Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


THE NEXT PRESIDENT NEEDS TO BE A WOMAN: Women have more respect for life when in public office and do more to protect our society, whether it is gun control or military action. Wouldn’t you feel better about a Congress controlled by women rather than by old, white men when it comes to declaring war? I would. Today, we have had 45 men as president in a country that now has more female than male voters. Indeed, the current president has all of the undesirable male characteristics known to man and then some. So, let’s try something else, as many of us believe that a woman in the White House will bring uniqueness, class, morality, competence and empathy for American children and families. If the 2018 Congressional elections proved nothing else, it was that women candidates can win, especially with a strong female vote.

DUKE ENERGY'S POWER PLAY COULD COST NC'S CONSUMERS: Duke Energy is pushing a Trojan horse – which, while disguised as legislation to give state regulators more flexibility, would permit Duke to earn excessive profits at customers’ expense without the comprehensive scrutiny it currently receives from regulators. Far from helping regulators – or anyone else other than Duke – Senate Bill 559 is an attempt to pocket additional money for Duke Energy, the chief driver of the bill. SB 559 opens the door for Duke to be allowed to raise its rates annually to collect from ratepayers an estimated $10 billion in coal ash clean-up costs and $13 billion in grid modernization costs over the next decade. But like the mythical Trojan horse, SB 559 appears harmless from the outside. In addition to reducing ratemaking scrutiny and locking residential and business consumers into higher rates for multiple years, the legislation has the potential to strip power from the Utilities Commission.

BUSINESS LEADERS, PEDIATRICIANS SAY MEDICAID EXPANSION IS PRACTICAL AND RIGHT: Many doctors also support expansion, including a group of Winston-Salem pediatricians who joined their colleagues visiting legislators in Raleigh on May 15. One of the local pediatricians was Kimberly Montez. I joined Montez and her colleagues, who calmly made their case to legislators. In a follow-up email to me, Montez said: Many legislators are not aware that closing the Medicaid coverage gap for low-income working parents is crucial to the health, development and growth of their children. Mothers who have health insurance before conception are more likely to attend prenatal visits and give birth to healthy infants. Children whose parents have health insurance are 29 percent more likely to attend a preventive visit and receive vaccinations. Low-income parents with health insurance are more likely to spend time with their children and less time worrying about their health, out-of-pocket medical expenses or medical debt. Meeting with many state legislators with a group of pediatricians for White Coat Wednesday, it was clear that all support the health and well-being of children in and around Forsyth County; for that we are thankful. However, many were not aware that the health of parents is inextricably related to the health of their child, for which closing the Medicaid coverage gap is imperative.

THE SUPREME COURT CAN'T IGNORE DAMNING NEW EVIDENCE ON TRUMP'S CENSUS MANIPULATION: Opponents of the citizenship question provided in federal court on Thursday documents elaborating on the partisan inspirations for the change. According to the New York Times, the daughter of Thomas B. Hofeller, a recently deceased Republican gerrymandering expert, discovered files on her late father’s hard drives suggesting that GOP operatives hoped to do more than simply depress the census count. They also wanted to give themselves an edge in legislative line-drawing. Mr. Hofeller had concluded in 2015 that switching the way states distribute political representation — basing it on where eligible voters are, rather than on total population, whether voting-eligible or not — would benefit Republicans. Many Hispanics and their children would be excluded from consideration as legislative lines were drawn. Democratic districts would have to expand in order to encompass the same number of people. The result would be districts that skewed less Democratic.

WHAT I LEARNED LEADING THE TIANANMEN PROTESTS: Our movement failed 30 years ago because we lacked support and experience in promoting democratic change. Many of us had pinned our hopes on the liberal factions of the Communist Party leadership to initiate changes from within the system, but we underestimated the power of the party elders. The massacre shattered our illusions, helping us see the brutality of China’s one-party rule. We students were not the only naïve ones. Within a few years of the Tiananmen massacre, many Western governments lifted their sanctions against China. The West’s engagement policy — based on the hope that trade and investment would bring about democratic changes in China — prevailed. But instead of instigating liberalization, Western capital fattened the pockets of the Communist Party leaders, giving them the power to prolong their rule by silencing dissent at home and expanding the country’s global clout. Despite our failure, I believe that we protesters made a difference. CNN reported live on what happened in Tiananmen Square, and the Chinese government realized that it could no longer butcher its citizens with the whole world watching.


COURTNEY CROWDER: REDISTRICTING REFORM IS NEEDED: I want to thank N.C. Rep. Robert Reives for supporting bipartisan redistricting reform in the current session of the General Assembly. This is a pivotal year for the legislature to fix how our legislative boundaries are drawn. I applaud Reives for saying it is time to let voters choose their politicians, rather than politicians continuing to choose their voters. The FAIR Act (H.B. 140) would implement clear, nonpartisan guidelines to bring transparency and restore accountability and fairness to our redistricting process. This is the year to enact reform and I hope other legislators across the state will join Reives in supporting this issue.

