Here are 7 things people who say they’re ‘fiscally conservative but socially liberal’ don’t understand

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Travels with the “Green Book”

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Martin Luther King Jr.’s policy agenda is as relevant today as it was when he created it

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington on Aug. 28, 1963. (AP)
Jared Bernstein, a former chief economist to Vice President Joe Biden, is a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and author of ‘The Reconnection Agenda: Reuniting Growth and Prosperity’.

January 21 at 6:00 AM

“We can’t solve our problems unless there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power.” — The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., 1967

As we celebrate the birth of the great civil rights leader, I’d like to remember two specific aspects of his legacy. Both have to do with his economic message, which was, of course, intimately connected to the pursuit of racial justice that was at the core of his life’s work. The first is his diagnosis, and the second is his prescription.

Take a close look at the above quote. A simpler diagnosis of the solution to “our problems” might invoke the redistribution not of power, but of income or wealth. In fact, most social policy debates involve precisely that argument. One side argues for expanding, say, wage subsidies for low-wage workers, to be paid for by higher taxes on the rich (to be clear, I’ve made such arguments); the other argues that such redistribution is unfair and unproductive. Both sides quickly grab their studies and their experts and we’re off (typically, on separate cable channels).

King’s diagnosis ran much deeper. Of course, he supported progressive taxation to pay for programs to help poor African Americans. But he viewed that as palliative, not curative. It was power that must be more fairly distributed. And no nibbling around the edges of power would do; the redistribution must be “radical,” by which he meant well beyond what the politics of his, and our, time typically entertained.

How different would America look today if power were much more broadly held? One way to answer this important question is to look at King’s prescriptive policy agenda. Today King is remembered mostly for his impassioned and inspired rhetoric, which, given the power of his words, is as it should be. But he was also a pragmatic policy thinker for whom it was essential to connect the poetry of the goals to the prose of the agenda.

These are some of policy ideas championed by King, particularly later in his too-short life, when he introduced and led the Poor People’s Campaign. It is a testament to both King’s foresight and the work still to be done that these issues remain at the heart of today’s policy debates.

Full employment: The full name of the historic 1963 march organized by King and others was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. A sign often seen that day read, “Civil Rights Plus Full Employment Equals Freedom.” Clearly, King recognized that in very tight labor markets, it was costlier for employers to discriminate against African Americans. At full employment, indulging their prejudices meant leaving profits on the table. In fact, time and again throughout our economic history, including the present, we see this dynamic in play (a recent Wall Street Journal piece was titled “Tight Job Market Opens Doors for Ex-Convicts”). And the reason full employment works is because it increases power — bargaining power.

Full employment doesn’t solve everything, not by a long shot, but its benefits to workers facing discrimination have been well-documented; see, for example, this muscular analysis by Federal Reserve economists.

The Fed is an essential player in this context, as keeping interest rates low sustains labor market tightness. In that regard, here’s an important technical point. For years, our central bank has worked to “anchor inflationary expectations,” meaning to assure everyone that it will wield its policy tools to keep inflation low and stable. This has had the effect of significantly lowering the negative correlation between unemployment and inflation, meaning that the Fed can keep the jobless rate much lower, for much longer, without invoking overheating. It’s a critical connection between King’s goal of full employment, worker power and the evolution of contemporary monetary policy.

Unions: Recall that when he was tragically taken from us, King was in Memphis in support of striking sanitation workers. The disproportionately black workforce there was striking for safer conditions (not long before the strike, two African American sanitation workers were killed on a city truck) and better pay. The mayor of Memphis declared the strike illegal, but with King’s support, the public-sector union was recognized (less than two weeks after King’s assassination).

The connection between unions and power is long-standing, and the decline in union power is one reason today’s politics are so unrepresentative of working people.

It is thus of great concern that the share of American workers with collective bargaining rights is at an all-time low. Of particular concern, unionization rates for public-sector workers, though still far above those in the private sector, are starting to slip. Reversing this trend must be a top priority for policymakers in pursuit of rebalancing power.

Guaranteed jobs and income: King championed both of these ideas, and both are in the midst of a contemporary renaissance. Even at full employment, there are many people who face steep barriers to work. Sometimes those barriers are steepened by the weakness of labor demand in the left-behind places they live. Sometimes, they are a function of health problems, addiction, criminal records and deep skill deficits. And, of course, racial discrimination is always in play.

With increased recognition of these realities, policymakers and others are proposing a broad range of solutions, from robust guaranteed jobs programs to more narrowly targeted subsidies to help disadvantaged workers. A similar movement has long been brewing around guaranteed incomes, a policy King explicitly supported.

Again, if we look at racial justice through a lens of power — political power, in this case — consider the difference if the goal of our political representatives were to ensure adequate jobs and incomes rather than tax cuts for the rich, deregulation of industry, and hostility to immigrants and minorities.

