The latest in the ongoing fight over transgender students and school bathrooms has come in the form of a federal judge in Texas issuing an injunction temporarily blocking the Obama administration from penalizing school districts that do not allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms in accordance with their gender identity.
At issue is whether federal law bans discrimination on the basis of gender identity. The 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Education Amendments of 1972 both ban discrimination on the basis of “sex,” but it’s an open question whether that only includes biological sex or whether it also includes gender expression and gender identity. US Attorney General Loretta Lynch says it does, and she ordered school districts not to keep students from using bathrooms in accordance with their gender identity. The US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over North Carolina, agreed – and ruled in favor of a transgender boy, Gavin Grimm, who had sued his school after officials tried to keep him out of the boys’ bathroom.
But the US Supreme Court put a stay on that decision pending further review and now this ruling extends that further.
Expect the US Supreme Court to take up the issue quickly. Their ruling, of course, affects North Carolina – Part 1 of House Bill 2, among other things, requires school districts to ban transgender students from using bathrooms in accordance with their gender identity, and the US Justice Department has argued that violates federal law.
When the law is ambiguous, courts are generally directed to leave it up to the executive branch to interpret the law – that would be the US Justice Department. The judge who issued the ruling on Sunday, though, says the law is not ambiguous – he says “sex” does not extend to gender identity, so discriminating on the basis of gender identity doesn’t violate federal law.
There is a proposal on the table to change federal law to include gender identity as a protected category explicitly – this is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA – but Congress so far has refused to pass it.
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory’s communication director Josh Ellis issued the following statement on the ruling:
“The federal court decision bolsters the efforts of Governor McCrory, along with 22 other states, to protect the privacy of families and children in our school bathrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities. We’re also pleased that a federal court has sided with Governor McCrory’s position that the Obama administration has overstepped its authority by bypassing Congress and the courts.”
The five civil rights organizations that are involved in the lawsuit, including the American Civil Liberties Union – issued the following statement:
“A ruling by a single judge in one circuit cannot and does not undo the years of clear legal precedent nationwide establishing that transgender students have the right to go to school without being singled out for discrimination. This unfortunate and premature ruling may, however, confuse school districts that are simply trying to support their students, including their transgender students. So let us make it clear to those districts: your obligations under the law have not changed, and you are still not only allowed but required to treat transgender students fairly. The scope of this injunction has no effect on the ability of other courts or lawyers representing transgender people to continue to rely on the federal government’s interpretations of Title IX or on prior decisions that have reached similar conclusions about the scope of federal sex discrimination laws.
“The court’s misguided decision targets a small, vulnerable group of young people – transgender elementary and high school students – for potential continued harassment, stigma and abuse.”
Two and a half months from Election Day, national surveys generally show Hillary Clinton with a steady lead on Donald Trump.
But many Trump supporters don’t believe it – instead they’re insisting that the polls (yes, all of them) are biased.
Earlier this week, some people took that belief to a new level. A website called RealTrueNews claimed to have discovered a secret “internal memo” from Public Policy Polling finding Trump with a 65-point lead on Clinton in Florida (not a typo) and discussing how best to cover up the “truth.” The “memo” is obviously a phony – among other things, it includes an obscenity-laden paragraph about how to obtain “Bernie-grade weed” from other polling outfits – but PPP director Tom Jensen says they spent the day handling tweets and emails from people who actually believed it was true.
“It’s really a commentary on the credulity of Trump supporters that so many think this memo could be real,” PPP said on Twitter.
But Jensen also says it’s not a surprising commentary. In poll after poll, he says, PPP has found that Trump supporters are convinced that most Americans favor their candidate – and that any survey suggesting otherwise must be biased. And all year long, PPP has found that Trump’s supporters are willing to agree with just about anything he says, no matter how extreme.
PPP’s actual survey this week, for instance, looked at voters in Texas – where 71 percent of Trump supporters say that “if Clinton wins the election…it will just be because the election was rigged.” (Specifically, 40 percent of Trump supporters believe the election will be rigged by ACORN – even though that organization no longer exists.)
Tom Jensen discussed the Texas survey – and the fake Florida poll – on WCHL with Aaron Keck.
The bad news for Donald Trump is that even in red-state Texas, he doesn’t have that many supporters – at least not right now. PPP’s survey does show Trump leading Clinton there – but by only six points, 44-38. (Mitt Romney won the state by 16 points in 2012.) And Trump’s lead appears to be limited to senior citizens: he’s up 63-33 on Clinton among seniors, but Texans under the age of 65 favor Clinton, 49-45. (And among voters under 45, Clinton leads Trump 60-35. Jensen says that’s not just the usual generational gap – it suggests Texas may become less of a GOP lock over the next couple decades, particularly considering the state’s growing Latino population.)
