Weekly Briefing

Weekly Briefing

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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Weekly Briefing

In North Carolina, the conservative war on academia merges with its war on the poor and vulnerable

Right launches new attack on UNC legal centers that serve people in need

For several years now, North Carolina conservatives have been waging a war on the poor, the vulnerable and people of color. From the evisceration of the economic safety net and the refusal to expand Medicaid, to the “surgically precise” attack on minority voting rights and the repeal of the Racial Justice Act, the attacks have been regular, coordinated and destructive.

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Featured Articles Weekly Briefing

About that economic “mess” Trump claims to have inherited

The data show that the President’s alternative facts about the economy are flat wrong

One month into the presidency of Donald Trump, it’s already common, even global, knowledge that the American commander-in-chief is a man who maintains only a passing familiarity with the truth. Hour after hour and day after day, the “alternative facts” emanating from the White House are so blatant and plentiful that it’s become difficult to keep track.

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Featured Articles Weekly Briefing

Hopeful lessons from Saturday’s Moral March (and one important way in which progressives are screwing up)

This past Saturday’s 11th annual HKonJ-Moral March on Raleigh was by any estimation, a rousing success. At a point in time in which caring and thinking people are being inundated with multiple calls to action on a daily – if not hourly – basis, tens of thousands of people found the time and energy to make their way to downtown Raleigh to denounce Trumpism and the destructive actions of the North Carolina legislature and promote a vastly different vision of American society.

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Featured Articles Weekly Briefing

Berger and Moore’s latest destructive power grab

Why holding confirmation hearings for the Governor’s department heads is a lousy idea

Leaders of the North Carolina General Assembly have taken a lot of disastrous turns – both substantive and procedural – over the past six years. Denying health care and unemployment insurance benefits to hundreds of thousands, slashing taxes on the rich, eviscerating voting rights, waging wars on science, the environment, reproductive freedom and LGBTQ equality, pushing loaded guns into every corner of the state, and just generally undermining the health of government; the list of regressive policies goes on and on.

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Featured Articles Trump Administration Weekly Briefing

Why Burr and Tillis must reject any new Supreme Court nominee

Fundamental questions on legitimacy of Trump’s presidency must be answered first

These are extraordinary times. The President of the United States is, by every indication, a serial liar who genuinely seems incapable of distinguishing between truth and falsehood. He entered office on January 20 under a cloud of profound constitutional questions related to his fitness to serve and legitimate doubts about his loyalty to the country. His first days in office have been an unmitigated disaster and have featured repeated lies, disastrous cabinet appointees, outrageous conflicts of interest and a series of executive orders that were either horrifically destructive or absurdly and sophomorically nonsensical or both.

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Featured Articles Weekly Briefing

Building on Saturday’s historic marches

What they mean and what they don’t for the fight against Trumpism

The global resistance to the dark and troubling new world order promised by President Donald Trump got off to a fabulous start this past Saturday. All across the planet, caring and thinking women and men took to the streets by the millions to register their opposition and to commence the process of pushing back.

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Featured Articles Trump Administration Weekly Briefing

Hopeful signs for the path forward

Trump lights a fire under the American progressive movement; you can keep up and help

Well, this is it. The week that a sizable majority of Americans have been dreading is here and, come Friday at high noon, a morally bankrupt and utterly unqualified snake oil salesman will occupy the office of Washington, Lincoln, the Roosevelts and Obama.

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Featured Articles Weekly Briefing

Will the GOP really sentence thousands of Americans to early deaths?

The stunning impact that repeal of Obamacare would produce

At the dawn of the Trump era in American politics, it’s important for caring and thinking people to guard against the use of hyperbole and alarmist rhetoric and to avoid making too many “the sky is falling pronouncements.” As was noted in this space last November, there are plenty of reasons to think that some of the worst components of Trumpism can be blunted or even defeated with a little luck and a lot of hard work. And, as North Carolinians have learned during six years of aggressive right-wing rule, the conservative movement is often a fractious, divided and mistake-prone crusade that is fully capable of committing absurd and self-destructive blunders. It can and will be defeated in the months and years ahead.

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