There are numerous other areas of King’s agenda at the forefront of progressive policy today, including incarceration policy, health care, education, housing and the shifting of military expenditures to social programs.

If he were to walk among us today, King would be disheartened, though probably not surprised, to see our lack of progress. But I like to think he’d be enthused and inspired by the millions of us, including increasing numbers of policy advocates and, especially since the midterm elections, political representatives, working in pursuit of his dream.

Let those of us in that group reflect on the truth he left us with that our work is “the radical redistribution of economic and political power.” If that’s not what you’re up to, today’s a good day to figure out how to make it so.

Diana Ross added to Jazz Fest

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Trans women play visible role in Women’s March

Women's March, gay news, Washington Blade
The National Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 19, 2019, drew thousands of people from across the country. (Washington Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

Two transgender women gave rousing speeches on the main stage at a rally for the National Women’s March on Washington on Saturday.

The third annual Women’s March and rally took place one day after
march organizers released a sweeping 68-page Women’s Agenda document that
includes strongly worded support for LGBT equality, including a call for
Congress to pass the LGBT rights bill known as the Equality Act.

Organizers said the Washington march was one of more than 300 marches and related events held on Saturday in U.S. cities and abroad in which hundreds of thousands of women and their allies participated.

Due to predictions of inclement weather organizers moved the
location of the Washington march and rally from the National Mall to Freedom
Plaza in downtown D.C. A shortened march route began at Freedom Plaza and
traveled east on Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., to the Trump Hotel at 11th Street and
Pennsylvania Avenue before returning to Freedom Plaza.

Thousands of participants filled the street for several blocks and created a scene of a sea of people carrying colorful signs with a wide range of messages, many of which were critical of President Trump. “Abort Trump in the first term,” said one sign. “The Warden is coming,” said another.

Most, however, promoted women’s rights, with many calling for
passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.

“We drove down from New York last night because I can’t imagine
being anywhere else today,” said a woman who identified herself as Morgan and
who was with her friend Michelle.

identified themselves as lesbians.

“It was just really important for us to be here,” said Michelle.
“We weren’t just going to sit down and let this all happen.”

Most observes familiar with the first two women’s marchers said Saturday’s event drew far fewer people in D.C., New York and Los Angeles than the 2017 and 2018 Women’s Marches. Some observers said the smaller turnout could have been due to a controversy surrounding allegations of anti-Semitism among members of the national Women’s March organization.

But the two trans women speakers at the rally and LGBT participants in the Washington march praised march leaders for bringing together what they called a diverse coalition of progressive organizations and individuals, including Jewish, African American and Latino leaders who strongly support an agenda of intersectionality.

Among the marchers on Saturday was D.C. lesbian activist Robin
Kane, who said she has been part of the Women’s March movement since the first
march in 2017 and has found it to be welcoming to everyone.

“I’m committed to this intersectional movement,” she said. “We’re
at a crisis point in American democracy and this is the alternative, the
beautiful intersectional alternative where we’re working together to create the
future that we want.”

Harmony, a lesbian who came to the D.C. march from Cincinnati with
her friend Abby, said she was hesitant to come at first after hearing reports
of possible anti-Semitism among march leaders.

“But I came to the original Women’s March in D.C. in 2017,” she
said. “And I’m still marching for those same beliefs, like equal rights for
everyone. I think everyone who is still marching and still participating is
still for those same principles,” she said.

The two trans speakers, Jewish community activist Abby Stein and Bamby
Salcedo, who serves as president and CEO of the TransLatin@ Coalition, were
selected along with two lesbians to serve on the Women’s March’s 31-member
Steering Committee.

“I’m a trans woman and a Jewish queer,” Stein told several
thousand people assembled for the rally at Freedom Plaza and surrounding
streets. “I’m here today with my Jewish family and with my LGBTQ and
transgender family,” she said.

“Together we are screaming that we are here with every part of who
we are,” she said. We are who we are.”

Stein was among a number of Jewish community leaders that urged
Jewish women not to withdraw their participation from the march amidst some
allegations that one of the march’s national leaders declined to disassociate
herself from Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has made anti-Semitic
and homophobic statements in speeches.

Jewish activists supporting the march noted that march leaders,
including the one who at one time praised Farrakhan for uplifting African
American men but said she strongly disagreed with his anti-Semitic and anti-gay
remarks, have spoken out strongly against anti-Semitism and have welcomed
Jewish women into the leadership of the march.

“A lot of people out there, a lot of people in the media are
trying to divide us,” Stein said at the rally. “But we have stuck
together…We’ve stuck together despite our differences,” she said. “What brings
us together is our differences.”

Stein concluded her remarks by inviting the audience to join her
in a chant denouncing different forms of prejudice and oppression by shouting,
“Let it go.”  

