Kenneth Starr, Jesse Helms, and Bill Clinton

As Donald Trump continues his I Love the 90s tour, it’s instructive to look back and remember some of the details relating to the impeachment of our 42nd president

Kenneth Starr was a pivotal character in the impeachment of Bill Clinton. He had been appointed as a special investigator to look into Whitewater. For those of you not old enough to remember, Whitewater was the Benghazi of it’s time: Conservatives relentlessly pursued it, knowing that it would end the Clintons. In the end, nothing was there. There’s a reason that Donald Trump doesn’t add this to the litany of Hillary’s sins. Even he knows the witch hunt was bollocks

It seems impossible to believe, but the expansion of the Whitewater investigation lead us down the primrose path to the discovery of Monica Lewinsky and her affair with President Clinton. Conservatives were so enraged at Bill Clinton and his “far left” policies that they went to great lengths to try to destroy him, politically. One of the political figures most intent on destroying Clinton was North Carolina’s senior senator, Jesse Helms

Helms served thirty years in the United States Senate and delighted his supporters by mocking Ted Kennedy and, generally, opposing anything that didn’t help Big Tobacco. Helms said no quite frequently and he said it loudly. This earned him the title of “Senator No”, which he wore proudly

By the time the 90s dawned, Mr. Helms needed some new material. His homophobia still scored points for the fans, but he needed a little something that let him pivot and refresh his act. Enter Slick Willie

Bill Clinton stood in stark contrast to Jesse Helms. He was handsome, well-spoken, Ivy educated…hell, Bill Clinton had even been to Europe…AND LOVED IT! Jesse Helms made it his life’s work to hound Bill and Hillary Clinton, with some help from his buddy Lauch Faircloth

In one particular episode, Mr. Helms said that if Mr. Clinton was so popular on military bases in North Carolina that “he’d better have a bodyguard” if the president visited. Mr. Helms quickly called the comment “a mistake”, but his fans loved it

And, so it was, that when it came time to appoint a special investigator to Whitewater, Mr. Helms made sure his lawyer buddy from the Big Tobacco wars was put in charge: Mr. Starr

Mr. Starr has been in the news a bit recently. First, he made some surprising comments about the man who was impeached, in great part, thanks to his efforts

His genuine empathy for human beings is absolutely clear. It is powerful, it is palpable. The folks of Arkansas really understood that

 

Umm…thanks? I can only imagine the mix of emotion that must have entered Bill Clinton’s mind when he read that

Also, Kenneth Starr may or not still be president of Baylor University

So, you see, when you see Donald Trump revisiting Monica Lewinsky and the impeachment of Bill Clinton, it’s another great gift from the wellspring that is/was Jesse Helms. His legacy lives long and now his words are coming out of the mouth of a tangerine billionaire

On behalf of the citizens of North Carolina, you’re welcome

Some Good News About North Carolina’s HB2

On Wednesday’s Brad & Britt Podcast, we discussed a story about Braeburn Pharma deciding against cancelling an expansion in the state. From the article:

In the company’s statement, Sheldon said that she elected to keep the company in North Carolina after meeting with Attorney General Roy Cooper, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate who urged Braeburn to stay in the state and fight discrimination.

“The Attorney General argued that Braeburn could help more by advocating from within North Carolina than by protesting through departure,” the statement said

This indicates good news for North Carolinians who have been fighting HB2 for two months. Business leaders may get the message that they can talk to someone other than the governor for reassurance. This could mean that some business leaders don’t have confidence that McCrory will be North Carolina’s governor next year (Cooper is mounting a stiff challenge and is the Democratic nominee for North Carolina’s top office)

The state had previously enjoyed a progressive, pro-business reputation going back decades to leadership provided by governors like Terry Sanford and Jim Hunt. It is difficult to gauge the exact economic impact from HB2, but multiple stories have told stories of companies cancelling plans to come to North Carolina and organizations cancelling plans to hold gatherings in the state

In the next six months, Cooper and McCrory will mount a vigorous campaign for the office. Cooper will be able to tout the fact that Braeburn was given comfort by him at a time when the chips were down. This could be very helpful in reaching out to traditionally Republican voters and independent voters, who may not be engaged on LGBT issues, but are concerned about the negative economic impact of HB2. This will be key to Cooper’s campaign if he is to get beyond the Liberal vs. Conservative paradigm

This could amount to a “lack of confidence” vote from the business community for McCrory, which could mean bad news for the governor in November

Pat McCory’s Poll Numbers: Worse Than You Think

Many people are talking about the new Elon University poll, showing Governor McCrory trailing trailing Attorney General Roy Cooper 48-42 (with a 4% margin of error) ahead of their November showdown. Matthew Winkler of Bloomberg is scratching his head because Pat’s commitment to HB2 has hindered his ability to tell the “Carolina Comeback” story. SLOW DOWN, MATTHEW! Even before McCrory signed the “Bathroom Bill” into law, he was a fairly unpopular governor, who faced stiff competition from a seasoned, organized foe. With Donald Trump on top of the ticket, the uphill climb would probably be too great. With Ted Cruz, still tough, but doable

