Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: Ferguson, Goddamn.

This week, the only thing worse than the Ferguson grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, was the right-wing reaction to that decision. Many of us dreaded what we all but knew would be a decision not to indict. Some of us were prepared to mourn. Some on the right, however, were ready to celebrate. Former New York Mayor and failed presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani just couldn’t wait for the grand jury decision. On a Sunday “Meet The Press” appearance, Giuliani trotted out the tired right-wing trope about “black-on-black violence,” and was thoroughly shut-down by sociologist and author Michael Eric Dyson. The rest of wingnuttia didn’t fail to disappoint. Giuliani even went on to say that he would prosecute Ferguson witnesses for lying, when they said Michael Brown had his hands up.

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Dave Johnson

With Election Over, First Order Of Business Is $450B Corporate Tax Break

The election is over. Congress is back in Washington. The first order of business after the election is to give big tax breaks to the corporations – $450 billion worth. Fortunately, President Obama is trying to do something about this. Tax Extenders Every year Congress renews a package of “temporary” corporate tax breaks. The renewal process is called “tax extenders” because they extend the term of these temporary breaks. So now the Congress is working on this year’s extenders package, except this time it wants to just make many of them (the ones that mostly give handouts to giant corporations and campaign donors) permanent. The Washington Post calls this process “a periodic bonanza for lobbyists.” A few of the special tax breaks in the extenders package are really good and serve an important purpose.

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Richard Eskow

Sorkin’s Attack on Elizabeth Warren Misses the Mark

Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New York Times has attacked Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Her offense? Criticizing the appointment of yet another Wall Street banker to a top economic post. Sorkin’s periodic defenses of the powerful are no longer unexpected. More surprising is the overall theme of this attack, which characterizes the congenial senator as enraged and wrathful and her position as petty and irrational. Sen. Warren is presumably inured to hyperbolic Wall Street-based criticism by now. And, like any woman in a position of power, she is probably sadly accustomed to male commentary that emphasizes a supposed emotionality. As one of our most powerful speakers on economic injustice and Wall Street fraud, Warren needs no help defending herself.

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Bill Scher

New Republican Plan: Defund Border Security

Republican leaders want to squelch President Obama’s immigration executive action. But they don’t want a shutdown. They would like to just defund Obama’s deportation relief, but the agency carrying it out, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, is funded by its own fees, not tax dollars controlled by Congress. Nonetheless, Republicans think they’ve found a way out of this conundrum. Politico reports: “The likely proposal would fund nearly the entire government through September 2015, but immigration enforcement related funding would be renewed on a short-term basis, according to several high-ranking GOP lawmakers and aides who described the plan as it stands now … The short-term portion would most likely expire sometime in the first quarter of 2015, sources said.

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Richard Eskow

Prosecute Now: The Justice Department Can Still Act Against Bad Bankers

It’s been a grim period for American justice. Despite compelling evidence of widespread bank fraud in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis – and despite all those billion-dollar settlements – prosecutors have not indicted executives at any major U.S. bank. This stands in contrast to the much smaller savings and loan scandal of the 1980s, which led to the conviction of more than a thousand bankers. And as the Justice Department’s criminal division remained idle in the aftermath of 2008, the statute of limitations passed for most of the bankers’ crimes. But there’s a ray of hope: The bankers’ own deep-seated propensity for cheating and corruption may have given prosecutors a new opportunity to indict them.

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Dave Johnson

China Caught “Dumping” Tires In US — Again

Monday the U.S. Commerce Department said it appears that Chinese-made passenger car and light truck tires are subsidized by the Chinese government and are being “dumped” here, below cost. Because of this they will impose punitive tariffs ranging from 17.7% to 81.3%. This finding will be reviewed next year. The tariffs are retroactive for 90 days, hitting importers who began stockpiling Chinese tires when it appeared the government might act. In July, the Commerce Department’s International Trade Commission (ITC) had determined that these tire imports from China might be “materially” injuring the US tire industry, and and began stockpiling Chinese tires. They will now have to pay the tariff anyway. In 2009 the Obama took action against China for the same thing, imposing tariffs for 5 years.

