Nel's New Day

November 24, 2022

Thanksgiving Gratitude for Government Actions

Every year on Thanksgiving, many people express gratitude for what happens in their lives. For me, this means my fabulous partner of over 53 years and our joy in working together. We’re grateful for the friends who contribute to our lives through their love, humor, acceptance, and help whenever we need it. We take delight in our loving standard poodle and our delightful cat. Our home is exactly what we want, and we feel safe in the small town where we live.

Beyond that—because I’m a politics junkie—I have much more to list in my gratefulness because they demonstrate that others share with me my desire for human rights and democracy.

Elections:

After a long 15 days, Alaska has declared the winners of its ranked choice votes. Rep. Mary Peltola (D-AK) returns for a full House term after she won her special election last summer, both elections defeating former VP candidate Sarah Palin. She cares about people, not herself. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) will also return to Washington after Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) tried to destroy her for her impeachment vote against him. DDT endorsed opponents of both these winners.

Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) will be Los Angeles’ first female mayor despite her wealthy opponent outspending her by $91 million.

Two extremely close races flipped the Pennsylvania state House to Democrats for the first time in a decade. The Dems flipped a total of 12 seats in the chamber.

The GOP will likely have 222 members of the House for the 118th Congress, outnumbering Democrats by five. Democrats are suing to overturn districting maps in six states they couldn’t do before 2022 elections: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio, and Texas.

Georgia will determine whether Democrats have 50 or 51 Senators in the election on December 6.  Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) leads opponent Herschel 51 percent to 47 percent and has an 11-point lead among women voters plus 12 percent of those with a four-year or more college degree.

The week after DDT announced his 2024 presidential campaign, 57 percent thought it was a bad idea. Only 27 percent approved in the Quinnipiac University poll. Among independents, the disapproval was 58 percent to 32 percent. Forty-four percent don’t want Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to run for president, compared to 37 percent supporting him.

Courts:

The Supreme Court, typically supporting DDT, turned him down in his request to block House Democrats from seeing his tax records. Sought for 42 months, the decision listed no dissenting votes, and the records should be immediately turned over to the House committee.

The Supreme Court rejected appeals from a Virginia public school district and the University of Toledo in Ohio to stop sexual harassment lawsuits by female students using the law prohibiting sex discrimination at schools receiving federal funds.

A federal judge continued to send Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ beloved Stop WOKE Act into the trash pile, starting when he blocked provisions related to regulating private speech. In August, he wrote:

“Normally, the First Amendment bars the state from burdening speech, while private actors may burden speech freely. But in Florida, the First Amendment apparently bars private actors from burdening speech, while the state may burden speech freely.”

DeSantis’ law targeted concepts about race and history that Republicans dislike. In banning any information about critical race theory, DeSantis tried to regulate private businesses’ training sessions with their own private-sector employees. 

The November ruling stopped what the judge called a “positively dystopian” policy restricting how lessons on race and gender can be taught in colleges and universities. DeSantis wants to control what scholars can say in higher education. He quoted George Orwell’s novel 1984:

“’It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen,’ and the powers in charge of Florida’s public university system have declared the State has unfettered authority to muzzle its professors in the name of ‘freedom.”

The judge added:

“The law officially bans professors from expressing disfavored viewpoints in university classrooms while permitting unfettered expression of the opposite viewpoints. Defendants argue that, under this Act, professors enjoy ‘academic freedom’ so long as they express only those viewpoints of which the State approves. This is positively dystopian.”

DeSantis will certainly appeal, but this ruling is a start. Other lawsuits are fighting the suppression of education in K-12.

With no comment, the Georgia Supreme Court rejected the GOP request to remove a day of early voting for the U.S. Senate runoff between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Herschel Walker. The GOP knows that it needs to block voting to win, causing the Republicans already passing a large number of voter restrictions including cutting the runoff calendar in half with a ban on Saturday voting after a holiday. Georgia’s runoff early voting now runs from November 27 to December 2.

A three-judge 11th Circuit Court panel, two DDT-appointed judges and one from George W. Bush, appear ready to support the DOJ by rescinding the special master appointment in the Mar-a-Lago documents case made by DDT’s pet judge Aileen Cannon. One of the DDT judges told DDT’s lawyer that sweeping up personal items in a court-authorized search was not unusual. The DOJ has also asked for the return of 13,000 documents to investigators examining if DDT illegally retained highly sensitive documents of national defense information after he left the White House and possibly obstructed justice in their retrieval.  

A judge asked DDT’s lawyer that if he can’t establish the seizure is unlawful, “what are we doing here?” Another judge pointed out that a special master has no relationship to unlawful seizure.

A complaint has been filed against a Greenville (MS) municipal judge who signs no-knock search warrants allowing police to go into a home unannounced and then keeps them instead of turning them over to the clerk. Violating the state’s criminal procedure rules, his process hides warrants from the public and The public has no access to the warrants and prevents people from defending themselves when they are charged with crimes.

