Kashmir: A Paradise in chains

Everywhere you look, right-wing fascism is on the march. Demagogues rule some of the most powerful nations in the world. At home, we have Trump, supported by an extremist right-wing party. In Brazil, we see Bolsonaro, who won election through a subterfuge, a corrupt alliance with a judge who imprisoned his opponent, Lula. In China, Xi Jinping appears to have cleared the stage to remain President for life and reverse whatever small measure of political freedom ordinary Chinese people had gained. In the UK, the racist toff Boris Johnson ambles about 10 Downing Street.

And in India where I spent my childhood, the HIndu supremacist Sangh Parivar rules the center unchallenged, with its political wing, the BJP in full control of Parliament.  Like all right-wing governments, the BJP and Modi have opted to make a minority the target for their discriminatory politics. In India, the most convenient minority is the Muslim population, and the highest pay-off for a politician bent on sowing divisions is to focus on Kashmir.

“Gar firdaus bar-rue zamin ast, hami asto, hamin asto, hamin ast.”

If there is a Paradise on this earth, it is here, it is here, it is here.

— attributed to Jahangir 

It’s the kind of treacle you’d find in a travel brochure. In fact, every travel brochure on Kashmir will have this line. Here’s the thing though, Jehangir was right.

Kashmir is a vast paradise of sublimely beautiful valleys, imposing mountains and breathtaking gorges. Its pastures are bejeweled with the sparkle of wildflowers and the radiance of rushing streams. Its high peaks and glaciers pierce a sky that is the clearest blue. At night, in the high valleys, it feels as if the stars are close enough to touch.

I am fortunate enough to have traveled our planet and have set foot on many of its most beautiful mountain ranges. The trip to Pehalgam, Srinagar, Jammu and Gulmarg I was fortunate to take more than three decades ago as a ten year old remains a vivid highlight of my travels. Since that somewhat peaceful interlude in the 80s, Kashmir has seen waves of protests and insurgency, and an unrelenting military response by the Indian government.

When the British left India in 1947, exhausted by World War II, Kashmir was a “princely state”, led by a monarch who had allied with the British empire. In the land grab and ethnic cleansing that accompanied the partition of the Indian sub-continent into India and Pakistan, Kashmir was unexpectedly partitioned as well, with one segment annexed by Pakistan. The green valley of Jammu and Kashmir, and the startling moonscape that is Ladakh were annexed by India. Ordinary Kashmiris never had a say in the matter, just as so many millions across India and Pakistan and what is now Bangladesh weren’t asked whether they wished for their homes to become part of this or that country.

In the ensuing decades, most of the border regions have accepted their fate as part of either an India or Pakistan. There are exceptions. The exploitative actions of the ruling classes in India and Pakistan or ethnic fault-lines have occasionally sparked separatist movements. Punjab saw a long-running insurgency for independence in the 80s and 90s, in the mountains of north-eastern India the Indian state’s repressive policies have fueled a decade long insurgency, in Baluchistan a similar dynamic has been playing out in reaction to the high-handed rule of the ruling Pakistani elite.

Ladakh_locator_map.svg.png
commons.wikimedia.org/…

The real-politik at play in all these regional conflicts is the same. The population centers and powers that lie along the major rivers/plains seek to to control their drainage area and sources and create protective buffer zones by annexing the abutting, vast, empty areas. This is true of the powers that arise along the Indus in Pakistan, the Ganges in India, and the Yangtze and Huang in China. The people who live in places like Kashmir or Tibet or Xinjiang don’t have the numbers to resist.

Of all the post-1947 border questions, Kashmir has remained pre-eminent. Several wars have been fought over and in the region. China controls two small section high in the north, Shaksgam and Aksai Chin which in 1947 were part of the princely state called Kashmir. Pakistan controls Gilgit, Baltistan and a narrow strip along the Western edge of the former princely state.

12 million people live in Indian administered Kashmir, the majority of them are Muslim. All of them are Indian citizens, but for decades they have enjoyed a degree of autonomy as a recognition that the accession of Kashmir into India did not follow the clearer route of most of the other citizens. Kashmir has had largely its own legal code, and only Kashmiris were allowed to purchase land.

Then, two weeks ago, the Indian government led by the right-wing Hindu-nationalist Modi, suddenly evacuated Kashmir of all tourists, claiming there was a threat of terrorism. A day later the central government in Delhi announced it was dividing the state of Kashmir into two “Union Territories” that would be directly administered from Delhi. The central government also revoked the special autonomy granted to Kashmir and Kashmiris.

Several Indian legal scholars believe such changes, made without consulting Kashmir’s elected state government are unconstitutional. But Modi shares with Trump a taste for such legal battles.

Modi’s government is also engaged in a “citizenship review” at another end of the country. During the Bangladesh War of Independence in 1971, some indeterminate number of refugees entered India, and some have remained. Most prior Indian governments have paid no attention to any such refugees, who are largely integrated into Indian society. In any case, there are few social, cultural or linguistic differences between the people of Bangladesh and the people who live in the Indian states of Assam and West Bengal. And merely 24 years prior to 1971, all these people lived in the same country.

Now, 48 years after 1971, the BJP led government is using the pretext of 1971 refugees to question the citizenship of vast numbers of Muslims living in the region. Their aim in Assam is quite plainly to strip millions of Muslims of Indian citizenship. As part of this campaign, the government seems to have started creating vast detention camps. Perhaps the idea for the camps comes from Trump, or from the camps China has created to incarcerate millions of ethnic Uighurs. The language being used by Modi’s party to describe Muslims in Assam is frighteningly reminiscent of rhetoric that has accompanied gross human rights violations. 

The head of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist party took his invective against illegal Muslim immigrants to a new level this week as the general election kicked off, promising to throw them into the Bay of Bengal.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah referred to such illegal immigrants as “termites”, a description he also used last September, when he drew condemnation from rights groups. The U.S. State Department also noted the remark in its annual human rights report.

“Infiltrators are like termites in the soil of Bengal,” Shah said on Thursday at a rally in West Bengal, as voting in India’s 39-day general election started. — www.reuters.com/…

Engage in any political conversation on open social media and you will soon notice numerous BJP supporters echoing Mr. Shah’s language, referring to the Muslim population as “termites”.

“Termites” don’t have rights that human beings respect. And so it goes with Kashmir under BJP rule. The central government has placed all politicians under house arrest, and put the entire state under a curfew, closing all schools, universities and businesses. Kashmir isn’t even a state anymore, it has been broken into two pieces, neither of which is a state, they will both be administered as union territories by the central government.

