NC District 11 Hosts Candidates’ Town Halls

Hello District 11 Democrats, 

The North Carolina Democratic Party will host 8 Virtual Town Halls during the months of September and October. This includes a Supreme Court Town Hall specific to District 11 on October 15th at 7pm. 
 
Please attend our district’s town hall by signing up HERE.  Registration is required.
 
There will be statewide Council of State Town Halls over the next two months: 

If you would like to share any of these events on Facebook, you can see all of them here.

The NCDP is committed to supporting races up and down the ballot, and giving voters all the information they need to make informed decisions this November.

This is the most important election in modern history, and North Carolina voters are ready to put leaders on the Council of State and on the Supreme Court who will work for every day North Carolinians, not for special interests.

Thank you,
Kathy Sinclair, Chair
NC CD11 Democratic Party

Important Resources & Links:
1) NCDP Voter Resources: https://www.ncdp.org/voter-resources/
2) Ballot Ready: www.candidates.ncdp.org
3) Voter Protection Hotline: 1-833-868-3462
4) NCDP Events on Facebook: www.facebook.com/NCDemParty/events
5) NCDP Mobilize Events: https://www.mobilize.us/ncdems/
6) NCDP Vote The Whole Slate Virtual Gala: www.bit.ly/NCDPVirtualGala

 

Mark Meadows’ Old Seat IS STILL in Play!, by Penny Smith (June 27)

The unexpected primary victory of Madison Cawthorn brought national attention to North Carolina’s 11th congressional district for at least three reasons: Mr. Cawthorn is only 24 years of age; President Trump endorsed his opponent; and that opponent came in first in the original primary, usually a predictor of victory. Because the 11th District is the old seat of Mark Meadows, current White House Chief of Staff, national pundits have already anointed Mr. Cawthorn as heir apparent.

However, those of us who live in the 11th Congressional District don’t think Mr. Cawthorn’s ascension is a slam dunk. True, he has the support of a well-placed campaign manager, who was once Mike Pence’s Chief of Staff. True, he can anticipate considerable downstate and out-of-state money to fund his campaign. And, also true, Trump and Meadows will provide their support. In addition, Mr. Cawthorn has a compelling story of overcoming significant personal tragedy.

However, perhaps unknown to those pundits, things have changed since Mr. Meadows’ last election. First, the district lines have been redrawn to more accurately reflect the region. A giant swath of Buncombe County, containing the progressive city of Asheville, has been reincorporated within it, a consequence of a court review of GOP gerrymandering. Although the district elected Republican Charles Taylor to multiple terms with Asheville included, Heath Schuler, a dubious Democrat, but a Democrat all the same, held the seat for six years thereafter. Meadows’ rise coincided with the extreme gerrymandering.

Second, the number of more independent and socially liberal outsiders in the district has increased over time. Granted, some of those outsiders are wealthy Republican southerners seeking summer retirement relief in the mountains, but many of them are attracted to the outdoor opportunities of the region or the progressive vibe of Asheville. They tend to be environmentalists, rather than climate deniers. It is not an accident that the 11th district is home to several independent book stores, multiple community theatres, a vibrant music scene and many craft breweries.

Third, our current governor polled ahead of Hillary Clinton in the district and is again on the ticket in 2020. In addition, the most recent polls have Biden leading Trump statewide and Cal Cunningham ahead of Thom Tillis in the US Senate race. Their presence on the ballot is likely to persuade more independent voters to continue voting Democratic for other offices.

Fourth, Trump’s trendlines are all heading into negative territory. Even in North Carolina he is increasingly unpopular, as his positions are often contrary to those held by middle-roaders. For example, we have a significant Latinx presence in the 11th District, some of whom are undocumented and many of whom are DACA recipients. Those workers are important players in both our agriculture and construction industries; their work ethic is respected here. Trump has asked the Supreme Court to void the Affordable Care Act, yet that is the way many of our residents get health insurance. His performance during the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the service sector economy on which much of our region is dependent. My home county has seen three demonstrations in response to George Floyd’s murder, each one bigger than the last. That has happened in a very rural southern Appalachian county with fewer than 2% black residents; the demonstrations have been overwhelmingly white and, significantly, young.

Fifth, Trump himself is no longer a novelty. The con game he has run for the past several years will have to weather more attacks during the campaign. For example, both James Mattis and John Kelly, neither of whom could be considered a liberal, have recently criticized him. Both Michel Cohen, his former fixer, and Mary Trump, his niece, have tell-all books coming out in late summer. In his recently published book, John Bolton revealed that the President is both ignorant and selfish. Trump’s tendency to word salad non-responses, even to softball questions from friendly interviewers, no longer plays well with unaffiliated voters. His childish name-calling becomes more childish and less effective daily. His lies mount. His ineffectiveness is palpable. Toto has pulled back the curtain and found that the Wizard of Oz is a very small man, indeed. Our President’s behavior is unlikely to improve. Mr. Cawthorn is a Trumper and that will become more a liability with each day we move toward the November election. 

Sixth, we have a superior Democratic candidate running for Meadows’ old seat, who will provide both an ideological and experiential contrast to Mr. Cawthorn. Moe Davis is a 25-year veteran of the Air Force. He was the former Chief Prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay, where he refused to use evidence obtained through torture. He has appeared as an expert on national security on networks ranging from MSNBC to Fox; yes, that Fox. He knows what congressional representatives do, so he can hit the ground running. He has been endorsed by, among other organizations, VoteVets, the North Carolina Association of Educators, the AFL-CIO Western North Carolina Labor Council, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Equality NC and the Sierra Club. Unlike Heath Schuler, his policy positions are attuned to those held by the Democratic Party’s base. He is also gaining endorsements from local Republicans, like Bob Orr, who was a 2008 GOP candidate for Governor. Davis is articulate, personable, and responsive.

So, to those who have already written off North Carolina’s 11th Congressional district, you might want to pause your pen. We may be headed for a wave election and we Democrats in North Carolina’s 11th District have a good chance to be part of that wave.

NC District 11, Newsletter #09 (June 26)

A Message from CD11 Chair Kathy Sinclair

As we grieve through another wave of social injustice, and the inequities and disparities that African Americans experience every day of their lives, the North Carolina Democratic Party approved the passage of a platform that strongly embraces equal rights and civil liberties for all.  BLACK LIVES MATTER.  You can find the full text of the platform HERE.

We are heartened by the recent Supreme Court decisions regarding DACA and protections for the LGBTQ community in the workplace.  The BLACK LIVES MATTER protests, the worsening pandemic and a daily barrage of tweets remind us all how critical it is that we win in November.

Now that we know Madison Cawthorn will be Moe Davis’ rival for our congressional seat, let’s strengthen our focus and efforts on Moe Davis winning this race for all residents of Western North Carolina. We need all hands on deck to defeat Republicans up and down the ballot, so please volunteer with your county party today or contact us if you’d like ideas on how to get involved.

Real change requires policy change.  Our Democratic candidates embrace the Democratic platform and will introduce bills to create new policy.  Vote the entire Democratic slate and…

Don’t Forget the Judges!
(Blue lines are active links)
Judicial candidates running statewide are:

NORTH CAROLINA SUPREME COURT
Chief Justice Cheri Beasley :  

Cheri Beasley has served on the NC Supreme Court since 2012, and was named Chief Justice in March 2019.  Chief Justice Beasley was the first State Supreme Court Justice in the nation to speak out on how courts must do better when serving the African American community. Her full statement can be found HERE.

The Wall Street Journal highlighted Beasley’s statement, writing, “As demonstrations after George Floyd’s killing in police custody unfolded across the nation last week, the chief justice of North Carolina weighed in with her own declaration—the first in a wave of extraordinary statements by jurists around the country.” Within days, state supreme courts and chief justices around the country began to echo Chief Justice Beasley’s call, issuing their own statements on what they said was the judiciary’s role in perpetuating injustices and pledging to root out racial bias.”

Justice Mark Davis
Appointed March 2019 to fill the vacancy created when Cheri Beasley was appointed Chief Justice.

Judge Lucy Inman 
Currently serving on the NC Court of Appeals since 2014.

NORTH CAROLINA COURT OF APPEALS
Judge Chris Brook
Currently serving on the NC Court of Appeals since being appointed by Governor Cooper in May 2019.
Judge Lora Christine Cubbage
Currently serving as a Superior Court Judge since being appointed by Governor Cooper in October 2018.
Tricia Shields
A trial and appellate court lawyer, Tricia Shields has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America since 2003, and teaches Trial Advocacy at Campbell Law School.
Gray Styers 
Mr. Styers has practiced law for almost 3 decades in Raleigh and is recognized for his volunteer service in the legal profession.
Judge Reuben F. Young
Currently serving on the NC Court of Appeals since being appointed by Governor Cooper in April 2019.

Lorna Barnett Elected PLEO Delegate to the DNC for Joe Biden

Congratulations to CD11 Secretary, Lorna Barnett, who was elected at the NCDP State Convention to represent North Carolina as a Joe Biden delegate at the Democratic National Convention in August.  Lorna was elected in the Party Leader/Elected Official (PLEO) category.  We’re excited for Lorna and so pleased she’ll be joining the other delegates elected at the District Convention.

Mark Your Calendars
*note: Blue line is a clickable link..

