Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


OPEN ACCESS TO NC POLLS NEEDS TO BE PART OF VOTER ID SCRIPT: When it comes to gerrymandering, state Rep. David Lewis has even figured out how to do it for a legislative committee meeting. Lewis, a Harnett County Republicans, after all is one of the architects of North Carolina’s illegally gerrymandered legislative and congressional districts. During a legislative meeting Monday about implementing the newly enacted constitutional amendment requiring voters show a photo ID at polling places, all but a few of the public comment speakers self-identified as Republicans and echoed legislative leaders’ talking points. Coincidence? Perhaps. Just as it was that it was state GOP chairman Dallas Woodhouse who announced in an e-mail late last Wednesday afternoon, as most folks were focused on Thanksgiving plans, that the legislature would hold a “public hearing” on the voter ID amendment on Monday at 10 a.m.

FEMALE STUDENTS DON'T WANT TO RUN FOR ELECTED OFFICE. THAT NEEDS TO CHANGE: Women in the United States have vast experience in public service, and they outnumber men in public administration graduate programs nearly three to one. While we see President Trump focusing on increasing media attention and public support through grandstanding and weaponizing fear, women serve across our country delivering public services in some of the most effective and efficient ways of any democracy. This is truly what the elected representative should be and could be with the mass inclusion of women in elected offices. While we saw an overwhelming number of female candidates this year, we are still far behind the 50 percent mark of equality in representation. When I ask my female students at Salem College what they want to do, almost every one of them says that they want to provide more opportunities for people. This surely should be a goal of the elected representative. This commitment to improving the lives of others should be the feature that voters look to rather than a commitment to demonizing and weakening opponents or social groups who do not share the candidates’ values.

SHOULD BERGER BE "SCHOOLED" ON NAME CALLING?: After a public charter school in Mecklenburg County received a complaint that its graduation was held in a church where large banners with Bible verses were visible to attendees, school officials decided to seek an alternative site for the 2019 commencement. While Stein spoke of dialogue and school officials took the wiser course of action, North Carolina State Senate leader Phil Berger decided it was an opportunity for confrontation and engage in name calling. “Can you believe an out-of-state liberal organization is forcing a North Carolina high school to find a new graduation location?” he said in a Nov. 13 Facebook post. “For the last seven years, Lake Norman Charter School held its graduation at University Park Baptist Church. But a liberal Washington, DC-based group sent the school a legal letter based on an “anonymous complaint” saying the graduation ceremony violated the separation of church and state, and now the school has to search for a new place to hold its ceremony.” Following the Constitution isn’t “liberal.” Berger’s name calling may have gained a few social media clicks, but the calm reaction of the administration at Lake Norman Charter School is resolving the situation with the interest of students and school community front-and-center. While the school should have known better, so should Berger.

SERIOUS ISSUES STILL REMAIN IN GENX SETTLEMENT: Just a week ago, the proposed pollution settlement between the state Department of Environmental Quality and Chemours appeared to be a good deal. It may still be. But this week some caution lights began flashing, suggesting there may be more issues to clear up before anyone can feel safe again. The alarm was sounded by the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, which has questioned how the settlement would apply to the utility and its customers. The consent order says Chemours will install filtration systems in homes around the Fayetteville Works whose drinking water is found to contain a combined 70 parts per trillion of chemicals from a group that includes GenX. It includes wells that are found to have at least 10 parts per trillion of any single compound in the list of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS. Since there are PFAS levels in the Cape Fear River exceeding that threshold, the utility wants to know why it’s not included in the settlement. “If levels of these contaminants are at the same level that people in groundwater areas are seeing, shouldn’t surface water systems receive the same consideration?” CFPUA Executive Director Jim Flechtner asked.

AMERICA DIDN'T ALWAYS LOCK UP IMMIGRANTS: The United States first imposed immigration detention in the late 19th century. But by the early 1950s, detaining migrants no longer seemed necessary. European and Asian migration had fallen drastically as a result of the Immigration Act of 1924 and the Great Depression. In 1954, officials from the Immigration and Naturalization Service concluded that a vast majority of migrants could be released on conditional “parole,” while their cases were being reviewed. Detention was reserved for migrants who were deemed likely to abscond or who posed a threat to national security or public safety. By January 1955, only four people in immigration custody were seeking entry into the country. Reflecting on this change, in 1958 the Supreme Court, in Leng May Ma v. Barber, held that “physical detention of aliens is now the exception, not the rule,” pointing out that “certainly this policy reflects the humane qualities of an enlightened civilization.” How did we move so far away from the notion that detention — and not just family separation and tear-gassing — is inhumane? How did holding more than 40,000 migrants behind bars come to be seen as normal?


