Goodbye Screwy Hoolie

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Hello. My name is Gordon Smith.

For over three years I've written here and elsewhere under the eponymous nickname, Screwy Hoolie. In June of 2004, you'll remember, Democrats had chosen the candidate most likely to lose to George W. Bush. The NC-11 Democratic establishment expended a minimum of effort for an amazing candidate, Patsy Keever, and she was on her way to a resounding defeat.

2004 was the year that Rush Limbaugh said of the torture at Abu Ghraib, " “I’m talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You ever heard of need to blow some steam off?”

It was the year that George W. Bush said, "They hate our freedom."

It was dark times for a country wrapped in post-traumatic fog and assaulted by Karl Rove, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and the War on Terror. Democrats were running for cover, surrendering as quickly as they could to avoid being called traitors by the likes of Bill Frist. Iraq was failing fast, but the corporate media continued to report as though questioning the President's strategy was unamerican. The corporate media and the government establishment were playing the worst kind of politics while the right wing noise machine spewed the worst sorts of rhetoric.

We Hooligans got together and created a blog, a place to put our thoughts, to share news, and to spew venom to match the poison coming out of Frank Luntz' Mighty Wurlitzer. As Markos Moulitsas put it recently, "Like any movement, we are maturing. We threw stones, got people’s attention, and perhaps a bit surprisingly, they listened."

They didn't listen right away, mind you, and there's still a great number who haven't grasped the fact that the political winds are changing. Here at Scrutiny Hooligans we created and sustained a months-long attack on the abominable record of Congressman Charles Taylor. We threw stones, and they listened. Sean Dalton, Taylor's Chief of Staff and campaign staffer became a regular reader. We had drinks together. We emailed and talked. Taylor's press secretary, a fine woman who has now lifted the yoke of Taylor's hypocrisy from her well-meaning shoulders, obsessed over our WNCNN videos. The Shuler campaign invited us in to interview the candidate, seeking to boost his credibility in progressive circles. If you Googled Charles Taylor, you found Scrutiny Hooligans. If you Googled Heath Shuler, you found us too. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington contacted us when they needed a local ally to help go after Taylor.

WNCNN became a staple for online NC-11 Democrats. Our passion didn't always make up for our inexperience, but we had a ton of fun. Asheville's URTV continues to run WNCNN clips as they have since October, 2006. Even my very Republican Silver Dollar waitress gave me a sly wink when she told me she'd seen me on TV.

WNCNN also covered very real news that had big impact:

- When the Asheville Citizen-Times was blasting Shuler for not appearing at a debate he'd never agreed to because it fell on his sacrosanct Sundays while withholding ink on the six community forums Taylor skipped, WNCNN covered Shuler's appearance at a debate that Charles Taylor no-showed. The "Every Day But Sunday" video was viewed over two thousand times.
- More than four thousand people watched John Edwards deliver an impassioned speech about the future of our nation.
- County Commissioner Carol Peterson denied secret meetings with Progress Energy and demonstrated a general lack of knowledge with the issues surrounding the power plant. It shocked most who watched it and nearly made pariahs of us. Repeat: Carol Peterson willingly interviewed with Drama Queen and refused the option to correct any inaccuracies in the final version.
- Nearly five thousand people watched our video of Karl Rove's appearance at the NC-11 Republican Convention.
- We provided the only coverage of the election for the Eleventh District Democratic Party Chair, and we got Chairman Hyde's statement of support for Paul Donohue and his ideas.
- We broke the story of Jeff Hunt's plans to run for the Republican nomination for Congress against Heath Shuler. On video.
- My friends and family played Peanut Butter Charlie Time again and again, much to the delight of their employees and their children.

Johnny Joe Rockslide, Sally Love, Mad Miss Mattie, and the rest of the WNCNN satire cast (including Brainshrub, syntax, photoshop guru, and Drama King) busied ourselves helping Shuler get elected and helping Democrats do the right thing. We threw stones, and, surprisingly, they listened.

