WNDC Offers Condolences to Beirut and Paris
The Woman’s National Democratic Club wishes to express our condolences to the citizens of France and Lebanon as their countries reel from this latest assault on western principles of democracy and freedom.
Paris, the City of Light, and Beirut (once known as the pearl of the Middle East) suffer today. To all citizens of France and Lebanon, we extend our support. To quote President Obama about the Paris attacks, “the killing of innocent people based on a twisted ideology is not just an attack on France…it’s an attack on the civilized world.”
Compounding these tragedies was the lack of coverage of the November 12 attacks in Beirut, where a pair of suicide bombers killed 43 citizens and wounded 200 more. American media did not report the attack and within 24 hours all news was overtaken by the Friday 13 evening terrorist attacks in Paris.
Both of these horrendous assaults on civilization merit our attention, compassion, and grief.
Terrorists frighten us and can murder many innocent people. Yet we must consider how our current leaders and those candidates still to be elected should collaborate in a worldwide effort to contain the barbarism.
We decry all efforts to deny asylum to refugees from the same types of murderous violence just unleashed on Paris and Beirut. And as Americans, we must face a future in which we ensure that our own fears do not overtake our humanity.
WNDC Supports President Obama’s Climate Change Initiatives
The WNDC applauds President Barack Obama’s tough, courageous stands on climate change—particularly his recent decision to formally reject TransCanada’s request to build the cross-border Keystone XL Pipeline. Climate change affects the future health and stability not only of the United States but also of the entire world.
The Keystone Pipeline would have carried tar sands oil, the dirtiest kind of oil, from Canada across much of the U.S. agricultural heartland to ports on the Gulf Coast. Blocking the Pipeline will protect precious aquifers and send a clear message to the world that the U.S. intends to take dramatic action against industries that contribute so heavily to pollution and climate destabilization.
WNDC also supports the Clean Power Plan, in which the EPA will take administrative action to greatly reduce carbon emissions from U.S. power plants. The Clean Power Plan will enable states to cut up to 870 million metric tons of carbon per year, more than taking 166 million cars off the roads each year.
Opponents of these initiatives in the fossil fuel industry and in Congress, including some Democrats from coal and oil producing states, are ignoring the immediate threats to the earth and to the human race from increasing human-produced greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Opponents in Congress cite “job-killing” regulations by federal agencies such as the EPA” and the supposed promise of the Keystone Pipeline to provide “thousands” of new jobs.
But arguments based on jobs are a fantasy. Jobs created by the Pipeline would be temporary and would disappear once construction is completed.
The WNDC encourages all Americans, especially our members and supporters, to advocate with our representatives, the EPA, and the public for meaningful action on climate change.
We ask everyone to stand behind our courageous President, particularly at the UN climate change summit in Paris, to lead the world in addressing this major threat to the future of the earth.
WNDC STATEMENT: No Place in America Is Safe from Gun Violence
Americans suffered another “mass shooting” (four or more people killed) on October1, 2015, at Umpqua Community College in rural Oregon. “Our thoughts and prayers are not enough,” as President Obama stated at his October 1 news conference. We must demand immediate action on gun safety from every elected official and candidate for every office.
Just four months ago, another mass shooting took place June 17, 2015, at Emmanuel Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, when nine African American worshippers were gunned down during an evening prayer service.
Americans have witnessed 43 mass killings since April 20, 1999, when 13 students were slaughtered at Columbine High School in Colorado. We have become numbed by the violence and paralyzed by the National Rifle Association’s political power and demagoguery.
Before 2008, gun ownership had been limited by the “well-regulated militia” clause of the Second Amendment. Individual gun ownership was not the norm. But Supreme Court’s 5:4 decision in 2008, Heller v. the District of Columbia, overturned the District’s ban on individual gun ownership, allowing the possession of firearms for “self-protection.”
The NRA began preaching that all citizens must protect themselves from the federal government and its power to regulate guns. The NRA mantra is “You can only rely on yourself” and “every citizen must have a gun.”
But most Americans favor some common-sense restrictions.
We can focus on individuals who can be identified as a threat to society and should not be allowed to own a gun, such as convicted domestic abusers, convicted murderers, suspected terrorists, people with diagnosed violent mental illness, and some dishonorably discharged veterans.
We can renew the ban on the sale of military- style weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines in the consumer market, including online sites and gun shows.
We can demand mandates for safe storage of all firearms to prevent children from accidently murdering each other.
This is a major election year. Now is the time to take action to stop the slaughter of children, worshippers, police, and citizens, as well as attempted assassinations of our political leaders.
WNDC urges our members, supporters, and every citizen to demand that every local, state, and national candidate endorse strong, comprehensive measures to stop the mass and individual murders that now plague our nation.
