fresh voices from the front lines of change








Adrienne Evans

The Day America Became a Constitutional Monarchy

The GOP-controlled Senate, by voting to acquit Donald Trump from impeachment, has made a mockery of our system of governance. By clearing him from charges of abuse of power and obstruction, Republican Senators have willfully made themselves complicit to his imperial ambition. Republican Senators, by abdicating their role as advocates for the people, have chosen to open a path for our 45th president to claim nearly unlimited powers for himself. Our democracy, which Benjamin Franklin warned would only remain a republic if we “could keep it” – that is, hold the appetites of any would-be monarch in check – has never been weaker. Congressional Republicans  have willingly embraced and enshrined Trump’s desire to be above the law. We are now a constitutional monarchy. As a result of your Senate vote, our democracy now hangs by a thread that can be easily snipped by this administration and those that may follow. While American democracy has had to grow, evolve and change, this breach of trust creates a wound that will take long to heal. But make no mistake, we the people will remain united. We are going to take back our government, seat by seat, across this country in 2020. We will reform this country with leaders who are in the struggle with us, who care about their communities, who understand what it is to show up for one another with courage, and when tested will never be bought or swayed by cults of personality. Senators, you are now complicit with a mediocre man’s imperial ambitions. But you profoundly underestimate the power ordinary people across this country have when we stand together. We are not defeated; we will rise.

GOP Lawmakers Acquit Trump Out Of Fear

In private, Republicans admit they acquitted Trump out of fear. Sherrod Brown: "In the United States Senate, like in many spheres of life, fear does the business. For the stay-in-office-at-all-cost representatives and senators, fear is the motivator. They are afraid that Mr. Trump might give them a nickname like 'Low Energy Jeb' and 'Lyin’ Ted,' or that he might tweet about their disloyalty. Or — worst of all — that he might come to their state to campaign against them in the Republican primary. I have asked some of them, 'If the Senate votes to acquit, what will you do to keep this president from getting worse?' Their responses have been shrugs and sheepish looks. We all want to think that we always stand up for right and fight against wrong. But history does not look kindly on politicians who cannot fathom a fate worse than losing an upcoming election. They might claim fealty to their cause — those tax cuts — but often it’s a simple attachment to power that keeps them captured. As Senator Murray said on the Senate floor in 2002, 'We can act out of fear' or 'we can stick to our principles.' Unfortunately, in this Senate, fear has had its way. In November, the American people will have theirs."

Small Donors Flock To Sanders

Amid frustration over Iowa, Sanders posts huge fundraising numbers. Politico: "Bernie Sanders’ campaign announced Thursday it raised $25 million in January from nearly 650,000 people, a third of whom were new donors. That makes it his best fundraising month of the 2020 campaign, according to his team. Sanders’ aides also said that he is using the small-dollar cash infusion to place a $5.5 million TV and digital ad buy in nine Super Tuesday states and South Carolina. The Vermont senator’s show of fundraising force comes days before the first-in-the-nation primary and as the results in Iowa are still being counted. With 97 percent of precincts reporting, the caucuses are too close to call, and Sanders and Pete Buttigieg are fighting for first place. Sanders’ Iowa state director, Misty Rebik, sent a memo to staffers and supporters on Wednesday night that said the campaign has 'a viable path forward to achieve a clean sweep and retake the lead in state delegate equivalents and national pledged delegates.' Sanders’ aides believe that he has won the satellite caucuses, which were held for residents who could not attend the 7 p.m. caucuses, according to their unverified internal results. Not all of the satellite caucuses have reported their figures so far. Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ senior adviser, said Tuesday that he finished strongly in the satellite caucuses 'due to our organizing among blue-collar workers, Latinos and Muslim Americans.'

Salvadorans Abused, Killed After Deportation By U.S.

fHuman Rights Watch: More than 200 Salvadorans were abused, killed after deportation. NPR: "After living in the U.S. for five years, cousins Walter T. and Gaspar T. were deported to their home country of El Salvador in 2019, where they were ripped from their beds one night and beaten by police, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch. The thrashings went on there for three days, according to the men. Despite threats from authorities that they'd be charged with gang membership, they were eventually released. No charges were filed. Walter and Gaspar, who say they had initially fled El Salvador to escape forcible gang recruitment, had hoped to gain asylum in the U.S. But their applications were denied. The pair's experience is one of more than 200 cases uncovered by Human Rights Watch in which Salvadorans are put in harm's way — at risk of violence at the hands of gangs, law enforcement or security forces — as a result of tightening asylum and immigration policies in the U.S. 'Salvadorans are facing murder, rape, and other violence after deportation in shockingly high numbers, while the US government narrows Salvadorans' access to asylum and turns a blind eye to the deadly results of its callous policies,' said Alison Parker managing director of the US Program at Human Rights Watch and coauthor of the report."

MS Prisons Investigated For Civil Rights Violations, Deaths

Justice Department opens investigation into four Mississippi prisons. CBS: "The Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation into the conditions at four Mississippi state prisons after a wave of inmate deaths in recent weeks, federal authorities announced Wednesday. At least 15 people have died inside state facilities since late December. The department's Civil Rights Division will determine whether the state's department of corrections adequately protects inmates as well as investigate its suicide prevention services and mental health care. The four facilities include the Southern Mississippi Correctional Institute, the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility and the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, where most of the deaths have occurred. Rapper Yo Gotti and Team Roc, the charity group affiliated with Jay-Z's Roc Nation, filed a federal lawsuit against the state's department of corrections on behalf of more than two dozen inmates. The suit claims people are dying because the state 'has failed to fund its prisons.'"

Inside Trump's Disinformation War

The billion-dollar disinformation campaign to reelect the President. The Atlantic: "One day last fall, I sat down to create a new Facebook account. I picked a forgettable name, snapped a profile pic with my face obscured, and clicked “Like” on the official pages of Donald Trump and his reelection campaign. Facebook’s algorithm prodded me to follow Ann Coulter, Fox Business, and a variety of fan pages with names like “In Trump We Trust.” I complied. I also gave my cellphone number to the Trump campaign, and joined a handful of private Facebook groups for MAGA diehards, one of which required an application that seemed designed to screen out interlopers. The president’s reelection campaign was then in the midst of a multimillion-dollar ad blitz aimed at shaping Americans’ understanding of the recently launched impeachment proceedings. Thousands of micro-targeted ads had flooded the internet, portraying Trump as a heroic reformer cracking down on foreign corruption while Democrats plotted a coup. That this narrative bore little resemblance to reality seemed only to accelerate its spread. Right-wing websites amplified every claim. Pro-Trump forums teemed with conspiracy theories. An alternate information ecosystem was taking shape around the biggest news story in the country, and I wanted to see it from the inside. What I was seeing was a strategy that has been deployed by illiberal political leaders around the world. Rather than shutting down dissenting voices, these leaders have learned to harness the democratizing power of social media for their own purposes—jamming the signals, sowing confusion. They no longer need to silence the dissident shouting in the streets; they can use a megaphone to drown him out. Scholars have a name for this: censorship through noise."

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