Visit NC District 11 website events page to learn more about these exciting upcoming events.

  • Deborah Ross, Senator Valerie Foushee, Senator Kirk deViere, and other engaged supporters on June 29 6-7PM. Tickets Required
  • Jenna Wadsworth’s Rainbow Wave Reception. Join Vernetta Alston, Deb Butler, Kendra Johnson, Annise Parker, and Jenna Wadsworth on June 29 at 7PM

Special mention!!

  • NCDP and Chairman Goodwin are virtually headed to WNC North Carolina for a Rural NC Listening Tour with Wayne Goodwin for (Avery, Gaston, Lincoln, Catawba, Burke, Cleveland, Rutherford, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Henderson, Caldwell) Friday, July 3rd at 10:00AM – 11:15AM
  • NCDP and Chairman Goodwin are virtually headed to WNC North Carolina for a Rural NC Listening Tour with Wayne Goodwin for (Jackson, Macon, Clay, Haywood, Transylvania, Cherokee, Graham, Swain, Madison, Yancey) Friday, July 3, 2020   12:30 PM  1:30 PM
  • Moe Davis welcomes Diana McCall, Garden Manager at the Black Mountain Community Garden July 6, 12:20-1:30 p.m.
  • Moe Davis talks with Richard G. Sneed, Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians July 9, 7-8 p.m
  • Former White House Communications Director and Pod Save America co-host, Dan Pfeiffer, will be joining Ronnie Chatterji for a reception on July 13th  8-9PM
  • Brian Caskey for NC 48 Senate is hosting a fundraiser Golf Tournament  July 22 at noon.

Governor Cooper signs HB 1169
Last week, Gov. Roy Cooper signed a voting-related bill into law. This should help make voting safer and easier this fall, even if the pandemic conditions continue.
House Bill 1169 includes several changes to facilitate voting by absentee ballot. It also funds measures to reduce potential coronavirus spread during in-person voting. Among its provisions, the bill:

  • Reduces the absentee ballot witness requirement from two to one
  • Allows voters to submit an absentee ballot request form via email, online portal, fax, mail, or in person. (Prior to this bill, voters could submit an absentee ballot request form only by mail or in person.)
  • Gives counties greater flexibility in where they assign poll workers, better allowing them to address possible poll worker shortages at precincts
  • Allocates state matching funds to take advantage of federal CARES Act and HAVA money
  • Allocates funds to counties to prepare for elections amid COVID-19, including the purchasing of personal protective equipment for use at polling places and increasing recruitment and compensation of poll workers
  • Allocates funds for election security and continuity of operations in case of disaster

In his signing statement, Gov. Cooper said, “Making sure elections are safe and secure is more important than ever during this pandemic, and this funding is crucial to that effort. This legislation makes some other positive changes, but much more work is needed to ensure everyone’s right to vote is protected.”

Potential Funding Loss Due to Census Non-Response
Complete and accurate census information is very important to our community.  Census.nc.gov states “The data collected from the US Census helps determine political representation for our state and the amount of funding invested in our communities. Census data helps decide how more than $16 billion in federal funding gets used each year. By completing the 2020 Census, you will help:
  • Determine the number of representatives in Congress for North Carolina
  • Allocate federal funds in North Carolina
  • Establish the boundaries for voting and school districts
  • Provide information needed to improve schools, roads, health care, emergency response and other services in your community.”
Several District 11 counties are among those with the fewest completed census questionnaires in North Carolina. Complete your questionnaire today using one of the following methods:
  • Online by visiting my2020census.gov.
  • By phone by calling 1-800-923-8282. For information on language support, click here for a listing of telephone numbers.
  • Via mail

The NCDP State Convention went virtual this year
The 2020 NCDP first ever Virtual Convention went fairly well considering the challenges of internet connectivity across the state.  Congratulations and gratitude go to NCDP staff and our own Jeff Rose for setting it up.  Some highlights of the convention were the speaker and candidate videos.  You can watch the videos using the links below.  
Dr. Reverend Barber’s Remarks
Governor Roy Cooper
NC Supreme Court, Chief Justice Cheri Beasley
The Singing Teague Sisters
Marc & Anita Pruett
Vice President, Joe Biden
Cal Cunningham for U.S. Senate
Jessica Holmes for Commissioner of Labor
Yvonne L. Holley for Lieutenant Governor 
DNC Chair, Tom Perez
Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx
Ronnie Chatterji for NC Treasurer
NC Supreme Court Candidates

Convention Election Results
 
PLEO Delegates
At-Large Delegates

Counties are gearing up!
Now is the time when counties are getting busy gearing up to reach out to voters ahead of the 2020 election.  Due to the limitations caused by the pandemic several strategies are being used by the counties for GOTV efforts.  These include getting absentee ballot requests out to voters and following through to make sure they are successfully submitted.
https://www.ncsbe.gov/Voting-Options/Absentee-Voting#RequestingAbsenteeBallot.

Henderson County Democratic Party is pursuing a Get Out the Vote strategy by placing double faced signs reflecting Democratic Values on party members front yards (private property) that have high traffic exposure.  Please check zoning in county/city limits to see what is permissible and learn the rules regarding the size and content of the disclaimer on the signs.  Messaging targets the unaffiliated voter, women and potentially the moderate, educated, thoughtful Republican women fed up with Republican policies and politicians both nationally and locally.  Messages are designed to give any “fed-up” voter permission to vote BLUE.  Bob Hartsell welcomes any of you to use these messages if you feel they will work in your county.

  •    HEALTHCARE:  A FUNDAMENTAL NEED
  •    PROTECT OUR RURAL HOSPITALS
  •    VETS DESERVE QUALITY HEALTHCARE
  •    BETTER JOBS, BIGGER PAYCHECKS
  •    MAIN STREET, NOT WALL STREET
  •    CLEAN AIR & WATER FOR EVERY COMMUNITY
  •    INVEST IN CHILDREN FOR A BETTER FUTURE
  •    PROTECT THE MOST VULNERABLE
Buncombe County’s website is featuring absentee/mail-in ballots instructions and candidate videos from the state convention.  The HQ will be open with a limited plan on July 6.  Volunteers will be distributing yard signs and answering the phone.  Social distancing and sanitizing will be utilized. BCDP training has eight instructional videos on YouTube. Volunteers are also participating in phone banking targeting registered Democrats, and on the precinct level targeting unaffiliated voters.  BCDP conducted a candidate virtual town hall with Sec of State Elaine Marshall on June 4, NC Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley on June 10 and Justice Beasley, Justice Mark Davis, and Judge Lucy Inman on June 20. They will hold a District 48 and 49 Town Hall on July 16, and a Buncombe Legislative Delegation Town Hall on July 18.

 

MACON COUNTY OPENS ITS HEADQUARTERS IN FRANKLIN

Located in the heart of downtown Franklin at 143 Porter Street.  The office opened June 23.  “We want to thank our generous donors as well as the committee members who made this headquarters a reality for the Macon County Democratic Party,” said Gary St. Arnauld, Chair.  Volunteers are wearing face masks, maintaining 6 feet distancing and sanitizing surfaces. Visitors will be provided face masks.  Until we get the ‘green light’ from local and state officials, the number of volunteers and visitors in the headquarters will be limited. Office hours are posted at the county webiste.

As always we need to hear what you are doing.  Please communicate with us what is working for you.

2020 Convention Plan Updates     On June 24 the Associated Press published an article about the DNC’s plan to go virtual with the National Convention.  Read More.
Rock the Vote Signs
Be a part of helping District 11 Democrats raise money for our 2020 Get-Out-The-Vote Efforts. We have 4 exciting versions of 12″ x 12″ yard signs available for you to display and have your voice be heard during the COVID-19 era.

  •      EVERY VOTE COUNTS
  •      IT’S UP TO YOU, VOTE!
  •      WANT CHANGE? VOTE.
  •      YOUR VOTE, YOUR VOICE.

Each sign is $10 each, and available for pick-up or delivery (sorry, but shipping is not available).
 
Click here to order:  https://secure.actblue.com/donate/nc11yardsigns#

 

 

 

From 3VC: Comunications

The NC District 11 website is updated regularly.  County chairs are encouraged to have their 3rd VCs (or the person in charge of communications) get in touch to coordinate communication and planning.  Please visit your county page on the District 11 website(nc11democrats.org) and send any updates such as website URLs, FB, Twitter, Instagram addresses, postal and physical addresses, phone numbers and County officers names positions and contact email addresses (or phone).  Please also visit the state website,NCDP.org and make sure the NCDP3VC has the correct information for your county posted there.  I noted some inconsistencies so please check the state website listings.

Guidelines for posting information on the District 11 website, Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram are available upon request.  Please forward your suggestions to the email below and we will consider your input in revisions.
Candidate Events:  During the period from the NC primary until the general election in November Candidates may post events on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.   Please send detailed requests with pictures for addition to the District 11 Events Calendar.  Pictures with captions of events that have recently happened in our counties are also welcome.  Please try to get permission from people before taking photos.  It’s respectful.
Karen Albig Smith 3VC: Communications     karen@programservices.org

Look for our next newsletter in late June.

