Thunderpig’s Mirror

Archive for June 15th, 2007

Bar Fight in the Blue Ridge: The Coming Battle for NC 11 by John Armor

Posted by Thunder Pig on June 15, 2007

Guest Commentary

Bar Fight in the Blue Ridge: The Coming Battle for NC 11 by John Armor

You’d think that what happens in western Carolina, in the 11th Congressional District, isn’t very important to the powers-that-be in Washington. That’s usually so. But not now. And two extraordinary events that have occurred a year and a half before the 2008 election for that seat, prove the point.
Some of you are aware of the TV ads now being run by AFSCME that paint freshman Congressman Heath Shuler, NC 11th, as a good guy. The ad sponsor’s full name is American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. This union is committed to steady expansion of government at all levels, supported by more taxes at all levels.


Why is that union, part of the left wing of the Democratic Party, supporting Heath Shuler (who ran as a “conservative” Democrat) a year before he announces for reelection? It’s simple. AFSCME is practical. If Shuler gets challenged by a hard-line liberal Democrat, like most of the Democrats who have run for this seat over the years, there are two possible bad outcomes. The liberal might beat Shuler and get trounced in the general election. Or, the liberal might damage Shuler so much that he will lose the general.

This exceptional action by this national union in 2007, has a clear meaning. The unions are trying to scare off any liberal competition for Shuler in his primary. It’s a message that the unions are satisfied that they can work with Shuler for union issues in Congress.

And what gives them that assurance? Shuler has reliably voted with Speaker Nancy Pelosi on critical votes in the House, except when he sought permission to stray – on issues like stem cell research where she had the winning votes anyway, and Heath pleaded for a little independence for the sake of the folks back home.

Are the Republicans taking the 11th District as seriously in 2008? Yes, they are, as shown by the fact that the chief political strategist in the White House, Karl Rove, came to the District recently to address the annual Convention of the Republicans here. Why would someone that important show up here?

The 11th District was one of about 9 Districts which have been Republican for a decade or more, that should have stayed that way even in 2006, but which the Democrats managed to take. These few Districts make up almost half of the seats the Republicans need to retake control of the House.

Who are the voters in the 11th District? We have a few more Democrats than Republicans, but independents (those who “declined” to name a party) occupy the center, about 11% of the total. Many of the independents, and a significant number of the Democrats are like Zell Miller, former Senator from Georgia who lives just across the state line from us. These are, like Zell, conservative folks who happen to bear the label Democrat or independent.

The man who held this seat for the Republicans for 16 years, Charles Taylor, is making noises about running again. I think the only likely way for the Republicans to lose this seat to Shuler again, would be if Taylor gets the Republican nomination.

Here’s why:

Taylor used to be one of the most powerful Republicans in Washington. He got himself in trouble in a number of ways. He wound up losing to a rookie with no experience – while spending a million dollars more than the challenger. Taylor was supposedly a sharp cookie. Shuler’s obviously not the sharpest tool in the shed. But Shuler won in 2006.

For 2008, Shuler is stronger, Taylor is weaker. If it’s the same race, the result will be the same. On the other hand, if the Republicans run an experienced, knowledgeable, honest candidate, both parties will bring in their big guns, but the Republican should win comfortably.

And, the 11th District is, next year, a mine canary for all the House races. Win or lose, the fate of the Republicans nationally will probably be the same as here, in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

[As a matter of full disclosure, the author ran for this seat in 2006, losing to Taylor in the primary.]

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About the Author: John Armor practiced in the US Supreme Court for 33 years. John_Armor@aya.yale.edu He lives in the 11th District of NorthCarolina.
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Taste of Scotland Festival in Franklin, NC

Posted by Thunder Pig on June 15, 2007

Scotland Rules in the Smokies!!!

Friday Night Ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee means party!)

Food and Entertainment at the Big Bear Shelter on the Greenway.

