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Monday, December 09, 2019

Tag: heritage foundation

Heritage Foundation Chief Hails Neo-Fascist Victory In Italian Election

The Heritage Foundation is ranked as the third most influential think tank – left or right – in the U.S. A right-wing Washington, D.C. organization, it’s where Donald Trump went to deliver a speech in April when he was trying to reposition himself as someone who was getting ready to run for president again, this time with “policies.”

Policies are what once made the Heritage Foundation the jewel of the conservative movement. It provided Ronald Reagan with the backbone of his body of work that transformed the American right into what it was until Trump took it over. It’s now home to at least four former top Trump administration officials, including former Vice President Mike Pence.

Critics on both sides of the aisle overnight were stunned and outraged when the new head of the Heritage Foundation, Dr. Kevin Roberts, applauded Italy’s election this weekend of a fascist, Giorgia Meloni, to be its new prime minister.

“Italy’s far-right coalition led by Meloni wins election, exit polls say,” is the headline at European news agency France 24, calling her a “neo-fascist.


Here in the U.S., ABC News’ headline reads: “How a party of neo-fascist roots won big in Italy.”

“A century after Benito Mussolini’s 1922 March on Rome, which brought the fascist dictator to power, Meloni is poised to lead Italy’s first far-right-led government since World War II and Italy’s first woman premier,” an article from the Associated Press makes clear.

It also makes clear Meloni’s fascist focus: “Yes to the natural family. No to the LGBT lobby. Yes to sexual identity. No to gender ideology,” the AP says she “thundered” at a rally.

The Heritage Foundation has assets of around $400 million. Its latest annual report, 2021, is titled, Always on Offense. The cover boasts a flattering quote praising the organization from former Trump secretary of state and possible 2024 presidential hopeful Mike Pompeo.

Dr. Kevin Roberts leads Heritage. He’s the former CEO of the far-right wing Texas Public Policy Foundation, based in Austin, Texas.

TPPF has received funding from Koch Industries, is a big supporter of school vouchers, and an even bigger supporter of climate change denialism.

Its Fueling Freedom Project, it says, is working to “Explain the forgotten moral case for fossil fuels.”

Back in 2016 Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott proposed nine major changes to the U.S. Constitution. He chose to make his announcement at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Those proposals could have led to the elimination of many federal LGBTQ protections, including same-sex marriage.

Dr. Roberts is a former president of Wyoming Catholic College. In 2015 he decided to opt out of accepting federal financial aid, citing the school’s religious beliefs against LGBTQ people as part of the reason.

“Roberts said that his university loves all people and has charity towards all, but they would have problems with the admissions and employment of transgender individuals or people with a same-sex sexual orientation,” Fox News reported at the time.

So perhaps it’s unsurprising that Roberts celebrated Italy’s election of a fascist leader with a strong anti-LGBTQ agenda Sunday evening – urging conservatives to fuel more elections of people like Meloni.

“If exit polls are right, then conservatives will come to power in Italy, just weeks after conservatives in Sweden won,” he tweeted, glossing over the fascistic aspects of their "conservatism."

“This can be a trend,” he urged, “conservatives everywhere need to define the choice as what it is—US vs THEM, everyday people vs globalist elites, who’ve shown they hate us.”

Roberts was highly criticized, even by fellow conservatives.

Tom Nichols, a staff writer at The Atlantic who is the popular and now retired U.S. Naval War College professor and an expert on Russia, nuclear weapons, and national security, blasted Roberts.

“The president of a DC think tank explains how he’s just a regular guy helping the little people against the globalists, and not all aligned with a political movement that trades in hateful rhetoric,” tweeted Nichols, a Never Trump conservative.

Former Bloomberg Opinion columnist Noah Smith who writes about economics at Substack, mocked Roberts.

“‘Globalist elites’? Man, you have a PhD and you’re the president of a think tank that fights for free trade. Who do you think you’re kidding??” he tweeted.

Brian Riedl, a senior fellow at the right wing Manhattan Institute, slammed Roberts’ remarks.

“I’d just like a party that stands for free markets, less government, originalist judges, strong defense, and against woke excess. Count me out with this Pat Buchanan-style tinfoil hat populism,” he tweeted, referring to the far-right anti-immigration former Nixon-Ford-Reagan advisor.

A former editor for the right wing Cato Institute also criticized Roberts.

“When the president of your think tank is cheering on the electoral victories of actual fascism, that’s probably a sign it’s time to resign from the organization if you’re an employee, or pull your dollars if you’re a donor. American conservatism mustn’t continue down this path,” warned Aaron Ross Powell.

“Recovering libertarian” writer and editor Jay Stooksberry also mocked Roberts.

“Careful, Kev. If I saw somebody with the title ‘Ph.D. and CEO of one of the largest, most influential think tanks in D.C.’, I’d assume they were one of the ‘global elite’. Us-versus-them populism is some raunchy, anti-intellectual, and dangerous thinking, my dude.”

