Archives for February 2024

Once upon a time, politicians wrestled with the role of religion in politics

“The Catholic public official lives the political truth most Catholics through most of American history have accepted and insisted on: the truth that to assure our freedom we must allow others the same freedom, even if occasionally it produces conduct by them which we would hold to be sinful. … We know that the price of seeking to force our beliefs on others is that they might some day force theirs on us.”

When he was governor of New York, Mario Cuomo, a Democrat, walked a tightrope when it came to the mixing of faith and politics, particularly on the issue of abortion and reproductive rights, as is plain in his 1984 speech “Religious Belief and Public Morality: A Catholic Governor’s Perspective,” delivered at the University of Notre Dame’s Department of Theology.

More from Cuomo: “Must I, having heard the Pope renew the Church’s ban on birth control devices, veto the funding of contraceptive programs for non-Catholics or dissenting Catholics in my State? I accept the Church’s teaching on abortion. Must I insist you do? By law? By denying you Medicaid funding? By a constitutional amendment? If so, which one? Would that be the best way to avoid abortions or to prevent them?”

Yes, he asked a lot of questions. But at least he was thinking, even when he didn’t have all the answers.

Revisiting that address seems especially appropriate as American laws and religious tenets become increasingly difficult to untangle, when politicians such as House Speaker Mike Johnson point to the Bible as the answer to every question he is asked about his philosophy of governing.

War in Ukraine, Two Years In: Ukraine is running low on supplies, soldiers, and—crucially—support.

The situation for Ukraine is slipping from a stalemate to again losing territory to the Russian invasion. After two years of combat, will American and EU allies support the Ukrainian cause for as long as it takes?

Guest: Fred Kaplan, Slate’s war stories correspondent.

Will Trump Take Over the RNC? Cash-poor, on a losing streak, and firmly behind Trump, is now the time for national Republicans to change leadership?

Is RNC chairperson Ronna McDaniel to blame for Republicans’ poor fundraising and recent underperformance in elections?

Guest: Shelby Talcott, reporter covering Trump and national Republicans for Semafor.

Local News Roundup: Union County bans fluoride in their water; the Leandro saga continues; Charlotte FC kicks off season

Union County commissioners vote to ban fluoride in the county water supply. According to the CDC, putting fluoride in water is vital to keep teeth healthy, especially in young children. The practice has been done across the country for decades. Detractors claim the issue is about consent, personal freedom, and whether the board has the authority to add fluoride to the water.

Elsewhere, more signage is coming to uptown Charlotte as a display bearing the company’s name will be added to the Wells Fargo building. City Council noted this follows a precedent after signage was approved for the Truist building in 2020.

The saga of the Leandro lawsuit continues. This week, the North Carolina Supreme Court considers whether the state needs to pay around $700 million to fund education improvements as ordered by a trial court.

And coming off a playoff appearance last fall, Charlotte FC returns to the pitch this Saturday to kick off its third season. Will a new coach mean more success for the team?

Those stories and more on the Charlotte Talks local news roundup.


Mary C. Curtis, columnist for, host of the Rollcall podcast “Equal Time”
Ann Doss Helms, WFAE education reporter
Alexandria Sands, reporter with Axios Charlotte

How increased Black homeownership can put a dent in the racial wealth gap

Despite record-low Black unemployment and a higher labor force participation rate than white people, major barriers impede homeownership among Black Americans, a fact that contributes to a yawning racial wealth gap. The gap is so expansive that the 400 wealthiest Americans control the same amount of wealth as the 48 million Black people living in the United States. Importantly, however, there are solutions.

Courtney Johnson Rose serves as president of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, or NAREB, the premier network of Black real estate professionals and one of the oldest minority trade associations in the country, with more than 100 chapters nationwide. The organization is sponsoring a Building Black Wealth Tour in cities around the country, featuring classes, workshops and one-on-one counseling to advise families on home buying, investing and careers in real estate.

