You're probably aware that North Carolina is hell-bent on burning rubber as fast as it can to retreat to the Gilded Age, where business folks ran the world and ordinary people kept their heads down and grubbed in the field like good little serfs. Several factors are in play here: the election of a crazed right-winger as governor, Pat McCrory (R-Cave), who successfully did the "compassionate, moderate conservative" bit long enough to graduate from mayor of Charlotte to overlord of the entire fiefdom, where he now lolls on the throne, bestowing favors on his sycophants and making sure he doesn't piss off the financiers and backers who own him from behind the throne. NC also has a Republican-controlled General Assembly for the first time in, well, ever, partially due to massive and shameless gerrymandering that concentrated Democratic voters in a few massively weird districts, where they win elections by 90-10 margins and get told to shut up by the GOP overseers in the legislature. (Okay, there's some hyperbole going on here, but not as much as you think.)
NC is trying to make up for lost ground: implement massive tax breaks for the wealthy, institute draconian voter ID laws, gut education spending, gut Medicaid and public health spending, gut unemployment spending, gut ... well, you get the drift.
In recent weeks, protesters who, to me, have something of the Occupy aesthetic without bringing all the camping gear have descended on the Capitol building once a week, engaging in what has become "Moral Mondays." In the last protest, over 1600 protesters came, sang, shouted, gave speeches, and generally irritated the nomenklatura to no end. 151 were arrested, kept overnight, and released before dawn the next morning. The NC NAACP, led by the Reverend William Barber, is primarily responsible for the Monday protests, but other groups and unaffiliated individuals are swelling the ranks every week.
Melissa Harris-Perry is paying attention. So is a ginchy little state senator from my neck of the woods. More on the flip.
By the way, our friend Persiflage has already diaried about this. But I'm adding some stuff that s/he could not know about. Kudos to Persiflage for beating me to the punch.
Harris-Perry devoted half of her show to North Carolina today, even giving Corporate Leader McCrory a "Dear Pat" shoutout. Barber was there. Plenty of others were there, dissecting the Walkerian takeover of North Carolina.
The Howling: Werewolves of Pittsboro
While Melissa was preparing for her show, a little shrimpy state senator, Thom Goolsby, was getting mad. He wrote a diatribe for some obscure little country rag, the Chatham Journal, entitled Moron Monday shows radical Left just doesn't get it. We've seen tighty righties get their genitalia in an uproar before now, so the insults, lies and vilifications Goolsby decided to sling are unsurprising. Except they are from him. Goolsby campaigned as one of those "sensible, moderate, compassionate conservatives," and won handily. Hell, I almost voted for him the first time out, as he was one of the few candidates who was speaking out against a local zoning issue that impacted my neighborhood. (He actually followed through on that one. Yay, Shrimpy! But I couldn't do it. Can't vote Republican any longer, as anyone who associates with that party in this day and age can never get my support.) But this, for Goolsby, was a new and ugly low.
Goolsby, according to the Chatham Journal bio blurb, is
a state senator, practicing attorney and law professor. He is a chairman of the Senate Judiciary 1 and Justice and Public Safety committees.(He actually co-chairs those committees, according to his Web site.)
According to Thommy, all of those who came to the protest this week were "clowns." Barber, whom Goolsby apparently won't concede is an actual reverend since he writes it thusly:
the "Reverend" Barberis "a carnival barker ... decked out like a prelate of the Church of Rome (no insult is meant to Catholics), complete with stole and cassock. All he was missing was a miter and the ensemble would have been complete." Though the crowd was quite diverse, featuring people of all races and genders, Goolsby, apparently channeling his inner Coulter, saw nothing but "white, angry, aged former hippies." They didn't speak, they "screeched," providing what he calls a "sideshow" of "disjointed speeches" and "liberal theater" that "left the participants jittery and empty in the end." Everyone there was a card-carrying member of "the Loony Left," he says, before having some fun repeating the "Moron Monday" bit from his title.
After smearing the Raleigh press corps for apparently being in the protesters' pockets (that Liberal Media don'tcha know, and how do I add that cool "TM" thing after the word?), and peeing on the General Assembly Police for "politely arrest[ing]" the protesters and walking them calmly away (not enough pepper spray and water cannons for ya, Thom?) he turns to a Well-Reasoned Defense of everything he and McCrory's Minions are doing. Naturally, pretty much everything he says is a flat lie. According to the Word of Thom, North Carolina was a smoking economic and social wasteland before the GOP cavalry rode into town. Everything was bankrupt. The state "treasury was empty," he says (not even a few shillings lying unattended on the vault floor?), and the state had multiple millions of debt hanging around its scrawny neck -- mostly due to the state paying out exorbitant and unneeded unemployment benefits during the
Bush Obama recession. Taxes were higher than in France before the Revolution. And it was all those Democrats' fault, who had been in Absolute Unchecked Power for 140 years, and taken the state into Rack and Ruin.
