Commentary

NC gun group is way over the line with latest menacing gesture toward Hillary Clinton

There’s another new and frighteningly horrific development in the world of North Carolina right-wing policy and politics this morning. The following has been posted to the website of the pro-gun group known as Grass Roots North Carolina:

The ‘Hillary Clinton Special’

Grant Gardner, GRNC-PVF Treasurer

Get an AR-15 and elect pro-gun candidates!

We all know that if Hillary Clinton is elected President on November 8, panic buying will ensure that by November 9, there won’t be a gun (or ammunition) available for love nor money. That’s why the GRNC Political Victory Fund – GRNC’s federally registered political action committee – is giving you what might be among the last chances to get…

  • A Palmetto State Armory M4-configured AR-15;
  • 1,000 rounds of high quality ammunition, and (wait for it);
  • A FREE PORTRAIT OF HILLARY CLINTON! (Of course, we won’t tell you what to do with the photo, but when we ran a picture of Hillary on the front of our newsletter, we heard it was very popular at the range.)

Why GRNC-PVF is critically important

GRNC is restricted by law from using organizational funds to oust anti-gun politicians. Instead, direct election action is accomplished by our federal political action committee, the GRNC Political Victory Fund, which makes candidate recommendations and conducts “independent expenditures” for or against candidates via radio spots, mailings and automated phone calls.

Buying raffle tickets means that in addition to getting a chance at an attractively configured carbine (M4 feed ramps, w/16” barrel and mid-length gas tube, 1:7 twist chrome-lined barrel, Keymod handguard to mount the latest accessories), you will help GRNC-PVF keep anti-gunners like Roy Cooper, Deborah Ross and Josh Stein from occupying offices critical to gun rights.

Moreover, tickets are cheap: $10 ea, 3/$25, 7/$50 or 15/$100. Winner takes all and tickets are limited, so act now to get this attractive carbine and 1000 rounds of .223 ammo. (What you do with the picture is between you and Hillary). Get tickets now at:

GRNC.org/grnc-pvf-raffle-2016

In the name of all that is decent in our country, the terribly troubled souls behind this need to take it down immediately and apologize as well. What’s more, Donald Trump, Gov. Pat McCrory, Senator Richard Burr, Sen. Buck Newton and all other conservative politicians who have attempted to make gun ownership an issue in their campaigns should disavow the group ASAP.

Commentary

On Charlotte: Most pols responsible, but NC GOP needs to pipe down

Most North Carolina political leaders of both major parties in North Carolina have been responsibly muted and cautious in their response to the recent events in Charlotte. With the notable exception of the very troubled Congressman Robert Pittenger, who seized the opportunity to make an utterly absurd, racist comment last week, others — including Gov. McCrory, Attorney General Cooper and other major statewide candidates — have taken the high road and eschewed the opportunity to pander and demagogue.

And then there are the Internet magpies at the North Carolina Republican Party. On multiple occasions, GOP staffers have issued statements on Twitter that are way over the line. Throughout the last few days, party boss Dallas Woodhouse and his colleague Ricky Diaz have been spewing hateful tweets and incorrect information, offering an almost constant critique of of disfavored officials and spreading rumors of the kind one would expect from some basement dwelling Internet troll.

At times, it seemed last week that scarcely an hour went by in which Woodhouse and/or Diaz weren’t calling people names, attacking Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts in derogatory terms (Woodhouse called her “a disgrace of a mayor”) or attempting to incite anger and outrage.

If your stomach can take it, you can check out Woodhouse’s tweets here and Diaz’ here.

The bottom line: Let’s hope that in the new week, the GOP staffers take a chill pill, find some inner calm and decency and pipe down. And if they don’t, let’s hope Gov. McCrory — the man who is, in effect, their boss — tells them to shut up.

 

Commentary, News

Chance TV studio encounter may lead to formal Barber-McCrory meeting

sharpe-smith-press-conf

Rev. Barber flanked by supporters of Dontae Sharpe and Kalvin Michael Smith (including Sharpe’s mother at his immediate right)

There was an interesting (and perhaps promising) twist this morning in the ongoing stories of Dontae Sharpe and Kalvin Michael Smith — two African-American men whom their families and supporters say have been wrongfully incarcerated by the state of North Carolina for more than 20 years each.

At a rally/press conference in support of the two men outside the Old State Capitol in Raleigh, Rev. William Barber, President of the North Carolina NAACP announced that he had had a chance encounter this morning with Gov. Pat McCrory outside of a Raleigh TV studio in which Barber raised the matter of the two men’s cases. When Barber informed the Governor that his office had never responded to a months-old request to have a formal meeting to discuss the cases and that he and and other supporters would be delivering a new formal request today, the Governor called his chief of staff, Thomas Stith, and directed him to meet with those delivering the request this morning.

In response, Rev. Barber informed the Governor that while he and those supporting Sharpe and Smith would be happy to meet with Stith, they would do so only with the the understanding today’s meeting would serve as mere precursor to a formal sit-down with the Governor himself — something that would serve as an appropriate follow-up to a meeting the group had recently had with Attorney General Cooper. It remains to be seen whether McCrory will actually follow through with such a meeting, but the development would appear to be one small bit of potentially good news during a very dark week for North Carolina’s criminal justice system — especially as it relates to the state’s African-American community.

