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Legal writer explains a brilliant strategy for Democrats to protect their agenda from the Supreme Court

January 27, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Although Democrats now control the White House and both houses of Congress, there is one branch of the federal government where their ideas presently have very little influence: the U.S. Supreme Court. President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi find themselves saddled with the most right-wing Supreme Court in generations. But writer Keshav Poddar, in an article published by Slate this week, offers a possible Supreme Court coping strategy for Biden’s administration and Democrats in Congress: essentially, backup plans for their legislation.

“Against all odds, an ideologically reinvigorated Democratic Party has won the House, Senate and presidency,” Poddar observes. “Democrats have the opportunity to finally deliver long-overdue reforms to address structural economic inequality, provide every American with adequate health care and take aggressive action to save our environment before it is too late. But (Senate) Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has left Democrats with one big problem: the courts.”

Although Democrats have won the popular vote in six of the last seven presidential elections, six of the nine current Supreme Court justices were appointed by Republican presidents. Some liberal pundits have proposed packing the court — that is, increasing the number of justices, which President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proposed during the 1930s. But Poddar points out that Democrats’ slim majority in the Senate simply isn’t enough for the type of “knockdown, drag-out fight that such a move would require.”

Instead of thinking about court packing, Poddar suggests, Democrats should consider “another way to stop the Court from totally derailing progressive economic reform that Democrats can use right now.”

“Democrats could deploy a new legislative tactic that has never been tried before: They can include ‘clearly constitutional’ precautionary backup provisions in progressive legislation that would automatically take effect if the primary policies in the bill are invalidated,” Poddar recommends. “The backup provisions would usually involve extreme, but undeniably constitutional, policies designed to achieve the same original goals as the preferred policy. This will either force the Court to lay off of progressive programs, or enable progressive policy aims to be achieved even if it intervenes.”

Poddar goes on to offer an example of how such an approach would work. If Congress passed a 2% wealth tax on fortunes over $100 million but Pelosi’s attorneys warned that Republicans would challenge the tax as unconstitutional in the courts, Poddar argues, Democrats could have …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trump judges will stop Biden if Dems don't move on immigration reform now

January 27, 2021 in Blogs

By María Isabel Puerta Riera

The last four years have been a complete departure from the melting pot metaphor that has made Americans so proud. Avoiding any reference to the historical background of a nation built upon the displacement of its original population, and the historical social debt from years of slavery and segregation, the Trump administration became a safe haven for anti-immigration sentiment. Although it didn’t originate within trumpism, it has been significantly mainstreamed by Donald Trump.

The images of children in cages, with the former president referring to shithole countries, wasn’t what we remembered from the leading democracy advocate in the world. Reconciling America’s past as the shelter for those in desperate need of a home had never been more implausible. This was a shock for many around the world, but not for those that had been warning about the radicalization of the Republican Party. This is not about conservatism anymore; this is a straightforward embrace of nativism in a time when the greatest fear of the still-majoritarian white population is an inevitable demographic shift.

We are not here to displace Americans, we are here to contribute to a better America, with our knowledge, skills and experience. President Joe Biden has made clear that his administration would not only reverse the immigration policies enacted by the previous president, but also introduce further measures to correct the path the country had taken toward immigration. However, this is going to be a complicated shift. On January 26, a U.S. district judge barred this administration from imposing a 100-day deportation halt President Biden had ordered DHS to apply. This is a sign for Democrats that it would be wise for them to exercise their majority. It should be clear now that there is little hope for a bipartisan commitment to an immigration overhaul while the prospects of narrowing their demands are looming.

This should come as no surprise after the change of heart we have seen in some lawmakers, like Sen. Lindsey Graham, once Trump took office in 2017. The South Carolina senator, once a staunch immigration defender, became an ally to one of the most anti-immigration administrations in recent history, supporting Trump’s cruel policies. Quite the contrast from the bipartisan bill he introduced in 2016 with Sen. Dick Durban: Bar Removal of Individuals Who Dream of Growing Our …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Democrats learned their lesson — and want to force Republicans to declare their true loyalties

January 27, 2021 in Blogs

By John Stoehr

It’s one thing for normal people to question the patriotism of Republicans going to the wall for Donald Trump. It’s quite another, however, for a president who beat him by 7 million votes amid a ballot-haul greater than any candidate in our history. Joe Biden speaks softly, but through the biggest bullhorn the world has known. With enough time and repetition, most people most of the time are going to see things his way.

