Dave Johnson

Icahn Joins Business Leaders Begging Congress: Start Spending

Billionaire investor (he’s always described that way) Carl Ichan is calling on Congress to start spending. You read that right: Ichan is saying there is a “day or reckoning” coming if the federal government doesn’t spend more to stimulate the economy. CNBC has the story, in “Icahn: Markets will have ‘a day of reckoning’“: Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is “extremely cautious” on the U.S. market, he told CNBC’s “Power Lunch” on Thursday.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: Making Lemons Out Of ‘Lemonade’

Nobody but nobody drops an album like Beyoncé. The lady single-handedly changed the game on how albums are released, and showed herself to be a savvy marketer. This week, after dropping multiple hints, Beyoncé finally dropped her latest, a 13-track collection called “Lemonade,” a deeply personal and boldly political meditation on infidelity, race and sexism that dares to embrace both anger and forgiveness. “Lemonade” is also a love letter to black women. In the hourlong HBO special and “video album,” the camera lingers on the faces of countless black women as Beyoncé gives voice to her own experience as a black woman, while honoring and validating those of others. That all proved more than enough for wingnuts to exhibit the kind of derangement only First Lady Michelle Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton previously inspired.

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Dave Johnson

Food, LGBT Groups Ask Congress To Reject TPP

More than 160 food, farm, faith and rural organizations have sent a letter to Capitol Hill, urging lawmakers to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The letter begins: The undersigned 161 farm, food, rural and faith groups urge you to reject the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement. Independent family farmers and ranchers will see little benefit from the purported export gains from the TPP. At the same time, TPP imports will compete against U.S. farmers that are facing declining farmgate prices that are projected to stay low for years. The main beneficiaries of the TPP are the companies that buy, process and ship raw agricultural commodities, not the farmers who face real risks from rising import competition. Giant American agricultural conglomerates will benefit because TPP lets them go to other countries and dominate the small farmers and suppliers there.

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Jeff Bryant

The Protest Generation Wants Its Education Back

Protests in North Carolina against HB2, the state’s infamous “bathroom law,” limiting protections for LGBT people, have made national headlines recently. But there’s another wave of protest actions going on in the Tarheel State you should know about. This movement is indicative of a national-level fight for education justice and civil rights throughout all of public education. In Chapel Hill some 100 people, mostly students, shut down a meeting of the state university system’s board of governors. The board chairman had to adjourn the meeting when about 20 protesters took over the agenda as soon as newly appointed systemwide President Margaret Spellings began to speak. “Hey, hey, ho ho, Margaret Spellings has got to go,” they chanted. Police had to clear the room.

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Hedrick Smith

Where’s The Big Money Danger Now? Look Down-Ballot

David and Charles Koch. Illustration by DonkeyHotey (Creative Commons). Washington – If you’re tempted to think campaign megamillions no longer matter because maverick Republican Donald Trump is a self-financed near-nominee and Bernie Sanders has fomented a nationwide rebellion on a tide of two million small donors, take a look down-ballot. MegaMoney is flooding into a high stakes battle for control of Congress. Despite this quirky campaign 2016, super PAC war chests and the lava of dark money donations are on track to hit another record in this election. The $707 million in super PAC funding is already double the level at this stage in 2012. And huge hunks of that campaign hoard are being rerouted into state races for senator, governor and Congress.

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Dave Johnson

Verizon Strike In Week Three, Affecting Company Operations

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) strike at Verizon is now in week three. Thirty-nine thousand workers are striking to preserve middle class wages in the U.S. The strike is affecting company operations and customers are feeling it, but the executives want their huge paychecks, so the strike continues. At Time, Martha White reports: Since nearly 40,000 union members walked off the job at Verizon two weeks ago, the telecom giant has been scrambling to keep its systems up and running, but it seems to be falling behind in one critical area: reputation. … consumer perception of the telecom giant has fallen to a three-year low, according to YouGov’s Brand Index. Fortune has also noticed, reporting that customers have lower opinions of Verizon as a result of the strike: The survey is the first indication that the strikers could have an impact on Verizon’s business.

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Bill Scher

Carly Fiorina: The Worst Possible VP Pick

We already knew Carly Fiorina was good at making people lose their jobs, having laid off 30,000 while leading Hewlett-Packard. We also knew she was good at losing campaigns, having lost a campaign for U.S. Senate and barely making a dent in the 2016 presidential campaign. It’s that stellar track record that Ted Cruz could salvage his flagging presidential campaign against Donald Trump. With this political logic, no wonder the Republican Party has flatlined. In fairness to Cruz, the available bench of Republican game-changers has diminished. Republican leaders like Speaker Paul Ryan appear to be afraid to challenge Trump directly, preferring to let him kill the party without their fingerprints on the body.

