Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


CANDIDATES, TELL VOTERS CLEARLY AND FULLY, WHERE YOU STAND ON ABORTION: It is a question every candidate for the General Assembly should be asked and one that every candidate – regardless of political affiliation – should answer in full and complete detail. Most Democratic candidates, including incumbents, have declared their support – at a minimum -- for laws that affirm the state’s current abortion laws and support for the standard in Roe v. Wade – essentially leaving the decision to the woman during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Voters need to demand and end equivocations and vagaries, like those offered up by Berger. On one hand Berger says he wants some period of “autonomy” for woman. But then, just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, said: “Senate Republicans will determine whether other steps are appropriate to strengthen our pro-life laws.” Further, Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore demanded that state Attorney General Josh Stein “take all necessary actions to lift the injunction currently barring full enforcement of our state’s abortion restrictions.” This is no time for vague sloganeering that offers pacification to the partisan base while hiding specifics from more skeptical voters. The sad truth is, most of those who historically vote Republican don't want to know. They would prefer the comfortable deniability that ambiguity provides, safely avoiding the moral crossroads. It's not so much the extremism we should fear as it is the apathy that allows it to fester.

WHY IS NORTH CAROLINA SPENDING MILLIONS IN TAXPAYER MONEY ON CENTERS THAT MISLEAD PREGNANT PEOPLE? Fortunately, in North Carolina abortion is still legal and available — at least until the next election. But there are already national networks in place called crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) that exist for the sole purpose of undermining that right and taking advantage of people who may be in a vulnerable position in order to persuade them to carry a pregnancy to term. These centers market themselves as “all-options” medical spaces for individuals seeking pregnancy-related information and services. They often establish themselves within sight of an actual reproductive healthcare provider. But most CPCs are funded by anti-abortion activists and are not licensed or regulated as legitimate healthcare providers. CPCs serve only to mislead people who are already struggling to secure the care they seek. Despite their marketing, CPCs are anti-abortion centers that exist to shame people out of accessing abortion. These centers delay access to health care, including abortion and prenatal care. They also spread scientific and medical misinformation, that for example, closely links abortion to breast cancer, psychological disorders, and extreme complications, all of which is not supported by medical evidence. They are also known to provide other inaccurate information, including about due dates, that confuses patients who may be considering abortion. Despite receiving significant state funding, these centers are unaccountable to the public. North Carolina does not collect evaluative data on CPCs and so does not regulate or monitor the type, amount or quality of care patients receive there. Despite this lack of transparency, CPCs have continued to receive substantial and increasing state funding. Lying and cheating is the Republican way, of course they support these "centers." And they will continue to do so until voters hold them accountable.

GOP POLITICAL THEATER VS. THE TRUTH OF JAN 6: In November 1923 police fired on a raucous gang of about 2,000 insurgents in downtown Munich. Fourteen attackers and four policemen died. Hitler and eight comrades were charged with high treason. A guilty verdict could have meant years in prison and, in Hitler’s case, long-term deportation to his home country Austria. Hitler transformed a crushing defeat into victory because sympathetic Bavarian judges allowed him to take center stage with a big lie. While his co-defendants pleaded not guilty, Hitler proudly took responsibility for the treasonous debacle. For 24 days he raged, often for hours at a time, against the “Jewish-Marxist criminals” whose surrender to Allied armies in 1918 had been the “greatest disgrace in German history.” In the following years, while ordinary politicians debated policy, Joseph Goebbels explained Nazis’ new strategy for war against the government they despised. “We will use democracy to destroy democracy.” But while outrageous lies and sporadic terror solidified the Nazi hard core, the Weimar Republic stood firm. Voters, with turnout rates above 80 percent, cast less than 3 percent of their ballots for Nazi candidates. Then, with the onset of the Great Depression, unemployment climbed to 33 percent. Political gridlock paralyzed the government. In five national elections from 1931-32, voters shifted from moderate to extreme parties, and the Nazi vote increased to over 30 percent. Facing fractious opponents, the Nazi Party escalated its violence, fraud and libel --- crimes that became virtues in its imagined war for survival against a fictitious “Judeo-Communist” conspiracy. Trump mirrors Hitler’s delusional rants when he calls the ”stolen” election, “the greatest crime in history.” Fact checking is pointless because politics is spectacle. Each outrageous lie brings an opportunity for loyalists to pledge their allegiance in a war against values they despise. A friend mentioned on Facebook that Godwin's Law no longer applies, because the similarities between Trump and Hitler are overwhelming, as is the behavior of their respective supporters. I would go one step further: to *not* make that connection should be considered a logical fallacy.

