Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Fire Ants Killed the TPP

The defeat of the TPP is a tale of ants slaying a dragon.

It seemed a fearsome task, challenging the powerful behemoth that is Wall Street, Big Pharma, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Big Ag, Big Oil, all their lobbyists, and all the Congress critters they’d “campaign-financed” to support their money-grubbing 12-country trade scheme.

The battle was engaged, though, for the sake of workers’ rights, clean air and water, food safety, reasonably priced pharmaceuticals, national sovereignty, internet freedom, financial regulation, public control of public lands, the right of governments to pass laws for the public good without corporations suing for so-called lost profits in secret tribunals adjudicated by hand-picked corporate jurists, and the freedom of local governments to buy American-made products for taxpayer financed projects to create American jobs. And, frankly, so much more.  For a righteous, just and equitable society. That’s why there were so many ants.

Literally thousands of civil society groups coalesced to combat the TPP. These included labor unions, health care organizations, food safety advocates, environmentalists, churches, family farmers, social justice societies, indigenous rights organizations and allied groups in the 12 TPP partner countries. My union, the United Steelworkers, was among them. It was an overwhelming number of groups with an overwhelming number of members who conducted an overwhelming number of events over years to make it clear to lawmakers just how strongly citizens opposed the TPP.

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Trump proposes stripping citizenship from political protesters

Ian Millhiser

Ian Millhiser Senior Constitutional Policy Analyst, Think Progress

It a scene that is likely to prove quite familiar during a Trump presidency, Americans woke up Tuesday to discover that the incoming president took to Twitter to expose his ignorance of or disregard for the Constitution.

 

Criminalizing flag burning is unconstitutional, at least when the flag is burned as a political statement. As the Supreme Court explained in Texas v. Johnson, “if there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.” Moreover, there is no indication “either in the text of the Constitution or in our cases interpreting it . . . that a separate juridical category exists for the American flag alone.” If someone chooses to express a political message through flag burning, even if that message is contempt towards the United States, the Constitution protects that speech.

Justice Antonin Scalia, who Trump has held up as a model for his Supreme Court nominee, was in the majority in Johnson.

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BREAKING: Republicans block program to register 2 million Illinois voters

Alice Ollstein Political Reporter, Think Progress

On Tuesday, the Illinois General Assembly narrowly voted to uphold the governor’s veto of a bill that would have automatically registered two million voters across the state. The override failed by just four votes.

Fifteen House Republicans supported the bill earlier this year. On Tuesday, zero did. Thirteen changed their votes, and two have resigned.

Rep. Ed Sullivan, Jr. (R- Mundelein) said he changed his vote after he came to understand the “unintended consequences” of the policy, which has already been enacted in Oregon, California, West Virginia, Vermont, Alaska, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C.

“Certainly all of us want to make it easier for more people to vote, but we didn’t make it right,” he said on the House floor. “We can do it better.”

Governor Bruce Rauner (R) also warned of “unintended consequences” when he vetoed the bill in August, alleging the policy could “inadvertently open the door to voter fraud,” but presenting no evidence of this threat.

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Trump poised to violate Constitution his first day in office, George W. Bush’s ethics lawyer says

Ian Millhiser

Ian Millhiser Senior Constitutional Policy Analyst, Think Progress

Friday evening, the Washington Post reported that about 100 foreign diplomats gathered at President-elect Donald Trump’s hotel in Washington, DC to “to sip Trump-branded champagne, dine on sliders and hear a sales pitch about the U.S. president-elect’s newest hotel.” The tour included a look at the hotel’s $20,000 a night “town house” suite. The Post also quoted some of the diplomats saying they intended to stay at the hotel in order to ingratiate themselves to the incoming president.

“Why wouldn’t I stay at his hotel blocks from the White House, so I can tell the new president, ‘I love your new hotel!’” said one diplomat from an Asian nation. “Isn’t it rude to come to his city and say, ‘I am staying at your competitor?’”

The incoming president, in other words, is actively soliciting business from agents of foreign governments. Many of these agents, in turn, said that they will accept the president-elect’s offer to do business because they want to win favor with the new leader of the United States.

In an exclusive exchange with ThinkProgress, Richard Painter, a University of Minnesota law professor who previously served as chief ethics counsel to President George W. Bush, says that Trump’s efforts to do business with these diplomats is at odds with a provision of the Constitution intended to prevent foreign states from effectively buying influence with federal officials.

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Trump appointee claims Obama encouraged terrorists by attending Paris climate talks

Natasha Geiling

Natasha Geiling Reporter, Think Progress

President-elect Donald Trump has spent the weeks following the election staffing up his administration, and among his chosen national security advisers, a theme is emerging: None of them seem to think climate change, which the Department of Defense has called a “threat multiplier,” is an issue of national security.

The newest member of Trump’s national security team is Fox News analyst K.T. McFarland, recently tapped to be deputy national security adviser. And like Trump’s earlier national security picks — National Security Advisor Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and CIA Director Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) — McFarland dismisses the idea that climate change constitutes a threat to national security.

In 2015, McFarland criticized President Obama’s decision to attend the U.N. climate conference in Paris just months after terror attacks rocked the city. Obama called his attendance “a powerful rebuke” to the attacks.

“President Obama thinks that climate change is the greatest strategic and geological and existential threat to our future,” McFarland said on Fox News following Obama’s remarks. “Here we are, and the irony. If it were not so tragic, it would be funny. Here we have ISIS, who are attacking with suicide vests and Kalashnikovs and potentially chemical weapons in the French water supply. What are we doing? We’re going to fight ISIS. We’re going to have windmills, we’re going to have solar panels. We’re going to show them.”

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Union Matters

Appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court Now

Hugh J. Campbell

Hugh J. Campbell Son of a steelworker, Philadelphia, Pa.

President Obama is petitioned in We the People Appoint Garland Now (Senate Has Waived Its Rights) to act now and make his Supreme Court appointment as a recess appointment, since the Senate’s inaction is a waiver of it right to consent. The legal basis for this petition is outlined in the Washington Post Op-Ed Obama can appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court if the Senate does nothing.

Right-wing obstructionists are desperately trying to dissuade Americans from signing this petition by questioning the legal grounds of the waiver of rights argument, but their bias on this issue is indisputable.

Even though the We the People Appoint Garland Now (Senate Has Waived Its Rights) petition has the minimum 100,000 signatures to get an official update from the White House within 60 days, please sign the petition anyway, to communicate to the White House the urgency of this matter to the American People.

A 2016 SCOTUS recess appointment by President Obama should be effective through the end of the 115th Congress ending January 3, 2019 and will, in all likelihood, result in a case brought before our current eight member Supreme Court. The waiver of rights and other legal arguments including prior Supreme Court rulings on the substance over form doctrine can be put forth when and if this case is heard.

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The Party of Failures

The Party of Failures