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Sunday News: From the Editorial Pages

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SPEAKER TIM MOORE'S POWER GRAB: Since 2011, and until last week, it has been the rule in the North Carolina House of Representatives that there must be at least a day’s notice before a vote on overriding legislation vetoed by the governor – two days if the bill originated in the House. That rule was adopted in 2011 -- the same year Republicans initiated their now 12-year domination of both the state House and state Senate in the General Assembly. The provision was placed in the House rules at the behest of former Republican state Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam. Stam is no fair-weather partisan and at the time was the Republican Majority Leader in the House. Every representative present – including then Rules Committee co-chair and now Speaker Tim Moore – voted for it. The point of the rule is not to give any political party or state official any advantage or disadvantage. The point is to make sure citizens know what’s going on and can hold their elected representatives fully accountable. Giving notice on important actions – whether hearings and votes on bills before legislative committees, debates and votes in the state House or Senate – makes sure the public has a way to track and hold their elected officials responsible for their actions. Responsibility is exactly the kind of behavioral trait that Berger and Moore try to avoid, so they can keep shortchanging our public schools and block Medicaid expansion. And they will use every dirty trick in the book (and those not written yet) to get there.
https://www.wral.com/editorial-speaker-tim-moore-s-power-grab/20675246/

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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NEW HOUSE PANEL STIRS MEMORIES OF EARLIER MCCARTHY: Lawmakers point to outrageous abuses of the federal government’s unchecked law enforcement and intelligence apparatus, vowing to get to the bottom of the dirty business and root out the shadowy figures responsible. McCarthy on Thursday described the new committee as “Church style” as he trumpeted the first week’s work of House Republicans, including the creation of the panel. “Government should be here to help you, not go after you,” McCarthy told reporters. Democrats and historians see darker historical parallels. They liken the Republican zeal to pursue nebulous allegations of deep state conspiracies to the “Red Scare” days of a McCarthy from an earlier era: Sen. Joseph McCarthy, R-Wis. The McCarthy hearings in the 1950s and investigations by the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1930s and 1940s have come to be seen as sordid, painful chapters in the congressional past, a series of communist witch hunts that needlessly destroyed lives. Lawmakers unleashed unfounded allegations in pursuit of sensational headlines and nonexistent infiltrators and traitors, and Democrats warn that the same could happen again. “Dozens of whistleblowers who have come and talked to Republican staff on the Judiciary Committee don’t think this is a ploy,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, chair of the Judiciary Committee. “That is why they came to talk to us. They know how serious this is.” Right, just like the "dozens of whistleblowers" who claimed they had evidence of widespread voting fraud that led to Donald Trump's "stolen" election. Nothing but conjecture and conspiracy theories. We knew this was going to happen after Trump's (two) impeachments and the Insurrection hearings, but hopefully the media will give it the attention it deserves, which is very little.
https://www.wral.com/carl-hulse-adam-goldman-new-house-panel-stirs-memories-of-earlier-mccarthy/2066...

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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DUKE ENERGY'S FAILURE SHEDS LIGHT ON A WAY FORWARD: This event is similar to the one that happened in my native Texas in 2021, which cost the lives of 246. We are incredibly fortunate that North Carolina didn’t suffer a similar loss of life. However, unfortunately, the same mindset prevails in power generation. North Carolina and Texas overwhelmingly rely on coal and natural gas as the primary resources to produce electricity. The lessons we should learn from the storm are clear in Duke’s responses to Gov. Cooper and the Utilities Commission: Climate change is causing more extreme weather, which is unpredictable. We are facing more historic storms, not fewer; Gas and coal aren’t always dependable in extreme weather, while renewable energy with battery storage is more reliable. By signing the Inflation Reduction Act into law, President Joe Biden ensured these costs will continue to drop. In fact, a new study by the clean energy think tank RMI shows the Inflation Reduction Act makes clean energy cheaper than more than 90% of proposed gas plants.
Similarly, a study Duke commissioned from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory revealed that Duke could most economically meet the carbon reduction targets mandated by the law by tripling the proposed solar on its grid by 2030. Fortunately, the Utilities Commission highlighted both the Duke outages and the Inflation Reduction Act in its order to Duke. When Duke presents its revised plan to the Utilities Commission in September, they will no longer be able to credibly say natural gas is the cheapest and most reliable path. And we must not forget, the natural gas sector is still plagued by fugitive emissions of the (super) carbon Methane, throughout its entire production cycle. Even sites that are "played out" and supposedly capped are leaking a substance 50 times worse that Co2. The way forward is clear, but the fossil fuel industry and their puppets will fight to their last breath to derail that progress.
https://www.wral.com/carrie-clark-duke-energy-s-failure-sheds-light-on-a-way-forward/20657043/

