PPC News

PPC News

  • The Democratic Party and the White, Working Class

    Much has been made of the significance of the white working class vote in the 2016 presidential election. Since the New Deal the Democrats have been able to rely on this voting block—especially in the Industrial Midwest. Up to Election Day it still appeared that Hillary would carry their vote in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania as Obama and practically every other Democratic presidential candidate had done. The vote was close, but close is not a win; and though there are a whole lot of other reasons why Trump won, the failure to deliver this voting block is listed at or near the top by most pundits.

    So we Democrats are now dealing with what happened and why. How do we respond going forward? Do we write these folks off as a lost cause or do we try to change our message and our tactics to reclaim them and bring them back into the fold? My belief is that we lost the traditional-Democratic, white, working class vote for a lot of understandable reasons, that it would be wrong to write them off, and that we can get them back. Here is my take on what happened and what we can do about it.

    Who Are “Those People”?

    The white, working class population is actually quite diverse depending on what part of the country they are from, their religion, what kind of jobs and education they have, and how they feel about the issue of race. I wrote a book called Hard Living on Clay Street, published in 1973 and still in print today, (with a new 2017 edition with an endorsement by Joan Williams on the cover, “Want to understand why Trump won the election? Read this book.”). The blue collar families I wrote about were largely rural migrants to the Washington, DC, area, fiercely independent, ...

  • ACA Repeal: Fig Leaf for Cutting Taxes and Federally Funded Health Care

    The American Health Care Act, recently passed by the House of Representatives, shows the president’s and the Republican- dominated Congress’s willingness to take healthcare from millions of Americans. The effort to repeal Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act), reveals callous indifference to the economic plight of our citizens.

    “Americans have to make a choice,” stated Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). “Rather than getting that new iPhone …maybe they should invest in their own health care.” “The Medicaid population, which is (on) a free credit card as a group, do probably the least preventive medicine and taking care of themselves…,” sniffed physician-Congressman Roger Marshal
    (R-Kansas).

    These cynical attacks on the soon-to-be uninsured mask the true agenda of   Republican “health care reform”—to provide extra funds as a cushion for “tax reform”—or tax cuts for the wealthy.  Republicans want to pass massive tax cuts as part of a health care package (rather than a tax reform bill) to avoid having to offset (or make up for) the revenue losses required under the reconciliation process they favor to avoid having to work with Democrats on tax reform. This underhanded strategy, plus the Republican/Libertarian (Rand Paul) opposition to the federal government as protector of the health and welfare of its citizens, lies behind the tactics to repeal (but not replace) Obamacare.

     So, who wins if “Trump Care” (the American Health Care Act, narrowly passed by the House), survives the Senate?

    • High income earners who will enjoy millions in tax cuts
    • Upper middle class without preexisting conditions who will also enjoy tax cuts
    • Young middle class people without (known) preexisting health conditions will enjoy low insurance rates
    • People who choose to “go without insurance” (presupposing no accidents, critical illnesses, or pregnancies will occur)
    • Large Employers who would no longer be required to offer affordable health care to their employees and thus would keep billions of ...
    • POTUS 45 versus the Earth and Environment

      At this writing, the implications of the current administration for the earth and the environment are all horrifying. The greatest dangers to the health of our country and our planet besides POTUS 45 are three of his chosen executive branch leaders. First and worst is EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, a climate science denier and longtime foe of the agency he is supposedly leading. EPA spokesman J. P. Freire recently announced plans to replace scientists on scientific advisory boards with “industry scientific experts” and to cut one advisory board’s budget by 84 percent, “reflecting a lower number of peer reviews.”

      Next is Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who thought that the mission of his agency was to promote the oil and gas industry.

      Last but not least is Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who has per Trump’s executive order begun to review all National Monuments established since 1996 with an eye to at least reduce them in area to permit exploitation of oil and minerals, timber, and fish resources on these precious lands.

      In general, the administration has pushed for a wide variety of initiatives that promote fossil fuels and in various ways endanger the environment:

      • Authorizing resumption of the Keystone XL pipeline and the DAPL pipeline.
      • Pushing for more offshore oil drilling in the Atlantic, Gulf, and for offshore drilling in the fragile Arctic.
      • Attempting to revoke environmental regulations, e.g., increasing fuel economy standards for personal and commercial vehicles, controlling disposition of coal ash.

      The Administration’s proposed budget outline would drastically cut funds to the EPA, NOAA, Energy Department programs on climate research, programs for Chesapeake Bay cleanup, and on safe disposition of mining wastes.

      These draconian budget and accompanying staffing cuts are on hold until October 1; the Congressional spending agreement keeping the government temporarily in business protects many of these agencies and programs until then. ...

    • President’s Ego Trumps Voting Rights

      More than 100 days into the Trump presidency, Democrats still take bitter solace from Hillary Clinton’s three-million-vote victory in the popular vote.  Having witnessed a similar scenario with Al Gore’s popular vote victory over George W. Bush, organizations like FairVoteCommon Cause, and others are intensifying calls to replace the Electoral College with direct national elections.

      But President Trump, instead of claiming his Electoral College victory and moving on, has a far different preoccupation: He insists that he is the real winner of the popular vote—when we disregard the three to five million “illegals” he says voted. His claim is not grounded in fact; election experts have repeated said that voter fraud is extremely rare.

      This claim might easily be ignored as just another of the President’s colorful, evidence-free assertions, but for his recently hatched, taxpayer-funded, ironically named Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. While Americans across the political spectrum might welcome a commission that helps election supervisors keep their records updated, facilitates citizen participation, or protects against hacking, this is a horse of a different color, and choosing as co-chair Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach—the infamous King of Voter Suppression—speaks volumes. Kobach has been called the “most racist politician in America” and is the architect of voter restrictions that a federal court struck down after a finding that it would unconstitutionally disenfranchise 18,000 Kansans.

      What Is Voter Suppression? Designed to suppress turnout for racial, hyper-partisan, or other illicit reasons, voter suppression takes various forms. It can mean erecting obstacles to registration, like nearly insurmountable bureaucratic labyrinths for ex-offenders and others. Or reducing the number of early voting sites and eliminating early voting on days traditionally used by African American churches to organize trips to the polls. Or imposing cumbersome and unnecessary voter ID requirements to disenfranchise marginalized groups. Or—don’t laugh—by canceling the registration of voters with names similar to those of ...

    • Global Women–Targeted but Rising

      An estimated 4.5 million people worldwide sailed through the streets worldwide for the Women’s March, protesting the inauguration of Donald Trump. The president’s war on women (coincidentally?) began immediately:

       Slashing Global Aid:  Major decreases in international aid for programs supporting reproductive rights, healthcare and wellbeing will severely impact women worldwide.

      • Global Gag Rule: Just two days later, President Trump instituted the “global gag rule” (also ironically called the “Mexico City Policy”), which cuts off funding for health groups that promote, refers patients to, or advocate abortion, even if they are not using U.S. Government funding to do so. The gag rule “crippled family planning programmes” and potentially increased abortions when it was last in effect during the George W. Bush administration (The Lancet). Trump’s gag rule greatly expands the scope of government programs subject to the restriction.
      • Severe Development and Diplomacy Budget Cuts: The Trump administration’s proposed fiscal year 2018 “skinny budget” also slashes diplomacy and development budgets by over 30 percent and could include an end to a 2012 policy on Gender Equality and Female Empowerment (GEFE) that requires all projects to have a gender integration plan.
      • Sought to End Funding for “Let Girls Learn”: The administration planned to end funding for Michelle Obama’s “Let Girls Learn” initiative aimed at breaking down the barriers keeping 62 million girls out of school for fewer early marriages, and better health and economic prospects. They subsequently stepped back from that unpopular position.
      • Cuts for United Nations Population Fund: In addition, the administration seeks to cut off funding for the United Nations Population Fund that does not provide abortions but has prevented 35 million unintended pregnancies in just three years and millions more devastating injuries, infections, and death. This policy has been described as “misogyny” (The Lancet) and “pro-death” (Nicholas Kristoff,
      • Trumpian Education: 1,320 More Days to Go?

        The Trump Administration’s first 100 days have come and gone, and we are beginning to see the outline of his educational policies and their potentially destructive impact on our nation’s schools.

        The president and his education secretary, Betsy DeVos, are working to increase funds for voucher programs in schools and have made “school choice” a priority. Opponents label this effort as a privatization of public schools and view the use of public funds for private and religious schools as a “dismantling of public education.” Historically, access to public education has been a cornerstone of American democracy.  During the campaign, Donald Trump promised to fund a $20 billion school choice program, and as president, he has asked Congress to work with him in extending this effort.

        Where will this money come from? The Washington Post reports that official details, which will include $10.6 billion in cuts to the Department of Education and 22 programs on the chopping block, will be released this month.  The programs include:

        • After-school programs serving 1.6 million children, the majority of whom are poor.
        • 1 billion for teacher training and class size reduction.
        • $15 million cut in a child care program for low income- parents attending college.
        • 50 percent cut in funding for college work study.
        • End of a loan-forgiveness program that encourages students to pursue careers in under-served areas.
        • Staff decrease in the Office of Civil Rights, this office enforces civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination in academic institutions.
        • Funding cuts for mental health services in schools.

