Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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COPING WITH COVID 19 REVEALS SERIOUS BROADBAND GAPS: But that absence of connection isn’t just about fiber. A notable portion of the state’s offline households are also in urban areas, cut off not by distance but by cost. More than 40% of North Carolina households where broadband is available don’t subscribe. Infrastructure isn’t helpful if you can’t afford to use it. “That’s an equity issue,” said Roberto Gallardo of the Purdue Center for Regional Development, speaking at last month’s Forum. “We’re leaving people behind through no fault of their own.” We’re also slowing the rollout of medical technologies that could be especially valuable in moments like this. Kim Schwartz, the CEO of the Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center, spoke at the forum about remote health monitoring that her center uses to track patients with chronic conditions. It allows doctors and nurses to see potential issues in real time, making it possible for them to intervene before a patient has to visit the office. As we all learn the phrase “self-quarantine at home,” that kind of distance monitoring is likely to prove valuable. Unfortunately, it only works for people with good internet and the ability to pay for it, and that leaves out many North Carolinians.
https://www.wral.com/coronavirus/leslie-boney-coping-with-covid-19-reveals-serious-broadband-gaps/19...

CORONAVIRUS IS MORE DANGEROUS WHEN POLITICIANS CRY "FAKE NEWS" CONSTANTLY: News organizations have done exceptional reporting on the crisis, even despite government efforts to shield information from the public. For example, White House officials prevented news organizations from recording audio or video of a March 3 press conference about the outbreak. And as Reuters reported on March 11, the White House classified high-level government meetings about the coronavirus, complicating the government’s response to the crisis and preventing administration officials from describing to journalists what happens in important meetings. The administration’s response: “This story is fake news,” National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot wrote in an email to Reuters. When reporters are prevented from covering major crises, or when their reporting is dismissed by government leaders as fake, misinformation festers. And that’s exactly what’s been happening on a global level. Conspiracy theories about the coronavirus have exploded online, so much so that tech companies’ efforts to combat the misinformation are struggling to keep up. If we’re going to counter misinformation and truly confront this crisis, we need to stand up for journalists. The public can’t make responsible decisions in the midst of a pandemic without reliable facts. The reporters covering every angle of this crisis are telling consequential stories that help communities protect the vulnerable, employers support their workers and government leaders contain the virus.
https://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/article241537166.html

IN CRAFTING COVID 19 BILLS, LEGISLATORS NEED TO HEED GOVERNOR COOPER'S LEAD: While there has been much talk of the emergence of true communication between the legislature and the governor’s administration, there was little evidence of it at the session Wednesday. The select committee and its working groups need to hear first-hand about what is going on and what’s being done. That way the legislators will be better positioned to draft the legislation that will support those efforts and not erect impediments. Has the habit of simply ignoring the administration become so reflexive that it doesn’t even come to mind to include cabinet secretaries and Gov. Roy Cooper’s key aides in discussion? Is the only time they’re called upon to testify is when they’re going to be called on the carpet? This isn’t about the legislature passively yielding to what the governor does or doesn’t want. It it is about going to the best source for information; making those people and their knowledge and experience available; hearing what they have to say; questioning their assumptions – and in the end working with the governor’s program to make it effective.
https://www.wral.com/coronavirus/editorial-in-crafting-covid-19-bills-n-c-legislators-need-to-heed-g...

WHY "CHOOSING" BETWEEN THE ELDERLY AND THE ECONOMY IS A PHONY, BARBARIC CHOICE: The idea that Americans grappling with the coronavirus pandemic face a stark choice between reigniting the economy and hunkering down to save lives is increasingly posed as a brutal question: Why destroy the world as we know it to save some retirees? Or, as some have reframed it even more barbarically: Why not sacrifice a finite number of vulnerable, mainly elderly people, well past their prime, for the greater good of reviving a thriving economy? Here’s why not: It’s a phony choice, based on a false premise. President Trump has not quite defined the dilemma in those terms, though he edged close by warning Americans not to “let the cure be worse than the problem.” Some of his acolytes have chosen their words less delicately, notably Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick of Texas, a Republican about to turn 70, who said he and other senior citizens are “willing to take a chance on [our] survival” to help return to normal daily life. “And if that is the exchange,” said Mr. Patrick, “I’m all in.” Let’s suppose Americans were to do what Mr. Patrick and Mr. Trump have suggested — get back to work in a few weeks and pack the churches on Easter Sunday because, as the two men evidently believe, the economy cannot remain indefinitely in a coma. Yes, many elderly Americans would get sick and die in the ensuing weeks and months — maybe hundreds of thousands, very likely millions. But so would countless other people. The quick and certain result of a damn-the-torpedoes approach would be to overwhelm and break the health-care system. Hospitals would fill to overflowing. Those in need of ventilators would be out of luck — not only covid-19 patients but also babies, children, tweens and anyone else in respiratory distress.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/risking-millions-of-lives-to-save-the-economy-is-a-terrible-...

