Dave Johnson

Verizon Unions Deliver For American Middle Class

The long Verizon strike has ended, and the unions won. This means that the American middle class won, too. Verizon is an extremely profitable company. But even with massive, astonishing profits the company was demanding that its workers provide givebacks, allow employees to be separated from families for months at a time and on top of that allow the company to send more and more call center jobs out of the country. The workers are lucky enough to have unions to fight this – The Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). They voted to strike, it was a long, hard struggle, and in the end they won.

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Dave Johnson

How TPP Hijacks Democracy

OurFuture.org’s Richard Eskow discussed the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s “Democracy Hijacking” with Lori Wallach, Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, this past weekend on his radio show “The Zero Hour with Richard Eskow.” The “hijacking” refers to a central feature of the TPP. If the 12-nation agreement is authorized by Congress, corporations would be able to drag whole countries before a corporate tribunal of three private-sector attorneys (corporate attorneys who are at other times paid to sue countries) when they feel the countries have done something that limits their profits. They can demand compensation from the taxpayers of that country if the corporate court rules that the county has violated the corporation’s TPP rights. Listen to the full segment above (via Podbean), edited from the full show.

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Leo Gerard

Dodgin’ Donald’s Hiding Something in Those Unreleased Tax Returns

Donald Trump scorns traditional presidential candidate standards. The Donald doesn’t do what’s expected. And he certainly doesn’t do what he tells other candidates they must do. If Donald doesn’t feel like debating, he stiffs his opponents and grabs attention doing something different. If he finally realizes there’s no way to force Mexico to pay for that “big, beautiful wall” he promised ad nauseam, he converts it to a virtual barrier, a mere video-game blockade. And when he pledges to release his tax returns, then changes his mind, he simply comes up with an excuse not to do it. That’s Dodgin’ Donald.  Donald Trump is a rich guy, a billionaire 10 times over, or so he claims. And rich guys in America don’t follow the rules that working guys must. In fact, fat cats like Donald celebrate breaking the rules. And that’s why he won’t release his income tax returns.

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Robert Borosage

Common Sense on the Democratic Presidential Race

The media has declared the Democratic presidential race over, even though no candidate has won a majority of the delegates. The Democratic establishment is in a tizzy about polls showing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump running even with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, although that mostly reflects Republicans consolidating, however reluctantly, behind Trump. Clinton surrogates and operatives are pounding on Bernie Sanders to get out of the race, claiming they want to unify the party even as they excoriate Sanders and scorn his supporters. Perhaps it is time for a little common sense about the campaign. ● A race isn’t over until someone wins. This isn’t complicated. When the primary season ends, neither Sanders nor Clinton will have won the majority of pledged delegates needed to win the nomination.

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Burning Issues Video

Burning Issues: Fracking as Foreign Policy

The United States has been promoting hydraulic fracturing – fracking – in dozens of countries around the world despite the direct environmental risks and its contribution to global warming, says Charlie Cray, a researcher at Greenpeace. Cray notes that methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is released into the atmosphere through fracking at larger quantities than has previously been assumed. Also, cheap natural gas has become an obstacle to the rapid spread of cleaner energy technologies, such as solar and wind energy. Yet, Cray explains, the State Department under Hillary Clinton and her successor has used fracking as a foreign policy chip, encouraged by lobbyists for the major fossil fuel companies. While Clinton as a Democratic presidential candidate has supported more regulation of fracking, her opponent Bernie Sanders has called for an outright ban on fracking.

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Dave Johnson

Lame Duck TPP Push Hands Trump A Powerful Issue Against Clinton

More and more the word is getting out that President Obama, along with the giant multinational corporations and Wall Street, will launch a push in Congress to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during the “lame duck” legislative session following the election. President Obama should put a stop to this talk right now. It hands Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump a powerful issue to use against – and embarrass – Hillary Clinton, should she become the Democratic nominee. TPP In Lame Duck The Los Angeles Times has a story, “Obama races to cement the big Pacific Rim trade deal that all his potential successors oppose,” that includes this: The most optimistic timeline in Congress appears to be for the deal to come to a vote in the lame duck session. Obama predicted recently lawmakers might vote after at least the primary election season had ended.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: Trump’s Tinfoil Hat Campaign

