Think of it as the chicken-or-the-egg question for the ages: Do very real threats to the United States inadvertently benefit the military-industrial complex or does the national security state, by its very nature, conjure up inflated threats to feed that defense machine?
Back in 2008, some of us placed our faith, naively enough, in the hands of mainstream Democrats — specifically, those of a young senator named Barack Obama. He would reverse the war policies of George W. Bush, deescalate the unbridled Global War on Terror, and right the ship of state. How’d that turn out?
In retrospect, though couched in a far more sophisticated and peaceable rhetoric than Bush’s, his moves would prove largely cosmetic when it came to this country’s forever wars: a significant reduction in the use of conventional ground troops, but more drones, more commandos, and yet more acts of ill-advised regime change. Don’t get me wrong: as a veteran of two of Washington’s wars, I was glad when “no-drama” Obama decreased the number of boots on the ground in the Middle East. It’s now obvious, however, that he left the basic infrastructure of eternal war firmly in place.
Enter The Donald.
For all his half-baked tweets, insults, and boasts, as well as his refusal to read anything of substance on issues of war and peace, some of candidate Trump’s foreign policy ideas seemed far saner than those of just about any other politician around or the previous two presidents. I mean, the Iraq War was foolish, and maybe it wasn’t the …read more
Building on the nationwide mourning and outrage that followed a Florida school shooting last week that left 17 people dead, dozens of teenagers held a “lie-in” at the gates of the White House on Monday to protest years of congressional inaction on gun control and highlight the National Rifle Association’s pernicious influence on the political process.
The demonstration began with protesters — many of them from the group Teens for Gun Reform (TGR), which organized the event — lying on the ground in front of the White House for several minutes, symbolizing “how quickly someone, such as the Parkland shooter, is able to purchase a gun in America.”
“We have organized this protest in solidarity with all of those who were affected by the horrific school shooting in Florida,” TGR said in a statement. “We call on President Trump and leaders from both parties to finally act in the interest of America’s youth and end these tragic mass shootings. It is imperative that American children are safe in their classrooms, churches, malls, movie theaters, and streets.”
Hoisting signs that read “NRA: There Is Blood on Your Hands” and “Protect Kids, Not Guns,” demonstrators also directed “Shame on you!” …read more
Borrowing ideas from the European New Right and “Generation Identity” in France, the “alt-right” is looking to expand a so-called identitarian movement onto US soil. The recently launched “Operation Homeland” project will attempt to recruit young folks on college campuses, beginning in March with an event at Michigan State University.
The “alt-right” didn’t really enter the spotlight of mainstream US culture until it dropped back into the gutter. For the first years of its infancy, from the founding of “AlternativeRight.com” in 2010 until the popularization of the #AltRight hashtag in early 2015, members had focused on trying to rehabilitate the image of white nationalism.
A bad public image, terrorist violence, a history of mass genocide and vulgar racism had understandably made white nationalists pariahs, and Richard Spencer, the essential founder of the movement, wanted to wash all that away. Instead, the “alt-right” would take the example of the European New Right and focus on making a pseudo-academic movement that could influence what Spencer identified as “meta-politics” — ideas and identities that are “pre-political.”
It wasn’t until the slew of trolls, podcasters and hashtags flowed into their world that the “alt-right” was able to expand, although it came at the cost of their previous base-building “intellectual” work. Now, their major publications have returned to their white supremacist roots, filled with expletive-laced vitriol toward non-white people.
The National Environmental Policy Act, a law requiring federal agencies like the Department of Defense (DOD) to assess the environmental effects of proposed actions prior to implementation, has been used instead by the DOD to place millions of US citizens in harm’s way.
While it has long been known the US military is one of the biggest polluters in the world, the egregious and intentional nature of its actions is less well known.
Canadian researchers recently revealed how an extremely toxic chemical used in US military explosives that the Pentagon has been downplaying for decades has been seeping into surrounding communities for years.
Meanwhile, as Truthout has reported extensively, US Naval warplanes are producing deadly levels of jet noise around airstrips in the Pacific Northwest, despite widespread public outcry.
For years, the Department of Defense has been using the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a 1970 law designed to protect people from harmful environmental …read more
When we give someone a tip, we expect the money will go to the workers who provided us with service.
We might leave a little extra because someone went above and beyond for us. Or because we want that person to have a slightly easier time getting by.
Whatever the circumstance, we trust that the money will help the workers who served us.
But the National Restaurant Association — a group controlled by owners of major restaurant chains — has long been promoting the idea that business owners, not workers, should control the tips we leave.
If they have their way, the Department of Labor will soon let minimum wage employers confiscate all tips left by customers. Business owners would not have to disclose to patrons what happens to tips, and could simply pocket the tips themselves.
This would apply to anyone who receives tips — from the housekeeper who makes up your hotel room, to the valet who parks your car, to the assistant who pushes your wheelchair at the airport.
The NRA’s key leadership includes Olive Garden, IHOP and Applebee’s, Denny’s, Cracker Barrel, Chili’s, and Outback Steakhouse. These companies already have an egregious track record of squeezing workers while inflating CEO pay. If the new rule is finalized, they could use tips to fuel even more stock buybacks and CEO pay hikes.
By doing these companies’ bidding, the Trump administration is poised to make life even harder for restaurant workers and their families. A recent study shows that more than half of hourly earnings for servers and bartenders …read more
Voters still have more than eight months before the 2018 general elections, but some incumbent members of Congress are facing much earlier primary tests from members of their own party.
