Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


TRUMP'S SPIN ONLY PROMOTES COVID 19'S DEADLY SPREAD: Against all reason, evidence and even concern for the safety and health of Americans, President Donald Trump and his White House echo chamber continue to treat the COVID-19 pandemic as a political problem and not a life-and-death global crisis. While Trump’s public relations operations release mission accomplished statements concerning ending the pandemic, numbers of COVID-19 infected and dead Americans continues to expand – and at an increasing rate (8.8 million cases and 226,000 deaths nationwide; 264,000 cases in North Carolina and 4,236 deaths). To anyone listening to the comments spreading virally from Trump and the White House in the last few days, it is hard to tell if they’re declaring victory, announcing “mission accomplished” or simply accepting surrender. “We’re rounding the turn, we’re doing great. Our numbers are incredible,” Trump said during his appearance last Saturday in Lumberton.

VOTERS NEED TO BLOW THE WHISTLE ON NC REPUBLICANS: After 10 years of far-right rule without willingness to negotiate with Democratic colleagues, our Republican General Assembly can defined by: Reckless corporate giveaways leading to underfunded schools that are hemorrhaging teachers to surrounding states including South Carolina; A voter suppression scandal based on racial gerrymandering and voter ID laws with racial intent deemed by the Supreme Court to be designed with “surgical precision”; HB2, a discriminatory law that destroyed the state’s reputation and business prospects while it was in play; Rising income and wealth inequality throughout the state exacerbated by tax policy even before COVID-19; One of the nation’s worst healthcare situations due to a partisan unwillingness to expand Medicaid, even with a global pandemic hitting our state. North Carolina desperately needs expanded healthcare, increased school funding for safe re-entry, worker support, and leaders who don’t suppress democracy. Phil Berger’s decade of GOP rule has shown that’s not his agenda or his party’s.

EVEN IN DARK TIMES, COOPER, FELLOW GOVERNORS SEIZE A BRIGHTER FUTURE: The three-state agreement on offshore wind energy development – a framework for North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland to work together to advance projects – is about the future. It is looking ahead years and decades from now. It is refreshing that the three governors, two Democrats and a Republican, recognize that mutual interest and opportunity overshadows immediate partisanship even in the midst of one of the most highly charged election seasons in memory. They recognize that the time is now to have a framework of cooperation for offshore wind projects that could yield 86,000 jobs, $57 billion in investment and provide $25 billion in economic output over the next decade. Further, it will diversify the sources of electric production in the region – making the three states less dependent on any single resource and thus in a better position to deal with changes that may come in the resources available to generate power. Recent surveys confirm what has been evident for the last 20 years. North Carolina offshore wind potential is among the best on the Atlantic coast. It is a resource we need to harness.

WHY ARE REPUBLICANS SO AFRAID OF VOTERS? This year, in the face of the unprecedented hurdles to voting introduced by the coronavirus pandemic, Republicans are battling from coast to coast to ensure that casting a ballot is as hard as it can be. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott mandated a single ballot drop-box per county — including the increasingly Democratic Harris County, population 4.7 million. Republican lawmakers there are also suing to throw out more than 100,000 ballots cast by Harris County voters from their cars, at drive-through sites. In Nevada, the Trump campaign and the state Republican Party have sued to stop counting mail-in ballots until observers can more closely monitor the signature-matching process. In Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Wisconsin, Republicans have fought to prevent the counting of all mail-in ballots that arrive after Election Day, even if they are postmarked on or before Nov. 3. This all amounts to “a concerted national Republican effort across the country in every one of the states that has had a legal battle to make it harder for citizens to vote,” said Trevor Potter, a Republican lawyer who formerly led the Federal Election Commission and worked on both of John McCain’s presidential campaigns. The effort has been turbocharged by President Trump, who has spent the past year falsely attacking the integrity of mail-in ballots. Mr. Trump’s lies have been echoed by the attorney general, William Barr, who has claimed that mail balloting is associated with “substantial fraud.” Not remotely true. Mr. Trump’s own handpicked F.B.I. director, Christopher Wray, has said there is no evidence of any coordinated voter-fraud effort. That hasn’t stopped Republicans from alleging that it happens all the time. When that tactic fails, Republicans turn to another tried-and-true one: voter intimidation. Frightening people, particularly Black people, away from the ballot box has a long history in the United States. Modern Republicans have done it so consistently that in 1982 a federal court barred the national party from engaging in any so-called anti-voter-fraud operations. The ban was renewed again and again over the decades, because Republicans kept violating it. In 2018, however, it expired, meaning that 2020 is the first election in which Republicans can intimidate with abandon.

