Leo Gerard

Protect the Workers Who Save Our Lives

Working in a hospital, nursing home or ambulance is dangerous. Sometimes fatally so. It’s not so much that a worker might catch a communicable disease, although that happens. The real danger comes from violent patients, volatile family members and sometimes even vengeful co-workers. Last June, Dr. Henry Bellow, 45, a New York City physician who had been forced to resign, returned to the facility with an assault rifle and opened fire, killing a doctor and injuring five other health care workers and a patient. A month later, after Indiana physician Todd Graham refused to prescribe opioids to a female patient, her husband laid in wait for the doctor and shot him to death in a medical center parking lot. Honor the Fallen These slain health care workers were honored on Workers Memorial Day, which is Saturday, April 28.

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Daniel Doubet

We Must Stop the Assembly Line of Conservative Judges

“Reining in the activist judges is an enormous job, but the American people are up to the task,” says Carrie Serevino, the former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who now heads the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN). The JCN is a right-wing lobby that demonstrably creates judicial crises by spending millions to support arch-conservative nominees to the bench, and undermines more moderate candidates. The JCN successfully lobbied to block President Obama’s nomination to the Supreme Court of Merrick Garland, a highly regarded Appeals Court chief judge, then pledged $10 million to support Donald Trump’s nominee, Neil Gorsuch. Gorsuch got his lifetime appointment to the highest court last April. The Real Judicial Activists It may surprise Severino that we actually agree with her about activist judges.

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Richard Eskow

Pyrrhic Party: The Democratic Establishment’s War on Progressives

By supporting corporate-friendly candidates and policies, Congressional Democratic leaders are be moving closer and closer toward open warfare with their party’s base. There is a real need to raise money, of course. But the party’s leaders have chosen to raise and spend money in ways that conflict with voters and render it all but ineffective as a force for much-needed change. Under the best-case scenario, the party’s establishment is heading toward a Pyrrhic victory.  And other, grimmer scenarios are possible. Democrat vs.

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Jeff Bryant

Kentucky Teachers’ Walkout Catalyzes More Advocacy

Headlines about teachers’ strikes may have moved on from Kentucky and Oklahoma to Arizona and Colorado, but the uprisings these wildcat teachers started have not, according to numerous sources I’ve spoken with in Louisville – Kentucky’s largest school district, with over 100,000 students. Photo credit: WVEA / CC Kentucky is where teachers staged widespread “sick-outs” to protest state lawmakers’ handling of pension reform and school funding. After teachers won record new spending for public education in the state and then pushed legislators to override the governor’s veto of the bill, there were still plenty of vows from teachers to “keep fighting” for a permanent pension fix and more new revenue sources for schools.

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Xoai Pham

Shareholders Join Activists to Say ‘Time’s Up, Wells Fargo!’

Time’s up, Wells Fargo! It’s time for an end to profits from shady lending, supporting the gun lobby and fossil fuels, trampling the rights of Native communities, unsuspecting borrowers and the environment.   I was one of the hundreds of organizers who traveled to Des Moines, Iowa from all across the country to deliver this message to the bank’s executives at their annual shareholders’ meeting. The protest, led by People’s Action, brought together activists from all walks of life and partner organizations, including the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the Sierra Club and the Action Center on Race & the Economy (ACRE).

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Tara Raghuveer, Liz Ryan Murray

HUD’s Carson Offers Tenants Insults, Not Solutions

75 low-and moderate-income tenants and manufactured homeowners repeatedly disrupted Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson at a speech in Las Vegas on Wednesday, asking, “where will we go?” Carson’s response? Instead of offering solutions, he insulted poor tenants, saying “This is a perfect example of what happens when the swamp gets ahold of people.” The disruption took place on the same day as Secretary Carson announced that HUD wants the poor to pay higher rents for public housing, not receive credit for health and child care, and meet work requirements to keep their units. Carson’s proposals triple the rent for people on housing assistance and require that residents make the money to pay rent by at least 15 hours of work at the federal minimum wage level.

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Robert Borosage

How to Build a Progressive Populist Movement From the Ground Up

Can a progressive populist movement be built in the rural areas and small towns that Donald Trump dominated in 2016? On Tuesday, People’s Action – one of the largest multiracial, people’s organizations in the country with 48 member organizations in 30 states – launched a major initiative to do just that. Instead of writing off red counties in rural and small town America, the project aims to challenge Trump’s fake right-wing populism with a progressive populist movement built from the bottom up. Their Rural and Small Town Organizing Strategy will target 72 counties in 10 states across the heartland and the south. The counties include 28 “pivot” counties that voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 and then went to Trump in 2016. They are in key swing states like Wisconsin, Iowa, and North Carolina.

