By your leave

It's hard to overstate my outrage at the corporate takeover we've allowed to happen here in North Carolina. It has been years in the making, a slow-motion train wreck that many saw coming, yet no one was able to stop.

BlueNC has done its part, as much as any blog can do to raise the alarm of imminent danger. But those responsible for governing, those elected to protect our state and our people, have failed to do their parts, utterly and completely.

After working on the front lines and the sidelines for five years now at BlueNC, it's clear to me that the leadership necessary to preserve and protect our democracy does not exist in North Carolina. Governor Perdue owns the problem, but it goes far deeper. It goes all the way to us. We failed to hold them accountable. We allowed our state government and our institutions to roll along with business as usual, neither angry enough nor smart enough to change their tragic course.

In light of my own contribution to our collective failure, I'm taking a few weeks to regroup and reset, and discover what's next for me, if anything, in today's disturbing political environment.

The floor is yours.


I hear ya, but

as I mentioned in another thread last week, Pope merely took control of an already bought and paid for government. If we were not in such a huge housing slump, the Reators and Homebuilders would have had enough money to retain their long-standing ownership of our Legislature. Pope merely bought a foreclosure property.

I understand if you are mad because it is Pope or because the Leg. was taken over by one person instead of thousands of Realtors and Homebuilders through their associations, but surely you cannot be horrified that corporate interests own our government. It has been that way for quite some time.

I don't disagree with you one bit

Having an individual person helps people understand what's happening, but you're right, Pope is just the latest mutation in a sick system.

From my next book

This is a work of fiction. The characters are made up by me and do not exist in real life. First draft.


Chapter 4

Ten miles away on the dark side of Hillsborough, Sheriff Jock Shaw, uncle of Tommy Roy Foster and president of Madmax Wholesalers, has been up for hours, plotting the final stages of his latest corporate takeover. It’s not another dollar store he’s after, not this time. Nor is he out to win more seats in the General Assembly. He has what he needs there.

No, this time Jock Shaw has set his sights on a loftier goal: control of the North Carolina Supreme Court. The election is Tuesday.

“God damn it.” Shaw yells into thin air. That’s how it looks with that Bluetooth headset, that implant in his ear. “Just tell me where the hell we stand.” His voice echoes in his cavernous mansion as he looks out the kitchen window. Acres of manicured lawn spill toward the south fence, where a whitetail doe grazes on hydrangeas. His wife planted them last spring. His ex-wife.

“We stand exactly where we should be standing,” soothes the familiar voice of his nephew. The two men are partners in politics, business and crime, all the same thing as far as Jock Shaw is concerned. “Ye'll win again, Sheriff. Tis a matter of fact.”

“Ye can’t be sure, Tommy Roy. Not this time.”

“Ye’ve outspent them and ye've out-smarted them. We're ready to file fraud complaints anywhere the count is close. It’s check and mate, Uncle Jock. Ye've done it.”

“The darkies, Tommy Roy. They’ll be out in force.”

“Nay, Sheriff. Not this time. There’s no darkie at the top of the ticket. They won’t be turnin’ out.”

Welcoming the reassurance, Shaw takes his deer rifle from beside the kitchen door, a Browning A-bolt Medallion, and walks to the back deck. He can barely make out the animal’s form in the drizzly dawn, but barely is always good enough for Jock Shaw.

The rifle's blast shocks morning air as he watches through the scope. The doe hobbles thirty yards with a shattered shoulder, then collapses. He chambers another round and fires, misses.

“Goddamn rats with hooves."

“Aye.” On the other end of the phone, Tommy Roy takes the shooting in stride. He’s still in bed, surfing the web on his laptop. It’s a familiar ritual, this killing, a regular feature of their morning briefings.

Back inside, Shaw watches through binoculars as the doe struggles and fails to stand. He pours another cup of coffee, his third this morning, stirring in a splash of Glenkinchie single-malt.

Tommy Roy waits, always waits.

“What about that goddamn newspaper story?” Shaw says.

“The story is under control,” says Tommy Roy.

Shaw wishes for a second that his wife hadn’t left him alone in this monstrous house. He shouldn’t have hit her. She’d know what to do. She knew how to handle reporters.

“Yer too smart for yer own damn good, Tommy Roy," Shaw says.

Tommy Roy bites his tongue. He’s smart alright, smarter than Shaw will ever be. Besides, the old man's starting to lose it, the same downward spiral he saw in his own pathetic father, Jock's only brother. Vascular dementia laced with scotch. Memory loss. Mood swings. Confusion. Violence. Rage.

“I may verra well be,” says Tommy Roy finally. “But I tell ye, Mr. Shaw, the story is under control.”

“The reporter’s a faggot. I don’t trust him.”

Tommy Roy sighs. “Aye,” he says. “Ye may be right. But the story will run in tomorrow’s paper. I’ve seen it.”


“You’ll be pleased, Uncle Jock.”

Shaw turns off his phone without saying goodbye. He pulls his bathrobe, the ancient Shaw tartan, tight around his barrel belly. He watches the doe surrender to death, turns to the morning paper where he’s made the front page again. Another story about the million dollars he’s spending to buy the Supreme Court. Bloody hell. The good lord gave him that money for a reason. He’s only doing the god's will.

