Very much up for grabs: this year’s profile in courage

OPINION — “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Identifying the politician offering that idealistic advice is not so hard — President John F. Kennedy at his Jan. 20, 1961, inauguration. But that’s not all the 35th president had to say about the promise and challenges of America.

Climate change? “The supreme reality of our time is the vulnerability of our planet.” Income inequality? “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, based in Boston, planned to regularly tweet out Kennedy’s quotes, though if you now try to seek a daily dose of inspiration, you will see a note on its page: “We’re sorry, but we will not be posting updates to our social media channels during the government shutdown. Also, all National Archives facilities are closed and activities are canceled until further notice.”

Impact of Government Shutdown

CHARLOTTE,  NC — Wednesday marks the 26th day of the partial government shutdown with no end in sight as Americans wait on lawmakers to resolve this standoff.

It’s not only the federal workers themselves who are at risk. Lately, the country is seeing airport slowdowns as TSA agents and air traffic controllers are affected; food inspections are being curtailed; national parks are being overrun with tourists and litter.

And if this shutdown keeps going, we may start to see some of those long-term impacts get worse. People could then potentially lose their homes and cars, and won’t have access to their medicine. Some already cannot afford to pay to fill their gas tanks to get to work. In the future, food-stamp payments may be affected.

And some are finding other jobs, finding a government job fulfilling but too unpredictable when it comes to paying the bills. (Mary C. Curtis)

Our Political Contributor Mary C. Curtis discusses what happens if this shutdown lasts much longer.

If Trump is looking for a national emergency, he should try these ones instead

OPINION — Dueling teleprompter speeches and a high-drama walkout: This is what it looks like when our country’s leaders debate the best way to meet the challenges at the border and whether shutting down the government is the best way to settle it.

If no one budges this week — and the way talks have been going so far, optimism is not particularly warranted — the next step could be a national emergency, declared by the president. But first Donald Trump seems intent on diluting the word “emergency” to mean whatever he wants it to mean on a particular day or hour.

Government Shutdown and Border Wall

CHARLOTTE, NC–

President Trump and lawmakers may not have made much headway in discussions on ending the government shutdown and agreeing on terms for a wall on the southern border.

Tuesday night, the president made his case in a nationally televised address from the Oval Office, countered by a speech from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Meetings are set this week.

But what will happen next as 800,000 workers are on furlough or working without paychecks?

WCCB Political Contributor Mary C. Curtis weighs in.

A Year of Uncertainty in Charlotte and Beyond

CHARLOTTE, NC — From the partial government shutdown to North Carolina’s 9th Congressional district race, there is a lot of uncertainty as we wrap up 2018.

WCCB Political Contributor Mary C. Curtis is anticipating what’s next in Charlotte and beyond as we head into 2019.

The Criminal Justice Bill Shows Where the GOP Is on Race

OPINION — Sen. Tim Scott, Republican from South Carolina, was optimistic after the Senate passed an amended bill this week that makes bipartisan progress on an issue — criminal justice reform — that has divided lawmakers for years.

Scott, an original co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement: “By cutting recidivism, encouraging job training, education and mental health and substance abuse treatments for incarcerated individuals, and making our criminal justice system both smarter and tougher, we have taken a positive step forward.”

The bill is considered a First Step, as it is named, toward addressing inequities in the system that disproportionately affect African-Americans and the poor, in everything from arrests to sentencing, and have contributed to a mass incarceration crisis. Criminal justice advocates will also point out that the changes are modest and apply only to the federal system, which truly makes this a first step. Yet it’s something.

More Drama in 9th District House Race

CHARLOTTE, NC — A new day, a new wrinkle in the contested and controversial 9th District U.S. House between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready. The latest: The North Carolina Republican Party is asking the state elections board to certify Mark Harris as the winner, if it cannot provide evidence that suspected election fraud, particularly in Bladen County, in the midterm would have changed the result. (Mary C. Curtis)

Of course, Democrats want to see the investigation finished. So, what’s next?

WCCB Political Contributor Mary C. Curtis weighs in.

A House Race in North Carolina Gets Curiouser and Curiouser

OPINION — CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Perhaps North Carolina’s 9th District will have a congressman by January; but maybe not.

You see, there seems to have been a mix-up in the count, distribution and collection of absentee ballots in Bladen and Robeson counties, which make up part of the district — what the state elections board (made up of four Democrats, four Republicans and one independent) called “unfortunate activities” when it first refused to certify the results.

For a while, it looked as though the Republican, former Baptist pastor Mark Harris, had beaten the Democrat, Marine veteran and businessman Dan McCready, by a mere 905 votes of about 280,000 cast in the gerrymandered district that may not exist after a court-ordered redraw. But now investigations, possible lawsuits and an absence of official results mean this particular 2018 race may not be decided until 2019.

2018 Midterm Takeaways

CHARLOTTE. NC —  North Carolina may not have had a senator or governor’s race on the ballot, but there was no shortage of drama in contests that determined GOP super-majorities in the state legislature, controversial amendments to the state constitution, Charlotte bond issues and judicial races. Several U.S. Congressional contests in North Carolina also drew national attention. (Mary Curtis)

WCCB political contributor, Mary C. Curtis offers more context on key local and national takeaways from the 2018 midterm elections.

The Devil on Trump’s Shoulder and in the Country’s Ear

OPINION — CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It’s a setup in many cartoons and films of days past: The protagonist is presented with a moral dilemma, and gets conflicting advice from a devil perched on one shoulder and an angel on the other. The behavior of Donald Trump in a presidency filled with choices reminds me of those scenes, though his angel must be downright depressed by now.

The latest appeal to the president’s “better angels” worked for a little while as he reacted to the massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue, the apparently race-based fatal shootings of two black shoppers in Kentucky and a series of bombs sent to people on his enemies list.

Then the devil’s horns peeked through, culminating in a promise this week to rescind birthright citizenship by executive order, a move most legal experts judge unconstitutional, though it wrestles headlines away from the horrific events of the past week and back onto the divisive immigration issue Trump judges a political winner.