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Richard Eskow

Democrats Who Vote For Pompeo Will Disgrace Themselves and Their Party

Imagine a nominee for Secretary of State who is so bigoted that he once accused Christian organizations and houses of worship of remaining silent about crimes committed in the name of Christianity by groups like the far-right Army of God or the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army of Joseph Kony. Imagine that this nominee said that the “silence… from the best-funded Christian advocacy organizations and many churches across America is absolutely deafening,” that it “casts doubt upon … adherents of the Christian faith,” and that it made Christian leaders “potentially complicit” in acts of terror like the murder of an abortion doctor or the bombing of a clinic. Or, imagine that his targets are Jewish groups. Picture him saying, “There are organizations and networks here in the United States tied to radical Judaism in deep and fundamental ways.

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Robert Borosage

Tell Congress: Curb the President’s War Powers

This week, the Senate will decide whether to confirm CIA Director Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State. Pompeo is a key figure in Trump’s new war cabinet, along with National Security Advisor John Bolton and Gina Haspel, who he wants to take Pompeo’s place the CIA. The Senate is also likely to move towards a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUFM), which grants congressional authority to expand the global war on terror. What remains to be seen is whether Congress will finally curb presidential war making. Unrestrained Power This president – like his predecessors – claims the right to make war unilaterally, unrestrained by international law or the Constitution. The recent U.S. missile attack on Syria to punish the Assad regime for an alleged use of chemical weapons on civilians reveals the scope of presidential contempt for the law.

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Sam Pizzigati

The Fake Frugality of the Fabulously Rich

The Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, a prime American source for advice on all matters money related, has just published a piece fetchingly entitled “Frugal Habits of the Super Rich.” The piece graciously invites readers to meet ten people of substantial means “whose modest lifestyle habits — from clipping coupons to clipping their own hair — has helped them maintain vast fortunes.” The spending discipline the 10 all model, Kiplinger’s promises, can help the rest of us “learn more about the cost-cutting moves that help make these successful millionaires and billionaires who they are.” Kiplinger’s has actually been promoting frugality as a freeway to grand fortune for some time now.

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Jeff Bryant

Arizona’s Uprising Teachers Build Bridges, Not Walls

We can add Arizona to the ever-growing list of states where teachers are saying “enough” to state-imposed financial austerity, and walking off the job to protest years of pay cuts, inadequate school resources, and stressful working conditions. Under the banner of #RedForEd, Arizona teachers voted overwhelmingly (78%) for a statewide walkout – the first in the state’s history – starting April 26, rejecting a bogus offer of a 20 percent pay increase made by the governor to stave off the walkout. Like teacher actions in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma, the Arizona walkout is a wildcat strike in a Republican-dominated, “right to work” state, which makes the action essentially illegal. Also, as in other states, Arizona has seen massive cutbacks to education funding and teacher pay.

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Chuck Tyler

Why We Must Save the VA for Veterans

As a ten-year U.S. Army combat veteran, I’ve felt my share of aches and pains following my service to my country. And I know firsthand how the Veterans Administration uniquely cares for returning war-fighters. That’s why I’m alarmed by the talk about privatizing VA healthcare, and I want to explain how this would be harmful to veterans like me. Why the VA Matters The VA provides care to over 9 million Veterans at 1,240 health care facilities, including 170 VA Medical Centers and 1,061 outpatient clinics. Its roots stretch back to Abraham Lincoln’s call to care for those who have “borne the battle,” and it has been offering community care to veterans since World War II. As the VA has grown, it has tailored itself to meet the challenges faced by veterans with any type of complications caused by combat. The history of the VA shows that they understand the needs of veterans.

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Jeff Bryant

Why Teacher Uprisings May Hit Blue States Too

Surprising results from a new survey of teachers reveal the depth of “financial strain” classroom professionals face. These include high levels of college debt, stagnation of already subpar pay, increasing housing and childcare costs, rising health insurance premiums and prescription costs, and escalating out-of-pocket expenses for their own classroom supplies. More than half of the respondents resorted to second jobs to try to close the gap between what their teaching jobs paid versus their actual cost of living. The revelation teachers are financially struggling wasn’t what was surprising about the survey.

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Richard Eskow

We Need a Housing Revolution Now

Here’s an experiment: If you’re not downtown as you read this, go there now and find some homeless people. They probably won’t be hard to find. Now, look at their faces. If you can’t get downtown, look at their photographs online. Photo credit: Pexels / Pixabay Now, imagine these same faces – just the faces – without anything to tell you that they’re homeless. They’re not that different than anyone else, are they?  Still, you may notice some differences. There may be more signs of ill health than you would find in a random sampling. There will definitely be more people of color. Housing Apartheid Homeless people are, in fact, nearly four times more likely to be African American. They are eight times as likely to be Native American. Half a century ago, the United States committed itself to housing justice. We’re not even close.