Conservatives weren’t the only ones criticizing the Heritage Foundation head, with some seeing his “globalist elites” remarks as anti-Semitic.

“American fascists, crawling out of their holes,” wrote Jay Bookman, author and award-winning journalist.

“We see you and your cutesy code words. You want to embrace fascism? We will stop you and your ilk. Our democracy will destroy your fascism,” David Sugarman, an Oregon attorney, wrote.

Writer and director David Avallone did not mince words in response to Roberts’ remarks.

“L’Shanah Tovah, you absolute fucking Nazi scumbag,” he tweeted. “Stop being a pants shitting coward. Just say ‘Jews’ when you mean Jews.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

How Idaho Entrapped An Ex-Offender Into Voting Illegally

Laurie Erickson just came home from the Ada County Jail in Boise, Idaho.

Detained since March 1 of this year, Erickson admits she violated the law, although without any of the required intent.
Erickson voted in the 2020 presidential elections when she was on parole at the time for possession of a controlled substance, so she pleaded guilty to one count of felony illegal voting/interference with an election on June 23, 2022 which subjected her to a maximum prison sentence of five years and/or a $50,000 fine. She’s now serving a three-year sentence of probation for the new charge.

Erickson was working as a food delivery driver when parole officers picked her up. She’s back at it already, having dropped off orders from Chicago Pizza and Pojo’s Family Fun Center within an hour or two of walking out of the jail.

While she was detained, Erickson lost three months of income, though, and feared she’d lose her home. She didn’t, but only because her landlord likes her and her boyfriend, according to Mark Renick, Erickson’s friend and director of re-entry services at St. Vincent de Paul Southwest Idaho, a charity affiliated with the Catholic Church. If the landlord wasn’t fond of them, she’d likely be homeless right now.

So some luck wove its way into the plot line of Laurie’s recent past. But it's not all easy. Erickson has three months of back rent to pay and the court fees and costs stemming from the last three months total $1395.50 which she has to pay by July 2025, which is hard since that first shift delivering food she made $38.88. Only $100 of the total assessment is a punitive fine according to Renick.

Erickson’s story seems both cautionary — ineligible people shouldn’t cast ballots — and excessive — almost $15 per day for a charge that the state of Idaho didn’t really want to incarcerate her for (they had to take her into physical custody without a warrant because parolees aren’t allowed bond when charged with a new crime). It was an offense against the public order of Ada County, Idaho that the the Gem State ultimately valued at a whopping C-note.

The story seems unfortunate and preventable until one realizes that Erickson never sought the voter registration form that kicked off this mess. She received the form in the mail and returned it to get an absentee ballot; Idaho was one of 25 states where absentee ballots had to be procured by the voters themselves; counties were allowed to inform residents of this any way they chose and Ada County mailed out registration packets.

Erickson says she probably wouldn't have voted if the form didn’t arrive at her home unsolicited.

It’s not as if she was on a hunt for the form and just happened to pick one up at the parole office, where they’re available. Erickson says she saw signs when she was incarcerated on the original drug charge that said that once all fines and fees are paid and someone’s been out a year, they’re eligible to vote.

The signs, she says, were misleading because, when combined with the appearance of a voter registration form that arrived after she had been home for a year and paid off all of the legal financial obligations imposed by Idaho’s criminal legal system, they led her to believe she wasn’t committing a crime. She had no intent to break the law.

Initially, Erickson’s story sounds like entrapment. In Idaho, entrapment is an affirmative defense, with the burden of proof resting on the defendant who claims it. All Erickson would have had to do is prove that a state agent gave her the idea of voting --I'm looking at you, registrar who ordered forms mailed to residents because of the pandemic -- and that a state agent persuaded her to commit the crime. And she would have to show that she wasn’t ready and willing to vote as an ineligible person.

She could have tested this at trial, but Erickson was advised, incorrectly, by other inmates that there’s no entrapment defense in Idaho which is why she entered her plea of guilty last month.

Disenfranchised people voting isn’t a huge problem, numbers-wise. The conservative Heritage Foundation compiled a database of 1365 instances of proven illegal voting. Of those 1365, only 278 are for voting by an ineligible person. And of those 278 instances of voting by an ineligible person, only 77 were ballots cast by a person who was convicted of a felony whose rights had not been restored. Slightly over five percent of illegal votes are cast by people who’ve been disenfranchised by their status as convicted felons.

The larger problem is how situations like Erickson’s discourage positive and lawful conduct. “We are law abiding citizens and they act like we are scum because we voted,” she told me.

That’s a problem because voting correlates with lower recidivism. Offenders in states that permanently disenfranchise people are 10 percent more likely to reoffend. Back when former Florida Governor Charlie Crist re-enfranchised 155,315 offenders, less than one percent of the restored citizens recidivated, very likely because the ones who voted weren’t subject to arrest when they performed their duty as citizens.

