Friday, September 26, 2008

Time postcard: Charlotte not 'trifling' now

"In 1791, George Washington called Charlotte, N.C., a 'trifling place.' In 1941 an author scoffed that the city had as much use for high-rises 'as a hog has for a morning coat.' By 1991, Charlotte was still a minor-league city without major-league sports, a cultural wasteland with a central business district that died every weekday after work."

So goes a Time magazine "Postcard from Charlotte" you can find online at,9171,1844558,00.html. OK, so they got it wrong about Charlotte being "without major-league sports" by 1991. The city's first NBA team, the Charlotte Hornets, had already completed two seasons before 1991. So Charlotte wasn't as "minor league" then as the writer assumed.

But it's our two big banks that have pushed the city into the national spotlight of late. As the nation's financial system teeters, Bank of America donned a white hat and came to the rescue of Merrill Lynch. Wachovia was ready and in talks to help Morgan Stanley.

So it's hardly surprising that a lot of people want to know more about what makes Charlotte tick - and prosper. Interesting reading.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Prez politics in N.C.: A kid's perspective

National politics is becoming very accessible to Charlotte residents, especially now that some polls and pundits have tagged North Carolina a battleground state in this year's presidential race. Emma Elizabeth Churchyard wrote to the Observer about the excitement she feels after Barack Obama's visit Sunday. Here's what she had to say:

"In April, my mother, my sister and I walked up the street to hear Hillary Clinton speak. As soon as the rain started, Rowan and I ducked under the platforms (which kept us dry) while my mother got soaking wet. Then the sun came out and so did Hillary. She talked about gas prices, education (stopping EOG’s - I liked that one) and stuff a kid wouldn’t understand. When her speech was over, she came to shake everybody’s hands. I felt like a squeezed mouse, but I got to the rails and she signed my T-shirt. Being there made me feel independent. I want to be kind of like her someday.
So when my mom told me Barack Obama was coming to Charlotte, I was like "Let’s go! Let’s go! I was ready to climb in the car and wait in the rain again. I had a T-shirt and a sharpie. But I had to wait until Sunday.
On Sunday, we drove up to see a line four blocks long. All you could see was "Obama" on everyone’s T-shirt, hat, button, bumper sticker and body writing. I was EXCITED. I felt like I was gonna get up close to him, just like I did with Hillary Clinton. And then, I saw that the next block was covered in people. And the next. And the next. And the next. I saw babies, I saw kids, I saw teens, I saw adults - in every skin tone you could think of. And all I could think was, "We’re never going to get in."
We finally found the end of the line and joined it. After a good 30 minutes of mapping out what we could do if we couldn’t get in to see Obama, the motorcade arrived. People ran for the street. They were screaming "Yes, We Can!" (Apparently that’s his motto.) I was hopeful - people left the line! But not enough. I never saw so many people in my entire life.
A lady campaign worker urged people in line to give up and go to the corners, where they could at least hear Obama. The rally was supposed to start at 1 pm, and it was already close to 2 pm. I urged my parents to go to the corner. We did.
I couldn’t see anything. I couldn’t hear much either. But it was better than where we were and it was better than staying at home. All those people gave me hope that somebody young and smart, who likes kids, might be President. Just being within 200 yards of Obama made me feel important, independent and made me want to be just like him. (If he wins.)"

Monday, September 22, 2008

Still bigots around, says new prez poll

No one wants to talk about race in this presidential election, least of all Democratic nominee Barack Obama. But a new poll puts a laser on racial attitudes and how they may affect the outcome. The poll results may be unsettling for Obama.

The AP-Yahoo News poll, conducted with Stanford University, found that 40 percent of all white Americans hold at least a partly negative view of blacks and about one-third of white Democrats do. According to the poll, many call blacks "lazy," "violent" or responsible for their own troubles.
More than a third of all white Democrats and independents — voters Obama can't win the White House without — agreed with at least one negative adjective about blacks, according to the survey, and they are significantly less likely to vote for Obama than those who don't have such views.

Lots of Republicans harbor prejudices, too, but the survey found they weren't voting against Obama because of his race. Most Republicans wouldn't vote for any Democrat for president — white, black or brown.

The findings suggest that Obama's problem is close to home — among his fellow Democrats, particularly non-Hispanic white voters. Just seven in 10 people who call themselves Democrats support Obama, compared to the 85 percent of self-identified Republicans who back McCain.
The survey focused on the racial attitudes of independent voters because they are likely to decide the election.

Lots of Republicans harbor prejudices, too, but the survey found they weren't voting against Obama because of his race. Most Republicans wouldn't vote for any Democrat for president — white, black or brown.

