FROM TRUMP, NO RESPECT FOR RUTH BADER GINSBURG, OR THE RULES: Rules are for fools. To the cheaters go the spoils. That’s President Donald Trump’s credo. And he hasn’t been proven wrong yet. Technically, yes, it’s Trump’s right to nominate a new Supreme Court justice as soon as he wants and for as long as he’s in office — and he indeed signaled in a tweet Saturday morning that he wanted to move forward “without delay.” McConnell, for his part, can absolutely try to hustle that nominee through Senate confirmation. But McConnell would be violating his own code, the one he adopted after Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016. McConnell then decreed that with an election just nine months away, President Barack Obama should not be allowed to fill a court vacancy. The American people should first be allowed to speak through their presidential ballots in early November. Now an election is little more than one month away. And that code — poof! — is gone. McConnell’s quickness to abandon it arises principally from his own unscrupulousness but owes something as well to his confidence about Trump’s ethically inverted inclinations, which are that it matters only whether you win or lose, not how you play the game.
HOW NC SHOULD MEET THE COMING EVICTION CRISIS: To address the eviction crisis, the cost of unpaid rent needs to be shared by landlords, tenants, and the government. The federal government has already helped with this in part by offering forbearance on federally backed mortgages, including mortgages for rental properties. Now, the state of North Carolina and local governments need to step in to fill the remaining need for eviction prevention assistance. While the state recently announced a commitment of funding for eviction prevention, it has left it up to local governments to deploy these funds. These public funds should be used to cover a portion of unpaid rent with the requirement that landlords forgive a portion and commit to not pursuing eviction, while tenants pay what they can afford based on their reduced income. This approach will ensure that tenants are not evicted after the federal moratorium expires, that far fewer landlords are forced to sell and North Carolina can move forward with an economic recovery from COVID-19. Unlike similar programs around the country, the Wake County program asks landlords to share in the cost of recovery by forgiving a portion of rent owed and to not pursue eviction. The program provides landlords with tenants who cannot pay a badly need source of revenue while removing the risk of future evictions due to back rent.
QUALITY COUNTS REPORT SHOWS NC PUBLIC SCHOOLS COMING UP SHORT: If quality counts in education, it doesn’t count for much in North Carolina, according to grades of the states released last week by Education Week. While North Carolina’s Constitution mandates every child in North Carolina have access to a “quality” education, the state’s delivered a mediocre, “C” grade product – ranking 33rd in the nation, according to the Education Week’s “Quality Counts” study. Less than a decade ago, the state ranked 19th in the nation. North Carolina ranked 44th – six slots from the basement – in school finance. Within that category, the state received an “F,” ranking 48th across key education spending indicators – per-pupil spending when adjusted for regional cost differences; share of students in school districts with per-student spending at or above the national average and share of total taxable resources devoted to education. The legislature’s leadership contend they lavish money on education despite complaints – and vetoes -- from Gov. Roy Cooper that public school funding is massively inadequate to provide all children with a quality education. These leaders point to recent comments from former state judge Howard Manning – but actually distort them. Manning’s point is that “quality” is the significant goal. But, as Manning and anyone else with any common sense knows, you get what you pay for.
JUSTICE GINSBURG IS GONE, BUT DEMOCRACY MUST SURVIVE: As the Jewish community bids goodbye to the year 5780, we and the greater American community lost a “tzadik” — a righteous person, a hero to those who believe the “we” in “We the people” must expand in each generation. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away Friday night, delivering one more opinion: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” How like her to leave an admonition to respect the Constitution, to act fairly and to do justice — even if others might ignore or scorn her. I would never have become a lawyer, millions of women would never have become lawyers — or judges or doctors or businesswomen or full members of American society — had she not had the sheer intellectual firepower and will to convince courts that “protections” for women were a cage, a violation of their humanity and of the equal protection under the law guaranteed by the Constitution. Her dissents were prescient. In Shelby County v. Holder, which gutted the preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act, she warned, "Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.” Since the ruling, a gusher of policies designed to suppress minority voting flooded covered jurisdictions, just as Ginsburg predicted. Now McConnell declares his intent to deliver a floor vote for President Trump’s nominee less than six weeks before the next election (an election Republicans may lose overwhelmingly). His letter to his colleagues, however, reveals he does not yet have the votes to abscond with another Supreme Court seat. McConnell’s spectacular hypocrisy perfectly encapsulates why Republicans must lose up and down the ballot. They have adopted a mentality in which fairness is for fools and the rules apply only to the other side. It is a mind-set at odds with fairness and the rule of a law, which demands that the rules apply equally regardless of one’s status or identity.