What I’m Reading – “Anne Applebaum” by Penny Smith (June 26)

I read an intriguing article in the latest issue of The Atlantic magazine (July/August, 2020): Anne Applebaum’s “Trump’s Enablers and the Judgment of History.” It’s an obvious preview of her forthcoming book, Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism.

Applebaum begins with a given. Donald Trump is a disaster as President, dangerous to us and to our form of government. She does not mince words: Trump has

… built a Cabinet and an administration that serve neither the public nor his voters but rather his own psychological need and the interests of his own friends on Wall Street and in business and, of course, his own family. His tax cuts disproportionately benefited the wealthy, not the working class. His shallow economic boom, engineered to ensure his reelection, was made possible by a vast budget deficit, on a scale Republicans once claimed to abhor, an enormous burden for future generations. He worked to dismantle the existing health care system … he fanned and encouraged xenophobia and racism. (p. 55)

But as awful as Trump may be in Applebaum’s view, she is focused on those people who have assisted him in his pursuit of discord and disunion, his collaborators. The answer she is pursuing is to this question: “What causes someone to go over to the dark side?” In other words, what makes them enablers of people and ideologies they once publicly condemned? In pursuit of that answer, she also looks at the people who decide not to collaborate, but to remain true to some abstract principles, like honesty. No surprise, Lindsay Graham comes in for criticism and Fiona Hill is a heroine.

Among her conclusions is a set of justifications for collaborating, a number of rationales for supporting the insupportable. They include:

“We can use this moment to achieve great things.” OK, he’s bad and many of the things he does are bad, but in all the chaos, we got those judges, right?

  • “We can protect the country from the president.” If I leave, then there will be no one here who can keep the really bad things from happening. This appears to have been the excuse used by people like John Kelly and James Mattis, but not only did they fail to keep those bad things from happening, they remain among the usually silent sideliners today and they’re gone, leaving in place someone without guardrails. Yes, I know Mattis penned a short essay criticizing Trump and Kelly agreed with him, but given the magnitude of the current disaster, is that enough?
  • “I, personally, will benefit.” As Applebaum points out, this is not a reason people articulate out loud. However, it is definitely true that people are using their alliances with Trump to enhance their power and wealth.
  • “I must remain close to power.” She places Lindsay Graham in this category. These folks are super-toadies.
  • “LOL, nothing matters.” Unfortunately, this seems to be the default position of too many Americans. They have become so cynical about their government that they equate the behavior of Republicans and Democrats; they claim they are equally bad. And, although both parties may have faults, as many scholars, including conservative ones, have documented, at the moment they are nowhere near equally bad.
  • “My side may be flawed, but the political opposition is much worse.” Of course, this is the route taken by the leaders of the French appeasement government in World War II, who welcomed Hitler into their country as an alternative to an alliance with French left-wingers. We saw how well that worked for them. And, the ever popular
  • “I am afraid to speak out.” This excuse might seem sensible if we lived in Stalin’s Russia; it seems like a cop-out in 21st-century America.

Trump is Trump and he’s not going to change. However, he would not still be in power had not good men and women opted to let him stay there. In this case, I’m using “good” in the sense that Mark Antony did, when he praised Brutus for the killing of Julius Caesar in Shakespeare’s play of the same name. After all, Lindsay Graham is a good man; Susan Collins is a good woman.

Moe Davis For Congress, Newsletter – April 27

Moe Talks Move To Zoom

To all those Facebook boycotters who keep asking us to hold our live events elsewhere, we hear you! We are moving our Moe Talks Virtual Town Hall to Zoom starting with today’s 12:30 p.m. session. Please use this link to register for the Monday Zoom sessions. And please use this link to register for the Thursday Zoom sessions.

And, for those who simply can’t live without Facebook, we’ve got you covered. We will be streaming the Zoom event on Facebook Live as well. Best of both worlds!

You can still send questions to info@moedavis.com, and also submit questions during the Zoom sessions and on Facebook Live.

Join us and learn why Moe Davis is the only choice for Congress in North Carolina’s 11th District.

The Butcher’s Bill

We had a grim reminder on Friday of the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic as we reached a milestone in our failed national response.

According to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center, which is tracking the spread of the worldwide pandemic, the United States passed the 50,000 mark in deaths from the virus on Friday. It reached 55,000 over the weekend — far more than any other country in the world.

It wasn’t long ago that the president brushed off the potential death toll. Remember when he said on Feb. 26, when we had 58 confirmed cases in the U.S., “when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.”

This despite repeated warnings from his own administration that we were facing a much more dire future.

He didn’t act on those warnings. And two months later, we now know how tragically the federal response was botched. How the administration failed to institute more vigorous testing early on to track and isolate the virus. How it failed to take control of the supply chain so that ventilators and personal protection equipment were managed nationally and equitably.

How it failed to issue stay-home orders quickly and on a national basis, leaving states to act disjointedly. Every one of those decisions has cost lives. It’s 55,000 and counting.

We cannot take four more years of his failed leadership. We cannot vote for followers, like Republican runoff candidates Madison Cawthorn and Lynda Bennett, who will continue to blindly support that failed leadership.

Pass it on. Spread the word. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper and explain why you support Moe Davis for Congress in the 11th District.

Planned Parenthood Action Fund Endorses Moe Davis

Planned Parenthood Action Fund, which works to protect the rights of women to have access to vital reproductive healthcare and sex education, has endorsed Moe Davis for Congress in the 11th District.

“People need to know their elected officials are looking out for them, especially during a public health crisis like we’re experiencing now,’’ Alexis McGill Johnson, Planned Parenthood Action Fund acting president, said in a statement. “It’s more important than ever that we have reproductive health champions in Congress fighting back against Donald Trump and leadership in the Senate who are actively working to undermine our health care and leaving us woefully unprepared to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Moe Davis has long supported a woman’s right to control her own body.

“Planned Parenthood has been a champion of reproductive healthcare for over a century and has provided essential healthcare services to millions of Americans from all walks of life,’’ Moe Davis said. “I’m grateful they have endorsed my campaign. I believe all individuals have the right to make their own healthcare choices and I believe all individuals have the right to healthcare. Neither one should be dependent on economic status.”

Planned Parenthood joins the Sierra Club, VoteVets, AFL-CIO Western North Carolina Central Labor Council, Equality NC and Patriotic Millionaires in endorsing Moe Davis.

Moms Demand Action Names Moe Davis Candidate Of Distinction 

Moms Demand Action, the country’s largest grassroots volunteer network working to end gun violence in America, has chosen Moe Davis as a Gun Sense Candidate of distinction. The recognition is a “signal to supporters, volunteers and voters that a candidate stands for gun violence prevention and will govern with gun safety in mind.”

“I grew up hunting, spent a career in the military and I’m a multi-gun owner,’’ Moe Davis said. “The Republicans use propaganda to mislead and incite their base with their fake claim that ‘the Democrats will take away your guns!’ I am a Democrat and a gun owner. I’m not running to take away guns, but I do want to make it clear that ‘guns’ and ‘sense’ are not mutually exclusive terms. While the Republicans want to stoke rage by fanning a fake claim, I believe I stand with the majority of gun owners who are both rational and responsible.”

Moe Davis supports mandatory universal background checks and red flag laws. He also supports more stringent requirements to purchase military-style assault weapons, modeled on North Carolina’s concealed-carry permit requirements, and strict civil liability if a firearm that is not properly stored and secured is used in the commission of a crime.

Moe Merchandise

Would you like a yard sign for your lawn or personal business? How about a magnetic bumper sticker? Email YardSign@moedavis.com to order one or both. We will fill those orders as soon as we can.

We are also considering making merchandise available for sale. Would you be interested in t-shirts, hats, buttons or other items? Let us know and we will look into adding it to our inventory.

Please Apply For Absentee Ballot   

*(See under “Legislative Watch” on this Website.  Click either “Voting Information” or “Candidates & Resources” to get links for Registering & Absentee Ballot)

Given the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic and how it could impact voting in November, we are urging everyone in the 11th District to apply to vote by absentee ballot. You can go to this link for an application, which can be submitted now.

Voters have until Oct. 27 to request an absentee ballot, but we would recommend it be submitted well in advance so that the State Board of Elections isn’t inundated at the last minute and there isn’t any delay in getting the ballot back in time.

Reminder, you don’t have to vote by absentee ballot if you apply. But it is a great back-up if there are any disruptions and a reduction in polling locations due to the pandemic.

And If You Can…

We know that times are tough for lots of folks all over right now. But if your situation allows it, a donation to help with the campaign would be most appreciated. You can make a donation online by clicking this link, or mail a check made out to Moe Davis for Congress, PO Box 18584, Asheville, NC 28814. Thanks so much for your support! 

Stay home. Stay safe.

Mountain Strong

Can You Believe It? Penny Smith – April 19

REOPEN NC is a Facebook Group created on April 7. As of the morning of April 18 it had received nearly 3,000 likes and claimed 33,521 members. I first encountered it while reading The Daily Beast online. According to their group description, they: “are residents of North Carolina that stand for The Constitution and demand our officials Reopen NC no later than April 29, 2020 … The shutdown is not warranted, nor sustainable for our area. The vulnerable can be isolated or protected in other ways, without sacrificing our entire state economy. It’s important to note, several other states have not enacted stay at home orders.”

