fresh voices from the front lines of change








Tom Conway

America’s Do-Nothing Senate

The Republican-controlled Senate has ignored around 400 bills the House passed this year. When these legislators refuse to legislate, they’re telling the American people that they couldn’t care less about urgent issues like workplace safety, failing pension plans or fair wages. They’ll gladly imperil workers and retirees. That’s because Senate Republicans have sold their souls to corporations and the one percent. Working Americans aren’t their concern. When the House passes bills, Senate Republicans—with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky at the helm—simply ignore them. They can’t be bothered to debate the legislation. They fail to hold hearings or votes. They refuse to pick up the phone and try to work out a compromise with House leaders. They just let the bills languish. Doing nothing is their strategy for stymying House Democrats’ efforts to help working Americans. When he took over the Senate in 2015, McConnell vowed to end the gridlock that afflicted previous Congresses. Now, he’s the chief architect of it. His desire to beat back the House Democrats’ agenda trumps any interest he ever had in doing the job his constituents elected him to do. Kentucky has the nation’s sixth-highest poverty rate, 16.9 percent. According to one estimate, a hike in the minimum wage would directly benefit 513,000 Kentuckians. But after the House passed the minimum wage bill in July, Grim Reaper Mitch immediately declared it dead on arrival in the Senate. He said he feared helping low-wage workers out of poverty would slow the economy. In other words, corporations told him it would hurt their bottom lines. So he chose to ignore the bill and disregard the needs of Kentuckians, and low-wage workers everywhere.

Can A Woman Win The White House? Hell Yes

Warren’s new electability argument. The Atlantic: "Throughout her campaign, Senator Elizabeth Warren has largely sidestepped the question of sexism. It’s a lose-lose situation: Women candidates don’t want to seem whiny, but they also don’t want to look weak if they’re insulted or discriminated against because of their gender. When CNN reported on Monday that Bernie Sanders told her in 2018 that a woman could not be elected president, Warren seemed trapped. She could call out Sanders for sexism and risk seeming shrill or petty. Or she could let the story pass without making anything of it. On the debate stage in Iowa Tuesday night, Warren chose a third path: She argued that being a woman is not a liability for political candidates. It’s a strength. Perhaps the strongest piece of evidence for her argument is the 2018 midterm elections, when women won a record number of seats in Congress, beat out male opponents in key swing states including Florida and Pennsylvania, and earned greater representation in the U.S. Senate and governors’ mansions across the country. The Democratic Party’s recent successes, she said, are owed to women candidates and women voters."

House To Deliver Articles Of Impeachment

House set to vote to send Trump impeachment articles to Senate. NPR: "The House holds its long-awaited vote Wednesday to send to the Senate the two articles of impeachment against President Trump that lawmakers approved last month, setting the stage for a Senate trial to begin next week. Following the vote, the House will inform the Senate it is ready to transmit the articles across the Capitol. The Senate will respond that it is ready to receive them, and a formal procession and reception will take place. That could occur later Wednesday. Senate Majority Leader McConnell, R-Ky., said the Senate trial is expected to begin next Tuesday, Jan. 21; Chief Justice John Roberts could swear in 100 U.S. senators as jurors as early as this week."

War Policy Dominates Debate

War policy dominates Democratic debate after Trump’s Iran strike. Bloomberg: "The top Democratic presidential candidates used the final debate before the Iowa caucuses to make their case to be commander-in-chief less than two weeks after President Donald Trump took the biggest foreign-policy risk of his presidency by killing a top Iranian general. The six contenders argued for a reduced U.S. role in the Middle East after two decades in Iraq, and also Afghanistan -- a point Pete Buttigieg brought home by remembering fellow soldiers who were too young to remember Congress’s decision to go to war in 2002. Senator Bernie Sanders took on President Joe Biden for his support of the Iraq war, which Sanders called one of the 'two great foreign policy disasters of our lifetimes.' The other, he said, was the Vietnam War. Both conflicts, he added, 'were based on lies.' 'Joe and I listened to' Dick Cheney, George W. Bush and Bush’s defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. 'I thought they were lying,” Sanders said. “I didn’t believe them for a moment. I took to the floor. I did everything I could to prevent that war. Joe saw it differently.' Biden said he’s long acknowledged that his Iraq war vote was a “big, big mistake” but worked hard as vice president to get U.S. forces out of war zones. Still, he added, there continues to be a role for Special Forces, working with allies, even as Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren said they would pull out troops completely."

Democrats Announce New Evidence Ahead Of Impeachment Vote

Ukraine prosecutor offered information related to Biden in exchange for ambassador’s ouster. WaPo: "New materials released by House Democrats appear to show Ukraine’s top prosecutor offering an associate of President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, damaging information related to former vice president Joe Biden if the Trump administration recalled the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. The text messages and documents provided to Congress by former Giuliani associate Lev Parnas also show that before the ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, was removed from her post, a Parnas associate now running for Congress sent menacing text messages suggesting that he had Yovanovitch under surveillance in Ukraine. A lawyer for Yovanovitch said Tuesday that the episode should be investigated. The cache of materials released by House investigators late Tuesday exposed a number of previously unknown details about efforts by Giuliani and his associates to obtain material in Ukraine that would undermine Trump’s Democratic opponents. Their emergence on the eve of the Senate impeachment trial spurred Democrats to renew calls for the White House to turn over documents related to the Ukraine pressure campaign that it has refused to share with Congress."

BlackRock To Center Climate Change In $7t Investments

BlackRock CEO promises to center climate change in investment strategy. Common Dreams: "In a letter to investors Tuesday, Larry Fink, CEO of money management firm BlackRock, announced the company would prioritize the climate crisis in deciding on investments and strategies going forward—a major victory for the environmental movement. The new direction for BlackRock, the largest investment firm in the world which manages assets of around $6.96 trillion, is the result of a hard-fought effort by a group of dedicated activists, tweeted 350 Action co-founder Bill McKibben. 'This is a massive victory for a small band of fighters,' said McKibben. 'It gives us enormous confidence as we take on the giant banks,' he added.'"When we start to fight we start to win.' As Common Dreams reported last week, a new campaign called 'Stop the Money Pipeline' is aimed at stopping financial support for the fossil fuel industry and has BlackRock as one of its primary targets. Fink says in his letter to investors that he believes 'we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance.' 'The evidence on climate risk is compelling investors to reassess core assumptions about modern finance,' Fink wrote."

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