A DEFENSE OF JOE BIDEN: America during the presidency of Joe Biden has been wracked with difficulties. That much has been very obvious. And of course, the president receives blame for events that cause malaise among the mass public, whether deserved or not. Thus, it’s not surprising to see President Biden’s numbers mired at levels that reflect the country’s widespread feeling that something is wrong. Nevertheless, Biden’s approval ratings do not accurately represent the quality of his performance as president. By far the most important factor driving Biden’s numbers toward their current, abysmal levels is the challenge of inflation. Voters rightly hate inflation, which is eating into real wages and making daily life harder for millions. If inflation were primarily the fault of this president, he would deserve ample criticism for letting prices run rampant. The reality, however, is that inflation rates are rising in every part of the world. It would be absurd to blame Biden for high inflation in Sweden, but that is in effect the position one has to take if they are to place primary blame on Biden for inflation concerns in the United States. Inflation is a global, not a local, problem, and the Biden administration has shown interest in giving Americans relief from its cost. Left-wing voters frustrated by Biden’s supposed unwillingness to “fight” are being ridiculous. The administration put in dogged efforts to get a progressive agenda through the Senate and has issued an executive order protecting doctors who perform emergency abortions. I have literally no idea what else the far left wants out of this administration except perhaps for more pugnacious rhetoric, which would undermine the president’s signature image as a unifier. Meanwhile, this administration has achieved genuine successes. The Biden team presided over a remarkably successful vaccine roll-out, which has protected tens of millions of Americans from the dangers of COVID-19. On the legislative front, the Biden years have seen breakthroughs on issues (many of them of deep concern to progressives) that have flummoxed Congress for years. Multiple presidents tried to get an infrastructure bill passed as a signature accomplishment; Biden got one. Mass shooting after mass shooting have scarred the country for decades, but at long last President Biden signed a gun-safety bill that almost no one thought would pass. These bills each received at least ten Republican votes. Unfortunately, it's that last part that many on the Left grumble about. If Republicans (even just 1/5 of them) support something, it must be at a minimum flawed, at a maximum inherently evil. It's always been about compromise; getting *some* of the things you want, and some of the things you don't want. That's what life is all about, we live with it every (single) day. Expecting politics to be any different is simply not realistic.

ABORTION: THE DIFFICULT CHOICE WAS MY OWN TO MAKE: This is my premise and principle and support for choice. Every child should be wanted and welcomed into this world. The decision to terminate the pregnancy was one of the most gut-wrenching decisions I ever made, and to this day I am grateful to have been able to make my choice without all the B.S. that women have had to go through in making that painful decision. The right to choose should not be my fight, but I fear for all the girls and women who now will bear unwanted children because they cannot afford to go to places that will still be able to perform abortions safely. If a female of any age is sexually assaulted, rest assured that if their families have the means, a safe abortion will still be an option. If you are poor, the burden of carrying this fetus which was probably conceived through violence may be the only option, other than a back-room abortion which may result in death. The U.S. Supreme Court justices who decided that there was no basis for the right to abortion in the Constitution were looking at a document from more than 200 years ago, when women did not have the right to vote. These justices were all appointed by presidents who did not have the popular vote, but who decided to overturn Roe v Wade because they were appointed by conservative presidents. Every opinion poll supports a woman’s right to choose within certain time frames. No one is saying babies should be aborted in the last trimester unless the mother’s life is in danger. So state legislators will decide if women have the right to safe abortions in their states. Some legislators have the courage to do what is right and let women decide her own fates; these states will welcome those who can afford to cross their borders. Some legislators will pursue a hard line of thinking — believing they know what is best for someone they know nothing about. No one has the right to tell another person whether they must give birth under any circumstances ... PERIOD! The author is absolutely correct; the burden of this decision will fall (much) more heavily on those on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. While this issue does affect all women, and should be opposed by all citizens, this disparity must not be forgotten. Give what you can to organizations that will help those of lesser means secure reproductive freedom.