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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THE JAN 6 REPORT'S KEY FINDING: TRUMP ENABLED MILITIA GROUPS: First and foremost, the report busts a myth promoted by right-wing apologists that because some insurrectionists began the assault on the Capitol before Trump concluded his “Stop the Steal” speech, he was not the inspiration for the attack. Wrong. Chapter 6 details the degree to which members of extremist groups (e.g., Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, Three Percenters) seized upon Trump’s “big lie” of a stolen election. They heard his call to come to D.C. and believed he wanted them to do what was needed to keep him in power. The Proud Boys planned to move ahead of the crowd, which later — at Trump’s instruction — followed them down Pennsylvania Avenue. In Chapter 8, the report details the early removal of barricades at the Peace Circle by the Proud Boys and their associates. That cleared the way for thousands of protesters to move down Pennsylvania Avenue directly to the Capitol. That provides evidence of the meticulous preparation that went into the assault. Moreover, several people in Trump’s inner circle were intimately involved with the insurrectionists. This includes former White House advisers Stephen K. Bannon and Michael Flynn and Trump’s longtime confidant Roger Stone. These individuals met with members of extremist groups, encouraged them to act and amplified their message. Bannon, of course, had a direct line to the president. (The committee reports that the two communicated on Jan. 5.) Trump was also in regular contact with Stone. The report does not connect Trump to the armed insurrectionists directly, but it gets alarmingly close. This was a genuine conspiracy (unlike wacky QANON bullshit), an effort to engineer a coup to allow Trump to remain in power. In virtually any other country, the leader of such an effort would be in jail. But here we are two years later, watching this idiot plan for another campaign.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/12/23/jan-6-report-trump-right-wing-extremism/

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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BIDEN'S AMERICA FINDS ITS VOICE: Zelenskyy and his fellow Ukrainians have reminded Americans of the values and causes we used to admire in ourselves — the ardent hunger for freedom, the deep-rooted respect for equality and human dignity, the willingness to fight against brutal authoritarians who would crush the human face under the heel of their muddy boots. It is as if Ukraine and Zelenskyy have rekindled a forgotten song, and suddenly everybody has remembered how to sing it. Zelenskyy was not subtle about making this point. He said that what Ukraine is fighting for today has echoes in what so many Americans fought for over centuries. I thought of John Adams, Frederick Douglass, Theodore Roosevelt, George Marshall, Fannie Lou Hamer, the many unsung heroes of the Cold War. His words reminded us that America supports Ukraine not only out of national interest — to preserve a stable liberal world order — but also to live out a faith that is essential to this country’s being and identity. The thing that really holds America together is this fervent idea. Finally, Zelenskyy reminded us that while the authoritarians of the world have shown they can amass power, there is something vital they lack: a vision of a society that preserves human dignity, which inspires people to fight and binds people to one another. The lust for power, which leads to tyranny and subjugation, has been with us since we began to walk upright on two legs. And it will be with us long into the future. But these "Strongmen" are actually exhibiting weakness; a flaw in their character that drives them to dominate others. We have to (constantly) make the cost for such behavior higher than the benefit. De oppresso liber, forever.
https://www.wral.com/biden-s-america-finds-its-voice/20641310/

