Wednesday, February 27, 2008

William Buckley's tribute to Gov. Jim Martin

Conservative columnist, editor, ideologue and author William F. Buckley, surely one of the wittiest writers in the opinion business in the 20th century, died Wednesday. He had a great many talents, including a knack for financing his transoceanic sailing vacations by writing books about them.
Perhaps less well known was his affinity for and skill in playing the harpsichord and the piano (not the tuba, as my earlier post here mistakenly said).
In fact, he once took part in a musical tribute to former Gov. Jim Martin, himself a tuba player.
Here’s Dean Smith’s story from the Observer in 1990:

Whether Jim Martin is remembered as a governor of North Carolina 20 years from now, he will be remembered as a tuba player. The N.C. Symphony and conservative commentator William F. Buckley Jr. are making sure of that.
In a gala concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Raleigh`s Memorial Auditorium, the orchestra will dedicate its new Governor and Mrs. James G. Martin Principal
Tuba Chair. Money raised by the benefit concert will help start a permanent
$100,000 endowment to perpetuate the tuba position.
Long before Martin became governor, he was the principal tuba player in the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra.
His musical career in Charlotte lasted five years, from 1961 to 1966, and
he returned in 1989 to play a fund-raising concert for the Arts and Science
In the concert Wednesday, Buckley, an outspoken writer, columnist and
television host, will be the soloist in a performance of J.S. Bach`s Concerto No. 5 in F Minor for Harpsichord and Orchestra. He will also narrate a
performance of Aaron Copland`s ``Lincoln Portrait.``
Violinist Nicholas Kitchen, a Durham native who is becoming increasingly
well-known on the national music scene, will be the soloist in Saint-Saens`
Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso for Violin and Orchestra.
And David Lewis, who now occupies the chair that will hold the spotlight
for the evening, will be the soloist in a performance of Vaughan Williams`
Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra.

Wednesday afternoon, Martin said of Buckley, "He was quite an intellect and a mover.... His real contribution was powering the intellectual side of the movement."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

House determined to move on Wright

House determined to move on Wright
For a long time you couldn’t have moved the state House with a bulldozer and a dragline over allegations of misdeeds by then-Speaker Jim Black and those close to his leadership team, including former Rep. Michael Decker.
Black and Decker are serving time in federal prison these days. And now you couldn’t stop a House committee looking into charges of campaign finance misdeeds by state Rep. Thomas Wright, D-New Hanover, an ally of the former speaker.
Rep. Wright has been indicted by a Wake County grand jury on charges of failing to report receiving or spending up to $350,000 in campaign contributions over the years. His trial on those charges was to have begun in early March, but Superior Court Judge Henry Hight postponed the trial to a date to be determined so Rep. Wright’s lawyer can finish examining thousands of pages of exhibits prosecutors may use against his client.
But a House ethics committee considering whether to sanction Rep. Wright is pushing forward with its own inquiry and doesn’t intend to delay its proceedings, said committee chairman Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland. Monday the committee issued 11 subpoenas for witnesses in a hearing to be held on Rep. Wright. The process could lead to Rep. Wright’s expulsion from the General Assembly, though one of his attorneys has argued the House doesn’t have that power.
Prof. Irving Joyner, an NC Central law professor, has also argued the House shouldn’t move now on Wright because it would unfairly prejudice the criminal case against him in Wake Superior Court. But Glazier wasn’t buying that argument. The charges against Wright damage the reputation of the General Assembly and also deprive Wright’s constituents of effective representation.
Hmmmmm. That’s pretty much the same arguments that many of Speaker Black’s critics were making in the long run-up to federal and state charges against him and his subsequent guilty pleas and resignation from the House.
Meanwhile, Wright is running for re-election, and the speculation is whether Wright can win renomination for another term before the House formally sanctions him – or before there’s a verdict in his trial in Wake Superior Court. Stay tuned.
And by the way: Yes, Prof. Joyner is the same lawyer who did much of the work 30 years ago on the case of the Wilmington 10, where he represented Rep. Wright’s brother Joe, who was falsely accused and sent to prison on charges of firebombing a grocery store in Wilmington in 1971. Courts later overturned his conviction.
{Wednesday addition: I should have said Joyner represented the interests of Joe Wright and the other members of the Wilmington 10; Joyner was director of the United Church of Christ's Commission on Racial Justice at the time and was instrumental in focusing public attention on the Wilmington 10 and urging their release. He was critical of then-Gov. Jim Hunt's decision not to pardon the 10, though Hunt did cut their sentences, including Joe Wright's.]
Joyner also was vice chair of the Wilmington Race Riot Commission, which oversaw the legislature’s investigation into the 1898 overthrow by white supremacists of the legally elected Fusionist government in Wilmington that comprised Republicans and black citizens. That investigation also explored the role of the state’s leading newspapers, The Charlotte Observer and the News & Observer of Raleigh, in pushing the white supremacist campaign along.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dick Spangler an out-of-towner? Hmmmm

