Elizabeth Warren Won’t Admit It, but the Primary System Is Racist

Column default
By Amy Goodman & Denis Moynihan

As the United States becomes increasingly diverse, and the Democratic Party even more so, the presidential nomination process remains heavily weighted by two states that are among the whitest in the nation, Iowa and New Hampshire.

When we asked about this racial disparity at a presidential candidate forum that the “Democracy Now!” news hour co-hosted in South Carolina last week, Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren bristled, replying, “I’m just a player in the game.” Warren and the other Democratic candidates need to answer why their party’s primary process favors these two small, rural, aging and almost entirely white states, and they need to explain how this “game” that weeds out candidates so early in the process is anything other than a glaring example of systemic racism.

The forum was held at South Carolina State University, an HBCU (historically black college or university) in Orangeburg, S.C. Here is the question and answer, in full:

AMY GOODMAN: Senator Warren, just 30 seconds left. But speaking about racial injustice, do you think the order of the primary states should change? You have Iowa and New Hampshire —

SENELIZABETH WARREN: Wait, let me make — let me just — before you finish, are you actually going to ask me to sit here and criticize Iowa and New Hampshire?

AMY GOODMAN: No, I’m asking about the order.

SENELIZABETH WARREN: No, that is what Iowa and New Hampshire are all about.

AMY GOODMAN: But let me just ask. They’re two of the whitest states in the country, and then we move to South Carolina with a very significant population of people of color, and it means the candidates spend so much of their time catering to those first two states. Overall, do you think that should change?

SENELIZABETH WARREN: Look, I’m just a player in the game on this one. And I am delighted to be in South Carolina. Thank you.

Warren’s irritated reaction to the question betrays the Democratic Party’s rigid orthodoxy on first-in-the-nation status for both the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary.

In 1972, Iowa Democrats moved the caucus up to Jan. 24, to give themselves extra time to process the results from all the precincts (currently numbering 1,678). That early date made the Iowa caucuses the nation’s first indicator of each candidate’s standing, and thus attracted extraordinary media attention.

Sensing they were on to something, the Iowa Democratic and Republican parties agreed to always hold their caucuses early, and on the same day, to maximize national press coverage. New Hampshire then managed to cement its hold as the first primary state, immediately following the Iowa caucuses. This has been the status quo since the 1970s, but nothing says it has to stay that way.

MSNBC played our exchange with Warren for Democratic presidential hopeful Julian Castro, who responded,

“I actually believe that we do need to change the order of the states, because I don’t believe that we are the same country that we were in 1972. … Our country has changed a lot in those 50 years, the Democratic Party has changed a lot. Demographically it is not reflective of the United States as a whole, certainly not of the Democratic Party. And I believe that other states should have their chance. So yes, of course, we need to find other states. I don’t believe that forever we should be married to Iowa and New Hampshire going first.”

There are already four majority-minority states: California, Hawaii, New Mexico and Texas, along with the District of Columbia. Holding caucuses or primaries in these states first would likely have a dramatic effect on the outcome.

The lead-up to both Iowa and New Hampshire now are so long, with candidates, in some cases, spending more than a year making frequent, extended campaign swings through both states. Imagine if they were spending that much time in more diverse states, like South Carolina.

Elizabeth Warren, to her credit, did travel to Orangeburg to participate in this first-ever presidential candidate forum on environmental justice. The forum was co-moderated by Mustafa Santiago Ali, former Environmental Protection Agency official, now at the National Wildlife Federation. At the top of the forum, Mustafa defined environmental justice:

“Environmental justice is the disproportionate impacts that continue to happen in our communities. The things that no one else wants, they place them in communities of color, low-income communities and indigenous lands. They become the sacrifice zones, the sacrifice zones for coal-fired power plants, for certified animal feeding operations, for waste treatment facilities, for unhealthy housing.”

The concerns of the first states in the presidential nomination process disproportionately impact the agenda for the entire race. Democracy is about representation. The primary and caucus system needs to be reformed now.