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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ANOTHER YEAR WITHOUT MEDICAID EXPANSION AND THE BODY COUNT GROWS: Since 2014, in a mean-spirited display of antipathy and partisan spite toward former President Barack Obama, legislative leaders forced a ban on Medicaid expansion. They continue to ignore the pressing needs and look for excuses to avoid doing the responsible thing. North Carolina remains one of just 11 states yet to expand Medicaid since the federal government agreed to assume almost all the cost. Since the 2014 ban on Medicaid expansion, the state has left more than $40 billion in federal funding in Washington. Meanwhile federal taxes being paid by North Carolinians are helping pay for Medicaid expansion in Arkansas, Louisiana, Utah, Indiana and most recently, South Dakota – all overwhelmingly Republican states. The money is just one “cost.” For North Carolina families it has meant: 4,240 to 15,200 deaths of loved ones who weren’t able to get the lifesaving care they needed. 110.458 women haven’t been able to get breast cancer screening mammograms. 236,500 diabetics have gone without medication. 118,000 jobs, that would have been created because of the infusion of federal funds, have gone wanting. Meanwhile, health care costs are skyrocketing. I recently had a CT scan that was critical in determining I did not have any cancerous growths, and it fell into the gap between two limited benefit plans I carry through my job. $5,300 may be a drop in the bucket for some, but for the rest of us, it's crippling. Fix this now, dammit.
https://www.wral.com/editorial-another-year-without-medicaid-expansion-lives-still-at-risk/20629439/

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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SABOTAGE OF MOORE COUNTY ELECTRIC GRID CANNOT BE TOLERATED: Was it an act of discrimination against cross dressers? Was it about trying to fix elections so favored candidates win – regardless of what voters might have said? It needs to stop. Let people, who aren’t hurting others, lead their own lives. Don’t like how an election turned out – there are plenty of avenues to express grievances appropriately – including through the courts. Cooper called the act a "new level of threat" and added “protecting critical infrastructure like our power system must be a top priority. … We will be evaluating ways to work with our utility providers and our state and federal officials to make sure we harden our infrastructure where that’s necessary and work to prevent future damage." It should not go unnoted that many volunteers, businesses and emergency responders have stepped up in Moore County to help and to the extent possible, ease the difficult situation many face. Their generosity is much appreciated. It is unfortunate that such an effort even became a necessity. The disruption to life and commerce in Moore County will -- we hope -– be over shortly and the facilities rebuilt. But the impact of what happened won’t fade as quickly. It remains as an urgent warning that action is necessary now to address the vulnerabilities that became all too apparent. I fear this has already become a cold case. The FBI's "seeking information" poster directs people to contact the Sheriff's office and has their phone number, or any FBI office (no phone number). I have zero confidence this crime will actually be solved.
https://www.wral.com/editorial-sabotage-in-moore-county-can-t-be-tolerated-act-swiftly-prevent-its-s...

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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WHO WILL TED BUDD REALLY BE WORKING FOR IN THE U.S. SENATE? When Republican Ted Budd takes his seat in the United States Senate next month who will he be representing? If you say North Carolina, don’t bet on it. The people who will really get his attention will be the handful of billionaires who, through dark money campaign operations and super political action committees (super PACs) , accounted for 85% of the $83.2 million raised and spent to get him elected. The folks behind these organizations have little connection to North Carolina or the needs of the state. Top donors to Club for Growth, that spent $11.7 million to get Budd elected, are billionaires Richard Uihlein, an Illinois packaging magnate and billionaire investment trading executive Jeff Yass of Pennsylvania. Other PACs are financed by Las Vegas hotel fortune heiresses and investment tycoons from New York and Miami. In politics, it’s a truism that: “You got to dance with them what brung you.” That means, as the great commentator Molly Ivins says: “When you get to public office, you vote with the folks who put you there. And that used to mean your constituents, the people who voted for you. But more and more what it means is you vote with the special interests who put up the money to get you to public office.” In the Senate, don’t look for Budd to be tripping the light fantastic with many partners who have tar on their heels -- $70 million is a very exclusive dance ticket. Bought and paid for. And the sad part is, NC voters were told who was buying these ads. At the end of every radio and TV ad, and at the bottom of every mailer. Maybe not the people, but the organizations. And a quick Google search would have answered the people question. But that is apparently expecting too much.
https://www.wral.com/editorial-who-will-ted-budd-really-be-working-for-in-the-u-s-senate/20609060/

