Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: The Lion King

A beloved lion named Cecil was lured out of his sanctuary in Zimbabwe, and killed by an American hunter. The world mourned, and wingnuts roared that the lion’s death drew attention away from their scam to bring down Planned Parenthood. Image via Vince O’Sullivan @ Flickr. Walter Palmer, an American dentist from Minnesota, paid $54,000 for the chance to hunt a lion. Cecil was shot and wounded with an arrow from Palmer’s crossbow, and tracked for nearly two days before being shot, killed, skinned, and beheaded. Cecil’s carcass was left to rot. His six cubs will most likely be killed by the next lion who takes over the pride, to encourage the females to mate with him. Meanwhile, Palmer — who claimed he didn’t know the hunt was illegal, and sent a letter of apology to his patients — found himself the most hated man on the internet this week.

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Isaiah J. Poole

56 Organizations Unite In Opposition To Schumer Corporate Tax Plan

A broad coalition of progressive organizations is pushing back against the lawmaker in line to be the next Senate Democratic leader and a plan he has endorsed to overhaul the corporate tax rules. The Campaign for America’s Future joined 55 other organizations in endorsing a letter to members of the Senate authored by Americans for Tax Fairness outlining objections to the tax reform framework offered by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio). “While it is just a framework with many details yet to be filled in, the proposal appears to fail two principles of corporate tax reform,” the letter said.

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Dave Johnson

Tobacco “Carve-Out” Dispute Tells Us What We Need To Know About TPP

Administration officials are desperately trying to wrap-up Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations in the next few days or so. If they can get it done right now, it enables a timeline for pushing it through Congress by the end of the year — before the public can rally opposition, and before the Presidential campaign season could bring heightened attention to the deal. One key sticking point in the negotiations is a proposed “carve-out” to prevent tobacco companies from being able to sue governments and block anti-smoking regulations. The tobacco companies are trying to block this carve-out because it “sets a bad precedent” of allowing governments to protect their citizens. This sounds astonishing, but it’s for real. Read on.

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Dave Johnson

Right-Wing Shutdown of Ex-Im Bank Already Threatening to Kill Jobs

Conservatives deride using government to help American companies export their goods as “picking winners and losers,” even when the winners are American exporters and workers. So Republicans have closed the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank, hopefully temporarily. The Ex-Im Bank provides financing guarantees to customers of American exporters if they cannot obtain financing elsewhere. This helps American companies make the sale. Since congressional Republicans allowed the bank’s authority to expire earlier this month, credit insurance that customers of U.S. exporters had depended on for a purchase is not coming through. Bids have to be cancelled or rewritten. Somewhere around 3,000 smaller U.S. exporters who relied on the bank are feeling the heat.

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Emily Foster

Bernie Sanders Tackles Immigration and Race

After more than 100,000 people on Wednesday evening participated in over 3,500 organizational meetings to rally support and hear the message of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator today appeared before a Hispanic business association to talk about the thorny issues of immigration and race. Sanders has drawn larger audiences than any of the other candidates in the presidential race, but some critics say he struggles when confronted with issues about race. He took the opportunity to improve his image and clarify his views at a press conference hosted by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Thursday. Sanders was interviewed by the organization’s CEO Javier Palomarez about the senator’s views on socialism, equal pay, trade, financial institutions, the environment, racism, and immigration.

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Terrance Heath

Medicare at 50: Successful, Popular, and Threatened By Conservatives

Today is Medicare’s 50th birthday. It’s improved the lives of millions of Americans, and it can as much for even more people. That’s why Republicans have never stopped trying to end it. Fifty years ago today, Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Medicare amendment under Title XVIII of the Social Security Act, guaranteeing health insurance to Americans 65 and older, regardless of income or medical history. Republicans like former senator Tom Coburn believe America was better off before Medicare. In 2011, then Sen. Coburm (R-Okla.) said: “You can’t tell me the system is better now than it was before Medicare,” he said. Coburn agreed that some people received poor care — or no care — before Medicare was enacted in the 1960s, but said communities worked together to make sure most people received needed medical attention.

