ACT NOW ON CRITICAL ELECTION NEEDS TO ASSURE FULL VOTING IN NOVEMBER: North Carolina is due $22.6 million in federal funding for election technology, security and COVID-19 safety as well as other voting related needs. But the state must come up with about $4.4 million to match. In one of the legislature’s recently passed COVID-19 response bills, it specifically prevents the state board from using any of its own funds for the match. The legislature needs to either quickly appropriate the matching funds or give the elections board a way to access those federal funds. The additional money is critical. It will help assure our polling places are safe, voters have several ways to cast ballots and as many voters as possible participate in our democracy. It shouldn’t be a matter of partisan bickering or shenanigans. We need to do this quickly so the necessary planning and procedures can be in place. Further, the legislature needs to act to give local boards more flexibility to assign poll workers and set up polling places for appropriate “social distancing.”
ARMED NC PROTESTERS TERRORIZED FAMILY. WHERE WERE THE POLICE?: Last weekend, a group of about a dozen men and women carried guns, flags and a large pipe wrench in a march through the streets of downtown Raleigh. The gathering was organized and promoted on Facebook by a group named Blue Igloo, an apparent nod to Boogaloo, an anti-government movement that has held similar demonstrations across the United States. This march, however, was an apparent violation of North Carolina law that prohibits possessing a weapon while participating in or watching a protest. Where was law enforcement? Capitol and Raleigh Police Department officers were present in several spots downtown, including the perimeter of the Capitol building and executive mansion. At one point, police followed the Blue Igloo group, and they appeared to know enough about its members to arrest one on unrelated charges as he left the gathering. Viral photos from News & Observer visual journalist Travis Long show the group at a downtown Subway, but it’s unclear if police saw an incident, captured on video during the march, in which of one member of the group confronted a Raleigh couple who were with their two young children. The member, identified by N&O visual journalist Julia Wall as former NC House candidate Perry Whitlock of Garner, wielded the pipe wrench and told Durham County assistant district attorney Beth Hopkins Thomas, “I can get you from here,” according to her husband, Deonte Thomas.
BOB ORR: TRUMP'S FAILED LEADERSHIP IS EXEMPLIFIED IN COVID 19 RESPONSE: Our reliance on government in times of great pain and peril calls for inspired, competent and, I would submit, constitutionally grounded leaders at all levels of government – particularly in the President of the United States. Donald Trump has failed to provide that leadership. We have heard the President exclaim his perception of total presidential power at a time when we needed reassurance in our country’s leadership, and our future. He’s repeatedly ignored Congress, issued unprecedented executive orders and made unilateral decisions, shoving the Tenth Amendment and the states’ rights it protects into irrelevance. He has bullied our country’s governors, threatening manipulation of federal relief based on who does and does not support him politically. And the list goes on. He even suggested we drink bleach to abate the virus. For registered Republicans like myself who have worked to build and support the Republican Party, we are increasingly dismayed by the failures of this President. This is not only because of his floundering responses to the pandemic, but his continual grasping for power, to the exclusion of our Congress, state governments, local governments, even the subject of science itself. Most importantly, his actions are in complete disregard of our Constitution and the founding principles of America.