In a presser Tuesday, the president gave an update on the government’s progress in containing the covid pandemic, particularly, his goal of distributing 100 million shots in 100 days. Biden stressed the importance of masks in stopping the virus. In doing so, he singled out a House Republican. “He used a very colorful term to say, ‘Wearing a mask, tell them to kiss my ear, I’m not going to wear a mask.’ Well, guess what? Not very American. The fact is, you want to be patriotic, you’re going to protect people.”

If “owning the libs” remains a goal in itself, the GOP risks getting nothing. How long can it put up with that?

In fact, Chip Roy, of Texas, tweeted “kiss my ass” in early December when Biden proposed a federal mask mandate. In response to being singled out, the congressman said Tuesday his choice of words wasn’t very Christian but it was indeed American. That a Republican from Texas—from Texas—is defending his patriotism, instead of his patriotism being taken for granted, is really something to marvel at. Biden is putting him, and people flouting mask requirements, on the other side of safety and commonsense, but also on the other side of loving one’s country. He’s sorting Americans into baskets. One for patriots. And one for “deplorables.”

It’s tempting to say Roy is a phony. However, we’d be missing something important if we left it at that. What if he means it? He says he’s a patriot, as do the 200 other House Republicans who voted against indicting Trump on a charge of inciting insurrection against the United States. Ditto for the 45 Republicans senators who voted Tuesday against moving forward with Trump’s impeachment trial. (They lost.) Let’s assume they mean it when they say they’re fighting for the love of country. The question then becomes: what kind of country do they love? What kind of country do they protect?

When framed …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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QAnon Rep. Marjorie Greene faces growing outrage as new video exposes her harassment of a Parkland survivor

January 27, 2021 in Blogs

By Meaghan Ellis

Newly elected Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) is at the center of controversy yet again over an disturbing video that has resurfaced of her harassing one of the survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

On Wednesday, Jan. 27, Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter was one of the victims in the 2018 attack, took to Twitter with footage of the embattled Congresswoman heckling former Parkland student David Hogg. The video was reportedly filmed just weeks after the shooting when Hogg traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with lawmakers and discuss proposals for stricter gun laws.

In the video, Greene could be seen following and taunting the teen for several blocks. With the video, Guttenberg called out Greene, tweeting, “[Marjorie Taylor Greene, is this you harassing [David Hogg] weeks after the Parkland shooting, that my daughter was killed in & he was in? Calling him a coward for ignoring your insanity. I will answer all of your questions in person. Get ready to record again.”

March For Our Lives, the advocacy founded by Parkland survivors to advocate for an end to gun violence, also fired back at Greene with a tweet that read, “We don’t want to be doing this work, we’d much rather be living our lives like any young person. Instead, we’ve been forced to grow up quickly because corrupt politicians like you can’t do your damn job.”

Hogg also shared his reaction to the resurfaced video saying, “After surviving gun violence this is just 1/10 of 1% of the harassment advocates for gun control have to deal with.”

Now, Parkland survivors and former students are also calling for Greene’s resignation. The latest video comes amid a multitude of allegations and concerns about Greene including her radicalized QAnon beliefs, and her most recent, outlandish attempt to file articles of impeachment against President Joe Biden. Just days ago, Greene faced backlash for her previous remarks suggesting 9/11 and the Parkland shooting was a …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Paul Krugman's predictions about the Republican Party are coming true just as he thought

January 27, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Before President Joe Biden was sworn into office a week ago, liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman predicted that Republicans in Congress would “magically rediscover fiscal conservatism” and oppose any coronavirus relief package he proposed. Sure enough, some Republicans are claiming that the new president wants to spend too much. And Krugman, in a Times column published this week, argues that Republicans in Congress are more interested in playing partisan politics than helping the millions of Americans who are still hurting financially because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“President Biden is proposing a large relief package to deal with the continuing fallout from the coronavirus,” Krugman explains. “The package is expansive, as it should be. But it is, predictably, facing demands that it be scaled back. Which, if any, of these demands have some validity?”

Krugman argues that there have been some “some good-faith objections to parts of the Biden proposal” coming from centrist Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and “progressive economic commentators like Larry Summers.” They object to “payments of $1400 to many families,” Krugman notes.

But Republicans who have “suddenly” become budget hawks, according to Krugman, are reflexively objecting to Biden’s ideas simply because he is a Democrat.