Not surprisingly, this latter fact and the situation in Charlotte in the aftermath of the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott both served as backdrop for this morning’s event. During the rally/press conference, Barber called on the Governor and Cooper to rise above their current election contest and come together to take action to free Sharpe and Smith and to establish a new “blue ribbon” commission to examine the matter of potential pardons for several wrongfully incarcerated individuals. Saying “to ignore injustice is to be a party to it,” Barber also demanded action to significantly boost funding for the state’s Office of Indigent Defense Services, which has been forced to endure budget cuts in recent years, and called on NBC news journalist Chuck Todd, who will moderate the upcoming McCrory-Cooper debate, to raise the matter of the Sharpe and Smith cases.

The bottom line: Let’s hope this morning’s unplanned encounter between Barber and McCrory leads to some genuine progress in an area that desperately needs it.

Commentary

Rev. Barber on Charlotte: We must “mobilize to vote like never before” to combat systematic injustice

Rev. barber 2Rev. William Barber II, President of the North Carolina NAACP and, increasingly, a national leader on a raft of social justice issues, has authored a fine op-ed on the situation in Charlotte that appears on NBC.com. After pointing that there is much that we still do not know about the specifics of the most recent police shooting, Barber presents a list of things we do know that are clearly contributing to the unrest in Charlotte. Here are some excerpts from “Charlotte is Drowning in Systematic Injustice”:

“We know that the law, as written and enforced, cannot protect us from police violence. We know Darryl Hunt and Henry McCollum, two in a long list of African-American men wrongfully convicted in this state. We know our criminal justice system does not function to protect black life, but to control it.

We also know, since the Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling on August 31st, that Governor Pat McCrory, former mayor of Charlotte, targeted African-Americans with ‘almost surgical precision’ when he signed a 2013 voter suppression bill. When the highest court in the land declared the law intentionally racist, McCrory made no apology. His party’s chairman doubled-down by trying to use the state Board of Elections to limit the number of polling places in areas where African-Americans generally vote.

We know that, despite the fact that it would benefit more poor white people than African Americans, our legislature has refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, denying health insurance to the most vulnerable among us, simply because they don’t like a black man in the White House.

We know that, while 56 percent of African-American workers make less than a living wage, Governor McCrory signed the mean-spirited HB2, which not only writes discrimination into state law but also forbids municipalities from passing a living wage ordinance or even measures to protect children in the workplace.

We know that our legislature, while touting an average increase in teacher pay, reduced total funding for public education and supported policies designed to undercut schools like the one Keith Scott’s son was coming home from on the bus when he lost his daddy.

We know that they increasingly funnel public money to private academies, which lend themselves to the resegregation of public education, even though we know segregation hurts poor kids.”

Barber also offers a powerful analogy to the instinctive behavior of a drowning person when reflecting on the recent unrest in the city:

“I am a pastor. I will not condemn grief. But I was trained as a lifeguard, and I learned a long time ago that when people are drowning, their instincts can kill them and anyone who tries to help them. If a lifeguard can get to a drowning person, the first thing the lifeguard says is, ‘Stop struggling. Let me hold you up in this water, and we can get to the shore together.’

The riots in Charlotte are the predictable response of human beings who are drowning in systemic injustice. We must all pray that no one else gets hurt. But we must understand why this is happening.”

And here’s his conclusion: Read more

Commentary

Charlotte native and author: The white privilege he experienced growing up still controls

In the wake of Congressman Robert Pittenger’s insane observations yesterday about race in Charlotte, Charlotte Magazine is featuring a powerful essay this morning by a white, award winning novelist named David Joy who grew up working class in the city, but still experienced advantages time after time because of his skin color. It’s definitely worth a few minutes of your time.

Here’s are a couple of excerpts from “My Privilege, Our Problem”:

“I grew up where Freedom Drive dumps into ‘Tank Town’ in the heart of Charlotte’s west side. White as cigarette paper, I was a minority at every school I attended, from elementary school at Tuckaseegee, where classmates sold weed; to middle school in Camp Greene at Spaugh, where I was robbed at gunpoint; to Harding University High School, where I once witnessed a rich white kid who’d been bused across the city into Westerly Hills come outside on his lunch break to find the car his parents had bought him resting on cinder-blocks, his 20-inch rims long gone and sold. I tell you all of this to say that I grew up knowing and experiencing not only a racial divide, but a line drawn by class across that city. There were the haves and the have-nots, us falling to the latter, so I always knew the criminality around me was a result of poverty not race. It came from having nothing. And still, I understood I was lucky to be born the color I was. Maybe we were all poor, but I had an advantage: a skin tone camouflaged from police profile.”

And this on the shooting earlier this week:

“What bothers me is this: Whether he was reading a book or sitting in his car with a gun, whether the officer who shot him was white or black, Keith Lamont Scott should be alive and breathing and those seven children left behind should still have their father.

My family has been in North Carolina for centuries, settled around what became the city of Charlotte since the late 1600s. In this open-carry state, an 18-year-old can purchase an assault rifle and openly carry that weapon down Tyvola Road if he wants. And so long as he doesn’t pose a threat, he is within his legal rights to do so. Read more