Mountain Xpress picked up on our growing involvement, some quotes from the Oct. 11-17, 2006 edition help to illustrate my journey:

"By his own admissions, the political response to 9/11 left hard-core Democrat Gordon Smith feeling angry and powerless, "It was just fear and loathing before then, but then it became utter depression '04, and I just felt paralyzed" after the re-election of George W. Bush, he says.

Somewhere along the way, however, "I decided to stop being angry," says Smith, a therapist by profession. "It was eating me up. I found that action was the best antidote to that pessimism and disenfranchisement."

Our readership grew from a disgruntled few dozen to thousands every month. Community leaders, Party officers, and notorious rabble-rousers have become regular commenters on these pages. We're entirely surprised and grateful for all of the attention they've given Scrutiny Hooligans, even as I've lobbed rhetorical molotov cocktails into their living rooms.

Now it's August, 2007, and there is a sea change in the country and in the Democratic Party. While we're still miles off course, the Party's navigators have gotten wise to the fact that you can no longer ignore progressives and expect to win. When 7 Presidential candidates show up to get poked and prodded by 1,500 bloggers at Yearly Kos, you know that you're doing something right.

To quote Markos Moulitas once more, "None of us in this new coalition – the netroots activists, the issue groups, the party officials – None of us can win on our own. And we don’t need to. We have each other."

As I've striven to help oust corrupt Republicans, help elect Democrats, and help move the Democratic Party out of George Bush's shadow, I've been keenly aware of the power of language to make people sit up and take notice. Now that they've noticed, I reckon it's time I altered the way I communicate with them.

I blogged pseudonymously and liked the mystery of it, though I certainly never tried to keep my identity a secret, as you can learn from that fancy Googlin' machine. Being Screwy meant never having to say I was sorry and never pulling my punches at someone else's behest. A few months ago I realized that I had effectively completed a transformation, and this past weekend at Yearly Kos I made my decision.

After years of honing a blogging persona, I've come to embody much of what I've advocated. I've become willing to speak truth to power and gotten involved in the politics of my city, county, and district. I've volunteered on campaigns, written opinion pieces for the Citizen-Times, appeared on the radio and television. I've helped to found the excellent BlogAsheville community and helped to make Drinking Liberally an Asheville institution. I'm no longer intimidated by those who feel entitled to the power they're given by the people, be they politicians or journalists. I'm no longer cynical about what one person can do to make the world a better place. I'm hopeful and ready to move forward.

I'm Gordon Smith, and I'm here to retire Screwy Hoolie's number.

Don't worry. This doesn't mean an end to the snark or to the scrutiny. It simply means that I'm coming out from behind the pseudonym and owning my words. Scrutiny Hooligans has been an important catalyst in my life, leading me from frustration and anger to empowerment and hope.

This is likely the longest post I've ever written and certainly the most personal. I write it to let you all know what has been accomplished and what is yet to come. Thanks to everyone who has helped me along this political journey, especially my friends at BlogAsheville. You've empowered me to step into arenas I wouldn't have attempted on my own. I'm supporting Elaine Lite and Brownie Newman in their candidacies for City Council. There's a referendum on partisan elections I'd like to see go a certain direction. There's a District 11 Democratic Party that will need a lot of massaging before they see the light and invite progressives to the table in a meaningful way. The 2008 election cycle is just around the corner as well, and there will be a lot of work to do.


Nice to meet you, Gordon!

Very inspiring.

One of these days, I'll get around to converting myself to James . . . maybe sooner than later!

Another copycat :)

You know...a girl goes and tries to be original and look what happens. least you didn't all call yourselves Betsy. ;)

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.


We should have a day when we're all Betsy.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Oh...Goddess forbid

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.


Looks like this "self-outing" is contagious. No sooner do I send a quick email to the King of BlueNC, then "presto" my BlueNC name is James!

Any how . . . I have officially jumped on the Gordon Smith (and before him, Betsy Muse) bandwagon . . . and will henceforth be operating under my given name, which is James. My last name is Protzman, which I have never liked, which is why I'm going with the first name only.