"There are a lot fewer bigots than there were 50 years ago, but that doesn't mean there's only a few bigots," said Stanford political scientist Paul Sniderman who helped analyze the exhaustive survey.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Best and Worst of Pat McCrory?

Mayor Pat may be zooming up the polls in his race for N.C. governor, but his local popularity is lagging a bit - at least among the "critics' panel/copywriters" and the readers of Charlotte's "Creative Loafing", a weekly news and entertainment tabloid. In it's recent 21st annual Best of Charlotte issue, Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory was named both the "Worst Member of Local Government" and the "Best Member of Local Government". The Creative Loafing staff and critics gave him the "Worst" title. But the readers picked him for "Worst" and "Best".

One pundit said he may have made both the best and worst in readers' minds because he may be the only local politician they've heard of. Could be.

At least, he didn't win this title: "Public official most in need of Tasering". The winner of that appellation? Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board member Kaye McGarry. Find the Best of Charlotte listings at

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

One definition of success

Late yesterday afternoon, during the after-work rush hour, a LYNX light rail driver was overheard begging the crowds at the Third Street and Stonewall stations not to get on the train.

Friday, September 5, 2008

David at RNC: McCain's good man, gave good speech

David McKee, 15, of Waxhaw, ends two weeks of convention attendance as a participant with the Junior Statesmen of America. He attended the Democratic National Convention in Denver last week and the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., this week. Here's his final dispatch to the Observer:

"I listened to John McCain's speech last night. In charecter, I think he is a good man. He gave a good speech, and I respect what he's been through. However I think he has changed a lot of his positions to please the right wing of his party. And therefore, I don't feel that he is what's best for our country.

"There are a lot of people here giving away free swag. I have picked up a lot of cool stuff. The best was when a Coke lobbyist came to talk to us. She used to be a member of Junior Statesmen of America when she was in high school - just like me. Now she works as a lobbyiist in Washington on behalf of Coke. She spoke to our group and asked what was Coke's recycling goal? One guy guessed 30 percent. Wrong. I guessed 100percent, and that is right. I ended up with a cool Coke hat.

"I have been working with Current TV to help them do a piece on younger attendees at the convention. Orginally they were going to interview me, but that day I opted to go to the Ron Paul Rally for America, and they were interviewing at the RNC. They did interview four teens from our group. However they failed to get waivers from them so that they could use the footage. The producer had my card, so they contacted me and I helped them get waivers from three of the four people interviewed. Current TV may give me producer credit on the piece. I met with the reporter and he gave me a DVD about what the world thinks of America as a thank-you present. We plan to keep in touch.

"Our JSA speakers' program brought in Nancy Theis, Director of White House Correspondence. She says she volunteers to go through all the letters that come to the president. She says she sends the "best" to the president's secretary to get a reply. "You know, the sick and dying kids type," she said. She said that she is a die hard conservative, and would never have worked for the Clintons.

"I am going home. I can't wait. I look forward to seeing my dogs, and chilling out. I plan on doing a recap of both conventions for next week."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

David at RNC: Too much 'belittling'

Let's get right to Sarah Palin and her speech last night. I was not impressed. I felt that she made a lot of attacks, and many of them don't check out with the facts. She obviously had a speech prepared for her and had been rehearsed. I don't think in the future we will ever see her that well-versed again.

What strikes me while I am here is how very mean-spirited the Republicans are. This is much different than what I heard at the Democratic National Convention, which was more positive and hope filled. Here we have heard lots of attacks, belittling and put-downs. There's a lot of flag waving but not much about what the Republicans are actually proposing they would do.

Here is one thing they are saying. Last night on the floor they kept chanting "Drill, baby, drill". We can not drill are way out of this situation. Off-shore drilling is not going to help. It will do very little to help gas prices and energy independence. It would only lower gas prices about 3 cents and not for 10 years. We need to explore alternative energies of any and every kind that are not petroleum based. We especially need to explore energy options that are non-polluting. We need to free ourselves from Oil, Coal, and Gas. These three are depressing our economy and creating a modern-day depression.

She said last night that we should explore coal. This idea of clean coal is a myth. It isn't clean now. There is not currently technology to make it clean. Clean coal ads are deceptive. They are as dirty as the coal they mine. There is just no effective way to get the carbon out. Sarah Palin proudly talked about her pipeline for natural gas. There is nothing "natural" about it. It is a finite limited resource, and converting all our energy needs to a finite resource that will run out does not make sense.

