Monday, March 31, 2008

Events in Asheville This Week

Photo is of our youngest and cutest speaker at the UNCA End the Occupation Rally on March 20,2008. They are standing in the torn up area in front of Vance Monument. This area has been torn up for almost three years, and I fail to understand why they cannot finish this project. I expect it to look horrible when they are done.

REALLY well done visual/audio on the Reading of the Names by the Vets for Peace on March 18,2008. THANK you, Mountain Express for doing this.

04/01/08 Department of Peace Campaign meeting at 7 PM at the Community Action Opportunities Meeting room at 25 Gaston Street in Asheville.

04/03/08 DEATH PENALTY OPPONENT SISTER HELEN PREJEAN TO SPEAK AT MARS HILL COLLEGE at 7 PM in Moore’s Auditorium. For more information, contact Mike Thornhill at 828/689-1298 or email: Sister Helen Prejean, the Catholic nun whose book and subsequent movie "Dead Man Walking" drew attention to death penalty issues, will speak at Mars Hill College's Moore Auditorium at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 3, 2008. Admission is free. The event is sponsored by the Mars Hill College Visiting Artists and Lecturers Committee.

04/05/08 Full day workshop on Peace Issues at New Garden Friends Meeting in Greensboro, NC. This will be followed by a concert by John McCutcheon. Two local Veterans for Peace guys will be speaking at this workshop. For more information, contact Patti Hughes at

04/05/08 Buncombe County Green Party meeting from 10 to 12 at Fortune Building on Haywood Street in Asheville.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Possible NC endorsements for US Senate seat

I am the state coordinator for Progressive Democrats of America here in NC - for the time being at least - I am stepping down next month. This year, we pursued obtaining an endorsement for a US Senate candidate by Progressive Democrats of America (PDA). PDA rules say that all chapters inside a state have to vote to endorse, and then endorse one candidate by majority rule in each chapter, for Senate candidate endorsements. We have five chapters in North Carolina.

Unfortunately, two of those chapters have told me that they have restrictions on their ability to endorse anyone running for a federal office. So, as a friend of mine said, THE RULES RULE.... and there will be no endorsement from Progressive Democrats of America. The remaining three chapters (Beaufort, Buncombe, and Mecklenburg) will consider endorsements on the chapter levels.

We had two candidates who took the time to fill out the PDA questionnaire for consideration. The candidates are Jim Neal and Duskin Lassiter. I am publishing them for everyone in NC to read and for the Progressive Democrat chapters to have access. Another candidate, Marcus Williams, sent in a statement, and I will include that also. Here they are:


Progressive Democrats of America Endorsement Questionnaire

2007 Endorsement Questionnaire for Candidate for U. S. Senate

Return to: Susan Oehler, Asheville NC

Please fill out this form if you are interested in pursuing an endorsement by the Progressive Democrats of Buncombe County, Progressive Democrats of Beaufort County, Guilford County Progressive Democrats, 9th Congressional District & Mecklenburg County Progressive Democrats, and Wake County Progressive Democrats.

We are part of Progressive Democrats of America a nation- wide grassroots organization of 100,000 members that works inside the Democratic Party and outside the Democratic Party in movements for peace and justice.

Please return this questionnaire by the deadline: March 15, 2007.

Altering or deleting the questions on this form may lead to disqualification. Please note that your answers on this questionnaire may be made public. If you need additional space to answer questions, please attach additional pages to the questionnaire.

Candidate and Campaign Information:

Candidate Name: Jim Neal
Address: 805 E. Franklin St.
City, State, Zip: Chapel Hill NC 27514
E-mail Address:

Office for which you are running: U.S. Senate for North Carolina
Date of Election: November 4, 2008
Registered Political Party: Democratic
Campaign Manager:
Phone: Andrew Kain Fax: 919-869-2801
Office: 919-544-1136 Email:

Campaign Consultant:

General Consultant: Jim Spencer, The Campaign Network

Phone: 617-561-3296 Fax: 617-561-3298

Media Consultant: Bill Hillsman, Northwoods Advertising


Finance Consultant: Jeff Hewitt, Hewitt Campaigns
African American Outreach: Alexander Killens,
Strategic Communications and Consulting

Campaign Address:
200 Meredith Dr.
Durham NC 27713


List endorsements from organizations and/or individuals:

Black Political Caucus of Charlotte-Mecklenburg
E-Quality Giving
Pam’s House Blend
Howie Klein, co-founder of the Blue America PAC
David Salie, the director of the groundbreaking on-line fundraising operation
John Ross Hendrix, a former candidate in the race
James C. Hormel, Ambassador
Hillary Rosen, a member of the Democratic National Committee
Bob Kerrey, former U.S. Senator
Paul Hardin, former UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor
Mandy Carter, Nobel Prize nominee and founding member of the National Black Justice Coalition
Mike Nelson- County Commissioner, Orange County
Mark Kleinschmidt- Chapel Hill City
Ross Bleckner, contemporary artist
James Protzman, “Anglico” on BlueNC
Dirk McCall, former President, Stonewall Democrats of NYC
Alan Van Capelle
Linda Ketner
Ralph Ketner, Founder, Food Lion
Jared Polis, Candidate, US House (D-Colorado)
Ken and Juan Ahonen-Jover
David Cornell
David Salie and Mark Bromley
David Mixner
Mitchell Gold, founder, Mitchell Gold/Bob Williams Furniture
Jesse White, Jr., former ARC Federal Co-Chairman
Bob Farmer, past DNC Finance Chair
Michael Flemming
Bert Woodard, President, Charlotte Business Guild
Jay Ovitorre-Candidate for US Congress (NC-6)

How would you describe yourself politically (i.e. progressive; moderate democrat, etc.)?

I would describe myself as a Democrat with an open mind.

List elective or political party offices you have held, including committee appointments:

I have never held elective office, though I served on the National Campaign Finance Committees for the Kerry-Edwards campaign, and General Wesley Clark in 2004.

What is your primary occupation?