Megan Kendall is the individual who put up the site. To her credit and that of the site’s administrators, there are some ground rules for posting that include: “Be Kind and Courteous;” “No Hate Speech or Bullying;” “No Promotions or Spam;” and “Respect Everyone’s Privacy.” Politeness, however, is not an excuse for promoting actions that may kill someone.

Yesterday they made national news with a Reopen NC Rally in Raleigh, when approximately 100 people gathered to protest stay-at-home orders. At least one protester was arrested after refusing to obey police requests to refrain from assembling for what was deemed a “non-essential activity.”

Apparently the group is going to model the behavior of Moral Monday protests. They plan to show up in Raleigh on Tuesdays to object to the current stay-at-home, social distancing restrictions. They have also incited a number of opponents to found an opposition Facebook page, Stay Home NC, but that’s another story.

I suspect we will begin to see more of these groups around the United States as social distancing guidelines remain in effect and as the economic toll on small businesses increase. Although some of these protests originate with people who are already on the fringe (Ashley Smith of Morganton, one of the site administrators, has used social media to advance her opposition to vaccinations), they bring into play a set of individuals who were outside the Tea Party phenomenon of the Obama era. We all know how badly that movement played out, both for our state and the nation.

One can reasonably argue Tea Party grievances were grounded in xenophobia, racism and/or mounting tensions fueled by growing economic inequality and the inauguration of an African-American President. However, the pandemic economic woes are more immediate, more obvious, and more likely to hit a broader swath of the population. And they don’t have an easy villain to blame, although our President is slowly rolling out a number of options: the World Health Organization; Democrats and Democratic governors; China; immigrants, who brought in the virus and are spreading it; scientists and health experts; and Fake News, who hyped a flu outbreak into a pandemic. So, individuals who were not attracted to the Tea Party might make common cause with something like REOPEN NC when they can’t pay the rent for their shop.

Economies like ours are dependent on small businesses and, to a significant extent, tourism. Closing shops, most of whose owners do not have a comfortable cash reserve nor a bevy of lawyers to ensure they get immediate assistance from government programs, causes palpable pain. And to have them closed and travel-restricted during the coming months of high tourist season means they are unlikely to earn the money necessary to keep them alive in the leaner winter months. Combine that with the loss of the WCU and SCC student populations and we’ve got a real likelihood of local economic disaster.

The popping up of REOPEN NC reaffirms our ideological divisiveness, particularly as it relates to suspicion of government in any form. Yet, if the pandemic has proven anything, it is that there are some situations which require, for quick and effective responses, capable government action. Certainly that is not what the United States got with regard to our current situation and it is reaping the effects of likely millions of undetected coronavirus carriers abroad in the land. Many Americans prefer libertarian individualism, except when they don’t – think Social Security, good roads, clean air, all of which require a collaborative effort. Hyper-individualism does not build bridges, find vaccines, nor favorably regard a desire to promote “the general welfare.”

What that means for us is that we need to be particularly sensitive to the economic toll the pandemic has, is and will take on our local businesses. We need to be prepared to support them when they reopen and to work toward local, state and national remedies that help make them whole. 

We need to persuade voters that if we want to rebuild our country they need to turn to Democrats (note FDR after Hoover and Obama after Bush). There was never a Trump Prosperity, but only an extension of the Obama economy, until, suddenly there wasn’t. And that happened on Trump’s watch, although there is plenty of evidence that he wasn’t doing much serious watching early on. And we need to do that while affirming the wisdom of science. North Carolina’s COVID-19 spread has not been as severe as that of other states precisely because of the swift action of our Governor and the overwhelming positive response of citizens who are practicing social distancing guidelines.

Joe Sam Queen – Raleigh Report, February 28

Joe Sam Queen, North Carolina General Assembly

Rep. Joe Sam Queen | 16 W. Jones St. Room #1002, Raleigh, NC 27601-1096

Democracy Day at Western Carolina University

I enjoyed being included in Western Carolina University’s Democracy Day, where I got to meet one on one with many of the college’s student leaders and activists. I joined advocates like College Democrats, Down Home and Democracy Now to encourage students to be politically informed and active. Hundreds of students had a great opportunity to talk with candidates or their campaigns; congressional, legislative, judicial, council of state and presidential candidates were all present. All were encouraged to register and vote. To close out the event everyone “strolled to the polls” in the Student Union to do just that.

Pancake Day

Pancake Day is always great. I joined Pastor Keith Turman on the serving line where First United Methodist Church of Waynesville offered Christian hospitality to the entire community, serving free pancakes and fixings to well over 3,000 friends and neighbors. What a Great Day.

Welcoming Dr. Shelley to Haywood Community College

I was pleased to join the entire community in a welcoming reception for Dr. Shelley White, our new Haywood Community College President. Here I join Dr. White along with Waynesville’s Fire Chief, Joey Webb, David Onder, HCC’s Director of Institutional Excellence, Research and Grants and Lee White, the husband of our new President for a commemorative photo. I assured Dr. White that I was a solid supporter of Community Colleges, especially during the current struggle to appropriately fund faculty and staff.

Visiting Chancellor Cable at University of North Carolina, Asheville

Chancellor Nancy Cable had a delightful open house at the Chancellor’s Residence on UNC Asheville’s campus. I was honored to be included. I assured the Chancellor of my appreciation of and support for North Carolina’s University System and was very impressed with her vision for UNCA.

Haywood Chamber of Commerce

Haywood, Jackson, and Swain Counties all have wonderful Chambers of Commerce. This month I met twice with Haywood’s, first for their Annual Elected Officials’ Reception, where I had a great visit with Ronnie Clark, a Haywood County School Board member and his wife. I assured him I was working hard with our Governor to improve teacher pay and to offer a true School Bond to assist local school boards in meeting their infrastructure needs.

I also participated in the the Haywood Chamber of Commerce’s Inter-Governmental Round Table, where we focus on improving the business environment, expanding capacity and access to healthcare and raising NC teacher pay to the national average. Increasing the pay for our Universities and Community Colleges was also a priority because they play the key role in workforce development. Rounding out our priorities was the incredible need for better Broadband all across Western North Carolina. I assured the group these were my prioritizes as well and I would be working for all of them.

Waynesville Supports Medicaid Expansion

I was given the opportunity to speak at the Town of Waynesville’s Medicaid Expansion Hearing this month. I took the opportunity to emphasize how important it is to stop the waste of $4 billion annually of our tax dollars that should be providing affordable healthcare and creating jobs in our community. Expanding Medicaid will not only help more people get access to affordable health care, it will promote economic development and job creation. Expansion would also lower all health care insurance rates for every North Carolinian by 7% to 11% by covering the uncompensated care that is currently being absorbed in their rates. That’s Real Money in Everybody’s Pocket!  For more information check out the Mountaineer.

Here are the numbers of jobs created, people covered and the local economic impact for our district if we Expand Medicaid

That’s 394 more jobs, 7,824 more hard working neighbors with healthcare coverage, $60.6 million in local economic growth and over $10 million more in new county tax revenue, taking the pressure off of property taxes. All of this for no, ZERO, new tax dollars on our part.

And we would save dozens of lives here in Haywood, Jackson and Swain, lives now being lost because this Legislature is denying the healthcare we have already paid for.

It’s time, it’s past time to Expand Medicaid.

How Democrats Can Win Obama-Trump Defectors

In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s 2016 election victory, analysts fiercely debated the role of the approximately six million voters who supported President Barack Obama in 2012 but shifted their support to Mr. Trump in 2016. Democratic strategists also had to worry about their future behavior: Was 2016 a temporary blip or were these voters gone forever? With newly available data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study survey, the largest publicly-available election survey, we can now analyze what happened with these Obama-Trump voters in 2018 and what that might portend for Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign.

To understand the potential ramifications of Obama-Trump voters in 2020, it’s worth understanding how they voted in 2018. Among those who voted, three-quarters stuck with the Republican Party. But Democrats did win back about one-fifth of the Obama-Trump group in 2018, which would amount to a net swing of about 1.5 million votes. While the idiosyncratic governing style of Mr. Trump may have been one key factor in bringing Obama-Trump voters back into the Democratic fold, it wasn’t the only reason. It’s true that most Obama-Trump voters who stuck with the Republican Party in 2018 strongly approved of the job Mr. Trump was doing as president, but interestingly even half of those who flipped back to the Democratic side at least somewhat approved of Mr. Trump. Democrats won back a significant share of Obama-Trump voters not because those voters disliked Mr. Trump, but in spite of the fact that many actually approved of him.

Instead, these voters appeared to be drawn back toward the Democrats by some of the party’s bread-and butter-issues, and in spite of others. On issues like gun control, health care and the environment, these voters look remarkably like the Democratic Party’s base — those who voted for Obama in 2012, Hillary Clinton in 2016 and a Democratic House candidate in 2018. Eighty-four percent of Obama-Trump voters who voted for Democratic House candidates in 2018 want to ban assault rifles, compared to 92 percent of the Democratic base. By contrast, 57 percent of Obama-Trump voters who stayed with Republicans in 2018 support an assault weapons ban (which has far less support among the Republican base).

Medicare for all is surprisingly popular among all Obama-Trump voters, but especially those who voted for Democrats in 2018. Eighty-three percent of those who switched back to the Democratic Party in 2018 support Medicare for all, nearly as high as the 93 percent support the policy achieves among the most solidly blue Democratic voting bloc.

