Commentary

McCain’s scathing assessment of Trump in Helsinki: “disgraceful,” “low point in the history of the American presidency”

Sen. John McCain

Be sure to check out today’s lead editorial in the Fayetteville Observer, which consists mostly of a statement issued yesterday by Senator John McCain regarding President Trump’s astonishing behavior in Helsinki.

Here are some McCain quotes excerpted from “An American president debases himself, his office and his country“:

“Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.

“President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin. He and Putin seemed to be speaking from the same script as the president made a conscious choice to defend a tyrant against the fair questions of a free press, and to grant Putin an uncontested platform to spew propaganda and lies to the world.

“It is tempting to describe the press conference as a pathetic rout — as an illustration of the perils of under-preparation and inexperience. But these were not the errant tweets of a novice politician. These were the deliberate choices of a president who seems determined to realize his delusions of a warm relationship with Putin’s regime without any regard for the true nature of his rule, his violent disregard for the sovereignty of his neighbors, his complicity in the slaughter of the Syrian people, his violation of international treaties, and his assault on democratic institutions throughout the world.

“Coming close on the heels of President Trump’s bombastic and erratic conduct towards our closest friends and allies in Brussels and Britain, today’s press conference marks a recent low point in the history of the American Presidency. That the president was attended in Helsinki by a team of competent and patriotic advisors makes his blunders and capitulations all the more painful and inexplicable.

“No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant. Not only did President Trump fail to speak the truth about an adversary; but speaking for America to the world, our president failed to defend all that makes us who we are — a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and abroad. American presidents must be the champions of that cause if it is to succeed. Americans are waiting and hoping for President Trump to embrace that sacred responsibility. One can only hope they are not waiting totally in vain.”

Commentary

DPI insider posts another takedown of the agency and its support of school privatization

A North Carolina Department of Public Instruction insider who has been speaking out on the Caffeinated Rage blog of Forsyth County schoolteacher Stuart Egan has another damning assessment of Superintendent Mark Johnson and the ongoing effort of conservatives to privatize North Carolina’s public schools. The comment was posted early this morning on a post by Egan entitled “‘Nearly 1 in 5 NC students are opting out of traditional public schools’ – And It’s a Deliberate Plan.”

In his excellent post, Egan lifts up a recent news story and an editorial in Raleigh’s News & Observer on the subject and goes on to explain in straightforward terms how the privatization scheme is being implemented and who the actors are that are behind it.

Here is the comment that the insider — who identifies themselves as “ncdpivet” — posted in response:

“This is so spot on. Everyone should translate ‘choice’ into ‘undermining of public schools’, because that is exactly what it is. The most sickening part is how low-income families and those of children with disabilities have been targeted, cajoled, hoodwinked and bamboozled into believing that choice automatically equates to quality. (Anyone who considers themselves conservative should be outraged at this profound misuse of their tax dollars.)

Unfortunately, I get to witness this erosion and implosion every day at DPI. I just met another of my colleagues whose job was eliminated by the General Assembly’s draconian cuts and our puppet superintendent’s ‘just following orders’ approach. It was so sad to see this person, who was providing passionate, competent and knowledgeable support to eastern NC schools trying mightily to serve their markedly low-income populations, tossed aside in this ponzi scheme to dangle ‘school choice’ in front of needy families. It’s like eliminating the road crew that is fixing potholes and cracks on I-95 and using the public’s money to build a flimsy expensive two-lane highway right next to it that has no markings, guardrails, speed limits or enforcement (with full kickbacks going to the private paving company). ‘Hey mom and dad — let your kids ride on this shiny new road because you’ll have a choice, and we all know choice is better!’

EdNC put out an excellent article a few days ago: https://www.ednc.org/2018/07/11/steep-cuts-to-north-carolinas-education-agency-hurt-low-performing-schools-the-most/. It perfectly spells out the absurdity in our agency and our feckless leadership. We’re told ‘shh, be quiet; this is a sensitive time’ for all our colleagues who were laid off, when in reality there should be a loud leader fighting for his folks every step of the way, even if the jobs could not be saved. You see, that’s how the damage really occurs here in our agency — not by vocal or visible action of those who ultimately have to answer to their supervisor every day, month and year, but by the SILENCE and joint inaction of the only ones in the agency who AREN’T supervised. The superintendent has no official boss and writes no annual work plan like the rest of us; instead, he gets a four-year ride and won’t have a whiff of accountability for another two and half years, long after the damage has been done. Meanwhile, scores of good people continue to walk out the door, either voluntarily or involuntarily, and the Public Schools of North Carolina will continue to suffer for it.”

