SELFISH LACK OF COMPASSION DRIVES TRUMP'S COVID 19 RESPONSE: Here’s the clear truth. There is no mystery to stopping the spread of COVID-19. Maintain social distancing, wash hands often and wear a hygienic mask. Wearing a mask is more effective than a vaccine. Says who? Says the man President Donald Trump put in charge of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield. What logical reason could there be to refusing to wear a mask? What statement is made by attending a political rally, a reception for a U.S. Supreme Court nominee or re-entering the White House after a three-day COVID-19 infection-related emergency hospital stay — and refusing to wear a mask? How has something so commonsensical morphed into a statement of partisan politics; religious faith; political ideology and virility? Why does it spawn child-like behavior, as exhibited in the House and Senate chambers of the North Carolina legislature? Just as there is no vaccine for COVID-19, there isn’t one for willfully ignoring the facts which seems to be a pandemic of its own spreading through the White House, Congress, and North Carolina politics.
NORTH CAROLINA'S BATTLE FOR DEMOCRACY AND DECENCY: Since 2011, the N.C. General Assembly has waged the stoutest war against people of color and low-income citizens seen in a half-century. All-white Republican caucuses, dominating both chambers, have attacked the participatory rights, antidiscrimination guarantees, and equal dignity of African-Americans. They’ve tried to build a bridge to 1953. Poor Tar Heels have been similarly targeted and demonized – robbed of health care, unemployment compensation, tax credits, food assistance, childcare and legal services, to provide largesse for the rich. Reverse Robin Hood, on stilts. Women and the LGBT community have been assailed as well. An astonishing mandatory sonogram law enlisted a woman’s body, pocketbook and doctor in a Stalinistic scheme to coerce Tar Heels from exercising their reproductive rights. Internationally derided bathroom bills and singular licenses to discriminate against lesbians and gay men rounded out what the New York Times called North Carolina’s “pioneering work in bigotry.” Lawmakers have interfered with the judicial election process, limited judicial review of legislative acts, manipulated the size of the Court of Appeals for partisan purposes, aided Republican candidates in Supreme Court races, interfered with gubernatorial appointment powers, canceled judicial primaries, threatened disobedient judges with shortened terms, gerrymandered judicial districts, and more. Even Donald Trump hasn’t assaulted the courts like Phil Berger has. Republicans have also used legislative powers more ruthlessly than any other state assembly to tilt the democratic process in their favor. They enacted some of the most extreme political gerrymanders in American history, enthusiastically limited the right to vote, overturned local elections by redrawing local districts post-election, and stripped traditional powers from officeholders when Democrats were elected. National commentators called the package “a legislative coup one might expect in Venezuela, not the U.S.”
NC'S FREEDOM PARK WILL "LET IT SHINE": In challenging, troubling times some might question the value of constructing symbols, and public art. It is true that symbols are not all important. But neither are they unimportant. The do matter, particularly in unsettling and contentious times. Our public art, and our public spaces, reflect who we are as a society, as a community. They proclaim what we believe and what we aspire to achieve. They illuminate what and who we value. This will be especially true for Freedom Park. It will serve as a source of instruction and inspiration for school children, and a source of encouragement, now, and for people of the future, who may face challenges we can’t even imagine today. Whatever their own background, whatever challenges they are facing, when they come to Freedom Park and look up at the Beacon of Freedom and read the words of black North Carolinians who struggled for freedom they will begin to understand that heritage and realize that there are many inspiring examples for them to follow. And they will be encouraged. They will see that the pursuit of freedom is not the exclusive province of men with guns facing foreign foes. But also of women, who were enslaved, like Harriet Jacobs; and of educators like Charlotte Hawkins Brown; of businessmen like John H. Wheeler; and poets like George Moses Horton; of clergymen like the Reverend James Walker Hood; and of course Civil Rights leaders like Golden A. Frinks.
GRETCHEN WHITMER: I WILL HOLD THE PRESIDENT ACCOUNTABLE FOR ENDANGERING AND DIVIDING AMERICA: When I addressed the people of Michigan on Thursday to comment on the unprecedented terrorism, conspiracy and weapons charges against 13 men, some of whom were preparing to kidnap and possibly kill me, I said, “Hatred, bigotry and violence have no place in the great state of Michigan.” I meant it. But just moments later, President Trump’s campaign adviser, Jason Miller, appeared on national television accusing me of fostering hatred. I’m not going to waste my time arguing with the president. But I will always hold him accountable. Because when our leaders speak, their words carry weight. When our leaders encourage domestic terrorists, they legitimize their actions. When they stoke and contribute to hate speech, they are complicit. And when a sitting president stands on a national stage refusing to condemn white supremacists and hate groups, as President Trump did when he told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” during the first presidential debate, he is complicit. Hate groups heard the president’s words not as a rebuke, but as a rallying cry. As a call to action. 2020 should be the year for national unity. In the midst of the worst public health crisis we have seen in our lifetimes, we should all come together as Americans to fight covid-19 and protect each other. But this country is more divided than ever. And instead of uniting the country, our president has spent the past seven months denying science, ignoring his own health experts, stoking distrust, and fomenting anger and giving comfort to those who spread fear and hatred and division. He has proved time and again that he is more focused on his chances in the upcoming election and picking fights with me and Democrats across the country than he is on protecting our families, front-line workers and small businesses from covid-19.
