Articles & Op-Eds

No sign Nancy Pelosi to follow Miller, Waxman to retirement

January 29, 2014

The departure of veteran California Democrats Henry Waxman and George Miller within the last two weeks is fueling speculation in Washington that Nancy Pelosi's departure could soon follow. As the National Journal put it, "It's clear she's not long for Congress." Democratic aides said nothing could be less clear. One aide who has worked closely with Pelosi said anyone who speculates about the plans of the first female House Speaker, now minority leader and 27-year representative of San Francisco… Continue Reading

Rep. Lee on Congress: It's Time the People Saw Who These People Are

January 29, 2014

There's a 78-million-person-gap going on in the U.S.A. and it needs to be bridged soon or the S in U.S.A. will stand for Shell, as in the United Shell of America. The number is not random. According to Forbes 111 million and change are expected to watch this year's Stoner Bo... , eh, Super Bowl Sunday February 2. Thirty-three million and change watched President Obama's State of the Union Address on Tuesday, January 28, 2014. Thus, 78 million more people will tune in to a football … Continue Reading

Liberal Democrats Seek to Extend Benefits Mandates

January 28, 2014

Liberal Democrats are looking to beef up benefits for part-time workers who face hurdles in finding full-time gigs in a sluggish economy. Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, vice chairwoman of the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee, has been promoting a "bill of rights" for part-time workers that would mandate extending benefits similar to those provided to full-time workers. It would provide most part-time workers with employer-mandated coverage under the health care law and increase acc… Continue Reading

Pro-Choice Congress Members Denounce ‘Extreme’ Anti-Choice Bill

January 28, 2014

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), joined by pro-choice members of Congress and U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), gathered at the Capitol Visitor Center on Wednesday to denounce HR 7, the anti-choice bill passed by House Republicans on Tuesday, just hours before President Barack Obama arrived at the Capitol to deliver his annual State of the Union message. The president made no mention of the bill, or of the legislative assault on women's rights, during his hour-long speech, instead focusi… Continue Reading

House passes bill to further restrict federal dollars for abortions

January 28, 2014

The Republican-led U.S. House approved a bill that would impose tighter restrictions on federal payments for abortions and sent it to the Democratic-led Senate. The 227-188 vote Tuesday was mainly along party lines, with six Democrats voting yes, one Republican voting no and another voting present, the New York Times reported. "Here we go again," Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif. "It's another battle in the war on women." Republicans, dogged by accusations that they are hosti… Continue Reading

Closing wealth gap tops Obama’s State of the Union

January 28, 2014

WASHINGTON - President Obama, in his 2014 State of the Union speech here last night, defined narrowing of the unprecedented wealth gap in America as a major task facing the nation. He delivered what was essentially a call for progressive approaches on a host of issues that he passionately argued were needed to keep alive the "American dream," while having to navigate through political channels heavily circumscribed by far-right Republican obstructionism. "No one who works full t… Continue Reading

The Promise of Transpartisanship

January 28, 2014

On Tuesday, Americans will tune in to watch President Obama's fifth State of the Union Address. The annual ritual, with its pomp and circumstance, has become an almost grotesque visual of a gridlocked Washington. The president's party will cheer. The opposition will jeer. A Supreme Court justice might sneer. Since President Obama took office, the partisan rancor has only intensified, reaching its ugliest point in 2009, when Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) shouted at the president, "You lie!" Things ha… Continue Reading

Obama's Toughest Audience in the State of the Union: Fellow Democrats

January 27, 2014

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Barack Obama will appeal directly to the American people to shore up support for his ambitious second-term foreign-policy goals. But the audience the president really needs to win over is his nominal Democratic allies on Capitol Hill, who've shown a recurring willingness to buck the White House on a number of key foreign-policy initiatives. For instance: A sizable chunk of Democrats in Congress oppose the president's sanctions polic… Continue Reading

Brooklyn Native Shirley Chisholm to be Honored on Postage Stamp

January 27, 2014

Shirley Chisholm's portrait hangs at Brooklyn Borough Hall, right next to the nation's founding father. Appropriate, because Chisholm was also a first. In 1968, Chisholm was the first black woman elected to Congress where she served seven terms. The Bedford Stuyvesant resident was also the first African American man or woman to make a serious run for president in 1972. Now nine years after her death, the United States Postal Service will issue a Shirley Chisholm forever stamp. "It&… Continue Reading

House Votes to Restrict Payments for Abortion

January 27, 2014

The House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to impose tighter restrictions on federal payments for abortions, thrusting the issue of a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy into the polarizing politics of an election year. The bill stands no chance of being passed by the Democratic-controlled Senate. But that mattered little to members of both parties, who seemed to relish the chance to accuse their opponents of blatantly twisting the issue to their political advantage. The House vote was 2… Continue Reading