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Leo Gerard

GOP on Wrong Side of History on Immigration

At the first Thanksgiving 383 years ago, Native Americans and Pilgrim immigrants gathered with mutual respect to share a bountiful harvest they’d produced together. This Thanksgiving, though, there’s no respect or sharing in the homes of GOP nativists. Suffering amnesia about their personal histories, nativist Republicans want to expel the 11.7 million unauthorized immigrants, the people who harvest America’s Thanksgiving vegetables and care for America’s toddlers and grannies. The GOP has threatened to sue, shut down the government and impeach President Obama to punish him for issuing an executive order giving fewer than half of the nation’s undocumented workers a limited ability to remain in the United States. Americans would prefer if Congress fixed this problem. But Congress hasn’t.

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john a. powell

A Response to Ferguson: Systemic Problems Require Systemic Solutions

Last night, like many across the world who were watching, we experienced deep disappointment in the decision by the St. Louis County grand jury not to indict Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenage boy, on August 9. Our thoughts are first with the family of Michael Brown and the community of Ferguson. It’s important to note that this case has never been about just one police officer. The spotlight on Ferguson has revealed with a renewed, sharper focus a deep divide in our society highlighting persistent systemic inequalities. Even as we awaited the decision in this case there have been too many additions to the killing of young black men and boys at the hand of those who have sworn to protect us.

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Dave Johnson

Here’s What ’60 Minutes’ Should Have Reported About Infrastructure

“60 Minutes” ran a report Sunday, “Falling apart: America’s neglected infrastructure,” describing the seriousness and damage to the economy caused by our country’s crumbling infrastructure. Here are a few choice quotes, but really you should click through and watch the whole thing (and then come back here): “Except for the stimulus nothing much has happened.

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Terrance Heath

No Justice In Ferguson

The grand jury in Ferguson, Mo., has reached the decision many of us dreaded, but fully expected. Now, we must forge our profound disappointment into determination to achieve lasting justice, in Ferguson and beyond. The Ferguson grand jury decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. In the coming days, Wilson will sit down for major media interviews, and Thanksgiving dinner with his new wife. Michael Brown’s parents will sit with his empty chair, and the knowledge that the man who killed him is not only free, but all over the media — perhaps even celebrated in right-wing media, which may or may not stop short of celebrating their son’s death. We knew this decision was coming. It’s heartbreaking, but it is not a surprise.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Do Americans Really Want Hillary Clinton’s ‘Vital Center’?

Hillary Clinton invoked what she called the “vital center” in a speech before the New York Historical Society this past weekend as the place where most Americans want their politicians to be. But public opinion right now is actually tilted fairly leftward, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll also released this weekend. “I think our country kind of moves in pendulum swings,” she was quoted as saying in an MSNBC story. “We go maybe a little bit too far in one way, and then we swing back. We are most comfortable when he have that balance in the vital center.

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Dean Baker

Seven Years After: Why This Recovery Is Still a Turkey

December will mark the seventh anniversary of the beginning of the recession brought on by the collapse of the housing bubble. Usually an economy would be fully recovered from the impact of a recession seven years after its onset. Unfortunately, this is not close to being the case now. It would still take another 7-8 million jobs to bring the percentage of the population employed back to its pre-recession level. The 5.8 percent unemployment rate (compared to 4.5 percent before the recession) doesn’t reflect the true weakness of the labor force since so many people have dropped out of the labor force. Furthermore, more than 7 million people are working part-time who would like full-time jobs. This is an increase of almost 3 million from the pre-recession level. It’s not just the labor market that shows the economy’s slack.

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Sam Pizzigati

Uncle Sam Needs Some Better Nephews

Average Americans have a choice at tax time. They can pay their taxes or risk going to jail for tax evasion. America’s corporate CEOs have a different set of tax-time choices. These CEOs can have the corporations they run pay Uncle Sam or they can have their corporations pay more to their CEOs. Guess which way lots of CEOs are leaning. Better yet, read “Fleecing Uncle Sam,” the just-released report from the Institute for Policy Studies and Center for Effective Government that tallies up the choices top CEOs are actually making. This new “Fleecing Uncle Sam” study looks at the 100 U.S. corporations that last year shelled out the most in CEO pay. Of these 100 companies, 29 paid Uncle Sam less in taxes than they paid their CEO in compensation. How could that happen? Did these firms simply have bad years in 2013 and end up with not much income to tax? Not exactly.

