Robert Borosage

The Trump Campaign Shakeup: Going To The Mattresses

Flagging in the polls, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has decided to shake up his campaign, bringing in Stephen Bannon, head of Breitbart News LLC, as CEO. Paul Manafort, the experienced Republican operative who has urged Trump to pivot toward the center for the general election, resigned Friday morning. Since the Republican convention in July, Trump’s poll numbers have plummeted, as he denigrated a Muslim Gold Star mother whose son died in Iraq; insisted that President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton were the “founders of ISIS,” and suggested that “Second Amendment people” might take care of Clinton if she were elected president.

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Jamie Horwitz

“Return to Sender”: Postal Workers Rally Against TPP

Do you remember the old Elvis hit “Return to Sender,” and its lyrics “Return to sender, no such address, no such zone?” That’s the message that 2,000 postal workers from across the nation delivered at a rally against TPP Tuesday at Disney World’s Dolphin Hotel, outside Orlando. Postal workers and their union leaders went further, they made it clear that they want the Trans Pacific Partnership to be marked “canceled.” The American Postal Workers Union adjourned its biennial convention early so that union delegates, joined by family members, could participate in the spirited rally, complete with signs, marching and a labor chorus that sang songs with a “no TPP” refrain. The APWU-sponsored event was solely devoted to the trade deal and was well-attended by Florida political reporters who wanted to hear Senate candidate Rep. Alan Grayson’s address to the crowd.

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Richard Eskow

Creating Change: Lessons From a Private-Prison Victory

Sometimes you win. That can be an unfamiliar sensation for people on the left. When you fight for good causes, against powerful forces and overwhelming odds, you lose a lot of battles. But sometimes you win. Take last week’s announcement from the Justice Department that it’s planning to phase out the use of for-profit prisons. Like many such victories, it is only a qualified success. But qualified success is still success. This victory seemed politically impossible as recently as last year. What changed? Like many such victories, it began with consciousness. Attacks on the “prison industrial complex” were once considered the province of radical activists and crusading (but possibly lonely) left journalists. Some church groups got wind of the issue in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s and divested themselves of for-profit prison stock.

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Dave Johnson

Should We Accept TPP’s Harm For National Security Reasons?

Calling the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) a “trade” deal (it isn’t) the corporate community and the Obama administration are also trying to sell it as important for national security. Recent op-eds make a strong case that this is just wrong. First, Brigadier General (Retired) John Adams writes in The Hill, in “The national security case against TPP”: While I respect President Obama and the pact’s military backers, I believe these arguments miss a crucial point: By facilitating the further offshoring of America’s manufacturing base, the trade pact would actually undermine America’s military readiness and global economic standing. TPP would hurt our national security interests more than it would help.

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Hannah Gelder

Stopping Traffic To Stop Corporate Greed In Illinois

Shutting down intersections as a tactic for interrupting the status quo and bringing attention to an issue has been used in organizing since time immemorial. But a classic action in Chicago on Monday had a different twist. Over 200 people shut down a downtown intersection, dancing to their own rendition of the Electric Slide. The action was organized by Fair Economy Illinois, a collective of People’s Action affiliates and allies. A recent report by Institute for Policy Studies showed that utility companies have become expert tax dodgers. ComEd, an electric utility company in Illinois and subsidiary of Exelon, with pre-tax profits of more than $706 million in 2015, dodged $47.7 million in corporate income taxes to the State of Illinois.

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Dave Johnson

CEO Of Giant Corporation Tells US Government He’s The Boss Of Them

Are We the People the boss of giant multinational corporations, or are they the boss of us? Imagine, if you will, going to the IRS and saying, “I don’t think the tax rate is fair so I’m not going to pay it.” Regular Americans can’t do that. But Apple just did. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook was interviewed by The Washington Post early this month. He was asked about the vast sums of profits that Apple has shifted into overseas tax havens thanks to a loophole in US tax law that lets them “defer” paying taxes on those profits as long as the money technically stays outside the country. Cook said (emphasis added, for emphasis): And when we bring it back, we will pay 35 percent federal tax and then a weighted average across the states that we’re in, which is about 5 percent, so think of it as 40 percent.

