NPR parachutes into Yadkin County

Always fun to see how national media portrays our fair state—this time it’s Yadkin County—“overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly for Donald Trump.”

Winston-Salem: Sanctuary city?

At last night’s Winston-Salem City Council meeting, a group calling itself the Winston-Salem Sanctuary Coalition made an appeal for W-S to become a sanctuary city:

The council also heard complaints about a new bus system route structure that went into effect on Jan. 2. The new routes are supposed to speed travel, but people complained on Tuesday that buses don’t come as close to their houses as they used to.

Will Cox, one of the organizers of the sanctuary city effort, told council members that the city needs to make “a very clear statement, an affirmation of civil rights” following the election of Trump, who campaigned on tougher immigration enforcement.

“This is not a time of silence,” Cox said. “It is a time to stand together.”

There’s no official definition of what a sanctuary city is, but it generally refers to cities that do not cooperate with federal officials in the enforcement of immigration law.

Some speakers said that tougher enforcement could tear apart families.

“I was born in California, but I was in high school when my dad was first deported,” said Jennifer Castillo, now a city resident. She said that in the future young people like her may have to decide whether to stay in this country or go to Mexico to be where their parents are.

Anthony Ndege said the last decade has seen “unprecedented anti-immigrant sweeps that have torn apart families, friendships, relationships, and destroyed countless lives.”

And we all know who’s been in charge of the executive branch for the better part of the last decade. I have no doubt that –as council member D.D. Adams said–the majority of the council would favor sanctuary city status. But the General Assembly passed a law—which then-Gov. Pat McCrory signed—-outlawing sanctuary cities in N.C.

Of course if cities defy federal immigration law, then what should stop a city from defying state law? Mayor Allen Joines had the answer– the state could cut the money spigot if that happens.

The 2015 law could be seen as another example of the legislature taking action for cities’ own good.

War between Trump and top intelligence officials is bad news for Americans

Mollie Hemingway of the Federalist website ponders the feud between President-elect Donald Trump and leaders of the nation’s intelligence agencies.

Dwight Eisenhower warned that if we didn’t stay vigilant, the military-industrial complex would start creeping into politics with pernicious motives all its own. The intelligence community’s war of leaks against Trump before he’s even taken office is just the latest questionably politicized action in the decades since Eisenhower’s farewell address. And it’s safe to say that the intelligence community pushing unproven and absurd allegations about a president-elect’s sexual perversions is probably way worse than anything Ike imagined.

In order to understand how we got to this perilous place and get a handle on what’s going on, it’s worth taking a closer look at the motives and allegations of political operatives in intelligence agencies, as well as the basic timeline of allegations of Russian electoral interference in the last few months. Far from discrediting Trump, it paints a worrisome portrait of the deep state gone rogue, desperate to stop a man who, whatever his considerable flaws, is an outsider to Washington.

He’s made emphatic promises to dramatically alter America’s foreign policy priorities and governmental operations. Given all the craziness, we have to ask ourselves: Does the intelligence community genuinely believe Trump is a real-live Manchurian candidate, or are they simply trying to protect their power and bureaucracy? And at this point, do they even know the difference?

Putting kids and parents first

Pete Kasperowicz of the Washington Examiner highlights the educational philosophy of Betsy DeVos, designated as the next U.S. education secretary.

DeVos is a school choice supporter, and her testimony argues that the federal government needs to encourage a wide range of choices to help students get through high school.

“Parents no longer believe that a one-size-fits-all model of learning meets the needs of every child, and they know other options exist, whether magnet, virtual, charter, home, religious, or any combination thereof,” her prepared remarks state. “Yet, too many parents are denied access to the full range of options… choices that many of us — here in this room — have exercised for our own children.”

While DeVos has been attacked as someone who wants to tear down public schools, she said she would work to make sure both public schools and other alternatives are “great.”

“But, if a school is troubled, or unsafe, or not a good fit for a child – perhaps they have a special need that is going unmet — we should support a parent’s right to enroll their child in a high quality alternative,” she said.

DeVos indicated that college may not be the right path for every student, but said even non-college choices should be celebrated and encouraged, depending on the student.

“Craftsmanship is not a fallback – but a noble pursuit,” she said.

“Students should make informed choices about what type of education they want to pursue post high school and have access to high quality options,” DeVos added. “President-elect Trump and I agree we need to support all post-secondary avenues, including trade and vocational schools, and community colleges.”

Shocker: Unions lead fight against Trump’s education pick

Bill McMorris of the Washington Free Beacon looks behind the curtain of the campaign to defeat Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. education secretary.

Three of the groups challenging the reform agenda of President-elect Donald Trump and his education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos received more than $2.6 million from teachers unions and their allies, according to federal labor filings.

