Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


PLAYGROUND ANTICS DON'T HELP RESOLVE REAL WORRIES ABOUT ELECTION CONDUCT: Their behavior has been erratic. In less than a month, they and other GOP leaders have: Demanded the Republican candidate Mark Harris be declared the winner; Supported a delay in certification of a winner pending a full investigation; Said the alleged improper activity tainted the Republican primary so there needed to be a full do-over and; Now, again, demanding Harris be certified the election winner. In a silly statement Hayes said if he didn’t get his way he wouldn’t play, refusing to allow ANY Republican to take part in the interim Elections Board Democrat Cooper was forming. He took to playground name-calling. While most rational folks would say the latest evidence suggests drawing any conclusion about the Ninth District election now is premature, Woodhouse threw a tantrum on CNN declaring that the state Board of Elections was looking to “take away an election victory earned by Mr. (Mark) Harris and the Republican Party at the ballot box.”

COOPER MOVES TO STOP SCHOOL RESEGREGATION: When Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the “technical corrections” bill before Christmas, he sent the General Assembly a spare three-sentence message. In doing so, he signaled that large issues lay behind the “technical” adjustments to previous legislation. “Ending storm-water and water quality protections threaten the safety of our communities,” the governor said. “Additionally, municipal charter schools set a dangerous precedent that could lead to taxpayer funded resegregation. Therefore, I veto the bill.” While someone with more knowledge of storm-water regulations can unpack the first sentence, I want to return to the second sentence to highlight its significance. In it, North Carolina’s highest statewide elected official acknowledged the threat posed by further separation of students along lines of race and income in the state’s schools. At issue in the legislation is a provision that permits employees of municipal charter schools to join the state’s health and retirement plans. That provision makes it easier for four suburban communities in Mecklenburg County to set up charter schools, almost certainly with a distinctly white-student enrollment.

LEGISLATIVE LEADERSHIP'S LEGACY IS BETRAYAL OF REFORMS, OPENNESS THEY PROMISED: Illegal gerrymandering, unconstitutional laws, manipulating basic government functions, undercutting state agencies and those responsible for carrying out the law, playing partisan political games. Since January 2011 those have been the order of the day for the General Assembly in ways that have few companions in our state’s history – and certainly none worth emulating. Complying with the court shouldn’t be a tall order for a legislative leadership that recognizes its duty is to assure the government functions smoothly and meets the needs of the citizens they represent. But that’s not the way things have worked. North Carolinians have good reason to be angry. For decades Republicans promised if they had the opportunity to control things in the state legislature it would be different -- more open, greater opportunities for the rank-and-file to participate, less partisan obsession. The reality is that when the current GOP leadership captured a veto-proof majority, they ridiculed and ignored the reforms that had been so fervently touted years earlier.

NC LAWMAKERS MUST ADDRESS RIVER POLLUTION PROBLEMS: The problem isn’t just GenX, a chemical used in the manufacture of nonstick cookware coatings, stainproof carpets and fabrics, waterproof clothing, firefighting foam and other applications. It’s about a whole family of chemicals known as polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. The compounds are widely used in many manufacturing processes and across the country are found in the water supply of millions of people. There are no state or federal regulations banning their use or even denying companies from dumping them into rivers and other waterways with the rest of their waste streams. All we have are federal guidelines for levels that are considered safe, and many researchers say those limits are far too high for human safety. PFAS has been linked to some cancers and other health problems. In North Carolina, the story gets worse from there. There are also frequently unsafe levels of 1,4 dioxane in the Cape Fear. That chemical is used as a manufacturing solvent and in paint strippers, waxes, antifreeze, cosmetics, aircraft deicing fluids and other products and is a byproduct in the manufacturing of plastics and packaging. Dioxane can cause cancer and it’s in the water that comes out of our taps, because none of the water treatment plants along the river have the equipment to filter it out. The state knows some of the sources, in the Triad area, but it’s been unable to stop the pollution. Add to that the millions of gallons of human waste that spilled into the river from overloaded sewer plants during Hurricane Florence flooding, and the additional waste from flooded hog and poultry farms and we have some severe problems with water quality.