How did it come to this? Well, it’s been a long road. Over the past few decades, the Indian government, under both left and right-wing governments has eroded the rights of Kashmiri citizens. Under the guise of fighting an insurgency, Delhi has tolerated widespread and severe human rights abuses by security forces who have turned Kashmir into what can only be termed a decades-long military occupation. Rape, maiming, torture, this has all been swept under the rug.

Kashmir’s industries have withered under the draconian military presence, and its people have been impoverished. After decades of declining relative income, Delhi has decided to open the floodgates to non-Kashmiri investors. It is likely that most of the most attractive Kashmiri real property will now be snapped up by India’s upper crust. Gentrification in the Himalayas.

We cannot lay all the blame on the right-wing extremists who currently occupy the Indian parliament. Prior Indian governments, including the center-left Congress party, presided over the deterioration of rights in Kashmir. So in a sense this is the culmination of a process that has been underway for a while. But what has just happened feels different.

It’s worth noting that many of the attacks on minorities and fundamental human rights we’re seeing across the world are a direct result of the rise of a trans-national right-wing movement. It’s not accidental that while immigrants and minorities are being persecuted with fresh zeal across the US, indigenous rights are being trampled in Brazil, a campaign to imprison millions of Uighurs is underway in China, immigrants are demonized in Eastern Europe, and religion, caste out-groups are being persecuted in India. This is a global threat to the rights of minorities and the concept of integrated societies with equal rights for all. Many of the governments that would be more circumspect about their human rights abuses are more blatant today because of what they see the Trump administration doing or not.

There are also long-running domestic trends at play in India. The BJP is in the position it is because the Congress party has atrophied by perusing a policy of dynastic succession, reserving the top positions for the Nehru-Gandhi family while kneecapping every other talented politicians, and hewing to old ideas about campaigns, platforms and organization. Many promising politicians flee Congress to form their own regional off-shoots, balkanizing the left in India. It has not helped that the Nehru’s great-grandchildren appear completely removes from the cares of ordinary Indians, married to multi-millionaires and having enjoyed perks that most ordinary Indians cannot aspire to. Modi meanwhile, presents himself as a tea-stall worker who has done well, which is true. Though he’s also been known to accept the occasional gift of a $20,000 suit.

That trajectory contains a lesson for US as well. Not only for the Democratic party, which should avoid becoming as sclerotic as Congress is, but also for the rest of us. Modi is far more dangerous than Trump is, partly because he’s actually somewhat effective. If a Tom Cotton were to follow Trump, he might do far more damage.

— @subirgrewal

Democrats need leaders to take Trump on. Pelosi & Schumer aren’t cutting it.

Jamelle Bouie writes in the NYT about the exuberant, enthusiastic racism of Trump’s rallies. This is what defines the moment we find ourselves in, and the challenge we are faced with:

It is important to take history on its own terms. We shouldn’t conflate the past with the present, but we should also be aware of ideas and experiences that persist through time. A political rally centered on the denunciation of a prominent black person demands reference to our history of communal, celebratory racism. It’s critical for placing the event in context, and it can help us understand the dynamic between the president and his base.

If Trump has an unbreakable bond with his supporters, it’s because he gives them permission to express their sense of siege. His rhetoric frees them from the mores and norms that keep their grievance in check. His rallies — his political carnivals — provide an opportunity to affirm their feelings in a community of like-minded individuals.

“He gets us. He’s not a politician, and he’s got a backbone,” a woman who attended a recent “Women for Trump” kickoff event in Pennsylvania told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “He’s not afraid to say what he thinks. And what he says is what the rest of us are thinking.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/19/opinion/trump-rally.html

Keep that woman’s statement in mind. “He’s not a politician, and he’s got a backbone.”

Now, if you haven’t already read Adam Serwer’s excellent article in the Atlantic, you need to. It’s titled: Send Her Back: What Americans Do Now Will Define Us Forever. One of the points Serwer makes is this:

“If multiracial democracy cannot be defended in America, it will not be defended elsewhere.”

I don’t necessarily ascribe to this claim of American exceptionalism.  Despite its present government, I am hopeful that India can serve as a model, and one that is more acceptable to many across the world.

I am, however, in complete agreement with Serwer about the moment we find ourselves in within American politics, both in terms of the threat, and the hope.

Still, a plurality of Americans in 2016 and 2018 voted against defining American citizenship in racial terms, something that has perhaps never happened before in the history of the United States. There was no anti-racist majority at the dawn of Reconstruction, during the heyday of immigration restriction, or in the twilight of the civil-rights movement. The voters of this coalition may yet defeat Trumpism, if they can find leaders who are willing and able to confront it. […]

That is not a given. In the face of a corrupt authoritarian president who believes that he and his allies are above the law, the American people are represented by two parties equally incapable of discharging their constitutional responsibilities. The Republican Party is incapable of fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities because it has become a cult of personality whose members cannot deviate from their sycophantic devotion to the president, lest they be ejected from office by Trump’s fanatically loyal base. The Democratic Party cannot fulfill its constitutional responsibilities because its leadership lives in abject terror of being ejected from office by alienating the voters to whom Trump’s nationalism appeals. In effect, the majority of the American electorate, which voted against Trump in 2016 and then gave the Democrats a House majority in 2018, has no representation.

The electoral coalition that gave Democrats the House represents perhaps the strongest resistance to the rising tide of right-wing ethnonationalism in the West, yet observe what the party has done with that mandate. The great victory of the House Democrats has been to halt the Republican legislative effort to deprive millions of health-care coverage, a feat they accomplished simply by being elected. But over the past seven months, Democrats have proved unable to complete a single significant investigation, hold many memorable hearings, or pass a single piece of meaningful legislation that curtails Trump’s abuses of authority. Instead, they held their breath waiting for Robert Mueller to save them, and when he did not, they, like their Republican predecessors, took to issuing sternly worded statements, tepid pleas for civility, and concerned tweets as their primary methods of imposing accountability.“

— https://www.theatlantic.com/…

Finally, it’s worth recalling how this week began, with the House under Pelosi’s leadership passing McConnell’s funding bill for the border camps without any conditions.

CPC leadership had invited Schumer to the meeting prior to the border bill blowup. His attendance, however, came at a time of serious internal crisis within the Democratic caucus, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has lashed out at the so-called Squad, the four Progressive Caucus members — Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib — who voted against the bill and vehemently opposed its passage as complicity with the abuse of the adults and children held there.

Schumer, in response to questions, told the Progressive Caucus members that the Senate had always expected the House to pass a stronger bill, after which the two chambers would negotiate a compromise — either informally or through a conference committee. Instead, House leaders simply waved through the Senate bill without letting him know they planned to cave. Schumer “truly didn’t expect the House to pass the Senate bill unamended,” said one person in the room — a recollection that was confirmed by multiple others.

