FARR'S NOMINATION MAKES THE WRONG STATEMENT: From 2009 through 2016 two highly qualified African-American women -- Jennifer May-Parker and Patricia Timmons-Goodson – were nominated to fill the judgeship. Sen. But they were NEVER even considered – no committee hearings, no committee votes and no debate by the U.S. Senate. Richard Burr insulted the people of the eastern part of the state by ignoring the two nominees. Now, President Donald Trump’s added to the insult with his nomination of Thomas Farr. Why? Farr, as a counselor and adviser for the late U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms’ political operations and most recently to the state’s Republican Party, assisted in both developing and later defending, strategies, tactics and laws that were designed to discriminate against and diminish the impact of minority voters. The facts speak for themselves.
KISSING A WOMAN AGAINST HER WILL ISN'T HARMLESS. CAN WE ALL AGREE ON THAT? Can we please stop talking about men's bad behavior toward women like it’s an unfortunate byproduct of the confusing rituals of flirting? It's not OK to kiss a woman without her consent, and it's not OK to excuse misdeeds as jokes, poor judgment, boorishness or misread cues. The #MeToo movement has empowered women to speak out about men who use their power and influence to intimidate, but nothing is ever going to change if we must continuously defend ourselves against arguments of “boys will be boys.” Hall says he's a flirt, but that he has never sexually harassed anyone. But talking about what is and isn't legally sexual harassment doesn't move the conversation forward in any meaningful way. Even if a woman on the receiving end of inappropriate behavior isn't a subordinate of the man who's being inappropriate, it's still wrong.
VOTE. THAT'S JUST WHAT THEY DON'T WANT YOU TO DO: If you are horrified at what is happening in Washington and in many states, you can march in the streets, you can go to town halls and demand more from your representatives, you can share the latest outrageous news on your social media feed — all worthwhile activities. But none of it matters if you don’t go out and vote. Casting a ballot is the best opportunity most of us will ever get to have a say in who will represent us, what issues they will address and how they will spend our money. The right to vote is so basic, President Lyndon Johnson said in 1965, that without it “all others are meaningless.” And yet every election, tens of millions of Americans stay home. Studies of turnout among developed nations consistently rank the United States near the bottom. In the most recent midterms, in 2014, less than 37 percent of eligible voters went to the polls — the lowest turnout in more than 70 years. In 2016, 102 million people didn’t vote, far more than voted for any single candidate.
NORTH CAROLINA'S WAR AGAINST THE POOR: Against this already-transgressing backdrop, North Carolina has launched the nation’s boldest war against poor people — moving from ignoring the impoverished to actually targeting them. In the last six years, the General Assembly radically reduced access for low income people to health care, unemployment compensation, pre-K study, child care, food stamps, children’s dental services and legal aid. We became the only state in American history to eliminate its earned income tax credit. We repeatedly blocked poor North Carolinians from receiving federal funds for which they qualified — preferring that tax dollars go to other states rather than to poor Tar Heels. And we repeatedly raised the taxes of low income filers to line the pockets of wealthy ones. We became path-breaking innovators in fiscal cruelty. And we bragged about it.
TRUMP NEEDS HIS FACTS CHECKED AND HIS REALITY: In a rare expression of self-awareness, President Trump admitted — nay, boasted — that he just makes stuff up. Recounting a recent meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump says Trudeau told him that the U.S. has no trade deficit with Canada, whereupon Trump essentially said, Yes, we do, whereupon Trudeau said, No you don’t. Here’s the hitch: Trump didn’t really know whether his claim was true. He was flying by the seat of his pants, bluffing, playing the wise guy on a wacky little whim all his own. He bragged as much in a speech during a private, fundraising event in Missouri last week. The truth is the U.S. had a trade surplus with Canada to the tune of $2.8 billion in goods and services in 2017, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
JEFF PORTER: SOMETIMES LAWS SHOULD BE CHANGED, AS IN THE CASE OF THE DREAMERS: The U.S. certainly “rewarded” lawbreaking with amnesty 150 years ago when it changed the law to give legal status to squatters who settled illegally in newly opened western territories. Yet the nation not only survived, it grew stronger and more prosperous as a result. Sometimes action is needed not on the lawbreakers, but on the law. Today, providing a pathway to legal status for America’s 11 million illegal immigrants could similarly benefit not only the immigrants, but the nation. At the moment, the energy of those millions of people is a resource only partially tapped. Make their place in America secure, and the formerly illegal immigrants will be able to put down real roots, buy homes, start businesses and invest in themselves and their children. Just like Kentucky pioneers in the 1840s.
LEE KERN: THERE'S A NEW NORMAL IN GUN CULTURE: In the spirit of “if you see something, say something”: A few days after the school shooting in Florida I was at a Mebane strip mall heading into a jewelry store to get a new watch battery. While walking toward the store I noticed a man walking in the same direction. He had a gun hanging on his belt and was carrying a rifle. He was not a policeman. With Florida on my mind, I had a spike of anxiety, imagining being an innocent victim or witness to a crime. After all, it was a jewelry store and he had two guns. I happened to look up and noticed that two doors down was a store called “Gunworks.” I smiled briefly, realizing he was just on a normal outing to get his guns tuned up — like me taking the car to the mechanic. But it got me wondering, when it comes to guns, what is “normal.” It seems that the encounter was a weird collision of the normal and abnormal. If I belonged to a gun club or went to NRA meetings maybe it would be normal to see men outfitted that way. No, I drive to work, walk the dog, volunteer at a school, go to the grocery store. Other than the occasional observation of a policeman doing his rounds, I don’t see guns in daily life. With random shootings on the increase, and discussions of arming teachers, will the norm in the future include people wearing guns in the grocery store and on dog walks? Thirty years ago I would not have imagined how pervasive cell phones would become. Everyone has one and they are used constantly. Evidence is mounting that constant screen time may be bad for well being. If guns evolve similarly, the new “normal” will be daily danger and chaos and catastrophe. That is not a future I look forward to. My hope is that we, as a community and culture, make choices that ensure that gun encounters are abnormal in daily life.
NEIL STAHL: SUPPORTING EVIL: Regarding “MLK gets drawn into debate over NC’s Confederate monuments” (Mar. 10): I wish I were shocked that some people equate Martin Luther King’s long and relatively successful struggle for equality of all Americans with Confederate leaders’ traitorous struggle to create a nation based on the claim that members of one “race” are justified in owning members of another “race” and treating them in any way they see fit including separating families, raping them, torturing them and murdering them. I wish I were shocked that some people want a struggle between “races” in America when we so desperately need to be united. I wish I didn’t see the hand of American political leaders who have prospered by dividing us against ourselves. But those things have happened for too long to be shocked and those politicians’ evil skills have been revealed long enough that people who fall for their racist talk have no excuses. Those who fought for the Confederacy were wrong and supported evil, and those who fight to preserve racist policies and symbols are wrong and are supporting evil.