Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


WORK TOGETHER TO MEET STATE'S CRITICAL 2020 HEALTH NEEDS: In 2019, the state watched as labor and delivery services closed in neighboring rural communities. This is tragic. No mother should have to worry about how she is going to get care or where she will deliver her baby. We see hospitals in rural parts of the country continuing to close their doors and North Carolina is not immune. This continues to be a crisis and we must do better. For eastern North Carolina, expanding Medicaid, designing a reasonable solution to resolve State Health Plan liabilities and funding a new Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University must be a priority for the state. Expanding Medicaid will improve access to care, something we desperately need not only in the East, but also throughout the state. North Carolinians are subsidizing care in 37 other states that have expanded Medicaid while too many North Carolinians struggle.

AS THE 2020 VOTE APPROACHES, REMEMBER THE IMPACT OF 2010 ELECTION: In 2011, Republicans passed what are generally considered the most gerrymandered redistricting maps in the nation. The maps helped elect a veto-proof Republican legislative majority in 2012. The election of Republican Pat McCrory as governor sealed GOP control. Republican actions since the 2010 vote have divided the state and drawn embarrassing national attention: a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage (the last such amendment in the nation and since ruled unconstitutional); the HB2 law targeting transgender people battered the state’s image and its economy; the elimination of a progressive income tax and passing of tax cuts favoring big corporations and the wealthy that cost the state $3.5 billion annually in lost revenue; years of inadequate school funding that triggered massive protest marches by teachers; the mismanagement of the UNC Board of Governors by members appointed solely for their political loyalty; the cruel refusal to expand Medicaid that has left hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians without medical insurance; and a run of court cases in which the legislature’s laws have been found to be unconstitutional.

JUDGE OFFERS NC A CHANCE TO GET VOTER ID LAW RIGHT: No one should have a problem with appropriately requiring, through use of photo identification, a person who shows up to vote is the same person that met the strict test to register. Requiring that person to do any more, such as making the types of photo identification so limited as to render it difficult to impossible for significant blocks of voters, isn’t about assuring a fair vote but imposing discrimination. All those who favor fair elections and support a reasonable requirement for photo identification at the polling place, should welcome Judge Bigg’s injunction. They should commit to work with the court to make sure North Carolina acts to assure fair elections and not concoct a scheme to deny blocks of voters of their most basic right in a representative government.

WAKE UP REPUBLICANS, YOUR PARTY STANDS FOR ALL THE WRONG THINGS NOW: In a long-forgotten era — say, four years ago — such a question would have elicited a very different answer. Though there was disagreement over specific issues, most Republicans would have said the party stood for some basic principles: fiscal sanity, free trade, strong on Russia, and that character and personal responsibility count. Today it’s not that the Republican Party has forgotten these issues and values; instead, it actively opposes all of them. Republicans are now officially the character-doesn’t-count party, the personal-responsibility-just-proves-you-have-failed-to-blame-the-other-guy party, the deficit-doesn’t-matter party, the Russia-is-our-ally party, and the I’m-right-and-you-are-human-scum party. Yes, it’s President Trump’s party now, but it stands only for what he has just tweeted. A party without a governing theory, a higher purpose or a clear moral direction is nothing more than a cartel, a syndicate that exists only to advance itself. There is no organized, coherent purpose other than the acquisition and maintenance of power.

AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY IS BROKEN. SULEIMANI'S KILLING PROVES IT: The National Security Council would have undoubtedly asked the intelligence community for a detailed assessment of Iran’s possible responses to the strike. Analysts would have underscored the inevitability of lethal attacks on Americans and American interests: terrorist attacks on embassies or other civilian or military facilities in the Middle East and farther afield, military escalation on the ground in Syria or Iraq, cyberattacks, the closing of the Strait of Hormuz, Hezbollah attacks on Israel, further operations targeting Gulf States’ oil infrastructure, and accelerating movement toward nuclear breakout. Drilling deeper, intelligence analysts could have stressed the possibility that the strike on General Suleimani might encourage a new strain of transnational terrorism. While acknowledging that the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy in the Middle East, has largely resisted venturing outside the Middle East for the past 25 years, they would have stressed that it is considered the most capable nonstate armed group in the world, the A Team to Al Qaeda’s B Team — a force that was shaped and nurtured by General Suleimani himself.


SCOTT NEIDICH: DEAN ARP IS HOLDING BACK SOLAR REBATES: As a final hurrah for 2019, Duke Energy confirmed that I will not be receiving the expected $4,760 rebate after spending more than $20,000 on a solar project for my home. And that there are dozens of North Carolinians in an identical situation. How did so many of us get here? Look no further than Rep. Dean Arp, co-chairman of the Energy and Public Utilities committee. I wrote and called Arp, spoke with his assistants, and made many efforts to ensure he knew this problem was coming to dozens of North Carolinians. He never brought bills up for consideration that could have fixed the problem (like HB 889) — despite the support of his co-chair, John Szoka. Solar energy is good for the energy grid, the planet, and for North Carolina. But as long as this legislation goes unfixed, don’t plan on any Duke Energy incentives to help make it good for your wallet.