And PPP’s survey also finds widespread support for progressive/Democratic policies on a variety of issues across party lines: 72 percent favor an increased minimum wage; 63 percent want the Senate to hold Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Merrick Garland; and 83 percent want people on the government’s terror watch list to be banned from buying guns. Considering Texas’ gun-friendly reputation, there’s a surprising level of support for several gun-control policies: 89 percent of Texans also want to see background checks on all gun purchases, and there’s even plurality support for an assault weapons ban (48 percent in favor, 43 percent opposed).
OK, for our game against football arch-rival NC State, stories about a Heel, a ram, a gym and java. First, the timeless question, “What’s a Tar Heel?” Well, there are several versions but, for the one I’ve heard most, let’s return to NC’s colonial history. We have a lot of pine trees and, along the coast where our state’s history began, tall long-leaf pines.
Those “boys” were the basis for our colonial economy—tar, pitch and turpentine. Visitors to North Carolina recounted and recorded the spectacle of seeing many barefooted North Carolinians who regularly walked through these long-leaf pine forests and, because of it, bore tarred resin on the bottom of their heels.
The tree and naval stores became so associated with our colony and state, it, of course, became not only our state’s nickname but this University’s moniker. Now for many years, being called a “Tar Heel” was a slap in the face. The term implied a backward rube but, interestingly, the Civil War helped to change all that. The story goes that it was in the spring of 1864 when, after a battle in Virginia, a group of Virginians and North Carolinians hooted at one another. After being teased about whether there was any tar left down in the Old North State, one North Carolinian retorted that maybe some more should be found and placed on the heels of the Virginians so they might stick better in the next fight. The exchange was communicated to Robert E. Lee who smiled and mused aloud, “God bless those Tar-Heeled boys.” Hence, like tar, our nickname stuck and honorably so.
So now that we’ve talked about the Tar Heel thing, what’s the story behind a ram as our mascot? Back in 1924, cheerleader Vic Huggins reasoned that if Georgia had a bulldog and NC State had a wolf—well, the Heels needed something. Huggins persuaded athletic business manager Charlie Woollen to fork over $25 and the search began. Shipped from Texas to Chapel Hill and introduced at a pep rally before the VMI game…Ta-Dah…
…a not-so-impressive Rameses made his debut. But why a ram? Two seasons earlier a bruising fullback, Jack Merritt, led Carolina to a 9-1 record. So bruising he was nicknamed “the battering ram.” A-ha—Huggins’ inspiration. Rameses’ first game was November 8, 1924. Carolina was locked in a scoreless tie with a then-powerful VMI team. Late in the game, Bunn Hackney was called upon to attempt a field goal. Before going in, he rubbed Rameses’ head and then promptly drop-kicked a 30-yard field goal to win the game, 3-0. Rameses’ storied presence began. Now, from a ram to a gym.
Woollen Gym, which was home to the 1957 National Champions, was a nice facility but Head Coach Frank McGuire wanted better. He wanted one to rival NC State’s Reynolds Coliseum. It would take a while. In 1955, there were leaks and it was going to cost $20,000 to get ’em fixed. UNC officials complained but were told the state didn’t have the money. Well, the VP of UNC, William D. Carmichael, had a solution.
The Monday, following a Saturday home game against State, word came in that $20,000 had just been allocated from the Emergency Contingency Fund. What happened in the course of 2 days? Well, it seems Carmichael got some tickets for the State game and gave them to members of the Appropriations Committee of the General Assembly. It rained like crazy that Saturday and their seats just happened to be directly under the leaks. Problem solved. And finally, that java thing.
Triangle residents may not realize that fracking areas run through Wake, Durham, Chatham, Orange, and Lee counties, affecting the water supply of 2.4 million people. This map shows watersheds and fracking areas (slide 2 at this link).
North Carolina has the least separation between water and natural gas layers of rock, where fracking fluids could irreversibly pollute the water supply. Some fracking fluids contain 93 times more benzene than diesel. ProPublica identified 1,000+ documented cases of water contamination nationwide near fracking sites prior to 2009. In Houston, there is more air pollution from fracking than cars! A Texas hospital reported asthma rates 3x higher than the state average in counties with drilling sites, with one-quarter of children having asthma. A new shale health office has opened in Pennsylvania. For 387 mostly temporary jobs and a five year supply of low-priced natural gas in NC, the current legislature is willing to sell out our air and water quality.