But, the cavalry rode in, and in a few short months, turned everything completely around. North Carolina is the Shining Corporate Haven on the Hill. Government waste is now gone, huge tax cuts gave a billion dollars to
McCrory's fatcat friends the citizenry, the retirement plan was rescued from the brink of doom, and the state health care plan was made whole and good. The debt is being paid down and everything is just hunky dory. Damn those Democrats for nearly sending us sliding into the Atlantic!
So, he concludes, why is the Loony Left still bitching? Or, better, he asks, "What are they not complaining about?" The election results should have told them to shut up, sit in the back, and do as you're told, he grouses, but gee, they're still trying to convince the powers that be to "print money on a magical press and spend our way into prosperity." (Cause, gee, that's exactly what we all think must be done.) Even "good" Democrats know the Moral Monday protests are Bad Bad Bad and must be stopped. "Regular people, i.e. voters, tend to shy away from the real radical fringe" populated by those "old hippies" who have "found a new hobby and have once again fallen in love with the sound of their own voices." And with a final flip of the wrist, he concludes, "Too bad they were not around to help when they were needed."
You can read a response to all of this smarm and charm here: State Senator Sinks to Schoolyard Levels Over Moral Monday. Now comes the fun part.
Mobs with Pitchforks and Torches
The column was printed in the Chatham Journal, which is a little news weekly in Pittsboro, NC. I used to work in Pittsboro. Believe me, nothing happens there that doesn't involve cows or people driving big old American cars and waving their Jack Daniels bottles out the windows, so this little red-state alt-weekly doesn't usually cover much. As I write this, the paper's headline story is "Special one-day transit service for Walmart grand opening" -- the local bus line is going to offer a day of bus service for the folks to go to hang out at the bitchin' new Walmart outside Siler City. (Yes, there is a real Siler City. I've been there, too. Wide spot in the road. Nice people.) The other stories are local tidbits, mostly generated by, I'm guessing, the local PR guy at the Rotary Club or the Pittsboro Chamber of Commerce (that new, as-yet-unbuilt residential and business Chatham Park sounds just peachy). Why Goolsby chose this little rag over, I don't know, the Wilmington Star-News, the Daily Caller, the OMG Kill All Democrats and Commie Liberals Now Now Now blog, or something along those lines, I have no idea. Maybe Thommy's Cousin Virgil, who decided to be a Big City Ree-porter after winning the spelling bee in 7th grade, runs the thing.
Several of us in the New Hanover County Commie Liberal Stalin Was a Piker, We Could Do Much Better club on Facebook found out about Goolsby's little spew (the Chatham Journal has a Web site, such as it is). We were all duly horrified, especially my wife, who had voted enthusiastically for Goolsby in 2010 (she couldn't bring herself to vote for him in 2012, as he got way too enthusiastic about those transvaginal probes). I wrote a proper rejoinder which I asked Cousin Virgil to consider printing as a rebuttal. Virgil's e-mail account was full, no joy. So I found his rag on Facebook (they have 17, count 'em, 17 likes, and the last posting was from February). I posted a polite request for a rebuttal. Another person from the Commie Fan Club did, also. Boom! Within ten minutes, we both were banned and our posts deleted.
Shocking, I know.
My wife posted a much angrier reply on their page. Bamalam, banned and deleted within seconds. Both my wife and our fellow traveler said something to the effect of "I bet he was thrilled when his phone went off, alerting him to the first FB post in months, only to find out that one of those dirty hippies was posting. And another! And then another! He's probably ready to shove his laptop under a haystack and tear into that case of Old Milwaukee he was saving, and spend the next two hours drinking, belching, farting and cussing liberals."
