Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


"LAW AND ORDER" PRESIDENT PROTECTS LAWBREAKING AND RULE DODGING: Vigilantes contemplating gunning down protesters have no better friend than Trump. Just ask Kyle Rittenhouse – the semi-automatic gun-toting teen charged with murdering two protesters in Kenosha. Wisconsin. Trump offered a lame defense for Rittenhouse’s alleged actions while blanketly condemning of all protesters and the leaders of the cities they live in. Trump’s latest high-profile invitation to lawlessness this week sadly overshadowed the celebration of the designation of Wilmington as the nation’s first “World War II Heritage City.” He advised North Carolinians who vote by mail to also vote in person. For a guy who has been obsessively complaining, wrongly, that mail-in ballots were connected with rampant voter fraud, he popped off telling people to vote twice – the textbook definition of voter fraud.

I CARRIED THE MAIL. POSTMASTER GENERAL DEJOY SHOULD BE RETURNED TO SENDER: The USPS is an essential public service that employs 637,625 government workers. It was never intended to be profit making. If it were solely a business, this would not even be a political issue. Instead, there would be frantic pleas for a “too big to fail” bailout from Congress. And there would be no president threatening to issue executive orders to stop mail-in balloting, or admitting he denied USPS bailout funding to stop mail-in balloting that he thinks would defeat his reelection. A new CEO of this mail “business” would have been removed by now for creating chaos by delaying mail from processing plants and post offices, eliminating overtime, removing thousands of blue mail collection boxes, cutting postal retail hours and taking hundreds of mail-sorting machines out of service – all in the middle of a pandemic and right before national elections. The fact that DeJoy recently agreed to temporarily “suspend” these drastic measures, reveals the power of public outrage. But his determination to continue dismantling postal infrastructure and services after November elections is no less disturbing than before.

BOTCHED UNC REOPENINGS ARE NOT STUDENTS' FAULT: So how did this happen? How could a multi-billion-dollar system that serves and employs hundreds of thousands of people and directly impacts millions so badly miscalculate such a fundamental decision? To hear UNC System leaders and some individual campuses talk, the fault lies with irresponsible students who flouted public safety rules. After describing the efforts that went into planning for reopening, new UNC System President Peter Hans said, “(T)his hard work is being undermined by a very small number of students behaving irresponsibly off campus, which unfairly punishes the vast majority of their classmates who are following the rules.” First and foremost, such behavior was and is utterly predictable; system leaders had to have foreseen it. All the members of the UNC Board of Governors and the individual campus leaders were once 18- and 19-year-old college students with illusions of immortality. No doubt, many of them were members of fraternities and sororities who sought to mimic the antics celebrated in films like "Animal House" and "Revenge of the Nerds." It strains credulity to imagine that many of them didn’t engage in similarly “irresponsible” behavior that flaunted the rules of administrators 30, 40 or 50 years ago. And even if one sets aside the obvious foreseeability of large student parties and kids acting like kids, the simple fact is that rapid virus spread is almost always what occurs when you gather hundreds of individuals to live together in close quarters.

WE ARE ALL "LOSERS" IN TRUMP'S AMERICA: The Atlantic turned up with a horrifying scoop Thursday. Reporter Jeffrey Goldberg revealed that in 2018, President Trump refused to visit a French cemetery that served as the final resting place for Americans who died in World War II because he believed the men who gave their lives for their country, which is our country, were “losers” and “suckers.” My colleagues at The Post not only confirmed the account, but went on to report Trump deemed Americans who fought in Vietnam also “losers,” and used the same word to describe those captured by the Vietnamese who ended up as prisoners of war. Every time we think we’ve reached the bottom with Trump — how awful can one human being be? — we discover further depths to plumb. Trump has shown almost zero concern for the lives of so-called “essential” workers, people who are putting their lives at risk by reporting to jobs on a daily basis. Here’s one example: The Trump administration all but twiddled their thumbs as hospitals and nursing homes reported shortages of personal protective equipment, setting off a “Hunger Games”-like competition among states frantically attempting to get hold of needed supplies. Nor is Trump showing much concern over the fate of the people who are getting financially pummeled by the economic carnage caused by covid-19. When the $600-a-week federal unemployment supplement expired, Larry Kudlow, his chief economic adviser, joined Republicans in claiming the sum was so generous, it was keeping people from returning to the workforce. What links all of this: the insults to our fallen military, the constant attacks on worker rights and protections, and the carelessness of Trump’s handling of economic and workplace fallout from the covid-19 pandemic? In Trump’s America, there is only room for one winner, and that’s Donald Trump.