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Jeff Bryant

How School Vouchers Promote Religious Schools And Hurt Education

The recent debate about Harriet Tubman replacing Andrew Jackson on the front of a $20 bill revealed broad disagreements in the country about the value of lifting up the contributions to the nation made by women and people of color. It also revealed the importance of being properly educated in American history. We’re used to seeing history curriculum being altered by religious fundamentalists and conservatives to impart false ideas to schoolchildren. In Texas, state school board members recently issued geography, history, and U.S. government textbooks that pushed conservative Christian fallacies about U.S. history, including warped views of Biblical influence on the nation’s founders and the importance of slavery as the chief cause of the Civil War.

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Dave Johnson

CWA Asks For Justice At T-Mobile

A Bloomberg story reports that the cellular phone company T-Mobile is being accused of creating a fake union as a way to fight off gains by the real union, the Communications Workers of America (CWA). The company is accused of pretending to have a system that represents workers to management as a way of making employees think they do not need a union. In fact the representation system is the company itself. According to the story, “T-Mobile Accused of Fighting a Real Union by Creating a Fake One“: For more than a decade, the Communications Workers of America has been trying to unionize T-Mobile, the U.S. subsidiary of German giant Deutsche Telekom, which is now the third-largest U.S. wireless carrier. The campaign has so far won only two union contracts, covering about 30 of T-Mobile’s roughly 45,000 employees.

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Dave Johnson

Are Fair Trade Policies “Extreme?” Is Clinton Ready For Trump On Trade?

Is it really “extreme” to think we should have fair trade policies? The New York Times on Tuesday published a story by Nelson D. Schwartz and Quoctrung Bui, “Where Jobs Are Squeezed by Chinese Trade, Voters Seek Extremes,” reporting that, “research to be unveiled this week by four leading academic economists suggests that the damage to manufacturing jobs from a sharp acceleration in globalization since the turn of the century has contributed heavily to the nation’s bitter political divide.” By “sharp acceleration in globalization since the turn of the century” they mean millions and millions of manufacturing jobs, and more than 60,000 factories, all moved to China since 2000 to take advantage of China’s non-democracy that allows exploitation of workers and the environment.

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Lindsay Koshgarian

Show The Price Tag: No Secrecy for Northrop Grumman’s B-21 Bomber

Senator John McCain has had enough of government secrecy and bloated Pentagon projects. The Arizona senator made headlines Wednesday by calling for more transparency around defense contractor Northrop Grumman’s winning contract to build the B-21 bomber. The Air Force has not made public the dollar amount of the figure. Senator McCain also called out an infamous, and ongoing, Pentagon blunder: the “scandal and tragedy” that is the F-35 jet fighter. The defense industry is a poster child for what’s wrong with our political system and misplaced priorities. Defense contractors have made off with more than half of the Pentagon budget in recent years, scoring billions in profits at taxpayer expense. In 2014, Northrop Grumman was the number five federal contractor, making off with more than $10 billion in government funds.

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Martha Burk

A Two-Pronged Assault on Women

We heard a lot about the “war on women” during the 2012 election cycle — mostly over Republican attacks on abortion rights and birth control. While the phrase has faded in this election year go-round, the war on women has not. The only change is that now we’re fighting on two fronts — reproductive rights and economic survival. To a man, the three Republicans still in the nomination race oppose abortion rights. No surprise there. But Ted Cruz has upped the ante and come out against exceptions for rape and incest. John Kasich would allow the exceptions, but says there’s no point in talking to him about choice. The formerly pro-choice Trump is now not only against abortion, but blurted out recently what others undoubtedly believe but are too dishonest to say out loud — that the government should punish the women who have abortions. And probably the girls, too.

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Isaiah J. Poole

How Dennis Hastert Also Molested Our Democracy

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert on Wednesday received an incredibly light sentence for actions related to the sexual abuse of boys he supervised when he was a high school athletics coach. U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin used the phrase “serial child molester” in describing Hastert, but his punishment is directly related to evading money reporting laws while he was paying off one of his student victims to buy his silence. There is another case of molestation – specifically to our democratic process – for which Hastert is not being punished at all. It relates to how Hastert changed the House of Representatives when he became its speaker, and Scott Lilly of the Center for American Progress lays out the details in a lengthy article in The Huffington Post.