These patterns show that Democrats can win back Obama-Trump voters by focusing on issues that also appeal to their base. Another such issue is climate change. Seventy-three percent of Obama-Trump voters who came back to the Democratic Party in 2018 oppose the president’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement; among those who stayed with the Republican Party in 2018, 74 percent support that decision.

Notably, the Obama-Trump voters who returned to the Democratic Party in 2018 look less like the Democratic Party base in other ways. A majority support building a border wall and Mr. Trump’s ban on immigration from predominantly Muslim countries. At the same time, two-thirds of these voters support Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which allows undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children to receive deferred action on deportation.

They also have less progressive attitudes when it comes to race and gender. For example, less than half of these voters agree that whites have advantages because of the color of their skin, and an even smaller share think that feminists are making reasonable demands of men. These are your classic cross-pressured voters, aligned with Democrats on many policies that are part of the progressive wish list but likely to be turned off by the party’s rhetoric on identity politics.

Coaxing Rogue Obama Voters to Go Democratic Again

Obama-Trump voters who supported Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections could be a key bloc in the presidential election. Here is how they responded to 7 survey questions.

By The New York Times | Source: analysis of the 2018 Cooperative Congressional Election Study by Brian Schaffner and Sean McElwee

Of course, another important group that will play a role in the 2020 election are the 2012 Obama voters who did not vote in 2016, the missing Obama millions. In 2018, Democrats regained some support among this group as well. About one-third turned out for the 2018 election, and Democrats won them 4 to 1. These voters looks much more like the Obama base than the Obama-Trump voters who supported Democrats in 2018. These remobilized Obama-nonvoters not only share similar views with the Democratic Party’s base on health care, gun control and the environment, but they also have similar views on immigration and share progressive views on race and gender relations.

Half of the remobilized Obama-nonvoters are people of color and more than 70 percent are women. Unlike the Obama-Trump voters who supported Democrats in 2018, the Obama-nonvoters appear to have been remobilized by their dislike of Trump — more than 80 percent reported that they strongly disapproved of the job he was doing as president. Strong disapproval of Mr. Trump was a strong predictor of Obama-nonvoters coming back into the electorate to vote for Democrats in 2018.

The story of Democratic success in winning back the House in 2018 seems to be driven by two patterns — the ability to win back some cross-pressured members of the Obama coalition who voted for Trump in 2016, while also remobilizing former Obama voters who failed to show up at the polls two years earlier. Progressive economic and climate views unite these two coalitions, while the groups are more divided when it comes to racial justice and gender equity. Both Obama-nonvoter-Democrats (92 percent) and Obama-Trump-Democrats (88 percent) support a $12 minimum wage and a millionaire’s tax (92 percent and 79 percent).

Following the 2016 presidential election, the Wesleyan Media Project reported that Mrs. Clinton’s campaign aired fewer issue-based ads than any other presidential candidate since they started collecting the data in 2000. Perhaps Democrats learned a lesson from 2016: In 2018 the Wesleyan researchers found that Democratic campaign ads were “laser focused” on issues, especially health care, which was the focus of more than half of the advertisements run by Democratic candidates. Our data suggests that this approach helped bring many Obama-Trump voters back into the Democratic column while also remobilizing many Obama voters to turn out and vote Democratic again in the midterm election.

Though there is a temptation to focus on Mr. Trump’s personality, if Democrats continue to learn from these elections, they will focus this year’s campaign on their plans to address issues like health care, wages and the environment, lest the Obama-Trump voters become Obama-Trump-Trump voters in 2020.

Sean McElwee (@SeanMcElwee) is the executive director of Data for Progress. Brian F. Schaffner (@b_schaffner) is a political scientist at Tufts.

Let Us Now Praise Doug Stephens, by Penny Smith. 11/26/2019

One of the most influential books in my former life as a potential historian was James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. Published in 1941 with multiple accompanying photographs by Walker Evans, it documented the devastation of our Depression by focusing on the lives of specific impoverished people. Although the book didn’t sell well initially, it inspired an Aaron Copeland opera (The Tender Land), reinforced a mode of people-focused reporting that came out of the WPA (note Eudora Welty’s WPA photographs of the 1930s in Mississippi), and has gone on to be a basic text for students of American history.

I first encountered Let Us Now Praise Famous Men in the early 1970s and have returned to it several times, partially for the poetry of Agee’s writing. The title comes from Ecclesiasticus, also known as the Book of Sirach, in a section called “a hymn in honor of our ancestors.” To me then and now Agee’s title held at least two meanings: that the stories of these people were due our attention and praise simply because of their perseverance and dignity, but also that the historically “famous men” of their times, the politicians and plutocrats, had tragically failed these people and deserved no praise at all. 

Today (November 15, 2019) the LA Times featured a story about a young government lawyer named Doug Stephens, who is in the midst of ending his public service career. What did he do? He has refused to implement the Trump Administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). Tasked with conducting interviews with asylum seekers who fall under the Remain in Mexico policy, he refused, after two days, to continue his assignment. In Stephens’ words: “I think they’re illegal. They’re definitely immoral. And I’m not doing them.”

Traditionally, asylum seekers have been permitted to remain in the United States until their hearings. MPP forces them back into Mexico to await those hearings, back into areas of Mexico that are fraught with gang violence. Why, you may ask, would our government do such a thing? Homeland Security admits it’s to discourage asylum seekers from coming here at all.

What Stephens encountered in his interviews was statement after statement of fear on the part of these people, often women and young children, if they were forced back south. There is ample evidence to support that fear. As Stephens said, we’re “literally sending people back to be raped and killed. That’s what this is.”

Stephens may be the first asylum official to refuse to carry out his duty. There are reports of other asylum officers calling in sick, taking early retirement or leaving the service, but Stephens’ disobedience has forced his employers, our government, to initiate disciplinary action. I have long thought that much of the better parts of our history have been written by people who refused to follow orders they considered contrary to our national interest and law.

Take for example, Rosa Parks, who refused to go to the back of the bus. Or the men and women who refused to testify before McCarthy’s committee and faced severe economic consequences. Or the young students who went below the Mason-Dixon Line to disobey Jim Crow laws, many of whom were beaten and some of whom were killed. Or a Virginia couple, the Lovings, who only wanted to cement their interracial love with a marriage. Yes, there was a time, a very recent time, when the government could tell you which consenting adults you could not marry.

We have a long history of Americans who have refused obedience to laws they considered contrary to our Constitution and who have been willing to lose jobs or go to jail for those beliefs. Were not courageous men and women around to commit such legal outrages, we would be in danger of the national failure in courage that afflicted many of the Axis Powers in World War II. As soldiers marched men, women and children onto trains bound for Auschwitz, they claimed they were “only following orders.” They were “simply obeying the law.”

It’s not easy to stand up, often as a lonely individual, to centuries of immoral tradition backed by dubious laws. And it’s definitely not easy, particularly if one has family obligations, to risk economic and personal safety in doing so.

Today was also the second day of the House impeachment hearings. One name mentioned during testimony in those hearings was Kateryna Handziuk. She was a Ukrainian activist who worked against corruption in her home country and for finding ways to help children whose lives had been disrupted by war. For her efforts, she was the victim of a consciously cruel acid attack, which ultimately took her life. And why an acid attack? Because it was so gruesome an event it would serve as a warning to others who might be inclined to end corruption, to speak truth to power, to assist the disadvantaged. 

At our embassy on the very day in Kiev when we was honoring Handziuk with a posthumous award for courage, the final stages of the removal of today’s impeachment witness from her post as American Ambassador to that country were playing out. Marie Yovanovitch, today in the midst of her testimony, was condemned by our President in what was but one of several verbal attacks he has made on her without any supporting evidence. But it was not to Yovanovitch alone that he was tweeting. No, he had in mind anyone who came after her, anyone who might come forward, anyone in Congress who might decide that maybe there was something to all these accusations after all.

In addition to following President Trump’s advice and “reading the transcript,” I suggest our President and all of us also read Yovanovich’s opening statement. Its eloquence, patriotism, restraint and reason are worth the time. One of those two individuals has a history of lying; the other does not. One has a history of bullying; the other, a history of diplomacy.

I praise both Stephens and Yovanovich today; they reflect the best of what makes America work. However, in the second sense of Agee’s book title, I ironically praise members of Congress for their lack of courage, their willingness to “follow orders,” to stay on “talking points,” to turn their backs on obvious facts. We survive as a nation on the backs of those Oakies who worked their way to California, who endured. We survive on the backs of people who stand up for our common humanity, for decency, for an end to corrupt practices, an end to injustice. We begin the end of our American Experiment when such people are silenced, shouted down, slandered, and smeared.

We do, indeed, live in interesting times. I hope we are up to the task.

Impeachment 103, by Penny Smith 11/26/2019

This is the third in a series of observations about the current impeachment hearings against Donald Trump. You can find the others at this site (see Impeachment 101 and Impeachment 102).

What do the Democrats say the President did wrong?

At the moment there are no formal charges against the President. The House of Representatives is looking into whether conduct related to Ukraine and arms sales could constitute an impeachment recommendation.