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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GOP BRAGGING RINGS HOLLOW WITHOUT MEDICAID EXPANSION: “Republicans will continue to champion policies that strengthen our economy, support quality education, and provide for public safety and order,” Berger pledged. Nowhere in his 600-word litany of partisan Democratic Party bashing and Republican Party chest thumping is the word "health" mentioned. Berger and his allies have repeatedly found ways to block, delay and politically entangle Medicaid expansion. About 600,000 North Carolinians – equal to nearly a third of all the votes Republican state Senate candidates received – have since 2013 been denied by state law from access to affordable health care. Yes, not only has Berger and his allies failed to vote FOR expanding Medicaid, they actually passed a law (Senate Bill 4) in 2013 prohibiting it – with only Republican votes in the Senate and a single Democrat (who later switched affiliation to the Republican Party) in the House. The costs have been staggering – as many as 14,700 lives -- of those unable to get the care they needed -- have been lost; 230,000 diabetics have not been able to get the life-sustaining medications they require; 107,500 mammograms missed. And, particularly for politicians who brag of frugality and job growth, the state has missed out on $17.44 billion in federal funds. That is money North Carolina taxpayers already send to Washington that’s paying more than 90% of the Medicaid expansion costs in 39 other states and Washington, DC. Berger is a one-trick pony (tax cuts), who won his race because he was the only horse on the racetrack. But it's not just his fault, there are (going to be) 29 other GOP Senators, and the pressure needs to be on them to force his hand on Medicaid expansion.
https://www.wral.com/editorial-gop-bragging-rings-hollow-without-medicaid-expansion/20589212/

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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THANKS NC POLL WORKERS! YOU REALLY ARE DEMOCRACY HEROES: It is – or was – a quiet and often unnoticed task. But in the last few years -- amid the bombastic, sometimes violence-threatening, election-denying rhetoric led by former President Donald Trump – it has become an increasing challenge as an aggressive few are determined to disrupt, deny and cast doubt on the election process. For most of the 3.8 million people who voted – both during the early in-person voting period and on Election Day – ballots were cast without incident. In one county a one-stop polling place worker was followed from the election site, to the elections office and then to their home – described by state Elections Director Karen Brinson Bell as “the most egregious situation we had” on Election Day. In Rutherford County, there was a report of a voter being told they must have a photo ID to enter a polling place – which is not required in North Carolina – and wrongly contending law enforcement officers were arresting people at a voting site. The state received 21 reports of conduct violations at polling places involving campaign workers or election observers with a dozen concerning allegations of voter intimidation. It says something of the unfortunate times we’re in when the spokesman says why he can’t compare the number of incidents this year to past years. “We have not tracked these incidents in the past as we have this year, primarily because there has never been such a focus on observer conduct, nor have we had many reported incidents in the past,” said Patrick Gannon, the state board’s public information director. I have a feeling there would have been many more conduct violations if the (US) Justice Department had not monitored a handful of counties (my own included), but they will probably need to send more come 2024, if tRump makes it through the Primary again.
https://www.wral.com/editorial-thanks-nc-poll-workers-you-really-are-democracy-heroes/20580870/

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