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Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota warned Sunday that conservative Democrats’ ongoing effort to impose additional restrictions on eligibility for the new round of $1,400 direct payments risks shedding progressive support for a final coronavirus relief package—votes that the party, clinging to narrow majorities in the House and Senate, can’t afford to lose.
“Cutting the income cap will poison this bill,” tweeted Omar (D-Minn.), the whip for the nearly 100-member Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC). “It already lacks Republicans support and will lose progressive support. Democrats with a slim majority in the Congress can’t pass this bill without progressives and must resist suggestions that will ultimately tank this relief bill.”
“Cutting the income cap will poison this bill. It already lacks Republicans support and will lose progressive support.”
—Rep. Ilhan OmarOmar was referring to ongoing talks among Senate Democrats over whether to lower the annual income cutoff for the new round of relief checks with the stated goal of ensuring the payments are more closely “targeted” to those in need. According to the Washington Post, top Democrats are currently weighing a plan under which only individuals earning $50,000 a year or less, heads of household earning $75,000 or less, and married couples earning a combined $100,000 or less would be eligible for full $1,400 payments.
A growing chorus of progressive lawmakers is strongly pushing back against that proposed eligibility framework, which could leave millions of struggling middle-class people with smaller checks or no payments at all.
“There are some Dems who want to lower the income eligibility for direct payments from $75,000 to $50,000 for individuals, and $150,000 to $100,000 for couples. In other words, working-class people who got checks from Trump would not get them from Biden. Brilliant!” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—who along with Omar and others has been pushing for recurring relief payments for nearly a year—tweeted sardonically on Saturday night.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), a CPC member, echoed the Vermont senator. “It would be outrageous if we ran on giving more relief and ended up doing the opposite,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “It’s sad that this is even an argument in the Dem party. Covid relief is disaster relief, and it’s urgent.”
To pass a coronavirus relief package through the reconciliation process without Republican support, the Senate Democratic caucus cannot afford a single defection. House Democrats, meanwhile, hold just a 10-seat majority, meaning that even a relatively small exodus of CPC members could imperil the coronavirus relief package—a state of affairs that potentially gives the chamber’s progressive contingent significant leverage over the ongoing negotiations.
NBC News reported late last week that the eligibility framework remains a “live ball,” with conservative and progressive members of the Democratic caucus publicly and privately battling over who should receive the new round of payments. President Joe Biden has said he is open to lowering the income cutoff for the checks, and discussed the possibility of narrowing eligibility with Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) at the White House last week.
Progressive activists and commentators have argued that in addition to being morally unjustifiable amid such a far-reaching economic collapse, limiting eligibility for the $1,400 payments would be politically “suicidal” and represent yet another retreat from the original campaign-trail promise of $2,000 relief checks that helped Democrats take control of the Senate.
“Let’s be really, really clear. Doing this will cost Democrats control of the Congress in 2022 and the White House in 2024,” Robert Cruickshank, campaign director at advocacy group Demand Progress, said last week. “There is nobody out there in America aside from a few wonks who want to limit these checks. It is a colossally bad idea.”
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Israel will halt all flights in and out of Ben-Gurion Airport for at least a week beginning tonight, in an effort to stop the spread of new strains of the virus, reports a Jewish newsletter that arrived in my mailbox today.
“What? “you may ask, “I thought Israel had corralled all the vaccine they needed and had innoculated their Israeli citizens. (Not the Palestinians in Gaza, of course, but Yes to the Palestinians in the West Bank.”)
And so they have.
But vaccination is Only a Tool. Not a solution.
Just as Masks are a Tool. Not a solution.
Just as Social Distancing and hand washing are Tools, not solutions.
The USA is being led slowly and carefully to the truth of our situation. All the measures listed above are intended to slow the spread. None of them are guaranteed to end the threat of the Coronavirus.
The vaccine hoopla has at least as much to do with Profit as it does with lifesaving.
The Virus is mutating more quickly than we can contain it.
HIV-AIDS has been with us since the early 80’s. No Vaccine has ever been found.
Treatments, otoh, have been very effective in keeping those stricken alive and well. And paying for meds every day for the rest of their lives.
What a world we live in.
Photo: King speaks at Local 10 in San Francisco, September 1967. ILWU Archives, Author provided
In 1934, San Francisco longshoremen – who were non-union since employers had crushed their union in 1919 – reorganized and led a coast-wide “Big Strike.”
In the throes of the Great Depression, these increasingly militant and radicalized dockworkers walked off the job. After 83 days on strike, they won a huge victory: wage increases, a coast-wide contract and union-controlled hiring halls.