I am afraid we will open a Pandora’s Box if we allow fracking in our state. Health problems seen at the new shale health clinic in PA are suspiciously similar to those that caused the mayor of Dish, TX to move out of his own town where he allowed fracking – the severe nosebleeds of his kids. All the different Ethyl Methyl Deathyl chemicals fracking puts into the air are not a happy addition to our already ozone-polluted air in NC. The industry will have jurisdiction over municipalities on this, where municipalities have no control. Our watersheds are exactly where the shale rock is located.
If other states have not been able to make fracking work without creating health problems, what makes us think it can be done safely in ours?
Governor Perdue’s veto early this week is the only thing that can stop this.
What are your thoughts? Is North Carolina different from PA and TX? Is Governor Perdue going to make the right decision? Let us know in the Comments below.http://chapelboro.com/columns/the-commentators/fracking-will-affect-air-water-quality-in-the-triangle
Don’t write off Rick Perry.
You ask, why not?
Because he is going to be the Republican nominee for President and will give Barack Obama a heck of a race next fall.
You are laughing, aren’t you?
If I had made this prediction six weeks ago, you would not have laughed. No, you would have said something like, “Well maybe” or “probably so.”
You would not have been laughing like you are now. You might have let me know that I was stating the obvious and given me a big “So what!”
Not now though.
The last few weeks have not been kind to the governor of Texas.
After his near coronation as Republican nominee when he formally entered the race in August, it has been mostly downhill for Perry:
*The surfacing of remarks made in 1992 in which Perry disparaged North Carolina barbecue, saying that Texas road kill was better.
*Calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme.
*Poor ratings from the media on his performance in the debates with other candidates.
*Press reports about a sign that used a racially charged word to identify his family’s leased hunting ranch,
*The meteoric rise of Herman Cain in the polls and the imaginations of conservative voters.
*Perry’s collapsing poll numbers.
The political pundits have declared him to be road kill. (Remember: North Carolina barbecue is better!) They have moved the conversation from Perry to their current view that Mitt Romney is the almost certain Republican nominee.
So, why do I think Perry will rise again?
First of all, remember John McCain’s campaign for the 2008 nomination. Starting out strong, his campaign faltered in the summer and early fall of 2007. His poll numbers declined. Money ran out. Staff left. Like they did Perry, the pundits wrote him off.
In the early winter, he came back, beating Romney in New Hampshire and surging to the nomination.
Today, Perry has strengths and resources that put him in a better position for a comeback than McCain’s situation in October 2008:
*McCain had run out of money to conduct his campaign. Perry, on the other hand, raised $17 million in the last quarter, more than any other Republican candidate.
*Like McCain in 2008, Perry is not Mitt Romney. So far polls show that 75 percent of Republicans are still unwilling to register support for the current favorite to win the nomination, even though they know him well. While establishment Republicans have lined up behind him, Romney does not excite the “non-country club” voters. Thus, if and when there is a single credible opponent facing Romney, that opponent stands a good chance of winning the nomination.
*None of the other announced candidates are “credible.” Herman Cain is exciting and provocative but will not survive the spotlights that blind an inexperienced candidate. The others are already toast. Perry has been singed but is still very much alive.
*As governor of a large state where money talks, Perry can squeeze more money to fund his campaign.
*Most important, as former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told me a few weeks ago, Perry is “comfortable in his boots.” He talks and acts like the kind of person you would be happy to sit down with and drink coffee—or beer. In this respect, he compares to Ronald Reagan, who, even if you did not like his policies, you liked him. Romney might be just as nice, but he projects stiffness and superiority. In a close contest, the nice, comfortable candidate wins.
So there you have it.
Perry will be the Republican nominee.
But before you place your bets, I need to tell you something. Four years ago I was just as sure Fred Thompson was going to run away with the Republican nomination because he was the only candidate who was “comfortable in his boots.”http://chapelboro.com/columns/one-on-one/the-republican-nominee-its-going-to-be-rick-perry
“After what he said about our barbecue, he is a dead duck in North Carolina.” A Democrat was celebrating the report that Texas Governor Rick Perry once made a disparaging remark about our favorite food. According to a news report that quoted one of my favorite books, “Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue” by John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg Reed, Perry, when he ate Eastern North Carolina barbecue in 1992, said, “I’ve had road kill that tasted better than that.”
Sure enough, after the North Carolina barbecue road kill story started circulating, Perry’s campaign, which had been sailing along at a pace that made Perry look like the sure nominee, took a nosedive.
