EXPAND MEDICAID, SPARE US THE SONG AND DANCE: Senate leader Phil Berger and his partner House Speaker Tim Moore have hatched a scheme to work their will with the state budget. They are taking Johnny Cash’s advice to build it “one piece at a time.” If they want to get it all through with little dissent, the first item needs to be expanding Medicaid. They’ll find much of the rest, a breeze to put together. But the unfortunate reality is that Berger and Moore will do almost anything to avoid confronting the issue that demands their immediate attention. They’d rather have rank-and-file legislators twiddle their $42,000-a-day thumbs or jet off to conferences – than discuss expanding Medicaid coverage to more than a half-million working North Carolinians whose families today lack health coverage.
RATIFYING THE ERA WOULD HELP NC AND U.S. WOMEN: On Sept. 7, there will be a gathering at the State Capitol to celebrate the upcoming 100th anniversary of American women gaining the right to vote, a right realized with adoption of the 19th Amendment in 1920. But the festivities will be muted by what hasn’t yet won passage —the Equal Rights Amendment. North Carolina is in a position to put the ERA into the Constitution by becoming the 38th state to approve it, thus giving the amendment the necessary approval from three-fourths of the states. There are still issues about the deadline for approval of the amendment that passed Congress in 1972 and was to be ratified by the states by 1982. But the amendment’s backers, buoyed by recent ERA approvals in Nevada and Illinois, think there is now the political will to remove the deadline and there is legislation in Congress to do that. Passage of the ERA would add to the Constitution these words: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
KRUGMAN: THE FRAUDING OF AMERICA'S FARMERS: This apparent contradiction — Trump is inflicting the greatest harm on the people who supported him most — isn’t an accident. Farmers’ past support for Trump was predictable: The demography and culture of (white) rural America make it fertile ground for politicians promising to restore traditional society, and especially traditional racial hierarchy. But farmers’ financial distress should also have been predictable: While rural America may dislike and distrust cosmopolitan elites, the U.S. farm economy is hugely dependent on global markets, and it has inevitably been a major victim of the Trumpian trade war. The questions, looking forward, are whether farmers understood what they were getting themselves into, whether they understand even now that their distress isn’t likely to end anytime soon, and whether economic pain will shake their support for the man who’s causing it.
CRUELTY IS THE POINT, BUT IS IT EVIL? You might say it isn’t, according to what the word connotes in popular culture and historical memory. But those connotations paint an incomplete picture. Consider Hannah Arendt’s famous book, “Eichmann in Jerusalem.” Her report on the trial of Adolf Eichmann, architect of the Holocaust, coined a term that become controversial, if not notorious: “the banality of evil.” Arendt would later explain that by it, she meant that she found no “diabolical or demonic profundity” in Eichmann. He was, she felt, a “desk murderer” who, at a fundamental level, lacked the imagination to even conceive of the crime he was committing. He just did his job. He just followed orders. Something to bear in mind as our government of the people inflicts needless cruelties upon the vulnerable and the dispossessed. After all, evil puts its pants on one leg at a time, just like you and I. Evil fixes breakfast. Evil gets the kids off to school. And then, evil goes to work.
TRUMP TO MINERS, LOGGERS, AND DRILLERS: THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND: Mr. Trump arrived in the White House with little interest in conservation, his idea of nature framed largely by his golf courses. He was, to boot, almost pathologically dedicated to obliterating anything President Obama had done to reduce global warming gases, preserve open space and help endangered species. Hence the gifts over the last two years to mining and oil and gas interests of vast areas previously shielded from exploration — two national monuments in Utah, millions of acres reserved for the threatened sage grouse, much of the outer continental shelf and the long-protected coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. That’s not all. In the shadow of these big ticket items, Mr. Trump has presided over several less visible travesties. We offer three. One is his push to open the Tongass National Forest in Alaska to logging. The others are his efforts to revive two potentially destructive mining projects — one near Alaska’s Bristol Bay, the other near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota. In all three cases, Mr. Trump has breathed new life into bad ideas thought to be dead and buried or getting there. Together they demonstrate again how Mr. Trump, when faced with a choice between commerce and conservation, reflexively sides with the former, even when the economic case for conservation is strong.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
JOHN F. CARELLA: FELONY VOTING LAW TARGETS AFRICAN-AMERICAN VOTERS: As an attorney who represented one of the individuals prosecuted for voting in Alamance County, I was disappointed by “Data shows few felons are convicted of illegal voting,” (Aug. 24). While it mentioned the law’s “toxic racist origins,” it omitted its racist present. Statewide, over 68 percent of individuals referred for prosecution for allegedly voting while on probation in the 2016 general election were African American. In Durham, 90 percent were African Americans. The law is unconstitutional because its intent and current use are both racially discriminatory. The legislature that came to power in 1898 was open about its goals, and the law continues to serve its purpose of criminalizing African American voters. The real number of prosecutions under this law in the year 2019 should be zero.
KIMBERLY MUCKTRIAN: THE INCREDIBLE INJUSTICE OF NC'S RACIST JUSTICE SYSTEM: Incredibly, two black men were exonerated of murder in two different N.C. courtrooms last week. While we should celebrate their freedom, we should be heartbroken that this keeps happening. Dontae Sharpe of Pitt County served 25 years for someone else’s crime and James Blackmon of Wake County served 35. That is unfathomable. Even more upsetting is the fact that even though the evidence of innocence was abundantly clear, Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman fought against Blackmon’s release. She did not have to do so. Former Robeson County district attorney Johnson Britt joined with the defense in recommending Henry McCollum and Leon Brown, wrongfully sent to death row in 1984, be released. Britt stated correctly at the time that it is a prosecutor’s duty to seek the truth, not a conviction.
NORMAN SINGER: THE UNITED STATES NEEDS IMMIGRANTS: Regarding “Employers say they need more immigrants” (Aug. 25): Of course, immigrants are important to our economy. Many of these laborer jobs — cutting grass and seeding in communities — are done by immigrants. Many immigrants, especially Latinos, are used to those conditions and do not mind the lower wages and long hours. They take pride in their work. Immigrants are only looking for a chance to prove themselves in our “land of opportunity.” If there is indeed a “staffing void,” then we can’t afford to leave these dedicated workers behind. The idea that immigrants are taking jobs away from American workers is simply a myth. Building walls to keep out immigrants who want to work is absurd. The solution: Make it easier to achieve citizenship or green card status, and take it from there.