In fact the better behaved parolees are more likely to land in a mess like this. According to Los Angeles attorney Arash Hashemi, who represents people on probation and parole, it’s the good parolees who can most easily fall victim to erroneous instruction.

"If you're actually someone who's trying to rehabilitate yourself and, you know, be a productive member of society, you're actually going to put your faith in your parole officer [and other government officials.]...So if they tell you you can go vote and you listen to them, then I think for them to later on say, no, you committed a crime is unfair,” said Hashemi in an interview.

Erickson should have done more due diligence and made an inquiry to her parole officer. But she didn’t see the need to do so because she was mailed the form. And even checking with a parole officer wouldn't have been dispositive. In North Carolina, where the voting rights status of people on probation and/or parole remains in limbo pending litigation, registration forms are still available at parole offices, where parolees may end up violating the law and the terms of their release if they vote.

You'd be surprised. A lot of people who were incarcerated when they get out, they're not that sophisticated with the everyday procedures that you and I take for granted," Hashemi said.

Erickson will be eligible to vote again in Idaho in 2025, after the 2024 presidential election. “I know all I want to know now…enough that I’ll never vote again,” she texted me.

It’s not the best news I’ve heard from someone who’s just been set free.

If you would like to donate to the Facebook fundraiser to help Laurie Erickson get back on her feet, please do so here.


Chandra Bozelko did time in a maximum-security facility in Connecticut. While inside she became the first incarcerated person with a regular byline in a publication outside of the facility. Her “Prison Diaries" column ran in The New Haven Independent, and she later established a blog under the same name that earned several professional awards. Her columns now appear regularly in The National Memo.

Partisan Battles In Swing States Are Costing Democracy Dearly

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Like endless candidate fundraising, partisan battles over accessing a ballot and voting have become akin to a "permanent campaign" in America's battleground states—where voters often decide which party holds national power.

Not every state's voters determine which party wins congressional majorities and the presidency. But among the states that tip these outcomes, partisan battles over the ease or difficulty of voting have become ongoing features of their political life—bleeding over from completed elections into state legislative sessions and forcing voters and local election officials to pivot as the cycle continues.

In America's 2020 general election, voters had more options than ever to vote—due to state responses to the pandemic. They set turnout records. But partisan fights over voting rules did not stop after Election Day, nor after the Electoral College met, nor after Donald Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

In January, as lawmakers convened in the battleground states with Republican governors and GOP-majority statehouses, Republicans introduced a wave of restrictive voting legislation. Not every bill had traction, but bills rolling back access to a ballot and options to return it moved in Iowa, New Hampshire, Georgia, Arizona, Florida and Texas. In March, Iowa became the first state to enact rollbacks into laws, immediately triggering a lawsuit claiming that the restrictions violated its state constitution's right of equal access to a ballot. Advocates for Latino voters and the Democratic Party filed the lawsuit.

Republicans introduced similar bills in other battleground states with Democratic governors, such as in Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin. But unlike in the red-led states where some of the bills may yet become law, these states lack sufficient numbers of Republican legislators to override gubernatorial vetoes. In other words, their efforts attacking voting and undermining confidence in the most democratic of public institutions are posturing mostly intended to placate their base after Democrats swept control of Congress and the White House.

Either way, partisan fights over the options to access and cast a ballot appear to have become an ongoing feature in battleground states. This development is akin to what campaign consultants first coined as a "permanent campaign" during the 1970s, referring to nonstop "image making and strategic calculation." The most disturbing aspects of permanent campaigns, according to scholars, are how they disrupt and distort political representation, governing and now, voting.

"No one planned such an emergent pattern in the general management of our public affairs, yet it now seems to lie at the heart of the way Americans do politics—or more accurately—the way politics is done to Americans," wrote Hugh Heclo, for a joint publication in 2000 from the Brookings Institution and American Enterprise Institute on permanent campaigns.

With fundraising, the endless drive to raise big money skews a candidate's time and attention. With voting, many lawmakers are driven to revise the rules to benefit their party. After 2020, some Democrat-led states, like Virginia, passed several laws expanding ballot access. But many more Republican-led states have sought to make voting harder. These power grabs often ignore warnings from election officials about deliberately complicating the process for voters and election administrators, which is what has been unfolding in Florida over a Republican proposal to ban absentee ballot drop boxes.

Another feature of the permanent voting wars is the nonstop campaigning that now surrounds the rules for casting ballots. In Georgia, for example, which arguably has the nation's most intense post-election battles—after ex-President Trump lost its 2020 general election and its two GOP senators lost in January's runoffs—Democrats and their allies have responded to restrictive GOP bills with lobbying, media, and calls to boycott Republicans' corporate donors. Ahead of the early March NBA all-star game, superstar LeBron James and his More Than a Vote group created a TV ad criticizing the Georgia rollbacks and emphasizing that this is a long-term struggle for representative government.

