Commentary

The best editorial of the weekend: Everyone stay calm

It’s tempting right now to let one’s emotions run wild. The combination of a hotly-contested, high-stakes election and an unrelenting global pandemic will do that. All across the nation, Americans are worried about what the next few weeks hold and even whether there might be violence in the election’s aftermath.

As a spot-on editorial in the Winston-Salem Journal this past weekend explained, however, it’s a time for everyone to “keep calm and vote.”

First, the editorial rightfully spotlights the outrageous and un-American behavior of a handful of right-wing extremists who threaten violence if President Trump loses the election:

Among them are members of the white supremacist fight club Proud Boys, who reportedly took Trump’s suggestion earlier this month to “stand back and stand by” to heart.

During a Trump rally in Staten Island last week, a Proud Boy member was recorded saying, “If Trump doesn’t get reelected, there’s going to be a riot. If he doesn’t get elected, this is when you’re going to see a civil war. My recommendations to anyone, stock up on ammo, get your guns.”

Members of other right-wing groups like Oath Keepers and Three Percenters have expressed their willingness to pull out their weapons if Trump doesn’t score a clear victory. They portray themselves as patriots and their opponents as traitors — but, like Trump, they fail to produce any evidence of the voter fraud they claim.

Next it blasts Trump for inciting this troubled crowd:

It’s irresponsible for Trump to make outrageous claims about Biden cheating when he knows that outliers like these will hear his message — and he knows that many of them have access to weapons.

It’s also irresponsible for Trump to encourage his supporters to go to the polls and “watch very carefully.” Some will be tempted to make a ruckus anytime they see a voter who doesn’t look like they think he or she should.

Finally, after pointing out that while left-wing violence does occur, it’s clear — according to the FBI and Department of Homeland Security — that “right-wing white supremacist violence is the most persistent and deadly domestic terror threat facing the country,” the editorial concludes on this responsible note:

If violence occurs, here or elsewhere, some here may be tempted to panic.

Please don’t. Let’s remain calm through this whole process. After the election, wait. We may not see the last shoe drop on Nov. 3. Just wait.

And to those who are listening to Trump’s divisive and dangerous rhetoric and giving it any credence: At this point, you should really know better.

Click here to read the entire editorial.

Commentary

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: All eyes turn to southeastern NC

Big news, y’all. “The New York Times” just named the 10 counties in the United States that will decide the outcome of the presidential election and I live in one of them!

It’s like being a pageant finalist! There are 3,007 counties in this country and here in New Hanover County, N.C., we’ve blown right by Miss Congeniality and gone straight to the part involving opera “sanging” and pithy statements about world peace.

David Wasserman writes in the “Times,” these bellwether counties in battleground states hold the key to the vote, concluding “Their votes will matter a lot.” Which means more than yours. Ha! Where’s my dang evening gown?

Sadly, my fellow citizens seem less excited than irritated about being in the national spotlight perhaps because of the mostly hateful ads coming in quick succession on TV, radio, our phones and social media. I can barely watch Kellyanne Conway drop an F bomb on her admittedly bratty teenage daughter over on Twitter without a pop-up opinion poll.

It’s usually pretty easy to tell which candidate has commissioned these polls.

“Hey, Celia! Do you support Joe Biden even though he plans to defund the police and melt all their guns down to create a statue of Rachel Maddow?”

If not for Covid, there’s no doubt I would open my fridge one morning to find Joe Biden crouched inside, flashing those snowy choppers as he thoughtfully extends Half and Half for my coffee.

Trump was here for a campaign stop at our local battleship memorial, the USS North Carolina. I hung sheets on my clothesline while a black helicopter hovered overhead for nearly an hour. As in directly overhead, low and unmoving, over my clothesline. Huh.

Here in New Hanover County, we have a population of 234,473 folks living in a geographically tiny county bordered by the river and the ocean. As the “Times” noted, we are—up to now—best known as the home of Michael Jordan and a flourishing film/TV industry. (The “Times” generously left out the part where the industry left town because Republicans passed an exceedingly cruel and stupid “bathroom bill” targeted at transgender folk.)

The article cheekily describes New Hanover County as the state’s “swingiest” county.

Here in the South, we’d say “swingingnest” but whatever. If you doubt my county’s ability to go blue for president for the first time since 1976 (dammit), the “Times” reminds readers Whole Foods opened a store here in 2012.

Apparently one of the leading predictors of how a county leans politically is proximity to a vegan hot bar. Whatever that is. The tone was admittedly a tad smug. As if to say: “We know you think they’re just hicks, but they are hicks who understand the importance of criminally overpriced hamburger meat and a slice-your-own soap kiosk.”

If our county goes blue, we will accept bouquets and say “you’re welcome” to a grateful nation. If not, well, there’s always Miss Canada.

Celia Rivenbark’s oven, hot water heater, car A.C. and DVR all died this week. Oh, 2020, you saucy imp.

Commentary

“Fragile Democracy”: See video of Crucial Conversation with James Leloudis and Robert Korstad here

In case you missed Tuesday’s Policy Watch Crucial Conversation with Professors Jim Leloudis and Bob Korstad about their new and powerful book, Fragile Democracy: The struggle over race and voting rights in North Carolina you can click here to check out the video.

