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A lawyer from the N.C. attorney general's office surprised a lot of folks the other day in an administrative law hearing. He asked Judge Joe Webster if he could summarize the views of Gov. Bev Perdue on a request by Stanly County to stop a state permit the Alcoa Power Generating Inc. wants. The company needs it to renew its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license to operate hydroelectric dams on the Yadkin River.

Bob Moser was there that day in Greensboro 36 years ago, a boy riding on his daddy's shoulders while President Richard Nixon and Republican senatorial nominee Jesse Helms were publicly honing the Southern Strategy that would capture the South for the Republican Party and frustrate southern Democrats for a generation. Nixon and Helms were whipping up fervor for law and order and traditional values and inciting the crowd against long hairs, liberals, criminals – anyone who could be demonized into an “us versus them” formula that would marginalize Democrats and elect Republicans.

They called them doughboys. American soldiers serving near the Mexican border wore a coat of white power that arose with almost every step in the chalky adobe soil there. One story goes that soldiers first carried the nickname “adobes,” later shortened to “dobies” and ultimately “doughboys.”

Shortly after President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 first proposed by President John Kennedy, the story goes, he turned to an aide and observed, “We just lost the South for a generation.”

Chief Justice Susie Sharp was many things: outstanding lawyer, pioneering female judge, first woman to become chief justice of a state supreme court, passionate keeper of a complicated love life and lifelong racist.

Elizabeth Dole wasn't supposed to be in trouble this election.

When Charlotteans awoke Monday morning to the news that Wachovia had been peddled to Citigroup at a yard-sale price, it was more than a blow to civic pride.

How do you like those TV ads that show a gang of silly suits gabbling over the prospect of getting Bev Perdue to mash a big red button marked Status Quo? How about those ads that suggest Pat McCrory is interested in raising his own salary in public office, but no one else's?

You'd see them walking down Fayetteville Street from the Supreme Court building to the cafeteria at Hudson-Belk in the 1970s. She was Susie Sharp, the diminutive chief justice with the steely blue eyes. He was William Bobbitt, the former chief justice from Charlotte, a widower and her longtime companion.

Here's some news: We've moved.

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Jack Betts
Jack Betts writes on politics and life in The Carolinas for the Charlotte Observer's Editorial page.