Hundreds of Elephants Die as Drought Grips Southern Africa

H9 southern africa drought zimbabwe elephants dying climate change

Wildlife has been affected, too. Tinaapi Madiri, Zimbabwe’s national elephant manager, said more than 200 elephants have died of dehydration and starvation in recent weeks.

Tinaapi Madiri: “Going into the future with the increased droughts due to climate change and other phenomenon, we are likely to experience more and more of this drought, which could possibly impact significantly on our elephant population.”

“A Warning”: Anonymous Senior Official Slams Trump in New Book

download (2)NOV 08, 2019

A midnight self-massacre. That was the plan hatched by some senior Trump administration officials, who considered resigning en masse last year to sound the alarm about Trump’s conduct. They ultimately rejected the idea over concerns it would further destabilize the government.

The aborted warning is one of a series of revelations in a forthcoming book titled “A Warning.” Its author is an anonymous senior official within the Trump administration who published an anonymous op-ed in The New York Times last year titled “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.”

In the book, the author describes senior officials waking up and trying to respond to Trump’s overnight Twitter announcements, writing, “It’s like showing up at the nursing home at daybreak to find your elderly uncle running pantsless across the courtyard and cursing loudly about the cafeteria food, as worried attendants tried to catch him. You’re stunned, amused, and embarrassed all at the same time. Only your uncle probably wouldn’t do it every single day, his words aren’t broadcast to the public, and he doesn’t have to lead the U.S. government once he puts his pants on.”

The author also claims Trump once asked White House lawyers to write a bill to send to Congress aimed at reducing the number of federal judges, after various judges had thwarted Trump’s policies. Trump reportedly said, “Can we just get rid of the judges? Let’s get rid of the [expletive] judges. There shouldn’t be any at all, really.” This according to the forthcoming book “A Warning.”

Remembering the Greensboro Massacre of 1979, When KKK & Nazis Killed 5 People in Broad Daylight

NOVEMBER 04, 2019

Hundreds gathered this weekend to mark the 40th anniversary of the Greensboro massacre, when 40 Ku Klux Klansmen and American Nazis opened fire on an anti-Klan demonstration in Greensboro, North Carolina, killing five anti-racist activists in a span of 88 seconds. Those killed were members of the Communist Workers’ Party. Ten other activists were injured. No one was convicted in the massacre, but a jury did find the Greensboro police liable for cooperating with the Ku Klux Klan in a wrongful death. Local pastors in Greensboro are now calling on the City Council to issue an apology for the events that led to the 1979 killing. W

“A Worldwide Revolution Is Underway.”

Column default

By Amy Goodman & Denis Moynihan

Puerto Rico. Hong Kong. Ecuador. Haiti. Lebanon. Iraq. And now, Chile. People are rising up around the world against austerity and corruption, defying police forces unleashed to suppress them. Many of these mass movements share a fierce critique of capitalism. In Santiago, Chile, more than 1 million people flooded the streets last weekend, and mass protests continue. There, the brutal Pinochet dictatorship from 1973-1990, during which thousands of progressive activists and leaders were tortured, disappeared and murdered, was followed by decades of neoliberal policies, with rampant privatization, union busting, stagnant wages and increased costs for education, health care, transportation and other services. Chile, among the richest countries in South America, is also one of the most unequal. At least 20 people have been killed during recent protests there, further angering and emboldening the crowds.

These global protests also occur at a critical inflection point in history, with as few as 10 years remaining for humanity to transition from a fossil fuel economy to one powered by renewable energy. On Wednesday, Chile’s embattled, billionaire president, Sebastian Pinera, abruptly announced that his country was cancelling plans to host two major international summits, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in mid-November, and the United Nations climate summit, the 25th “Conference of the Parties,” or COP25, in the first two weeks of December.

Carolina Schmidt, Chile’s COP25 president-designate, said, “The citizens have expressed in a strong way their legitimate social demands that require the full attention and all efforts from the government.”