“We can discount opposition from Republican leaders who have suddenly decided, after years of enabling deficits under (former President Donald) Trump, that federal debt is a terrible thing,” Krugman writes. “We’ve seen this movie before, during the Obama years: Republicans oppose economic aid not because they believe it will fail, but because they fear it might succeed, both helping Democrats’ political prospects and legitimizing an expanded role for government.”

Although dismissive of GOP objections to Biden’s ideas on coronavirus relief, Krugman is less critical of the “good faith objections” coming from some Democrats — although he explains why he believes their objections are misguided.

“The critics are right to say that many of those who would receive payment wouldn’t need the money,” Krugman explains. “Where they go wrong is in assuming that the stimulus checks — I’ll call them that, since everyone else does — are in competition with the other parts of the package.”

According to Krugman, “Stimulus checks are an ‘and,’ not an …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis dies

January 27, 2021 in History

By History.com Editors

On July 17, 2020, in the midst of a pandemic and a time of unparalleled racial tensions in the United States, the nation loses one of the last towering figures of the civil rights movement. John Lewis, former Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, a chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and a 17-term congressman from Georgia’s Fifth District, dies at the age of 80.

Born to two sharecroppers in rural Alabama, Lewis preached his first sermon at the age of 15, met Martin Luther King, Jr. at the age of 18, and was ordained as a Baptist minister before attending college at Nashville’s Fisk University. Inspired by King, he quickly became a leader of the Nashville desegregation movement, organizing sit-ins and boycotts—which he called “good trouble, necessary trouble”—and getting arrested numerous times.

READ MORE: ‘Good Trouble’: How John Lewis and Other Civil Rights Crusaders Expected Arrests

Lewis was one of the very first Freedom Riders—activists who refused to follow the rules while traveling through the South on segregated buses—and made repeated Freedom Rides despite being badly beaten and arrested on multiple occasions. After becoming Chairman of SNCC, of which he was a founding member, in 1963, he took a leading role in organizing a number of civil rights actions, including the Mississippi Freedom Summer, the March on Washington and the Selma to Montgomery marches. During the latter march, a policeman fractured Lewis’ skull as law enforcement attacked a group of protesters crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The assault, dubbed “Bloody Sunday,” opened the eyes of many across America to the brutal behavior of police in the South. In the years since, many have suggested renaming the bridge after Lewis.

Lewis continued to work in voter education and community organizing until 1981, when he was elected to the Atlanta City Council. In 1986, he ran for Congress, where he would represent a district that included most of Atlanta for the rest of his life. Though sometimes referred to as a “partisan” Democrat, he often took positions that set him to the left of the party’s establishment. Lewis was an early advocate of gay rights, opposed both the Gulf War and the War in Iraq, sided against the popular Democratic President Bill Clinton on welfare reform and the North America Free Trade …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Fukushima nuclear disaster

January 27, 2021 in History

By History.com Editors

On March 11, 2011, the largest earthquake ever recorded in Japan causes massive devastation, and the ensuing tsunami decimates the Tōhoku region of northeastern Honshu. On top of the already-horrific destruction and loss of life, the natural disaster also gives rise to a nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The Fukushima disaster is considered the second-worst nuclear disaster in history, forcing the relocation of over 100,000 people.

READ MORE: History’s Worst Nuclear Disasters

During the emergency, each of the three operational nuclear reactors at the Fukushima plant shut down successfully, but the backup power and cooling systems failed. As a result, residual heat caused fuel rods in all three reactors to partially melt down. As crews searched the rubble for survivors and the nation reeled from the earthquake and ensuing tsunami, the nuclear disaster unfolded over the course of several days. Reactors 1 and 3 exploded on March 12 and 14, respectively, prompting the government to evacuate everyone within a 20km radius. Another explosion in the building housing Reactor 2 on March 15 released even more radiation, and thousands of people left their homes as workers used helicopters, water cannons and seawater pumps to try to cool the overheating facility.

The full extent of the fallout became apparent over the ensuing months, with the government eventually evacuating all residents within a 30km radius of the plant. No deaths were initially attributed to the incident, although this was of little comfort to the 154,000 who were evacuated or the loved ones of the more than 18,000 people who lost their lives as a result of the earthquake and tsunami. Some have suggested that such a large evacuation was not necessary, as radiation levels appear to have dropped below what was expected in the immediate wake of the accident.