The GOP efforts in red-led swing states are also striking. Notably, Republican lawmakers are justifying their proposed rollbacks by citing falsehoods about voters and voting. The most activist Republican lawmakers continue to cast doubt on the legitimacy of 2020's presidential results, even after ex-Trump administration officials—starting with former Attorney General William Barr—stated there was no widespread election fraud. The professional organizations for top state election officials have repeatedly said that 2020's general election was the most transparent, secure, and problem-free exercise in decades—from a voting and vote counting perspective. But that hasn't stopped GOP attacks.

Some of these lies have been around for years, such as falsely claiming that the country is plagued by massive illegal voting—voter fraud by Democrats. Other lies are newer, such as Trump's evidence-free claim of millions of stolen votes.

While what unfolds inside statehouses may appear to be inside local political ecosystems, some of the falsehood-filled messaging and strategic calculations are coming from the Republican National Committee and its top partisan allies.

As Mandi Merritt, an RNC spokeswoman, recently told the Washington Post, the national party "remains laser focused on protecting election integrity, and that includes aggressively engaging at the state level on voting laws and litigating as necessary." She continued, "Democrats have abandoned any pretense that they still care about election issues."

On March 8, Fox News reported that Heritage Action, the grassroots front of the right-wing Heritage Foundation—which has, for years, perpetuated a myth that illegal voting is widespread and a blight—"plan[ned] to spend at least $10 million on efforts [media and ads] to tighten election security laws in eight key swing states."

"Fair elections are essential," said Heritage Action Executive Director Jessica Anderson. The group's website had links to a February 1 "factsheet" that listed purported problems that largely do not exist—such as failures to update voter rolls. (More than half the states cooperate on this task, including sharing more reliable data than these partisans advocate.)

While Heritage Action's swing-state ads will seek to sound authoritative as they fan fears about voting, its much-hyped "Election Fraud Database" bears scrutiny. Nationally, in 2020's election cycle, where more than 155 million people voted for president—and tens of millions more voted in primaries—Heritage's database only cited five examples of illegal voting by individuals. It cited examples of people illegally signing qualifying petitions for candidates and ballot measures, and also falsifying absentee ballot applications in 2020. But these latter illegal activities were detected by officials and prosecuted, meaning, among other things, that this handful of potentially illegal ballots were caught, not cast. More importantly, Heritage's numbers attest to the fact that illegal voting is very rare and almost always detected before it counts.

But such facts are often lost when more simplistic partisan disinformation and smears race ahead, often amplified by social media sites that elevate incendiary content that attracts readers, which is what advertisers seek. Such propaganda perpetuates fake narratives that mask the real agenda: gaming election results.

"The right-wing is organizing and spending millions to enact voter suppression laws," tweeted Marc Elias, who leads the national Democratic Party's legal team, in response to the Fox News report on Heritage Action's propaganda campaign.

The reality of permanent campaigns to reshuffle voting options and rules in battleground states is yet another sign that an even-handed federal response is vital. Whether the remedy is the Democrats' omnibus election reform bill, H.R. 1, or the narrower restoration of the Voting Rights Act's enforcement provisions, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, remains to be seen. But as Brookings and AEI scholar Hugh Heclo noted a generation ago, the "permanent campaign" is eroding foundational features of representative government.

"[B]y the beginning of the twenty-first century, American national politics had gone past a mentality of campaigning to govern. It had reached the more truly corrupted condition of governing to campaign," he wrote. "It is no exaggeration to use the imagery of true 'corruption' in its classic sense—something much darker than money or sex scandals."

"We can know quite well from history when democratic politics is passing from degradation to debauchery. That happens when leaders teach a willing people to love illusions—to like nonsense because it sounds good. That happens when a free people eventually come to believe that whatever pleases them is what is true."

Is There A Global Future For Unions?

I was raised in a company house in a company town where the miners had to buy their own oilers—that is, rubber coveralls—drill bits and other tools at the company store.

That company, Inco Limited, the world’s leading producer of nickel for most of the 20th century, controlled the town of Sudbury, Ontario, but never succeeded in owning the souls of the men and women who lived and worked there.

That’s because these were union men and women, self-possessed, a little rowdy and well aware that puny pleas from individual workers fall on deaf corporate ears.

As I prepare to retire in a couple of days, 54 years after starting work as a copper puncher at the Inco smelter, the relationship between massive, multinational corporations and workers is different.

Unions represent a much smaller percentage of workers now, so few that some don’t even know what a labor organization is—or what organized labor can accomplish. That is the result of deliberate, decades-long attacks on unions by corporations and the rich. They intend to own not only workers’ time and production but their very souls.

I’d like to tell you the story of Inco because it illustrates the arc of labor union ascendance and attenuation over the past 72 years since I was born in Sudbury.

