Weekly Briefing

Weekly Briefing

Top Story Weekly Briefing

On its last legs: It’s hard to see a path forward for the Mark Harris candidacy

Just about anything can happen in American politics. Those who doubt this oft-demonstrated truism need only to turn their gaze a few hundred miles north to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to be reminded of just how possible it still is for seemingly inconceivable eventualities to come to pass. That said, it’s extremely difficult to see a path forward for Rev. Mark Harris in his candidacy to become a United States congressman representing North Carolina’s ninth district after yesterday’s state Board of Elections hearing in Raleigh.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Senator Phil Berger is just plain wrong

There’s an old maxim in American politics, usually attributed to former U.S. Senator and Nixon administration cabinet secretary Daniel Patrick Moynihan, that “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts.” Would that Moynihan were still alive today so that he could direct a reminder of this simple truth toward North Carolina Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Marching this Saturday in Raleigh: The moral (and effective) thing to do

There’s a vexing conundrum that frequently confronts movements for social justice when they’re trying to rally supporters to action. It turns out that the best and easiest times to spur people to action often coincide with the moments at which the movement is at its weakest and least able to effect real change.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

THE issue of the 2019 session

The 2019 session of the North Carolina General Assembly gets underway in earnest this week in Raleigh and, as always, dozens of important issues will compete for lawmakers’ attention. There’s the increasingly energetic and promising effort to end partisan gerrymandering, the desperate need to adequately fund our public schools and bring accountability to vouchers and charters, the mushrooming environmental crisis that continues to unfold in myriad guises, the chaos that has gripped the UNC system, and, of course, our desperately out-of-whack tax system...

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Trump’s NC shutdown accomplices and the mess they’re making

Donald Trump does not and cannot act alone. Notwithstanding his serial dishonesty and raging narcissism and megalomania, the current inhabitant of the White House could never inflict the kind of damage he is currently inflicting on the nation and the planet without the assistance of powerful and willing enablers.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Doubling down on secrecy: The legislature’s latest assaults on transparency

If there’s a single most maddening and telling hallmark of the hard Right leadership that’s dominated the North Carolina General Assembly over the past eight years, it has to be its failure to live up to its members’ past promises to champion open and transparent government. It’s difficult to remember now, but when Republicans took the reins of power back in 2011, they rode in on a platform that promised a new era of openness in government.

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Defending Democracy Top Story Weekly Briefing

Holding Cooper vetoes in 2019: First, Democrats will need to show up

As you may have heard by now, there was a rather maddening side story to the veto override votes that took place during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day at the North Carolina General Assembly. As commentator Thomas Mills rightfully pointed out last week on the website Politics NC, had all Democratic members of the House showed up, it’s quite possible that Governor Cooper’s vetoes of two badly flawed bills (or at least one of them, anyway) could have been sustained.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The giant policy elephant in the room at the start of 2019

Well, another new year is upon us and the public policy landscape is, in many ways, more crowded and contentious than ever. Everywhere one turns, there are large, important and hotly contested issues to be examined and debated and yawning ideological divides to be confronted and overcome. Name the issue – taxes, the economy, the growing wealth and income gaps, health care, education, racism, gun violence...

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The GOP’s cynical electoral game playing rolls on

One can imagine a scenario in which it might be possible to take North Carolina Republican leaders seriously when they argue that a strict voter ID law is necessary to protect the “integrity” of North Carolina elections. If, for instance, those same leaders had long evinced support for rigorous integrity and transparency in all other key electoral circumstances – say, with respect to the way voting districts are drawn ...

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

North Carolina’s big government conservatives and the endless legislative session

It’s long been understood by those who pay attention to public policy debates that the age-old conservative talking point about the supposed evils of “big government” was always just that – a talking point more than a genuine belief. The truth of the matter is that American conservatives love government in a wide variety of circumstances.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

GOP moves ahead with voter ID while turning blind eye to evidence of genuine electoral fraud

At some point, you would think the embarrassment factor would kick in for North Carolina Republican leaders. Someday. Maybe. But not yet. For years, of course, the GOP has pushed restrictive voter ID proposals...

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

What legislators should do this week (and what they’ll probably do instead)

The North Carolina General Assembly has returned to Raleigh this week for yet another convening. Contrary, however, to some previous erroneous references, this will not be—at least technically—a “special” session like the three that convened in July, August and October. Rather, lawmakers will merely reconvene the regular 2017-18 session that left off at the end of June. Of course, whatever formal label one attaches to this week’s proceedings is mostly a matter of semantics.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Judge “No”? Senate moves closer to confirming reactionary Jesse Helms disciple to the federal bench

If you’re looking for a hopeful sign about modern North Carolina, here’s a small one to buoy your spirits on a holiday week: Fewer and fewer North Carolinians have any idea who Jesse Helms was. The trend has been evident to me in recent years as I’ve traveled the state giving talks about policy and politics. Each time I bring up Helms’ name and the mostly toxic legacy he constructed during three decades in the U.S. Senate, I get a growing number of blank stares...

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The next big battle in North Carolina politics is just days away

The 2018 election may finally be in the rear view mirror, but for better or worse, the next battle over the state’s future will commence very soon – on Tuesday, November 27. That’s the day that Republican legislative leaders will convene the latest of their endless stream of “special” legislative sessions.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Today is just one small step in the effort to rescue our country

You’ve seen the headlines and no doubt received hundreds (thousands?) of action alerts from well-meaning groups and individuals informing you that the 2018 election is the most important in recent American history.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The 2018 election: Fear on trial

It would be an understatement to say that a lot of very different issues and individuals will impact the outcome of the 2018 election that climaxes next Tuesday. Here in North Carolina, there are more than 200 different congressional, legislative and judicial races, multiple local bond proposals and, of course, a slate of six controversial constitutional amendments to be decided.

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