“Anti-Semitism,” Stein began the chant, with the crowd shouting,
“Let it go!” Her litany continued with, “Transphobia, let it go! Homophobia let
it go! Racism let it go! Islamophobia, let it go! Xenophobia, let it go!
Ableism, let it go!”

Salcedo, who was accompanied by several other trans women, began
her remarks in Spanish before switching to English. She noted that the
organization she heads provides services to the transgender community in Los

“Today is a historic day not just for me but for many trans
women,” she said. “Today trans women are visible to the whole world. We have to
proudly raise our voice and say that trans women are women,” she said, drawing
loud applause.

“No one, not the government, no individuals, no companies or
institutions get to dictate who we are as individuals,” she said. “My truth is
that I am a woman and that I belong here…and I thank the Women’s March for
honoring that.”

Several other trans women followed Salcedo to the podium and
introduced themselves as trans women, saying they two were grateful to be a
part of the Women’s March.

Salcedo then concluded her remarks by inviting the audience to
join her in another chant, which the crowd enthusiastically joined: “Trans
women are women! Trans Women are Women!”

In a gesture that LGBT activists are likely to view as
encouraging, members of the audience began their own chant as Salcedo and the
other trans women walked off the stage.

“We see you, we love you!” the crowd shouted in unison. “We see
you, we love you!”

Other speakers, including Johnnetta B. Cole of the National
Council of Negro Women, expressed support for LGBT rights and lesbian and trans

“We stand in solidarity with our sisters of all hues,” Cole told
the crowd. “We stand with all lesbian, bisexual and trans women.”

At least eight LGBT advocacy organizations, including the National
Black Justice Coalition and the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, signed on as
partners of the Women’s March.

The Women’s March Agenda document covers a wide range of
progressive causes, including efforts to curtail climate change and the
adoption of a Medicare for All approach to a national healthcare system.

Its LGBT rights platform takes an expansive view of LGBT equality.

“We firmly declare that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender,
Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Gender non-conforming, and Non-Binary (LGBTQIA+)
rights are human rights and that it is our obligation to uplift, expand and
protect the rights of our gay, lesbian, bi, queer, trans, two-spirit or gender
non-conforming siblings,” the document says.

“This includes access to nonjudgmental, comprehensive health care
with no exceptions or limitations; access to name and gender changes on
identity documents; full anti-discrimination protections; access to education,
employment, housing and benefits; and an end to police and state violence,” it

In addition for calling on Congress to pass the Equality Act,
which would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations, the agenda
document calls for Congress to repeal two existing laws regulating

“We call for an end to the criminalization of voluntary sex work
by adults under federal law, including repeal of the Stop Enabling Sex
Traffickers Act (SESTA) and the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) in
recognition of the fact that sex work offers an important means of survival for
some within the LGBTQIA+ community,” the agenda document says.

“Adopting this policy proposal will enable LGBTQIA+ people to lead
safer, more fulfilling lives by reducing the extent they are targeted within
the criminal justice system and brutalized within the system of mass
incarceration,” it says.

Interview with Seattle Artist Juan Alonso-Rodríguez Curator of Re:defnition that he has installed at the Paramount Theater Lobby Bar opening this Sunday at 6PM!

If you have paid any attention to the art world in Seattle, or if you have been to the Tashiro-Kaplan artist lofts you must know the work of amazing artist Juan Alonso-Rodríguez, one of the most amazing, prolific and motivating artists in the area.  I recently had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Alonso-Rodríguez on the eve of the important exhibition Re:defnition that he has installed at the Paramount Theater Lobby Bar and which is opening this Sunday!

So let’s begin, please take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers and please also describe your artwork for us.

Juan Alonso-Rodríguez:  My name is Juan Alonso-Rodríguez. I am a cuban-born, self-taught visual artist living in Seattle since 1982, via Miami, San Francisco & Key West.

My art is my meditation. Whether I am working on an on-going series, a public project or experimenting with something new, making art in my studio is where I find comfort, peace and distraction from the world’s many problems. It is my way of balancing some of humanity’s ugliness with something created with the intent of providing beauty.

Aquamarine (diptych), 2018, acrylic on 2 wood panels, 48″ x 36″ each panel.

I work primarily with acrylics and my work is mostly abstract. Color, textures and finishes play important parts in my work. It is influenced by way too many things that change daily, according to what is happening in the world, to mention but there are a few constants: architecture, nature, balance, human emotion and perceived symmetry. Above all, the work is meditative.

Xavier:  That is awesome.  I have read that you are self-taught.  How did your art career begin?  When did you first start to make artwork and has it always been abstract?  What is it that has drawn you to abstraction–is it purely for the meditation?

