Category Archives: Politics

Race Capitalism Justice

Source: Boston Review, Forum I, 2017
(subscription required)

Walter Johnson, Harvard historian and author of the acclaimed River of Dark Dreams, urges us to embrace a vision of justice attentive to the history of slavery—not through the lens of human rights, but instead through an honest accounting of how slavery was the foundation of capitalism, a legacy that continues to afflict people of color and the poor. Inspired by Cedric J. Robinson’s work on racial capitalism, as well as Black Lives Matter and its forebears—including the black radical tradition, the Black Panthers, South African anti-apartheid struggles, and organized labor—contributors to this volume offer a critical handbook to racial justice in the age of Trump.

Missing Members of Congress Action Plan

Source: Indivisible, February 2017

From the summary:
Former congressional staff explain how to make your Members of Congress more accessible

Where on earth has your Member of Congress gone? Something strange has been happening in the last month or so: Members of Congress (MoCs) from all over the country are going missing. They’re still turning up for votes on Capitol Hill, and they’re still meeting with lobbyists and friendly audiences back home—but their public event schedules are mysteriously blank. Odd.

This is happening for a very simple reason: MoCs do not want to look weak or unpopular—and they know that Trump’s agenda is very, very unpopular. Remember: Every MoC wakes up every morning thinking, “How can I convince my constituents that they should reelect me?” That means MoCs are enormously sensitive to their local image, and they will work very hard to avoid signs of public disapproval from constituents. Some MoCs have clearly made the calculation that they can lay low, avoid their constituents, and hope the current storm blows over. It’s your job to change that calculus.

This toolkit describes how local groups can make missing MoCs more accessible. MoCs are gambling that out of sight means out of mind. It will take some work, but their constituents have power win at this game. It means getting active, standing together indivisible, and getting local press attention on your MoC’s cowardly behavior. This works–and this brief describes the nuts and bolts of getting it done…..

Related:
How to Have a Successful Town Hall
The week of February 17-26 is the first district work period (“recess”) of the new Congress. Members of Congress (MoCs) will be back home holding public events and meeting with constituents. These meetings are a great opportunity for your group to remind your MoCs that they need to stand up for you—and that means standing up against the Trump agenda.

“I Object!”—Withholding Consent and Filibustering
Democrats may be in the minority, but that doesn’t mean that your Democratic senator is powerless to resist Trump’s agenda. The Senate is a peculiar legislative body, with lots of arcane rules designed to protect the minority from being trampled by an irresponsible majority.

Congressional Cheat Sheet
We want to make sure you’re well armed to combat the Trump agenda where the fight is happening—at the grassroots level. Even though Capitol Hill might seem like a strange, esoteric, and ego-driven little bubble (and it is!), there are easy ways to stay on top of what’s happening in Washington, DC. Here are some resources Capitol Hill staff use all the time to help them keep abreast of what’s going on.

Emergency Call: Stand Against the Muslim and Refugee Ban
To explain how you can resist, the Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Indivisible, International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), and National Immigration Law Center (NILC-IJF) hosted a planning call that explains WHAT the Executive Orders are, WHY they’re unconstitutional and illegal, HOW you can push your Senators to restore justice, and answer your questions.

Drug Testing Unemployment Insurance Applicants: An Unconstitutional Solution in Search of a Problem

Source: Rontel Batie, George Wentworth, National Employment Law Project (NELP), Policy Brief, February 2017

From the summary:
Historically, states have never drug tested applicants for unemployment insurance (UI), primarily because the Social Security Act prohibits states from adding qualifying requirements that do not relate to the “fact or cause” of a worker’s unemployment. In the aftermath of the Great Recession, however, some states, in a misguided effort to try to contain the high costs of their UI programs due to high unemployment rates, began clamoring to drug test UI applicants. Their hypothesis (without any facts or data to back it up) was that claims would somehow substantially decrease, either as workers tested positive for drugs or declined to apply because of their drug use.

Mindful of the goal of drug-free workplaces but also of the lack of any data that drug use was an issue among the unemployed, in 2012, Congress reached a narrow compromise on drug testing UI claimants, one that took into account the serious constitutional issues with suspicionless drug testing. Congress agreed to allow, not require, states to test UI claimants in two specific, narrow circumstances: (1) workers who had been discharged from their last job because of unlawful drug use, and (2) workers looking for jobs in occupations where applicants and employees are subject to regular drug testing. Consistent with the new federal law, the U.S. Department of Labor issued regulations that closely tracked the legislation, defining occupations subject to regular testing to mean occupations where testing is legally required (either now or in the future), and not merely permitted.