With her background — both personal and professional — in the field, Rose is prepared to tackle this challenge. And she is my guest on this episode of Equal Time.

The Basketball Phenom Shaking Up the NCAA

Iowa’s Caitlin Clark has scored more points than any other NCAA women’s basketball player in history, but her impact extends even further than her substantial range on the court.

Guest: Hayley McGoldrick, associate editor at Sportsnet.

Why a Hi-Tech Gun Safety Tool Isn’t Working: New technology, same problems.

Shotspotter lost a huge contract and some face when Chicago opted out of its partnership with the gunfire-identification tech company.

Why can’t new policing tech seem to break the old patterns and problems?

Guest: Jim Daley, investigations editor at South Side Weekly

Alexei Navalny Is Dead. Is His Movement Gone With Him?

Alexei Navalny died last week at age 47 in the prison where he was serving a 19-year sentence for extremism. With just one month left before a presidential election in which Putin is nearly guaranteed to win, the pro-democracy opposition movement in Russia is more beleaguered than ever.

Guest: Joshua Yaffa, contributing writer at The New Yorker and the author of Between Two Fires: Truth, Ambition, and Compromise in Putin’s Russia.

When the game of politics plunges into dangerous spectacle

“Are you not entertained?” shouts Maximus as the titular “Gladiator” in the 2000 film. And actor Russell Crowe sells it — enough to snag an Oscar — as he repeats the line to the stadium. “Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?”

Everyone loves a spectacle, even now, which is why more than 123 million viewers reportedly tuned in to this week’s Super Bowl, whether you were there for the Kansas City Chiefs, the San Francisco 49ers — or a shirtless Usher.

Don’t forget, though, that the shouted movie line was about a lot more than the show. It was a taunt, used to communicate the gladiator’s disgust with the reason the crowd cheered him. They weren’t interested in a game well-played by evenly matched opponents, which I’ll wager was the main reason Sunday’s Las Vegas event was a must-see.

That ancient Roman audience showed up for the blood. The more gruesomely the gladiator dispatched the fighters in front of him, the louder the crowd’s approval, no quarter nor empathy given.

In politics today, I’m afraid too many political gladiators are harking back to the example of ancient Rome’s idea of what will win over the citizenry, rather than pulling a page from Kansas City coach Andy Reid’s strategic playbook.

Entertainment, sure. As fractious as possible.

Valentina Gomez, 24, a Republican candidate for Missouri secretary of state, wants to make sure voters know what she thinks of LGBTQ-inclusive books. A campaign video that went viral on social media shows the candidate using a flamethrower to torch a few, with the message: “When I’m Secretary of State, I will BURN all books that are grooming, indoctrinating, and sexualizing our children. MAGA. America First.”

Rather than back away, her campaign responded in a statement to NBC News: “You want to be gay? Fine be gay. Just don’t do it around children.”

Local News Roundup: complaints about UDO-approved triplexes; CATS ridership up; Tax rebate ahead for new owners of old Duke building

On the next Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup…

Residents near SouthPark are “concerned” and even angry about triplexes popping up in the neighborhood, bringing to fruition the City’s Unified Development Ordinance, put into place last summer. We’ll hear more.

The N.C. Local Government Commission has given the go-ahead to issue $2.5 billion in bonds for CMS renovation, replacement and expansion projects at schools across the district. We’ll discuss.

A property tax rebate may be in the future for the new owners of Uptown’s old Duke Energy building. We’ll talk about what was discussed by City Council on Monday.

And the Hornets’ losing streak continues.

Mike Collins and our roundtable of reporters delve into those stories and more, on the Charlotte Talks local news roundup.


· Mary C. Curtis, columnist for, host of the Rollcall podcast “Equal Time”
· Steve Harrison, WFAE’s political reporter
· Joe Bruno, WSOC-TV reporter
· Hunter Saenz, WSOC-TV reporter