Juan Alonso-Rodríguez: I am self-taught. Creativity has always been part of my life. From drawing to using clay to create figurines as a kid, the act of making is something I have always enjoyed. When I moved to Seattle, I was very excited about the adventure of starting a new life here. Because I wanted to be surrounded with art but could not afford to buy any, I decided that I’d create some myself. I preferred having anything original to buying meaningless poster art. My first job here was at Park Lane Framing in Belltown, so I brought in the work I had created to be framed since I had a discount to do so. The owner of the frame shop, Dan Michelson, liked what he saw and asked if I would hang some of it on the shop walls to see what his customers would think of it. People began to take notice and because he framed for a lot of designers and for some galleries, I started getting their attention as well. One gallery close by (I can’t remember its name) asked if I would show some paintings there. That was the first time I showed in a gallery which closed soon after but not before  I had gotten the taste of showing my work. they were also very encouraging and gave me some tips on how to create a resume. I was then, as I am now, making some abstract work as well as some botanical and figurative paintings.

Crepúsculo, 2018, acrylic on wood panel, 48″ x 48″.

For me, abstraction is a way to filter a lot of thoughts and stimulation into something clearer. It’s a distilling process that happens in my head and it is ultimately my best meditative practice. Some times I have to step out of it in order to recharge and let new raw materials enter the grinder.

Xavier:  that is wonderful. So, actually, strangely, I don’t get to interview abstract artists as much as I’d like to. How does the abstract artwork communicate with the viewer, at what level and how would you like the viewer to engage the work.

Juan Alonso-Rodríguez:  I think there are way more possibilities for abstract work to communicate with an audience, even if at the same time, the communication might be more contentious. Abstraction lends itself more to interpretation and/or projecting certain feelings, as opposed to the directness coming from representational work. I actually like the fact that some works have such varied interpretations, even if they don’t coincide with my original intentions. I may try to funnel and project an idea or feeling through the work but everyone brings their own experience when viewing it. I think the energy is there but it varies some with every individual. It is less direct: more of a suggestion than a demand.

Xavier:  I agree!  It seems like the conversation between the artwork. Artist and viewer is less directed–less one-sided with abstraction, that it allows for a more natural give-and-take.

Can you tell me about some of the things that you are currently working on?  What does the present and future look like for Juan Alonso-Rodriguez?

Llano, 2018, acrylic on wood panel, 48″ x 48″.

Juan Alonso-Rodríguez:  Right at the moment, I am in the middle of installing Part 1 of Re:defnition at the Paramount Theater Lobby Bar. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to curate two shows during the year. I’m focusing on local, unrepresented Latinx artists. The first half, which lasts until July, opens free to the public on Sunday, January 20th from 6-10pm. It includes visual art by Monica Arche and Fulgencio Lazo and a new commissioned poem by Felicia Gonzalez.  (Here is more information:

STG Presents – Re:definition

Official website and ticket source for The Paramount, Moore and Neptune Theatres, owned and operated by Seattle Theatre Group.

Once that is done, I will get back into the studio and continue to work on a series of “horizon” paintings. They are acrylic on unprimed canvas and take the meditative part of my work to a new level.

I am also trying to organize another retreat in the California desert for the month of May. Last year I had the opportunity to create a bunch of new drawings based on some of the shapes I found on my desert hikes. I want to go back and continue what I started. I think some metal sculptures will come out of that series of drawings.

Orilla, 2018, acrylic on wood panel, 54″ x 84″.

Xavier:  So tell me a bit about Re:Definition.  What is it and how did you choose the artists you included?  What can people expect to see at the exhibition and what else should folks know about it?

Juan Alonso-Rodríguez:   I have worked in metal before. When I was in my late teens to early twenties I worked for my uncle who owned a wrought iron shop. Eventually I managed his aluminum railing portion of the business. More recently, I have designed outdoor, public art sculptures (link here: but due to a lack of proper space and tools, they have been fabricated by others, not me.

After Re:definition 2016 focusing on African-American artists and 2017 on Native artists, I was asked to join the curatorial team consisting of Tariqa waters and Tracy Rector to curate the Theater’s 90th Anniversary exhibit in 2018. At the end of 2018, I was asked to curate two shows for this year and I really wanted to bring attention to some very fine work done by Latinx immigrant artists living in the Pacific Northwest. I also wanted to lean towards abstraction for the first half of the year. Besides personally relating to it, I wanted to start out by planting the idea that there is no one Latinx type of art. I think many groups get stereotyped to satisfy what mainstream is comfortable with.

I have personally been excluded from showing because according to the organizer, my work didn’t seem Latino enough. I want to break through that concept. We come from many different countries and diverse cultures. There is no one style we need to subscribe to. I also wanted to include the written word in the exhibit because…why not?