“He said he was surprised the House didn’t ask for a conference committee. It could have,” said another member in the room. “But he also gave a somewhat lame answer on Senate Dems actions.” — theintercept.com/…

And keep in mind what this episode demonstrates:

The president’s racist attacks on Omar and her colleagues were precipitated by Democrats leaking a poll of “white, non-college voters” supposedly showing that they might cost the party the House and the presidency. Having publicly told the school bully where and how to take their lunch money, the Democrats were surprised when he showed up. […]

The leadership of the Democratic Party has shown more appetite for confronting and rebuking legislators representing the vulnerable communities Trump has targeted most often than it has for making the president mildly uncomfortable.

— www.theatlantic.com/…

— @subirgrewal

House passes $15 minimum wage bill. An enormous victory for the FightFor15 movement.

The House passed the $15 minimum “Raise the Wage Act”. It would raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2025 in a gradual manner as follows:

  • $8.40 immediately
  • $9.50 in 2020
  • $10.60 in 2021
  • $11.70 in 2022
  • $12.80 in 2023
  • $13.90 in 2024
  • $15.00 in 2025

It also rapidly raises the minimum wage for tipped and disabled employees to reach $15 by 2025 as well. Future increases are indexed to the median wage for all workers. Passing the House was actually quite a lift and not as easy as you’d think.

A similar bill to increase the federal minimum wage failed to pass in March after lawmakers from rural and Republican-leaning districts raised concerns, claiming that it would be too much of a burden for some small businesses, especially in places where the cost of living is lower than large urban areas. — www.nbcnews.com/…

The companion bill in the Senate has 31 co-sponsors.

The measure, which passed largely along party lines, 231-199, after Republicans branded it a jobs-killer, faces a blockade in the Senate, where Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, said he will not take it up. Only three Republicans voted for it, while six Democrats opposed it. Most represent swing districts.

But it previews what Democrats would do if they capture the Senate and the White House in 2020, and it demonstrates how fast the politics have shifted since 2012, when fast-food workers began to strike in cities around the country, demanding $15-an-hour wages and a union.

When the Fight for $15 movement was launched, the figure seemed absurdly high, and even Democrats thought it was politically impossible. — www.nytimes.com/…

The six Democrats who opposed it (with links to local reporting on their vote):

Republicans who voted for it:

  • Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1)
  • Francis Rooney (FL-19)
  • Chris Smith (NJ-4)

It is of course, very unlikely that the Republican controlled Senate and this administration will allow the $15 minimum wage bill to take effect. But that should not stop us form celebrating the enormous victory that passage in the House represents. A few years ago, this goal seemed outlandish, and had very little support, even from Democrats. But led by fast food workers and unions, most Americans have come to realize that this is a matter of fundamental fairness. 55% of registered voters support a $15 minimum wage.

Passage of the bill also represents a clear opportunity for Democratic candidates. Every single Democratic candidate should make it a part of their stump speech to say something like this:

Over 40 million Americans make less than $15 an hour. We have passed a bill to raise your wages to a living wage. Republicans and Donald Trump are blocking the bill because their billionaire friends want to keep skimming a few dollars off every working hour to enrich themselves further. Just how many yachts and jets do these people want, and how much suffering will they foist on working Americans to satisfy their greed?

Vote them out so more Americans can share in life’s glories.

Almost 60% of the workers who would benefit are women, and a disproportionate number of them are people of color:

WHO WOULD BENEFIT IF THE FEDERAL MINIMUM WAGE IS RAISED TO $15 BY 2024?

A total of 39.7 million workers would benefit, including:

  • 38.6 million adults ages 18 and older
  • 23.8 million full-time workers
  • 23.0 million women
  • 11.2 million parents
  • 5.4 million single parents
  • The parents of 14.4 million children — www.epi.org/…

There are several Congressional leaders who worked to make this happen. We know their names. But this victory is not theirs, it belongs to the workers who stood up to demand a living wage and organized themselves to make it happen. It’s their victory, and we should remember how what this victory represents to them, their families and their well-being.

On that note, enjoy this:

— @subirgrewal

Bush press secretary and Liz Cheney tweet dangerous smears against Rep. Ilhan Omar

Questioning the inhumanity of Israel’s occupation consistently brings out the worst in Republicans. None of them see Palestinians as fully human. All of them follow Trump’s lead and paint anyone who advocates for Palestinian’s rights as a supporter of “terrorists”. 

https://twitter.com/AriFleischer/status/1125368821747941377

In her tweet, Rep. Omar is clearly condemning and lamenting Hamas’ firing of unguided rockets into Israel. Rep. Omar does this in the same terms as she uses for Israeli troops firing on protesters, which is equally condemnable. This comparison is what Fleischer cannot stomach, they want to cover up and excuse civilian killings by the Israeli government.

https://twitter.com/Liz_Cheney/status/1125187206929428481

Given the role her father played in starting a ruinous war under false pretenses, Cheney should be ashamed to ever speak about the Middle-East. But shame and regret for causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands simply isn’t the Republican way. 

These are dangerous smears by Rep. Cheney and Ari Fleischer. Rep. Ilhan Omar has already received numerous death threats. A man in Florida and another in New Yorkhave been arrested for making death threats towards her.

These smears are also false. Rep. Omar is asking the question that any thinking, feeling human being should ask. How much more must ordinary people suffer. This is a question that seems to drive Republicans like Ari Fleischer insane because they do not care a whit about Palestinian suffering. Republicans trot out “black on black crime”, “thugs” and myriad other racist tropes to blame racial inequity in the US on marginalized populations. They use similar, racist, othering tropes against Palestinians. 

Fleischer and the Republicans’ inability to recognize Palestinians’ humanity goes so far that he has even smeared Bernie Sanders (who is Jewish), merely because he stood up for the right of all people to protest. 

https://twitter.com/AriFleischer/status/980284917555847169

Fleischer has also attacked AOC, claiming she’s “anti-Israel”. The Israeli government has violated the rights of millions of Palestinians for decades. In March, a UN report found that Israeli troops had fired live ammunition at Palestinian protesters in Gaza repeatedly over the course of a year, maiming thousands and killing 189, including 32 children.

reported the deaths of 189 Palestinians, of whom 183 — including 32 children — were killed by live ammunition. The commission said snipers firing such ammunition also injured 6,106 Palestinians, inflicting many life-changing wounds. […]

After March 30, 2018, tens of thousands of Palestinians turned out along the fence on Fridays to demand an end to Israel’s draconian blockade of Gaza and the right to return to land that belonged to their ancestors in what is now Israel. Additional mass protests are expected to note the start of the first anniversary and beyond. — www.nytimes.com/…

Ari Fleischer hasn’t said a single word about the killing of hundreds of people in Gaza by Israeli troops. That’s because Palestinians aren’t seen as fully human by Republicans. Like other black, brown and indigenous people, their lives are seen as worth less, their rights as contingent on “good behavior”. 

