fresh voices from the front lines of change








Robert Borosage

Sowing Seeds Of Democratic Unity

There’s nothing like the intervention of a true racist to provide a sense of proportion. The public dispute between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the group of four young, electric, progressive female legislators of color known as the “squad”—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI)—was headed off the rails when Donald Trump butted in. Trump’s hate briefly sowed unity, as Pelosi defended the four legislators via tweet. But the tensions are not likely to go away, for this isn’t a “catfight,” as Kellyanne Conway put it, nor a misunderstanding caused by the generational divide between the speaker and the freshmen. This is a fight about what the Democratic Party stands for, the majority coalition it seeks to build, and the way it does politics. Though she’s lately received significant criticism from the left, Pelosi is the most effective and progressive speaker of the House in our time. The most powerful female elected leader in US history has been a forceful advocate for women’s rights and for increasing the influence of women in the House. That is what makes her repeated public denigration of the “squad” so jarring. Hopefully, Pelosi and the “squad” will meet together soon to call a cease-fire and agree to disagree. But the fundamental argument—over what the Democratic Party champions, how it builds its campaigns, and who it is prepared to fight for—has only just begun.

Candidates Back Ban On Factory Farms

Progressive presidential contenders court rural Iowa with ban on new factory farms. HuffPost: "Five Democratic presidential candidates ― former Housing Secretary Julián Castro, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and author Marianne Williamson ― are backing a ban on the creation of new “factory farms” and the expansion of existing ones as part of their efforts to court rural voters frustrated by the effects of industrial-scale livestock operations on their water supply and economy. The presidential hopefuls revealed their views in a candidate questionnaire circulated by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, the largest progressive organization in the state that will kick off primary season with its Feb. 3 caucus. The questionnaire, obtained by HuffPost, marks the first time that Warren or Castro has publicly declared support for a halt to factory farm expansion; Sanders’ support for a ban is on his campaign website."

SCOTUS May Gut Gun Protection Laws

The battle to save gun control by destroying it. ThinkProgress: "Just over a week ago, two mass shooters murdered more than two dozen Americans in a single weekend — bringing the total number of U.S. 'mass shootings' (incidents in which a person with a gun shot four or more people) to at least 251 this year. While the nation mourns these deaths, the Supreme Court is preparing to hear a case that could gut what little remains of American gun-control laws. The case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York, will be the first Second Amendment case heard by the high court in nearly a decade, and the first such case it’s heard since Brett Kavanaugh took over the seat previously held by the more moderate conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy. It’s also a case the Supreme Court has no business hearing — or, more specifically, no jurisdiction to hear. The law in question governed where New York City residents who possess a specific kind of permit are allowed to bring their guns, but it’s no longer in effect. Indeed, the New York City licensing regime challenged in this case has since been superseded by a New York State law giving the plaintiffs the exact same relief they claim to seek from the courts. If the Supreme Court follows the Constitution, in other words, it will dismiss this case. As a general rule, courts do not sit to give plaintiffs something that they already have. The open question is whether a Republican court eager to reshape America’s gun laws will reach beyond the judiciary’s role."

U.S. Only Welcomes Europeans, Says Trump Immigration Chief

'Just reciting white nationalist talking points': Trump immigration chief says Statue of Liberty poem only about Europeans. Common Dreams: "Continuing his efforts to put a right-wing and racist spin on the welcoming message etched on the Statue of Liberty, President Donald Trump's acting immigration chief Ken Cuccinelli told CNN Tuesday night that the famous poem by Emma Lazarus—'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free;—refers specifically to Europeans. After CNN anchor Erin Burnett quoted directly from the poem, Cuccinelli claimed it is "referring back to people coming from Europe where they had class-based societies, where people were considered wretched if they weren't in the right class.' As HuffPost's Sarah Ruiz-Grossman pointed out, however, the 'poem itself describes the Statue of Liberty by saying, 'From her beacon-hand/Glows world-wide welcome.'"

'Public Charge' Law Rooted In Racism

The history of 'Public Charge' requirements in U.S. immigration law. NPR: "Immigration largely at this point (in the 1880s) was from Northern and Western Europe. But it was beginning to consist increasingly of immigrations from Southern and Eastern Europe, as well as from Asia. And there was a lot more negative sentiment towards immigrants from the east and south of Europe and from Asia. It was applied in ways that might be a little bit different from the ways in which Mr. Cuccinelli is thinking about it, which is that it is true that immigration officials would exclude people whom they thought were likely to be public charges. This usually involves checking whether an entering immigrant had cash or whether they were ill, you know, whether they looked like they would turn to assistance, right? But it's important to keep in mind that this was before the rise of the modern welfare states."

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