You never know what you’ll hear in this business, but it’s frequently entertaining. So it was when my colleague Mary Schulken got an email from a reader unhappy with her column noting that former UNC President Bill Friday and former UNC President C.D. Spangler were going to drop by UNC Charlotte to tell the faculty about their reservations on a proposal to create a football team at UNCC.
Among other things, the reader said:
“These Chapel Hill men have no idea what Charlotte is capable of. Charlotte is unique to the rest of the state in many ways. If we wanted the opinion of someone from another part of NC, we would have asked for it. Having men like Spangler come here and look down on us with a patronizing attitude from out-of-town is an insult and a joke."
That’s interesting, isn’t it? Dick Spangler an out-of-towner? Who knew?
Perhaps the reader is from somewhere else and doesn’t know. But Bill Friday himself was reared next door in the Gaston County town of Dallas and knows his way around this part of the state as well as any North Carolinian.
And Dick Spangler, of course, lives in Charlotte, grew up in Charlotte, is the son of a Charlotte builder, built his own businesses into one of the country’s most impressive fortunes in Charlotte, maintains a home in Charlotte, chaired the school board in Charlotte, goes to church in Charlotte, gives money to charities in Charlotte...the whole deal. He has a home in Chapel Hill, too, but he’s as Charlottean as you can get.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Did bridge ad backfire?

That was a pretty funny ad that state Treasurer and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Moore emailed to thousands of voters a few weeks ago. It showed a distinct lack of traffic on a $120 million bridge over the Trent and Neuse Rivers in Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue’s home town of New Bern. Perdue, of course, was influential in building the bridge and liked to call it hers. And she’s also running for governor.
Moore’s ad was compelling because it contrasted the lack of traffic on the New Bern bridge with traffic jams in Charlotte and elsewhere, suggesting that politics was involved and ought not to have been. (The ad also used a clip from the Eagles’ “Life in the Fast Lane,” which so annoyed Don Henley that he and his wife sent $4,000 contributions to Perdue.)
That ad was memorable. But I dunno if it was effective. Thing is, there are a hell of a lot of North Carolinians for whom that bridge was a vast improvement over the old impossible traffic jams that used to occur in New Bern. And it was scary when a hurricane blew up and threatened to come across the area. There was no good way to get out, just as there was no fast way through the town in good weather. Either you went cross town and endured a procession of stoplights, or you doubled back across the Trent River, first risking getting held up by a downtown drawbridge, and then you took your chances on the old long bridge across the Neuse to Bridgeton. There were hideous traffic jams there when boat traffic on the Neuse required the halting of auto traffic, too.
The new bridge was built for the future. It allows plenty of room for power and sailboats to pass beneath without disrupting traffic. And it opened up Pamlico County across the river to a level of development and prosperity it would not otherwise have seen. That may be good or bad, but it definitely enabled travelers from Western and Piedmont North Carolina to cut a hefty chunk of travel time from their trips.
I imagine the Moore campaign feels it made a good point with motorists who are forever stuck in traffic in urban areas – but that ad may have lost Moore votes from folks who remember the bad old days when it could take an hour or more to crawl through New Bern on the way to hunting, fishing or sailing somewhere Down East.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Readers sound off about water

