Progressive Breakfast for March 25

Morning Message

Solidarity Against Hate

The union I lead, the United Steelworkers (USW), believes in unity, that “all working men and women, regardless of creed, color or nationality” are eligible for membership. That was the guiding principle of the Steel Workers Organizing Committee (SWOC) when it formed in 1937. The USW membership eligibility statement is an assertion of inclusion: All working men and women qualify. All can join. All can attend local union meetings, at which members call each other “brother” and “sister.” This practice creates artificial, but crucial, bonds between us. This solidarity gives the group strength when facing off against massive multinational corporations and demanding decent pay and dignified working conditions. The labor movement is far from perfect. But we live in a time when billionaires such as Rupert Murdoch and Robert Mercer wield immense power. Organizations they stealth-fund - and the media empires they control - are dedicated to dividing and conquering us. They’re dangerous because they breed, broadcast, and promote hate. The only way to deal with hate-mongers like these is with solidarity. Workers must have each other’s backs. We must see each other as brothers and sisters. Our guiding principle must be that all working men and women, regardless of creed, color, nationality or sexual orientation are welcome.

Nothing To See Here, Folks

What just happened? The questions behind the Mueller report. Politico: “Special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings have finally been made public — sort of — handing President Donald Trump and his White House a partial victory: no Russia collusion, but questions on obstruction. But that’s hardly the end of it. Only the most bare-bone details from the special counsel’s work were released on Sunday, in the form of a four-page summary from Attorney General William Barr. Now comes a heated battle with Congress that’s likely headed to court over just how much of Mueller’s investigation can be handed over to lawmakers, who have their own oversight duties that still could lead to Trump’s impeachment. Robert Mueller concluded there’s not enough evidence to file charges that Trump or any of his campaign aides conspired with Russia to win the 2016 election. All we got Sunday is a summary of Mueller’s work and it does indeed tell us that the special counsel’s team didn’t find enough evidence to ‘establish’ that Trump and Russia were working together. But Mueller’s underlying investigative materials, which likely go into all manner of detail about what they found when issuing some 2,800 subpoenas, 500 executed search warrants and sitting for 500 witness interviews, remain under wraps. Notably, the summary does not say that Mueller found no evidence at all to support the notion of collusion or conspiracy. In fact, it says there’s ‘evidence on both sides of the question” with regard to obstruction and other issues.'”

Barr Memo Seeks To Cap Probe

Barr summary seeks to cap Mueller probe of Russian influence. Lawfare: “Leave it to President Trump to describe as ‘Total EXONERATION’ a document that specifically quotes Special Counsel Robert Mueller as saying that one of his principal findings ‘does not exonerate’ the president. The brief letter sent by Attorney General William Barr to congressional leaders on Sunday afternoon summarizing Mueller’s findings is a complicated document. In key respects, it contains very good news for President Trump about a scandal that has dogged his presidency since before he even took office. In other respects, however, Barr’s summary of Mueller’s report is ominous for the president. While Mueller did not find that Trump obstructed his investigation, he also made a point of not reaching the opposite conclusion: that Trump didn’t obstruct the investigation. Indeed, he appears to have created a substantial record of the president’s troubling interactions with law enforcement for adjudication in noncriminal proceedings — which is to say in congressional hearings that are surely the next step. What makes the document more complicated still is the fact that it offers only a skeletal description of Mueller’s report. Assuming that Barr is characterizing Mueller’s findings reasonably, that leaves a whole raft of questions unanswered about what those stories will be—and what their impact will be. [I]t is important not to lose sight of the significance of the investigation having been completed. That Mueller was able to complete his probe into a sitting president without having his investigation blocked … is no small thing.”