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Terrance Heath

Donald Trump Isn’t Really Reaching Out To African-Americans

Contrary to recent headlines, Donald Trump isn’t reaching out to African-Americans. He isn’t even talking to us. He’s talking past us, and saying exactly what his alt-right base wants to hear him saying to black folks. Donald Trump is telling African-Americans that our biggest problems are simply the result of listening to the wrong white people. As Isaiah Poole wrote in, “Donald Trump’s Most Racist Speech Ever,” Trump stood in front of an all-white audience in the 95-percent-white suburb of West Bend, Wis., called for “law and order,” and denounced the “war on police,” even as the death of another black man in a police-involved shooting caused unrest in Milwaukee, just 25 miles away. Trump feigned concern for African-Americans, and repeated well-worn Republican rhetoric, that African-Americans have been taken advantage of by Democrats.

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Sarah Jaffe

Trickle Down Election Economics: How Big Money Can Affect Small Races

At a press event in Kingston, New York, a Hudson Valley community about 90 miles north of Manhattan, the local Democratic congressional candidate, Zephyr Teachout, earlier this month called for a debate. But not with her Republican opponent, John Faso. Instead she issued the challenge to two high-rolling hedge fund bosses who back him. “These two New York City billionaires, Paul Singer and Robert Mercer, have put $1 million together into the super PAC supporting my opponent,” she said. “The voters deserve to hear directly from the billionaires backing John Faso about what they expect to get from him in Congress.

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Dave Johnson

Rock Against TPP Drawing Large Crowds

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is revving up for a vote in the “lame duck” session of Congress that follows the election, and the Rock Against the TPP Concert Tour is drawing large crowds. Awareness of TPP drives opposition, and Rock Against the TPP is doing its part to drive awareness. Awareness Drives TPP Opposition A July survey by Democracy Corps shows that Americans are generally unaware of TPP, but when they learn about it, a majority is opposed to it. While people initially think of “trade” in a generally positive way, the more people learn about TPP and other “trade agreements” the more they shift to opposing them.

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Jacob Swenson-Lengyel

Talking Necessary Trouble with Sarah Jaffe

The first real conversation I had with Sarah Jaffe was on a school bus heading out for a series of direct actions — and a few brave arrests — in Washington, DC with 1,000 community leaders from National People’s Action and the National Domestic Workers Alliance. It was one of our biggest events of the year and leaders had come on planes, trains, and (mostly) automobiles to be there. For Sarah Jaffe, it was just another day of  doing what she does best. Jaffe has spent years traversing the country, covering protest movements in the wake of the financial crisis. In her new book, Necessary Trouble, Jaffe distills what’s she’s learned, taking her readers on a tour of today’s most powerful social movements and introducing us to the people on the frontlines leading them.

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Mark Weisbrot

Obama’s New Campaign for the TPP Could Drag Down Democrats

How much is President Obama willing to harm the Democratic Party in order to win approval for the deeply unpopular Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “trade” agreement? We may soon find out. On Tuesday, Politico broke the story that the White House will be “making an all-out push to win passage of the deal in the lame duck session of Congress, organizing 30 events over the congressional recess.” The effort will be designed to put pressure not only on Democratic members of Congress, but also on swing Republican votes, by lobbying important business interests in their districts. This is pretty big news for the 2016 elections but it seems to have gotten little to no coverage in major media outlets.

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Dave Johnson

Postal Workers To Rally Against TPP Tuesday

The 200,000-member American Postal Workers Union (APWU) is holding its biennial convention in Orlando this week. As part of that convention, there will be a rally to publicize opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The rally will take place Tuesday, August 23 at 3:30 pm beginning in the Hemisphere Ballroom of Orlando’s Dolphin Hotel. APWU President Mark Dimondstein made the following statement when announcing the rally: “Postal workers are a proud part of a global grass-roots movement in opposing this devious, corporate-backed deal which would hurt workers and the environment in 12 different countries — if allowed to go forward. Like NAFTA and other hard-sold multinational deals, the TPP was negotiated in secret and has very little to do with trade between nations.

