Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: Mayberry abortion law enforcement

MAYBERRY, N.C. (Sometime in the not-so-distant future….)

Gomer: “CITIZEN’S ARREST! CITIZEN’S ARREST!!! Stop right there, Thelma Lou! You need to come with me right now. I’m going to get a minimum of $10,000 because it looks like you were thinking ‘bout getting an abortion to me.”

Thelma Lou: “Gomer, don’t be absurd. You know a well-dressed woman with her own home and no discernible source of income will always be able to get an abortion! Now you just run along and pester somebody else.”

Gomer: “CITIZEN’S ARREST! CITIZEN’S ARREST!!! I see you, Helen Crump, walking down the street toward Thelma Lou. Were you going to give her a ride to the abortion clinic? Looks like that’s ANOTHER $10,000 for me! Wow! This sure nuff beats doing oil changes down at Wally’s!”

Helen Crump: “Gomer, please stop talking nonsense. I’m on my way to see Andy at the Courthouse. I will sit in the jury box and grade this mountain of papers before inviting him to sit on my swing and drink a Co-Cola. Do you even know what an abortion is?”

Gomer: “Sure do, Miss Crump. It’s a medical procedure that Floyd the Barber used to do and will do again once this bounty hunter thing takes off.”

Thelma Lou: “Helen, I do believe Gomer has lost his mind! I’m going to tell Barney all about this!”

(One hour later)…

Barney: “So, you’re telling me…that any ordinary citizen can get at least $10,000 to report someone helping a woman get to an abortion clinic even if it’s Otis the town drunk and he’s just giving her a ride?”

Thelma Lou: “Exactly! Gomer is going all over town making CITIZEN’S ARRESTS!!!!”

Barney: (shaking all over) “Man alive, this really fries my tater. I’m going to tell Andy and he’s not going to like it. Nosireebob! He’s going to want to nip it, nip it in the BUD!”

(That night…)

Otis: “Hey, Barney, I’ll just put myself in jail like always. Night night.”

Barney: “Otis, what’s up? You’re not even drunk!”

Otis: “Awwww, Gomer made a Citizen’s Arrest on me. I was giving Aunt Bee a ride over to Shaw’s grocery in Mount Pilot, but he said he didn’t believe us. Aunt Bee sure did give him a piece of her mind! Whew! She said the idea of some fool like Gomer running around acting like he knows anything about a woman’s reproductive cycle made her bitter as Clara’s kerosene pickles!”

Andy: “Hey! What’s all the fuss? I just walked Helen home and she’s mad as a wet setting hen. Then Aunt Bee said she’s not going to ever cook my dinner again! I swanee if I didn’t know better, I’d think this whole giving everybody money to enforce unconstitutional abortion laws is a bad idea!”

“It’s me, it’s me, it’s Ernest T!!!!”

Andy: “Hey Ernest T. What brings you here at this hour of the night?

Ernest T: “Well, I overheard Charlene Darling say she thought it was time to take a lesson from the ancient Greek play Lysistrata in which women withheld sex to end the Poloponnesian War…”

Andy: “Naw, naw, naw. That doesn’t sound like Charlene to me. Also, what’s this Listerine stuff?”

Ernest T: “Well, I told her I was gonna join up with Gomer and Goober and start turning in people who look like they might be helping somebody get an abortion.”

Andy: “Well. It is good money. Still, I gotta admit, I’d be upset if a woman tried to tell me what to do with my man parts.”

Barney: “What do you mean, Ange?”

Andy: “Well, what if they turned the tables on us? What if they started doing Citizen’s Arrests on us when we tried to get a vasectomy or Viagra?”

Opie: Hahahaha! Good one, Paw.

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Write her at [email protected].

Data reveal a big error in how NC has pursued economic recovery from the COVID-19 recession

Tying economic life support to employment equity goals would be better for all

A new report from the Economic Policy Institute shows that the cutoff of federal unemployment insurance will reduce incomes and curtail spending, further increasing hardship and likely slowing the progress toward a full recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic downturn.

In North Carolina, an estimated $2.3 billion in income will be lost annually, which in turn will reduce household spending and demand in the broader economy.

As North Carolina deals with the fallout from this federal cutoff, it is worth reflecting on the role that policies aimed at stabilizing the economy play in a downturn and a recovery. So-called “automatic stabilizers” are key tools that increase assistance to people when times are bad and pull back on support when conditions are improved.

When the American Rescue Plan passed in March, federal unemployment insurance benefits were set to expire on September 6. This arbitrary date for the cutoff was scheduled to arrive, regardless of where the country stood in recovering from the pandemic and economic downturn. And on September 6, the cutoff happened — even though the Delta variant surge was well underway and labor market measures were already suggesting a slowdown in the economy.

In short, a key support for jobless workers and the economy ended too soon. The flaw in tying a policy change to a certain date rather than connecting it to the desired economic outcomes is the threat of a slower and less equitable recovery.

When people have not recovered from a recession, neither has the economy.

Policymakers should learn a lesson from this failure and redesign our systems and policies so that the response to a crisis is both timely and sustained until all those harmed by a recession have secured a foothold on the path to financial security.

