Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


GOVERNOR COOPER WANTS NC TO LEAD CLEAN ENERGY ECONOMY: Cooper’s order directs the state Commerce Department to expand its efforts to support new and expanding clean energy businesses. According to the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association, the clean energy economy provides more than 34,000 jobs in the state. That’s more than Duke Energy has working in all six it operates in. Legislative leaders have been tepid, at best, in their embrace of sustainable and renewable energy efforts. But among the rank-and-file it has broad and bipartisan support. The leadership would be wise to embrace Cooper’s plans. They are practical and achievable. Supporting them will both grow North Carolina’s economy and prepare it better to meet the challenges climate change is already forcing the state to confront.

A NORTH CAROLINA POLITICIAN IS ILL. WHAT SHOULD VOTERS KNOW? State Sen. Louis Pate has lived a public life. The 82-year-old Republican is a former mayor of Mt. Olive, served several terms in the state House and has been in the Senate since 2011. But about a month before the Nov. 6 election, Pate dropped off the political radar. He didn’t participate in campaign and other public events. He was absent from October’s special legislative sessions after Hurricane Florence. Now political observers will be watching to see if he appears when the legislature meets Monday. Brantley said Pate has asked people to respect his privacy and people have. Pate, a retired a Air Force major who served in Vietnam, is a cordial and thoughtful politician who is respected by Republicans and Democrats alike. But his extended absence is raising questions about what voters should be told when a health crisis hits a candidate. Pate and Republican Party officials haven’t said how serious the health issue is and whether Pate will be able to serve in the office he was too ill to finish running for.

TRYING TO FIGHT, NOT SPREAD, FEAR AND LIES: The problem is that too often we in the media engage in the same kind of profit chasing. The news business model is in part about attracting eyeballs, and cable television in particular sees that as long as the topic is Trump, revenues follow. Solutions are complicated, for there may well be a public interest in seeing purloined material; if Trump’s tax returns showed up in my mailbox, I would report on them even if I thought that China had stolen them and was using me to undermine the White House. Likewise, we do have to cover what a president says, even if it’s false, bigoted or demagogic — but I think we can try harder to make crystal clear the efforts at manipulating the public. One challenge is that fact-checking doesn’t work very well. Social psychology experiments have found that when people are presented with factual corrections that contradict their beliefs, they may cling to mistaken beliefs more strongly than ever. This is called the “backfire effect.” For example, when people wary of vaccinations were presented with information showing the benefits of vaccines, they on average became even less likely to vaccinate.

TILLIS NEEDS TO HEED HIS OWN ADVICE AND PROTECT MUELLER: In his op-ed in The Washington Post, Tillis said that “… if the president actually removes the special counsel without good cause, it would likely result in swift, bipartisan backlash and shake the country’s faith in the integrity of our legal system.” He was right. Tillis also said back then that he wanted to take a stand against “situational ethics” — politicians who change their stands depending upon whether their party is in power. If Hillary Clinton were president and a special prosecutor investigating her were vulnerable, his supporters would be insisting that he back a protective bill, Tillis said. Right and right. Now, however, Tillis has changed his tune. Now that the prospect of Trump firing Mueller is more of a possibility, Tillis is with those Republicans who say the bill is unnecessary because Trump would never dare fire the special counsel. We don’t share that faith. Tillis and his North Carolina colleague, Sen. Richard Burr, should take a stand now for the Constitution, the rule of law and the good of the country.

EVERYTHING IS FOR SALE NOW. EVEN US: Major companies now outsource many of even their most skilled jobs, ditching their in-house lawyers and I.T. support teams in favor of on-demand contractors, paid by the hour. More than 18 million Americans are now involved in some kind of direct sales or multilevel marketing scheme, shelling out hundreds of dollars on vitamins or juicers or leggings, then frantically attempting to recoup the money by flogging them to friends and neighbors. Economists predict that by 2027, gig workers of varying descriptions will make up more than half of the work force. An estimated 47 percent of millennials already work in this way. It certainly feels familiar. Almost everyone I know now has some kind of hustle, whether job, hobby, or side or vanity project. Share my blog post, buy my book, click on my link, follow me on Instagram, visit my Etsy shop, donate to my Kickstarter, crowdfund my heart surgery. It’s as though we are all working in Walmart on an endless Black Friday of the soul.


KEN JONES: TIME TO SLAY THE GERRYMANDER: The hotly contested election is over and more North Carolinians voted for Democratic candidates than Republicans. However, the will of the voters was negated by the reality of the gerrymander. With less than 50 percent of the vote, Republican candidates won 58 percent of the state Senate and 55 percent of the state House seats. It has been pointed out that North Carolina is a republic and not a democracy, but for 200 years the trend has been the expansion of democracy, not its diminution. It has also been pointed out that in the past Democrats used the power to draw districts to their advantage. That is true, but two wrongs to not make a right and technology has made what had been an inexact art, into a science. NC’s gerrymandering is so blatant, that If we don’t fix it, the federal courts might. It is well past time for North Carolina to join a growing number of states that have established non-partisan election redistricting commissions. The party that pushes this issue and slays the gerrymander will be rewarded by a grateful electorate in 2020.