I am the Chairman and CEO of the Agema Group LLC, a small business advisory firm. I have since relinquished all of my responsibilities as Chairman, as I am campaigning full-time for U.S. Senate.

Why are you running for the US Senate?

I am running for U.S. Senate because the people of North Carolina deserve an advocate in the U.S. Senate and a public servant who is a problem solver. For too long, Senator Dole has ignored the interests and needs of North Carolina to fulfill her own national political ambitions. But more than that, I believe our political system is broken, and in 2008, we can make real progress in changing the status quo. Politicians in Washington and Raleigh have co-opted our democracy, selling our interests to their well-connected, well-financed special interest contributors, and that has to change. We need real representation in the U.S. Senate, and I will be the voice for North Carolina, not the wealthy and well-connected, but everyone.

Issues Specific to Office:

What experiences have prepared you to run for the US Senate?

My professional background as an investment banker, entrepreneur, and problem solver has prepared me for the U.S. Senate. My personal and life experience as a single parent, who has seen both sides of life; from Wall Street to an employment line, from boom to bust and back. My experiences are similar to the millions of middle class families in this country who have seen success and failure. I have lived through the high times and the lean times. That is the voice I will bring to the U.S. Senate.

If you receive the endorsement of Progressive Democrats of America, how do you intend to use it?

I hope that I can work with the PDA to build on our grassroots volunteer operation, publicize your support through the media, leverage your support with other progressive political organizations, and hopefully, get small dollar contributions to get our message out.

Do you agree with Congress’ decision to reauthorize the Patriot Act?

Why or why not?

No. The Patriot Act was passed in a period of anxiety and fear following the heinous attacks on September 11th, and ignored fundamental constitutional protections. I would vote to repeal the Patriot Act, end the fear mongering of the Bush Administration, and re-institute our most basic rights as Americans.

If elected, which committee(s) would you prefer to serve on and why?

In order of preference, I would like to serve on the following committees:

  1. Small Business and Entrepreneurship: I would like to serve on this committee, because we need more small business expertise in Washington, and my experience would be well served here.

  1. Finance: With my experience on Wall Street, I know I could provide useful knowledge and experience to this complex and essential committee that manages our budget, finances, discretionary spending programs, and corporate responsibility.

  1. Foreign Relations: I think I could provide a fresh perspective on the Foreign Relations committee, and that our role in the world, both diplomatically and morally could be well served by such a new perspective.

Federal Issues:

1) Iraq:

PDA supports an immediate start to a rapid and complete withdrawal from Iraq of all troops and military contractors, and has championed legislation that would withhold funding for any other military purpose there. In addition, PDA believes that the U.S. must revise its strategy for the region by removing these forces from the Mideast entirely, rather than just "redeploying" them within the region. PDA advocates a shift in U.S. foreign policy from reckless unilateralism toward cooperation and diplomacy--so that people of other countries know us more by our helping hand than our slugging arm. Furthermore, PDA supports the redirecting of resources allocated for military spending to human needs.

Will you pledge to support such immediate and total withdrawal from Iraq of the military forces, including supporting legislation towards this goal?

Yes. I support a complete withdrawal; realistically taking 8-12 months to get the troops, materiel, and infrastructure out of Iraq to insure our assets/weaponry don’t fall into the wrong hands. In addition, I would not vote the authorization of funding for the Iraq war until a timetable for withdrawal has been set.

In addition, will you forswear any preemptive military attacks upon any nation?

I cannot, in good conscience, forswear against preemptive military action. While I will always support full diplomacy before military options are utilized, I do believe we can remove preemptive military action from the table, as dangerous nations do exist and are trying to acquire dangerous weapons (nuclear, chemical, biological). For example, if Pakistan were to undergo a revolution which put its nuclear arsenal under the control of radical interests, such as a Taliban-like regime, I would want all options available for responding to these threats.

Will you commit to fully support investigations into the White House's false claims justifying the invasion of Iraq, and would you support impeachment of Bush, Cheney and other administration officials for these and other high crimes?

Yes, I would support such an investigation and potential trial, as he mislead the nation, drew us into war based on false claims, and trampled the constitution. However, I hope that the 2008 elections and the imminent Democratic gains, will allow our nation to put the Iraq war behind us, and begin a period of national reconciliation.

Have you participated in or spoken at any events, demonstrations, meetings or teach-ins opposing the Iraq war and occupation?

Yes. My son Winston and I attended an anti-war demonstration in New York in 2002.

In addition, my campaign recently participated in the H2KonJ march in Raleigh, which involved anti-war activists and we signed a pledge in support of withdrawal from Iraq.

Have you organized any such events?


2) Health Care:

There are over 46 million uninsured people living in America, the majority of which are working Americans. Every year, nearly 18,000 people die unnecessarily as a direct result of their lack of health insurance. Millions, with health insurance, maintain inadequate, overly expensive coverage and face the peril of denials of claims or termination of benefits if a family member becomes seriously ill--one of the leading causes of bankruptcy in the U.S. While spending twice as much on health care as any other industrialized country, our system performs poorly, spending more money for less coverage, maximizing profits by finding ways to deny care. The private insurance bureaucracy expends one-third of health care money on waste, administrative paperwork, advertising and corporate profits. The current Medicare program for senior citizens spends under 4% of its budget for its overhead costs. Meanwhile, poor health, escalating health insurance premiums and spiraling health care costs impair our economy and job creation in the U.S.

PDA has endorsed HR 676, the National Health Insurance/"Expanded and Improved Medicare-for-All" Act. To guarantee comprehensive health care for all, PDA supports the replacement of the current profit-driven system, publicly financed, privately provided health care program. This "Medicare for All" national plan would save more than $350 billion per year, enough new money to provide guaranteed comprehensive health care for all. This system would insure portable and uniform benefits regardless of income. With no deductibles or co-pays, this plan would encourage preventive care and restore a doctor and patient controlled health care system affording choice of providers and fair, publicly negotiated payment for both treatment and medication.

What is your approach to the health care crisis?

