Good morning, folks. And for those of you who consider the opportunity to laugh at lunacy a gift, this isn’t just any morning. This is Christmas morning. So let’s dive toward that tree and start ripping through some wrapping paper … so to speak.

1) NCAA pulls tournament games from North Carolina because of HB 2.

Sorry college basketball, women’s and men’s soccer, golf, lacrosse, tennis and baseball fans. This just happened because of HB 2 (and, more to the point, that guy who lives in the Governor’s Mansion). From the INDY:

Greensboro was slated to host first- and second-round men’s basketball tournament games on March 17 and 19. In addition, North Carolina lost eight other playoffs: the 2016 women’s soccer championship in Cary, the D-III men’s and women’s soccer championships in Greensboro, the 2017 women’s golf championship regional in Greenville, the 2017 DIII men’s and women’s tennis championships in Cary, the 2017 D-1 women’s lacrosse championships in Cary, and the 2017 D-II men’s baseball championship in Cary.

Want more carnage? Take a look at our story from yesterday.

But look on the bright side. Perhaps this will finally push Gov. Pat McCrory’s deficit in the polls to double-digits.

2) North Carolina GOP press secretary drinks fancy bourbon … and displays incredibly poor judgement.

Ok. So we promised you some laughs at the expense of people who act like lunatics. Well, unlike a certain presidential candidate, we intend to deliver on our promises. Wait for it. Right … now.

NCGOP press secretary Kami Mueller released a response to the NCAA’s decision, but not before she posted this on Twitter.

We’ve got nothing against Woodford Reserve. Well, unless it makes you write stuff like this.

Um … OK. Wait. There has to be an explanation for this beyond a generous glass of expensive booze. Let’s analyze Mueller’s Twitter account. Maybe we’ll find a clue. There it is. Right there in her profile.

Chipper Jones’s mother? No. That can’t be it. Bourbon AND “vino”? Maybe we’re getting somewhere. THERE! RIGHT THERE! THE VERY FIRST LINE. “Perpetually sleep-deprived.” Now it all makes sense. No sleep + booze + “vino” + being Chipper Jones’s mother = zero empathy for trans people living in N.C. Got it.

3) Reverend William Barber, protesters bring “Moral Monday” back to Raleigh.

Hundreds of protestors marched from the First Baptist Church on Wilmington Street to the North Carolina State Capitol Monday to, again, make a plea for racial and economic equality, social justice, an end to HB 2 and discrimination against the LGBT community, sound environmental and voting policies and much, much more.

This gentleman, and dozens of others, were there in support of a $15 minimum wage.

And Barber took aim at his many critics—namely, the “so-called religious right.”

From tomorrow’s INDY.

He lectured the “so-called religious right” about what he characterized as their indifference to the poor. He quoted the Bible and scoffed at their self-described Evangelism. And he vowed to continue to lead what he calls an urgent movement to improve the lives of the “disenfranchised” across the nation.
“The goal is to directly take over the theological practices and sometimes heresy of the so-called religious right. This is work I hope to do until I leave this Earth,” Barber said. “We have found some who are willing to stand in the gap for those who are poor, those who are hurting. … We will have a moral revolution in this country.”

4) Feds spare Red Wolf Recovery Program.

Well, it looks like the wealthy eastern North Carolina property owners who lobbied the N.C. Legislature hard to end a decades-old program that protects the endangered red wolf won’t consider this a Christmas morning-like experience.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Monday that it would stick with the Red Wolf Recovery Program and work to ensure the forty animals living in N.C. are protected and hundreds more red wolves living in captivity across the country would thrive.

5) Chelsea avoids plague, is coming to Raleigh.

Phew. That was a close one. I mean, she was in your apartment. With your KIDS. Noooooooooooo!

Well, luckily, Chelsea Clinton didn’t catch that super deadly mystery illness Republicans are claiming her mother, Hillary, is hiding from the nation. Or if she did, it’s not stopping her from coming to Raleigh today.

From WRAL:

Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton, is scheduled to participate in a “Women & Innovation Spotlight” event on Thursday at HQ Raleigh.
The program is being put on by e51, a group focusing on women in business.
“Clinton will emphasize Hillary Clinton’s plans to invest in technology and innovation, particularly as it relates to small businesses,” according to the organizers.

OK. Enough fun. Seize the day, people. And remember, if you didn’t get enough sleep last night, don’t mix bourbon and wine with being Chipper Jones’s mother.