D.G. Martin

Are Things That Bad?

Things are good! Sometimes, like the other day, I want to get up and shout it out. For instance, last week at a Rotary club meeting, Frank Hill, leader of The Institute for the Public Trust, was explaining his efforts to recruit and train public-spirited people to run for Congress and other political offices. In case you have not noticed, a lot of the kind of people drawn to politics in the past will not consider running for elective office today. Hill asked the group of Rotarians if any of them were serving in elective office. Nobody raised a...

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Read Others’ Views, Then Decide For Yourself

“I don’t read the Washington Post. That is not where I get my ideas.” Many years ago, when there were still lots of conservatives voting in Democratic primaries, a congressional candidate pandered to conservatives by trashing a liberal newspaper. But he lost ground with other voters who thought he should keep up with congressional issues covered in that newspaper even if he disagreed with its views. More recently, a widely respected conservative political commentator also lost a little ground when asked to comment about a recent article about North Carolina in The New York Times. He responded by saying...

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Where Did All The New Voters Come From?

“Voters born elsewhere make up nearly half of N.C. electorate.” So begins the latest DataNet report from the UNC Program on Public Life, directed by former journalist Ferrel Guillory. So what? What difference does it make to us that almost half of North Carolina voters were born somewhere else? To begin to show the importance of such a large number of non-North Carolina natives participating in the state’s election process, DataNet gives us a short history lesson: “One hundred years ago, when North Carolina had a population of about 2.5 million people, more than nine out of 10 residents...

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Books: Our World As It Was, Is, Or Could Be

Why do we read books? For entertainment, of course, first and foremost. But the best books also challenge us emotionally and intellectually to see the world in a different way, as it really is, or as it once was, as it could be, or, perhaps, as it will become. Here are some summer reading ideas of North Carolina books that could open your eyes to seeing our world differently and entertaining you at the same time. First of all, Crossroads of the Natural World: Exploring North Carolina with Tom Earnhardt shows our state’s plant and animal life as it...

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Preserving The Monuments Of A Controversial Past

“You see him and ask: ‘Why is the statue still here? What was it he actually stood for?’ This is the kind of debate that a public work of art makes possible. We won’t change the way people think just by getting rid of a monument.” The mayor of one of Mecklenburg’s largest municipalities is defending the refusal to remove a statue of a hero of another era, but one who today offends many residents. This raises again the question of what to do about the statues, building names, and the nicknames and mascots of sports teams that offend...

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A Great Generation And A Great Book Title

“It turned out to be a hell of a book title.” Tom Brokaw, former NBC News anchor and productive author, was talking, with his usual modesty, about The Greatest Generation. It is the title of his 1998 best-selling book and the identification of the Americans who, after serving in World War II, came home to lead our country through an era of progress and prosperity. Last week, 16 years after the book’s publication, Brokaw talked about it with author Roger Rosenblatt at Chautauqua Institution in New York State, where I was on vacation. In his book, Brokaw explained how...

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“Saving Texas” And Forgetting About Scotland

How does Harry Potter feel about the hotly contested proposal to separate Scotland from the United Kingdom? Edinburgh-based author J.K. Rowling, who created Harry Potter, opposes the proposal. She donated one million pounds to an organization fighting the proposal, which comes to a vote this fall. She worries that Scottish universities would lose funding for important research if Scotland was independent. Other opponents of independence point out a variety of problems that Scotland would face. What kind of currency would it use? How would it manage its defense? Could it be a member of NATO and the European Union?...

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What We Learned Last Week

What was the lesson we were taught twice last week? Once by Dave Brat, the congressional candidate who defeated House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor? And again by the insurgent forces of ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria)? This simple (but too often forgotten) lesson applies in North Carolina and throughout the world. It is this: a committed minority can beat an unenthusiastic, unmotivated, unprepared majority. In the case of Cantor’s loss, we have heard countless reasons to explain the result: 1. Brat bested him on the immigration issue by casting Cantor as a weak, inconsistent, and unreliable opponent...

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Republicans’ Best Choice For 2016?

Romney for President. Get used to the idea. Again. But, you say, Mitt Romney has made it clear that he is not interested in running again. He is a two-time loser, which makes him damaged property. And the far-right wing of the party was never happy with him as a candidate. And by the time he would first become president he would be 69 years old. However, the super-conservatives in the party learned to live with Romney in 2012. If they think he has the best chance to beat a Democrat, they will work for him again. And who...

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Music, Murder And More For Your Summer Reading

Suddenly it’s June. Have you made a list of books to read on your summer vacation? Here are some North Carolina books for that list: UNC-Wilmington’s Clyde Edgerton’s Night Train came out three years ago and remains a favorite because it takes me back to my growing up years. Two friends, both teenaged boys, live in Starke, a fictional eastern North Carolina town, in the early 1960s. One, Larry Lime Nolan, is black, and he wants to play jazz like Thelonious Monk. The other, Dwayne Hallston, is white, and he wants to be another James Brown. They have much...

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