Readers sound off about a column on lack of water planning:
I recently displayed our Mirage water makers and Vortex water treatment units at the Atlanta and Charlotte Home Shows.
Most attendees did not even recognize that there was a drought. Many did not believe that the Mirage unit was capturing clean drinking water from the humidity in the air. Some folks even asked why we would bother to do that.
Many folks tasted the water and admitted it tasted different without chemicals, iron and sulfur in it.
We gave out 30 gallons in samples made right at the show from a unit making 20 gallons a day.
If the political leaders are not interested in investigating alternative sources of a re-useable resource then why should the taxpayers.
Jackson County is about to spend $750,000 to install a pipeline to bring water to a few homes in Sylva, NC that have a benzene contaminated well. I offered to put in place a Vortex system at no charge to test its efficiency in removing the Benzene. If it works the cost would save the State taxpayers 90% of that cost.
NO ONE was interested enough to even look at it. The Vortex uses no chemicals(salt) or filters and has virtually no maintenance. The Greeks used it successfully 2000 years ago
We have hundreds of such systems in place for more than 7 years in Homes, ranches and farms in Texas providing drinking water to even entire communities but North Carolinians would rather wait for the Government to solve the problem with higher costs and less water.
Please check out our Web site at
Thank you,
John Battaglia/CEO/MVM Mftr, Inc.
Southport NC
From Dave Moreau, author of the 1993 report recommended conservation, among other strategies:
Thanks for remembering the report. I would be happy to talk to you
about the present state of preparedness for managing droughts and
long-term conservation. Our cities have done a good job of reducing water use by eliminating outdoor use, but they have had only modest success in reducing indoor use. Our experience is about the same as in California, the Northeast and other areas that have experienced prolonged droughts. A major challenge faces cities from Raleigh to Charlotte if we don’t get relief soon. Neither these cities nor the State of North Carolina are well prepared to manage the situation if they have to reduce use by more than 20 percent. Action is needed now to get better prepared for just such a situation. We hope no city has to go there, but they should be prepared to do so if necessary.
From a reader in Raleigh:
Great piece in today’s N&O "Other Opinion" page 9A. Please forward an autographed copy to Charles “What Me Worry?" Meeker. It’s early, so my guess is that he’s still in bed with the developers. Perhaps this would wake him up along with his coffee this morning....
Jon Gibson

From Chapel Hill:

Dr. Dan Okun, who recently passed away, was a professor and colleague of mine from the UNC School of Public Health. He was not only a visionary but an advocate of dual water supplies. Many areas of the US do not have the fresh water resources of NC and many also have higher population densities, such as Florida. However, they do not have the type of shortages we have simply because they have a reuse system that insures an adequate potable water supply.
NC actually has rules and regulations that are impediments to this very easy solution to our water supply problems. Legislation to encourage new developments to include the infrastructure for this system is straight forward.
I am a developer in North Chatham County and every development I work with tries to implement this strategy. In addition, this methodology has the advantage of also helping to solve wastewater and potable water quality problems that affect many areas of our State.
Please contact me if you are interested in helping with initiatives I have been working on to implement appropriate legislation and publicize information on dual water supplies.
M. Travis Blake
Blake & Associates, Inc.
Chapel Hill, NC 27517
From an NC reader:
I am very concerned about the drought and read most articles about it. It seems all I ever read is ‘gloom and doom’ as well as ‘finger pointing’ as to why but I never read about long term solutions??
One idea I have is never mentioned – “Tap into the ever-rising oceans, build a desalinization plant in Eastern NC and pipe water across the whole state into Tennessee.
This would service river basins feeding NC, SC, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida and Alabama.
All SE states can share in the cost.
Pipline can be built to best service neediest area and possibly solve the drought problem forever.
Am I far off base? I’ve seen small Caribbean islands with this process as their only solution to drinking water.
If this idea is improbable then I’d like to read more of what is anyone doing to solve the problem.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Remembering the 'Mouth of the South'

Former Charlotte sportscaster Bill Currie died late Monday in Washington State, but the memory of his days as the voice of the Tar Heels will live on with every Carolina fan who heard him talk. Caulton Tudor of the News & Observer had a good column today
on the man Sports Illustrated once dubbed the Mouth of the South. And Robert Dvorchak had this column in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
For my money, Currie was a wordsmith. His often-flamboyant ways – he once described a slow game as about as exciting as artificial insemination – masked gems of the uttered art. My favorite is what he once said about former UNC point guard Dick Grubar around 1969 or ’70, I guess. Grubar was an extremely poised floor leader who always seemed to know where his next pass would go – while looking in another direction.
Grubar, Currie said, was “cooler than the other side of the pillow.”
Got any memories of Bill Currie you’d like to share?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Easley sounds like a candidate