MARK ZIMMERMAN: COAL ASH COSTS ARE ON DUKE: Duke Energy ignored doing the right thing regarding the mountains of coal ash it created while making mountains of profit. Duke should have spent modest mounts of its revenue to properly dispose of the coal ash as it was created. Duke didn’t do its homework. Now it has to stay after school. Duke now wants to pass along to us, its customers, the great costs of finally properly disposing of the coal ash which has been a danger to our health while it sat there and sank into our water supply. They did not even stockpile the coal ash properly. This matter is not our burden to bear, though Duke has asked the rate commission to approve a rate increase, so it would not have to bear the costs of doing business. Clearly, Duke’s executives were asleep at the wheel, and they want us to bail them out. That’s nonsense, because good and bad decisions by the executives are the wins and losses of the company. Let us not overlook the fact that Duke Energy is the largest electric energy producer in the U.S. Duke Energy has the bucks.

MICHAEL SCHLEY: GIVE THE DREAMERS IN-STATE TUITION RATES: In the next few weeks, thousands of young people will graduate from North Carolina high schools, full of ambitions and dreams. For some of these high school seniors however, their dreams will be cut short. Because of their immigration status, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival) recipients will not be able to attend our state’s community colleges or state universities unless they pay tuition rates that are three times the rates their classmates are paying. Even though most of these kids have grown up in North Carolina, this will effectively end their dreams of going to college despite their willingness to work and study hard. This is not right. These kids deserve a chance at the American dream. Our legislators need to do the right thing and pass the law that will allow Dreamers to qualify for in-state tuition.



From the dark side

This week's loser is Kathleen Parker for her science-deprived anti-abortion nonsense:

So, is Alabama really crazy? Is Georgia, which recently passed a “heartbeat bill” banning abortion after the baby’s heartbeat can be detected, usually at around six weeks? (Neither law has taken effect, and both will surely be challenged in court.) Lest I be chastened for daring humanize an embryo, let me state for the record that the correct term for “heartbeat” is “fetal pole cardiac activity,” because at six weeks, said embryo doesn’t have a cardiovascular system and, therefore, no fully-formed, beating heart.

Then they should have used that term, instead of "heartbeat." But they didn't use it, because it would drive home the point that what was being discussed was no different than cellular activity that takes place in organisms that aren't even mammals. They are perpetrating emotional fraud, and should be called out for it.

The question of craziness, meanwhile, depends upon one’s definition of crazy. Is Alabama crazier than New York, where some protections for babies “born” alive during an abortion were recently eliminated, making it easier to end their life if desired by the abortion seeker?

Is Alabama crazier than Virginia, where Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam seemed to support infanticide back in January when commenting on a proposed bill that would relax some of the state’s abortion restrictions?

Of course both of those statements have been debunked, but that doesn't stop idiots like Kathleen from using them to back up her misguided points.

The crucial aspect of both the New York law and Virginia’s proposed law (which as been tabled, for now) is that they reduce medical oversight of late-term abortions. In both cases, only one doctor would be involved in deciding and performing a late-term abortion, eliminating additional physicians who can tend to a baby that survives an abortion. New York previously had required two doctors in the room; Virginia required that three doctors certify that continuing the pregnancy would likely cause the patient’s death or that it would “substantially and irremediably impair” her mental or physical health. Thus, a single doctor could decide that a woman’s perhaps fleeting state would be sufficient to end a baby’s potentially viable life.

Apparently the author believes we have a glut of Medical Doctors in this country, and having 2-3 in the room at the same time is no big deal. In fact, Ob-Gyn's are becoming scarce even in urban areas, and have virtually disappeared in rural America. And then of course there's the "no doctor" deliveries using midwives, which now number over 300,000 per year.

The truth is, people like Kathleen don't trust doctors, so they want three of them in there to increase the likelihood one of them would intervene between the mother and her chosen physician. That's not better health care, that's theocratic oppression.

Nevertheless, pro-life legislative efforts haven’t been for naught. Fence-sitters may now see more clearly on which side to plant their feet. In a 2016 Pew poll, 69 percent of Americans opposed overturning Roe vs. Wade. But most people are comfortable with limitations. We can quibble over where those limits should be, but nothing will ever please everyone. Where insight fails, facts are often helpful: Biologically, life begins at conception. Full stop. A fetus is not part of a woman’s body except as is umbilically necessary to sustain its life. Otherwise, it is a free-floating human being with its own unique DNA. If left to develop according to nature’s course, the little tadpole would become a fully formed human baby and, barring unforeseen circumstances, grow up to become a regular reader of this column.

Your "facts" are in direct opposition to established science, ergo, they are not really facts, just opinion. And a decidedly unqualified opinion, at that. I would also add: If "left to develop according to nature's course," cancerous tumors would have killed the 16 million-plus survivors walking the U.S. streets today.

It is ironic, meanwhile, that as pro-life activists radicalize their agenda, abortion rates are in steady decline.

It's not ironic, it was inevitable. The more we understand about reproductive science, and the more control we give women (and girls) over their own bodies, unwanted pregnancies will naturally decline. The availability of birth control, especially to teenagers riding hormonal waves, is a fricking no-brainer if you really want to curb abortions.

But no doubt the Kathleen Parkers of the world would argue against that solid scientific reasoning, because their moral compasses have been deeply compromised by patriarchal leanings.