TRUMP'S OVERHAUL OF IMMIGRATION IS WORSE THAN YOU THINK: The 2016-19 drop “is clearly a result of Trump’s restrictive immigration measures,” Mr. Frey told the editorial board, “including immigrant bans from selected countries, greater limits on refugees, and generating fear among other potential immigrant groups over this administration’s unwelcoming policies.” Along with more obscure actions, like ending that Filipino veterans program, the administration has been methodical in ensuring that its most widely criticized efforts succeed. In the spring of 2018, as thousands of Central American families crossed the southern U.S. border to seek asylum, the Justice Department ordered the arrest of anyone entering the country without authorization. This forced the separation of hundreds of families, even the removal of infants from nursing mothers. To scare people from bringing their families over the border, Jeff Sessions, the attorney general at the time, said, “We need to take away children.” It made no difference how young they were. The scope of the administration’s actions has been far broader than Mr. Trump implied it would be when he campaigned. He promised to bar “rapists” from Mexico, create “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” and save America from homicidal undocumented immigrants. Once in office, it was not just criminals and terrorists who drew his attention. It was also people seeking protection from the horrors of their home countries, undocumented immigrants trying to support their families and foreigners striving for a better life in the United States. In Barack Obama’s last year as president, the ceiling for refugee admissions was 110,000. For the current fiscal year, it’s 15,000. Mr. Trump has made these desperate people campaign punching bags. “Are you having a good time with your refugees?” he said with smirk to a roaring crowd in Minnesota recently. Mr. Trump also has ended “temporary protected status” for 400,000 people from El Salvador, Haiti, Sudan and elsewhere who have legally lived and worked in the United States for decades after being provided a haven from war or natural disaster. “There’s so much change that has happened in the last four years, there’s no way a new administration could reverse things in four or even eight years,” said Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute who was a co-author of the group’s July report.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
KAREN BEARDON: TILLIS NEEDS TO DO HIS JOB AND PASS A STIMULUS BILL: The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported that Thursday was the third highest day of COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic. This spike is unacceptable. It puts North Carolinians at risk for not just contracting the deadly virus, but for being unable to weather the economic crisis. As of mid-August, about 30% of N.C. workers had filed for unemployment benefits and claims are rising again. While essential workers are keeping North Carolina running, they’re at risk of losing electricity, water and heat. Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas will resume shutoffs for unpaid bills this month. During a pandemic when people need to stay home to slow the spread of COVID-19 cutting off these utilities is unconscionable. Sen. Thom Tillis needs to push for a COVID-19 relief bill that helps struggling North Carolina families stay safe, pay their utility bills, and have access to life-saving services
ROBERT PLATT, JR.: NC SCHOOLS SHOULD REMAIN ONLINE UNTIL RELIABLE VACCINE IS AVAILABLE: I agree with Wake County teachers protesting in-person instruction for public schools. I’m the stepfather of a teacher and have been an RN for 30 years. The risk to students, teachers, administrative and support staff is too high during the current coronavirus pandemic. Healthcare experts, epidemiologists and scientists have expressed concern that risk of “super spreading” COVID-19 will greatly increase as people spend more time indoors during the cooler fall and winter months. I understand the stresses placed on families coping with remote learning and the loss of in-person social interaction in traditional school settings. Are we willing to risk the lives of our children, teachers and staff to achieve that? There are no easy solutions, but until we have a safe, vetted vaccine and minimizing the risk becomes the norm, school should be online only.
ANNE ENBERG: REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES ARE SCORNFUL OF VOTERS: In preparing for the election, I consulted several nonpartisan voter guides to learn more about the candidates on my ballot. I have been disappointed to see as many as 50% of the Republican candidates in these guides decline to submit information or responses. That is unacceptable. Especially with today’s more limited local newspaper coverage of state elections, voters rely on these guides to understand their options and the new ideas candidates bring to the table. To have so many candidates refuse to participate is disrespectful to voters of all stripes and calls into question whether these candidates actually have any plans at all. We should expect better. As an unaffiliated voter, I cannot support any candidates who won’t tell me what their agenda is or even who they are.