Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


RECKLESS PERSONAL ATTACKS HARM EFFORTS TO RESOLVE STATE HEALTH PLAN: At the same time Folwell announced what he termed his “final offer,” the State Employees Association of North Carolina, a key Folwell ally in his effort, launched a mean-spirited personal attack on Michael Waldrum – the CEO of Vidant Health – the system that serves 29 counties in eastern North Carolina and operates the teaching hospital for Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. The video mocks Waldrum as greedy and selfish. It complains that he seeks a “profit” for the non-profit health care system. Vidant’s operations are overseen by a board that has a fiduciary responsibility to maintain financial viability. This isn’t just about Waldrum. It is the board and Waldrum who must do the right things for the non-profit’s operations, for the employees and the patients. The reality is that without that “profit” many of those the system serves in the poorest region of the state will go without any care at all.

NEWBY'S COMMENTS ABOUT OTHER JUSTICES UNDERMINES THE COURT: A recent recording reveals Newby announcing that “In 2018, the left put $1.5 million dollars to get their ‘AOC’ person on the Court.” Although Newby did not call a name, Justice Anita Earls was the only justice elected in 2018. He further asked the audience to “Imagine seven ‘AOCs’ on the state Supreme Court” and continued with “Well, folks, we got six,” as the audience laughed. Not long ago judges campaigned with civility. They emphasized experience, integrity, fairness, and impartiality. Times have changed. But the need that judges campaign with dignity and reserve has not. Newby’s statements about his fellow justices stepped over the line. A charitable reading is that the remarks highlighted philosophical differences between Newby and the other justices. A fair reading is that the remarks were not intended to be positive or a compliment in any way to his colleagues. The language of Newby’s recent campaign address maligning his fellow justices must not continue. This judicial campaigning variant must not be normalized. No judicial candidate should utter words that undermine the courts. No judicial candidate should cast judicial colleagues in a negative light. Newby’s comments challenge the legitimacy of the Supreme Court of North Carolina. They undermine his brother and sister justices who serve. As such, his comments are a threat to the rule of law.

IT'S UP TO ALL OF US TO MAKE THIS RIGHT: Though the president’s Twitter feed provided the template for the chant, his supporters at Williams Arena are not off the hook. The 8,000 individuals — Greenville natives, your friends, your neighbors, the people you see at the grocery store and the people you honk at on the roads — readily rejected the legitimacy of an American citizen’s right to dissent Wednesday. Some were out-of-towners, for sure, and perhaps some were groupies of the president, but certainly a sizable number of Pitt County residents took part in the chant. Explaining the history of statements like “Go back to where you came from,” and how the KKK, until 1977, had a billboard in Smithfield, N.C, only an hour away from Greenville, that said “This Is Klan Country — Love It Or Leave It,” may sway some. But is it really acceptable that a crowd of 8,000 adults was unaware that saying “Send her back” to a black, immigrant, Muslim congresswoman was racist? It is up to every Greenville resident, from Trump supporters to Democratic-Socialists, to ensure that in this city, every person feels welcome. It is also up to our local elected leaders, who rallied with Trump before and after the racist chant. Are they up to the task?

MITCH MCCONNELL IS A RUSSIAN ASSET: This doesn’t mean he’s a spy, but neither is it a flip accusation. Russia attacked our country in 2016. It is attacking us today. Its attacks will intensify in 2020. Yet each time we try to raise our defenses to repel the attack, McConnell, the Senate majority leader, blocks us from defending ourselves. Let’s call this what it is: unpatriotic. The Kentucky Republican is, arguably more than any other American, doing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bidding. But McConnell has blocked all such attempts, including: A bipartisan bill requiring Facebook, Google and other Internet companies to disclose purchasers of political ads, to identify foreign influence. A bipartisan bill to ease cooperation between state election officials and federal intelligence agencies. A bipartisan bill imposing sanctions on any entity that attacks a U.S. election. A bipartisan bill with severe new sanctions on Russia for its cybercrimes. McConnell has prevented them all from being considered — over and over again. This is the same McConnell who, in the summer of 2016, when briefed by the CIA along with other congressional leaders on Russia’s electoral attacks, questioned the validity of the intelligence and forced a watering down of a warning letter to state officials about the threat, omitting any mention of Russia. No amount of alarms sounded by U.S. authorities — even Republicans, even Trump appointees — moves McConnell.