Universal Health Care: Every family, every person in this country needs and deserves access to a primary care physician. We need to practice preventative medicine, not reactive medicine. And, we must drive the costs of health care delivery down by using technology as a means of reducing administrative costs and managing primary care, not just to deny claims.

What is your view of Guaranteed Health Care through an Expanded and Improved Medicare-for-All system?

I support expanding a Medicare-like system to include every man, woman, and child in our country, and guaranteeing access.

If elected, would you support a publicly financed, privately provided national health care program, which insures access to comprehensive health care for all in the U.S.?

No, because I support keeping the health care system managed in both the public and private sector.

Would you support a not-for-profit, doctor-patient controlled system which would eliminate the private health insurance industry (with protection for eliminated workers) as the intermediary determining access and the level of care?

Yes and no. As an intermediate step, I would like to implement a not-for-profit, doctor-patient controlled system, where public health care is facilitated and authorized by doctors, not administrators. I don’t envision being able to completely eliminate private insurance, as individuals and businesses will still seek private health care, and they deserve to have that choice.

Would you support the government's ability to negotiate fair prices for treatment as well as drugs, as it does for those covered by the Veteran's Administration's plan?

Yes. Negotiation and importation. No question.

3) Economic Justice:

The current generation has seen unprecedented levels of economic disparity, both among individuals (the richest 1% of Americans own almost 35% of all wealth; the bottom half, only 2.5%) and in the ratio of CEO pay to employee wages. Thirty-seven million people (equal to the population of California) are living in poverty in the U.S. These immoral levels of poverty, which disproportionate impact communities of color and women, can be significantly reduced through concerned legislative effort - including a living wage for all workers, expanded earned income tax credits, childcare assistance and housing vouchers. Specifically, the federal government must fulfill its promise of resources to Hurricane Katrina survivors so they can return to rebuild their communities in the Gulf Coast.

Tax burdens on the middle class can be eased if the wealthy pay their share. In addition to working to roll back Bush's tax breaks for the wealthy, PDA endorses the Equity in Income Act, limiting the amount of CEO compensation afforded federal corporate tax deductions. In emphatically supporting the workers' right to organize, we also endorse the Employee Free Choice Act, which establishes unions in any workplace where a majority of workers sign union cards to join. In the global arena, PDA supports anti-sweatshop legislation and fair trade agreements which protect workers' rights as well as the environment, while opposing wage-reducing "free trade" agreements that protect only corporate rights to exploit unprotected labor. PDA also advocates for humane and comprehensive immigration reform, which insures a fair, attainable path to citizenship and the rights of undocumented workers in the workplace, affirming the dignity and integrity of immigrant families.

What is your position on "Fair Trade" versus "Free Trade" agreements?

I support trade, as it is good for our economy and our foreign policy. I do, however, believe we must work to include Fair Trade aspects into our trade agreements. Labor regulations and environmental protections, for example. But, we also need to lead our trading partners, not only through agreements, but through example. Eight years of the Bush Administration has affected our diplomatic standing across the world, whether for climate, fair trade, or peace missions. We must begin by being a leader again in the world, and then our trade agreements must reflect our status as such.

Will you have pledge to reverse the tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans?


Do you support the right of workers to organize, in any situation?


What is your relationship to labor nationally and in your district?

Because this is my first run at elective office, I am not eligible for union endorsements, because based on the rules of the AFL-CIO I must have a public voting record to be considered for endorsement for the office of U.S. Senate. I have had some very good discussions, and learned a lot from those discussions. My campaign has made every effort to reach out to members of the Labor Movement, we have invested in an American made hybrid for transportation, and, unlike my opponent, and we have used a union printer for all of our campaign materials.

Do you have union endorsements and supporters in your district?

No, I have not received any union endorsements (see above), but I do have several dedicated union members (and member families) helping my grassroots effort.

What is your approach to bringing communities "out of poverty"?

In short, I plan to initiate a “home-grown wealth” and entrepreneurial development plan to build quality, sustainable industries and small business in North Carolina, specifically in rural and poverty stricken communities. Infrastructure and technology investment, improved education and adult education programs, micro-lending and investment capital focusing, and entrepreneurial development are all part of the plan.

In addition, bolstering educational opportunities: Head Start, universal Pre-K education, after-school program funding, and investing in college education opportunities such as Pell Grants and a Youth Corps Program to allow young people to re-pays college debt through a public service commitment.

You can see the complete plan at:

Would you support the legislation of the “out of poverty” caucus?

Yes, thus far, the legislation of the out of poverty caucus: cutting poverty, expanding food stamps, and expanding health care coverage are all legislative items I would have supported. My staff and I have looked for a complete list or agenda of the “out of poverty” caucus, and thus far have been unable to identify a comprehensive plan. But, thus far, all of their legislative initiatives I would support and champion.

What efforts would you support to provide meaningful resources to Katrina survivors?

The Katrina relief effort was a tremendous failure on behalf of Washington, and we owe the people of the Gulf Coast region a tremendous debt. For starters, we have to fix the levee system in New Orleans to make sure this never happens again. In addition, housing re-location grants to allow people who want to return a low-cost option for housing financing. Infrastructure grants are needed to rebuild the region after the tremendous devastation. In short, I don’t think we know the full costs to Katrina survivors, but FEMA trailers infested with mold are a slap in the face to the survivors of this tragedy.

Do you support comprehensive and humane immigration reform as outlined above?

Yes, unquestionably.

Have you reached out to immigrant communities and advocates in your district?

Yes. I have met with students of immigrant families at UNC during my most recent tour there. I have also sponsored an immigrant family from Vietnam as a member of IRC.

4) Clean, Fair, Transparent Elections:

The U.S. election system is in crisis. Not only are the usual corrupting factors of money and corporate lobbying as rampant as perhaps at any time in U.S. history, but the new millennium – along with the fallout from the contested 2000 election - have ushered in a qualitative change in the conduct of our elections: Centuries of tradition in which citizens, government officials and Party representatives oversaw physical evidence of voter intent have fallen to the rise of the machines. This sea change, from paper to ephemeral electrons, brings much more than the implicit demand to trust the invisible: the move to computers means that 85% of America has ceded control of its elections to third party vendors, whose legal claims regarding proprietary software bring corporate control of the entire voting process. PDA thus supports federal legislation that would ban the use of touch-screen (“DRE”) voting machines.

