Chuck Tyler

Why We Must Save the VA for Veterans

As a ten-year U.S. Army combat veteran, I’ve felt my share of aches and pains following my service to my country. And I know firsthand how the Veterans Administration uniquely cares for returning war-fighters. That’s why I’m alarmed by the talk about privatizing VA healthcare, and I want to explain how this would be harmful to veterans like me. Why the VA Matters The VA provides care to over 9 million Veterans at 1,240 health care facilities, including 170 VA Medical Centers and 1,061 outpatient clinics. Its roots stretch back to Abraham Lincoln’s call to care for those who have “borne the battle,” and it has been offering community care to veterans since World War II. As the VA has grown, it has tailored itself to meet the challenges faced by veterans with any type of complications caused by combat. The history of the VA shows that they understand the needs of veterans.

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Jeff Bryant

Why Teacher Uprisings May Hit Blue States Too

Surprising results from a new survey of teachers reveal the depth of “financial strain” classroom professionals face. These include high levels of college debt, stagnation of already subpar pay, increasing housing and childcare costs, rising health insurance premiums and prescription costs, and escalating out-of-pocket expenses for their own classroom supplies. More than half of the respondents resorted to second jobs to try to close the gap between what their teaching jobs paid versus their actual cost of living. The revelation teachers are financially struggling wasn’t what was surprising about the survey.

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Richard Eskow

We Need a Housing Revolution Now

Here’s an experiment: If you’re not downtown as you read this, go there now and find some homeless people. They probably won’t be hard to find. Now, look at their faces. If you can’t get downtown, look at their photographs online. Photo credit: Pexels / Pixabay Now, imagine these same faces – just the faces – without anything to tell you that they’re homeless. They’re not that different than anyone else, are they?  Still, you may notice some differences. There may be more signs of ill health than you would find in a random sampling. There will definitely be more people of color. Housing Apartheid Homeless people are, in fact, nearly four times more likely to be African American. They are eight times as likely to be Native American. Half a century ago, the United States committed itself to housing justice. We’re not even close.

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Sam Pizzigati

Why Should We Tax the Rich?

The orthodoxy that dominates today’s Republican Party — and the ranks of “business-friendly” Democrats — rests on a simple approach to economic policy. Let’s be nice, this orthodoxy holds, to rich people. Let’s be particularly nice at tax time. Let’s keep taxes on rich people, conservatives advise us, as low as possible. High taxes on high incomes, they argue, discourage entrepreneurship. No one with a great idea for a new business enterprise is going to start that business, their argument goes, if Uncle Sam is just going to tax away the rewards that a new business could bring. And the same goes for investors. They’re not going to invest in “job-creating” enterprises, the conservative orthodoxy insists, if high taxes threaten to eat away at their potential earnings.

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Jake Jacobs

Cynthia Nixon Could Take Down Andrew Cuomo Over Education

Should a state with extreme wealth and extreme poverty use public education to even the playing field so all children have an opportunity to improve their conditions? Many New Yorkers would answer that question, “Yes,” and the state’s constitution as interpreted by an appellate court promised a “sound basic education” to all public school students. For decades, however, the rich and powerful have blocked funding to needy schools. The state’s current Governor, Andrew Cuomo, has been long accused of blocking fair funding for education as he stakes out a “centrist” position that could help raise funds for a potential 2020 presidential run. Last week, New York lawmakers finalized the state’s latest budget package, underfunding the state’s neediest school districts for yet another year.

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Alexandra Moore

North Carolina’s Public Reckoning of CIA Torture

President Donald Trump’s nominee for CIA director, Gina Haspel, is reported to have overseen a U.S. site in Thailand where torture of a suspected terrorist took place. Later she allegedly helped destroy evidence of torture. Her nomination, pending congressional approval, is viewed by many as further evidence of this administration’s support of torture and an undoing of Obama-era efforts to end it. Her work was allegedly part of a program the CIA launched after 9/11 called Rendition, Detention and Interrogation. From 2002 to at least 2006, the CIA orchestrated disappearances, torture and indefinite detention without charge of suspected terrorists.

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Richard Eskow

7 Questions About the Syria Airstrikes That Aren’t Being Asked

“Mission accomplished,” says the President. What, exactly, was the mission? And what exactly was accomplished? Donald Trump is being mocked for using this phrase in a tweet to praise what he claims was a “perfectly executed” airstrike against chemical weapons facilities in Syria. This recalls George W. Bush’s egregious evocation of the phrase in 2003 to claim an early end to the U.S. entanglement in Iraq, which is still ongoing fifteen years later. History made a fool of Bush for that proclamation, which was printed on a banner behind the President as he delivered his speech proclaiming an end to the Iraqi conflict on the deck of an aircraft carrier. But Bush’s foolish and lethal incursion to Iraq had the backing of virtually the entire national-security establishment. So did Donald Trump’s bombing attack on Syria, as did the bombing attack he ordered last year.