IRENE RUSNAK: TIME TO TAKE ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE: During this holiday season, there is no greater gift we could give our children than to address the issue of climate change. Last week the National Climate Assessment was released. It provides clear information from multiple agencies about the effects of climate change we are already experiencing, as well as how we can expect these effects to drastically worsen. Thankfully a bipartisan group of representatives in Congress recognize the importance of this issue. Both Republicans and Democrats joined together to introduce the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. This legislation would place a steadily increasing fee on carbon pollution and return all revenue from this fee to all US households equally. This bill is a market based approach which will drive down carbon pollution while putting money in people’s pockets. Independent analysis shows that the net effect of this legislation will be to create jobs. It is time to set partisan differences aside and, for the good of our children, our country and the world, to start addressing climate change by enacting the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.

GAIL CHAUNCEY: STAND UP TO TRUMP ON IMMIGRATION: I want to voice my shame and disgust about what’s happening at our southern border – tear-gassing innocent people. These people are fleeing their countries partly because our country is the largest consumer of illegal narcotics, which drives their economies. Congress has refused to act on immigration. Instead of choking people with tear gas, choke the desires of illegal drug users. Sens. Thom Tillis and Richard Burr, be humane and stand up against the man in the White House who is leading this country into a pit. Be Americans. Be moral human beings.

CYNTHIA STRAUFF SCHAUB: OBTAINING A REAL ID IS A NIGHTMARE: A cautionary tale for our lawmakers who support voter ID legislation: This is my experience attempting to get a Real ID Driver’s License. I appeared at the DMV with my required documents: a valid U.S. passport, my current driver’s license and Social Security card, along with my vehicle registration card and a utility bill with my current address. I had done my homework and was prepared. When I presented these documents I was told, most politely, that I could not receive a Real ID. Here is the reason — my passport (with my picture) contains my first and last names; my driver’s license (with my picture) contains my first, middle and last names; my Social Security card has my first name, middle initial and last name. Because the requirement calls for a perfect match, I was deemed ineligible. What hoops will people have to jump through to get an acceptable voter ID? I ask our legislators to remember who it is they serve — not their political party, not those who line their coffers, but the people of this state. All of whom, including the poorest, deserve a chance to vote.



From the dark side

This week's court jester is Jay Ambrose, whose comedic skills are not nearly as clever as he thinks:

Lock her up. You know who I am talking about, right? Melania Trump. She recently decorated the White House with red Christmas trees. I saw them on TV, and I will tell you I loved them: their brightness, their cheer, their impact as something artistically different while still tasteful. But some leftists were in a huff.

These critics need critics, and I volunteer, noting the obvious truth that this assault on the first lady is pathetic, still another example of petty, snobbish, misogynistic, nativist supremacy.

This brings up a phenomena I've noticed growing (exponentially) over the last two years: Trumptrending. Basically, whatever the Twit-in-Chief finds interesting or attractive, his followers immediately embrace, as if they've loved said thing their entire life. Melania likes blood-red Christmas trees? Why, those are nothing short of beautiful. How can you not like them? Just look!

It may seem petty for me to point this out, but it exposes a much deeper (and dangerous) aspect of the hero-worship that surrounds Individual 1. If you can re-write peoples' hard drives at a whim, cause them to like something they would previously have found distasteful, respect for human rights is also at risk. That's not a "may happen" thing, it's already happening, and we see evidence of that every single day.

Most people on the left tell you they love immigrants, but apparently not when it comes to a charming, sincere, caring woman whose accent gives her away. Melania Trump is not bathed in things American, and some of her choices demonstrate as much. But to make a big deal of the clothes this former model wears, for instance, is a slide down the ladder of good manners and contempt for diversity. She is not dumb, you know. She speaks five languages. How many do you speak?

What Jay fails to grasp (or is intentionally obscuring) is that criticism of Melania does not happen in a vacuum. Trump has been beating the nativist drum since before he was elected, referencing "bad dudes" coming from "shithole countries," and the irony of *all* his children being born from immigrant mothers is overwhelming.

But he chose them, so their immigrant status has been washed clean. Unlike these people:

In the Melania attacks, as one example, Vanity Fair magazine said the Christmas decorations conveyed “a sense of menace.” That’s the kind of thing that our president says about the MS-13 gang that slices people to death with machetes, and does he get away with it? No. He carries on too much, say critics scorning him on the charge of engendering Hispanic hatred.

On top of that is the way government officials have been emitting illegal leaks enough to submerge basic principles of democratic governance. There’s the Justice Department saying phooey to congressional oversight. Then we have Democrats wanting to hit back on Trump’s calls for a border wall with verbal stabs of law officers and some seeming to want the disaster of open borders.

Hordes of vicious machete-wielding gang members pouring across an open border. This is exactly the fictitious and malicious construct that Trump has created in the minds of his followers, and it's an integral part of a well-researched pattern that leads to fascist totalitarian rule.

And the fact I found this frightening piece of propaganda in my local newspaper is even more distressing.