Hoody, 2017, stainless steel, 138″ x 63″ x 79″,
Commissioned by Washington State Arts Commission for Renton Technical College,

Xavier:  Yes, I feel like it is very tempting for Latino artists to give in to expectation at the expense of making work that explores their own individuality or even their experience of life on this earth outside of doing stereoptypical Latino work,  I very much feel you.  I have had much of the same problem with my work since the very beginning–continuing through to today–my work has been deemed to be not Latino enough, but I personally believe that that is changing little by little and that it is paramount for Latino artists to make the work that is important to them as individuals–I firmly believe to borrow a term from our brothers and sisters that “individual lives of color matter.”  Having said that, what do you believe it means to be a Latina/x/o artist in this day and age?  What are our responsibilities and what goals do you believe we should have collectively and individually as artists in this era?

Juan Alonso-Rodríguez:  I think the best things we can do are to make good work, show up, be present, be counted, be heard, educate every chance we get, support each other, keep forging ahead even when it requires super-human strength to do so. There are so many misconceptions and stereotypes that people have been and continue to be fed that just when you think you’ve debunked some, a few more pop up. We have to unify because there is strength in numbers and numbers we do have. We need to be proud of our cultural richness without fear. We need to walk proudly knowing that when we create and show our best, is when we are contributing most to ALL of society because by sharing our talent, our art, our culture; we literally make it better. We can no longer be gas-lighted into seeing ourselves as victims or “less-than”.

Xavier:  Do you have a website and where can people find your work?  Also, if you have anything you’d like to add, anything you feel that others should know about your work or that you would like us to think about, the floor is yours!

Juan Alonso-Rodríguez:  My studio is always open by appointment. I am also represented by Jorge Mendez Gallery ( in Palm Springs, CA and by Wendy Frieze ( in Minneapolis, MN. My website is

Sentinels, 2011, stainless steel, 8′ x 3′ x 6″ each.
Commissioned by Washington State Arts Commission
for Chief Sealth International High School in partnership with Seattle Public Schools

I often wonder if people think just how much they are affected in their daily lives by art and artists, even if you never visit a museum or go to the opera or read a novel. A city and its culture is only as good as the contributions made by its creative people. As I recently asked on social media, “What would Paris, Rome, New York & London be like without ART?”

Xavier:  And I understood that to be saying that if we ever want to see Seattle become legendary that we need to better invest in the arts–is that too far off the mark?

Juan Alonso-Rodríguez:   Not off the mark at all!

Xavier:  Are there any things that you would like to see happen in Seattle in the arena of the arts?

Juan Alonso-Rodríguez:     I’d love to see private developers and large corporations that are making the most money on the backs of Seattleites to be more accountable when it comes to the arts and culture of Seattle. I would like the 1% for art mandated on buildings paid with public money to be extended to private developments of  over a specific size or dollar amount. I would like to see local media (TV, newspapers, radio) cover the arts. It used to happen at one point. It wasn’t enough then but now we barely have any coverage at all.

Indigo Flow 9, 2018, acrylic on unprimed canvas, 42” x 42”.

Xavier:  From your mouth to God’s ear as they say!  Thank you so much for taking the time out of your incredibly busy schedule to talk with me and good luck at the opening–when is that again?  This Sunday?  And where again?

Juan Alonso-Rodríguez:    Sunday the 20th at 6pm at the Paramount Theater downtown Seattle. Please come!

And you are quite welcome. Thanks for letting me be a part of your series!

Xavier:  Of course!  It is I who am thankful that you are part of it!

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

2020 Democrats’ unspoken rebuke of Obama

Former President Barack Obama’s legacy looms over the 2020 Democratic primary. He was always overwhelmingly popular among Democrats and since leaving office he’s become more broadly liked among the rest of the non-Republican population due to a post-presidential glow and the jarring contrast he makes with President Trump. However, a persistent core of critics (myself included) argue both his political ideology and his policy record were badly mistaken.

As T.A. Frank writes, this raises a question: How will the party and its 2020 contenders deal with Obama? Will they defend his legacy, forthrightly debate its shortcomings, or just ignore the issue entirely? I would bet a large sum that most will choose Door No. 3 — but that the party will quietly abandon most of his signature ideas.

First, a quick précis of what is under discussion. The Obama stimulus package was less than half as big as it needed to be, meaning unemployment was at 10 percent in November 2010, sending Democrats to a massive defeat in the midterms. Obama’s foreclosure policy was a monumental catastrophe which crushed the wealth of middle-class homeowners — particularly African-American ones — to save the banks from their own fraudulent schemes. His corporate crime policy amounted to a near-halt of prosecutions of top white-collar crime, again largely to protect the banks.

Obama’s health-care reform, while a step forward in some ways, was poorly designed and failed to stop skyrocketing cost growth. His climate policy was timid and inexcusably slow — while at the same time he enabled enormous growth of U.S. oil and gas drilling. He also made excuses for torture and largely embraced the Bush security apparatus — even extending it in places, like dragnet surveillance and assassinating American citizens.

