Monday, March 06, 2006

An Interview with John Armor, Candidate for North Carolina's Eleventh District

John Armor came out swinging against his primary opponent, 8 term incumbent Charles Taylor (R-NC11) in a free wheeling Q&A with the netizens of BlogAsheville on Sunday, March 5th. Focusing extensively on Representative Taylor's laundry list of ethical problems, Armor also held forth on topics ranging from the 1804 Homestead Act to Gay Marriage to the Dubai Ports World deal.

Armor, aged 63, is a renowned legal authority and author of six books. He has argued cases before the United States Supreme Court and was instrumental in expanding ballot access to independent candidates in the 1980s. A registered Independent from 1976 until just a few years ago, Armor admitted, "If it were an open and fair world, I’d probably be a Libertarian… Government ought to leave people alone."

Charles Taylor, Armor emphasized, has a long history of ethical problems that could become criminal problems. Armor pointed out that, when Ann Ryder of the North Carolina Conservative questioned Taylor's press secretary about his bank holdings, the press secretary initially denied allegations of multiple shady holdings but later called Ryder back to change her statement to "No Comment". Further, Armor asserted that "Assuming he [Taylor] survives an ethics investigation, and there are multiple 5 million dollar gaps in what he filed [with the FEC]," Taylor's fiscal inconsistencies could lead to “criminal prosecutions”.

Armor "has over 3 million words in print" and continues to write at the NC Conservative,, and the Free Republic on Constitutional issues, media integrity, and other topics.

Here are some excerpts from our Sunday interview, direct quotes are indicated by quotation marks:
How do you plan to win the primary against Charles Taylor on May 2?

"Incumbents lose for three reasons": (1) Getting "crosswised with constituents on the issues"; (2) Getting your "ass in a crack on ethical issues"; (3) Committing a crime. Armor feels that Taylor may have two of the three criteria working against him.

Given the current political climate in Washington, Armor believes that Attorney General Gonzales wouldn't tell prosecutors to back off if they chose to seriously investigate Taylor's banking malfeasances, his connections to Jack Abramoff, etc.

Armor also gives Taylor a vote of no confidence regarding his botched CAFTA vote last year.

With plans to challenge Taylor, Heath Shuler, and Clyde Michael Morgan to a four-way debate in the near future, Armor would like to see the race thrown open, giving him a chance to get his name and views out to larger numbers of voters in the district. He stated that "getting press is like pulling teeth", and that the area's major print news source, the Asheville Citizen-Times, hasn't focused enough on his campaign.

On the subject of the changing economy of the district, Armor offered up a free market approach to the new employment climate:

Unemployment numbers vary greatly from county to county (4%-12.5%), and Charles Taylor is currently offering federal assistance only to those counties that are "compliant" with his agenda. Armor says he would put the most energy into the counties with the worst problems. He named Transylvania county as an example of a county that needs more help than it's getting.

"Once a plant is gone, it's not coming back," Armor said. When asked how to get good jobs back into the district, Armor said that thinking that way is akin to "being in the buggy whip business in 1905". The growing service economy in the region can provide jobs with fair wages, Armor asserted, using Hawaii's tourist economy as an example of how an area can prosper in a service-based economy. He cautioned, however, that government regulations prevent economic growth and can derail it.

When asked what specific policy recommendations he would make regarding economic incentives for businesses in the district, Armor, by way of example, spoke about debt forgiveness for individuals in 1804 Homestead Act. "Corporations, by and large, do react to economic stimuli. What states are leaking corporations? The ones with higher tax and regulation."

What is your position on the plan to sell National Forest land to supplement rural school funding?

Concerned about maintaining Forest Service funding in order to buttress our tourism industry, Armor stated, "If they’re isolated parcels, then there’s no reason they shouldn’t be sold off." "If they’re outliers that do not connect – they don’t do anyone any good and they require more maintenance."

“Why should money from the Forest Service go into the schools, when the forest service itself needs to repair and maintain its own facilities?”

When asked about his stance on the Bush administration's plan to give contracts in U.S. ports to the United Arab Emirates owned Dubai Ports World:

The Bush administration has "a tin ear of magnificent proportions" regarding the political fallout from this deal and should have handled the public relations better. Armor stated that lots of ports are managed by foreign companies. He was unconcerned that DPW is a state-owned company, and forecast that DPW will sell U.S. port access to a U.S. based subsidiary in order for the deal to go ahead.

We covered a lot more ground than I've mentioned here, but I've tried to report only those responses I recorded well. Mr. Armor was congenial, expansive and relaxed throughout our meeting, going so far as to ask for our financial support. If you'd like to contribute to John Armor's political campaign, click here.

Scrutiny Hooligans and BlogAsheville thank Mr. Armor for his willingness to sit down with us and answer questions without hesitation or manipulation. We welcome his presence in the race, believing that it will serve to deepen the debate over NC-11's future. Charles Taylor, Heath Shuler, and Clyde Michael Morgan are invited to come share "our" living room anytime. Just contact us at blogashevilleAThotmailDOTcom.


Edgy Mama said...

Wow, Screwy, you are an excellent journalist.

I, too, was impressed with Armor, despite my initial misgivings.

My major caveat is that he thinks global climate change is a non-issue. O the blinders.

syntax said...

re: fair wages in our "growing service economy"... hey, if armor thinks that he can make a good living (like, "own a home and support a family" good) as a waiter, busboy, baggage thrower or maid, then he needs to pass some of this knowledge along to the thousands of people in this area who can barely make ends meet.

screwy: would you be willing to float me a copy of the recording? i want to hear exactly what he had to say regarding fair-wage service jobs before i jump to any conclusions... i really hope he's not another "gods and clods" wingnut-with-money who believes that the poor need to be kept in their place in order to better serve the rich.

Screwy Hoolie said...


There's no "recording". I was typing his words on my laptop as quickly as I could. Regarding "fair-wage" service jobs, Armor insinuated that free-market competition could solve the problem of jobs going overseas, but we didn't get into the specifics. Suffice to say that Mr. Armor believes in incentive driven, largely deregulated capitalism.

syntax said...

ahhhhhh... i'm such an audio geek, automatically assuming "recorded" means "sound". sheesh. :)

hey, does your laptop have a built-in mic? if so, you could record audio directly to your laptop with the right software. could make things a little easier for future living room meetings. i'll talk to you about this a little later...

Screwy Hoolie said...

Using my mic would have been smart. I'm not as smart as all that though. Then again, when am I going to have time to review the interview and cull out text?

syntax said...

you'll have time for audio transcription when i become dictator of nu-perfect america©, and i officially extend the day to 26 hours!

seriously, having an audio backup of those kinds of sessions/meetings available for the sake of clarification isn't a bad idea, and would be really easy to do.

i'll talk to you more about this on thursday... in the meantime i'm nuts deep in layout design, if ya get me. :)

Screwy Hoolie said...

I can dig it.