Welcome to a rising tide of young candidates

Local politics in Western North Carolina have long been dominated by the good ole boys. But like they say about winter in “The Game of Thrones,” change is coming.

I’ve spent much of my career as a journalist — the past 25 years — covering the towns and counties west of Buncombe County, watching as local civic leaders made decisions that have had lasting effects on the region. Aside from Sylva — which has a long tradition of female leaders in politics and business — it’s been a game dominated by old white guys.

Do you write stories to dispel rumors?

“A lie can run around the world before the truth has its boots on.”

That’s one of the few quotes or sayings I can summon up at will. At some point it was etched into my memory. An internet search credits it to Terry Pratchett, a recently deceased but very popular British author of fantasy novels whom I have never read.

Save your crude posts for other websites, please

Something newspaper editors never say: “I wish that fewer people responded to that piece in last week’s paper.”

Well, thanks to the nature of the online world that we currently live in, I’m going to buck tradition: I wish fewer people responded to that piece in last week’s paper.

Hand on heart or on bended knee — Americans all

This is what it means to be an American.

I’m talking about NFL players and coaches and owners uniting to protest during the national anthem because they disagree with our president after he called for team owners to fire every “son of bitch” kneeling during the anthem. I’m talking about black athletes at the Mexico City Olympic Games in 1968 raising fists in support of the Black Panther movement, of people who burn flags, even those who heckled Vietnam War veterans on their return home because they disagreed with the conflict.

The numbers don’t lie, it’s a brave new world

Some things we know, but when someone lays out the numbers and reveals in specific numbers how the big picture is changing right before us, things come into sharper focus.

I’m talking about race and politics. Things are changing drastically here in North Carolina and throughout the nation. This new reality is creating a kind of cultural flashpoint, and the sparks are being seen in many different arenas.

When you come up blank, remember those who are suffering

The computer stares back, unblinking. Deadline is approaching and I’m fighting to hone in on a topic for my column.

The most common question I get from those in other professions is about deadlines, wondering how reporters and columnists and designers and the rest of us in this industry handle the pressure of deadlines that never go away. You make one deadline — or miss one — and the next is standing there, staring you down like a bill collector, patient as an alarm clock — tick, tock, tick, tock ….

Civil War monuments don’t stand a chance

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” — Nobel prize winning author William Faulkner

This oft-trotted out line from William Faulkner’s novel Requiem for a Nun has perhaps never in recent decades seemed more apropos than at this very moment in our history.

The Civil War, slavery, the Jim Crow South, the Civil Rights era, racism, bigotry and the First Amendment are suddenly all part of a national conversation. The South — and in fact all of this nation — is struggling to deal with a tortured past that undoubtedly manifests itself in the Civil War statues and emblems that still adorn public places.

Striking a balance between praying and politics

Prayer as part of government meetings has a long — and often contentious — history in this country, and a recent court ruling on the issue certainly won’t settle this debate.

This case does, however, add one more brick to the legal foundation that’s been built by respected judges since this country’s inception: prayer by those in official capacities is fine, but can’t trumpet your specific sectarian religious beliefs at the expense of those who may have a different faith.

We have to decide: turn left or right?

We got to the stop sign at the bottom of our mountain in our fully loaded truck — bikes, camping gear, clothes, food, coolers, books, magazines — and we had to make a decision: left or right. On the fly, we chose left.

Left meant Interstate 40 and the route up through Knoxville, Lexington, Cincy, Toledo and eventually to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Right would have taken us up I-26 and eventually through Columbus, Ohio, before turning west and then north to make our destination. GPS programs touted the I-40 route as shorter, but travelers we had talked to said the other way was often faster because you avoided so many large cities.

GOP turmoil continues, but facts do matter

I’ve known Ted Carr many years, and he is not a liar.

That charge has been leveled against him by at least one supporter of the five members of the Haywood Republican Alliance whose loyalty to the party has been called into question.

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