Op-Eds

The Rise of Pennsylvania’s Racist Right is a Warning to the Nation

by Daniel Doubet – State Senator Scott Wagner, the waste treatment millionaire who wants to become Pennsylvania’s next governor, derides left-leaning donor George Soros as a “Hungarian Jew” who harbors “hatred for America.” Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Dave Reed used campaign funds to pay for his membership in the “Indiana Armstrong Patriots,” a Tea Party group in western PA that defended Neo-Nazis when they attacked counter-protesters in Charlottesville. When Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R), who claims the state is under attack by “illegal aliens,” invited avowed White Nationalist Bob Vandervoort to testify in favor of making English the state’s official language, he defended Vandervoort’s racialized views. “To say somebody is a nationalist and for the independence of their country and a patriot to defending their country, is a lot different from saying somebody is a racist,” Metcalfe said. Congressman Lou Barletta (R), who built his career on xenophobia and unconstitutional...

Read More...


Bowe Bergdahl: Traitor to American Exceptionalism and White Supremacy

by Matthew Hoh – “There is no forgiveness in this loudly and righteously proclaimed Christian nation, only the scapegoating of a young man and his family for the failures of immoral and unwinnable wars.” Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl’s guilty plea begins the end of this phase of an embarrassing, sad and morally absurd saga of American history. Sergeant Bergdahl, who was dismissed from the Coast Guard because of mental illness, recruited into the Army in spite of such issues, and then sent to the frontlines of Afghanistan where he walked away from his base and was captured, kept as a prisoner, and tortured by the Taliban for nearly five years, has been offered almost no compassion, sympathy or forgiveness by large swaths of the American public, political classes, veterans and the media. The shameful blood-crazed calls for vengeance against Sergeant Bergdahl, screamed across Fox News, talk radio and Twitter, by millions of Right Wing...

Read More...


Federal Judge Halts the Third Version of Trump’s Muslim Ban

by Ian Millhiser – Turns out, banning Muslims isn’t a thing that a president can do. President Donald Trump has now revised his Muslim ban twice, both times in efforts to rescue the ban from court decisions halting at least some of its provisions. On Tuesday, however, a federal judge held that Trump’s latest efforts are not good enough. According to Judge Derrick Watson’s opinion in Hawaii v. Trump, the latest round of changes to Trump’s ban are not significant enough to rescue it from the same legal attacks that placed the previous version of the ban in legal jeopardy. Watson handed down a temporary order on halting the ban. This round of litigation concerns the provisions of the ban restricting citizens of certain nations from entering the United States. Though the Supreme Court has not fully considered any version of these provisions on the merits, it handed down a temporary order...

Read More...


Administration Unveils the ‘Fetal 14th Amendment’

by Jon Perr – While most eyes this week were on the carnage in Las Vegas, the catastrophe in Puerto Rico, or the dangerous provocations towards Pyongyang and Tehran, the Trump administration was hard at work deconstructing the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. While that bulwark of American civil rights promises “due process of law” and “equal protection of the laws” to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” Donald Trump has declared that some persons are more equal than others. For starters, two years after Justice Kennedy ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that the constitutionally-protected right to marry extends to LGBTQ Americans, Attorney General Jeff Sessions began turning back the clock at the Justice Department. DOJ’s “Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty” signaled that the faith-based sensitivities of some religious people should literally trump the marriage rights, workplace protections, and other 14th Amendment guarantees for gay and lesbian Americans. By signing an...

Read More...


‘Wake-Up Call for Progressives’ as Far Right Surges in Austrian Elections

by Andrea Germanos – Far-right party head feels “vindicated by the fact that way more than 55 percent” of voters chose its platform. Preliminary results from Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Austria point towards a 31-year-old immigration hardliner becoming the country’s next leader and his conservative party forming a coalition with the neo-Nazi linked Freedom Party. Millennial Sebastian Kurz’s People’s Party (OVP)—which he’s moved further to the right—took in 31.6 percent of the vote, while the Social Democrats and the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) each received about 26 percent of the vote. Newsweek writes that Kurz “achieved electoral success partly by adopting some of the Freedom Party’s positioning on” immigration. That fact was noted by FPO head Heinz-Christian Strache. “I’m feeling somewhat vindicated by the fact that way more than 55 percent have voted for the Freedom Party’s platform, because big parts of our program were copied by other parties,” he said on a television panel....