TRUMP'S INHUMANITY BEFORE A VICTIM OF RAPE: He cannot heave his bulk from the chair for this brave young woman. He cannot look at her. Every now and again, in a disdainful manner, he swivels his head toward her and other survivors of religious persecution. When Murad says, “They killed my mom, my six brothers,” Trump responds: “Where are they now?” Where are they now??? “They are in the mass graves in Sinjar,” Murad says. She is poised and courageous throughout in her effort to communicate her story in the face of Trump’s complete, blank indifference. At the mention of Sinjar, Trump’s unbelievable response is, “I know the area very well, you’re talking about. It’s tough.” Let’s play how-well-does-President-Trump-know-Sinjar? It’s a wildly implausible game. Toward the end of the exchange, Trump asks Murad about her Nobel Prize. “That’s incredible,” he says. “They gave it to you for what reason?” “For what reason?” Murad asks, suppressing with difficulty her incredulity that nobody has briefed the president. Nobody can brief this president. It’s pointless. He knows everything. “I made it clear to everyone that ISIS raped thousands of Yazidi women,” she says. “Oh really?” says Trump. “Is that right?” I have watched the Murad-Trump exchange several times. It is scary. This president is inhuman. Something is missing. In his boundless self-absorption, he is capable of anything.


JOHN D. BURNS: HOW NOT TO RUN A MUNICIPAL CAMPAIGN: This is directed at no particular candidate in the upcoming Raleigh municipal elections. Running for office on a plan to duplicate good work that has already been done seems to indicate a lack of preparation. For instance, any plan to improve transit has to begin with full implementation of the existing Wake County Transit Plan, which is now in year 3 of a 10-year plan. If someone wants to talk about how Raleigh should supplement and support this work, then great, let’s hear it. But plans to explore light rail for instance, when that option was extensively considered and rejected by a community-wide process not five years ago, are not helpful to the voter or the budget. Reinventing the wheel isn’t necessary on housing either. We know what the challenges and tools are. It’s up to us to continue investing in solutions. We need to work together on these things. And where the work has been done by one government in the region, it probably doesn’t need to be redone.

JAMES BRADY: LEADERS MUST ADDRESS INHUMANITY ON THE BORDER: There is no denying inhumane conditions on our southern border any longer. Separating families without any means of re-uniting them cannot be denied because it’s true. Children sleeping on concrete floors cannot be denied because it’s true. Forcing people to stand because the enclosures in which they are caged are too small to allow room to sit cannot be denied because it’s true. Blaming these conditions on Democrats is a blatant lie, given Republicans are in control of the Department of Homeland Security. It is also the easiest way to defer responsibility and change the subject. I call on Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis and Rep. Mark Walker to immediately publicly protest these inhumane conditions. Their silence to date is deafening. These camps are a stain on our so-called American values. Our elected representatives, like myself, are Caucasian descendants of immigrants. Were our ancestors treated like animals? Were they forced into fenced enclosures? Were they told to drink out of toilets? The camps are a crime against humanity. Stand up and do something about it. If you lack the moral fortitude to protest the obvious, step aside and let someone else do it.

NANCY NICHOLS HAWLEY: THE PRESIDENT IS PROJECTING AGAIN: President Trump is projecting again, accusing the “Squad” of hating America. He loves an America of the past, when minorities and the poor were suppressed. The socially conscious America of today threatens his power, his control, and most of all his ego. The Squad doesn’t hate America, but I suspect they, as I, do hate the kind of America the president is working so hard to recreate. He may have jumped the shark in Greenville, which is further reinforced by his disavowal of the “send her back” chant. That, along with his blatant lie that he tried to stop it by talking quickly after it started, is the president’s typical effort to rewrite history, exonerate himself and correct his foolishness in thinking that there are more like him than there really are. Thank goodness, there are not.

OLIVIA MCAULIFFE: FED UP WITH THE DEBATES: Climate change is the No. 1 issue among Democratic voters and its effects have never been more prevalent. So why was it discussed for less than 16 minutes across both nights of the first Democratic debate? The lack of attention to climate change does not reflect the will of the people. I expect more from both the Democratic candidates and the debate moderators. As a 19-year-old, I hear often that my generation must be the one to solve the climate crisis. We are told to mobilize, take action, and vote. But we need a strong candidate to vote for. We deserve a president who’ll hear our concerns and champion clean energy solutions for all. In Detroit, the debate moderators must ask more, harder-hitting climate questions. The candidates must present comprehensive, viable climate plans. The 2020 election is our country’s last best hope of de-escalating the climate crisis. It’s about time the debates reflect that.