Congressional Republicans, unhappy with the compromise they agreed to in 2012, have criticized the Labor Department regulations since they were proposed, claiming they were too narrowly drawn even though they closely tracked the legislation. The House of Representatives is now planning to invoke the Congressional Review Act to invalidate these regulations; and presumably, proponents of drug testing are counting on passage of a bill introduced in the 114th Congress by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) that would effectively allow states to drug test all jobless workers filing for unemployment insurance. This bill, which we expect will be reintroduced shortly, would allow states to define occupations that “regularly” drug test to include all occupations where testing (including pre-employment testing) is permitted. If passed, this bill would open the floodgates for states to arbitrarily and unconstitutionally drug test its citizens solely because they are applying for UI benefits.

No one should be so confident that this bill could pass the Senate. Proponents have been trying to build support for drug testing UI claimants for years; but for the very narrow compromise reached in 2012, there has been no wider bipartisan support for the policy. Indeed, that is because such drug testing is simply another humiliation piled onto unemployed workers—a hurdle designed to be so stigmatizing that it discourages people from even applying for a benefit that they have earned in the first place….

Supreme Court Appointment Process: President’s Selection of a Nominee

Source: Barry J. McMillion, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, R44253, February 6, 2017

The appointment of a Supreme Court Justice is an event of major significance in American politics. Each appointment is of consequence because of the enormous judicial power the Supreme Court exercises as the highest appellate court in the federal judiciary. Appointments are usually infrequent, as a vacancy on the nine-member Court may occur only once or twice, or never at all, during a particular President’s years in office. Under the Constitution, Justices on the Supreme Court receive what can amount to lifetime appointments which, by constitutional design, helps ensure the Court’s independence from the President and Congress.

The procedure for appointing a Justice is provided for by the Constitution in only a few words. The “Appointments Clause” (Article II, Section 2, clause 2) states that the President “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint ..Judges of the supreme Court.” The process of appointing Justices has undergone changes over two centuries, but its most basic feature—the sharing of power between the President and Senate—has remained unchanged: To receive appointment to the Court, a candidate must first be nominated by the President and then confirmed by the Senate.

Political considerations typically play an important role in Supreme Court appointments. It is often assumed, for example, that Presidents will be inclined to select a nominee whose political or ideological views appear compatible with their own. The political nature of the appointment process becomes especially apparent when a President submits a nominee with controversial views, there are sharp partisan or ideological differences between the President and the Senate, or the outcome of important constitutional issues before the Court is seen to be at stake.

Additionally, over more than two centuries, a recurring theme in the Supreme Court appointment process has been the assumed need for professional excellence in a nominee. During recent presidencies, nominees have at the time of nomination, most often, served as U.S. appellate court judges. The integrity and impartiality of an individual have also been important criteria for a President when selecting a nominee for the Court…

The Anti-Inauguration: A Free Ebook

Source: Jacobin, Verso, & Haymarket 2017

Just a few hours after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, a thousand people joined Jacobin, Verso Books, and Haymarket Books at the historic Lincoln Theatre in Washington, DC, for “The Anti-Inauguration,” a night of discussion on how Donald Trump came to win the election, how we can resist him, and what kind of future we should be fighting for. The line to get in stretched down an alley and around the block; people were actually outside scalping tickets for a free socialist event. The night featured speeches from Naomi Klein, Jeremy Scahill, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Anand Gopal, and Owen Jones. Their speeches are collected in The Anti-Inauguration: Building resistance in the Trump era, a free ebook from Jacobin, Verso, Haymarket.

Featuring Naomi Klein, Jeremy Scahill, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Anand Gopal, and Owen Jones on resisting Trump’s agenda and building the future we need.

