Weekly Briefing

Weekly Briefing

Top Story Weekly Briefing

The Right wages class warfare in Washington

Will Burr and Tillis really vote for this?

For much of the 20th Century, one of the labels that American politicians of a progressive bent feared most was the accusation that they were engaging in “class warfare.” Even for many on the left, the concept of class warfare – that is, of attempting to motivate and mobilize people of low and/or modest income to rise up against the wealthy – was widely frowned upon as antithetical to the nation’s longstanding tradition as a broadly middle class (or even class free) society. Forty years ago, the iconic liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith dismissed the idea of waging class warfare against the rich in America as “uncouth.”

Today, sadly, this aversion to class warfare seems quaint – and not because the left got over its queasiness about the subject.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Fixing our public schools with blinders on

NC lawmakers to examine everything about education funding...except how much we spend The instinct to be frugal when it comes to how much government spends on public structures and services is not an unhealthy one. Whatever one’s views on the great ideological debates of our day, there can be no denying that waste, fraud and abuse will always be a constant problem for all large human institutions. If you have any doubts, I’ve got some surplus $640 toilet seats from the Pentagon for you to check out.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Deception and bad faith at UNC

The Board of Governors is not just pushing the Right’s agenda, it’s intentionally withholding information from the public That there is a war underway for the heart and soul of higher education in North Carolina comes as no surprise to anyone who follows the state policy debate. For years now, North Carolina’s conservative...

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Hate rears its ugly head yet again

As Cooper moves to curb discrimination, the Right goes ballistic

In the age of Trump, there seem to be few limits on the depths to which purveyors of fear and hate will sink. Even conservatives who disliked or opposed Trump initially seem to have been emboldened in recent months by the President’s serial dishonesty and willingness to break long-established rules of decency in public behavior. It is with this backdrop that the saga of North Carolina’s infamous discrimination law, HB2, and the seemingly never-ending conservative war on equality for transgender individuals entered their latest phase last week.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Our rogue General Assembly returns to Raleigh for yet another rump session

Why the legislature now operates this way and why it’s a big problem The North Carolina General Assembly (or, at least, a goodly portion of it) returned to town last night. Nearly four months after having passed a new state budget—the event that used to signal the conclusion of an annual legislative session—lawmakers are back yet again. The top agenda item this time for our “part-time” lawmakers: to override Governor Cooper’s veto of a bill to alter state elections passed during their last cameo appearance in the state capital. At least, that’s what we think the plan is.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

North Carolina’s greatest scandal continues

UNC center’s latest report on poverty provides powerful reminder of the communities and individuals being left behind When you consider the matter for a moment, it’s really not all that surprising that conservative politicians in Raleigh have been so hell-bent for so long to silence Professor Gene Nichol and the colleagues and students with whom he works at UNC Law School. There are, of course, numerous critics of the reactionary policies that state leaders have been advancing for most of the past decade—many of them employed in state-funded universities—but when it comes to Nichol and his team, there are a couple of factors that have to drive the powers-that-be absolutely crazy.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The outsourcing of sacrifice

In 21st Century America, selflessness is mostly reserved for the hired help

This past weekend, a local college football game was billed as “Military Appreciation Day.” Throughout the game, retired, current and future members of the nation’s armed forces were ushered out onto the field during breaks in the play to enjoy a few moments in the spotlight and to soak in the applause of the thousands gathered. Time and again, the stadium crowd was exhorted to rise and express its collective thanks to the various servicemen and women for their sacrifice and dedicated efforts on behalf of the nation. Events like this have become commonplace in 21st Century America.

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Original Commentary Weekly Briefing

Charity and other on-the-cheap solutions won’t get the job done

The Right’s latest cynical efforts to undermine government and the common good Many North Carolina conservatives have long pursued a cynical, ends-justify-the-means strategy when it comes to their ultimate goal of radically remaking the social contract. Here’s how it frequently plays out: First they complain incessantly that public institutions are inherently corrupt and inferior to the private sector; then they use this supposed “fact” as justification to slash public funding and/or sell off core public structures and systems to private interests. Soon, the whole process repeats itself as the self-perpetuating cycle plays out.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Civitas Institute still linking to anti-Semitic website

Conservative group “reviewing” bigoted attacks; funding from major NC corporations implicated Nearly a week after this column reported that the Raleigh-based Civitas Institute has been promoting a bigoted and frequently anti-Semitic website, the conservative group has issued only a brief and incomplete comment on the matter and is still linking visitors to the controversial site from its Carolina Plott Hound web platform.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

North Carolina conservatives must disavow allies’ bigoted hate speech

Website with ties to Civitas Institute promotes anti-Semitic attack on Attorney General Stein

There are a lot of deeply troubling and even shocking aspects to the ongoing rise in “white nationalism” and religious bigotry that plagues the American political landscape these days. First and foremost, of course, is the active participation of the president of the United States in the process. That the highest office in our land is being used in such a perverted way to aid and abet such a noxious cause remains a stunning and unacceptable reality that should sicken all people of good will on a daily basis.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The middle class is not an accident (or inevitable)

A few years back, there was a witty and briefly popular bumper sticker that conveyed several important and frequently neglected and forgotten truths about the lot of working Americans. It read: “The Labor Movement: The Folks Who Brought You the Weekend.” Though it seems hard to imagine for many of us today, the pithy and plucky message on those stickers was, in a very literal sense, true. At the turn of the 20th Century, life in America – especially for working people – was wildly different than it is for most of us today.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Process at the General Assembly sinks to a new and remarkable low

House overrides Governor’s veto of consumer lending bill based on lawmaker’s incorrect description of what it would do

The notion that elected officials often debate and even enact new laws based on a faulty understanding of what they are discussing and/or voting on is, of course, nothing particularly new.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

One of the most important state Supreme Court cases in years

Justices will hear Cooper v. Berger and Moore next week and the stakes couldn’t be much higher

One of the most important matters to come before the North Carolina Supreme Court in a long time will be argued next Monday in Raleigh.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The thing that wouldn’t leave

Lawmakers to return to Raleigh yet again; agenda may include dangerous “de-reg” proposal

The North Carolina General Assembly will return to Raleigh yet again this week. Despite abysmal poll numbers, the toxic national political environment and their close association with a president of the United States who continues to set new standards for mendacity and outrageous behavior, legislative leaders will commence yet another special session on Friday to take up any number of matters that could include gubernatorial vetoes, new legislative maps, pending legislation from the “long session” that adjourned in June and maybe even constitutional amendments. Despite the Friday-at-noon start time, actual legislative action is not expected to get underway in earnest until next week – emphasis on the word expected.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The fight for democracy gains momentum

Despite lawmakers’ latest big stall, redistricting reformers are on the offensive

“The dog ate my homework.” If you thought this old cliché of an excuse lost all currency in the world after about the fourth grade and/or when students start turning in their assignments online, think again.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

What the fight over fair elections is really all about

As NC looks at election rules and redistricting, a powerful new book reminds us why these issues are even on the table

This is an especially busy week in the fight for fair elections in North Carolina. Late yesterday, a panel of three federal judges issued an order in the case of North Carolina v. Covington – a challenge to North Carolina’s unconstitutionally gerrymandered legislative districts. The ruling came just hours after the North Carolina State Board of Elections conducted a hearing on a set of new proposed rules that could rein in some of the worst voter suppression tactics employed by conservatives during the 2016 election.

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