When I was a boy, the Inco workers, about 19,000 of them, were represented by the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers. The union was gathering strength. My dad, Wilfred Gerard, was among the rabble-rousers. We lived just a few miles from the mine, and workers would gather at the house. Someone would bring a case of beer, and my mom would make egg salad or bologna sandwiches.

Conditions in the mine were terrible, and these workers were organizing to achieve change. I recall them talking about a work stoppage over safety glasses. I was amazed that they would have to take action like that to get essential work equipment. The company, I thought, should voluntarily take this simple step to ensure workers were not unnecessarily injured on the job.

I learned two important lessons from sitting on the steps and listening to those meetings. One was that the company would do nothing for the workers unless forced by collective action. The other was that labor unions were instruments of both economic and social justice.

I started work in the smelter at age 18 after graduating high school. My mother told my girlfriend, Susan, my future wife, not to let me get involved in the union because if I did, I would be gone all of the time. For a few years, I resisted union activism. Still, I carried a copy of the labor contract in my pocket, pulled out just high enough so the boss could see it. I knew what it said, and I wanted him to know I knew.

In 1967, when I was 20, the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers merged with the United Steelworkers (USW), and I became a USW member.

It didn’t take long for the guys at the smelter to see that I had a big mouth. And in 1969, they petitioned for me to become a shop steward. That was the beginning. My mom was right. It did mean I was gone much of the time.

I got myself demoted so I could work day shifts and attend college at night. On day shift, I noticed the company was using a bunch of contractors. Many were performing work that was supposed to be done by union members. Other contractors sat in their trucks parked behind the warehouse doing nothing. So I got about six guys to help me track and record the violations every day.

Then we would file grievances against the company. We could not win because the contract language was weak at that point, but we took it through all the stages of grieving, and it cost Inco money. That made the bosses furious.

So they took it out on me. You have to be prepared for that if you are going to be an activist. They made me rake rocks that had fallen off the mine trucks onto the road. They made me pick up trash in the parking lot. They tried to humiliate me. But I always found a way to comply without bowing to them.

The advantage we had in those days was that they thought they were smarter than us. They didn’t understand that we were a team and we stuck together, so there was no way they were going to own us.

That was the 1960s, a different time. Union membership in the United States rose through 1965, when nearly one in three workers belonged. In Canada, the rise continued through 1985, when the rate was 38 percent. The drop-off in the United States was fairly slow until 1980, when it plummeted to 23.2 percent. It has now fallen to 10.5 percent. In Canada, the decline was steady, but much slower. The rate there remains 30.1 percent, close to the all-time high in the United States.

The difference is that in the United States, corporations and conservatives engaged in a successful campaign, beginning in 1971, to seize power from workers and propagandize for what they euphemistically called free enterprise. Really, it’s cutthroat capitalism. The upshot is that U.S. workers have more difficulty forming unions than Canadians, and U.S. corporations can more easily lock workers out of their jobs and hire strikebreakers. The intent is to enable corporations to own their workers, lock, stock and soul.

Lewis Powell, the late U.S. Supreme Court justice, launched this drive to crush labor, the left and environmentalists in the United States with a memo he wrote in 1971 for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and distributed to corporate leaders.

Powell told the Chamber that it had to organize businesses into a political force because, he claimed, corporations and the free market system were “under broad attack,” and in “deep trouble.” He inveighed against regulations sought by car safety activist Ralph Nader, by environmentalists petitioning for clean air and water and by unions demanding less deadly mines and manufacturing. He castigated those on the left pursuing a fairer, safer and more humane society.

Businesses must cultivate political power, and wield it, Powell said, to secure “free market” advantages, such as tax breaks and loopholes specifically for corporations and the rich.

Powell also told the Chamber: “Strength lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations.”

That is exactly what the Chamber achieved. It catalyzed a business movement, funded by wealthy conservative family and corporate foundations, including those of Coors, Olin, Scaife and Koch, to name a few. The foundations sponsored conservative professors at universities and right-wing “non-profits” such as the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, Americans for Prosperity, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which provides junkets for right-wing lawmakers at which it encourages them to champion anti-union and anti-worker legislation. These groups bankrolled conservative candidates and secured appointments of conservative judges.

Between the end of World War II and 1970, during the rise of unions, workers’ incomes rose with productivity. Income inequality declined, and North America became home to the largest middle class in history. After 1970 and the Chamber effort to implement the Powell manifesto, unions declined and workers’ wages stagnated. Virtually all new income and profits went to CEOs, stockholders and the already rich. The middle class dwindled as income inequality rose to Gilded Age levels.

This occurred at the same time that corporations expanded, becoming massive multinationals, with facilities sprawled across the world and without allegiance to any country. This happened to Inco. Vale, a Brazilian corporation, bought it in 2006, and now Vale is a true multinational with facilities worldwide.

