Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


MARK MEADOWS IS AN EMBARRASSMENT TO NC. CONGRESS SHOULD TAKE A HARD LINE WITH HIM: Meadows made a deal to cooperate with the congressional probe, but now is refusing to sit for a deposition, citing executive privilege. He also has sued to block the committee’s subpoenas against him as “overly broad and unduly burdensome.” He had turned over thousands of pages of documents to the committee, but is withholding some 1,000 text messages. The House panel voted Monday to recommend contempt charges In advance of the recommendation, the committee released a report Sunday that contained new details of Meadows’s actions related to attempts to overturn the election results. The report said Meadows “received text messages and emails regarding apparent efforts to encourage Republican legislators in certain States to send alternate slates of electors to Congress, a plan which one Member of Congress acknowledged was ‘highly controversial’ and to which Mr. Meadows responded, ‘I love it.’” It’s also known that Meadows was on the phone when Trump pressured Georgia’s top election official to “find“ enough votes to reverse Trump’s Georgia loss. He also sought to have the Justice Department question the integrity of the election. The Jan. 6 committee wants to hear about those machinations. Crucially, it wants Meadows’s version of what Trump was doing as the Capitol was under assault and how he responded to calls for help from Capitol security officials and members of Congress. The truth is, Trump let it play out until he came to the conclusion it wasn't going to work. Then he called for restraint. It's that very delay that makes him guilty of Treason, and he knows it. And so does Meadows.

SURPRISE! THERE'S NO VOTER FRAUD. AGAIN: Given how much Republicans bang on about the dangers of voter fraud, a little schadenfreude is in order here. But it misses the bigger point: To the extent there is any fraud, it is almost entirely an individual phenomenon. The AP report confirmed this, finding no evidence anywhere of a coordinated effort to commit voter fraud. That’s no surprise. Committing a single case of fraud is hard enough; doing so as part of a conspiracy is essentially impossible, once you consider how many people would need to be in on the scheme. “It’s a staggeringly inefficient way to affect an outcome,” said David Daley, the author of “Unrigged: How Americans Are Battling Back to Save Democracy.” “It simply doesn’t work.” To sum up once more for the folks in the cheap seats: Voter fraud is vanishingly rare. It is virtually never coordinated. And when it does happen, it is often easily discovered and prosecuted by authorities. I hold no illusions that any of these truths will matter to those who have invested themselves in tales of widespread fraud. After all, they weren’t moved when both Republican and Democratic officials in states around the country reaffirmed, in some cases multiple times, the accuracy and integrity of their vote counts. Even Bill Barr, the former attorney general and one of Trump’s most reliable bootlickers, could not bring himself to repeat the lie that there was any meaningful fraud in 2020. This shouldn't have to be explained to anybody, our own experiences are enough to disprove the lie. A secret kept between two people has a moderate chance of remaining so; add a third person and that chance drops precipitously. Every additional individual you add increases (exponentially?) the likelihood of that secret becoming common knowledge.

HOW LONG BEFORE IT'S YOU WHO LOSES THE GUN LOTTERY? The town official encourages everyone to wrap it up quickly so they can get back to work, and it is only when the first stone strikes the woman on the side of the head that we realize what we’ve been witnessing. This community gathers once a year to draw lots to kill one of their own — a tradition handed down from generation to generation to ensure peace and prosperity. I think about “The Lottery”’ when I see the tactical weapons shop with the bright white decals of automatic firearms and flashing neon signs that sits less than a mile from my daughters’ schools. I have to pass it four times every school day. I wonder who the people buying those weapons will kill. I thought of “The Lottery” when I heard the news of the school shooting in Oxford, Mich. Last week it was that school. Which school will draw the marked slip next time? The shooter’s parents bought him the semi-automatic pistol as an early Christmas present. When a teacher reached out with concerns about his Google search history, his mother laughingly texted him not to get caught next time. Owning a gun made him happy. Owning a gun kept him safe. It was his classmates who drew the fatal tickets in the lottery they didn’t even know they were playing. I thought of “The Lottery” this week when I saw the picture on the Christmas card Rep. Thomas Massie tweeted to all of us. The whole family — father, mother, little sister, big sister, brothers — perfectly posed, coordinated outfits, coordinated automatic weapons. “Merry Christmas! ps. Santa, please bring ammo,” the caption said. All is calm, all is bright. These weapons might kill somebody — but it won’t be us. Every time my kids come home safe from school, I think of the mothers whose children will not. I wonder how long our luck will last. I wonder why we choose to do this to ourselves — to our children. I wonder if we’ll ever give up the lottery. It's doubtful. We've become a nation of navel-gazers, who look at all situations from our own little niche, and not the bigger picture. Even common sense gun control measures might (slightly) delay our self-gratification of acquiring a new shiny (yet lethal) toy.