Proving once and for all that he truly has not one shred of decency in him, Donald Trump has traded in his red trucker hat for a tinfoil hat. The sad and frightening part is that he’ll probably get away with it. Claiming that he was “just asking the question,” Trump dredged up the thoroughly discredited claim that the Clintons murdered Vince Foster. Foster, who spent part of his childhood living across the street from Bill Clinton, became the White House Deputy Counsel when the Clintons came to Washington, DC. It was the latest in a long list of accomplishments, including serving as the manager of the law review and graduating first in his class at the University of Arkansas, and being named Outstanding Lawyer of the Year by the Arkansas Bar Association in 1993. He joined the Rose Law Firm in 1971, where he fought to hire Hillary Rodham as the firm’s first female attorney.

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Dave Johnson

Sanders, Brown Speak Out On Gunboat Diplomacy For Corporations

Members of Congress are weighing in against the U.S. government’s use of “gunboat diplomacy”-style intimidation of Colombia against that country allowing a generic version of an ultraexpensive cancer drug named Gleevec in order to protect the public’s health. Meanwhile, a coalition of nonprofit groups sent a letter to President Obama on Friday expressing “great alarm” that the U.S. is considering withholding aid to Colombia because of its plan to allow the use of a generic competitor to Gleevec. “Gunboat Diplomacy” Last week’s post “Is This The Return Of U.S. ‘Gunboat Diplomacy’ Serving Corporations?” explained how the U.S.

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Dave Johnson

Stakes For All Workers Remain Huge In Verizon Strike

NOTE: Shortly after this article was posted, news broke of a settlement in the strike between Verizon and workers represented by the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Workers are expected to return to their jobs next week. IBEW President Lonnie R. Stephenson issued a statement saying, “This tentative contract is an important step forward in helping to end this six-week strike and keeping good Verizon jobs in America.” Verizon’s unionized workers, he said, “look forward to returning to work serving their customers, working under a strong pro-worker and pro-jobs contract.” With the strike by unionized Verizon workers going into its seventh week, Campaign for America’s Future’s Isaiah J.

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Bill Scher

Trump Would Be a Climate Killer

Donald Trump is so consistently inconsistent, the challenge is to remind folks that what he says one minute that may seem appealing is often contradicted in the next minute. When it comes to the climate, we don’t have that problem. Trump has made it crystal clear he would let the planet fry. On Thursday, Trump spoke to the North Dakota Petroleum Council. There would be no “Sista Souljah” moment. “A Trump administration will focus on real environmental challenges, not the phony ones,” he said, a clear reference to global warming, which he has long called a “hoax”.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Vouchers Subsidizing Education Failure

The false god of school vouchers has been unmasked once again, this time by a Brookings Institution study that says students in Louisiana and Indiana using vouchers to attend private and religious schools ended up doing worse on reading and math scores than their public school counterparts. “The magnitudes of the negative impacts were large,” said the study on “The Negative Effects of School Vouchers,” written by Mark Dynarski, a fellow with Brookings’ Center on Children and Families. They also could not be explained away by the nature of the tests the children were taken or by some notion that some of the voucher children had been pulled away from above-average public schools.

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Jeff Bryant

How Charter Schools Heighten The Politicization Of Education

Last year a breakthrough policy brief from the National Education Policy Center exposed some of the financial machinations charter schools engage in to further the interests of profit-seeking entrepreneurs. But what about the political machinations? The politics of charter schools are less quantifiable that their financials but are troubling nevertheless, and the expansion of these schools will no doubt lead to increased politicization of education in local communities. Consider the following anecdotes. Florida Fracas Recently a Florida news outlet reported about a charter school management company that “disappeared from the scene” after being told by the local school board to explain financial and operational problems. The company that operated four schools had racked up $1.8 million in debt after receiving $4.5 million in taxpayer money.

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Terrance Heath

House Passes LGBT Anti-discrimination Measure, Republicans Learn Nothing

In an apparent about-face, the House approved a measure barring federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees, but that doesn’t mean House Republicans have learned anything. House Republican leaders did on Wednesday what they should have done last week, when they let Republican members vote as the wished on a measure aimed at upholding an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees. More than 40 Republicans joined Democrats in passing the measure 223 to 195. The measure, offered by openly gay lawmaker Rep.