When you go back in history and examine North Carolina’s gubernatorial races, you see that the bad news is even more profound for McCrory. Since 1980, incumbent governors have run for re-election four times (winning all four contests) and they averaged 57.25% of the statewide vote. Even if we take away Jim Hunt’s gaudy numbers (62% in 1980 and 56% in 1996), we get to a level of support that’s 55.5%. Even if we give McCrory all four points in the margin of error, that only gets him to 46%, which is a little less than Richard Vinroot did in 2000 against Mike Easley, but a little better than Patrick Ballantine did against Easley four years later (Jim Martin’s 55% is the worst performance by an incumbent since 1980)

But, what is the absolute floor for Pat McCrory in November? It’s a safe bet that he’ll outperform Beverly Lake’s 37% in 1980.If we throw that one out, the second-place finisher in North Carolina has done no better than 43% (which was what McCrory’s challenger Walter Dalton earned in 2012). But, remember, those were all non incumbents, who faced major obstacles in terms of basic resources like name recognition. Jim Gardner in 1992 and Robin Hayes in 1996 both were fairly well-known to followers of state politics, but they didn’t have the name recognition of Jim Hunt. That’s probably why each garnered only 43% of the vote

The Cooper campaign must be ecstatic. Cooper has floated around Raleigh for a while, but he doesn’t have the name recognition of Pat McCrory, who was fairly well-known as Mayor of Charlotte before mounting a losing then a winning campaign for governor

Curiously, North Carolina’s gubernatorial races haven’t been terribly close in the past 36 years, with the exception of McCory’s losing effort, a 50-47 affair in 2008

Of course, there’s a lot of ground to cover until November and many factors simply can’s be accounted for. North Carolina’s Voter ID law will be in effect for the first time in a general election. These laws have traditionally knocked a couple of points off of Democratic totals. We also don’t know who will be on top of the Republican ticket come November. Political experts say that a Trump nomination could depress GOP turnout. A Cruz nomination would only be a little more helpful to McCrory. And, of course, any number of catastrophic events could change the election. But, still, Cooper’s got to be happy about his standing six months ’til judgment day

It remains to be seen if a repeal of HB2 would help McCrory much. At this point, the damage may already be done. But, before we get too cocky about Roy Cooper’s chances, remember a North Carolina incumbent governor hasn’t been defeated since 1892…which is a tad misleading because the position was a one (term) and done proposition until the state constitution was amended, allowing Hunt to run for a second term in ’80

Beating an incumbent is never an easy task and the Cooper campaign would probably be happy with a neck-and-neck performance, at this point. As it is, they’re ahead of the game. But, we’ve got a lot of game left to be played

A Thousand Words

 

Photo credit: Mark Binker, WRAL.com (twitter.com/binker)
Photo credit: Mark Binker, WRAL.com (twitter.com/binker)

What you see above is a man who finally understands that his empire is crumbling. We’ve been given few glimpses in history to the exact moment that someone realizes it’s over. Governor Pat McCrory finally realized he had followed a path of doom around 1:30 pm on April 19th, 2016. That’s when he was informed that the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against barring Gavin Grimm, who was born a woman, but identifies as a man, from using the men’s restroom. Legal experts say that the ruling puts North Carolina’s controversial HB2 out of commission

Maxine Eichner, a University of North Carolina law professor who is an expert on sexual orientation and the law, said the ruling — the first of its kind by a federal appeals court — means the provision of North Carolina’s law pertaining to restroom use by transgender students in schools that receive federal funds also is invalid

“The effects of this decision on North Carolina are clear,” she said, adding that a judge in that state will have no choice but to apply the appeals court’s ruling

Already, some are comparing the McCrory pic to this

Andy Card tells President Bush America has been attacked
Andy Card tells President Bush America has been attacked

Shortly after 9:00 am on September 11th, 2001, President George W. Bush was told by Chief-of-Staff Andrew Card that planes has crashed into the World Trade Center. That wasn’t the photo that struck me when I saw McCory’s moment. This one was

Y.A. Tittle

That is Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Tittle, photographed on September 20, 1964 as a member of the New York Giants, after being hit by John Baker of the Pittsburgh Steelers at the old Pitt Stadium. Tittle suffered a concussion and a cracked sternum on the play. He would play the rest of the season, but the once-mighty Giants finished with worst record in the league. In 1963, he threw 36 TD passes (a record that stood until Dan Marino broke it in 1984) and earned MVP honors. The next year, he was done

The photo became one of the most celebrated sports photographs of the entire 20th century. It captured a celebrated athlete at a moment of vulnerability, at a time when sports media portrayed football players as masked gladiators, conquering any obstacle they pleased. Humanity wasn’t part of the equation in 1964. Tittle would be tagged as “weak” and “helpless” for many year thanks to his moment captured in time

