Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


NC SHOWS TRUMP GETS IT ALL WRONG ON VOTER FRAUD: Midterm election update from the Department of Irony: Republicans have been warning us about the danger of voter fraud for ages. And now it does appear that a major congressional race was impacted by that very type of evil-doing. Feel free to chortle/snort/howl at the moon when I tell you the accused fraudsters are Republicans. The fictional version of voter fraud involves sinister characters — possibly illegal immigrants! — showing up at the polls repeatedly, perhaps disguising their nefarious intent by wearing different hats or an occasional false mustache. “In many places, like California, the same person votes many times ... Millions and millions of people,” said Donald Trump. He’s been running on this theme since he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton. We will not even bother to envision what Election Day would look like if millions and millions of extra voters were standing in line.

THE REAL ACT OF VANDALISM? THE NC LAW THAT LIMITS THE OPTIONS ON SILENT SAM: A 21st century history, no matter how thoroughly contextualized, cannot properly “honor” Confederate traitors to the United States who fought to defend a social system rooted in chattel slavery. Seen through the lens of history, the Confederate statue is already beyond redemption. Repositioning the statue in a place of prominence and honor offends historical judgment, violates the university’s values, and shows contempt for all persons of color. The statue creates a hostile environment in which to study and work. It must go. Instead of hiding behind the law while doing the political bidding of the BOG, the chancellor should have seized this opportunity to protest a law that is itself a tool of white supremacy. The 2015 statute that prevents the relocation of objects of remembrance was discussed in the N.C. House after Dylann Roof’s massacre of black worshippers at a Charleston church; that violent manifestation of white supremacy inspired a wave of monument removals and protests across the south. With NC GS 100-2.1 our legislature sent a clear message: keep your hands off North Carolina’s Confederate monuments. Enshrining that message into North Carolina law was the real act of vandalism that now requires repair.

GOVERNOR'S CLEAN ENERGY AND CLIMATE PLAN KEY TO NC'S ECONOMIC SUCCESS: Cooper’s executive order sets a positive example and a strong precedent for protecting North Carolina’s environment while growing the economy. By setting targets to reduce statewide greenhouse emissions 40 percent by 2025 and increase the number of registered zero-emission vehicles to at least 80,000 by 2025, North Carolina can take necessary steps required to transition to a low-carbon economy. The governor has also directed state agencies to reduce energy consumption in state-owned buildings by 40 percent by 2025, ensuring that tax dollars go further and that our public buildings are better prepared for more intense storms. We encourage state lawmakers and regulators to heed the goals and initiatives that Cooper laid out in his executive order. Strong policies and programs will spur new investments and accelerate the state’s transition to a clean energy economy. We look forward to working with the governor and the North Carolina business community to make this vision a reality. It is critical for North Carolina’s economic success.

ROB SCHOFIELD: AN EMBARRASSING DISPLAY OF ELECTION DISHONESTY: At some point, you would think the embarrassment factor would kick in for North Carolina Republican leaders. Someday. Maybe. But not yet. For years, of course, the GOP has pushed restrictive voter ID proposals for in-person voting even though evidence of fraud in such situations is all but non-existent. As Bob Phillips of Common Cause recently pointed out in an interview with NC Policy Watch, there was exactly one conviction in North Carolina in the aftermath of the 2016 election for such activity; it involved a woman who tried to vote as her mother … for Donald Trump. One might still cut the GOP at least a little slack if it had demonstrated a genuine, across-the-board commitment to rooting out all forms of fraud and misconduct that might conceivably taint North Carolina elections. Sadly, but predictably, however, no such demonstration has been made. Indeed, it’s become clear in recent days that Republican leaders are ignoring serious allegations of genuine voter fraud in the recent election in the state’s 9th Congressional District. The bottom line: If Republicans really care about voter fraud and not just suppressing certain groups of voters, they will get on board with the 9th District investigation right away. Anything else is blatant and embarrassing hypocrisy of the highest order.

YOUR TAX DOLLARS HELP TO STARVE CHILDREN: When people hear an airplane today in much of Yemen, they flinch and wonder if they are about to be bombed, and I had interviews interrupted by automatic weapons fire overhead. After witnessing the human toll and interviewing officials on both sides, including the president of the Houthi rebels who control much of Yemen, I find the American and Saudi role in this conflict to be unconscionable. The Houthis are repressive and untrustworthy, but this is not a reason to bomb and starve Yemeni children. What is most infuriating is that the hunger is caused not by drought or extreme weather, but by cynical and failed policies in Riyadh and Washington. The starvation does not seem to be an accidental byproduct of war, but rather a weapon in it. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, backed by the United States, are trying to inflict pain to gain leverage over and destabilize the Houthi rebels. The reason: The Houthis are allied with Iran. The governments of Saudi Arabia and the United States don’t want you to see pictures like Yaqoob’s or reflect on the suffering in Yemen. The Saudis impose a partial blockade on Houthi areas, banning commercial flights and barring journalists from special United Nations planes there.


CHARLIE BOARD: WE SHOULDN'T HONOR THE CONFEDERATES' TREASON: On June 17, 2015, an armed terrorist murdered nine black worshipers at a church in Charleston, S.C. His stated aim was to incite a race war. While the legislatures in South Carolina and other states took immediate actions to relieve racial tensions, the good ole boys in the N.C. GOP decided to take a different tack. They instead passed a bizarre law protecting monuments erected to white supremacy and segregation. Now here we are three years later, and as a result of that bizarre law UNC-Chapel Hill is proposing to erect a new building to honor people who waged war against the United States of America. Taxpayer money to honor outright treason. In 2019. You can’t make this stuff up. Sadly. But it’s important to remember how we got here.

