Author

Commentary

Death penaltyToday’s exoneration of Joseph Sledge after 36 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit gives rise to one overriding question today:

How many more men wrongfully convicted and imprisoned (or even sent to Death Row) is it going to take before the stubborn defenders of the death penalty in North Carolina finally admit that it is simply impossible to impose such a punishment in a fair and foolproof way?

Unless one simply goes along with the mind-boggling and terrifying position of Antonin Scalia that there is nothing wrong or unconstitutional  with executing a person “who had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a court that he is ‘actually’ innocent,” any honest person must simply admit that the time has finally come to end the death penalty once and for all.

Commentary

Climate change - droughtThe good people at the Center for American Progress have released a new and sobering set of fact sheets documenting the abysmal state of climate change denial in Washington. Sadly, several members of North Carolina’s congressional delegation are “recognized” for being on record in support of the denial efforts. The list includes: Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis and Representatives Virginia Foxx, Richard Hudson, Walter Jones, Robert Pittenger, David Rouzer and Mark Walker (as well as Gov. Pat McCrory).

This is, of course, a tragic and maddening state of affairs given the the fact that ninety-seven percent of climate scientists (as well as several fossil fuel companies!) agree that current human activity is contributing to the warming atmosphere and causing the global climate to change.

Unfortunately, as the fact sheets note, North Carolina’s denier delegation is far from alone:

  • One hundred sixty-nine Republicans in the 114th Congress are on record questioning or denying the science behind climate change.
  • Fifty-three percent—or 131 members—of the House Republican caucus question or deny the science behind climate change.
  • Seventy percent—or 38 members—of the Senate Republican caucus question or deny the science behind climate change.

Click here to see the North Carolina fact sheet and the disturbing documentation with respect to each of our head-in-the-sand lawmakers.

Commentary
Paul Stam 2

State Rep. Paul Stam

If you had any hopes that this year’s version of the North Carolina General Assembly would be less reactionary than the last two, these should have been quickly dashed in recent days by the announcement that the 2015 session will commence its substantive work next Wednesday with a “briefing” on a bill to sanction and promote discrimination against the state’s LGBT population.

The proposal comes, of course, from that irrepressible foe of tolerance and modernity, Rep. Paul Stam of Wake County — a man who has devoted the lion’s share of his years in elected office to advancing a narrow and backward-looking social agenda. Under this latest proposal, Stam would attempt to allow registers of deeds and magistrates to opt out of serving LGBT citizens seeking marriage licenses if doing so “would violate their core religious beliefs.” No word yet on whether Stam would allow similar treatment of officials with “religious” objections to interracial marriage.

Happily, there is a deep and growing wellspring of opposition to Stam’s sham. Chris Sgro of Equality NC does a fine job of explaining this opposition on the editorial page of this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer. Here is an excerpt: Read More

Commentary

There’s a simple reason that the Pope-Civitas Institute (an organization that was founded by one of the state’s richest and most powerful men and named after his father) still struggles to be taken seriously in the North Carolina policy debate after years of effort, even in the current hard right political environment — namely, the low quality of the content it regularly produces.

New confirmation of this fact is on full display today in the group’s latest below-the-belt attack on the President of the North Carolina NAACP, Rev. William Barber.

Of course, scurrilous Civitas attacks on Barber are nothing especially new. Every few months, it seems, the group finds some out-of-date and unflattering photo of Barber to marry with some laughable implication that Barber is somehow enriching himself with public funds. Remember the downright offensive “Money Monday” baloney from a couple of years back? As we explained at the time:

“…it’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry at the utter disconnection from reality that these libelous attacks bespeak.

On the one hand, they are just so downright (and comically) crude and ham-fisted that you almost have to cringe in embarrassment for the Pope-Civitas people. Seriously, the notion that giant organizations with proud histories like the NAACP, AARP and the YWCA are protesting the myriad regressive actions of the 2013 General Assembly because some branch happens to administer a few thousand dollars in public funds is just so patently absurd that it’s hard to believe that a supposedly serious group – a group nervy enough to describe itself as “North Carolina’s Conservative Voice” – would stoop to allege it.

Similarly, to imply that Rev. William Barber – a courageous man who works night and day at enormous personal sacrifice, physical pain and even personal risk; a man who directs a tiny paid staff and who has, for years, tirelessly traveled the length and breadth if the state in an old minivan to help countless underdog causes – is doing what he is doing in order to advance his own personal financial agenda, is just so utterly wrong and, for lack of a better word, malicious that it must render any fair-minded observer virtually speechless.”

Now, Pope-Civitas is at it again — trying to manufacture a controversy out of whole cloth over the fact that Barber serves as the unpaid chair of the the board of a Goldsboro nonprofit that receives Department of Public Instruction funds (via a competitive grant process) to help serve low and moderate income families (irrespective of their religious beliefs) and promote community economic development.

Read More

Commentary

windJust in from the good people the N.C. Chapter of the Sierra Club:

North Carolina Moves One Step Closer to Offshore Wind Development

RALEIGH – Earlier today, the US Department of the Interior announced that it has released an Environmental Assessment that supports the potential lease sale for more than 300,000 acres off the coast of North Carolina for wind energy development.

The possibility of offshore wind development for the state intensified after a study by UNC Chapel Hill researchers found that potential wind resources off our coast were the largest on the Atlantic seaboard. A report by Governor Perdue’s Scientific Advisory Panel on Offshore Energy came to a similar conclusion in 2011.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will accept public comment for 30 days starting on January 31, and will host three public meetings in coastal communities during that time.

After the announcement, Zak Keith, lead organizer for the NC Sierra Club issued the following statement:

It’s clear that offshore wind is a better option than drilling off our coast. Read More