Weekly Briefing

Weekly Briefing

Top Story Weekly Briefing

A truly Trumpian budget for North Carolina

Secrecy. Greed. Dishonesty. Self-dealing. Neglect disguised as concern. Contempt for democracy. If one were asked to describe the most notable hallmarks of the administration of President Donald Trump, it would be hard to come up with six more accurate characterizations.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

One simple, moral and business-friendly step NC lawmakers could take to boost the economy

There are a lot of important statistics that confirm just how out of whack the U.S. economy has grown during this modern Gilded Age we currently inhabit, but two factoids from a recent CNN story say an awful lot about where things stand: #1 – The U.S. unemployment rate just dipped to an 18-year low recently at 3.9%, and #2 – nearly 51 million American households (around 43%) don't earn enough to afford a monthly budget that includes housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone.

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Defending Democracy Top Story Weekly Briefing

Process schmocess: Berger, Moore say 2019 budget changes have already been negotiated

For those who pay only periodic attention to the ins and outs of lawmaking in the North Carolina General Assembly, there was a powerful reminder last week of just how broken things are and how cloistered and detached the conservative powers-that-be in the state Legislative Building have become after several years of unfettered rule.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

It’s long overdue, but a vitally important reform movement is finally catching on

If there is a top lesson for caring and thinking people to glean from the first 16 months of the Trump presidency, it has to be the importance of not taking the basic premises of our American experiment for granted. Now that we have learned once more the hard truth that our nation is perfectly capable of electing a blatantly dishonest would-be despot possessed of only the most superficial grasp of constitutional government, the urgency of rededicating ourselves to the active protection of basic human and constitutional rights is quite clear.

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Defending Democracy Top Story Weekly Briefing

Heads up: Legislative leaders plot still more destructive power grabs

After having exercised seven-plus years of relentless, “take no prisoners” rule and with pollsters and pundits forecasting a tough election year for the allies of Donald Trump, you’d think that North Carolina’s legislative leaders might be in a mood to choose a slightly more moderate path during the upcoming legislative “short” session that commences May 16.

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Defending Democracy Top Story Weekly Briefing

Time for General Assembly official to stop playing games with public records

It’s been almost three years since state legislative leaders hired longtime conservative politician Paul Coble to run the day-to-day operations of the General Assembly as state Legislative Services Officer. After all that time, you’d think that Coble (who takes home well over $200,000 per year in salary and benefits) would have developed a basic grasp of one of his chief job duties...

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Defending Democracy Top Story Weekly Briefing

Grounds for hope, grounds for grave concern in the battle to defend our democracy

These are extraordinary times in the American experiment with representative democracy. In Washington, a buffoonish would-be despot occupies the highest office of the land and sullies it on an almost minute-by-minute basis in unprecedented fashion. This past Sunday, the editorial board of the New York Times felt obligated to publish a special, full-page editorial...

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Really? This is the best they can come up with?

After decades of propaganda and promises, the effort to privatize public schools in NC continues to fizzle Conservative ideologues may yet succeed in their longstanding effort to raze and remake American public education – what they often derisively refer to as “government schools.” After all, they’ve been at it for decades and show no signs of letting up.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

No way to educate our kids

Proposals to militarize public schools are not the answer A little over three decades ago, one of America’s great political philosophers, Dr. Seuss, authored a masterful takedown of the Cold War and the madness that it inspired in political leaders – both East and West.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

When runaway government spending really is a big problem (and one important thing we could do about it)

If anyone ever really bought into the hoary political myth that all Republicans hate big government spending, deficits and debt and that all Democrats love them, you’d think the presidency of Donald Trump would have laid that idea to rest once and for all. After all, as expert after expert has testified in recent months, future deficits and debt have been mushrooming under Trump.

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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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