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MORNING MESSAGE

Andrea Flynn

What Breast Cancer Taught Me About Unequal Health Care

Every weekday for six weeks this fall, I had radiation for early-stage breast cancer. October 9th was my last treatment. This journey has been a lesson in privilege, structural inequality and our broken social and economic systems. But even though my cancer was early stage, the treatment process was intense and took its toll. After the surgery, I had more follow-up visits with a radiation oncology team. That was followed by six weeks of radiation treatment, five days a week (which again I had to accommodate into my work schedule). Over the last five months the same questions have been plaguing me. What If I were an hourly or low-wage worker? My health condition could have lost me my job and the ability to financially support my family. What if I didn’t have a generous employer who provided paid leave? The last five months have convinced me more than ever before that this must be the year that progressives unapologetically center women. Those whose health access and outcomes are shaped by our country’s long legacy of racism and sexism and the toxic combination of both. I’m done with radiation and done with breast cancer, but I’m not done with this fight.

Andrea Flynn is a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, where she researches race, gender. and economic inequality.

House Presents Impeachment Evidence

Evidence to be Presented on Impeachment. NYT: “The House Judiciary Committee opens a new phase in the impeachment inquiry on Monday as it hears evidence presented by Democratic and Republican lawyers before moving on to consider proposed articles of impeachment against President Trump later this week. Democrats appear poised to accuse Mr. Trump of abuse of power and bribery for pressuring Ukraine to help him incriminate Democratic rivals while withholding American security aid. They also expect to charge him with obstructing the congressional investigation by defying subpoenas, blocking current and former administration officials from testifying, and trying to intimidate those who have. Less clear is whether they will include charges of obstruction of justice for trying to impede the Russia investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. In his report last spring, Mr. Mueller submitted evidence of 10 instances of possible obstruction but said he could not judge whether they were illegal. Attorney General William P. Barr, a Trump appointee, declared that the president’s actions were not illegal, but Democrats dismiss his judgment as skewed and partisan.

McKinsey Helped ICE Deport Immigrants

How McKinsey helped the Trump administration detain and deport immigrants. ProPublica: “Just days after he took office in 2017, President Donald Trump set out to make good on his campaign pledge to halt illegal immigration. In a pair of executive orders, he ordered ‘all legally available resources’ to be shifted to border detention facilities and called for hiring 10,000 new immigration officers. The logistical challenges were daunting, but as luck would have it, Immigration and Customs Enforcement already had a partner on its payroll: McKinsey & Company, an international consulting firm brought on under the Obama administration to help engineer an ‘organizational transformation’ in the ICE division charged with deporting migrants who are in the United States unlawfully. ICE quickly redirected McKinsey toward helping the agency figure out how to execute the White House’s clampdown on illegal immigration. But the money-saving recommendations the consultants came up with made some career ICE staff uncomfortable. They proposed cuts in spending on food for migrants, as well as on medical care and supervision of detainees, according to interviews with people who worked on the project for both ICE and McKinsey and 1,500 pages of documents obtained from the agency after ProPublica filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act. McKinsey’s team also looked for ways to accelerate the deportation process, provoking worries among some ICE staff members that the recommendations risked short-circuiting due process protections for migrants fighting removal from the United States. The consultants, three people who worked on the project said, seemed focused solely on cutting costs and speeding up deportations — activities whose success could be measured in numbers — with little acknowledgment that these policies affected thousands of human beings.”

Southern States Take Action On HR1 Reforms

Southern states take up fight for bold democracy reforms. Truthout: “n Jan. 3 of this year, the first day of the 116th U.S. Congress, the new Democratic majority in the House introduced as its first bill a sweeping reform of the country’s elections. H.R. 1, the For the People Act, a bold package of measures aimed at improving voting access, tackling Big Money’s corrupting influence in politics, and bolstering ethics rules. The Washington Post called it ‘perhaps the most comprehensive political-reform proposal ever considered by our elected representatives.’ The wide-ranging bill, expertly led to passage in the House by lead sponsor Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Maryland) and endorsed by a broad coalition including the Communications Workers of America, NAACP, and Sierra Club, was inspired by a key insight: that in the current political moment, marked by deep voter cynicism about corruption and rigged elections, piecemeal reforms aren’t enough. What is needed, Sarbanes and other Democrats reasoned, is a far-reaching plan that outlines how all aspects of democracy can work better, and only a bill that tackles voting rights, Big Money, and ethics reform together could offer that larger vision. Taking inspiration from Congress and H.R. 1 — and eyeing recent and potential future Democratic gains in state politics — advocates are proposing far-reaching, pro-democracy agendas across the South. While these plans face an uphill battle in even friendly political environments, democracy reformers see these big-picture agendas as a chance to be proactive and go on offense after years of playing legal and political defense.”

