Most observers of last week’s off-year elections were focused on the implications for the Democrats’ ability to mount a credible challenge to President Trump and Trumpism. However, the races were also an interesting window into the role money plays in state and local elections, and the possibilities for campaign finance reform across the country.
All eyes were on Virginia Tuesday night, and the state delivered a riveting set of outcomes — at no small cost. The elections for governor, attorney general, lieutenant governor and House of Delegates broke both fundraising and spending records in the state. Virginia is something of a Wild West when it comes to campaign finance, with no limits on campaign donations from individuals, corporations, or political action committees. Among other things, the state’s laissez-faire political culture produced a whopper of a scandal when former Governor Bob McDonnell was prosecuted in federal court for accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts from a dietary supplement maker who wanted the state to promote his products (McDonnell’s conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court on technical legal grounds that had nothing to do with the appropriateness of his conduct).
Yet, there is also a glimmer of hope for reform. Nineteen candidates for the Virginia House of Delegates — some incumbents and some challengers — signed a pledge from the national organization Every Voice to prioritize opposing Citizens United, enacting election contribution limits, and passing legislation to incentivize everyday citizens’ participation in Virginia politics. Ralph Northam, Virginia’s Governor-elect who has called for caps on campaign donations and a ban on corporate, made …read more
Americans have always fancied themselves immune to fascism, but in fact, many of fascism’s roots lie in US soil. David Neiwert, author of Alt-America, tells Truthout what’s new about the so-called “alt-right” and in what ways it’s a continuation of American white supremacy. He outlines how Trump won over the support of far-right groups and gave their worldview a place in the White House.
Where did the far-right figures who suddenly seem everywhere in the American political landscape come from? Investigative reporter David Neiwert has been tracking fascist and extreme-right violence and ideology for decades, and he reveals how these groups have grown in power and influence in Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump. Order this deeply researched and crucial book today by making a donation to support Truthout!
Like the frog in boiling water, Americans may not realize that democracy is over and the country has descended into fascism until it is too late. In this interview, David Neiwert tells Truthout what’s new about the so-called “alt-right” and in what ways it’s a continuation of American white supremacy. The author of Alt-America also outlines how Donald Trump won over the support of far-right groups and gave their worldview a place in the White House.
Mark Karlin: Is the term …read more
During the early morning hours of September 21, nine young activists — all in their twenties — hauled a coffin toward a police station in the northern city of Lira. The coffin was draped with posters of Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni and a number of his other allies in government. Written across the coffin on one side were the words “Change the constitution and bury Uganda” — a reference to a proposed constitutional amendment that would do away with the presidential age limit.
At 6.30 a.m., when they arrived at a major intersection, they set the coffin down and lit it on fire. By the time the police station came alive to start the day, the protesters had already left. Not knowing who they were looking for, the officers nevertheless set out on a hunt to find them.
Over the next 12 hours, the young people invaded street after street in Lira, chanting anti-constitutional change slogans, lifting up placards and even setting some tires on fire. The small group soon grew into large crowds in all corners of Lira. The protesters had allies everywhere, and as soon as the police set out to stop a protest on a given street, someone would call the protesters and inform them. They would quickly disperse and reorganize at a different place, and the police would arrive too late, finding no one to arrest.
Eventually, when the police got fed up with the constant evasion, they decided to storm the offices of the nonviolent training organization Solidarity Uganda, claiming that they were hiding the protesters. Police checked behind all doors and in ceiling boards, finding no one. But they didn’t leave empty-handed. Solidarity Uganda staff member Dickens Otim was arrested and charged with inciting violence. Due to a lack of evidence, however, the charge was …read more
In a time of deep political, social and economic uncertainty for everyone (except the ultra-rich), Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin provide some theoretical and practical guidance for the left. This Truthout interview is an effort to help reimagine a realistic social order in an age when the old order is dying but the new has yet to be born.
