Bill Moyers

Ask Yourself: Will Donald Trump EVER Become President?

It’s been a week now since Donald Trump once again became our president. Here’s how it happened. After he unleashed missiles on a Syrian airfield, members of Washington’s national security establishment and elite pundits swooned. Top Democrats and Republicans led the way. Good soldiers all in the military-industrial-political complex, they stood smartly at attention and saluted the commander-in-chief for sending a message to the world, although exactly what the message meant remains far from clear.

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Libero Della Piana

LeBlanc & Kauffman on Grassroots Goals in the Digital Age

The digital era offers exciting new ways to empower and mobilize ordinary people to work together at the grassroots for change. Yet digital tools are no panacea, and can even pose serious problems for organizers if not used wisely. The annual Organizing 2.0 conference offers digitally-minded organizers, fundraisers and strategists an opportunity to compare notes, learn how to effectively use digital tools to strengthen on-the-ground efforts, and plan for the future. This year’s conference, sponsored by The Murphy Institute for Worker Education (CUNY), New York State AFL-CIO, New York City Central Labor Council, and the New York Civic Engagement Table, drew participants from across the country to New York April 7 and 8 for hands-on workshops and trainings as well as panels and plenaries on pressing issues for trade unions and progressive nonprofits using digital tools.

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Dave Johnson

Trump’s Goldman Sachs Vampire Squid Presidency

The things that come out of President Trump’s mouth seem to depend on who he talks to or what he sees on TV in the minutes immediately preceding his mouth motion. Based on his recent switchbacks, Trump has been spending a LOT of time talking to the alums of Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs who now form his inner circle. “Changed His Tone” Trump has reversed himself on policy after policy, sometimes days or even hours after reaffirming positions he then reversed. The New York Times describes this phenomenon: But Mr. Trump has changed his tone and backtracked on pledges and policies he supported days earlier. The shift suggests that the moderate financiers of Wall Street brought to the White House are eclipsing the populists led by Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s chief political strategist.

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Jeff Bryant

Erie Pennsylvania’s Schools Are a Canary in the Coal Mine of Education

Jay Badams has reached the limits of his patience. As superintendent of Erie, Pennsylvania schools since 2009, he’s dealt with the chronic underfunding of his schools for years. Every year, he and his staff grapple with ever more painful budget cuts. He and his staff are sick and tired of meetings on what to cut next. Should it be libraries? Athletics? Art and music programs? His repeated appeals to state lawmakers to come to Erie’s rescue have had little effect. When Badams and his colleagues calculated the district’s budget this past spring, they found that closing four of the district’s high schools could save two to three million dollars. But the decision to consider closing Erie public high schools is more of an “ethical decision” rather than just about the dollars and cents, Badams tells me in a phone conversation.

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Lois Gibbs

Tax Reform Should Begin With Making Polluters Pay

As we begin our national conversation about tax reform, why don’t we start with low-hanging fruit – the things we can all agree are right? Why not reinstate the Superfund tax, which used to make polluters pay to clean up their own mess? By reinstating this “Polluter Pays” tax, American citizens will save literally billions of dollars. There is no need for a new law, big debates or much else. All Congress needs to do is simply reinstate this law, which lapsed at the end of 1995. Everything is already in place, and it’s proven to be an effective way to clean up toxic wastes as well as protect public health and the environment. I am sometimes called the “Mother of Superfund,” as I led the successful effort to relocate over 800 families, including my own, away from the Love Canal toxic waste dump where we lived in Niagara Falls, NY.

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Sam Pizzigati

It’s Time to Rein In the Gravy Train for Airline Execs

Those of us on the shady side of sixty can remember when ordinary people could actually enjoy traveling on an airplane. There were meals on all but short-hop flights. Comfortable seats with ample legroom. Plenty of space to stow your bags, since flights seldom took off much more than three-quarters full. On cross-country trips, flight attendants on United used to hand out menus that proudly proclaimed the meal choices that even coach passengers could make. United’s immediate past CEO, Jeff Smisek, had to step down after getting implicated in a federal corruption probe. United didn’t drag him out. The airline handed him $37 million instead. Credit: Shutterstock. We lucky travelers owed that golden age to regulation. Before 1978, airlines operated like electrical utilities.

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Jeff Bryant

During Resistance Recess, Join The Fight For Public Schools

In this season of resistance, there’s no issue more imperative to your community than the fight for public education. While Congress is in recess, until April 23, you’ve got the opportunity – and a brand new advocacy tool from the Network for Public Education – to inform your local Congressional representatives about the assault on public education and persuade progressives in your community to join in your cause. Why should you care? Whether you have school-age children or not, you have a lot at stake in the struggle to ensure public schools continue to benefit the public. Public education is America’s most collaborative endeavor by far. We all pay taxes to support public schools. Schools are community anchors like main streets, town halls, public parks, churches, and community centers.