Congress:

The Senate unanimously passed legislature to make funding for survivors of gender-based violence more inclusive of the neediest communities. This amendment to the Violence against Women Act increased funding for domestic violence and sexual assault services specifically helping Native Hawaiian survivors who were inadvertently excluded from the funding. Roughly two-thirds of sex-trafficking victims in Hawaii are Native Hawaiian.

Another unanimous Senate vote passed the Safe Connections Act to help survivors of domestic violence and other crimes cut ties with their abusers and separate from shared wireless service plans, useful to monitor, stalk, or control victims. Abused victims and dependents in their care won’t have penalties or other requirements to separate from shared plans, and the FCC must make rules to keep calls or texts on hotlines from appearing on call logs.

Almost 200 years ago, the U.S. agreed to seat a member of the Cherokee Nation in the House as a non-voting delegate. A House vote could make that happen. The House has six non-voting delegates, including from the District of Columbia, Guam, and the Virgin Islands, who can introduce legislation and sit on committees but cannot vote on the House floor.

President Joe Biden:

Facing opposition from conservative states to his student loan forgiveness of $20,000 per person, Biden will extend the payment pause on federal student loans until 60 days after the relief plan is permitted.

The price of crude oil has dropped from almost $120 in March to $77.50, plunging over one-third of its cost from this year’s highest point. Shipping prices are lower, and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) drove investment in U.S. battery equipment manufacturing, taking the industry from China.  

Jason Easley and Sarah Jones wrote about gratitude for Biden:

“After four years of feeling like the country was careening out of control, President Joe Biden assumed office and immediately restored stability and normalcy to the country…. Biden got the pandemic under control, oversaw record-setting job growth, and made a huge downpayment on rebuilding America’s infrastructure and helping the planet. Biden has gotten Congress to function in a bipartisan way and has lived up to his promise to try to help people and make their lives better.

“Things have not been perfect. Inflation remains a stubborn and persistent problem. The Senate filibuster has stopped Biden from achieving goals like voting rights reform, an assault weapons ban, and the codification of Roe.”

Easley and Jones described Biden’s leadership:

“You may not appreciate it at the moment, but you’ll know when it is not there.

“The reason why so many Americans will be able to enjoy their Thanksgiving holiday is that a steady hand is again steering the national ship from the Oval Office.

“The feeling that there has been a dark cloud hovering over the nation has passed.”

Footnote for Biden: For many years, Fox network attacked “liberals” for their “War on Christmas.” Evidently that particular war has ended. Fox’s latest complaint is that Biden is “too pro-Christmas,” led by Laura Ingraham on her prime-time show. (The official lighting of the National Christmas Tree isn’t until November 30.) 

And then there’s the scandal about Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito leaking information to evangelical Christians before his announcements of two cases about reproductive rights. But that’s a longer story!

March 8, 2020

International Women’s Day: Warren & Electability

March is Women’s History Month, and today is International Women’s Day. The 2020 theme for today is “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights” to bring together diverse people with the goal of creating a gender-equal world. The month honors women who fought to win suffrage rights for women—accomplished in the U.S. 100 years ago–and the women who keep fighting for voting rights of others.

For me, the woman who best represents these themes is Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who dropped out of the Democratic presidential race three days ago. Last fall, she was ahead of Sanders, but since then the U.S., terrified of another term by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), talked about little else than a candidate’s electability. 

A question in the November debate was whether Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) favorite talking point, Medicare for all, would raise taxes. With characteristic honesty, Warren paused and then gave a nuanced answer that taxes might increase but costs would not. Taxes are higher in countries with universal healthcare, but costs are lower because healthcare is free. Warren then came out with a medical coverage plan that doesn’t raise taxes, but people couldn’t hear over Sanders’ bluster.

Sanders, seeing Warren as a threat, charged that a woman wouldn’t be able to beat DDT—the old electability argument. Warren offended men by addressing Sanders on his statement. Purist progressives pulled most support for Warren when she said she was “capitalist to the bone” and the U.S. “needs ICE.” They ignored her plans for Social Security expansion, universal childcare, and a green economy, practical plans instead of pie-in-the-sky hopes.

Amanda Marcotte wrote:

“Warren is a slight woman, but always feels like an outsized presence. Her towering intellect, her quick wit, her ability to crush small men like Mike Bloomberg with just her words, her skill at explaining complex ideas simply without dumbing them down, her deep well of compassion that is the thing that drove her into politics in the first place: All of this made her shine so much brighter than her counterparts on the debate stage.

“Americans apparently couldn’t see that she is a once-in-a-generation talent and reward her for it with the presidency. That is a shameful blight on us. She wrecked Bloomberg in the debate and, in the process, may well have spared us from seeing a presidential election purchased by a billionaire. We responded as we so often do for women who go above the call of duty: We thanked her for her service and promoted less qualified men above her….

“The same forces that pushed Warren out of the race — such as asking her to do the work of figuring out how to finance Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All plan, and then criticizing her for it while he skated by on generalities—offer a microcosm of how we treat women generally, and the reasons why women work so hard both at home and on the job yet make less money.