For a politician who professes no interest in running for higher public office, Gov. Mike Easley sure sounded like a candidate with a message and a healthy dose of ambition to move on up in the political world Tuesday.
Easley, who is serving his last year as governor, proposed that N.C. State University develop a powerful new lithium ion battery to power all-electric cars capable of going 150 miles on one 50-cent charge. The battery – which he dubbed the “Wolfpack Powerpack” – and other materials would be developed at the Advanced Transportation Energy Center at N.C. State. Meanwhile, partners Progress Energy and Duke Energy would develop a grid of quick-recharge centers across the state where travelers could recharge their batteries, or even transfer power back into the electricity grid to be resold.
The battery would be developed within two to five years; potential car makers would have vehicles ready just as soon as the power pack could be developed, he suggested. The state has already applied for two hefty grants, while the center would require a $1 million annual appropriation once it gets going to support its research.
“The new energy economy is out there waiting for someone to pluck it from the vine,” Easley said in one of his most animated speeches in recent memory. “Let the word go forth that we are ready to develop the Wolfpack Powerpack.... Let’s get ‘er done.”
Easley’s speech – with its national implications for North Carolina joining the front ranks of green energy research and development as well as practical transportation alternatives – immediately raised the question whether the governor has national ambitions after all. He made his suggestion at N.C. State’s 23rd annual Emerging Issues Forum. Monday, Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr spoke at the first day of the annual event after telling reporters that he would be amenable to considering being U.S. Sen. John McCain’s running mate on the GOP presidential ticket.

Friday, February 08, 2008

NC trading path, politics and painting

One of the things I love about the winter is the ability to see things you can’t in the spring, summer and fall. I spend as much time out of doors as I can, and up in the Blue Ridge where we’re building a home on the (it turns out) five-year plan, the winter landscape reveals more than just how the land rises and falls.
With the trees stripped of their leaves and the winter winds pulling down dead branches and thinning the undergrowth, you also see the game trails that deer and other four-footed creatures use to get down to the pond or over to the confluence of the creek. And you can clearly see the old logging roads that the Connors and Woods used when they operated a saw mill up there more than half a century ago. On weekend hikes it’s a lot easier to follow the old Brammer Spur Road as it begins to snake down towards Woolwine, or the Connors’ Spur Road that once led over and back down the mountain.
So when I first began reading the blog maintained by the Trading Path Association ( and learning about the group’s First Sunday hikes, I knew they enjoyed those winter walks as much as I do. Last weekend they planned to hike in the Duke Forest, a lovely area I spent a lot of time in during my college years at Chapel Hill.
Here’s a snippet from a recent post, about plans for a hike near what they believe to be “part of ‘Hartford,’ a community planned by Thomas Hart, a crony of Governor Tryon, Edmund Fanning, and Judge Henderson (of Louisa and Transylvania Company fame). Plotting the road remnants in the area now indicates the existence of a major 18th century road nexus, perhaps, atop a pre-wagon infrastructure. Recently the North Carolina DOT erected a historical marker near here to note a Revolutionary War engagement at Hart’s mill.”
The post went on to say it’s part of an area where a famous U.S. senator spent his boyhood days: “And if that isn’t enough, Thomas Hart Benton [Thomas Hart's grand nephew] played all over this land in his youth, before he was thrown out of UNC and his family moved west. You’ll recall that he achieved everlasting fame for brokering the Missouri compromise in an attempt to avoid civil war. How he found himself to be a senator from Missouri is another wonderful story tied to the old landmarks at Hartford. One of these days, maybe we’ll locate his childhood home.”
Thomas Hart Benton, born near Hillsborough 1782, was not only one of the first U.S. senators from Missouri, but was also the great uncle of the painter by the same name who died in 1975.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Rat is closed? Noooooooo