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Richard Eskow

Trump’s Budget Director Declares Class War on the American People

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney has issued a declaration of class war against the American people. His words may have sounded wonkish or technical, but underneath the coded language, Mulvaney was expressing Republicans’ extreme ideas with unusual directness. The Interview In an interview with CNBC’s John Harwood, Mulvaney was asked about Trump’s stated intention to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure spending. (Trump won’t. He will almost certainly propose far less, offer tax breaks to corporations and billionaires, sell off public resources, and then claim the total adds up to $1 trillion.) “Will Republicans be comfortable with adding to the deficit to pay for a trillion dollars in infrastructure?” Harwood asked. Mulvaney’s response began this way: “Bad spending to me in terms of its economic benefit would be wealth transfer payments.

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Robert Borosage

Democrats Shouldn’t Be Trying to Banish Tulsi Gabbard

Donald Trump’s feverish tweeting appears to be contagious. Amid a chorus of praise for the administration’s cruise missile strike on a Syrian airbase last week, Neera Tanden, the head of the Center for American Progress, dashed off a tweet calling on voters in Hawaii to oust Democratic Representative Tulsi Gabbard for expressing skepticism about the Syrian government’s responsibility for the chemical attack that provoked the U.S. military strikes. Former presidential candidate and former Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean piled on, and tweeted that Gabbard’s comments were a “disgrace” and that she “should not be in the Congress.” Gabbard had good reason to ask for proof. By his own account, Trump struck rapidly after seeing gruesome televised pictures of dying babies.

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Richard Eskow

The Secret Republican History of Sean Spicer’s Holocaust, in 7 Steps

It’s possible to get carried away with outrage. Sometimes people mean to say relatively innocent things and they come out sounding wrong. Politics doesn’t need to become an indignation factory, and not every Republican gaffe is a sign of incipient fascism. But Sean Spicer’s Holocaust comments are important, not just for their shock value – for their sheer, breathtaking WTF-ness – but for what they tell us about the architecture of the modern Republican mind. “I should have stayed on topic,” Spicer lamented later to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. Fair enough. But these remarks were more than just a digression. Spicer reflects his entire party, not just himself or the man for whom he works. And his most disturbing words – the passing phrases that revealed so much – got less attention than they deserved. 1.

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Dave Johnson

Deplaning of United Passenger Shows Why We Need Corporate Regulation

In a democracy, We the People are in charge. We are the boss of the corporations. At least that’s how it’s supposed to work. Apparently, that isn’t so much the way it is anymore. The United States used to regulate corporations to protect people from concentrated power. Now concentrated power has taken over our government, which fights the people for the benefit of corporate profits. Or, to paraphrase John Kenneth Galbraith: In democracy, We the People regulate corporations. In deregulated America it’s the other way around. The Face Of Deregulation This is what can happen to you now in the United States if you get in the way of something a corporation wants: We’ve all seen the videos. A guy gets beaten and dragged from his paid seat on a United Airlines flight because, in essence, he was interfering with corporate profits just by being in the seat.

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Jill Richardson

Trump’s Budget: Feeding One Kid, Starving the Family

Imagine a parent who starves his children and fails to do any number of basic parental duties, but then buys one of his kids a healthy meal. Well, that’s good. Great, really. But it’s not enough. An act of goodness directed at one child cannot feed an entire starving family. That’s essentially what Trump has done by donating his first paycheck, $78,333, to the National Park Service. Photo credit: Jill Richardson/Flickr Don’t get me wrong. Our national parks sorely need the money, and I believe this might be the very first thing Trump has ever done that I approve of. But consider the bigger picture. The National Park Service is one starving child among many. Trump’s paycheck will go to maintain our nation’s historic battlefields, and they alone are $229 million behind in overdue maintenance.

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Sarah Warner

Our Fight for Health Care During Recess and Beyond

It’s time to ramp up our resistance to the Trump-Ryan agenda on health care. We scored our biggest legislative victory so far on March 24, when Speaker Paul Ryan called off his bid to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), because he didn’t have the votes. This was an inspiring, hard-fought win for everyone who believes health care is for all. But Republican leaders in Congress are still gunning for our health care; their radical plans for our economy leave them no choice. Without gutting healthcare and other essential economic benefits, how else will they pay for the massive tax giveaway for corporations and billionaires that they’ve set their sights on? During Resistance Recess, now until April 23, as lawmakers visit their home districts, we will let them know we’re still fighting to make sure everyone in the country gets the care they need.

