Richard Eskow

Trump 2016: The Three Shadows Haunting Cleveland

When Donald Trump’s Republican Party convenes in Cleveland, three shadows will haunt the arena. They won’t talk about these shadows on television, but if you look closely you’re sure to see them. The first shadow is that of the extremist Republican right. Since the infamous Lewis Powell memo of 1970 it has invested billions in think tanks, academia, and politics to promote its agenda of individual greed over the common good. Their free-market voodoo and corporate pandering is promoted by wild-eyed believers and cutthroat cynics who know that their ideas are unpopular and their theories disproved. That’s why they rely on deception and disenfranchisement. This is the Republican Party establishment. Its goods are peddled by the likes of Paul Ryan, a human smiley-face sticker with an extremist’s heart.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: A GOP Platform for Which Century?

The same week that Democrats advanced the most progressive platform in the party’s history, Republicans crafted a platform that effectively rejects the 21st century. Tasked with the job of drafting a platform to bring the GOP into the 21st Century, delegates on the Republican platform committee produced a platform that faces resolutely backwards, and reaffirms the party’ staunchly conservative positions on issues where it’s fought losing battles in recent years. Here are a few of the wackier items from the fevered brains of right-wingers who huddled in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, to hammer out the platform this week, in advance of the GOP convention. Supreme Court be damned. The GOP platform backs a constitutional amendment to overturn the 2015 decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

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Amanda Ballantyne

How Strong Payday Lender Regulations Help Small Business

In this time of partisan gridlock, it’s rare to see a federal policy move than can be of real help to small businesses and their customers. The rule recently released by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) aimed at curbing predatory payday lending has the potential, if strengthened, to substantially transform the climate in which small business owners operate. While small business owners are not the primary recipients of payday loans, the prevalence of these lenders and the interest rates and fees they impose on their customer base cause a real drag on their bottom line. Payday loans siphon money out of local communities and depress consumer spending.

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Terrance Heath

Donald Trump Appeases Extreme Right With Pence Pick

In appeasing the extreme right by choosing Indiana governor Mike Pence as his running mate, Donald Trump reveals how he hopes to secure enough votes to win the presidency — and how he may have to govern in order to satisfy the GOP base. With his announcement of Indiana governor Mike Pence as his running mate, Donald Trump almost single-handedly revived a political career that was circling the bowl not long ago. Pence, once considered a contender for the GOP presidential nomination, all but ended his hopes of national office when he signed Indiana’s “religious freedom” law, and bungled his response to a backlash that cost his state millions of dollars. In March 2015, Pence was a top contender for the GOP presidential nomination. Then, last March, Pence signed the so-called “Religious Freedom and Restoration Act” (RFRA) into law.

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Dave Johnson

Financial Transactions/Wall Street Speculation Tax Picks Up Steam

The idea of putting a small “Robin Hood” tax on financial transactions has been kicking around for a while, but in the last month the idea has picked up some real steam. The Financial Transaction Tax (FTT), also called a “Wall Street Speculation Tax,” proposal asks for a small tax on financial transactions. Such a tax would slow down extreme speculation while raising money to pay for essential public services. The idea has been called a “Robin Hood Tax” because it takes from the rich. The FTT is a very tiny tax. Some proposals have suggested a tax of just three hundredths of a percent – a mere 30 cents on a $1,000 stock transaction.

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LeeAnn Hall

‘Doorstep Convention’ Builds The Vote Against Hate And Intolerance

We are just days away from the Republican National Convention. Next week, the corporate elite will descend on Cleveland, Ohio, to presumably nominate a candidate whose life’s work is stealing from others to build wealth for himself. By naming Donald Trump as their choice, they are endorsing a candidate who built his campaign by stoking hate and fear, and insulting immigrants, Latinos, Muslims, African Americans, people with disabilities, LGBTQ people and women. And with Trump’s rumored choice of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, he is doubling down on his agenda of hate. Pence’s best-known achievement is the signing of an anti-LGBTQ bill that made his state the target of boycotts and late-night comedians’ jokes. Really, it’s hard to think of anyone that Trump and Pence haven’t insulted.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Burning Issues: The Occupation of Palestine

Palestinians are in for “another difficult four years” as a result of the weakness of the Democratic Party platform’s statement on the conflict between Israel and Palestine, says Jim Zogby, the president of the Arab American Institute and a Bernie Sanders delegate appointed to the Democratic Party platform committee, in this Burning Issues video. The platform language in some respects is an improvement over previous platform statements, Zogby says, “but you can’t call for two states and not talk about the problems that inhibit [the establishment of] two states,” including the Israel occupation of Palestinian territory. “If you can’t criticize Israel, you are never going to break the logjam to move this forward,” Zogby said.