TRUMP CHOOSES DISASTER AS HIS RE-ELECTION STRATEGY: Here’s where the faulty American bailout helps the president in the most sinister way: Workers left without adequate protections could suffer more under a mass quarantine and might be more likely to resent medical experts and a mass media urging for social distancing. Mr. Trump can rail against the states’ decision to extend the quarantine and pretend, insincerely, to side with workers over the elites. After all, many of them can comfortably work from home and keep their jobs, he might argue. For the president, it might feel like a win-win. If states ignore Mr. Trump’s advice and beat back the virus successfully before Election Day, he can claim victory. In the very unlikely event the virus doesn’t cause destruction in other parts of the country similar to what it is causing in Seattle, New York City and New Orleans, he can claim fear-mongering on behalf of Democrats and the media. Meanwhile, the conversation around the virus shifts away from those needlessly suffering and the Trump administration’s woeful preparedness. The pandemic moves from Mr. Trump’s nightmare — a complex medical and logistical crisis requiring empathy and leadership — to Mr. Trump’s wheelhouse — an overly simplified, cynical political battle fought with cruelty and finger-pointing. Just as his coronavirus news conferences have become stand-ins for his rallies, the president’s politicization of the virus allows him to operate in a modified campaign mode. Without an official Democratic challenger to call out and a traditional election news cycle to cover the horse race, Mr. Trump is choosing to use the pandemic as a tool for his usual base-rallying division.
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/27/opinion/trump-coronavirus-response.html

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

ROBERT PORRECA: YOU CAN'T FIGHT OFF A VIRUS WITH A GUN: I have taught firearms safety and marksmanship for over 40 years. Reading that people say that they are buying a gun because they fear getting in an argument in the supermarket makes me cringe. If I were selling guns and heard someone say that I would not sell them one because they are too unhinged. There is plenty of merchandise in the supply chain, including toilet paper. The problem is with those who buy in quantities they won’t use in a year or more. Deliveries cannot keep up, so it appears the product is in short supply. It’s not. What is in short supply is decency, fairness and common sense. Get a grip folks. Your stupidity is showing.
https://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/article241491501.html

JOSEPH JORDAN: IT'S TIME TO LET NON-VIOLENT PRISONERS OUT OF JAIL: The coronavirus may very well do what politicians have failed to do: solve the overpopulation problem in our prisons. In America, “the land of the free,” we incarcerate more people (about 2 million) than any other country, including China which has four times the population. Enter the coronavirus. As it spreads through our overcrowded prisons, the result may be devastating. About 200,000 inmates nationwide are over the age of 55 and most of them are non-violent offenders who could have been released and punished in other less-costly — and more effective — ways, like community service and home confinement, which many Americans are now learning is not an easy punishment. Instead, many prisoners may die. (author is incarcerated at Butner)
https://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/article241491491.html

ANDREW LEVIN: RICHARD BURR'S TEFLON COATING WILL PROTECT HIM AGAIN: Sen. Richard Burr requested an ethics investigation, but only because he is confident he can rationalize his stock sales by claiming he acted on public information. But he can’t rationalize his far more serious violation of public trust. As he privately gave dire, public health warnings to a group of wealthy donors, he never offered the same warnings to the people of North Carolina. This is just more evidence showing the Republican version of “draining the swamp” to be a giant con being perpetrated on the American public. Don’t expect Burr to resign. That would require a moral compass and his actions show that he has none. He no longer needs votes. He retires from the Senate in 2022, at which point he will most likely become a highly paid lobbyist within the swamp that has nurtured him for years.
https://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/article241491461.html

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Comments

This pandemic is laying bare a mountain of inequality

But don't expect Republicans to care or to do anything about it in the future. The cruelness of their world view doesn't bother them in the slightest because "the poor getting poorer" is one of their first principles.

No internet? Tough shit. You should have been born rich. No healthcare? Tough shit. Go ahead and die.

That's because in their worldview...

if you're poorer than them, it's because you deserve it. Somehow you aren't strong/hardworking/faithful/good enough and this is the inevitable punishment for that failure. They totally discount the actions of others or the vagaries of luck and the world at large in peoples' conditions. It allows them (no matter their actual status) to feel superior by attributing all they have to themselves alone. It's a pathological lack of empathy and social awareness, carefully fostered by the Republican leadership in order to keep themselves and their wealthy backers in power and exploiting the very people they feed this ideology to.

dead on....

I've observed 2 kinds of "comfortable Rs"...born comfortable like Trump, raised to think they're superior and to hold only those above as people worth respect....and those who rose to comfort, often trampling on others, who feel their hard work had everything to do with their success and anyone else is lazy. Then there's the poor fools who don't stand a chance but their programmed hate and bigotries from birth fill their empty pockets. Pity, as a man is not born with hate.