KATHLEEN WILLIAMS: REPUBLICANS LIKE TRUDY WADE TRADE IN FEAR AND HATE: If there was ever a question in your mind that this Republican Party was the party of fear and hate, you just needed to see the ‘Friends of Trudy Wade” ad during her campaign for state Senate. “STOP THE MOBS,” it proclaimed, showing lines of poverty-stricken refugees who just want to come to a better place. But, no! They will come and vote (and the Republicans obviously assume that these folks won’t vote for them). These “mobs” voted in the last election, the ad proclaimed, but, you have to look hard to notice the “data” in the background that seems to suggest that all of 19 undocumented immigrants were uncovered out of millions of votes in North Carolina. I looked hard, but, couldn’t find that reference to documented Republicans who apparently “accidentally” voted twice. But, of course, why would we worry about them? Be very afraid of the Republicans. They will suppress votes; they will try to gerrymander us out of our rights. And, when that fails, they will try to scare us. It’s time to stop the fear and hate. It’s time to stop the violence and killing.

PATSY SHEPPARD: COMPARING TRUMP TO CHRIST IS INAPPROPRIATE: For three years I’ve heard Donald Trump compared to both King David and Saul of Tarsus, but Bruce Bedder (Letters, Nov. 18) reached a new low with his disgraceful comparison of a racist, sexist, lying, deviant like Trump to Jesus Christ. If God “felt the need to influence human history to protect his investment,” he certainly would have chosen someone who professed his faith in God and demonstrated it with obedience to God’s commandments and the teachings of Jesus Christ. To claim that God instead chose an adulterous, profanity spewing, pathological liar who mistreats women, imprisons immigrants, and puts children in cages in direct opposition to Christ’s directives is ludicrous. Anyone with even a shred of decency who wants to support the odious Trump has to desperately justify their choice of loyalty to a human being that is the very antithesis of the Son of God, but anyone desperate enough to claim that a heathen like Trump is comparable to Jesus Christ has gone too far. Trump is far more akin to Satan’s choice than God’s, and that his false promises are no more than the apple in the Garden of Eden used to convince Adam and Eve to disobey God, the 30 pieces of silver that convinced Judas to betray Christ, or the golden calf that convinced the Israelites to turn away from God. People like Bruce Bedder may be as easily lured by shiny things as some of God’s ancient followers were. I suspect his choice will prove just as disastrous as theirs did.



From the dark side

This week's loser is Donald Bryson, the quite possibly even less competent replacement of Dallas Woodhouse as Director of NC's chapter of Americans For the Prosperous:

North Carolina has been a leader in enacting free-market reforms that are improving people’s lives. Four tax reform packages have reduced the burden of government and simplified filing for millions of Tar Heel families. The expansion of school choice has created a new opportunity for thousands of students. And the rejection of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion has helped protect North Carolina from a critical aspect of the federal government’s health care takeover.

The only thing he got right in that kool-aid-laced diatribe is that Medicaid expansion is a critical aspect of the ACA. By blocking that, Republicans have punished a specific group of people: The lower middle class. As it stands now, people in the income tiers above them receive assistance from the Federal government to pay for their insurance, but that group has been left behind, thanks to Republicans. And they didn't do so for budget reasons, they used that group of people as a tool to undermine the whole program. Because that's how they roll.

Unfortunately, the newly bolstered Democrat legislative minorities, Gov. Roy Cooper and special interest groups are now pressuring leaders in the General Assembly to such an extent that House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) indicated he is open to Medicaid expansion in North Carolina.

Oh, it's not the Democrats that are forcing Republicans to "soften" their stance on Medicaid expansion, it's the voting public. Tim Moore just got a taste of what happens when voters catch on to your shenanigans, and he knows it's only a matter of time before all those rural conservatives realize *they* were the ones who suffered because Republicans tried to destroy Obamacare. You better believe he's thinking about changing his mind.

Legislative leaders should now ignore renewed calls for Medicaid expansion — even when it comes from members of the Republican House Caucus, such as Rep. Donny Lambeth’s (R-Forsyth) Carolina Cares legislation.

The Obama administration assured states that Washington would pick up 100 percent of the expansion costs for the first three years, and then 90 percent thereafter. But how reliable is a guarantee from a federal government more than $21 trillion in debt, much of which is due to entitlement programs like Medicaid?

Nope. Not gonna let you get away with that. Our current deficit problems, which are breaking all records, are almost exclusively due to the insane tax cuts passed last year. You know, tax cuts like what you bragged about in your first paragraph. And just like you're trying to do here, Congressional Republicans are trying to blame programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, when they should be looking in a fucking mirror.

A job, not Medicaid, is the best anti-poverty program. North Carolina should keep moving forward with the proven job-creating policies of controlled government spending, tax cuts, and regulatory reform.

Caring for impoverished citizens and families isn’t the same thing as locking more people into Medicaid. Medicaid is a safety net program. However, expanding Medicaid would dramatically change the purpose of the program and necessitate increased government spending and higher tax rates, which will likely make it more difficult for those that need a job to get one. Thus, Medicaid, instead of helping our indigent citizens, locks them into a vicious cycle of poverty and the safety net becomes a net trap.

And this little worn and rehashed argument proves the author really doesn't know what he's talking about. Medicaid expansion targets those with an income level above the poverty line, but below the floor of $45,960 for an individual. It's a donut hole that even many red states are starting to fill, and the vast majority of those affected do work for a living.

Which is more than I can say for Donald Bryson.