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Robert Borosage

The Populist Uprising Isn’t Over; It’s Only Just Begun

The summer ends with a growing lament among progressives. Tom Frank’s cutting voice sums it up: “And so ends the great populist uprising of our time, fizzling out pathetically in the mud and the bigotry stirred up by a third-rate would-be caudillo named Donald J Trump. So closes an era of populist outrage that began back in 2008, when the Davos dream of a world run by benevolent bankers first started to crack. The unrest has taken many forms in these eight years – from idealistic to cynical, from Occupy Wall Street to the Tea Party – but they all failed to change much of anything.  And now the last, ugliest, most fraudulent manifestation is failing so spectacularly that it may discredit populism itself for years to come.” Like many on the left, Frank has few hopes for Hillary Clinton.

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Rae Breaux

The New Normal: Organizing to Break the Cycle of Climate Disaster

With Amanda Devecka-Rinear, New Jersey Organizing Project, and Gary Zuckett, West Virginia Citizen Action Group. The record-breaking floods in Louisiana are the latest example of what many working people already know all too well: climate change has already begun, and it is wrecking our communities. So far, over 30,000 people have been evacuated from their homes, 10,000 people are in shelters, and those numbers are rising. The shelters themselves are experiencing flooding, and some families have already been relocated multiple times. At this point, almost 30 parishes have been declared major disaster areas. Our communities are literally underwater due to the extreme weather and sea level rise brought on by climate change.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: Trump Takes “Alt” Out of “Alt-Right”

Donald Trump’s announcement of his new campaign team completes the process of bringing white supremacists and white nationalists from the extreme fringe into the mainstream of American conservatism and the GOP, which began when Donald Trump started his campaign. If establishment Republicans were hoping to finally make their candidate see reason, and halt his spiral into electoral oblivion, by finally executing a “pivot” away from his primaries persona, and towards less incendiary, more nuanced general election rhetoric, they were sorely disappointed. It turns out the mercurial, racist, xenophobic, wannabe fascist that enthralled GOP voters was not a facade, behind which waited the “real” Donald Trump, waiting to be revealed to the general electorate. What we saw in the primaries is what the Republicans got for the general election. Not that they didn’t try.

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Dave Johnson

Is Making Corporations Pay Wages “Burdensome Government Regulation?”

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump and Republicans in general say “burdensome government regulations” are holding the economy back. Phrases like that sure sound ominous, as does another Republican favorite, “big government.” But what do the words actually mean? Trump: “We’re going to get rid of all these ridiculous – everything is so bad – we’re going to get rid of the regulations that are just destroying us.” In Trump’s Detroit “economic speech” he said, “The U.S. economy today is twenty-five percent smaller than it would have been without the surge of regulations since 1980.

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Richard Eskow

Trump’s Estate Tax: An Aristocrat’s Gift to His Friends and Family

“There is a myth out there that…at heart, he’s really on the side of the little guy,” Hillary Clinton said recently of Donald Trump. “Don’t believe it.” I agree. But I’ve never liked using the phrase “little guy” to describe America’s working men and women. A lot of people in this country are managing to survive against pretty long odds, and that’s a pretty big accomplishment in my book. I have nothing against anybody who was born rich. But if anybody is a “little guy” in this story, it’s Trump himself — and I’m not just talking about his hands. It takes a little heart to be born into such wealth and yet be filled with such self-regard and selfishness. It takes a little heart to want so much for himself and so little for others, to bring out the worst in our neighbors and be so cruel to the strangers at our door.

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Richard Eskow

Will The “Fix the Debt” Manipulators Ever Reform Themselves?

I’ll say this for them: The Wall Street billionaires and corporate CEOs behind the “Campaign to Fix the Debt” have a lot of nerve. Once again they’re using cheap scare tactics, along with some manipulative “nudging,” to drum up support for cutting Social Security benefits. The money behind the latest scare campaign – “How Old Will You Be When Social Security’s Funds Run Out?” – also funds a TV ad that shows jobs, teachers, and roads and bridges vanishing, supposedly because the national debt wasn’t brought under control. That’s pretty cynical, since their own ideas have led to lost jobs, teacher layoffs, and a lack of funds to repair roads and bridges.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Important Victory In The Fight Against Private Prisons

People fighting the private prison industry scored a huge victory Thursday when the Justice Department issued a memo announcing that it would begin the process of “reducing – and ultimately ending – our use of privately operated prisons.” That memo was written by Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates and was directed to the acting director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Thomas R. Kane. It contains a direct takedown of some key right-wing justifications for privatizing what should be exclusively a public function. “…[T]ime has shown that they compare poorly to our own Bureau facilities,” the memo said.

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