DOES THE NC GOVERNOR STILL HAVE ANY POWER? NOT IF THE LEGISLATURE HAS ITS WAY: “We’re strongly urging all North Carolinians to reject this backdoor effort that would lead to manipulation and cronyism in an institution that must remain fair, independent and impartial.” As McCoy noted, the amendment could lead to court packing to shift the balance of the court. Democrats have a 4-3 majority on the N.C. Supreme Court. If that holds after the November election, Republicans could add two seats with candidates named by the legislature. Republicans have denied they have any such plan but that would be consistent with their previous actions, including cutting three seats on the N.C. Court of Appeals to reduce Gov. Cooper’s chances of making appointments to the second-highest court. Republican legislators say the constitutional amendment is needed to take the politics out of judicial appointments. Excuse us if we —and the former governors and chief justices — are skeptical of their motives. This constitutional amendment would make any flaws in the current system worse. It should be rejected.
HURRICANES PROMPT FRANK TALK ON SEA LEVEL RISE, ECONOMIC FAIRNESS: Anyone familiar with coastal North Carolina knows that there is a narrow band of wealth right along the coast adjacent to a wider band of poverty stretching from Virginia to South Carolina. It was popular a few years ago to talk about 2 North Carolinas. That recognition seems to have slipped from our consciousness. The aftermath of these two recent storms should bring it back to the forefront. This wide band of poverty is where the most destruction as well as the slowest recovery occurred. The people living in that area often build cheaper homes in flood plains and don’t buy flood insurance. These people aren’t dumb, lazy nor improvident. They are just poor. The last tax cut helped those who least needed help. Since tax codes aren’t likely to change there will have to be other government programs.
LACK OF SUPPORT FOR POWER-GRABBING AMENDMENTS SPEAKS VOLUMES: We know that the “victims rights” amendment is part of a state-by-state, cookie-cutter effort financed by a California billionaire and that the “hunting and fishing” amendment emanates from a cynical national conservative effort to drive rural white voters to the polls. But the rest of the slate appears to have simply emerged from the late night musings and behind-closed-doors machinations of Republican legislative leaders. And this weirdly opaque situation has only grown weirder and more opaque in recent weeks as Election Day has drawn nearer. The evident support for the two power-grabbing amendments, in particular, is so thin that it’s literally as if N.C. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, a Republican from Rockingham County, and N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore (the two main GOP figures behind all six amendments) are attempting to amend the state’s fundamental governing document through a deceptive political magic trick or shell game.
MESSAGE TO YOUNG VOTERS: THE GOP IS SCARED OF YOU: Maybe you find that hard to believe. Maybe you wonder how the party can be scared of you — or of anybody — given that it controls all three branches of the federal government and most of the nation’s state houses. You’re worried about paying your student loans, putting food on the table, getting home without becoming some cop’s mistake, and the GOP is scared of you? In a word: Yes. See, the party knows that if everybody votes, it can’t win. That’s simple math. The Republican electorate skews sharply older and white. Polling from The Roper Center at Cornell University says whites went for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016 by 57 percent to 37 percent, while people of color strongly supported her, African Americans giving her 89 percent of their vote. Trump also lost big among young voters, but won big among their elders. This dependence on older whites is a problem for the GOP, given that the United States is fast moving toward a younger, non-white majority. The Census Bureau predicts that, well before mid-century, America will be a nation where no racial group enjoys a numerical advantage. And the authoritative FiveThirtyEight blog reports that the white median age in this country is 43, while for Asians it’s 36, for African Americans, 34 and for Hispanics, 29.
AMERICA'S ELECTIONS COULD BE HACKED. GO VOTE ANYWAY: All along, the nation’s top intelligence and law-enforcement officials have been sounding the alarm, warning that Russia is engaged in a “24-7 365-days-a-year” effort to disrupt the upcoming midterm elections and imploring Congress and the White House to take more decisive action. President Trump may not believe that the risk is real, but the American people do. An overwhelming majority say they are concerned about election security, and more than 60 percent say the Trump administration should be doing more to protect the vote from foreign interference. Numbers like these suggest that whether or not hackers manage to gain access to voting systems, they have already achieved their main goal, which is to sow pervasive doubt over the integrity of American elections. Whoever wins, this lack of confidence is as damaging to the nation’s democracy as it is to its national security. And it drives down turnout at the polls, as voters who are already skeptical of the political process begin to believe not just that their vote won’t count, but that it literally won’t be counted.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
MARTHA BROCK: FORCED TREATMENT OF MENTALLY ILL NEEDS TO END: I wonder why Disability Rights North Carolina and the National Disability Rights Network choose to quibble about issues like transport of patients and ignore the larger and more severe problem of forced treatment of individuals labeled as mentally ill, something usually ignored by the medical and legal communities (“Police shouldn’t transport mental health patients,” Oct. 18). Please note that both women who died in the tragic South Carolina incident had voluntarily sought treatment. It does not matter what your intent was once you are in the hospital emergency department. If you have any history of mental illness under current law, the chances of going home are practically nil. I am a former employee of Disability Rights NC, so I know that the National Disability Rights Network is not the only civil rights group to dodge this issue. So has the ACLU and many others. However, it is long past the time to break the silence about coercion and forced medication in our nation.
JONAH MEYER: VOTER SUPPRESSION IS REAL AND DANGEROUS: Shame, shame, on any group or individual who abuses his position of power in an effort to disenfranchise or otherwise frustrate the ability of particular groups of our nation’s citizenry from being able to cast a vote! I can think of nothing more despicable and repugnant inasmuch as it relates to the very basic and perhaps most significant element of a functioning democracy: unfettered access by all eligible persons to cast a ballot and have that vote count. While my friends on the right often complain about voter fraud — a phenomenon that time and again has been proven to be virtually nonexistent — intimidation, outright misinformation, gerrymandering, purging of voter rolls and the many other creative ways some officials are attempting to, through any loophole imaginable, hinder one’s ability to vote, are very real, present and dangerous. (Observe Georgia, Texas and Florida, among other states, in 2018.) Such actions are not only morally wrong but serve as the direct epitome of anti-democratic ideals.
DAVID KIEL: WHY IS TRUMP SO FRIENDLY WITH ASSASSINS?: Why does this president seem to favor leaders who approve of or initiate assassinations? This week he has refused to condemn the killing of a U.S.-based Saudi national who wrote for The Washington Post. His murder was apparently orchestrated by the Saudi crown prince who Trump considers a close ally. In the past, he has praised Vladimir Putin, who is widely believed to have had Russian nationals murdered in the U.K., historically our closest ally. He is approving of the Philippine president who boasts about his county’s hundreds, if not thousands, of extra-judicial killings of suspected drug dealers. His diplomatic favorite is the North Korean dictator, who had his own half brother murdered in a public assassination. These are just four examples that are obvious to any person who pays some attention to the news. Isn’t it time that those who support the rule of law stand up and send a message that we do not support murder as a public policy?