JACKSON'S WITHDRAWAL FROM SENATE RACE STRENGTHENS DEMOCRATS: State Senator Jeff Jackson announced on Thursday that he has decided to withdraw from the Democratic primary for United States Senate. The move was likely prudent, given his disadvantage in recent opinion polling, and public-spirited in the sense that his withdrawal from the race will clear room for Cheri Beasley to build a general election campaign. While Democrats like Jackson and former state Senator Eric Smith are sacrificing for the good of their party, Republicans are tearing each other apart. This contrast may just give Democrats the special circumstances they need to win a U.S. Senate seat. First, the Democrats. Jackson’s move reflects a political realism that is admirable in a politician who has drawn interest from statewide activists ever since entering office at the age of 31. Senator Jackson saw the way the race was trending and bowed out, knowing that the only way for a white-male candidate to defeat the accomplished African American, Cheri Beasley, would be to attack a distinguished public servant, causing heartburn within the party. Now, Beasley can concentrate on building a financial and organizational infrastructure for the general election while consolidating support from Democratic panjandrums and activists alike. Jackson clearly did what was best for the party. Meanwhile, the right-wing Club for Growth has gone on a ferocious tear against former Governor Pat McCrory. In television ads and an extraordinary 12-page direct-mail piece, the Club has charged McCrory with anemic support for the God-Emperor of Red America, one Donald J. Trump, and a supposed affinity for the Chinese Communist Party. These attacks have cut so deeply into McCrory’s image that, even though he still leads in public and private polling, the erratic governor has panicked, even pulling off the classic maneuver of a candidate losing ground by challenging the Club’s choice, Ted Budd, to a debate. The Republican primary is already ugly and divisive, and six months remain for it to get worse. It was a smart and realistic move by Jackson, but now Cheri Beasley needs to emulate Jeff by getting as much exposure as possible. She is infinitely likeable and brilliant, but not very well-known. That needs to change.

BELL HOOKS TAUGHT US BLACK WOMEN HOW TO RESIST, AND HOW TO REST: A day before bell hooks died this week, I was leaving the grocery store when a man stopped me so he could read my shirt. I stood with bags in hand as he read out loud, “Ain’t you tired, Black Girl?” It is a line from a poem I wrote that challenges how Black women are told to shrink and be silent — until we are needed to repair the world around us: Fix it, Black Girl. Fix us, Black Girl. Nurse us, Black Girl. Teach us, Black Girl. Be the help, Black Girl. Clean up our messes, Black Girl. Vote for us, Black Girl … Ain’t you tired, Black Girl? The man outside the store said, “You aren’t tired. You are a Black woman, and Black women are strong.” I smiled because I knew that was the expectation. In his mind, he was complimenting me, a compliment that has been placed on the shoulders of so many Black women. But as bell hooks wrote in 1981’s “Ain’t I a Woman,” “Usually, when people talk about the ‘strength’ of black women they are referring to the way in which they perceive black women coping with oppression. They ignore the reality that to be strong in the face of oppression is not the same as overcoming oppression, that endurance is not to be confused with transformation.” I wanted to tell this man I was tired. I am tired of existing in a world that demands everything of Black women and gives us so little in return. I am tired of fighting. I have spent more than half my life writing about racism, trying to get this nation to see we are in a dreadful condition. And for what? Along the way, I have paid for it, too, in my humanity, and in my peace. There is the temptation to give in to anger or hatred, or to put yourself on the back burner of life. But bell hooks had words for this, too. She chose not to hate. She chose another, greater form of resistance: love. “The moment we choose to love, we begin to move against domination, against oppression,” she wrote in her 1994 essay “Love as the Practice of Freedom.” “The moment we choose to love, we begin to move towards freedom, to act in ways that liberate ourselves and others.” Love is sacred wisdom we often overlook. And it always begins with self. Love does not require I shrink as a Black woman. It doesn’t demand that I remain silent. Love allows me to rest. Yes, Black women are strong. But they have to be, and that is part of the problem.


LYNNE WALTER: WAKE COUNTY LIBRARIES MADE A HUGE MISTAKE: Regarding “Wake County Public Libraries removes LGBTQ book from shelves,” (Dec. 16): Wake County Public Libraries has fallen prey to the homophobia and transphobia sweeping the nation. As a huge supporter of public libraries and an active library patron, I am dismayed and disappointed that Wake librarians would give in to hatred, homophobia and transphobia and participate in censorship of books. If WCPL’s mission is “to instill the love of reading and to foster the pursuit of knowledge for the residents of Wake County,” then censoring is in direct violation of that. WCPL played into the hands of people who want to promote hatred of LGBTQ+ members of our community, and even if unintended, WCPL is contributing to an environment that discriminates against LGBTQ+ residents. This is shameful, embarrassing on the part of Wake County, and insulting. This error must be rectified immediately. It makes you wonder how long it will be before Nazi book-burning rallies commence.

