Commentary

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: Super Bowl ‘Crotchgate’ critics need to chill

Before we say goodbye forever to what I’m calling “Crotchgate,” let me try to womansplain why so many of us went out of our minds over the Super Bowl halftime show. I shall now base my findings on science-ish. Which is like regular scientific data but with fewer boring parts. My findings are based entirely on comments made by my Facebook friends.

I realize this sounds nuttier than squirrel poo but you have to understand I got a bunch of Facebook friends—a maxxed-out 5,000 on my regular account and nearly 10,000 on my author page. This is not to brag (although, dayum!) but rather to let you know Crotchgate opinions are pretty much evenly divided in my fairly large sample. You can’t argue with science-ish.

This even split is like presidential polls except with body suits and pelvic thrusts. Crotchgate has divided us in ways we haven’t seen since, ohhhh, last week’s impeachment arguments.

Now the thing that surprised me most was the whole Commanders from Handmaid’s Tale vibe of many of the male commenters. They were shocked and offended by the gyrations of two uber fit goddesses, ages 50 and 43, amen.

My response to the menfolk is simple: What part of you doesn’t get that you don’t have the right to tell a woman how to dress/act/think/be? Those of you who ranted about the inappropriateness of scanty clothing and camera angles that revealed body parts you believe should only be revealed in the delivery room, just don’t have a dog in this fight.

Whining that your kids were traumatized (TRAUMATIZED!) was laughable. No chirren were injured in the making of that halftime spectacle. Unless you’ve raised some laboratory-distilled snowflake, that is. One only hopes you get half as wrought up when your precious spawn is happily blowing the heads off hookers in Grand Theft Auto every night.

So, in conclusion, shut up.

Now…the women. My sisteren, my posse, my people…My, Lord. What is wrong with almost exactly half of y’all?

JLo and Shakira, rather than being admired for their athleticism and dance skills are being blamed for promoting sex trafficking and child pornography and using twerking to destroy the feminist movement. More than a few Very Upset Feminists claimed these two entertainers at a football game had destroyed the entire #metoo movement. That’s just silly. Shinnying up that pole just proved these women had thighs strong enough to crack Harvey Weinstein’s bald head like a walnut. Good on ‘em.

The vitriol aimed at these women puzzles me. It’s not like they did something truly awful like invent kombucha.

From where I sit, not twerking or, TBH, even walking all that much in my sixth decade, I find it inspirational, heroic, even, to see these mature women embrace their sexy, athletic selves for what appears to be exactly half of a grateful nation. The rest of you preachers-in-Footloose can keep looking for dark motives and deviancy.

But what a joyless way to go through life.

Celia Rivenbark is a New York Times-bestselling author and columnist. To inquire about speaking engagements or to read previous columns visit www.celiarivenbark.com.  

Commentary, News

The week’s top stories on Policy Watch

1. NC judge scraps UNC‘s controversial “Silent Sam” settlement

An Orange County Superior Court Judge effectively scrapped the UNC System’s legal settlement with the NC Sons of Confederate Veterans Wednesday, saying the group had no legal standing to sue for ownership of the “Silent Sam” Confederate monument and a $2.5 million payment for its care.

Judge Allen Baddour initially signed off on the consent judgement in the case, but when the agreement was challenged by students, faculty and alumni he said he would take another look at the details of the case.

“If it was up to me, I’d burn it and see if you could get some money for the ore, then I’d fund some scholarships,” former U.S. Congressman Mel Watt, a UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus who was on hand for Wednesday’s pivotal ruling, told Policy Watch afterward. [Read more…]

2. N.C. is home to most conservative U.S. House lawmaker, new rankings show

WASHINGTON — North Carolina is home to the nation’s most conservative member of the U.S. House, according to a recent ranking of lawmakers’ 2019 legislative records.

GOP Rep. Mark Meadows of the 11th district in the western tip of the state earned a perfect score on the conservativeto-liberal scale, which was compiled by GovTrack.us, a nonpartisan organization that tracks government data and statistics.[Read more…]

3. Duke Energy says it will fully excavate coal ash from unlined ponds, but that won’t fix the legacy of contamination

This is the first in a series of stories about Duke Energy‘s closure plans for the ash basins at the remaining six plants in North Carolina.

The modern history of Duke Energy in North Carolina pivots on a single day: Feb. 2, 2014.

On that Sunday afternoon, a pipe collapsed at the utility’s coal-fired power plant in Eden, releasing at least 39,000 tons of ash and up to 27 million gallons of contaminated water into the Dan River, which carried the pollution flow at least 70 miles downstream.

