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The landscape of what we think is possible

by , posted on Friday, January 4th, 2019 at 6:32 pm

When you are in the minority, and you can’t legislate, you concentrate on messaging. And progressives are in the minority in the House Democratic Caucus. They shouldn’t be looking for a seat at the table alongside the leadership; they should be focused on supporting the candidacies of movement-oriented progressives everywhere they can, so that they can increase the leverage they have when sitting across the table from the leadership, until one day they have the votes in the Democratic Caucus to win the leadership themselves. They should be paying their dues to Progressive Caucus PAC, Justice Democrats PAC, PCCC PAC, not the damn DCCC, where their money will be given disproportionately to candidates who will vote against them in the Democratic Caucus. And, in the meantime, within the House, as long as they don’t have the numbers to force the issue(s), “shaping the landscape of what we think is possible,” as AOC puts it here, is EXACTLY what they should be doing.

I’m with her.

Cross-posted from Facebook

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The First Thing

by , posted on Tuesday, January 1st, 2019 at 1:00 am

It has been all but impossible to read anything written about Lauren Underwood since she won election to Congress from IL-14 in November that doesn’t point out that she is the first woman, and first minority, to represent her district.

Which is true. She is.

But it is also not entirely true.

It all depends on how you read, or write, one of those “firsts.”

For example, I used to live in IL-14. I lived on Aurora’s east side for a year or so, I lived on Aurora’s west side for another four years, and then Boulder Hill after that. And if I was still living in IL-14 it would not be true that Lauren Underwood was the first woman representing me in Congress. That’s because I had a woman representing me in Congress the entire time I lived in Aurora. Her name was Charlotte Reid.

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What’s the anti-Pelosi endgame?

by , posted on Wednesday, November 28th, 2018 at 1:46 pm

So, there’s this question a lot of us are asking ourselves: Why is Bill Foster doing this? Why are any of them doing this? What’s the endgame? I finally began to think I could see the logic, if you want to call it that, when I read something at CNN.com.

Clearly, the strategy has never been to challenge Pelosi in the Democratic Caucus. It’s to hold the line against her getting 218 on the floor, in hopes of creating a stalemate that ultimately forces Pelosi to withdraw from consideration, creating the possibility of a compromise candidate being put forth to end the crisis. But who? Steny? Maybe. He gets them where they want to go ideologically, which is to the right. But this little detail caught my Illinois-centric eye:

“‘It doesn’t seem like there’s an alternative as part of their strategy,’ said Rep. Cheri Bustos, an Illinois Democrat, who acknowledged that some Pelosi critics reached out to her to urge her to consider running for speaker.”
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This is why we can’t have nice things

by , posted on Monday, November 19th, 2018 at 10:46 pm

Instead of mounting a progressive challenge to corporate Democrat Steny Hoyer as Majority Leader, Congressional Progressive Caucus Vice Chairs Ruben Gallego, Sheila Jackson Lee, Jamie Raskin, Jan Schakowsky, and Mark Takano, and rank-and-file CPC members Alma Adams, Nanette Diaz Barragán, Don Beyer, Lisa Blunt Rochester, André Carson, Judy Chu, Katherine Clark, Wm. Lacy Clay, Steve Cohen, Elijah Cummings, Danny Davis, Rosa DeLauro, Mark DeSaulnier, Debbie Dingell, Lloyd Doggett, Adriano Espaillat, Dwight Evans, Lois Frankel, Jimmy Gomez, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Joe Kennedy III, Brenda Lawrence, John Lewis, Ted Lieu, Dave Loebsack, Alan Lowenthal, Carolyn Maloney, Jim McGovern, Gwen Moore, Jerry Nadler, Grace Napolitano, Donald Norcross, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Frank Pallone, Lucille Roybal-Allard, José Serrano, Adam Smith, Darren Soto, Jackie Speier, Nydia Velázquez, Maxine Waters, Peter Welch, Frederica Wilson and John Yarmuth all signed a “Dear Colleague” letter [.pdf] on November 13th endorsing Hoyer, who is unopposed, for Majority Leader.