YOU CAN'T WALL OFF THE YEARNING FOR A BETTER LIFE: In Berlin, the answer was simple: the Soviet-controlled government of the German Democratic Republic was walling in Germans who wanted to emigrate in search of liberty and opportunity, offending almost everyone. Along our southern border the answer is equally simple: we would be walling out immigrants from who want to come here in search of the same., and offending almost everyone. Like the wall in Berlin, though, our wall is not built against an enemy; no one threatened to invade East Berlin just as no one is threatening to invade the United States. It would be built simply as a hindrance to people going where they want to go. Supporters can harumph about policy and illegal versus legal immigration as though they were somehow a fixed constant of the universe. But both are products of men that can be made and unmade, much as the rules that denied movement from one Berlin to the other were. What cannot be made, or unmade, is the desire of people to go where their lives will be better, and this willingness to uproot and begin again somewhere new is everything we claim makes America great. A wall athwart that ambition is a wall doomed to fail. Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, after all, that doesn’t want it there.


HARVEY M. RICHMOND: WE ALREADY BOUGHT THE LAND, WHY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT SELLING IT?: The Capital Group of the Sierra Club strongly supports retention of the South Wake Park Project (SWPP) property, purchased last summer by the Wake County Board of Commissioners, to provide a much needed park and open space in the south Wake area. It is our understanding that this park also has support of the mayors of Fuquay-Varina and Holly Springs, the Conservation Fund, and the Wake County Open Space and Parks Advisory Committees. We oppose selling this land a few months after it was bought by the Board of Commissioners. The SWPP offers numerous benefits to Wake County citizens as a park: 4.5 miles of walking trails, old growth trees, ponds and streams, scenic bluffs and wetlands and a variety of habitat. Without the Board of Commissioners’ quick action last summer, the 143 acre property would have been lost forever in this rapidly developing portion of our county. We encourage Wake County citizens to let the Wake County Commissioners know that you support preserving this already purchased property by e-mailing or calling them at 919-856-6160 before they meet January 7th to consider this issue.

KIM CARLYLE: TRUMP'S BORDER WALL IS COSTLY, IMPRACTICAL: Many of the ideas proposed by the current president are ill-advised, to say the least. But then, this stable genius pays little attention to any advice at all. Ranking high among his absurd, impractical and ill-considered notions is the southern border wall. Here are a few reasons: The topography — sand dunes, mountains, river beds, and flood plains — presents daunting construction and engineering challenges. Complex ecosystems and local human communities and economies would be severely disrupted. The remoteness of much of the border region would make construction a logistical nightmare; roads and infrastructure would be required to supply materials and support systems for workers. Acquiring the necessary property rights would be a formidable, if not impossible, challenge. A much better, much less expensive plan would be to have knowledgeable experts develop a fair and humane immigration policy and a technology-based border security strategy.

CHARLIE BOARD: NO QUID PRO QUO FROM TRUMP ON WALL: As the Trump shutdown plays out over the next few days here’s a way to determine whether he really wants his Wall or just prefers to have a political issue - watch to see if he offers anything of value to the other side. Last January, Democrats offered him the full $25 billion in wall funding in exchange for a DACA fix. Not only did he reject it, he refused to offer anything of substance in return. He ran on “the wall” in 2016 and American voters rejected him by 3 million votes. He tried to make 2018 all about his immigration policies, and the voters gave him the largest midterm crushing in 40 years. The wall is polling in the low 30’s. And as of next week, he will need to compromise to get through both the Senate and the House. Given all that he only gets his wall if he offers something major that the other side wants in return. Something like comprehensive immigration reform, for example. So far he has literally offered nothing. Zip. Until he does, we can all rest assured he’s not serious about his wall... He’s just posturing politically to his rabid base.



From the dark side

This week's loser is (once again) Michael Jacobs, for his incessant attacks on Liberal professors:

I recently spoke to the UNC College Republicans. Both of them.

Seriously, there is a robust group of students in Chapel Hill who are willing to be identified as non-progressives on what has become an overwhelmingly progressive campus. Though a majority of today’s college students believe (and are often being taught) that socialism is a superior economic model to capitalism, chances are that half of UNC students come from homes where at least one of their parents votes Republican.