The news reports said his debate performance was sub-par. His opponents attacked his decision to require girls in Texas to be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted virus associated with vaginal cancer. They jumped on his advocacy for tuition support for illegal immigrants attending college in Texas. Then Herman Cain crushed him (37 percent to 15) in the Florida straw poll, and Mitt Romney did the same in Michigan (50 percent to 17).
“Don’t mess with Texas,” Perry says. Maybe he will have to learn, “Don’t mess with North Carolinians and their barbecue.”
If he wants some background about the political implications of “messing” with our barbecue, he can talk to our former attorney general and secretary of state, Rufus Edmisten. According to “Holy Smoke,” Edmisten “learned a painful lesson” when he was running for governor more than 25 years ago. At the time, somebody heard him saying, “I’ve eaten enough barbecue. I am not going to eat any more. I’m taking my stand and that is it.”
Today, Edmisten can laugh about his mistake. “Holy Smoke” quotes him, “I’d be eating barbecue three times a day for a solid year, and I got up one night and, in a very, very lax moment—the devil made me do it—I made a horrible statement. I said, ‘I’m through with barbecue.’ Well, you would have thought I made a speech against my mother, against apple pie, cherry pie, the whole mess.”
It was not a joke during the campaign. On September 20, 1983, a Wilmington Morning Star editorial, titled “Swine cooks the Rufus goose” took him to task, “If his opponents have the sense God gave a yam, they will mount Mr. Edmisten on a spit and roast him patiently on hickory coals until he is done, And then they will pick his bones.”
Now, another North Carolina commentator, Jeffrey Weeks, makes a similar suggestion in response to Perry’s “road kill” comment. “If Rick Perry wants to bring his campaign to the Carolinas we, of course, won’t reject him. We’ll welcome him with good ol’ southern hospitality. We’ll even show him how to cook real barbeque, not with a cow (Lord have mercy) but with a pig. And I know just the pig we’ll roast. ‘Governor’ Perry.”
So is Perry’s campaign mortally wounded? Is it “toast”—or, as Weeks suggests, “roast”?
Not so fast.
A couple of weeks ago former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs surprised me with his comments about Perry. Although he declined to speculate about which possible Republican presidential candidate would be easier or harder to beat, he cautioned not to underrate Perry. Gibbs thinks that Perry could be a strong candidate in the general election, notwithstanding his seemingly over-the-top positions on Social Security and North Carolina barbecue.
What Perry has, according to Gibbs, that the other Republican candidates lack, is “that he is comfortable in his boots—like Ronald Reagan.”
If Gibbs is right, Perry will not be thrown off course by his campaign’s recent downturns, and this time next year, he will be a formidable challenger to President Obama.http://chapelboro.com/columns/one-on-one/is-perry-roast-in-north-carolina
There are a lot of us folks who applaud the Chancellor for putting institution above any sport.
I am a season ticket holder and a twenty-five year Ram but I do not want to see Carolina become a football factory. Our b-ball program makes it clear that excellence and graduating the kids can go together.
Recently the University announced that once again, for the tenth time, UNC was ranked as the 5th best public university (2011 “Americas Best Colleges,” usnews.com). Another USNews publication “Great Schools, Great Prices” ranks UNC as 1st among public universities; the sixth year UNC has held that ranking. Those rankings are just a sampling.
In football, the ACC ranks first among all conferences in graduation rates (Birmingham News). On a broader scale, UNC is tied with Penn State for 4th highest among all major football universities. That’s a full twenty points ahead of BYU, Alabama, Southern Cal, and LSU who graduate about half their players. Texas, Georgia, and Oklahoma are below 50%.
Obviously the schools with poor graduation rates for football can still be great universities as I’m sure they would assert. The obvious implication is that they have somehow segmented their academic side from their major sports programs. There are lots of questions, but one is; does Carolina want to give up any pretense of the “student athlete?”
Perhaps the broader question for the “Carolina Nation” may be; looking just at graduation rates as one barometer, is it possible to achieve a top twenty program, which we all would applaud, without condemning up to half of our football players to an unfinished degree and, short of the NFL, artificially limited career prospects? To be a Texas, or an LSU, are we willing to essentially exploit kids who are big and fast for their entertainment value, knowing full well most of them will not find a place in the NFL?
Chancellor Thorp has said no. He has placed institution above sport and I applaud his decision. I like what I see and hear in Coach Withers and I look forward to a great year of college football in Chapel Hill.
David Wynne ‘71
Virginia Beach, Va.