WNDC Salutes President Obama’s Diplomatic Response to Iran’s Nuclear Threat
WNDC applauds the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) negotiated over a period of two years by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry with China, France, the Russian Federation, the UK, a “High Representative of the European Union,” and the Islamic Republic of Iran to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
The JCPOA, though not perfect, represents the best possible opportunity to prevent Iran from building its capacity to launch nuclear weapons in the immediate future. The major powers cited above and many multinational co-signers agree that the agreement forecloses Iran’s path to the bomb and holds that nation responsible for its conduct before the international community.
Those who object to the deal because they do not trust Iran or consider the deal imperfect have not considered the alternatives. If this deal does not pass (or if the U.S. separates itself from the other negotiating nations), Iran is free to proceed toward developing a nuclear capacity within a very short time.
We are disappointed in our fellow Democrats who have chosen not to vote for the agreement and in Republicans who have rejected the agreement. The security of the world hangs in the balance, and we owe it to our nation to support this carefully negotiated deal. A successful “no” vote in Congress would have led to international distrust of America and would diminish America’s influence in future international negotiations.
WNDC encourages all Americans—especially our members and supporters—to wholeheartedly support the implementation of the JPCOA multinational agreement and requests that reluctant legislators resolve to support our courageous President.
WNDC Salutes Senator Harry Reid
The Woman’s National Democratic Club applauds Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who last week announced his intention to retire from the Senate in 2016. The leader of Senate Democrats since 2005 and a member of Congress for 23 years, Senator Reid has fiercely advocated for Democratic values throughout his long career in government. An unapologetic advocate for policies that serve the majority of Americans, Senator Reid will leave a proud legacy that includes:
Senator Reid has been known as a soft-spoken legislator with a tough spine. He has steadfastly supported labor unions, immigration reform, choice, healthcare reform, and economic policies that help the working and middles classes. He strongly opposed the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, viewing the flood of money from the superrich as a disaster for Congress.
The product of humble roots, Senator Reid was born in Searchlight, Nevada, in a wooden shack without running water or electricity. At age 11, Reid worked the mines with his father, holding the headlamp as his father did his work. As a young man, he was an amateur lightweight boxer, both in and out of the ring—known for never shying away from a fight.
Reid graduated from George Washington University Law School, working a night job as a capitol police officer after classes because money was scarce. He began his government service as a gaming officer in Nevada, and then was elected to the House of Representative from Nevada in 1982. He was elected to the Senate in 1986 and served as Majority whip from 1999 to 2005—becoming majority leader in 2008 and (sadly) minority leader in 2014.
Reid strongly supports the election of women senators, recently telling the New York Times,“This place is so much better because of women….They have changed the dynamic of the Senate.” According to the National Journal, Reid supports Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Mastro to succeed him.
“I want to be able to go out at the top of my game,” said Senator Reid in his retirement announcement. You will be missed, Senator Reid, and WNDC members wish you well. We hope your successor will do as well fighting for dignity and economic justice for working- and middle class Americans.
WNDC Salutes Senator Barbara Mikulski
Members of the Woman’s National Democratic Club were saddened to learn k that Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) would not seek reelection in 2016. At a press conference making this announcement, the Senator said “I had to decide whether to spend my time fighting to keep my job or fighting for your job. Do I spend my time raising money or raising hell to meet your day-to-day needs?”
Affectionately known as the “Dean of Women in Congress,” Senator Mikulski was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1976, where she represented Maryland’s 3rd District. In 1986, she was successful in her Senate run, becoming the first Democratic woman senator “elected in her own right,” meaning not as a replacement for a deceased spouse. On March 17, 2012, she became the longest-serving woman in the history of the United States Congress and in January 2011 became the longest-serving woman in the U.S. Senate, outpacing by four years Senator Margaret Chase Smith, a moderate Republican of Maine, who shared a similar career path (1949-1973).
Senator Mikulski was also the first woman and first Marylander to chair the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. Of these milestones, Senator Mikulski said, “It’s not about how long I serve, but about how well I serve my state and my nation.” Senator Mikulski has been a trailblazer for women in politics and a consensus builder in the Senate. She has fought unflaggingly to improve the lives of American seniors, veterans, and students. She has championed the rights of women, whether by ensuring they have access to safe reproductive health care or that they get a fair shot in the workplace. A crowning achievement in this connection was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, introduced and navigated through the Congress by Senator Mikulski. This was the first piece of legislation to be signed by President Obama in 2009.
WNDC was proud to honor Senator Mikulski as our Outstanding Democratic Woman of the Year in 1987. Four hundred people were in attendance at that reception, according to Democratic Women: An Oral History of the Woman’s Democratic Club. She was then—and continues to be—a rock star.
Senator Mikulski has served her country with distinction, and we at WNDC express our deepest admiration and thanks for her leadership, dedication, and contributions. We wish her the best in future endeavors. In the meantime, we look forward to working with her in the U.S. Senate as she continues to fight for progressive causes and “raise hell” for all of us.