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Mark Trahant

The New Deal for Tribes: Resource Extraction & Toxic Waste, Minus Jobs

No coal here. The Native Village of Tyonek, Alaska, celebrated the suspension of a nearby coal project by PacRim Coal. The tribal community is located some 45 miles west of Anchorage. PacRim estimated the project to include some 242 million tons of coal. Trahant file photo   A couple of years ago, a tribal leader showed me an abandoned lumber mill near the village of Tyonek. The company promised jobs. And, for a time, for a couple of decades, there were those jobs. But after the resource was consumed, the mill closed, the company disappeared, and the shell of the enterprise remains today. This same story could be told in tribal communities across North America. Sometimes the resource was timber. Other times gas and oil. Or coal. The lucky communities were left with a small toxic dump site. More often, there was major cleanup work required after (plus a few more jobs).

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Sam Pizzigati

Enormous Wealth and the Quest for Eternal Life

How many registered nurses fantasize about living forever? Probably not many. How many math teachers daydream about immortality? Probably not many there either. Traffic cops? Bartenders? Civil engineers? All likely the same story. Emerging new research on busting the bounds of our biology, warns historian Yuval Harari, could “lead to greater income inequality than ever before.” We have no evidence that any economic grouping in our society sports a significant number of folks who obsess over eternal life. With one exception. The ranks of the awesomely affluent, a new piece of New Yorker reporting details, include a growing cohort of those who believe we can “choose to make death optional.” In Silicon Valley, the epicenter of high-tech wealth, these “immortalists” are putting their money where they want their future to be.

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Dave Johnson

Did Trump Attack Syria for Personal Profit?

At any other time, this (fill in the blank) would be the scandal of the decade. Now, with Donald Trump as president, we call it Monday. Thursday evening, Trump attacked Syria, a sovereign country, with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles. This act of war was done without Congressional authorization, even after Trump’s August, 2013, tweet that “Obama needs Congressional approval” before attacking Syria in nearly identical circumstances. The following morning, headlines like this one appeared in the business press: Raytheon, maker of Tomahawk missiles, leads premarket rally in defense stocks: Defense and energy stocks dominated the list of premarket gainers on the S&P 500 Friday, led by Tomahawk missile-maker Raytheon Corp., after U.S. missile strikes against a Syrian air base overnight. Donald Trump apparently owns Raytheon stock.

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Dave Johnson

The Trump Economy Myth and Job-Killing Policies

Making America Great Again; every time a U.S. company hires a hundred people, or even a dozen, President Trump’s support network blasts out the message that this is what he’s doing. Now they’re crowing that unemployment fell to 4.5 percent in March, even though many say this number underrepresents how many people are actually out of work. Only 98,000 jobs were actually gained in the month, about half of what economists had expected. And even if these new jobs are something to crow about, it’s not as if they have anything to do with Trump. Propaganda is one thing, but Trump’s actual policies will hurt job and wage growth once they kick in.

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Robert Borosage

Trump’s Syria Strike Displays Arrogance, Not Toughness

The bombing of Syria is the most irresponsible act of Donald Trump’s circus presidency – yet it enjoys the greatest applause from the foreign policy and political establishment. Trump is doing what Obama refused to do – bombing a sovereign nation in response to a humanitarian horror, purportedly committed by the Assad government. Obama refused to retaliate after the Assad government was accused of crossing his “red line” and using chemical weapons on his own people. Obama couldn’t understand how a retaliatory strike would produce any result. Instead, his administration joined with Vladimir Putin to negotiate the dismantling of the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal. Our foreign policy establishment has condemned him to this day for his alleged “weakness.” Trump’s bellicosity is likely to prove the wisdom of Obama’s restraint.

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Robert Borosage

Don’t Let Trump’s Bedlam Distract from Betrayals

In his first 70 days in office, President Donald Trump is shedding his most popular populist economic promises with the ease of a confidence man. The “chaos candidate,” as Jeb Bush dubbed him, presented himself as a populist champion who would clean out Washington. As Stan Greenberg affirmed in his focus groups, many of his voters doubted Trump had the experience or the temperament to be president, but wanted to shake things up. Even those put off by his racism and sexism were attracted by his promises on jobs and trade, his scorn for Wall Street and corrupt politicians, his pledge to “clean the swamp.” As president, he’s promised repeatedly an administration that would put the “forgotten working men and women” first. That was then.

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Ken Grossinger

Gorsuch Wrong for Colorado’s Working Families

From Colorado’s legal elites, we’ve been hearing praise in the media for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. But for the majority of Coloradans — and Americans — who are everyday working people, Judge Gorsuch’s record bodes ill. I recognize that Sen. Cory Gardner has expressed support for Judge Gorsuch, while Sen. Michael Bennet has yet to express his view. But I urge both to look beyond the savvy publicity campaign promoting Judge Gorsuch and to examine his record, because there is still time before both must vote on Gorsuch’s nomination. The reality is that throughout his career, Judge Gorsuch has shown a pattern of siding in favor of employers, wealthy corporations and Wall Street — against working families in Colorado and around the country. I urge Senators to learn about the cases of Alphonse Maddin, Compass Environmental, Inc.

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