As Israeli troops were killing dozens, his sole concern was that the NY Times ran a headline that read “Israelis Kill Dozens in Gaza”. Fleischer was upset that the NY Times hadn’t dehumanized all the protesters by calling them “terrorists”. Republicans and their far-right allies across the world know full well that the only way to justify the oppression of millions is to de-humanize them, and that is what Fleischer wants to do. He is upset at Ilhan Omar, Bernie Sanders and AOC precisely because they see Palestinians as fellow human beings. He would rather we see all Palestinians as beastly terrorists.

The far-right Likud government that has run Israel for most of the past 45 years was founded by terrorists who blew up markets and cafes. Both Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir became prime ministers in Israel. Both of them ordered terrorist attacks on civilians. They and their fellow terrorists in Irgun and Lehi have had many public spaces named for them.

What Netanyahu did not say, was that entire Birthright trips could be built around the plaques and monuments which Israel has erected in recent years to honor the bombings and other terrorist killings committed by the members of the Irgun Zvai Leumi and Lehi pre-state underground groups – not to mention the highways, boulevards, schools, and town squares named for the armed bands’ respective commanders in chief – the late Israeli prime ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir. […]

“The terror attack on the King David Hotel in Jerusalem was in its day the equivalent of the Twin Towers,” wrote historian Tom Segev in 2006, after Benjamin Netanyahu had taken center stage at a commemoration celebrating the 60th anniversary of the attack. Years later, Segev would call it, “at the time the most lethal terrorist attack in history.” 

The blast, which levelled six floors of a wing of the hotel with 350 kilograms of explosive, killed 91 people, all but 16 of them civilians. Most of the dead were British government staffers or hotel employees. There were 41 Arabs, 28 British citizens, 17 Jews, two Armenians, one Russian, one Greek and one Egyptian. — www.haaretz.com/…

Yes, that’s right the current Israeli Prime Minister attended a celebration of a terrorist attack that killed dozens of civilians.

You will never, ever hear Fleischer or other Republicans call Likud’s founders “terrorists”, even though they carried out numerous bomb attacks and massacres on civilians, especially Palestinians. You will never hear them call supporters of Benjamin Netanyahu, who now leads this organization “terrorist sympathizers”. You will not hear them refer to the Israeli army’s deliberate bombing of residential buildings which has killed hundreds of children as a war crime.

These terms are reserved for others who don’t look like them or don’t pray like them.

Trump is, in a real sense, the essence of Republican and right-wing politics, they all lie, misinform and advocate for violence. They all want impunity for criminality by those they identify with. They do not believe in equality, they want supremacy for themselves and the group they identify with.

He just does it more openly than most.

— @subirgrewal

Right-Wing propaganda to de-humanize Palestinians kicks into gear, aided by Steny Hoyer.

First, a contextual reminder from a Palestinian voice.

Israeli bombs landed on Gaza again this week, after Israeli snipers had shot dozens of Palestinians at protests of the Gaza fence and blockade. The Israeli army’s shooting and killing of protesters has been going on in Gaza for months. Even liberal outlets among the US news media tend to forget about that, and rarely report on the killing on Palestinians. Coverage begins when there are Israeli casualties, or a perceived threat to Israel. This is the only thing considered newsworthy.

For example, the NY Times coverage over the weekend. 

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who is a Palestinian-American commented on the story.

Gaza’s entire population of 1.8 million people has been locked into the tiny territory for over a decade. This is as a result of Israeli policy. People protesting this at the militarized fence are shot at by Israeli snipers every day. All this has been normalized and is accepted as just the way things will be.

Rep. Ilhan Omar spoke up on behalf of beleaguered Palestinians. That was the cue for George W. Bush’s former press-secretary took the opportunity to call her a “terrorist supporter” for speaking up, while spreading a right-wing talking point claiming “Gaza is not occupied”.

Many have tried to pass off the Trump administration’s attacks on Rep. Tlaib and Omar as aberrations. They aren’t. Much of the Republican apparatus is in on it, including major players in prior Republican administrations. Of course, the Trump administration spices it up with falsehoods, but they’re substantively no different from the Bush wing.

Sadly, some Democrats are more than willing to aid and abet these Republican talking-points. They’re following a script where they maintain disciplined silence when Israeli forces attack and kill Palestinians. The moment there’s a Palestinian attack on Israelis, they jump into action, shouting in outrage.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is a classic example of this dynamic.

Notice how Steny Hoyer “stands strongly” for Israel’s right to defend itself? Not a word about the rights of Palestinians, to either live freely, or defend themselves. Hoyer never concerns himself with Palestinian’s rights, simply erasing them from consideration.

The Democratic caucus would do well to dump Steny Hoyer as Majority Leader and promote Barbara Lee into his position.

Even apart from Steny Hoyer, there are several other Democrats who spread misinformation and pro-Israel talking points.

Dan Shapiro surely knows that the Israeli army targets residential buildings. He was US ambassador to Israel during the Gaza conflict in 2014. The Israeli army targeted scores of homes, killing hundreds of civilians. This was a deliberate policy, has been loudly touted by Israel’s military and political leadership. Human rights groups have documented the fact that these Israeli bombings killed hundreds of Palestinian children

Former ambassador Dan Shapiro surely knows all this. Why is he spreading misinformation?

Not only does the Israeli government have such a policy, they very publicly revel in it. Here’s the IDF’s official account boasting about destroying a residential building in Gaza. They claim it was the origin of a Hamas “cyber offensive”. Someone tried to hack into some Israeli computer, they believe it was someone in this building, so they bombed and destroyed the entire six story residential building.

Imagine you or your family lived in such a building and they were killed because a next-door neighbor was trying to hack something. Or, imagine how outraged the Israeli government would be if Palestinian forces bombed an Israeli university. Many of them have Israeli cyber-warfare units, including ones that engage in pervasive surveillance of Palestinians. You’d be barely able to hear yourself over the sound of American politicians rushing to condemn it as a terrorist strike. But when the IDF proudly touts its bombing of an apartment building with this pretext, all you hear are crickets. 

Worst of all the right-wing propaganda is the dehumanizing, victim-blaming cartoons that surface.

Would that this were purely a matter of cartoons.

It is no laughing matter. The death toll from this weekend’s fighting alone is 26 people, 23 of them were Palestinian (including a Bedouin worker at an Israeli factory).

Among those killed was 14 month old Seba Abu Arar. This is reportedly a video of her from earlier this year:

One-year-old Seba was killed along with her aunt in an Israeli air attack at their house in Gaza on Saturday.

