Weekly Briefing

Weekly Briefing

Top Story Weekly Briefing

The General Assembly’s war on the poor hits another new low

Unexplained, backroom maneuver would rob already underfunded anti-poverty program

There’s no denying that conservative ideology plays a big and important role in driving the North Carolina public policy debate these days. In battle after battle, Republican lawmakers have justified their positions and decisions – from cutting taxes on the wealthy and profitable corporations to reducing environmental protection efforts to privatizing public education to an array of other actions – with the claim that they were vindicating the overarching philosophical cause of downsizing government and “unleashing the private sector.”

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

A plea to responsible North Carolina gun defenders

Please, please, please ask your hardcore allies to calm down

As anyone paying attention to policy debates in North Carolina in recent days is well aware, the age-old battle over guns and gun violence is front and center right now. Thanks to a proposal narrowly approved by the state House of Representatives last week, North Carolina is a step closer to deregulating the carrying of concealed weapons.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The Right’s dream gun proposal

Our best guess as to what North Carolina conservatives might have in store

Editor’s note: Although the following “news” story may strike many readers as entirely plausible, it is – at least we’re pretty sure, anyway – only a parody.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The conservative assault on freedom and liberty

The Right’s dishonest effort to appropriate and pervert some core American values

Here’s one thing you’ve got to hand to the modern American Right: these people can sell. Maybe it’s the presence of so many shameless TV preachers and corporate bosses within their movement. Maybe it’s the “message discipline” that comes more easily with being a mostly top-down movement. But whatever the root cause, there’s no denying that conservatives are often much better at packaging their ideas for public consumption than progressives. ...
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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The right-wing house of cards shudders

Court setbacks, public opinion, progressive activism and Trump bode ill for NC conservatives

Professor Rick Hasen of the University of California, Irvine School of Law is a nationally recognized Supreme Court watcher and elections law expert. Yesterday on his highly-trafficked Election Law Blog, Hasen posted a fascinating 13-point take of Monday morning’s U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down North Carolina’s hyper-gerrymandered 2011 congressional district map. After sifting through Justice Elena Kagan’s lengthy opinion and even some important footnotes, Hasen said this:

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Trump, NC conservative leaders to eastern NC: “Drop dead”

Hurricane Matthew non-response sets a new low when it comes to basics of governing

With the increasingly precarious situation in which he finds his presidency vis a vis the inquiries of the Senate Intelligence Committee, one would think that Donald Trump might well be taking any and all steps available to cozy up to the Committee’s chairman, North Carolina’s Richard Burr. Weirdly, however, no such actions were in evidence last week when it came to one of the most basic components of running the federal government – meting out disaster relief funds.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The last line of defense against Trumpism is under fire

The Right lays siege to the federal and state courts

“What can we do?” For six months now, caring and thinking Americans have been asking that question a lot as they have anticipated and then stared into the dark abyss that is the presidency of Donald Trump.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Wake up people! The Right is just getting started

Conservatives are working to radically overhaul the American social contract

At the conclusion of the whirlwind 2011 session of the North Carolina General Assembly — a session in which new conservative majorities pushed through a raft of dramatic policy changes —many progressive North Carolinians surveyed the aftermath and found themselves actually breathing a sigh of relief. There was a widespread feeling that the fury of the storm had passed, that the Right had vented its collective spleen and that, having pushed through so much of its long-stymied policy agenda, conservative leaders would settle down to focus on governing the state.

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Weekly Briefing

A flood of bad ideas

How the General Assembly is spending “crossover week” and what it ought to be doing

The last week of April arrived soggy and gray yesterday in North Carolina. It’s as if the weather gods had taken a sneak peek at the agenda for one of the busiest weeks of the year at the General Assembly and were shedding a steady stream of preemptory tears.

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Weekly Briefing

An important bright spot emerges at the General Assembly

Progress on “second chance” agenda marks a rare positive development in state policy wars

There are a lot of reasons for caring and thinking North Carolinians to be discouraged these days about what’s happening in the world of public policy. In the nation’s capital, the corrupt and illegitimate Trump administration is a perpetual, slow motion train wreck. Meanwhile, Congress is a frequently dysfunctional war zone in which some of the most conservative political leaders in modern American history are engaged in a pitched battle with far right extremists who want to repeal fundamental components of the national social contract.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The return of the “Know Nothings”

Anti-immigrant fervor spawns destructive (and utterly illogical) proposals on Jones Street

There are a lot of labels that have been applied to the ideology that has held sway in North Carolina policy and politics over the past six years. Some have been embraced by the politicians and pundits who have been running the show (“conservative,” “libertarian,” “fundamentalist” stand out) while others (“reactionary,” “backward-looking,” “right-wing”) have not.

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Weekly Briefing

Trump hypocrisy threatens again with massive proposed cuts to legal aid

The most litigious president in U.S. history says “no” to lawyers for poor people

No one ever accused Donald Trump of being consistent. If ever there was a politician for whom a gravitation toward blatant self-contradiction and 180 degree flip flops was embedded in the very fiber of his being, it would have to be the 45th president. Name an important issue of public policy and it seems a virtual lock that Trump will have staked out a position on all sides of it (and then probably contradicted each of them at one time or another with his own personal behavior).

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Weekly Briefing

Berger and Moore finally come out of their policy closet on HB2

At long last, legislative leaders admit state’s discrimination law is not about bathrooms

For more than a year now, North Carolina conservative lawmakers and advocates have been repeating the absurd and offensive mantra that opponents of HB2 – the state’s infamous LGBTQ discrimination law – want to force women and girls to make use of showers and restrooms alongside men disguised as women.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Roy Cooper’s lonely and courageous battle

It’s a difficult and sometimes nasty job, but somebody’s gotta’ do it

One of the hard and often underreported truths of American politics is the role that both luck and timing play in the perceived successes and/or failures of elected officials – particularly chief executives. Enter office at just the right moment – when, say, the economy is humming along and one’s political party enjoys a large majority – and elected office can be a lot of fun. Chances are you’ll have strong approval ratings, considerable clout in legislative decision making, lots of invitations to speak to large and friendly audiences and an opportunity to leave a significant imprint on your city, state or nation.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Trump’s most dangerous action thus far

For Americans serious about resistance, this is a fight to join

Thirty years ago, filmmaker James Brooks wrote and directed a biting, prophetic and painfully funny takedown of American television journalism called Broadcast News. In one of the better moments in the movie, a frustrated news producer played by Albert Brooks expressed his dismay to a colleague (played by Holly Hunter) about the rise of a vacuous, but attractive and popular news anchor (William Hurt):

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Weekly Briefing

Senate Republicans look to “Trumpify” NC’s tax code

Latest crude, simplistic and shortsighted proposal would wreak havoc for years to come

Donald Trump has always been well known for his “act first, worry about the mess later” approach to the world around him. Long before he became President, the blustering billionaire fashioned a notorious career predicated upon some crude and simplistic tactics familiar to any schoolyard bully – yell the loudest and grab what you can for yourself, intimidate opponents, deny the existence of complexity and gray areas and dumb things down as much as possible, appeal to people’s baser instincts like fear and selfishness and always, always, always, elevate the present over the future.

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