Read More...


Why the 25th Amendment Won’t Save Us

by William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed – Well I don’t know, but I been told If the horse don’t pull you got to carry the load I don’t know who’s back’s that strong Maybe find out before too long One way or another One way or another One way or another This darkness got to give … — Robert Hunter This may only be a minor accent in the vast symphony of outrage we are confronted with on a daily basis, but it is worthy of note. You are aware, I’m sure, of the ongoing shouting match Donald Trump is having with the NFL over players standing for the national anthem. Well, Trump found himself last week at the Air National Guard Base in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with Fox fiend Sean Hannity. By tradition, “Retreat” was bugled on the base as the flag was lowered for the day. The same...

Read More...


Trump’s Speech Against Iran Deal a National Disgrace

by Trita Parsi – The most insulting of Trump’s lies was when he sought to pass himself off as a champion of the Iranian people. Trump’s speech today was a national disgrace. This isn’t an effort to stiff a contractor over a real estate project, it’s a matter of war and peace. Donald Trump is in way over his head.   Contrary to the reporting, Donald Trump is killing the deal – not in one move, but in several moves. First, Congress will attempt to kill it through deal-killing legislation from Sen. Tom Cotton. If that is blocked, Trump has vowed to kill it himself. Either way, the deal will get killed by this process triggered by Trump. Cotton’s legislation would seek to unilaterally rewrite the nuclear deal, an unequivocal violation of the agreement. A vote for that bill would be as significant as a vote for the 2002 war with...

Read More...


Trump’s Bullying Backfires – NFL To Take Up Protester’s Cause

by Rmuse – Donald Trump epitomizes incompetence that he attempts to conceal with his big mouth as if bloviating nonstop lies and absurdities will convince Americans he is anything other than a monumental douchebag. When the Oval Office oaf took up the cause of defining patriotism as denying other Americans their Constitutionally guaranteed rights, not only did he reveal his fascist tendencies, he pushed an American institution to declare that they would not join his tyranny against mostly African-American athletes. The fascist Trump was certain he could “force” the NFL to restrict its players’ constitutional rights by running his mouth and calling socially conscious players “sons-of-bitches” and demand they be “thrown off the field.” There were even rumors that next week the NFL was convening a meeting with owners to do as Trump ordered and punish mostly African-American players who are unwilling to forfeit their constitutional rights. However, the only thing Trump running...

Read More...


How the 25th Amendment Became America’s Secret Hope

by Mark Sumner – The amendments at the end of the list rarely get much attention — though your local bar may have an ode to the 21st and the story of how a college sophomore revived and helped pass the 27th amendment in 1992 after it had lain fallow since 1789 is a good one. The amendment is completely worthless, but the trivia is fantastic. However, in the last few days, very high levels of attention have been focused on an Amendment that comes in the middle of those two. At first it sounded like hyperbole, the escalation of a Twitter war. But now it’s clear that Bob Corker’s remarkable New York Times interview—in which the Republican senator described the White House as “adult day care” and warned Trump could start World War III—was an inflection point in the Trump presidency. It brought into the open what several people close to the president have...

Read More...


Donald Trump: The Entertainer

by Neal Gabler – The media continue to view Trump through a political lens when an entertainment lens would be more appropriate. It is becoming increasingly clear that to speak of a “Trump presidency” is a misnomer. There is no presidency, at least not by traditional standards. There is a “Trump show,” and that makes all the difference in the world. I and many others have written about how heavily our president borrows from entertainment: the cooked-up suspense (this week’s “calm before the storm” remark), the high concepts he keeps purveying (“Build a wall!”), the strong-man movie persona attached to the common man appeal, and the psychological underpinnings that tap American’s contrarian anti-elitism, which is a staple of our popular culture. By means of all these things and others, Trump has not only turned the presidency into a B-movie, which would be a remarkable feat unto itself; he has turned it...

Read More...


