Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


NC NEEDS CONSCIENCE IN CONGRESS, NOT TRUMP CULT FOLLOWERS: Today we have a president who seems unable to tell the truth to Congress, and who lies daily to the American people. Republicans in the North Carolina delegation sit quietly as Trump lies about his China tariffs, saying that China is sending billions of dollars to the United States. American importers and consumers know that is not true. We pay those billions. This is not about politics. This is about whether the leaders of our congressional delegation have moral values that require support for the truth and expect the president to comply. If the leaders of North Carolina’s congressional delegation are so mesmerized by Donald Trump that they will not speak to the truth of what the president says, they don’t need to be taking up space in our Capitol.

SOME NC FARMERS STUBBORNLY LOYAL TO TRUMP DESPITE LOSSES: Soybean farmers, in particular, have been feeling the effect for a year since China imposed a 25 percent retaliatory tariff on U.S. soybeans. Although most of North Carolina’s soybeans are sold in-state as livestock feed, the disruption of the China market has caused a sharp decline in the price of soybeans. In 2012, the price for a bushel peaked at $17. A year ago it was around $10. Now it’s around $8, a 10-year low. Yet, surprisingly, many soybean farmers in North Carolina are still supportive of Trump’s aggressive trade moves. John Fleming, who with his brother grows soybeans and other crops on their 2,700-acre farm in Halifax County, says China needed to be confronted for manipulating its currency to its trade advantage, canceling crop orders when it finds cheaper products and stealing U.S. advances in crop science. “I think farmers have been pushed around by China enough,” he says.

MAUREEN DOWD: WILL TRUMP END UP BEING THE SAGE ONE? Only one person can save us from the dangerous belligerent in the White House. And that person is Donald Trump. How screwed up is that?
Will the president let himself be pushed into a parlous war by John Bolton, who once buoyed the phony case on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Or will Trump drag back his national security adviser and the other uber hawks from the precipice of their fondest, bloodiest desire — to attack Iran? Can Cadet Bone Spurs — as Iraq War vet Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., called Trump — set Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., straight that winning a war with Iran would not merely entail “two strikes, the first strike and the last strike”? Holy cakewalk. Once, we counted on Trump’s advisers to pump the brakes on an out-of-control president. Now, we count on the president to pump the brakes on out-of-control advisers.

POST-ROE AMERICA WON'T BE LIKE PRE-ROE AMERICA. IT WILL BE WORSE: While doctors were prosecuted for abortions before Roe, patients rarely were. Today, in states that have legislated fetal personhood, women are already arrested on suspicion of harming or endangering their fetuses, including by using drugs, attempting suicide or, in a case in Utah, delaying a cesarean section. There’s no reason to believe that, in states where abortion is considered homicide, prosecutors will be less punitive when investigating it. At least the Alabama law exempts people having abortions from prosecution. But they are not spared by the Georgia law, which, as Mark Joseph Stern points out in Slate, has language that criminalizes self-induced abortion. Nor are women who abort exempt from punishment in the most recent version of Louisiana’s six-week abortion ban. Republican politicians in other states are clearly interested in locking women up; last month, Texas legislators held a hearing on a bill that would allow women who have abortions to be charged with homicide and potentially subject to the death penalty. In a post-Roe future, the political fight, at least in red states, could shift from whether women can have abortions to whether they can be imprisoned for them.

CONSERVATIVES' JUNK SCIENCE IS HAVING REAL CONSEQUENCES: Chambliss then argued that, under his law, women would be free to get abortions during this period of time — so long as they don’t yet know they are pregnant. So a victim of incest could get an abortion? “Yes, until she knows she’s pregnant,” he reasoned, as journalist Abbey Crain recounted. The genius behind the abortion law elaborated: “She has to do something to know whether she’s pregnant or not. It takes time for all the chromosomes to come together.” The poor fellow seems to have confused chromosomes, the genetic material that combines during fertilization, with the hormones detected in pregnancy tests. So, once an egg is fertilized, no more abortions? Chambliss floundered: “I’m at the limits of my medical knowledge, but until those chromosomes you were talking about combine — from male and female — that’s my understanding.” Contradicting himself, he also said that throwing away eggs that were fertilized in vitro wouldn’t land you in jail because “it’s not in a woman. She’s not pregnant.” Thus did Chambliss join the vanguard of clueless male legislators telling women what to do with their bodies. In Ohio, the author of a bill banning insurance coverage for non-life-threatening abortions included an exception for a fictitious procedure in which a doctor implants the fetus from an ectopic pregnancy in the uterus. The bill also appears — inadvertently — to ban coverage of IUDs and possibly birth control pills.