We Knew We Were Losing In Afghanistan

A secret history of the Afghanistan war. WaPo: “A confidential trove of government documents obtained by The Washington Post reveals that senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable. The documents were generated by a federal project examining the root failures of the longest armed conflict in U.S. history. They include more than 2,000 pages of previously unpublished notes of interviews with people who played a direct role in the war, from generals and diplomats to aid workers and Afghan officials. The U.S. government tried to shield the identities of the vast majority of those interviewed for the project and conceal nearly all of their remarks. The Post won release of the documents under the Freedom of Information Act after a three-year legal battle. In the interviews, more than 400 insiders offered unrestrained criticism of what went wrong in Afghanistan and how the United States became mired in nearly two decades of warfare. With a bluntness rarely expressed in public, the interviews lay bare pent-up complaints, frustrations and confessions, along with second-guessing and backbiting.”

Trump Mulls Pardons For Convicted Aides

Possible pardons loom for former Trump aides. Politico: “Roger Stone’s supporters are making a pardon pitch everywhere President Donald Trump looks: Fox News, InfoWars, Twitter, even the White House driveway. Michael Flynn abruptly hired a bombastic lawyer who spouts Trump-friendly theories about FBI duplicity that are widely seen as a pardon play. Paul Manafort has kept himself on Trump’s radar from behind bars in a federal penitentiary by feeding the president’s personal attorney a conspiracy theory that Ukraine, and not Russia, interfered in the 2016 campaign. In any other administration, and in any other time, it’d be shocking to consider that three men with such deep personal ties to the president might get their legal troubles expunged in an election year — not to mention from a president facing impeachment proceedings. But this is not any other administration. The clemency calculations come because Stone, Flynn and Manafort — all former Trump campaign aides — know the president has repeatedly proven willing to trample over his own advisers despite warnings of political consequences. Most recently, Trump cleared the records of three armed services members accused or convicted of war crimes over the objections of several of his top military brass. ‘Like everything else with this president, you can’t look to history for precedent,’ said a person who previously worked for President Trump. ‘If he felt Manafort and Flynn and others were deserving of pardons, he’d just do it.'”

Linda Ronstadt Shuts Down Mike Pompeo At Kennedy Center

Linda Ronstadt to Mike Pompeo: Stop ‘enabling’ Donald Trump. Variety: ” Linda Ronstadt, one of this year’s Kennedy Center Honorees, had sharp words for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday night during a State Department reception for the Kennedy Center kudos. Ronstadt and Pompeo faced off in the U.S. State Department’s ornate diplomatic greeting rooms at the traditional event that precedes Sunday’s Honors gala. Some 200 guests were assembled to celebrate this year’s honorees: Ronstadt, Sally Field, Earth, Wind and Fire, conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and ‘Sesame Street.’ The State Department dinner is where honorees receive their Kennedy Center rainbow ribbons. Pompeo, an embattled protector of President Trump, was enjoying his first turn as official host of the event. During the pre-dinner welcoming address, he quipped: ‘As I travel the world, I wonder when will I be loved,’ invoking the words of Ronstadt’s 1975 hit ‘When I Be Loved,’ penned by Phil Everly. Ronstadt has been an outspoken critic of Trump. When it came her turn following dinner to receive the honor and make optional remarks, Ronstadt rose to the microphone a few feet away from the host’s table and looked straight ahead. ‘I’d like to say to Mr. Pompeo, who wonders when he’ll be loved, it’s when he stops enabling Donald Trump.’ Then she sat down. The line drew immediate gasps from the audience, followed by slowly building applause, and then cheers. Among those in attendance was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who received a standing ovation from a majority of the politically divided gathering.”

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