Why the Republican Tax Plan is More Failed Trickle-down Economics (VIDEO)

by Robert Reich – Trump and conservatives in Congress are planning a big tax cut for millionaires and billionaires. To justify it they’re using the oldest song in their playbook, claiming tax cuts on the rich will trickle down to working families in the form of stronger economic growth. Baloney. Trickle-down economics is a cruel joke. Just look at the evidence: 1. Clinton’s tax increase on the rich hardly stalled the economy. In 1993, Bill Clinton raised taxes on top earners from 31 percent to 39.6 percent. Conservatives predicted economic disaster. Instead, the economy created 23 million jobs and the economy grew for 8 straight years in what was then the longest expansion in history. The federal budget went into surplus. 2. George W. Bush’s big tax cuts for the rich didn’t grow the economy. In 2001and 2003, George W. Bush lowered the top tax rate to 35 percent while also cutting top rates...

Read More...


The Fury of Donald Trump: A Tragedy in Every Act

by Mark Sumner – Donald Trump’s personality consists of one part perceiving every question, disagreement, or joke as a deadly insult that must be avenged. At all costs. Especially cost to others. And one part … no, wait. There’s just one part. In a matter of days, Trump has torched bridges all around him, nearly imploded an informal deal with Democrats to protect young undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children, and plunged himself into the culture wars on issues ranging from birth control to the national anthem. Once upon a time, there was a perception that John Kelly was stepping in to take control of the Trump White House and make the ship run smoothly. But the departures of Sean Spicer, Steve Bannon, Anthony Scaramucci, Sebastian Gorka, and Reince Priebus haven’t made things run any smoother. All they’ve done is made it crystal clear that the problem with the Trump...

Read More...


Citing Dictatorial Tendencies, Critics Slam Trump for ‘Madcap Threat’ Aimed at NBC

by Julia Conley – While the president can’t take away the network’s ability to operate, former FCC commissioner calls ongoing attempts to intimidate journalists “chilling”. Free speech advocates and journalists spoke out against President Donald Trump’s latest attack on the news media on Wednesday after he suggested a “challenge” of NBC’s license. Michael Copps, the former FCC commissioner who now serves as special advisor to the grassroots organization Common Cause, noted that while Trump isn’t legally able to carry out his threats, his attempts to intimidate the press are deeply disconcerting: This madcap threat, if pursued, would be blatant and unacceptable intervention in the decisions of an independent agency. The law does not countenance such interference. President Trump might be happier as emperor, but I think the American people would strip him of his clothes on this issue. Additionally, it’s not just NBC stations that will find this threat chilling, but also smaller...

Read More...


What is Left of ISIL in Iraq? (VIDEO)

by John Beck – Far from the force that swept across Iraq in mid-2014 and seized control of nearly a third of the country, ISIL today has been weakened significantly, relegated to just a few dozen square kilometres of ground, with manpower in the low thousands. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group was removed last week from yet another stretch of the country, the latest in a series of blows to the once-powerful armed group. The town of Hawija, which ISIL had held since 2014, lies around 240km north of Baghdad and was its last urban stronghold in Iraq. The offensive began on September 21 and was expected to be tough going. Within just two weeks, jubilant Iraqi forces and members of the country’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) had hoisted their flags in squares and roundabouts. ISIL crumbled rapidly, with hundreds of fighters fleeing north towards...

Read More...


In Iran and North Korea, Trump Is Playing With Nuclear Fire

by Marjorie Cohn, Truthout | News Analysis – The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which spearheaded a landmark nuclear disarmament treaty, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The significance of this award cannot be underestimated. Donald Trump’s bombastic and frightening threats against North Korea and Iran may portend a catastrophic attack that could impact the entire world. The US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, killing 210,000 people. During the week following the bombings, thousands of survivors experienced a unique combination of symptoms, Susan Southard wrote in the Los Angeles Times: Their hair fell out in large clumps, their wounds secreted extreme amounts of pus, and their gums swelled and bled. Purple spots appeared on their bodies, signs of hemorrhaging beneath the skin. Infections ravaged their internal organs. Within a few days of the onset of symptoms, many people lost consciousness, mumbled deliriously and died in extreme pain; others...

