Weekly Briefing

Weekly Briefing

Top Story Weekly Briefing

Why North Carolina must say “no” to school district secession

Though they are sometimes dressed up in prettified language about “freedom” and “choice” and “market forces,” the main items at the heart of the conservative agenda on public education really haven’t changed much over the last several decades since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. When one really gets down to brass tacks, three principal and closely intertwined objectives stand out...

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Defending Democracy Top Story Weekly Briefing

The most important political battle of 2018 continues to fly under the radar

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos gave another embarrassing and cringe-inducing media interview this past weekend. As veteran political reporter Chris Cilizza of CNN explained in a post entitled “Betsy DeVos' trainwreck interview on 60 Minutes,” the conversation produced several remarkable moments in which the Amway heiress by marriage was clearly in way over her head on everything from the Parkland shooting to school “choice” to sexual assaults on college campuses.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The Trump three-ring circus directly threatens NC

Administration lays the groundwork for offshore oil and gas drilling with faux “public hearing” There are so many reasons not to introduce offshore oil and gas drilling along the fragile North Carolina coast that it ought not to be even a close call.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Who designed this crazy system?

Newly approved Duke Energy Progress rate hike highlights the downright strange way that most Americans are billed for utilities The North Carolina Utilities Commission issued a ruling last Friday afternoon in one of the two big Duke Energy rate hike cases it has been considering.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Signs of hope amidst the horror

Cracks are forming in the NRA’s death grip on American politics At some point, it’s going to happen. At some point in the not-too-distant future, shifting attitudes in the American body politic will reach a tipping point and the death grip that the gun lobby has on our government will begin to ease and, perhaps, even collapse.

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Defending Democracy Top Story Weekly Briefing

Taking cynicism to new levels

The General Assembly’s latest mashup legislation is an example of government at its worst In the complex world of modern politics, it’s easy to imagine scenarios in which difficult compromises must be made. Sometimes, the circumstances are such that there simply isn’t any way for elected leaders to proceed without making multiple accommodations to multiple parties.

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Defending Democracy Top Story Weekly Briefing

Darkness descends on the General Assembly

Stealth, secrecy, and laws crafted behind closed doors are now the norm at the state Legislative Building To their great and lasting credit, the people who run the Washington Post adopted a new motto last year as the Trump era dawned. The Post’s print and online mastheads began prominently featuring the phrase “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

A rare chance to make trickledown economics work

Why regulators should order utilities and insurance companies to pass along their federal tax windfalls When Congress and the Trump administration enacted their massive tax cuts for profitable corporations and wealthy individuals at the end of 2017, they (and the corporate special interests behind the scheme) promised...

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Bureaucracy for bureaucracy’s sake: Why work requirements for Medicaid do not represent a reasonable healthcare compromise

It’s one of the great and bitter ironies of our modern American policy debates that it is conservatives who are often the chief architects of the largest and least useful government bureaucracies. No, this is not intended as a dig at the military or our departments of transportation.

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Defending Democracy Top Story Weekly Briefing

Is Trump finally approaching his McCarthy moment?

Latest racist attacks on immigrants could be an important tipping point As bleak as our national political landscape may seem right now, it’s worth remembering that it is far from the only time in American history in which a dangerous, dishonest and delusional con artist has held a position of great prominence. In the early 1950’s, Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin rode his paranoid and dishonest witch hunt against supposed “communist subversion” to become one of the most famous and powerful men in the nation.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Five myth-busting truths about the North Carolina economy

Conservative happy talk doesn’t change several important basics The mantra from conservative North Carolina politicians and pundits these days is that North Carolina’s hard right policy turn of recent years somehow provides “a model for the nation.” If you spend any time on policy-oriented social media, you can hardly refresh your browser without being pummeled by the claim that North Carolina’s economic outlook is amazingly bright and that it’s all the result of conservative decisions to slash taxes and “get the state’s fiscal house in order.”

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

A New Year’s resolution for progressives: Hold fast and work for victory

Why attempting to appease conservative fundamentalists is not the answer These are tough times for American progressives. The President of the United States is a serial falsifier and an inveterate champion of the worst kind of predatory plutocracy. Meanwhile, the congressional majority that fuels and sustains much of his power and influence is, in turn, undergirded by an unholy alliance of robber barons, nativists and theocrats that rejects the very idea of a modern, plural democracy. Add to this toxic tableau an overlay of bitter, sometimes violent, racism and the hard reality of an economy starkly and increasingly divided between haves and have nots, and the picture gets that much darker.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

A holiday wish list for the naughty and nice in the North Carolina policy world

Well, another year has almost come and gone and the season of celebration and gift giving is well underway. What better time than this to construct a holiday gift wish list for some of North Carolina’s most prominent and hard-to-please politicos and pontificators? Here, therefore is our 2017 list. On the odd chance that some of these are actually fulfilled, it seems at least possible that 2018 will be a better and gentler year for all of us. Here’s to it.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Plutocrats on the march

Trumpists prepare to raze another vital common good law It’s hard to keep up these days with the flood of poisonous ideas spewing from Donald Trump’s junta by the Potomac. At times, it seems as if Trump is not just a pal and admirer of Vladimir Putin, but that he is, quite literally, attempting to institute his own American version of the corrupt kleptocracy that the Russian dictator has constructed from the rubble of the old Soviet Union.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Greed, conflicts of interest and using public services to get rich

Why North Carolina’s coal ash and mental health crises have a lot in common

Two of the biggest stories in the North Carolina policy world right now involve large, Charlotte-based institutions. Interestingly, though the two matters are seemingly unrelated, a closer look reveals a number of important commonalities in the controversies surrounding the state’s largest electric monopoly, Duke Energy, and its largest regional mental health provider, Cardinal Innovation Services.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Damming the swamp

Could this be the Trump administration’s most outrageous act yet? The list of execrable actions taken by President Donald Trump during his first ten months in office is a long and deeply disturbing one. Even if one sticks strictly to policy actions and appointments and sets aside the President’s serial personal dishonesty and the criminal behavior in which he and multiple senior administration officials may have engaged, it’s still been a horror show.

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