A PLAGUE OF BOTH WILDFIRES AND CONSPIRACY THEORIES: Michael Cross, the Republican nominee for attorney general of Oregon, alleged in a Facebook post: “I’ve heard of at least 14 people involved in starting these fires and this is just in the last 12 hours. … Sounds to me like domestic terrorism.” Likewise, a failed Republican Senate candidate in Oregon, Paul J. Romero Jr., falsely tweeted that six antifa activists had been arrested for arson. The conspiracy theories create real perils. Some citizens in Oregon set up armed roadblocks to stop cars and look for arsonists. A couple photographing fires in the town of Molalla somehow provoked rumors of antifa arsonists, prompting gunmen to search for them. “Apparently I came very close to being shot by a group of ‘vigilantes,’” the woman, Jennifer Paulsen, tweeted afterward. I’ve seen militias set up armed checkpoints in countries like Yemen and Sudan, but I never expected to see them in my beloved home state. In Multnomah County, the sheriff warned that people could be arrested for setting up illegal checkpoints, and on Tuesday, sheriff’s deputies issued criminal citations to three men for establishing a roadblock. This is an echo of something I wrote about in June: a hysteria in rural towns that they were about to be attacked by antifa, leading citizens to pull out their guns and gather to fight back. When the invaders never showed up, the vigilantes sometimes regarded this as vindication: They had scared off the attackers. All this rumormongering leaves me feeling that the social fabric is unraveling, as if the shared understanding of reality that is the basis for any society is eroding. The ugliness also raises a question: If we see this unraveling now when the science is clear and the rumors are so manifestly groundless, then what might happen in November if the election results are close? Brace yourselves.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
RUTH GRANT: THE ABUSE OF ASYLUM SEEKERS MUST STOP: I have read the reports about women being sterilized at the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia. It has also been reported that there have been 5,772 . COVID-19 cases in ICE detention centers. We all saw the photographs of children detained in cages at ICE facilities. How can anyone who has ever loved a child stomach that? Who are these people being treated so cruelly? The vast majority are asylum seekers awaiting a judicial hearing. They have not been accused of any crime — seeking asylum is perfectly legal. And, most of them have designated people to sponsor them upon release. The tragic mistreatment of immigrants is not who we are as Americans. But if we do nothing about it, it will become who we are — to our everlasting shame.
JOHN DOWD: DAN FOREST'S AVERSION TO MASKS IS IRRESPONSIBLE: Regarding “Forest says no masks mandate if he’s governor,” (Sept. 17): Lt. Gov. Dan Forest says “all science is based upon skepticism.” How reckless of him it would be to lift mandated masks, particularly in schools, and expose our teachers and students to infection compromising their health and possibly their lives. We’ve seen how premature openings in other states and reckless behavior by individuals, in the name of individual freedom, have resulted in an increase in infection and deaths. The notion of individual freedom assumes a link with responsibility toward others and our greater society. I have to wonder if Forest would feel the same way if his children were not home-schooled. I suggest he catch up on science and find something else to campaign on.
JOE LYONS: TRUMP'S ATTACK ON POSTAL SERVICE SHOULD BE THE LAST STRAW: Because many of Trump’s loyal supporters fear that he will be in jeopardy if the next election is free and fair, they have banded together, with Trump’s blessing, to suppress the next election any way they can. Therefore, at Trump’s behest, they are using the Postmaster-General, Louis De Joy, to disrupt our Postal Service. So far, he has discarded many of the mail sorting machines and thrown them in the trash, ripped up some of our blue mailboxes from the pavement, eliminated “needless” overtime for postal workers, and let our letters and packages pile up in bins by sending out empty and half-empty trucks. And now Trump is preparing us for this suppression by sending out dire warnings about mail-in ballots that may not be counted because of late mail delivery. This mail disruption, of course, has already affected the V.A.’s prescription delivery service, the slowdown of Social Security checks for seniors and vital loan payments to renters and small business owners. But Trump and his henchmen justify these extreme hardships as “collateral damage.” After all, every worthwhile endeavor has collateral damage. Let’s get rid of these bums by voting Trump out of office in November.