“Warren’s walk-on song for her campaign rallies was ‘9 to 5’ by Dolly Parton, an upbeat protest anthem the candidate picked because it encapsulated a feminist vision married to her long-standing fight for economic justice. In retrospect, however, the lyrics feel like a dark prophecy:

       They just use your mind and they never give you credit

       It’s enough to drive you crazy if you let it

       9 to 5, for service and devotion

       You would think that I would deserve a fat promotion

       Want to move ahead but the boss won’t seem to let me

       I swear sometimes that man is out to get me!

“The same week that Warren was pushed out of the race, the Supreme Court heard the case it clearly plans to use to repeal abortion rights. On the bench was Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual assault by at least two women and confirmed anyway. He was appointed by President Donald Trump, who, as we all know, likes to ‘grab them by the pussy.’ So yeah, suffice it to say that men have seen women (slowly, slowly) getting a little more power, and their efforts to stop us have not been subtle….

“’There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own—nobody,’ [Warren] said to the small group of people at a house party. ‘You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.’

“It sounds like common sense, but it’s a kind of common sense almost no one had articulated as concisely or as bluntly in decades—or even since. Even Sanders struggles to frame his economic populism in language that clearly illustrates the interconnected nature of our society and our economy. Only Warren is quite so good at this.

“And I think gender clearly plays a role in her sharp understanding of these systems. The way that capitalists render invisible the underpaid, thankless labor they rely on to build their fortunes parallels the way that men have long rendered invisible the amount of unpaid and thankless labor women do to make men’s lives possible: The child care, the housework, the emotional tending, the social-calendar maintenance, the status-boosting. That problem is compounded for women in the workplace, where, as Parton astutely observed, they’re often expected to do the work but not take the credit.

“Labor issues and women’s issues are inseparable, and that understanding is what Warren built her career on. It infused her campaign. It’s why so many women feel seen by Warren, who is incapable of talking about ‘women’s issues’ as if they existed in some bubble separate from the economic issues she built her career on….

“It helps, of course, that Warren is who she says she is. One really feels that no matter how many offices and accolades she accumulates, she’s still down to earth and that is exceedingly rare in politicians….

“Voting for Elizabeth Warren was like making a little wish: A wish for a world where women as bright and kind and hard-working and decent as she is—and there are many forgotten women who are many or all of those things—finally get the recognition that is their due.”

In another piece, Kerry Eleveld wrote:

“Elizabeth Warren had some incredible accomplishments this cycle. In an era of grievance and vitriol, she forced a conversation about real policies and transformative ideas and even rose to the top of the pack on them. She turned her campaign into a virtual think tank for progressive change and left a shelf full of detailed plans for the taking by any Democrat who wants to make good on them. She, like Hillary Clinton before her, became a powerful symbol for a generation of young girls who will grow up knowing that, yes, women run for office—even the highest office in the land. She saved our democracy for now from becoming a succession of billionaire scrums every four years. And on a personal note, through her smarts, compassion, decency, accountability and ingenuity, she became the only politician I have ever truly fallen for.”

Sarah Jones wrote:

“Dismissal is what happened to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a wound in the collective psyche of so many women in our country that will not heal until women are respected as important, autonomous beings with the same rights and freedoms as men, including the right to have their reputation matter. That wound changed the women in this country for a generation. It was the last straw, after Trump the predator being elected by our fellow citizens in an unspeakable betrayal.

“That wound is even larger today, the day that the last viable Democratic woman dropped out of the presidential primary, four years after the most qualified candidate in modern history ‘lost’ an election to a self-confessed sexual predator.

“To get the woman vote, a candidate needs to understand this rawness and let women know he or she is on their side, will respect them, will listen to them, will champion their rights. But Sanders is currently dismissing the Democratic votes for Biden as “establishment Democrats.” Women are as far from the establishment as one can be in this country. The ERA has yet to be ratified….

“Women shouldn’t be afraid to voice that they want someone who innately respects them. They shouldn’t be afraid that supporters on the left will attack them and threaten them for voicing their opinions and preferences. But many of them are, once again, just like they were in 2016.

“After four years of Donald Trump’s assaults on women, including nominating credibly accused rapist Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court for his lifetime, women known now, if they didn’t before, that attitudes translate to policy and to nominations, which impact them in their daily lives.”

With Warren officially suspending her candidacy, Sanders is asking for and his supporters are demanding her endorsement. In the 2016 election, she waited until the final election to endorse Hillary Clinton. She has more leverage without endorsing anyone, and she has also spoken with Joe Biden. Her goal is where she’ll get the greatest power to follow her agenda. Her complaints about both front runners echo those of many Democrats—Sanders is ineffective and Biden likes the status quo of widespread economic unfairness. Warren’s position in the senate will give her a great deal of clout.

During the last few days, the mass media on both the left and right have explained what Warren did wrong in her campaign. Imagine where she’d be if the voters weren’t determined to use electability as the primary criterion.

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