With her wounded hand, Seba’s mother, 27-year-old Rasha Abu Arar, wiped her tears, ruing the incident that took place following the escalation of violation that has killed at least 24 Palestinians and four Israelis.

“Me, my cousins and their children were sitting in the house when suddenly a rocket fell on us,” a pregnant Rasha told Al Jazeera.

“I wrapped my arms around my daughter to protect her but the shrapnel injured my hand and penetrated her body,” she said as she continued sobbing.

“My three-year-old daughter, Rafeef, was also wounded and is currently in the ICU,” added the mother of six.

“What is the sin of my children? Did they throw rockets at Israel?” — www.aljazeera.com/…

Steny Hoyer, Dan Shapiro and every other Democrat who wants to say something at this time should keep Seba and her family in mind when they do. If they cannot see these children and every Palestinian as fully human, they should keep their mouths shut. 

— @subirgrewal 

Rep. Ilhan Omar reminds us: “Stephen Miller is a White Nationalist”

Rep. Ilhan Omar said the obvious yesterday:

This should not come as a shock to anyone. His family also knows he’s a white nationalist, his uncle wrote an Op-Ed about how he saw Miller’s politics as a betrayal of everything their family was:

I have watched with dismay and increasing horror as my nephew, who is an educated man and well aware of his heritage, has become the architect of immigration policies that repudiate the very foundation of our family’s life in this country.

I shudder at the thought of what would have become of the Glossers had the same policies Stephen so coolly espouses— the travel ban, the radical decrease in refugees, the separation of children from their parents, and even talk of limiting citizenship for legal immigrants— been in effect when Wolf-Leib made his desperate bid for freedom. The Glossers came to the U.S. just a few years before the fear and prejudice of the “America First” nativists of the day closed U.S. borders to Jewish refugees. Had Wolf-Leib waited, his family would likely have been murdered by the Nazis along with all but seven of the 2,000 Jews who remained in Antopol. I would encourage Stephen to ask himself if the chanting, torch-bearing Nazis of Charlottesville, whose support his boss seems to court so cavalierly, do not envision a similar fate for him. — www.politico.com/…

We’ve also known for a long time that Stephen Miller was a little barrel of xenophobic hate. The moment Trump began running, it was clear that Miller and his boss then Senator Jeff Sessions would throw their lot in with him. Miller was also allied with white supremacist Steve Bannon in peddling extreme xenophobia as a political strategy. 

U.S. demographics have been changing rapidly — and undesirably in the eyes of top Trump aides, including his chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, and domestic policy advisor Stephen Miller. Inside the West Wing, the two men have pushed an ominous view of refugee and immigration flows, telling other policymakers that if large numbers of Muslims are allowed to enter the U.S., parts of American cities will begin to replicate marginalized immigrant neighborhoods in France, Germany and Belgium that have been home to plotters of terrorist attacks in recent years, according to a White House aide familiar with the discussions. — LA Times

We’ve always known he was the worst kind of entitled trash. Back in 2017, a former janitor, now professor at U. Chicago had this to say about Miller’s high school speech where he said “[I’m] sick and tired of being told to pick up my trash when we have plenty of janitors who are paid to do it for us”:

He’s also a pedantic twat, of the special sort created on white supremacist web-sites. That is the character trait which led him to raise a fuss when Jim Acosta quoted “The Statue of Liberty says, ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.’ It doesn’t say anything about speaking English or being a computer programmer,”Acosta said. “Aren’t you trying to change what it means to be an immigrant coming into this country if you’re telling them that you have to speak English?” — www.cnn.com/…

Bannon and Sessions are gone, but Miller has outlasted them, and for the past 2+ years, he has been driving the cruel policies of the Trump administration, visibly reveling in inflicting agony on children and parents.

Of course, if the goal were simply to draw voters’ attention to the border, there are plenty of ways to do it that are less controversial (not to mention, less cruel) than ripping young children from the arms of asylum seekers and sticking them in dystopian-looking detention centers. But for Miller, the public outrage and anger elicited by policies like forced family separation are a feature, not a bug.  — www.theatlantic.com/…

Rep. Omar is saying something that has been obvious for years, to all who would see with open eyes and hearts.

— @subirgrewal

The paradigm shift we need for single-payer

In 1962, Thomas Kuhn published The Structure of Scientific Revolution a book that changed the way we think about scientific progress. Kuhn posits that scientific progress is punctuated progress where major advances are made by what he called “paradigm shifts”. These paradigm shifts open unexpected areas of enquiry, and allow scientists to accumulate knowledge in more gradual steps. These revolutions were often initiated by unknown scientists presenting radical ideas outside the mainstream. This powerful idea of “paradigm shifts” has since entered the general lexicon, but its implications are not always fully appreciated.

Though Kuhn applied his conception of revolutionary change to the project of science, it has a broader application and a longer history. In Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, the economist Joseph Schumpeter outlined his theory of “creative destruction”. Schumpeter identified the periodic destruction of certain commercial ventures, so new ones could take their place.  In his analysis, a “gale of creative destruction” drives “industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one”.

Schumpeter owed at least part of his inspiration to Marx’s analysis of accumulation and destruction of capital. And we can go on, in the study of both human and natural societies, scientists and philosophers have remarked on concentrated periods of change. All observers of humanity understand that there are moments of profound regeneration when we see with new, clear eyes and the world is remade. The rest of the time, we plod along, one step at a time.

Sorting out bureaucratic details is not the biggest hurdle when implementing systematic changes. The challenge is to demolish unexamined assumptions that unduly constrain the range of possibilities. In the context of the US health-care system, the unexamined assumption is that health-care must be earned. That only those who are deserving should be able to visit a doctor and receive care for their bodies. This underlying, unsaid assumption has hampered universal health care proposals for decades. The same assumption also impacts proposals for public education and all other social programs. This concept of “merit” as applied to healthcare is the paradigm we must shift before we can have universal health-care.

The “merit/deserving” mindset rests on shaky ground, because for decades now we have demanded that all Emergency Rooms treat anyone who walks in. Clearly, in some remote corner of our brains, we do recognize the social and moral value of providing health care to all. But around this kernel of truth has been erected an edifice of artificial constraints placed by a health insurance industry that seeks the privilege of exploiting the sick and infirm.

The ACA delivered several much-needed improvements to health-insurance. From minimum coverage requirements, to abolishing the idea of pre-existing conditions, to expanding coverage. But it cannot serve as the path to universal healthcare because it never directly attacked this assumption of “worthy” and “unworthy” human beings head on. This is what made it, and still makes it, vulnerable. The ACA exists within the language of the “deserving”, as in we deserve access to health-care at a reasonable price. This weighing of human beings also finds expression in the individual mandate which posits a responsibility to purchase health-care (so as to not become a public charge by entering the emergency room). This is no accident, the ACA’s conceptual structure was taken directly from a Mitt Romney, Heritage Foundation plan. And yet, it has been relentlessly attacked by the right. The lesson we’ve learned is that if we give them an inch they will demand a mile.