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Jeff Bryant

We Won’t Get Great Teachers By Treating Them Badly

An article by Alia Wong for The Atlantic this week caused quite a stir by pointing to a recent survey of teachers that found one of the main stresses they have during their busy days is getting a potty break. Wong looked at results from a poll about the work conditions of teachers conducted by the American Federation of Teachers and the Badass Teachers Association, a grassroots teacher-led movement resisting current education policies. She found lots of interesting findings on the “everyday stressors” teachers face in the workplace, including time pressure, student discipline problems, and mandated curricula.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Congress’ Transportation Stall Is Our Chance to Mobilize

The Senate was expected today to vote for a three-month extension of surface transportation programs that the House approved on Wednesday, after also approving by a vote of 65-34 the six-year bill the Senate had hoped to pass this week. The six-year bill now awaits action in the House before an October 29 deadline. There will be the usual hand-wringing about Congress being unable to pass relatively uncontroversial bring-home-the-bacon legislation, but this time short-term congressional paralysis offers the chance to prevent a long-term disaster. The six-year bill that the Senate considered is actually only funded for three years, and then only with the help of a cobbled-together series of marginal revenue raisers to complement dwindling revenues from the federal gasoline tax dedicated to roads, bridges and public transit.

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Donald Kaul

Creeping Out of the Foxhole

At long last Republican presidential hopefuls crept out of their foxholes, where they’d been cowering and maintaining radio silence, to attack Donald Trump. With one or two exceptions, the field went AWOL as Trump trashed immigrants, calling them drug runners and rapists. But as soon as Trump said “I like people who weren’t captured,” suggesting that Senator John McCain was less than a hero, they pounced. Senator Lindsey Graham fumed that Trump’s had “crossed a line.” Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush condemned his “slanderous attacks.” Former Texas Governor Rick Perry called on Trump to exit the race altogether. How noble of them. Of course, it helped having some truth on their side. As a Navy pilot, McCain was shot down and wounded during a bombing mission in the Vietnam War.

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Terrance Heath

Sandra Bland, My Father, and Me

When I heard of Sandra Bland’s death in a Texas jail, after a traffic stop on a dusty road in Waller County, Texas, I thought of the time my father gave me The Talk that generations of African-American parents have had with their children. My father’s father had it with him, and I’ve already had it with my oldest son. It bears repeating, because it still means the difference between life and death for our children. Teach Your Children Since the first “20 and odd” Africans arrived as slaves in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619, African-American parents have lived with the knowledge that when our children go out into the world, structural and institutional racism can threaten their very lives. We know that the rules we teach and repeat over and over again may not save them.

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Dave Johnson

What Happened To Rex Henry In A Philadelphia, Mississippi Jail Cell?

Rexdale Wayne Henry, a Mississippi Choctaw Native American activist, was arrested on July 9 for failing to pay an old traffic fine. He was found dead in his Philadelphia, Mississippi jail cell on July 14. What happened? Sources say Rex Henry was running for tribal council, trying to get casino money used for things like schools, housing, elder care, language revitalization, and jobs training. There is little information available on Henry’s death and any resulting investigation. There is not much information available. Here is a roundup. WTOK.com, July 14, “Jail Death Under Investigation”: An inmate was found dead at the Neshoba County Jail Tuesday morning. Authorities say 53-year-old Rexdale Henry of Philadelphia was found by officers just after 10 a.m. He was last seen alive around 9:30.

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Dave Johnson

Did Obama Administration Downplay Malaysia Slavery To Grease Trade Deal?

“Pope Francis says when the economy controls politics both lose … When economics takes over we tolerate anything for the sake of the dollar.”– Sister Simone Campbell Cheap labor is the whole point of our corporate-rigged, NAFTA-style trade agreements. Companies get to move jobs, factories, even entire industries out of the U.S. to countries where people are exploited, the environment is not protected and “costs” like human safety are kept low. But even so … tolerating slavery? Flat-out slavery? Really? Unfortunately, it looks like that’s what is happening with fast-track trade promotion authority, The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Obama administration. Malaysia Reclassified A few weeks ago Wall Street and the giant, multinational corporations got their way and pushed “fast track” through the Congress.

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Jim Hightower

The Money Primary

In this exclusive election, Jeb is way out front of the GOP pack with a record haul of $100 million, while Hillary has bagged $45 million to lead among the Dems. Hold on. Here come the Koch brothers from out of nowhere, overwhelming all the other campaigns with nearly a billion dollars for their secretive effort to put the presidency under their private control. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s corporate-friendly Citizens United ruling, running for America’s highest office in our democratic republic has been perverted into a gold rush. Candidates shamelessly grub for cash, molding their policy proposals to fit the narrow interests of plutocratic elites. Photo Credit: pictures of money via Compfight cc The donors and political sycophants involved in this obscene corruption of the system are playing with dynamite.