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Sam Pizzigati

Why Should We Tax the Rich?

The orthodoxy that dominates today’s Republican Party — and the ranks of “business-friendly” Democrats — rests on a simple approach to economic policy. Let’s be nice, this orthodoxy holds, to rich people. Let’s be particularly nice at tax time. Let’s keep taxes on rich people, conservatives advise us, as low as possible. High taxes on high incomes, they argue, discourage entrepreneurship. No one with a great idea for a new business enterprise is going to start that business, their argument goes, if Uncle Sam is just going to tax away the rewards that a new business could bring. And the same goes for investors. They’re not going to invest in “job-creating” enterprises, the conservative orthodoxy insists, if high taxes threaten to eat away at their potential earnings.

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Jake Jacobs

Cynthia Nixon Could Take Down Andrew Cuomo Over Education

Should a state with extreme wealth and extreme poverty use public education to even the playing field so all children have an opportunity to improve their conditions? Many New Yorkers would answer that question, “Yes,” and the state’s constitution as interpreted by an appellate court promised a “sound basic education” to all public school students. For decades, however, the rich and powerful have blocked funding to needy schools. The state’s current Governor, Andrew Cuomo, has been long accused of blocking fair funding for education as he stakes out a “centrist” position that could help raise funds for a potential 2020 presidential run. Last week, New York lawmakers finalized the state’s latest budget package, underfunding the state’s neediest school districts for yet another year.

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Alexandra Moore

North Carolina’s Public Reckoning of CIA Torture

President Donald Trump’s nominee for CIA director, Gina Haspel, is reported to have overseen a U.S. site in Thailand where torture of a suspected terrorist took place. Later she allegedly helped destroy evidence of torture. Her nomination, pending congressional approval, is viewed by many as further evidence of this administration’s support of torture and an undoing of Obama-era efforts to end it. Her work was allegedly part of a program the CIA launched after 9/11 called Rendition, Detention and Interrogation. From 2002 to at least 2006, the CIA orchestrated disappearances, torture and indefinite detention without charge of suspected terrorists.

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Richard Eskow

7 Questions About the Syria Airstrikes That Aren’t Being Asked

“Mission accomplished,” says the President. What, exactly, was the mission? And what exactly was accomplished? Donald Trump is being mocked for using this phrase in a tweet to praise what he claims was a “perfectly executed” airstrike against chemical weapons facilities in Syria. This recalls George W. Bush’s egregious evocation of the phrase in 2003 to claim an early end to the U.S. entanglement in Iraq, which is still ongoing fifteen years later. History made a fool of Bush for that proclamation, which was printed on a banner behind the President as he delivered his speech proclaiming an end to the Iraqi conflict on the deck of an aircraft carrier. But Bush’s foolish and lethal incursion to Iraq had the backing of virtually the entire national-security establishment. So did Donald Trump’s bombing attack on Syria, as did the bombing attack he ordered last year.

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Robert Borosage

The Real Deal on Trump’s Trade Tantrums

“Trade wars are good, and easy to win,” tweeted Donald Trump when he threatened to slap tariffs on China and other nations he accused of “assaulting our country” last month. Stock traders were spooked as China promised to retaliate. Commentators across the political spectrum warned of job losses, price increases, economic peril, and trade wars. Progressives like Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren showed more sense, praising Trump for challenging China’s mercantilist policies, as did Conor Lamb, the surprise Democratic victor in the House special election in Pennsylvania. Just because Trump denounces our “lousy trade deals” doesn’t mean Democrats have to defend them. In fact, a majority of House Democrats has led the opposition to our corporate trade policies. Democrats torpedoed Obama’s Trans Pacific Partnership, long before Trump became president.

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Leo Gerard

GOP Claims Tax Fraud Will ‘Pay for Itself’

Remember the Republicans’ claim last year that their $1.5 trillion tax scam, slashing rates for the rich and corporations would magically pay for itself? Here is how that works: a rich guy walks into a Mercedes-Benz dealership, gets behind the wheel of a $112,400 GP Coupe, and drives away yelling to the salesman, “Don’t worry. It’ll pay for itself.” It’s nothing but a fraud. Well, that’s what the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said this week, anyway. Without blatantly labeling the GOP tax cut as a con, the CBO did say that it would in no way, not ever pay for itself. It would, the CBO warned, dramatically raise the national budget deficit, year after year, for at least a decade. Republicans, the party of public hand wringing over deficits, deliberately created this gob-smackingly huge one. Privately, Republicans are the party of glee over deficits.

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