If we are to have universal health-care, these modes of thinking need to be well and thoroughly smashed. As does the idea of “market solutions” to health-care and health-insurance.

Any health-care “market” is destined to be dysfunctional or imperfect. Neo-classical economic models assume buyers and sellers have complete information alongside the freedom to choose what they buy and when. There are further assumptions about the ability to defer purchase and the rationality of all actors. Health-care “markets” meet none of these criteria. Enormous information disparities exist between patients and providers. In many cases, health-care decisions are literally a life and death choice that cannot be deferred. Very few among us remain “rational” about cost/benefit when our loved ones are sick. Marginal analysis simply breaks down at these extremes. What is the marginal benefit of your life or your child’s? Everything you own, everything you can borrow? That is the choice many Americans find themselves making, with health-care costs leading to millions of bankruptcies a year.

With most goods or services, consumers can defer gratification to work towards a purchase. Perversely, when patients do defer care, the cost of neglect to their bodies and society overall, is enormous. Sick, fearful human beings cannot be the rational bean-counters neo-classical economics assumes we are. We are rarely in a position to question doctors and hospitals when they recommend a procedure or drug. Recognizing all this, and the fact that drug-makers and doctors have a unique ability to exploit the precarious position of desperate patients, most societies have regulated prices for health-care services. The US does the same, with Medicare setting prices for procedures that become the basis for most health-care pricing.

Health insurance “markets” inherit all this dysfunction and amplify it with other real world wrinkles like moral hazard, biased risk perception and information asymmetry. Limiting the terms of our debate to Republican “market-based” approaches perpetuates dysfunction.

So how do we get out of the trap created by these right-wing frames?

First, healthcare must be acknowledged as a right, and we have to talk about it in those terms. “Access” and “insurance” are not rights. Health care is. We need to keep reminding people that Republicans will take every opportunity to take away their health-care. We need to demonstrate that this right-wing plutocratic agenda is why we want a simple, universal program. Medicare for All, which would be untouchable (and cheaper to boot).

The question we need to answer now is not how we pay for universal health-care, but why we should pay for it. We have to sell the benefits of universal, single-payer healthcare first.

Here’s a story an acquaintance shared with me:

I was on the ACA for several years, and each year my policy was cancelled, but I was eligible for a new one from another company. The trouble was that each new policy had different coverage, doctors, formulary, etc. While they were more or less equivalent, the change in coverage was distressing and uneven, especially when my wife got breast cancer. To avoid disruptive changes in crucial coverage, I came out of retirement and got a job with bullet-proof, stable insurance, which I maintain to this day.

We need to show people a better future. A world where they can continue to go to their doctors and get high quality of care, even if they lose their job and can’t find another one before money runs out. A world where their employer can’t switch to a plan with weaker coverage at the end of the year. A future where an insurance company cannot be deny covering treatment because of fine print, where they don’t have to fear bankruptcy if their child get seriously ill. A world where they can focus on their health rather than worrying about bills. A future where doctors are helping patients get better rather than fighting with insurers to get paid.

Once people see these possibilities, together we will find a way to pay for it. We’ve sent people to the moon, we built the Internet, we can definitely do what every other major developed country does and provide universal healthcare. The good thing is that they are beginning to demand it. Medicare has always been popular. Medicare For All is becoming popular as well.

If we are to succeed, we cannot cede the debate to those who traffic in fear about the future of health insurance companies, or sow panic and fear about Medicare For All. Whether they know it or not, they are undermining the cause of universal health care and parroting right-wing talking points. Democrats who do this should be reminded that this job is best left to the Republican party.

The cruel reality is that tens of millions of Americans already live in a state of fear, about their health and paying for care. Those who have insurance worry about losing it, those who don’t worry about their health. These are the worries we need to concern ourselves with.

We do not have to worry about health insurance companies. If they disappear, they will join a long list of obsolete industries our society no longer relies upon. Buggy whip manufacturers did it, health insurance executives will find a way too. Workers will either find work in M4A, or new jobs they’ll receive transition assistance for.

We can safely ignore self-appointed “experts” who exclaim “How will you pay for it?” about every social program, but scatter like the wind when we spend trillions on wars of destruction. It is perverse that they never worry about cost when blowing up bodies, only when it is time to mend broken ones. It is illogical that they never ask this question when proposing massive tax breaks for the super wealthy. Their behavior reveals their values.

In any case, their question is a ridiculous one. We already know how universal care will be funded, via taxes. That is how we fund social security and how we fund Medicare, that is how we will fund Medicare For All. Taxes should be the one word answer to anyone who asks “how will you pay for it”?

The foundational enterprise of this country presents a conundrum. We declared it self-evident that all men are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights. But, for decades we recognized these rights only for some, the “deserving”, the “civilized”. If we are to build a better society, a society focused on allowing people to achieve their full potential, we need to break away from these caveats to our founding creed.

We made a more perfect union when we legislated free public education for all. Let’s do it again by caring for all bodies. Let’s make Medicare For All a reality.

— @subirgrewal

The time for playing games on Medicare For All is over

Abdul El-Sayed said something yesterday that brings into focus the essential dysfunction which is the US health-care system:

Millions of Americans need insulin to survive. The researchers (Frederick Banting, Charles Best and James Collip) who developed insulin in the 1920s knew this and wanted to ensure the medication would remain affordable and safe. They assigned the patent to the University of Toronto for a nominal amount. When asked why they’d done that, Dr. Banting reportedly said “Insulin belongs to the world, not to me.”

On January 23, 1923, an American patent on both insulin and Toronto’s method of making it was awarded to Banting, Collip, and Best. For $1.00 to each, the three discoverers assigned their patent rights to the Board of Governors of the University of Toronto. The application had stressed that none of the other researchers in the past had been able to produce a nontoxic antidiabetic extract. A patent was necessary to restrict manufacture of insulin to reputable pharmaceutical houses who could guarantee the purity and potency of their products. It would also prevent unscrupulous drug manufacturers from making or patenting an impotent or weakened version of this potentially dangerous drug and calling it insulin. — clinchem.aaccjnls.org/…

Which brings us back to our system. It has clearly failed patients in this and many other respects. It has also failed the vision and intention of the researchers whose humanitarian intentions are being undone as pharmaceutical companies try to extract profits out of insulin sales, using every trick in the book.