Forum – Trump: A Resister’s Guide

Source: Harper’s Magazine, February 2017

We have a new president who is also a new kind of president. Our previous chief executives — at least those of the post–World War II era — were not in the business of outright bigotry and misogyny. Nor did they make common cause with white supremacists, boast about sexual assault, or threaten to jail their opponents. Nor did they openly deride and undermine the traditions and institutions that it is the president’s duty to uphold. Donald Trump is different. Since he was elected in November, many Americans have struggled to assimilate our changed reality, the radical discontinuity that his victory represents. It has been a long winter, a season of fear, grief, and, perhaps above all, rage — a feeling compounded by its seeming futility. “Impotent hatred is the worst of all emotions,” Goethe said. “One should hate nobody whom one cannot destroy.” As a once-unthinkable Trump presidency gets under way, it is time to recognize that we are not as impotent as we may have felt — that even if we cannot destroy Trump, we can resist his primitive vision to the best of our abilities. There are no guarantees that we will succeed, but, as the writers in this forum all make clear, not to try would be a dereliction. A new kind of president demands a new kind of citizen.

Articles include:
Terms of Engagement
by Tim Barker
Tim Barker is a doctoral student in history at Harvard and an editor-at-large of Dissent.

Letter to Silicon Valley
by Kate Crawford
Kate Crawford is a principal researcher at Microsoft Research, a visiting professor at MIT, and a senior research fellow at NYU.

Libidinal Politics
by Katrina Forrester
Katrina Forrester teaches history at Queen Mary University of London.

Hymn to Harm City
by Lawrence Jackson
Lawrence Jackson’s fourth book, Chester B. Himes: A Biography, will be published this summer.

Terrorist and Alien
by Nimmi Gowrinathan and Valeria Luiselli
Valeria Luiselli is the author of the novel The Story of My Teeth (2015) and the essay collection Sidewalks (2013).
Nimmi Gowrinathan is a professor and the director of the Politics of Sexual Violence Initiative at the City College of New York.

The Dream of the Enemy
by Corey Robin
Corey Robin, a professor at Brooklyn College, is the author of Fear (2006) and The Reactionary Mind (2011).

Lessons From the Last Fight
by Sarah Schulman
Sarah Schulman is the author of eighteen books, most recently Conflict Is Not Abuse (2016).

Democracy How?
by Celina Su
Celina Su is the Marilyn J. Gittell Chair in Urban Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

In End Time
by Simone White
Simone White is the author of two volumes of poetry, including Of Being Dispersed (2016).

American Nightmare
by Wesley Yang
Wesley Yang is at work on his first book.

5 Calls debuts what may be the easiest way to call your reps yet

Source: Sarah Perez, TechCrunch, January 25, 2017

A growing number of political activist websites have popped up in recent days to help those opposed to the Trump administration’s policies and agenda to take action. But a new one, 5 Calls, has just launched its simple online tool that makes the more cumbersome process of getting in touch with your representatives a lot easier than before.

The site, created by a team of volunteers, isn’t very fancy, but it’s certainly efficient.
The idea is that if you have 5 minutes to spare, you can place 5 calls – something that’s far more effective in terms of influencing your representatives and getting your voice heard than emailing is said to be.

And, yes, this site has an anti-Trump, left-leaning agenda, but it’s worth noting its creators have open sourced the code. While this was done largely because of the way the team operated – during their free time, from different locations – it places the code in the public domain. And that means others – including those on the opposing side of the political spectrum – could build their own version of 5 Calls, if they were motivated to keep such a site updated. ….

Resistance Manual

Source: Stay Woke, 2017

This Wiki is a collective resource, a hub of knowledge and resources to help you resist Trump’s agenda. Add new issues or make additions to any page on this site. Quality submissions will be reviewed and published here.

Topics include:
Trump / GOP Policy Agenda
Obamacare / ACA
Policing
Immigration
Voting Rights
Mass Incarceration
Tax Cuts for the Wealthy
Housing and Infrastructure
Women’s Rights / Reproductive Justice
LGBTQ Equality
Educational Justice
Muslim Ban / Registry
Consumer / Financial Protections
Climate / Environment

Essential Readings
find articles, curricula, and other readings in resistance

State and Local Pages
find info on issues, elections, and resources in your state and city

Political Issues
Political Appointments
Executive Actions
Elections
Trump Endorsers and Influencers
Corruption
Russia/Hacking
Mass Surveillance
Media Normalization
Societal Consequences of Trumpism
Institutional Racism

Resources
Crisis Resources
Tools of Resistance
People and Organizations
Upcoming Events/Opportunities