Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


STOP LEGISLATIVE SIDESHOWS, GET DOWN TO BUSINESS AND ADDRESS REAL ISSUES: Why are legislative leaders focused on promoting rumor, inuendo and anonymous accusations in their amateurish Fairness and Accountability in the Classroom for Teachers and Students” task force – rather than making sure every teacher has the resources to deliver quality instruction to every student? This flim-flam has cost North Carolinians dearly. The deception and political slight of hand is neither entertaining nor productive as the legislature starts is third month in overtime. It is not too much to ask, at $50,000-a-day, to have a legislature that finally gets down to business, focuses on the real issues and needs of North Carolina and stops with the inflated rhetoric, side shows and gimmicks. It's Kabuki theatre, plain and simple. Exaggerated gestures and painted-on smiles, and campaigning 24/7/365. Substance just gets in the way.

WE'RE NOT TEXAS YET, BUT NORTH CAROLINA ALREADY MAKES ABORTION INACCESSIBLE: At least two residents of every North Carolina county received an abortion in 2019; almost 23,500 people overall. Despite this, only 15 clinics in nine counties offer abortion services. To get an abortion in North Carolina, you must travel to one of these 15 clinics to see a doctor—unlike Virginia and West Virginia, where nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants can perform the procedure. You can’t be treated over telehealth. Once you’re at the clinic and have your consultation, you have to wait 72 hours before undergoing the procedure. This ties North Carolina with five other states for the longest wait time in the country; Texas’s waiting period is 24 hours. Aside from patient barriers, clinicians also have to adhere to costly building regulations that provide no benefit to the patient. And if bureaucracy doesn’t keep patients from having an abortion, money, reliable transportation or stigma could. “This is, I think, a very intentional effort to further stigmatize abortion care, such that folks are really challenged to talk about their own experiences with abortion care,” Jenny Black, the president of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic. “We allow this discourse to continue and get a lot of momentum that is really perpetuated by what we’re seeing in Texas.” As in Texas, there are also ways to support the right to health care: contributing to abortion funds, contacting legislators or even just helping reduce the stigma around the procedure. It may also be helpful to volunteer as clinic escorts for added protection for those seeking abortions, as well as nurses, receptionists and doctors. “We’re a hair’s breadth away from it,” Black says of similar bills coming to North Carolina. “It could happen, but it doesn’t have to. We have time.” This is another reason we must fight any vestige of gerrymandering in the upcoming redistricting process. It won't take many map squiggles to give the GOP a Veto-proof majority again, and a woman's right to choose will be a top target for them if they do achieve that.

CLIMATE CHANGE IS BANKRUPTING NORTH CAROLINA'S SMALL TOWNS: Climate shocks are pushing small rural communities like Fair Bluff, many of which were already struggling economically, to the brink of insolvency. Rather than bouncing back, places hit repeatedly by hurricanes, floods and wildfires are unraveling; residents and employers leave, the tax base shrinks, and it becomes even harder to fund basic services. That downward spiral now threatens low-income communities in the path of Hurricane Ida and those hit by the recent flooding in Tennessee — hamlets regularly pummeled by storms that are growing more frequent and destructive because of climate change. Their gradual collapse means more than just the loss of identity, history and community. The damage can haunt those who leave, since they often cannot sell their old homes at a price that allows them to buy something comparable in a safer place. And it threatens to disrupt neighboring towns and cities as the new arrivals push up demand for housing. In 2016, the Obama administration set up a working group among agencies that handle disaster policy and recovery, including FEMA, HUD and the Army Corps of Engineers, asking them to devise a coordinated approach for what experts call managed retreat: relocating entire communities from areas that cannot be protected. But that work stopped under former President Donald Trump and has not resumed.

SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT ON THE POLITICAL ANCESTRY OF MODERN AMERICAN RACISM: “Why do you pick on Republicans so much? Don’t you know it was the Democrats who were the authors of Jim Crow?” That’s one of the gripes my conservative correspondents frequently voice these days when I write about race and racism — especially when it comes to barbs directed at GOP leaders over racially charged policy decisions like making it harder to vote, punishing protesters, or denying access to healthcare. It’s an interesting argument, though more for what it says about the people voicing it than for its substance. Today, however, the transition is complete. Denizens of the political right can pontificate all they want about “racist” gun control laws and the supposed benefits to people of color from “school choice” and the resegregation it inevitably spurs. But when Donald “very fine people on both sides” Trump is a party’s standard bearer and when a state lawmaker, Rep. Larry Pittman, publicly likens Abraham Lincoln to Adolf Hitler, yet is retained as a member, there can be little doubt about the party in which the white supremacist Democrats of the Jim Crow era would feel most at home. The sad bottom line: Sixty-plus years ago when southern Democrats like Strom Thurmond used the filibuster to block voting rights legislation, few Americans had any doubts about what their objective was. Today, when the party to which Thurmond dedicated the last 39 years of his life uses the exact same tactic for precisely the same purpose, it strains credulity to imagine that the objective has somehow been rendered pure – regardless of the delusions to which some of Thurmond’s descendants might cling. The truth is, conservatives (even the most dim-witted) know this argument is faulty, they simply use it to deflect and obscure their own blatantly racist behavior. It's disingenuous, and borne of shame and desperation, clinging to the rotten timbers of their sinking ship.

THE SUPREME COURT'S ABORTION RULING IS AN ABDICATION OF RESPONSIBILITY: Roe v. Wade began in Texas, when a Dallas woman sued to obtain an abortion in 1969. Antiabortion crusaders hope that the state also will be where women’s right to choose whether to have an abortion meets its end. A split Supreme Court permitted Wednesday a breathtaking infringement of Texas women’s abortion rights to come into effect, credulously embracing a cynical legal ploy the state used to evade judicial scrutiny and effectively ban abortion within its borders. Ever since President Donald Trump stacked the Supreme Court with three new conservative justices, right-wing legislatures such as Texas’s have been passing restrictions that do not quite ban abortion but come extremely close. They are hoping the court will allow them to restrict abortion by increments, hollowing out Roe until abortion is difficult or impossible to access in much of the country. They have passed laws that restrict abortion as early as six weeks — too soon for many women even to know they are pregnant. This policy, which encourages stalking and vigilantism, was designed to prevent early judicial intervention. Because the legislature tasked no state entity with enforcing the law, abortion rights advocates had no obvious party to sue before it phased in. They tried suing state judges and county clerks, seeking to enjoin them from accepting the paperwork that private plaintiffs would have to file to claim their bounties. This is the petition the Supreme Court rejected Wednesday. Abortion rights groups must now wait until someone brings suit against an abortion provider to challenge the law in court — and then wait for the judicial process to consider the law’s constitutionality. Meantime, abortion will be nearly stamped out in Texas, even if the justices eventually rule that the state’s policy was unconstitutional all along. I thought Conservatives were all about Tort Reform, stopping frivolous lawsuits, and keeping the courts out of people's personal lives. Yes, that was snarkasm.


MARJIE SRSIC: REMOVING DEJOY IS THE FIRST STEP IN FIXING POSTAL PROBLEMS: Regarding “Mail processing center plagued by problems, audit finds,” (Aug. 30): On the very day this article appeared, our mail arrived at 7:50 p.m. In June, I received a returned letter that I’d mailed to Clemson, S.C., some 11 months ago. Early in the pandemic, I had to stop payment on three separate checks that never reached their intended destination, despite mailing them the same day as I received the bills. Many neighbors and friends have similar stories. The conclusion of the audit of the Raleigh mail facility — that U.S. Postal Service employees are “losing focus” because their manager was on “extended leave” — is insulting to the men and women who sort and move the mail. The rot starts at the top. Postmaster Louis DeJoy needs to be replaced, his ill-advised initiatives reversed, and the audit’s recommendations adopted.