As we head towards 2020, we know that healthcare will again be a major part of the conversation. Republicans have failed miserably in outlining any alternative approach beyond reactionary slogans like “repeal and replace”. They have made it clear they do not plan to do anything in the approach to 2020, and will not detail any plans past 2020 either.

This is a good thing, because it allows Democrats to set the terms of the debate. A huge majority of Americans supports Medicare For All. This includes 85% of Democrats and a slim majority of Republicans.

The Republican response is, in Trump’s case to call private insurance “beloved” in a tweet that launched a hundred comedy routines:

I don’t know anyone apart from health-insurance executives who “loves” our current exploitative system. Most Americans know they’re being scammed. Republicans have underscored that by literally putting a fraudster in charge of their health-care proposals. There is no compromising with this party which wants to defraud the American people on a massive scale to line the pockets of its donors:

But this is no laughing matter. It is a matter of life and death.

It is a serious political enterprise and if Medicare For All is to be instituted, it will require an enormous push. Over the past three years, public support for the idea has snowballed. To turn this support into a reality we have to:

  • solidify the public support
  • win an election by campaigning on it
  • push Medicare For All through Congress
  • close the door on Republican attempts to undermine it

The wide field of Democratic candidates offer a variety of positions on health-care and the problem of pharmaceutical prices. Jeff Stein over at the Washington Post has done us a favor by synthesizing all the candidates’ positions on healthcare.  He asks seven important questions, and places all the candidates on a scale for each of them.

  1. What should happen to private insurance?
  2. Do you support creating a public option to expand health care, such as allowing people to buy into a state Medicaid program regardless of income?
  3. Do you believe all undocumented immigrants should be covered under a government-run health plan?
  4. Do you support partially expanding Medicare by allowing people ages 50 to 64 to buy into Medicare?
  5. Do you support giving the federal government the ability to negotiate drug prices for Medicare
  6. Do you support importing drugs from other countries?
  7. Do you support having the federal government produce and sell generic drugs to lower drug prices? — www.washingtonpost.com/…

In all the responses, one pattern is clear across all the candidates, Warren and Sanders are the major candidates who are clearest on the challenge, and on the solutions. Most of the other candidates waffle on details, or hem and haw instinctively wary of upsetting the health insurance industry.

This is not the path we should follow. We’ve already gone down that road with the ACA. Republicans amplified every single negative aspect of a plan based on their own Heritage Foundation’s proposal. They called Obama socialist for instituting a market based plan. Insurers have continued to raise premiums, recalcitrant Republican governors have tried to kill the ACA with a thousand cuts, the complexity of the system has made it prone to misrepresentations

That should have taught us a lesson. Complex, half-measures will not do in our current environment. We need to create simple, universal programs and implement them in the way Medicare and Social Security were. We need to do this once, demonstrate the value to the people, and put the fear of god into any politician who tries to undo them. 

We need to convince people that they should jealously protect these programs from any right-wing hack who might try to undermine them.

There are two major candidates who understand this. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. The rest seem to be playing around. The time for games has ended.

— @subirgrewal

Will anyone remember Tongo Tongo, Niger, or Yakla, Yemen the way they do “Benghazi”?

Walk down any street in the US and ask people about Tongo, Tongo, Niger, you will get blank stares. Ask them about what happened in Yakla, Yemen and you will get confused looks.

Now, ask them about “Benghazi” and you’ll get an immediate reaction. Why is that?

Because Republicans took the attacks on two US compounds in Benghazi, Libya and held a hundred hearings about it, they made it part of the conversation. They made it news. To the point where there were books and movies made about it. Trey Gowdy practically made a career out of chairing one sub-committee. Americans have the wrong impression of those attacks, they get major facts wrong. For example most will tell you the attack occurred on a “embassy”. The US embassy in Libya is in the capital Tripoli. But they will know something bad happened in Benghazi, and somehow Democrats did something wrong.

Now, go back and ask them about Tongo, Tongo and Yakla. You will get blank stares again. And for that ignorance, you should hold Democrats accountable. Specifically, Democrats in the House and Senate.

The events in Niger and Yakla, Yemen were far more scandalous than anything that happened in Benghazi. The difference is that House Democrats haven’t convened any hearings or empaneled any sub-committees to investigate them. There are rich lines of inquiry that would reveal Trump administration ineptitude which led to the deaths of children and US soldiers.  Instead of following these important threads, the Democratic chairs of powerful Congressional committees (we see you Eliot Engel), spend their time policing the speeches of fellow Democrats at coffee shops.

If Democrats don’t act now, before the 2020 election gets underway in earnest, these scandals will fade entirely. Any opportunity to fully investigate them or hold the Trump White House responsible for these failures will pass.

It’s worth remembering just how terrible these two operations were (and there are others). First Niger:

A senior congressional aide who has been briefed on the deaths of four U.S. servicemen in Niger says the ambush by militants stemmed in part from a “massive intelligence failure.” […]

There was no U.S. overhead surveillance of the mission, he said, and no American quick-reaction force available to rescue the troops if things went wrong. If it weren’t for the arrival of French fighter jets, he said, things could have been much worse for the Americans. — www.nbcnews.com/…

There’s a rich, rich line of inquiry, including video of the recovery of Sgt. Johnson’s body, which is widely understood to have been mutilated. He was mauled so badly that his widow was not permitted to view his body, and partial remains continued to be found five weeks after his death. To make things worse Trump told the widow of one of the soldiers that he “knew what he signed up for”. There are reports that the unit’s mission might not have been properly authorized.

There is an enormous investigation to be undertaken here, and Congress should do it. In 2018, Trey Gowdy said there would be a hearing, but that never happened and the military’s report was quickly buried. Rep. Cummings issued a statement at the time lamenting the lack of hearings. Now that Democrats control all the House committees, special sub-committees should be created to investigate all aspects of the Niger raid.

But where are the Democrats chairing these committees? We have 235 Democrats in the House and we control all the gavels. Most of these Representatives spend hours every day dialing for dollars. Is that the best use of their time? Wouldn’t their time be better utilized getting some answers for Sgt. Johnson’s widow?

Nawar Al-Awlaki, the eight year old American girl who was among nine children killed in Trump’s botched attack on Yakla, Yemen.

There’s more. Worse than the human toll in Niger is the story of the botched operation in Yakla, Yemen. Nine children under the age of 13, including an 8-year old American citizen died in this botched raid ordered days after Donald Trump’s inauguration. The raid was ordered by Trump, who had publicly declared his intentions to murder women and children on the campaign trail.  

“The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families, when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families,” he said in December. “When they say they don’t care about their lives, you have to take out their families.” — www.thebureauinvestigates.com/…

Trump’s blood-thirsty statements on the campaign trail, and this operation alone should spawn a dozen investigations. There are enormous lines of inquiry to be followed. The disgraced Steve Bannon can be called to testify about his role in this raid. Trump’s buffoon of a son-in-law Jared Kushner can be called to testify before Congress about this action. He can be quizzed about the role his affection and business-dealings with the Saudis played in it.