Specifically, the House is investigating whether the President of the United States directed subordinates to pressure the new leader of Ukraine to issue a statement saying he and his country’s judicial establishment are investigating (1) Hunter Biden’s involvement with Burisma (Hunter Biden was on their Board of Directors) and (2) Joe Biden’s involvement in promoting corruption within Ukraine while he was Vice President. 

More specifically, the President contends that the Clinton campaign hacked its own computers using servers in Ukraine, thereby “proving” that the Russians had nothing to do with the election of 2016. In other words, it was the Democrats who were behind seeking aid from foreign powers and not Trump or any of his friends.

The pressure that was applied, according to the Democrats, was the withholding of already approved financial aid (money to purchase weapons) and a visit to the White House until the Ukrainians released a satisfactory declaration about Burisma, Bidens, and corruption.

Almost as soon as an investigation was initiated as a result of the whistleblower’s report becoming public that aid flowed – but barely four days before it would have run up against a time deadline.

What’s the Republican response to the process and potential charges?

Republicans have been dealt a pretty bad fact hand. So, they have resorted primarily to slandering witnesses and complaining about the process.

Among their objections:

  • most of these witnesses are “Anti-Trumpers.” That’s incorrect. Most of these witnesses are Trump or his administration’s appointees. Or they are career public service employees who have a responsibility to maintain political neutrality. The GOP has not produced one ounce of evidence that they are politically biased.
  • all of the evidence is hearsay. That’s incorrect. Some of the evidence is hearsay and some of it relies on first-person “I was there” accounts. What the GOP is not telling you is that hearsay evidence is sometimes all you can obtain, but is sufficient for informed inferences. Another thing the GOP is not telling you is that there is plenty of first source evidence, but the President and his cronies have blocked access to it or to the people who witnessed something directly. What the law often does is construe that concealed evidence is usually “Yes, I did it” evidence. In other words, if going directly to Pompeo or Bolton or Perry or any number of other people with firsthand knowledge of events would demonstrate definitively that nothing happened, then why aren’t they talking under oath?
  • there’s no quid pro quo. That’s incorrect. There’s plenty of evidence to indicate that Trump wanted something of value for his personal use (a declaration of an investigation of Joe Biden and his son) and that he would have gotten it if the entire scheme were not uncovered.
  • well, the Ukrainians got their aid eventually, so no harm, no foul, no real reason for impeachment. That’s incorrect. True, they did get their aid eventually, but their position vis-à-vis Russia has been compromised and our role as an honest broker has also been compromised. Moreover, you don’t have to succeed at a crime for it to be a crime – what, after all, is attempted robbery or attempted murder or, in this case, attempted bribery?
  • well, it’s not really all that big a deal when you get down to it. It doesn’t rise to the level of an impeachable offense. That’s incorrect and a gross example of hypocrisy, since the GOP impeached Clinton for lying about what was an insignificant, in terms of national interest, embarrassing affair. This is a matter of national security – we jeopardized an ally and fledgling democracy so our President could get some personal campaign information. We also diminished our standing internationally, assisted Putin, and harmed Ukraine in a number of ways. Much of the evidence points to attempts by the President and his friends to blame someone other than Russia for interfering in our 2016 elections – one of the many errands of Rudy Giuliani.
  • the witnesses are all rogue actors or bad people. That’s incorrect. Indeed, if we were doing a character scan of the witnesses and the President and his defenders, it would not even be close.
  • there is no due process in the proceedings; it’s a coup, an attempt to overturn an election. That’s partially true, since impeachment by its very nature overturns the result of an election. However, it was the checks and balances safety mechanism that our founders put into place for situations like this one. We should be applauding its existence rather than condemning it.
  • well, none of this is as bad as the corruption of Vice President Biden and his son in Ukraine. That’s incorrect. First of all, whatever the Bidens might have done, it’s irrelevant to the matter at hand. In other words, it doesn’t excuse bribery by our President. However, everyone who has objectively looked into such accusations affirms that Biden, in his official capacity, did nothing untoward; rather he worked to advance the goals of our national agenda. 

Burisma, the company on whose Board of Directors Hunter Biden sat, probably was involved in some corrupt practices, but they were not due to Biden’s position or influence. Yet there is ample evidence that both Energy Secretary Perry and Rudy Giuliani were engaged in influencing, perhaps unethically, business within and among energy companies in Ukraine.

  • Trump was justifiably interested in the potential of a nation with a history of corruption misusing the dollars of hard-working American tax payers and he wanted to make sure that wouldn’t happen. That’s incorrect. If it were true, Trump would also be trying to remove Saudi Arabia corruption and wrong-doing before selling them arms and he hasn’t. Additionally, Ukraine had already been cleared through the normal channels of investigation for the release of the money. In other words, they had already demonstrated that they were working to reduce corruption and it was unlikely to be part of the arms deal.
  • Ukraine actively worked against the Trump election and some Ukrainians said bad things about him. That’s partially true. Some Ukrainians did say bad things about him, probably because he declared that it was fine with him if Russia kept Crimea and that Crimea really belonged to Russia anyway. That’s a little like saying that, should Mexico invade and take part of Texas, it would be understandable, since it was once part of Mexico anyway. And those individuals were speaking as individuals, not on behalf of the Ukrainian government. In addition, many individuals in many countries said unpleasant things about Trump during the election and he hasn’t set off on a vendetta against them.
  • other nations aren’t helping Ukraine or paying their fair share and President Trump is only trying to ensure that Americans aren’t played for suckers. That’s false. Other allies are supporting the Ukrainian government in its fight with Russia.
  • the Ukrainian President hasn’t complained about the bribe and says he felt no pressure from President Trump to investigate the Bidens. That’s probably false. It is true that he has said he didn’t feel pressured, but what else could he say and have a chance at getting the support he needs for his country? After all, Trump may be President for up to five more years. And, it doesn’t really matter what he says; Trump still tried to make the deal and attempted extortion is still a crime.

What do we know so far?

This is a partial summary of what we know now:

  • Trump obstructed justice in plain sight by refusing to cooperate with the Ukrainian inquiry and refusing to respond to Congressional subpoenas.
  • Trump obstructed justice multiple times during the Mueller investigation and those incidents are plainly outlined in the Mueller Report.
  • Trump threatened witnesses, again in plain sight, by demonstrating the tweet storms and trolls he will inflict on them if they appear, even under subpoena, at the hearings (witness tampering is a serious crime). Note, for example, his attacks on the former ambassador of Ukraine.
  • Trump tried to trade a visit to the White House and release of already appropriated money for a personal favor – a televised announcement of an investigation into the Bidens. At the time Joe Biden appeared to be the odds-on favorite as Democratic candidate for President and Trump wanted to begin to sully his reputation. In other words he was willing to sacrifice what was in our national interest: standing up to Russian aggression and supporting an ally. 
  • Trump engaged with his co-conspirators to cover up many of his dubious actions; that is obstruction of justice.
  • Trump has said publicly that he would accept aid from a foreign government in his re-election campaign, asked Russia to help in 2016 and invited China to help later. It is against the law to request aid from foreign countries in American elections. (Trump has said he “was only kidding.”)
  • Trump has enriched himself while in the office of President; in other words, he has run afoul of the emoluments clause of the Constitution. Trump has spent nearly one-third of his time as President visiting his own properties and, with each visit, our tax dollars go to the family business. As of October 22, 2019, he had been in office 1,037 days, spent 313 of those in residence at a Trump property and 237 more days playing golf at one of his properties. 

An example of the cost of such trips is that the four he made to Mar-a-Lago from February 3 – March 5, 2017 cost approximately $13.6 million. One can also make a good case that Trump’s insistence on Vice President Pence’s stay at one of his European properties while on an official visit, the publicity that flows from any official use of his properties, the multiple rentals at his Washington DC and New York City properties by foreign governments, and the proximity of his business stakeholders (his children) to the Oval Office all constitute clear conflicts of interest.

  • Trump probably broke multiple campaign laws, including payment to a porn star with whom he had a brief fling, in the run-up to the 2016 election. He is likely Individual 1; Michael Cohen went to jail for carrying out Individual 1’s directions.
  • Trump’s actions outlined above are all substantially proven and many of them individually constitute grounds for impeachment. Taken as a whole, they make impeachment imperative – Trump has shown time and again he is willing to trade what’s in our national interest for what’s in the Trump family’s interest. There are other things that flow from Trump behaviors, such as his chronic lying, hyperbole and slander that I personally think should be considered impeachable. For example:
  1. he lowered our standing in the world; no country knows whether they can believe what we say anymore;
  2. he diminished trust in our government and federal institutions, thereby jeopardizing our democracy;
  3. he demeaned his office by engaging in conduct that is unbecoming of a commander in chief and that would have gotten him drummed out of the military had he engaged in such actions as an ordinary member of the armed services;
  4. he promoted racist, xenophobic and misogynist violence through his tweets, his public statements and his rallies;
  5. he collapsed the morale in our national intelligence and foreign services, making us much more vulnerable to foreign cyber attacks (many high level people have left the service rather than work under political hacks);
  6. he has expanded and deepened “the swamp,” not drained it; 
  7. he banished science from policy consideration, thereby allowing regulation interpretations at odds with reality;
  8. he ran afoul of international norms for armed conflict in such actions as pardoning convicted war criminals;
  9. he weakened many of the international agreements forged in the wake of the second world war, again making us more vulnerable to foreign attack and other countries more likely to resort to armed confrontation rather than diplomacy;
  10. he demonstrated that we are an untrustworthy ally (note Kurd withdrawal);
  11. he spread false conspiracy theories, furthering the ideological and political divides in our country;
  12. he engaged in nepotism and allowed access to secret documents to individuals whose behaviors raised questions about whether they qualified for such security clearances;
  13. he promoted unconscionable acts, often contrary to international norms, such as the treatment of asylum seekers and children at our southern borders;
  14. he threatened the freedom of our press and parroted language about the media that could have come out of George Orwell’s 1984; and
  15. on the grandest stage in the world, he behaved and continues to behave like an immature bully, setting the kind of example few of us would want to exhibit for our children.  (I could go on, but I’ll spare you.)