I wonder how many of them supported Levi Tillemann‘s campaign.

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In Lafayette Square

by , posted on Thursday, November 8th, 2018 at 9:54 pm

I work about four blocks from the White House, so I decided to make my way over to Lafayette Square before heading home to see if people were gathering there. Walking into the park around 6:30pm from Pennsylvania Avenue, I didn’t hear much at first, but then I realized there was a crowd of people over on the west side listening to a speaker. It was dark, so I couldn’t tell how many people were there, but I’m guessing it had to be several hundred. Maybe more.

The last time I was in the park like that was as the Gulf War was about to break out. I remember going over for a few nights and just standing there, staring across the street at Bush 41’s White House, standing vigil, I guess, with other protesters while somebody pounded on a drum.

I can’t help but think there are more nights in Lafayette Square to come.

Crossposted from Facebook

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The Brolley Question

by , posted on Thursday, March 1st, 2018 at 6:01 am

Last year, early in the cycle, the Progressive Fox‘s Downtowner told of receiving two pieces of information about then-prospective IL-14 candidate Matt Brolley—that he was not a resident of the district and that he had pulled a Republican, not Democratic, ballot in three out of the last four primaries—and then she offered her own take on that news. Reasonable minds could have differed regarding the importance of those two pieces of information, but it would have been hard to deny that the news was relevant information, that it was not widely known, and that some would find it to be of interest as they attempted to educate themselves regarding the evolving choices before them in IL-14.

And yet, the post—not the information about Brolley contained in it, but the very exercise of communicating that information and presuming to offer an opinion about it—was considered unreasonable by some. In particular, a cluster of negative reactions from a handful of Kendall County Democrats when I shared the post on Facebook caught my attention. Kendall County is where I’m from, it’s where my political roots are the deepest, and I found myself giving a lot of thought to what those Kendall Dems had to say.
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Two thoughts on Bob Dylan’s reaction to the Nobel

by , posted on Monday, December 12th, 2016 at 12:57 pm

1. Let’s not overdo the importance of “credit in the straight world,” i.e. mainstream acceptance. These are the same people, let’s not forget, that gave Henry Kissinger a Peace Prize. Whose awards in the sciences have repeatedly omitted women’s contributions. Dylan did acknowledge the prize. He just didn’t jump when they said jump. He sent the Swedish Academy an acceptance speech that thanks them for the unexpected honor, but also makes it quite clear that he is a bit ambivalent about the prize. Would we have expected modern artists to bow down before the Paris Salon when the academic painters finally got around to acknowledging them? Of course not. Why expect Dylan to be any different?

2. Dylan is routinely found on lists of famous people most likely to have Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s entirely possible that his social awkwardness — readily apparent since Day One with him — has as much, or more, to do with the way his brain is wired than it does with a simple lack of manners. The only thing he didn’t do, really, was heed the call for a command performance in the form of a speech delivered in person. I’m not surprised. Dylan almost never speaks to his audience when he performs. Never has. And one sees in interviews, which he rarely has given, that he isn’t particularly comfortable even making eye contact with people. He doesn’t need the approbation of the Swedish Academy, and he doesn’t need their money. Why voluntarily put yourself in the middle of an extremely uncormfortable social situation if you don’t need to?

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For Tom Hayden

by , posted on Friday, November 11th, 2016 at 10:36 am

Coming of age in the wake of Watergate, in the waning days of the Vietnam War, the student movement of the Sixties made a great impression on me, even if only a bit after the fact. Contrary to conventional wisdom, that

generation of activists was still very much on the scene as I began to become politically active myself in the mid-Seventies. And as I learned about that recent history, it was the founding generation of SDS, Students for a Democratic Society, that I identified with most. Tom Hayden, especially

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