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Robert Borosage

The Real Deal on Trump’s Trade Tantrums

“Trade wars are good, and easy to win,” tweeted Donald Trump when he threatened to slap tariffs on China and other nations he accused of “assaulting our country” last month. Stock traders were spooked as China promised to retaliate. Commentators across the political spectrum warned of job losses, price increases, economic peril, and trade wars. Progressives like Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren showed more sense, praising Trump for challenging China’s mercantilist policies, as did Conor Lamb, the surprise Democratic victor in the House special election in Pennsylvania. Just because Trump denounces our “lousy trade deals” doesn’t mean Democrats have to defend them. In fact, a majority of House Democrats has led the opposition to our corporate trade policies. Democrats torpedoed Obama’s Trans Pacific Partnership, long before Trump became president.

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Leo Gerard

GOP Claims Tax Fraud Will ‘Pay for Itself’

Remember the Republicans’ claim last year that their $1.5 trillion tax scam, slashing rates for the rich and corporations would magically pay for itself? Here is how that works: a rich guy walks into a Mercedes-Benz dealership, gets behind the wheel of a $112,400 GP Coupe, and drives away yelling to the salesman, “Don’t worry. It’ll pay for itself.” It’s nothing but a fraud. Well, that’s what the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said this week, anyway. Without blatantly labeling the GOP tax cut as a con, the CBO did say that it would in no way, not ever pay for itself. It would, the CBO warned, dramatically raise the national budget deficit, year after year, for at least a decade. Republicans, the party of public hand wringing over deficits, deliberately created this gob-smackingly huge one. Privately, Republicans are the party of glee over deficits.

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Miles Mogulescu

Will Trump ‘Wag The Dog’ to Gain Support?

It’s starting to look like a credible scenario that an increasingly unhinged Donald Trump might start a war, fire special counsel Mueller, and then argue, along with his Republican allies, that you can’t impeach a wartime President/Commander in Chief without jeopardizing national security. It’s sometimes called the “Wag The Dog” strategy. In the 1997 movie of the same title, Dustin Hoffman stars as an unpopular President facing dubious reelection prospects as he faces a sex scandal. Robert DeNiro, starring as a Hollywood producer, encourages him to stage a fake war and run on the campaign slogan “You Can’t Change Horse in Mid Stream.” President Hoffman snatches electoral victory from the jaws of defeat. It’s often been said that Pres.

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Jeff Bryant

Now Watch Republicans Blame Obama for Test Scores

One of the more interesting stories about the recent release of scores on the 2017 National Assessment of Education Progress (aka. The Nation’s Report Card) is not about the scores themselves but the way conservative education policy operatives are spinning them. The scores themselves were disappointing. As US News reports, fourth- and eighth-graders, the only two grades tested, “made little to no gains in math and reading since 2015,” the last year the NAEP was conducted.

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Tara Raghuveer

Restoring the Promise of the Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act, passed fifty years ago today, was a critical victory of the Civil Rights era and an effort to address generations of systemic racism in housing policy. The law intended to prohibit discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, or sex. President Johnson signed the Act in large part to stem the tide of anger that rose in cities after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but it was regular people who won the Act, through a years-long struggle to demand fair and equal access to housing. Photo credit: Warren K. Leffler, U.S. News & World Report – LOC / CC Segregating Our Cities The Fair Housing Act was indeed a victory – but it wasn’t perfect, and didn’t come close to rectifying the injustices that, by 1968, were already ingrained in American communities.

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Jeff Bryant

What Teacher Strikes Can Teach Democrats About Education Politics

The momentum of this spring’s teacher uprising is growing, as Oklahoma teachers extend their walkout into a second week and teachers in Kentucky and Arizona are increasingly eager for some kind of disruptive action. It’s too early to gage the full impact of this movement, but that hasn’t stopped pundits and reporters from commenting on what the strikes mean for education politics and policy. Because the rebellions are occurring in “red states,” Democrats are already capitalizing on any perceived advantage the strikes could give their party. “Democrats nationwide are hoping to turn momentum from recent teacher protests into political gains this fall,” reports Education Week.

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Sara Alcid

Equal Pay Day at Your Local Coffee Shop!