Earlier in the day, our Junior Statesmen group heard from Bob Barr, the Libertarian candidate. He talked about how he used to be a Republican but is now a Libertarian. He thinks that Republicans and Democrats are just different sides of the same coin. I don't think that is true, but he does.

Today in the Junior Statesmen speakers program we are to hear from Nancy Theis, Director of White House Correspondence. That should be interesting. And tonight of course is John McCain's speech. The RNC's program says that tonight's theme is "Peace". Hmmm.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Day 3: David sees Arianna, Fred Thompson

From Waxhaw teen David McKee, who is at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul with the Junior Statesmen of America program:

In our speakers' program Tuesday we heard from Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post. She spoke about the Huffington Post and her view of politics. She said that they ask their writers and reporters to be very transparent about their political views. I thought she was a very respectable woman. She spoke with a lot of dignity and professionalism.

Tuesday afternoon I went to Ron Paul's alternative convention, the "Rally for America". There were a lot more people there than I would have expected. Tucker Carlson from MSNBC spoke. There were several other speakers as well. In general the Libertarians want lower taxes. And they said that there is little difference between Democrats and Republicans because all both of those parties want is to raise taxes and make our government go bankrupt. They also want to abolish the Federal Reserve. It's their belief that the Federal Reserve caused the housing bubble, and all economic bubbles. They said that the Green Tech is a coming bubble. I don't see how this is true. How could the Fed be causing bubbles? I just don't see how.

I felt that the Rally for America wasn't pulled together well. The announcer wasn't that good. They didn't spend much money on anything, and there were a lot of advertisements. Ads for law firms, Ads for Ron Paul's constitutional pamphlet, Ads for "USA Tomorrow". It just didn't feel all that pulled together. Of course, Ron Paul doesn't have the money to spend on something like this the way that the Republican Party does. It did feel like a sincere attempt on the Libertarians' part.

Wednesday night, we were at the Republican Convention for all the speakers. Fred Thompson attacked Obama and praised Sarah Palin as McCain's Vice Presidential pick. I think that McCain is taking the biggest gamble of his career by choosing Palin. She is under investigation, has a daughter not much older than me who is pregnant and all this is coming out just in the first week after her selection. It may end up that lots of things on her resume are invalidated. It raises suspicion if she could be a good President if she ever needed to be.

Her choice as VP was made to help the Republican Party. To appeal to the masses, he could have picked an Independent like Joe Lieberman. Palin's stance on many things does not appeal to the mainstream in this country. For example, I think that teaching creationism in the schools is kind of scary. Because it's forcing one religion onto a whole county, which would violate the First Amendment, which guarantees us the freedom of religion.

It's interesting to see that the Republicans unify behind their candidate but then there are flashes of guns and steel in their eyes while they praise them. It seems as if there might be lots of political back stabbing behind the scenes. Yes they look unified to the American people, but when the wool is pulled over your eyes everything looks good.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Did McCain's folks vet this?

Many bloggers and columnists thought John McCain's VP pick was a little on the cynical side -- pick a woman and pick up many unhappy Democratic women voters still upset over Hillary Clinton's primary loss. But Sarah Palin hasn't always been about sister solidarity. The YouTube clip below of an on-air interview from January has Gov. Palin simply giggling in response as a talk radio host attacks one of her opponents , a cancer survivor, as a "cancer" and a "bitch." She then says she would be honored for the radio jock to attend her State of the State address. One doubts this will impress many Hillary supporters.

Here also is an opinion column from the Anchorage Daily News about the interview.

David to see Arianna Huffington, Ron Paul

From David McKee, 15, of Waxhaw, who is at the Republican National Convention as part of the Junior Statesmen of America:
"Yesterday (Monday) afternoon we were at the Xcel Energy Center for the abreviated convention. Cindy McCain and Laura Bush spoke briefly. I did not get a warm impression of Mrs. McCain. Most of the focus was on Hurricane Gustav. I feel like maybe that was so the Republican Party would get good publicity. The shortened business portion of the meeting went by faster than any meeting I have attended. A motion would be made, the ayes taken, and then they would call for the nays but give no time for a nay to be heard. Then on to the next motion.

While we were outside the convention center waiting for the bus to take us back to the hotel, I was approached by a reporter to do an interview. The reporter from Current TV, my favorite channel, wanted to interview me!! We were leaving, so I gave him my card and he said he would contact me to set up an interview. I hope so, because I would really like that. we had to go back to the hotel because the evening of speakers at the convention was cancelled due to the hurricane.