JENNIFER ANGYAL: BILL COULD REDUCE CARBON, ADD TO YOUR POCKET: By putting a price on carbon emissions, The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act could help cut U.S. carbon pollution by 40 percent in 10 years. The Act would levy a starting fee of $15 per metric ton of carbon dioxide; the fee would increase by $10 each calendar year until emissions standards are met. Where would all that money go? Into your pocket! The bill would set up a Carbon Dividend Trust Fund, with 100 percent of the net revenue from carbon fees going back to American citizens and legal residents. The goal of the bill is to “encourage market-driven innovation of clean energy technologies and market efficiencies which will reduce harmful pollution and leave a healthier, more stable, and more prosperous nation for future generations.” This could deliver major economic and health benefits: 2.1 million net new jobs by the 10th year; 13,000 fewer pollution-related U.S. deaths annually; and, by 2050, a 90-percent reduction in carbon emissions from 2015 levels. You can learn more about the bill and its potential impact at . Please consider writing to your representative in Congress to express your support for this important and beneficial legislation. (You can find out who represents you and how to contact them here: ) Climate change is real and poses a real threat, but we can combat it by working together.

REBECCA DROHAN: SEISMIC BLASTING MAY DO MORE HARM THAN THE DRILLING ITSELF: There is staunch opposition to offshore drilling. However, the same vigor and urgency does not seem to be applied to seismic blasting (“Trump paves way for air guns to search for Atlantic oil,” Nov. 30). An environmental assessment from the National Marine Fisheries Service outlines incidental impacts to marine mammals from air guns used in blasting. These impacts have the potential to cause harm through direct injury as well as disruption of behaviors such as migration, breeding, feeding, and even breathing. This assessment only accounts for marine mammals. What about prey and commercially important species? These permits willfully refuse to examine the totality of destruction caused by blasting. With coastal opposition growing stronger, and global attitudes towards fossil fuel expenditure shifting, seismic blasting is at best shortsighted.



From the dark side

J. Peder Zane once more claims his crown as the king of racist jackasses:

The Rev. William Barber II has a genius for issuing ugly, inflammatory statements that make situations worse.

He was at it again when he described the detention of an illegal immigrant who has exhausted his appeals as an “evil” comparable to slavery. “Our brothers and sisters from Mexico,” he said, “should not be treated like black people were during slavery by the slave patrol which would then snatch them up.”

I’m sure Rev. Barber knows that enslaved people had no legal recourse while Samuel Octavio-Butler has been granted numerous opportunities to argue his case since he tried to enter the country with fraudulent papers in 2014. I’d also bet Rev. Barber believes that President Trump’s rhetoric regarding illegal immigrants has made it harder to address this difficult issue.

Nothing can cure a racist of his writer's block quicker than an appearance of (Bishop) William Barber. It gets under his lily-white skin and drives him crazy until he can concoct an innuendo-laced diatribe and release his inner demons.

In fact, Barber's analogy is spot-on. Those slave patrols had two major goals. In addition to the obvious (capture), the more important goal was to send a message to other slaves that escape was pointless, and would eventually lead to even more punishment. ICE didn't work so hard to get Samuel because he was a danger; it did so because people were helping him, providing sanctuary. And those people had a lesson to learn, too.

It’s time we stand up, step back and focus on the basic choice we must make: whether we should ease restrict or immigration policies.

A growing group, especially on the left, believes we should ease restrictions. They support sanctuary cities, an end to most deportations, citizenship for undocumented people already here and asylum laws that would cover people hoping to escape poverty – which might be half the world. When U.S. Reps. David Price and G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina denounced Octavio-Butler’s detention, they were suggesting that our current laws should not be enforced.

What Zane fails to mention is that both Price and Butterfield, along with their Democratic colleagues, have been trying to address and improve our current laws, only to be obstructed by xenophobic conservatives like the author. Breaking up families like Octavio-Butler's, or keeping them separated like refusing to allow Hania Aguilar's father from attending his 13 year-old daughter's funeral after she was brutally raped and murdered here in the land of plenty, are not laws that we should uphold. Period.

I reject that globalist view because I am a nationalist — I believe we should put the needs of Americans first. Unfettered immigration will hurt us because the vast majority of newcomers would be poorly educated, low-skilled workers who are a drain on society.

A 2013 study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that the average migrant with less than a high school education would cost $115,000 over a 75-year period. If their descendants don’t graduate college, and only 6.2 percent do now, they, too, will be a fiscal burden. College-educated immigrants, by contrast, are net contributors.

The downside of low-skilled immigration will only intensify as automation reduces their opportunity for work; our national debt will only grow as this, in turn, intensifies calls for more government spending.

As usual, Zane has very little idea what he's talking about. As some readers know, I was a factory manager for over 20 years. We employed both high-tech automation processes and old-fashioned manual assembly production lines.

Over the years, I've monitored the work habits and productivity of hundreds of employees, both immigrant and native-born. Aside from the language barrier that sometimes made things difficult, Hispanic immigrant workers adapted quickly to each new job, showed up for work on time, every single day, and worked hard, paying attention to detail, for the entire day. I can't say the same thing for many of my native-born American workers.

But on top of that dependability, there was something else that I didn't expect: Hispanic workers were dynamic, and re-organized themselves into the most efficient and productive system at their means. One of my (American) supervisors quipped, "Well it's just common sense, really." To which I responded, "Then why didn't you think of it?"

That type of organic improvement to existing processes is evidence of higher-level cognition; the ability to recognize problems others don't see, and develop solutions for them. If that's what J. Peder Zane considers a "burden" on our society, then we need more of that burden.