MARGARET O'SHAUGHNESSEY: GET MAD AT THE RIGHT PEOPLE: My faith in young people fell dramatically reading “Young Democrats at Triangle colleges are furious at Democrats” (July 19). Why the anger at representatives who have, for decades, warned that election results directly affect judicial appointments and who have tirelessly challenged gerrymandering? Asleep-at-the-wheel voters have allowed soulless state and national politicians to imperil women’s health, to rule a fetus more deserving of protection than a child in a classroom. Why not focus outrage to punish members of Congress who support a deposed ex-president rather than the will of voters or their civil rights? Why not rage to end politicization of the judiciary? Yes, it is frustrating when young Dems focus their anger in the wrong direction. But it is also frustrating to get a barrage of campaign e-mails in the wake of bad shit happening. It stinks of opportunism, and should be discontinued.

LAURA STILLMAN: WE CAN'T LET HAPPEN: Tami Fitzgerald of N.C. Values Coalition recently said that if Republicans win a supermajority a top priority will be to make sure there is no talk of LGBTQ matters in K-3 classrooms. Fitzgerald referred to a recent WRAL poll. She failed to mention these critical facts: 51% of respondents considered this an insignificant or non-issue. And, 56% of Republicans were concerned about the issue, but 60% of Democrats and Independents were not. This new attack on the LGBTQ community is the next CRT for the Republicans. Imagine if Republicans put their energy and passion into actually helping our public schools rather than trying to destroy them. We have to preserve the power of Governor Cooper's Veto, because so many human rights are now depending on it.

ROBIN NEWMAN: VOTE FOR GUN SAFETY: After five fatal shootings in Raleigh in a week and a Little League tournament in Wilson interrupted by gunfire, we do not need another gun advocate in Congress or the statehouse. We need common sense protections for our children and families. As citizens, it’s our duty to end the horrific slaughter of our school children, neighbors and those just going about their lives. This insanity must end. Are we a nation that will allow the sacrifice of our kids, moms and dads, brothers and sisters to gun violence just so some can enjoy owning weapons of war? This November, I hope we send a clear message to our elected officials by voting for those who pledge to enact stricter protections from gun violence for us all. Aside from (or along with) reproductive freedom, it should be the top concern for voters come November. Film at eleven.



Speaking of apathy...

Those of us who pay close attention to politics and policy often operate under a false premise: that everybody is aware of what's going on, but only some of us really care. I guess that's not so much a "false" premise as it is one that is wanting in detail.

Case in point: Back on June 30th, I mentioned to one of my black female co-workers that it was a memorable day. Ketanji Brown Jackson became the first African-American woman to take a seat on the Supreme Court. When my co-worker asked, "When was this?", I realized she thought I was referring to some historical anniversary. She had no idea who I was talking about.

Over the next few days, I surreptitiously asked several other co-workers if they knew who Justice Jackson was (bringing up politics at work can be fraught with complications), and only about 30% were aware of this monumental development.

The truth is, a majority of the general public avoids the subject. They would rather not think (or learn) about government and politics, and frankly, I can't blame them. It's often depressing and infuriating, and even those of us who are steeped in it have to take a break and escape from it from time to time.

While it is tempting to look down our noses at these people and criticize them for moral and intellectual failure, that seldom produces the desired results, doesn't it? You can't shame people into caring. And efforts to do so frequently backfire; it merely reinforces their aversion to politics. They have to come to it on their own volition, and grasp the importance of combating regressive policies by taking an active role in our democracy.

But reaching and teaching the unwilling is supremely difficult, as I'm sure any educators reading this will attest. It's hard to be patient when our house of democracy is on fire. And trying to inform when there's so much mis- and dis-information out there makes the challenge even harder.

But nobody ever said it would be easy. If they did, they were lying.

Choose your words wisely. Don't waste your few opportunities to inform on hyperbole, memes that stretch the truth to the breaking point, or creating monsters with which to scare the villagers. There's enough of that going around already, draining our energy by being forced to refute them.

The truth is scary enough on its own, without any embellishments.