Pittsburgh Protests Acquittal Of Anwon Rose II’s Killer

Rosfeld Verdict Protests To Continue. NBC: “Protests continue in Pittsburgh after officer acquitted in fatal shooting of Antwon Rose II. NBC: “Michael Rosfeld, 30, a former officer in East Pittsburgh, was found not guilty of homicide Friday in the 2018 shooting of Rose. Protesters on Saturday gathered at an intersection called Freedom Corner in the city’s Hill District neighborhood, the historic center of black cultural life in Pittsburgh, the Associated Press reported. One man held a sign with the names of black men killed by police around the U.S. ‘It’s very painful to see what happened, to sit there and deal with it,’ Rose’s father, Antwon Rose Sr., told the crowd. “I just don’t want it to happen to our city no more. It’s happening like every other day. We’ve got to do more in our community so they have more stuff to do.” Video of the incident captured by a bystander and posted online triggered a series of protests in the Pittsburgh area last year that included a late-night march that shut down a major highway. The Pittsburgh Public Safety Department said on Twitter that demonstrations Saturday were peaceful. Protesters held signs, including one that read ‘Justice for Antwon’ and ‘Black Lives Matter,’ and during demonstrations chanted: ‘No justice, no peace. No racist police.'”

Green New Deal Heads To Vote

Green New Deal vote tests Dem unity in Senate. The Hill:
TheHill.com: “Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) this week will face his biggest test keeping White House hopefuls aligned with the rest of the Democratic caucus when Republicans force a vote on the Green New Deal. Schumer wants all Democrats to vote ‘present’ on the motion to proceed to the ambitious, and divisive, climate change measure championed by firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), despite the fact that several presidential candidates in the chamber have already endorsed her proposal. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) scheduled the vote in hopes of driving a wedge between 2020 Democrats, who are trying to appeal to the party’s liberal base, and more centrist Democrats who face competitive reelection campaigns next year. The proposal says the federal government must achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and create millions of high-wage jobs by investing in sustainable infrastructure. It sets a 10-year schedule to meet 100 percent of the nation’s power demand through renewable, zero-emission energy sources and upgrade all buildings to achieve maximum energy efficiency. Democrats argue McConnell setting up a ‘sham vote’ and note that liberal advocacy groups like the Sunrise Movement and Credo Action that back the Green New Deal have given senators a pass to vote ‘present.’ They also say polling shows majorities of Americans think climate change is a serious problem that requires action.”

Renewables Can Cut Energy Costs By Half

Replacing most coal plants with renewables cheaper than keeping them open. ThinkProgress: “It would be more expensive to keep the majority of U.S. coal plants open than to replace them with new wind and solar power alternatives, according to new findings published Monday. Authored by the environmental firm Energy Innovation in partnership with the grid analysis company Vibrant Clean Energy, the research finds that replacing 74 percent of coal plants nationally with wind and solar power would immediately reduce power costs, with wind power in particular at times cutting the cost almost in half. By 2025, the analysis indicates, around 86 percent of coal plants could similarly be at risk of cheaper replacement by renewables. ‘We’ve been closely following the cost of wind and solar in the U.S. and globally, and the costs have come down so far that we’re now seeing unprecedented low [costs] for wind and solar,’ said Mike O’Boyle, Energy Innovation’s electricity policy director, on a call with reporters. That trend has opened up an opportunity for a dramatic shift, the groups argue, one that could see coal largely replaced in many areas by energy sources that are better for both human health and the environment.”

Remember The Triangle Shirt Factory Fire?

Uncovering the history of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Smithsonian: “On March 25, 1911, a pleasant springtime afternoon, a fire broke out in a garment factory near Washington Square in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Within minutes, the entire eighth floor of the ten-story tower was full of flames. Onlookers, drawn by the column of smoke and the clamor of converging fire wagons, watched helplessly and in horror as dozens of workers screamed from the ninth-floor windows. They were trapped by flames, a collapsed fire escape and a locked door. The Triangle fire catalyzed reforms in New York that spread nationwide—outward-swinging exit doors and sprinklers in high-rise buildings, for example. These reforms in turn fueled the careers of people like Smith and Wagner and Perkins, the first woman to serve in a presidential cabinet. Half a century after the fire, she still pointed to that day as the birth of the New Deal. Today, the memory of the fire moves reformers to wonder why some workers in the United States—and many more abroad—still toil in needlessly dangerous conditions.”