We live in an age of illegitimate neoliberal hegemony and soaring political uncertainty. The evidence is all around: citizen disillusionment over mainstream political parties and the traditional conservative-liberal divide, massive inequality, the rise of the “alt-right,” and growing resistance to Trumpism and financial capitalism.
Yes, the present age is full of contradictions of every type and variety, and this is something that makes the goals and aims of the left for the reordering of society along the lines of a true democratic polity and in accordance with the vision of a socialist reorganization of the economy more challenging than ever before.
In this context, the interview below, with Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin, which appeared originally in Truthout in three separate parts, seeks to provide theoretical and …read more
Some of the worst fears and dire predictions of opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline came true on Thursday when pipeline owner TransCanada announced that more than 200,000 gallons of oil had spilled from the existing portion of the Keystone system in Marshall County, South Dakota.
While the company reported the spill in a public statement, Buzzfeed notes there was an approximately four-and-a-half hour gap between when the company said the breach was discovered at 6:00 am and when local officials say they were notified at 10:30 am. As a South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources told the news outlet, “We’re not quite sure why there was a time gap in there.”
Outside of the company’s statement, there has been no outside or independent verification of the size of the spill or details about the scale of the possible damage.
Those who had warned against the pipeline’s approval for precisely these reasons and continue to work tirelessly to prevent the construction of the Keystone XL (KXL) project, were among the first to respond to Thursday’s spill.
More than 200,000 gallons of oil spill along the Keystone 1 pipeline just days head of the vote on the final permit for #KeystoneXL. Fossil fuels will never be safe #NoKXL https://t.co/yNH2DmID8t pic.twitter.com/OqPZkS9lbB
— 350 dot org (@350) November 16, 2017
“With their horrible safety record, today’s spill is just the latest tragedy caused by the irresponsible oil company TransCanada,” said Ben Schreiber, senior political strategist at Friends of the Earth. “We cannot let the world’s fossil fuel empires continue to …read more
Donald Trump’s 12-day visit to Asia has included an assortment of awkward moments — like a fumble during a group handshake in Manila — but his performance in the Philippines may be one of the more disappointing parts of his tour. It’s fair to ask whether the United States should legitimize a brutal dictatorship with a state visit in the first place, but to visit without publicly discussing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s human rights record is very troubling.
It’s not unusual, though. Even before the election, Trump didn’t make a secret out of his affection for dictators. Duterte’s time at the helm of the Philippines has been characterized by a brutal drug war that has killed thousands of people, including in gruesome extrajudicial killings committed by law enforcement with active encouragement from the government.
That makes for a “fantastic” host, according to Trump, who sang Duterte’s praises after their meeting and indicated that he thought the Philippines made an excellent strategic partner.
Duterte has bragged about killing people on multiple occasions, encouraged members of the public to turn vigilante and kill drug dealers and compared himself to Hitler — favorably. His bloody “war on drugs” has devastated communities across the country, and it certainly hasn’t done anything to address the ebb and flow of illegal drugs, drug abuse and drug addiction. Duterte claims to be against corruption and abuse, but his political record doesn’t support that assertion — and his election pledge to step down if he couldn’t get these issues under control hasn’t been honored.
The Obama administration took a frosty view on the current government of the Philippines, and the sentiment was returned; Duterte infamously called President Barack Obama a: “son of …read more
While the Trump administration’s threats of a preemptive strike against North Korea may be viewed as an elaborate, albeit crude, attempt at psychological warfare, some fear that a desperate desire to coerce Pyongyang may give rise to wishful thinking about deterring that regime’s response to a US first strike. Such delusions, as recent history proves, could lead to yet another unnecessary and terrible war.
Ever since the Trump administration began a few months ago to threaten a first strike against North Korea over its continued missile tests, the question of whether it is seriously ready to wage war has loomed over other crises in US foreign policy.