Soon, these “wharf rats,” among the region’s poorest and most exploited workers, became “lords of the docks,” commanding the highest wages and best conditions of any blue-collar worker in the region.
At its inception, Local 10’s membership was 99 percent white. But Harry Bridges, the union’s charismatic leader, joined with fellow union radicals to commit to racial equality in its ranks.
Originally from Australia, Bridges started working on the San Francisco waterfront in the early 1920s. It was during the Big Strike that he emerged as a leader.
Bridges coordinated during the strike with C.L. Dellums, the leading black unionist in the Bay Area, and made sure the handful of black dockworkers would not cross picket lines as replacement workers. Bridges promised they would get a fair deal in the new union. One of the union’s first moves after the strike was integrating work gangs that previously had been segregated.
Local 10 overcame pervasive discrimination
Cleophas Williams, a black man originally from Arkansas, was among those who got into Local 10 in 1944. He belonged to a wave of African-Americans who, due to the massive labor shortage caused by World War II, fled the racism and discriminatory laws of the Jim Crow South for better lives – and better jobs – outside of it. Hundreds of thousands of blacks moved to the Bay Area, and tens of thousands found jobs in the booming shipbuilding industry.
Black workers in shipbuilding experienced pervasive discrimination. Employers shunted them off into less attractive jobs and paid them less. Similarly, the main shipbuilders’ union proved hostile to black workers who, when allowed in, were placed in segregated locals.
A few thousand black men, including Williams, were hired as longshoremen during the war. He later recalled to historian Harvey Schwartz: “When I first came on the waterfront, many black workers felt that Local 10 was a utopia.”
During the war, when white foremen and military officers hurled racist epithets at black longshoremen, this union defended them. Black members received equal pay and were dispatched the same as all others.
A gang of welders at the Marinship yard, Sausalito, California, in around 1943. National Park Service
For Williams, this union was a revelation. Literally the first white people he ever met who opposed white supremacy belonged to Local 10. These longshoremen were not simply anti-racists, they were communists and socialists.
Leftist unions like the ILWU embraced black workers because, reflecting their ideology, they contended workers were stronger when united. They also knew that, countless times, employers had broken strikes and destroyed unions by playing workers of different ethnicities, genders, nationalities and races against each other. For instance, when 350,000 workers went out during the mammoth Steel Strike of 1919, employers brought in tens of thousands of African-Americans to work as replacements.
Some black dockworkers also were socialists. Paul Robeson, the globally famous singer, actor and left-wing activist had several friends, fellow socialists, in Local 10. Robeson was made an honorary ILWU member during WWII.
In 1967, King walked in Robeson’s footsteps when he was inducted into Local 10 as an honorary member, the same year Williams became the first black person elected president of Local 10. By that year, roughly half of its members were African-American.
King addressed these dockworkers, declaring, “I don’t feel like a stranger here in the midst of the ILWU. We have been strengthened and energized by the support you have given to our struggles. … We’ve learned from labor the meaning of power.”
Many years later, Williams discussed King’s speech with me: “He talked about the economics of discrimination. … What he said is what Bridges had been saying all along,” about workers benefiting by attacking racism and forming interracial unions.
Eight months later, in Memphis to organize a union, King was assassinated.
The day after his death, longshoremen shut down the ports of San Francisco and Oakland, as they still do when one of their own dies on the job. Nine ILWU members attended King’s funeral in Atlanta, including Bridges and Williams, honoring the man who called unions “the first anti-poverty program.”
More at the link. https://theconversation.com/martin-luther-king-jr-union-man-110004
Martin Luther King had grit and depth, and knew whose side he was on. He would be like Jesus with the Pharisees if he could see how much farther his country has fallen.
I want to think that we will not give up and we will honor his life every day in our struggle to transform the world.
We’ll start with Stephen Colbert’s interview with Bernie Sanders last night on The Late Show. There are 2-3 segments, in which Bernie got about 20 minutes altogether. Among the topics: the experience of the riot in the Capitol building, Biden’s America Rescue being introduced, and how to reach Trumpers.
Here’s the first one. Bernie’s introduced at the 2:30 mark.
Second segment, in which at the 7:00 mark, they discuss America Resue:
And the last one:
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The House of Representatives has done its job and impeached Donald Trump on a bipartisan basis.
The Senate must now carry out its constitutional duty and convict Trump to ensure that neither he, nor any other president, can subvert our democracy again.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) January 13, 2021
10 not as terrible idiots who realize they have to work with “these” people crossed over the Potomac to impeach the worst POTUS in this century.
