Criminal justice reform had a bipartisan minute. Then 2020 reared its head

For a while, it looked as though the distance between the parties had narrowed on the issue of criminal justice reform. Bipartisan cooperation passed the First Step Act, a small step indeed toward remedying America’s mass incarceration crisis that disproportionately, in a historically skewed system, burdens minorities and the poor in everything from arrests to sentencing. Increasingly, though, the rhetoric resembles a partisan return to form.

But is the public changing?

A look at the growing disinformation wars

The right has long accused the media of bias, but now some on the left, including Bernie Sanders, are echoing accusations of media bias. New York Times media columnist Jim Rutenberg says the “Trump era forces us to be a little more aggressive” about the telling the truth because journalists are met with “so much disinformation.”But Roll Call columnist Mary C. Curtis adds that journalists have to be cognizant of their own biases, “every journalist frames their story, and we have to be honest about that.” Adam Serwer and Bari Weiss also join.

America’s Way Forward After Mass Shootings

CHARLOTTE, NC — President Trump is heading to El PasoTexas, and DaytonOhio, after shootings left a total of 31 dead. His official message this week decried violence and white supremacy, but many also criticized his own divisive words. The division between politicians and parties continues on the best way forward and the reasons for the carnage. Is it guns, racism, mental illness, video games, or a combination?

The Baltimore that raised me is America too

OPINION — It was one of those Baltimore row houses that have come to define the city, three stories high, with a set of white marble steps out front. I will never forget those steps, the ones I had to scrub weekly, brush in one hand, Bon Ami cleanser in the other. And when I was finished, I had to do the same for older neighbors who needed the help. But those folks did their part, my mother reminded me, watching over the neighborhood from their windows when the block’s men, women and children were away working, running errands or attending school.

That’s what neighbors do for neighbors, all over America. And yes, that includes West Baltimore, about which Donald Trump tweeted: “No human being would want to live there.”

To my fellow Americans, especially those amused by the “antics” of the president of the United States, who buy what he’s selling, imagine how you would feel if those people and places that are in your bones were judged subhuman by the person whose job it is be a leader, your leader.

Is a blue city in a purple state having second thoughts about hosting a red convention?

OPINION — CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When the Democratic National Convention hit town in 2012, the dancing traffic cop made headlines for his smooth moves and entertaining approach to law enforcement. The officer captured the party atmosphere of that event, leading up to the renomination of no-drama President Barack Obama for a second term.

City leaders and residents now look back at that time with nostalgia as they prepare for the Republican National Convention coming to town from Aug. 24-27 next year to renominate a president who is all drama, all the time — as chants of “Send her back” at a Trump rally in Greenville, North Carolina, earlier this month have reminded everyone of exactly what’s at stake.

Anticipating the economic and related benefits for the city after it was chosen by the GOP last year, Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority CEO Tom Murray said, “Charlotte has the collaboration, infrastructure and hospitality that will make the 2020 RNC an unforgettable experience for its attendees.”

Now, some are worrying about just how unforgettable the experience will be.

The Politics of Robert Mueller’s Public Testimony

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The public will hear from special counsel Robert Mueller, a reluctant witness as he testifies before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees. Will it be mostly political theater, with Democrats and Republicans trying to score points, or will substantive information be shared?

Charlotte Talks News Roundup: Clayton Wilcox In CMS Limbo; Trump Racist Tweet Stirs Anger

The revolving door of Charlotte-Mecklenbrg Schools superintendents appeared ready for another turn with the sudden suspension of Clayton Wilcox. President Trump, on the heels of his racist tweet, appeared in front of a North Carolina crowd that chanted “send her back,” which the president later tried to disavow.

David Boraks, reporter, WFAE (@davidboraks)

Danielle Chemtob, development reporter, The Charlotte Observer (@daniellechemtob)

Mary C. Curtis, columnist, Roll Call (@mcurtisnc3)

Erik Spanberg, managing editor, Charlotte Business Journal (@CBJspanberg)

Are we in this American experiment together? A July Fourth question to contemplate

OPINION — Who doesn’t love Cary Grant, the debonair British-born, American acting legend, who wooed leading ladies, including the Hepburns, Katharine and Audrey, as well as generations of moviegoers?

But he was not so charming when his submarine commander character in 1943’s “Destination Tokyo” said: “The Japs don’t understand the love we have for our women. They don’t even have a word for it in their language.”

Demonizing “the enemy” in wartime as “the other,” incapable of emotion and not quite human is not unusual. But someone always pay a hefty price. Loyal Japanese American families, rounded up and shipped to internment camps, waited until 1988 for President Ronald Reagan to issue an apology; survivors received meager compensation. Though that was expected to be that, the trauma to those Americans and the nation lingered.

And despite that World War II-era lesson, and ones before and after, America continues to make the same mistake, a notion important to contemplate during the Fourth of July festivities, when we celebrate the ideal.

This year, a Washington, D.C., military parade and fireworks display with a speech by Donald Trump that places a national holiday squarely in partisan territory will be both a distraction from and a reminder of our current plight.

Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup: SCOTUS Gerrymandering Decision; New Noise Ordinance; NC Budget

After days of “wait and see”, finally a decision from the Supreme Court about North Carolina’s Gerrymandering case. We’ll go through the details.

It got noisy at City Council as they passed a new noise ordinance which some say violates freedom of speech.

The North Carolina Senate votes ‘yes’ on House Bill 370 requiring sheriffs in the state to work with ICE.  Urban sheriffs are opposed, and Governor Cooper calls it “unconstitutional.”  And the legislature has a budget compromise.

Axios uncovers documents allegedly explaining why former Governor Pat McCrory isn’t working for Donald Trump.

Mike Collins and a roundtable of reporters talks about those stories and more on the Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup.

Guests: 

Michael Bitzer, Political Scientist, Catawba College

Gwendolyn Glenn, WFAE Reporter

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com and WCCB

Jonathan Lowe, reporter for Spectrum News

Joe Bruno, WSOC-TV Reporter

This election, black voters will not lie low and take one for the team

OPINION — Republicans often say that the Democratic Party takes black voters for granted. They are right.

Of course, the GOP then does nothing to appeal to those voters. In fact, with the actions and words of its leaders on everything from gerrymandered districts (see North Carolina) to fair-housing enforcement (or the lack of it), the Republican Party, which once claimed broad support as the party of Lincoln, takes deliberate action to repel them.

So, election after election, Democrats count on GOP radioactivity to drive African Americans to vote for the “D.” What choice do they have, after all?