Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dear Erskine: Evesdropping on the Dirty Book Guy and the UNC president

If I ever got bored, all I'd have to do is check my inbox.

There, through the magic of a blind copy, I find things like this dialogue between Charlotte mayoral candidate Martin Davis (aka the Dirty Book Guy) and Erskine Bowles, president of the University of North Carolina system. Davis was complaining about UNCC Chancellor Phil DuBois. Here's an edited version.

Dear President Bowles: Chancellor Dubois is up to his old
tricks yet again. In an effort to assist pro-mass transit local government, last night he appeared before Charlotte City Council to indicate his public support for spending even more taxpayer money on yet another wasteful, unnecessary, public capital project which will benefit primarily the government institution he is being paid by the taxpayers to operate. This is just another example of blatant conflict of interest on
his part. You let him get away with exactly the same behavior several years ago during the campaign to repeal the half cent sales tax for transit, so I have no real hope you will take disciplinary action. An ethical, proper, just response would be to remove him. I won't hold my breath. Most Sincerely, Martin Davis 79' UNC-Chape Hill

Martin-- Thank you for writing me . I appreciate your taking
the time to express your point of view. I , however , don't see anything
"partisan " about Phil speaking out in favor of mass transit . In fact the
last time I was lucky enough to be home , our Mayor , a republican, and our County Commission Chair , a democrat , both spoke in favor of mass transit. I hope you will continue to let me hear your point of view. Erskine

Erskine: Not surprised you see nothing wrong with a public servant
using office to grow government at the expense of the taxpayers. At
the 4-27-2009 Charlotte City Council meeting, Dubois stated that one
the reason's to extend the light rail line to UNCC was to enable fans
to be able to ride to UNCC home football games. Our entire economic
system is collapsing because doctrinaire liberals like you, Dubois, the
Clinton's, the Bush family etc., have seized the reins of government
and spent us into oblivion. As the economy continues to deteriorate I
hope you and your friends take pleasure in what you have done to

Martin -- Thank you for writing . You may remember that when I was (White
House Chief of Staff), I negotiated with Speaker Gingrich and Senator Lott ,
the first balanced budget in a generation . In fact Speaker Gingrich has
often referred to me as a true fiscal conservative . Just thought you might
find that of interest. Erskine

Erskine: Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. I am happy you can recall
your extremely repressed, rational tendencies. I hope you will give
them free rein, remove Dubois from his sinecure, flee the Socialists
(Democrats), and join our band of true liberals here in Charlotte as we attempt
to bring sanity back to the political process. Sincerely, Martin

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Virginia Foxx calls Shepard case a "hoax'

As the U.S. House debated a hate crimes bill today, Rep. Virginia Foxx today called the case for which it's named "a hoax."

The House was poised to vote on the so-called Matthew Shepard bill, named for a 21-year-old gay man murdered in Wyoming in 1998. Supporters say he was the victim of a hate crime perpetrated because he was gay.

"The hate crimes bill that's called the Matthew Shepard bill is named after a very unfortunate incident that happened where a young man was killed," Foxx, a Banner Elk Republican, said on the House floor. "But we know that that young man was killed in the commitment of a robbery. It wasn't because he was gay. This -- the bill was named for him, hate crimes bill was named for him, but it's really a hoax that that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills."

Foxx's comments -- and reaction to them --- spread across the Internet.

"She should be ashamed," Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia told a reporter. "That is unreal, unbelievable. The law enforcement people and almost every reasonable person I know believes he was murdered because he was gay."

A spokesman later said Foxx used "a poor choice of words."

Shepard was killed after meeting two men in a Laramie, Wyoming bar. The two were later convicted. Some witnesses testified that Shepard was targeted because he was gay.

"The facts over the last decade ... more than speak for themselves," said Matt Comer, an organizer with Charlotte Rainbow Action Network for Equality. "Now she is trying to go back rewrite history, dishonor the life of Matthew Shepard. We cannot forget about the hate that is involved in crimes like this."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Perdue building bridges in Charlotte

A few months ago, you wouldn't exactly call it Democrat Bev Perdue's crowd: Charlotte's business leaders all gathered this afternoon at the Charlotte Chamber.

Among them was Perdue's erstwhile opponent, Republican Mayor Pat McCrory, who surely got the majority of votes from this hometown crowd.