        The administration wants to spend $400 million to expand charter schools and promote school vouchers. Washington, DC’s voucher program that allows low- income students to attend private schools using federal funds has received mixed reviews—with one study showing a decrease in math performance for participating students, while another showed increased graduation rates. The Trump Administration is also requesting ...

      • Challenges to Social and Economic Justice

        Despite a win that drew heavily upon working class, the Trump administration has advanced policies that harm its prime electorate.  His agenda caters to the wealthy and businesses, funneling concentration of wealth to the top—(even while eight men have as much as 3.5 billion worldwide and Americans disapprove of record national inequality). Trump’s  spokespeople have tried to mask the damage to his voters with swift changes in topic and an attempt to make a foil of immigrants and minorities, contrasting them with whites.

        Yet these minority groups, ironically, have never held substantial power, thus how could they have made America “not great”? The overall threat is enormous: Trump seeks to reverse decades of progress won by broad-based diverse coalitions, to ignore our most pressing challenges, and to shy away from any reconciliation of the administration’s proposals with prized American values of equality, justice, and opportunity.

        Frustratingly, Trump’s cabinet appointees don’t actually believe in government. They represent a potential onslaught against programs that advance the vital public interests—a sustainable climate, clean air, a strong public education for all, and living wages.

        The first 100 days can be viewed as trail of broken promises, with considerable damage to our Republic:

        • The American Healthcare Act of 2017 did not pass within the first 100 days. And, while not scored by the Congressional Budget Office yet, it probably represents an enormous wealth transfer and harm tens of millions of Americans. Numerous healthcare and public interest groups have come out against it.
        • The administration’s tough rhetoric against undocumented immigrants has been followed by actions expanding the categories for deportation and creating an office for victim of crimes by undocumented ...
        • Woman’s National Democratic Club Memorializes Jo Cox

          On what would have been Jo Cox’s 42nd birthday, (June 22), the Woman’s National Democratic Club—along with Bryan Bettis, ONE, Oxfam, and the White Ribbon Alliance—held a moving memorial service for the slain champion of Syrian refugees and member of the British Parliament. She had been assassinated a week earlier by Thomas Mair, who resented Cox’s support for Britain’s remaining in the European Union and shouted “Put Britain First” before killing her.  Cox left behind her husband, Brendan Cox, and their two children Cuillin, age 5, and Lejla, 3.

          WNDC members  and many of Cox’s former Oxfam colleagues and other friends received  a white rose when they walked in.  Jo had been  dedicated to the White Helmets, a search-and-rescue organization seeking peace in Syria, who have saved more than 50,000 lives. She had also worked earlier at the White Ribbon Alliance to end maternal mortality.

          Services, which were held globally,  included a video stream from Trafalgar Square in which Lily Allen sang “Somewhere Only We Know” a travel sing-along for the family, and a speech by husband Brendan Cox.  Jo was celebrated for her career in international human rights, called a “modern day suffragette,” and (by White Ribbon Alliance Executive Director Betsy McCallon) a “tremendous champion of peace, diversity and inclusiveness.” Local friends also recalled her vibrancy.

          Husband Brendan Cox marveled at her energy. “Jo lived her life to the full with a pedal to the floor and with missing brake pads, she was a mountain climber, a runner, a cyclist, an avid reader, an awful cook, a swimmer, a great exaggerator, a wild food forager, a middle-lane driver, a log carrier, a ball of energy and determination and, above all else, she was a mum.”

          “She just wanted people to be happy and for the world to be a fairer place, that’s where ...

        • WNDC Campaign Committee–Off to a Great Start!

          WNDC’s 2016 Campaign Committee’s enthusiastic team is gathering momentum, meeting at the Club every Wednesday at 10:30 am to plan strategy for this crucial election season.

          So far we have:

          • Met with the Laila Mohib, Director of the Democratic National Committee’s Democratic Woman’s Alliance.
          • Hosted two seminars to explore the delegate selection process.
          • Sent information packet to resident and non-resident WNDC members about how to get involved in WNDC’s election efforts. Packets included lists of state Democratic chairs. state primary and caucus calendars, lists of primary and national election dates, state delegate selection protocols, and a script with talking points to encourage voter participation.
          • Provided (through WNDC) space for an evening reception by the Women’s Information Network, a coalition of young, progressive Democratic women.
          • Joined a DNC conference call on how to promote outreach to members and other groups this campaign season.

          Our future plans include:

          • Phone banking to get out the vote (GOTV) for our members and Democratic organizations at all levels.
          • Collaborating with and providing space with other Democratic activists.
          • Exploring other opportunities for WNDC to get involved.

          After the devastating impact of the 2014 elections, we need to SWEEP BACK into the White House, the Congress, the state governorships and legislatures, city councils, and every office.

          We need your help—as little or as much as you can give. Please join us!

          Karen Pataky
          Vice President for Public Policy and Political Action
          kjpataky@comcast.net

        • TRAP Laws Are Legislative Assault–Not Safety Rules to Protect Women

          Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt (heard by the Supreme Court on March 2) hinges on TRAP, or Targeted Regulations for Abortion Providers laws, which require clinics providing abortion services to meet the same medical standards as surgical suites providing invasive cardiac procedures, tonsillectomies, sinus surgery, and other similar procedures. The Texas law at issue in this case, which caused the majority of Texas abortion clinics to close, requires that all Texas abortion providers meet these TRAP standards.

          These regulations—which aim not to protect patients but to limit access to abortion—mandate minute and irrelevant features such as the size of procedure rooms, the size of hallways (two stretchers wide), the size of the parking lot, the type of snacks available, and the type of awnings over the entrance. Their goal is not to protect patients but to keep them from exercising their right to an abortion. Other mandates such as resuscitative equipment and infection control measures are superfluous because such medically necessary standards are already in place, and abortion providers are currently equipped to meet these standards.

          The most recent TRAP requirement abortion opponents are proposing is that abortion providers have “hospital admitting privileges,” a phony concern that is not required of other medical or dental offices. In fact, patients who present to an emergency room by ambulance or on their own most often will NOT have a physician with admitting privileges at that hospital.

          Emergency rooms are legally required to care for every person who presents for care, without exception. Every patient must be evaluated and rendered care in the emergency room by that hospital’s emergency room physicians. The presence or absence of a personal physician who has admitting privileges is irrelevant.

          The real question is whether or not facts matter. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists stated that “barriers to care — under ...

        • Celebrating Berta Cáceres and Protecting Environmental Rights

          Four days before International Women’s Day, feminist and human rights icon Berta Cáceres—a powerful organizer for indigenous rights and democracy—was assassinated. Fellow activist Nelson Garcia was also murdered less than two weeks later, on March 15, after Honduran Security forces violently evicted an indigenous Lenca community.

          Cáceres, whose mother was a midwife and governor, had started the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) when Berta was a young woman. She led campaigns on a variety of issues but is particularly celebrated for mobilizing the Lenca people against the Agua Zarca dam, which threatened their access to water, food and medicine.

          For this critical effort, COPINH built a roadblock that lasted a year. Through legal and community action, they convinced the International Monetary Fund and the Chinese company, Sinohydro, to withdraw from the project. Another Honduran company, DESA, reinstated the dam project on the Gualcarque River, which COPINH continues to oppose.

          In 2015, Cáceres was awarded the prestigious Goldman prize, comparable to a Nobel Prize, for the environment in South and Central America.

          Gustavo Castro Soto, coordinator for Friends of the Earth Mexico, was with Cáceres during the March 3 attack. Cáceres died in his arms. He was also injured, later detained, held in inhumane conditions, and questioned. After being released, he was escorted to the airport by the Mexican ambassador, but has been ordered by Honduran authorities to stay in the country for 30 days.

          These events occurred within the context of repressive Honduran leadership that has stepped up violence since the 2009 coup d’état that occurred after the democratically elected president, Mel Zelaya, ordered a non-binding straw poll to consider democratic revisions of the constitution. The Honduran military and judicial system opposed Zelaya, and he was removed from office and forcibly flown to Costa Rica. The United Nations and the Organization ...

        • Republicans Say No to “Lame Duck” Supreme Court Appointment–Who Are You Calling Lame?

          Within the first hour of the sudden death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had decisively emerged from mourning and rejoined the battle against functional democracy. “This vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President,” said McConnell. “Delay, delay, delay,” constitutional expert Donald Trump added, just to clarify. But when it comes to inaction, obstruction, and down-right sabotage, the Republican-controlled Senate already knows the drill.

          Republicans say the American people should have a voice in choosing the next Supreme Court Justice.  But the American people have spoken, and now their voice must be honored. They spoke when they denied last-honest-cynic McConnell his number one goal by reelecting Barak Obama. And each state had a voice when it originally voted to be governed by the Constitution, including Article II, which clearly states that the President “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint … Judges of the Supreme Court….”

