Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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THE GOP'S WAR ON THE POOR: So what is the war on the poor about? As I see it, you need to make a distinction between what motivates the G.O.P. base and what motivates conservative politicians. Many blue-collar whites still think that the poor are lazy and prefer to live off welfare. But as events in Maine show, such beliefs aren’t central to the war on the poor, which is mainly being driven by political elites. And what motivates these elites is ideology. Their political identities, not to mention their careers, are wrapped up in the notion that more government is always bad. So they oppose programs that help the poor partly out of a general hostility toward “takers,” but also because they hate the idea of government helping anyone. And if they get their way, society will stop helping tens of millions of Americans who desperately need that help.
https://www.wral.com/paul-krugman-the-g-o-p-s-war-on-the-poor/17704135/

Under GOP leadership, NC's income gap is the widest in decades

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The inequality is now staggering:

In North Carolina, the average income for someone in the top one percent is 20.6 times larger than everyone else, a figure that has increased substantially during the Great Recession and is much higher than it was in the 1960s through early 1980s. The top one percent took home over 17 percent of all income in North Carolina in 2015, and the top 0.1 percent commanded 7.4 of all income. In 1974, when the level of income inequality in North Carolina was the lowest in modern history, the top one percent only consumed 7.8 percent of all North Carolina income.

Not an accident, it's by design. And the vast majority of the Republican base has unknowingly contributed to its own decline.

Saturday News: A sign of the times

WHITE SUPREMACIST GANG MEMBERSHIP ON THE RISE IN NC: "We're not sure what's causing it. It's just a trend we're starting to see, and we're trying to figure that out," Taylor told members of the state Emergency Response Commission. "We don't know what's causing it other than this one group that seems to be standing out right now – Bound for Glory." Russell Jackson, a DPS intelligence agent, said national groups like the Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Pride also are expanding across the state, including inside the prison system. "Not only are we seeing them increasing in numbers, but we're seeing them increasing in violence and violent behavior," Jackson said. Many white supremacy groups engage in the same criminal enterprises as other gangs, Taylor said, and some gangs have even developed their own dark web apps to communicate out of sight of law enforcement. But he said recruiting is still mostly done via social media or in person.
https://www.wral.com/white-supremacist-gangs-growing-in-nc-officials-say/17711284/

Governor Cooper asks Trump to back off on tariffs

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Defending those NC farmers and producers at risk of economic collapse:

Cooper wrote a letter Thursday to the president telling him retaliatory tariffs against U.S. products by other countries resulting from the administration's increases stand to harm several North Carolina commodity exports.

Cooper mentioned specifically pork heading to Mexico and China and tobacco going to Turkey, China and the European Union. He says North Carolina exports of these products alone to the affected regions are $550 million annually. The governor says rising prices for all U.S. steel and aluminum also increases costs for anyone who uses them in their production processes.

Roy shouldn't have to do this, because this trade war Trump has gleefully engaged in is not a partisan issue. Congress could (easily) pass Veto-proof legislation to halt or limit this activity, but Ryan and McConnell are simply not responsible enough to take the proper steps. Here's more from Roy on what's at stake:

Friday News: A chip off the ol' block

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JUNIOR BERGER FAILED TO DISCLOSE INTERNET GAMBLING DONORS: A campaign finance complaint filed against N.C. Court of Appeals Judge Phil Berger Jr. says he failed to disclose who paid for food, drinks and other expenses at his 2016 campaign fundraisers. The complaint also says Berger — whose father is Senate leader Phil Berger — listed two donors as alpaca farmers instead of gambling business owners, and that several of the people listed as donors in his disclosure reports say they didn’t contribute. Hall’s complaint alleges that while serving as DA, Berger told police to “hold off” going after the (gambling) parlors. Berger was not the DA at the time of the campaign donation and was serving as an administrative law judge during his 2016 campaign. After retiring from Democracy NC, Hall now describes himself as an “independent campaign finance watchdog” and said he expects to file other complaints with the elections board this year.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article215201205.html

NCDP weighs in AGAINST ALL AMENDMENTS

PROTECT OUR CONSTITUTION, VOTE “AGAINST” ALL CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS

The legislature is running roughshod over our constitution, pushing through new measures to restrict voting, undermine our separation of powers, and nickel and dime consumers. These are unprecedented, unnecessary, politically-driven, and hurt our state. Many are nothing more than a “blank-check” to allow partisan politicians to do as they please.

North Carolina Must Stand Against These Attacks on Our Constitution and Vote “Against.”

Counterpoint: LGBTQ-friendly companies should *not* boycott states like North Carolina

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Locating here might be just what the doctor ordered:

In my late 20s, I followed a Sapphic North Star to Seattle, one of the nation’s most progressive cities. There, I met my wife at a coffee shop in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, where we would later share our first home together. We were represented by a gay mayor and two gay state legislators, while benefiting from robust statewide nondiscrimination protections—a lucky situation we only occasionally thought about.

Safeguards like these are far too rare for far too many. Only 44 percent of all LGBTQ people nationwide have these same guarantees today, and none of them live in the South—where we now live, in North Carolina. Here, we and all LGBTQ people are keenly aware of the potential vulnerabilities we face in the eyes of employers, landlords, and others. With the differing experiences of Washington and North Carolina in mind, it’s clear what is and is not useful in advancing equality nationwide—and ill-considered corporate relocation boycotts are definitely in the latter category.

I recently got into a pointless argument with somebody who basically said, "If you're a straight white male you should STFU and let marginalized people lead the discussion." And I get most of that. But I also know if I don't speak out in certain venues and media (like this one), the issues won't be addressed at all, or at best very infrequently. With that said, the opinion expressed above has been on my mind for some time also. The thing about boycotts is, they "isolate." The intention to isolate a state as punishment for discriminatory practices, in order to generate a loss of commerce, seems like a valid approach. Hurt 'em in their wallets, as it were. But that isolation comes at a cost to the LGBTQ folks who could have found employment and solidarity working at these companies. And those opportunities are desperately needed here in the South:

Thursday News: Feet to the fire

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AD BLITZ GOES AFTER GEORGE HOLDING FOR HEALTHCARE VOTES: The midterm election is still almost four months off, but a television ad war has already started between Republican 2nd District Congressman George Holding and an outside group over health care. Holding has spent nearly $200,000 dollars on ads since May to answer ads by a group called North Carolinians for a Fair Economy that criticize his votes on health coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. "I think he's running scared. I think he's really feeling vulnerable," said Paula Wolf, who is with North Carolinians for a Fair Economy. Wolf wouldn't say who's funding the group, which has spent almost as much on ads as Holding. But she said the nonprofit, which can only advocate on issues and not endorse a particular candidate, is in compliance with all federal laws.
https://www.wral.com/campaign-ads-already-cranking-up-in-one-congressional-race/17707166/

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