How do we know that?

We know it from the Mueller Report, investigation, and subsequent trials; the Cohen trial and several other investigations conducted by the federal attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York; the President’s tweets, press conferences, interviews and rallies; the Intelligence Committee’s recent public hearings and the evidence from witnesses and released depositions; the Judiciary Committee’s various hearings; multiple investigative reports in various national newspapers and magazines; and various investigations carried out by reporters working for online organizations.

So what happens next?

Currently, the Intelligence Committee is writing a report of its findings with regard to Ukraine and, after a committee vote, will send it to the Judiciary Committee. It will be the duty of the Judiciary Committee to draft any impeachment charges. If it decides that behaviors merit impeachment, it will draft such charges and vote to send them to the floor of the House of Representatives. A majority vote in the House will then “impeach” the President – that is formally charge him with wrongdoing. Subsequent action would then move to the Senate.

Stay tuned for Impeachment 104.

Joe Sam Queen, NC House, Raleigh Report: (New Redistricting Map) 11/11/2019

Honoring Our Veterans

It was my privilege to attend the Tuscola ROTC Air Force Unit’s 15th Annual Veterans Day Luncheon on Saturday. It was one of many events across our great nation where we recognized the noble and the brave for their service and sacrifice to our country. I’m honored to be joined in this photo by father, B.J. Morrow, WWII, and son, Ron Morrow, Vietnam, who represent multiple generations of proud veterans like many here in our mountain communities. Thank you to all who have served, are currently serving, and to the families who lift up these courageous men and women in uniform every step of the way!

In North Carolina, we continue to strive to improve the life of our veterans and their families. We’re proud to be the most military friendly state in the Nation.

Redistricting Committee

As a member of the Redistricting Committee I’ve been working hard to rebuild the voter’s trust in fair elections across North Carolina. This has been a real struggle with the current Republican Legislative Leadership, but with the help of our Courts, we’re making progress. We still have lots of work to do, but I’m firmly committed to protecting your right to vote and the value of that vote.  

The General Assembly has approved this new map along partisan lines. We’ll see if the court accepts it or requires further fixes to the obvious gerrymandering the Republican Legislators still refuse to remedy.

The Legislature Stalls

The Republican majority continues to call the shots in the capitol. They are ignoring the NC Constitutional mandate to consider the Governor’s Veto and negotiate a True Comprehensive, Balanced Budget. Instead, the Republicans in the General Assembly are just stalling, playing political games. Again, along party lines, the Republican Leadership has just adjourned for two months without doing their job.

Governor Cooper continues to offer an Alternative Compromise Budget that is sensible and balanced:

  • Invests in teacher pay with a solid 8.5 % raise versus the Republican 3.8% offer. Instead of a billion dollars more in corporate tax cuts.
  • Proposes a True School $3.5 Billion Dollar Infrastructure Bond, instead of a political slush fund. (The SCIF SCAM)
  • Expands Medicaid, closing the coverage gap for half a million North Carolinians, instead of wasting $4 billion each and every year.
  • The difference means billions for North Carolina.

Impeachment 102, by Penny Smith: 10/24/2019

Number 2 in a series (watch this space for more)

 

  1. Have the Democrats impeached Trump?

The Democrats have not yet impeached Donald Trump. They are in the process of holding investigation hearings to determine if there is sufficient evidence to impeach him. Multiple committees are engaged in such investigations, but Adam Schiff heads the investigation with the most traction.

  1. I thought there were other committees, like the one headed by Jerry Nadler, which were looking into impeachment. What happened to them?

Currently there are six committees looking at various Trump activities that may warrant impeachment: Financial Services, the Judiciary, Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, Oversight and Ways and Means. Nadler heads the Judiciary Committee. 

Those other committees have not dropped their investigations, but they are having difficulty obtaining documents and witnesses due to the decision by the President to exert executive privilege over anything that pertains to what happens in the White House. Several committees have turned their complaints over to the judicial system and are awaiting decisions about compliance.

  1. Why would Congress investigate the President at all?

We have a government based on a system of checks and balances, designed to thwart abuse of power by any one branch. Congress has always had oversight responsibilities, which means they routinely investigate actions by the Executive Branch. When Republicans were in charge of both houses of Congress during the first two years of the Trump Presidency, they essentially ignored oversight responsibility. When the Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives, they reinitiated oversight, much to the consternation of the White House, which has resisted their efforts.

  1. How is impeachment related to the Mueller Report?

The Mueller Report was never an impeachment investigation. It was an investigation by a Special Prosecutor to look into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 elections. Also, because of a Justice Department internal ruling, the report could not recommend charging the President with any crimes.

What that report found was that Russia did interfere in the 2016 election, using false and misleading stories to influence public opinion against Hilary Clinton. In other words, the Russians worked to elect Donald Trump. The report did not find sufficient evidence to conclude that a conspiracy between the Trump and Putin supporters existed, but it did not rule out such a conspiracy.

During the investigation the Mueller team did find multiple instances of obstruction that could rise to the level of impeachable charges, but felt it was not their responsibility to pursue such charges for two reasons: the Justice Department ruling that a President can not be charged and the existence of the impeachment process. In other words, they threw that part of the investigation to Congress.

It is the Mueller Report that initiated impeachment investigations in the Judiciary Committee, which are now on hold as demands for witness testimony and documents make their way through our court system.

  1. Who is Adam Schiff?

Adam Schiff chairs the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee. That committee, along with the Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committees, are looking into the possibility the President abused his power when he withheld funds from Ukraine until its leaders agreed to an investigation of a Trump political opponent.

6. What’s the impeachment investigation in Schiff’s Committee about?

The original Ukraine complaint came from an anonymous whistleblower; that person came into possession of information that he or she believed indicated a grievous abuse of power. He or she then followed procedures set in place for filing such complaints. The Inspector General, who received the whistleblower’s complaint, investigated it and found its claims to “be credible” and “urgent.” He then sent the complaint, in accordance with due process, to the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire. That’s where things stalled.

Maguire refused to send the complaint to the Intelligence Committee within seven days, although he is required to do so by law. He also failed to respond to an Intelligence Committee’s subpoena for the complaint. Although he did not share the complaint with Congress within the required seven days, he apparently shared it with both the White House and the Justice Department.

Consequently, the whistleblower sought advice on how to advance his complaint to Congress. That led to a public conflict between Adam Schiff’s committee and the National Intelligence Director. Eventually, the whistleblowers’ complaint was made public and the White House released a summary of a July phone call between President Trump and the recently elected leader of Ukraine. That phone call is at the heart of, but not the full scope of, the complaint.

The whistleblower’s charges involved the use of the office of the Presidency for personal gain. The President refused to release congressionally appropriated funds to Ukraine for their defense against Russian aggression until he received a favor in return – an investigation of a potential political opponent, Joe Biden, and his son. In other words, the President conditioned foreign aid on receiving a political favor. Moreover, he asked that favor from a foreign country, which is itself an illegal act.

  1. Why are Democrats investigating Trump in secret?

The current hearings are being held in private, because the Justice Department, which should have undertaken an investigation, did not. Investigations are almost always done privately, partially to ensure that witnesses do not know what other witnesses have said.  Also, it’s not Democrats alone in those closed-door hearings. All members of the three committees overseen by Adam Schiff are involved and those members include 48 Republicans.

Closed-door hearings are common, particularly with investigations by the Intelligence Committee, which often deals with confidential matters. Republicans routinely used them during the Obama Administration, including many of the Republicans now claiming that closed-door sessions are unfair.

Once the preliminary investigation stage is over, there will be public hearings involving witnesses, most of whom will have testified behind closed doors. Also, the transcripts of the closed-door hearings will eventually be released to the public.

  1. Is it true that no Republicans are allowed in the Trump hearings?

That’s absolutely false and Republicans who are complaining about “secret” hearings know it. Republican members of the three committees involved in the hearings can attend, do attend and, we assume, ask questions.

  1. If it’s not true that the hearings are secret, why are the Republicans complaining about it?

At the moment it’s difficult to defend the behavior of the President, particularly in light of the opening statements of witnesses that have been publicly released. It’s commonplace in legal practice to complain about the process, when you can’t really challenge the facts. So, GOP defenders of the President are doing their best to throw dust in the air and pretend “there’s nothing to see here.” They hope, by complaining about the process and labeling it unfair, low information voters and Trump supporters will believe them and ignore the evidence.