WHAT AMERICA WOULD BE LIKE UNDER A PRESIDENT BIDEN: Some changes would be immediate. Mr. Biden would begin his term by restoring competence to the federal government’s senior ranks. Over his decades of political experience, the former vice president has surrounded himself with some of Washington’s most capable hands. Some, such as possible Biden White House chief of staff (and occasional Post contributor) Ronald A. Klain, boast Washington résumés almost as long as Mr. Biden’s. Others, such as vice-presidential candidate Kamala D. Harris, are relative newcomers. The common attribute is a record of accomplishment in public service. It is a substantial bonus that Ms. Harris would also be the first woman and first person of color to serve as vice president. Her selection, after a sometimes tumultuous primary campaign, shows that Mr. Biden does not hold counterproductive grudges when seeking talent for top positions. Upon taking office, Mr. Biden would quickly halt some of Mr. Trump’s most severe depredations: the breakneck shredding of environmental regulations; the systematic effort to undermine Obamacare in federal agencies and in court; the constant pressure on the Justice Department to prosecute Mr. Trump’s political enemies on bogus charges, while pardoning the criminal acts of his friends. Mr. Biden would rejoin international organizations and agreements that Mr. Trump renounced, such as the World Health Organization and the Paris climate accord, and he would restore executive-branch protections to “dreamers,” the undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children. The project of racial healing would long outlast Mr. Biden’s term, because it will take culture change as well as policy reform. But, among other things, he would unleash the Justice Department to once again demand change from deficient police departments; focus on crime prevention rather than incarceration by diverting people with substance abuse or mental health problems into treatment; and collect better crime data so states can develop evidence-based alternatives to warehousing generations of human beings. On foreign affairs, Mr. Biden would put the United States back on the side of the good guys: traditional allies who cherish freedom and democracy. Mr. Trump has courted and supported dictators and strongmen across the world. Mr. Biden would call a summit of the world’s democracies to regroup and promote basic liberal values, because having more unfree countries in the world is both a moral and a security threat to the United States.


DR. STEPHANIE JOHANNES: WE NEED TO ELECT CLIMATE LEADERS: As a pediatrician, I am called on to educate my patients and their families about health risks. We are already seeing health impacts of climate change in North Carolina. Dangerous heat days lead to heat stroke and dehydration. Worse pollen seasons trigger life-threatening asthma flares. Hurricane and flood relief efforts divert money from essential health services. Black and Latinx people are hit hardest by climate change, compounding racial injustice. Our health transcends politics. As a doctor, I can treat disease, but I can’t prevent the health harms of the climate crisis without help. Vote for leaders who support a rapid transition to clean energy to protect the health of all our citizens.

JOE BURTON: IT'S TIME WE DISMANTLED ALL NUCLEAR WEAPONS: The United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will become international law in 90 days. It prohibits nations from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, or allowing nuclear weapons to be stationed on their territory. This is a perfect opportunity for the United States to begin dismantling its arsenal of 4,000 plus nuclear weapons. If the weapons are dismantled, $1.7 trillion being used by the Pentagon to modernize nuclear weapons can be diverted to fund life-giving projects: infrastructure repair, education of young people, healthcare for all, and green energy to stop an increase in global warming.

BILL BLANCATO: FORGET THE AFFAIRS, FOCUS ON ISSUES: Cal Cunningham’s extramarital affair, like President Trump’s dalliance with Stormy Daniels, has no impact on me or my family. On the other hand, the failure by Sen. Thom Tillis and his Republican colleagues in the Senate to address real issues like our dysfunctional health care system, the threat posed by COVID-19 and the threat to our environment and economy caused by climate change do impact me and my family. Unlike Thom Tillis, Cal Cunningham will work to fix our broken health care system and will support legislation to transition to a clean energy economy which will create good jobs throughout the state, in rural areas and cities. We cannot afford four more years of kicking the can down the road on these issues. It is time to elect a senator like Cal Cunningham who will work to improve the lives of North Carolina’s families.



The scourge of minority rule

Probably the best 21st Century example of minority rule is the U.S. Senate itself. Seats are allocated via geography instead of demographics, giving a smaller population undue influence over Congressional actions. And the Senators from those red states are (far) less likely to buck their party apparatus and wealthy industrialists for fear of being Primaried out of that seat.

But the seeds of minority rule are ancient. It is a formula that can be found as far back as records will take us, Hammurabi being a prime example. Had his enemies been able to unify against him, he would have been crushed. But instead, he ended up controlling a vast empire.

But that empire pales when you consider Rome. At it's peak expansion, about 250,000 citizen inhabitants of Rome controlled some 65 million other citizens and subjects, dominated by a much smaller elite.

Fast-forward to European Colonialism, and minority rule in client nations becomes the preferred method. They did not "accidentally" draw borders to split up ethnic and tribal population groups, it was intentional. And more often than not, those European masters vested (albeit limited) control of their colonies to minority populations. Why? Because that cemented those leaders' fealty to said colonial masters. They were dependent on the Europeans to retain their power, or the majority would eventually displace them.

Many of the conflicts we're seeing today can be directly attributed to that formula; majorities wresting control from minority rulers.

The reason I explained all that is to provide the proper context. Why are Republicans so afraid of voters? Because they know the majority would not (does not) support their policy issues. So they gerrymander, they suppress voters, they create evil enemies that don't exist, they push legislative rules to the limit, break those rules, then make new rules to justify their behavior after the fact. They behave as tyrants, and then warn people they are the only ones who can prevent tyranny.

The reality is, we are the only ones who can prevent tyranny. But that requires that we exercise our Constitutional right to vote.