Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


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.


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.



From the dark side

This week's loser is WaPo's columnist Marc Thiessen for propping up Trump while seemingly criticizing him:

The Trump administration’s inability to defend the defensible is simply mind-numbing. Even when the president is doing the right thing, he and his team can’t seem to get out of their own way.

Take the administration’s perfectly reasonable decision to implement a new rule to ensure that immigrants seeking permanent residency in the U.S. are not on the dole.

That "perfectly reasonable" quip is just the first take of many similar unfounded conclusions. Of course it's not reasonable at all, nor even accurate. Syrian refugees are a prime example. Among those tens of thousands fleeing violence were professionals; doctors, lawyers, engineers, all the products of a refined civilization brought to ashes during a sustained civil war. A war that we supported, at least in the early days.

Shortly after Trump was (unfortunately) sworn in as President, he instituted a Muslim ban, choosing specific countries. Not just "poor" Muslims from those countries, all Muslims. Their ability to pay their way in America's economy wasn't even on the radar. So don't give me any crap about "standing on their own two feet," because bigotry actually holds those successful minorities in even higher contempt than the poor.

Lazarus did not need Team Trump’s editing. She wrote, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” — not yearning for food stamps or free government health care. Trump is not changing the American ethos; the Democrats who want to give free stuff to foreigners are. Not difficult.

Bolding mine, because this idiot actually typed "your poor" without even noticing it. Lazarus also wrote Lady Liberty was beckoning, "The wretched refuse of your teeming shore." And again the Syrians crowding the beaches of Turkey come to mind. The truth is, the Trump administration had to rewrite that poem to justify what it was doing, because there ain't no reading between those lines.

President Trump was absolutely right to call out Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib for their virulent anti-Semitism — including their charge that Israel’s supporters in Congress are disloyal to America and, as Tlaib put it, “forgot which country they represent.” But then, Trump declared that “any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat” show “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty” — inadvertently using the very same anti-Semitic trope that got Omar and Tlaib in trouble in the first place.

It was ridiculous because Trump is the most pro-Israel president in U.S. history.

Don't confuse expediency for loyalty. Trump may push policies that help the Israeli government, but that likely has more to do with their treatment of Muslims than it does Trump's desire to help, which is pretty much non-existent. Trump doesn't want to "help" anybody except himself.

This self-defeating pattern is undermining the Trump presidency. If you hit the mute button, the administration is doing a great job in many areas. Reforming immigration rules to discourage dependency; taking on China’s predatory trade practices; and standing for Israel are all good policies. But when the sound comes on, the chaos and lack of discipline drown it all out.

You're overlooking the blatantly obvious: If Trump had put on the "mute" button during the 2016 campaign, he wouldn't be in office today. It was his outlandish, self-centered, and bullying behavior that carried him to victory. That's the reality of America's reality TV mindset, that rewards ignorance and punishes thoughtfulness. And Trump won't get better, he will get worse, because narcissism doesn't cure itself, it just grabs more and more.

BlueNC alum Jay Hubbard on voting access:

As published in the Asheboro Courier-Tribune:

In his letter, ”‘Hare-brained’ idea latest fiasco in Ramseur,” Ray Albright accused members of our community of spreading division. He accused those lobbying to have our polling site moved away from the municipal building of trying to confuse voters. He is mistaken.

According to Melissa Johnson, director of elections for Randolph County, the Ramseur Municipal Building is less than ideal. It may have been a good choice once, but nothing in life is permanent. Everything changes.

In most places campaigners must remain 50 feet from entrances to the polls, but not in Ramseur. Here the 50-foot rule places them in Liberty Street or the parking lot of Jordan Memorial UMC.

Mr. Albright claims there is plenty of parking at the municipal building, but that is untrue. There is a parking lot across Liberty Street. A low wall around it creates a dangerous trip hazard, especially for elders.

Behind the municipal building the only available parking on election day is at Jordan Memorial. That lot is on a slope, requiring voters to walk around another low wall to reach the polls. Why is this more acceptable than finding a location with better parking and safer access?

Mr. Albright said three churches have refused to allow the Board of Elections to use their facilities. One of them, First Christian Church, was considered for an early voting site in 2018. It’s my understanding that church leaders were willing to participate back then. What changed?

This has nothing to do with avoiding local politics or a separation of church and state. It’s about a handful of good old boys who are terrified that new leaders might soon control our governing board.

Mr. Albright also stated that people using social media and “personal websites” are trying to divide our town. I disagree. Please visit and see for yourself.

Elections should not be held where elected officials work every day. Moving Ramseur’s polling place to a neutral, more accessible location is not about anyone running for office this year. It’s about doing what’s right for our community.

Just an added note: Voting should also not take place in courthouses with numerous deputies standing around with their hand resting on their sidearm. I've seen this a few times in the last 10 years or so, and that is blatant intimidation of minority votters.

Thanks Steve

The issue of armed police officers and the intimidation effect was discussed at our local BoE meeting last month while considering use of a school as a polling location. Schools are good choices when the complex is laid out well enough to isolate students from voters. Unfortunately that isn't the case in Ramseur.

Thanks again for the nod and sharing the link to my effort to save my part of the world from idiocy run amok.


"...the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be."

Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail