Weekly Briefing

Weekly Briefing

Top Story Weekly Briefing

The local Right dishes up more distinctly unhelpful talk about the public health crisis

It’s the sacred right of all Americans to complain about their government – even if they do so in destructive and nonsensical ways. As senator and former presidential candidate John Kerry put it a few years back in ...
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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The Right’s dangerous policy prescriptions for the COVID-19 pandemic

Now is no time for North Carolina to double town on "fiscal restraint" As the health pandemic caused by the new coronavirus continues to take its dreadful toll on human life and wellbeing, the denizens of Right-Wing Avenue in North Carolina have begun to promote an inaccurate and downright dangerous talking point. According to politicians and their apologists in conservative advocacy groups and think tanks, the policy agenda pursued by the Republican-led General Assembly over the past decade has left our state extremely well-positioned to respond to the crisis.

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COVID-19 Top Story Weekly Briefing

A vital wake-up call for all of us

The COVID-19 outbreak demands immediate and aggressive action – for now and the future As miserable, frightening and unprecedented as it is, the current global pandemic with which we are currently attempting to cope ought not to have caught us by such great surprise. Public health officials have been warning about the growing likelihood of such events for decades and, in many instances, dealing with less widespread versions.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The Right’s attacks on Medicaid expansion grow more desperate

You’d think the emergence of the coronavirus would, at long last, have shamed North Carolina’s political right into an embarrassed silence on the topic of Medicaid expansion. After all, it’s one thing to blithely claim that hundreds of thousands of hard-working people would be better off without health insurance coverage when the nation isn’t in the middle of a dangerous health epidemic. To do so at a moment like the present, however, is enough to raise serious concerns about the mental wellbeing of those issuing such utterances.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Five things to keep in mind on Super Tuesday and throughout a momentous election year

For many caring and thinking people who pine for the honesty, integrity, intelligence, energy and hopeful change that Barack Obama brought to the presidency, the 2020 primary season has been a sobering and, at times, dispiriting one. Here, however, are five things to keep in mind that might just bring some perspective to the next few months and help you not to lose sight of the forest for the trees:

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The meddlers behind the mess in the UNC system

Tim Moore is looking for a “gold parachute.” That’s the news that Policy Watch reporter Joe Killian confirmed in an exclusive story last week. Two members of the East Carolina University Board of Trustees and three members of the UNC Board of Governors (BOG) confirmed to Killian that North Carolina’s three-term...

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Yes Virginia (and North Carolina and all the other states), the global environmental crisis is an existential threat

The lengths to which conservative ideologues and members of the Trump cult will go in order to avoid admitting the urgency of the global environmental crisis grows more and more remarkable and disturbing. For decades, groups and individuals on the right – many of them directly funded by the Koch brothers and other fossil fuel plutocrats – denied that global warming was even happening. You remember these claims from the early part of the century:

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Perfecting corruption: Latest campaign news shows how far and fast our politics have fallen

As time goes by, it becomes increasingly difficult to believe that President Richard Nixon was forced to resign from office – ultimately by his fellow Republicans – because of his corrupt political acts and those of his aides. For instance, one of the key (and at the time shocking) revelations of the Watergate investigation was that the 1972 Nixon reelection campaign (which came to be known by the highly appropriate moniker of “CREEP”) had employed a “dirty tricks” unit.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Vote with your feet this Saturday

It’s hard to believe, but the 2020 presidential election process is in full swing. The Iowa caucuses kicked things off last night and four weeks from today is “Super Tuesday” – the day on which presidential primaries will be held in North Carolina and 15 other locations. Within six weeks, well over half the delegates to the two major political party conventions will have been selected and, amazingly, we could well know who the Democratic challenger to President Trump is likely to be before spring officially arrives.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Hiding from the Constitution and common sense: The so-called “gun sanctuary” movement

Even before one gets to the heart of the matter – namely, a) constitutional law, and b) the dangerous message of lawlessness and violence the concept conveys – it must be stated that there is something fundamentally incongruous and just plain wrong about the idea of a “gun sanctuary.” Merriam-Webster offers multiple definitions for the word “sanctuary,” but none of them references the protection of human killing machines.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Five important reminders for a crucial year in American history

And just like that, another critical election year is upon us – maybe the most important election year in modern American history. For caring and thinking people who find themselves aghast at the greed, dishonesty, violence, phobias, and contempt for the common good and planetary wellbeing that are the hallmarks of the Trump cult, it sometimes feels as if the very soul and long-term prospects of the human species are on the line.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Legislature should seize rare opportunity for ideological common ground

The North Carolina General Assembly is back in Raleigh this week and, as noted in this space last Friday, there are some important reasons to be frustrated and concerned about this fact – not the least of which is the refusal of Senate and House leaders to tell the public what the heck is on the agenda.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Greed and instant gratification rule the day: The Right abandons traditional conservatism for values and policies it once rejected

It’s nothing new when political movements and parties undergo fundamental transformations. Think about it: in the middle of the 20th Century, the Democratic Party – particularly in the South – was, despite its occasional willingness to use government as a societal problem solver, the party of segregation and racism. Longtime Alabama governor and segregationist George Wallace started out as a Democrat. Jesse Helms did too.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

A lost decade: Ten ways in which conservative policies have grievously harmed North Carolina

At the dawn of the new decade, not everything is worse in North Carolina than it was ten years ago when conservative ideologues assumed power. For some pockets of the population, the past decade has brought a measure ...
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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Could this be the worst policy proposal of 2019?

Nine years ago in this space, Policy Watch reported on one of the most consistently pernicious aspects of the “North Carolina Education Lottery”: the issue of chronic, even addictive, lottery play by vulnerable people. As was reported at the time (“Hope and hard luck: Poor counties lead state in per capita lottery sales”) and again in 2012 (“Prosperity seen as a scratch ticket away in poorest counties”), per capita lottery sales overlapped to a large and disturbing degree with the state’s map of impoverished neighborhoods.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Eight errors and omissions of the 2019 legislative session

Well, that appears to be a wrap. The 2019 legislative session that commenced way back in January and dragged on in desultory fashion for months past its usual adjournment date finally petered out a couple of weeks back. Now, barring some new and unforeseen holiday season power grab – something that’s always a possibility for legislative leaders who maintain only a passing interest in quaint concepts like notice, public input and process – the honorables have absented themselves from the state capital until mid-January.

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