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Dean Baker

Free Trade and Globalization Designed To Screw Workers

Why are none of the “free trade” members of Congress pushing to change the regulations that require doctors go through a U.S. residency program to be able to practice medicine in the United States? Obviously, they are all protectionist Neanderthals. Will the media ever stop the ridiculous charade of pretending that the path of globalization that we are on is somehow natural and that it is the outcome of a “free” market? Are longer and stronger patent and copyright monopolies the results of a free market? The New York Times should up its game in this respect. It had a good piece on the devastation to millions of working class people and their communities from the flood of imports of manufactured goods in the last decade, but then it turns to hand-wringing nonsense about how it was all a necessary part of globalization.

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Robert Borosage

The Atlantic Primaries: Trump and Clinton Consolidate

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton – the two presumptuous if not yet presumptive leaders for their party’s presidential nomination – won big on Tuesday. Trump swept all five states (Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island) by double digits. Clinton won four of five, three convincingly, one (Connecticut) narrowly. The race is not over, but each is far closer to winning the nomination of her and his party. Trump trounced his opponents, winning virtually all of the delegates up for grabs last night. Analysts suggest that victories in two more states where he is leading in the polls, Indiana and California, will suffice to take him over the top. In any case, he is a lock to go into the convention with such a formidable lead in votes and pledged delegates that the party would be committing seppuku to deny him the nomination.

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Dave Johnson

Warning: TPP Rearing Its Ugly Head

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) went dormant in Congress after election season began. It became clear that the public despises our country’s corporate-dominated “trade deals” that let companies just lay people off and close factories here to take advantage of conditions in countries that allow people and the environment to be exploited. Candidates who could sense which way the wind was blowing told voters they oppose TPP, and Congress dropped it — for now. But now people who follow these things are hearing more and more talk behind the scenes that indicate corporate America is going to try to push TPP through in the “lame duck” Congressional session after the elections.

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Sam Pizzigati

Did The Beatles Help Fuel The Reagan Revolution?

In April 1966, the Beatles recorded “a contagious blast of angry guitar rock” that helped make tax hate hip. Overcrowded classrooms. Crumbling bridges. Shuttered libraries. These have become our everyday realities after over a generation of tax-cutting political bravado. A shrinking middle class. Rising dead-end poverty. The splurges of a new super rich. These have also become the markers of our time. Is it all the Beatles’ fault? Did the lads from Liverpool pave the way for the “Reagan Revolution” and the rise of the 1 percent? Do today’s billionaires owe the Fab Four some gesture of eternal gratitude? At first take, questions like these all seem ridiculous.

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Leo Gerard

GOP: It’s OK for Corporations to Kill Workers

Alan White couldn’t shout jubilation from the rooftop on March 25 when he heard that the U.S. Department of Labor, after decades of trying, had finally issued a stricter rule to limit exposure to potentially deadly silica dust in workplaces. He was happy, all right. After all, he’d worked with the United Steelworkers (USW) to get the rule adopted. It’s just that he knew shouting would induce his silicosis coughing. Within days, though, indignation replaced his jubilation. White, who’d been sickened by the debilitating, irreversible and often fatal disease at work in a foundry, watched in disgust as Republicans attempted to overturn the rule that the Labor Department said could save more than 600 lives and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis annually. Last week, GOP House members conducted a hearing to further their case against saving those lives.

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Burning Issues Video

Burning Issues: Reexamining Our Africa Policy

Emira Woods, associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, says in this Burning Issues video that the next U.S. president needs to think of Africa differently and ally with the forces of change seeking to improve the lives of people on the continent. Because Africa is a key source for oil and other vital materials, the United States has stepped up its military engagement on the continent, Woods says. Much of this engagement is framed by the U.S. as counterterrorism, but Woods says there is a direct correlation between where the U.S. invests its military resources and the areas that are richest in minerals and fossil fuels. “We have to look at candidates who would want to reexamine how the U.S. engages with Africa and the rest of the world,” Woods says.

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Richard Eskow

Too Big to Fail, Too Dangerous to Ignore

Regulators recently rejected plans from five too-big-to-fail banks, saying they haven’t found a way to go bankrupt without relying on taxpayers to bail them out. If they can’t fix it, they’re supposed to be broken up. So why are we suddenly debating the very concept of “too big to fail” instead? If that debate sometimes seem complicated – well, maybe some people want it that way. But the problems these regulators identified are plain enough. ‘Til Death Do Us Part Five big banks – JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, Wells Fargo, and State Street – received failing grades from U.S. regulators in the design of their “living wills.” Those are the banks’ plans to dissolve themselves in an orderly fashion if they begin to collapse into bankruptcy.

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