Billy Ball Commentary

Billy Ball Commentary

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After latest court setback, Tim Moore and the GOP must drop their voter ID con

Say this for North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore and his surrogates, they are determined con artists.  After a unanimous state Court of Appeals panel dealt the GOP their latest voter ID defeat Tuesday, Moore seemed more like a desperate salesman pitching a broken vacuum than the speaker of North Carolina's House of Representatives in his scathing rebuttal.

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Greg Lindberg, the man who knew too many

For a man who knew everybody, Greg Lindberg might seem in the coming days like a man who knew nobody. And at this point, perhaps he doesn’t. Lindberg, the indicted financier tied up in a widening bribery scandal, is so intimate with federal investigators’ sonorous tones and heavy breathing upon his shoulder he can tell you what their agents had for lunch (my guess is roasted chicken, white rice, steamed cauliflower and a half-gallon of black coffee; these are not the sort to dally with extraneous carbs).

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On impeachment, N.C. deserved a Mitt Romney. We got Thom Tillis and Richard Burr instead.

Mitt Romney is, in this moment, the Republican that Americans and North Carolinians deserve. But he is not, of course, the Republican that most of us received.

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In the impeachment trial, the fading credibility of Tillis, Burr and the Republican Party takes center stage

It was February 2011. I was a relatively young local government reporter and I will, if pressed, admit to being a bit starstruck that state Speaker of the House Thom Tillis stood right in front of me talking that year's budget standoff, although that gauzy feeling did not last long.

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Mark Johnson, state schools superintendent, finds comedy in one troubled school system’s tragedy

If North Carolina Republicans are confounded by the notion that every last one of them disdains public education—and, surely, not all of them do—they should tune into Mark Johnson’s bro huddle with right-wing talk show host KC O’Dea last Friday to see where a North Carolinian might get such a notion.

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Make no mistake. The budget failed because Republicans failed to compromise.

There is a temptation—and believe me, I understand it—to celebrate the fleeting nature of this week’s special session of the North Carolina state legislature as some sort of success.

Resist that temptation...

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How Trump’s lies may cost him during the Iran saga

Although he torches norms like a 10-year-old cooks bugs beneath a magnifying glass, Donald Trump is not the first American president to be compromised. In wartime, peacetime, or whatever it is we are calling this incendiary moment. As the journalist Eric Alterman explained in his 2004 autopsy of executive mendacity, “When...

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As voter ID falls again, Republicans are still confusing predator with prey

Say one thing for Dan Bishop and his nihilistic pals in the Republican Party: They see the farce in New Year’s resolutions.  Resolutions come in shiny and new, be-tuxed and coiffed, and scuttle out the club’s emergency exit in the mid-morning light, face a mess. So why bother? 

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After Republicans’ latest gerrymandering low, now is the time for your outrage

It may be difficult to say how you are feeling this morning, two mornings after a Superior Court panel — facing the impending launch of the 2020 election cycle — choked down another GOP-manipulated map for North Carolina congressional districts.

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How NC’s broken politics made a disaster of Medicaid again

Tuesday’s inevitable announcement of a delay in North Carolina’s Medicaid transformation is an unqualified disaster. We will labor over who to blame. Republicans will castigate Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who vetoed the “mini-budget” funding transformation in August. 

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Wallowing in the mire: The UNC Board of Governors hits another low

“The hymn in church yesterday,” Dan Gerlach, the embattled former ECU interim chancellor, tweeted Sunday. “‘All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well…’ And it will.” Whether you’re inclined ...
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North Carolina lawmakers: Time’s up to write an education budget, pay our teachers

Next week is Halloween. Shortly after that comes the holidays. Which is to say that the N.C. General Assembly is more than nine months into its deliberations in Raleigh, and they still haven’t delivered this squealing baby -- in other words, a budget that appropriately funds North Carolina’s 1.5 million public school children.

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Amid Trump’s lies, what to do about a problem like Facebook?

When the journalist Michael Kinsley wrote in 1984 that a gaffe “is when a politician tells the truth,” perhaps he saw the future. Kinsley could not, however, have foreseen our current political climate.

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Latest Supreme Court battle a reminder that true LGBTQ equality is far from won

"The struggle for gay rights is over,” the writer James Kirchick wrote in The Atlantic in June. And just like that, you could almost smell the smoldering keyboards across the country.  I loathe sports metaphors, but if we were playing football, this headline still smacks of celebrating a touchdown on the opposing team’s 20-yard-line.

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Finding the flesh and blood in NC’s politicized Medicaid war

North Carolina’s Medicaid coverage gap looks like Brenda Pernell, who went by “Miss Brenda” to her students and, until a heart condition killed her in April at the age of 52, treated her high blood pressure with vinegar.  It looks like Jessica Jordan, who inherited her father’s blue eyes and her mother’s fiery hair and who, lacking the coverage to pay for mental health and substance abuse treatment, died from an accidental overdose last May at the age of 32. 

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In 2019, with student debt and tuition soaring, is UNC still the university of the people?

“I speak for all of us who could not afford to go to Duke,” Charles Kuralt once declared in 1993, in that inimitable oaken voice, during the UNC system’s bicentennial celebration. Kuralt, speaking to an august assemblage that included former President Bill Clinton and then North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt, was in the midst of one of the regal monologues the famous newsman was lauded for in his 22 years at CBS News. 

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