But you can call me anything you want.

Yours truly,


Well done, Gordon

Well done.

Inspiring, I might add.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

You are such a freaking copycat :)

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Don't Leave Me!


I'll miss you too much - a rip roaring laugh riot - and effective!

Let us know the new in whatever you do. (Don't stop - just ... )

name that tune!

I met Screwy at the Shuler/Edwards event in H'ville

and Anglico at another event in Chappie Heel.. It's going to feel/feels strange referring to them, and Betsy too, by their real names. I guess I always used my real name cuz I am too stoopid to care what others might say. I just say what I think.

Anyway...James and Gordon and Betsy...the best part is just being able to call you friends.

SE NC Dems

Stan Bozarth

Aww Stan

That's so sweet. Funny, how folks here grow on you, isn't it? Some of the people who seem to understand me the most are people I've either never met or people I've spent time around at a conference or meetup.

I mean, honestly, once you've begun to spend too much time around me, you tire pretty quickly.....just ask Working for Change. :)

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.


If I agree I will probably get in trouble, and if I disagree then I am calling you a liar.

A conundrum indeed.

"Keep the Faith"

"Keep the Faith"

Good on ya.

I have never made much of an attempt here at BlueNC to hide who I am, as you said The Google. Yet, I am pretty sure that other than the regulars here my "true" identity is secret, which is good because my bosses boss would surely fire me.
: )

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

I'm a Lurking Instigator

Don't Out me. I won't be nearly as funny. Take my word for it. ;)

Besides - I'm changing my name as soon as I can afford it.

When I was growing up,

my parents called me the instigator. It turned out that most of the trouble that my brothers got into started out as my idea.

It was usually because I wanted to see what would happen if . . . and they were willing to give it a try.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Hi Gordon

nice meeting ya, although we've met once before at the DFA training weekend in Asheville last year. I'm sure you won't remember.

The only reason I never used my real name is because nobody will be able to pronounce it correctly.
I wonder if there are any other folks on here with the same problem?

Left on 49

Cabarrus Democrats

I'm too prone to an identity crisis

to use a pseudonym. ;-/

But I did tell someone the other day that my middle initial stood for "Caesar" (it's actually Charles), and the girl responded "Like the salad?"


Sorrounded by pedestrians.

I had a similar experience.

when I was working in a bookstore. A young girl came up to me looking for a book on the Beatles. "You know, the band Paul McCartney was in, before Wings." She was quite serious, too.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

I made a concious decision

to use my real name when I started posting here.

I have used "maiapinion" on other blog sites, and on my own blog, but I wanted to be sure from the first that I was willing to own my words and opinions here - that I would say nothing here that I wouldn't say to anyone in public.

I didn't want the anonymity that the web can sometimes afford. I thought I had done well, and people still need to know if it's L. Cloud or LC Loud.

So - for anyone who has missed it before - it's Linda Cloud.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

by any name, keep up the good work

It was a pleasure meeting you at Yearly Kos. North Carolina was very well represented by many fine bloggers there. I just am inspired by how much you are making a difference out in Asheville.

Don't give up your hooligan ways, Gordon!

I know...I liked SD

Most of my nicks came from my brothers and weren't very flattering. I finally found one I liked and go and change my name. Sigh ;)

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Thanks Screwy

I dont get much time to read BlueNC these days, and I never get to check Scrutiny Hooligans anymore, so thanks for cross posting this.

This is all very inspiring.

"Keep the Faith"

"Keep the Faith"

I really loved all those names.

No more Southern Dem, Drama Queen, Anglico or Screwy? I loved all those names. I knew who you were anyway and I am Nancy Miller if you didn't know. I hope to be doing more than reading the posts in a few weeks.


Draft Anglico

Dammit - if people don't know who Anglico is at this point, then they just aren't trying.

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

Yeah Syntax...and you have this added problem

If people knew who you really are you'd have groupies following you everywhere. :)

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.