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Robert Borosage

Keep On Steppin’, Mr. President

The President’s historic executive action on immigration has been greeted with scripted Republican outrage, from threats to close the government (again), block all presidential appointees (what’s new?), and riots in the streets (see #coburnriots on twitter for gripping hour by hour reporting of the carnage). But threats of more obstruction are pretty empty from a Republican leadership that has waged a relentless scorched earth opposition to all things Obama from the start of his administration. Instead of suing for peace, the president would be wise to keep on steppin’. President Obama has already shown the way not only on immigration but with the historic agreement on climate with the Chinese (scorned as a “war on coal” by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell) and his firm support for net neutrality.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Despite Electoral Defeat, Rev. Barber Touts “Forward Together” Triumph

http://ourfuture.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/William-Barber-interview-full-4.mp3 Listen to the OurFuture.org interview of Rev. William Barber II. Rev. William Barber II’s new book, “Forward Together: A Moral Message To The Nation,” traces the advance of the Moral Mondays movement in North Carolina, which rose up in response to the right-wing takeover of the North Carolina state government in 2012. But what it doesn’t include is what movement participants hoped would be an electoral triumph: the defeat of state House Speaker Thom Tillis, who pushed a series of hard-right initiatives though the legislature, in his race for the U.S. Senate. That triumph didn’t happen. But Barber, in an interview weeks later, said the results would still add a positive chapter to the book. “It worked. The movement worked,” he said.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week in Review: Punk’d By The President

This week, President Obama punk’d the GOP on immigration, leaving them caught between Latino voters and their wingnut base. And there’s not much they can do about it. Thursday night, President Obama executed one of the most brilliant moves ever ignored by television networks. With the wingnuts already outraged that the president didn’t immediately resign and mail Mitt Romney the keys to the White House after the midterm elections, President obviously decided to have some fun. He spent almost a week teasing that he would take some kind of executive action on immigration; an issue on which the wingnut base left the GOP exposed and vulnerable, with their worst rhetoric on immigration. It’s actually a modest plan, but the beauty part is that Republicans can’t shut it down.

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Dave Johnson

Walmart Says Its Element TVs Are “Assembled In USA” – But They Aren’t

Walmart runs commercials about how great they are for American workers, in part because they sell TVs manufactured by Element Electronics that are supposedly “Assembled in the USA.” (Wait … isn’t the “Walmart model” of selling cheap goods from China the reason everyone is so desperate for American-made goods?) This month the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) accused Element of “Red, White & Blue Washing” and filed a petition with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against Element. AAM says that Element’s assembly process violates the FTC’s standards for claiming that a product is “assembled in the U.S.A.” The FTC rules say a product must undergo a “substantial transformation” on U.S. soil before this claim can be made.

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Dave Johnson

NELP Report: Falling Wages In Factory Jobs

“My experience is that the greatest aid to efficiency of labor is a long line of [unemployed] men waiting at the gate.” — Magnate Samuel Insull, 1920s Economists strive for “efficiency” in our economy. “Efficiency” means that the things we buy are produced at their lowest possible cost. The wages that working people are paid are a “cost” to be eliminated. Egypt’s Pharaohs built the pyramids with “efficient” labor. Imperial Rome and the old Confederacy also had particularly efficient labor markets. American factory jobs used to provide reasonable pay and benefits – largely because of unions and democracy. So how do you make manufacturing jobs more “efficient?” You can move the factory to a country that doesn’t allow unions.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Bill de Blasio: “Democrats Not Standing Up” For Democratic Ideals

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has issued a blunt critique of his fellow Democrats on why they lost the midterm elections and what they have to do to win electoral majorities again. In an interview with Danny Feingold at the news site Capital and Main, de Blasio said the November elections did not represent a conservative tidal wave but was the consequence of too many voters staying home, “including a lot of Democrats, because they didn’t hear a lot from their fellow Democrats in too many cases.” “I think the biggest development we saw [in the midterm election] was Democrats not standing up for the ideals of the Democratic Party, not talking to the economic realities of our people, not being willing to offer real progressive solutions,” de Blasio said.

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Robert Borosage

Obama’s Immigration Order Moves Us Closer To Opportunity For All

NOTE: This official statement by the Campaign for America’s Future was released after President Obama announced his executive action on immigrant deportations Thursday night. President Barack Obama’s decision to waive the threat of deportation to upwards of five million undocumented immigrants and their families is a historic moment that moves America closer to its ideal of equal opportunity for all. Our inequality crisis is worsened by the exploitation of immigrant workers who toil without equal rights and fair compensation. The American economy will grow stronger, from the bottom up, once we end our two-tiered economic system and ensure that all workers have the same rights. Providing immigrant workers with legal status will boost their compensation and increase economic demand, growth which will even reduce long-term budget deficits.

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