Opinion: Columnists

Jun. 16, 2015 @ 12:45 PM

Martin: Why we lost war on terrorism

“I am a United States Army general, and I lost the Global War on Terrorism.”

Jun. 15, 2015 @ 08:15 AM

What do you think now, Justice Scalia?

To the Honorable Antonin G. Scalia, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States:

Dear Sir:

Twenty-one years ago, your then-colleague, the late Justice Harry Blackmun, wrote what became a famous dissent to a Supreme Court decision not to review a Texas death penalty conviction.

Jun. 13, 2015 @ 09:44 PM

The education fork in the road

Yogi Berra once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” With presidential vacancies in both the University of North Carolina and community college systems we may have reached such a fork. Further, there are persistent rumors that Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson will not seek re-election next year, so all three branches of our education system could be looking for top leadership. It’s an ideal time for serious examination of how we organize, fund and administer public education.

Jun. 13, 2015 @ 09:42 PM

North Carolina’s Medicaid debate will continue

For years now, legislators, policy analysts, medical providers, and lobbyists for various interest groups have been arguing about North Carolina’s Medicaid program. Whether you find this argument interesting, confusing, or boring, I have some news for you: It’s far from over.

Jun. 13, 2015 @ 06:00 PM

Our long path to limited government

Americans should light 800 candles for the birthday of the document that began paving the meandering path to limited government. Magna Carta laid down the law about "fish weirs" on English rivers, "assizes of darrein presentment," people being "distrained to make bridges," and other "liberties ... to hold in our realm of England in perpetuity." But what King John accepted at Runnymede meadow on June 15, 1215, matters to Americans because of something that happened 588 years later in the living room of Stelle's Hotel in Washington, where the Library of Congress now sits. 

Jun. 12, 2015 @ 11:37 AM

Is Jimmy John's bullying workers with non-compete agreements?

According to legend, it happened because he didn't want to leave the gaming table. Maybe he was riding a hot streak.

Jun. 12, 2015 @ 12:27 AM

A mixed tax bag

Republicans in the N. C. Senate have finally put forth their tax proposals, ahead of unveiling their full-blown budget for the next two years. Generally speaking, the Senate leaders are following their pattern of being more eager to cut into the state’s revenue stream than their House counterparts this session.

Jun. 12, 2015 @ 12:25 AM

You Decide: Why are we eating out more?

A milestone was set in January. For the first time, Americans spent more on eating out than on eating in. We spent $50.475 billion eating in restaurants and other food outlets that month, compared to the $50.466 billion we paid for food in grocery stores and supermarkets.

Jun. 10, 2015 @ 08:51 PM

A vote for TPA is not a vote for Obama

Before presidential politics -- the game of getting to 270 electoral votes -- completely eclipses governing, there is the urgent task of getting to 217 votes in the House of Representatives to pass Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). This would guarantee a vote without amendments on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Without TPA, any trade agreement will be nibbled to death in Congress by persons eager to do organized labor's bidding. So, Republicans who oppose TPA are collaborating with those who oppose increasing the velocity and rationality of economic life.

Jun. 08, 2015 @ 11:17 PM

Testing you about new work by noted North Carolina authors

Let’s see how well you are keeping up with recent books by North Carolina authors.

See how many new books and authors you can identify from the following clues

Jun. 08, 2015 @ 09:22 AM

Rush Limbaugh's finding out he's not normal, and it scares him

I am not normal.

This, I learned from a news story 35 years ago. The details have faded with the passage of time, but the gist of it remains clear. Some expert had crunched a bunch of numbers in search of the "average" human being, the planetary norm, and found that she was an 8-year-old Japanese girl, living in Tokyo. I don't fit that profile; I'm willing to bet you don't, either. So as a matter of statistical fact, I'm not "normal" and neither are you.

Jun. 07, 2015 @ 04:03 PM

Super PAC minuet is a result of ‘reform’

Campaign finance "reformers" think America would be better governed if the government could thoroughly regulate campaign speech, which is speech about the composition and comportment of the government. Reformers scold the Supreme Court for construing the First Amendment as though it says "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech." Reformers say government can limit campaign money without limiting what most such money funds -- political speech.

Jun. 07, 2015 @ 10:22 AM

CBS' 'The Briefcase' plumbs new depths

Recently, I watched the first episode of "The Briefcase," CBS' new "reality" show. I found myself vaguely ashamed for doing so. I kept reminding myself that I had to watch it in order to write about it.

Jun. 07, 2015 @ 07:53 AM

Connecting lying, truth and creativity in our lives

One of the joys of teaching is watching a student connect to a gift they did not know he or she had.  In my 16 years as a teacher, I have seen this happen to people in their late teens and to people in their 80s.  Some part of their soul opens up – a new space within them that they did not know was there, and they discover a new love for poetry, painting or (yes, this sometimes happens) theology.  I have also watched as a person shuts off a part of their soul that they were just beginning to see.  You can watch this happen on a person’s face, as they harden internally to refuse the possibility of knowing something new.   

Jun. 07, 2015 @ 07:41 AM

Our unusual school-funding model diffuses responsibility

The discussion between the Durham Public Schools board and the Durham County 
Commissioners is a near-annual event.