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.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
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.