Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


NC CEOS: NOW'S THE TIME TO EXPAND MEDICAID: As business leaders in the State of North Carolina, we know firsthand that a strong workforce is essential to North Carolina’s economy. We also know that employee health is a big contributor to the strength of our workforce. A big contributor to good health is having insurance. People with health insurance are more likely to see a doctor when they get sick and have better overall health. And healthier employees are more productive and absent less. Unfortunately, 13 percent of North Carolinians under 65 are uninsured. These are our neighbors - they are construction workers, retail employees, restaurant workers, veterans and farmers; they are the bedrock of our communities. Currently, a family of four with working parents cannot earn more than $9,000 to qualify for Medicaid. But they earn too little to qualify for federal subsidies to buy their own insurance. They fall into a coverage gap.

SHOULD NC GOVERNOR VETO A BUDGET WITHOUT MEDICAID EXPANSION?: More states each year, including those with Republican-led legislatures, have adopted Medicaid expansion — some because voters told them to do so in ballot initiatives. To date, 37 states (including the District of Columbia) are giving millions more citizens access to critical health care that Medicaid expansion brings. Republican leaders are doing North Carolinians a disservice by stalling on a plan that citizens overwhelmingly want and that Jackson suggests most lawmakers may support. There’s one way to find out if he’s right: craft a bill and hold a vote. If Republicans don’t want to vote aye themselves to Medicaid expansion, they should put it on the ballot and let voters decide, as several states have. As for a Cooper ultimatum: We’re wary of officials holding one legislative item hostage for the sake of an unrelated item. Tempting as it might be for the governor to threaten a budget veto if Republicans don’t move toward Medicaid expansion, he should resist. North Carolina voters can have their say at the ballot box — if not specifically on Medicaid expansion, then on the party that’s holding it back.

MAUREEN DOWD: FAIR PLAY IS NO MATCH FOR FOUL: At many of the most consequential moments in American history, I have watched officials bend over backward to be equitable, only to end up faltering and doing enormous damage to the Republic. It is possible to be “fair” in a way that is not at all fair. It’s simply bad judgment, ceding the ground to malevolent actors who use any means to achieve their ends, including flattening and sliming the proponents of “fairness.” President Barack Obama got similarly wrapped around the axle when he stayed mum on his administration’s investigation into Russia’s sabotage. Obama choked after the diabolical Mitch McConnell warned the White House that, if it acted on a plan to publicly shame Moscow, he would regard it as a partisan act. And finally, we have the unfortunate Robert Mueller, who took a tortuous route to decide not to decide on obstruction of justice. Like Comey, Mueller believed in his own purity so much that he was blinded to his naïveté. Mueller’s trust in Barr led him to miss the moment when Trump gobbled up the attorney general’s soul like a midnight snack — in one bite.

ANGELA WRIGHT-SHANNON: JOE BIDEN DOESN'T OWE ME AN APOLOGY: He could have called me to speak to Thomas’ behavior, thus backing Hill’s testimony. Yet he chose not to. For Hill, Biden was about as useful as an umbrella to a skydiver. But let’s keep things in perspective. The Thomas hearings were extraordinary for any number of reasons. Hard as it might be to imagine now, there was no national conversation about sexual harassment before the hearings. Secondly, the all-white, all-male Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991 had not the first clue about how to handle the accusations of a clearly accomplished, reputable, African American female law professor against an equally accomplished, African American male appeals court judge. Sensing the senators’ unease, Thomas played his race card in his opening remarks, declaring that the hearings were nothing more than “a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves.” And, with that, he managed to neutralize any white man on the committee who dared to oppose him, turning the debate from one of sexual harassment into one of racist politics. I understand why Biden turned into a prattling, ineffectual lump of nothingness. I don’t excuse it, but I do understand.