They recognize they have to get re-elected. And also they have to work with others, especially these representatives, the most diverse group of Dems.
Especially these guys:
Benny’s B & D is open. Have one on the house and contribute your tweet, news, video. Jukebox is welcome too, this is an open thread.
We know she'll be part of a mission-driven team in Congress to deliver relief, Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and racial justice.
— Justice Democrats (@justicedems) January 11, 2021
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Good day birdies!
I’ll start today’s thread with an op-ed in WaPo by Congresswoman Cori Bush.
My skin burned for 22 hours after I was pepper-sprayed. The memory of that burn stung with a new kind of pain on Wednesday as I, now a newly sworn-in member of Congress, watched in horror and disbelief as an insurrectionist mob overran the Capitol.
Back in July, we had been protesting at the police station in Florissant, Mo., where a police officer had recently run over a Black man with his car. The police had been beating protesters for weeks. They tear-gassed us to the point of suffocation for painting “Black Lives Matter” on a road, arrested us for putting our fists in the air and beat those who they’d taken into custody.
That night was no different from any other night. The officers rushed out of the station in riot gear, slapping their batons against their shields, holding shotguns loaded with rubber bullets and chanting commands. They chased us into the middle of the street, forcing us to backpedal blindly in the dark. The police were pushing with such force that people began falling to the ground all around me, finding themselves swarmed by officers who began hitting them with batons. I reached in to try to pull a woman away to safety.
They sprayed us with mace. It wasn’t your average mace, either. I used every trick in the book to try to make the pain stop — milk, water, dish detergent. But my skin did not stop burning for 22 hours.
On Wednesday, as I sat in the House gallery listening to my colleagues debate the certification of the electoral college votes, something prompted me to get up and leave. I left the chamber and quickly went to check on what was happening outside. The doors were locked, but as I stood on the second floor of the Capitol and looked out through windows in the doors, I could see Trump flags and Confederate flags gradually moving closer. I froze in disbelief. The next minute, my staffer was rushing me back to my office.
Once I was in my office and we secured the door, I felt a different kind of burn — this time inside. Watching on TV, we saw white supremacists stroll past Capitol Police, untouched and unscathed. Just minutes after we had locked our door, the mob entered the House Rotunda. The rioters broke windows, sat in the House speaker’s office and invaded the Senate floor.
There was no way to avoid the comparison or to duck the obvious answer: Would this have happened if the rioters were there to fight for Black lives rather than white supremacy? We’ve been tear-gassed for much less, beaten for much less and shot at for much less. We’ve been assaulted by law enforcement for much less.
But it’s clear to me that top law enforcement leaders on Capitol Hill had little interest in preventing this attempted insurrection. Videos have emerged of police taking selfies with protesters, walking them down the stairs and even opening gates for them. The front line of officers were not in riot gear, they were not wearing gas masks, they were not holding guns loaded with rubber bullets. And, above all else, there were no police dogs.
We faced police dogs when we fought for justice for Mike Brown in Ferguson in 2014. There were police dogs at protests for Black lives this year, from the East Coast to the West. The president himself tweeted in May that the “most vicious dogs” awaited protesters standing up for Black lives at the White House.
But there were no police dogs awaiting the white supremacists who gathered outside the Capitol. It was no coincidence that this tool of racial control was absent Wednesday, as rioters carried the flag of the slave-catcher’s Confederacy — and its modern manifestation, the Trump flag — through the House Rotunda.
Many have said that what transpired on Wednesday was not America. They are wrong. This is the America that Black people know. To declare that this is not America is to deny the reality that Republican members of the U.S. House and Senate incited this coup by treasonously working to overturn the results of the presidential election. It’s to deny the fact that one of my senators, Josh Hawley, went out of his way to salute the white supremacists before their attempted coup. It’s to deny that he appropriated the sign of Black power, the raised fist, into a white-supremacist salute — a fist he has never raised at a march for Black lives because he has never shown up to one. It’s to deny that what my Republican colleagues call “fraud” actually refers to the valid votes of Black, brown and Indigenous voters across this country who, in the midst of a pandemic that disproportionately kills us, overcame voter suppression in all of its forms to deliver an election victory for Joe Biden and Kamala D. Harris.
This is America, and it will continue to be America, until white supremacy is dismantled. Justice starts at removing each and every representative who incited this insurrection. I’ve unveiled my first piece of legislation that would do just that. We cannot denounce white supremacy and allow its endorsers to continue serving in our government.
image courtesy of Tulsa World
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