From the dark side

This week's loser is Mitch Kokai for his petty attacks on Roy Cooper:

Until we know the limits of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, most people prefer to focus on actions that keep themselves and their families safe.

But even if we have to place a pin in our constitutional debates, the long-term health of North Carolina’s state government requires us to resume that debate at some point after the crisis.

Policymakers, pundits, and the public ought to review and resolve a recent dispute between Gov. Roy Cooper and the state’s other elected executive branch officials. Disagreement stemmed from the governor’s unilateral decision to shut down bars and restaurants statewide.

Guess what, Mitch? We're still in the middle of the crisis. And the Governor is attempting to provide guidance and important data on that crisis on an almost daily basis. And yet, here you are undermining those efforts by trying to cast him as a power-hungry politician:

There’s no indication that concurrence requires a governor to secure unanimous support for his plan among the Council of State. But it would be hard to square “concurrence” with opposition.

That’s why Cooper’s March 17 order closing bars and restaurants should raise red flags. Cooper’s staff submitted his proposed order to Council of State members via email around 12:45 p.m. that day. The governor sought a response within 30 minutes, then announced the plan during a 2 p.m. news conference. The order took effect at 5 p.m.

Cooper advanced his proposal despite a “majority” of the council voting against the plan.

Regardless of the merits of Cooper’s shutdown, his decision to act without meaningful consultation and advice from the Council of State ought to concern any supporter of limited, constitutional government.

Actually, what really concerns me is that the Republican majority of the COS thought closing restaurants and bars was a bad idea. The very first COVID 19 patient came back home to Raleigh and almost immediately went out to a fancy restaurant. Supposedly in a private room, but that raises even more questions: Did he know he had the virus and was trying to separate himself from others? If so, why the f**k go out at all? If he didn't know, was that private room reserved for some sort of party/gathering? If so (and I suspect it is), how many people did that one man infect?

The truth is, Dan Forest was just dumb enough to reveal why those Republicans on the Council of State voted against closing restaurants: So they could blame the Governor for whatever hardship resulted from that decision. Because that's all they know how to do.

This observer would be more inclined to give Cooper a pass in this instance if not for his history. Even in nonemergency conditions, this governor has attempted to shift the balance of government power in his favor — with varying degrees of success.

When the General Assembly tried to remake the State Board of Elections, granting the two major parties an equal number of board seats, Cooper sued. Among his arguments: His party’s one-seat majority would give him effective control over the board. That was an interesting stance to take. Prior to Cooper, the elections board traditionally had been viewed as operating outside direct influence from elected officials.

Now you're just pissing me off. The only reason the GOP-dominated Legislature tried to remake the BoE (state and county) was because Roy Cooper won the election. If McCrory had won, they wouldn't have even considered it. It was just one of several ploys to strip power from an incoming Democratic Governor, squeezing the last tainted blood from that Lame Duck McCrory, and you trying to pass this off as some sort of "reasonable" policy change is just one more nail in the coffin for Art Pope's propaganda operation.

Yes, fights over budgets and government appointments differ from a dispute about a public health crisis. But both types of disagreement could affect the long-term stability of North Carolina’s constitutional structure.

As state government takes steps to protect the foundation of our society’s health, it shouldn’t damage its own foundation in the process. At some point beyond the immediate crisis, North Carolina must reassert proper constitutional limits on its governor out-of-control, power-mad Legislative star-chamber.

I fixed that shit for you. You're welcome.

Kokai is one of the worst of bunch

I hope there is a lawsuit about all of this because the courts will call bullshit on Bergermoore in a heartbeat.

The GOP wrote lame legislation to try to control the Governor's office, but they failed, as they often do, to specify what their language means. If they wanted to impose a rule by which a majority of the Council of State must support an emergency action, they should have said exactly that.

The truth is, there's much ambiguity in the statutes and many ways to defend the governor's actions in this emergency situation. The fact that Dan Forest doesn't understand that is frightening.

You can read the executive order here.

logic and moral high ground

There is no logic or moral high ground in politics these days, especially in NC. National to local, it's open political combat, no holds barred. Either side trying to claim being "right" is futile imo. Unapologetic dirty tricks, over reach, bullying into submission is the rule of the day. If democrats don't adapt and ignore the whole "they go low, we go high" crap, we're doomed to more generations of injustices and suppression / oppression by the forces of a fascist plutocracy, which has always ruled the world. 2 cents and its all it's worth.

Agree 100%

It’s why I’m willing to be out on the fringe ... so others can be free to push their own edges without seeming too extreme. Somebody’s got to be out there, but the truth is, I’m not that radical at all. I generally think of myself as a centrist.

centrist

I think most are centrist and glad of it...keeps us Mao admirers in check :)

Moody's

I wonder if Moody's has a model to determine various nations' credit rating during this global crisis?
What happens if every country's credit is worthless? I suspect the Doomsday Clock is at 10 seconds before midnight. Sort of puts local issues in the rear view mirror...I dunno