- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:

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Nov. 1

The Charlotte Observer on Sen. Richard Burr’s comments:

Sen. Richard Burr’s critics are denouncing him for joking about putting a bull’s-eye on Hillary Clinton. But voters should be at least as concerned about Burr’s putting a bull’s-eye on the U.S. Constitution.

One was an inappropriate joke. The other is a very real threat to our government functioning the way the Founders intended.

During a private meeting with supporters in Mooresville on Saturday, the North Carolina Republican talked about walking into a gun shop and seeing an NRA magazine with Clinton’s picture on the cover. “I was a little bit shocked at that - it didn’t have a bull’s-eye on it,” Burr said to laughter.

Burr apologized Monday after a recording of the talk was leaked to CNN.

Overshadowed by Burr’s tasteless joke about assassinating a presidential nominee was his comment earlier in his talk about the Supreme Court. Burr joined Ted Cruz and others with an outlandish commitment: That he would fight to block every Clinton Supreme Court nominee and keep a vacancy on the court for four full years, if not eight.

“If Hillary Clinton becomes president, I’m going to do everything I can do to make sure that four years from now, we’ve still got an opening on the Supreme Court,” Burr said.

He hasn’t apologized for that. On the contrary, he has a track record of blocking judicial appointments - and he bragged about that to the crowd.

President Obama nominated Patricia Timmons-Goodson, a former N.C. Supreme Court justice, to the federal bench in North Carolina this year. Burr is blocking the nomination, as he has another for years. Earlier, Obama nominated an individual - Jennifer May-Parker - who Burr himself had included on a short list for Obama to consider, and still he blocked her. The seat has now been open almost 4,000 days and is considered a judicial emergency by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

“I have the longest judicial vacancy in the history of the United States, in the eastern district of North Carolina. Not many people know that,” Burr boasted in Mooresville. Burr said Obama broke a deal they had made on a previous appointment.

Burr said he told Obama: “‘Let me make you a promise: This seat will be vacant on the day you go out of office, I assure you of that.’ It’s not a judgment on whether someone was qualified.”

No, to Burr, Cruz and others, a person’s qualifications are irrelevant if there are political points to be won or lost. It is ironic - no, deceitful - that these politicians claim to be “constitutional conservatives” and then eviscerate the Constitution. Article II, Section 2 says the president shall appoint Supreme Court justices with the advice and consent of the Senate.

That the Senate has violated that requirement since the death of Antonin Scalia is egregious enough. That Burr and Cruz would attempt to do so for four or eight years is unconscionable.

Online:

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/

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Nov. 2

The Fayetteville Observer on the gas pipeline explosion’s effect on North Carolina:

We’ve heard this song before and don’t want to hear it again. But like that earworm melody we can’t get out of our minds, a gasoline crisis is back.

For the second time in two months, a problem has shut down one of the major pipelines that carries gasoline from Alabama to cities across the Southeast.

This time, an excavator hit the pipeline near Helena, Alabama, triggering an explosion and intense fire.

By mid-day Tuesday, some North Carolina gasoline stations were already experiencing shortages. If that’s happening so quickly, we need to brace for a sudden spike in fuel prices as well.

If he were still with us, baseball great Yogi Berra would proclaim that “it’s deja vu all over again.”

It’s also time for state and federal officials to take a hard look at fuel pipeline safety requirements. Are the pipes inspected often and thoroughly enough? Are they tough enough to withstand accidental bumps from construction equipment? It may be, given what we’ve seen this year, that the answer to both questions is no.

That would lead us to conclude that we’ve got some safety work to do.

Online:

http://www.fayobserver.com

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Oct. 31

The News & Observer on the Affordable Care Act:

The news that health care premiums under the Affordable Care Act are going up is not surprising. Indeed, North Carolinians who get insurance through the federal health care exchange already knew about the average 25 percent premium increase. And, they knew that the choices among companies are narrowing as well; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina will be the only company offering coverage under the ACA in all 100 counties.

But the gleeful gloating of people such as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, that this is the end of “Obamacare,” that it is a failure, is simply wrong. Most of the people who’ll see the premium increases won’t feel them much, because they get government subsidies to help them get their insurance. And is the ACA a failure for people whose lives may have been saved because they’ve had health insurance for the first time in their lives and can now afford to see a doctor regularly rather than rely on care in hospital emergency rooms? Is it a failure for those who have insurance even though they have medical problems that would have caused them to be denied at private companies? Is it a failure for those young people who were able, under the ACA, to stay on their parents’ policies until the age of 26?

The ACA is not a failure, no matter how badly Republicans want it to fail. And those same Republicans who say they want to “repeal and replace” Obamacare have virtually no viable ideas to “replace” it. They just want to kill it. They want to wipe from the books a signature accomplishment of the Obama administration.

The Republicans on a national level, of course, are desperate for an issue that can distract people from the disastrous, imploding campaign of Trump. So they’ll certainly use the White House acknowledgment of growing premiums to their advantage. But Americans must remember the political context of their criticisms, and remember as well that before President Obama courageously pushed health care reform, tens of thousands of Americans, perhaps millions, were at risk of losing everything they had to health care expenses, including their homes and savings.

Obamacare is not a government-run, single-payer health care system, though frankly such systems work in many or most industrialized countries in the world. But the ACA was designed to use the private insurance system, in cooperation with the government, to help millions of Americans (now about 20 million) get health insurance and thus get health care.

Does Obamacare need tweaking? Of course. What brand new program would not? But unfortunately, a Republican Congress would never cooperate to ensure lower drug prices, or to strengthen the law’s penalties for those young, healthy adults who don’t sign up for insurance and opt to pay a penalty for being uninsured. The GOP simply digs in its heels and promises repeal - which would, by the way, return millions and millions of Americans to the rolls of the uninsured and to the mercies of the for-profit insurance industry that previously rejected them.

Rather than fall for the shameless, angry partisan rhetoric of the naysayers, Americans would be wiser to install in Congress people, Republicans or Democrats, who want to help the ACA work, not watch it fail.

Millions of people are healthier, and for that matter alive, thanks to the ACA than they would have been without it. That premiums are going up isn’t good news. But it isn’t a death knell, either, and it’s dishonest of the president’s critics to say or even insinuate that it is.

Online:

http://www.newsobserver.com/

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