And, if you get a chance, be sure to check out the enormously informative and attractive digital exhibit that is available on the book’s website.

Commentary, News

Elon poll: Rush to reopen schools driven by a noisy minority

Image: Adobe Stock

If one listened to a number of North Carolina political commentators — particularly on the right — a person would get the impression that a large majority of North Carolinians have been clamoring for schools to reopen ASAP. According to this oft-repeated spiel, Gov. Cooper is wrongfully stifling “freedom” by continuing to enforce public health restrictions in response to the pandemic and North Carolinians are increasingly up in arms about it.

Wrong.

As a new Elon University poll highlighted this morning by Raleigh’s News & Observer makes clear, North Carolinians understand the risks that continue from COVID-19. Indeed, if anything, the numbers indicate that Cooper may be proceeding too quickly with reopening. This is from the N&O story entitled “NC residents don’t want to rush reopening of schools and businesses, new poll finds”:

The majority of North Carolina residents back using a go-slow approach to reopening public schools and businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new Elon University poll.

In the poll released Thursday, 77% of respondents said it was a good decision for most North Carolina public schools to offer only online classes instead of in-person classes at the start of the school year.

Only 28% of respondents said the timing of the state’s phased reopening of businesses has been too slow. Also, 28% said the state’s coronavirus rules and regulations have been too restrictive. The majority of respondents felt the state’s response was just right or wasn’t restrictive enough.

The new findings mirror results from a June Elon poll when 21% said the state’s rules were too restrictive. People who want the state to reopen immediately haven’t grown substantially since the summer, according to Jason Husser, director of the Elon University poll.

The poll also found voters to be lukewarm on the school reopening that’s been taking place:

Poll respondents were split on when students should return — 48% said most schools shouldn’t return to full-time in-person instruction for most students until there’s a vaccine and/or treatment for COVID-19 or until the start of next school year. That compared to 42% who said students should return either as soon as possible, in the next few months or before the end of the school year.

The bottom line: North Carolinians grasp the ongoing deadly seriousness of the pandemic, appreciate the impossible political and public health tight rope that the Cooper administration is trying to walk and, if anything, want the Governor to stay extremely cautious going forward. The “reopen” movement remains a noisy minority.

Click here to read the entire article.

Commentary

Nominee Barrett’s answer on this question from Kamala Harris is hard to believe

As  Adam Liptak of the New York Times reported last evening, Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s answers to the questions Senate Judiciary Committee members posed yesterday represented, for the most part, a “deft mix of expertise and evasion”:

Judge Barrett seemed to have studied recent hearings carefully, absorbing their lessons. They were presciently summarized in a 1981 memorandum written by a young White House lawyer named John G. Roberts Jr., who helped prepare Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, another Reagan nominee, for her confirmation hearings.

“The approach was to avoid giving specific responses to any direct questions on legal issues likely to come before the court,” the memo said, “but demonstrating in the response a firm command of the subject area and awareness of the relevant precedents and arguments.”

Screenshot taken on Oct. 13 at Senate Judiciary confirmation hearing as Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Cal.) addressed Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett

That said, there was at least one important moment last evening when, under questioning from California Senator and vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, Barrett offered a thoroughly unbelievable response. As Maanvi Singh of The Guardian reported, the exchange centered on the debate over the future of the Affordable Care Act. After delivering a speech about the importance of the law, Harris then posed a question to Barrett. This is from Singh’s account:

She then addressed Barrett: “Prior to your nomination, were you aware of President Trump’s statement committing to nominate judges who will strike down the Affordable Care Act? And I’d appreciate a yes or no answer.”

Barrett maintained that before she was nominated to the Supreme Court, she was unaware of his public statements. “I don’t recall hearing about or seeing such statements,” Barrett said.

Harris asked how many months after Barrett wrote an article criticizing John Roberts’ decision upholding the Affordable Care Act she received her nomination for her appeals court position.

“The Affordable Care Act and all of its protections hinge on this seat,” Harris said.

“I would hope the committee would trust my integrity,” Barrett said, noting, as she has done throughout the hearings, that she has not made any commitments to rule a certain way on the healthcare law.

The assertion, and Barrett’s implication that she had somehow tuned out the president’s loud, public criterion for judges he’d appoint, is difficult to believe.

Indeed, it is. And the evasion goes right to the heart of the deep and fundamental flaw of Barrett’s candidacy for the Court — as well as those of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Simply put, any judge who would happily appear at the White House to accept a nomination from a serial liar and would-be autocrat like Donald Trump — a man who has quite blatantly and publicly articulated and established litmus tests for potential nominees — and then pretend to be unaware of those tests is simply not to be believed.

Barrett has known for some time that she was a potential nominee for the Supreme Court. Asking us to believe that she was unaware of the conditions Trump had publicly announced he would apply in selecting such a person indicates that another virus may have been spreading at that infamous Rose Garden ceremony: Trump’s incurable case of deceitfulness.