          President Obama—an actual expert on and former professor of constitutional law—knows that. Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and all their Senate colleagues know that, too. After all, by their oath of office they swore to support and defend the Constitution.  Past presidents in their final year in office have known that, too, and have a history of performing their constitutional duty without past Senates balking at performing theirs.

          What would Justice Scalia think of this abdication of constitutional responsibility by so many of his most ardent admirers? As the expounder of textual originalism, the doctrine that one should look to the text of the law and interpret it as it was intended at the time it was adopted, Justice Scalia would have pointed out that Article II doesn’t contain any exceptions for what Republican leaders are calling a “lame duck” presidency. Even those ...

        • Trade Policy Clouds Obama’s Climate Legacy

          “Climate change is no longer some far-off problem; it is happening here, it is happening now,” said President Obama during his memorable trip to the Arctic in August 2015, just months after approving Shell’s drilling off the coast of Alaska.

          That contradiction captures the mixed record of our president on what has been described as the only issue that will matter 100and 10,000 – years out. Renewables have become the largest new source of electricity after federal tax credits were passed, state targets adopted, and costs decreased. The president had embraced an all-of-the-above climate-change strategy that included so-called “clean coal.” Nevertheless coal has experienced major setbacks. The president’s Clean Power Plan (recently stayed by the Supreme Court) and the moratorium on coal leases on federal lands, pending a comprehensive environmental review, may further weaken that polluting sector.

          Nationally, a divided Congress has blocked cap-and-trade legislation and the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies. Internationally, the president rejected the controversial Keystone XL pipeline ahead of the Paris Climate Talks, then advanced a global accord of voluntary, nonbinding commitments. If met, those commitments should limit warming to 2.7- to 3.5-degree Celsius versus longstanding, reaffirmed targets of 1.5 or 2 degrees. “By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster,” wrote the The Guardian’s George Monbiot. He, like others, highlighted the need to slow fossil fuel extraction (80 percent must stay in the ground to limit warming to two degrees.)

          The president understands climate action will be a crucial part of his legacy. Climate change will devastate humanity by transforming agriculture, hunger, war zones, and clean water supplies. Cross-cutting policies must be marshalled to limit it.

          Yet climate protections are being undermined in trade agreements. Strong efforts ...

        • Is Greenland Melting?

          Greenland got its name from Viking settlers in the 9th century during a warm period in earth’s history. Present day Greenland is white, covered with a thick ice sheet and many massive glaciers.

          But Greenland’s ice is changing as a result of human-driven increases in global temperatures. Greenland’s glaciers have been shrinking for many yearsA recent study, published in December in the scientific journal Nature, shows that Greenland’s ice loss is now accelerating much more rapidly. This study covers the years 1900 through 2010 by combining several information sources: recent marks left on the land by retreating glaciers; aerial photography; and since 1983, satellite and aircraft measurements. The data show that in 2003-2015, ice loss more than doubled in comparison to the rest of the period studied. The rate of melting is contributing an estimated 186 billion metric tons of ice loss annually, a frightening amount of meltwater to add to the already rising level of the earth’s seas.

          Ice loss will continue as global temperature increases.  The goal set by the recent Paris accords would hold the increase to below 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit. IF temperature rise slows then Greenland may stay white. Unfortunately, the latest news is that 2015 is the warmest year on record, and January 2016 the warmest January on record.

          Will the world’s nations do their part?  Will the U.S. be able to counter roadblocks from the fossil fuel industry and allied politicians?  It is time for us to educate Americans on what we must do to avoid catastrophic flooding of our planet.

          Jean Stewart, Chair
          Environment and Energy Task Force

        • Governor Snyder’s Politics Are Poisoning Flint’s Children

          Republican Governor Rick Snyder and a “Tea Party” Republican legislature gained control of Michigan in the 2010 midterm elections. Snyder was eager to implement Koch brothers-inspired changes in governance, which he characterized as “fiscal martial law.” By spring of 2011, the Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act (PA4) was rushed into law without public commentary to declare a “fiscal emergency” for any municipality or public service. PA4 set the stage for the tragedy that poisoned both the drinking water and the public trust in Flint, Michigan.

          Once the governor declares a “fiscal emergency,” he can appoint an Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) who “will exercise any power or authority over any officer, employee, department, board, commission or other similar entity of the local government whether appointed or elected.” EFMs come to power through corporate or political connections and have absolute control over democratically elected officials. There is no redress for an EFM’s decisions to seize pensions, confiscate public parks or schools for private development or outsource or insource any public workers (police for instance).

          EFM Actions: In 2013, EFM Howard Kurtz decided to end Flint’s use of clean Detroit water for cheaper water piped into by a pipeline still under construction. His successor, Darnell Earley, followed that decision with the disastrous choice to forget the proposed pipeline and immediately changed to water from the Flint River. Earley stated $1.5 million would thus be saved.

          No studies of Flint River water were ordered, and no environmental experts were consulted. But it was well known that the General Motors plant in Flint had previously refused to use Flint water “because it (the water) rusted car parts.”

          EFM Earley’s second decision, which was horrific, was to omit adding a “corrosive inhibitor treatment” to Flint River water. Omitting the corrosive inhibitor saved $140 per day but destroyed the linings ...

        • UPDATE: NEW HAMPSHIRE RESULTS ARE IN

          Trump and Sanders won, as expected, Trump with 35.3% and Sanders with 60.4%.

          Although they are often dismissed by the intelligentsia as little more than infotainment, debates really do matter, as we saw from the likely impact of Donald Trump’s absence from the pre-Iowa Caucus debate. Marco Rubio’s pounding by Chris Christie in the February 6 debate badly shook his campaign. Rubio crawled in at fifth place with less than 11%. Unfortunately for Christie, Rubio’s loss wasn’t Christie’s gain. After placing sixth with just 7.4%, Christie has withdrawn.

          Speaking of intelligentsia, Trump won the college-educated Republican vote by a margin of 14%. But among those with no more than a high school education, Trump really trumped, winning 46%, compared to next-place winner Ted Cruz, who attracted 16% of those voters.

          Clinton did worse than expected among women, who made up 55% of the Democratic vote. The reasons for her 11-point loss are complex, but she was not helped by scolding remarks by icons Gloria Steinem and Madeline Albright directed at women voters who have little experience of earlier feminist struggles.

          How much does money matter? Immediately following his win, Sanders raised a whopping $6.5 million, a one-day record. He’ll need that money and more as he heads into South Carolina and Nevada, where Clinton expects her message to resonate with African American and Hispanic voters.

          Still, “Jeb!” hasn’t seen much benefit from his massive spending, nor from the country-club demeanor that contradicts his exclamation mark. Even after his 11% showing, Bush surrogates predicted the campaign’s “resurrection”—a hopeful though hardly flattering characterization of its status.

          Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was the 15.8% second-place showing by Governor John Kasich of coveted swing state Ohio. Does this mean that the second-biggest voting block of New Hampshire Republicans actually prefers a more moderate voice? No. Hard-righters Trump ...

        • Iowa Caucus Showed Trump Victory Not Inevitable

          Until the Iowa primary, all eyes in the Republican camp seemed to be on Donald Trump. But Republican voters didn’t hand Mr. Humble the victory he assumed was his. With Ted Cruz winning with 27.6% and Marco Rubio celebrating his unexpected 23.1% third-place showing, The Donald nursed his wounded ego after his second-place 24.3% showing in typical fashion: “Ted Cruz didn’t win Iowa; he stole it.”

          Meanwhile, the leading Democratic candidates finished in a virtual tie, with 49.9% for Hillary Rodham Clinton and 49.6% for Bernie Sanders. Among the 18% of voters aged 17 to 29, Sanders won a whopping 84%, while Clinton won the support of 60% of voters over 45. Sanders won the 28% of voters who described themselves as very liberal by 19 points, while Clinton had a 23-point lead with the 28% who identified themselves as moderates.

          Although the New Hampshire primary handed Trump an impressive victory, all Republicans and both Democrats will have to work hard to turn out their base and to expand beyond it as they head into the next series of primaries.

          Gail Gottlieb
          Public Policy Committee

        • Stopping ISIS

          ISIS has now added a second murderous attack on Paris in 2015, this time hitting six targets.

          Europe has joined forces, committing to collective- defense responses to ISIS. Russia took an important symbolic step by announcing that it was in fact a terrorist bomb had downed its plane over the Sinai Peninsula.

          But no detailed common strategy has been shaped. Obama is correct (despite Republican disagreement) to say that ground troops should come mainly from the military forces of countries in the region. That judgment is not made from weakness, as Republicans would have it, but because under Obama, America will pursue the most effective strategy to eliminate ISIS.

          The crucial component of a strong strategy is diplomacy, as demonstrated by the meetings in Turkey and Vienna with all the key international players present.  The U.S., Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, Iran, Turkey, and the Gulf states haven’t yet agreed on everything, very importantly including the place of President Assad in a Syrian peace agreement. Yet they have agreed on destroying ISIS (with other objectives, explicitly or implicitly, ranked lower in importance).