But Perdue, who announced a handful of job training and economic development initiatives, appears to be building bridges in the city. She narrowly carried Mecklenburg County, but largely on the strength of the Barack Obama vote.

Her remarks today capped visits earlier in the day to the big banks and an unemployment office. Last month she was here to announce the move of GMAC's headquarters to Charlotte and open a regional governor's office -- the city's first.

"We've seen a lot of her in the first three months," said Chamber President Bob Morgan. "It's very reminiscent of Gov. (Jim) Hunt, who was very present here. She obviously has even taken it another level with the physical presence of her office, with the regular outreach she and her staff are making to Charlotte."

Even McCrory, who shared what appeared to be a warm greeting with the governor, offered a kind of compliment.

"In comparison with the last administration," he said, "the experience has been a very positive sign."

Perdue's predecessor, Democrat Mike Easley, was rarely seen in the Queen City.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Before Obama, Hugo Chavez was shaking hands in Hickory

President Obama's handshake with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez during a summit of Western Hemisphere leaders left many Republicans steaming.

Republican senator John Ensign of Nevada called it "irresponsible for the President to be seen kind of laughing and joking with Hugo Chavez." Even the former vice president weighed in.

But eight years ago this week, it was a Republican laughing and joking with Chavez -- in of all places, Hickory.

It was the only U.S. stop Chavez made on his way back from a Summit of the Americas in Quebec. He spent two days with then-GOP Rep. Cass Ballenger, who hosted a barbecue dinner for the leftist leader at his home. The two also toured several businesses, including Ballanger's, and visited a day care center.

Ballenger, chairman of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee of International Relations, had met Chavez on a trip to Venezuela and said the two "hit it off."

Chavez took home a pair of baseball socks made for him at Catawba County Community College and a favorable impression of at least one corner of America.

"We've seen Cass' business, we spoke with his workers," Chavez said at the time. "This should be the idea of capitalism."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Stagecraft and Charlotte's mayoral race

Democrat Anthony Foxx hopes to win Charlotte's mayor's race by building on the energy from Barack Obama's local campaign. When he formally announced today, he showed he's at least got the stagecraft down.

TV risers faced a podium at West Charlotte high school. Directly behind the podium was a small bleacher with an appropriately diverse collection of supporters.

A disembodied voice introduced speakers, who entered from behind the kind of blue curtain common in Obama's and other presidential campaigns. One speaker, Joan Martin -- sister-in-law of former GOP Gov. Jim Martin -- introduced a biographical video. Then former Mayor Harvey Gantt introduced Foxx.

After the candidate himself spoke, the sound system blared Curtis Mayfield's "Move on up."

All this was different from earlier city campaigns, where candidates usually say their piece with little fanfare. "Who would have thought 10 years ago we'd have had a video for a city race," said Foxx supporter and longtime Democrat Steven Porter.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Davidson prof joins Obama administration

Russell Crandall, a Davidson College political scientist, is returning to Washington next week for a job in the Defense department.

On April 20, Crandall will the department's Principal Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs. Among other things, he'll serve as liasion to the State Department and other agencies.

During his eight years at Davidson, Crandall has written five books about U.S. foreign policy in the hemisphere. In 2004 and 2005, he served as the Director for the Western Hemisphere at George W. Bush's National Security Council. Prior to that he was a counter-terrorism advisor at the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Along with his foreign policy credentials, Crandall is also the Traffic/Block Captain in Charlotte's Elizabeth Community Association.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Selling conservatism with bumper stickers

Loren Spivack is trying to resurrect the conservative movement. One bumper sticker at a time.

Spivack, 42, just opened “Free Market Warrior” kiosks at Carolina Place Mall in Pineville and at a mall in Hickory.

Among the merchandise are conservative-themed bumper stickers (“I’ll be as gracious to your president as you were to mine”), T-shirts and bobble-heads.

A Massachusetts native, he launched his business on the Web. He just moved to Charlotte to set up shop after studying the region’s demographics and voting patterns.

He votes Republican but says his main loyalty is to free market principles he sees being eroded. He doesn’t have much patience for Washington politicians of either party.

Spivack says the “next step of revolution” is for Republicans to regain control of Congress, then go after that party which he says “lost its way.”

“I’m doing my part to help out,” he says. “It has to start from the grassroots.”