It’s Equal Pay Day, America. That’s the day when women’s wages finally catch up with what men were paid in the previous year. How much more, you ask, did men receive? $840 billion. That’s a lot of lattes. What would you do with your share of that $840 billion? I can think of a few things! If your answer doesn’t involve coffee, here’s some math to consider: Each year, the average woman would be able to afford 15 more months of child care, or 78 more weeks of food for her family. Women of color and LGBTQ women are hit hardest by this wage gap, so these disparities in access to resources are even greater for them. Do The Math Women’s wages fuel our businesses, economy, and most importantly – many working families. This disparity not only hurts their purchasing power and upward mobility; it also hurts our economy.

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Richard Eskow

As the World Watches Syria, Don’t Forget About Yemen

In the time it takes to read these words, a child under the age of five will probably die in Yemen. And, as this is being written, the U.N. Security Council is meeting to discuss a gas attack in Syria. President Trump, with newly-appointed National Security Advisor John Bolton at his side, says he will decide on his course of action within 24 to 48 hours. The Syrian people’s tragedy is enormous. So is the possibility for military confrontation between two nuclear powers. But while the headlines focus on Syria, and as a multitude of voices call for increased military involvement there, don’t forget the tragedy in Yemen. We can save lives much more easily there. We don’t have to send troops or launch missiles. All we have to do is leave. Empathy and Intervention Political scientists at the University of Toronto have linked empathy to left-leaning political views.

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Madison Hardee

How Trump’s Immigration Policies Harm Children

The Trump administration has attacked immigrant communities from day one with a range of misguided proposals and executive orders that undermine civil rights and terrify families. Photo credit: CLASP These efforts are having devastating effects – right now, as well as potentially long term – on the health and well-being of our nation’s youngest residents. Documenting the Harm Two new reports issued by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) examine how the Trump Administration’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and policy priorities are wreaking havoc in the lives of young children. Through interviews with more than 100 child care and early education professionals in six states, along with focus groups with dozens of parents, CLASP found pervasive effects of these threats on children.

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Leo Gerard

Deep and Abiding Disrespect for Teachers

When coal-mine bosses said mules were more precious than men because dead miners could be replaced for free, but not dead mules, it demonstrated disrespect. That contempt from the top provoked pitched gun battles between workers and mine-owner militias in West Virginia a little over a century ago. Ill-paid, mistreated and insulted, what did the miners have to lose? The same was true for sanitation workers in Memphis, Tenn., half a century later. Subjected to dangerous equipment that killed four workers in four years and paid so little they qualified for food stamps, more than 1,300 walked off the job on Feb. 12, 1968. They demanded respect, carrying signs stating, “I am a man.” The day after Dr. Martin Luther King marched to support these workers, he was assassinated in Memphis.

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Todd Zimmer

Standing Up for Rural Voters in North Carolina

Far-right radicals have made North Carolina the place to test their most extreme ideas. They redrew our voting maps, disempowered Black voters, shredded our safety net and are trying to pit rural and working people against each other. They rewrote the rules to benefit the rich and powerful at the expense of North Carolina’s poor and disenfranchised people. Photo credit: Down Home North Carolina We founded Down Home North Carolina in 2017 to build a different future for our state. We believe a progressive vision for North Carolina must include all of us, including rural communities, if we are to counter the influence of far-right donors who have captured our state government. Far-right ideologues like Art Pope have flooded our state with money, stoking racial resentments.

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Olivia Alperstein

It’s on Us to Stop the War in Yemen

We’re helping fight someone else’s war in Yemen — and the blood is on our hands. Since March 2015, the United States has supported a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that’s intervening in a civil war in Yemen. The war has resulted in massive civilian casualties and the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.   Photo credit: Julien Harneis / Flickr / cc The war has killed more than 10,000 Yemenis and wounded more than 40,000, the majority of them civilians. Over 3 million Yemenis are displaced, millions more have contracted cholera, and some 14 million are at risk right now of starving to death. These aren’t empty statistics. They’re crimes, which we’re enabling. American weapons — including American bombs — are helping to wage the war in Yemen. Saudi Arabia is a close U.S.

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Jeff Bryant

Striking Teachers Are Fighting for Communities

Teacher strikes that started in West Virginia and are now raging in Oklahoma and whipping up in Kentucky and Arizona are being called a “nationwide movement.” But a nationwide movement for what? The Wall Street Journal calls the teacher rebellions a “response to years of steep cuts to state education budgets.” Similar articles in other outlets make the argument that because strikes are currently confined to “teachers in states governed by Republicans,” they are mostly about challenging “GOP austerity.” While there is much more than a grain of truth to these observations, they are short-sighted. These striking teachers, in saying “We’ve had enough,” are taking a stand  not only about their own financial situation, but also about the conditions of their students, their schools, and their communities.

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