TRUMP'S "SCANDALOUS HARANGUES" ARE AN IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE: In 1868, the House impeached President Andrew Johnson because of his firing of Edwin Stanton as secretary of war and, at root, Johnson’s thwarting of Reconstruction. But Article X against Johnson (the Senate eventually acquitted him of all charges) seems written for the current moment: Johnson, “unmindful of the high duties of his high office and the dignity and proprieties thereof,” it said, sought “to bring into disgrace, ridicule, hatred, contempt and reproach, the Congress of the United States.” On several occasions, it added, Johnson declared “with a loud voice certain intemperate, inflammatory and scandalous harangues, and did therein utter loud threats and bitter menaces” against Congress and U.S. laws “amid the cries, jeers and laughter of the multitudes then assembled.” The article concluded that “said utterances, declarations, threats, and harangues . . . are peculiarly indecent and unbecoming in the Chief Magistrate of the United States,” and have brought the presidency “into contempt, ridicule, and disgrace, to the great scandal of all good citizens.” Johnson was therefore guilty of a “high misdemeanor in office.” Loud threats and bitter menaces in front of jeering crowds? Intemperate, inflammatory and scandalous harangues? This sort of “misdemeanor” — in the original meaning of misbehavior, not the modern sense of a minor crime — defines Trump’s presidency.


SALLY ROBERTSON: SAY "NO" TO DUKE ENERGY: Sen. Dan Blue is right when he says NC WARN is desperate to stop Senate Bill 559. Duke Energy plans 8 percent renewable energy by 2033, while other utilities are already at 30 percent or more, and Duke is building a fleet of new fracked gas-burning power plants even as scientists say we have 12 years to cut our carbon emissions in half or risk climate catastrophe. If you’re not desperate, you’re not paying attention. The bill, sponsored by Blue and other recipients of Duke Energy campaign donations, would make it easier for the monopoly utility to raise customer rates and could force customers to pay billions for coal ash and other corporate mistakes. In seeking a multi-year rate plan, Duke has cherry-picked a single part of a larger set of rate-making tools. The other piece is performance incentives that reward utilities for achieving goals important to customers, such as reducing peak demand. But Duke uses high demand as an excuse for building more gas plants. No wonder the bill leaves that part out. If Duke had a good plan, it would not have been rolled out in such a rush. Let’s have a full discussion, with consumer advocates at the table.

GARY PARKER: THE ART OF LYING HAS REACHED NEW HEIGHTS: Attorney General William Barr lied to Congress, and to the American people, during congressional testimony in April when answering Sen. Van Hollen on whether or not Barr knew if special counsel Mueller agreed with Barr’s assessment of the Mueller report. Then, when on May 1 Barr testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the committee’s Republican members fostered the lying in an effort to support Republican Barr’s lies and, of course, Republican Trump’s lies. I know you see where this is going. It’s obvious our Republican president lies constantly, and he is now joined by his Republican attorney general. The Republicans in Congress, too, have decided it’s OK to lie, because it supports their Republican president. They believe Republican voters will re-elect them because those Republican voters love their Republican president despite his constant lying, not to mention breaking the law. If that actually becomes the case, then Republican voters are lying to themselves, are failing to stand up for the truth, and are harming American democracy. This isn’t some esoteric theory. It’s an existential threat to your future and mine. Government officials don’t lie to us constantly, but President Donald Trump is leading them in that direction.

ALISSA ELLIS: DON'T WORK WITH ICE: In “Sheriffs opposed to ICE detention put politics ahead of safety” (April 30 Opinion) J. Peder Zane claims to believe in the rule of law, but the law does not require sheriffs to work with ICE, and Zane is far too comfortable dismissing serious constitutional concerns with HB 370. The anti-immigrant bill, which would force N.C. sheriffs to help federal immigration officers detain and deport community members or face fines of up to $25,000 a day, requires sheriffs to hold someone in jail for ICE even if they are legally eligible for release, in likely violation of the Fourth Amendment. So-called “detainer requests” have led to the prolonged detention of thousands of people without probable cause, judicial approval, or basic due process protections. The ACLU of Florida found that ICE has even wrongfully detained U.S. citizens, issuing more than 400 detainer requests for citizens in Miami-Dade County alone. Democratically elected N.C. sheriffs have stopped working with Trump’s deportation force because doing so harms public safety, spreading fear, diverting resources, and making people less likely to report crimes or trust law enforcement. That conclusion is supported by their own experiences and from studies by groups including the libertarian Cato Institute. North Carolina sheriffs have no business doing ICE’s bidding.



From the dark side

This week's loser is the News & Record's resident idiot Charles Davenport, Jr:

There they go again.

Thousands of teachers descended on Raleigh a few days ago to air their grievances before the General Assembly. Foremost among the protesters’ demands, as you might expect, is a significant increase in compensation for educators and support staff.

According to recent polling on the matter, most North Carolinians agree with the teachers.