Multinationals spurned their obligation to serve workers, consumers, communities, and shareholders. Instead, they focused only on shareholders, the rest be damned. They closed factories in the United States and Canada and moved them to places like Mexico and China, with low wages and lax environmental laws. They exploited foreign workers and destroyed North American workers’ lives and communities.

As far back as the 1970s, the USW, the AFL-CIO, as well as the textile, shoe, steel, and other industry leaders, warned Congress about what this trend, combined with increasing imports, meant for American workers and their neighborhoods. In 1973, after the United States experienced its first two years of trade deficits in a century, I.W. Abel, then president of the USW, urged Congress “to slow the massive flood of imports that are sweeping away jobs and industries in wholesale lots.”

Congress’ failure to heed this alarm resulted in the collapse of the U.S. textile and shoe industries and many others. It very nearly killed the steel industry, which has suffered tsunami after tsunami of bankruptcies, gunpoint mergers, and mill closures. Tens of thousands of family-supporting jobs were lost and communities across both the United States and Canada hollowed out. In 1971 and 1972, the trade deficit totaled $8.4 billion. Last year it was $621 billion. Every imported toy, shoe, bolt of cloth, and ingot of steel means fewer U.S. factories and jobs and more struggling towns.

The USW presidents who followed Abel—Lloyd McBride and Lynn R. Williams—escalated the battle against offshored factories and unfairly traded imports. The USW even filed suit to try to stop the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) because Williams, like independent presidential candidate Ross Perot, saw that it would suck Canadian and U.S. factories and jobs south of the Mexican border.

The late USW President George Becker and I agitated for change, confronting and cajoling presidents and prime ministers and members of Congress and Parliament. The USW martialed all of its forces, including activists in its Women of Steel and NextGen programs, the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees, and its Rapid Response coordinators. Tens of thousands of workers rallied, camped out in Washington, D.C., harangued lawmakers and sent postcards.

Working with allies in the community, such as environmental and human rights groups, faith and food safety organizations, together we have won some short-term relief measures. These include the tariffs on imported steel and aluminum imposed last year and the defeat of the proposed new trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership that would have extended NAFTA problems across Pacific Rim countries.

In the decades that the USW battled bad trade, I moved through the ranks, from staff representative, to District Director to Canadian National Director to USW Secretary-Treasurer. Among my goals was to forge international workers’ alliances to combat the corporate cabals that always got seats at the table to write the trade deals that worked against workers. When I was elected USW president in 2001, one of my top priorities was expanding the union’s coalitions.

Now the USW participates in three global unions, which together represent more than 82 million workers in more than 150 countries worldwide. The USW and partner unions also created more than two dozen global councils of workers, including those for workers at ArcelorMittal, BASF, Bridgestone, DowDuPont and Gerdau. These employers quickly learned that taking on workers at one factory meant taking on workers at all of their workplaces internationally.

In 2005, the USW and the Mexican miners’ union known as Los Mineros formed a strategic alliance. And the USW gave Los Mineros General Secretary Napoleon Gomez sanctuary in Canada when he was unjustly accused of wrongdoing by a Mexican government intent on shutting him up after a mine disaster.

In 2008, the USW joined with Unite the Union, the second largest union in the UK and Ireland, forming Workers Uniting to fight exploitation and injustice globally. And the USW formed alliances with union federations in Australia and Brazil, where the organization is known as the CUT.

This international brotherhood and sisterhood stood with Canadian mine and smelter workers for a year beginning in July 2009.

During its first negotiations with the USW, Vale, the Brazilian corporation that bought Inco, demanded harsh concessions from its thousands of Canadian workers. Though Vale was highly profitable, it said it wouldn’t even bargain with the USW unless the workers first accepted the cuts. That forced them out on strike.

I started talking regularly with the head of the CUT in Brazil to strategize and plan joint actions. Brazilian workers and community groups wholeheartedly supported their Canadian brothers and sisters. They demonstrated in front of the Vale headquarters and threw red paint—symbolizing blood—on the building. They shut down traffic with all sorts of street actions. They protested at the Vale shareholders meeting, inside and out.

They also traveled to Canada, in force with flags, for a rally in Sudbury in March of 2010, when the strike was eight months old and banks were repossessing some workers’ cars and foreclosing on homes. By then, Vale had 100,000 workers in mines and smelters across the world. Supporters from many of those communities—in Asia, Africa, Europe, and Australia—joined thousands of Canadians who marched through the streets that cold day.

Vale could see that its Canadian workers, in Sudbury, Port Colborne, and Voisey’s Bay, were not alone. They had allies from around the world willing to stand up to the giant multinational.

The strike ended 12 long months after it started. We didn’t get everything we wanted, but we certainly didn’t accept Vale’s concessionary demands. Vale failed to accomplish its mission, which was to spread to all of its operations worldwide the authoritarian, top-down, nasty management practices that it had honed in Brazil. The proof of that is the next round of negotiations with Vale went fairly well, and we got an honorable settlement.