Though many were able to return to their homes, a 371-square-kilometer “difficult-to-return zone” remains evacuated as of 2021, and the true toll may not be known for decades. In 2018, the government announced that former plant worker who had served during the meltdown was the first death officially attributed to radiation from the disaster, which today is considered second only to Chernobyl in the ranking of infamous nuclear incidents.

…read more

Source: HISTORY

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Shirley Chisholm visits her opponent George Wallace in the hospital

January 27, 2021 in History

By History.com Editors

Rep. Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress, visits Alabama Governor George Wallace, perhaps the single most famous supporter of racial segregation in modern history, as he recovers from an assassination attempt on June 8, 1972. The two were both seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for president.

Wallace won the governorship on a platform of “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,” and rose to national prominence in 1963 when he appeared on the steps of the University of Alabama to block Black students from attending. He won five Southern states as a third-party candidate in the 1968 presidential election, promising to end the federal government’s attempts at desegregation. Chisholm, who began her career as an early-childhood educator before entering politics, won her Bedford-Stuyvesant seat the same year, presenting herself as “Unbought and unbossed.” Chisholm’s campaign was a long shot—she would later state that her Democratic colleagues refused to take her seriously because she was a woman—but Wallace’s prospects looked decent until he was shot five times at a campaign stop in Laurel, Maryland on May 15, 1972, leaving him permanently paralyzed.

READ MORE: ‘Unbought and Unbossed’: Why Shirley Chisholm Ran for President

Chisholm’s unexpected visit to Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring lasted roughly fifteen minutes. The congresswoman recounted that she told Wallace “I wouldn’t want what happened to you to happen to anyone,” and that the governor “cried and cried” in response. She added that, despite their profound disagreements on fundamental issues like racial equality, she agreed with Wallace’s criticisms of “the domination of corporate institutions…and unresponsiveness of the Government to the people.” Wallace won two primary races after the shooting, but it effectively ended his campaign. Senator George McGovern of South Dakota ultimately won the nomination, only to lose to incumbent Richard Nixon by a count of 520 electoral votes to 17. Two years later, Wallace threw his support behind Chisholm’s bill to give domestic workers the right to a minimum wage, marshaling enough support from Southern Democrats to get the bill passed.

READ MORE: Shirley Chisholm: Facts About Her Trailblazing Career

…read more

Source: HISTORY

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How the Tulsa Race Massacre Was Covered Up

January 27, 2021 in History

By Alexis Clark

A search for mass graves of the victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre highlights an event that had been suppressed from history for decades.

During the . White residents didn’t want to admit that relatives or friends had participated in the massacre and Black residents didn’t want to pass on their pain to their children, says Michelle Place, executive director of the Tulsa Historical Society & Museum.

“If you told them the stories of how hard you had worked, what you had built and how we lost it, then that sets the children up for fear that it could happen again,” she says.

Rebuilding Greenwood and Preserving Its History

The Black Wall Street Massacre memorial in Tulsa, Oklahoma, pictured in June 2020.

Greenwood residents lost everything. Some fled, never to return, while others were relegated to living in tents and getting assistance from the Red Cross, until they had the means and materials to rebuild. Though Black residents filed $1.8 million in riot-related claims, they were all denied. But rebuilding began within a few months and community gems like the Dreamland Theater reopened, along with stores and other buildings.

As the civil rights era brought hard-fought change to the nation, Greenwood began to decline. “All of these entrepreneurs began to age out and their children did not want to take over the beauty shop or the grocery store or the movie theater. Many of them had gotten their educations and became professionals and moved out of Greenwood to different parts of the country,” says Place, who added that with desegregation, dollars that were once concentrated in Greenwood, were spent elsewhere.

That coupled with urban renewal efforts that inserted an interstate highway through Greenwood, drastically changed the area.

Investigation of Mass Graves


Tulsa City Counselor Vanessa Hall-Harper and local activist Kristi Williams at Oak Lawn Cemetery on September 22, 2018 in Tulsa where many believe there is a mass grave containing victims of the 1921 massacre.

After a series of overlapping events in the 1990s—including the Oklahoma City Bombing that flooded the state with reporters, who then learned about the Tulsa Race Massacre for the 75th anniversary; and Black city leaders who wanted to capture the oral histories of aging survivors and seek reparations for the victims—Oklahoma legislators created a commission to investigate the massacre, says Ellsworth, who served as the chief scholar for the commission. “Eventually …read more

Source: HISTORY