5.00pm…Bagpipe Music with Jean Hayes

6.00pm…BBQ & Music by Patton Valley Strings

6.45pm…Performance by Kula & Truen

Symposiums

— Friday, June 15, 5 p.m. – “So You Want to Play the Bagpipes” Speaker: Piper Jean Hayes.

Jean Hayes is the official piper for the Tartans Museum. She pipes on Fridays throughout the summer for parades and events at the museum and competes at the Grandfather Mountain Games where she has won medals in Celtic harp. She will discuss the history of the bagpipes, demonstrate piping techniques and illustrate with familiar musical selections.

This seminar precedes the barbecue dinner at 6 p.m. and Ceilidh at the Big Bear Park and Playground at the Greenway on US 441 Business in Franklin.

— Saturday. June 16, – 1:30 p.m. “Why People Migrate

Speaker: Dr. Scott Philyaw.

Director of the Mountain Heritage Center and Professor of History at Western Carolina University. Dr. Philyaw will present the motivating philosophy of why people change location, a practice that has been the precursor in creating the world’s great cultures. It also helps us understand why Celtic people, and the Scots-Irish in particular, immigrated to America and found a homeland in the states along the Appalachian chain.

This seminar will take place in the assembly room at the Burrell Building across from the Museum.

— 3 p.m. “Scottish Traders and the Cherokee” Speaker: Bill Dyar.

Bill Dyar is a retired educator in the Macon County Schools and advisor to the National Champion Dance Team of the Order of the Arrow, Boy Scouts of America. Dyar is devoted to the understanding of Indian culture and Cherokee culture in particular. He wears authentic Cherokee costuming and brings many artifacts to his presentation. He discusses the effectiveness of the Scottish traders among the native villages in Western North Carolina in the 18th century.

— Sunday. June 17, 1:30 p.m. “The Montgomery Tour” Walter Taylor and Carl McSween.

Both men are historians with the Scottish Tartans Museum and Heritage Center. They will host a bus tour south (15 miles) to the Little Tennessee Basin where Col. Montgomery and his British forces (using Scottish regiments) attempted to rout the Cherokee and burn their villages in the 18th century. The skirmishes are audibly recreated at various points along the tour with demonstrations of powder musket techniques and bagpiping. The tour ends at the Nikwasi Indian Mound, Historic Site in Franklin, where the Council House of the Middle Towns of the Cherokee stood.

Tickets must be purchased at the Tartans Museum before it closes on Saturday. Passengers will be picked up at (1) the Franklin Presbyterian Church at 1:15 and also (2) at the Museum at 1:30.

For more information about the seminars, contact the Scottish Museum at (828)524-7472 or mike swift at eswift@ dnet.net.

Children’s Games

Children visiting the “Taste of Scotland” on Saturday will find activities planned for them in the children’s area behind the Burrell Building. Following each presentation of the sheep-herding, Scottish Games for the young people will be available, like pitching hay, tossing the caber (tubes from carpet rolls), and participating in tug of war and short track events. Participants’ ribbons will be awarded for each child taking part.

The Arts Council, headed by Director Bobbie Contino and her staff will help the children with Celtic crafts, such as making their own family crest and designing jewelry. A face painter will be available to paint their faces “Pictish Blue,” as Scots did before battle in the early days of the Dalriada.

Boy Scout Troop 202 will be assisting in the competitive events.

Border Collie Demonstrations

Border Collie Demonstrations will be held at the Taste of Scotland behind the Burrell Building on Saturday, June 16. Visitors will be able to watch the dogs work, to visit the animals and talk to the trainer, Bill Coburn of Windy Knoll Farms, in Laurens, SC.

Spectators will be able to hear the shepherd’s voice commands such as “stand”, “way to me” (go right), “come by” (go left), “lay down” and “that’ll do.” To work the dogs at a distance, these commands are translated into whistles. The program lasts about a half hour and will be repeated several times during the day. Check the program for times.

For more information, please visit The Scottish Tartans Museum website.

I’ll be there, and hope to have some photos and video available tomorrow and Monday.

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