Opinion: Columnists

Mar. 12, 2014 @ 10:49 PM

The benefits of prudence

In September 1958, a future columnist, then 17, was unpacking as a college freshman when upperclassmen hired by tobacco companies knocked on his dormitory door, distributing free mini-packs of cigarettes. He and many other aspiring sophisticates became smokers. Six years later -- 50 years ago: Jan. 11, 1964 -- when the Surgeon General published the report declaring tobacco carcinogenic, more than 40 percent of American adults smoked. Today, when smoking is considered declassee rather than sophisticated, fewer than one-fifth do.


Mar. 10, 2014 @ 11:28 PM

‘A mountain populist to the very end’

When long-time legislator and lawyer Martin Nesbitt died last week at age 67, he was already on my mind for a column. The news of his stomach cancer followed quickly by his death shocked those who remembered his powerful presence as a representative and then state senator.


Mar. 10, 2014 @ 02:15 PM

Dial down the Dan River blame game

Enough with the hysteria, finger pointing and partisanship. The Duke Energy coal ash spill needs immediate action, there’s blame enough to go around and we need to focus on fixing problems.


Mar. 10, 2014 @ 11:43 AM

Laughter and grief belong together

Eighty-three-year old Ron Kilmartin was in a hospice, dying of lung cancer. His daughter was at his bedside, cracking jokes about it. Here's one:

"Last week, Dad coughed and said, 'choking.' I tried to give him water but he just wanted me to turn off the men's Olympic hockey game."


Mar. 08, 2014 @ 01:31 PM

Face it – it’s just daylight ‘shifting’ time

A polling firm, Rasmussen Reports, has asked folks in national telephone surveys if they agree or disagree with this statement about Daylight Saving Time: “Don’t think the time change is worth the hassle.”

Forty-seven percent agree with that statement. Only 40 percent disagreed.


Mar. 07, 2014 @ 03:48 PM

Healing starts with '12 Years a Slave'

A plea for about a dozen people who know who they are: Will you see “12 Years a Slave” now?

It just won the Oscar for Best Picture. It just came out on DVD. Please see it. I'll even spring for the popcorn.


Mar. 07, 2014 @ 12:49 PM

North Carolina boringly average

Is there any more potent political issue in North Carolina than education? Probably not. As allies of the teachers union, Democrats hope to ride the issue back into power in Raleigh, at least by 2016. As advocates of performance pay and parental choice, Republicans hope to compete effectively with Democrats for the support of voters who value greater education opportunities for North Carolina children.


Mar. 05, 2014 @ 04:09 AM

Misreading Putin and history in the Crimea

One hundred years after a spark in Central Europe ignited a conflagration from which the world has not yet recovered and from which Europe will never recover, armed forces have crossed an international border in Central Europe, eliciting this analysis from Secretary of State John Kerry: "It's a 19th century act in the 21st century. It really puts at question Russia's capacity to be within the G8."


Mar. 04, 2014 @ 11:40 AM

Understanding North Carolina’s tribal rivalries

Have we gotten used to all the national attention on North Carolina and our tribal rivalries?

Do we mind the reports of the mean-spiritedness, the rudeness, the shouts and ranting, the unsupported ugly comments about the opposition and its motives, and the hateful remarks about the leaders of the other group?


Mar. 03, 2014 @ 10:21 AM

Welcome to the new normal

President Clinton?

Maybe, if Democratic voters have their way. While the Republican faithful are split among a number of contenders and not particularly enthusiastic about any of them, a new poll finds Democrats overwhelmingly united behind a Hillary Clinton candidacy for 2016.


Mar. 02, 2014 @ 11:36 AM

Why do we need vouchers for private schools?

Momma always said you can learn more listening than you can speaking, so now that a judge has called a temporary halt to North Carolina’s school voucher program let’s spend time in listening to both sides of this issue. And the best way to get information is to ask questions.


Mar. 02, 2014 @ 12:41 AM

GOP choosing candidates more wisely

In today's unforgiving politics, both parties often think: "If at first you don't succeed, don't darken our door again." Ken Buck, however, had another idea.


Mar. 01, 2014 @ 10:19 PM

Crusading to honor, preserve ‘real barbecue’

John Shelton Reed knows a thing or two about barbecue. As the saying goes, he wrote the book on it.

“Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue,” written with his wife, Dale Volberg Reed and published in 2008, is very much the bible of our state’s barbecue.  Reed, one of the most distinguished sociologists of his generation, retired in 2000 after many years as the William Rand Kenan Jr. Professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina. Among many other legacies at UNC, he helped to found the Center for the Study of the American South.


Feb. 28, 2014 @ 01:02 AM

North Carolina doesn’t pay more for less

Admitted ignorance is a sign of maturity, of a willingness to learn. It can be remedied with facts. What really does grave damage is when politicians think they know something and act on it — even when what they “know” is false, misleading or incomplete. That’s how tax money is squandered, government power is abused and problems are allowed to fester.


Feb. 26, 2014 @ 11:06 AM

Perfect climate for liberals

The many jaundiced assessments of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on the fifth anniversary of its enactment were understandable, given that the sluggish recovery, now drowsing through the second half of its fifth year, is historically anemic. Still, bleak judgments about the stimulus spending miss the main point of it, which was to funnel a substantial share of its money to unionized, dues-paying, Democratic-voting government employees. Hence the stimulus succeeded. So there.