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Jeff Bryant

Sanders Supporters Push Party Platform Into A Fight Over Charter Schools

Earlier this week my colleague Richard Eskow reported on the impact the populist progressive movement led by Bernie Sanders and others is having on the Democratic Party platform to be voted on later this month at the party’s national convention in Philadelphia. Eskow reports that at the Democratic Party Platform Committee meeting in Orlando, where the document underwent the final round of amendments, Sanders supporters “scored some impressive wins” on law enforcement and criminal sentencing reform, climate change and green energy, a living wage, and Social Security expansion.

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Terrance Heath

Three Years After Justice Failed Trayvon Martin

In the three years since George Zimmerman was acquitted in the murder of Trayvon Martin and the Black Live Matter movement was born, so many more have been lost even as so much progress was made. Three years ago today, full of despair, I posted my feelings on my Facebook feed. George Zimmerman had just been acquitted in the murder (yes, murder) of Trayvon Martin. Suddenly, “the Talk”, got a lot harder. Not only did we have to tell our sons that they could be profiled because of the color of their skin, but that they could be killed for the color of their skin, and their murder may walk away a free man. “I am in despair,” I wrote at the end of that post, “because there will be more Trayvon Martins now, and there will be no justice.” The murder of Trayvon Martin had an impact similar to that of Emmett Till.

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Dave Johnson

Is TPP Really Dead? Don’t Bet On It

Recent headlines might make us think the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is “dead” or at least at “death’s door.” We can hope. But the Wall Street, giant multinational corporations, many Republicans in Congress and unfortunately the Obama administration are still pushing hard for a “lame duck” vote after the election. Here are examples of recent headlines claiming TPP is near death: Politico: “How Trump and Clinton teamed up to sink trade.

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Dave Johnson

Enforce The Democratic Platform, and Good Things Will Happen

Some people say that the Democratic Party doesn’t really stand for anything. Sen. Bernie Sanders pushed and pushed as a Democratic presidential candidate, and has achieved results that could change that. The 2016 Democratic Party platform is a very progressive policy outline. It isn’t everything a Sanders supporter would want, but it does have a lot, and it offers an outline for a lot more progress than the country has seen in a very long time. But a lot of critics are saying things like “So what?” “It’s just a piece of paper.” “No one reads it after the convention.” Meanwhile, much of the public believes that politicians only say what they need to say just to get elected and will betray them as soon as they take office. There is a path to fixing this.

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Libero Della Piana

Empathy Alone Won’t Stop Police Killings

President Obama gave yet another historic speech Wednesday at the mass memorial service for the five Dallas police officers gunned down during a protest of the police killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La., and Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minn. In a way few can do, Obama called the country together to reach across the gaping divide that was exposed this week. He summed up the divided understanding many Blacks and whites have about policing and police violence. He suggested reality is more complex than the simple rhetoric we hear in the media and encourage all sides to empathize with the other.

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Terrance Heath

Progressive Activists Deliver Tax Return Petitions To Trump Tower

More than 400,000 Americans signed a petition calling on Donald Trump to release his tax returns. On Tuesday, progressive activists delivered those signatures to Trump Tower. Progressive activists showed up at Donald Trump’s doorstep on Tuesday with a simple demand for Trump: Release your tax returns. It’s a pretty simple request, and not all that unusual. For the last 40 years, every major presidential nominee has done it. In 2012, Trump even went on Fox News to prod Mitt Romney to release his returns, saying “Mitt has to get this returns out.” Hillary Clinton released forms for every year going back to 1977 — 39 years.

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Bill Scher

Donald Trump Is Wrong. Crime Is Down. Way Down.

Directly lifting from Richard Nixon’s 1968 campaign, Donald Trump has declared himself the “law and order” candidate. At a Virginia rally Monday he said, “American police and law enforcement are all that separate civilization from total chaos and the destruction of our country as we know it.” On Tuesday he tweeted, “Crime is out of control, and rapidly getting worse.” Painting a picture of an America drowning in crime-fueled anarchy serves to rationalize incidents of racial bias in policing. While Trump has not defended the actions of the police offers in the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, he has spent more time in their aftermath talking about the need to support police officers in an age of rampant crime, and no time on proposals for police reform. But Trump’s picture is a false one. Crime is down. Way down.