If you spent any time at all in Chapel Hill in the 1940s through the 1970s, you were probably affected in some way by an Austrian refugee named Theodor Danziger who had fled Europe when Hitler’s Nazis were setting out to wipe Jews from the face of the earth.
Somehow Danziger and his wife Bibi found their way to Chapel Hill – with the help of Quakers, I have read – and there they began opening restaurants that catered to the college crowd as well as young sophisticates hungry for the kinds of experience their dining atmosphere offered.
Danziger’s Old World Coffee Shop on Franklin Street, the Zoom Zoom Room a block west, the Ranch House around the corner and down the road and, perhaps most famous, the Ram’s Head Rathskeller on Amber Alley down some steps from Franklin.
The story goes that the Rathskeller, a dark, dingy place with a warren of rooms done up variously like a cave, a train car and a bohemian eatery, was the first place in North Carolina to serve pizza not long after World War II ended.
Everyone has a Rathskeller story; mine dates to about 1963 when I was in high school and had just gotten my driver’s license. My big sister, by then a sophomore at Carolina, invited me over for dinner. We ate in the Cave Room. I had the Gambler, a thin skirt steak served on a hot-as-hades flat skillet covered in onions, garlic bread and green peas. (My friend David Perlmutt says he can still hear that platter sizzle from his days at the Rat.) I had a frosty mug of cider and thought I could get used to Chapel Hill real quick.
Over the years there would be more Gamblers, big hamburgers, beef stroganoff and a kind of soupy, salty lasagna that Sports Illustrated is said to have described as a bowl of cheese.
Everything good ends way too soon. In Chapel Hill the list of cultural casualties includes the Goody Shop, Jeff’s Campus Confectionary, the Porthole and a ramshackle beer joint called the Shack where my Geology 31 lab met a couple of times for some serious discussion, perhaps even about rocks.
The Rat, alas, closed down not long ago, and Danny Hooley’s story in The News & Observer describes where some of it went during a Saturday auction.
Some years ago a friend – an unschooled lout who had gone to UVa and thus didn’t enjoy our more refined sensibilities – complained that he had eaten at the Rathskeller and that the food just wasn’t that good. What’s the big deal, he wondered.
What, I wanted to know, is your point? You don’t go to the Rathskeller for the food, for crying out loud. You go for the experience of what it’s like to be in a college town again, when the place is jumping and folks are lined up out the door and anything is possible.
But not now. You can’t go to the Rathskeller at all now – another sign of the end of civilization.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Readers vent about John Edwards

Readers had sharp opinions about former U.S. Sen. John Edwards of Chapel Hill, who suspended his campaign the other day in New Orleans, Here’s what they had to say in response to my Sunday column:
(From a reader in Charlotte):
Mr. Betts: I read your “in my opinion” piece about John Edwards today and your belief that the working class of American will lose someone who looks after their interest. In my opinion, good riddance. I do not know why this trial attorney chose to leave the practice of suing doctors and run for a public office.
It did not make sense 12-years ago and one wonders why he bothers to do this especially with his wife being ill. I do not know how John Edwards would help the working class to do better. One of the problems now with these people is that they are looking for government to solve all of their problems.
Governments do not create wealth but only act as a conduit to take from the “achievers” in America and redistribute that wealth to others who cannot take take of themselves in a way that Edwards, Hillary or Obama think that they should. It is for the “common good” but one wonders who gets to decide what that actually is.
Edwards wanted to separate our country into “two America’s” and pit one group against the next. That is a common Democrat concept as there is always some group pitted against another. The Democrats are now using the Hispanics in California against the blacks in South Carolina.The working class should not really miss him as he was only giving them “lip service”. Bill Clinton, the first Black president is a master as this concept and the quote “I feel your pain’ speaks loudly. They feel the pain and do nothing later.
Edwards should retire to his 100 acre estate off NC 54 west of Chapel Hill and think about helping Elizabeth Edwards get through her battle with cancer. He does not need the money and it would be a noble gesture.
(From a reader in Western North Carolina)
Dear Mr. Betts,
There was something, I felt, missing from your column on John Edwards. While you covered his message, his potential, and his most glaring faults; the omission was his honesty.
In Edwards second year of his term, he vanished. My impression on his job performance, based on the only “quantifier”’ I can identify, was abysmal. He deliberately turned his back on the citizens of NC to chase a pipe dream.
My largest opinion of Edwards, based on that job performance, is as a thief. He refused to work ( again that actual vote standard) and yet took every dime of his normal pay. How does one refuse to work and yet get paid ?
Agreed, he’s not the only thief in DC. I saw a news report years ago regarding votes and pay. It seems that the Senate, at least, has rules regarding amount of pay based on votes. It also appears that those rules are never enforced. Can you help me find out why ?
I understand many may feel my use of the word thief to be “too harsh” for an elected official. I’m afraid I can’t call it anything else, regardless of who the offender, regardless of political affiliation, and regardless of gender.
Thank you for reading this venting.