          To defeat ISIS, we must listen to ISIS. Many western commentators–at least before last weekend’s carnage—emphasized western responsibility for the turmoil in the Middle East.  Among the corollaries was the position that western attacks gave the terrorists the excuse they needed for their barbarism.  Also, it has been popular to say that we shouldn’t send in troops to Syria because that is what ISIS wants.

          Whatever the truths of western responsibility, ISIS doesn’t care. Its goal is to kill as many infidels as possible. They want an Armageddon battle and to recruit soldiers on that heady narcotic. They have also proved definitively that they don’t want to be left alone in their caliphate.

          They want the world, and the world must stop them.” The strategy to ...

        • Sister Simone Campbell: On the Road to an “Economy of Inclusion”

          simonecampbellWhen Pope Francis visits the United States this month, Sister Simone Simone Campbell told a WNDC audience on September 16, he will stress “the best-kept secret of the Catholic Church”—more than 100 years of papal teaching about economic justice and living in ways that promote the common good. That message, detailed in an 1891 encyclical by Pope Leo XIII but often “forgotten” because “it makes people nervous,” will be a key theme of Pope Francis’s message to our nation and the world.

          Sister Simone, director of NETWORK (a national social justice advocacy organization) and founder of the Nuns on the Bus campaign, described the “economy of inclusion” that NETWORK (and Pope Francis) passionately promotes. Pope Francis “is trying to open the Church to the message that no one should be left out of our care or of the conversation” about our national well-being, she said.

          The Nuns on the Bus project, formed in 2012 to oppose the harsh impact of the Paul Ryan budget on the poor and middle classes, is now on its third tour throughout the nation to collect stories about the challenges and needs of people everywhere. They have been conducting a 2,000-mile tour through seven states—Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia—that are strongly marked by political divisions. The sisters hoped to present video clips of their conversations with people they met on the tour to Pope Francis ahead of his visit.

          At every stop, the sisters heard powerful stories from Americans buffeted by economic hardship and the impact of our divided politics. Sister Simone described meeting Mothers to Mothers in St. Louis, African American women who form alliances with white women to promote mutual understanding. These African American mothers face problems few white mothers could imagine, such as having to ...

        • Government to the Rescue

          Republicans appear glued to their anti-government ideology. It seems for them that only freeing up corporations and super-rich Americans to do as they please will benefit America, that is, America defined as corporate business and the super-rich.  Everyone else can breathe more polluted air, not be able to afford life-saving drugs and get killed in accidents caused by sleep-deprived truck drivers.  Recent exposés:

          1. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agencythreatened to withhold approval for 2016 Volkswagens and Audis because of discrepancies between environmental pollution tests and the far-higher levels of pollution that proved to be emitted on the road. It turns out that Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars have been built to deceive pollution emissions tests and that the so-called “defeat device” had been in operation since 2009. VW CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned September 23, three days after the revelation was made public. Three cheers for the government regulator! But note that it took six years to stop Volkswagen and that the auto industry pressured Congress to ensure the U.S. Highway Administration didn’t have the requisite regulatory powers.
          2. When Turing Pharmaceuticals acquired the cheap generic drug Daraprim, the price went from $13.50 a tablet to $750. Dr. Judith Aberg, the chief of the division of infectious diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told the New York Timesthat the price increase could force hospitals to use “alternative therapies that may not have same efficacy.” In another case, Cycloserine increased in price from $500 for 30 pills to $10,800 when drug was acquired by Rodelis Therapeutics. ButRodelis then agreed to return the drug to its former owner, a nonprofit organization affiliated with Purdue University, according to the New York Times No government regulation rescue on pharmaceutical pricing yet, but Hillary Clinton announced a plan to give the federal government authority to negotiate prices through Medicare, and she publicly criticized companies that acquire generic drugs and ...
          3. Pope Francis and the Politics of Liberation

            Pope Francis came back home to the Americas by first visiting Cuba and then the United States. It was a much anticipated visit that did not disappoint, as exemplified by the joyful crowds of everyday people as well as the famous who received him. Many of Pope Francis’s words and actions were inspiring to those who hold dear the values of justice and fairness. Yet his visit did disappoint those wishing for more or even different messages. It is this disappointment, however, that we will have to live with and embrace what we can.

            Here in Washington, the head of the Holy See spoke truth to power when he addressed a joint session of Congress, a body where Republicans hold majorities in both chambers. Raising the specters of immigration, the death penalty, and climate change, Pope Francis challenged the Congress on its chosen path of failing to seek the common good. Dialogue for achieving progress and peace are what’s missing from our politics—and this lack of engagement is hurting the country and the world, he said. Intriguingly, Dorothy Day, an American woman who founded the Catholic Worker Movement, was held up as a model. “Her social activism, her passion for justice, and for the cause of the oppressed” are what the pope wanted today’s Americans to know about someone who once walked among them not long ago. If only our elected officials were as blessed in spirit as Ms. Day (and, therefore, is it any real wonder that Speaker John Boehner decided to retire so soon after the pope’s address?).

            The parts of the papal visit that pique concern are the pope’s canonization of Father Junipero Serra, who helped colonize California, and his private visit with elected Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, who is contemptuous of her own civil authority. Both of these acts, along with no outward movement on contraception, can lead ...

          4. Glacier National Park as Climate “Canary”

            A recent tour of Glacier National Park alerted me to its importance as a predictor of the frightening changes that await us globally if we do not drastically reduce pouring carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

            The cliche “canary in the coal mine” applies directly to the situation in Glacier National Park. The temperatures in the Park have risen more than the average temperatures worldwide, bringing about huge changes in the number and size of the Park’s glaciers and snowpack.

            The Park once had 150 glaciers but now has only 25 active, moving glaciers, and some of these are already on the verge of becoming stagnant snowfields. Meticulous studies of glaciers conducted by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists show yearly acreage losses twenty percent higher in the last ten years than in the previous decade. Glacier melting has dramatically increased.

            Why should this Park’s losses matter?  Because melting is an indicator of our future, with alpine glaciers in the rest of the Rockies, the Cascades, the Andes, the Himalayas, the Alps, and Mount Kilimanjaro in East Africa also suffering severe melts.

            Meltwater from these glaciers has historically provided water to surrounding populations for drinking, irrigation, and hydroelectric power. It is estimated that over 50 percent of the world’s population gets its fresh water from glaciers.

            Other cascading effects are being seen in the changes in flora and fauna in high mountain areas. Rare and potentially valuable plants and animals adapted to a cold and icy climate cannot migrate upward much further, as they’re already near the tops of the mountains. This problem will reduce species diversity, further damaging the planet’s overall health.

            Anyone still inclined to disbelieve the reality of climate change should compare the photographs of Park glaciers in the 1920s and 1930s alongside the photographs taken by the USGS at the exact same locations in ...

          5. WNDC Members in the News

            November 6, 2015

            Stuart Brown Challenges Republican Orthodoxy on Tax Cuts

            A letter to the editor by PPC Economics/Budget Policy Chair Stuart Brown (11/ 9,)“This Is Where GDP Starts”) challenges the Republican orthodoxy that “cutting tax rates will do the trick” to stimulate economic growth.

            Not so, argues Brown, responding to a Robert Samuelson column “No Tooth Fairy on Taxes” (11/1) , which contends that middle class tax increases are inevitable because revenues from increasing taxes on the wealthy would amount to only one-quarter of our nation’s deficit.

            The big picture is much more complex, argues Brown. “The highest marginal tax rates since 1929 ranged between 25 percent and 94 percent, with an average of 62 percent, while gross domestic product growth averaged 3.4 percent. In those years when GDP exceeded 3.4 percent, the highest marginal tax rate average was 66 percent. In those years when the highest tax rate average was less than 30 percent, GDP fell 1 percent on average. When that tax rate was less than 40 percent, GDP grew on average a subpar 1.9 percent. Show me a low-tax-rate year, and I will show you a year of weak economic growth.”

            In other words, says Brown, “The real trick was getting people to link low taxes with economic growth. History shows the opposite is true.”

            Bravo, Stuart, and keep those letters coming!        

             

            Veena Trehan on Reframing and Preventing American Gun Violence

            Check out Veena’s analysis of issues to consider in addressing gun violence, published today in Nation of Change.

                           Harold Meyerson’s “Is American Splitting in Two?” Available to WNDC Members

            On November 10, Washington Post columnist and American Prospect editor Harold Meyerson presented a brilliant and engaging talk on the forces dividing the electorate and the political forces sustaining the gridlock our nation faces. Members may view the entire program in the Video Gallery on the WNDC website.

          6. Get Well Wishes to President Jimmy Carter

            The members of the Woman’s National Democratic Club were saddened to learn of President Jimmy Carter’s cancer diagnosis, and we wish him a full recovery.

            Throughout his presidency and in the succeeding years, Mr. Carter, America’s 39th President, has advocated for peace and human rights, and spearheaded humanitarian work throughout the world.  As President, he won the Nobel Peace Prize for brokering the historic 1977 peace agreement, the Camp David Accords, between Menachem Begin of Israel and Anwar Sadat of Egypt, which holds to this day.