While these elections might not determine who controls the House and Senate next year, they could shift the ideological balance of power within the two parties.
Here, we explore the money side of some of the earlier contests where the incumbent faces being “primaried.”
Illinois has one of the country’s earliest primaries, and two Illinois congressional races are seeing Democratic incumbents struggle to raise money against primary challengers. In Illinois’ 7th District — which covers downtown Chicago and extends to the western suburbs — incumbent Danny Davis faces Anthony Clark, a high school teacher and local activist. Although neither candidate has raised much money (Davis has raised $189,000, and Clark has raised only $47,000), Clark has raised more money from individual donors both large and small than Davis.
Davis, having represented the district since 1997, has the advantage of a sizable war chest with close to $300,000 cash on hand compared to Clark’s $9,000. Clark is best known as a progressive activist, but Davis isn’t particularly moderate and has previously received the endorsement of the Democratic Socialists of America.
The 3rd District faces what appears to be a closer race, certainly as far as money is concerned. The 3rd District shares some borders with the 7th but is more suburban. Businesswoman Marie Newman is challenging Rep. Daniel Lipinski — who originally won the seat thanks to the influence of his father, Rep. William Lipinski — and has outraised him among individual donors. She also has received some money from …read more
Conservatives have a lot to worry about in the upcoming midterms, especially if recent special election results are any indication. But some politicians — both incumbents and challengers — face even more daunting tasks than they may realize when it comes to winning in November.
Here are four conservative politicians who are in major trouble in their local races:
1. Kelli Ward
Tea Party-backed Ward is scrambling hard to try to win a GOP primary against Arizona Rep. Martha McSally — both of whom want to replace retiring Republican Jeff Flake as Senator in 2018. With such strong competition, Ward needs every advantage she can find, which is why having the endorsement of the Arizona Monitor was such good news. Or it was, until it turned out to be “fake news.”
It looked as if Arizona Senate candidate Kelli Ward had scored a big endorsement: On Oct. 28, she posted a link on her campaign website and blasted out a Facebook post, quoting extensively from a column in the Arizona Monitor.
There was just one problem: Despite its reputable sounding name, the Arizona Monitor is not a real news site. It is an anonymous, pro-Ward blog that has referred to her primary opponent Martha McSally as “Shifty McSally,” frequently blasted Flake and, at the top of its home page, proclaims its mission as “Striking Fear into the Heart of the Establishment.” The site launched just a few weeks before publishing the endorsement, and its domain registration is hidden, masking the identity of its owner. On its Facebook page, it is classified as a news site, but scant other information is offered.
Too be fair though, it’s probably no less legitimate than Breitbart.
2. Marsha Blackburn
In Arizona, Republicans are trying to …read more
Nearly every Friday since Trump took office, constituents of longtime Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) took time out of their busy lives to visit his Morristown, New Jersey office to encourage him to protect Obamacare, to vote no on a GOP tax plan, and most importantly, to hold a town hall meeting (which it seemed like he bent over backward to avoid). Members of this tireless group, NJ 11th for Change, a branch of the Indivisible movement, never did get that town hall, but their tenacity may have landed them something better: his retirement.
Frelinghuysen, who served as the chair of the House Committee on Appropriations, announced recently that he would not seek reelection in New Jersey’s 11th congressional district. He is the eighth long-serving Republican to call it quits in the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections, and the second in the last week, after Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania. Unlike Meehan, and fellow retiree Blake Farenthold, sexual harassment allegations didn’t push Frelinghuysen out the door. It was activism.
“Frelinghuysen won his last election by 19 points, but by this November, his race had been called a tossup,” Elizabeth Juviler, a co-executive director of NJ 11th for Change, told AlterNet. “That was the power of people’s voices in a classically democratic process. People spoke up, they were heard, and our institutions and government are changing as a result. It’s a shame that Frelinghuysen refused to hear our voices until it was too late for him.”
The group started in 2016, and in January 2017, Fridays Without Frelinghuysen, as their visits to his office became known, gained the …read more
Republicans do not act like people who are concerned about budget deficits. Given the opportunity, they pursue policies that increase budget deficits. This is not just true in the present; it was also true when George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan were in the White House.
Most Republicans in Congress, along with the Republican president, supported tax cuts and increased spending, consequently raising the projected deficits for 2018 and 2019 by nearly $380 billion a year. This is an increase of almost 2 percent of GDP — roughly the size of the stimulus pushed through by Barack Obama at the trough of the recession in 2009. That’s real money.
There are grounds on which the merits of the tax cuts can be debated, although it does seem hard to justify giving still more money to the country’s richest people. There are also arguments for the spending — although the increases for the military, which got the majority of the additional spending, may be hard to justify.
But one thing is not debatable. The Republicans who supported this tax cut and additional spending do not place a priority on deficit reduction and balanced budgets.
While this deduction should be obvious, sort of like Kim Jong-un not being a big promoter of human rights, many in the media feel the need to tell us the opposite. There is a never-ending flow of articles telling us about how Republicans feel the “urgency” to reduce the deficit, or that they are not concerned about deficits created by the …read more
How should we think about the recent gun violence in Parkland, Florida? How do we understand the ascent of Donald Trump as part of a longer trend? What does the coming administration portend? And what is the way forward? Allen Ruff is in conversation with radical social critic and educator Henry Giroux.
In this interview, Giroux discusses his recent Truthout article, “The Ghost of Fascism in the Age of Trump,” and how the corporate media influence US society. Giroux also argues that the US does not have a democracy in crisis, but rather a democracy that has disappeared.