Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


THANKS TO GERRYMANDERING, POLICY STAKES IN NC ARE BIGGER THAN THEY OUGHT TO BE: Because of partisan gerrymandering, the question this fall is not whether the ebbs and flows of politics, voter turnout, and the news cycle will cause the state legislature to swing slightly Republican or slightly Democratic; it is whether those factors will lead to massive Republican supermajorities or merely ones akin to those they currently enjoy. If the GOP somehow manages to acquire three-fifths supermajorities in both houses by adding just two seats in the Senate and three in the House, its members will be able to override any vetoes issued by Gov. Roy Cooper and thereby completely control state lawmaking. This means that North Carolina could quickly shift from being a state in which abortion care remains safe, legal, and pretty widely available – both to pregnant North Carolinians and those from nearby states like Georgia and Tennessee where such care is completely banned – to one in which it is punishable as a crime. It means that modest remaining state controls over firearms will likely be repealed. It means that efforts to further micromanage public school teachers over issues like race and U.S. history, and to further expand school privatization, will likely become law. It means that local sheriffs will likely be required – even where they object – to become more actively involved in the immigration enforcement business. It means that new efforts to limit the rights of transgender people will likely find their way into state law. It means that efforts to limit carbon pollution likely be stymied. And if the state Supreme Court shifts from the current narrow 4-3 Democratic majority to GOP control, it means that all manner of new and dramatic changes subject to constitutional review will soon be wending their way through the judiciary in search of approval from a new and conservative high court majority. And this will almost certainly include a new round of even more gerrymandered legislative and congressional maps. This is not hyperbole, and it's not the entire list of dangerous policies that would be put in place. These are just the ones we can reasonably predict, and that should scare the hell out of you.

LEARNING TO DEAL WITH GRIEF: First off, your grief is yours – no one else’s. Somehow our silly little brains can make us feel like we’re an imposter to our own emotions. However you feel your grief is valid, and it’s important to allow yourself to feel it however strongly you need to. I’m a big crier and spent a lot of time invalidating myself after the death of my grandmother. I told myself that it was too dramatic to cry as much as I did over a grandparent. If you cry a lot, or not at all, the way you feel grief is uniquely yours. There’s no right way to grieve. There’s no set timeline for healing. And truth be told, it never goes away. I will carry the loss of my grandmother with me for the rest of my life. But day by day, it gets easier to manage. Some days are harder than others, but healing happens every day. You can't ever fully get over grief, but you learn to get on with it, moving forward rather than moving on. Figure out how you can express your grief, whether it’s through art, music or writing. I’ve found that talking about my grandmother with another person is how I best express and process my grief. I love telling people about my grandmother because it gives me a chance every day to think of her, even if it makes me sad. After my parents passed away, something strange happened to me: I began to dream about them frequently, something I rarely did when they were still alive. By and large these are good dreams, and they are not memories of things we did together, but new things. Traveling to places, and family get-togethers. And usually it's one-on-one, not them as a "couple," which I find comforting. They are still with me.

THE GOP IS NOT INTERESTED IN HERSCHEL WALKER'S "CHARACTER": Walker’s former wife has alleged domestic violence; he has children born out of wedlock, and although Walker opposes abortion under any circumstances, a former girlfriend says that he paid for her abortion. These concerns are not new, but Walker, as least until recently, has not faced up to them. According to an October 14 article in The New York Times, Walker “privately denied the abortion, but instead of discussing a strategy to handle the claim, he maintained that the details would never become public. At times he would argue that if his ex-girlfriend’s account did leak out, it would not be believed because he had a child with the woman, according to the two people, who spoke on condition of anonymity.” Before the Republican primary in Georgia, pro-life Republicans like Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition and a former state party chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, explained Walker’ s appeal. “If your name is Herschel Walker, and you’re a pro-life conservative, with his name ID, celebrity and impressive fund-raising ability, the primary was over the day he entered the race.” Once Walker won the primary, pro-life Republicans such as Reed continued or enhanced their support for Walker even though his alleged activities conflicted with their values. For instance, last week Walker’s son, Christian Walker wrote on his Twitter account to accuse his father of being a hypocrite and a liar, “He has four kids, four different women, wasn’t in the house raising one of them. He was out having sex with other women. Do you care about Christian values?” he asked and then concluded. “I’m done, done. Everything has been a lie.” Why are people like Reed overlooking Walker’s multiple character problems? After the lionization of a scoundrel like Donald Trump, you shouldn't even ask such a question. The GOP's base either a) doesn't really care about the morals, integrity, or character of their candidates, or b) they secretly admire misogynistic, womanizing celebrities like Trump and Walker. In other words, that base is teeming with hypocrites.

WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER: I was born in 1995, so depending on where you look, I am either categorized as a young millennial or an old member of Gen Z. Older generations are constantly discussing the work ethic of people around my age, and although I agree that, generally speaking, we don’t want to exist in the work environments our predecessors had, it doesn’t mean we don’t want to work at all. We just don’t want to work the way people have in the past, and it mostly has to do with the effect we have seen it take on the older people in our lives. From my understanding, Millennials and Gen Z want to contribute to society, just not in a way that requires us to neglect our families and work ourselves to the point of constant mental and physical exhaustion the way our parents and grandparents had to. Today’s youth are far from lazy. Our K-12 schooling is more rigorous than any generation that came before us, and it has to be, given the technological advancements made in the past several decades. School-aged children are learning more advanced concepts earlier due to the sheer amount of material that has to be covered. Inflation and the ever-rising cost of living require many young adults to work multiple jobs simply to make ends meet. Attending college, as we’ve been encouraged to do our whole lives, is exponentially more expensive than it was for previous generations. This makes our loans astronomical, and interest rates have ensured that paying off your debt is a nearly impossible feat. Even when we do graduate with a bachelor’s degree, it’s still difficult to find a job in our fields. It seems like a bachelor’s degree today is what a high school diploma was in the 80s and 90s as most companies are searching for candidates with master’s degrees, even for entry-level jobs. Even more outrageous, the monetary compensation being offered doesn’t match the level of skill and knowledge they are requiring as a minimum. This is not to try to invalidate the struggles that older generations faced as young adults. Rather, it is simply to emphasize that while technology has made life easier in some ways, it has also made other things harder for today’s young people than they have ever been previously. Hearing many older people discount the difficulties we face is disheartening, to say the least, as we struggle to navigate society, the economy, world health crises, personal health crises, and the constantly fluctuating job and housing markets. Rather than being so harshly criticized, it would be nice to receive validation and words of encouragement. It would be nicer still for certain members of older generations to understand that life is not a competition in which we determine who had it hardest. I hear you, Sara, and agree. Especially considering it's mostly Boomers and GenX who are flogging the real estate industry so hard and causing sky-high rents and mortgages.

HERE'S A BETTER WAY TO SLOW THE ECONOMY: Sebastian Mallaby argued in his Oct. 14 column, “Why the Fed must double down against inflation,” that the Federal Reserve should continue to hike interest rates because “however real the risk of excess tightening, the opposite risk is scarier.” He’s dead wrong. The risk of tightening too fast is huge. The last time the Fed tightened this fast, in the early 1980s under Paul Volcker, it plunged the economy into a deep recession. There’s a lag time between when the Fed raises rates and when those rates slow the economy, so it’s important for the Fed to pause now and see whether it’s doing more good than harm. Even if the Fed’s rate hikes slow the economy, it’s far from clear they’ll have much impact on inflation. The current inflation is worldwide, mainly because of global post-pandemic demand outrunning post-pandemic supplies. (Energy and food prices are up partly because of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine; component costs are higher because of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s lockdowns.) It’s also because of big corporations raising prices to maintain near-record profits, even where their own costs are starting to fall. Fed rate hikes won’t affect these forces unless they bring the U.S. economy to a crawl, by which time their human cost will be overwhelming. Better to wait out the global supply shocks and deal with corporate power with a temporary windfall profits tax and more vigorous antitrust enforcement. For those who didn't see this on WaPo's editorial page, it's because they relegated it to the LTE section. Robert Reich and their readership deserve better.