            Through the Carter Center, founded in partnership with Emory University, President Carter has observed 100 elections in 38 countries to establish and strengthen democracies, helped to establish village-based health care delivery systems in thousands of communities worldwide, advocated to strengthen international standards for human rights, and worked with Habitat for Humanity to build homes for less fortunate families worldwide.

            WNDC members express their deep gratitude to President Carter for his outstanding contributions to our nation and the world.

            “The bond of our common humanity is stronger than the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices.” God gives us the capacity for choice. We can choose to alleviate suffering.  We can choose to work together for peace. We can make these changes- and we must.”

            From A Full Life: Reflections at 90, President Jimmy Carter.

          7. WNDC Mourns the Death of Julian Bond

            Horace Julian Bond (1940 – 2015) spent his lifetime working for civil rights in our nation.

            He was one of the original members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee that advocated for voting rights and open public accommodations for the Black community in the United States.

            He and the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., also spoke out strongly against the Viet Nam War (and were monitored by the FBI for their anti-war positions).

            Julian Bond served 20 years in the Georgia state legislature (1965 – 1985) and cofounded (with Morris Dees) the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks all forms of hate groups in the United States. He served as president of the SPLC from 1971– 1979 and remained a lifetime member of the board.

            His most recent position was Chairman of the NAACP to which he was elected in 1998. From that podium, Mr. Bond reminded his own community that LGBTs have the rights to marry and to have equal opportunities in employment and accommodations.

            Mr. Bond has been widely respected as a learned, articulate, passionate spokesperson for all citizens’ minority rights. His voice will be sorely missed in our nation.

            Our condolences to his family and friends.

          8. Support the EPA and Administration’s Clean Water Rule

            The Obama administration has been working with the EPA to help close a gap in the existing Clean Water Act, whereby they are anticipated to announce a regulation in the coming days that would protect additional water resources. The rule builds on the 1972 Act that limited point-source pollutant discharge and set quality standards for surface water. The new rule would require permits for construction, fertilizing, and excavating in areas near smaller streams and wetlands, and aims to restrict pollution at sites that feed into larger water bodies and ground water. These smaller bodies of water have been contested by Republicans over the last decade as not falling under the Clean Water Act, and since 2001 their protection has been obfuscated by the Supreme Court ruling. The administration is looking to close the gap in protecting these areas by issuing a new regulation, Waters of the U.S. However, as anticipated, Congress is proposing legislation to block this rule, and it is an important time to show support of these conservation efforts.

            Even in light of the Clean Water Act, our water resources are continually jeopardized for the benefit of private interests as demonstrated by Duke Energy’s recent breach of the Act in 2014.  In the past month a company was fined $68 million for violations of the Act stemming from their role in contaminating the Dan River in North Carolina with coal ash from improperly maintained pipes. This shows that if commercial interests are left unmonitored, water sources are jeopardized and need stronger protections, not only to preserve potable sources and aquatic life for future generations, but to ensure that these resources continue to flourish today. 

            The EPA has a public outreach campaign in place to educate and receive feedback regarding this endeavor. You can join the conversation on Twitter ...

          9. Constitution Guarantees the Right to Same Sex Marriage, Supreme Court Rules

            “The arc of the moral universe is long. But it bends toward justice.” (Theodore Parker, Martin Luther King, Jr.)

            WNDC salutes the Supreme Court’s second decision in two days that strengthens justice for all Americans.

            Citing the 14th Amendment of our Constitution, the Supreme Court has affirmed that “no citizen may be denied equal protection of its (the Constitution’s) laws.” The 14th Amendment also reaffirms that basic constitutional rights of citizens are not to be conferred or denied by legislation.

            Today the Supreme Court explicitly stated that every citizen has the right to marry whomever they choose. Mixed race marriages have previously protected under the 14th Amendment, and now same sex marriages are also officially protected under the law.

            Lest anyone misunderstand, no belittling of heterosexual marriage is implied. But the definition of marriage has now been expanded to all citizens “no matter whom they love.”

            And, importantly, the children of all marriages will be equally protected under the law.

            Karen Pataky
            Vice President for Public Policy and Political Action

          10. Health Care Is a Right, Not a Privilege

            All Americans may now exhale.

            The Supreme Court of the United States has just reaffirmed the total legitimacy of the “Affordable Care Act,” aka “Obamacare” by a 6-3 decision. As if to end all remaining arguments, the majority decision was written by Chief Justice John Roberts.

            6.4 million Americans who are presently receiving their health care through subsidies from the federal government will continue to receive that health care.

            Women will continue to receive their health care for the same cost as men.

            Preexisting conditions (including pregnancy) will continue to be fully covered by health care.

            Hospitals and clinics will continue to be reimbursed for the care of Americans who are insured through the federal exchanges.

            Legislators and commentators who advocated the termination of the ACA seem to be unaware that many Americans had very limited access or no access at all to the most basic health care for either adults or children prior the passage of “Obamacare.”

            This is America. We believe in equal justice for all. That means equal access to health care for all citizens. Now the Supreme Court has ended all of the arguments against the Affordable Health Care Act.

            Karen Pataky
            Vice President for Public Policy and Political Action

          11. The Public Policy Committee wishes to share WNDC’s message of condolence to the families and community of the victims of the Charleston, South Carolina, slayings

            Members of the Woman’s National Democratic Club wish to express shock and horror over the killing of nine parishioners from the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, last Wednesday night. It is even more agonizing that this hate crime took place during Bible study in a house of worship. Their minister welcomed this stranger into their midst, and this man, driven by hatred, instead took the lives of nine innocents. We, as a Club, are broken-hearted by this act of mass violence. Our thoughts and prayers are with the struggling community of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.     

          12. The Democratic Platform: Hillary and Bernie

            Any presidential candidate faces broad challenges in illuminating the harsh injustices of our country and endorsing specific policies to fix them. Yet this is precisely what our leaders must do to create a nation of justice and opportunity.

            We live in a nation of two (or more tiers) of experience: drinking bottled versus toxic tap water, eating organic vs. dangerous food, speeding by on privatized roads vs. sitting in traffic, accessing good vs. failing schools, and escaping or falling prey to a web of banking fraud and predatory corporate practices. Yet the ensconced economic elite makes or influences the rules.

            The wealthy take for granted—as we all should—that they are relatively protected from global shocks, that their bodily sanctity will be protected, and that traditional government services like infrastructure and education will help their families thrive.

            Below are some of major challenges ahead that any presidential candidate (or large nonprofit) should be highlighting. The following issues have a disproportionate impact on poor and middle class Americans but affect us all. These areas serve as a basis to evaluate the campaigns of leading Democratic candidates:

            Global issues have a huge impact on the stability of our country, and the opportunities of all. What is often done in the name of “national security” destroys individual security of Americans and others worldwide, contributing to radicalization globally over a fight for resources.  

            • A stable non-predatory financial system
            • Limiting climate change
            • Trans-Pacific Partnership
            • A rethinking of war and peace

            Individual rights speak to the very sanctity of one’s body. The lack of safety, food, shelter, and health care are the gravest threats to our collective security.

            • Gender safety and reproductive rights 
            • Freedom from gun violence
            • (Accountability) for and an end to police/jail ...
            • Pope Francis Hears the Cries of the Earth and the Poor

              Pope Francis has issued a revolutionary call for the human race to stop destroying the earth and human dignity. On June 18th, the Pope issued his encyclical, “Laudato Si (“Praise Be to You”) On Caring for Our Common Home,” which weaves together his calls for reversing climate change as well as ending the inequality between the poor and the rich because these issues are related. His pronouncement, based on science, harkens us all to think in terms of an integral ecology, that all living creatures are interconnected here on our mother earth. To literally save ourselves and our only living planet, we need to reform how we live and treat each other.

              It is human activity that needs to change. The Pope believes such change is possible, but we need to act swiftly. The destruction of precious resources in the name of over-consumption will leave a toxic planet for our children and our children’s children, a planet that is already experiencing the biggest crisis of mass refugees across borders since 1945, based on climate change, poverty, and war. The destructive forces of the economic markets need to be harnessed by changing our lifestyle, production, and consumption. Be thoughtful of others, including our common home of nature itself.

              “We are not faced with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather one complex crisis which is both social and environmental,” as Pope Francis perceptively declares. A dying planet is hurting the poor among us by exacerbating their already meager living conditions. Toxic soil, polluted air, dirty water cannot sustain life.  We must dignify our sisters and brothers living in poverty by cleaning up how we, in the rich nations, harm them.  We must be mindful of dignifying their very existence by preserving the commons.