Will you pledge, if elected, to support only voting methods in which ballots are cast

on paper?


Do you pledge to support “Clean Money” public financing of public elections?

Yes. In fact, I have pledged, if I get elected, to never accept more than $250 from any donor. While not public financing, I believe it is important to set a high standard and lead by example when it comes to campaign finance.

Would you accept public financing for your current campaign?


Do you support the restoration of voting rights to past felony offenders?

Yes, if they served their time, they should enjoy the full rights (and responsibilities) of citizens.

Do you support same-day voting registration?


Would you oppose the onerous requirement of official photo identification before

affording citizens access to the polls?


5) Environment/ Global Warming:

No issue reveals more clearly the flaws of the U.S. political-economic system than global warming - the dominance of greed and corporate power over the public good, and the near-sighted focus on the short-term over the welfare of future generations. It is known that the U.S. has the natural resources to power the entire country solely from clean, “alternative” sources of power- whether with solar cells that would require a miniscule fraction of the California desert, or from wind turbines on the Great Plains and in the Great Lakes. It has also often been said that we need a new Apollo Program for clean energy (if not Manhattan Project), in which science, industry and government would cooperate on a crash course to produce novel results in a limited period. Immediate action would include raising the auto fuel economy and impose mandatory caps on carbon pollution while investing in public transportation, energy conservation technologies and alternative energy development--in the process, creating new jobs which pay well. PDA calls on the Democratic majority in Congress to lead boldly in reducing our country's oil dependence and use of fossil fuels.

Will you pledge to take an uncompromising leadership role on legislation to enact

the enormous changes and sacrifices that will be required to stem Global Warming?

No, because leadership requires compromise. I want to be, and will be a leader on legislation to enact real change to stem Global Warming, but I also acknowledge that not everyone will agree with my path to a solution. I will be an advocate, I will persist in gaining consensus for my ideas and priorities, but I will also work with my colleagues to truly address this issue and find real solutions to get to 51 (or 60) votes.

Will you pledge to enact an Apollo Program for clean energy?

Yes, absolutely. We need a national initiative of the top priority to find, develop, and foster clean energy development and technology. America should be a worldwide leader and innovator in this field, and we have the money, resources, and minds to make it a reality. We just need a national commitment, and the “Apollo” program is just such a commitment.

What kind of personal vehicle do you currently drive? Is it rated ZEV, or PZEV?

I drive a 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid.

Will you work to improve the air quality in our country?




Please estimate your campaign costs:

Primary Election: $750,000

General Election: $8,000,000

How much money have you raised to date?


Please list independent expenditures that may impact your race:

To my knowledge, none.



Candidate Name: Duskin Lassiter

Address: 7992 NC Highway 8 Lexington, NC 27292

E-mail address:

Office for which you are running: U.S. Senate for North Carolina

Date of Election: November 4, 2008

Registered Political Party: Democratic

Campaign Mananger: Edwina King

Campaign Treasurer: Edwina King, Phone: (336) 884-1159 Fax: (336) 884 5019

Campaign Aide: Lyssa Stuckey Phone: (336) 441-5285 Fax: (336) 441-0041

Campaign Address: 1824 W. English Rd. High Point, NC 27262

1. List endorsements from organizations and/or individuals:

2. How would you describe yourself politically (i.e. progressive; moderate democrate, etc.)?
I am not fond of labels, but I would describe myself as a Franklin D. Roosevelt style of Democrat.

3. List elective or political party offices you have held, including committee appointments:

4. What is your primary occupation:
I own and operate a trucking company.

5. Why are you running for US. Senate?
I’m running because the current free trade agreements are destroying the manufacturing base of this country, which is seriously affecting my business. If elected, I will aggressively defend the American worker. The second reason for running is the overall lack of an energy policy. I use tens of thousands of gallons of fuel per year. For this reason, I support a bold five year plan using a closed loop photo bio-reaction system. This plan can lead our nation to energy independence. Third, I believe that universal healthcare is not a privilege, but a right. I take a unique stand on certain issues, but I believe in doing what is best for America as a whole.

6. What experiences have prepared you to run for the US Senate?
Running my own small business has given me exposure to other small business owners throughout the country. Without this experience, I would be a poor candidate indeed.

7. If you receive the endorsement of Progressive Democrats of America, how do you intend to use it?
Winning this endorsement would mean one step in many towards building a coalition that can actually beat Elizabeth Dole. It is not enough to just win the Democratic activist vote we also need the independent vote as well. The independent voter is not ignored by the republicans, and that is why they keep sending republicans to the US Senate.

8. Do you agree with Congress’ decision to reauthorize the Patriot Act?
No. The Patriot Act does not reflect our democratic principles this country was founded on. President Bush has abused the powers of his office and Congress has offered no oversight or guidance.

9. If elected, which committee(s) would you prefer to serve on and why?
I’d prefer to serve in the committees responsible for trade, budget, military affairs as well as foreign policy. This is where true leadership is needed.

10. Will you pledge to support such immediate and total withdrawal from Iraq of the military forces, including supporting legislation towards this goal?
The speed of our withdrawal all depends on the current government of Iraq. I see no movement towards political reconciliation, nor do I see progress towards the improvement of women’s basic civil rights. I can’t support a regime that isn’t democratic and fair. In light of these facts on the ground, we need to leave sooner rather than later. If the Iraqi government changes its position, I will reexamine my own.

11. In addition, will you forswear any preemptive military attacks upon any nation?
Yes, a preemptive strike is nothing more than a nice way of saying “a war of aggression”.