The news media have avoided any serious effort to answer that question, for an obvious reason: The administration has an overriding interest in convincing the North Korean regime of …read more
The writers at the New York branches of news outlets DNAinfo and Gothamist decided to unionize in late October. Rather than bargain with them, their billionaire owner shut down the newsrooms altogether.
Every page from the DNAinfo and Gothamist websites now redirects to a letter from owner Joe Ricketts, announcing that the websites had not been profitable enough “to support the tremendous effort and expense needed to produce the type of journalism on which the company was founded.”
But money’s not in short supply for Ricketts, the founder of what’s now known as TD Ameritrade and the head of one of the richest families in America. Ricketts is, though, an open opponent of unions. He wrote earlier this year that unions “promote a corrosive us-against-them dynamic that destroys the esprit de corps businesses need to succeed.”
After the reporters in New York decided to unionize, Ricketts took just a week to decide that the entire venture — including the local newsrooms in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, DC — was no longer worth it for him. The decision to shut down the sites reminded reporters of what they know all too well: there’s a crisis in funding journalism, especially the local kind. And many times, the money that does come in is dictated by whims of the ultra-wealthy.
On November 6, hundreds of people gathered at New York’s City Hall Park to declare that billionaires should not determine whether or not cities receive adequate local coverage. Laid-off journalists at the rally, organized by the Writers Guild of America, encouraged other workers in their field to consider unionizing to wrest some power back from owners like Ricketts.
Your support is crucial to keeping ethical journalism alive! Donate now to keep our writers on the streets, covering the most important issues and beats.
Looking back at the last tumultuous year, to me, one of the saddest aspects of the Trump candidacy and presidency is that both in part were built from one of the basest of human impulses: revenge.
We’re taught that ideally, the desire to run for office should reflect a commitment to public service. And we know that the reality is far too often otherwise, running to slake a thirst for power and money that overpowers the greater good.
Yet to seek elected office for revenge, to use it to get back at someone or inflict harm on them or anyone associated with them seems in some ways even worse; shabby, petty and immoral.
Examine the roots of the Trump campaign and you see two men eager to use position to take revenge, to get even for insults, imagined or sometimes real, and to lash out at perceived conspiracies against them:
Donald Trump himself… and Vladimir Putin.
Whether or not there was active, knowing collusion, the two nonetheless joined forces to tap into decades of American fears and resentments not totally dissimilar from their own.
In Trump’s case, you don’t have to go to Vienna to figure out that much of his egotism and vainglory — and those tweets, God help us — seem aimed at getting back for slights that can go back just hours and minutes or sometimes even years. To …read more
Truthout takes zero advertising money — instead we rely on readers to sustain our site. Will you join the thousands of people who fund our work? Make a donation by clicking here!
A broad base of advocacy groups opposed to Energy Transfer Partners’ (ETP) proposed Bayou Bridge pipeline continue to pressure officials in Louisiana to deny the remaining permissions the company needs to build the pipeline.
The groups are also trying to stop TigerSwan LLC, one of the security firms that ETP worked with in North Dakota, from obtaining a permit to operate in Louisiana.
ETP, the company behind the Dakota Access pipeline, intends to build a 162-mile pipeline across southern Louisiana. If built, the Bayou Bridge will be the last leg, carrying oil fracked in North Dakota to Louisiana.
Before the pipeline can be built, ETP needs a water quality certificate from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The company already obtained another required permit to operate from Louisiana Department of Natural Resources under the state’s Coastal Zone program, but that permit is being challenged by a lawsuit spearheaded by the St. James community, where the pipeline will end, roughly 50 miles west of New Orleans.
TigerSwan in Louisiana?
Meanwhile, TigerSwan is trying to obtain a permit from the Louisiana State Board of Private Security Examiners to operate in the state.
The Board rejected TigerSwan’s permit application in June. In part, the denial was based on the ongoing litigation filed against the company by the North Dakota Private Investigative and Security …read more