            • Condolences to Families and Community of Charleston, South Carolina Murder Victims

              The members of the Woman’s National Democratic Club wish to express our shock and horror over the Jun 17 killing of nine parishioners from the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC: Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Hon. Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Rev. Daniel Simmons, Sr., Rev. Sharonda Singleton, and Myra Thompson. It is even more agonizing that this hate crime took place during a Bible study group in a house of worship. Their minister welcomed this stranger into their midst, and this man, driven by hatred, instead took the lives of nine innocents. We, as a Club, are broken-hearted by this act of mass violence. Our thoughts and prayers are with the struggling community of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

            • An End to Conflict between Israel and Palestine: Not So Fast

              Peace between Israel and Palestine seems to be a crown jewel locked away in a back room. But is the door shut forever?  Certainly, no negotiations are currently underway. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won the March 17 Israeli election, backtracking on his half-hearted support for the two-state solution to the conflict and thumbing his nose at President Obama by accepting a Republican invitation to address a joint session of Congress without Obama’s knowledge. Forty-seven Republican members followed up his address with a further slap at Obama, sending a letter on nuclear negotiations to the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, undercutting the President’s exercise of his constitutional responsibility over American foreign policy.

              What next? We wait. Netanyahu is expected to form a government that will move Israel further right and further away from a two-state solution. The President and the U.S. foreign policy establishment will be relentlessly focused on the Iranian nuclear negotiations up to the deadline for agreement at the end of June. From the U.S. perspective, the next big moment of opportunity to restart the peace process may well be in the fall, following Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. in September. France and other countries may force earlier action on the Israel-Palestine conflict. France has said it plans to introduce a resolution into the UN Security Council soon after a new Israeli government is formed with the terms of a framework agreement to end the conflict.

              The WNDC held a forum on the status of Israel-Palestine negotiations on April 1. Joining Warren Clark, WNDC member and Director of Churches for Middle East Peace, was Alan Elsner, Vice President for Communications at J Street, a pro-Israel, pro-peace advocacy organization.  Neither panelist was optimistic about the immediate future, especially for the outcome of the two-state solution that both espoused. In Elsner’s view, that dream is further away than ...

            • Violence in West Baltimore and Our Nation

              Once again our hearts are heavy with news of the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray and the subsequent uprising and military presence in Baltimore. Yet we see in this dark moment a bright opportunity to give meaning to his death. We lift our voices in a plea to stop failing the citizens of Baltimore and this nation.

              Freddie Gray was arrested, ran, and then was pursued and placed in a police van. He died a week later from a fractured spine sustained in police custody. His violent death, while tragic, is also emblematic of a larger struggle over resources, militarization, and our collective values.

              We live in a nation of routine police harassment with more than 100 people having won settlements or court judgements for violations of civil rights or police brutality in Baltimore in the last four years.

              We live in a nation of 5600 deaths by police since 2000 .

              We live in a nation where white people destroying property after sports games are described as “students” and “demonstrators,” while African American youth protesting economic violence are called “looters” and “thugs.” We live in a nation where 1.5 million black men have been disappeared through a system that increasingly disenfranchises (takes away their democratic rights) and jails (creates corporate profit from) them.

              But for eyewitnesses and video (given the “failure” of the police camera ), Freddie Gray would also be gone without note. Freddie Gray lived in a city that burned with rage after Martin Luther King’s death, yet despite the glamorous Inner Harbor being built, there are few jobs in Freddie’s desolate West Baltimore neighborhood.

              Few politicians consoled Freddie Gray’s family or community. But when crowd violence began, the police and National Guard were deployed in full riot gear. Concrete ...

            • House GOP Mandates Motherhood after 20 Weeks

              On May 13, 2015, the GOP-dominated House of Representatives passed a national ban on abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation. There had been no public notification of the upcoming legislation, and there were no hearings.

              This ban is disguised as concern for “fetal pain”—a myth that reveals a lack of knowledge of the scientific facts of fetal development. Maturation of the brain and spinal cord is not present until around 32 weeks.

              Anti-choice advocates cite the “startle response” in the fetus as evidence of “feeling pain,” but, again, the scientific facts are different. The “startle response” is only a primitive jerk reaction to vibrations applied to the pregnant woman’s abdomen.

              The last rebuttal to “fetal pain” is that women whose abortions take place at 15 weeks or greater are always sedated with two medications, both of which cross the placenta to the fetus.

              So what is the real agenda of the 20-week abortion ban?

              There is a contingent of politicians and voters who assert their own freedom of beliefs but also insist they have the right to deny women (and their doctors) medical choices about how to manage unplanned or malformed pregnancies.

              So, have we as a country decided that the GOP-dominated Congress has the right to mandate motherhood after 20 weeks? What else will the government mandate that will intrude on intimate family decisions and also meddle in the doctor- patient relationship?

              Karen J. Pataky, NPC
              Vice President for Public Policy and Political Action

              Chair, Health Care Task Force 

            • Senator Mikulski Joins National Democratic Institute to Honor Women of Afghanistan

              The National Democratic Institute (NDI), joined by Senator Barbara Mikulski, honored the Worker Women Social Organization (WWSO) of Kandahar, Afghanistan, at its annual Madeline Albright Luncheon on May 12.

              Senator Mikulski, introduced by Secretary Albright, began by stating that “we must lift up our own country.” She said she is working to create a “zone of civility” in the U.S. Senate to reduce partisan animosities.  

              Senator Mikulski told the large crowd that her mission extends beyond her political priorities for America to include empowering women and girls worldwide. “Change is in the air,” she said, and the message to Afghanistan should be: “we haven’t forgotten you.”  

              “Democracy is not in decline,” she said. We should celebrate the progress women are making in Afghanistan in pushing women’s participation in politics and continue demanding the right to vote. “More books, less bombs” should be the motto. 

              The wife of Afghanistan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, Rula Ghani, also spoke.  Her message was that women are strong in Afghanistan, and there are increasing numbers of in women in politics. Women are tackling sensitive issues, questioning, for example, the credentials of the clergy and fighting for the rule of law, the creation of small businesses, and better living conditions.

              Khalida Noori the director of WWSO, accepted the award for her organization. She said that WWSO helps women and youth address critical social needs such as education, health care, civil rights and legal literacy.   

              WWSO will use the Madeleine Albright award to conduct seminars for a core group of young women on democratic leadership and political participation and to facilitate their entry into the job market. 

              Elizabeth Clark, Chair
              International Affairs Task Force

            • A Second Look at the Rolling Stone Article on Rape at UVA

              The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism recently published a review of Rolling Stone’s “A Rape on Campus.” The magazine retracted the story. But as we read of the media blasting Rolling Stone’s reporting, we believe it is important to look at the greater context.

              The Columbia Journalism School’s review discussed magazine staff working for six months on the story. Author Sabrina Erdely interviewed “Jackie” eight times, and fact checkers spoke with her for four hours. The periodical also reached out to the university and students. However, it ultimately became clear that the fraternity did not have a party that night, and the information about the organizer of her rape was inaccurate (although friends believe she was sexually assaulted by multiple men). The review concluded the major error was the heavy reliance on Jackie’s narrative. Certainly “Jackie” was deceptive with Erdely about the identities of her date for the night, as well as those of other friends. But Rolling Stone should have insisted on speaking to her friends, seriously questioned the use of pseudonyms, and clearly reported information sources.

              Rolling Stone’s failure on this crucial story comes after many successes. Roughly a decade ago, it diversified from music journalism to outstanding political reporting. The magazine provided the best analysis of the financial crash and subsequent lawsuits through Matt Taibbi’s vivid columns, and outstanding coverage of climate change science and the “war on terror.” Indeed, its fact-based, agile reporting often highlighted biased or weak coverage in other media.

              So how could Rolling Stone have mismanaged this story? Probably because they wanted to protect the victim. Erdely made the mistake of tolerating Jackie’s inaccessibility for two weeks (while Erdely was writing the story), probably because she viewed Jackie’s behavior as “consistent with a victim of trauma,” as the report noted. Surely the magazine—which previously ...

            • Medical Malpractice Mandated by Arizona Anti-Abortion Law

              A new Arizona law demands that physicians lie to a woman in the process of a medical abortion by telling her there is a hormonal injection that will predictably and safely reverse the first of two steps she has taken to induce such an abortion.

              The protocols for safe and effective medical abortions have been derived over the past 15 years by both the FDA and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. These evidence-based protocols have resulted in safe, effective procedures for millions of women in America and Europe.

              But the politics of abortion have produced a scenario that would be unimaginable in any other medical circumstances. Under this new law, the government intrudes on the doctor-patient relationship with a government mandated script that a physician must follow or be at legal risk of loss of license or incarceration.

               Why is this law medically unacceptable? Approved and standardized protocols include the use of two medications given in ONE office visit:

               1) Mifeprex, Ru486, is swallowed under observation. Its purpose is to interfere with the ongoing growth of the pregnancy.

               2) Misoprostol is dispensed (prepared in sealed standard dose form by pharmacist). Its purpose is to initiate uterine contractions, which expel all of the pregnancy products. A follow-up sonogram is done two weeks later to document no further pregnancy in the uterus.