Commentary

Editorials excoriate Trump’s traitorous behavior

Editorials across the country are expressing outrage this morning at Donald Trump’s shameful kowtowing to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. As a Capitol Broadcasting Company editorial on WRAL.com put it:

“Acknowledging President Trump’s disastrous performance on the most prominent of international stages doesn’t require a partisan political perspective or ideological leaning. It is simply the ability to love a country that nurtures freedom over fear, participation over suppression and truth over propagandistic lies.

President Trump had the chance to show leadership, true guts and patriotism. Instead he wallowed in self-interest.

It was almost unimaginable. Standing beside the world’s foremost dictator, we witnessed an American president who wilted, and was limp and spineless.”

This is from an editorial in the Charlotte Observer entitled “Donald Trump’s disgraceful bow to Russia”:

“Donald Trump’s meeting Monday with Russian president Vladimir Putin was historic in all the wrong ways. It featured an American president siding with an enemy of the U.S. over his administration and intelligence officials. It was the first time in memory a president was this deferential, this weak, in the presence of an adversary.

If there was a bright side, it’s this: It might be the only way for some Americans to understand just how alarmed they should be about their president’s perspective on Russia….

Some Republicans in Congress were more tepid – Thom Tillis and Richard Burr focused their criticism on Russia and not Trump in statements late Monday. Most Republicans said nothing.

That’s almost as unconscionable. We don’t know if Trump’s performance at Monday’s news conference was a weak attempt at diplomacy or perhaps vanity about his 2016 election victory. We do think it’s reckless to suggest at this point, as Democratic leaders did later Monday, that Russia must have compromising info on our president.

But Donald Trump again gave Vladimir Putin a pass Monday for what amounts to an act of war. It’s time more Republicans started saying so.”

“It remains a mystery why the president, unlike any of his Republican or Democratic predecessors, is unwilling to call out Russian perfidy. He has no trouble throwing his weight around when he is in the company of America’s European allies, attacking them as deadbeats and the European Union as a ‘foe,’ or when he excoriates the news media as ‘enemies of the people.’ Put him next to Mr. Putin and other dictators, and he turns to putty.

All that’s clear is that a president who is way out of his depth is getting America into deep trouble.”

Meanwhile, the Winston-Salem Journal and Greensboro News & Record twins called on GOP members of congress to “stand up to Trump”:

“Sen. Thom Tillis late Monday issued a statement that decried Putin and Russia as adversaries but ignored Trump and the investigation. As of late Monday afternoon, Reps. Mark Walker, Virginia Foxx and Ted Budd, our other people in Washington, had said nothing, even as numerous members of Congress were asking questions and refuting what the president’s play-nice-with-Russia words implied.

Tillis showed some admirable backbone a couple of months ago when he sought in futility to protect Mueller’s role. Walker on Friday tweeted about the indictments but not the president. And that’s it.

Burr has done his piece and offered his insight. He is retiring in 2022. Tillis, Walker. Foxx and Budd have an option: They can line up behind the president’s unnecessary undermining of this investigation or speak out against him to protect the national interest. Even lame duck House Speaker Paul Ryan said on Monday that Trump ‘must appreciate that Russia is not our ally.’ Couldn’t Tillis, Walker, Foxx and Budd just once suggest the same thing? Couldn’t they represent our needs and not the president’s misplaced metaphors — and allegiances?”

Commentary

Columnist debunks myth-making by Forest, Troxler on industrial hog farms

Be sure to check out columnist Ned Barnett’s latest entry in this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer in which he debunks the dishonest politicizing/pandering in which Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler have been engaged of late on the subject of industrialized hog farming.