I was not called to participate in either poll, but I have a few thoughts on the matter.

I was not called either, you innuendo-spewing fuckwit (sorry, I'll try to tone it down).

To begin with, the timing of the protest was not ideal. May 1 was not a scheduled day off for students. The N.C. Association of Educators chose to conduct the rally on a school day, which prompted disgruntled teachers and staff members to request the day off in order to attend the protest. Consequently, most school systems in the state canceled classes with short notice. Rarely mentioned is the inconvenience inflicted on thousands of parents of young children — parents forced to either take the day off work themselves, or scramble to arrange child care.

It's time to put this little conservative talking point to bed. It would be a near-pointless exercise to bring teachers to Raleigh when lawmakers are not there, whether it's waiting 'til the weekend or the Summer break. And your comment about child care is more ironic than you think, because many parents view school as just that, a place for their kids to go during the day.

Protests are designed to disrupt, to draw attention to institutional problems, and putting forth the idea that less disruptive methods are available just reveals your lack of understanding of the problem. And so does this:

Mark Jewell, the president of the educators association, said, “We will never apologize for advocating on behalf of our most precious citizens: our children.”

But it is far from certain that the group’s highest priority is children. We rarely hear the organization lament — or strive to do anything about — the mediocre academic performance of public school students. The educators association’s objective is — and always has been — to increase funding for public education (and to increase teacher salaries). It has often succeeded in acquiring additional taxpayer money, but academic performance remains stagnant.

The state's cohort high school graduation rate has been rising for about 12 years, and just hit 86.5%. That's not stagnant, it's dynamic. But there are growing geographic inequities in the system, exacerbated by the state pinching pennies and relying on local supplements, which are hard-wired into property values.

But all that aside, the real irony behind Charles' mistaken point here is: If he agreed that progress is being made, that would also be evidence we don't need to spend more money on schools. There is no set of circumstances where he would approve of more funding for public schools, or he would have made some suggestions.

The purpose of public education is not to provide high-paying jobs but to teach children the fundamentals of reading, writing and arithmetic. By any objective measure, our public schools are failing about half of the students. Why should we reward teachers for lackluster results?

Now he's just making shit up. Half of the students? Even in the more distressed schools, that would be a leap. But statewide? That's just ignorant rambling.

Speaking of academic struggles, the unfortunate truth is, those who choose to teach are a far cry from the “best and brightest.” Syndicated columnist Walter Williams recently spoke to the issue: “The major selected by the most ill-prepared students, sadly enough, is education. When students’ SAT scores are ranked by intended major, education majors place 26th on a list of 38.”

Nice try, if by "nice" we're referring to being a jerk. The truth is, about 1/3 of non-STEM students change their major before (under)graduation. So looking at freshmen stats is pretty much pointless. Now, if you want to talk about continuing education, where a graduate is expected to regularly enhance their capabilities via formal instruction, education majors move up to the top five of that pack, along with MDs and other clinicians.

This is not the first time Davenport has sung this song. He wrote almost the same nonsense after the teacher rally last year, and Caffeinated Rage took him to the woodshed for it:

First, Davenport makes claims that education majors are of a lower rung than other college students.

Richard Vedder, an economics professor at Ohio University and a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote a devastating essay on the subject for The Fiscal Times. “At many large universities with an undergraduate college of education,” Vedder writes, “the education school is regarded by students and faculty alike as the weak link, sometimes something of an embarrassment.”

Interestingly enough, many teachers like myself and many others didn’t major in education. Our certification was an add-on or was a minor or was through another program. Also, the American Enterprise Institute is a conservative think tank. It has a political bias that fits with the current “reformist” attitude alive in Raleigh today.

Davenport also makes this claim:

They are “far less competent academically (based on SAT scores or high school grades) than,” for instance, “physicists or economists.” These “relatively weak students are given a non-rigorous course of study.” They “earn very high grades” only because of grade inflation in schools of education.

If he truly believes that then I would dare him to address that in education classes at the universities in this state with schools of education. There is one right down the road at UNC-G. Maybe UNC-CH? Maybe App? Maybe even where I got my degrees – Wake Forest.

Don't hold your breath. Davenport is an idiot, which is why he no longer tries to get on "panels" to peddle his nonsense. He's been embarrassed every time he did, because he has no answers, only talking points.