12. Will you commit to fully support investigation into the White House’s false claims justifying the invasion of Iraq, and would you support impeachment of Bush, Chaney and other administration officials for these and other high crimes?
It sounds like a wonderful thing to do, but by the time I’m elected they will be literally walking out the door. No doubt we in the Democratic Party will be glad to see their backsides.

13. Have you participated in or spoken at any events, demonstrations, meetings or
teach-ins opposing the Iraq war and occupation?
Yes. Most every time I speak, I voice my opposition to the war in Iraq.

14. Have you organized any such events?
No. Unfortunately my work schedule keeps me from planning a large event.

15. What is your approach to the health care crisis?
I feel there is a need for mandatory healthcare. My plan is based on a percentage of personal income. The day you are born, your coverage starts. The day you start working is the day you begin paying for your healthcare.

16. What is your view of Guaranteed health Care through an Expanded and Improved Medicare-for-All system?
It’s the best thing to come around since sliced bread.

17. If elected, would you support a publicly financed, privately provided national healthcare program, which insures access to comprehensive health care for all in the U.S.?

18. Would you support a not-for-profit, doctor-patient controlled system for which would eliminate the private health insurance industry (with protection for eliminated workers) as the intermediary determining access and the level of care?

19. Would you support the government’s ability to negotiate fair prices for treatment as well as drugs, as it does for those covered by the Veteran’s Administration’s plan?

20. What is your position on “Fair Trade” versus “Free Trade” agreements?
Free trade agreements are destroying America. I support a Balanced Trade Policy that ends our 758 billion dollar deficit.

21. Will you have pledge to reverse the tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans?

22. Do you support the right of workers to organize, in any situation?

23. What is your relationship to labor nationally and in your district?
I fully support them.

24. Do you have union endorsements and supporters in your district?
I currently do not have any endorsements, I am new at this.

25. What is your approach to bringing communities “out of poverty?”
I feel that a one dollar per hour increase each year until the minimum wage reaches $12.00 per hour would bring communities out of poverty. I will also demand a return of our manufacturing and service industry jobs from overseas. These industries must be protected to insure long term growth for our nation.

26. Would you support the legislation of the “out of poverty” caucus?
Yes. I know what poverty is.

27. What efforts would you support to provide meaningful resources to Katrina survivors?
I would support more affordable home loans and flood insurance, plus enforce better building code standards.

28. Do you support comprehensive and humane immigration reform as outlined above?
I feel that with 12% of the population being foreign born, we have already opened our doors wide open. With the economic situation being what it is, we must take another look at who we let in. ½ the world’s population would love to live here, but this country couldn’t support that. Real wages have been on the decline since the early 70’s. We currently have an oversupply of low wage workers and the average illegal crossing the border has a 7th grade education and speaks no English. The best way to fight poverty in America is to lower the supply of low skilled workers coming into the country. This would raise low income American workers’ wages by 8-10%. This is how to fight poverty. Finally, I don’t think it’s a good idea to reward someone who has broken the law. We should remember about all those immigrants who do follow the rules. I think they would be quite upset to see that the rule of law doesn’t matter.

29. Have you reached out to immigrant communities and advocates in your district?
I ask for support from law abiding legal immigrants.

30. Will you pledge, if elected, to support only voting methods in which ballots are cast on paper?

31. Do you pledge to support “Clean Money” public financing of public elections?

32. Would you accept public financing for your current campaign?

33. Do you support the restoration of voting rights to past felony offenders?

34. Do you support same-day voting registration?

35. Would you oppose the onerous requirement of official photo identification affording citizens access to the polls?

36. Will you pledge to take an uncompromising leadership role on legislation to enact the enormous changes and sacrifices that will be required to stem Global Warming?

37. Will you pledge to enact an Apollo Program for clean energy?
Yes, I’ve done that already!

38. What kind of personal vehicle do you currently drive? Is it rated ZEV, or PZEV?
My personal vehicle is a 1998 Ford Ranger. It is not a zero emission vehicle.

39. Will you work to improve the air quality in our country?
Absolutely. I want to propose a 5 year, $308 billion plan that not only removes 90% of carbon dioxide from the air, but will make us energy independent.


Approximately 100-150 a month in office operation for Nov-May, I estimate $1,000, and including fuel, dry-cleaning, and fees to apply to run, I would estimate $5,000.

General Election: I hope to raise more money after the primary and add advertising to my current budget.

How much money have you raised to date?
Our campaign has not raised a significant amount; I have been financing the campaign with my own funds.

Please list independent expenditures that may impact your race:
Simply taking time off from my business is a huge personal expense and sacrifice on my part, but if I can make this country better, it’s worth every penny I’ve spent.



Thank you for including me in your outreach to the candidates for U.S. Senate. My responses to your thorough and well-researched questionnaire are as follows:

Marcus W. Williams
Attorney At Law
P.O. Box 1005
Lumberton, N.C.

Candidate for the U.S. Senate: Primary, May 6th General, November 4th

Democratic Party

Since I entered the contest on February 29th, 2008, the deadline for the issuance of most endorsements had expired.

Politically speaking, I am an eclectic pragmatist, with steady progressive fire.

My political experience includes a unique "hat trick" in student governments. I was the first person ever elected Student Body President at Lumberton High School after the consolidation of the racially segregated school systems. Again, I was honored to have been elected Student Body President at the Univ. of N.C. in Chapel Hill, where we made some landmark contributions (including the initiation of mass transit on campus, the implementation of the current unicamel legislative body known as the CGC and the seminal application for UNC-FM radio). Finally, I was elected Student Body President at the Univ. of Minnesota School of Law, the first minority to attain that position.

I served for 3 terms as chair of Precinct 16 in Wilmington, N.C., twice as the Parliamentarian at the New Hanover County Democratic Convention, Vice Chair of New Hanover County Democratic Party and Chairman of the Platform Committee of the County Democrats (in the last year in which Democrats were elected in the majority of all major Boards or Commissions in New Hanover County).