When we got to the hotel, after dinner Junior Statesmen had arranged for David Mark, from, to speak to us. He talked about what he does and what is about. Basically, he analyzes the strategies and logistics of politics and campaigns. It was a very interesting and educational evening for me. I didn't know about before, so now I have a new site to go to so that I can learn more about this election.

As had happened in Denver, this morning we missed the delegates' breakfast because people overslept. This is extremely disappointing for me. I really wanted to get to talk to delegates from North Carolina. However I am very glad that we made the delegate breakfast yesterday, and we were able to get floor passes. I think that the next presidential election in 2012, I am going to try and become a delegate myself. So today we will go right to the speakers program that Junior Statesmen has set up for us.

Today we are supposed to hear from Arianna Huffington. This afternoon, we are supposed to go to the Ron Paul alternative convention. That should be very interesting.

Day 2: David in St. Paul

From David McKee, 15, of Waxhaw, at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, with the Junior Statesmen of America:
Monday morning we got up early and went to the North Carolina delegates' breakfast. I talked to some of the delegates about how their system for nominating a candidate might be different from the Democrats. Turns out it's not very different at all. I asked one delegate how it is that he became a delagate. He said he just went to his district's convention and got elected as a delegate.

The best thing that happened is that they had floor passes ready for us for the whole convention. Floor passes were next to impossible to come by in Denver. So I was really excited about that.

At lunch, we went to the Hard Rock Cafe, where our lunch was hosted by the Young Republicans Club. Mike Huckabee was there to talk to us. He spoke positive things about Sarah Palin, the Vice Presidential Nominee. He said she has all the right values for the job.

Many of the teens here are very Republican or Libertarian in their ideas. At lunch they were saying that all the Democrats have a California Attitude, and in a stoned voice they mockingly said "like hey dude, vote for Obama" ha ha ha. Of course, I don't think that's true at all.

Going to the convention center this afternoon for the abbreviated RNC meeting we had an unexpected obstacle. Anti-war protesters were blocking our way by forming a human chain to prevent us from getting into the center. Police on horse back had to drive them back so that we could run quickly past. As we passed, they all gave us the finger and shouted obscenities at us. While I undersatnd that they are upset about the war, I do not think that they should go that far.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Day 1: David in St. Paul with the GOP

David McKee, 15, of Waxhaw is in St. Paul for the Republican National Convention. He's attending as a Junior Statesmen of America participant. He was in Denver last week with the Democrats. He's giving us his impressions in daily dispatches. Here's his first from St. Paul:

"Sunday we arrived in St. Paul on a direct flight from Charlotte. This time my friend Catherine has come along too.We are staying in a Holiday Inn. It has the that old 1980's look. You know, printed sheets, 80's colors and bad springy beds.

"We got in very early. The Junior Statesmen folks had arranged for a shuttle to the Mall of America. I didn't want to go, because I was worried that I would miss the last shuttle and get stranded there, so I just kicked back the afternoon.

"Sunday afternoon, I met another teen here with our group that said something that shocked me. He declared with in 5 minutes of my meeting him that all Democrats were Communists and Hippies. I didn't tell him my politics. He just said it like every one thinks this is true. He made me nervous.

"Today, we will go to the delegation breakfast of our state in the morning. Then, we will be hearing from an agent with the Secret Service that is in charge of Dignitary protective division. I think that is pretty cool. We will try and go to see a taping of Hardball with Chris Matthews. I did that at the DNC too, and it was very interesting.

"On Tuesday we are supposed to go to Ron Paul's Rally for the Republic which should be interesting. Later in the week, we are to get a visit from Bob Barr, who is the Libertarian candidate. But I know that he cannot win no matter what he does. His party did not get 15 percent of the vote in the last election, so he is not eligible for the electoral college. This is why an independent will never get elected. The electoral college is set up so that it basically protects the two party system.

"We are also to hear from Ariana Huffington later in the week. The speakers lined up to talk to our JSA group are very impressive. I would not have expected so many well-known people would want to talk to a group of teenagers.

"Sunday night we had a dinner for all the Junior State Teens that are here on this trip. I sat and watched two people have a dinner table debate. A George Bush supporter and a Libertarian were having a debate about the Iraq war. The Libertarian said, "Why are we in Iraq?" Then the Bush supporter said, "Because we had intelligence that said the Iraqis had weapons of mass destruction." The Libertarian replied, "But that was false information, and it didn't come from Iraq, it came from US''. Hmmmm. Interesting discussion.

"I heard that the RNC has canceled all speakers for Monday and are planning on turning the convention into a fundraiser for hurricane victims. I have doubts about that."