fresh voices from the front lines of change








Rev. Susan K. Williams Smith

What Trump And The GOP Learned From Obama

As President Trump’s impeachment unspools, news coverage is buzzing about conspiracy theories and geopolitical rivalries. But at the root of Trump’s effort to extort Ukraine was a simple motive: Trump hoped to influence our elections to preserve his power and that of his associates. That has a lot in common with something closer to home: our long and ugly history of voter suppression, which likewise aimed to preserve the power of some at the expense of others — primarily people of color. Brutal, often violent voter suppression prevailed in the 20th century. But a new wave of more sophisticated tactics surfaced after the 2008 general election, when Republicans realized the power of the resurgent black vote that had helped elect President Obama. More recently, Trump campaign workers studied the techniques that made the Obama coalition successful and greatly increased their efforts to strengthen their own grassroots organizing. Trump, ever dishonest himself, calls the American political system rigged. He is correct, though not in the way he is communicating it. His party’s intense effort to negate the African American vote is still keeping black and brown people, students, the elderly, and immigrant citizens away from the polls. It will take all of us working together, harder than ever, to overcome those obstacles. But we can and must do it.

Impeachment Vote Slated For Wednesday

Congress prepares for historic week on impeachment — live updates. CBS: "With the House poised to vote to impeach the president as soon as Wednesday, lawmakers have already begun looking ahead to a potential Senate trial in January. The House Judiciary Committee submitted a report to the House Rules Committee summarizing the articles of impeachment and the investigation into the president's dealings with Ukraine early Sunday morning. The 685-page report is a supplement to the two articles of impeachment the Judiciary Committee approved on Friday: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The Rules Committee will meet Tuesday morning to determine the length of floor debate over the articles, setting up a vote for Wednesday. Senators have already begun looking ahead to a trial in the upper chamber, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer writing a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Sunday night demanding several witnesses be called."

Grassroots Groups Rally Tuesday To Support Impeachment Vote

'To Protect Our Democracy,' Tuesday night rallies planned in all 50 states to demand Congress votes to impeach Trump. Common Dreams: "At more than 500 rallies planned for Tuesday evening, hundreds of thousands of Americans are expected to call on the U.S. House to vote to impeach President Donald Trump. The rallies will take place at congressional offices and other public spaces, the night before the House is expected to vote on two articles of impeachment accusing Trump of abusing his power when he pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and obstructing Congress by stonewalling its investigation. 'The facts are uncontested,' organizers said Saturday. 'An extensive investigation turned up phone records, transcripts, and first hand witness testimony that prove Trump demanded Ukraine interfere in the 2020 election on his behalf before he’d give them critical military aid or a White House meeting.' 'Americans from California to West Virginia are ready to hold their representatives accountable and declare that no one—not even the president—is above the law,' they added. At least 527 events were planned for 5:30pm local time on Tuesday, with people in every state in the nation planning to rally."

ALEC Seeks To Criminalize Civil Disobedience In Ohio

ALEC behind Ohio bill criminalizing protests against fossil fuel infrastructure. Truthout: "When anti-protest legislation pushed by oil, gas and utility interests was introduced in the Ohio state Senate this year, it met a receptive audience and passed easily on a mostly party-line vote. It has since moved to the state House, where almost one-third of legislators are ALEC members, and will likely pass at the beginning of 2020. The legislation, SB 33, is modeled after an ALEC proposal, and its corporate backers are big contributors to the Republican party and legislators in Ohio. ALEC is the corporate bill mill where state legislators and corporations meet behind closed doors to write and advocate for legislation on the environment, criminal justice, health care, and most of the other domestic issues that affect us. The bill, the “Critical Infrastructure Protection Act,” being pushed by ALEC around the country makes it a felony for protestors to trespass on energy company property, such as pipelines, refineries, and power plants. Prompted by the well-publicized stand-off at the Dakota Access crude oil pipeline in 2016, the industry’s full-court press is working. Ten states, using ALEC’s template bill, have enacted increased criminal penalties through legislation very much like SB 33."

Iowa Caucus May Have Multiple Winners Under New Rules

Could multiple candidates 'win' the Democratic caucuses? New rules make it possible. Des Moines Register: "Presidential candidates have spent millions of dollars and months of their lives chasing a win in Iowa's caucuses, but new rules adopted this year open the possibility — some insiders call it a probability — that multiple candidates could 'win.' Democratic insiders and campaign staffers have long acknowledged the chaos and confusion that could emerge, fretting over what it could mean for this year's caucus as well as future ones. For decades, the winner of Iowa’s caucuses has been decided by a complicated system of state delegate equivalents, which operates kind of like the Electoral College. Unlike in the November presidential vote, though, Iowa's tally of popular support was never released. But in 2020, the Iowa Democratic Party will publish two raw vote totals and the delegate numbers from caucus night. So one candidate could win one or both of the delegate counts but lose the popular vote. That would open a new layer of complexity as media report the results, campaigns spin them and voters in later states try to make sense of them — all in a year when the stakes have never been higher for Iowa to show it deserves to remain the first-in-the-nation presidential voting state."

Trump Wants To Strip Disability Benefits From Social Security

'A national disgrace': Trump proposes Social Security change that could end disability benefits for hundreds of thousands. Common Dreams: "Activists are working to raise public awareness and outrage over a little-noticed Trump administration proposal that could strip life-saving disability benefits from hundreds of thousands of people by further complicating the way the Social Security Administration determines who is eligible for payments. The proposed rule change was first published in the Federal Register last month but has received scarce attention in the national media. Last week, the Social Security Administration extended the public comment period on the proposal until January 31, 2020. 'The Trump administration is attacking another vulnerable population: those who are disabled and receiving Social Security Disability benefits,' tweeted patient advocate Peter Morley, who lobbies Congress on healthcare issues. 'This is a national disgrace.' 'This is not over,' said Morley. 'We will all need to mobilize.' The process for receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is already notoriously complicated, and the Trump administration is attempting to add yet another layer of complexity that critics say is aimed at slashing people's benefits. As The Philadelphia Inquirer reported last week, 'those already receiving disability benefits are subject to so-called continuing disability reviews, which determine whether they are still deserving of compensation for an injury, illness, or other incapacitating problem as their lives progress.'"

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