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The workers many activists forget

The workers many activists forget

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As we have moved into a primary cycle and the subject of the working class is on the lips of activists and politicians, I know the images that term evokes in the minds-eye of many who hear it—hard hats, lunch boxes and assembly lines—often male, and often white. Organized labor and unions get mentioned, but rarely when one thinks of unions, other than perhaps SEIU or organized teachers do we think of women.

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President Obama: “No challenge poses a greater threat to our future and future generations than a changing climate”

From the White House:

In the East Room of the White House, President Obama announces the Clean Power Plan — our biggest step yet in the fight against climate change. The plan is a landmark action to protect public health, reduce energy bills for households and businesses, create American jobs, and bring clean power to communities across the country. August 3, 2015.

UPDATED WITH transcript (full text below the fold)

From ThinkProgress:

The Environmental Protection Agency released its long-awaited final rule to regulate carbon pollution from existing power plants on Monday afternoon. This is the most significant action any American president has ever taken to rein in climate change.

Addressing a crowd of scientists in the East Room of the White House, President Obama ticked through a list of threats that confronted the world since he took office: economic calamity, terrorism, nuclear weapons.

“But I am convinced that no challenge poses a greater threat to our future and future generations than a changing climate,” he said. “I believe there is such a thing as being too late. That shouldn’t make us hopeless. It’s not as if there’s nothing we can do about it. We can take action.”

Existing power plants will no longer be able to pollute unlimited amounts of carbon dioxide into the air in the United States once the plan takes effect, which will be 60 days following the as-yet determined date the plan is published in the Federal Register.

… each state will be able to come up with its own plan to cut emissions in a way that works for them. By 2030, each state must meet a certain emissions reduction target, custom-tailored to their current energy mix. The EPA does not implement a top-down solution across the country to cut emissions, or force specific coal plants to close.

“We’ll reward states that take actions sooner, rather than later, because time is not on our side,” Obama said.

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50 Years Ago Today: The Medicare Bill of 1965

On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Social Security Act Amendments of 1965 which established Medicare.

President Lyndon B. Johnson with Harry Truman and Hubert H. Humphrey, 1965

The Social Security Act Amendments provided:

In 1965, the passage of the Social Security Act Amendments, popularly known as Medicare, resulted in a basic program of hospital insurance for persons aged 65 and older, and a supplementary medical insurance program to aid the elderly in paying doctor bills and other health care bills. It was funded by a tax on the earnings of employees, matched by contributions by employers, and was well received. In the first three years of the program, nearly 20 million beneficiaries enrolled in it.

Debate over the program actually began two decades earlier when President Harry S. Truman sent a message to Congress asking for legislation establishing a national health insurance plan. At that time, vocal opponents warned of the dangers of “socialized medicine.” By the end of the Truman’s administration, he had backed off from a plan of universal coverage, but administrators in the Social Security system and others began to focus on the idea of a program aimed at insuring Social Security beneficiaries whose numbers and needs were growing.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Democratic president, following up on the work of Harry S Truman, Democratic president, and providing health care security to our senior citizens.

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President Obama: “The choices made today will shape the trajectory of Africa, and therefore, the world for decades to come”

From Mandela Hall in Ethiopia:

I stand before you as a proud American. I also stand before you as the son of an African. (Applause.) Africa and its people helped to shape America and allowed it to become the great nation that it is. And Africa and its people have helped shape who I am and how I see the world. In the villages in Kenya where my father was born, I learned of my ancestors, and the life of my grandfather, the dreams of my father, the bonds of family that connect us all as Africans and Americans.

As parents, Michelle and I want to make sure that our two daughters know their heritage — European and African, in all of its strengths and all of its struggle. So we’ve taken our daughters and stood with them on the shores of West Africa, in those doors of no return, mindful that their ancestors were both slaves and slave owners. We’ve stood with them in that small cell on Robben Island where Madiba showed the world that, no matter the nature of his physical confinement, he alone was the master of his fate. (Applause.) For us, for our children, Africa and its people teach us a powerful lesson — that we must uphold the inherent dignity of every human being.

… when we respect the freedom of others — no matter the color of their skin, or how they pray or who they are or who they love — we are all more free. (Applause.) Your dignity depends on my dignity, and my dignity depends on yours.

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Weekly Address: President Obama – Wall Street Reform is Working

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, the President spoke to the progress we have made in making our financial system stronger, safer, and more fair in the years since financial crisis. Five years ago this week our country enacted the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, rules that have substantially reduced recklessness and abuse in our financial system that predated the crisis. As a result of Wall Street reform, our banks are less reliant on unstable funding and less likely to engage in risky behavior, the independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau works to protect American consumers, and our financial system is significantly better-regulated. Dodd-Frank is working, and the President emphasized that he will continue to fight any challenges to the law and veto any effort to unravel the new rules governing Wall Street.