CARMEL SALHI: TO SAVE LIVES, MAKE GUNS INACCESSIBLE TO CHILDREN: In her Dec. 8 op-ed, “Charges against these parents should serve as an example,” Shannon Watts rightly observed that if children didn’t have access to guns, there would be fewer gun-related injuries and deaths. One approach to reducing access is to require parents to lock their guns. However, work by our group suggests that locking guns, alone, is often insufficient. In a recent paper, my colleagues Deborah Azrael, Matthew Miller and I found that half of gun-owning households with a 13-to-17-year-old store all their guns locked. In one-quarter of these households, adolescents said they could still access a loaded household gun within five minutes. About half of their parents acknowledged their child could access a gun, and the other half thought they couldn’t, suggesting supervised and unsupervised access despite all guns being locked. Laws requiring parents to secure their guns might or might not induce more households to lock their guns, but locking all guns is only the first step if the goal is to prevent children from dying. Gun-related suicides and accidents among children are just as uniquely an American phenomenon as mass school shootings and are far more common. Guns must be made truly inaccessible to children if we want to save lives. I endorse this message.

KAREN DEFAZIO: I AM NOT ADORABLE, I AM ACCOMPLISHED AND ACTIVE: Elaine Soloway’s Dec. 14 Tuesday Opinion essay, “Please do not put a party hat on my head — and other indignities of old age,” was spot on. When discussing living things, “adorable” and “cute” (my addition) should be reserved for pets, baby animals in general and children, especially toddlers and babies. To use these terms when describing an adult is infantilizing and condescending. When my mother was in her 80s and no longer could live alone, she went to a home associated with a hospital. It looked good on the outside and the inside. I sensed something was off, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. Then a member of the staff told me, “We just love your mother. She’s adorable!” in a tone reserved for describing toddlers. My mother was a lot of things: poised, well put together, a retired teacher whose students still kept in touch decades later. She was not “adorable.” It all coalesced for me, and I knew she had to go elsewhere. I was able to relocate her to a place where they treated her as an elderly woman who needed help to continue living with dignity. It made all the difference. One treated her with condescension, the other with dignity. I’m 73 and will probably never get a tattoo — not my style and sounds painful — but I can relate to Ms. Soloway’s way of thinking 100 percent. Like her, I am still active, well put together and accomplished. I ain’t adorable nor cute!



Tired of hearing about Mayberry...

Thursday night we had our monthly Planning Board meeting, and the fictional town of Mayberry was once again referred to, in an effort to discourage a new housing development. Which makes about the fifteenth time I've heard this, and it is getting beyond tiresome.

Yes, I enjoyed the show. And unlike the young man bringing it up, I actually watched it as new episodes were introduced. I don't need to be reminded about the bucolic community that never really existed, or that Barney was only allowed to have one bullet (which was apparently one too many). It's a fantasy, frankly, and using it in an effort to preserve your lifestyle says more about you than whatever "evils" you perceive are encroaching upon you.

Stereotypes pop up in these meetings all the time, and steering the conversation back into the realm of what we should be discussing is not easy. Infrastructure that supports (or does not) the increase in population, stormwater control, traffic congestion, etc., are all legitimate concerns. But they don't generate the fears that otherism does, so it's a near-constant shift back into prejudicial territory.

And when people deploy innuendo and allusion to bring prejudice into the debate, they are actually demonstrating that they know it's wrong, but want deniability also. They think they are being clever, but they are actually being disingenuous. Luckily most on my Board can see through this, so I am not forced to point these things out in session. But it is wearing me down.

It probably doesn't need to be said, but faith in government is at an all-time low. You may think this is justified, but it is actually a symptom of a stunning lack of objectivity in the general populace. I (and my fellow Board members) were referred to as "politicians" Thursday night, with a notable tone of distaste by the speaker. The implication of corruption and self-serving was heavy in the air, but we are all unpaid volunteers.

But that hardly matters when Mayberry is being threatened.

Mayberry Town Planning

The next time someone brings up Mayberry, you need to have some cards printed up at Kinko's with photos of the set to remind them that:

a) It was a tv show and the buildings were just fronts on the RKO lot next door to the military camp Henderson in "Gomer Pyle USMC" and the prison of war camp in "Hogan's Heroes".

b) You can see the streets of Mayberry in "Star Trek", "Land of the Giants", and many other tv shows and movies.

c) The cast and crew cussed like sailors on the set and little Opie couldn't figure out the adult graffitti on the bathroom walls. Little Opie also heard the crew, who knew Jim Nabors was gay, regularly call Nabors a derogatory name behind his back.

d) Down to earth Andy Taylor, in real life, made a fortune off the tv show. Griffith left an estate of $60 million. His wife, Cindi, held no sentiment for "The Andy Griffith Show" or her husband's career and got a permit to demolish Griffith's home in Roanoke Island, NC less than a year after he passed away.