He's either being clever or outright lying in his introductory paragraph here, and I'm not sure which one would be worse for a man who claims to be an educational professional. While it's possible that a majority of college students believe Democratic Socialism is the better economic model, that is not the same thing as "Socialism." It is actually an enlightened form of Capitalism, but that is really beside the point. The main point is Michael Jacobs just making shit up to buttress his argument, and that level of academic laziness alone should be enough for alumni and parents to demand his removal from Kenan-Flagler.

I asked the young Republicans if they ever felt that answering a test question or paper assignment honestly--rather than appealing to the political bias of their professor--would cause them to receive a lower grade. All but two out of about 40 students in attendance raised their hands.

And that is merely a form of confirmation bias, wherein a group of people (who perceive they have been) marginalized react in a way their savior wants them to. It would help to know how he prefaced that question, but their attendance alone tells part of that story. I'll set aside for now the statistical relevance (or lack of) in using 40 out of just under 30,000 to base an argument on, but see my above comment about academic laziness.

I knew the answer. My son was chairman of the UNC College Republicans 4 years ago, and the Phillips Exeter Republicans before that. I have had dozens of students, interns, teaching assistants, another son, and children of many friends tell me the same.

"Anecdotal evidence" is actually an oxymoron, because it really isn't evidence in the classic sense. And anecdotal references that don't even contain an anecdote (narrative that tells a story) are even worse. Now this is an anecdote:

I was recently chatting with a state senator and graduate of UNC, who relayed a story to me involving a close family friend. The girl was a freshman at Carolina this fall. She made a statement in an English class that reflected a conservative viewpoint, and the other students pounced on her in an attempt to shame her for not walking the progressive line. The teacher allowed the verbal abuse to go on unchecked for some time, to the point that the young woman called her parents in tears that night and pleaded to transfer to a school with a less hostile political culture.

But of course it's still far from being evidential in nature. Anonymity of your "source" is sometimes necessary, but it's also very easy to create a fictional scenario with a mystery person. Don't take my word for it; Conservatives refuse to believe any story broken by mainstream media that doesn't give them somebody to stalk and threaten.

But even more important information that is not revealed in the above "frightening tale," is just exactly what this female student said to elicit the reaction of her fellow classmates. Jacobs glosses that over with the ambiguous "Conservative viewpoint" description, but there's a distinct possibility her comment brushed against or wholly embraced racist or otherwise bigoted and reductive reasoning.

Why would I make such a leap and assume that? Because human nature. If the disagreement had been academic; related to Free Market misconceptions, the need for taxes, government overreach, or any number of other core Conservative beliefs, she would not have been reduced to tears and desperate for reassignment to a different school. That sort of behavior is a reaction to the realization that she had crossed a line that could not be re-crossed. That had permanently alienated her from the rest of her class, and would likely spread outside that classroom and plague her across campus. That's worth crying over, not some rarefied point about economics.

One of my top MBA students, who I would categorize as moderate, recently told me that she will no longer participate in class discussions that involve social or political issues for fear of being branded by the “progressive police.”

This is a disgrace; and antithetical to a classic “liberal” education whereby students are supposed to be taught critical thinking. Is there any wonder why so many North Carolina citizens, our legislature, and the Board of Governors are fed up with the political indoctrination occurring at taxpayer-funded educational institutions?

More anecdotes, more nebulous references to the volume of people who believe the same things the author does. Again, academic laziness.

Given today’s toxic political discourse, professors who teach classes that address social, religious or political topics should be required to honor a pledge to respect the viewpoint of all students, and to create an atmosphere where thought diversity is encouraged, not shamed or punished. Students should be informed of this ground rule, and there should be an accountability mechanism to report violations.

Lol! Yeah, your main point is (supposed to be) about freedom of speech on campus, but just like the idiots in the General Assembly, your solution is to punish those (in this case, professors) who would speak their minds. And you would give students the tools to do that. Weren't you Conservatives recently raising hell about college students being offended by "trigger" words?

That's enough fun for today. Make sure and read Chapters 12 & 13 of, "Zen and the Art of Deconstructing Mentally Challenged Conservatives." There won't be a test...