Friday, July 12, 2013

'All The News That Is (Not Necessarily True Or) Fit To Print'

'We Don't Care If It Is True As Long As We Agree With It!'
The New York Times venerated (sic?) editorial board recently handed down their decision on the state of the State of North Carolina from their offices apparently located on Mount Olympus which has somehow mysteriously been transported to downtown Manhattan.

Strange how anyone in a state that has lost 18 electoral votes (that is 18 Congressional representatives!) since 1940 can purport to tell any other state what they are doing wrong, isn't it?  People seem to be moving lock, stock and barrel out of New York as fast as they can for some reason. Could it possibly be the very high rates of taxation and regulation in the state of New York, hmmmm?

North Carolina has picked up 2 electoral votes in the last couple of redistricting efforts and should have picked up one more last time around.

At this rate of attrition, New York will be down to 11 electoral votes by 2060 and North Carolina will be up to 21! Who will be the 'Big State' then?

Anyway, we thought it might be helpful to try to address some of the many inaccuracies in the NY Times article that might have been one of the most poorly researched pieces in a long time.

It is a darned shame...the New York Times used to have some excellent writers and apparently good-to-great researchers in the 1970's and 1980's when we started reading it to learn something. Long about the mid-1990's, the NY Times became almost unreadable due to its clouded partisanship hidden behind its facade of 'All the News That is Fit to Print!' banner on the front page. One could hardly get to the facts of an issue trying to wade through the London fog of the overt biases of the editors.

Below is the opinion piece that has been circulated in North Carolina perhaps more that any circuit judge or circuit preacher has ever done in history in case you haven't read it. (Edited in blue are some comments designed to illuminate more than argue since arguing with someone who has not taken the time to do their homework is often 'simply a waste of time')

The New York Times
July 9, 2013
The Decline of North Carolina (how about 'The Decline of New York' as mentioned before?)
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

Every Monday since April, thousands of North Carolina residents have gathered at the State Capitol to protest the grotesque damage (how about inserting some non-biased language such as 'changes in policy'?) that a new Republican majority has been doing to a tradition of caring for the least fortunate (or how about with regard to balancing the budget and setting spending priorities and running state government better and more efficiently?)

Nearly 700 people have been arrested in the “Moral Monday” demonstrations, as they are known. But the bad news keeps on coming from the Legislature, and pretty soon a single day of the week may not be enough to contain the outrage (of the protestors on Jones Street alone. There are no marches in the streets anywhere else in the state other than about 100 yards away from the legislative building).

In January, after the election of Pat McCrory as governor, Republicans took control of both the executive and legislative branches for the first time since Reconstruction. (A lot of bad practices can build up over 140 years, don't you think?) Since then, state government has become a demolition derby, tearing down years of progress in public education, tax policy, racial equality in the courtroom and access to the ballot. (Seriously. Do your homework, NY Times! The state government is going to be BIGGER in size next year versus last year in terms of spending! That is considered a 'demolition derby'? Use your hyperboles a little more judiciously as in, say, using the words 're-evaluated priorities'?)

The cruelest decision by lawmakers went into effect last week: ending federal unemployment benefits for 70,000 residents. Another 100,000 will lose their checks in a few months. Those still receiving benefits will find that they have been cut by a third, to a maximum of $350 weekly from $535, and the length of time they can receive benefits has been slashed from 26 weeks to as few as 12 weeks.

The state has the fifth-highest unemployment rate in the country, and many Republicans insulted workers by blaming their joblessness on generous benefits. In fact, though, North Carolina is the only state that has lost long-term federal benefits, because it did not want to pay back $2.5 billion it owed to Washington for the program. (This almost worthy of being called a complete and total falsehood! The actions the GOP legislature and Governor took earlier this year had to be taken to PAY BACK the loans the previous Democratic Governor allowed to ring up with absolutely zero plans to ever pay them back!) The State Chamber of Commerce argued that cutting weekly benefits would be better than forcing businesses to pay more in taxes to pay off the debt, (Businesses in North Carolina went along with a large HIKE in taxes to pay off unemployment debt owed to the Federal UI (unemployment insurance) program in the next 2 years!) and lawmakers blindly went along, dropping out of the federal program.