Chile’s cancellation of the COP could be a setback for global action on climate. But climate activists should take heart: This renewed spirit of rebellion around the world signifies a rejection of the status quo, and could portend accelerated, grassroots mobilization to avert irreversible, catastrophic climate change.

“Social injustice and the climate crisis have a common root cause,” the Climate Action Network said in a release not long after Chile’s COP cancellation. “Climate justice and solidarity is fundamentally about the protection of human rights and a better quality of life for all.”

The climate crisis touches everyone, first and most forcefully the world’s poor. The mass uprising in Puerto Rico that forced the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rossello was the culmination of decades of frustration with Puerto Rico’s colonial status and the more current exploitation by Wall Street vulture funds. But the discontent was fueled by the utter devastation of the back-to-back hurricanes Irma and Maria two years ago. “The austerity policies that have been implemented have put the people of Puerto Rico in a position of vulnerability. Social inequality has increased to levels that we have never seen here,” Manuel Natal, a member of Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives, said on the “Democracy Now!” news hour days before Rossello’s resignation. “We need more democracy, not less democracy. We are on the brink of a political revolution here.” Rossello’s ouster was the first time in U.S. history that a governor was forced from office by popular protest.

Indigenous people are also leading the way, often at the front lines, confronting resource extraction with disciplined, nonviolent resistance. Hundreds of indigenous and campesino social leaders in Colombia have been murdered in recent years, simply for standing up for justice and environmental protections.

The Paris climate agreement specifically notes the importance of climate justice, and pledges to work “in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty.” One of the enduring conflicts that has hampered international climate negotiations has been the refusal by wealthy nations, principally the United States, to accept the simple premise that “polluters pay.” The United States is the wealthiest nation in human history because, in part, it has polluted its way to the top, using cheap, dirty power: coal-fired power plants, diesel locomotives and now, so-called clean-burning fracked gas.

The Green Climate Fund was supposed to raise billions of dollars to finance renewable projects in poorer countries. The fund’s pledging conference last week fell short of its goal, primarily because the Trump administration reneged on the U.S.’s $2 billion commitment. Australia and Russia followed suit, refusing to make contributions.

A new study by Climate Central, a news and science organization, shows that climate-induced coastal flooding will likely be far worse than previously predicted, forcing between 200-600 million people, rich and poor, to flee their homes later in the century. Climate change-fueled wildfires are now raging across California, with hundreds of thousands of people evacuated from their homes and at least 1 million people without power.

Popular uprisings are also spreading like wildfire, though, against corrupt autocratic leaders, austerity and inequality. People are also flooding the streets, globally, linking the movements against inequality with the fight for a just, sustainable world powered by renewable energy.

Pathologist Says Jeffrey Epstein Was Strangled to Death!

H15 jeffrey epstein pathologist strangled to death homocide

A forensic pathologist hired by the brother of Jeffrey Epstein says the injuries that killed the multimillionaire sex abuser were consistent with strangulation — not a death by suicide, as a New York medical examiner reported. Dr. Michael Baden says a broken bone in Epstein’s neck is “extremely unusual in suicidal hangings and could occur much more commonly in homicidal strangulation.” Epstein was found dead in his Manhattan jail cell in August as he awaited trial on federal sex trafficking charges. Epstein once counted President Trump and former President Bill Clinton among his high-profile friends.

Youth Climate Activists Stage Sit-In at House Speaker Pelosi’s Office

H4 climate activists pelosis office house speaker sit in dianne feinstein climate change
Image Credit: Twitter: @sunrisemvmtdc

On Capitol Hill, 50 youth climate activists with the Sunrise Movement occupied the offices of California Senator Dianne Feinstein and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday, demanding meaningful action on climate change. Organizer Claire Tacherra-Morrison said in a statement, “Democratic leadership is failing to treat this like the emergency that it is. Business-as-usual is killing us.”