there was Heath congratulating the Sri Lankan government for defeating "terrorists," as though that would be the final word on the matter. And doing it on the Sri Lankans' dime, which looks so much like becoming a propaganda tool for hire.

Just on the face of it.

Now, according to the Citizen-Times, others a good deal more knowledgeable are saying Shuler was had.

The question remains: why did he dive into this murky pool in the first place? Scrutiny Hooligans in Asheville think he was trying to manufacture some "foreign relations credentials" so that he can seem weighty when he reverses himself and decides to run against Dick Burr for the U.S. Senate.

The only "weight" we see in this is the ham-fisted decision to rah-rah for a government with a lot of blood on its hands.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

NC Appeals Court Throws Out Buncombe County Zoning 

On a technicality. Amazing how 24 hours can become a gigantic clod in the churn.

Reaction from Asheville's Scrutiny Hooligans.

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