(And this final word from a reader somewhere in the state):
Maybe John Edwards just didn’t have the patience for working in the Senate. As one who worked on the Hill during the Carter years, it is an extremely frustrating experience. While working on the Patient Bill of Rights was important, it never became law. If you buy into the Hillary Clinton dogma that change comes from the elected, what has been significant since the Civil Rights Act of 1964?
John Edwards was also a member of the minority party during his term in the Senate... a party without any backbone... even when in power. He became a shining light almost immediately.
The Bush Administration has been very successful. His administration has made the mince meat of the Constitution, made laws passed by Congress irrelevant with his signing statements, changed the tax structure to further increase wealth, reinvigorated the Christian crusade in the Middle East, made Orwell’s predictions a reality, further consolidated the media under corporate control, re-aligned the Supreme Court, etc. That is a whole lot of stuff for someone portrayed as incompetent.
To believe that Jesse Helms made a difference is a joke. Senator No was constantly voted the most ineffective member of the Senate. While he did make enators vote on controversial issues and even won a few... how many times did the House-Senate Conference Committee restore the House version making it ... an exercise that reduced his influence? When he became chairman of the Agriculture Committee in the 80s, the major authorization bill he offered was defeated in his own Committee. Anyone who understands the Hill realizes that just doesn’t happen. Chairman’s bills don’t get defeated in their own Committee.
Edwards mayhave realized that if one wants to make real change, it comes from the executive branch not by being 1 of 435 in a system ruled by special interests, constant fundraising and a public that cares more about comings and goings of Paris Hilton.
If the media had given him half the coverage and kudos on his leadership on issues like health care reform, global warming and just about every other item being discussed in the Democratic primary that they gave in him in the eulogies this past week, he might still be in the race. I don’t recall in any debate the media indicating that Hillary’s plan was a copy of Edwards’ or that Obama is now talking about homeless vets. Politics is difficult especially when other candidates steal your platform and get all the coverage. The media determines the horse race simply by whose campaigns they cover.
If Edwards ever got media attention, it was always about his ambition or hair cut or house. Give me one example of any person who didn’t want to make change or run for elected office that wasn’t ambitious? It isn’t a bad trait, it is a necessary one. Just like being rich is necessary for running for Congress.
I wouldn’t dismiss Edwards just because he didn’t want to remain an NC Senator because of his “ambition”. He has already played a significant role in shaping the eventual Democratic platform. He has a core following that the Democratic party can’t dismiss, especially among labor. There are lots of way to make an impact without being a US Senator. One could easily argue that Edwards has already made a bigger impact than the combination of Dole and Burr no matter how long they remain in the Senate.

(Late addition at 4:40 p.m. from a Charlotte reader:)
In my opinion, your 'In My Opinion' piece printed in the Charlotte Observer yesterday (Sunday, Feb. 3) was the best analysis of John Edwards' political career to date. My out-of-state friends and fellow Democrats can't understand why I couldn't support Edwards in either of his presidential bids, and it's been impossible to make them understand how shafted many of us felt when he walked away from the NC Senate, tossing that important position away with both hands and leaving Tarheel residents to the likes of Libby Dole, et al.

Back then he asked for our votes, and he won them. He asked for our trust, and he gained that, too. When he announced his first bid for the presidency after a few short (and unremarkable) years in the Senate it was like finding out that a big check you'd received and had taken to the bank had bounced. In this case, however, the repercussions went far beyond the personal, encompassing the lives of tens of thousands of people in this state for the worse. That feeling of being taken for an idiot by someone with far more ambition than good intentions has made a lasting impression on me, and it's an experience I bring to bear in evaluating Obama and Clinton as presidential material. John Edwards taught me an important political lesson, one that can be summed up in Charles deGaulle's famous quote: "Since a politician never believes what he says, he is quite surprised to be taken at his word." Thank goodness only a small number of Democratic caucus-goers and primary-voters took him at his word in this campaign.

I appreciate your writing and your insights, Jack.

(And this from Concord:)
Your column in Sunday's paper about John Edward's was right on the mark. When he first ran for the senate, most of the unions in NC supported him. He was thought to be pro working people and familys. Something Faircloth was not. However in 6 years in Washington he did very little for the working people of NC. I supported Al Gore but was not happy about who he chose for his running mate. This year when Edwards struck out on his own in a presidential bid I was dismayed. I would not have supported him in a primary run, and would have to think twice about voting for him if he got to run for president.
Edwards reminds me of another politician, Bobby Kennedy. When he left the justice department, he looked around for a way to stay in politics. He 'moved' to NY and ran against a liberal Republican, Kenneth Keating. NY was just a stepping stone for a run for president. I have been a life long liberal Democrat,and the only time in my life I voted Republican was for Keating against the carpetbagger Kennedy. Kennedy was replaced in the senate by a right wing republican and we lost another liberal Republican.
Remember when there were liberal Republicans? Keating, Jacob Javits, Nelson Rockefeller -- when did the party become a right wing only group?