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Richard Eskow

Eric Holder’s Justice

Eric Holder certainly has changed since his days at Columbia University. According to the New York Times, “as a boyish-looking freshman” he “was recruited by upperclassmen to help take over the R.O.T.C. office,” which they claimed as “a student center named for Malcolm X.” Actions like that, and heroes like Malcolm X, reflected the idealism that many of us shared in those days. As attorney general, Holder chose not to prosecute banking giant HSBC for laundering Mexican drug cartel money. Holder, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, and other Obama Justice Department officials showed similar favoritism to other big banks. In fact, not a single big-bank executive was prosecuted during their tenure, despite the most massive and well-documented epidemic of financial fraud in American history.

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Robert Borosage

The Sanders Endorsement and the Political Revolution

Even as Bernie Sanders was endorsing Hillary Clinton Tuesday in New Hampshire, expressions of dismay and outrage from his supporters flooded social media. Naturally, Donald Trump piled on, tweeting that Bernie Sanders “has totally sold out to corrupt Hillary Clinton,” and that his supporters are “not happy that he is selling out.” Those gathering under #selloutsanders are, of course, a small minority of activists. Polls show that 85 percent of Sanders voters are ready to support Hillary Clinton, and that number will surely grow when the Democratic Convention launches her formal candidacy. But the sentiment is real. The Sanders insurgency was fueled by a revolt against the big-money politics that Clinton personifies.

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Burning Issues Video

Burning Issues: The Militarization of Foreign Aid

The shift in foreign aid spending from the State Department to the Defense Department since 9/11 has created significant problems for U.S. diplomacy and peacemaking, says Colby Goodman of the Center for International Policy in this Burning Issues video. “The amount of money the Defense Department is providing surpassed the State Department years ago,” Goodman says. The result has been increasing incidents in which the weaponry and military training that the U.S. has provided to other countries has either been used against the U.S. or used to support human rights violations in their own countries. Both presidential candidates – Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump – have shown signs they are likely to continue this trend, Goodman says.

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Linda Burnham

Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, Dallas

A thick strand in the history of U.S. policing is rooted back in the slave patrols of the 19th century. Patty rollers were authorized to stop, question, search, harass and summarily punish any Black person they encountered. The five- and six-pointed badges many of them wore to symbolize their authority were predecessors to those of today’s sheriffs and patrolmen. They regularly entered the plantation living quarters of enslaved people, leaving terror and grief in their wake. Together with the hunters of runaways, these patrols had a crystal clear mandate: to constrain the enslaved population to its role as the embodiment and producer of massive wealth for whites and to forestall the possibility that labor subordinated to the lash might rebel at the cost of white lives.

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Dave Johnson

Republican Platform Tricks On Trade

The draft of the Republican platform at first glance sounds pretty good when it comes to trade. So how do they thread the needle between assumed-candidate Donald Trump’s words on trade and most of the party’s – and Trump’s own – actual positions? Those positions entirely support the interests of billionaires and the giant multinational corporations at the expense of 99 percent of us. Their Words Always Sound Good Words vs. deeds. “Watch what we do, not what we say” has been the Republican advice to insiders, at least since the Nixon era. Republicans are very good at reaching the public with an appealing message, convincing them they understand what people feel, convincing them they will fix problems for them, but then once in office following an agenda that benefits the rich and their corporations – usually at the expense of those voters.

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Terrance Heath

Progressive Groups Announce National Doorstep Convention

On the eve of the Republican National Convention, thousands of progressive volunteers are going door-to-door to counter politics of hate, and build support for economic and racial justice. As Republicans gather to nominate their candidate for president, major progressive organizations will conduct a National Doorstep Convention, on July 15 – 17. Thousands of volunteers in more than 20 states and 29 cities will go door-to-door, to have conversations with voters, urging them to reject the politics of hate sown by Donald Trump and the GOP. Volunteers aim to talk with more than half-a million people over three days. The National Doorstep Convention is part of a multi-racial, nationwide push that includes the Center for Community Change Action, People’s Action, MoveOn.org, and scores of state-based groups.

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