              BUT, if the woman is forced to return to the medical office for the second medication (misoprostol) and then falsely given the option of attempting to reverse the effects of the mifeprex, she may be at risk for multiple severe complications:

              • Hemorrhage from retained pregnancy products
              • Sepsis and death from retained pregnancy products
              • Late-term miscarriage with hemorrhage and/or sepsis
              • Premature birth of fetus with deformities

            • Oklahoma City Bombing Exposed Home-Grown White Terrorism

              On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols parked a rented truck filled with explosives outside of the Alfred P. Murrah federal office building in Oklahoma City. The explosion was so powerful it destroyed the entire structure, which included a Day Care Center that housed children of the employees. Three hundred other buildings in a 16-block radius were also damaged; 168 people were killed, 16 of whom were children.

              Until 9/11, the Oklahoma City bombing was the worst act of terrorism against mainstream Americans in our history.

              Within a few days, McVeigh and Nichols were identified, arrested, and proudly admitted their terrorism. They were army veterans and had declared fiercely anti-government views. Their stated rationalization for the Oklahoma murders was the supposed DEA “massacre” of 80 Branch Davidians (an eccentric Christian religious group) in Waco, Texas, two years previously.

              Five years after the Oklahoma City bombing, a small memorial was created on the grounds with an empty chair for each murdered citizen. Twenty years later, April 19, 2015, a larger memorial, museum and reflecting pool were dedicated to the country in remembrance of that terrorism. President Bill Clinton officiated, as he had done immediately after the original bombing.

              There had been numerous acts of domestic terrorism before “Oklahoma City,” but the victims were hidden because they were largely non-white and non-Christian. Numerous lynchings, synagogue and church burnings, beatings, and rapes were common but were kept secret within communities.

              After Oklahoma City was bombed and the bombers’ likely ties to the local militia were revealed,  it became clear that there was a vast network of KKK, neo Nazis, white supremacists, militias, survivalists, racist skinheads, black separatists,  other such groups  that have been widespread and well organized. Federal and local law enforcement agencies were forced to acknowledge their ...

            • Earth Day 2015: A Time for Celebration, Rededication, and Cool Calculation

              Forty-five years ago, Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI) established a special national day to celebrate the glory of the Earth and to raise awareness of the need to protect the fragile natural ecosystems upon which all life depends.

              Back then, Nelson was already responding to changes in the global environment that he found alarming: rapidly increasing human numbers, accompanied, in rich countries, by historic levels of consumption and attendant deterioration in the quality and accessibility of natural resources. Species extinction and global climate change were not yet part of Earth Day’s vocabulary. But even in the 1970s, Nelson saw a decline in the ease with which the earth’s natural systems could furnish ample food and fresh water for all its inhabitants and ready supplies of coal, oil, and gas to provide energy for surging industrial demands.

              Fast forward to 2015, when every day sees new evidence of lost biodiversity and existential threats to sustainable life from the rapid warming of the earth’s atmosphere. Images in scientific reports taken in a wide variety of environments show the natural world we have known and loved eroding and vanishing before our eyes: calving icescapes, acres of clear-cut forests, shrinking Pacific islands, receding rivers and lakes, decimated animal, bird and insect migrations.

              What makes it harder to reverse course is that we are complicit in this unraveling of our only habitat. In our pursuit of comfort and economic growth, we are inexorably involved in inducing and accelerating these often irrevocable natural disruptions. In fact, as agents of these changes, we have earned a label proposed for our age, the Anthropocene, “a geologic chronological term for an epoch that begins when human activities have had a significant global impact on the Earth’s ecosystems.”

              Clearly, the People’s Climate ...

            • Pay Equity? We Are Not There Yet

              National Pay Equity Day, April 14, pointed attention again to the persistent gap between men’s and women’s wages. Men have traditionally brought home significantly better annual and lifetime wages than their female co-workers. Rationales for maintaining this gender gap have been:

              • Men have families to support .
              • Men’s egos suffer more severely if their wages are not higher than women’s wages.
              • Women work fewer hours due to family responsibilities.
              • Women take time off from their careers to have and care for children.

              In recent years, society has begun to look at hourly wages, which provide a clearer picture of the unreasonable wage disparities between men and women. And the disparity increases with gains in income status, according to the Economic Policy Institute

              The pay disparity seemed to have improved through the 1980s from $0.60 per $1.00 in the 1960s through the 1980’s, but in the 1990s, as a recession was emerging, women lost percentage wage gains. Now a woman earns $ 0.77 to every $1.00 a man earns in a comparable job with comparable experience and comparable background education.

              President Obama and the Congress tried to rectify the pervasive unfair labor practices that determined Lilly Ledbetter’s pay for work at the Goodyear plant in Gadsden, Alabama, for almost 20 years, when she was denied pay raises that were awarded to her male counterparts. She was unaware of the pay discrepancies until co-workers bragged about their salaries.

              The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is a small beginning. Compliance is still only “voluntary.” And many companies mandate new employees to sign a “non-disclosure” clause prior to hiring—which forbids them to discuss wages or other benefits among themselves [or with comparable competitive employers. Non-disclosure clauses are illegal under National Labor Relations Board regulations but are not well enforced at the state ...

            • Earth Day Is April 22 Water, Water, Everywhere, Nor Any Drop to Drink

              This famous line from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is becoming ever more true for our planet with each succeeding Earth Day. Sea levels are rising as polar ice and glaciers melt at an ever-increasing pace. At the same time, California faces an historic drought, and other parts of our country and the world are seeing either too little precipitation or too much too fast to replenish aquifers. 

              A recent television documentary focusing on the rapidly retreating glaciers in the Alps called them “Europe’s water towers.” A similar description can be applied to the glaciers of Mount Kilimanjaro, which have provided water for drinking and raising crops for surrounding areas of East Africa. But Kilimanjaro too is losing its snows. Climate change is a clear and alarming process to a majority of scientists, and is becoming more obvious to ordinary people with eyes to see. Leading climate scientists estimate that we have until 2030 to take action to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, before it becomes a runaway train.

              Climate change deniers are in the minority. But they hold the levers of power in this country. From the governor of Florida, a state more threatened by “water, water everywhere” than perhaps any other, to the fossil fuel barons like the Koch Brothers, to organizations like The Heartland Institute that spread anti-scientific untruths, the deniers push efforts in Congress and state legislatures to defeat any action to deal with the near and present dangers posed by climate change. 

               With Earth Day upon us, we need to speak out, to educate, to participate in demonstrations, and to pressure the Congress and state legislatures to pass pro-earth legislation. We need to stand behind President Obama’s strong initiatives to regulate and reduce carbon emissions ...

            • Letter from Oklahoma: Let’s Not Trash a Judicial Selection System that Works

              Throughout the nation, political forces are working to erode the impartiality of judges by increasingly subjecting them to elections. This open letter from Oklahoma—to legislators and other concerned citizens in that state—details why higher court judges should be insulated from political influence.   

              April 6, 2015

              We are writing as concerned citizens of Oklahoma who are worried that forces in the state are trying to change the judicial system that has served our state well since 1967. That year, a constitutional amendment changed the system of popularly electing judges to our state’s highest courts, which had led to a huge scandal involving bribery and corruption in the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

              That scandal was detailed in a 1997 book, Justice for Sale: The Shocking Scandal of the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

              Now, under that constitutional amendment, a Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC)—composed of lawyers and non-lawyers chosen by the governor, members of the bar, the speaker of the House of Representatives, and the president pro tempore of the Senate—carefully vets potential justices, in a process that includes questioning them in person and having the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation  investigate each. The JNC recommends the three most qualified candidates for a high-court post (on Oklahoma’s Supreme Court, Court of Civil Appeals, or Court of Criminal Appeals), and the Governor appoints one of those.

              Oklahoma still elects judges for its 26 judicial districts, which handle most cases in the state. But voters are more likely to know Judges and Associate Judges of a District Court personally, or to know about cases they have tried. Those seeking to be on the higher courts must campaign statewide, making them susceptible to influence from rich donors who can finance expensive media buys to reach voters.

              Let’s not trash ...

            • Let’s Show Mitch McConnell that Democrats Don’t Give Up

              “If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake.” Thomas Jefferson

              On Tuesday, Election Day 2014, all that “hopey-changey stuff” took a terrible beating from a raging red tide. Angry voters swept away Democratic control of the Senate and of many governors’ mansions. As we survey the wreckage, we must look both back and forward to regain our balance, renew our hope, and set our sights on the future our country deserves.

              Ten years ago, Barack Obama electrified the 2004 Democratic convention with the message that “there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America — there’s the United States of America. There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America. The pundits like to slice and dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too….We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.”

              Today, that vision seems to be in shreds. A furious electorate, blaming President Obama for Republican-inspired catastrophes like the 2008 financial collapse and the rise of ISIS (a direct result of President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq) unleashed their anger on Democratic candidates—ignoring the President’s impressive successes in fixing those very problems. Senator McConnell’s cynical strategy of blaming President Obama for the impact of highly organized Republican opposition to all his proposed solutions has worked brilliantly. Mitch McConnell will be the majority leader of an increasingly belligerent and solution-averse Senate. The pessimists among us might be ...

