Archives for June 2019

As Democrats line up to debate, the GOP is regressing

OPINION — It was pretty startling, actually, viewing the lineup for the first debate of Democratic presidential hopefuls in April 2007 on a stage in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Among them were the usual suspects — Sens. Chris Dodd, John Edwards and Joe Biden. And then, there were surprises — Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

This is different, I thought. Whatever happens next, this looks like America, an America I had rarely experienced except in the aspirational promises of its founding documents, with the few exceptions of pioneers such as Shirley Chisholm or Jesse Jackson, when it came to choosing presidents.

When I covered the second Republican debate in May of that year, in Columbia, South Carolina, distinguishing between the candidates was a little tougher at first glance.

U.S.-Iran Conflict Escalates

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When the Trump administration withdrew from the 2015 international Iran nuclear deal and imposed strict sanctions, it was to put pressure on Iran to pull back from any plans for expansion in the Middle East. The sanctions have hurt the economy, which has also been damaged by Washington canceling waivers for countries to buy Iranian oil without a penalty.

But tensions are hotter than ever after explosions damaged two Japanese- and Norwegian-owned oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

Is America headed for more conflicts in the Middle East?

North Carolina’s Republican Party is having an identity crisis

OPINION — All eyes with be on North Carolina next year, when the Republican Party holds its 2020 convention in Charlotte to nominate President Donald Trump for a second term. In truth, though, the state has been the center of attention for a while because of actions of party members — and the gaze has not been kind.

Campaign season means ‘law and order.’ Can we break the habit?

OPINION — When mass incarceration in America gets political attention, it’s often so the issue can be used as a cudgel to attack opponents. Thus, the president Twitter-shames former Vice President Joe Biden for his role in promoting the 1994 crime bill even as Donald Trump’s own history of hounding the Central Park Five is highlighted in “When They See Us,” director Ava DuVernay’s Netflix miniseries on the teens accused, convicted, imprisoned and eventually exonerated.

When Democrats and Republicans cooperated on a criminal justice reform bill late last year that made modest changes in the federal system, they congratulated themselves for getting something done in gridlocked Washington.

But it hardly solved the problem. That’s the message of Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, or EJI. “The presidential election will be important setting the tone,” he told me at a recent appearance in Charlotte. “The hard work has to happen in North Carolina, in the state legislature on issues like sentencing, on issues like prisons, on issues like excessive punishment, and that’s true for every state in the country.”

President Trump’s U.K. Visit

CHARLOTTE, NC —  The Unites States and Britain have for generations been proud of their “special relationship,” their cultural, political and military bonds. But as President Trump traveled across the Atlantic for a state dinner and high-level meetings, there are questions about those bonds. The president and the queen exchanged strong and supportive toasts – but there was more to the story.