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“She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry” – A Film

“Aren’t the Internets great?”

– me to my Moose peeps this morning

An article in the New York Times yesterday about the “Women of the Young Lords: The Revolution within the Revolution” panel at the Bronx Museum, included the rare link-out to a web site for some biographical information on one of the speakers, our own Denise Oliver Velez.

Much to my delight, that was a sub-page on a larger site about a film entitled “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry”.

The trailer explains what it is about:

With women’s reproductive freedom under attack in the states and in the Republican controlled Congress and in the courts, when one of our major political parties is already loading up the testosterone cannon and aiming it at the woman who is the front-runner for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, when right wing groups are attacking Planned Parenthood … a group that saves women’s lives, it is a great time to remind ourselves of our past, the fights we won, only to lose again, and the battles we will face in 2016 and beyond.

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The Bernie Sanders campaign: Connecting with black voters is a work in progress.

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The Bernie Sanders campaign: Connecting with black voters is a work in progress.

After taking a look at the campaign staff and advisers for Hillary Clinton, looking specifically at people of color in major positions, I promised I would do the same for the Bernie Sanders campaign.

As it stands to date, there is not a lot to report, but there has been some progress since his initial announcement. Based on examining his campaign staffing page, and searching to identify the people currently listed there, he needs to step up the hires of people who can assist him with networking in the all important segment of the base that votes for Democrats, specifically women of color, and black women in particular.

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Working together towards a common goal

The latest dustup in the progressive blogosphere has exposed a rift in the progressive movement.

It is something that should not be a rift and maybe it does not reach the level of rift but is still a pretty strong disagreement that is generating more heat than light.

The goals of the #BlackLivesMatter movement are fundamental to our core Democratic Party principles and should not just be picked from a grab bag of progressive issues to focus on in the coming election. Racial justice issues need to be addressed because they are a matter of life and death. It can be argued that economic issues are a matter of life and death and that is certainly true. But a rising economic tide that raises all boats does nothing but drown those who have no boats, who can’t swim, or who are being held down.

Maybe the rift turned into a flame war because we, as Democrats, haven’t had to deal with a primary process for 7 years and we forget the bitter battles of 2007 and 2008. Maybe it is because we remember the bitter battles of 2007 and 2008 and don’t want to give an inch lest our ideal of Perfect Progressivism will not match up to the eventual nominee selected to carry our banner into the general election in 2016.

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“…Only Black ‘Deaths’ Matter.” Rev. William Barber

I received this from Rev. William Barber, and have permission to share it with you all:

Our Nation Is In Need of Prophetic Pastoral Counseling Because It Is Sending the Message —- Only Black Deaths Matter
By Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, Pastor, Greenleaf Christian Church, Goldsboro, N.C., Architect of the Forward Together Moral Monday Movement, and an Auburn Senior Fellow.

During my meditation on the messages being sent out from South Carolina this week, three scriptures came to me:
Jeremiah 31:15This is what the LORD says: “A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”
John 8:32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
Isaiah 58:1-3Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the descendants of Jacob their sins. For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. “Why have we fasted,” they say, “and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?”
Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.”

When the Confederate flag was removed from the South Carolina statehouse Friday morning, Gov. Nikki Haley spoke solemnly of the nine Black churchgoers who were shot to death less than a month ago at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. “We have all been struck by what was a tragedy we didn’t think we would ever encounter,” Haley said of the horrifying massacre. Before signing the bill with nine pens that will go to the families of the victims, she called those who were murdered during Bible Study at the historic church, “Nine amazing people that forever changed South Carolina’s history.” The Governor referenced the “grace” shown by the nine families, when they forgave the white gunman. She said their grace helped usher the state toward this long overdue decision.  

The assassinations at Emanuel A.M.E. Church, followed by the public forgiveness from the grieving families, were similarly cited by several South Carolina lawmakers as their reason for voting to remove the flag. What they are really saying is that Black Deaths Matter, not our lives. Black people in the US are only deemed worthy of action in their death, not in their life. In a year that has seen thousands in the streets, young and old, black white and brown, saying to the nation, “Black Lives Matter”, the painful and dangerous message coming from South Carolina this week is: Black Deaths Matter.  That’s the painful and dangerous narrative being developed out of South Carolina; it’s a narrative that the oppressed of this land have known for a long time: Only Black Deaths Matter.  Our nation is capable of doing the right thing – such as taking down the Confederate flag in the year 2015, a flag that represents the racist, immoral, unconstitutional defense of slavery and Jim Crow – but only when Black deaths happen and are met by a response deemed acceptable by those in power. Ever since this flag was raised in 1961, to send the message that South Carolina would not honor equal protection under the law, tens of thousands of small and large protests have not been enough to move the power brokers to take it down.

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