One American soldier was killed in this botched raid, and three wounded. The intended target was never in the village. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimated that 25 civilians were killed in the attack. Even more outrageously, the decision to authorize this ill-conceived attack on Yakla was made by inept Trump administration officials over dinner. Talk about a made for TV spectacle.

Secretary Mattis supported the mission as presented to him, and the new Trump national security team met for the first time on the night of Jan. 25 to consider it. Present were the president, Vice President Pence, Mattis, then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, CIA Director nominee Mike Pompeo, chief strategist to the President Steve Bannon, and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner. Absent was any representative of the State Department, a departure from common practice in past administrations of both parties.

Over dinner, they discussed an upcoming raid to occur that very weekend. — www.nbcnews.com/…

With Kushner alone, hearings could go on for weeks. It’s been revealed that his security clearance was denied by WH officials, and Trump personally intervened in 2018 to grant it. Kushner’s clearance was held up specifically because of his suspicious links to the Saudis. How could such a man be part of planning a military operation in Yemen, where his Saudi associates were engaged in a brutal, inhuman war?

Call all these men before Congress and make each and every one of them testify. Start with Bannon and Kushner. Then Pompeo and Flynn. Then Mattis and Dunford.

Question them about their motives and make them squirm. We all know this raid was planned and authorized for political purposes. They were trying to make a high-profile capture, for political purposes, so they could claim that they had done the equivalent of the Obama administration’s killing of Osama Bin-laden.

There are so many threads to follow. For example, the legal authority for this raid is  at question.

In addition, Yemen was what the national security community called “outside of a declared theater of war,” where the legality and implications of operations were far more sensitive. — www.nbcnews.com/…

Congress alone has the power under our constitution to declare war. How can a drone bombing or military action of this sort be anything but an act of war? If it is not an act of war, it is an assassination, which has been prohibited ever since the Ford administration issued an EO to stop such assassinations. If it’s not an assassination, it’s an extra judicial killing, and again, what authority does the president have to kill people at will without due process? These are questions that must be asked, and they are far, far more important to our security and to human rights than many of the things House Democrats seem to be doing right now.

Then there is the on-going collaboration with the Saudis in their war on Yemen. There are other broad issues at stake here. Including a continuing cover-up of the Trump administration’s drone strike policies.

In the latest step toward rolling back Obama-era rules for targeted killings, President Donald Trump will no longer require U.S. intelligence officials to publicly disclose the numbers of people killed in drone strikes and other attacks on terrorist targets outside of war zones. — www.nbcnews.com/…

During the Vietnam era, we saw Nixon’s administration vastly expand the bombing campaign in South-East Asia. In the Trump administration, we are again seeing a Republican president take a program begun under Bush/Obama, remove all the safeguards and cover up all information about it.

All these threads lie in wait, to be picked up by Democrats in the House, if they have the stomach for it. Instead, they are doing what exactly?

Here we are, almost three months after House Democrats got the gavels we worked our butts off in 2018 to get them. There have been no hearings on these and other incidents. Knowing what we know about Yakla and Tongo, Tongo, why haven’t they spawned a dozen investigations?

People ask sometimes why we’re angry with Democrats. This is why.

— @subirgrewal

We need to do better than “anyone but Trump”.

At times, it seems the Trump years have been a daily assault on our senses, and for those vulnerable enough to be targeted by the police/ICE, then bodies. The impunity our deeply skewed system of justice grants the rich has been bared. Well connected serial child-rapists like Jeffrey Epstein get off with barely a slap on the wrist. People like Paul Manafort, guilty of innumerable crimes, get handed watered down sentences by judges who suddenly discover the injustice of mandatory sentencing rules when the person receiving the sentence looks like them. Meanwhile, the same judges don’t blink twice at sending a poor, black/brown person to jail for years over the theft of some bread.

Illegitimate inherited power has been wielded without reservation in the service of the criminal Trump family. The right’s hypocritical cacophony is has been deafening. We all heard Trump call for Russian help from a rally stage, and now we are expected to forget that happened because his hand-picked attorney general wrote a four page summary. How many teachers have received such notes from the parents of entitled little brats? It is enough to make one despair.

But we cannot. We must keep on doing what will make a material change in the lives of the people of this country.

By November 2020, we will have lived through 1440 days of fear and anxiety for millions. All of us here want anything but Trump. But that is not enough, we need to make something good come out of this. And if we are to win, awe have to show most of our fellow Americans a better vision of America.

“Anyone but Trump” will not do. We need an anti-Trump. Someone who will not only reverse the harm the Trump administration has done, but actually work to bind up the wounds this harmful administration inflicted our country and then salted.

And we do have a better vision. We can do better. We can reverse the decades long trends that have impoverished working people in this country. We can undo the oligarchic powers that are cresting all over the world. When they first began to gather in the 1980s, they took the form of Margaret Thatcher, who sought to break the back of unions with the coal-miner’s strike. In the US, Ronald Reagan did the same during the air-traffic controller’s strike. Not only do we have to undo everything Trump has done, we need to undo the ills of the Bush and Reagan administrations. This is not a new fight, it’s an old fight. The left in the 70s and 80s knew exactly what we were up against, and what we needed to do to prevail.

If we come together, if we show solidarity with all who are hurting and are oppressed, we can make the world a far better place. We do not have to limit our dreams, we do not have to pit one group against another. We can make a better future for all our children. And the people are with us. 

A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed that 55 percent of Democratic primary voters preferred a candidate who “proposes larger-scale policies that cost more and might be harder to pass into law, but could bring major change on these issues”; 42 percent said they preferred someone who “proposes smaller-scale policies” that would “bring less change.” — www.nytimes.com/..

Goal Thermometer
Bernie 2020: Donate now

The people want us to enact big, bold programs to reverse the material decline in their living conditions. After decades of right-wing hate mongering, most Americans want a better message. We have many great candidates, but for me there is one who embodies the spirit of solidarity we need in this time. One who recognizes the enormous challenges working people face, and is unafraid to champion the bold, progressive programs we need. One who knows that in the face of a 30 year assault by a reactionary right, incrementalism is just not enough.

“No,” he said again, when pressed. “The incremental reform that I support is phasing in ‘Medicare for all.’”

Mr. Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont, is not one to compromise on his long-held policy positions, especially his signature stance on health care […] — www.nytimes.com/…

I hope you’ll support him, and his compelling message. We need someone who knows where they came from, and where we have to go.

— @subirgrewal |Cross-posted to TheProgressiveWing.com