Reaction to State of the Union mixed in CA: "hopeful," "disappointing"

January 27, 2014

Reaction is mixed tonight from around California regarding President Obama's call for a "year of action" in his State of the Union address, with some base groups expressing disappointment, and Democratic elected officials reliably praising his initiatives. Republicans, of course, had some tough words. Here's some excerpts from the reaction: *US Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-CA:"The president delivered a hopeful speech that should serve as a rallying cry for the American people and send a direc… Continue Reading

Stephens: Kurt Vonnegut's State of the Union

January 26, 2014

The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General. -From " Harrison Bergeron " (1961), a short sto… Continue Reading

Obama’s big speech: Banging base drum

January 26, 2014

When President Obama steps to the podium in front of the Speaker's chair Tuesday night, the speech he delivers will contain the most liberal promises and activist rhetoric of his presidency, progressives hope and Republicans worry. Liberals say both good policy and electoral logic dictate a sharp move left. They do not want to hear him seeking compromise ahead of midterm elections that are likely to be decided on turnout. November will hinge on which side best fires up its base. So progressiv… Continue Reading

Congressional caucus takes up activism: Black lawmakers stake out agenda

January 25, 2014

In a Congress likely to be steeped in the politics of midterm elections, the Congressional Black Caucus said it will continue to fight for issues important for communities of color. "We all know that 2013 was one of the least productive years in the history of the Congress," said CBC Chair Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) in a press call on Jan. 15. "Yet, the Congressional Black Caucus diligently worked on a number of issues and was successful in influencing policies that benefitted our communities a… Continue Reading

Pelosi, Lee and Speier tout women's agenda in San Francisco

January 21, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO -- With November's midterm elections looking dicey, Democrats are touting their effort to improve the economy by providing equal protections and new opportunities for working women -- one of the party's most loyal voting blocs. "This is a time when we have a need, an urgency and an opportunity to change the environment in which we can enable women to succeed," House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said at an event Tuesday touting her party's "When Wome… Continue Reading

Resistance to sales of post offices grows nationwide

January 21, 2014

NEW YORK - The U.S. Postal Service is facing entrenched resistance to its selling of historic post offices, with lawmakers inserting their call for a moratorium on the sales in the recently passed omnibus spending bill. From California to Connecticut, communities have been opposing the sales, accusing the agency of ignoring federal preservation guidelines and not allowing enough time for public comment. Reps. Jose E. Serrano, D-N.Y., and Barbara Lee, D-Calif., who have post offices for s… Continue Reading

Shelby Democrats Manage a Show of (Relative) Unity

January 18, 2014

In the Tennessee General Assembly, 200-odd miles to the east in Nashville, Democrats are little more than a trace presence. But in Shelby County, as was made obvious at the Democrats' annual Kennedy Day dinner Saturday night, the local party can still manage a healthy turnout - enough, in any case, to fill the ballroom floor at the Bridges building downtown. The annual fundraising affair began with several homages to late party icon Lois DeBerry, who served for more than 40 years in the once De… Continue Reading

Congressional Black Caucus Faces Tough Battles in 113th Congress

January 16, 2014

In a Congress likely to be steeped in the politics of this year's midterm elections, the Congressional Black Caucus said it will continue to fight for issues important for communities of color. "We all know that 2013 was one of the least productive years in the history of the Congress," said CBC Chair Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) in a press call on Jan. 15. "Yet, the Congressional Black Caucus diligently worked on a number of issues and was successful in influencing policies that benefitted our c… Continue Reading

Thanks to Congress, Berkeley's main post office may get a reprieve

January 16, 2014

The House Appropriations Committee, in its recommendations accompanying the $1.1 trillion omnibus appropriations bill passed by the House Wednesday, calls for the United States Postal Service to "suspend the sale of any historic post office" pending the completion of an investigation by the Inspector General into whether the USPS is following the requirements of the National Historic Preservation Act. This could mean the sale of the downtown Berkeley Post Office, a landmarked building at 2000 A… Continue Reading

Thanks to Congress, Berkeley's main post office may get a reprieve

January 16, 2014

The House Appropriations Committee, in its recommendations accompanying the $1.1 trillion omnibus appropriations bill passed by the House Wednesday, calls for the United States Postal Service to "suspend the sale of any historic post office" pending the completion of an investigation by the Inspector General into whether the USPS is following the requirements of the National Historic Preservation Act. This could mean the sale of the downtown Berkeley Post Office, a landmarked building at 2000 A… Continue Reading

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