Ironically, the photo was beneficial to Baker, who used it when he ran for Sheriff of Wake County, NC (where he was born and raised) in 1978. He won and served for 25 years. Wake County is where Pat McCrory lives…for a little while longer

It was only yesterday that the fresh-faced former Mayor Pat took the oath-of-office and became the monstrous Governor Pat. Currently, North Carolina is a national punchline and McCrory shoulders a large portion of the blame. He continues to squawk that his solutions are “common sense”. He goes on television with a smile that’s so forced that it’s surely been applied with a sandblaster. Mr. Binker’s picture is a true glimpse inside McCrory’s soul. The consultants are far away and he’s trapped with his own thoughts. The neurons fire rapidly and he searches for the moment it all went wrong

Back to our friend, Mr. Tittle: He finally learned to embrace that awful photo. In 2009, he put it on the back cover of his autobiography. He told the Los Angeles Times

That was the end of my road. It was the end of my dream. It was over

Pat McCrory has just awoken from his dream. Let’s hope North Carolina is about to awake from it’s nightmare

 

McCrory Discovers Privacy

Republicans in North Carolina are in full “pushback” mode from criticism over the passage of HB2 last week. As the negative economic impact of the controversial law becomes clearer, Governor McCrory and other proponents have stepped up their p.r. game. Senator Phil Berger launched standwithmccrory.com to help supporters of HB2 network and express their thanks to the Governor McCrory. The website features this image

McCrory Bathroom

which turns North Carolina’s Chief Executive into “The Guardian of the Crapper”. I’m very interested in how they cast the creepy, lurking guy in the background. Was it a Craig’s List ad?:

Wanted: Creepy-looking, somewhat ethically ambiguous pseudo-Caucasian guy. Must look like the guy who spent a little too much time looking at your wee wee in the shower after 8th-grade gym. Also, must be a tad more sinister looking than the governor of the state of North Carolina

Also, it doesn’t help that they picked a shot of McCrory that looks like he’s straining as if to…well, you know

Another great “pushback’ initiative is this video, which looks like it was shot by a mid 40s dad, who was trying out his iPhone upgrade

Governor McCrory looks into the camera earnestly and appeals to North Carolinians to put away the rancorous politics and work for solutions to make HB2 better

  1. You created the rancor. This is sort of like the guy who cut one decrying the lack of air quality in the car. He who smelt it, dealt it, guv
  2. Why does it need to be fixed? You didn’t sign an unsustainable bill into law just for political gain, did you, Pat?

Previously, I looked at McCrory’s curious, consultant-driven use of language and I found an interesting tidbit in his 5-minute “Pushback Video”. He uses the phrase “expectation of privacy” three times, which I found very interesting. First, because I’ve never, personally, had much of an expectation of privacy when I use a public restroom. It has the word public right before the word restroom and that lets me know that, in many cases, people can walk in while I’m doing my business and they can see me in the throes of answering nature’s call. So, my “expectation of privacy” isn’t much

But, when I’m having a medical procedure done, that’s a different story

You see, Mr. McCrory signed a bill into law last year that would have some interesting consequences on women seeking abortions

The bill also requires doctors who perform abortions in which the fetus is older than 16 weeks to send an image of the ultrasound and other information to the state Department of Health and Human Services. No other state requires that

And, gosh, we know that stuff that’s sent to government entities never gets leaked to the public. And who knows who might see these images in the doctor’s office and as HHS. So, it seems, when it comes to privacy, Mr. McCrory’s concern ends at the urinal

But, hey, at least he’s not advocating that women who get an abortion be punished, like the (likely) guy at the top of the ballot. Well, at least, he isn’t yet

But, this wasn’t Pat’s first crack at putting restrictions on the procedure. In 2013, the state passed the infamous “Motorcyle Abortion” law, which made the agonizing, private decision of some women even more difficult. It may be difficult to remember this one, as it was many belly laughs ago, but it was one of the governor’s first forays into making the state he (allegedly) loves into a national punchline

You see, the word “privacy” has been, traditionally, a word that’s been used by pro-choice groups. While there is not an explicit “right to privacy”, the Supreme Court of the United States found that the Fourteenth Amendment, informed by the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Ninth Amendments formed a de facto Right to Privacy in Roe v. Wade. I won’t bore you further with the legalize because we’re talking about language. Thus, the mantle of “privacy” has been carried as a banner by groups who advocate that abortion should be kept safe and legal. That is why it’s quite curious that an anti-choice governor like Pat McCrory should co-opt the language for his own purposes here

I expect that McCrory will continue down this path and claim that his vision advocates for a “freedom of choice”. The freedom to choose a urinal where you can be free from the prying eyes of some “creepy lurker” (see above pic) who just wants look at your willy. Something like that

It’s not that I dislike privacy, Pat. It’s just that I think a woman should have a greater expectation of it when she goes to the doctor than I do when I’m hitting the head at Applebee’s