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Laura Martin

To Win Big, We Must Dream First

November 2018’s blue wave handed Nevada Democrats full control over our state government for the first time in 27 years, and prompted some observers to imagine that we’re now “the state that liberal dreams are made of.” Democrats enjoy a trifecta in Nevada—control over both houses of the legislature and the governor’s mansion—but to Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN) Action, November’s blue wave accomplished something bigger. Nevadans helped elect progressive champions to government in the hope our politicians would embrace “co-governing,” in which elected officials remain responsive to their communities throughout their terms. But the fight for true co-governance is going to require more work than just voting in newly elected officials. Too many elected leaders are afraid to challenge the pro-business-at-any-cost consensus that has held sway in our state for more than a century and a half. It’s going to take a lot more than a Democratic majority with a handful of progressive champions to advance a people’s agenda in Nevada — and nationwide. For laws to change, lawmakers have to see the faces of the people they represent. Progressive organizations aren’t here to keep you in office: We’re here to transform our communities, liberate ourselves and our members from corporate greed and state violence. You think you have a tough reelection coming up? Think about how it would feel to lose your job, your house, or have no access to health care. That’s what we’re talking about. “As you enter positions of trust and power,” Toni Morrison once said, “dream a little before you think.” As progressives, we would do well to hear Morrison’s words, and remember that if we want to win big, we have to dream first.

Laura Martin is executive director of PLAN Action in Nevada, part of the People's Action network of progressive groups, who will host the Nevada People's Forum with leading presidential candidates in Las Vegas on October 26th.

White House Wants Full-On Constitutional Crisis

The GOP’s impeachment strategy gets sharper. Politico: "Ok, now we see for sure what the White House strategy is. It’s not only to refuse to cooperate in the impeachment probe, but it’s also practically to deny that Congress has any legitimate right to impeach President Trump - period. This shouldn’t be surprising. We’ve been headed in this direction for a while now. It basically ensures the president will be impeached for interfering with the work of Congress. In a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the three committee chairs leading the impeachment probe, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone all but declared that the Trump administration will refuse to engage with a process it considers to be constitutionally invalid. 'Given that your inquiry lacks any legitimate constitutional foundation, any pretense of fairness, or even the most elementary due process protections, the executive branch cannot be expected to participate in it,' Cipollone wrote. The eight-page letter reads more like a political document than a legal one, echoing many of President Donald Trump’s claims about the House Democrats who are investigating him. It also calls on Democrats to dismantle the process they set up to impeach Trump over allegations that he abused his power by pressuring Ukrainian leaders to help discredit his political rivals."

Senate Confirms Russia's Influence On 2016 Elections

A GOP-led Senate intel committee report states the obvious: Russia favored Trump in 2016. Vox: "The Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee just released a report that states the obvious, but in these times is quite damning for President Donald Trump: Russia directed a disinformation campaign during the 2016 election to hurt Hillary Clinton and favor Trump. The committee has spent three years conducting a bipartisan investigation into the extent of the Kremlin’s interference during the last presidential cycle. It released the first of its findings in July, showing that Moscow-linked hackers likely tried to access election systems in all 50 states. On Tuesday, the Senate panel released its second set of conclusions focused on Russia’s use of social media during the last campaign season. What it discovered was what US intelligence agencies have long assessed: Trump was Russia’s favorite. 'The Committee found that the IRA sought to influence the 2016 US presidential election by harming Hillary Clinton’s chances of success and supporting Donald Trump at the direction of the Kremlin,' the report reads using an acronym for the Internet Research Agency, the name for the group of the Russian hackers. They did this in multiple ways, according to the report. The IRA targeted African Americans more than any other group through Facebook pages, Instagram accounts, Twitter trends, and more. 'By far, race and related issues were the preferred target of the information warfare campaign designed to divide the country in 2016,' the committee wrote. The IRA also got unwitting targets to hand over personal information, sign petitions, attend rallies, and even teach self-defense classes."

SCOTUS Hears Arguments On Transgender, Gay Rights

Justice Gorsuch plays coy in LGBTQ employment rights case. NPR: "The retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy loomed large over arguments at the court Tuesday in a set of cases testing whether employers are free to fire gay and transgender employees. Kennedy, a Reagan appointee, was the author of every major gay-rights decision for more than two decades. His absence, and the presence of two new Trump appointees, could very well determine how these cases are decided, who wins, and who loses. Gorsuch, an adamant advocate for reading the text of a statute literally, admitted to a bit of a conundrum. Addressing ACLU lawyer David Cole, he said, 'Assume for the moment... I'm with you on the textual evidence,' but 'it's close ... very close.' The words of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act bar employment discrimination 'because of sex,' or "based on sex.' Solicitor General Noel Francisco, representing the Trump administration, replied that 'sex means whether you're male or female, not whether you're gay or straight.' But Justice Gorsuch suggested that if the employer who fired Bostock was given truth serum, the reason he would likely give for the firing was 'because this person was a man who liked other men?' It was one of the moments Gorsuch seemed to side with the gay employees. But there were many more when he seemed to go the other way. A decision is expected by the end of June."

U.S. Billionaires Now Pay Lower Taxes Than Working People

For the first time in history, U.S. billionaires paid a lower tax rate than the working class last year. WaPo: "A new book-length study on the tax burden of the ultrarich begins with a startling finding: In 2018, for the first time in history, America’s richest billionaires paid a lower effective tax rate than the working class. 'The Triumph of Injustice,' by economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman of the University of California at Berkeley, presents a first-of-its kind analysis of Americans’ effective tax rates since the 1960s. It finds that in 2018 the average effective tax rate paid by the richest 400 families in the country was 23 percent, a full percentage point lower than the 24.2 percent rate paid by the bottom half of American households. In 1980, by contrast, the 400 richest had an effective tax rate of 47 percent. In 1960, their tax rate was as high as 56 percent. The effective tax rate paid by the bottom 50 percent, by contrast, has changed little over time.

Trump's Turkish Collusion Will Cost Lives

Guess who else Trump is colluding with. Slate: "The president has ordered American forces to get out of the way of a Turkish invasion in Syria. The troop withdrawal looks like a distraction, but it isn’t. Trump is colluding with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, just as he has colluded with other authoritarians against the United States. The timeline of their relationship tells a story of disloyalty to America and its allies. Turkey infiltrates the Trump campaign. On July 19, 2016, Trump accepted the Republican nomination for president. Six days later, a Turkish-Dutch businessman opened secret talks with Trump’s foreign policy adviser, Michael Flynn. The businessman’s goal, in collaboration with Turkish officials, was to build support in Washington for the extradition of Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish dissident living in Pennsylvania. On Aug. 9, Flynn signed a $600,000 contract to execute the lobbying operation. He was introduced to Turkish government ministers who supported it. For the rest of the presidential campaign, Flynn worked, in effect, as a Turkish agent. On Monday, Trump tweeted farewell to the Kurds. 'The Kurds fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so,' he wrote. 'They have been fighting Turkey for decades. I held off this fight for almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out … ' On Tuesday, Trump praised Turkey as a 'big trading partner' and announced that Erdogan would soon be 'coming to the U.S. as my guest.' Erdogan’s visit won’t provoke the same outrage as a visit by Putin or Kim. And the Kurds betrayed by Trump, like the protesters beaten by Erdogan’s thugs in Washington, won’t get the same attention as Trump’s collusion with Russia or Ukraine. But Turkey is part of the story of Trump’s treachery. Erdogan, like Putin, Kim, and Zelensky, has learned that in the United States, as in other authoritarian countries, only one man really matters."

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