This is from Barnett’s column (“A contrived rally can not mask the hog industry’s real stink in NC”):

“A prime example of phony victimization could be found Tuesday at a rally in Duplin County. That’s where backers of the hog industry turned out small farmers and residents to protest nuisance lawsuits against industrial hog farms.

Gathering folks in jeans with signs reading “I’m a fan of NC family farms” is part of an effort by Republican lawmakers and officials to cast the nuisance suits as an attack on small farmers. But the lawsuits aren’t aimed at family farmers growing soybeans, corn and sweet potatoes. They’re aimed at a Chinese-owned multinational corporation, Smithfield Foods, which is content to treat swaths of eastern North Carolina as cesspools until it’s forced to do otherwise.”

After explaining how juries have been ruling against Smithfield in a series of nuisance lawsuits because if its irresponsible behavior toward its neighbors and that GOP legislators have been trying to insulate hog producers from such suits, Barnett concludes this way:

“Forest put on his populist hat to talk to the farmers’ rally about the evils of ‘big money.’

‘This is one of those times in the history of North Carolina farmers where you have to say enough is enough,’ Forest said. ‘When we have big-money, out-of-state trial lawyers ginning up plaintiffs around your farms and around your communities so that they can come in and sue you, so they put you out of business and they make millions of dollars doing it, that’s not right. That’s not fair, and that’s not something we should tolerate in North Carolina.’

Forest is right about one thing. It is one of those times in the history of North Carolina when people have to say enough is enough. The degradation of eastern North Carolina by industrialized hog farming has been going for decades. The industry refuses to invest in technology that could greatly reduce the nasty smell and pollution. Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers are are creating an unseemly order of their own by lining up to protect the industry from being held accountable in the courts.

If the hog industry wants to stop nuisance lawsuits it should stop being a nuisance. Until then, voters should toss out the industry’s protectors in the legislature and continue to bring on those ‘big-money, out-of-state lawyers’.”

Commentary

Op-ed exposes the dishonesty behind voter ID amendment

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the Rev. Dr. Earl Johnson’s op-ed in this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer. In “Voter ID on the N.C. ballot is about suppression, not fraud,” Johnson does a great job of summing up what’s really behind the proposed constitutional amendment planned for the November ballot and why it should be rejected. Here’s the fine conclusion:

“The assumption that voters will agree to have a voter ID requirement enshrined in the North Carolina Constitution is based on questionable premises.

For one, it assumes that the majority of voters think there is widespread voter fraud. Most do not. The evidence shows that there is no widespread voter fraud in the state. In 2016, only one case of voter fraud was discovered.

Second, putting a voter ID law on the ballot supposes that this is the will of the people. We know this is not true. The vast majority of North Carolinians are satisfied with voting the way it is now. Why spend tax dollars trying to fix something that is not broken? The only plausible answer is that the Republican legislative leaders, desperate to remain in power, are willing to suppress and disenfranchise minority groups that typically vote Democratic.

Anyone who is willing to suppress the votes of an entire population, whose slave ancestors labored from sun up to sundown for nearly 300 years to make America great, must be extremely power hungry. To deny one’s fellow citizens full participation in the voting process without a reasonable explanation – and no explanation is reasonable in this effort – can only be seen as a way to rig the system for political gain. It is my belief that such a scheme will not be supported by fair-minded voters.

Tampering with the state Constitution for political gain is dangerous and threatening. Only a handful of states that have tried this tactic have been successful. Further, if this proposed amendment is added to the state Constitution, what will those who want to curtail the rights of others add next?

Another faulty premise is that everyone can easily obtain an ID card. Republican lawmakers want voters to trust that once the amendment is passed they will impose fair requirements for what is an acceptable form of voter ID. The problem is that they have demonstrated time and time again that they can’t be trusted. Who’s to say that a driver’s license will even be accepted?

The issue is not about preventing fraud. It’s about preventing voting. It’s another way to discriminate against the very people who have been called upon again and again to make North Carolina the great state that it is. It is an attempt at promoting white privilege while demoting the privileges and rights of others.

Nonetheless, I have great faith in the people that they will reject this kind of political gamesmanship. My faith is that they won’t do the dirty work for repressive legislators and disenfranchise the people they have grown to respect and appreciate. Voters must ask themselves, is this act morally justified? And the reality is that it is not.”