Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


THE TIME FOR POLITE DIALOGUE WITH THE POLITICAL RIGHT IS OVER: North Carolina’s Thom Tillis was typical when he stated, “The campaign is already underway. It is essential to the institution of the Senate and to the very health of our republic to not launch our nation into a partisan, divisive confirmation battle during the very same time the American people are casting their ballots to elect our next president.” Today — surprise! — they’re singing a radically different tune. The same men and women who blocked the Garland nomination are now ready to proceed with an absurdly rapid confirmation process for a Trump nominee — perhaps even in a post-election, lame duck session after Trump has lost the election. Meanwhile, as Tillis, Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell and other Republican senators pursue their unabashed perfidy in the glare of Washington klieg lights, another branch of the modern conservative movement has been toiling under the radar, pursuing similarly dishonest, if less-well-publicized work. This fact was on display last week with the remarkable revelation that a right-wing operative with ties to the national conservative establishment had tried to infiltrate multiple good government groups in North Carolina. What’s more, the tactic “Fortune” employed — attempting to deceptively ingratiate himself through the offering of financial contributions — is similar to that often used by Project Veritas, a notorious right-wing operation that has long used dishonest tactics in an effort to infiltrate progressive organizations and Democratic campaigns in hopes of catching them in (or prodding them into) some sort of unlawful activity. If there’s any fire left in the belly of the progressive movement, these incidents will serve as a final wake-up call — a last clear signal that the time for polite and civilized dialogue with the right has become all but impossible. Simply put: Now is the time for caring and thinking people to fight like hell to save our country from those who would lie, cheat and steal their way to power.

DAN FOREST'S CARELESS RHETORIC STRETCHES TRUTH, IS A HEALTH HAZARD: Forest has said, on more than one occasion, Biden will be dead before Jan. 20, 2021 – presidential inauguration day. Hear and see what he said at a campaign event in Salisbury on Aug. 24: “Could you imagine having Kamala Harris as president of the United States? I mean, we all know that Sleepy Joe probably won’t make it to January 20th. So Kamala Harris, good chance she could be your president.” Just a couple of weeks ago, when he appeared with President Donald Trump in Winston-Salem, Forest was at it again. “We all know that Sleepy Joe’s not going to make it.” Predicting a presidential candidate’s death. What kind of comment is that to make? Dan Forest knows Joe Biden isn’t on death’s door. He knows downtown Raleigh wasn’t destroyed. And he knows there’s no credible science to support his dangerous claptrap against using masks.

NC GOP LEADERS AREN'T WORRIED ABOUT VOTER FRAUD, THEY'RE WORRIED ABOUT A TRUE VOTE: The Republican leaders don’t fear voter fraud. They fear voters. A closer look at the settlement shows the State Board of Elections made a prudent decision to settle the legal challenge to help absentee voters and head off confusion as Election Day nears. Allowing a voter to fix a missing witness signature by signing an affidavit simply extends a remedy that state law already provides for voters who fail to sign their absentee ballot. The extension of the date when an absentee ballot – postmarked on or before Election Day –responds to a warning from the Postal Service that ballots mailed less than a week before the Nov. 3 election will face “a significant risk” of not being delivered by Nov. 6, the deadline for being counted. The settlement would move the deadline to Nov. 12, a nine-day window already provided under state law for absentee ballots mailed by residents living abroad or in the military. Many North Carolinians are planning to avoid the polls and vote by mail. The settlement’s one-time changes will accommodate voters’ worry and enable more people to have their vote counted. That’s what Berger and Moore are really howling about.

"CLAIMED, WITHOUT ANY EVIDENCE," IS TRUMP'S CATCHPHRASE: Trump has repeatedly assailed mail-in voting as widely fraudulent, but he and his campaign have released no evidence to prove it. Even though the president and first lady Melania Trump have voted by mail and his campaign and Republicans have encouraged voters in key swing states to request ballots, his campaign is suing multiple states over mail-in voting rules. IN FACT, FBI director Christopher Wray told Congress yesterday that his agency has not seen “any kind of coordinated national voter fraud efforts in a majority election” including mail-in voting. In recent days, Trump, without evidence, has: Accused Democrats of fabricating Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dying request that her vacancy be filled by the next president. Stated the COVID-19 virus affects only elderly people with heart problems, nobody young, below the age of 18. Said the FDA has delayed COVID-19 vaccine trials. Claimed that alleged Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse acted in self-defense when he shot and killed two people. During this presidential term, truth has been the first casualty. The toll on the American people continues to mount.