Obama apologists typically deal with these problems in one of three ways. One strategy is to ignore them in favor of his positive record, which to be fair is pretty substantial. Jonathan Chait points to the stimulus, some moderate corporate regulation (Dodd Frank), and modest tax hikes on the rich as evidence he is basically just like FDR. Another strategy is slanted arithmetic: Michael Grunwald says the stimulus was as big as the New Deal in inflation-adjusted dollars, which is true but leaves out overall economic size, which is far more telling since the point of that spending was to restore full employment at the time it was passed. The Recovery Act spending was 5.7 percent of 2008 output, while the New Deal was 40 percent of 1929 output. A final strategy is just to point at Obama’s popularity among Democrats (95 percent approval) as speaking for itself, as former administration staffer Jon Favreau does here.

I would guess that of the three, this final strategy will be the one that actually prevents any very searching debate over Obama’s failures. Bringing that topic up online always creates an instant snarling fight between critics and the vastly more numerous legions of die-hard Obama partisans. For a candidate to do it would distract from their upcoming campaign and likely polarize Democratic loyalists against whatever a critic was saying, regardless of content. Even Bernie Sanders has become hesitant to obliquely criticize the Democratic Party as such, because of the instant backlash from Obama fans.

However, that’s not the end of the story. The very terrain of political and policy debate among Democrats in 2019 is a tacit admission that the Obama presidency was a wrong turn to a great degree. Instead of building on the clearly lousy ObamaCare exchange model, most presidential candidates so far have endorsed Medicare-for-all, or at least the idea of expanding Medicare and Medicaid. Elizabeth Warren wants to give workers 40 percent of corporate board seats — which is hugely more radical than anything Obama ever did or proposed. Kirsten Gillibrand supports universal paid leave and postal banking, instead of Medicare and Social Security cuts to reduce the deficit. Cory Booker is talking about a quasi-social wealth fund for children, instead of tax cuts for companies who hire domestically. Kamala Harris is proposing big income boosts for the working and middle class. Even Joe Biden is considering free college.

The turn away from Obama-style policy can also be seen in what gets attention now. The new hotness in tax policy is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s 70 percent top marginal tax rate — over 30 percentage points above its highest rate during the Obama years. Instead of a disastrous “all of the above” energy policy, Democrats are debating how to slash domestic oil and gas production with a Green New Deal.

Politically, most Democrats have quietly abandoned Obama’s asinine notion that America is crying out for a return to bipartisanship — in favor of the clearly correct view that defeating Republicans is what matters. Even the Democratic rank and file have ditched their traditional attachment to compromise, apparently radicalized by the ongoing disaster of the Trump presidency.

So while nobody is likely to want to hash out Obama’s indefensible handouts to bankers or drill-baby-drill energy policy over the next two years, the political debate will still proceed as if everyone agrees they were a bad idea. Because they were.

Muslim women raise their voices in unison at Women’s March

‘From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go,’ demonstrators chanted (MEE/Ali Harb)

WASHINGTON – They chanted. They shouted. They danced. With their bright blue hijabs, they were difficult to miss.

Dozens of Muslim women joined thousands of protesters at the Women’s March in Washington on Saturday to protest against what they say are President Donald Trump’s unjust policies targeting their communities as well the wider public.

Their presence was conspicuous and drew praise from fellow protesters who joined their contingent to show unity. 

Blocks away from the White House, the women chanted in support of Black Lives Matter, refugees and democracy, calling on Trump to “move” and “get out the way”.

“From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go,” they sang together.

The chanting grew louder, angrier and more animated as the protesters passed the Trump Hotel along the route of the march.

Jinan Shbat, outreach manager at the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), lauded the energy of the marchers, calling it “empowering”.

“It’s absolutely amazing, seeing all these people here supporting each other,” she said. “This administration has been seeking to divide us for two years, and I feel like every year we just come back stronger.”

‘It’s absolutely amazing seeing all these people here supporting each other,’ Jinan Shbat says (MEE/Ali Harb)

Shbat said Trump’s travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries remains a major worry for women in the community, many of whom are struggling to unite with their families.

“Here in the United States, on top of that, the rhetoric that the president has been spreading about Muslims has been hurting visibly Muslim women,” she added.

“If our president allows the hate to continue, unfortunately, Muslims tend to be the main target.”

Protesters denounce the Muslim ban (MEE/Ali Harb)

Wafa May Elamin, a 26-year-old Sudanese American demonstrator, said she was personally affected by the ban, which made her feel unwelcome. Sudan appeared on Trump’s first executive order, but was later dropped in revised versions of the ban.

Still, Elamin said she was heartened by the solidarity of the gathering.

“If I was to define ‘support’ it would be this – the Women’s March,” she told MEE.

‘It was important to us to make sure we were here as a visible force,’ Linda Sarsour says (MEE/Ali Harb)

As the protesters gathered before the march, prominent Muslim activist Linda Sarsour urged the women to be proud of their faith and contributions to society in the United States.