Read More...


VIDEO: The U.S. War in Afghanistan Is Now 16 Years Old. Trump Has No Plans to End It

by Phyllis Bennis – Trump’s plans to extend the war he once supported ending are even more worrisome for their lack of transparency. On October 7, 2001, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. The war is now 16 years old — and that’s not even counting the decade of U.S. intervention in the country during the Cold War. Donald Trump once advocated the “speedy withdrawal” of U.S. troops from that country. As president, however, he’s gone in the opposite direction, demanding the U.S. must now “fight to win.” As Phyllis Bennis, director of the IPS New Internationalism project, explains in this short video, Trump’s plans to extend the war he once supported ending are even more worrisome for their lack of transparency. He’s not said how many new troops he’ll send or how long they’ll be deployed. Worse still, civilian casualties in multiple U.S. wars have been on the rise since he took office — by 67 percent...

Read More...


The Evil That Guns Do

by Michael Winship – The firearms lobby suggests that because morality can’t be legislated, the evil of gun violence can only be controlled by… more guns. In the United States, you will hear madmen insist that: 59 dead and 500 injured in Las Vegas are the price of freedom. 49 dead and 58 wounded in Orlando, Florida, are the price of freedom. 27 dead and 2 injured in Newtown, Connecticut, are the price of freedom. And so it goes. This truly is insanity. We can try to deal with that small percentage of the population who collect or own guns for hunting, target shooting or security, but to claim as a constitutional right the possession of firearms intended for nothing less than brutal, gruesome warfare strains credulity. These are killing machines with no purpose other than to maim and destroy. Of course, we’ve said this time and again and will doubtless...

Read More...


10 Reasons the US Should Stick With the Iran Nuclear Deal

by Medea Benjamin – On Trump’s wildly false argument that the agreement is not in the country’s national interest. President Trump is expected to announce this week that he will not recertify that Iran is complying with the 2015 nuclear deal. He will argue, falsely, that the agreement is no longer in the national interest of the United States. The president’s announcement will not end the deal but will pass the buck to Congress. In the next 60 days, Congress could impose new sanctions that would scuttle the deal or it could pass new legislation addressing issues that were never part of the original mandate, which would also effectively kill the agreement. Enough public pressure could keep the agreement intact. Here are 10 good reasons why the US should uphold the deal. 1. President Trump’s claim that Iran is not complying with the conditions of the deal is false. Iran is complying,...

Read More...


God, Guns … and Russia?

by Susan Grigsby – In 2016, the National Rifle Association (NRA) spent $30.3 million to elect Donald Trump. In addition, according to a report from OpenSecrets Blog and The Trace, they spent $20 million on six Senate races. The total, more than $50 million, represented 96 percent of the lobbying group’s outside spending during the 2016 cycle. The close relationship between the NRA and Donald Trump began in May, when the organization endorsed the candidate earlier than it had ever endorsed a Republican presidential contender. Trump appeared before thousands of people at the NRA convention in Louisville, Kentucky, where he gleefully accepted the organization’s official support. Perhaps it never occurred to anyone to wonder why the NRA was so quick to endorse Donald Trump, who was not then known to be a fanatic ammosexual interested in interpreting the Second Amendment to allow the average man on the street to own an arsenal of weaponry. According to a report of the early...

Read More...


Ellsberg, In Upcoming Book, Warns of Nuclear Dangers in the Era of Trump

by Greg Mitchell – As the Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons receives Nobel Peace Prize, author Greg Mitchell reviews a new book reflecting on the history of nuclear weapons and the growing threat posed by them today. For most people, Daniel Ellsberg is known mainly for — or only for — the Pentagon Papers he leaked in 1971. And that’s plenty. It set in motion a landmark First Amendment case and led to shifts in public opinion that helped quicken the US withdrawal from Vietnam and the end to that war. Ellsberg was back in the public eye recently in relation to the epic 10-part PBS series on Vietnam, which included a lengthy segment on the Pentagon Papers — but his absence from the series as an interview subject drew criticism. Coming up: a movie drama on the Papers directed by Steven Spielberg. But, for me, the name Ellsberg does not immediately...

Read More...