MARGARET MAGNANI: OUR KIDS ARE PAYING THE PRICE FOR OUR INACTION ON GUN VIOLENCE: It now appears that Second Amendment rights in the United States are being secured by the lives and bodies of our school children. Two recent shooting took the lives of brave, young men who acted selflessly on behalf of classmates. Their heroism was extraordinary. However, calls for young people to “do what they can to disrupt an active shooter” seem to put the onus on the students to resolve the matter. Do we add to their trauma by having them feel guilty if they don’t throw themselves into the line of fire? Is this all we can do to end or limit the destruction school shootings cause? If so, is it not a complete abrogation of our responsibilities to our children and our society – and, in my opinion, obscene in every sense? Perhaps we need to broaden our definition of “right to life” to include the health and welfare of our children at any age or stage of life.

BARBARA WEBER: JUST SAY NO TO HEARTBEAT BILLS: Once again women are being dismissed in the discussion of their life choices, namely abortion. Men make up about 70 percent our nation’s state legislators and they are pushing the no abortion/heartbeat laws for pregnant women of all ages. Women unprepared for babies experience poverty and anxiety. This leads to poor parenting and disturbed/abused children. Do we need more of that? As a nation, what are we doing to prevent pregnancies? We need to fund IUDs and birth control pills for all who wish to prevent a pregnancy. That’s the way to stop abortions. These bills enslave women into a life of poverty and mental anguish. Protect a woman’s life!

KRISTY GRAY: SEX EDUCATION IS CRITICAL, DON'T WEAKEN IT: North Carolina touts itself as being innovative, modern and progressive, yet elected officials are happily rolling back access to basic health education through several regressive sex-ed bills. Sex education is education. Access to sex education has been critical in helping teens stay safe and healthy. It helps those teens grow into adults who have healthy relationships and who understand safe-sex practices. Rates of unintended pregnancy among teens in the U.S. have reached a historic low, and more young people are delaying sexual activity until they’re ready and using birth control — all due to comprehensive sex ed. What purpose do these bills serve but to reduce access to sex-ed and put heavy burdens on public schools? It’s crucial that we listen to young people and school administrators and reject these bills. We should work to ensure that North Carolina’s youth get the necessary information they deserve to protect their health and plan their futures. The way forward is through the expansion of evidence-based health education. These bills will hurt our students and our schools. I reject House Bill 196, House Bill 315, and Senate Bill 318 for North Carolina.



From the dark side

This week's loser is UNC BOG member Joe Knott, for being a knot-head:

Should the UNC Board of Governors, after months of delay, move Silent Sam to a safer, less disruptive location? My answer to that question would be a very respectful “no,” at least not until the status quo ante has been restored and the issues have been identified, defined and debated publicly. I would submit to the board members, speaking only for myself, that giving legitimacy to such behavior as we observed in the destruction of the statue, betrays duty to protect the university and educate the next generation.

First, in protecting the university, the governors insulate, stand between the forces who would “take over” the schools for their own purposes. Does not academic freedom die when coercion and violence are allowed, even a little, into governance?

You want to talk about coercion? How about when you championed the effort to ban the UNC Center for Civil Rights from litigating cases, a move that was opposed by the Chancellor and faculty? You weren't concerned about "protecting" the school then, and you damned sure weren't concerned about protecting citizens from being discriminated against by state or municipal governments. You just didn't like the idea of the University actually helping people, because outside your rarefied little clique, those people are all...

When an organized mob arrives with masks, ropes, sheets and a plan to destroy Silent Sam, the mob is attempting to usurp the policy making function of the Board of Governors. If the board has any policy, the first policy must be that such behavior is unacceptable.

That's what this is all about. Power. The protesters took that decision out of your hands, mainly because ideologues like you were more than happy to sit on your ass and do nothing, while that monument to slavery stank up the campus. And losing that power made you angry. Not because of any of these crafted rationalizations:

The university is, after all, the first and the last redoubt of reason, debate, freedom of expression and respect for individual conscience and opinion. At the university, decisions are made and taught to be made rationally and after articulate public debate. It is the marketplace of ideas. The board should not make any decision influenced by fear of violence, terror or threat of violence. That is exactly contrary to the spirit of freedom and education.

You want to talk about "spirit of freedom" and rational decision-making? How about the General Assembly passing a law that took away the freedom of local authorities to relocate or remove statues? Your GOP colleagues actually took away your power to "decide" what to do with Silent Sam, and you didn't make a squeak. But some nameless powerless protesters pulled the statue down, and now we have a crisis that can only be fixed by putting it right back where it was.

The mob must not be allowed even an ounce of influence over policy at UNC, much less the power to dictate the resolution of a disagreement about the placement of the statue. If lawless people are allowed to determine policy at UNC, our great university will not be great for long.

My second reason for advocating the immediate return of Silent Sam to his original place is educational. The university is a school, and schools teach. The question is what are we teaching? Do we intend to teach that efficiency always trumps principle? Is easy expediency the guide to a good life?

Yeah, principles are important. And when Julian Carr bragged about whipping a black woman in the streets when Silent Sam was dedicated, a principled response would have been for that crowd to tar and feather him, and maybe ride him out of town on a rail. But instead, they applauded. And in that very instant, the true nature of Silent Sam was determined. And so was his eventual fate.