SARAH CARRIER: STOP GIVING MADISON CAWTHORN EXPOSURE, HE DOESN'T DESERVE IT: Regarding “Cawthorn calls for vice president to remove Biden after Afghanistan attack,” (Aug. 28): Madison Cawthorn has not earned the coverage the N&O gave him with the Saturday article about Cawthorn’s denigration of President Biden’s leadership in regard to Afghanistan. Cawthorn has been dishonest in his claim that his auto accident prevented his entering the U.S. Naval Academy, when his application was denied prior to his accident. He was dishonest in claiming his friend abandoned him after the accident, when in fact his friend pulled him from the burning car, an account is supported by Cawthorn’s father. He has been dishonest about his prior sexual harassment of women. And, he was too busy spewing conspiracy falsehoods about the 2020 election to support his constituents during a time of recent flooding.

ANGELA MIOTTO: THE MORAL FAILURE OF THE "BOOSTER SHOT" MOVEMENT: It is of questionable morality and self-interest to plan a booster shot campaign in the United States when millions of our sisters and brothers around the world have no possibility of vaccines anytime soon. Some experts estimate 2024 as the year when, at the current rate, the rest of the world might be vaccinated. Not even considering the suffering and death this statistic represents, think of the opportunities the coronavirus will have to develop additional variants, some of which could be far more transmissible and lethal than delta. As an 83-year-old woman with a serious lung condition, I am quite aware that the waning immunity of the two shots I have received puts me at risk for contracting the virus. I almost certainly would be a candidate for the booster. And yet, what about the poor countries right here in our own hemisphere — Haiti, for example? Do we just avert our eyes? I believe this is a dilemma with which we should all struggle.



Misinformation vs. disinformation

I have noticed, over the years but also quite recently, an inclination to quickly dismiss faulty information being disseminated by conservative outlets, think tanks, and opinion writers, often based solely on their perceived motivations and/or associations with other entities. Make no mistake, those are valid observations that should be included in a critique of the information being purveyed. But if you leave it at that, without a deeper exploration of the substance, it remains securely in the realm of ad hominem. And it allows them to escape the following assessment:

Is it misinformation or disinformation? These terms are not interchangeable, they are specific categories that reveal the character of the writer more than any other indicator. While misinformation can be innocent, such as relying on faulty sources and other bad research techniques, disinformation cannot be innocent. That requires knowingly using faulty information to back up your position, to promote your public policy agenda, or to benefit yourself financially at the cost of others.

Proving somebody is engaging in the latter and not the former may seem an impossible task, because nobody will admit to purposely deceiving until they are standing in front of a judge and pleading for leniency. But you don't need that admission to prove it. All you need is to expose a truth so obvious that nobody will believe the individual didn't know it. Thus exposing their intent to deceive was present before they typed a single word.

And you're right, it's not nearly as easy as it sounds. I would go as far as to say it's impossible in many cases. But you can only make that determination after you have explored the issue exhaustively, probed both the faulty information/research it is based upon, and legitimate sources of research on the same subject. And even then, the truths you discover may not meet the "obvious" threshold that would prove an intent to deceive.

But finding and exposing those truths is just as (if not more) important than exposing a serial disinformer. Not only does it close off an avenue for future disinformation, it opens an avenue to solving problems in a sustainable fashion.

See a map of NC abortion clinics

You can see a list and map of NC's abortion clinics at Google Maps.

If you live in western NC, you either have to travel to Charlotte or Winston-Salem to get services. That's a good two or three hour drive, depending on where you're coming from on top of the 72 hour waiting period.

If you're in north-western NC, you could go to Roanoke, but that's even further away than Winston. If you're in south-western NC, you're basically looking at Knoxville. (There are others listed in Tennessee that are closer, but, based on the names, I suspect these may be those fake "abortion counseling" centers that the evangelicals have set up.)

That's not entirely correct...

since there is a Planned Parenthood center in Asheville that performs abortions. Still, it is the only one west of Winston-Salem and Charlotte, so that's still a lot of territory for one clinic.

Considering the present

Considering the present "leaders" of the RepuliCAN'T party, it obviously doesn't take a lot of intelligence to be one of them.