Now, for labor to secure gains, in the United States or Canada or anywhere, workers must mobilize. We have to bring everyone together, women, men, poor people, people of color, gay people—all working people.  None of us is big enough or developed enough to win this fight alone.

If we fight together, I can’t guarantee we will win. But if we don’t fight for justice, I can guarantee we will lose.

Since none of us is willing to owe our souls to the company store, we’re going to have to find ways to continue building coalitions robust enough to confront capital and win the battle for economic and social justice.

Leo W. Gerard is the international president of the United Steelworkers Union (USW).

This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute.

The Very Strange Case Of Stephen Moore

What can you say about Stephen Moore? That his economic views tend toward the nutty, and his research is a slop job? That his juvenile fear of females borders on the pathetic — and that he didn’t find them too embarrassing to air? That he’s Donald Trump’s pick to serve on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors? Yes, but we repeat ourselves.

Fed board members have been liberal, and they have been conservative. Many no doubt harbored sexist views. But there was never a nominee who wrote things like, “No one seems to care much that coed sports is doing irreparable harm to the psyche of America’s little boys.”

He doesn’t like grown-up coed play, either. He called letting women join men in pickup games a “travesty.” (Just wondering what business it is of his whether men choose to play sports with women.)

Something must have happened to the poor lad. Did some girl beat him at pingpong in the third grade?

Were he a star economist, we might avert our eyes from the strangeness of his social scribbles. But Moore’s economic musings are off the wall as well. He’s supported a return to the gold standard. He predicted that George W. Bush’s policies would lead to an economic golden age and that inflation would soar under Barack Obama. Wrong and wrong.

Then there’s his “scholarship.” I used to cite studies from The Heritage Foundation when the conservative think tank was producing solid research. Then Heritage sold its soul to the partisan swamp, out of which Moore rose as Heritage’s chief economist.

Under that title, he submitted a column in 2014 so shot through with error that The Kansas City Star vowed to never publish him again.

His thesis was that low taxes produce explosive job growth. As evidence, Moore wrote that “over the last five years,” no-income-tax Texas gained 1 million jobs while high-tax California lost jobs. For the same reasons, Florida added hundreds of thousands of jobs while New York lost jobs.

Whoops. He wasn’t using numbers from the previous five years but from December 2007 to 2012. But even those numbers were wrong. In fact, Texas gained not a million but 497,400 jobs. Florida actually lost 461,500 jobs during that period — while New York gained 75,900 jobs.

“He seemed OK with a correction,” Miriam Pepper, then the Star’s editorial page editor, told me. “But as we dug deeper he got more difficult, then hostile.” She added: “I’m surprised Heritage isn’t embarrassed.”

There are smart fabricators and dumb ones. Only the dimwitted would try to pass off stats that any boy — or girl — with basic computer skills could have countered with a visit to the Bureau of Labor Statistics site.

In his personal finances, Moore is a double deadbeat. He owes more than $75,000 in unpaid taxes. And a court held him in contempt for not paying his ex-wife $300,000 as part of a divorce agreement.

This is the man who brooded: “What are the implications of a society in which women earn more than men? We don’t really know, but it could be disruptive to family stability. If men aren’t the breadwinners, will women regard them as economically expendable?”

Moore the breadwinner is also Moore the stud. Allison Moore’s 2010 divorce complaint noted that he had created a Match.com account and had an affair. She says he told her and their children, “I have two women, and what’s really bad is when they fight over you.”

Add Moore’s economic ignorance to his arrested development and you have a highly flawed character. May the Federal Reserve Board — and the public it serves — be spared his presence.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

IMAGE: Stephen Moore of the Heritage Foundation, Trump nominee to the Federal Reserve Board.

Trump Will Name Heritage Foundation ‘Hack’ To Federal Reserve Board

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

President Donald Trump plans to appoint right-wing “economist” Stephen Moore to the Federal Reserve Board, and people who know anything about actual economics (and basic factual reporting) are livid.

Moore, a fellow with the conservative Heritage Foundation, is best known for appearing on TV, talking about the economy, and completely botching his facts.

Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and columnist for the New York Times, lambasted the nomination of Moore, whom he has sparred with many times in the past.

“Moore isn’t just a hack, with terrible judgment,” Krugman said on Twitter. “He’s a hack who has repeatedly shown himself unable even to get basic facts right.”

Binyamin Applebaum, another Times columnist, noted that Moore once “got so many facts wrong that the Kansas City Star’s editorial page editor vowed never to publish his work again.”

Indeed, he wrote a column trying to argue that low-tax states do better than high tax states, and he included this error-ridden passage:

No-income-tax Texas gained 1 million jobs over the last five years; California, with its 13 percent tax rate, managed to lose jobs. Oops. Florida gained hundreds of thousands of jobs while New York lost jobs. Oops.

