D.G. Martin

A More Interesting Senate Race, In Fiction

While you are watching U.S. Senate campaign television ads, occasionally interrupted by brief segments of programming, do you ever wonder what goes on inside the candidates’ campaign organizations? For instance, what if you could take on the role as the top aide to an incumbent North Carolina U.S. senator running for reelection against a top state official who has a full war chest of campaign funds? Interesting? Challenging? A new novel, Billy Bowater, by Winston-Salem civic leader E. C. “Redge” Hanes is a fictional version of such a campaign. William Walpole Bowater III, the book’s central character, is chief...

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North Carolina’s Scottish Connection

Did North Carolinians have a stake in the outcome of last week’s referendum in Scotland? Maybe not the same kind of stake the residents of Scotland had, but our ties to that land are so close, so important, and so contemporary that perhaps we should have been entitled to vote on the question of its independence from the United Kingdom. New evidence of our enduring ties to Scotland comes in a few days with UNC Press’s release of Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia by Scotland’s Fiona Ritchie and North Carolina’s Doug Orr. Ritchie...

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New Lessons From Old Wars

At the end of a two-day conference about World War I at UNC-Chapel Hill, I asked a leading military historian what approach he would recommend to the United States to deal with the challenge of ISIS. I will tell you about his response in a minute. The World War I conference was one of a series of planned events to commemorate the 100th anniversary of that Great War and to learn what lessons might help us deal with present day challenges. There are plenty of such lessons, according to the series coordinator, UNC-CH’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities:...

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“Most Moderate” And “Kay”: Do Words Make A Difference?

First of all, a warning: I am a Democrat. You cannot trust a partisan commentator to give an objective report on a political contest such as a debate between candidates for the United States Senate. Now that you’ve been warned, here are two observations about last week’s first debate between current Senator Kay Hagan and her challenger, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis. 1. Who is the “most moderate?” Hagan’s repeated assertion that she is the most moderate U.S. senator obviously has been a theme tested by her experts in focus groups and polls. Moderation is a good approach...

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A Letter From Home

It was like the pleasure of a long letter from home. At least it was for this exile from Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. I picked up the new book, 27 Views of Charlotte: The Queen City in Prose & Poetry, to see if any of my friends were among the almost 30 contributors. But when I started reading, I could not stop until I had read every selection, beginning with Jack Clairborne’s cheerful summary of Charlotte’s efforts to become a “world class city,” concluding that the key to its success has been its openness. “You don’t have to come...

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A Non-Lawyer On The Supreme Court?

President Obama plans to appoint National Public Radio’s Nina Totenberg to the United States Supreme Court. Not really, of course. Totenberg may know more than most lawyers about the Supreme Court from her experience as an award-winning legal affairs correspondent for NPR. But she is not a lawyer, and you have to be a lawyer to be on the court. Don’t you? No. The Constitution sets forth no such requirement. Article Two provides simply that the president “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint … Judges of the supreme Court.” So the president...

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Remembering The Negro Leagues

“He is number 42,” I said. On a baseball outing with my daughter’s family the other night, I was trying to find the name of a player on the Durham Bulls baseball team while the Bulls were playing a doubleheader against the Buffalo Bison. The player list in the game program did not show a number 42. Then I noticed another player wearing number 42, and then another. Every player was wearing number 42. Why? I should have remembered 42, last year’s film about Jackie Robinson. Number 42 was on Robinson’s uniform when he first played for the Brooklyn...

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The Most Important Thing The Legislature Did

The most important thing the legislature did this year is what it did not do. Adjourn. Instead of adjourning and closing down as is customary shortly after the state’s budget has been revised, the legislators resolved to stay in session indefinitely, coming back from time to time to respond to emergencies, to vote on various matters, and to work out a plan to deal with Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds. Maybe that sounds like a reasonable plan to you. Here is the problem. When the legislature is still in session, government officials and workers spend much of their time...

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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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