Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Donald Trump has made it clear that he intends to govern exactly as promised in his campaign, unrolling a series of harmful policies designed to hurt immigrants, workers, and their families.

Yet the government cannot implement this hateful agenda on its own. On immigration, for instance, it will need the help of private prison and immigrant detention companies who can house the vast numbers of immigrants already being rounded up for deportation, Wall Street firms who can provide the funding for them, software companies that make billions in government contracts from the agencies deporting immigrants and militarizing the border, and manufacturers who can build a border wall.

These companies – household names like JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Boeing – stand to gain enormously from Trump’s plans.

Executives of many of these companies sit on Trump’s Business Council or advise the President. And while they all seek to cultivate a reputation as civic leaders, few have publicly denounced Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda or his plans to roll back worker protections, while they have all proved willing to position themselves to gain from Trump’s policies.

Unlike Trump’s headline-grabbing Executive Orders, these companies’ ties with the White House have gone under the radar. That needs to change.

It is time to name these corporations and reveal once and for all their complicity in Trump’s agenda. That is why we are launching a campaign to let the American people target these companies and encourage elected officials to divest taxpayer funds from them.

The Center for Popular Democracy and Make The Road New York have launched a campaign to draw attention to nine companies – Goldman Sachs, Blackstone, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Blackrock, Boeing, IBM, Uber, and Disney. This “Corporate Backers of Hate” campaign calls on companies to disassociate themselves from the Trump administration and end corporate practices that benefit from his agenda.

We are not the first to cast suspicion on these companies’ misdeeds. Portland, Oregon, recently decided to divest from all corporations altogether, barring all investments in corporate debt and shifting city money to other types of investments like U.S. Treasury bonds. Elected officials in states like New York are exploring similar approaches.

Our campaign will encourage other states and cities to follow this lead and stop investing in, or doing business with, in companies that put immigrant communities and workers at risk.

They include JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo, which both finance the debt of the two largest private prison companies in the country, CoreCivic and GeoGroup. Wells Fargo owns more than $30 million worth of shares in these companies. That is more than double the value of their investments on Election Day, given that share prices of these companies have soared since Trump’s victory.

The list continues. Goldman Sachs is the 9th largest shareholder in CoreCivic and the 33rd largest in GeoGroup. Blackrock has shares in both companies worth more than $700 million.

The Boeing Company, meanwhile, may become a critical player in constructing any kind of border wall. Since 2008, the company has received more than $1 billion in contracts from U.S. Customs and Border Protection to support the agency’s work policing the US-Mexico border. In 2005, they received a $67 million multi-year contract to help build a 2,000 mile “virtual border fence” along the border – a project eventually scrapped after significant delays and overspending. Boeing’s CEO has refused to rule out working with the administration on their latest misguided attempt to build a wall.

Finally, Trump’s immigration policies will benefit companies who have a stake in data management, particularly IBM, which has received $1.7 billion from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and CBP since 2008. The head of IBM serves on the Business Council and advises Trump’s new Office of American Innovation. When more than 100 technology companies signed a legal brief opposing Trump’s Muslim ban, IBM did not join. And though thousands of IBM employees have publicly opposed the company’s ties with the Trump administration, their CEO has refused to step off the Business Council.

These are just a few of the companies that could benefit from the pain of immigrant communities and the separation of families. In the pursuit of financial gain, actual lives could be on the line. The unleashing of ICE has already hurt scores of immigrants — since Trump’s inauguration alone, more than 21,000 immigrants have been detained and possibly separated from their families – and the corporations standing by Trump are directly implicated in their suffering.

Given the stakes, it is clear that “business as usual” is no longer an option. These corporations have exercised their sway over our democracy for far too long. It is time to take a stand and make clear that our communities will not be exploited for corporate profits. We will not stay silent any longer.

Ana Maria Archila is Co-Executive Director of the Center for Popular Democracy (@popdemoc).

Javier H. Valdés is Co-Executive Director of Make The Road New York (@MakeTheRoadNY).

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.

Photo by expertinfantry/ CC BY 2.0

At this moment, the president of the United States is threatening to "throw out" the votes of millions of Americans to hijack an election that he seems more than likely to lose. Donald Trump is openly demanding that state authorities invalidate lawful absentee ballots, no different from the primary ballot he mailed to his new home state of Florida, for the sole purpose of cheating. And his undemocratic scheme appears to enjoy at least nominal support from the Supreme Court, which may be called upon to adjudicate the matter.

But what is even worse than Trump's coup plot — and the apparent assent of unprincipled jurists such as Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh — is the Democratic Party's feeble response to this historic outrage. It is the kind of issue that Republicans, with their well-earned reputation for political hardball, would know how to exploit fully and furiously.

They know because they won the same game in Florida 20 years ago.

During that ultimate legal showdown between George W. Bush and Al Gore, when every single vote mattered, a Democratic lawyer argued in a memorandum to the Gore team that the validity of absentee ballots arriving after Election Day should be challenged. He had the law on his side in that particular instance — but not the politics.

As soon as the Republicans got hold of that memo, they realized that it was explosive. Why? Many of the late ballots the Democrats aimed to invalidate in Florida had been sent by military voters, and the idea of discarding the votes of service personnel was repellent to all Americans. Former Secretary of State James Baker, who was overseeing the Florida recount for Bush, swiftly denounced the Democratic plot against the soldiers, saying: "Here we have ... these brave young men and women serving us overseas. And the postmark on their ballot is one day late. And you're going to deny him the right to vote?"

Never mind the grammar; Baker's message was powerful — and was followed by equally indignant messages in the following days from a parade of prominent Bush backers including retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, the immensely popular commander of U.S. troops in the Desert Storm invasion that drove Saddam Hussein's army out of Kuwait. Fortuitously, Schwarzkopf happened to be on the scene as a resident of Florida.

As Jeffrey Toobin recounted in Too Close to Call, his superb book on the Florida 2000 fiasco, the Democrats had no choice but to retreat. "I would give the benefit of the doubt to ballots coming in from military personnel," conceded then-Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Gore's running mate, during a defensive appearance on Meet the Press. But Toobin says Gore soon realized that to reject military ballots would render him unable to serve as commander in chief — and that it would be morally wrong.

Fast-forward to 2020, when many of the same figures on the Republican side are now poised to argue that absentee ballots, which will include many thousands of military votes — should not be counted after Election Day, even if they arrived on time. Among those Republicans is Justice Kavanaugh, who made the opposite argument as a young lawyer working for Bush in Florida 20 years ago. Nobody expects legal consistency or democratic morality from a hack like him, but someone should force him and his Republican colleagues to own this moment of shame.

Who can do that? Joe Biden's campaign and the Democratic Party ought to be exposing the Republican assault on military ballots — and, by the same token, every legally valid absentee ballot — every day. But the Democrats notoriously lack the killer instinct of their partisan rivals, even at a moment of existential crisis like this one.

No, this is clearly a job for the ex-Republicans of the Lincoln Project, who certainly recall what happened in Florida in 2000. They have the attitude and aptitude of political assassins. They surely know how to raise hell over an issue like military votes — and now is the time to exercise those aggressive skills in defense of democracy.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at