Well, we are apparently too screechy and loony to know when Our Betters Have Put Us In Our Places, so I posted the whole rebuttal on Facebook. It is now on the New Hanover County Democrats page, courtesy of my fellow traveler, and has been reprinted numerous other places. I've sent it to the Camel City Dispatch (the home of the "Schoolyard Levels" article linked above). I've sent it to Goolsby. My wife has sent some truly flaming rejoinders to Goolsby and Cousin Virgil. The original rebuttal, typos and all, is right here:
I would like to express my sharp disappointment in the Chatham Journal for publishing a childish, insult-filled rant by State Senator Thom Goolsby (R-New Hanover), titled "Moron Monday shows radical Left just doesn't get it." In just a few hundred words, Goolsby managed to:Piling On
* call everyone involved in Moral Monday events "morons."
* cast aspersions on event leader Reverend William Barber, to the point of questioning his position as a church leader and, with his aspersions on Rev. Barber's formal dress, insult his entire denomination.
* paint an incredibly diverse crowd of participants as "white, angry, aged former hippies" who "screeched into microphones ... and chanted diatribes."
* reduce the wide range of protests and calls for change to "liberal theater."
* accuse the local media of being part of the events.
* imply that the arrests of some participants was orchestrated with the cooperation of the General Assembly Police.
When Goolsby first ran for the Senate, he painted himself as a "moderate" conservative and claimed to care about the ordinary working people and their children. He said over and over again that he was not like those on the far right, and promised to represent all of his constituents, Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives, independents, everyone. Now, it's apparent that the Goolsby who succeeded in being elected by portraying himself as a compassionate moderate was a sham for the cameras. His rant reads like something written by Glenn Beck or Bryan Fischer, two of the extreme right's most hateful commentators.
He also fundamentally misrepresents the economic facts. The Democrats were not "bankrupting" North Carolina, the treasury was not "empty," and the state health care plan was not "bankrupt." NC's economy faced, and continues to face, considerable problems, problems that were not being addressed adequately by either side. Now, those problems are not being corrected by Goolsby and the McCrory administration, they are being exacerbated. Education is being gutted. Health care is being gutted. Unemployment is being vaporized. The state is shedding jobs instead of creating new ones. The state economy under McCrory is now being retooled to do one thing: funnel North Carolina's wealth straight into the pockets of McCrory's and Goolsby's rich backers. Goolsby's "billion dollar tax cut" benefits the rich almost exclusively. The retirement plan and unemployment programs are not being fully funded, they are being stripped of funding. North Carolina's economic status is plummeting. Meanwhile, McCrory, with Goolsby's support, gives huge pay raises to his friends in government, and attempts to restrict voting to keep people he and Goolsby do not like from exercising their fundamental rights of citizenship.
It is not true, as Goolsby claims, that "Democrats had an almost total lock on power in Raleigh." It is true that Democrats have held control of the governor's office and the legislature more often than they have not, but many NC Democrats are quite conservative, and Republicans often had little trouble putting together coalitions to pass legislation they wanted, or to block legislation they did not. That is no longer the case. The extremists in the NC Republican Party have power now, and they intend to consolidate and expand it no matter what the cost.
Here's what really frightens Goolsby and his fellow radicals. They have energized not only the left, but the moderate center and even many reasonable voices on the right in opposition to their extremist policies. Goolsby chooses to address that new energy with insults and lies. They will not help him. The sensible people of North Carolina have a chance to oust the extremists in November 2014. Unfortunately, McCrory will not run again until 2016. But Goolsby has to run again next year. He has apparently chosen to run to the extreme right for now; undoubtedly he will attempt to paint himself again as a "caring, compassionate moderate conservative" as election time rolls around. He will not succeed. He has outed himself for what he is, and the voters of New Hanover County and North Carolina will not stand for it.
I expect better and more comprehensive journalism from the Chatham Journal in the future. I am interested to see what you intend to publish to counter Goolsby's "screeching diatribe."
If you feel like tickling Goolsby with some love over his little sewer spew:
Senate office: 919.715.2525
Don't forget Virgil, running his little weekly from his barn. Virgil's e-mail is full and his contact form is broken. You can post on his Facebook page (please do, and make sure to save the post before he sends it into redneck hyperspace and share it in the comments). I'd love to see him cringe at the amount of "dirty hippies" posting all those Facts and Reasoned Opinions on his page. Aiieee!
The peasants are, indeed, revolting. Let's show him just how much.
9:26 AM PT: Thanks for the rec, all! Didn't get to see MHP this morning so I don't know if she addressed NC or the Goolsby tirade at all. I'm assuming not, since no one mentioned it and, gee, there are 49 other states and such...
Edit: Fixed link to Goolsby's little pissfest. Here's the link again:
Thanks to Brecht for catching the error.