From the dark side

This week's loser is Mark Thiessen, for horrifically mischaracterizing the Mueller hearings:

Robert Mueller’s disastrous testimony has taken the wind out of the sails of the Democratic impeachment drive. That is a victory for President Trump. But it also was good news for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

It was "disastrous" alright. But it was disastrous for Trump and his GOP apologists like you. Which is why you wrote this effort to spin the results, which also includes an effort to drive a wedge between Pelosi and those who chose her to lead. We'll get to that Pelosi thing later, but first let's deal with Mueller:

For most Americans, the Mueller investigation was about whether the president of the United States conspired with Russia to steal the 2016 election. Americans were told that the president was a traitor who had colluded with Vladimir Putin to subvert U.S. democracy. So, when Mueller released his report in April finding that “the investigation did not establish that the Trump Campaign coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” the country breathed a sigh of relief and was ready to move on.

Sigh of relief? More like a growl of frustration. The Trump Tower meeting between Don Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, was documented in detail. Don Jr. later admitted that the meeting was to secure "dirt on Clinton," and the President of the United States wrote the initial letter for his son to give authorities that claimed the meeting was about adoptions. It might be the first time Trump attempted to obstruct justice in the probe, but it damned sure wasn't the last.

A Harvard-Harris poll in May found that 65% of Americans said Congress should not begin impeachment proceedings against Trump, and 80% of Americans said they wanted their “congressional representatives working more on infrastructure, health care, and immigration” instead of investigating the president. Pelosi was listening and tried to steer her caucus away from the suicidal push for impeachment.

Pelosi was not "poll-watching," she was looking at the hard facts she already had to work with, and the information that still needed to be explored. And she knew that once the House voted to Impeach, the matter would be in the hands of the Republican Senate, with Mitch McConnell calling the shots.

But many Democrats refused to listen to her or the American people. Instead of focusing on substantive issues, they kept focusing on investigating Trump. Despite Mueller’s public declaration that he did not want to appear before Congress because “the report is my testimony,” they insisted he appear – even threatening to subpoena him. As a result, the prospect of Mueller’s testimony loomed over the country for months.

Again, mischaracterizing both Pelosi's words and intent. Quoting her from an interview in May:

"We have investigations that will give us facts and the truth," Pelosi said. "This is not about Congress or any committee of Congress. It’s about the American people and their right to know and their election that is at stake and that a foreign government intervened in our election and the president thinks it is a laughing matter."

"And that is the path that I'm following. It's about the facts and the law. Now, as I said yesterday, the president is almost self-impeaching because he is every day demonstrating more obstruction of justice and disrespect for Congress' legitimate role to subpoena. Again, this is very methodical. It's very Constitution-based. It's very law based. It's very factually based. It's not about pressure. It's about patriotism."

To insinuate that other Dems were proceeding with investigations against Pelosi's wishes is just more fake news from the right-wing propaganda machine. Don't fall for it.

Democrats’ impeachment drive was never going to work. Even if they did pass articles of impeachment, the Senate is not going to convict him. The only way they’re going to get Trump out of office is by beating him in the 2020 election. But instead of focusing on things they need to do to defeat Trump at the ballot box – such as a policy agenda to win back working-class voters who voted for Obama but defected to Trump in 2016 – they’re focused on impeachment. Not only is that not winning back those Obama-Trump voters, it is pushing them away, because it is perceived as an effort to invalidate their votes.

Yanno, I hear a lot about those alleged Obama/Trump voters, and how we need to get them back. But here are some (real) numbers for you: Clinton got about 62,000 fewer popular votes in 2016 than Obama in 2012. Sounds like a lot, but it isn't. She earned just under 3 million more popular votes than Trump, so that 62,000 is just a blip, and likely a "sexist" blip at that.

As far as I'm concerned, anybody who voted for Trump in 2016 should be viewed with a certain amount of concern as to their judgment and motives, but those who still support him? That's a whole bursting basket of crazy right there. I'm not wasting one nanosecond trying to "reason" with them.

Yet despite the obvious failure of the Mueller hearings, some pro-impeachment Democrats are undeterred.

You better believe it. And a big reason why is because of the Mueller hearings, not in spite of them. Those who were paying attention know why, because clear and damning evidence of obstruction of justice by the President of the United States was presented to the American people, and no amount of spin can wipe that away.

About those rats in Baltimore...

Kushner's family has something like 170 violations on the numerous apartments they own in Baltimore, but Trump is too damn dumb to realize an attack on the city's living conditions is an attack on his own family.