The events of the last six years – court battles and public outrage, two Coal Ash Management Acts and recent EPA regulatory rollbacks, $68 million in criminal penalties and the tainted legacy of former Gov. Pat McCrory, ousted in part because of his mishandling of the disaster – have culminated in this: a historic consent order between the state and Duke Energy that requires the utility to fully excavate the remaining 80 million tons of ash from unlined pits at the remaining six plants. [Read more…]

4. PW profile: Deputy Juvenile Justice Secretary draws from painful personal past to help kids in the system succeed

When Billy Lassiter was 12 years old, he sat in the front row of one of his seventh grade classes surrounded by about 30 students who had their sights set on picking apart their substitute teacher’s strange dialect.

He still remembers that it was a Thursday afternoon; it was sixth period and at the end of the day, so the teacher was growing quite tired of the heckling. To try and deflect the negative attention, the teacher cracked a joke about Lassiter having Albinism, a genetic disorder that causes the skin, hair and eyes to have little or no color.

“That led to other kids in the class jumping onto that, of course,” Lassiter said. “Because he had started it, he couldn’t really control it after that point. For like 10 minutes, it was just kids joking about me. You can take so much, but I got to the point where I just couldn’t take it anymore. My reaction was just to get up and get out of there, and I thought I would make it out before I started to cry, but I didn’t quite make it out that door before that happened.” [Read more…]

5. Superintendent Mark Johnson hit with ethics complaint over email, text message blasts

A language arts teacher from Charlotte has filed a complaint with the N.C. Ethics Commission over email and text messages State Superintendent Mark Johnson sent to educators and parents asking them to take an online survey about Common Core standards.

Justin Parmenter, a frequent critic of the superintendent who blogs at Notes from the Chalkboard, contends the messages were politically motivated. He said they were sent to aid Johnson in his bid to become the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor.

“Mark Johnson’s fake Common Core outrage message to hundreds of thousands of parents and educators is nothing more than an attempt to swing uninformed voters his way in the primary for Lieutenant Governor,” Parmenter said. “It’s unethical for any elected official to use state resources for personal gain.” [Read more…]

6. Perfecting corruption: Latest campaign news shows how far and fast our politics have fallen    (Commentary)

As time goes by, it becomes increasingly difficult to believe that President Richard Nixon was forced to resign from office – ultimately by his fellow Republicans – because of his corrupt political acts and those of his aides.

For instance, one of the key (and at the time shocking) revelations of the Watergate investigation was that the 1972 Nixon reelection campaign (which came to be known by the highly appropriate moniker of “CREEP”) had employed a “dirty tricks” unit. Led by the infamous Donald Segretti, a small group of Republican loyalists did their worst to spy on perceived opponents and disrupt the campaigns of Democratic candidates by spreading lies and misinformation about concocted sexual misdeeds and other invented transgressions.

Such political dirty tricks – what the Nixon people called “ratf***ing” – were, of course, hardly unprecedented in American politics or the exclusive province of Republicans. [Read more...]

7. Greg Lindberg, the man who knew too many (Commentary)
How Lindberg’s ties to Dan Forest, and a whole lot of others, expose the holes in our ethics, election laws

For a man who knew everybody, Greg Lindberg might seem in the coming days like a man who knew nobody.

And at this point, perhaps he doesn’t.

Lindberg, the indicted financier tied up in a widening bribery scandal, is so intimate with federal investigators’ sonorous tones and heavy breathing upon his shoulder he can tell you what their agents had for lunch (my guess is roasted chicken, white rice, steamed cauliflower and a half-gallon of black coffee; these are not the sort to dally with extraneous carbs). [Read more…]

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News

Duke students to protest John Bolton talk on campus Monday

Duke University students will rally Monday to protest an event featuring John Bolton, the former United States Ambassador and Trump administration National Security Advisor whose forthcoming book is said to reveal damning details about the Trump presidency.

Bolton will be interviewed on stage at Page Auditorium as part of the school’s Program in American Grand Strategy. The conversation, which will begin at 5:30 p.m., is expected to explore Bolton’s experiences as part of the presidential administrations of presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Donald Trump.

The student rally will begin at 5 p.m. at Duke Chapel, which is adjacent to the auditorium.

“As a Duke student, I’m ashamed that my campus would honor Bolton, who has long made a career of not only undermining but actively violating international and human rights law, causing untold suffering worldwide,” said Aman Aberra, a graduate student at Duke, in a press release on the rally this week.

Students say they oppose Bolton’s role in vetoing U.N. resolutions critical of alleged Israeli human rights abuses and participation in efforts to violently overthrow regimes in Iran and North Korea as well as obstructing investigations into alleged war crimes by American troops in Iraq.

“John Bolton’s portrayal of Islam as dangerous to and incompatible with the U.S. has made so many Muslims vulnerable to acts of violence. Bringing him to campus wholly neglects our experiences reminds us of the trauma we continue to face as a consequence of his actions.,” said Musa Saleem, a junior at Duke, in this week’s release on the rally.