JEAN PUDLO: A BIG "YES" ON SOLAR POWER!: We must turn away from carbon as an energy source in the next few decades. Solar will be a large and important part of that, as well as wind and some nuclear (because the sun doesn’t always shine). While solar farms provide a good concentration of solar energy while taking up no more than 1% of agricultural land, there is plenty of developed land that also could be used for solar installations. Imagine the Greensboro Coliseum parking lot covered with solar panels — that could also shade our cars in the summer heat. Schools (we’re building a lot of new ones soon in Guilford County), warehouses and office buildings all potentially could be sites. But Duke Energy finds it easier to buy from solar fields, and it limits how much solar is allowed on top of a building based on just that building’s usage. What if buildings could install solar that meets their own needs and contributes power to the rest of the state too? There are lots of ways we can increase renewable energy. Learn about Duke’s draft carbon plan and let them know they could do more renewable energy than their plan proposes at What Jean said. NC's Solar PV generation has come a long way in the 15 years since our REPS was put in place, but we're still just scratching the surface of what we could be generating. Full (not steam) ahead.

LLOYD TRUFELMAN: WE NEED TO INVEST IN LOCAL NEWS: Perry Bacon Jr.’s call in his Oct. 18 Tuesday Opinion column, “America should invest billions in local news,” for the United States to spend billions to revive local news is timely and important. With news deserts spreading nationwide, a lack of access to credible and comprehensive local news undermines democracy, whose foundation rests on an informed populace. Mr. Bacon’s suggestion to allocate more funding to existing public radio (and television) stations would indeed be the fastest and easiest way to establish robust local news operations in all 435 congressional districts. With a new chair recently elected, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting now has an opportunity, if not an obligation, to address the local news crisis that is pulling Americans apart by making the preservation and expansion of local news its No. 1 institutional priority and strategic objective. Expanding the mission of public media beyond general broadcasting to multiplatform local online news offers an opportunity for NPR and PBS stations to grow and diversify their audiences, attract additional revenue and update their mission to solve a contemporary problem for which they are uniquely well qualified. The nonprofit, publicly funded model for public broadcasting has delivered demonstrable results for decades and could do the same for local news. I endorse this message. PBS and NPR are the only ones I trust to fix this issue.

ERICA GALLEGOS AND ANDREA POLUSO: FIXING CHILD CARE WON'T BE EASY: The Oct. 12 editorial on child care accurately identified the long-brewing crisis in child care. But as leaders in the child-care movement — and as parents — we know that piecemeal solutions will not suffice. Child care is a vital piece of our collective infrastructure that allows parents — especially moms and people of color — to work, engage in civic life and contribute to our communities. To create a system that works for everyone, we must recognize child care as the public good that it is and invest in it accordingly. Children and families need stable care that meets their needs and is not tied to employers or employment. Providers, who are overwhelmingly women of color with their own children, need wages that sustain their families. We agree that states should follow the lead of New Mexico to develop creative ways to fund and revitalize child care locally. However, Congress must also make significant and sustained investments to finally build a child-care system that works for our country’s families, providers and economy. Parents and providers are stretched beyond their limits. It’s time to invest in transformational changes to our child-care system that will advance racial and gender justice nationwide. For those older readers who don't have the context, this is a huge problem. My daughter and SIL have been paying over $1,200 per month for one child to go to daycare so they can work, and now they have a second child entering the system. The private sector is not capable of reversing this trend, government *must* step up.



Vote for one?

The last time I ran for office (Alderman), I noticed something strange when the results came in. The total number of votes did not match the total number of voters. At least not in how many votes could have been cast. It's a seemingly new trend, and one that cost me dearly. My initial reaction was anger, but in reality, it's a legitimate choice for voters. Let me explain...

When you have a list of candidates, and you are told, "You may vote for 3," pay close attention to the "may." You don't have to choose 3, you can vote for only 1. Or 2. You are not "throwing away" the votes you don't cast, and you may actually be boosting the one(s) you do cast. Because you are taking away a vote that could bump your favorite candidate down a notch, into the "lost" column.

This is especially critical in non-partisan races, where political party is not mentioned, and you may be missing some critical information. Like School Board races, which this year are more critical than ever.

Thanks to Art Pope's puppets for supplying a list of candidates you should definitely *not* vote for. In Orange County, that would be Bethni Lee, Penny Carter King, and Anne Purcell. In Wake County, they are Cheryl Caulfield, Wing Ng, Patrice Nealon, Jacob Arthur, and Steve Bergstrom.

Stay Woke, folks, and don't vote for any Republicans, whether they own up to it or not.