My occupation is that of being a lawyer (28.5 years). My consistent career focus has been to empower and represent low income individuals in their critical, civil survival needs. For 17 of my 22 years in Legal Services, I served as Executive Director of three Legal Services Programs. Legal Services of the Coastal Plains in northeast N.C. spanned 11 counties, which were: Bertie, Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Halifax, Hertford, Northampton, Pasquotank and Perquimans. In Wilmington, N.C., I spearheaded a large seven county program covering Bladen, Brunswick, Colombus, Duplin, New Hanover, Onslow and Pender counties. Subsequently, my duties as Executive Director of statewide Pennsylvania Legal Services based out of Harrisburg, PA, required executive supervision and leadership of 24 locally based programs throughout all 67 counties of that (at the time) fifth largest state in the U.S. My final twist as a blue collar lawyer was to serve as an Assistant Public Defender to represent indigents in criminal matters.

I am running for the U.S. Senate because I am sincerely convinced that I have acquired the unique sets of skills, especially through advocacy in significant defining struggles, which has forged me into being the best equipped to serve all
of the people of N.C. Further, I was not satisfied with what or who was being offered. On the one hand, the incumbent has served as the out of state, unwavering, national chief cheerleader for a failed and discredited Republican administration. On the other hand, the two leading Democratic candidates constituted more of the same old story. One, who had to be cajoled into running, is the hand-picked nominee of the old guard, power elite of the party. The other is the darling of the high-financed, special interest groups. I know North Carolina can do much better.

Many of the aforementioned advocacy challenges have prepared me in a broad substantive context to serve, lead and assure that my staff provides excellent constituent services. Further, my experience in successfully creating and sustaining community based, economic development projects provides the blue print for collaborative public private partnerships which could be replicated to uplift impoverished communities. As a U.S. Senator, I could lead the resurgence of our blighted communities, help provide meaningful job opportunities and rebuild the expectations of our youth.

The endorsement of the PDA would constitute a point of reference needed to demonstrate and acknowledge our substantive gravitas and give this campaign
exciting momentum.

Reauthorization of the Patriot Act was necessary if only to quell some fears. The Act can be inherently dangerous when it is cited and used to eviscerate our individual constitutional freedoms, which I intend to staunchly safeguard.

The Judiciary, Appropriations and Foreign Relations Committees interest me at this juncture. However, I would reserve my right to change should the newly constituted Senate offfer better leadership possibilities.

It should be noted that I have always opposed the war in Iraq. The documented public expression came during the Dr. Martin Luther King celebration convened by the Moore County NAACP in February, prior to the bombing, in which I was the keynote speaker. While evoking the spirit of Dr. King, I insisted: Mr. President , DO NOT go to war over oil.

I feel that the Iraq war was ill-advised, unnecessary and pretentious. My pains of conscience indicate that I should have done more to try to thwart it. At least, now I feel I will have the blessed opportunity to help to end it.

I applaud the PDA's emphasis on diplomacy and cooperation.Personally, I subscribe to Lincoln's mantra: Malice towards none; charity to all. Simultaneously, I am cognizant that we must stay vigilant with all of the military options prepared to be invoked or utilized with split second speed. Perhaps I am informed by the fact that my father was an Army officer, or was it those Air Force ROTC courses which I studied while at UNC in Chapel Hill?

Therefore, with respect to Iraq, I would maintain quick strike capability to serve as a working deterrent for any inimical, radical extremist force which may have designs to cripple or proactively damage our national security.

With respect to economics, first, let me share the fact that I took a heavy concentration of courses in economics in Chapel Hill and but for Student Government responsibilities, it would have been my second degree. Therefore,
I view the current fair trade/free trade dichotomy with an informed base of knowledge. Moreover, having served as chief executive officer for seventeen years of balanced budgets, with no questioned costs or defalcations, I intuitively know how to manage fiscal matters. Fair and free trade is what I would pursue.

With respect to unions, I was pleased to interface successfully with seven unions while serving as CEO of Legal Services in Pennsylvania. All collective bargaining agreements were honored and there was an atmosphere of mutual respect and seamless cooperation on my watch.

With respect to the Katrina episode, there is no greater example of the deleterious effects of cronyism. Of course the survivors deserve what they were promised and what assistance was allocated. Moreover, the diversion of applicable resources should be investigated and safeguards implemented to obviate recurrence of abuses.

As an inveterate runner/jogger, especially in my younger days, I pledge to do what must be done to promote clean energy and the concomitant features of clean air and water.

My S-10, 4 cylinder Chevy 2000 truck is not a major environmental problem. I, do, look forward to encouraging the scientific community to unleash its genius to ween us from our dependence on oil. Tax incentives and the economic returns to scale will enable the U.S. to prevail ultimately in this arena.

Finally, with respect to restoration of the rights of felons, be advised that such a provision does exist in N.C. It, generally, is incumbent upon the felon to complete all the requirements of the sentence and re-register to vote.

With your help, we will win the Primary and inherit the traditional resources (preferably not PAC money) of the Democratic Party as we fight for the win in November. Thank you for the opportunity to vie for your support.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The YES Men

Subject: Use of a website... infringing copyright on the trademarks of BP p.l.c.
Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2008 14:15:09 -0000
From: White, Robert S C <>

Dear Sirs,
My name is Robert White and I work in Group Trade Marks - part of the Legal Department of BP p.l.c. Our responsibilities extend to protecting the BP brand and trade marks which includes monitoring the internet for infringements and fraudulent activities.

Our attention has been drawn to the existence of the following web pages.

You will note that these pages bear a remarkable similarity to the genuine <> website. You will observe that the webpages in question include multiple
reproductions of the BP logo. BP p.l.c. has not authorised this and submit that this infringes the copyright in BP's trademarks. In addition, we are concerned that there is a real risk of that genuine visitors could be confused and being diverted away from the genuine <> site. For example, please refer to link to the "Contact Us" page

You will see that there are a number email addresses listed all ending in "". BP neither owns the <> domain and nor the email addresses attached to the domain.

Whilst we do not object to the per se, our concerns relate to the web pages
appearing at the level (and below) in the hierarchy of the site.