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Bill Scher

Trump Can’t Spin His Greed

Last week, CNN uncovered Donald Trump’s 2006 remarks about how he wanted to profit off of a housing bubble: I sort of hope that happens because then people like me would go in and buy. You know if you’re in a good cash position, which I’m in a good cash position today, then people like me would go in and buy like crazy. If there is a bubble burst, as they call it, you know you could make a lot of money. If you think “I sort of hope that happens” is too equivocal to suggest Trump wanted the housing market to collapse, he removed all doubt in a 2007 interview: People have been talking about the end of the cycle for 12 years, and I’m excited if it is. I’ve always made more money in bad markets than in good markets.

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Burning Issues Video

Burning Issues: The U.S. Role In The Israel-Palestine Conflict

The Israel-Palestine conflict should not be viewed as a millennia-old intractable conflict, but a recent crisis in which the United States has been a key instigator through its “blank check” support of Israel, says Raed Jarrar, government relations manager at the American Friends Service Committee, in this Burning Issues video segment. The pathway to addressing the conflict is clear, Jarrar says: Any agreement that assures Palestinians equal rights and equal access to resources. Jarrar says that while he is “not very hopeful” that the leading presidential candidates will on their own change U.S. policy toward Israel, there is “populist pressure” that could hold the U.S. more accountable and lead to a more balanced policy.

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Robert Borosage

Does the Democratic Party Platform Matter?

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has vowed to drive his bold policies ideas – from a $15 minimum wage and reviving union rights to tuition-free college and Medicare for All – into the Democratic Party platform to write the “strongest progressive agenda that any political party has ever seen.” After initial skirmishing, the divisive chair of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, announced a compromise on the composition of the committee that will draft the Democratic Party platform. Sanders got five representatives, Clinton six. Wasserman Schultz named four, including progressive legislator Rep. Barbara Lee of California and the committee chair, Maryland Rep.

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Courtney Freudenthal

Underemployed College Graduates Still A National Crisis

As a Class of 2015 graduate from the University of Chicago, Brianna Tong considers herself fortunate. She has a job that she loves that makes her degree worth attaining – as a lead organizer with the IIRON Student Network. But her work puts her in contact with plenty of young people – many of them her friends and former classmates – for whom a college degree has not opened the doors to anything other than low-wage service jobs. “From a very young age we are told we need to go to school to get a good job, need to do well in school to get a good job,” Tong said in a telephone interview. But even in 2016, eight years after the end of the Great Recession, that “good job” remains out of reach for too many college graduates.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Elizabeth Warren Launches Take On Wall Street Campaign

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) helped kick off the “Take On Wall Street” campaign on Tuesday by detailing the work that remains undone by the Dodd-Frank financial reforms that were signed into law six years ago. “The rules that protect our economy boil down to just two basic principles,” she said. “The first one: Government institutions shouldn’t be allowed to cheat people. … Second, financial institutions should not be allowed to force taxpayers to bail them out.” Warren explained the need for a new level of financial reform by saying that while the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill did impose some discipline on the financial sector, “let’s get real: Dodd-Frank did not end too big to fail.

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Burning Issues Video

Burning Issues: Our Failure in Afghanistan

Retired Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, who has done two tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan and who has since written articles critical of the way the United States has conducted the wars there, explains in this Burning Issues video his view of what the United States has gotten wrong in Afghanistan. While the U.S. military has had successful tactical actions in Afghanistan, “what never gets asked, and what is the most important question, is what are you accomplishing by this tactical activity?” Davis says. Davis’ stark conclusion: “It’s blatantly obvious that our mission is failing on every level,” and our intervention has actually made successfully achieving the goals of a stable government of a country that is not nurturing a terrorist threat much harder.

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Dave Johnson

Republicans Demand Flint-Like Solution To Puerto Rico Debt

Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) explains how Wall Street financial interests contributed to the economic crisis in Puerto Rico at the “Take On Wall Street” campaign event Tuesday at the U.S. Capitol.   In 2008 Wall Street got in over its head, and the U.S. government and Federal Reserve stepped in with trillions of dollars to bail them out. Now Puerto Rico has debt that it cannot pay. Instead of helping, though, Republicans in Congress are demanding increased austerity and an unelected “oversight board” that sets aside democratic governance – the same way Republicans imposed unelected government on Michigan cities like Flint. (We know how that turned out.) Trouble Puerto Rico is in trouble.

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