Weekly Briefing

Weekly Briefing

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Trump and his allies: Channeling the true spirit of the original American Thanksgiving?

Americans, like the inhabitants of just about every country – especially the ones that find themselves having come out on top in a number of historical conflicts – have a penchant for rewriting history in a light that’s flattering to themselves. Wars tend to get sanitized of their brutality, disasters and horrific mistakes. Crass greed, materialism and acquisitiveness get recast as drive, ingenuity and the entrepreneurial spirit.

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The GOP’s latest gerrymander ought to be the last straw for NC

Republican legislative majorities took yet another stab at enacting new congressional districts last week (the state constitution gives the Governor no veto authority in this realm) and, for those who didn’t dig below the surface, it would have been easy to get the misimpression from some reports that things had gone well.

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GOP swings and misses with pipeline attacks on Cooper

Back in the early 1990’s, the late and sorely missed Bob Hensley – a talented, feisty and frequently funny trial lawyer and Democratic state representative from Wake County – was engaged in a tense debate on the House floor with a Republican adversary when things suddenly turned personal. Having been cornered by Hensley’s formidable skills at debate, the GOP lawmaker lashed out and accused Hensley of being untruthful in some of his claims about the bill in question.

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