VIRGINIA KNOWLTON MARCUS: WE NEED TO TAKE BETTER CARE OF OUR DISABLED CITIZENS: The N&O touched on an urgent issue in “NC families struggle to find housing for adults with disabilities” (Dec. 27). These families are caught in a system that is failing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. North Carolina has been moving in the wrong direction in recent years. More individuals are being institutionalized because they do not receive the support they need to stay at home. This damages their quality of life and violates federal law. In Olmstead v. L.C. the Supreme Court held that states may not require people with disabilities to enter institutions if they could be supported at home. It is not a question of cost; it’s vastly more expensive to institutionalize someone than to provide support at home. Rather, the service delivery system is broken, with too few providers and a focus on short-term cost cutting. This article showed the human consequences, from perpetual crises, to family upheaval, to institutionalization.

WILLIAM DAVID AUSTIN: CHERIE BERRY'S TENURE AS LABOR SECRETARY IS SHAMEFUL: Regarding “After workers die, North Carolina shields many employers from biggest penalties,” (Dec. 22) Thank goodness the N&O still has the resources to research and expose the needless deaths in N.C. workplaces that have been caused, in part, by the policies of feckless N.C. Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry. Reading the story of Dalin Adrong’s unnecessary and horrible death was heartbreaking, and the analysis of the N.C. Labor Department’s reaction sickening. A safety device that would have saved Dalin “had been inoperable for three months, had failed repeatedly over the years and (had been the subject of) a serious violation in 2012.” Contributions to Berry’s re-election campaigns by cost-cutting businesses have kept her in office for an agonizing 20 years. In return, North Carolina gets the slap-on-the-wrist-for-violations policies that constitute Berry’s “partnership with business” — yet are sometimes deadly for N.C. workers



From the dark side

This week's losers are the letter writers who use strained logic, like Barbara Hege:

In Eugene Robinson’s article (Dec. 30), he wonders how a Christian could vote for Donald Trump. We wonder how a Christian can vote for a liberal Democrat, who supports abortion, homosexuality, same sex marriage, etc., as all of these are in direct opposition to God’s Word.

President Trump supports none of these. He supports our constitutional right to obey God. Liberal Democrats and judges do not, as seen in court rulings where Christian businesses are sued for not participating in these sins.

We actually have a Constitutional right to not have religious doctrine forced on us, which is what this writer really wants. As far as the courts and those "Christian businesses," to date the courts have sided with them more than they have opposed them, which has set a really bad precedent. As far as Trump and abortion is concerned, someone who would pay six figures to silence a mistress would also have no compunction paying her to have an abortion.

Here's a little casual ignorance from Sam Howe:

Once again the NAACP has filed suit to stop the new North Carolina voter ID law. Over and over the NAACP has told us that black people in the United States are not as capable of attaining voter identification as white people. What a complete slap in the face of our black citizens.

Somehow, according to the NAACP, this law is “discriminatory” toward black citizens. Why? Would someone please explain why this would be true. You know, we are not still living in the 1950s or ’60s, people!

Judge Loretta Biggs has wonderful credentials and has had a great career. Congratulations to her for her achievements She is a black woman, and an Obama appointee. Apparently, she also agrees with the NAACP that this law is biased, but if the law applies to all citizens — black, white, Asian or otherwise — how can it be biased?

I hope that someday a black judge will say with great indignation, “Enough! People of my color are just as capable as anyone else to get a simple voter ID.” Then we will know that we have turned a very critical corner in our society.

Unlike the writer above, many activists and leaders have actually looked at the stats, the relatively small population that do not have a government-issued photo ID. They are by and large elderly, extremely poor, and (wait for it) a disproportionate number of African-Americans. Most have never owned a car or had access to one, so they don't have a driver's license. And many of the elderly in this subset do not have access to a birth certificate, so obtaining even a free ID is nearly impossible.

Here's a real head-scratcher from Lee Stem:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi knew beforehand that the GOP is in control of the Senate and went ahead on impeachment. And now she is holding it up. This proves incompetence.

Um, what? Seriously, what? Are you upset she took the vote, or that she hasn't given it to the Senate yet? You know what, never mind. My brain is starting to atrophy just reading that nonsense...

I'll finish up with this jewel from Joseph Rothengast:

Again, the liberals in the court system are obstructing the choice of the people. Voter ID should be very simple. Everyone needs a picture ID to get medical coverage, a bank account, entrance to certain buildings, airline travel, and many other daily activities.

While we are fighting other countries trying to change our votes we should be aware of attacks by biased groups trying to help their candidate(s) in local, state and national elections.

Many have died to give us the freedom to vote and it is a sin that we cannot verify one vote per person. To make it a racial issue is a fallacy and a poor argument against having voter ID.

Actually, here's the fallacy: Groups opposing Voter ID are not trying to push candidates, they are trying to make sure every person who wants to vote can do so. That is a core principle laid out in our Constitution, and it is currently under attack by people who believe in conspiracies that don't exist. Snipe hunters, if you will, who have been deceived by GOP operatives who would impose Jim Crow laws again if they could.