Weekly Briefing

Weekly Briefing

Top Story Weekly Briefing

When it comes to the pandemic, the NC political right should #StoptheStupid

#StoptheStupid. That little zinger of a Twitter hashtag drew national headlines in recent days after a Michigan Republican congressman named Paul Mitchell used it in a public plea to President Trump to cease his baseless, irresponsible and destructive claims about voter fraud in the 2020 election.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Five reasons NC progressives should remain bullish about their political future

There’s been a great deal of introspection and handwringing by North Carolina progressives in recent weeks in the aftermath of the election. After having spent much of the summer and fall reveling in the notion that the state was poised to issue a strong, across-the-board repudiation of Trumpism on November 3, the final results were, on many fronts, a disappointment.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

A vicious propaganda cycle is threatening our common well-being

Something strange happened in my neighborhood the other day. It was a warm and pleasant Thursday – the day on which a city sanitation truck arrives each week to empty the trash bins. The truck just didn’t come. A couple of days later, another equally strange thing occurred: our postal carrier didn’t make it to our neighborhood.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Offering an olive branch to Trump supporters

The hostile and profanity-laced emails started piling up in my inbox just minutes after NC Policy Watch sent out a special breaking news story this past Saturday to subscribers entitled “Biden elected nation’s 46th President.” For many, it was apparently enough of a spleen venting exercise to simply call the story “B___S___!” – sometimes repeatedly and in all capital letters. Others were somewhat more creative.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Five reminders to help keep you sane through the election and its aftermath

A lot of Americans are apprehensive and fearful right now. They worry that the toxic combination of a deadly and still out-of-control health pandemic and a closely-contested national election that offers such widely divergent visions of the nation’s future could lead to spiraling unrest and perhaps even armed violence.      These are not totally illegitimate concerns.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

What people are thinking a week out from Election Day

“Just make it end!” That’s what many Americans are thinking and saying right now about a lot of things: the election marathon, the pandemic, this calendar year, and for many, the whole toxic political era that the nation has endured in recent years. Such feelings are, of course, not universal.

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Original Commentary Top Story Weekly Briefing

NC should listen to teachers and resist the rush to reopen schools

It’s been seven months since the COVID-19 pandemic turned life upside down in North Carolina, but it feels like seven years. In just over 200 days, we’ve seen at least a quarter-million of our neighbors contract the coronavirus and 4,000 die. Nationally, more than 8 million people have become infected and 220,000 have perished. And, of course, these tragic statistics are far from the only gloomy news.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The American lunatic fringe rears its ugly head

Image: Adobe Stock It would be silly to pretend that the United States is not currently experiencing an extraordinary, and extraordinarily challenging, historical moment. The impact of a virulent global health pandemic on a nation that was already sharply divided along several major fault lines – ideological, economic, racial, religious – has been significant. Add to this roiling stew a hotly contested national election that is widely perceived to be one of the most important in decades, and one has a recipe for discord on a giant scale.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Voters likely unmoved by competing Cunningham-Tillis personal revelations

It’s hard to believe today but it wasn’t that long ago that it was considered a possibly significant liability in Ronald Reagan’s campaign for the presidency in 1980 that he would become, at the time, the first divorced person to assume the presidency. Reagan clearly wasn’t the first president to have experienced something other than a completely happy and monogamous marriage throughout his adulthood, but somehow the idea that his marital problems were publicly known and not just the province of a nodding and winking D.C. press corps, was thought to be potential major liability.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The anti-RBG: Amy Coney Barrett’s dark and regressive worldview

It’s been more than a quarter-century since Justice Clarence Thomas was confirmed to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Sadly, for Thomas and the country, however, the thing for which he remains best known – especially given his extremely infrequent contributions to the Court’s jurisprudence in the intervening 27 years – is his contentious confirmation hearing and the way it shined, for one of the first times, a national spotlight on the issue of sexual harassment.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The time for polite dialogue with the political right is over

Supreme Court hypocrisy, effort to infiltrate progressive NC groups ought to be the last straws It should have been obvious to anyone paying attention as far back as the fall of 2000. It was during those grim days and weeks of raw and cynical political thievery that followed the Bush v. Gore presidential election that the modern, extreme, win-at-all-costs American political right fully announced itself as a movement with no time for quaint niceties like fairness, precedent and the rule of law.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

When it comes to the climate emergency, hope is not enough

In 2008, artist Shepard Fairey’s iconic image of then-Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama with the word “hope” emblazoned below became one of the most popular and impactful campaign posters in modern American history. Its simple and powerful message – that there was a way out of what then seemed to be very dark times – helped inspire millions in a nation that had, for most of the preceding two-plus centuries, taken hope for a brighter future as more or less a given.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Americans may be badly divided, but few see the military as a place of ‘suckers’ and ‘losers’

In a time of stark political and ideological divisions in the United States, one somewhat surprising area of general accord and harmony in 2020 concerns the U.S. military. This is not to say that there aren’t many widely divergent views on the military – as to its purpose, history, funding, organization, traditions and many other aspects – but when it comes to the people who serve in the military, and the basic concept of individuals devoting themselves to protecting the nation and making it a safer place, Americans are an overwhelmingly united lot.

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Defending Democracy Top Story Weekly Briefing

Surely this is not what American conservatism is all about

There are a lot of basic aspects of modern life about which American progressives and conservatives differ. Indeed, “differ” seems much too polite a term to describe the yawning gaps that exist on issues like racial equality, education, taxes, health care, the environment, separation of church and state and many others. The hard truth is that, in many of these areas, we are a bitterly divided nation in which millions upon millions of people have a difficult time even conceiving of how those on the other side of the divide can possibly see the world in the way they do.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Memo to UNC system leaders: It’s your fault, not the students’

The news has been coming fast and furious from the UNC system in recent days and little of it has been good. To the surprise of just about no one (except, evidently, the leaders of the system), the plan to reopen the state’s 17 campuses for in-person instruction has been quickly unraveling. As Joe Killian reported over the weekend for Policy Watch, East Carolina and UNC Charlotte have joined UNC Chapel Hill and NC State in moving to online-only instruction to counter the spread of the novel coronavirus.

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COVID-19 Weekly Briefing

UNC’s top-down, one-size-fits-all reopening plan isn’t working

For many years prior to their ascent to power a decade ago, North Carolina Republican legislative leaders loved to lecture anyone in earshot about the need for “local control.” On subject after subject, it became almost a conservative mantra in the Legislative Building that state government should devolve as much autonomy as possible in local officials who, as the logic went, were closest to the people and knew best of their needs and desires.

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