Isaiah J. Poole

Trump’s Immigration ‘Pivot’ and the Effort to Expose It For What It Is

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, ever the showman, is certainly poised this Wednesday to deliver a heavy dose of eye-grabbing and eye-rolling reality-show drama. Ahead of what is being billed as a major speech on immigration in Phoenix, Arizona, Trump is paying a visit in Mexico to President Enrique Peña Nieto, the man who Trump has insisted will pay for the wall that he promises to build between the United States and Mexico to keep immigrants from coming across the border. There is speculation that Trump’s meeting with Nieto is political posturing designed to make Trump look tough ahead of talk that Trump is modulating his immigration rhetoric to appeal to moderate voters put off by the strident and hateful tone he used in the primaries.

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Dave Johnson

EU Tells Apple It Is The Boss Of Them

Corporations are more and more in the habit of telling governments that they are the boss of them. If corporations get their way, “trade” agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will formalize their dominance. But not quite yet. The European Union (EU) just told Apple that it is the boss of them, and not the other way around. The EU has ruled that Apple’s tax-avoidance scheme with Ireland’s government is illegal, and Apple owes Ireland $14.5 billion — plus interest. The EU decided that Ireland’s tax deal with Apple, based on Apple demanding a tax break to “bring jobs” to Ireland instead of somewhere else, constitutes “state aid” to the company. The EU pointed out that other, smaller companies are hurt when giant corporations like Apple get special tax deals.

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Leo Gerard

Cheaters like Trump See Cheaters Everywhere

Two Republican judges ceded their principles last week to Ohio Republicans intent on suppressing the African-American vote. The Ohio GOP, like their counterparts nationally, have decided that if they can’t win minority voters, they will cheat. So over the past decade, Republicans across the country have perpetrated fraud in the form of voter ID laws, limits on early voting, restrictions on voter registration and other onerous requirements to make it difficult for minorities, young people and senior citizens to vote ­– requirements described as voter suppression in numerous lawsuits filed to overturn them. Last week, two George W. Bush-appointed judges said Ohio Republicans could eliminate “Golden Week” when registration and voting may occur on the same day.

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Richard Eskow

Health Care Is a Right, Not a Business

Financial columnist Megan McArdle recently wrote a column entitled “Healthcare Is a Business, Not a Right.” She was responding to a tweet from financial writer Helaine Olen: 25. The health of Americans should not be a profit center. Health care is a right. Full stop. — Helaine Olen (@helaineolen) August 17, 2016 Health care is a business, says McArdle, but most of us aren’t tough-minded enough to admit it. Even if you ask a conservative, she writes, “there is a good chance you’ll get a rant about greedy insurers nickel-and-diming hardworking consumers when they’re sick.” “Almost everybody feels that there is something fundamentally wrong about making money off someone else’s illness,” McArdle laments. It’s a straw-man argument.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Good News In The Reported Collapse of U.S.-Europe Trade Talks

News out of Germany that U.S. trade negotiations with Europe similar to the one that produced the Trans-Pacific Partnership have collapsed is another sign that an organized grassroots is successfully putting the multinational corporate trade agenda on its heels. Britain’s Independent, in an article published Monday, quotes Germany’s Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel as saying free trade negotiations between the European Union and the United States have failed, but that “nobody is really admitting it.” The trade deal is called the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP. It is being negotiated between the U.S. and the members of the European Union. Discussions have been going on at the same time the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation deal that includes several Asian countries as well as Western Hemisphere nations, was being forged.

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Robert Reich

After Trump

I recently got a call from a political analyst in Washington. “Trump is dropping like a stone,” he said, convincingly. “After Election Day, he’s history.” I think Trump will lose the election, but I doubt he’ll be “history.” Defeated presidential candidates typically disappear from public view. Think Mitt Romney or Michael Dukakis. But Donald Trump won’t disappear. Trump needs attention the way normal people need food. For starters, he’ll dispute the election results. He’s already warned followers “we better be careful because that election is going to be rigged and I hope the Republicans are watching closely, or it’s going to be taken away from us.“ His first campaign ad, released last week, features an image of a polling site with the word “rigged” flashing onscreen less than two seconds after the spot begins.

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Nancy Altman

Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand Social Security

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has released a new ad that reveals that either he doesn’t understand Social Security or he wants to galvanize opposition to Social Security. Either way, his rhetoric undermines our collective security. In his ad, Trump wrongly attacks immigrants and refugees. Contrary to Trump’s claims, unauthorized workers do not receive Social Security. In fact, while they contribute to Social Security through their jobs, they cannot receive Social Security. Undocumented immigrants are not even eligible for means-tested welfare programs like Supplemental Security Income. There is no ambiguity or debate: They are not eligible for Social Security’s earned benefits. Unauthorized workers have billions of dollars in Social Security contributions deducted from their pay checks each year.