  1. How come these witnesses are testifying, when other committees had difficulty securing witnesses and documents?

In some cases these witnesses no longer work for the government; in some cases they do. However, in all cases those individuals whose testimony would be covered by executive privilege have been subpoenaed by the committee and are complying with the subpoena.

  1. What are the likely charges against Trump and on what are they based?

Although down the road Trump might have to confront charges related to campaign finance abuses (he is essentially an unindicted co-conspirator on one of the charges that sent his former attorney Michael Cohen to jail), tax fraud, and obstruction of justice relating to the Mueller Report, he is currently in most danger from charges that he abused the power of his office in an attempt to compromise a potential political opponent. Two tangential charges may flow from that investigation – that he obstructed justice by obstructing investigation into those charges and that he failed to “faithfully” execute the orders of Congress by delaying the release of appropriated funds to Ukraine.

  1. If Trump is impeached by the House and acquitted by the Senate, can he be impeached again?

Yes, there is no Constitutional limit to the number of times a person can be impeached, although it would have to be for other charges. There is, however, a potential political cost to multiple failed impeachments.

  1. What’s likely to happen about this impeachment business in the coming weeks?

The investigation into the whistleblower’s charges and related activities will probably continue behind closed doors for a couple of weeks. There will then be public hearings, somewhat like the Watergate Hearings. They would be televised in real time.

The House has an interest in trying to finish the process before the end of the year. So, unless something surprising is uncovered, watch for public hearings to show up in November related to specific impeachment charges. Watch for a vote in the House on those charges in late November or early December, sending the matter to the Senate.

  1. What’s likely to happen in the Senate?

For Trump to be convicted and removed from office, 2/3s of the Senate must vote to impeach him. That means a significant number of Republicans have to vote with the Democrats and that is, at least at the moment, unlikely to happen.

If it moves to the Senate, here are the things that can happen: Mitch McConnell can stall bringing the matter to the floor of the Senate or bring it to the floor with a vote to dismiss; McConnell can bring the charges to the floor with an expedited trial; or McConnell can bring the charges to the floor for a regular trial. Any trial will be public and televised. Chief Justice Roberts presides. It is at the trial that the President’s attorneys would have an opportunity to bring witnesses and cross-examine the House witnesses.

Stay tuned for Impeachment 103

Why I Think Trump Should Be Impeached, by Penny Smith: 10/28/2019

Number 1 in a Series (stay tuned for more)

Based on the Mueller Report, which I have read, including all those footnotes, it’s obvious that President Trump obstructed justice multiple times. Based on the Michael Cohen convictions, it’s likewise obvious that Trump probably violated campaign finance laws. Based on his on-going use of his properties for personal vacations and public business, it’s obvious that Trump violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution. Based on the opening statements by witnesses before the three committees looking into abuse of power concerning Ukraine, it’s obvious that Trump believes it’s fine to coerce a country for personal political gain. All those Trump behaviors are probably reasons for impeaching him, but they are not the primary one to me.

“High crimes and misdemeanors” as referenced in the Constitution refers not to crimes we associate with the criminal code, as many members of Congress would wish, but to actions that misappropriate public trust. If the President fails to uphold his oath of office, he needs to be impeached. And that oath is fairly simple: I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Generally, when we look at the words “faithfully execute,” we mean that our President ensures that laws are put into effect. For that reason, it’s sometimes called the “take care clause.” The President is charged with taking care that the laws are executed, even if he disagrees with them. 

But I think of “faithfully execute” as more than simply putting a law into effect; I think of it as requiring some measure of being faithful, of being true to the meaning of laws. Being “faithful” suggests steadfastness, conscientiousness, and truthfulness. For example, there are facts to which we must be faithful. I think the President should be impeached, because he does nothing faithfully. He is a constant and often mean-spirited liar, whose language abuses the public trust in both certain individuals and our institutions.

He lies so often that there are now multiple Internet sites that keep a running total. He came into the Presidency as a serial liar, but the oath he took demanded another standard when he became our symbolic First Citizen. Before taking office he certainly lied about his fortune, his marriages, his affairs, his authorship of multiple books, and his predecessor, Barack Obama. He even lied periodically about lying.

On his first day in office he lied about the size of his inauguration crowd and sent his minions to the media to repeat those lies. He lied about voter fraud to cover his popular vote loss to Hilary Clinton. He lied about Mexico paying for the wall that is, as yet, not built. He lied about the nature of people seeking asylum, about Muslims, about separating families at the border, about hurricanes, about Puerto Rico deaths and recovery efforts, about climate change.

He lied about the nature of the Mueller investigation, calling it “a witch hunt.” He is currently calling House oversight a “coup.” If you are James Comey, once a registered Republican whom Trump loved when Comey criticized Hillary Clinton, you become “a terrible director” and “crooked,” when you fail the President’s loyalty test. If you are Robert Mueller, another registered Republican, you become “highly conflicted” and have a “gang of Democrat thugs” destroying people. However, your report is “beautiful,” since it found “no collusion” and “no obstruction,” neither of which is a fair reading of what Mueller found.

Trump, according to himself, is “the most transparent President in history.” He doesn’t “do cover-ups.” His daughter “has created millions of jobs.” He has “perfect” telephone conversations. The mainstream media publish “fake news;” only Fox is a beacon of truth, except, of course, when it isn’t. And it isn’t when it criticizes Trump. Democrats are committing “treason.” 

During the 2016 campaign he bragged about being able to become the most Presidential of all Presidents; his mean-spirited fabrications were simply electioneering tools. Yet once in office he made ad hominem attacks on everyone he believes is against him, even individuals he praised months earlier. Pelosi is “a very sick person.” Mattis is the “world’s most over-rated general,” except, of course, when Trump appointed him Secretary of Defense. Warren is “Pocahontas.” Biden is “a loser” and “a dummy.”

He believes Putin, not our intelligence officers. He thinks Kim Jong-un writes him such “beautiful letters” that they “fell in love.” He tells us that China is paying our tariffs, that the economy is the best it’s ever been for everybody, NATO is ripping us off, the United Nations is irrelevant, and the Kurds are happy. And, making all of the hyperbole and lies ever more dangerous, he is surrounded by people who applaud what he says and who repeat it on Sunday talk shows.

Public trust in the institutions of our government and in the people who work in those institutions is dependent on truth-telling and facts. Once that public trust is gone, so, too, will those institutions and non-partisan officials be gone. What Donald Trump has done, starting even before his run for the Presidency, is deal in conspiracy theories designed to erode trust. He’s gone from birth certificates to trading arms for political dirt, from promising to drain the swamp to making it the swampiest it has ever been.

Donald Trump is a peerless grifter, a con man, a snake oil salesman who doesn’t care if the snake oil makes blind the losers who buy it. A P.T. Barnum for our time, whose penchant for exaggeration, misspoken lines, and lies would be amusing were they not so perilous.

Benjamin Franklin argued that honesty is the best policy. The Bible commands us not to bear false witness. Shakespeare wrote, “no legacy is so rich as honesty.” Are there parents that willfully teach their children to lie to them? Yet we now have a President that lies to all of us on a daily basis, consciously, I fear, using those lies to sow discontent, division and derision.

Everyone misspeaks sometimes. Everyone gets something wrong now and then. But most of us strive to be truth-tellers and believe there exists a common set of facts. I’d impeach him for those lies; they are more a danger to our national honor, our politics, and our democracy than most of the other crimes he has committed.

Mark Meadow’s Watch, by Penny Smith: 10/11/2019,

Our US Congressman made the October 1, 2019 issue of The New Yorker. It appears that he was once interested in old bones, having purchased considerable property in a Colorado town known for its fossils. Appropriately, it’s named Dinosaur. Three years ago he sold that property to Answers in Genesis, a creationist non-profit. They built and operate the Creation Museum in Kentucky, which includes a replica of Noah’s ark and other displays that support a literal interpretation of Genesis.

What’s the problem? Given his resistance to a fact-based universe and his history as a homeschool advocate, Meadows is a probable creationist. So, it’s not a surprise that he might be interested in fossils. Well, it’s not so much his disavowal of science, but the fact that he forgot to note the sale and monthly payments he received on his congressional financial disclosure forms. Nor does this seem to be the first time he failed to disclose property; there’s the matter of some land in the northeastern part of the state, at least according to reporting in the Charlotte Observer.

Meadows and his family encountered bones in Dinosaur, Colorado, as early as 2002, when they participated in a fossil digging expedition for homeschoolers with the catchy title: Dragon’s Den Dig. In a documentary of the trip, in which Meadows appeared, his daughter Haley was credited with discovering a Giant Sauropod. The point of the documentary was to demonstrate the earth was young, dinosaurs were here a few thousand years ago, and the notion of Darwinian evolution is, in the parlance of today, “fake news.”

After the filming, there appears to have been a breakdown among the participants of the dig, the film-makers and the pre-Meadows property owners. The real story, however, might be those missing financial reports. By the time he sells that property, he was seeking a third term and surely was familiar with disclosure rules or, if he had a question, the method by which he could secure proper guidance for completing them correctly. So, one might question why he failed to do so.

Then, maybe, we might want to delve into his belief in science and hope he isn’t on any committees that oversee or use scientific research.

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