In fact, as Kansas City Star columnist Yael Abouhalkah pointed out, in addition to choosing a particularly problematic time period to make this judgment, his numbers were just wrong:

Texas did not gain 1 million jobs in the 2007-2012 period Moore measured. The correct figure was a gain of 497,400 jobs.

Florida did not add hundreds of thousands of jobs in that span. It actually lost 461,500 jobs.

New York, with [its] very high income tax rates, did not lose jobs during that time. It gained 75,900 jobs.

Miriam Pepper, an editor of the Kansas City Star, told the Columbia Journalism Review after the incident that his errors were so egregious that she “won’t be running anything else from Stephen Moore.”

Krugman noted that, in addition to this spectacular mistake, Moore was completely unrepentant when his predictions about Kansas’ tax cuts were refuted.

“He made a bad prediction, which happens — but refused to learn from the error, falsified facts, and doubled down on his doctrine,” said Krugman.

Need more convincing? Here he is getting the budget deficit — a simple government accounting measure — completely wrong. Here he is completely botching the facts about the Reagan tax cuts. Here he is making up facts on CNN.

After spending much of his career shilling for the GOP, Moore has since become completely bought-in to Trump’s takeover of the party. Proving he’ll do anything to stay in the good graces of the Republican Party, the Heritage Foundation fellow wrote a book called Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive Our Economy lavishly praising the president’s policies, despite increasing evidence that the White House’s boasting is baseless.

Which is just to say, given his record of repeating disgrace, he seems to have the perfect resume to appeal to a president who lives in the world of “alternative facts.”

Here’s Who Trump Could Add To His Ridiculous SCOTUS List

After releasing a list of 11 potential Supreme Court nominees Wednesday, Donald Trump said that he may add more names to his list.

He hadn’t mentioned such a plan before releasing the 11 names. Apparently, though Trump says they were “very well received,” they just weren’t enough for the ultraconservatives he’s trying to reassure.

Donald Trump started his hunt for the perfect justice with an invitation to the Heritage Foundation in March. Give me a list, he said, and that’s who I’ll consider. Five of Trump’s first 11 names are from the Heritage Foundation’s list, which is made up ofmostly traditional conservative choices — meaning they hold radical views on abortion, corporate speech, environmental protections, and the place of religion in public life.

The Heritage Foundation itself, conveniently, publicly released that list of “highly qualified, principled individuals” that “the new president should consider” just a week after Donald Trump asked them for it. Perhaps Trump will include the list’s remaining judges left behind when he again breaks with precedent and preemptively releases possible names before being elected to anything.

He could include Brett Kavanaugh, a Bush-appointed justice serving alongside Merrick Garland on the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Kavanaugh was recommended by the Heritage Foundation as a suitable replacement for Antonin Scalia, and he has a solid record of towing the Republican Party’s line, even to the point of offering “advice to the Republicans who are challenging Obama,” according to a 2012 piece in The New Yorker.

He was the sole justice in the three-justice circuit court to dissent from a ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act that year, saying that the lawsuit was premature. Instead, he wrote in his dissent, “Under the Constitution, the President may decline to enforce a statute that regulates private individuals when the President deems the statute unconstitutional, even if a court has held or would hold the statute constitutional.” That president would presumably be a Republican.

There’s also Paul Clement, the 43rd U.S. solicitor general, a Bush appointee, who is now in private practice. He also fought against the Affordable Care Act, arguing that the government forcing people to buy health insurance was just the start.

“He has become, in the Obama age, a sort of anti–solicitor general—the go-to lawyer for some of the Republican Party’s most significant, and polarizing, legal causes,” said a New York Magazine profile in 2012. “In January, he argued before the Court, on behalf of Rick Perry, against a Texas congressional-redistricting plan that had been crafted by a federal-district court to protect minority voters. Next month, he’ll defend Arizona’s restrictive immigration law.”

Clement also defended the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act on behalf of congressional Republicans and fought against the Obama administration’s attempts to block South Carolina’s voter ID laws.

The last remaining candidate on the Heritage Foundation’s list of Supreme Court nominees was Utah Representative and Tea Party darling Mike Lee, now known for using a procedural hold to block a vote on federal assistance to Flint, Michigan in the aftermath of revelations that the city’s water supply was tainted with lead, claiming that the city, neglected for years by the state government, did not need federal aid.

“The people and policymakers of Michigan right now have all the government resources they need to fix the problem,” said Lee. “The only thing Congress is contributing to the Flint recovery is political grandstanding.”

According to a govtrack.us ideology score, Lee is among one of the most conservative members of the Senate based on the bills he has sponsored, sitting to the right of all but three Republican senators. He was also the first senator to endorse Ted Cruz, the man so hated in Congress that John Boehner claimed he was “Lucifer in the flesh.”

Are there more conservatives out there Trump will look to add to his list? Probably. But given his promise to outsource the job of Supreme Court nominations to a right wing think tank, watching what the Heritage Foundation says is likely a good predictor.