“Bolton’s continued defense of the Iraq War and his escalating campaign for war in Iran reflect his deeply Islamaphobic ideology which frames the Muslim world as irrational, barbaric, and in need of Western intervention and control,” Duke student Victoria Verzi said in the same release. “If Duke really has ‘high ethical standards,’ as our mission statement says, we should not be hosting someone with these deeply racist views who’s never faced accountability for his war crimes.”

Education

Superintendent Mark Johnson hit with ethics complaint over email, text message blasts

Charlotte educator Justin Parmenter shows ethics complaint letter on his Facebook page.

A language arts teacher from Charlotte has filed a complaint with the N.C. Ethics Commission over email and text messages State Superintendent Mark Johnson sent to educators and parents asking them to take an online survey about Common Core standards.

Justin Parmenter, a frequent critic of the superintendent who blogs at Notes from the Chalkboard, contends the messages were politically motivated. He said they were sent to aid Johnson in his bid to become the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor.

“Mark Johnson’s fake Common Core outrage message to hundreds of thousands of parents and educators is nothing more than an attempt to swing uninformed voters his way in the primary for Lieutenant Governor,” Parmenter said. “It’s unethical for any elected official to use state resources for personal gain.”

Parmenter said he believes as many as 10 other people filed complaints against Johnson on Thursday. He expects more people to do so over the next few days.

Chelsea Bartel, a school psychologist who lives in Durham, confirmed that she was among those who filed a complaint on Thursday.

“I believe Mr. [Mark] Johnson’s mass email and text sending on Feb. 11 constitutes a violate of the State Government Ethic Act, specially the part that prohibits use of public position for private gain,” Bartel said.

Bartel was also critical of the quality of the survey, contending it would have never been approved by school districts for research purposes.

She noted that the Wake County Public School System requires research studies to be approved by a federally approved Institutional Review Board. Such studies must also be reviewed by the Office of Data and Accountability, Bartel added.

“Having access to hundreds of thousands of North Carolina citizens’ personal phone numbers and email addresses, as Mr. [Mark] Johnson does, is not reason enough for using that access to conduct research that has not in any way been vetted,” Bartel said.

Johnson reportedly sent 540,000 text messages and 800,000 email messages to parents and teachers asking to them take the five-question, online survey.

Policy Watch was unable to reach N.C. Department of Public Instruction spokesman Graham Wilson for comment late Thursday afternoon.

But Wilson told The News & Observer the ethics complaints are another “disingenuous attempt to discredit Johnson’s efforts to listen to actual parents and teachers, instead of Elitist Insiders.”

Johnson’s text messages and emails received an avalanche of criticism on social media Tuesday shortly after he sent them to educators and parents.

“Shame on you for a disgraceful political stunt,” retired educator Phyllis Eubank West wrote on Johnson’s Facebook page. “If you were so interested curriculum, you would have initiated surveys etc. 3 years ago and not 3 weeks before a primary. BTW, the survey is poorly designed.”

In his message to teachers and parents, Johnson said he is opposed to Common Core. If elected lieutenant governor, he could work from that post to rid the state of Common Core because he would serve on the State Board of Education.

“Opposition to Common Core from educators and parents is what I hear about the most across our state,” Johnson said in the statement. “I strongly disagreed with the State Board of Education’s decision to keep Common Core in place in 2017. But now there’s a clear path we can replicate in North Carolina to remove Common Core, and I encourage the State Board to closely examine this new option with us.”

The clear path Johnson mentioned runs through Florida. That state eliminated Common Core last week.

The State Board of Education in Florida on Wednesday adopted new Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking (B.E.S.T.) Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics to replace Common Core.

The new standards will apply to students in grades K-2 beginning with the 2021-2022 school year. They will apply to all students the following year.

News

As Senate moves to curb President’s war powers, Burr and Tillis side with Trump

In a rare move of bipartisanship, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution Thursday that direct the removal of “United States Armed Forces from hostilities against the Islamic Republic of Iran that have not been authorized by Congress.”

The 55-45 vote came weeks after a drone strike killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani,a top Iranian official.

Virginia Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) who introduced the resolution in early January said it was intended to serve as a strong bipartisan message, that senators were committed to upholding their “constitutional duty to deliberate and vote before sending troops into harm’s way.”

Eight Republicans joined Senate Democrats in voting to restrain President Trump.

  • Alexander (R-TN)

    Sen. Thom Tillis, left, and Sen. Richard Burr, right

  • Cassidy (R-LA)
  • Collins (R-ME)
  • Lee (R-UT)
  • Moran (R-KS)
  • Murkowski (R-AK)
  • Paul (R-KY)
  • Young (R-IN)

North Carolina Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr voted against the measure to curtail Trump’s authority in taking military action against Iran.