It was important to us to make sure we were here as a visible force, to make sure that people do not ignore us, do not erase us from the conversation, that no one talks about Muslims without Muslims, and to show that we are also unapologetic about our identities and that we are also part of the feminist movement in America,” she told MEE.

Roudah Chaker enthusiastically led chants for social justice (MEE/Ali Harb)

Draped in a Palestinian keffiyeh, young activist Roudah Chaker enthusiastically shouted slogans through a megaphone. She said she was at the march to fight for the rights of Arabs, Muslims, African Americans and all marginalised people in the US.

“They all connect, because everybody is being oppressed by the same president,” she told MEE between rounds of chants. “The government is oppressing all these people, and all these people need to have rights in this country.”

Lorie Hershberger, a therapist from Michigan, echoed the tone of solidarity, saying she becomes emotional when she thinks about the bigotry against Muslims in the US.

“We have a lot of Muslims in our community in Michigan, and they are wonderful people,” she said.

Many posters called for toppling the president (MEE/Ali Harb)

One woman marched with a sign that echoed Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s call to “impeach the mother****er”, referring to Trump. The latter part of the word, however, appeared in Russian – a nod to the ongoing investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.

Trump, who regularly uses name-calling against opponents, had hit back against Tlaib, calling her comment “disgraceful”.

Asked about Trump’s remarks, the demonstrator answered without words, shaking her head with an incredulous look.

Nikki Lavailey, a 23-year-old marcher who works in the health-care industry, held a sign featuring new members of Congress from various ethnic backgrounds, including Ilhan Omar, a Somali American Democrat who first came to the US as a refugee.

In November, Omar and Tlaib became the first Muslim women to be elected to Congress, joining a wave of fellow women of colour who emerged victorious in last year’s midterm election.

“I just think for America, this is a time when we need women to step into a place of power and make the choices for us,” Lavailey said.

On Saturday, demonstrators held signs ridiculing the president, often poking fun at his dishonesty, relationship to Russia’s Vladimir Putin and his comb-over hairdo.

Many held small unflattering effigies portraying Trump, modeled after the giant balloon that was flown over the London during the US president’s visit to the UK.

‘Women are the ones who are the most hurt by wars,’ Code Pink co-founder says (Ali Harb/MEE)

The march featured a myriad of ideologies and demands ranging from denouncing Trump and condemning racism to promoting equal pay and reproductive rights for women.

On the edge of the demonstration, a few Uighur women waved the light blue flag of the autonomous region of Xinjiang, where the Chinese government has rounded up as many as 1 million Muslims and detains them in concentration camps.

Demonstrators from Code Pink, a women-led anti-war activist group, called for peace and the rejection of Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico.

Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink, said that opposing US foreign wars is a women’s issue.

“Women are the ones who are most hurt by wars,” she told MEE. “They’re the ones who have to keep the families together once men go off to war… Women are the ones who suffer when the budget goes into the military and is not there for the families’ needs, like health care and a good education system.”

Women’s March in Wilkes-Barre preaches empowerment

Volunteers from Planned Parenthood, Kara Dooner and Kayla Otero, talk about the new location of Planned Parenthood in Wilkes-Barre and the different services that are available. –

Constanza Pinero, 17 of Kingston takes a moment to herself before the start of the NEPA Women’s March in Wilkes-Barre Saturday morning.
Amanda Hrycyna|For Times Leader –

A woman in a crowd of supporters holds up her sign while listening to speakers before the start of the Nepa Women’s march Saturday morning.
Amanda Hrycyna|For Times Leader

A large group marched from Kirby Park in Wilkes-Barre to the Public Square during Northeastern Pennsylvania version of the Women’s March on Saturday. – –

Natalie O’Meara, 5, of Wilkes-Barre, looks at her sign during the Women’s March event held at Kirby Park in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday morning. – –

A large group marched from Kirby Park in Wilkes-Barre to the Public Square during Northeastern Pennsylvania version of the Women’s March on Saturday. – –

A woman in a crowd of supporters holds up her sign while listening to speakers before the start of the Nepa Women’s march Saturday morning.
Amanda Hrycyna|For Times Leader
– –

Volunteers from Planned Parenthood, Kara Dooner and Kayla Otero, talk about the new location of Planned Parenthood in Wilkes-Barre and the different services that are available. – –

Natalie O’Meara, 5, of Wilkes-Barre, looks at her sign during the Women’s March event held at Kirby Park in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday morning. – –

Constanza Pinero, 17 of Kingston takes a moment to herself before the start of the NEPA Women’s March in Wilkes-Barre Saturday morning.
Amanda Hrycyna|For Times Leader – –

WILKES-BARRE — Women are not alone – that was the common theme of participants who attended the Women’s March at Kirby Park on Saturday.

“The turnout is pretty amazing,” said Alisha Mae Hoffman-Mirilovich, president of Action Together NEPA. “Women are not alone. It’s important to have local rallies and be visible in the community so people know they are not alone.