AMY CONEY BARRETT AND THE NEW/OLD ANTI-CATHOLICISM: Roman Catholic schools have warred bitterly over their exemption from anti-discrimination employment statutes, scoring a win in a case argued before the Supreme Court as recently as this summer. Catholic hospitals have found themselves embroiled in court battles for refusing to perform or even discuss abortions, regardless of state or federal law. And, perhaps most famously, the Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of Catholic nuns that operates nursing homes for low-income seniors, fought the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate all the way to the Supreme Court, and won. In each case, Catholic institutions have asked for exemptions to various laws, citing the First Amendment. In Lockean terms, they have argued that business putatively conducted in the civil sphere actually belongs to the religious one, and thus ought not be subject to the rules of civil government. They are staking out and reclaiming jurisdictional territory from the state, in other words, and each victory adds ground to the church’s domain. There are those who worry that the exemption solution won’t work forever, and those who worry that it will work too well, shrinking the role of religion in public life and reducing the ranks of the faithful. There are also those, like me (I should note that I, too, am Catholic), who suspect that both may happen at once: that religions whose ethics conflict with the broader culture will shift toward forming small, dense enclaves, where they are unlikely to encounter legal challenges to their preferred practices. Evangelicals, for example, already predict this fate for themselves. But since the Roman Catholic Church is enormous, highly organized and financially capable of fighting for its ground to a much greater extent than other religious groups, cases concerning Catholic institutions will most likely continue cluttering court dockets for the foreseeable future. It’s into this context that Judge Barrett steps as a piously Catholic woman and a Supreme Court nominee. She neither created this situation nor will she end it; no justice placed on the bench could. It has a life and a legacy bigger than any individual cast in it by history, and it seems poised to keep us in shocking, surprising times.


MATTHEW HOH: ONCE AGAIN, THE GOVERNMENT HAS PUT CORPORATE PROFITS AHEAD OF MILITARY SAFETY: During my first deployment to Iraq in 2004, we were forced to weld armor onto our vehicles to protect ourselves from insurgent attacks. We weren’t provided adequate protection and many service members died, while corporate munitions makers saw profits and stock prices rise year after year. Now, we learn that the $1 billion the Pentagon recently received to help fight coronavirus went instead to private defense contractors for jet engines, spare parts and dress uniforms. This is yet another instance of the misplaced priorities of our leaders in Washington when it comes to actually protecting American lives. COVID-19 has killed over 200,00 Americans, yet billions of our tax dollars go to the Pentagon. Meanwhile, the real threats facing us today — the pandemic, climate change, poverty, and more — are underfunded, mired in political debate and posturing, or totally ignored. As a combat veteran, I want to see our tax dollars redirected to keep Americans truly safe, rather than to corporate welfare.

LYNN BENNETT: TILLIS NEEDS TO STAND BY HIS WORDS: Some memories fade with time. Busy people forget details of what was said, what happened when. When what was said or done now becomes politically uncomfortable or downright unfavorable, there are those who completely ignore or deny their former positions. Such is the case with Thom Tillis who, in 2016 concerning the nomination of Merrick Garland during an election year, said, "The campaign is already underway. It is essential to the institution of the Senate and to the very health of our republic to not launch our nation into a partisan, divisive confirmation battle during the very same time the American people are casting their ballots to elect our next president." So, why does Tillis now declare he will vote for confirmation of Donald Trump's nominee, as soon as possible before the election? Open your eyes and ears, voters. Elect Cal Cunningham for U.S. Senate and send Thom Tillis back home. During this politically contentious election year, no confirmation for the Supreme Court should be made until after the election. Call and email North Carolina Sens. Tillis and Richard Burr to express your objections to confirmation before Nov. 3.

ALLAN GREEN: COOPER AND COHEN ARE GUIDING US WELL DURING PANDEMIC: I was pleased to read last week that North Carolina was tied with Louisiana at a 5% positive COVID-19 test rate, the lowest in the Southeast. While it’s too soon for a victory lap, it does offer some assurance that Dr. Mandy Cohen and Gov. Roy Cooper have us on the right path. It is also interesting to note that the three states with the lowest rates all have Democratic governors. The other seven governors are Republicans. This is not a coincidence. I’m not suggesting that states with a Democratic governor are less affected by the virus, or suffer fewer deaths. COVID-19 is nonpartisan. But it does suggest that governors who take their guidance from Donald Trump can’t manage the pandemic as effectively as those who trust science and doctors. Take a look at our southern neighbor, or Georgia, or Florida. That’s where Dan Forest’s policies would have us. Yes, masks, social distancing, rules about group assemblies, and phased school openings are all burdensome, but they save lives and will ultimately restore our jobs, economy and lifestyle more quickly.



"People of Praise" is not a Catholic institution

Technically speaking, it is ecumenical, accepting members from a wide range of (Christian) denominations. That is not (in itself) alarming, but it does open the door for practices that would be "questionable" under more formal guidance from larger institutions. But as with anything, it's the details that matter.

There's a long process that applicants (supplicants?) must go through, and the sexes are segregated during the classes of instruction. It can take 3-6 years for somebody to complete this training, which I find more than alarming. It's stinks of indoctrination, allowing "teachers" and "leaders" to decide if an individual has been properly conditioned. By the time they are allowed to join formally (pledge to the Covenant) , they have invested a great deal of time and are much less likely to leave the community.

I wouldn't describe it as a "cult," but I probably wouldn't have described Word of Faith as a cult 25 years ago. Let's just say I would rather Amy Coney Barrett be a bonafide Roman Catholic, than somebody who has sat through several years of "training" to join said community.

I'm Catholic ...

... and I wouldn't hesitate in calling People of Praise not Catholic and most definitely a cult.