Yours faithfully,

*Robert White*
BP p.l.c.
Group Trade Marks
20 Canada Square
E14 5NJ
United Kingdom

Direct Line: +44 (0) 207 948 5726
Fax: +44 (0) 207 948 7723


Subject: Use of a website... infringing copyright on the trademarks of BP p.l.c.

Dear Mr. White, BP p.l.c.,

Thank you very much indeed for taking the time to write to us in regard to your company's website, First of all, please allow me to say that we do completely understand and
sympathize with the hurt that your company has every right in the world to feel, and we deeply apologize for occasioning this emotion.

And although we do know that there can be no excuse at all for this slight, I would beg your indulgence for just one minute, so that I might try to explain our side of the story, such as it is.

Back in 2006, we began preparing some satires on a number of companies that we considered to be the world's prime malefactors, in order to help expose their monstrous crimes in a humorous way. These companies included ExxonMobil, Halliburton/KBR, and a number of other entities, including your own.

Sadly, while we did get around to fully realizing some of the spoofs - including the ones on Exxon and Halliburton - we actually *forgot* about yours shortly after we began work on it, and it thus remained in the execrable half-finished state in which, to your horror, you found it last week. It didn't even have its own URL!

I would like to sincerely apologize to your company on behalf of the Yes Men. Like morons, we were misled by appearances. Like morons, we thought - or rather, felt - that the malefaction of those other companies was more... maleficent than your own. Yes, we can be real morons sometimes. There is no doubt of that. But I am here to tell you today that we are making efforts. We now understand that objectively, BP does every bit as much damage to this planet as does Exxon, Halliburton, or any other more obviously nefarious company, regardless of its carefully engineered professions of decency and concern. And we are ready today to prove our maturity, sincerity, and newfound intelligence by offering you a fully realized spoof of your own: We have likewise deleted the offending pages you refer to below.

I know that our admissions today may be rubbing salt in your wounds, but I do hope that this website can in some way make amends. Any relationship, after all, must start from a place of truth and honesty, not deceit and subterfuge. This is the honest truth, and so this is where we begin. Again, please accept our deepest apologies, and our hopes for a better future.

Yours most faithfully indeed,
The Yes Men

[I just love The Yes Men - if you have have a chance to watch one of their movies, do it! You won't be sorry! They are amazingly funny, while being brutally honest!]

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Linked in the comments

Someone left a comment about this video about World Peace. It is short and sweet.


UNCA Rally on Thursday

On Thursday, the SDS group at UNCA organized a walk-out from their campus to downtown. I was there to table for Progressive Democrats of America and the WNC Peace Coalition. It was very windy, but dry. It was exciting to see and hear the students marching up Patton Avenue towards Pack Square. A couple of them had Iraqi flags, such as in this photo.

This was a small group too - about 60 people. They had some great chants and some great speakers - all of whom used a megaphone, since getting permits from the city was too expensive for this group. One woman, Charla, stood on the big stone in this picture and gave a rousing speech. Cicada and I represented WNC Peace Coalition, and ended by having everyone sing "If I had a hammer" and "Ain't gonna study war no more". I really enjoyed this rally. It was lively and spirited.

Next year, the 6th anniversary of the invasion and occupation and destruction of Iraq will be on a Thursday/Friday (depending on if you call it on the 19th or 20th), and we are discussing having one big rally - who knows where. I know one thing - I will not propose "Six days of action for six years of occupation". Between the events scheduled this week and all the blogging on Iraq (see Iraq Today blog for a rundown on all the stories published this week), I find that I am exhausted.

The last event for this week was the taking down of the Iraqi Civilian Peace Flags at UU church. A lot of these flags ended up sliding down their poles, indicating that we need to replace some of them. Unfortunately, some of the poles were stepped on, but a guy from UU church is going to straighten them out. We think it was kids who did this.

I think it is important to get out on the streets and show our opposition to this illegal and immoral war - so that the rest of the world knows that we do not support the evil our government is doing. I called the White House Comment Line (202-456-1112) three times this week and told them to tell bush about the thousands of Iraqi children who are in Syria and are engaging in prostitution in order to survive. I also told them to tell bush to go to hell.

Update on Shuler Town Hall Meeting: well, that was mainly, but not totally, worthless. I did get a great cookie out of it. I got there late (had to work late) but did give flyers on our upcoming events for No More Victims to two staff members of Shuler's office. I gave them to a few other people too. Shuler was going on and on about prayer breakfasts that they hold in DC, and how the Democrats and Republicans have to work together (seems to me they are - they are working together to destroy our country and most of the world), and how they should treat one another with concern and care about each other.

Frankly, most of those lawmakers in DC only get contempt from me.

There was a handout there from the Network of Spiritual Progressives, and a friend mentioned how they have some cool ideas - some of which sounded like Shuler's ideas of everyone getting along.

Well, I don't want to 'get along'. I want the damn criminals arrested, tried and put in jail. I WANT THE KILLING TO STOP.

But, no sign of that. Those idiots will keep having their prayer breakfasts and shaking hands and cooperating with one another, and the crimes and the torture and the kidnappings and the murders and the wars of aggression will keep going merrily on and on and on........

Until the economy crashes. That is going to happen, and I hope it puts an end to all these crimes, at least for a while.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Town Hall Meeting with Rep Shuler

Town Meeting with Congressman Heath Shuler


Wednesday, March 26, from 7:00 - 8:30 PM.

At the N.C. Center for Creative Retirement on UNCA's campus (directions at

Come & talk to our Congressman! This forum is open to the public at no charge.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Wednesday's rally and vigil

The WNC Peace Coalition had it's annual Peace Rally on Wednesday, March 19th. We have had a Peace Rally every year since 2003, and starting in 2004, we hold them on (or near) March 19th. The rally in February 2003 was the largest one - we had over 2000 people show up on a cold windy day to say that they did not want this war. We were not alone - there were millions of people who protested that day.