The well-documented inequities in the economic damage caused by the pandemic recession require that policymakers not just ensure that our economic stabilization tools are automatic but also tie them to indicators of how those most harmed by this recession and historically excluded from assistance are faring. Acting in this way — not based on the average unemployment rate, but instead based on such indicators as the unemployment rate for Black workers, who experience deeper job losses in downturns and slower returns to employment — would benefit everyone

In North Carolina, the latest data from the second quarter of 2021 showed that the unemployment rate for Black and Latinx workers was 7.7 percent and 7.5 percent respectively, compared with 3.5 percent for whites. The reality is that barriers to employment and re-employment persist for workers of color in particular, and the harms of COVID-19 have disproportionately impacted these same workers because of segregation in the workforce, lower wage work, and generational barriers to wealth building.

Without a combined commitment to reach full employment for all workers and systematically remove barriers to employment for all workers, disparities will persist and hold back the economy. During the last effort at expansion, research from PolicyLink showed that North Carolina stood to gain $11.3 billion annually in economic activity from pursuing full employment for all by reducing the barriers to work for Black and brown workers and all rural workers.

Policies that center Black and brown workers are a boon for our entire economy. North Carolina and the nation would be better served if we tied our commitment to strengthening the economy to how people are faring. Enacting such automatic stabilizers is an essential step in building a more resilient and inclusive economy.

Alexandra Sirota is the Director of the N.C. Budget & Tax Center.

Arizona ‘audit’ finds Biden won (by more votes) and no evidence of fraud

Ballots from the 2020 general election are examined and recounted by contractors hired by the Arizona Senate at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix. Photo by David Wallace | Arizona Republic/pool photo

After months of work and some $6 million spent, a so-called audit that Trump supporters claimed would show that the election had been stolen from the defeated president found that Joe Biden actually won Arizona by more votes than the official tally — and it found no conclusive evidence that the election had been influenced by fraud.

Draft reports from the review that Senate President Karen Fann commissioned of Maricopa County’s election results declared that a hand count of nearly 2.1 million ballots from the November 2020 election found Donald Trump had 261 fewer votes than the county’s official canvass gave him, while Biden had 99 more. All told, Biden gained 360 votes in the Senate “audit” hand count — which was criticized by election experts as fundamentally flawed — giving him a victory of 45,469 votes in Maricopa County.

Official canvasses had Biden winning the county by 45,109 and the state by 10,457 votes.

The “audit” team is scheduled to unveil its findings to the Senate at 1 p.m. on Friday (3 p.m. EDT). But three draft reports that began circulating on Thursday show what audit critics have long argued — that the election was conducted fairly and the votes counted accurately.

“This means the tabulation equipment counted the ballots as they were designed to do, and the results reflect the will of the voters. That should be the end of the story. Everything else is just noise,” Jack Sellers, chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, said in a press statement Thursday night.

The audit reports also showed no evidence of fraud or malfeasance that might have changed the election outcome in Arizona. Read more

Gov. Cooper should delay no longer in pardoning exonerated man

Image: Screenshot from BBC documentary

Dontae Sharpe’s supporters will gather this afternoon outside the Governor’s Mansion to renew their pleas for justice

In 2019, after having been wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for more than a quarter century for a murder he didn’t commit, a Greenville man named Dontae Sharpe was released from prison by a North Carolina judge.

Click here to watch a powerful BBC documentary that tells the story of Sharpe’s wrongful conviction at age 19 and ultimate exoneration.

As the documentary also explains, since his release, Sharpe has sought a state pardon so that he can have his record cleared and get on with what’s left of the rest of his life.

This shouldn’t even be necessary. When the state is found to have erred so egregiously and wrongfully stolen the best years of a person’s life, such pardons – along with financial compensation – ought to be automatic. This is actually the case in some jurisdictions.

Unfortunately, North Carolina law makes no such provision and so the matter is left exclusively up to Gov. Roy Cooper.

Reverends Barber and Spearman at Thursday’s press conference

Yesterday, at press event outside the Governor’s office, advocates — including national Poor People’s Campaign leader Rev. William Barber, state NAACP president Rev. T. Anthony Spearman, Diana Powell of the group Justice Served NC and Dennis Gaddy of the Community Success Initiative — revealed that, after years of pleas from Sharpe’s family, lawyers, civil rights advocates and others, a Cooper assistant had recently indicated that a pardon might be in the offing, but probably not until the end of the year.

This is simply wrong. As all the speakers yesterday repeatedly and persuasively explained, a deserving person like Sharpe who’s been so horrendously and wrongfully punished for so long should not have to wait another day for justice.

Indeed, they said, it is offensive and smells of politics that Sharpe’s pardon might be “batched” with a group of holiday season pardons when it could be granted now.

The bottom line: Gov. Roy Cooper has been an extraordinary chief executive for North Carolina over the last nearly five years. On issue after issue, he’s battled the forces of reaction and prejudice and done his best to move our state forward.

In the case of Dontae Sharpe, however, he’s making a big and inexplicable mistake. The Governor should come address protesters at this afternoon’s “freedom vigil” and issue the pardon immediately. Click here to watch the vigil online.

NC flight attendant testifies before Congress on huge uptick in pandemic ‘air rage’