At the same time, the state is also making it harder for future generations of workers to get jobs, cutting back sharply on spending for public schools. Though North Carolina has been growing rapidly, it is spending less on schools now than it did in 2007, ranking 46th in the nation in per-capita education dollars. (North Carolina has been controlled by a non-GOP party for the past 140 years....and THEY are now to blame for public education spending that has been falling since 2007??? What happened in 2008, 2009 and 2010 when the Democrats held 100% control of the state government and in 2011 and 2012 when there was still a Democratic Governor in the Mansion?) Teacher pay is falling, 10,000 pre-kindergarten slots are scheduled to be removed, and even services to disabled children are being chopped.

(North Carolina passed the Education Lottery in 2005, ostensibly to 'bolster' state spending on education. Under a Democratic Governor and Democratic Legislature. The lottery was sold as a delta 'increase' in the amount of money that would be spent on education in North Carolina by an amount equal to the net monies earned by the lottery. Many experts have said that all that the lottery money has done is allowed other parts of the state budget to expand while keeping the education funds relatively constant. That is one area the new GOP legislators need to investigate and find out where all that money has been going for the past 8 years now and counting)

“We are losing ground,” Superintendent June Atkinson said recently, warning of a teacher exodus after lawmakers proposed ending extra pay for teachers with master’s degrees, cutting teacher assistants and removing limits on class sizes.

Republicans repealed the Racial Justice Act, a 2009 law that was the first in the country to give death-row inmates a chance to prove they were victims of discrimination. They have refused to expand Medicaid (because the existing Medicaid computer and accounting systems were so corrupt and obsolete that the GOP legislature has had to put a $495 million finger in the dyke to stem the losses in Medicaid for 2012 and expect to do the same to the tune of $600M in 2013! It makes no sense to expand coverage when there are such gaping holes in the current accounting systems for Medicaid plus there are ways to revamp and reform Medicaid to serve the Medicaid population in the future) and want to cut income taxes for the rich while raising sales taxes on everyone else. The Senate passed a bill that would close most of the state’s abortion clinics. (In 1975, abortion clinics in North Carolina had to get CON (Certificate of Need) and surgical care licenses in order to operate in the state in order to insure 'safe' and legal abortions. Don't ask how we know...but 'we know' this for a fact)

And, naturally, the Legislature is rushing to impose voter ID requirements (Voting is about the ONLY activity left in America that doesn't require a photo ID! We got carded the other day at a Beach Music Festival in Raleigh!) and cut back on early voting and Sunday voting, which have been popular among Democratic voters. One particularly transparent move would end a tax deduction for dependents if students vote at college instead of their hometowns, a blatant effort to reduce Democratic voting strength in college towns like Chapel Hill and Durham. (If you had heard the stories we have heard from college students who admitted they voted absentee in their home states AND in person in Durham or Chapel Hill in 2008 and 2012, your hair would spontaneously combust into flames) 

North Carolina was once considered a beacon of farsightedness in the South, an exception in a region of poor education, intolerance and tightfistedness. In a few short months, Republicans have begun to dismantle a reputation that took years to build.

(Our fingers are so tired from rebutting the venerated NY Times 'editorial board' that we just can't go on. We have taken on the Republicans in the past when they were wrong. We have taken on the Obama Administration and the Democrats when we thought they were wrong in the past. So what is taking on the 'venerated' (sic?) New York Times when we think they are wrong as well?)

Suffice it to say that we hope you will look at this widely disseminated opinion piece and wonder how they could write such a piece that now looks like swiss cheese with blue holes in it all over.


Is there any wonder why newspapers have dropped by about 25% in circulation annually for the past 20 years. Why, at that rate, they are sure to disappear in the ground sooner than when New York state will get down to 11 Electoral Votes!)

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