We usually hold the Peace Rally outdoors and have about 300-500 people there. There was a jump in the number in 2006, but not last year. Last year, we held the rally in front of City Hall, thinking it was best to use our public spaces. But the Asheville Parks and Recreation are a major pain in the behind, and they make it rather expensive to hold a rally. On top of that, we had to get a sound system, and that was expensive. We decided this year to hold a short rally indoors, and then go out on the street to protest. Part of the reasoning behind this was the fact that the invasion anniversary was on a Wednesday, and the weekend before was Winter Soldier. The weekend after was Easter.

So, we were allowed to use the sanctuary of First Congregational Church for our rally. We had Jason Hurd of Iraq Veterans Against the War speak, and his picture is above. He was at Winter Soldier last weekend, and he was shown on Democracy Now this week. He is a very good speaker about what has happened in Iraq and why we need to get out of there. This was followed by the Raging Grannies, some of whom are shown in the photo above. They do a great song routine about the current situation we are living in. I really enjoyed hearing them again, but some of them had reservations about singing their songs inside a church.

We had about 40 people at our short rally, and the pouring rain stopped just before we ended the program.

Move On had called for a vigil, and since it was pouring rain all day, they decided to hold their vigil indoors - in the basement of First Congregational Church. The sun came out about an hour before their 7 PM vigil, and some folks were upset that we were all indoors instead of out on the street. I had left the church and walked to a local deli downtown to get some dinner, and directed the people I saw downtown to where the vigil was being held. After the program ended (they read some statements from our veterans of this occupation and war), some of them went out to Pack Square to protest.

One of the problems that we have here in Asheville - in regards to public protests - is that the city has torn up the available parks in downtown Asheville. At Pritchard Park, they put in a huge ugly statue were we used to stand to vigil to mark the anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But in Pack Square and City-County Plaza, what they did is much worse - they have had this torn up for over two years now - and they still are not done! It is a total mess. They took out the nice fountain that was there, and turned the stage area into a swamp when it rains. I wonder if they will ever finish it and I also wonder if they are doing their best to chase out the public and turn this area into a "courtyard" for elite condos that they have tried to build around it. They have stopped them from building one huge condo building already.

They seem to be set on chasing out the drummers and the homeless in Pritchard Park, and they don't want any "free speech" or candle light vigils either. They put up a guard house in Pritchard Park in their efforts to chase off the homeless and keep it quiet for the new rich people in the neighborhood. One has to wonder why someone would buy a condo in a downtown area and expect it to be quiet.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The reading of the names

The reading of the names started at sunrise, and went on for most of the day. This picture shows Kim reading the names and an unknown lady ringing the bowl. Someone off to the side is holding a sign that says "End the War".

Earlier in the day, a women with an Australian accent stopped by. She said that she did not know that the group doing this was against the war (so what else doesn't she know?) and that she was grateful and concerned about the troops over in Iraq, since they were keeping us safe. (I didn't ask what they were keeping us safe from.) I mentioned the over one million dead, and she flatly said that she did not care about them. I guess this makes her evil. A local radio station, KISS, was there reporting on what was going on and broadcasting some of the reading of the names. I listened to them as I drove home - they were making it into a pro-war event.... and I think they were the reason that people kept showing up to honor our troops and had no idea "Veterans for Peace" and "Iraq Veterans Against the War" were putting this event on.

I know this event meant a lot to veterans. Several stopped by during the day and expressed their gratitude. However, on the whole, I think this honoring of the fallen veterans actually promoted more war and militarism. After they finished reading the names of US military, I read some names of Iraqi children killed in the early days of the war. I only read one page worth. If we were to read the names of the Iraqi dead, it would take 240 days, not part of one day.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

This past week

We had lots of actions and events in Asheville during this past week - all to mark five years of hideously evil occupation of Iraq. On Friday, March 14th, we had movie night at UU church in Asheville. This was done by the UU Church's Social Justice Committee. We showed "Caught in the Crossfire" which is about what happened to Fallujah in 2004. Basically, the US military destroyed the place. Pretty amazing, and sickening, to think our military went in to destroy a town when those people living there had never attacked our country at all. But, such is the evil war and occupation of Iraq. At the UU movie night, we also had a presentation by Ann Cothran of No More Victims. We did some fund raising too.

Before the movies and the presentation, we put up the Iraqi Civilian Peace Flags on the lawn of UU church on Charlotte Street.

On Saturday, we had a house party for No More Victims. Lew, who works on nearly all the peace and social justice issues, was the host. Unfortunately, he was sick and missed his own party. His wife filled in for him, and this was a fund raiser too. It rained like crazy on Saturday.

On Sunday, some of us went to Greenville, which I already wrote a blog post about.

On Monday, the WNC Peace Coalition had a movie night at Pack Library. We had about 25 people there, and we showed "The Dreams of Sparrows". This movie is the first full length feature film from Iraq, and it was finished filming in June 2004. Some of the film is in Arabic, and unfortunately, some of the captions were cut off at the bottom. I don't know why that happened, since it is fine on my computer and on TVs. This film is interesting in that it shows how Iraqi's opinions of the occupation change over time. Some of them loved bush at first, but when the security situation really deteriorated and basic services were not restored (it took Saddam 45 to restore services after the bombing in 1991), their feelings changed. One of the film makers was shot for getting too close to the US military, and they showed the after effects of the bloody car. He died, of course. At the end of the film, one of the film maker says that "Baghdad is hell" and that was in June 2004. It got much, much worse.

I am of the opinion that the bushies did not 'mismanage' Iraq. I believe they destroyed it on purpose.

That brings us up to 5:30 AM on Tuesday morning, which was when the picture above was taken. It is a picture of WLOS filming an interview with Kindra at the Veteran's Peace Park. You can see that I set up the display for the Iraqi deaths off to the side. It is also clear that these veterans are opposed to the war, from the billboard that is there all the time. Kindra was there with me and David, we were setting up and getting ready for the reading of the names of all the US military who have been killed in Iraq. Ron started reading the names at sunrise.

I will post tomorrow on how that day went - stay tuned!