DeVos, a pioneer in the school choice and charter school movements over the last two decades, has received vocal opposition from Democrats and some of the country’s most powerful unions. The National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, and AFL-CIO, which serves as an umbrella group for dozens of unions including the AFT, have all called on the Senate to reject the nomination.

They have also pumped millions of dollars into think tanks and activist groups that have supplied Democrats with intellectual ammunition to oppose her.

DeVos, the head of the American Federation for Children, has come under scrutiny from a number of liberal groups and media outlets, along with unions. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and Center for American Progress (CAP) have each released reports critical of charter schools since President-elect Donald Trump announced the nomination in November. …

… EPI has received nearly $1.7 million from the NEA, AFT, and AFL-CIO since 2014, according to federal labor filings. The think tank, which describes itself as non-partisan, received more than $680,000 in 2015 alone from the three unions, and AFL-CIO footed the bill for catering costs at a January reception for the group that year. Those expenses were classified as “membership dues” and “support for economic policy research” on the Labor Department forms.

An orderly approach to Obamacare repeal

Chris Jacobs details at National Review Online an approach toward repealing the Affordable Care Act that would minimize disruption.

As it repeals Obamacare, Congress should work to expand the scope of last year’s reconciliation bill to include the law’s costly insurance mandates. Because reconciliation legislation must involve matters primarily of a budgetary nature, critics argue that the process cannot be used to repeal Obamacare’s insurance regulations, and that leaving the regulations in place without the subsidies will collapse insurance markets. But Congress did not attempt to repeal the major insurance regulations during last year’s debate; it avoided the issue entirely. Consistent with past practice, Senate procedure, and the significant fiscal impact of the major regulations, it should seek to incorporate them into the measure this time around.

Congress should also include provisions in the reconciliation bill freezing enrollment in Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion upon its enactment. Currently eligible beneficiaries should be held harmless, but lawmakers should begin a path to allow those on Medicaid to transition off the rolls and into work. In a similar vein, Congress should also explore freezing enrollment in Obamacare’s insurance subsidies, provided doing so will not de-stabilize insurance markets.

The Trump administration has an important part to play as well, as it can provide regulatory flexibility to insurers and states — even within Obamacare’s confines. For instance, Obamacare gives the secretary of health and human services the sole authority to determine the time and length of the law’s open-enrollment periods. In both 2016 and 2017, those periods stretched on for three months, meaning that for at least one-quarter of the year, any American could sign up for insurance — no questions asked — immediately following a severe medical incident.

The president and Putin

Victor Davis Hanson‘s latest column at National Review Online probes the presidential relationship with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.

For eight years, the Obama administration misjudged Vladimir Putin’s Russia, as it misjudged most of the Middle East, China, and the rest of the world as well. Obama got wise to Russia only when Putin imperiled not just U.S. strategic interests and government records but also supposedly went so far as to tamper with sacrosanct Democratic-party secrets, thereby endangering the legacy of Barack Obama.

Putin was probably bewildered by Obama’s media-driven and belated concern, given that the Russians, like the Chinese, had in the past hacked U.S. government documents that were far more sensitive than the information it may have mined and leaked in 2016 — and they received nothing but an occasional Obama “cut it out” whine. Neurotic passive-aggression doesn’t merely bother the Russians; it apparently incites and emboldens them. …

… Putin quickly sized up this naïf. His cynicism and cunning told him that Obama was superficially magnanimous mostly out of a desire to avoid confrontations. And as a Russian, he was revolted by the otherworldly and unsolicited advice from a pampered former American academic. Putin continued to crack down at home and soon dressed up his oppression with a propagandistic anti-American worldview: America’s liberal culture reflected not freedom but license; its global capitalism promoted cultural decadence and should not serve as anyone’s blueprint. …

… Perhaps initially Putin assumed that Obama’s lead-from-behind redistributionist foreign policy (the bookend to his “you didn’t build that” domestic recalibration) was some sort of clever plot to suggest that a weak United States could be taken advantage of — and then Obama would strike hard when Putin fell for the bait and overreached. But once Putin realized that Obama was serious in his fantasies, he lost all respect for his benefactor, especially as an increasingly petulant and politically enfeebled Obama compensated by teasing Putin as a macho class cut-up — just as he had often caricatured domestic critics who failed to appreciate his godhead.

New Carolina Journal Online features

Kari Travis reports for Carolina Journal Online on the N.C. State Board of Education’s decision not to disclose details of its vote to sue lawmakers over provisions of House Bill 17.

John Hood’s Daily Journal explains why the debate over North Carolina’s urban-rural divide is nothing new.