TRUMP, OUR FALLEN SOLDIERS ARE NOT "LOSERS" OR "SUCKERS": I had tried to shield Jordan from this news, which broke in The Atlantic on Thursday, while working through my own anger and pain — sensations so palpable that I became nauseated and short of breath. I thought, too, about all the other Gold Star families who must be confused and hurt by even the possibility that the president had made those insulting and incendiary remarks. But then my son had popped into my room before I could grab the remote control and turn off the television. By the next morning, when Jordan brought up Trump again, it became clear how distressed he was. “He shouldn’t say that,” Jordan said. “My dad was a hero.” The statement almost sounded like a question, and my anger boiled over. Even so, I told Jordan that the president had denied making the remarks. He looked at me like I was trying to sell him a bag of air. It is hard enough for Gold Star children to heal from the wound of losing a parent. Never should they have to endure the pain of anyone picking at the scar that eventually forms over it. I can only speak for my boy and myself, and certainly not for other military families, but here is what I would advise President Trump: Go on television immediately, from the Oval Office, and speak directly to these Gold Star children. If you want, deny that you said those awful things. But tell them you are sorry anyway. Say that no child should ever think that the commander in chief would utter such hurtful lies. Tell them that their mom or dad — or anyone who has made the ultimate sacrifice — is more of a hero than you will ever be. Humble yourself. (Unfortunately, that is impossible for the Narcissist-In-Chief)


RUTH SCOTT: CONGRESS NEEDS TO PASS RENTAL ASSISTANCE, OR FACE WAVE OF HOMELESSNESS: It is welcome news that the CDC has ordered a moratorium on evictions through Dec. 31. This should stave off mass evictions in the short term. Unfortunately, it is not enough to evade the long-term risks of COVID-19 inspired health and economic ruins. Emergency rental assistance is still needed to help renters avoid an eviction “cliff” when this relief expires. It’s also needed to help small landlords who still face bills. Economist Mark Zandi says tenants already owe “nearly $25 billion in back rent, which could reach $69.8 billion” by year’s end. It is imperative that N.C. Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis tell leadership to resume negotiations with the House and White House and enact a robust COVID-19 deal that includes $100 billion in emergency rental assistance.

WALTER WEATHERS: TRUMP'S CONTEMPT FOR "ESSENTIAL WORKERS" COMES THROUGH LOUD AND CLEAR: President Trump suggested that Joe Biden as president would destroy the suburbs by bringing in low-income housing. According to the president, that would mean lots of crime and violence which would destroy the suburban “American Dream.” I find it ironic that many of these low-income people he finds such a threat are the same ones he declared essential workers. In April, meat processing plant workers were forced to stay on the job. Many were sickened and some died due to COVID-19. Most are low-income minorities, black and Hispanic. Likewise, agricultural workers and nursing home aids, most of whom are low-income minorities, were deemed essential. So in the presidents’ world it is quite OK for low-income minority people to risk their health and lives so suburbanites can have all the food they want and their health care needs met. But it is not OK for these people to populate the suburbs. Furthermore, the president and his party refuse to raise the minimum wage so these essential workers can have a decent quality of life.

CAROLE KATZ: BURR WANTS A "PROFITABLE" POSTAL SERVICE: I sent an email to Sen. Richard Burr urging his support for the post office. I got back a letter expressing his support for a profitable post office. The postal service is a service. Sure, financial sustainability is what we all hope for, but the Constitution does not call for the post office to be profitable. Like the military, it is a service for U.S. citizens. But what really irked me was that Burr’s reply was sent via U.S. mail at taxpayer cost (including postage, envelope, stationary, etc.) on a system that is already taxed due to removal of sorting machines and mail boxes — at a time when I am hoping to get my absentee ballot. Someone in his office couldn’t send me an online reply? What’s Burr really telling voters?



Washington Post: DeJoy accused of campaign finance violations

The Washington Post has a story today outlining charges that Trump Postmaster DeJoy forced his employees to make personal contributions to Republican campaigns, then used bonuses to pay back the employees.

This is illegal, since it's a scheme that works around contribution limits to campaigns and obscures the source of the funding.

Among those making the charges are a former human resources official with access to payroll records.

“Two other employees familiar with New Breed’s financial and payroll systems said DeJoy would instruct that bonus payments to staffers be boosted to help defray the cost of their contributions, an arrangement that would be unlawful."

The Post's reporters did an analysis and discovered some patterns:

[The Post] ”found a pattern of extensive donations by New Breed employees to Republican candidates, with the same amount often given by multiple people on the same day. Between 2000 and 2014, 124 individuals who worked for the company together gave more than $1 million to federal and state GOP candidates. Many had not previously made political donations, and have not made any since leaving the company, public records show. During the same period, nine employees gave a combined $700 to Democrats.”

Note that these contributions included North Carolina state GOP campaigns.