“You have empowerment being in a group. I think that’s the biggest message anyone can take away from this.”

The threat of impending snow may have deterred some, but more than 200 women, men and children marched from Kirby Park to Public Square and listened to a host of topics that are at the forefront in today’s political climate.

It was just one of many marches held around the country.

For people who couldn’t attend, Hoffman-Mirilovich had one message:

“We want them to know they are not alone. We are here representing them and that we have similar values.”

“Three is a crowd,” said Dr. Lynn Coslett-Charlton, of OB GYN Associates, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ National Committee on Government Affairs. “The only people that belong in my exam room is me and my patient. There’s no more important relationship than between a patient and her gynecologist and no one can argue that. Legislators don’t belong in there with us.”

“Most of the health care problems we’ve faced have been involved with patient doctor confidentiality,” the 15-year women’s healthcare advocate noted. “Sadly political ideologies are trying to restrict it, and women’s access to health care.”

Another issue raised during the rally was gun violence and its effect on women in America.

“Gun violence is a women’s issue,” said Shari Jacobson, a professor a Susquehanna University. “We need to end this toxic mix of domestic abuse and gun violence.”

Jacobson noted domestic violence and mass shootings as two main factors for gun violence affecting women.

In her speech, Jacobson said that 53 percent of women killed by guns are killed by an intimate partner or a family member. She said African American women are two times as likely to be killed by gun violence.

With more than 30,000 volunteers in chapters in all 50 states, MOMS Demand Action is a non-partisan group that implores lawmakers to improve the nation’s gun laws. Jacobson’s chapter covers Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and Union counties but hopes to add Luzerne County to the list.

One woman in attendance said she hopes that local, state and federal legislatures – especially newly elected women in Congress – help to pass laws that not only help women but help everyone.

Volunteers from Planned Parenthood, Kara Dooner and Kayla Otero, talk about the new location of Planned Parenthood in Wilkes-Barre and the different services that are available.

Constanza Pinero, 17 of Kingston takes a moment to herself before the start of the NEPA Women’s March in Wilkes-Barre Saturday morning.
Amanda Hrycyna|For Times Leader

A woman in a crowd of supporters holds up her sign while listening to speakers before the start of the Nepa Women’s march Saturday morning.
Amanda Hrycyna|For Times Leader

A large group marched from Kirby Park in Wilkes-Barre to the Public Square during Northeastern Pennsylvania version of the Women’s March on Saturday.

Natalie O’Meara, 5, of Wilkes-Barre, looks at her sign during the Women’s March event held at Kirby Park in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday morning.

A large group marched from Kirby Park in Wilkes-Barre to the Public Square during Northeastern Pennsylvania version of the Women’s March on Saturday.

A woman in a crowd of supporters holds up her sign while listening to speakers before the start of the Nepa Women’s march Saturday morning.
Amanda Hrycyna|For Times Leader

Volunteers from Planned Parenthood, Kara Dooner and Kayla Otero, talk about the new location of Planned Parenthood in Wilkes-Barre and the different services that are available.

Natalie O’Meara, 5, of Wilkes-Barre, looks at her sign during the Women’s March event held at Kirby Park in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday morning.

Constanza Pinero, 17 of Kingston takes a moment to herself before the start of the NEPA Women’s March in Wilkes-Barre Saturday morning.
Amanda Hrycyna|For Times Leader

Reach Dan Stokes at 570-991-6389 or on Twitter @ByDanStokes

Ariana Grande Mum On Allegedly Ripping Off Nokia for ‘7 Rings’

Ariana Grande Mum On Allegedly Ripping Off Nokia for ‘7 Rings’

1/19/2019 11:51 AM PST


11:40 AM PT — Ariana’s single, “7 Rings,” has apparently broken a streaming numbers record — the most streamed song on Spotify within the first 24 hours, according to her manager Scooter Braun

She still hasn’t directly responded to the accusations of ripping off Princess Nokia and other black artists for her new track, but it seems like people are digging the song regardless. 

Ariana Grande smiled but had nothing to say about claims she ripped off another artist in the creation of her latest song, “7 Rings.”

We got Ariana Friday night in L.A. leaving Rockwell Table and Stage, and had nothing to say about Princess Nokia‘s claim the lyrics to “7 Rings” are way too similar to her song, “Mine,” from her mixtape “1992.”

Ariana’s lyrics — “My wrists, stop watchin’, my neck is flossin’ / Make big deposits, my gloss is poppin’ / You like my hair? Gee, thanks, just bought it / I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it.”

Nokia’s lyrics — “Rock my many styles then go natural for the summer / Hair blowing in the Hummer / Flip the weave, I am stunner / It’s mine, I bought it / It’s mine, I bought it.”

Ariana perks up a little when we congratulate her on Coachella, waving as she drives away in the night.

Originally Published — 7:36 AM PST 

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