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There's some underhanded shadiness going on in North Carolina. There's always some underhanded shadiness going on in North Carolina. Remember when Democrat Roy Cooper defeated anti-gay hatemonger and bathroom busybody Pat McCrory, and the GOP-controlled state legislature cooked up some bills to ensure Cooper had the same executive powers as the local dogcatcher? Well, it wouldn't be an election season without more shenanigans from the state.

Republican Mark Harris narrowly beat Democrat Dan McCready in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District. FiveThirtyEight's election forecast rated the race as a tossup. This was despite a partisan lean of almost 14 points in favor of Republicans. Unfortunately for Harris, the North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement hasn't certified his 905-vote "victory" over McCready and have no immediate plans to do so, either. The hold-up is related to a mounting evidence of fraud.


Election officials are investigating whether hundreds of absentee ballots were either illegally cast or illegally destroyed. According to sworn statements, voters in Bladen and Robeson counties, near the South Carolina border, claim people showed up at their homes and urged them to hand over their absentee ballots, sometimes without filling them out. Others say they received absentee ballots by mail that they had not requested. This is all very illegal.

There was an unusually high number of absentee ballots from Bladen County, in both the general election and the May 8 primary. Harris upset incumbent Rep. Robert Pittenger by 828 votes. This was good news because Pittenger is a Donald Trump-loving racist jerk, who declared that protestors of police violence were just jealous "because white people are successful and they're not." The bad news is that Harris is worse. In a 2013 sermon, the former pastor wondered if women working was the "healthiest pursuit for society." He suggested women "submit" to their husbands (he later claimed this was taken out of context). He also argued that no peace was possible between Jews and Muslims until they both converted to Christianity. He's not really an unfrozen caveman politician but was actually born in the 20th Century.

In his primary race, Harris won 96 percent of all absentee ballots in Bladen, a significantly higher percentage than his win in the county overall. But let's not immediately assume fraud like a common Paul Ryan.

In one sworn statement, Bladen County voter Datesha Montgomery attested that, on Oct. 12, a young woman came to her door and asked for her ballot, stating that she was collecting people's ballots in the area.

"I filled out two names on the ballot, Hakeem Brown for Sheriff and Vince Rozier for board of education," Montgomery wrote in the affidavit. "She stated the others were not important. I gave her the ballot and she said she would finish it herself. I signed the ballot and she left. It was not sealed up at any time."

OK, what?

Dan McCready released a statement Thursday regarding the State Election Board's decision not to certify the election results.

Harris gave an interview to Spectrum News Thursday where he delivered a Trump-tastic statement about the fraud allegations: "It's been out there. We were fully aware of it. There are some particularly unsavory people, particularly out in Bladen County, and I didn't have anything to do with them."

Election law expert Gerry Cohen said he found one precinct in Bladen County with some wonky results. In Bladenboro 2, 159 people voted by mail — 18 Democrats, 32 Republicans and 109 unaffiliated. Only four were black. That's not very consistent with the racial demographics of the state. Another 156 people requested absentee ballots but never returned them. Cohen described this as "a whole series of suspicious events." Wonkette describes that as the understatement of the year month okay the morning.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Seattle. However, he's more reliable for food and drink recommendations in Portland, where he spends a lot of time for theatre work. His co-adaptation of "Jitterbug Perfume" by Tom Robbins runs from March through May at Pioneer Square's Cafe Nordo.

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The producers of your favorite live-action Jack Chick pamphlet, "God's Not Dead" -- you know, the one where the Hercules dude plays an evil philosophy professor who tells all of his students on the first day that they are no longer allowed to believe in god? As all secular professors do? -- have come out with a thrilling new movie, all about how abortion is bad or whatever.

The movie tells the "true" story of Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic worker turned professional anti-choicer. Johnson has been a darling of the forced birth circuit ever since she made up ridiculous and provably false reasons for quitting the Planned Parenthood that was about to fire her for being bad at her job.

Basically, she claims that Planned Parenthood was pushing her to make more abortions happen so they could reel in more dough, and also that she witnessed (for the first time ever!) an ultrasound-guided abortion and saw the baby move from the light and then immediately realized that what she was doing was wrong.

The thing is, however -- no ultrasound-guided abortions were performed on the day she said it happened, and the only reason there was an uptick in abortions at her clinic was because they started offering the abortion pill on a daily basis (and had previously only been performing surgical abortions every other Saturday).

As you may have guessed, the movie does not address any of these things. It also looks very, very bad.

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Ever since Ruth Bader Ginsburg successfully underwent surgery for lung cancer, conservative sites and message boards have been trafficking in a ridiculous theory that she is actually dead and that there is some kind of Weekend at Bernie's-esque conspiracy to pretend she is still alive.

Now, one would think that her recent public appearance at a concert held in her honor would have put this to rest. Alas, it did not. Rather, the "researchers" (as they hilariously call themselves) determined that the concert was actually her funeral.

No. Really. That was a thing.

I admit that I gave this a lot more thought than I should have. Like, how did they think this would go? How long did they imagine this would go on for? Why would they risk having a full on funeral concert, open to the press? Wouldn't they just have not bothered to have a funeral at all? And what did these people think was going to happen when it was announced that she died for real? Or did they think that we were going to pretend that she is immortal and thus never announce her death? It's so confusing!

Being very up to date on the "RBG is secretly dead!" nonsense, I was very curious about which way the "anons" would go with this when they announced her return to work on Friday. They did not disappoint!

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