He flips to the weather page, studying the five-day outlook. Clearing through early next week, including election day. Not good. It’s bad weather that keeps the darkies from turning out. Everybody knows that.

From a comment on another thread

I wrote:

Blogging communities like this one are a huge amount of work. I'm totally worn out, I also have a day job.

BlueNC is an amazing platform. We recently had more than 10,000 unique visitors in one week. I'm not exactly sure why we're a gathering spot, but we are. So until some new direction emerges, I'm hoping to keep things rolling along on a more or less even keel. That takes a steady stream of fresh content, as well as plain old housekeeping. Help is most welcome.

Just to say it, I see the future of BlueNC as a blank slate. Feel free to start drawing.

I want to draw!

..or at least post pictures... who does on3 have to do around here to get that privilege? I have uploaded photos in the past, but they never show up so I figure it's an access thing? Would love to get creative about getting the message out.

Katy Munger,
Progress North Carolina Action

Lead, follow or get out of the way....

You may already know this Katy,

but the first thing you need to do is download your pics to a hosting site like Photobucket. Then you copy the "direct link" code, and then insert that into an html code in the body of your diary/comment.

We used to have a tutorial page that briefly covered this. I'll see if I can find it.

p.s. Thanks, James. I was going to type out the code, but I always mess it up and it disappears. ;)

I got mine in the mail recently

they looked great. I liked the decision not to go with regular paper. I so easily half open things, think oh its probably junk mail & throw it in the recycle... the nice material made me pause for long enough to pay attention and notice it was from a group I like (& of course who can turn away from cute dancing piggies) =)

Also, for pictures on bluenc, I'm usually able to load stuff from facebook w/ no problem. Its an easy way to host images, then just come here and post them.

A business model to consider

We got at something like this with Candlestick, when we invited non-profits to provide content here. It fizzled, even though a number of organizations were earning several hundred dollars each month. The lesson I took away is simple: Turn to self-interested writers when you're looking for content, not to progressive non-profits.

I feel your pain, frustration and exhaustion....

... and I highly recommend losing yourself in your fictional world for awhile as a refresher. I hope you feel energized by the end of the year, because there's a whole lot coming down in 2010 and we need Blue NC badly

I, too, get extraordinarily discouraged when 9.5 million people in this state don't seem to give a rat's ass that their entire state government has been sold lock, stock and barrel to the highest bidder. And I go close to ballistic when people elect -- time and again -- leaders who are demonstrably in the pockets of big donors -- and believe me, I am talking about our General Assembly reps from both sides of the aisle. In fact, NOTHING makes me madder than a progressive politcian who talks a good game then turns around and votes with his donor's interests instead of mine.

Why don't people pay more attention? Why don't they care? That is the $64 million dollar (in donations) question.

I think part of it is that it is still an abstract problem to most people. "Money in politics" and the numbers tossed around don't quite seem real. It's too easy to say, "It's just a few people and it's certainly not my rep whose vote is being influenced."

I think the solution is to take the gloves off and to start naming names and taking prisoners. A lot of people got elected this time because someone with business interests bankrolled them to ridiculous degrees, So when those elected leaders turn around and try to repay the favor by introducing a special earmark bill, or a tax break, or a no-bid contract, or attempt to screw with public policy in any way: then, by god, we need to raise hell and we need to make sure the constituents in that person's district know about it. Right now, people get away with this blatant tit for tat system of campaign finance because of information overload: people get too many messages, and too many seemingly irrelevant messages, to be able to absorb it all. Which means those of us who care and see the danger now need to pull out the info and shove it right into their faces of the people who elected the offender until they understand that the big donors are profiting at their expense.

If anyone is interested in adopting and following a specific General Assembly reps votes, public statements and bills, please let me know. We can take care of the money research side, although you are welcome to be a part of that as well.


Katy Munger,
Progress North Carolina Action

Lead, follow or get out of the way....

"Novel" Therapy

James, we all cheer you on in your use of "novel" time for personal renewal.

Glimpses are already therapeutic for us: the humor; the anticipation of the finished product; and the knowledge of the power of the creative novel to open eyes otherwise shut in these divisive times.


Thanks. I'm working with the

Thanks. I'm working with the possibility that the pen is, indeed, mightier than the sword ... and the pocketbook. We'll see.

The pendulum always swings back

After 1988, I remember feeling so low and so despondent that I thought I'd never recover and that we'd gone done the Rabbit Hole for good. BUT then within just a few years things swung back (at least in the right direction....although I don't consider the Clinton Administration a true-victory for progressives).

The same after 2000 and 2004, especially, but within just 2 years, things were swinging back again. And that led, of course, to 2008, which (for a while anyway) seemed like a breakthrough. Now we're back on our heels again, but it won't last forever.

The pendulum always swings back, and it's always, thankfully, people like you, James, who make that happen. But even warriors like you need a rest.

So while I'm no Pollyanna and I weep for my country and state nearly every day, I try to remember that its temporary so that I don't give up. And you shouldn't either, amigo.

Take a step away. Try not to watch any of the echo-chamber or read anything online for a while. Work in the garden. Play golf. The pendulum is coming back our way. You'll see. You'll wake up one day soon, ready to fight the good fight again.

Sermon over.


Thanks, Syd

Taking a few weeks off has been a very useful break ... and it's also good to be back.