IF TRUMP HAD BEEN IN CHARGE DURING WWII, THIS COLUMN WOULD BE IN GERMAN: Coronavirus deaths are surging past 86,000 and unemployment claims past 36 million, but Trump sounded on Monday as if the pandemic is already over. “We have met the moment and we have prevailed,” he declared. It’s as if Roosevelt had declared Victory in Europe before D-Day. Medical experts argue that it’s necessary to dramatically ramp up testing, but Trump has no national plan to do so, and said on Thursday that testing might be “frankly overrated.” “When you test you find something is wrong with people,” he declared. “If we didn’t do any testing, we would have very few cases.” The mind reels. This is akin to FDR saying that if no one reported the attack on Pearl Harbor, it wouldn’t have happened. And rewind “Obamagate” while we’re at it. “This is the greatest political scam, hoax in the history of our country. ... People should be going to jail for this stuff,” Trump thundered on Thursday, even though a few days earlier he was unable to explain what law President Barack Obama supposedly violated. “You know what the crime is,” he told a Post reporter. “The crime is very obvious to everybody. All you have to do is read the newspapers, except yours.” Actually no one knows what the crime is, because there isn’t one. As the Bulwark’s Tim Miller explains, Trump’s theory seems to be that a high-level cabal framed him for colluding with Russia but neglected to make the information public before the election when it could have helped Hillary Clinton. When stated so concisely it sounds preposterous — so Trump prefers not to spell it out.
THE MASKED VERSUS THE UNMASKED: Once again, in this frayed Republic, there is scant middle ground. The virus is Godzilla destroying all before it. The virus is a myth, get over it. Biking onto the Manhattan Bridge I pass a new piece of graffiti: “Bezos made the virus.” Nobody foresaw what a pathogen about one-thousandth the width of an eyelash could trigger in a society where truth itself has been obliterated by President Trump, day after lying day. If he could deny the visible, like the number of people at his inauguration, imagine what he could do with the invisible. Or don’t imagine it, just look around. Trump, in a tweet last month, urges his tens of millions of followers to “LIBERATE” Virginia from the lockdown and “save your great 2nd Amendment,” which is “under siege.” Or, roughly translated, grab your guns while you can to fight the liberal virus conspiracy, just the latest attempt after climate change and all the rest to emasculate America. His languidness, Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and go-to person for every known problem on the planet, is asked by Time magazine whether he is willing to commit to the holding of the Nov. 3 election. “I’m not sure I can commit one way or the other, but right now that’s the plan,” he says. For Trump, this disaster is no more than a deep state conspiracy like the Mueller investigation or the impeachment proceedings. All of it: the virus death toll, surely inflated by officials as a means to defeat him; the dented Dow; the highest unemployment numbers since the Great Depression; the collapse of his “spectacular” economy; the dire scientific predictions of the consequences of premature economic reopening. It’s all about him because everything is.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
KEN JONES: TRUMP IS PUTTING PEOPLE IN HARM'S WAY: President Trump has proclaimed that we’re a nation at war. We’re being told that we must fight to save the “American way of life.” It seems this way of life is centered solely on restoring the economy. No one doubts this is an important goal, but it appears that those who will bear most of the burden are those who’ll gain the least. Since working from home is not an option for them, those who work in factories, health care, retail, restaurants and the service sector will be placed most directly in harm’s way. There are few politically connected plutocrats among the ranks of those on the front line of this war. In war, people die. Will those who will pay the ultimate price in this battle be remembered as heroes? Will we build statues to them as we have to soldiers who fought for us in other wars? Or will these people be considered expendable and forgotten? I suspect we all know the answer.
GAIL PHARES: VULNERABLE PRISONERS NEED TO BE RELEASED: Regarding Ned Barnett “Prisoners deserve protection from COVID-19,” (May 12 Opinion): I strongly agree about the need to release people from N.C. prisons.. Elders, people charged with parole violations, those who are near their release date or very ill should be release immediately. They should not be condemned to death for these violations. Gov. Roy Cooper and the prison system must act with compassion and common sense and release these people.
BRYAN BOUCHER: MANAFORT WALKS, POOR PRISONERS SUFFER: The article “Paul Manafort released from prison due to virus concerns,” (May 13) is another example of “money talks” in our society. Prisons are overpopulated with nonviolent offenders whose lives are at risk of contracting COVID-19, yet this once powerful public figure goes home while the legal system hems and haws about the early release of prisoners in this country who are of no risk to society and who don’t have the means (money for high profile lawyers) to get the same treatment. Shame on our government for this and many other social inequalities that favor the rich and powerful.