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Richard Eskow

The “People’s Fed” and the Oracles of Jackson Hole

When William Greider wrote his 1989 book about the Federal Reserve, it’s not hard to understand why he called it “Secrets of the Temple.” The Fed’s proclamations can make it seem as mysterious as the Oracle of Delphi. (To be fair, nobody has speculated that hallucinogens are involved, as seems to have been the case in Delphi.) The Fed’s oracular sages gathered in Jackson Hole, Wyoming last week for the central bank’s annual retreat. But this year’s meeting was different: For perhaps the first time in history, some of the Fed’s leaders met with activists who are fighting to change it. Actually, the Fed’s not as mysterious as it seems. Some of the its behavior can be explained by its hybrid nature as a publicly created, but partly private, entity.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: The GOP Won’t Defend Trump, Or Denounce Him

This week, in a scathing take-down of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton linked him to white supremacists and white nationalists in the alt-right movement, and laid bare his own history of racial discrimination. Republicans responded with deafening silence. When the history of the 2016 presidential race is written, it will go down as a defining moment. In a 31 minute speech, Americans became re-acquainted with the Hillary Clinton we got to know during the Democratic convention: a fierce advocate who sweats the details, because “the details matter.” She delivered a carefully crafted 12-point take-down of Donald Trump, detailing his own history of racial discrimination, and linking him to the white supremacist/white nationalists of the alt-right movement — with enough details to leave fact-checkers with little to do.

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Dave Johnson

You Used To Be Able To Take Them To Court

If a company does something bad to you, you can sue them, right? Actually, thinking that is so 1970s. These days, gimmicks called “arbitration clauses” in contracts you are forced to sign basically let companies do what they want and keep you from taking them to court. But the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has proposed a new rule to protect us from forced arbitration clauses in consumer financial contracts. Forced To Sign Arbitration Clauses These days, before you can use an electronic device or software, get a loan or credit card, or do so many other basic things of modern life, you are handed – or have to click on – what seems like a 300-page contract. You have to because if you don’t agree to the terms (written in incomprehensible language that no one has time to read) you can’t get the loan, download the software or use the product.

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Miles Mogulescu

Don’t Underestimate How Much Steve Bannon Can Damage Hillary Clinton

Working in the film business, I briefly met the Donald Trump Republican presidential campaign’s new CEO, Steve Bannon, during the 1990s when he was a Hollywood investment banker. As one producer whom Bannon helped raise capital for told me, even back then he was an angry, racist, egregiously aggressive, and inappropriately temperamental character. Bannon was also whip smart with a sophisticated understanding of how the media works. Inside the liberal bubble, Democrats may be taking Bannon’s appointment to help run Trump’s campaign as a something of a joke. But, at their peril, they underestimate Bannon’s ability to harm Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee.

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Terrance Heath

Clinton Reminds Us That Silence Never Defeats Hatred

In a scorching takedown of Donald Trump and his alt-right allies, Hillary Clinton reminded Americans that silence never defeats hatred, but that it must be called out and exposed for what it is. With a record like his, Trump had it coming. After a week of hypocritical and offensive so-called “outreach” to African Americans delivered in front of all-white audiences, Trump stooped low enough to call Clinton a “bigot.” The Republican presidential candidate was more than due for the takedown that Clinton delivered on Thursday. Clinton could have simply ignored Trump’s baseless accusation. In recent weeks, the Clinton campaign’s strategy seemed to be to stay out of the way and give Trump plenty of room to crash and burn. It worked pretty well, too. Trump almost single-handedly widened Clinton’s lead in the polls into double digits.

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Digby

The Disturbing Dawn Of The Alt-Right

I wrote about the Alt-right for Salon today. It’s not exactly the same as European ethno-nationalism. It’s scarier: After months of squabbling about whether it’s acceptable to use the “F” word (fascism) it seems at long last that we have come to some kind of consensus about what to call Donald Trump’s “philosophy”: Alt-Right, also known as white nationalism. With the hiring of the former chief of Breitbart media, ground zero for the Alt-right movement, as Trump’ campaign chairman, the interest in it has now gone mainstream. Hillary Clinton made a speech about it later today. Alt-right white nationalism is an apt term for a campaign that has electrified white supremacists so it makes sense that most people would focus on the racial angle.

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Dave Johnson

Labor Department Issues Final ‘Fair Pay And Safe Workplaces’ Rules

The Department of Labor (DOL) has released the final rules for implementing President Obama’s two-year-old Fair Pay And Safe Workplaces executive order. The July 2014 post, Obama’s ‘Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order’, explained the order: Saying that “taxpayer dollars should not reward corporations that break the law,” President Obama on Thursday issued another executive order designed to help low-wage workers. … President Obama’s executive order cracks down on federal contractors who break hiring, health and safety, and wage laws.

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Dave Johnson

Groups Ask Clinton For “Unequivocal Statement” On Lame-Duck TPP Vote

Many opponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) continue to assume Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is only saying she opposes TPP to get their votes, while hoping it passes in the “lame duck” session of Congress after the election and before she takes office. Others worry that passage of TPP in the lame duck will reduce public trust of the incoming president, harming her ability to get things done once in office.

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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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