            • WNDC Marches on Climate Change—A PPC Report

              Climate March insertA Stunning Day in September: The Perspective of a Climate Activist

              Being at the People’s Climate March was awe inspiring. Waves of indigenous people, labor activists, faith organizations, college students, and environmental groups streamed through the streets of Manhattan flooding it, this time, with hope and optimism. The diverse groups embodied a collective conscience that showed how unchecked climate impacts would dwarf their other successes.

              They flew seagulls, hoisted colorful banners, rode an ark, posed with insightful signs, and played instruments in an unmatched visual spectacle. Over 300,000-plus people fed off the energy of enthusiastic marchers worldwide on screens dotted along the route. The lively event went mute at 12:58 p.m. when we observed a moment of silence for victims of the climate crisis. Then the rainbow of individuals sounded the alarm.

              The largest climate rally amazed those new to activism while astonishing long-term advocates. A fellow walker in the latter category wrote me how she wished she could do the march every day. I agreed. Click here to read more.

              Veena Trehan

              Public Policy Committee

            • Poverty Rate Decreases—But Still Not Time to Celebrate!

              Income and Poverty in the United States: 2013

              Data released by the Census Bureau on September 16, shows that the official poverty rate fell from 15% in 2012 to 14.5% in 2013, the first decrease since 2006. The data in this report come from the 2014 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement.

               As of 2013, there were 45.3 million people living at or below the poverty level, and for the third consecutive year, the change in the number of people living in poverty was not statistically significant. Furthermore, real median household income remained stagnant. The change from $51,759 in 2012 to $51,939 in 2013 was not statistically significant for the second year in a row, following two previous years of declines.

               A primary factor in the declining poverty rate was the significant decrease in the poverty rate for children under the age of 18, which fell for the first time since 2000. The poverty rate for children declined from 21.8% to 19.9% between 2012 and 2013, with the number of children living in poverty falling from 16.1 million to 14.7 million. Despite this improvement, the poverty rate for children remained higher than the rate of poverty among people aged 18 to 64, and those aged 65 or older. In addition, about 1 in 5 related children under age 6 remained in poverty. Little was changed in poverty rates among people over the age of 18.

              The poverty rate among Hispanics fell from 25.6% in 2012 to 23.5% in 2013, and the number of Hispanics living in poverty decreased from 13.6 to 12.7 million. In comparison, there was not a statistically significant change in the poverty rate for non-Hispanic Whites (9.6%) or for non-Hispanic Blacks (27.2%).

               The report also shows that ...

            • Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Speaks at Cooper Union

              Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in New York for the UN General Assembly, gave an address at Cooper Union College on Monday. The event was sponsored by Churches for Middle East Peace. President Abbas was introduced by Ambassador Warren Clark, executive director of Churches for Middle East Peace and a WNDC member, who was also interviewed by news media after the speech. 

              President Abbas’s  speech made repeated references to great figures of American history, including Abraham Lincoln, who spoke at Cooper Union, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Abbas compared the courage shown by President Obama and Secretary Kerry in pursuing Middle East peace to the courage demonstrated by Lincoln’s  in arguing “at this very podium”  for the end of slavery. He called on his audience to “rethink Palestine,” and urged the students listening to him to follow the “Seeds of Peace.”  “Seeds of Peace” is an organization, founded in 1993, that brings together Israelis, Palestinians and other high school students in Maine every summer.

              Planned protests of his speech did not materialize, although his appearance was highly controversial. 

              Speech can be heard  here.  

            • OSCE’s Michael Link Touts “Relevance” of Alliances in Ukraine Crisis

              President Obama is absolutely correct to emphasize building alliances and working to strengthen international organizations to stop ISIS (see “Defeating ISIS—The U.S. Leads a United WorldPPC News 9/11).  It is also correct policy in dealing with the crisis in Ukraine. 

              On September 11, Michael Link, the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) director of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), spoke in Washington on the “OSCE’s New Relevance and the Ukrainian Crisis.”

              No other organization has OSCE/ODIHR mandates, with its Russia/Ukraine border monitoring mission, drone surveying, and election observation. OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) recently took measures (commended by Chairperson-in-Office and Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter) to rapidly adapt to new monitoring needs arising from the protocol signed in Minsk on September 5.  The SMM also has a clearinghouse mechanism among the parties to deal with cease fire violations.

               Ambassador to Ukraine Ambassador Tagliavini represents the OSCE Chairmanship in a tripartite Contact Group that also includes Ukraine and the Russian Federation. An OSCE official is the only other official at the podium with Vladimir Putin when ceasefires and negotiations have been announced. ODIHR was the organization monitoring the May 25 early Presidential elections, which were a key element in moving towards a solution to the crisis in Ukraine.

              With 57 participating States in North America, Europe and Asia, the OSCE is the world’s largest regional security organization. If an organization like OSCE—with   its permanent principles of cooperation and consultation as a way of solving and avoiding crises—existed in the Middle East, Mr. Link observed, it would make a vast difference. The post facto building of ad hoc alliances is less effective. “You need rules,” Link said, quoting James Madison, “men are not angels.”


              Elizabeth Clark, Chair, PPC International ...

            • Defeating ISIS—The U.S. Leads a United World

              The methods and strategy that will defeat the barbarous Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are necessarily “on another planet” from the ISIS world of bloody beheadings and murderous genocides. It is world of interdependence, multilateral cooperation, and action among international and regional organizations. The global unanimity on ISIS is overwhelming—and will reinforce a drive to defeat its ruthless ambitions. 

              Indeed that reinforcement is happening now as the UN unanimously condemns ISIS under an UN Charter article that includes the use of military force. The UN crossed into Syria to deliver humanitarian aid without Syria’s permission, theoretically violating Syrian sovereignty. The Arab League is speaking out and acting against ISIS, in de facto alliance with the U.S.

              Significantly, at its recent summit meeting in Wales, NATO put the ISIS threat on the NATO table, making it clear that threats NATO must deal with are not artificially contained in one regional framework.

              A new idea that is surfacing is that we don’t need fewer international organizations to secure global order, we need more. A New York Times editorial (August 24) stated that “creating a new regional force may be required” to combat ISIS.

               The US cannot “go it alone,” nor can it opt out. U.S. leadership, as President Obama stated yesterday, is the one constant in an uncertain world. We are the indispensable nation leading from within alliances and international and regional organizations. There is little evidence that the Republican Party accepts this new world, however.  After Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) spoke of the vital work of building alliances to combat ISIS on PBS News Hour, his Republican counterpart, Jim Inhofe, spoke only of attacks and threats to the homeland, and repeatedly attacked the President for not having a strategy. But the President ...

            • Poverty Disproportionately Affects Minority Children

              The 2014 Kids Count Data Book released July 22 by the Annie E. Casey Foundation includes some worrisome facts about child poverty in our country. The official child poverty rate, which had dropped to 16 percent from 1990 to 2000, reached 22 percent by 2010 and remains roughly at that level. Growing up in poverty is one of the greatest threats to healthy development. The chart below from the report shows disparities in poverty rates among minority and non-Hispanic white children. .   

               

                                       Race and Ethnic Gaps in Well-Being of Children

               

               

              African American

              Hispanic

              American Indian

              Non-Hispanic White

              Children in poverty

              40%

              34%

              37%

              14%

              Children whose parents lack secure employment

              49%

              38%

              49%

              24%

              Children living in households with a housing cost  burden

              51%

              50%

              35%

              29%

              Children living in high-poverty areas

              30%

              23%

              28%

              4%

              Source: The Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2014). 2014 KIDS COUNT Data Book. Baltimore, MD: Author. Retrieved from http://www.aecf.org/resources/the-2014-kids-count-data-book/.

            • Spotlight and Solutions for Campus Rape

              On July 13, New York Times published “Reporting Rape and Wishing She Hadn’t,” a disturbing narrative of how Hobart and William Smith Colleges handled a rape allegation by a freshman. The victim, Anna, and witnesses described her being raped by members of the school’s popular football team while other students photographed these acts.

              After accusing her assailants, Anna was harassed by other students and subjected to threats and obscenities on her dorm door. She did not receive justice: the college investigative panel ignored key evidence, misrepresented Anna’s and witnesses’ statements, and repeatedly interrupted Anna as she attempted to testify. The panel immediately cleared the accused, issuing a statement of their decision only a few hours after the last witness had testified. A local prosecutor also dismissed the case, despite DNA evidence, claiming that he had “nothing to work with” by the time he got the case.  

              Student-victims like Anna often report their assaults to their colleges, which cannot discriminate by sex if they receive federal funding, according to Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972. The Department of Education clarified in 2011 through a “Dear Colleague” letter that sexual harassment and violence interferes with the right to a non-discriminatory educational environment. Students’ option to report the crime to the police (rather than rely on the university to handle the case) does not negate the responsibility of universities to provide a safe learning environment. Anna’s story—and  many others, like the settlement by University of Connecticut with five student sexual assault victims for $1.28 million—show that our institutions of higher learning need immediate, systemic reform.

              As a result of hundreds of cases like Anna’s, students have mobilized, filing Title IX complaints that have resulted in federal investigations at ...