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Leo Gerard

Anti-Presidential: Money Grubbing, Community Disdaining Candidates

Donald Trump says exactly what the GOP believes. It’s a simple axiom: personal wealth accumulation is everything. Republican Party officials believe individuals like The Donald attain riches through their own guts, glory and gumption with not an iota of aid from community, country or, frankly, inherited wealth. It’s just that when The Donald expresses their credo, he ignores the shinola and emphasizes the crass. Instead of going with the slick 2012 GOP convention theme, “I built that,” to aggrandize individual capitalist conquest, The Donald slammed a group of his primary competitors for serving their nation instead of themselves. What The Donald failed to acknowledge is that some of them, like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, serve themselves through their so-called public service.

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Mary Green Swig | Steven L. Swig | Roger Hickey

Haunted by Student Debt to the Grave

MaryGreenSwig Steven L.Swig RogerHickey It will not be news to 41 million Americans that this nation is in the middle of a student debt crisis. That’s the number of people burdened by student loan payments. But many people, including many student debt holders, may be surprised to learn that people can be pursued for student debt even into their elder years. In fact, the government is withholding Social Security payments for some retirees because their student loans have not been fully repaid. This is a growing problem that Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) have asked the government to study in greater depth. “Garnishing Social Security benefits defeats the entire point of the program — that’s why we don’t allow banks or credit card companies to do it,” said Sen. McCaskill.

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Bill Scher

Sizing Up Clinton’s New Climate Message

If you want a presidential candidate who supports a carbon tax and vociferously opposes the Keystone pipeline, you should vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders. If you want a presidential candidate who has thought through how to best communicate to swing voters how a clean energy-fueled America will help, not hurt, economic growth, Hillary Clinton is probably your best bet. In conjunction with an announcement of her renewable energy strategy, Clinton released the three-minute climate ad “Stand for Reality.” What you see is the culmination of years of Democratic Party and environmental movement struggles over how to overcome the challenge of how to message a crisis that most believe is happening but don’t feel is imminently threatening their daily lives. The ad elegantly weaves together multiple threads.

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Terrance Heath

Bernie Sanders: Strong Words on Structural Racism and Inequality

The stakes were high for the speech by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to the national gathering of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Saturday night. Sanders’ speech to the civil rights organization, whose first president was Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., came just one week after Black Lives Matter activists disrupted a Netroots Nation event in Phoenix, Arizona, featuring Sanders and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, to demand that candidates address police brutality against African American communities, and put racial justice at the center of their campaigns. If Sanders responded badly to demands of the Black Lives Matter activists, almost immediately afterward he showed an understanding of and willingness to address their concerns with the same forcefulness he brings to populist economic issues.

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Dave Johnson

Even If Sandra Bland Did Commit Suicide…

We don’t know what the evidence will show happened to Sandra Bland in that jail cell. It shouldn’t matter. Does it really matter if Sandra Bland committed suicide while in police custody or was murdered? Does a suicide under police watch in any way absolve the police of responsibility? Why was she in a jail cell in the first place, and why was she able to commit suicide in that cell? Look how she got there in the first place. A person is pulled over for changing lanes without first signaling – apparently thinking she was getting out of the way as a police car came speeding up behind her. The driver is threatened with a Taser, pushed to the ground, taken to jail. Would she have been pulled over if she was driving a Mercedes? Would she have been pulled over if her skin was a difference color? Most of us can safely bet the answer is no.

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Alan Jenkins

Two Major Victories for Fair Housing

It’s a rare moment when two branches of our federal government take major steps to expand opportunity for all Americans. But, with relatively little fanfare, that’s what’s happened over the last few weeks in the critical area of housing. First, on June 25, the U.S. Supreme Court held that if a housing policy seriously disadvantages one gender, racial, religious or ethnic group, families with children, or people with disabilities, that policy is illegal unless there is an important justification for the policy. That principle, known as “disparate impact,” has been integral to the Fair Housing Act’s protections for over four decades, but this was the High Court’s first time considering it. Just a week later, the U.S.

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Dave Johnson

Jeb! Bush Vows To Cripple Government

Presidential candidate Jeb Bush gave a speech last Monday at an event organized by a corporate lobbying group in which he vowed to cripple our government. So who gets to be in charge if he succeeds? Who decides how to allocate our country’s resources, determine and enforce our country’s economic policies, who pays to build roads and schools and our other public assets? If you look at who organized the speech, you might find a clue about who Bush thinks should do these things. Bush’s speech was at Florida State University, ostensibly on the subject of “government reform” and the cozy relationship between lobbyists and government officials. His solutions, however, included proposals to get the government out of the way of corporations by essentially crippling it if elected.

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